People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

You Get What You Pay For

Everyone in the Virginia blog world knows that Lowell Feld and Josh Chernilla of Raising Kaine are paid (or have been paid) by Democratic operatives to write what they write. Same with Jon Henke (QandO) and certain Republicans. To me, knowing that fact gives their views a certain perspective.

"Knowing that" being the key.

It's been suggested by some in this "business" (poor fools; they keep trying to establish rules) that bloggers like these should put a disclaimer on their weblogs denoting the fact that they take money to write their opinions (I'm sure they'd prefer it said that they take money and have opinions). Whatever.

In my case, not only would I not accept cash from any politician's campaign, I even removed Adsense from this site long ago because I didn't want to cultivate the notion that my opinions were being tossed into the arena with an underlying intention of profiting from the effort. (There are also legal 1st Amendment implications, in my mind).

Along these lines, the Roanoke Times this morning calls attention to the practice of paying bloggers to blog, and sees dangers lurking exactly where I do:

Bloggers on the take

Journalists, real journalists, follow strict rules about conflicts of interest. They do not take money or gifts from groups they might cover. They also maintain a wall between news, opinion and advertising functions.

That is not the case with many bloggers. In Virginia, for example, Lowell Feld, the man behind the liberal blog RaisingKaine.com, is getting special treatment from Democrats. They will seat him on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in August as an "embedded" blogger.

Feld has had a cozy relationship with Democrats for a while, working as a paid consultant for some of their candidates.

Such relationships are increasingly common among bloggers looking to make a buck. They accept money or other perks from a candidate or party and then write about them.

[M]oney has a tendency to taint objectivity. That does not disqualify bloggers from a place in the media spectrum, but those who rely on them for their news and commentary should keep in mind the potential conflicts when they choose whom to trust. (link)
I've met Josh and Jon. Both seem to be upstanding human beings. And I'm sure both will tell you that their opinions are not skewed by the cash that flows their way as they write that which politicians want them to write. I believe them. I think.

But there is that nagging appearance of impropriety. These guys take money to write that which candidates want written.

I think of the married man who jumps in the sack with a hooker but later tells his wife, after being caught, that "it meant nothing." Please. It meant something.

That in itself calls for full disclosure.

To their readers, I say: Caveat emptor. To the professional bloggers and their political patrons, I say: Caveat venditor.

At least here at From On High, you'll never have to worry about getting your - or a politician's - money's worth.

I sleep well at night because of it.

The World of Illusion

This is rich. The most divisive president in American history - since Abraham Lincoln anyway - is worried that the country is now too polarized. He's obviously off his meds:

President Clinton warns of growing polarization
Associated Press

Philadelphia (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton warned Saturday that the country is becoming increasingly polarized despite the historic nature of the Democratic primary.

Speaking at the National Governors Association's semiannual meeting, Clinton noted that on the one hand, following the early stages of the Democratic primary, "the surviving candidates were an African-American man and a woman."

But this achievement was overshadowed by a growing distance between Americans, said Clinton.

"Underneath this apparent accommodation to our diversity, we are in fact hunkering down in communities of like-mindedness, and it affects our ability to manage difference," Clinton said. (link)

Yup. Clinton's definitely off his meds. If someone could translate that babble into English, please get back with us.

"Hunkering down in like-mindedness"? "Manage difference"? What in God's name is that?

Anyway, the only president in American history to so anger - and polarize - his political opposition that he got himself impeached thinks we are only now facing polarizing times.

A chuckle at this point would be appropriate.

What? This Can't Be!

This will surprise all those Dick Cheney haters out there. It's been determined that he does in fact have a heart:

Doctors: Cheney's heartbeat normal in checkup

Not to mention the fact that it'll probably ruin their day too.

Good Luck With That!

I guess Barack Obama has money to burn. Either that or he has the same feckless senior campaign strategist that John McCain has. Because this is certainly a waste of Barbra Streisand's political donations:

Barack on 'Track'
By Geoff Earle, New York Post Correspondent

Washington - Barack Obama, start your engine!

Obama is preparing to smack his campaign logo on the hood of a NASCAR race car - in the candidate's latest gambit to court voters who don't mind getting grease under their fingernails.

It would be the first time a presidential candidate sponsored a car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race series.

By sponsoring the car, Team Obama gets a chance to reach millions of white working-class voters - a demographic that Obama struggled with in the primaries and needs to win to beat McCain.

The race is also taking place in Pennsylvania, a swing state. (link)

Here's my favorite line in the piece:

" ... the bold ad strategy has risks."

Risks? Hardly. These are NASCAR fans. There'll be a few raised eyebrows. And several dozen jokes told. And tens of thousands of race fans who'll recognize it for what it is - a cynical attempt by Obama's handlers to make their man out to be something he ain't.

This would be like McCain setting up a booth at the next MoveOn.org convention. What's the point?

Obama and NASCAR. Somehow I don't see the guy standing in the infield in a tank top, cracking open a beer and yelling, "Show us your tits!" to the babes walking by. But I could be wrong.


Sad News

I barely knew of Tim Russert. So his passing wasn't as traumatic for me as it seemed to be for some. But I felt like I knew this guy. And I liked - and admired - him a lot. So news of his death has solemnized what should have been a wonderful day:
Tony Snow, Former White House Press Secretary and FOX News Anchor, Dies at 53
Fox News

Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary and conservative pundit who bedeviled the press corps and charmed millions as a FOX News television and radio host, died Saturday after a long bout with cancer. He was 53.

A syndicated columnist, editor, TV anchor, radio show host and musician, Snow worked in nearly every medium in a career that spanned more than 30 years.

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend Tony Snow," President Bush said in a written statement. "The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character." (link)
I think it was his self-deprecating sense of humor that made him such a likeable person. And the fact that Tony was a rock-solid conservative made him even more enjoyable to watch on TV. He'll truly be missed.