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It may prove to be the most catastrophic event in the history of human civilization.

Or not.

It may cause massive flooding of coastal cities, ruinous melting of polar ice, the desertification of massive swaths of farmland in the breadbaskets of the world, and the death of billions of people.

Or it may lead to an age of enormous plenty and peak human health unrivaled in the history of man.

The “it,” of course, is global warming. And despite the fact that a fairly robust scientific consensus has emerged, proving that the average temperature of the earth is rising and that this phenomena has been caused by human activity, there remains a dedicated group of scientific outriders who refuse to bow to the will of the majority and instead, fight a rear guard action against the forces of regulation and global cooperation.

There’s much at stake in this debate; the future of man on the planet and the free market system, not to mention the way that science itself is viewed by an ever more skeptical, disbelieving public. This last is actually the crux of the matter because in order for any solutions to the problems of climate change to be implemented, there must be a political consensus to enact the punishing laws and regulations necessary to wean ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels that most global warming advocates point to as the potential cause of climate change.

In the short term, there is a 100% chance of reduced economic activity, loss of jobs, drastic reductions in GDP growth, and what would amount to a massive change in lifestyle for Americans if the advocates get their way. If anyone tells you anything differently, do not listen to them. Many of them were the same soothing voices from the 1970’s who assured us that clean air regulations wouldn’t destroy the steel and coal industries in America. And while there were certainly other factors involved in the massive downsizing of those basic industries – including the utter stupidity of unions and company management – there is also no denying the role played by government regulation in their demise. It is disingenuous of global warming advocates to downplay the consequences of what they are proposing.

There is also no denying the serious strain of anti-capitalist, anti-technology ideology that permeates the non-scientific global warming cheerleading squad of UN bureaucrats, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), Green Party politicians, and ignorant celebrities who agitate for the enactment of global regulations that would put a serious damper on economic growth. For many of these Luddites, global warming is a means to an end. To varying degrees, the belief in the supremacy of the state over the individual and the government’s ability to regulate behavior are at the bottom of their lobbying. In fact, the non-scientific community of global warming enthusiasts believes that our only hope for salvation lies in some kind of super-national governmental entity with the ability to override the will of individual states to make decisions for their own people.

This is where the Kyoto Protocols were heading in the future as the current regime is only the first step. Recognizing this:

[T]he U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98)[, which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”.

It is incorrect to say that Byrd-Hagel was a rejection of the treaty. In fact, Kyoto has never been voted on by the Senate. The reason is contained in that sense of the Senate resolution; India and China are exempt from the requirements of the protocols. There is also an excellent case to be made that Kyoto would result “in serious harm” to our economy.

But it is science that we must turn to in order to discover whether or not the human species is in trouble. And unfortunately, there are not now nor are there likely to be any time soon clear answers on the viability of global warming theories.

In this excellent article that appears in this weekend’s Washington Post Magazine, Joel Achenbach dissects the global warming skeptics community while highlighting the enormous problems that climate modelers have had with predictions:

Let us say a word in praise of uncertainty. It is a concession to an interesting and complicated planet that is full of surprises. The fog of uncertainty surrounding climate change is routinely cited as a reason to wait before making cuts in greenhouse emissions. But if we wait for that fog to break, we’ll wait forever.

Isaac Held, the NOAA climate modeler, is the first to admit that the models aren’t perfect. “Clouds are hard,” he says. The models on his computer screen are incomprehensible to the untrained eye. But Held argues that the models are conservative. For global warming to be less of a problem than is currently anticipated, all the uncertainties would have to break, preferentially, toward the benign side of things.

Moreover, we don’t even know all the things that we don’t know. James Hansen, the prominent NASA scientist, points out that the models don’t realistically include ice sheets and the biosphere—all the plants and animals on Earth. The global climate surely has more surprises for us.

Given the enormous costs that lowering emissions would entail, (estimates range from a low of around $125 billion over the course of a decade to a high of $1.2 trillion during the same period), the question of “waiting for the fog to break” becomes relevant despite what Mr. Achenbach says – especially since much of that “fog” is the result of questionable science; at least in the eyes of the skeptics. Meteorologist Bill Gray, perhaps the leading hurricane expert on the planet:

“I’ve been in meteorology over 50 years. I’ve worked damn hard, and I’ve been around. My feeling is some of us older guys who’ve been around have not been asked about this. It’s sort of a baby boomer, yuppie thing.”

Gray believes in the obs. The observations. Direct measurements. Numerical models can’t be trusted. Equation pushers with fancy computers aren’t the equals of scientists who fly into hurricanes.

“Few people know what I know. I’ve been in the tropics, I’ve flown in airplanes into storms. I’ve done studies of convection, cloud clusters and how the moist process works. I don’t think anybody in the world understands how the atmosphere functions better than me.”

In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again.

Gray isn’t alone. The skeptical community includes some of the leading climate scientists in the world:

In the world of the skeptics you’ll come across Richard Lindzen, an MIT climate scientist who has steadfastly maintained for years that clouds and water vapor will counteract the greenhouse emissions of human beings. You’ll find S. Fred Singer, author of Hot Talk, Cold Science, who points to the positive side of the melting Arctic: “We spent 500 years looking for a Northwest Passage, and now we’ve got one.” You’ll quickly run across Pat Michaels, the University of Virginia climatologist and author of Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media . You might dip into, the online clearinghouse for anti-global-warming punditry. You’ll meet the Cooler Heads Coalition and the Greening Earth Society.

The skeptics point to the global temperature graph for the past century. Notice how, after rising steadily in the early 20th century, in 1940 the temperature suddenly levels off. No—it goes down! For the next 35 years! If the planet is getting steadily warmer due to Industrial Age greenhouse gases, why did it get cooler when industries began belching out carbon dioxide at full tilt at the start of World War II?

The scientific advocates for climate change respond with a barrage of their own:

Some of the anomalies cited by the skeptics go away over time. Remember that graph showing the world’s temperature leveling off and actually cooling from 1940 to 1975, even as the industrial economies of the planet were going full blast? The mainstream climate scientists think one factor may have been air pollution—aerosols pumped out by smokestacks, dimming sunlight before it reached the surface. In the early 1970s, governments passed air pollution controls, such as the Clean Air Act, that required scrubbers on smokestacks. The skies cleared. And the temperature has been racing upward ever since.

What about the Medieval Warm Period? If human industry causes warming, why were the Vikings sailing around the North Atlantic to godforsaken places like Greenland and setting up farming communities 1,000 years ago? Many scientists answer that the Medieval Warm Period wasn’t a global phenomenon. You can’t draw global conclusions from the experience of the North Atlantic.

And it goes on. In the meantime, what are politically aware but scientifically challenged lay people like you and me to do?

It would be great if we had the scientific acumen to dissect the various theories and climate models that purport to prove that a catastrophe is on the way. But most of us don’t. This does not mean, that we should wallow in our ignorance and spout inanities about what Al Gore said or what the latest global warming debunking evidence shows. For myself, and I believe a growing number of people, our agnosticism on global warming is indicative of our suspicion regarding the confluence of science and politics – an incendiary mixture to be sure. Both sides feature advocates who are using the controversy over global warming to advance a political point of view. The danger is obvious; either the politics of global warming will swamp our economies in an unnecessary regulatory briar patch of emission reductions and an infringement on personal liberty or we will sleepwalk our way to disaster.

Is there a way to take the politics out of the global warming debate? Surely, not in any realistic sense. But there has to be a way to lower the volume and keep the debate from descending into personal invective and partisan hackery. Given the stakes, there really isn’t any alternative, is there?

UPDATE: 5/28

Matt Stoller: Certifiable Idiot:

Al Gore is now leading a different conversation, on global warming, and that’s the conversation we’re going to start having. The first salvo is his movie. The second salvo, before we can talk solutions, is to make it very clear that accepting industry spam on global warming is not going to cut it. It’s time to put people on the record. Since Congressional Republicans won’t act, we will. The Roots Project is going to work to have a resolution introduced into Congress that says that global warming is man-made and that the the scientific consensus behind it is real. That’s it. The resolution will call for no actions. The only purpose is to put global warming on the national agenda, to make it a voting issue in 2006.

Stoller, like Gore, is less interested in Global Warming as a process or a problem and more as a political issue to bash Republicans with.

And it’s obvious he didn’t read Achenbach’s article very closely. If he did, he would’ve seen that most of the “industry” (which, he doesn’t bother to identify) is in fact all greened up and on board the Global Warming gravy train. To dismiss the critiques of scientists like Gray and Lindzen who’ve never taken a corporate dollar in their lives as “industry paid liars” is breathtaking ignorance of the issue. But then, Stoller is not interested in the issue except as a political club – which makes him more dangerous than any industry spokesman could possible dream of being.

By: Rick Moran at 8:31 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (21)

Watcher of Weasels linked with The Council Has Spoken!
The Glittering Eye linked with Eye on the Watcher’s Council
CATEGORY: Blogging, General

Given that my common law relations have been delayed a few hours (sparing yours truly the frightening prospect of having to interact with human beings less than 4 feet tall and of considerably less advanced years than me), here are a few more tidbits from my web journeys this morning.


Leave it to R. Emmett Tyrell to do a real, first class deconstruction of Jimmy Carter. Giving him the J. Gordon Coogler Award for the worst book written in 2005, Tyrell slices, dices, and barbecues the ex-President as only he can:

Jimmy has actually published 20 books now. Probably he should have been made Coogler Laureate 20 times. The problem is, so vain is this insufferable huckster and so desperate has he become for notice that, as his presidency attracts ever more flies in history’s dustbin, he is increasingly likely to show up at our Coogler Awards ceremony—whether invited or not. There he would stand, clutching his Coogler to his bosom and sermonizing until the janitors turned out the lights. Worse, he might bring Rosalynn, an author in her own right.

Jimmy was the worst president in American history and, in personal terms, the most repellent. That last statement would have been implausible a year or so after he vacated the White House. Today, however, after a quarter-century of caddish behavior toward his successors, it is perfectly acceptable. His public criticisms of sitting presidents have been insulting and usually dishonest. He has oozed vitriol against America even while he was strutting on foreign soil. Before him no president criticized his government from foreign soil. Jimmy has repeatedly broken that rule.

In fact, no prior president has spoken as rudely and dishonestly of his successors or of his country as has Jimmy. The acerbic Harry Truman came to loathe President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In public, however, Harry minded his tongue.

Jimmy’s presidential achievements were even more modest than those of Bill Clinton and of Gerald Ford, and his blunders on domestic and foreign policy are unsurpassed and possibly unsurpassable. What is more he writes bad books.

Read the entire, hysterical piece.


Lori Byrd (blogging from her swanky new digs at Wizbang) is asking for links that highlight what Memorial Day should be all about. I will have a post Monday with some thoughts, but please go to Wizbang and leave a link to a news story or a blog post that you find particularly relevant.


It appears that the bipartisan net neutrality coalition is making an impact.

The broad, nonpartisan movement for Internet freedom notched a major victory today, when a bipartisan majority of the House Judiciary Committee passed the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006″ — a bill that offers meaningful protections for Network Neutrality, “the First Amendment of the Internet.”

20 members of the Committee (6 Republicans and 14 Democrats) voted for the bipartisan Bill, and only 13 against.

This legislation has the support of many conservatives and liberals and is designed to keep large Telecoms from imposing a “two tiered” internet on the rest of us. For information on what this legislation does, go to Save The Internet.Com and read about it.


Without a doubt, the smartest feline on the internet is Ferdy the Cat. As a guardian of internet behavior, Ferdy celebrates the takedown of hackers and spammers wherever they ply their execrable trade.

This news story is something I would like to see more often. I want to see hackers getting arrested and spending long years in jail. I want to see these jail terms publicly announced over and over again. Every hacker should be seen as a disgusting little felon instead of a romantic warrior against The System.

Thank you for listening to this important message. We will resume our usual light-hearted fare as soon as Bruce finishes trying to get the new web development software at work to operate properly within the guidelines of the lab’s security system.

Sounds like Bruce is going to be busy for a while…

Ferdy will probably be doing a cat dance when he hears of this.


What about the big fight all the netnuts were promising over this nomination?

At his confirmation hearing, Hayden sought to assure lawmakers he would be independent from his military superiors but said he would consider how his uniform affects his relationship with CIA personnel. If it were to get in the way, he said, “I’ll make the right decision.”

Hayden, who headed the National Security Agency for several years, became a lightning rod for the debate about the Bush administration’s domestic eavesdropping program. Some Democrats and civil-liberties advocates argue the monitoring was illegal.

As head of the NSA from 1999 to 2005, Hayden oversaw the program. His defenders say he was relying on the advice of top government lawyers.

Hayden was confirmed by a vote of 78-15. And this points up the utter vacuousness of the left’s critique of all the NSA “surveillance” programs – the Democrats themselves are not saying that the programs are illegal and with very few exceptions, are not calling for these program’s termination.

Having said that, I have my own questions about how these programs have been run and I believe it would be in the interest of civil liberties if a full briefing on how these programs operate be given to the full House and Senate Intelligence Committees. I also am worried about proper oversight.

But to say the programs are, on their face, illegal is just plain stupid. Just another outgrowth of Bush Derangement Syndrome…


His Highness has been “tagged” and the questions he is forced to answer are revealing the pussycat beneath the warlike exterior:

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?

Now, let’s be logical here: If I’m asleep, why would I care? That being said, it’s so much more fun going to bed knowing that there’s somebody you can make utterly miserable with your loud snoring.

13. Who was your first love?

A lovely, sweet little Korean girl that I had the worst crush on in 2nd grade. She must have loved me too. She didn’t slap me, call me a “pervert” or kick me in the groin, not once. Unfortunately, those were only three things on a rather long list of things that she most pointedly didn’t do.

19. What’s the one thing on your mind?

Avoiding ever reaching the point in my life where I have only one thing on my mind.


I’m not sure if this is something to worry about or if it’s just common courtesy:

(b) CONSULTATION REQUIREMENT.—Consultations between United States and Mexican authorities at the federal, state, and local levels concerning the construction of additional fencing and related border security structures along the United States-Mexico border shall be undertaken prior to commencing any new construction, in order to solicit the views of affected communities, lessen tensions and foster greater understanding and stronger cooperation on this and other important issues of mutual concern.

If this is indeed “consultation” I don’t think we have anything to worry about. However, given this Administration’s curious rollovers when it comes to pleasing Vicente Fox, I would follow any “consultations” like a hawk.


Former FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith is raising additional warnings about blog regulation:

Now a contributor at RedState, Smith pointed readers to a new article that included what he saw as a foreboding quote from Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine.

Allen “co-sponsored legislation in March that would bring political Web sites under campaign finance rules if they spend $5,000 or more on their operations,” the paper wrote. “He said he would watch how blogs factor into the 2006 races under the FEC rules before deciding whether to press the issue.”

Smith’s reaction: “We need to understand that these guys are relentlessly hostile to free, unfettered political speech. Every bit of freedom they see as a potential threat, and they are always ready to regulate as soon as they think the have the votes.”

Given John McCain’s recent comments made about bloggers at The New School commencement where he accused us of being little better than ideological hit beasts, I think we should take Mr. Smith’s warnings to heart. Once McCain’s candidacy gets underway, he knows that he will be skewered on a daily basis by conservatives and may seek to forestall criticism by putting some bloggers out of business.


I find myself in almost total agreement with the Commissar here:

I’m not sure what to make of the global warming debate. With the release of algore’s “Inconvenient Truths,” the discussion is front-and-center again. On the one side the many scientists and politicians who warn that human activities (CO2 emissions, for example) have added to global warming, that it is worsening, and that we must take steps to alleviate it; these are the “advocates.” On the other side — the skeptics, the rebutters.

The complex forecasting models used are beyond my understanding. About the only way for me to make sense of this debate is to look at the competing claims of the different sides, and see which seems more compelling, more objective.

So much of the information we get seems to be agenda driven – by both sides. I read Scientific American a lot because at least they give both sides a fair hearing. But read all of the Commissar’s post for some truly thoughtful analysis.


Frontpage has an interesting colloquy between three “experts” who are convinced that IRAQ’s WMD was spirited off to Syria by Russian Spetznatz troops prior to the invasion:

Just recently, Saddam Hussein’s former southern regional commander, Gen. Al-Tikriti, gave the first videotaped testimony confirming that Iraq had WMDs up to the American invasion in 2003 and that Russia helped removed them prior to the war. His testimony confirms numerous other sources that have pointed to Russia’s secret alliance with Iraq and the co-ordinated moving of WMDs before the American liberation. Today we’ve invited three experts on this subject to discuss the details of Al-Tikriti’s testimony and its larger significance.

Color me unconvinced, although I would love to know what Russia was moving to Syria (and Lebanon) prior to the war. The preponderance of evidence to date suggests that Saddam was fooled into believing he had WMD when he didn’t. Until something a little more substantial emerges to counter that argument, I will remain a reluctant skeptic.


Rusty Shackleford has a superior piece about plans being made by al Qaeda for the long term conflict with the west:

At some point, al Qaeda realizes, it is not enough to simply weaken the will of the enemy. Readers should remember that the goal of terrorists is not to “terrorize”. Terrorism is a method, not a goal. Al Qaeda’s goal is the same goal as the Council on American Islamic Relations or the Muslim American Society—the imposition of Sharia law and the eventual restoration of the global Caliphate. What separates CAIR and MAS from al Qaeda is not the goal, but only the means to achieve it.

Read the whole thing.

Finally, many thanks to John Hawkins at Right Wing News for making The House “Website of the Day” yesterday.

By: Rick Moran at 10:30 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

NFL Sports Picks linked with NFL Sports Picks
Mensa Barbie Welcomes You linked with Memorial Day: VIDEO- Remembrance
The Sandbox linked with General Hayden Confirmed
CATEGORY: Blogging, General

With Zsu-Zsu’s kids and grandkids coming in this weekend, blogging will be intermittent, sparse, and probably incoherent. Or should I say, more so than usual…

Until next time, here are a few items that ordinarily I would have penned 1000 word screed on but don’t have the time to give them the justice they deserve:


Who says identity politics is ruining America?

It seems that The Da Vinci Code cannot not offend everyone on the planet; this time, it’s the albino community that is angry with the movie for depicting albinos as evil villians. Michael McGowan, the head of the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, had asked the movie’s production people not to bleach Silas the albino monk’s hair or make his eyes red, but to no avail.

These guys ought to get in touch the CAIR for instruction in how to browbeat a major media company. And they definitely should take some lessons in how to practice the old grievance and guilt routine. They also need a little instruction in media relations as well as spokesperson identification. The trick is not to sound like you’re whining, just hurt and disappointed.

I have complete confidence that the Albino community will eventually “get it” and will join the ranks of aggrieved and suffering minorities very soon.


And we all wondered why Bush never apologized for anything:

The significance of this shouldn’t go unnoticed. Bush has now admitted what the progressive blog community has said all along: Bush’s tough talk was wrongheaded and cost lives.

While contrition may be a media policy that works with our lapdog press (and judging from CNN’s first blush of commentary, it seems to be getting the desired result), America must now ask what this admission means. Does Bush take responsibility for the deaths generated by his admitted mistake? Does he accept the logical conclusion that his bluster resulted in the killing and maiming of hundreds if not thousands of US troops?

Considering that much of the insurgency was planned before Bush even took office, this is an interesting construct. Is the gentleman saying that Bush’s “bluster” killed Americans?


In fact, since it seems clear that we are now settling on giving out responsibility for mistakes in Iraq, perhaps it is time for the left TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR PROLONGING THE CONFLICT BY GIVING THE INSURGENTS HOPE THAT THE LEFT’S AGITATION FOR CUTTING AND RUNNING FROM IRAQ WOULD HAND THE SUNNIS A VICTORY!

Somehow, I don’t think that Peter is quite willing to go that far, do you?


I think I’ll just let this stand with no comment:

In an interview with GQ magazine, the reporter asked him: “Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber – if there were no other casualties – be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?”

Mr Galloway replied: “Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it – but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq – as Blair did.”

On second thought, this really does deserve some kind of response, although for the life of me, I can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t begin with a string of expletives and end with a call for Mr. Gallaway’s being in the dock for treason.

But I better not – too many liberals would take me to task for criticizing the bloke and that “speaking truth to power” like this is protected speech and therefore, perfectly righteous. A touch “over the top” perhaps, but that can be excused because George is…so, well passionate!

In other words, his heart is in the right place…


This news from my Chicago Tribune this morning is not unexpected. The House will engage in a “free flowing debate” on the Iraq War over the coming weeks.

The purpose is not to elicit support for the war. It will be to allow vulnerable Republicans the chance to jump ship:

The decision to hold a public debate on an issue that has sent President Bush’s approval ratings tumbling and put Democrats within striking distance of recapturing the House reflects the growing pressure facing Republicans from bad news about the war. GOP leaders hope the forum will give their endangered incumbents a chance to distance themselves from the war, argue that it is going better than most recognize, or both.

Wars and other military conflicts have long triggered sharp emotions in Congress, imperiling political careers and prompting public despondency as well as enthusiasm. With the winding down of the Vietnam War and revelations about the Watergate scandal, voters swept in a new freshman class with 92 members in 1974, roiling the usually staid House with an influx of largely liberal members.

Iraq is at a critical juncture. The next six months will see the new government trying for the first time to get a grip on the security situation. This is an extraordinarily complex task given the players involved and the stakes.

They must not only rely on the police and the military to fight the insurgency, they must also negotiate with the various sectarian militias who have infiltrated the police (heavily in some parts of the country) and army (not as much). They must also work to rid the corruption and graft from the ministries, establish themselves in the Arab world, and try and build confidence in the people in democratic institutions that will truly unite the country under one, central government.

And the Iraqis must do all of this just as we begin to draw down our forces. It is a challenge that would tax the abilities of even established states and I consider it a less than even chance that the new government will be up to the task without considerable American help.

But that help will not be forthcoming if Congress has any say in the matter. These debates will show the true depth to which Republican incumbents will sink as they try and split hairs about where they stand on the war and what the President must do for their continued support.

It will not be a pretty sight, I assure you.

By: Rick Moran at 6:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

The Sandbox linked with George Galloway Has Lost It

Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame first baseman Ernie Banks, beloved icon in the city, had an infectious love of the game of baseball. His favorite saying – “Let’s play two” – as in, an enthusiastic wish to play a doubleheader every day, earned him the sobriquet “Mr. Cub.”

I don’t have quite the same enthusiasm for the Watchers Council, but being one week behind in my postings, there’s a “Let’s play two” edition of the results.

Week of May 12th:

Council Results

1. White House Rules by Done with Mirrors.

2. CDS - Christianity Derangement Syndrome by Dr. Sanity.

Non Council

1. Republicans and the Flight of Opportunity by Cato Unbound

2. Recalling the Twelfth Imam by Confederate Yankee

3. The War We Are Fighting Needs a More Accurate Name by

Week of May 19th

Council Winners

1. Public Virtue by Done with Mirrors

2. Conservative Fatigue Syndrome by Shrinkwrapped

Non Council

1. You Dissin my God by Vox Poplar

If you’d like to participate in the weekly Watchers Vote, go here and follow instructions.

By: Rick Moran at 8:01 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


As Jack Bauer sails away to an uncertain future aboard the proverbial slow boat to China, I thought I’d take a few lines to sum up this past season and give some final thoughts about Jack, the show, and the United States of America.

Yes, I sometimes take the show and Jack Bauer way too seriously. After all, how much importance should you attach to a television program watched by at most, 5% of the population of the country (ratings showed about 13.5 million viewers per week, up 14% from last year)?

But I suspect a breakdown of those 13.5 million would show a large percentage of politically aware people in the mix, what some refer to as “the political class” in America. And that’s because much more than NBC’s West Wing or ABC’s Hillary-in-Waiting Commander in Chief, Fox’s 24 creates a universe that while unbelievable in many respects, gives us permission to indulge some of our fears about the threat facing the United States while at the same time presenting us with characters that are a fascinating mix of good and bad, noble and ignoble. Ultimately, we hope that most of the people portrayed on our side are actually on guard, protecting us in some way. And this is because the dedication and loyalty displayed by the characters to each other and the United States is very comforting in these uncertain times.

As with any story – whether told around a campfire or beamed by satellite to millions – it is the characters who draw us in, hold our attention, and determine our level of interest. In the case of 24, the added attraction of a real time experience forces us to live the entire day in the program’s universe, standing next to Jack as he tortures a suspect or sitting with the President, listening while he sells his office and the country down the river. In this way, we internalize the characters and adopt them as our own. We can identify with the dilemma of an Audrey or the decision that Jack has to make about letting a terrorist go because we so completely understand them.

This is the addictive part of the show – living a life vicariously through someone else. Good novelists can do it. Television programs accomplish the feat much less frequently. Much of the credit should go to the creative team of Joel Surnow and Howard Gordon who are faithful to the parameters of the universe they create (with obvious and sometimes unintentionally comical exceptions) while at the same time, delivering a first-rate, technically brilliant production. The writing, editing, design, and photography are the best of any drama on television. The special effects are superb and horrifically expensive for a weekly television series. By not being cheap in its design or FX, 24 treats its fans with a respect often lacking in other action TV dramas.

The show this past year seemed to shrink a little bit, becoming more personal for Jack as the war on terror claimed his closest and only friends (Chloe is a co-worker. I somehow can’t see Jack going out for a beer with her after work, can you?). Less bloody than in years past, there were two points that I thought the character of Jack Bauer changed forever and where his relationship with CTU and the US government may become problematic.

The shooting of the actual assassin of David Palmer in cold blood was shocking to me. If he had done anything similar in past years, it didn’t register. There was no reluctance, no hesitation. He could have been putting a bullet in an injured buck for all the emotion he showed in killing him. I got a similar reaction to his execution of Henderson, although admittedly, the feeling that old Buckaroo had it coming to him was also present. But it seemed that with those two murders – and there is no getting around it, that’s what they were – Jack has crossed a line and there’s no turning back. Can he really be any use to CTU and the United States in any official capacity any longer? My prediction is that Jack is going black from here on out and that any help he gets from the government will be off the books.

This should isolate him even more than he already is which, given his personal relationships with Audrey and his daughter, is probably just as well. They are both better off without him. Wherever Bauer goes, pain, death, and chaos follow. Anyone unfortunate enough to know him well is bound to be desperately unhappy.

This isolation will make Jack an even more attractive character. Thanks to Kiefer Sutherland’s excellent portrayal, most people feel fairly protective of Jack. They want to help him. And given that he seems to be such a nice fellow (at least on days where the United States is not about to be destroyed), we want to feel close to him too.

I imagine the show will begin next season in an unexpected place, perhaps Jack arriving back on American soil after being exchanged for a Chi-com spy, with more terrorists to deal with probably assisted by more American traitors. Remember, Mr. Big (Graham) is still out there with his compatriots and his spidery tentacles spread out all over government. The series could have Jack continue his quest for revenge very easily. Whatever Surnow and Gordon have in store for Jack, we can be sure it will be exciting.

Thanks to all of you for visiting this year. I hope you come back often for coverage of the election in November as well as other stories that you might not see on other sites. But if your tastes lie elsewhere, Season 6 starts in January of 2007 and I fully expect to be writing about it again.

By: Rick Moran at 1:09 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

Pajamas Media linked with All-Wing NutHouse
CATEGORY: Politics


It’s the old Washington two-step; when under investigation, change the subject.

This may have been the case yesterday as it has been revealed that House Speaker Dennis Hastert is “in the mix” of Congressmen being investigated by the Justice Department for possible illegalities connected with the Jack Abramoff case:

Despite a flat denial from the Department of Justice, federal law enforcement sources tonight said ABC News accurately reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is “in the mix” in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress.

Speaker Hastert said tonight the story was “absolutely untrue” and has demanded ABC News retract its story.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff’s information.

“You guys wrote the story very carefully but they are not reading it very carefully,” a senior official said.

This news comes on the heels of protests yesterday by Hastert and other House members regarding the legal search carried out by the FBI of Congressman William Jefferson’s Capitol Hill offices in connection with a bribery investigation. The novel legal position taken by our upstanding Representatives is that the law does not apply to them due to the sacrosanct nature of the Capitol building and how the separation of powers doctrine prevents the executive branch from enforcing the law.

One would agree with the House member’s position if we lived in medieval Europe and Jefferson had set up his bribery operation in a church. Their bleats for sanctuary could then be adjudicated by the Pope rather than the courts, which is where this issue will end up. However, the American people may have a little different take on the matter; such as wondering how many freezers in how many offices may, like Jefferson’s home, contain wrapped bundles of of tens of thousands of dollars in $100 bills.

But that’s an entirely different issue than what is happening with Hastert. Apparently, the Congressman engaged in a time honored tradition involving Capitol Hill horse trading with lobbyists:

One focus involves a letter Hastert wrote in 2003 urging the Secretary of the Interior to block an Indian casino that would have competed with tribes represented by Abramoff.

The letter was written within days of a fund-raiser held for Hastert at Abramoff’s restaurant in Washington. Federal campaign records show more than $26,000 was raised at the time from Abramoff and his clients.

Hastert has denied doing anything unlawful and says he has a long history of opposing certain types of Indian casinos.

Hastert is correct. It is perfectly legal to be bribed in this manner. As long as the fig leaf can be maintained that there is no direct evidence of a quid pro quo, the Congressman can make laughable statements like he has a “long history” of opposing certain types of Indian casinos. No doubt true, although it might be interesting to check and see if any of those tribes he opposed raised any money for his political campaigns.

This raises the age old argument about lobbyists and money: Do representatives receive campaign contributions because of their positions on the issues or do they take positions on issues as a result of campaign contributions?

This is not an inconsequential question. Just ask Denny Hastert. The difference may well be the only thing standing between him and jail time. Because if it can be proven that Abramoff raised the $26,000 in exchange for Hastert’s intervention (and how many 5 year olds believe that this was not the case) then what Hastert did varies little from what Duke Cunningham did; trading votes and influence for cash. Whether he got the cash to put in his campaign war chest or for his personal use is beside the point – at least as far as the law is concerned.

If however, Hastert is able to show that indeed, his legislative history on the matter of Indian casinos is consistent with or without Abramoff’s largess, he is probably in the clear. Of course, it doesn’t change the morality of the situation one iota. The practice is widespread according to Common Cause and is extraordinarily difficult to regulate given the expectations of lobbyists and lawmakers in this dance of money and politics.

I can’t imagine that Hastert was stupid enough to run afoul of the law in this case so expect the Speaker to walk away clean. Or, at least as clean as any Congressman can be these days where the confluence of big money and high powered lobbyists join to tempt even the most upstanding of our legislators.


Dan Riehl has a rundown of ABC’s problems with truth telling as well as some facts on what happened when Hastert actually sent the letter to Interior on behalf of Abramoff’s client – in short, nothing. The casino deal Abramoff wanted killed went forward despite the intervention by Hastert and others including Harry Reid.

While Dan is correct in pointing out that this is an old story and that ABC fails to mention this (as well as the involvement of Democrats in sending the letter), this would be non-germane to the question of whether or not Hastert was induced to send the letter in the first place as a result of campaign contributions raised by Abramoff. It is this tit for tat that Justice is looking into, buttressed by new information from Abramoff himself who is now singing as a result of his plea deal with prosecutors.

As I said, however, unless Hastert was incredibly stupid about leaving a paper trail leading directly back to Abramoff’s request, he is probably in the clear.

Michelle Malkin has the link round-up including this from Bob Owen:

Ross provided an initial report with carefully constructed sentences that are phrased in such a way that even the best of minds inferred that Hastert is most likely the target of the investigation.

Bravo, Mr. Ross. Very well played.

Semantics aside, it appears that Ross (who Allah points out “broke” the story last week that the FBI was “tracking” the calls of reporters) has exaggerated an old story and recycled old news for the purposes of garnering cheap headlines.

But what of his source? Is it beyond the realm of imagining that the “leak” occurred at this particular moment to put pressure on Hastert in some way?

Stay tuned…


ABC’s Brian Ross should be fired:

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is demanding a full retraction from ABC NEWS after it led its WORLD NEWS TONIGHT broadcast with a report that claimed he was being investigated for “bribery.”

Deputy Attorney General McNulty explained: “With Regard to reports that the Speaker of the House is under investigation or ‘in the mix,’ as stated by ABC News, I reconfirm, as stated by the Department earlier this evening, that these reports are untrue.”

ABC claimed the Hastert turn was a “major development” and possible “political earthquake.”

The only earthquake should be taking place at ABC News headquarters right about now. And slipping into one of the fissures and disappearing forever should be correspondent Brian Ross, who “broke” this story late yesterday afternoon on the ABC blog The Blotter.

Couple this episode with his wild exaggerations about the FBI leak investigation “tracking” the phone calls of ABC news correspondents and his attempt to tie that information disingenuously into the NSA telephone program (the two were entirely separate and unrelated) and you have what should be grounds for kicking Ross off the ABC blog and perhaps even terminating his employment outright.

I am embarassed to have carried the story – not Hastert’s shenanigans with Abramoff but rather the ABC News contention that Hastert is under investigation at all, in any way, for what was apparently a perfectly legal (yet still immoral in my opinion) practice.

I apologize to Representative Hastert and my readers who should expect better from me.


This makes me want to vomit:

The widening FBI investigation of congressional corruption is being fueled by two convicted Washington insiders, who federal officials and defense lawyers say are telling the FBI “anything they want to know.”


As for Abramoff, federal law enforcement officials say he has spent “hours and hours” with FBI agents detailing his relationships with dozens of members of Congress.

“What we’re going to do now is figure out if what Jack told us is the case,” said one official.

Federal law enforcement sources told ABC News Wednesday that Abramoff has been questioned about his relationship with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

“He is very much in the mix,” a federal law enforcement official told ABC News about Hastert. The official said Hastert is not considered a formal “subject” or “target” at this time.

Since our report, the Justice Department has twice denied that Hastert is under investigation or “in the mix.”

Get it? By writing right up front that Abramoff is cooperating with the feds by “telling the FBI anything they want to know,” Ross is letting himself and ABC off the hook by saying “Hey! It’s not our fault that we’re reporting Abramoff’s lies. Our source is bad.”

And they’re still sort of standing by their story, by the way.

By: Rick Moran at 6:26 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

Pro Cynic linked with The GOP is in full meltdown

For more than 60 years, the United States Armed Forces have made freedom in the western world possible. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have patrolled, monitored, guarded, and fought and died so that the interests of the United States and the freedoms enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people in Europe and elsewhere are protected.

Anyone who believes any differently has the blessed luxury of never being vouchsafed the opportunity to be proved wrong.

I actually wish sometimes that people like this insufferable lout would have had such an opportunity. For contained in this piece by the Times Online’s Martin Samuel is all the snide, superior, self-important, simpering, self-indulgent CRAP that we’ve been hearing from the European left almost since the sound of Nazi jackboots stopped echoing down the cobblestone streets of Mitteleuropa.

Never recognizing an enemy in the Soviet Union, the European left and their American cousins (who were more than eager to copy their more fashionable relations in denouncing their own country) always had the safest perch on the planet from which to pontificate and lecture America regarding her wayward course. Shielded by both American arms and the tolerance of their own governments for dissent, the titanic irony inherent in the left’s critiques of American foreign policy completely escapes them. They are so full of themselves and their utter, self-congratulatory goodness not to mention being blinded by the light of personal moral truth, that the very thought of even needing protection from anything never enters their minds.

And so, we must shine the light of day on writings from Mr. Samuel and other leftist scum so that their hubris and willful self-delusions can be seen for what they are; birdcage lining.

Writing about the inspiring story of a new warship being built using the steel salvaged from the wreckage of the twin towers, Samuel reminds us why it is sometimes amusing to fantasize about a world with no America where people like this useless git of a man would be exposed to the cruelty and capriciousness of the various nation states who have sought to enslave him and his fellows for almost 100 years:

On August 28, 2002, Mr Pataki’s wish was granted with the result that 24 tons of steel from the stricken buildings was taken to New Orleans and put to use by Northrop Grumman Systems in the construction of an amphibious assault ship that should be ready next year. In this way, the 2,800 souls that perished as an indirect result of an interventionist foreign policy that achieved the exact opposite of its stated aims can be honoured by a vessel built to ensure that this flawed cycle of violence continues. The USS New York will carry 360 soldiers and 700 combat-ready Marines. It puts to sea with the motto: “Never forget.” Except they do. They always do.

No sooner had work begun on the New York when the Secretary of the Navy announced that sister ships were to be built called the USS Arlington, after the Pentagon site that was hit by terrorists, and the USS Somerset, the Pennsylvania county in which Flight 93 came down. The ships would commemorate the attacks, if that is the right word, which it is plainly not. Exactly what is being commemorated anyway? Not the memory of the victims, as nothing is known of how they want to be remembered, and certainly not whether they would wish a warship to be dedicated in their name. Who knows in which direction their anger would be channelled? It could be that some of the dead might have thought over-reliance on warships was their downfall in the first place.

First, as to the “memory of the victims” and what they would think of a ship constructed of pieces from the twin towers, let’s ask a few of the families:

For Patrick Cartier Sr., the ship is an honorable way to remember his son, James Marcel Cartier, who was killed when the South Tower collapsed.

“You’ve got the very soul of the event in that mangled steel, and all of that steel which housed all the people fell along with them and they were all consumed in that terrible fireball and that collapse,” the New York City man said.

Using the steel for the new ship would capture the spiritual essence of those who died in the World Trade Center, Cartier said.

“If you would you use that steel, it would almost be a resurrection,” he said.

New York City firefighter Bill Butler also praised turning the steel from the World Trade Center into a fighting vessel.

“It’s a great testament to the strong will of the people who died that day,” said Butler, who was in the North Tower when it collapsed.

A “resurrection” indeed. One would think that many of the survivors of that horrible day would wish that the remains of their loved ones, which due to the heat and pressure of the collapse have been fused and made one with that very same steel, would deeply appreciate the significance of constructing a ship made to fight a war to make sure that such an event doesn’t happen again.

Not surprisingly, this sentiment escapes the clueless Mr. Samuel and instead, we’re treated to a laughable recitation of leftist canards about American foreign policy:

The respected columnist Roger Cohen, writing in The New York Times, identified just 14 years since 1945 when America had not been at war, in some form or other, either metaphorical (the Cold War, the War on Terror) or literal (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq). Some might think the two states do not compare. Then again, some of us have never tried to form a left-wing government in Chile, appeared before the Senate Permanent Investigations Sub-Committee led by Senator Joe McCarthy or been instructed to form a naked pyramid by a gap-toothed cracker with a semi-automatic weapon and a weird girlfriend.

Some aspects of metaphorical wars turn out very real for certain people. They have a habit of becoming tangible for the rest of us, too. The Cold War became a very hot one in Asia. The War on Terror unleashed the invasion of Iraq. And while USS New York may currently be serving metaphorically as a symbol of American indefatigability and courage, it will one day be engaged in a genuine sense in the propagation of a foreign policy that continues to contribute to recycled violence, from continent to continent, with New York office workers the occasional collateral damage. To turn the rubble they left behind into the machinery for the next big mistake shows an ignorance of cause and effect that explains why some still believe George Bush and Tony Blair were right about the war, but wrong about the peace; as if the two can be separated. Our mistake was that we didn’t have an exit strategy, they say. Makes the entrance a pretty dumb-ass move, then, doesn’t it, Sparky?

Everyone who “still believe[s] George Bush and Tony Blair were right about the war, but wrong about the peace” please raise your hands. Anyone? Buehler? Buehler? And of course, the next canard being “Our mistake was that we didn’t have an exit strategy, they say,” evokes more cricket chirping if one were to ask for a vote on who in their right mind ever said or even contemplated saying such a thing.

That’s not even a strawman that anyone can knock down, it’s an invisible man. And the confidence shown by Samuel that that the “next big mistake” will happen as a result of these other mistakes that were never made because they exist only in his fevered imagination makes for some real cramping of the Cerebral Cortex when trying to ascertain just what the heck he’s trying to say. I guess it gave him a chance to use the phrase “dumb-ass” (hyphented, of course) in the staid and august Times, perhaps even a first.

As for the rest of Samuel’s morally relativistic rant, it is the exact same foofooraw Americans have been listening to from our intellectual superiors in Europe for more than 50 years. There’s a recording somewhere, I’m sure, that these lickspittles listen to several times a week that sings the same tune about America and the “cycle of violence” and Allende (a thug who admired that other leading light of illiberality Fidel Castro), and Joe McCarthy’s mean spirited yet frighteningly spot on anti-Communist crusade that was sung by their older brothers, fathers, and grandfathers. I see that Samuel has added something new to the old song by throwing Abu Ghraib up in our faces. Good thing we don’t delve too deeply into the colonial history of his country. They had some torture parties in India and Africa that made Abu Ghraib look like fraternity hazing.

Samuel belittles the way workers at the shipyard handled the steel from the towers while positing the outlandish notion that a vessel built to replace other, more obsolete vessels, somehow is an indication that our force posture is, by definition, aggressive and hostile:

Since the September 11 attacks, the familiar argument is that the West did not start this war, but is determined to finish it. Yet the USS New York with its 700 combat-ready Marines was already on the drawing board before the World Trade Centre was hit, in all but name. Had the towers not fallen, there would still be a deadly billion-dollar vessel under construction in Louisiana. It would just be called the Saucy Sue and might not be built from the habitats of dead people and imbued with such heavy symbolism that workers in the shipyard are said to have treated its components with religious reverence.

This is why the left in America voted against every major weapons system during the 1980’s. Their reasoning was “We already have a tank. What do we need another one for?” and “Who cares if our bombers were built in the 1950’s?” fails to take into account the obsolescence of systems and hardware. The USS New York is a new kind of ship that is being built to replace an older class of assault craft that will be retired by 2015. The USS New York will be part of a Navy that has seen its surface ships reduced from 489 to 267 since 1991. The Army has been reduced by almost a third. Only the Air Force has maintained its strength, being reduced less than 10% during the same period.

But don’t tell Samuel any of this. It will explode his thesis of American “aggression.”

And what of the yard workers who “imbued” that steel from the twin towers with such significance?

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, La., to cast the ship’s bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, “those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,” recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. “It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.”

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the “hair on my neck stood up.”

“It had a big meaning to it for all of us,” he said. “They knocked us down. They can’t keep us down. We’re going to be back.”

Yes, we silly, stupid Americans, getting all choked up about the fruits of our aggression. Kind of makes one wonder how Samuel would enjoy a ride in the New York with those 700 Marines. Who knows, they might even go to somewhere that he would approve; say, Darfur? Of course, Mr. Samuel doesn’t mention that anytime, anywhere in the world such missions are needed, there is only one nation that can undertake the rescue of the threatened. And it ain’t France.

The idea of turning the twisted, melted steel from the twin towers into a ship of war was one of the most scathingly brilliant ideas our military has had since 9/11. And the tired, familiar complaints from lefties like Samuel notwithstanding, I have no doubt the vast majority of Americans agree.


In Training weighs in with some pithy comments directed toward Mr. Samuel:

Mr. Samuel, go jump in a lake. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be upset over this, he’s just another one of those peace-loving-everybody-hug-and-the-bad-will-all-go-away guys. I know this. Really I do.

And then this – an interesting trade, no?

OK, Martin, let’s make a deal. We won’t use steel from the WTC to construct warships. We’ll use them for cages at secret prisons.


And Perry de Havilland makes several excellent points in his brilliantly understated way:

I love it when ‘sophisticated’ and ‘nuanced’ Brits and Europeans lecture Americans about history, given the millions and millions of corpses littered across Europe within living memory. Attacks by people from abroad are caused by interventionist foreign policies, clever Mr. Samuel tells us, with his wise Old World perspectives, which of course explains how places like Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Czechoslovakia etc. managed to sit out World War II in peace by minding their own business.

Moreover whilst nothing is guaranteed in this life, as close to certainty as you may ever come is when someone says “While not excusing wicked acts committed by terrorists…” they are about to do exactly that.

By: Rick Moran at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

ditech linked with ditech
educational toys linked with educational toys
CATEGORY: Government

It appears that board members from School District 128 in nearby Lake County, Illinois need to attend remedial education classes in civics. They were apparently fast asleep during their high school class that dealt with the United States Constitution and the First Amendment:

In a move that has drawn national attention to this Lake County school district, the Community High School District 128 board unanimously passed rules changes Monday night that will hold students accountable for what they post on blogs and social-networking Web sites.

For Libertyville and Vernon Hills High Schools, the changes will mean that all students participating in extracurricular activities, including athletic teams, fine arts groups and school clubs, will have to sign a pledge agreeing that evidence of “illegal or inappropriate” behavior posted on the Internet could be grounds for disciplinary action.


Associate Supt. Prentiss Lea said the changes are part of an effort to get the district community more knowledgeable about the growing Internet blog phenomenon and more aware of the pitfalls of such sites as

“By adding the blog sites [to the student codes of conduct], we wanted to raise discussions on the issue,” he said. “We have taken the first steps to starting that conversation.”

What would constitute “illegal or inappropriate” blog behavior?

In the pledge, which both students and their parents must sign, the students agree that they won’t use alcohol, tobacco or drugs or “exhibit gross misconduct or behavior/citizenship that is considered detrimental to his/her team or school.”

The code of conduct states that “maintaining or being identified on a blog site which depicts illegal or inappropriate behavior will be considered a violation of this code.”

Now if I were the suspicious sort, I’d take the preceding to mean that if I start calling my American Lit teacher a “slut” or my biology teacher “a prick” (or, heaven forbid, refer to the school board itself as “a bunch of dried up old peacocks”) on my blog, anyone who doesn’t much like it can report me to the Blog Police and I can be disciplined for it.

Tom Paine, call you office.

You might think that parents would be up in arms over this violation of their rights to raise their children the way they see fit. After all, if one assumes that the student is writing for the blog off campus and not during school hours, one could ask what in the wide, wide, world of sports are school authorities doing by making it their business to monitor what students do on their own time?

The answer is that only one parent saw fit to stand up for their rights and the rights of their children:

Lake Bluff resident Mary Greenberg, the only person to speak during the public comment period, told officials that the district is overstepping its bounds.

As parents, “we have to watch what they’re doing,” said Greenberg, who has a son at Libertyville High. “I don’t think they need to police what students are doing online. That’s my job.”

Indeed, I can just see my high school trying to do something like this when I was a kid. My mother, God bless her, would have marched into Father Render’s office and told him (in a very nice way, he being a priest and all and my mother a devout Catholic) to stuff it someplace where the sun don’t shine, that she and my father were perfectly capable of “policing” what their children did and that they didn’t need any help from a bunch of busybodies.

And I can also guess the reaction from me and my classmates to this free speech challenge; a massive outbreak of blogs. We would have made sure that every kid in school had a blog and was posting the most outrageous stuff we could find. Not dirty or nasty content, but I can guarantee we would have skewered every teacher, every administrator, and every board member within earshot over this clear intrusion into the private life of students.

As a matter of fact, some of my classmates had a brush with something similar when I was a senior. I was peripherally involved in the publication of a mimeographed “underground” newspaper that was written off campus after school hours but was extraordinarily revolutionary. Some of the things we advocated shook the school to its foundations:

1. Allow for the length of a students hair to touch the collar of the shirt.
2. Elimination of the requirement to wear ties.
3. An end to corporal punishment
4. Allow on-campus smoking
5. Bring anti-war speakers in as guest lecturers

We also took the opportunity to portray some teachers and administrators in a most unflattering light. Not going into details, about all I’ll say is that with a school full of priests and brothers, the sexual innuendo directed at some teachers was something you wouldn’t see in the student newspaper for which most of us wrote.

The “newspaper” had a short run indeed – but not because the school authorities did anything about it. Rather, as typical teenagers, we realized the time we spent trying to come up with inventive ways to insult our teachers could be better spent chasing after typical teenage girls (who were mightily impressed with our efforts to “speak truth to power” let me tell you).

This is so clearly an invasion of privacy that I wonder why the outcry against it hasn’t been more vigorous. I guess it’s just one more sign that parents today may be more willing to let outsiders help raise their kids than our parents were when we were that age.

Maybe it does take a village…


Now another school board is ready to expel a high school student who posted his on line criticisms on a blog:

The student was suspended from school earlier this month after posting a letter online criticizing the discipline of another student, Buck said. He also posted a letter to school administrators saying his opinions were being stifled and that he was being bullied into removing information on his blog.

“Did you ever stop to think that maybe now you really are going to have a threat on your hands now that you have just [ticked] off kids for voicing their opinions?” one of his postings read. “The kids at Columbine did what [they] did because they were bullied.”

While he was suspended, the student’s parents received a letter saying the school district is considering expelling him, Buck said.

Is there another side to this story. Well…sorta:

In a written statement, officials said they don’t monitor student Web sites or look up postings unless they create a disturbance at school.

“When a posting creates a disturbance to the educational environment or threatens the safety and security of students or staff members, it is the responsibility of the school district to look into the matter,” the statement said.

“The district respects the 1st Amendment rights of our students, but not all words can be categorized as protected speech.”

In other words:

You’re free to speak your mind, my friend
As long as you agree with me
Don’t criticize the fatherland
Or those who shape your destiny ’
Cause if you do,
You’ll lose your job,
your mind and all the friends you knew.
We’ll send out all our Boys in Blue.
They’ll find a way to silence you.”

John Kay, call your office.

By: Rick Moran at 12:20 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

CATEGORY: History, Politics

I never thought in a million years I would see it.

In the telephone survey of 1200 individuals, just 47% agreed that “the 9/11 attacks were thoroughly investigated and that any speculation about US government involvement is nonsense.” Almost as many, 45%, indicated they were more likely to agree “that so many unanswered questions about 9/11 remain that Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success.”

Un. Be, Lievable.

This is a direct, purposeful consequence of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Or let’s just call it what it really is: Hatred. Unreasoning, stupid, blind, insane hatred for George Bush and the people who support him.

It’s not difficult to see what happens when the fringe politics of hate goes mainstream. The conspiracy theories, the dark forces that people imagine are controlling their lives (so much easier to blame for life’s failures and disappointments), the Men in Black, the aliens, corporate plots, the Freemasons, and yes, The Davinci Code – these are no longer relegated to the the dark recesses of people’s minds. The beasts have been loosed and they now run amok, wreaking havoc wherever there’s an internet connection and a chat room.

Egged on by supposedly mainstream liberal websites like Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, and other blogs associated with the left, the dark hints and barely concealed innuendo that He knew…He knew…He wanted it to happen… have found an eager audience in the population at large. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is a de-emphasis during the last 25 years in secondary education of subjects that develop critical thinking skills. And Jeff Goldstein could explain better than I the consequences of the battles between intentionalists and their enemies, the post modernists. But more than anything, it is a loss of faith.

The politics of hate has enabled the worst in us to get the better of us. Believing your political opponent capable of such monstrous evil that presupposes thousands of dead Americans bespeaks a sickness in thought and reason for which there is no cure. Not even giving them what they desire more than anything – power – will assuage the psychic pain that causes them to descend into such fits of paranoia and fantasy. If given the opportunity, they would see enemies behind every tree and plotters under every bed.

The politics of paranoia afflicts both right and left for sure. But it has been fully mainstreamed by liberals, wrapped up and sold in slick, well written brochures and talked up in the leftist salons of both Hollywood and New York. Celebrities casually mention their belief in cockamamie theories and are inserted into the 24 hour news cycle so that their inane, idiotic comments are repeated ad nauseum every news update on the half hour. Every time a member of the Glitz and Glitter crowd whose intellectual achievements may include being able to count the number of times they grab their crotch while performing on stage, mouth some ridiculous anti-Bush sentiment, an army of worshipful reporters and cynical paparazzi report and repeat their incoherent ramblings as “news.”

And ordinary people who don’t have the time nor inclination to read the 9/11 Commission report or Popular Mechanics or the dozens and dozens of scientific, peer reviewed articles in the most respected professional journals in the world that fully, completely, and totally debunk most conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks find it easier and more exciting to believe in make believe rather than the cold, hard truth.

After all, believing in conspiracy theories is fun! You’re “in the know.” You know something that others don’t. It makes you feel important. And it gives you a feeling of belonging – belonging to a group of people more noble, more important, than the rest of us simple, drab, hum drum humans.

Except this sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen in educated, western populations. Daniel Pipes did a scholarly study of the history of conspiracy and found that the idea had been declining in western countries over the last 50 years until recently. A resurgence occurred with the Clinton hating of the far right a decade ago as one conspiracy theory after another was advanced against the President, none of which achieved anything close to mainstream acceptance by conservatives.

But when you have a Congressman of the United States – Cynthia McKinney – accusing the President of the United States of having advance knowledge of the attacks on 9/11, you’re not going to get much more mainstream than that.

What enables all of this is hatred of the President. And what is truly frightening is that there are those who don’t hate the President as much as they hate the United States of America and are using the hatred of the conspiracists to advance their agenda.

It might be interesting for some enterprising blogger or reporter to look into the funding for this group, 9/11 Truth.Org. The Zogby poll referenced above was commissioned by this group in conjunction with a conspiracy spectacular they are putting on in Chicago in early June. What is enormously worrying about this “movement” is that the facts don’t matter one iota. You can talk until your blue in the face about the study done by the American Society of Civil Engineers about why the World Trade Center towers fell and it simply goes in one ear and out the other. They will insist, despite the fact that there is not one piece of evidence to support it, that the towers were brought down by a demolition crew.

And with this kind of fevered, religious belief at work, someone could very easily turn such a movement into a crusade. Such shows of emotionalism are not healthy for supposedly rational societies and the leaders they throw up are not usually candidates for the Democracy Hall of Fame.

If this irrational hatred has led us to this point, what will it be like 2 years from now? And if the left were to win back power, would we on the right descend to that level of rage and stupidity? Is it ever going to be possible to find our way back to sanity in our politics and political discourse?

Perhaps part of the answer is at the conspiracists “education and strategy session” coming up in a couple of weeks. I plan on attending this conference and report on what I find there. Stay tuned.

By: Rick Moran at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (73)

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My very first summary this year was entitled “This Time, It’s Personal.” And indeed, it was.

Once again proving that the creative and production teams are among the most innovative and provocative in television history, the first 22 minutes of last night’s superb season finale were shown without commercial interruption. Given the circumstances – a real time assault on the Russian sub being held by Bierko and the terrorists – it made for some scrumptious television drama.

In a purely technical sense, the sequence of events leading to the successful takeover of the sub and disarming of the missiles was brilliantly done. The music, the claustrophobia of the sub, the taut, spare dialogue, the sharp editing as we cut from scene to scene, back and forth between CTU and the sub, and then the final confrontation between Jack and Henderson all combined for what must be considered some of the best moments in the history of the show.

Television, a medium much maligned and rightly so for its appeal to the lowest common denominator among us, showed that in the right creative hands, it has the ability to move us and entertain us beyond mere titillation and voyeuristic thrills. This ain’t your daddy’s sitcom nor was it your run-of-the-mill courtroom or hospital drama where the good guys usually win or the doctors discover what strange disease is afflicting the patient. This was raw. It was edgy. It was shocking. And in the end, where triumph mixed with anticipation for what will happen next season, we were left gasping for breath and on our feet applauding.

I’ve divided my summary into two parts for easier editing and polishing. Part II will be posted around 10:30 AM Central time. I will also have some final thoughts as well as a speculative preview for season six.


As Beirko and his men set the stage for their missile attack (“The Americans will pay for their alliance with Moscow”), Audrey gets on the horn to Admiral Kirkland and asks him to scramble some fighters to sink the sub before the missiles can be launched. Alas, it will take the jets 22-25 minutes to reach the target – too late to stop Bierko’s mad plan to kill tens of thousands of Americans and cripple the economy.

It is at this point that the clock within the clock starts ticking down as Jack, Henderson, and Agent McCullough race to stop the attack before Bierko can launch.


Hiding near the sub, Jack sees a communication buoy pop to the surface. Someone on that sub survived the nerve gas attack and is calling for help. Asking Chloe to scan the emergency frequencies, we discover that the lone survivor is Petty Officer Rooney, a fresh faced kid with a New York accent, a little scared and confused as well as overwhelmed by the situation. When informed that in order to open the hatch, he is going to have to kill a terrorist, Rooney balks. He’s only an engineer he says. Jack, slipping back into his personae of Delta Force Commando, starts to address Rooney like he’s the kid’s commanding officer. This seems to settle young Rooney down and he makes for the hatch.

The crisis on the sub has tied up Mike Novik with Logan, preventing Martha from bringing him into the counter-conspiracy with Aaron. All they can do is wait while Aaron remains pretty exposed at the Secret Service building.

Before the assault begins, Henderson asks for a gun. Jack reluctantly gives him one at which point we are absolutely sure there will be a final confrontation between the two. For both of them, it’s no longer about “the Plan” or “the Country” – it really is personal. Each has been the cause of terrible personal pain in the other’s life. And it can end only one way.

But that’s in the future. Right now, Jack must get on that sub. And the clock is ticking.


The kid Rooney has made his way to the forward hatch. We wonder whether or not he’ll be able to carry out his assignment. Jack, as if teaching a raw recruit, instructs Rooney in the art of the silent kill. Again, Rooney wavers – until he glances down the hallway to the hatch and sees one of his shipmates lying dead in a doorway. That cuts it. Rooney gets a killer glint in his eye and makes his move. A short, violent struggle and it’s over. Rooney opens the hatch.

Having easily dispatched the topside terrorist, Jack, Henderson, and McCullough slip into the boat and start for the control room. Jack then has Rooney make his way to the other side of the con and create a diversion so that the room will empty of hostiles. The kid, a real unsung hero, knocks over a tray outside of the control room which gets Bierko and two other terrorists to leave and investigate.


With only the missile programmer left, Jack slinks toward the geek terrorist’s console and with perfect timing, rises from the floor and stabs him in the throat. Henderson sits down and informs Jack that the missiles will have to be disarmed one by one, manually. Jack and McCullough hurry off to confront Bierko.

The feeling of being closed in is palpable as the narrow corridors and hatchways offer perfect cover. We just don’t know what’s around that next corner. Finally, hearing a noise ahead, Jack and McCullough creep up on Bierko and his men.

But McCullough isn’t careful enough. Coming around a corner, a terrorist hears him and turns to fire. A short burst from an AK-47 sends McCullough to the same place all other CTU agents who aren’t series regulars and who work with Jack Bauer go.


Jack fires back killing one terrorist and wounding Bierko. He jumps a third man and in the ensuing struggle, forces his opponents face into a spray of live steam that was opened by a stray bullet. Bierko, grabbing a wrench, attacks viciously. But in the best tradition of the WWE, Jack gets Public Enemy #1 in a choke hold with his thighs. Unlike the WWE, however, Jack gives his legs a twist and the sickening but satisfying snap of Bierko’s neck is heard.

Chloe is urging Henderson on but it’s slow going. The clock is ticking relentlessly. When Chloe calls out “10 seconds” Henderson is just finishing up disarming the missiles. The panel goes black with less than 5 seconds to spare.

Jack makes his way back to the con only to find that Henderson has taken the opportunity to split. Informing Bill that there’s a lot of interference with his com, Jack turns off his mic and plunges after Henderson, hell bent on exacting his revenge.

Making his way topside, his nemesis is nowhere to be seen. And then he hears the noise behind him and his heart must have sunk to his toes; Henderson has the drop on him and there is nothing he can do.

There is a look of immense satisfaction and triumph on Henderson’s face as Jack turns around for his execution – which makes his look of utter befuddlement when the gun fails to fire all the more satisfying for us. Jack has him. He’s cornered and there’s no escape, nothing to bargain with, nothing to do but listen.

And Jack, now a self-appointed avenging angel, moves slowly and deliberately toward his foe, reading the charges and pronouncing him guilty:

JACK: You are responsible for the death of David Palmer, Tony Almeida, and Michelle Dessler. They were friends of mine.

HENDERSON: That’s the way it works.

No, my former friend, it’s not.

Petty Officer Rooney has witnessed the entire thing. He looks at Jack exactly the way we would if we were in his place. What Jack has done is so far beyond what goes on in our safe little corner of the planet that we are shocked, horrified, and yet unable to tear our eyes away from the sight. The Angel of Death has descended to earth and we are both terrified and awestruck.

The looks exchanged between Bill, Karen, Chloe, and Audrey at CTU when Jack informs them that he shot Henderson in self defense are also quite telling. None of them wish to contemplate what they know in their hearts really happened to Henderson. They accept it because they must. But even his friends take a step away from him emotionally as a result of what they are convinced was nothing less than a cold blooded execution.

But the Avenger isn’t done yet. On a pretext, he gets Chloe alone on the line and asks for her help. Excessive loyalty being one of her many faults, Chloe agrees and begins work on a project that involves some complex communications equipment.

Back at the ranch, Logan tells Mr. Big that not only is the terrorist attack averted but that Henderson is dead. When informed that there was still Jack Bauer to deal with, Logan informs us that he has already made plans to “take care of Mr. Bauer.” We don’t know what that means until the very end of the show.

Martha is finally able to waylay Mike in the hallway. Pleading with him to follow her, they make their way to where Aaron has been hiding. Listening to the conspiracy charges against Logan, Mike immediately makes the right choice and joins the counter plot to bring down the President of the United States. Before taking Aaron off the grounds to safety, Martha and her Secret Service agent have a nice, last moment together. All the speculation about the two being lovers was apparently incorrect. They are, in the end, just good friends who like and respect each other.

Away from the ranch, Jack calls Mike looking for Aaron. And together, the three of them come up with a bold plan; substitute the co-pilot on the Navy helicopter with Jack. What does he plan to do, Mike asks? Get a confession, Jack answers. “How far are you willing to go?” asks Mike. “As far as I have to,” replies Jack.

But the conspirators have a huge problem. Jack is still 20 minutes out from the ranch. But Logan is ready to go to the airport for a ceremony involving his predecessor’s dead body – a death that he was responsible for. Somehow, the President must be delayed. Mike says he’ll ask Martha to help.

At CTU, Chloe needs help configuring the communications equipment that Jack will be using. She asks Bill to authorize a workstation for a guy named Morris. We are surprised to find out that Morris’ last name is O’Brien, the same as Chloe. And that’s because Morris is Chloe’s ex husband.

All we need to know about Morris is that his current job was selling shoes in Beverely Hills. He is the perfect match for Chloe – as charming and easy going as she is uptight and anal. Plus, he is evidently even more of a super geek than Chloe, something we find hard to believe but is borne out later.

As Morris helps Chloe, Martha is getting desperate to keep her faithless husband from taking off for the airport. As a last resort she uses the oldest trick in the book and something that every male in the history of the human race has fallen for at one time or another – the lure of the female body. I guess even President’s succumb because Logan falls for it hook, line, and sinker.

Meanwhile, Jack gets the proper documentation from Chloe. They lure the real co-pilot to the Secret Service outbuilding where Jack dispatches him with a sleeper hold. Their deception running smoothly, Jack boards the helicopter, ready to do whatever it takes to bring Logan to justice. Just what that means in this case, we are unsure. But it is at this point, we begin to fear for Jack’s immortal soul. Will he betray everything he has fought for and worked for by assassinating the constitutionally elected leader of the United States?

The fact that we’re not sure says a lot about how very personal this has all become for Jack. There are a lot of dead bodies Logan must answer for and Jack is determined to see that he does.


By: Rick Moran at 8:58 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

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