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10/17/2006
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.

A busy show today. We’ll look at the travesty of justice in the Lynne Stewart case. We’ll also examine the box that President Musharraf is in and what that might mean for Pakistan’s role in the war. What’s really going on in Iraq? We’ll discuss some interesting news. And politics is still front and center as we begin the countdown to election day.

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

10/16/2006
PHOENIX RISING
CATEGORY: CHICAGO BEARS

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BRIAN URLACHER IS AT A LOSS FOR WORDS FOLLOWING THE BEARS BIZZARE 24-23 COME FROM BEHIND VICTORY IN PHOENIX ON MONDAY NIGHT

Stravnisky penned a ballet with the myth of the Phoenix as a theme that remains one of my favorite pieces of music of all time. In the last movement of the piece, the composer uses an extraordinarily dramatic combination of jarring melody and uplifting counterpoint to portray the bird’s rebirth after having consumed itself in fire.

That combination of music and the theme of coming back from the dead brings to mind the performance of Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears’ defense in the second half of their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. Stifling the Cardinal offense by holding them to a field goal for the last two quarters, my beloveds roared back from a 20 point deficit to pull out a miraculous 24-23 victory on a night where the offense might as well have stayed in the locker room.

Urlacher was everywhere, playing the game as a man possessed. In the fourth quarter alone he stripped the ball from Cardinals running back Edgerrin James that was subsequently picked up by Peanut Tillman and run in for a score. He blocked 2 passes, delivered several titanic blows to receivers and running backs while making 6 solo tackles. NFL analysts routinely talk about Ray Lewis of Baltimore as the best middle linebacker in the game today because of his ability to take over a game and dominate it. I daresay that those analysts should run a tape of Urlachers performance in the fourth quarter and perhaps alter their judgement about who the number one defensive player in the league truly is.

And every one of Urlacher’s plays was absolutely necessary. That’s because the vaunted Bear’s offense performed a little ballet of their own - obligingly handing the ball to the Cardinals on 6 different occasions and pirouetting in circles for most of the night. Much credit must go to the Cardinals whose defense looked more like the Bears’ defense at times than Chicago’s crew. Flying around the field with enthusiasm and abandon, they delivered enormous hits on Chicago’s receivers, several times separating them from the ball to prevent gains. They ganged up on running back Thomas Jones, allowing the Bears’ star a measly 39 yards on 11 carries. And their blitz schemes befuddled Bears’ quarterback Rex “The Wonder Dog” Grossman.

Indeed, Wonder Dog had his absolute worst day as a pro, going a horrendous 14-37 for 148 yards with 4 interceptions and 2 fumbles. The offense could only manage a field goal and never seemed to be in sync. Again, much of the credit for the Bears’ confusion should go to the Arizona defense. But in the end, it was the defense on the other side of the field that won the game for my beloveds.

In addition to the fourth quarter strip and TD by Tillman, the defense also caused a Matt Leinart fumble which was returned by safety Mike Brown for a score with just seconds left in the third quarter. Leinart performed as well as one could expect from a rookie. After a spectacular first quarter where he went 8-9 and 2 TD’s, the Bears defense asserted themselves and stifled the youngster for most of the rest of the game. The Heisman Trophy winner ended up going 24-42 for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did a good job with the two minute drill late in the game and got his team within very makable field goal distance (40 yards). Unfortunately for Phoenix, pro bowl place kicker from last year Neil Rakers missed to the left and the game was over.

But the truly magical moment in the game occurred with less than 3 minutes to go. After a brave stop by the defense, the Cardinals were forced to punt on fourth down. Taking the high kick was Devon Hester, one the smallest men in the NFL and certainly one of the fastest. Running straight up the field, he juked one tackler and ran by two more potential stoppers for a jaw dropping 82 yard punt return that put the Bears ahead to stay 24-32. The Bears announcers anointed Hester “The Windy City Flyer” following an equally spectacular punt return for a TD in week 1 during the team’s 26-0 drubbing of the Packers. I think that might be one nickname that sticks.

No team can play at the top of its game for an entire season. But with a defense like the Bears’ - speed, ferocity, and big playmakers - a lot of defects can be hidden and a lot of games can be won that probably should have been chalked up as defeats. Could this mean that the Bears have a chance to go undefeated for the year? The odds are heavily against it.

But don’t talk odds to Urlacher and the Bears defense.

By: Rick Moran at 11:58 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

REYNOLDISTAS VS. HEWITTONIANS: WHO’S RIGHT?
CATEGORY: Politics

There is a great divide in American politics today. No - it’s not between those who support the Iraq War and those who oppose it. Nor is it between people who support gay marriage and those who believe marriage should be between a man and a woman - although there are some women (and men for that matter) who should be subject to a constitutional amendment outlawing their marriage of any kind under any circumstances to anyone, anywhere, anytime. We could call it the “My First Wife Amendment.” I predict swift passage and enthusiastic enforcement.

Actually, the largest chasm separating voters today is entirely between two rival subsets of Republicans. One group believes that the GOP is toast on election day and actually looks forward to the drubbing the party will take at the polls. The other group rejects the opinion polls entirely and believes that the GOP will somehow find a way to maintain control of both houses of Congress.

Given their particular eminence, I thought I would name the two groups after the most visible proponents of their respective worldviews; Glenn Reynolds “Pre Mortem” post on GOP chances on election day reads like a combination clinical diagnostician’s description of the epidemiology of a fatal illness and a New York Times obit:

As I’ve said before, the Republicans deserve to lose, though alas the Democrats don’t really deserve to win, either. I realize that you go to war with the political class you have, but even back in the 1990s it was obvious that we had a lousy political class. It hasn’t improved, but the challenges have gotten greater. Can the country continue to do well, with such bad political leadership? I hope so, because I see no sign of improvement, no matter who wins next month.

Hugh Hewitt’s infectious enthusiasm about Republican chances on election day reminds me of stories my father used to tell us about the attitudes of some people at Irish wakes. Even the most vile, wife beating old sot would optimistically be spoken of as if he were in heaven and having a nip of the “crature” with old St. Peter:

One of the few advantages of having been a lifelong Cleveland Indians and Browns fan is the awful knowledge that Democrats –and some Republicans– appear to lack that certain victory really isn’t so certain. (The Indians are only team to enter the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series with a lead and lose the series, and football fans far and wide know of The Drive and The Fumble. And I’m not even bringing up The Shot.)

October, 2002 wasn’t easy going for the GOP either, and after the tragic death of Paul Wellstone –but before the shameless exploitation of his memorial service– very few of the pros thought much of Republican chances to hold the Senate.

It’s the Reyonoldistas vs. the Hewittonians and there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. The pessimists scoff at what they consider the naivete of the Hewittonians while the optimists are livid at the Reyonoldistas for what they view as their defeatism.

Who’s right?

The latest election projection by Blogging Ceasar would seem to make liars out of the Hewittonians:

What didn’t happen last week has happened this week. For the first time since I began projecting the 2006 mid-term elections, the Democrats are projected to take back the House. Following a slew of district polls highly-favorable to the Democrats, 7 races have flipped to blue over the last week. In truth, these projections more closely reflect the prevailing winds of political punditry we are hearing across the country.

I do think that, barring another October Surprise, we have hit bottom from a Republican perspective. With 19 GOP seats now painted blue and 8 more within 2 points of going to the Democrats, that puts the bottom at 27. Right now, I see that as the maximum number of possible losses the GOP could sustain. (The number could grow by two or three if everything goes right for the Democrats.)

Of course, the Hewittonians fire back that the polls are wrong, that it isn’t that bad. In fact, Hugh Hewitt himself also believes the Democrats have hit their high water mark and the the chances for the GOP to hold onto control of the House are trending upwards:

It took 48 hours of loose nukes in the control of bad hair kooks to get the electorate refocused on the stakes in November’s elections. But even before North Korea reminded the electorate of the wonders of Clinton-Albright era diplomacy, even as “The Path to 9/11″ and The Looming Tower had done, the Foley effect had begun to dissipate as the reality of the choice before the country broke through even the MSM’s fascination with the destruction of the Republicans because of the notorious IMs.

Now Santorum in Pennsylvania, DeWine in Ohio, and Corker in Tennessee have showed strong momentum to match that of Allen’s in Virginia. Jim Talent will win in Missouri, and Democratic nominee McCaskill’s remarkable ability to churn out gaffes might make it a breakaway. Key Congressional candidates have the same momentum, as does Bob Beuprez in Colorado. Arnold out west and Charles Crist in Florida are crushing their Democratic opponents and with them, Democratic enthusiasm in those states.

As of today, the GOP has apparently thrown Mike DeWine to the wolves by withdrawing promises of money and support, in effect writing off the seat. DeWine has just recently broken 40% in the polls and it’s a long, hard, climb to victory from where he is now. If the national party is writing off a seat where their incumbent trails by 5 points 3 weeks to election day, you know there is something very bad bubbling beneath the surface of those polls that has them worried.

Realistically, the Republicans still have a chance of hanging on to their majorities in both House and Senate - as long as no more little bombshells are dropped by the Democrats. But for the GOP to win through to victory, several races must break their way on election day. The fact that the GOP get out the vote program is the strongest in the history of American politics could certainly tip some of those closer races back into the Republican colummn. Analyst Jay Cost at RCP blog:

Depending upon the ranker and the model, the probability of a GOP retention ranges between a little better than 33% and a little worse than 50%. This would mean that - following Rothenberg’s categories - the House itself falls somewhere between “Toss-Up” and “Toss-Up/Tilt Democratic.”

And note that these estimates are predicated upon the currently bleak environment for the Republicans staying constant. As things stand right now, the odds of a GOP retention, according to these arguments of these rankers, are somewhere between 1/2 and 1/1. If Cook, Rothenberg and CQ are your guide - you should not take the GOP at even money, but anything less than that is a bet worth taking.

Given the horrific spate of bad news for the GOP over the last month or so, that is actually a Hewittonian prediction. If someone had said to me last week that the GOP had a 50% chance of retaining control, I would have danced a jig for joy.

Indeed, in addition to the most expensive and sophisticated GOTV effort in American political history, the GOP will benefit - as they did in 2002 and 2004 - from their dominance at the state level. Their control of so many state legislatures and governorships during the redistricting process may have insulated just enough of their incumbents from the ravages of this election season.

And Michael Barone makes the case that the electorate is too divided to give the Dems too much of a victory even if they manage to wrest control of the House:

They’re more likely to prevail, if they do, by something like the narrow margins by which Republicans have prevailed in the five House elections from 1996 to 2004. By historical standards, there’s been strikingly little variation in those five elections. A Democratic victory of this magnitude would represent the kind of small oscillation that was commonplace in eras when one party or the other was dominant. The difference is that, with the electorate so evenly divided, a small shift can produce changes in party control.

Political realignments occur because of events that have deep demographic impact and when one party stands for new ideas that command majority support. The Iraq war (2,500 deaths) and our current economy (4.6 percent unemployment) are not events of the magnitude of the Civil War (600,000 dead) or the Great Depression (25 percent unemployment).

Moreover, voters’ complaints about George W. Bush and the Republican Congress are more about competence than ideology. Why is Bush’s second-term job approval so much lower than Bill Clinton’s even though the economy has been in similarly good shape during both periods? Iraq. Katrina.

Barone manages to plant one foot squarely in the Reynoldista and Hewittonian camps at the same time. But Barone actually hit the nail on the head last week when he wrote this:

I know that a lot of Americans long to return to the holiday from history that we enjoyed from the fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989 to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But, alas, while we were on holiday, the forces of evil determined to destroy us were gathering strength.

Can you imagine if the Democrats had actually had the balls to run a positive, upbeat campaign that would have promised America a “return to normalcy” a la Warren G. Harding? Of course, the Democrats aren’t running any kind of an organized campaign at all - unless you want to call the orchestrated sleaze in the Foley caper a campaign. But instead of sitting by and watching as Republicans self destruct, suppose they had revealed their real feelings about Iraq and the War on Terror while promising a return to a 9/10 kind of America?

That may be a theme that resonates with the American people - if not in 2006 then almost certainly in 2008. The farther away from 9/11 we get, the harder it is to engage the public in the harsh realities of the world as it is - not as Democrats would wish it to be. Hence, their calls for the organized bribery sessions with Kim Jong Il of North Korea and Ahmadinejad of Iran that negotiations would turn into with those two thugs would, as Hewitt writes, bring us back to the Clintonian years of sleepwalking through history. Until we were once again rousted from our reveries by another terrorist attack.

I don’t know if the Republicans can pull out an electoral victory these last three weeks before the vote. But I think that the Hewittonians are probably right to be upbeat. In the end, hope and optimism are always better than bitterness and despair. That goes for politics as well as war.

Something we should keep in mind if the Democrats take over…

By: Rick Moran at 2:18 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

NO LIVE SHOW TODAY
CATEGORY: General

For those anticipating another scintilating bit of culture and politics from me and my radio show today, I must once again disappoint.

Kender’s having problems with one of our machines. He is battling with the beast as we speak but may not survive the ordeal. Until he is triumphant (hopefully later today), the Rick Moran Show will broadcast only in the outer reaches of your imagination.

Tomorrow, fer sure.

By: Rick Moran at 6:52 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/15/2006
IN THE NEWS
CATEGORY: Blogging

I got a very nice write up in the Daily Herald, the largest suburban newspaper in Chicago (circ. 770,000).

The reporter asked Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morrissey about me and I was surprised and pleased at what both those gents had to say:

Rick is a superb blogger who brings sharp analysis and very good humor to any story he writes on. He’s often ahead of the blogging pack,” wrote Hugh Hewitt, a syndicated radio talk show host who runs one of the most popular right-wing blogs and wrote a book on the topic titled “Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World.”

Hugh has been one of this site’s strongest backers almost from the beginning. His encouragement has always been most appreciated.

Ed Morrissey still wants me to change the name of my blog:

“Rick’s blog name is a dirty lie. Rick is one of the most sane and rational writers in the blogosphere, and his posts are always fun to read. He does not issue polemics, but passionate and rational arguments that always advance the debate,” wrote Ed Morrisey, writer of the popular right-wing Captain’s Quarters blog.

And another Chicago area blogger Dave Schuler of the excellent site Glittering Eye weighed in as well:

“I think he is one of the fairest and the savviest of the bloggers,” said Schuler, who describes himself as a centrist. “He’s an analyst. You always learn something when you read one of Rick’s posts.”

Thanks to all my blogbuds for their support.

AND FOR ALL OF YOU VISITING VIA THE DAILY HERALD, WELCOME! ON THE LEFT SIDEBAR ARE SOME CATEGORIES FOR ARTICLES THAT YOU CAN USE TO PERUSE THE SITE FOR WHAT INTERESTS YOU.

AND IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN MY RADIO SHOW, VISIT THE WIDEAWAKES RADIO SITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SOME OF THE BEST CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO HOSTS AROUND.

TALK RADIO THAT PULLS NO PUNCHES - ALL CONSERVATIVE ALL THE TIME!

By: Rick Moran at 10:08 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

GO WEST, YOUNG BEARS…GO WEST

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REX “THE WONDER DOG” GROSSMAN

My beloved Bears may be undefeated, untied, and untouched this 2006 season. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone to their heads. Their latest challenge against the Phoenix Cardinals will be no less a test than any other NFL team. Brian Urlacher and Co. appear to be ready for the multi-faceted Cardinals offense when they take the field Monday night before a national television audience for the second time in three weeks.

The AZ offense has the potential to give the Bear’s corners nightmares with talent galore at WR and a quarterback in Matt Leinart who appears to be the real deal. The Cardinals also feature an aging but still dangerous Edgerrin James as running back. James may have lost a step but he is still a mortal weapon catching passes in the flat. And WR Anquan Boldin is an emerging star in the league with speed to burn and terrific hands.

Anyone who saw the USC-Notre Dame game last year knows that Matt Leinart, while still young and raw, is a competitor of unusual intensity. His ability to avoid the rush will be sorely tested but he is extremely capable of running out of trouble if the situation calls for it. And he seems to be poised beyond his years in the pocket.

But the Bear’s defense, while fairly young themselves, are nevertheless a mature group of professionals and do not plan on taking the Cardinals lightly:

We’re impressed with them offensively, especially Leinart,” said safety Mike Brown. “He’s very impressive; the poise that he shows, the confidence that he shows. He’s playing pretty well. He’s definitely not playing like a rookie. He’s playing like a veteran type of guy and we definitely have our hands full because they’ve got some great skill position players.”

The old Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals franchise is a rival from the pork and beans days of the NFL. When the franchise was lodged in Chicago (1922-59), the Cardinals were the city’s poor stepchild; a mediocre club barely eking out a living, playing their games at the old Comiskey park before a small, but rabid fan base. It is said that skinflint Charles Comiskey, in addition to charging rent to the Cardinals for playing in his precious ballpark, also billed the NFL team for damage to the turf (in addition to taking a hefty slice of concessions and ticket revenue).

Where the Bears dominated the league in the 30’s and 40’s, the Cardinals were stuck on awful. Posting 9 losing seasons in a row, they finally broke through with a championship season in 1947. Their playoff record was 1-1 - another playoff appearance in 1948 being the limit of success for the franchise.

Strangely, there never really developed the kind of intense rivalry with the Bears that one might expect during those years the Cardinals stunk up Comiskey Park. At least from the Bear’s point of view. Usually out of the running for the championship by mid season, the Cardinals looked forward to their games with the Bears immensely but there are really no storied games that jump out of the series’ history as evidence of any special feelings of hatred or revenge. Although the game in 1953 may rank as one of the most bizarre from the standpoint of motiviation.

The Cardinals were heading for another winless season and were scheduled to play the Bears the last game of the year. Coach Joe Stydahar of the Cardinals let it be known that he would withhold their final game checks unless the players came through and avoided the winless record. Sure enough, the motivated Cardinals came through, taming the Bears 24-17 to finish the season 1-11.

And that was pretty much the story of the franchise’s existence. Moving to St. Louis in 1959 (just prior to the league becoming hugely popular) and then angering St. Louis fans when owner Bill Bidwell took the team to Arizona for the 1988 season, the Cardinals have been to the playoffs only twice since they moved from Chicago. They may be considered one of the most unsucessful franchises in the history of the NFLm having never won a playoff game and never been to the Super Bowl

But ex-Vikings coach Dennis Green has the Cardinals playing hard and smart this year. With Leinart, they almost certainly have a stellar quarterback for the future and may even help them to the playoffs this year. So my beloveds better not come out flat against these Cardinals lest they come in for a rude awakening.

Look for a close game through 2 1/2 quarters with my beloveds pulling away in the second half to win big.

Final: Bears 37 - Phoenix 6.

CORRECTION:

I mention above the Cardinals have never won a playoff game. This is obviously incorrect since they won the Championship in 1947. And Gwain’s Ghost painfully reminds me that in 1998, the Cardinals went to the playoffs and upended Troy Aikman’s Cowboys.

When I lived in St. Louis, I got so used to hearing that refrain - Cardinals have never won a playoff game - that I totally forgot about ‘98.

Looks like no playoffs this year either…

By: Rick Moran at 8:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

10/14/2006
NO GREATER LOVE
CATEGORY: War on Terror

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, center, sent this photo home from Iraq days before he died.

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

(”To An Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Housman)

Garden Grove, California is a “stiller town” today. The city of 166,000 lost one of its favorite sons on September 29 when Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy SEAL, performed one of those acts of selfless courage that defines the term heroism.

His SEAL team was in support of a joint US-Iraqi operation in Ramadi when a grenade was thrown through the door of their sniper hideout. It bounced off Monsoor’s chest and fell to the floor mere feet from 4 of his comrades. With every natural instinct for self preservation in his body and mind screaming for him to flee, Michael Monsoor made a conscious, rational choice; he deliberately fell on the grenade sacrificing his life so that his comrades would live.

In the grand scheme of things, Monsoor’s death should be considered no more nor less a tragedy than those of any other American or innocent Iraqi in this war. Each life lost violently cut short. Each death a blow endured by family, friends, and neighbors. Every man, woman, and child taken leaving behind only scattered memories of what they were like when they trod the earth, whole and human, smiling and laughing, loving and caring.

But in Garden Grove today - and for those of us who read and marvel at Michael Monsoor’s last heroic act - there are the questions with no good answers. Questions we ask of ourselves. Perhaps questions we’d like to ask of Michael. We put ourselves in Michael’s position in that sniper’s nest with the grenade lying on the ground and the chasm open, gaping beneath our feet. We rightly ask ourselves what we would have done? Why, Michael? How?

Was it something in his training as a Navy SEAL that gave him this otherworldly courage to commend his life and spirit to his friends? Or was it something even deeper. Something he carried around as part of himself all his life; a product of upbringing, of faith, and yes, of love.

Surely love must be considered as an answer to some of those questions. And we can find clues that Michael’s last thoughts were about love as he made the choice to die in the words of his comrades and friends:

(Patrick) Barnes said his friend was an adventurer who enjoyed traveling in Europe while he was deployed in Italy and loved snowboarding, fast cars and motorcycles.

He was also “honest, straightforward and a great friend.”

“He was selective about the friends he made,” Barnes said, fighting back tears. “But when you became his friend, you became his brother.”

And from his brothers in arms, a description of a purposeful man:

“He was just a fun-loving guy,” said a 26-year-old petty officer 2nd class who went through the grueling 29-week SEAL training with Monsoor. “Always got something funny to say, always got a little mischievous look on his face.”

Other SEALS described the Garden Grove, Calif., native as a modest and humble man who drew strength from his family and his faith. His father and brother are former Marines, said a 31-year-old petty officer 2nd class.

Prior to his death, Monsoor had already demonstrated courage under fire. He has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions May 9 in Ramadi, when he and another SEAL pulled a team member shot in the leg to safety while bullets pinged off the ground around them.

Incredibly, Michael failed to qualify for the SEALs the first time out. The brutal qualifications course that is designed to test both the physical stamina and mental toughness of the individual sailor proved too much for him - as it does for 75% of all candidates.

But what’s incredible is that Michael didn’t give up. He tried again and succeeded in his dream to be part of the best of the best. And he accepted the credo of the Special Forces warrior:

“One of the things that is not obvious at first glance is what makes a special operator and that is an absolute internal mandate to go into the most difficult combat situations you can, to face death, and to win. That’s what it takes to get through training. That’s what most of the guys want when they start training and then training reinforces that premise. To go into very risky, very personally risky situations, where it is one on one, and go duke it out with the bad guys.That’s what SOF guys want.”

What manner of man places himself in harms way with such enthusiasm and abandon? I tried answering that question on the occasion of the single worst day in the history of the Navy SEALs when 11 men lost their lives in an operation in Afghanistan:

We may have known these kind of men when they were children and young boys. They always seemed to have a group of admirers trailing them around, trying to keep up with their adventurous and audacious spirit. They would have had an easy way with grownups who also liked and admired them. They were good at sports but rarely bragged about their accomplishments. They were fiercely loyal to their friends and were always there if they needed defending.

Later in life, you would probably see a quiet confidence in the young man that was striking in that it made him seem older than his years. He would have a small circle of friends who were fiercely loyal to him. A natural leader, you would have found it easy to take orders from him and delighted when he gave out praise and crestfallen when he would criticize.

At bottom, the young man would have a calling, a desire to serve. It would manifest itself most noticeably by the serious way in which he would approach planning his life. Goal oriented to a fault, you would be hard pressed to remember a goal that he set for himself that he didn’t achieve.

The SEALs then takes this raw material and in the crucible of a torturous training program that tests both the physical stamina and mental toughness of the volunteer, they forge a warrior who lives to fight, fights to win, and never quits.

We will never know what went through Michael Monsoor’s mind as he leapt upon that grenade. My own belief (and hope) is that Michael’s final moments seemed to him to last a lifetime, the seconds slowing to a crawl to give him the chance to reflect on how lucky he had been to have so many to speak so highly of him after he was gone, to mourn for those who would feel the pain of his loss. And I have no doubt he would have had a colorful curse or two for the enemy that had defeated him in life but that he was cheating with his own heroic death.

Michael Monsoor was scheduled to leave Iraq in less than two weeks. His friends were planning a welcome home Halloween bash - his favorite holiday. Perhaps it was a fatalism that affects most warriors but Michael’s last email to his friend Danny Wright seemed eerily prescient regarding his fate:

Wright said Monsoor had sent him an e-mail two days before he died.

“He’d said he was proud of me,” he recalled. “And he told me to continue pursuing my dreams. It was as if he was saying goodbye and wishing me luck with my life.”

Monsoor is survived by his parents, two brothers, a sister, nieces and nephews…”

Michael is also survived by us: A grateful nation who will recall his sacrifice and the sacrifices of all the others with awe and a sense of obligation for a debt that we can never repay, only vow never to forget.

By: Rick Moran at 7:17 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (35)

10/13/2006
IRAQ: THE WITHDRAWAL CLOCK IS OFFICIALLY TICKING

Regardless of whether the Democrats take over the House and Senate in November, it seems clear that our foreign policy elites have decided that the War in Iraq is a lost cause and the only viable strategy should be to get our troops out as fast as possible.

There is no other way to view the recommendations that will be forthcoming from the Iraq Study Group headed up by Bush family friend and foreign policy blue blood James Baker:

A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, “Stability First” and “Redeploy and Contain,” both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

More telling, however, is the ruling out of two options last month. One advocated minor fixes to the current war plan but kept intact the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections. The second proposed that coalition forces focus their attacks only on Al Qaeda and not the wider insurgency.

Instead, the commission is headed toward presenting President Bush with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, “Stability First,” argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.

As I wrote about here, this is hardly a “Study Group” at all. Their job? It isn’t what their legislative mandate says it is:

“The Iraq Study Group will conduct a forward-looking, independent assessment of the current and prospective situation on the ground in Iraq, its impact on the surrounding region, and consequences for U.S. interests.

Instead, the Baker Commission, as it is coming to be called, was set up for the sole and exclusive purpose of giving both Republican and Democratic politicians cover for our retreat from Iraq. The Washington Post sniffed this out almost immediately:

The group has attracted little attention beyond foreign policy elites since its formation this year. But it is widely viewed within that small world as perhaps the last hope for a midcourse correction in a venture they generally agree has been a disaster.

The reason, by and large, is the involvement of Baker, 76, the legendary troubleshooter who remains close to the first President Bush and cordial with the second. Many policy experts think that if anyone can forge bipartisan consensus on a plan for extricating the United States from Iraq —and then successfully pitch that plan to a president who has so far seemed impervious to outside pressure—it is the man who put together the first Gulf War coalition, which evicted Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991.

Our worst fears regarding the Commission seems to have been confirmed by leaks to the New York Sun about the two plans under consideration. Both plans explicitly reject the idea of winning through to what the President has defined as “victory:” A stable, democratic Iraq capable of defending itself from the murderous terrorists who are seeking to bring down the current government with the help of outside powers.

In short, the “Baker Solution” is a recipe for defeat and retreat. No amount of spin will change the fact that once we leave Iraq, the entire world will see that our enemies in Iran and Syria as well as al-Qaeda were successful in inflicting enough pain on the American people to cause our precipitous withdrawal.

The first plan especially, is maddening. It grants what appears to be about 75% of what under any circumstances would be considered “victory” and then yanks the troops from Iraq before they can finish the job:

The president also said he was not averse to changing tactics. But he repeated that the strategic goal in Iraq is to build “a country which can defend itself, sustain itself, and govern itself.” He added, “The strategic goal is to help this young democracy succeed in a world in which extremists are trying to intimidate rational people in order to topple moderate governments and to extend the caliphate.”

But the president’s strategic goal is at odds with the opinion of Mr. Baker’s expert working groups, which dismiss the notion of victory in Iraq. The “Stability First” paper says, “The United States should aim for stability particularly in Baghdad and political accommodation in Iraq rather than victory.”

Stabilizing Baghdad, and bringing the bulk of insurgent groups into the political process is by any definition, “staying the course.” Prime Minister al-Maliki has already successfully negotiated with more than a dozen insurgent groups, including tribal militias who are now battling al-Qaeda terrorists instead of American soldiers. And American casualties have skyrocketed the last three months because we have transferred the bulk of our combat forces to Baghdad in order to try and bring a modicum of peace to the bloody chaos in that tragic city.

Leaving the rest undone - training the Iraqi army and assisting the new government with some of its thornier problems having to do with militias and death squads - is almost incomprehensible. The problem, as the elites see it, is that Iraq has stressed the army, complicated our relations with our friends in the Middle East, roiled domestic consensus at home to fight the War on Terror, and been a general distraction from what they believe should be our goal - getting to the “root causes” of terrorism and solving problems like the Israeli-Palestinian question as well as the insularity and poverty of Muslim states.

But why bother with the rest if you’re not planning on finishing the job? It has been my contention for many months - spelled out most recently here - that if we are not going to attempt victory then it is immoral to ask our men and women to place themselves in harm’s way for some face saving solution. That’s the Kissinger Viet Nam formulation. I thought it stupid, wasteful and immoral at the time and still feel that way today. The only business government has in asking young men to die is in the cause of victory. Anything less is state sponsored murder. In a free society and even with an all volunteer army, national leaders should not use the lives of its young men to make geopolitical statements or “save face,” or prove how much suffering we can endure (as the Nixon-Kissinger logic went after they decided we couldn’t win).

Once it is determined that we cannot win (or in this case, do not have the national will to win), we should admit defeat and withdraw the troops immediately. Whatever failed state Iraq becomes we will just have to deal with it in the context of the rest of the Global War on Terror. Yes it will complicate our efforts enormously. But we should have thought about that before wasting the selfless courage and spirit of our military in a war that we were not willing to see through to a victorious conclusion.

Will Bush go along with anything the Baker Commission recommends? The ISG will release its report in December, after the November elections. I have no doubt that the President will find himself under enormous pressure to accept withdrawal from Iraq based on the Commission’s criteria. Although Bush has proven himself to be one of the most stubborn Presidents in recent history I doubt that he, Rumsfeld, and Cheney can hold out against the entire foreign policy and defense establishments as well as majorities in both Houses of Congress. He will have to reluctantly agree to some kind of withdrawal plan short of victory.

And that’s when it will become very tricky indeed. The Administration will be forced to sit down with both Syria and Iran in order to get those two states to stop funding and supplying the insurgents - a task made extremely difficult by the fact that neither country wants to do us any favors. So withdrawal will go foreword leaving a weak Iraqi government that will, as some analysts believe, morph into a military dictatorship or worse that will have a mandate to bring order out of the spiralling violence. And the dream of Iraqi democracy will die an ignoble death.

In fact, the Baker Commission sees this as probably the best near term solution:

If we are able to promote representative, representative government, not necessarily democracy, in a number of nations in the Middle East and bring more freedom to the people of that part of the world, it will have been a success,” he said.

That distinction is crucial, according to one member of the expert working groups. “Baker wants to believe that Sunni dictators in Sunni majority states are representative,” the group member, who requested anonymity, said.

It has become clear in the last few months that our democracy experiment in Iraq was in more trouble from defeatists and political opponents at home than it was from either al-Qaeda or the insurgency. Even the British, seeing the ascendancy of the anti-war Democrats in November and suffering from their own disillusionment, appear ready to leave. All that appears to be left to do is determine how fast we get our troops out of danger and what kind of spin will be given to this massive failure of American will which will attempt to salve our consciences and soothe our feelings about losing a war that should have been won.

By: Rick Moran at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (50)

10/12/2006
COOLING THE PLANET BY BURNING SKEPTICS
CATEGORY: Politics, Science

You got to hand it some some global warming advocates. When it comes to getting revenge on anyone who would dare question their precious suppositions on climate change, they’ve demonstrated the uncanny ability to channel the ghost of Torquemada while recreating the horror of the Salem Witch Trials:

A U.S. based environmental magazine that both former Vice President Al Gore and PBS newsman Bill Moyers, for his October 11th global warming edition of “Moyers on America” titled “Is God Green?” have deemed respectable enough to grant one-on-one interviews to promote their projects, is now advocating Nuremberg-style war crimes trials for skeptics of human caused catastrophic global warming.

Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”

Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

Gore and Moyers have not yet commented on Grist’s advocacy of prosecuting skeptics of global warming with a Nuremberg-style war crimes trial. Gore has used the phrase “global warming deniers” to describe scientists and others who don’t share his view of the Earth’s climate. It remains to be seen what Gore and Moyers will have to say about proposals to make skepticism a crime comparable to Holocaust atrocities.

If Gore and Moyers are smart, they’ll keep their mouths shut and pretend they’ve never heard of Mr. Roberts. This won’t be too difficult due to the fact that few serious people have heard of Grist Magazine whose internet tag line is “Doom and Gloom with a sense of Humor.”

Yeah. Pretty funny.

Roberts himself is something of a newt:

David was born and raised in the South. A revelatory summer working in Yellowstone National Park convinced him that it was not the world, but just the part where he lived, that sucked, so he moved out West. After way too many years in Montana pursuing graduate degrees in philosophy (no, really), he was lured out of the academy by the siren song of the heralded internet “boom” — about six months too late. He was sinking ever further into the Seattle swamp of tech work, having already hit Amazon.com, IMDb.com, and Microsoft, when the fine folks at Grist threw him a life preserver in December 2003. (Total profits from stock options: $57. Meaningful work: priceless.)

What we have hear ladies and gents is a gen-ew-wine, dyed in the wool, bona fide moonbat. In fact, the blurb about placing global warming skeptics on trial in some kind of international forum is given after Robert’s enthusiastic response to a book on global warming written by none other than George Monbiot.

That’s right. The namesake of the sobriquet “moonbat” inspired one of his disciples to prove just how truly moonbatty he really is by advocating putting on trial people who disagree with him.

I love it when life serves up little tidbits of irony like that. Almost makes one want to believe in the fates. Or at the very least, destiny.

Is this attitude widespread among the advocates for drastic action on climate change? Probably not so with scientists. But listening to Al Gore recently and his global warming “deniers” rhetoric, one gets the sense (well..one always gets the sense with Gore) that he’s about ready to fall of the deep end. Gore takes rejection of his pet theories the same way a schizophrenic takes someone challenging his visions of demons perched on the shoulders of people sitting next to him on the subway.

When someone tries to explain to the mentally ill that their delusions are nothing more than a manifestation of the symptoms of their sickness, they earnestly try and convince the skeptic that yes indeed, you have a little man with horns and a tail standing on your shoulder as we speak and he’s whispering into your ear right now. For Gore and many of his global warming warriors, this kind of crazed earnestness brooks no opposition and overcomes any latent intellectual curiosity they may have about the subject.

Indeed, this idea that global warming skeptics are no better than climate nazis is becoming more and more acceptable among the Luddites, the greenies, the greedy NGO’ers (who profit most handsomely by advocating governmental “solutions” to global warming), and that small subset of westerners who, bored to tears as the result of accumulated fame and wealth, seek out other avenues to relieve their ennui. The fact that people actually listen and take seriously drug addled actors, musicians, and the like on such an enormously complex subject like global warming tells you how far western civilization has fallen in the last decade or so.

In fact, among the more level headed advocates for global warming - scientists who might know a thing or two more than Al Gore about the subject - this political tactic is odious:

The use of Holocaust terminology has drawn the ire of Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. “The phrase ‘climate change denier’ is meant to be evocative of the phrase ‘holocaust denier,’” Pielke, Jr. wrote on October 9, 2006.

“Let’s be blunt. This allusion is an affront to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust. This allusion has no place in the discourse on climate change. I say this as someone fully convinced of a significant human role in the behavior of the climate system,” Pielke, Jr. explained.

I too, over the last year or so, have become convinced that human behavior is responsible for at least some of the rise in temperature we’ve seen this century. But you can still color me a skeptic regarding catastrophic climate change. And it doesn’t help when people like Al Gore are either too ignorant to know any better or lie through their teeth about the state of the current debate over global warming. Roy Spencer:

As part of the current media frenzy over the “imminent demise” of Planet Earth from global warming, it has become fashionable to demonize global warming skeptics through a variety of tactics. This has recently been accomplished by comparing scientists who don’t believe in a global climate catastrophe to “flat-Earthers,” those who denied cigarettes cause cancer, or even those who deny the Holocaust.

It is interesting that it is not the scientists who are making the comparisons to Holocaust-deniers, but members of the media. For instance, Scott Pelley, who recently interviewed NASA’s James Hansen for CBS’s “60 Minutes,” has been quoted on the CBS News PublicEye blog saying:

“There is virtually no disagreement in the scientific community any longer about ‘global warming.’ … The science that has been done in the last three to five years has been conclusive.”

Pelley also posted this quote to the same blog:

“If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?”

In fact, as Spencer points out, there is enormous disagreement over many, many aspects of global warming across the scientific community. About the only issues there seems to be a consensus on are that it is getting warmer and that mankind plays a yet undetermined role in the process. Beyond that, there is an emerging consensus that the burning of fossil fuels may be the engine driving the climate spike. This position has been vigorously challenged by dozens of respected meteorologists, atmospheric physicists, and other scientists who wonder that if this is so, where the hell did all the CO2 go? It isn’t where it’s supposed to be (in the lower atmosphere) nor is it anywhere that it can be reliably measured. The models are all screwed up which have sent the physicists scrambling back to their drawing boards looking for a reason.

Ultimately, the biggest global warming skeptics are the scientists themselves. Even those who are part of the global warming consensus on climate change are constantly challenging their own assumptions, their own conclusions. This is what a good scientist does. Perhaps Roberts and Monbiot should start their show trials with them. If they are apostates in any way, doubting Thomases who question the dominant groupthink on catastrophic global warming, perhaps they can keep them in line by threatening them with star chamber proceedings.

Those of us who may not be scientists but who follow the debate with an open mind realize that bullies like Gore and the rest of the agenda driven left who seek to use the issue of global warming to initiate drastic economic and societal changes had to bring up Hitler sooner or later. It is their answer for everything and everyone who disagrees with them.

And it is getting very, very, old.

By: Rick Moran at 3:08 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

THE RICK MORAN SHOW - LIVE

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By: Rick Moran at 6:52 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)