What’s A Conservative To Do?

Originally published at NationalJournal.com
By K. Daniel Glover

At 10:49 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, Bruce Kesler of Democracy Project fired the rhetorical shot heard ’round the conservative blogosphere. Under the header “Conservative Battle Fatigue,” he diagnosed a trio of his favorite online writers as having the political equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Their open criticisms of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress, Kesler said, are symptoms of the ailment. They have been “worn down by defending difficult positions at the forefront of the battle against irredentist Democrats in Congress and their fifth column in the media.”

Kesler concluded with this hopeful yet pointed thought: “I wish them a speedy recovery, before more adversaries are allowed to breach the walls because of their petulance.”

All three bloggers — Stephen Bainbridge, Ed Morrissey and Mark Tapscott — rejected the diagnosis. And thus began a debate about what a true conservative is supposed to do when the “compassionate conservative” in the White House and the Republican revolutionaries in Congress lose their way on the path of rightward-ness.

Tapscott took the lead, noting that one of his goals “is to encourage a discussion in the blogosphere about whether the GOP deserves the continued support” of its base. An editorial he wrote for The Washington Examiner helped accomplish that goal by inciting Kesler to speak, and Tapscott then seized on the opportunity to continue the debate at his blog.

Over six days at Tapscott’s Copy Desk, he posted seven entries on conservative battle fatigue. Tapscott outlined a series of conservative-minded votes on immigration, federal spending and other issues that Congress could take to “nationalize” this year’s election and regain favor with its electoral base.

If they fail, he said, “conservatives then have an obligation to find or create a new party.” And they can do that by seizing the tools of the Internet. “What the Internet has done to the mainstream media … can and most likely will be done to all of the ‘Bigs’ of our society, including Big Government and the political parties that live by it,” Tapscott wrote.

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Anything But Neutral On ‘Net Neutrality’

Originally published at NationalJournal.com
By K. Daniel Glover

The surest way to incite the collective hostility of bloggers is to seek limits on how they use their medium of choice: the Internet.

The Federal Election Commission learned that lesson last year when word spread of potential campaign regulations for blogs — an idea the agency largely abandoned as the result of a blog swarm. Now bloggers have major communications companies and their congressional allies in their sights over an obscure concept known as “network neutrality.”‘

The bloggers are stinging their targets relentlessly. They have lobbied members of Congress to support their cause; they have ridiculed and condemned those who don’t; and they have venomously derided one industry spokesman as a “mouthpiece for deception.”

“This is something bloggers care about because the free Internet is a key principle for the blogosphere,” said Matt Stoller of MyDD, who has written frequently about the issue in recent weeks.

Network neutrality is an important aspect of the ongoing debate over reforming telecommunications law for the first time in a decade. Most observers agree that changes are long overdue in an era when high-speed Web connections, Internet telephony, online video and other services have revolutionized communications.

But they disagree about whether the few firms that control most broadband pipes should have virtually free reign over those lines. Companies like AT&T want the right to charge more for certain high-speed services, but major technology companies like Amazon.com, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! are insisting on equal treatment, or network neutrality.

Hundreds of bloggers agree with the net neutrality crowd, and they quickly have become a significant presence in the debate.

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