Back To Business

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: May 16, 2006 3:11 PM

I'm back from NYC now.

I enjoy those conferences. The Kumbaya in me is strong, and it's nice to see righty and lefty politicos hanging out and getting along together. I sat next to Matt Stoller on my panel and had a grand old time.

The two of us, along with David All and Cheryl Contee, addressed a crowd of folks who wondered whether starting blogs was the right thing for their candidate/issue/non-profit/corporation.

Three of four of us were bloggers, so the answer to the question "To Blog or Not to Blog?" was pretty pro-blog but not unequivocal.

All of us cautioned that the nature of a blog is that you have to let go of message control, just a little bit. It is a risk, but the rewards can be great. But, if you're not willing to let loose on the blog, let the writer have a voice, and let the candidate/company/issue have a personality, most of the benefits of blogging are lost.

So, a bad blog may be worse than no blog at all, but we all agreed that everyone with a cause/company to promote should be reading blogs, lest they miss entirely what people are saying about them (and, miss whatever we're saying, of course).

Stoller had some practical tips for those who can't get their bosses to relinquish message control. Instead of writing a blog, make friends with a network of friendly bloggers to whom you can push information and tips.

I made the point that I think media organizations in particular-- or anyone whose mission it is to get info out quickly-- should be blogging because it's such a great way to do just that. The first time I turned a lot of people's heads talking about blogs was when I was in the newsroom and would hear about important stories or angles on stories hours before my colleagues had seen them on the newswire.

It turns out Jill from Feministe was the A-dorable young woman in the front row of my panel, but I never put the face and the name together. I wish I had gotten a chance to talk to her in person. She and I will probably never agree on political issues, but I agreed wholeheartedly with her taste in footwear. Very nice. See how we build bridges?

Well, after all this Kumbaya-ing, I knew I'd come back to a dust-up in the blogosphere after Bush's immigration speech. Hugh and N.Z. Bear have offered all the round-up you could need.

I have said little about immigration because I'm greatly overwhelmed by the issue. I know a few things. I know it's crazy to start illegal aliens on a track to citizenship without first making sure 12 million more don't jump the border at the first word of the new program. So, secure the borders. I know troops and fences sound like perfectly rational, perfectly reasonable tools for securing the border. And, I know that fences have been shown to be effective.

I know I have a instinctive aversion to rewarding bad behavior because, as the saying goes, you get more of it that way. I also know that deporting 12 million illegals seems an impossibility given that we're not even sure that's how many we have here, period.

I know that illegal aliens make a real contribution to this country and this economy by working hard and bringing good values with them. I know that, on the other hand, some illegal aliens are dangerous criminals, some form gangs, and some put pressure on social programs and public resources they're not helping pay for.

I know that I like hearing more about assimilation and less about La Raza. I know I like hearing more about English than bi-lingualism.

But I don't know what to do to solve the problem. And, I have thought and thought and thought. And, I continue to think.

I have a vague idea that I think we'd be better off if the Congress got border security out of the way, as a separate bill, before worrrying about immigration reform. I'm not sure why they absolutely have to go together.

So, that's my big non-answer. As I said, I know a few things, but I'm not sure how they translate into any solution. I'll keep thinking.

In the meantime, there are plenty of people who are quite sure of their thoughts on the subject to keep us all busy and up-to date.

Keep watching Lorie Byrd in her new home, LorieByrd.com. I've been reading her for a long time at Polipundit, she's a fantastic blogger and a great lady, and I'm glad she's sticking with it in her new venue.