June 30, 2006 | Commentary on Internet And Technology

And people say blogs don't matter

Conservative political blogs this week scored a major victory by pushing Congress to introduce a resolution condemning The New York Times for outing a secret anti-terrorist financial tracking program. Indeed, as soon as the Times ran the story, the conservative blogosphere was up in arms.

Glenn Reynolds, proprietor of the popular http://www.Instapundit.com, took Times Editor Bill Keller to task for running the story. Keller's reasoning, wrote Reynolds, "is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late." Reynolds continued, "The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press."

Hugh Hewitt, who for the better part of a week has devoted his blog almost entirely to this issue, began the call for a congressional resolution condemning the Times. "The irresponsibility of The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, combined with the arrogance of their management in refusing to be available to anyone concerning their decisions, puts the burden on Congress to act," wrote Hewitt. A host of smaller blogs immediately picked up the call to action.

On Wednesday the congressional publication The Hill reported that GOP House leaders would indeed introduce the resolution conservative bloggers were calling for. When asked about the link between the cry of the conservative blogosphere and congressional action, Communications Director and "Spokesblogger" to Congressman Jack Kingston, David All said, "Bloggers have a great echo chamber effect throughout the nation because they are always, always on and they produce a link that can be shared virally. For example, we first read about the Dubai Port issue being a problem on a blog. This issue was the same way. It's the constant drum-beat which fires up members and constituents to react."

Congress doesn't make the grade

This week, the Heritage Foundation released its mid-term grading of Congress on issues ranging from earmark reform and spending to Social Security Reform. Let's just say a high schooler who brought home these grades could expect to be sitting at home on the weekends for a couple months.

The House had an overall grade point average of 1.6-a C- average-and the Senate's GPA was 1.0, a D average. The report notes a "growing disappointment among many members and voters over how little has been accom¬plished since the 109th convened in February 2005." The report card graded all facets of congressional performance but noted particularly poor performance in certain areas.

"Federal budgets for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 were not completed until several months into the next fiscal year," says the report. "The earmark epidemic has been linked to corruption, the much-maligned highway bill was enacted two years late (and gained nothing in quality from the delay), the new Medicare drug benefit plan will add more than $1 trillion to the federal budget over the next 10 years and the financially shaky Social Security system remains untouched and unreformed."

With grades like this, conservatives may have reason to worry as the fall elections approach.

Democratic women for change

This week the female senators in the Democratic Party took to the Senate floor to introduce what they hope will be a new powerhouse within the Democratic caucus: the Democratic Women for Change. The group displayed a giant poster on the Senate floor that they called a "checklist for change."

Why a "checklist"?

Well, as Barbara Mikulski of Maryland put it, "women know checklists … it's what we use to keep our families on schedule." Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas agreed: "I have a list on my refrigerator, on my desk, in my car and in my purse to make sure that I can keep up on things that are important."

"This 'checklist for change' will make a difference in America's future," said Hillary Clinton.

So what exciting new items make this checklist? Well, it reads like the same-old, same-old that Democrats have been pushing in Congress for years.

The to-do actions include such platitudes as reliable pensions, stopping the privatization of Social Security, protecting our air land and water, superfund cleanup and increased health care spending.

Tim Chapman is the Director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation and a contributor to Townhall.com's Capitol Report.

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First appeared in TownHall.com