I received a note from Justin Cole at Media Matters about 20 minutes ago, letting people know about two new articles they published relating to the mainstream medias unending obsession with John Edwards' haircut. I thought it was amusing at first, but now it's become downright disturbing in light of all the serious news happening in the world, and the also-serious issues that Edwards is campaigning on.
Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) broke with President Bush recently on the Iraq war, embracing withdrawal without committing to a plan of any sort. He likes the idea, he just won't sign onto it yet, it seems.
Media Matters decided to break out a stopwatch and find out how much time each of the 24-hour news networks spent talking about Domenici's break over the war, and time spent discussing Edwards haircut. I expected Fox to bury the Domenici story because it doesn't fit with their narrative. Neither does the public polling showing 70% of the country supporting at least timed withdrawal.
As expected, Fox News topped the list, spending 16.4 minutes talking about Edwards haircut during prime time on July 5th, a story that wasn't even a story when it happened but was incessantly repeated and written about by Ben Smith of the Politico - repeatedly linked to from the front page of the Drudge Report - and laughed about from the pillars of News Corp for weeks on end.
It didn't matter what was going on in Congress, the West Wing, in in other parts of the world. The number one story coming from the right over the past few months has been Edwards hair. You can speculate endlessly about the reasons why, I personally believe that the right fears John Edwards more than any other candidate. In what typically is the typically solidly red state of North Carolina, my current home, John Edwards leads all Republican presidential candidates in head-to-head matchups, often leading by margins exceeding those of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama.
Fox News only spent 1 minute and 40 seconds on the Domenici story, second only to MSNBC's 1 minute and 20 seconds. For their role in all of this, MSNBC appears to have been calling plays directly from the GOP's play book, spending virtually the same amount of time on Edwards as did Fox, playing the role of beauticians for 15.4 minutes.
Tucker Carlson, MSNBC's lowest rated host spent the second most time talking about Edwards' hair, about 5 minutes, coming in just behind Hannity & Colmes, who went for 5 1/2 minutes on Edwards while spending no time whatsoever on Pete Domenici's defection.
The heroes of this story appear to be CNN, who collectively spent 11 minutes talking about Domenici, and just 45 seconds Edwards.
Apparently, this latest gossip disgrace was inspired by a Washington Post editorial by John Solomon. The divergence in talent at the Post couldn't be more stark when you have Solomon writing 1300 words regurgitating a fluff story from the far right that happened months ago, and the superb reporting by Dana Priest over the past two years, winning a Pulitzer prize for her reporting on the CIA's "rendition" program which flew enemy combatant's from United States custody to overseas countries where they were allegedly tortured.
I find it likely that Priest will win another Pulitzer for her reporting on the unsanitary conditions of the Walter Reed Army hospital.
Solomons claim to fame is scoring an interview with the person who cuts Edwards Hair, according to Media Matters - I refuse to read Solomons piece so I have no idea what was done or said.
This is what I've come to expect from Fox, and the Politico, but I really thought MSNBC would be above such a ridiculous circus. A day doesn't go by when more American soldiers and Iraqi civilians are slaughtered in Iraq, and a staunch Republican Senator switching sides to oppose the war is big news, even if Domenici is simply jockeying for a tough coming reelection campaign in light of his involvement with the U.S. Attorney firings - a deeply unpopular scandal with voters.
Found this great post over at MyDD about the inherent weakness of the conservative "blogosphere", which is something I've been thinking and writing about lately. I went off on a rant a few weeks ago on Newsvine about all of the thinks I was sick of with conservatives, and then asked any conservatives readers to make their own list.
I thought at worst it would be amusing, though it might provide some valuable insight into what conservative voters didn't like about the way things are done in this country, something that would help us adjust our campaign messages and strategies to shore up conservative support and fulfill the commitment of elected politicians to serve the people, not serve only the people in their own party.
Not surprisingly, not one of them took the opportunity, but it got me thinking, how often did do you see conservatives reach out in any given community and tussle around? I know on Newsvine in particular, it's very common for liberals to show up in the comments of articles written by conservatives to keep them honest, but you basically never see the opposite.
I suppose it's just a fundamental difference between the two groups of personalities, where liberals to a degree are simply more interested in affecting change in the world for the better while conservatives are mostly content to sit still and cry about it louder than most everyone else.
That theme seems to match up with what Chris Bowers wrote yesterday, and I suppose there's nothing of real value there, but it's still interesting.
Moving from theory into practice, the Googlebomb campaign took place in the final weeks of the 2006 elections, and resulted in successful a search engine optimization project targeting 52 of the closest House and Senate races in the country. Over the final two weeks of the 2006 election, the Googlebomb campaign allowed negative information on the local Republican candidate--all from trusted local news sources--to reach 700,000 voters inside each relevant district (or, about 5% of the electorate in those districts). The total cost of the campaign was a piddling $350.
Predictably, the right-wing blogosphere freaked out when we did this, and the hate mail poured through my indox. However, it was a perfect example of what I predicted would happen sixteen months earlier. The greater size of the left-wing blogosphere, its far more pronounced bent toward direct activism, its independent, bottom-up communities, and its superior internal communication networks made a project like the Googlebomb campaign an incredible success. Utilizing Scoop platforms and private emails lists for volunteer recruitment and article research (click here to see how it all happened), progressive bloggers around the country were able to put the plan into motion in just three days. Then our vast size simply took over, once again with a huge assist from community building tools like personal signatures on Dailykos. By way of contrast, lacking both widespread implementation of effective community blogging software and a readership heavily engaged in direct online activism, there was no conceivable means for the smaller conservative blogosphere to match our efforts. As such, their counter Googlebomb was, in the vernacular of search engine optimization, a miserable failure (and a rip-off to boot).
Sorry for the large blockquote, but there's still plenty to read over there. I just wanted to point out that what I noted a few weeks ago is endemic of the GOP as a whole, where they simply are not interested in doing the grunt work to get what they want out of politics. If you take away the significant money advantage and the tendency to be sensationalistic little hate mongers, they'd probably have no national party either.
I keep hearing about this vaunted GOP technology machine that is decades ahead of what Democrats have but perhaps the reason for that disparity is the money involved, not really it's necessity or our lack of trying. And what has that machine gotten them recently other than a blow out in 2006?
You can argue, and I think I would argue, that the losses that Democrats were racking up before '06 were due more to the state of the country and the pervasive unfounded fear of terrorism and a casual complacency amongst Democrats with eight good years under Clinton than they ever did better organizational skills and activism interests.
Chris Bowers thinks the Democratic campaigns are blurring their messages intentionally to avoid having to answer tough questions, or at least I think that's the gist of it.
I dug up this quote as a way to expand upon Matt's question from Saturday, where he asked why Clinton seemed to be gaining support within the progressive blogosphere and open left. Matt's instincts are the same as mine, that "all the campaigns are blurring their messaging," and so "if everyone is pretending to be the standard wordprocessor, why not just choose Microsoft Office?" Blurring is very much a problem other candidates are facing right now, and the Mark Penn quote shows that blurring is actually a key component of Clinton's strategy.
Hillary of all people should be losing ground instead of gaining it with progressives, since she steadfastly refuses to admit her vote for the war was wrong. There is precious little integrity in Washington and most of it starts with the inability to admit errors in judgement.
Part of that is the media having turned from news broadcasters into 24/7 entertainment channels, and there just isn't enough news to fill the air 24 hours a day. So they find a nugget and blow it up until it's roughly the size of Ralph Nader's ego, and then play it until people can't stand it anymore.
Politicians aren't afraid of the people (they should be) they are afraid of the media, so they've morphed from honest people who make mistakes to jerks who can't ever admit being wrong.
Let's be absolutely clear: this country got to where it is today because people ran on the GOP side that weren't shaped by this culture, but were born to it and thrive in it. Bush has probably never taken responsibility for anything in his entire life, so this who deal is second nature.
We don't need more of those people, we need less. Hillary strikes me as someone who doesn't want to be that, but is exactly that anyway.
Democrats have the advantage and all they can do between now and 2008 is blow it themselves. Let's not hand this one away by playing typical beltway games with the truth and reality.
Funny how people like taking shots at John Edwards for being wealthy, but not any of the other millionaire candidates (virtually all of them on both sides)
The Politico's Ben Smith is obsessed with John Edwards' hair cut. Maybe Edwards isn't the one you should worry about, Ann.
AmericanThinker writes a cheap hit piece of Edwards using his 2004 campaign staff to create the Center for Promise & Opportunity, the exact same thing Gov. Howard Dean did after his failed presidential bid when he created Democracy for America. Leave it to wingnuts to try to paint creating a center to fight poverty as a bad thing.
Take a look at John Edwards' education policy plan. There are some things more important that war, you know?
Edwards is doing a webcast tomorrow (23rd) to talk about U.S. foreign policy.
I commend the Senator for his plans to protest the illegal Iraq war on Memorial Day, and unlike others, I could think of nothing more apropos. What better way to remember service members of past who have given their lives to protection this nation than to demand we bring home todays service members who are stuck in an unwinnable foreign civil war?
First of all, national polling this far out doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot. Forget the embarrassing moments on TV that can take a campaign that was dominating everything in sight to a bow out in about 24 hours, we're simply talking about how sentiment can change over the course of god knows how many moneys until the first primaries.
Still, if any polls out there matter, it's still (like it or not) Iowa and New Hampshire. Other states (tons) have moved their primary dates up (good) but these states still get the first crack. A win in any other early states can take a national candidate running third to the front in a hurry, and can likewise destroy a front runner that has a poor early showing.
So where is John Edwards in Iowa's most recent poll? Leading the pack of course. He's also a regular winner of the DKos straw polls as well, which means he's got staying power with both early voters in IA and NH, and the netroots base.
Presidential candidate John Edwards leads rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans likely to take part in the Democratic caucuses.
The Iowa Poll shows Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, is the first choice of 29 percent of those who say they definitely or probably will attend the January caucuses, which kick off the nominating process for the nation.
Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, edges out Clinton for second place in the poll — 23 percent to 21 percent.
Former Governor Mitt Romney is leading the Republican field by an ever larger margin, 30% to second place Senator John McCain's 18%. Poor Ron Paul, probably the best guy in the entire field all around doesn't even register.
It'll be interesting to see how long Edwards can keep his lead, since I'm pretty sure he's had it ever since he announced his candidacy. He spent a lot of time in Iowa after the 2004 loss building this thing, it's no surprise it's paying dividends already.
John Edwards has picked up a respectable number of endorsements from Georgia state legislators and others from around the state.
According to the official campaign website, Edwards is going to speak on the Don Imus fiasco sometime today. You can check out the podcast and well as others on the Edwards podcast page.
A note from the far reaches of the right-wing fringes of the Internet where they are apparently increasingly bored out of their minds. Newsbusters is a site labeling itself as "exposing and combating liberal media bias." One would note that you can hardly be an objective revealer of bias when your stated intent is to get involved in the story. Beyond that, the news that is being "busted" today is John Edwards' haircut, the manufactured story from the right designed to keep the media from talking about important issues such as John McCain singing and laughing about bombing Iran.
So there you have it, todays liberal media bias being busted consists of the conservative obsessions with a mans hair. Oh, how can they not possibly see the irony? They mock him for caring about his hair, but who is the one obsessing over it, Edwards in a year old video, or right-wing bloggers dragging the story out for weeks on end?
Glenn Greenwald wrote recently on how the supposed "press" has been eating from the hand of conservative "issue" manufacturers over the Edwards hair story and how damaging it is to everyone who takes the bait when there are so many other more honest and important things to be reporting and writing about. I've woken up to a dose of it this morning while reading my news alerts, take this one for example from an Idaho newspaper.
First, Edwards' construction of a $5.3 million, 28,000-square-foot mansion in North Carolina made news that surely put him out of touch with Middle America voters struggling to meet mortgage payments and hold on to jobs that are vanishing overseas.
To insinuate that wealthy people are out of touch with middle America simply because of their social status is ridiculous, and if it had any merit, virtually every president and member of Congress in the past 30 years would be wandering bafoons.
John Edwards may have made a fortune as a very successful trial lawyer fighting for the victims of medical malpractice, but he's got nothing on President Bush, and unlike Edwards who earned his wealth on his own, Bush had everything he has given to him on a silver platter.
Does that mean Bush is hopelessly out of touch with middle America? No, even though he is, it's not because he's rich, it's because he's stupid. It's a dishonest personal attack that has no relevance on Edwards' interest in helping the poor get out of poverty. And I might add this is something Edwards is campaigning on, something Bush has never addressed in his life.
Now we're somehow supposed to believe that because Edwards is rich, that he doesn't care about the poor, even though he's campaigning on the issue unlike the entire wealthy and apparently uncaring Republican field? I don't know of a single top tier candidate on either side that doesn't have a million dollar home somewhere in the country, so this lame accusation makes them all incapable of addressing poverty.
Uh, no...not so much.
To me, it's rather like saying I can't identify with the problems women face because I'm not a woman (sexist) or African Americans because I'm white (racist.) They don't have a term as far as I know for the prosperity divide, but it's equally disingenuous.
Meanwhile, the Internet is alive with a videotape spoof of Edwards combing his hair with background music, "I Feel Pretty."
Created and consistently spread by right-wingers who want the obedient media to focus on this instead of Edwards plan to decrease poverty, create universal health care, and end the Iraq war. They want this because those are issues they can't win on. Just like during the 2006 elections, conservatives are scurrying to avoid having to debate the real issues because they aren't interested in solving real problems. They want power, period. War is the ultimate way to express that power which is why you don't find Republican anti-war candidates. It has nothing to do with right or wrong, it's all about who has the power.
Joe Trippi was the campaign manager for Governor Howard Dean, and was pretty much responsible for being the first in turning the Internet into a fund raising machine. Unfortunately, he also has the distinction of being blamed for Dean's poor showing in New Hampshire and Iowa for not spending enough money and other resources on the ground game. Either way I don't think it matters what it comes to fund raising because everyone is sucking the 'net dry these days.
According to the Times, Trippi is coming out of retirement because he believes there is too much at stake to fail now.
Mr. Trippi has worked in presidential politics nearly every four years since his first campaign in 1980, when he was an aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. But his rise to prominence, particularly among Democratic loyalists in the blogosphere, came during the Dean campaign, where he developed something of a cult following.
For Mr. Edwards, Mr. Trippi will be an adviser on media strategy and the Internet.
By integrating social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.com with traditional political campaigns, he said, the Web is shaping the 2008 race in far greater ways than it did four years ago.
Well, that's debatable. Having 1,000,000 friends on MySpace (50% of them are spammers, 25% are girls, the rest are guys pretending to be girls) doesn't mean anything unless you are converting them into voters first, and campaign volunteers second.
If that's all Trippi does, then I'm sure he'll be a great help the campaign. However, if there was a lesson to be learned from 2004 above all else, it's that the established practice of say nothing at all rather than the wrong thing is not something people want to get from their leaders. I suppose you could say that for nearly every race, but maybe this time they are finally getting a clue.
The Hotline has some quotes from the team on Trippi's arrival.
There are more tangible benefits to going green than cleaning up the environment that we all have to live in. More money means more research means more efficient technology. Cheaper for consumers, cheaper for energy producers, and better for the planet -- we all win.
The planet has gotten nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit hotter over the past 30 years and will get another degree hotter due to greenhouse gas pollution already in the atmosphere. The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990.
Translation: it only takes a 1 degree rise in ocean temperatures to kill off almost all coral, which is the bedrock of all ocean life. Without it, we see a mass die off along with a significant drop in oxygen generation. Trust me when I say we don't want that to happen, and that the consequences are far graver than losing a pretty place to rec-dive.
On top of releasing his health care plan to the public so people can read for themselves what his plans are, also proving that he actually has plans and ideas once he gets into the White House, Edwards is ramping up other plans and letting people have a go at them. Speaking of health care, here is a message from Elizabeth Edwards that was sent out in February. Health care is extremely important when the richest nation on the planet has half its population unable to get medical insurance and go to a doctor when they really need it. Some candidates don't care, but we do.
Invest in Weatherized Homes and More Efficient Buildings and Appliances: Upgrading home furnaces, ducts, windows, and insulation can cut energy bills by 20 to 40 percent, year after year.
Good for consumers, not so good for profiteering utilities. On the other hand, states such as California that are reaching demand that outstrips supply could really benefit from this.
Reduce the U.S. Government's Energy Use by 20 Percent and Make the White House Carbon Neutral. The U.S. government is the nation's single largest energy consumer, with a $15 billion energy bill in 2005. However, its investments in energy efficiency have been cut in half since 2001. Edwards will overhaul federal buildings and vehicles to emphasize efficiency, reducing the use of energy by 20 percent, and expand the government's use of renewable sources. After taking energy efficiency steps at the White House, he will purchase carbon offsets to make it carbon-neutral. [DOE, 2006; Alliance to Save Energy, 2007]
That is a something that can be a huge difference, and a large portion of it can be done by order of the President without having to wade through Congress. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world though if Congress wanted to take the lead on this issue. *Hint* *Hint*.
Read more on Edwards plan over at the official blog. Tons of solid ideas over there, go read!
According to Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin, cancer isn't quite the taboo that it used to be. Via AP:
"The way voters respond depends very much on the specific illness involved and the extent to which they tend to think of it as being a risk to the candidate's long-term health," Garin said.
In the case of Democratic candidate John Edwards, the former senator and his wife, Elizabeth, called a news conference to announce that her breast cancer had returned in incurable form and spread to other parts of the body, but that it would not slow his presidential campaign.
This of course is a subject because of the recent announcement made by the Edwards' regarding Elizabeth's recent change in condition, though I'm not sure why that would influence anyone's vote one way or another, since she isn't the candidate. Maybe it plays to a persons honesty, who knows. Also recently diagnosed are Republican Senator Fred Thompson and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.
I haven't been up on this issue since I was away when it was announced, but I would note that incurable doesn't mean untreatable -- that's very important to understand. The last I heard, the news was even worse for Snow, and even though I think the guy is a giant weasel (a requisite for being the Press Secretary) and hypocrite, amongst other things, I'm very sad to hear about this. Though misguided on any number of issues, I'm sure he is a genuinely nice guy, and I'd hate to see any of these people have bad things happen, and cancer is pretty bad no matter how you look at it.
"The interesting question that remains to be answered is: How are the people who vote going to look at this?" said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, who keeps a cancer blog on the Internet. "How all this plays out remains to be seen. I think it shines the light on a very important fact, which is that we have many more cancer survivors today."
Lichtenfeld, who is 60, recalls being smacked as a child for daring even to mention cancer to an aunt who had the disease.
I find the prospect of any disease being so taboo that it not be spoken of to be abhorrent. How can you possibly come to terms with something so deadly and misunderstood when people are literally abusing their children to keep them from speaking of it? How much more primitive can you get? Let's just take the next logical step and move back into caves for crying out loud.
Cancer is a top killer in the world and of all the things we could be doing to fight it and raise awareness for early testing, to have the possibility that we dare not even speak of it is just appallingly.
I'm not very keen on the issue. On the one hand I think the companies that own the backbones really ought to be able to do whatever they want with their property, yet it doesn't make sense in our society to allow one company to charge another for something when they have no active business relationship. It's kind of like a toll booth that not only charges cars to pass through, but also a company such as Dell, who owns the cargo in the back of a semitrailer that is passing through the booth.
The toll booth and Dell have no business relationship, but they want to charge Dell because their cargo represents 80% of the long haul traffic going through the gate. Yet they are already making money from the people who own those trucks, so how does such a wild idea make any sense?
Well, it doesn't, and that's what net neutrality is all about. AT&T can charge their own customers whatever they want, but they shouldn't be allowed to charge Google for sending traffic through their pipes when Google is already paying for that traffic with whoever is providing them with bandwidth.
"Information vehicles like YouTube, the Internet at large, blogging, video blogging, all these things are ways for democracy to flourish. They're ways for ordinary Americans to participate in the process," he said.
Let me do a bit more explaining. You request a video from YouTube, which is sitting on their servers. Your ISP is Comcast, while YouTube is getting their Internet access through Level3, but your ISP doesn't have a direct connection to Level3, so how does the traffic find its way through?
Big providers like Level3 and AT&T have agreements called peering, where AT&T will say "I need to connect to you, and you need to connect to me." So long as the amount of traffic flowing between the two is roughly equal, they will make these connections and often will do it for free, because it benefits them both. That's the deal, they both win. Then they both have their own customers that connect exclusively to them, and that's where they get their money. But now they have this bright idea that if tons of traffic originates from somewhere else on the Internet, but must traverse their own pipes, they'll charge the owner of the traffic since they can't charge their own peers.
"This goes to the heart and soul of democracy. Because, if Democracy is going to work in this country, then we want people to be well informed and we want a wide variety of diverse voices to be heard. And that's what is at issue with these media conglomerates … We really have to stay on top of this because what we see flourishing at the grassroots can be stomped on if we're not careful."
That's not what I want to hear on the issue, but it's a step in the right direction. The integrity of the network must be maintained at all costs, or it'll stop working altogether.