Sunday, September 14, 2008

Democrats Hit Bottom, Keep Digging (Chapter 16,543)...

Reader Gary P. sent me to this post over at the Daily Kos, recommending the analysis by Paul Hackett (a well-known liberal commentator who posts over there). The analysis is interesting, but what really caught my eye was Hackett's advice to Democratic operatives in Ohio, saying that the message they should send to the media is this:
"Sarah Palin? Can't keep her solemn oath of devotion to her husband and had sex with his employee. Sarah Palin? Accidentally got pregnant at age 43 and the tax payers of Alaska have to pay for the care of her disabled child. Sarah Palin? Unable to teach her 16 year old daughter right from wrong and now another teenager is pregnant. Sarah Palin? Can you trust Sarah Palin and her values with America's future? John McCain? Divorced from his first wife one month and marries a billionaire influence peddler and convicted felon. John McCain, a record of rash and impulsive decisions. That’s not change that’s more of the same.”
Seriously, this is what he's recommending. It's not a parody or a joke; he means it. It's as if the backfire on the Democrats from all the lies and dirt they've already spread about Palin was invisible. The Democrats are in worse shape than I thought, if this is the level they've descended to...

Farewell from the Commander...

General David Petraeus has turned over his command in Iraq to move up the chain to CENTCOM. We Americans owe this exceptional leader our gratitude. Here's his farewell letter to the troops that were under his command:
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:

It has been the greatest of privileges to have been your commander for the past 19 months. During that time,we and our civilian and Iraqi partners have been engaged in an exceedingly complex, difficult, and important task. And in the face of numerous challenges, we and our partners have helped bring new hope to a country that was besieged by extremists and engulfed in sectarian violence.

When I took command of Multi-National Force-Iraq in February 2007, I noted that the situation in Iraq was hard but not hopeless. You have proven that assessment to be correct. Indeed, your great work, sacrifice, courage, and skill have helped to reverse a downward spiral toward civil war and to wrest the initiative from the enemies of the new Iraq.

Together, Iraqi and Coalition Forces have faced determined, adaptable, and barbaric enemies. You and our Iraqi partners have taken the fight to them, and you have taken away their sanctuaries and safe havens. You have helped secure the Iraqi people and have enabled, and capitalized on, their rejection of extremism. You have also supported the Iraqi Security Forces as they have grown in number and capability and as they have increasingly shouldered more of the responsibility for security in their country.

You have not just secured the Iraqi people, you have served them, as well. By helping establish local governance, supporting reconstruction efforts, assisting with revitalization of local businesses, fostering local reconciliation, and conducting a host of othernon-kinetic activities, you have contributed significantly to the communities in which you have operated. Indeed, you have been builders and diplomats as well as guardians and warriors.

The progress achieved has been hard-earned. There have been many tough days along the way, and we have suffered tragic losses. Indeed, nothing in Iraq has been anything but hard. But you have been more than equal to every task.

Your accomplishments have, in fact, been the stuff of history. Each of you should be proud of what has been achieved and of the contributions you continue to make. Although our tasks in Iraq are far from complete and hard work and tough fights lie ahead, you have helped bring about remarkable improvements.

Your new commander is precisely the right man for the job. General Ray Odierno played a central role in the progress achieved during the surge. He brings tremendous skill, experience, and understanding as he returns to Iraq for a third tour and takes the helm of MNF-I just seven months after relinquishing command of MultiNational Corps-Iraq. I have total confidence in him, and I will do all that I can as the commander of Central Command to help him, MNF-I, and our Iraqi partners to achieve the important goals that we all share for the new Iraq.

Thank you for your magnificent work here in the "Land of the Two Rivers." And thank you for your sacrifices-and for those of your families--during this crucial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am honored to have soldiered with you in this critical endeavor.

With great respect and all best wishes

David H. Petraeus
General, United States Army
In my own experience in the military, commanders like these were rare indeed. I hope that's no longer true – I hope we now have a passel of them tucked away to help us in the tough years ahead. But meanwhile, I'm very glad we've had General Petraeus...


Me, that is – not this guy:

This is James David Manning, Ph. D., of the ATLAH World Missionary Church, in New York. I know nothing about him or his church. After watching this video (sent to me by my brother), my head is still spinning and I'm suffering from some combination of shocked sensibilities, stomach pains from laughing so hard, and hoarseness from cheering. I don't know whether to give this guy a little more exposure, or to soak my computer in some antibiotic solution.

So I put it up here for you to view. I look forward to your reactions...

Obama Takedown...

This is one of the best I've read, and amazingly it's by a British writer – Gerard Baker, writing in the London Times. The piece is brilliant, and I hope you'll read the whole thing. Here's his conclusion:

The essential problem coming to light is a profound disconnect between the Barack Obama of the candidate's speeches, and the Barack Obama who has actually been in politics for the past decade or so.

Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform, the need to change the culture of American political life, to take on the special interests that undermine government's effectiveness and erode trust in the system itself,

Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. As David Freddoso writes in a brilliantly cogent and measured book, The Case Against Barack Obama, the angel of deliverance from the old politics functioned like an old-time Democratic pol in Illinois. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.

Speechmaker Obama talks about an era of bipartisanship, He speaks powerfully about the destructive politics of red and blue states.

Politician Obama has toed his party's line more reliably than almost any other Democrat in US politics. He has a near-perfect record of voting with his side. He has the most solidly left-wing voting history in the Senate. His one act of bipartisanship, a transparency bill co-sponsored with a Republican senator, was backed by everybody on both sides of the aisle. He has never challenged his party's line on any issue of substance.

Speechmaker Obama talks a lot about finding ways to move beyond the bloody battlegrounds of the “culture wars” in America; the urgent need to establish consensus on the emotive issue of abortion.

Politician Obama's support for abortion rights is the most extreme of any Democratic senator. In the Illinois legislature he refused to join Democrats and Republicans in supporting a Bill that would require doctors to provide medical care for babies who survived abortions. No one in the Senate - not the arch feminist Hillary Clinton nor the superliberal Edward Kennedy - opposed this same humane measure.

Here's the real problem with Mr Obama: the jarring gap between his promises of change and his status quo performance. There are just too many contradictions between the eloquent poetry of the man's stirring rhetoric and the dull, familiar prose of his political record.

It's been remarked that the biggest difference between Americans and Europeans is religion: ignorant Americans cling to faith; enlightened Europeans long ago embraced the liberating power of reason. Yet here's an odd thing about this election. Europeans are asking Americans to take a leap of faith, to break the chains of empiricism and embrace the possibility of the imagination.

The fact is that a vote for Mr Obama demands uncritical subservience to the irrational, anti-empirical proposition that the past holds no clues about the future, that promise is wholly detached from experience. The second-greatest story ever told, perhaps.

Nicely said, Mr. Baker!

Loose With the Facts, Again...

The liberals, that is.

A commenter to an earlier post made a standard liberal talking point. If I remove all the boilerplate Team Obama rhetoric, the rants, the bile, the insults, etc., essentially the commenter said this: of course the Republicans donated more to charity – they (the Republicans) are the rich ones, while the Democrats are all poor.

It would be a good point if it were true. But for decades now, the majority of wealthy Americans have been liberals, and have overwhelmingly voted Democratic. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be – just think of the Kennedys, George Soros, Bill Gates, the Pelosis, Kerry/Heinz, nearly all of Hollywood, Oprah, and on and on.

The actual demographic data is actually quite interesting. There's a good article about it here. It's hard to characterize in a simple way, as there's a lot of variation from place to place within the U.S. But speaking very generally, it's safe to say that the majority of America's middle class is conservative or libertarian (leaning Republican), and the majority of both America's wealthy and America's poor are liberal (leaning Democrat). The two best correllates to self-identified liberals are (a) wealth, and (b) living in urban areas. The two best correllates to self-identified conservatives or libertarians are (a) living in suburban or rural areas, and (b) Christian faith.

So my commenter's assertion about why conservatives and libertarions give more to charity doesn't fit with the actual facts – like so many other liberal memes...

The New Sitemeter...

Sitemeter is a web site traffic tracking tool used by many bloggers (and other web sites, I'm sure). I've used it for years, and I liked it enough to keep paying for it. If I'd been asked to grade the old product, I'd have given it a B or B+.

Today Sitemeter, after much fanfare, switched over to a brand-new site. It appears to have been rebuilt from the ground up. My first impressions are all negative. It's slow (though maybe this is partly because they just started up). It's way too complicated. I haven't yet figured out how to get all the information I used to get with a single click. The information I have figured out how to get takes more effort to get it. The old site used to leave me logged in, the new site requires me to re-login after some period of time.

It's just plain awful. I'd give it a failing grade: E. I know they never asked me about the new design, but I'm wondering if they asked anybody at all – the new site looks to me like someone's “brilliant” idea that they never bothered to check out with their customers.

So now I'm looking for an alternative vendor. Does anybody have any recommendations?

Update: The Sitemeter site is now displaying a message saying that they're rolling back to the former system. It doesn't say why, or whether this is a permanent rollback – but just in case they're paying attention: PLEASE! PLEASE MAKE THE ROLLBACK PERMANENT!!!

Sarah and Hillary on SNL...

Reader Simon M., knowing that I don't watch television, passed this clip along:

Dust Devils on Mars...

The little Phoenix lander, far in the north on Mars, managed to image a dust devil dancing across the plains. The dust devils were expected; they're a well-known phenomenon on Mars at this point. Spirit and Opportunity (the two rovers that are still operating on Mars) have encountered and photographed them several times. But I don't think anyone was expecting the stationary Phoenix lander to be able to do so. This site has much more information, and an animation.