Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I, DNC credentialed reporter...

This week will certainly be a rush, as I was approved for DNC press credentials as part of Catholic News Agency at very late notice. So late that we have had very little preparation time, so leads are welcome either in the comments or at my new e-mail at (PR.joneskevinj) over at, let's distract the spammers, gmail.com.

I have already suffered through the LGBT Caucus, where Tim Gill conveniently provided to all hearers a synopsis of his $150 million dollar-tossing strategy to eradicate lawmakers and laws which disapprove of his sexual behavior.

Certain pro-life Democrat events are also on my schedule. Perhaps I'll even run into Jill Stanek.

And, reader, have you heard about the 5,000-strong Latino pro-family rally? Me neither.

Limping around LoDo during convention time is sure to be memorable, despite the incessant boosterism of the political convention.

There is a treatise to be written on the transient brevity similar to protesters' signs and e-mail spam. This hypothetical document could cite Alisdair MacIntyre's remarks on protest and emotivism. What do these people praising peace, anarchy, or Fox News hope to accomplish besides appearing in a digital photo to be forgotten with haste?

Further, someone must explain to the Washington Post that few people in Denver actually have an "inferiority complex" in comparison to other cities. Most of us, if we even bother, just affect inferiority to flatter people from back east, who after all are our guests.

(I include my picture in case any of my internet acquaintances happen to be in town.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A new blog about the New Catholic Politics

Mark Stricherz has set up a new blog, New Catholic Politics, where we are sure to find insighful commentary on the progress (and plights) of Catholic Democrats in particular and American life in general.

He describes the purpose of his site thusly:
This site seeks to uphold the three cardinal virtues: faith, hope, and love. It believes that those virtues are under attack from three sources: secularism, elitism, and relativism. We Americans have too little faith and are too materialistic and individualistic. We ought to be more faith-filled, family-oriented, and civic minded.

Would that these diagnoses and ideals were more obvious to everyone!

While he says that his political content will as much as possible be rooted in the principles of the natural law, I hope he retains the political realism which marked his analysis of Why the Democrats are Blue.

It's worth highlighting some of Stricherz's remarks on the prospective Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Sticherz notes that even though many commenters are hastily presuming Sen. Casey will address pro-life concerns, the content of his speech is not confirmed. He suggests the Casey lecture is a "trial balloon" to test pro-choice activists' reaction.

Further, Stricherz makes a necessary sally against the wishful thinking of pro-life Democrats:
“I think that pro-lifers in the Democratic Party are na├»ve,” he said. “They don’t seem to realize the power of the abortion industry and the feminists in the party. At least publicly, pro-life Democrats’ rhetoric says ‘the party can change if it just does a few things’.”

“No,” Stricherz countered, “the party has to negotiate with the feminists and the abortion industry, and those folks have no interest in negotiating. They’ve got what they want.”

Stark but true.

Note that Stricherz will be speaking at the Archdiocese of Denver on September 23.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A backgrounder on Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia

With the American media focused upon the smog problem in Beijing and the bright, shiny medal objects soon to be awarded to athletes there, the escalation of the Russia-Georgia conflict on the eve of the Olympics took many by surprise.

Fortunately Stratfor.com provides an informative overview of the recent action, concentrating especially upon the puzzling and provocative opening move of Georgia into South Ossetia:
It is inconceivable that the Americans were unaware of Georgia’s mobilization and intentions. It is also inconceivable that the Americans were unaware that the Russians had deployed substantial forces on the South Ossetian frontier. U.S. technical intelligence, from satellite imagery and signals intelligence to unmanned aerial vehicles, could not miss the fact that thousands of Russian troops were moving to forward positions. The Russians clearly knew the Georgians were ready to move. How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the posture of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed the possibility that the Russians had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?

It is very difficult to imagine that the Georgians launched their attack against U.S. wishes. The Georgians rely on the United States, and they were in no position to defy it. This leaves two possibilities. The first is a massive breakdown in intelligence, in which the United States either was unaware of the existence of Russian forces, or knew of the Russian forces but — along with the Georgians — miscalculated Russia’s intentions. The second is that the United States, along with other countries, has viewed Russia through the prism of the 1990s, when the Russian military was in shambles and the Russian government was paralyzed.


Putin revealed an open secret: While the United States is tied down in the Middle East, American guarantees have no value. This lesson is not for American consumption.


The Russians knew the United States would denounce their attack. This actually plays into Russian hands. The more vocal senior leaders are, the greater the contrast with their inaction, and the Russians wanted to drive home the idea that American guarantees are empty talk.

"Intelligence failure" is in the race for the worst and most oft-repeated euphemism of the early twenty-first century.

Perhaps successful diplomacy never makes the news, leaving only obvious failures in the public eye.

However, the repeated disasters of oblivious American foreign policy are highly dispiriting.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fred Barnes examines Colorado's new left-wing thinktanks

Fred Barnes has written a passable report in the Weekly Standard on the progress of left-leaning think tanks in Colorado. Barnes repeats the accusation that the prominent ColoradoPols.com blog suckles at the Democratic teat, an accusation which the blog owners have repeatedly denied.

However, he voices some plausible comments on the synergy created between like-minded partisan groups who can create an echo-chamber in the news:
It works quite simply. The investigative arm uncovers some alleged wrongdoing by a Republican candidate or official or plays up what someone else has claimed. Then Ethics Watch steps in and demands an official investigation, and ProgressNowAction.org jumps on the story. This is synergy at work. It spurs political chatter. Finally, the mainstream media are forced to report on it.

His examination of wealthy homosexual Democrats' targeting of social conservatives also lines up with other reports.

Barnes rightly notes that the flood of money offers an excuse for Republicans' "tailspin," but also suggests social conservative concerns face enemies within their own party:
Absent the Democratic headwind, [Senate candidate Bob] Schaffer would have a reasonable chance of winning. But his prospects could be further hampered by an antiabortion referendum on the ballot this November declaring that life begins at conception. If abortion becomes a major issue, Schaffer, who is pro-life, might lose the votes of suburban Republican women.

While an out-of-state pundit's insight into Colorado affairs is questionable, it is significant that Schaffer himself has backed away from Proposition 48, an idealistic but premature endeavor whose collection of over 100,000 signatures was a surprise to many.

Missing from Barnes' analysis is consideration of the factions involved in local politics and whether these well-funded think tanks do more than provide commercial spam and employment opportunities for college-educated partisans.

Ethics Watch, for instance, looks to be targeting intra-party enemies of a certain set of Democratic leaders to provide a facade of even-handedness to its vendettas. It is doubtful Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher would have appeared on their "rogues' gallery" of allegedly most corrupt public officials had the trustworthy Gallagher not made enemies among the Denver establishment during his tenure as a Denver city councilman. Gallagher's enemies only increased when he exposed the patronage jobs of Mayor Wellington Webb's administration.

Perhaps Barnes' largest flaw, however, rests in his obliviousness to Colorado's demographic change. He writes as though he believes well-funded scribbling can win elections.

PickAFig: social bookmarking for Catholics

PickAFig.com aims to be the digg for Catholic matters.

Best of luck to them. These clones often run into trouble and go extinct. Perhaps this is because their focus is too narrow or because their target audience is already using their model and sees no need for a duplicate.

Further, those who make a niche-targeted version of a more popular site often lack that novelty, creativity and dedication which made their model succeed.

In less than a week of operation, PickAFig has picked up about 80 registered users. A good start, but not enough.