The Spectacle Blog
Okay, I found the old Mobile Register editorial I wrote that spoke of waste in the Homeland Security "first responder" grant program. I couldn't find what I remembered about cars to transport prom queens (as discussed in my post below), but here's the "nut graph" that does give other examples:
.... found the money going places like Tiptonville, Tenn., a town so tiny that it doesn't even show up on a rental car map.
Tiptonville used its $183,000 for a snazzy ATV and for defibrillators it keeps handy at high school basketball games. Converse, Texas, used its grants for a "homeland security trailer," which saw its first duty in hauling riding lawnmowers to the annual local lawnmower races. And Washington, D.C., which unlike some grantees is obviously a terrorist target, nevertheless used $100,000 to send sanitation workers to a Dale Carnegie course.
My final (I think) post on the Rove speech at AEI today, which FOLLOWS this one, will highlight the parts of Rove's substance that were right on target and that he explained well. Here, though, a very important criticism: On the issue of spending, the man is full of Bullfeathers.
Rove continues to try to push the tired old White House line that it has done a good job keeping a lid on excess spending. The line is sheer bunk. He said the federal government under Bush's leadership has "reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending every year in office." The way he is using this, it is a meaningless statistic. What really has happened is that Congress and the White House keep redefining what counts as domestic discretionary spending so that they look more fiscally responsible (by far) than they actually have been. More and more and more often, spending items that would be included in ordinary domestic Appropriations bill are instead hidden in numerous other ways. Let me highlight some of the ways:
We've heard from Google related to our item this morning regarding MoveOn.org's involvement in the "Net Neutrality" fight.
Google sent along a statement that reads, in part:
Google Inc. is not a financial supporter of MoveOn.org as your article of May 15 entitled "Internet Nationalization" asserts. As a result it is unequivocally incorrect to state that MoveOn has received "…more than $1 million from Google and its lobbyists..."
It is wholly accurate to say that network neutrality is an issue of great importance to our users and to Google as a result. Broadband providers should not be permitted to use their market power to control what consumers see and do online. For 100 years telephone companies have been prohibited from telling consumers who they can call. For two decades Internet carriers have been prohibited from dictating what users do online. Broadband carriers should not now be allowed to pick winners and losers in the competitive Internet market.
We'll have more on this issue later.
Overall, Rove seemed to offer more of the same, albeit well put. Why give this speech now? There was no recent economic numbers on which to hang the speech. Sure, the tax cuts were extended last week, but as Grover Norquist told ($) the Wall Street Journal in today's editions, "that's last year's homework turned in late." Indeed. It's not only late, but short: what happened to making the tax cuts permanent? Rove didn't call for that.
Okay, so Bush inherited a poor economy, and tax cuts have aided Americans in launching a solid recovery. And free trade is also a boom to the economy. No arguments here, but again, nothing new.
I attended Rove's speech at AEI this morning, and I must confess to a different reaction from the Prowler's. I found it underwhelming. Like Quin, I have a lot to say, so I'll split it into two posts. First, on style.
His willingness to take questions certainly demonstrated fight and focus for the months ahead. And his best qualities were on display: an uncanny ability to match poll and policy numbers with any critic. He was also quite engaging with the press corps.
His speech focused on economic policy. The White House could use someone banging the drum of the country's economic success and the President's role in that. While this unfortunately helps feed the perception that the federal government is the economic hero or villain (as opposed to the market), the White House must combat its critics.
Next post: on substance.
To amplify (at great length, over the course of probably three full blog entries; stay tuned for the other two) on what the Prowler wrote below about Karl Rove, I was at the AEI speech earlier this morning, and can confirm that Rove is in fighting trim, that he is engaged and focused and upbeat. The simple truth is that Karl Rove is one of the best communicators at the White House. The White House should get him out there more often, both for the president's sake (because Rove does an excellent job conveying the president's message) and for his own sake, because the more he is out there, the more that Americans can see for themselves that he is not the ogre that the mainstream media paints him as. The caricature of him is so unfair as to be obscene. Instead, if Americans see and hear him more often, it will probably redound to Bush's benefit, because they will see that Bush's most famous aide is competent and smart and thoughtful and reasonable, etc., all of which makes not just Rove but the president also look good.
Karl Rove addressed expectant conservatives today with a speech sponsored by the American Enterprise Instituite. He didn't disappoint, even taking a few questions.
This speech follows another address that he made last Friday, which generally followed the same talking points:
Rove understands the mood of the country. He gets it. He also gets the poll numbers (and the difference between job approval and personal approval).
What came across in both Rove appearances is that, one, he's engaged, focused and ready for the hand to hand combat that Republicans should be ready to wage in the coming months with Democrats.
Grievance liberalism is on perverse display at Washington's Gallaudet University, where students are resisting the appointment of Jane Fernandes as president of the school. Her sin? She's not "deaf enough," evidently, because she first learned how to speak and read lips before studying sign language, in which, according to protesters, she is not fluent enough. Regardless of how she conveyed it, she was fluent enough to capture a further side of what might be called brave new world liberalism, when she told the Washington Post's Fred Hiatt, "Progress in genetics is leading to the idea that you could choose not to have a deaf child." In other words, someday there may be no need for schools for the deaf such as Gallaudet.