Archive for June, 2009

I could give you pens, so many pens

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

From that Mediadecoder blog, a story outlining a swag-auction:

This Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Fontana’s NYC, the ASSME, or American Society of (Recently Fired) Media Elites –- the group’s actual name doesn’t render very well in New York Timesland –- will hold a raffle of those tchotchkes its members no longer hold dear, including an American Idol gumball machine, a pristine unopened Spice Girls pin, a Jack Bauer action figure (mug shot not included), a set of Being John Malkovich nesting dolls and the ever popular Pee Wee’s Playhouse mini backpack.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go toward supporting homeless people with AIDS and HIV. The swagless will be asked for a $5 donation.

Double points for the Dune reference

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Regular readers of this blog (or followers of me on Twitter) know that we’re nerds. So with that in mind, enjoy John Hodgman’s speech on nerd rights from the 2009 Radio and TV Correspondents’ Dinner:

via Videogum.

The “G” stands for nepotism

by Team Politics
Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Just kidding. But Google did recently invest more money in a company founded by Sergey Brin’s wife.

The investment, which Google disclosed in a regulatory filing on Thursday, brings Google’s total investment in the company to $6.5 million. Two years ago, Google invested $3.9 million in 23andMe.

Google’s investment was part of a second round of financing for the company, in which Mr. Brin invested $10 million of his own money.

23andMe offers genetic tests that allows customers to map their DNA and helps them find information about their ancestry and their risk of getting certain diseases.

So here’s my theory: 23andMe is going to genetically test everyone in the world, then host the genetic information of every human on (guess where?) Google’s servers. When the Google-created nano-plague threatens to decimate the population, we’ll have no choice but to cede our rights to the Google-ocracy.

She’s baaaaaaaack…

by Team Politics
Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Remember meanie Liz Becton? Well turns out her rants weren’t her first offense.

From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:00 PM
To: [SCHEDULER ONE]; Democratic Schedulers
Subject: RE: Boycott Longworth on Tuesday

For those of you who do not know, there are TWO women named “D____” who both work in the Longworth Cafeteria.

My boss and I are friends with the woman who was erroneously named in the original boycott email. She would be VERY upset if she knew her name was being sent out as the woman who was suspended.

I’ve received a snotty email from one particular scheduler who doesn’t understand the ramifications of having their name sullied by erroneous information. She wondered about my point…

Here’s a link:

Elizabeth Becton
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Office of Congressman Jim McDermott


Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:07 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth; [SCHEDULER ONE]; Democratic Schedulers
Subject: RE: Boycott Longworth on Tuesday

Please calm down…

Office Manager/Scheduler
Office of Congressman ZZZ


From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:08 PM
To: [SCHEDULER TWO]; [SCHEDULER ONE]; Democratic Schedulers
Subject: RE: Boycott Longworth on Tuesday


Why don’t you apologize and I will.

Elizabeth Becton
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Office of Congressman Jim McDermott


He’s arrived!

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Pete Hoekstra made a mistake yesterday:

This time Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra compared the Twitter activity in Iran to when Republicans used Twitter to express dissatisfaction over Speaker Pelosi’s decision to adjourn Congress.

“Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House,” Hoekstra tweeted from his BlackBerry today.

It’s almost exactly the same. Except there’s been five straight days of protests in Iran, foreign journalists are banned from covering the demonstrations, at least eight people have been killed, violence is widespread, protesters have been jailed, and businesses closed down early today just so hundreds of thousands of people could protest the election results at a rally.

This compared to last August when a few Republicans got on their BlackBerries and voiced their disappointment with Speaker Pelosi’s decision to adjourn Congress before taking a vote on an energy bill. They tweeted for awhile, enjoyed a ham sandwich, and then went on vacation for a month.

Well okay, that’s…pretty dumb. And now he’s a meme!

To Hoekstra is to whine using grandiose exaggerations and comparisons.

Like, say:

Tripped and fell today. Now I know how they felt on the Bataan death march.


Sneezed today. Reminded me of the influenza epidemic of 1918.

People like trash

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 18th, 2009

I’ve noticed today that a lot of publications’ “Most popular stories” lists are full of content that isn’t…super intellectual. For example, we all know that Huffington Post isn’t a substantive political site. But today it’s just being ridiculous:

Oh man, I bet liberal movers and shakers are rearranging their calendars based on ANOTHER LOHAN TOPLESS TWITTER PHOTO or the Lange/Buck feud. Still, the preponderance of trash on HuffPo’s most popular stories may just be indicative of its reach. Let’s compare HuffPo’s most popular stories to those of a more niche publication, say, Politico:

Ahem. Tawdry. But at least in the four and five spots contain some substantive content. Right? Right?

But Politico traffics in gossip! Let’s check a more august pub:

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. “With This Burger, I Thee Wed?” What are people learning from these lists?

Whatever. I have to go watch Daisy of Love now.

“This is it. The big one.”

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

The very sharp Clay Shirky gives an interview about social media and the electoral strife in Iran.

I’m always a little reticent to draw lessons from things still unfolding, but it seems pretty clear that … this is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Chicago demonstrations of 1968 where they chanted “the whole world is watching.” Really, that wasn’t true then. But this time it’s true … and people throughout the world are not only listening but responding. They’re engaging with individual participants, they’re passing on their messages to their friends, and they’re even providing detailed instructions to enable web proxies allowing Internet access that the authorities can’t immediately censor. That kind of participation is reallly extraordinary.

Interesting stuff.

This is the best thing

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Who says that Republicans are the only nuttos on the Hill? For some Democratic lunacy, look no further than the wackadoo e-mail exchange between a lobbyist type and Rep. Jim McDermott’s (D-WA) office manager ELIZABETH Becton:

An executive assistant at McBee Strategic recently learned this the hard way. A few weeks ago, the assistant e-mailed Becton seeking a meeting with McDermott and a client, JPMorgan Chase. Days later, the assistant checked back in and unfortunately began the e-mail with “Hi Liz.”

Becton curtly replied, “Who is Liz?”

When the assistant wrote back with an apology, Becton turned up the heat. “I do not go by Liz. Where did you get your information?” she asked.

The back-and-forth went on for 19 e-mails, with the assistant apologizing six times if she had “offended” Becton, while Becton lectured about name-calling.

Read the whole exchange. It’s simultaneously epic and disturbing. But seriously, if anyone ever calls me “Joey,” I will set them on fire.

K-Lo leaving NRO

by Team Politics
Monday, June 15th, 2009

Political nut-wonk Kathryn Jean Lopez will be leaving her position as editor of National Review Online. Well, not entirely:

I will soon be stepping aside as editor of National Review Online.  I’m not going too far. I’ll still be contributing to NRO with ideas and content, and if you are an author or reader you might not notice much of a change. I’ll probably still be bugging you for pieces if you’re an author and I’ll still be traffic-copping the Corner. But I will be moving my primary base of operation in the fall from New York to D.C., and will no longer honcho NRO on a day-by-day basis.

Still, it looks like a storied tradition in political wackiness is ending today, or at least on hold.

Grassley defends his tweets

by Team Politics
Monday, June 15th, 2009

Oh man, Chuck Grassley is milking this Twitter thing for as long as he possibly can. On “Fox News Sunday”, the Iowa senator called his poorly-spelled, BIZZarely cAPITalized tweets, “very Senatorial.”

“We’ve had a dialogue with this president since January the 20th on a program to get a bill to the floor … for July and we’re still on that timetable, and (for) the president to say that we ought to deliver it made it look like Congress wasn’t working — the very weekend that we were working Saturday and Sunday in Washington to keep on schedule while he was sightseeing,” Grassley said.

This is becoming a Norm MacDonald-style tautology: Iowans like Twitter.

Left-leaning blog readership dips after election

by Team Politics
Monday, June 15th, 2009

At Bloggasm, Simon Owens examines blog traffic after the election:

It’s a well known trend that web traffic on political sites falls immediately after election season, but how much has it fallen this time around, and have any blogs or political ideologies weathered the off-season better than others?

I found that page views for all political blogs fell 109,719,615, or 53%. Right of center blogs weathered the post-election season a little better, falling only 37%, while blogs that were left-of-center fell by 64%.

The comments in this post are interesting.

“Loved it!”

by Team Politics
Monday, June 15th, 2009

From Wonkette, we are treated to a charming Michael Steele video:

Because, you see, he’s hip.

CNN Fails

by Team Politics
Monday, June 15th, 2009

Gawker sums up CNN’s hamfisted treatment of the Iranian election debacle best:

In what could be viewed as a watershed moment for social networking and the internet in general, here you have an oppressive regime with little tolerance for dissent doing everything in its power to stymie an uprising and failing miserably because of the ability of individuals to bypass the state-controlled media outlets and communicate with each another directly. To think that the very social networking tools conceived as intangible ideas by young Americans just a few short years ago in dorm rooms and basements and garages have now come to fruition as something tangible with the power to influence the course of events halfway across the world—Well, it’s kind of breathtaking.

Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz had Rick Sanchez and sportswriter Gregg Doyel on Reliable Sources for an utterly useless but incredibly ironic debate over Twitter’s relevance. To his credit Sanchez, a mildly obsessive Twitterer, sort of gets it, mentioning that he interviewed someone in Tehran on his show that he’d met on Twitter, but no one on the show seemed to grasp the fact that the Twitter was in midst of handing CNN its proverbial ass as a news source before, during and after the airing of Reliable Sources.

The video:

Incidentally, worth checking out #cnnfail and #iranelection.

“You’re like a walking Colonial Williamsburg”

by Team Politics
Friday, June 12th, 2009

I don’t stay up late, except to watch reruns of my favorite television program, so I usually miss The Daily Show, or watch the notable clips on the interworbs. Still, I’m dismayed that I missed this piece from Jason Jones:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
End Times
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Newt Gingrich Unedited Interview

Essentially he skewers the New York Times for being a dying coelocanth, adrift in an ocean full of coelocanth skeletons.

I guess as a quid pro quo, the NYT interviewed Jones. Here’s my favorite (stupid) question:

Given that “The Daily Show” is dependent on other news media to provide you with your fodder, is it counterproductive to help bring down an organization that supplies your content?

Ya hear that, Jonesy? The NYT is the only game in town!

Clean Coal’s unblog

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I don’t want to be a hippie here, but part of participating in social media is actually, you know, participating. A lot of orgs don’t realize this and just use their blog as another PR cannon, rather than a communication tool. Take, for example, the Factuality Blog from the site America’s Power, aka Clean Coal, aka American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

We’ll ignore the fact that a video auto-plays when you visit the site, and that when you load the blog (in an interesting pop-up that lets you stay on the site), the video continues to play, giving you a bizarro soundtrack for your blog reading.

It’s just that the blog isn’t very…bloggy.

The blog does a great job of examining clean coal technologies and explaining the organization’s stances on issues:

Located four miles south of Council Bluffs, Iowa, MidAmerican Energy’s Walter Scott Energy Center is one of the cleanest of its kind in North America.

It generates more than 1,600 megawatts of affordable electricity, which has a positive long-term economic impact on the region (a region that includes a Google data facility).

The on-site settling pond provides successful nesting sites for two endangered bird species: the piping plover and the least tern.

The facility employs over 200 people with an annual payroll of about $17.5 million. And it pays over $7 million in annual property tax.

Well written, interesting, concise. But link-less. It doesn’t even link within the organization, or to another blog post or to any other sources on the topic. So how is it different from a press release? Other than the fact that it’s on a blog, of course.

I’m not saying that every post should contain a link (or lots of them) to outside content. Certainly one of the advantages of having a blog is that it lets an organization offer its ideas to the public without depending on a journalist or shill to publish them.

But one of the keys to successful talking is listening. And blogs do this by linking to other blogs and information sources. Jeez, the only links on the first page of this blog are to the City of Douglas, WY, and a page dedicated to the Jackalope (hilarious!). Are those the only people Clean Coal is listening to?

Most importantly, when you click on the title of a post on this blog, you don’t get a permalink. Permalinks, individual links to individual blog posts, are one of the key building blocks of blogging culture. Other bloggers can’t respond very effectively to an idea, whether arguing with it or endorsing it, unless you offer easily accessible permalinks.

For example, click on the headline for this post to see our permalink, which looks like this:

Iowans like Twitter, apparently

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

We’ve established that Iowa Senator Chuck “Splendor in the” Grassley likes Twitter (he’s going to get his own tag on this blog soon, the way things are going). Political orgs in his home state have caught on:

SEIU’s Change that Works Iowa campaign has stumbled upon a cute, creative, and timely way to deliver their message for health care reform directly to that state’s senior senator. Now, we know Chuck I’m no NAILGrassley is among national politics’ most active and passionate Twitterers. And so the home-state arm of the labor giant hit pinged the Senate Finance Committee’s ranking Republican with “24 Hours of Health Care” — a full day’s worth of hourly tweets telling the poignant personal stories of Iowans in health care crises.

The format of each tweet-story: a terse recap of the Iowan’s circumstances sent from @CTWIowaSEIU, containing a short link to a fuller version of their personal stories, as posted on the SEIU website. For example:

Robin Van Camp: Pvt insurance wouldn’t cover daughter’s hearing aids, had to dip into 401-K. @ChuckGrassley

You’ll see in the post that Grassley’s peeps give kudos to CTW. Iowans love Twitter.

Perlmutter first Congressperson to tweet about Holocaust Museum shooting

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

From’s excellent Twitter Room, we learn that Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), is the first lawmaker to tweet a response to today’s Holocaust Museum shooting.

Perlmutter tweeted:

My thoughts are with the families of those killed/injured at the Holocaust Museum today in Washington.

Interesting stuff. We’ll see how the most prolific twitterers on the Hill will respond.


by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

When people say awkward things on Twitter, it’s usually because they’re drunk. John McCain is just awkward in general:


via techPresident.

Dear politicians: try not to say crazy things on video

by Team Politics
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Remember this?

So George Allen famously called Jim Webb volunteer S.R. Sidarth “macaca” twice (!) during a campaign event for his failed 2006 US Senate Race in VA. It got all over the internets, and Allen lost the race. Big time.

So now, in Iran, famous nutcase president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad is having a “macaca moment” of his own. Supporters of his opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, are circulating a video of the president saying some pretty nutty stuff himself:

In the clip, sent out e-mail and on CDs, Ahmadinejad tells a top cleric, Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi Amoli, that a “light” enveloped him during his address to the U.N. General Assembly and that the crowd stared without blinking during the entire speech.

“A member of the (Iranian) delegation told me, ‘I saw a light that surrounded you,’” Ahmadinejad said. “I sensed it myself too … I felt the atmosphere changed. All leaders in audience didn’t blink for 27, 28 minutes. I’m not exaggerating when I’m saying they didn’t blink. Everybody had been astonished … they had opened their eyes and ears to see what is the message from the Islamic Republic.”

The clip was released after Ahmadinejad on Saturday denied making the comment.

Now, since we’re talking about Iran, we may have to wait a while before we see the video on YouTube, but still. You can’t deny this stuff anymore. Everyone has a camera on you at all times. Mind your P’s and Q’s, wacko/racist politicians, or you might never get elected again.

Sotomayor personality art goes viral-ish

by Team Politics
Monday, June 8th, 2009

I won’t say that this is truly viral, as it’s from an advocacy org (Presente), but it’s definitely an example of Organizing for America’s Sotomayor personality campaign getting mind-traction.

Nice, huh? I’ll be interested to see whether other groups/individuals pick up this iconography in the next few months.

The image on Flickr.

The artist’s website.

Thanks, techPresident!

NYT’s “media blog” far from comprehensive

by Team Politics
Monday, June 8th, 2009

First things first: The New York Times’ “media blog,” The Media Decoder, isn’t really a blog at all, but rather a vehicle with which the Times links to its own articles. That said, I thought I’d have a look and see what percentage of the “media decoding” is related to online media, the internet, this “Twitter” thing I keep hearing about, etc. So I did an unscientific survey.

In the last week, The Media Decoder has published 22 posts. Of those posts, 4 were about the internet in some way (one was a programming note about the blog itself, two were links contained in “Speed Read” link-aggregation posts to stories in the Times, and one was an “end of a media era”-type piece).

So that’s…18%? And I’m being generous.

Website has contributors solicit advertising

by Team Politics
Monday, June 8th, 2009

Howard Kurtz examines True/Slant, an “original content news network tailored to both the “Entrepreneurial Journalist” and marketers who want a more effective way to engage with digital audiences.” Essentially, the site encourages contributors to solicit advertisers to place campaigns:

In fact, [Miles O'Brien, a reporter who has written about the Air France crash for True/Slant] has already contacted such aerospace companies as Boeing and Lockheed Martin to sponsor his work at another site, and plans to do so for True/Slant.

True/Slant has 100 contributors, and unlike, say, the Huffington Post, where most writers blog for free, everyone is compensated in some form. “While it’s not a lot of money, it’s at least validating the worth of the journalism,” says Diane Dimond, a veteran television correspondent who is one of the site’s most prolific bloggers.

While some contributors receive a stipend, others have an equity stake or a share in advertising revenue that they solicit. Dvorkin says such contacts with advertisers would be disclosed and that True/Slant editors would step in if a writer tried to post inappropriate material about an advertiser. “I come from the land of traditional media standards,” he says.

Interesting stuff. The site will also be selling sponsored sections (labeled as advertorials), which doesn’t seem as extreme to me.

Full article.

True/Slant’s “About” page.

The return of the Grassley

by Team Politics
Monday, June 8th, 2009

Via The Hill’s Twitter Room, we see the Twitter-stylins of the Grass-dog, Chuck Grassley:

Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us”time to deliver” on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND.

Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said ‘time to delivr on healthcare’ When you are a “hammer” u think evrything is NAIL I’m no NAIL

We’ve been on the Grassley bandwagon from the beginning.

Content aggregation as an advocacy strategy

by Team Politics
Friday, June 5th, 2009

EMILY’s List has put together a page aggregating racist and misogynist attacks on President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Sonia Sotomayor.

Aside from the site not having an RSS feed (what???), I think this is an outstanding piece of political communication. It doesn’t require that the org create any content, it gives link love to other groups, and it provides a resource for folks who are going to advocate for Sotomayor’s appointment. In short, EMILY’s List is both participating in and adding real value to the conversation.

It’s better than another darn G.I. Joe trailer

by Team Politics
Friday, June 5th, 2009

At the NYT, we see some political advocacy go out-of-home.

Coming to theaters are commercials that are intended to spell out the perils of frivolous lawsuits as told by “everyday Americans,” including small-business owners who have been hit with costly lawsuits they believed were arbitrary and abusive.

The owner of a pool supply store in Rockville, Md., tells of being sued for $750,000 by a passer-by who fell and was injured after being startled by a wild Canada goose nesting near his store. A gasket maker in Monroe, La., narrates how he is grappling with 100 asbestos lawsuits, and a Colorado couple describe how their family was sued for $75,000 after their 7-year-old son struck a fellow skier.

The ads are for Faces of Lawsuit Abuse, a campaign from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform. Be interesting to see how orgs use movie theater advertising in the future, considering they’re probably cheaper than TV (but not cheaper than online, cough cough!)

Apparently elections DO have consequences

by Team Politics
Friday, June 5th, 2009

From Wonkette, looks like Barbara Boxer is going to be having a short meeting with her direct mail folks:

You see? Boxer called her rival James Inhofe a woman! Or turned him into a woman, a la Tiresias.

“Bro’s a no-no for CoCo?”

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I know that we’re in danger of only posting about Twitter, but you know, it’s popular. Watch until the end, that’s when the real payoff hits.

Ram Jam from the top rope!

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 4th, 2009

At Politico, a short post about Obama’s thoughts on cable news:

I’ve used this analogy before, it feels like WWF wrestling. Everybody’s got their role to play. I know a lot of these guys. And if Pat Buchanan is having a conversation with Chris Matthews or talking to Keith Olbermann, everybody’s got their set pieces and, so, I don’t feel as if I’m learning anything from the debate.

The typically even-handed, intellectual sentiment we’ve come to expect from the President. But when I saw the headline:

I thought it said “Obama: I like WWF wrestling.” Now, I’m from South Carolina originally, and live in North Carolina now, so I have a bit of an emotional connection to “sports entertainment.” So when I misread this headline, my little redneck heart fluttered like it did when I first saw Stacy Keibler.

But I should have known it was too good to be true. You see, the WWF doesn’t exist anymore. It’s the WWE now. The WWF is something different.

Burris satire goes analog

by Team Politics
Thursday, June 4th, 2009

From Gawker, a papercraft Roland Burris. Please enjoy, BoingBoing readers.

I don’t want to pile on…

by Team Politics
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

…but Simon Owens, the general smart dude behind Bloggasm, has an interesting survey of what percentage of Huffington Post’s front page articles are “original reporting.”

There were a total of 77 headlines on the front page of the Huffington Post when I conducted the survey. Of those, 4 headlines simply linked to news outlets offsite. There were 5 HuffPo stories that contained original reporting. There were 55 HuffPo stories that simply expressed opinion and/or summarized content from other outlets.The remaining 13 stories were reprinted wire copy.

So this means that approximately 6% of the HuffPo stories on the front page tonight contained original reporting. This is likely significantly fewer originally reported stories than you’d find on most major newspaper websites, including the New York Times, LA Times and the Washington Post.

Interesting stuff, and certainly makes me skeptical that HuffPo is going to be the news organization of the future.