Hillary 1984 Ad Creator Revealed


The creator of the Hillary 1984 ad has been identfied. Huffington Post reports that it was created by “Philip de Vellis, who was the Internet communications director for Sherrod Brown’s 2006 Senate campaign, and who now works at Blue State Digital, a company created by members of Howard Dean’s Internet Team.”

Blue State Digital does work for Obama, but reportedly de Vellis is not on his account. TechPresident previously emailed him under the name used to originally post the video on You Tube and received this explanation:

Thank you for your interest in the video. It has been amazing to watch it explode on the viral scene. At one point it was the #3 most watched video on YouTube and is at 108,000 views and growing.

Considering Hillary Clinton’s biggest video has only received 12,000 views on YouTube, I’d say the grassroots has won the first round.

The idea was simple and so was the execution. Make a bold statement about the Democratic primary race by culture jacking a famous commercial and replacing as few images as possible. For some people it doesn’t register, but for people familiar with the ad and the race it has obviously struck a chord.

A friend suggested the idea after reading a New York Times article about the Clinton’s campaign bullying of donors and political operatives after the Geffen dustup.

I don’t want to say more than that. I’d prefer to let it speak for itself.

Obama aide Bil Burton has released this statement:

The Obama campaign and its employees had no knowledge and had nothing to do with the creation of the ad. We were notified this evening by a vendor of ours, Blue State Digital, that an employee of the company had been involved in the making of this ad. Blue State Digital has separated ties with this individual and we have been assured he did no work on our campaign’s account.

Hillary Clinton has been wise to just laugh this off. Blue State Digital issued this statement.

Obama’s Plans to Follow

So far Barack Obama has benefited tremendously from the feelings of many of us that Hillary Clinton does not pocess the right principles to be President and that John Edwards is just a slick lawyer who has learned how to campaign well but question whether he has any business being on a national political ticket. In frustration over the other choices which the media tells us are electable, there is a tendency to project what we hope for onto Obama. This is met by frustration at not being certain as to what his plans are should he take office.I find this sign hopeful that his campaign realizes that they have been vague on specific policies. In an article in The New York Observer, communication director Robert Gibbs is quoted as addressing this:

But the Obama campaign, if nothing else, is well aware of its structural shortcomings. Indeed, his staff consciously seeks to embrace them, uniformly assuming the posture of Chicago underdogs, eager to prove that they can take on Hillary Clinton and all the heavyweights of her adopted city.

As Barack says, Chicago politics is a contact sport, and he understands how to play that,” said Robert Gibbs, the campaign’s communications director, who recently mixed it up with his Clinton counterpart, Howard Wolfson, in a very public spat. “It’s incumbent on us to demonstrate an ability to tangle.”

Mr. Gibbs argued that Mr. Obama would deliver the specific energy, education and health-care policies in due time, and said that the campaign was built on more than just “hype and hope.”

Fair enough, but I’m waiting. One reason that I’ve been patient in hearing specifics is the understanding that Obama was thrown into this very quickly. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have been preparing to run for President for several years while Obama may have been surprised by all the support for him as decided to run for President earlier than he planned. Fortunately it is still very early in the political year and there is time for Obama to flesh out his policies. While I am eager to see the specifics, it is better that he take some time to work them out as opposed to rushing to put up position papers on a web site.

Mark Halperin Changes Hat at ABC

Mark Halperin, who has faithfully promoted right wing talking points and unsubstantiated Drudge reports as news as political director of ABC News, is changing jobs. Editor and Publisher reports that he is moving from political director to analyst in order to have more time for writing.

I see this as sort of a lateral move for Halperin, but a more honest move. Instead of promoting right wing ideas and his opinions while pretending to be in news, Halperin will be operating more openly as an analyst. Hopefully it will be made clear to viewers that he is analyzing from his right wing perspective such as George Will does and he is not promoted as an objective political analyst. More importantly, I hope that his replacement, David Chalian, performs his job with more objectivity and journalistic integrity than we have seen from Halperin.

I also wish Halperin luck in this new phase of his career, as long as he is honest and open about his conservative bias as he provides his opinions. While I have many disagreements, such as with his comparison of Matt Drudge to Walter Cronkite, I did find his recent book, The Way to Win, to be one of the better conservative political books I have read in a long time. At least Halperin avoids the excesses seen by conservative pundits like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh when giving the conservative viewpoint on current politics.

Why it is Important to Refute Those Who Wage War on Science

I’ve had many posts criticizing Deepak Chopra, as well as others who attack science. This is actually a reply I made in the comments, but as it is in a discussion in an old blog post I thought I would promote it to a new blog post. The commenter is quoted in this reply, and those who desire to see the full context can find it in the discussion of this post. This is posted to sum up the reasons why it is important to refute writings of people such as Chopra who attack science. As I also noted earlier in that discussion, “The problem with Chopra is that he has a religious system which leads him to reject science.” My last comment in that discussion follows:

This is just one in a series of replies to Chopra. The reason for this is his rejection of science. Science isn’t about “providing meaning for our lives.” It is the means in which we objectively find information about the universe, and test it to verify its validity, as opposed to following faith or claiming to get information from divine revelation. Using the scientific method is also important to protect against coming to the conclusions we would prefer as opposed to what the evidence actually shows.

Chopra is definitely trying to “convince” people of many things in his series of articles which attack the validity of evolution.

“I hardly think mainstream science has much to worry about.”

Untrue. The acceptance or rejection of science and other forms of objective evidence is the major difference underlying the political battles of today. Chopra frequently repeats the exact same arguments against evolution provided by the Discover Institute as it attempts to prevent the teaching of evolution in the schools.

Fortunately they are losing that battle, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to worry about. Besides attacking evolution, which is a major basis of modern biology, fundamentalists (and their Republican lackeys) attack geology if it disagrees with the age of the earth and attack cosmology about the origins of the universe.

Fortunately their is a divide between fundamentalists and conservatives on the science of climate change as many fundamentalists are beginning to question the wisdom of destroying what they see as God’s work, but there is still a divide by party line as to whether the consensus scientific findings are accepted.

I’ve also had posts about people like James Dobson distorting science to attack homosexuals, and to support legislation restricting abortion due to allegedly causing pain in the fetus at a time when the fetus doesn’t even have a central nervous system yet. Conservatives push abstinence based sex education while opposing true sex education ignoring data showing that abstinence based education leads to more teen pregnancies.

The same concept extends beyond science, as we see the alternative reality created by Fox News and the right wing noise machine as people vote based upon falsehoods such as fabricated stories of WMD in Iraq and a connection between Saddam and the 9/11 attacks.

The Republican war on science is a serious problem and is fueled by the general lack of understanding of science in the general population. That is why people like Chopra, as well as the conservatives who do it more frequently, should be refuted when they attack science.

Father of Fallen Soldier: This War is Wrong

The Chicago Tribune has posted the following letter to George Bush from the father of a soldier who was killed in Iraq:

Feb 4, 2007

Dear Mr. Bush:

This will be the only time I will refer to you with any type of respect.

My son was killed in Iraq on February 2, 2007. His name is Captain Kevin Landeck.

He served with the Tenth Mountain Division. He was killed while riding in a Humvee by a roadside bomb just south of Baghdad. He has a loving mother, a loving father and loving sister.

You took him away from us. He celebrated his 26th birthday January 30th and was married for 17 months. He graduated from Purdue University and went through the ROTC program. That is where he met his future wife. He was proud to be a part of the military and took exceptional pride in becoming a leader of men. He accepted his role as a platoon leader with exceptional enthusiasm and was proud to serve his country.

I had many conversations with Kevin before he left to serve as well as during his deployment. The message he continued to send to me was that of incompetence. Incompetence by you, (Vice President Richard) Cheney and (former Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld. Incompetence by some of his commanders as well as the overall strategy of your decisions.



John Kerry’s March Madness

Want to be a part of March Madness without following basketball? John Kerry has his own form of March Madness to raise money for Democrats. The Politico reports:

Starting Wednesday, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee from Massachusetts is kicking off his own March Madness. His target audience is not hoops fans but political donors who may want to help Democratic candidates boost their first-quarter fundraising totals.

Kerry will ask his supporters – all 3 million of them on his e-mail list – to choose two Senate candidates and two House candidates from a “bracket” on his Web site. The four with the most votes will become – yes, you saw it coming – the “Final Four” and will receive an infusion of cash from Kerry’s donor base.

Finding The Libertarian Democrat

John Samples, in an article entitled In Search of the Libertarian Democrat at Cato-at-Liberty, writes that a libertarian-liberal coalition is not possible. Andrew Sullivan agrees, considering this a fantasy. Samples repeats the same fallacy which has been cited by other libertarians who feel closer to the Republicans in only looking at certain issues, and concentrating on the rhetoric as opposed to the actual policies of the GOP.

Samples quotes polls showing that Democrats are more likely to support increased government spending for services such as education and health care. The problem is that some libertarians dwell so much on size of government and amount of government spending that they forget about basic issues of liberty. They also ignore the fact that government spending in recent years has grown more under Republicans than Democrats despite Republican rhetoric. It was Bill Clinton who left office with a budget surplus. If reduced government spending is the major goal, then libertarians will be disappointed in both parties, but should still back Democrats over Republicans.

The many differences between the parties which aren’t related to government spending are far more important. Republicans have eroded the checks and balances on the Executive Branch which are necessary to limit the power of government and preserve liberty. Republicans increasingly deny that there should be a separation of church and state as they attempt to impose the agenda of the religious right by law. Republicans have eroded civil liberties with the Patriot Act. They have taken advantage of the 9/11 attacks not by defending the nation or concentrating on those responsible for the attack, but by attempting to create a state of permanent warfare which is used to further justify suppression of civil liberties.

Any discussion of a fusion of libertarian and liberal interests must also recognize that there exists a variety of people labeled both libertarian and liberal. Such discussions typically refer less to hard core libertarians who reject virtually all government and more to socially liberal and fiscally conservative individuals who are also often considered libertarian-leaning. These include the so-called Starbucks Republicans and South Park Republicans who are rejecting the GOP in favor of Democrats in increasing numbers.

In the past the conventional wisdom was that conservatives were more libertarian on economic issues while liberals were more libertarian on social issues. This idea was perpetuated by attacks by the right wing noise machine which often mischaracterized the views of both parties. There have also been significant changes in recent years. Having the Republicans in power has demonstrated that their policies of corporate welfare are even further from the libertarian ideal of laissez-faire capitalism than the views of many liberals.

The meaning of liberal has also changed as the number of those advocating leftist economic ideas has decreased and liberalism has increasingly come to mean opposition to the war and other recent Republican policies. Increasingly liberals stress opposition to the war (which has now become the mainstream position) and social issues while being more pragmatic and nonideological on economic matters. The major difference between liberals and conservatives is not their position on government spending but how often they attend church. While some libertarians and liberals may always be incompatible, there are also people who consider themselves both libertarians and liberals whose major concern is in increasing our liberty and fighting the authoritarian policies which have been promoted by the Republicans.

Fox Criticized For Dishonestly Advancing Interests of the Right

In the past month we seem to have reached a tipping point where Fox News is being publicly criticized not only for being biased but for being an intentionally dishonest proponent of conservative viewpoints. This started with the outpouring of opposition to Fox being allowed to cover a Democratic debate considering their history of taking advantage of such events to smear Democrats and distort what was said. Today Mark Mellman takes on Fox in an article in The Hill:

Fox is not a typical news organization. There are first-rate journalists at Fox, committed to accuracy, objectivity and fairness. However, as a network, Fox’s prime commitment is to the triumph of conservative politics, not to a well-informed public. From hiring hosts to selecting stories to framing questions for discussion, Fox demonstrates its dedication to advancing the ideological interests of the right.

As former Fox reporter/anchor Jon Du Pre put it in the documentary “Outfoxed,” “We weren’t necessarily, as it was told to us, a newsgathering organization so much as we were a proponent of a point of view … we were there to reinforce a constituency.”

Conservatives retort that other media project a liberal bias, while Fox presents a needed counterweight. The liberal bias of network news is debatable; that Fox regularly reports false and inaccurate stories designed to drum up support for their candidates and causes is beyond serious dispute.

Can you imagine other networks allowing, let alone encouraging, their anchors to utter statements like “John Kerry has Kim Jong Il on his side … North Korea loves John Kerry” as part of a newscast?

Mellman gives further examples and notes that viewers of Fox are more likely to have misperceptions regarding recent events, and are the most likely to vote Republican:

A study by a University of Maryland center concluded, “Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions” about Iraq. For example, in 2003, 67 percent of those who relied primarily on Fox wrongly believed the U.S. “found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al Qaeda terrorist organization.” Only 40 percent of those who relied on print media harbored this illusion, debunked thoroughly by the 9/11 Commission.

Instead of providing “fair and balanced” reporting, Fox has created an audience ignorant of the facts, but fully supportive of management’s ideology.

An audience that decides for itself, based on “fair and balanced” coverage, ought not to reach monolithic conclusions. Yet, in our 2004 polling with Media Vote, using Nielsen diaries, we found that Fox News viewers supported George Bush over John Kerry by 88 percent to 7 percent. No demographic segment, other than Republicans, was as united in supporting Bush. Conservatives, white evangelical Christians, gun owners, and supporters of the Iraq war all gave Bush fewer votes than did regular Fox News viewers.

Related Stories:
The Problem With Fox is Not Simply Bias
Why We Don’t Believe Conservative Criticism of the News, Or Conservative News

Conservatives Don’t Care About The Facts

Members of the reality based community frequently counter conservative arguments with the facts, but deep down we realize that it will not work. The conservatives don’t care about the facts. They typically start with their ideological position and then try to twist whatever facts they could to attempt to provide a justification. They will either deny evidence that their facts are incorrect, or simply invent new facts to argue with. Mike the Mad Biologist came to this recognition with regards to creationism, but the same argument applies to other differences we have with the right wing’s fantasy world. The full post is well worth reading, but here’s a selection:

I’ve been a biologist–an evolutionary biologist–for some time now. I also lived in Virginia during the cultural apogee of the theological conservatives (the late ’80s and early ’90s). So I’m quite familiar with the evolution-creationist conflict, and have even been a bit player in the whole kerfuffle.

When I started first dealing with creationism, I suffered from what I call the Halberstam fallacy. In his landmark book about Vietnam, The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam describes how, once he realized the horrible mistake that war was, he would talk to various civilian and military officials. He earnestly believed that if he could just provide them with yet one more piece of evidence, one more story, that these men of intellectual honesty would come around to his opinion. What Halberstam ultimately realized is that these men were not intellectual honest, that they were not interested in rationally assessing the evidence, but instead, had decided that the war was the desired outcome, and that the facts must be altered or ignored to fit the ‘reality’ of the war (if this sounds in any way, shape, or form similar to contemporary events….).

Quite simply, they were not operating from a position of intellectual honesty. Words were as weapons to such men. So too, with the creationists.

It took me a while to realize that the ‘professional creationists’ were not intellectually honest either. I am not referring to those who follow them, or those who are simply not very knowledgable about evolution. I receive emails asking me about evolution and creationism (particularly issues related to microbiology), and, believe it or not, I answer them politely (if not always quickly…).

Everyone can be misinformed, ignorant, or simply have not thought things through correctly. What I will not tolerate is willful ignorance. Creationist leaders and spokesmen are willfully ignorant. How many times do they have to be told what scientists mean by a theory? How many times will they misstate the basics of evolutionary theory, such as claiming that natural selection is a tautology? The list goes on and on. These creationists have heard the evidence-based rebuttals of their false arguments many times.

And these rebuttals did not take. They never take. Creationist speakers continue to repeat these falsehoods even though they have heard the explanations over and over again, to the point where they could probably make the arguments themselves, were they so inclined. And they present themselves as an embattled minority, struggling for the truth. They are quite simply on the wrong side of the evidence, evidence gathered from disparate fields, such as biochemistry, genetics, geology, and physics.

Many of us who spend time blogging or otherwise arguing with the right realize that they will continue to repeat their falsehoods regardless of how much evidence there is contradicting them. That doesn’t mean that presenting the truth is futile. While we will not change the claims of the hard core right wingers and creationists, others may be persuaded by seeing factual rebuttals.

Rush Limbaugh Terminated

Earlier in the month we saw conservatives denounce Ann Coulter. Will Rush Limbaugh suffer the same fate? Once considered the spokesman for conservativism, he must now feel like he is being pursued by a cyborg from the future. Limbaugh tried to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Arnold struck back on the Today Show.

Rush Limbaugh recently attacked Schwarzenegger on his show, including calling him a “closet liberal.”

“I don’t know what happened to Arnold,” the conservative talker said on his radio show. “He obviously didn’t have the leadership skills to articulate conservative principles and win over the public as Reagan did.”

Schwarzenneger responded by saying, “Limbaugh is irrelevant.” He also said, “I’m not his servant. I am the people’s servant of California.”

Some say that an attack by a prominent Republican means that Limbaugh’s days as a major conservative spokesman are over. Other say his power has always been a myth, or perhaps a fantasy fueled by an OxyContin high.

“For all of his power and all of his fame, Rush Limbaugh, during his ascent in the ’90s, bashing Bill Clinton on a daily basis, hours on the radio every day coast to coast, was not able to un-elect Bill Clinton,” said Michael Harrison of Talkers Magazine, a trade magazine for talk radio.