Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bob Bennet’s Bizarro World

The Ohio GOP on the indictment and arrest of Dem 50th House candidate John Johnson on sex-with-a-minor charges (from Open):

    We have a history in this party of going after the wrongdoers in the Republican Party, and being aggressive about it," Bennett said at a news conference at party headquarters. "It was Republican prosecutors that went after Tom Noe at both the federal and state level. . . . The difference is that Republicans weed out the wrongdoers while the Democrats just try to sweep these issues under the rug.
OK, a few problems with this. First off, the Stark County Prosecutor whose office indicted Johnson is John Ferraro, past chair of the Stark County Democratic Party.* It’s not clear from news reports whether his office handled the matter internally or, as often happens, asked that a special prosecutor be appointed. In either event, a Democratic prosecutor pushed this case toward indictment.

Second, it's not clear what Bennett would have the Dem Party do. The party didn't know about the indictment against Johnson before his arrest since a secret indictment is -- wait for it -- secret. The Dems heard about the indictment and said, "He's not our guy." What more should we have done?

Third, the Noe case stands in stark contrast. Yes, Republican prosecutors went after him, but only after the Dem-leaning Toledo Blade broke the story and Marc Dann championed it for months on end. The Republican Auditor, Republican Treasurer, and Republican Attorney General -- all caught napping while Noe ran his money machines. All guilty -- of doing nothing.

Yea, in the Johnson case the state Dem guys messed up their facts. Stark is one of those larger counties where the local party puts together its own sample ballot and Johnson was on it. So Bennett got a nice headline on Open. But his actual comments – straight from Bizarro World.

Me thirsty. Me want glass of sand.

*For those aware of my history and curious -- I didn't work under Ferraro. I was gone by the time he took over. I did work with his office as special counsel on one case.

Ugly Campaigning in House 43rd

Frankly, I’m disappointed in Steve Dyer. According to today’s Beacon, he at least tacitly approved a party mailer against Chris Croce that criticizes her for offering a plea bargain to an accused rapist. The horror! As I wrote when the Jennifer Brunner was victim of a similar smear, plea bargaining is part of being a prosecutor. You offer a plea bargain for a number of reasons – because you want to spare the victim (Croce’s claim in this case), because the case is punk, because the judge will make you miserable if you don’t.

I don’t much like Chris Croce. But when I worked in the Summit Prosecutor’s office immediately after the regime change that prompted her to leave, she left behind a reputation as a tough prosecutor. Which in her case means that she was no nicer to accused criminals than to anyone else. The simple fact that the campaign dug through her records and found one case among the hundreds she prosecuted speaks loudly to that.

I like Steve Dyer. I still think he is by far the better candidate in the race. He's a smart guy with good ideas and a real dedication to make life better. I suspect Croce is more interested in her own personal ambitions than the needs of her prospective constituents. If I was in the 43rd District, I'd still be choosing Dyer over Croce.

Not to mention, if ever there was a year to follow Michael Kinsley's advice and proudly vote straight ticket, it's this year.

But, I must protest. I don’t know that the complaint will have legs – this is more a case of histrionic spin than distortion of facts. But it’s still crap. It’s exactly the sort of truth-warping electioneering that turns good people off of politics. And – join me in the chorus here – it distorts justice if judges, lawyers and prosecutors must maintain an attitude of maximum harshness to have a chance to vie for elected office in the future. We let this pass at our peril.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bill Press Coming to Kent.

Homegrown syndicated liberal talker Bill Press is returing to Mike's Place in Kent Thursday morning for an election eve pulse-of-the-region show. Details on the Radio Free Ohio website, and directions at the Mike's Place site.

Press's gig is morning drive-time -- 6 to 9 a.m. -- so barring some child transportation miracle, I don't expect to make it there. But for any unencumbered morning people, it should be a good show.

Michael J. Fox in Columbus

Blogger Renee in Ohio (that's her avatar at right)attended the Sherrod Brown/Michael J. Fox event and wrote up a nice post about it on Howard-Empowered People. She's also cross-posted at DailyKos and teased at BSB.

Obama Coming To Cleveland

From a Party email, Illinois State Senator and object of 2008 speculation swarm Barak Obama is coming to The Civic in Cleveland Heights Saturday Night for a Dem victory rally. Just the thing to recharge batteries drained from homestretch campaigning.

Ohio House 41: Sleaziest Campaign of the Year?

I know that’s a high-sounding bar, but hear me out. The 41st is a Republican-leaning district in which a moderate Democrat – Brian Williams – beat an appointed incumbent in 2004. The story of how that happened is interesting enough, but will have to wait for another day.

I like Brian a lot – he’s a former Akron Public Schools superintendent, good on education and a damn nice guy. He’s also very much not a professional politician.

Since it’s a R-indexed district, the ORP and the R House Caucus targeted the district early on. They recruited ex-NFL linebacker and Buckeye legend Tom Cousineau to run and let it be known they were counting on the pickup. This was back when the year looked good for Dems but didn’t look like the approaching tsunami.

So that’s the backdrop. For whatever reason, the ORP decided that a candidate whose sole claim to fame is a storied college football career needed some help getting across the line. So they’ve run a three-mailer campaign slamming Brian – for being soft on illegal immigration.

Let’s stop right there. I didn’t know this was a problem in Ohio. I didn’t know about the Coyotes sneaking people across the border from Indiana. But apparently GOP central has decided this is the hot button du jour and if it works in Colorado, by God it will work in Ohio.

The campaign mines the subtle-but-not-too-subtle Fear the Dark People vein that the GOP has been working this cycle. Here’s a typical mailer front:

So what has Brian done to welcome illegals into this country? Open it up and:

Apparently he is letting them get permits to carry concealed weapons.

OK, let’s pause again to take this in. To get a concealed carry permit, you have to fill out an application providing your name, social security number, and fixed address, turn it in at your local Sheriff’s office, show your driver’s license and submit to a police records check. Does any of this sound like stuff illegal aliens would do? And for a permit to carry a concealed weapon because, God knows, illegals want to obey the law.

So this is not just a Fear of the Dark Other campaign, it’s a Fear of the Dark Other campaign that makes no sense. But the mailers keep coming. Another reminding us where illegals come from and that they just aren’t like us:

And the hands-down favorite. Scariest. Mailer. Ever:

So. Thus far the campaign offends by insulting the reader’s intelligence and playing into base, ugly fears. But when you dig a little deeper, you find out that’s its also been a huge stinking lie.

The bill in question, H.B. 347, was the bill that infamously “reformed” Ohio’s concealed carry law. The bill ran 73 pages as passed by the House. It contained a number of provisions, two of which were opposed sensible people. One provision removed restrictions on carrying a gun in a car. Now people can have a loaded weapon in easy reach. This makes police very nervous, given that a large percentage of police shootings happen during traffic stops. The police chiefs vigorously opposed the provision. In fact, this undid one of the compromises that got the chiefs on board, thus clearing the way for Taft to sign it.

A second provision removed local jurisdictions’ authority to regulate firearms, nullifying a Columbus law proscribing assault weapons. Aside from the direct policy implications of the law, many lawmakers, Brian included, are uncomfortable with laws that whittle down local home rule.

Buried somewhere in those 73 pages of bad ideas was an halfway decent, if ultimately unnecessary provision that said, oh by the way, illegal aliens can’t get concealed carry permits. No thinking person could look at the 73 pages of H.B 347 and honestly say that Brian Williams wants illegal immigrants to have concealed carry permits. Yet that is what ORP has done. (We’ll save for another day the question of whether thinking people populate the ORP.)

The campaign combines the worst of the hallmarks of dirty campaigning – appeals to primitive fears, implicit insults to the reader’s intelligence and outright lies. Few political ads have scored so high in each leg of the trifecta. So I say it’s the sleaziest campaign of the cycle.

In that narrow respect, it gets my vote.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pho's Mail Bag, Pt. 3: The New Akron.TV

Got an email from Karen Kilroy, a progressive web designer and one of the proprietors of Akron.tv. For some time the folks at Akron.tv have been posting things Akronish. Karen has also participated in Meet the Bloggers, which is how I met her.

She wrote to flag the major renovations at Akron.tv. Where once they had a video hosting site, now they offer news feeds, a blog feed (yes, I'm on it), an akron.tv blog and tools for users to blog on the site. Many have gone before down the road toward offering a truly interactive Akron portal. I'll be rooting one more time for these folks to succeed.

I will say that I'm again having trouble with some of the video downloads, but more generally I'm having trouble with my broadband connection, so no telling what's what.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pho's Mail Bag, Pt. 2. Election Songs for the Tsunami.

A friend sent a link to the website of Victoria Parks, a folk singer who has penned a couple of election-year tunes. My Vote Don't Matter Anymore is a little too Stolen Election Gal for me, but Bye Bye Blackwell is witty and fun. Not bad for a three minute diversion.

An Election Protection Information Request or Pho's Mailbox, Pt. 1

Note: I received the following information request from Subodh Chandra who asked bloggers to post. Since losing the nomination for state Attorney General, Subodh has worked as hard as anyone to get Democratic candidates elected and to protect the vote. Anyone with information, please contact the email address given. Thanks.

Dear folks concerned about potential Election Day chaos –

The lawyers managing the lawsuit challenging the Ohio Voter ID law – Subodh Chandra, Caroline Gentry, & Ritchey Hollenbaugh – are trying to quickly gather even more evidence that will help with the suit. We need this information as soon as possible. If you think you might have first-hand information about the different ways this law is being interpreted and applied across Ohio, we ask you to send an email to: VotingProblems[at]gmail.com . The information to be included in your email is set out below.

We are particularly looking for individuals who fit into any of the following categories:

1) On or after October 3, when you went to your local Board of Elections to vote:

    a) you were not allowed to vote until you showed some sort of ID, or

    b) you were permitted to vote after showing a military ID, or

    c) even if you were ultimately allowed to vote, you were told that there was some kind of problem with an ID you wanted to use to vote. This might include an attempt to use a utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check, other government document, photo ID, or any other kind of identifying document you used or hoped to use.
2) You sent in an absentee ballot through the mail and:
    a) on the front of the envelope containing your ballot you checked the box in front of "My Ohio Drivers License number is:" and then filled in the blank with the number above your photo in the upper right hand corner of your license, or

    b) you enclosed with your ballot some kind of identifying document rather than providing a Drivers License Number or Social Security Number on the front of the envelope containing your ballot.
3) You are planning to vote at your polling place on November 7, but you don't have any of the following forms of identification with your name and address: a drivers license, photo ID, military ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.

4) Your absentee ballot application was returned to you by your Board of Elections.

If you fit any of the above categories, or you experienced any other problem concerning your effort to cast an early vote associated with the November 7 Ohio election, we'd like to hear from you. Please send an email to VotingProblems[at]gmail.com. In that email, please tell us:
    a) Your name.

    b) A phone number where we can call you to talk about the problem you had (or if you'd prefer that we communicate with you by email, we'll try to work that way).

    c) Which of the categories above you fit in and/or a little bit of information about the problem you had.
We may not be able to get back to everyone who sends us an email, but we thank you, in advance, for your help.

Finan out at Radio Free Ohio

Ohio Media Watch has the scoop.

I gave up trying to listen to Joe some time ago. He's reasonably sharp for his age -- for his age. But he was painful to listen to. The rambling soliloquys, the long pauses, it was just bad.

The happy news (for me) is that we're back to a full three hours of Al.

The remaining question is whether 1350 will continue to try to develop local programming. I think they should and that they should aim either at post-drive time (Ed Schultz is OK; pretty much can't stand Randy Rhodes) or evening. W/r/t evening, they may have difficulties as their contract with the Aeros cancells evening programs three or four nights a week through the summer.

If they do bring in a local talker, they would do well to try and build an actual community here. Right now they have a sign-up on the website, but in six months or so I've only gotten the announcement for the "Be a Prog Talker" contest (Yea, I tried out and they broke my heart). Point being, nothing else. Certainly not an announcement about the above.

Second, they need a real, dynamic web presence. Some reason to check back or load onto an RSS reader.

Finally, and yeah this is a bit self-serving, do some real outreach. Not just local bloggers, though that would make sense. But also local groups like the SCPD, the Portage Dem Coalition, the Medina County group and whatever MoveOn and DFA affiliates there are. Sierra club has a strong local chapter. I'm sure there are other progressive grassroots groups around. If a progressive media outlet like 1350 reached out to them, it could set itself up as a hub for the Stark/Summit/Medina/Portage progressive community.

The open question is whether, given the general right lean of Clear Channel, they would be happy with an affiliate offering that level of aid and comfort to progressive activists. I think they can achieve some profitable synergies, but it might be too hard to swallow politically for CC.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Michael J. Fox Gets Some Elvis in Him

I was just listening to Tom Oliphant on Franken today talking about how Michael J. Fox has, over the course of a couple days, become a political star, stumping on the issue of embryonic stem cell research.

Sherrod Brown (who has always had plenty of Elvis in him), moved fast, securing Michael J. for a press conference Monday. From the Brown camp release:



    Actor Michael J. Fox will join Rep. Sherrod Brown in Columbus, the town where Fox’s hit sitcom “Family Ties” took place, to discuss the need to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research could hold life-saving cures for millions of Americans, for diseases like Parkinson’s, but Senator DeWine and President Bush have cut off funding for expanding this research that is supported a wide majority of Americans and by many in their own party.

    Brown and Fox will be joined by doctors, stem cell research advocates, and Ohioans suffering from diseases dependent on stem cell research for cures.
Note that this is a credentials-only event. Hopefully someone blogging in Central Ohio can cover it and get some video up before the evening news. No doubt said video will be scrutinized by Dittoheads for signs of fakery.

Tongue-in-cheek throwback headlines aside, I've for some time been impressed by Fox and the dignity with which he bears his affliction. By all accounts a notably callow figure in his heyday, he has stood tall, faced the light and channeled his inevitable personal anguish into positive action.

Even Mojo Nixon would approve.

Sherrod in NEO

Sherrod is running a rally tour through Northeast Ohio this weekend. The following is clipped directly from the presser:


WHAT: Sherrod Brown and Senator Dewine will hold the final official debate of the campaign.

WHERE: Renaissance Hotel, 24 Public Square, Cleveland 44113

WHEN: 12:00 PM

WHAT: Sherrod Brown to hold post-debate rally at the Laborers Union Local 310

WHERE: North Shore Federation of Labor, 3250 Euclid Avenue; Suite 250, Cleveland - ENTER OFF OF PROSPECT RD

WHEN: 1:45 PM

WHAT: Sherrod Brown will attend a “Bring the Valley Together" rally with Steelworkers

WHERE: Enzo's Hall, 2118 Elm Rd, Warren, OH

WHEN: 4:15 PM

WHAT: Sherrod Brown to attend the Western Reserve Building Trades annual fish fry.

WHERE: Operating Engineer Hall located at the corner of Southern Boulevard and McClurg Rd. in Boardman

WHEN: 6:45 PM


WHAT: Sherrod Brown to hold rally in Wadsworth

WHERE: The Masonic Temple, 660 High St. (Rt. 94), Wadsworth 44281

WHEN: 10:00 AM (rally starts at 9am)

WHAT: Sherrod Brown to hold Canvass Kickoff in Akron

WHERE: 438 Grant Street, Akron

WHEN: 11:45 AM

WHAT: Sherrod Brown to hold rally in Tiffin

WHERE: Rickly Chapel, Heidelberg College, 310 E. Market St., Tiffin (Seneca)

WHEN: 2:45 PM

WHAT: Sherrod Brown to keynote Allen County Fall Dinner

WHERE: 1440 Bellefontaine Avenue, Lima (Allen)

WHEN: 5:45 PM


WHAT: Sherrod Brown to hold meeting with Lorain County Veterans

WHERE: 32901 Redwood Boulevard, Avon Lake

WHEN: 4:30 PM

WHAT: Sherrod Brown, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Lt. Gov. Candidate Lee Fisher, and Auditor Candidate Barbara Sykes to hold a rally in Cleveland

WHERE: Tri-C Metro Campus Auditorium, 2900 Community College Ave, Cleveland 44115

WHEN: 6:15 PM

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sawyer v. Fink on Radio Tomorrow

No, I'm not working for him, but I still very much support Tom Sawyer's bid for Ohio Board of Education. Tomorrow 90.3, WCPN will have Tom and anti-science incumbent Deborah Owens Fink in studio for their 9:00 a.m. public affairs show "The Sound of Ideas."

For those outside WCPN's listening area, they offer audio streaming, and a podcast archive of past shows. It should be worth a listen.

Ohio 13th Debate Awards.

I'm not doing a point-by-point recap of an hour and a half debate. So instead, I'll Wayne's World it.

[cue guitar]

Best worst best worst
Party on

Best overall strategy: Foltin inviting the audience to count the number of times Betty says “Corruption.” Underscores the criticism of her as a one-note and a lesser candidate might have been intimidated into changing her strategy. Wisely, Betty faced it head-on, but still it was a brilliant strategy going in.

Best spin, candidate division. Foltin talking about the run of Lorain employees convicted of crimes was masterful. Talking sardonically about the “hardened criminals” in his administration, he ran through a minimizing litany of what happened. His explication doesn’t fit with the facts in the record, but as a freestanding spin job, it was masterful.

Best spin, staff division. In the course of the debate, Foltin quoted Betty after a vote against a bill proscribing late-term abortion as saying “it’s not about life, it’s politics.” I knew what the context was without looking at the article in question. Betty was saying that the bill wasn’t about anything but symbolic politics, but Foltin was inviting the audience to infer that she thinks politics is more important than life. His Communications Director came into the spin room wielding the article, saying “See, See?” I pointed out that Craig was overreading the comment, but she would not be deterred. I’m not buying what she’s selling, but I’ll give her points for tenacity.

Worst spin. Betty on the primary campaign. Did she regret the charges against Tom Sawyer? Well my position blah blah eliminate perks, blah, that’s what I was saying, blah blah talking beyond the travel issue, she’s lost the room about five sentences ago . . . The reason she has lost support she should have is the overkill on the Sawyer travel issue. And her inability to discuss it coherently. If she doesn’t want to revisit the issue all over again in 2008, she needs to come up with a better answer. Now.

Best answer to a question: Betty on whether we need to reinstate the draft. Here are my notes:

    As the aunt of an Iraq war veteran, my niece’s service made a difference to me. Not enough people on cong with family in conflict. Problem with draft was that people with money still avoided serving. Draft wouldn't accomplish goal. But we do need more shared sacrifice.
Doesn’t go the politically suicidal route of advocating a draft, but gives a nod to concerns that the all-volunteer armed forces puts the burden disproportionately on working class kids. Nice.

Best moment. Betty on the border fence: “After five years of the Bush administration, this is what they offer as a solution – put up a fence.” Doesn’t work as well without seeing the expression of resigned incredulity on her face, but trust me, she got the one real laugh of the evening.

Biggest load of crap. Foltin on stem cell research. He’s in favor of adult stem cell research – oh, thanks for that – but hasn’t seen the scientific evidence demonstrating benefits of embryonic stem cell research. That’s just pure nonsense. Embryonic stem cells are the same as adult stem cells, only better. The only way that could possibly be true is if he’s never actually looked.

Worst false equivalency. EMILY’s list is not the same as PHARMA. A bunch of concerned citizens believing in something on a personal level is not the same as an industry lobby looking to get paid. Agree with the position or not, personal conviction is fundamentally different than profit motive. Get it? Next journalist to conflate the two shall be sentenced to twenty hours of watching a loop of tobacco executives denying that cigarettes are addictive.

Most tiresome trope. Foltin’s faux outrage at Betty’s stand on late-term abortion. I’m with him on this and I grew weary of his histrionics well before they were over.

Dumbest question. Tom Beres on ethics. “Assume you are a member of Congress and find undisputable evidence that a member of your own party is selling his vote. What do you do, who do you talk to? “ If you can’t ask an ethics question without making it a hanging curve ball, why bother?

Second worst answer to a question. Betty regarding whether she can say anything good about her opponent. She said he tries hard to promote his city. It’s a tough questions and arguably unfair, but she came off as ungracious.

Worst response to a question. When Foltin was asked the same question, he said “No.” Throughout the debate he danced along the line between being a tough campaigner and sounding like a dick. With that response, nearly at the end of the room, he left no doubt as to the latter and negated whatever sympathy he might have gained from Betty’s ham-handed response.

I probably have one more post on all this, plent for a race that's more than over.

Party on, Garth.

Ohio 13th Debate Overview.

I put Betty Sutton’s performance under the microscope yesterday because I hear complaints that Betty’s campaign has been underwhelming. The primary complaint is that she sing one note – corruption corruption corruption. The corollary, as this line of conversation goes, is that she has little in the way of a legislative plan. You can see some examples of the discussion in the comments on this post on Word of Mouth, as well as in the newspaper endorsements and WCPN discussion.

That’s what was on my mind going into the first of three debates between Ms. Sutton and Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin. Betty clearly has this won. Absent growing new heads in the middle of her closing remarks, what happens over the course of the debate doesn’t matter much for this election.

But I was hoping to see something that would make me feel better about the vote. And I did. Betty didn’t blow me away, but she certainly displayed some policy chops and agility. Despite being baited by Foltin who challenged the audience to count the number of times she mentioned “corruption,” she didn’t back down. She kept up the drumbeat.

But she also did a good job of relating it to her policy ideas. Campaigning is difficult in the current environment of toxic tax talk. If a candidate has no ideas for new programs, she has no ideas. If she has ideas, the audience then asks, “How do you pay for that?” Republicans have done a good job of convincing the electorate that Democrats can’t be trusted not to raise taxes, so Dems are at something of a disadvantage. By talking about the money lost to corrupt practices, Betty can talk about programs with an escape hatch when the cost question comes up.

As for her policy ideas aside from Good Government reform, I give a resounding “Enh.” I’m all about Googo reform, but I’m a policy nerd. I liked what I heard from the standpoint of giving something to the people who want Answers to Ohio’s Problems. I feel that Congress should be about issues that are truly national. I’m not big on each Representative carving a piece of the pie for his/her district.

But that’s just me. I’ll say that Betty seems to have a pretty good grasp on national problems, but can also talk NEO well enough to do retail politics.

As for Foltin? I kind of left scratching my head. On the one hand, he does a pretty good job of pumping his resume, minimizing his dark marks and sounding moderate.

Well, a little too moderate. With a couple of exceptions, Foltin sounds more like a moderate Democrat than – if there still is such a thing – a moderate Republican. He’s in favor of increasing funding for higher education, increasing government healthcare coverage, increasing funding for local mass transportation. He’s pro-environment. He’s against the Federal government passing laws regarding gay marriage and against meddling in Terri Schivo sorts of cases. Aside from some frankly anti-science pronouncements – he hasn’t seen science supporting either global warming or benefits of embryonic stem cell research – he would be perfectly acceptable Dem primary candidate.

Not only am I wondering about his choice of party, I’m wondering about which office he’s running for. He sounds more like a candidate for mayor – or perhaps some sort of regional supermayor – than for Congress. He held his own in the first half of the debate regarding the economy and slanted toward local concerns, but Betty dusted him in the debate on foreign policy. His answer to a question asking his priority in the first hundred days, he talked about reconnecting with local leaders as opposed to proposing any legislation.

Much is made of the difficulty moving from the legislature to an executive position. The same can be said of moving from executive to legislature. He’s used to being top dog in his little corner of the world. He didn’t show an understanding of how his work will change when he is one of 435.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

OH-13, Pt. 2: Pre-Debate Research.

As you may have guessed, I'm particularly interested in the Oh-13 race because the debate cycle kicks off tonight at U Akron. As currently planned, I'll be there tonight courtesy of Bliss.

In the meantime, yesterday WCPN covered the race on their 9:00 morning news show. They aired recorded parallel interviews with the candidates, then ran a roundtable with Carl Chancellor and Jack Buerher from the LMJ. The verdict: Over. Podcasts are available. If nothing else, the roundtable gives some insight into the BJ's endorsement of Craig Foltin.

Ohio 13 Check-in, Pt. 1: Betty You Bet [Updated]

The OH-13 race is over, but I’m blogging it anyway. I have some things to say, but mostly it’s nostalgia. It will be a long time before anything in bloglife is as fun as the Oh-13 Dem primary was. Not only is this race a laugher, the tone of the campaign has been dispiriting. No, not even a half-hour infomercial, complete with faux-Oprah audience participation, can rescue this one.

How over is the campaign? The Sutton camp released a internal poll showing a commanding lead:
It’s all there. Over 50%, lots of lead, winning across the district. And this before Sutton has really started much in the way of media or mail campaigning. Over. Over. Over.


While Sutton is running away with the race, she is nonetheless underperforming. Sherrod Brown won 69% of the vote in 2002 and 67% in 2004.

The 2002 result is especially jarring. That was the first time Sherrod ran in the newly-reconfigured 13th which added large swatches of Summit County to the district. It was also the year BushCo. had rigged the Iraq War resolution which put Dems in a box and led to significant midterm gains. Sherrod voted against the resolution, giving his opponent a blue-collar-friendly campaign issue. Nonetheless, he pulled down nearly seventy percent.

While incumbency counts for a lot, it’s hard to account for a 13% underperformance in a watershed year for Dems. You have to wonder how this race would play in a different year.

Why is she underperforming and what does it mean? Good questions. Stay tuned . . .

Addendum: A Betty supporter emails to tell me that the Average Democratic Performance in the district is 55%. That's probably what Gore and Kerry got. I'm sure someone is working on those numbers now to send me.

A fair point -- Betty is outperforming Democrats. But this is a year when Democrats are outperforming Democrats across the board. This a year when Republicans are sweating the result in Idaho's First. Foltin has done some things well to be sure, but there are other reasons why Betty hasn't quite set the world on fire.

New Senate Poll

In a Mason Dixon poll released this morning, Brown continues the up trend:

The poll also shows Strickland up on Blackwell 54-34. The poll also has some interesting rightpath/wrongtrack results, shows a majority of Ohioans wanting to pull at least some troops out of Iraq and generally shows great dissatisfaction with the current administration. Read the story on MSNBC. Previous Mason Dixon poll results are on Pollster.com.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Another Copyright Infringement, Another Blogstorm

Once again, a blogger has found his work appropriated without compensation or attribution and once again bloggers are not amused. Scott Bakalar alerted the broader blogosphere to the plight of TMC News. TMC is a blog by a former free-lance photographer and videographer who covers accidents, fires and events in Lorain Co. TMC describes what happened next:

    Last night a story aired on WOIO 19 News during their 6pm newscast about the trench rescue in Eaton Township. I learned around 3:30pm that WOIO was working on the story and that they were going to be using photos that I had taken at the rescue. When I discovered that the story they were working on was that they believed a fight between the Metro LifeFlight crew and the Firefighters at the scene took place. I contacted WOIO immediately and spoke both with the managing editor and the reporter preparing the story. I was told that the photo was sent to them through an email therefore they could not determine the ownership of the photo so they were going to run with it. I advised them that all they had to do was view my website to confirm ownership. I advised both the managing editor and the reporter that I was NOT granting permission for them to use any of my photos for their story. Both dismissed me and they ran the story and the photos anyway.
I agree with Scott that this is, if anything, worse than what has gone before. As Scott notes, WOIO was notified ahead of time by the holder of the copyright, but ran the story with the pictures anyway. In addition, the blogger was at the scene and contradicted the version of the story WOIO was running -- still they didn't care.

What’s more, a news station is in the business of creating intellectual property. The station can, for example, sue to protect copyright if snippets show up on YouTube (the success of that suit would depend on whether circumstances give rise to a “fair use” defense.) As an organization, they surely are aware of copyright law. In this case, they just didn't give a damn.

What’s more, TMC appears to be working his site into a business, at least judging by his “100 Days” post. So WOIO in fact stole from a nascent news organization. Wonder how the PD would react if someone emailed one of their pictures.

Bloggers have rallied to the cause. In addition to Scott’s post, which BFD picked up,
Jeff Hess
and Redhorse have weighed in. It’s easy enough to fix this – pay the guy for his work, run a correction story giving attribution and don’t do it again. We’re still waiting to hear from WOIO.

It appears that organizations appropriating images from blogs do so because they feel they can get away with it. They rely on bloggers being unable to finance a vigorous defense of their copyrights, and minimal damages because by and large we don't lose business as a result of the infringement. Meanwhile, bloggers need to decide what to do about this going forward.

Why Larry Sabato Gets the Big Bucks

The Columbus Dispatch has been running some fairly silly ad watch stories lately. Recently they transcribed a DeWine press release to proclaim that DeWine’s campaign was “toughening” their ad campaign. This made little sense to me – DeWine’s all 9/11 all the time campaign seemed plenty tough – until it became clear that “tough” in this case meant “dishonest.”

Sunday’s CD should be sent to the Pulitzer committee in the Gratuitous Expert Opinion category. After noting the dueling Senate ads featuring Iraq War families, they bring in UVA politics guru Larry Sabato to explain this all to any reader who is utterly ignorant of human nature:

    "It naturally adds credibility to whatever they’re saying, since we all owe them a fair hearing regardless of what they’re saying about Iraq," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

    "If a politician talks about something, most people will turn the channel. Very few people are going to turn the channel when a veteran or a veteran’s family is addressing them."
Well thank God the CD staff ponied up the long distance charge to Charlottesville for that. As silly as the dial-an-expert game can be, the CD ramps up the silliness by quoting an eminence like Sabato to describe basic common sense. Or, as Dr. Michael Klag, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Medical School puts it:
    Your nose is generally located somewhere near the center of your face.

I’m Back Now. No Really.

Sorry for the radio silence over the past couple of days. Probably you don’t want to hear lame excuses, so just scroll up and read some real posts. If you must know, I had Sawyer clean-up work to do, Kid Z had chicken pox, I wanted to get yard work done during the last few decent days, our phones went out and I spent too much time on a silly project that went nowhere.

But more than anything else, it’s taking me a while to get back into the blog rhythm. I’ve been writing plenty, but as Norman Chad might say, writing press releases, platform statements and talking points uses a different muscle. I’ve also delayed things unnecessarily by trying to work up the Perfect Return Post. No more; I’m just going to spam you with whatever crosses my mind until I get my groove back

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oh, That Right Wing Hack

When I found myself named in WorldNet Daily, the author's name sounded familiar, but I didn't care enough to do an actual search. In fact, I was called out by none other than Jerome "Unfit for Command" Corsi. MLM Liberal, also named in the article, has done the legwork on all things Corsi. Meanwhile, Corsi continues to work this story on behalf of J. Ken.

The Blackwell campaign's resort to the faux-scandal story in the face of increasingly grim poll numbers is kind of like a skunk spraying an oncoming truck.

Hartmann's Attack on Judge Brunner -- In Context

I don’t remember his name. Let’s call him Mr. V. He was one more guy charged with a felony 5 domestic violence for hitting his live-in girlfriend. He had one prior (thus elevating the case to a felony.) Typically, we couldn’t prove he was represented by counsel during his prior, meaning we couldn’t use it. His victim not only wanted the charges dropped, she fed me a lie of a story that would scuttle my case if I had to go forward.

So I pled him down to a misdemeanor DV, like scores of guys before and scores of guys after. Probation, counseling, case closed.

A year or so later he was less typical. I saw a newspaper item that Mr. V. had shot his girlfriend (the same one who was victim in my case) and her sister. Both were in serious condition, the sister in a coma. I looked up his record and found that after successfully serving his probation term, he caught another DV with the same victim. This time he pled as charged, went on probation – again typical – and was on paper at the time of the shooting.

The only thing remarkable about Mr. V. was the shooting. Prior to that, nothing made him stand out from the typical DV defendant.

Yesterday when I got a fundraising email on behalf of Secretary of State candidate Jennifer Brunner alerting me that Greg Hartmann would debut a new negative ad based on a case she handled as a judge. I braced myself for a Mr. V. case – every judge and every prosecutor has at least one.

In fact, Hartmann couldn’t even find a compelling case without distorting it. Mr. V. went heavy felony after I pled him down. Judge Brunner is being slimed for giving a guy probation, then finding out he had been molesting a relative before he appeared before the court. You can compare and contrast Hartmann’s spin job with the facts she provides.

Setting aside how little relationship a case like this has to her qualifications for the job – Secretaries of State sentence very few felons – the tactic is repugnant. It distorts justice and makes good people reluctant to run for public office.

I saw Judge Brunner at the Al Franken rally (and will upload the audio as soon as I can figure out how). She’s exactly what we need to clean up elections in the post-Blackwell era. If you haven’t done so already, consider a contribution.

Monday, October 16, 2006

In Which I Attack Scott Pullins

I mentioned moving blogging up a couple days because of a couple things that caught my attention. Thing One was discovering a bunch of referrals from an article in something called WorldNet Daily. I had probably run across them before, but frankly wingnut news sites tend to blend together.

Anyway, I get special mention and a link in WND because I attacked --ATTACKED, DO YOU HEAR??!!?!? -- Scott Pullins some time ago. The occasion for the Attack was Pullins' taking up the banner in the “Is Ted Gay?” whisper campaign. WND gives the campaign credulous treatment and paints Pullins as the hero of the saga.

Everything about this is excellent. First off, I can't get enough of Pullins saying "I personally don't care if Strickland is gay or not, but . . . we gotta find out if he's gay!!!!" Again with the immunity to irony. Hilarious every time. Last time he busted out with that it was four days after my vacation blackout and I decided that was too far outside the news cycle even for me. So thanks to Scott for giving me another chance to blog it.

Second, I love the Pullins as brave culture warrior story line. In Wingnuttonia simple gay-baiting is not enough; there must also be an element of martyrdom at the hands of the all-powerful gay lobby. So not only is Pullins lauded for his "courageous" pursuit of this issue, but readers are breathlessly informed that "For pursuing this story, Pullins has been soundly attacked by Ohio's liberal bloggers." I especially love the thought of Pullins being interviewed for the piece, tears welling as he recounts the pain of our encounter.

Finally, the author of the piece butchered the money quote in my post. Here’s what he says:

No. In the course of my post I move from to neutral on the Pullins-as-douchebag question to deciding he definitely is. So WND guy is not only a rightwing hack, he's a rightwing hack who screws up the point he's trying to make.

Somewhere Steve Colbert has gotta be scratching his head. His parodies of conservative blowhards shrilly hand-wringing about ephemera have not yet deterred real life conservative blowhards from shrilly hand-wringing about ephemera.

Meanwhile, Scott Pullins and WND, I doff my organic cotton twill cap to you. You couldn't have concocted a better way to welcome a liberal blogger back into the fold.

There and Back Again

I'm back to blogging. I'm back to blogging because I am no longer working on the Sawyer for School Board campaign. No big deal, it's all about resources and tactics. I still think Tom is the guy and wish everyone on the campaign well. These things happen on campaigns is all.

I was planning on holding off on rejoining blog world for a couple more days, but some things have happened over the weekend that I will post about anon. So, I'm back in.