Archive - Sep 2006
As Democrats drive to extend their power in Congress, holding on to Debbie Stabenow's Senate seat is a must. And the Michigan incumbent is currently ahead in the polls.
But Republican strategists are working hard to upset Stabenow, in part through a low-profile appeal to a group that most politicians rarely think of as a voting bloc - snowmobilers.
And the stealth campaign to woo the thousands of working-class, historically Democratic Michiganders whose cold-weather passion is snowmobiles is just one small example of a technique known as "micro-targeting" that GOP strategists are using across the country as they try to pull off another election day victory against the odds.
By most measures, the November elections offer Democrats their best chance in years. If anti-Republican sentiment turns out to be a tidal wave, strategic and tactical brilliance may not be enough to protect the GOP majorities in Congress.
But if control of Congress comes down to three or four dozen closely contested races, as now seems likely, then micro-targeting and the other technologies that Republicans are using in battleground states could make a difference.
The GOP system - built around a database nicknamed Voter Vault - combines huge amounts of demographic, financial and other personal information on individual voters with the data-mining techniques used by direct-mail advertisers to deliver surgically targeted appeals to voters identified as likely to respond, including many who might be considered part of the Democratic base.
In Michigan, for example, the GOP contacted snowmobilers by mail, telephone or other personal communication suggesting that Democrats' environmental views stood in the way of greater opportunities for snowmobiling.
Though details of the GOP system are secret, snowmobilers and other categories of voters are identified from such diverse sources as credit card transactions, product warranty files, magazine subscription lists, consumer surveys, vehicle registrations and other public records.
From an article of the same title by K. Connie Kang in the LA Times:
Prayer is in.
Surveys show that church attendance may be down, but praying is up. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans pray â€” 82% of adults. Nearly 90% believe in God. Books on prayer regularly make bestseller lists.
And many people are choosing to pray together, whether literally in the same room, such as the worshipers at Oriental Mission Church, or at home through organized prayer efforts.
"We're a people of faith," says Tim Kelly, theologian and psychologist on the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. "Unlike the other Western nations that have turned away from their religious roots as they became more advanced, America has remained well-grounded in faith."...
The advent of the Internet has made group praying more visible and organized, enabling millions to pray about the same issues daily.
The nation's largest prayer group is believed to be the Internet-based Presidential Prayer Team, which claims 3 million participants nationwide. Participants agree to pray daily for the nation, President Bush, his Cabinet, other national leaders, U.S. troops and their families. The nondenominational spiritual movement, based in Phoenix, also got its start after Sept. 11...
Some prayer groups specialize in Hollywood.
One is the Hollywood Prayer Network, which pairs up people outside the entertainment industry with Christians inside Hollywood as one-to-one "prayer partners." The goal: that every Christian in Hollywood will be prayed for by an intercessor somewhere around the world.
The group now has more than 400 one-to-one prayer partnerships in the U.S. and three other countries. Its homepage (hollywoodprayernetwork.org) shows the famous Hollywood sign over the Los Angeles skyline.
Another organization, Redlands-headquartered Mastermedia International Inc., asks participants to pray for celebrities and members of the entertainment industry who don't know they are being prayed for.
From an article of the same title in The Week, September 15, 2006:
...let's not overreact to the threat, said James Fallows in The Atlantic Monthly. Despite ominous talk of mushroom clouds in U.S. cities, it's highly unlikely that terrorists could build or buy a nuke and smuggle it into the country. That leaves terrorists with one means of inflicting major damage on the superpower: Baiting us into foolishly damaging our own interests. The Bush administration has fallen into this trap, by invading Iraq, killing Muslim civilians, and playing into al Qaida's narrative. Portraying the war as an epic clash of civilizations only feeds the terrorists' false grandiosity - and drives Muslim moderates into the extremists' hands. Terrorists may yet again strike on U.S. soil, but the reality is that we've essentially won the war. The sooner we recognize this, the sooner our policies will be motivated by strategic self-interest, instead of by terror.
From an article of the same title by Frances Grandy Taylor (of the Hartford Courant) and reprinted in the LA Times:
There was a time when you had to attend a church to listen to the weekly sermon or become a regular member to hear a choir whose music you really love.
These days, thanks to iPod, you don't have to actually be there.
A website called GodCast 1000 (godcast1000.com) has been launched to help users "put God on your iPod."
It bills itself as the largest free directory of Christian music, sermons, video and Bible study on the Internet. It lists more than 500 digital audio files that can be downloaded from the website to a computer or iPod...
The Rev. Shaun Olsen of the Family Worship Center in McKinney, Texas, an Assemblies of God church in suburban Dallas, says he turned to "godcasting" for the first time last year to reach members of his congregation who travel.
The church's podcast includes the entire Sunday service.
"We also have hundreds of missionaries attached to this church who are serving around the world in India, Pakistan and South Africa, and that enables them to listen to the service back home. We've gotten a great response, especially from the business community."
Churches are also using podcasts to reach regular worshippers in new ways, says Raney, who adds that churches that aren't technologically savvy can get help through the website's Sermoncast program, where sermon tapes and CDs can be converted for a fee to a format that can be downloaded.
Elliot's principal is moving to China with her husband, so that had a special "going-away" assembly on Friday. A couple of kids from each class were selected to say a few words about Mrs. Lipsitt. Elliot was one of the kids chosen. He was definitely a bit nervous, but Lisa whispered a promised reward of ice cream in his ear...and he made it through it. Here's some video: