Monday, June 26, 2006

Rainy days and Mondays

For the past few months, Amy and I have been tracking the IP addresses of the most active commentors to our blogs, and some interesting patterns have emerged. The most vehement anti-Cox comments aren’t coming from grassroots supporters (as the Taylor camp would like you to believe), but from the Taylor campaign itself. The two IPs consistently linked to 5 identities are registered either to Mark Taylor for Governor or Mark Taylor for Lt. Governor.

But wait there’s more. They even have their own blog. The users kimberlysmith and JennyB trace (via IPs embedded in emails and comment logs), to one of the Taylor IPs. Naughty “girls”. Not that we needed software to figure that one out. No female over the age of 12 would put that many curlicues on anything, and the design and content were completely incongruous from the start.

Is this illegal? I don’t think so. Is it unethical? I don’t know. Is it hypocritical? Yes. It also doesn’t bode well for a potential Taylor run against Perdue if clumsy blogging and goofy videos are what constitute work product at Taylor HQ. Beyond that, it’s dangerous to allow unskilled kids to engage in astroturfing. Let’s face it, if Amy and I can figure this out, anyone can.

We know about 90% of our blog traffic comes from campaign offices, party offices or political junkies. We see the same screen names and IPs pop up repeatedly from blog to blog. This is a very tiny bubble we’re in and (to borrow a phrase from a recent news story), it’s way more aspirational than operational. As much as I’d like to claim otherwise, no one is reading but you, and maybe a few curious reporters. There are no votes here, or on any other blog.

For this reason, I don’t consider this some big revelation or breaking news story. I’m just stating what we’ve all known for a while, even before we had proof.

Even so, I’m not without empathy. This primary has been difficult for everyone. I completely understand the desire to push back against what sometimes seems like wall-to-wall netroots support for Cox. I’m sure it’s been demoralizing at times, and almost impossible to resist responding, especially here. But much has changed in recent weeks as two genuine metro bloggers have turned, not toward Taylor, but away from Cox. And that may be the best Team Taylor can hope for in the way of honest netroots support. Well, that and Andre.

In three short weeks we’ll all be Democrats again, and that can’t happen soon enough for me. When that day finally comes and Amy turns her formidable voice against Perdue, you’ll be glad she’s on your team. Until then, it’s time to focus on your respective campaigns, party duties and real websites (especially you TaylorTroll*). The tone and temperature of comments has spiked lately, and it’s time to give it a rest before real damage is done.

In fairness, I’ve also checked for the Cox HQ IP and have found 4 comments in the last 5 months, none of which mention Taylor. But then, Team Cox learned a hard lesson about IPs a few months back. Apparently Team Taylor is a little slower.

*TT doesn't blog from Taylor HQ, but from an even less appropriate place.


Ed Hula III said...

"wall-to-wall netroots support for Cox"

hmm...I've seen enthusiasm for CC but wall to wall seems somewhat extreme IMO, and let's not kid ourselves, that support has been waning in recent months.

Most importantly, supposing she does have all the netroots support (can we create a different name for that, please? oh and a different name for blog), how effective has the netroots been at getting their nominees elected? Answer: not very.

The reason is that netroots/bloggers (I feel sick now) have far more enthusiasm than normal voters and represent such a fraction of the electorate that it really does not matter.

MelGX said...

I generally agree Ed, but at one point Cox support among the netroots was much stronger than now. After the gay marriage fiasco, we lost some of our best voices.

And yes, as I said, there are no votes here.

Button Gwinnett said...

Amy and Mel, P.I's. ;-) That's good stuff, but as you said actual proof wasn't necessary. The sincere people on the blogosphere are those that are not afraid to be critical of even the candidate that they support. I know it's hard for many of us to be objective. But if you never let ANY objectivity show, then you're revealing yourself to be less than sincere. And frankly, exchanging ideas with those people is just a waste of time. Besides you, Amy, Fall Line, etc. do a fine enough job without me.

And I've pulled back mainly for the reason you just stated. We will all have to be on the same side after July 18th because I don't like the odds of our primary winner prevailing in Nov. at this point. Two months ago, I was very optimistic about Cox's chances to beat Perdue. And she still might. But her campaign is going to have show a lot more focus than it has shown since Brilliant had to leave.

Amy Morton said...

Button: I admit that it is hard to be objective when so much seems to be at stake. And it's tough when my Republican friends are sitting back laughing at us, reveling in the fact that we may fail to nominate their greatest threat. I am trying to imagine the legislation that will flow forth if the Republican machine has it's way. I was talking with someone this morning who said that we all have to realize that we are not facing a Georgia stragtegy- this is a national republican agenda, AKA Rove. If I thought Mark had a prayer against Perdue, I would be his cheerleader right now! But, I will try harder...

Button Gwinnett said...

As you're suggesting, in the end, the name of the game is "Beat Perdue." And I'll dance with the one that the people elect on July 18th. I don't like Mark Taylor. But I care more about improving education, preserving HOPE, and advancing social causes like mental health issues and gay rights than I dislike Taylor. And he'll better represent me than Sonny Perdue will - as his first 4 yours have suggested. So even though I'm solidly in Cox's corner. I am aware of what is to come.

This is not Georgia 1996, it's Georgia 2006. Politically speaking, there's a world of difference in politics now and then. If we care about our issues and if we care about electing Democrats, then we're going to have work together eventually. We're the underdogs now. I'm hoping that the majority of Taylor folks feel the same way.

GetReal said...

As you know, I have been critical of Cox and what I see as this blog's total and complete propoganda on her behalf. If that prompts a post from Amy saying to stay away if I don't like it, fine, I will.

Frankly, I went from being a Cox fan to an opponent before her gay marriage flip flopping, but that incident only confirmed for me why I oppose her. I think what she did in that case is wrong - she told people she had one position to get their money and enthusiasm, and then dumoed it when it started to matter at all.

I'm sure everyone who runs this blog means well, and I have no reason to think that you are anything other than fine people. All I think is that you should ask yourself whether Cox deserves your undying, uncritical, unquestioning support.

Earlier this evening, I saw a story linked on the Columbus newspaper website about Cox's campaign attacking a guy who has sided with Taylor in their battle. Apparently they falsely accused him of committing some sort of crime to try to discredit him. Why would they do that? Even worse, why would she defend that behavior, which she did in that story?

As you know, I disagree that Taylor's use of the newspaper article on the lottery is misleading, much less a "lie." But even if one conceded Amy's point on that matter (which I don't) is that comparable to falsely accusing someone who supports your opponent of a crime? Is that the price we want to put on publically supporting someone's campaign for Governor - that the other side can come out in the newspaper and say you're a criminal, even if it's not true?

And how is someone who does that changing the tone of Georgia politics for the better?

SkylerAkins said...

Nobody doing this is on the Taylor payroll here, so it shouldn't matter. I support Taylor openly, are you going to say that because I may volunteer for the Taylor campaign and sometimes post from a Taylor computer that it is Unethical? The only thing I see unethical here is Cathy Cox's flip-flop behavior on the voter ID bill, gay marriage, and the purchase of Diebold voting machines.

Tina said...

Blogs and other internet stuff may appeal primarily to those of us who are political junkies. The proof will be at the polls and I still maintain that Cox will have a strong populist appeal.