Political Rants and Current Events
October 17, 2004
From the powerful article everyone is quoting:
George W. Bush, clearly, is one of history’s great confidence men. That is not meant in the huckster’s sense, though many critics claim that on the war in Iraq, the economy and a few other matters he has engaged in some manner of bait-and-switch. No, I mean it in the sense that he’s a believer in the power of confidence. At a time when constituents are uneasy and enemies are probing for weaknesses, he clearly feels that unflinching confidence has an almost mystical power. It can all but create reality.
All research indicates that ‘confidence’ is one of the ugliest and most addictive habits on the market today. The much-hyped benefits do not pan out, and chronic use horribly transforms the user. In its presence and in its lack, ‘confidence’ produces the most obnoxious, empty, false, boring, petulant, pathetic and downright wrong people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.
This is downright dangerous for the president of the united states.
April 14, 2004
February 07, 2004
It explains who the neocons are, who they aren’t (they aren’t all or even mostly jewish), where they came from (leftist ideas) and what kind of influence they have had (quite a bit). Most importantly it explains why they are wrong:
The record is clear–most of the democratic transitions that have taken place in the world in the past two centuries have had nothing to do with foreign military intervention or military pressure, while most US military interventions abroad have left dictatorship, not democracy, in their wake. The two cases that neocons constantly return to, Germany and Japan, are among the few cases where democracy has been restored (not created ex nihilo) as the result of a US invasion. The Soviet bloc democratized itself from within in the 1990s, even though the United States did not bomb Moscow, impose a martial-law governor on the Poles or imprison former Hungarian Communist officials without charges in barbed-wire camps. In Latin America, Mexico became a multiparty democracy instead of a one-party dictatorship without US Marines posing for photos in the presidential mansion in Mexico City, and it was not necessary for American soldiers to kill tens of thousands of Argentines, Chileans and Brazilians for democracy to take root in those countries.
It also has a great conclusion:
Unfortunately for them, a political ideology can fail in the real world only so many times before being completely discredited. For at least two decades, in foreign policy the neocons have been wrong about everything. When the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, the hawks of Team B and the Committee on the Present Danger declared that it was on the verge of world domination. In the 1990s they exaggerated the power and threat of China, once again putting ideology ahead of the sober analysis of career military and intelligence experts. The neocons were so obsessed with Saddam Hussein and Yasir Arafat that they missed the growing threat of Al Qaeda. After 9/11 they pushed the irrelevant panaceas of preventive war and missile defense as solutions to the problems of hijackers and suicide bombers.
Update: I almost felt guilty about simply quoting a good article at length with minimal commentary, but if Atrios can do it so can I.
February 04, 2004
On the candidates
First the good news:
When the 562 likely voters were asked for their choice from a Bush v. Kerry race, 53 percent of those picked Kerry, and 46 percent favored Bush.
That difference is greater than the MOE (4%). Edwards beat Bush too, but was within the MOE. Clark was close. Via Tom Tommorow.
Now I know it’s only one poll and I should definitely take it with a grain of salt but it is part of a clear trend.
Like most Democrats and liberals, I am strictly ABB. I will vote anyone over Bush, and my chief criteria for the nominees is that they can beat Bush easily. I think any of them can beat Bush, but it is good to finally see some positive numbers. Particularly for the frontrunner.
January 19, 2004
CBS claimed that they don’t show issue ads due to their policy. Last year the insane ads equating drugs with terrorism were shown during the superbowl, but CBS didn’t have the superbowl that year. Still, I find it hard to believe that no issue ads ever air on CBS.
Calpundit asks if all the networks have similar policies and how issue ads ever get played. This comment appears to provide the answer: the campaigns and political groups buy time from the local affiliates, not the national networks. That actually makes sense; it has been said that all politics is local. The only national race is for president, and that is usually fought state by state. It is rare to have a national issue ad like the one from MoveOn.
Judith Steinberg Dean
There was a lot of talk about how her staying in Vermont hurt her husband’s campaign. She won’t be out there to help “humanize” Dean and make him seem more familiar to people. But people seem to know more about her than any of the other candidates wives. How much do we know about Jane Gephardt (I had to look her name up)? We only know about Teresa Heinz Kerry because of her money. Staying out of Howard’s campaign gives the media a story.
None of this is intentional. I imagine Judy would stay home taking care of her patients no matter what. But having a wife dedicated to being a doctor, who is staying mostly out of politics, yet getting covered has to help Howard’s campaign.
January 15, 2004
We have a winner
The writer was unsurprisingly an advertising creative. Charlie Fisher is the creative director at Leo Barnett in Copenhagen (Thanks to adland for the link), although he is originally from Denver. As this AdAge article mentions, the agency emphasizes that he did this on his own time.
It wasn’t my favorite, but it is a very good ad. I think three of the remaining ads, Child’s Play, In My Country and Poylgraph were all excellent and the decision should have been largely based on strategy.
The decision was indeed strategically wise. The winning ad criticizes Bush for creating enormous debts, an concern for both liberals and conservatives. It doesn’t attack Bush personally or sound like a rant. Libertarian Radley Balko doesn’t “…really even see how conservatives could have a quarrel with it.”
The only disadvantage to this strategy is that fiscal policy is generally boring. This as is obviously an exception, but the discussion it generates is bound to be dry. Contrast this to the anti-war ads which talk of presidents lying and soldiers dying. This is one of the reasons I picked “Bring it On” as my favorite.
My favorite was pulled and therefore ineligible. MoveOn put up a notice saying that the ad was removed “at the request of its creator” for “copyright reasons,” without specifying further. But thanks to this article I found out that:
Two days before leaving for New York, [[ad creator]] Cuenca, concerned that some of the soldiers’ parents might object to photos of their sons or daughters being used without consent, withdrew his entry from consideration.
Not really a copyright issue. And too bad. I liked the ad. Unlike the winning ad (and Polygraph) it was low budget and didn’t look polished. Which goes to show that a good idea matters more than any production values in an ad. (Thanks to Joe Sims’ comment in The Agitator for that link.)
Now MoveOn wants to run the ad during the superbowl. They probably have enough money, even though they sent me an e-mail hitting me up for more. That should generate even more publicity, not to mention get a really good ad to even more people. I hope MoveOn can serve some followup content from their site talking about Bush’s reckless spending, which they can mention at the end of the ad. I also hope they make sure to get enough server power to deal with an inevitable superbowl rush.
That man not happen at all though since:
A spokesman for CBS said the Viacom-owned network has received the request from MoveOn to run the ad in the Super Bowl, but added that the ad has to go through standards and practices before CBS will say if it can run an advocacy ad during the game. The spokesman said he didn’t think it was likely that the spot would pass standards and practices.
But Oliver “seem[s] to remember the Drugs = Terrorism ads running during halftime.” (via Xoverboard).
This contest was a fantastic idea. I really had no time before the deadline, but I am still kicking myself for not entering.
January 08, 2004
The MoveOn.org Ads
I am only showing one frame of this ad, but that is all I really need to show. There is black and white footage of Bush lying about WMDs and Saddam’s ties with Al Queda overlaid with flashing images of soldiers who have died in the Iraq war. The music is the sober tune they play at a soldiers funeral (I forget what it is called).
The ad has a clear and effective message, delivered simply. You get it right away; You could be running off to the bathroom and you’d get it. The headline (which could also be the tagline) says it all and rhymes too. The music helps the ad grab you emotionally and the simple presentation keeps you from getting bored. Congratulations to Mike Cuenca and the The Civil Society Group.
The emotional pull of Bush lying getting us into a war where many Americans gave their lives is obviously effective since it was used in 4 of the final ads including my second favorite. That ad has higher production values than the first, and just as much emotional impact, but I liked the simplicity of the tag/headline “He Lied. They Died.”
Another ad I quite liked, In My Country, tackles a different topic: the Patriot act and our shrinking freedom. This would be a good ad to run if the criticizing the Iraq war lies turns out to be a bad strategy.
I got to vote on my favorite ad in the first round of voting, where I saw a bunch of other ads as well. Most of them, of course sucked. It wasn’t the production values that made them bad; it was the ideas. Studying advertising I have learned that simple effective ideas are what make a great ad. It may be nice to have a slickly produced commercial, but a good idea can be sketched out on a piece of paper and be effective.
Calpundit links to a funny sedup of the ads. This show a lot of the problems with a lot of the ads (even many of the finalists), such as the omniscient narrator, a staple of hack political ads, saying something like “Bush has blah blah blah.. and we wont stand for it”. Like this parody, many of the ads also try to cover too much. I am quite aware that Bush is awful in many different ways, but an effective ad sticks to one idea, and gets it across effectively. If you want to make two point, get two ads. The most noticeable part of the parody was the gradual slide in to simply calling Bush names. None of the real ads I saw were this bad of course, although some were close. I know Bush deserves all these names, but when you are trying to convince someone about how bad Bush is, stick to the facts. There are plenty of good facts to use against Bush.
These ads are currently being judged by a celebrity panel. There are quite a few good names there, but I am a little disappointed that they didn’t have anyone from and ad agency. A creative director or agency principal could really ad some insight that actors, authors, musicians and political consultants might miss. I hope they pick one and run one of my top pics. A great ad can really change peoples perception.
That brings me to a new topic: I have just created an Advertising category for this blog where I will have more discussions about ads. Enjoy.
Citibank and Subjectivity
Changing URLs in comment body
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