Another C-SPAN Morning, and a very unhappy vote…

I’m watching the vote as the Republican majority votes on debate rules to defund National Public Radio. So far all Republicans are voting to cut the funds and all Democrats are voting to save the funding. If it keeps up like this, NPR has no chance.

C-SPAN is taking in phone calls during the vote, alternating between Democrats and Republicans, and the trend among callers of both parties is that NPR should keep its funding. Oh, there are a few who are supporting it because they claim it’s the government telling people what to watch (where they get that from, I don’t know.)

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Oil Spill Tracker

If you haven't seen this before, it's a pretty cool widget from the PBS NewsHour. It also comes in a version with the six live video feeds:

The good news is that BP, not that they can be trusted to tell us this kind of information but whatever, is now hoping to have the spill contained as early as the day after tomorrow (Monday) and relieved within two weeks. They've been ahead of schedule thanks to sheer luck so far, but are now intentionally speeding things up and multi-tasking - perhaps dangerously so - to take advantage of a short window of good weather.

In other BP-related news, Repub Senate candidate Rand Paul continues to be an uninformed apologist for BP.

Paul said Thursday that BP should pay for the Gulf cleanup, but that [the] Obama administration's sharp rhetoric could help imperil the company.

"I don't want them to go out of business when they can't pay for the mess, and that's what that kind of rhetoric could do," he said. "I want BP to be in business so it can afford to pay for the mess."

BP said this week it has spent $3.12 billion so far in response to the spill, including attempting to contain oil, paying claims and reimbursing the U.S. and local governments. By comparison, BP posted $17 billion in profit from its vast operations around the globe last year....

[Democrat Jack Conway, that state's attorney general, said,] "Accountability is not going on national TV and saying that it's un-American to go after British Petroleum. Accountability is not having a world view where you think the government basically should never touch business whatsoever."

Help Conway out at ActBlue.

Jim Lehrer's Guidlines Of "MacNeil/Lehrer Journalism"

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, renamed last week the PBS NewsHour, is hardly perfect journalism. FAIR is certainly not a fan, quantitatively documenting in 1990, 1995, and most recently in October 2006 that Republicans are featured more often than Democrats, that women make up just 18% of the guest list, and that only 4% of guests are "public interest advocates" and over 75% are "elites" such as government officials (50%). (I would be interested to see if the numbers on Democrats and women have changed since the Democratic take-over of Congress and Clinton's presidential campaign.)

Nevertheless, while the NewsHour is no NOW or Bill Moyers Journal, Lehrer and his team do approach the news with a certain seriousness and depth that is virtually non-existent on television anymore, and that is worth our appreciation if not our outright respect. Last week in a piece about the show's latest changes (new name, revamped website, etc.), Lehrer outlined his "guidelines... of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism." Regardless of whether or not you feel the NewsHour follows these practices, they are worthy standards that every journalist should aim for, and Lehrer is to be applauded for at least setting them in an era where few do. Would that every journalist kept them in mind - especially the last one, "I am not in the entertainment business."

  • Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  • Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
  • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • Assume personal lives are a private matter, until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
  • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes, except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • I am not in the entertainment business.

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My Congressman is the Nation's Most Conservative Blue Dog

Update: A friend called me and said the town hall meeting was getting pretty crowded and crazy an hour beforehand when I was planning to show up 30 minutes early, so I didn't go. End update.

Of all the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, Walt Minnick of Idaho might be the most conservative. And he's my Congressman.

If you've heard me call Paul Hodes my Congressman before, it's because I spent four years going to college in New Hampshire, but I'm back in my old high school stomping grounds of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho now, where Minnick narrowly beat one-term Republican Bill Sali last November. Minnick is certainly conservative: He voted against Obama's budget, a vote little ole budget hawk me agreed with. He voted against the stimulus, a vote I disagreed with but understood. He voted against cap-and-trade, and I was outraged. Now he's promising to vote against a public option and thus threatening to vote against health care reform.

No matter what you think of Minnick specifically or of the Blue Dogs in general, let me tell you something about the Congressman he beat, Bill Sali: I would rather be represented by Michelle Bachmann or Heaven-help-me Tom Tancredo than I would that fool. This was a man whose first bill was one to repeal the effects of gravity, who repeatedly insisted that abortions cause breast cancer, and who was opposed by the state's previous two Republican state speakers and both of his main primary opponents. And yet, if our second Democrat in five decades votes against both cap-and-trade AND health care reform, I will no longer be able to support him.

You may be asking, why am I bringing up Minnick now? Two reasons. One, I am going to try and attend a town hall meeting with him tonight, and two, he was profiled on the PBS NewsHour last night. Here's that clip, and I'll tuck a four-minute CNN piece from earlier this month after the jump as well.

The rodeo scenes are a fair enough depiction of this district, although the pictures of the lakes, forests, and timber trucks in the shorter CNN clip (after the jump) are a bit closer to home. Overall, these two pieces do a pretty good job of representing a Blue Dog's dilemma: On the one hand, if Minnick supports a liberal president's agenda, he will almost certainly lose re-election in one of the most conservative districts in the country. On the other hand, when health care reform failed in 1993-4, it was the conservative and moderate Democrats who paid the price, not the liberals. All politics used to be local, but that's changed with the 24-news-hour cycle. Perhaps Minnick's opposition to cap-and-trade and the public option is based on personal convictions, and if so, I probably won't support him but at least I'll respect him. If, however, it's political, he has to ask himself two questions: What's worse, a national wave or local backlash? And in his move to the right, will he alienate more Democrats than he picks up Republicans? It is the libertarian politics of this forested gem of a district far more than the opinions of New York, DC, or Los Angeles PACs and 527s that will be on Walt's mind next November. If you can understand that, then you understand a Blue Dog's dilemma.

I'll let you know how the town hall meeting goes, if I'm able to get in.

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URGENT ACTION REQUIRED! pbs poll on Palin for VP!

From a friend in Alaska:

PBS is conducting an online poll right now which asks people to vote on whether or not they believe Sarah Palin is qualified to run for Vice President of the US.  It seems the Republican machine has flooded the poll w/"yes" votes and we have a urgent need for everyone to hurry and put in a reality check.  

Here's the website:  

Vote and spread the word!

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