Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

Cheerios opening up breakfast to all families

leave a comment »

The following column originally ran on June 5, 2013 on our sister blog, BalanceofFood.com.

If you think a bowl of Cheerios is too healthy, you could mix half and half with Apple Jacks and create your own cereal treat. There the two cereals would be — side by side — in perfect harmony for your mouth.

Of course, some could object that Cheerios shouldn’t be so close to Apple Jacks much less Froot Loops and should stick with other Cheerios.

Now Cheerios even comes in chocolate Cheerios so you can mix regular and chocolate together.

Cereal is universal in that they are all one in the bowl of life. People are that way, too, though you might not think that was true given the negative reaction to the multiracial family in the latest Cheerios ad.

If you eat several different kinds of cereal in the same bowl and close your eyes when you are eating it, you can’t tell whether you are eating regular Cheerios or Chocolate Cheerios or Apple Jacks or Froot Loops. I’ve done this with snack chips and you’d be surprised how much is lost when you eat them all together.

People of all different colors eat all different kinds of cereal. You might hate another human being for a number of reasons, but find that both of you like the same cereal.

People of a mixture of colors and ethnicities, as the young girl in the ad is a classic example, has literally existed long before breakfast cereal was invented. So literally from the beginning of breakfast cereal, families who look like the family in the ad have been eating breakfast cereal together.

All the ad did was bring attention to that fact. Most of us didn’t think much about the connection. It was silly of the girl to pour Cheerios on the heart of her sleeping father, but such silliness transcends everything else.

In life and Life cereal, there is room at the breakfast table for all different kinds of cereal and the people who eat them. Some people just need to scoot over and make a little more room.

President Obama needs to stay strong on ideas of community and infrastructure

leave a comment »

President Obama finally gave the speech on infrastructure that the United States needed to hear in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Since the speech came in the heat of the presidential race, and thanks to the “unbiased” take from Fox News, the president’s words were taken out of context and severely distorted.

What has been missing from the context of the heated back-and-forth is why the distortion worries conservatives and teabaggers, and how the idea of infrastructure has slipped into an exclusively Democratic talking point.

Back when I covered politics for a living, I noted that the president-elect had a great opportunity to convince Republicans that infrastructure was a great way to spend needed government stimulus.

Obama had the ideal mix of individualism and community that Americans are supposed to have, and had when building what was a great country.

Liberals and Democratic people like individualism, but wrapped in a community. E.J. Dionne keeps pointing out that William F. Buckley believed in community, but the modern teabaggers thrive on individualism without that lack of community.

When you hear conservatives claim that a single private citizen could have thwarted the Aurora mass shooting, you know that they have no trust in a community function. We may have settled the West with individualism, but people couldn’t have survived out there without community.

The media’s coverage of Fox News’ distortion and Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy was along the lines of “these things happen.” Attention, MSM: Fox “News” is not in the same business you are. Never has been. Never will be. If you did what they did, you would be fired. At Fox “News,” you get a raise.

Since the MSM needs a lesson in covering lies and distortion, they should learn a lesson from The Daily Show and its resident crank, Lewis Black. You find more truth in Black’s rant than in the MSM coverage, and more balanced, too.

You shouldn’t get your news from The Daily Show or the sister show, Colbert Report. On occasion, you should listen to what they have to say, when the MSM (once again) drops the ball.

Florida notebook: Romney’s $ makes a difference over Gingrich

leave a comment »

Florida may be a Southern state, even a neighbor of Georgia, but as Newt Gingrich is finding out, Florida is part Jewish, part Latino, and part “protect Social Security and Medicare.”

Money is also king in the Sunshine State and Mitt Romney is severely outspending Gingrich, and Florida is a state where you need a lot of money. Even as Romney was losing South Carolina, the campaign and the Super PAC were running ads against Gingrich in Florida before the votes were counted in South Carolina.

While liberals may enjoy what Romney is doing against Gingrich, Romney will still have plenty of money to go after President Barack Obama.

Since Florida is a winner take all state and will lose some delegates, Gingrich will win as many delegates as Ron Paul and Stephen Colbert: zero.

Florida has 50 delegates, down from 99 because the state moved up in the primary process. Remember the MI and FL fiascoes in 2008? The noise came from the Democratic side, because they generally care more about lost votes. Republicans didn’t scream about it in 2008 or aren’t screaming now.

Does this mean Gingrich is done after Florida? The road for Gingrich doesn’t look good, especially in February, but he doesn’t seem to care. February brings more caucuses (not Gingrich’s strength) and the former House speaker isn’t even on the ballot in Virginia. While that doesn’t give Gingrich any more delegates, his desire to keep going no matter what will make Romney squirm a bit.

If Newt Gingrich doesn’t win Florida, he can blame his lack of success with women. Gingrich didn’t help himself by giving a vague answer on which of the potential first ladies would make the best first lady. “Stand by your woman” would be a logical choice, even if the question is a little odd.

If the 2012 election came down to the female vote, Obama would destroy Gingrich. Obama would still beat Romney in the female vote, but the contrast would be larger if Gingrich gets the nomination.

Intense headlines are seen as a way to draw more traffic on the Web to a story, but the truth is that crazy headlines are a part of the journalism landscape for as long as journalism has been around. Though it helps if the headline is true or could be proven.

The Washington Post — you know, that liberal bastion — went with this actual headline: “Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.”

This headline appeared above a story from Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake based on Gallup tracking polls. The polls “prove” that President Barack Obama has the highest gap between the parties over whether they approved of the job he was doing. This mark surpasses George W. Bush in 2007.

Polls don’t prove a lot, especially if you don’t know what the questions are. If anything, the 80% mark that Democratic voters give the president seems a little high.

The Gallup polls go back to 1953. So the concept of “ever” isn’t even remotely close. “Most polarizing president”?

Rutherford B. Hayes wasn’t so much polarizing himself, but the circumstances in which he was elected would have scored higher. Grover Cleveland would be upset if he were alive, especially during his first term as president, that he didn’t win that title. John Adams, after signing the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, would have scored pretty high. Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, Richard M. Nixon in 1973, and James Buchanan in 1860 all want a recount on the most polarizing president. Ever. This doesn’t even count virtually every second of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

We overall like Chris Cillizza though we are frustrated that he literally limits himself to treating politics as if it were sports. Endearing but frustrating. To write a story such as this and not stretch beyond the self-imposed bubble to include one word on why Obama might be seen so harshly, so polarizing: race. Not one single word about the possibility, the consideration that perhaps maybe being the first black president is an element to being “polarizing.”

The MSM ignored the blatant racism coming from the teabaggers. This is not to say all teabaggers are racists; they did nothing to confront the racism. And they ignore that racism can account for being “polarizing.”

The other factor is that the MSM gave teabaggers undeserved credibility. The MSM will go out of its way to not broadcast or show any 9/11 inside job conspiracies, (and we’re not saying they’re true), but those conspiracies had more facts that the “birthers” had. The theory that Bristol Palin is the mother of Trig has more facts behind it than the “birthers.” And yet, the birthers got MSM cred.

Starting an unnecessary war is a polarizing act. Running a milquetoast centrist administration while the country and world crumbles around them is as polarizing as vanilla ice cream or ranch dressing.

Chris Cillizza runs a feature called Worst Week in Washington. Looks like we already have a winner this week.

Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch need to be held accountable for phone hacking

leave a comment »

The “News of the World” is no more, but the phone hacking scandal lives on. And the only question remaining is whether the scandal will reach the top of the News Corp. chain.

The allegations of phone hacking of a murdered young girl, relatives of victims killed in terrorist acts stirred emotion among those in the UK.

But those who found this behavior so despicable in 2011 have to respond to “Why are you only complaining about this now?”

Rupert Murdoch’s journalism style has involved phone hacking for years. True, the victims then were royals, politicians, and celebrities. However, as much as it pains us to say so, royals and politicians and celebrities are … people.

We put these well-known people in a different category, needing tougher skins than regular people. The tradeoff is they have power and status that we will never get. And tabloid journalism, more in the UK than in the U.S. even, thrives on catching those people in doing something that we think they shouldn’t do.

And this is why the public went along with the Murdoch philosophy, phone hacking be damned.

The logical extension is that the Murdoch philosophy would eventually shift to “regular people,” and according to the allegations, they have been long before 2011.

By sales of the News of the World, the British public voted with their pounds and shillings that this behavior was acceptable, and they have some level of accountability.

Some accountability lies in the reporters and editors that engaged in this behavior, but we have heard very little about them. Did they get punished when the victims were politicians and celebrities? Did they get punished later when the Murdoch philosophy expanded?

The majority of the accountability in this behavior rests with those who encouraged, instigated, or condoned the behavior.

To say that Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, and had no accountability in any of the behavior over the many years at the numerous News Corp./News International properties is a stretch. To say that Rebekah Brooks played no role is highly unlikely.

Let’s pretend that the Murdochs had no idea of anything that was going on, they didn’t know about paying off the police or hacking into phone accounts, or any other unethical and/or illegal behavior at any of those news operations throughout the world, including the United States’ Fox News Channel.

To not know what was going on is beyond inexcusable, so even in the best of scenarios for the Murdoch family, they must receive a just punishment for their actions. And if they knew, every reason to assume that is true, well that requires a bigger punishment.

Some of the blame for this expanded phone hacking scandal lies in government. Obviously, the British government has its role: not just that Prime Minister David Cameron hired a former News of the World editor as his press secretary, an editor that resigned because of, brace for it, a phone hacking scandal. And allegations that the police had been bought off by News Corp. employees reflects a sense that Murdoch can’t be touched. And minus the scandal, Murdoch was going to grow his media empire by buying B Sky B.

This impression extends significantly into the United States. Various U.S. government agencies have let Murdoch accumulate media power that no one else is allowed to own. Murdoch was allowed to buy the New York Post while owning WNYW-TV 5 in New York City, a violation of the law at that time. Murdoch was allowed to own two VHF signals in New York City in buying WWOR-TV 9, something that was and still is illegal. And Murdoch was allowed to buy the Wall Street Journal and didn’t have to sacrifice owning a daily newspaper and two VHF stations in the country’s #1 media market, something so illegal for everyone else that no category exists for such an abomination.

And Fox ‘News’ Channel, as Jon Stewart has noted recently, gets away with so many factually inaccurate statements that 6 columns couldn’t fit all of them.

We still don’t know to what extent the impact is on American shores, though we have the early complaints of phone hacking for 9/11 victims. But there is great reason to believe that Murdoch won’t suffer on these shores because he is too powerful to be stopped.

Then again, you could have said the same thing about Murdoch in England just a few months ago.

An investigation that doesn’t seriously consider Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks and others in News Corp. management isn’t legitimate or thorough. We’ve seen the journalism practices, minus the recent allegations, of this company and its owners: the assumption that the allegations are true is based purely on the idea that we wouldn’t be surprised if all of them and more are true.

This comes down to accountability, something upstanding journalists pride themselves on doing.

Christie, Huckabee praise Michelle Obama, but still repeat Sarah Palin’s lies

leave a comment »

Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee did something on TV talk shows on Sunday that few Republicans have dared to do: praise Michelle Obama’s drive to reduce childhood obesity.

Why that is daring is something that greater minds than mine should work to figure out.

But the one commonality, besides their own relationship with weight issues, is that in praising the First Lady’s efforts, they both felt the need to repeat the lies of Sarah Palin.

For a more in-depth look at these two GOP politicians and Sarah Palin’s impact on them, read the story in our sister blog, BalanceofFood.com.

IFC’s corporatespeak is insufficient response to showing ads during movies

with 60 comments

Even though corporations are now people, according to 5 people on the Supreme Court, we were hoping that they would learn to talk like people.

Unfortunately, many companies have chosen to use corporatespeak as their native tongue.

The word Orwellian is so 20th century to describe such language.

IFC – Independent Film Channel – shows independent and foreign films along with other shorter programs. Like all other major movie channels, the channel features a logo in the corner. Lately, its promos have danced on the screen at inopportune times, throwing off what is often a dramatic point in a non-mainstream film.

While the channel has run commercials in-between movies and shows, IFC is now running commercials DURING films.

IFC isn’t the first movie channel to fall into this lame trap; cable movie fans might recall the fate of AMC – American Movie Classics, now known way more for “Mad Men” than any movie it might show.

But the movies than AMC would run were usually available in a video store, even in a smaller city. IFC films don’t always make it to a major city video store. And given the price of cable to get a lot of crap, getting gems of films uninterrupted was a bright spot on the cable TV dial.

Now here is where the fun kicks in. IFC claims that their policy hasn’t changed, noting that the movies are unedited — now known as unedited for time. In their words:

IFC’s commitment to unedited indie films has not changed.  IFC does not censor or edit films for time. IFC is the only place independent films live unedited and in their entirety.

Going from airing uninterrupted films to running commercial breaks in the middle of movies does qualify as changing one’s commitment. The last sentence has been untrue for some time, ignoring the efforts of the Sundance Channel.

The second sentence is technically true since basic cable channels do interrupt movies, but you don’t pay the extra price for those channels as you do for IFC.

Now companies have been taught to do the social media thing to communicate with the fans. If you’ve been reading the IFC Facebook page in the last few days, the dialogue is corporatespeak in response to some very pissed off fans.


Nice one, Bob.

In another response, the channel says, “While our format may be evolving, we are still IFC. We’re just evolving to give you more of what you want.” Can’t imagine people were lining up for IFC to throw commercial breaks in the middle of its movies.

The other corporate presence is to pay/compensate people to say nice things. Here is one person’s take on the changes:

I think the minimal AD’s between programing is understandable and doesn’t impede my viewing experience. These Ads have the potential to create some great shows and …content that would otherwise never get off the ground.

The ellipses are his, not mine. But let’s look at what he wrote. Does it sound like something a fan would write on his own? This person might be receiving some compensation from IFC or a related party. Capitalizing “ads” doesn’t help his cred.

If you think I’m being over the top on the capitalization thing, read this one:

I defend your addition of Commercials. I know you needed to do it, and I acknowledge the necessity of the move.

Again, an oddity repeated. The mention of the ads or commercials is capitalized.

Now it wouldn’t surprise if IFC were doing something to draw such fine responses to an unpopular move. Companies have been caught doing this, and the number that hasn’t been caught has to be huge by comparison.

For the record, there is no proof — just suspicion. Read these and others and judge for yourself.

IFC has made an extreme shift in philosophy. You can tell from the many responses that this caught fans by surprise. And people wrote to IFC and used social media to find out what was going on.

Based on what IFC has written, they were prepared for the switch even if no one else was. Yet, their responses prove that they didn’t think the reaction would be this bad, and the lack of concern for specific issues lead to the corporatespeak examples.

The channel was one of two major cable channels that catered to independent film lovers. Unlike a lot of cable programming, independent and foreign films are difficult to find.

IFC has exclusive rights to films that can’t be shown on most other cable film channels. They won’t give up those rights, though you hope deep down inside that running commercials in the middle of their films violates those contracts. And you paid extra for cable for IFC, you are still paying that amount, even with the commercials during the movies.

A human reaction would be to feel bad, but point out why you wanted to do this. This was well below a human reaction, and even some corporate ones. Even the reactions from “independent” humans were sub-human.

Then again, despite what the Supreme Court says, corporations aren’t human.

If you embrace faux lesbians, you must accept real lesbians and gays

with one comment

I’ve been enjoying the MLB Extra Innings/NHL Center Ice free preview. Sure there are plenty of free baseball games as its season begins and lots of hockey action as playoff slots are determined.

But the extra fun is watching out-of-town and in some cases, out-of-country commercials. Two of them had an interestingly similar theme, especially given the audience of the ads.

Commercial #1 is from Jack in the Box featuring its new grilled sandwiches. Two women describe why their sandwich is the best. Jack turns to the camera and says this is the worst commercial he has ever been in. One woman says, “We could kiss.”

Commercial #2 is from Yellow Pages Canada. A woman sits in a restaurant eyeing a guy across the way. The woman’s imagination runs away from her and we soon see her in a wedding dress as the guy takes off. A waitress comes into view and the announcer says that she could be “Plan B.”

We have in these two commercials the hint of lesbianism. At least, there is the hint of faux lesbianism.

We also got a hint of faux lesbianism during the RNC lesbian bondage scandal. One of the themes of the place is to have faux lesbians on display sharing affection.

So we’ve established that women sharing affection is considered OK as long as they don’t really love each other. The Canadian commercial involves a wedding, but then again, lesbian can legally get married in Canada.

And since Republicans officially endorse faux lesbianism, why does the real thing scare them and others?

Why are real people who love each other who happen to be the same gender so scary and faux situations be OK?

We hear how gay marriage is a horrible idea, in much the same way as we heard that interracial marriage was a horrible idea. But fake gay people sharing affection is cool.

As a straight male, I am not here to deny any man the thrill of watching women pretending to be lesbians. It would violate the straight man rules, and I won’t hear of any violation.

But what should be part of the guy code is that if you embrace fake lesbians, you should accept real lesbians. And real gay people. And let them live their lives in freedom, peace, and harmony.

If you blasted the young woman in Mississippi for wanting to take her girlfriend to the prom, if you voted for or supported drives to thwart gay marriage, if you have ever said the word “f*gg*t” to scare or intimidate someone, you should lose the right to enjoy faux lesbians.

If you truly believe that two people of the same gender shouldn’t love or communicate affectionately, then you should be consistent and look away when two women are pretending to like each other that way. You can’t imagine your wife or girlfriend and a friend of hers locked in an embrace. You can’t have fantasies about two women rolling around in their underwear, remnant of this classic Miller Lite ad.

A few years back at a Chicago White Sox game, the Kiss Cam was going around the park. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, the camera shows couples throughout the ballpark and stays on them until they kiss. They try to pick married or committed couples, but sometimes they pick brother-sister combos or friends, but not the kissing kind.

In this game, they centered on a group of women who happened to be sitting right in front of us. Two of the young women were on the screen, and motivated by the exposure and the crowd egging them on, they kissed right in front of us and for the camera.

My friends and I cheered when they did it. The crowd loved it. And by no coincidence, the White Sox came from behind after the kiss to win the game.

We talked with the young women, asking them if they went that way. They said no; they did because they felt like it. Good for them.

The crowd may have loved it because they knew it was fake. But that isn’t fair to them, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The hypocritical contradiction of embracing lesbians is at the core of our disturbing stance on “don’t ask, don’t tell” and gay marriage. Plenty of those against change don’t mind if two straight women kiss, as long as they don’t mean it.

You’re welcome to see real lesbians kiss and pretend that they don’t mean it. You’re welcome to have freedom of thought. Just keep your prejudice inside your head. And let consenting adults live in the freedom you preach of so high and mighty.

Written by democracysoup

April 9, 2010 at 6:31 am