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The second half of the show while not having the slam bang action of the first hour, nevertheless had more than its share of twists and turns, surprises and, of course a final shock.

A general observation regarding the entire two hour finale is that the writers seemed to take more care this year than in year’s past in not only tying up some loose ends but also giving us a genuine preview of where the series will pick up next January. What I hope doesn’t happen next year is Prison Break II – Jack on the lamb from the Chinese after escaping from some jungle prison.

And if Jack is actually going to be a “counter terrorism agent,” would it be asking too much that he battle the people responsible for 95% of the terrorism on the planet? I know that America is becoming hyper-sensitive to portraying Muslims in a bad light, but if the show is going to maintain even a semblance of realism, it’s time for shows like 24 to show a little backbone and face down the CAIR bullyboys with their threats of boycotts and name calling. The global enemy we are fighting are not “Russian separatists” but rather fanatical Islamists. The more we are reminded of that fact, the better off we’ll be.


There is an emptiness in the afterglow of the Logans lovemaking. Martha appears to be physically ill from the experience and perhaps even a little disgusted with herself. But she has succeeded. Jack is in place on the helicopter as Logan boards. Using their recent physical intimacy as a crutch, she begs off leaving with him on the airplane, feeding his ego by saying that he deserved to be seen coming down the steps of the helicopter alone – “A picture that will be seen throughout history” – all the while her stomach churning from her recent close encounter with a man she no longer loves and holds in such utter contempt.

Once airborne, Jack takes control of the helicopter with ease. After threatening the pilot, he tasers Logan’s Secret Service bodyguard. Taking off his flight helmet, Logan sees immediately that he’s in big trouble. Having had a taste of Jack’s methods during the Walt Cummings interrogation, Logan begins to use the only weapon available to him – his gift of gab.

He tries to explain himself to Jack as Bauer sits passionless and unemotional in front of him, eyeing the President of the United States as a cat gazes fixedly at its prey. He tries whining, wheedling, finally begging Bauer. But for what? For mercy? Not hardly.

Setting down in an abandoned industrial park, Jack tasers the pilot and leads the handcuffed chief executive inside one of the buildings. He is met there by Morris who has configured a miniature video and audio display in order to tape Logan’s expected confession. And we do indeed expect it. Jack hasn’t failed yet. If anyone can get Logan to spill his guts in front of the nation, it is this fish-eyed avenging angel who seems to have taken over Jack’s body.

Before seating him unceremoniously, Jack searches Logan, removing his phone, a pen, and a few other personal items. And then he begins.

Logan is unmoved. He points out that if he’s tortured, no one will believe anything he says. Logan also knows that help is on the way and time is on his side. Presidents just don’t go missing. And with half the US Secret Service, LA Swat, and other military assets bearing down on him, Jack also realizes it. There’s a clock ticking in Jack’s head and he sees that there’s just no time to soften up his subject the usual way. Instead, he goes for the gold.

In a speech both chilling and shocking when all the facts are laid out in front of us, Jack confronts the President by listing the charges against him just as he did with Henderson. He has killed an ex-President but more than that, his good friend. He has killed other friends. And it is time for him to face justice: “Every American who died today as a result of a terrorist attack is another murder you are responsible for.”

Logan denies everything with the practiced ease of the consummate liar. And with the clock ticking down, Jack goes for broke: “You are going to tell me what I want to know or so help me God I will kill you.”

Does Logan believe it? His brave front is beginning to crack. And when Jack gives him until the count of three to confess, the veneer of Logan’s Dorian Gray-like facade begins to give way and the sniveling goat of a man emerges. He tries to bargain with his executioner. He tells him he, Logan, will enter the pantheon of martyred Presidents while Jack will be remembered in the same breath as John Wilkes Booth and Lee Oswald. And when Jack reaches the count of three, we fully expect him to confess – or Jack to pull the trigger.

Neither happens. There is still something of the honorable Mr. CTU agent in Bauer and he just can’t bring himself to put a well deserved bullet into Logan’s head. Sensing danger has passed, Logan carefully talks Jack down as agents swarm the building. Jack is taken into custody. And Logan takes back his phone and pen.

Arriving at the airport, he is greeted by Martha who has been informed of Jack’s failure to get him to confess. Realizing her emotional sacrifice to buy Bauer time went for naught and caught up in the solemnity of the airport scene with David Palmer’s casket, she appears to lose control and lashes out at her husband, accusing him of murder. The Secret Service hustles her into an empty hangar followed by her husband who dismisses the agents in order to be alone with her.

The sound of the face slap by Logan is jarring. It shows a side of him we had not seen and only guessed at; a viscousness that explains much as to how he rose to the highest office in the land. We see he is capable of anything.

He searches Martha for a wire, ripping at her clothes while spitting out his spite and hate. He threatens her with a fate worse than death; a drug induced fog in a mental institution with no chance of ever getting out. We can see she is plainly terrified – but not too frightened to once again accuse him of being a faithless public servant. Almost by rote, he tries to explain himself again to her. He didn’t mean for things to go so horribly wrong with David Palmer. He didn’t know the terrorists would double cross him. He didn’t mean to cover everything up. Shallow words from a shallow, empty suit of a man.

After pulling themselves together, the first couple make their way to the stage for Logan’s speech, the President an apparent victor in this high stakes game. But unbeknownst to all but Chloe and Jack, the river card is about to be turned over.

“There’s always a back up plan. You know that Jack.” (Chris Henderson to Jack Bauer, Episode 14)

At CTU Chloe has had the audacity to contact the Attorney General of the United States in order for him to listen to a recording of some kind. Bill and Granny Hayes come into the situation room and are surprised, as is the AG who is totally in the dark.

Chloe clues him in. It’s a recording that just took place in the hangar between Martha and Charles Logan. Despite his protests that he doesn’t want to hear it and Granny’s attempts to apologize for taking the AG’s time, Chloe hits the play button.

At the airport, the President is droning on, giving one of the most hyper-hypocritical speeches in history – eulogizing a man he is responsible for killing. Martha and Mike stand behind him, apparently defeated and resigned to the situation. Cut to a man taking a phone call on the tarmac. It is a federal Marshall and the call comes from the Attorney General himself. After asking for verification, the Marshall turns to nearby Secret Service agent and, along with another team of agents, approach the stage and mount the steps.

Logan knows exactly what has happened. He doesn’t know how, but he knows what it means. Quickly finishing his speech, he demands to know the meaning of the phalanx of agents that now flank him. The Federal Marshall whispers something in his ear and Logan deflates like a dead jellyfish. The Marshall then shows Logan what was his undoing; a tiny transmitter hidden in the pen he took following Jack’s attempt at getting a confession. He tries to order the Secret Service to save him but to no avail.

Not quite doing the perp walk but still all but in custody, Logan marches to the waiting limo while a 21 gun salute to David Palmer goes off and the 24 theme music swells in the background dramatically.


In the parking lot where the SWAT team has released him, Jack sees Audrey get out of the car. They make plans to be together when an agent tells him he has a call “from his daughter.” After promising to be right back, Jack goes in a hangar to take the call where, instead of talking to Kim, he is quite literally shanghaied – chloroformed and dragged away by unknown assailants.

At CTU, Bill and Karen say their goodbyes, comrades now after having stormed the battlements and brought down a President. Hayes promises Bill that he can still run CTU which bodes well for next season – perhaps for both of them.

Seeing Chloe ready to leave, Bill hands her a picture of Edgar and Chloe in happier times. As Chloe begins to cry, Morris comes up and suggests they talk about it. The two of them leave together, a sign we hope of things to come next year.

After several minutes, Audrey goes inside where Jack took his phone call only to discover Jack missing. Alerting the other agents to Jack’s disappearance, it looks like poor Audrey is destined to go through another horrific day next year without her love.

And Jack? We discover that the Chinese, probably alerted by Logan to Jack’s existence, have kidnapped and beat our hero severely. Lying on a dingy floor (in what we later see is the cargo hold of a ship bound for…Shanghai), we are reacquainted with the Chinese chief of security at the consulate who reminds Jack that the Chinese have very long memories. Thinking he is to be executed, Jack begs to make a phone call. Who would he call? Audrey? Kim? It doesn’t matter because the Chinese have other plans for him. “Kill you? You’re far too valuable to kill, Mr. Bauer.”

Lying on the floor, beaten and in chains, heading for an unknown destination and uncertain future, we hear from Jack’s lips what we always felt was in his heart and mind but that he never expressed before.”

“Kill me….Please kill me…”

This from a man who has faced death a thousand times, a thousand different ways. Has Jack Bauer had a death wish all along? Or does the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a Chinese prison make him think that death is preferable to an existence without friends, family, or purpose?


This year’s body count for the show is surprisingly close to last year’s totals. We don’t know how many died in the submarine nor do we know a few other loose ends like Evelyn and her 8 year old daughter left by Henderson’s men in the motel room as well as a few others. But Jack’s total of 42 from last year is close to this year’s butcher’s bill.

Petty Officer accounted for one terrorist while Jack, using a tremendous variety of weapons (including his thunder thighs) took care of 5 bad guys. Poor Agent McCullough should have called in sick.

JACK: 35

SHOW: 200


If you’re interested, I’ll have some final thoughts on the show posted later this afternoon.

Make sure to stop by Blogs4Bauer for the best summaries and info on 24.

By: Rick Moran at 8:16 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

CATEGORY: Politics

Like his namesake from the Friday the 13th horror films, Jason Leopold never seems to tire of goring us with ever more outrageous claims of insider knowledge regarding the impending indictment of Karl Rove.

Also like the slasher from the teen horror movies, Leopold has upped the body count by reporting that Rove is cooperating with Fitzy’s effort to take down Vice President Cheney. Since most of those same observers who believe Rove will be indicted any day also believe that Cheney isn’t even a target of the Special Prosecutor, one wonders what our Jason is smoking and may I please have some.

But the hell of it is, since an indictment of Rove seems imminent, we will be forced to sit and listen while Leopold crows like a morning cock about his “scoop” – despite the fact that his prediction of when Fitzmas actually arrived was so off base that only dyed-in-the-wool Leopoldists will continue to take this charlatan seriously as a journalist.

The sane left has as much skepticism about Jason and his fantasies as anyone on the right. Kevin Drum:

I, of course, have no way to judge the truth of either side, although it continues to be strange that Leopold claims to have multiple sources on this story and no other media outlet has even one. In any case, there’s damn little wiggle room left here. One side or the other is wrong on a truly spectacular scale and is now set up for an implosion of credibility on a galactic scale. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen:

The problem here isn’t about aggressive reporting that gets “too far out in front of the news-cycle”; the problem is reporting information that appears to be false. Either the Leopold article on Rove’s indictment was true or not. Ash’s “partial apology” doesn’t say either way.

Truthout’s Marc Ash (who Howard Kurtz informs us is a former ad man and fashion photog) is sticking by Leopold and is now simply calling Rove attorney Robert Luskin’s categorical denials about everything in the Leopold article a pack of lies. One would think that this ups the stakes for Truthout if it turns out Rove isn’t indicted until next month but don’t worry. The fact of the matter is that Truthout could print any number of lies, exaggerations, or falsehoods and still be considered a major news outlet on the left. That’s because their heart is in the right place on this and other issues. Why bother with the truth when it’s the sentiment of speaking truth to power that counts. If the story is false, it’s not because Jason Leopold is a serial liar and fabricator, it’s because the MSM has the story and won’t go with it because they are “afraid” of the White House.

Contrast this attitude on the left with the reaction on the right to the Ben Domenech plagiarism scandal, when there was unusual unanimity of opinion regarding the blogger’s resignation. No such disapprobation will fall on our Jason, despite this summary of his record from Mr. Kurtz:

Leopold acknowledges in a new book, “News Junkie,” that he is a past liar, convicted felon and former alcoholic and cocaine addict. An earlier version of the book was canceled by publisher Rowman & Littlefield last year.

Salon retracted a 2002 piece by Leopold involving Thomas White, then secretary of the Army. The online magazine apologized, saying it had been unable to confirm the authenticity of an e-mail that Leopold attributed to White. Leopold, a onetime reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Dow Jones, accused the online magazine of being “wimpy” and caving to pressure.

“Jason is a character, but he’s been straight with me and I’ve checked him out very carefully,” Ash says.

One familiar with how sincere drug addicts can sound about “turning their life around” will immediately recognize Mr. Ash’s mistake; trusting Jason Leopold that he’s telling the truth is like trusting a crack head not to steal your car the minute your back is turned. As much as you care for the fellow, its better not to enable him by leading him into temptation.

I like the Commissar’s take on a final outcome here:

Whatever one’s politics, this sure is interesting. I can’t ever recall such a potentially explosive story being presented in two wholly contradictory versions for so long. The Lefties must be freaking out. Popcorn, anyone?

I prefer plain but will eat low fat buttered in a pinch.


Byron York:

Even if Rove were indicted—and no one outside Fitzgerald’s office can say with any confidence whether or not that will happen—everything that has been reported in this latest round of theorizing would still be wrong. And if in the end Rove is not indicted, there will undoubtedly be confidently worded reports that he was saved only by some sort of corrupt dealing. What this latest round of Internet theorizing shows is that there are people who have a deep emotional investment in the belief that Rove is a criminal, and that those people will suspend their critical faculties to accept almost any scenario that supports their belief. Nothing that happens—or doesn’t happen—will change that.

Bill Ardolino waxes cynical:

My money is on further, catastrophic shaming of Leopold. Or at least what would count as “catastrophic shaming,” if indeed there were any real consequences in Blog World …

I have to join Ardolino in his cynicism. Witness the Debbie Schlussel imbroglio where her hate filled rants against Jill Carroll even after it was revealed the journalist’s statements were made under duress only served to increase her popularity.

Go figure…

By: Rick Moran at 9:42 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

CATEGORY: Politics

I remember well the arguments over whether or not to give the franchise to 18 year olds back in 1971. I was to turn 18 in 1972 and at the time, many sober minded people actually believed that passage and ratification of the amendment would kill Richard Nixon’s chances for re-election. It didn’t, of course. To this day, 18-21 year olds are the least participatory age group in American democracy. But at the height of the Viet Nam war, the powerful slogan used by pro-26th amendment groups – “If they’re old enough to fight, they’re old enough to vote” – won the day and the amendment was ratified in almost record time.

Anti-amendment forces made the losing argument that 18 year olds were too intellectually unsophisticated to vote. The House Judiciary Committee Chairman at the time:

Representative Emmanuel Cellar, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, a staunch opponent of the proposal who had routinely killed the measure in committee. Representative Cellar thought that “Young people are idealists. They tend to see things as black and white. That makes it easy to manipulate them.” Proponents of lowering the voting age feared that Representative Cellar would scuttle the legislation once again.

Cellar was wrong. Young people should not be denied the vote – especially when they aren’t the only age group who are idealists and “tend to see things in black and white.” Age has nothing to do with an inability to think and act like an adult. Just look at the self-destructive conservative wing of the Republican party today.

Rather than self destructive, perhaps we should refer to them as the Spoiled Brat wing of the Republican party. In a shocking exhibition of immaturity and intellectual shallowness, not to mention a cavalier attitude toward the safety and security of the United States, some conservatives have begun to throw the mother of all tantrums 6 months prior to the election because, quite simply, they are not getting their way. They are threatening to “punish” Republicans by, one supposes, staying at home on election day and allowing the Democrats a clear path to majority status.

If conservatives were to abandon the party and vote Democratic to effect that changeover, I could countenance their choice as one made with the full, honest realization that they were voting to promote a liberal agenda along with a worldview that many of us believe would threaten the safety and security of the United States. In a democracy, this is a legitimate way to “punish” your party of choice and “send a message” that they must change in order to win back your loyalty.

But the Spoiled Brat Conservatives are contemplating no such thing. Using the withholding of their vote as an unconscionable political ploy, they seek to affect a Democratic takeover literally by default. They are going to hand the country over to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi not because they agree with them but because they value their own, selfish, petty agenda over the good of the nation.

It is one thing to become frustrated with the personalities and even the politics of lawmakers who make compromises in order that the business of the nation be carried out with a modicum of orderliness and dispatch. It is quite another to demand that the politicians of one’s party commit political suicide just to satisfy the legislative cravings of a minority. The fact of the matter is, we aren’t called “the base” for nothing. In order to win an election, even in a relatively safe district, a politician needs the votes of not only of us bedrock conservatives but also moderate conservatives and independents.

An argument can be made that Republicans have pissed off any number of these voters, some of whom will almost certainly be voting Democratic in November. But to posit the notion that the alternative is better in the short or, as some have suggested, in the long term is ludicrous. Counting votes two years out is an exercise in sophistry and worse, a demonstration of monumental stupidity. If we don’t know which events may or may not transpire in the next six months that will affect this election, how in God’s name can you make the preposterous assumption that an outcome more than two years away can even be guessed at?

In truth, the anger shared by all of us over immigration, spending, the pork barrel, and even issues of competence regarding the President pale in comparison to the anger we would all feel if the Democrats enacted parts of their agenda.

Have problems with the President’s immigration plan? Let’s act like 2 year olds being denied their way and watch as the Democrats eviscerate the President’s admittedly inadequate and modest proposals for enforcement and embrace changes that will send you to the medicine cabinet for your high blood pressure medication.

Don’t think that taxes have been cut enough? Sit in your recliner eating nachos on election day, gloating at how you “showed” those Republicans, and then watch as the Democrats make Sweden look like a tax haven.

Too much spending for your delicate sensibilities? Try to imagine the various social engineering schemes and legislative sops Democrats have ready to drop into the hopper in January of 2007. Along with the tax increases (which we all know will be spent on the pet projects of liberals and not used to reduce the deficit), how do taking steps toward socialized medicine, “reform” of the prescription drug bill, and other liberal big government spending initiatives sound to you?

Oh, and let’s not forget Iraq and the War on Terror. But then, what’s the security and safety of the United States of America mean when stacked against the foot stomping, ill natured “lesson” you plan to teach the GOP?

Let me make it clear that I’m not trying to defend the indefensible here but rather make the point that elections are about choices. That’s all they are. They are not about “sending messages” or “punishing” someone. You can tell yourself that until you’re blue in the face but that won’t make it so. By staying at home, you are making a choice just as surely as if you pull the lever in the voting booth for the Democrats. There is absolutely nothing intellectually sophisticated about withholding your vote for “strategic” reasons. It is, in fact, simple minded to have faith that you can effect change by not participating in the process.

And what of the congressional districts lost if Republicans go down to defeat in November? It will be no simple matter to win them back, I assure you. The power of incumbency is such that even in districts that lean heavily Republican, a clever Democratic politician can twist and squirm his way to acceptance. And, of course, being fanatically devoted to constituent services in the district always goes a long way to cementing a politicians political prospects. It is chimerical to believe that the GOP can win back lost districts simply by putting up a “true” conservative to run against a Democrat. History teaches us an opposite lesson.

We are at war. The party you are hoping comes to power uses quotation marks when talking and writing about the conflict we are in, as if it only exists in the minds of George Bush and a few misguided Republicans. How serious do you believe the Democrats will be about national security? Are you willing to take the chance of finding out?

And for those conservatives who continuously point to Ronald Reagan’s Administration as a model of conservative governance, I would suggest you read a history of that period so that you can be disabused of such fairy tales. Reagan’s term in office was marked by compromise and practicality, so much so that the President’s hyper-conservative Interior Secretary James Watt famously wailed at one point “Let Reagan be Reagan” – as if the Gipper could be anything else. I distinctly recall Richard Viguerie, whose OpEd in the Washington Post yesterday must set some kind of standard for petulant huffiness, doing a little wailing himself back then about the men around the President preventing RR from acting like a “true” conservative.

This ain’t the 1980’s. Reagan’s success during that period came about as a result of his ability to pull conservative southern Democrats along with him on a few big ticket items like taxes, defense spending, and some reform measures. This kind of bi-partisanship is not vouchsafed his successor as the liberals have purged the apostates from the south and now stand united, almost in lockstep against President Bush. This has made the President’s ability to maneuver, to wheel and deal on legislation in order to affect an outcome that would satisfy “the base” problematic indeed. With so few Democrats willing to peel off and support the President on any number of issues, in order to get anything done at all, Bush has had to govern closer to the middle – as Bill Clinton found out following the election of 1994.

So go ahead and throw your tantrum by not voting on election day. But do so realizing the consequences to the country and not just your ego or your political sensibilities. Working to change the party is hard work and must be done at the grass roots level. How much street cred are “real” conservatives going to have with party loyalists – the people who largely make up the grass roots – if the Democrats win in November and the blame clearly falls on you?

I personally plan on voting, seeing the act of casting my ballot as the only mature, responsible way to express my choice in our representative democracy. In my humble opinion, not doing so would be tantamount to placing your own personal interests over the interests of the country. And in a time of war, I find that enormously troubling.


Bravo to Bruce Kessler for expressing many of the same sentiments I did above, although he seems a little too sanguine about the prospect of forming an “independent conservative force” that would work to put forward a conservative agenda and conservative candidates. I would say that such a force already exists in spades. You can’t shake a stick in Washington without hitting a conservative think tank or presure group. That said, Bruce makes several excellent points in his must read post.

And Ed Morrissey also thinks like me, that conservatives are guilty of “unrealistic expectations.” Ed, however, is more polite and accomodating than I am, he being much more gentlemanly about his criticism of the Pouting Thomas Republicans.

By: Rick Moran at 7:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

Classical Values linked with The "I" word
Searchlight Crusade linked with Links and Minifeatures 05 22 Monday
The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill linked with On Immigration, are we better off now than when we had Democrats in office?
CATEGORY: Politics

I would like to congratulate Representative William Jefferson (D-LA) for his outstanding contribution to the Democratic party’s grand strategy to unseat the Republicans in the November elections. Singlehandedly, the New Orleans Democrat has simplified the Dems message enormously, allowing them to drop one of their major selling points – the corruption of Republicans – so that they can concentrate on their other equally fallacious talking points: “We’re not Republicans,” and “Did I mention we’re not Republicans?”

As for Jefferson, you may recall the last time the Louisiana Democrat was in the news. He shanghaied some National Guard troops who were in the process of trying to bring order to New Orleans and ordered them to take him to his house so that he could gather a few possessions.

“I did not seek the use of military assets to help me get around my city,” Jefferson told ABC News. “There was shooting going on. There was sniping going on. They thought I should be escorted by some military guards, both to the convention center, the Superdome and uptown.”

The water reached to the third step of Jefferson’s house, a military source familiar with the incident told ABC News, and the vehicle pulled up onto Jefferson’s front lawn so he wouldn’t have to walk in the water. Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour.

Finally, according to the source, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck.

Kind of makes you wonder what was in those suitcases after reading this from the AP about how Congressman Jefferson has been caught on tape with his hand in the cookie jar:

As for the $100,000, the government says Jefferson got the money in a leather briefcase last July 30 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington. The plan was for the lawmaker to use the cash to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian official the name is blacked out in the court document to ensure the success of a business deal in that country, the affidavit said.

All but $10,000 was recovered on Aug. 3 when the FBI searched Jefferson’s home in Washington. The money was stuffed in his freezer, wrapped in $10,000 packs and concealed in food containers and aluminum foil.

Needless to say, the Democrats are probably going to back into their majority as the Republicans in Congress continue to prove their stupidity. In fact, if I were a Democrat I would send Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and most of the high profile party members who appear regularly on national television some super glue so that they don’t forget to keep their mouths shut. Every time one of those worthies opens their yap they cost their party 50,000 votes.

I frankly don’t know what the answer is to political corruption. The problem isn’t that its more prevalent today than it used to be. I’m not sure that’s the case. It’s the sheer brazenness of it. Representative Cunningham and his “menu” of bribes. Abramhoff and his shameless hustling, legally bribing Congressmen with trips, meals, golf outings, and other perks. It’s almost as if these people are daring someone to catch them stealing money. It’s pathetic.

Public financing is not the answer although I’m terrified that since it’s the easy way, that’s what we’ll end up with. Public financing will make it even more difficult for a challenger to unseat an incumbent.

Term limits are unconstitutional. And if they’re not, they should be. We already have term limits – it’s called election day. I find it repulsive that people are willing to retire someone else’s Congressman and not take responsibility for their own. And if you think congressional staffs have too much power now, just wait until they get to break in some new guy every 6 or 8 years. It is a congressman’s staff, by the way, that most often meets with lobbyists and representatives of pressure groups. And there’s no law against “bribing” them (with obvious caveats) to put in a good word for some lobbyist’s pet project or bill.

The problem is incumbency, yes – but term limits are not the way to fix it. The fix is making the races more competitive.

These days, the political parties have become so adept at redrawing congressional districts that they can draw a district that makes it nearly impossible to defeat the incumbents – Democrat or Republican. And while their redistricting maps must pass certain legal tests to make sure they don’t dilute the black or hispanic vote, there usually is no reason to try and game the system that way.

This is because we Americans are pretty transparent about our voting preferences. You might be surprised to find out that Republicans tend to gather in the same neighborhoods, towns, and zip codes as do Democrats. The demographers who work with the parties to draw the lines have at their disposal literally thousands of pertinent statistics courtesy of the US Census Bureau. Hyper accurate surveys of household income, religion, race, education level, combined with the historical results precinct by precinct including turnout percentage, party affiliation (in states where it is listed), percent of voters registered, and other telling information are all entered into the matrix and after the computer chews on it a while, out comes your map, guaranteeing 92% of incumbents will win re-election.

We can’t go back to “at large” elections. The Supreme Court ruled those unconstitutional because they discriminated against minority representation. But that was back in the 1960’s and 1970’s when a black man in the south couldn’t get elected dog catcher if a majority of whites were voting. Yesterday, we saw Mayor Ray Nagin get re-elected largely as a result of white voters abandoning someone of their own race to vote for a black man. For someone who remembers the Freedom Riders, this truly is remarkable (even though I think Nagin is an incompetent boob.)

Have we come far enough in our development as a nation to attempt some kind of electoral reform that would allow generally for at-large elections of Congressmen? I personally think that this could be part of an answer along with computer programs drawing Congressional districts based solely on population disbursement. Politicians wouldn’t like it which is why it would take a grass roots movement of unusual size and energy to pull it off.

One thing is for sure. Unless Congress is able to start policing itself, the people will do it for them.

By: Rick Moran at 8:56 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)

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24 TILL “24″

With excitement at a fever pitch as we approach the 2-hour blockbuster season finale, several major question remain to be answered.

Judging from past experience, some of those loose threads will not be tied up. Questions about some characters who have appeared in past episodes will not be answered such as the fate of Evelyn and her 9 year old daughter. (Did Henderson’s men really kill both of them?) And some plot threads involving Graham and his cohorts (Mr. Big) will also probably fall by the wayside as the writers try their best to have a slam bang finale while trying to set up something for next season.

My expectations therefore are reduced quite a bit. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t able to speculate what in fact will be the outcome of several loose ends:

1. The ultimate fate of President Logan.

2. Ditto Martha.

3. Add Henderson.

4. The future, if any, for Jack and Audrey.

This is your chance to show everyone how good your prognosticative skills are. Let ‘er rip in the comments!

By: Rick Moran at 1:06 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (24)

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One would think that because the baseball team representing the North Side of Chicago has fallen on desperately hard times of late that the South Siders would take pity upon their unfortunate cousins and go easy on them. After all, we all live in the same city, enjoy the same kind of pizza, love the Bears, hate the Packers, and pray to the one God with equal fervor – regardless of how you see Him.

In a perfect world, such would be the case. However, this is not a perfect world, this is Chicago – which explains the royal 6-1 drubbing my Southside heroes gave the Beastly Boys from the Northside yesterday at White Sox Park.

I hadn’t watched the Cubs this year at all which is a good thing because I would have become confused and disoriented immediately. Have they begun broadcasting Schaumburg Flyers games? A better question that Cubs fans should be asking is how is it possible that one of the richest media conglomerates in the world – the Tribune Company – is fielding a team made up of marginal major leaguers, rehab projects, castoffs, and rookies?

Yes, there are a few bona fide players like Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones, and Aramis Ramirez. But Jerry Hairston? Matt Murton? Neifi Perez? The starting lineup that took the field for the Northsiders yesterday could have been confused with the starting nine for the junior varsity team at the local community college so bereft of talent the cuddlies are this year.

No matter. It’s doubtful that the 1927 Yankees could have touched Mark Buerhle yesterday. The White Sox hurler was near perfect, pitching a 2-hit complete game gem. One of those hits came in the first inning – a swinging bunt beat out by the speedy Pierre to lead off the game and led to the only run of the game for the Cubs.

Jerry Hairston (whose father was a fan favorite on the South Side for many years in the 1970’s) then laid down an excellent bunt, placed perfectly between first and home forcing catcher A.J. Pierzynski to field it. AJ’s wild throw to first skipped on by Konerko’s outstretched glove and scooted into right field allowing Pierre to continue on to third with Hairston able to breeze into second. It was Pierzynski’s first error in 150 games, a not insignificant streak. Would that AJ was as good at throwing out baserunners trying to steal.

Buehrle as is his wont, shrugged off the error, getting out the inning with only one unearned run scored by the hapless Cubs on a sac fly by the 3rd place hitter – the not-much feared slugger and journeyman infielder Todd Walker. The fact that manager Dusty Baker has his second baseman batting in the third slot should tell you all you need to know about the potency of his offense. The only other time I can recall a second baseman batting third for any major league club was Tommy Herr for the Cardinals back in the 1980’s. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen (as I’m sure someone will clue me in via comment or email) but it is a rarity in the Major Leagues and usually denotes a weak hitting team.

From there on out, Buerhle was damn near unhittable, retiring 18 out of 19 batters at one point while walking only two batters. The Sox lefty can be one of the streakiest pitchers in the majors and if this performance is an indication of things to come, the Southsiders can look forward to sending the best one-two punch in baseball to the mound every series as the team’s ace Jose Contreras makes his return on Sunday from a short stint on the disabled list.

As for the offense, the quadrumvirate of Podsednik, Iguchi, Thome, and Konerko did most of the damage. Pods and The Guch were on base 5 times for sluggers Thome and Konerko who accounted for 4 of the 6 RBI’s driven in for th game. Thome’s ribby came on a towering, opposite field home run, his 17th of the year, off starter and loser Greg Maddux, a 300-game winner fading toward the end of a storied career. Maddux looked befuddled as his once pin-point control abandoned him and his pitches seemed to find the middle of the plate much more often than in his Cy Young years with the Braves.

Walking 5 while striking out only 1 and giving up 9 hits in less than 6 innings, Maddux’s fastball – never overpowering but always exquisitely spotted – seems to have lost some snap and his breaking ball looked ordinary. I have no doubt he can still contribute to any Major League club which makes me think he very well could be trade bait by July if the Cubbies continue their march to the basement of the National League Central.

The question uppermost in the minds of many fans this weekend is are we witnessing a changing of the guard here in the city? Are the Cubs, once the unquestioned ruler of the baseball universe in Chicago, about to be surpassed in popularity by the surging White Sox?

Not hardly. As long as the Cubs play at Wrigley field, the Tribune Company could put Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs out on the field and fans would still fill the old ballyard to the rim. On the other hand, when the White Sox fall on hard times, their fans register displeasure by ignoring the team and stay away from the less than desirable US Cellular Field in droves. In this respect, it might be helpful to view the Sox as representing American capitalism at its finest while the Cubs exhibit an affinity for the European socialst model.

Sox fans will not buy into an inferior product thus causing the team to lose money in reduced attendance. Sox ownership realizing they are in a competitive environment, then make moves necessary to bring back a winning team to the South Side which, in turn, re-ignites fan excitement in the team resulting in increased attendance and larger profits.

The Cubs meanwhile, like the French, take the laissez out of laissez faire by consistently fielding teams best suited to their fanbase of teenage girls, grandmothers, drunken Gen X’ers, and the Sisters of Mercy whose order requires obedience to God, Mother Superior, and the infield fly rule. Also like the French, the Cubs never seem to fire underperforming employees such as managers who lose more consistently than the French Armed Forces. Unlike the French however, who tend to be a sour, grumbling lot, Cubs fans are all daisies and sunshine, willingly walking into catastrophe year after year with a smile on their face and a childlike faith that the Gods of Baseball will relent in their persecution and vouchsafe their team a chance at immortality.

Alas, it appears that the generally jovial although ignorant Cubs rooters will once again be disappointed this year as they forever fan the flames of hope that one day, the Tribune executives (who laugh behind their hands at the simple minded folk who visit the holy shrine of Wrigley Field while clutching huge wads of ill gotten cash) will field a team worthy of such love and loyalty. Judging by this year’s edition of baseball futility currently playing out the string on the North Side, they may have to wait a while longer.

By: Rick Moran at 9:08 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

CATEGORY: Politics

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

The hearings to confirm General Michael Hayden as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency have had some unintentional effects. The culpability of Congress in what almost all observers agree is the dysfunctional nature of our intelligence community is on view. It is evident that Congressional oversight has grown far beyond its original charge of “reining in” the CIA and has become instead a drag on our intelligence community’s ability to carry out its task of protecting the country from another terrorist attack.

The cure has become the new disease.

Prior to the 1970’s, intelligence gathering was the exclusive responsibility of the executive branch of government. Presidents from Washington to Nixon enjoyed an almost unlimited ability to use intelligence assets as they saw fit. Between 1947 when the CIA was established and 1976, there was an informal arrangement between some members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the CIA where a few members were kept loosely informed of some covert operations as well as joint consultation on some budgetary matters. Institutionally, the shortcomings of this haphazard arrangement became clear during the course of the Church and Pike Committee hearings that explored many of the CIA’s more questionable operations including some blatantly illegal activities directed against domesetic targets.

The revelations resulted in the first real attempts at Congressional oversight of intelligence activities in American history. Beginning with the Hughes-Ryan Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 which prohibited covert operations unless there was a “finding” by the President that the operation was necessary and important to the national security and that such a finding be shared with the appropriate committees in Congress, lawmakers attempted to control the CIA’s ability to do its job by using its perogative as holder of the purse strings. When presented with a CIA plan in 1975 to covertly assist Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA faction in the Angolan civil war against the Cuban backed government, lawmakers refused to fund the program due to fears that Angola would become another Viet Nam.

When the intelligence committees of the House and Senate were created in 1976, they initially fought for turf with other, more established committees like Armed Services and Foreign Affairs. What finally emerged from this internal fracas were two pieces of legislation that have had a direct bearing on how the Bush Administration has gone about the business of protecting American citizens from another terrorist attack while leading to controversey and now confrontation with Congress over who controls our intelligence agencies.

The first of those laws, the Foreign Inteligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which requires that a court order be obtained from a special court established by the Act for all electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes within the United States, has been in the news as a result of the President’s decision to by pass the FISA court while ordering the National Security Agency to collect data on overseas calls that either originate or terminate in America. The question of whether or not the program is legal has been addressed on these pages by my good friend Clarice Feldman . However, the legality of the program takes a back seat to the oversight issues involved. As Clarice points out in her piece:

In 2002 both the New York Times and Newsweek reported that cumbersome legalities related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 prevented crucial dots from being connected, which could have stopped the 9/11 plot. Federal Judge Royce Lamberth’s criticisms and investigation of the FBI official charged under FISA with preparing FISA warrant requests had essentially shut down the process in the critical pre 9/11 period. This, in fact, was the reason why the agency had not sought a warrant to view the contents of Moussaoui’s computer, a search which as we now know might have prevented 9/11. Indeed, the Joint Senate and House Intelligence Committee report detailed just that.

In the wake of 9/11 it is clear that President Bush decided to “stretch the envelope” of executive privileges relating to intelligence activities as they impact on both judicial and congresisional oversight. He has done so, basing his decisions on powers granted to him by the Constitution in his role as Commander in Chief.

The second piece of legislation whose strictures the President has come in conflict with is the Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980 which requires the President to notify members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees of all “intelligence activities.” This requirement is waived when the President determines that informing the entire committees of covert actions would reveal intelligence “sources and methods.” In this case, the President is required to inform what is known as the “Gang of Eight” that includes the House and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairmen and Vice Chairmen as well as the Majority and Minority Leaders of both Houses of Congress. The President is also authorized to inform any other legislator he deems fit to receive the information.

Where the President has come a cropper of Congress with the NSA program is in the notification department. Some lawmakers are complaining that they were kept “out of the loop” and therefore unable to discharge their oversight responsibilities. House Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Jane Harmon complained that briefings on the program should have been disseminated to the entire Committees of both the House and the Senate. Just yesterday, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) observed:

“The notification to a very limited group — they could do nothing much with that information, essentially — is not the kind of checks and balances that I think our founding fathers had in mind.”

Snowe’s comment reveals problems that has plagued congressional intelligence oversight from its inception; that politics and personalities have played a disasterous role in emasculating our intelligence collection efforts while making the agencies themselves more timid and even more political.

This has been borne out by the way that Congress has shaped the way our government gathers intelligence in the last 30 years. While the excesses of the CIA revealed by the Church Committee led to some much needed reforms within the agencies themselves, Congress essentially mandated that the CIA drastically reduce its human intelligence capability and start relying more on the marvelous technological tools available to it through the use of spy satellites. The reasons are explained by Stephen F. Knott, author of Secret and Santioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency:

The damage done to the CIA by this congressional oversight regime is quite extensive. The committees increased the number of CIA officials subject to Senate confirmation, condemned the agency for its contacts with unscrupulous characters, prohibited any further contact with these bad characters, insisted that the United States not engage or assist in any coup which may harm a foreign leader, and overwhelmed the agency with interminable requests for briefings (some 600 alone in 1996). The committees exercised line by line authority over the CIA’s budget and established an Inspector General’s office within the agency, requiring this official to share his information with them, causing the agency to refrain from operations with the slightest potential for controversy. The CIA was also a victim of the renowned congressional practice of pork barrel politics. The intelligence committees forced the agency to accept high priced technology that just happened to be manufactured in a committee member’s district.

On some occasions, members of Congress threatened to leak information in order to derail covert operations they found personally repugnant. Leaks are a recurring problem, as some member of Congress, or some staff member, demonstrated in the aftermath of the September 11th attack. President Bush’s criticism of members of Congress was fully justified, despite the protests from Capitol Hill. Leaks have occurred repeatedly since the mid-1970s, and in very few cases has the offending party been disciplined. One of the Founding Fathers of the new oversight regime, former Representative Leo Ryan, held that leaks were an important tool in checking the “secret government.”

Lost in all of this politiking was assisting the intelligence community in doing its job. It’s clear that President Bush and Congress apparently disagree on what the role of intelligence oversight should be. While the executive sees oversight as a simple matter of informing Congress of activities mandated by statute, lawmakers want virtual veto power over these same activities. And this collision becomes overheated especially when secret activities such as the NSA intercept program are leaked to the press. Congress plays the injured party of not being “informed” while the President has followed the letter of the law and briefed the appropriate members. Meanwhile, the President’s opponents can accuse the Administration of carrying on a program with “insufficient oversight” despite the fact that Bush has discharged his responsibilities in this regard.

In the end, it comes down to who controls the intelligence apparatus of the United States government. This has led to politicizing the agency as high level appointees owe their allegiance to the executive while the careerists are closer to Congress. Professor Knotts comments on the consequences:

Ultimately, the CIA’s ineffectiveness stems from the fact that it is, as its former Director Robert Gates observed, “in a remarkable position, involuntarily poised nearly equidistant between the executive and legislative branches.” In becoming a partner (if not outright owner) of the CIA, Congress has put itself in the uncomfortable position of having to approve of objectionable measures. This most democratic branch of government is simply not designed to make the tough and often distasteful decisions that are required of nations competing in the international arena.

He might have added that when measures to safeguard domestic security are made public, “the most democratic branch of government” sways in the winds of domestic opinion and as a result is unable to come to grips with their legitimate oversight responsibilities.

To some responsible civil liberties absolutists as well as irresponsible political opportunists, The President’s actions in defending our security have bordered on the criminal and are designed to defeat the purposes of oversight in general. To others, the President is simply redressing a balance that for 30 years has favored the legislative branch of government and impacted negatively on the ability of the executive to carry out its duties to use our intelligence agencies to protect American citizens.

It is an interesting debate with good arguments to be made by both sides. Ultimately, where one comes down on the issue rests on the question of trust. Do you trust George Bush or any President to use the awesome power of his office in a constitutional and legal manner?

On such a question, the fate of the nation may ride.

By: Rick Moran at 8:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

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CATEGORY: Politics

Reading this post at Attywood about how the New York Times received a tip in July of 2001 that al Qaeda was planning something big – probably within the United States and then failed to publish anything on it, a great and basic truth came to me; that the unreasoning hatred of anything and everything about Bush will continue long after he is gone and regardless of who succeeds him in the White House.

Attywood is posting about a Raw Story piece which reports that Judy Miller and the New York Times had a specific warning from a “high Administration official” about a terrorist attack within the United States:

Because just now, some 56 months after the fact, we are learning that both Judy Miller and her editors at the New York Times had information that foretold the 9/11 terror attacks and elected not to publish it. Reading the new story carefully, it does seem that a decision to publish the article in the summer of 2001 was not a “slam dunk,’ that there were legitimate questions whether Miller’s tip was enough to hang a story on. But the episode does raise a couple of other serious questions—surely about the pre-attack ineptitude of the Bush White House, but also over the Times’ handling of this explosive info both before and after 9/11.

The money graphs from Raw Story makes the devastating charge (again) that the Bush Administration should have been able to stop the 9/11 attacks with the twist that the New York Times and Judy Miller should have gone with the story:

Now, in an exclusive interview, [Judy] Miller reveals how the attack on the Cole spurred her reporting on Al Qaida and led her, in July 2001, to a still-anonymous top-level White House source, who shared top-secret NSA signals intelligence (SIGINT) concerning an even bigger impending Al Qaida attack, perhaps to be visited on the continental United States.

Ultimately, Miller never wrote that story either. But two months later—on Sept. 11—Miller and her editor at the Times, Stephen Engelberg, both remembered and regretted the story they “didn’t do.”

“But I did manage to have a conversation with a source that weekend,” [Miller said]. “The person told me that there was some concern about an intercept that had been picked up. The incident that had gotten everyone’s attention was a conversation between two members of Al Qaida. And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole. And one Al Qaida operative was overheard saying to the other, ‘Don’t worry; we’re planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.’

“And I was obviously floored by that information. I thought it was a very good story: (1) the source was impeccable; (2) the information was specific, tying Al Qaida operatives to, at least, knowledge of the attack on the Cole; and (3) they were warning that something big was coming, to which the United States would have to respond. This struck me as a major page one-potential story.

Whether the Times should have gone with the story is certainly open to question as Attywood points out. But the clear aspersions cast once again on the Administration for its failure to “act” on intelligence prior to 9/11 is brought up by Attywood himself:

This has been said so many time before, so we won’t belabor the point, but how much more evidence do people need that the Bush White House had plenty of information about the pending 9/11 attacks, and failed to take the threat seriously? The relatively high marks that Bush gets on terrorism issues, even today, just aren’t supported by the facts.

First of all, it is ridiculous and dishonest to ask the question “how much more evidence” do people need to tell them the Administration was culpable for not doing anything about warnings pre-9/11. There is nothing new regarding this evidence as it has already been brought out and used as a club to bludgeon the Administration already. Here’s the 9/11 Commission on this particular warning:

The headline of a June 30 briefing to top officials was stark: “Bin Ladin Planning High-Profile Attacks.” The report stated that Bin Ladin operatives expected near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences of catastrophic proportions. That same day, Saudi Arabia declared its highest level of terror alert. Despite evidence of delays possibly caused by heightened U.S. security, the planning for attacks was continuing.

Now a little perspective. Also from the Commission report:

On June 28, Clarke wrote Rice that the pattern of al Qaeda activity indicating attack planning over the past six weeks “had reached a crescendo.” “A series of new reports continue to convince me and analysts at State, CIA, DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], and NSA that a major terrorist attack or series of attacks is likely in July,” he noted. One al Qaeda intelligence report warned that something “very, very, very, very” big was about to happen, and most of Bin Ladin’s network was reportedly anticipating the attack. In late June, the CIA ordered all its station chiefs to share information on al Qaeda with their host governments and to push for immediate disruptions of cells.

And this, a few weeks later in the summer of 2001:

Tenet told us that in his world “the system was blinking red.” By late July, Tenet said, it could not “get any worse.” Not everyone was convinced. Some asked whether all these threats might just be deception. On June 30, the SEIB (Senior Executive Intelligence Brief) contained an article titled “Bin Ladin Threats Are Real.” Yet Hadley told Tenet in July that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz questioned the reporting. Perhaps Bin Ladin was trying to study U.S. reactions. Tenet replied that he had already addressed the Defense Department’s questions on this point; the reporting was convincing. To give a sense of his anxiety at the time, one senior official in the Counterterrorist Center told us that he and a colleague were considering resigning in order to go public with their concerns.

These and other hints, glimmers, false leads, and outright wrong guesses were being explored, debated, examined, and analyzed in the 6 weeks prior to 9/11. What the Commission showed (and what they concluded) was that in many ways, the Administration was suffering from too much information – that much of it was contradictory, vague, non-specific, and like the warning that an attack would take place in July, ultimately wrong.

But we’ve been over and over this ground before. Everything that could be cherry picked from this report has been cherry picked. But for Attywood and the rest of the Bush deranged mouthfoamers, that’s just not good enough. Now we must be exposed to more “evidence” (even though there is absolutely nothing new about this) that the incompetents in the Administration should have stopped 9/11.

Perhaps the next most studied attack on America in our history is the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The similarities are eerie. In the fall of 1941, the American government was also receiving intelligence of an impending attack. Where and when it would occur was fiercely debated. Thanks to an advantage not vouchsafed our government vis a vis al Qaeda – the cracking of the Japanese diplomatic code (MAGIC) – we had a good idea of what the Japanese government was thinking prior to the attack. Some signs pointed to an attack on the Philippines. There were even indications of an attack on the Aleutians. But Pearl Harbor? The Navy concluded that given the number of ships and planes protecting the harbor, the Japanese could never mount a successful assault.

Despite numerous warnings and even the specific information about the date and approximate time of the attack being discovered thanks to the MAGIC intercepts, the Japanese delivered a crippling blow to the fleet at anchor.

Roosevelt immediately covered up the extent of the damage to our fleet which probably blunted some criticism that would have echoed many of the charges made against Bush. In the end, as with this Administration, there are those who see conspiracy in the attacks as some historians have taken the position that Roosevelt had to know of the attacks and let them happen so as to give the United States a causus belli for going to war.

Both Bush and Roosevelt, unlike Attywood and his ilk, did not have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight prior to these devastating attacks on America. Yes there were warnings in the lead up to 9/11 as there were at Pearl Harbor (and prior to the embassy bombings in 1996, and the attacks on the USS Cole) But until a pair of glasses are invented that can peer into the future and give policymakers a clear picture of where and when an attack will occur, we will continue to suffer from our inability to see the future.

All that policymakers can do is prepare. In that respect, it is clear that the FAA, the military, and yes even the White House were too sanguine, too laid back on 9/11 and thus were woefully unprepared for what was visited upon us. But was this attitude due to incompetence? Or merely the result of the entire American government sleepwalking as it had done through the 1990’s, chasing al Qaeda like a cop in pursuit of a bank robber while Bin Laden planned his Pearl Harbor.

It is a continuing source of amazement to me that people will point to one “warning” or another prior to the attacks and say “Aha! They had this information and failed to act upon it.” Taking each warning individually, such a case could be made. But given the flood of information, some of it pointing to an overseas attack, some to a domestic strike, it is baffling what these critics expected the Administration to have done. The “actionable” intelligence pointed to an attack. But where? When? How?

Somehow, the critics never get around to answering those questions.

The tiresome attacks on the Administration recycled here by Raw Story and dressed up in new clothes to include the New York Times “failure” to publish a telling SIGINT intercept – one out of thousands, some of which proved true, many more proving to be false – only proves that like Reagan, Bush will remain a focus of hate for the left long after he leaves the White House and goes into retirement.

By: Rick Moran at 3:39 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

CATEGORY: Politics

Call me a masochist. Accuse me of being simple-minded. Laugh at my naivete. Weep over my stupidity. But unless something horrific happens to change my mind between now and election day, I plan on trudging down the street to our 100 year old city hall and doing my civic and patriotic duty by voting Republican on November 6.

For a while, I toyed with the idea of staying home on election day. Then it hit me; my reasons for doing so reminded me of what a seven year old does when he solemnly announces to all assembled that he is running away from home for good and never coming back and don’t try and talk him out of it because he’s made up his mind.

Stifling snickers, the parents bid their charge adieu. Invariably, after walking a block or two, our young runaway will realize there’s no where to go and returns home, suitably chastened by the experience.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that those who wish to sit on their hands in November are acting like petulant, foot stomping, spoiled little children who are throwing a tantrum because they’re not getting their way and will therefore “punish” their party by staying home on election day. (“I’ll show ‘em! I’ll show ‘me all!”)

Then again, maybe I am.

Because in the end, like that little kid, there’s no where else to go and nothing else to do if you consider yourself a patriotic American. I make no apology for giving those of you who contemplate spitting on your birthright a good tongue lashing and a remedial course in civics. It is good to be reminded every once and a while how precious a commodity the democratic franchise is and that misusing it by employing the vote as some kind of political punishment for wayward legislators is selfish, cowardly, and in the end, self-defeating.

While some of you are sitting at your keyboards railing against the Republicans and dramatically announcing to one and all how you will teach them a lesson by staying home on election day, there are Americans in Iraq putting their hides on the line every day of the week so that you have the choice in the first place of either acting like a drama queen or a responsible citizen of the republic.

And it goes without saying that the Iraqi men and women who are working with Americans are fighting and dying so that they can have the same choice – although somehow I don’t think they are going to be quite so cavalier about their options. They may not be familiar with the subtle strategies being employed by some of our pundits who have brilliantly devised a way to make themselves feel good while punishing Republicans at the same time. In fact, I daresay if you were to try and explain how staying home on election day is a good thing and will lead to a better future, they would look at you in astonishment.

A similar look would cross the face of a protester in Belarus. Citizens there would love the opportunity to sit out an election and punish their party for transgressions real and imagined – except they don’t have a party to choose from save that of their ruthless, heartless dictator. A few weeks ago when they went into the streets to demonstrate for the freedom to sit at home on election day, they got clubbed on the head for their trouble. The poor rubes who got in the way of the truncheons of President Alexander Lukashenko’s bully boys probably do not have the sophistication to understand the elegance, the sheer brilliance of an electoral strategy that advocates non-participation in a process they can only imagine existing.

Am I making you feel a little guilty yet?

Surely I don’t have to talk about the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect your right to vote. Whether on the battlefields of the world where tyrants and murderous ideologies sought to marginalize that right or on the streets of America where countless millions have fought, marched, and died so that the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution actually mean what they say about freedom and justice, our ancestors took seriously their responsibility to pass that precious birthright down to you intact. But have we become so sophisticated, so cold and calculating about politics that we can afford to belittle this notion? Has it become quaint to look upon our past as irrelevant, that the words and deeds of Americans who lived 50, 100, or 200 years ago are only pertinent to high school kids sleeping their way through social studies class?

When I was contemplating staying home this November, I wrote this before I made up my mind:

John Adams said “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” I wholeheartedly agree. There is no such thing as a “wasted” vote. A vote is a statement of one’s innermost and most passionately held beliefs. It cannot be “wasted” anymore than getting up at a PTA meeting to speak against an overwhelmingly popular motion is a wasted exercise. Being heard even if you are a lone advocate is what is important. And the fact that this right to be heard is protected and cherished in our republic is a true blessing, something we take for granted far too often.

If expressing opinions is the essence of democratic governance then casting a vote is the ultimate manifestation of the concept of free will; individuals make a choice on who they wish to represent their personal interests. By choosing someone who they believe reflects their personal opinions about issues important to them in a very personal way, voters seek to influence the course of events in their society in as direct a way as possible, given the enormous size of the United States. And in practical terms, living in a two party state has the advantage of maximizing the influence of a single voter by making one’s preference an either/or proposition.

But is influence the goal of voting? Or self-expression? I would argue that given that we live in a representative democracy, voting as a civic act is expressing a preference. Like a piano tuner wearing boxing gloves, a voter cannot fine tune his society by casting a ballot. He can, however, make noise like the piano tuner, pounding on either the higher register or lower sounding keys, making a generalized statement of being satisfied with the status quo or agitating for a change.

If you are dissatisfied with the choices on the ballot, each and every voting booth in America has a pencil and a place on the tally sheet to write in your preference. And, of course, you can always vote for the Democrat to punish the Republicans. Either way, by the act of voting, you are keeping faith with those who came before you, trailing all the way back to Concord and Trenton, and Valley Forge, and Yorktown. You don’t think those guys weren’t serious about the franchise? Read some of what they have to say about concepts like “liberty” and “freedom.” You will discover that they did not use those terms as politicians today use them – as throwaway lines in speeches no one listens to or as obligatory sops to interest groups. They were deadly serious about winning the right to live those words in the flesh. And because they were, here we are today rationalizing a decision to spit on their graves and in effect say to them “What a bunch of chumps.”

In the end, it may be quite unsophisticated and old fashioned to think the way I do about voting. But I can’t dishonor the past sacrifices of those who believed so passionately in things that we take for granted at our peril. Politicians and even political parties will come and go. What we’re left with after all the speechifying and political posturing; after all the strategizing and punditocracy is you and your conscience.

I hope I’ve pricked it ever so slightly so that you reconsider your decision not to vote.


My good friend Ogre in the comments points out that not all states have write in preferences.

That astonishes me. Makes me realize that I’m even luckier than I thought to live in a state that takes voters and the franchise seriously, not just treating people as dumb brutes to be led around by the nose.

By: Rick Moran at 8:02 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (29)

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CATEGORY: Moonbats

For all of us who are breathlessly awaiting the photo-op of the Century – Karl Rove emerging from police headquarters following his arrest for Crimes Against Plame – Jason Leopold is once again tickling our curiosity and flitting around like the gadfly reporter that he is, looking over the prosecutors shoulder to tell us exactly when The Evil One will be brought low:

For the past few days, we have endured non-stop attacks on our credibility, and we have fought hard to defend our reputation. In addition, we have worked around the clock to provide additional information to our readership. People want to know more about this, and our job is to keep them informed. We take that responsibility seriously.

I love it when the self-important use the royal “we” when talking about themselves. And of course, it makes all the more dramatic when we are informed that “we have endured non stop attacks (sigh) on our credibility.”

I can’t for the life of me think of one reason why no one should believe Jason Leopold…Well, okay. I can’t think of any more than one reason why anyone should not believe Ja…Um…Anyone can make a couple of mistakes which means that doesn’t give us sufficient reason not to believe Jason Leop…

Let’s just say that’s all water under the bridge and Jason has promised us, like Bullwinkle promising Rocky about pulling the rabbit out of the hat, that “this time for sure! Presto!”

We can now report, however, that we have additional, independent sources that refute those denials by Corallo and Luskin. While we had only our own sources to work with in the beginning, additional sources have now come forward and offered corroboration to us.

We have been contacted by at least three reporters from mainstream media – network level organizations – who shared with us off-the-record confirmation and moral support. When we asked why they were not going public with this information, in each case they expressed frustration with superiors who would not allow it.

Oooh those meanie network level MSM editors. If only they had the courage, the indomitable spirit and will of our Jason to go ahead and publish unconfirmed rumors all in order to report THE TRUTH…without fear or apology for being wrong.

So why leave us in suspense, Jason? Tell us, oh prescient one, when can the celebrations commence?

We reported that Patrick Fitzgerald had, “instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order….” That does not mean that at the end of that 24-hour period, Fitzgerald is obliged to hold a press conference and make an announcement. It just means that he has given Rove a 24-hour formal notification. Fitzgerald is not obliged to make an announcement at any point; he does so at his own discretion, and not if it compromises his case. So we’re all stuck waiting here. Grab some coffee.

Now we understand. For a minute there, you had us all going. It’s our fault that we misinterpreted “24 hours” to mean “24 hours.”

So these are “doggie hours?” Or maybe donkey hours since we are keeping time by a Democratic clock.

Whenever it happens (and I hate to inform my partisan friends but Fitzy doesn’t investigate for three years and only indict little Scooter – he needs a much larger scalp to place on his lodgepole), you can be sure that our Jason will be strutting like a peacock and crowing like a cock about how accurate he was in his reporting…even if everyone on the planet knows full well what a sorry excuse for a “reporter” he truly is.


Jeralyn Merritt continues to be one of the only lefty bloggers who seems keen on getting to the bottom of Leopold’s claims.

Ms. Merritt has a detailed post mixing intelligent speculation with some hard headed questions for Mr. Leopold. Read it all.

By: Rick Moran at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)