Wednesday, December 30, 2009

T'aint no party like a term-limit party

...cause a term limit party don't stop!

One would think, with the term-limited Mayor moving out and a new Mayor moving in most of the political coffee-talk amongst what passes for a chattering class would be focused on administrative items such as cabinet, advisory boards, who the new police chief might be.....

You'd be wrong of course because this is Houston, where it's an ingrained parlour game to ignore the pressing issues (budgets, flood control, public works) for the more flashy ideas such as downtown Minor League Soccer stadiums and term limits.

That's right, term limits because ensuring that elected officials can stay in one place for a very long time is paramount to the issues that I've listed above.

For some reason, bloggers love term limits, or (more accurately) Republican bloggers love term limits and Democratic bloggers love fighting against them. Hell, they're even such a big issue that this little blog now has a blog post focusing on the blogging and reporting surrounding them. Such is the all-powerful allure, for some, of working very hard to ensure the consistently mediocre retain the seats of power that they've influence peddled so arduously to achieve.

Upon further review, there could be another force at work here as well.

Let's call it the Burka effect. You see, when George W. two-stepped his way to the White House Mssr. Burka effectively lost much of his insider's edge. For a long time he had been fed tid-bits from Bush's inner circle that allowed him to get out in front on several major stories. Once that team obtained a DC PO Box, that influence was gone. Burka today is a shell of his former self, reduced to expounding on gossip disseminated by the truly plugged in while he waits for the doorman to once again validate his ticket and allow him inside the club.

What the elimination of term limits really do is ensure that the same person guarding the velvet rope is there for a much longer duration. Relationships can be forged, fawning news stories and blog posts can be written granting said writer the ear of those with the key to the castle. Much more than allowing themselves in, (all MSM journalists, and most serious political bloggers from the same party can get in with little trouble) familiarity is all about who can be kept out.

Then there's always the issue of backing the wrong horse. Journalists do a much better job than bloggers of hiding their biases. I'm fairly certain that "fake impartiality" is a requirement a Journo school that must be completed before a degree is officially rewarded. True, you won't find the course on any curriculum, but I'm willing to bet you that Dan Rather has written the text book. Bloggers, traditionally, wear their political hearts on their sleeve, often taking the slightest political transgression and hyping it up as the Houston equivalent of Watergate. One thing that political reporting has lost (irrevocably IMO) is some sense of perspective when scandals are outed. Even MSM journos tend to overstate minutia in the interest of generating page views.

The point is that, as opposed to their MSM content overlords, when bloggers step on themselves they can REALLY step on themselves. Often to the point of losing access. I'm not talking about a meltdown on a personal level, where a blogger freaks out and starts penning arcane posts, or when a journo fires off an e-mail in anger that someone doesn't share their opinion. Nope, I'm talking about a blogger being shut-out of those fun bloggy things because they were too gung-ho for backing the wrong side. You've seen it happen, bitter bloggers sitting outside political rallies, peeking through the windows while their counterparts (who had the good sense to back the winning candidate) sit down at long tables furiously live-blogging an event that most of their readers are at anyway. Currently the reward is inclusion and free wi-fi. Personally I'm holding out until I'm bribed with free food and booze. Hey, even bad bloggers need to have standards.

There are times (most times actually) that I enjoy reading political blogs more than I do MSM reporting, primarily due to the level of passion that one finds in blogging over reporting. However, with certain stories there is a real need for honest, impartial reporting. While that's become rarer and rarer it's still out there if one chooses to look for it.

The sad downside to the rise in blogging is the rise in importance of the divisive and the lowered focus on the mundane. After all, public works, flood control and the intricacies of balancing a budget are less likely to be blogged about than a list of possible names for the new political machines that could arise when/if term limits are abolished.

My choice: Southampton Social Club

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