This Week’s Lesson: Don’t be a Jerk

After exposing catty gossip and American state secrets, WikiLeaks has been taken down – but not by government action.  Amazon refuses to host the site on its servers, and the quest for a new home is proving difficult.

Some proponents of internet regulation are pointing to this as an excellent reason to support net neutrality.   Like any media outlet, Wikileaks is entitled to freedom of the press; the problem here is that Amazon owns the press – and Amazon is exercising its freedom to tell Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to take a long walk off a short pier.  (Admittedly, with some coaxing from Joe Lieberman, but it’s still Amazon’s call.)

Amazon didn’t want to put up with an organization revealing state secrets for the sole reason of embarrassing America.  In short, Assange was a jerk and they no longer wanted to deal with him.

In a parallel move, the House of Representatives chastised tax cheat and self-proclaimed “honest guy” Charles Rangel.  Rangel tried to wrangle up support from his email list, sending a blast message calling on supporters to call their members of Congress and urge them to speak out against a censure vote.  (Side note: Wouldn’t most of the supporters on Rangel’s email list have Rangel as their Congressman?  This email blast couldn’t have been that effective.)

Rangel called it a “political” vote, claiming throughout the process that his 11 ethics violations did not merit the rebuke of his peers.  Yet, incredibly, rebuke him they did – overwhelmingly and in the first truly bipartisan vote Congress has seen in some time.

As Washington Times reporter Kerry Pickett found out, Rangel doesn’t view himself as someone who has to answer questions.  Maybe that’s why Rangel, like Julian Assange, ran out of friends so fast:

Is Maxine Waters about to be James O’Keefe’s next YouTube star?

Mr. ACORN pimp himself, James O’Keefe, announced via Twitter today that Rep. Maxine Waters would be the subject of his next series of videos.  Here’s the preview:

Two things are evident: O’Keefe still understands the power of online video, and he still understands the power of timing.

The ethics charges flying around various Democrats are starting to look like a trend – much like Republican scandals leading up to the 2006 election painted the picture of a power-happy party inviting a rude awakening at the hands of voters.  Getting Waters on camera in a sting operation like this could make the ethics violations very real to voter and underscore the broken promises of Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008.

But on top of that, you can’t say enough about O’Keefe’s media-savvy release strategy, either.

By releasing a teaser, O’Keefe capitalizes on this week’s news cycle about Waters and her ethics charges.  After controversy surrounding his presence in a Senate office earlier this year (and the storm surrounding his associate Andrew Breitbart’s role in the Shirley Sherrod affair), he can expect that this initial release will lead to a round of denouncement from left-leaning talking heads; for a while the story will be that James O’Keefe has a Waters video.  The Congresswoman’s office will likely be asked to comment; maybe she’ll even say something embarrassing and unwittingly drum up more coverage.

True, O’Keefe could have gotten just as much coverage this week by releasing a completed video.  But what about next week?  This strategy allows O’Keefe, after the initial frenzy, to drop a second video and get another round of coverage.  And, the vile and hatred he receives from the left this week may make the release of the full video that much more newsworthy.

If it sounds familiar, it should – it’s exactly how O’Keefe and Breitbart set up ACORN to take itself down.

Sunday Funnies: Today, all funnies are local

Charlie Rangel’s ethics problems have led to his electorally vulnerable Democrat colleagues giving back campaign donations from Rangel’s PAC in an effort to distance themselves from the erstwhile Ways and Means Chair.  (Incidentally, Rangel has this backward: usually step one is people giving you bags of money, and step two is the ethics investigation.)

The Republican Party of Virginia is asking why two Virginia Congressmen – including my own Representative, Gerry Connolly – haven’t given theirs back:

Transparent as Mud

The President fielded a question last night that revealed more about the failed expectations than any admissions that health care may not pass by August.  Obama had to duck a tough question from his hometown Chicago Tribune about the lack of transparency in the health care reform process.  It isn’t a new question, either – the President has broken promises to allow public review of pending legislation as well as struggled to maintain a website where citizens could track government spending.

The developing pattern is not good, and looks worse because the President is setting himself up with expectations which are tough to reach.  At best he looks naive; at worst corrupt.

Lobbying the government on their own dime

The Washington Times’s Amanda Carpenter reports that GM is encouraging its remaining dealers to contact their Members of Congress.  The message: oppose legislation which would re-open dealerships which have closed as part of the bailout.

Obviously, anyone and everyone should have the right to write their Congressman; and in politics, nothing moves unless it’s pushed, so the idea that GM leadership was encouraging  its employees to contact elected leaders makes sense.   But GM isn’t just any big company, it’s a company that owes its current existence to the Obama Administration and an infusion of public money.

The bailout/sale of GM to the government this spring included the administration forcing out longtime CEO Rick Wagoner and replacing him with someone who promised to “learn about cars.” Perhaps it should not be surprising that an Obama-administration-owned GM has proved to be better at lobbying than making cars.

Wait – Marion Barry actually has supporters?

Marion Barry’s defenders in his latest flap are accusing the Washington City Paper of racism.  The free weekly fronted their coverage of Barry’s latest public embarassment with a quote his former girlfriend apparently left on his voicemail: “You put me out in Denver ’cause I wouldn’t [perform a specific sex act which, if I wrote it, might get my blog flagged as ‘not safe for work’].”

It’s a legitimate question for people in neighborhoods to wonder why the City Paper – which again, is free and readily accessibly to kids – should use such vulgar language.  Barry and his minions have no beef.  They may complain that a white politician would not be covered the same way – as if late night talk show hosts hadn’t chewed up and spit out John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, etc.  (Also: other politicians who don’t get this kind of coverage include the ones that don’t kick their mistresses out of hotel rooms for refusing to perform sex acts.)

If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, apparently racism is a close second-to-last. Those who would cry racism in this case forget that Barry’s latest public embarrassment is just that – his latest, and not his only, public embarassment.

It should be noted that charges that Barry was stalking his former girlfriend were dropped, and that the legal side of the dispute appears to be an overreaction to a private situation.  Given this, I was a little surprised that Barry didn’t resort to his tried and true defense when it comes to girlfriends who get him into hot water with the law.

It’s Washington, so we can chalk this up to habit

The newspaper that taught us to “follow the money” is apparently doing the same: Politico reports that the Washington Post has advertised events to sell access to reporters and government officials.

This type of thing isn’t new – political debates and public forums often have media sponsors.  But those events have a purpose which serves the “public good” (and as journalists like to remind us, theirs is a profession where the pursuit of public good is vital).  The public good in exclusive “Salons” for the inside-the-Beltway intelligentsia is, shall we say, somewhat less clear.

Dealergate: Obama’s First Scandal

A historic nomination to the Supreme Court is this week’s story; next week look for questions on “Dealergate.”  A preliminary review of the 789 Chrysler dealerships that were ordered to close has demonstrated that their owners overwhelmingly gave to Republican candidates in 2008 (about $450,000) – and the ones who gave to Democrats largely gave to John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign raised just $450 from the dealerships which are closing down.

Where did this story come from?  Not on CNN, or MSNBC, or even on Fox News – but from the blogosphere.  You may know them as the folks who are often derided by the established media for “not being real journalists.”

This story hasn’t really hit the mainstream news outlets yet, but it should soon.  A sample of nearly 800 business owners is as large or larger than samples taken for many opinion polls, which means the initial findings certainly warrant more research.

Having a group of 789 business owners who give to Republicans at a 90-95% clip who happen to have their businesses taken away by a Democrat-controlled government could be a mere statistical anomaly.  But it could be more.  Some questions I would like to see answered: What was the donor activity of for dealer owners that stayed open?  Where were the dealerships that are closing in relationship to the 2008 electoral map – and in relation to key 2010 races?

Aside from being the Obama Administration’s first major scandal, Dealergate offers  study in modern media.  The story was uncovered by citizen journalists – bloggers who did nothing more than examine public documents with fresh eyes and a criticical viewpoint likely unshared by their paid counterparts in the mainstream media.  Now it’s up to the media establishment to prove their worth by seizing upon an interesting lead and doing the research to determine what the full story is.

Workers of Detroit, unite!

It’s a red-letter May Day, as working comrades in the UAW are taking over Chrysler.  By the looks of things, they same fate may befall GM if they cannot work out a deal with their creditors.

Some analysts feel this is a good thing – reasoning that the union would have to abandon a single-minded quest for higher wages to think about the company’s broader needs.  But in the era of bailouts and government safety nets, there really is no incentive to do that.