May 10, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Tony Blair is set to resign

As has been expected, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that he will resign effective June 27. He will almost certainly be replaced as Prime Minister and Labour Party leader by Gordon Brown, currently the chancellor of the exchequer. See Washington Post. Regarding his biggest disappointment, the war in Iraq, Blair said:

For many it simply isn't and can't be worth it. For me, I think we must see it through," Blair said. "They, the terrorists who threaten us here and around the world, will never give up if we give up. It is a test of will and of belief and we can't fail it." He added: "Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right . . . I may have been wrong. That's your call. But believe one thing, if nothing else: I did what I thought was right for our country.

Precisely. And so, just as France turns more friendly under president-elect Sarkozy, our True Blue allies in Britain turn just a little less so. Some analysts derided Blair for failing to accomplish very much during his ten years in office, but I think that's a little unfair, especially when the criticism comes from the conservative side. We didn't want Blair to bring back the welfare state in Britain, and we should perhaps be celebrating that his second term domestic policy agenda got bogged down because of Iraq. Divisions in the Labour Party over foreign policy served the purposes of the British Conservatives quite well.

Even though I was quite leery of Blair from the very beginning, I can't help but feel a mixture of sorrow and gratefulness for the man who stood by the United States when we most needed it. I think he would have had higher stature if President Bush had made a stronger gesture of reciprocal goodwill, bending on other foreign policy issues of concern to Britain. But one way or another, Blair was probably bound to step down after two terms. We will miss him dearly.

Virginia blog rankings flap

The Daily Whack Job has been on a roll all week making fun of the "Bloggers 4 Sayre" for the way some of them link to, and make comments on, each others' posts so as to inflate their perceived influence on the Virginia Blog Net News. Being largely indifferent to such things, I have always resisted suggestions to use those sorts of tricks, and I think recent events have validated my reluctance. The Whack Jobbers also "apologized" in a sardonic way to "John Maxfield the lawyer ... err, Alex Davis that 16 year old..." Under other circumstances I would take issue with picking on a youthful blogger like that. Satirical blogs like DWJ constantly run the danger of going too far with their humor, but I wouldn't say they practice "political pornography" (as Alex says) the way "GGD" or "Howling Latina" do.

The Richmond Democrat came up with his own system for ranking political blogs, supposedly filtering out the effect of such rank-building tricks. Perhaps it's worth the effort, but I'm still skeptical of the whole notion of ranking blogs. It's like the way U.S. News and World Report (and others) rank colleges and universities, which obliterates any sense of what makes a given school special. In the social sciences, the presupposition that being able to count something makes it more important is called the quantitative fallacy.

Then, Bad Rose mocked Ben "Not Larry Sabato" for removing his RSS feed to protest the questionable way that blog influence is ranked by the BNN. Such a gesture could be construed as a fit of pique. This, of course, sparked yet another flurry of blogospheric angst and resentment featuring many of the usual suspects. I think Jason Kenney hit the nail on the head:

The rankings are moot, it's a circle jerk like any other online poll and based on figures that reflect the data BNN collects, which has been limited for sites like RK and NLS from the get go. Really, the rankings are harmless and if you're confindent enough in your own blog and your abilities, what should you care what some third party site says? Besides, it's not the size that counts...

Exactamundo. In the The New Dominion, meanwhile, Chris Graham drew attention to the way some of the Bloggers4Sayre have been engaging in nasty politics lately, and "have also done their part to fan the flames of tensions between the numbers of elected officials" from Augusta County and elsewhere. One of those bloggers, "Spank That Donkey," took sharp issue with those characterizations, not very convincingly. Sigh.........

May 15 "gas out"? Not!

Donald Sensing ridicules the silly gesture of not buying gas on May 15.