Maybe all the teams should move to LA

The Rams are moving back to Los Angeles. The Chargers and Raiders want to move to L.A., too. Ron burgundy’s hometown could lose its football team, but might coax the ruffians from Oakland down to the southern end of the state. As the teams play musical chairs, local governments are trying to figure out what they’ll have to pony up for new stadiums.

Got all that? Me neither. Luckily, my old pal Vince Vasquez helps me figure it all out on this week’s Crummy Little Podcast.

Two lessons from last week about online campaigning

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, Campaign Season 2010 is about to hit high gear.  With that, candidates who hadn’t built out their web presence are going to put the foot on the gas.  At this point, that probably applies more to local and state candidates than candidates for most state or federal offices – campaigns where it can be intimidating to put together a robust online campaign.  I recently spoke with a consultant for a state candidate who had just launched a Facebook page.  The campaign was somewhat nervous about the launch for two reasons: 1) the page was still a bit light on content and 2) by its nature, the page would allow the campaign’s organized opponents to post negative comments.

These are both legitimate concerns, but they have legitimate answers.  Some high profile stories from the last week illustrate how to deal with them:

1. When it comes to content, don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

As the Mark Critz campaign made clear, websites and other online presences aren’t static media.  Just as a simple website can expand to include more sections and content, a Facebook page can expand with more wall posts, pictures, videos, or other pieces.

In fact, a phased strategy has an important benefit: with each addition, the campaign can reach out to supporters again with a fresh, relevant message.  On Facebook, this is even more pronounced.  If you join a Facebook page that already has all the content it’s going to have, it becomes easier to forget.  If you join a Facebook page that constantly adds content, you are more likely to see it in your news feed, and possibly visit the site and take some sort of action.  (Which would, in turn, show up in your friends’ feed, and give the campaign further exposure.)

Too many online campaigns fail to understand that a website or social network profile isn’t like a television or radio advertisement – while some seed content is important, adding more content later can actually work to their advantage.

2.  Censoring negative comments gives them more legitimacy than answering them.

Back in good old Pennsylvania, gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett got into a bit of a row with some anonymous Twitterers and issued a subpoena to Twitter calling for their identities.  In doing so, he appeared to be legitimizing his critics through a ham-fisted attempt at censorship.

On any campaign’s Facebook page, there will be detractors who put their mark on every single post.  By smartly building an active and engaged base, a campaign can create a community which will answer this criticism with supportive speech.  There are also opportunities to directly engage the folks who make these comments in a public square – they don’t get to post to your campaign’s wall in a vacuum, after all.

If your campaign is not effective at answering critics directly, Facebook may be the wrong place to be.  But then again, if your campaign can’t answer legitimate questions, electoral politics may also be a bad choice.

Eight-year-olds, Dude

Erick Erickson of Redstate reports on a county council race in Ohio that features candidate Tim Russo.  The twist: Russo was arrested and convicted in 2001 on charges of soliciting minors for sex – turned out, the minor was actually an undercover FBI agent.

But Russo has an ardent defender in blogger Howie Klein.  Klein calls the 2001 incident “the most boring episode of To Catch a Predator ever” in a cross-posting at both DownWithTyranny and The Huffington Post:

Easily the most reactionary pope since Hitler’s boy Pio, Ratzinger didn’t have a problem with priests raping young boys– as long as they stuck with conservative dogma. When he ran the Munich diocese that was also the birthplace and heartland of the Nazism that he once fully and openly embraced, the future Pope had hundreds of child rapists and mentally unbalanced priests in his ranks and he never said a word beyond, “don’t get caught, boys.”

My mistake – that last paragraph was Klein criticizing the Pope and the Catholic Church for covering up instances of adults taking advantage of minors.  It was written way back in those simple times of late March 2010.

Of course, Klein has a point – no matter how much you agree with someone philosophically, if they do something wrong that has consequences.  Unless, apparently, it’s a political candidate Klein supports:

Russo has the sort of leadership experience Cuyahoga County desperately needs at this dangerous, hopeful crossroads. But local media are doing their best to scuttle his campaign before it really begins. Why? Because in November 2001 he solicited sex from an FBI agent posing online as a minor and was made Pervert of the Day for an entire 24-hour news cycle. Local media want him to pay for that for the rest of his life.

Clearly, Russo has paid for his crimes, but there are a few mistakes which you simply can’t pay off – and soliciting minors for sex is one of them. As Edwin Edwards famously quipped, the scandals which end political careers are getting caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.

Russo has compounded his crime with his own words, sounding more defiant than understanding of the reluctance to embrace him.  “Bottom line, I survived it. Many would not have. That should tell you all you need to know,” he writes – just before asking for donations.

“Who wants Google in Minnesota? Me, Al Franken.”

Sen. Al Franken is pushing for Google to come to Duluth, Minnesota and wire the whole place for internet.  It’s just one of many examples of cities begging Google to come and save them from choppy YouTube videos.

As the FCC debates broadband expansion plans that are beginning to sound like entitlement programs, Google is showing that acting in their own self-interest can have a public benefit:

Google makes its money connecting people with data and showing them ads along the way. Anything that increases the number of people on the internet and the amount of data they seek is good for the company. On most ISPs, YouTube videos can stutter or stop due to low connection speeds, even from “high-speed” providers. One way or another, Google seeks to quicken the net by connecting cities to high-speed fiber optic lines that transmit data with modulated light (updated) rather than the wire-based electrons employed by most ISPs (fiber-optic Verizon Fios [sic] excepted).

That said, these municipalities should remain vigilant.  No matter how free the broadband is, there are legitimate concerns about Google’s privacy record.