Patterico's Pontifications

1/26/2010

Incumbent Trails in Ohio Governor’s Race

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 11:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s early yet but Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, trails former GOP Rep. John Kasich 51-45:

“A new poll out of Ohio, which is called the Buckeye State but is really a political keystone state in this year’s midterm election and beyond — waves a large flag about Democratic hopes to hold the governor’s office.

Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, like many incumbents across the country, is sliding into deep trouble when racked up against his Republican opponent, former Ohio congressman John Kasich.

According to the Ohio Newspaper Poll as published in the Dayton Daily News, Kasich currently leads Strickland 51-45.”

Strickland won the Governorship 4 years ago with about 61% of the vote, but the declining Ohio economy and 10% unemployment is taking a toll with voters. That’s likely why Governor Strickland vowed to “move heaven and earth” to heal the Ohio economy in Tuesday’s State of the State speech.

– DRJ

Cheers to the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:10 pm

Not just for starting the Ellie Light investigation; or for finally getting an admission from Winston Steward that he is Ellie Light. Also for being willing to credit a blog for its part:

Plain Dealer Gives Credit

Indeed, you saw the name Winston Steward here first. But how many times has Big Media taken work done by others and claimed it as their own?

Classy behavior. Kudos. (I wish I could say the same for Gawker, which lifted this information and passed it off as its own.)

Speaking of the real credit, that goes to reader Joseph D., who did the sleuthing. Even as Ben Smith thought Michael Smerconish had found the real Ellie Light because he was able to talk to a real person with a real voice, Joseph D. had it figured out.

After my post this morning, Big Journalism interviewed Joseph D. Nice piece. Go read it.

Ellie Light Is Winston Steward — His First Follow on Twitter: the President of a D.C. Public Relations Firm

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 pm

A name which you first read on this blog this morning, thanks to reader Joseph D, whom I quoted as saying:

The corresponding twitter account has one friend, Jerry Schaefer, from Long Beach, California (the same town as some of Ellie’s claimed residences.) Jerry’s facebook showed one friend named Winston, Winston Steward. Under Winston’s friends, Barbara Brooks claims to be his wife and that he is Ellie Light.

Looks like Joseph D. was spot on. Winston Steward is a Kos Kiddie — see one of his diaries here. (H/t SarahW, who has been sharp on this.)

And the first person he followed on Twitter is the president of a D.C. based public relations firm. An expert on outreach to Hispanic voters, who is writing a book chapter that will touch on Obama’s (and McCain’s) Latino outreach strategies.

As Allah says, it’s a little bit freaky and a whole lot deaky.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

Ellie Light, the ubiquitous letter writer whose name appeared in newspapers nationwide praising President Barack Obama, appears to really be a male health care worker from California.

A man who identified himself as Winston Steward, 51, of Frazier Park, Calif., says he made up the name “Ellie Light” to protect himself from criticism and possible physical attacks, and used fake addresses across the country to get local newspapers to publish his letters.

“I am Winston Steward and have been sending the letters from Ellie Light,” he told The Plain Dealer in an e-mail late Tuesday, following a phone interview in which he said the same. “I hope this ends any confusion and sets the record straight.”

Steward
Ellie Light aka Winston Steward

Oh, it’s crystal clear! This guy called Michael Smerconish and pretended to be a woman whose real name is Ellie Light. And has a geeky enough voice that he could pass for a woman. What could be clearer?

One interesting fact that ties into observations made by Dan Riehl over the weekend: the first friend on Winston’s Twitter account is the president of a Washington, D.C. public relations firm.

Ehhh, it’s probably nothing. But let’s toss it out there anyway.

It all started with a tip to Dan Riehl and me from LeftCoastRebel. Let me turn over the mike to Dan Riehl, who told us Sunday:

If information I’ve been given is correct, there is circumstantial evidence linking now infamous letter writer Ellie Light to an international public relations firm involved with the White House in helping to promote health care reform.

Left Coast Rebel made me aware of a comment left on his blog by someone claiming to be Ellie Light. The comment was left by someone using the screen name Winston44. In searching out that name, I found a Twitter account under it that has barely been used.

That account is here. It is definitely Winston Steward’s account. It’s not just the name Winston that cinches it. Looking at a list of who Winston44 follows on Twitter, we see that he follows the Chillicothe Gazette, and also jerryschaefer from Long Beach:

Jerry Schaefer 1

Now look at a list of Winston Steward’s Facebook friends. One is also Jerry Schaefer:

Jerry Schaefer 2

(By the way, Winston Steward claims to be from Frazier Park, CA. That’s near some of the papers Ellie Light wrote to. But, interestingly, Ellie Light signed some letters as being from Long Beach. Jerry Schaefer is from Long Beach. There is an Eleanor Light in Long Beach. And I know the area code of the phone number that Lileks used to call “Ellie Light” and it’s a Long Beach area code.)

Now here’s the kicker: Winston’s very first Twitter friend was a P.R. flack. Again, back to Dan Riehl:

The account has never tweeted and follows 18 individuals, with 9 following it. Given that we usually add people we know when we first open a Twitter account, I looked to see who the first individual was that Winston44 added. That would be Adam Segal.

Adam J. Segal, President, The 2050 Group, LLC + Named to PR Week’s 40 Under 40 for 2009.

His firm is The 2050 Group.

Here’s a shot from their Web site:

Adam Segal

Is the 2050 Group connected to Obama? Dan found a link, albeit nothing that firm:

What [Segal] is, or was involved with is the National Alliance for Hispanic Health Care. And this press release puts them in the White House, Google shows them to be supportive of Obama, particularly his health care reform agenda – and the release also establishes Segal as the media contact.

This is hardly conclusive stuff at this point. Tonight I noticed this description of Segal at his firm’s Web site:

With a decade of public relations and marketing experience, Adam J. Segal has become one of the nation’s most accomplished young executives.

In his work for corporate, non-profit and political clients throughout the past decade, Adam has advised clients on, and developed, branding and advertising campaigns across a wide range of media formats including print, television, radio, Internet, and outdoor. His work has reached hundreds of millions of people across the United States and around the world.

Impressive. Why was he the first person that Winston Steward followed on Twitter? Moving on with the description of Segal:

Adam is a Faculty Lecturer in the Master’s of Arts in Communication program at Johns Hopkins University’s Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Advanced Academic Programs. He teaches two cutting-edge courses he designed:

• Internet Strategies: he has taught dozens of students how to change the way organizations think about the Internet and use emerging technology and tools to grow

. . . .

He founded and directs the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University. . . . And he is currently at work on a book chapter on the Hispanic voter outreach efforts of 2008 presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

Now. I have no idea whether Segal knows Winston Steward. I don’t know everyone who follows me on Twitter. This could all be a total dead end. In fact, at this very moment, I’m inclined to say it is, and that Winston Steward is just a kook.

At this point we know only one thing: Winston Steward is a huge liar. Why is he lying? Because he fears threats from the right wing? (Which, as should be obvious, nobody should level.) Because he is hiding a connection to a P.R. firm? Because he has a screw loose? (Or several?) I have no idea.

But there’s no harm in throwing this all out there for you to peruse. That’s the idea of the open source method.

UPDATE: SarahW reminds of something she mentioned before, the significance of which was lost on me before: another of Winston’s 15 Facebook friends is named Ellie. And what does she do for a living?

President of a Washington, D.C. public relations firm.

Projected $1.35T Federal Deficit

Filed under: Economics,Government — DRJ @ 5:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

USA Today:

“The budget deficits facing Obama and Congress are large and intractable, and the CBO prediction for 2010 is roughly equal to last year’s record $1.4 trillion ocean of red ink. That means the government is borrowing to cover 40% of the cost of its programs.”

The CBO also forecasts continued high unemployment and a slow economic recovery.

– DRJ

The Tebow Super Bowl Ad

Filed under: Abortion,Sports — DRJ @ 4:31 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Super Bowl XLIV pits Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. It’s scheduled for February 7, 2010, so the famous Super Bowl ads haven’t even aired yet, but there will be added interest this year — especially from abortion advocates and their pro-life opponents — because of the Tebow ad:

“The 30-second spot, paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow’s turbulent pregnancy in 1987:

When Tebow suffered from a dangerous infection during a mission trip to the Philippines, doctors recommended that she terminate her pregnancy, fearing she might die in childbirth. But she carried Tim to term, and he went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy and guide the Florida Gators to two BCS championships.

It’s a happy story with an inspirational ending, but pro-choice critics say Focus on the Family should not be allowed to air the commercial because it advocates on behalf of a divisive issue and threatens to “throw women under the bus.”

The Women’s Media Center, the National Organization for Women, and other abortion groups have initiated an online petition and letter-writing campaign asking CBS to pull the ad as too controversial:

“Greene, of the Women’s Media Center, says CBS should simply follow its own example and ban advocacy ads from its airwaves.

“CBS has a very long history of prohibiting advocacy ads that it deems controversial,” she said, listing banned commercials from PETA, MoveOn.org and the United Church of Christ. “We are calling them out for the hypocrisy and bias in making the decision to air an ad that clearly is on a controversial issue.”

Reportedly CBS is “not backing down,” releasing a statement that says, “At CBS, our standards and practices process continues to adhere to a process that ensures all ads — on all sides of an issue — are appropriate for air.”

– DRJ

James O’Keefe Arrested

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:24 pm

For allegedly attempting to bug Mary Landrieu’s office. [UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION: Now that I have read the FBI affidavit, and looked at the linked story again, I see there is no accusation of an attempt to "bug" the office. The accusation is an attempt to "tamper" or "interfere with" the phones.]

Thanks to Neo.

UPDATE: This should go without saying, but: while I have admired O’Keefe’s work, and have defended him against unfair attacks, the activity he is accused of is illegal and wrong. I won’t declare him guilty without hearing his side. But if he did do it, there is no defending it.

The worst part is that ACORN claims this as some kind of vindication, which is absurd. I believe they have released the full audio of all the ACORN encounters. Those people hung themselves, and this has nothing whatsoever to do with that.

Andrew Breitbart was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt about this. The transcript is here. He says he knew nothing about this. I believe him and I agree with Hugh that it’s slanderous to maintain otherwise.

UPDATE x2: It might also be worth noting a theory that makes sense to me. Allahpundit says the defense “would likely be that they never really intended to tap any phones but were simply trying to show how easy it would be to do so.” Doesn’t that ring true?

Allahpundit quotes a story that says:

An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator’s offices.

Yes, but my immediate reaction is one that Allah points out in an update: “it’s possible that it was linked up to a mic on O’Keefe or one of the two fake repairmen, not to some bug that was meant to be planted in Landrieu’s phone.”

She’s on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Wouldn’t it be bad if it were easy to bug her phone?

UPDATE x3: OK, final word. I’m sticking out my neck and declaring that I think this will prove to be a big nothing.

I just don’t believe this guy was wiretapping phones or trying to do so. I really don’t.

It might not even have been an attempt to show how easy it would be to bug phones. Maybe there is another explanation. But I don’t think he was acting in a criminal fashion. I don’t.

You can quote me.

UPDATE x4: I lied when I said that was the final word.

I don’t know why I’m linking this. Sometimes, we bloggers, we link things. That’s what we do.

Ellie Light Revealed — and Then Revealed Again!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:16 am

Michael Smerconish spoke to someone claiming to be Ellie Light. Ben Smith has the audio.

The person claiming to be Light admits deception in representing her address, and places herself in Southern California (presumably Long Beach, the residence she claimed in several of the letters). She says she’s a traveling nurse who submitted it to newspapers in many places she has been to. That is consistent with the IP address that we traced to Huntington Beach — which is close enough to Long Beach for IP purposes.

I don’t know that I’m convinced. She stumbles on the name of “Ben Smith’s blog” where her letter was initially published. (It’s Politico. Would she not know that?)

Complicating matters is that a second person is stepping forward and “admitting” to be Ellie Light . . . or, at least, Ellie Light’s spouse.

Someone on Facebook named Barbara Brooks (a pediatric nurse) claims that Ellie Light is . . . her husband. She writes on her Wall:

Don’t think you can make a difference? Well, my husband wrote letters to newspapers under a pen name “Ellie Light” and over 42 newspapers published the letters and now Ellie Light is the most searched name on google. I don’t agree with using phony names, though. But then he isn’t a Mennonite . . .

The same comment was left on Left Coast Rebel yesterday at about the same time.

Reader Joseph D. e-mails with a complicated chain of evidence linking her to an earlier comment left at Left Coast Rebel’s blog, under the screenname Winston44. Joseph D. says:

The corresponding twitter account has one friend, Jerry Schaefer, from Long Beach, California (the same town as some of Ellie’s claimed residences.) Jerry’s facebook showed one friend named Winston, Winston Steward. Under Winston’s friends, Barbara Brooks claims to be his wife and that he is Ellie Light.

For more background on this angle, see Dan Riehl, who discusses a link with an Adam Segal of the 2050 Group.

I have to go to work and I honestly don’t know what to make of any of this. The Smerconish interview may well be with the real “Ellie Light” — but assume nothing. Ellie still has a few questions to answer, I think.

And again, keep your eye on the ball. Don’t get carried away with focusing on a single person. This isn’t about one person, but about identifying deception generally.

UPDATE: Looks like Joseph D. and Dan Riehl were onto something. Maybe.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer tells us that Ellie has been identified. She is a nice old grandma type who made a little mistake. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Except . . .

Except that they have an update which reads:

UPDATE: The Plain Dealer has now talked to two different people claiming to be Barbara Brooks. One says the real Ellie Light is her husband; the other, husky-voiced, says she’s divorced. The story below was posted based on an interview with the husky-voiced version.

You thought that was weird? You haven’t seen weird.

Now we get to the strangest part of all. Gawker picks up on the Facebook page entry by Barbara Brooks, mentioned above, in this post.

And then it gets bizarre. Brooks says the Ellie Light on Smerconish’s show was her ex-husband. Who sounds, according to her, like a woman. (?!?!)

Meanwhile, Gawker says, there is another Ellie Light sending around her phone number.

I called it this morning, after receiving it indirectly, and invited her to lunch.

No response.

Stay tuned!

Two Unrelated Stories

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 1:48 am

A poorly monitored parolee (allegedly) commits a violent murder:

A 17-year-old girl killed last July, allegedly by a transient parolee, had bite marks to her face and ear and had injuries all over her body showing she violently struggled with her attacker, a coroner’s official testified Monday.

. . . .

[Defendant Charles] Samuel had been permitted to leave for the day from a residential drug-treatment facility on the day of the killing.

And California launches its plan to relax monitoring of parolees, to deal with prison overcrowding:

State prison authorities Monday began reducing the number of parole violators sent back behind bars and offering inmates more opportunity to shorten their sentences, as part of a plan to decrease the prison population by 6,500 inmates over the next year.

Low-risk offenders, including those convicted of nonviolent crimes, will not have regular supervision by a parole agent. And they will no longer be returned to prison for technical violations such as alcohol use, missed drug tests or failure to notify the state of an address change.

What could possibly go worng?

Making Mark Sanford Look Good

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 1:45 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Newser quips Mark Sanford is no longer the most embarrassing politician in South Carolina now that his Lt. Gov., Andre Bauer, compared government assistance to the poor to “feeding stray animals:”

“Mark Sanford is no longer the most embarrassing politician in South Carolina: His lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer, is in hot water after comparing government assistance for the poor to “feeding stray animals.” Said Bauer, who is running to succeed Sanford as governor: “You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.”

Bauer subsequently issued an explanation and expressed regret, sort of:

“In a phone interview, Bauer said he regretted the remarks “because now it’s being used as an analogy, not a metaphor.

“Do I regret it? Sure I do. I wouldn’t have to be taking this heat otherwise.”

In a speech at a town hall meeting in the Upstate, Bauer revisited instructions he said his grandmother had given him when he was a small child. Bauer said his grandmother, who was not highly educated, had told him to stop feeding stray animals.

“You know why?” he asked. “Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a human ample food supply.”

Bauer, 40, later said his intent was to explain the government is “breeding a culture of dependency” with its social program, which he said has grown out of control and “amounts to little more than socialism, paid for by hardworking, tax-paying families … against their wishes.”

– DRJ


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