Friday, March 11, 2005

Is "foundationocracy" a word?

Who's driving campaign finance reform?

Hint: They aren't people friendly to Republicans.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

McCain-Feingold v. Bloggers

Jim Geraghty reports that the Senators who think that funding campaigns isn't free speech are trying to reassure bloggers that they aren't about to be regulated by the FEC, and FEC member Ellen Weintraub tells us to "chill out."

How can we believe that, when we've seen them put limits on campaign donations which are the most basic form of putting one's money where his mouth is, and the Supreme Court upholding that law? I think that the Democrats counted on 527 organizations to do an end run around the campaign finance laws, but one can gauge the actual support by the numbers of donors, not the total dollars collected. That's one reason Bush won. He had a lot more donors in the below-$100.00 range. Most people who can't afford to buy access will come out and vote for someone to whom they've given money.

Still, the fact that this is even being discussed is an indication of the attention bloggers are getting from politicians and journalists who sense that something new is going on that they don't quite understand and can't control. I think the power of bloggers is greatly overrated, and the comparisons to mobs and vigilantes overheated, particulary from reporters who see themselves as the only legitimate purveyors of opinion. There's something anti-democratic about such people, especially when they react reliably to criticism from anyone outside the "profession" as a threat to the Constitution, Liberty and the American Way.

Bloggers are nowhere near as unanimous or even polarized as the news media. They're all over the lot. The ones who have attracted attention are the few who discuss political issues and media in cogent and interesting ways and provide critical perspectives we don't find elsewhere. Basically, blogs are a return to the basic ideals of free speech and free press, that we've been pointed to all our lives. But now that those arguments are turned against those who have been mouthing them all that time, their reactions seem to make all their earlier protestations ring hollow.

What is a journal but a daily record of life? What are journalists, then? Where is the law that says one must have a J-school degree and be paid for one's opinions before they are valid?

Cashing in

For all their disdain for capitalism, Mike Walker points out that "Every journalist is 'cashing in' whenever they write about anything." He's right. you can't call yourself a professional if you don't do it for a living, as people from the MSM keep reminding us.

The entire interview is well worth reading.

Rather has said: "I hope it will be said: 'He never sold out.'" What does that mean? He was being paid $5,000,000 a year, if I recall correctly. He was driven by ambition and claimed to be a "big game hunter" meaning he wanted credit for bringing down major political figures. Is that really what reporting the news is all about? Excuse me, but I thought it was getting the facts right and reporting them with as much objectivity as you can.

A lot of the retrospectives I've seen mention the press conference where he spouted off to President Nixon. That is my number one memory of Dan Rather: arrogant, pushy, and wanting to be the story, not just to report it.

Cashing in

For all their disdain for capitalism, Mike Walker points out that "Every journalist is 'cashing in' whenever they write about anything." He's right. you can't call yourself a professional if you don't do it for a living, as people from the MSM keep reminding us.

Eric Clapton on The Middle East

Mark Steyn explains.

Chicken Liberals

There's been a kerfuffle over an report that:
Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.

People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this. [Italics mine]
What about these people's right to be presumed innocent? Gun ownership is, after all, a constitutional right as much as due process is. Why are liberal newspapers and senators so eager to "depriv[e] people suspected of terror ties of civil rights on a bureaucrat's say-so," to quote Instapundit?

I don't believe that our guaranteed rights include the right to be anonymous, and our problems with terrorism basically boil down to this silly idea. I am not so paranoid as to think that carrying a national ID card is going to subject me to automatic abuse. We're so far from being "Orwellian" that the liberal/libertarian panic should make us all step back and look at what we're thinking. We need government primarily to assure domestic tranquility, but too many of us seem to fear the people we hire to protect us more than we do the really dangerous people. I own guns, but I don't really want to live in a society where everybody packs a gun to protect him/herself. I would rather have professionals who are trained and practiced in such things do it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Was Bush right?

That's the main headline for The Independent. If he is, if will not be a surprise to those of us who saw the war as a strategy for destroying terrorism by addressing its roots, which ironically is what a lot of liberals said after 9/11 but only for purposes of blaming the U.S. for the attacks.

It was a risky plan, and the stakes are huge. It could still slide back in a recrudescence of tyranny, but I think that everybody now is acknowledging that it was not a bad idea after all. Will Bush's critics give him credit? Probably none who matter.

I believe that the hand of the Lord was in this; that he loves these people as much as anyone else, and that the U.S.A. has a mission to break down the barricades against preaching freedom and truth to all people on earth. We don't deserve our good fortune, necessarily, but for the time being our might has a purpose. I still think that wars and rumors of war are inevitable, but we shouldn't head for the fallout shelters quite yet.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The other side of Social Security

Here's a succinct comment on what's wrong with SS. Everybody is focusing on how Bush's proposal will hurt the system and retired people, but the truth is that the system is based on a misrepresentation and unsustainable in its present form. It is a welfare program masquerading as a savings plan, benefiting older people, many of whom don't need it, at the expense of the younger. It was a scam from day one.

My proposal:

1. Rename it "Welfare for Poor Elderly" and means test the benefits. To those who complain that they were promised these benefits, go pound sand. It was never a savings plan; it was pure wealth redistribution from the working classes to the retired ones.

2. Take all of the money saved and put it into personal accounts for those who paid the taxes, which is what the system was said to be all along. What Bush is proposing is to make Social Security what it has always falsely claimed to be.

3. Pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting such schemes forever as illegal debts.

More on the spread of the democratic impulse

It's not just the oppressed peoples of the Middle East, African-American ministers are challenging the given order, too:
A tug of war is under way inside black churches over who speaks for African-Americans and what role to play in politics, spurred by conservative black clergy members who are looking to align themselves more closely with President Bush. . . .
Or maybe they're starting to figure out that Carpetbaggers like Jesse Jackson and the Democrats aren't really that interested in their welfare.

This is probably overstated. After all, the Dems still get 90% of black votes. But losing any part of that block of votes could hurt them big time.

More liberal mythology

The headline says it all: "Left Behind"

Michael Tomasky, executive editor of The American Prospect illustrates how clueless liberals have become because of their own cocooning:
Q: Can the Democrats become the majority party in America again?

Tomasky: One of the Democratic Party's problems is that it doesn't have enough contact with its rank and file. Right-wing people in this country have a place to meet and talk politics--their churches, increasingly the megachurches in the exurbs. There's not a meeting place like that for liberals and for Democrats.
Yessiree. We rednecks git tuhgether all the time and talk politics in church. That's our secret.

(Via Best of the Web)

The Bloggers are coming!

The White House has credentialed a blogger to attend its press "gaggle." The blog is called FishbowlDC and describes itself as "a gossip blog about Washington, D.C. media." The proprietor, Garrett M. Graff, has some journalism credentials which probably make this less of a breakthrough.

I have only one comment: What kind of a blogger uses the royal we?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Certify Yourself

Jay Rosen worries about Bush "de-certifying the press." Glenn Reynolds asks, "who 'certified' them to begin with?" If, by "certify," you mean vouching for the accuracy and trustworthiness of someone, I'd say the press has pretty well de-certified itself, as the recent elections suggest. Rosen seems to fret alot over the institution of "professional" journalism. I don't see it threatened except by journalists who don't act like professionals.

The press is still freer here than anywhere else on earth, but if it loses the trust of its audience, it can't blame it on politicians or anyone else. Most people are fair-minded enough to not be led astray by P.R. ploys.