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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Failing Federal Programs Don't Have to be "the Nearest Thing to Eternal Life on Earth"

Why keep federal programs alive that have failed year after year to deliver what they were promised to deliver? Obviously, such federal programs should be terminated, right? It seems like such a logical, common-sense conclusion.

Unless you live in the nation's capitol where, as Political Palavar's Jared Young notes, President Reagan once mused that a federal program is about as close as we are likely to ever see eternal life on this earth.

But maybe it doesn't have to continue that way. Political Palavar has a suggestion here.

Blogger Protection Act May Be Nearing Hill Vote

That's what I'm hearing this morning from knowledgable Capitol Hill sources. The bill is known officially as H.R. 1606. You can read the bill summary, text, legislative status update and much more here.

"Strategery" Confirms TCD Reading of Bush/Cheney Media Plan; MSM Like Whale Oil Merchants

Drudge Report is running outtakes from The Washington Examiner White House reporter Bill Sammons' new book, and the book is getting lots of attention throughout the Blogosphere as a result of quotes that suggest President Bush and Karl Rove, his chief political advisor, have a good understanding of the media revolution.

What I find most interesting is how "Strategery" seems to confirm my own recent suggestion during the Cheney accidental shooting controversy about how Mainstream Media's declining importance is increasingly reflected in White House communications planning and operations.

Drudge notes this passage:

"'I find it interesting that the old way of gathering the news is slowly but surely losing market share,' Bush said in an exclusive interview for the new book Strategery. 'It’s interesting to watch these media conglomerates try to deal with the realities of a new kind of world.'"

"'And the amazing thing about this world we live in is that there's a kind of free-flowing, kind of bulletin board of ideas and thoughts out there in the ether space, sometimes landing on somebody's desk and sometimes not, but always available. It's a very interesting period.'

"'I think what's healthy is that there's no monopoly on the news,' Bush said. 'There's competition. There's competition for the attention of, you know, 290 million people, or whatever it is.'"

That absolutely squares with what I suggested during the Cheney flareup was the Bush view of the alternative media versus the MSM:

"Unless one is prepared to argue a conspiracy theory - Cheney used the delay between the accident and when the call was made to the newspaper to shape what was said to the reporter and to local law enforcement authorities - it is clear Cheney thought a local newspaper was more likely to report the accident accurately than a confrontational, liberally biased White House press corps.

"The context for that decision is simple: Like it or not, the mainstream national media long ago lost much of its credibility with the public and has for many years been losing great chunks of its audience to Talk Radio, cable news and the Internet. The MSM is no longer the mainstream or national."

To put this into an historical analogy, the Cheney incident - and now what we are seeing in the Sammon book - is like the situation in the 19th century when petroleum was just beginning to replace such energy sources as whale oil.

The MSM today is like whale oil merchants then - they still have a big chunk of the market, but it's clear as the Carolina sky is blue that the future belongs to the new energy source.

Monday, February 27, 2006

MSM Looks Other Way as Iraqis Crowd Streets Demonstrating For Unity, Peace

Looks like our Danish Embassy demonstration Friday isn't the only important such event getting the silent treatment from the mainstream media. I saw this post yesterday in Gateway Pundit but not a word on the front pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Does that mean it's not news when thousands of Iraqis brave the threat of death from the insurgents and demonstrate in favor of national unity and peace? And traditional journalists wonder why people are convinced they don't get the whole story from the mainstream media?

More Proof That Big Charity is no Better Than Big Government, Big Labor, Big Business, Etc.

Captain's Quarters' Ed Morrissey says he quit giving to the United Way some years back when that massive charity became the focus of a national scandal. Now it looks like there is reason to do the same with the Red Cross, thanks to a piece in The Washington Post today.

Cameras for the Nation's Highest Court

Amy Ridenour says she has been on a soapbox advocating putting TV cameras C-SPAN style in the Supreme Court for a long time. I agree. Go here for Amy's post this morning, which includes links to some of her previous discussions of the issue, as well as to a case by Ann Althouse that ought to be applied to the issue.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Who Are These Two Guys?

Patrick Rockefeller took this shot at the Danish Embassy, too, but judging from the appearance of these two characters, he might be thinking of disavowal. The fat guy on the right is yours truly. James Joyner of Outside the Beltway is at left.

Signs of the Times

These photos are by Patrick Rockefeller.

And More Lego Our Free Speech Photos

Photographs by Patrick Rockefeller.

Photos From Today's Demonstration at Danish Embassy

That's Cliff May, right center, and Bill Kristol, center background. Patrick Rockefeller took this photograph.

MSMers Strut Their Biases at Mainstream Media's "Academy Awards of Journalism"

Political Palavar's PolPal was at last night's National Press Foundation Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. where MSMers like long-time politics reporter Jack Germond were feted and celebrated by colleagues from the print and broadcast sides of mainstream media.

The dinner is an annual affair and is an interesting spectacle for anybody curious about how MSMers act when they are the only ones in the audience. PolPal was not exactly impressed with what he saw and heard:

"Hitting his full stride, Sage Germond pontificated on exactly why Bush was elected. 'The American voters couldn’t see through George Bush’s promise to protect them from terrorism.'

"Thanks for that, Jack! It’s good to know that more than 62 million (55% male and 48% female) Americans are idiots because they voted for President Bush.

"Without your 'Distinguished Contribution to Journalism' surely our country would be lost!"

Go here for more.

White House Report Blames Katrina Failures on Shortage of Bureaucrats

Scott Ott has the scoop. Too few bureaucrats and not enough turf-jealous agencies among the dozens involved in responding to Hurricane Katrina, according to the latest White House report.

Time to Stand With Denmark For Americans' Freedom of the Press, Speech; Sitzpinklers Stay Away from Danish Embassy Demo

Journalist Christopher Hitchens recently called for a demonstration of support today at the Danish Embassy for Denmark and the principles of freedom of speech and the press.

Hitchens specifically called on journalists and bloggers in the D.C. area to join him.

I will be there. If you are in the D.C. area and care about your First Amendment freedoms, understand that Denmark and Jyllands Posten, its embattled newspaper, are standing in for America. We are the Great Satan the Islamofascists really want to kill.

Standing with the Danes today in D.C. is a good place to show where you really stand.

UPDATE: No Sitzpinklers at Demo for Danes

There were between 75 and 100 folks on the street outside of the Embassy of Denmark today at noon, with more than a few carrying handmade signs and many modestly chanting support for freedom of speech and the Danes on a cold, windy Friday afternoon in the nation's capital.

Organizer Christopher Hitchens of Slate.com was in jovial spirits, as indeed it seemed was the case with everybody present. I heard a few foreign accents but the crowd overwhelmingly was young, fervent and American.

Among the media folks covering the event was Molly Hennenberg of FOX News. I saw at least two other camera crews and there seemed to be a handful or so of print reporters circulating among the demonstrators asking questions and taking notes.

Among those in the crowd I saw were James Joyner of Outside the Beltway blog, Tony Blankley, Editorial Page Editor of The Washington Times, Cliff May, President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, and Washington Standard Editor Bill Kristol.

I had to leave about half-way through the proceedings and there were another dozen or so folks walking toward the scene as I walked away. The Danish embassy is located two long blocks up a sidestreet that goes to the top of a large hill near Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.

Traffic was snarled a bit and there is virtually no street parking in that part of D.C., so lots of people were arriving on foot after a very long walk up that hill. Just getting up the hill was a demonstration of devotion to the principle of freedom of speech.

I'll have some photos to post later today, so check back.

By the way, there clearly were no "sitzpinklers" in this crowd. As Captain's Quarters' Ed Morrissey explained earlier today, sitzpinkler is a German word for a man who urinates from a sitting position. The word also carries the connotation of being a wimp.

Morrissey challenged readers to use "sitzpinkler in a sentence today." How's this, Ed? "The sitzpinklers stayed in their newsrooms today, choosing the comfort and safety they imagine behind brick walls instead of the cold reality that talk is cheap, free speech isn't."

UPDATE II: Vital Perspective Has Photos!

And lots of them from a rally at which "Washingtonians showed their peaceful solidarity with the people of Denmark." Go here for the post.

And here's more from Joyner, who attended despite having a very difficult time getting to the event.


Patrick Rockefeller kindly provided some of his photos of the demonstration to Tapscott's Copy Desk. That's Hitchens in the center of the photo above. Look for more photos in the latest posts above. Here. Here. Here. And here.

A bunch more photos at Corsair the Rational Pirate, including one over the head and shoulders of Hitchens as he speaks to the crowd, with Molly Henneberg of FOX News and her cameraman looking on in the front row.

There was even a Kierkegaardian moment, as documented by Vodkapundit, who also received photos from Patrick Rockefeller.


Hitchens speech is up. Age of Hooper has it here.

UPDATE V: Perfect Timing

Denmark's biggest paper, Jylland-Posten, is the one that started this brohaha by publishing the controversial cartoons. Now, the day before our demonstration at the Danish embassy, the paper is recognized with a major journalism award.

The Victor Award was given for "having opened everyone's eyes by showing how easy it is to introduce cracks in freedom of expression and how so-called political correctness is infiltrating what we believe to be inalienable rights," said Hans Engell. He's the editor of tabloid Ekstra Bladet, which awards the prize.

HT: Michelle Malkin

UPDATE VI: Power of Blogs

Linda Seebach, veteran Rocky Mountain News editorial columnist, emails this note about the demonstration's coverage in the Blogosphere compared to that of the mainstream media:

"It might be of interest to note that the first wire service story to cross our desks was from Cox News Service by way of the NYT News Service, and it moved at 3:22 p.m. our time (though it had been announced on the Cox budge tnearly three hours earlier). By then it had been covered on a dozen blogsand I had had time to fashion an editorial out of Hitchens' speech."

UPDATE VII: A Final Word About Organizing

Roger L. Simon, one of the founders of Pajamas Media, has some thoughts about the low turnout and the absence of mainstream media coverage. Considering the short notice and the fact the demonstration was called by a lone journalist rather than an organization. the turnout of 100 or so folks doesn't concern me so much.

What does concern me is the absence of the MSMers. FOX News was there but otherwise it was if the MSMers couldn't be bothered. To my knowledge, this was the first demonstration in support of the Danes and free speech here in America, so that made the event significant news. The networks and the Post, Times, etc. should have been there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Carnival of Blog Coverage is Up!

Beltway Blogroll's Danny Glover has the first edition of his great new blog, Carnival of Blog Coverage, up and it is a doozy. Right off the bat, Glover points me to a piece in Insight magazine I missed last week about how the White House political operation headed by Karl Rove expects the Blogosphere to play a larger role than the mainstream media in determining the outcome of the 2006 congressional elections.

Wish I'd known about that Insight report when I wrote this piece last week about how the Cheney shooting suggested a White House that has decided to act in its communications strategies on the reality of the MSM's severely declining importance in American public life.

About the Port Deal: Bloggers Left and Right Are All Over the Map on This One

California Conservative was among the first Right blogs to question the proposed award of a contract to administer six major American ports to a company owned in part by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

But as answers have come forth from the White House and elsewhere to the many questions about the proposed contract, California Conservative has moved from the opposition column to a position of being satisfied with the explanation.

Over at Hotline's Blogometer, William Beutler offers a comprehensive rund0wn of who is and has been saying what on the issue on the Left and Right sides of the Blogosphere. Also here.


PoliPundit's D.J. Drummond has the list of the top 25 U.S. ports, plus a balanced analysis of the proposed deal, including this interesting observation:

"The Department of Transportation notes that freight comes into and out from the United States in a number of ways, including seaports but also airports, trucks, and rail. So in addition to ships, you have to worry about trains, planes, trucks and automobiles bringing in bad people and dangerous weapons.

"And as for the ports, I personally worry less about the most significant ports, which also attract the bulk of attention from law enforcement and the DHS, than I do about the hundreds of small ports which get very little attention at all.

"If I was going to sneak in a WMD, for example, I wouldn’t try New York or Houston or Long Beach, but rather one of the places no one ever thinks about. Just like the coyotes who have been bringing illegals across the border have done for more than a century."

The U.S. has 361 seaports. The proposed deal causing the controversy covers only six of the largest.

Go here for the rest of Drummond's post.

Liberals, Muslim Activists Agree, Free Speech Really Isn't Free; OK to Stifle Dissent (And How Bill Bennett Misses This Point)

If nothing else, the swelling global controversy over those Danish cartoons has exposed a critical point on which too many Western liberals agree (in deeds, if not always in words) with Islamic extremists calling for suppression of such journalism.

Little Green Footballs points to a recent meeting in Philadelphia in which an influential American Muslim leader made clear his belief that freedom of speech has limits. And those limits sound very much like the limits favored by liberal academics behind the speech-limiting codes on major college campuses across America:

"'People have every right to give an opinion on something,' Rachel Lawton, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, said. 'You cross the line when you threaten, intimidate or harass, and that is when free speech is limited.'

"CAIR board member Mazhar Rishi agreed. 'The right to free speech is not absolute,' Rishi said. 'It does not give a right to defame Prophet Muhammad or any other' religious figure."

CAIR is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is frequently described in the mainstream media as a voice of "moderate" Muslims in this country. Rishi is not listed as a board member on CAIR's web site. The article cited by LGF is from The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania.

The "cross the line" argument from Lawton is perhaps the most frequently used justification by academic liberals and their student acolytes for campus speech codes that restrict freedom of speech on a variety of grounds.

See law professor Cass Sunstein's Democracy and the Problem of Freedom of Speech for a full explication of the liberal view on why some speech should not be protected. "Hate" speech concerning religion is far from the only expression deserving of suppression; criticism of incumbent congressmen 60 days prior to an election should also be proscribed, according to many liberals.

You can read much more about abridgement of freedom of speech by American liberals on campus on the web site of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which does a wonderful job of combatting these anti-First Amendment codes in the courts and the media.

FIRE also has details on similar attacks on free speech at other campuses, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Chicago and Century College in Minnesota.

Of course, the First Amendment does not read "Congress shall make no law abriding ... the freedom of speech (except when it crosses somebody's imaginary 'line') ..."

UPDATE: More Who Crossed Somebody's Line

And speaking of people who seek to stifle others' freedom of speech, check out Scott Johnson's latest Powerline update on the efforts of Minnesota Democrats to shut down television advocacy ads featuring veterans of the conflict and their families speaking in support of the War in Iraq. The Dems think if they kill the ads in Minnesota, they will keep them from being aired elsewhere in America.

Guess those GIs "crossed the line."

UPDATE II: Kirtley "Non-plused"

Noted First Amendment lawyer Jane Kirtley at the University of Minnesota tells the Star-Tribune.com that KSTP, a local television station that rejected the veterans' ads, had every right to do so, but she's "non-plused" by that decision.

Perhaps Kirtley, a charter member of the Freedom of Information Hall of Fame, said more but Star-Tribune reporter Mark Brunswick failed to report it.

UPDATE III: Bill Bennett misses the mark on MSM and the cartoons

Normally, I agree with most everything Bill Bennett says, but Captain's Quarters' Ed Morrissey's post this morning points to something important the former Secretary of Education and federal drug czar appears to have missed in preparing an otherwise superb op-ed in The Washington Post, co-written with celebrity lawyer/talking head Alan Dershowitz.

Bennett and Dershowitz properly upbraid the MSM for failing to publish the Danish cartoons. It's not merely that the MSM has a constitutional right to publish such material, the unlikely duo argue, the MSM has a constitutional duty to do so:

"We two come from different political and philosophical perspectives, but on this we agree: Over the past few weeks, the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities. To our knowledge, only three print newspapers have followed their true calling: the Austin American-Statesman, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Sun.

"What have they done? They simply printed cartoons that were at the center of widespread turmoil among Muslims over depictions of the prophet Muhammad. These papers did their duty."

And how do Bennett and Dershowitz explain this failure? They ascribe it to a lack of guts in the newsroom in the face of threats of physical retaliation by rioting Muslims enraged by the Danish cartoons:

"To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists - their threats more than their sensibilities."

But that is where Bennett and Dershowitz miss the point: As a practical matter, many MSMers are undoubtedly intimidated by Muslim threats of retalilation but when the response to the cartoon controversy is viewed in the longer context of McCain-Feingold, it becomes clear why the MSMers hotly deny that fear is the reason for their decision not to publish the offending material. In the final analysis, it's not the fear that counts.

Remember, the MSM is overwhelmingly liberal and one of the chief tenets of liberalism these days is that freedom of speech "has limits," as illustrated in the Philadelphia situation described at the top of this post.

What liberals define as "hate speech"includes, selectively to be sure, mocking an individual's religion. Such speech "crosses the line" and is justifiably excluded from legitimate public discourse.

So of course the liberals who dominate the MSM are not going to publish those Danish cartoons. They are self-censoring "hate speech" and while they likely reject the methods of the Muslim extremists' censorship, our liberal MSMers cannot disagree with the underlying principle justifying the censorship.

This is not to say that all liberals support censorship. I know and respect many who don't. But the truth is that support, especially on college campuses, for speech "codes" that proscribe some kinds of politically incorrect speech comes virtually uniformly from liberals and others on the Left of the political spectrum.

Conservatives have got to understand this fact about contemporary liberals - they define much of what we conservatives have to say in public debate as hate speech and they are willing to use the force of government to silence us.

If you doubt me, look at McCain-Feingold. Then look at the liberals response to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the attempt by President Bill Clinton and other liberals to pin responsibility for that terrible event on the "climate of hate" allegedly created by conservatives in Talk Radio and elsewhere.

Then go back to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and the extensive use made by officials in both of the Fairness Doctrine to silence religious and political conservatives in the old media.

For our liberals, it's not a question of if freedom of speech should be stifled, but rather how. For conservatives, freedom of speech is a matter of our survival as full participants in the public policy debate.

HT: Little Green Footballs

Work! The Best Katrina Recovery Strategy

LaShawn Barber links to a Houston Chronicle online story about three New Orleans Council members who believe the government has done too much for many Katrina evacuees who should be doing more for themselves.

Said New Orleans Council President Oliver Thomas:

"'We don't need soap opera watchers right now,' said New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas, during a housing committee meeting. 'We're going to target the people who are going to work. It's not that I'm fed up, but that at some point there has to be a whole new level of motivation, and people have got to stop blaming the government for something they ought to do.'"

Such common sense sentiments naturally drew expressions of "concern" from some of Houston's politically correct politicos. LaShawn has more here. My only question is why did it take so long for somebody to say these things?

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: 18 Pages to Apply for Food Stamps, Three For an Earmark

A congressional aide who prefers to remain anonymous did a little checking and turned up these interesting facts comparing how many pages are required to apply for things like Food Stamps and pork barrel projects AKA "earmarks:"

Food Stamps - 18 pages (In Virginia. Might be less or more in other states)

Cub Scout Application Form - 7 pages

Social Security Card - 5 pages

Sen. Murkowski's Earmark Application Form - 3 pages

and how much for a politician who tells the truth? - Priceless

MSM = "Controversy, Crap and Confusion?"

Captain's Quarters' Ed Morrissey solicited readers for logo ideas based on former senator Allan Simpson's description on FOX News Sunday of the mainstream media as "controversy, crap and confusion."

Ed is getting a steady stream of suggested logos in response, many of which are quite good. My favorite among those submitted thus far is above. If you haven't checked'em out yet, go here to do so. And if you have some ideas of your own, Ed wants to hear from you.

By the way, with last week's Cheney contretemps and this week's UAR port deal blowup, it appears the Bush White House is in the midst of one of those downsides of the PR cycle. That means the bounce from SOTU and other January developments ended with a poll rating around 40-42.

It's like the basketball that keeps bouncing back up but a little lower each time. Who will be the first MSMer to declare Bush's as the shortest second term in history?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

FBI Wants Dead Student's "Privacy Release" Before Answering FOIA on OU Suicide Bomber Probe

Joel Hinrichs blew himself up Oct. 1, 2005, with a bomb strapped to his body as he sat on a bench near the stadium where 84,000 people were watching the OU-Kansas State football game in Norman, Oklahoma.

Within hours, the FBI's Joint Task Force on Terrorism and OU President David Boren claimed Hinrichs was a lone suicide with no known terrorist connections. Now, more than four months later, the FBI probe remains officially open and the bureau refuses to provide documents requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Generation Why's Jason Smith is the latest FOIA requestor to get the run-around from the FBI but this time the bureau came up with a novel way of playing the idiot's treatment game with the law. The FBI says it must have a privacy waiver from Hinrichs before Smith's FOIA request can be fulfilled!

Observes Smith: "Apparently the reference to the 'individual in question' blowing himself into a million tiny pieces didn't clue the records folks into the difficulty of obtaining such a waiver."

No, Jason, it's not that the records folks at the FBI don't understand that Hinrichs is dead. It is precisely that they do understand that fact and are using it to give you the run-around. This is classic federal bureaucratic run-around in action.

Most Washington journalists have experienced it more often than they care to remember, myself included. And it doesn't make any difference whether the documents being sought are held by a law enforcement agency like the FBI, a national security agency within the Department of Defense or a civilian agency like the Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal bureaucrats (though usually not those tasked to administer the FOIA) are masters at manipulating the law to delay, obfuscate or otherwise circumvent the FOIA, which says all government documents are available on request to the general public unless they fall under certain reasonable exemptions. Needless to say, the "get a privacy waiver from the dead guy" tactic isn't reasonable.

It's simple: The bigger government gets, the less truth and accountability there will be in our nation's capitol. The Founders knew this truth and wrote a constitution designed to guarantee limited government. The FBI response to Smith's FOIA on the Hinrichs case is merely the latest evidence of how far we have fallen away from the Founders' work.

Speaking of FOIA requests, on Jan. 12, 2006, this author submitted FOIA requests for records pertaining to the Hinrichs death to the Justice Department's Executive Office for United States Attorneys, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

To date, only ATF has acknowledged and responded, as required by federal law. Thus far, Justice and the FBI have failed to respond as required by federal law.

Go here for 10 reasons to believe the least reasonable explanation for Hinrichs death is that he was a lone suicide.

And these people wonder we doubt their credibility when they tell us Hinrichs acted alone and had no known terorrist connections?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Photo by Blasko is Up!

Welcome Andrew Blasko, one of my colleagues at The Heritage Foundation, who has taken the plunge into the Blogosphere and started Photo by Blasko here. Andrew is a former AP reporter who also happens to have a keen eye for camera angles, lighting and action.

Andrew expects to use his blog primarily as a means of showcasing his photography, but I have a feeling the writing bug is about to bite him and hard. Keep an eye on this one because Andrew is a talented shooter and a very perceptive observer of people and politics.

By the way, the shot accompanying this post is one of his early samples. Believe it or not, that is a shot of one of Washington, D.C.'s major thoroughfares.

Surprise, Surprise! Byrd, Stevens Are First Porkbusters Hall of Shame Inductees; Clinton, Baldwin Secure Dishonorable Mentions

It will come as no shock to anybody familiar with the ways of Washington that Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV, and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, are the first inductees into the Porkbusters Hall of Shame.

Byrd has built a career on his ability to deliver federal tax dollars to his constituents from one end of the Appalachians to the other and in the process gotten his name attached to more buildings, parks, roads and bridges on a per capita basis than previously thought possible by even the most naive political analysts.

Noted Porkbusters Hall of Shame Maximum Leader N.Z. Bear in announcing the winners:

"In his over 48 years (!) in the United States Senate, Senator Byrd has achieved a pork record that is second to none. From the Robert C. Byrd Expressway to the Robert C. Byrd Freeway; the Robert C. Byrd Institute to the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building (both of them), Senator Byrd has truly left his mark on West Virginia - and the federal budget. (And let us not overlook the proposed Robert C. Byrd rooms in the U.S. Capitol.) It would be appropriate to erect some kind of monument to his century-spanning resume --- except that he already did so himself."

No Porkbusters Hall of Shame would be complete, however, without the name of Alaska's longest-serving senator being prominently associated with the proceedings. Stevens' recent outpouring of passionate outrage at the thought of limits on his porking got the attention of even the most apathetic of his fellow citizens.

Observed Bear in his announcement of Stevens' selection:

"If Senator Byrd is the Emperor Palpatine of pork, then Ted Stevens has clear aspirations to be his Darth Vader. The Dark Side of the pork Force runs strong with this one, and it runs straight over a Bridge To Nowhere. But it isn't so much the mere fact of Stevens' ability to bring the bacon back to Alaska that makes him Hall of Shame material: it's the fierce pride with which he does it. His impassioned vow on the floor of the Senate to 'be taken out of here on a stretcher' if Senator Tom Coburn's effort to de-fund the famed Bridge passed has entered into the annals of Senate history - and his continued devotion to Pork has landed him in our Hall of Shame."

Byrd and Stevens pork immortality is now assured but two other solons of slime gained Dishonorable Mentions, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, who were the first recipients of the Billie Jean King Award.

Go here for more information on the Porkbusters Hall of Shame and learn how you, too, can join in the fun and excitement of spotlighting porking politicians and other career criminals roaming unchecked across the American political process.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Rumsfeld Says Government Must Recognize Role of Blogs, Other 21st Century Communications Advances in Planning,Fighting War on Terror

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came to Washington with President Bush primarily for the purpose of updating and reforming the military for the 21st century. Then came the Global War on Terror, the invasion of Afghanistan and the War in Iraq. The reform effort has been slowed but not sidetracked.

Evidence that Rumsfeld is still very much thinking ahead to how the military must adapt to 21st century media and communications technologies was provided earlier today when he spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

The Defense Secretary sees blogs playing a central role in the development of the government's ability to fight the information aspects of the war on terror on a 24/7 and global basis and to maximize our ultimate advantage:

"For the past minutes, I have been commenting on the challenges our country - not just our government - faces in fighting a war in this new media age. And while the enemy is increasingly skillful at manipulating the media and using the tools of communications to their advantage, it should be noted that we have an advantage as well: and that is, quite simply, that truth is on our side - and that ultimately, truth wins out. I believe with every bone in my body that free people, exposed to sufficient information, will, over time, find their way to right decisions."

But the process of getting to that point is likely to be a long one and we are in the very early stages of the development:

"Throughout the world, advances in technology are forcing a massive information flow that dictatorships and extremists ultimately will not be able to control. Blogs are rapidly appearing even in countries where the press is still government-controlled."

Go here for the full text of Rumsfeld's address.

HT: Beltway Blogroll

Getting to Know a District

Do not miss Rep. Jack Kingston's appearance on Colbert's new 435-part series. This sets a new standard in long-form broadcast journalism! Actually, Kingston probably thought it was very long form.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Time for the C-SPAN of the Blogosphere

Danny Glover at Beltway Blogroll has the details from the Left and the Right! This is VIP, Blogospherians.

Cheney Shooting is a Reality Check for the MSM

Vice-President Dick Cheney's decision to inform a local Texas newspaper instead of the White House Press Pool about his hunting accident sparked outrage in the daily briefing room and a flood of hot commentary in the mainstream media elite and the Left side of the Blogosphere.

On the Left and among top national Democrats, the most common and simplistic take on Cheney's actions following the accident goes something like this: The Bush administration hates the press, loves secrecy and abuses its powers against its perceived enemies, much like Richard Nixon did in the Watergate Era, so Cheney was simply acting in character by sticking a thumb in the eye of the White House press corps.

A much more sophisticated take on the significance of Cheney's post-accident media strategy is found on Prof. Jay Rosen's always entertaining PressThink blog. At the height of the Plamegate controversy, Rosen presented a theory in which he posited that Bush has consciously undertaken a "Rollback" strategy meant to isolate and discredit the national media.

Here's Rosen's thesis statement on the meaning of Rollback:

"My bigger picture starts with George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Andrew Card, Dan Bartlett, John Ashcroft plus a handful of other strategists and team players in the Bush White House, who have set a new course in press relations ... The Bush team's methods are unlike the handling of the news media under prior presidents because their premises are so different.

"This White House doesn't settle for managing the news - what used to be called 'feeding the beast' - because it has a larger aim: to roll back the press as a player within the executive branch, to make it less important in running the White House and governing the country, but also less of a wild card in fighting enemies of the state in the permanent war on terror."

Rosen goes on to list what he sees as the arguments underlying the strategy:

"Depending on audience and situation, rollback is seen as:

* Newly necessary (terrorists exploit the weaknesses of an open society, and a headline hungry, exposure-minded, irresponsible and unaccountable press gives the bad guys too much of an edge);

* Long overdue (the 'liberal media' is thought to be the opposition's camp, and culture war demands that it, like the others, be routed);

* Well-suited to George W. Bush (who is impatient with critical questioning, and not good at sparring with the press without misspeaking);

* In tune with Americans (who don't buy the heroic image the press has of itself);

* A consequence of a more disciplined and loyal White House (which stays on message and doesn't leak without authorization);

* Payback for Watergate (among some Republicans with long memories.)"

Put simply, according to Rosen, Rollback is designed to:

"Back 'em up, starve 'em down, and drive up their negatives: this policy toward the press has many strengths as a working piece of politics, and supporters of it abound within the Bush coalition. I believe the ultimate goal is to enhance executive power and maximize the president's freedom of maneuver - not only in policy-making, and warfare, but on the terrain of fact itself."

Rosen was ahead of many of the mainstream media's most perceptive political observers and analysts in seeing a White House media strategy that went way beyond simply spinning journalists to advance the Bush policy agenda.

Now, fast-forward to Cheney's post-accident media actions. How does Rosen see this controversy in the context of Rollback?

"The way I look at it, Cheney took the opportunity to show the White House press corps that it is not the natural conduit to the nation-at-large; and it has no special place in the information chain.

"Cheney does not grant legitimacy to the large news organizations with brand names who think of themselves as proxies for the public and its right to know. Nor does he think the press should know where he is, what he's doing, or who he's doing it with ..."

"The handling of the news that Cheney shot someone is consistent with many things we know about the Vice President - and about the Bush Administration's policies toward the press ... Cheney's methods after the hunting accident were classics in rollback thinking."

The good professor is right, there is clearly a more deeply thought-out communications strategy in the Bush administration than in any previous White House, including Mike Deaver's famous "Morning in America" campaign during the Reagan era.

But I think Rosen misses a critical element of the Bush strategy in a way that is exemplified in the quote immediately above. Note the first graph's reference to Rosen's bellief the White House sees no special place for the White House press corps. Then note the reference to "Bush administration policies toward the press."

Clearly, Rosen sees the White House press corps as synonymous with "the press" as an institution, just as do folks generally in the mainstream media. Rosen assumes the Bush people do, too.

Put another way, the meme goes something like this: If White House press spokesman Scott McClellan is anything less than obsequiously forthcoming in response to questions from David Gregory, it proves Rollback is aimed at repealing the "freedom of the press" clause of the First Amendment.

I haven't talked with anybody in the Bush White House and have only met Dan Bartlett once in my life (and I suspect he was not impressed!), so I don't claim any special knowledge here. But I'll bet dollars to donuts that Rollback has nothing to do with repeal of the First Amendment and everything to do with a hard-headed recognition of a new reality about the definition of "the press" and the communications strategy that follows from that definition.

Cheney called the local newspaper because, he said, he was more confident the resulting story would be accurate, based on an eyewitness account to a reporter with a history of playing it straight with that eyewitness.

"I thought that made good sense because you can get as accurate a story as possible from somebody who knows and understands hunting," Cheney told Fox News' Brit Hume. "Then it would immediately go up to the wires and be posted on the Web site, which is the way it went out. I thought that was the right call. I still do."

Unless one is prepared to argue a conspiracy theory - Cheney used the delay between the accident and when the call was made to the newspaper to shape what was said to the reporter and to local law enforcement authorities - it is clear Cheney thought a local newspaper was more likely to report the accident accurately than a confrontational, liberally biased White House press corps.

The context for that decision is simple: Like it or not, the mainstream national media long ago lost much of its credibility with the public and has for many years been losing great chunks of its audience to Talk Radio, cable news and the Internet. The MSM is no longer the mainstream or national.

Indeed, one can make the case that entirely apart from ideological considerations it is rapidly becoming possible to communicate effectively with the general public without according the shrinking mainstream media anything remotely like the respect it once commanded. And still demands.

And nobody in this or any other White House is naive or stupid enough to think they can silence Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly or Powerline. Or DailyKos, MyDD or Comments from Left Field. Or PressThink, Tapscott's Copy Desk or (Lord help them if they ever try) Jeff Jarvis!

Bottomline: Rollback means "reality check."


Mark in Mexico knows a lot about quail hunting. He also knows arrogant ignorance when he sees it, such as when Newsweek's Managing Editor Jon Meachum talks about the Cheney accident. Here's his summary graph on what he heard:

"So, on Monday morning, a full 16 or so hours after the story had come out and a lot more details were known as well as a lot that were still not yet disseminated, the managing editor of Newsweek on a nationally syndicated radio show demonstrates his ignorance of quail hunting outside the state of Tennessee with servants and Bloody Marys, insults the victim (twice) and slanders the vice president. Does one wonder why ad revenues are down at Newsweek and the magazine survives with pithy stories about Michael Jackson's sexual preferences for young boys and Janet's boob flopping? I don't."

Go here for the rest of Mark's fisking, which includes some interesting observations about campesinos and snake chaps.

UPDATE II: Karl Rove Knows

Turns out I was more right than I realized about the White House recognition of the declining importance of the MSM. Check out this story from Insight, including this observation:

"GOP sources said Mr. Rove and his team of White House strategists have determined that bloggers are more important than the mainstream media in shaping public opinion. They point to the turnaround in public opinion during the confirmation hearings of then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito."

Looks like at least some of Alito's enduring significance might be his (unintended) role in opening White House eyes to the power of the Blogosphere.

Is There an Earmarks Reform Meeting on the Hill Today?

Lots of buzz on Capitol Hill today about a somewhat mysterious meeting allegedly scheduled for 4:00 p.m. that should be of interest on the Porkbusters front. It's supposedly a meeting of the "Senate Appropriations Committee Task Force on Earmark Reform," a panel that I've not previously heard of but which sounds like it might be a positive development.

My first reaction upon hearing of this gathering was, of course, to ask if the meeting is open to the public. When I called the press secretary of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, Jenny Manley said she was unaware of such a meeting and didn't think her boss was involved in it. Cochran's Senate office can be reached at 202-224-5054.

So does anybody else out there know any more? If there is indeed such a task force and it really is devoted to ridding Congress of the Culture of Earmarks, that is big news and folks need to know about it.

More here at the Porkbusters web site maintained by the illustrious Truth Laid Bear.


Speaking of the Culture of Earmarks, USA Today breaks a significant story today about the apparent role of a senior aide to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, in securing earmarks that benefitted her lobbyist husband.

Specter is best known these days as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committtee, but the Pennsylvania Republican also has a long history of, shall we say, interest in earmarking federal funds to specific projects.

UPDATE: The Meeting That Wasn't Was

Well now, after all we were told last week that the secret meeting wasn't real, now it turns out that it was. Townhall.com's Tim Chapman has the details, including a link to a Congressional Quarterly story about the meeting.

In Defense of the Right to Offend

Does Freedom of Speech extend to saying things that others find deeply offensive? That is a familiar debate in America, thanks to the First Amendment.

The following column by the Freedom Forum's Charles Haynes considers the issue in the context of the Mohammed cartoons explosion:

As protests continue, the debate begins.

Many difficult issues have been raised by the publication of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad by a Danish newspaper - as well as by the violent reactions to it. But for all who worry about how fallout from the controversy will affect free speech, one question stands out:

Does freedom of expression include the right to offend deeply held religious convictions?

This question is, of course, the subject of a long-simmering debate in Europe and the United States between those who advocate full-throated freedom of speech and those who push for bans on "hate speech" that offends racial, ethnic or religious sensibilities. When a crisis hits - especially one that precipitates violence - the free-speech argument often loses ground.

Consider the statement from the Vatican last week deploring the violent reactions to the cartoons, but going on to declare that "freedom of thought or expression ... cannot imply a right to offend the religious sentiments of believers" no matter what the religion.

According to the Catholic News Service, the Vatican believes that where free speech crosses the line and becomes offensive to religion, national authorities "can and should" intervene.

The Vatican is not alone. Although European governments have been careful to couple statements criticizing the cartoons with noble pronouncements about support for freedom of expression, their track record on protecting those freedoms is decidedly mixed. Long before the cartoon controversy, the pattern in much of Europe has been to invoke "hate speech" laws to prosecute "offensive" speech.

Denmark, ground zero for the cartoon conflict, has a blasphemy statute that calls for a fine and up to four months in prison for demeaning a "recognized religious community." Writing on Salon.com, Jytte Klausen describes the case of Mogens Glistrup, "a tax protester turned xenophobe" who was "imprisoned for 20 days last year for a racist speech. He compared Turks to "rabbits."

It remains to be seen if the Muhammad cartoons will be prosecuted as "racist speech" in Denmark, but other verbal and written attacks on Muslims have triggered legal action in a number of European nations.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, British prosecutors are preparing a case against leaders of the right-wing British National Party based on speeches in which one called Islam a "wicked" faith. And in Italy, author Oriana Fallaci faces trial later this year on charges that she slandered Muslims in her book "The Strength of Reason."

In the United States, thanks to the First Amendment, the government can't restrict speech because it is sacrilegious, blasphemous or just plain offensive. But that doesn't stop people from trying.

From the left, we get "speech codes" on college campuses banning speech that might offend racial, ethnic or religious groups. And from the right, we have efforts to yank government funding from museums displaying art that religious groups find demeaning.

Censoring speech offensive to religion, it turns out, is a popular idea in the land of the free. In a poll taken by the First Amendment Center in 2004, nearly half of Americans don't think people "should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to religious groups."

But before traditionalist believers in Europe or the U.S. get too excited about the prospect of banning blasphemy, they should keep in mind that government censorship of speech they don't like will likely mean censorship of speech they support.

A Swedish pastor was recently taken to court for preaching against homosexuality. Although he was acquitted, his trial won't be the last in Sweden or in other nations where governments are given the power to define the "hate" in hate speech.

With all due respect to the Vatican, freedom of religion does not mean freedom from offense. On the contrary, full religious liberty is only possible in a society committed to freedom of expression.

Throughout history, much of what has been said and written in the name of one religion offends people of other faiths, or of no faith. If offending "religious sentiments of believers" became the standard, we could no longer publish the writings of Martin Luther, Voltaire or countless other authors whose works take sides in matters of religion.

What is truth to some is blasphemy to others.

The right to offend is, in fact, at the heart of religious freedom in America. The landmark case defining the free exercise of religion in the United States, Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940), was all about the right of one faith to offend another.

Jesse Cantwell, a Jehovah's Witness, was convicted of a crime because he played a phonograph record on the street that offended two Catholic men (the record had some especially nasty things to say about the Roman Catholic Church).

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Cantwell’s conviction, ruling that religious liberty and free speech protect the right to offend. Writing for the Court, Justice Owen J. Roberts put the issue this way:

"In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification ... But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of citizens of a democracy."

Justice Roberts had it right. It is always messy and often painful, but only a society that protects the right of all voices to be heard - however offensive or unpopular - can call itself a free nation.

Charles C. Haynes is senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22209. E-mail: chaynes@freedomforum.org.

Bring Shadegg In From the Cold

Congressional leadership elections are usually the ultimate form of insider's baseball and thus usually are of little interest to sane people who don't commute each day to a job on Capitol Hill.

But the race a few weeks ago for House Majority Leader turned into a national story when Rep. John Shadegg, R-AZ, entered, vowing major reforms in the way Congress does business.

Shadegg received 40 votes on the first ballot and ended up throwing his support to the ultimate winner, Rep. John Boehner, R-OH. There is virtually no doubt that Boehner would not have won without Shadegg's support.

Indeed, there is little doubt that Shadegg's entry in the race turned the election into a referendum of sorts on the GOP Establishment in Congress. Shadegg and Boehner both ran on promises to shake things up but the Arizonan made the race of national interest.

So what now for Shadegg? House leaders on the GOP side of the aisle would be wise to bring Shadegg into a visible position in their ranks. Doing so would put some meat on their vows to get serious about cleaning up congressional ethics.

Not doing so will give the lie to those vows in the most vivid possible manner.

Tim Chapman at Townhall.com's Capitol Report has more thoughts on this topic here. Chapman says there is talk along these lines among the House GOPers he covers. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Two Important Congressional Hearings Today

Go here to listen to the entire Able Danger hearing. And go here for a comprehensive assessment of the China censorship hearing.

Is Democracy Slipping Away in Britain?

From Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (No, not that Times, the one in London):

"Now I know what I am about to tell you is difficult to believe (Why isn't this on the front pages? Where's the big political row?) but I promise you that it is true. The extraordinary Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently before the House, gives ministers power to amend, repeal or replace any legislation simply by making an order and without having to bring a Bill before Parliament.

"The House of Lords Constitution Committee says the Bill is 'of first-class constitutional significance' and fears that it could 'markedly alter the respective and long standing roles of minister and Parliament in the legislative process.'"

Go here for the rest of this sad story.

HT: The Corner on NRO

Says It All

Hugh Hewitt brings together in one post all the reasons the mainstream media doesn't understand why the White House Press Corps meltdown over the Cheney quail hunt accident is very bad news for the future of traditional journalism.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: University Offers Credit for 'How to Get an Earmark' Course

The school is George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., which has a reputation as a generally conservative school in the ocea of liberal academia, so it is perhaps surprising to see the institution granting academic credit for a course in how to get an earmark.

The course is part of TheCapitol.Net's "non-partisan training and publications that show how Washington works." Allen G. Merten is GMU's President. If you would like to ask him why his university is granting academic credit for a course that teaches how to rip off taxpayers, email him at: amerten@gmu.edu.

This is TheCapitol.Net's second appearance on Tapscott's Copy Desk.

Smith Tells China Censorship Hearing He Wants To "Bring Down the Great Firewall of China"

Rebecca MacKinnon of RConversation is live-blogging today's joint hearing of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on China's internet censorship. This is the first-ever congressional hearing in which bloggers were specifically invited to live-blog the event.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, said in his opening statement that he hopes the hearing can focus "on a discussion on how American high-tech firms can partner with the U.S. government and human rights activists to bring down the Great Firewall of China, and on how America's greatest software engineers can use their intelligence to create innovative new products to protect dissidents and promote human rights."

Smith is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-CA, is the Ranking Minority Member of that subcommittee. MacKinnon reports on Lantos' opening statement:

"Lantos' message: 'Your abhorrent activities in China are a disgrace. I simply do not understand how your corporate leadership sleeps at night.' Citing the parallel between complying with Chinese censorship and complying with German government censorship of Nazi websites is 'beneath contempt.'

"The German government is acting as democratic representative of the people. China has rubber stamp parliament, the Chinese government has no moral qualms about suppressing religious and political dissent. If the Chinese government passes a law saying that all women are forbidden to use email will Google comply?

"These companies tell us that they will change China. But China has already changed them."

Go here for RConversation's complete live-blogging.

Also live-blogging the hearing are Tim Chapman at Townhall.com's Capitol Report, Clayton at RedState.org and Human Events Online. Oh yes, The New York Times also is live-blogging the hearing.


China just happenned to release a statement today through its state media denying that it censors the Internet or arrests people publishing online. In fact, claims China's Liu Zhengrong, Vice Head of the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office, said "no one in China has been arrested simply because he or she said something on the Internet," according to Reuters.

Gallup Survey May Mean Blog Boom Is Over

Blog Triumphalists may want to step back and examine a new Gallup survey that found no growth in the blog audience in 2005. There are even signs that the readership went down during the year past.

"The audience for web logs or 'blogs' had an auspicious start, going from practically zero to almost 20 in a very short time frame (20 being the percentage of Americans today who report reading blogs on at least an occasional basis," the Gallup News Service said Feb. 10 (subscription required).

"However, according to recent Gallup data, it seems the growth in the number of U.S. blog readers was somewhere between nil and negative in the past year," Gallup said.

The data upon which that statement was based was drawn from Gallup's annual Lifestyle survey conducted Dec. 5-8 2005, which found nine percent of internet users saying they read blogs frequently, 11 percent read them occasionally, 13 percent read them rarely and 66 percent never read them.

Those figures are virtually unchanged from the results of the same survey one year ago, according to Gallup. Although the response options varied slightly on the two surveys, Gallup said the results were so similar that "it is reasonable to draw some inferences. The main inference is that blog readership did not grow in 2005."

Gallup also noted, however, that there was little year-t0-year change in the frequency for most of the common activities conducted online by Internet users, including getting news and weather reports, shopping, paying bills and playing games. Blogging ranks on par with downloading music and participating in online auctions, according to Gallup.

Blog readers tend to be younger, Gallup said. About one in five Internet users under the age of 30 are blog readers, compared to only one in 10 among older Americans. Democrats are more than twice as likely to read blogs frequently than Republicans but there is little difference by party among all blog readers.

The Lifestyle survey includes telephone interviews with 1,013 randomly selected adults. Gallup says the survey has a 95 percent confidence level that the margin of error is three percent.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Are the 'Bama Church Fires Anti-Baptist Bigotry?

Terry Mattingly at GetReligion.org fisks some of the MSM reporting on those church fires in rural Alabama and comes away wondering if "lacking the racial hook, this story is not a major, national story because the victims do not fit into an standard template for hate-crime coverage. I mean, might this actually be a case of anti-Baptist bigotry?"

It's a logical question when you take a close look at what is being reported and how. Go here for the full analysis by Mattingly.

The only observation I would add is that I am struck by the paucity of coverage for these church fires and the long-running absence of coverage of systematic mistreatment and not-infrequent brutal genocide regularly carried out against Christians of all denominations in Muslim countries like the Sudan and Indonesia. Is there a parallel here?

BTW, GetReligion.org is a group blog and an excellent source for reasoned, factual and historically informed analysis of current public policy issues and their religious implications. It's going on my blogroll today.

Why I'm Not Blogging About the Cheney Birdshot Blowout by the White House Press Corp

Amy Ridenour gets right to the point here.

Not the Way to Stop Bad Press: AFT to Protest John Stossel's "Stupid in America"

Education Intelligence Agency's Mike Antonucci reports American Federation of Teachers officials are so incensed with John Stossel's recent documentary on the sad state of education in America that the union is organizing a nationwide protest.

But to make sure onlookers and protesters alike understand the reasons behind the protest, AFT is having to distribute copies of the documentary - "Stupid in America" - to refresh memories. As Antonucci observes, this is not exactly a great PR strategy:

"By the time March 8 rolls around, most of the public will have to be reminded what the Stossel report was about. Indeed, UFT representatives are handing out VHS and DVD copies of the program to members.

"I'm hard-pressed to see how a business that requires eyes on advertising to make money will suffer from having its show passed around, talked about, and protested about, with mountains of free news coverage."

The lesson here may well be that the AFT and its co-monopolist in public education, the National Education Association, are in the early stages of learning just how 19th century monoplies truly are in the Internet age. When oceans of information are available instantly to everyone via the Internet, monoplies cannot survive for long.

Go here for Antonucci's full report in the latest edition of his weekly newsletter. You can also go here for the Stossel report.

Monday, February 13, 2006

House Hearing on U.S. Tech Firms Helping China Suppress Dissenters Will be Live-Blogged

Three blogs are signed up as of this afternoon to live-blog Wednesday's hearing of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, Africa and International Operations hearing on U.S. technology firms and China's suppression of online dissent, according to Beltway Blogroll's Danny Glover.

Townhall.com, Human Events Online and RedState.org will all three have bloggers present for the hearing that will examine the role of U.S. firms like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco in making it possible for the Chinese communist government's identification of dissenters posting on internet web sites.

Glover has more details here, including a list of scheduled witnesses who will testify on three separate panels.

The House Subcommittee is the first congressional panel to specifically encourage coverage by bloggers. Previously, bloggers live-blogged the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, but the House Subcommittee is the first congressional panel to provide a wireless connection specifically for bloggers.


Glover is doing a super job of reporting the growing list of illustrations of blog influence in government and the media. Go here for his report of how a Virginia blogger's live-blogging the Old Dominion's state legislature and found himself noting to a legislator: "How funny to sit here and watch you on TV and write about it while you sit and read what I'm writing about what I'm watching on the TV."


RedState.org's Clayton Wagar will be among the bloggers covering the hearing live and he has something up his sleeve. Go here to find out more.

Did You Know Abe Lincoln Was a Blogger, too?

At least he was until he got one too many hateful comments and emails, acccording to The View Through the Windshield's Joe Sherlock. Go here for a recently discovered page from Lincoln's Civil War era blog.

Wise Words on Immigrants From an MSM Columnist

Tannette Johnson-Elie writes about small and minority owned business issues for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and her recent column focusing on immigrants building businesses in the 'hood is full of good sense and blunt wisdom.

For example, ever wonder why so many cleaners, neighborhood groceries and convenience stores in the inner city are owned and operated by immigrants? Johnson-Elie has the answer:

"How many of us have driven through blighted inner-city neighborhoods and shaken our heads in disgust as we passed the dilapidated houses, the abandoned storefronts and vacant lots that glisten with broken glass? Immigrants see a goldmine where we see hopelessness."

The reason they see goldmines is because they are ready to make the commitment to the hard work, perseverance against the odds and personal sacrifices required to create a successful business, regardless where it is located.

There is abundant evidence, according to Johnson-Elie, that all of us benefit when such businesses succeed:

"New research by Michael E. Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and founder of the economic development think tank, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, has found that inner cities with the greatest job growth count immigrants as nearly a third of their populations. Conversely, inner cities with low percentages of immigrants are losing jobs.

"Porter's research, along with other recent studies, show that immigrants bring something you can't get from a government program: work ethic and job-creation skills, and ambition coupled with the resolve to make the most of the investment others have made in them."

After you read go here to the rest of Johnson-Elie's column, go here for her news feature that puts human faces on the statistics behind the success of immigrant-owned businesses in the innery city.

Now, how long before Johnson-Elie gets a bigger audience in the MSM?

Thanks to LaShawn Barber for bringing Johnson-Elie to my attention. Which brings me to the last and most important point in this post. LaShawn offers a wonderful meditation in response to the issues raised by Johnson-Elie. This is a must-read.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Building An Earmark Industry in the Nation's Capitol

You may have seen those television spots for a law firm that says "if you have a phone, you have a lawyer." In Washington, D.C., there could easily be a spot that says "if you have $500, you can have an earmark."

That spot would be appropriate for TheCapitol.Net, which promises to teach customers everything they need to know about getting earmarks for just $495. National Journal's David Baumann was so impressed with TheCapitol.Net that he made it his lead for a comprehensive analysis of Washington's growing culture of earmarks.

Thanks to Beltway Blogroll's Danny Glover, you can read Baumann's piece here without having to be a National Journal subscriber.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Where Have We Heard Words Like These Before?

Who said this?

"If we must look over our shoulder to see that shining city on the hill, we are sailing in the wrong direction."

Those are the words of Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN and Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, from his address before the Conservative Political Action Convention earlier today. Pence's speech had conservatives from around the country on their feet.

Getting America Right.com, the blog for Ed Feulner and Doug Wilson, authors of the forthcoming book by the same name, has the full text here.

Feulner is President of The Heritage Foundation. Wilson is Chairman of Townhall.com. "Getting America Right" - a blueprint for revitalizing the conservative movement and getting America back on the Right track - will be in bookstores everywhere in March.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Carnival of Cars is Up!

Just how bad is Massachusetts, really? Well, head over to Carnival of Cars on Tapscott Behind the Wheel and you'll find this entry, among many: "I knew things were screwed up in Taxachusetts, but hunters in the 'burbs??? Carpundit is locked and loaded on this one."

And that's just one entry, folks! Go here for the complete spin around the Auto Blog Block.