Thursday, March 4, 2010

Did Vaugh Plagiarize Doheny or did Doheny Plagiarize Vaugh?

File this post under the "you can't make this stuff up" bookmark because it is bizarre. Read the two statements below from Nick Vaugh, running for the 118th Assembly district, and Matt Doheny, running for the 23rd congressional seat held by Bill Owens, and then tell me someone isn't plagiarizing.

Nick Vaugh's Fundraising Appeal to Republicans Posted on on March 4, 2010:

"I owe my values and success to my family. My mother and father along with my grandfather taught me firsthand the dignity of hard work, the sanctity of family, and the value of service to the community. It is with these values that I seek your assistance in representing the citizens of the 118th Assembly District and the rest of New York. It is with these values and experience I will aggressively work to create an economic environment in which businesses and families can thrive."

Matt Doheny's Letter to Local Republican Committee Members Dated January 21, 2010:

"The value of hard work in the North Country, the sanctity of family and the importance of service to the community was passed down to Matt at a young age directly from his parents. It is these values and the values that he learned from his work in the private sector that Matt will use to represent the citizens of the 23rd Congressional District."

These two paragraphs sound like outright plagiarism to us. And it appears that either Vaugh and Doheny are brothers, or one of them copied the other's campaign materials. Notice the terms that are intimately woven into each candidate's perspective biographies, words like: values, hard work, sanctity of family and service to the community. This could create a major problem for each candidate and they need to be honest with the voters about their backgrounds instead of spouting off vague, cookie-cutter generalizations and near verbatim wording. The website Famous sums the seriousness of this political foul on their site:
"A proven accusation of plagiarism can have serious repercussions for a candidate's political ambitions. Just ask Joe Biden. His borrowing of a British politician's campaign speech is perhaps the most famous instance of political plagiarism... This P-word sums up a number of qualities with which no successful politician would want to be assocaited: in-authentic, shortsighted, manipulable (by speechwriters), dishonest, criminal, deceitful, and so on... And if the plagiarism charges stick, the accused is forever tainted, corrupted, and sullied with the justly deserved stigma surrounding such reprehensible behavior. Even if the speechwriter is the real culprit! ["Your speechwriter did it?--yeah, right."]"
And there is a precedent for plagiarism among North Country politicians that never goes over well. Remember when Darrel Aubertine plagiarized a bill that his colleague, State Senator Elizabeth Little, wrote last year? A few weeks after Little had submitted a bill in early 2009 to regulate block-voting rights among co-ops in the New York milk market, Aubertine introduced near similar language amending the state agriculture and markets law. In a classic response to Aubertine, Senator Little took to the floor of the State Senate and said Aubertine's bill was essentially something she could support because she had already introduced it (the video can be found at the end of this post in case you missed the exchange). You may also remember this second instance of plagiarism by Aubertine reported by the Gouverneur Times.

The reason why today's instance of political plagiarism is particularly offensive is because each candidate involved in this scandal used language to describe the values and character they inherited from each of their respective families. It is fine to talk about your core values on the campaign trail and in your written correspondence, but in doing so you should never resort to copying another politician's rhetoric. Beyond sounding unoriginal, it raises questions about one's ethics and personal competence. And to borrow unoriginal language about the values handed down to you by your parents is just lame and embarrassing.

Voters expect candidates to be open and honest about their backgrounds. And this violation raises larger questions for each candidate because it is a safe bet that neither Doheny nor Vaugh will want to be associated with Democratic State Senator Darrel Aubertine for plagiarizing. Will Vaugh and Doheny clear the air with a public statement, an explanation or an apology?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Winners and Losers

We felt like it would be fun to point out some of our recent winners and losers in New York State politics over the last several days. We hope many of our readers will concur with our assessments. Feel free to add others to either category in the comments section, or debate why we are wrong in our analysis.

Biggest Losers:

Governor David Paterson - Putting Tiger Woods aside, we don't think anyone can deny that this guy wins the gold medal for the biggest loser. Our 55th Governor of the State of New York has racked up a long list of stupidness: pending ethics violations over accepting World Series tickets, covering up sexual abuse scandal with state resources and direct calls to police to save his body man, rumors of various affairs including one with a state employee that he admitted when he first came to office, proposed tax increases on all sorts of goodies, appointing Kirsten Gillibrand to a US Senate seat and a general gross mismanagement of the state's runaway budget deficit. Paterson's story is playing out like a bad scene from the Jersey Shore. Good riddance.

Congressman Eric Massa- Rumors are abound that the House ethics committee will investigate whether Massa had sexually abused a male staffer and will be retiring at the end of 2010. Just wait for the attack dogs and Democratic colleagues alike to call for his resignation. A special election like the one in New York 23 might be just around the corner.

Congressman Charlie Rangel - Rangel is caught up in some compromising ethics violation(s). Politico reported that, "the catalyst for Rangel's removal came last week, when the ethics committee ruled that he had broken House gift rules by accepting corporate-sponsored travel to the Caribbean." He has now lost his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee that writes tax policy after serving the House for 39 years. Is there anymore to say about that? Owens is counting his lucky starts that he didn't have to vote on removing Rangel of his chairmanship.

New York State Democrats - How many Democratic Governors can New York blow through without looking ridiculous? Spitzer, Paterson, State Senator Monserrate, Massa and Rangel have seriously damaged the party brand in New York. Are these leaders a reflection of the Democratic party as a whole? The budget is a mess, taxes are high, businesses are moving out of state, party leaders getting greedy and Harold Ford said he got out of the primary race because the party in New York State Democrats aren't strong enough to deal with the pressure and still win. All bets are off in 2010.

Congressman Bill Owens - Our new representative is talking about jobs recently, but he is about to lose his own for voting for socialized medicine that includes all sorts of perverse carve-outs for other states, increased taxes and cuts to Medicare. If he flip-flops on the health care vote he will discourage his base of Democrat supporters. If he votes for it he loses the election to whatever candidate(s) that run against him. It is a tough spot to be in, but Pelosi and Obama are the ones who got him to Washington and he owes it to them. Ironically, Pelosi and Obama, the same people who got Owens elected, are the same people who are going to get him run out of office.

Assemblyman Will Barclay - His campaign will not answer our questions and the candidate is not being open with the public. Michael Baucus of the Barclay campaign responded to an e-mail request to get 3-5 of our 20 questions answered with this lame response: "Will Barclay would be more than pleased to answer each of those twenty questions if he becomes a candidate for Congress. If you live in the 23rd Congressional District, all you have to do is attend any scheduled candidates debate, stand up, identify yourself and state your question. Will Barclay would, of course, afford any district voter the same opportunity." So for our readers -- feel free to ask your questions when you see Barclay on the campaign trail. But good luck getting your questions answered.

Mayor Jeff Graham - If Mort Zukerman had given up control of his media empire to run for US Senate, Jeff Graham could have made a quick move to cut into the media mogul's huge national market. Graham is still doing well with his blog and radio show. But had Zukerman officially gotten into the race, Graham could have capitalized and made it big.

USA Men's Olympic Hockey Team - Team USA were the underdogs, no doubt. We played hard but only got the silver medal -- unfortunately, second place is the first loser. And you lost to Canada!

The Watertown Daily Times - The Times falls into the loser category because they are awful almost every week. Any objections?


Andrew Cuomo - Love him or hate him or just don't care, this guy is undoubtably going to be the Democratic nominee for Governor. For the sake of our state, lets just pray he is better than Spitzer and Paterson.

Harold Ford Jr. - He got out of the Democratic US Senate primary just in time. The New York Democratic establishment was about to eat the guy up and spit him out. He saved his reputation and now maybe he can make a run for Charlie Rangel's seat.

Bruce Blakeman - Media mogul Mort Zuckerman is pulling out of the US Senate race against Gillibrand and that opening gives Blakeman a clearer shot at the GOP nomination. Gillibrand's negatives are so high that the Lewis county dog-catcher could make it a competitive race in year where Republicans were able to win in Massachusetts.

Ann Marie Buerkle - We haven't talked about our neighbor district to the south-west, but they have a battle brewing for the congressional Republican nomination to challenge Representative Dan Maffei in NY-25. Buerkle is winning Republican and Conservative endorsements for her race at a blistering pace. What's Up NY-23 isn't offering its endorsement yet, but is predicting Buerkle is on the best path to become the GOP nominee for that race.

Darrel Aubertine - Getting beat up by New York City press for opposing a liberal farm workers bill isn't always a bad thing for an upstate Democrat. He is also now a member of the fiscal watch force. Let's see what he does with it.

Mike Long - The Conservative Party Chairman has been gaining credibility across the state and has to be taken seriously by Republicans at every level because of the fusion voting system in the state and the conservative movement's ability to tap into voter discontent.

Patty Ritchie - Even though Ritchie has been attacked on the Lewis and Oswego blogs, she is still the frontrunner for the 48th Senate district race. Whoever gets the nod could make it a race for the ages against Aubertine. There is still a lot of time left, but Ritchie has positioned herself and it doesn't look like Matt Doheny is going to jump races as we move into the spring.

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey - Duprey seems to be handling her competition for the GOP nomination with stride. David Kimmel has yet to make the kind of impact that conservatives had hoped for, which may leave the door open for Paul Maroun or another candidate to jump into the race at this early stage. There is still time for Kimmel to make his case for the nomination, but each day that Kimmel lags is another day Duprey is counting her blessings. - Just because they are better than the Watertown Daily Times.

SU Men's Basketball Team - First time the Orange have been ranked #1 in years. Congrats and Go Orange!