The Production Room was founded in 1995 as one of the first full time digital commercial recording facilties on the central coast of California. We started with 4 stereo tracks, 16 mb of ram and a 250 mb hard drive. A lot has happened since then. Today we're focusing on ways to serve clients who are creating web based media content. This includes strategic planning to integrate the benefits of traditional media, web design and IT solutions into new programs produced especially for on-line consumers. Join in the conversation. Throw rocks at glass houses. Share your vision of the future. This is the most progressive time in the media arts since Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type!

Friday, February 29, 2008

1,2,3, What Are We Fighting 4?

This link from arstechnica reports new Air Force internet policy.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080229-us-air-force-shoots-down-blogs-airmen-frustrated.html

Wired has this:

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/02/air-force-banni.html

I guess the Air Force believes that we must choose between free speech and security.

Do you agree?

When the Winner Loses in America

Pity the New England Patriots.

They had a perfect season in the NFL and emerged undefeated on the eve of the Superbowl. Then the New York Giants changed the status of the "presumptive champion" from inevitable winner to LOSER.

America does not tolerate losers. Someone must take the blame for failure.

The rise of Barack Obama can mean only one thing in the minds of many. Hillary and her campaign have failed! And the reasons are written and told across all media because she is the "presuimptive" nominee on the verge of elimination.

What will America say if Obama loses one on Tues? They won't say that Hillary won.

They'll say that Obama lost.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Running Against Hope

Frank Rich has written a brilliant op-ed piece in New York Times called, "The Audacity of Hopelessness"

This is insightful commentary on both the strategic and rhetorical shortcomings of the Clinton campaign.

Some Highlights:

"Clinton fans don’t see their standard-bearer’s troubles this way. In their view, their highly substantive candidate was unfairly undone by a lightweight showboat who got a free ride from an often misogynist press and from na├»ve young people who lap up messianic language as if it were Jim Jones’s Kool-Aid. Or as Mrs. Clinton frames it, Senator Obama is all about empty words while she is all about action and hard work.

But it’s the Clinton strategists, not the Obama voters, who drank the Kool-Aid. The Obama campaign is not a vaporous cult; it’s a lean and mean political machine that gets the job done. The Clinton camp has been the slacker in this race, more words than action, and its candidate’s message, for all its purported high-mindedness, was and is self-immolating."

"As for countering what she sees as the empty Obama brand of hope, she offers only a chilly void: Abandon hope all ye who enter here. This must be the first presidential candidate in history to devote so much energy to preaching against optimism, against inspiring language and — talk about bizarre — against democracy itself. No sooner does Mrs. Clinton lose a state than her campaign belittles its voters as unrepresentative of the country."

Meanwhile on the right, the butchers of red meat radio are reminding us that Obama is actually half white...meaning what exactly? On Tuesday Sean Hannity went straight to race baiting with commentary about the black agenda of Obama's pastor. (It's a seemingly conservative agenda of personal responsibility and self reliance.)

I'm looking forward to having the right wing radio talkers expose themselves as ignorant boobs they are. They don't have the skill to negotiate the racial tightrope but they won't be able to keep off the race issue. That's all it's going to take to challenge the broadcast companies who keep putting them on the air.

UPDATE 2.26.08 - SPEAKING OF THE DEVILS

McCain Rebukes Radio Host For Obama Talk

Hey Mister, muzzle your dog.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hillary - The Executive and the Mother

The Democratic Primary debate in Austin Texas tonight revealed several truths about this campaign.

Hillary Clinton is favored by this format in opposition to the blazing stump speaker,
Barack Obama. She handled herself beautifully.

In quiet and measured tones she expressed her competence as an executive and made the most of her expertise on health care.

She was gracious in her disagreements with Barack Obama and expressed her differences respectfully to him and to the audience.

But she was most effective in her final comments comparing wounded veterans to her personal struggles. Mother Hillary was a figure of genuine compassion.

Obama struggled to maintain the power of the words from his stump speeches in the same measured boardroom atmosphere.

This was clearly Hillary Clinton's arena and she showed her skills at preparation and
in her responses to questions which subtly showed her experience as First Lady.

There was very much a yin and yang here as the masculine Obama asserted himself for America's vision and the feminine Clinton expressed her concerns for women and families.

One can only ponder the possibility of a joint ticket and wonder the old show-biz question: Who gets top billing?

I've been pleased to see the numbers of people from across America and especially readers from around the world in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the European Union who have stopped in to read my thoughts on this election.

Thanks.

I'm particularly interested in sharing my first person impressions as an American voter with people from other countries. This election matters to me and to millions of other Americans. We're paying close attention - as you are - and I hope you're encouraged to know that we realize this election is important to all of us.

I encourage you to post your comments and questions.

Clinton and The Media Outclassed

Words mean things.

My father taught me that as we listened to political speeches.
He was chairman of the speech department at UCSB and a PHD in rhetoric. He used to play speeches for his senior classes and I was his young son watching him prepare for lecture.

He would pace the floor during a Nixon speech and shout, "Did you hear what he just said?"

I would repeat what was said.

"No no, did you hear what he meant by what he said?"

He explained that in the arena of politics and professional speech with writers and candidates on the national stage - words are chosen carefully and people say exactly what they mean.

I've listened to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain and the other candidates for office. And I can tell you that Gary Wills should already be working on a new book because Barack Obama represents fundamental change to political speech in America. He has also exposed the shortcomings of political reporters who hear what's being said but don't have much to say about what it means.

Obama is the Tiger Woods of political oration and as of right now he is playing in a league of his own.

In a speech given Tuesday night in Houston, Barack Obama repeatedly crushed his opponents and specifically answered Hillary Clinton while keeping himself elevated above the mudfight that the far right, the Clintons and the media have been managing for 16 years.

Here are three examples of what Obama said on Tuesday night:

1)

"As wonderful as this gathering is, as exciting as these enormous crowds and this enormous energy may be, what we're trying to do here is not easy, and it will not happen overnight.

It is going to take more than big rallies. It's going to require more than rousing speeches. It will also require more than policy papers and positions and Web sites. It is going to require something more, because the problem that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas. It's that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die...

(APPLAUSE)

... because lobbyists crush them with their money and their influence, because politicians spend too much time trying to score political points and not enough time trying to bridge their differences so we can get something done.

(APPLAUSE)

The problem is that we haven't had leaders who can inspire the American people to rally behind a common purpose and a higher purpose. And this is what we need to change today..."

****

2)

"...I'm not running because of some long-held ambition. I know that some people have been looking through my kindergarten papers, but that's not why I decided to run.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm not running because I think it's somehow owed to me. I'm running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now, the fierce urgency of now.

(APPLAUSE)


****

3)

If you're ready for change, we can assure that every child in America has the best education this country has to offer...

(APPLAUSE)

... from the day that child is born to the day that child graduates from college. The problem is not the lack of plans, the lack of good ideas. The problem is a lack of political will, a lack of urgency.

****

The public instinctively understand this man.

By contrast, the speech of Hillary Clinton is barely any different in tone deafness and flat delivery from John Kerry. Further, Obama isn't arguing ideology against Hillary Clinton or John McCain. He is arguing that he is a better person because he has a higher purpose. That is a breathtaking statement! And it wasn't focus group tested either. This guy just knows who he is.

Here's my critique of the three examples from Tuesday:

1) Obama catches Hillary's "just words" critique and turns her into a frumpy policy wonk who doesn't inspire the people and is a captive of special interest money.(Ohhh - -SNAP!)

2)Obama captures the public perception of Hillary and a sense that she feels she is owed something. Then mocks the opposition research that involved his Kindergarten papers. It's a slap and a dismissal followed by a quote from Dr. King that piles dirt all over the sinking Clinton campaign.

3)This is Obama asking Hillary if she still thinks she is the smartest kid in class.

The speech is a carefully constructed demonstration of his power.

Hey, I know rhetorical analysis is pretty geeky stuff. So what. We're being taught by a master orator that words MEAN things. After 8 years of Mr. Bush, I'm positively giddy.

(The entire transcript of The 2.19.08 speech by Senator Obama can be found at The Turner Report

Monday, February 18, 2008

How Hillary Plays the Game

In the past two weeks the Clinton Campaign was in free fall and her message was stuffed. The headlines were "Obama Wins Again - Clinton Still Running!"

In the past 48 hours the Clinton Campaign has launched a series of statements designed to get her back on offense and force Obama to concede that this is still a two person race for the nomination. The Wall Street Journal gleefully wondered aloud if Obama had crested.

There's a method in all of this madness and I'd like to posit some guesses about the Clinton strategy in the media. It boils down to the fact that Hillary Clinton knows how to play Media Politics and she's decided to shoot down the high flying Obama if she can. In a page or two from Karl Rove she created a series of "incidents".

What's Obama's strength? His soaring rhetoric. So call him a thief and infer that the strength of his voice is not really his own. Imply that he is weak.

What's his stand on Campaign Finance? Say he flipped on a pledge to restrict his
campaign finance to public funding. Imply he has no character.

What's his position on debating? Accuse him of denying the voters of Wisconsin a debate on the issues. Imply that he is afraid of her.

None of these points are very strong nor do they hold up to scrutiny and none are playing particularly well on their merits individually. But that is the key. The Clinton Campaign is working furiously to build a list against Obama, point by point. If they can fire off enough smoke bombs they may be able to use the cover to sow doubt. They are trying to give their candidate a chance to get back into the national conversation - even at the expense of the truth. She knows she will be quoted for saying he's a fraud and she knows that each quote demands a response which pulls him off of a very powerful message.

Each new burst requires him to defend himself and the national media only covers one headline at a time. So it's a strategy she hopes will shut him up and give her room to run.

I suspect Hillary supporters are gleeful. Conservative pundits are saying, "We told you that this is who the Clintons are!" And the Obama camp is on it's heels.

To her great credit Hillary has tried to run an issues campaign but it sputtered in the face of Hope and Change. So now the gloves are coming off and we'll wait and see what the voters think of the new/old Hillary.

It's insightful to observe that she has said she is tested and ready to deal with the attacks she knows will come from the right wing. And this may be her way of demonstrating how she plans to win - by shredding whoever stands in her way. I can only guess what the backroom brawl with the DNC looks like. There will be blood.

To smear and distort your way to victory without owning it is to be deceptive and deceitful. But in her experience this is how the game is played. If you don't like it stay home in November.

In the next 24 hours Obama will respond. But how? He can't quote the far right. And he can't remain aloof. How will he form the response that disarms her and keeps his campaign out of the mud fight she wants?

If Obama takes the bait, it could be a tremendous help to John McCain.

If he doesn't he may fail his first big test of national leadership.

**(Update 2.19.08)

Obama's response: Big win in Wisconsin!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

June 6th, 1968

I was almost nine years old on June 6th, 1968.

Bobby Kennedy was congratulating supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, about 90 miles from my home.

We were watching a live report from KNXT Channel 2 when I saw it.
It still shocks me.

I was just a few months older than John F. Kennedy Jr. when his father was killed and I remember tones of grey as the nation laid him to rest at Arlington.

Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on April 4th, 1968.

A few months later I saw Bobby Kennedy die.

The Space Program couldn't save them. The Beatles couldn't save them.

Eventually John Lennon himself was murdered.

When I see Barack Obama speak it hits me in the gut and brings the water to my eyes and makes me whisper, "Please God, don't take him from us."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Edwards Isn't Out Yet

John Edwards is quiet. Too quiet.

He's out of the race and he's not exactly loaded with influence. So why didn't he throw his support to Obama or Clinton before or at least just after Super Tues?
In a year when Edwards' 26 delegates and voter support could make or break a close race, it's interesting that he's held his fire this long. Maybe he thinks he could be the kingmaker.

Meanwhile, we're seeing the two faces of a schizophrenic Democratic party. The Senator from New York is having trouble figuring out how to reach voters with her obvious quality. Her message of "I'm Ready" isn't connecting. Is she experienced? Yes, but so are we - we've already experienced Hillary and that experience cuts both ways. Is she informed? Yes, but anyone who tells you over and over that they KNOW they are the smartest person in the room becomes annoying at best and pathetic at worst. You can't win by telling the electorate that you are smarter than they are.
Finally, Hillary is the DLC candidate, which puts her in direct conflict with party chairman Howard Dean. The DLC plays the big state strategy and tried to stop Howard Dean from assuming party leadership. There is no love lost here.

On the other hand, the Senator from Illinois is schooling both the DLC and the electorate. Obama is the "we" candidate. Hillary is the "I" candidate. Guess which one is inspiring the voters. When Obama takes the podium, he looks like a home run hitter taking batting practice. One applause line after another goes sailing over the fence. The DLC calculation of being just barely left of right is being seen for exactly what it is - an effort to secure political power at the expense of Liberal principles. In an era of badly eroded social values, Obama appears to be a principled Liberal saying, "Yes We Can!" be Liberals again. He's also embracing the Howard Dean 50 State strategy and it's beginning to pay dividends.

I predict that when the primary fight is over, Obama wins.

But the party rules and procedure fight is just getting started and we'll find out who won control of the party when we find out who gets the nomination.

Meanwhile...John Edwards is quiet. Too quiet.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Not About Race or Gender - It's about the GOP

OK,

This is a blog about media, not politics, but so much about the media and politics are one and the same - especially when voters choose candidates through the media. So I feel I have to say a few things about how the media - and the message of each candidate is playing in public. I'll do that by demonstrating how perceptive American voters are this year.

First, the Republicans. The last three months are too much to cover. However, let's recall last summer when Rudy Giuliani was the front runner. Mr. Giuliani chose a strategy that killed his campaign - i.e. don't campaign. His thought was that this was strictly a numbers game and all he had to do was win delegates in the large early states. He was wrong. The voters punished him for not being in the fight. He was seen as a "coffee cooler" to borrow a Civil War phrase - a man who sits out the battle with his comrades drinking coffee while others are at the front.

Romney was a shill from day one. A man of large personal fortune with no personal conviction that could be seen in his record. He couldn't raise enough money to compete so he spent his own cash for an agenda he may (or may not) beleive in.
It's pretty clear now though, that he has bought something that he hopes will be of great value in party politics...delegates that can be traded for influence, and a wedge he can drive against John McCain.

John McCain. He's such a maverick even he isn't sure where he stands. But actually, he's only a maverick in the terms defined by rigid right wing politics that demands an almost Kremlin like adherence to party discipline. This man had his arms broken and his teeth knocked out by the NVA torturers in Hanoi and voters respect the hell out of his fortitude. He's not likely to be much afraid of the right wing ideologues who are horrified to find they've been voted out of the Reagan life boat even as they declare mutiny against their new captain. In the mainstream, McCain gets points for this.

Huckabee is the Confederate Candidate. Don't underestimate this man who knows how to call up the mysteries of faith and the Old South in the same sentence - the same way Obama sweeps up the spirit of the Old Republic. Huckabee knows how to call up ghosts and they are named Jackson and Lee and Forrest. He is all about Southern pride and this is not a thing to take lightly into any American campaign. He doesn't have to win the majority to be a critical voice among Conservative GOP voters. Expect him to have good southern manners, but don't expect him to go quietly.

Ron Paul. He is the beloved uncle of this campaign and the GOP Ralph Nader if he isn't careful. We all hear his message of simpler times and of his love for Constitution and country. No one has said more on behalf of our early National values in this election. But the Civil War, two World Wars, the Cold War, Viet Nam and 3 wars in the Middle East stand between him and current global realities. I wish we could go back - but I'm not confident he could take us there even if he were elected.

Next time, the Democrats.

And We're Back!

Yes, things have been quiet here on the blog since November as I regrouped around my new purpose in life - running a leaner and meaner Production Room and writing/promoting content for a new internet comedy channel, Dirtbox.TV

Stand by - I'm ready to jump back into the fray and there is a lot to tell.

We have new material coming out in the next few days, a few stories to tell about how all of this happened to two commercial producers in Santa Barbara and while we're at it, a comment or two on how Hillary Clinton is piloting a campaign that is going down in flames. (Note to Hillary: As the "Experience Candidate" you should know that attacking the media never works when the candidate does it. Ask your professional campaign manager - oh that's right, you fired her.)

Anyway, I'm glad to be back.