Finding the soul of the new Republican party

The Grand Olde Party got its head handed to it last night. Any other interpretations are deluded, foolish, or otherwise stupid.
So, the obvious course of action is for the GOP to spend a few days — oh, a week at most — performing a perfunctory survey of the warm bodies closest to their leadership seats, and immediately anoint one of them to be the new face of the Republican Party. That’s the great thing about leadership elections, you know — no need to actually consult anyone resembling the actual rank-and-file of the Party. No need to actually consult the people who give the money, who work the campaigns, who actually, ‘ya know, cast the votes to keep a party in power. Or — who don’t.
Wrong. Very wrong. Amazingly, stupendously, staggeringly and absurdly wrong.
The reality of November 8, 2006 is that the Republican party no longer has control of the agenda in Congress. And yes, that includes the Senate — class=”textlink”>it’s over. The GOP doesn’t get to decide what bills will come to the floor. The GOP won’t control committees; it won’t control legislation. There is one, and only one, major decision that the Republicans have to make right now to influence how the next two years go — and that is who the party will choose to be their leaders.
This is a huge decision, and it is not one that should be rushed. Historically, however, it is a decision that has been taken behind closed doors, made by the Congressional members themselves without any whiff of input from the actual rank-and-file of their Party.
This past January, however, that changed. In the last House leadership election, the process opened up — just a little bit — when bloggers interviewed all three candidates for the GOP Majority Leader post in the House. The audio and transcripts of those interviews can be found here (please pardon the old TTLB template, and enjoy the ‘classic’ page header).
And now, the GOP faces a new leadership election. In the House, and almost certainly, in the Senate as well.
As Hugh Hewitt noted today, bloggers are now organizing in the hope that we can have a voice in this new fight. We want the potential candidates to step up to the plate and answer questions from the people that they will be, in the truest sense of the word, representing.
I don’t claim to speak for right-leaning bloggers as a whole; I speak only for myself. But if you ask me, the imperative right now for the GOP is clear: to slow the heck down, and to take the time necessary to consult with the true grassroots of the party to find the absolute best leadership team possible that will lead the GOP back into majority in 2008.
If you’re a blogger — or even if you’re not — and you want a voice in the leadership elections, add a comment here, or drop me an email directly.
The election is over. The fight for the heart of the Republican party is just beginning…
UPDATE: I’ve set up a page to solicit questions to be asked of the potential leadership candidates. If you want to make your voice heard, click over here and submit the questions you want to have answered!

Gates as SecDef: Whither Iran?

Listening to class=”textlink”>Hugh‘s discussion with Christopher Hitchens today (audio sure to be here shortly), Hitch brought up the fact that Robert Gates was a key architect of a paper with President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski which advocated (in Hitch’s words) “making nice with the mullahs”.
Being a primary-source kinda guy, I went looking for the paper online, and sure enough, here it is. From the executive summary:
Rejecting the conventional wisdom that Iran is on the verge of another revolution, the report calls for the United States to reassess its long-standing policy of non-engagement with the current Iranian government…
Hmmm. Sounds suspiciously like making nice to me. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I suggest we all should do so…

On Kerry

Why are class=”textlink”>some folks being so sensitive about Kerry’s remarks — and why are they right to be so?
The key phrase we’re looking for here is “never again”. If people like Kerry — and indeed Kerry himself — had not been responsible for destroying the morale and reputation of the American military after Vietnam, we wouldn’t have to be sensitive to jokes like his failed one. But they did, and we do, because we absolutely cannot allow what happened to the soldiers of that era to begin happening to those of ours.
And the source here matters. If John McCain had made Kerry’s remarks, we’d be astounded, but McCain’s history would argue in his favor and we’d grant him the benefit of the doubt. But Kerry’s history does the opposite: his past exploits and efforts to drag the reputation of American soldiers through the mud are absolutely relevant and mean he doesn’t get to pretend that nobody could ever think he’d say something denigrating about the military. If you’ve never been known to raise your hand in anger towards a woman, you can crack a joke about beating your wife and get away with it (even if you shouldn’t). But if you’ve got a history of beating your wife, you don’t get to make jokes about beating your wife without bringing the full weight of society’s suspicion and opprobrium down on you.
Just as the “rough men” (and women) of our armed forces stand on the wall to protect our safety, ready to do (physical) violence on our behalf, people like Hugh, and Glenn, and Michelle, and yes, me, must stand on the wall of words and be ready to do literary and verbal violence on their behalf. It is a far less hazardous duty, but nonetheless a necessary one. And it is the least we can do.
To do something more, however, remember Project Valour-IT’s fundraiser: and give as much as you can to help them provide voice-activated laptops to soldiers whose injuries prevent them from full use of their hands:

Tracking the Crisis: Open News Aggregation

After a whole day of testing, the Middle East conflict tracking page has gotten yet another overall. The ‘page’ is now an entire section, consisting of:
class=”textlink”>The Blogs View : the original page aggregating blog posts
The Map View: the map view showing local blogs and recent news events
The News View: a summary page showing all recent news events with the option for readers to rate them
The main enhancements today have been around the ‘News’ capability. The system is now open wide so that anyone can submit a news item they have found on the conflict. The item will then be placed on the unapproved items page, where other readers can rate it. Those items that achive a sufficiently positive response will then automatically migrate onto the main news page and the map page.
I’m currently working out additional methods of categorizing and presenting news items — particularly in visual form on the map — but for now, you’ll see that there are several categories from which to select when submitting an item.
My hope is that with this system, and a sufficiently interested community of bloggers and blog readers focusing on it, we can create a single location which sums up the very best reporting, analysis, and breaking news from both the traditional media and the bloggers on the ground. I invite everyone to join me in this effort, and as always, suggestions are welcome.


International Talk Like Apu Day!

Given the date, and in honor of class=”textlink”>Joe Biden*, I declare that today, everyone must talk like Apu.
Consider it an Indian version of Talk-Like-A-Pirate-Day.
Now, to the Kwik-E-Mart I must go!

* “”You CANNOT go to a 7-11 … unless you have a slight Indian accent … I’m not joking.” — Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)

Update: Obviously, with the events of today in Mumbai, this turns out to be a bad day to make a joke that some might interpret (incorrectly) as being at Indian expense (hopefully it was obvious that my target was Mr. Biden). For the record, however: my thoughts and hopes go out to all those affected by today’s bombings…

Fight DDOS with DGOS?

Glenn class=”textlink”>reports that Jeff Goldstein is suffering another DDOS attack, limiting access to the Protein Wisdom we all crave.
I agree with the Instafellow: this is indeed getting out of hand.
So I have a thought. It seems that what we bloggers need is a way to combat a Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS) attack which leverages the same principals as the attack itself — most particularly, the Distributed part. Call it a Distributed Guarantee Of Service.
The challenge is this: how could we establish a system so that a blogger suffering a DDOS attack (or simple system downtime, even) could be guaranteed a way to post during their outage.
The key part would be setting up a way for member blogs to ‘host’ a downed blogger’s posts. It seems to me that there are two categories of bloggers that matter here: those that are on limited / controlled hosts such as Blogspot (who therefore can’t run server-side scripts, but can generally include Javascript code) and those who have full hosts (who can run PHP or other server-side scripts).
So what I’m picturing is a PHP script that would provide the actual ‘hosting’ which would run on the full hosts, and actually act as a temporary guest home for a downed blogger. And then perhaps a Javascript applet for the limited hosts which could at least serve as a notifying beacon that there is a blogger in ‘down’ status, and link a reader to the full hosts to actually see that blogger’s posts.
There’s lots of design details to be done here. How could the blogger post? E-mail, or via a simple web-form hosted by the full members? How can the post, once entered on one full member’s site, be replicated automatically to all other members? (That’s the magic: it has to be replicated so that the DDOS attacker can’t just re-target a single backup site).
I’ll noodle on this more and post further thoughts, but I’d like to open the discussion and get some other smart minds working on this problem. Comments are open — let’s get to work!
Update: OK, we’ve got some good discussion rolling in the comments. So here’s the deal: I’ve got ideas, and I can contribute support & a bit of thought bandwidth to this effort. But there’s no way I can be the primary driver of this, what with everything else I’ve piled on my plate. So we need some volunteers who do have some bandwidth to form a working group to further flesh out this problem and potential solutions, and then go ahead and actually do it.
So: if you’re interested in being part of such an effort, speak up in the comments, and/or e-mail me directly. If necessary, I can set up a Wiki or a mailing list to facilitate the discussion — but if someone else can do that, go ahead and do it! I won’t be offended.
With that said, a few more ideas on the substance of the problem:
I believe our goal is not strictly “fault tolerance” for a given blog or set of blogs. I think accomplishing that is impractical, and would involve some kind of mirroring solution that would be overkill for what we’re trying to accomplish. In my mind, our goal should be to ensure that when a blogger’s site is down:

  • a) They have a place to post new blog posts
  • b) There is an established system so that their readers can find those new blog posts
  • c) The new posts are hosted in a distibuted manner so that they are mirrored on many different sites and are therefore protected from a secondary DDOS attack.

Note that what this essentially means is that we wouldn’t be constantly mirroring every participating blog’s site — we’d simply be mirroring new posts by a downed blogger once the system is activated. This strikes me as a simpler, and more realistic approach, although I’m open to thoughts about some crude level of mirroring for recent, pre-DDOS attack posts. Terry proposed using RSS feeds below, which is a good first thought, but I can say from my experience with TTLB that the main problem there is many bloggers don’t include full content in their RSS feeds. I suspect a better solution might be brute force: just have a way to copy the full HTML of each blog’s front page to a distributed archive. The cleverest way would be to somehow have each blog copied to a small number of mirror-blogs (let’s say 10) — if we have a solution spanning hundreds or thousands of blogs, it obviously doesn’t make sense to have every blog mirrored at every other blog’s site.
Finally, I’d suggest that we approach this problem in several phases:

  • Phase 1: Quick, Dirty, and Manual: With only a little bit of coordination, we could set up a mostly-manual system virtually immediately which would allow a downed blogger to have a place to go. This could be as simple as identifying several volunteers with MovableType or other full-hosted blogs who are willing to create a special “DGOS blog” within their installlation that, in the event of an attack, a downed blogger would be given access to for posting. I’m sure there are other ways to approach the problem manually too — let’s start there!
  • Phase 2: Automated and Distributed: With a manual solution in place, we can focus on implementing the whiz-bang approaches I’ve started outlining above, or alternatives.
  • Phase 3: Nirvana: With any complex implementation, I find that the first release is never really the full solution you wanted. We’ll probably find that we’ve got a medium-term Phase 2 solution that will work, but isn’t perfect, and a long-term Phase 3 solution that is really everything we want it to be.

OK, that’s enough from me for now. Like I said, please speak up if you’re willing to join a working group and get cracking on this, and even if you are not, please spread the word on this idea. Thanks!
Update 7/11: I’m pleased to report that Tim at Aardvark Salad has joined the effort, and his initial thoughts on the problem can be found here. Tim has requested a SourceForge project site for the effort, which should hopefully be available later today. More to come…

two percent solution?

class=”textlink”>Glenn points out a fellow who notes the potential of solar energy:
“If 2 percent of the continental United States were covered with photovoltaic systems with a net efficiency of 10 percent, we would be able to supply all the U.S. energy needs,” said Bulovic, the KDD Associate Professor of Communications and Technology in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Um, ok. Glenn notes “Two percent is a LOT of land”, but that’s understating the case a bit I think.
Let’s do some math! (I was told there would be no math. Shhh!)
According to this page, the total land area of the U.S. is 3,537,379 square miles. Take away Alaska and Hawaii to get the continental U.S., and you are left with 2,959,005 square miles. Two percent of that is…
Fifty-nine thousand, one hundred and eighty square miles. That’s 59,180.
For perspective: Over half of the fifty states are smaller in area than 59,180 square miles. The closest in size to that number are Iowa (55,869), Michigan (56,804), and Georgia (57,906).
So: who’s for paving over Georgia?
Because unless I’m missing something, that is what we’re talking about: literally paving over that much area, and I have to assume utterly destroying any flora, fauna, or other living things that are unlucky enough to have been previously occupying it. Unless they happen to, you know, not require sunlight.
Now that would be one hell of an Environmental Impact Study.
Professor Bulovic seems to have thrown out this statistic as a positive for solar energy, but he’s obviously never negotiated with a local zoning board. If that’s the best future we can hope for with solar as our primary energy source, I suspect even the most strident environmentalists will cry out, “Bring on the coal!”

Continue reading “two percent solution?”

fear the Kos

class=”textlink”>Markos Moulitsas:
“TNR and its enablers are feeling the heat of their own irrelevance and this is how they fight it — by undermining the progressive movement. Zengerle has made common cause with the wingnutosphere, using the laughable “kosola” frame they created and emailing his “scoops” to them for links. This is what the once-proud New Republic has evolved into — just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy.”
With such a declaration of war from Markos hanging Damocles-like above their heads, Zengerle and his New Republic colleagues must long for the days when centrist democrats could count on support from powerful institutions like the Democratic Leadership Council in holding back the righteous anger of raging far-left Kossack hordes.
But as we all know, the DLC is but a memory, having been rendered radioactive by Kos in September 2005.
On that fateful day, no DLC calls for truce were brooked, and appeals to party unity fell on deaf ears. When it was over, the formerly glorious DLC was but a smoking ruin, its leadership having fled into hiding under assumed names to live out the rest of their pathetic existences with heads hung in shame from the ignominious defeat visited upon them by the Power of Kos.
In a TTLB exclusive, I managed to locate one such leader, Hillary C, who agreed to speak with me under condition that I not reveal her location (especially to her estranged husband, who was famously spared by Kos after he pledged fealty to the One True Progressive Cause). I can say that she now resides in a small Midwestern city, earning a humble living as a Traffic Enforcement Officer (meter maid) , having been previously dismissed from her position as a Wal-Mart greeter for being “tempermentally unsuited” to the role.
“My advice to Jason Zengerle is: don’t let what happened to me happen to you!” she warned. “I had my chance. They told me withdrawing troops was the way to victory in Iraq, but I didn’t listen! I could have been President, if it wasn’t for those meddling Kos kids!”
At this point, Ms. C became agitated and delusional, ranting on about her Presidential aspirations, and I was forced to terminate the interview. Such a sad thing to see: one can only hope that the Mighty Kos will find mercy in his heart to spare Zengerle and The New Republic a similarly horrible fate…

More on the Power of Kos from across the blogosphere…

Did Time Magazine prompt the Haditha investigation?

When I got this morning’s press release on the latest issue of Time Magazine, class=”textlink”> the following line stuck out:
“The details of what happened in Haditha were first disclosed by TIME’s Tim McGirk and Aparisim Ghosh, and their reporting prompted the military to launch an inquiry into the civilian deaths. ”
…because I remembered Captain Ed pointing to a story that said that in fact, the military had already begun their own investigation by then. Ed referred to a NYT piece that said:
A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.
Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines’ story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.
The investigation, which was led by Col. Gregory Watt, an Army officer in Baghdad, also raised questions about whether the marines followed established rules for identifying hostile threats when they assaulted houses near the site of a bomb attack, which killed a fellow marine.
The three-week inquiry was the first official investigation into an episode that was first uncovered by Time magazine in January and that American military officials now say appears to have been an unprovoked attack by the marines that killed 24 Iraqi civilians. The results of Colonel Watt’s investigation, which began on Feb. 14, have not previously been disclosed.

The NYT piece seemed to indicate that that, contrary to Time’s self-congratulations, military officials were in fact aware of irregularities in the incident, and started an investigation independently without prompting from Time.
But details in Time’s story today seem to shed more light:
In early February, [Time reporter Tim] McGirk presented this evidence to, and asked for comment from, Lieut. Colonel Barry Johnson, U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. Johnson viewed the VCD, listened to the accounts and responded straightforwardly, “I think there’s enough here for a full and formal investigation.” Army Colonel Gregory Watt was dispatched to Haditha to conduct a three-week probe in which he interviewed Marines, survivors and doctors at the morgue.
So according to Time, the investigation conducted by Colonel Watt that is the centerpeice of the NYT story was, in fact, prompted by Time’s reporting.
My initial reaction, before reading Time’s story in detail, was that Time was unfairly making itself the center of the story. The truth — if we take Time’s latest account at face value — would seem more banal. The Times was almost certainly aware of the fact that Watt’s investigation was prompted by Time’s reporting. But the Times is famous for slighting other news outlets by failing to credit them for scoops — which appears to be exactly what happened in this case. For while the Times story does mention that the incident “was first uncovered by Time magazine in January”, it fails to make clear the crucial link that it was in fact (according to Time) that very reporting that initiated Watt’s investigation in the first place.
This is unfortunately not good news, as it was reassuring to hear that the military was on the case of this incident prior to the media frenzy caused by Time, Representative Murtha, and others. But as we nagivate through the unfolding of this incident, those of us who, like myself, want the Marines involved to receive a fair and impartial hearing must avoid the temptation to bend over too far backwards. The facts are what they are, and we need to follow them wherever they lead.
More from around the blogosphere on Haditha

ttlb accepting new community requests

As part of the new release, I’ve made sure that TTLB’s infrastructure is ready to handle an influx of new blog class=”textlink”>Communities — and as a result, I’m now accepting requests for new ones.
Communities are simply groups of blogs related by common interests, beliefs, or other characteristics, so if you and fellow bloggers would like to start one, and get your own Community page at TTLB, sign up using the form above and I’ll get you set up. We’ve already had quite a few new requests come in from the backlog, and I’ll be posting further today to highlight the new arrivals…

it’s all in the mix

Where’s class=”textlink”>Wilford Brimley* when you need him?
So ABC runs a story that says Dennis Hastert is “in the mix” in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress.
Do they provide context of what being “in the mix” might mean, as opposed to, hypothetically, being “under investigation”?
They do not.
But now, after a rather flat denial from the Justice department (“Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.”), ABC is standing by its story — sort of:
Despite a flat denial from the Department of Justice, federal law enforcement sources tonight said ABC News accurately reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is “in the mix” in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress….ABC’s law enforcement sources said the Justice Department denial was meant only to deny that Hastert was a formal “target” or “subject” of the investigation.
One of ABC’s rather helpful sources goes even further, complimenting ABC for their careful wording:
“You guys wrote the story very carefully but they are not reading it very carefully,” a senior official said.
Well, they say if you can make one person happy, then you’ve accomplished something.
So here’s a few questions for our intrepid colleagues at ABC:
1) Why didn’t ABC provide any explanation or context in the original story for the rather bizarre phrasing “in the mix” ? Did they ask their source if Hastert was an actual target or subject of an investigation? If yes, what did the source say? If no, why the heck not?
2) At least two (ABC specifes sources, plural) officials are leaking** like a sieve on this story. Why? In ABC’s opinion, what is their motivation? Disclosing details of an investigation in progress is a bit of a big deal, last I checked. So why are these sources doing it? And why wasn’t some explanation of ABC’s perspective on their motivations included in the story?
3) It would be nice if ABC could help me understand the following:
Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff’s information.
“You guys wrote the story very carefully but they are not reading it very carefully,” a senior official said.
One focus involves a letter Hastert wrote in 2003 urging the Secretary of the Interior to block an Indian casino that would have competed with tribes represented by Abramoff.

Emphasis mine. So help me out here: your sources “would not divulge details”, but two paragraphs later, you’re specifying the exact area of focus that is zeroing in on Hastert. Sounds pretty detailed to me. So while we’re doing details, what about this question: “a number of other members” could mean one. It could mean 434. Which is it? Or at least, which one is it closer to? What did your source say when you asked them? And why isn’t that answer worth publishing? (It’s the Internet: the bits are cheap).
In conclusion: yes, I know you want to play Woodward in the garage with your source(s), keeping them all mysterious and such (it’s fun!), and sparing the ignorant masses the details of the messy sausage-making that goes into producing a news story. But with a piece like this, the way you got the information is just as important as the information itself — sometimes more. A good blogger would never have run this story without some context on how and, in their judgment, why they got the information — and a good professional journalist shouldn’t have either.
Update: Oh, it gets better and better! Hugh Hewitt points out something I missed: that it would appear that ABC News has changed the text of the story currently on their web site since its original publication!
So here’s the first paragraphs as they appear right now (8:41pm PDT):
Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.
Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

But Hugh indicates that “Hastert’s office” provided a different version. Which reminded me that I received the story, in email, from a Republican Senator’s office at 3:49pm. Here’s the first paragraphs of that version:
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level government sources.
Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.”

Pretty important difference! So I’ll add #4 to my list of questions: is it the policy of ABC news to make substantive changes to high-profile news stories without acknowledging them as corrections?
Update Again: I went looking for a cached version of the original ABC News story, with no luck. But I got the next best thing, just in case anyone’s feeling conspiracy minded and doesn’t believe that ABC actually ran with the stronger-worded version.
Check out this screen capture of Memeorandum from just a few moments ago:

Continue reading “it’s all in the mix”

White House “reaches out to the base”…

…and thwacks it over the head with a two-by-four. Just got the following in my Inbox from the White House Communications folks:
Setting The Record Straight: Heritage Foundation Report Overestimates Legal Immigration Increase Under Senate Immigration Bill
A Heritage Foundation Report Claims The Hagel-Martinez Senate Immigration Bill (S. 2611) Would Lead To An Additional 84 Million New Legal Immigrants Over 20 Years. (Robert Rector, “Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants Over the Next Twenty Years,” Heritage Foundation, 5/15/06)
But A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Analysis Of The Hagel-Martinez Bill Found It Would Increase The U.S. Population By 8 Million People Over The First 10 Years – A Fraction Of The Heritage Report’s Claim.

The email, about a page long, goes right into a series of bullet points that address and reject many of Heritage’s claims. (Full text is included at the bottom of this post in the extended entry).
Now, I don’t have a dog in this fight — I frankly have no clue whether Heritage or the White House has the better set of facts here. But it strikes me that there is some feedback to be given to the White House on their communication style, and it is a particularly relevant moment to deliver it with with Tony Snow coming into play class=”textlink”>and making some rather encouraging noises about engaging with the blogosphere.
Recognizing that the White House is not a blog, I think it can be informative to read their email as if it were a blog post, and judge it by the same standards we would apply to a blogger’s work. And by those standards, it falls rather short.
First, a key rule I try to apply in blogging is “don’t be a jerk.” In the way it presented this email, the White House was, frankly, being a jerk: the email seems to give Heritage no credit at all for their efforts; there’s nothing along the lines of “we appreciate Heritage’s focus on this critical issue but differ with their conclusions”; not even a nod of acknowledgement that Heritage does some mighty fine work in general and oh, by the way, represents a core constituency that the administration is trying not to piss off too mightily at the moment. Now, my rule does have a qualifier, which is, “unless it serves my purposes to be a jerk.” But I just don’t see much purpose or upside for the White House in being jerk-y towards a conservative group like Heritage.
Second, if you’re going to write a blog post White House email which advances a set of arguments contradicting the facts and conclusions of a report like Heritage’s, you darned well better include some links to your sources in it. The White House email included a total of four hyperlinks: all of which simply point at the Heritage report. The email mentions a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis — with no link. It mentions a National Research Council analysis — with no link. Why not? Show your sources, and the credibility of your argument is immediately enhanced — not to mention giving the reader the opportunity to actually check them and form their own judgment.
Lastly, a point of style, which perhaps might be a bit unfair (and might also fall under the jerkyness critique in point one above). The White House email presents itself as fact, unassailable and unquestionable: “Heritage Foundation Report Overestimates Legal Immigration”. Is the truth in this matter really that black and white? Heritage is simply 100%, utterly wrong, with no possibility of any honest debate or differing interpretations? What would be lost by presenting these same points of argument in a less commanding, confrontational style?
On some issues, the White House’s “Setting the Record Straight” emails should rightfully declare genuinely incorrect statements of fact as exactly that. But on a subject like this — prediciting the future impact of a Senate bill that has yet to even be passed — it seems to me that nobody can possibly know with certainty where “straight” is, or whether the record is indeed properly aligned to it or not. In these cases, a tone of engagement; of constructive disagreement, and of conversation with Heritage — and the bloggers to which this email was sent — would seem to be a far more appropriate, and productive approach.
All of this is even more important given Heritage’s positioning squarely within the conservative base. But the lessons apply regardless of the source which the White House seeks to correct. Advance the argument; but do so with respect for those you are disagreeing with, and for your reader (links!).
And try not to be a jerk…

Continue reading “White House “reaches out to the base”…”

special coverage: President Bush’s immigration speech

I’ll be providing special coverage tonight for President Bush’s immigration speech with a dedicated tracking page showing all the bloggers who are liveblogging or reacting to the speech.
The page is here, and includes a quick form for bloggers to sign up and let me know that you’ll be covering the event.
Be sure to also tune in to Hugh Hewitt’s show tonight, as he’ll be doing an extended edition to cover the speech, and I’ll be helping him out in covering blogosphere reactions.

ttlb and

I’m pleased to announce that TTLB is now partnering with to bring the very latest & greatest blog carnivals to the TTLB ÜberCarnival page.
The BlogCarnival team has done a great job in providing a spiffy interface to allow hosts to administer their carnivals, as well as allowing bloggers to submit their posts directly to specific carnivals. Leveraging the functionality they’ve created makes sense for TTLB, and I’m looking forward to exploring additional synergies between and TTLB going forward.
Thanks to Brad and Steve at for their work on this effort, and I hope everyone will all make a habit of visiting both the ÜberCarnival page and itself…
Update: More at

ttlb accounts: manage your own blogs!

Big news for those of you focused on your Ecosystem stats: as of right now, you can create your own personal TTLB user account, which will let you claim your blog and directly edit the URLs associated with it. No more waiting for me to get around to support requests: just log in, change whatever needs changing, and you’ll be good to go!
To get started, an account here. You can then simply go to your blog’s Ecosystem details page, select the ‘Claim this Blog’ link, and then have the ability to immediately change the blog’s URLs, or even disable it if it is an old, obsolete blog.
Once you have your account, the ‘My Blogs’ page (now linked up on the top header) will become your home base, from which you can edit your blogs, search for your blogs which you haven’t added yet, or add completely new blogs under your account.
This is brand new functionality, and so I’d appreciate feedback and comments. Bear with me if you encounter any hiccups, and be assured that the next month is going to be a fun one here at TTLB: this is just a small, small part of the goodies and enhancements coming down the pipeline. Stay tuned for much more!
– N.Z.

Time: Nonstop awful

Klein in Time:
“The news from the Middle East – Iran, Iraq, Palestine – has been nonstop awful, and Bush is beginning to sound as airy and out of touch as Woodrow Wilson must have in 1919, when that President tried to sell the futile dream of a League of Nations. “
To the claim that the “news” from the Middle East has been “nonstop awful” — well, yes. Hard to argue. But that’s a rather different thing than the reality in the Middle East being non-stop awful, no?
See also, Victor Davis Hanson: “It is an odd war, because the side that I think is losing garners all the press, whether by blowing up the great golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, or blowing up an American each day. Yet we hear nothing of the other side that is ever so slowly, shrewdly undermining the enemy.”
Time, Mr. Klein, and the MSM in general are fond of engaging in this particular dance. Step one (“news” desk): ignore any signs of progress or good news from the Middle East; report in lurid detail all bad news. Step two (“editorial” desk): write pithy columns about how “the news” from the Middle East has been nothing but awful. Rinse. Repeat.
I can take some small pleasure in taunting Time, however, because they’ve obviously invested this week’s issue in the concept that the mosque bombing last week is starting a civil war. As they explain breathlessly in their press release:
“AN EYE FOR AN EYE TIME’s cover story this week, “Breaking Point,” explores the roots of the murderous rage in Iraq following the bombing of the al-Askari shrine and looks at why the U.S. may be powerless to stop it.”
But of course, a civil war is exactly what we’re not seeing, based on reports of the past few days. Captain Ed points out that even Moqtada al-Sadr, of all people, is encouraging calm and helping to keep the peace. And Omar at Iraq the Model notes that initial reports of the violence were dramatically overstated.
At times like these, it really sucks to be a weekly, doesn’t it? Faster, please…
Update: It’s murderous rage, I tell you, all of it!

John Boehner’s Opportunity

The Majority Leader race is done, and Republicans have chosen Boehner as their new leader. Congratulations to Representative Boehner and his team.
While the first choice of many of us in the blogosphere, Representative Shadegg, did not win the election, his impact on the race cannot be denied. His candidacy reminded his fellow Representatives that real reform, and real change in the leadership, was not simply the right thing to do, but utterly necessary to ensure the success of the GOP in November.
It is my sincere hope that Representative Boehner takes this message to heart, and takes up the banner of real reform with enthusiasm and commitment. And his past statements give reason for optimism. In our blogger conference call, and in his interview with Hugh Hewitt, Rep. Boehner reiterated his strong commitment against earmarks, and expressed support for the idea of posting legislation online for 72 hours prior to any vote. Limited government fans will be pleased with his direct and positive answer when asked if he’d support rules requiring legislation to contain statements identifying the authority within the Constitution that grants the Congress to legislate in that area (“That’d be fine with me.”), and his even more direct answer to concerns about McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform (“We ought to blow the whole bill up.”).
It is a critical time for the House GOP, and Boehner’s leadership will be essential in bringing the party out from the cloud of corruption scandals. He has the opportunity to make this not simply a defensive measure, but a truly positive one that will lead to victory in November — and not incidentally, real reform in the way that our Congress does business. I’m hopeful he will seize the opportunity…