Archive for the ‘Local news’ Category

The Curious Case of Benjamin Cardin’s Delusion

3 April 2009

In today’s Post, our fearless senator offers what he deems to be a plausible, sound solution to the agonizing decline of the daily print newspaper. As the editor of a print-only newspaper and a curmudgeonly ol’ crank of a conservative with serious delusions of romanticism, I am more than sympathetic, and seriously hope that we see a resurgence in print newspaper output, readership, and quality, whether it relies on or spurns the Internet. Thus, it was with open-minded interest I read Sen. Cardin’s opinion today, in which he defends his Newspaper Revitalization Act, under the auspices of which newspapers could “operate under 501(c)(3) status for educational purposes, similar to public broadcasters.”

How silly I was to give a Maryland Democrat serving in the great morass of amorality and state-philia! An excerpt:

Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements but would be permitted to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns. They would be able to editorialize and take positions on issues affecting their communities. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt, and contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax-deductible.

First, we have in our Senate someone so naïve as to think that curbing political endorsements would suffice to prevent de facto endorsements — of specific candidates, parties, or platform planks (“take positions on issues affect their communities” sounds awfully close, at least in some instances, to implicitly endorsing someone). Second, “tax-exempt” is just a libertarian-and-“public do-gooder”-friendly way of saying “bailout,” isn’t it? The journalists’ bailout has arrived!

The measure is targeted at local newspapers serving communities, not large newspaper conglomerates. There is little chance these conglomerates would find such an arrangement appealing because they depend on a revenue stream to remain operational. I want to make clear that this proposal would involve no infusion of federal taxpayer money. In fact, because newspaper profits have fallen in recent years, no substantial loss of federal revenue is expected.

As much as I possibly could get behind this bill, the anti-bigness populist streak in me certainly support this; however, the idea of letting government extend its hand deeper into the pants of the Fourth Estate terrifies me. The media consensus, far from being part of some vast, conspiratorial “liberal media,” is that of the status quo, of the Establishment. Ragtag local papers may, I willingly grant, be less inclined to accept the status quo, particularly at the federal level, given the physical distance separating Capitol Hill from Starke County, IN, but allowing local media to slip under the covers with Uncle Sam is just plain dirty.

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Yes, ma’am — er, sir. Or whichever it is.

10 September 2008

From the Washington Post:

A Montgomery County law banning discrimination against transgender people took effect yesterday, county attorneys said, after the state’s highest court rejected a petition effort that would have forced the issue to a referendum.

Had, here in tolerant Maryland, this been a cause célèbre opposed by left-wingers, I wonder if a referendum would have been issued.

Totalitarian America and Prince George’s County

18 August 2008

By now, we’ve all, likely, heard the sad story of the brutal murder of two dogs owned by Mayor Cheye Calvo of nearby Berwyn Heights, and the physical attack on the mayor, his wife, and his mother-in-law in a poorly managed, un-Constitutional, and case-of-the-wrong-person attack on his home, conducted by the ever righteous Prince George’s County Police and SWAT team. On @TAC, the web-log of The American Conservative magazine, Kelly Vlahos has written a worth-the-while post on the pernicious effects of post-9/11, USA PATRIOT Act totalitarian America, which begins with a re-telling of the Calvo story and the provision of some disturbing news about how local law enforcement conducted itself.

Writes Vlahos at one point:

When the Patriot Act was first passed in 2002, right wing advocates demanded fealty, while assuring the new police and prosecutorial powers would never be abused — that they were essential in the Global War on Terrorism. Well, beginning with the use of the Patriot Act to investigate a Las Vegas strip club operator who was bribing local officials in 2003, there is now a well-documented trail of abuses.

But despite all the data, the striking-down of Patriot Act provisions as unconstitutional in federal courts across the country, the drip-drip of revelations by the White House and the Justice Department, the establishment organ — cranked by its foot soldiers — maintains the illusion that the abuses are rare, and still, if you are innocent, you have nothing to fear.

Nothing to fear, just as Cheye Calvo had nothing to fear.