Tag Archives: Dan Riehl

Kids Today Just Don’t Blog Like We Used To

Verne Kopytoff at NYT:

Like any aspiring filmmaker, Michael McDonald, a high school senior, used a blog to show off his videos. But discouraged by how few people bothered to visit, he instead started posting his clips on Facebook, where his friends were sure to see and comment on his editing skills.

“I don’t use my blog anymore,” said Mr. McDonald, who lives in San Francisco. “All the people I’m trying to reach are on Facebook.”

Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.

The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

Blogging started its rapid ascension about 10 years ago as services like Blogger and LiveJournal became popular. So many people began blogging — to share dieting stories, rant about politics and celebrate their love of cats — that Merriam-Webster declared “blog” the word of the year in 2004.

Defining a blog is difficult, but most people think it is a Web site on which people publish periodic entries in reverse chronological order and allow readers to leave comments.

Yet for many Internet users, blogging is defined more by a personal and opinionated writing style. A number of news and commentary sites started as blogs before growing into mini-media empires, like The Huffington Post or Silicon Alley Insider, that are virtually indistinguishable from more traditional news sources.

Blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter, which allows messages of no longer than 140 characters, also contributed to the upheaval.

No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the world. They could instead post quick updates to complain about the weather, link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause — all the things a blog was intended to do.

Caitlin Dickson at The Atlantic with a round-up

Chris Crum at WebProNews:

Here we go again with another one of those silly social media vs. blogs debates. The New York Times stirred the pot this time with an article called, “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter.”

“Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter,” writes Verne G. Kopytoff. “They are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.”

This idea that blogs are dying has been around practically as long as either Facebook or Twitter, and it almost always gets dismissed as a ridiculous notion.

WordPress founding developer Matt Mullenweg took some issue with the piece: “The title was probably written by an editor, not the author, because as soon as the article gets past the two token teenagers who tumble and Facebook instead of blogging, the stats show all the major blogging services growing — even Blogger whose global ‘unique visitors rose 9 percent, to 323 million,’ meaning it grew about 6 Foursquares last year alone. (In the same timeframe WordPress.com grew about 80 million uniques according to Quantcast.)”

In fact, in 2010, WordPress had over 6 million new blogs created in 2010, and pageviews were up by 53%.

John Del Signore at Gothamist:

A more accurate headline might be “Google’s Company ‘Blogger’ Sees Domestic Page Views Decline 2%.” Catchy, right? To be fair, the Times does acknowledge “the possibility that the decline in blogging by the younger generation is merely a semantic issue.” That’s because Tumblr is proving increasingly popular, and some kids think Tumblr isn’t blogging. “It’s different from blogging because it’s easier to use,” explains one San Francisco teen. “With blogging you have to write, and this is just images. Some people write some phrases or some quotes, but that’s it.”

The Times also concedes that “defining a blog is difficult, but most people think it is a Web site on which people publish periodic entries in reverse chronological order and allow readers to leave comments.” The study in question found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half. But before you run out and set up a charitable trust to educate children on the vital importance of daily blogging, note the study’s conclusion:

While the act formally known as blogging seems to have peaked, Internet users are doing blog-like things in other online spaces as they post updates about their lives, musings about the world, jokes, and links on social networking sites and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter.

PHEW. So kids are still lustily committing “the act formally known as blogging”—they just don’t like using that old-fashioned word blog (Est. 2004), and prefer expressing their incisive opinions on the latest Family Guy episode in 140 characters or less. We can live with that.

Scott Rosenberg:

So the actual story — which, to be fair, the Times’ article mostly hews to (it’s the headline and lead that skew it more sensationally) — is that blogging keeps growing, but it’s losing popularity among teens.

Social networking is changing blogging. (My postscript to the paperback edition of Say Everything addresses those changes at length.) More of us are using Facebook and Twitter for casual sharing and personal updates. That has helped clarify the place of blogging as the medium for personal writing of a more substantial nature. Keeping a blog is more work than posting to Facebook and Twitter. So I wouldn’t be surprised if, long-term, the percentage of the population blogging plateaus or even declines.

Maybe we’ll end up with roughly ten percent of the online population (Pew’s consistent finding) keeping a blog. As the online population becomes closer to universal, that is an extraordinary thing: One in ten people writing in public. Our civilization has never seen anything like it.

So you can keep your “waning” headlines, and I’ll keep my amazement and enthusiasm.

BONUS LINKS: WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg addresses the story:

At some point you’ll have more to say than fits in 140 characters, is too important to put in Facebook’s generic chrome, or you’ve matured to the point you want more flexibility and control around your words and ideas.

And Anthony DeRosa points out that Twitter isn’t very popular among the teen set either.

Dan Riehl:

I spend time on Twitter I might otherwise have spent blogging. But the net result may actually be good for blogging. One does fewer throw away posts meant to only say something quick, better said via Twitter. What this is really about is alternative media taking on the old, or mainstream media. According to the Times, 14% of children ages 12 – 17 are blogging. That may have halved from when blogging was all the rage in media, but it’s still a healthy percentage.

Among 18-33 year-olds, the percentage dropped by 2 points in 2010. Good. It’s a little crowded out here, as it stands. I’ve no reason to doubt that New Media, in its various forms, continues to grow in size and influence.

Atrios:

I’m sure the emphasis of the internet will keep evolving, but what apparently won’t evolve is the mainstream press’s view of “the internet” as somehow being about young people. For years and years after the rise of political blogging, the press kept writing about it as if it was something that young people were into. As I wrote many times, I certainly wished I could take credit for getting a bunch of college kids interested in politics, but the fact is that people who read this site have always been pretty old. Basically the mainstream media types just wanted to infantalize bloggers as part of their mission of painting us as Very Unserious People.

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Mirengoff Out At Powerline

James Meggesto:

As an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation; as an attorney who has dedicated his life and law practice to the representation of Indian tribes, tribal organizations and tribal interests; and as a partner in the American Indian law and policy practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, I was shocked, appalled and embarrassed by a recent Web posting by another Akin Gump partner, Paul Mirengoff, who posted on his personal blog an insensitive and wholly inappropriate criticism of the use of a Yaqui prayer as the invocation to the recent memorial service held in Tucson, Arizona. As soon as I and the firm became aware of this posting, the firm took immediate action to deal firmly with this unfortunate situation. Accordingly, Bruce McLean, chairman of the firm, issued the following statement: “We sincerely apologize for the blog entry posted by Akin Gump partner Paul Mirengoff on his personal blog, powerlineblog.com. Akin Gump is neither affiliated with, nor a supporter of, the blog. We found his remarks to be insensitive and wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values. Mr. Mirengoff regrets his poor choice of words and agreed to remove his post.”

The post was subsequently removed, and Mr. Mirengoff issued the following apology:

“In a post last night, I criticized the use of a Yaqui prayer as the invocation to the memorial service in Tucson. In doing so, I failed to give the prayer the respect it deserves. Although I did not intend this as a slight to the religion or to the Yaqui tribe, it can clearly be interpreted as one. For this, I sincerely apologize to my readers, to the Yaqui tribe, to all tribal leaders and Indian people and, specifically, to Carlos Gonzales who delivered the prayer. I regret my poor choice of words, and I have removed the post.”

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

I have made the decision to discontinue blogging at this time. I thank John and Scott for bringing me along on this ride and I thank our readers as well. I couldn’t have hoped for better writing partners or for better readers. Best regards to all.

Legal Insurrection:

I’m late to this, but the story has not received a lot of coverage in the conservative blogosphere.  Paul Mirengoff of Power Line blog no longer is of Power Line blog.

Mirengoff is an attorney at Akin Gump, a big law firm with a large presence in Washington, D.C., where Mirengoff works as a partner in the employment law group.

Mirengoff was one of the founders of Power Line.  While I have disagreed with the folks there from time to time, there is no doubt that the Power Line bloggers are among the biggest names in the conservative blogosphere and make a valuable contribution to the conservative movement.  Any disagreements I have with them are disagreements among teammates.

So why is Mirengoff no longer at Power Line?

It all resulted from this blog post Mirengoff made after the Tucson shooting memorial service, in which the service was opened with a prayer, of sorts, from an American Indian tribal leader:

“As for the ‘ugly,’ I’m afraid I must cite the opening ‘prayer’ by Native American Carlos Gonzales,” Mirengoff wrote. It “apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to ‘the creator’ but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.”

The original post has been taken down, and I can’t find a Google Cache version, but the post was picked up elsewhere and is available here.

It is clear that Mirengoff was setting up a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” type of structure (originating, I think, from the movie of the same name).  Mirengoff even put the word ugly in quotation marks.  This is a very common device signalling that Mirengoff did not literally mean “ugly” but was using the term in the context of the phrase he was parodying.

Mirengoff’s post was not an attack on American Indians, the Yaqui tribe, or the participation of the tribal leader in a tribal prayer.  The point of the post quite clearly was on the absurdity of not having a Christian prayer said for Christian victims.  The lack of a Christian (or Jewish) prayer was commented on and criticized by a lot of people, and I agree with that criticism.  The American Indian leader was welcome to participate with a traditional prayer, but if you were going to have a memorial service, why not also pay religious respect to the people you were mourning?

Robert Stacy McCain:

The lawyer who denounced Mirengoff, James Meggesto, is a member of the Onondago Nation of New York who was hired by Akin Gump in February 2007 – i.e., right after Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats took over Congress. Megesto was one of three lawyers, including Vanessa Ray-Hodge and Madeline Soboleff Levy, hired by the firm at that time as part of an expansion of Akin Gump’s “American Indian law and policy practice” according to a Feb. 23, 2007, press release. Akin Gump’s total haul from lobbying in 2007 was $32 million – an increase of 25% over the previous year.

You may recall that Pelosi and Democrats were elected in 2006 on a promise to clean up the “culture of corruption” in Washington. Exhibit A in the Democrats’ case against the GOP that year? Yeah: “Casino Jack” Abramoff’s shady dealings with Indian tribes.

So in criticizing that Yaqui prayer at the Tucson memorial, Paul Mirengoff wasn’t just being politically incorrect, he was also offending a lucrative segment of Akin Gump’s lobbying clientele, whom the firm had recently hired three lawyers to service. Small wonder that Mirengoff was likely forced to choose: Quit blogging at Power Line or quit working at Akin Gump.

Dan Riehl:

It would have been good to know about the Murkowski – Akin Gump connection when Mirengoff was pushing her over Miller in the Alaska Senate race. Filed under F for transparency.

Charlie Martin at PJ Tatler:

This is what Granddaddy used to call “pissing in the soup,” and I’m not a little bit surprised, nor particularly disturbed that Mirengoff’s firm would prefer he either not piss in the soup or get the hell out of the kitchen.  And frankly, I don’t agree with either McCain or Jacobson: I think a liberal blogger who offended a big client would have something large fall from a great height upon his head.

There’s one more point, though.  As one of the differently-religioned (I’m a Buddhist, and my mother, also a Choctaw, converted to Judaism some years ago — when I say “differently-religioned” I ain’t just messing around) I may be more sensitive than some others to the general religious assumptions we make socially. On the other hand, sometimes I wonder if people pay attention to what’s being said.  Consider, for example, if we translate this by substituting references to other religions and, well, tribes:

As for the “ugly,” I’m afraid I must cite the opening “prayer” by Rabbi Schmuel Greenblatt. It was apparently was some sort of Hebrew tribal thing, with lots of references to “the Creator” but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Jew). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.

I don’t mean to excuse the organizers of this debacle; it would have been appropriate to have had a Pastor, and a Priest, and a Rabbi, and hell, an Imam and whatever, if they were going to have a Yaqui shaman. (What makes this even harder is that ever since Carlos Casteñeda, every half-pint poseur has talked about learning from the Yaqui; who the hell knows if Gonzales had any better claim to be a medicine man than I do?)

But if anyone has trouble understanding why someone might be offended, go back and read the parallel universe excoriation of poor Rabbi Greenblatt’s little prayer.

James Joyner:

On the surface, it strikes me that Akin Gump overreacted to a minor incident.  But I don’t know enough about the firm’s clientele and business model to really evaluate. And, certainly, it has every right to control its public image, to include ensuring the partners don’t write embarrassing things in public fora.  Mirengoff is a labor law specialist with a distinguished record in the field and knows that.

Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom:

Doesn’t matter, really. If we’re going to pretend that language works in a way that it clearly doesn’t — and to institutionalize that idea into our very epistemology — what we will end up with is the slow erosion of our speech, as more and more of it becomes subject to “interpretations” motivated by cynicism and a will to power.

This latest is just another dismal example of how precisely such a “democratic” method of “interpretation” can and will be used to diminish the individual at the whims of a motivated collective.

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You Blog About Politics, You Blog About Sarah Palin: This Is Fact Now

The Corner at National Review:

Here’s the text:

Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy.

I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions.  And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

Palin’s statement is, I think, very good. It emphasizes, appropriately, the victims and the nation’s political process rather than politicians, demonstrating once again that Palin is less obsessed with Sarah than her enemies are. Overall, the statement comes across as mature, balanced, sympathetic and yet strong in its rejection of the left’s opportunism.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:

I should have said this a few days ago, when my friend Glenn Reynolds introduced the term to this debate. But I think that the use of this particular term in this context isn’t ideal. Historically, the term is almost invariably used to describe anti-Semitic myths about how Jews use blood — usually from children — in their rituals. I agree entirely with Glenn’s, and now Palin’s, larger point. But I’m not sure either of them intended to redefine the phrase, or that they should have.

Jeffrey Goldberg:

Sarah Palin has called the post-Tucson campaign of vilification against her and her fellow travelers a “blood libel.” On the one hand, this is unfortunate, as Jonah Goldberg points out, because it threatens to redefine the phrase, plus, what is happening to her is not precisely the byproduct of a blood libel.

On the other hand, Sarah Palin  is such an important political and cultural figure that her use of the term “blood libel” should introduce this very important historical phenomenon to a wide audience, and the ensuing discussion — about how Fox News is not actually Mendel Beilis — will serve to enlighten and inform. It is a moral necessity, I think, for Christians to understand the blood libel (Muslims, too — see the Damascus Blood Libel of 1840), not only because it is part of their history, but because the blood libel still has modern ramifications — Israel, after all, was founded as a reaction to Christian hatred, of which the blood libel was an obvious and murderous manifestation.

I mean it sincerely when I say I hope Sarah Palin, who regularly expresses love for Jews and Israel, takes the time to learn about the history of the blood libel, and shares what she has learned with her many admirers.

Instapundit:

That seems to be how it works. And here are a bunch of examples of “blood libel” used in various contexts, by people as diverse as Andrew Sullivan and Ann Coulter, as well as Alex Beam, Michael Barone, Andrew Cohen of CBS, and Les Payne. Nobody cared, because Sarah Palin wasn’t involved. Heck, I used the term myself in my WSJ column. I got a grouchy email or two, but nobody else — even among the lefties who criticized it — seemed to care about the use of the term. This is the silliest hissyfit yet, and is itself evidence that there’s no substantive response.

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

Okay, it’s a little over the top for Sarah Palin to accuse her critics of “blood libel.” But she does have a basic point. She had nothing to do with Jared Loughner. He was not an extremist who embraced some radical version of her ideas. And her use of targets to identify districts Republicans were, um, targetting is not exceptional or prone to incite anybody.

What’s happening is that Palin has come to represent unhinged grassroots conservatism, and people in the media immediately (and incorrectly) associated Loughner with the far right. Moreover, the Republican establishment understands her potential candidacy as a liability and is looking to snuff it out. So you have this weird moment where Palin is on trial for something she has no connection with at all.

Dan Riehl:

Last night on Twitter, Matthew Vadum and I both briefly noted a certain awkwardness with the term given its fairly precise etymology. I’m seeing critics like Jennifer Rubin point out that, while accurate, it’s inflammatory. That’s what started me to thinking about Palin’s use of the term death panels in the Obamacare debate. Isn’t she now doing very much the same thing – allegedly being inflammatory, but accurate? It is accurate. Even critics are conceding that.

shows her inflam. tendency=critics pt. she’s not serious, cert. not pres. – more G.Beck than Reagan … should note also it is tech. correct since accused of blood on her hands.. but still….

So, it’s inflammatory, but accurate – or, … how about, effective, assuming one is willing to fight the good fight for candor in honestly defining a bad health care policy, or a malicious slander meant to silence political speech?

And how in the Hell did we get to a place where a so called conservative pundit writing for the Washington Post thinks doing that is somehow not Presidential? Are we interested in leadership willing to lead, or merely wishing to please our senses? That’s not meant as necessarily backing Palin for President, or anything. I didn’t bring it up, Rubin did.

However uncomfortable it may make some feel, what Palin has done here is engage the debate candidly and head-on, just as she did during the health care debate when she invoked the term death panels.

Isn’t it possible that we need to be made to feel just a bit uncomfortable with what the Left has been doing in exploiting the Arizona tragedy in a manner which transcends simply being angry? Whatever the reason, I do believe using the term blood libel has a way of doing that, elevating the debate into one of substance, over simply feelings, or anger, as a matter of fact. That, despite its presumed inflammatory nature. Ironic, that.

Seems to me, if we’re going to now run away from that debate because it requires potentially inflammatory rhetoric to define it both precisely – and in terms with which we can win it – then how the hell are we ever to win it, hopefully stopping the Left from repeatedly using repugnant tactics just like the one they are using as regards the Arizona massacre?

I swear to God, I’m no Palin fanatic. And I’m as susceptible as the next guy or gal to the notion that she may not be the person to be America’s next President. I don’t know. But I do know that, once examined, whether through happenstance, or design, some of her tactics are absolutely brilliant, if one is willing to examine them in depth. Who knows, perhaps it’s just instinct? Nah, it can’t be that. That would almost make her Reaganesque!

Nick Gillespie at Reason:

One of the things that excited people about Sarah Palin was her apparent authenticity, her down-to-earthiness, her experience of working, living, dreaming, and achieving far from the conventional centers of power in American society. In a political age characterized by the telegenic intimacy of the 24-hour news channel, Palin seemed perfectly in synch with the sort of unmediated access viewers and voters crave. And only the most insulated chumps in the opinionating business (read: most of them) were put off by her insistence that when she graduated college she got a job, not a passport and a backpack.

But since her bravura entrance onto the national stage, virtually every interaction she has had with her public has been so tightly stage-managed and scripted that her main selling point has been swathed and suffocated in layers and layers of distance from anything approaching a real-time response to the world she lives in. When she resigned her governorship long before her first term was up, she signaled that she wasn’t so interested in being an actual legislator. Fair enough, and who can blame her? But she’s now getting to the point where she’s signaling that she is incapable of giving even her most sympathetic audience what it wants from her. Which means there’s one less interesting character on the public stage and her future, even as an entertainer, is dimmer than it once seemed.

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Sorkin V. Palin: Carving Up The Caribou

Aaron Sorkin in The Huffington Post:

“Unless you’ve never worn leather shoes, sat upon a leather chair or eaten meat, save your condemnation.”

You’re right, Sarah, we’ll all just go fuck ourselves now.

The snotty quote was posted by Sarah Palin on (like all the great frontier women who’ve come before her) her Facebook page to respond to the criticism she knew and hoped would be coming after she hunted, killed and carved up a Caribou during a segment of her truly awful reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, broadcast on The-Now-Hilariously-Titled Learning Channel.

I eat meat, chicken and fish, have shoes and furniture made of leather, and PETA is not ever going to put me on the cover of their brochure and for these reasons Palin thinks it’s hypocritical of me to find what she did heart-stoppingly disgusting. I don’t think it is, and here’s why.

Like 95% of the people I know, I don’t have a visceral (look it up) problem eating meat or wearing a belt. But like absolutely everybody I know, I don’t relish the idea of torturing animals. I don’t enjoy the fact that they’re dead and I certainly don’t want to volunteer to be the one to kill them and if I were picked to be the one to kill them in some kind of Lottery-from-Hell, I wouldn’t do a little dance of joy while I was slicing the animal apart.

I’m able to make a distinction between you and me without feeling the least bit hypocritical. I don’t watch snuff films and you make them. You weren’t killing that animal for food or shelter or even fashion, you were killing it for fun. You enjoy killing animals. I can make the distinction between the two of us but I’ve tried and tried and for the life of me, I can’t make a distinction between what you get paid to do and what Michael Vick went to prison for doing. I’m able to make the distinction with no pangs of hypocrisy even though I get happy every time one of you faux-macho shitheads accidentally shoots another one of you in the face.

So I don’t think I will save my condemnation, you phony pioneer girl. (I’m in film and television, Cruella, and there was an insert close-up of your manicure while you were roughing it in God’s country. I know exactly how many feet off camera your hair and make-up trailer was.)

John Nolte at Big Government:

What’s worse for society? People throughout the world who enjoy the sport of hunting animals and have since the beginning of time. Or people who enjoy, say, years-long Hollywood drug binges that fund the same murderers who spread their poison on to our children’s playgrounds and schools? Has Sorkin ever lashed out so viciously at drug abusers? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no.Let me repeat the irony because it’s richer than the bullying bigot of a hypocrite serving it up: A degenerate drug addict is lecturing others on their habits and what they find pleasure from. Of course Sorkin thinks he’s cutting that criticism off at the pass with this pitiful disclaimer:

Let me be the first to say that I abused cocaine and was arrested for it in April 2001. I want to be the first to say it so that when Palin’s Army of Arrogant Assholes, bereft of any reasonable rebuttal, write it all over the internet tomorrow they will at best be the second.

The left’s favorite ploy: It’s okay for me to be a raging hypocrite because I admit to being one.

Furthermore, Sorkin acts as though no one watched last Sunday’s program and lies with the kind of shameless audacity only a reformed drug addict could. Comparing what we all saw Sunday evening on TLC — comparing Sarah, her loving father and their friend Becker to Michael Vick is nothing short of a lie. Hunting an animal is not torture. Enjoying the hunt of an animal is not torture. Watching the sanctimonious “West Wing” however…

Aaron Sorkin is nothing more than a bigot, no different than some smug loser who mocks what he sees while watching  another culture enjoy something foreign or different to them.

Gateway Pundit

Greg Pollowitz at National Review:

So as long as Aaron Sorkin has no idea how the animals are killed that fill his billy, cushion his buttocks, or shelter his feet, then it’s okay? I guarantee that caribou suffered far less than any of the farm-raised meat products Sorkin consumes every day. And his statement, “you enjoy killing animals” is ridiculous. She killed the animal for food. Again, Sorkin is happy to have someone else kill his animals for him, but those who actually do the killing are somehow “faux-macho s***heads?” If Sorkin is so against the actual killing of animals, he should grab a lettuce wrap and shut up.

And I also don’t remember any collective rage from the Left when then candidate Kerry decided to go bird hunting in Ohio just days before the election in 2004.

Dan Riehl

Jim Treacher at The Daily Caller:

Well, if there’s one thing liberalism has taught us, it’s that the angrier you are, the more truthful you are. Why merely whine about being reminded where food comes from, when you can throw a complete temper tantrum? Sure, Palin is like Michael Vick because… well, because Aaron Sorkin doesn’t like either one of them. And Sorkin’s not a hypocrite for railing against the killing of an animal and then going out for a steak dinner, because that would make him a bad person, and he’s actually a good person. You see?

You know what I do when I don’t like a TV show, Aaron? I don’t watch it. That’s how most people handle the problem, which explains what happened to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

That Aaron Sorkin isn’t a fan of hunting is no secret.  A powerful early episode of his too-short-lived “Sports Night” was devoted to the topic.  But his expletive laden rant on Sarah Palin’s exploits doesn’t do his cause any favors.  Especially this line:

I get happy every time one of you faux-macho shitheads accidentally shoots another one of you in the face

Seriously?  I’m not a hunter and sympathize with his distaste of killing animals simply for sport.  But hunting is not only a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of mankind but a vital part of maintaining our ecosystem.

And by what moral calculus is killing lower mammals an outrage but the accidental death of one’s fellow human beings a source of amusement?

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Filed under Animal Rights, Political Figures

And These Castles Made Of RINOs

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

In the wake of Joe Miller’s upset over Lisa Murkowski in Alaska’s GOP Senate primary, there’s been a lot of buzz for Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who is challenging moderate GOP congressman Mike Castle in the September 14 primary. This week, the Tea Party Express endorsed O’Donnell, a former conservative activist who has worked at the Republican National Committee, Concerned Women for America, and the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth. The Tea Party Express says it’s going to spend $250,000 on the race, and its new radio ad touts conservative radio host Mark Levin’s endorsement of O’Donnell. Some other conservatives, like RedState.com’s Erick Erickson, have endorsed O’Donnell as well.

In an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD late this morning, O’Donnell said there’s no difference between Mike Castle and the Democrat in the race, New Castle County executive Chris Coons. Asked if there are any issues on which Castle is better than the Democrat, O’Donnell said: “I don’t think so.”

Castle has plenty of moderate and liberal positions, but his supporters point out that Delaware is one of the most Democratic states in the country, and Castle could be Delaware’s Scott Brown.

[…]

Ideological differences aside, questions have been raised about O’Donnell’s financial history. According to a March 21 Delaware News Journal article posted on knowchristineodonnell.com, O’Donnell is using campaign funds to pay for half of the rent at her residence:

Greenville Place lists the prices of a town house rental between $1,645 and $2,020 a month, depending on the number of bedrooms and square feet.

O’Donnell said she pays half of her rent with campaign donations because she also uses the town home as her Senate campaign headquarters.

“I’m splitting it, legally splitting it and paying part of it,” she said. “This is our technical headquarters.”

O’Donnell said she has separate, private quarters and that staffers, like Hust, live in the other portion of the home.

O’Donnell tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that while she does pay rent on what is technically her legal residence with campaign funds, she also has a separate permanent residence, the location of which she won’t disclose “for security reasons.” O’Donnell said that her campaign office and home were vandalized in 2008, and she’s fearful that her opponents will do the same this year. Says O’Donnell:

They’re following me. They follow me home at night. I make sure that I come back to the townhouse and then we have our team come out and check all the bushes and check all the cars to make sure that—they follow me.

That’s what’s disgusting, as you can see from the YouTube videos. They knock on the door at all hours of the night. They’re hiding in the bushes when I’m at candidate forums. In 2008 they broke into my home. They vandalized my home. They wrote nasty notes on my front door, on my front porch. They jeopardized my safety. They did the same thing to our campaign office. They broke into our campaign office. They vandalized our campaign office. They stole files. My campaign signs that had my picture—they put a spear in my mouth poked out my eyes, and cut out the part of my heart, and wrote nasty names all over those campaign signs.

I would be a fool to be pressured into disclosing where I live, when I know that the stakes are even higher this time. What makes me think they wont do the same distasteful things they did in 2008 when the stakes are even higher, when we’re even more viable. I mean come on, John, you’re a class act. You don’t want to—you know that this is a security issue. You know what they’re capable of.

Is O’Donnell suggesting that Castle supporters vandalized her office in 2008, when she was running for Senate against Joe Biden? “I’m not sure who did it, but I know for a fact that Mike Castle and [Delaware GOP chairman] Tom Ross were campaigning against me,” O’Donnell says. “They’ve been sabotaging my candidacy since 2008. So who knows who did it back then.” O’Donnell says there are no police reports of the 2008 break-in because she didn’t want to make an issue of it at the time. She claims to have pictures of vandalized signs.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

This local radio interview did not go well for Christine O’Donnell, who is challenging Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware.

The host plays audio of O’Donnell bragging that she won two of Delaware’s three counties in her 2008 Senate bid against Joe Biden.

In Sussex County, she came quite close, 43,123 votes to Joe Biden’s 43,395 votes.

She admits that she considers that a tie, 49 percent to 49 percent. While losing by 272 votes isn’t technically a tie, it is a small margin of defeat, so fine. Let’s say she covered the point spread.

But her other “win” is Kent County, where she lost, 27,981 to 37,074. That amounts to 43 percent to 56.9 percent. It’s really hard to argue that that even meets the broadest definition of “a tie.”

Of course, she lost the largest county, New Castle, 69,491 votes to 177,070 votes, roughly 28.1 percent to 71.8 percent.

In other words, if she had carried every vote cast in the Senate race in Sussex County in 2008, she still would have lost by more than 18,000 votes.

Then she chooses to repeat to the host that many people charge he’s on the take by Mike Castle. It goes downhill from there.

More Geraghty at NRO:

A couple of Christine O’Donnell fans didn’t like yesterday’s post on the radio interview.

My mistake, fellas. You’re right. It was a terrific interview. A candidate who doesn’t like the questions she’s being asked should always tell the host that there are rumors he’s taking bribes from the other campaign. When she says she won two out of three counties, no one should acknowledge that she lost both, one by 14 percentage points. Conservatism is best served when we all close our eyes and pretend we don’t see a false statement by a candidate we prefer!

Now, I’m not going to tout Mike Castle as anything other than what he is. He has a lifetime ACU rating of 52.49. That’s pretty darn “meh” for conservatives. But the moderation of the other guy isn’t sufficient reason to give a thumbs up to a candidate who makes blatantly, easily-to-verify false statements on the trail, nor to countenance her attacks on those who have the audacity to bring her the bad news.

Erick Erickson at Redstate:

I would rather die a thousand times over via crushing by an anaconda while being torn limb from limb by a jaguar than see Mike Castle in the Senate.

I would rather be slowly run over by a road roller while listening to Janeane Garofalo dialogue from The Truth About Cats and Dogs than see Mike Castle in the Senate.

I’d rather see the Democrat get elected than see Mike Castle get elected. Seriously, I know many of you disagree with me, but if the majority depends on Mike Castle, to hell with the majority.

But I’m moving on from Delaware. The Tea Party Express has a poll coming out showing the race within 5 points. I wish Christine O’Donnell the best. I’d rather her than Castle.

But I’m moving on.

If Christine O’Donnell wins it’ll be inspite of the help she has gotten. What has ultimately set me off is the “Mike Castle is gay” stuff, which is nothing more than the Will Folks hour come to Delaware. The failure of the O’Donnell campaign to deal swiftly with this tells me all I need to know.

As I noted in my original post on Eric Odom, parts of his American Liberty Alliance website became a site for Christine O’Donnell advocacy.

Subsequently, a number of the affiliated individuals went and worked directly for Christine O’Donnell’s campaign. A few weeks ago they left. Around that time I began hearing rumors the O’Donnell campaign was imploding.

The gang that left resurfaced at Liberty.com. The launch day spectacular at Liberty.com was to announce that Mike Castle is having a gay affair on his wife with no proof whatsoever.

When it was pointed out that all the people behind the accusation were O’Donnell campaign staffers, the response was “not any more.”

Quin Hillyer at The American Spectator:

Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, already under fire for a sketchy history with personal finances and a number of other odd actions (including suing the stalwart conservative publishing house, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute), now is really turning into an embarrassment. Her unnamed opponents are hiding in her bushes! And her close associates are making absolutely slanderous claims about her GOP opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, while O’Donnell herself can barely raise herself to denounce the slander — only while repeating it numerous times.

Yet TEA Partiers, with whose causes I almost always gladly associate, are working hard to make O’Donnell the next Joe Miller, pulling an upset win over the GOP establishment.

I make no endorsement of Mike Castle’s leftward drift over the years. I make no endorsement in the race. I love a lot of what O’Donnell says. I would still be at least tempted to vote for her if I lived in Delaware. But if I were a political consultant telling TEA Partiers and conservative leaders in general what their best purely political action would be, long term, what I would say is this: Go to Mike Castle and get pledges from him to move back rightward.

Politicians as experienced as Castle know the importance of honoring their word to other political actors. (Sort of like “honor among thieves,” except that most politicians really are NOT thieves.) Conservative leaders can go to him, perfectly legally, and say, look, you saw what happened to Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and to Bob Bennett in Utah. You see the polls that have you just five points up on O’Donnell. You know you are at least at some risk of failing to win the nomination. But we can call off the dogs of war. We can stop ginning up the organizational fervor that could propel O’Donnell to victory. What we ask from you is that you keep your door open to us once you are in the Senate; that you sign at least a two-year version of Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge; that you agree in writing that you will not switch parties if elected and that you would resign rather than do so….. that sort of thing. The pledges don’t even need to be public. They can’t mention any specific legislation, and they can’t be couched in terms of a quid pro quo. But they still can be binding on an honorable man, and Castle is an honorable man.

Dan Riehl:

They say neurotics build sand castles and psychotics live in them. From what I’ve seen at many conservative blogs, they look determined to enable the ongoing building of a sand castle of a Republican Party by helping Mike Castle in Delaware. Well, pardon me if I don’t feel their pain as they start to whine when that sand castle comes crashing down on them after November.

It seems every time someone wants to challenge me on the Castle/O’Donnell issue, they have to start out with a straw-man argument. They don’t like, or support O’Donnell, so why should they not assist Castle in attacking her? Yet, I’ve never said anyone had to, or should support her. All I’ve argued is, why should a conservative align with a liberal like Castle to attack a conservative, when not saying anything is a principled option? It isn’t as if we all weigh in on each and every race.

I backed Lowden over Angle, but never attacked Angle. If the GOP can’t produce a satisfactory candidate in DE, then maybe they need to be sent a message in this case. Invest the time and money required to build a state and local party apparatus that can offer up real choices between a D and an R – and recruit them to run, not a Democrat by any other name. Stop following the Democrats off a cliff because it’s the easy way to win. What is it we as conservatives win in the end?

Conservatives win nothing with a Mike Castle in the Senate. Most conservative bloggers are fond of saying, I’m a conservative before I am a Republican. You wouldn’t know it by looking around out here today.

What is the incentive for the GOP to honestly shift to the Right if conservatives will accept whatever the GOP opts to shove down their throats? Reagan won DE statewide twice, Bush 41 won it in 1988. But Castle is the best the GOP can do statewide in DE today? I don’t buy it. If we want the GOP to pay attention to Center-Right views, at some point we are going to have to make a stand.

What good is a GOP to conservatives if every Republican north of Washington is liberal? How does that advance the cause of conservatism? Frankly, it doesn’t. It advances a GOP that can continue to sell out conservative principles for electoral convenience. It isn’t a party that’s leading anywhere, it’s a party following Democrats off the cliff they have been driving America over for decades.

By the reasoning I’ve seen around, we should never have supported Scott Brown in Massachusetts. In this, of all years, I don’t buy that a Castle can win in Delaware, but not an O’Donnell. Still, I’d rather see the GOP lose and have an identified Democrat, rather than one in Red skin.

Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator:

Over at Riehlword and on Mark Levin’s Facebook page are marvelous pieces defining much more than Delaware’s suddenly heated fight between Christine O’Donnell and Mike Castle.

O’Donnell is taking flak for this or that, this alleged misstatement or that bad radio interview. Including from this piece over at NRO by the estimable Jim Geraghty. And, just posted, is this from my wonderful TAS friend and colleague Quin Hillyer.

Taking flak from good conservatives or, as Mark Levin puts it, conservatives who are more Republican than conservative. Not, as Seinfeld might say, that there’s anything wrong with that! And quite specifically let me make sure we understand Quin Hillyer is not included in my estimation of who is not really conservative. Anyone who knows Quin knows in an earlier life he told Edmund Burke to get on the stick with that French Revolution book, not to mention he still grouses about Wendell Willkie. Mr. Hillyer is many things….short on conservatism is not one of those things.

If I may say respectfully, this kind of thing is both terminally old when it comes to attacks on conservatives and, frustratingly, enduringly typical from — yes — some on the right.

Somewhere it always seems there’s a need to refresh on the savage attacks on Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan or, to be current and with no need to refresh, today’s Sarah Palin. Heck, why limit this to running for office? Attacks by conservatives on more prominent conservatives occur these days with the same certainty as the attraction of gin to tonic. Google names like…oh…say…Limbaugh, Rush and you’ll get the idea.

These attacks are so utterly, utterly predictable although I’m sure that a Palin or O’Donnell still finds the sensation amazing as the arrow enters between their shoulder blades.

So let’s take a second to see just how deeply normal if crazy this business has been over the decades.

The conservative is accused by his or her fellows of being: unstable (Goldwater), an extremist (Goldwater, Reagan, William F. Buckley, Jr., Palin), an un-informed lightweight (Reagan, Palin), personally irresponsible with finances (Reagan and O’Donnell), saying something utterly stupid in this interview or that public appearance (all of the above) — and don’t forget the ever dependable cry of racist/race-baiter or race something-or — other (all of the above plus pick-your-favorite talk radio host).

Until the Delaware primary, it is now Christine O’Donnell’s turn to feel that startling arrow-in-the-back sensation that comes with this.

Conservatism is not a candidate. It’s a movement. Based on a set of rock-solid principles. The fight always is to move the ball forward. The quarterback of the moment is…Fox News Alert….always flawed in some fashion. We could and can pick endlessly at the quarterback who is on the field. The real question is …now and always….are we moving the ball? Elections will be won. They will be lost. The objective is to move the ball.

Ace Of Spades:

She cannot win in Delaware, which is usually among the ten most Democratic states in the union. Allow me to be a little elistist — what in this odd biography says “serious candidate for Senator”?

I was already predisposed to endorsing Castle, feeling this was a bridge too far (or a RINO too far), and then I recalled who Christine O’Donnell was — she’s a fill-in guest on Hannity and other talk shows. She has always grated on me, because she always seems pretty unprepared (or just not really a strong thinker), and tends to just repeat the same three or four obvious bullet-points.

If I have turned the channel off almost every time she’s been on, I do not see how she is going to wear well in Democrat-stronghold Delaware.

When we were trying to get Scott Brown elected, some objected that he was a RINO. I said at the time: This is a gift from God. It is unseemly to look down one’s nose at a gift from God and ask, “Couldn’t you have gotten something better?”

I do not know why it is that Mike Castle is running 12 points or so ahead of his Democratic rival. It could be partly due to his despised RINOism, of course. And it’s also due to personal characteristics which he alone possesses and cannot be transferred to O’Donnell — like, as the state’s only at-large Representative (the state has only one Rep.), he knows everyone in the state, has campaigned statewide nine times before. For whatever reason, the voters trust him, seem to like him. (Well, “like” as much as one can like a politician.)

For whatever reason, they’ve decided he’s okay by them. And preferable to a Democrat. And so he polls 10-12 points ahead.

Meanwhile the latest Rasmussen poll puts O’Donnell ten points behind Coons.

And on that point, I ask, where is the plausible pathway to candidate growth? What is the realistic plan for getting O’Donnell up from ten points down to at least even?

Robert Stacy McCain:

Me? I’m 100% with Christine O’Donnell, come hell or high water. She’s got Dan Riehl and Mark Levin on her side, and I’m sticking with those guys — no personal offense intended to anyone who disagrees.

What has struck me as misguided all along is the fundamental assumption made by O’Donnell’s critics that Castle can win the general, or that O’Donnell’s chances of winning Nov. 2 are significantly less than Castle’s. I am profoundly dubious of either assumption. O’Donnell is a fresh face and enormously telegenic, whereas Mike Castle . . . eh, not so much.

If there really is a GOP tidal wave coming on Nov. 2 and if an anti-Obama/anti-incumbent/anti-Washington sentiment is the energy behind that tsunami, then O’Donnell is certainly better positioned to harness that energy than Mike Castle.

Gabe Malor:

I don’t have much to add to what Ace said earlier, except that I’m genuinely puzzled at folks who say they’d rather the seat be Democrat than in the hands of a RINO. Given the number of Senate seats now in play, this is tantamount to declaring that they’d rather have a Democratic Senate than a Republican one.

I’m saying, it might be different if Republicans were going to have control of the Senate anyway. Then, heh, no real harm to letting our “problem Senators” know what we expect in the future. Same thing on the flipside. If the Democrats were going to have insurmountable control of the Senate…again, it doesn’t matter so much whether the Democrat or the RINO wins.

But we’re talking about taking control of the Senate, something that only now is turning into a real possibility. And that’s going to take putting up with folks like Collins and Snowe and Castle. As infuriating as they are, I’d rather put up with them than watch the Democrats run the country into the ground under another two years of Majority Leader Reid (or his successor).

It’s just astonishing that folks — good, genuine, GOP people — are actually advocating for a path that leads to Democratic majority in the Senate. Over Delaware, a blue state that we have the unimaginably good fortune to be poised to take way from the Democrats until 2014!

Think about it. Turning a Democratic state Republican for long enough that the folks there might actually learn something. Isn’t that what we want? Turn the blue states red? Why would we pass up a gift like this?

Allah Pundit:

There is a reason to prefer Castle — very, very grudgingly — but we’ve already hashed that out. For further thoughts, see Gabe Malor, who wonders why any righty would rather see a Democrat win than a RINO, particularly when it could mean the difference between Democratic and Republican control of all-important Senate committees next year. The response to that argument is usually some variation on the idea that we’re one crushing defeat away from total victory — that if blue states aren’t ready to elect “true conservatives” yet, well, then it’s better to leave Democrats in control so that they can ruin the country even more and eventually produce a real conservative backlash. (Which, I guess, means we shouldn’t have supported RINO Scott Brown in January, since he spoiled Obama’s filibuster-proof majority.) The flaw in this reasoning, of course, is that some things are bound to go right for Democrats despite their dumbest efforts to prevent that from happening. The economy will start to speed up again, even with The One keeping his foot on the brake of the engine of growth (note the car metaphor!), and if the Democrats control Congress when it does, they’ll get plenty of credit from voters. You’re simply not going to get a map that’s completely red, any more than the idiot liberals who were high on Hopenchange two years ago were ever going to get a map that’s completely blue. And as I said yesterday, however much they may irritate you, RINOs are marginally better than Democrats. I recommend re-reading this Doctor Zero post from last year on that subject, after Glenn Beck suggested that McCain would have been worse for the country than Obama. Ain’t so, although it certainly is comforting to believe it.

Stephen Bainbridge:

Ronald Reagan successfully rebranded the conservative movement as one with a big tent. Why exclusionists like Dan Riehl want to turn it into a small tent movement puzzles me. If they think there is a conservative majority in this country, they’re dead wrong–and their narrow views on issues like immigration, gay rights, and so on are helping make sure there never will be one. The US is a center-right country, with at most maybe 35% ideological conservatives, and a lot of them want the government to keep its hands off their Medicare! By letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, Riehl and his ilk are ensuring themselves of a pure minority. I guess it makes for good talk radio and blog posts, but it’s a lousy electoral strategy.

Riehl responds:

Let’s see. I once wrote an Examiner editorial on the need for something of a center-Right compromise on immigration I believe the majority of Americans would support. Way to do your research before attacking someone, perfessor!

I’m a large tent conservative and embrace civil unions as a compromise on gay marriage. I believe that also puts me in the majority in America, unlike wherever it is Stephen apparently rests – assuming we disagree. And I’ve never once called for the abolition ofMedicare and took Rand Paul to task for his failure to understand the finer points on Civil Rights issues. So, how the hell is it I am an intolerant exclusionist all of a sudden? Simply because we disagree?

WASHINGTON — Two important GOP constituencies, Big Business and Social Conservatives, are at odds over immigration reform. However, if both sides would take the time to actually understand each other, as opposed to hurling insults this way and that, they’d likely find common ground supported by their mostly conservative beliefs.

Castle voted to gut the Tea Party movement with the Disclose Act. He supports Cap and Trade and regulating green house gases because he’s bought and paid for by the banking lobby. They would get fat on a brand new huge Commodities Market and the middle class would foot the bill through costs, if not taxes – or both, with this administration.

Conservatives haven’t won anything. Crist could still win, as could Harry Reid. Throw a liberal Republican into that mix and you could easily have a Senate happy to throw in with the Dems and Obama, creating a big enough rift that the Right would split, dooming the GOP. The base is only willing to tolerate so much at this point.

Doug Mataconis:

The Republican party wasn’t always this way, of course. As Professor Bainbridge points out, there was a time not too long ago when it was the home of conservatives like Paul Laxalt and moderate Republicans like William Cohen. If it’s ever going to be the kind of national party capable of getting it’s agenda through Congress, it’s going to need to be that kind of party again, and that means acknowledging the fact that Mike Castle is the kind of Republican that can be elected statewide in Delaware, and Christine O’Donnell, as she has proven time and again in her quixotic efforts to run for office, most definitely is not.

Purism is a fine thing, it’s even got a nobility of its own, but when it becomes this rigid it just leads to defeat.

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Filed under Political Figures, Politics

Eagerly Awaiting Alan Freed’s New Blog

Jonathan Strong at The Daily Caller:

Katie Couric once described bloggers as journalists who gnaw at new information “like piranhas in a pool.” But increasingly, many bloggers are also secretly feeding on cash from political campaigns, in a form of partisan payola that erases the line between journalism and paid endorsement.

“It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for favorable coverage, says one Republican campaign operative. A GOP blogger-for-hire estimates that “at least half the bloggers that are out there” on the Republican side “are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.”

In California, where former eBay executive Meg Whitman beat businessman Steve Poizner in a bitterly fought primary battle in the campaign for governor, it sometimes seemed as if there was a bidding war for bloggers.

One pro-Poizner blogger, Aaron Park, was discovered to be a paid consultant to the Poizner campaign while writing for Red County, a conservative blog about California politics. Red County founder Chip Hanlon threw Park off the site upon discovering his affiliation, which had not been disclosed.

Poizner’s campaign was shocked to learn of the arrangement, apparently coordinated by an off-the-reservation consultant. For Park, though, it was business as usual. In November 2009, for instance, he approached the campaign of another California office-seeker — Chuck DeVore, who was then running for Senate — with an offer to blog for money.

“I can be retained at a quite reasonable rate or for ‘projects,’” Park wrote in an e-mail to campaign officials. In an interview, Park defended himself by claiming, “nobody has any doubt which candidates I’m supporting,” and noting that his blog specifies which candidates he “endorses.”

[…]

Besides campaigns, industry groups and other political groups oftentimes pay bloggers for their insights.

Dan Riehl, who writes the Riehl World View blog, is one of Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele’s most vocal defenders in the conservative blogosphere. When The Daily Caller reported the RNC spent $1,946 at a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex acts, Riehl blasted the piece as a “pathetically weak story tailored to play to the Left and create problems for the GOP.”

“Riehl World View” readers might be interested to know that Riehl is not simply a blogger, but also a paid consultant to the RNC. In an interview, Riehl said he was paid an amount in the “hundreds of dollars” for writing a strategy document on how the RNC could better reach out to bloggers. Riehl said his motivation for defending Steele was to aid the Republican Party, and that he didn’t disclose his consulting work because, “I didn’t see it as having anything to do with my views.”

“I never made enough money to be bought,” he said.

Other bloggers openly lament how few campaign dollars are flowing their way. Conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain complains that politicians aren’t purchasing more advertising on blogs. “Advertising buys good will,” he says.

If it appears that conservative bloggers are more likely to take campaign money than their liberal counterparts, there may be a reason. According to Dan Riehl, conservatives can’t rely on the infrastructure of foundations and think tanks that supports so many liberal bloggers.

Riehl has made it a goal to mobilize conservative benefactors and organizers to establish a funding infrastructure mimicking what the liberal “netroots” created during the Bush years. “They did it the smart way,” Riehl says.

On the left, many of the once independent bloggers are now employed by, or receive money from, liberal organizations like Media Matters, the Center for American Progress and Campaign for America’s Future.

Some critics allege that the funding sources have distorted the once vibrant voice of the liberal blogosphere, discouraging dissent in favor of staying “on message” to help President Obama and Democrats in Congress pass their legislative agenda.

Dan Riehl:

Here is a headline from the Daily Caller today, a story that is both false and unfairly defames me. By his own arguments, the Caller is now discredited on two counts. I’ve since spoken to one of the Right’s top conservative bloggers who was part of the group and recalls my disclosure. He will go on record if need be. There are likely others. It was not secret, which is what the headline states. I demand a correction. But, there’s still more.

True stories of bloggers who secretly feed on partisan cash

In the extended video Carlson also goes on and on about his dedication to only the best in journalism, especially as regards ehtics and standards. But the individual who wrote this story, Jonathan Strong, has no journalism degree based upon his DC bio. Nor, did he ever work in serious traditional journalism. He’s a GOP establishment type with a background in, surprise, energy and climate legislation. Perhaps if Carlson had employed an actual journalist, he would have gotten the story correct. That hire would also seem to comport with the Left’s assertions that raised the eyebrow of Howard Kurtz, that the Daily Caller is a thinly disguised lobbying organization, not a genuine journalistic endeavor.

Welcome to new media, Tucker, where the subjects of your hit pieces get to ask questions and do a little reporting of their own. But, you wouldn’t really know that in your beltway bubble, would you, bow-tie boy? Correct the record and do go back to Heritage to explain how it is that your site isn’t now discredited on two counts, based upon your very own words there back in 2009. My previous full initial response here.

Robert Stacy McCain:

We’ll let others debate the ethics of such transactions. What I see here is an example of several different problems with the Republican Party’s approach to New Media. As I explained to Strong, it would have been a lot smarter for Whitman to “spread the love” around the blogosphere, perhaps by buying Blog Ads (my rate is $25 a week) or Google AdSense placements.

If the Whitman campaign wanted to put all its eggs in one basket, however, why not throw $20,000 into the “Southland Fundraiser” idea that Joe Fein at Valley of the Shadow suggested? Bring several bloggers to L.A. for a weekend event that would combine New Media outreach with a joint fundraiser for candidates and the state party. However such an event was structured — seminars about online activism, meet-and-greets with candidates, etc. — it would serve many purposes, especially putting California “on the map” with conservative bloggers.

That kind of ”more bang for the buck” approach is one I’ve discussed often with other bloggers — including my buddy Jimmie Bise Jr. of Sundries Shack – and yet it seems impossible to get people to listen. The strategic payoff of Rule 2 is to spread the linky-love around and build up the newer and/or smaller blogs, so that the conservative ’sphere has a broader reach and a deeper base.

Most conservative bloggers are part-timers, for whom a couple of hundred dollars a month would be a godsend. Trying to “monetize” Web traffic is a notoriously difficult task, and even successful full-time bloggers aren’t exactly “farting through silk,” to borrow P.J. O’Rourke’s colorful phrase. You’ll notice that Professor Glenn Reynolds hasn’t quit his day job, and Ace of Spades isn’t lighting Cohibas with $100 bills.

John Hawkins:

First of all, let’s talk about me: I have done some consulting. I worked on Duncan Hunter’s presidential campaign, I did 2-3 projects for the David All Group including this nifty contest where bloggers got paid $50 for writing the best anti-socialized medicine post in the blogosphere each week. All of that is disclosed in RWN’s FAQ section. Beyond that, I do still try to get some consulting work on the side, although by necessity, it has to be limited in scope so it doesn’t conflict with my blogging.

Now, as I just mentioned, I’ve done some consulting. I also know more conservative bloggers than anybody else, including the consultants. Do I get asked for recommendations on who to hire as a consultant? Yes. Do I have connections at a lot of political campaigns and organizations that hire consultants? Yes.

So, let’s address the primary allegation in the article:

“It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for favorable coverage, says one Republican campaign operative. A GOP blogger-for-hire estimates that “at least half the bloggers that are out there” on the Republican side “are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.”

I don’t deal with that many state bloggers, so I can’t speak as to what’s going on with them. But, on the national level, with blogs you’ve heard of — what was said there is not only wrong, it’s spectacularly wrong.

To the best of my knowledge, there just aren’t that many name brand bloggers or even former name brand bloggers who do a significant amount of consulting work. Off the top of my head, let’s see there’s Lorie Byrd, Bettina Inclan, David All, Jon Henke, Patrick Hynes, Liz Mair, Soren Dayton, & Patrick Ruffini.

That’s not an exhaustive list and there may be a few more that I’m forgetting, but that should be a pretty good grouping of the main names — and if you already know who half of them are, congrats, you’re officially a blogosphere junky.

Now, you may be saying, “Okay, so there aren’t a lot of bloggers working as consultants, but what about the allegation that bloggers are being paid for favorable coverage?” Here’s my answer to that: I’ve been a blogger for almost a decade and I’ve been a professional blogger since early 2005. In all that time, I’ve never even had anyone offer to pay me for favorable coverage on RWN. That should tell you something.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that people don’t try to influence bloggers, but it tends to be more subtle than offering up payola. You’ll have politicians and companies buy ads on blogs just like they do everywhere else. They’ll occasionally even host dinners or lunches at these blogger conventions in an effort to get you in a room where they can try to bend your ear. But, that’s a far cry from buying favorable coverage.

Last but not least, I don’t want to give you the idea that there couldn’t be anything shady going on in the blogosphere if I’m not aware of it, but I’d be very surprised if there was any payola being doled out on a widespread scale and quite frankly, I’m in a much better position to know about it than anyone at the Daily Caller.

Ed Morrissey:

For the record, I’ve never been approached for a scheme like this, nor has it ever occurred to me to put my credibility up for sale.  Of course, I’m also paid (and paid well) to write for Hot Air, which makes it perhaps a little too easy to get sanctimonious about this issue.  Still, I didn’t always do this for a living, and during the 2004 and 2006 election cycles, my previous blog was a struggling business enterprise like most everyone else’s. Not only did I not even contemplate it, I wasn’t aware of it occurring at all among my peers.

This seems to have the same problem of scale, too.  The Daily Caller has a few data points in its article, but they all seem to be connected to California campaigns.  I’m not sure that this translates to a wide problem, but if so, it could be very damaging.

In the radio and television industry, this would be called payola, and it occasionally erupts into scandal.  Broadcast services are regulated by the government, and payola can lead to loss of broadcast licenses — which is why radio and television stations fire anyone even suspected of it.  In the film industry, though, no one thinks twice about “product placement” any more, even though it’s essentially the same thing, giving certain products sympathetic placement for buckets of cash.

Fortunately, blogs aren’t regulated by the government, at least not yet, but it’s stories like this that will give rise to demands for government to take action.  The Federal Election Commission has repeatedly hinted at imposing onerous requirements on bloggers that will create legal burdens too expensive for most to meet.  The hook will be undisclosed relationships with campaigns that turn blogs in effect into coordinated third-party efforts, and that could result in hefty fines for both the campaigns and the bloggers.  But the larger impact will be to discourage political blogging at all, as the cost of defending oneself from the inevitable complaints will be so high (even for the majority who are innocent of any such connections) that people just won’t bother to enter the market at all.

Even beyond that, though, it’s simply dishonest.  Plenty of bloggers get involved in election campaigns, and they make those connections clear by disclosing them o their blogs.  Deliberately failing to do that — and to market one’s blog as a paid outlet for politicians — puts people into Armstrong Williams territory.  It saps credibility and damages the ability of the blogosphere to effect political change in the long run.

Jillian Bandes at Townhall

Ace Of Spades:

First of all, here’s the answer to the question people are probably asking:

Was I ever bought?

No, but… kind of.

Twice I had conversations with people in DC in which the notion of a pushing a story for pay was suggested, once very vaguely, once more tangibly. The first time I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t really being asked; the second time I said no.

As I tried to sell it to myself I just couldn’t. And I did try to sell it to myself. I tried every argument I could think of to somehow figure out a way that me getting money was a proper thing.

I didn’t run anything on either, by the way. (And neither did any coblogger, and neither was there a link… there wasn’t anything about it at all.)

The problem with this is that was that even if the story I was being asked to push was the sort of thing I would push… well, I couldn’t get past the pay-for-play aspect of it. Because even though I would push it, if I came across it and found it interesting, the problem was I wouldn’t typically come across it and find it interesting. It was a good story, but… Eh, I couldn’t do it.

Not just because I’m such a terrific and ethical guy, but because I knew, let’s face it: At some point an article like the Daily Caller’s would come out, and I would have to write this post, and I would either have to lie to readers or confess I’d lied to them earlier.

Now here’s the part about “kind of:” That project Dan is talking about, about trying to set up some sort of system on the right like they have on the left to help fund struggling bloggers?

Yeah I know of multiple such plans cooking. Many bloggers in the DC area have been trying to get that sort of thing off the ground for ages. They never do. But I hear about them.

One guy recently mentioned that to me, his efforts to get some kind of funding pool set up for the blogosphere, and lamented (as all these guys do) that Republicans with money are simply not interested in the internet. The way it was explained to me is thus: They’re older and more conventional. They haven’t embraced the internet. They use it, but they don’t really appreciate it as a legitimate form of communication.

(I’m speaking here of wealthy Republican donors generally and not, say, the people who donate to this site, who are clearly internet-friendly. I mean as a general matter.)

They like things that are tried-and-true, tested, tangible. They like donating to the RNC — hey, it’s a corporation with an organizational chart and office space. They will donate to magazines: They’re tangible things; everyone understands that a magazine can inform and persuade.

To one guy I said: The trick you have to pull is to sell this partly as a physical magazine each blogger will contribute an essay or article to. You set it up as half for the magazine, half for just keeping the blogosphere going; but at the end of the day, they want something physical they can hold in their hand. You sort of have to make-pretend with the magazine aspect and give them that because they just don’t want to donate to anything as sketchy as the internet.

Anyway, it has long been my belief, based on personal experience, that this was a necessary thing, and that unless that happened this site, and a bunch of others, would simply go away.

Ann Althouse:

In case you’re wondering, no one has ever even offered me money to blog something. I wouldn’t do it, of course, but it never comes up — perhaps because I don’t live in Washington, perhaps because (as a law professor) I don’t look easy to tempt, and perhaps because it’s just not something that happens.

Doug Mataconis:

Politicians have been seeking to influence bloggers for some time now. Like I am sure most other political bloggers out there who’ve been around long enough, I get in my email in-box press releases from political candidates I’ve barely even heard of, some of them running in places I’ve never even visited. I didn’t sign up for any of them, and yet, every day, sometimes more than once a day if there’s an election approaching, Usually, I ignore them and even when I do glance through them I can’t say it’s ever actually caused me to write a blog post. Campaign press releases, you see, don’t really interest me all that much.

Politicians have also sought to influence bloggers via ads, and you can find political ads of one kind or another on many political blogs. Since most of these ads are hosted through ad networks rather than directly purchased by the campaigns, though, it’s hard to see that they really have that much of an influence on editorial content.

The phenomenon of paid bloggers, though, is a new development and strikes me as something quite different. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but a supposedly independent blogger who is being paid by a campaign or a political party for favorable coverage, or any reason to be honest, owes something to readers. What they owe is a simple thing called disclosure. As long as readers know what’s going on behind the scenes that might impact your writing, they can make their own decisions about what to think about what you have to say.

And for the record, I haven’t received anything from any political party or candidate. Well, except for those unsolicited emails, and if they want to stop sending me those that’ll be fine.

E.D. Kain at The League:

While blogging is not at all the same thing as reporting, and readers of blogs expect opinions and partisanship rather than balance, there are lines bloggers shouldn’t cross and certainly full disclosure of any paid support from a candidate seems like an ethical first step. Paid advocacy for specific causes or politicians is simply not the same ball game as working for an ideological publication. If you write for a tech magazine you’re obviously going to write about technology, but if you’re paid by Nokia to write favorable reviews about their products then you enter much murkier waters and owe it to your readers to disclose that information – which, as it happens, basically discredits those reviews.

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There Are Slow News Days And Bizarre News Days. This Was One Of The Latter.

Philip Shenon at The Daily Beast:

Prosecutors in Sweden have withdrawn their warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, calling the rape charges against him unfounded. Still, a separate allegation of molestation remains. Philip Shenon talks to Assange’s supporters about his reaction to the charges.

Swedish prosecutors dropped rape allegations Saturday against the elusive founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, only hours after they issued an arrest warrant for him on the charges.

The prosecutors said on their website that the rape charges, which seemed to threaten the very existence of WikiLeaks given Assange’s central role in the whistleblowing website, were being dropped for lack of evidence.

At the same time, the prosecutors seemed to leave open the possibility that Assange was under investigation for other crimes in Sweden, a nation that had seemed on the verge a few days ago of becoming a new, permanent home for WikiLeaks. Assange had been in Sweden earlier this week.

Assange’s supporters struggled Saturday to track him down and ask him how he planned to defend himself against the rape and molestation charges that were first reported in a Swedish tabloid newspaper.

Assange, who leads a nomadic existence, mostly living in the homes of friends and supporters in several countries, communicates directly with news organizations and the public through the social-networking site Twitter, and he took to Twitter Saturday to defend himself.

Without revealing his whereabouts, he described the rape and molestations allegations as a “dirty trick.” The charges, he said, are “without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.” He added: “Needless to say, this will prove hugely distracting.” Before the rape charges were dropped, one of Assange’s closest supporters in Europe told The Daly Beast “I want to believe this is some sort of trick against Julian.”

Adrian Chen at Gawker:

Police originally issued an arrest warrant for 39-year-old Assange, an Australian citizen, on suspicion of rape and sexual harassment (“molestation” is the literal Google translation). Assange was in Sweden last week, seeking help from Sweden’s Pirate Party in hosting Wikileaks data.

Assange and Wikileaks took to Twitter, as is their style, to denounce the allegations. “We were warned to expect ‘dirty tricks.’ Now we have the first one.” As if to prove his point, Swedish police withdrew the warrant today, saying the rape suspicions are “unfounded,” according to the AP. However, the molestation/sexual harassment accusation still stands. (This charge won’t lead to an arrest warrant.)

This is suspicious timing for such a hiccup. Wikileaks made a splash recently with its Afghanistan War Diaries leak, and is currently locked in a tense standoff with the Pentagon over 15,000 unreleased classified Afghanistan war documents. Conspiracy alert! Did the Pentagon send a Predator drone over to Sweden to accuse Assange of rape and molestation!? Or, you know, maybe it was some boozy hook-ups gone awry. Either way, thank God: this Wikileaks thing has been lacking a sex angle for way too long.

Update:
The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet has an interview with one of Assange’s two accusers, an unidentified 30-year-old woman. She tells Aftonbladet that the other alleged victim contacted her about an incident with Assange, and the two went to the police together last week.

The women and Assange met during his stay in Stockholm and have neither met him or each other before.
The woman in her thirties say that on her part, she was sexually assaulted or molested, but not rape.
The story begain this friday. Another woman contacted her and told of a similar but worse story. That woman is in her twenties.

The woman says that at first the sex was consensual, but turned non-consensual in both cases. She also refutes the idea that the Pentagon or any of Assange’s detractors are behind the accusations:

The conspiracy theories that are flooding the net at the moment are discarded by the woman

“The accusations against Assange are of course not staged by neither the Pentagon or anyone else. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl are with a man with a disturbed view of women and problems accepting a no”

Fun fact: Aftonblade is the Swedish tabloid which recently tapped Assange to write a bimonthly column. Something tells us this deal is off.

Dan Riehl:

I’m in no way a supporter of what this fellow has done. But given the little that’s being reported, I can’t help but agree with him that the charges are disturbing. Welcome to the intelligence big leagues, Assange. I suspect you’re about to get knocked out of the park. Be very afraid. I suspect that, more than anything, is what the charges are meant to convey. That, and to provide grounds for your arrest.

Rick Moran:

I don’t think we can dismiss the possibility of a set up, but how would you convince the police to play along?  Or getting a couple of women to lie for you and have them keep quiet about it is not an easy task, especially when you consider they would have to appear in court and carry the conspiracy for a considerable length of time.

I do not believe the US government would be behind any shenanigans, but I wouldn’t put it past some rogue elements to take it upon themselves to punish the leaker. We don’t know enough to even guess yet, so perhaps we should just contemplate the fate of someone who proved himself a publicity whore and may have gotten burned for it.

Steven Taylor:

Considering news of the warrant just came out, it would seem that someone jumped the gun issuing it in the first place.  I have almost no opinion concerning Assange,* but it doesn’t take one to state that a rape allegation is quite serious and one would like to think that law enforcement would have their act together in terms of issuing a warrant, especially regarding someone for whom said warrant will be international news.

It is unclear to me what “molestation” means in this context, as in an American legal context it makes one’s mind leap to child molestation, but the treatment in the AP story (and other stories I have heard to this point in the day) don’t seem to be treating it as such.

___________________

*And yes, I know that bloggers are allegedly supposed to have instant deep (and, of course, utterly correct) opinions about everything, I will reserve any definitive statements about Assange or even Wikileaks, as it is one of the things for which I only have passing information at the moment and therefore have not formed a fully informed opinion as yet.

UPDATE: James Fallows

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