Far enough to the right that she supported Pat Buchanan's run in 1999. You know, the isolationist paleoconservative who doesn't hate Jews or minorities, but just really really likes Christian white people? Yeah, that Pat Buchanan.
Game changer, indeed.
UPDATE: Much as I'd like to continue the dialogue with DJW, this story renders the discussion moot. I'm not sure I get a public figure showing up at a rally wearing a button, then saying "psyche." But for a part-time mayor of a small time in Alaska, we can let it pass.
Btw, the Obama campaign screwed up calling Buchanan a "Nazi sympathizer." Buchanan is a Nazi apologist. Let's keep that straight.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Far enough to the right that she supported Pat Buchanan's run in 1999. You know, the isolationist paleoconservative who doesn't hate Jews or minorities, but just really really likes Christian white people? Yeah, that Pat Buchanan.
Abe Zaidan, retired ABJ columnist and long the dean of NEO political commentators, has jumped into the web20 world with Grumpy Abe, a blog of "Politics and whatever comes to mind.
I've gotten to know Abe through the Akron Press Club and know that he's been considering the leap for some time. I'm glad he's finally added his voice, experience and wisdom to our little project.
Hardcore MSM-bashing blog triumphalists will have trouble with passages like this from his intro post:
- I have cast myself into a disorderly crowd that has recast the tarnished badge of professional journalism into an unsightly free-for-all of gingham wolves and calico leopards. I dare say I will have to painfully adjust to the new media culture if I will have any chance at all of catching up with any of the sprinters on the other end of the dot.com.
By the way, his book Portraits of Power is an excellent primer on Ohio politics over the last half of last century. If you want to know how we got where we are, pick up a copy.
Friday, August 29, 2008
It's an open question whether John McCain's choice of half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will significantly shift voters to McCain's side. But her out-of-right-field selection helped in two important, short term ways.
First, the announcement completely such Obama's air out of the room. Even the lefty blogs are entirely done talking about his speech last night, about the historicity of the moment, about the bounce. All anyone is talking about is Sarah Who? and what does it mean. It's Sarah Palin's news cycle, Barack Obama is just living in it.
If McCain had made a more conventional choice, it's unlikely he would have shouldered Obama out of the way quite so successfully. The most conventional choice -- Pawlenty, probably -- would have elicited something like "Yeah, that's what we thought, and how will that relate to the race after Obama's historic nomination last night . . ." By making a selection this unexpected and risky and historic in its own right, McCain/Palin has dominated the conversation since noon.
Second, Sarah Palin being a woman has softened somewhat the fact that Sarah Palin is a Christian Right darling. If McCain had picked a relative unknown and inexperience man with lockdown social conservative credentials, the move would be widely seen as a pander to the religious right base. Because Palin breaks a gender barrier (at least as far as GOP veep choices), her selection is seen less as a sop to the hard right than as more maverickiness from McCain.
Will this advantage endure in the long run? Time will tell. Palin's youth and inexperience cause problems, both by blunting the same criticism of Obama and heightening concerns about McCain's age. And it's hard to claim maverick status when you've picked the least qualified candidate on your short list purely because she might help win an election.
Still, no question that McCain/Palin have won this day.
It's been over a week since I posted here. As usual, I have my excuses. In the past week [deep breath] school started for the girls, the wife and myself, which necessitated the usual getting back into the groove, plus two open houses, and I got my biggest freelance job to date which included attending a day-long meeting, and I had one other meeting about a different business opportunity and two different repairs on the house, plus a marathon doctor appointment for one kid and the usual schlepping about to lessons and the Olympics ended and the Conventione happened. Oh, and I got sick (twice) and threw out my back (once).
So yeah, it's been a bit of a week.
One thing I learned (over again) from all this is that if I'm not writing all the time I get rusty. Pieces I should have banged out quickly felt like passing stones or something. So when I get busy in the future, I'll try harder to write something, anything, here just to stay fresh. And keeping you all entertained is of course a bonus.
Funny thing is I get nervous about blogging when on deadline. If someone is paying me and sees blogging happening, will they think I should be doing their work? etc. Thus far every job I've gotten has included some vetting by reading the blog. But since I need this to keep my chops (and get the next job, apparently), clients will have to deal.
With all that, I wasn't entirely dormant in blog world. First off, I'm integrating my social media lives, as you can tell from the shiny new widgets, stereo right. The first is links to the three other social networking sites I use, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Below that is a Twitter feed window showing my last n tweets.
As you can see, I've gotten into Twitter quite a bit. The really attentive reader may notice the de.lico.us (which thankfully is just "Delicious" now") widget is gone. I had fallen down on keeping it updated and now if I see a cool article I tweet it. Unfortunately the badge doesn't let you click directly through to the article, you have to click the tweet which takes you to a Twitter page on which the link shows up. Nonetheless, if you see something you like, that's how to get there.
And of course, you can always Follow me. My tweets are about 50/50 original versus replies to others. I realize that seeing the replies here doesn't help much -- hearing half the conversation and all that. So it goes. I'll also warn that the tweets range from substantive to pithy to quotidian. Oh, and that's where most of my snarky one-liners go these days. I will warn you that I've installed a utility that automatically feeds links the posts here. Other people feed their blog to their Twitter and post Twitter on their so I'm taking it on faith that this won't cause rift in the blog-time continuum.
My use of Facebook has evolved over time. Back when candidates started using Facebook and MySpace I started accounts just to see what the candidates were doing. Since I can't do so much as look at MySpace without getting a raft of pornspam friends ("come to my website which has my really fun pics, lol") I've let that go to seed. Meanwhile, old friends keep finding me through Facebook, so that's what I'm using it these days. Up next I'll be posting some family photos so various friends and family can see how the kids are doing. So if you're Friends with me, look for that.
LinkedIn is supposedly the grown-up, get noticed and get work social site. I know people who have gotten work through it, but thus far, nothing for me. Again have hooked up with some old friends though. As for work, nada. We'll keep playing with it to see what happens.
OK, so with that bit of a waggle, hopefully I'm back in the blog game and will try not to leave for days on end again. I've been thinking much about what I want this to be. Probably you will find more local stuff and more policy stuff, and less about the national race. On the other hand, I definitely have some thoughts about the last few days so you never know.
Just as long as it's fun.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will speak before the Akron Press Club (and yr. humble blogger is on the programming committee, but did not arrange this one.) Secretary Brunner will speak Thursday, Sept. 4 at the Martin Center on the University campus. Lunch begins at 11:45.
Details and info on reserving tickets here.
In addition, APC's contribution to the Ohio 16th contest is nearly settled. PolitickerOhio reports that candidates John Boccieri and Kirk Shuring have agreed to three debates, on of which will be co-sponsored by APC and the Bliss Institute. Still a few details to be ironed out.
The Brunner program is up now on the Upcoming badge and subsequent Press Club programs will be added as things get posted on the website.
Craig Simpson is a reporter on the Rubber City Radio stations and a frequent guest on Eric Mansfield's NewsNight Akron. Now he also runs a blog and last week posted about Akron's JCC hosting Maccabi Games, a Jewish youth athletic event. The post is, ah, problematic and Jill pointed it out. In response to comments from Jill and I, Craig says he's only kidding.
Actually, he says he was kidding and that some of his best friends are Jewish and that if anyone is offended, he's sorry. Yes, the Lighten Up crackback, the My Best Friends defense and the If You Were Offended non-apology apology. The three favorites of people who say stupid crap and won't own it. A trifecta of douchebaggery. Well played, sir.
Oh, and he tells me to be a real man. So apparently my offense has to do with my lousy bench press, or something.
We shouldn't have to keep having this conversation, but apparently we must. So here are a few tips for navigating the treacherous straights between effective satire and actually trafficking in hate. And I'll type slowly so even Craig can understand.
First off, people have to know you are kidding. No, really. Because, you see, the reason that these stereotypes are so powerful and destructive is that people actually say them and mean them. And mean harm by them. By this measure Simpson's post fails. He starts off arguing that Jews shouldn't sequester themselves from the rest of society for exclusive activities. This is a stock Limbaughian rant. Without knowing whether Simpson is actually Limbaughian, it's impossible to know that he's kidding.
Then he segues into a bit about what interfaith games might look like. This is painfully unfunny but at least it looks like it's supposed to be funny.
Then the head-snapping last paragraph:
Come on, the Jews have most of the money and run most of the business world…do you REALLY need to rub it in our faces have your own freakin’ Olympics!? Just stick to penny-pinching, lawyering and filling up the upscale communities in America’s suburbs.
I'll wait until you recover from the spasms of laughter.
This, apparently, is where he goes so over the top that he thinks anyone would know he was kidding, Would that it were so. In fact I know intelligent professional people who think think nothing of trafficking in the standard money-grubbing Jew stereotype.
In his defense Craig maintains that his Jewish friends thought this was all Big Laffs. Setting aside the real possibility that his friends were just being abundantly polite to their ignorant but harmless goy friend, this argument still falls. His friends have a context for knowing that he's kidding -- the context of knowing Craig Simpson. Without that context it looks like he started a standard right wing diatribe and in the last paragraph shared too much.
Which brings us to a second problem. If you are going to satirize hateful stereotypes, actually satirize them. Just reiterating them isn't satire. Simpson is engaging in the Andrew Dice Clay method -- pretend to be a bigot by actually sounding like a bigot, but do nothing to make the bigotry sound ridiculous. In the Diceman's case, the satire claim was just window dressing to make his actually bigotry look something close to respectable, but his audience was laughing at the objects of his rants, not with them. In Simpson's case, it just turns out to be not funny, unless you share the actual views he posts.
By the same token, understand that if you are satirizing, you are still trotting out ideas that hurt people. It's a project you should approach with some delicacy.
Finally, if you try this and it doesn't work, admit it. I've worked this line myself -- in the immediately preceding post in fact. It's easy to make a mistake and hurt people. Where I come from, a big part of being a real man is to admit when you've made a mistake. And no, "I'm sorry you were too sensitive to know I was kidding" is not actually an apology, it's an insult.
Looking over Simpson's work, it doesn't look like he has the chops to thread this needle. Stick to sounding smarter that Phil Trexler, Craig. It's about as high as you can aspire to.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Excellent on every level:
So, want to know why I don't post more often. OK, aside from Teh Kids and Teh House and Teh Fits and Starts of The Freelance Business it's because I can't leave well enough alone. This post is just fine with the cartoon and link, but I had to go and Google "Diebold McAfee."
So the "problems" at issue are the vote tabulation problems found in four Ohio counties and subject of a suit brought by Sec of State Jennifer Brunner. The lawsuit, btw, is less a Stolen Election Guy thing than a business transaction thing. If you buy a machine that doesn't work as advertised and have the resources, there are legal avenues at your disposal (but if you are some poor schlump who bought a laptop that keeps blinking out, your are simply in for long waits on the phone to Bangalore.)
So, a fun cartoon and a bunch of additional information that you did not need. All part of the service provided here at Pho's Akron Pages.
Posted by Scott Piepho at Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Kid Z's spontaneous take upon seeing McCain's second "celebrity" ad during the Olympics:
- That's terrible. He shouldn't be allowed to do that. If John McCain wants to be President the ad should say "John McCain would be a good president and here is why." Why does he have to diss Obama?
People shouldn't vote for McCain because he doesn't say why he would be a good president, all he does is diss Obama.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Self-appointed guardian of the vote and stolen election uber-troll Dave Hickman has been spamming the blogosphere again, at least when he's not cozying up to right wing bloggers. He put us on to a Bob Fitrakis post, reproduced here on ProgOH, that supposedly debunks a Dispatch article about how Stolen Election Guy (and in particular Stolen Election Documentarian Guy) is immune to evidence.
The Fitrakis article is mostly the usual collection of dark mutterings, half-truths and apple/orange swaps. But this in particular stood out:
- For example, they [the collective personas of reporter Mark Niquette, apparently] report without embarrassment that the official
response for the highly accurate exit polls being wrong in Ohio - and
so outside the margin of error that it would only happen in one in
959,000 presidential elections - was that "…exit polls are based only
on responses from voters who agree to participate."
The Dispatch's own polls, that they brag about as being highly
accurate, are based on only those who agree to participate.
- Despite Democratic victories in five of six statewide partisan offices, an analysis by the Free Press shows a statistically implausible shift of votes away from the Democratic Party statewide candidates on Election Day, contrasted with the results of the Columbus Dispatch's final poll. The Dispatch poll predicted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland winning with 67% of the vote. His actual percentage was 60%. The odds of this occurring are one in 604 million.
Fitrakis falling back on the Dispatch tracking poll in '06 was the point at which I went from thinking that Fitrakis tended to overclaim his evidence to thinking he's a publicity-happy hack. In arguing that this one tracking poll proved fraud, Fitrakis ignored the results of every other tracking poll, plus the exit polls that reflected the final result. Three problems here. First, his claim of a one in 604 million result based on one poll falls apart when you mix in the other polls. If the Dispatch poll was accurate, and Strickland in fact won by 67 percent, it means that all other polls are wrong, and that wrongness is similarly statistically impossible.
Second problem explains all that. Pollsters offer (to us mortals, anyway) two figures about how reliable the poll is. One is the margin of error. Fitrakis's "calculations" are based on how far out of the MOE a final result is. The other measure, the confidence interval, functions an estimate of the chance that the poll itself is accurate. Usually it's something in the ninties, so for example a 95% confidence interval means a one in twenty chance that the poll is a big pile of hooey. A longshot chance to be sure, but far more likely than one in 604 million. (h/t Redhorse who explained all this in the earlier incarnation of PBD.)
The third and biggest problem is that the "evidence" for fraud in 2006 is the dead opposite of the evidence for 2004. Prior to the '04 election all the tracking polls showed Kerry trailing, though within the MOE. The result matched the tracking polls, but not the exit polls. I'll accept someone arguing that one or the other type of poll is more reliable. But when he flogs the exit polls in '04 and one tracking poll in '06, survey says he has no credibility.
If Fitrakis and his minions stop by, their first response will be that I'm not a polling expert. Exactly. I'm not an expert and I can see the Mack truck-sized holes in his argument. If you want polling experts to explain the exit poll anomaly in '04, start here.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Reuters is reporting that the cable news channel is expanding (it sounds more like decentralizing) its news gathering operation into twenty new cities, including Columbus. From the article, it sounds like this is not a bureau in the traditional sense, but something new and tech-driven:
- CNN will hire a handful of new employees, while reassigning some current employees to new jobs. The goal is to have a mix of traditional network correspondents and what CNN calls "all-platform journalists" or APJs, who gather news using lightweight kits that include laptops, cameras and editing tools for Internet as well as on-air programming in all 20 cities.
Interesting h/t for the story. I've been on Twitter for about a month now. As you stay on the service, media organizations that Twitter begin to "Follow" you basically as a means of proclaiming their existence. Today I got notice that something called CAMediaGuide was following me. Clicking through I found a news aggregator with a horrible design -- a rejected-by-Matt-Drudge level of horrible -- but some useful content. Not interested in California, but more clicking revealed an Ohio Media Guide. Still borderline unreadable on screen, but pretty useful as a Twitterer. So I Followed and got the tweet this afternoon.
It took a long time to warm up to Twitter, but so far it has been a useful tool.
Meet Grace Elizabeth, my new niece:
Congrats to parents K-Pho and Lori. All are doing well. Grace did her best to upstage China's Opening Ceremonies and we got the call on the cell, but didn't meet her until tonight.
As is customary for children in the Family Pho, she is extraordinary.
(Also pictured, Prof. W's left hand and Kid T's right knee)
*And my latest proofreading mistake. Thanks to Team Member in comments.
From BFD we learn why that three Northeast Ohio cities (Cleveland, Canton and Youngstown) and four of the Big Eight (add Dayton) are in Forbes' list of the fastest dying American cities. Setting aside some questions about Forbes' methods or characterization, the list -- and Akron's absence -- is yet another measure of Akron's relative prosperity in a generally depressed region.
Ed Morrison at BFD asks rhetorically what Akron is doing right. John Ettore and Bill Callahan have a good discussion in comments that hits on most of the reasons -- at least those anyone can put a finger on.
Lets start off with what is not the reason. It's certainly nothing to do with a special can-do spirit among Akronites. Talk to folks around here or peruse the comments at Ohiodotcom or listen to a political campaign and you would swear this is the land God gave to Cain. I attribute this in part to a longstanding inferiority complex vis-a-vis Cleveland and in part to the fatalism embedded in Appalachian culture which continues to influence the area long after folks have stoppped coming up from the hollers.
So here's my assessment of what the area has done right, in no particular order. I'm happy to entertain additions and corrections in comments.
First off, seven factors reflecting actual choices made by community leaders:
- A Generally Competent and Functional City Government. Mayor-for-life Don Plusquellec could have been an overbearing tin-pot dictator presiding over a hopelessly corrupt administration. Instead he has been an overbearing tin-pot dictator running a remarkable efficient administration. One example -- Plusquellec spotted the urban budget crunch on the horizon in the late nineties, before any other big city administration in the area did. He kept spending in line and Akron has thus far remained fairly solvent.
- A Generally Competent and Functional County Government. Summit County is the only major county to adopt the charter form of government provided as an option by state law. We have a County Council that provides a measure of representative government to outlying communities and a separate elected executive which provides a level of separation of powers. Any county with a major city will suffer divisions as the suburbs and exurbs resent the 800 pound gorilla. We get plenty of that, but it isn't as bad as some places because county government isn't simply a rubber stamp for the gorilla.
- The Best Urban School System in the State. APS has its challenges, but does urban education as well as anyone in Ohio. The Ellet and Firestone clusters help keep taxpayers living in the city. Boutique schools like Miller South and (soon) the Inventure Place sci/tech school enhance the revenue stream by bringing students in from out of district. APS has also put special programs like Project GRAD into the most challenging schools with some results.
- Development Efforts Have Been Targetted. Aside from the proposed Bass Pro development that ran aground, Akron and Summit generally haven't fallen for the chimera of retail development a la Steelyard Commons. Instead, development efforts have kept employers that provide high-wage jobs with plenty of spillover -- Goodyear world HQ, the Bridgestone research center and Roetzel and Andress's development of the O'Neil's building are prime examples, all using credits and abatements (and in some cases giveaways) to keep high value employers here.
- The U. When I didn't go to Akron U in the Eighties it was a lot like Cleveland State -- an urban commuter school. A succession of Presidents, in cooperation with the city and others -- have transformed it into a real campus. They added an Honors program to attract well-credentialed students and opened or improved on a number of what are now called "centers of excellence." Polymer is the most obvious example, as are two that your humble blogger has direct ties two -- the law school and the Bliss Institute.
- The U, Part II: The Research. U Akron didn't just improve academics, the university also built its research side. And it didn't simply build capacity for basic research, it also leads state universities in translating that research into economic applications. Coming back from Colorado my seat mate was an entrepreneur who started MemPro -- a company that basically buys technology form UA and develops it for commercial application. He has no ties to the area but set up his manufacturing and development operations here because that's where the company's basic research happens.
- Downtown: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. What happens downtown matters. Akron has been blessed with developers who see the value in reusing or repurposing existing buildings. Yr. Humble Blogger is connected with many of them -- Tony Troppe of Historic District fame was a dorm mate in college, I once worked for Paul Perantinides who extended downtown a block north with Courtyard Square and Micheal Owen of Northside and AES fame is a family friend. In addition to private redevelopment, Akron has done some smart shrinking, most notably the Lock 3 project which leveled a block of empty storefronts to create a green public space. As a result, Akron's downtown looks clean, safe and prosperous relative to our NEO neighbors with relatively few of the derelict buildings that make a downtown look like a place to avoid.
- The Difference Between Factories and Business HQs. Akron didn't just have rubber factories, but was home city to an worldwide industry. As a result, even when the factories closed, a number of high-paying jobs in management and research stayed. In addition, the tire industry happens to be particularly research intensive. State Sen. Tom Sawyer brags that our humble tire is in fact one of the most intesively engineered products anywhere. Back when the tire industry sprung up here, no one knew that it would spin off cutting edge materials research, but Akron survives because it did.
- Akron Started Losing Early. Akron began hemorhaging tire factory jobs before Cleveland started losing auto manufacturing and Canton's steel mills started to close. Back when MTB was covering the Ohio 13th primary Scott Bakalar remarked that Akron is a 21st Century city, while Lorain is still thinking 1980s.
- Akron Has a Stronger Residential Base. The conventional wisdom among urban historians is that Cleveland is one of the more unlucky cities in the U.S. in that it became landlocked relatively early in its development. Unlike many major cities, Cleveland's wealthiest neighborhoods didn't develop a large wealthy section within its city limits. Instead, Shaker Heights, Beechwood and so forth incorporated before they could be annexed. Think of Chicago without the Gold Coast, Manhatten without the Upper East Side or San Francisco without The Avenues and you get Cleveland.
Thought it's premature* start talking about Akron+.
*Corrected on edit.
Monday, August 11, 2008
PolitickerOhio reports today that State Sen. Capri Cafaro will be lobbying in Denver to position herself for a run at George Voinovich in 2010:
- At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, keep an eye on the ambitious and affluent Capri Cafaro, who is expected to use the gathering of party insiders, activists and fundraisers as an opportunity to advance her next political move: a race for U.S. Senate in two years against GOP incumbent George Voinovich. A Democratic insider who is close to Cafaro says that the freshman State Senator is giving strong consideration to a statewide bid.
If she runs in 2012, she will do so having not won a contested election and having lost after pouring crazy money into two contests. By accounts she is having a decent run in the State Senate, but until she actually wins an election -- with the requisite becoming likable on the stump -- talk of a Senate run is woefully premature.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
We're back in Ohio, just in time to enjoy the lovely weather you have been keeping to yourselves. Also, the blog seems to be back. I deleted some sidebar code (thanks to Lisa Renee for the tip in comments) which appears to have done the trick.
A few trims and ends.
Last night during Michael Phelps's (first) medal ceremony, the Star Spangled Banner recording was cut off. Prof. W noticed it happened just at the phrase "Land of the free." Yep, we're in China.
NY Times on how the DiMora/Russo scandal could affect Obama in November. The article quotes my friend and colleague Dave Cohen as well as Subodh Chandra and Dr. John Green.
It is literally a cold day in August. Maybe that explains why I agree with Bad American.
The gun control community is reeling from news that a longtime apparent activist was apparently an NRA spy.
Notes on the mortal coil: RIP Bernie Mac and Isaac Hays. Best wishes to Paul Newman and family.
The best of many law blawg posts about the legal implications of the Hamdan verdict.
I'm not doing this. I want to be second to know Obama's VP pick.
Over the week we spent a fair amount of time on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ. One of the cheesy souvenir stores sold signs. Notre Dame Fans Parking only, etc. The no parking signs tried to include a witty line about what would happen to violators. The signmakers missed the boat on the party signs. The violators get punished by the mascots -- people who park in the Democrat stop get "kicked" and violating Republican parking gets you "squashed."
Why not be really political? Why not invoke and/or mock the caricature of each party? Democrat Parking Only: All others will be taxed. Or Republican Parking Only: All others will be water boarded.
Feel free to improve on the effort in comments.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
If you are reading this either you have great patience or the Something Terribly Wrong with the Pages has resolved itself. Apparently for the past few days the blog has developed a hitch in its gitalong, or more specifically its download. I'm used to traffic dropping during downtimes, but we're working at small fractions of where the traffic usually settles.
This may be the push to finally get me off Blogger unless things resolve.
In the meantime, we're heading back to Ohio tomorrow. If things clear up I'll start blogging again. If we are still dealing with two minute downloads and thirty hits a day, I'll probably take more time off.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I got caught last week by Google's errant spamometer and locked for two days. By the time the Pages were unlocked I was busy getting ready for our annual summer beach trek, now in progress. I will have internet access, but time is always tight what with the visiting family and the vigorous lounging such a trip entails. So posting will be light.
In the meantime, enjoy a cool pic of yesterday's sunset snapped in a rest stop parking lot.