Archive for June 20th, 2008

by Pete Talbot

It’s a gorgeous sunset to the west from the Holiday Garden Inn parking lot. I’ve donned another clean oxford shirt and I’m back at the Montana Republican state convention, as promised.

Just in time for keynote speaker Ron Paul. I’ve heard his rap before in Missoula and the crowd at UM was more enthusiastic than here.

Paul’s speech ran long, too long for this crowd. He had about 25% of the audience in the palm of his hand but the rest of the rank-and-file wanted the rah-rah, go Montana Republican message.

Paul presented the same subject: freedom, freedom, freedom. It’s hard to go wrong with that message but I saw eyes gloss over at the Federal Reserve, World Bank, IMF, UN portion of Paul’s speech. The guy can talk but I don’t think this was the message that most in the Montana GOP came to hear.

(Just got a cute beverage coozie from a Denny Rehberg staffer. It’s shaped like a cowboy boot and says “Boot PAC.” I’ll have to check that one out.)

I can’t find senate candidate Bob Kelleher anywhere and haven’t seen former Senator Conrad Burns either, although I heard he was auctioning off some cool Republican booty at a fundraiser.

It was just announced to me, in a bitter voice, that the delegate slate advanced by the executive nominating committee was accepted. I’m not sure what that means but since this info came from a Ron Paul supporter, I’m guessing there won’t be a lot of Ron Paul delegates from Montana going to the national convention in St. Paul.

There are Republican youths working the tables and some of the seniors are making their way back to their rooms. A convention is a convention and as much as it pains me to write this, go to Carol’s Missoulapolis for the blow-by-blow. She has better typing skills, understands the Republican mindset better than I ever will and is about as close to gonzo Republican blogging as you’ll ever see.

by Pete Talbot

Over at Dark Acres, writer Bill Vaughn takes 4&20 to task on a few different subjects — some of them valid and some of them not.

First, though, I admire Vaughn’s take-no-prisoners writing style, and his oft times dark and twisted posts. It’s a different format over there. There are no other contributors and he allows no comments. It’s pure Vaughn.

I should also mention that he and I share a common goal: our desire to boot Bill Nooney (GOP, HD 100) from the Montana Legislature. We’ve exchanged information and insights into Nooney’s race, which is probably why Vaughn ended up cruising the 4&20 site.

But here’s Vaughn’s first criticism: the anonymous handles used by those who post and comment on various blogs. Some folks have to remain anonymous. I don’t because, like Vaughn, I’m self-employed. Nobody is going to fire my ass for the pithy prose I use when attacking misguided people or policy.

But there are some out there with real jobs who share facts and offer opinions that would get them fired (sort of like whistle blowers within government or big corporations). I believe it is more important to hear from these folks on their subjects than to know their true identities.

Bloggers aren’t reporters in the traditional sense, Mr. Vaughn, and anyone visiting a website should be aware that different standards apply to the blogs than to, say, the New York Times. I like to think that people know the difference.

Let’s take the Dark Acres site for example. Though not a political blog, per se, it does touch on political issues from time-to-time. However, you probably won’t find the headline “Circle Jerk” (used in the 4&20 critique) in the Washington Post. Again, viva la difference.

I will grant you this, Mr. Vaughn, there are some folks who stay anonymous because their writing is so vitriolic and obtuse that they don’t dare expose themselves. These folks are scum-sucking dogs but there isn’t a lot that one can do about them except ban them from a site; and unless they’re racist, obscene or libelous, I tend to let them stay.

Which brings up another criticism from the Dark Acres author. What’s libelous and what isn’t, and how do you sue someone who goes by the name of, for example, Ayn Rand? Damn good question. From Dark Acres:

“I wonder: If one of these anonyms libeled one of the others could anyone be sued? If a tree fell in the forest . . . ? Probably not. Who’s the victim? What’s the damage?

However, if one of them libeled me, for example, I’d immediately file suit against Jay Stevens, who’s apparently a real person claiming to be the “founder” of the site.

If I were Mr. Stevens I’d rethink my ideas about anonymous posts.”

Please don’t sue Jay. What we try to do here at 4&20 is apply the same standards of libel that the daily rags use:

Public figures like Tiger Woods or Conrad Burns or Angelina Jolie don’t have the same protection as John and Jane Citizen. These celebrities and politicians have chosen careers that put them in the public eye, for better or worse, and shy of unfounded charges of pedophilia or bestiality, we’ll run posts and comments about them.

For the average citizen, though, we try to keep references like deadbeat, addict, criminal, pimp and whore from appearing on these pages.

The fact that people offer their opinions on blogs also allows for some rebuttal, just like letters to the editor, and it can be hard to ascertain what’s a civil and appropriate response.

Of course truth is the ultimate defense in a libel case but I, and the other contributors to 4&20, would prefer to stay out of the court system. We’ll even moderate nasty comments directed at anonymous writers if we think they’re libelous, just to play it safe.

Finally, Vaughn asserts:

“ … no one at these blogs apparently does any actual reporting.”

I beg to differ. Often, for the benefit of our readers, we publish stories not found in the mainstream media and ask for comments. But I’ve also seen a number of breaking stories here at 4&20 and on other Montana blogs. For example, jhwygirl will watch committee meetings on MCAT and glean important stories from the proceedings. You can bet there aren’t any local reporters at these events. I’ve seen political, environmental and human interest stories on the blogs that never appear on local TV, radio or print.

This is grassroots, Mr. Vaughn, and it comes with some leafy spurge and Dalmation Toadflax. Cut us some slack but stay in touch.

by jhwygirl

I marked my calendar a little over a week ago for Scott McClellan’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which will be looking into the leak which exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Valerie Plame was undercover investigating the trafficking of yellowcake uranium in Niger, and trying to keep the stuff out of Iraq. Her name was leaked out of the Whitehouse, and Scooter Libby was subsequently found guilty of obstruction of justice, for failing to reveal the source of the leak. Libby’s sentence was quickly commuted by President George W. Bush.

Shows the Whitehouse’s commitment to national security, huh?

Hearing begins at 8am (MST), and C-Span radio will be streaming. Go to C-Span for specifics.

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