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8/24/2006
THE COUNCIL HAS SPOKEN: DOUBLE TROUBLE EDITION

Okay, so I blew it. I like totally forgot to post last week’s winners and losers (yours truly falling into the latter category) in the Watchers Vote. And it was only by the grace of God that I remembered to send in a post for this week’s vote.

Allow me to remedy my malfeasance before the Watcher sends me one of his “Dear Rick” emails with all sorts of veiled threats and matter of fact recitations of the horrible penalties involved for not following the rules of the Council. The consequences are secret but I can tell you that they are not pretty and that they involve someone named “Mistress Diana” and a whip, chains, with lots and lots of leather.

Results from W/E 8/11

COUNCIL:

1. Done with Mirrors for “We Could be Heroes”

2. AbbaGav for “A Few Points That Are Not Morally Equivalent”

3. Shrinkwrapped for “Clans of the Alphane Moon”

4. Joshuapundit for “The War Against the Jews and the War Against Us”

NON COUNCIL:

1. One Cosmos for “Israel has no Right to Exist”

2. Shape of Days for “A Photojournalist Weighs in on the Adnan Hajj Scandal”

3. Abu Aardvark for “Islamist Bandwagons”

Results from W/E 8/18

COUNCIL:

1. Shrinkwrapped for “A Questionable Assumption”

2. Yours Truly for “A Hinge of History”

NON COUNCIL

1. Eteraz for “Muslim Musings on British Muslims”

2. The People’s Cube for “Flat Fatima—Revolution In News Photography”

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

By: Rick Moran at 4:38 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

WAS ANYTHING TRUE?
CATEGORY: Media

I have nothing but the greatest respect for journalists as well as a deep appreciation for the almost impossible job they have when trying to cover a war. The danger, the confusion, the rush to fill air time and to make deadlines – all this is a contributing factor to the difficulty in placing yourself in the midst of warring parties and report what is going on.

I also am trying to appreciate how hard it is to separate fact from propaganda and try your best not to be manipulated by either side into skewing your story. I got an earful the last time I visited this issue from a genuine photojournalist who has covered numerous conflicts around the globe. He told me in a series of fascinating emails that it is at times unavoidable to pass along propaganda from one side or another. I accept this is a price of being in a war zone. But then there are things that should not be accepted by my friend the photo journalist or anyone concerned with the credibility of the media.

As I predicted in this post the debunking of war reporting by the MSM that started with the exposure of Reuters as a shill for Hizbullah has not gone away and indeed, has gotten more intense.

The microscopic scrutiny being applied by the conservative blogosphere to how the MSM screwed the pooch in their coverage of the war (lefty blogs have dismissed the issue as “one picture” that was only “slightly altered”) has continued despite the media moving on to more important matters – like the fake confession in a 10 year old murder case by a disturbed pedophile. After all, why deal with the media’s assistance to a terrorist group in getting their propaganda out when you can garner ratings and viewers by devoting absurd amounts of time and effort to titillating your audience with pictures of an unfortunate little girl dressed up to look like an adult?

The latest episode in this slow motion car wreck for the media comes to us via Michelle Malkin. The story of those evil Joooooos targeting ambulances with missile strikes that was reported by many so-called reputable news agencies has been debunked by a woman who calls herself “Zombie.” Read both Michelle’s post and Zombie’s analysis to get the complete picture of what we’ve only guessed at prior to this; that the media was, if not a willing partner, a gaggle of “useful idiots” for Hizbullah during the coverage of the war.

We know of Zombie from her frontline photo reports of various protests by radical leftists over the past few years. In this instance, Zombie used her analytical skills and knowledge of photography to offer up a definitive and devastating account of how Hizbullah fed the media’s preconceived notions about Israel and banked on the laziness of editors in order to perpetrate a fraud upon the world.

The ease with which they accomplished this is breathtaking in its implications. What Zombie’s work shows is that the media was not concerned with reporting the “truth” or even the “facts” but rather with telling “the story.” In the recently concluded Israeli-Islamist war, the “story” was Israel heartlessly bombing civilians which in turn gave substance and urgency to the UN’s efforts to stop the war short of Israel achieving its military objectives.

There is little doubt that the IDF was pounding the hell out of Hizbullah, especially the last 72 hours before the cease fire. While it is doubtful that the outcome of the “war of perceptions” would have been different (Hizbullah was not going to be “destroyed” hence they would be declared the winner by the world press regardless of how much damage they sustained), the shattering conclusion to be reached by examining Zombie’s analysis, as well as the analysis of several bloggers who have debunked other photos and stories, is that Hizbullah military assets and fighters were saved thanks to their expert propaganda campaign. They successfully manipulated the press through heartbreaking visuals and carefully choreographed stories into reporting the war in such a way as to place political pressure on the United States to force the issue of a cease fire at the UN.

Were there civilians killed in Lebanon? There is no doubt of this. How many? The Lebanese government says over 1000 were killed but there is absolutely no independent verification of that number nor is there any reason to believe that all of those deaths were indeed “civilian” in nature. The work of Zombie and others places the burden of proof now on the Lebanese government and the news media to give an accurate accounting of civilian deaths in Lebanon during the war. Numbers from any other source – including the UN - can now legitimately be questioned and indeed, can rightly be called exaggerations since it is clear that so much of what we heard and saw from Lebanon was a lie.

It cannot be stated forcefully enough that the media absolutely must undertake a massive re-examination of their coverage of this war, ideally using independent investigators, in order to find out how so much of their coverage was so easily co-opted by Hizbullah propagandists. Was it simple laziness? Was it competitive pressures? Was it gullibility? Any way you look at it, the entire media comes out looking like dupes. And their already damaged credibility has suffered another blow that means from here on out, bloggers are going to take nothing from them for granted. If they thought they were being fact checked prior to these incidents, they haven’t experienced anything yet.

Will they reform? I believe that we have not seen the last of these revelatory investigations about MSM coverage during the war. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on this story – that “stringers” used by many in the print media to help in compiling stories on the war were also either Hizbullah operatives or sympathizers. I feel confident that someone with the resources and the time will be able to ferret that story out of the shadows eventually also. But even if that aspect never materializes, the mainstream press is going to have to come to grips with the fact that the way they gather news and report it must change or whatever credibility they have left will be lost.

UPDATE

In a related story, Allah has the jaw dropping response of Editor and Publisher to all the charges of fakery, flummoxing, and stagecraft by the media during the war.

I don’t know quite what to say. But Allah does:

I don’t know what to say, except that if these guys see no higher ethical obligation in war photography than press-conference photography; if they have no moral objection to enabling the exploitation of children’s corpses for propaganda purposes; if they detect no corruption in their presence at the scene of a newsworthy event shaping the participants’ actions during the event; then David Perlmutter’s got a bigger job ahead of him than he realizes.

Perlmutter is the journalism professor whose article in last week’s E & P set off Greg Mitchell and was the reason for this two part screed on how bloggers suck and it’s okay to print propaganda pictures.

That’s an oversimplification but after reading Mitchell’s piece and the comments of several war photogs, one can hardly come away thinking anything else.

By: Rick Moran at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

CIA VS. THE WHITE HOUSE: THE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

If anyone ever thought the war between the White House and the CIA boiled down to some kind of senseless, meaningless bureaucratic squabble with no real consequences for the future of our security, think again.

The partisanship, the ideological conflicts, the personality clashes, the arrogance, and the turf wars that have marked the last 5 years of bureaucratic wrangling between the two sides has now poisoned the relationship between the White House and our intelligence agencies to the point that neither trusts the other. What this means is really quite simple: As we try and figure out the best way to confront Iran, our government is hopelessly divided.

While policy makers and intelligence analysts square off over threat assessments regarding Iran and the mullah’s intentions, the distrust exhibited by both sides has spilled over into the public arena and threatens to paralyze our ability to respond to the regional challenge of Iran and the global challenges inherent in their support for terrorism:

Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday. They echo the tensions that divided the administration and the Central Intelligence Agency during the prelude to the war in Iraq.

The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate.

There is plenty of fault to go around for this state of affairs. Some blame must be ascribed to the institutional myopia of our intelligence agencies that punishes “thinking outside the box” and rocking the boat. With so much emphasis placed on consensus building, it is tempting to dismiss intelligence that doesn’t fit the mold created by the necessity of having to satisfy so many interests – State, Defense, and the White House. This leads to maddening generalities and overly cautious assessments that to many in the Administration is simply unacceptable:

The new report, from the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, portrayed Iran as a growing threat and criticized American spy agencies for cautious assessments about Iran’s weapons programs. “Intelligence community managers and analysts must provide their best analytical judgments about Iranian W.M.D. programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments,” the report said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction like nuclear arms.

Some policy makers also said they were displeased that American spy agencies were playing down intelligence reports — including some from the Israeli government — of extensive contacts recently between Hezbollah and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The people in the community are unwilling to make judgment calls and don’t know how to link anything together,” one senior United States official said.

Part of the problem is certainly the Bush Administration’s belief in vending machine intelligence analysis; put a request for information into the slot and out come the answers. That may be a gross oversimplification but it is clear that there are some in the White House who believe that the CIA should be doing a much better job. In a sense, one can sympathize with the quandary our policy makers are facing. The stakes are so high that making policy decisions based on what they feel is inadequate intelligence is simply unacceptable.

In the case of Iran, they may not have much of a choice:

Several intelligence officials said that American spy agencies had made assessments in recent weeks that despite established ties between Iran and Hezbollah and a well-documented history of Iran arming the organization, there was no credible evidence to suggest either that Iran ordered the Hezbollah raid that touched off the recent fighting or that Iran was directly controlling attacks against Israel.

“There are no provable signs of Iranian direction on the ground,” said one intelligence official in Washington. “Nobody should think that Hezbollah is a remote-controlled entity.” American military assessments have broadly echoed this view, say people who maintain close ties to military intelligence officers.

“Does Iran profit from all of this? Yes,” said Gen. Wayne A. Downing Jr., the retired former commander of the Special Operations Command and a White House counterterrorism adviser during President Bush’s first term. “But is Iran pulling the strings? The guys I’m talking to say, ‘no.’ ”

It is difficult to gauge how much of an independent operator Nasrallah actually is. The Hezb’allah leader definitely has his own agenda both as it relates to Lebanese domestic politics and Hezb’allah’s future as a political and military force in the region. It is not surprising that our intelligence agencies cannot find a smoking gun regarding Iran’s involvement in Nasrallah’s decision to attack the Israeli patrol on July 12th that precipitated the war. That’s because it is open to question whether Nasrallah himself knew about any such attack in advance. At the very least, he may have authorized an attack if any of the several Hezb’allah outposts on the border saw an opportunity to take Israeli prisoners. But it may be a bit of a stretch to say that he ordered the specific attack.

This uncertainty about Hezb’allah and their relationship to Iran is one thing. Trying to divine Iranian intentions as well as estimate the progress of their nuclear program is quite another. Last summer’s leak of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran discussed the probability that Iran was perhaps a decade away from being able to construct a nuclear device. There was also criticism of the NIE’s inability to say with any certainty that Iran was in fact seeking nuclear weapons in the first place. To many in the White House, the NIE appeared to be more bureaucratic CYA rather than any attempt to honestly give policy makers the information they felt they needed to counter the perceived threat from Iran.

While the Israelis believe the mullahs are now less than 3 years away from having the ability to construct a nuclear weapon, many arms control experts in this country point to the daunting technical challenges that Iran has yet to prove it can overcome in order to build a bomb anytime soon.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Do we follow Dick Cheney’s “One Percent” scenario where if there is a 1% chance of a terrible threat we take action? Or do we take a more cautious approach and work to prevent the mullahs from making a bomb by building up international pressure through sanctions and consensus? Do we go for regime change? Do we try and talk directly to the Iranians?

The answers to these questions require cooperation and trust between those who have been elected by the people and charged with the awesome responsibility of protecting us from threats like Iran and those whose job it is to analyze and report on those threats to policymakers.

But the dysfunctional nature of the relationship between the White House and our intelligence agencies has eroded that trust over the last 5 years until it appears that cooperation is almost an impossibility. Certainly 9/11 had much to do with the initial problems between the two sides. It was only made worse by the errors made by both sides in the lead up to the liberation of Iraq. And the clear partisanship exhibited by some in the intelligence community whose leaks during the 2004 campaign, designed to bring down the Bush Administration, led eventually to the White House pushing back in the Plame Affair probably destroyed the relationship between policymakers and advisors beyond repair.

To say that this state of affairs is unacceptable is a given. One almost wants to knock the principle’s heads together and tell them to get over their differences and cooperate, so serious are the issues raised by Iranian meddling and the threat of Iranian nukes. But the paralysis that is apparently gripping our intelligence agencies – burned on 9/11, burned Iraq WMD - and policy makers that prevents them from working together to protect us needs to be addressed somehow.

Whether anything can be salvaged from this relationship before January 20, 2009 could spell the difference between living in a safer world or a more dangerous world for many years to come.

By: Rick Moran at 8:13 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (26)

Non Partisan Pundit linked with Recent Comments
jeffreymark linked with WHITE HOUSE PROBLEMS WITH THE CIA
THE RICK MORAN SHOW - LIVE

Join me this morning from 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM Central Time for The Rick Moran Show on Wideawakes Radio.

Today, we’ll take a close look at “The Battle for Baghdad” that could decide the question of success or failure in Iraq. We’ll also examine the on-going war between the CIA and the White House that now threatens our security. And we’ll talk about the midterms and where we are 10 weeks before the election.

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By: Rick Moran at 6:31 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

8/23/2006
GOP: SLOUCHING TOWARD THE WILDERNESS?

Despite the recent uptick in both the President’s approval rating and the GOP’s performance against the Democrats on a “generic” ballot of party choice, things are not looking good for Republicans in November.

The most recent Evans-Novak report has 39 Republican seats at risk. Of course, only in an absolute electoral meltdown would the GOP lose that many House members. But since the Democrats only have to net 15 seats to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House (if she’s not successfully challenged), Republicans by any measure have an uphill climb to keep control of the lower chamber.

Things look a little better in the Senate but it is almost certain that the Republican advantage will decrease by as many as 2 and possibly 4 members. Such an outcome could set off the Jefford’s scenario; the Democrats courting two or perhaps even three Republican Senators to switch parties, an admittedly remote possibility but not out of the realm of the possible.

The most obvious candidate for such a switch, Lincoln Chaffee, is up for re-election this year and would find it hard if not impossible to switch parties after running and winning as a Republican. However, if the Democrats fall one Senator short of a majority, they’d be stupid not make the attempt. Jeffords was bought off rather cheaply. He was given the chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee which he lost when the GOP reestablished control of the Senate in 2002. Chafee already has a seat on that backwater Committee as well as seats on the much more important Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committees. Since Joe Biden will use the high profile media access that the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee gets as part of his Presidential nominating strategy, it is unlikely he would step down.

But how about the Homeland Security Committee? The current ranking member for the Democrats is Joe Lieberman, who has been promised by Harry Reid that he will not lose his Chairmanship if he wins as an independent. So unless they offer Chafee a backwater Committee chairmanship (or perhaps a chance to keep his Foreign Affairs seat), it would be highly unlikely that despite the Senator’s discomfort at being around a bunch of goober chewing, red neck yahoos from Red State America, that he would be eager to leave a party in which he has built up so much seniority.

The House however is a different story. Evans-Novak:

The overall House picture for Republicans is bleak, although not hopeless. The British apprehension of the sky-bombing plotters has at least briefly helped Republicans catch up with Democrats in the generic ballot survey. But aside from that spike, if the election were held today, the GOP would probably lose 26 seats and their congressional majority.

There is still time left, but the buzz on the Hill is that many Republican staffers—including those working for safe members—are seeking employment elsewhere, dreading the miserable possibility of life in the congressional minority.

The Democrats’ chances at the House are very real right now. Republicans are hobbled by the fact that they have so many shaky seats to defend and so few that they can legitimately target. If they are to tighten the gap—and a USA Today poll released Tuesday indicates that they may now be doing so on the generic ballot—they must give voters a reason to come to the polls for them. They will probably lose any election that merely pits them as the status quo against Democrats who could be even worse—who could, for example, impeach President Bush. Republicans must also offer something positive to voters, but their lack of legislative accomplishments in this Congress makes it difficult.

The big X-factor is the Republicans’ vaunted micro-targeting turnout program, which is light-years ahead of anything the almost non-existent Democratic National Committee will be able to put together this year. The GOP turnout program produced a minor miracle in 2004, as new Republican voters showed up in droves. How many of those new voters will show up again this year? Republicans are honing the 2004 model and will experiment with new methods, as they typically do in off-year elections. Given the historically low turnout in mid-terms, how much this could soften the blow of 2006 is unknown.

I might mention that it is SOP for staffers to retool their resumes prior to any election for the simple reason that you never know when opportunity will come a’knocking. Elections always scramble things on the Hill with some people leaving for Committee work, others move on to think tanks, with many others taking lucrative lobbying jobs. This kind of churning before an election is not unusual.

As for turnout, there are pundits like Michael Barone who say that the outcome of midterms can be predicted based on turnout from previous election cycles. Barone points out that the Rovian magic formula could turn the predictions of all the prognosticators on their heads:

The slight uptick in Republican percentages in 2002 and 2004 can be explained by higher Republican turnout. Looking ahead to next November, there is reason to believe that the Republican base is turned off—by high spending, by immigration—and may not turn out as heavily. But if so, how much difference will that make?

Polls are not good predictors of turnout—only elections are. Last week, we had a special election in the 50th district of California, whose Republican congressman resigned in disgrace and went to prison. In 2004, the 50th district voted 55 percent for George W. Bush and 44 percent for John Kerry. Last week, the district voted 53 percent for Republicans (there were 14 candidates, the winner among whom goes on to a June 6 runoff) and 45 percent for Democrats. There were only two of them, and the leader, Francine Busby, got 44 percent of the vote—the same percentage as Kerry. That may be 1 percent higher when the last absentees are counted.

Republican turnout was down more than Democratic turnout, but only very slightly. Of course, things may change by November. But it looks like Hypothesis Two is still in force, and if so, Democrats will have a hard time winning control of the House.

One might note that the Evil One has almost dropped out of sight in recent weeks. This is not exactly true as Rove is criss crossing the country speaking before small groups of GOP activists, bucking up morale as well as laying the groundwork for the most sophisticated “Get out of the Vote” operation in the history of American politics. Can he do it again? Is there one more miracle up his sleeve, one more rabbit in the hat?

Alas, no matter how sophisticated Rove’s GOTV operation may be, you still have to have a base that’s motivated to go to the polls in the first place. It is not at all clear that in many of these “in play” races, that GOP voters could find a reason to support more of the same from incumbents who spend like drunken sailors, pork out with earmarks, and appear to be beholden to a bunch of fat cat lobbyists. A drop off in turnout of even 5% could doom most of the vulnerable Republican candidates.

Democrats on the other hand, energized for the first time in a decade and mad as hornets will almost certainly match and probably exceed their turnout numbers from 2002. And even though they haven’t advanced a single concrete idea on any national issue and continue to shoot themselves in the foot on national security matters, there is a clear sense in the country born out in poll after poll that the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Already, several high profile incumbents have been defeated in primaries, a sure sign of voter discontent. Whether that translates into a Democratic victory in November will not be up to either party because as it stands now, both Republicans and Democrats are hostage to events.

Gas prices, Iraq, inflation, terror plots, the Middle East, and most especially Iran could push and shove the electorate this way and that between now and election day. Since neither party is running on any grand ideas, these events will shape voter perceptions right up until the individual voter walks into the booth.

Most of those issues mentioned above are trending against the GOP which makes their problems even more difficult. On some level, the competence of the President is involved in each of those issues. The Democrats may not succeed in “nationalizing” the election by making Bush a major issue. But you can’t completely eliminate him from the mx either. Bad news on any of those fronts means bad news for Republicans.

With 10 weeks to go, the Democrats are confident and appear to be taking nothing for granted. The electorate seems to be moving their way. And perhaps not even the magic of Karl Rove can save the Republicans this time.

By: Rick Moran at 4:23 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

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Join me this morning from 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM Central Time for The Rick Moran Show on Wideawakes Radio.

Today, we’ll have a grab bag of stuff including Iraq, Iran, NSA decision, and a look at the nanny state.

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By: Rick Moran at 6:57 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

GOOSING THE NANNY STATE IN CHICAGO

My hometown of Chicago is starting to get quite a reputation for being the laboratory for every loony left idea that’s come down the pike recently. In the late 1980’s, the city followed the lead of Berkley and other enlightened enclaves of the left by making Chicago a nuclear free zone. Presumably, this means that any missiles launched by an enemy at the city will be issued a citation for violating the ordinance if the warheads don’t alter course and blow up some other place, say Madison, Wisconsin.

Then last December, the city became the latest major metropolitan area to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. Now before I hear from the non-smokers who want to take me to task for spreading second hand smoke and thus ruining their health, I would only point to the historic and cultural connections between food, drink, and the nasty weed. Smoking, despite its tarnished reputation, is in fact a social vice, as embedded in the fabric of human interaction as food, alcohol (a more addictive and destructive drug by far) and coffee. And give the food Nazis a few years and they’ll have coffee roasters and growers in their sights.

But a couple of months ago, the City Council decided to give in to the animal rights loonies and ban the sale of Foie Gras in the city’s restaurants. If you’ve never had Foie Gras or don’t know what it is, think liver sausage without the rye bread, dark mustard, and pickle. Made from the livers of geese, its name means “fatty liver” in French. And in order to achieve the best taste and consistency, goose farmers force feed the birds a high fat diet which causes their livers to grow up to 10 times normal size.

Now don’t get me wrong. I feel for the birds just as I feel for the turkeys that are crammed together on turkey farms, never being able to move more than a few feet for their entire lives. And let’s not forget the slaughtering of cattle and pigs, not a pretty sight I’m sure and not very healthy for the animals either.

Animals are bred, raised and slaughtered for the sole purpose of feeding human beings. We grow them as we grow crops like wheat and soy beans. How they meet their end or how they are treated when they are alive should concern us the same way that we should care for any living thing. But animal rights activists look at our food supply in an anthropomorphic way, wishing to ascribe the same moral tenets to food as they do to other humans – sometimes granting the brutes a superior moral frame of reference to people.

This is nuts. It has nothing to do with animals not having “souls” or even the fact that, with very few exceptions, most beasts are not self-aware and thus have a completely different conscious life than humans. It has to do with relative value. A human life – any human life – is more valuable than that of an animal. This self evident construct escapes the animal rights activists whose agitation presupposes no relative difference between man and beast.

But in lobbying for a ban on Foie Gras, the animal rights activists have become quite selective in their pity. In fact, it is pure politics. Foie Gras being an expensive delicacy ostensibly eaten only by the rich, PETA has hit upon an issue that boosts their profile in the activist community, thus assuring an increase in donations while politicians can strut and posture like peacocks in the barnyard, showing off their care and concern for the well being of our feathered friends. And since the delicacy can be passed off as a rich man’s treat, the City Council figured that they could inject a little class warfare into the issue just for good measure.

What they didn’t count on was a revolt by the proletariat against the idea that government should be telling people what moral choices they should or should not be making about what they eat:

Don’t come between foodies and their foie gras.

That was the message sent by Chicago diners who dug into foie gras dishes Monday, on the eve of the city’s ban on foie gras taking effect. High-end restaurants had special foie gras tastings to protest the ban, and even a few down-home sandwich and pizza joints added it to their menus for the occasion.

[snip]

“What’s next?” asked Gadsby, who also hosted an Outlaw Dinner last month at his Noe Restaurant & Bar in Los Angeles, where foie gras will be subject to a statewide ban by 2012. “They’ll outlaw truffles, then lobster, beluga caviar, oysters. There are diners who eat to fill a hunger urge, and there are diners who eat to be dazzled. If you take away the luxury ingredients, how can you dazzle them?”

The Chicago City Council passed the foie gras ban in April, joining California and several European countries that outlawed foie gras alleging animal cruelty.

The “Foie Gras Revolt” has people talking like it’s 1776 rather than 2006:

The ordinance bans only the sale of foie gras, so restaurateurs have speculated that they can get around it by giving away foie gras or serving it at private parties.

Gadsby jokingly wondered whether he could cook with handcuffs on. He said he’d like to hold underground secret foie gras dinners or label foie gras as “duck liver” or “monkfish liver” to sell it.

Meanwhile, various chefs have reported demand for foie gras mushrooming since the ordinance was approved.

Perhaps if we started calling it “Liberty Liver” we could get the anti-Francophiles on our side.

And it’s good to see that there are still some people who take a perfectly practical, all American view of liberty:

Kou Patra and Saurabh Shah, both physicians, attended Gadsby’s dinner on their first day in Chicago after moving from Cleveland. They recently returned from vacationing in France, where they ate foie gras regularly. “I can’t believe we moved to a place where they banned foie gras,” said Patra, 33.

Some Chicagoans are outraged at what they see as a patronizing law, even if they rarely eat foie gras.

“They might as well make a citywide bedtime ordinance,” said bartender David Brown, 29, who feasted on the outlaw ingredients with his wife, Jennifer, at 676. “It’s like banning smoking. If I’m a bartender, I don’t run a health club. We’re adults; we’re allowed to have bad habits.”

This tendency by my hometown City Council to micromanage the behavior and habits of adults is extremely worrisome. It is a harbinger of what may become commonplace in the near future; states and localities taking it upon themselves to shape our diet, eliminating or curtailing foods based not on whether the foodstuffs contain ingredients or additives that are poisonous or will make us sick but rather based on the nebulous and uncertain effect the foods will have on our future health – or, as in the banning of Foie Gras, the effect on animals raised for the sole and exclusive purpose of feeding people.

Travel down that road a bit and you can see the banning of all meat, regardless of how it is grown or managed. This is the goal of PETA of course. And the politicians who voted for this ban and who shamelessly gave in to the activists, should think twice about their surrender the next time they’re enjoying a steak at Harry Carey’s.

By: Rick Moran at 6:16 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

8/22/2006
STILL MISSING: FOX REPORTERS AND COMMON DECENCY
CATEGORY: Media

Michelle Malkin has the right idea regarding the missing Fox news journalists; create a buzz in the blogosphere to keep their plight front and center.

Fox and other news outlets are downplaying the kidnapping, hoping not to exacerbate the situation by giving massive amounts of publicity to the kidnappers which would probably encourage them to hold on to the Yank and the Kiwi in order to milk the notoriety of their crime.

That said, we can certainly do our best to remember them and let their families know that we haven’t forgotten about them.

Michelle reports that Fox management, the journalist’s families, and surprisingly, Palestinian journalists are all working hard for their release. One would hope that our State Department would also be working for a quick resolution as well. (Note: State would have to be working through third parties since we’re not talking to Hamas although I would hope that our government has contact with the PA on some level.)

Michelle questions why the dearth of news on the kidnapped journalists. One would think if an American reporter working for a big time daily or one of the other major nets were kidnapped, there at least would be some updates, some acknowledgement of the situation.

Judging by what this fellow has to say, maybe it’s a good thing that no one is opening their mouths:

Fox has deliberately set itself apart from other news media. Starting at the top with Roger Ailes, the Fox sales pitch has been to deride other media, to declare itself the one source of the real truth, the sole source of ‘fair and accurate’ news reporting. As a result, there’s not a reservoir of kinship or good will with Fox on the part of the rest of the news media. You can’t keep insulting people and then expect friendship when you need it.

They’ve made it a policy to keep a distance between themselves and the rest of the media, far beyond the usual competitive spirit, so that’s where they are: at a distance.

This from media critic Bob Laurence of the San Diego Union-Trib. He must also be the President of the local Union of Louts, Lickspittles, and Losers. It pains me to find out from Mr. Laurence that there is no “reservoir of kinship or good will” for human beings who are in mortal danger of their lives from a bunch of cutthroats. The fact that one of the victims of this unconscionable crime is an American also apparently doesn’t rate any feelings of kinship or good will from that great humanitarian and philistine Mr. Laurence.

And to pretend that the news business is not hyper competitive with the nets savaging each other regularly in order to acquire any edge they can (so much for “kinship”) is to either demonstrate a naivete that calls into question Mr. Laurence’s credentials as an adult or a delusional personality more suited for weaving baskets in a mental ward.

Wouldn’t common decency demand a little “good will” toward a fellow journalist in distress? How about simple human kindness? One would hope that our “reservoir” for such feelings wouldn’t depend on being filled by who we work for or what our politics are.

But for bitter, envious, loutish people like Bob Laurence, the well is dry of human decency.

By: Rick Moran at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

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THE WORLD, POST AUGUST 22ND

Well, the best I can say is that we’re still here.

The fruit and nut cake President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, did not “light up the sky” over Jerusalem as some of our more excitable blog brethren were breathlessly speculating in recent weeks. Perhaps some of us were hoping that rather than light up the sky, he would light up himself and disappear to join the prophet in heaven in a blaze of self-immolated glory.

No such luck.

In fact, it appears judging by the actions of the Iranian government today that it’s just more of the same for a man competing either for “Best Hitler Impersonation in 60 years” or the coveted title of “Most Outrageous Goofball on Planet Earth.” The former making him a dangerous man indeed. The latter still making him a threat but one that we can probably manage without overturning the apple cart in the Middle East.

But that’s the problem with this fellow. Do we take him seriously when he says:

If you want to have good relations with the Iranian people in the future, you should acknowledge the right and the might of the Iranian people, and you should bow and surrender to the might of the Iranian people. If you do not accept this, the Iranian people will force you to bow and surrender.
(HT: LGF)

Or when he says:

Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved…

How to attain the goal of enjoying a world without America or Zionism? Here’s Hassan Abbassi, a Revolutionary Guards intelligence theoretician who teaches at Al-Hussein University and someone considered to be Ahmadinejad’s strategic guru:

We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization… we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.

Personally, I think that it would take far fewer than 29 targets hit to destroy what we now know as America but maybe the thug just wants to be certain. But I urge you not to mention this to the left. You see, by their way of thinking the fact that we have plans to invade Iran means that we are going to invade, no ifs, ands or buts. However, if the lefties see what Abbassi is planning they will be forced to make a 180 degree flip flop and say “Well of course, all countries have plans. That doesn’t mean anything.”

And they’d probably be right. With at least one of those theories. How long do you think it will take them to catch on that they can’t be right about both?

No matter. It is Ahmadinejad’s jew hating, holocaust denying rhetoric that has the sane world up in arms. That and the small matter of his nuclear program. Are we supposed to take the man at his word when he says it is for peaceful purposes only? If so, we are being asked to take the word of a serial exaggerator and liar. For if, as we are led to believe by some, Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric can safely be ignored since he’s only playing to the home folks, do praytell how one can divine when he’s propagandizing and when he’s telling the truth? In other words, who has insight into the man’s soul in order to tell us when he’s lying and when he’s not?

Our betters on the left, of course, Ye needn’t ask. That’s why any attempt to delay, impede, or otherwise destroy his nuclear enrichment capability is seen as just more of the same from the crazy neocons running our government. The dhimmi left has already decided there’s nothing to be done except believe Ahmadinejad because the alternative would mean that they were wrong and George Bush was right.

Never fear, however. We will keep talking to Iran – fat lot of good it will do. But from Iran’s perspective, it helps them play our useful idiots if they seem sincere about talking:

Iran’s semi-official news agency reported today that Tehran has “rejected suspension of its nuclear activities” as demanded by the United Nations Security Council but has proposed a “new formula for resolving the issue through talks.”

The details of the new formula were not immediately apparent.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator delivered Tehran’s response to the ambassadors of Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Switzerland and was briefing them on the substance, reported Iran’s Fars news agency.

Diplomats in Washington, Tehran and European capitals had said yesterday that the Iranian government is willing to enter negotiations and to consider a freeze of the program, but it will not accept a freeze as a precondition for the talks.

Now we’ll have another ring around the rosy at the United Nations as Britain, France, Germany, and the US struggle to come up with sanctions watered down enough so that China and Russia will accept them. Under discussion are sanctions of the harshest sort like denying Iranian leaders the opportunity to fly on foreign airlines and delaying the mullah’s entry into the WTO.

That’s showing ‘em.

In the meantime, Iran is making it very clear that they have a very good reason for keeping their nuclear program under wraps:

Iran turned away U.N. inspectors from an underground site meant to shelter its uranium enrichment program from attack, diplomats said Monday, while the country’s supreme leader insisted Tehran will not give up its contentious nuclear technology.

Iran’s unprecedented refusal to allow access to its underground facility at Natanz could seriously hamper U.N. attempts to ensure Tehran is not trying to produce nuclear weapons, and might violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, diplomats and U.N. officials told The Associated Press.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, the diplomats and officials from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, described other signs of Iranian defiance.

They said Iran denied entry visas to two IAEA inspectors in the last few weeks after doing the same earlier this summer for Chris Charlier, the expert heading the U.N. agency’s team to Tehran. Additionally, they said, other inspectors were given only single-entry visas during their visits to Iran last week, instead of the customary multiple-entry permits.

And just in case we didn’t get the message to “bow and surrender” to the Iranian regime, they tried a little strong arm action today:

Iran attacked and seized control of a Romanian oil rig working in its Persian Gulf waters this morning one week after the Iranian government accused the European drilling company of ``hijacking’’ another rig.

An Iranian naval vessel fired on the rig owned by Romania’s Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) in the Salman field and took control of its radio room at about 7:00 a.m. local time, Lulu Tabanesku, Grup’s representative in the United Arab Emirates said in a phone interview from Dubai today.

``The Iranians fired at the rig’s crane with machine guns,’’ Tabanesku said. ``They are in control now and we can’t contact the rig.’’ The Romanian company has 26 workers on the platform, he said.

Grup had a contract with an Iranian oil firm whose activities were suspended last year due to corruption charges and (lefty tin foil hat alert) for having dealings with Halliburton. Evidently, the Iranians feel the rig is theirs even if they’re not paying for it.

Sounds to me like Haliburton is trying to engineer a confrontation between Iran and the West. If so, they did a lousy job picking Romania as the pigeon. I mean, you think they would have at least tried for a “B-List” European country like Spain or Portugal or maybe Monaco. Hell, Lichtenstein would have been a better choice than Romania for God’s sake!

Seriously, the western media will simply file this incident under “Outrageous Iranian Provocations” and let it go at that. How much longer they can keep pretending that “wiping Israel off the map” and “bow and surrender” is not really worth reporting on remains to be seen. Hopefully they will realize it sooner rather than later.

Otherwise, we’ll be the ones seeing a “light in the sky” someday.

UPDATE

Allah has a nice round up of blog and MSM react to the news that the Iranians want to talk but not if suspending their program is a precondition.

That nuke facility at Natanz shows activity that denotes centrifuge assembly. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth…

By: Rick Moran at 11:10 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

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THE RICK MORAN SHOW - LIVE

Join me this morning from 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM Central Time for The Rick Moran Show on Wideawakes Radio.

Well, it’s August 22nd and so far, we’re all still here. But it’s a good day to take a microscope to Iran and its unbalanced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Who is he? Where did he come from? Is he serious? We’ll also take a realistic look at the many rumors and controversies surrounding what many observers are calling “The Most Dangerous Man in the World.”

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By: Rick Moran at 6:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)