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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bizzyblog's Tom Blumer: Swings At MoveOn But Missed Ohio GOP Censorship Bid

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Bizzyblogger Tom Blumer says today that he couldn't help but notice MoveOn had sent trademark cease-and-desist notices to a satirist who tried to market t-shirts mocking MoveOn. Blumer saw the action as evidence of the Democratic left organization's "radical" nature.

"I am told from time to time that MoveOn is not really a radical organization. Wrong. MoveOn is run by people whose first, second, and third instincts, if given any opening, are to silence opponents. They are petty tyrants in training."

Strong language.

He didn't mention -- or maybe he doesn't know -- that the Republican Party went even farther to silence a critic in Ohio. The GOP took legal action against Michael Dalton, a Democrat who lives in a Cincinnati suburb. Dalton's offense was to set up a Web site in 2005 called "" that mocked Republicans. He was sued by the Hamilton County Republican Party for trademark infringement. The GOP sought a temporary restraining order and injunction to shut Dalton down.

A key legal filing in the case is still available online. Ralph Nader's organization filed the brief contending the Republicans were out to suppress free speech. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Ted Winker -- a Republican, by the way -- declined to grant the order sought by his own political party.

At most, the incident smacked of hardball politics. Radical? Or tyranny? Hardly.

Bizzyblog wanted to take a swat at MoveOn -- and many people would agree that the Dem-leaning organization needs a spanking over the Petraeus/Betray Us ad it sponsored last week. But a flap over t-shirts can't be elevated to burning the Reichstag, or an October revolution in Moscow, or Mugabe's assault on democracy in Africa, or Myanmar's junta. Or even an Ohio Republican party's trademark lawsuit against an Internet critic.

Bizzyblog is one of the very best of Ohio's bloggers, talented and a lifetime .300 hitter. This time, he went with his heart instead of his intellect. By the way, the Web site that stirred up the GOP is still around. Wonder if Bizzyblog's Mr. Blumer thinks those radical (just kidding) Republicans were really right to try to shut it down?


  1. Bill, I would say this is apples and oranges, but that would give people the impression that, as fruits, they would have something in common. Try apples and, oh, toothpicks.

    MoveOn v. Little CafePress vendor is a drop-dead obvious fair use parody situation.

    Hamco GOP is a case of possible domain squatting, against which there is legislation:


    America was the first country to enact legislation on the issue: the Anti Cyber-Squatting Consumer Protection Act passed in the year 1999. According to the statute, cyber-squatting is proved when the defendant has a bad faith intent to profit from that mark, (including a defendant name which is protected as a mark), if anybody registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that - in the case of a mark that is distinctive at the time of registration of the domain name, is identical or confusingly similar to that mark or in the case of a famous mark that is famous at the time of registration of the domain name, is identical or confusingly similar to or dilutive of that mark or is a trademark, word, or name protected by reason of 18 U.S.C. 706 (the Red Cross, the American National Red Cross or the Geneva cross) or 36 U.S.C. 220506.

    The key element that must be proven is that the defendant has bad faith intent to profit from the mark.

    The site has a link to a blog, which would in theory have the potential for profit.

    The Hamco GOP didn't have a really strong case, but it at least had a shot. They appear to have had a better shot if they had thrown in domain squatting over and above trademark infringement and whatever else they argued.

    MoveOn had no case, knew it had no case, yet issued the cease and desist anyway. IOW, they acted like what they are: petty tyrants.

  2. Hi Tom -

    Thanks. I think you just said the GOP had dumb lawyers, or a dumb legal strategy. At the time, the chair was a lawyer who is now a federal judge.

    I understand the concept of cybersquattting. I do think it probably was close to that -- who owns the real estate. However, it was a trademark case.

    All that said, MoveOn is not radical, Tom. It is aggressive, sometimes stupid, very partisan, clearly zealous. But it is not revolutionary. It just wants the Democrats in power.

  3. "Thanks. I think you just said the GOP had dumb lawyers, or a dumb legal strategy."

    That's an at-first-glance-not-knowing-all reaction, but yes.

    If neocons are routinely called radical republicans, as they are .....

    ..... then I think my characterization of MoveOn as radical stands up pretty nicely.

  4. Poor bizzy has fallen, and he can’t get up. NeoCons have proven to be extremely radical with their tactic of unprovoked war, don’t you think? MoveOn’s letter writing and newspaper advertising looks rather tame in comparison. How are you defining “radical” again?

    PS when you have to visit the UK in 2003 for your example of “routinely,” you can bet you’re in trouble. Bill, who is this guy?

  5. Hi Anon 12:37 --

    Bizzyblog is what I would call, and I think he would call, an independent Republican. He is not aligned with the party, but shares its views. Sometimes he is way to the right, and sometimes he is quite right in what he says, meaning dead on the mark. He and I have been sparring some over MoveOn and how to characterize its goals/philosophy/intentions etc. He thinks they are radical in the sense that Marxists were radical --had the extreme goal to destroy or smash the existing social and economic order. At least, that is what I think he thinks.

    I don't see MoveOn as radical at all. He and I disagree -- probably strongly on this. However, we have kept the tone polite, and respectful (I hope).

  6. OHHHH! I see. What we have here is a failure to communicate...

    So someone whose goal is "to destroy or smash the existing social and economic order" of the U.S. is NOT a radical. Here I thought that was the very definition of one.

    Your definition - "someone who starts an unprovoked war" - raises the bar quite a bit. So only the likes of Hitler, Khomeini, and Bin Laden can be called radicals. Not even your garden-variety suicide bomber makes the cut.

    Now I understand. Just so I know, what are we calling "someone whose goal is to destroy the existing social and economic order" (i.e. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) of the U.S. these days?

    "Bill, who is this guy?" Quite ironic, coming from someone posting under "Anonymous."

  7. Joe,
    We do have a failure to communicate. And that is an all-time great movie line!

    I suggested that the NeoCon tactic of waging unprovoked war is radical. I did not define radical as waging unprovoked war. Big difference.

    I would definitely call someone whose goal is to destroy or smash the existing social and economic order of any nation a radical. Despite what you might have heard on the radio, MoveOn has no such goal.

    And Joe, by now I’m sure you’ve realized I’m not merely anonymous – I’m that one Anonymous.