I’m going to update this periodically with the catalogue of Trumpian lies as the campaign progresses through its final weeks.
Here’s my problem: Biden is running on quality of character, among other things. Trump has no quality of character. He’s a sociopathic narcissist. He lies constantly, always willing to take the lowest road there is to achieve his ends. Biden and his campaign trust the American people not to fall for Trump’s lies, but they did in 2016 and they very well could again. Biden believes goodness and light will always prevail. Trump believes just the opposite. It’s really a difference that boils down to the nature of people. referring to Trump and his enablers, Biden likes to say, “That’s not who we are.” But is he right? It’s not clear the evidence is on his side. So let’s keep checking the facts, because facts may be all we have to fight with if we want to defeat the sociopathic narcissist. Joe Biden and Michelle and Barack Obama and so many others may want to appeal to our better angels, to take the high road, but for far too many Americans, those better angels have been locked in the basement.
Fact check: Trump delivers blizzard of false claims in Pennsylvania speech attacking Biden
Here’s the full text of Barack Obama’s DNC speech, in which he gives Donald Trump every bit of what he deserves. The beauty of this speech is in both the writing and delivery is that Obama’s deep concern (or fear) for the very life of our democracy is infused throughout.
Good evening, everybody. As you’ve seen by now, this isn’t a normal convention. It’s not a normal time. So tonight, I want to talk as plainly as I can about the stakes in this election. Because what we do these next 76 days will echo through generations to come.
I’m in Philadelphia, where our Constitution was drafted and signed. It wasn’t a perfect document. It allowed for the inhumanity of slavery and failed to guarantee women — and even men who didn’t own property — the right to participate in the political process. But embedded in this document was a North Star that would guide future generations; a system of representative government — a democracy — through which we could better realize our highest ideals. Through civil war and bitter struggles, we improved this Constitution to include the voices of those who’d once been left out. And gradually, we made this country more just, more equal, and more free.
The one Constitutional office elected by all of the people is the presidency. So at minimum, we should expect a president to feel a sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of all 330 million of us — regardless of what we look like, how we worship, who we love, how much money we have — or who we voted for.
But we should also expect a president to be the custodian of this democracy. We should expect that regardless of ego, ambition, or political beliefs, the president will preserve, protect, and defend the freedoms and ideals that so many Americans marched for and went to jail for; fought for and died for.
I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president. I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.
But he never did. For close to four years now, he’s shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.
Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.
Now, I know that in times as polarized as these, most of you have already made up your mind. But maybe you’re still not sure which candidate you’ll vote for — or whether you’ll vote at all. Maybe you’re tired of the direction we’re headed, but you can’t see a better path yet, or you just don’t know enough about the person who wants to lead us there.
So let me tell you about my friend Joe Biden.
Twelve years ago, when I began my search for a vice president, I didn’t know I’d end up finding a brother. Joe and I came from different places and different generations. But what I quickly came to admire about him is his resilience, born of too much struggle; his empathy, born of too much grief. Joe’s a man who learned — early on — to treat every person he meets with respect and dignity, living by the words his parents taught him: “No one’s better than you, Joe, but you’re better than nobody.”
That empathy, that decency, the belief that everybody counts — that’s who Joe is.
When he talks with someone who’s lost her job, Joe remembers the night his father sat him down to say that he’d lost his.
When Joe listens to a parent who’s trying to hold it all together right now, he does it as the single dad who took the train back to Wilmington each and every night so he could tuck his kids into bed.
When he meets with military families who’ve lost their hero, he does it as a kindred spirit; the parent of an American soldier; somebody whose faith has endured the hardest loss there is.
For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room whenever I faced a big decision. He made me a better president — and he’s got the character and the experience to make us a better country.
And in my friend Kamala Harris, he’s chosen an ideal partner who’s more than prepared for the job; someone who knows what it’s like to overcome barriers and who’s made a career fighting to help others live out their own American dream.
Along with the experience needed to get things done, Joe and Kamala have concrete policies that will turn their vision of a better, fairer, stronger country into reality.
They’ll get this pandemic under control, like Joe did when he helped me manage H1N1 and prevent an Ebola outbreak from reaching our shores.
They’ll expand health care to more Americans, like Joe and I did ten years ago when he helped craft the Affordable Care Act and nail down the votes to make it the law.
They’ll rescue the economy, like Joe helped me do after the Great Recession. I asked him to manage the Recovery Act, which jumpstarted the longest stretch of job growth in history. And he sees this moment now not as a chance to get back to where we were, but to make long-overdue changes so that our economy actually makes life a little easier for everybody — whether it’s the waitress trying to raise a kid on her own, or the shift worker always on the edge of getting laid off, or the student figuring out how to pay for next semester’s classes.
Joe and Kamala will restore our standing in the world — and as we’ve learned from this pandemic, that matters. Joe knows the world, and the world knows him. He knows that our true strength comes from setting an example the world wants to follow. A nation that stands with democracy, not dictators. A nation that can inspire and mobilize others to overcome threats like climate change, terrorism, poverty, and disease.
But more than anything, what I know about Joe and Kamala is that they actually care about every American. And they care deeply about this democracy.
They believe that in a democracy, the right to vote is sacred, and we should be making it easier for people to cast their ballot, not harder.
They believe that no one — including the president — is above the law, and that no public official — including the president — should use their office to enrich themselves or their supporters.
They understand that in this democracy, the Commander-in-Chief doesn’t use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil. They understand that political opponents aren’t “un-American” just because they disagree with you; that a free press isn’t the “enemy” but the way we hold officials accountable; that our ability to work together to solve big problems like a pandemic depends on a fidelity to facts and science and logic and not just making stuff up.
None of this should be controversial. These shouldn’t be Republican principles or Democratic principles. They’re American principles. But at this moment, this president and those who enable him, have shown they don’t believe in these things.
Tonight, I am asking you to believe in Joe and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times and build it back better. But here’s the thing: no single American can fix this country alone. Not even a president. Democracy was never meant to be transactional — you give me your vote; I make everything better. It requires an active and informed citizenry. So I am also asking you to believe in your own ability — to embrace your own responsibility as citizens — to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure.
Because that’s what at stake right now. Our democracy.
Look, I understand why many Americans are down on government. The way the rules have been set up and abused in Congress make it easy for special interests to stop progress. Believe me, I know. I understand why a white factory worker who’s seen his wages cut or his job shipped overseas might feel like the government no longer looks out for him, and why a Black mother might feel like it never looked out for her at all. I understand why a new immigrant might look around this country and wonder whether there’s still a place for him here; why a young person might look at politics right now, the circus of it all, the meanness and the lies and crazy conspiracy theories and think, what’s the point?
Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.
We can’t let that happen. Do not let them take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy. Make a plan right now for how you’re going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell your family and friends how they can vote too. Do what Americans have done for over two centuries when faced with even tougher times than this — all those quiet heroes who found the courage to keep marching, keep pushing in the face of hardship and injustice.
Last month, we lost a giant of American democracy in John Lewis. Some years ago, I sat down with John and the few remaining leaders of the early Civil Rights Movement. One of them told me he never imagined he’d walk into the White House and see a president who looked like his grandson. Then he told me that he’d looked it up, and it turned out that on the very day that I was born, he was marching into a jail cell, trying to end Jim Crow segregation in the South.
What we do echoes through the generations.
Whatever our backgrounds, we’re all the children of Americans who fought the good fight. Great grandparents working in firetraps and sweatshops without rights or representation. Farmers losing their dreams to dust. Irish and Italians and Asians and Latinos told to go back where they came from. Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs, made to feel suspect for the way they worshipped. Black Americans chained and whipped and hanged. Spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters. Beaten for trying to vote.
If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work, and could not work, it was those Americans. Our ancestors. They were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives. They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth. And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.
I’ve seen that same spirit rising these past few years. Folks of every age and background who packed city centers and airports and rural roads so that families wouldn’t be separated. So that another classroom wouldn’t get shot up. So that our kids won’t grow up on an uninhabitable planet. Americans of all races joining together to declare, in the face of injustice and brutality at the hands of the state, that Black Lives Matter, no more, but no less, so that no child in this country feels the continuing sting of racism.
To the young people who led us this summer, telling us we need to be better — in so many ways, you are this country’s dreams fulfilled. Earlier generations had to be persuaded that everyone has equal worth. For you, it’s a given — a conviction. And what I want you to know is that for all its messiness and frustrations, your system of self-government can be harnessed to help you realize those convictions.
You can give our democracy new meaning. You can take it to a better place. You’re the missing ingredient — the ones who will decide whether or not America becomes the country that fully lives up to its creed.
That work will continue long after this election. But any chance of success depends entirely on the outcome of this election. This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win. So we have to get busy building it up — by pouring all our effort into these 76 days, and by voting like never before — for Joe and Kamala, and candidates up and down the ticket, so that we leave no doubt about what this country we love stands for — today and for all our days to come.
Today I received an email from Network Solutions offering special pricing on the hottest new domain name in the domain name domain: “.guru.” At first I was intrigued, and I checked to see what domains might be available. I tried my name.guru, and that was available. I tried marketing.guru, but that was taken. Damn. So I tried various others, and most of them were open. I even tried guru.guru, just in case I wanted to be known as the guru of gurus. Bingo. Available!
But then the angel on my shoulder said, “Whoa there, swami, do you really want people to think that you think you’re a guru? A little pretentious, don’t you think, especially for a guy that doesn’t look remotely Indian. So I passed on the .guru domain. Even if it were free, I couldn’t bring myself to use it except for maybe a comedy blog about a guy who goes to India to seek enlightenment but ends up managing a sweatshop where eight-year-olds sew silk ties for a famous Italian designer.
I got to thinking, though (unusual for me before my morning shower), about what happens to words, as I often do. When I first ran into the word “guru,” it was way back in another century – the latter middle part of that century in fact. People went to India to seek a guru who would take them on as students and teach them the meaning of life. Some of them were serious. Others simply had too much money and time on their hands. The Beatles and other celebrities adopted the Swami Satchidinanda as their mascot. And George Harrison, the most spiritual Beatle, even learned to play sitar. Frank Zappa, my personal teenage musical idol (not guru) made fun of the whole idea in his song “Cosmik Debris.” The guru craze Zappa made fun of may have been a little creepy, but back then at least we knew what a guru was supposed to be: an Indian spiritual guide and teacher.
“And I said ‘Look here brother Who you jiving with that cosmik debris? Now what kind of a guru are you, anyway? Look here brother, don’t waste your time on me'”
(from Zappa – Cosmik Debris)
Now, anyone who knows more than the average bear about something can bill himself or herself as a guru. Marketing gurus are everywhere. SEO gurus. Lean Six Sigma gurus. Among the many guru options available today, only the Lean Six Sigma gurus seem to actually promise spiritual enlightenment. Because I can be a bit of an ass sometimes, whenever someone introduces me to a “guru,” I like to ask what part of India they’re from. Some people think it’s funny; most just think it’s in bad taste.
You can look up “guru ” and find all sorts of history. You will find this guy, Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru (15th century), and your more contemporary gurus of course.
Words evolve. Original meanings get lost. I get that. But we have an interesting case here. If lots of people adopt the .guru domain name, thus claiming that they are the spiritual leaders of trade shows or toxic torts or permanent nose hair removal, then nobody can be recognized as an actual guru ever again. The word will have killed the species. Extinction by etymology. And if nobody can be an actual guru anymore, then who will the rock stars of the future turn to for spiritual growth?
What would this year’s presidential election be like if the only thing the media was allowed to do is provide actual quotations from the candidates? No analysis. No commentary. No polls. Nothing said on TV or on the web that isn’t an exact quote from a candidate. Wouldn’t that be interesting!
Sorry if this sounds cynical, but I believe most people’s opinions of a candidate are based on someone else’s opinion, not their own. Maybe it’s whatever the FOX people are saying, or the CNNs or the MSNBCs. Or perhaps it’s the latest rants of their favorite celebrities. And if it were simply other people’s opinions about the candidates, even that wouldn’t be so bad as following other people’s opinions about the polls of other people’s opinions.
Why do I think Romney is going to win this election? It’s not because he can fix the economy. No president can do that. It’s not because of his stance on health care, social security, taxes, Israel, Syria, abortion, gay marriage, or traffic. It’s because in the last few weeks of the campaign, Romney is “trending.” The media reports on the polls which say Romney is gaining. People hop on the bus. It just snowballs from there.
And none of it has to do with policy. People say they care about policy, but they don’t. They care about what their friends and coworkers think of them. They care about who looks good on TV. They care about anything except policy, substance, simply because the real issues are complicated and flat-out too hard to understand. How many American’s can actually tell you what the national debt is or means? How many can cite the actual details of Obama’s healthcare program? How many can actually define the phrase “middle class”? And how many can find Syria on a map?
Until recently I never put a bumper sticker on my car. About six months ago I saw one I simply had to have. It says, “Is That What They Told You To Think?” Frankly, I don’t care what anyone’s stance on issues is, unless of course it’s simply offensive; I just care that they probably haven’t figured it out for themselves. They bought it off the rack. And the schlock merchants are the media on every side.
Here’s the thing. If you can’t think an issue through yourself based on the available facts and information, you look to the media who appear to be most sincere and generally in line with your overall world view. They can sell you anything. And they do it not with lies, but with selective information. Some things get reported and some don’t. Some panel moderators clearly lean this way or that, and panelists are carefully selected.
That’s why I’d like to see a presidential election where everyone had to make up their mind based on primary sources only. Then the candidates would have to really sound and look good. No hiding behind a PAC or a network or a big red and blue chart on the wall. There’s a presidential debate tonight. It will last for however long it lasts. And then we will get analysis for days. I will have formed an opinion of the candidates based mostly on who actually answered which questions and who simply evaded them. And then I may shut off the TV and not turn it on again until after the election – except to watch Walking Dead, of course, where the zombies don’t try to be anything but zombies.
Did you know Aggie Maroon is actually an official PMS (no, that stands for Pantone Matching System – a printing ink color standard) color? It is. A few days ago I was suggesting to a client that we use the color orange for something or other. He smiled and reminded me that half of all Texans would be offended.
If I hadn’t encountered this before, I would have been truly puzzled. But I did indeed know exactly what he meant. You can divide Texas into two camps: burnt orange and maroon. Maroon for those who go or went to Texas A&M, and burnt orange of the University of Texas. And somehow it’s all tied into football. But that a topic for another post.
Once I prepared a series of campaign postcards for an attorney who was running for local bar association president. She insisted that we use maroon as the main color on one and orange on the other. We didn’t want to leave anyone out.
While I suspect this may be a bigger deal in Texas than anywhere else, I can think of another two-color division that’s gone a bit more viral. Red states and blue states. Thanks to CNN’s election result charts from a few years back, states are now divided into either of two colors. Never before have states been so easily distinguished from one another.
If this red/blue thing had gone away after that election, then fine, it would have been just a way that a news network chose to illustrate election results on-air. But it went viral before the word viral went viral. It had legs. Viral legs. Red and blue are now part of the official vernacular of political analysts, campaign workers, reporters, bloggers, and ordinary wonks everywhere.
Who knew? And what about colored ribbons? I see pink, I think of breast cancer victims, not little girls’ dresses. Yellow ribbons are tied around old oak trees and have been since the 1940s. Ferrari has its own red. Chase bank has been trying to brand a blue by airing commercials that are black and white except for the blue chase card. More and more companies are using this trick now that they decided it’s cool. Target stores has tried to brand the color red.
Some people want their presence on earth to be immortalized in the name of a newly discovered star, planet, or moon in a far-away galaxy.
Not me. I want a color, a particular shade of something or other. I like orange and use it on my Morninglight Marketing web site. (It’s not burnt orange). But I don’t want orange as my personal brand color.
Hmmm. Maybe something akin to periwinkle blue. I like periwinkle because it’s an odd color. periwinkle is to blue what salmon is to pink – just a bit off-center. I have a friend who had a “salmon” sofa once. He’s a bit off-center, too (meant in a very good way). So if there were a color called “Peter,” what would it be. Ferrari red, A&M maroon, periwinkle peter. Works for me.
QR codes. I’ve played with creating one. I’ve read how wonderful they are. Marketers and advertisers jumped on them as the latest, coolest thing, and they are popping up everywhere. I’ve even created one with my own contact information. But I’ve always had the nagging feeling that they are a mostly solution looking for a problem. Will people really whip out their smart phones, find the scanner app, and scan the QR code on the blue jeans ad to see what they will get?
Here’s a great article by Sean Cummings on iMedia Connection called “Why the QR Code is Failing.” Sean doesn’t blame the technology, the tool. He blames the people using it. I actually wonder if he goes far enough. Sure, the way they’re being used is generally pointless. But do QR codes really have potential for marketers, even if used intelligently and creatively? I’m not sure.
Every so often a truly great marketing coup comes along that stands out from all the rest. When Arm & Hammer told us to put boxes of baking soda in the refrigerator, nearly every fridge in America got one as a gift. The onions no longer fought with the fish and the leftover pizza. And just in case you missed that part of the campaign, part two reminded you it was time to change the box of baking soda. So if you didn’t have one there already, you ran out and bought one. Yet another great scam perpetrated on “Boobus Americanus” (see H.L. Mencken). It doesn’t really matter whether or not the baking soda works (it probably does); what matters is how effectively they marketed it to solve a problem that most people didn’t have. If your refrigerator stank, the usual solution was to throw out the spoiled food that caused the odor. Or just accept the fact that you’re gross.
But the ad agency that did Arm & Hammer had nothing on whomever the American Angus Association brought in to convince Boobus that black cows taste better than brown ones, white ones, brown and white ones, and all the other possible colors of cow. And we bought it big time. Hundreds of restaurants now have the word “Angus” in their names. McDonalds and Arby’s proudly offer “Angus” beef products at a premium price. Supermarkets let you know which ground beef and steaks on their shelves came from a black cow.
After all, what do we really know about Angus cattle other than their black color? Have you ever read of a national taste test comparing prime aged and well prepared steaks from different colors of cow? No, neither have I.
This could be the greatest marketing coup, dollar for dollar, yet.
I can just picture it. It’s about 7 pm at the ad agency office. The 20-somethings are sitting around thinking about who their next client should be. Then somebody says, “cows.” I bet we can convince people that the color of a cow affects its taste. Do you want to do white cows, brown ones, or black? OK, let’s go with black cows. Somebody go check to see if there’s a black cow ranchers’ association or something like that. There is? Great. We’ll call them in the morning and see if they agree that the genus Boobus Americanus is just as stupid or even stupider than the Arm & Hammer guys thought.
Or maybe the black cow ranchers got the idea first. Either way, it’s pure evil genius.
“Happy People Are Broken.” That’s what the lit-up sign outside the massive Second Baptist Church on Woodway Road in Houston said yesterday. I went back this morning to get a photo, but they had changed it to something more administrative. Since I can’t presume that the belief expressed in that sentence is part of official Baptist theology, I have to think something else is going on. And what that is seems pretty obvious.
It’s a teaser. It’s designed to get people asking “WTF?” (Baptists may express this using some other acronym.) The point, I presume, is to get you to come in on Sunday and find out what that sign actually meant, which was surely not what it says. Thus, dear friends, it’s a marketing ploy. Not a new one, mind you. It smacks a bit of the old bait-and-switch, doesn’t it?
So I had two reactions. My first was horror. How could anyone say that? Why would anyone say that? It’s awful. Let’s get these folks back on their meds before they hurt someone. I wanted to run in and find the pastor and ask him what was so wrong in his life that he would allow such a sign on his big megabucks church. Then I had the “aha!” moment, the one where you realize how stupid you are. If I went looking for the pastor, I’d get a cheerful pat on the back and a loving look and be told to return Sunday for the true meaning, which, no doubt, would include the rest of the sentence. Something like “Happy people are broken unless their happiness comes through Jesus” – or something like that.
That’s when I had my second reaction kicked in. What about this sort of marketing? You communicate something clearly offensive in the hope to lure in curious passers-by. It reminds me a little (just a little, really) of the tactic often used by furniture stores, appliance stores, and car dealerships on tv ads: be so loud and annoying that people remember your name. OK, it’s not really the same thing, but I was reminded of the technique – a technique I never liked, no matter how much the cash registers may ring.
My respect for mega-churches has never been very high, since they seem more like big business than anything else. But this church has perhaps achieved a new low. I have more respect for the little church with the sign in the picture above than for this one; at least they’re honest.
1) Is what the Second Baptist Church did ethical?
2) Is it good (i.e., effective) marketing?
3) If it’s not ethical, but it doesn’t really hurt anyone, and it is effective, is it wrong?
My answers: No, No, and Yes. Anyone else want to chime in?
P.S. The signs outside religious institutions have taken on a social and political role of their own of late. What do you think about that?
If I still worked there, I’d have been fired today for asking the CEO why his company is making lots of money in spite of the fact that it doesn’t care much about its clients. The guy and his crew violate just about every rule of good marketing, such as failing to build client relationships, suing clients at every opportunity, spamming them, providing poor service, and the list goes on. Did I mention that whenever they have a marketing manager or director who cares, that person has a short shelf life? And yet, I hear they’re having one of their best financial years ever.
I really do know the answer, of course. This company has a large national sales staff (they call them BDs) that manages to find lots of fresh clients whom they can work with once and then never again worry much about. As long as the pond remains well stocked with prospects, they can pull out fish after fish, take a bite, and throw the rest back. And it won’t matter because by the time the pond’s been over-fished and there’s nothing left, the owners and investors will have made their money and can move on to their next big idea.
So, this is a viable business model, right. If it’ll keep you going long enough for you to meet your financial goals, and if you don’t care about the wake of pissed off clients and disgruntled former employees you leave behind, then who’s to say it’s not a valid approach?
I do. Lots of people do. I’d say it’s a head-on collision with ethical behavior. But, as a cultural relativist, and knowing that there have been societies where it was perfectly acceptable, if not downright mandated, to eat your enemies or sacrifice your daughters to Kong, maybe I shouldn’t rush to judgment.