Annapolis

You May Want To Listen To This: AG Debate Link And Analysis

Last week, the candidates for attorney general, Republican Senator Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Delegate Steve Shannon, both of Fairfax, had only their second debate and the first that was broadcast — but only on Washington radio station WTOP-AM. (Democrat debate ducking has been taken to a whole new level this year.) What's particularly perplexing is the lack of coverage the media has affored the few debates that have taken place in any of the three statewide races, especially given the media's endless pontificating about elections and issues versus slick and negative advertising. (With only a handful of debates, it sure doesn't take a lot to cover them, either.) Yet, three candidates repeatedly refuse to debate (despite being well behind in the polls) and, when there is one, it is not on statewide television.

But we did have that one AG debate on WTOP's The Politics Program with Mark Plotkin (listen here). The highlight seems to be Delegate Shannon's "I am a pro-business, law and order centrist," comment when, in fact, he has a 100-percent AFL-CIO voting record (see AFL-CIO here) and has received nearly $150,000 in campaign contributions from big labor during his six years in the General Assembly — $120,000 of which has come during his attorney general run (see VPAP.org). 

What makes the statement even more astonishing is that Delegate Shannon attended a seminar in mid-September in Annapolis, Md., put on by the Democrat Attorneys General Association, that taught attorneys general how to sue companies into achieving liberal, extremist environmental policies not won through the legislative process. A suit-filing, job-killing AG. Now that's business friendly.

As if that wasn't enough, when it was Delegate Shannon's turn to ask the one question each candidate was allowed to ask of the other, he asked Senator Cuccinelli about global warming and "cap and trade." If this is so important, why do Delegate Shannon's television ads stress Internet predators?

Instead, he wants to sue employers into closing down, such as the MeadWestvaco plant in Creigh Deeds' own senate district. Read here what company Vice President Mark George wrote in an op-ed about the affect "cap and trade" would have on its Alleghany factory. It's liberal strategy to redefine terms (marriage comes to mind), but instead of coming down the middle, Delegate Shannon comes right down Leftist Lane. 

Who Says Bloggers Can't Fill The Gap?

Hopefully, you've perused the March 3 News Stand. In it, I bring to readers' attention an article by The Washington Post's Marc Fisher who laments that economic downsizing has led to a reduction in media coverage of state government in Richmond and Annapolis. Among the Mainstream Media, he notes, several newspapers have reduced the number of reporters at the capitols, about half as many in Virginia as there used to be, and that only one Virginia television station still maintains a bureau in capitol square. Alas, he maintains, despite the explosion of new media —blogs in particular — it isn't enough to fill the gaps left by the reduction of full-time journalists. Says who? While we won't be pretentious enough to claim bloggers fill the exact same role as political beat journalists, especially the old-fashioned five W's objective reporters — those days disappeared along with the buggy whip manufacturers anyway — we can say, speaking for ourselves, that bloggers have more than replaced what passed for electronic media coverage of the legislature. Never more than sound byte "journalism," exactly how much depth do viewers get from one- and two-minute television reports, or 30-second updates on radio?  

Perhaps Mr. Fisher should have looked at our blog during session (see Capitol Square Diary) and our YouTube page. Everyone should. At last count we had 23 videos posted there, almost all concerning the General Assembly, and many of them from committee hearings. Not five- or 10-second sound bytes, but full testimonies and questions and answers between committee members and witnesses, not to mention the committee votes. Ahh, the votes.

Often what passes for news coverage of devious parliamentary gimmicks that kill bills without the legislators going on record is the media's complyingly innocuous, "the bill died in committee." But how? We show you! Which is something, that no matter how many television or radio station bureaus there are, never seems to be told. We don't let the politicians escape, unlike the Mainstream Media. I'm not sure why Mr. Fisher doesn't think that's laudable.

The fact is, the new media is here and will continue to grow in outlets as well as users, evolve in its delivery mechanisms (we were just getting used to blogs, then Facebook, when Twitter came around), and increase in importance. If that's to the Mainstream Media's demise, so be it. But if the MSM is at least partly responsible for its own demise for its complacency in  seeing the future, it surely is fully responsible for its diminishing presence by its lack of depth of coverage and its flat-out distortations of its coverage of politics and policy.

Apparently, what matters most to MSM apologists is numbers — after all, what can legitimize the biased MSM other than to say tens of thousands read their publications or watch their broadcasts? It certainly isn't in the quality or depth of coverage. But the velocity of change in information consumption is happening faster than a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. So new media audience numbers will grow in time. Of course, expecting the MSM to acknowledge that is like expecting them to cover a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. It rarely, if ever, happens.

Holy Cow! Someone DID Call The ACLU!

On June 25, I sarcastically wrote that someone needed to call the ACLU because Fort Lee scheduled a concert of Christian and Gospel music. It's not as if the ACLU doesn't have a track record here: It has spouted its most tenuous of all its "separation of church and state" claims into the ranks of the military before, especially when the Boy Scouts contracted the use of one of its bases (Fort A.P. Hill) for its Jamboree a few years ago because the Boy Scouts recognize God. ("God forbid!" the atheist said.) Well now! Who is to say we don't have an influence around these here parts? Look what we found in The Washington Post, datelined June 25 (click here for entire article):  

The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue the U.S. Naval Academy unless it abolishes its daily lunchtime prayer, saying that some midshipmen have felt pressured to participate.

In a letter to the Naval Academy, Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, said it was "long past time" for the academy to discontinue the tradition. She said the practice violates midshipmen's freedom to practice religion as their conscience leads them.

We like the Naval Academy's response:

The Naval Academy rejected the ACLU's request that the prayer be eliminated.

"The academy does not intend to change its practice of offering midshipmen an opportunity for prayer or devotional thought during noon meal announcements," the university said in a statement. It said that some form of prayer has been offered for midshipmen at meals since the school's founding, in 1845, and that it is "consistent with other practices throughout the Navy."

This prayer is voluntary. If those in training to defend our country want to give thanks and receive the blessings through the strength of group prayer to the Lord their Creator throughout this process, they have every right. If they have not a care, a minute of silence might do them good in the bustle of an Annapolis day. If it makes them better officers to defend America, why should the atheists care? Who does this hurt, except our country, if this moment of prayer benefits us with the best possible officers? Shouldn't we all want the best possible officers? 

We want to publicly offer our apologies to the entire U.S. Military and, in particular, the United States Naval Academy for any role we may have had in this nuisance of an inconvenience brought on by the busy bodies at the ACLU, who constantly look for a solution where there are only imaginary problems regarding church and state. So, while we have nothing against West Point, in this instance, we're fully behind the Middies.  

GO NAVY!