Archive for the ‘McCain’ category

Exclusive Photo: Sarah Palin as a Goldwater Girl!

4, September, 2008

Let’s imagine the presumptuous VP nominee Sarah Palin was a teenage Goldwater Girl, an earnest young Republican back in the day when Sen. Barry Goldwater rocked the house at the 1964 RNC.

Here’s what she might have looked like as a candy striper at the 1964 Convention:

This wonderful bit of trickery comes to you thanks to www.yearbookyourself.com. It’s a tweaky tool that lets you upload a photo of yourself, mess around just a bit, and produce an image of what you might have looked like had your yearbook photo been snapped during various years from 1950 through 2000.

But: Here we go again, we eliteliberaleastcoastmediaestablishmentrunningdogs having sport with Palin rather than taking her seriously. Palin, 44, was born in 1964.

So to set the record straight, here is what she may indeed have looked like around the time she really graduated, 1981:

[A tip o' the fez to the always-ahead-of-the-pack Very Short List Web e-mail newsletter for the pointer to yearbookyourself.com.]

p.s. By popular demand, the author at his 1952 graduation.


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Obama and McCain’s Blogs, Writ Large

3, September, 2008

A while ago I wrote about a very cool tool called Wordle. You stick a URL or feed into the tool and it produces a visualization–a word cloud–that demonstrates how often words are used in a particular document or blog feed.

Just for sport, I compared results from an official Obama blog and an official McCain blog.

Obama’s blog:

And here’s McCain’s:

Fun stuff: The candidates talk a lot about themselves. Obama’s focused on Ohio, McCain on Missouri. Obama’s often used words: “get” and “can.” McCain’s: “reform” and “America.” Both write more about Gustav than each other.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The Obama blog I’ve Wordled is the campaign’s main one. McCain’s main blog doesn’t have a single RSS feed [the feeds are parsed by issue]. So I had to cut and paste text from a bunch of recent entries from McCain’s blog and let Wordle have at it.

As for McCain blogs that do have a single RSS feed, let’s look at what they’re talking about in the “McCain Report” blog, written by the trench-warfare-mustard-gas-tosser Michael Goldfarb.

That blog talks about Obama a lot.

Alas, no apples-to-apples there, either. Obama’s site doesn’t have a negative campaign blog.


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Obama’s “Explicit” iPod Playlist

1, September, 2008

There’s been a lot of light-hearted coverage about the music playlists of the two presidential candidates. They’ve been reported in various places in various ways for months, so I no longer have faith that any is the “real” playlist endorsed by the candidate himself.

Still, I was surprised when I was playing around in the social community of Microsoft’s Zune and found Sen. Barack Obama’s playlist presented this way:

Barack, you naughty dude! “Explicit” lyrics on your playlist!

The work in question: Kayne West’s “Touch the Sky.” The song is properly described by Zune staff as full of “hope and inspiration,” telling the tale of West’s rising awareness that there’s more to life than wealth and fame.

But the song wins its bad boy badge with a few lyrics that might make Cindy McCain’s shiny blonde beehive spin like a tornado. Let’s take a listen.

[Note to anti-Obama bloggers, GOP chop-shop bottom-feeders and Swift Boat wanna-be's: Cut and paste below for maximum impact in your echo chamber.]

Back when Gucci was the sh*t to rock,
Back when Slick Rick got the sh*t to pop,
I’d do anything to say “I got it”.
Damn, them new loafers hurt my pocket.
Before anybody wanted K-West beats,
Me and my girl split the buffet at KFC.
Dog, I was having nervous breakdowns,
Like “Damn, these niggas that much better than me?”

Obama has met with rappers and the hip-hop community as part of his campaign to reach young people. For instance, read  Billboard’s brief on West’s performance at the DNC. Hip Hop News featured this June report about Obama and hi-hop music:

I’ve met with Jay-Z; I’ve met with Kanye. And I’ve talked to other artists about how potentially to bridge that gap [between hip-hop and mainstream culture]. I think the potential for them to deliver a message of extraordinary power that gets people thinking (is massive),Obama told Jeff Johnson during BET‘s political special What’s In It For Us?.

Though he supports using Hip Hop as a catalyst for good, Obama is also aware of Hip Hop’s negative side too, acknowledging that messages of crime and misogyny overshadow the many positive aspects of rap music.

There are times, even on the artists I’ve named, the artists that I love, that there is a message that’s sometimes degrading to women, uses the N-word a little too frequently. But also something that I’m really concerned about is (they’re) always talking about material things about how I can get something; more money, more cars.

But the WayRight Machine will never be able to use Obama’s “endorsement” of “shameful” lyrics that “no child should hear” and that demonstrate “he is not ready for national leadership” [again, this is the cut-and-paste line for use in anti-Obama blogs].

If the right tries to run with this issue, they have some explaining to themselves of McCain’s musical favorites.

Suffice to say: “Dancing Machine” by Abba.


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Reposting: The Candidates’ $2,500 Fixation

10, August, 2008

[This is a repost from The Health Central Network's Healtcare08 Web site, where I write about the politics of healthcare [I also helped build the cool app appearing on the front page there]. It also appears on The Health Care Blog, to which I also contribute as part of my work in the Health 2.0 space.

The $2,500 question

There’s some peculiar numerology going in the presidential candidates’ health reform plans.
John McCain proposes that every American receive a $2,500 tax credit ($5,000 for families) to help them afford health insurance bought in the private market.

Barack Obama says his health care plan will save the average American family $2,500 per year.

I mean, what are the chances?

I suspect both campaigns are shrewd enough to know that “a couple hundred bucks a month” [middle-class citizen's translation of $2,500 per year] is likely to get a voter’s attention. The fact that both campaigns came up with an identical figure is eerie, however. It’s enough to make you wonder whether anti-trust laws should apply to political campaigns.

To be plain, there is no good reason to believe these campaign promises more than others, despite the precision of the dollar amount cited.

Obama’s $2.5k promise was recently picked apart by the New York Times.

Reported the Times:

“Even if the next president and Congress can muster the political will, analysts question whether significant savings would materialize in as little as four years, or even in 10. But as Mr. Obama confronts an electorate that is deeply unsettled by escalating health costs, he is offering a precise “chicken in every pot” guarantee based on numbers that are largely unknowable. Furthermore, it is not completely clear what he is promising.”

Meanwhile, McCain’s $2,500 per person tax credit doesn’t look like much when you consider the cost of health insurance purchased in the open market. Currently employers and workers together pay about $4,400 per person for insurance premiums, about $12,000 for families.

Individual policies–which McCain’s policies are designed to encourage, perhaps at the expense of employer-supported plans–often cost more. They certainly cost more for people who have one or more chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression or arthritis–which is to say, a vast majority of the adult population.

That couple hundred bucks a month you just pocketed from President McCain? You’ve got to spend that, and add a couple hundred more–and maybe a couple hundred more than that–just to pay for your premiums in the open market.

So what are we to make of this? What’s so magic about the number $2,500? Why would this figure stand out in the heads of political operatives trying to craft policies to appeal to supporters?

Hard to tell. But I got to wondering. Let me check a figure here at the Federal Elections Commission website a second. . .there it is! I thought this all seemed familiar.

The most money an individual can give to a presidential candidate to show their commitment is. . .$2,300. Five thousand if you’re a PAC.

I mean, what are the chances?


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Parlor Game: Web Search & the Election

3, July, 2008

One of the fun parlor games of Election ’08 is to look at Internet data and figure out what they mean.

The answer may be “nothing,” of course.

But let’s play along and look at the latest Hitwise data on popular search terms.

HitWise, a company that tracks Internet traffic, tabulated the search words that sent people to John McCain or Barack Obama’s websites. [Here's a press release about the findings on the candidates' top Internet search terms. For more detail, visit the Hitwise blog.]

Let’s look at the arguably vital issue of healthcare.

“Health care” didn’t make Obama’s top 5 search terms in the first quarter of 2008. In the second quarter, health care took the number 4 slot. Q1′s top term was “gay marriage,” Q2′s “abortion.

Meantime, “health care” took the tops spots for John McCain in both Q1 and Q2.

So: Does this mean people already think they know Obama’s healthcare plan and don’t need to search about it on the Internet? Or don’t they have much interest in the issue?

As for McCain, do the searches mean his plan is little-known and people want information on it? Or do those interested in McCain care more about healthcare than Obama’s voters?

You never know.

Q2 Obama top 5 terms, in order: Abortion, Education, Environment/Global Warming, Health Care, Immigration.

Q2 McCain top 5 search terms: Health Care, Environment/Global Warming, Oil Prices, Immigration, Education

Make of this what you will. But it’s worth noting that the economy does not make the top five for either candidate.

One final observation. The search term “Rumors” accounted for 5 percent of searches in Q1. In Q2, that number doubled. “Religion” dropped from 12 percent to 7 percent between Q1 and Q2.

Retreat to the parlor and discuss, please.

DataViz[zes] of the Week: Google Election Map Gallery

1, July, 2008

I’ve long argued that journalists use too many words. Or, more precisely, they try to use them for everything.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When all you have is a Microsoft Word and a deadline, everything looks like a 25-inch story.

Google’s just launched Elections ’08 Map Gallery illustrates the limitations of this approach.

Want to know how John McCain got to where he is today? You can read this four-screen, tiny-type piece at biography.com. It’s well-researched and full of important information and fair-minded observations. Or you can click around John McCain’s Journey, one of several maps in the gallery.

McCain-by-Map

You will find a biography organized by geography (a geo-bio!), starting in the Panama Canal Zone (where he was born) to. . .1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (?). You won’t get much intellectually satisfying detail from the map–no Keating Five, no material about his days at the Naval Academy, nothing about his role as a “maverick.” If real journalism were poured into the framework, you’d have a great product that could reach a lot more people than the highly literate biography.com version.

Google, of course, knows from search. And so one of the more successful Election 08 maps is a geography of search queries by candidate name. [Earth to Mountain View: Hillary Clinton is out. You may remove her from the election maps now.]

Michigan Search Election Map

Others have reported this search query data in print–it’s a fun [if dangerous] parlor game to use search volume as a marker of public sentiment. But once again, a visual, geography-based presentation that offers real-time search data offers a completely different view of election dynamics.

And finally, a video-based map, which essentially does away with both words and numbers. Obama Videos is a map showing where Obama delivered key speeches, with each location linked to a video of that speech.

Obama Video Map

This is great stuff. With Google’s mashup tools being wide open for use, the gallery is likely to grow and get weirder [A Map of Lies! The Flip Flop Highway!].

I, for one, think it’s going to be a much more entertaining election season thanks to these visualizations. Will it produce a better informed, more engaged public? We’ll see. There’s promise that some of these maps will capture different kinds of citizen participation–the “wisdom” of the crowds writ large. The Election Search map is an example.

One map shows real-time election-based Twitter items geographically. It’s about as exciting as watching gum being chewed. But it’s a start.

Platform A, Election Spending and Old-Media-Think

30, June, 2008

At last week’s Digital Media Conference held outside Washington, D.C., the lunchtime speaker was Lynda Clarizio, President of AOL’s Platform A. Platform A is a huge advertising network, a group of smaller ad networks lashed together under a single brand name. It’s AOL’s attempt to play big in the online ad game.

Clarizio’s a great speaker, able to command attention even amid the din and eventual post-prandial slump of a conference lunch.

But one thing she said led me to believe part of her operation, for all its new-media-world-killing ambition, is still grounded in the thinking of old media.

Since I wasn’t taking notes, I can’t quote her figures or words specifically. But she said she was disappointed with the recent performance of paid political advertising online. She hoped sales to political campaigns would boost online ad revenues this year.

The trouble with that thought is this:

Political campaigns–particularly Barack Obama’s, but many others as well–have learned to master social media to get their message out. Why buy online ads when a staff of two social media masterminds, a brilliant geek in a Red Sox cap and a battalion of interns can spread a powerful political message immediately, virally and essentially without cost? And far beyond the reach of any ad buy?

Political campaigns have become some of the most adept, persistent innovators in social media, and they have had a powerful effect already in motivating volunteers, generating donations and circulating millions of messages via video, pictures, widgets, blogs, Tweets, podcasts, purloined documents and endless screeds. Much of this is being done by people with no formal affiliation with the campaign–which is, of course, the way social media is supposed to work. [For details on the web 2.0 arms race [[Obama's campaign so far is kicking McCain's staff's slow-moving butt]], I invite you to attend the daily master class on such matters at the website of TechPresident.]

Paid online advertising–no matter how well targeted, contextualized and behaviorally-aware–is a garden hose.

Social media is a tidal wave.

Why bother paying for the former when all you need to do is ride the latter?

Anti-Social Media: McCainpedia

19, May, 2008

The new McCainpedia is a landmark in the history of digital media. It exploits public familiarity with a hip new communication form (in this case, wikis, which are used for group content creation and editing) and then aggressively misapplies it. This launch ranks alongside the first time a newspaper published a reporter’s blog posts in print, or when a TV news program first put faux-clickable icons on the TV screens.

The McCainpedia, published by the Democratic National Committee’s Research, Communications, and Internet teams, presents a nastyfun collection of material about McCain’s alleged flip-flops, misreadings of history, contradictions, bad ideas, inexplicable votes, curious associations and so on. Great reading, all of it, and I’m sure some portion of the material is factual.

But the McCainPedia is a wiki in lockdown. People can’t edit, question, add or remove stuff. It’s an example of anti-social media. It’s Potemkin Village 2.0. The wisdom-of-the-few. Solosourcing. Citizen journalism without the citizens. It’s Democratic but not democratic.

McCainpedia

I don’t want to suggest this isn’t a wise or effective digital communication tactic. It’s a great way to consolidate party-approved rhetoric and create a catchbasin for those looking to sip some DNC bile. I’m guessing it’ll get major SEO mojo and will pop up when people conduct searches for things like “Keating Five” and “in Iraq 100 years”.

Despite its brassy exploitation of a new form of social media, McCain is another Obama poli-tech victory. So far, McCain’s digital efforts seem like those of grammar school kids learning HTML. The e-Bama efforts, by contrast, seem to be the work of college sophomores with lousy grades but perfect SATs who spend all night in the computer lab writing programs that screw with the administration. Obama’s digital team is giving McCain’s folks a wedgie every day. We’ll see if Obama continues to lead in the digital derby as the race continues.

But for me, this all raises a more interesting question. Would it even be possible to create a real wiki that collected facts–facts!–regarding the key issues and the candidates’ positions?

Oh, I know there are formally assembled and authored documents that attempt to do this. But that’s traditional one-way publishing.

But could a real, honest-to-god, publicly authored and maintained wiki possibly provide a level-headed and factual look at the things people really should know before they vote? How could such a wiki not be immediately overrun by stooges, tools, creeps, flamers, neo-National Socialists, nutroot populists, chindrizzle party hacks and blind raging lunatics?

Which is to say, to open the question even more broadly, is the pure wiki format applicable to content areas about which members of the public have extraordinarily strong feelings? And matter so much to the future of the public?

[A tip o' the fez to TechPresident for bringing this to my attention.]


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