The title of this blog contains precisely 21 letters and spaces. Why do I know this, or care? Well, it turns out that the way-cool Obamicon.me application will only allow up to 20 characters in a caption.
Like many (most?) bloggers, I crave a bigger audience, and I thought I had found a gambit that might tempt James Taranto to link to me from his “Best of the Web Today.” Yesterday’s BotWT included one of his “Wannabe Pundit” items, quoting a journalist taking a pot shot at the Bush Administration in the context of a non-political article. Here’s the quote, which was from an article about buying Oriental rugs:
“Hizballah has re-armed, Israel could attack Lebanon again at any time, Iran is probably building nuclear weapons, the surge in Iraq is a mirage, and America is falling apart,” reports Time magazine’s Andrew Lee Butters.That’s the bad news. The good news is, you now know how to buy an Oriental rug.
Wait a minute — “the surge in Iraq is a mirage”? In September, even Candidate Obama was forced to admit that the “surge has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams”! My outrage gets my creative juices flowing — I’ll do a chart!! I’ll show how U.S. casualties have declined over the duration of the surge, and I’ll add famous surge quotations!!! It’ll graphically illustrate what a nonsensical statement Butter made!!!! How could he even write such a thing, more than two months after Obama said the surge succeeded?
Well, he didn’t. I discovered this when I was putting the finishing touches on my chart. I just needed the original date of the Butters quote… oops. It was in BotWT yesterday, but apparently the normally careful Taranto didn’t notice that the quote on Time’s website was dated April 18, 2008.
Anyway, there’s the chart. (What, I’m not gonna post it after I go to all that trouble?)
Update — I sent the item to James Taranto anyway, and here is his response:
Sorry about that. I don’t normally use such old items, and indeed I didn’t notice how old it was. However, since I wasn’t making fun of him specifically for the surge quote, I didn’t make an actual error and thus will not run a correction. Feel free to note on your blog that I acknowledge your point, however.
Fair enough — even if the statement were accurate or defensible, it would still qualify as a Wannabe Pundit on the basis of irrelevance to the rest of the article.
I wish I’d thought of this before my BFF Andrew Sullivan sent more than 5,000 of his readers to my “Catfight” post, but here we are. For those of you who have found your way back here, I have a “bleg” (as in “blog beg,” a parallel coinage with “blog” from “web log.” Forgive me if you already understand this, I’m explaining it for my mother. Hi Mom!).
For the rest of you, if you belong to Facebook, could you visit my Facebook blog page and click the link to become a “fan” of this blog? Here’s the page:
If I get just a few more “fans” it will confirm to Facebook that I’m the owner of the site, and then I’ll be able to upload my blog posts to my Facebook page more easily. But (I hear you thinking), what do you get out of doing this?
Well, you should only do it if you think the site actually is worthy of attention, or if for some inexplicable reason you want to suck up to me. Oh wait! I thought of something else — if you think the blog is stupid, you could leave a message to that effect on my Facebook Wall.
Further info about traffic on the Catfight post that sparked today’s Sullivalanche…
The full daily stats have not been posted to my Google Analytics “dashboard” yet, but it turns out that doing a customized search for a time period pulls out data that is more current than the dashboard.
The graphic above shows my total traffic for the past week, as of about 5 p.m. today. If the text in the graphic is too small to read, here’s a summary: For the seven prior days, my total visitors ranged from a low of 6 (yesterday) to a high of 13. Not 6 thousand — just 6.
Today, thanks to my BFF Andrew Sullivan, as of 5 p.m. the system was showing 2,906 viewers. Virtually all of those visits came from Sullivan, according to my Feedjit live feed, although a few came from sites that linked to Sullivan’s post, such as 3 Quarks, Bloglines and Straight Dope. A bunch came from Google Reader, making me wonder how it could be that someone in Grenole, France could have my RSS feed in their Google Reader. After a few moments I realized that the French visitor in question undoubtedly has SULLIVAN’s RSS feed in their Google Reader, and they clicked on the link to me.
If you’re still here, welcome, French person!
Saturday Update: Sullivan’s post has continued to drive traffic because he has had it featured all day in his “Recent Keepers” list of posts. Google Analytics tells me the two-day total is 4,815 “Absolute Unique Visitors,” and that they came from 57 countries or territories. In order of number of visitors, those countries are:
United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Japan, France, Ireland, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Finland, Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, Israel, Sweden, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile, Denmark, Thailand, Puerto Rico, China, Colombia, Greece, Argentina, Vietnam, Paraguay, Mozambique, Poland, Pakistan, El Salvador, Qatar, Costa Rica, Philippines, Guatemala, Portugal, U.S. Virgin Islands, Croatia, Senegal, Indonesia, Serbia, Hong Kong, Dominican Republic, Austria, Malta, Ukraine, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Iceland, Russia, Ghana, Italy.
Average number of page views per visit was 1.32, reflecting the fact that 80% of the visitors left the site without looking at another page. My single visitor from El Salvador, however, spent 40 minutes on the site and looked at 15 pages. Gracias, amigo!
Update 11/2: Seven more countries, for a total of 64: Singapore, South Africa, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Egypt, Kenya and Cambodia. More than 5,300 total visitors since Sullivan’s post went up. The Catfight page has gotten 6,480 page views, compared with about 2,200 combined page views for every other page for the history of the blog, including the homepage. No return visit as yet from my amigo in El Salvador (or any other Salvadoran).
OK, I’ll shut up about this now.
I’m a big fan of National Review Online’s group blog, called The Corner. It has been described as “the Id of Conservatism,” and it’s the first political blog I visit on most mornings. I visit multiple times on most days — there are a dozen or more contributors who participate with varying degrees of regularity, which means there is fresh content throughout the day.
Kathryn Jean Lopez, known as K-Lo, is the Editor of NRO. She’s also the most frequent poster in The Corner, and serves as its “Mother Hen,” keeping her predominately male colleagues in line when they spin off on tangents such as Star Trek discussions. [Sexist metaphor alert: This post contains politically incorrect, gender-specific references, starting with the headline. What can I say -- I'm a man, and men are pigs.] I disagree strongly with Lopez on social issues (she’s an anti-abortion absolutist and opposes gay equality), but I admire her work ethic and I admire, evaluated as a whole, the product she produces at NRO.
In short, I’m not a K-Lo basher (cf. Sullivan, Andrew).
But she made a cryptic post this morning that inspired me to drop everything and figure out what the heck it was about. She thereby called my attention to a column on her own site that she finds “embarrassing and outrageous,” and that I likely would not have seen otherwise.
Tempted though I am to document my sleuthing with step-by-step screen captures, I have actual professional obligations to get to today. So suffice it to say that I laborious opened each and every column listed under the daily “New on NRO” digest, below:
On each column I searched for the word “Monica,” and found it, as I expected, only on Kathleen Parker’s “Tragic Flaw” column. (Hence the “catfight” reference in the headline — they’re both women, get it? Har, har, har.)
A month ago, Kathleen Parker became one of the earliest and most prominent conservatives to go public with a strong condemnation of the Palin selection, saying she should withdraw for the sake of the party and her country. Pundits and bloggers on the Left gleefully plastered links to the column all over the Internets, while a few on the Right did so more in sorrow than in anger.
Gotta wrap this up, my phone keeps ringing — a happy problem for a self-employed writer/consultant. In today’s column, Parker suggests, without actually saying it in a quotable soundbite way, that McCain picked Palin because he thinks she’s a hot babe. The “Monica” in K-Lo’s headline, as you may have guessed, is a reference to Monica Lewinsky. Here’s the closing of the column:
It is entirely possible that no one could have beaten the political force known as Barack Obama — under any circumstances. And though it isn’t over yet, it seems clear that McCain made a tragic, if familiar, error under that sycamore tree [McCain apparently "proposed" to Palin under such a tree -- Ed.]. Will he join the pantheon of men who, intoxicated by a woman’s power, made the wrong call?
Had Antony not fallen for Cleopatra, Octavian might not have captured the Roman Empire. Had Bill resisted Monica, Al Gore may have become president and Hillary might be today’s Democratic nominee.
If McCain, rightful heir to the presidency, loses to Obama, history undoubtedly will note that he was defeated at least in part by his own besotted impulse to discount the future. If he wins, then he must be credited with having correctly calculated nature’s power to befuddle.
K-Lo (and apparently some readers who corresponded with her) are outraged at the idea that Parker arguably has compared Sarah Palin with Monica Lewinsky, and by extension arguably has compared John McCain with Bill “Can’t Keep it Zipped” Clinton. One can certainly interpret the column that way, but I urge you to read the whole column and consider whether the Lewinsky/Clinton analogy is central to her thesis.
I think Parker is on to something — it boils down to “men are pigs.” I don’t think McCain is nearly as big a pig, in the sexual sense, as Clinton… but I think an analogous dynamic is at work. It’s the best explanation I’ve seen for throwing caution to the winds and making the disastrous Palin selection.
I’m not a Palin-basher either, btw, at least not in any absolutist sense… I criticized the choice the day after it was made (“The Five Stages of Adjusting to Palin“), then was wowed by her convention speech (pig that I am, no doubt) and tried to make the best of until Palin became too much of a national joke. Here’s a link to all of my Palin-related posts.
Update: From the comments, Pretty Lady (who blogs about relationships, sex, politics, spirituality and other matters) offers a thoughtful personal perspective on how men relate to, well, pretty ladies:
When I adopted my blog moniker, I thought of it as a staggeringly obvious and overtly ironic joke. I was shocked to discover that it was taken absolutely seriously by the vast majority of bloggers and their commenters, and that it entirely colored their initial take on my observations.
Simply, people pay much more attention to words coming out of the mouth of a Pretty Lady. They may reflexively deride those words, or fawn on them, but they are definitely responding to context, rather than content.
Update: This post led to a Sullivalanche.
There’s an editorial [free link] titled “A Liberal Supermajority” in today’s WSJ [today's!! I'm on top of this!!] providing what may be the most deeply-informed, tightly-argued description of the consequences of an Obama victory. Marshalling fact after fact, deploying beautiful, lean, unfussy prose, the editorial explains why such a sweeping Democratic victory would do grave and lasting damage to the Republic.
How do I know this? Oh, I read about it in a blog post in The Corner by former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson, who now is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. [He actually wrote the eloquent words that make up the meat of the prior paragraph -- I used his words without quote marks to make a point, but I'm disclosing the deception in the same post. If I were Catholic, that would be one Hail Mary, one Our Father.] Mr. Robinson’s description was posted less than half an hour [half an hour!!] before I started writing.
Pete [Hey, we've never met, but can I call you Pete? I could have written, "Pete Robinson nails it when he describes today's WSJ editorial," pretending like we're BFFs and all, but with my luck it would turn out that your REAL friends call you Peter.] Let me switch to third-person and start again.
Mr. Robinson, who turns out to have been born just one year before me [so maybe it WOULDN'T be unthinkable that I could call him Pete some day!! Unless he goes by Peter] , is a person of substance — beyond just the long-ago credential of having written speeches for President Reagan. [Hey, *I* wrote speeches for a President, too!! OK, I wrote speeches for Dan Tully, who in the 1990s was President (later Chairman) and CEO of a once-iconic securities firm that is being swallowed up by Bank of America. But dammit, he WAS a President.] Seriously, he’s worth listening to — I’ve watched several of Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge interview segments. They’re quite good, and he has a knack for setting up commentary in an evocative way.
So when Pete told me [OK, I read it in The Corner -- this interior dialogue is in danger of becoming tedious] that this is a Pulitzer-worthy editorial, I knew I had to read it right away. Right after I knock out this “quick” blog post. [Damn, I hope it really is a good editorial... otherwise I'm going to look silly.] Maybe THIS will be the blog post that gets me my first InstaLaunch! [Google it your own damn self.]
Uh oh… it just dawned on me that if Mr. Robinson has had time to write an evocative post for The Corner, other bloggers may also have seen the editorial, and have sucked all of the oxygen out of the blogosphere already. Let me get one of my 20-something assistants to do a little research. [Oops, the assistants were on standby back when I worked for a New York PR agency -- they commanded salaries in the "mid-five-figures," (in NYC!!) far more than I can pay now, even in Jersey.] OK, I’ll do my own research.
It turns out that when I started writing this at 2:09 p.m. [the lying Blogger timestamp, below, uselessly records when you start typing, not when you post], there were 93 blog posts about “A Liberal Supermajority”. [There will be more by now if you follow this link.] And, there were more than 400 moderated comments on the WSJ article itself, a number that also will have grown by the time you follow this link. [The WSJ comments app is not paging properly, but there are 14 comments on a page, and there were 29 pages when I checked -- do the math if you think I might be winging it. "Moderated," BTW, means that a person in NYC making mid-five-figures has glanced at each and every comment to make sure it doesn't misspell "fuck" in a headline. Sorry for dropping the f-bomb without warning in a previously PG-rated blog, but it evokes an old copy desk saying I made up more than 20 years ago while I was on a copy desk, and it would lose verisimilitude [look it up] if I went with f***.] So it looks like my 15 hits of blogger fame will have to wait for another day.
Time to wrap this up. [I can hear you now, mocking me... "wassamatta, Kirk, you've got all this time to blog because things are a little slow with your consulting business?" Hm... Are you asking that because I might be able to help your company or organization meet your communications needs?] Besides, it’s almost time for dinner — right after I read the WSJ editorial.
Some day soon I need to write more extensively about the name of this blog. It comes from something that English statesman Edmund Burke apparently did not actually say, so I’ve felt free to modernize the language:
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”
Regardless of who said it first, that sentence is the purest possible distillation of my worldview, and today is a powerful annual reminder of why I regard it as an enduring truth.
The events of 9/11 were the legacy of more than two decades of doing nothing, or next to nothing, in response to attacks from fascists in Islamic guise.
Militant Islamists declared war on America in November 1979 by taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This was followed by 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut; the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988; the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the simultaneous 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000; along with smaller atrocities too numerous to list.
Only after 9/11 did America, led by a President who despite his substantial flaws was resolute enough to call evil by its name, finally mount a sustained response and take the battle to the enemy. And no, Saddam was not behind the 9/11 attacks — but liberating Iraq and planting a (still-fragile) democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East is an essential part of the broader war.
All of this is why, despite profound disagreements with the Republican Party on social issues, despite voting for Bill Clinton three times (including 2000), I can no longer vote for Democrats for President. Not until the party has a standard-bearer who understands the cost of meekness in the face of fascism, and who is prepared to stay on the offensive against people for whom “death to America” is not a metaphor.
One barrier to my blogging has always been technical. For a non-techie, I’m reasonably web-savvy, after five years of working full-time on intranet content. But, perhaps because I don’t have a technical background, I get stuck when software doesn’t behave the way the instructions say it should behave.
That seems to happen a lot, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. My wife the Web Goddess, who taught herself HTML after years as a corporate systems developer, initially tried to set this blog up with WordPress, since that was the consensus choice when I polled my LinkedIn connections about blogging platforms. But I got lost almost immediately in the documentation (“start a blog in seconds” my ass), and even the Web Goddess eventually threw up her hands and said the system was not doing what the documentation clearly said it would do.
So here we are on Blogger, having registered the subdomain blog.kirkpetersen.net, trying to figure out why that URL still returns a 404 error (see, I know web-speak) even though the control panel at the web-hosting service indicates the DNS has propagated.
Add all that to the fact that I’m not sure what I want to write about, and I end up with four posts in the first four years of my blog. Hence, the write-something-every-day experiment, now entering Day Two.
Some day, when I’m a titan of the blogosphere, I’ll be able to say, “I’ve been blogging since 2003.”
Before my titanship arrives, however, I obviously need to post a little more regularly, and before I do that I need to figure out why I’m blogging in the first place. My most recent motivation has been to support my writing and consulting business — but then when it came time to actually write my first substantive post, it ended up being about politics, which is not the line of work I’m in.
So maybe my real motivation is to have A Forum for My Writing. [hurl] Despite the gag reflex, there’s something to that idea — I often find myself constructing careful sentences in my head that seem clever or useful enough that I wish I could find a way to share them. But if I’m going to continue to think red-state thoughts in a blue-state neighborhood, I’m more likely to get into arguments with friends than I am to persuade anybody to hire me as a writer. And I spent most of an afternoon writing and polishing my inaugural Obama screed — an unbloggish level of effort for a post that precisely three people have seen (including me).
So here’s the latest plan: I’m going to force myself to devote at least a little bit of time every day to posting on my blog. I’ll pick one of those careful sentences in my head and build a blog post around it, and not invest a huge amount of time in it. Then I’ll examine the results over time and see if I can figure out a purpose for my blog.
There. It’s good to have a plan. Now we’ll see if I’m any better about sticking to that plan than I am about my daily exercise regimen.