Friday, January 23, 2009

Where's The Beef?

Clinton's 'Smart Power' Slogan Is Just Plain Dumb, Branding Experts Say
Marketing professionals say Hillary Clinton's catchphrase to sum up her foreign policy is unclear and ripe for misinterpretation

"Smart Power" -- Hillary Clinton's description of her approach to diplomacy -- is just plain dumb, marketing professionals say.

The catchphrase is unclear and ripe for misinterpretation, a group of experts told

Clinton, who was sworn in as secretary of state on Wednesday, defined "smart power" at her Senate confirmation hearing as using the full range of tools available to the United States, including diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural tools.

"With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy," she said.

But the marketing pros know a bad slogan when they hear one.

"Essentially, 'smart power' is just more evidence of how bad the communication coaching Hillary Clinton gets and probably cost her the (presidential) campaign," said Rob Frankel, a branding expert and author of "The Revenge of Brand X."

Frankel praised the concept but slammed the execution.

"The execution is where Hillary traditionally falls on her face," he said. "And whoever is advising her should be soundly whipped."

Alan Siegel, founder and head of Siegel + Gale, a brand consultancy, described "Smart Power" as an "unfortunate choice of words."

"I don't think it's good to say you're smart," he said. "I think it's smarmy."

He said Clinton should have used words like "intelligent" or "sensitive" instead.

"I think that Hillary Clinton is a really smart, articulate woman and I think she's going to be a good secretary of state," Siegel said. "But I don't think what we need now is more slogans. ...To say 'smart power' is ridiculous."

But Joseph Nye, the Harvard professor who coined the phrase, batted away the criticism.

"To talk about international affairs and not talk about power is like to going to Shakespeare to see Hamlet and not have the prince of Denmark present," said Nye, who authored "Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics."

Others defended the phrase too.

"I think it captures the integration of hard power and soft power," said John A. Quelch, a Harvard professor who studies global marketing and branding in emerging and developed markets. "I think the notion here it's not a either-or, but one plus one can equal three."

Branding experts are divided on whether U.S. foreign policy even needs a catchphrase. Nye said it does, and he cited the Bush Doctrine as evidence. Clinton, he said, has found the right phrase to sum up her approach.

"It's marketable," he said, "because it reminds people that America has soft power."

But Siegel said people are tired of branding.

"I help companies establish a voice," he said. "I think most people can't even identify these slogans or elevator lines with the companies."

Frankel said most people will think the phrase is referring to energy efficiencies.

But Carola McGiffert, co-director of the Smart Power Commission, launched in 2006 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies to examine how to restore America's image around the world, said the clarity of the phrase polled well.

"We've only heard positive things about it," she said.

Frankel pointed to Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal as examples of successful political catchphrases that have survived the test of time.

But "smart power," he said, has the life expectancy of Gerald Ford's WIN buttons, considered one of the biggest government public relations blunders ever. Ford attempted to "Whip Inflation Now" by having millions of red-and-white buttons printed up with the "WIN" slogan on them.

Asked to offer his idea of a stronger U.S. foreign policy catchphrase, Frankel declined. He said if Clinton calls him, "I will give her a really sweet rate."

Click here to read rest of entry >>

The 'Post-Partisan' Leader Sets The Tone for His Administration...

Obama to G.O.P. Leaders Seeking to Negotiate on Stimulus This Morning:
"I won."

Jonathan Martin and Carol E. Lee at The Politico have the story here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

See, the skilled white guys build things SO DAMNED TALL!

Reich says stimulus funds for construction must be routed to "the long term unemployed, minorities, women."
(So THIS is what spreading the wealth around looks like?)

Obama economic adviser Robert Reich lobbied for President Obama's use of much of the proposed economic stimulus package for "infrastructure" projects - new roads, buildings, and bridges -- but in order to insure there is a "social return," Reich warned that the funds must be kept away from "white male contractors" or those who are "highly skilled."

Reich, who served as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, is a member of the new President's economic transition advisory board.

Totally unrelated but titillating nevertheless, the 4' 10" Mr. Reich, who is a Rhodes scholar and Yale Law School Grad, has acknowledged that he dated Hillary Rodham when they were both in college, for what it's worth (No photos of the event are available).

Michelle Malkin has more on Mr. Reich's remarks on the stimulus here. Reich's remarks are also detailed by World Net Daily here.

Click here to read rest of entry >>

More Change We Can Believe In!

In One of His Official Acts, President Obama to Allow US Taxpayer Foreign Aid to Pay for Overseas Abortions

To show "sensitivity" to opponents of abortion rights and Roe v. Wade, he waits one day after the 36th anniversary of the decision.

Laura Meckler at the Wall Street Journal has the story here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caroline Kennedy/Tim Geithner As 2012 Libertarian Party Ticket????

Cheating on Housekeeper Taxes Said to Derail Kennedy’s Bid

Danny Hakim and Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times report today that "problems involving taxes and a household employee" surfaced during the vetting of Caroline Kennedy and derailed her candidacy for the Senate -- contary to Sweet Caroline's originally announced reasons for withdrawal.

Read more here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

President Blackberry

The Guardian reports Obama will get a spy-proof Blackberry.

More from the Guardian: "Traditionally, US presidents have shied away from using hi-tech communications such as email and mobile phones for a variety of reasons – including possible interception from foreign powers.

"But the main concerns are often more about political responsibility than personal safety, as a result of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires that documents retained by the White House must be released to the public."
Click here to read rest of entry >>

Spacely Space Sprockets

On Jan. 26, 2009, Brookings is hosting an event, Wired for War, exploring ways robots and robotics are changing warfare. Brookings Senior Fellow Peter Singer will lead the program, which features Gen. James Mattis, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.

Related: Read Singer's NYT piece on the implications of privatizing military functions.
Click here to read rest of entry >>

For Those of You Scoring At Home ...

Slate's Chris Wilson introduces The Change-o-Meter, "a daily measure of how the Obama administration is changing Washington."

The running tally from Wilson: "Add it all up, and we arrive at 40 percent on the Change-o-Meter. For Day 1, it's a respectable performance."
Click here to read rest of entry >>

Change Terrorists Can Believe In

Obama to Close Guantanamo and Foreign Prisons, Limit CIA Methods
Obama is expected to sign "several" executive orders Thursday, directing the CIA to close secret foreign prisons and Guantanamo Bay, and limiting detention and interrogation methods.

President Obama is expected to sign "several" executive orders on Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to close its network of "black sites," or secret foreign prisons, and order the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within a year.

The executive orders, aimed at rolling back much of former President Bush's architecture for the war on terror, involve "altering CIA detention and interrogation rules, limiting interrogation standards in all U.S. facilities worldwide to those outlined in the Army Field Manual, and prohibiting the agency from secretly holding terrorist detainees in third-country prisons," the Washington Post said citing sources familiar with the briefings.

The New York Times said the "orders would bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years," and "also prohibit the CIA from using coercive interrogation methods."

A revised version of the Army Field Manual was released in 2006, explicitly banning enhanced interrogation techniques such as beating, using dogs to intimidate, electric shocks and waterboarding, which critics say is tantamount to torture.

On Wednesday, White House counsel Greg Craig met with top Republicans to review the president's plan and "told members of Congress to expect 'several' executive orders on Guantanamo Bay."

Obama's plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba could face resistance among some Republicans and the families of terror victims, and questions already are being raised about what would happen to the 245 remaining detainees at the facility.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, told FOX News that he worries that if the prisoners are transferred to U.S. soil then constitutional standards would apply to them, and that raises the potential of a "friendly judge" releasing them.

Smith also voiced concern about detainees being transferred to other countries, saying it was "almost inevitable" that the Obama administration will relax some of the standards for confining and prosecuting the detainees.

Drafts of the orders obtained Wednesday state that closing the facility "would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice."

With the executive orders, Obama will call for a panel to conduct a systematic review of each of the 245 remaining detainees' cases to determine which ones can be released and which should be prosecuted or remain confined. In the meantime, trials before the existing military commissions would be put on hold.

"It is in the interests of the United States to review whether and how such individuals can and should be prosecuted," the drafts say.

A judge has already granted Obama's request to suspend the war crimes trial of a young Canadian for 120 days. Army Col. Stephen Henley issued the ruling Wednesday after a brief hearing at the Guantanamo base.

That decision promoted outrage among the families of people killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, because some of the detainees at Guantanamo are suspects in the attacks.

"I see no reason why we should delay these proceedings. Let justice be served," said Jefferson Crowther, whose 24-year-old son, Welles, was killed in the Twin Towers after he saved the lives of several others.

Some of the defendants say they oppose the delay because they want to plead guilty to charges that carry a potential death sentence. Execution would enable them to become martyrs.

Under a scenario foreshadowed in the draft orders, some detainees being held at Guantanamo would be released, while others would be transferred elsewhere and later put on trial under terms to be determined. Closing Guantanamo could potentially mean moving the remaining detainees to federal prisons in the U.S., such as the Leavenworth prison in Kansas.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, vehemently opposes that idea. He introduced legislation almost immediately after the draft regulation was announced requiring Obama to provide Congress 90 days' notice as well as a study that answers specific questions relating to security, logistics and alternatives before taking any action to close the Guantanamo prison or move the detainees.

"We cannot afford to make snap decisions about detainee policy, and the American people should be able to judge any policy changes for themselves," Brownback said. "This legislation would require an open and comprehensive review of the factors related to moving the Guantanamo detainees."

Wednesday's drafts may be as much an indictment of the Supreme Court's direction on how to prosecute detainees than on anything else.

The Supreme Court's decisions over the past few years -- most recently its June ruling on Lakhdar Boumediene, a naturalized U.S. citizen held at the prison who successfully claimed habeus corpus rights -- have produced legal contradictions in allowing detainees access to U.S. courts.

The facility at Guantanamo Bay has long been the target of Bush administration critics at home and some governments overseas. The Bush administration established the prison early in battling terrorism, contending that the people held there were not entitled to the customary rights of prisoners in the United States, or to the protections of the Geneva Conventions that cover war prisoners.

The draft orders note that some of the detainees at the site have there for more than six years, and most for at least four years.

At the Pentagon, military leaders were preparing for the orders that spokesman Bryan Whitman said would begin a "comprehensive review of policies and procedures related to detainee activities."

"The president has clearly made his intentions well known," Whitman said. "And he has taken the first steps with respect to his direction to order a pause to military commission proceedings."

David Rivkin, a constitutional attorney, said he hoped the 120-day review to be undertaken by the Pentagon would lead to "responsible" results.

"You can, but that does not resolve the situation. You either have to detain them under the military justice/laws of war paradigm, you need to decide how you're going to prosecute the rest," he said.

Rivkin said that such a decision isn't just about moving the 245 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, which initially housed more than 800.

"This is about hundreds and thousands of people the United States is likely to capture in future wars .. ongoing wars frankly against Al Qaeda and Taliban. You cannot fight a war without retaining this vital legal architecture," Rivkin said.

He said he's less concerned about whether it's military commissions or tribunals or giving more due process to the detainees.

"They have to keep this architecture, they can not just keep or resort to a criminal justice model," he said.

FOX News' Lee Ross and Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Click here to read rest of entry >>

Gov. Paterson: "What the hell do you mean, she doesn't look like her mom?"...

Caroline Kennedy withdraws Senate bid

Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, on Thursday reportedly withdrew her bid to fill the U.S. Senate seat for New York vacated by Hillary Clinton. Kennedy cited "personal reasons" in a brief statement.

The "personal reasons" may just be that N.Y. Gov. Paterson wasn't going to appoint her anyway...


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Here's a Way to Stimulate the Bitter Redneck Economy of Pennsylvania...

Murtha Says He'd Take Gitmo Prisoners in His District

Chad Pergram of reports that blow-hard Jack Murtha, D-Pa., has announced that he'd be willing to house prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in his congressional district if President Obama makes good on a plan to close the U.S. prison there.

As one of his first acts in office, the president circulated a draft Wednesday that would shut down Guantanamo Bay within a year. The problem: no one with any sense really wants the suspected terrorists in their hometown.

According to FoxNews, Murtha only has a minimum security prison in his district. But he says he'd have no reservations about holding detainees there in a maximum security prison.

"Sure, I'd take 'em," said Murtha, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war. "They're no more dangerous in my district than in Guantanamo."

Murtha added that there was "no reason not to put 'em in prisons in the United States and handle them the way they would handle any other prisoners."

Read more here.

Click here to read rest of entry >>

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So much for a literal interpretation of the Constitution...

Chief Justice Botches Oath

Joan Biskupic of USA Today reports on how the Chief Justice -- whose confirmation Obama voted against in part because of Roberts' "strict constructionist" views -- mangled the simple oath of office he was charged with administering to the new Chief Executive.

Article I, Section 2, Clause 8 of the Constitution sets forth the straightforward 35-word oath. Roberts, however, unlike his predecessor Rehnquist, chose to go from memory rather than have an index card with the words printed to use as a backup.

Perhaps this will give the President a "way out" if things don't go so well the next four years...

Read the full story here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Will History Maintain His Yale GPA?

"Another C! 'Cee' ya later...
heh heh [shrug]"

The conservative Board of Editors of the Wall Street Journal issues its pronouncement on Former President Dubya: "We would place him in the middle ranks of American presidents."

Want to know why? Read more here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Barack Obama Takes Office

Nation's New Chief Executive Joins List of Pioneering African-Americans.

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out: Bush Belongings Already on the Truck Before This Morning.

Will Jackson & Sharpton finally shut up?



Click here to read rest of entry >>

"Well, I WAS looking for an excuse not to have to stand and applaud the bastard..."

Cheney in Wheelchair After Pulling Back Muscle

The AP reports that Vice President Dick Cheney pulled a muscle in his back while moving boxes into his new home in McLean, Virginia and will be in a wheelchair for today's inauguration ceremony.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Because it's the kind of people we are...

Blogosphere Starts New Era With Poll on Hottest Members of the New Administration took the lead on the first day of the Obama administration in setting a high tone: "[Former Vanity Fair editor] Tina Brown writes that the incoming Obama administration promises a restoration of intellectualism to the center of American life. In honor of her thesis, we present the official Obama Hotties poll."

Participate here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Monday, January 19, 2009

So one of Bush's last acts is to have a black woman cook him a meal?

'I'VE GOT A HANKERIN' FOR SOME RICE, LAURA: Bushes Head To Condi's Watergate Apartment for His Last Dinner Out in DC

Sherly Gay Stolberg of the NYT's thecaucus blog reports that on the next to last night of his presidency, President Bush made a rare foray out for dinner Sunday — not to a restaurant, but to the Watergate apartment of the woman he recently described as “like my sister,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Surely the SNL writers are using the occasion for their lead-in skit? Read more about chow time with Dr. Rice here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Finally, an argument for tax cuts that Pelosi might buy...

Scientists: Wealthy men give women more orgasms

According to Jonathan Leake at the Times of London, scientists have found that the pleasure women get from making love is directly linked to the size of their partner’s bank balance.

They found that the wealthier a man is, the more frequently his partner has orgasms.

In light of this finding, the Board of Editors of The Rapier has unanimously issued a call for Congress and the new President to re-think what is required for the nation's stimulus package.

Read more of this important scientific discovery here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Sunday, January 18, 2009

So much for those 2009 Sarah Palin calendars at Border's...

Obama AG Nom Eric Holder Approves of Bookstore and Library Searches.

Last Thursday, Barack Obama's nominee for Attorney General, Eric Holder, admitted during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing that he supported renewing the part of the Patriot Act that allows for the FBI to seek records from businesses, libraries and bookstores. The Rapier will await the outrage, since same was shown toward the Bush administration, and we know Bush critics are never hypocritical...

NewsBusters' Warner Todd Huston has the full story on Holder's testimony here.


Click here to read rest of entry >>

Visitors to The Rapier:

track web page traffic
Best Buy Coupon HERE