Our worst senator

Quoth John Cornyn, R-TX:

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.”

There are plenty of Republican congresspeople who defend the Bush administration’s declarations of more and more power (all of whom would entrust that same power to President Feingold or President Mark Warner, I’m sure), but let’s be honest: Cornyn is the worst. He is not motivated by a belief in the Constitution, or in the people, or even in the executive branch, generally. He gets up in the morning and thinks up new ways to enhance the power of George W. Bush. The best example of this was his hilarious sycophancy during the Harriet Miers nomination. Hardcore conservatives and moderate Republicans alike were immediately skeptical about Miers. But as far as Cornyn was concerned, she was nominated by George Bush and … debate over! Confirm her!

Others have criticized the president because Ms. Miers is a close confidante, implying that she would not be qualified but for their relationship. I could not disagree more. Of course, the president is going to be inclined to nominate someone he knows, likes and has confidence in. He is not going to nominate someone he does not know or someone he does not like. So long as she is otherwise qualified to the Supreme Court, Ms. Miers’s long and valuable service to the president should count in her favor, not against her.

It certainly can’t be good for Bush that his most ambitious home-state senator is such a ridiculous toady.

Time magazine’s liberal-chronological bias

Michelle Malkin’s so damn angry at Time magazine that she’s torn up her calender in rage.

But if the magazine really wanted to “make a choice for the history books as well as one which is fresh and interesting, how could they pass over the … brave people of Ukraine? Time is so out of touch that none of these historic revolutionaries–Purple, Cedar, and Orange–were recognized in its “People Who Mattered” section.

Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution”* started on 11/21/2004 and ended with Victor Yushenko’s election as president on 12/26/2004. It was a big deal, and Time magazine even included Yushenko … in their “People Who Mattered” section.

Two movies

“Murderball” (Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, 2005)
Finally a movie where you can root against some real villains: Canadians and polio victims.

“Walk the Line” (James Mangold, 2005)
A gripping and effective love story, despite (because of?) the casting of actors who are far, far better looking than their inspirations (Jaoquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter).

Let us now praise famous Tim Grahams

I didn’t get too bothered about this week’s political news cycle after the Hotline’s post that asserted Howard Dean’s pessimistic comments on Iraq were bigger news than the end of Tom DeLay. Tim Graham, of all people, covers for me.

While conservative talk radio blazed this week over DNC chair Howard Dean’s comments on Iraq, that the idea we’re going to win is “wrong,” an important question arises: did the average American who does NOT listen to talk radio, but relies on network morning or evening news, hear the same uproar? Are the aware of the brouhaha? Don’t bet on it. A quick search of the name “Howard Dean” in Nexis from Sunday to Friday showed no Dean mention on ABC. None on CBS. NBC had this snippet on Wednesday morning from Kelly O’Donnell: “The president dismissed comments from Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, who compared Iraq to the Vietnam war.” That’s the closest the networks came.

Quick reaction: Well, no shit. Only in the Beltway media hothouse could a story about Howard Dean making anti-war remarks be considered marquee news.

Longer reaction: See, here’s another thing wrong with blogs. Bloggers and blog-readers are the most media-savvy people in the country. I’d be amazed if one of them doesn’t have cable news. Because they’re so plugged in, they’ve actually lost touch with, for want of a better term, the heartland – people who only read a local paper and maybe watch prime time network TV. Bloggers, like the beltway media, closely follow what stories make cable news or the Sunday talk shows. But real people don’t watch either of those things. Around 2-3 million follow cable news, and at max 10 million watch the Sunday shows. If we have a typical turnout for the midterm election, 65 million people will vote. This not only explains why I didn’t care about Dean, it explains why when I talked to sources in the DNC this week, they didn’t care either. Talk radio was going to bash Dean anyway; Fox was going to bash Dean anyway – what was new?

The evil that blogs do

Michael “TNR” Crowley has an interesting squib in the NYT magazine about conservative blogs.

When the liberal activist Matt Stoller was running a blog for the Democrat Jon Corzine’s 2005 campaign for governor, he saw the power of the conservative blogosphere firsthand. Shortly before the election, a conservative Web site claimed that politically damaging information about Corzine was about to surface in the media. It didn’t. But New Jersey talk-radio shock jocks quoted the online speculation, inflicting public-relations damage on Corzine anyway.

For space reasons Crowley doesn’t get specific, but I think I know what he’s talking about. Two weeks before the election, the anonymous blog enlighten-nj posted this bit of intrigue.

Enlighten-NewJersey has learned that something big is about to happen, and when it hits; it’ll make Jim McGreevey look like a Cub Scout compared to Jon Corzine.

This damaging revelation is well known by key political insiders in New Jersey, the Corzine camp knows it’s coming and is waiting for the other shoe to drop. The New York Times, the New York Post, the Bergen Record, and the Star Ledger are all running down leads in the story. This story could break wide open any day. It’s not a question of if, but when.

What could make Corzine into the next McGreevey? Our source says, “Stay tuned.”

This is so groundless it’s laughable – it sounds like the parody of the Homeland Security alert system on “American Dad,” where code orange means “Something could go down somewhere somehow in some way at some time.” But while we can’t resurrect radio shows that aired after the blog post, we can see other blogs – and they went nuts. If you read these posts, you glipse one factor Crowley left out – conservatives, still more than liberals, don’t trust the mainstream media (“MSM”) and are willing to believe if they read something on a blog but don’t hear it anywhere else, it’s because the media is covering it up. (From Newsbusters: “Whether or not the story is true, the MSM’s silence is significant. Had this story related to a Republican, every morning talk show would be speculating about it.”)

If I can explain this without getting too far out onto a limb, this is merely the latest example of something that has really disappointed me about blogs. I started reading blogs in 2001, and if you look to then, or even to 2002, blogs weren’t very involved in the to-fro battles of politics. (Daily Kos’s 2002 election roundup is stirring proof, and unimaginable now.) There were sharp divisions over the Iraq war before it started, but I don’t think blogs divided into right-left camps until late in 2003, when the war started going sour and Howard Dean became the Democratic frontrunner. And they really formed their camps once John Kerry became the Democratic nominee, around March of 2004. Now the liberal blogs weren’t trading blows about their favored candidates. Now the conservative blogs weren’t dividing their fire between Democrats or clearing their throats to note how, well, maybe they could vote for Lieberman. It became an all-out war and it hasn’t stopped. As I’ve written elsewhere, the story of blogs since then has been a left-right space race with one each side trying to become a better, more technologically advanced house organ for its party.

Crowley continues:

But what really makes conservatives effective is their pre-existing media infrastructure, composed of local and national talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, the Fox News Channel and sensationalist say-anything outlets like the Drudge Report – all of which are quick to pass on the latest tidbit from the blogosphere.

It’s more than that. The hosts don’t simply pass stuff on. Many bloggers write this stuff and pitch it to the hosts, in hopes of enlisting themselves in the news cycle or the greater cause. Perfect example in the form of Lt Smash. On Wednesday he decided to wage war against Howard Dean for his comments on the war, so he churned out a five-part “mission” encouraging readers to write letters to newspapers, contact their congressmen, etc. Right as he was posting the details …

UPDATE (5:12PM PST): I’m currently on hold for Hugh Hewitt…

Success! I got on the air, and got the word out. Thanks, Hugh!

And this is the direction blogs are heading in. Woo-ee.

Hewitless

Hugh shakes his head at the media pessimists.

The Washington Post reports President Bush is in high demand on the campaign trail, which confuses reporters who have persuaded themselves that he is a lame duck. 2006 is going to be an excellent campaign year for the GOP …

Oh, those reporters. Why did they persuade themselves that Bush’s campaign appearences have lost steam? Did they pull it out of their orifices? Or maybe – I’m just throwing this out – did Bush make a campaign appearence last month for a Republican 10 hours before polls opened in a dead-heat red state race, which the Republican then lost by 6 points?