Thursday, October 28, 2010

© Copyright 2010, The Ultrapolis Project – May be used freely with proper attribution.  All other rights reserved.



·       New, Reformed Republican Party?

·       Will 2010 Reform President Obama?

·       Quote of the Week: NPR Ombudsman Inadvertently Exposes Bias?




Canada’s exhibition, above, was electric.  Below is Croatia’s eclectic entry.




Above:  Long lines wait to enter the USA pavilion.  Right: The ubber modernist, sharp-edged German pavilion.  Far right:  Wall of modern crystalline skyscrapers shadow World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Shanghai World Expo Shines

World Comes to Shanghai World Expo 2010


For the last six months, this Chinese city has hosted the largest international World Expo in the number of countries attending (242), and the size of the exhibition space (over 2 square miles) ever held to date.  It also set a record of over one million persons attending in a single day (so they say).  Then again, it is China. 


The expo’s motto “Better City, Better Life,” speaks to the aspirations of the Chinese people, an aspiration that is becoming realized for an increasing number since the 1980’s.  Until 1980, Shanghai was poorer and more backward than most any major third world city in the world.  Its buildings were old and decrepit, and no skyscrapers or tall buildings of any kind, save those built by Europeans in the 1800’s, existed within 1,000 miles of its center.  Today, it boasts a gleaming new city rivaling any in Europe, with a glittering skyline that boasts a menagerie of skyscrapers taller than that of any in New York City or Chicago.


While deep poverty remains prevalent among the majority that dwells in the countryside and smaller cities, it is much less present in the great cities of China, where China’s economic might is concentrated. 


The expo is set to end this month, with an estimated record 70 million visitors having crossed its gateway.  Though ‘world fairs’ have been taking place since the 1600’s, the first so-called world exposition was held in London in 1851.  They have been taking place at irregular intervals since then.  The last expo in the U.S. was the World’s Fair held in New Orleans in 1984.




Above, the gateway to the expo, expected to see 70 million cross its path from April to October 2010.  Below, the Romania pavilion, one of hundreds of stunning and whimsical entries. China had the largest pavilion, while Saudi Arabia’s many thought was the most beautiful.  Mexico’s pavilion had the pleasure of a visit by the reigning Miss Universe, who happens to be from Mexico. 






Will 2010 Bring Us a New, Reformed Republican Party?

What Republicans Believe Are the Lessons of the 2008 Elections


Liberal Hopeful Expectations Misplaced

In discussions these weekend with more than one acquaintance of politically (and otherwise) liberal inclinations, we’ve heard the hopeful desire that the electoral loss of 2008 would provoke a self-assessment from within the Republican Party that would result in a more “responsible,” and more “moderate” party.  (Frankly, we found this expectation surprising, given of the rise of the Tea Party.)


Let us put any hopeful illusions to this effect to rest:  This will not happen.  Not now.  Not in 2012. If there is any reformation, it certainly will not be in a direction that would please these liberals.  On the contrary, we predict the 2010 electoral gains by the Republicans will only reinforce ideological rigidity within the party (as to “responsibleness,’ that is in the eye the ideological beholder).  In fact, both parties have moved further from the center in the last decade, and barring some new technological development, will continue for the foreseeable future.


To hear many Republicans talk these days, the lessons of 2008 are not that Bushian anti-intellectualism and ‘compassionate conservatism’ failed.  Rather, it was that Bush and the Congressional Republicans were not true enough to conservative values, and that Democrats were allowed to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac afloat far too long.  There is some internal concession to Republican misconduct, corruption, and overspending, but this only reinforces further the idea coming from the more conservative wing and the Tea Party that more strict fiscal and moral restraints are needed in government, not fewer; and that moderate Republicans were complicit in the 2008 electoral losses.


More Informed, More Polarized Electorate

The electorate is more informed than it has ever been.  It is also more polarized than it has been since the 19th century.  The reason is the more open and exposed liberal tilt of major news media, the rise of conservative talk radio and Fox News, and the Internet.  We now live in a society where major facts, events, and points of discussion favorable to one side and widely disseminated to that side, are widely unknown by the opposing side, and vice versa.  Furthermore, there’s a growing refusal by either side to admit slanted coverage from their preferred news sources, or to concede any legitimacy to news items reported by the non-preferred (usually hated) sources.  (In our experience, NPR and Fox News are equally responsible and reliable in the accuracy of the facts they choose to cover, and differ mostly in what they choose to cover, and how they cover it.  But neither is known to present false facts, or to grossly misrepresent them.  But, both liberal and conservative readers will likely disagree with us on this – for opposite reasons.)


2011 will see an ideological divide in Washington D.C. that will be greater than what we saw back in the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, during Bill Clinton’s presidency.  What will make all the difference is the president himself.  For more on that, read below.


Quote of the Week

NPR Ombudsman Exposes Own Bias, Maybe NPR’s?


    …Williams did challenge O'Reilly's apparent contention that every Muslim on the planet is an extremist bent on attacking America.

Alicia C. Shepard, NPR Ombudsman

Oct. 21, on her NPR blog.


     Regrettably, her otherwise plausible defense of NPR’s decision to fire Juan Williams revealed an arguable sample of the alleged built-in bias in NPR thinking about Fox News generally, and Bill O’Reilly specifically.  Mr. O’Reilly can be somewhat of a provocateur, as Ms. Shepard says.  But, he has never contended, nor did he in the show in question contend anything like “every Muslim…is an extremist bent on attacking America.”  If anything, he repeatedly said that is not what he believes.  In a blog about how people need to be careful with their words, Ms. Shepard should have been careful with hers.  Following NPR’s CEO’s own unfortunate and unprofessional remarks about Mr. Williams (for which CEO Vivian Schiller did later retract with an apology), one has to wonder what has happened to NPR’s sense of propriety and self-restraint?


     NPR was probably within its rights to fire Juan Williams, if unfair and hypocritical.  The real problem for NPR is losing credibility with the center of the country, and its insular environment of like-minded people may be blinding NPR to it.  NPR does provide a valuable service to the country, but it does not have a right to its tax money.  Having its public funding questioned may turn out to be a healthy thing for it in the long run.

Will 2010 Reform President Obama?

What the 2010 Election Will do to, or for, Barack Obama’s Presidency


The First Two Years of Our Prediction Fulfilled

As we predicted two years ago, and re-stated at several instances since, the Obama presidency was to be a largely ineffective and a chaotic enterprise until after the elections of 2010.  We explained then that Obama’s inexperience left him hopelessly under-prepared for the very rigors of executive governance at the national level.  In February of this year, we reported coverage from leading intellectual liberal commentators that expressed great disappointment with Obama, and wondered openly about his competency.  We asked why was this a surprise to them.


To be sure, since then the president did manage to push through the landmark legislation on healthcare reform (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and its companion amending law, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010), as well as new important regulations of the financial and banking system (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act).  But, the first is mostly moot until 2014, and the second has offered no tangible benefits to the public at large.  Moreover, the hugely expensive stimulus efforts have not worked, while the costly cash for clunkers and the home buyers’ $8,000 tax credits produced temporary economic boosts that quickly evaporated when the programs ended (and by most accounts produced a snap back the other way in the automobile and home buying markets).  He has followed the Bush policies regarding engagements with terrorists in the field, and in Afghanistan, but no gains to show for it. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and the rest of the Middle East have not cooperated in his vision for a “reset” of relations – which made a point of separating itself from Bush’s foreign policy approaches, and of apologizing for America’s actions around the world.  High profile promises, like closing Guantanamo, remain glaringly unfulfilled.  Further undermining confidence in his ability to govern, he has lost several far-left advisers from his inner circle to scandal in the last few months, and his moderate pragmatist chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to discord within his administration.  The political landscape has turned so hostile to President Obama’s legacy so far, that fellow Democrats are openly running away from it, and even against it. 


What Obama Has in Store for the Next Two Years

There is one thing about Mr. Obama that is very different from his Democrat predecessor, Bill Clinton.  He is willing to risk his political future – and most certainly that of his political allies – to accomplish his goals, his vision, for America.  Whether he is being admirable, foolhardy, or even perhaps malignant, will be determined by the failure or success of his policies years from now.  But what does it mean for his presidency, and for the country, for the next two years, and in 2012?  It all depends on how he will react to the political landscape that he will face on November 3. 


As we said, we won’t be able to predict with great certainty until the days following November 3, how Obama will fare next, and we look to making a more concrete prediction in about two weeks.  But, it is our preliminary assessment here that Barak Hussein Obama will surprise us all come 2011, and beyond.  He is not like any political actor we have seen in the last fifty years, or perhaps since the founding of our republic.  He was a man of mystery when we elected him.  In a strange way, two years after being under the world’s brightest spot light, he remains even more mysterious – Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity’s pronouncements notwithstanding.  We believe that he has not revealed his full hand yet; that knew back in 2008 that he might lose big in 2010; that he knew he might not have the expertise to carry out his plans without major collateral damage to his party and his own re-election prospects, and made a calculated risk.  If so, he has already planned his next two years with the Republicans.  And, those next two years will be all about making the next phase possible in 2012.  We may change our prediction in two weeks, but at this time, we expect he will succeed.



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