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A Presidential aide is implicated in a crime. Upon discovering this, the President has two options: 1) he can turn the aide in, take his lumps in the media, and eventually weather the storm, or 2) he can cover up the crime thus adding obstruction of justice to the legal mix and watch helplessly as the cover up is revealed piecemeal by a voracious, scandal-mongering media.

That was the decision faced by our gutless jellyfish of a President last night as Walt Cummings revealed his part in the assassination of Palmer as well as his connection to the terrorists. In real life, President Nixon found out his Attorney General had ordered the break-in at the Watergate hotel 3 days after the crime was committed. He chose to initiate a cover up that ended in his resignation. On the other hand, when Ed Meese discovered the possible law breaking of Oliver North’s crew in the Iran-Contra mess, Reagan didn’t hesitate. He immediately went to the press room and told the country about what was known. After a few rough spots (and a dip in the polls), Reagan came back strong the last year and a half of his Presidency finishing with approval ratings near 60%.

And Jellyfish?

LOGAN: Walt, you’re rationalizing murder, the murder of a President. You are going to contact those people before the nerve gas leaves the country.

CUMMINGS: I don’t know where the nerve gas is. And the man I had working on the inside has gone dark, he’s unreachable. No…no. You’ll let things play out as they are. Otherwise, your administration will be implicated and your presidency destroyed.

It’s your choice, Mr. President.

Cummings had taken the mettle of this President and had found it wanting. He recognized Logan for what he was; not only a spineless, worthless, sniveling mass of quivering man-flesh but a moral coward to boot. Getting Logan to play ball was easy.

Haldeman must have felt the same way.

Meanwhile, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the right as Cummings reveals his motives for helping the terrorists. Putting aside the possibility that his stated motives may be a smokescreen and there may be more at play here (HT: my lover Sue), what is wrong with the government working to secure our access to oil?

Oil is the lifeblood of industrialized civilization. Excuse me. Not just oil but cheap oil. Without a cheap, reliable supply of oil, this country’s economy would collapse. Thousands of people would die. They would freeze to death in winter. Millions could be thrown our of work. Also, crops couldn’t be harvested and transported. Processed food would not reach the stores because the independent truckers who haul 80% of our food would be ruined by spiraling costs for fuel.

The oil shocks of the 1970’s nearly destroyed our industrial base. When oil went from $6 a barrel to $30 a barrel, the resulting chaos caused thousands of companies to go bankrupt. Millions were thrown out of work in the decade of the 1970’s. And we sat there and took it because we were conditioned to think of oil as something the oil companies made a profit on not as the vital commodity that it really is. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when President Carter initiated a grain embargo against the Soviet Union, many on the left rightly called it an immoral act to deny needed food – even to an enemy. Since 1996, we have supplied our deadly enemies, the North Koreans, with more than 2,000,000 pounds of food aid.

For the same reason that it is immoral to use food as a weapon, it is unconscionable to use oil for the same purpose. But since the left has declared it a mortal sin to make a profit, it is easy to obfuscate our absolute need for oil by raising the specter of the evil corporations who traffic in it. Oil companies have been the bogeyman of conspiratorial leftist politics for 50 years. They have defined the oil issue not as one of survival but as one of money. They have successfully twisted the debate to where oil is simply a commodity not the tether by which our civilization hangs.

I hope to God there is someone, somewhere in government who is in fact thinking about securing a cheap, reliable supply of oil for coming generations. The fact that Cummings was working outside the system (we think) is what should be stressed, not his goal of thinking about a stable supply of oil. Of course, killing an ex-President and the hostage taking at the airport not to mention working with terrorists in the first place was dead wrong. But let’s not go off half cocked on his stated reasons for doing so.


Fat Hobbit Lin makes the decision to allow Jack to get in touch with Novik and tell him about Cummings. Jack’s “plausible deniability” reason is thin but never mind that now. What’s important is that Jack is about to expose Cummings.

Before he can do that, he simply must do something about his love life. With enough nerve gas to kill the population of the United States a couple of times over loose and on its way to God knows where and with a mole sitting at arms length from the President of the United States, Jack feels compelled to explain himself to Diane.

The writers have made it pretty plain the Jack and Audrey still have powerful feelings for one another which makes one wonder why they brought Diane into the story in the first place. The look of pain on Diane’s face as Jack confesses he still loves Audrey sets up a later confrontation between the two women during which Diane lets slip the “L” word regarding Jack’s feelings for Audrey. Will Diane fight for Jack’s love? What we need here is a good old fashioned kidnapping of Diane to get Jack’s protective instincts in high gear. That’s the only way those two have a chance – Jack realizing he prefers the quiet, anonymous life as a roustabout rather than the thrill-a-minute life offered by Audrey.

Mystery Man (who I believe was called “Nate” by Cummings) sitting in his high-tech control room has intercepted Jack’s call to Novik and replayed it for Cummings. Realizing the jig is up, Cummings decides to come clean. Or does he? Mystery Man said to Cummings “You know what you have to do,” regarding Cummings being exposed. It makes one wonder if there isn’t another layer to this conspiracy that Cummings is still hiding. Stay tuned.

Agent Pierce meanwhile finds Martha hiding in the stables. She begs him to prevent her transfer to the mental institution and starts to relay her fears about Palmer’s suspicions. Before Pierce can hear her out, she’s led away – still without a word from the man who supposedly loves her, the President of the United States. It is perhaps unseemly (not to mention illegal) to wish a bullet would find Mr. Jellyfish and put an end to his pretensions. Alas, I doubt we’ll get that lucky.

Then again, the following scene where Cummings confesses his role in the day’s events only shows that shooting would be too good for him. Perhaps something a little more medieval – a boiling vat of oil or perhaps some ravenous dogs in a pit would do justice to his crimes:

LOGAN: So everything that happened today was just to kill some terrorists?

CUMMINGS: No. This is to produce a smoking gun. Proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Central Asia.

LOGAN: ...This is unbelievable…

CUMMINGS: It’s necessary. It will finally give us a pretext to increase our military presence in the region, guaranteeing the flow of oil for the next generation.

LOGAN: How dare you! How dare you act without my consent! How dare you put this Administration (!), the entire country in jeopardy! (shouting) You are a traitor!


Seeing Logan’s confusion and hesitation, Cummings goes for the throat by making it clear who would be blamed if any of this ever came out. Jellyfish gives in and apparently starts to play ball. But his sniveling need for assurances from Cummings only makes me think that Fox should have an additional disclaimer at the top of the show. In addition to the violence warning, the network should inform viewers that “Watching portions of this show my induce extreme nausea and perhaps vomiting.”

With Logan on his side, Cummings orders the arrest of Jack and Novik. Jellyfish is in a daze. Take CTU out of the loop? What should I say? Cummings has to remind the swine that he’s the President of the United States and can do anything he wants.

Meanwhile back at CTU, Fat Hobbit Linn announces that he’s going to obey orders like a good little bureaucrat. It’s up to Bill to put some spine into the former Shire denizen who seems to lose his breath when the situation gets a little tight. Bill also points out that as a CTU director, Linn succeeds as a passable Hobbit. That may be alright for Middle Earth, but his hesitation and indecision is not only putting lives in danger but killing the flow of the show. Bill bucks Linn up and CTU stays on the case.

Back at the ranch, Jack is about to be transferred to the black hole of Calcutta never to be heard from again when he convinces Agent Pierce that he needs to see the President. Jeopardizing his career for the second time (Pierce helped Palmer regain control 2 years ago after a coup engineered by Novik), Pierce clears the way for Jack to burst in on Cummings and Jellyfish:

JACK: Mr. President my name is Jack Bauer and I’m sorry to have to confront you like this. But your Chief of Staff is withholding information that is vital to this nation’s security!

As Cummings lunges for the phone – cleverly disconnected by Agent Pierce – Jack goes to work on the fleshy parts of the body of Mr. Cummings. Jellyfish is pathetic:

LOGAN: Stop this! I…I’m the President of the United States! Get your hands off that man! Agent Pierce, do something!

PIERCE: I am Mr. President. I am upholding my oath to protect you.

Jack tires of the sport and draws his knife. Holding it up to Cummings face, Jack gives the second most powerful man in Washington a choice; talk or he will pop his eyes out of their sockets. Convinced, Cummings relents and tells Jack that the nerve gas is on a ship bound for Central Asia.

A grateful Jellyfish tries to explain to Jack that he “trusted” Cummings and that the man lied to him. Jack stands there as if wondering whether he should try the knife trick on Jellyfish to see if he’s involved too. Thinking better of it, Jack reverts to type, promising the President that he will “disappear again” after the nerve gas is found. The look on Jack’s face when Jellyfish extends his hand is priceless. Jack looks as if he was being forced to shake hands with an oily, slimy alien. Jack’s famous loyalty to the Office of the President may be sorely tested before this day is over.

CTU Tactical finds the shipping container where the nerve gas was but discovers it empty. Ivan the Terrorist has smelled out Cumming’s amateurish plot and has now moved the nerve gas to where it can do damage to “his enemies.” That’s us. And all this makes one wonder if the Mystery Man who was running Cummings didn’t envision a scenario like this all along. He may or may not be the ultimate mastermind. But its clear his agenda has not been fleshed out quite yet.

Ivan the Terrorist’s chilling call to Cummings reveals that the terrorists know Cummings was outed. And it also means that for CTU, the clock has started and the countdown has begun.


Another family friendly episode. His Majesty (named by Polipundit readers as “Jack Bauer of the Blogosphere”) is apoplectic that the body count isn’t higher. I wouldn’t worry Misha. We’ve still got 75% of the show to go.

Tonights lone fatality was Schaeffer, Cummings man on the inside, offed by Ivan the Terrorist.


SHOW: 28


Anyone notice that Cummings collar and tie was loosened when he came back in the room with the President following the raid on the container ship? He also looked pretty good for someone Jack just beat up. Usually, Jack’s victims look like Jerry Quarry did after going 10 rounds with Mohammed Ali.


Here’s a link to a site that features a “Kill Count and Torture Report.” I wonder if we’ll end up with the same number of kills for Jack at the end of the show?

By: Rick Moran at 8:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

street blowjob forced blowjobs linked with street blowjob forced blowjobs
Below The Beltway linked with This Season On 24

I was all set to write up this week’s Carnival, following my usual routine of brewing a pot of freshly ground Italian Roast coffee and carefully placing two packs of Basic 100 cigarettes next to my Dave Brubeck-Thelonius Monk Jazz Essentials CD case when it hit me: What would Jack Bauer do in some of these situations?

Since Jack is not clueless about anything , this theme will supply what this Carnival has been sorely lacking since its inception; an answer to the obvious question of what else could have been done that would have taken these cluebats off the clueless list.

As Jack has been known to say from time to time, “There are always alternatives.” For this edition of the Carnival then, in addition to highlighting each entrant’s article, an addendum will be added: What Would Jack Bauer Do? (WWJBD?)

At the very least, Jack will be able to teach these morons a thing or two about courage. And loyalty. And perhaps a few novel ways to torture someone.

“That’s the problem with people like you. You want results, but you never want to get your hands dirty. I’d start rolling up your sleeves.”
(Jack Bauer)

“Better get busy Jack. From the looks of this week’s Carnival, you’ve got a lot of work to do.”


Wonder Woman has a real jaw dropper about a nearby institution housing some of Canada’s worst violent criminals under the most minimal security imaginable.

WWJBD? First, Jack would bitchslap the authorities responsible. Then he would break into the prison and pose as a violent criminal in order to keep an eye on the thugs. Many would disappear under mysterious circumstances.

Mark Coffey brings us Senator Kerry’s naked political calculations in his Shang-Ri-La effort to filibuster Judge Alito.

WWJBD? Nothing. Jack doesn’t get in the way of people when they are self-destructing.

XYBA has researched the Restorative Justice Concept (used by the Judge in Vermont to sentence a child rapist to 60 days in jail) and wonders just how clueless one has to be to believe in it.

WWJBD? The only “restorative justice” Jack believes in is the kind where a terrorist is “restored” to Allah.

AJ Strata takes the LA Times to task for some completely clueless editorializing about how the Republicans mythologize the 1960’s for their own political benefit.

WWJBD? Jack doesn’t read newspapers. He hooks himself up to the CTU Mainframe every morning and downloads all the information he needs directly into his cerebellum.

Fred Fry on John Kerry’s planned run for the Presidency: “To bad for Kerry that the majority of those wishing for him to run, are those who plan to vote against him.” Yep.

WWJBD? Jack usually doesn’t care who’s President as long as they let him keep his gun and kill terrorists. Jack will make an exception in Kerry’s case.

Miriam proves that you can tell an author’s age simply by studying how he describes his characters.

WWJBD? Jack is like the old folks in Cocoon:It’s a place where we never grow old and we’ll never die.”

DL at TMH Bacon Bits begs the Democrats to filibuster Alito.

WWJBD? Jack never begs. Using reverse psychology, Jack will announce that anyone who votes to filibuster Alito will get a bullet in the knee. “When I’m finished with you, you’re gonna wish that you felt this good again.

Atlas Shrugs has a photo gallery of some of the most vicious thugs embracing and swapping spit.

WWJBD? One look at the lovely Pamela and Jack would quit CTU, marry her, and settle down in Connecticut commuting every day to New York city where he works as a rare book seller.

Fausta joins the Carnival this week with a post on Castro’s response to our “democracy crawl” that’s visible to most of downtown Havana in the windows of our our consulate.

WWJBD? First, Jack would fix up Fausta’s hair real nice. Second, Jack would have taken care of the commie thug a long time ago.

Minh-Duc has some choice words for the Bush Administration and their plans to cut off funding for Iraq reconstruction.

WWJBD? Notwithstanding his loyalty to the President, Jack would march into the oval office and bash George and Rummy’s heads together to knock some sense into them. As for Condi, Jack doesn’t torture women but may think about dislocating a few of her fingers to get the Secretary to reconsider.

Mensa Barbie rounds up coverage of Mother Sheehan and her love fest with “The Laughing Goat” Hugo Chavez.

WWJBD? Jack would have tried to slap some sense into Sheehan months ago. As for Chavez: “We didn’t bring this crisis on ourselves, but we’ll be the ones to settle it. This is a dirty business and we have to get our hands dirty to clean it up!

Don Surber takes a hard look at GOP Senate candidate John Raese and the fact that he should be calling himself a “West Virfloridaginian” considering his housing situation.

WWJBD? Since Jack can be in two places at the same time, he would have no problems.

Our favorite hippie chick Peace Moonbeam had a blind date with… Well, you’ll have to figure it out. But it was a very important Democratic Senator who drinks Old Grandad – to excess!

WWJBD? Jack, an Old Grandad fan himself, has informed me that he stopped drinking the stuff the minute he heard this guy was drinking the same thing. I told him that wasn’t necessary as the gentleman’s second favorite drink was a “Bloody Mary Jo.”

Buckley F. Williams tells us about the 17 year old boy who won the right to wear a skirt to school.

WWJBD? Jack would embrace the boy and then teach him how to hunt and shoot as well as the best pressure points to use when trying to elicit information from a terrorist suspect. Overcome with an excess of testosterone, the boy would throw away the skirt and start beating up jocks.

Cao continues her coverage of the Jack Idema story highlighting the response of President Karzai to terrorists.

WWJBD? Jack Idema is Jack Bauer’s long lost twin brother. Bauer goes to Afghanistan, frees Idema, and they both tear a bloody swath through SW Asia killing every terrorist they can find.

Van Helsing congratulates Hugh Hewitt for his expert takedown of Cluebat of the Week Joel Stein whose remarks about not respecting the troops enraged not a few of us.

WWJBD? Jack often uses The Slayer to help him with those hard to kill terrorists – the ones like Marwan who seem to have supernatural abilities that help them to escape capture. Jack ignores Klein who he sees correctly as a pimple not worth popping.

Giacomo tells us what he’s doing about a clueless Nike ad that shows 7 year old kids climbing a ladder to dunk a basketball.

WWJBD? Jack doesn’t wear Nike’s to begin with. Everyone knows he wears Keds high tops. Secondly, Jack would kidnap the marketing director for Nike and torture him until the cluebat took the ad off the air.

Kender writes about Lying Leftists and the Lying Lies they Lie.

WWJBD? Jack and Kender make the rounds of Hollywood parties with 10 feet of copper wire, a bucket of water, and a car battery as they try and jolt some sense into the cluebats. Jack doesn’t like liars.

Orac comments on the picture of a pro-choice pregnant woman whose body painting proves how truly clueless she really is.

WWJBD? Since Jack was immaculately conceived, he has no position on abortion.

Adam tries to knock some sense into a clueless lefty who is agitating for an Alito filibuster despite the reality that the GOP has enough votes to confirm him.

WWJBD? Jack gets Chloe to hack the cluebat’s website and place Ronald Reagan quotes in the sidebar.

Kurt at Fly By Night has the details on a communities efforts to rid themselves of some local cluebats who have royally screwed up government.

WWJBD? Jack lets his gun do all his talking.

Those pouncing pachyderms at Elephants in Academia wonder aloud at the cluelessness of the Pentagon press corps.

WWJBD? Jack would drug the coffee of all reporters at the Pentagon making them sleep through their deadline. While they were unconscious, he would steal their hairspray and blue “power ties” so they would be unable to appear on TV.

Holly Aho has the scoop on some cluelessness in the State of Minnesota government who can’t seem to figure out what they should be doing with an illegally collected tax on smokers.

WWJBD? Jack is actually a smoker but THERE’S NO TIME to light up when he’s saving the country from terrorists.

Tom Bowler talks about an apparent Democratic exemption to the ethics rules in Congress.

WWJBD? Jack has a very strict code of ethics: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!”

Dangerous Dan has some thoughts on a clueless poster at Huffpo who sees the mad mullahs in Iran as soft, furry, Ewok like creatures who wouldn’t harm the hair on your head.

WWJBD? Jack wouldn’t wait until the mullahs went nuclear. “You have no idea how far I’m willing to go to acquire your cooperation.”

Jack Cluth tells us about a Hooters opening in Waco that was picketed by the Christian right.

WWJBD? Jack doesn’t mind Hooters as long as they let him bring his gun into the bar.

Beej at the blog Kiss my Sass has some advice for John Kerry yodeling his way to supporting the Alito filibuster.

WWJBD? Jack hates yodeling and would probably have detonated a bomb on Kerry’s ski slope in Davos in order to start an avalanche.

Finally, here’s my post on the Dems de-evolving into a Quivering Pile of Goo.

WWJBD? Nothing. Jack knows I can handle things like this myself.

By: Rick Moran at 11:34 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (26)

Political Satire Fake News - The Nose On Your Face linked with Sunday Carnival Wrap-Up Etc...
Don Surber linked with Best Posts For Wednesday
Atlas Shrugs linked with Newsday. Leftwing Tool
Mensa Barbie Welcomes You linked with Carnival Update
Kenders' Musings linked with The Jack Bauer Edition of The Carnival of the Clue
Stop The ACLU linked with Senate Votes to End Debate on Alito Nomination
Joust The Facts linked with Furtive Glances - Stare Decisis Edition
Moonbattery linked with Hugh Hewitt Eviscerates La Times Moonbat Joel Stein
Libertarian Leanings linked with Carnival of the Clueless #31
A North American Patriot linked with Pffffltt!!!!!
Cao's Blog linked with Carnival of the Clueless #31
CATEGORY: Politics

Pity poor Nancy Pelosi. She, like the rest of her Democratic colleagues, has huge problems when it comes to criticizing the NSA intercept program in order to make political hay. On the one hand, they can’t be seen as soft on national security so you never hear them calling for the program to be terminated. On the other hand, they have to pander to their cockeyed base of support so you never hear them saying that the program was necessary.

It’s almost enough to make a Republican giggle.

Legal and unnecessary? Sounds like a great argument to make if you’re not running for anything. Unfortunately for Pelosi, she and her Democratic camp followers have to face the voters and are desperately flailing about looking for an issue that will prove a magic talisman that if rubbed hard enough, will bring them victory at the polls next November.

Judging by this interview with the Associated Press, Pelosi is coming to the realization that the NSA intercept program ain’t it:

Pelosi did not say the NSA’s surveillance program was illegal. But she said the administration should follow the procedures in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government lawyers to ask a secretive court for warrants for surveillance in the United States during national security investigations.

“If you say … this is for a narrow universe of calls, there is absolutely no issue with getting a FISA warrant for that,” said Pelosi, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and has been involved for the past 13 years in overseeing U.S. intelligence agencies.

“It is when you go beyond that, that it becomes a challenge,” she said in the interview Friday. “The president says he is not going beyond that, so why can’t he obey the law?”

Pelosi declined to offer specifics about warrants granted, but she said the administration already has “the mother of all FISAs which enables them to do a lot.”

If Pelosi is going to hang her hat on the technical requirements of getting a warrant through FISA, she will probably be disabused of this line of attack by Attorney General Gonzalez who will appear at hearings called by Senator Specter’s Judiciary Committee starting on February 6. Without being able to get into the details of how the program worked, Gonzalez will still be able to cite plenty of case law that shows the President not only had the authority under the Constitution to act but that bypassing the FISA court was both legal and justifiable under the circumstances.

Responding to a New York Times hit piece on the President’s legal justifications for the NSA intercept program, John Hindraker summarizes Pelosi’s dilemma:

The Times quotes liberal critics of the administration repeatedly through the article, so why is it suddenly so coy on this critical point? Because there is no law professor in America—actually, no law student in America—who would allow his name to be associated with the Times’ indefensible characterization of the 2002 opinion of the FISA appellate court. The Times tries to suggest that that court’s statement that the President has the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes lends only debatable support to the administration’s case because “some legal analysts say” that the court was only talking about precedents that pre-dated the passage of FISA in 1978; therefore, the court’s conclusion may not be operative post-FISA. That suggestion is completely untenable. The FISA appellate court specifically rejected the theory argued for by the Times:

We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.

No doubt the Democrats on the Committee will ignore this kind of evidence and, like Pelosi, raise the specter of dragons hiding in the mist to intimate dark and foreboding evil doings being perpetrated by the White House.

Unfortunately for the Dems, Saint George only has to slay real dragons – and the people agree with him judging by this NY Times-CBS Poll:

In one striking finding, respondents overwhelmingly supported e-mail and telephone monitoring directed at “Americans that the government is suspicious of;” they overwhelmingly opposed the same kind of surveillance if it was aimed at “ordinary Americans.”

I would say it’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re in contact with someone overseas who has sympathy for or works with terrorists, that would make the government suspicious of you.

Pelosi and her pals can read these polls as well as you or I which makes her statements on the issue begin to sound more and more like the protestations of a survivor of the Titanic who complains that there is no first class service available in the lifeboats.

At the same time that they realize they can’t call for the suspension or elimination of a program that the majority of Americans see as an effective tool in keeping the homeland safe, neither can they come out in support of it due to the rabid opposition by the feral dogs inhabiting the fever swamps of the party to anything that proves effective in the War on Terror done by the President.

So we’re left with the spectacle of Pelosi gingerly walking the plank hoping that her crazed brethren don’t push her over the edge by demanding that she and her colleagues call for the elimination of the intercept program.

This is why this issue will fade with the coming of the blooming cherry blossoms in DC. It is unlikely that the court challenges against the program will make any headway for the foreseeable future and as a political issue, “that dog won’t hunt” as Zell Miller might say.

Don’t feel too bad for Nancy and her trapped friends. There’s always hope that the Republicans in Congress will find a way to hand them the key to their handcuffs and send them on their merry way to victory in November.

Can the Republicans be that stupid? Stay tuned.

By: Rick Moran at 7:48 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

Watcher of Weasels linked with Weekly Roundup of Weekly Roundups
Small Town Veteran linked with Assisted Suicide
Pirate's Cove linked with RightWing NutHouse Takes My Verbiage!
CATEGORY: History, Space

It was a bright, sunny late January day in St. Louis with a hint of warmth as I recall. I was sitting at my desk signing the 100 or so checks that had to go out at the end of the month when my wife called. All she could say was “Oh! Those poor kids.” She was referring to the Challenger disaster and the fact that Christa McCauliffe, the first real civilian to go into space and a teacher from a small school in New Hampshire, was killed in full view of her students on national TV.

Living in an apartment literally behind the office complex where I worked, it took me less than a minute to sprint home. For the rest of the day – a day in retrospect much like 9/11 – I was glued to the TV as history unfolded before my eyes. Even 20 years later I have a hard time trying to put my emotions into context. I was sorry for the astronauts of course. But much more than that, I realized that the tragedy signaled the end of the space age as we had come to know it.

By 1986 it had become apparent that NASA had oversold the Shuttle. Thinking back that day to April of 1981 when I snuck out of work and went to the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill to sit in the bar and watch the launch of the very first shuttle, I tried to recapture the feeling of watching the machine as it rose majestically into the air. “Go! Go! Go!” Everyone in the crowded bar was screaming at the top of their lungs as the excitement of the day made me think that I was witnessing a gigantic step forward on mankind’s road to the stars.

It wasn’t to be. Instead, the Shuttle proved to be something of a lemon, a multi billion dollar space truck that the government had to pay corporations to use by charging a pittance for satellite launching compared to what it actually cost the government to launch and maintain. We knew this by January 28, 1986. What we didn’t know and didn’t find out until the Presidential Commission on the disaster returned its damning findings was that NASA had ossified into a glacial bureaucracy that no amount of tinkering could fix because the problems were spiritual, not systemic.

NASA had stopped listening to the music, the siren song coming from the stars. Their thoughts and energies were earthbound. They had lost the “can-do” spirit of the go-go 60’s and become just another incompetent federal bureaucracy.

Dr. Pat Santay was flight surgeon to the Challenger crew and obviously has some poignant, gripping memories from that day. I urge you to read this post in its entirety. Her introduction especially caught my eye:

NASA has evolved into a culture that does not tolerate criticism well. It is a place where being a “team player” means shutting up and doing what you are told, or else you will be marginalized and your career finished. That is not the sort of place where innovation—or safety—thrive.

I still believe that space exploration and colonization is the destiny of humanity and that one day our decendants will fly from star to star the way we drive from city to city. I no longer imagine them flying in NASA spacecraft, however. The astronauts of Challenger and Columbia are some of the pioneers that slowly but surely bring us closer to that dream. To all of them I say, the dream is alive and well…but that NASA stopped dreaming a while back and is now just semi-comatose. We will make it into outer space to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new civilizations and go where noone has gone before—but it will be through the courage of private citizens whose boldness is not limited by a risk-adverse and earth-bound government bureaucracy. I personally look to them to bring the future.

It is not cheap going into space. It costs NASA around $1,500 per pound to put a man into space and keep him alive. Before the kind of future Pat is talking about becomes a reality, that number is going to have to be sliced by 90%. And the corporations that can do it are probably already in existence.

NASA’s current plans call for returning to the moon by 2018. To my mind,, it’s an even money bet to see whether a commercial enterprise beats the government back there or not. Given NASA’s recent track record with making deadlines and having projects come in under budget, I suspect that unless the issue is pressed, NASA would lose that bet.

The American space program actually defined this country for a while. No longer. If nothing else, the fact that NASA has been staffed by small men with small dreams has turned a once proud agency and showcase for US achievement into a shell of its former self. I’m with the Doc; it’s time to look elsewhere for those who dream big dreams and have the drive and determination to make them come true.

A little bit of all of us died that horrible day 20 years ago. But soon…very soon, we may start hearing the music again.

By: Rick Moran at 3:48 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

Small Town Veteran linked with Remembering the Challenger 7
Stop The ACLU linked with Remembering the Challenger: 7 New Stars In the Heavens
The Moderate Voice linked with America Remembers Challenger Crew On Tragedy's 20th Anniversary
Rhymes With Right linked with Challenger+20
CATEGORY: History, Politics

Joseph J. Ellis is one of my favorite historians. The Mount Holyoke professor won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 2001 with his fascinating story of the men who created America called Founding Brothers. And his book American Sphinx that looked at the towering figure of Thomas Jefferson with a freshness and vigor that earned him a 1997 National Book Award is also well worth a read.

But in an Op-Ed in today’s New York Times, Ellis makes a mistake made by many historians when he tries to put the events of 9/11 in perspective while the smell of burning jet fuel and charred bodies is still fresh in the nostrils of many Americans. In other words, Ellis is attempting to contextualize an event that for all intents and purposes is still “news” and therefore immune to the kind of analysis that even an excellent historian like Ellis can generate.

I believe it was the Civil War historian Bruce Catton who half-joked that mid 20th century historians of the French L’Académie française declined to study any event later than the Napoleonic Wars. They believed that it took 100 years for all the personal reflections, reminisces, and correspondence to see the light of day hence, it was useless to try and piece together what actually happened during any given time in history without the passage of time.

There is something to be said for that kind of attitude toward history. And when looking at the events of 9/11, it is tempting to draw lessons and make historical analogies that a good historian like Ellis would normally eschew. Allowing a single event to ripen and age in the minds of the people ordinarily brings a kind of consensus as to where it fits into the national narrative. This is when “perspective” can be imprinted on the national psyche and give depth and meaning to a single event. History is all about having 20-20 hindsight. And the time and distance we move from any single point allows for emotions to settle and memory to fade so that the historian can then place into a context relevant to our personal experience events that when they occurred generated passions that could cloud the judgment and roil the emotions of both the historian and reader.

It’s bad enough that Ellis is attempting such a feat of legerdemain regarding 9/11 itself. But he also attempts to place the Administration’s efforts at homeland security in context with other measures taken by Presidents during national crisis and finds the comparison with Bush wanting. It may be that someday (and let’s hope that for America there will in fact be a “someday”) future historians will find much to criticize regarding the President’s aggressive domestic security policies. But with so much hidden from the average citizen by necessity, it seems to me to be a futile exercise to attempt such analogies now. We know quite a bit about what went into Adam’s decision to introduce the hated Alien and Sedition Acts. I daresay we don’t know squat about the NSA intercept program compared to what we will know in 100 years.

Simply put, Ellis is dead wrong in trying to train his historian’s eye on 9/11:

Whether or not we can regard Sept. 11 as history, I would like to raise two historical questions about the terrorist attacks of that horrific day. My goal is not to offer definitive answers but rather to invite a serious debate about whether Sept. 11 deserves the historical significance it has achieved.

My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.

I appreciate Professor Ellis’s disclaimer regarding “definitive answers” about ranking 9/11 as a threat to our survival. And if it is debate he wants, he’s got it.

Ellis takes several historical events – the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Cold War – as events that were more of a threat to our survival than 9/11. I find the choices made by the professor interesting but would argue that only the Cold War was a true threat to American survival. There is a school of thought that argues there was no way American independence could have been denied, that even if Washington’s Continental army had been destroyed, resistance would have continued until the British gave up and went home.

A similar argument can be made about the War of 1812. The British may have temporarily been able to hang on to the Northwest territories and perhaps even have occupied the mid-Atlantic states for a while. But as the Treaty of Ghent proved, the British were not interested in reestablishing colonies or maintaining much of a presence in North America. The question of New England secession is an interesting one, best dealt with by author Orson Scott Card in his Tales of Alvin Maker series. But for the same reason that even if the northern states had given up at some point during the Civil War the United States would have come back together at some point. The ties of history, commerce, and culture were too natural and too strong to break, even by war.

That leaves the Cold War where the United States could have been destroyed in less than a day. Ellis specifically calls to mind the Cuban Missile Crisis which in many ways marked the apogee of Cold War tensions. I can’t argue that 9/11 was a greater threat to national security than the Cuban missile crisis. But I can certainly point out that the professor is comparing apples and oranges by failing to differentiate between an event like the Cuban missile crisis and the ongoing threat posed by those who perpetrated the attack on the Trade Centers. Taking the Cold War in its totality and putting it into the context of an existential threat to the survival of the United States is all well and good. But even here, given the implacable nature of our enemies compared to the Russians who after all were not willing to destroy themselves in order to defeat us, one has to take into account the fanaticism of the jihadists in order to appreciate the current threat – something I don’t believe the professor does.

Not content however to rank the threats to our national life, Professor Ellis then really gets my goat by pointing out other security responses of the government to different crisis in our history:

My list of precedents for the Patriot Act and government wiretapping of American citizens would include the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which allowed the federal government to close newspapers and deport foreigners during the “quasi-war” with France; the denial of habeas corpus during the Civil War, which permitted the pre-emptive arrest of suspected Southern sympathizers; the Red Scare of 1919, which emboldened the attorney general to round up leftist critics in the wake of the Russian Revolution; the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was justified on the grounds that their ancestry made them potential threats to national security; the McCarthy scare of the early 1950’s, which used cold war anxieties to pursue a witch hunt against putative Communists in government, universities and the film industry.

In retrospect, none of these domestic responses to perceived national security threats looks justifiable. Every history textbook I know describes them as lamentable, excessive, even embarrassing. Some very distinguished American presidents, including John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, succumbed to quite genuine and widespread popular fears. No historian or biographer has argued that these were their finest hours.

I will defer to the professor’s superior knowledge and judgment about how “lamentable” each of these reactions to crisis was in “retrospect.” He’s a better man than I if he can judge Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeus corpus (which I’m sure the professor is aware was only one in a series of actions President Lincoln took that violated the Bill of Rights). I prefer to look at Lincoln and FDR doing what they honestly believed must be done to safeguard the Republic. Does that make them immune from criticism? Not from a distance with that 20-20 hindsight I referred to earlier.

But the same historians and biographers who take those illustrious Americans to task for their actions initiated in the name of “national security,” rarely fail to point out the context in which those decisions were made. Can a decision like Lincoln’s to abandon 4th Amendment protections in areas of the country in rebellion be seen as both wrong and necessary? I would think that Father Abraham thought so. He knew full well he was violating the Constitution: “”To state the question more directly, are all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated? Lincoln went on to ponder whether obeying the Supreme Court would not violate his oath of office to “preserve and protect” the country since he felt the suspension of habeas corpus to be absolutely essential to the survival of the country.

This, I believe, places President Bush’s actions in a similar light. While it is evident that Professor Ellis does not view 9/11 as the earth shattering event that many of the rest of us do (reason enough for any of us not to try and place it in historical perspective) it is also clear that he feels it is wrong to have it dominate our national security and domestic policy to the exclusion of most other issues:

What Patrick Henry once called “the lamp of experience” needs to be brought into the shadowy space in which we have all been living since Sept. 11. My tentative conclusion is that the light it sheds exposes the ghosts and goblins of our traumatized imaginations. It is completely understandable that those who lost loved ones on that date will carry emotional scars for the remainder of their lives. But it defies reason and experience to make Sept. 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency.

Do I detect a whiff of partisanship in the professor’s notation that there has been an “overreaction” to 9/11? And how is it possible in this context that “complacency” toward an enemy that as I write this is desperately trying to get its hands on weapons that would kill 10 times and 10 times again the 3,000 that perished that horrible day?

The reason September 11 is the “defining influence” that it has become is the recognition of the kind of enemy we face and their fanatical desire to kill as many Americans as they can regardless of the consequences to themselves. It may be that someday soon we will start calling this war something besides the War on Terror. Goodness knows that appellation is a misnomer if there ever was one. It should be known as the War Against the Darkness or the War Against Modernity. It may even become War Against Islam which is what our enemies are calling it anyway. But to say that our actions have been an “overreaction” presupposes that there is a limit to what our enemies wish to visit upon us. A look at what they say and their actions in support of those words should disabuse all but the most inward looking among us that they mean what they say and worse, are capable of making good on their bloodcurdling boasts.

Sorry professor. I admire your attempt to get a debate going on this issue. But it may be a non-starter. In order to debate the issues you outline in your article, there has to be an agreement on basic facts like whether or not we are at war and whether or not you think George Bush has horns, a tail, and is the incarnation of the devil himself. What would be the point in debating 9/11 in an historical context if the person on the other side sometimes appears to believe that those dastardly attacks never happened?


A couple of other views on this worth looking at.

Ranting Profs:

In other words, because when we have responded to trauma in the past, the threat has turned out to be exaggerated, and September 11 was a trauma, this threat too will turn out to be exaggerated, QED.

This is an absolutely amazing way to reason yourself to security policy. There is not one hint or breath of al Queda specific analysis or evidence here. (And remember, we’re talking about al Queda prime, not anything so peripheral as the decision to go into Iraq.) Putting aside the hstorical question of whether he’s right that all these past instances were actually false fears, would you actually decide that since past fears were false, it was therefore safe to simply blow off fears about al Queda?

Wouldn’t you at the very least want to ask for some evidence?

And, by the by, however big a pig Joe McCarthy was, I think most people have come to the conclusion by now that there really were some Communists running around. And he himself argues that they were a threat when he lists the Cuban Missile Crisis in the first tier of historical threats—those weren’t Swedes pointing missiles at us, you know.

Well said. And I was going to include her point about Jumpin’ Joe being vindicated by the Venona intercepts – cables that showed that there were literally dozens of communists at State and DoD including Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs – but I also felt the professor had a point about McCarthy’s overreaching.

Robert Schlesinger at the Huffpo has a thoughtful piece:

There is of course a strong counter-argument. The September 11 attacks brought into sharp relief the fact that we have entered a world where individuals can wield destructive power that was once reserved for nation-states.

Or to put it another way: While the worst-case scenario does not contemplate the end of the United States, it does contemplate millions killed.

While I obviously have my inclinations, I am not entirely comfortable with either side. But it’s still a debate worth having.

I would argue that a couple of nukes would destroy the America we live in now and replace it with something unrecognizable.

See also Ed’s rebuttal to my post in the comments.


Pat Curley has a great point that I sort of surrounded but didn’t make as clearly as this:

First, let’s stop calling it “Sept. 11”. That’s one incident. Where does Pearl Harbor rate on his scale? Answer: It doesn’t; it’s a part of a larger conflict called World War II. Obviously 9-11 wasn’t as big a threat to the United States as World War II. But is Islamic terrorism as big a threat as Hitler and the Japanese? Maybe not, but the scale is not as dramatically off kilter. How many American civilians were killed by our enemies in World War II? I don’t know the answer, but I suspect it was not as many as died on 9-11.

Outside of Pearl Harbor and the odd sinking of a freighter that was carrying passengers, the number of dead American civilians doesn’t come close to the number we lost on 9/11.

By: Rick Moran at 9:10 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (25)

Watcher of Weasels linked with The Council Has Spoken!
Watcher of Weasels linked with Submitted for Your Approval
CATEGORY: Politics

What has happened to the left recently?

I suppose I could ask that question every couple of days but it just seems that of late, the liberals have lost what little sense they had to begin with and have begun to de-evolve right before our eyes. Instead of becoming some souped up version of Lenin’s “New Man” who would be “altruist in spirit, communal in outlook, sacrificial in his labour for the common good,[and] boundless in his fight for world revolution,” what we’ve witnessed the past few days is the devolution of the moonbats into a modern day version of the primordial goop from which all life sprang some 4 billion years ago – a quivering, shivering, shaking, mass of jello-like goo incapable of doing anything save lie there and gurgle impotently.

Of course, this process was made easier by the fact that there is so little in the way of skeletal structure to be found in your average lefty what with their proven lack of spine as well as an absence of rock hard cohones so that their liquefaction proceeded in an accelerated manner until the libs reached their present state of being where they resemble a molded fruit salad.

Witness the “attack” on their allies in the mainstream press. In the last few days, they have jumped on the ample backside of Chrissy Matthews for blurting out the truth about the similarities in message between Osama and Michael Moore. They have whacked poor litle Katie Couric over the head for being less than precise in describing the sins of Jack Abramoff and where his money went. They have leapt down the throat of Matt Lauer for a similar crime. And they really bit the hand that feeds them when they began a nuclear war with the Washington Post over not only daring to mention “Democrats” and “Abramoff” in the same sentence but then they really went to town when the Post blog shut down comments to prevent the prying eyes of children from getting a gander at the colorful use of invective on display. After all, if you’ve seen All the President’s Men you know that the Post is a family newspaper who cut the word “tit” out of story involving Attorney General Mitchell’s suggestion on where Mrs. Graham might want to put her mamalia.

What this shows is that the liberals are very possessive of this Abramoff imbroglio. This is their scandal and anyone who says any differently is going to be tarred and feathered with the absolute worst appellation they can bestow on a target – RIGHTWINGER! It is curious that they actually believe this is an issue that will carry them to the promised land of majority status given that poll after poll shows that the American people think (correctly) that both parties are populated with the greedy, the grubby, and outright thieves who use their Congressional prerogatives to garner favors and fortune from bloodsucking lobbyists.

And we wonder why the American people are so cynical about politics?

Meanwhile, Republicans are trying their best to give their Democratic friends as much help as possible in their quest to take over the House and Senate. By refusing to stand up and be counted for anything except whatever special goody for their back home districts they can wangle from the federal government, the GOP is rapidly losing the respect and support of its political class – that’s us. Disgusted as we all have become with the overspending, the “DeLay” tactics of parliamentary gimmickry, and tired to the marrow of our bones of the pettifogging, grasping, and back room politicking while our country is at war makes being a loyal Republican much more of a chore than it should be.

But it points to a special kind of myopia on the part of the left that despite Republicans eagerly trying their best to alienate supporters, that the Kossacks, the DU’ers, and other denizens of the fever swamps have chosen this time to get possessive about a scandal that has absolutely no chance of doing anything to help them politically. We have a similar situation in the Senate with this forced filibuster of Judge Alito, something I predicted months ago. The fact is that even the mainstream of the party has become so beholden to the radicals of Code Pink, Moveon and the rest that in order to insure their own political survival, they have decided to embark on this quixotic quest to block a nomination supported by a majority of the American people and where they have no chance – no chance whatsoever – of succeeding.

We used to call this stupidity. Now these Don Quixotes are lionized in an orgy of vainglorious rhetoric. John Kerry, who has taken up blogging by posting over at Daily Kos might be excused since he obviously believes he can ride the enthusiasm and deep pockets of the Kossacks to the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. But why should other Democrats follow him over the cliff? The only sensible answer has to do with the enormous pressure placed on Democratic Senators by a hard left base that has captured and tamed the Democratic party. The will lick the boots of Code Pink because they know that having them in opposition would be political suicide.

And so watching the left’s meltdown over this past week could very well be a sign of desperation. The world is not going quite the way that it should and as a result, they have begun to eat their own. It may be feel good politics to try and correct the record every time some blow dried, brainless twit of an anchorperson gets it wrong. But we on the right can tell you from experience that there is not much you can do about mistakes arising from ignorance. And trying to posit the notion that some kind of “conservative bias” is inherent in the media is laughable. Only in the extraordinarily insular world inhabited by liberals can such a meme be taken seriously. Water doesn’t run uphill nor do major media types have a hard on for George Bush.

So instead of fighting, the left is quivering in impotent anger. Quick! Someone get a petrie dish. I want a sample of this stuff so that after the mid term elections, I can plant it and maybe some day it will grow into a normal human being…

Not. A. Chance.

By: Rick Moran at 8:07 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)


It hasn’t been pretty these last few months watching as the Lebanese try to turn their enthusiastic participation in last springs round of parliamentary elections into the nuts and bolts of forging a consensus government. The sectarianism, factionalism, regionalism, and even the national loyalties of the main participants have all contributed to what amounts to a stalemate in efforts to create a stable government based on the popular will of the people.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that none of the principals entered into this process with their eyes closed and most – with a couple of notable exceptions – have maintained a remarkable patience with the process despite provocations from both inside and outside the country.

As it stands now, there are several hurdles to be overcome in order for a united Lebanon to move forward toward building a stable democratic state. Here are just a few of them.


Demonstrating a stupidity that could very well lead to his undoing, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has continued his violent meddling in the internal affairs of his next door neighbor.

Last summer, 2 high profile assassinations and one assassination attempt roiled the country as a prominent anti-Syrian journalist and the long time head of the Lebanese Communist Party were slain and an attempt was made on the life of an outspoken anti-Syrian MP. Both the French and US governments pointed the finger at Syria

Assad is in a tight spot politically. The elites in the civilian government and military are unhappy with him because of Syria’s humiliating exit from Lebanon. Not only that, he has the United Nations breathing down his neck as a special prosecutor attempts to unravel the threads of Syrian involvement in the assassination of Lebanese nationalist Rafiq Hariri. Two developments on that front do not bode well for Assad. First, the old Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, has called for an expansion of the UN probe to include the assassinations and bombings from last summer. This should put even more pressure on Syria to cooperate in the investigation, something that has been noticeably lacking from the highest levels of the government. There is probably a very good reason for this; Syrian complicity in the violence goes all the way to Assad himself.

Second, both the Egyptians and the Saudis are on board with a process that would limit Assad’s meddling in Lebanese affairs and guarantee Lebanese sovereignty. The intervention by these Arab states will probably mean that Assad will have to get serious about cutting ties to his Lebanese surrogates as well as prevent his intelligence service from interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs. The Lebanese also want certain security guarantees to prevent a repeat of Syrian occupation that lasted a quarter of a century.


Last Monday, the new UN special prosecutor in the Hariri assassination probe Serge Brammertz who has taken over for Detlev Mehlis began the task of sifting through the voluminous evidence gathered by his predecessor that implicates high level Syrians as well as several prominent Lebanese in the assassination of the former Prime Minister. In addition, UN Undersecretary General for Legal Affairs, Nicolas Michel is in the country this week to negotiate what form the tribunal will take as well as whether or not its mandate will include more recent assassinations than the February, 2005 killing of Hariri.

There are several sticking points. Some Lebanese factions do not want the expanded mandate while others want the judges to be all Lebanese. There is also the continuing question of Syrian cooperation which has been paltry at best.

At bottom, there is fear. Because smack in the middle of all of this maneuvering are Hizballah and their allies the Amal militia.

Hizballah doesn’t want a tribunal at all or at least one that has any international representation. “The Resistance” as they are known in Lebanon (referring to their war against Israel) would just as soon have the whole issue of an international probe go away. Despite protestations to the contrary, they appear to have dual loyalties to Lebanon and their patrone in Damascus. Assad’s intelligence service supplies Hizballah with arms and funnels money from Iran to the group. That and the Syrian President’s hard line stance against Israel makes Hizballah an extraordinarily difficult group to do business with.


As if to prove that point, Hizballah has engineered a cabinet crisis by walking out and not participating in the last 6 meetings. While not paralyzing the government, it has made the cabinet’s decisions much more difficult and has opened the March 14th Movement (the coalition that banded together last spring to oust the Syrians) to withering criticism from the Shi’ite religious parties.

What does Hizballah want? They would like nothing better than to keep their guns. Along with the Amal militia (and a radical Palestinian faction) Hizballah is resisting pressure from the United States and others that they disarm their militia as required under United Nations Security Council resolution 1559. The impasse over the UN resolution has been exacerbated by Hizballah’s insistence that the Hariri probe be limited and that it not include any international judges.

What is Hizballah’s game? The terrorists are caught between a rock and a hard place. They would like nothing more than to participate fully in the Lebanese government. But in order to do so, they will eventually have to compromise on the issue of their militia. Heroes to many Lebanese especially in the South where Israel continues to defend itself against attacks, Hizballah sees a political trap in giving up its weapons and handing security in that vital area over to the regular Lebanese army. Essentially, the terrorists will lose their power base and be weakened. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizballah’s political arm and spiritual guru has indicated compromise is still possible on the group’s weapons but not much progress has been made.

The Palestinian issue is a different matter especially now that Hamas has emerged victorious. Recently, an incident occurred where two Lebanese soldiers were shot by Palestinian hotheads. This has spurred the cabinet to action and there is a real possibility that the Palestinians will be allowed to keep their arms to patrol the refugee camps but prevented from any armed forays outside the camps. If this occurs, Israel will be mightily displeased given the proximity of the camps to Israeli territory.

Something similar may end up happening with Hizballah. It is the thorniest issue facing the cabinet and no compromise will come easily. And until the outlines of that compromise emerges, it is unlikely that the Hizballah ministers will find their way back to the table.


There are some factions in Lebanese politics that see the United Nations and especially the United States as meddling in the internal affairs of the country. Some of that is based on a fear of what shape the Lebanese government will take – more secular and less bellicose toward Israel. Others are genuinely offended at what they see as the heavy hand of Washington and Paris trying to pressure various factions to compromise.

This week, Saad Hariri, son of the late Prime Minister has very quietly come to Washington to discuss a host of issues with the American government. He met yesterday with Secretary of State Rice and will meet today with President Bush. The lack of international attention was deliberate; young Hariri has not been home to Lebanon in months because he fears for his life. If he is seen cozying up too much to Washington, it would complicate his personal political and security situation enormously.

At a leadership forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Hariri tried to put the best face on some faction’s split loyalty between Syria and Lebanon:

I don’t believe Hezbollah and Amal hold the interests of regional powers over those of Lebanon,” Hariri said when asked whether the two Shiite movements would rock regional stability on behalf of Iran. “There are difficult problems to be solved and discussed, but what was taboo is out in the open.” Though small, Lebanon was the only true democracy in the Arab world, and it had many values other than instability to export to its neighbors, he said.

“He who differs with the principle of putting Lebanon first will put himself at odds with the parliamentary majority,” Hariri told participants in the forum, which was titled “The Future of Democracy in Lebanon.”

Hariri also insisted that the killers of his father be brought to justice – no matter where the investigation led:

“We want the truth, not revenge. We are a people who believe that freedom is the only way of life. If they have not committed a crime, why not cooperate?” he said. “The quicker the process, the quicker this problem can be solved. I’ve always said we will accept any result from the U.N. commission. If it said people from Mars committed this crime, I will accept it. But this crime was not committed by anyone from Mars.”

“We ask for people who committed this crime to be punished,” Hariri said. “If those who did it escape with their crime, then all is lost in the region. If they are found out and punished, this sends a very strong message for the future. They will pay the price no matter who they are and how high they are.”

Hariri may indeed be a target when he returns to his home country. Just as important as his security, however, is his insistence that Lebanon solve its own problems without undue interference from the international community.

The democratic process in Lebanon has barely started. Still to come is an as yet formed council of national dialog that will deal with even thornier issues than those on the table already. Some of these include a new electoral law, the composition of the armed forces, collaborators with the Syrians during the occupation, and a host of other issues that will test both the patience and the patriotism of all the many factions in this emerging democracy.

By: Rick Moran at 9:09 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

CATEGORY: "24", Blogging

Yours truly received a singular honor today. I was nominated over at Polipundit as a Jack Bauer of the Blogosphere!

I can’t tell you what this means to me. I am weeping with joy. I am bursting with pride. I am glowing with satisfaction.

Why do I feel like going out and kicking somebody’s ass?

Actually, the criteria for nomination was quite strict:

1. He’s male. Sorry ladies, but this gun-toting, do-what-a-patriot’s-gotta-do guy is focused testosterone. This ain’t Siegfried and Roy, this ain’t Dr. Phil, and any woman pulling the kind of stuff we see Bauer doing in “24″ would look more like “Xena” than a counter-terrorism agent.

2. He’s decisive. No one who can be connected to a focus group or committee need apply.

3. He’s not PC. Bauer does what is required, and is not subtle about it.

4. Despite being violent a lot, Bauer is not crazy or bloodthirsty. He does what is necessary, but holds his fire, and is willing to let even terrorists live if they surrender. That rules out DU or Daily Kos, even if they could accept being on the same side as Bauer.

And there are six more that are just as tough.

In the end, I lost out to some other guy. Imagine giving the award to that Michael Yon fellow? After all what did he do? Pay his own way to go over to Iraq just to blog? Hell, I can do that from my study…in my pajamas and bathrobe.

Come to think of it…going to Iraq just to blog does sound like something Jack would do.
Seriously, thanks to the guys at Polipundit. Maybe I should hold a “Chloe O’Brien of the Blogosphere” contest. What do you think?

By: Rick Moran at 7:53 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)


Once again, I’ve been remiss in my duties as a member of the Watcher’s Council and not linked the winning entries from a week past.

Since the peasants are now at my door with torches banging away and wanting to get in to tear me to pieces, allow me to rectify my booble before it is too late…

For January 13, the winning Council post was from the Glittering Eye entitled Perspectives on foreign command of U. S. forces. Finishing second was New Sisyphus for Misogyny Day. And coming in third was New World Man for A Little Liberty.

In the non Council category, Patterico came away the winner with Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2005 . In second, we had the incomparable Jeff Golstein in a post that I submitted entitled We love the troops; but it’s a tough love (#144) – UPDATED. And Maxed out Mama came in third with Stuck on Thought.

Here are the winning entries from this past week: The Glittering Eye brought home first again in the Council category with Options on Iran II. AJ Strata at The Strata-Sphere came in second with NY Times Confesses Truth About NSA Leak. My post on MLK Day tied for third with the Education Wonks and The Need to Share the Dawn. And Dr. Sanity and Gates of Vienna tied for 5th with A Campaign For De-Civilization and Identity Politics: Terrorism Is About Woman’s Place respectively.

In the non Council category, the Anchoress won with NY Times Tipped Terrorists? (UPDATED). Liberty and Culture finished second with Bloggers: The Pamphleteers of Today. Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker came in third with Photo Fakery at the New York Times. Coming in Fourth was The Moderate Voice for Iran’s New Threat, the UN and the U.S.. And in Fifth place was The Colossus of Rhodey with Comics and Politics.

If you’d like to participate in the weekly Watcher’s Council vote, go here and follow instructions.

By: Rick Moran at 4:40 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


Sweeping the internet like a nude picture of Paris Hilton, WWJBD (What Would Jack Bauer Do?) has become the question of the hour.

Hamas in charge? WWJBD.
Democrats mouthing impeachment? WWJBD.
Your next door neighbor letting his dog crap on your lawn? WWJBD.

And so forth.

But what do we really know about Jack Bauer? After all, we only met him 4 days ago, hardly enough time to justify bringing him home to meet the folks. We don’t even know where he was born, what his childhood was like, what flavor of ice cream he prefers, or even the answer to the burning question of whether Jack prefers boxers or briefs.

The answer to the last of course is neither – underwear is for pussies.

Since The House is the place to go for all things 24, I took the liberty of using my CTU issued super secret cell phone – the kind that never needs recharging and has “Blowing Up Terrorists” on speed dial – to give Jack a call and get some basic biographical and personal information from him.

Being the super nice guy that he is, Jack was more than obliging and actually opened up a little to yours truly. There were a couple of questions that he wouldn’t answer (and said in so many words that if I pursued the topic further I’d end up in the CTU holding room. Alone. With him.) but otherwise, he proved to be a rather genial chap with something of a sense of humor:

Q: How many terrorists do you need to paint a wall?

Jack: Depends on how hard I throw them.

Heh…I think.

Any rate, here’s everything you always wanted to know about Jack Bauer but were too terrified to ask.

Born: Kill Devil Hill, NC.

Grew Up: Gun Barrel City, TX

Religion: Druid (Reformed)

Favorite Color: Red (duh!)

Favorite Actor: Charles Bronson

Favorite Movie The Great Escape

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Rocky Road

Favorite Gun: Glock 36

Favorite Method of Torture: Kneecapping or electrified probes (Jack couldn’t decide)

Best Day: “Any day that I get to shoot my gun and kill terrorists.”

Worst Day: “You’re kidding, right?”

Fantasy Female: Sandra Bullock

Fantasy Male: (I think his gun just went off accidentally)

Favorite Group: Guns and Roses

Favorite Sport: Target Practice

Favorite Meal: Chop Suey

Favorite Dessert: Chocolate Bombe

Favorite Vacation Spot: Death Valley

Favorite Cartoon Character: Tasmanian Devil

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. I’m sure I’ll be talking to Jack again real soon.


The indefatigable Tom McGuire says “I need a hero.”


Oh Jesus…I’ve really stepped in it now!

I’ve already gotten two emails and a comment about Jack’s “Favorite Gun.” Evidently my ignorance about firearms has gotten my Second Amendment friends in an uproar.

In my defense, I read on some other site that Jack was carrying a Glock so that’s the only reason I put it down. If I ever revisit that site, you can be sure I’ll pull a Jack Bauer on him and give the guy a good drop kick followed by a karate chop to the throat.

By: Rick Moran at 1:49 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)