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Mark Steyn, Gov. Jon Huntsman, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Lileks and Marybeth Hicks

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Loaded line-up today as I continue to talk with GOP governors about the stimulus package –and to negotiate a relocation package out of CA to anywhere with a law school and a studio.

Plus a first time appearance by Washington Times columnist and author Marybeth Hicks. You are going to enjoy her, and you will enjoy her columns and books. The most recent of the latter is Bringing Up Geeks: How To Protect Your Kid’s Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast World.

Bringing Up Geeks: How to Protect Your Kid's Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast World

Marybeth is from Michigan, but she’s a Spartie, not one of the others, and is thus allowed in the studio.

In other news, Duane is deeply, deeply concerned.

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A Few Kind Words for the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

As listeners to the program and readers here know, when I am not broadcasting or teaching, I practice law, primarily in the area of the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and related statutes such as the states’ endangered species laws and the Clean Water Act. I have been doing so for 20 years across the western United States, and follow ESA news closely as a result.

When the Washington Times ran a story on a $30 million dollar appropriation to benefit the Bay Area’s Salt Marsh Harvest mouse, I had to smile. Some endangered or threatened species have friends in high places. Others, like the lowly San Bernadino kangaroo rat or theCalifornia tiger salamander, do not.

But conservatives should make sure their aim is steady before beginning criticism of the grant.

I wrote earlier that some of the stimulus could have wisely spent money on relieving private property owners of the burdens imposed on them by the ESA. The ESA has the effect of quarantining land from all use when one of the species it protects inhabits the land. The impact is often devastating and can impoverish or even bankrupt private property owners. The idea of using federal money to actually acquire such properties from such owners, thus spreading the cost of the ESA across the entire country that benefits from it makes a lot of economic sense and would return some fundamental fairness to the system. I urged such an approach on Oklahoms’s Tom Coburn last week and he actually seemed interested in it.

What isn’t fair, of course, is for one set of landowners burdened by the ESA to win the stimulus lottery –if indeed any of them won at all. Lots of ESA money flows to the community of species activists and the programs they run which often fail to address much less compensate landowners burdened by the Act. Scrutiny of the mouse’s windfall should deepen, but critics should take the time to note that the idea of paying for burdened property rights is a good idea, not a bad one.

About That First Press Conference

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

From The New Republic’s Walter Shapiro:

What Obama was decidedly not Monday night was Kennedy-esque. When JFK unveiled the live presidential primetime press conference 48 years ago, he answered 37 questions in the space of 40 minutes; Obama only half-responded to 13 questions in the space of an hour.

Read the whole thing.

The Bill Press Doctrine

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My old pal, lefty Bill Press, jeeps inviting Democratic senators on his radio show and getting them to speak kindly about the return of the patently unconstitutional Fairness Doctrine. (Yes, I know about Red Lion. I teach it. It came down before satellite radio and the internet destroyed the already lame idea that scarcity in available spectrum allowed for content non-neutrality by the government.)

Bill joined me on the program yesterday and, predictably, dodged the most obvious question about the operation of any “new and improved” Fairness Doctrine: Do stations that air criticism of al Qaeda have to air voices that favor mass terror? Do opponents of Hamas have to be balanced with admirers of Hamas? Does every sermon preached by a religious broadcaster have to be followed by an equal amount of time devoted to one of the new atheists?

The idea that the government can referee and balance viewpoint is an absurd cover for the liberal left that, having dominated public radio, broadcast television and MSM print for decades, finds it difficult to spread its already over-saturated messages into AM radio. Having captured so much of the market, it is hard to find new customers for the same old product available 24/7 on or in NPR/NBC/The New York Times etc.

The constitutionally-suspect nature of the drive for “balance” may not deter the Congressional left, but using a position of dominant political power to attempt to silence critics would unleash a huge blowback and not just from listeners, but from all Americans who would recoil from the idea that majorities would be used to silence opposition.

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