Site Updates

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been performing some updates on the site.

I moved to a new host and am very happy with it, but I also put some maintenance in on a bunch of features including the feeds which are much improved and now includes a comment feed. You’ll also notice the favicon if you bookmark the site and and the feeds include more branding. Also, a bunch of features have been added to each post from Feedburner in each post both on the site and in the feed.
Finally, you can sign up for a daily e-mail with the posts from AP in it down on the right hand column.

So buy some advertising 😉

Navel Gazing

Rich wrote up a nice piece about blogs in both the IL 18 and IL 3 race. It’s hard to think of a more supportive semi-traditional journalist than Rich is with blogs.

Lipinski has strong opposition from Mark Pera in the upcoming Democratic primary. Pera’s cause is being championed by liberal Democratic blogs all over the country, so every local story that trashes Lipinski is put in front of hundreds of thousands of eyeballs that otherwise wouldn’t see them.

As a result, Daily Southtown columnist Kristen McQueary now has a whole lot more fans than she did before the campaign season began. That coverage, in turn, has raised big campaign bucks for Pera when highlighted by the national blogs.

Congressional campaigns aren’t the only races being affected by blogs. A blogger in Lake County (“Team America”) was the first to report concerns about state Sen. Terry Link’s nominating petitions.

Apparently, a couple of dead people “signed” the petitions, as did one of Link’s former Republican opponents. Oops. The seriousness of the situation was overstated, but the local media picked up the story almost right away.

Bloggers in Illinois and nationally are expressing interest in Daniel Biss’ campaign for the Illinois House. Biss faces an uphill race in a district represented by popular Republican incumbent state Rep. Beth Coulson, but he’s raising a ton of cash because he has paid so much attention to online media.

I’m not a blog triumphalist, but I do think they matter and are generally positive.

One aspect of criticism that I find particularly irksome is the argument that blogs are just random people who you cannot trust. Any source of news and information should be viewed with healthy skepticism and blogs are especially susceptible to making errors since there is only one line of review. Me included. That said, many journalists do a very good job, but with the exception of maybe Rich Miller and Aaron Chambers, they cannot give you much on bureaucratic rule making. It’s a fairly detailed area and unless someone has followed a story through it, making heads nor tails of the process is difficult. And many who cover daily politics understand daily politics pretty well, but not so much when it comes down to questions of the State Constitution or federalism issues.

Those aren’t horrible characteristics, they are a natural outgrowth of what they have to specialize for in regards to reporting. On the other hand, I have a fairly good grasp of rule making and federalism at the state level because my area of interest academically is just that area.

In the same way, many reporters are good consumers of polls. Lynn Sweet is a good example as are the two others mentioned above. However, they don’t actually do polling or have the grasp of it that Charles Franklin does at Pollster.com and Politiccal Arithmetik (both linked in the blogroll. Charles is displaying specific work related to his area of research and it’s by far the best accessible way to understand how polls compare to each other and offer a good estimate of the underlying state of public opinion. I’m far less accomplished than Charles, but I do a lot of work on the wording of survey questions and especially a lot on internal validity of instruments. Not many reporters do that.

Obviously Charles and I run very different types of sites. Mine is more personal and aimed at activism, his is more a place to allow his professional work to be accessible. This is true of many types of people though with biologists populating a lot of the evolution blogosphere, economists of all stripes, and lawyers galore–that’s a bit more mixed of a group.
Not everyone with a blog has a particular expertise in what they are blogging about though and that’s okay. Not all reporters have a particular expertise in what they are reporting–I kid–I actually respect most of the Illinois press corps. Those that aren’t the Publisher’s relative at least.

The point being that more information and more views should enhance civic life, not be a danger to it. Sure, there will be bad information from time to time on blogs. Like the stuff that appeared in the NY Times that helped get us into Iraq. Or Bob Novak. Readers get a sense of reliability though and they can determine the quality of information over time. Some sites remain crap, but that crap audience was out there before the internets They even overlook really dumb decisions from time-to-time as long as the proper corrections and apologies take place and lessons learned. Trust me on that one–I know.

Nobody really knows where this is all leading, but it’s obvious that if you want to know the rest of the story about any issue, big or small, you have to go online.

And that’s true, but I think there is every reason to be positive about the future and blogging. Making information more accessible is a good thing and it ultimately means better coverage as more coverage is created and more perspectives come to reporting.

Let’s Review Commenting

It’s fine to post support for someone, but you only get to do it as one identity.  I will delete comments made by the same IP with different identities.  If you change from time to time that isn’t so bad, but in the same day or same thread, not cool.
Second, the only other thing I take very seriously is if a campaign is being dishonest about posting.  If you want to post anonymously–go for it–keep one identity if you do.  But don’t pretend to be a random person when posting from blahblah2008.com.  Just make the point without setting yourself up as some sort of random person who just happen to have heard about Candidate blahblah.
Other than that–your IPs and identities are perfectly safe.

Blogrolls and Stuff

As many of you know Atrios, Markos, and The General all redid their blogrolls and I was eliminated from all three. I kind of expected it and I’m fine with it-Markos says it best with the following:

To me, that’s a slap in the face of every new blog that was added. Rather than celebrate the fact that a whole new generation of blogs gets a little recognition, some (and that doesn’t include most bloggers pulled from the blogroll) apparently had a bizarre sense of entitlement. Everything in a blog is in constant motion. Nothing is static. That’s the beauty of the medium. And now the blogroll will reflect that spirit — constantly evolving as the blogosphere itself changes.

It’s a good thing when blogrolls change–there will be some great new sites to discover.

On Marcotte and Edwards

While it isn’t resolved, Josh Marshall makes the point I’d like to see taken away from this:

Given how edgy blog writing is (some more than others), it seems inevitable that bloggers who go to work for campaigns will get their past writings scrutinized and then have their employers dogged to fire them. If there’s anything that surprises me about this dust-up with the Edwards campaign, it’s this. Is it really possible that they hadn’t figured out who they were hiring, figured something like this would happen and planned for how they would react if and when it did?

That said, the ‘incendiary’ quotes I just heard referenced on CNN didn’t really strike me as all that incendiary. And second, Bill Donohue? Chief rabblerouser and bullyboy of the ‘Catholic League’? Please. I think he gave up his ‘incendiary’ language complaint rights when he said that ” “Hollywood likes anal sex” or that “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.” I can’t wait till he comes with the dig that gets Jews, Christians and anal sex all into one long smoldering sentence.

Please. Please. Please. Let’s get someone on the right to complain who’s not a complete nutball and Jew-basher and then we can talk.

If you are a campaign hiring a blogger you have to do your due diligence and that includes ensuring what they have written is something you can live with. This might entail looking at the writings and insisting on something apologizing for some over the top language/idea, it might be simply getting ready for the inevitable right wing smears, or it might be deciding to go a different direction.

The Edwards campaign could have quashed this days ago and earned points doing it by having Amanda make a statement concerning the posts in question and preemptively dealing with it. When the whines started, it’s a dead story and simply don’t comment on it again. They didn’t and now they have let it languish and build up steam to get on cable news. That’s mismanaging the story and it has a lot in the blogosphere on edge largely because they see it as a betrayal to Amanda. Killing the story would have been easy, but now by being wishy-washy, the story continues taking away from the day’s message and getting coverage for loons on CNN and Fox.

Being prepared means preempting the idiots. But once you screw up, don’t back down.

Interesting FEC case

Via Cal

The FEC ruled against an Illinois Republican Party complaint against the 10th District Blog which claimed it was like the 17th District’s Victory Fund in which campaign operatives funded hard money activities for Lane Evans out of soft money funds.

The difference being a blog is simply a website and the funds went directly from donors to ActBlue to the fund. The web site simply provided a link as to where the funds should go. It’s a really silly complaint and I’m surprised IRP went after them and not others such as AM or me.

It’s pretty simple how this is covered. If the blog owner were taking money and then sending it on directly, the owner would have to register as a committee. If the blog owner was paid by a campaign, that would have be disclosed. Simply posting a suggestion and link to donate money isn’t operating a political committee. Offline this would be like someone who calls around to friends to encourage them to donate to a campaign having to register as a committee.

Why Would You Hire The Law Firm of Peter Francis Geraci When They Don’t Understand Even Basic Law

Apparently because the Illinois Review used the name of the law firm in a post, the Law Firm of Peter Francis Geraci warned them to stop using the name as it is trademarked.

Never hire the Law Firm of Peter Francis Geraci because that’s a really stupid interpretation of the law. Greg lays it out pretty well.

You can also use your trademarked name for comparing two products or as a parody. For example, to say that you are a poor firm compared to Dowe, Cheatem & How is legal. To say that you are better than they is also legal. It’s appropriate to report on the law firm of Peter Francis Geraci in conjunction with employees or partners making campaign contributions or for that matter not making campaign contributions. We can also say, for example, that last year’s bankrupcty reforms were a good thing for firms such as Peter Francis Geraci, or we can say it was a bad thing for firms such as Perter Francis Geraci. We can also say, Nike, Proctor & Gamble, Exxon and any other number trade names all damn day and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Mr. Stoolmaker, with the number hits on blogs and their power to shape news, break stories you do your brand identity no good by threatening political activists engaged in political speech. It’s the kind of thing that can make you infamous in a hurry.

Actually, he has pulled off something–getting me to defend the Illinois Review. We’d call that cats and dogs living together in Ghostbusters’ terminology.

The ultimate outcome of this ridiculous claim is that anyone seeking to hire the Law Firm of Peter Francis Geraci now knows that they are incompetent lawyers. Congratulations.

Blogospheric Navel Gazing

Harkening back to the good old days of the great delink wars of 2002, TNR decided to suggest Kos is somehow controlling the blogosphere.

Because herding cats is so much fun.

I’m not on Townhouse so I can’t shed much light on all of this other than to say that coordinating message amongst activists is nothing new and is one of the true weaknesses Democratic activists have.

For those who don’t understand Markos’ reaction, essentially TNR is attacking him for offering a suggestion as to how to coordinate that message and found the Advertising Liberally as some sort of leverage he exerts. The problem with that is some of the Members of Advertising Liberally can’t stand Markos and go out of their way to tweak him fairly often.

More to the point, it’s not so bad that TNR takes on Markos for his message, it’s the assanine attack that he, by coordinating message with other activist journalists, is influencing content through financial control.

Zengerle’s bullshit line is here in a later post

From these e-mails, it appears there was a good amount of concern among liberal bloggers about the Armstrong SEC story and the allegations of “pay for play” against Kos and Armstrong, and some of these bloggers wanted to address these issues forthrightly. And, yet, after Kos subsequently wrote the e-mail quoted in my original post asking the bloggers to “ignore” the story in order to “starve of it oxygen,” there was virtual silence in the liberal blogosphere about it. That, to me at least, suggests that Kos does indeed have a good deal of influence over what other liberal bloggers write.

Or perhaps because it didn’t become a big issue on the blogs, and it’s only a side issue even now. Who goes out of their way to report on a problem with a friend or ally? Sometimes, but it isn’t that frequent. Given not much information is known about the subject, it’s kind of hard to write much about it. Either the non-partisan press or the opposition makes it an issue and barring a big blogburst on the subject why would someone on Townhouse write about it? Assuming malice when the more likely answer is there was no reason to highlight Jerome’s problem is silly.

I know that in discussions regarding Advertising Liberally, when Chris Bowers set out some basic network standards, there were a couple bloggers who had grand conspiracy claims about what Jerome, Chris, and Markos were doing (Chris did it, Markos just argued for the changes). It was silly. This is the same thing.

Markos’ response goes a bit off the rails because he is talking primarily to people who understand the entire context and the frustration with TNR over it trying to tear apart burgeoning infrastructure with this kind of crap. It’s not that TNR criticizes the ideas coming out of the blogosphere, it’s that it attempts silly ad hominen attacks. In one sense, everyone is talking past one another, but I’ll put most of the blame on TNR for not even trying to understand the language.

I’m going back to my rolling waves of nausea, but I was a bit annoyed reading all of this.