Wondering Out Loud

Terry Moran called for illegal Tweeting

President Obama called Kanye West a jackass. I saw it on Twitter so it must be true. And Politico reported on it here. Considering what he did to Taylor Swift on Sunday night, I agree with the president: Kanye West is a jackass.  But that’s not why we’re here today.

What Terry Moran of ABC News did is inexcusable. He, or one of his staff with access to his Twitter account, sent an off the record comment across the web at light speed as casually as one might lean in to the person next to them and whisper “Psst. The president just called Kanye West a jackass.”  To call this an ethical lapse is an understatement.

This is not the same as the many “open mic” incidents that have occurred over the years with politicians, celebrities and pundits unknowingly giving us a glimpse into their true feelings. Off the record comments are commonplace and credibility is the lifeblood of any journalist. Moran broke a trust with the president and his credibility deserves to suffer for it.

There are still too many people who fail to understand the power of the internet. Who can’t grasp the simple concept that once you’ve sent a message it is A) no longer yours and B) cannot be retrieved. You can usually tell these people by the photos of last weekend’s party posted they posted on Facebook.

If we are going to be trusted to use the tools Web 2.0 has placed at our fingertips, our mindsets and how we think about ourselves in the grand scheme must evolve. With so many people having access to vast amounts of information, it’s human nature to take the occasional “scoop” and run with it before thinking about the consequences. Recent history is replete with examples of news organizations that ran with stories that were ultimately proven to be false. Granted, Moran’s tweet is not false, but it was off the record and it’s not like he revealed it to his mother during a friendly chat. No, he was talking to his 1,066,522 followers. Talk about the power of distribution.

You’ve heard of the Chaos Theory – aka Butterfly Effect? The Internet takes the theory and multiplies the effect by a factor of infinity. There’s a lot of power in those characters, all 140 of them, and Moran, or one of his colleagues, misused it.

September 15, 2009 Posted by | Journalism, Social Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

You say you want a revolution

Do any of you read Justin Kownacki? You should.

He wrote a post last month calling for a rebellion. Not an armed insurrection for the overthrow of government, rather he wants the his generation to take social media back (I didn’t know it was taken away) from those (like me) who use it for profit and use it, instead, as a catalyst for cultural change. A Woodstock for today. The Summer of Love revisited:

Social media is still locked in the hands of the technophiles and the marketers, who focus on mechanical and business applications.  They’re either unwilling or incapable of creating true cultural change, seeking instead to find practical ways to use these tools for financial profit.  And that’s functional, but it’s not the kind of sociological earthquake that’s going to define a generation — unless we become defined as the generation who’d rather consume than create.

I understand what Justin is getting at. The internet is the most powerful distribution engine ever created. Like radio and TV before it,  but with copious amounts of digital steroids injected, the WWW has opened up a new world of sharing news, information and opinion and has shattered the barriers to entry. Any garage band with aspirations for greatness can find an audience without the aid of a manager or recording contract. Any writer can satisfy their passion through blogging. Any budding director can film  – old school I know – edit and distribute their work and not have to deal with the politics of Hollywood.

Although Woodstock is considered the defining event of the Baby Boom Generation, the phenomenon of 500,000 people spending three days stoned in the mud listening to great music did not change the culture.  It was, however, one of several pieces that came together to make a dramatic and lasting impact on the cultural make up of the USofA. In fact, the cultural change Justin is seeking might have already taken place.

Like the cultural shifts of the 1960’s and 1980’s, the ingredients for a movement were in place in 2008, but a catalyst was needed to turn the potential into the kinetic. In the 60’s it was Vietnam, in the 80’s it was Reagan and in 2008 it was President Obama.

Last November, Barack Obama rode a wave into the White House. It was a wave built using social media to distribute, and make viral the candidate’s message and the messages of his supporters. Where Kennedy used television, Obama mastered the Internet to build a coalition of supporters that would assure his victory.

Only history will tell if his election was a defining moment of a generation, or one ingredient in a larger dish of cultural change. Either way, change is not an item on a menu to be ordered when one is in the mood and, more often than not, we can only recognize it and its impact through the lens of history.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , | Leave a comment

Is the MSM MIA in reporting of healthcare town hall meetings

Unless you’ve been in a coma lately, you’ve seen, read, or heard at least one of the thousands of reports about the heath care town hall meetings being held across the country. More specifically, the ones at which protesters have made their presence known. I have no doubt you’ve also been exposed to the reaction of politicians and activists on both sides of the issue. The MSM has done a good job of reporting the goings on. That said, however, I believe there is one area in which the MSM has gone MIA, and in doing so has added more dents to its already damaged reputation.

While the raucous behavior and responses are well established, the MSM is missing an opportunity to provide a compare and contrast between the heathcare town hall uprisings and those that followed W for much of his time in office.

Before people get up in arms about posters portraying President Obama as Adolf Hitler – a ridiculous comparison for him or any POTUS, repeat any, POTUS – this is not the first time this tactic has been rolled out. Here is page one of a Google image search of Bushitler.

In a USA Today commentary, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D California) told us that “drowning out opposing views is simplu un-American”. But we all know is a well-worn tactic of the Left to shout down conservative lecturers on the nation’s college campuses. In many cases lectures have been cut short due to violence perpetrated by some of Speaker Pelosi’s ideological soul-mates. 

What I see unfolding is right-of-center people have an issue that is driving them to take up the tactics of those who stand in polar opposition, those who’ve made a science of organizing and protesting, and they are not happy to have their playbook co-opted. One of the great ironies is the protesters are targeting the policies of a president who has on his resume the title of “Community Organizer”.

There is a very interesting story to be told here, I hope someone in the media will figure it out and take it up.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | Journalism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Drudge vs. Obama

There’s a dust up is in the works between The Drudge Report and the Obama Administration. It stems from a Breitbart.tv report – picked up by Drudge – that shows a pre-presidential Obama advocating government funded universal health care.

If you watch the video you’ll come to the same conclusion as I; it’s nothing more than typical opposition politics being played out in the new arena of the Internet. What’s not typical, but is becoming so under Obama, is the Administration’s response as reported by Politico’s Mike Allen.

Linda Douglass – who’s managing health care communications  for POTUS – provided a video response admonishing us to not believe everything we see. After all video can be edited and, therefore, deceiving.  

True enough, but what Douglass doesn’t do is provide a rebuttal. Other than showing two clips of President Obama promising we will be able to keep 0ur private insurance, there is nothing to prove the earlier statements Breitbart exposed are inaccurate or doctored. There’s not even an attempt to claim that Obama’s views on the subject of universal medicine have changed over time.

Adding to the problem, Douglass blames the video on people with too much time on their hands. It’s reminiscent of Dan Rather portrayal of Memogate bloggers as sitting in their basements in their pajamas. Being dismissive and condescending towards ones critics, not taking them seriously, is a tactical mistake.

One of the first rules of social media is transparency; being open and honest. If you’re going to call your critics misleading, you’d better set the record straight. The Administration’s response in this case is a complete failure.

Social media played a major role in putting Obama in the Oval Office and they’ve continued to use the tools Web 2.o has to offer, but this is a very weak attempt to bat back the opposition. This may only be a stumble, even the best do so occasionally, but it might be an illustration of how difficult is to govern using the same tactics that put you in office.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Leadership, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s fundamental problem

Just released by Zogby and Gallup are two polls that show this see saw race is still that. McCain has regained the lead in both – within the margin of error as almost all polls have been. As the polls are released and the ebb and flo continues, I asked myself, again, why isn’t Obama up by 10 points?

This time, I think I have an answer.

Obama has the star power, the charisma, the rhetorical skills (when giving a prepared speech). He has an opponent who’s old enough to have been drawing full Social Security benefits for 5 years and the bad luck of having an Albatross called George W. Bush hanging around his neck. If all that isn’t enough, we have an economy in turmoil and a sub-prime mortgage crisis that threatens shut down numerous banks. 

All of this, and more, should have Obama cruising toward an electoral landslide, but that aint happening. And here’s why.

The events of yesterday, which I posted about here, got me hearkening back to a few weeks ago when Russia invaded Georgia and the dramatically different ways the candidates reacted.

McCain took to the microphone and gave a strong statment condemning Russia’s actions. In no uncertain terms he placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Medvedev and Putin calling on them to “immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces” from Georgia.

Strong and forceful, it was the statement of a leader.

Compare that to Obama’s initial reaction:

“I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war. Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected. All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

He doesn’t condemn Russia’s invasion, rather he condemns the violence and urges and “end to armed conflict.” He asks both sides to show restraint – forget about Georgia’s right to defend its self. And he wants talks. Talks that include the UN Security Council where Russia would certainly use its veto power. He doesn’t demand Russia withdraw from Georgia. He doesn’t even suggest it.

Fast forward to yesterday and his I’ll-be-there-if-you-need-me reaction to McCain’s decision to leave the campaign trail and go back to DC to figure a way out of this mess.

Different scenario, same results.

I do believe Obama’s fundamental problem, the reason he’s not ahead by 10 points, is that he suffers from an acute case of can’t-make-a-decision-itis.

The man who voted “present” around 130 times in the Illinois State Senate assumes a deer in the headlights pose when he has to make a big decision. Especially when it needs to be made quickly.

People want a leader who makes decision, tough or easy, quickly and with conviction. Obama, in the two biggest opportunities he’s had during this campaign, has failed both times.

I think Obama is suffering from a lack of confidence and people see that. People who might otherwise vote for him are taking a second look and wondering if they can count on him to, when necessary, make a snap decision, especially when the safety of the nation is in the balance. They may not always agree with McCain, but his decisiveness is something they admire and want in a leader.

A leader must lead – obvious I know- but Obama has done nothing to prove he can. On the contrary, he’s blow the two big opportunities he’s had to step up, grab the moment and say, “Follow me.”

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous | | Leave a comment

McCain & Obama: DC and debate or bust

OK, I’ve had a chance to hear both McCain’s and Obama’s statements regarding the pending monetary meltdown. McCain wants both suspend their campaigns, postpone Friday’s debate and head back to DC to find a way out of this mess.

Obama’s plan is to continue the campaign, keep his date with the debate – because the American People want to see the two of them duking it out – and will head back to DC if his presence is needed.

Personally, I think either tactic – and let’s face it their decisions are tactical – is perfectly fine and both stated their cases well, but both also blew an opportunity to show real leadership. You decide for yourself who blew it worst.

First McCain:His call to return to DC is noble on the surface. The US and, by extension, the world are facing a potential financial disaster and leadership is needed.  It only makes sense that the two men hoping to be the next president should be in DC with the bailout plan floundering as it is. After all, in less than 4 months one of these guy is going to be at the helm and the problems we’re facing damn sure won’t be over. Under the surface it is a brilliant tactical move. Not long ago he took an unpopular stance in favor of the surge in Iraq saying he would rather lose and election in order to win a war. This is the economic equivalent.  He is apparently willing to lose the debate and potentially the election in order to do what he can to shore up the economy and prevent a catastrophe the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Great Depression.  This is all well and good, but he blew it when he called for a postponement of the debate.  We, the people, have been waiting for this debate and he and Obama can certainly take time out to debate as planned. I think he overplayed the leadership hand here. I don’t believe, like many of the Obama supporters I’ve been following, that it’s a sign of weakness or a lack of confidence. That kind of talk is partisan nonsense. But it did open the door for Obama to take a shot at McCain saying a president has to be able to manage multiple crisis at one time – how true that is.

Now Obama:Obama is correct that the debate should go on, to miss this opportunity to go before the American people is unwise. Others have reminded us that, before Obama claimed the nomination last summer, McCain offered, and Obama accepted, a plan to do 10 town hall meetings. Had Obama not backed out, we would have seen quite a bit of the two by now. That said, Obama blew it when he said during his press conference that he would be available to go to DC if he is needed. Bad move. I know he’s not supposed to agree with McCain on anything, but here is an opportunity to step to the fore and show America, and the world, his capacity to lead. He swung and missed at this one. Following McCain’s lead and going back to DC is a no-brainer. He’ll get more TV face-time – one on one – than he will on the stump and he’ll be able to claim he was part of the fix. Instead, while McCain is in DC doing the heavy lifting, Obama will be on the road, consulting with his advisers and Secretary Paulson, and waiting for the Obamaphone to ring. With the bailout leading every newscast, The action is in DC and his decision to stay on the road is not a sound one.

My take:Leaving the stump is a good idea – strategically speaking – but it’s not necessary to completely suspend the campaigns. Obama and McCain each have surrogates – not to mention VP candidates – who can continue to travel the country ginning up votes. Obama should take heed and go back to DC. Although with Obama’s VPC, Biden, being a Senator as well, that could be problematic. Going back to DC to be part of the discussion and negotiation is a winning move for both. Unfortunately in politics that won’t work because the two have to be in constant conflict, or so they think. The debate has got to go on. If McCain doesn’t show it’ll be a sign of weakness. I personally think he’d clean Obama’s clock on foreign policy, the theme of Friday’s showdown, but that doesn’t matter. It’ll be spun as weakness and weakness it’ll be. McCain, get thee to Mississippi.

The bottom line: McCain wins this round, but if he doesn’t show up in Mississippi on Friday night, he could lose a lot more than he won.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous | , , | 1 Comment

I am officially cynical

Full disclosure: I’m voting for McCain/Palin based on ideology. Warts and all, he’s my guy in 2008. I am a conservative – don’t know that I’d stipulate to being a Republican anymore.

Let me state at the outset: I love Twitter. I launch TweetDeck every morning and, when the spirit moves me, add to the conversations or start my own. But following the conversations surrounding the presidential campaign is enough to make me want to ask for a complete and total Twitter shut down until after election day.

Having followed the Twitter streams for several weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that we, each and every one of us, the entirety of the voting public are rubes, bumpkins, blind-as-bat, I’ll-follow-my-guy-to-the-ends-of-the-earth fools. C’mon people, divorce yourself from your ideology and you’ll see it clear as day. Y

You, me, we, have all been duped. 

First I’ll stipulate to the obvious: There is a tremendous difference in ideology between McCain and Obama.  But the elephant, or donkey, in the room that nobody wants to address, or admit is that both McCain and Obama are politicians.  And, as politicians, their only goal is to win (don’t care what McCain said in the past he wants this bad).

Accepting this as fact, I ask you why we spend so much time denigrating the opposition while ignoring our own candidates shortcomings?  Why do we pretend our guy is pure and the other is dirty, even evil?

I’m done being an apologist for my candidate. If he or she lies, so be it.  If they eat small children for breakfast, oh well. I’m driven by ideology and nothing else. 

SIDEBAR: I was fortunate to watch Kirby Puckett play his entire career for my hometown Minnesota Twins. He played the game the way it should be played.  He gave back to the community through his foundation and when he could have signed with another team for a lot more money, he decided to stay in the Twin Cities. Great guy.

Glaucoma forced him to retire early and, shortly after, the facade began to crack.  The stories womanizing were followed by a divorce, allegations of abuse (never proved), an allegation of sexual assaults (he was acquitted). He fell from grace, hard.

I decided then and there that all athletes were amoral. All that matters is how they play the game.

The same now goes for politicians. Every politician will do whatever it takes to win an election or get their legislation passed. The are all dirty, slimy, backstabbing, and in the pocket of special interests – oil, pharmaceuticals, teachers and labor unions, trial lawyers.

I don’t care who they “fight for” or how, the bottom line is all of them answer to a power higher than the citizens.  They answer to the ones who line their campaign coffers with cash.

Period, end of sentence.

Damn, but that was liberating.

Obama voters, won’t you join me? It’s OK, you can do it. 

Admit that Barack Obama is more than casual neighbors with Bill Ayers – Terrorist Extraordinaire.

Tell the world, “I don’t care of Obama tried to kill the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act.”

Shout out, “I know Obama is part of the Chicago Machine, but it doesn’t matter because I agree with his ideology.”

Put it on the table, get it in the open. I promise you’ll feel better.

Let’s agree that both guys are daemons so we can stop demonizing them and start debating the issues.

Obama and McCain, McCain and Obama – Ideology aside – both are as dirty as pigs in mud.

Man, I haven’t felt this good in years.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bristol Palin is pregnant

It’s true.  I heard it from several reliable sources. 

What I also heard, on Twitter and elsewhere, is uncontrolled laughter by those on the Left who find it hilarious that a pro life, abstinence teaching candidate for VP finds her 17 year old daughter pregnant. 

At the core of their laughter is their belief that those of the religious right who are rallying to Sarah Palin’s defense are being hypocritical.  See the religious right, and many others, believe sex out of wedlock is not only wrong (for many reasons) but that it is also a sin. And, the Left’s logic concludes, if one believes something to be a sin, if one hates the act, then one must hate the sinner/actor. One must drive them into exile, shun them from society, put a big red letter on their chest indicating the committed sin. It’s an example of the simple minded thinking that the Left has made famous. I like to call it vacuum thinking.

Vacuum thinking occurs when someone, say Barack Obama, claims he will reduce taxes on 95% of Americans, yet neglects to understand how it will impact the federal treasury. Or the when he supports increasing the capital gains tax as a way to hit the rich, yet fails to realize that the majority of Americans – most middle class and below – are invested in stocks and bonds and, therefore, will pay a cost for the increase.

Simple minded thinking.

There is a similar pattern to the nastiness going on around the Palin pregnancy. The Left can’t understand why the shunning and exile has not begun.  Why has the religious right not insisted on sewing a big red “P” on Bristol Palin’s chest? Why, oh why, have they not turned their back on one who has not lived up to the values that they are constantly promoting (preaching)?

There’s the vacum: We must turn on those who do not live up to our values. That may work for the Left, but we on the right see things a bit differently. 

Rather than shunning, we embrace others who don’t share our values, or who fail to live up to the values we/they believe in. Nobody is perfect.  We live our lives the best we can, but even the best of us fall.

I hope that when I fall my family and friends are there to catch me, not let me drop. I hope they are there to remind me of our values and the importance of doing all we can to live up to those values.

Among the values the Left is turning a blind eye to now are forgiveness and compassion.  They are sometimes applied forcefully and sometimes with a tender hand, but they are the cornerstone and are on display today in a way that we should all be proud of.

At the same time, the other side of the aisle is proudly displaying their hatred of anything and anyone that doesn’t match up with their view of the world.

Lucky for them those cornerstones exist.

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous | , , , | 1 Comment

The Race Card

The race is heating up and allegations of playing the race card are flying fast and furious. 

On the Obama side, supporters are claiming McCain and his supporters are replacing the racist “uppity” with code when they say Obama is “arrogant, “presumptuous”, and “getting ahead of himself”. 

On the other side of the fight, McCain supporters accuse of Obama of throwing the first card when, several times in one day, he said, and I’m paraphrasing here [emphasis added]: “They’re gonna try and scare you by saying, ‘he’s not patriotic enough. He has a funny last nameHe doesn’t look like all those presidents on those dollar bills.'”

The above is a slight twist on a speech he gave last month.  That time he said [emphasis added], “They’re gonna try and scare you by saying, ‘he’s not patriotic enough. He has a funny last nameDid I mention he’s black?'”

No judgement here, just repeating what’s already public record.

Now I’m going to judge. 

On another front, I heard a radio interview with a self described independent journalist.  The subject was the percieved favoritism Obama is receiving in the press.  For the most part the journalist did a good job of stating his case, but when the interviewer said, “It appears the press is cheerleading for Obama” the guest went off the tracks with his response.  He took one word, “cheerleading” and twisted it into a mysoginistic and racist comment. 

How, you ask.

Cheerleading leads one to think of highschool girls and, when used in the same sentence with with a black man, leads one to think of the stereotype of black men being sexually aggressive and specifically , in this case, sexually aggressive with white high school girls. 

Yep, that’s the twisted logic we’re dealing with here.

So here is the Obama Backer’s dicitionary as it stands today:

Arrogant = Uppity

Cheerleading = black men having sex with highschool girls

I don’t look like all those other guys/did I mention he’s black= (definition to be determined by Obama supporters)

Tell me again, who the racists are? 

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous | , , | Leave a comment


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