Friday, June 27, 2008

No Excuses

Final Tiberi post of the week.

Recently, the Dispatch had an article titled "Drilling Splits Ohio Lawmakers Down Party Lines." In it, the GOP legislators have a bunch of reasonable-sounding quotes and the Dems are mainly represented by somewhat more shrill-sounding quotes. I'm certainly not ruling out some slant in the reporting (check the byline), but it's certainly possible that the difference in tone is intentional on the part of the legislators (one bonobo's shrill is another's Righteous Anger).

On the whole, however, I disagree with the statements made by the GOP on this issue, no matter how reasonably they may be presented. For instance, here's the part about PT:

Likewise, GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi of Genoa Township said drilling should be only part of a strategy that also would incorporate steps such as conservation, increased refinery capacity and alternative energy.

"The answer is not just 'drill, drill, drill'; the answer lies in a combination of many ideas," Tiberi said.

There's a big difference between saying that the answer is not Drill, Drill, Drill, and saying that the answer is not JUST Drill, Drill, Drill. So we disagree on whether DDD is a part of the answer.

The next part sounds reasonable, and seems to summarize the thoughts attributed to him in that first paragraph. But are they really a match? This week John Boehner started an aggressive push to get a bill that he co-sponsored out of committee (h/t Daily Bellwether) called the No More Excuses Energy Act. When I saw that Boehner was pressing for it, I had a pretty good idea that his sidekick Pat would be for it as well. It turns out that PT is indeed another one of the cosponsors of the bill. The summary of that bill seems to be the combination of ideas preferred by folks like Pat:

No More Excuses Energy Act of 2007 - Requires the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations for the taxpayer election to expense the cost of certain refinery property not later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) allow the issuance of tax exempt facility bonds for the financing of domestic use oil refinery facilities; (2) extend through 2018 the tax credit for producing electricity from wind facilities; and (3) allow tax credits for the production of electricity from nuclear energy, natural gas production, and carbon dioxide tertiary injectant processes. (link added)

Requires the President to designate at least 10 sites for oil or natural gas refineries on federal lands and make such sites available to the private sector for construction of refineries.

Prohibits the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from denying an application for nuclear waste disposal on the grounds of present or future insufficient capacity.

Terminates all existing federal laws prohibiting expenditures to conduct oil and natural gas leasing and preleasing activities in the Outer Continental Shelf.

American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act - Directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish and implement a competitive oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain of Alaska.

Repeals the prohibition against producing oil and gas from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Sets forth requirements for the sale of oil and natural gas leases in the Coastal Plain, environmental protection, transportation easements, and royalty payments to Alaska.
Establishes in the Treasury the Coastal Plain Local Government Impact Aid Assistance Fund to assist Alaska jurisdictions that are directly impacted by oil and gas exploration and production in the Coastal Plain.

Out of curiosity, how would Pat feel if the President designated this site as one of the ten new refinery sites? Canton has a refinery on a similar patch. Or perhaps as a temporary' repository for nuclear waste that is created even though everyone knew there was no permanent facility for nuclear waste that would be available? That's a pork project to run on.

So anyway, the combination of ideas that Pat sponsors involves rolling back decades of commitments to protect environmentally sensitive areas in the Alaskan wilderness and off of our beaches, putting refineries and nuclear waste in some as-yet-to-be-determined communities' backyards, handing out tax credits to oil and gas companies in the process, and throwing a bone to windpower but leaving conservation up to volunteers.

Sound reasonable?

Buckeye Punditeers

Maybe you've been thinking to yourself, the last thing the Ohio Blogosphere needs is more people who have been to law school. Or perhaps you think Wide Open and The Point came to exist because you have to pay ideological opposites to share a blog.

But it turns out I'd you'd be wrong.

Two OSU Moritz Law students have started a blog called 'Buckeye Punditeers'. From their inaugural post:

Your hosts are a study in contradictions. A liberal Democrat from Ohio's Bible belt and a moderate Republican from Cuyahoga county, they come together in their love of politics and the law. We seek to bring you an unvarnished view of the political world from our own fiercely held perspectives, and allow you to glean the truth from somewhere in between.

So far the posts are well-written, intelligently put together, and at times pretty funny. As the year goes by and there is more direct engagement between candidates in races up and down the ticket, I imagine that the direct engagement between these guys will be pretty entertaining.

Pardon the Cynicism

Yesterday I posted about coverage of Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Twp., OH-12). This is why:

A few weeks ago, Tiberi is assigned to help head up a small group that is tasked with figuring out why three red districts voted for Dems in special elections, and how to prevent the trend from continuing.

Yesterday, that group discusses their conclusions with GOP house leaders.

The conclusions, as reported by the AP? 'GOP candidates on the ballot in November must show "deep empathy towards the voters" and rely on local rather than national issues...'

Yesterday's coverage of Pat? Two pieces by an intern posted to the Daily Briefing by reporter Jonathan Riskind- One, Tiberi's self-congratulatory statement on his recent commitment to helping foster children and the other his story about a willingness to hunt down missing stimulus checks.

Now, I agree with the working group of Republicans that the Republican 'Brand' is in the toilet, that their conservative themes are not resonating with voters, and the methods they've used to win elections in the recent past are not likely to succeed in close races this year. I completely understand the campaign strategy of making empathetic appeals to voters based on local issues and constituent services while downplaying domestic and foreign policy issues. It really is their best/only hope, and I must admit that cynical empathy beats cynical wedge-driving in terms of the quality of long-term societal impact.

What I do have a problem with, is that while Mr. Tiberi is perfectly entitled to spin his own record and attempt to make himself seem "deeply empathetic" to voters, our news media should not be blithely aiding and abetting naked campaign activity. Mr. Tiberi told his hard-core Republican buddies "This is how you need to campaign," then he talked to media personnel and gave an example of campaign speech, which was then reported as straight news, rather than as campaigning. When this happens to a brand new reporter at a community weekly (or an intern, for that matter), I can certainly forgive them for not realizing right away that they are being used. When their mentors and editors engage in the activity, though, I'm a lot less forgiving.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Somebody Save Jaclyn Cosgrove

Who the heck is Jaclyn Cosgrove? She's a young award winning journalist from Oklahoma. She's beloved by her peers and great things are expected of her. But like many young professionals, she is starting out as an intern. And although interns are often taken advantage of, Ms. Cosgrove seems to have it particularly bad.

You see, Jonathan Riskind has got her writing the fluffy press releases for Pat Tiberi that he normally writes. The pro-puppy statement will be coming soon.

I'm assuming that the blog format of the Daily Briefing doesn't require things like bill titles or numbers, but the foster care bill referred to in that first piece is HR 6307. Pat cosponsored the bill, along with 26 others, about half of whom had cosponsored a similar bill from the same sponsor that was last seen disappearing into committee. Pat didn't cosponsor that version. The current version passed on a voice vote, meaning that simply asking for verbal yeas and nays made it obvious that at least 2/3 of the House supported the bill.

So, Pat recently hopped on a bandwagon, (supposedly) voted just like everyone else did to pass a bill, says it's good for kids without giving many details beyond more federal spending and a preference to keep siblings together, and... This is News.

This is not news. This is free media during a campaign season. Riskind has no credibility when writing about Tiberi, but Jaclyn Cosgrove has a long career ahead of her. It'd be a shame for her to end up in PR instead of journalism.

Robinson Campaign Updates (OH-12)

There's been a little bit of buzz building in the background in the weeks since Obama got the nomination. Overall, the numbers are favoring Democrats across the country in ways similar to the 'wave' election of 2006. In addition, the demographics of the Obama base may make the waves crest in different places this year. For instance, OH-12 is heavily comprised of African-Americans and college-educated whites. These are both groups that tend to favor Obama in greater proportions than they have other Democratic candidates, and turnout is expected to be high. The geeks at Cogitamus did a chart last month shows Pat Tiberi as one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents to an Obama coattail effect.

While the buzz has to do with factors beyond the campaign's control, the activity level within the campaign seems to have ratcheted up several notches in just the last couple of weeks. Robinson's event calendar is looking increasingly packed, including

The oh-so-exclusive House Party on Sunday (if you've read this far, you're invited. Please RSVP),

and the campaign has sent out their first "E-Newsletter" comparing the 'Tiberi Two-Step' on seniors' issues to Robinson's plans to support senior citizens on issues like healthcare (importation and negotiation to reduce drug costs) and retirement security (pension safeguards, protecting Social Security). One of the articles mentions the low ratings given to Mr. Tiberi by a variety of Seniors' groups. What they don't mention is something that I found interesting when I followed up on the info in the newsletter, namely that Mr. Tiberi did, just once, get a positive annual rating from a group on senior citizen issues. It came from a group called RetireSafe. RetireSafe is based in Virginia. Actually, RetireSafe rents a mailbox in Virginia. RetireSafe is part of the 'Council for Government Reform.' This group was formerly named the National Center for Privatization, which helps explain why RetireSafe's number one issue is:

Social Security

* Personal Retirement Accounts allowing individual choice, control and ownership

So, if you're the type of Senior who believes in privatizing Social Security, perhaps Tiberi is actually your guy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Congrats to Bexley Science Team

A team of Bexley students has won the Gold Medal at the Christopher Columbus Awards, a national competition sponsored by the National Science Foundation that asks middle-school students to identify a problem in their community and use the scientific method to devise a potential solution.

As great as this is for them, I probably would have just flagged it for the "eye-catching" list, except that I wanted to bring attention to two things about the coverage of their victory. The first thing is that there is something somewhat special about this team of young scientists. The second is that nobody else seems to think that it is particularly special, which is even more exciting.

If you can't figure it out, I won't hit you over the head with it, but I'm even more glad now than I already was that my daughter will be attending Bexley schools.