Monthly Archives: January 2009

David and Goliath

Featuring CatholicVote.org in the role of the dauntless youth and NBC as the evil giant.

An update from Brian Burch on CatholicVote’s attempt to place an ad during the Superbowl. If you haven’t see this incredibly effective video, you can see it here. The news isn’t all bad!

We broke this news yesterday, but wanted to make sure you have the full story – NBC has slammed the door on running our ad during the Super Bowl!

After several days of negotiations, a representative in Chicago told us that NBC and the NFL are not interested in advertisements involving ‘political candidates or issues.’

We were in the midst of raising the money needed, and had confirmed interest from several very generous pro-life benefactors. Airing the ad would have been very expensive, and a ‘Super’ opportunity.

But NBC’s rejection is calling even more attention to the ad. We have been appearing on radio programs across the country for the past two days, and NBC’s New York affiliate (imagine the irony), is covering the controversy. Bill O’Reilly of the FOX News Channel featured the ad on his program Wednesday night calling it “brilliant” and “genius.” His show alone reached nearly 4 million people.

All of this is driving more traffic to the commercial online. We reached almost 1 million online views in less than two weeks!

So why did NBC reject the ad?

The network claims that they do not allow political or issue advocacy advertisements during the Super Bowl, but that’s simply not true.

The network was willing to air an ad by PETA, which is definitely an advocacy group, if PETA would tone down their ad’s sexual suggestiveness.

Also, the first ad scheduled to run during the Super Bowl is a creative spot about Pedigree’s pet adoption drive. The ad ends with the line: “Help us help dogs.”

In recent years, some Super Bowl advertisements have caused controversy. But there’s nothing objectionable about our positive, life-affirming advertisement. We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC’s parent company GE has done for years. We don’t attack Barack Obama, but focus on him becoming the first African-American President. We simply ask people to imagine the potential of each human life.
What now?
We’re not intimidated by NBC. We plan on getting this ad out so that many millions of Americans can imagine the potential of each human life. Here are some things you can do:

We are preparing a virtual protest of NBC’s decision. We want other networks to know that hundreds of thousands of people want to see this ad aired, and we will not give up easily. Stay tuned for our plan on this in the next few days.
The Catholic television station EWTN will be airing the commercial before, during and after the Super Bowl. Feel free to turn your channel to EWTN during halftime and watch our ad there.
You can still share the commercial with friends and family. Tell them to go to CatholicVote.org and watch the ad NBC doesn’t want them to see! Heck, show it at your Super Bowl party!

We’ve been humbled by the donations we’ve received to help get this ad out. We are especially grateful to the group of very generous benefactors that agreed to help if we got air time for the Super Bowl.

We aren’t certain they will still help, but we will use any funds we receive from you and others to air the ad in the most prominent and cost-effective venues available.

Perhaps the ad should run during the Academy Awards or maybe American Idol, which is popular with the youth. Maybe we should run it following President Obama’s first State of the Union address?
If you have ideas, tell us what you think.
Brian Burch
CatholicVote.org

P.S. You may recall that this is the first ad in our new “Life: Imagine the Potential” campaign. We are having a huge impact with our campaign already! Our message is positive, life affirming, and hope-filled. And it is reaching audiences that normally don’t listen to us.

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No Place For Imagination At NBC

CatholicVote.org has produced another excellent video promoting a culture of life. Their goal, when the contacted me last week via e-mail, was to raise $3million to buy ad space during the Superbowl. The ad was positive, uplifting, non-controversial and, apparently, too effective for NBC, who has refused to allow the video to air.

NBC has rejected an uplifting and positive pro-life ad submitted for its Super Bowl broadcast this Sunday. After several days of negotiations, an NBC representative in Chicago told CatholicVote.org today that NBC and the NFL are not interested in advertisements involving “political advocacy or issues.”

Brian Burch, President of CatholicVote.org reacted: “There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement. We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC’s parent company GE has done for years. We congratulate Barack Obama on becoming the first African-American President. And we simply ask people to imagine the potential of every human life.”

“NBC told CatholicVote.org that they do not allow political or issue advocacy advertisements. But that’s not what they told PETA,” said Burch. “There’s no doubt that PETA is an advocacy group. NBC rejected PETA’s ad for another reason altogether.”

According to an email posted on PETA.org, Victoria Morgan, Vice President of Advertising Standards for Universal, said: “The PETA spot submitted to Advertising Standards depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” Morgan even detailed “edits that need to be made” in order for the spot to run during the Super Bowl.

“NBC claims it doesn’t allow advocacy ads, but that’s not true. They were willing to air an ad by PETA if they would simply tone down the sexual suggestiveness. Our ad is far less provocative, and hardly controversial by comparison,” said Burch.

“The purpose of our new ad is to spread a message of hope about the potential of every human life, including the life of Barack Obama,” said Burch. “We are now looking at alternative venues to run the ad over the next several weeks.”

Wow! I’ll say this for NBC…they don’t really make it easy for you to register a complaint. The offer this contact form, which I’ve used a few times and will do so again. I’ve never gotten a response, so who knows if anyone other than the mail clerk sees them. Another option is to sign up for my.nbc.com and make a blog entry.

For comparison purposes, here’s a link to the PETA ad that NBC deemed too suggestive – and it is, which is why I’m not embedding it  here – but which they would apparently air if the sexuality were toned down.  If you do go view it, just take a minute to soak in the smugness over how incredibly clever they think they are to make these porn-lite ads.

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Democrat Honor Roll

Eleven Democrats broke with their party and voted against H.R.1. They voted against mortgaging my children’s and grandchildren’s future and for that I am grateful.

  • Bright
  • Boyd
  • Cooper
  • Ellsworth
  • Griffith
  • Peterson
  • Minnick
  • Kratovil
  • Kanjorski
  • Shuler
  • Taylor

Please show them your gratitude with a phone call or e-mail.

(Hey, I’m also pretty dang proud of the House Republicans; all voted against. The only bi-partisanship in evidence on today’s vote was against passage.)

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Non-News In The Public Interest

From Pro Publica:

Bank Employing GOP House Leader’s Wife Got Bailout Bucks

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, a rising star in the Republican party, has been a prominent voice demanding accountability in how the government doles out hundreds of billions for bank bailouts.

“I think most American taxpayers now are sort of scratching their head,” Cantor told CNN in December, “wondering when all this bailout stuff is going to end. And probably thinking, ‘You know, when is my bailout coming?’”

This Thursday, Cantor cast a high-profile vote opposing release of another $350 billion in bailout funds. Unpublicized until now was a recent development: The Treasury Department used $267 million of taxpayer funds to buy preferred stock in a private banking company that employs Cantor’s wife.

Why is this news?

I can understand that if Cantor had voted for the release of additional TARP funds and if he could have known in advance how the funds would be distributed and if he had the ability to direct the funds why this might be construed as a conflict of interests. But none of that is true.

In my opinion, that makes this a non-story, which becomes apparent to anyone who reads the entire article. However, for those who read just the headline and possibly the first paragraph or two, the clear implication is that Eric Cantor is guilty of some kind of shady dealings to benefit his wife’s employer.

Of course, as professional journalists, Aram Roston and Paul Kiel should know that. By choosing to publish this non-story as news, Roston and Kiel reveal their bias and make the choice of headline all the more revealing. Pro Publica’s tagline of “Journalism in the Public Interest” makes it all the more disappointing.

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Cut and Paste

As a little add-on to yesterday’s post, Thanks, Rush!, here are transcripts of the audio clip that the DCCC has cobbled together to condemn Rush Limbaugh’s words, followed by a transcript of what he actually said, with full context.

The Democrat’s spin:

If I wanted Obama to succeed, I’d be happy the Republicans have laid down. I don’t want this to work. So I, I’m thinking of replying to the guys, okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four. I hope he fails.

Rush, in his own words:

If I wanted Obama to succeed, I’d be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him.  Look, what he’s talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care.  I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don’t want this to work.  So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.”

[Interruption] What are you laughing at?  See, here’s the point.  Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say.  Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.”  Why not?  Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails?  Liberalism is our problem.  Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here.  Why do I want more of it?  I don’t care what the Drive-By story is.  I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.”  Somebody’s gotta say it.

Were the liberals out there hoping Bush succeeded or were they out there trying to destroy him before he was even inaugurated?  Why do we have to play the game by their rules?  Why do we have to accept the premise here that because of the historical nature of his presidency, that we want him to succeed?  This is affirmative action, if we do that.  We want to promote failure, we want to promote incompetence, we want to stand by and not object to what he’s doing simply because of the color of his skin?  Sorry.  I got past the historical nature of this months ago.  He is the president of the United States, he’s my president, he’s a human being, and his ideas and policies are what count for me, not his skin color, not his past, not whatever ties he doesn’t have to being down with the struggle, all of that’s irrelevant to me.  We’re talking about my country, the United States of America, my nieces, my nephews, your kids, your grandkids.  Why in the world do we want to saddle them with more liberalism and socialism?  Why would I want to do that?  So I can answer it, four words, “I hope he fails.”  And that would be the most outrageous thing anybody in this climate could say.  Shows you just how far gone we are.  Well, I know, I know.  I am the last man standing.

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Thanks, Rush!

I heard from my good friend, Erick Brockway (check out A TowDog’s Blog), that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was collecting signatures for a petition to be sent to Rush Limbaugh because, according to their website, “When members of the Republican Attack Machine like Rush Limbaugh kick into action, we need a strong grassroots response.”

Ooooh, scary. The Republicans have an Attack Machine!

Erick is encouraging conservatives to send Rush a message of support, courtesy of the DCCC’s petition. So I did. What fun! I can only hope that someone will be screening the messages, even if it means that mine gets screened out, because I laid it on really thick.

Dear Rush:

Thank you for the strong stand you’re taking against President Obama’s Socialist agenda. Rush, I know – as does anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of the English language – that you didn’t say anything that even remotely implies that you hope President Obama fails to meet our great country’s challenges. It must be terribly frustrating for you to be continually misquoted and your remarks mischaracterized by the leftists in the Democrat Party.

I know you love this country as much as I do, and that you’re hoping against hope that our new President does succeed in reversing our current economic situation. Unfortunately, we both know that won’t happen if President Obama is successful in passing his pork-laden stimulus bill, enacting new Socialist programs, and piling onerous new regulations motivated by inconclusive science onto our struggling industries.

So thanks again, Rush. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all you do to advance the cause of personal liberty in the United States.

God bless.

Please, send your message to Rush, too. They only need 2,400 more signatures!

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Best. Commander-In-Chief. Ever.

Barack Obama has been president for barely a week and already he has Al-Qaeda “scrambling,” according to Joby Warrick of the Associated Press. That’s an amazing achievement for such a young Administration and a stark contrast to Al-Qaeda’s situation during the past eight years, when their leadership was scrambling from place to place vacationing in various locations and forced to live in caves indulging in their passion for spelunking.

Read the entire article here.

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Olympia Makes A Grab For Your Car…Are Your House And Your Job Next?

I first blogged about Washington SB6900 here and here, after which it was pointed out to me that this bill was killed during the 2008 legislative session. So at first I felt a little silly about that, but then I noticed that it was getting a lot of attention on local talk radio. After a little further research, I no longer feel silly about blogging on SB6900. While it didn’t pass muster in 2008, ESSHB2815 did, thus establishing a comprehensive framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide.

I, like many other Seattle area residents, have often contemplated the reasons for the terrible traffic congestion we endure. We half-jokingly attribute it to the the fact that government officials want to force us to use public transportation, but mostly believe it’s the result of simple incompetence. Now, after studying ESSHB2815 and subsequent documents outlining proposals as to how 2815 can be implemented, I don’t have any doubts and I’m no longer joking.

ESSHB2815 goes beyond the size of the car you drive and sets guidelines that are so stringent, Olympia will need to manipulate where and how you live, what kind of jobs will be available to you and how you’ll get from point A to point B in order to meet them. It is social engineering on steroids, based on questionable science.

As required in ESSHB2815, Section 1(b), an Implementation Work Group (IWG) was established; their recommendations were released in November, 2008. While a discussion of the entire document would be useful, it’s length of nearly 600 pages is prohibitive. Instead I’ll focus on some aspects of the report that were especially troubling.

From the Introduction of Leading the Way: Implementing Practical Solutions to the
Climate Change Challenge:

The ultimate goal is to build, operate and maintain a transportation infrastructure that is efficient and effective at moving people and goods. To achieve this vision, Washington must reexamine how investments in transportation infrastructure and services are made at all levels of government. Washington State should make funding decisions and pursue revenue generating strategies that stimulate behaviors that support climate change solutions and that discourage behaviors that contribute to the problem.

The added emphasis is mine. I point out this particular passage as it illustrates an interesting concept, which was hinted at in the working document from the transportation sub-committee. This is that decisions regarding revenue generation should be made, not based strictly on fairness to Washington residents, economic conditions, or even funding requirements, but instead should driven at least in part by the goal of reducing greenhouse gases through behavior modification.

Nor does the IWG feel that it’s necessary to actually pass legislation to implement some of their proposals.

Some of these recommendations may be ready to be implemented by the Executive Branch now while others may need authorization and/or funding from the Legislature.

The IWG’s recommendations also lays to rest once and for all the notion that Olympia has any intention of addressing gridlock in the Puget Sound region by adding road capacity. (Note: While many use-based taxes transportation pricing strategies were discussed in the working documents, it appears that the only one included in the recommendations is tolling.)

The Transportation IWG believes that state, regional, and local transportation investments and operations should be aligned with the achievement of the VMT and GHG reduction provisions of ESSHB2815. This will mean reexamining not just proposed new investments, but also existing investments to ensure that we can achieve GHG and VMT reductions through our transportation policies, as well as meeting traditional objectives of transportation spending.

And just in case anyone is still confused:

Toll revenues that fund transit operations or other alternative modes will likely have a greater impact on GHG emissions reduction than if they are used for new freeway capacity expansion. In addition, revenues should be used to fund increased mobility for freight throughout the state, as more efficient cargo movement leads to reduced GHG emissions. Pricing and how revenues are spent should be considered together to determine the GHG emissions reduction potential of pricing.

So remember this point: decreasing greenhouse gas emissions will the the primary purpose of any transportation legislation that comes out of Olympia as long as our State government is controlled by Democrats.

Not content to force citizens out of their cars, the State also wants to come after where you live…or to change where you live to be more accurate.

However, to significantly reduce VMT and GHG emissions in Washington State, the majority of people in Washington State will need to live and work in places that both support bicycling and walking for shorter trips and provide reliable and convenient public transportation that meets mobility needs for longer trips.

To achieve this goal, the IWG recommends more land use policies that channel increasing numbers of people into increasingly smaller areas.

Broadly, these various efforts share the goal of promoting denser development in urban areas. This can be accomplished by encouraging well-planned density/infill, providing housing in close proximity to jobs and services, establishing necessary infrastructure and essential public facilities for a high quality of life, and maximizing access to affordable public transportation and other mobility options.

Getting back to SB6900, it’s unclear whether or not any legislation proposing similar licensing fees will be introduced in this session but it is clear that legislation will likely be introduced to establish financial disincentives to single-occupancy driving. While tolling is the only use-based tax transportation pricing strategy included in the IWG’s final document, their recommendations are not binding on the legislature. Based on past experience, I expect them to try to implement as many taxes strategies as they can.

It is also clear from ESSHB2815 and the IWG recommendation that Cap and Trade legislation will be forthcoming; it will be required to reach the rather aggressive goals set forth in Executive Order 07-02.

It’s up to the citizens of Washington State to make their views on these issues known to their legislators now.

*You might also be interested in these thoughts from Stephen Kruiser.

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Can King County Put An End To Elections Fiascos?

In November of 2008, voters in King County, Washington, approved by a margin of 56 to 44% an amendment to the King County Charter that changes the position of Elections Director from a political appointment to an elected office. The first election for this position will also be King County’s first all-mail ballot; voting deadline is February 3. The move to an elected position was prompted by King County’s dismal performance in the last few election cycles such as the 2004 gubernatorial fiasco and the 2002/2003 late absentee ballots fiascos. Not to be left out, 2008 has it’s own fiasco, the big ole’ stack of ballots with signature matching errors fiasco.

Several candidates have filed for this office, but it’s not my intention to discuss all of them and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Rather, I’ll just be focusing on one candidate, Sherril Huff. Ms. Huff is the current Elections Director, having been appointed in 2007 by King County Executive Ron Sims. In order to fulfill the residency requirement of the elected office, Huff, a long-time resident of Kitsap County, signed a one year lease on a house in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle and registered as a King County voter on December 9. She filed for as a candidate for elections director on December 11 and subsequently moved to King county on December 15 or 16.

Christopher Clifford, also running for the office, filed a challenge to Huff’s candidacy, claiming the home in Seattle is not Huff’s actual residence. The King County Canvassing Board has already ruled on the challenge, finding that Seattle home is Huff’s actual place of residence and her voter registration is valid. Clifford now says he will ask the King County Superior Court to invalidate the February 3 election since the established timeline shows that Huff, as a resident of Kitsap County, was not eligible to file as a candidate on December 11.

Huff recused herself from ruling on Clifford’s complaint, but as far as I know is supervising the election in which she is a candidate. Is that a problem for anyone else, or is it just me? I’m thinking just me, because I haven’t heard, oh, say, Ron Sims suggest that there’s anything troubling there. Which is, in itself, troubling. And leaving aside the fact that Huff is a blatant carpetbagger – and who likes a carpetbagger – it appears that she’s also willing to bend the rules. It occurs to me that’s not a personality trait that should be highly valued in an elections director. Such is the elections culture in King County.

You might ask why any of this is significant to Washington voters residing outside King County. Good question. King County is the tail that wags the political dog here in Washington. Approximately 28% of Washington residents live in King County. More residents live in King County than in the next two most populous counties, Pierce and Snohomish, combined. With King County’s being overwhelmingly and radically liberal, it’s difficult enough for voters in the rest of the state to make their voices heard without the added obstacle of sloppily applied election regulations.

In these days of a sharply divided electorate, with elections being decided by razor thin margins, we must protect the integrity of our elections process. If we fail to do so, loss of public trust will inevitably follow. To maintain that trust, it seems obvious to me that the officials supervising our elections must be above reproach in every regard. I don’t blame Ms. Huff for wanting to keep her job. Heck, if I had a job that paid nearly $150,000 a year, I’d want to keep it, too. But if it was that important to her, she could have arranged the details of her move to King County to fulfill both the letter and the spirit of the law. It’s not as though she wasn’t aware of the need to establish residency; she could have moved at any time following November 4th. That she didn’t indicates that she either was unaware of the laws surrounding residency/filing or was unconcerned with following them exactly. Either is problematic.

After the 2004 gubernatorial election, in which King County kept finding more and more unsecured and previously uncounted ballots, right up until they had found “just enough” to ensure Gregoire’s victory, I adopted the tongue-in-cheek position that Washington’s other 38 counties should withhold their results until King County had reported…I was only half joking. King County voters could do much to alleviate the doubts about the honesty and integrity of their elections process by carefully considering the character as well as the qualifications of each candidate.

It’s not my intent to particularly bash Ms. Huff; she’s not the only candidate with issues. I use her as an example only to illustrate the cultural climate in which the King County Elections Department operates. I’m asking – begging, really – my neighbors in King County to spend just a moment considering the effect their vote will have on the rest of our State’s voters. I know we all want elections that are honest and a process that is transparent. Please vote accordingly.

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Priorities

Due to budget cuts, the University of Washington’s Seattle campus will not be accepting any new students, including transfers, for spring enrollment. In keeping with a common tactic in the Evergreen State, UW administrators have applied the budget axe to an item they feel will gin up public support for more funding. Affecting only about 325 students, this seems more like a gesture designed to punish than actually save money.

Of course, if you’re a football player looking to transfer, hey! No problem. It’s all about priorities, right?

Read the full Seattle Times article.

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