web stats analysis
Michael Ubaldi, January 28, 2005.

The economy's traditional foundation is solid:

The 10.9 percent rise in [factory] orders for all of 2004 was helped by a 0.6 percent gain in December, which followed an even bigger 1.8 percent November increase as the year ended on a strong note.

"Manufacturing came back later in this expansion than it normally does. But last year, it looks like it finally came back," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York.

The annual increase in orders was the biggest since an 11.8 percent jump in 1994 in the midst of the booming economy of the 1990s.

How is the news being reported in some quarters? Productivity, the amount of work accomplished per unit of labor, has been increasing remarkably over the last several years as technology simplifies business, beefs up industry bottom lines and lowers consumer prices. A streamlined operation, of course, requires fewer hands than with superceded equipment — so comfortable obsolescence being more important to the press than usefulness, we read about "slow hiring."

Next headline? "Country Reaches Full Employment, Companies Desperately Understaffed."

Michael Ubaldi, January 28, 2005.

The only use Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has for Iraqi "hearts and minds" is to carve them up and eat them for dinner, thus my response to the execrable Senator Ted Kennedy consists largely of profanity. So we turn to humor.

Given that a strong case can be made for the similarities between murder and sabotage in Iraq and terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, one is left to wonder how deeply Kennedy's affection for bloodthirsty thugs must reach.

Michael Ubaldi, January 28, 2005.

News began to suffer when reporters changed to columnists without telling anyone, and Josh "Chester" Manchester is taking the industry leaders to task, defending the act of blogging:

The New York Times has no such feedback mechanism. Its editorials are strangely absent of authorship — who even to respond to? who to email? Only the Times chooses which letters to the editor to publish. Yet despite all this, it claims objectivity. Objectivity is only worth something if you rely on the polished, refined, news-as-a-product that is the output of the established press — and if you only rely on one outlet. If you want everything — the good, the bad, the ugly, the contradictory, the confusing, the outtakes, and the raw materials — you turn to a blog, you probably turn to several, and you know that you are seeing life as it is, not as it is polished up to be in Manhattan.

I've likened most bloggers, amateur commentators with unique intellectual and vocational talents, as a strengthening regulatory commission for journalists who, entrusted with the distribution (and not the creation) of news, serve as the milkmen of information. Bloggers who report are the wild card, their work something to be watched closely and expectantly. On that, Chester challenges low expectations the elite have for bloggers' authenticity. Dismissing bloggers as transient and their identity unverifiable is puzzling, since journalists' own standard for accountability exists in axiom more than practice. Rathergate aside, how else to explain the startlingly common story of sloppy subcontracting?

Speaking on Fox News Live with David Asman yesterday, Chester made an excellent point about news coming from Iraq: that a broadcaster ignoring information from Central Command is providing unbalanced news. As one can tell from my archives, I stopped using wire reports as my primary news source for Iraq when I realized that the substance — and nearly all positive information — in most media stories came from military press releases. Elite agencies routinely wrap three sentences of information in five paragraphs of commentary from the journalist or his bureau. Outlets who keep "color" out of their work, like the Pakistan Tribune report excerpted on Wednesday, make for a helpfully brief, dry and forthright read.

Michael Ubaldi, January 28, 2005.

Australian Iraqis have cast their ballots for Iraq's first authoritative election.

Jim Hake's Spirit of America will be heralding the democratic triumph with a conference and a running broadcast:

On January 30 we will be providing coverage of Iraq's elections at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The 2 hour event will begin at 2 PM (Eastern).

The event will provide a complete picture of Iraq's elections from the point of view of the Iraqi people and expert commentators. The event will be based on reports, video and photos received from Friends of Democracy correspondents and staff in Iraq. News and information will also come into Friends of Democracy from Iraqi bloggers (using SoA's Arabic blogging tool), from the Iraqi people via email and from other local Iraq media.

This will provide a unique, ground-level view of Iraq's elections — direct from the people of Iraq.

Seven months ago, when Iraq's interim government was granted municipal power, I marked it as the beginning of the end of Near East tyranny. The progress made by men empowered by the local respect of their countrymen has been neither interrupted nor diminished. Soon men will be elected by their countrymen, chosen to draft Iraq's writ of freedom's guarantee.

The terrorists have already lost. Victory has always been the freemen's, the only uncertainty remaining in whether they impel and defend its mandate.

A victory that's already been won. It sounds so familiar.

REJOICE: Photos from Kurdistan (Hat tip, Iraq the Model.)

Michael Ubaldi, January 27, 2005.

Another dividend from deposing Saddam Hussein emerges:

His Majesty King Abdullah [of Jordan] on Wednesday announced plans to decentralize local government by redrawing provincial administrations that are to be run by publicly elected local councils. Emphasizing that political, social, economic and administrative development is an integrated process, King Abdullah said it is "essential to expand the base of public participation in that process."

In a televised address to the nation, the King said a review of the current administrative divisions would yield "development areas, or regions," each consisting of various governorates. He explained that "each region will have a local council directly elected by its people to work hand-in-hand with the elected municipal councils in the governorates to set priorities and draw up plans and programmes related to their respective regions."

...The King also urged all citizens of Iraq to go to the polls on Sunday, when the country will hold its first national elections in more than 50 years.

"The elections are the only realistic way for the Iraqis to achieve security and stability, rebuild their country, and ensure that Iraq regains its natural and special status within the region," King Abdullah said.

Whether King Abdullah's arm is being twisted by Washington, or his hand forced by the political and economic reality of a democracy flexing its muscles right next door, this is news to encourage and vindicate President Bush's forward strategy of liberation. (Hat tip to Iraqi Sam who, incidentally, would not be blogging had Iraq not been liberated.)

SPEAKING OF DICTATORS OUT OF CHARACTER FOR THE BETTER: Moammar Gadhafi demanded the release of Iraq reconstruction contractors kidnapped by terrorists.

Michael Ubaldi, January 27, 2005.

Though he likely means well, Fox News correspondent David Lee Miller, in Iraq, observed that "insurgents appear to be on the offensive." He noted that seven schools to be used as polling places were attacked in Kirkuk.

For a measure of the terrorists' power: seven polling places damaged, about 5,213 polling places across Iraq undamaged.

Miller also noticed that "insurgents continue to be able to stage attacks."

But terrorists are unable to accomplish their objective, rolled up by Allied forces at an increasing pace.

Michael Ubaldi, January 27, 2005.

It's all about context: A very clever turnaround by the Mad Parson. I'll try my hand at a demonstration. Would you yearly salute the memory and honor of a man who spoke these words on the Mall to a quarter of a million Americans:

I was thinking the other day how swell it would be if the clause, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal" were guaranteed by law to all. Even though it's physically impossible, because people never change on earth, and it's hubris to try to change an entire culture, I'd like to see Georgian whites and blacks accepting each other as their own. Since phrases like "oasis of freedom and justice" turn old hand intellectuals off and reek of "mission inebriation," I'll just hedge my bets and hope for a few less lynchings carried out in Mississippi per year; if we can get the number down to two or three by, say, 1990, we've done ourselves a world of good.

I was also hoping that my four children will one day live in a nation where they can aspire and live like any other American. You might even say, though I'm not, here, "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Yes, it's high-minded rhetoric. Soaring, even. But I know this isn't heaven. So let's step back from any "dreams" today. Sit-ins and marches are dangerous, and we don't need to summon any more white-robed yokels. We need a breather. Let's go home and take a few baby steps; let's push for being able to use the same water fountains and see where that takes us.

You wouldn't, because he'd have been swallowed by history and forgotten, in his cool, considerate sobriety, by man. Here's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s brilliant speech, that which was once ethereal — but no longer.

A tempered ideal is moral abdication. What grace those like Peggy Noonan will pay for the chance to nationally claim that all has been accomplished in their lifetime with their esteem and relevance.

Michael Ubaldi, January 27, 2005.

In controversy and war, the free world is still no less able to innovate: PC Magazine's Michael J. Miller's thoughtful and hopeful prognosis for computing and information technology.

Michael Ubaldi, January 27, 2005.

Peggy Noonan thought she'd clarify her mockery of President Bush's inaugural speech by answering her own questions, and has succeeded in further revealing her deep misunderstanding of the current war, its causes and the free world's duty.

She says someone accused her of being "French." Maybe. "Arrogant" and "obtuse" are two better descriptions for her frame of mind. Before spiraling into an analogy on garbage, she marks herself with a tepid metaphor: "Healthy alliances are a coolant in this world." Thus spake the Cold War utilitarian, who prefers the archaic, aristocratic firmament known as "balance of power." Unfortunately, America's alliances with Egypt and Saudi Arabia were perfectly healthy when the son of a [lawyer] from the former country helped a dozen young men from the latter smash jetliners into skyscrapers. September 11th was as horrific a repudiation of Cold War appeasement imaginable.

Yet Noonan refuses to believe it. She offers her own measure of tribute: "Now we are up against not an organized state monolith. We face trouble that is already here. We don't have to summon more."

Oh, that Noonan might be able to see more than what is concrete, to find the thread that runs through even her beloved Cold War saga. Who are the chief supporters of Near East terrorism? The mullahs of Iran. Who are the principal benefactors of the mullahs? Kleptocrat Russia, fascist China — with the occasional tip from gulag North Korea. Excluding Israel, which countries in the Near East have state-fettered media saturated with Islamist incitement to hatred and violence? All but two: Iraq and Afghanistan, now targets of their old national peers. Where do terrorists get their weapons? From states, always; the less rule of law, the easier.

What is the thread? Tyranny. Through history it always has been the stitch between fault and suffering. But tyranny's manifestation this time doesn't look like the Soviet Union, and Noonan is confused.

At the bottom of her argument is, of course, Ronald Reagan. Not Reagan's principles — instead, his physical world. In that world, one could be much more practical than philosophical, and hold oneself to a far lower standard.

Here is President Bush, explaining himself to a mostly petulant White House press corps, if Noonan is listening (emphasis mine):

There won't be instant democracy.

And I remind people that our own country is a work in progress. You know, we declared all people equal and yet all people weren't treated equally for a century. We said everybody counts, but everybody didn't count.

And so I fully understand developing a democratic society and adhering to the traditions and customs of other nations will be a work in process. That's why I said we're talking about the work of generations. And so in my talks, in my discussions with world leaders to solve the problem of the day, I will constantly remind them about our strong belief that democracy is the way forward.

Rightward detractors who weren't stuck in Pat Buchanan's hall of mirrors before Inauguration Thursday still suffer their own obsession with the past. They helped President Reagan destroy the enemy they'd known their entire lives, and had staked quite a reputation on a victory based not on principle so much as experience. They thought they had achieved the End of History. That, of course, makes someone a prisoner of time and an opponent of correction. It is increasingly clear that Cold Warriors like Noonan want neither another enemy nor another hero, and are incensed that Bush has framed their lives exponentially smaller in the "course of human events," as it were, than they were accustomed to. The president also suggested a higher calling for America, the one and only reason why we were put on this earth — and did so unequivocally. This disturbs the comfortable, tenured professors who now refuse to learn.

Good enough that Noonan isn't playing the left's game — blaming the United States for dealing with dictators out of geopolitical necessity while mocking any obviation thereof. But there is no other way to explain an advocate of Ronald Reagan's universalist vision of human freedom now suddenly sitting out, wasting our time with existentialism. Her complaint begins and ends with her own lot.

Michael Ubaldi, January 26, 2005.

I'd forgotten about another gem from last night's Special Report with Brit Hume, something that hit me as I arrived home from work today. Brit ends every show with a humorous item, and last night's was a gag from Late Night with Conan O'Brien. A mock correspondent described Iraq's approaching elections. "Some 7,200 candidates are representing over 200 political parties," said the man, "and as you can see, things are really heating up" — at which point, the camera cut to an opinion-poll pie chart cut into about a hundred colored slices. The studio audience burst into laughter, as well they should have; the joke was good-natured and funny.

But it was also poignant. Two years ago, a pie chart representing reported Iraqi public opinion would have been a solid circle, a single color to denote Saddam Hussein.