Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Comcast Knows What Liberals Watch

According to Comcast, Fox News is for conservatives, CNN is for independents, and MSNBC is (oops!) also for conservatives.

Comcast Spotlight, the ad sales division of my cable provider, is currently running a commercial to pitch candidates and issue advocates on the benefits of (you guessed it) buying time on Comcast.

To help political advertisers reach the right viewers, they conveniently provide this simple sorting:

  • TV Land
  • Comedy Central
  • Bravo
  • Discovery
  • BET
  • The History Channel
  • Fox News
  • A&E
  • CMT
  • VH1
  • Spike
  • HGTV
  • CNN
  • TLC
Mickeleh's Take: It's a relief to have Comcast confirm what we already know: there is no news network for liberals. Unless you count Comedy Central. (Don't these guys know about Keith Olbermann?)

Kerry Actually Hits Back in the Same News Cycle

Yesterday, Kerry botched a line intended as a joke on the White House. Today, Tony Snow, in another example of the desperation of the GOP, deliberately misconstrued Kerry's line as an attack on the troops and demanded an apology.

Here's the man-bites-dog sequel: Kerry hit back hard, strong, and, most remarkably, fast. He got his reply out there in the same news cycle as the attack. Let's see what play TV news gives him.

Mickeleh's Take: I like these new Democrats.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Olbermann's Obit for "Stay the Course"

After a week in the archives, the Countdown staff has pulled even more clips, allowing Keith Olbermann to offer a fitting, heartfelt Eulogy for "Stay the Course." If you have Keith on Moxi or other DVR... It's at the close of the show. If not, wait a short interval and someone will have it online.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

GOP Osama Ad vs. Johnson Daisy Ad: Where is the Love?

Last week, the GOP paid its own good money to rebroadcast the same Al Qaeda messages that they criticized the news media for airing in the first place. It's shameful but not surprising that the GOP would become a paid echo-chamber for Al Qaeda talking points. After all both Al Qaeda and the GOP operate under the banner, "Fear is our most important product."

People have compared the GOP ad to the seminal Daisy spot created by Tony Schwartz at Doyle, Dane Bernbach for Lyndon Johnon's campaign against Goldwater in 1964. (Watch it on YouTube.)

The GOP even borrowed the copy line, "these are the stakes." from Daisy.

But they only borrowed the beginning of the line. What Johnson actually said in the voice-over to Daisy was this:
"These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God's children can live or go into the dark. We must either love each other or we must die."
Johnson's rhetoric was about "all God's children," and "love." The GOP rhetoric is all about naming and nicknaming enemies that only they can protect us from, (terrorists, axis of evil, Islamofascists, defeatocrats, cut-and-runners).

Furthermore, the implication of the GOP ad is this: if we don't vote for them, Osama will use the bomb. Whereas the implication of the Johnson ad was this: if we didn't vote for him, the U.S. might use the bomb.

Think about that. Imagine in today's climate that you could run on the fear that the U.S. might do the wrong thing. Democrats today are even skittish about denouncing torture lest they reinforce the Republican accusation that Dems are weak.

Copy and rhetoric aside, there's another measure of the difference between the two spots. The GOP ad ignores all of the deeper wisdom about powerful communications that makes Daisy effective. Tony Schwartz discusses Daisy in, The Responsive Chord:
I believe television spots function well as electronic posters for a candidate; i.e., they create auditory and visual stimuli that can evoke a voter's deeply held feelings. Indeed, the best political commercials are similar to Roschach patterns. They provide a context for him to express these feelings...

Many people, especially the Repubicans, shouted that the spot accused Senator Goldwater of being trigger-happy. But nowhere in the spot is Goldwater mentioned. There is not even an indirect reference to Goldwater. Indeed, someone unfamiliar with the political climate in 1963 and viewing the spot today will not perceive any allusion at all to Goldwater... The commercial evoked a deep feeling in many people that Goldwater might actually use nuclear weapons. This mistrust was not in the Daisy spot. It was in the people who viewed the commercial.
Schwartz built his advertising around resonance. He belived that the audience already had more information than an advertiser could cram into a commercial. The best strategy of a communicator is not to pour things into the audience, but to call up what is already there.

Are there any resonant Democratic TV spots today? Which ones do you think work this way?

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Opposition Research

Here's a handy list of press coverage of some of our opponents. If you'd like to add something like this to your blog--and for a discussion of why you might, click over to this Chris Bowers' entry on MyDD. And this one.

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick
--WA-08: Dave Reichert

-AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl
--AZ-01: Rick Renzi
--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth
--CA-04: John Doolittle
--CA-11: Richard Pombo
--CA-50: Brian Bilbray
--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave
--CO-05: Doug Lamborn
--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell
--CT-04: Christopher Shays
--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan
--FL-16: Joe Negron
--FL-22: Clay Shaw
--ID-01: Bill Sali
--IL-06: Peter Roskam
--IL-10: Mark Kirk
--IL-14: Dennis Hastert
--IN-02: Chris Chocola
--IN-08: John Hostettler
--IA-01: Mike Whalen
--KS-02: Jim Ryun
--KY-03: Anne Northup
--KY-04: Geoff Davis
--MD-Sen: Michael Steele
--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht
--MN-06: Michele Bachmann
--MO-Sen: Jim Talent
--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns
--NV-03: Jon Porter
--NH-02: Charlie Bass
--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson
--NM-01: Heather Wilson
--NY-03: Peter King
--NY-20: John Sweeney
--NY-26: Tom Reynolds
--NY-29: Randy Kuhl
--NC-08: Robin Hayes
--NC-11: Charles Taylor
--OH-01: Steve Chabot
--OH-02: Jean Schmidt
--OH-15: Deborah Pryce
--OH-18: Joy Padgett
--PA-04: Melissa Hart
--PA-07: Curt Weldon
--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick
--PA-10: Don Sherwood
--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee
--TN-Sen: Bob Corker
--VA-Sen: George Allen
--VA-10: Frank Wolf

Jon Stewart Took the Night Off

The Bush "We've never been, 'cut and run'" lie got a free pass from Jon Stewart, whose on break this week. Fortunately, it's a bit that's so easy, lots of other folks are doing the montage. Still, I miss seeing the take wehre Jon digs the heels of his hands into his eyes and goes, "Wha....?"

Monday, October 23, 2006

Polermo: What Republicans Will Be Voting For

Good piece of polemical writing nails the disintegration of the Republican coalition.

Stay the Course... Flunk the Course

Jon Stewart has me so well conditioned, that immediately when I heard Pres. Bush tell George Stephanopolous "Listen, we've never been, 'stay the course,' George," I immediately ran a Daily Show clip-bonanza in my head. "we've never been, 'stay the course," followed by cut after cut after cut of Bush being, "stay the course" and maybe the great Amen Chorus echoing."

Think Progress has assembled a rough cut, The upstairs clip is Dan Bartlet saying, it's never been "stay the course." The downstairs clip is the one that ran in my head. Bush and Snow trading choruses of "Stay the Course." Think Progress lacks the crisp comic timing we've learned to expect of the Daily Show, and we don't have Stewart's comic takes to punch it up. But it's all there. And worth watching.

So, now that obvious has already been done, what will Stewart's crew do tonight to top it?

It was no slip of the tongue, by the way. Bush, Bartlett, and Snow in quick succession claimed that Oceana has never been at war with Eastasia.

Mickeleh's Take: Looks like the White House is cutting and running from staying the course. I guess that makes 'em flip floppers. Maybe GWB is remembering back to college days, where you didn't have to stay the course if you feared flunking. Maybe GWB is remembering when it was possible to drop the course without penalty.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Gore Vidal: Two Generations to Undo Bush Damage

Lyn Davis Lear reports on a dinner conversation with Gore Vidal. His grim view is that it will take at least two generations to undo "the last six years of damage to the nation." Vidal also shared his (realistic? paranoid?) view on why the White House remains "upbeat" about the upcoming election: "the Bush-Cheney henchmen could simply call on martial law."

Mickeleh's Take: Vidal is optimistic about the recovery. The repairs won't begin in the next two years. But, if martial law is not declared and Democrats take one or both houses, the rate of damage may slow. As for the many scenarios circulating for how the Republicans will steal the upcoming election, best to ignore them (for now). If progressives believe that voting is futile, that's a guaranteed loss. If you have any time to spare, volunteer for a Democratic get out the vote operation.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ask Yourself the Questions Posed by Bush

When Bush signed the Military Commissions Act into law he used, as Jeffrey Feldman points out, the frame of history. The same frame that led him to call the carnage of Iraq "a comma." Bush has faith that, ultimately, all his actions will have a good outcome, despite what temporary inconveniences they may create along the way. It's a wonderfully liberating way to look at the world. If Iraq's woes are healed any time in any distant future, then Bush can claim credit for having paved the way. I suppose Hitler could similarly claim credit for putting Germany on a path to its current democratic prosperity.

It's a completely consequence-free view of action. The way Bush sees it, the game is never lost, because it's never completed. There will always be more innings.

Bush looked back from a distant history when the U.S. will have defeated the evil-doers to justify his sacking of rights that have been part of our tradition since the Magna Carta.

Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?

Let me propose a narrow view. Let's take those two questions out of the eschatological framework in which Bush posed them. Let's take them very literally and shine a cold light of irony on them.

It was Keith Olbermann who first called attention to the fact that those questions rightly point back to Bush himself.

We'll learn the answer on Nov. 7.

"Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously?"

"Did we do what it takes to defeat the threat?"

Can you give more time and/or more money to defeat the Republican candidates for Senate, House, Governor, and Secretary of State?

Please, take the Bush threat seriously. And please, do what it takes to defeat it.

The most dangerous domestic terror cell

"These men hate our freedoms and want to terrify us into surrendering them."

Mark Kleiman exposes the danger that lurks among us. (Not to give him too much credit. These guys are also very adept at exposing themselves.)

Joe Sestak takes on Swiftboating Weldon

Learning is possible. Even among Democrats. Kerry fell to dishonorable attacks by the swiftboaters in 2004. Max Cleland fell to a Saxby Chambliss ad that featured Osama and Saddam in 2002.

Joe Sestak is standing up with one of the strongest ads of this cycle.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The GOP Hail Mary Pass: "Vote Dem and Die"

We knew this was coming didn't we? Big scary ad with Bin Laden threatening to kill us all. Aided and abetted by the soft, terrorist-coddling Democrats.

The only thing they have to sell is fear itself. Oooh. Scary. Just in time or Halloween.

The only thing the ad was missing is the shot where Bin Laden morphs into Willie Horton.

By the way Mr. Bush, you had the boogey man surrounded at Tora Bora. How come you let him go? I don't suppose it was because you knew you could count on his help election cycle after election cycle. Sorry, guys, your game is old and it doesn't work anymore.

Fool me once, shame on... Why, I think you almost remember how that old saying goes, don't you, Mr. Bush.

We have your number now. And it's in the low 30's. You, Cheney, Rove, Mehlman, Hastert, Ney, Abramoff, DeLay, Foley... oh, why go on?... the list is endless and each character on it is more depressing than the last.

Trying one last shot at rousing the base? Guess what? It's working, but you're rousing the wrong base. Our base. We are going to give more, volunteer more, and work our very hard to take back this country from your filthy, indecent corrupt contempt for our our intelligence, our values, our faith, and our Constitution.

Blumenthal on the Republican implosion

Not much news value here. But a well-written bit of Schadenfreude.

Mickeleh's Take: Read it and gloat. But then get out and work for a Democratic victory. Donate and volunteer. Find the nearest close Congressional race, and help them canvass voters. It's not a random door-to-door canvass anymore. You'll get a targetted list of people who vote Democratic in presidential elections, but tend to skip the mid-terms. You don't have to persuade them--just get them to vote.

If you can spare a few hours on election day (Nov 7), sign up and show up.

Ken Mehlman isn't sitting this one out. We shouldn't either.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kos Diary: Five Decades of Republican Torture

The Torture is OK law, otherwise known as "The Military Commissions Act" never came up in yesterday's debate for the Washington Senate race. Maybe one reason that public reaction to it is so low key is that there's nothing new here except for the attempt to make it legal.

A Kos Diarist named kidneystones chronicles five decades of U.S.-sponsored torture under Republican administrations, beginning with Eisenhower ordering the CIA to train the Iranian secret police (SAVAK) in torture. We're still choking on the bitter fruit from those seeds.

Mickeleh's Take: The sign on the front of the table where Bush sat to sign the bill proclaimed the Rovian meme for torture and the death of habeas corpus: "Protecting America" The guy's job is to "Defend the Constitution." What's the correct meme?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bush assumes "Despotic Powers," Dems mum; America yawns

The president, today, signed a bill into law giving himself the power to make anyone--including U.S. citizens disappear. With no recourse, no appeal, no habeas corpus, no nothin.

This is the most devastating, drastic, and shameful assault on our system of law in my lifetime.

On Keith Olbermann's show tonight, Prof. Jonathan Turley, said, "What the Congress did and what the President signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values. It couldn't be more significant. And the strange thing is we've become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, Dancing with the Stars."

The right, of course, has framed this as strength vs. weakness. Hastert's press release headlined, "Democrats Choose to Pamper Terrorists and Defend Their Rights." The right wing blogosphere and talkshows are taking up the cry in unison. And for the most part, the Democrats seem paralyzed by that framing.

I looked for some statement about this moment of national shame at the website of the Democratic National Committee. Nothing. I looked at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Nothing. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Nothing.

A few brave voices:
Sen. Russell Feingold says, "we will look back on this day as a stain in our nation's history.

And from the left blogosphere:

I'm off to Drinking Liberally to watch the Cantwell-McGavick debate. No doubt the issue will come up. I'll let you know how it's framed.

Why do you suppose the end of Habeas Corpus is meeting so little resistance?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Shared Google Reader Page

Just dipped my toe into the new Google RSS reader. It has features very comparable to stand-alone blog readers,plus this cool kicker:

As I cruise along reading blog entries, if I find something I'd like to share, I press shift-S and it's added to my shared page.

I'm adding the top five most recent articles to the sidebar. Including (until it gets pushed out of view out of view) the link to the entry from Robert Scoble that turned me on to this cool bit of RSS mischief.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Proof that Bush knew Saddam didn't have WMD

If anyone has any lingering doubts about whether Bush really thought that Saddam had--or could develop nukes, the North Korean test (dud or not) should put those doubts to rest.

Against Saddam, he sent an invasion force. Against Kim, he sends bluster and a high-dudgeon harumph.

Paper threats get shredded. Real threats get, "Please don't do that again, sir."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Robert Greenwald: Happy Birthday Fox News

Happy to give Robert Greenwald a viral plug.

Olbermann & Turley on the Bush Crime Family

"The Constitution is just a piece of paper." —George W. Bush

This one dates back to May 11, 2006, but it hasn't lost its bite, relevance, or chill. Keith Olbermann interviews Jonathan Turley on the consistent pattern of contempt that Bush has for the Constitution he swore to uphold. "The Constitution is just a piece of paper," said Bush. He must have been thinking toilet paper. Turley recounts the Bush penchant for hiring criminals as he drags us down the slippery slope to Tyranny.

Keith called Bush a liar last night. What if he's wrong?

Keith Olbermann had another in his chilling and devastating series of Special Comments. Please click through to read it or watch the video clip.

Topic: Bush's rhetorical gambit of throwing in "some say" or "Democrats think" followed by a completely fictitious statement of a position that no Demcrat ever held. Keith says Bush is lying when he does that. Example:
“If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democratic Party, it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is — wait until we’re attacked again.”
None of the leaders of the Democratic Party say that or think that or sound like they think that. So Keith says that Bush is lying. He says it eloquently, passionately, and clearly. It's about time someone used plain language to criticize Bush. I love that Keith said "lie." (Although, Al Franken got there first with Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them.)

But my fear is that Bush is not lying. That he actually believes what he's saying. That he's so locked in to his own delusional vision of the world that for him it's not a rhetorical ploy to invent straw positions for his opponents, but rather his actual perception of what they're thinking.

People who have met with Bush describe him has calm, assured, and steadfast in his vision of how the world works and what his mission is. He sees himself as a warrior in an epic, ages long war. If Iraq is devastated and drenched in blood and terror, that, to Bush, is just a comma in history. Dissent and debate have no place in his world view. He knows the only true path. Anyone who does not follow it is lost.

Mickeleh's Take: If Bush is a liar, we have a chance. If Bush is delusional, we're all cooked. And I fear that Bush is delusional.

Now, go read or watch Keith.

Tipping point?

Republican rule is dangerous and damaging. That should be clear by now. Maybe it is. This morning, for the first time in this campaign, the polls followed by electoral-vote.com show Democrats leading Republicans in both House and Senate races. It's still a squeeker. And the Dems don't have a majority in the Senate (yet). But the polling results are very heartening and I'm going to add top-line results from electoral-vote.com to my blog-roll. Click through for details, methodology, and the latest poll data.

Mickeleh's Take: This is encouraging, but we still have to make it through vote suppression, Diebold hacking, and a declaration of martial law accompanied by the roundup of all the "disloyal" before we can start issuing subpoenas. I put nothing, nothing past this power-drunk gang of thugs.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

$20 million for a Victory in Iraq celebration

Atrios spotted this gem in the New York Times:
Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital “for commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.
But wait, there's more. They've carried it over to the new bill.

Mickeleh's Take: Any way we could get to spend that on an impeachment celebration?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's not Foley... it's the Republicans

Watch out for the media getting caught up in the personal tragedy of Mark Foley. Every release of an IM transcript offers more salacious details. (Where do these come from, by the way? And don't say, "ABC.") Today, his lawyer revealed that young Mark was molested by a clergyman. Juicy tabloid fodder. But misdirection from the bigger story of dereliction by the House Republican leadership: What did they know? When did they know it? And what did they do about it?

Patty Wetterling, Democratic challenger for the Minnesota 6th Congressional District has the first spot I've seen that frames the issue. Patty has been an advocate for children's safety. Her son, then 11, was abducted at gunpoint in 1989. Neither the child nor the abductor was ever found.

Mickeleh's Take: The NIE report that the Iraq War has swelled the ranks of Islamic terrorists and the new revelations in the Woodward book are not welcome, but not game changing. The Republican handling of the Foley affair has the potential to impact the GOP base. In support of Patty Wetterling's jumping out with this spot, please contribute to her campaign.

The fundraising page of True Majority Action on Act Blue says.
Patty Wetterling

Child advocate Patty Wetterling is taking her concern for families, education and healthcare to a new level, by vying to replace departing Republican incumbent Mark Kennedy. In a state that is also energized by exciting Governor and Senate races, this house race is a leader on lists to switch parties. The Republican nominee, State Senator Michelle Bachmann, is far more conservative than this suburban Twin Cities district and Wetterling enjoys name recognition in over 90% of the district.