Monthly Archives: March 2010

Its Time for Media Reform: Part II


Apparently, it’s okay for the media to pay their sources, to buy news.  ABC news does it and so do others. 

 More proof of that came on Sunday when CNN’s Reliable Source Anchor Howard Kurtz asked one of his panelists about ABC paying $200,000 to the central figure in a news story for information and material that would make its news broadcasts more appealing and therefore more competitive.Lauren Ashburn of Ashburn Media responded that the high demand for ad revenues among news operations is moving the needle toward that kind of checkbook journalism.  The answer she said was to find ways to generate more ad revenue so the news operations would not be forced to buy and bribe their way to bigger ratings.

By that analysis, it is okay then for members of Congress to exchange campaign contributions for earmarks in legislation, because the pressure to raise so much money for their campaigns leaves them no other choice. No, actually, it is not okay.  It is against the law.  Checkbook journalism should be, too.

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An Anniversary Worth Noting Now


 (this article was first published on

          On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry rose in St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia and, aware of the risks inherent in undertaking a rebellion against the British crown, chose the principle upon which he would stand.  “Give me liberty,” he said, “or give me death.” 

          It was not a rhetorical flourish.  Rebellion was treason and the penalty for treason was precisely that: death.  Patrick Henry and his fellow rebels, Washington and Jefferson, the Adamses, Madison and Franklin, in declaring their independence from the British monarch, put everything — their reputations, their possessions, their very lives — on the line for the right to live as free men, governing themselves, no longer bound by distant and arbitrary rule.  Patrick Henry may have been a bit more of a firebrand than some, his speeches a counterpart to Thomas Paine’s writing, but he was merely putting into words the thoughts that ran through Nathan Hale’s head, and George Mason’s, and Benjamin Rush’s.

          Americans today are caught up in conflicts great and small — how much authority to give to government, how to square guaranteed rights with the imperatives of security, how much taxation is too much (even when imposed by one’s own representatives) — but in each case, these are decisions we make, collectively, as we see the need.

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Obama Can Reshape School Debate


For the Weekly Standard

President Obama missed a host of opportunities to remedy Washington’s fever of polarization during the health care debate. Instead of forging a bipartisan coalition and ratcheting back the campaign-style rhetoric, he agreed to a one-party strategy and consistently demonized his opponents with over the top rhetoric.

Mr. Obama also falsely raised citizens’ expectations that one bill or a new government program could remedy all that ails us. Government is no wonder drug.  It cannot deliver all the life altering promises on the president’s wish list.

But American politics can also produce second chances. The president may have an opportunity to generate a more realistic kind of change when it comes to education reform. Yet it’s unclear if he has the conviction or the political fortitude to do so.
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Driven to Distraction



For Ripon Society

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood deserves praise for focusing public attention on distracted driving.

The market today is flooded with electronic devices that can be used in motor vehicles and millions of motorists are using them with reckless abandon, putting themselves, their passengers and their fellow travelers in danger.

We’ve all seen these accidents waiting to happen.  A driver holding up traffic while he or she, with head down, finishes a text message, a car swerving into another lane of traffic while the driver reads an email, or a driver recklessly maneuvering through traffic with one hand on the wheel and the other performing that infamous one-handed dialing exercise. 

Secretary LaHood has seen the future of unsafe driving with even more use of cell phones, radios, iPods, GPS navigation devices, TV screens, back-up cameras and yet-invented electronic devices, all of which distract even the most agile drivers from watching the road.

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Media Reform: Its Time Must Come





part one

            Two rather bizarre diatribes by public figures recently broke through the health care coverage for a brief moment and focused much needed attention on the plight of the news media.

            The first was an emotional outburst by Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island against the media for not covering the House of Representatives debate on a resolution on the U.S. role in Afghanistan.  The second was a surprisingly vicious attack on Roger Ailes, president of the Fox News Network by Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times, which ran, oddly enough, on the editorial pages of the Washington Post.

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What Pelosi Will Do To Win

for The Hill

WASHINGTON — JMU News Service reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is considering a variety of different procedural and intimidation tactics in order to win passage of the president’s healthcare bill later this week. The tactics, according to well-informed sources, include hiring a voodoo specialist, jerry-rigging the voting machines on the Democratic side to give off an electric shock when the “nay” button is pushed and employing never-used parliamentary maneuvers, including one called the “olde three-card monte” and another being dubbed the “close enough for government work” rule.

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House and Senate, Venus and Mars

From CNN
When the Founding Fathers decided to create a bicameral legislative branch, they were trying to make things difficult for the federal government to grab power from the people.
What the Founding Fathers may not have foreseen was how much the House and the Senate would grow to dislike and distrust each other. Why is this important now? Democrats in the House may have to take the political risk of voting to pass the health care bill based on assurances from the Senate that the upper chamber will eventually modify the law to change some things House Democrats don’t want.

America’s Mid-Life Crisis


I have a theory.

America is going through its version of a mid-life crisis.

According to Wikipedia, the term midlife crisis was first coined “in 1965 by Elliott Jaques and used in Western societies to describe a period of dramatic self-doubt that is felt by some individuals in the “middle years” or middle age of life…The result may be a desire to make significant changes in core aspects of day-to-day life or situation.”

How do people who are going through a mid-life crisis show it?  The “acquisition of unusual or expensive items such as motorbikes, boats, clothing, sports cars, jewelry, gadgets, tattoos, piercings, etc.;  depression; blaming themselves or their partner for their failures;  paying special attention to physical appearance such as covering baldness, wearing “younger” designer clothes etc.;  entering relationships with younger people (either/or sexual, professional, parental, etc.)”

Here are some signs that the nation is going through the political equivalent of a mid-life crisis:

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Why Congress Is So Dysfunctional



            The Sunday talk shows again this week devoted a lot of attention to the dysfunction of Congress. In fact, it was the theme of Face the Nation, which featured two members of the Senate with a reputation for bipartisanship, Democrat Bayh of Indiana and Republican Graham of South Carolina.
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March Deadline Bad and Bogus



Most people looked at the president’s March 18 healthcare deadline and saw a totally unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky, Hail Mary pass from a guy who has set down several totally unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky, Hail Mary pass deadlines in the past. 

Remember when he wanted a healthcare law on his desk last August? Or when he wanted it done before Thanksgiving? Or Christmas?

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Simple Majority Not So Simple


Some years back when I served in the Congress I was told that for every complex, complicated problem there is a simple, easy answer. And invariably that answer is wrong.

Whenever I hear the President or Administration spokesmen talking about passing their health bill with a “simple up and down vote” or a “simple majority” I am reminded of what I was told years ago.
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