The Glory of American Politics Goes Worldwide

I am in San Francisco at the moment -- hot yesterday, back to typical August raw chill tonight -- and was typing up the notes from the day's interviews. Naturally this involves going to track down odd references on The Internet, and one such oddity led me to a Spanish-language news site based in... Paraguay.

The Atlantic is all in favor of increased online display-ads to boost revenue for news organizations, so I was glad to see that this site had plenty. Here's the one that ran wall to wall across the top of the page. Click for larger:


Everything else on the page was in Spanish -- and was about events in Paraguay. Not in California, where Barbara Boxer, subject of the go-negative ad, is trying to hold onto her seat in the Senate against Carly Fiorina.

For a moment I thought, wtf ? Then I realized: clever targeting! The Paraguayan site can tell from my IP address that I'm coming in from California, so it serves up this relevant-to-Californians ad. To test this hypothesis, I fired up my VPN, chose a pseudo-IP address in Chicago, and went to the same site. Bingo: a normal old non-political ad in the same space. Not a bad way for the Fiorina team to make a negative "values" pitch to the subset of California's Latino vote that might be following the news from Paraguay.

To complete the experiment, I switched the VPN to a pseudo-address in Los Angeles, and went to Paraguay again. Bingo once more! Another Carly ad, this time in Spanish, next to another ad in English:


I have never been prouder of my country, my home state, or my language.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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