Predicting the spin cycle

September 23, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Campaign 2014, Mainstream media, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off 

I’m back in the swing of news, and this gem from DaTechGuy hit home because it’s so, so predictable. The stories he cites are the ones which can be used to prop up Barack Obama’s approval numbers or distract from what’s really going on – in the grand scheme of things, is the NFL scandal really that important or newsworthy? It’s pretty sad when actions on the field take a distant back seat to actions which happened months ago far off the gridiron.

But how long have we known the mainstream media is in the tank for liberals? I mean, Dan Bongino’s supporters have stated chapter and verse that at least one major newspaper in his district ignores him, and it plays right into the outsider image Dan is trying to cultivate in this election. Chances are that same paper will endorse opponent John Delaney, as most local newspapers tend to endorse incumbents over challengers unless the incumbent is a Republican and even less likely when the Republican is a TEA Party adherent.

I’ve seen this over and over again over the last twenty to thirty years I’ve studied the media. And notice how that cadre of news dinosaurs tut-tuts at any challenger to its dominance, whether it was conservative talk radio a generation ago or the rise of the internet media in the opening years of this century? I may not have the circulation of a Baltimore Sun or even a Salisbury Daily Times, but the potential is always there for something I say to be cast before a huge state, national, or even global audience. Their lack of a monopoly on news is what frightens the other side.

So it’s quite predictable that their coverage dictates what is considered news to the masses, but at the same time people aren’t being informed as well about important issues of the day. In my youth I would read the local paper cover-to-cover, and it would be maybe 32 pages – a 12-page section of national and state news with the last 2 pages being editorial content, a 16-page second section with local news, 4 pages or so of sports, a few pages of classified ads, and the comics, and a 4-page “Peach Section” with the features, a smidgen of entertainment news, and the TV listings. It seems now the lines between all of this have been blurred, with entertainment and sports news hitting the front pages and editorials being placed willy-nilly as part of the news.

In short, the avalanche and overload of information we’re fed on a 24/7/365 basis may be allowing the most important stuff to slip by unnoticed, and that’s a shame.

The buzz on our block?

Time to get back on the horse after a Christmas break.

I first heard from Sara Marie Brenner about a year ago when my friend Jackie Wellfonder became a contributor at her website, The Brenner Brief. Later our paths crossed when she was the Strategic Outreach Manager for the Franklin Center, the group who sponsored the “blogger’s row” at Turning the Tides 2013. That led to a subsequent edition of Ten Question Tuesday, and since I’ve tracked her accomplishments from time to time. (It helps when you’re on her very active e-mail list.)

I would describe Sara Marie as a serial entrepreneur; as she said in her TQT interview, “I’m always creating new things.” Sometimes her enterprises succeed, such as her writing career, which now extends to a gig for the Washington Times community page of bloggers, or her radio show, which left BlogTalkRadio and became a new network called Heartland Talk Radio. So far, however, it appears hers is the only show. That’s not so bad, though – there’s this guy named Rush Limbaugh who built a radio network on just one show.

Yet there have been some misses, too. The Brenner Brief now struggles to get more than one or two posts a day out of its stable of writers, and the PolitiGal Network alluded to in the interview no longer has a website, just a Facebook page with fewer than 200 likes. Her tenure on the city council in Powell, Ohio ended this year as she was defeated for re-election after just a single term.

Needless to say, Sara’s irons have been in a number of fires, so when an item announcing the formation of an entity called Buzz On My Block Media crossed my path I was interested to see which category it would fall under. Upon reading its description, I immediately thought of the failing network of hyper-local websites called Patch, which turned out to be a money pit for AOL. But I wanted her side of the story, so I reached out and asked her the question.

In the series of e-mails which followed, I found out she’d been working on the site for months – which helped to explain the paucity of Brenner Brief items – and that many of my questions were indeed covered on the site’s FAQ page. She also explained that selling local ads is a “completely different sales tactic” than selling national ads. “Local businesses want to see community, foot traffic, and be next to stories people are reading about,” Brenner explained.

One difference between her concept and Patch is that there will be fewer restrictions on geographic location. The Patch websites tended to cluster in the suburban areas their big-city papers stopped covering when times became tight, but Brenner’s concept is intended for most areas, except places “in the middle of the frozen tundra.” Starting next Friday, hers will be the first example, covering the city of Powell and surrounding townships. Each subsequent edition will require an editor and/or director to hire writers, solicit advertisers, and set up connections to cover its territory.

When reading her words and relating it to the possibility of making this succeed in our area, my mind thought back to the much-ballyhooed Delmarva Crossroads newspaper and website. The excitement of its opening petered out quickly and the enterprise barely lasted a couple months from start to finish. (The last update on the site, which is still in existence, was September 24, 2012.)

The site and paper had everything Sara Marie could ask for – a backer who is a local businessman, an editor who had previously worked as a reporter for the local Gannett-owned daily, and a small staff of professionals augmented by various local writers – and it went belly-up in a matter of weeks. Perhaps that was a function of insisting on a print edition of the newspaper, which was a local weekly.

On the other hand, Salisbury has a couple websites which purport to supplement the local newspaper, but have devolved to the point where much of the content is regurgitated press releases and the occasional on-the-spot or correspondent report. Editing at times seems to be a secondary concern; however, both these sites have shown far more staying power than Delmarva Crossroads did, let alone a fair number of their onetime peers.

Meanwhile, in Sara Marie’s description of articles about local businesses, the market here has that cornered, too. Metropolitan Magazine is very successful in its niche and has been for a quarter-century.

So it’s truly difficult to tell whether this venture will succeed as others have not. Obviously there are several ingredients necessary for success, chief among them sources of revenue. Someone has to pay for space on the site, and as I’ve found over the years it’s not easy to get local businesses to support a venture, particularly in the face of other rising costs and the assurance more established local outlets presents to would-be advertisers. That’s not to say a Buzz On My Block outlet couldn’t succeed here – perhaps as a refurbished web-only Delmarva Crossroads – but there’s a reason Patch failed and there’s generally not enough of a market locally to support both the struggling local paper and their outlet. It would take someone willing to lose money for the first year or two to make a go of this, and I can’t think of anyone willing to take the risk.

Maybe Sara Marie can make her local paper work, but I think the hard part will be finding writers willing to work for very little pay. Blogging is an inexpensive hobby, but few can make a living at it. It may explain why she has so many gigs.

Ducking the real question

December 21, 2013 · Posted in Mainstream media · 1 Comment 

For a television show which drew 11.8 million viewers for its season four premiere over the summer, ‘Duck Dynasty’ has become the topic du jour on everyone’s lips. (Just as a comparison, the broadcast network show ‘NCIS’ drew about 19 million viewers the week of December 9.)

Before I continue, let me say I am not a regular viewer of the show; however, I have seen enough bits and pieces from having a 13-year-old devout follower of the series in the household to be familiar with the premise of the show, not to mention the four guys who look like stand-ins for a ZZ Top video. (Which makes sense, since the ZZ Top song ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ is the show’s theme song.) Moreover, doing my outside job has made me aware that anything with the ‘Duck Dynasty” logo and/or the Robertson family – and I mean anything – is available at most local stores, particularly Walmarts. There’s no need to discount it like you might the remnants of a failed blockbuster movie or television series because the stuff has been flying off the shelves. (By the way, it should be pointed out this accrues to the benefit of the A&E Network.)

So what’s amazing to me about this story is the reaction from a small portion of the interview, taken out of the context of the whole. But then again, in reading the piece, you feel like writer Drew Magary is holding himself one step away from openly laughing about how much of a bunch of Bible-thumping hicks this whole Robertson clan is, like Drew’s really the smartest guy in the room and how did he ever get stuck with this assignment? I’ll put up with them for now, the attitude screams, but wait until I get back to New York or Washington (or wherever Drew’s from) and start writing this one, complete with plenty of NSFW language! The target audience of GQ - which is pehaps the older brothers of the now-infamous “pajama boy” – will simply see this as yet another reinforcement of how life in flyover country is something to be ignored, not emulated.

Honestly, I think people were caught off guard by the swift reaction from the LGBT community to the money quote from the story. There’s no doubt in my mind the most radical among them were already bothered by the show’s popularity because of its message of morality and lack of so-called “diversity” – it doesn’t fit in with the usual politically correct pap which most network shows have become as they preach tolerance of all but a Biblical worldview. Come on, these guys say grace before they eat. Fearing this prospect of a boycott by a small but vocal minority, the A&E network suspended Phil from the show.

Yet if you read farther into the interview, you’ll find this fate wasn’t totally unexpected:

“Let’s face it,” (Phil Robertson) says. “Three, four, five years, we’re out of here. You know what I’m saying? It’s a TV show. This thing ain’t gonna last forever. No way.”

At this point, they are three months away from the 2-year mark (the show premiered in March 2012) but the overnight success of the show is probably at the crest of its wave – before too long, some other pop culture phenomenon will take over the public consciousness and ‘Duck Dynasty’ will be a footnote. An extremely well-marketed footnote, but a footnote nonetheless. It will certainly eliminate the talk about Phil’s son Willie Robertson running for Congress.

Still, there is the question of how much backlash the radical LGBT crowd will receive from all this. Regardless of how crassly Phil Robertson put it, the truth is for most men women are far more desirable as partners. That’s the reality. Try as the LGBT radicals might to redefine marriage and family, there’s no substitute for biology and if guys want to carry on the family name, so to speak, they need a woman to help them out somehow. One might consider that God’s plan. Certainly it would be preferred that the guys hang on to their desire until they find the right woman, get married, and settle down, but that’s really going to take a sea change in societal mores on the order of a Great Awakening to occur – so start small like the Robertsons seem to be doing. Every little bit helps.

Those who complain about lack of tolerance might want to consider they’re traveling on a two-way street. Erick Erickson wrote a good piece on RedState yesterday about the tendency of those offended to wish to “punish and destroy” opponents rather than exhibit the tolerance they demand.

For those who were determined to drive ‘Duck Dynasty’ off the air, it’s obvious the idea of ‘live and let live’ is beyond their limited worldview.

In print: Republican activities, a well-kept secret, can benefit the entire state

Today my op-ed for the Salisbury Daily Times was published as part of their “Point & Counterpoint” series, with the topic: “What’s at stake in Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections?”

This piece is the “as submitted” version, which differs slightly from the actual print run and internet edition available at the paper’s website.

**********

While we are still months away from knowing who the nominees will be for Maryland’s state and local elective offices, one thing which is becoming more and more apparent with each passing day is that the key issue on the ballot will be a stark choice.

With the exception of one term of Bob Ehrlich, the Republican governor who presided over a sound Maryland economy and was defeated for re-election despite positive approval ratings, the Democratic Party has held each of the three statewide elected offices and control of the General Assembly for decades. They’d be the first to tell you that this phenomenon is due to voter satisfaction, but we contend instead that the reason is the perception – reinforced by Democrat-friendly media outlets in the state – that the Republicans have nothing to offer and are a weak, ineffective opposition party.

So what they don’t tell you is that Republicans have, for the last several years, annually put up an alternative budget in the General Assembly – one which holds the line on excessive spending and returns money to the pockets of hard-working Marylanders regardless of their party affiliation.

It’s been a well-kept secret that instead of amassing all state power in Annapolis and making the state itself prostrate to the whims of inside-the-Beltway bureaucrats who tell the state how high to jump, Republicans fought for the interests of counties and of rural Maryland – the state’s breadbasket. But measures to repeal the state’s onerous 2012 septic bill were haughtily dismissed this spring in Democratic-controlled committees; meanwhile, our right to own a handgun was severely curtailed by tone-deaf members of the majority despite the pleas of hundreds from all parties who signed up to testify on behalf of the Second Amendment.

This cavalier Democratic attitude of know-it-all superiority even extends to the voting process, as state law dictates their candidates will be listed first on the ballot.

Just because Republicans haven’t had the opportunity to govern in this state with control of the state’s General Assembly and statewide offices doesn’t mean they won’t be able to do what’s right for the state in key areas such as job creation and education. Instead of the stagnation of the last eight years and legislative rot stretching back decades, Maryland can turn a new page and join other successful states where Republicans have control.

It only takes one vote: yours.

**********

The key difference in the print version was combining the final sentence with the preceding paragraph, which made it lose its punch somewhat. (Mark Bowen, my Democratic opponent, got his concluding sentence to stand by itself.) They also butchered the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph in that version, leaving it hanging a little bit. Hence the need to set the story straight, sort of like the “director’s cut” of a movie.

But it’s interesting how Bowen and I interpreted the question in different ways. When I received the invitation to write this piece, I was told the subject would be Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections, so I looked at it on statewide level. Obviously Bowen chose to approach this from a national perspective as he discussed Obamacare and the prospect of electing “right-wing extremists.” (I happen to think we need about 300 more of them in Congress so maybe we can get a body which will properly assist in running this nation.) He really didn’t address the state situation at all, which leads me to believe they think things are in the bag here. I’m all for shocking the world on that one.

It’s unfortunate, but I didn’t save my original draft. I had to cut it under 400 words so I had to leave a couple subjects on the cutting room floor. I would have liked to point out the 40 tax increases enacted under our current regime but decided the idea of the alternative budget was a better way of looking forward. The key element of my argument was showing how out-of-touch the current administration in Annapolis truly is, yet it only takes one vote to change it.

So what do you think? Did I mop the floor with Mark Bowen? I encourage you to leave the Facebook comments and let the online Daily Times readers know that the state is truly ready for a change.

The R3volution will NOT be televised

August 11, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Mainstream media, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

On Monday another former Presidential candidate tries to become a media maven.

In and of itself, that’s not unusual as several of the alsorans have taken to the new media in various ways: Newt Gingrich has Gingrich Productions, which works in the realms of film and literature. Rick Santorum founded Patriot Voices as an advocacy group, but one which offers a movie called “Our Sacred Honor.” Perhaps the closest to doing multimedia is Herman Cain, but the ambitious “new online network of programming designed to give you the other side of popular culture, politics, entertainment” of CainTV has seemed to devolve into a mix of regular short videos and written commentary to go along with Herman’s nationally-syndicated radio show.

Yet the idea is still appealing, and on Monday Ron Paul will debut what he calls the Ron Paul Channel. There he promises:

When the Ron Paul Channel launches, we’ll take mainstream media by storm. No advertisers, no corporate agenda — just the truth delivered exclusively to subscribers like you.

From the looks of it, there will be at least some daily programming on the Ron Paul Channel beginning tomorrow – perhaps not a 24/7 setup like a cable news network, but having an exclusively online presence also saves in the overhead of actually securing a channel on cable or satellite, as Glenn Beck has done. Similarly, another alternative news network targeting the conservative audience is the TEA Party News Network, which is comprised of videos of their personalities on other news sources.

Trying a more conventional route, however, is One America News, which went on the air in July and runs constant programming to around 10 million cable-equipped homes. Their alliance with the Washington Times lends them some gravitas but may lead to a perception that they’re a knockoff of Fox News.

But Ron Paul has a rabidly loyal following that these other outlets don’t, with the possible exception of Beck. So what kind of audience can such a channel expect?

Let’s look at some numbers.

In 2012, according to Wikipedia, Ron Paul received 2,095,795 votes. However, there are perhaps 10 percent of these voters who would be the most militant followers and that’s the base one can expect to at least look at the RPC. So we’re down to 210,000 homes and maybe 10 percent of that crowd would be using the RPC as their primary news source daily. I think 21,000 viewers daily is a fairly decent estimate of their potential audience to start if all goes well and the programming is of sufficient quality. It may seem like a lot but it pales in comparison to what the cable networks reach, even on a summer weekend.

(As a point of comparison, the social media presence of the RPC has fewer than 13,000 followers right now between Facebook and Twitter. So I may not be far off base.)

It’s worth mentioning, though, that the RPC won’t be looking for sponsors, but subscribers. To me, that implies a monetary component which could be a few dollars a month or more for enhanced access. Obviously I could be wrong, and I hope I am because one would think that spreading the truth according to Ron Paul would be done in such a way to make it as accessible as possible.

A channel run by moneybombs? I suppose it’s possible; after all, we’ve found over the last half-decade or more that Dr. Paul is a pretty good marketer.

The life of a blogger

June 24, 2013 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Mainstream media · 1 Comment 

This came in my e-mail the other day and I found it both amusing and enlightening.

Hi Michael,

My name is (redacted) and I am a marketing associate at (a marketing firm). Congrats on being named one of The Fix’s top state political blogs!

We are offering our smart polling widget for your website that comes with free basic analytics. Every week we will send you a report of topline and summary data to create more detailed audience profiles and build a stronger online community.

I was wondering if you had time to talk next Tuesday? I would love to run through our product and how it would be tailored for you.

Thanks,

(redacted)

(Emphasis mine.)

As a matter of fact, I really don’t have time to talk next Tuesday because I’m hustling to make a living. Blogging is great practice for my second career but I have to pursue career number three because it actually pays me. (Career number one went by the wayside thanks to the demise of the local building industry.)

And you can tell I don’t pay attention to the Washington Post, because I had no idea I was on that list. But I am since I was placed on their “extended edition” in March – thanks to whoever nominated me, it’s an honor! My erstwhile associates at Red Maryland have bragged on this for a couple years, so now I can too.

Meanwhile, there’s the aspect of pop-up polls. I don’t know about you, but I ignore them and don’t really want them cluttering up my site. Not sure how annoying pop-ups will build my audience; I choose to do that with good content.

I also get these appeals on a semi-regular basis; this one came last week:

I am looking to do one-way link building with desgin (sic) and technology sites. We thought you might be interested in this since your site (monoblogue.us) is in this category.

One way links are like this: SITE A -> monoblogue.us -> SITE B

I will link to monoblogue.us from my PR6 SITE A and you link to my SITE B from monoblogue.us in return. As your monoblogue.us is PR4, a link from a PR6 site will improve your pagerank as well as search engine ranking a lot. And both of our sites are in similar category, this brings extra value to both of our audience.

I had some great partners in United States|us and I hope you could be part of this program.

If you are interested or have any questions, please reply to this message for details.

Here is your reply, for the whole world to see.

I do links for one of four reasons: they are paying advertisers like the ones in my far-right sidebar, worthwhile causes like Troopathon, or they are in a story to either advance the narrative by bringing the source of the information to light or by adding context. I link to my own work a lot of the time, but will often link to other blogs or news sources when I use their information to make my arguments. Lastly, I keep a broad list of sites I link to as a show of support for their journalism, something I have done pretty much since day one.

I have been told by those who know a little something about SEO that I am a “natural” PR4; in other words, I didn’t use SEO tricks to build up my rank but its relevance has come over time as people read it and link to my site as a source of information. Just picking random national links off my site, I found American Thinker is a PR5, Legal Insurrection is a PR6, Right Turn (part of the Washington Post) is a PR7, and Twitchy is a PR7. As for state and local peers – such as the ones listed along with me on the WaPo list – Maryland Juice is a PR5, Maryland Reporter is a PR5, and Center Maryland is a PR4. In one year, my cohort Jackie Wellfonder has built up her Raging Against the Rhetoric site to a PR4 as well. (All of these are also linked in my sidebar.)

So without really trying, each of those sources got to their ranking naturally, not by artificially linking back and forth to sites specifically created just to pump up SEO status in a never-ending cycle of linkage, but not adding to the information available to readers.

At some point, the wheat becomes separated from the chaff. I know Google occasionally changes its algorithm in an attempt to clean out these junk SEO sites and attempt to put legitimate sites at the top of the search engines. But I don’t worry about that, since my audience has generally been built up by word of mouth and social media. The extent of my advertising is business cards I occasionally print at home.

Now if you want to consider this a “bleg,” well, I’m always looking for new advertisers (with recently trimmed rates) and don’t mind checks in the mail or deposits to my PayPal account. But I really wanted to get that off my chest because this isn’t as easy as it looks and there are always people out there who want to take advantage of me and try to screw up my formula for success.

I’ve earned everything I’ve achieved here, and the plan is to keep earning it as long as I feasibly can.

Asinine and stupid

CPAC badge

I’d almost like to thank the Maryland Republican Party for handing me a subject I can write on while the state convention is going on, but perhaps this may instead thankfully be the final foot in the mouth for the Waterman regime.

On Thursday we learned that the Maryland Republican Party views bloggers as a cash cow and not a legitimate source of news and information. (Really, I should say independent bloggers since those associated with a mainstream news outlet are okay to them.) Needless to say, a lot of my peers are up in arms about this one.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret – I’ve been covering the convention for years. Media credential? I don’t need no stinkin’ media credential! Granted, I have a job to do for those who elected me as well, but the MDGOP should be well aware by now I put up a summary post or two afterward. So do most of the other blogs in the state.

But do they really think people aren’t going to Tweet, Facebook, or otherwise share what goes on at the convention?  The first people who will know who the new state party Chair is will be in the room, but within five minutes the rest of the world will know.

The MDGOP should be honored that someone like William Jacobson (of Legal Insurrection) wants to have the opportunity to cover the event. Perhaps the coverage won’t be as glowing as the party would like, but do they honestly think the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, et. al. will focus on the message we are trying to send out or the agenda they want to hear? Obviously we’ve had a contentious race for Chair and they smell blood – I never see them at an uncontroversial state party convention.

So provided I don’t get rousted out of the event for protesting – I’m planning on wearing my CPAC credentials as a show of support for the Maryland blogging community – look for full coverage tomorrow. I will also be Tweeting as news breaks (@ttownjotes).

WaPo push poll: Maryland favors gun control

The headline screamedWashington Post poll finds support for stricter gun laws in Maryland.” And if you glanced at a poll put out last week by the venerable leftist paper, you might be led to believe our state is home to a bunch of idiots. Well, it is, but somehow it seems the Post found several hundred who answered the phone the weekend before last.

It’s obvious the poll isn’t aimed at the Post readership because they reliably tilt to the left – if you’re a conservative in the Beltway area you probably pick up the Washington Times.  Instead, I think it was aimed at a small group of politicians: Democrats in the House of Delegates who may balk at passing this legislation. Yet they really have nothing to fear, given that the poll was taken from a random sampling of adults in Maryland, mainly on a weekend.

I also found the second question to be a loaded one, as three separate items were tucked into one question very similar to the previous one. Even among Second Amendment enthusiasts, most would agree that a background check is a good idea and that question scored 82 percent in the Post poll. Knowing that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when background checks are included in the palette of options for the very next question, the answer would be yes. I doubt that nearly as many Marylanders would agree to fingerprints or an eight-hour training course. And it’s not lost on me that the financial cost of O’Malley’s plan to individual gun owners was left on the cutting room floor as a question to be asked.

Personally, I would trust the thousands who attempted to testify against making Maryland’s already-stringent gun laws even more draconian and safely own and handle guns over people who aren’t even gun owners – less than three out of ten who responded to the Post poll were willing to admit they owned a weapon. I daresay they didn’t call a whole lot of NRA members then.

Ignore gun owners at your peril, Maryland General Assembly.

I think this is a good time to remind you about yesterday’s post on the Annapolis bus trip slated for tomorrow.

This should be interesting

November 9, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, Mainstream media, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Perhaps you’ve heard about this, but if not here you go:

 The Tea Party News Network (TPNN), on the heels of their launch seven days ago, today announced remarkable growth in traffic and online viewership.  For TPNN’s initial broadcast on election night, the website received over 50,000 unique visits to TPNN.com, and more than 91,000 unique viewers to the live streaming video broadcast of their election coverage.  With a partnership through the Rusty Humphries Show and the Talk Radio Network, TPNN’s election coverage reached hundreds of thousands of others on over 350 radio affiliates across the nation.

“We’re overwhelmed with the response we’ve received from tea party members.  We knew there was demand for an online right-of-center news outlet that focuses on tea party news, but this exceeds our expectations,” said Todd Cefaratti, the editor and founder of TPNN. “We’re now more confident than ever there’s room for political coverage that comes from a place untainted by the liberal mainstream media, provided by the tea party, for the tea party.”

“There are a lot of so-called pundits and commentators in Washington and New York saying that the tea party is now irrelevant and blaming millions of proud tea party Americans for the election results,” said Scottie Nell Hughes, news director of TPNN. “If they knew the real strength of our movement, and they would come to a different conclusion. We’ve seen the strength through the demand for TPNN and we’re humbled by the comments from viewers and reader. We vow to keep up the momentum moving in to this important new year and to hold politicians accountable to the Constitution.

So I suppose this is the TEA Party’s answer to MSNBC.

But there needs to be some context, as mainstream news outlets likely had audiences in six to eight figures. Then again, when I’ve witnessed lengthy internet broadcasts which only attract half the audience that TPNN did on Election Night, that’s fairly impressive for the internet. It may be something worth watching.

On the question of Libya

This evening I’m choosing to highlight some of what you may not have heard on the evening news. Republicans in Maryland don’t always get a lot of news coverage, but they were handed a golden opportunity for criticism about the Obama Administration and their handling of the Ambassador Chris Stevens murder and other issues around the Middle East.

So let’s look at how some of these challengers are reacting to Middle East tensions, beginning with U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Bongino.

My prayers go out to the families and friends of Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans who were brutally massacred yesterday in Benghazi. As a Secret Service agent, I saw firsthand the dangers that face our diplomats as they go about the business of spreading the message of freedom and democracy to other nations. I have the greatest respect for these men and women and for those who are called on to protect them. I join all Americans in thanking them for their service to our country.

This tragedy underscores our need for a peace through strength foreign policy, not a chaos through weakness approach. America must forever be vigilant toward the danger posed by those who choose violence over diplomacy, disorder over peace.

That “chaos through weakness” approach seems to be even more apparent as more is learned about the situation. Obviously Dan has a unique perspective on the situation, which is why he was in demand as a news guest after the incident. He was more harsh on Andrew Wilkow’s show on The Blaze’s new cable channel:

Either this was the worst threat assessment done by completely incompetent people or the threat assessment was accurate and was ignored.

Of the Congressional Republican candidates who reacted, some were more brief. For example, Third District candidate Eric Knowles noted on his Facebook page:

Work to preserve our liberties for generations to come – this is the ultimate way we can honor those who lost their lives on this day as well as those who sacrificed so much in the resulting wars.

Also on Facebook, Seventh District aspirant Frank Mirabile took exception to Obama’s statements on the President’s weekly radio address yesterday:

Mr. President where is the issuance of…

“The United States of America WILL NOT tolerate any acts of terrorism issued against American diplomats or those who protect them. Period. We WILL bring upon those who participated in these acts of aggression the true nature of American Justice and Retribution! America will not tolerate terrorist acts of aggression against it’s people.”

Nancy Jacobs, who’s running in the Second District, minced no words: “America needs to be tough.”

As we Americans spent the day reflecting on the horrors of 9/11, a similar incident of mass murder and hate by religious zealots was underway at the U.S. Embassy in Libya.  The killing of our Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three other diplomatic staff by an angry mob in Benghazi is an absolute outrage.  Today I feel terrible grief for the families of the victims but also immense anger over the attack.

Our leaders in Washington should be expressing to the world that we will not be terrorized by radical extremists.  We cannot afford a mealy mouthed response to this atrocious act.  It is critical that America stand strong, shout loud and show, with our actions, it will do everything necessary to protect the safety and security of our people here and overseas. The world must know those who dare to participate in such lawlessness should be aware that the United States has the strength, ability and resolve to fight back if necessary.

It is also critical for America to immediately address with Israeli leadership the continuing threat to Israel by Iraq.  Instability in the region is a huge threat to the world and America.  Throughout we have stood proud, strong and tough in defense of democracy. We must be ever so clear that America will not start wavering now.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Eighth District hopeful Ken Timmerman, who’s written extensively on the Middle East, also had a diatribe which featured this remark:

It’s time that we face reality: the so-called Arab Spring that the United States aided and abetted has ushered in an Islamist Dark Age descending upon much of the Middle East that endangers Americans, endangers Christians and other religious minorities, and endangers Israel.

It also directly threatens the authentic, pro-freedom forces in these countries that Ambassador Stephens and his colleagues tried bravely to nurture.

Timmerman is one who’s calling for specific action: suspending aid to Libya and other governments in the region until they clean up their acts and bring perpetrators to justice. It’s a start.

The more I hear about how one portion of the media seems to desperately playing defense for their favored candidate, while a collection of foreign sources and domestic alternative media tries to uncover what’s really happened and – more importantly – what led up to it. Missing daily security briefings at a critical foreign policy juncture, as the President has reportedly done, is legitimately a questionable policy issue and Mitt Romney should call President Obama out on it. This point is made by pro-troop group Move America Forward, with spokesman Danny Gonzalez noting:

(MAF) also pointed to the official White House Calendar, which showed no public record of President Obama attending a daily intelligence briefing since September 5th, as further evidence that the administration is not taking foreign policy or national security seriously. Hostile foreign regimes and terrorist groups around the globe have picked up on his nonchalant attitude and have displayed a pattern of further testing his commitment to American national security.

While Romney was condemned in the press for supposedly speaking too soon, it turns out his gut instinct was pretty much on the mark. Did you actually think the mainstream, partisan media would give him a fair shake? Neither did I. And those who were ignored until I mentioned it today finally get a piece of their due as well.

Radio days volume 17

August 28, 2012 · Posted in Mainstream media, Personal stuff · 4 Comments 

Well, I hope this is the beginning of a renewed trend.

There was a time when I was on the radio a lot more than I have been recently, which led me to see just what volume number I was on because my last radio interview was in April, 2011, when I was featured on the liberal gabfest Thom Hartmann Show.

As it turns out, yesterday’s radio appearance on Blaine Young’s WFMD-AM show wasn’t all that much different in that I was promoting something I wrote, but it was the first of what I hope are many radio appearances to promote my book So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy.

And perhaps I’m my own harshest critic, but I thought I left a lot to be desired. In my defense, I have to say there were two strikes working against me: my shot was delayed an hour because of unrelated events in Frederick (which made me a little bit more nervous) and I didn’t really get a transition – it was just boom! I’m on. That definitely threw me; I’m more used to having a bit of an introduction but I guess Blaine’s show doesn’t work that way – I just have to be more prepared for that. Obviously I know why I wrote the book, and I honestly think I’m as qualified as any other so-called political pundit to be an analyst. But I sort of staggered through that part of the interview because I was a little off my game. I need to work on that portion.

I did enjoy the conversation about Maryland politics, though. No, it really didn’t relate to my book but I suppose it does enhance my political bonafides by having a relatively detailed discussion of a political subject. There’s nothing wrong with promoting my website as well as my book.

Overall, I’d give myself a C-minus for the effort, but the real test is whether my book sales will ratchet upward. Obviously I do these radio interviews to help sell books because if I don’t sell So We May Breathe Free my ideas don’t make it into the marketplace and I happen to think I have pretty valid ideas. Some of my more fervent backers swear I have plenty of writing talent, but that has to translate into sales and hopefully I didn’t miss an opportunity today.

Still, I want to thank Blaine Young for extending that chance. Maybe this Delmarva player wasn’t quite ready for Frederick yet, but once I knock the rust off I’m sure I’ll get better – remember, it’s been about 16 months since I did a radio show and I thought I did pretty fair on the last one. So if you have a radio show or know someone with one – even if it’s just a little internet station – I’m happy to come on and promote my book. You need content and I need sales, so let’s see if we can strike a deal.

There’s one thing I thought about during the hour delay and wish I had said in the actual interview, though. You have to love a system where someone like me – who has no pedigree and was basically ignored by the literary world – still has the opportunity to express a message. I can live with putting myself out there and being a total flop based on the weakness of my argument, but what I can’t abide is never getting the chance at all. Yesterday I got my chance, and I’m confident I’ll get more because I’m going to keep knocking on the door.

My role as a ‘journalist’

February 21, 2012 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items, Mainstream media, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

From time to time, there is a discussion about the role people like me play and a post from last Friday by Melissa Clouthier talks about a recent court case in Oregon where a blogger was sued for libel and lost in part because she was denied the media shield protection a “regular” journalist receives. As Clouthier writes:

This case disturbs me as a blogger. I’ve had sources feed me stories – nearly every blogger has sources. There should be shield law protection. Period.

She also notes:

Right now, bloggers are exposed. If a big corporation, a rich/important individual, the government or someone in power wants to harass a blogger, he simply has to sue them into compliance. Even if the powerful has no case, the lawsuit itself can put an independent journalist out of business.

Melissa also links to an old acquaintance of mine from my days in Toledo, Maggie Thurber. Maggie adds a little bit of context to the discussion regarding this public service that bloggers do:

We have several local examples of people doing their part, including (one woman) who attends Toledo City Council Meetings, takes notes and then shares them with us here on this blog.

It doesn’t take much, since many are already attending meetings across the county – and anyone who share their meeting notes here is welcome to do so.

As we’ve found out, much to our chagrin at times, the mainstream media can’t be everywhere and even when they are present they don’t always cover the event well. For example, I have been at probably fifty Wicomico County Republican Club meetings over the last several years, where public officials utter statements which can be newsworthy. I believe there has been one instance where print media was present, but to be honest I forget who it was for. And while Salisbury City Council and Wicomico County Council have received regular coverage, the press tends to ignore smaller communities, political forums, and the like where news can be made, too.

Unfortunately, I’ve also found that the role of self-appointed journalist doesn’t always suit some people, and perhaps that’s the reason we haven’t earned that First Amendment protection. (There are a few plaintiffs locally who may agree with that initial statement, considering their dealings with another local blogger.)

While we don’t have the rights that “mainstream” journalists have, to be good at what we do and to legitimize what’s still a maturing news resource we still have the responsibility to be accurate and honest in both our reporting and the disclosure of our point of view. There’s no question I come with a conservative slant to what I write, and I don’t deny it. But that doesn’t relieve me of the responsibility to be as accurate as possible when I put on my reporter’s hat.

Certainly, though, there is one part of the statement which Melissa brings up and I allude to a couple paragraphs above. If someone with money or power is “wronged” by a blogger, they certainly have the means to destroy that blogger even if he or she is in the right. It’s sort of the inverse to the scenario where a company settles out of court with a plaintiff to avoid the prospect of losing a much bigger settlement at trial.

The Crystal Cox case is illustrative of what can happen to a blogger. Based on one post out of several regarding the plaintiff, a federal judge ruled against her defense that she was entitled to her state’s media shield law. U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez wrote:

(T)he record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law.

In the interest of disclosure, Hernandez was slated to be a Bush appointee, but he was held out by the end of Bush’s term and renominated by President Obama last year.

Now I have written before about the difficulties some bloggers have with financial support, but this is another potential landmine we all face. Not only could we use some financial assistance from those who could find us useful to advance a political agenda, but the possibility of more rulings like Judge Hernandez spewed forth means we need to find a way to legitimize ourselves in the eyes of the public.

Unfortunately, it was one post out of hundreds Cox wrote which did her in, and there’s the possibility that anyone who says something which gravely offends someone in a position of power can be in the same boat. That possibility is one which chills the national discourse, and shield laws should expand to allow those who blog the same rights as any other freelance journalist who toils for the print media. Of course we shouldn’t be able to get away with libel, but those bloggers who can prove themselves to be responsible at their craft despite their independence shouldn’t be penalized, either.

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