Tag Archives: KQED Forum

Why is the Hoover Institution Scared of Me? (And You?)

Cross-posted from Calitics: the progressive community blog for California

Yesterday, KQED’s Forum, ordinarily a program that I enjoy, had a program about the close of the legislative session.  After a discussion of possible reforms, talk moved to the blogs.  I have uploaded the clip here.  

Apparently, Bill Whalen, of the Hoover Institution, is scared by me.  Well, bloggers in generally I suppose. (The transcript is courtesey of Kid Oakland).

I don’t worry so much as a Republican, but as a citizen, and there’s one word: “the blogosphere”  That’s what scares me.  There are angry people on the left and angry people on the right.  And I’m not sure if I want to see that anger harnessed in reforming our government.  I like the firewall, if you will. … Among the leaders opposing [Prop 89] are the California Teachers Association and the California Chamber of Commerce.  Why?  They are very vested interests in Sacramento, they don’t want the rules changed.  But Direct Democracy, to me we have it in effect in the initiative process and I’d kind of like to keep it harnessed. (KQED Forum 9/1/06)

Please see the flip:

Well, this is typical Republican, he’s interested in protecting the entrenched interests. He certainly wouldn’t want the people infecting his government with their petty ideas and nonsensical garbage.  You see, the wise people at the Hoover Instituion know far more about governing the people than that actual people being governed.  It’s blatantly elitist garbage.  nbsp;Chris Lehane, a former White House staffer and one of the contributors to the California Majority Report, first agrees with him(!!) on the substantive blog issue, but eventually calls him out on Prop 89. :

 Lehane: I think Bill makes a lot of good points, I would just sort or challenge the premise that if you’re concerned about Prop 89 and the opposition to it…as the blogosphere evolves and more and more everyday people have access to it it will allow people to transcend some of those historic power centers that have potentially blocked some real reforms that actually do mean something to everyday people. (KQED Forum 9/1/06)

Well, I give Lehane credit for calling Whalen out on Prop 89.  What world does the Hoover Institution live in?  Two entrenched interests fighting against election reform isn’t a sign that it must be bad.  It’s a sign that the entrenched interests like the special access they have.  Sorry, I know the labor people out there won’t agree with me, but I think Prop 89 will be a boon to our government.  We win if the government speaks to the actual people.  Like Bill Clinton said, “When people are talking and listening and thinking, we win.”  

But what upset me more than Whalen’s comments, which come from a Republican, so you expect them, are the comments of Barbara O’Connor, a Professor of Communications at Cal State-Sacramento, who apparently agreed with Whalen completely.  Yes, she doesn’t want any part of our direct democracy infiltrating her little club that she’s got in Sacramento:

Bill’s correct, I read the blogs all the time.  They really do frighten you.  And I don’t want to have that kind of Direct Democracy.  Many of them, by the way, are by journalists.  I don’t want that kind of Democracy either.  But the blueprint thing that I was alluding to harnesses the Sim City game that all of our children use and allows real people to give their priorities to their elected officials.  It’s not taking over government by revolution, it’s an informed citizenry that let’s their views be known.  Clearly, that’s the kind of thing that Chris is talking about where you harness the technology through websites or…we can talk about MoveOn.org and Lieberman a little bit…but I think you have an opportunity as it becomes more mainstream……and I’m hopeful that that kind of thing, and even things like You Tube which frighten people will become more regularized and not so frightening from the far right or the far left…

See, this just doesn’t make sense.  She goes from saying that blogs are “frightening” to saying that she would appreciate citizens being able to let their elected officials know how they feel.  Apparently, that’s not what I’m doing at Calitics.  I’m just angry and extreme.  Huh? I guess Barbara hasn’t actually read Calitics.  I’m neither angry nor extreme. I address issues of electoral politics and public policy issues.  I seek consensus upon a liberal basis. I praise, and scold, politicians of both parties when it is warranted.  Essentially I, the “frightening blogger” am one of these “informed citizens” that Barbara is talking about.  By the way, Prof. O’Connor, I notice you didn’t mention anything about the Right-Wing blogosphere’s attempts on Lincoln Chafee’s career via the Steve Laffey campaign.  I guess it’s only noteworthy when “left-wingers” try to get our views heard.  Lamont is no more extreme than John Kerry, he’s just not part of the in-crowd like Joementum is.  Will Ms. O’Connor be making snide remarks about Chafee?

In the end, I think this bashing is more about selfish self-protection than anything else.  Many insiders, especially Republicans, would like the governing process to remain controlled by the entrenched interests for so long.  They don’t like blogs because they interfere with their power base.  That’s what they are truly scared of.