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Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson
New York City, New York, USA
March 25
Fordham University
Paul Levinson's The Silk Code won the 2000 Locus Award for Best First Novel. He has since published Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002), The Pixel Eye (2003), The Plot To Save Socrates (2006), Unburning Alexandria (2013), and Chronica (2014) - the last three known as the "Sierra Waters trilogy". His science fiction and mystery short stories have been nominated for Nebula, Hugo, Edgar, and Sturgeon Awards. His eight nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), Cellphone (2004), New New Media (2009, 2013) have been the subject of major articles in the New York Times, Wired, the Christian Science Monitor, and have been translated into twelve languages. Paul Levinson has appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" (Fox News), "The CBS Evening News," the “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” (PBS), “Nightline” (ABC), and numerous national and international TV and radio programs. His 1972 album, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was re-issued in 2010. He reviews the best of television in his blog, and was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Top 10 Academic Twitterers" in 2009. Paul Levinson is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City


Editor’s Pick
MARCH 24, 2009 9:46PM

Obama: Speaking When You Know What You're Talking About

Rate: 22 Flag

I thought the high point - in terms of communication policy - of President Obama's press conference, just concluded, was his response to a jibe from CNN's Ed Henry about why Obama took a few days to express his outrage over the AIG bonuses. Obama's response: "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Good for Obama - refreshing in a President and a politician.

Obama also showed an admirable sensitivity in his answer about adult vs embryonic stem cell research: he takes no pleasure in stirring up controversy. If and when science can provide through adult stem cells, what it currently can through embryonic, then Obama would be happy to go the adult stem cell route - as would everyone.

As for the economy, Obama stood his ground about not sacrificing health care, new energy sources, and other key steps to a better America, on behalf of keeping spending down.

And, although Obama didn't explicitly say this, I will: balancing the budget is not the most important goal of the Federal government. Instead, as FDR and John Maynard Keynes realized, and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has been repeatedly urging, the goal should be to spend as much money as needed to reboot the economy. Once that happens - as Obama did say - then all the other financial problems, including the budget deficit, will be more easily resolved.

The United States of America, after all, is neither an individual nor a company. Not even a municipality. We have never gone bankrupt, nor will we - unless we allow the country to get browbeaten by pursuit of balanced budgets.


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press conference, keynes, obama

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Uh. Exactly where were these guys who are all concerned about a balanced budget when Obama's inept predecessor spent us into the sewers, both in cash and in bodies?
Exactly to both of you! The adults are now home, and this is what responsible action looks like.
I actually applauded the TV set when he said that "It took me a couple of days" line. I also loved the whole---OK---show me YOUR budget line--Like Bill said. the grownups are now in charge.
Incidentally, whenever I went to my Dad with a complaint, he used to say to me, before you complain, at least have a suggestion for a solution. I thought the budget thing was brilliant too. Many devotees of the radio scream machine think that "boooo" is substantive dissent. It was beautiful to see the President say, you have to do more than boo.
Pitch perfect post. And comments too. Yeah.
Great post, Paul.
Yeah, thinking before speaking. What a concept!
Wow... A president who likes to know whereof he speaks in the first place! What an incredible change, and what an incredible relief. Wonders will never cease!

Re balanced budgets, funny the FIRST three quarters of this incredible deficit poured down the rat hole of the Iraq war didn't seem to bother the Republicans at all. But actually spending in a way that doesn't directly pamper rich people and they have the Lord of the Hissy Fits.
Rated and appreciated.
Kudos, I wrote a comical blog on it right after he said it.
I think the press is so used to dealing with Bush who just made shit up as he went along, they didn't expect a common sense reply.
That was my favorite line too...glad you made a whole post out of it because I think it is such a refreshing change of pace!
Great critique on the President's New Conference. And some terrific comments... I like Bill's "the adults are home now" ~ finally we have someone watching the store who knows how to do the necessary repairs.

I am feeling very good about this president--see my post about EPA's holding up all mountaintop removal coal mining permits yesterday.

Thanks for your analysis.
As bad as things are, I feel pretty OK (even though I'm a real pessimist) simply because yes, the adults are in charge again. The smart adults. The smart competent adults. The smart competent adults with good values. And most important - the smart competent adults with good values...who can admit they made a mistake. Which means if their initial ideas don't work, they will try something else rather than sticking with a failed plan and defending it as we circle the drain.
Nice post, and backed by a knowledge of Keynesian Economics! Nice comment by silkstone, too.
Obama seems to understand that you try things (after consideration) and if they dont work, you try something else. Unlike his predecessor in office, whose approach to everything has not matured since the days of being a Yalie cheerleader, Obama clearly gets the benefits of reflection on problems.
Good post Paul. Rated.
the president may stand his ground, but his ground is stepping on you and me face down in the mud. no tough questions were asked. i suppose at the next press conference the weekly reader will be there asking what his favorite color is. no questions on the afghan war, iraq, gitmo. how companies too big to fail are the companies are the companies that gave hundreds of thousands if not millions to the politicians who are so outraged. the president leading in the tally for there money. the government should just turn the fed and the treasury department over to goldman sachs. no comment on how the regulatory agencies and oversite rules are already in place but no one enforced them so now we need more regulations. i just hope the trillions already spent can start a few month trend that will show we are back on the road to recovery, making the trillions more the president wants to spend, seem outrageous. i get the "we inherited" argument, but does that mean that the democrats can spend twice or ten times that amount. it's nice to know tat the president plans on saving billions by changing the procurement process at the pentagon. i guess it helps when the guy in charge of procurement was the number one lobbyist for the fed chairman and secretary want additional power to seize companies too big to fail, when we already have a bankruptcy court. more thought went into what kind of dog to get. what a fucking joke.
MJ Gott: Just popping in here to note that your post shows, once again, how Obama's opponents seem incapable of presenting an argument without descending into insult and obscenity. Which, of course, is due to the fact that your argument lacks any evidence or logic.

This is an observation I've been making for a while, and I appreciate your confirmation of it.
professor levinson,
do you really think so? i thought i was on to seem like a really cool guy and i bet your students really enjoy you. i was just making observations. the whole thing seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors, and i don't mean dope smoke and lines on a mirror. i don't think i insulted anyone , but i did use the word fuck. i have a question for you what would president obama have to do, say or not do make you change your opinion of him. thanks.
While I like this post and the comments, I feel that MJ was neither insulting nor obscene. What he offers is the most American characteristic of all and one that is oddly not tolerated by the right or the left: a dissenting opinion.
***** the last line should read do or not do to make you change.....
Really Mr. Levinson? Because I've been a big Obama supporter right along, I even lean heavily to the Socialist side of things but MJ Gotts questions seem pretty fair to me. It seems that the blinders necessary for a man like Mr. Obama to achieve the Presidency may have blinded him to economic common sense. Propping up an entirely unsound economic system by funneling Trillions of dollars through the very institutions that have caused the malady through some kind of unregulated freaky "trickle down" thing feels like we're getting pissed on again by Corporate Americas stranglehold of American politics....again!
That last line should have been.... You know with syntax and punctuation. Otherwise it's allright.
Obama is a snooze fest.

The AIG thing is baloney. He's picking up where Bush left off.

Bush gave us manageable debt while fighting a war which was admittedly -- an ill-advised war. Funny how every Democrat in Clintons cabinet agreed with it until 6 years later when election time rolled around.

No doctor worth his salt supports socialized medicine, since they know the gov't will tell them what fees they can charge for what.

And this anti-business president is what is keeping this economy from doing anything except shedding more jobs.

Keynes is a 100 year old quack. FDR's plan did not work. If you call 10 years of 25% unemployment and then getting US involved in WW2 -- for a 'war jobs' economy; all to then set up a 50 year old cold war; not to mention tens of millions dead in the process a success -- then what the hell is failure to you people?

Then there was the 70's -- mired by hyper-inflation both in engalnd and under Carter's America.

I guess I shouldn't expect more from the lesbain/gay, old hippys, new hippys crew.
He waited 2 days because he had no idea what to do or say.

He had to wait for the media to queue up outrage among the lemmings in order to ride the bandwagon point the stick at "greedy executives". All the while he agreed to this deal all along.
Thank you Nick for raising the level of the debate with your comments on the contributors to OS (by the way that was something called sarcasm).