A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hackneyed Generation X. . .

. . .moment alert!

I'm outta here for the night. So, rather than go into some long explanation as to what's tearing me away from my keyboard right now, I thought I'd distract my readers with the standard five-o'clock-on-a-Friday radio fare. Enjoy.

Most likely, I won't be doing any blogging tomorrow. I'll probably be in the great state of Missouri, at the Sikeston Drag Strip. I have my priorities, and horsepower and the smell of tire smoke and grape scented exhaust fumes are pretty close to the top.

The Next Right. . .

. . .is:
. . .the place for wired activists to build a new Republican Party and conservative movement. As a community-driven grassroots action website for the right, we'll feature in-depth political analysis, on-the-ground reports, and strategic discussion and debate.

I think this is an excellent idea, long past due. One of the most regrettable developments over the last five years, or so, has been the right's seeming inability to create an organized online presence. It's doubly regrettable when you consider the dominance that the right held within the blogosphere just a few short years ago. Our failure to coalesce around a central set of goals and objectives has cost us dearly, and with any luck, The Next Right will go a long way toward remedying the problem.

The importance of starting an online movement of this sort, I think, is demonstrated by the facts I addressed in my previous post on Mark Krikorian and the way in which the illegal immigration issue has been handled over the past few years. If The Next Right succeeds in its stated purpose, there will be a viable counterpoint on the Web to the undue influence of groups like NumbersUSA. As things currently are, these groups wield far greater influence than their numbers actually suggest they are entitled to, simply because they are far more organized and focused than their opponents.

Also, it has the potential to be a guiding force for what seems to be a rudderless Republican Party. As influence goes, it's hard to argue against the idea that an organized online grassroots community would be a healthy one for the GOP. The left's success in establishing such has been overwhelming with regard to fundraising and overall political action. I suspect we'll see a lot of good things coming from this new effort, and I plan to take part in it enthusiastically. I only hope that the whole right side of the blogosphere recognizes the crucial need for such an entity. I daresay that conservatism (and libertarianism) are in danger of being completely overwhelmed if this effort isn't taken very seriously, and that the elections of 2006 are an ample demonstration of that fact.

Bookmark it and keep an eye on it. I suspect big things will be forthcoming.

Mark Krikorian takes a trip. . .

. . .behind the woodshed today at The Corner. Both Roger Clegg and John J. Miller give him a long overdue spanking for taking liberties with facts and basically being a jerk.

I can only assume that Clegg and Miller probably have a better overall view of Krikorian and his influence on the immigration debate than I do. So, I won't try to make the case that people are finally "catching on" to his noxious presence. As I've said before, conservatives can have good faith disagreements on immigration policy. It is not an issue that is dispositive of one's political leanings depending upon which side you come down.

But, I do have to say it's refreshing to see that I'm not the only one who grown weary of the rhetorical thuggery of Krikorian and his ilk. With help from Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, and other fire-breathing border hawks, Krikorian and his minions have turned immigration policy into, essentially, the Brown Scare. To my undying delight, Miller and Clegg seem to have decided that the time has finally come for less strident conservatives to push back against the hyper-accusatory tone of those who have dominated the immigration debate on the right for the past few years.

In fact, the most irksome component of the immigration debate, particularly over the past couple of years, hasn't been the government's lack of spinal steel in dealing with the issue, or the fact that the most recent attempt to address the issue crumbled under the weight of the manufactured outrage of groups like NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies. What rankles is the fact that these monomaniacal howler monkeys have deemed themselves fit to make pronouncements on not just the conservatism of those on the right who counsel a more patient response to the problem, but on their very Americanism.

I truly hope that Miller and Clegg are just the beginning of a wide-ranging phenomenon of committed conservatives in beating back this scurrilous attempt to browbeat people with honest disagreements with the single-issue border fanatics into meekly bowing to their demagoguery and intimidation. The need for this should be plain to all in the wake of Tom Tancredo's disgraceful attack on Pope Benedict XVI for merely reaffirming the Catholic church's long-held position that all people, regardless of immigration status, are entitled to the compassion of their fellow man.

As I was writing this, Kathryn Jean Lopez has interceded to suggest some restraint between the combatants, reminding them that conservatives on both sides of the issues "have a lot more in common than continuing resentments might suggest." She is, of course, right. But, it strikes me that the person most in need of that bit of caution is the person who initiated the turmoil by lashing out at a fellow conservative, Linda Chavez. And that person has been in need of such counsel for some time now.

Oddly enough, this all started with Andy McCarthy's flamboyant displays of grievance over the silly notion that the State Department is trying to silence his (and everyone else's) use of the word "jihad" in discussing islamic terrorism, which caught my eye a couple of weeks ago. How fitting is it that those who are angry at the very idea that someone would suggest a more strategic use of rhetoric would engage in such overheated rhetoric to decry those who make the suggestion?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Having wasted the day. . .

. . .installing an all-in-one printer and listening to the tech support guy from Kodak yammer on about stuff that I already know, the blogging will be extremely light today, as I have an engagement to attend to this evening.

This soirée consists of several men sitting at a bar making demands of young ladies while ogling them and making the occasional double entendre when they're just out of earshot. You know -- the kind of thing Hillary emulated in Pennsylvania to bolster her blue collar bona fides.

While I'm out engaging in this merriment, I would appreciate it if everyone who reads this post would call up Kodak tech support and tell them just how crappy their installation software is. Because, you see, when you run the software all the way through, it instructs you to connect the USB cable between the computer and the printer. When you do that, in an ideal world, it will automatically detect the presence of the printer, and then you're free to go about printing cartoons, emails, photos, what-have-you.

But, when the software doesn't detect the presence of the printer, it continues to scan forever until it finally does pick it up. It doesn't, say, time out after a certain period of time. It doesn't give a hint as to the progress level of the detection. It just sits there with a few little green bars moving across a white field, pretending that actual work is being done. And you, the hapless installer, are left wondering, "OK, is it supposed to take this long? Or, do I need to give the monitor a whack as if it were a black and white TV with bad vertical hold?"

Normally, this isn't such a big thing. Sometimes, a computer will stop responding in the middle of a software installation, and you can simply reboot and start over. But, in the case of this printer, you have to install the godforsaken Microsoft .NET framework which, depending upon whether or not you're using the latest multi-threading, HellaMegaTerrabit processor, or some consumer-level desktop PC, takes anywhere from six to eight weeks to install. So, you kind of want to avoid having to start the whole process over.

In the end, though, it all turned out OK because, after having spent all that time scowling at the guy on the other end of the phone -- who really did nothing to deserve it, but nonetheless -- I discovered that the problem was a bad USB port. Simply moving the cable to another fixed the issue, at least for now.

The things I do for my mother with Mother's Day looming large. . .

And, there you have it. My day is shot, the blogging will be light, and soon enough, I'll be enjoying the ribald humor of my fellow knaves and rapscallions over the cool, crisp flavor of sweet, sweet beer.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It is comforting. . .

. . .to know that this guy is being feverishly courted by both the Obama and Clinton campaigns right now.

A theme for McCain. . .

. . .seems to be the order of the day among the conservative blogosphere. Via Jim Geraghty, I came across Jennifer Rubin's post on the subject at Commentary's blog, Contentions. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I've been mulling this over for the past couple of days, trying to come up with the one thing that John McCain symbolizes that Barack Obama simply cannot, and it was relatively easy for me.

While Obama symbolizes (for some, anyway) the sense of hope and the opportunity for change, John McCain embodies something that is far more deeply ingrained in the American experience. After all, no one in this country, and very few on earth, have ever been in a more hopeless situation than the one John McCain found himself in during his days as a POW in Vietnam. He is living proof of the importance of hope.

But, beyond hope, there is perseverance. Because, even in times when there is no hope, the defiance and perseverance of the human spirit can carry the day. Again, no one embodies that part of the American spirit more than John McCain. Ask his captors. Ask anyone who knew him as a POW, and you'll find no one who was more defiant in the face of a more hopeless situation.

And, to go one point further, there is in the American character the ability to thrive in adversity. And, from McCain's days as a POW, all the way through the darkest days of his campaign for the Republican nomination, John McCain has exemplified the American ability to thrive in adversity.

John McCain's theme for this election should be: In tough times, Americans rely not only on hope, but on their unique ability to persevere, and even thrive under adversity. John McCain has proven at every turn that he is the man to guide America through these tough times, because he embodies the American character.

Now! Hampshire. . .

. . .is open for business. It's the latest brainchild of Patrick Hines, and today, she sets out on her maiden voyage. It's a "hard news" site without centered around the politics and goings-on in New Hampshire. While it doesn't focus on opinion journalism, reader comments are solicited on the stories that it publishes.

On its first day, Now! Hampshire has managed to land a couple of great interviews -- one with Sen. John Sununu and one with Gov. Shaheen. Not a bad way to kick off a new site, is it?

Click on over and check it out. It looks to be a very promising venture, and I hope it's a rousing success for Patrick.

Are the scales falling. . .

. . .from Mark Levin's eyes? He started out the day as he does every other day -- trashing John McCain as an apostate by pointing out that a considerable number (23%) of Republican primary voters in North Carolina and Indiana voted for someone else. Of course, he didn't come out and say "John McCain is an apostate, and no true Republican will vote for him," but on the heels of everything else he's said about him -- particularly over the past six months, it's not hard to pick up on the implication.

Andrew Stuttaford, not exactly a McCain stalwart, stepped in to point out a very basic reality that ought to be plain to anyone who's ever pondered on how one goes about winning elections -- that even Republicans need the votes of independents and Democrats to pull it off. He also points out that the percentage of people who have a favorable view of the Republican Party right now stands at 27%, and that assuming that this percentage is representative of the Republican base (for the sake of argument), the 23% of the base who voted for another candidate makes up a very small percentage of the total electorate. So, it seems that McCain's choice at this point is to try to cater to the 6.75% of the purported base which is apparently angry with him, or the vast swath of American voters who are waiting for him to differentiate himself from the Republican Party that they're not too crazy about right now.

Levin then comes back to challenge Stuttaford's math, but comes around to his view shortly thereafter, but questions how McCain ought to go about appealing to the broader electorate -- taking jabs along the way at William Kristol, David Frum, and David Brooks for insufficient Reaganism.

But, this gets us at least a few feet down the road with Levin. At least he is showing a willingness to recognize that a Republican can't get elected to the White House by running a campaign geared toward getting elected to the Alabama state house. The hard part is going to be training Levin not to claw at his skin and launch radio jihads every time McCain makes an overture to the American center.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

About those predictions. . .

. . .I posted earlier this morning. It looks like my Indiana prognostication might hold up, though perhaps a tick closer than I called it. But, holy crap! North Carolina! Here in Kentucky, we call that a good ol' country ass-whuppin'. Of course, some of the coastal counties haven't reported any results as of this writing, but I can hardly imagine a scenario wherein my predicted close call could come to be.

So, what does this mean? Well, it means Hillary goes on to fight in Kentucky and West Virginia. I think it's reasonably likely that she'll put together a win on the order of Obama's NC win, here in Kentucky. I don't have any polling figures to point to, so I'm operating on pure gut feeling. But, I would be surprised if Obama loses by less than a 15-point margin. I think West Virginia probably goes well for Hillary, too. Maybe not as heavily for Hillary as Kentucky, but she should win by a substantial margin.

Both states have relatively small numbers of black voters, so Obama won't be able to count on a significant boost, even though he comes into the contests with near unanimous black support. Again, this is pure gut instinct, but I suspect that his 90%-plus level of support among North Carolina blacks could possibly redound to his detriment in both states -- particularly if word gets around that his supporters in North Carolina and Indiana have accused the Clinton campaign of "Dog Whistle racism".

Among Kentucky Democrats, there's a fairly solid core of affinity for the Clinton brand. Don't be surprised if her campaign decides to push back against the "dog whistle" charges as she's campaigning here. After all, it is an extremely cynical ploy to intimidate her campaign into backing off from the very legitimate concerns about his electability. Obama's supporters are essentially saying, "If you play your strongest hand, we're going to tar you as a racist."

If Kentuckians, and I suspect West Virginians, get the notion that they're being browbeaten into voting against Clinton to prove they're not bigots, it will backfire badly.

: As of 10:52 Central Time, it looks like my predictions have been pretty bad. Obama is now within one point in Indiana. The North Carolina results are tightening up, but not enough to soothe my wounded pride.

If Andy McCarthy believes. . .

. . .the following, the man is quite simply delusional.
The Gang of 14 deal killed more judicial nominations than it saved. It elevated senatorial privilege over constitutional duty. It protected senators who didn't want to stand up and be counted. It took off the table in 2006 what would have been a winning issue for Republicans.

But, leave it to an attorney to convince himself that voters turn out at the polls because judicial nominees aren't being treated fairly in the Senate.

No, Andy. What cost the Republicans in 2006 was that a gaggle of latter-day Blackshorts, led by Tom "Spode" Tancredo, hijacked the entire agenda of the Republican Party for a year and a half and alienated a good percentage of Republican voters to the extent that they didn't bother to show up to vote.

It's time both McCarthy and Levin got over their little Gang of Fourteen tantrum. Nobody outside the inner circle of conservative D.C. lawyers and smattering of activists gives a damn about it at this point.
The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting "Heil, Spode!" and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: "Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?"
— P. G. Wodehouse (Bertie Wooster speaking to Spode) , in The Code of the Woosters (1938)

My predictions. . .

. . .for today's primaries:


Clinton 54%
Obama 46%

North Carolina

Obama 52%
Clinton 48%

Monday, May 05, 2008

McCain's judiciary speech. . .

. . .is being previewed by, so far, Fred Thompson and Sam Brownback according to Jim Geraghty at Campaign Spot, who spoke to Brownback earlier today. He provides a little bit of McCain's history on the matter, which ought to serve as a pretty good preview of what to expect, as well.

Of all the complaints that some conservatives have had with McCain, I've always thought that his judicial picks were the ones least based in reality. The Gang of Fourteen deal is slowly winning backers over time, as people come to realize just how bad the logjam in Washington was, and how utterly hopeless the prospects of getting more judges confirmed would have been following the 2006 elections.

Of course, there are activists who will steadfastly refuse to be won over by anything that McCain does. In the end, though, those folks are isolating themselves and diminishing their influence by their intransigence.

Reason's resident dullard. . .

. . .Steve Chapman has an article posted today comparing G. Gordon Liddy to Bill Ayers, claiming a moral equivalence between the two, while also trying to make the case that Liddy is as close a political ally to McCain as Ayers is to Obama. While Chapman does have a point that both of the men have rather checkered pasts, and both are guilty of some rather outrageous rhetoric, I can't help but wonder if Chapman really wants to have this debate.

H/T -- Ramesh Ponnuru @ The Corner.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Obama's rebound in support. . .

. . .looks a little fishy to me in the latest CBS/New York Times poll. I'm no expert in polling analysis, or anything else for that matter. But, how on earth can you possibly extrapolate a candidate's support among voters from a poll with this kind sample?
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 671 adults nationwide, including 283 Democratic primary voters, interviewed by telephone May 1-3, 2008.

As I said, I'm no expert, but this strikes me as an exercise in meaninglessness.

Yesterday's Kentucky Derby. . .

. . .has stirred up a heated debate over at Lucianne.com. The article that prompted the debate, by Sally Jenkins, makes good points that, I think, get lost in the stridency of the opening paragraph. Accusing NBC of cowardice for cutting away from the gruesome scene in order to show Big Brown's victory is to essentially accuse all horse racing fans of cowardice for not wanting to see the heartbreaking spectacle of a beautiful animal put to death to spare it the agony of its grotesque injuries. In taking this tack to open an otherwise fair piece, Jenkins, I think, can be fairly accused of taking a moral cheap shot at NBC for allowing viewers to look away from the carnage of a universally lamentable event.
The camera cut away from her, but it should have stayed on her. Eight Belles had run herself half to death yesterday, and now the vets were finishing the job as she lay on her side, her beautiful figure a black hump on the track. Horses don't just fall down like that, you thought as NBC flitted away, cowardlike, from the sickening picture to the more appealing image of the Kentucky Derby victor, Big Brown.

This is not to say that Jenkins's outrage isn't understandable. As an animal lover who doesn't cross over into the woolly-headed world of animal rights activists like PETA, I can fully sympathize with her anger at the suffering of Eight Belles. The very bottom line is that this beautiful animal was made to endure ghastly, intolerable pain for the sake of human amusement. It ought to shock the conscience of anyone with any sense of compassion to know that any sentient creature should endure such agony for even a moment, regardless of the circumstances.

But, there's a further tragedy at play in the way Jenkins approached this article. In immediately putting on the defensive everyone involved in the horse racing industry -- from owner and trainer all the way down to the spectator -- Jenkins has created a fight rather than a thoughtful discussion among well-intentioned people. The owners of these horses truly love them, as Jenkins acknowledges in the article. Yet, when she uses such a loaded term as cowardice to describe NBC's decision to cut its cameras away from the tragedy in order to show Big Brown's victory, she calls into question the morality and humanity of everyone who took part in the event.

That's what's so unfortunate and unfair about that first paragraph. It seems to assume a complete disregard for the welfare of these animals on behalf of the people involved, even though she goes on to acknowledge otherwise later in the piece. But, you can't impute moral turpitude to people simply because they participate in and enjoy a sport in which there are frequent instances of excruciating, career and life-ending injuries to its competitors. While these injuries may be a consequence of the actions of the humans involved, whether they be related to breeding practices, or simply a matter of putting them in competition at too early a stage in their development, no one engages in these practices without any concern for the animal. And no sane person goes to a horse race in the hopes of witnessing such a ghoulish spectacle.

For those of us who are truly troubled by the growing frequency and severity of the injuries in thoroughbred horse racing and want to see more forward-looking practices within the industry, wouldn't it be better to give the practitioners the benefit of a heavy heart and a sense of tragedy at the loss, rather than force them into a position of defiance by portraying them as amoral monsters? If the object is to prevent the suffering of a beautiful and defenseless creature, shouldn't we focus on the creature and the price it paid for our amusement, rather than impugn the humanity of the people who are, after all, just going too far in giving us what we want?

After all, we're not talking about people who dwell in laboratories creating abomination after abomination without regard to the agony endured by their mistakes until they get it right. We're talking about people whose eyes well up at the beauty of the graceful stride of a magnificent, athletic animal doing what it loves to do. These are people who lie awake at night, unable to sleep for the visions of glory that these animals conjure up in their minds. They're people who will cry their hearts out every time they think of what happened to Eight Belles for the rest of their lives.

Give them their due.

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