Saturday, August 12, 2006

The influence of blogs and bloggers

Steve Mule has some very interesting thoughts on my commentary yesterday about the influence of blogs in the election cycle this year, as evidenced in Connecticut. I think what he had to say deserves a bit of elaboration, and I hope he'll forgive me if I don't cover absolutely everything.

The reason the blogs were so prominent was because of what was going on on the ground in Connecticut. The blogs could have blogged until Christ returned and it would not have made any difference if the folks had been satisfied with Lieberman.

It is quite true that blogging by itself is not yet in a position to change the political landscape, anymore than National Review (the NR of the Buckley era-William F. Buckley Jr. is no longer the editor-in-chief or proprietor, and you can tell, because with the exception of any work by my friend Aaron Harris, the magazine isn't as good as it was even ten or fifteen years ago) changed the political landscape in its heyday. What Buckley's NR did do was function as a tool to organize the grassroots of the conservative movement that was already out there, and that is a function that weblogs and bloggers have a real ability to perform now and in the days ahead.

Does this mean that the blogs had/have/will have no role? No. Will they be more important in the future? Maybe, it depends. The blogs can not create a situation/environment for change that favors any particular political ideology. They, like any campaign tool can only exploit what is already there.

Any political writer does that-exploit what is already there. The challenge is to frame those thoughts in such a way that it makes all sides stop and think. Blogs and bloggers now have the ability to influence the way that people inside campaigns do business. If there is one thing I've figured out about people who are regular political opinion bloggers, it is that we are very active politically. We assist and promote ideas, parties, and candidates-and a few even run for office themselves. Because of that, what is happening inside campaigns can often be exposed and critiqued through independent bloggers. That's also why the best campaign blogs are the "unofficial" independent variety, those which support a given candidate but have no official tie to the campaign they are supporting.

You also need to keep in mind the current level of internet "connectivness" present in America (East TN or wherever). It's not as high as you might think. I forget what it is but I was surprised that it was as low as it was. There really aren't that many people that have internet access (and most of it is dial-up; <56K) and of those that do have it even fewer read blogs. It'll be a long time (if ever) before blogs become a critical factor in a political campaign.

Even though the level of internet connectivity is relatively low, the U.S. still has the highest level of internet connectivity of any country in the developed world. This is largely due to the fact that in many other countries, such as Britain, ISP's have yet to develop the ability to offer flat-rate internet service the way we can offer it here in the States. In many countries, the further you are away from your ISP's server, the higher your rate for internet service. This makes internet service in many countries unaffordable.

However, more libraries, schools, and public institutions are offering free and open access to the internet every day in this country. Even here in tiny White Pine, the local library has some eight computers free for anyone to use to access the internet (I think it says a lot about the Ragsdale administration that Jefferson County, which has a much lower tax base and therefore much less money to spend, the libraries have nicer computers with better technology than anything I used in a Knox County Public Library), and a lot of people do use them. Our connectivity seems low, but if you don't have it at home, you can access the net at school, work, or the library absolutely free, and that is more than can be said for most places in the world. Connectivity is on the rise. As for 56K-for the longest time that's what I used and it certainly didn't stop me!

Your point about people connecting to blogs is well-taken. There are many people who connect via those "free" means that I spoke of have yet to discover the blogosphere, and that is precisely why the influence of blogs is limited. That will take time but as connectivity increases, so will the readership and usage of blogs.

Case in point - "Blogging for Bryant". How did that work out? I'm not bagging on Bryant or anyone that blogged for him. Just asking the question - Did it make any difference? What if the national/state media had picked it up and highlighted how it pointed out Corker's many shortcomings?

Without question, had the national press picked up on Blogging for Bryant, it would have attracted greater readership, it would have wielded much more influence in the race, and may have even countered some of Corker's big money.

However, I think B4B did "work out" even though Bryant didn't come out in first place. Now that the race is over, I feel a bit more free to state the obvious. Two months from the Primary, Bryant was what we who have worked on campaigns before would call "in a hole." He was in third place and his numbers were stagnant, and (even though I would never have admitted it on my blog while the campaign was going on) a lot of us thought he was "done." Bryant's strategy of effective door-to-door campaigning didn't change, however, but B4B began to increase posts and got Bryant press releases out to the public. In many cases, press releases were posted there about stories and events that the mainstream press was not even covering, and I believe it got the word out to the conservative grassroots that Bryant wasn't giving in. When Bryant's TV ads finally came out, I believe B4B helped the process by creating a built-in "base boost" that TV and radio then built on. As a result, Bryant's campaign began to surge, so much so that veteran observers like Sharon Cobb began to smell an upset. So did I, and as much of an optimist as I tend to be, I wasn't born yesterday, so it takes a lot of turnaround to get me in that kind of mood. The numbers were turning in Ed Bryant's favor-so much so that had the Primary been the following Tuesday, we just might have pulled it off. As it was, it turned out to be Van Hilleary who stood in Bryant's way, not Bob Corker. Unlike some, however, I don't blame Hilleary, he was just one factor. If Bryant had as much money as Corker, he could have left both men in the dust on Primary night.

After pointing out that most bloggers only read blogs that represent their point of view (for the most part he is right-but that is also slowly changing), Steve Mule said:

You're an exception as far as I'm concerned and that's why I respect you and your blog so much.

I am truly humbled by that kind of respect, and I thank Steve Mule for it. I also thank everyone who is reading my blog on a regular basis, no matter what side of the spectrum you are coming from. I thank you all for your time and your personal confidence in me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Learning from the year of the blog

After the defeat of Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democrat Senate Primary by Ned Lamont, many people are rightly crediting weblogs and bloggers with playing the decisive role in Lieberman's defeat. The Daily Kos, which is probably the most prominent left-wing blog in the national blogosphere, was constantly beating the drum in favor of Lamont and against Lieberman. It was more than just Kos, however, it was the many leftist bloggers who link to Kos (like these) every day. Lamont has even admitted that bloggers played a critical role in his campaign.

Granted, Lieberman stands a good chance of being re-elected as an independent, but the blogs of the left did as much for his undoing in the Primary as any media blitz by Lamont. That being the case, what the bloggers of the Left did in Connecticut could and should be used as a model for conservatives who are fighting for control of the Republican Party in Tennessee and in many other States. If the Left can use the blog as a decisive tool to undo a candidate that does not fit into their values as liberals and Democrats, the Right should be able to do the same thing to candidates in Primaries where that candidate does not suit our values as conservatives and Republicans.

We can really learn from Lieberman's defeat. There are a lot of Rightist bloggers out there, but we really need something on the Right that has the influence that The Daily Kos has that can be used not merely to pass on news and information, but connect more conservative bloggers to each other so that we can use our blogs even more effectively to influence the outcome of who controls the GOP and what direction the conservative movement takes. This can be done-we've seen the proof in Connecticut.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terrorist plot

As the whole world is probably aware by now, British authorities unfoiled a terrorist plot in which terrorists had blan to blow up aircraft that were headed from Britain to America. Scotland Yard arrested some 21 people, and they are confident, they say, that they managed to get all of those who were plotting the attacks.

I first heard of this at about two o'clock this morning, which is apparently when word first broke.

At first, the Bush Administration was not saying who was behind the attempted attacks, but now there is word that this attempt was "suggestive" of an Al-Qaeda plot. I do think that folks are getting much better at spotting these terrorist plots, and that is going to make it much more difficult for the enemy to engage in their kind of warfare. At the same time, I think this attempt makes us all aware that terrorists have not given up.

Clarett case is a shame

Former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett was arrested and maced yesterday, and police found (among other things) that Clarett was wearing a bullet-proof vest, had a bottle of vodka in the front of his vehicle, and had four firearms in his possession. Now I am all for the right to keep and bear, but why did he need four?

I tend to agree with those who are saying that Clarett's problems may go well beyond his being a young punk who thinks that the rules do not apply to him-Maurice Clarett may be mentally unstable. The fact that the Denver Broncos organization and Clarett's fellow Broncos' teammates say they tried to reach out to him but Maurice Clarett would have none of it.

Broncos' Head Coach Mike Shanahan:

"We tried to reach [out to] him quite a bit when he was here," Shanahan said. "What he did have here was a lot of support from our veterans. Our players really tried to take care of this guy and he wanted no part of it. That's one of the reasons why he didn't make our football team."

"I don't think I've ever been around a bunch of guys reaching out to a guy more than Maurice, trying to help him and a guy not wanting that help," Shanahan said. "That's a shame.

"It's just a shame that this has happened to a guy that [had] so much promise, so much ability. I'm not sure what happened, but it's a real shame."

It is a real shame indeed. I know that I've beat the drum on Clarett quite a bit over the years, but truthfully I pity the kid-he needs prayer.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

McKinney and Lieberman

Last night provided an interesting mix of Democratic Primary results from which much can be gleaned. First, allow me to discuss the race from which (I am forced from honesty to admit) I gained a great deal of personal satisfaction. Cynthia "Yo' Mama" McKinney was not just beaten by Hank Johnson, he trounced her by some eighteen points. It wasn't just McKinney's wild conspiracy theories (she thinks that the President knew about 9/11 in advance and in detail and let it happen anyway) that got her beat, because the militant Left has nominated some loony tunes before (Maxine Waters and George McGovern both come to mind), but the fact that McKinney seems to believe herself above the law provided a considerable amount of fodder for her opponents after she struck a Capitol Police Officer earlier this year.

I think it says a lot about McKinney and the kind of people who support her that her campaign staffers got into a fight with a television cameraman who came from a local station to cover events at her campaign (no word on why), and then blamed "all the press in the room" for injuring her mother. McKinney went on to explain to us, the uninformed and the stupid, that "electronic voting machines are a threat to our democracy." Really? Well, as a bit of a historical refresher, the same people who are now denouncing voting machines as "a threat to our democracy," were the same sorts who advocated that states switch from the paper ballot, which they said was antiquated and easily open to fraud, to punch cards and ultimately to electronic voting machines. Now the machines and reforms that many of those folks demanded are in place, and their guys and gals are still getting beat-so now the machines they wanted to begin with are to blame. Heck, Cynthia (and all)-paper ballots are a problem, scan-trons are a problem, punch cards are a problem, and now electronic voting machines are a problem. What's the best way to insure there is no "threat to democracy..."not vote at all? Needless to say, DeKalb County officials expect McKinney to be a sore loser.

The defeat of Senator Joseph Lieberman has made news around the world today, as he lost a narrow race to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont. Leading Democrats and media pundits have framed Lieberman's loss as voter reaction to the War in Iraq and I think there is a lot of truth to that. However, Mr. Lamont's victory could be pointing to a political reshuffle that goes far beyond the issue of the war. Democrats may be saying (as a party) that they wish to shed the Party model of the Democratic Leadership Council and return that party to a hard-left ideological stance. If that is what is happening, it could be bad news in the short term for the GOP in this year of discontent with the White House, but good news in the long term for the Republicans in 2008, who may successfully be able to paint the Democrats as rabid left-wing extremists.

This race should be interesting to watch, as Lieberman says he will run as an independent. He will likely split the Republican vote and has a built-in base of support among Democrats, and that means that he could win re-election by a narrow margin.

(Note: Sorry for the late post. Today is our wedding anniversary.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Keystone- Buckeye Senate semi-prognostication

Debate has begun in the blogosphere about just how bad the carnage will be for the Republican Party nationally come November. Rob Huddleston maintains that casualties will be light and that the GOP will maintain a majority in the House and Senate. In particular, he thinks that Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania may stage a comeback victory against Robert Casey Jr. I'd like to believe that is true, but I am not sure that I agree with Rob's assessment here. Casey is more than just a legacy. As a nominally pro-life Democrat whose father was a very pro-life governor, Casey is just the kind of man that a lot of traditional Catholic voters feel comfortable with.

There are a whole lot of orthodox or traditional Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, and the Casey name is magic for these folks. Yes, Santorum is Catholic, and yes, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation (which has a lot of pull in Pennsylvania) has endorsed him. A lot of the voters who will vote for Casey on election day, however, are people who loved his father for being one of the last great pro-life Catholic Democrats. That Casey was also endorsed by Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, and still has the distinction of coming closer than any other person to seeing Roe v. Wade overturned. We often forget that this most pro-life of cases did not come from a Republican governor.

Here's a shocker for you: Roger Abramson and I agree on something pretty significant. Abramson's comments on the Ohio Senate race between incumbent Senator Mike DeWine and Democrat Sherrod Brown are (I'm terribly afraid) right on. However, DeWine's impending defeat should not be viewed as any sort of defeat for conservatism by Ohio voters, or as an indication of some great Ohio political shift. Rather, the impending defeat of DeWine should be viewed as a defeat of-Mike DeWine.

DeWine, the former Ohio Lt. Governor under the even more repulsive sellout George Voinovich, campaigned as a conservative for the Senate. In his time there, he has been anything but conservative. He has led the way in pork-wasting more federal tax dollars than Howard Metzenbaum-now that's bad. On top of all that, DeWine's relatives have a sense of entitlement to their seats. Kevin DeWine is a State Representative from Greene County, Ohio, and isn't even bothering to have a decent campaign against a pro-life Democrat opponent who is actually more conservative than he is. How do I know this? I went to college with the opponent in question, and he is a rabidly pro-gun, pro-life person. If his campaign had more money, two DeWines would go down.

Pat DeWine is another DeWine who feels entitled. That one beat a sitting Republican incumbent for county commission in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) in a closed Primary, no easy feat, because he campaigned as being more conservative than the incumbent, and he won. Almost immediately, Pat DeWine turned around and ran for Congress to replace Rob Portman. The media darling, he ultimately lost because of questions surrounding the fact that he abandoned his wife and children in order to co-habitate with GOP activist Betty Hull-all the while having his Dad's full backing.

Defeating the DeWines should not be viewed as anything other than a rebuke of the DeWines, a group of slimeballs (no, I am not afraid to say it) who deserve to get a whipping.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Alpha's Blog of the Week

AlphaPatriot has been so kind as to make this place his Blog of the Week, for which I am greatly honored. Because of Alpha so doing, problems with my RSS feed have been brought to my attention yet again. I am quite aware that these problems were brought about because for the longest time, I would type entries in Word and paste them into Blogger, which creates issues with the feed.

I realize this can be changed by going though and modifying the entries in question using Word for Blogger. However, this was done so many times without my knowing its effect on RSS feed that it would take me ages to modify this blog for RSS in that manner. If anyone else has other suggestions, feel free to share them. In the meantime, welcome Alpha to the growing sidebar.

The conservative UN problem

Many modern so-called "conservatives" aren't really conservative at all, and a good many of them don't even realize it. Indeed, many liberals fail to realize that in many cases their hated opposition gets many of their deeply held ideas from-liberalism.

When people on the Left refer to "neocons," they are refering to a particular and peculiar political ideology that has its root on the left, not the right. The founders and patriarchs of the so-called neoconservative movement are a laundry list of the late 50's and 60's American Left. What is amazing is that many of the modern leaders of the movement, such as Irving Kristol and William Kristol admit that they are a movement born on the Left.

Yesterday, another blogger commented to me:

It is the corruption and impotence of the U.N. as presently constituted that true conservatives object to, not the basic idea of the institution itself.

That statement is believed by a great many modern so-called conservatives, but it is patently wrong.
True conservatives have objected to the very existence of the United Nations from day one, and were warning of its ability to be used by socialists to dominate world opinion on their behalf. A few readers might be interested to know that it was actually a Mormon writer (which surprised me), the late W. Cleon Skousen, who wrote the two best treatises I know of about just who and what was behind the UN (The Naked Communist and The Naked Capitalist are both out of print, but I am told they can be found on CD-ROM).

It is the intent of socialists to promote the United Nations as the only hope for mankind. If anyone who calls themselves conservative deigns to recognize the UN as legitimate in any way, they are aiding in the spreading of that dangerous mentality.

The problem with many so-called "neoconservatives" is that they want to be selective-they want to embrace the United Nations and the socialists who advocate that organization whenever the "Establishment" does something they like. You can't have it both ways when dealing with international socialists, it is an all-or-nothing proposition. That is something that many "neocons" fail to understand-if they can be called conservatives at all.

(Crossposted from Where I Stand)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ed Bryant's concession speech

Thank you. Thank you. Its so good to be with you tonight. Thank you for being here.

All throughout this campaign I've said that Our strength as a nation comes not just from having the strongest military or the biggest economy, but that our strength comes from the goodness of our people.

Tonight, I see that goodness all around me.

For the past 20 months, as my wife Cyndi and I have traveled across Tennessee from Bartlett to Bristol, Ive been blessed to see this with my own eyes.

Im proud to call Tennessee home. This is the home of my 99 year old mother, it's the place Cyndi and I raised our three sons, and it's the future I want to pass on to my two grandchildren.

Tonight, Cyndi is here with me. I want to thank her for standing beside me not just through every day of this campaign, but every day for the past 34 years. Thank you, Cyndi.

And with us are two of our sons, Josh and Drew and Drew's wife Kitty. Thank you.

But tonight really belongs to all of you. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for me. To my county chairmen . . . my supporters . . . my staff . . . the groups who have endorsed me . . . to the thousands of volunteers across Tennessee whove work long hours: You have carried this campaign with your support, your prayers, your hearts, and your votes. And together we've gone farther than anyone else ever said we would.

Thank you for standing up for me because our future depends on good men and good women who are willing to stand up for what they believe.

Too many of Americas problems are created in Washington because good men and women lack the will to do what they know is right.

We need to change that. We ALL must work together to change that.

Tonight, weve come to the end of what has surely been Tennessees longest campaign, and I want to congratulate Bob Corker on his victory. It has been a spirited campaign, but we needed that to make sure our Republican nominee is ready.

Throughout this long campaign, there was one point that Bob Corker and I ALWAYS agreed on - Tennessee can't afford to have Harold Ford Junior become our next U.S. Senator because his liberal record is out-of-step with Tennessee's values.

Thats not the type of Senator we need.

Our families deserve better.

And it is time that we all come back together as Republicans, as Tennesseans, and as Americans and chart the right course for our country.

Our work begins here. It begins tonight. And it continues long past the November election.

If you believe that Tennesseans deserve a U.S. Senator who understands that our strength as a nation comes not just from having the strongest military or the biggest economy, . . . but that our strength comes from the goodness of our people, . . . our faith in God . . . and in the liberties He has blessed us with and which our forefathers wisely protected in the Constitution, then lets make sure that we elect that person this November.

Bob Corker is going to need our help. And if there is one thing you have proven with your hard work, it is that there is no substitute for the dedication that each of you has shown.

Right now here in Nashville Harold Ford Junior is meeting with Bill Clinton, and theyre not talking about the good old days. Theyre plotting how to take over the United States Senate, and step one is letting Harold Ford Junior take Bill Frists desk and sit it beside Senator Hillary Clinton so he'll know how to vote.

Bob Corker is going to need our help.

I suspect that in a few minutes, hes going to ask for it. But I'm going to ask you first. We owe it to Tennessee and to the nation to work together.

Please join me in congratulating Bob Corker tonight on his victory.

We ran a good campaign. I am proud of you, and I cannot thank you enough. But the results are in.

Before Cyndi and I decided to run last year, we prayed. We felt called to this endeavor, and tonight I believe I know why.

Every day has been conducted with purpose. Every day has made me a better person. Every trial has brought me closer to Cyndi and to my family, and every relationship I have has been strengthened.

And that includes my relationship to you. It is a blessing I have been given, and it doesnt end tonight.

Tomorrow is a new day, and we all have work to do to elect our next U.S. Senator and to elect Jim Bryson our next governor.

Thank you, thank you for everything, and may God bless us all.

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