Tag Archives: Townhall

I Have A Dream, You Have A Dream, Glenn Beck Has A Dream

Amy Gardner at WaPo:

When Fox News and talk radio host Glenn Beck comes to Washington this weekend to headline a rally intended to “restore honor” to America, he will test the strength – and potentially expose the weaknesses – of a conservative grass-roots movement that remains an unpredictable force in the country’s politics.

Beck, who is both admired and assailed for his faith-based patriotism and his brash criticism of President Obama, plans in part to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. as an American hero. He will speak on the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, from the spot where King delivered it.

Some “tea party” activists say the event, at which former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is also scheduled to speak, will have a greater impact than last September’s “9/12” march along Pennsylvania Avenue. Though the attendance figures for that anti-tax rally are disputed, it was the first national gathering to demonstrate the size and influence of the tea party movement.

But with just a few days before the Beck rally, basic questions linger, including how big it will be and whether the event, which Beck says is nonpolitical, will help or hurt Republicans in November. Also unanswered is whether Beck can pull off the connection to King without creating offense – or confrontation with another event the same day led by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Max Fisher at The Atlantic with a round-up

Kate Pickert at Swampland at Time:

Glenn Beck’s 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally has already drawn all sorts of criticism. It’s scheduled to take place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech – which he delivered on the steps of the memorial in 1963. Given that Beck has said President Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people,” some black civil rights feel the rally’s location and scheduling are offensive.

What’s gotten less attention, however, is the group that will financially benefit from the event, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF). All proceeds raised through Glenn Beck’s promotion of the event go to SOWF – once costs for the rally itself are covered.

The charity, founded in 1980, provides college scholarships for children of special operations personnel killed in action or in training. SOWF is very well-run, with low administrative costs and a four-star rating from the watchdog group Charity Navigator. Some 160 of its scholarship recipients have graduated from college in the past 30 years and there are more than 100 students in college now.

Joan Walsh at Salon:

Beck claims he didn’t know Aug. 28 was the anniversary of King’s most famous speech when he chose the day, and I’m not sure what’s worse — that he’s lying, or that he’s telling the truth. My gut says he’s full of crap: You don’t schedule an event at the Lincoln Memorial, on the same day of one of the most famous events ever held there, and not know of the coincidence. Besides, Beck has been comparing himself to King, and his acolytes to civil rights strugglers, at least since the Obama administration began. He’s too big a megalomaniac not to know the symbolism of his choice.

But let’s say he’s telling the truth: Can someone who purports to be knowledgeable about our political and social history really not know about the 1963 March on Washington? Was Beck even paying attention when Obama accepted the Democratic nomination in Denver just two years ago, and every news organization in the world noted it happened to be on the 45th anniversary of the King speech — that’s right, Aug. 28. It’s hard to believe.

When the “coincidence” was called to his attention, Beck exhibited his trademark megalomania and paranoia. It was “divine providence,” he said — and besides, he snarled, “black people don’t own Martin Luther King!” It seems a little tone-deaf to talk about “owning” someone when King was fighting to undo the legacy of slavery, when African-Americans were literally owned by white people. A final fun fact: Beck insists he only chose the date because that was the only open Saturday before 9/12, and of course he couldn’t ask people to rally on a Sunday, “the Sabbath.” Of course, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, but I guess Jews weren’t high on the outreach list for Beck’s big event. But that’s our Beck, who has shown he subscribes to one of the ugliest anti-Semitic canards, that Jews bear the blame for killing Jesus.

Jillian Bandes at Townhall:

We can’t ignore the controversy: Beck is holding the rally at a time and place that is sure to draw scorn from a multitude of people. He’s doing it in the middle of election season, adding additional political weight to his avowed apolitical rally. Beck is a huge talker, and talks a lot about things that no one else does.

But that’s just one side of the coin. There are a multitude of people who believe that Beck is perfectly justified in holding the rally at that time and place, and even consider it an well-executed move. He’s got solid Christian credentials, so even if the rally does leak into politics, he’s built a firm foundation on which to honor our troops and focus on values. And Beck’s talking isn’t just background noise: his audience of over 3 million cable viewers are dedicated to his cause, and eager to spread the word.

Most importantly, lets not loose sight of the forest in the trees. Beck is motivating hundreds of thousands of Americans to get off their couch and get inspired. He’s providing a venue to praise our military and focus on what’s important, and no matter what your view of his political maneuverings, he’s doing a very effective job.

David Swerdlick at The Root

Greg Sargent:

Dems are gleefully noting to reporters that Beck intends to rally the faithful from the Lincoln Memorial — the very spot where King gave his speech 47 years ago. And with turnout estimates running as high as 300,000, Dems say they hope they can wrest some political advantage from what they hope will amount to a massive show of Tea Party force that’s rife with ugly Obama-bashing.

Though there are good reasons to wonder how effective it is, Dems have doubled down on a strategy of relentlessly elevating Tea Party whack-jobbery to turn moderates independents against the GOP. Several Dems cheerfully noted to me this morning that a raucus Tea Party rally staged on the anniversary of one of the turning points in the Civil Rights movement can only help in this regard.

To buttress the case that the rally is bad for the GOP, Dems are circulating a report in this morning’s Post claiming that officials with the Republican party committees are distancing themselves from the rally:

“In general, people coming to Washington, being organized and active is a good thing,” said Doug Heye, a spokesman for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele.

“But I gotta be honest with you — I don’t know about any Glenn Beck event.”

Given the awful job numbers and the nation’s other myriad problems, it’s hard to imagine that using the Beck rally to tar the GOP will do much to alter the Dems’ electoral fortunes. But the sight of Beck trying to coopt the legacy of King while crazed Tea Partyers bash the first African American president in the ugliest of terms may well go down as an iconic moment in the history of this movement.

David Weigel:

Yeah, because bashing the tea party has done them so much good so far. I remember the Democrats begging, begging for Sarah Palin to endorse Scott Brown in the January 2010 U.S. Senate special in Massachusetts, in the apparent hope that she’d pass her crazy cooties on to him. How’d that turn out for Senator Coakley?

Beck isn’t stupid, and he’s trying to cut down on the easy shots from liberals with a rule: No signs.

Digby:

If the Triumph of the Wingnut rally does attract 300,000 people, keep in mind it’s because they believe this:

Media Matters describes it this way:

In a new promo posted on a “Producers’ Blog” at his website, Beck humbly places the rally in the context of the moon landing, the Montgomery bus boycott, Iwo Jima, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and other landmark historical events. It also not-so-subtly suggests that Beck is following in the tradition of Martin Luther King (which is a farce), Abraham Lincoln, most of the Founding Fathers, Martha Washington, the Wright Brothers, and other notable historical figures.

To give you some sense of the egomania on display here, it starts with the line, “Every great achievement in human history has started with one person. One crazy idea.”

And it’s “brought to you by Goldline.”

Greg Sargent says that Democrats are gleeful about the “I Have A Nightmare” gathering because they think these people will expose themselves to America as the kooks they really are and the people will reject them. But what if they don’t? There’s ample historical precedent for kooks to break through into the mainstream and it can lead to some very unpleasant outcomes. Yes, Beck is nuts. But he’s also the most important figure in the Tea Party movement, which in case anyone hasn’t noticed is in the process of taking over one of the two major parties in the most powerful nation in the world. You can deride these people, as I do every day. But it’s a mistake to not take them seriously or underestimate their appeal in times like these.

No one should ever count on the people naturally seeing through demagogues. Their power lies in their ability to be convincing even when it doesn’t make rational sense and the truly talented ones can change the world. It remains to be see if Beck and his fellow travelers have that kind of juice. But I wouldn’t be so sanguine that they don’t.

Anthony G. Martin at The Examiner:

In a demonstration of the overwhelming support of mainstream America for conservative principles, Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is drawing ‘hundreds of thousands,’ according to McClatchy Newspapers.

Early reports indicate that so large is the crowd that attendees were having difficulty hearing the speakers. A quick scan of mainstream news outlets that have done actual estimates this morning indicates that attendance at this point is between 300,000 and 500,000 people.

And attendees are still arriving at the rally, which began some 90 minutes ago.

Newsbusters is live-streaming the event.

Michelle Malkin reports that as early as 7:30 AM there were already 100,000 peope gathered at the site.

Reporters on the ground, however, state that the claim of 500,000 attendees is grossly underestimated. A more accurate assessment of the crowd may well turn out to be between 500,000 and 1 million.

Speakers at the event represent a broad cross-section of America–civil rights leaders who were present at the Martin Luther King, Jr. rally in 1963, baseball manager Tony LaRusa, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a host of black preachers, and Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.

Update–Glenn Beck is speaking.  Passionate, eloquent, fervent defense of the Founders’ vision of America–faith, liberty, truth.

Update 2–Beck concludes by saying our hope as a nation is in God–a concept that is entirely consistent with the numerous writings of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin.  They may not have agreed on points of doctrine, but  in one accord they looked to God as the author and sustainer of LIBERTY!

Update 3–Country singer JoDean Messina sings ‘America the Beautiful.’

Update 4–More music from Messina and others.

Update 5–This aerial photo indicates the crowd may well number upwards of 1 million!

Updates on the rally will be reported as they become available.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

The state-run media is predictably annoyed with this patriotic rally.

The rally is streaming live at the Restoring Honor homepage and is also playing on C-SPAN.

A crowd shot from C-SPAN


Freedom’s Lighthouse
has lovely Sarah Palin’s speech at the rally.
What an awesome speech!

Meanwhile, Al Sharpton’s counter freedom rally managed to attract only 3,000 supporters.

Doug Mataconis:

After listening to the Beck rally this morning, though, I think the charges of racism were clearly over the top. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a political rally, though. Regardless of whatever Beck might say, the political undertones were rather obvious, and the degree to which it mixed religion and politics should quite honestly be disturbing to anyone who believes in the value of secularism in politics.

I’m not sure what the impact of this rally will be. I’m sure Beck has something more planned, he always seems to, stay tuned.

UPDATE: Ross Douthat in NYT

David Weigel

Douthat on his blog

Michael Kinsley at The Atlantic

Adam Serwer at Greg Sargent’s place

UPDATE #2: Russell D. Moore

Joe Carter at First Things

Daniel Larison

Reihan Salam at Daily Beast

Adam Serwer at The American Prospect

E.D. Kain

UPDATE #3: Nick Gillespie at Reason

James Poulos at Ricochet

John Tabin at The American Spectator

More Larison

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Filed under Mainstream, Political Figures, Politics, Race

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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Filed under New Media, Politics

Not A Muslim… Wash, Rinse, Repeat… Not A Muslim… Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Pew:

A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined. More than a year and a half into his presidency, a plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows.

A new national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is. The survey was completed in early August, before Obama’s recent comments about the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center.

The view that Obama is a Muslim is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers. Roughly a third of conservative Republicans (34%) say Obama is a Muslim, as do 30% of those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance. But even among many of his supporters and allies, less than half now say Obama is a Christian. Among Democrats, for instance, 46% say Obama is a Christian, down from 55% in March 2009.

The belief that Obama is a Muslim has increased most sharply among Republicans (up 14 points since 2009), especially conservative Republicans (up 16 points). But the number of independents who say Obama is a Muslim has also increased significantly (up eight points). There has been little change in the number of Democrats who say Obama is a Muslim, but fewer Democrats today say he is a Christian (down nine points since 2009).

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

The Pew poll, as reported by the Associated Press, finds confusion about Obama’s most basic beliefs:

Americans increasingly are convinced — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion.

I love that “incorrectly.” The AP has evolved into an opinion machine, so it’s rare and a little startling to see it stand up so boldly for a “fact.” He’s not a Muslim, dammit!

More on the poll data:

Nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 percent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who correctly say he is a Christian is down to just 34 percent.

The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don’t know his religion, an increase from the 34 percent who said that in early 2009. …

In a separate poll by Time magazine/ABT SRBI conducted Monday and Tuesday — after Obama’s comments about the mosque — 24 percent said they think he is Muslim, 47 percent said they think he is Christian and 24 percent didn’t know or didn’t respond.

So, what is going on here? First, we are seeing fallout from the Jeremiah Wright affair. I would never presume to pass judgment on Obama’s spiritual life. But one thing I will say with confidence: Jeremiah Wright is no Christian. His ideology of hate disqualifies him. So many millions of Americans, learning that Wright was Obama’s spiritual mentor, must have wondered where Obama himself was coming from. I think that is the main source of confusion, coupled with Obama’s lack of connection to any identifiable Christian tradition.

The second factor, I think, is Obama’s effort to project a post-American, above-America persona. Obama postures as a citizen of the world who has graced America by condescending to be our President and to instruct us. Some liberals accept this posturing gratefully, but most Americans don’t. Obama has defined himself as literally exotic. Small wonder that some Americans attribute exotic qualities to him. We’re not sure who he is, exactly, but he certainly isn’t one of us. Given the currents that swirl through world events these days, being a Muslim is one interpretation of Obama’s exoticism. Those who construe Obama in this way may well be wrong, but it is not hard to understand why they interpret his aloof non-Americanism in this way.

David Weigel on Hinderaker:

That’s some analysis, isn’t it? “Being a Muslim is one interpretation of Obama’s exoticism.” Of course: the Muslims who live in this country are un-American. Those Muslims who supported the War in Iraq? Probably un-American, just very, very sneaky. Muslims who donate to the GOP? Softening us up for the takeover, probably.  Those Muslims who died on 9/11? Let’s assume they were plants. To be American is to agree with John Hinderaker; to disagree is to be a Muslim.

I’m remembering what Sarah Palin said about the “mosque” that got liberals so angry: “peace-seeking Muslims, please understand, ground zero mosque is unnecessary provocation.” Implicit in that statement is the belief that there are “peace-seeking Muslims.” We’re learning about a lot of people who won’t go that far. They view Muslims the way that the czars used to view the Jews.

Adam Serwer at The American Prospect:

Hinderaker is mad that the AP isn’t reporting as fact an interpretation of a feeling that some conservatives have about “the currents that swirl through world events.” Feel free to snap your fingers when you’re done reading. As Dave Weigel writes, “To be American is to agree with John Hinderaker; to disagree is to be a Muslim.”

Still, I think on some level, Hinderaker is right. Some conservatives see Obama as being different from them, and they deploy “Muslim” as an epithet to express their suspicion and anger toward him. I’m sure part of it also has to do with conservative elites reinforcing or at least winking at the notion that Obama is being deceptive about his religious beliefs and that describing someone as a “Muslim” is some kind of an insult. As the Pew poll notes, “Beliefs about Obama’s religion are closely linked to political judgments about him. Those who say he is a Muslim overwhelmingly disapprove of his job performance, while a majority of those who think he is a Christian approve of the job Obama is doing.” In a less politically correct time they probably would have used a different word.

Amy Sullivan at Swampland at Time:

I’m going to repeat that because this is very unusual: a year and half after Obama moved into the White House, Americans are far less certain about who he is than they were during the campaign. That isn’t a good trend line for any political figure, but especially not the president. It may be appealing for an offbeat Hollywood actor or a reclusive writer to be seen as an enigma. But politics is a personal arena–voters like to feel that they can relate to a president or at the very least understand who he is. More dangerous for Obama is the fact that if a politician doesn’t define himself, his enemies are more than happy to do it for him. The Pew poll is evidence that the endless conservative media cycle of misinformation about Obama is working: of those respondents who identified Obama’s faith as Islam, 60% said they learned the “fact” from the media. (Note that the poll was conducted before Obama waded into the so-called Ground Zero mosque controversy.)

Barely one-third (34%) of Americans can correctly identify Obama as a Christian, compared to more than half (51%) who could do so during the 2008 campaign. But that huge drop isn’t driven primarily by Fox News true believers. (Let me pause for a moment here to say that it is of course not a smear to call someone a Muslim. It is, however, obnoxious to say someone is a member of a religious faith when he’s not–and to insist that he is not a member of the tradition he does claim. It would also be foolish and naive to pretend that conservatives who call Obama a Muslim are doing it in a neutral way and that their intention is not to raise questions about his “otherness.”)

Consider this: Less than half of Democrats (41%) know Obama is a Christian, down from 55% in March 2009. Barely four-in-ten African-Americans say he’s a Christian, down from 56% last year. The percentage of moderate and liberal Republicans who say Obama is a Christian has dropped by 27 points, but it’s not because they’re all now convinced he’s a Muslim. Instead, the percentage who just don’t know his religion has risen 19 points. “What the numbers say,” says Alan Cooperman of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “is that there’s a lot of uncertainty and confusion about the president’s religion.”

Where is this confusion coming from? I asked Cooperman, who suggested this explanation: “Part of what’s going on here may be that there’s been a relative–especially compared to the previous president–absence of information from the president himself and from the White House about his personal religion and his practice of his personal faith. In the relative vacuum of information, suggestions from the president’s critics have been able to gain more currency and uncertainty is rising.” I think that’s about right. Given how frequently and personally Obama spoke about his Christian faith during the Democratic primaries and the 2008 general election, his relative silence since moving into the White House has been puzzling. (White House aides point out that he has spoken about his faith on six different occasions, but several of those remarks–including his prayer breakfast comments–have been stilted and pro forma, especially compared with his impressive 2006 address on religion and politics.)

It also hasn’t helped that the First Family does not attend a church in Washington, DC and that the White House rushed to shoot down a story I reported last summer that the Obamas had decided to follow George W. Bush’s lead and make the Camp David chapel their primary place of worship. (Even though Obama subsequently confirmed the story in several different venues.)

The obvious question from all of this is: Does it really matter that people don’t know what religion the president practices? After all, roughly half of Americans say that Obama relies on his religious beliefs (even if they don’t know what those are) the right amount, just as half said the same thing about Bush. Those who don’t know what Obama’s faith is appear to be divided evenly on the question of whether they approve of his job performance. And it seems pretty clear that disliking Obama makes you more likely to believe he’s a Muslim, not the other way around.

[…]

One last note on another finding I found fascinating: Of those Americans who think Obama is a Muslim, nearly one-quarter (24%) told Pew pollsters they think he talks about his faith too much. Which is impossible, of course, because Obama is not a Muslim, so he’s spent exactly zero minutes talking about being one. What the result illustrates instead is how thoroughly those who oppose Obama are willing to read everything he says and does through a filter of distrust. Sixty percent of those who think Obama is a Muslim say they got that idea from the media. But interestingly, one-in-ten say they got it from Obama’s own behavior or words. They hear the Cairo speech or see the outreach to Muslim countries and assume, well of course, it’s because he’s Muslim. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t engage in the outreach–far from it. But it does make it even more important for the White House to offset those perceptions with a little more openness about the president’s real Christian faith.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard on Amy Sullivan:

Of course, Sullivan doesn’t point to any “conservative media” oulets that have pushed the claim Obama’s a Muslim in the past year. “The Emergence of President Obama’s Muslim Roots” was the title of an ABC News blog post from June 2009. Though the report was (unfairly) attacked by the left, it was actually a smart report on how Team Obama had shifted, in advance of the president’s visit to Cairo, from minimizing to touting Obama’s experiences in the Muslim world and with Muslim family members:

During a conference call in preparation for President Obama’s trip to Cairo, Egypt, where he will address the Muslim world, deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough said “the President himself experienced Islam on three continents before he was able to — or before he’s been able to visit, really, the heart of the Islamic world — you know, growing up in Indonesia, having a Muslim father — obviously Muslim Americans (are) a key part of Illinois and Chicago.”

Given widespread unease and prejudice against Muslims among Americans, especially in the wake of 9/11, the Obama campaign was perhaps understandably very sensitive during the primaries and general election to downplay the candidate’s Muslim roots.

The candidate was even offended when referred to by his initials “BHO,” because he considered the use of his middle name, “Hussein,” an attempt to frighten voters.

So maybe Obama’s embrace of his non-religious experiences with Islam helped cause this seven-point jump. Or perhaps, as Ben Smith speculates: “telling a pollster that Obama is a Muslim is just another way of expressing disapproval.” Or maybe more people think Obama’s a Muslim because he doesn’t go to church and doesn’t talk about Jesus like he did on the campaign trail, as Time‘s Sullivan reasonably observes later in her blog post.Whatever the reason for the uptick in this poll and confusion in general about Obama’s religion, it doesn’t seem to be a sign that “a lot of people” in America “view Muslims the way that the czars used to view the Jews,” as Slate blogger David Weigel writes.

Doug Mataconis:

We can find examples of stupid or at least ignorant voters who believe that it’s true and who voted or will vote against Barack Obama solely because they think he’s a “secret Muslim.”It’s a vile smear for two reasons.

The first, of course, is because it’s untrue.

The second reason, though, is more subtle.

In the end, there’s no difference between suggesting Barack Obama is a Muslim and calling into question the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, or the Catholic faith of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and, before, him, Al Smith, who likely lost the 1928 Presidential Election because of his Catholic faith. Of course, Romney is a Mormon and Kennedy and Smith were Catholic, but the sentiment is exactly the same — those who continue to spread the Obama is a Muslim lie do so on the assumption, if not the hope, that people will excerise religious prejudice toward Obama because they think he’s a Muslim.

It’s religious intolerance, pure and simple. It’s the same form of idiocy demonstrated by a Republican Congressman from Virginia who went insane over exploited like a bigoted demagogue the fact that America’s first Muslim Congressman wanted to take his oath of office on the Koran.

And, it’s a far cry from the wise words of Sage of Monticello:

[I]t does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

By spreading the Obama-is-a-Muslim lie, people are saying  that a person’s religion should disqualify them per se from public office.

Quite honestly, I can’t think of anything more un-American.

John Pitney at The Corner:

As Ross Douthat pointed out several weeks ago, these findings should not surprise anyone. Surveys have long reported that Americans “don’t know . . . basic facts about their country and the world.” Up to ten percent of the public is unaware that Hawaii is part of the United States — perhaps these same folks heard that the president was born in Honolulu and drew their own conclusions.

But the administration is pushing back. According to the New York Times, a Christian pastor telephoned a reporter at the behest of the White House and declared, “I must say, never in the history of modern-day presidential politics has apresident confessed his faith in the Lord, and folks basically call him a liar.”

The pastor is mistaken. In 1984, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro said that President Reagan “walks around calling himself a good Christian but I don’t for one minute believe it, because the policies are so terribly unfair.”

UPDATE: John Dickerson at Slate

Ann Althouse

UPDATE #2: Ann Coulter at Townhall

David Kopel on Coulter

Instapundit

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And Now We’re Running Out Of Stamps, Too!

Fox News:

Some Democrats are upset and advocacy groups are outraged over the raiding of the food-stamp cupboard to fund a state-aid bailout that some call a gift to teachers and government union workers.

House members convened Tuesday and passed the multibillion-dollar bailout bill for cash-strapped states that provides $10 billion to school districts to rehire laid-off teachers or ensure that more teachers won’t be let go before the new school year begins, keeping more than 160,000 teachers on the job, the Obama administration says.

But the bill also requires that $12 billion be stripped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, to help fund the new bill, prompting some Democrats to cringe at the notion of cutting back on one necessity to pay for another. The federal assistance program currently helps 41 million Americans.

Arguably one of the most outspoken opponents on the Democratic side is Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who has blasted the move as “a bitter pill to swallow” but still voted yes.

“I fought very hard for the food assistance money in the Recovery Act, and the fact is that participation in the food stamps program has jumped dramatically with the economic crisis, from 31.1 million persons to 38.2 million just in one year,” DeLauro said in an e-mail sent to FoxNews.com. “But I know that states across the nation and my own state of Connecticut also desperately need these resources to save jobs and avoid Draconian cuts to essential services for low income families.”

Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall:

The cynical political reasoning behind this move is the same as that which informs the Democrats’ position on school choice: Union members vote; poor people often don’t (and their children, trapped in terrible schools, can’t).

So much for the Democrats’ carefully cherished self-image as the “party of compassion”; let’s hope Americans don’t forget, when the rubber hit the road, where the Democrats’ first allegiance lay.

And I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those people collecting food stamps would rather simply get a job — that is, if they could, in the Obama economy.

Blue Texan at Firedoglake:

There was a study last year that showed half of all American children will at some point in their lives rely on food stamps.  Yes, 50%.

So how many children will have to go hungry because of a couple Republicans in the Senate?

Don Suber:

So Republicans hate children, do they?

The $26 billion stimulus bill to states — which included a $10 billion gift to the National Education Association and other teacher unions — came with a price: A curtailment in spending on food stamps.

Naturally, many of the robo-Democratic congressmen failed to read the bill as they flew in to D.C. to pass it, collect their sound-bites and fly back to vacation.

The public is reading the bill. It strips $12 billion from food stamps.

What is wrong with this picture?

SusanAnne Hiller at Big Government:

Same old rhetoric from Obama–punishing businesses–so it’s all ok.  States wouldn’t want to follow New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s lead, would they?  If the states could find the cuts, they wouldn’t need to pillage the American taxpayer, and then they wouldn’t need a bailout.  California is broke, yet their teachers are the highest paid in the nation.  So, private sector greed is bad, but public sector (taxpayer funded–as in, you are taking your neighbor’s hard-earned money) greed is good?

Everyone knows that what the Democrats passed is another bailout–but, while the Democrats help their teacher base and spin that it’s for the children during this election season, another segment of the Democrat base will eventually suffer–the poor and families on food stamps.   How will they explain that away?  Additionally, the military and other departments and programs will be hit hard as a result of this legislation.

Below is the list of budgetary rescissions compliments of the new “fiscal hawks” in Congress.  It’s interesting how Democrats can find budget cuts and have no problem hurting the poor, working families, middle class, defense, and military, when it benefits the teachers and the unions on the US taxpayer’s dime.

If the Democrats are so willing to make these cuts (some permanent), reallocate appropriated funds, and rescind funds from the original stimulus bill of 2009 to meet the pay-go requirement, then why did they use unemployed Americans as political pawns in June when a deficit neutral unemployment bill was introduced and reported here on Big Government?  They could have fast-tracked that bill so that millions of unemployed Americans could have continued to receive benefits without a break–all in a bipartisan manner.

David Poff at Redstate:

We’ve seen it splattered all across the front pages; more spending for jobs, more spending for bailouts, more spending for Unemployment, more spending for Teachers and Unions and special interests. We’ve also seen deficits rise and the National debt reach numbers that don’t fit on WalMart calculators.

America is bankrupt and they (the ruling Political class) don’t even know it…or they don’t seem to care anyway. What else explains why they’d happily starve the “least among us” or force them to trample each other to death, fighting over a paltry scrap from the Master’s table?

And for all that so-called “stimulus” money that promised jobs we still don’t have, homes we still can’t afford, and infrastructure improvements (that would keep America working for a generation) that remain undone, why are we paving roads that cars can’t drive on?? Why do I have to find out about it while skimming state news about National candidates instead of seeing it splattered all across the so-called Media?

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If Life Gives You Lemons, Throw Them At The Health Inspector

Helen Jung at The Oregonian:

It’s hardly unusual to hear small-business owners gripe about licensing requirements or complain that heavy-handed regulations are driving them into the red.

So when Multnomah County shut down an enterprise last week for operating without a license, you might just sigh and say, there they go again.

Except this entrepreneur was a 7-year-old named Julie Murphy. Her business was a lemonade stand at the Last Thursday monthly art fair in Northeast Portland. The government regulation she violated? Failing to get a $120 temporary restaurant license.

Turns out that kids’ lemonade stands — those constants of summertime — are supposed to get a permit in Oregon, particularly at big events that happen to be patrolled regularly by county health inspectors.

“I understand the reason behind what they’re doing and it’s a neighborhood event, and they’re trying to generate revenue,” said Jon Kawaguchi, environmental health supervisor for the Multnomah County Health Department. “But we still need to put the public’s health first.”

Ann Althouse

Paul Chesser at The American Spectator:

So whose role is it to protect the public from excessive government? The health department says you can call and register complaints with the Multnomah County Environmental Health Services. Okay, so it’s for food illnesses, but you know, it’s easy to get sick of out of control regulators too. And Lillian Shirley is the head bureaucrat at the Health Department.

As for citizens, they are planning their own lemonade revolt at the end of this month.

Richard Lawson at Gawker:

Though she was using hand sanitizer, 7-year-old Julie Murphy’s art fair lemonade stand was shut down because it didn’t have the necessary restaurant license. People were outraged and anarchists (srsly) are planning a protest. Stay strong, government agents!

Katie Pavlich at Townhall:

The girl, Julie Murphy, was selling the lemonade for 50 cents, which means she would have to sell 240 cups in order to purchase a food license, and in addition 1000 cups to then pay off the $500 fine. I wonder if the government would then tax the girl’s revenues as well.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

Hey, if Blue State/Democratic-controlled governments want to avoid being raked over the coals because their convoluted regulatory schemes keep throwing up scenarios where public sector union employees have to threaten seven year old girls and make them cry, here’s a thought: don’t make the regulatory schemes quite so complicated.  True, doing it that way requires one faction of the Democratic party (public sector unions) to have a fight with another faction (trial lawyers), but why is that my problem?

Don Suber:

The little girl is adorable in the accompanying photo.

Now readers may have figured out that one of my favorite albums is “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It’s the music.

And OK, the cover.

Lemonade very pretty and the little girl is swell.
But the ade of the poor girl is impossible to sell.
Bureaucracy very rigid and you do what they tell.
But the fruits at the health department can all go to…

Chris Morran at The Consumerist:

Realizing the error of their ways, county officials have now issued an apology, meaning the little girl’s horribly unsafe lemonade can be unleashed upon the world once more.

In his decision, Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen said that while county health department workers were “following the rule book” when they stopped the girl and her mom from selling lemonade, he asked them to use “professional discretion.”

“A lemonade stand is a classic, iconic American kid thing to do,” he said. “I don’t want to be in the business of shutting that down.”

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The Two Propositions Of The Day: Proposition C

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

Since even before President Obama signed the Democratic health care reform bill into law, federal elections have been examined as potential referendums on that bill. Most notably, the dramatic turn in Massachusetts, when Scott Brown defeated Martha Coakley to steal Democrats 60-seat supermajority, was pushed as a rejection of health reform by voters.
But now voters in a true bellwether state–Missouri, which votes for the next president more often than any other state (except in 2008)–have gone to the polls and registered their opinions directly on the new law. Last night, Missourians passed Proposition C, a measure to ban the federal mandate that individuals must purchase health insurance.
The margin was overwhelming: Missourians voted 71% to 29% in favor of the measure, and against the individual mandate.
On its face, this looks like a clear victory for those who oppose health reform–proof, once and for all, that voters really don’t like the new bill.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

WOW! The Show Me State showed Obamacare the door tonight.
Over 70% of Missouri voters rejected Obamacare by passing Prop c.
It’s too bad local KMOV St. Louis Channel 4 could not find any one who voted for the proposition.

David Boaz at Cato:

Polls show continuing opposition to the Obama-Reid-Pelosi health care overhaul. It’s constitutionally dubious. And now, in the only popular vote on the bill, it received a full 29 percent of the vote. Just maybe this wasn’t a good idea.

Hugh Hewitt at Townhall:

The overwhelming rejection of Obamacare by Missouri voters –71% of the Show Me State voters said no to Obamacare– is an enormous story, one that ought to dominate the MSM today and through the week.  Obamacare hasn’t gained fans –it has gained committed activist enemies who will punish the Democrats who jammed it down the country’s throat.  Those same activists are listening to GOP candidates who pledge to repeal and replace the disaster for American health care.

Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey:

If anything, this shows that opposition to ObamaCare is growing, not receding, but that’s probably not what actually happened.  While general-population and registered-voter samples may have seen a bit of softening to ObamaCare opposition, those aren’t the people turning out to vote this year.  Even Rasmussen may be underestimating the power of ObamaCare repeal in its likely-voter turnout, as their last poll on this question in Missouri clearly underestimated (in an indirect survey, of course) the results for this election.

Bear in mind that over 315,000 Democrats turned out to cast ballots in the primary that nominated Robin Carnahan, while over 577,000 Republicans hit the polls.  That is about a 65/35 split — which means that a significant amount of Democrats either supported the ballot measure repudiating ObamaCare, or didn’t bother to cast a vote to defend the program.  Actually, Prop C got more votes than the combined voting in both Senate primaries — which tells us something even more about the passion in the electorate.

Democrats may have to hit the panic button after seeing the results from this swing state.  ObamaCare set fire to the electorate last year, and that may be an inferno for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in November.

Peter Wehner at Commentary:

Symbolic is one way to describe Tuesday’s vote; ominous (for the Democrats) is another.

This is yet one more electoral manifestation of the dismal polling numbers the Democrats have been facing for many months now. We saw rising popular opposition to ObamaCare throughout last summer, which many liberals ignored or ridiculed. Then came the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the Senate election Massachusetts. Since then the opposition to ObamaCare specifically, and to Obama more generally, has increased; as a result we saw the 40-plus point trouncing in Missouri, a margin far higher than most people anticipated.

It is hard to overstate the toxicity of the Obama agenda. Losing a net total of 65 or more Democratic House seats is now possible (if not yet likely). We are less than 100 days away from what looks to be an inflection point, one of those rare mid-term elections that altar the trajectory of American politics.

Doug Mataconis:

It’s unclear where things go from here with regard to this law. Missouri is not one of the states that has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government to strike down the health care law and, given that it’s Attorney General is a Democrat, it’s unlikely that they will. Moreover, given that this referendum was on the ballot during a primary dominated by Republicans, the political impact of the victory for the anti-ObamaCare crowd is somewhat muted. It’s a victory, but not really a very important or significant one.

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Filed under Health Care

The Vision Is Getting Cloudier And Cloudier

Dustan Prial at Fox News:

So much for transparency.

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from “surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.” Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings.”

The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network. Steven Mintz, founding partner of law firm Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, lamented what he described as “the backroom deal that was cut between Congress and the SEC to keep the  SEC’s failures secret. The only losers here are the American public.”

Michelle Malkin:

My column today puts the DISCLOSE debacle in the broader context of the Democrats’ reign of darkness. Underscoring the theme of theme of the column: The story from Fox Business on how the “financial reform” bill championed by Obama exempts the SEC from FOIA requests. The transparency farce continues.

Meredith Jessup at Townhall

Tiernan Ray at Barron’s:

Prial reports he hasn’t gotten any response to his request for comment on the matter from the SEC.

The article includes a document link from Scribd with text of the new law, HR 4173, Section 929I, in which it states the SEC Act of 1934 is amended to state the SEC is “not compelled to disclose records or information obtained […] including surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.”

The lawyer for Fox, Steven Mintz, with Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, says the network plans to challenge the SEC on its interpretation of the law.

Does this mean the SEC has just brazenly stepped outside Freedom of Information Act rules? I’m not sure. I plan to inquire with the SEC on its side of the story and will let you know what, if anything I find.

Note: Fox Business, of course, is a part of News Corp., also the publisher of Barron’s and of this blog.

Correction: As a few readers noted, the wrong section number was listed above for the relevant passage in HR 4173. It is Section 929I, as in Internet, not a numeral “1″ on the end. You can see the passage in the Library of Congress posting of the final version of the bill. My apologies for any confusion caused by the error.

Ed Morrissey:

The Dodd-Frank bill had a lot of bad ideas rolled into it, but this may be the worst.  As Mintz notes, the next time a Bernie Madoff-type scam occurs, the American public won’t have any idea about it, or about the SEC’s efforts to prevent it.  The use of FOIA has uncovered many problems at the SEC, which is undoubtedly why Chris Dodd and Barney Frank wanted the exemption.  Among the cases listed by Fox Business as having been boosted by FOIA requests are:

  • March 2009 – Fox used FOIA to discover that the SEC had investigated Madoff and R. Allen Stanford, but failed to follow through on prosecution in time to save investors.
  • 2009 – Fox again used FOIA to get records showing that the Fed knew AIG execs would get their bonuses under the bailout legislation proposed by Congress.
  • SEC whistleblower Gary Aguirre forced the SEC to release documents through FOIA requests that showed he was correct in accusing the agency of interfering in an investigation of Pequot Asset Management — and allowed him to get a settlement for wrongful termination.

None of these would have happened without FOIA.  Government has only one purpose in issuing FOIA exemptions — opacity.  Some functions in government require secrecy, but those should be limited to acute national security operations and other such public-safety tasks (such as raw FBI files, for instance).

Barack Obama and the Democrats don’t want people to see how the SEC does its work, and that should worry everyone who has watched the SEC blow its regulatory responsibilities over the last few years.  This is an agency that needs more oversight, not less, especially with its increased power and authority.

Daniel Foster at The Corner:

“No one will know until this is actually in place how it works.” With each passing day, Senator Dodd’s appraisal of the Democrats’ Fin-Reg bill get truer and truer.

Weasel Zippers:

Who wins when it comes to this misguided legislative POS? Lawyers.

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Filed under Economics, The Crisis