ir America died not because of the power of conservative talk radio, but because of both liberal and journalistic incompetence.

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Watch the Advertising... The Health Care fight is getting heavier on both sides.

As I wait for Obama to give his speech to the joint houses of Congress tonight,  I am seeing ads all over the place pushing every possible view on reforming health care. I've seen late-night ads by independent (although obviously right-wingnut) organizations pushing every lie that has been raised on Health Care Reform, from Death Panels to to a statement that the majority of Americans are happy with what they've got. I've seen the AARP come out pushing reform in Health Care and not to shy away from changes that have to be made.

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The perils of having no record to run on

Via the Stinging Nettle blog, I found this piece in Politics magazine by Marty Ryall, who managed Senator Elizabeth Dole's unsuccessful campaign last year. Ryall's main subject is the grotesque "Godless" ad that Dole ran against Kay Hagan in late October. He contends that contrary to widespread opinion, backlash against the ad did not cost Dole the election. Rather, the ad was "our Hail Mary pass" that ran only because they felt they had no other chance to win.

As you'd expect from an operative who worked on a failed campaign, Ryall goes out of his way to explain why Dole's campaign was already in trouble before he came on in May 2008, and why she lost the election mostly for reasons out of his control. (For instance, Barack Obama targeted North Carolina and registered hundreds of thousands of new voters.) Ryall also claims that he and others intervened to make the final version of the "Godless" ad more fair to Hagan than the first cut. Whatever.

I was more interested in why Dole would have to resort to that kind of desperate attack. Ryall doesn't explicitly address that point, but this passage in his piece suggests Dole simply had nothing else to say:

We knew we had three weaknesses. A report by had ranked Dole 93rd out of 100 senators in effectiveness. She voted with President Bush more than 90 percent of the time. And during the two-year period when she was chairman of the NRSC, she only traveled to North Carolina a handful of times.

No doubt external conditions helped sink Dole. But if she had built up a solid record during her six years in the Senate, Dole would have had a better chance of withstanding the Democratic wave. At the very least she would have had a better final-week message for voters than, "Atheists held a fundraiser for my opponent."

Democrats control the executive and legislative branches in Washington and many states. Current economic trends suggest that they may face a challenging political environment in 2010. I hope they will draw the right lessons from Dole's disgrace. Don't blindly follow failed policies and do something substantial for your constituents.

Having a record to run on is no guarantee of victory if the prevailing winds are against you. My very effective 18-term Congressman Neal Smith (IA-04) lost in the 1994 landslide. But it helps to be able to remind voters of some big achievements. In the worst-case scenario you'll lose with more dignity than Dole.

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Comments on Google and Privacy

I wrote this post on my own blog as a follow-up to a previous post about Facebook, Internet advertising, and privacy. I think there's definitely a political side to these concerns, though, so I wanted to share it with the political blogs too. Your feedback is very welcome!

I have a lot of personal affection for Google. They're a pretty cool company, they have a nice Northern California vibe, they do a lot of good, I like the April Fool's jokes, I think they'd be a fun place to work, and just yesterday I noticed myself gushing about how awesome is Google Calculator (answer: very awesome). But, as I mentioned in my Facebook post from a few weeks ago, I also have significant reservations about Google that I would like to put in writing. So, please follow me below the fold for more!

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JUST RELEASED: Our New Prop. 8 Web Ad

Donate your Facebook status and tweet it far and wide: No on 8! - Todd

Folks, I'm so proud of this.  Today we're releasing the final product of a totally volunteer, self-financed, zero-budget mostly netroots effort just finished today.  My brother hekebolos and I wrote the script based on his original concept this week.  It was produced by myself, my girlfriend theKK, and Reality Bites Back, with them doing the majority of the legwork to the tune of countless hours on the phone and tapping away at emails.  I can't say enough of the efforts of Reality Bites Back, who directed the piece and walked it through pre- and post-production.  Professional actors, crew and editors volunteered their time and talent for free, coming through in spades to support this production and very important cause.  The Courage Campaign provided organizational backing, location and help with promotion.

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