Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Storm Worm Attacking Through Blogs

From ZDNet:

    The new Storm Worm variant attacks the machines of unsuspecting users when they open an e-mail attachment, click on a malicious e-mail link or visit a malicious site, said Dmitri Alperovitch, principal research scientist at Secure Computing.

    But the twist comes when these people later post blogs or bulletin board notices. The software will insert into each of their postings a link to a malicious Web site, said Alperovitch, who rates the threat as "high."

    "We haven't seen the Web channel used before," he said. "In the past, we've seen malicious links distributed to people in a user's address book and made to look like it's an instant message coming from them."
Sadly, neither ZD nor anything else I have found give any clue as to how to find out if your blog is infected or what to do if it is. And they don't tell whether certain platforms are more vulnerable than others.

Given that some local blogs appear to be acting strangely, this may already be happening to some of our friends.

On the other hand, I'm always looking for signs that people outside the 'sphere take us seriously. So now, add hackers to the list! Yay us!

Gov. Strickland's Regulatory Reform Effort.

This showed up on the Governor's website last night:

    Governor Ted Strickland today established Advantage Ohio, a regulatory reform initiative that will work on easing the unnecessary burdens of regulations that prohibit and constrain business and development in Ohio.

    Advantage Ohio, a component of Strickland’s Turnaround Ohio Plan, calls for a focused review of current regulations, eliminating those that are unnecessary, redundant and contradictory while ensuring quality of life and health protections for Ohioans.

For those of you fearing "another layer of bureaucracy," it looks like Strickland is trying to sunset the initiative and limit it's drain on resources:
    Advantage Ohio will continue through the first year of the Strickland administration and rely upon existing state resources for implementation. The plan calls for a review of selected regulations and practices in executive branch agencies that have significant links with the business community.

And the Governor has his guy picked out:
    Strickland designated Columbus lawyer Scott North as the Governor’s Special Representative on Regulatory Reform to direct the Advantage Ohio initiative. He will begin work effective immediately.

    North will lead working groups consisting of representatives from business, government and the general public that will make recommendations to reduce unnecessary regulatory impediments to economic growth, while continuing to protect the interests of consumers and the health and safety of Ohio’s citizens.

The announcement got almost no coverage in the media. I couldn't find anything in the Dispatch. AP is good for a few grafs of stenography. The one exception is Copley which published a well-reported story. It includes reaction from Ohio Citizen Action (skeptical), Ohio Chamber of Commerce (hopeful) and Buckeye Institute (snotty.)

(We also learn from Buckeye that newly hired policy analyst J.Ken Blackwell "is following a self-imposed, 100-day, no-comment period about Strickland's policies.")

Scott North, according to Google search, is an Employee Benefits attorney at Porter, Wright, one of the big Ohio firms. He's not a career lobbyist for industry. Employee benefits practice is all about complying with complicated laws and regulations, most of which are Federal. All of that is to say, Mr. North is likely to be sensitive to the difficulties facing businesses trying to follow the rules, but isn't necessarily rabidly anti-regulation.

I'm still figuring out what to make of this. I'm all for improving efficiency. It does no one any good to have regulations that make life difficult and fail to accomplish anything. On the other hand, I beleive in regulations that do in fact protect health and safety. When Bush undertook regulatory "reform," his entire project was an effort to rewrite the regulatory regime so that all decisions favor business. That's what I feared a Blackwell reform would look like. The Progressive community needs to keep an eye on this to make sure it doesn't turn into something similar.

I also happen to agree with the Alan Wolfe thesis that anti-government Republicans don't do government well. Democrats who want regulations to work are better at fixing them so they do work than are conservatives who think the whole enterprise is worthless. So it may be that Governor Strickland can make Ohio a more business-friendly state without making it unfriendly to consumers. Wait and see.

New Bliss Poll: Prez Primary

The Bliss Institute at U of Akron released its 2007 Ohio Politics Survey. I'll get to the wonk-friendly questions about the difference in satisfaction between the Governor's race and the legislative races or how best to reform redistricting. Right now, let's admit we are substantively vacuous politics junkies and stampede to the 2008 Presidential horserace.

I'm not going to even try to screw around with tables in Blogger. Instead I've made jpegs of the two tables from the Bliss survey. If it's not big enough, just click on it. Or surf over to the .pdf. Here's the GOPpers:

And the Dems:

Thoughts. First off, unfortunate that we won't have a followup post-Barack swing to see what kind of momentum he's building here. There will be other polls, of course, but it's better to track trends within a particular organization's poll to mitigate the effect of differences in methodology.

Hillary is currently way out in front here in Ohio among Dems. That's somewhat consistent with the True Hillary -- the cautious centrist -- who is a lot more like an Ohio voter than Caricature Hillary is. Hillary is only slightly more popular with independents than Barack. Given his name rec, organization and resources, Edwards is frankly sucking wind.

On the other hand, nice to see Bill Richardson over five.

Over at Buckeye State there was a discussion about why Obama bothered with a swing here, given that the race is usually pretty much decided by the time we have our primary. I got to that party too late for my two cents, so here it is. Partly it's to raise money of course. But partly it's to swing these numbers. Many of the big money people want to invest in candidates who can win. If Obama looks weak in the crucial swing state, he will have a harder time at this point getting the resources he needs. If, on the other hand, he looks like the stronger candidate in Ohio, donors of the "Just Win, Baby" stripe will give to him.

Or maybe it's just because he's competing with the Kucinich juggernaut.

On the Republican side, I've gotta think that a fair number of Dems are picking their preference based on beatability rather than actual preference for President. Or do Dems really think McCain still rides the Straight Talk Express?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bipartisan Proposal to Monitor Gasoline Quality

Presser from House Dems:

    Legislation that would protect consumers by allowing county auditors to test gasoline quality at Ohio’s service stations will be among the first introduced under a new House procedure allowing for bills with more than one primary sponsor.

    The consumer protection plan – first introduced by state Rep. William J. Healy II, D-Canton last September as House Bill 652 – was re-introduced Wednesday by Healy and state Rep. Jon Peterson, R-Delaware.

    Peterson and Healy will both be listed as primary sponsors – among the first examples of such bipartisan legislation since Speaker Jon Husted announced on Feb. 12 that joint primary sponsorships would be permitted in the Ohio House. State senators Gary Cates, R-West Chester and John Boccieri, D-New Middletown will serve as the top sponsors of similar legislation in the Senate.

I'm intrigued by the "new procedure" that allows mulitple lead sponsors. Presumably that allows for bipartisan cooperation with equal credit. Given the GOP caucus's penchant for poaching Dem bills last term, this certainly improves things.

The bill itself sounds like an overdue idea:

    Ohio is now one of just four states where gasoline is not routinely inspected for quality. Nearly six billion gallons of gasoline are sold each year in Ohio – virtually all of it untested at the local level. It has been estimated that as much as 15 percent of it could be substandard, either because of honest mistakes in the refilling of underground storage tanks, or because of unscrupulous dealers.

    County auditors– acting in their role as the sealer of weights and measures – now routinely test pumps to make sure they accurately dispense the correct amount of gasoline. But auditors generally do not have the authority to test fuel quality. The exception is Summit County, a home rule county where officials have launched their own program.

    The Healy-Peterson proposal would allow other county auditors offices to go the extra mile by testing for octane, water content and sediment content. Water and sediment would be measured according to nationally-recognizd guidelines; Ohio would set its own standards for testing octane in concert with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

And it has important backers: "The County Auditors Association of Ohio and the Ohio AAA have both endorsed the Healy-Peterson plan." Triple-A can throw some serious weight behind a bill if they want to.

So it's a bill with a good chance of passing, voters -- at least those who don't own crooked gas stations -- will like it and it will have a Democrat's name at the top. This is how you build on the gains of November.

Buchtel Coach Accused of Sexual Battery

Some thoughts on Claude Brown, Buchtel High School’s football coach and his arrest yesterday.

From the latest report in the ABJ, it looks bad for him – police are alleging he confessed. But this is a heartbreaking story no matter how it turns out. Brown has been a successful coach in the city’s most challenged high school. He has been extremely successful with a gaudy win percentage. Among other things, he sent Antonio Pittman off toward a promising pro career. Most importantly, he was in the position a male role model in a part of Akron that needs all it can get. In short, he’s a guy you hope you can get behind. But all that’s gone now.

As to the charge, the term “sexual battery” sounds more like a crime of force. Police are now saying that the sexual relationship was consensual, which was what I read into the early reports. My guess, then and now, is that he was charged under subsection (A)(7) which reads:

    (A) offender, when any of the following apply:

    (7) The offender is a teacher, administrator, coach, or other person in authority employed by or serving in a school for which the state board of education prescribes minimum standards pursuant to division (D) of section 3301.07 of the Revised Code, the other person is enrolled in or attends that school, and the offender is not enrolled in and does not attend that school. R.C. § 2907.03.
So like the police spokesman said, the crime is one of violation of trust and abuse of position.

The Ohio statutes proscribing sexual conduct with minors were written with an elegance not usually seen in criminal law. At every level you can see the concerns about differences in power between children and adults. For example, sexual conduct is a serious crime regardless of consent for any adult with a child younger than 15. From 13-15, an alleged offender can offer a defense that he (usually it’s a he, but I’ve prosecuted women, especially under this section) reasonably believed the victim was older than 15. For children 12 and under, the offender’s belief about the age of the victim is irrelevant. It’s one of the few instances in criminal law of what we call strict liability – the offender is guilty regardless of his mindset about the victim’s age.

The levels of offenses also reflect concerns about relative position and power. If the victim is under 12, the crime is rape, a first degree felony. From 13-15 it’s “Illegal Sexual Conduct with a Minor,” and the level of offense varies depending on how much older the perpetrator is than the victim.

Which brings us back to Mr. Brown. Generally, sex with a 17 year-old isn’t specifically defined as a crime. In some jurisdictions the state can get away with a charge of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, but that doesn’t fly in Summit and is a Misdemeanor 1 in any event. It’s Brown’s status as a coach and teacher in the victim’s school that elevates the crime to a felony.

Which is as it should be. First off, there’s consent and then there’s consent. Rather than wade through the thicket of authority over the student and what the parties beleived when, whether a student might have feared retribution for refusing or sought advantage by consenting and whether there was real harm done and all that stuff that a judicial system simply can’t be equipped to do, the law simply says don’t do it.

But even if we assume for the time being that the relationship was truly consensual – and we can bet Brown will have defenders who shout loudly that it was -- it’s still wrong. Teenagers get crushes, sometimes on much older adults. That doesn’t mean it’s good for them or anyone else to consummate the relationship. An adult in a position of trust and responsibility is charged with, well, being the adult. He’s supposed to make the mature, responsible, healthy choice. From what we can tell, Coach Brown didn’t. And everyone loses.

Media Reform Event with FCC Commissioners [Updated]

From a FreePress email:

    Please join FCC Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein, Michael Copps and Robert McDowell for a public hearing on the future of media.

    Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2007
    Time: 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
    Location: Broad Street Presbyterian Church
    Address: 760 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205

The event is cosponsored by Free Press, Consumer's Union, Common Cause, UCC, Metropolitan Church Council, Ohio PIRG and Ohio Citizen Action. FreePress, by the way, is one of the groups spearheading the Net Neutrality effort.

The commissioners will give opening remarks, followed by "a lengthy period for public testimony." The sponsors are recording citizen testimony to present it to the FCC.

The event webpage includes factsheets to help people prepare their testimony. You might also want to check out the Frontline documentary on the pressures on the news business. Part III is airing tonight, but you can also catch it online.

UPDATE: Looks like ProgressOhio is part of the effort as well. They have a page up where you can sign up to attend.

Francis Strickland Coming to Akron

From the ebag, Ohio’s first lady will speak at a Bliss Institute event honoring Women’s History Month. She will discuss “her experiences in
politics and share her ideas on how
to empower others to get involved.”

Date and Time:
Monday, March 12, 2007, 11:30 a.m.
Martin University Center,
105 Fir Hill
Cost is $6
Call the Bliss Institute at
For more information:
Call 330-972-5182, e-mail
bliss[at]uakron[dot]edu, or visit
The Bliss Institute

And yes, Jill is on the same email list.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Strickland to Veto Paris Hilton Tax Cut?

A friend writes that the following was in today's PD:

    Strickland said it is "highly likely" that he would veto a proposal by House Republicans to cut or eliminate Ohio's estate tax.
Neither my friend nor I can find it online, but the PD's internets stuff seems to be hurting today. I haven't gotten my headlines email yet and the

Anyway, the estate tax cut looked to me like political posturing on the Republicans' part. The budget is tight, the cut would benefit wealthy taxpayers who have already benefitted disproportionately from the last round of tax cuts, the supposed case for the cut on economic development grounds doesn't pass the straight face test and the regressive sales tax hike still sits on the books.

The Republicans could have shoved this through the lame duck session, but they concentrated on a firearms bill that Strickland would have signed but Taft vetoed. They held this back to put the most unpalatable tax cut imaginabel in front of Strickland to test his resolve and build the "Taxing Ted" meme. Good for Ted resolving not to back down to policy bullying.

ABJ Plays Soft Toss with Betty Sutton

The Beacon Journal continues its long, slow slide into a daily version of the West Side Leader with the fluffiest interview with new Representative Betty Sutton you would never want to read. Reporter Jim Carney got column inches sufficient for eleven questions, one of which probed Rep. Sutton’s taste in coffee (fair trade from Starbucks served black, if you’re wondering.)

The only reason the interview flirts with substance is the Representative using a beanbag question about “biggest accomplishments” to make points:

    I am happy to say that we have accomplished a great deal in the first month of this new Congress. On the very first day, we adopted reforms to clean up the culture that has allowed corruption to flourish in Congress and prevented the adoption of public policy to benefit the public good rather than special interests.

    After accomplishing that, we passed an increase in the minimum wage to ensure that hardworking people will receive a fairer wage. We also enacted legislation that put our seniors first and made health care more affordable, passed legislation to make college more affordable and accessible, and ended the subsidies to oil companies so we can invest in the future ofrenewable-energy technology, that will create more jobs. (All issues must be approved by the Senate and signed by the president.)

If you want to know about the Representative’s policy goals or future plans, you’ll have to read into those tea leaves. That’s what you get.

I’ve got plenty of questions I’d like to ask Rep. Sutton. Last week four shivering MoveOn activists protested war funding outside her office as part of a nationwide effort. How does she feel about defunding? She's landed a plum committee assignment. How does she plan to parlay that into advantage for her district? She's spokesperson for the Dem. rookie class. How is that going? In four years Ohio will lose two Representatives. What is she doing to make sure she's not one of them?

Lots of questions. Too bad the list hasn’t been winnowed down any.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The House of Pho Is Being Assimilated

This is what our entry hall closet currently looks like:

All the snow from the winter snow caused an ice dam on our roof which, when the snow melted, sent runoff into the house, particularly into the lintel of that closet. Fortunately, after a similar problem a couple of years ago we found a remediation company that uses high-end equipment to minimize the damage. That's an industrial-strength dehumidifier pumping super-dried air into the walls through the yellow tubes that provide the Borg effect.

It's noisy and messy, but beats ripping out plaster walls by a long shot.

Dinner Blogging: Celebrating Tet

This past week, we've been celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. We do what we can to help Kid T get in touch with her heritage. Part of the effort is celebrating Tet and making the odd authentic dish (Me! Using a recipe! Only for my kids.)

Dinner Thursday night was Roast Beef with Ginger. It's filet broiled med rare, then sliced and garnished. That's cilantro and shredded scallion you see. Plus the meat is dusted with roasted rice powder which is just dry rice browned in a skillet and ground. The sauce is tu'ong -- the Vietnamese equivalent of soy sauce -- flavored with garlic, ginger and sugar.

TechPresident -- My New Favorite Election Site

Thanks to this new Newsweek article run across accidently, I've discovered, a website dedicated to tracking how candidates in the Presidential primary are using internet technology. This excerpt from the About page gives a pretty good thumbnail:

    Our team of bloggers is made of veterans of the 2004 and 2006 elections, ranging across the political spectrum. Their expertise covers everything from website design to the latest in mobile tools and social networking sites. And we'll look closely not just at what the campaigns are or are not doing, but what voters and activists are doing online to independently affect the election.
TechPresident includes the afformentioned blog with articles about timely topics (including a good article sharing my WTF? reaction to Wesley Clarks Stop Iran War effort). It also has a page dedicated to tracking candidates' MySpace friends and another watching Technorati hits as a guage of blogosphere buzz.

Check it out, but fair warning: Give yourself at least an hour.

UPDATE: Few things in bloglife irk me more than posting a story and seeing someone else post it some time later without so much as a hat tip. You can never tell if the blogger just missed your post or is ripping you off, and in any event, bloggers take a certain pride in being first on the block. Silly, maybe, but still.

To avoid doing that myself, I generally run through the Ohio blogs that seem to do the most work following the news cycle before posting. If I see something elsewhere I give a hat tip or at least an acknowledgment.

As Jill notes in comments, I missed her post about TechPresident on Progress Ohio. As it happens I've switch RSS services (MyYahoo sucks! Google Reader rocks!) and missed picking up ProgOH until just this week. Apologies and, yes, tip 'o the hat to Jill.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Celebrating a Decade of Parenthood

Kid Z, my oldest, turned ten today. She is the epitome of what we are now calling a tween. You can see in her the possibilities, the young lady waiting in the vestibule between childhood and adolescence, wondering when It will start and what exactly It is. In the meantime, she loves the people in her life, tries too hard to be perfect and continues to amaze us on a daily basis.

WH: Vilsack Out

The popular ex-Governor is dropping his Presidential bid. From the AP:

    Democrat Tom Vilsack is abandoning his bid for the presidency after struggling against better-known, better-financed rivals, two officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

    Vilsack was scheduled to make a formal announcement later in the day. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the former Iowa governor's statement.
The die was probably cast when the Democratic Attorney General and Treasurer each endorsed Barack Obama.

One implication: Iowa is now a straight up contest as opposed to the field conceding the state to Vilsack or trying to come in second.

Second implication: Vilsack is available to endorse a candidate. Doesn't suck to be him today.

Third implication: Staff available.

Pullins Pulls His Complaint

From the Dispatch:

    Lawyer and lobbyist Scott Pullins has dismissed his request for a stalking protection order against a woman he claimed harassed him over the Internet.

    Pullins’ request for an order to block the woman from posting comments about him had been scheduled for a hearing yesterday in Knox County Common Pleas Court.

    * * *

    Pullins said he dropped the case because area messageboard operators had made changes to regulate content, making it more difficult for posters to attack people.
I'm disappointed. The case promised a happy combination of sordid mudslinging and wonk-friendly boundary setting precedent.

The War Between Iran Peace Petitions.

Stop the Iran War

Poor Bill Richardson can't get a break. If anyone has run for President with a more complete resume, I'd like to hear about it. And yet, he is mired in the midst of the second tier with no apparent way out.

Consider Wesley Clark's "petition" on Iran. It's pretty much the same idea Richardson floated a couple weeks ago, but where Richardson got a few ripples, including a nice piece on Drum (all reported in a previous post here), Clark is getting massive bloglove for his.

A few factors may account for this. First, Clark isn't yet in the race though he's made noises about it. Bloggers may be more comfortable pushing his petition as an Iran petition as opposed to a "Look at me! I'm running for President!" petition.

Second, the blogad concept was brilliant. Copy and paste the html for a nice graphic and, oh by the way, a feed of the latest ad. As a result, the ad has gone viral among bloggers, to the extent that BFD, which has steered clear of '08 activism, has even run it. Here in Ohio Susan at BlueOhio has spearheaded the effort to pushed the ad among bloggers.

By the way, while most of the bloggers running the ad have installed it in posts, the website asks that it be posted on sidebars "as a public service." I hope the Clark campaign, if there is one, realizes that bloglove will turn to blograge if that ad "accidently" becomes a Clark for President ad.

As to the petitions themselves, maybe it's my pro-Richardson bias, but I like Bill's much more. Compare the Clark petition:

    President Bush, I demand that you stop the rush to war with Iran. I urge you to use every option available to defuse tensions with Iran -- diplomatic, political, and economic -- before even considering military force. Military force must be viewed as the last resort -- not the first option. War is not the answer.

With Richardson's

    I demand this administration start direct diplomacy with Iran immediately and stop the irresponsible aggression.

    This administration has stubbornly refused to pursue real, honest diplomacy in Iran and engage our allies around the world to help negotiate a solution. Instead, they are pursuing a strategy of non-negotiation and threats of possible US military action. We are clear and united - we want negotiations now and no unauthorized and unwarranted attacks in Iran.

First off, Richardson names the problem and calls the administration out. Second, Clark's petition violates a fundamental rule of persuasion -- don't talk about what you don't want. That "war as a last resort" language just bugs me.

The Bush administration to this day claims the invasion of Iraq was the last resort. I don't see the Clark petition making an impression on BushCo., whereas the Richardson petition makes it much clearer what the signer it torqued about. Gen. Clark's is, dare I say it, wimpy.

Or maybe it's just eye of the beholder; I think Richardson's version is tighter. But that doesn't matter if no one knew about it.

UPDATE: The code for the ad got screwed up in the copy-and-paste process. Fixed now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hounding Fox

I've been waiting for this. Liberals have been complaining about Fox New (or Faux News or Fox Noise or Fox Spews or whatever) since it debuted. Aside from boutique outfits like MediaMatters or News Hounds documenting Fox's fluid understanding of the truth, the left has done little to counter the influence.

But now that's changing. Fox Attacks, a website erected by producers of the documentary OutFoxed, is sounding the clarion call. They have a new web video up. You may have seen it on AOG or this excellent article on Alternet. They are also partnering with MoveOn to petition the Nevada Democratic Party to cancel plans to let Fox air the first Dem primary debate.

Here's the video:

The website explains the need for the petition as follows:

    The Democratic Party of Nevada just announced plans to team up with Fox News for a presidential primary debate. But Fox isn't a legitimate news channel. It's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report—repeating false Republican talking points to smear Democrats.

Surf on over to MoveOn and sign. In addition, the FoxAttacks folks have suggestions for leading boycotts of local businesses that advertise on Fox. (I wonder how fair that is -- lots of cable companies seem to just sell time and your ad shows up wherever.)

Another potential action I'd like to see -- document businesses like hotels and restaurants that turn on Fox as a default and start a letter writing/boycott campaing against one or more of them. It drives me nuts to roll into a hotel on family vacation after a day of driving and have to tune out Billo and company as I'm checking in.

SummitCo Prosecutor Seeking Opinions on DUI Changes

From Sherri Bevan Walsh via SC Dem Party:

    I am leading an initiative to strengthen our DUI laws on how they apply to repeat drunk drivers. Currently, individuals with several (some as many as 20) convictions for driving while intoxicated often refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol level test. These tests provide a very important element for the prosecution, an individual's level of intoxication.

    I would like to change the law to mandate that repeat drunk drivers take either a breathalyzer or blood alcohol level test. I am surveying Ohio residents on how they believe the law should be changed on repeat drunk drivers. Please go to my website at and cast your vote.
Walsh, whom I used to work for, has been one of the more aggressive prosecutors in lobbying for legislative changes. Surf on over and tell her what you think.

New Report: Bush Budget Will Clobber Ohio

Cleveland's Center for Community Solutions has crunched the numbers based on a study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities to determine how much Bush's proposed budget cuts will affect Ohio. They've put out a report detailing $2.5 Billion in cuts through 2010. Some specific numbers:

    • K-12 education funding to Ohio would be cut by $401 million, leaving the state less able to
    cover expenses like meeting the needs of special education students, improving teacher quality,
    and providing after-school programs.
    • Ohio could have to cut child care subsidies for 12,600 children, and 5,000 children would lose
    access to Head Start.
    • Ohio would lose $6.9 million in Ryan White HIV/AIDS funding, resulting in hundreds of
    Ohioans losing access to life-saving medication and health care.
    • Ohio would lose $20.2 million in funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
    program, meaning 22,000 fewer Ohio low-income families would receive the healthy foods
    and the nutrition counseling provided by the program.
    • Ohio would lose $11.3 million in energy assistance, meaning 26,600 fewer Ohio residents
    would receive help paying their heating bills if the state addressed the shortfall by cutting the
    number of people on the program.
You can read the CCS report and the CBPP study it's based on.

90.3 Reporters Roundtable on Education

The whole show is worth listening to. Since I'm finally without kids either sick or snowed out or both for the first time in over a week, I need to get to some long overdue work, so give the show a listen.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Flawed Iraq Poll Being Flogged by Noise Machine

Apparently the NY Post ran a front today that a new poll, conducted by a national Republican polling firm, shows much greater support for, well, hanging around Iraq and hoping for the best, when you really look at the results. Here's how the Post put the best gloss on it:

    The poll found that 57 percent of Americans supported "finishing the job in Iraq" - keeping U.S. troops there until the Iraqis can provide security on their own. Forty-one percent disagreed.

    By 53 percent to 43 percent they also believe victory in Iraq over the insurgents is still possible....

    Only 25 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement, "I don't really care what happens in Iraq after the U.S. leaves, I just want the troops brought home." Seventy-four percent disagreed.
Despite the breathless reporting of the poll results on various Noise Machine nodes, I find myself underwhelmed by that description. But wait, there's less.

Some liberal blogs launched some from-the-hip criticisms. Then TPM went over the questions with a Republican pollster of their own. His opinion: the poll is hopelessly biased. For you polling geeks (yes, Red, talking to you) the details are a must read, not only to debunk this particular poll, but as a window into the science of drafting good questions.

Dems Propose EITC

Haven’t had much time to digest this much, but Democrat Mark Foley (House ) has introduced an Earned Income Tax Credit bill that is indexed to the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The bill is H.B. 17.

This could be a canny strategy for Dems on several levels:

  • EITC has been popular with anti-poverty activists and the public as it aids the working poor.
  • The historic love for the EITC among free-market oriented Republicans has dropped away, primarily because they don't want to pay for it. As Republicans argue for more free market in education, it's useful to remind people what happens to market oriented alternative once the government-based program goes away.
  • It's a populist tax cut alternative to the state version of the Estate Tax cut (or the Paris Hilton tax break) Republicans have proposed.
  • It could potentially be used to justify rolling back some of the high-bracket tax cuts. OK, probably not, but I can dream.
If you haven't noticed, this is part of the general beginning-of-term flood of proposed legislation. Bill Sloat pointed out the online list of bills proposed so far. Today's CD has a graphic with the currently highest profile bills. The next couple of weeks should give some indication as to how all this will shake out.

Food Blogging

Last night's dinner: Enchilosas.

Recently I purchased from our local natural foods store what was amusingly labelled "Samosas." Everyone knows that true samosas are deep-fried, preferably in heart-clogging palm kernel oil. These were not actual samosas so much as potatoe and vegetable mixture wrapped in flatbread and baked. They were burritos with Indian flavors. Call them samurittos.

The kids liked the samurittos, so I tried going one better. The filling is potato cooked with tumeric, carraway and celery seeds, then combined with peas, basmati rice and cottage cheese. The sauce is carrots and tomato cooked with curry powder in veggie broth and worked over with a stick blender. I wrapped the filling in whole wheat flatbread, and sauced it for enchilladas made with Indian flavors or enchillosos.

My knowledge of Indian cuisine stops at about the Moosewood Cookbook level. It's a testament to the cuisine that one can put together a meal like this with just the most cursory understanding of the magic of Indian flavors.

HPV Legislation on the Way

From the Caucus presser:

    State Rep. Edna Brown, D-Toledo, announced today that she will be reintroducing legislation to require Ohio girls preparing to enter the sixth grade to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), which is believed to be responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.

    Last December, Brown introduced House Bill 703, a similar proposal, but time ran out on the 126th General Assembly before her bill could be considered. Brown’s bill will call for all Ohio schoolgirls age 11 to 12 to be vaccinated against HPV, unless parents opt out for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.
(I got the same email as Cindy. Catch up with Rep. Brown here. And you can check out my previous posts on the issue here and here.)

In point of fact, last session's H.B. 703 didn’t make it out of committee. But that was SOP last session where the Republicans’ refused to act on any Dem proposal so they could campaign against Dems as do-nothings. If they saw a proposal they actually liked, they would table it until they could find a Repub to sponsor a copycat version. With Strickland in office and a closer margin in the House, things should be at least a little easier for bills with bipartisan support.

Looking at last sessions’ version
, it amended R.C. § 3313.671 to add the HPV vaccine to a list of newly required immunizations:
    (3) Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, except as provided in division (B) of this section, no female pupil who begins sixth grade at a school subject to the state board of education's minimum standards shall be permitted to remain in school for more than fourteen days unless the pupil presents written evidence satisfactory to the person in charge of admission that the pupil has been immunized by a department of health-approved method of immunization or is in the process of being immunized against the human papillomavirus.
It strikes me that if the GA wanted to, they could tackle the issue of immunizing boys now. If they change the language from “no female pupil” to “no pupil for whom the human papilloma virus immunization has been approved,” we are good to go once the approval comes through. Otherwise, I fear that if the immunization requirement is already in place once approval for boys comes through, the GA has an excuse to drag it’s feet .

Look, if women carried asymptomatically a virus found to cause testicular cancer, this wouldn’t even be an issue – the default rule would be to immunize both boys and girls. It troubles me that both lawmakers and public health advocates are paying so little attention to immunizing carriers.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

DSCC's Grassroots Communications

Got an interesting email from the Dem Senate Campaign Committee about the weekend's nondebate on the nonbinding resolution. Interesting mostly for what it doesn't say. And note, that this wasn't sent to my blogger account, this was sent to the me that contributes to political candidates and organizations. Here it is in its entirety:

    Dear [Pho],

    For the last few weeks, the DSCC has been asking for your help to stand in opposition to President's Bush escalation in Iraq.

    We did this because we know that every petition signature and every dollar used to run advertisements, adds momentum to the growing chorus of Americans who are demanding that their representatives stop supporting George Bush's stay the course path in Iraq.

    This weekend, your pressure had an impact. The Senate voted 56-34 to go on the record opposing George Bush's troop surge, with five Republicans changing their earlier votes to join the Democratic majority. Combined with the 246-182 House vote against the surge, we now have strong majorities in both houses of Congress that have sent an unmistakable message to President Bush that his four years of unilateral action in this war are over.

    Although Republicans ultimately blocked debate on the bill, every single Democrat supported this resolution. Democrats are united as never before and will be absolutely relentless in pushing for the change called for by the Iraq Study Group, retired generals and the American public.

    Here at the DSCC, this weekend brought into stark focus why it is so important to expand our narrow one-seat Senate Democratic majority in 2008. Republicans continue to obstruct the change that Americans demand and the only solution is to defeat more of them at the ballot box.

    Until then, Democrats will keep the pressure on.

    Thank you so much for your support.


    J.B. Poersch
    Executive Director, DSCC

See what's missing? Aside from an oblique reference to "dollars" in paragraph 2, the email makes no attempt to raise money. In fact, there is not click-through link to a fundraising page anywhere on the email. It's all mutual congratulations and back-patting.

A conversation started at RootsCamp and continued through multiple posts on both AOG and BSB, about what the ODP could do to be more grassroots-friendly. This sort of post-game follow-up is typical of what's needed to maintain grassroots energy and too often is missing from the Dems strategy book. So credit where it's due.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Kucinich Offers Komic Relief

Face it, nothing in the 2008 Presidential campaign will offer more opportunity for comedy -- high and low, intended and not -- than the Kucinich campaign. And with the marathon slog ahead of us, we'll certainly need the comic relief.

Rep. Kucinich has set a high bar for himself with his 16 Tons rendition at a Rainbow/PUSH conference:

Nothing he's done lately has lived up to that high standard, but news reports indicate dude isn't just going to phone it in from here on out. Bill Sloat caught news of an appearance in Ohio just before shoving off on a New England swing. Bill spotlights this bit of megalomania:

    “The fact I’m in the race gives Ohio enormous leverage in the presidency. All the things we care about in terms of jobs and health care and education, I’m taking into the presidential race. I’m putting the spotlight on Ohio in the presidential race. These other candidates don’t know Ohio.”

[Breathlessly] Oh, thank God Dennis is in the race, lest the Presidential campaigns ignore us since we're only the FRIGGIN' ARCHETYPICAL SWING STATE.

Next, Kucinich went to New England for an apparent college tour, hitting UConn and Dartmouth. Apparently he didn't hit Boston -- not a college town. In any event, at the Dartmouth event he laid out his strategy:

    Although the New Hampshire primary will not be held until 2008, many contenders are getting a head start because of the crowded race for the nomination. Over 10 candidates from each of the two major political parties have either filed their candidacy with the Federal Election Commission or have formed presidential exploratory committees.

    In light of this situation and given his failure to win the Democratic nomination in 2004, Kucinich explained that he has changed his strategy, saying he is "going to win" the New Hampshire primary.
Not sure what's funnier there: That DK thinks he has a chance with the notoriously independent-minded and prickly New Hampshire primary voters or that he thinks that makes a difference, given the frontloaded primary schedule.

But he is serious about firing all his guns at once in NH -- he's the first to open an office there.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Welcome Next Steppers

If you didn't know that I, Scott Piepho, your humble organizer is also a blogger, welcome. Sheila sent out the link directing you because I've deconstructing the education amendment section-by-section. I'm about halfway through. So this post will guide you through what I've done so far.

Generally, you can access my writings on education policy by clicking through the "Academically Challenged" label.

My posts specifically on the amendment are as follows:
Sections A and B
Sections C and D
Sections D (con't) and E
Section E, con't
Section (E)(3)

And the rest will be covered in future posts.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

More Thoughts on HPV Vaccine

Yesterday's post on the coming debate on mandatory HPV vaccine prompted reply posts by Jill, Michael and Gloria. The concensus seems to be vaccine law OK, but people generally want an opt-out. I dropped an impertinent comment on a post Bitch wrote against prosecuting mothers fro drug use while pregnant and utterly failed to generate an argument because people can fall back on the opt-out.

I just posted a response to Jill's question about how Ohio's immunization laws are structured. It's reporoduced below, and since you come by the House of Pho, you get the citations as well. We're all about customer service here. You can follow along at Anderson's Online.

By state law, any student enrolled in a school for which the State Board of Education sets minimum standards must have a set of immunizations. § 3313.671. As far as I can tell, the mandate includes all schools since the State Board is charged with setting minimum standards for "all elementary and secondary schools." § 3301.07. Local school boards have to write regulations to ensure that all their kids are immunized. § 3313.67.

Ohio's mandate offers exceptions:

    (4) A pupil who presents a written statement of the pupil's parent or guardian in which the parent or guardian declines to have the pupil immunized for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions, is not required to be immunized.

    (5) A child whose physician certifies in writing that such immunization against any disease is medically contraindicated is not required to be immunized against that disease.
Also, and I know this from experience, the state Department of Job and Family Services mandates the same set of immunizations for any child enrolled in a preschool or daycare facility.

Just to clarify what I quickly jotted down yesterday, an opt-out is particularly important in this case. The public health implications of HPV are fundamentally different than those of, say, a whooping cough epidemic. Not to dismiss the personal costs of HPV -- I have two daughters after all. But an epidemic of a readily communicable disease rips at the fabric of society in a way that goes beyond personal tragedy.

The HPV vaccine is a course of three injections given over three months and costs around $400. Absent a compelling public policy justification, we have to respect the rights of people to make decisions about the care of their children, even when those decisions are potentially horribly, fatally wrong.

Finally, and most importantly, what about the boys? If the law is to justify intruding into family decision making based on public health concerns, it surely seems that carriers of HPV should be immunized as well as those whose health is seriously compromised. Currently the vaccine isn't approved for boys, though Merck is trying to change that.

Once that is accomplished, it seems to me that the vaccine should be mandatory for your sons as well as my daughters.

Marcy Kaptur Heading to the Middle East

Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-9th) will join a Congressional delegation to Iraq and Afghanistan. From the Blade:

    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) announced today that she will be traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan with a congressional delegation from Monday to Feb. 26.

    Ms. Kaptur will receive briefings from U.S. Command-level military officials and also meet civilian officials from both countries. She will also visit Pakistan and Kuwait during her trip. She is scheduled to meet injured troops in Germany on her return trip.
By the way, you can click through that link to her homepage, then to a link to see her speech on the resolution against Iraq escalation.

As it happens, Ezra Klein guest poster Ankush kvetches a bit about press coverage of administration "surprise" visits to Iraq, in response to Sec. of State Condaleeza Rice's recent drop-by. Here's the meat of his argument:
    . . .but no one ever explicitly writes about why these visits are always a "surprise." The problem, of course, is that four years after our invasion, a high-level American official still can't go into Iraq without worrying about an assassination. The "surprises" are motivated, quite literally, by the fear of death.
Which makes me wonder: How do Congressional delegations run the gauntlet when their trips are almost always announced in advance? Certainly a bunch of lawmakers would be just as tempting a target for jihadists looking to stage a spectacular attack. So, are Congressional delegations in particular danger? Or, as Ankush intimates, does the "surprise" visit happen in part to attract press attention to a SOP visit?

Truly, I'm asking. Just don't get it.

Meanwhile, we wish Representative Kaptur a safe journey and look forward to reading about her impressions.

Mandatory HPV Vaccine in Ohio?

The ABJ offers a teaser on possible legislation on the issue, including an interview with Sen. Kevin Coughlin, chair of the Senate Health Committee:

    Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) said several colleagues have indicated they intend to introduce legislation concerning vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) for girls entering the sixth grade.

    Legislation is likely to come in three forms initially: a strict mandate requiring all sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated; a mandate that gives parents the option of choosing not to vaccinate; and a proposal to increase education about HPV, cervical cancer and the vaccine without any strict mandate.

Coincidently, today’s NYT runs a cover story about the effort nationwide to mandate HPV vaccination. Serious campaigns are running in about 20 states with health advocates on one side and a strange bedfellowship of anti-vaccination activists, pharma skeptics and Christian conservatives on the other.

Personally, I think any law has to have an opt-out. I’m leery about any attempt to legislate how people raise their children. Such a law can be justified if it prevents a societal harm – like epidemic contagious diseases like whooping cough. When it comes to protecting the health of the individual, I side with individual choice.

But I like the effort as a whole. Legislation like this moves people toward a tipping point. The legislative debate publicizes the availability of the vaccine, its benefits and limitations and the sound health reasoning behind the recommendation that girls receive the immunization by the time they are twelve. And it gives some societal cover to the uncomfortable (even for a liberal) acknowledgement that your individual daughter might have sexual contact as a young teen.

So a limited endorsement of the effort, provided it gives parents the ability make their own choices.

GIRFOF: Regional Meetings Announced

The Campaign for Ohio’s Future, the ballot committee for the Getting It Right for Ohio’s Future effort is starting their signature gathering campaign with a series of regional meetings. Recall that the Campaign announced that a number of meetings had been scheduled, then announced that they would be rescheduled after the petitions came back from Ohio officialdom.

The first round of meetings appear to be aimed at smaller counties. The meetings in the (loosely defined) NEO area are:

February 20 5:00 p.m.
Mid Ohio Educational Service Center, 890 West 4th Street, Mansfield, OH 44906

February 27 5:00 p.m.
R G Drage Career Technical Center, 6805 Richville Dr. SW, Massillon, OH 44646

February 28 5:00 p.m.
Maplewood Career Center, 7075 St. Rt. 88, Ravenna, OH 44266

The full list of meetings is posted at OSBA.

Chandra for Obama [UPDATED]

Some time ago BSB posted a question about a rumor that Ohio netroots favorite Subodh Chandra was raising money for Sen. Barak Obama. The speculation on the question presented gave way to somewhat ugly Subodh bashing, then his wife wrote a spirited rebuttal. But with all that, the question remained.

I knew that Subodh was planning to devote his considerable energy to getting Obama elected, but didn't know if he was ready to go public. Until now. Subodh has a personal fundraising page up on Obama's community website, and has sent out an announcement about Obama's rally/fundraising tour.

Here are the particulars of that:

Monday, February 26, 2007
5:30 pm
The Club at Key Center
127 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44114

Public rally to follow.
Doors open at 6 pm.
Cuyahoga Community College--Eastern Campus
Gymnasium at the Student Services Bldg.
4250 Richmond Rd.
Highland Heights, Ohio 44122

You can email buckeyesforobama[at] for tickets to the rally only. Here's a .pdf of the rally flier for anyone who wants to help with publicity.

12:00 pm
One Miranova Place
Columbus, OH

7:30 am VIP reception
8:00 am breakfast reception
The Westin Hotel
21 E. 5th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

The fundraisers are a bit pricey. I've omitted the contact and pricing info, so contact the campaign -- moneil[at] -- for more details.

Chandra says his almost three-year-old triplets are already saying "Obama for President," so look for another great picture of the triplets in t-shirts coming soon.

UPDATE: After hearing from Subodh, I updated the contact info for the fundraisers. Please not that the BuckeyesforObama address is for the rally only. Email the Moneil address for fundraiser info.

Iraq War Resolution -- Ohio Delegation Roundup.

The nonbinding resolution against the escalation in Iraq passed 246 to 182. Few defected on either side. The Ohio Dems all voted in favor and most, if not all of them spoke from the floor. Kudos to the office of Nancy Pelosi which has been posting speeches on YouTube. Tim Ryan wowed people all over the blogosphere. The speech by Tim Walz (D-Minn) was my favorite until I saw this.

Not only is he commanding at the podium, I like that he got under someone's skin and like even better that he would not back down when whoever was giving him the business from the galley.

Betty Sutton's floor speech was much the same as her speech in committee. One difference of interest to long-term Betty watchers -- New suit!

Rep. Charlie Wilson didn't get on Pelosi's hit parade, but BSB got a vid up.

I don't know if Marcy Kaptur spoke on this resolution, but you can see her argue against a Republican resolution in favor of the war last summer if you want an idea of what it would have sounded like. Also no word on whether Stephanie Tubbs Jones spoke or whether Dennis Kucinich yelled "WHERE ARE THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!" one more time.

Zack Space spoke and wasn't all that great. I can't find it on YouTube and wouldn't be at all surprise if Team Pelosi declined to post it. Pretty much a standard speech, not much presence at the podium and he got horribly flustered when he ran out of time.

By the way, Steve LaTourette of the 17 Republicans who voted in favor of the Dems resolution. I'll try to update with a link. For now I'll just say I saw it on C-Span.

UPDATE: has a story running down the regional members.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bill Richardson on Iran

Matthew Yglesias has a post up lauding Bill Richardson's petition on Iran. He had the same positive reaction I did when I got the notice in my ebag.

If you click through to the post you'll notice a reference to The Table. Yglesias is appending the Richardson petition to the end of a debate on the national blogs about whether we should leave the possibility of an attack "on the table" when discussing the Iran situation.

The debate started with a TPM Cafe post by Ken Baer in which he argued that promising to swear off force in Iran shouldn't be a litmus test. The core of Baer's argument was:

    The reason why Obama, Clinton, and Edwards are all refusing to take the military option off the table is because there is no credible expert on Iran, nonproliferation, or any combination of the two who would advise them to do so.
Baer has been around poltics and blogging long enough to know that if you grandly pronounce that something is "always" or "never," you are asking for a haymaker. Ezra Klein saw Baer drop his gloves and took the easy shot, and it was on. The national "Expert" bloggers picked it up and you can now find posts all over the blogosphere about it.

Which takes me back to the petition. As Yglesias points out, it finesses the "table" question, but put the emphasis where it needs to be -- in favor of diplomacy and pulling out of the apparent glide path to another war. After the preamble, here's the meat of the thing:
    I demand this administration start direct diplomacy with Iran immediately and stop the irresponsible aggression.

    This administration has stubbornly refused to pursue real, honest diplomacy in Iran and engage our allies around the world to help negotiate a solution. Instead, they are pursuing a strategy of non-negotiation and threats of possible US military action. We are clear and united - we want negotiations now and no unauthorized and unwarranted attacks in Iran.
Whether you like Richardson or not in the prez sweeps (as it happens, I quixotically support him), the petition is the best netroots effort I've yet seen on Iran.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More New Stuff

New on the Blogroll

The blogroll now has pretty much everyone on it who was on my Blogger 1.0 roll and is still blogging. I’ve fit everyone into the new categories, with no doubt some new ones to come. Since adding links is easier with Bl 2, I’ll be a lot freer with them.

Some specific moves of note. I’ve added more folks to the writers list – most notably Akronintes Paula Mooney and Mary Biddinger. Speaking of new stuff, Mary just received copies of her first published book of poetry. Surf on over and say congrats.

I also added Bill Sloat’s Daily Bellwether in the writers category. It’s a tough call since Bill blogs overwhelmingly about politics, especially Ohio politics. He’s a bit more centrist than the folks on the Progressives list, so I wedged him uncomfortably where he is since he is a professional writer (former PD staffer.)

I created a new category for folks blogging specifically about their city. I haven’t been living up to my blog’s name much, but some folks do and deserved their own space. Plus it opened a spot for Shout Youngstown which, again, isn’t a progressive blog.

I was finally successful in finding a chick blogger who writes about nonchick stuff woman blogger who blogs beyond women’s issues. Laura Rosen at War and Piece writes about international relations for American Prospect and does the same on her blog. This is a twofer since I’ve been looking for a good IR since Eric Umansky went on his interminable sabbatical. I also added Bitch Ph.D. and Broadsheet, the two feminist-oriented blogs I’m finding most enjoyable.

New Subhead

After some twenty months, I’ve ditch my snooze-inducing self-description for something damn near inscrutable. Here is the post where I describe the militant pragmatist. I’ll probably be referring to it more, but basically it’s a reaction to the tendency toward dogma as policy on both the left and the right. Some others I considered were:

-Not centrist so much as reasonable.
-Reality spoken here.
-More pages! Less Akron!

New and Pre.ty Tast.y

I finally signed up for a account last week and installed the badge on my sidebar. Now it’s one of those things I kick myself for not doing earlier. What you’ll find there is mostly stuff I find very interesting but probably won’t get to in a post. Even days when the blog is pretty sleepy I generally will at least look over news headlines and, since it’s only a couple clicks, add them to the list.

All of which is to say, you really ought to come by here every day, even when I haven’t posted.

New Side of Pho

Last week I had a long talk with a blog friend and realized over the course of the conversation how much people still don’t know about me. For instance, that I cook. I have been the primary cook for the family even before I stopped working for a paycheck. It’s long been a hobby and, once I got married, offered a way to contribute to the household that didn’t involve a whole lot of vacuuming.

Beyond that, I'm pretty good. Kid Z says I should try out for Top Chef -- I'm not that good, bless her heart. But I do have some serious game in the kitchen.

Lots of bloggers – even the Serious bloggers like Kevin Drum – post more personal and lighthearted stuff. Kevin’s Friday cat blogging as an example. It humanizes the blogger, makes the serious stuff seem, I dunno, a little less overwhelming.

So I’m going to start dinner blogging. When something turns out looking good, I’ll take a pic and post with a few words about ingredients and prep. Don’t expect full recipes as I tend to improvise heavily and never touch measuring spoons except on the very rare occasions that I bake. Also, brace yourself for lingo just because I want to make things quick and it’s a lot easier to say “chiffonade” than “slice leaves into thin, uniform strips.”

To start it off, here’s last night’s dinner:

That’s scalloped potatoes punched up a bit to give them credibility as a main dish. It’s a bit of a cheat because I use canned mushroom gravy and canned cream of celery soup, but that makes it workable as a crock pot meal. I did render the bacon and brown the onions, before tossing everything in the crock and going outside to shovel my afternoon away.

I’ve tried putting carrots in the dish to add some nutrients and because they add color and slow cooking tends to make things beige. But the kids have decided that carrots are only good raw, babified and dipped into ranch dressing and no one is going to tell them differently. This time I addressed the beigification problem with a healthy dose of paprika in the sauce.

Verdict: A tasty meal as always, though probably a little heavy with the pepper as it turned out.

New Tag

A lot of them, actually, but one in particular. I've added a Best of Pho to tag the best/most important posts from the archives. It's entirely subjective based on my feeling that I hit one out of the park or lots of people giving good feedback. Given the traffic on this blog, "lots of people" constitutes "more than two." The only other rule: I held myself to a strict 2 Cafaro limit. If, perchance, a past post really struck your fancy, let me know and I'll consider adding it to the Best of file.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Observe the Snow

Columnist Cecil Adams, author of The Straight Dope, once wrote a column about the Inuit language in which he said he was working on a sentence that would translate to, “Look at all this fucking snow.” At that point he had, “Observe the snow, it fornicates.” My initial observation was that the Blizzard of Valentines Day 2007 fornicates.

We had just shy of 14 inches in the driveway. It makes me crazy how a storm likes this takes me out of my life. I had two meetings lined up yesterday – cancelled. I planned a bunch of stuff around the house today – had to shovel. Tomorrow I have to cover a meeting for someone else that got rescheduled because of the snow.

But keeping an open mind about it, a day like today can serve as a reminder that the ToDo list isn’t the sum total of my life. So I just junked the day and enjoyed some time with my family – both kids and Prof. W were off. And I watched for the detail of the storm – the uninterrupted slope that was my back steps, the geological strata on the roof of the van, the gravity and wind defying snow filling the kids swings.

So tomorrow life will start again. I’ll fight the good fight about the budget, fret about what to do about the GIRFOF and work on a couple of projects that may be my next steps. Today was something else.

ADDENDUM. Shortly after composing the above, I learned that APS is closed again tomorrow, this time because of a wind chill warning. The snow is pretty, the wind fornicates.

Betty Sutton on the Floor and in Akron

According to the ebag, Rep. Betty Sutton will speak from the floor during the Iraq debate tommorrow between 2:30 and 4:30. According to Sutton's office, her committee speech got good reviews from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer:

    "Congresswoman Sutton's statement cuts right to the core of this week's House debate on Iraq. Her characterization of the debate as a matter of responsibility - to the American people and especially to our brave men and women in harm's way - could not ring more true."
Assuming all goes well, she gets to come home for a post-debate/post hundred hours victory lap. From the SummitCo Dems:
    Congresswoman Sutton will speak with Ohioans about the Democrats' new direction, and how recently passed legislation will help improve their lives. The Summit County Town Hall Meeting will take place on Monday, February 19, 2007 at 6:00 pm at the:
    Akron-Summit County Public Library
    60 S. High St.
    Akron, OH 44326

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rep. Betty Sutton, Iraq and Modern Political Communications

So, you are a blogger with two kids home from school, one sick, keeping you away from the computer hours at a time. Your Representatives’ office sends you a link to the YouTube of her committee speech, but by the time you get it, everyone already has a post up.

What to do?

Write a process piece, of course.

Representative Betty Sutton’s staff have been doing a pretty good job of using all the media tools available, but this is the first time they’ve sent out a YouTube. It’s smart strategy – no one but the hardest core C-Span junkies would have seen the speech otherwise. If you’ve missed it everywhere else, here she is:

The email from her office averred that “people were buzzing” about the speech, but that buzz, from what I can find with my search tools, didn’t generate any press attention. Now Rep. Sutton’s speech is seen by blog readers, including the local press. Maybe it doesn’t get a mention and maybe the next doesn’t either, but it reminds an increasingly harried and skeletonized press corps that the Representative has a key committee post and that she shows up and pushes her issues.

The speech itself shows the delicate balance Democrats are striking between rejecting the strategy and supporting the speech. Rep. Sutton spends her first minute emphasizing the latter before hammering on the former. But as this plays out, people will have the YT speech, along with plenty of links to it and plenty of places people can run across it using The Google.

Smart as the move is, it’s quickly becoming de rigueur. YouTubing is so last month, though the Next Big Thing hasn’t quite shown up. The best political offices not only use the new media, they are keep an eye out for what the new new media might look like. Still, it’s good to see that a politician who at times seemed to struggle to find a nugget of imagination during the campaign is keeping current now that she’s in office.

So: scoop/process piece. Who says the MSM have nothing to teach bloggers?

Send the FCC Commissioner a Valentine

Free Press, the organization that took the point in the net neutrality fight last year, runs a steady stream of netroots campaigns. This one I really liked: trying to woo FCC Comish Kevin Martin from the loving embrace of the big media companies. They have a video up -- a romantic interlude montage, complete with a Barry White soundtrack that alone is worth the trouble. And they have a tool up to let pitch your personal woo to Commissioner Martin:

Tomorrow: Stay Home with Your Kids and Read

Tommorrow is the Annual Day of Reading organized by the public-private partnership This City Reads. It's also another day off school for our kids thanks to the weather.

Educators in Akron have said publicly that This City Reads has been a key component for improving educational acheivement in Akron Public Schools. So if, like me, you are stuck home with the cherubs. Don't forget to set aside a half hour to read as a family. And if you think of it, surf over to the website and sign the pledge.

SC Democrats Valentines Party Cancelled

From the ebag:

The 31st Annual Valentine’s Party Scheduled for tonight, Tuesday February 13, has been cancelled due to the weather. Thank you to all of those you planned on attending, we greatly appreciate your support.

Kansas School Board Revisiting Science Standards

From Reuters:

    For the fourth time in eight years, the Kansas Board of Education is preparing to take up the issue of evolution and what to teach -- or not teach -- public school students about the origins of life.

    After victory at the polls in November, a moderate majority on the 10-member board in the central U.S. state plans to overturn science standards seen as critical of evolution at a board meeting on Tuesday in Topeka.

    New standards would replace those put in place in 2005 by a conservative board majority that challenged the validity of evolution and cited it as incompatible with religious doctrine.
Of course, the Discovery Institute is not happy. Their quote in the story:
    "You have a board in Kansas that is so extreme," said John West, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a think tank focusing on science education and intelligent design.
This is still Kansas, mind you. But I guess to extremists, anyone not sharing their extreme view looks, well, extreme.

The grassroots group Kansas Citizens for Science has an open letter posted on Panda's Thumb, including a link to a .pdf that shows the proposed revisions. Everyone sounds pretty optimistic about the outcome.