Month: June 2004

The Bush Way…

Bush keeps pulling the same old trick — accuse your opponent of your own dirty secrets, then keep beating the drum till everyone’s confused. In the South Carolina primary he slammed John McCain with a stream of low-blow negative attack ads, then ran a barrage accusing McCain of being the attacker. He painted Gore as a liar and exaggerator, even though Gore’s always been known as a stiff-but-honest statesman and as we’ve all seen Bush is more dishonest than Tricky Dick and Slick Willie put together. Somehow he even managed to accuse Vietnam vet and war hero John Kerry of having a tarnished war record — pretty gutsy move for a draft-dodger who went AWOL.

Now he’s got it down to such an art that he can do both at the same time. His latest ad (which I’ve cached in both original and toned-down versions) starts with the tired whine that “Kerry’s Democratic Party” compares Bush to Hitler — as usual leaving out the fact that the ad in question was one of over a thousand submissions to MoveOn.org’s Bush In 30 Seconds contest, and that MoveOn disavowed and removed the ad from their site as soon as it was noticed. Then under the guise of showing the “wild-eyed” “pessimism and rage” of his opponents he fast-cuts back and forth between shots of Hitler and shots of Gore, Dean, Edwards, Kerry and Michael Moore, all shouting in the same manner. It gets the Hitler comparison across great at a gut level, all the while staying subtle enough that it doesn’t quite blow the cover story of “look how mean they’re being!” I keep wavering between admiration for the psychological artistry and absolute disgust at the underhanded indecency of it all.

Not being the kind of guy who knows when he’s gone too far, if Bush succeeds here I’m sure the sky’s the limit. Who wants to bet before November we see ads accusing Kerry of lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction?

Update: the video is now headlining GeorgeWBush.com.

Another update: looking at the video again, I’m also struck by how well the ad plays with size to maximize it’s impact. Watch how it starts with a tiny frame (about 55% total) that grows to near full by the end shot of Kerry. Then they make sure to zoom and crop all the shots of Democrats so they’re more in-your-face and don’t quite fit in frame — by the time you get to Michael Moore’s Oscar acceptance speech he’s been zoomed about 500%. Compare the overall feel to the original snippit.

Yet another update:The NYT notes that the original version of the ad (without the initial disclaimer, added after the Kerry camp complained) is still archived as a part of the Living Room Candidate online museum of campaign ads. I’ve archived both versions, above.

GPS Camera for monitoring graffiti

Crime Mapping News has a nice two-page writup on how the Santa Monica Police are using a GPS-enabled camera to keep track of graffiti abatement (see pages 2 & 3). The cameras (made by the company I work for, Ricoh) include a drop-down menu to tag images with meta-data, including things like gang affiliation associated with a particular graffiti tag. The images can then be downloaded wirelessly from any city Wi-Fi station and be viewed in aggregate along with other GIS information.

9/11 Commissioner Wanted For Embezzlement!

DocBug Exclusive — Documents obtained by DocBug indicate that former Navy secretary John Lehman, a Republican member of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, is wanted in Idaho for embezzlement and flight to avoid prosecution. Lehman has apparently been hiding in New York City for years, venturing into public only to purchase necessities, sit on the 9/11 Commission, and go on Meet The Press to mistakenly confuse an Iraqi Officer named Lt. Col. Hikmat Shakir Ahmad for an al-Qaeda member named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi. If anyone has information about Lehman’s current whereabouts, please contact the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office.

UPDATE: New data suggests that Idaho police are seeking John Lehman Crupper, last spotted Salt Lake City in 1996, and not former Navy secretary John Lehman. However, we should point out it’s still possible that the former Navy secretary is a criminal, even if he isn’t the man Idaho police are looking for. This possibility needs to be run to ground — the most intriguing part is not whether or not he is the guy who committed embezzlement in Idaho, but whether he’s some other sort of bad guy, like maybe a bank robber or a pedophile. As of now, we just don’t know.

Barry Ritholtz has a nice analysis of the spin the Music Cartel is putting on the recent copy-protected Velvet Revolver CD that just came out. An excerpt (from Barry’s email, not blog post) that especially caught my eye:

Here’s the oddest aspect of the DRM: iPod-owning Velvet Revolver fans cannot transfer the music from their CDs to their pods unless they violate DMCA and hack their CDs. That’s right — if a consumer wants to use their legally purchased CDs on their legal MP3 player, they must become felons. The same is true for those iPod onwers who buy the music on iTunes music store — it wont work with their pods.

Foxnews raves about Michael Moore?

Here’s something I didn’t expect to be saying: Fox News just gave Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 a rave review!

I hadn’t been following the film since Disney tried to bar Mirimax from distributing it. (Depending on who you believe, that was either because they were worried Jeb Bush would rescind special tax advantages for Disney World or just because Disney was chicken about being associated with controversy.) While I wasn’t looking it seems Mirimax’s co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein purchased all worldwide rights from Disney, and the film will be distributed by Lions Gate Films (a Canadian company) along with IFC Films and the Weinstein brothers’ own ad-hoc Fellowship Adventure Group.

The trailer looks pretty darned good — film opens nation-wide Friday, June 25th.

G.W. Bush Public Domain Audio Archive

The Bots have put up a public-domain database of full MP3s from G.W. Bush’s speeches, debates and other statement. It’s mostly laid out for cutting up into remixes (like their latest song, Fuzzy Math) but they’re also providing the full linear speeches for whatever people want to do with them. In a couple months they’ll be sponsoring a contest for best use of the database — I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with.

(Props to Lawrence Lessig for the link.)

Girl Genius

Speaking of comics online, Phil Foglio has a new one out called Girl Genius that’s pretty cute. First issue is free online, I’ll probably spring for all four in paper form.

Something Positive

Three weeks ago R.K. Milholland got fed up with people criticizing the spelling in his online comic Something Positive so he posted a dare: donate his current day-job salary ($22,000) to his pay-pal account and he’ll quit and work full-time on the comic. The donations flooded in, and yesterday he gave his 2-weeks notice.

Just one more example of how “selling” content isn’t the only economic model out there, or necessarily even the best. All sorts of things become possible when what you produce has practically zero marginal cost.