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As regular readers of 24thState.com know, Editor, the founder of this blog, has asked me to help with the day-to-day work. There will be some minor changes. They will be gradual. But the focus will remain the same:
From Springfield to Kirksville, from Kansas City to St Louis, we cover the state's news, views, politics, rumors, and elections.
It falls to 24thState.com's co-bloggers to cover all of that. Brian and Van have been doing much of the legwork recently, so how about a round of applause for those guys! They're irreplaceable.
To grow 24thState.com, to broaden our appeal, we need more content. Therefore, I'm looking for additional contributors to get better coverage of the state and topics important to Missourians. If you think you may be interested, please send me something to put on the blog. Email your news and other tips to pm at 24thstate.com.
The Project Manager
There's a blogger in Virginia that just pulled a great stunt on the local media, and in doing so, also showcases what you should be doing should you decide to pick up a keyboard and join the fight.
Virginia Virtucon has been digging into the financial dealings of one Krystal Ball, a Democratic candidate running in Virginia's first district. The newspapers and televisions wouldn't touch the story, despite the influx of hundreds of thousands of personal dollars into the campaign of a candidate who said she made less than $100000 a year.
The stunt was that Ball, a 28 year-old, had some racy pictures posted from some Christmas party six years before. Silly, but not exactly earth-shattering. Just as worthy as anything you've read about Christine O'Donnell (which means they weren't at all important), but the media jumped all over it. But Virtucon left the photos up for only an hour, before replacing it with his long and in-depth reporting on Krystal Ball's financial wheeling and dealings that turned her into an instant stock millionaire.
And it's impressive research. Combing through financial records and FEC disclosures isn't easy, and it's a sickness when you do it too much, but with newsrooms lacking the staff to spend eight hours wading through the documents, and with political campaigns really only looking for dirt, much of our political process and the people behind it go without scrutiny.
Take Russ Carnahan, who in addition to a yacht he didn't pay taxes on, bought and sold a no-money down commercial property through a company that was paid out of his campaign funds. That was in 2004, and no one said a word until Ed Martin uncovered it in 2010.
That's Castle Ballroom, LLC, sold for $150,000 more than it was bought, with no money down from Carnahan. Quite the real estate investor!
Krystal Bell, Castle Ballroom - it's incumbent on bloggers to uncover and report these stories. Great job, Virtucon.
Hysterical video of liberal John Harwood telling barking moonbats the Left Internet Fringe to get dressed and realize governing is hard.
It's almost too much to take. When the most progressive White House ever is taking potshots at you, where do you have left to go? The media ignores you. The Democrats ignore you. And now the President ignores you.
Here's an idea. Join a Tea Party. They may still slander us, but at least we get their respect. Remember when that healthcare bill was going to be passed in July?
I popped over to read this silly column at CNN about the conservative use of Twitter and had to laugh. The first paragraph is so incredibly short-sighted it could only come from a CNN reporter using progressive bloggers as their primary source. It starts like this:
If this is true, who exactly were the warbloggers? If liberal bloggers established political activism, how did we get into the Iraq war? How did Bush increase his Congressional majorities in 2002 and 2004? How did Dan Rather lose his job when bloggers exposed the shoddy reporting of CBS news?
The truth is libertarian and center-right bloggers started the blogosphere, with only a few (Hesiod, Kos,and Atrios) having much of an impact, and that was usually ridicule. As the Bush administration went on, the national mood changed, far more from the press deciding to abandon all pretense of objectivity after 2004 than from anything the progressive blogs did.
The candidates supported by Kos lost every race until 2006, and even in 2008, when new media was supposed to rule the day, far more money came in from large donors to the Obama campaign than the efforts of the Netroots.
The columnist, Eric Kuhn, who purports to understand social media because he has a lame Twitter account, goes on to quote Erickson, Lewis and All, but the main point of the story is missed. The Democratic Party and the progressive infrastructure embraced leftwing bloggers because they were out of power. What this means is Democratic operatives fed information to liberal blogs who dutifully printed whatever was sent their way. The hive mind of the progressive blogosphere is apparent at Kos, who long ago banned anyone who wasn't a progressive. It was his stated policy, and that mindset continues today. Their goal is not discussion, but dissemination of their message.
Compare this to the libertarian and conservative bloggers who received no money, no inside scoops, and definitely no support from Republicans. This is a strength, as the conservative side of the blogosphere carries a multitude of views, while the left side pretty much just links to bigger blogs and mainstream sources.
Want to know what's going on at FiredUp? Read ThinkProgress or TPM or CAP, or any of the other billionaire funded think tanks on the left that drive stories to a uncritical and single-minded progressive blogosphere. In fact, read any liberal blog and you'll find it's 90% based on what some other blogger said, with almost no real analysis. The problem is a logical fallacy called Appeal to Authority. Argue with any progressive and they will try to prove their point by linking to one of these sources. It's on the news, thus it has to be true. Center for American Progress wrote it, therefore it must be true! That isn't debate, it's assertion, and the only reason it gives progressives an advantage online is large parts of the media are in agreement with the progressive worldview. In what appears to be a major learning curve for liberals, kissing ass to those who control the news is now called speaking truth to power.
Conservatives dominate Twitter because they're far better at making connections, and the story of the day has been local news. Connecting to other conservatives gives you alternate points of view - points of view you can't get in the mainstream media. Yes, some idiots claim Fox News or Rush Limbaugh give conservatives their talking points, but if you listen to the shows, you see those news programs following blogs, not driving news to blogs. It's a matter of speed. Bloggers are faster than Talk Radio, which is faster than television, which is faster than newspapers, which is faster than print magazines. Twitter and Facebook now are on the top of that curve, but what Kuhn fails to understand is how communities work.
Liberals didn't best conservative bloggers. They sold out for traffic and advertising and attention, and the Democratic Party gladly took their support and now gives them nothing.
Connecting to liberals gets you the daily talking points of MSNBC, CNN, and now, the White House. Yes, they won in 2006, but it's astounding to see someone from CNN try to claim that those victories were from blogs, and not media attention on Foley, George Allen, Abramoff and the Iraq War. All in all, another shoddy piece of reporting from a "social media" consultant who wasn't there when it happened.
Back when Kos was just a "kos," he used to throw conservatives and moderates off his site. He made is very clear that he was building a "progressive website," and those who didn't toe the line weren't welcome. It made a mockery of so-called tolerance, but self-styled progressives aren't interested in debate, they're interested in power.
As the blogosphere has matured, certain types of ill-mannered commenters have used the kindness of their hosts to ruin commenting sections in the hopes of discrediting their ideological foes. We saw this with fake conservatives posting hateful speech on pro-Palin sites, and anyone who has run a site can attest to strange comments that when you track the IP, lead to sock puppets, trolls, and occasionally, astoturfing political operations.
Sometimes you have legitimate arguments, and sometimes you run into bad actors - commenters who are attempting to hijack a thread or leave comments that will discredit the author of the blogpost. If the Right is behind on one major initiative, it's recognition that all commenters are not honest. Short of starting your own "online dirty tricks" section, the only strategy is to collaborate and learn to block commenters that seek to use your blog for partisan political advantage.
This is the job of a community manager. It's difficult, but you should be able to manage a comment section to yield lively debate without squashing dissent and turning your blog into an echo chamber. Why do I bring this up? It's happening over at The New Republicans weblog. A comment thread on Michael Steele has been infested by someone with a lot of troll-like properties. Timetheos is the name, and a quick google search brings up only one Timetheos, a liberal who spends times at sites like MyDD, Firedog Lake, and thinks Rachel Maddow is just peachy. And he who just can't bring himself to stop posting negative information about Steele, all while urging Republicans to take a moderate path. When you do a search through the site, you see that Timetheos is everywhere. One of the reasons for suspicion is the way that the username Timetheos drops off blogposting in early 2008, and then reappears as a scold on conservatives sites. I've use my magic internet tools to look through his accounts, and even his Digg Profile is suspicious.
I don't know for a fact that Timetheos is anything other than a bored Seattle lefty with too much time on his hands. It's clear to anyone that's been around that he is seeking to poison the well over at The New Republicans. It's a classic example of troll-like behavior. What we don't know is if he is another example of someone paid to sow confusion on conservative blogs. There are ways of finding out, but we won't get to them until blog authors like Steven wake up to the fact that the Obama Administration considers social media to be very important, and the battlespace that is blogs, newspaper comment sections, and online forums can be used to push a message.
I pointed this out to Steven, and his response was to ban a few comments on the thread as Timetheos and I went back and forth, warning me that calling someone a troll is name-calling. I've been deluged with comment emails from Timetheos since, which has led me to disable the comment notification feature of the site. That guy isn't stopping anytime soon.
The New Republicans got a big splash when they started up, showing up on Politico, ABC, and supposedly being a newplatform to engage young Republicans. That's a tempting target for political astroturfers. I don't know what Timetheos has going on - but I do know that Steven should think long and hard about what he wants to accomplish with that site. And the rest of you ought to brush up on your troll-catching skills.
I'm just a little blogger. This blog is a past-time for me because I started blogging in politics, and enjoyed the airing of my opinions on the matters of the day.
But some blogs, the A-Listers, have taken their blogs and created actual publishing empires. They derive a not insignificant amount of revenue from traffic and advertisements. We're talking about people like Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, IMAO, Michelle Malkin, Classical Values, and other like Balloon Juice, EdDriscoll, and Dean's World.
These are big names in the blogosphere. They have names and trademarks and revenue and clout, and they have one more thing in common. They are banded together over at PajamasMedia.
I wonder how Glen and Frank and Dean and John and Michelle and Charles and all the others will feel about BlogNetNews diverting traffic and advertising revenue from their RSS feeds to the BlogNetNews channel called Pajama?
This is no simple question. Dave Mastio has made it clear that he believes he has the right to take our content and force us to opt-in to his website. Most of us don't have the time, the inclination, the money, or or the GoogleJuice to fight him.
But if he starts pulling the feeds for the bloggers over at Pajamas Media down, he won't have any standing left to claim to the rest of us small fish that he is in the right. He will be exposed as someone trying to make money off bloggers who are too small to sue him for taking our content without our permission.
So what say you, A-list bloggers? How do you feel about someone who scrapes your content, and provides no SEO link back to your site, but instead traps that traffic on his site with misleading design and a redirect? How will you respond to this blatant theft of content lacking in blogospheric good will? We've done what we can. For all of us, will you speak up?
Translation: I'm stealing your content, and there's nothing you can do about it bwahahahahah. He knows I'm the person behind 24thstate because I sent him the e-mail below suggesting he work with bloggers instead of stealing their content. But it's the threats that amuse me most. His response to my request to take my feed off his site is to threaten my livelihood?
On 4/9/08 6:36 AM, "David Mastio" <email@example.com> wrote:
Now that I know you are the person behind 24th state, let me just say if you continue down this road, I will not be having this dispute with an anon blogger, but with you and your company. I have advertisers, you have clients.
We Serve Blogging
Remember to visit our advertisers
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 4:25 PM
Subject: Blog Net News and the Missouri Blogosphere
On a side note - your recent spat with St Louis bloggers requires some serious rethinking on your part on how you approach blogs. If you continue to insult bloggers when responding to comments (starting with me and moving on stlbloggers and the other sites), you're going to find an enormous pushback. It may be too late, but I'd suggest massive apologies, and instant retraction of anyone who says they want off.
The blogstorm is simmering Dave - you'd better head it off before it hits the media and the larger social media space. This is no time to get your ego involved. You've put too much time and money in this to lose it because thousands of bloggers write about you. Can you imagine if this hits Techdirt, Techcrunch, Instapundit,Valleywag, or one of the larger sites?
Apologize publicly, admit your mistakes, remove bloggers who request it and start working with people who want to work with you. I've watched these explode before, and there's nothing you can do short of taking my advice to stop it. You could sue the first five bloggers, but what happens to to the next 1000? You're a newstory at that point.
Cut this nonsense short now, and salvage what you can of your reputation. This whole sordid affair is bad for the blogosphere, but it's worse for Blog Net News.
If you're reading this on BlogNetNews.com, you're reading stolen content. Dave Mastio of Blog Net News has scraped this blog, and that of hundreds of other blogs, without express permission. If you are a Missouri political blogger and don't want someone taking your content without permission, e-mail dave at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him to remove your site.
I'm sending the e-mail to him now - and leaving this post as a the top post until it's removed. More on why this is wrong, and how other bloggers are fighting back at State of Discontent.
The conference is over, and I'm sitting here at the townhall booth at the end of the day, listening to the Hugh Hewitt show. The first good news is I can now download the Hugh podcast from Townhall.
The second thing is I actually had the chance to meet Hugh, which was fun, because I used to listen to him in LA, and he's been a big name in political blogging for sometime.
A good way to end the conference.
I'l be responding to Howard Beale's comments later - it's clear we both made snarky comments, but I think it will be clear when I'm done that I accurately reported information about how state elections are run, and how they can be better.