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McCain: Does technological literacy matter?

A false premise and unwarranted ridicule …

Implicit in the story about John McCain’s technology illiteracy is a false premise: that those who do not use modern technological miracles cannot possibly understand the world, govern successfully or who are somewhat impaired in some undefined way.

This is sheer lunacy, perpetrated by a candidate that stands for nothing but change. Change which is never defined or linked to goals, but change nevertheless.

Unwarranted ridicule …

To poke fun at someone who does not seem to use the Internet is to be woefully ignorant of the facts.

One, place John McCain in any modern aircraft and he can instantly read all of the instrumentation and know what it all means. Barack Obama would probably look at the instrumentation as a hopeless jumble of dials, gauges and switches and then waffle on about his favorite subject: himself as the master of change.

Two, the Internet is merely another means by which you may take in information and communicate with others. Not only is a great deal of the Internet filled with false and misleading information, much of the content is not worth the time spent browsing various sites. It is somewhat like being dropped into a multi-million book library and walking the aisles looking at various offerings. Amusing for a while and then extremely tedious as time goes on.

Three, the Internet is another diversion from the urgent problems of today much in the same way television and music radio are temporary diversions from your daily routine or serve only as a backdrop to other activities.

And four, the Internet is not critical to receiving the news nor is e-mail critical to communicating with someone about important issues. McCain has assistants to filter his news and to distill what he sees in order to preserve the time necessary to take action. Unlike Obama who waffles on and on about change without ever having put forth a substantial piece of legislation or producing anything of substance, McCain has enacted significant legislation and demonstrated a bipartisan approach to governing. Obama has done neither – but I am pleased to note that he can browse the web and use e-mail.

Bottom line: one does not have to use e-mail to communicate or visit web sites to be fully informed. The idea that one must be able to operate advanced devices to govern is patently ridiculous. 

So articles like this one that appeared in London’s Daily Telegraph does more to define those who write the stories than those whom they condemn as being technologically illiterate.

“John McCain 'technology illiterate' doesn't email or use Internet”

“Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, has admitted that he never uses email and that his staff has to show him websites because he is only just ‘learning to get online myself’".

The real issue the Obama camp wants to highlight  is age …

“Mr McCain, who turns 72 this year, would be the oldest president ever to be first elected to the White House.”

“In facing Barack Obama, an opponent who is 25 years his junior and has made powerful use of the Internet in his campaign, he is battling against claims he is stuck in the past.”

On the subject of age …

In many cases, age translates to experience and knowledge; the wisdom that comes from having a broad perspective of history.

And there is the very large matter of human nature, which remains almost constant in its wants, needs, actions and behaviors.

One hardly needs a computer and access to the Internet or e-mail to govern any more than one needs to know how to set the times on a video recorder. These are technological skills that may be nice to have, but are totally unnecessary to either govern or deal with human nature.

And, in McCain’s case, age may preclude a second term which would allow both parties to readjust their attitudes and present candidates more suitable to the needs of America. A second chance for America to get it right.

The attack …

“The former US Navy pilot, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war after his jet was shot down over Vietnam, did himself no favors when asked by ‘The New York Times’ which websites he looks at.”

"’Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge,’ he said, referring to his aides Brooke Buchanan and Mark Salter, who direct him to the Drudge Report website.”

You can just imagine the scorn of the reporter and his disdain for the technologically illiterate…

“When asked if he went online himself, the Arizona senator responded: "They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself.”

"I don't expect to be a great communicator, I don't expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need - including going to my daughter's blog first, before anything else."

“After Mr McCain conceded that he did not use a BlackBerry or email, Mr Salter butted in to say: ‘He uses a BlackBerry, just ours.’ Mr McCain said: "I use the Blackberry, but I don't e-mail, I've never felt the particular need to e-mail.

"I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it.

More important than being able to send an e-mail …

"But I do - could I just say, really - I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that.”

"And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion."

Understanding the impact of technology is far more important than being able to twiddle (or should I say twitter) with it.

“Mr Obama always carries his BlackBerry with him and is often seen on his campaign plane tapping out emails. The Internet has been central to his candidacy, allowing him to establish a network of grassroots activists and attract small donations.”

How nice … 

Sending little personalized messages to motivate campaign staff and make large contributors feel important.

The fact that Obama’s camp has used the Internet for fund raising and organizing a grass roots community has nothing to do with Obama’s personal ability to send and receive e-mails.

As the Chief Technologist for a computer corporation, I can assure you that the design, operation and governance of his web operations is beyond his personal knowledge and comfort level. In many cases these operations are outsourced to specialized firms.

And, wait a minute, didn’t I read somewhere that Obama’s camp simply hijacked an extremely large MySpace fan base from a fan who diligently created and maintained it as an homage to Obama. 

According to the Associated Press …

“For the past two and a half years, the page has been run by an Obama supporter from Los Angeles named Joe Anthony. At first, that arrangement was fine with the Obama team, which worked with Anthony on the content and even had the password to make changes themselves.”

“But as the site exploded in popularity in recent months, the campaign became concerned about an outsider having control of the content and responses going out under Obama's name and told Anthony they wanted him to turn it over.”

“In this new frontier of online campaigning, it's hard to determine the value of 160,000 MySpace friends—about four times what any other official campaign MySpace page has amassed. But the Obama campaign decided they wouldn't pay $39,000, which is what Anthony said he proposed for his extensive work on the site, plus some additional fees up to $10,000.”

“MySpace reluctantly stepped in to settle the dispute and decided that Obama should have the rights to control http://www.myspace.com/barackobama as of Monday night, while Anthony had the right to take the contact information for all the friends who signed up while he was in control. That includes the right to tell them exactly how he feels about the Obama campaign.”

The MySpace flap goes to illustrate the difference between the arrogance of Obama, who needed to authorize the theft of a fan site in order to jump start his web-based grass roots organizing and fundraising, and McCain who seems like a decent and principled individual.

So before Obama’s crew waffles on about their technological prowess in using the Internet, perhaps they should give some credit to someone who apparently showed them how to use it.

“Last month, Mark Soohoo, deputy director of Mr McCain's e-campaign, was mocked for insisting: "You don't necessarily have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country." He also stated: "John McCain is aware of the Internet. This is a man who has a very long history of understanding on a range of issues."

“Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist with close ties to the Obama campaign, laughed heartily at Mr McCain's technological travails.”

"’It's just amazing,’ he told The Daily Telegraph. ‘It's very hard to even think about someone who doesn't know how to use the Internet. It's like, 'Really?' My five-year-old niece can use the Internet. She knows how to go to nickelodeon.com and play her games.’"

“’The interview could be politically damaging, he added. ‘The tough part is that if one of the concerns voters have is that you are out of touch with how they live, what they want, the problems they face, then this only reinforces that notion.’”

Perhaps Jamal wouldn’t be laughing quite so hard if …

... instead of concentrating on the amorphous concept of change and poking fun at McCain’s Internet skills, someone simply asked Jamal a few relevant questions.

Why is it that the black leadership has failed their core constituency in spite of the billions of dollars spent in supporting the black community?

Why is it that black students, ostensibly exposed to the Internet, do not have higher achievement scores than they did in the pre-Internet era?

Why is it that the black community has the highest incidence of single-parent families, children born out of wedlock and the highest internal crime rate of any other demographic?

And, instead of laughing at McCain’s computer skills, how about explaining why the black prison population far exceeds the demographic norms.

These are solid issues that need to be addressed by Obama and his handlers. Why is nobody asking him to justify why he is not dealing with these questions which do not have anything to do with technology and the ability to send e-mail or browse the Internet?

Perhaps if he put down his Crackberry for a moment, he might want to take the time to read a book. Hey, Jamal, why not start with “While African-Americans Slept: Leadership by Parasites” which is authored by Dr. Lenton Aikins.

If I could say anything to Jamal at this point in time, it would most likely be: put up or shut up – tell me exactly how you are going to change these severe and pressing problems using the Internet and e-mail. It seems the media lacks the guts for confrontation, fearing they might be cut out of the content generation that they need for their self-imposed 24/7 news cycle.

Closing with the age issue …

"He's a hero for what he did 35 years ago, but that doesn't necessarily make him the kind of president we want today. Here's somebody who is in many ways very disconnected from where people are."

I wonder if anybody really cares about McCain’s abilities when it comes to using the Internet … especially when he will be busy defending the America from her enemies, both foreign and domestic? Something that Barack Obama barely understands.

What can YOU do?

Do not be diverted from the basic issues of the campaign:

  • Defending the United States
  • Problems with energy independence
  • Problems with our economy
  • Problems with our crumbling infrastructure
  • Problems with our tax system

by those who waffle endlessly about a change which they refuse to define or attempt to divert your attention by age and technological prowess twaddle. Americans know what it important and need to hear from the candidates on substantive issues rather than the folderol about the Internet or a cartoon on a magazine cover.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” -- Ambrose Bierce

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

John McCain 'technology illiterate' doesn't email or use Internet|Telegraph

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