Monday, January 31

I'VE BEEN LABELED A "RIGHTIE BLOGGER" -- I'VE ARRIVED !!!

In what must be a right of passage for we center-right, newbie polibloggers, I've been labeled a rightie blogger today by professional journalist and erstwhile lefty blogger (ah, come on, can't I send it back across the net and with a little backspin?) Barbara O'Brien in this deliriously delicious post at her popular left-of? (well, I'm not quite sure) blog, The Mahablog.

Gee, I feel as though I've been knighted. She found me at the Daou Report this morning and with what ever other travels she made through the blogosphere determined that my post was among her favorite rightie fulminations of the day. Accordingly, I'm honored. No, that's not the word. I'm exhilarated.

Fact is, it's been a red letter (better yet, "red state") kind of day for me. Betsy Newmark, over at a favorite blog of mine, Betsy's Page, linked to the same post as Barbara O'Brien, and as did the "Daou Report." That's made the ol' Site Meter skip a few gears and raised my systolic pressure. If Nancy Reagan and Barbara Boxer call this afternoon, I'll really know I've made some synapses spark.

Actually, I was tempted for a moment to write an email to Barbara O'Brien to thank her, and genuinely so, for the link. But she advises that she's not good about replying to emails. So, I've opted to thank her in another way. I put her blog in my blogroll, albeit under the heading, "Caveat Emptor." As Don Corleone advised son Michael: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

Now, then, what would be a fitting finale to the day? How about the "New York Times" reporting that Hillary Clinton didn't pass out from a bout of the stomach flu after all, that truth be known a member of her staff had slipped her a printed copy of B.A. Higgins' delirious post before she went on stage and she simply had trouble digesting it.

HILLARY CLINTON COLLAPSES, THEN RECOVERS

This report from Associated Press indicates that Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) collapsed while delivering a speech today on Social Security. Her fainting spell may have been brought on by a touch of the stomach flu. The report indicates she has since resumed her day's itinerary. We hope she's recovered and that there's nothing seriously wrong.

MORE FAN MAIL FOR PRESIDENT BUSH

This column from John Podhoretz will get printed and go into one of those bulging files of mine where I keep things that stir me and raise goose bumps. Credit Lucianne for linking to John's gem and the New York Post for publishing it.

MICKEY KAUS HASN'T FIGURED OUT THE MACHINATIONS OF TED KENNEDY'S MIND YET ?!?

Betsy Newmark over at Betsy's Page links to and quotes from this curious query from none other than Mickey Kaus: namely, and I paraphrase, that Ted Kennedy, having given an inflammatory anti-Iraq War speech just a matter of days preceding what turned out to be (and beyond the expectations of many pundits) a most successful national election in Iraq, cast himself at least temporarily like a fool and Mickey wonders what would possess the Senator to do that -- to set himself up for a potential tumble. Mickey's wonderment over Kennedy's political judgement was published in this article in Slate.

Betsy answers Mickey's question for him, succinctly: Perhaps Kennedy is a fool.

Kennedy must have been intrigued by Kaus' question, because he chose to answer it in this fashion right on the heels of the massive voter turnout in Iraq.

My own answer is that Kennedy is only a national figure because of his brothers, John and Robert -- a beloved, assassinated president and an aggressive, assassinated U.S. Attorney General -- and his seniority in the United States Senate. He's a left-of-Left liberal in the grand tradition and he has well-known character flaws. His judgement has been bad, both personally and professionally, numerous times and, more often than not, he lands on the wrong side of issues. Americans have an abiding curiosity with celebrity, so they're drawn to this man. But Ted's politics have never resonated nationally. In other words, what he did just before the Iraq election and just after it were altogether predictable, rather than aberrations. And let's not forget that it was Ted Kennedy who put his Party clout and campaign staff behind John Kerry's candidacy and then couldn't get the baby delivered last November (or if he did, it was arguably a breech delivery).

Mickey Kaus is being disingenuous and is simply distancing himself from Kennedy's bumbling. Good move, Mickey!


INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 26, 2004, ASIAN TSUNAMI

Here is an initial assessment, current through January 10, 2005, of the impact of the cataclysmic Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004, on south and southeast Asia, provided by the Asian Development Bank. It sounds all too clinical and antiseptic to me. While it duly notes the tremendous loss of life (estimated at 165,000 persons and with a potential, owing to health-related problems, of reaching 300,000, according to UNICEF) and the likelihood of even greater poverty for those impacted in the rural areas who were already hard-pressed to eke out an existence, it basically concludes that the macroeconomies of south and southeast Asia will weather this natural disaster just fine, bounce back quickly and, by implication, banks will be unscathed and new buisness opportunities for them should abound.

As I read through the report, I kept thinking about the incessant appeals for money backdropped by the numerous firsthand reports of United Nations officials on the scene living high on the hog, affected governments interfering with relief efforts, tourism returning to posh, beachfront hotels even before bodies had been recovered, and the recurring question of whether the aid will get to the people who need it most. Even Colin Powell at one point, and risking international criticism, said the brakes had better be put on the charitable giving, as coordination efforts couldn't keep up with the supplies and money pouring in to these countries from the world community. Meanwhile, however, former presidents Bush and Clinton continue to appear in television commercials asking for contributions to the broadening relief efforts.

I welcome a different perspective from those in the blogosphere who have been monitoring the response to the devastating tsunami more closely than I.

Among the conclusions of this report:

... it appears that despite the unprecedented scale of loss of human life, homelessness, and displaced populations, the macroeconomic impact of the disaster will be limited and marginal. The damage is largely confined to rural areas, rather than key economic and densely populated urban centers and industril hubs. Still, the economic impact will be felt severely at the local and community levels, dragging hundreds of thousands of people into even deeper poverty.

Judging by the extent of the damage, the economies of the Maldives and Sri Lanka are the most affected due to their smaller size.

While Indonesia has been severely affacted in terms of losses of human life ... the overall Indonesian economy will be barely affected.

The same applies to the case of India, where due to the size of its economy the macro impact will be minimal.

In the case of Thailand ... most of the country's tourist spots, including Bangkok, have been spared.

... following strong growth from 2001 to 2003, the economies of India, Indonesia, malaysia and Thailand should be in a position to overcome the tragedy.

The direct economic impact of the December 26, 2004, events will come through the negative effects on consumption and business activity in the areas affected. The disaster should not have an impact on the financial markets, much less lead to a financial or economic crisis.

The tourism sector could be negatively affected for a short period of time ...

The aid process has already increased demand for a range of domestic goods and services, including food, drink (water), medicines, building materials, and clothing, as well as transport and communication services, which will benefit a number of domestic businesses. Therefore, it is possible that the overall impact could well end up somewhat positive.

If previous experiences with natural disasters provide any guidance, we should expect some decrease in economic activity followed by a policy response that tends to involve government spending, leading ultimately to economic recovery in about a year.

As of January 10, 2005, the relief aid pledged by the international community amounts to USD 5.0 billion.

One of the factors that has led to the initial assessment that the GDP impact of the tsunami will be slight is that most people affected in the agriculture and fishing sectors have been bypassed in the rapid growth of the last four years.

... for the same reason that the macroeconomic effects may be slight, the poverty impacts may be substantial, especially at the local level. Poverty is potentially the most important effect of this natural disaster.



LIMBAUGH WARNS BUSH TO TOUGHEN UP ON SPENDING & IMMIGRATION REFORM

Rush Limbaugh has rightly warned President Bush that a debilitating schism could develop within Party ranks, undermining the president's entire second term agenda, if Bush doesn't rein in profligate federal spending and secure this nation's borders. In this WSJ Opinion piece by John Fund, Limbaugh is quoted as saying: We cannot maintain our sovereignty without securing and protecting our borders in an era when terrorists around the world seek entry to this country. Fund elaborates: Many Republicans are steaming about what they see as White House obtuseness on immigration.

Count this writer as one Republican who is sorely unhappy with the president's "Guest Worker" proposal which, in my view, is tantamount to blanket amnesty for millions of illegals in this country and just another in a continuing series of concessions to Mexico's Presidente Vicente Fox. I've written a number of posts this month on this very topic and intend to make immigration reform a focus of this blog.

Fund continues:

Even though the political impact of anti-immigration sentiment can be exaggerated, Mr. Bush would be wise to take steps to ensure that immigration doesn't become what crime and abortion became for the Democrats: wedge issues that drove many voters to the other party. He will not come close to passing a guest-worker program until he proves his bona fides in areas of legitimate concern on immigration.

Immigration is certainly more complex than many border-control advocates would have you believe. But supporters of rational reform that would regularize the flow of immigrant labor should recognize that it must be accompanied by measures to address the legitimate concerns of Americans who worry the federal government has completely lost control of the borders. Many voters don't trust any plan coming out of Washington, whether it's by Mr. Bush or anyone else. It's that concern that is driving Rush Limbaugh and other supporters of the president to send up political warning flares.

DNC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE GIVES FOWLER THE NOD OVER DEAN

The Democratic Party National Committee's Executive Board voted yesterday to recommend Donnie Fowler as the Party's new Chairman, replacing Terry McAuliffe. The Howard Dean candidacy appears to have collapsed, much as he self-imploded in the Democratic Party primaries last year after having gained early momentum. The Party's Executive Board apparently had misgivings about Dean, seeing him as too mercurial and ideologically controversial.

The election to select a new Chairman takes place on February 12th.

For information (and a photograph of) on Fowler's background, kindly click on this link.

UPDATE: Howard Dean has prevailed handily over rival Donnie Fowler in a vote of the state chairs and despite an earlier DNC Executive Board endorsment of Fowler. Dean seems back on track now and with a full head of steam propelling him towards the Democratic Party Chairmanship.

DEMOCRATS' SENATE LEADER IN LOCKSTEP WITH TED KENNEDY

Harry Reid, the Democrats' Senate Leader, will join House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today in echoing Ted Kennedy's pusillanimous call for an exit strategy to return troops home from Iraq. Seems the Democrats are beside themselves over the Bush Administration's success in pulling off national elections in Iraq over the weekend, so rather than salute the Iraqis who courageously turned out to vote in big numbers, they'd rather signal to the insurgents that at least one major American political party is ready to pull the rug out from under a people striving clearly now to free themselves from terror's grip. They appear, more and more, to be the Desparation Party, and Reid seems ready, willing and able to take his Party right over the cliff in lockstep with the Kennedy-Kerry-Boxer-Pelosi wing of the Party. Hillary Clinton, eyeing the 2008 race, isn't being as precipitous.

Sunday, January 30

ON THE SAME PAGE WITH MICHELLE MALKIN

If you've read my post entitled WHAT DO DEMOCRATS LIKE, ANYWAY? then you'll come to the same conclusion as I in reading this post of Michelle Malkin's.

It would appear we're on the same page in decrying Democrats for neither having anything positive nor substantive to say on the heels of the historic election in Iraq in which bravery and fortitude were on display and under the watchful gaze of a mostly cynical world. The Iraqis have deserved better from our nation's Democratic leaders.

I'm not as pithy as Michelle, obviously; I guess I had to vent. Hope you stayed the course with me. If so, you have my appreciation! Please return for another visit.

BLUE INK THAT MARKS BRAVERY AND LOVE OF FREEDOM

If you're feeling a deep sense of pride this evening for what American fighting men and women, and this country's true allies, accomplished in ushering in a new dawn of liberty in Iraq; and, if you're equally proud of the bravery in evidence in the amazing voter turnout in yesterday's democratic election in Iraq; then, please, read this post from "GOP Bloggers" and bookmark or blogroll that site, if you have not already done so.

Have a good evening, and visit again!

WHAT DO DEMOCRATS LIKE, ANYWAY?

The thought occurs that Democrats -- the professional "pols" and their obsequious handlers and panderers -- are an unhappy lot. They bray and thump their chests and wring their hands, and just "Kerry" on so. It seems anymore that not a thing pleases them. I imagine Barbra Streisand is at her keyboard tonight venting and baring teeth. Dean's probably having a histrionic fit somewhere testing his falsetto. Boxer's no doubt punching the heavy bag with tears streaming down her cheeks, raging at dull-witted Ohioans. Heinz-Kerry is castigating the First Lady for her naivete and schoolgirl devotion.

You'd think the big, brave, triumphant turnout in Iraq's election yesterday would have inspired these people to say something nice, something inspirational, something substantive. But jackasses they are, and jackasses they shall remain. There's not even been a show of support from the Democratic Party's robust, radical, self-absorbed feminist wing. They celebrate abortion, so maybe it's no wonder that 40 or 50 more Iraqi deaths matter not a lick to them. Death and mayhem are as inconsequential to them, as Condoleezza's ascent from obscurity, or Monica's fall from grace. Odd that they cannot applaud the liberation of Iraqi and Afghanistan women who ventured out and into the open, under risk to life and limb, to exercise their right of Choice in historic elections. Tell me, why is it that shedding a bra is more important to them than an Arab woman shedding a veil?

John Kerry went on television this morning to importune Americans not to over-hype the first democratically-held election in over 50 years in Iraq. Dozens lost their lives in the process of exercising their right to vote yesterday, and only because they chose freedom over tyranny, and found courage deep within despite threatening taunts from thugs. And so Iraqi families grieve tonight. Tears flow in shattered Iraqi homes. It shouldn't be so, but it is so, for that is the face of terrorism -- its aftermath. Terrorism hides behind hoods and slinks in the shadows to slay and wreak havoc. Cowards slayed Iraqis yesterday; now Democrats slay the dignity that the dead well deserve.

Teresa's life-of-luxury husband had not a positive thing to say to them. Appalling, isn't it? Indeed, neither Senator Kerry nor Senator Kennedy can find anything good to say anymore to anyone. Kennedy just drones on in his raw, raspy, whiskey-scarred voice about wanting the troops home, mirroring how he hailed the fall of Saigon and America's ignominious withdrawal from South Vietnam years ago. He's bigtime into retreat and appeasement, and fashions that building grand, public coffers-draining tunnels under Boston is his patriotic calling. And Kerry, of course, is not new to railing about war, while charging America and Americans alike with gross misdeeds. He decrys missle systems with the same passion that he shops for fashionable wet suits.

Kennedy-Kerry; Feinstein-Boxer; Clinton-Clinton; Jackson-Sharpton. What political tag teams for the ages. And poor ol' statesmanlike Joe Lieberman gets relegated to the dung heap. In the Democratic Party, you see, it doesn't pay to be an American first. Just ask Zell Miller. What pays is having a razor-sharp tongue, a rogue's blasphemy, and a taste for the deceit and grotesque cunning of a Michael Moore. Even Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter saddled up to Moore at the DNC's convention, basking in the notoriety of the propagandist's fame.

And now along comes their chief financier, George Soros. Seems he can't say anything nice either. Like the dysfunctional family that the Democrats have become, they not only find cause to slash and burn much that is good in this country and much that is right about what this country does and intends to do, but they turn ravenously on one another, like mad dogs starved, salivating, and seeking fresh carion to devour. No real surprise in this egregious behavior, however. Democrats are as parsimonious with praise as they are proligate with pretense. It takes awfully special people for the Democrats to draw ranks around them and laud. It takes a scatalogical, foul-mouthed Whoopie Goldberg monologue to get their adrenaline flowing and their hands pumping with applause.

Bush gets pilloried. Cheney gets nailed. Rumsfeld gets smacked. Rice gets berated. Clarence Thomas gets called every name in the book. Child psychologist James Dobson nearly drowns under a tidal wave of mockery. Even center-right bloggers are characterized as extremists, partisan hacks and rottweilers in sheep's clothing. Their vitiol truly knows no bounds. No, adulation is held in plentiful reserves by Democrats only to be sanctimoniously parceled out to punks who rock, celebrities who pander, do-nothing Senators who spent Christmas in Cambodia, and presidents who have Oval Office assignations with White House interns.

And they wonder why 60 million American voters said, NO!, last November.

"HE'S GOT US UNDER HIS SKIN"

No, that's not a bungled line from a famous Frank Sinatra tune. Well, okay; kinda. But it's an apt description of what Eloise over at Spitbull alludes to in her post on the war of words being waged by columnist Nick Coleman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune against what he terms the "extreme bloggers," although who's kidding whom, as his broad stroke of the brush tirades generally leave no one in the blogosphere unscathed. But the object of Coleman's contempt for bloggers seems to center primarily on the co-founder of Powerline, and from what Eloise has to say on the boiling exchange between the two, it'll take more than an elephant rifle for Coleman to fell Scott Johnson. Indeed, Coleman has met the enemy and seems his scalp hangs resplendent on Scott's paneled office walls.

If he's nothing else, Coleman is entertaining in his hysteria. For a professional writer he comes across as a bit windy, kind of like Roget's Thesarus pouring out of a heavily-amplified loudspeaker. He chastised Powerline's trio of bloggers as partisan hacks and rottweilers in sheep's clothing back in December. He damn sure seems to have a bur in his saddle. That or maybe he was just overwrought from holiday depression.

Anyway, it's a fun post. Coleman's not left with so much as a pulse. And be sure to click on all of the links in the post, as Eloise sews up the corpus delicti like a skilled mortician.

MORE ON JOHN KERRY'S BRAVURA PERFORMANCE SINGING FROM THE SAME TIRED SONGBOOK

Polipundit comes across as more than a bit annoyed over (and consistent with all we center-right polibloggers) John Kerry's auto-pilot, sourpuss ("dour and negative") ruminations on the election in Iraq and all things Bush. But, something good did spring from Kerry's public teta-a-tete with the imperious Tim Russert. Kerry, belatedly, has agreed to release all of his military records. Sure! And Ted Kennedy is going to learn to hold his breath underwater by practicing deep-diving under the Dike Bridge at Chappaquiddick.

Instapundit
intends to track this commitment and hold Kerry's feet to the fire. Film at eleven!

HARDLY A WAY FOR WILLIAMS TO UPSTAGE BROKAW

Betsy Newmark at Betsy's Page advises that NBC's newly-minted anchor (he of perfect coiffure, but repressed personality) is apparently confined to quarters and not keeping up with the Geraldo Riveras (let alone the high-octane bloggers) of the news world on the breaking, post-election news out of Iraq. Score another one for the MSM and its news' honchos.

"A BUNCH OF TRIFLING DO-GOODERS"

Lucianne carries this provocative eyewitness account of Asian tsunami relief efforts going awry owing to the circus-like antics of United Nations' workers, officers of the Indonesian military (of which I've posted on previously), and media representatives aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier -- what a U.S. Navy officer describes as a floating hotel for a bunch of trifling do-gooders.

KERRY IS CONGENITALLY PREDISPOSED TO DOUBLESPEAK

I made reference in an earlier post this morning to John Kerry's appearance on today's edition of NBC's "Meet The Press" and how he continues to be all-over-the-board in his political statements. You'd think, having lost, that he'd firm up his positions, make a concerted effort at consistency, and try his best to shed the flip-flopping that made him persona non grata to 60 million voters last November.

The Happy Capitalist, in this post, captures what I was alluding to. Yet another memorable performance from this stylish wind surfer, who can't seem to locate the prevailing breeze!

TED KENNEDY'S LICKING HIS WOUNDS

The best the Democratic Party's pseudo-statesman could come up with today, as this nation looks on with admiration at the bravery of Iraqis who put casting their ballots ahead of protecting their bodies, was to issue a statement that the president must develop a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq lest Iraqis begin thinking that we devious Americans have designs on their country and, by inference, their oil. What unadulterated crap. You have to have the Senator's singularly flawed character to impugn the character of this country and its president.

"THE CRUX OF MODERN CONSERVATISM"

George Will, not a reluctant critic of the president's Middle East policies, writes glowingly, in this column (published in the New York Post), of President Bush, the grand themes of his Second Inaugural Address, and the president's determination to implement an ownership society; and, of George Bush's endorsement and enforcement of certain essential values -- the attitudes and aptitudes necessary for increased individual independence ... to combat the learned incompetence of persons who become comfortable with excessive dependence on and supervision by government.

BRAVO, MR. WOLFE, BRAVO !!!

I'll be anxious to see if William F. Buckley Jr. and Peggy Noonan, among others who chose to parse the president's Second Inaugural Address (an address that surely seems to gain considerable currency today against the backdrop of Iraq's historic election), will feel compelled to answer Tom Wolfe's thesis (published in the New York Times) that George Bush's clarion call for freedom over oppression, and liberty over tyranny, is but a logically-linear extension of the Monroe Doctrine, albeit cast in a world in which hemispheres have dissolved and natural boundaries no longer immunize nations against the forces of evil.

PRESIDENT BUSH TO SPEAK TO THE NATION

FOX News just announced that President Bush will address the nation shortly at 1:00pm EST on the historic election in Iraq. Having heard more of John Kerry's patented, all-over-the-board observations (as were served up day after day in last year's presidential campaign) earlier this morning, as Tim Russert interviewed the Senator on NBC's "Meet The Press," it will be a pleasure to listen to the real deal -- a genuine leader of consequence, who has stayed the course, been a visionary, and made an epochal impact on what has long been characterized as the troubled Middle East.

Jimmy Carter should put his Nobel Peace Prize in the mail today and forward it to the man he has so abused and whose policies he's relentlessly criticized.

"INSHALLAH ..." (GOD WILLING ...)

Here's a column from The New Zealand Herald (courtesy of Google News) that gives one a good sense of what Iraqi voters faced when the polls opened and just how determined most were to cast their ballots. It's such a remarkable story. In the cradle of civilization have come the first stirrings of a nascent democracy.

FROM A GRATEFUL "NEWBIE" BLOGGER

Many thanks to Betsy Newmark at Betsy's Page and Lorie Byrd at Polipundit, both of whom linked to this post of mine yesterday. I'm grateful to both and, as readers of my blog are aware, both of these highly popular, engaging sites appear in my blogroll. It's nice of these veterans at established sites to lend a hand to a rookie.

OVER 1,400 HAVE DIED, BUT FOR A NOBLE RESULT

America and its true allies have prevailed. A proud people caught in the grip of oppression for so long is on its way to freedom and self-rule now. It's been a tortuous journey -- both militarily and politically -- but democracy has won the day. From spider hole to ballot box, Iraqis have stayed the course, as have their liberators. Intimidators and naysayers alike have been answered. The mettle of a nation was tested and courage soared over cowardice. Ballots trumped bombs. An imperfect election seems somehow perfect, far eclipsing expectations. Yes, people have died, but in a noble cause; and for those who lived to see this day, to cast their choices in a free election, to stand in a polling booth, thus rejecting the legacy of Suddam Hussein's genocidal brutality, they and all the world will long remember this day. For tyranny has foundered on the rocks of liberty and tyrants have been disarmed by ballots.

HIGH VOTER TURNOUT: "A BULLET IN THE HEART OF THE ENEMY"

Good Morning, Readers! What a grand morning!

Where to begin? The polls have officially closed in Iraq. According to independent election commission estimates, and in what for apathetic American voters ought to be an embarrassingly high, mind-boggling number, a whopping 72% of eligible voters turned out to vote in Iraq's first election in some 50 years. The naysayers have been left twisting in the wind. Indeed, as one jubilant Iraqi observed: the exceptional turnout was a bullet in the heart of the enemy.

The Iraqis did a gut check and truly won the day! This election is so different from most, so inimitable. Once the final tally is in, it will be more a celebration of a nation's courage (and of America's determined liberation of that nation), than a victory dance for the candidates who won.

The best Americans have ever done was a 63% turnout in the presidential election of 1960. We of the grand democratic traditions -- America, the cradle of democracy -- have never come close to approaching this kind of stunning demonstration of democracy in a single election. It is truly a testimony to the will of a long-oppressed people to be free. Self-rule has come to Iraq. And let it be said that the Iraqis withstood a juggernaut of terrorism and insurgency -- a hail of bombs and bullets -- and defied their enemies, while casting their ballots proudly.

Can you imagine how President Bush feels this morning? And what of Ted Kennedy? Oh, I think we know what Ted Kennedy does in the face of danger, both personally and professionally.

Saturday, January 29

A PRAYER FOR THE BRAVE VOTERS IN IRAQ

It's approaching 11:00pm CST here in southeastern Texas. The polls have opened in Iraq. I'm going to call it a night on the blogging front, but will be turning on FOX News to watch the reporting on and from Iraq for awhile. I'm praying for those brave people -- those who have the courage to vote, those too intimidated to venture out to the polling places, all of the people of Iraq who cherish freedom, deplore the ongoing terrorism and insurgency, and who take considerable pride in the fact that an election is underway for the first time in 50 years. What a wonderful day for them, but with the over-arching threat of violence hanging over them like the Sword of Damocles it's a wonder that, as I expect, so many will indeed vote. America should be proud tonight.

I pray too for our men and women in uniform, and for their families and friends, and particularly for the souls of the dead and the speedy recovery of the wounded. They have done us proud. The elections in Iraq are a testimony to their dedication, bravery and strength of character.

And I pray for our President, our Vice President, our Secretary of Defense, and our new Secretary of State. Theirs is a difficult burden and with so much at stake.

IMAGINE IF VOTING HERE WERE AS PERILOUS AS THERE

I just finished reading this columm from STARS and STRIPES about how our troops have been preparing for the election about to take place in a matter of hours in Iraq and it gave me pause.

First, while we applauded ourselves here in America for turning out in bigger numbers than normal in this past November's presidential election, fact is while around 61% of eligible voters went to the polls, 39% did not. That means that 122 million Americans did their civic duty, reaffirming the democratic process, but 75 million -- I repeat, 75 million voters -- found excuses for ignoring the polling place and the election process altogether. Apathy was still very much the order of the day. The only good news in 2004 was that fewer eligible voters as a percentage stayed away than in any prior presidential election since 1968. But that's hardly meritorious. Not when you think of all those rows upon rows of white crosses at Arlington National Cemetary and at other military cemetaries here and overseas.

So why do so many of us engage in speculation over whether Iraqi citizens will show up in large, average or modest numbers tomorrow? The CNN website is even running a poll today asking its readers to speculate on the efficacy of the election -- whether a democratic form of government will even take root in Iraq!

Where do we get off? Because we have troops over there? Because Saddam has been captured and jailed? Because we've poured national treasure into their country? Because we've taken so many casualties and upset the world community in the process? I think none of these good enough reasons. No, this process of speculation we're engaging in seems macabre to me and more than a bit hypocritical. Where do any of our 75 million who sat out our own election, just for starters, get off presupposing what Iraqis will do tomorrow? Seems tantamount to the crowd on the street below yelling for the despondent man up on the 15th story ledge to jump.

Those 75 million in this country who can't bring themselves to get off the couch and vote -- what do they point to? Poor candidates. Lackluster campaigns. The political parties aren't all that different. The politicians are all in cahoots. Inclement weather. Gasoline prices. Long lines at the polling venue. Couldn't find the polling place. Got held up at the office. Bad head cold. Couldn't find a babysitter. The major networks declared a winner before I got off work. And on and on it goes. All excuses. All so much baloney.

And what do their counterparts have to hang their hats on over in Iraq? Car bombs. Anti-tank mines. Anti-personnel mines. High-explosive, surface-to-surface warheads. Rifle grenades. Myriad assault weapons and machine guns. Sniper rifles. Poisons and blistering agents. Bayonets. Butcher knives and head shrouds. Kidnappings. Beheadings. Torture. Rape. And on and on it goes.

They've been threatened. Their families have been threatened. Many of their polling places have already been blown-up. If their names appear on voter registration rolls, they've already been identified for insurgent/terrorist reprisals. In America, a voter gets irritated if there's no bathroom, or its locked, or the coffee pot is empty, or the coffee is cold. In Iraq, a voter gets irritated if an ambulance is not handy, or the supply of tourniquets runs out, or the Election Judge is wearing a black hood.

Voting in America is mostly an issue of convenience and one's schedule. We don't emerge from our homes or offices or universities under curfew, security cover, and with our bladders ready to empty at the sound of boots on pavement. Voting is no longer an act of courage in the United States; it's a matter of conviction.

Much of the world will be glued to their television sets, listening to their radios, or reading their computer monitors tomorrow to find out how much courage there is in a nation ravaged for two decades by Saddam Hussein's ruthlessness and for two years by a war of liberation that dissolved into a massive counter-insurgency. I pray that it does not become akin to the Romans gathered in their Coliseum to watch the Christians led to slaughter.

President Bush is calling tomorrow's election a grand moment. I pray it is that and not a bloodbath. I know this: however large or small the voter turnout, it will be a day of sublime courage that 75 million Americans ought to take to heart and emulate.




UNBELIEVABLE ITEM OF THE DAY (YOU'LL SHAKE YOUR HEAD IN DISBELIEF)

Yesterday, I linked to an article about a bonehead, radical-Left professor who thinks the victims of the "9/11" terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers had it coming and whose views so inspired the leadership of another college that he's been invited to speak there.

Now this!

Interesting that in the former the Left's rationale for giving this idiot -- he of the utterly despicable thesis -- a platform is "Freedom of Speech."

Yet in the latter, up there in ol' Liberal Nirvana (i.e., Oregon), a man is denied his right to "Freedom of Speech" by the Left and forced to remove a patriotic "Yellow Ribbon" decal paying honor to our country's fighting men and women.

It's an outrage!

Seems Leftists go in whichever convoluted direction they think best to justify asinine conduct and if all else fails they just get shrill, scream at the top of their lungs, engage in body contorting histrionics, and make trying to deal with them so impossibly awkward and uncomfortable that we traditionalists oftentimes just shrug our shoulders, shake our heads, and walk away in disbelief.

Fortunately, there are no such concessions to stupidity to be had from center-right polibloggers in the blogosphere. We don't cut tail and run. Kudos to the bloggers who first jumped all over this story. I became aware of it and the WorldNet column over at Wizbang.

TOM PETTY'S SONG COMES TO MIND THIS "MOURNING"

Recall Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' mournful song, Free Falling? The chorus:

and I'm free --- free falling
yeah I'm free --- free falling


Guess I'm not even stuck in neutral on my blogging, as I had thought. Fact is, I've actually managed to put it in reverse gear. That's a tad depressing. I'm free falling!

How do I know? Easy. Just scroll down the righthand column of my blog site and you'll see my TTLB Ecosystem rating, which just retrogressed from Crawly Amphibians to Flippery Fish. I seem stuck these days at around 50 "hits/day" and can't seem to grow my audience of readers. I wrote a review of Hugh Hewitt's new book BLOG earlier in the month and he posted a link to it on his site and that bit of generosity gave me a red-letter day -- over 100 hits. I'm sure that's what kicked me up a notch. Well, I haven't had any serendipity since and so I'm slowly sliding back into blogging oblivion!

I sensed I was in trouble of slip-slidin' away, as I wrote this post not too long ago venting some frustration (in a humorous way, I thought) and searching for some answers. I even wrote an email to the bloggers at Instapundit, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, Wizbang, Patterico, and Truth Laid Bear looking for some answers to the dilemma: how to grow an audience, while being true to your own voice; exactly what are the tricks of the trade? Not a one replied to me. That was disappointing.

So I lumber on at the keyboard hoping some magic will develop and some folks will find my eclectic mix of traditional values, center-right politics, heartfelt causes (Pro-Life and Immigration Reform), and smattering of humor compelling enough to keep coming back for more. And along the way, I hope many of those readers will bookmark my blog, or, better yet, place it in their own blogrolls, and, even better still, link to my posts and give me the blogosphere's equivalent of some word-of-mouth advertising.

I know I just began my blog back on December 7, 2004; but, I'm an impatient sort. I do know this: I love to write, as it comes easily for me (now, for whatever reason, as it didn't years ago); and, whether or not it's any good, I'll continue writing, because for me it's something that gives me great satisfaction, as I'm kind of a contradiction in terms. I'm a private person who nonetheless wants to leave a part of himself behind so people will have known how I think, what I feel, and where I place importance in this world.

So, if you've gotten this far, perhaps we're kindred spirits, or maybe (just maybe) my writing style and what I have to say resonate with you. That would be nice. Let me know. Leave a comment or write me an email. Link to a post or two and give some thought, please, to putting me in your blogroll.

Many of us -- maybe all of us -- mired in the tail of the blogosphere (that Hugh Hewitt writes are "the 95% to 99% of blogs that are not giant traffic getters" or even "moderate traffic getters," as he should have added) should quit aspiring to landing that link on Instapundit's site or (dream of dreams) blowing out a server's fire power by having Matt Drudge take note of us. Maybe, instead, we should help one another and form a phalanx of tail-dwellers who link to each other and blogroll one another and simply outflank the big boys and girls (the Top 10, the Top 20, the Top 50, the Top 100 -- however you want to count them) by harnessing the power of the tail (see page 111 of Hugh Hewitt's BLOG). It's doable. There's power in numbers! Just those of us using Blogger.com could start a revolution, if we each became more generous souls.

Am I dreaming? I don't know. I guess my handful of readers (well three or four dozen, anyway) may soon tell me. Anyway, let's all enjoy our weekend, we few, we precious few, we Band of Bloggers!





A SUGGESTION FOR BILL O'REILLY ON HOW TO SAVE ON RINGTONES

Mr. "O" -- don't read this and immediately cough up $2.50 of your hard earned money. I know this story must prey upon your libido, but I've got an equally good alternative for you and it won't cost you a thing.

Just tape the sound only from the next Maria Sharapova tennis match. You tennis fans will know what I'm talking about. She moans wonderfully with each stroke of her racket, Bill.

Seriously! Try it. You'll like it.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS STORY?

Do you agree with me, after reading this, that Ben Lipscomb ought to cancel his subscription to Field and Stream? Sure appears that the man has gotten too swept up in being out there communing with nature and practicing his survival skills.

I know, your first thought probably paralled my own: does a guy who sports triple-x, "Big & Tall" briefs have a better chance of surviving in the wilderness than a Tom Cruise look-alike, who wears 32" Jockey shorts? I agree: I'd go with the endomorph too.

But then my second thought (what about yours?) was: why's a guy feeling compelled to drink dirty bayou water and to eat raw duck breast when he's only been lost in the outback for just 12 hours? Is the guy nuts?

Anyway, he survived his mini-ordeal and Ben's wife was glad to have him back home, safe and sound. It's just plain different in Arkansas!

VERMONT MAPLE SYRUP AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE

If those pancakes seemed to have an odd flavor this morning, you might want to read this and ask yourselves if methane gas tinged Vermont maple syrup may be to blame!

A SHORT PRODUCT LIFECYCLE, WOULDN'T YOU SAY?

There's a Country Western song that made the rounds some months back that had the line, What was I thinkin'?

I began humming the tune while reading this CNN article on a goofball named Joe Tamargo who's selling advertising space on his body. And, no, he's not festooning it with grocery chain flyers. He's having tatoos carved into his skin!

What's come over Joe? Better still, what's come over his clients?

Joe obviously never took a marketing course in his life and knows not a thing about the concept of the product lifecycle. Joe's 31 years old and either he'll run out of skin or run out of gas long before his inked-up body ever becomes a going concern. No doubt it'll soon become a growing concern, however, for New York officials. Once the arms and legs, back and chest are covered in Madison Avenue hype, then where does crazy Joe go from there?

Can't you see his butt cheeks glistening in the early morning light, reading Caution: we stop at train crossings (courtesy of Gotham Bus Lines)!

COME ON, LADY, GET A GRIP!

Jack LaLanne must be proud as punch (make that read: proud as juice) of Helen Koton; and I suspect Helen Koton must use one of LaLanne's juicers every morning when she rises. After all, fresh homemade carrot juice packs a lot of vitamins and minerals -- just what a 79-year old woman needs to stay fit.

Why the admiration from Jack? Did this woman pull a tethered coal barge with her teeth from San Pedro harbor to Catalina Island in heavy seas? No! Rather, it's because this Hallandale Beach, FL, geriatric scored a 9.6 on the equivalent of the Olympic gymnastic rings' event for women!

Okay, if that wasn't exactly the case, Helen still should have earned the near-perfect mark.

The elderly gal clung bravely to a bridgespan, as a drawbridge raised her into the air higher than the tallest Ferris wheel. I suspect ol' Helen could break your fingers with a handshake. She doesn't put powder on her cheeks, she puts talcum on her hands. I'll bet she's squeezed a tennis ball for years. I wouldn't suggest that her grandchildren backtalk her!

Let's have a blogosphere round of applause for the woman who's bound to set new records in the Senior Olympics!