Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - Volume 3, Number 6 – Updated: September 10, 2012

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project – All Rights Reserved


Democratic National Convention Review Briefs – Updates Through Convention


·         DNC First Night Conventionally Strident, First Lady a Hit – Review and Readers’ Comments

·         DNC Second Night Strident Again, Clinton Soars – Review and Readers’ Comments

·         DNC Third Night Ends in Doubt – Review and Readers; Comments



Saturday, September 8, 2012 - Volume 3, Number 6 – Edition 3

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

Democratic Convention Ends In Doubt

President Obama in 2012  a Faded Version of 2004


The third night of the Democratic convention is now so yesterdays’ news – literally and in the new 21st century sense of the phrase, so we won’t bore you with a repetition of the amply repeated details of Thursday night.  Yet, there is something to learn from this most watched night (36 million TV viewers) of both major parties’ conventions.  While the UWF&R was having its own little convention Thursday night (coincidentally- yet quite inadvertently, and inconveniently, scheduled for the same night as the last day of the national party conventions), the president of the United States, Barak Hussein Obama, made his modestly anticipated pitch for his re-election.  (We say modestly because Bill Clinton’s speech the night before set the bar so high, it was hard to imagine even Barack Obama reaching it, let alone clearing it.)  


Before our own little UWF&R ‘town hall’ was over, the president’s speech was, and set a new record on Twitter for the number of what are called ‘tweets’ per minute.  “Tweets.”  Rarely does a word sound and read so much like what it is; in this case, usually a superfluous, reactionary blurt.  Would the president be proud he provoked so much of it?  A media scholar (yet another new term) was quoted to say that President Obama “spoke in segments that are perfect for YouTube."  If this was a way of saying that Mr. Obama’s speech was mostly a string of insubstantial snippets of his vision, we would have to agree.  One after another the president rolled them out, often nothing but aspirations that seemed more like pie in the sky dreams than inspiring views of the future:


We're offering a better path- a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that's right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.


It sounded too reminiscent of ‘I will close Gitmo within a year, and cut the deficit in half in four years, and the stimulus will create 3.5 million jobs…’ and so on. The speech simply rang empty, and the man before us was far away from the one who had people jumping to their feet when he impressed the whole country at his national debut at the Democratic convention in 2004. 


Now, the president did have legitimate claims of success that he could tout, and he did tout them.  In one of the stronger parts of his speech, he made the case for his national security credentials:


Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have. We've blunted the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al-Qaida is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.


Yet, even here, where he could point to a moment of golden success, when the inflection of his voice should have made his words come down like a HAMMER (!), it instead allowed them to be merely be set down like a carefully-placed paperweight.  In that moment, a moment of lost opportunity, the sense of the whole speech was captured, and perhaps in turn, the sense of the lost opportunities of his first four years in office.


We think it was this that was weighing down the president Thursday night.  Many in the last 36 hours have used the expression “he mailed it in” to describe the president’s speech.  In fact, this phrase is more apt than even many of its employers may realize.  Often referring to the perfunctory performance of someone known to be capable of much more (and clearly, Obama has shown himself to be capable of much more), this expression also has another, lesser known meaning that may even be more true to what happened.  “Mailing it in” is sometimes used to also refer to an effort where the minimal was done so as to avoid facing accountability or a harsh truth, as in “mailing it in” rather than facing someone in person.  It may very well be that Barack Obama, a man known for his enormous self-assurance, and at the same time an able, rational thinker, could not come face to face with the truth of his real failures - with the wide gap between his impossibly optimistic fuzzy promises and the crystal clear reality of his broken ones.  And so, he “mailed it in.”  He kept himself apart from his words when these had to say things he knew he could no longer be sure of.  He kept himself apart from the cognitive dissonance that must come from being a man who was swept into the White House on one of the lightest political resumes in history, was breezily ordained the national expiator of racial sin, and was awarded the Noble Peace prize simply for being himself; and then found that out that not only could he not part the seas after all, this time the people are still waiting for him to deliver.


Reader Comments (In Order Received)


I hate to admit it, but I have to agree that wish Obama had been more effective in his speech.  We need him.

-Max Harding


Marco, Excellent. I read every single word and enjoyed it very much. And I enjoyed the conventions. I (truly) have nothing to add. You said it all so eloquently, so completely.

Thank you for taking the time to write and to share,

-Joaquin Arguelles


Your reviews were an unexpected bonus.  Thanks.

-Roberto Alvarez




Comments may be directed to contactproject@ultrapolisproject.com, or if you receive the newsletter email, also via a reply to the email address from which you receive it. 


© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project – All Rights Reserved.






Thursday, September 6, 2012 - Volume 3, Number 6 – Edition 2

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

Democratic Convention Tediously Strident, Again

Yet, Again Masterful Speech Caps Evening as Bill Clinton Shows How It’s Done


The tropes of abortion rights, free birth control, and all the other fronts of the so-called ‘war against women’ being allegedly waged by the Republicans, got a good, full-throttled second run.  However some of the claims were a bit hard to swallow for even some in the charged, partisan crowd.  More than one woman feminist speaker talked about Republicans “redefining rape.”  Of course, even the folks in the audience knew this was nothing more than a cheap and deceitful reference to the remarks made by Republican candidate for U.S. Senator from Missouri, Todd Akin, distinguishing between ‘merely’ statutory rape and violent rape.  Setting aside that his comments about what was “legitimate” rape meant exactly the opposite of what the convention speakers implied, practically the entire Republican party, to a person, disavowed not only Congressman Akin’s other ridiculous words on the biology of rape, but his candidacy as well. 


But, none of this really mattered compared to the eagerly awaited highlight of the night: the nominating speech by former President William Jefferson Clinton, eagerly awaited even by Republicans anxious to know what this old master of oratory would do – could possibly do - to help boost President Obama’s re-election prospects.  Well, to say that Bill Clinton delivered the nomination speech is not a fair and just description of what happened: he performed it – and he did it spectacularly.  For the last few days, with the Republican convention’s arguments rising up into and ricocheting within the media sphere, and Mr. Obama’s poll numbers descending into historic lows, more and more the question bantered in news and pundit shows on TV and radio was over how could the Obama campaign answer the question “are you better off now than four years ago?” Looking more fit and youthful than he had only a few months back, President Clinton showed the electrified folks at the convention, the weary Republicans, and the whole nation, how.


When Bill Clinton got done weaving his lengthy (and sometimes footloose) tapestry of arguments on why Barack Obama should be re-elected, it was as if someone had opened a door to a whole new horizon - a new way to look at the world ahead of us.  What up until this evening seemed to even Obama-friendly Democrats an opaque and increasingly elusive argument to make, the former president made brilliantly clear.  And, not just on why Obama would be the better choice, but why Obama is the obvious and only choice.  It was like watching the sand artist of America’s Got Talent fame, Joe Castillo, render his inspiring and poetic story-telling series of images in real time, surprising us at every turn with the clarity, even when we guess where he is headed, as each frame comes into full view.


The former president had many strong lines, but this excerpt captures his main line of argument:


In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple — pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in. . . . they convinced me they were honorable people who believed what they said and they’re going to keep every commitment they’ve made. We just got to make sure the American people know what those commitments are — because in order to look like an acceptable, reasonable, moderate alternative to President Obama, they just didn’t say very much about the ideas they’ve offered over the last two years.


They couldn’t because they want to [sic] the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place. They want to cut taxes for high-income Americans, even more than President Bush did. They want to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts. They want to actually increase defense spending over a decade $2 trillion more than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they’ll spend it on. And they want to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor children.

As another president once said, there they go again.


Now, I like — I like — I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. Here it is. He inherited a deeply damaged economy. He put a floor under the crash. He began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well- balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for innovators.


President Clinton quoted and showcased Republican presidents in support of his case, turning Republican arguments back on Republicans - always the mark of the expert and the wise. Moreover, he rolled off statistics and facts as he wove them into arguments in ways that were easy to grasp and exciting to hear, essentially dishing out to Obama supporters in less than an hour a polemical armament with which to defend the president, and attack his challengers.  Nothing was missing from this speech – not the great words, not the high emotion, not the truly energized crowd (well, perhaps complete accuracy was missing).  The only danger here is President Clinton eclipsing President Obama himself. 


Yesterday everyone was asking ‘how can the Democrats make their case?’  Thanks to Bill Clinton, today we know how.



Reader Comments (In Order Received)


IWow Antonio!  You never cease to amaze me!!.

-Bonnie Vaults


Yes, I agree that the ‘how to’ was the real value in the speech.  I told you I was looking forward to this, and I expected something good from Clinton, but was I was still surprised.

-Mark Thompson




Comments may be directed to contactproject@ultrapolisproject.com,

or if you receive the newsletter email, also via a reply to the email address from which you receive it.



© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project – All Rights Reserved.





Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - Volume 3, Number 6 – Edition 1

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

Democratic Convention Conventionally Strident

But Michelle Obama Rises to the Occasion in Masterful Speech


We suppose it must be just the new normal of scripted conventions that the red meat is amply dispensed on the first night of a national party convention.  If on their first night the Republicans featured a parade of Tea Party women and minorities touting the one core message: “small business über all,” the Democrats featured another parade of women and minorities – plus gays – to shout three blunt left-wing messages, two of them overstated charges: Romney and Ryan will repeal abortion rights rights as they declare war on women, will take away everyone’s safety nets and benefits, and gays should be able to marry. 


The claim about abortion was particularly exaggerated, and used as its key piece of evidence the conservative objection to forcing all entities to provide, totally free of charge to the beneficiary, birth control.  To hear some of the speakers, free birth control pills and condoms were at the base of all freedoms, human social order is teetering on the verge of total collapse without it, and those bowl of freebies found in sex clubs and Planned Parenthood clinics are actually part of the U.S. Constitution, right up there between freedom of speech and freedom of religion (emanating, of course). In one novel angle taken by one smug speaker, requiring these benefits be provided was defining of conservative, limited government.


Early on the crooked Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid of New Mexico, was his usual insipid self.  Close to the end, keynote speaker Julian Castro, the charismatic mayor of San Antonio, like Chris Christie at the Republican Convention, did his job about as well.  Actually, except for an occasional meat-laden bone thrown to delegates in the hall to keep them riled up, Mayor Castro spoke very much like a Republican, and the audience seemed to notice when he did (err, are we suppose to clap for that?).  In fact, one could say that Mr. Castro really embodied the new Hispanic Democrat, a far more culturally and economically conservative player that finds himself in the Democratic mostly because of the issue of illegal immigration.  In one of the many ironies of history, the liberal Democrats’ embrace of the Latin influx from the south may yet result in a party that soon becomes less friendly to blanket abortion rights, gay marriage, and high taxes, even as the Republican Party itself weakens.


The belle of the ball Tuesday night truly was First Lady Michelle Obama.  After listening to her, it became clear why she, and not the keynote speaker, closed the night.  Ms. Obama laid a rhetorical foundation by speaking eloquently, coherently, and beautifully, with effective and appropriate invocations of her and her husband’s personal life together, about the virtues and principles of the American dream; and then brilliantly and masterfully brought it back to the virtues and principles of the president, and what people had to do make American dreams become a reality for more (i.e. vote).  One of our favorite lines:


President Obama Barack knows the American dream because he's lived it.  And he wants everyone in this country, everyone to have the same opportunity no matter who we are or where we are from or what we look like or who we love.  And he believes that when you work hard and done well and walk through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.


No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.


It is a very difficult proposition to speak to a partisan convention crowd as well as the nation as a whole, and connect to both. Ms. Obama managed it like a pro. If any still-ambivalent but disappointed independent voters, or wavering disillusioned Democrats, were looking for some reassurance, some believable case, that there was still a reason to vote for the president’s re-election even in the wake of these last three sputtering years, and that the Obama’s do understand their main street lives, one Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama let them hear it.



Reader Comments (In Order Received)


I was looking forward to receiving the UWF&R. Great insight.

Becky and I watched the DNC last night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very very very convincing for people who are on the fence OR who know nothing about anything OR who are part of a minority and who believe that the government should give them stuff. The tribute to Senator Kennedy was powerful. For those that agree with his politics it must have been amazing.

Ms. Obama said "Today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are – it reveals who you are"  <---- As one who has been following the president, I found this particular statement to be a put-down (an insult) to this particular president and in no way complementary.

Thank you. I look forward to the next UWF&R.

-Joaquin Arguelles


Michelle Obama hit it out of the park!  Woohoo!

-Jennifer Robinson


Thanks for the note.  Looking forward to your reactions to Clinton tomorrow.

-Mark Thompson




Comments may be directed to contactproject@ultrapolisproject.com,

or if you receive the newsletter email, also via a reply to the email address from which you receive it.




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