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Hippie punching the professional left

Is the carefully nurtured relationship begun by the then Obama campaign between them and the "professional left" fraying at the edges?

Apparently some among the progressive blogosphere are tired of carrying the administration’s water:

On a conference call to give the progressives their marching orders was our friend David Axelrod smoozing the bloggers. :

"You play a great role in informing people about the stakes of elections," Axelrod told the bloggers. "One of the reasons I was eager to expend time was to enlist you."

But that didn’t set particularly well with at least one blogger – Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars:

That tension burst out into the open when Madrak directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod.

"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day."

Yeah, well, guess what – they actually expected the administration to do what it said it was going to do.  Apparently, like the woman who confronted the President at the most recent town hall, they’re dead tired of defending him.

Fun stuff.  My guess is Robert Gibbs will have a coronary.  But it is very indicative of the tension and lack of trust that now exists between two groups that were once simpatico.  

The problem can be distilled into an easily digestible sentence – the administration has not done what it promised the “professional left” it would do.

So – is this just a fight or is it a break up? 

Where would the professional left go?  Who would they support?  How would they get anything done … anything at all? 

Well that depends I think.  Many of those Gibbs tagged as the “professional left” are a part of the radical left.  They’d actually be quite comfortable if there was a real “progressive” third party choice.  At the moment there isn’t and Obama, who they were gulled into thinking was the answer to all their liberal dreams, hasn’t fulfilled the promises they wrote on the blank slate Obama presented.

Not much of a surprise for those who’ve observed politics for more than a day.

But back to the conference call:

"To the extent that we shouldn’t get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn’t agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can’t afford that. There are big things at stake here."

Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point — that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don’t make our jobs harder," she said.

"Right back at’cha. Right back at’cha," Axelrod replied, a bit testily, an apparent reference to blogospheric criticism of the administration.

This isn’t going to get any better.  If anything, it is going to get worse.  And whoever replaces Axelrod and takes over the outreach has their work cut out for them.  As Greg Sargent concludes:

At any rate, for Axelrod to plead with liberal bloggers for their help turning out the base, only to get accused of "hippie punching," is an iconic moment in Campaign 2010.

Indeed.

~McQ

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Political Blogs preferred for their opinion

There’s a very interesting survey out from the Pew Research Center that looks at the media – both old and new – in just about every way possible.  Per Pew, 44% of people now receive some bit of news on line or on their mobile device each day.  The revolution in news gathering preferences is being driven by thirty-somethings who came of age during the rise of the internet.  Older folks continue to prefer traditional means of gathering news and opinion.

But I found one of their charts on the preferences of regular audiences to be fascinating.  Included in the chart was a category for “political blogs”.  And, per the chart, they are preferred over such media majors as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today for opinion. 

 

polblogs

That says to me the genre has established itself as I think it should be viewed – blogs are commentaries on the political scene as the blogger views it and that includes his or her ideology and political biases.  Bloggers aren’t shy about making known what their ideology and biases are and I think that is actually attractive to readers because they can filter the content as they feel necessary. That’s reinforced by the higher numbers found among those of the talk radio and opinion TV genres.  Whereas other more traditional outlets have a tendency to at least pretend  some level of objectivity – even in their commentary.  I’d suggest, given the numbers, that bit of spin isn’t selling well and that for the most part they’ve been relegated to the hard news portion of the information gathering process.  If someone wants to know what happened, they go to more traditional media outlets.  If they want to know what to think about it (or to reinforce what they think), they seek out opinions.  Blogs, it seems, have very successfully established themselves in the opinion area of that process.

There’s a lot more to digest in the survey, much of it which makes clear the trend toward on-line news gathering isn’t a trend or fad.  Traditional media outlets who peruse the results should be able to quickly figure out the Darwinian choice they’re presented – adapt or die.  But for political blogs, at least at this point in the media evolution, seem to have found their niche.

~McQ

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Off the net

I’ve been off the internet since 3pm yesterday because of a system outage via my provider. I called their “helpful” help line and got an automated recording – after I provided my phone number – saying the outage would be fixed by 6:31pm. Not 6:30, but 6:31.

Well 6:31 came and went and still no ‘net. I waited an hour and called again. Same recording and the same time for it to be “fixed”. I finally figured out how to get a human on the line and waited 30 minutes. A very nice lady finally answered and I told her my problem.

She looked up the problem in my area and said, “yes, your area still has an outage.” I asked, “how long do they anticipate the outage to last?” She looked and I heard, “oh, my. Your outage won’t be fixed until 8pm tomorrow”.

I had her repeat the time because I wasn’t sure I’d actually heard it properly. “8PM?”

Now that is customer service – /sarc.

So here I sit in a local wi-fi hotspot (the only one in the store at the momemet) drinking a nice cup of joe and trying to get some content up.

Sorry for the delay.

~McQ

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The muse is not with me today

I have no idea why, but I have little desire to write about politics today. Perhaps because it all seems so absurdly screwed up. Maybe because I think we may have crossed some imaginary line and I wasn’t aware of it and this is never going to find its way back to where our founders started it.

I mean, for goodness sake, you have book publishing companies putting warning labels on publications of the Constitution claiming it is a product of its time and doesn’t reflect present values. Really?

Maybe. I mean does anyone think the government we have today and its size, scope and depth of intrusion are anything like the “values” reflected by those who wrote the document? Does anyone think today’s “values” are better than those the publishing company thinks you should discuss with your kids?

There’s a certain level of frustration in tracking this, talking about it and seeing nothing change, and, in fact, watch everything go even further south.

And now we have this legislator for a president who just hasn’t the foggiest idea of what it means to be an executive and a leader. If you’ve been an observer of politics as long as I have, you can see the dark clouds forming on the horizon.

Internationally, it is the usual flash points, but you can see the trouble building and you get the idea that the troublemakers are sensing a weak horse here.

Domestically they’re already here I suppose. We just don’t know if it’s going to be a bad thunderstorm, a torrential rain storm or a freaking tornado. The other day I reported that well over half of all companies – and that’s the conservative number – will most likely be required by law to either change their insurance plans or drop them and pay a fine.

What kind of foolishness is that? Well it is exactly the kind of foolishness that poor legislation, rushed through to satisfy an agenda item instead of the people these politicians serve gets you. And now they’re catching flak and they don’t like it.

We had another melt down by a legislator last week. Bob Ethridge fires at a bunch of students asking him questions on the street. It is unseemly, ungentlemanly and frankly, unacceptable. These “public servants” display more of the arrogance of an aristocracy than they do the humbleness of someone serving the public interest.

And that’s across the board, local to federal, left and right.

There’s an anger festering the likes of which I’ve not seen in a long time. People are angry. Not just the activist right or even the activist left. Good old fly-over country middle America has had enough. Enough of being treated like they’re too dumb to understand. Enough of being characterized as racist or biggoted when they disagree about policy and politics. They are freaking tired of being ignored. The Tea Party movement is only one indicator of this deep resentment that is growing toward government in general and what it takes from them and what it delivers in return. I see the Tea Party as sort of like the statistic for talk radio. Only about 1% of those who listen call a talk radio show. My guess is only about 1% of those who feel like the Tea Partiers show up for their events.

I think this current administration is going to accomplish one thing, and that is bring this all to a head. The federal response to the oil spill has been pitiful. The President and Congress continually ignored the public and rammed this terrible mess of a health care bill through over their objections. The mismanagement of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may end up costing taxpayers as much as a trillion dollars and they’re focused on Wall Street. Congress won’t pass a budget until after the November election – even though it is their job – because it may adversely effect the chances of some members to win re-election.

Well, there’s a real easy way to solve that problem.

Politics has triumphed over good government. Agendas have replaced common sense. On both sides, party seems more important than “the people”. As Glenn Reynolds once described them, we’ve been inflicted with the worst political class in the history of this country. And it is painfully obvious.

Anyway, there’s about 700 words about why I’m not in the mood to write today. These thing come and go and I usually let them run their course. Heck, it may be over in a couple of hours as something jumps off the page at me. But until then, I think there’s plenty in this minor rant to talk about.

~McQ

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Live Chat is Back

I’ve installed a live chat client to the blog once again.  You can access the page by clicking on the Live Chat link at the menu bar below the header image. It’s a pretty basic chat setup, but it works.

I’ll be futzing around in it ’til about 9:30pm Pacific or so.

My New Toy

So I somehow lost my phone (i.e. it was stolen) which I wasn’t totally enamored with anyway, and bought a new one today. After speaking with Dale about his recent purchase, I went down to the Verizon store and got … the Droid.

I may actually upgrade to the HTC Incredible, but for right now I am liking the full, slide-out keyboard, and I’m not sure how much I care about a faster processor or 8MP camera (compared to the 5MP on this phone). I’ll give it a few days and see what I think.

In any case, regardless of which phone I end with, I definitely prefer the Droid platform to my Blackberry Storm. The Blackberry was always a little clunky and had frequent software malfunctions. Plus, I could never have written a post for QandO on it, which is a really nice feature.

Well, we’ll see how it goes …

Michigan legislator proposes law to license journalists

The idea that the states were to be the “laboratories of freedom” has been an idea expressed for years by advocates of liberty. New concepts, supposedly rooted in liberty, were to be tried in the states to see if they worked and could be applied more broadly within the nation.

But, as we’ve learned over the years, the states can also be laboratories of tyranny as well. Or at least attempts at tyranny. Michigan offers the latest example:

A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”

Nothing nebulous or arbitrary there. More importantly, since when – given the 1st Amendment to the Constitution – does any legislative body have the power to regulate speech? The 1st Amendment was incorporated to apply to the states in 1925 (See Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925)(dicta)).

Here’s the interesting part – the legislator in question is a Republican and, according to the article, “practices Constitutional law.” He may practice it, but he doesn’t appear to understand it very well.

He claims his desire to regulate the licensing of journalists is in the public interest.

“Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.

He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust.

“We have to be able to get good information,” he said. “We have to be able to rely on the source and to understand the credentials of the source.”

If you missed the nuance, he’s essentially saying that government, through it’s licensing process, will determine what media is “legitimate” and what isn’t. No state seal of approval (i.e. license) equals illegitimate media.

The obvious problem, even to those a little slow on the uptake, is not just the licensing, but the power that gives government to show it’s displeasure with a journalist or the story (or investigation, etc.) the journalist has produced by pulling his or her license.

Instantly delegitimized.

These are the provisions of the bill:

According to the bill, reporters must provide the licensing board proof of:

–“Good moral character” and demonstrate they have industry “ethics standards acceptable to the board.”

–Possession of a degree in journalism or other degree substantially equivalent.

–Not less than 3 years experience as a reporter or any other relevant background information.

–Awards or recognition related to being a reporter.

–Three or more writing samples.

Reporters will also have to pay an application and registration fee.

The bill doesn’t prevent others who are not licensed by the state from covering Michigan (certainly not initially), but the intent is clear.

Bruce Patterson, the legislator in question, says there’s little chance his bill will pass. As others point out, it is a single sponsor bill. And Patterson is now claiming that he’s only trying to provoke a discussion with his bill to point out the difficulty of knowing if an information source is legitimate:

“What’s the definition of a reporter? I haven’t been able to find out? What’s a reporter? What’s a journalist?” Patterson said. “I thought you had to have a degree in journalism but apparently not. I could retire and be a journalist.”

Patterson said he wants a central place where members of the public can go to find out about reporters’ credentials, background and experience. “I’m talking about a central depository for information so someone can go find all that out,”

Patterson said, comparing his idea to the vetting process for expert witnesses who testify in court. The senator said that he feels that there’s no way to tell who’s a legitimate journalist and who’s just rewriting other reporters’ reporting and twisting facts.

Hmmm … how about assuming the responsibility on your own? I would guess that most of us who read the offerings on the net, for instance, and various blogs know which ones we can trust and which ones aren’t at all trustworthy. We also know enough check something controversial with numerous sources. Most of us have hear of snopes.com and factcheck.org where we can vet rumors. What we certainly don’t need is some state deciding the only “legitimate” reporters out there are some “J school” grad – not with what we’ve seen over the past few years from their ilk.

Anyway, I found this to be quite interesting. I don’t necessarily buy into his contention that he introduced this just to stir discussion (I’m guessing that’s his fall-back position after receiving a lot of resistance to this) but it certainly has.

The most important thing it suggests is there are people on both sides who would regulate your life to a point where most choice – the essence of freedom – would be removed from it. And, they are in both parties – an important point. What is important to do, and one of the function of blogs, in my opinion, is to expose such ideas to the light of day. Of course, had I done this under the auspices of the proposed Michigan law, I’d have been an illegitimate source and you would be advised to ignore me.

~McQ

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Fighting words (update)

As most of you know, I also blog over at BlackFive.net under the name “McQ”. It’s my “military outlet” and I love both the opportunity and the access to the milblog community it affords me. One of the things most encouraging about that particular blog venue is the community it entails. People with skin in the game – through service or being related to someone who has or is serving or members of support groups (Soldier’s Angels or the USO) who serve the troops.

Compared to the political game that I keep mostly at home here, it’s a pretty mellow place. There are a few times when authors pop off about things which rankle them, but mostly it’s about our warriors, our veterans and what we can do as a group – a community – to make life better for them. Many excellent organizations have spun out of the BlackFive effort. The Warrior Legacy Foundation for one. Cooking for the Troops for another. This is all evident to anyone who knows the site and actually reads it regularly and knows its founder, Matt Burden.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when BlackFive came under what I can only call an unfounded and scurrilous attack by two blogging nobodies who couldn’t shine Matt Burden’s boots, much less fill them. One of the yahoos called, of all things, for an “intervention”.

What the hell is that? Obviously something the one author, a Harvard PhD with no skin in the military game, learned in those pussified but hallowed halls – or from watching too much Oprah.

Well, I ‘m ready for an intervention, right now. And yes, I will be going ad hominem in this post because when a group with whom I’m proud to be associated is characterized as “[t]hese erstwhile mullahs of the American Taliban”, I consider that ban to be by the boards and those to be fighting words. And they deserve every bit of what I plan on saying.

The impetus for this “intervention” was a post by one of the BF authors, Crush. He was obviously a bit miffed that day. The supposed offending part is as follows:

The IMF suggests our national debt will surpass 100% of our gross domestic product in 2015.

Also states that our debt began sharply increasing in 2006. Wasn’t that when our beloved Democrats took over both houses of Congress?

At some point we must begin to ask ourselves – what is treason? The federal government has done more damage to this country than if the Soviet Union had invaded during the Cold War. Now if we captured members of the Red Army, there would be military tribunals and they would be shot. I am NOT advocating such treatment for our elected officials. However, we should realize the gravity of the situation our nation finds itself thanks to their lust for power.

Is the destruction of our republic somehow more palatable if it is perpetrated by domestic enemies rather than foreign ones?

Anyone ready to go out and kill cops and blow up federal buildings? Yeah, me neither. That’s pretty normal fare in the political blogosphere. But this nancy-boy “Havad” grad shown standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier (obviously in port as other civilians are seen on deck as well) decides it is one of many calls to violence that have emanated from BF and is sure that BF is in some way is responsible for the violence that recently happened in Arkansas.  Seriously:

This weekend, as the nation mourns the loss of two dedicated law enforcement officers–shot at the hands of anti-government extremists (one suspect served in the Army Reserves), I want to take a minute to address certain milblogs and anti-government rhetoric.

We milbloggers have a responsibility to be good stewards of civic behavior. Anti-government rhetoric, “wink-wink” anti-government incitement and calls for violence must not find a place in America’s milblog community.

Please join me in calling out those milbloggers who traffic in anti-American rhetoric.

A) who the hell is “we”, assclown? The fact that this yahoo writes about the military doesn’t make him a milblogger anymore than Obama’s ability to read from a teleprompter makes him a great orator. It makes him precisely what he is – someone with no skin in the game who writes about the military, not a milblogger. But more importantly …

B) show me the “incitement to violence” in Crush’s post. Hint: A capitalized “NOT” is a key clue.

C) since when is dissent “anti-American”?

D) how dare he try to tie the death of two law enforcement officers to BlackFive by implication and then talk about “being good stewards of civic behavior”?

E) demonstrate, with examples, a pattern of “anti-government” rhetoric that any fair observer would consider to be an “incitement to violence” against said government from BlackFive.

Of course I expect no response to those challenges and will most likely get none.

But that’s not the half of it. He calls Burden out and calls him a coward (as he does Crush) because Matt doesn’t censor his authors (how “anti-American”). He makes claims that have no basis in fact (most of us call those “lies”) and he tars the whole of the authors there with inflammatory rhetoric like this:

And now, two law enforcement officers are dead. Egged on by the violent anti-government rhetoric sites like Blackfive spew every single day.

Blackfive’s anti-government rhetoric speaks for itself.

[…]

A lot of good veterans serve in law enforcement and in other non-elected governmental roles. Today, two are dead, two are wounded. And with sites like Blackfive.net helping, more and more law enforcement and government workers are going to die at the hands of guys misguided by net-based calls to anti-government violence.

I’m worried that guys who find community and strength in Blackfive.net’s stock-and-trade of anti-government rhetoric will act upon what they read…

I’ve read some excruciatingly asinine and groundless commentary in my life, but this is the pinnacle. In fact, it is damn close to libel.

I wonder – when confronted with those questions above – if he’d be fine with me calling him a coward if he doesn’t respond or I don’t find his responses acceptable to me?

He concludes with:

We, as milbloggers and patriots, can’t afford to ignore this talk. We can’t continue dismissing this unpatriotic behavior as insignificant exuberance.

It is time for veterans, service members, interested law enforcement officers, milbloggers and others to express their concern when they see anti-government, pro-violence behavior on milblogs.

If we–the responsible people–don’t do anything now, how will we feel when a vet in government service (or one of us, even) is killed by a vet who consumed too much of the stuff blackfive.net produces? Intervene. Join me.

Cheerleaders for uncivic behavior must be called on the carpet now, today, before somebody translates this misguided rhetoric into action.

Irresponsible. Childish. Misinformed. Absurd. Full of lies and false implication. It is impossible to succinctly characterize this fool’s rant. Scholarly and dispassionate, however, wouldn’t be words I’d choose to describe it in any way.

Have you ever seen someone stretch so hard to try and make a point? In fact, his rhetoric is nothing more that the usual frothing of the extreme left trying to make a case for a “violent right” complete with pictures of the destroyed Murrah building in Oklahoma City. What’s hilarious is this pinhead doesn’t even understand the unintentional irony of his concluding statement – after attacking Burden and Crush, calling them cowards, tarring the whole BF crew with the phrase “American Taliban”, claims of incitement to violence and attempting to link us all to the death of the two law enforcement officers in Arkansas, this dipwad talks about “uncivic behavior” and “misguided rhetoric”.

How many have chosen to join you in your intervention, Skippy?

To quote the only PhD I respect, Bugs Bunny – “what a maroon”.

The other who attacked the blog is named David Axe. His post isn’t worth much more than this: I spent four days with David Axe aboard the USS Kearsarge. My experience with him boils down to this – if there are two versions to a certain event – always, always, ALWAYS go with the other guy’s version.

Nuff said.

UPDATE: This Ain’t Hell takes a couple of swings as well.

~McQ

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Heartland Institute’s “Freedom Pub”

Jim Lakely, a former Washington Times journalist who has been a good friend of QandO from the beginning, is now with the Heartland Institute and is the “bartender” and host at the libertarian think-tank’s “Freedom Pub“.  The Pub opened for business yesterday.

As Jim describes it:

It’s friendly place where those who value liberty and honor the Founders’ vision of America can gather together and express themselves.

It’s a group-blog community where you can sign on and have your own page and keep up with others who share your views. I’ve signed up (anything to get the word out) and will probably do some crossposting of QandO posts there.

Give it a look and if you’re so inclined sign up and contribute. If Jim’s in charge, I can promise you it will be a worthwhile endeavor.

~McQ

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Style Evolves

It was time for a change, I thought.  The Statue of Liberty is a bit overused, so I thought I’d give the theme a bit of a wash and brush-up, as Group Captain Mandrake would say.  Switch the old columns around, change the typography a bit.  You know, the whole works.

A question about typography, by the way.  Is anyone working on any screen fonts other than Georgia or Verdana that look as good as far as readability at all different sizes goes?  I really don’t like the new ClearType fonts–Calibri, Candara, etc.–because their readibility sucks at anything under 10 points.  As does Arial or Helvetica, for that matter.  They really are best suited as header fonts, not body text.

We really need to find some way of getting out font preferences over the web to the readers in some way.  Right now, Verdana and Georgia really are the only two fonts that have 98%+ penetration for both PC and Mac Users, and look really good on screen for pretty much everybody.  What we really need is a way to embed whatever fonts we want to use into the site in some sort of lightweight fashion that can be transmitted to the users, in much the same way that the CSS styles are, and provide nice readability.

Somebody needs to be working on this.  I’d love to Book Antiqua this mother.

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