Meet Grant Herring; Let's Buy Him Lunch!

I apologize in advance for the long post but I could find no more concise way to explain the importance and significance of what Grant is doing.  I hope you will take three-five minutes to read this post

As you may know we have two primary goals here at Next Generation Democrats (NGD); supporting young progressive candidates and more importantly, assisting young staffers trying to get a start in progressive politics.

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I don't think this is the fight Hillary Clinton wants... sweet_blog_special_at_harvards.html#more

Sweet blog special: At Harvard's IOP forum, Obama and Clinton advisors spar over Iraq.

A cornerstone of the Obama campaign has been his opposition to the Iraq war, a centerpiece of his 2004 Senate campaign and a reason he won a crowded Illinois Democratic primary field. A feature of the Clinton bid is the persistent questioning she gets about her 2002 vote to authorize President Bush to go to war in Iraq. Clinton has been saying that if she knew then what she knows now, she never would have voted yes.
Monday night was no different. At the John F. Kennedy Jr. forum, a student question about how the Clinton campaign can get voters to trust her judgment set the stage for Penn and Axelrod to spar over who said what when.

"Do you think Hillary Clinton is the kind of person who if she were president would have started the Iraq war?" Penn asked the student, with the answer "No" from Penn and applause from the audience. Penn then went a few steps further and said Obama, in 2004 in Boston, said when it came to that Iraq Senate vote "he is not sure" how he would have voted--a quote the Obama campaign argues was taken out of context.
Penn noted that when it comes to supporting Iraq war funding appropriations, Obama and Clinton have cast the same yes votes, a point he would make again later in the session. "Senator Clinton has taken responsibility for her vote," Penn said.
At that, Axelrod--aware that this kind of potentially damaging campaign chatter about Obama and Iraq has been floating around for the past few days--decided he had to respond. "I regret that Mark went there," Axelrod said, saying that Penn was selectively picking quotes from Obama interviews.
Axelrod alerted campaign communications chief Robert Gibbs that the matter of Obama's Iraq history was now in play and a short time after the forum ended, Gibbs sent out a detailed memo--to, in their view, buttress the campaigns' assertions that the Clinton camp is taking Obama's words out of context--a charge they deny.

(cont. below)

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An Historical Perspective

   During the Reagan years a new campaign strategy, authored by Lee Atwater made its debut on the political stage.  The strategy was simple: politics is war; winning is all that matters, therefore dirty tricks, personal insults and character assassination are now acceptable campaign tactics. Mind you, these tactics have always been a part of American politics but always in the shadows - the tricksters were never invited to the party after the election.. This was the first time that they were embraced openly and widely by a major political party at the presidential level and were stars of the party.  
    Atwater cloned any number of people willing to use his tactics: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay being the most prominent. The tactic has proven successful - witness Dukakis' defeat by Reagan [the Willie Horton ads]; the G.H.W Bush/John McCain GOP nomination battle [rumor of McCain having a black illegitimate child]; and most recently, the savaging of John Kerry's war record by the Swift Boat veterans group in 2004.  For roughly twenty-five years it has dominated the political scene.
   These victories and many more indicated that if you were willing to be vicious, insulting, and demeaning enough there was no end to the success you could enjoy.  In fact, these were the tactics used to, first, purge the GOP of "squishy" Congressmen not willing to use the tactic; secondly; to take over the Congress in 1993; and, thirdly, win G.W. Bush's selection [Florida voting scandal and Supreme Court invervention] to be the President in 2000, and his questionable [Ohio voting irregularities] election in 2004.
   If the election of 2006 is an indicator of anything, it is that the American people are no longer being deceived by these tactics and are holding candidates to a higher standard than who can degrade the opposition the most.  Democratic and independent candidates are no longer intimidated by them.  
   Kerry's defeat underlined the fact that the only effective response to the politics of personal destruction is a vigorous and overwhelming retaliation. That lesson seems to have finally been learned by the Democratic National Committee and it was reflected in the Democratic Party's 2006 victories and G.W. Bush's plummeting poll numbers.  
   This will be good for both parties. The Democrats can come out of their foxholes and be equal partners in a fairer policy debate. The tough issues on national policy can be tackled with all options on the table, not just those one party says is kosher.
   But it will have the greatest effect on the Republican Party, because the unintended consequences of attack politics has been the creation of a whole generation of young GOP operatives who are intellectually lazy: after all, why do you need to know the issues when you can win by destroying the credibility of the opposition?  
   And there will be sectors of the political landscape that will want to return to the good old days of slash and burn, distort and dissemble politics, so the battle is not totally won.  But these people will over time fade more and more into the shadows from which they came.
   The other word of caution, is the willingness of some editoral writers, pundits and talking heads to blame the victims for this season of vulgarity.  It is considered to be "balance journalism" to not blame just the perpetrator of the slander but blame the victim as well, when they try to defend themselves.  "Shame on those victims! Why don't they just shut up and let their integrity be savaged? Shut up and go peacefully to your political death!" it seems they are saying.  It is the equivalent to be discomforted by rape so you condemn the victim's screaming for help as a disturbance of the peace!  Surely journalism can do better than this.
   That notwithstanding, after twenty-five years of political victories on the cheap, the GOP is once again going to have to earn its credibly, because the electorate is no longer equating a candidate's willingness to throw mud with being able to walk on water.

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08 Democratic Campaign Web Analysis


Since I work in web marketing and development, I thought I would do a quick analysis of the Democratic 2008 Presidential Website Campaigns.

Notably Richardson, Vilsack, Kucinich and Clark all do not own their own .com name and should considering buying name even if the current owners want tens of thousands of dollars, because type in traffic is real.  If Clark launches his campaign he should permanently redirect to his new campaign site to hopefully make the new site rank more quickly in the search results.  Edwards and Kucinich have the only 2 current democratic campaign websites opting not to use www in front of the domain name.  

Richardson may have the worst search rankings, with Wikipedia dominating [Bill Richardson] in Google, and a broken site outranking his campaign website for his own name.  Your search results may differ slightly from what Google just served me.  I think candidates should strive for their campaign site to outrank the website for their current office.

Many websites are now using 3rd party javascript for analytics and goal tracking.  If a site doesn't use JS analytics, it may still use server logs for some web stats.  It does not appear that any of the campaign websites are paying for web analytics, and Google Analytics is popular choice.  I have not looked at in a while, but I imagine that Google Analytics is  much more full featured, and the campaigns using sitemeter should consider switching.  

Hillary is the only one using MS Win/IIS.  I only identified one content-management system in my research, uses drupal.  If you know what open source or proprietary publishing systems other campaigns are using please let me know.  

I may look at the campaign's Google Adwords and other PPC marketing in the near future.  EmergencyCheese on Youtube has some cool videos tracking each candidate's YouTube campaigns.

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The Real Value of Second Life

Cross posted at Future Majority

I've been skeptical of the value of Second Life - as both a type of social network and more particularly as a campaign resource - for quite a while.  It's never struck me as a place that is highly populated by a desirable audience that isn't reachable as part of another, larger (or niche) audience.  And I've never seen the real value in it as anything other than a novelty.

Social Web guru Clay Shirky is putting stats to that claim.  Any campaign interested in pursuing a Second Life strategy should read his recent article dissecting the hype that surrounds Second Life.

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