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The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category is “Israel Faces Its Choices In Gaza” by Joshuapundit. Finishing second was my contribution, “Musings on a Late Spring Afternoon.”

Tops in the non Council category was “On Dehumanizing the Enemy In War and the Nature of Victory” by TigerHawk.

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

By: Rick Moran at 4:54 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

Maggie's Farm linked with Sunday Links...

When I survey the disaster that is the current Republican party – a leaderless, rudderless, dispirited mob without a clue of how to begin fixing what’s broke – the obvious question that leaps to mind is can anything be salvaged from the current situation? Or is the GOP condemned to walk the earth like Zombies for the foreseeable future with no direction, no heart, and little in the way of motivation to animate its followers?

You think I’m being too hard on Republicans, huh? Quick, name the leader of the Republican party. Time’s up. If you said Bush, I’ll give you points for loyalty but then take away your Haliburton Club card. The President of the United States is busy doing what every second term president has done since the beginning of the republic; fashioning a legacy for the history books. If you think he cares much for the Republican party – especially this president – I would just as soon you remain on the sidelines while those of us who have to deal with the reality of the situation take over.

Who else as leader of the GOP? Mr. Boehner? Mr. McConnell? Fine gentlemen, adequate legislators both. But as leaders of a national party, they both leave much to be desired as far as personality, temperament, and the ability to move large numbers of people toward a common goal. Herding lawmakers is a lot different than inspiring voters. And frankly, neither one of those gentleman has got “it” – that ineffable quality that draws the legions to your standard and inspires personal loyalty above and beyond attachment to party.

Leadership certainly can’t be found in the gaggle of presidential candidates fielded so far by the Republicans. While some of those qualities I mentioned are present in a few of the candidates, they have no standing to grab the reins of leadership and begin the process of bringing the party back from the dead. Perhaps when a clear winner emerges early next winter (and it will be early), the Chosen One can work on re-energizing and re-tooling the party. This will be in addition to trying to organize a national campaign in order to effectively challenge the eventual Democratic nominee. Somehow, I think that party building will take a back seat to the more important task of getting elected in the first place.

And that brings us to Fred Thompson and his slow, steady (some would say stodgy) progress toward entering the race for the Republican nomination. It used to be true back in the day that a candidate waited until after Labor Day the year before the election to formally announce his candidacy. This was because no one in their right mind would eschew FEC “matching funds” available to all candidates in favor of abandoning those limits in order to raise obscene amounts of cash (Hillary and Obama are expected to raise close to $120 million each). It was considered bad politics and bad strategy back then. But times change as does the way candidates run for president. An early announcement is almost a necessity now so that a candidate can compete in the upcoming heavily front loaded primary season.

But Fred Thompson has done things a little differently and as a result, has made an effective splash in the race. Running a “Front Porch” campaign from Tennessee, Thompson has cautiously ventured out to speak at a couple of friendly forums while using the internet to great effect. His presence on the web is not measured in hits at a website but rather the buzz created by his web activities. A You Tube video of a response to Michael Moore swept the net like wildfire. He has also blogged a bit as well as written some widely disseminated Op-Eds, garnering a much larger readership on the net for those pieces than in the publication they originally appeared.

Thompson has accomplished much in a short period of time. He has moved up the ladder into the first tier of serious candidates given a realistic shot at the nomination. And he has done it without much of an organization, virtually no paid staff, and no paid media. This is remarkable feat when one thinks of the way modern campaigns are conducted and speaks well of the Senator’s abilities.

In short, Thompson gets it. And when a Republican leader emerges from the current crop of presidential candidates, it should be someone who can use the net as a major means to rebuild the party. In one fell swoop, someone like Thompson could close the gap that most everyone agrees has opened up between the liberal netroots and the conservatives on the internet. By bringing the right “home” to the party (without venturing too far from the center) as well as being a focal point for organizational activities – fund raising, volunteers, and other party building efforts – a candidate could make huge strides in bringing the GOP back from the dead.

But much depends on Thompson himself and what kind of a candidate he might be. We’ve only gotten glimpses of Thompson the Campaigner; a rather disappointing appearance in California (Bob Novak writes that he threw away prepared remarks and winged it), and a more recent and more successful appearance in Stamford, Connecticut.

That Stamford appearance is much more instructive as to what we can expect from Thompson:

Thompson implied at Stamford that Republicans, along with Democrats, are responsible for making Americans cynical. While so far not spelling this out publicly, he deplores ethical abuses, profligate spending and incompetent management of the Iraq war. He becomes incandescent when considering abysmal CIA and Justice Department performance under the Bush administration. He is enraged by Justice’s actions in decisions leading to Scooter Libby’s prison sentence.

In his Senate voting record and his public utterances, Thompson is more conservative than Giuliani, McCain or Romney. He takes a hard line on the war against terror (referring in Connecticut to the danger of “suicidal maniacs” crossing open borders) and worries about immigration policy creating a permanent American underclass. His one deviation from the conservative line has been support for the McCain-Feingold campaign reform, much of which he now considers overtaken by current fundraising practices and perhaps irrelevant. Overall, his tone, in a soft Tennessee drawl, is less harsh than that of other Republican candidates—a real-life version of the avuncular fictional D.A. he plays on TV.

Beyond ideology, Thompson envisions a 21st-century campaign, utilizing the Internet more and spending less money than his opponents. When speaking to a friendly audience or ruminating off the record, the 6-foot-7 actor-politician does not look or sound like the GOP’s announced candidates for president. His challenge will be to convey that impression when he appears with opponents on the same stage in the immediate future.

If true, this makes Thompson an even more impressive candidate in my mind. The untapped potential – and not just for fundraising – in organizing a net based campaign means that Thompson has a real chance to blow the rest of the GOP field out of the water. The danger is that expectations will creep so high that when he finally emerges from his front porch, the Savior of the Party will instead be seen as something a little more ordinary.

The same thing happened to Wesley Clark in 2004:

Fred Thompson is to the Republicans in ‘08 as Wes Clark was to the Democrats in ‘04. In other words, the highpoint of his campaign will be the day he gets in the race, because once he’s a serious candidate—and not just the fevered daydream of a dissatisfied base—voters will realize he’s not all that. Remember, you heard it here first. And if Thompson doesn’t flame out and actually goes on to win the GOP nomination and (gulp) the White House, well, forget I ever wrote this.

Update: Ana Marie Cox writes in to point out that you only heard it here first if you don’t read Swampland. And, in comments, MrCookie1 lays claim to the same thought. That’s three people who think Thompson=Clark. It’s a bona fide trend!

Wishful thinking by the left or prescient analysis? Clark’s problem was that the left was looking for a war hero to blunt the GOP’s huge advantage on national security issues. The fact that Clark proved to be an empty suit on domestic policies as well as a stiff-as-a-board campaigner didn’t help. And the charges that he was a “Democrat of convenience” – fed by his stated admiration for Colin Powell and Condi Rice – hurt him badly right out of the box.

No, Fred Thompson is no Wesley Clark. But there is still a danger that expectations won’t be met immediately as the Senator goes through the inevitable shake down problems all campaigns have at the beginning. Overcoming those problems will be a test of his leadership and communication skills. And his debate appearances will also give voters the opportunity to see how well he thinks on his feet. All in all, a Thompson candidacy will certainly alter the dynamics of the race as the other frontrunners attempt to sharpen their differences with the Senator.

The GOP race for president is about to get very interesting.

By: Rick Moran at 7:18 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

Slublog linked with The Boomlet Continues...
The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 05/31/2007...
CATEGORY: Government, Politics

I have an Op Ed up at the Washington Examiner about earmarks and the Duke Cunningham scandal.

A sample:

Indeed, there have been many supporters of earmarks in both parties who have basically told taxpayers with questions about specific spending requests to take a hike. Here’s what Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said of the Porkbusters citizens group that has exposed many of these spending outrages: “I’m getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble since Katrina.” Clearly, it is a sensitive subject for both parties on Capitol Hill.

At the moment, reform of the earmarking process seems dead in the water. This almost guarantees that Cunningham will not be the last congressman to resign in disgrace as a consequence of a system that almost begs to be exploited for personal gain.

As Oscar Wilde said: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

Alas, it would seem likely our lawmakers will take such advice to heart rather than resisting the urge to feather their own nests at the expense of the people who elected them.

By: Rick Moran at 4:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

CATEGORY: Middle East

The United Nations Security Council voted this afternoon to give the Lebanese parliament until June 10 to approve the sitting of the International Tribunal to try the murderers of ex-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others. Failing that approval, the UNSC vote means that they will invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and sit the Tribunal under the auspices of the United Nations:

The U.N. Security Council voted on Wednesday to establish a special court to prosecute the murder two years ago of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Ten council members voted for the Western-sponsored resolution and five—Russia, China, Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa—abstained, with no votes against. The resolution will go into effect on June 10.

The fact that Russia and China – two of Syrias friends and benefactors – failed to veto the motion is a huge victory for US diplomacy. Too bad it will never be reported that way.

The resolution became necessary when the opposition forces in Parliament led by Hezbullah ally Speaker Nabih Berri refused to call the legislative body into session to consider the law authorizing the Tribunal. Following a plea from Prime Minister Siniora to the UN, the Security Council has now issued what amounts to an ultimatum to the Lebanese parliament to vote on the Tribunal by June 10 or the Tribunal will be seated automatically.

The relief and joy of the majority March 14th forces is being seen all over the country:

Meanwhile, Hariri supporters celebrated the Security Council’s decision.

But the government appeared fearful that the celebrations would turn violent between pro-government and opposition factions. The Interior Ministry banned the public from firing guns in the air, releasing fireworks and using motorcycles from 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) Wednesday to 5 a.m (0200 GMT) Thursday. Some of the bomb attacks in Lebanon have been blamed on assailants riding motorcycles.

Security forces were instructed to implement the measures and violators would be prosecuted, according to the ministry.

Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, also urged supporters to refrain from firing guns and called on them to exercise calm by staying home and lighting candles on balconies.

The slain leader’s supporters began celebrating in Hariri’s hometown in the southern city of Sidon more than six hours before the Security Council met in New York to vote on the tribunal resolution.

Carrying Lebanese flags and pictures of Hariri, supporters set up what they called “love checkpoints” in Sidon’s main roads and intersections handing out sweets and flowers to motorists.

And along with that joy comes the inevitable feeling of unease at what Syria might do now to block the road for the Tribunal. The recent clashes involving the Palestinian terrorist group Fatah al-Islam are widely seen by many in Lebanon and around the world as being inspired if not directed by Assad’s Syria. And as a sign that there may be more trouble on the way, Naharnet is reporting that a “ranking al-Qaeda terrorist” has been arrested acting as a Syrian double agent:

Lebanese security agents have arrested a ranking al-Qaida terrorist who was acting as “a double agent for Syrian intelligence,” a reliable source told Naharnet.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the suspect whose name and nationality could not be revealed pending completion of the ongoing investigation, was busted Tuesday at a hotel suite in Beirut’s district of Ashrafiyeh.

The “very dangerous terrorist,” according to the source, had crossed into Lebanon “illegally” overland from neighboring Syria over the weekend to follow up “coordination with Fatah al-Islam terrorists” besieged in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.


The suspect, according to the source, had “sold out al-Qaida in favor of cooperation with Syrian intelligence after he was offered safe haven in Syria.”

Last week, according to the source, the suspect “turned in to the Syrian intelligence a ranking Saudi member of al-Qaida known as Abu Talha. He did the Syrians a major favor that could help them boost their tense relations with the Americans.”

Abu Talha, whose real name is not known, is on the U.S. list of most wanted terrorists, according to the source.

After turning in Abu Talha, the Syrian intelligence command “sent the suspect to Lebanon to re-organize Fatah al-Islam and other Syrian-sponsored terrorists and sponsor a spate of attacks on a variety of targets in Lebanon aimed at destabilizing the situation,” the source added.

“The Syrians want to destabilize Lebanon and tell the Americans: ‘We can control the situation like we arrested Abu Talha. Strike a deal with us and Lebanon would be under control’,” the source said.

He said Fatah al-Islam terrorists arrested in north Lebanon “told investigators of the suspect’s moves and revealed important information which led to his arrest.”

As with many things having to do with Lebanon, this particular report is interesting but until it can be at least partially confirmed, caution is advised.

But it rings true to many observers who have witnessed Syria’s aggressive use of terrorist groups in the past to sow chaos in Lebanon. And it fits in with Syrias maximum effort to bring down the government of Prime Minister Siniora before the Tribunal can start to present evidence of high level Syrian complicity in the Harriri murder as well as almost two dozen other political attacks on anti-Syrian Lebanese.

For the government of Lebanon as for the people, trying to anticipate Syria’s next move in this campaign of destabilization is almost impossible. For in the end, the question on everyone’s mind is “What will Hizbullah do?”

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nassrallah has made it plain that he opposes the move to invoke Chapter 7 to sit the Tribunal. He has rejected every compromise to end the stand-off over increased opposition representation in the cabinet as well as various formulas for parliament to approve the enabling legislation for the Tribunal. But it would be a mistake to simply say that Nasrallah is doing Syria’s bidding. The Hizbullah leader has his own agenda which, in this case, happens to mirror the wishes of President Assad in Syria. And the fact that Hizbullah’s paymaster Iran has expressed its support for the Tribunal makes Nasrallah’s position vis a vis Syria delicate indeed. His reaction to the UNSC vote will be closely examined for any give at all.

How far will Assad want to take this effort to de-legitimize the government and bring it down? How far will he go in preventing the Tribunal from doing its work? The two issues are interconnected for Assad. He believes the only way to stop the Tribunal is to unseat the majority. He has tried intimidation, murder, bombings, and now terrorist uprisings. Nothing has deflected the majority from seeking justice for Hariri and others who have been victimized by Assad’s brutality. Could the Syrian thug now try and foment another civil war in Lebanon as a last resort? Anything is possible with Assad who must see the Tribunal as a threat to his hold on power. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be so desperate to destroy it.

For the moment, the people of Lebanon have been handed a victory by the world community. But Lebanon is on edge tonight as well, fearful of an unknowable future with many dangers yet to be overcome before justice for Hariri can be done.


Allah is on the story as well:

Wonderful news, even if Russia and China couldn’t quite bring themselves to endorse it. This has been Assad’s greatest fear since Rafiq Hariri, the anti-Syrian former prime minister of Lebanon, was assassinated two years ago: all signs point to the Syrian government’s involvement and he knows it and soon the rest of the world will know it too. That’s why people ended up dying every time the UN inched a little closer to approving the tribunal — it was Assad’s version of a shot across the bow, a warning of what could and would happen in Lebanon if the UN went ahead with the investigation. His puppet was already making threats in advance of the vote:

The “puppet” Allah refers to is Syrian toady Emile Lahoud who has threatened that a wave of violence will erupt in the wake of the UN vote.

Lahoud has also been busy trying to undermine Siniora. He proposed a “Salvation Cabinet” during a meeting with the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir made up of 6 ministers “each representing one of the main religious communities.”

This is a non-starter since it would give Hizbullah control over one third of the cabinet thus giving it veto power over the majority. But give the toady high marks for doing his master’s bidding in Syria.

And Ace has his doubts – for good reason.

By: Rick Moran at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

A Blog For All linked with Ceasefire Between Lebanese Military and Terrorists...

Noted internet thug and bully Larry Johnson – former Counter terrorism official for the Department of State, employee of the CIA, apologist for Valerie Plame, and defender of those who leak classified material (as long as it harms the Bush Administration) – is in a gloating mood today. A declassified CIA summary of Plame’s employment at the CIA reveals that the agency considered her status “covert” and that this fact should increase the jail time for Scooter Libby when the convicted Cheney aide is sentenced.

First, it should be noted that what Libby, Cheney, and that whole crew did in deliberately sabatoging Plame’s career at CIA was reprehensible. Whether she was covert or not, it was not necessary to debunk Joe Wilson’s lies by outing his wife as an employee of the CIA. I don’t care who you are in government, publicizing the name of an intelligence employee – covert or not – is wrong. It is always wrong. And to try and defend it by pointing out that Plame was not covert or that she worked at Langley and it was therefore no secret that she was a CIA employee just doesn’t cut it. We should have more respect for the employees of our intelligence agencies than that.

But I just had to post on Larry Johnson today because, in a very large sense, Johnson is what the Administration and most of us on the right have been fighting against since 2001; a mindset in the intelligence community that elevates unelected bureaucrats to positions where they can undermine or otherwise affect policies they disagree with – policies that are set by the freely elected representatives of the United States government. It is an abomination. And Larry Johnson has been an abominable figure in these dramas from start to finish.

I’ve had a run in with Mr. Johnson myself. Following a post I wrote on Admiral Inman decrying the partisan nature of the leaking of classified documents, Johnson left a comment that claimed the Admiral had been misquoted:

Hey boneheads,
I actually spoke with Admiral Inman. He said he was misquoted (Gee, what a surprise, the NRO can’t get its story straight). He’s disgusted by the attacks on Valerie Plame. You guys only got one thing right, Admiral Inman is a class act.

After a follow up post in which I basically called Johnson an idiot for a statement he made at TPM Cafe that the conservative movement was “partly born” as a result of of the efforts of Whittaker Chambers to expose Alger Hiss, Johnson shot back an email in which he overtly threatened me by bragging that he “knew the guys who killed Pablo Escobar” and that I didn’t know who I was dealing with.

If I had any doubts of who or what I was dealing with, they were laid to rest with this nauseating, over the top, severely unbalanced gloat against Plame’s critics who insisted she wasn’t covert:

Victoria Toensing, Cliff May, Byron York and the other rightwing apologists who have long insisted that Valerie Plame Wilson was not undercover have some “splaining” to do. Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s latest filing in the Scooter Libby case leaves no doubt about Valerie Wilson’s status—she was covert and undercover and served overseas. Thanks to a heads up from McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay, followed in short order by a note from John Amato at Crooks and Liars, I got my hands on the Fitzgerald filing. [Update: David Corn posted the first piece on this Friday night. He needs to do more self-promotion.] Man, the rightwing stooges are getting their collective asses handed to them on all fronts (e.g., a bird sh**s on Bush, Wolfowitz gets bounced from the World Bank, and rightwing bloggers, Flopping Aces and Charles Johnson in particular, were exposed making fraudulent claims). As Jackie Gleason used to say, “how sweet it is!”

Perhaps Mr. Johnson should go easy on the “getting it wrong” aspect of this case. After all, there are few more spectacular examples of being wrong than what Johnson wrote in July of 2001:

Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villains in our popular entertainment, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

None of these beliefs are based in fact.

I hope for a world where facts, not fiction, determine our policy. While terrorism is not vanquished, in a world where thousands of nuclear warheads are still aimed across the continents, terrorism is not the biggest security challenge confronting the United States, and it should not be portrayed that way.

In case Mr. Johnson and his friends on the left may have forgotten, (And why not? They act like they’ve forgotten about it on a daily basis.) 2 months later on September 11, 2001, the most horrific attack against American citizens ever to take place on American soil occurred in New York, Washington, D.C., and over the skies of Pennsylvania when one of those bedeviling “fantasies” about terrorism actually came true. If you want the details of that attack (just to jog your memory), go here.

Johnson has since tried to furiously backtrack from that position, saying that he said that Islamic terrorism was the #1 threat and that everything he said in the article was true.

Maybe. But it takes a special kind of idiot to note that the terrorism threat was “declining” two months before 9/11 and then not acknowledge that mistake.

And that’s not the only time “Wrong Way Johnson” has been utterly and unbelievably mistaken. In fact, in what has to be considered one of the funniest, most outrageous examples of stupidity in the history of the internet, Johnson (along with most of the left) fell for the Jason Leopold story predicting that Karl Rove would be indicted in connection with the Plame Affair “within 24 hours.” Here’s Mr. Johnson’s original take on the news:

Frog March at the White House?
Larry C Johnson


Check out the big brain on Jason Leopold over at Truth Out.

Rove Informs White House He Will Be Indicted

Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

That was on Friday, May 12, 2006. The very next day, Leopold expanded on his “scoop” by saying that Rove would be indicted within 24 hours. More gloating from Jaba the Hut:

Rove Indicted—Frog March the Bastard
Larry C Johnson

As Freddy Mercury sang, “Another One Bites the Dust”.

Jason Leopold beats the Main Stream Media Stenographers again. Check his story out.

Will we see the following real world.
(photoshopped picture of Rove being dragged away in handcuffs)

This was only the beginning of one of the more sidesplitting episodes I can remember on the internet. Leopold’s piece appeared in Truthout on Saturday, May 13th. On Sunday with no Rove indictment apparent, Mr. Johnson was insisting that “All is well” with this post on the Democratic Underground:

Larry Johnson

Sun May-14-06 02:17 AM

It is not just Jason Leopold. Joe Wilson heard the same from other sources. And, more importantly, Jason is reporting based on multiple, more than two, sources. His editors realized what a big story this is and did the appropriate checking before posting.

They are called Truth Out for a reason. Getting the truth out.

Yes, I’m sure they did. A full week passed and still no Rove frog marching. The left, still hopeful, began to make excuses for Leopold; that he was the victim of some plot by Rove and his lawyers was a common musing by the dunces on the left. But our Larry was still hopeful:

Latest Re Rove on Truth Out

The following was posted today on Truth Out. They are sticking to their guns and justifiably so. Time will tell.

Time told alright. Nothing. Nada. Zipadeedodah. No Rove indictment. Leopold exposed as a serial exaggerator or worse. And Larry Johnson, member of the Reality Based Community in good standing? A month later, the hypocritical Mr. Johnson was still defending Jason Leopold as a brave truth teller because after Rove’s lawyer announced that Fitzgerald had sent him a letter saying he would not indict his client, Larry refused to believe it because no one had seen the letter!

Where’s the Letter Luskin?
Larry C Johnson

Oh. So Karl Rove got a pass? Really? Where’s the letter? Seems none of the mainstream media can get their story straight. Some report there is a letter from Patrick Fitzgerald, but none have seen it. Some say there was a phone call. Really? Let’s see the phone records. Others say there was a fax. Okay, where’s the damn fax.

What is amazing is that Jason Leopold gets vilified and yet, when it comes to the mainstream media, everyone gives these cretins a pass. Sorry. Jason reports there is a sealed indictment. Lufkin claims otherwise. Lufkin claims to have proof but won’t put it on the table.

I’m with Christy Hardin Smith at Until Patrick Fitzgerald calls off the dogs that Porcine Ass called Rove ought to worry about who he might be getting up close and personal with in jail.


This bullying guttersnipe should be eating crow, not crowing about anything at all. One wonders what this lickspittle’s track record at the CIA and State Department could have been if his powers of observation and prognostication leave so much to be desired. It’s frightening, actually, to think of this guy in a position of responsibility anywhere in government. And the “Sexion Caper” should make that clear to anyone who’s honest enough to see it.

Sexion was a blogger who lived in Norway who was deliberately and viciously targeted by Johnson, Leopold, and others in a coordinated attack that included phone calls to his home, his parents home, and not very well disguised threats against his person. The incident convinced Sexion to quit blogging so the story is best told by others since his blog has disappeared. Ace had his own problems with sock puppets posting personal information on his site about Sexion and relates them in the several posts he did on the matter. What is absolutely clear is this; Larry Johnson participated in a campaign of intimidation against a 24 year old blogger who never did him any harm.

This quote from a Sexion post about emails received from Bully Boy Johnson should chill your bones:

Perhaps most haunting was the email I received from Larry Johnson last night. He claimed I defamed him and called him a liar. I did not defame him and he did lie to me when he said that he had answered my questions when he had in fact not done so. This was not part of the story I wrote yesterday, calling him a liar for that, I simply stated the fact that he declined to answer a set of yes/no questions I posed to him, as he responded that he had already answered them, which was false.

Johnson laced the email, to a personal account of mine which I do not usually give out and which is not available through Google, with personal details about my family and me. Just like Leopold had done, Johnson repeated my mother’s name, my parents’ address, and even my birth month and year. Obviously Johnson thought this would freak me out and scare me into retracting everything. He concluded the email with:

I am willing to accept a written apology and move on. If you refuse to retract your statements about me I am prepared to ratchet this up several levels. I have not spent the last twenty years working with the U.S. military and the intelligence community to accept this kind of nonsense from a wet-nosed 24 year old coward, who is an armchair warrior but does not have the courage to enlist in the military when his country is at war.

Is that a threat, Mr. Johnson? After I responded, he fired back with this:

I know where you are living. You forget that I do work for the European Union and friends in Interpol. I’ve offered you a mature way to deal with this situation. You’re obviously too immature and inexperienced to recognize the offer for what it is. Too bad.

The reason this rings true to me is the little aside in Mr. Johnson’s email to me about “knowing” the men who killed Pablo Escobar. It’s the same kind of cowardly, veiled threat he makes to Sexion.

I don’t know if Johnson still appears as a TV analyst for terrorism anymore. If he does, producers and bookers should read this post carefully and decide for themselves whether they want this sort of fellow appearing on their network. Johnson is a despicable brat, a juvenile, a Walter Mitty who fancies himself some kind of terrorist fighting superhero and slayer of conservatives . But when the lights go down and darkness descends, he crawls out from under a rock and bullies those he thinks won’t or can’t fight back.

How very brave of you, Larry. Now, do your damnedest.

By: Rick Moran at 9:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (30)


I’ll say this much for the Democratic candidates for President: At least they’re trying to address the health care issue.

And to give you an idea of why the Republicans will probably lose the presidency in 2008, I perused the sites of the top 3 contenders for the nomination to ascertain what their thoughts about the health care crisis might be.

Rudy doesn’t mention it. Not. One. Word.

Neither does McCain.

Only Mitt Romney has a blurb on his issues page about health care:

The health of our nation can be improved by extending health insurance to all Americans, not through a government program or new taxes, but through market reforms.

Governor Romney: “We can’t have as a nation 40 million people—or, in my state, half a million—saying, ‘I don’t have insurance, and if I get sick, I want someone else to pay.”
(USA Today, July 5, 2005)

Governor Romney: “It’s a conservative idea,” says Romney, “insisting that individuals have responsibility for their own health care. I think it appeals to people on both sides of the aisle: insurance for everyone without a tax increase.”
(USA Today, July 5, 2005)

As for the others, Fred Thompson has no official campaign site yet and doesn’t mention his position on any issues.

Duncan Hunter apparently has no position on the health care problem.

Jim Gilmore is for “preserving traditional values” but evidently doesn’t give much thought to health care.

Those Republicans who have given the issue some thought include Senator Brownback:

Our healthcare system will thrive with increased consumer choice, consumer control and real competition. I believe it is important that we have price transparency within our health care system. This offers consumers, who are either enrolled in high deductible health plans or who pay out-of-pocket, the ability to shop around for the best prices and plan for health care expenditures. Also, the existing health insurance market forces consumers to pay for extra benefits in their premiums, such as aromatherapy and acupuncture, which tends to increase the cost of coverage. Instead, consumers should be able to choose the from health care coverage plans that are tailored to fit their families’ needs and values. Accordingly, individuals should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. Finally, I believe that consumers should have control over the use of their personal health records. I have a proposal that would offer consumers a means to create a lifetime electronic medical record, while, at the same time, ensuring that the privacy of their personal health information is secured and protected.

Over time, the socialized medicine model has shown to deprive consumers of access to life-saving treatments and is downright inconsistent with the spirit of the American people to be free from unwanted government intervention. I will continue to work at the forefront to create a consumer-centered, not government-centered, healthcare model that offer both affordable coverage choices and put the consumer in the driver’s seat.

There are some sensible elements to Brownback’s position, most notably in consumers being able to choose specifics of their coverage – choice is always better than having something rammed down your throat by the state. But sadly, from what I can see, Brownback barely scratches the surface of the systemic problems in the health care industry – insurance companies and their resistance to meaningful reform.

Tommy Thompson actually has some good market solutions to the health care crisis and has given the issue a lot of thought:

Governor Thompson believes America must strengthen its health care system if it is to remain the best in the world. He would accomplish this by 1. moving the focus to preventive from curative care; 2. accelerating the adoption of health information technology to save money and lives; 3. placing the uninsured in state-by-state insurable pools, allowing private insurers to bid on their coverage; 4. strengthening the nation’s long-term care system that robs too many Americans of their life savings; and 5. strengthening the Medicare and Medicaid programs to ensure the programs are there in the future for the millions of Americans who depend on them. Details on his proposal can be found here.

And Mike Huckabee should probably have left any mention of health care off of his site. His bullet point talking points are worse than useless.

In summary, most of the Republican candidates either have no announced position yet on healthcare reform or have offered a pastiche of options that include a heavy reliance on so-called “preventive” health care.

Ezra Klein shows why that’s a chimerical idea:

First, the impacts of preventive medicine are often overstated. It’s not that cleaning up the air or putting everyone on a gym regimen would greatly improve health—but people don’t follow gym regimens, and business doesn’t let you clean air. Furthermore, not all interventions are created equal. Better parenting might be beneficial, but it’s unlikely to be more effective—either on economic or biological grounds—than the use of statins, or hypertensive drugs, or daily tablets of aspirin. There are a lot of highly effective medical interventions which are very, very cheap. But our system is very poor at incentivizing their use.

Meanwhile, the reason doctors are constantly prescribing statins along with admonitions to exercise and eat better is because using public policy to change diet and exercise habits is really, really, hard, unless you’re prepared to be very heavy-handed (i.e, outlawing trans fats in restaurants, setting portion limits, etc). Indeed, part of the problem with preventive health measures is that, rather often, they don’t work very well. Like with traditional health care, some things really succeed (stripping lead out of gasoline, giving people antibiotics), and lots of things…don’t. And that’s to sidestep the weird reality that what drives health care politics is concern over money which, in fact, is quite rational: Folks don’t want to go bankrupt, and smart politicians don’t want the government to lose all space for spending on other priorities.

To my Republican friends, let me just say that the quickest way to warm the cockles of the American voter is to address the health care crisis. Not so much coming up with ever more expensive schemes to cover the estimated 40 million Americans who don’t have coverage. People are rightly concerned that so many are uninsured. But the problem is one of under insurance or poor insurance coverage. This is what worries most Americans and addressing this problem – along with supplying coverage to those who need it – would go a long way toward improving the quality of life for ordinary Americans.

The Democrats insist on getting in a bidding war, coming up with ever more expensive schemes to address both the uninsured and under insured while trying not to bust the bank. The latest entry in the health care sweepstakes is Barak Obama:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) on Tuesday offered a sweeping health care plan that would provide every citizen a means for coverage and calls on government, businesses and consumers to share the costs of the program.

Obama said his plan could save the average consumer $2,500 a year and bring health care to all. Campaign aides estimated the cost of the program at $50 billion to $65 billion a year, financed largely by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy that are scheduled to expire. President Bush wants to make those cuts permanent.

“The time has come for universal, affordable health care in America,” Obama said in a speech in Iowa City, at the University of Iowa’s medical school.

So $50-65 billion a year, financed by soaking “the rich,” would make coverage more affordable and insure those who currently have none? Good news indeed – if it were possible. The Devil, dear reader, as always, is in the details:

Obama’s plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money to pay for expanding coverage. It would also create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage.

Those who can’t afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers. The plan is similar to the one covering members of Congress.

Obama’s package would prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage because of pre-existing conditions…

My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is that the amount of money you will spend on premiums will be less,” Obama said. “If you are one of 45 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, you will after this plan becomes law.”

Obama also called for a series of steps to overhaul the current health care system. He would spend more money boosting technology in the health industry such as electronic record-keeping, put in place better management for chronic diseases and create a reinsurance pool for catastrophic illnesses to take the burden of their costs off of other premium payers.

His plan also envisions savings from ending the expensive care for the uninsured when they get sick. That care now is often provided at emergency rooms. The plan also would put a heavy focus on preventing disease through lifestyle changes.

Obama conceded that the overall cost of the program would be high.

“To help pay for this, we will ask all but the smallest businesses who don’t make a meaningful contribution to the health coverage of their workers to do so to support this plan,” said Obama. “And we also will repeal the temporary Bush tax cut for the wealthiest taxpayers.”

There are some good ideas in this plan. I don’t know how a “National Health Insurance Exchange” would work but in theory, any expansion of coverage via private companies is a good thing – even if they would be “monitored” closely. And “subsidized” health insurance makes sense to me. We subsidize housing and families. Why not health insurance?

The biggest question I have are the uninsured and their responsibility to the rest of us. Since many of the uninsured appear to be younger, employed Americans who simply don’t want to pay for coverage, how do we include them in the insurance pool? Edwards plan would mandate that everyone have health insurance. Obama is silent on the issue and I would be interested to see how the millions of uninsured Americans who fall into that category would be forced into the system.

Unfortunately, I think the bad outweighs the good in this proposal. McQ at Q & O takes a stab at critiquing what we know of the plan so far:

So instead of really doing something which would actually make insurance more affordable and easier to get – like removing it from being provided by business and letting a real insurance market (a private insurance market) develop, Obama plans on keeping these plans under employers and making all of them share the cost. Additionally, not a word about all the mandates by various state governments on minimum coverage. And all of this will somehow make insurance cheaper.

Secondly, why not, if the purpose is simply to ensure that all uninsured have access to insurance, why not fix that problem and leave everyone else alone? Instead he wants to mess with the insurance 300 million vs. the 40 or so million purported not to have insurance. Taking care of the 40 million actually might make insurance for the remaining 260 million cheaper.

Mac has a good point, although the quality of coverage among the 260 million remaining Americans varies wildly. Simply leaving that market alone won’t fix much of anything.

But Mac hits a home run here:

Again, having government “overhaul” anything is fraught with problems, the primary being cost and efficiency. It doesn’t have a good track record with either. And someone is going to pay for this overhaul. Additionally you’re looking at a mandate when you see things like “better management for chronic illnesses” and a cost increase (despite the promise of a cost decrease) when talking about government managing a “reinsurance pool for catastrophic illness”, because again, someone has to pay for that pool.

Rather than the $50-65 billion mentioned in the article it appears that the cost would be considerably higher. But most Americans would be willing to foot the bill if they thought it would actually do some good. Health care in America is a gigantic brute of a system, a trillion dollar monster that affects every man, woman, and child in America. To confidently say that even the federal government is going to “control” it in any but the grossest sense seems to me to be a flight of fancy. The only forces to my mind that would be powerful enough to affect it in any significant way would be market forces – bringing the cost down while competition improves the choices for consumers.

Now clearly, market forces alone won’t work to insure the uninsured or bring better health care options to those whose current plans are inadequate. In this case, government can act as a combination guide, referee, and burr under the saddle. Subsidizing some people will probably be inevitable as will mandating some kind of minimum coverage by large and small business. The very nature of the problems in health care means that government will have some kind of role to play. But the challenge will be to reform the system while keeping the best of the current regime in place.

And that’s a challenge that so far, not many Republicans have risen to address.

By: Rick Moran at 3:47 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

CATEGORY: Politics



Actually, you should probably give a Hat Tip to The Prowler:

“We knew the political affiliation of every lawyer and political appointee we hired at the Department of Justice from January 1993 to the end of the Administration,” says a former Clinton Department of Justice political appointee. “We kept charts and used them when it came time for new U.S. Attorney nominations, detailee assignments, and other hiring decisions. If you didn’t vote Democrat, you weren’t going anywhere with us. It was that simple.”

In fact, according to this source, at least 25 career DOJ lawyers who were identified as Republicans were shifted away from jobs in offices they held prior to January 1993 and were given new “assignments” which were deemed “noncritical” or “nonpolitically influential.” When these jobs shifts came to light in 1993, neither the House nor Senate Judiciary committees chose to pursue an investigation.

“The difference between then and now, is that they [Department of Justice] didn’t coordinate so openly with the White House,” says a former Clinton White House staffer. “Remember, we had our own separate database that we could cross check if we had names. Everybody today forgets about the databases we created inside the White House. It’s funny no one talks about that anymore. We were doing stuff far more aggressively than this White House or the Department of Justice did.”

“The difference between then and now, is that they [Department of Justice] didn’t coordinate so openly with the White House…” and that one Administration was a Democratic Administration and this one is Republican. There’s that difference, too. And another difference is that the Clinton Administration was much more competent – at least in covering up its abuses of power. We never heard about “renditions,” begun by the Clinton Administration, until poor KSM was in the evil clutches of the CIA and being whisked around the world, staying at something less than 1st class accommodations and treated worse than a customer at a Montreal restaurant being served by a French speaking waiter.

It doesn’t matter, of course. Why, in the comments of this very post, you will have at least a dozen Clinton apologists telling us HOW DIFFERENT WHAT BUSH IS DOING COMPARED TO WHAT CLINTON DID. After all, there was no one named Monica in the Clinton Administration…Er, at least no one named Monica who worked at DOJ. And no one in the Clinton Administration paid a bedside visit to a dying AG to seek his approval on continuing a top secret anti-terrorist program. All they did was use political criteria to hire, fire, promote, and demote employees.

Will the New York Times write scathing editorials about this? Will the Washington Post give the story front page coverage? Will the netnuts come down hard on Clinton for doing the same thing the Bush Administration is accused of doing, i.e. politicizing the Department of Justice?

Don’t hold your breath…

By: Rick Moran at 10:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

Captain's Quarters linked with The Next Scandal At Justice?...

News out of Iraq today from the Los Angeles Times, a fierce critic of the war, quotes several anonymous military sources they say are close to General Petreaus, that the government of Prime Minister Maliki will fail to achieve any of the major political goals set by the Administration when the troop surge began:

U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.

In September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to present Congress with an assessment of progress in Iraq. Military officers in Baghdad and outside advisors working with Petraeus doubt that the three major goals set by U.S. officials for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be achieved by then.

Enactment of a new law to share Iraq’s oil revenue among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions is the only goal they think might be achieved in time, and even that is considered a long shot. The two other key benchmarks are provincial elections and a deal to allow more Sunni Arabs into government jobs.

With overhauls by the central government stalled and with security in Baghdad still a distant goal, Petraeus’ advisors hope to focus on smaller achievements that they see as signs of progress, including local deals among Iraq’s rival factions to establish areas of peace in some provincial cities.

The political realities facing the Iraqi government are no secret and it doesn’t take high ranking aides to Petreaus to tell us what has been obvious at least since the beginning of April; that Maliki is unable to bring most of the Shia parties along with him (if he himself is even committed to many of these political goals) in an effort to reconcile the country’s factions and bring peace to Iraq.

The fact is, we can point to our great successes in Anbar province and elsewhere in defeating the insurgency and al-Qaeda but if Baghdad continues to bleed the way it does today, there is no way the surge will be seen as a success in any way, shape, or form. Of course, most of the press, the Democrats, and the left have already declared the surge a failure which makes subduing Baghdad even more important. And in this case, we are bedeviled by the fact that the terrorists only have to succeed once and a while in setting off huge bombs that kill dozens of people for the perception to kick in that the surge has been useless.

Couple the continued bloodshed in Baghdad with the inability (or outright refusal) of the Maliki government to deal with sharing oil revenue, de-Baathication, and constitutional changes and you can see where Petreaus aides are coming from. The surge is next to useless without the Iraqi government using any reduction in violence and the subsequent increase in confidence by the people that this would inspire to reach out to the Sunnis who are cooperating with us in Anbar and other provinces and make them partners in rebuilding the country.

What’s the answer then? Apparently, we are beginning to shift the playing field, bypassing the empty suit of a prime minister, and dealing with the problem of reconciliation Anbar-style; by making deals with the Sheiks and their tribes at the local level:

Military officers said they understood that any report that key goals had not been met would add to congressional Democrats’ skepticism. But some counterinsurgency advisors to Petraeus have said it was never realistic to expect that Iraqis would reach agreement on some of their most divisive issues after just a few months of the American troop buildup.

The advisors and military officers say the local deals and advances they see are not insignificant and can be building blocks of wider sectarian reconciliation.

Military officers in Iraq said the efforts included recruiting Sunni Arab nationalists into security forces, forging agreements among neighborhoods of rival sects, establishing new businesses in once-violent areas and shifting local attitudes.

Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and early advocate of the troop buildup, said the military would have few major political accomplishments to report by September. “I think the political progress will be mostly of this local variety,” said Kagan, who recently visited Iraq and met with American commanders.

This is an intriguing approach and once again I weep because we waited 4 years to try it. But the sad fact is, the sands in the hour glass are draining fast and all the signs point to a dramatic political change in September if Petreaus can’t convince lawmakers – and through them the American people – that the progress being made at the local level is worth the expenditure in lives and treasure this war has cost us already.

It is still unclear to me how this progress at the local level will translate into putting the pieces of Iraqi society back together. In some ways, it sounds as if it could actually work to further separate the factions:

The push for smaller, local deals represents a significant shift for the Bush administration, which has emphasized that security in Baghdad has to be the top priority to allow the central government to make progress toward national political reconciliation. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have pressured Iraqi political leaders to reach key agreements by the end of summer.

But Gates said last week that U.S. officials may have over-emphasized the importance of Iraq’s central government.

“One of the concerns that I’ve had,” Gates said, “was whether we had focused too much on central government construction in both Iraq and Afghanistan and not enough on the cultural and historical, provincial, tribal and other entities that have played an important role in the history of both countries.”

The new command has realized that there will be no quick national-level deal on the key issues, said the senior military officer in Baghdad.

“You are talking about Sunnis who had power and Shiites who have power forgetting about what happened over the last 30 years,” the officer said. “How easy is that going to be?”

In Iraq, local leaders have doubts about the central government’s abilities to make a meaningful deal.

“The sheiks are not waiting to see if the law is passed or not,” Kagan said. “The Iraqi local leaders clearly don’t see reconciliation as something that has to come from the top or necessarily should come from the top.”

There is good reason that local leaders don’t trust the central government. They have promised much and delivered nothing. And the fact that it is generally recognized in the country that the writ of Baghdad law does not run much outside of Baghdad itself makes the Sheiks wonder how the central government could enforce any agreements it makes with other factions like the Mahdi Army or the Badr Organization who Sunnis see as largely responsible for the sectarian killings. Perhaps they consider it suicide to trust the national government to rein in the militias through any agreements signed with them.

Frankly, I just don’t think our progress in Anbar and other provinces will be enough to convince the Congress to grant the Administration the time it needs to assist the Iraqis in pacifying their country and leave behind a viable state. The Democrats will return with a vengeance hawking their timetables and advocating a cut off in funds on some date certain. They will be driven by their base of rabid netnuts who are already livid with most Democratic lawmakers for what they see as caving in to the President this last go around on Iraq funding.

And not surprisingly, they will be joined by a substantial number of Republicans who fear for their electoral lives. Just over the horizon, it is easy to discern the political disaster for the GOP if they stick with a lame duck Commander in Chief at less than 30% in the polls who refuses to budge on doing what a majority of Americans want him to do; start bringing the troops home.

It should also not come as a surprise that when both Democrats and Republicans are driven by fear, the chances of something less than desirable for the national interest coming out of this mess are considerably increased. What is needed is rationality and a compromise both sides can live with. What we will probably end up getting is political panic and bitter recriminations over who to blame for our situation.

Meanwhile, Iran continues its winning streak, Syria may very well feel emboldened in its campaign to bring chaos to Lebanon, and our friends in the Middle East wonder about the future.

By: Rick Moran at 9:01 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)


For Cindy Sheehan, it was only a matter of time.

The self-proclaimed “Face of the Anti-War Movement” – such as it is – has decided to retire from the fray and try and find some peace in her own life:

I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.

Her reasons? They are many and varied but basically, she wants to quit because no one is listening to her anymore. She has been used up and spit out by a news media that demands drama, pathos, conflict, and above all, something new every day out of its media heroes. And Sheehan, at first portrayed as noble, then single minded, then weird, and now pathetic has seen her time on the national stage run out like a coin operated peep show that goes dark because we’ve stopped putting money into the slot.

I wasn’t the only one who predicted her ultimate fate. But when I wrote this a year and a half ago, the writing was on the wall already:

And Sheehan, once hailed as the Madonna of the American anti-war movement among the more mainstream Democrats finds almost all of her erstwhile supporters tip-toeing away hoping no one will notice or remember that they and their allies in the media made her such into such a heroic figure. No peacenik Joan of Arc she…

Now she looks behind her and instead of seeing throngs of admirers she sees the crouching tigers and hidden dragons of gimlet eyed radicals who only see the war as a way to divide America so they can conquer her.

Should we pity her loss? Yes, but for how much longer? When does her radicalism negate whatever sacrifice she has given in the effort to defeat Islamism, that other radical ideology whose rhetoric about the west and America is so similar that it could have been born of the same mother’s tongue? In Sheehan’s case, her message of hate will continue to fade until only the echoes of abomination and self-loathing are heard in the mostly empty halls and rooms of a radical on the declining slope of notoriety.

Sophocles rightly said “Only the dead are free from pain.” For Cindy Sheehan, there will come a time when she prays for the playwright’s wisdom to overtake her folly.

Most of the reaction on the left has been sympathetic with angry words for Democratic lawmakers who won’t commit political suicide and jump over the cut and run cliff with the rest of the netnuts and support either an immediate end to the war – as Sheehan and the hard left advocate – or try and defund the troops via the chimerical solution of timetables.

But in trying to assess Sheehan’s impact on the anti-war “movement” – which despite the polls showing Americans disgusted with Bush and the war, to this day still looks more like a disorganized rabble of anarchists, greenies, anti-globalists, conspiracy nuts, and Bush hating bloggers – one needs to look at how her crusade morphed from a vigil held outside of Bush’s Texas ranch in an effort manufacture a “Chief Brody slap” moment into a global crusade that included cozying up to anti-American fascists like Hugo Chavez and associations with anti-Semitic groups like the “Crawford Peace House” who posits outrageous conspiracy theories about Jews.

Sheehan was captured wholly and truly by a subset of the left that is not interested in ending the war as much as they are determined to bring down the established order in the United States through any means necessary. They are not mainstream in any sense of the word. The list of groups allied to her cause read like a Who’s Who of anti-American zealotry. And while she tried to disavow some of these supporters – including several openly racist and anti-Semitic neo-Nazi organizations – the stench of their nauseating ideologies became too much for most mainstream Democrats as well as the press who eventually let her slide into obscurity.

As far as more mainstream opposition to the war, Sheehan’s sins were either forgiven or ignored. All this group ever saw was the motherly visage, the genuine tears of sorrow at her tragic loss, and her over the top, exaggerated anti-Bush rhetoric that was quoted lovingly on lefty websites with the explanation that she was “speaking truth to power.” How calling New Orleans an “occupied city” and advocating the looting of stores because, after all, it’s just “stuff,” can be considered anything except the wild rantings of a disturbed woman is beyond me.

Tammy Bruce deconstructs Sheehan’s blog post that I linked above, pointing out the cloying self pity and self-serving nature of the screed. Here, she translates a few of Sheehan’s ravings:

6. I wasted all my money and ignored my family to try to prove to myself I am not the attention whore that apparently I am. (“I have also reached the conclusion that if I am doing what I am doing because I am an “attention whore” then I really need to be committed.”)

7. America is an ungrateful bitch. (“I have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to a country that wants neither.”)

8. I’m in debt and won’t pay my bills because America is evil. (“my hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country from slaughtering innocent human beings.”)

9. Americans are stupid and vapid and don’t care. (“Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months.”)

10. Everyone is jealous of me because I get all the attention. (“This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway?”)

11. Everyone is doomed, so I’m getting out while I can. (“Our brave young men and women in Iraq have been abandoned there indefinitely by their cowardly leaders who move them around like pawns on a chessboard of destruction and the people of Iraq have been doomed to death and fates worse than death …I am going to take whatever I have left and go home.”)

12. I need money. (“Camp Casey has served its purpose. It’s for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford , Texas ? I will consider any reasonable offer.”)

A strange mixture of sincere, grief stricken mom and shameless anti-war huckster, she. And I can’t help reflecting on the fact that the adversity faced by other boat rockers in American history – Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Al Lowenstein, and Frederick Douglas to name a few – make Sheehan’s “ordeal” look like a walk in the park. All of those worthies had much higher mountains to climb and extremely powerful forces arrayed against them. They never quit. They all kept fighting to their dying breath for what they believed in. It makes Sheehan’s pathetic blatherings and whiny, self-absorbed musings seem wretchedly shallow and insincere by comparison.

The left may find cause to congratulate her and wish her well. My hope is that she returns home and seeks out a competent mental health professional to help her overcome the devastating loss of her son. I don’t expect her to recant her radicalism. But I think a little perspective gained would ease her suffering and perhaps bring a bit of peace into her tumultuous and ultimately tragic life.

By: Rick Moran at 6:54 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)

A Blog For All linked with Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out...
Bottom Line Up Front linked with Sheehan Abandons Sinking Ship of Anti-War Movement...
Wake up America linked with Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish... Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with 'It's up to you now': Sheehan quits ...
Captain's Quarters linked with Cindy Sheehan Says Adios...

My latest article for Pajamas Media is up. It’s about Ernie Banks, former Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame baseball player who is going to be honored by having a statue erected at Wrigley Field.

A sample appears below the picture.

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Ernie Banks – “Mr. Cub” – doing what he loved so much.

It was the hands that drew your immediate attention. The huge 42 ounce bat being held perpendicular to the ground was motionless as was the rest of his lithe 6’ 1”, 180 lb frame. But the hands were busy. The way they nervously gripped and re-gripped the bat was mesmerizing, the fingers in constant motion. And then the pitch, and the graceful ripple of a swing, and the ball would take flight.

Few of Ernie Bank’s 512 home runs were Olympian blasts where the ball would arc so high and exit the yard out on to Waveland Avenue, scudding underneath the low clouds that would hang over Wrigley Field. Instead, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer had a graceful swing that would produce a screaming line drive – a “frozen rope” ballplayers call it – that would leave the playing field almost before the pitcher could turn around in disgust to watch the flight of the ball.

And then, the trot around the bases, the long legs effortlessly stretching out, covering the distance to home plate with such ease and grace that tens of thousands of kids all over Chicagoland tried to imitate it. In suburban parks and city streets, youngsters could be seen gripping the bat the way he did, moving like he did. They wanted a baseball glove just like his. To possess his baseball card was to make the lucky kid a celebrity for blocks around.

By: Rick Moran at 12:48 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)