Today is the 30th anniversary of the Moscone-Milk assassinations and, fueled by the upcoming release of the movie Milk, they’ve been all over the local airways.
For those not familiar with the basic story (I wasn’t before I moved to SF), City Supervisor Dan White quit his job, then asked to be reinstated. When Mayor George Moscone refused, White returned to city hall with a gun and murdered Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, who happened also be the first openly-gay elected official in the country. Another Supervisor, now-Senator Dianne Feinstein became mayor as a result of these killings.
An NPR show yesterday included a clip of Feinstein giving a dramatic press conference announcing the deaths. Much to my surprise, an original copy of that night’s newcast has found its way online.
The Feinstein press conference is at 2:10. Listen to the gasps. The 70′s production is jarring to look at now though, except for the cars, the shots of San Francisco could have been taken yesterday.
I couldn’t figure out whether this is an isolated clip or part of a larger collection. How cool would it be if all of NBC’s old newscasts were online?
Last we spoke, I swore to not pay attention to the news for a few months. How quickly the world changes when you’re not paying attention! I walked by a TV this afternoon and heard a general saying this:
We want to capture R. Kelly, the world’s most notorious terrorist.
I know R. Kelly is bad, but the world’s most notorious terrorist? It took me a minute to realize what the quote really was:
We want to capture or kill the world’s most notorious terrorist.
What does this say about me!?
I came to a realization last weekend while watching Mike Huckabee, Harold Ford, Jr. and various pundits discuss VP candidates on Meet the Press. We’re going to be hearing this exact argument for the next three months. I’ll care then. After the Oregon and Kentucky primaries tonight, I’m going to stop paying attention to the presidential race. There’s just not going to be any news of note until this fall. Why worry?
But before checking out for a few months, I’ve got one last Presidential Primary post left in me.
The question for the last few weeks has been “why is Hillary still in this race?” She can’t win a majority of pledged delegates, overall delegates, states, or votes (unless you use very strange definitions of who “counts”). Could she have something up her sleeve with Michigan and Florida?
According to Daily Kos, here was the delegate count at the end of the night:
Obama passed 1,622 pledged delegates tonight and claimed a majority. But that excludes Florida and Michigan. Florida had 185 delegates and Michigan had 156. To get an absolute majority of pledged delegates including Florida and Michigan, he’d need 1,622 + (185 + 156)/2 = 1792.5 delegates. With only 86 pledged delegates left, there’s no way he can make Florida and Michigan irrelevant.
Or so goes the argument. But what did those excluded Florida and Michigan actually look like?
I don’t know precisely how the “Uncommitted” delegates work, but I imagine they’d be under enormous pressure to vote for Obama at the convention. Add those in and you get:
So if you include the Florida and Michigan delegations, he hasn’t passed that magic mark, but he’s extremely close. And more interestingly, he’s the only one that can pass that mark. Hillary needs 113 pledged delegates for a majority, but there are only 86 left. This is because of the Edwards delegates.
If you don’t give Obama the 55 uncommitted delegates from Michigan though, he’s unlikely to pass the 50% mark, even by June 3. Could that be the trick? It seems a bit far-fetched. We’ll find out in three months when I start paying attention again!
FRONTLINE on PBS, the documentary series that takes on the tough, complicated issues and finds them… tough and complicated.
It’s rare for me to watch a documentary and conclude that it undereditorialized, but that’s exactly the reaction I’ve had to the first few episodes of this season.
First we had The Medicated Child, which looked at the rapid increase in drug prescriptions for ADHD and Bipolar disorder in children. Frontline’s approach was to follow several families that had either put their children on drugs or decided not to. Each family had widely varying reactions. One family felt that the drugs prevented their child from committing suicide. Another felt that the drugs had led directly to their child committing suicide. And so on. I doubt that these cases are typical, but with only a few stories in the show, it’s difficult to get any sense of proportion. The issue of what’s caused the increase in prescriptions, the issue I found most interesting going into the show, was hardly touched.
Then there was Growing Up Online, which purports to look at the increasingly prominent role of the internet in the lives of kids. I was really excited about this one since, unlike with most documentaries I see, I have very direct, personal experience with this issue. I was left with the distinct impression that I knew more about growing up online than the producers did. Once again, they followed a few extreme examples. One girl created an entire online world revolving around erotic, gothic pictures of herself. Another boy was driven to suicide by cyberbullying. These are interesting cases, but again, they are so rare that they throw off all sense of balance in the episode. The show was not without its strengths, however. Some of the kids had interesting perspectives on the role of the internet that I was able to relate to. And most interestingly, it showed me how growing up online has shifted since I did it. We had AIM and email when I was a kid, but most people didn’t have blogs and there was no Facebook. We had dialup. Going online was a decision. Nowadays kids have laptops, cable and wireless connections that are always on. Being online is no longer an experience, it’s just a given.
Finally we have Rules of Engagement, which looks at the incident in Haditha, Iraq. I was inspired to watch this by an interview with the director on On The Media, one of my favorite podcasts. Haditha is an especially thorny issue, even by FRONTLINE standards. The Marines say one thing. The Iraqi’s say something completely different. Several Marines have changed their stories, but only after being offered immunity to testify against one another. There’s essentially no physical evidence. It’s just one man’s word against another’s. I certainly feel as though I understand the Haditha situation better after watching this documentary, but I have no idea who to believe.
I guess this is a problem inherent to the documentary. Is a mere data dump valuable? Is it possible? Is it better to editorialize explicitly and make an argument, or is it better not to take sides and only incidentally present a skewed or unbalanced view.
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know that FRONTLINE has left me wanting unqualified statements of fact. Maybe I’ll go read some math books…
The big news of the day is that John Edwards is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race. It’s not clear to me whether this helps Clinton or Obama. From what I can tell, Edwards’ main constituency was older, white men. In the past, men have tended to favor Obama, whereas older people have tended to favor Clinton. It will be interesting to follow the polls over the next few days.
One thing that’s certain about Edwards’ decision is that it’s a good one for the Democratic party. Because each state awards delegates proportional to its popular vote, he could have grabbed maybe 5-10% of the delegates. This would have almost certainly prevented either Clinton or Obama from getting a majority, and led to a brokered convention. Now, that could only happen if there were an exceptionally close delegate race.
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