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Michael Ubaldi, June 22, 2005.

A foreign landscape beneath a familiar sight: commanded to remain operational during sunset, Martian rover Spirit photographed the sun as it sank beneath the "jibsheet," a sheet of rock that was the rover's object of attention for the better part of a month.

Spirit and its twin Opportunity have surpassed whatever height of scientific optimism might have predicted, eighteen months ago, that each Martian explorer would arrive at the Red Planet safely and not only endure the rugged environment but succeed in a penetrating exploration that has yet to be threatened by entropy or curtailment.

NASA, whose Jet Propulsion Laboratories is responsible for the rovers' achievements and discoveries, is just as beholden to tradition as any bureaucracy; and in the decade of entrepreneurs riding the free market to space, stubbornness is not only foolhardy — it is dangerous. Still, Congressmen trust that Washington still has an investment in satellites, probes and astronauts because their constituents tell them not to do otherwise; the stars will be of the public good for at least a little longer. If the space administration can be encouraged to jettison pride it will reach fruitions like the plucky Opportunity and Spirit.

Michael Ubaldi, June 22, 2005.

"Unleash Japan," says National Review. William F. Buckley's rightist standard-bearers may be the best to say it but they would not be the first.

Michael Ubaldi, June 22, 2005.

Five months ago, one fortnight before Iraq's triumphant National Assembly elections, I used the phrase "extreme divergence" to describe the inconsistencies between Iraq news and commentary from gentry press agencies and the nature of events in the country. Mainstream fabrications became egregious by vote's eve, and when Iraqis defied philistines and terrorists alike, Americans were invited to recognize the leftist media's narratives as gossamer propaganda and select information from more authentic sources. Elite journalists reorganized and began proclaiming new crises, first the negotiation of Baghdad's government and then the nation's constitutional committee — each political transaction concluded successfully and distinctively. At the American Enterprise Institute, Karl Zinsmeister, a frequent visitor of liberated Iraq, believes the opposition's storytelling has reached its terminus:

What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over. Egregious acts of terror will continue — in Iraq as in many other parts of the world. But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerilla war.

Last night Ramesh Ponnuru published his brief exchange with a Republican strategist who, confronted with a war succeeding unbeknownst to a great number of Americans, rightly fears Washington more than the citizenry. Congressmen who favored appeasement of Saddam Hussein and Near East fascism in the first and have spent the war without resolve now call to abandon an impending victory of which they have not been informed.

If leftists will not relent in speaking better of the enemy unfounded, President Bush must throw the weight of his dossier against theirs. Fittingly, my last word on Mr. Zinsmeister ended with a cautionary: while Iraqis are responsible for their democratic ascendence, Americans must safeguard that skyward passage.

Michael Ubaldi, June 21, 2005.

Is it helpful criticism or is it bad-faith caterwauling? Norman Geras draws from an Atlantic Monthly interview with Paul Wolfowitz and poses that question to the anti-democratist left. Wolfowitz notes that many detractors simply promote their own strategic, tactical or political druthers; dozens of these adding up to such contradiction that an observer is left with the absurd and dangerous idea that the good wars of democracies have been and can be run free of human error. Geras in part refutes the redundant "accountability" charge — one which Bill Bennett unfortunately conceded to a Democrat caller on his radio show this morning. I have attempted to expose specious arguments when they arise, arguing that the unprecedented nature of this war and enemy and the Bush administration's ability to learn from certain mistakes undercut impatience and impertinence that is discordant with history, always grittier than remembered.

Michael Ubaldi, June 20, 2005.

The events leading to my discovery of a CNN report on French and Indian War reenactments are less readily explained than the importance of proofreading and the implicative consequences of error:

Fort Ontario: A French force led by the Marquis de Montcalm captured the fort in 1756. Montcalm's Indian allies slaughtered scores of prisoners, a precursor to a more infamous massacre at Lake George's Fort William Henry in 1957.

"Jailhouse Rock," Have Gun — Will Travel, the space race, raccoon caps, Chevrolet's golden year, and an Indian massacre. May we never forget.

Michael Ubaldi, June 20, 2005.

Marking a man's passage into intellectual oblivion set off a friendly debate on the nature of American postwar occupations. In simple terms, how do Occupied Germany and Occupied Japan — the two most ambitious and successful democratic redemptions in history — compare to that of Iraq?

Germany and Japan fell militarily silent relatively quickly. As was posted on a weblog eighteen months ago, a few Nazi gangs caused a bit of local chaos but most forces surrendered when ordered; Japan stopped on a dime. Early postwar years were difficult, Japan's especially bleak and crime-ridden — both were targeted by Moscow's political subterfuge, Japan particularly. Neither experienced the gangster-terrorist enemy like the kind that chose to commit itself to liberated Iraq. Saddam Hussein's conscripted armies dispersed, many soldiers refusing to fight; surviving loyalists collapsed or fled to regroup as mostly faceless criminals and saboteurs. If a mistake was committed by Iraq's American-led liberators, it was to expect what Allied armies two generations before received from the totalitarian regimes responsible for dozens of conquests and millions dead: unconditional and objective surrender. Overestimating the humanity of our enemies, the Near East authoritarians, was a natural and even laudable failure, the hallmark of free societies. The Nazis and the militarists, terrible as they were, possessed an ultimate humility — a mark of man — that the terrorists lack.

And yet for their animalism and destruction, this enemy has been met by Western technology and moral clarity; and the Iraqi character, resilient and centered after decades of undressed modern tyranny, viscerally inked in a recently published Iraqi political cartoon. A West German constitution was promulgated in May, 1949; Supreme Commander of Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur presented his to Tokyo in 1946, the document promulgated that November. Iraqis should ratify their constitution by 2006, three years after liberation. The San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed between Japan and the United States in September, 1951 and Allied occupation of Japan officially ended in April, 1952. West Germany was granted sovereignty in October, 1954. Sovereignty was given to Iraqis in late June of 2004, legally ending a one-year occupation; two years after the deposition of Saddam Hussein, an elected government took office.

Two threads run between democratization sixty years ago and today: given the opportunity under the aegis of free nations, good men will choose liberty; and that strongmen will conspire to undermine that construction, whenever and wherever and however possible.

Michael Ubaldi, June 17, 2005.

Sometimes truth is not what you expected.

AND YET: Given the circumstances, maybe it is.

Michael Ubaldi, June 17, 2005.

Democrats appear to have altogether forgotten their place, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's bilious and incoherent attack on America's citizen soldiers — apparently for the undeserving sake of those who wish to subjugate us all — only the latest step in a trail of disgrace miles long, from the liberation of Iraq to the liberation of Afghanistan and the incarceration of the terrorists who once kept her people living in fear.

This is a principal fault line along which the Democratic Party threatens to fracture, and it is the weirdly adolescent self-destruction that leftism's relativists promise for the country. As the Wall Street Journal rightly stated in yesterday's lead editorial, the Democratic Party's demise may not be so helpful if it is cancerous. Senator Durbin is far from the only irresponsible Democratic lawmaker but his incontinence is that which even a jaded, postmodern capital cannot let pass. Durbin should resign: if he is not superlatively ignorant of history then he is surely aware that his rhetoric matches that of our enemies. The Republican Party has reportedly taken action commensurate to the offense, demanding that the Democratic Party — in a letter, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — abjure prevailing standards and finally hold its members accountable.

There is nothing ignoble in the permanent censure of those who prefer treachery to statesmanship. Durbin's outrage stands in a crowd of them. Republicans will have done a favor — even if in vain — by trying to shake Democrats out of their delirium and reminding them what, in their treble politicking, they have become.

Michael Ubaldi, June 16, 2005.

Iraqi lawmakers have finalized their constitutional committee. National Review editor Rich Lowry has a response to the news from the administration, offering cultural perspective that will likely elude gentry media.

Michael Ubaldi, June 16, 2005.

Jonathan V. Last of the Weekly Standard examines a leftist's comparison of the blogosphere's right and left. Is the right stagnating as a medium, even a political force? Is it a game for the big guys? Says one rightist commenter:

I did a little blogging last year. And I did get mentions on the big guys blogs, one from Jim Geraghty at NRO, and a Hugh Hewitt special and one from [Jonathan V. Last]. But nothing could sustain that traffic. I blogged daily for awhile on a number of topics to see my traffic down to two diehards. I thanked them for their loyalty and closed shop.

Welcome to the Bell Curve and the free market. Sites on the lower half of the monitored blogosphere receive one hundred or less visits a day, and it's reasonable to assume that a good number of those — as is the case for this weblog — are Google stumblings. That's hardly a reason to be cynical about blogging or the value of methods employed by each of the two political wings. It's the reflection of one of the most meritocratic, competitive marketplaces that exists today. For the right, links from Glenn Reynolds do not make stars: they help, but success is dependent upon knowledge, writing skill, relevance and — most painfully fortuitous — fashionability. Many good writers, from the count of their audience size, work without receiving wide recognition. Fortunately, writers who may be adequate writers and excellent bloggers have refined, promoted and expanded the medium to where it can connect to mainstream, elite channels of news and opinion. Remarks, commentary, essays and links travel quickly and far. As has been described many times before, weblogs form a collective whose individual members — bloggers or readers — provide information, expertise or opinion beyond the ability of a single top-tier blogger or institution. One man can contact and impress upon another to post a document that will be read by hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of readers on the night of the Democratic presidential nominee's speech; accomplished by just one e-mail. Do professionals lead the blogosphere today? Yes, but behind them comes an age of citizen media.

If success is material gain, the rightist bloggers are succeeding. I would suspect it is because the right wing is entrepreneurial and willing to let independent profit be its own measure of worth, while endowed with progressive and inspiring ideas; the left wing clings to 20th-Century statism and explores late-millenium nihilism, mostly translated into a ubiquitous and angry language. There is a danger to concentration when it is for the wrong purpose. We are told the left conscripts and assigns; the right will take a look at you if you're judged as good enough. Conversations and exchanges occur on both sides; the right, however, is less concerned than the left about the simulation of a community. The right's fortune returns us to the question: are rightists well-served by their own design? A good capitalist would rather see seven out of ten rise to great heights than all of them by just an inch — and through no power of their own.