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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Does This Phrase Excite You? "Citizen Auditors - Web Enabled Open Source Government"

If it does, go directly to this article by Eric Kavanaugh in The Public Manager. Let's put The Wisdom of Crowds in action here, folks - Is Kavanaugh a wild-eyed optimist or is this really feasible today?

I want it to be true but you know what "they" say when it's too good to be true.

Cornyn, Lieberman Intro Federal Research Public Access Act; Could Force More Accountability in Government Grants


Billions of tax dollars pay every year for thousands of research projects, most of which are supported by grants issued by 11 federal departments and agencies. Those projects result in numerous articles in professional journals but those are read by only a tiny fraction of the people who actually pay for the research.

So Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, and Joseph Lieberman, D-CT, have introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, which mandates that the results of all research reports paid for with federal tax dollars be published on the Internet within six months.

Go here for more information on the bill and links to media coverage of the proposal such as this article from Federal Computer Week. The mainstream media hasn't discovered this bill yet, but I'll bet there are lots of folks in the Blogosphere who should know about it and will enthusiastically encourage its passage.

UPDATE: More (and less) to the opposition than meets the eye

A number of professional academic groups have lined up against the Cornyn-Lieberman proposal, but there is much more to the story than the usual special interests circling their wagons against an assault by politically motivated outsiders.

Inside Higher Ed notes the increasingly vocal folks in the academic community - including some members of the groups crusading against Cornyn-Lieberman - who think the proposal will actually benefit the research community and that it is exactly what is needed in the digital age:

"There’s no doubt that many scholars do object to the legislation. But a rebellion of sorts is brewing online, where scholars who are, in theory, represented by some of these groups argue that the legislation would help research, that the scholarly associations are selling out their rank and file’s interests to prop up their publishing arms, and that the debate points to some underlying tensions about academic publishing in the digital age.

"These scholars - with the leaders of this informal movement coming from anthropology - want Congress to know that their associations aren't speaking for them, and they also want to draw attention to the fact that some scholarly groups didn't sign on."

With so much money at stake and the reputations and professional interests involved, this issue is not going to go away and it probably will get much uglier before we see resolution. As Thomas Kuhn noted some years back, paradigm shifts, particularly in the sciences, always engender opposition and not infrequently from unexpected quarters.






Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Are Bloggers Journalists? Are MSMers No Longer Relevant?

Two significant conferences for traditional journalists and bloggers were held this past weekend and two of the major mainstream media voices at those events provided extensive and rather pointed critiques of the Blogosphere while arguing that bloggers cannot be real journalists.

In the process, Michael Shear of The Washington Post and Brant Houston of Investigative Reporters & Editors provided fresh evidence of the persistent blindness that is at the root of the mainstream media's continuing crisis and decline.

Let's start with Schear, the luncheon speaker at the Summit on Blogging and Democracy in the Commonwealth hosted by the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. But it was his comments before a prior panel on blogging and journalism, however, that made manifest Schear's blindness about bloggers and journalism.

Beltway Blogroll's Danny Glover has the full text of Schear's presentation here. You should also read Glover's reporting and analyses of the summit and the related issues here and here. In the interest of full disclosure, I count Glover a good friend and respected professional and blogging colleague. I have never met Schear and was not present during his presentation at UVA.

On the one hand, Schear contended that blogs provide a positive contribution in three ways: "First, in focusing attention on happenings to which the MSM pay too little attention; second, in offering analysis - almost always filtered through a particular political philosophy - that often goes far deeper than any mainstream media outlet has the time or resources to do; and third, in being effective political advocates for a cause or a candidate."

On the other hand, Schear found much more about blogs that is anything but positive: "... we in the mainstream press attempt to make sure what we have written is true. I'm not sure the same can be said for bloggers ... Your sites serve too often as clearinghouses for rumors, innuendo, political attacks, misunderstandings, half-truths and gossip."

Schear further noted with alarm that anybody can post anything on blogs, often anonymously, regardless of the truth and without consequence: "At a newspaper, people can lose their jobs if false accusations are printed. In blogs, there seems to be no accountability at all."

Schear's concluding graph brings home his basic point: "You are pundits. You are aggregators of other people's work. You are analysts. You are political activists. You are gossips. You are agitators. You are not journalists."

None of this is new, of course, being a restatement of the basic mainstream critique that bloggers are amatuers because they have no filtering process to insure factuality and who therefore at best can only offer partisan commentary that occasionally surfaces important stories missed or ignored by the real journalists.

I should note, too, that Schear offered several interesting and useful suggestions for bloggers, which, according to Glover, received a serious and respectful hearing from the bloggers in attendance and during post-event comments.

Now, let's take a look at Houston's "Saving the press" op-ed in the Sunday edition of The Dallas Morning News. He was in Dallas for the IRE National Conference, which attracted an estimated 1,000 attendees.

Again by way of full disclosure, I should note that I know Houston professionally and I've been a member of IRE for a long time, though I was not among the Dallas attendees. IRE is an immensely valuable organization that deserves a tremendous amount of credit for encouraging and aiding quality investigative journalism in the U.S. and around the world.

Houston is also author of what I consider the best textbook on computer-assisted reporting, which I have used since 2001 in the Database 101 CARR Boot Camps I teach on behalf of The Heritage Foundation and in coordination with the Erik Friedheim Library at the National Press Club. As a result, I think I may well have bought more copies of Houston's book than anybody else in the world!

In the course of arguing that the depth and public service value of investigative reporting may prove to be the mainstream media's saving grace, Houston offers the following assessment of the Blogosphere:

"Investigative reporting distinguishes journalists from agenda-pushing bloggers, from advocacy talk shows that parade as fair and balanced, and from the shallow reporting that happens when Wall Street pressures newsrooms to cut staffs.

"The worth of investigative reporting is not measured in constant bean-counting, but in how well it serves the public interest. Solid investigative reporting demonstrates the credibility of a vigilant press, as well as the need for one - a need that's greater than ever.

"With the advent of the Web and the blogosphere, rumors and misinformation have run rampant."

As with Schear in Virginia, in Texas we see Houston pushing the familiar mainstream media stereotype of bloggers as partisan-driven rumor-mongers in vivid contrast to a vigilant, truth-seeking media that protects the public interest.

So, how do we answer Schear and Houston? Actually, we don't have to because in stating their respective cases against bloggers Schear and Houston make it clear they either aren't aware of the impressively growing range of news reporting by bloggers or these two denizens of the mainstram media simply cannot or will not acknowledge it.

But it really doesn't make much difference anymore whether traditional journalists recognize bloggers as legitimate members of the news-gathering fraternity because folks like Schear and Houston are beng bypassed at an accelerating pace by the digital revolution. Glover details this with his roundup of recent milestones in the growing recognition of the legitimate news-gathering role of bloggers.

One of those milestones stands out. Glover quotes a California Appeals Court decision in the case upholding the application of that state's shield law for reporters to two bloggers who used inside sources in 2005 to report details of then-forthcoming Apple products.

Apple had argued successfully in California district court that the two bloggers weren't covered by the shield law and demanded to know their sources who had allegedly compromised employment agreements and commercial privileges.

The appeals court demurred, as Glover notes:

"'We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes 'legitimate journalis[m],' the court wrote on May 26. 'The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here.' The court added that the Web postings were 'conceptually indistinguishable from publishing a newspaper, and we see no theoretical basis for treating it differently.'"

That gets to the essential point that Schear and Houston and so many of my colleagues in the mainstream media simply don't get - there are increasing numbers of bloggers who do the same thing traditional journalists do, which is gather information of interest to others and publish that information in an accessible form. The bloggers don't always do it the same way as mainstream journalists, but the end result is the same - news is gathered and published.

True, the news-gathering bloggers represent a tiny portion of the millons of blogs "out there," but when even The Washington Post features on its web site blogs produced by members of its news and editorial staffs, it is clear the blog is rapidly becoming an accepted news format and has moved way beyond simply being a handy forum for members of the Pajamadeen to vent partisan bile and politically lascivious rumors.

My guess is that had they been around when Luther did his thing in Wittenburg, folks like Schear and Houston would have been members of the Papal chorus chanting hymns in praise of the orderly and well-regulated dissemination of religious doctrine by the professional clergy to the ignorant masses.







Sunday, June 18, 2006

How Liberals Are Learning to Stop Worrying About "Media Concentration"; Is the Right Listening?

An incessant theme on the Left for the past decade or so has been the evils of consolidation and concentration in Big Media. The theme is the key to the argument from the Left that most frequently leaves conservatives incredulous - namely, that the media is biased in favor of the Right and the GOP.

Now somebody on the Left is pointing to the reality of the explosion of new media via the Internet and its impact on traditional media like newspapers and television. Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos writes in the latest issue of The Nation:

"The media landscape is changing dramatically, seemingly on a daily basis, and what we once considered serious dangers to our democracy--things like media consolidation and the absence of balance and fairness--will become increasingly less important.

"We are at the beginning of the age of citizen media, where corporations can own vast, billion-dollar media outlets yet fail to control the flow and content of information. It's quite hard to be a media gatekeeper when everyone becomes media, and that's what we're seeing happen in the age of blogs, wikis, social networking sites, podcasting, vlogging, message boards, e-mail groups and whatever wonderful communication technologies emerge tomorrow."

Go Powerline's "61st Minute" post is a useful mark with which to date the end.

HT: BuzzMachine





Thursday, June 15, 2006

Victory for Bloggers as California Court Says Shield Law Applies

California's Sixth Appellate court denies Apple's attempt to remove bloggers from coverage by that state's shield law for journalists. The court's reasoning gets to the heart of the issue: Does the First Amendment grant publication freedom only to some with particular qualifications or to all who gather and communicate news and views about news?

Here are the key graphs from the court's opinion:

"We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes 'legitimate journalis[m].' The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here.

"We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace.

"Nor does Apple supply any colorable ground for declaring petitioners' activities not to be legitimate newsgathering and dissemination. Apple asserts that petitioners merely reprinted 'verbatim copies' of Apple's internal information while exercising 'no editorial oversight at all.'

"But this characterization, if accepted, furnishes no basis for denying petitioners the protection of the statute. A reporter who uncovers newsworthy documents cannot rationally be denied the protection of the law because the publication for which he works chooses to publish facsimiles of the documents rather than editorial {Slip Opn. Page 37} summaries.

"The shield exists not only to protect editors but equally if not more to protect newsgatherers. The primacy Apple would grant to editorial function cannot be justified by any rationale known to us.

"Moreover, an absence of editorial judgment cannot be inferred merely from the fact that some source material is published verbatim. It may once have been unusual to reproduce source materials at length, but that fact appears attributable to the constraints of pre-digital publishing technology, which compelled an editor to decide how to use the limited space afforded by a particular publication.

"This required decisions not only about what information to include but about how to compress source materials to fit. In short, editors were forced to summarize, paraphrase, and rewrite because there was not room on their pages to do otherwise."

Hugh Hewitt has a lengthy excerpt from the opinion here.

Soros Investing $200 Million in Chinese Car Company Planning to Sell Cars, Trucks in U.S.

George Soros, billionaire investor and financer of major liberal activist groups like MoveOn.org, is reported by Automotive News to be arranging to invest $200 million in a joint venture with China's Chery Automobile Company to build cars for sale in the United States.

Automotive News says Soros has put $200 million in an escrow as he negotiates with Chinese officials and Malcolm Bricklin, a New York investment entrepreneur who once produced a sports car called the Bricklin. Bricklin the car did not sell well, but Bricklin the automotive entrepreneur has been involved in numerous ventures to import foreign vehicles into the states.

Bricklin formed Visionary Vehicles LLC in 2004 to import Chery vehicles and claims to have signed about 50 dealers to date. It's not clear what Bricklin's status would be if Soros completes his $200 million investment.

If Soros does become a principal investor in Visionary Vehicles, will he use his influence and contacts with high officials in the communist Chinese regime to pressure them to stop censoring dissidents using blogs and other forms of internet communication?

Automotive News is a subscriber-only industry publication. I've asked the web editor for a link for TCD readers and will post it here in an update if it is offered.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hastert Real Estate Dealing Exposed by Sunlight Foundation

The increased transparency being forced on government by the Blogosphere and other forms of Internet-based media is already making life more difficult for politicos taking advantage of their positions, as House Speaker Dennis Hastert is discovering:

"House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has used an Illinois trust to invest in real estate near the proposed route of the Prairie Parkway, a highway project for which he's secured $207 million in earmarked appropriations.

"The trust has already transferred 138 acres of land to a real estate development firm that has plans to build a 1,600-home community, located just a few miles from the north-south connector Hastert has championed in the House."

This story comes via the Sunlight Foundation's Bill Allison on the foundation's Under the Influence blog. For the complete details, go here.

UPDATE: Hastert threatens libel suit

Captain's Quarters Ed Morrissey is in the hospital dealing with a very painful ruptured disk, but that hasn't prevented him from doing the research to advance the Hastert story on virtually every major point.

First, though, Hastert released a statement through his counsel, which Morrissey quoted in its entirety:

"Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 4:10 PM To: Eric Schmeltzer; Bill Allison Cc: Passantino, Stefan Subject: Legal Demand for Immediate Action

"Dear Mr. Schmeltzer and Mr. Allison:


"The statements in your release below are untrue. Rather than simply disclose participation in a trust (without disclosing what the trust owns), Speaker Hastert disclosed the amount of his interest and the location of the property on the Financial Disclosure for the year in which the closing of the transaction occurred.

"This is confirmed by the entries on the Financial Disclosure forms themselves confirming the interest (including amount), the property, and the type of transaction (sale, purchase, or exchange). The statements and innuendo in your release are thus false and misleading.

"In addition, the property purchased is adjacent to his home and is more than 5.5 miles from the Pairie Parkway Corridor. This would be like complaining about a purchase in Alexandria, Virgina based on rennovations at the Capitol.

"Demand is hereby made that the false, libelous and defamatory matter be immediately withdrawn and corrected. The failure to do so will confirm intentional and wilful conduct by you designed to injure the reputation of Speaker Hastert after becoming actually aware that the published statements were false. All available remedies will be pursued for such conduct.

"Sincerely,

"Randy Evans
"Counsel to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert"

So, Hastert appears to have disclosed his ownership interest in the property but, as Morrissey notes, that doesn't change the fact that the Speaker earmarked millions of tax dollars to build an arguably unneeded new highway that nevertheless greatly increased the value of the property:

"That answers some of the disclosure questions, although as SF states, it also appears to confirm that he never disclosed his interest in the trust to which he transferred the property. It still leaves open the question as to why he pushed for federal money for a major connector less than six miles from his own property.

"Looking at the proposed corridor, it runs within a few miles of an already-extant county road 47, which runs parallel to most of the new road. It looks at least as long of a connector between I-88 and I-80 as the 47 does. Further west, Interstate 39 connects the two interstates, and State Route 59 connects them in the most direct manner. It would make a lot more sense (and probably cost a lot less) to upgrade 59 to an interstate connector road rather than have this meandering route that just happens to go past Little Rock."

Go here for the rest of Ed's post.

UPDATE: Then there is Jerry Lewis

And I don't mean Deano's former sidekick! The California congressman is Appropriator-in-Chief in the House by virtue of his being Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. But The Wall Street Journal's John Fund says he ought to be known as the "Earmarker-in-Chief," thanks to earmarks he pushed such as the $500,000 for a swimming pool in his home district that has previously received $250,000 earmarks in the two previous years.

Notes Fund:

"Another aspect of the probe is said to be whether Mr. Lewis steered hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarked projects to the clients of his friend, campaign contributor and former House colleague Bill Lowery. One of Mr. Lowery's clients is an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery scandal that sent former Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham to jail for approving earmarks to defense contractors in exchange for personal gifts.

"The lobbying firm's defense clients receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts from Appropriations. Two of the top rainmakers at Mr. Lowery's firm have been former Appropriations staffers who worked for Mr. Lewis.

"This week, The Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Lowery's firm paid one of those staffers, Jeffrey Shockey, nearly $2 million when he left the firm and returned to Appropriations when Mr. Lewis became Chairman in 2005.

"Roll Call newspaper also reported this week that Mr. Shockey's former lobbying firm received more than $1 million in higher fees from government contractors shortly after he returned to Capitol Hill."

All of which highlights another argument for term limits - they can't do nearly as much damage when they are limited to only six years, or three terms, as they can when, like Lewis, they are re-elected year after year after ...







House to Consider Federal Spending Database Proposal

Looks like the House will consider a proposal directing the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to establish a publicly accessible database of all federal spending. The proposal was previously approved by the House Government Operations Committee and will go to the House floor sometime during the coming week, according to knowledgable congressional sources.

Rep. Tom Davis, R-VA, who chairs the House committee, and Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, are the prime sponsors of the measure, which is similar to one originated in the Senate by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK. Senate co-sponsors include senators Barack Obama, D-IL, John McCain, R-AZ, and Tom Carper, D-DE.

Here's the text to be considered by the House next week:

To amend the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 to require data with respect to Federal financial assistance to be available for public access in a searchable and user friendly form.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


SECTION 1. DATA WITH RESPECT TO FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE REQUIRED TO BE AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC ACCESS IN SEARCHABLE AND USER-FRIENDLY FORM.

(a) Data Requirements- The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall, as part of the implementation of the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-107; 31 U.S.C. 6101 note), work with the Administrator of General Services and other agencies to make available data with respect to Federal financial assistance in accordance with this section and section 204 of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-347; 44 U.S.C. 3501 note).

(b) Matters Covered- The Director shall ensure that the data required under subsection (a), at a minimum--

(1) are available on the Internet, from a single website, to the public;

(2) are in a form that allows for searching for Federal financial assistance awards by recipient name;

(3) include information about Federal financial assistance awards within 30 days after award of the assistance;

(4) identify the Federal financial assistance that an entity has received during the preceding 10-year period, including an itemized breakdown of that assistance by agency and program source;

(5) include lists of Federal financial assistance awards and the dates and amounts of Federal fund disbursements; and

(6) identify subgrantees.

(c) Period Covered- For purposes of subsection (b)(4), the first 10-year period to be covered shall begin with the year 2006.

(d) Definition- In this Act, the term `Federal financial assistance' has the meaning provided in section 4(3) of the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-107; 31 U.S.C. 6101 note).

(e) Effective Date- The data shall be available for public use not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Note that the proposal includes subgrantees among the recipients that must be accessible via the new database. That provision is likely to generate opposition at OMB and more generally among the ranks of the career bureaucracy because implementing it will both mean more work for some employees and because have such data will greatly improve the public's ability to understand what actually happens to their tax dollars after Congress approves spending bills.

Also, the Davis-Blunt proposal does not specifically include federal contracts. The Coburn version in the Senate does. A significant number of non-profits are likely to oppose the Davis-Blunt version because they legitimately fear that a contract-less database could be used to target groups receiving federal assistance that are perceived to be inappropriately political.

The key is getting all government spending available to the public, subject only to minimal and reasonable exceptions for things like national security. Once all government spending is available on the Internet - along with the actual texts of contracts and supporting documents, as well as other measure like Memoranda of Understanding committing federal departments and agencies to actions requiring the expenditure of federal funds - it will be vastly more difficult for politicians to use their offices to advance their own interests and those of supporters and backers without fear of exposure.






Monday, June 12, 2006

Do You Know Which New York Reporter Covered FDR and Wrote Speeches for Him?

Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post has the answer in his column today focusing on Tony Snow's hiring as spokesman for President Bush and the media practices of past presidents:

"One member of the press corps became an active collaborator when Roosevelt was running for office. After Ernest Lindley, then with The New York Herald Tribune, and other reporters told the candidate that his speeches were unfocused, Roosevelt said: 'Well, if you fellows think my speeches are so bad, why don't you write one for me?' Lindley did, arguing for what would become the New Deal."

Go here for the rest of the Kurtz column, which as always is well-worth reading.




Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tapscottia Seems to be Growing: What Stephen Douglas and George W. Bush Have in Common Seen in Thomas, Noonan Columns

I'm still on break from active blogging here but there are a couple of columns out today that absolutely must be read by everybody who cares about, thinks about or depends upon the future of the two-party system.

People have been predicting the demise of the current parties for decades, but the coming of the Internet is providing the tools to empower outsiders to oust insiders and force reforms needed to make our government more responsive, transparent and accountable.

That this was inevitable was made clear by Hugh Hewitt's book, "Blog: The Information Reformation that is changing your world." Glenn Reynolds' superb "An Army of Davids" develops the implications of blogs and much else from the technology side.

Peggy Noonan looks at Unity 08, a budding collection of Democrat and GOP centrists who think voters need more options because there is too much partisanship in Washington. Right solution, but proposed to the wrong problems, Noonan argues, accurately in my view.

The problem is much deeper, she says:

"Partisanship is fine when it's an expression of the high animal spirits produced by real political contention based on true political belief. But the current partisanship seems sour, not joyous. The partisanship has gotten deeper as less separates the governing parties in Washington. It is like what has been said of academic infighting: that it's so vicious because the stakes are so low.

"The problem is not that the two parties are polarized. In many ways they're closer than ever. The problem is that the parties in Washington, and the people on the ground in America, are polarized.


"There is an increasing and profound distance between the rulers of both parties and the people - between the elites and the grunts, between those in power and those who put them there."

Noonan says she feels something in the air, that "a big breakup" is in the offing, one that will somebody be viewed by historians as one of those paradigm shifts in American politics such as resulted from the slavery crisis.

Go here to read Noonan's full column. Then send it to as many of your friends as you dare.

She is not alone is that feeling. Cal Thomas senses it, too, noting that the immigration debate now going forward in Congress is at bottom a contest about the future of the GOP. President Bush and GOPers like Sen. John McCain who back the Senate comprehensive immigration "solution," think Republicans will gain millions of Hispanic voters:

"It won't work, because even if all illegals end up becoming legal and voting for Republicans (which is unlikely), the conservative disgust and abandonment of the GOP would outweigh any short-term gains the party might enjoy."

Go here for the full Thomas column and forward it, too.

Immigration is functioning today for the GOP much as the slavery issue did for Democrats in the years leading up to the Civil War. The party's most prominent leader, Sen. Stephen Douglas, thought he could straddle the issue with his doctrine of Popular Sovereignity. But that position simply provided the fuel for further ignition of the flames of war because it didn't resolve the issue one way or the other.

Similarly, Bush, McCain and company are trying to straddle the immigration issue by trying to seem tough on border enforcement while moving forward with what amounts to the biggest immigration amnesty in American history. It won't work because Bush and the GOP leadership have totally underestimated the intensity of opposition in the party's base and indeed far beyond the conservative realms of the electorate.

The GOP went from nowhere in 1854 to Lincoln in the White House and congressional majorities in a decade. Thanks to the Internet's power to link like-minded people, I doubt it will take so long this time around for a new party to become ascendant.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Geraghty Inches This Way?

Maybe it's my imagination but this sounds just a tad like a guy who is packing a few things in ancticipation of a move:

"If you ask Frist, Hastert, or Boehner to assess their work in recent years, they would probably say they’ve done a darn good job. The public and conservatives disagree. One could argue the last truly conservative and truly significant bill to get through Congress was Welfare Reform back in 1996.
"So, yes, the Republican Party of Bush, Cheney, Frist, McCain and Hastert has lost its way.
"We need one of two things. We need either a new party that is consistently conservative, or for the Republican party to remember it’s supposed to be the conservative one."


Jim notes that the Perot detour taken by some conservatives in 1992 played a role in putting Clinton in the White House for the first term. It's a fair point, but I would argue that Perot was a transitory distraction, not an enduring attraction, because he was all about charts and eccentricity rather than principles and a serious long-term vision for the nation.

More important, there was no Internet in 1992. Had there been, Perot's, shall we say, quirks would have been surfaced much more quickly and he would not have gotten nearly as serious a hearing in the mainstream media as he did.

As for now, I argue that since the GOP has demonstrated that it cannot be relied upon as a vehicle for achieving conservative reform, the significant question then is how do we get to that new consistently conservative party and make it a winner? In my humble opinion, that is a discussion of far greater importance than whether we should let ourselves be suckered yet again.

Go here to read the full Geraghty take.

UPDATE II: Will GOP Ills Sink Conservatives, Too?

Andrew Cline comes at these issues from a slightly different - and definitely more disturbing - angle by warning that public disgust with the GOP could also take down the conservative vision of limited government:

"The average American voter must understand that there is another alternative method of governing -- one that he supported only a dozen years ago. It might be too late to salvage the Republican wreckage before November, but as long as the public knows that conservative ideas still represent a promising and viable alternative to the current mess that the Republicans have made in Washington, there is hope for 2008.

"If the public becomes convinced that conservatism is synonymous with the policies of the past five years, the conservative movement could sink along with the GOP's majority. And that truly would spell bad news for everyone for years to come."

Cline is Editorial Page Editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. Go here for the full Cline piece.