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Michael Ubaldi, July 5, 2005.

I borrowed Happy Days Were Here Again, a decade's collection of William F. Buckley's work as columnist, from the library this evening and am astounded by twenty-year-old threads; in one respect connecting this year to Cold War twilight through similarity and in another illustrating how far the American left has decayed into a burbling mass. Buckley stuck Jesse Jackson in 1985 for artfully comparing murder in Buchenwald to South African apartheid — two crimes that nonetheless could not possibly share degrees of horror and shame. Attempting the metaphor was a silly thing for Jackson to do in 1985, and two months ago the revolting crank Charles Rangel compared Hitler's death camps to the liberation — the liberation — of twenty-five million trapped inside a different abattoir.

The appearance of being normal is quite a commodity when a look back shows that the cracks were already well-defined a generation ago. If it weren't for the leftist media's controlling interest in public opinion and information, the Democratic Party would be spending even-years splitting county seats with the Greens.

Michael Ubaldi, June 30, 2005.

Iraqi bloggers Omar and Mohammed Fadhil, whose attainment of free speech through American sacrifice turns Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's stomach, are blogging with abandon — a constitutional committee seeking opinions from Fertile Crescent citizens for the first time in five millenia, a fellow Baghdadi who chastises an administration that prefered bluster over action, and a twenty-month electrical infrastructure project that terrorists failed to disrupt. These are stories from the Iraq that will see the end of Near East fascism.

Michael Ubaldi, June 30, 2005.

From here back, National Review's faculty discusses the increasing reach of public and private smoking bans.

I confess to a nanny-state succor when it comes to cigarette smoking. I've never attempted the act; have never cared for it. Despite all the libertarian advocacy for individual rights and freedom of choice I read and intellectually respect, I look back on my short collection of years and remember trays dumped onto the road from cars at stop signs, see at least one smashed butt on every square decameter of paved ground; hear a hacking cough from someone madly flicking a butane lighter, know no smoker who does not refer to his habit derogatorily and at least lightheartedly regret having started before he knew better; or smell the legacy of whomever rented my apartment before me to impress the place with L'eau du Pall Mall. I stand back and simply count the years left before a good smoke is legislated into antiquity.

Michael Ubaldi, June 30, 2005.

From the Department of All Things Self-Evident:

In person Mr. Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one's faith in the reliability of the modern media.

In fairness, the president is neither silver-tongued nor skilled in the craft of euphemism, so he does not welcome exchanges when they are in substance combative. His most visible characteristic, facing the disingenuous leftward nine-tenths of the White House press corps, is stilted agitation. Humor helped him recover political esteem lost after his first debate with presidential challenger John Kerry.

On the stump, speaking from both memory and heart to voters with whom he shares a mutual admiration, President Bush is brilliant. (Hat tip, the Corner.)

Michael Ubaldi, June 29, 2005.

On cue, it dazzles and shines:

The economy logged a solid 3.8 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2005, a performance that was better than previously thought and a fresh sign the expansion is on firm footing.

Nearly two months ago, the Commerce Department's initial reading of a 3.1% advance in the Gross Domestic Product gave some leftward quarters cause for gloomy headlines but not much else — perhaps because it was signally reminiscent of last year's fourth quarter analysis, beginning with a slower-than-average 3.1% and concluding with a twenty-percent positive adjustment to 3.8%. Two weeks later the government revised the first quarter figure to 3.5%, normal growth. Today's report preserves the boom following President Bush's Jobs & Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 — a bullish market producing seven quarters averaging 15% over normal growth, over three million non-farm payroll jobs, an unemployment rate below the thirty-year average, a stock market rivaling record highs and the fastest tax receipt increase since 1981.

With assets saved and earned, why not repay the left's opposition to the president's productive economic policy by ordering the Cato Institute's booklet on Social Security reform, It's Your Money?

Michael Ubaldi, June 27, 2005.

National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru, unimpressed by several rightist arguments opposing the most recent congressional bid to spare Old Glory from pyrotechnics or other destructive theater staged by Americans in public protest, has declared himself "anti-anti-amendment." One particularly weak defense of denying the flag exclusive status was adopted this weekend by Mark Steyn who, dually wise and acerbic, nevertheless seems not to have considered the historical preoccupation with a third-paragraph throwaway line. He writes, "maybe some would think that criminalizing disrespect for national symbols is unworthy of a free society." Perhaps others would believe that material and transcendental worth, however intrinsic, is dependent on appraisal. If modern relativism was intended to make all things equally prized through the arbitrary exchange of sacred and profane, it only succeeded in multiplying what is inconsequential. Without scale, virtue recedes:

The value of the flag as a symbol cannot be measured. Even so, I have no doubt that the interest in preserving that value for the future is both significant and legitimate. Conceivably that value will be enhanced by the Court's conclusion that our national commitment to free expression is so strong that even the United States as ultimate guarantor of that freedom is without power to prohibit the desecration of its unique symbol. But I am unpersuaded. The creation of a federal right to post bulletin boards and graffiti on the Washington Monument might enlarge the market for free expression, but at a cost I would not pay. Similarly, in my considered judgment, sanctioning the public desecration of the flag will tarnish its value — both for those who cherish the ideas for which it waves and for those who desire to don the robes of martyrdom by burning it. That tarnish is not justified by the trivial burden on free expression occasioned by requiring that an available, alternative mode of expression — including uttering words critical of the flag — be employed.

Those are words from Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' moving dissent against the court's decision in 1989 Texas v. Johnson. Steyn and Stevens agree, across one-and-a-half decades, that damaging an American flag to impress or outrage is an unproductive and contradictory provocation — from under that flag is a malcontent granted the opportunity for petition, debate and reform as both a private citizen and a public official. Or is the flag just a cloth rectangle to fix on a dowel, incidental to the guarantee of rights? Association can bind an object to meaning just as easily as it can render it quaint; without transmission meaning is lost. When a martial uniform, the pride and obligation of every kingdom or nation long before elected governments, becomes just another set of clothes, we will meet those who suggest that distinctions between the civilized and the barbaric — their respective privileges and prerogatives — are meaningless, too. Subtler but more pertinently, one could examine how youth citizenship has borne forty years of the flag as Duchampian readymade, legal incineration or not. Might Steyn concede that ineffectual speech can still be determined a deleterious — and unacceptable — act?

Michael Ubaldi, June 26, 2005.

Here is news rejected as unfit for gentry media publication or telecast:

With more than $270M worth of projects open for local contractor bids, 130 Iraqi women attended a Women's Business Day at the Convention Center here to learn more.

"This day was designed and organized to benefit the Iraqi business woman and the Reconstruction Program," said Senior Executive Service, Karen Durham-Aguilera, director of programs at PCO. "Our goal is to create diplomatic and long-lasting relationships based on our mutual desire for peace." With every one-in-five in the Iraqi workforce being a woman, Durham-Aguilera told the group she is encouraged by their progress and pleased to be part of the workshop designed to further promote the involvement of women in the reconstruction process.

As a woman with Middle-Eastern roots, she noted that it's rare in the Arab world for women to enjoy as much power as they do in Iraq.

Equality in democracy as provisioned and protected by an American alliance? Would that the left see fit to put it in print.

Elsewhere, Bill Roggio examines after-action details of another cascading terrorist failure to best Iraqi troops in man-to-man combat; while Greyhawk continues his series on the Iraq that liberty's detractors prefer you not see.

'THE FUTURE IS OURS': Mohammed Fadhil, who reminds us that it is the Iraqi people who suffer from dishonest and incompetent reporting, publishes an impressive tally of strikes against the enemy.

BAGHDAD VIA TEXAS: The bravery, enterprise, expression and exercise of Iraqi women, stories collected by Fayrouz Hancock. (Correction: the women cycling off pounds are Afghan, which is notable as an indication of culture rather than public safety.)

Michael Ubaldi, June 24, 2005.

Pan, a ball of rock twelve miles thick, can with its gravitational wake push aside Saturn's rings; traveling through a lane known as Encke's Gap. The Cassini spacecraft sends us photographs of that and other places in the Saturnine system.

Millions of miles away, NASA's Martian rovers have earned their place in this month's issue of National Geographic, whose online, condensed story includes a link to Jet Propulsion Laboratory's rover traverse maps.

Michael Ubaldi, June 24, 2005.

All play and no good works makes Jackie a delinquent girl — so says Rhoulette, Community Manager for French video game developer Ubisoft and captain of the company's Frag Dolls corporate gaming team, who wishes to repay her good fortunes:

I am now happily employed in the game industry. On the surface this situation is ideal for me. I work with cool people, get to do fun things, and don't have to arrive at the office until 10am. I love it and I'm contributing to the world of entertainment which arguably has some inherent value for people (relaxation, less stress, activating the imagination, etc). But I encountered some internal turbulence when I started to listen to that nagging question: how are you helping those in need? In terms of really serving humanity, it would seem to some that I have been led astray. Gamers (and the industry that spawns them) are never classified as being particularly charitable. In fact, most modern media portray gamers and games as a detriment to the greater good. How could I, as a gamer, possibly make the world a better place?

She decided to apply for "Team in Training," a seventeen-year-old program run by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that matches athletes with a coach and a program for participating in their amateur competition of choice while delivering sponsorship monies to medical scientists who work to cure cancers of the blood. Rhoulette rightly disputes the caricature of video gamers as pallid, stunted, apathetic eremites devoted to strange button-pushing rituals for picture-tube idols: nerd emissaries Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik of comic-strip-turned-institution Penny Arcade should be holding their third consecutive Christmas toy drive this December. As I wrote elsewhere, no man will prosper more than by charity; for those with a penchant for sharp gals who game and stand up for volunteerism, your only deliberation might be how over much to give.

Michael Ubaldi, June 23, 2005.

Occasionally I consider changes to this weblog's format and for some time one of them has been the font size for entries. I would prefer to keep it sans serif but notice that none of the weblogs to which I link use print as small as mine.

So I'd like to ask readers their opinion — same size, or a little larger? Let me know.