Bad Cropping Award Goes To…

Hillaryclinton-people-cover-1040605-new.blocks_desktop_mediumA mini-firestorm erupted earlier this week when right-wing fringe blogger Matt Drudge caught a glimpse of a People magazine cover while waiting in line at his local supermarket and decided to tell the world that Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, might be using a walker.

Yes, people who read People and those who just glance at thousands of images per day while browsing screens on multiple devices (i.e., the majority of Americans) were temporarily titillated by this image shown here of the 66-year-old Clinton grasping a… patio chair!

Unfortunate cropping of the photo of Clinton standing (um…leaning) poolside gained mini-momentum from the usual right-wing media mouthpieces that, should Clinton run for President in 2016, she would be 69 years old on Election Day. Should she win and serve two terms (the U.S. conservative base is really quite worried about this), she would be 77 years old by the end of 2024. Clinton is reportedly in very good health and embarks on book tour next week to promote her new book, Hard Choices.

Photo courtesy of People magazine.

Monica Lewinsky, First Internet Victim

Monica_lewinskyIt’s a title someone had to claim (we’re only surprised it took this long). But Monica Lewinsky (“that woman” who nearly derailed Bill Clinton and spawned 10 million bad blow job jokes) has roared back into the news this week some 15 years since we last saw/heard her name every day. In preparation for a tell-all piece that will appear in Vanity Fair, press releases are clue-ing us in to the fact that Lewinsky was given a bum steer last time her 15 minutes of fame came around and she’s back to reclaim it in the guise of claiming to be the Internet’s “first victim.”

According to Mashable, one only need to scroll down this roll call of celebs and pseudo-celebs who have been ridiculed online to see that she has a point. Before “James Franco, Paula Dean, Anthony Weiner, Amanda Bynes, Shia LaBeouf, Rebecca Black, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, Courtney Love, [and] Rob Ford” there was Monica Lewinsky. She should be thankful her heyday was totally Web 1.0 and limited mostly to sketchy blogs, early day online gossip sites and snarky comments and conspiracy theories on listservs. Those that have come since, especially in the social media era, have had much more extreme public floggings, albeit for shorter durations, since someone else is usually quick to make a fool of themselves and the never-ending online babble will shift with the creation of a hashtag.

All jokes aside, Lewinsky writes that “We have created a culture of humiliation that not only encourages and revels in Schadenfreude but also rewards those who humiliate others, from the ranks of the paparazzi to the gossip bloggers, the late-night comedians, and the Web ‘entrepreneurs’ who profit from clandestine videos.”

She claims she’s come forward now due to some recent cyber-bullying episodes that resulted in suicides of young people. A noble cause.

Conspiracy theorists, of course, believe Hillary henchmen and women have put her up to this, hoping for an early recycle of her story that will be long forgotten in a year or so should Hillary Clinton make that much anticipated run for the White House.

Source: Mashable.

Julia Gillard’s Shoe Blog Retires From the Internet

The end of an era no one outside of a small circle of Australians ever really knew had existed.

In June 2010, the Land Down Under came to be ruled by a woman Prime Minister who held her own against missing shoes, misogyny and wayward Vegemite sandwiches. We here at KazzaDrask Media picked up a story labeled Shoe-Gate in early 2012, and ran a blog called Julia Gillard’s Shoe ever since.

On June 26, 2013, however, Julia Gillard’s run as Australia’s Prime Minister came to an abrupt end when the man she originally ousted in a “night of long knives” coup turned the tables on her in “an “unprecedented day of political bloodletting.” Gillard, who was facing a strong challenge from the right, called the election between herself and Labor Party rival Kevin Rudd and drew a line in the sand. “The loser,” she said, would “retire from parliament.”

In a stinging 57-45 party vote, Gillard was gone. And so goes the blog devoted not only to her fight to recover a lost shoe but her gritty determination to stay in power over the years in a country with a “controversy obsession” and national pastime called “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, in which anyone who achieves success in this country of 23 million must be brought down.

I became intrigued with Australian politics on a month-long trip to Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney in August 2010. I had recently done a fair amount of writing about the change in American politics during the 2008 election and the role social media played. During the 2010 Australian federal election between Gillard and long-time Labor nemesis Tony Abbott, I witnessed all of the same dynamics of the endless American Presidential election cycle being played out in just a few short weeks. In 2013, “The Daily Show” has done an excellent spoof on this phenomenon.

Being married to an Australian, having a number of awesome Aussie mates and working with countless Australians navigating Silicon Valley as part of the ANZA Technology Network, I have been pretty immersed in this country’s culture for more than 10 years. My love, fascination and frustration with this place is second only to my love, fascination and frustration with my own country.

But Julia Gillard has better taste in shoes than Barack Obama.

Inspired by the former PM’s commitment to retire from parliament if she lost her last election, KazzaDrask Media will retire the Julia Gillard’s Shoe blog from the Internet.

Thanks to my wife for reading every post, and @redfoxash and @Elliottstephen — my two reliable sources Down Under for the breaking news tweets that often came in the middle of the night. Grrrrrrrr. Also thanks to Holly for the occasional video and other various links, and even some original newspaper clippings!

To read a little bit more about the impact Australia’s first woman Prime Minister had on the world vs. the view of her at home, read this CNN post: “Julia Gillard: Admired Abroad, Vilified at Home”.

Speeding Up the Election Cycle, Australian Version

Everyone knows the American presidential election cycle is way too long. From the moment Barack Obama was re-elected to his second term in November 2012, U.S. speculation turned to who will head to the Oval Office in 2016.

Down Under, as I’ve reported in the past, does things a little differently. The party in power “calls” an election, in a reasonable time frame, lest they attract too much attention to what they’re doing wrong from the other major party. (Like the U.S., Australia has two main political parties – Labor and Liberal – with third parties getting a bit more attention there than in the States).

The time from which the election is called for, and then occurs, though, is where the real difference can be found. A five-week campaign cycle!? Yes, it’s true.

And as John Oliver from “The Daily Show” explains, just as much muck can be dug up and mined for laughs in five weeks as in three-and-three-quarter years.

Watch video here:

Will Social Media Win the Australian Federal Election?

 

Social media surely wins elections in the US. Barack Obama is two for two on the back of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (well, Instagram was a new addition to the Obama campaign’s 2012 arsenal).

But can it do the same in a country of 22 million, where voting is compulsory?

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (think Obama) is campaigning to hold onto her seat against the leader of the opposition Tony Abbott (think George W. Bush). But the similarities don’t end there. Many Australians do not like Gillard, for reasons they find hard to articulate, fairly similar to the Obama haters. Deep-seated prejudice is most likely at the core of both groups (anti-women, anti-black), but in the 21st century it is terribly uncool to be either of those things.

Enter social media to help us sort it out. While Americans got reality broken down for us with a series of memes that showed Obama as a forward-thinking progressive (he supports public television, women’s rights and understands you’ll never achieve world peace with militia riding roughshod on horseback), Australians are a bit more of a direct lot.

Witness the tweet making the rounds that spells it out for Aussie voters, who by the way, if they don’t like what’s on their plate can vote for third-party candidates or simply mark their ballots with an “X”. As long as you show up and be counted.

The election is five months away. Which gives this campaign a distinctly American feel as far as endurance goes. Australians are used to much shorter election cycles and will have to eat their spinach to keep up with this one.

For a more thoughtful look at the campaign (so far) and the accomplishments of Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, read “A Fair Go for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.” For something on the lighter side, visit the Tumblr blog “Julia Gillard’s Shoe.”

How Social Media Won Barack Obama the Presidency (Again)

Just for a moment, cut the “Four more years” chants and think back to four years ago. Barack Obama and his team have used social media from its early days – this savvy has gotten a lot of coverage on my blog (and about a million others).

Tuesday night, November 6, 2012 it came home to roost.

The President was reelected with an ample majority after a bitter fight. And the deciding factor? Social media. The demographics that trended heavily for Obama (millennials and women, in particular) use a lot of social media. Factor in as well demographics like LGBTs and Latinos, well-organized voting blocs that do a lot of grassroots activism for equality and immigration rights and therefore rely heavily on social media to raise awareness and reach supporters. Bingo! That’s why you can say it, “Four more years!”

The Obama campaign broke all Twitter records on election night. A simple tweet by the President himself (or one of his social media pros) that simply said “Four more years” with the accompanying photo of the President hugging wife Michelle, now has the distinction of being the most re-tweeted tweet of all time. More than 500,000 Twitter users shared this across the Twitterverse as of this posting.   

Photo courtesy of @BarackObama (as posted on Twitter).

Meme Madness: Three Pictures Sum Up Presidential Debates

It is probably safe to go out on a limb and predict one winner in 2012. The meme.

These ubiquitous (and usually silly) images with a handful of words (140 characters is typically too much) have been around for a while. But they have really come into their own this year, and particularly this election season.

They’re in keeping with our “information overload society”- I’m using that term today instead of “short attention span” – because three 90-minute presidential debates in less than three weeks constitutes a viewing marathon, and those are better left to cable TV and on-demand streams of something really entertaining (like anything with the word “Jersey” in it).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines meme as:

“an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

But to the 1 billion people on Facebook, where memes probably take up more space in your newsfeed than anything that passes for “news”, let alone a juicy status update, a meme falls more in line with this definition from the Urban Dictionary:

“an internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information.”

I’ll go out on my second limb in one blog post to say that the meme shown in this post that sums up the three presidential debates in three pictures is better than random and far from contentless. Back in the day (2008), part of the sport of watching presidential debates was waiting for the zinger – the line that one candidate or another ultimately delivered that won him the night – and potentially the election.

While both the Obama and Romney campaigns have spun the debate scores to their advantage, this meme sums up each of the 90-minutes in one image. Score two zingers for Obama (Big Bird and bayonets) and one major flub for Romney (“binders full of women”).

What more do you need to make up your mind and cast your vote on November 6?

Meme credit: DemocraticUnderground.com

Binders: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, Oct. 15-19

 

Binders.

Those back-in-the-day ubiquitous office supply designed to collect and make sense of reams of hard copy data.

That’s what we’re talking about on a week in October 2012.

That, and essentially what a man running for president in the second decade of the 21st century thinks about women in the workforce. After a 40-year career in business and politics, if you don’t personally have any women in your network fit for a job you ask for (and apparently receive) “binders full of women” you can flip through to find the token one or two to hire.

In response to a question on gender pay inequality in Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that when he was assembling his cabinet after being elected governor in Massachusetts, he questioned his staff for sending him only male applicants and was told those were all who were qualified.

To which Romney said live, on national TV, “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”

And of course, here in the second decade of the 21st century, the Internet, starting with Twitter, exploded. The hashtag #binders was born, followed by a meme frenzy launched on Facebook that, three days later, is still going strong.

Mitt Romney’s backdated office supply of choice (we’re sure President Obama at least uses Excel spreadsheets) aligns pretty closely with his views on women. We still don’t (and never will) measure up to the boys in the workforce.

Ladies (and those who love us), we think you know what to do on election day. But, if you’re still undecided, this very clever hack job on Amazon.com may be of assistance. Tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the binder product review section of our number one online shopping site. A sample:

Wow, this binder has really changed my life. Before I was always trying to fit into the corporate world. I wanted things like equal pay, safety from sexual harassment and the right to have health care coverage for birth control. But after purchasing this binder I feel totally put in my place. 

*** 

As a woman, I’m not adept at making decisions that concern me. So when I need the right choice, I turn to the presidential candidate that KNOWS. One with prideful experience in this department. I don’t want to be filed away in an inferior & confusing electronic doohickey that I couldn’t possibly understand. Or heaven forbid, have a man ask for & listen to my ideas! I’d much rather rely on this top of the line, 1980s style, Avery Durable binder.

***

Maybe it’s just my women, but they don’t seem to want to fit into the space I’ve designated for them in this binder. They keep sticking out over the edges, even getting away in some cases. I thought using clear, glass-ceiling page protectors would help, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down anymore.

Sources: Amazon.com and CNN Politics: Political Tracker “Internet Goes Wild Over ‘Binders Fulls of Women’.”

Photo courtesy of The Dailly Beast.

History Repeating? Twitter and the Cuban Missile Crisis

A long, long time ago (50 years to be exact) the United States was embroiled in a major international crisis. And, we didn’t have Twitter to keep us apprised of the breaking developments that were leading the U.S. and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Cold War story that was a turning point in the presidency of John F. Kennedy and probably would have been his ticket to a second term in 1964, if only….

The Twitter account @JFK1962 (formerly @JFK1961 and soon to be @JFK1963), a project of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, has been re-creating the Kennedy Presidency via social media. The Kennedy White House was as media savvy for its time as the Obama White House, using television to make Kennedy seem as accessible and friendly as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest are used to portray Barack Obama as in touch with the present and future-ready. Key similarity: both presidents happily embraced using their latest communication tools.

The 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 16-28) are currently being tweeted using transcripts from the Kennedy Presidency and other historical documents archived at the Kennedy Library. Sample tweet:

“We’ve got a blockade with/without a declaration of war..We’ve got invasion. We’ve got notification of Khrushchev.”#13days

For a completely back to the future experience, and short attention span history lesson, follow along at @JFK1962.

Australian PM Julia Gillard Shines a Light on Sexism, Misogyny and Hypocrisy

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said what was on her mind the other day. And wow, did she make it clear how tired she is of the sexism and misogyny she encounters on a daily basis from the leader of the opposition party Tony Abbott.

In a blistering, now viral, 15-minute video attack, Gillard called out Abbott on years of anti-women comments and actions, including standing with protestors carrying signs calling her a “man’s bitch”.

The smackdown came about when Abbott demanded Gillard seek the resignation of her Speaker of the House for allegedly sending crude text messages to a staffer referring to female genitalia as a popular shellfish best served with frites and a cold glass of white wine. No problem, consider it done (the Speaker has since resigned). But what Gillard objected to was Abbott, who has a career rap sheet full of sexist and misogynistic comments of his own, lecturing her on aiding and abetting sexism and misogyny. The hypocrisy meter just imploded.

Said Gillard, “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,”

She then, according to Jezebel.com, proceeded to rip Abbott a “new one” – for 15 minutes! A painfully long time….

A few zingers include:

“If he [Abbott] wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia he doesn’t need a motion in the house of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”

and

“The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynist are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation.”

The most damning accusations meanwhile, were backed up with facts.

Comparisons are already being drawn between Gillard and President Barack Obama, who has taken the same level of daily abuse over his skin color, although Americans surprisingly are too polite to say what we really mean.

A loud minority (i.e., the Tea Party) has spent the past four years carrying signs calling Obama a “Muslim” and/or claiming he was born in Kenya, when what’s really on their mind is that they don’t like living in a country where a black man is in charge. Whereas Australia has been grappling with sexism and misogyny for centuries – long before they elected their first female Prime Minister in Gillard, America continues to grapple with racism too long after Barack Obama has been our president.

Kudos to Australia (or at least half of it) for standing up and confronting their issue head on. Now it’s time for us to do the same.

Sources: The Telegraph, Jezebel..com and Julia Gillard’s Shoe.