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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Progress on Capitol Hill Transparency Thanks to Rep. Steve King

Mary Katharine Ham spent much of yesterday and today in Ballamer at the Heritage-hosted Republican Study Committee Congressional Retreat. One of the most interesting conversations young Miss Ham found herself in was today with Rep. Steve King, R-IA, who is working hard on a transparency issue that is close to my heart.

Ham - who posts at Hugh Hewitt's daily essential reading site - says people outside of Washington, D.C. are often amazed when told Members of Congress often vote on proposed bills they haven't read and neither has anybody else outside of a little
circle of insiders:

"But folks like King would like to change that by making legislation available online before floor votes. He comes up against resistance from folks bogged down in the parliamentary procedure-- people who say it's just too much to try to do. King, rightly, says that in this day and age, with the technology we have, there's no excuse for bills not going online before votes, in searchable format.

"People who are against this kind of thing, as far as I can tell, are long-time Hill people who just think these bills are too massive and the process too arduous to be worth pleasing the relatively small number of people who would be interested in reading them.

"Either that, or they have things to hide in legislation and would like to continue hiding them. The first excuse speaks to the already out-of-hand size of government, and the second to an element of dishonesty in government. Both problems are exacerbated by refusing to make the process more visible."

Bingo! We will be hearing more from Young Miss Ham on these transparency issues because she clearly understands why they deserve to be Priority One. Go here to read her full report on the Ballamer doings.

Was the OU Suicide Bomber Incident a Test Run for the Real Thing at the Super Bowl in Detroit?

Imagine this scene:

Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander has just ripped off a 60-yard run for a touchdown and the extra point kick is good, evening the score in the Super Bowl with the Pittsburg Steelers at 14-all early in the second quarter at Ford Field in Detroit.

The celebratory fireworks boom, Seahawk fans are going crazy and .... wait, what is that in the stands .... oh no .... three suicide bombers have detonated themselves within seconds and ... the carnage is ... unspeakable. There is panic ... more carnage ....

If you think I am being alarmist, read this.

It could be worse, much, much worse. Read this.


Curt at Flopping Aces pulled together all the signs of an attack at the Super Bowl here. It's a lot of material, but put it all together and you just might want to cancel your flight to Detroit. Curt posted this roundup two weeks ago, but I am just today (2/2/06) finding it and only because Curt pointed it out to me.

That's great work, Curt. I would have linked to you much earlier if I'd known.

Coming Capitol Hill Staff Blog is One to Watch

RedState.org is organizing a blog that will be open for posting only to congressional staff members to talk anonymously about what is happening on Capitol Hill. Mike Krempasky, a RedState founder, has more details here.

Long-time TCD readers know my passion for blogs doing for government what they have already done for the mainstream media. This new blog is an important step forward in the slowly developing capacity of the Blogosphere to report what is going on in Congress.

I see lots of potential problems ahead for this blog and it could prove to be a useless repository of hoary bromides about how great are our representatives, or a short-lived career killer for some imprudent young aides.

More likely in my judgement is this new Hill blog will go through several iterations before eventually becoming an important inside source for getting candid accounts of who did what to whom and why.

Kudos to RedState for taking on such a project.

Alito Confirmation Continues Bush Revolution on the Federal Bench

Jayson at Polipundit has a comprehensive roundup of President Bush's federal judiciary record. It is tremendously encouraging to see so many high quality appointees going into the federal judiciary at all levels.

Paul at Powerline looks at what has happened to the confirmation process as a result of the Alito fight:

"Under the Alito rule, the president's party, in effect, must control the Senate in order for the president to have top-notch nominees of his choice confirmed. When the the president's party doesn't control the Senate, only compromise nominees acceptable to both parties can expect to be confirmed."

Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it is impossible to put it back,

Post Says New Study Proves Roosters Make Sun Rise

A new study by two imminent psychologists provides "prima facie evidence that roosters crowing in the morning signals in some way we don't yet understand for the sun to rise," according to The Washington Post.

"We can't be sure how they do it yet because that part of the mystery is still hidden, but we have no doubt they do do it," said Dave Bashenwright of the University of Virginia.

"We observed a random sample of 1,038 roosters crowing in 24 states over a period of six weeks," said Bashenwright, who conducted the study with Rajuman Makupafak of Harvard. "Without fail, every time the roosters crowed in the morning, the sun rose afterwards. The correlation is obvious, it's simply undeniable."

Bashenwright said he and Makupafak opted not to submit their study methodology or data to a peer-review process for publication in a scientific journal because "we know we're right, we saw the proof with our own eyes every time one of the roosters crowed."

Bashenwright and Makupafak contend their study provides important new insights about how the physical universe functions. "We saw the same result every time, regardless whether we were observing one of the control group roosters or one of the variable group roosters. They crowed and the sun came up."

The study means high school science curriculums and textbooks will now need to be revised, Makupafak said. "No more teaching those old myths about a big bang or an expanding universe or an intelligent design. The roosters do it and the old guard is just going to have to accept that fact," he said.

Post reporter Shankar Vedantum's front page story sparked demands from Frank Perdue, III, a poultry industry spokesman for "new respect and appreciation for the light and warmth made possible by our products." Perdue also called for an "imediate and substantial increase" in federal poultry subsidies.

Robert Smith, a NASA environmental statistician, cautioned observers not to "get too excited about this thing just yet because there may be an 'after therefore because of' fallacy lurking about in the results."

Bashenwright responded by noting that "NASA spends billions every year telling us we have to explore the limits of space. We say the answers are all right here if you just know where to look."

Earlier this week, Vedantum reported on another controversial study by a couple of pychologists who found that conservatives are inherently racists. Go here for that story. Michelle Malkin has a roundup of reactions to the earlier study here.

Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research does some mathematical analysis of the "conservatives are racists" study and finds problems with the sampling process, among much else.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Who Will Win the House Majority Leader Post?

If the question posed by the headline above this post interests you, you have two reading options this morning. First , you can go to the front page of The Washington Post and read Jonathan Weisman's "Corruption Scandals Cast Shadow on GOP Leadership Race."

Perhaps predictably, Weisman seems to think the only newsworthy development in the House Majority Leader contest is how it is over-shadowed by the Abramoff scandal. The word "blog" appears nowhere in Weisman's piece.

Weisman notes that Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, claims to have the contest wrapped up. Blunt's opponents are Rep. John Boehner, R-OH, and Rep. John Shadegg, R-AZ. All three candidates appear to have potential scandals associated with them, according to the Weisman story.

Or you can go to National Journal's Hotline where editor Chuck Todd offers an in-depth analysis of the race and explains why the conventional wisdom, which Weisman pretty much echoes, could well be wrong:

"Has the political 'CW' been wrong before? Too many times to recall. But for a number of reasons (among them Shadegg's rock star support in the conservative blogsophere and the absence of the sort of MSM scrutiny which Boehner and Blunt were subject to at the race's outset) the momentum that had carried Blunt's candidacy to the brink of inevitability a few weeks ago has hit a wall. "

Note that Todd links Shadegg's support on the Right side of the Blogosphere as one of the reasons why the race appears to be anything but decided, despite claims by Blunt and his aide to have enough votes to win.

I have no idea who will win this contest but in the contest between a journalist who apparently sees no significance to the role of bloggers and another journalist who recognizes the importance of bloggers, my vote goes with the latter.

Tech Firms Refuse to Appear Before Congressional Caucus Briefing on China's Internet Censorship

Bruce Kesler at Democracy Project links to an AFP report on U.S. technology firms boycotting Wednesday's meeting of the Human Rights Caucus of the U.S. Congress. The meeting's purpose is to look at how U.S. firms like Microsoft and Cisco have aided the Chinese communist regime's suppression of freedom of speecha and thought on the Internet.

The Feb.1 meeting is a briefing, not an official hearing because the caucus is not a standing congressional committee. Even so, the event is likely to generate additional coverage of the issue and perhaps help fuel some kind of action in Congress aimed at resisting the Chinese communist government's actions.

There will be an official congressional hearing Feb. 15 when the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations is convened by its chairman, Rep. Christopher Smith, R-NJ.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Pork is Not the Point About the Pork

Earmarks are bad to be sure but they aren't the most important consideration in assessing the federal budget and how desperately it needs reform. Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters gets it exactly right:

"The size of the budget creates a vast treasure that encourages grand corruption that makes earmarks look like petty cash. Entitlements that stretch out into trillions of dollars over a generation invites the manipulation of special interests to ensure lifetime sinecures of government funding, not just a couple of years of office construction with some old pol's name eventually winding up on the facility."

Earmarks like the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" get lots of publicity but collectively represent only one percent of all current federal spending and much less even than that when compared to the currently projected levels of entitlement spending under just two programs, Medicare and Social Security.

Go here for the rest of Ed's post on the issue and his take on a piece in The Wall Street Journal.

A Survival Strategy for Mainstream Media

Powerline's Paul Mirengoff explains in a mere two succinct sentences what the mainstream media must do if it is to survive in the internet epoch:

"The audience for the nightly MSM newscasts are the remnants of a generation that considered the news anchors the most trusted men in America. Why not try to earn that sort of trust from new generations of non-extremist Americans through objective, non-partisan reporting?"

Sounds simple, doesn't? So why can't they do it? They can't because they absolutely believe they already are. As it happens, I am a newspaper journalist by profession and consider myself a creature of the newsroom. That is why it pains me to observe colleagues in print and broadcast news who simply cannot see their own biases.

But what makes Paul's post interesting is his dealing with this question: What if tomorrow the mainstream media did recognize the error of its ways and begin a determined and sustained campaign to return to its finest tradition of covering the news objectively and even-handedly?

As Paul explains, the left side of the Blogosphere would go crazy, as they have been in recent weeks over remarks by NBC's Tim Russert and The Washington Post's Deborah Howell pointing out that the Jack Abramoff scandal is not a GOP exclusive.

Go here for the rest of Paul's post, which includes links to a couple of other thoughtful takes on the issue.

UPDATE: The Kos-Moveon Effect

That's what Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit dubs the same process described above but at work in the political universe. Here's The Washington Post news report describing the process in the Alito hearings fight on Capitol Hill.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Justice Department Denies Hinrichs FOIA, Says Probe is "Ongoing" in Non-Terrorist-Related Suicide

Joel Hinrichs blew himself up Oct. 1 while sitting on a park bench near the University of Oklahoma's football stadium. He died within yards of more than 84,000 people, killed by a bomb made of the same mixture favored by Middle Eastern terrorists.

Within hours of Hinrichs' death, however, both the president of OU, former Oklahoma Senator David Boren, and the FBI claimed the young man acted alone and had no terrorist ties. Even so, the Joint Task on Terrorism was called in as the lead agency investigating the claimed suicide.

In the weeks thereafter as October became November, a procession of high officials at OU, within the FBI and even an Oklahoma congressman insisted there was no evidence in the Hinrichs case to indicate anything other than a suicide.

It's now the end of January, virtually four months after Hinrichs was declared a suicide with no terrorist ties. Yet in a Jan. 25, 2006, letter denying my Freedom of Information Act request for all documents referencing Hinrichs, a Justice Department official says the requested documents cannot be released because the government's investigation is still open and "release of this information could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."

Enforcement proceedings in a non-terrorist-related suicide?

Why are federal anti-terrorism officials and investigators who could otherwise be tracking down real terrorists still spending time and tax dollars on a case they insist isn't connected to terrorism?

And then people in government wonder why their credibility with the rest of us continues to plummet?

Maybe the investigators should go here. Here. Here. And Here.


Generation Why's Jason Smith has a super idea - if you wonder what in the world is going on with the OU Suicide Bomber investigation, file an FOIA! Jason has the link to an FOIA letter generator that makes the process easy.

Instapundit to House GOPers: Go for Shadegg

Here's why:

Blunt, despite some reformist comments, is basically the candidate of business-as-usual. Boehner seems a bit better, but not tremendously different. Shadegg is the only one who seems like a plausible agent for reform, and it's going to be hard to persuade people who would like to see the GOP get back to its small-government, clean-Congress 1994 roots that there's any chance of that if they choose a business-as-usual Majority Leader.

That's Glenn Reynolds' opinion. Go here for the rest of his post.

U.S. Firms Aiding Iran's Internet Censors

Even as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other U.S. internet firms are getting much-deserved grief in this country over their support of the censorship requirements of the Chinese communist regime for doing business in that country, other domestic firms are aiding similar efforts of the Islamofascist regime ruling Iran.

Democracy Project's Bruce Kesler has a roundup of evidence from a variety of sources that paint a disturbing picture:

"While much attention is focused on the willing, profit-driven complicity of U.S. and Western technology firms in furthering China's Internet censorship, similar behavior in Iran is even more troubling. Simply, the immediate threat from Iran is more pressing, and some Western firms' trade behavior is even more contradictory to peaceful transition hopes."

Those transition hopes are essentially the argument that totalitarian regimes will soften and perhaps even fade into history as a result of the U.S. and other Western nations continuing their political, commercial and other relationships with nations like Iran.

That's the argument just made by Microsoft's Bill Gates regarding his company's involvement in China. President Reagan had a word to describe that approach - appeasement. It's bribing the alligator to eat you last.

The more immediate problem with Iran is the prospect that the ruling fanatics will succeed in developing a deliverable nuclear bomb and use it to destroy Israel before any such softening process - assuming one actually exists - has time to have an effect.

This is a serious problem and it seems almost inevitable that more revelations are coming of corporations in the U.S. and other Western nations aiding the many authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that remain the world, always as a price of doing business and with the comforting rationalization that doing business with tyrants can also be doing good.

Go here for the rest of Kesler's post.

Carnival of Cars is Up!

Over at Tapscott Behind the Wheel, the weekly Carnival of Cars roundup of interesting, exciting, exotic and funny links from around the automotive side of the Blogosphere is up and live.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

And Now the Bloggers Junket

My lunch hour was taken today with participating in an interesting discussion among a bunch of mainstream media luminaries and folks from the Left and Right sides of the Blogosphere. The luncheon was hosted at the National Press Club by Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

Officially, the topic of discussion was "Blogging and News Values," but what it became was yet another discussion of what, if anything, the mainstream media and bloggers share in the realm of values. It was a bloviator's heaven.

Wish I'd known about this at lunch. Beltway Blogroll's Danny Glover demonstrates that what's good for the goose is good for the bloggers, too. Or something to that effect. Sooner or later, bloggers have to address these kinds of ethics issues, just as the mainstream media folks have been doing for decades.

Coburn, McCain Letter Tells Senators Every Earmark Will be Challenged; Will Also Seek More Transparency Via New Senate Rules

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK. and Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, have circulated the following letter to their senatorial colleagues. This letter is the probable explanation for that giant gnashing of teeth you hear from the vicinity of Capitol Hill this morning!

January 25, 2006

Dear Senator __________,

As you know, the American people are currently engaged in a vigorous debate about our country's spending priorities. Many are openly discussing the propriety of earmarks and legislative policy provisions inserted into appropriations bills at the direction of individual lawmakers. We believe that the process of earmarking undermines the confidence of the American public in Congress because the practice is not open, fair, or competitive and tends to reward the politically well-connected.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of earmarks has skyrocketed over the past decade, from 4,126 in 1994 to 15,268 in 2005. We are committed to doing all we can to halt this egregious earmarking practice and plan to challenge future legislative earmarks that come to the Senate floor. This will give all Senators the opportunity to learn the merits of proposed earmarked projects and affirm or reject them. Even though votes on earmarks will undoubtedly be quite time-consuming, we sincerely believe that American taxpayers are entitled to a more thorough debate and disclosure about how their money is being spent.

We also believe that it is wrong to violate Senate Rules by inserting new provisions that are not included in either a Senate or House bill into conference reports at the last minute. The unsavory practice of inserting such provisions at the last minute stifles debate and empowers well-heeled lobbyists at the expense of those who cannot afford access to power. Decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent should not be made in the dark, behind closed doors. Therefore, we also plan to challenge future violations of Senate Rules, and, as necessary, we will offer proposals to strengthen current Senate Rules in order to increase transparency and accountability in the expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

While we know that this course of action may not be popular in Washington, D.C., we believe that it is the right thing to do. We look forward to working with you over the next year, and we hope that you will join us in a spirited debate about the direction of our country.


Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. Senator John McCain

Five Reforms To Let The Sun Shine on Congress

Those transparency issues bloggers have put front and center in the race to succeed Rep. Tom Delay as House Majority Leader are getting more national attention today. FOXNews.com has my op-ed with the five reforms that should be the foundation of genuine ethics reform.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Judge Rules Journalists Subject to Classification Law Like Everybody Else

It's escaped notice in the mainstream media thus far but that is not likely to last much longer, now that Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists has highlighted it in his email newsletter:

"'Persons who have unauthorized possession, who come into unauthorized possession of classified information, must abide by the law,' said Judge T.S. Ellis III. 'That applies to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever.'

"Judge Ellis's statement came at the conclusion of a sentencing hearing for Lawrence Franklin, the former Pentagon analyst who was charged along with two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) with felony violations of theEspionage Act.

"The extraordinary claim that mere possession of classified information triggers legal obligations leads to absurd conclusions, particularly since anyone who reads the daily newspaper comes into 'unauthorized possession of classified information.'"

Go here for the Justice Department news release on Franklin's sentencing. Go here for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's story on the Ellis decision.

Time for a New Jackson/Vanik to Stop Google's Gagging for China's Communist Regime

Democracy Project's Bruce Kesler lays it out in stark terms regarding the decisions being made by many of America's top online technology companies to cooperate with the repressive policies of the Chinese communist government in return for being granted access to "the world's largest market."

"If this were 60-years ago, would Google be agreeing to censor out news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in order to have access to Nazi Germany’s Europe? Why are we tolerating this corporate immorality? Is it time for a 'Jackson-Vanik' Amendment to reaffirm our nation's stand with the Chinese, and their future leaders, once the current thugocrats are replaced?"

Jackson-Vanik was a 1974 law that linked Soviet access to U.S. trade and aid to that communist regimes willingness to allow free immigration of Jews to Israel. The law was co-sponsored by Sen. Henry Jackson, D-WA, and Charles Vanik, D-OH.

Jackson-Vanik worked extremely well and made possible the massive influx of Soviet Jews to Israel that followed the law's passage.

A new Jackson-Vanik for the cyber age should link China's willingness to allow all of its citizens unobstructed and uncensored access to the Internet to that still-authoritarian regime's access to U.S. markets and companies.

When the lobbyists and PR spinmasters from Google, Yahoo, Intel and other Silicon Valley giants who have made deals with the Chinese devil start screaming about lost jobs and contracts, they should be referred to Peking.


PubliusPundit wonders why it's ok for Google to tell Uncle Sam where to get off but then voluntarily does exactly what the communist government in Peking demands.


Sometimes humor is the best way to make a deadly serious point. Scott Ott demonstrates here.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Problem Goes Beyond Pork

Carolina Journal's Paul Chesser is in The American Spectator today with a roundup of insights and observations about why only getting rid of the pork spending in Washington, D.C. will not solve the real problem.

And just what is the real problem, according to Chesser? It starts with a familiar buzzword:

"'Invest' is the favorite buzzword of politicians - both Democrat and Republican - who like to use other people's money to take chances in risky businesses. The results are often as scandalous as anything Abramoff has perpetrated.

"As is the Supreme Court-endorsed practice of employing eminent domain to give private property to developers, also in the name of economic development. You should already be familiar with the Kelo v. New London decision in Connecticut, which took away homeowners' land and gave it to a developer to build more tax revenue-generating commercial property.

"Similar situations exist in localities all over the country, like Riviera Beach, Florida, where officials want to displace a largely minority ('blighted') community on the waterfront in favor of a marina and more expensive houses.

"What it represents is a pervasive attitude throughout government, and extending through both political parties, that there are no rights of the people other than those granted by those in political power. Local and state government, with eminent domain and economic incentives, merely represent the farm system that leads to the big-time pork playground."

Read the rest of Chesser's analysis here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Why All the Hype on "Brokeback Mountain" Movie?

It's the talk of the town among the intellectualoids on the right and left coasts, but the rest of America apparently isn't all that impressed with a film about a gay cowboy and a gay sheep herder.

Here's how BM ranks on the charts after being in theaters for nine long weeks (thanks to John Hawkins of Right Wing News for compiling these numbers):

1) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: $285.5M
2) The Chronicles of Narnia: $271.9M
3) King Kong: $209.9M
4) Polar Express: $173.6M
5) Chicken Little: $133.4M
6) Walk the Line: $102.1M
7) Fun with Dick and Jane: $101.4M
8) Flightplan: $89.5M
9) Cheaper by The Dozen 2: $78.1M
10) The Family Stone: $58.6M
11) Yours, Mine, & Ours: $52.6M
12) Memoirs of a Geisha: $51.2M
13) Syriana: $45.4M
14) Hostel: $42.7M
15) Brokeback Mountain: $42.1 M

Notice, too, that George Clooney's "Blood for Oil" potboiler isn't exactly a gusher at the box office, either. So when do we see the critics and Hollywood trades admit that these propaganda pieces masquerading as movies appeal to extremely narrow slices of the movie market?

And how long before we see genuinely independent film makers who are much more in tune with the general public's tastes going around the existing distribution system by showing their products only on pay-per-view Internet sites?

Just think how much cheaper tickets would be and how much more convenient "going to the movies" would become with Internet-only distribution. And most important, can you imagine how much artistic creativity would be unleashed among movie makers by their being freed of Hollywood's conventions?

The mainstream media and popular music industries have been shaken to the core in recent years by the Internet. Hollywood could be next. Are you listening, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Anschutz?

Hawkins has more here.

UPDATE: Note to Commenters

Don't expect your comment to appear if it contains a personal attack on another individual. My Comments policy is to publish anything and everything so long as it doesn't contain a libel, defamation or otherwise include personal insults like calling somebody a "moron."

Which Major Daily Newspaper Will Lose the Most Readers in 2006?

Judging by the results of the non-scientific survey that has been running in the right-hand column of this blog for several weeks, it looks like The New York Times will be the big circulation loser for 2006 with 46 percent of the respondents checking the Gotham paper's box.

Second is The Los Angeles Times at 22 percent , while running third is The Philadelphia Inquirer at 11 percent. Biggest surprise is the low number of survey takers giving the nod to The San Francisco Chronicle, which lost an amazing 16 percent of its subscribers last year.

My personal pick is the Knight-Ridder Newspapers-owned Inquirer, which, along with the Philadelphia Daily News, has suffered staggering circulation, advertising and editorial staff losses for several years. The weakness of these two dailies is a major reason why Knight-Ridder is viewed by many industry observers as a prime takeover target.

For those who might wonder why this question is even a topic of discussion (and believe me, it is among the most intensely whispered-about topics at professional journalism gatherings these days), check out Hugh Hewitt's update of his Weekly Standard piece, "The Media's Ancien Regime."

Says Hewitt:

"Example for today: Why would anyone bother with The Washington Post's or The New York Times' accounts of yesterday's Candian elections? Ed Morrissey reported the results in real time, with pointers to all the Candian blogs anyone could need as well as an assessment of the likely government to result.

"The realities of information availability coupled with the nearly instant arrival of the appropriate experts to sort through that info is forcing old media to change everything it does. "

Add rising public dissatisfaction with the obvious liberal bias of the major media and the declining credibility of mainstream journalism as a result and you have a good inventory of the reasons why asking which daily will be the biggest loser of 2006 is precisely the right question.

Go here for the rest of Hewitt's observations and some interesting links to those of others.

Hillary Clinton: Religion, Not Terrorism, is the Problem

Oprah Winfrey gave Hillary Clinton an opportunity to strut her best stuff for her prospective campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, but the New York senator from Arkansas ended up trashing religion instead.

So, it's religion that encourages the sort of intolerance that inspires people to hijack commercial aircraft and fly them into big buildings, according to Clinton. Not Islamofascism, but "intolerance cloaked in religion." Since she didn't distinguish which particular faiths she had in mind, we can only presume she would include the Islamic, Christian and Jewish religions.

That's why, as Gateway pundit so eloquently puts it:

"Listening to Hillary you would think that Nuns in the Philippines are flying planes into buildings screaming 'Hail Mary!' or that devotees leaving a Billy Graham revival are heading to the closest restaurant to order a non-alcoholic beverage and then set off a bomb with their booby-trapped Bible."

The latent presupposition of Clinton's statement appears to be the familiar secularist equating of all religious faiths as mythical and therefore equally useless except as utilitarian bolsters of weak personalities.

Gateway Pundit has much more here.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Here's the Real Biggest News of Today!

Go here for the details.

New York Times Promotes NSA Spying Stories Editor, Intelligence Reporter

Rebecca Corbett, The New York Times editor who worked with reporters Eric Lichtenblau and Jim Risen on their controversial exposes of the NSA's "domestic" spying program, is being promoted to Deputy Bureau Chief in the newspaper's Washington Bureau.

The Times' Washington Bureau Chief Phil Taubman announced it in a memo to the newsroom:

"Rebecca is an exceptionally talented editor, great at unconventional thinking, working with reporters, refining complex stories and developing cooperative relationships with colleagues here and in New York. Those who have worked with her know that, and several of you have told me that you think Rebecca is the best editor you've ever worked with.

"More of you will have the chance to discover that in the months ahead. The Baltimore Sun won two Pulitzer Prizes for reporting projects she directed. In recent months, she has worked closely with Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau on their groundbreaking coverage of the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program."

Taubman also announced the promotion of Doug Jehl to a Deputy Bureau Chief position:

"Doug has set the standard for intelligence coverage in Washington since taking over the beat two years ago. I know that not only as one of his editors and readers, but because his competitors at The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations have told me so.

"With his background as a White House correspondent and Cairo bureau chief, and stints at the Pentagon, Doug is fully conversant with the full array of national security issues. He has been a prolific generator of ideas across that arena, has a knack for identifying and framing stories and has worked in productive partnerships with many reporters in the bureau."

Any bets on how long before Corbett receives one of those "subpoenee" things from the Justice Department regarding those NSA spy stories?

Go here for the full Taubman memo, courtesy of The New York Observer.

Los Angeles Times Stringer Gave Kerry $, Then Went to Work for the Newspaper

Early last year, I posted on what I found when I searched Political Moneyline's contribution data for donors identifying themselves as journalists. There were 42 who gave a total of 52 gifts to Democrat candidates, eight to Republicans and three to Lyndon LaRouche (More gifts than donors due to multiple gifts by individuals).

That March 21, 2005, post included this sentence: "Jennifer Lisle, a stringer who writes on real estate for The Los Angeles Times, gave $1,000 to John Kerry for President."

Out of the blue today, I received an email from Lisle:

"Your blog entry of Monday March 21 2005 is incorrect in naming me as an LATimes stringer and JOhn Kerry donor is incorrect. I donated the money for Kerry's campaign in early April 2004 but didn't start working for the LATimes until July of 2004."

I wonder if she thinks the fact she gave John Kerry money two months before going to work for the Times rather than after "proves" something about bias or lack thereof in her reporting?

Moving right along ....

... And speaking of The Los Angeles Times, this is VERY good news for readers of that troubled and often troubling daily - Matt Welch of Hit & Run has signed on as an Assistant Editor in the Opinion section.

There may be hope for the future of The Los Angeles Times after all.

First Amendment Wins a Big One at Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court got it right today on Wisconsin Right to Life v FEC. Here's a pdf of the decision, courtesy of RedState.org's Mike Krempasky. James Bopp, who argued the case before the High Court, is calling the decision "a major victory."

More to come. This decision ought to spark an avalanche of blogger commentary.

UPDATE: Blogger Reacts

Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog
Ann Althouse
Skeptic's Eye
Orin Kerr

More on The End of 20th Century Journalism

Hugh Hewitt did a little google search after reading The Los Angeles Times' front page story on the anniversary of Roe v Wade and found an interesting item on LiveJournal (scroll down to the fourth item).

It appears one of the reporters who authored the Roe v Wade piece was in Indiana recently to do a story on a state legislator's proposal to limit abortion. At the same time, the LiveJournal entry linked to above provided contact information for both the LA Time reporter and Planned Parenthood Director of Communications Theresa Browning.

Go here for Hugh's observations about the propriety of this apparent instance of coverage coordination between a major media outlet and one of the key advocates involved in the story being published.

Also, Hugh has added more responses from bloggers to his Weekly Standard piece about his visit to the Columbia Journalism School and his analysis of why the LA Times latest abortion coverage provides an apt example of what is irretrievably wrong with mainstream media:

"For a perfect example of the sort of agenda journalism that is killing the old media, and which CJS and all its sister schools will never be able to reform because left-wing reporters and editors aren't interested in reforming, see the front page scare-piece in this morning's Los Angeles Times: 'States Step Up Fight on Abortion.'"

Looks like the Weekly Standard piece has stirred up some significant buzz in the Blogosphere. Any bets on whether the same will be seen in the mainstream media?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Wide Support Among House Majority Leader Candidates for Bloggers' Reform Proposals

N.Z. Bear of Truth Laid Bear has completed compiling transcripts of the Talk Radio and blogger conference call interviews last week of the three candidates for House Majority Leader.

As Bear notes in his post, it is tremendously heartening to see all three candidates expressing varying degrees of support for three key congressional reforms advanced by bloggers:

"The full table of results can be seen on the main GOP leadership page, and there are predictably some key policy differences between the candidates.

"But in reviewing their responses, what struck me is how all three were willing to make broad commitments to key reform measures. Those who, like myself, are most focused on this race because of an interest in implementing genuine reform, will be heartened to see the wide consensus on proposals that probably would have been considered radical just a few months ago."

The three reforms include posting on the internet the full text of all bills and bill reports 72 hours before Congress is to vote on them, applying the Freedom of Information Act to Congress and making public the names of Members who requested specific spending earmarks.

No matter the outcome of the leadership race, Hugh Hewitt, N.Z. Bear and Glenn Reynolds deserve praise from bloggers and citizens everywhere for bringing together the three candidates, coordinating and publishing the interviews and forcing key reform issues to the forefront of the contest.

As Bear notes, this process is just a small taste of the power the Blogosphere can and will have to impact and shape policy-making and policy makers in government. Put another way, the Blogosphere reached an important milestone with this race.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Can 20th Century Journalism Make it in the 21st Century?

Blogger and Talk Radio host Hugh Hewitt has a fascinating and important column in the latest Weekly Standard entitled "The Media's Ancien Regime." To put it bluntly, Hewitt has little hope for anything remotely resembling a bright future for what has passed for much of the previous century as objective journalism.

In the course of reaching that conclusion, however, Hewitt provides quite an interesting account of his recent venture into the Columbia Journalism School at Columbia University in New York City.

Reading the Hewitt account of his experience at Columbia suggests a taste of what might result were it possible for a Paul Johnson of our own day to go back in time to observe and write an account of the latter days of the Roman Empire.

The occasion for Hewitt's journey to CJS was an invitation from Nicholas Lemann, the veteran New Yorker journalist who took over the journalism program two years ago, following a fundamental re-examination led by Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, of how the journalism program fits into the school's overall goals.

Lemann is one of the aging golden boys of 1960s journalism, having started out with an alternative newspaper in New Orleans and then gaining national recognition with extremely successful stints at Texas Monthly and Washington Monthly. He represents in many respects the very best of his generation of journalists.

Lemann seems to believe he carries a great burden for saving traditional journalism -the vision of reportorial objectivity whose historic and professional inspirations are drawn mainly from Joseph Pulitzer and Walter Lippman - and he believes he has found the tool with which to carry out the noble mission.

It is a tool that immediately caught my eye because it is one with which I am quite familiar. As related by Hewitt, Lemann explained it in this manner:

"Lemann's hope for this course is to cultivate in his students a capacity to discover and analyze data. He repeatedly uses the term 'power skills,' and he has in mind a deeper appreciation, and use, of more sophisticated research and analytical skills than most journalists bring to the table.

"'Regression analysis is the best example,' he tells me. 'Every social science study in the United States depends upon regression analysis, but almost no reporters understand it. You can't read and understand these studies if you don't know how regression analysis works. I taught myself how to do it, and we are going to teach the M.A. students, equipping them to go beyond their ordinary reliance on dueling experts interpreting studies.'"

What Lemann is talking about is what is otherwise known as Computer-Assisted Research and Reporting (CARR). I left a daily newspaper in 1999 to start just such a program at The Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy.

In the years since, more than 200 editors, producers, reporters and researchers, as well as a growing number of bloggers in recent months, have graduated from the eight to 10 "CARR Boot Camps" I oversee each year at the National Press Club in coordination with the latter's Erik Friedheim Library, ably assisted by a bevy of Heritage colleagues who just happen to be masters of statistical analysis.

My enthusiasm for CARR is grounded in the belief that it holds the potential to change the basic journalism paradigm based on anecdote and selective quotation to one based on objective data-driven analytical reporting.

Put another way, CARR can move reporters from a "Bush said/Critics responded" approach to one in which the claims of all participants in the public policy debate, including those of government officials, think tank analysts and non-profit community advocates, are subjected to a trial-by-statistical fire.

Simple Example: Politician Jones claims his education subsidy program has caused improved student academic performance by increasing public spending on schools. Such a claim is easily assessed via such statistical tools as the regression analysis so valued by Lemann.

We've also begun using instructors from other think tanks, including the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. If you recognize those as left-of-center outfits, you begin to see why Lemann has such hopes for those power skills and the future of traditional - i.e. objective - journalism.

There is no "conservative way" or "liberal way" to teach journalists how to use an Excel spreadsheet to analyze a county government's budget. Either you know how to use Excel or you don't. So I am eager to recruit statistical experts from throughout the think tank comnunity because so many of them have skills that are desperately needed by journalists and bloggers.

Hewitt is deeply skeptical that Lemann's approach will be sufficient to save traditional journalism and, based on my own experience in the newsroom and the journalism classroom, I am inclined to agree, though for slightly different reasons.

Hewitt thinks mainstream or traditional journalism is doomed because its myth of objectivity has been irretrievably exposed as fraudulent:

"Every conversation with one of the old guard citing the old proof texts comes down to this point: There is too much expertise, all of it almost instantly available now, for the traditional idea of journalism to last much longer.

"In the past, almost every bit of information was difficult and expensive to acquire and was therefore mediated by journalists whom readers and viewers were usually in no position to second-guess. Authority has drained from journalism for a reason. Too many of its practitioners have been easily exposed as poseurs."

Lemann is right to look to those "power skills" for the salvation of traditional journalism. I believe the underlying problem driving the demise of traditional journalism, however, is not a lack of practical skills but a desperately serious absence of intellectual independence in the newsroom.

Don't misunderstand me. Certainly the legions of reporters and editors with whom I have worked and managed during my decade and a half in the newsroom is far from a scientific sampling of contemporary journalism.

But the problems I have observed directly over the years are evident throughout the profession. You need only read the front pages of the great dailies. Too many journalists blindly accept as gospel the essential goodness of government programs in solving societal problems.

What skepticism they can muster is typically saved for critics of activist government who are understood primarily through the lens of stereotype and newsroom uniformity of thought seen in the extraordinarily high percentages of journalists voting Democratic.

This intellectual laziness is the main - but not the only - reason why so much mainstream media reporting in print and broadcast comes across as biased in favor of liberal Democrats and against conservative Republicans. Journalists simply do not think to ask either themselves or the politicians they cover the most basic question: Is a public policy claim true or false?

Lemann knows public policy claims can often be shown through statistical analysis to be true or false or only partly true or false. The biggest problem he faces in reforming traditional journalism, however, is not a lack of intelligence or idealism or commitment among those who aspire to such a career.

The great obstacle is that too many of the aspirants aren't even aware of their inability to pose the most basic questions and to then think through the possible answers in a logical and systematic manner.

They listen to the politicians but then instead of asking "let me see the data upon which you base your claim," they uncritically parrot the assertions and balance them with a few quotes from "the other side."

I hope that Hewitt and I are both wrong and that Lemann succeeds in sparking a reformation of traditional journalism that is known by its accuracy, fairness and comprehensiveness in reporting the great issue and events of the day.

But the odds are overwhelmingly on the side of those of us who see in the blunt skepticism and outright hostility to conventional wisdom of so many bloggers the most fertile ground for the growth of public policy journalism that deserves respect and inspires trust.

UPDATE: Austin Bay and "the Bomb" at CJS

Austin Bay - who undoubtedly qualifies as a modern Renaissance Man par excellence - was at Columbia University in the early 80s and happened to take a Journalism Ethics course there on a lark.

He tells us of the day the professor threw out a hypothetical drawn from history that he clearly designed to trap the naive young scribes before him in an ethical quandry from which they likely could not extract themselves.

Bay knew what the professor was doing almost immediately (thus revealing the vital importance of journalists knowing the history that went before them before writing the first draft of the history that follows them) and ended up leading the distinct minority in the class that voted the right way.

Bay further describes subsequent vignettes of his relationship with the professor and thereby illustrates a major part of the flaw that continues to hobble the mainstream media from understanding why it faces being dropped in the dustbin of history in the not-so-distant future.

Go here for the full Bay, which is always a pleasure.

UPDATE II: Stan Running Two Minute Offense

And finding much to agree with in Hewitt's original piece and in my response. He also has some prescient points of his own to make regarding the similarities between good trial lawyers and good journalists.

Bloggers Getting Behind Operation Iraqi Child

Everybody in the LaLaLand of television and movies is a raging Leftist who hates America and thinks George W. Bush is really Hitler reincarnated, right? Not quite. If you ever watch the CSI series you probably recognize actor Gary Sinise.

Sinise went to Iraq in 200, saw a critical need to help Iraqi kids get back in school after years of war and oppression authored by Saddam Hussein and came home determined to do something about it. Out of Sinise's effort came Operation Iraqi Children.

Blogging journalist Michael Yon's recent dispatch does a tremendous job of explaining the work of OIC and why it is among the most important things being done in Iraq. In many respects, OIC is literally cradling the future of Iraq and the freedom of Iraq's citizens.

That's where another blogger comes into the picture. Trevor Bothwell of Democracy Project is organizing bloggers - including Tapscott's Copy Desk - to join the OIC effort by putting together school supply kits to be distributed through OIC.

If you are familiar with Rev. Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse and its annual Christmas Child shoeboxes, the OIC school supply kits will be instantly familiar. Each kit includes the basic necessities for a child in school such as paper, pencils, erasers and so forth.

Bothwell is encouraging bloggers to sign up to provide as many kits as possible. It's a great way to do something vitally important for millions of Iraqi kids and to provide the same opportunity for your friends, neighbors and acquaintances at the office, church, professional group or other assembly.

Email Trevor at bothwelltj@yahoo.com and let him know you are getting behind the effort. The Lord knows the good you will be doing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

25 Years Ago Today: Here's President Reagan's First Inaugural Address

As one who played a small part in the election and administration of President Ronald Reagan, I am proud to post this text of his First Inaugural Address. The italicized and bolded line is my favorite and in many respects best expressed President Reagan's faith in the American people.

Note: Go here to hear an audio of President Reagan's First Inaugural Address.

Thank you. Thank you.

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O'Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens:

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion. And, yet, in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other. And I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our republic.

The business of our nation goes forward.

These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery and personal indignity.

Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity. But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why then should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation?

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding - we're going to begin to act beginning today. The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

All of us together - in and out of government - must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable with no one group singled out to pay a higher price. We hear much of special interest groups. Well our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected.

It knows no sectional boundaries, or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we're sick - professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, "We the People." This breed called Americans.

Well, this Administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs.

All must share in the productive work of this "new beginning," and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy.

With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America at peace with itself and the world. So as we begin, let us take inventory.

We are a nation that has a government - not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the states or to the people.

All of us - all of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the states; the states created the Federal Government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it's not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work - work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before.

Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of Government.

It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We're not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.
So with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams.

Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes - they just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond.

You meet heroes across a counter - and they're on both sides of that counter. There are trepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity.

There are individuals and families whose taxes support the Government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

Now I have used the words "they" and "their" in speaking of these heroes. I could say "you" and "your" because I'm addressing the heroes of whom I speak - you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this Administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your make-up. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen - and loving them reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they're sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic "Yes." To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I've just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world's strongest economy.

In the days ahead, I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow - measured in inches and feet, not miles - but we will progress.

It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise.

On the eve or our struggle for independence a man who might've been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans:

"Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question upon which rest the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves."

Well I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to insure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children's children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it - now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so, we have the best chance of never having to use that strength.

Above all we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.

I am - I'm told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day; and for that I am deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each inaugural day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in history that this ceremony has been held, as you have been told, on this West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city's special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man: George Washington, Father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence.

And then beyond the Reflecting Pool the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kinds of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man - Martin Treptow - who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, "My Pledge," he had written these words: "America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone."

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans. God bless you, and thank you.

National Journal Notes "Rise of the Blogs"

Beltway Blogroll proprietor Danny Glover is also a National Journal regular and the latest issue has a package of his focusing on the growing importance in the political process of the Blogosphere.

Glover covers all the bases and has separate links to his email interviews with such Blogosphere luminaries as Henry Copeland, Glenn Reynolds, Arianna Huffington and Andy Roth.

Perhaps the most incisive point of Glover's piece is his observation that blogs on the Left had a major role in defeating President Bush's Social Security reform push in 2005. That is a point that has received little attention in the mainstream media and it is quite possibly the most important example of the growing impact of the Blogosphere on politics.

Go here for the main bar.

Kerry Donor Advising Congress on Legality of NSA Intercepts Program; DOJ Posts Memo on Issue

Mainstream mediaites, Democrats on Capitol Hill and Left activists the world over are beside themselves with froth and fury over a Congressional Research Service study released a few days ago that questions the legality of the Bush NSA program for eavesdropping on telephone conversations between people in the states and al Qaeda types overseas.

Now it turns out that the author of that study was a financial supporter of the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign. And not just a $50 here and $25 there donor, either. His name is .... no, wait a minute, if I tell you that now you will miss Tom Maguire's superb analysis of the state-of-play on the legality issue and how it is being (mis)-reported by the MSM.

So go here and read the whole JustOneMinute post. Then not only will you have a new insight into the continuing isolation of the analyst staff at CRS, but you will be absolutely up-to-date on the legality of a classified program that may be a key to our ability to stymie future 9/11s. Hey, no need to thank me, thank Maguire.

Somebody else to thank is whoever leaked the Justice Department's 42-page memo explaining and defending Bush's legal authority to initiate the NSA program to a liberal blogger. Wizbang's Rob Port has some interesting comments about the memo and links to the publishing site and a pdf of the memo itself.

I especially appreciate this comment by Port: "As has been pointed out several times before on this blog Congress has always been capable of acting as a "check" on these executive powers being utilized by the President."

Port is exactly right because in any showdown among the branches, Congress has "all the ultimate weapons," thanks to the Constitution. And we aren't only talking about the fact the Congress holds the purse strings.

The "ultimate weapons" argument was superbly made by Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their "The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition." This is a must-read for anybody who presumes to comment about American politics.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

So You Want to Talk About Corruption in High Places ....

It's hard to believe but there is still a functioning Independent Counsel investigating crimes alleged to have happened during the presidential administration of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

That would be Special Counsel David Barrett, who was appointed in May 1995 to probe allegations against then-HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Cisneros pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge and paid a fine of $10,000 four years later, but Barrett continued working.

A finished report is expected sometime in the near future, as in a few months into the near future. NRO's Byron York estimates that Barrett's probe has cost more than $19 million to date.

Meanwhile Gateway Punit has details about what the forthcoming report will include regarding allegations that senior officials covered up a tax fraud case against Cisneros. And Gateway Pundit promises more to come. Go here for the details.

Pence Endorses Shadegg as Bloggers Quiz Majority Leader Candidates

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence has endorsed Rep. John Shadegg, R-AZ, to succeed Rep. Tom Delay, R-TX, as House Majority Leader. Pence, an Indiana Republican had himself been encouraged by many bloggers and conservative movement leaders to seek the post.

Also seeking the post are Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, who has filled in for Delay for several months on a temporary basis, and Rep. John Boehner, R-OH.

In his statement, Pence said:

"Two weeks from today, the Republican Congress will face a choice of enormous significance in the life of our nation and our majority. As chairman of the Republican Study Committee, it is always my goal to take action, with deliberation, in the best interests of our members and the conservative movement.

"Out of respect for the fact that members of RSC would be supporting a variety of candidates, I had intended to withhold any endorsement in the race for Majority Leader. But given the addition of a prominent RSC member to the field and given that many members have already expressed a preference, it has become clear to me that an earlier, personal endorsement is now appropriate.

"My choice is John Shadegg. While I see Roy Blunt and John Boehner as conservative men with honorable records of service in Congress, I am proud to endorse John Shadegg for Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.

"John Shadegg is a proven conservative leader in Congress. During his years as chairman of the Republican Study Committee and the House Policy Committee, John Shadegg has demonstrated a passion for the conservative agenda and a heart to build bridges between the diverse members of our Republican conference.

"John Shadegg is a son of the Republican revolution, a member of the fabled class of 1994, and a leader who has never lost his zeal for reform. John Shadegg knows what fiscal and moral reforms are necessary to restore public confidence in the integrity of our national legislature.

"Now, more than ever, we need leadership with the energy and vision to steer this Congress back to our roots of fiscal discipline, limited government and traditional values.

"John Shadegg is the right man with the right agenda to lead our majority during the challenging days that lie ahead. I humbly urge all my colleagues to support John Shadegg of Arizona as our next Majority Leader."

UPDATE: Bloggers Get Historic Telly Time With Candidates

Meanwhile, each of the three candidates are being interviewed today via conference telephone calls by bloggers covering the contest. I'll be posting links to as many of the posts that result from the three interviews as they become available to them.

Here are links to audios of the interviews: Shadegg. Boehner. Blunt.

For reactions from participating bloggers, see below. I will be updating and adding to these links as I find them. By the way, this whole process shows in a small way how bloggers can have a direct role in both delivering news more quickly than the mainstream media and moving government towards greater transparency:

First off is LaShawn Barber, who asked Shadegg, the first to be interviewed, the first question. She liked what she heard. You can find out why here. You will want to go back to LaShawn's post as she will be updating it with her thoughts on the remaining two interviews.

RedState's Mike Krempasky noted that Shadegg addressed the fact Blunt has not resigned his temporary post, which may well be an intimidating factor for other Members who wonder about the consequencs of voting against the Missouri Republican.

Krempasky also participated in the Boehner interview and was not at all impressed.
That's what I call being blunt with Blunt.

Michelle Malkin was impressed with Shadegg's "passionate commitment to limited government" and much else.

Hugh Hewitt thinks Shadegg is a man who plays hardball and who is out to win. Sounds good to me, folks!

James Joyner listens to Shadegg and hears a True Believer in the Goldwater tradition. With Boenher, Joyner heard some smooth evasions.

Finally, Hewitt explains why it's historic and Truth Laid Bear puts it all together in one handy chart.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Rep. Roy Blunt Claims to "Have the Votes"

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-MO, sat down in front of the mike with Hugh Hewitt today and addressed the same bevy of questions the Ralk Radio Host/Blog Prophet put to representatives John Shadegg, R-AZ, and John Boehner, R-OH, earlier this week.

The three men are candidates for House Majority Leader and the winner will succeed Rep. Tom Delay, R-TX, who resigned the position as a result of his legal difficulties in Texas and in connection with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Blunt claims to have sufficient votes to win the Feb. 2 vote for the second most powerful leadership position in the House of Representatives. Delay's nickname was "The Hammer" for his ability to produce Republican votes on key issues in the House. Blunt has been acting House Majority Leader for several months, as Delay's legal troubles mounted.

Hewitt asked Blunt about his position on making public the names of Members requesting earmarks, posting legislation at least 72 hours before it is voted on by the House and applying the Freedom of Information Act to Congress.

Here are the three key questions from Hugh on measures to increase transparency in the House and Blunt's answers:

"HH: Mark Tapscott, my colleague in blogging over at The Heritage Foundation has proposed that any candidate for the leadership support the idea of proposing that all earmarks be identified by the name of the requesting member. Do you support that transparency?

"RB: I actually proposed that more than half a year ago, and I absolutely support that. The Member that makes the request should identify that it's their request. They should identify who that's going...what entity gets the money, as much about that entity as we determine needs to be on the public record, and then exactly what public service, what public purpose is served by this entity having this opportunity.

"And it may be a great public purpose of someone that the Member knows about some entity, some agency, some not-for-profit, that can provide what the federal government's now doing at a much more reduced and effective rate, if they're given a chance to have just a little assistance to get that program off the ground.

"HH: How about pre-publication, 72 hours before a vote, on the internet, of the text of a bill?

"RB: You know, looking at the conference reports, we may have to think about the realities of that when we get near the end of the session, with some waive ability if there is a real crisis. I don't have any...I think the more information we have out there earlier, frankly, the easier it is for the whip to do their job, and that's the job I've had for the last several years, or the leader to do his or her job. And that's the job I've had for the last hundred days or so.

"HH: How about applying FOIA, along with its exception for national security confidentiality to the Congress?

"RB: And FOIA is...

"HH: Freedom of Information Act.

"RB: It depends on what you mean along with its exceptions.

"HH: Okay, but generally speaking, if you're communicating with an agency as a Congressman, I'd like to be able to see what the Democrats are writing, and that sort of stuff.

"RB: Oh, sure. And I think you should be able to see what we're communicating."

I must admit, it is a bit disconcerting that Blunt appears not to be sufficiently familiar with the FOIA to recognize what the acronym means. Probably indicative of how important it is to apply the FOIA to Congress.

Go here for the transcript of the Boehner interview and here for the transcript of the Shadegg interview.

By the way, here are the announced candidates for the other two House GOP leadership positions being determined Feb. 2. If Blunt doesn't win the House Majority slot, he will remain as House Majority Whip and there would be no election in the GOP caucus for the latter post:

House Majority Whip:
Eric Cantor, R-VA
Todd Tiahrt, R-KS
Zach Wamp, R-TN
Mike Rogers, R-MI

House Republican Policy Committee
Darrell Issa, R-CA
Phil Gingrey, R-GA
Thad McCotter, R-MI
Adam Putnam, R-FL