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Inside Blogotics

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Twitter

Republican commits news via his Twitter posts, and liberal bloggers didn't laugh.

A congressional delegation was visiting Iraq, and the few press outlets that knew about the trip were asked not to report on it until after the lawmakers left Iraq. Nevertheless, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, sent real-time tweets describing where he was and what he was doing to his more than 3,500 subscribers and, in principle, to the entire world.

"Just landed in Baghdad," went one Hoekstra message. "Moved into green zone by helicopter. Iraqi flag now over palace. Headed to new US embassy. Appears calmer, less chaotic than previous" said another, with appropriate punctuation added here. (Commas and periods are luxuries with Twitter's 140-character limit.)

According to Congressional Quarterly, "Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons."

A commenter at Alan Colmes' Liberaland called it "Unbelievable, kinda left speechless on this one."

Faiz Shakir at Think Progress gleefully dug up an old 2006 Hoekstra Op-Ed column in the Los Angeles Times in which the Michigan lawmaker expressed "regret that I see little sign of intolerance for unauthorized disclosures of intelligence to the media from some of my Democratic colleagues today. … We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies — and put American lives at risk."

The analogy to leaking classified information didn't quite hold up, though, because the trip was not classified, and the writer backed off of it.

Still, Karen Tumulty of the Time blog Swampland asked aloud in a post titled "Step away from the BlackBerry, sir": "I wonder: Does Osama bin Laden have a Twitter account? (As the spouse of a State Department reporter, I know first-hand — and appreciate — that these trips are supposed to be kept under wraps. On more than one occasion when Mr. Swamp has traveled with the Secretary, I learned of the fact that he was in Baghdad only after she (and he) arrived there safely.)"

Political idols I

Jeff Miller, aka "the Curt Jester," runs one of the funniest sites in the Catholic blogosphere, but he was not amused in the fall when a San Francisco Bay Area gift shop began selling a "[Barack] Obama votive candle with his face on the body of St. Martin de Porres," a black Peruvian friar who is one of the Catholic Church's first American saints.

Last week, he picked up a San Francisco Chronicle update about a Catholic priest's criticism of the shop. "The Rev. Tony La Torre of St. Philip the Apostle Church, in ever-hip Noe Valley, is so riled up that he's calling for a boycott of the neighborhood's Just For Fun card and novelty shop, which has been selling the $15 candles at a fast clip," the Chronicle reported.

As usual, the headline at Mr. Miller's site was a joke: "Well Obama's policies towards life are wick-ed."

However, he also made a point about the double standards surrounding the appropriation of religious images for secular or comic purposes. The shop "put them right next to the prayer rugs picturing Obama as Mohammed — oh wait they don't have that."

Political idols II

Speaking of dubious saints, Matthew Archbold reports of a canonization last week by the Rev. Miguel D'Escoto, a Nicaraguan priest who also is president of the U.N. General Assembly.

"D'Escoto called Fidel Castro 'the closest thing we have to a saint,'" Mr. Archbold wrote at Creative Minority Report.

"In case you might think I'm taking this out of context, here's what he said [Feb. 11] at the UN, according to The Real Cuba: 'I'm still in debt — and I think all of humanity is — with Fidel Castro, who has dedicated all his life to support and promote solidarity with all the oppressed people of the world. More than a hero, Fidel is the closest thing that we have to a saint in this troubled world.'

"Now, according to 'The Black Book of Communism,' Castro is responsible for the firing squad murder of at least 14,000 people, tyrannical oppression, and torture," Mr. Archbold wrote before going on to make a comparison with another Catholic priest who recently said something profoundly stupid about a tyrannical government.

"I can't help but compare the dramatic reactions our cultural elite have had to Bishop [Richard] Williamson's outrageous denying of the Holocaust to their non-reaction to a priest who is head of the U.N. General Assembly who is not only ignoring the actions of a murderous regime but in fact praising the leader of that regime. And not only is he calling Castro 'a swell guy' like every celebrity who goes over there but D'Escoto is calling him a saint that we are indebted to. Will there be calls for him to step down from the U.N., be excommunicated from the Church, travel to Cuba on a listening tour? Well, let's just say I haven't heard anything yet."

Contact Victor Morton at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.