infrastructure

Obama New $50 Billion Stimulus the Definition of Insanity

Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By that definition President Obama has gone insane. Or perhaps he’s not so much insane as he is just suffering from a bout of memory loss. Does he not remember how badly his previous effort at pumping money into the economy went? Nevertheless, here we are, a year and a half later and creeping unemployment remains undeterred by the federal government’s intervention and the President is pitching another stimulus.

By politically necessity this one is much smaller. He’s decided to take a piecemeal approach, breaking the approach into three prongs: (1) $50 billion in infrastructure improvements, (2) a R&D tax credit extension, and (3) an investment tax rebate. Nevermind that President Obama attempted to sell his $800 billion stimulus plan last February by listing previous “failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis” including “that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures.” Sounds to me like he’s embraced the piecemeal approach. Must be that memory loss.

The worst of the plan is President Obama’s decision to throw $50 billion at infrastructure improvements. After all, what happened to all those “shovel-ready” infrastructure jobs that the first stimulus was supposed to contain? An even better question was posed in this Investor’s Business Daily editorial,

But why in the world do we need another stimulus when we’re not even close to exhausting the funds allocated for the last one?

This when $275 billion of the original $838 billion has still yet to be doled out. More specifically, less than a third of the $230 billion allocated to infrastructure projects has been spent. So with literally hundreds of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure investment still pending, why are we tacking on an additional $50 billion?

Well, because it sounds good. 150,000 miles of roads will be rebuilt. 4,000 miles of rail will be constructed or maintained. 150 miles of runways will be rehabilitated.

But while Obama was clear about how many miles of pavement or tracks would be laid, there was never a hint of how many jobs would be created. Apparently, the government is finally getting out of the “jobs created or saved” business. What it should be getting out of is the stimulus business altogether. The first one was an utter failure. In the last quarter the economy grew at 1.6 percent – not even fast enough to keep unemployment stable, much less than the speed necessary to actually create jobs. In fact the economy shed 54,000 jobs in August, a depressing finale to what was billed as the “Recovery Summer.”

The only true history made by the stimulus bill was the record levels of debt and deficits it has wrought upon America’s balance sheet. As the CBO wrote in their latest Budget and Economic Outlook, “relative to the size of the economy, this year’s deficit is expected to be the second largest shortfall in the past 65 years.” I’m betting you could guess what year had the largest. Things are not projected to get much better. As the CBO explains, “Beyond the 10-year budget window, the nation will face daunting long-term fiscal challenges . . . Continued large deficits and the resulting increases in federal debt over time would reduce long-term economic growth.”

$50 billion is not the cure to our problems, it only adds to them. The economic multiplier effect of Keynesian economics only works in theory. In the harsh reality we live in businesses care little for economic theory. They care about their bottom lines. They care about an uncertain policy environment clouded by an activist government. They care about how much taxes they are going to have to pay now, and in the future, as we are forced to pay for this unprecedented spending binge.

Democrats have already gone “all in” on their original stimulus package. They gambled with taxpayer money and lost. Now they want to ante up another $50 billion. But they’ve tried spending us out of this recession over and over again. Can we really expect different results this time around? A sane question likely to be ignored by an out-of-touch Washington.

by Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee

http://speakout.crnc.org/blog/2010/09/08/trying-the-same-thing-but-expecting-different-results/

Big Brother wants to ride shotgun in your car

I'm a near RINO from the suburban Northeast who supported Rudy Giuliani and the Patriot Act.

So when my back is up about a proposal as being destructive of civil liberties, maybe this is something that might resonate with the apolitical general public

Oregon looks at taxing mileage instead of gasoline

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/03/AR2009010300412.html

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon is among a growing number of states exploring ways to tax drivers based on the number of miles they drive instead of how much gas they use, even going so far as to install GPS monitoring devices in 300 vehicles. The idea first emerged nearly 10 years ago as Oregon lawmakers worried that fuel-efficient cars such as gas-electric hybrids could pose a threat to road upkeep, which is paid for largely with gasoline taxes. ......

In Oregon's pilot program, officials equipped 300 vehicles with GPS transponders that worked wirelessly with service station pumps, allowing drivers to pay their mileage tax just as they do their gas tax.

Whitty said the test, which involved two gas stations in the Portland area, proved the idea could work.

Though the GPS devices did not track the cars' locations in great detail, they could determine when a driver had left certain zones, such as the state of Oregon. They also kept track of the time the driving was done, so a premium could be charged for rush-hour mileage.

Another concern is that such devices could threaten privacy. Whitty said he and his task force have assured people that the program does not track detailed movement and that driving history is not stored and cannot be accessed by law enforcement agencies.

"I think most people will come to realize there is really no tracking issue and will continue to buy new cars," Whitty said, noting that many cell phones now come equipped with GPS, which has not deterred customers.

Well, Mr. Whitty, last time I checked Verizon didn't bill me based on where I made my calls. I also can turn off my cell phone, now can't I.  Verizon also is not the government.

Let's look at this extraordinary proposal. I'm sure Oregon needs money to fix roads and maybe the gas tax is obsolete. Fine. But do we need to respond by creating a system where the location of every vehicle in the state is tracked every moment of every day on whatever road it gets driven on?

I have an EZ Pass to speed my way through toll booths in NY State, NJ  and MA. They've been very effective in divorce litigation to puncture alibis.  This would be taking that de minimis privacy violation (one can choose not to use EZ Pass) and placing it on steroids.

I'm not buying "the technology is primitive" argument. I've seen pictures of my house on Google Earth where the color of my car in the driveway was easily visible. I have little doubt a GPS tax tracker will become equally detailed.

There is also the fact that once the American public buys into allowing their cars to be tracked morning, noon and night by the government all you fans of the Second Amendment will find this puts limits on gun registration on the road straight to Heller.   (yep, you can't ban guns but we'll put tracking chips on all of 'em)

I recall Chris Dodd shut down the Senate when the FISA act was used to "invade the privacy" of a few terrorists calling overseas. I'm sure now the Senator will voice outrage that technology would be used to track the whereabouts of every law abiding citizen in a, ahem "Countrywide" fashion?   Right? It's one thing to trade some freedom for security. See Justice Jackson's take on this. 

 Trading our liberties to make the taxman's job a bit easier? What of that, our liberal friends?

There's a reasonable , less intrusive way to implement this. If the state wants to tax the use of certain roads and do "time of day' pricing in congested urban areas, just put up old fashioned toll booths and let people get EZ Pass if they choose. And if they want to do a mileage tax, make it like the 1040 and require drivers to self assess annually. The shortage (if any) can be paid at sale or trade in of the car by checking the odometer and collecting the shortfall then at time of transaction.

Simple, proven and no privacy concerns.

But the bigger implications here is that liberals want to change behavior and know about behavior. It's not about collecting the most money the most effiicient way possible to pay for their stuff.  Many people in government aren't mercantilists, they are social engineers.

And a database of personal whereabouts is a virtual treasure trove for them to correct our behavior. Maybe I should trust the goverment with this personal data.  After all, this stuff is never used to harass political opponents, now is it? 

Now , you might think... this is just some tree hugging state on the Left Coast out to impose itself on its populace. Not so. This is gonna to be , as ZZ Top sang, bad, and nationwide

There is kind of a coalition that's naturally forming around this.....

Congress is talking about it, too. A congressional commission has envisioned a system similar to the prototype Oregon tested in 2006-2007.

The National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing is considering calling for higher gas taxes to keep highways, bridges and transit programs in good shape.

But over the long term, commission members say, the nation should consider taxing mileage rather than gasoline as drivers use more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles.

As cars burn less fuel, "the gas tax isn't going to fill the bill," said  Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committeehttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/03/AR2009010300412.html

 

We are likely to see a tsunami of lefty social engineering proposals try and blitz a dazed public in the first weeks of the Obama Administration. I would like to think this is one socialist vehicle that ought to be disabled in the driveway before it gets down the road and runs down the Fourth Amendment.  

Who's with me?

Sorry, Mike: Barack is not like Ike

The usually erudite Michael Barone has lapsed into a bit too much holiday cheer, I fear.

He recently has expressed hope that the President-elect, Barack Obama, will resemble Dwight Eisenhower. 

Now, apart from the fact an infantry officer from West Point does not equate to a community organizer from Harvard Law School, let's look at the one resemblance:an interest in infrastructure  

Eisenhower's signature project was the Interstate Highway system . The program is still a major national asset and was constructed at current dollar price of less than $500 billion.It was paid by user fees, not deficit spending

During Eisenhower's years in office the federal debt burden as a percentage of GNP fell dramatically

Compare this with Obamanomics, a trillion dollar grab bag of odds and ends which are unlikely to make a lasting difference in our nation's economic future, like golf courses in resort communities. 

And remember the perennial Democrat pledge "to make America respected in the world". Well, our profligate fiscal policies are not winning friends across the pond.   As the UK's Financial Times pointed out

This is a dangerous tactic. America is already estimated to have a $12 trillion debt pile — roughly 70 per cent of gross domestic product. America’s annual deficit has now hit the highest level since the Second World War, running at an equivalent of about 7 per cent of GDP, surpassing the previous record in the early Reagan years of 6.5 per cent.

Having been born in 1959, I was an infant during the Eisenhower years, therefore I can't credibly do the Lloyd Bentsen speech. But even a cursory review can demonstrate Barack Obama is no Dwight Eisenhower.

 

 

The New New Deal: Senior Centers and Salt Sheds

Here's a look at the brave new old world of make work taxpayer funded pork barrel projects.

The lobbying group for CT municipalities has amassed a wish list of over $2.8 billion in "shovel-ready" projects it claims would be worthy recipients of President-elect Obama's largesse.

Get your nostrils ready for a pungent smell test .

http://ccm-ct.org/advocacy/2007-2008/ready_to_go_121108.pdf

Darien--perhaps the state's richest town--- "needs" $17 million for a new police station.

Clinton--population 15,000---thinks it has a variety of ways to spend a mere $74 million; including dredging a pond. 

East Hartford thinks a new senior center ought to cost $30 million

New Fairfield--which has virtually no pedestrian traffic---needs to finish its "downtown' sidewalks

New Haven has a mere $506 million in wishes, including this cryptic $20 million item . "Prospect/Trumbull area for CSO in conjunction with GNHWPCA" Thankfully, its Mayor was not elected Governor in 2006 or the state would have already filed for Chapter  9 (the municipal version of Chapter 11).    

Newtown has $132 million in needs; although one wonders if the design and bid for the high school at $40 million is a bit duplicative of the $42 million for the high school addition. Double counting?

Portland needs $1.5 million for a public boat launch. Guess this beats floating a bond, eh?

Putnam must have $13 million for a community center with a swimming pool. 

Stamford---run by the other Democrat who wanted Jodi Rell's job in 2006--needs only $478 million. This list includes $4 million for an "absorbsion chiller"; $48,000 for foreign language classes for officers, and $164,000 to train K-9's. Who said our economy is going to the dogs?

Westport is looking for $7.2 million. including $200,000 for the Longshore Golf Club halfway house. Is this for golfers in rehab? Guess financial times there are tough since Martha moved away? 

Wethersfield has among its $4.175 million in urgent needs building a "gateway entrance" at the north end of town. Trust me, You don't need to spend a dime to know when you've left the City of Hartford.

Woodbury needs another $2.5 million for a salt shed. Guess global warming isn;t here yet.

Folks, we are going to be treated to the biggest pork fest in human history under President Obama. My suggestion is to watch in awe and try not to get in front of the trough.

    

 

I Got Yer Ideology Right Here

"The Democratic Strategist" Ed Kilgore critiques the Rebuild the Party plan: 

And as you may also know, most of the participants in this debate begin by asserting that the problems of the GOP are not fundamentally ideological, or if they are, it's just a matter of insufficient conservatism, or insufficient consistency. Those would-be reformers like Ross Douthat who suggest the old-time religion of small-government conservatism could use a reformation aren't making a lot of headway. Nobody's much in the mood to topple any Ronald Reagan statues. ...

What jumps out at any reader of "Rebuild the Party" is the virtual invisibility of any ideological issues, and the extent to which the "plan" is a faithful imitation of the nutsier and boltsier sections of Crashing the Gate, the book-length 2006 netroots manifesto written by Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong. There's lots about the revolutionary nature of the internet as a vehicle for organizing, fundraising, and communications; lots about the need for a younger and more diverse generation of activists and candidates; lots about rebuilding party infrastructure and competing in all fifty states.

Our agnosticism in the ideological debate is something we've heard from both right and left, but I think this misses the point. The point of the Rebuild the Party plan, at least to start, is to influence the next RNC Chairman's agenda. And the RNC Chairman's job is a non-ideological one. It is about the nuts and bolts of party building.

Beyond that, we also want to provide a platform for different people in the party to self-organize around their (often ideological) vision for the future. The #1 idea we have posted is "Reach Out to Ron Paul and the Campaign for [Liberty]." The Paulites have used new tools to show activist muscle far beyond their raw numbers, and instead of vilifying them, we ought to be learning from them -- even if you personally don't agree with them.

There is also a natural division of labor. The Next Right is all about where the party goes next -- both from an ideological as well as an infrastructure / movement-building perspective. Rebuild the Party is about infrastructure. And I don't worry about this pre-empting a debate about policy because that argument will more naturally occur in the Republican Party than in the Democratic Party. Ed Kilgore's New Democrats rode to power in 1992 on an ideological revival, but no such ideological introspection or self-criticism was present in the Obama victory. 

I just got done writing a post about how macro factors like candidates (and ideology fits in this too) drive elections more than tactics. But it is bupkis to suggest that rebuilding our infrastructure can happen only once we've settled on an ideological direction or a leader. We need to be doing both simultaneously. We need to be building a bigger catcher's mitt to capture the enthusism of a newly energized fastball-throwing base. If that enthusiasm doesn't eventually materialize, we're going to have bigger problems than having worried about infrastructure too much. At least we built something that might be useful down the line.

Yes, Barack Obama was an incredibly charismatic candidate and the environment was against us. But don't ignore the flawlessness with which his campaign captured and reflected back that celebrity. Had Obama's camp not done things exactly right, I could easily have seen them raising $200 million instead of $500 million online. That's still huge, and still more than John McCain would ever have raised, but tactics could well have made the difference -- especially in the primary. What if Obama's money advantage had not been quite so overwhelming and he couldn't have flooded the zone quite as effectively in those caucus states? History could have been very different. Hillary Clinton might not be the one receiving the appointment.

Forget the Ideas Czar or Network: We Must Create Ideas Through Peer Production

(promoted by Soren)

Patrick Ruffini recently wrote a piece arguing that the GOP needs an “ideas czar”, while Soren Dayton disagrees, insisting that, “The beltway is the disease not the cure.” Regardless of where you stand on this argument, both Patrick and Soren raise a critical, underlying point: the Republican Party needs a way to bring new, innovative ideas to the table if it wants to find its identity and ultimately achieve electoral success.

Ruffini founded the site RebuildTheParty.com, which specifically states that the Internet must be our #1 priority over the next four years. I fully agree with this, and in this vein I think we need to utilize the Internet – and specifically, the concept of peer production, which “describes what happens when masses of people … collaborate openly to drive innovation and growth” – to accomplish our goal. Peer production is what creates content for Wikipedia and empowers websites like Digg.

Indeed, in today’s new Age of Participation, having an elite person or group of people making policy decisions and generating new ideas is a recipe for death. Although I have an enormous amount of respect for Patrick, his idea of establishing a GOP ideas czar is tantamount to maintaining the status quo in that our ideas will continue to come from the party’s established elite. An institution consisting of “politicians, academics, business leaders, think tankers, and interest groups” as Soren describes is slightly better, but ultimately it is still an exclusive group of elites.

Instead, we need to establish an open forum in which all ideas from all walks of life are welcome and taken into consideration. Everyone’s opinion is valuable as we fight to rebuild the Republican Party. Patrick has taken the first step toward this with ideas.rebuildtheparty.com, where anyone can make suggestions to enhance the RebuildTheParty.com platform, but unfortunately it’s only a baby step. In the end, the be all and end all of the Republican Party – the Republican National Committee – is not reviewing, considering, and responding to this feedback.

If we really want to create new ideas and transform the Republican Party, we cannot continue to allow a small, elite group to be the source of our ideas and policy. If we continue to do so, we risk digging a hole so deep that we may never be able to climb out. Instead, we must permanently open the Republican Party’s ideas and platforms to mass collaboration. In doing so, we can truly become the party of the people, and in turn we can take a huge step toward becoming the party of the future.

Crossposted at NextGenGOP.

The GOP Needs an Ideas Czar

Matt Moon asks whether we need a Shadow Cabinet a la the Brits? I think it's a splendid idea, but the key differences between the U.S. and British systems make it unlikely without some sort of formal party reform. To make it possible, we need a formal opposition party policy apparatus independent of the Hill and comprised of Governors, Hill leadership, and think tanks.

It's important to appreciate the differences between the U.S. and Great Britain. The British Opposition is better equipped to provide symbolic leadership and positive policy alternatives because they have few legislative responsibilities and the Government is essentially unitary, consisting primarily of the House of Commons.

Britain effectively has an elected dictatorship. Party discipline in Commons votes is very strict and there is no written Constitution or meaningful judicial check. Parties have very little power in Opposition under the British model, but near total power in Government.

This means the opposition Conservatives are freed from any real responsibility for legislating. Opposing Government bills is nowhere near the task it is here (the filibusters, the lobbying, the ad campaigns, etc.). The British also anoint their election standardbearers in the months after the defeat. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that they set the party's direction very early on and have 4-5 years to flesh it out before a new election. A curse in that new leadership is foisted on the party while it's still in shellshock and they have to essentially ride out the duds until the next election. The Conservatives have gone through four leaders since losing power in 1997: William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, and now David Cameron (who looks like he will become Prime Minister).

Contrast to the American model: the opposition has a chance to stop or amend the majority's legislation, especially in the Senate -- though usually not to see bills of our own passed into law. That makes the role of the American opposition inherently negative -- filibustering bad legislation -- in contrast to the largely symbolic Parliamentary theatrics of Great Britain -- where the Leader of the Opposition (and his Shadow Cabinet) appears on national television each week for Prime Minister's Questions and is free to act as a pseudo-executive.

A lot of the criticism post-election has focused on the notion that nobody knows what the Republican Party is for. Without reform, that problem is likely to get worse before it gets better as our primary role (quite legitimately) is to stop bad bills from becoming law before we can lay out an agenda of our own (which traditionally comes with the next Presidential nominee, and very rarely, in the midterms as with the Contract with America).

Part of the problem lies in the separation of powers. There is no shadow to the President or the cabinet. Members of Congress actually have real jobs, but they're generally apt to express a policy vision in unintelligble gobbledygook.

What we need is a policy arm independent of the existing policy infrastructure on the Hill that incorporates the best of what's happening in the states, on the Hill, and in the think tanks. A Republican National Policy Committee would be tasked with crafting a larger message that's bigger than just House Republicans or Senate Republicans, but that includes both and Governors as well. An RNPC would have de-facto last word on the elusive question of what the Republican Party is for, would appoint "shadow cabinet" spokespeople to directly respond to what's happening at the departments and agencies, and have point on crafting a Contract-like Republican platform for the midterm elections. Part think tank, part messaging engine, a Republican policy committee would keep the ideas flame alive until a Presidential nominee emerged.

The RNC can't do this because it's a campaign institution not a policy institution. The RNC Chairman is more like the chief strategist or top surrogate for a campaign than he or she is the overarching leader of the party. House and Senate Republicans can't usually rise above the din of opposition to craft an overarching alternative platform. Very few people on Main Street care about what the Senate Conference or the RSC says.

I could think of worse people for the role of Republican policy czar than Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, the policy-innovating, budget-slashing former OMB director just re-elected by 18 points while Obama was carrying the Hoosier state. Daniels may run for President in four years -- and in that case, that job should go to someone without Presidential ambitions, but the ideal chairman of the RNPC would be someone like Daniels who understands both the policy and the politics.

This is a fairly dramatic break from the structure of opposition parties. But if you take seriously the idea that we need to be advancing a more coherent policy platform, as well as directly bracketing what's happening in the White House and the regulatory agencies, not just in Congress, then it's an idea worth examining.

We need empowered donors

The progressive movement has a small group of very wealthy donors who:

  • Focus on state-based infrastructure.
  • Invest in a capacities-based model of building new political infrastructure.
  • Build outside the Democratic Party. This gives these donors many more opportunities to ensure that the organizations they fund stay true to the political ideas they care about.
  • Are mission-based. They are investing because they care about the results, not because they care about transient power, glory or bragging rights.
  • Provide day-in and day-out leadership.

Pro-liberty forces can expect losses in the future that make November 4 look like a stroll in the park in the absence of:

  • Empowered, mission-based leadership from donors.
  • A focus on investments in states.
  • The same quantity of cold hard cash in infrastructure.  The left's investment in this area has exceeded investments by those who are pro-liberty in the last four years by at least ten-to-one.
  • Adoption of a capacity-based perspective on how to effectively engage in the modern political environment. 

There are just as many very wealthy people who believe in the pro-liberty vision as there are very wealthy donors who believe in progressive ideals.  Does the pro-liberty side have a group of visionary, committed donors like Tim Gill and Pat Stryker in Colorado?

Many people in the traditional center-right movement who have access to donors appear at times to be conveying a message to those donors resembling:

  • If you give us more money, we'll take care of this problem for you.
  • Otherwise, don't worry your pretty little head.

What must instead urgently be conveyed to pro-liberty benefactors is a vision that they:

  • Adopt an empowered leadership approach to political investments.
  • Invest in their state, looking for other donors to collaborate with.
  • Invest outside the party structure so people and organizations can be held accountable to a mission-based, pro-liberty perspective.

I believe in political ideals that assert the fundamental role of individual liberty in a society where human beings flourish.  I also believe that the alternative progressive vision will lead to widespread misery, against the wishes and hopes of those who promote this way of ordering society.    The stakes are high.   We need empowered, active donors to create a level playing field in the contest between these two competing visions.

Opening Thoughts on Forming a Stronger Rightroots

I'm jumping in on this discussion about building the next right infrastructure. I’m late to the conversation but have been in the game since 1999 when I was running around trying to explain to a 55 year old State Representative what a targeted banner ad was on AOL.

 

This might be a little philosophical and meandering for some but I hope that I can use this to make a few larger points. But I do reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks at a later date.

 

Cable splintered the networks. Satellite splintered cable. The internet splintered everything all over again. Hundreds of papers have been written on the weakening of the political parties and my point is they are weak and it’s been a slow slide to the state we are currently in.  No one will argue that it is harder to get a guy to go out and canvass if you aren’t holding a job over his head. I’ll cover more on personnel later.

Political parties were weakened further still with professional consultants pushing TV advertising only campaigns to get the message out where the result became political parties taken away from their traditional focus of providing boots on the ground. Twenty years later we struggle to get people to want to run for precinct committeeman. But why TV only campaigns? Apart from that is how they lined their pockets for decades with fat 9% cuts off the ad buys. For one, the professional consulting class saw the same thing I described above. They saw a fragmented message stream with cable, more cable, TiVo, internet and satellite making it cost more and more money to move the needle. Seriously, what is 4 million of today’s money in 1992 dollars? Close to 20 million? Can you imagine the impact on the polls if Ross Perot had spent 20 million in 1992 the way Obama did last week for his infomercial? But what will be the net impact of Obama’s $4 million expenditure? Obviously it’s hard to tell at this point and because it’s historic with ad like that never being done that late in a presidential cycle.

My overarching point is the treadmill that the current political infrastructure has been under since the mid- 80’s has crumbled and with it the traditional grassroots has scattered. Not dried up, not disintegrated, just scattered and fragmented like the networks and cable before it. It’s a cascading effect and this cycle I think might be the bottom. Our flower garden of 2004 quickly grew weeds and was choked off by many things but one thing is sure the grassroots garden was not tended. It was abandoned.

Actually I’m having quite the Matrix like moment right now because the garden didn’t exist. I have to switch metaphors to make my point. Karl Rove “the Architect” built a wonderful sky scraper. And 2004 was the apex of the period of time from 1994-2004 where a skyscraper would do. Of course we have all pointed to Gingrich and the Republican Revolution and that was the beginning. I won’t be the first to say that 2006 was the end.  

I agree with John, from this moment on we have to go organic. But we have to change out mindset to do it. We are now gardeners. That’s what social networking is. That’s Web 2.0, 2.5 and beyond is. Gardening, not building a castle, I think needs to be the paradigm. This isn’t the field of dreams. Build it and they will come does not work. We have to use the internet to educate and train people to know how to use internet tools to engage and reach out to others.   

My point is I’ve always seen the internet as a means to an end and a way to pull the scattering back together. People have always moved this process. It’s about the people. Focus on the people and the messaging and money will take care of themselves.

So the question becomes: What are we not doing right with the people?

For one we aren’t educating them. You can have both a blog that has punditry and a blog that educates to action. Thomas Paine and his Common Sense pamphlet educated and told how we had gone down the wrong path and what needed to be done to get us back on track. A blogger can use his first principles to do the same.

Lincoln said “The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.”  Or as Morton Blackwell put it “Personnel is policy.”

So how do we apply that to the online right infrastructure we have been talking about?  

For those bloggers like Rick Moran it doesn’t mean being a shill for anyone. Using your first principles to educate for action will have more impact than you think. If you don’t want to carry it to the final step and get in the ring yourself than you can at least prepare the way for a younger person that looks up to you and your writing and give them the tools to make a run at getting something changed for the better.

And that’s why I lead with education. I know the crowd that is leading this discussion on building a new right infrastructure. I personally am 37 years old probably one of the older among the movers and shakers that has started this conversation. I'm not old by any means but old enough to look back and see the conservative movement I grew up with and seen the changes that have occurred that has gotten to where we are today. I see a disconnect happening with the 18-27 crowd that has to be addressed.  I am constantly looking at in the rear view mirror and looking for young people who I can snag to bring up the rear. The sad reality is the ranks are thin. I would hope the big point of this infrastructure talk is to use the internet to link back to the younger generation and help them realize that what the other side didn’t tell them in their schooling was pretty important and to spark their curiosity to learn about things that Russell Kirk points out in Roots of American Order that “all the major empires, republics, and democracies have fallen throughout the ages due to over taxation and bloated top heavy administration.” Not something I think was underscored in anyone’s High School Government class or Poly Sci 101 college class.   

So I think a large component of this infrastructure talk needs to build into it the educating of the younger activist in the first principles of conservative thinking. The result will be sowing the seeds for idea factories (new bloggers that get recruited) that will grow the influence of the ideas that we seek to re instill back into society. We have to have someone to pass the baton to. The internet can get us there.  I was very please to see this kind of thinking was incorporated into the recently launched YRNetwork community. They have an online library here.

Lincoln also said “With public sentiment anything is possible, without it, nothing is possible. “     

I’ll end this section and work on part two and three this week. I promise this is going somewhere I just want to lay out some ground work.

 

We need better information

These discussions about what an online right should look like seems to miss several points. There are distinct problems, and they need to be handled seperately. Some of these problems need to be solved organically, some will require time, but some can be solved somewhat mechanically.

One of the things that we need to solve immediately and may be susceptible to a mechanical solution is the crisis of information. The crisis of information is that righty information outlets are having incrementally less influence on the news cycle than lefty ones. The chart is from this WSJ story about the rise of the lefty blogs and specifically Huffington Post vis-a-vis Drudge. TPM, Chris Cillizza, Howard Kurtz, Halperin and others have been talking about this also.

On the list above, Townhall, Michelle Malkin, Newsbusters, and Redstate were the only sites to demonstrate triple-digit growth during the last election period, and only Redstate's and Newsbusters' was truly explosive. (full disclosure: I am a front-page contributor to both of those)

But I don't want to focus on traffic, but rather a related question: who drives the news cycle? This used to be Drudge and still is to a great degree. But any experience watching this electoral cycle will tell you that TPM and Huffington Post are essential in setting narratives and forcing campaigns and other political actors to respond to specific reported and sourced information and distributing it quickly. With that in mind, let's look at something Mark Tapscott said:

But I want to offer a third essential element in addition to punditry and activism. The RightRoots must make a top priority of equiping vastly more of our sites with the reportorial and investigative skills required to dig up and present credible exposes, fact-based analyses and concrete news stories.

In short, we've complained about liberal media bias for decades, but now that the mainstream media is steadily being displaced by online media, many of us need to become ..... journalists, or capable of doing the online analogy of traditional journalism, particularly in its investigative phase.

I would state this slightly differently. Stories are started online with HuffPo and TPM. They are completed on TV and in the newspapers. We are playing in no part of that process. One of the reasons for that is that there is no reliable place to go for fact-based conservative perspective.

This is something that we could do now. There are enough talented reporters to start training and mentorship programs for more. These people could play in the news cycle. This would not necessarily require donors to dump money on "bloggers". Rather the people would be established journalists with records.

Other parts of rebuilding the right as a coherent ideological and electoral force will depend on other things (like a coherent ideological framework linked to coherent policies). But this we can do relatively quickly and start demonstrating immediate results by attacking the terrible policies of a Democratic Congress and, potentially, a Democratic White House.

 

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