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“The End of Christian America”: A Week of Radio Debate

Monday, April 6, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

That’s the story in Newsweek, and it features Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr. and deserves a very close read.

Which John Schroeder at Article VI Blog has given it. Read that as well.

When 4,000 jam the gym at Biola University to see a debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens (with thousands more in overflow rooms and remote broadcast sites), I suspect as does John Schroeder of Article VI Blog that the Newsweek headline writer wasn’t very concerned with the substance of the Jon Meacham story so much as he was with selling magazines. There is an enormous, exploding interest in faith –and in the new atheists etc– and the technology now available allows for an era that Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett predicts will see the “Greatest Awakening.” (A transcript of one conversation in which Dr. Barnett discusses this prediction is here.)

When I don’t have guests this week, I will take call from pastors, priests, rabbis and all religious on where they think the religious trajectory of America is headed. E-mails from the clergy are welcome as well: I’ll post the most persuasive of them all week.

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“Voting to kill and injure kids: A congressional CYA endangers children”

Monday, April 6, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Monday Washington Examiner column looks at the real risk to children produced by the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

The senators and representatives blocking the necessary amendments to this act are responsible for the injuries and deaths to kids that will result from the removal from the marketplace of vehicles built especially for children 12 and under.

The Latest From “Bear In The Woods”

Sunday, April 5, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

From my favorite anonymous ad exex:


It was a really long March, filled with client projects, new business pitches, interactive seminars, and several speaking engagements. I’m just now getting back to a somewhat normal routine. While my mind was on mainstream marketing the whole month, it was completely impossible to ignore the chaos that completely characterizes American political discourse these days. It’s getting wacky out there.

The Obama administration continues to re-define the idea of “rookie missteps,” and the GOP continues to swing weakly and wildly in all directions without landing a single punch. As a result, the missteps aren’t resonating individually with the public (although, it seems they may be beginning to resonate, collectively, to some). And there is no clear alternative being offered in a timely fashion by our side. Hmm. From my experience, this is what happens when you pit a nimble and fluid communications organization against one that is slow and deliberate. In today’s climate, with today’s technology, nimble wins — even with missteps.[# More #]

After one of my speaking gigs, a talk on social media I give to various groups, I was approached by a 20-something communicator who was frustrated because the management of her organization wanted to use the tools of social media, but didn’t grasp the principles of the space. I could tell she knew what she was doing — but they didn’t listen much to her, because she wasn’t a part of senior management. It’s a familiar story: Management has heard of the new tools, isn’t really sure what they do or how to use them — but, well, because it seems the whole world has this Twitter thing, and we need one, too. Those young people know about this stuff, but we’re not completely comfortable letting them run with it. We’ll get them to set it up, and then we’ll control it from there.

Management that is new to the social media space is almost universally flabbergasted by the notion that to use the space effectively, they cannot attempt to throttle the message. I believe this comes from the long-standing misguided notion that advertisers have ever controlled the message. In fact, they haven’t.

I remember a few years back getting an email from someone in a European ad agency who wanted to upload her clients’ TV commercials to the web. She wanted to know if I knew of some sort of fail-safe way that could prevent people from downloading the commercials, and making fun of them (what we now call a mashup.) I wrote her back to assure her that not only was there no way to prevent that from happening if she uploaded, in fact, there was no way to prevent it at all. They were TV commercials. What’s to keep people from taping them off the air, and doing a mashup? The point is, new media isn’t suddenly allowing people to publicly disagree with you. They’ve always been able to do that. It just makes it more visible, and much faster. So you have two choices: You can clam up and say nothing; or you can voice your opinion in a way that appeals to more people, so fewer thinking people will be tempted to mashup what you say. Note here that controlling people so they don’t publicly disagree with you is not an available option.

The second big stumbling block for management unaccustomed to social media is the labor-intensive nature of the space. This is not a “set it and forget it” world. It’s an ongoing conversation, 27/7, and anyone can, and does, play. If you want to be a part of the conversation, not only must your content be relevant, it must also be fresh. And frequently “fresh,” in this space, means minutes. Which is a far cry from the months most organizations are used to having to respond to a shift in the market, or in opinion. Because there’s so much to keep up with, and so much to respond to, social media is a difficult place for the top-down, micro-management inclined. There’s no time for a committee to debate and tweak every Tweet — because by the time that’s done, the Tweet is irrelevant. The world has moved on.

An understanding of the space is necessary before any organization can effectively employ the tools of the space. Buying a new set of golf clubs doesn’t make you Tiger Woods. The tools are just tools — but the space is made up of people, all of whom have opinions you hope to sway. They’ve created the space, and they have rules for it. If you’re not willing to play by the prevailing, and constantly changing, rules of the space, you’re going to lose very quickly. The people who know the rules of the space best are the people who live in the space. In most long-estalished organizations, those people are the youngest people in the place. They’re almost never in upper management.

Social media favors nimble organizations that are not afraid to share opinions that brew from the bottom of the organization up. Which isn’t the picture of a typical old-school advertiser, and certainly isn’t the picture of the GOP. When I asked the 20-something what her organization did, she told me she worked for a conservative interest group. Sadly, I wasn’t surprised.

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Democrats Chose Fish Over Farmworkers: 37,000 Lost Jobs Because Of The Delta Smelt

Saturday, April 4, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Because I represent landowners, builders and businesses on matters relating to the Endangered Species Act and have done so for 20 years, I realize my interest in ESA-stories is just a tad higher than the general public. But the devastation brought about by the Act on the water supply in California and thus on the state’s agricultural sector, farmers and farm workers in the past two years is astonishing in its scope –as is the fact that very, very few people know about the story. Calling John Stoessel. Calling William La Jeunesse.

Read the San Jose Mercury News account of the hearing closely, and then ask yourself why you haven’t seen this controversy reported on the MSM. Key graphs:

In 2007, a federal judge ordered federal and state water authorities to reduce the amount of water they pump through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in a bid to protect the delta smelt. The finger-length fish is considered a bellwether for the health of the delta, the heart of California’s water-delivery system.

Speaking before the House Natural Resources Committee, several of the state’s lawmakers discounted the drought as the reason for the San Joaquin Valley’s lack of water.

Rather, they said it was a matter of priorities, with the government valuing fish over families.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, said thousands of families were moving out of his district. He called the exodus the “Dust Bowl migration in reverse.” …

The state has said it will deliver only 20 percent of the water typically allocated for cities and farms this year. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates a separate system to deliver water to farmers, has said it will not deliver any water this spring to farms south of the delta. Farmers north of the delta can expect to get just 5 percent of their contracted amount.

The shortage could force farmers to idle more than 300,000 acres, leading to a loss of about 37,000 jobs. The delta also feeds drinking water to some 25 million Californians, stretching from the San Francisco Bay area to San Diego. Dozens of cities that expect to get less water from the delta this year are considering conservation measures.

Like the CPSIA, the ESA acts with extraordinary impact on relatively small numbers of people, forcing them to bear the costs for broadly defined “societal goals” which are often “oversold” as with the rhetoric surrounding the phthalates ban in the CPSIA or the threat to the delta smelt from additional pumping of water from the delta.

The control of the environmental movement on key committees in the House and the Senate means that even these Democratic Congressmen will get no relief from the Hill. The partially man-made drought will thus go on, the job losses will mount, and California’s breadbasket will loses some of its incredible productivity –another blow to the state’s already reeling economy. Finding some relief will be Interior Secretary Salazar’s first great challenge, but the real solution lies with the 9th Circuit or the Supreme Court’s review of the cases that have flowed out of the ESA over 35 years.

The ESA controversies of the next few years –the smelt and the polar bear litigation being only the most visible– will quietly determine the artificial limits on growth America imposes upon itself. The very aggressive push by very competent counsel for the activists versus the supine response by American industry means that even if the GOP returns to majority status in 2010 or the presidency in 2012, the ability to reignite robust growth will be seriously compromised by years of aggressive rulemaking and overreaching court decisions.

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