Duller than dirt, except the professor's


November 06, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Remember when blogs were edgy? Naughty? Full of rogue reporting and uncensored sexploits? And the flyover didn't actually come to pass.

That's so last election cycle.

Now, practically every political hopeful has a blog. But they mostly read like press releases, full of flattering entries from campaign staff and volunteers.

Here's a sample from Maryland's U.S. Senate race:

"Last Saturday, Ben and Myrna met with voters at two terrific house parties in Baltimore City and Prince George's county," begins one.

"I went to the first event in Silver Spring and sure, Kweisi was on fire when he addressed the crowd," says another.

"They're puff pieces," complains Allan Lichtman, an American University professor and Democrat who claims to be the only real blogger in the race.

He has posted about 20 entries on his campaign blog (www.allanlichtman.com/blog) on issues such as stem cell research, Scooter Libby and the Iranian president's recent statement on Israel. And the responses sure don't seem censored.

"While Ben Cardin and, to a lesser extent, Kweisi Mfume steam ahead, this campaign seems to be puttering along, simply waiting for lightning to strike," reads one posting. It goes on to complain about "the spouse factor," saying Lichtman's wife was getting too much exposure.

"Your wife's outspoken leadership in this campaign is emasculating you in the eyes of potential male voters," it says.

Lichtman says he's just glad to get a spirited dialogue going.

"I'm putting myself out there to get really tested," he said. "For a while I was a recommended diary on The Daily Coast."

First thing, let's blog all the lawyers

As if there's any doubt that blogs are reading more like official Washington than Washingtonienne, check out http:--usaomd.blogspot.com.

It's a blog from Rod Rosenstein.

Yes, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, the classic straight-arrow G-man with the straight-arrow part in his hair, the career Justice Department lawyer who worked on Whitewater but only before the case got juicy.

His office launched the site a few days ago.

No, it's not called Rod's Blog.

And no, it's not interactive. Don't expect postings from the pokey, like, "C'mon! Did ya really have to ask for that upward departure at sentencing?"

It's basically a bunch of news releases about court proceedings: "Closing Arguments in U.S. v. Oliver Hudson, et al," for instance.

But Rosenstein is jazzed. He believes he is only the second U.S. attorney - after the one in Western Missouri - to start an official blog.

"It's a form of instantaneous communication," he says. "Anyone anywhere in the world can log on and find out what's happening."

His blog did offer one personal tidbit the other day that gave it a little sizzle: "U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein to Speak at ABA Meeting Tonight."

One measly bottle, and plonk at that

There was just one lonely bottle of wine for police to seize in their raid of a gambling club in South Baltimore last week. Plenty of beer and booze, but just that single bottle of vino.

What was it?

"It wasn't a 1998 Pouilly Fuisse from B&G Vineyards, I can tell you that," said Detective Sgt. Craig Gentile, who led the raid.

It was Sutter Home white zinfandel.

"Plonk," said Gentile, a self-described oenophile with a wine cellar at his house. "It's just sickeningly sweet. One step up from Mad Dog 22 and Boone's Farm strawberry wine."

Hire me, pay me, or see my lawyer

Billy Murphy needed a good lawyer.

The Maryland Stadium Authority had hired him a year ago to explore suing Major League Baseball over its plans to bring a team to Washington. The effort was dropped after Orioles owner Peter Angelos came to an agreement with the league.

Then came the real fight.

The attorney general's office said recently that the authority didn't have the right to hire an outside lawyer like Murphy, who made more than $100,000 in about four months under his no-bid contract.

So Murphy wanted a legal opinion on whether his hiring was legit. He turned to a lawyer who bills himself as the state's leading authority on procurement law, who helped draft the state's purchasing rules, who once taught a course on the subject at the University of Maryland's law school.

Murphy turned to Scott Livingston, of Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver.

Livingston and his firm also count the Orioles as a client. Murphy said that was just a coincidence.

"I didn't even know Scott Livingston until he was recommended by three or four different people," Murphy said. "I only found out when I got the actual opinion and saw the letterhead.

Livingston's nine-page opinion found that the authority did, indeed, have the right to hire Murphy. Murphy said the reasoning was so solid that he decided to share it with the AG's office.

"One and one is two," Murphy said, "no matter who says it."

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