Monday, February 26, 2007

Candidates:Who is the hippest of them all

I looked at the web sites of the leading contenders in each of the major parties to see who was the hippest in terms of using technology to gather support for their campaigns. In particular, who is reaching out to the younger crowd on their home page. I put them in three categories:

High--very hip
John Edwards (blog; YouTube videos; graphic available for websites; updates for cell phones; presence on MySpace, facebook, flickr and more)

Barack Obama (blog; "network with you friends"; your own profile; presence on YouTube, Flickr, facebook)

Medium--some savvy
John McCain ("McCainSpace", blog)

Hillary Clinton (blog)

Low--clueless
Mitt Romney (sign up for email updates)

Rudy Giuliani (sign up for email updates)


Sunday, February 25, 2007

2008 Campaign: Show Me the Money

This is from a CNN article on Tom Vilsack dropping out of the 2008 Democratic race:

"I was surprised," said Vilsack supporter and Iowa Democratic activist Gordon Fischer. But he said raising money for a national campaign has become "a high-stakes poker game where just to sit at the table you need more than $20-$25 million. ... Iowa is a small rural state and there is a limit to what you can raise."


That prompted me to look at the top three candidates web sites to see how much they emphasize fund-raising. Hillary Clinton clearly takes top honors with a major highlight on fundraising plus three separate "contribute" buttons plus a link for "Hillraisers."

John Edwards has two "contribute" buttons plus a graphic that people can add to their websites to encourage others to donate.

Barack Obama was the most low-key (maybe that is a little refreshing) and only has one "donate" button and one "become a fuindariser" link.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

William Jefferson (D-LA) on Homeland Security Panel?

Okay innocent until proven guilty, but Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA) has some very damaging evidence against him for bribery including $90,000 found in his freezer. I’m sure his narrow re-election was disheartening to Nancy Pelosi who has vowed to have a very ethical Congress. However, FoxNews.com has run two AP stories about Nancy Pelosi’s apparent plans to put William Jefferson on the Homeland Security panel, despite the fact that he is still under federal investigation for bribery. Because of hurricane response, that might make sense. But, should someone who may have been bribed recently be privy to important national security issues? The GOP has responded as noted in one of Fox’s stories. A search of CNN and MSNBC web sites turned up no such stories.

Links to the articles:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,252461,00.html

http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Feb16/0,4670,CongressJefferson,00.html


Monday, February 19, 2007

Ten Requirements to be a Radio Political Talk Show Host

Here are ten requirements for being a successful political talk show host on radio:

1. You must have a big ego.
2. You must write a book and market it shamelessly on your show (remember that, first and foremost, this is a business).
3. You must have some catch phrase that callers use when they call in (e.g., ditto, you're a sick twisted freak, you're a great American, etc.)
4. You must have a web site for which listeners have to pay to be an "insider" (remember that, first and foremost, this is a business).
5. You must gain fans by uniting against a common enemy (no one wants to listen to a calm civil debate; build fan loyalty by ranting against the opposition).
6. You must sell subscriptions to a newsletter and/or offer merchandise for sale through your web site (remember that, first and foremost, this is a business).
7. Friday has to have some special name (e.g., closed line Friday, open line Friday, etc.)
8. You must perfect the art of teasing so that you can keep people listening as long as possible (remember that, first and foremost, this is a business).
9. You must be skilled in debate in case someone from an opposing view calls; in other words know how to interrupt callers, keep them off guard, and twist arguments your way and know how to hang up on them if they get too persistent; after all, this is your show not theirs.
10. Never forget #1 (and the fact that this is a business).

Anti-Speak: Iraq (D-MA) vs. (R-GA)

Periodically, I will look at statements by politicians and others and look for examples of anti-speak. By this term I mean antagonistic speech, or words that are used in anger or meanness that get in the way a true dialog on the issues (e.g., name-calling, overly harsh words, generalizations of the opposition, over-simplified sound bites, etc.). There is a line between making a strong passionate point and being in a state of antagonism. For more information on what constitutes "anti-speak" see my post at:

http://cnnvsfox.blogspot.com/2007/02/anti-speak-dnc-vs-rnc.html


Today I decided to look through a little bit of the Congressional record. I found an interesting interchange on Iraq from last Friday's House debate between Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) and Barney Frank (D-MA). Both make good points but do they have to cross the line and say inflammatory things? Here are a few excerpts (pp. H1797-98):

Mr. WESTMORELAND (R-GA): Mr. Speaker, if this undemocratic, smoke-and-mirrors Congress [a term Westmorelend uses three times.] had been in power throughout our Nation’s history, I am not sure we would have much to celebrate this weekend when we commemorate Presidents Day. ...


I wonder what the forebears of today’s Democratic Party would think of their policy of retreat and defeat? What would they think of the timidity in the face of great danger? ...


Given how Democratic leaders have battled to one-up each other and have allowed their rhetoric to spiral, how can this non-binding resolution be anything but a first step?


Mr. FRANK (D-MA): Mr. Speaker, we have just heard a great example of an important form of political debate. The Republicans specialize in this. It is kind of political necrophilia. There is this love of dead Democrats ...


I had thought that Bush and Cheney thought that everything we did was non-binding ...


If ever any group of people forfeited their right to be listened to, it is the collection of people who have shown an aggressive incompetence with regard to Iraq. Can anyone think of a single decision from the

invasion forward that has been correct, that has been borne out by events? ...


But the causes of the disaster, in addition to the rampant incompetence of this administration at virtually all levels ...



Sunday, February 18, 2007

Appearance of Presidential Candidates

I looked at the web sites of the three leading, declared candidates from the Democratic and the Republican parties and looked at how their campaign web sites portray them as of today. Below are the main images of the candidates that you see when you go to their sites. Some observations:

1. The Republicans all have ties and appear more formal than the Democrats.
2. The most candid shot is Barack Obama's.
3. Weakest smiles go to Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

Dems:


GOP:

Here are the web sites (Note: Two are listed for John Edwards, the link ending in "splash" is where my browser took me when I first tried to go to johnedwards.com.)


http://www.hillaryclinton.com/

http://johnedwards.com/splash/

http://johnedwards.com/

http://www.barackobama.com/

http://www.joinrudy2008.com/

http://www.mittromney.com/

http://www.johnmccain.com/






Saturday, February 17, 2007

House Passes Resolution Against Iraq Escalation


On the House passing legislation against Iraq escalation, CNN uses words like “rebuke” and “denouncing” of the president. Fox uses less harsh terms by simply noting the passing of the resolution and the fact that it sent the clearest message so far.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Anti-speak analysis: Senator Hillary Clinton on Iran

Periodically, I want to look at statements by politicians and others and look for examples of anti-speak. By this term I mean antagonistic speech, or words that are used in anger or meanness that get in the way a true dialog on the issues (e.g., name-calling, overly harsh words, generalizations of the opposition, over-simplified sound bites, etc.). There is a line between making a strong passionate point and being in a state of antagonism. For more information on what constitutes "anti-speak" see my post at:

http://cnnvsfox.blogspot.com/2007/02/anti-speak-dnc-vs-rnc.html


This post is about Sen. Hillary Clinton's statement yesterday in the Senate about Iran. It is found in her web site at:

http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=269287&&

For the most part, Sen. Clinton sticks to her points on the issues. However, the following I would consider as anti-speak (highlight added for emphasis):

1. In this one, she is making a good point but saying that the Republican congress was "derelict." That is a rather strong word that would get the ire of the opposition and put them on the defensive rather than wanting to work together on the issue. Certainly the point can be made without this accusatory language that is a form of name-calling.


We have witnessed these past six years ... the cost of congressional dereliction of its oversight duty, ...”

2. Yes, things have not gone well in Iraq but you can make a strong point without using "incompetence."

“... through the rush to war in Iraq and the incompetence of its execution ...”








Monday, February 12, 2007

Addendum to previous post: Fox and Sex

Well, it is a couple of hours after my last post where I compared the degree of sexiness of the various news web sites. I just have to add something. Fox had by far the largest one day total today. If Fox is more conservative (certainly the TV shows are but FoxNews.com has been more balanced though still leaning to the right), and if it is true that conservatives tend to be more religious and believe in family values, then what is with the nearly soft porn pictures on their site? Especially today. Right now they have a picture of a nearly topless woman with a link to a video. It is about PETA with the following caption: "Shock Value! Would PETA protesters get noticed if they kept their clothes on?" So, the idea is to use this same shock value principle to try and get noticed themselves? Shame on Fox.

Oh by the way, the other examples today include two different revealing pictures of women in lingerie with one being a link to a video entitled "V-Day Lingerie." There are other links to videos entitled "the perfect bra," "lingerie lessons," and "game day girls." I know that Valentines Day is coming up but is all this necessary on a news site?

P.S. I checked the next morning and at least the PETA picture was smaller and did not show her breasts. But, the video link is still featured.

Degree of Sexiness: Part 3

Here is another check on who is using the "sex sells" philosophy. If you want more background check my blog of February 3rd:

http://cnnvsfox.blogspot.com/2007/02/degree-of-sexiness-cnn-vs-fox-vs-msnbc.html

CNN continues to take the high road while Fox outscores them all today with pictures and links to sex-related stories. The scores below are from today at 8:oo pm EST.

Internet News Source

Feb 4th

Cumulative

CNN
2
4

MSNBC

8

17

CBS

6

22

Fox

32

55

ABC

21

62

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Anti-Speak: DNC vs. RNC

I am going to be looking for examples of what I consider to be antagonistic statements (or anti-speak) by politicians and others. By "anti-speak" I mean angry words and name-calling; anything that gets in the way of true dialog and problem-solving; anything that builds up walls, causes defensive reactions, or distracts from honest discussions of the issues. This includes:

1. making broad generalizations about a group or party,
2. labeling or name-calling,
3. putting words in the mouth of the opposition,
4. attributing motives to the opposition,
5. oversimplification of issues to make a point (e.g., continual repetition of sound bites), and
6. overly harsh/angry or fighting words when there are softer words that would be as effective in making the point.

Today I looked for examples from the web sites of the two major parties. This is an analysis just of the home pages.

The Republican Party had these examples:
  • A link entitled "The Dem Dodger" a term used for Sen. Barack Obama for not participating in an election primary forum in Nevada. Do we need this type of name-calling? Is the GOP trying to find a sound-bite name for Sen. Obama?.
  • A link for "Pelosi's Power Trip" in reference to her use of military aircraft. Didn't this turn out to be kind of a non-issue anyway? To say "power trip" is to attribute a motivation to Pelosi and is an oversimplified term that does not look at the whole issue.
  • A poll for favorite GOP video with one choice entitled "Democrats: Dishonest on Iraq." I do not think that calling the Democrats liars will help resolve the issue.
  • A link for demfacts.com, "Get the facts on Democrat hypocrisy." Now they are being called hypocrites. Surely there is a better way to say this that might get at the real issue.
  • A link to an article "Hillary's Kerryaoke on Iraq: Track 2." If there is a point to be made, how about doing it without careful little word plays?
The Democratic Party had this one example:
  • A link to a blog that uses the term "smoke and mirrors war budgeting." Smoke and mirrors implies deception. Surely there are budgeting issues with regard to the war effort but why use this term which will just get the ire of the opposition?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pictures of Sen. Clinton

I was looking back at the CNN and Fox articles about Sen. Hillary Clinton announcing her presidential candidacy. There is quite a bit of difference in the pictures accompanying the respective articles.

CNN uses this rather nice picture of Hillary which is from her campaign web site:



FoxNews.com uses this rather weird, and I would say somewhat uncomplimentary, picture from the AP of Hillary with a brick wall in the background (looks like she is coming out of a voting booth:



Links to the articles:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,245160,00.html

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/01/20/clinton.announcement/index.html

Friday, February 09, 2007

DNC vs. RNC: Election Maps

It is only natural for the parties to represent themselves in the best light possible. On the Republican web site this map appears on the home page and represents the last presidential election results colored in by county (http://www.gop.com/):


Here's the Democrat (or is it Democratic?) map which is of course all blue and allows the reader to select a state and see the Democratic winners (http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/11/2006_election_r_1.php):


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Unity '08

Unity '08 is an interesting concept being promoted by actor Sam Waterston which is trying to focus the election on problem-solving rather than partisan politics. I think it is worth checking out. Here is the opening statement (from “What we believe” on the web site):

"Unity 08 believes that neither of today's major parties reflects the aspirations, fears or will of the majority of Americans. Both have polarized and alienated the people. Both are unduly influenced by single-issue groups. Both are excessively dominated by money.

We believe that, while the leaders of both major parties are well intentioned people, they are trapped in a flawed system – and that the two major parties are today simply neither relevant to the issues and challenges of the 21st Century nor effective in addressing them.

As a result, most Americans have not been enthusiastic about the choices for President in recent elections, the key issues they ran on, or the manner in which the campaigns were conducted.

Therefore Unity08 will act to assure that an alternative ticket is presented to the American voters in 2008."

You can check it out at http://www.unity08.com/

Monday, February 05, 2007

Two perspectives on the Senate resolution failure

You can see two different slants in the respective articles by CNN and Fox News on the failure of the Senate's proposed Iraq resolution today. From CNN's perspective, the Republicans were obstructionists in a sense. From Fox's perspective, this was a failure of the Democrats. Here are the opening lines to their articles (color and italics added):

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Republicans used a procedural maneuver Monday to keep Democratic leaders from moving forward with a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq.

WASHINGTON — The Senate's Democratic majority failed Monday to shut off debate on a non-binding resolution that "disagrees" with President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, throwing debate on the policy into limbo and depriving Democrats of a bipartisan rebuke of the White House.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Degree of Sexiness: Part 2

Here are the scores from 1:15 a.m. EST this morning [if you want to know what this is about, see the previous post]. I've included cumulative scores also. CNN is the best so far with not resorting to sex to sell their site. Fox and ABC News have the most sex-related or sexy content. Fox does seem to be the more blatant with "above the fold" (top part of the web site home page and therefore most visible) sexy pictures and links to videos. At the time of this posting they are showing bikini clad women for a link to a video report of the Playboy super bowl party. From what checking I have done it appears that CNN and MSNBC are the most popular news web sites. Could it be that the others are including more titillating content to boost readership?

Internet News Source

Feb 4th

Cumulative

CNN
2
2

MSNBC

4

9

CBS

8

16

Fox

15

23

ABC

22

41


By the way I added points for advertisements as well. Sexy ads [e.g., lingerie ads] will count as three points.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Degree of Sexiness: CNN vs Fox vs MSNBC vs ABC vs CBS

It appeared to me that there is a tendency for FoxNews.com to include more sex-related stories and images than CNN. So, I decided to analyze the sexiness of the various news .coms to look at the degree to which they use sex to attract readers. I created a "Degree of Sexiness Index" where I rate just the home pages. The point values I assigned were as follows:

Sexy photo with link--3 points
Link to sex-related photo (with no photo on home page)--2 points
Video link with sexy photo--4 points
Link to sex-related video (with no video on home page)--3 points
Links to stories related to sex--1 point

So, what do I mean by "sexy" or "sex-related"? I mean anything that generally is about sex. For photos it has to be more than just a pretty face. For headlines/links it can be anything from celeb fashion to sex offender stories. This may be a little subjective but I try and look at each site in the same way so that hopefully at least I am consistent. I will try this on different days and look for trends. Here are the results for earlier today at about 11:30 a.m. EST:

ABC: 19
CBS: 8
CNN: 0
Fox: 8
MSNBC: 5

[I will note that although CNN has a score of 0, they cover sports through the very sexist Sports Illustrated.]