Monday, September 1, 2008

Keeping It Classy, As Only The Lefties Can...

Rachael Lucas is having a great time this weekend:
This is the most fun I’ve had on the internet since Al Gore invented it. Holiday weekends are usually the slowest but this one is like a turbo bullet train and I’m totally enchanted and mesmerized. Not even so much about Palin herself as the reaction to her on both sides, such as the right’s giant collective woody and the left’s giant collective fetal-position thumb-sucking crying-itself-to-sleep heartache. How’s the left dealing with everything? With pure solid-gold class, that’s how.
Don't miss the rest of it – it only gets better, and there's even a surprise ending: she's leaving Rupert for her new love...

Freedom of the Press in Russia...

It's gotten to the point where you pretty much expect any dissenting Russian journalist to be killed. The more entrenched Putin has become as Russia's chief thugocrat, the lower the life expectancy of any Russian journalist who doesn't toe the Putin line.

This most recent case is from Ingushetia, which is near Georgia and South Ossetia. Excerpted from the Wall Street Journal:
Police arrested and shot to death Sunday the head of an Internet news service who had been critical of authorities in the volatile Caucasus province of Ingushetia.


Authorities in Moscow issued a statement confirming Mr. Yevloyev was shot in the head while in police custody Sunday in an "incident" that is under investigation. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin didn't elaborate, saying a check to clarify the circumstances of Mr. Yevloyev's death had begun. The committee is under the Russian Prosecutor General's office.

Mr. Yevloyev had been a vociferous critic of Ingushetia's governor, a former security-service agent who has been backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Mr. Yevloyev had charged that regional and federal agents were brutalizing the locals, and kidnapping and assassinating political enemies. In June, a judge ordered him to close down his site on charges of spreading "extremist" statements, but it lately reappeared under a different name.

Mr. Yevloyev had been in Moscow on business during the weekend and was arrested Sunday morning as he stepped off a plane that landed in Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia. He was whisked away in an armored jeep of Russia's Interior Ministry and dumped a short time later near a local hospital with a single bullet wound through the head, said a friend, Mogamed Khazbiyev, who had gone to the airport to meet him.


Mr. Yevloyev was the latest in a series of Russian journalists to have died in suspicious circumstances. The death of Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in October 2006 at her Moscow apartment, highlighted the dangers faced by Russia's independent press. Ms. Politkovskaya was a lead reporter at Novaya Gazeta, a Moscow-based newspaper that specializes in muckraking and probes of government corruption. She was the third journalist at the paper to die under mysterious circumstances. Paul Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was shot on a Moscow street in July 2004.


I've traveled extensively in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. Most of the time I felt completely safe, though at times I was worried about petty thieves (and actually had an expensive camera lens stolen). I would not feel safe today...

How tragic this is for the ordinary Russian citizen. Their country had its chance to take the same course as other former Soviet states, to prosperity and personal freedom. Instead the thugs have taken over, ordinary folks are suffering, lifespans are declining, income is declining, population is declining, and this sort of brutality is now...expected.

Palin and Obama: a Brit's View...

Gerard Baker is the U.S. Editor, and the Assistant Editor, of the Times of London. He's got a piece up today at Real Clear Politics called Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama, focusing on the differences between the two. It's fascinating to see how this foreigner (albeit, one who is very familiar with the U.S.) views the two. Here's his conclusion:

Now it's true there are other crucial differences. Sen Obama has appeared on Meet The Press every other week for the last four years. He has been the subject of hundreds of adoring articles in papers and newsweeklies and TV shows and has written two Emmy-award winning books.

Gov Palin has never appeared on Meet the Press, never been on the cover of Newsweek. She presumably feels that, as a mother of five children married to a snowmobile champion, who also happens to be the first woman and the youngest person ever to be elected governor of her state, she has not really done enough yet to merit an autobiography.

Then again, I'm willing to bet that if she had authored The Grapes of Wrath, sung like Edith Piaf and composed La Traviata , she still wouldn't have won an Emmy.

Fortunately, it will be up to the American people and not their self-appointed leaders in Hollywood and New York to determine who really has the better experience to be president.

Go read the whole thing.

Success in Anbar...

Smells like success to me:
Today in Iraq, responsibility for security in Anbar Province was transferred to Iraqi civilian authorities. Iraqi forces will now take the lead in security operations in Anbar, with American troops moving into an overwatch role. Not long ago, Anbar was one of the most dangerous provinces in Iraq. Al Qaeda was in control of almost every major population center, and its leaders intended to turn Anbar province into a safe haven from which to plan and launch further attacks against Iraqis and others in the region, as well as here at home.

Today, Anbar is no longer lost to al Qaeda - it is al Qaeda that lost Anbar. Iraqis - like countless other Muslims across the world - witnessed al Qaeda's brutality first-hand and rejected it. As a result, Anbar has been transformed and reclaimed by the Iraqi people. This achievement is a credit to the courage of our troops, the Iraqi Security Forces, and the brave tribes and other civilians from Anbar who worked alongside them.

Today's ceremony returns the 11th of 18 provinces to provincial Iraqi control. Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed Special Groups remain a threat, but the United States and the nations of Multi-National Forces-Iraq continue to stand with the Iraqis as they work to defeat these enemies and build a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. The success of Iraq will make the American people more secure and help yield the peace we all desire.
President Bush's statement today, lauding the Anbar handover.

Handovers like this (though perhaps not as significant, admittedly) have been occuring on a near-daily basis in Iraq for the past couple of months. The lamestream media's response is predictable, but very disappointing nonetheless. Their rules seem to be:
American casualties, rumors of quagmires, real or imagined atrocities, accusations by our enemies: front-page news, naturally.

American success in Iraq: not so much – ignore it or bury it.
And they keep bleating about their declining readership or viewership. You'd think that after getting bludgeoned over the head enough times with the facts, they'd wise up and start more balanced coverage of the news. There are even a few success stories out there to guide them: the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and USA Today, all of which are doing well.

But instead we see precipitous declines in the numbers for nearly all major news outlets. The New York Times numbers are falling at a rate that must be terrifying its Board of Directors. Ditto the Los Angeles Times. Right here in San Diego, the Union-Tribute (known locally as the “Union-Buffoon”) is in disaster territory, announcing multiple waves of layoffs within the past year and publicly putting themselves up for sale – and no interested buyers have appeared yet.

In any industry I'm familiar with, the Board of Directors of each such company would long ago have taken some concrete action to staunch the bleeding. When I see nearly an entire industry headed into the toilet like this, with no mystery whatsoever about the solution to their financial woes, I can only think of one explanation: liberal ideologues must hold majorities on those Boards. They are deliberately making bad business choices in order to keep pumping out the liberal viewpoints, talking points, and narratives. How sad for all those shareholders...

If you think I'm spouting stuff and nonsense, consider talk radio. There are a few liberal talk radio shows, not a single one of which is making much money. There are hundreds of conservative and libertarian talk radio shows, many of which are making good money, and some of which are raking in the big bucks (think Limbaugh). Do you think it's an accident that more people want to listen to conservative viewpoints? Given how few television or print news outlets have a neutral perspective (much less a conservative perspective), doesn't it strike you as significant that they are the only such outlets that are growing and profitable?

Obama's National Service Plan...

The One's web site is not lacking in documentation of Obama's promises, proposals, and plans. One of these is his National Service Plan, documented in this fact sheet (PDF). You really can only understand the magnificent liberal insanity of it by reading the whole thing, but here are some things from it that jumped out at me:
  • “In November, Barack Obama laid out a comprehensive plan to provide all Americans with a world-class education and give our schools a substantial infusion of funds to support teachers and principals and improve student learning. That plan conditions that assistance on school districts developing programs to engage students in service opportunities. Obama believes that middle and high school students should be expected to engage in community service for 50 hours annually during the school year or summer months.”

    Translation: He's going to send a lot more federal dollars to local schools, if they require every kid to “volunteer” 50 hours a week of community service. Of course, just like every other federal school funding program that's conditioned on the schools toeing the line, the vast majority of school districts will leap on this. So our kids will be headed off to a week or two of slave labor every year. This is a wonderful peek into the liberal mindset: if some group of people don't want to do what you want them to do, then force them!

  • “In recent years, social entrepreneurs have been the catalyst for much social innovation in education, economic development, health and the environment. By developing innovative solutions to important social issues, social entrepreneurs provide many of the important services that address human needs, improve our quality of life, and make democracy work better.”

    Translation: “social entrepreneur” is lefty-speak for what the rest of us would call a government-paid meddler. Unlike real entrepreneurs, “social entrepreneurs” don't earn a profit by providing things that people want. Instead, “social entrepreneurs” take your money (through taxes) and shove things you don't want down your throat. Not my idea of a good time...or progress.

  • “Barack Obama’s national service plan will cost about $3.5 billion per year when it is fully implemented. He will maintain fiscal responsibility and prevent any increase in the deficit by offsetting cuts and revenue sources in other parts of the government. This plan will be paid for in part by cancelling tax provisions that would otherwise help multinational corporations pay less in U.S. taxes starting in 2008 by reallocating tax deductions for interest expenses between income earned in the U.S. and income earned abroad. The rest of the plan will be funded using a small portion of the savings associated with ending the war in Iraq.”

    Translation: Total bullshit! This is my favorite part of the entire document – the final paragraph. It's titled A Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility – and what a load of crap that is.

    The BS starts right at the beginning, with the notion that all the programs described in this paper could be funded for $3.5 billion per year. A more level-headed estimate would be in the range of $15 billion per year, and that's making the wholly unwarranted assumption that government spending would be done efficiently.

    The tax provisions he's talking about canceling were those enacted to bring U.S. tax practice into line with international practice. These provisions were intended to keep U.S.-based multinational corporations in the U.S. – and they're working. Basically what these provisions do is stop our former practice of double-taxing multi-national corporations – so that if a company is taxed on money it made in (say) France, the U.S. would not require the company to pay U.S. income tax on that money in addition to the French tax. This is how the tax code works in most of the world. Before we implemented these provisions, U.S.-based multinational corporations were picking up and moving overseas – because in many cases they would save millions or even billions by doing so. Obama could only raise money this way for a few years, because after that those companies will all be located somewhere else...

    And then there's that last bit of double-speak about using “savings” from ending the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq is being funded (like any war) through a series of “extraordinary” (meaning outside the budget) funding resolutions. Obama is proposing that after the war is over, we'll simply add the amount of those outside-the-budget funding resolutions to the budget, to fund this National Service Plan. Somehow in the twisted liberal world view, that constitutes “savings.” You just can't make this stuff up...

Sarah Palin Mashup...

The photos in this video slide show reinforce my impression from reading about Sarah Palin and her family: they truly seem to be people imbued with traditional American ideals, experiences, and accomplishments, thrust into a political world full of very different animals. They seem to have an ordinary American's common sense; they've faced the same kinds of problems we all have. They are not only a family full of people I can identify with; they are people I can admire.

In the other three top-of-the-ticket candidates we have an Ivy-league elitist with a suspicious background (especially ties to the Chicago political machine and to unapologetic American radical terrorists), a genuine American war hero of towering ego and questionable intellect, and a traditional glad-handing, plastic-smiling politician with a runaway mouth and little actual achievement. None of these are people I can easily identify with. None of these are people I admire, or aspire to be like. None of these are people I'd hang with.

Sarah and Todd Palin? It's easy to imagine having them over for dinner...