Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The rumors of my demise. . .

. . . have been greatly exaggerated (and greatly celebrated by some, I wager).

Actually, I've been commenting quite a bit on Larry Kudlow's blog in lieu of posting here. I keep meaning to turn some of my comments into full-blown rants, but the spare time to do so somehow seems to elude me every time.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II, Rest in Peace

Pope John Paul II has passed away. The world is a lesser place without him.

When the Pope was about to undergo surgery and the news media started their 24/7 coverage of his health, some people wondered why non-Catholics should care about the Pope. But Frank J said something that struck me as the perfect answer to the question, and managed to capture John Paul II's great legacy in one simple sentence:

"Everyone, pray for the Pope. He'd pray for you."

No matter if you're Catholic or not, no matter what religion you held, even if you hated him and everything he stood for--Pope John Paul II would be willing to go God for you. I can't think of a better epitaph.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Answering life's persistent questions

Frank J's got a list of questions the MSM would love to ask bloggers. In the interest of educating the drooling masses (ok, so not all journalists drool, but I think I'm safely within artistic license here), I think all bloggers should post their answers to them. Here's mine:

1. Who the hell do you think you are?

Don't mind me. I'm just the guy who does the thing, ya know?

2. So, other than blogging, what's your job? Do you work at some fast food joint, dumbass?

Actually I work in IT, which is roughly the same thing. Guy comes in; gives a custom order even though we have a standard menu; we painstakingly put together what he wants; after which he loudly complains that we screwed up his order, and demands to see our manager.

3. Do you have like any experience in journalism, idiot?

I worked on a school newspaper and was editor of our yearbook. But all the journalism options past high school seemed to largely consist of spewing forth verbose, redundant tripe. So I decided to get a real job instead.

4. Do you even read newspapers?

Newspapers? There's still newspapers around? Isn't that quaint!

5. Do you watch any other news than FOX News propaganda, you ignorant fool?

Actually, I mostly watch CNBC's stock market coverage, and switch to Bloomberg when CNBC drops into its horrid prime-time lineup. I only watch Fox when the Net tells me there's something interesting happening in the world, but I don't feel like downloading the video.

6. I bet you're some moron talk radio listener too, huh?

Nope. But I bet you're something even worse--one of those people who call in to radio talk shows with an idiotic opinion and a smug attitude!

7. So, do you get a fax from the GOP each day for what to say, you @#$% Republican parrot?

Hehe, you said "fax". Fax. Heh.

Actually, I've been meaning to talk to the GOP about their talking points. They keep stealing my ideas and putting them into their press releases without crediting me!

Darn you Rove, when I signed up for the brainwashing, I did NOT agree to installing a transmitter as well!!!

8. Why do you and your blogger friends want to silence and fire everyone who disagrees with you, fascist?

Because people who disagree with me are, by definition, stupid. The real question is, why do YOU want stupid people talking and taking up all the jobs?

9. Are you completely ignorant of other countries, or do you actually own a passport?

As far as I know, there's only three countries:
1. the US (where we buy and store all our stuff)
2. Asia (who sells us all the stuff we want to buy), and
3. Everyone Else (who mostly causes trouble and tries to make us feel guilty)

10. Have you even been to another country, you dumb hick?

Well, I've been to 2 of the 3 countries mentioned above, so I've seen 67% of the countries out there. I'd say that makes me pretty well traveled.

11. If you're so keen on the war, why haven't you signed up, chickenhawk?

Mostly because I'm pretty sure I'd make a horrible soldier. Besides, after labelling us all "facists", "idiots", "hatemongers", "brainwashed", "KKKillers", and other such epithets, do you really want us to have access to guns and military hardware as well?

And incidentally, if you're so against the war, how come you haven't signed up to fight with the terrori--I'm sorry, the "insurgents"? They're out there, fighting your fight for you, sticking up for your loon leftist beliefs, and you don't have the guts to join them in their struggle which you idealize so much? For shame!

12. Do you have any idea of the horrors of war? Have you ever reached into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face?

Are you saying you want my best friend to die? You horrible bastard!

13. Have you ever reached into any pile of goo?

Nope, I haven't had to "pick the brain" of any Democrats recently.

14. Once again, who the hell do you think you are?!

Well, I used to think I was pretty average IT grunt. But some guy in sunglasses and a black trenchcoat just showed up with a red pill and a blue pill, so give me a few hours and I'll get back to you on this one. . .

Whoa, time lapse

The effects of a looming deadline upon one's sense of time never ceases to amaze and annoy me. I could've sworn that when I woke up yesterday, it was mid-January and I had plenty of time to meet my March 1 deadline at work. How'd it get to be late February without my notice?!?

I suppose that adequately explains the lack of posts over the last month, though it doesn't make me feel any better about it.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Advice for the other side

Maybe I'm just an obsessive worrier, but I'm worried about the Republicans' political future. This last election should've been a slam dunk on all counts: Bush should have won by a larger margin over an obviously incompetent opponent, the GOP should've won their new congressional seats by larger margins, the gubernatorial races shouldn't have been so incredibly close (especially not so close that it let the Dems steal the Washington seat). The Democrats were so demonstrably wrong-headed that a simple campaign of openness and logical presentation should have put every single contestable race to bed without falling into the "margin of lawyer".

Yet the GOP's campaigns, led by the Bush candidacy, seems to have tripped along and merely lucked out this time. Karl Rove is a political genius, but the way the Bush campaign got caught flat-footed time and time again is simple inexcusable. The prediction was that the wildly liberal media would deliver 15 points to Kerry; after the election, analysts were all over the place crowing about how that didn't happen and the Internet took down the MSM.

But that's the problem: I think the media DID manage to give Kerry 15 points. Not necessarily by portraying him in a positive light, but by portraying Bush in a bad light, or at best a dubious one. There is simply no way a prevaricating, unelectable sap like John Kerry should have gotten 49% of the vote; the media tried to deliver the election to him on a silver platter, and very nearly succeeded. And it's not like it was any big surprise, anyone who pays attention to the media could have predicted this attempted coup. The Bush camp should've been prepped and armed to deal with an intensely hostile media, and they weren't.

To his credit, Rove kept the president on-message with an electable platform that successfully appealed to voters in the opposition party, and that's no small feat. But throughout the campaign, it felt like the Bush campaign didn't know what a 24-hour news cycle was. In a world where the fabled "New York minute" is considered excrutiatingly slow by voters whose watches have an "Internet minute" hand, a campaign needs to have an immediate answer to every bit of bad publicity that could possibly surface. And not just a copy/paste paragraph that regurgitates old press releases; that kind of response is not a response at all, and is guaranteed to be summarily ignored by the information-hungry news outlets.

For example, take the whole Rathergate affair. It took bloggers a single day to tear CBS apart over the fake documents; it took the White House several days to issue a cautious statement regarding Bush's service. Now the Bush camp could not simply jump on the bandwagon and call Dan Rather out on his charade--if they did, it would've discredited the blogs before they gained nation-wide acceptance as the slayers of the MSM Goliath. But Bush's TxANG record was an issue 5 years ago--how could they not have a better answer already prepped and ready to fire off immediately after 60 Minutes ended? Perhaps their strategy was to simply let the Internet debunking churn and roil, and see if it produced any talking points--or perhaps the Bush camp had no clue about the power of instantaneous analysis, and was simply scrambling some talking points together. Bush was fortunate to have the fraudulent bombshell diffused by a credible third party, but the strategy employed by his campaign was either one of incredibly subtle genius--or one that relied on outdated methods of damage control and spin.

Or how about the news from Iraq? The blogs were buzzing for months before the election with news and analysis of the Iraqi war that was getting no play time in the media. Why didn't the Bush administration work to push these stories into the national spotlight? Even against a hostile media, they could have changed the message from one of hope that long-term gains would materialize, into a message of positive changes happening NOW. For Pete's sake, have a weekly news conference on the "State of the War", with straight reporting of casualties, setbacks, and successes, along with solid military analyses. A simple 15 minute briefing, with a smattering of sound-bite friendly graphs and charts (which can be downloaded by anybody on a central web site), and take no questions from reporters. Just highlight the information, good or bad, and let the analysts run with it. And with more good news than bad coming out of Iraq on a daily basis, this setup could have dramatically changed the tone in which the Iraqi war is discussed. So why was the Bush camp so obstinately determined to play defense on the Iraqi war, instead of showing some guts and launching a PR offensive?

There are still intelligent people left in the Democratic party (despite all the recent evidence to the contrary). And they're not sitting back and letting things fall apart; they're mad as hell about Moore et al's hijacking of the party. These Democrats have seen the cancer on their organization, and they're going to fight tooth and nail to hide it by the time the next election rolls around. They might just succeed in making the Dems look sane for a while, allowing them to fool voters into thinking it's safe to go blue for a bit. While the Republicans are busy getting actual work done, the newly marginalized Democrats are plotting intricate political games and strategies for future elections. These Democrats love to play politics, even to the exclusion of effective governing and problem solving; they can not be allowed to sneak in an electoral victory at this crucial point in our nation's history.

Advice for the Democratic is in excess supply these days. If the Republicans let themselves enjoy the Schadenfreude for too long, the next election may realize our greatest fear: that the Democrats actually listened.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Moore's the Message

This article on TCS seems to have a slight misunderstanding about the Democrats:
Fahrenheit 9/11 was timed to coincide with the 2004 presidential election for the sake of maximum interest and box office -- but its publicity and controversy was a distraction to the Democrats at the moment they were trying to get their message out. Taking a stance against the Iraq war became more difficult, not less, after the movie was released, forcing Democrats to distinguish their criticisms from those of the silver screen conspiracy theorists.

But that's exactly the problem--Moore's message was the Democrats' message. The only difference was that Moore stripped away all pretenses of fairness, objectivity, political correctness, and caring about America's long term well-being. He showed the world the core Democrats' true beliefs, without all the rhetoric and hubris. Democratic Presidential candidates can't speak as freely; they have to couch their pessimistic messages and eternal carping in a language of hopefulness and optimism. Moore did the world a favor by showing us the true beliefs and thought processes behind the DNC.

And he wasn't as far outside the mainstream as the Democrats would like you to believe. As the article notes later on, "John Kerry was likewise forced to walk the Fahrenheit tightrope -- distancing himself from Moore without alienating the party's liberal anti-war base that was turning out in droves and filling movie theatres with applause." This was the Democratic base, the party faithful, not fringe groups that are tolerated but generally ignored. The fact that the core was indistinguishable from the fringe is what made the Democratic ticket so unpalatable to the American people.

Michael Moore didn't lose the election for Kerry; Kerry lost the election for Moore and his ilk.

(hat tip to Instapundit)


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Almost counterproductive

Today at work, my brain suddenly decided to stop working. Literally within the space of 15 seconds, I went from working at a good pace, to a full and complete stop. I looked blankly at the screen, and could not for the life of me force a useful and coherent thought from my mind to my fingers to the keyboard. After staring for a few minutes, I let my attention wander around my desk for a while to see if I could get back "in the zone". No dice.

I saw a Post-It notepad off to the side, and idly wrote "I am sitting here being unproductive" on it. That didn't seem like the type of note you should leave lying around where your boss can see it, and I didn't have a shredder, so I took a few minutes to tear up the note into very small pieces. As I scooped the pieces into my hand to throw away, a gust of wind blew most of them all over the floor, so I spent a few more minutes crawling around picking up pieces of paper. And after all this, I still couldn't get my mind to focus.

I think it was the most useless 10 minutes of my life.

Monday, January 10, 2005

What an earth-shattering surprise

The CBS report on Rathergate has been released. It neglects to point out the obvious political motivation for chasing after a bogus story, and it lets the Kerry campaign off the hook for collaborating with 60 Minutes to launch a coordinated attack on Bush. What a shocker.

Is it too much to ask for the MSM to say "we were heinously wrong" when they're caught in such blatant political maneuverings? Especially when the screw up in such a public manner?

(Surprisingly, the NY Times actually has a half-decent write up on the report. But does anyone still read that rag for news?)