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What the Bottom Falling Out Looks Like in Texas

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Back in August, I wrote a blog entry about a stifling hot day when I blockwalked for Democrats running in Bastrop County -- pols including Larry Joe Doherty, Chris Duggan and Donnie Dippel, the Democratic nominee for State Representative in Texas, District 17. The volunteers all met at a local precinct chair's house, and the candidates gave a quick pep talk before we hit the streets of Elgin. Shortly after the talk, Dippel and Duggan were good-spirited enough to pose for a photo with my OBAMA license plates, which I then posted on my blog.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I received a scanned copy of an attack ad against Donnie Dippel, featuring cropped-for-con artist version of my own copyrighted photo, showing only Donnie Dippel posing with my plates -- with no photo credits or permission from me.



Click to enlarge.


When my four tires got slashed a month ago, I was irritated at having to pay a $500 deductible but felt as though my plates were still something to be proud of and that the slashing was almost a badge of honor. Since then, I have tried to be more vigilant when I'm walking in my apartment parking lot, particularly at night -- not necessarily scared, but more aware.

But I find this attack ad on two candidates whom I have met and admire -- Barack Obama and Donnie Dippel -- to be not only objectionable for illegally using my photo but, more important, the most deceptive and reprehensible kind of campaign tactics. Dippel's opponent, Tim Kleinschmidt, is an attorney who has evidently decided that the copyright laws do not apply to him. Texans have had enough immorality and above-the-law politicians in the Texas House. There is no need to vote for another one of them, someone deceitful in the campaign who will be worse once elected.

Kleinschmidt claims that he doesn't support one of the most immoral Texas House leaders, Tom Craddick, and yet the Craddick cookie-jar "Stars Over Texas PAC" has given Kleinschmidt's campaign $25,000. What's more, Kleinschmidt's own Republican base is having second thoughts about Craddick. Republican committeeman Mark McCaig wrote a guest column in the Statesman yesterday calling for Craddick to step down as Speaker, citing Craddick's "ethical cloud" as having "cast a shadow" over Craddick's Republican leadership in the Texas House.

This election has come down to baseless Republicans like Tim Kleinschmidt using my personal property for their high-gloss smear campaigns. It's a testament to Donnie Dippel's hardworking, honest practices that the worst thing Kleinschmidt can think of is to tie him to Barack Obama, who leads by double-digits across the polls. I suppose Kleinschmidt doesn't want anyone who is considering voting for Obama to vote for him. Nevertheless, I believe in my volunteer efforts for these Democrats -- not because they are Democrats but because they are honest, intelligent and have a sincere desire to change the way our country works -- should not be slandered in a political ad. And while Kleinschmidt may be proud of himself for stealing from a local progressive blogger (who eats BBQ at Southside and used to trailer her horses to the Elgin Veterinary Clinic for their check-ups) he's clearly ignorant or unsympathetic to the fact that this kind of campaigning leads to the violence that I experienced when my tires were slashed.

My direct statement to Mr. Kleinschmidt, if I ever saw him out in the district, would be this: It is reprehensible that you have chosen to steal my volunteering experience to manipulate it for your negative ads. But more vile, and what is ultimately more important, is the moral code you have that would allow you to do that.

Click here to contribute to the Donnie Dippel campaign.