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This is the fourth diary in a series that comprises the Obama Viral Email Project. Prior diaries may be found here:
Obama Viral Email Project - Draft 1
Obama Viral Email Project - Draft 2
Obama Viral Email Project - Draft 3

This project grew out of a desire to do something positive for the Obama campaign, utilizing the Net roots and viral Internet marketing concepts.

Please Rec this diary so more people can see it!

To review:

The Concept

We, as a community, will compose a counter to the anti-Obama viral emails. It will contain the truth, and when we are done, we will each email it to everyone possible in our address book. We will spread it to other boards, our own personal blogs, social networking sites, and in general make this email ubiquitous throughout the net. It will also contain a plea to the sender to pass on the email, hopefully making this positive Obama virus dwarf the poorly done negative attempts that are out there.

I envision the initial authoring phase of this project to take about a week, with several draft revisions. So on or about next Friday, March 14, I hope we will have an email ready to blast. It will be important to keep the project visible, so please, if you believe the OVEP to be a worthy undertaking, recommend this diary and the others that will follow with each draft, so that we can get as much input as possible.

DO NOT WORRY ABOUT DISTRIBUTION ISSUES AT THIS PHASE OF THE PROJECT! We are only concerned with content at this point. After we compose the email,we will discuss distribution.

The Rules

More like suggestions really, and there aren't many.

  1. I volunteered to use my daily diary allotment for this project and to head it up. I envision that invariably we will have differences of opinion about what should be included in the email, how it should be worded, etc. Thus we need an executive editor for the project, who will make the final decision in cases of disagreement. This morning I held a caucus in my kitchen (because it was cheaper than a primary) and elected myself editor.
  1. The email needs to be positive and it won't do to draw attention to lies that the reader may never have heard before (thus accomplishing the goals of the anti-Obama email for them). So for example, instead of saying "Barack Obama is NOT a Muslim!", in which case the reader may say "Huh! Was there a question about him being a Muslim?", the better approach is probably, "Barack Obama is a devout Christian, who has been a member of the same Christian church for about 20 years."
  1. In case it's not obvious, the idea is for the community to contribute ideas for the letter in the form of comments, and then I'll incorporate these into the next draft diary.
  1. This really is an attempt to do something positive, so if you want to start a candidate war or some such, please go elsewhere.
  1. Please provide links to backup your points. It is not only important that these be verifiable truths, but that the end reader have a quick way to check them out.
  1. We may include a few pictures (small, screen resolution), but keep in mind that the end email should not be more than a few pages long and shouldn't tie up limited dialup bandwidth for those users (thus ticking them off). If we find we can't contain the email to a small number of pages, maybe we'll break it up into multiple emails.
  1. Keep it to an eighth grade level. Remember how wide and diverse the audience is.

That's it! At least for now.

Below is the current draft as it stands.

The Current Draft Email

Subject: The Truth About Barack Obama!
As enthusiastic volunteers in the Barack Obama campaign for the Presidency, we have put together a list of facts about Barack so that you will know the truth about him. Please follow the links we have included for documentation of these facts. If you value the truth as we do, please forward this information to everyone you know.

  1. Did you know that Barack Obama is a devout Christian? He has been a member of the same United Church of Christ congregation for 20 years, and was married there to his wife Michelle in 1992.
  2. Did you know that Barack Obama often leads the US Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance?
  3. Did you know that Barack Obama is a strong friend of Israel and has spoken out strongly against anti-Semitism?
  4. Did you know his grandparents from Kansas were part of the "Greatest Generation?. His grandfather served with Patton's Army during World War II, and his grandmother, a real "Rosy the Riveter", worked in a bomber assembly plant back home?
  5. Did you know that Barack Obama was opposed to the war in Iraq from day one, before we invaded, even while he was running for the Senate, and knowing his opposition might be politically unpopular?

    "I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars." --Barack Obama, 2002

  6. Did you know Obama favors transparency over secrecy in our government?  Did you know that Obama worked with Republican Sen. Colburn to pass one of the strongest government transparency bills since the freedom of information act? He's calling it Google for Government and you can see the results at Sen. Obama has also released his own tax returnsfor public review.
  7. Did you know that after graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Barack practiced civil rights law and also taught Constitutional Law for 10 years at the University of Chicago, one of the nation's best law schools, where he was consistantly rated by his students as one of their best instructors? Did you also know that he was the first African-American elected president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review?
  8. Did you know that Barack Obama is an outspoken advocate for women's rights and has been a principled defender of the civil rights of women?
  9. Did you know that despite the grueling schedule of running for President, Senator Obama remains a devoted family man, making time to do things like pick out a Christmas tree with his wife and two young daughters, or hurrying home to spend Valentine's Day with them? Did you know he hasn't missed a single parent-teacher conference while running for President?
  10. Did you know that Barack Obama has a stellar environmental record, including having the highest rating from the League of Conservation Voters (96%) of any Presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican?
  11. Did you know that Barack Obama has been an elected legislator longer than Senator Clinton?
  12. Did you know that Barack is a member of all of these Senate Committees: Foreign Relations; Veteran's Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security and Government Affairs?
  13. Did you know that Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 15 bills that have become law, and has introduced amendments to 50 bills, of which 16 were adopted since he joined the Senate in 2005?
  14. Did you know that Senator Obama sponsored legislation working together with Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, to keep Americans safe by keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorist hands? The two senators also visited the former Soviet Union to inspect the decommissioning of nuclear weapons. Sen. Lugar said of Sen. Obama, "He does have a sense of idealism and principled leadership, a vision of the future."
  15. Did you know that Barack Obama is the only candidate running for president who voted against using cluster bombs in Iraq and the only candidate who supports banning the use of landmines?
  16. Did you know that, as an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama succeeded in passing legislation requiring the videotaping of police interrogations, gaining the respect and support not only of fellow legislators but that of the police, who had initially opposed the legislation?
  17. Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton were all younger when taking office than Barack Obama will be?

During election season many emails are circulated about the candidates. Some are true, some aren't. It's often difficult to determine the truth. We encourage you to visit the following non-partisan sites that do a good job of fact checking the candidates.

Today's Commentary - Formats and Distribution

I can't thank enough all those who provided input on the last draft, even though it was visible for such a short time. Thank you all for finding the typos, correcting the misspelling, teaching me punctuation, etc. I hope that this draft is darned close to being what we'll send. I've ordered the items (open to suggestions), corrected the mistakes you pointed out, and yes, I deleted some items. I'm sure on this last point there will be some disagreement. It was very hard to shorten the list a bit but many people agreed it needed to be done. Some of the items deleted were favorites of mine as well.

Today I'd like to talk about format and distribution (finally!).

First, format. I'd like to have at least two versions of this ready on Friday. The first would be an html version. I'm hoping that this can be massaged to be used in some email clients. I'm having some difficulty in getting my email client to accept the html, but I can certainly edit it so that it will look nice as an email.

The second format would be all text. This would work with all email clients, but would probably have, instead of embedded links, footnote references and all the links listed at the bottom of the page. So it would look something like this:

  1. Did you know that Barack Obama has a stellar environmental record, including having the highest rating from the League of Conservation Voters (96%) of any Presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican? (1)
  1. Did you know that Barack Obama has been an elected legislator longer than Senator Clinton? (2)


Here's where I need some help. I'm having trouble figuring the best way to distribute the email to the initial group of emailers in such a way as to make it easy for them to put it into an email and send it. Any ideas?

In addition, I have a friend with some web space who could host two files that contained the html version and the text versions of the email if that's helpful.

After we get the email issues worked out, it's on to other venues. The more the better. Here are some ideas:

  1. Blogs. I'll be putting the "Facts" on my blog, and making it a permanent page for easy reference. I also have some other friends who will be doing the same. The more people who do this the better.
  1. Sheddhead has created a site called that will be taking the information from this project, as well as other input, and create an easily navigable web site for viewing this information.
  1. I'll be creating a Squidoo Lens out of the content. Others are encouraged to do so also.
  1. I'd like to figure out how to add this to my facebook page, but I'm sure there are some facebook people here who will figure that out before me and I hope you'll share.
  1. Whatever you want! Once we release it, spread it to the four winds. MySpace, YouTube, a podcast, submission to other message boards, letters to the editor. The possibilities are endless.

So take a final look at the copy, help me out with your ideas, send along your distribution suggestions, and then we'll do one more version of this signaling the release!

Originally posted to Travis Stark on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 06:21 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Correction needed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, texasmom

    You have certainly put together a lot of great information with this and I commend the effort to fight the smear efforts out there.

    I did notice one thing that should be corrected though, i.e. it was Tom Coburn not "Colburn."

    It's a man's life in the British Dental Association!

    by Michael James on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 06:28:04 PM PDT

    •  thanks. Will fix. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      texasmom, bobnbob, cfk, roubs
      •  suggestion for intro (0+ / 0-)

        Based on who this email needs to reach, I think there needs to be something at the very beginning using a Scripture quote. I personally am quite secular, but the fact is that about 70% of this country consider themselves Christian--- and the less fundamentalist segment of this large group is the one that could be swayed to change their mind.

        This group is concerned about Obama based on things they are hearing in their church and often from their preacher.  To get them to listen you need to speak their language.

        The scripture used should, I think, focus on the the inappropriateness of spreading gossip about someone without fully exploring the facts, or something along those lines.  A minister could probably help come up with some useful ways to approach this.  

  •  Compliments! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This kind of activism is amazing to me. I just repeat my advice. Add a little humor and interest. That's what makes an email "viral."

  •  Not to be cynical (0+ / 0-)

    But folks won't forward it in its current form.  It won't go viral.  What you need is something "shocking" they didn't know, or something to make them angry.  The most straightforward approach is to convince them they've been had - that prior anti-Obama emails were part of a systematic campaign to manipulate gullible voters.  (This is true, as Clinton's staff has been fired over this, although the scale of such an operation will probably never be known.)

    People don't like being manipulated by politicians for their political gain.

    •  I disagree, but we'll see. (0+ / 0-)

      The key will be when it first comes back to us.

    •  I agree with this... (0+ / 0-)

      I think the email could start with a short, attention-getting warning about how many lies about Barack Obama are being spread.   People don't like being lied to.... and they desperately want to think they are the ones with the real scoop.

      Something like this:

      Heads up!  This campaign season, you may receive one of a number of inflammatory chain emails containing lies about Barack Obama.  As enthusiastic volunteers in the Barack Obama campaign for the Presidency, we are concerned that the true facts get out.

      We've pulled together a list of facts about Barack, so that you will know the truth about him. And don't just trust our word.  Follow the links we have included to confirm all of these facts.  When you're done, please forward this information to your friends and family.

    •  "The truth" implies lies (0+ / 0-)

      I think its more important to keep it positive. Those who enthusiastically support his candidacy will forward this email.

  •  great job! (0+ / 0-)

    some more grammar

    #4, the second sentence should have a period at the end, not a question mark

    #6 is missing a space between "returns" and "for"

    #7 - mixing up "consistent" and "constant".  It should be "consistently" not "consistantly"

  •  Oh, and the transparency bill (0+ / 0-)

    The text is inaccurate: it wasn't, but rather that was created by Obama's legislation.

    Read my sig line (below) for more details.

  •  A great effort! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobnbob, roubs

    And I know just who I'll send this to first.. :) A relative in my address book, who regularly sent me right wing nuttery... she's starting to question things, and seems to be opening up to Obama.

    A couple bits of feedback.. apologies if these should have been raised in an earlier draft.  This is the first I've seen.

    - I'm not keen on every statement of fact starting with "Did you know."  To read the whole document feels like you are under attack.  I wonder if it would be better to break it up.  Group the questions under headings like "Family Life" and "Professional Experiences."   Maybe come up with four headings to group things.  Start the first fact under each heading with "Did you know..." and leave it off the rest.

    - Many people do not know the history of the UCC.  I think it would be worth a few words to say something like "The United Church of Christ, one of the oldest faith communities in the USA, with roots going back to the Pilgrims and Puritans who landed at Plymouth Rock, over 380 years ago."

    Best of luck.. this is a worthy effort.

  •  Thanks so much (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Again, this is a great idea and I think it's getting better and better. Kudos:)

  •  I think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "when taking" should be replaced by "when they took" in #17.

    Other than that, looks great!

    I'm ready to start spreading it as soon as the final draft is up.

  •  btw I was working on the same thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had started a similar project here in western KY with our local Obama group.  If your email ends up looking like it would fit with our population here, it will sure save me some work!

    I was really just getting started and not sure at all about distribution methods.

    I am thinking also about working with the local UCC minister to see if there are some community activities that could be done in approaching this from a faith angle without crossing the line of churches being involved in political activity.  But awareness of religious discrimination issues etc.
    Suggestions welcome.

    •  start by pushing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Voter Registration.  You want every single person in the parish to have a voice.  

      One way we've opened the doors here in Tampa.  Then, bring the supporters from the church into your group.  Allow them to grow a group with their "sunday" friends.

  •  Very timely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and much needed.  Thanks for the contribution!

  •  my .02 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    looks good for a Draft, darlin'

    Can you add something about how Obama feels about gun licensing - a really big issue in PA - and no, I've looked but unable to find the exact quote - hoping someone on here does.

    For final - post it here as well as ORR, and other places.

    with the suggestion - copy and paste into an email to whatever groups in PA, NC, and/or IN you've joined.

    I've joined several groups in central PA and it seems as though most of the supporters are "newbies" - they aren't aware of how to use the listserv and what it can do for them.  How it enables them .... and of course, you can't forward something to the listserve to cutting and pasting is vital.  But these folks - the ones on the ground - they need these facts at their fingertips.

    The folks in these states - they're the ones right now facing the fact vs. fiction matter.   And where to focus on making the email viral.  

    I'm suggesting folks in Florida "adopt" a group in PA, NC or IN - we're experienced in organizing, building supporter/volunteer base, creating events, earning "unearned" media - we've had to be .... no campaign to lead us.

    Mucho kuddos

  •  Harvest email addresses... (0+ / 0-)

    ...from the anti-Obama emails that you get from your wing-nut friends and family.  

    These people don't seem to know about BCC: so the header will list all the other people they sent it to.

    Also, they usually just forward the email unchanged, so you get several generations nested together, each with its own list of email addresses that it was sent to.

    Example:  Bob sends the email to 10 people, including John.  John forwards the email to 10 people, complete with From: and To: headers with the 10 people that Bob sent it to.  Joan gets the email with Bob's 10 addresses AND John's 10 addresses.  And so on.  I got one with several dozen email addresses.

    These are exactly the people who need to see the truth about Obama, because they have just gotten the evil email.

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