Archive for August 21st, 2006

My fifteen minutes

Okay, I’ve mentioned it a few times, dropped hints, and I owe you all an explanation. David Brancaccio’s “NOW” was in Missoula doing a story on Jon Tester and the blogs. For whatever reason, they chose to follow me around today while I went about blogging, and they did a two-hour interview with me. All for a fifteen-minute segment, in which I might get five minutes’ speaking time.

I won’t go into what we covered — let’s not steal the thunder from the show, which should be airing September 22 — but I believe I was being asked to put a face to, and speak on behalf of, all political blogs. I did the best I could and told it the way I see it, but I’m sure I left stuff out or misrepresented some (most?) of you out there. Nonetheless I did the best with what I had, and I hope everybody will enjoy the segment.

I will say it was a trifle embarrassing being followed everywhere by cameras, especially in Break Espresso. I can only imagine the disappointment the cafe clientele felt when the camera set up in the entrance, and then I walked in. And you think blogging is hard? Try researching and writing a post in under fifteen minutes with a camera in your face.

All in all, I have to say the producers/camerapersons from the show approached the issue with curiosity rather than prejudice. And I have to say I’m a little surprised something like this took so long in coming. I mean, you’ve got a major political movement brewing, and no one’s done a story on it yet? No one’s bothered to actually meet with and interview a real, live blogger?

I’ll keep you posted to the status of the show. NOW archives all of its segments, so I’ll definitely link to the show on this site once it airs.

There’s been a lot of fuss about Tester not filling out the Project Vote Smart survey. And I guess they’re pretty good reasons. Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent says it allows the opposition to define him, and the Great Falls Tribune article that generated the issue is dripping with contempt, as if Tester has betrayed some fundamental principle of democracy:

It is a disappointing performance in an age when voters are deluged with partisan propaganda that does little to inform them where candidates stand on issues of substance.

Equally disappointing was the rationale for nonparticipation offered by a Tester spokesman — the same hollow rationale legislative candidates cited two years ago: All answering the questionnaire does is provide opponents with fodder for attacking the candidate.

Pogie expands on the issue:

It’s a misguided rationale. The intellectual thugs in the Burns campaign (yeah, you Klindt) have been and will continue to try to define Tester–no matter what survey he fills or statements he makes. What’s more, not filling out the survey is going to lead to predictable attacks in the E-Brief and from Burns’ staffers.The more voters see about the positions that matter to Tester, the more likely they are to vote for him–because he is in touch with mainstream Montana values

I take issue with these reactions. Not because I think Montana should be denied the right to know where Tester, or any candidate stands on the issues, but that it’s up to Tester how, where, and why he defines the issues he’s running on.

Let me give you an example. Say I’m running for office. Touchstone the blogger versus whoever dares run against him. So I go over to the survey, and I open up the “Abortion Issues” page. Well, it gives me the following options:

a) Abortions should always be illegal.

b) Abortions should always be legal.

c) Abortions should be legal only in the first trimester of pregnancy.

d) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.

e) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered.

f) Prohibit public funding of abortions and to organizations and to organizations that advocate or perform abortions.

Gee, thanks. So where do I pencil in my belief that the issue is really irrelevant, that it’s been pounded on us for decades and that we can actually work together with people who are fundamentally opposed to us on the issue to reduce abortions? Where do I say affordable health care and day care will significantly reduce the number of abortions, and the issue is fundamentally a health issue, not a moral one?

Every issue is given equal weight, as if the candidate stands by each positions with equal fervor. If elected, Touchstone the candidate’s first priority would be affordable health care, period. Crime issues would be low on my list. And how does this survey reflect the reality of governing? How often does a crucial or watershed vote come up that addresses any one of these issues? And what if a candidate, say, feels one way towards an issue, but is willing to compromise somewhat on the position? There’s no “strength of feeling” metric here.

McKenna is ultimately correct when he says these issues will become campaign fodder rather than a useful guide for the candidate. (He said it rather bluntly, though. Whither the poetry in politics?) Touchstone’s theorectical opponent, for example, could point to his stance on abortion and call him a “godless heathen,” when in fact he’s concerned about poverty and health issues.

Let the candidates speak. Burns has been trying like h*ll to make this a “checklist” race – gay marriage, flag burning, taxes. Let’s make the candidates speak.

(PS – NOW is filming as I write this. Talk about writing under pressure.)

Links…

A brilliant post on Mahablog about the perils of racial profiling.

Pogie comments on Gwen Florio’s piece on the Montana Senate campaign and the blogs, and notes that the GOP’s officially endorsed website is rife with racism.

David Crisp and Pogie both think Tester should filled out the Project Vote Smart survey. I’m not sure I agree…and I’ll probably blog about this later.

Bush has no plan for Iraq. Matt Singer analyzes the GOP “approach” to the war in the context of the Senate race.

Bush administration pressure on UK officials to publicize the bomb plot may jeopardize the case. So much for national security. (Plus it might not be possible to create liquid explosive on a plane. We looking at another “Miami Seven” here?)

Tony Blair getting tired of the Bush administration?

Some of the people the media are ignoring thanks to the JonBenet murder case.

Meanwhile another group of neocons dreams of the good ol’ days of WWII.

So not only does the Bush administration and the GOP love giving tax breaks to the wealthy, they’ve even given them openings to cheat on their taxes.

Kevin Drum sees unionization as the answer to the growing inequality of income in the country. Discuss.

Joe Leydon reviews Spike Lee’s HBO documentary on Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. Sounds fantastic…

Speaking of New Orleans, how’s that reconstruction going?

Although I don’t fully trust Rasmussen…it appears the “macaca” comment by Sen. George Allen has hit him in the latest poll…Webb has shrunk the lead to 5 percentage points.

Red state Republicans jumping ship. Welcome aboard.

I’ve been dreading the arrival of white supremacist(s). They generally hang out over at Eric Coobs’ “What’s Right in Montana,” probably because that’s where they feel comfortable, and because Coobs doesn’t moderate. He just lets ‘em go.

Late last night and over the weekend, I had a couple (one?) post on my thoughts on racial profiling. They like racial profiling. They love racial profiling. Commenter “Martin L“:

The solution is to get rid of all airport security and establish raghead-only flights. The entire crew and passengers would be all ragheads….Each raghead-only aircraft would be divided in half, so the men could sit in front and the women could sit in back. Additionally, each raghead-only aircraft would be wired with high explosives that could be remotely detonated by any air traffic control facility if the flight wandered off course, just in case the ragheads decided to hijack their own aircraft and fly it into some building.Of course, the airlines would have to charge the ragheads a little more for a ticket to make up for the lost profits from in-flight movies and liquor sales, but that would not be discriminatory.

Under this proposal, no security would be necessary for anybody—no baggage checks, no metal detectors, no profiling—nothing. America could save a fortune, and everybody would be much happier flying with people who looked and smelled right and spoke some intelligible language.

Sometimes the Internet can be refreshing, because it allows people to post anonymously and speak their true feelings. This opinion shows why people support racial profiling: racism. It’s that simple. The Missoulian can make claims about ethnicity and religion and where terrorists live – forgetting, for example, white supremacist terrorists – but the bottom line is that their call for racial profiling is based on hate and fear. And racism.

If I were a subscriber to this piece of trash, I’d cancel. In fact, maybe we should start a subscription cancellation drive. What do you think?

By the way, from now on whenever I get a comment like Martin L’s, I’m going to delete it. I encourage the use of my blog as a forum of ideas, but there are some things I won’t display on my blog, and white supremacist rhetoric is one.

I’m glad to see that neo-Nazis disagree with me. Too bad the Missoulian can’t say the same.




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