Possible Storyline Surprises From Cheney’s Tell-All Memoir

bushcheneywatches

The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman reports that Dick Cheney won’t hold back in his forthcoming $2 million memoir of his years in the Bush administration. DC powerhouse lawyer Robert Barnett, who negotiated Cheney’s book contract, told the Post that “‘the statute of limitations has expired’ on many of [Cheney's] secrets.”

Among other things, Cheney was reportedly bitter that Bush didn’t pardon his Chief of Staff Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in Plamegate, despite the fact that another man, Richard Armitage, was the primary source of the leak.

What other revelations should we expect from the book? Mediaite has a few guesses:

  • He’s relieved to let people know about his love of ponies.
  • Lynn Cheney still insists on waking up to Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” on her Bose.
  • Has not forgiven Bush for refusing lucrative naming right’s deal because he considered “Haliburton’s White House” to sound awkward
  • Even he finds Glenn Beck to have become a tad unhinged.
  • He really misses the Government health care now that he’s been diagnosed with a rare medical condition in which his arteries run with bile.
  • He does know the real definition of torture — he did serve eight years under President Bush after all
  • Grew tired of having to let the President win in the weekly game of Chinese Checkers.
  • Bush showed hesitation when he was ordered to destroy the Jedi Temple.

James Rucker: Healthy Choice, Radio Shack, Roche and Sanofi-Aventis pull ads from Glenn Beck

More great news today in our campaign calling on Glenn Beck's advertisers to pull their support from his show. With more than 125,000 people now having signed our petition to Beck's advertisers, four more major companies have pulled their ads.

From the press release we're sending out right now:

ColorOfChange.org this week received confirmation from four more companies -- ConAgra (maker of Healthy Choice products), Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, and RadioShack -- pledging to pull their ads from Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck show. These new defections come on the heels of reports that Men's Wearhouse, State Farm and Sargento also pulled their ads in recent days. They join LexisNexis-owned Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, SC Johnson and GEICO, who all pulled their ads from Glenn Beck after the news host called President Obama a "racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people," on Fox and Friends.

"...Upon review of this particular program, we have discontinued our advertising for all ConAgra Foods products during its airing," said Stephanie Childs, spokesperson for ConAgra Foods, in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "We share your commitment to diversity in all areas of life and appreciate you sharing your concerns with us."

"We have specified that our ads will no longer run on Mr. Beck's show," said Sean Connor, Manager of Media Services and Purchasing for Sanofi-Aventis, in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "We have included this show on a list of programming that should not be utilized within the Fox network buys. Thank you for drawing our attention to this matter."

"This confirms that there is no advertising we (RadioShack) [are] buying on the Glen Beck Show or anywhere on the Fox News Channel," said Dave Hamlin, Director of Media Services for RadioShack, in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "What viewers are seeing on FNC and Glen Beck is manufacturer advertising that has tagged their messages with "RadioShack" as the retail destination to purchase their product(s). In this most recent instance, it is most likely the product called magicJack that has tagged our name throughout their commercial."

"We've asked magicJack to immediately cease and desist running all commercials with our name tagged in the spot on FNC," Hamlin continued. "In fact, I just received verification from one our merchants that magicJack has confirmed the commercial will be pulled from the Fox News Channel rotation ASAP."

A spokesperson for Roche confirmed the company's decision to pull its ads during a phone conversation with ColorOfChange.org Tuesday, but the company has not issued a written statement.

"We are proud of all the companies who have stepped forward to pull their ads from Glenn Beck," said James Rucker, executive director of ColorOfChange.org. "It's becoming clear that many people feel the same outrage we feel and we applaud those companies who are taking a stand against Beck's hatred. We won't stop here -- we're going to continue our fight to see that as many of Beck's advertisers pull their support as possible."

It's working. If you haven't already signed our petition to Beck's advertisers, please join us, and ask your friends and family to do the same.


David Steele: Felix the Cat

Well, thank goodness Niall Ferguson straightened us all out on what had to be a grievous smear on his reputation -- the theory that his comparison of the President of the United States to a heavily-inked cat from a post-World War I-era cartoon was racist.

Damn you and your "politically-correct claptrap!'' Ferguson, the columnist for the Financial Times of London, laid it out in his response on this site, so simply that even a cartoon-loving, website-trolling, race-card-playing dope like me could understand.

OK, not all that simply. "Black cats are proverbially lucky,'' he begins. Well, he likely didn't think he needed, even in the Internet age, to point out that they're lucky in British legend -- and that they're the exact opposite in American lore. He apparently was slightly unaware of the centuries-old connotations of comparing black cats to black people in this culture. Not that he was required to know any of this, unless he didn't think a piece about the U.S. president in a prestigious international journal would get any play here in the colonies. But what do I know? I'm just a twitching dead body of political correctness.

"Felix the cartoon character was a black cat,'' Ferguson pointed out as an example, "not an African-American cat.'' Oh. There's a big difference, he continued - a lot of characters from back then were created to mock black people. But not Felix -- his character was not used to mock a black person until almost 90 years later.

Just so we're clear, here is exactly how Ferguson began his analysis of the current state of the Obama presidency:


"President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. One of the best-loved cartoon characters of the 1920s, Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky. And that pretty much sums up the 44th president of the US as he takes a well-earned summer break after just over six months in the world's biggest and toughest job.''

Now, let's give Ferguson the benefit of the doubt. Just because the very first similarity he found between the two was blackness, and he used it as his hook for his column, that doesn't make him racist.

Stupid, yes. Juvenile, sure. Journalistically and aesthetically unsound, definitely. A sorry excuse for a writer, absolutely. But not racist.

I'm not sure, actually, that this story isn't borrowed from an old freshman journalism textbook describing how not to write a lead. Or from one of those features in the journalism industry magazines poking fun at the biggest blunders in the papers each month. Or from a Jay Leno "Headlines'' skit.

I'm not prepared to believe that when Ferguson sat down at his keyboard and pondered the best metaphor for Obama in the first six months of his ground-breaking presidency, either the first or the best one that came to mind was Felix the Cat. And that when his editor saw it, he or she nodded and said, "Niall, ol' chap, you really nailed it. Felix. Perfect! Especially the blackness part.''

My biggest problem? If he had to go there -- if he was that committed to digging deep and pulling up the perfect character to illustrate the blend of inkiness/luckiness that is Obama -- what made Felix so special?

As opposed to, say, Mickey Mouse? "President Barack Obama reminds me of Mickey Mouse ... Mickey was not only black. He also had very, very big ears.''

Or Daffy Duck? "Daffy was not only black. He also thought the American health-care system was very, very deth-picable.''

Finally, there is this tiny flaw in his premise, besides the part about Obama being "lucky,'' which should have sent readers clicking elsewhere immediately. The part about Felix the Cat being lucky.

If I remember my TV cartoon theme songs correctly, Felix is "... the wonderful, wonderful cat. Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks.''

Granted, we're talking about the American cartoon version, and again we may just have a failure to communicate. But the Felix I grew up knowing wasn't getting by on luck. More like intelligence, resourcefulness and creativity.

Then again, who in his right mind would ever associate any of that with being black?


Jessica Rovello: Are You Ready for Some Virtual Football?

I lose two of the main men in my life to football this week. No the season hasn't started early this year. I'm talking about the two biggest things to happen to football, since, well, football - fantasy and Madden 2010 -- and my husband and brother respectively. With virtual football becoming as popular as the real game, women all over the country are dreading (or loving?) that August now marks the start of the season. Gone are the days when you just got to lose your husband, boyfriend, son and dad on Sundays and the odd Thursday night. Virtual football has made a once seasonal obsession into a full-blown addiction worthy of a stint in Hazelden.

Madden 2010, which is being released tomorrow by Electronic Arts for the PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii and Xbox 360 is getting great reviews and generating fantastic buzz. By all accounts it looks to be the best yet in the hugely popular franchise. This year EA took some amazing leaps to up the realism. Everything from players getting yelled at on the sidelines, to arguing refs, to the much anticipated Pro-Tak (procedural tackling) which allows for realistic pile ups, makes this game as close to the real thing as it's ever been. All we're missing now is the Coors Light smell-o-vision. In fact, EA claims that the game is so accurate that they can use it to predict the outcome of the real season. According to a Company release the Patriots will have the best record and Tom Brady (coming off last year's injury) will be MVP and Offensive Player of the Year (New York Fans like me are hoping the soothsayers over at EA are wrong about this one).

Fantasy Football -- the other 800 pound linebacker in the room -- hasn't changed much since last year with the exception of some cool new iPhone Apps. Yet it seems the fervor for it, and the huge revenues it generates, grows every season. This year, I'm going to urge my husband to use Madden's predications to encourage his draft picks. That means not drafting Larry Fitzgerald or the Steelers defense (they are both "cursed" cover models) and taking Brandon Jacobs (not an easy pill to swallow for a die-hard Jets fan).

So where am I in all this? I love Football and video games, but this Sunday it's all about my own "Mad" obsession - Jon Hamm and Mad Men.


Best Practices for Mass Emailing

Here at The Bivings Group, we’ve dealt with a myriad of requests for mass emailing services, tools and strategies to help our clients make the most of what is the most powerful weapon in online advocacy. Based on our research and testing, here are some best practice tips for making your email campaigns as effective as possible. Most of these items fit a general theme of narrowing the focus and increasing the personalization in email messaging.

Smaller targets

The smaller the target, the more successful the email open and click-through rate. Emails sent to specific states or even determined areas around specific cities get much more attention than those sent to the whole country. People are generally inclined to get personally involved in local issues rather than national campaigns.

Specific goals

Ask people to do one single, specific thing. Example: “Sign the petition to protect America’s indigenous forests.” When these requests are linked to a form where users could do exactly that, success rates are very high. General requests such as “Support the Environment” with a link to a main homepage result in less clicks and less direct action by email subscribers. Emails that link to multiple items or actions are less successful than those focused on promoting a single action.

Getting to the point

Keep it short and simple. Getting a subscriber to open an email is just the first step. You want them to read and understand your message. Put your message in plain, direct words at the very top. Use short, single sentence paragraphs whenever possible to make the email as easy as possible to get through.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Once your simple, direct message is at the very top of your email, repeat it throughout the body of the text. Two or three repetitions of the same call to action and link is not too much. Repetition is the best way to drive home a particular point. Repetition is the best way to drive home a particular point.

The visuals

To keep messages from looking like advertisements, it’s best to keep graphics and imaging to a minimum in general. Messages should not look dramatically different from the messages people receive from their friends and family. Some light branding images should be used in the header of the email and to emphasize the actions the email asks people to take. Keep in mind a large percentage of subscribers will only see a text version of the email or will choose not to enable graphics, so make sure all pertinent information in graphics is repeated in email body text.

Special requests

Timing is everything, even email. Give subscribers something to do, the reason to do it, the tools to get it done, but don’t forget to let them know they need to do it NOW. Emails sent surrounding current legislation or events in the news, letting subscribers know about upcoming events, or asking people to help celebrate important milestones, convey more urgency than emails unrelated to a timeline. Time-sensitive emails should be used sparingly, however, because the more you send, the less important they’ll seem.

.. add variation to an even tempo

A successful email effort has to find the right balance between being a consistent, reliable source of campaign news and flooding subscribers’ inboxes. Never let more than a few weeks pass between emails, and we should avoid sending more than two to three emails in a week unless we are in a period of intense activity. Keep in touch with subscribers without overloading them.

Makin’ Lemonade Makes the Best Out of Low Production Values

Cheap is the new expensive these days, and everyone embracing a low-fi style in the online video world has their own aesthetic. The Mortified Shoebox Show plays with childhood dioramas. Jeffery and Cole Casserole goes through pad after pad of yellow legal paper. Makin’ Lemonade, meanwhile, cements its low-budget credentials with judicious use of cardboard for its credits sequence.

And that sort of found object sensibility persists throughout the series, the brainchild of comedy writers Zach Ayers and Ben Bleichman. Framed as an advice podcast for those stuck in an economic rut, the short-form series chronicles one man’s attempts to manage decent hygiene and make a fresh salad without any money, prospects or a roof over his head — because this wannabe Martha Stewart is determined to make the best of his new home-challenged state.

Graduates of Second City, Ayers and Bleichman previously worked together on the web series Good Taste, which was plot-heavy, required a lot of cast and crew, and, oh, yeah, was about a cannibal catering company. The series never took off, so when they paired up with actor Chris Schneider to create a new one, they decided to do something on a much smaller scale that could be enjoyed out of sequence. “Ben and I are writers; Chris is an actor,” Ayers said via phone. “So we wanted to make something that put our writing and acting in the best possible light without having to have a heart attack every time we wanted to shoot something.” According to Ayers, the whole production is just Bleichman and him behind an $80 Flip camera, and for editing ease, each short is one long take, which makes them easy to post quickly.

The team has developed an elaborate backstory for Chris that so far only informs these episodes, but the character still feels fully fleshed out. While Schneider’s resemblance to Chris Elliot is striking — “We’re hoping to get Chris Elliot for a cameo,” Bleichman joked — his unique charm is found in his earnest faith that really, things are going to get better for him soon. And he’s aided and abetted by Ayers and Bleichman’s dry, witty scripts that feature no shortage of laugh lines that often reveal the dark side of Chris’s desperation. For example, while discussing the challenges of DIY health care, Chris samples some pills, remarking, “These are expired, which really just means no one will buy it off you anymore. Also, sometimes when medicine gets old its effects change. One time, I took this really old Theraflu — no more haircuts! That’s a saver.”

Deliberately produced on the cheap, the team is looking to Lemonade as a means of gaining greater exposure rather than making a profit (all are seeking representation). Given how tough it is to monetize web content, especially for the outside creator, it’s not a bad approach. Their only fear moving forward is that times might get a little less tough. “We want to be clear about this — we don’t want the economy to get better,” Bleichman said. “But even if it did, Chris would still be in the same position.”


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We Need More Than Video to Drive Upstream Upgrades

Stacey's skinny upstream pipe

Stacey's skinny upstream pipe

Internet Service Providers are beginning to focus on upstream speeds as subscribers change their online behavior from consuming online content to producing it. Upstream demand is on the rise thanks to online storage services, video uploads and yes, file sharing, but for consumers to truly pay attention to their upstream pipes someone needs to build products that get everyday consumers to experience true pipe envy.

Video is boosting upstream data, which is why Cisco is so pumped about its purchase of the Flip camera maker Pure Digital (more demand for bandwidth on the upload and download side means Cisco can sell more gear), but what else is out there? These aren’t the dot-com bubble years. Operators won’t invest in upstream capacity unless users want to pay for it.

In a long view article I wrote over at GigaOM Pro (subscription required), I list some services that may get consumers to both demand (and pay for) fatter upstream pipes such as broadband burglar alarms, home telepresence, and medical monitoring, but what will make you upgrade?


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