Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: CARNIVAL OF THE CLUELESS — Rick Moran @ 8:35 am

Calling all bloggers!

You have until tonight at 11:00 PM to get your entries in for this week’s Carnival of the Clueless.

Last week’s Carnival was the best yet with 29 entries from both the right and left side of the political spectrum hammering those individuals and groups among us who are truly clueless.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Each week, I’ll be calling for posts that highlight the total stupidity of a public figure or organization – either left or right – that demonstrates that special kind of cluelessness that only someone’s mother could defend…and maybe not even their mothers!

Everyone knows what I’m talking about. Whether it’s the latest from Bill Maher or the Reverend Dobson, it doesn’t matter. I will post ALL ENTRIES REGARDLESS OF WHETHER I AGREE WITH THE SENTIMENTS EXPRESSED OR NOT..

You can enter by emailing me, leaving a link in the comments section, or by using the handy, easy to use form at Conservative Cat.



Filed under: Moonbats — Rick Moran @ 8:03 am

From the moonbats that gave us the telling slogan “Better Red than Dead” comes this bit of cheer regarding the annual Veterans Day Celebration in Berkeley:

Berkeley’s Veterans Day ceremony, scheduled for Nov. 11, was abruptly canceled on Monday because the volunteer organizing committee split over the political content.

At issue was a proposal by the chairman, singer/songwriter Country Joe McDonald, to have Bill Mitchell, a co-founder of Cindy Sheehan’s organization, Gold Star Families for Peace, as the keynote speaker.

Mitchell’s and Sheehan’s sons were killed in Iraq the same day.

Some committee members worried that Mitchell would inject an unwelcome note of partisanship into the event, which has been scrupulously non-political in years past.

Michelle Malkin said it better than anyone; “File this under “We support our troops…by refusing to honor their service.”

Berkeley isn’t just a bastion of liberalism. It is one of only a handful of genuine communist communities in the country. As far as being better red than dead…I report, you decide. Here are some of the resolutions passed by the City Council in the last few years:

Request the City Manager send letters to our elected national representatives asking them to take whatever action they can to cease the bombing of Afghanistan and to seek a legal, nonmilitary resolution; 2) Endorse and send to these officials, the attached letter recently presented by Vice Mayor Shirek to the Congressional Black Caucus, which acknowledges and grieves the tragic events of September 11th; and 3) adjourn this Council meeting in memory of the innocent civilians in Afghanistan being harmed and made refugees due to the bombing.”

This resolution was passed less than 6 weeks after 9/11.

In an historic vote on September 10, 2002 the City Council of Berkeley, California enacted Resolution #61744, declaring the space 60 kilometers and above the City is a space-based weapons free zone. On September 14th, Congressman Kucinich, was officially presented the Resolution by Councilmember Dona Spring, who initiated this milestone Resolution, before 700 people in Wheeler Auditorium, who gave Kucinich and Spring a cheering ovation.

This resolution violates several treaties to which the US is a signatory, not to mention being just plain batty.

WHEREAS, the citizens of the City of Berkeley consider it to be our sovereign right and civic duty to recognize that corporations remain artificial entities created by the people through our state legislatures; hope to nurture and expand democracy in Berkeley and in our nation; and reject the concept of corporate constitutional rights based on “corporate personhood” or any other factor.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Berkeley supports amending the United States and California Constitutions to declare that corporations are not granted the protections or rights of persons, and supports amending the United States and California Constitutions to declare that the expenditure of corporate money is not a form of constitutionally protected speech.

This from our friends who began the so-called “Free Speech” movement of the 1960’s. I wonder if they would outlaw similar spending by labor unions?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Berkeley City Council has banned log-burning fireplaces from new homes. Not content to stop the madness there, however, Jami Caseber, the “environmental activist” who led the drive to institute the ban, also wants to ban the use of existing fireplaces.

The ban also applies to wood-burning cooking equipment, a condition of the legislation that has pissed off some Berkeleyites. Alice Waters, owner of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse restaurant and a world-famous advocate for organic foods, says she burns half a cord of oak and fig weekly in her grill and oven, which has no pollution-control equipment. Although her appliances are grandfathered under the just-passed law, Walker is nevertheless opposed to the law. As she (needlessly) explains to the Times, “‘we’ve had a fundamental connection between fire and food since the beginning of time.’”

Anyone else find the irony of burning oil or natural gas to keep warm rather than wood to be as delicious as I do?

Berkeley Food Policy Council

Mission Statement

To build a local food system based on sustainable regional agriculture
that fosters the local economy and assures all people of Berkeley
have access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food
from non-emergency sources.

I hate to ask what “culturally appropriate” food might be. And who decides what is “sustainable regional agriculture?” Berkeley is smack dab in the middle of some of the most productive farmland on the planet. Now, you and I might call that “sustainable.” But to the food Nazis in Berkeley, corporate farming is a rape of the land.

This is what it would be like living under the thumb of these crazies. And the fact that they have canceled a Veterans Day celebration because they couldn’t agree that it was appropriate to inject politics into a memorial service for people who gave their lives so that the Berkeleyites could play at being mini-commissars and regulate people’s lives inside and out only goes to show that the left has no concept of what it takes to defend what they so cavalierly exercise.

It begs the question; is there anything they would consider dying for to protect outside of their own miserable hides?


Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 5:59 am

News that will surely disappoint the Kos Kids, DU denizens, and others on the unhinged left; they are going to have to wait a while to celebrate any indictments in L’Affaire d’Plame:

The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

A final report had long been considered an option for Mr. Fitzgerald if he decided not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing, although Justice Department officials have been dubious about his legal authority to issue such a report.

By signaling that he had no plans to issue the grand jury’s findings in such detail, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to narrow his options either to indictments or closing his investigation with no public disclosure of his findings, a choice that would set off a political firestorm.

With the term of the grand jury expiring Oct. 28, lawyers in the case said they assumed Mr. Fitzgerald was in the final stages of his inquiry.

The focus of Mr. Fitzgerald’s inquiry has remained fixed on two senior White House aides, Karl Rove, who is President Bush’s senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., who is Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Both had conversations with reporters about a C.I.A. officer whose name was later publicly disclosed.

It is not clear whether Mr. Fitzgerald has learned who first identified the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, to the syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak in July 2003.

Some of the lawyers in the case say Mr. Fitzgerald seems to be wrestling with decisions about how to proceed, leaning toward indictments but continuing to weigh thousands of pages of documents and testimony he has compiled during the nearly two-year inquiry.

So not only will there be no final report - at least in the formal sense - there will be no indictments this week. This may in fact be damaging to the mental health of our leftist friends who are so beside themselves with anticipation over possible indictments in the case that they have wet their pants, their beds, and the high chairs they sit in to eat their granola and nuts.

Their incontinence notwithstanding, according to this Murray Waas piece in the National Journal, Fitzgerald has narrowed the scope of his inquiry to the following:

1. The substance of the June 23, 2003 meeting between Times reporter Miller and Scooter Libby where, according to Miller’s notes, Libby mentioned Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame and her employment at WINPAC - the CIA’s arms control and WMD monitoring group - and was apparently a pre-emptive strike by the Veep’s office to counter leaks by Ambassador Wilson who had spent months shopping his charges of White House malfeasance on WMD intel to any and every reporter who would listen to him.

The problem for Libby? Either he didn’t mention the meeting in his grand jury testimony or didn’t say that it was the first time he had mentioned Plame’s name.

Possible Charge: Perjury

2. Substance of a July 8th breakfast meeting between Libby and Miller:

Libby and Miller’s two-hour breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C., on July 8. Libby has told federal investigators, according to legal sources familiar with his testimony, that he told Miller at the meeting that he had heard that Wilson’s wife had played a role in Wilson’s being selected for the Niger assignment. But Libby also testified that he never named Plame nor told Miller that she worked for the CIA, because either he did not know that at the time, or, if he had heard that Plame was a CIA employee, he did not know whether it was true.

Miller’s grand jury testimony as well her notes on the July 8 meeting contradict Libby’s version. Miller’s notes indicate that Libby did indeed tell her that Plame worked for the CIA. Her notes said, according to Miller: “Wife works at Winpac.” Asked for an explanation by the grand jury, Miller has said she testified she knew that Winpac meant Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control. That was a CIA unit tracking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons proliferation.

The problem for Fitzgerald here is that Miller has testified she is certain that while Plame’s name came up, she is unclear in what context (did she herself bring up Plame’s name?)

Possible Charge: Perjury

3. A third area of interest to Fitzgerald is the series of communications between Libby’s attorney Joseph Tate and Miller’s attorney Floyd Abrams. Was the waiver given by Libby to Miller so that she could testify last year coerced? Was Tate, on behalf of his client, trying to influence Miller’s testimony? Did Tate leak the grand jury testimony of Libby in hopes that Miller would corroborate his story?

Here is another conundrum for Fitzgerald as all of the lawyering back and forth smacks of both parties hearing what they wanted to hear. Miller’s situation was complicated by the fact that Abrams was an attorney representing the Times. Later, she acquired the services of a personal attorney, Democratic mouthpiece Robert Bennett who has since given the most one-sided renderings of these conversations to date. Tate has all but called Bennett a liar and even Abrams has contradicted some of Bennett’s spin. Read the Waas piece for all the ins and outs of this confusing muddle but in summary, it would seem there is a huge gray area that Fitzgerald is trying to sort through to determine if any lawbreaking occurred.

Possible Charges: Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, Witness Tampering

4. The fourth area of Fitzgerald’s inquiry has to do with the circumstances surrounding the release of Judith Miller from jail. It involves a letter sent by Abrams to Tate in which Abrams (apparently looking to make a record) accuses Tate of warning Miller not to testify last year because the waiver he gave at the time was coerced. Tate has hotly denied both the substance and the inference of Abrams letter to the prosecutor.

Possible Charge: Witness tampering

5. Another letter, this time the personal one sent by Libby to Miller telling her it was okay to testify. Just to show that when you are enmeshed in the wheels of justice that it is best to keep both your mouth and pen shut, Libby’s personal reminisces about their conversations are being construed as a possible tipoff to Miller about what he said before the grand jury. Even Bob Bennett thinks that Libby wasn’t trying to tip Miller off but rather was just being chatty.

Possible Charge for being Chatty: Witness Tampering

6. Finally, the night before Miller was set to testify before the grand jury, a source “sympathetic” to Libby sought out three separate news organizations and spilled the beans about what Libby told the grand jury. Fitzgerald may want to know if Libby was behind the leaked testimony and whether he hoped to influence Miller’s testimony.

Possible Charge: Obstruction of Justice. Witness Tampering

Do you notice anything strange about the focus of Fitzgerald’s inquiry? Most of what Fitzgerald is looking at occurred in the context of getting Judith Miller out of jail!

Um…correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this an inquiry into the outing of a covert operative? That aspect of the case seems to have fallen by the wayside due to the fact that it is now almost certain that no laws were broken in outing Valerie Plame - although a despicable act in and of itself for which the perpetrators should be fired forthwith. But it appears at least in Mr. Libby’s case that much of his exposure is a result of trying to clarify his waiver to Miller so that she could testify before the grand jury.

It would be ironic indeed if Libby was indicted because of the goings on surrounding Judith Miller who was ostensibly trying to protect him in the first place and whose stay in the hoosegow was probably unnecessary from the outset.

Another thing you might have noticed about the focus of Fitzgerald’s investigation is the absence of any scrutiny of the man the left has apoplectic fits over, Karl Rove. Is Rove in the clear? It would seem so although anything is possible.

Finally, I find it hugely ironic that once again, government officials have shown that they never, ever, learn anything from past probes of this nature. How much easier for Libby if he had been 100% truthful from the outset? And Rove himself wouldn’t have had to sweat bullets about being indicted if he had come clean to both his boss the President and been more specific about his conversations with Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper.

And Fitzgerald? He’s decided that in order to justify 22 months of investigation into what was apparently a non-criminal act, he must indict people who can be charged for faulty memory or the actions of their attorneys and surrogates. In the Special Prosecutor’s case, better to shoot the horse after the barn door has already been closed rather than let the animal go.


Tom McGuire has much more insight into the Waas piece. His take is that Libby is all but being measured for a prison jump suit. Given that Mr. Libby apparently perjured himself regarding the June 23 meeting, it still begs the question as to how Fitzgerald views any kind of conspiracy charges - something Waas never mentions in his article. Was it conspiracy or just a general Administration wide push back against the CIA for their partisan antics? Since no crime was committed in the first place in outing Plame, conspiracy in that regard may be off the table although conspiracy to obstruct justice may still be in the offing if the reports we hear about Cheney aid John Hannah and his cooperation with Fitzgerald are true.

Kevin at Wizbang is advocating a constitutional change that would limit a President to one six-year term:

Perhaps it’s time to look seriously at changing the Presidency to a single 6 year term. You have to go all the way back to the Eisenhower administration to find a two term Presidency that didn’t go to hell (in the form of investigations, impeachment, or resignation) in the final years of their second term. Sure we’d have to live with future Jimmy Carter’s for a couple extra years, but it might be a gamble worth taking…

By the same token, such a move would deprive us of a Reagan for two extra years. Besides, somehow the idea of not having a President to stand for re-election diminishes democracy in my mind. Maybe not substantively, but perceptions are important also and a one term President almost smacks of an elected monarch to me.



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 7:06 pm

Some of my righty friends who have been telling me for months that Rove, Libby, et. al. will not be indicted in Affaire d’Plame have been whistling past the graveyard. As I’ve said on more than one occasion, Special Prosecutors don’t sit around for 22 months without indicting someone.

A parallel would be what went on with the Manhattan Project during World War II. The government had spent billions (back when billions actually meant lots and lots of money) developing an atomic bomb. But as the “gadget” got closer to completion, some scientists began to have second thoughts about even setting it off.

Enter Leslie Groves who had been in charge of building the Pentagon which at the time was one of the biggest construction projects in human history. Groves had a Roman Catholic’s sense toward taxpayer money - the people paid for a show and they were going to get one by hook or by crook. Groves ended up managing the mini-mutiny by placing a couple of scientists on the targeting committee and then tried convincing Harry Truman that the taxpayers would boil him in oil if the bomb wasn’t used against Japan.

This little by play has been used by revisionist historians to supposedly show that President Truman wanted to use the bomb because of the enormous cost involved that had to be justified to the American people. Anyone who has read anything about Harry Truman knows that to be a crock, as the Missourian was much more worried about facing the mothers, fathers, and wives of men who would have been lost in an invasion of Japan if he had not used the bomb. Truman was convinced if it came out after the war that he could have ended the conflict a full year earlier if he had used both “Fat Man” and Little Boy,” he would probably have been impeached.

The point being, that Fitzgerald has to have a scalp or two to hang on the wall. If he thinks he has a conspiracy to out Valerie Plame, he could cast a wide net indeed, capturing at the very least Scooter Libby and perhaps even Karl Rove, although it appears that Rove is not a target.

And then there was this curiosity about where Fitzgerald was going with the investigation:

Evidence is building that the probe conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, has extended beyond the leaking of a covert CIA agent’s name to include questioning about the administration’s handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence.

According to the Democratic National Committee, a majority of the nine members of the White House Iraq Group have been questioned by Mr Fitzgerald. The team, which included senior national security officials, was created in August 2002 to “educate the public” about the risk posed by weapons of mass destruction on Iraq.

Mr Fitzgerald, who has been applauded for conducting a leak-free inquiry, has said little publicly about his 22-month probe, other than that it is about the “potential retaliation against a whistleblower”, Joseph Wilson. After Mr Wilson, a former ambassador, went public with doubts about the evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, the name of his wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA official, was leaked to reporters.

“According to the Democratic National Committee…??” Wha? Who? WTF? Since when has the DNC been a reliable source of news out of the Special Prosecutor’s office?

At any rate, I have no doubt he has talked to the Iraq Survey Group. That would make perfect sense if he has another candidate for the perp walk; how does an indictment of Joseph Wilson, III grab ya?

Fitzgerald may just throw up his hands, indict the lot of them (including Judith Miller) and let the courts sort it out. After all, Wilson has admitted to leaking classified information himself which may explain the interviews with the ISG. Perhaps Fitzgerald was trying to ascertain just how classified Wilson’s trip was so that he can decide if the former ambassador illegally leaked info to Nicholas Kristoff of the Times back in May - more than 2 months before his OpEd appeared in that publication.

Speaking of curious, what’s with E.J. Dionne? Is he off his meds again?

We are on the verge of an extraordinary moment in American politics. The people running our government are about to face their day — or days — in court.

Those who thought investigations were a wonderful thing when Bill Clinton was president are suddenly facing prosecutors, and they don’t like it. It seems like a hundred years ago when Clinton’s defenders were accusing his opponents of using special prosecutors, lawsuits, criminal charges and, ultimately, impeachment to overturn the will of the voters.

Clinton’s conservative enemies would have none of this. No, they said over and over, the Clinton mess was not about sex but about “perjury and the obstruction of justice” and “the rule of law.”

The old conservative talking points are now inoperative.

Huh? I have yet to hear a single Republican say a word in support of the idea that outing a CIA agent should not be punished severely be the target Rove, or Libby, or any other Administration official. Not. A. One.

So where does he get “The old conservative talking points are now inoperative…?” The fact that the Cavalcade of Comedy involving Keystone Cop Ronnie Earle down in Texas and his continuing easter egg hunt for first, a grand jury sufficiently ignorant of the facts to indict Tom Delay a second time (after the first one didn’t quite take, it not being a crime in 2003 to do what Delay did in 2002) and second, to search for a document that the bumpkin told the grand jury he had in his possesion but has since, er…vanished. If that’s history, it’s more like Mel Brooks than Richard Brookhesier.

Unlike Clinton’s wild-eyed apologists who yelped for years that selling the office of the President for first, campaign contributions and then to build the ugliest Presidential Library in America was only a venal sin (kind of like thinking impure thoughts about Mary Wilson in 8th grade but not doing anything about it), conservatives have said in no uncertain terms what would happen if Rove or Libby, or anyone else was indicted. It’s just that, being conservatives, our equanimity about waiting for the Special Prosecutor to actually charge someone - anyone - with a crime can be misinterpreted. Wait and see is a good attitude to have when the political fires are being stoked by a bunch of morons who actually believe that voting machines in Ohio were hacked to give Bush the election last November.

Predictably, the Kos kids are all aflutter with anticipation. It’s actually quite entertaining. If Fitzgerald were not to indict any of the biggies, can we imagine the meltdown over at Kos Kingdom and other lefty sites?

This diary post at Kos has some advice for those who can’t stand the suspense:

10. Put down the caffeine: For the next 48 hours, cleanse your body of java, aspartame, splenda, and whatever other shit you’ve been putting in your system. Your body will be producing more adrenaline during Fitzmas than it did when you were a hormone-crazed teenager, so don’t fuel the fire.

9. “Refresh” is the AntiChrist: Resist the urge to press “refresh” every TWO SECONDS. Checking into Drudge every minute won’t make any indictments come any faster..it’ll just give him hits and make Drudge’s head swell even more. Eww. I put “Drudge” and “swell” and “head” in the same sentence. I just grossed myself out.

3. Lower Your Expectations: Hey, it worked for Laura Bush. Don’t expect too much from this. We don’t know what was said in that grand jury room; about all we know definitively is that Karl Rove has a “typical” garage. Fantasies of Cheney being indicted and Bush as unindicted coconspirator are just that at this point–fantasies. Trust the Fitz to do what’s right based on the evidence, and trust that the result will be as far as he was legally able to go.

2. Stockpile the Booze: Ok, you’ve lowered your expectations, but sheesh, don’t be downer. No matter what comes down, these next couple of days will be explosive. So chill the Cristal (or the Guinness) and get ready. Also, compile a list of all the emails of your most die-hard GOP friends. Plan on sending them emails after the indictments, perferably after you’ve depleted your liquor reserves.

1. Enjoy the moment: Take a DEEP breath, and savor the fact that you’re witnessing history being made. The outing of Plame was a vicious act, but nothing will be as sweet as watching justice being served.

Whatever the outcome, I can’t see the Kos kids being very happy. After all, Bushitler is there for three more years - plenty of time for them to have more apoplectic fits over Bush successes in Iraq and other spheres.


John Cole is actually worried about the mental health of the moonbats if Fitzgerald doesn’t indict anyone. I would say, for the reasons annunciated above, not to worry John. But it’s a pity that those lefties don’t appreciate you for your concern, John. Tomorrow, they’ll just be back to blasting you.


Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:00 am


I confess to being something of a heretic regarding this whole “Porkbusters” crusade that is being championed by some of the heavy hitters in the Shadow Media.

What am I saying? Not just some of the biggest but the biggest conservative websites around. Glenn Reynolds, Ed Morrissey, and Michelle Malkin, are promoting the idea that if enough bloggers can find specific instances of “pork” in the federal budget and have their Congress Critter commit to cutting that spending request from the budget, the cost of rebuilding several thousand square miles of United States territory along the Gulf Coast can be offset and the budget deficit can be reduced.

First, let me congratulate those worthies for initiating and supporting this exploration of the capabilities of the New Media. In all seriousness, unless we try and understand just what the blogosphere can and can’t do, we’ll never get a handle on what is real and what is an illusion about blogs. Perhaps a campaign like this will actually define the political part of the conservative blogosphere in that it will measure true political influence in Washington and in the nation at large.

That said, this is an effort doomed to fail from the start. It isn’t just that most of the “pork” to be cut, even if taken together, represents a painfully small pittance when placed against what actually needs to be spent to make the Gulf Coast whole again. The entire “Porkbusters” campaign misses the point of what the federal budget is and what it represents.

I hope you are not naive enough to believe that the federal budget is even remotely related to what we generally think of as our own household budgets. In real life, we have a certain amount of money coming in and another amount that goes out. Hopefully, after the numbers are tallied there is even a little left over to put away for our retirement.

But the federal budget is not real life. It represents the dreams, the hopes, the desires - both noble and base - of 270 million of our fellow citizens. The long and short of it is one man’s pork is another man’s bread and butter. And while it may be tempting in carrying the metaphor even farther by stating that the two together make a BLT, it isn’t that simple either.

I have no doubt that if we look closely enough at the budget, we’ll experience many “aha!” moments where we will find several million dollars to build a bridge to nowhere. Or several hundred thousand dollars to construct a Post Office for a town of 12 people. Or a couple of million to redecorate the offices of top bureaucrats. Or, if we’re really looking with gimlet eyes at the whole budget, we could probably find a couple of billions to cut from the Department of Defense.

The same could be said for every other department of government. Great red swathes could be cut through the federal budget, inking out programs for rich corporations, anti-poverty NGO’s, as well as various freaks, bunkum scientists, and just plain charlatans.

In the end, you would barely scratch the surface of what would be needed to offset Katrina spending over the next few years. And the dent made in the budget deficit as a whole would be a joke.

And the fault, dear Brutus, is not in the Congress but in ourselves. The fault lies in our own expectations for what government should be doing for us. It lies in what we think government is capable of doing for all of us. And it lies in our own projected aspirations of what we think freedom and democracy are in this modern, industrialized, urban country of ours.

This is not a political dispute as much as it is a clashing of dreams. In perusing NZ Bear’s excellent web pages on the work being done by hundreds of individual bloggers in ferreting out spending they see as wasteful, I am struck by how cavalierly people wish to cut transportation funds. Now clearly, in legislation that proposes spending as much money as the transportation bill, there are literally billions of dollars being spent that would have a hard time passing the rancid bacon smell test. But what most of my conservative and libertarian friends fail to grasp is that almost every one of those projects represents the dreams of individual communities to improve the quality of life just a tiny bit or, more fundamentally, the return of a small portion of monies the people send to Washington to redeem expectations that people have of the federal government.

I’m sure my libertarian friends would point out that those expectations are unrealistic and should be discouraged or even changed. I would say go ahead, be my guest. Don Quixote needs some companionship. For in order to change those expectations, you must not only elect representatives that will reflect your desire for reform but you must also change the fundamental relationship in the United States between the people and the government as it exists in the 21st century.

If you are so inclined, might I suggest you attempt something more simple at first? Like, say changing the gravitational constant of the universe?

Simply put, only national defense is more important in America than building or improving roads and transportation. In a continental nation, road building is an Ur issue, as vital to small and medium sized communities as it is to large cities and the nation as a whole. Trying to pick out “unnecessary” road building projects is an exercise in futility. An outsider looking at any specific project has no clue about local conditions that may have necessitated the request in the first place. What looks like pork to some means something entirely different to the people directly affected.

This is not to say that there aren’t thousands of projects that are wasteful from the perspective of those who wish to place the good of the nation above the good of individual communities. Or even that opposition in communities to specific projects that will tear up green spaces (although this is done less and less recently) or allow property to be seized by local government to make room for these roads and improvements shouldn’t be looked at carefully. But it should be noted that the ancillary benefits including job creation, reduced traffic congestion, and safer travel are rarely mentioned when talking about a particular project’s designation as pork. I daresay few who propose such cuts are qualified to make that kind of analysis so that this kind of criticism is, in the end, an exercise in sophistry.

The Transportation Bill is part of the federal government’s discretionary spending as opposed to the mandatory spending on entitlements. For FY 2006, discretionary spending represents approximately 1/3 of the entire $2.5 trillion dollar budget request. Even if we were to freeze discretionary spending at last year’s levels, we would save barely $30 billion dollars - a good start but hardly the meat and potato cuts necessary to affect the amount that will be needed to rebuild a large part of three states, not to mention the reconstruction of a modern, industrialized city like New Orleans. Only cuts in basic entitlements like food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), housing, and most important of all Social Security will reductions be significant enough to make a difference in both hurricane rebuilding and the budget deficit in general.

And here is where the budget leaves the realm of what is real and enters the stratosphere of hopes and dreams, expectations and necessity.

There is a story told by David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s OMB Director, of how he tried to show the President how hard it was to cut entitlements. Stockman, a former Congressman and a man with a nimble and penetrating intellect, was charged with turning Reagan’s campaign rhetoric about cutting the fat from the budget into reality. In the course of educating the President, he gave Reagan a list of programs and asked him to check off which one’s should be cut. When he got the paper back he made some quick calculations and showed Reagan that he had just cut less than 10% necessary to reduce the then ballooning budget deficit.

The story proves it is one thing in the abstract to advocate cutting programs for all but the “deserving” poor while it is quite another to actually change the relationship between government and the people. For what makes entitlements almost impossible to cut is contained in their very name; the government comes up with criteria of eligibility and as long as you meet that criteria, an individual or family is “entitled” to receive that benefit. It doesn’t matter if we’re at war. It doesn’t matter if we have massive budget deficits as far out as can be projected. As long as a citizen (and, of course, non-citizens as well) qualify under the law, the government is obligated to dispense the benefit.

And while it may seem easy to simply change the criteria of eligibility, in practice it is a virtual impossibility. For example, in order to deal with the crisis of social security solvency in the past, Congress has responded by usually raising the age of retirement so that today, one cannot receive full benefits from social security until age 70. But Congress cannot raise the age fast enough to keep up with the longer life spans experienced by the American people. Hence, our current crisis and one that requires even more fundamental tinkering with the system in order to avoid catastrophe.

And if all this isn’t enough to torpedo any kind of blogosphere-wide effort to cut the budget, there is always the politics of the budget to consider. You may notice how many of those Congressmen and Senators who have responded to the questionnaire say that it is important to cut spending but that most spending bills they vote on contain both elements they support and parts they oppose. This makes it virtually impossible for Congress to cut much from the budget as those bills represent deal making both in conference between the House and the Senate as well as in the cloakroom between parties so that the bill would garner as much support as possible. If these elements were not present, the federal government would come to a standstill and no spending bills would have a chance of passing. The art of politics has always been the art of what is possible. Perhaps a line-item veto for the President would solve such an impasse, but it is doubtful whether enough Congressmen and Senators could be found to support the emasculation of their own power. And it is by no means certain that such a measure would be constitutional under the separation of powers articles.

So while I applaud the effort of the blogosphere to take on the federal budget, I question whether such a project could even partially succeed. It may be that even tens of thousands of citizen journalists are no match for the tens of millions of Americans who would be directly affected by the kinds of cuts being proposed.


Jon Henke and I were on the same wavelength this morning. The difference is that John, being much smarter than I am (that’s okay, I’m better lookin’), actually has some common sense ways to change the dynamic of the budget debate as well as some very interesting thoughts along the lines that I was struggling to elucidate; that there must be a change in the relationship between citizens and their government.

That’s very nice, but—like Porkbusters—it’s the tip of the iceberg. Without structural reform, they’re merely playing at the corners of the budget. As Steve Verdon wondered, “Where was this kind of drive a year ago, or for that matter from the day Bush opened up the Federal coffers and started spending like a heroin junkie with a major jones? I’ll tell you where, nowhere. Nobody cared. Nobody will care in a few more weeks”. John Cole wrote of Porkbusters, “it is a short-term gimmick, when what is needed is a long-term shift in attitudes about spendings, taxes, and priorities”.


Also, Matthew in the comments points out that there is no such program as AFDC any longer. It has been replaced by something called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which replaced AFDC in 1996.

Thanks to Matthew for the correction…I’ve been away from Washington for 15 years and it shows sometimes…


Filed under: WATCHER'S COUNCIL — Rick Moran @ 3:18 am

The votes are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council and the winner in the Council category was Wallo World for his thoughtful post Controversy, Christians, and Condemnation. Yours truly finished second for my piece on the Miers nomination In George We Trust.

Winning in the non Council category was Waiter Rant for his theological post Legion. If you want to participate in this week’s Watcher’s vote, go here and follow instructions. Also, the Watcher is looking for another member for the Council. If you’d like to join the Watcher’s Council, go here.

Since I missed the last vote as well, I should tell you that the winner in the Council category was Gates of Vienna for LGF Spots the Gilded Cage. Finishing second was The Sundries Shack On Harriet, Hurt, and a Huffy

Finishing first in the non Council category was Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred’s Lessons from a Decent Man.



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 4:17 pm





Filed under: WORLD SERIES — Rick Moran @ 3:47 pm


It was the bottom of the eighth inning of last night’s pennant clinching White Sox win when the camera found him, the oldest living member of baseball’s storied Hall of Fame. The Sox had gone ahead in the top of that inning thanks to another intervention conducted by the Gods of Baseball whose interest in this year’s Chicago southside baseballers rivals that of of a mother bear for her cubs (small “c”). But when millions of fans watched as the lens focused on 97 year old Al Lopez, I’m sure there was more than one old timer who gave in to the urge to allow a wave of nostalgia claim their emotions and shed a tear for all of the empty, fruitless years of living in Chicago and being a fan of the Chicago White Sox.

For you see, Al Lopez was the 50 year old manager of the 1959 “Go-Go” White Sox who captured the hearts of the city along with the American League pennant, the last time a Chicago baseball team represented the city in the World Series. Lopez also had the distinction of managing the 1954 Cleveland Indians team that won an astonishing 111 games in a 154 game schedule, a record not broken until the Yankees won 114 games in 1998.

He managed the Sox during a golden era in the history of the franchise. The nine year period between 1957-65, saw the White Sox finish 2nd five times in addition to the 1959 pennant. He had the utter misfortune of first, managing during an astounding run by the New York Yankees where, under their mercurial manager Casey Stengel, the Bronx Bombers represented the American League in the World Series no less than 13 times in the 15 year period encompassing 1949-64. Secondly, he managed before the advent of the playoff system so that despite tremendously successful 90+ win seasons (98 wins in 1964 finishing 2nd to the 99 wins of the Yanks), only the winners of the American League and National League races ended up in post-season play.

Lopez managed in what most people consider to be the apogee of baseball’s popularity in America. It was also an era of virtual slavery for Major League players who, thanks to the “reserve clause” in every player’s contract, were bound to their team as surely as a slave was to his owner. And while this was very bad for the players of that era, it was very good for baseball fans. Teams were remarkably stable personnel wise so that fans knew year to year who was on the team, even what the daily lineup was going to be.

For the Sox of that era there was the flashy Venezuelan shortstop Louis Aparicio who perennially led the league in stolen bases. Then there was the workmanlike #2 hitter Nellie Fox. A great second baseman, Fox was nevertheless remembered for the great, bulging chaw of tobacco in his cheek that inspired tens of thousands of Chicago area children to imitate with a half dozen or so pieces of “Joe Palooka” bubble gum. Happy-go-lucky Minnie Minosa was a sheer joy to watch play the game as his infectious enthusiasm and broad, toothy smile lit up even the black and white TV’s of that era. And Ted Kluszewski - “Big Klu” - whose upper arms were so massive, he had to cut the sleeves off his jersey just so that he could swing the bat properly. There was Roy Seivers, “Jungle” Jim Rivera, Sherman Lollar, Jim Landis, and Ed Torborg. Not a real power hitter among them - at least none who could compete with anyone on the hated Yankees.

For pitching, Lopez brought with him an aging star from Cleveland, a hard nosed no-nonsense southpaw named Early Wynn. It was thought that Wynn’s best years were behind him. But in that magical year of 1959, the 39 year old Wynn picked up 22 wins. Bob Shaw (18 wins) Billy Pierce (14 wins), and Dick Donovan (9 wins) rounded out a starting staff that helped the team to a 94 win season.

But it was Lopez himself who set the tone for the team. With a quiet confidence, he set the league on fire with a speed game not seen since the depression era. The team played at old Comiskey park, a roomy, pitcher-friendly park with a centerfield and power alleys in the outfield where home runs went to die. He loaded up the team with a line up of quality defensive players who were willing to play together and sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Playing what is called a “situational game,” - bunting, putting baserunners in motion, stealing - the White Sox of 1959 may have been something of a joke offensively, but their pitching and defense along with excellent clutch hitting allowed them to beat out the Indians for the title.

Their World Series appearance turned out to be anti-climactic as they lost in 6 games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first World Series played west of Missouri. But Chicago never forgot that team. And in the ensuing years as the Sox would come oh-so-close only to fade in the stretch or worse, the hated Yankees would catch fire and surpass them, both the young and the old could only look forward to the coming spring when hope would be reborn and the possibilities of the season were measured not in blooming flora and fauna but in whether or not the new kid called up from the minors could get the curve ball over for a strike.

Then came divisional play and for the first decade and a half, the Sox were shut out of the playoffs as the team’s fortunes plummeted along with the talent level of its once rightly respected farm teams. In a time when teams were spending tens of millions of dollars on talent at both the major and minor league level, Sox old-fashioned owner Bill Veeck tried to run the club on a shoestring. Finally, with the team in danger of being sold to a group in the Tampa-St.Petersburg area (now home of the Devil Rays), an ownership group headed up by real estate tycoon Jerry Reinsdorf bought the team and by 1983, had built a winner. The team that year made it into the playoffs, losing to eventual world champion Baltimore and their lights-out pitching staff.

In the next two decades, the White Sox were competitive but only managed two other playoff appearances. Neither team had much of a chance in the playoffs although the 1993 team competed well against eventual world champion Toronto.

The Bears won a Super Bowl in 1985. Then came the Bulls run of 6 championships in 8 years. Those championships won by the Reinsdorf-owned Bulls only whetted the appetite of the city for what the people really craved; a World Series winner.

Then came the hiring of the manic Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen and the oddly matched General Manager Ken Williams. Guillen was like a phosphorus grenade, ready to explode and burn at a moment’s notice while Williams was a pool of cool water, hardly a ripple visible to the public. Somehow, the two forged a prosperous relationship and built the current American League champs. How that relationship will play out when things get a little bumpier in the future may be entertaining to watch; something akin to a NASCAR race where many wait for the inevitable crash in turn #3.

For now however, all that counts is history and legends in the making. The White Sox have made believers out of the American League. But making converts of White Sox fans will take a little more work. After 46 years of disappointment, we can be excused if we tend to be a bit skeptical.


Filed under: CIA VS. THE WHITE HOUSE, Media, Politics, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 9:42 am

As Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald readies his indictments against probable targets Lewis I. “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove, the unfortunate truth is that any criminal proceedings against these or other current and former White House officials will validate the partisan political tactics used by the CIA to undermine the Bush Administration’s case for war.

This was not a case of a faction at the CIA resisting White House blame shifting. It was not a case of “setting the record straight” or “protecting the integrity” of the CIA. It was a case of naked, power politics played out at the highest levels of government as a small, partisan group of CIA analysts and operatives sought, through the use of selected leaking of cherry-picked information to friendly reporters, to influence the Presidential election of 2004.

As this Daily Telegraph article points out, the succession of leaks by CIA officials (or surrogates like Joe Wilson) had one goal in mind; to bring down the Bush Administration:

A powerful “old guard” faction in the Central Intelligence Agency has launched an unprecedented campaign to undermine the Bush administration with a battery of damaging leaks and briefings about Iraq.

The White House is incensed by the increasingly public sniping from some senior intelligence officers who, it believes, are conducting a partisan operation to swing the election on November 2 in favour of John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, and against George W Bush.

Jim Pavitt, a 31-year CIA veteran who retired as a departmental chief in August, said that he cannot recall a time of such “viciousness and vindictiveness” in a battle between the White House and the agency.

Whether Valerie Plame was an “analyst” or an “operative” in the CIA may be relevant to any criminal indictments regarding the leaking of her name. But in the CIA’s war against the Bush Administration, the fact that she worked for a division of the Agency that was doing most of the leaking of cherry-picked reports and analyses showing Saddam not to be a threat should be the focus of the “why” in the scandal.

Joe Wilson was sent by his wife’s superiors to Niger supposedly at the behest of Vice President Cheney, to discover whether or not the Iraqis were trying to buy yellowcake uranium in order to reconstitute their nuclear program. It was the most curious “fact-finding” trip in history. Wilson sat in a hotel while a succession of current and former Niger government officials were paraded before him each solemnly telling him that the charges were false, that the Iraqis had never asked the Niger government to circumvent international restrictions and sell them the uranium.

It was never explained why a group of Iraqi “businessmen” had met with former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki in 1999:

The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that “although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq.” [page 43]

Maybe the Iraqis were interested in importing cowpeas.?

The Wilson trip stinks to high heaven of a set up. Talk about predetermining the outcome of intelligence! It seems incontestable that the group in the Agency working for the ouster of President Bush knew full well what the result of Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger would be. One pertinent question might be to ask why did they choose to send a retired, minor diplomat to do a job that could have been done by any number of other current State Department or even Agency people whose contacts were as good or better than Mr. Wilson’s?

The answer is that the cabal would have been unable to control someone else’s reporting on the matter of Iraqi attempts to buy uranium. Wilson was the perfect errand boy. He was also to prove over the next several months to be something of a loose cannon and a self-aggrandizing, vainglorious blabbermouth. In this interview with LA Weekly, Wilson admits he was shopping the story of his trip long before either the Nicholas Kristoff piece of May 6, 2003 where the Niger trip is first mentioned in print or Wilson’s own OpEd in the New York Times that led to the outing of his wife:

So I spoke to a number of reporters over the ensuing months. Each time they asked the White House or the State Department about it, they would feign ignorance. I became even more convinced that I was going to have to tell the story myself.

That was probably part of the set-up all along. As we know now, no one at the White House or State Department knew of Mr. Wilson’s trip to Niger or what he found out there.

There are numerous questions associated with the entire Niger caper that will probably never be answered satisfactorily: Who forged the documents used by the British and passed along to the US that indicated Saddam was attempting to purchase the yellowcake in the first place? Why wasn’t Wilson’s report passed on to the Vice President, the man who Wilson ostensibly went to Niger for in the first place? Did Wilson use his contacts with the media to pass along other classified information given to him by his wife that were damaging to the President’s campaign?

When it comes to the CIA and its numerous leakers, it appears that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has a blind spot. And because of that, the cabal that worked to defeat the President last November will probably be toasting their success later this week when indictments are handed down.



Filed under: General — Rick Moran @ 10:07 am


There was a time when playing catch with one’s father was part of growing up, as natural and common place as running water.

I’m not sure the same holds true today. Families are different. Many families are without fathers and those that are so blessed either aren’t that interested in baseball or are limited by other factors such as work or alternative activities.

But most of the fathers I knew when I was growing up played catch or “Running Bases” with both their kids and other children in the neighborhood. And what I can recall about playing catch with my own father is that the man had what in baseball parlance is known as “a live arm.”

Even as a six or seven year old kid I knew my dad could pitch. A rather rotund figure, his delivery was effortless and the ball would steam into my mitt stinging my hand. It gave me a wonderful “grown up” feeling that he would throw the hard one to me. He had a curve ball that had a beautiful dip to it and his slider would shoot by my glove more often than not. The guy even threw a knuckle ball that was no fun to try and catch I can assure you.

I was probably ten years old when I realized with a shock that my dad had what baseball insiders call “good stuff.” This is something that a pitcher is born with. Either one has a live arm that leads to having good stuff or one doesn’t. While it is true that much of the art of pitching is learned including the mechanics of throwing the ball, the gift of a live arm is bestowed on precious few. It is something in the way the ball is released from a pitcher’s hand, or the snap of his wrist, or the way his shoulder rotates, or any one of a number of other mysterious reasons why some pitchers can make the ball move like a Mexican jumping bean.

Some pitchers with live arms never make it to the big leagues. Many pitchers blessed with good stuff have a devil of a time trying to throw strikes. The ball moves so precipitously and in so many ways that it sometimes takes years of hard work to learn how to control the flight of the ball. A good example would be Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.

Koufax could throw the ball 100 MPH but it was his curve ball and slider that were devastating to hitters. Sandy’s problem was that he could not control how much those particular pitches would break. Major League hitters figured out early on to be very patient with the young southpaw because Koufax more often than not would walk a hitter due to this chronic wildness.

After about 5 years, Sandy figured it out and was unhittable for the last few years of his career. The same exact thing could be said of Yankee hurler Randy Johnson who, once he conquered his wildness, was a reliable 20 game winner.

White Sox pitcher John Garland is such a pitcher. His smooth, effortless delivery masks the travail that hitters much go through to bat successfully against him. Last night, Garland’s pitching was so deceptive that the LA Angels broke their bats with regularity swinging at the moving, darting, hopping ball.

When a pitcher throws 95 MPH, the batter doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot of time to decide whether or not to swing. And when the ball has “late movement” - it darts inward or outward from the plate - the batsman doesn’t have a chance.

American League hitters have known this for years about Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. The chucker has such a live arm that hitters are swinging at pitches that almost hit them in the shoulder. Rivera’s pitchers start off right over the heart of the plate. But by the time the batter has committed to his swing, if he’s a right handed hitter the ball is digging toward his wrists. And by the time he makes contact (if he can catch up with the 93 MPH pitch) the ball is taking off his fingernails as the hitter’s bat meets the ball down near the handle of the bat.

Garland uses his “cut fastball” to get this effect. A cut fastball is thrown across the seams with the ball a little farther back in the hand (rather than gripped on the seams and thrown with the forefinger and index finger). While this means the ball is thrown with less vel0city, it also means the ball has a nasty, late break that can continuously fool hitters. This is what the Angels ran into last night; a man with a live arm and tremendous stuff so that it became almost impossible for them to “center” the ball on the bat and make good contact.

John Garland has finally lived up to his potential and on the national stage of the playoffs, proved he is one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. At age 25, the sky is the limit for the righthander.

White Sox starters in general continue to impress. Through three games - 27 innings - Sox starters have pitched an incredible 26 1/3 innings with the last two starts complete game victories. Such an accomplishment has not been seen in the playoffs since 1997.

And the flummoxed Angles hitters are starting to press. They are swinging at bad pitches and are not patient at all as evidenced by the fact that those same Sox starters have pitched all those innings and allowed only one walk.

White Sox hitters on the other hand looked much more relaxed last night as they executed much better at the plate and on the bases. Jermaine Dye got caught when Aaron Rowand pumped a vicious line drive that looked ticketed for left field but was snared by Angles shortstop Orlando Cabrera who made an easy toss to second to double off Dye. Cabrera also hit a two-run homer for the Angels only runs.

That blemish on Garland’s game was not the result of a mistake but rather Cabrera’s excellent at bat in the sixth inning. Garland had been pitching the diminutive shortstop inside, crowding him successfully until the kid guessed right on a Garland fastball and sent a screaming line drive into the left field seats.

But that was all Garland allowed. He set down the Angels in order in the 9th to earn the 5-2 victory. Taking the loss was John Lackey whose performance was disappointing to say the least. Back in July when Lackey throttled the White Sox on 4 hits, his lively fastball was finding its target and his curve dropped like a stone. But last night, his curve ball hung like ripe fruit over the middle of the plate and Sox players took immediate advantage. Konerko’s two-run homer in the first started the Pale Hose off on the right foot while Sox bats banged out 11 hits.

Lackey just didn’t have it last night. He wasn’t spotting his fastball well and his breaking balls were rolling up to the plate with the words “hit me” written all over them. And while the Angels bullpen has been spectacular, getting them the lead has been a problem lately.

Tonight, a kid with one of the livest arms imaginable goes for the Halos. Ervin Sanatana may be a rookie but he already has a shutout of the White Sox in July and gets the nod over the ailing Bartolo Colon.

It should be interesting to see if White Sox hitters are patient with this kid and make him throw strikes. This will be the key tonight. I predict If the Sox hitters get more than 4 walks, they win the ballgame.

For the Angles, they almost have to win this game or face elimination on Monday. That said, it looks like October baseball will continue in Chicago for at least one more game.

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