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5/22/2007
“THE RICK MORAN” SHOW WITH SPECIAL GUEST ED MORRISSEY

I’ll have Ed Morrissey as my special guest on today’s show. You can catch the stream here from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Central time. A podcast will also be available shortly after the show.

Ed and I will talk about politics, the immigration debate, war funding, and anything else that crosses our fertile minds. It’s always lively with the Captain so I hope you can join us live today.

You can access the podcast by clicking the button below:

blog radio

By: Rick Moran at 2:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

THE ROAD TO NOWHERE II
CATEGORY: "24"

For my thoughts on last night’s finale and the entire season, I posted them here. The following is a recap of the hours 4:00 – 6:00 AM.

SUMMARY

When informed by Little Ricky that he will handed over to the tender mercies of his grandfather, young Josh Bauer understandably balks. And it doesn’t sound any more palatable when Doyle tells the youngster that it’s “for the good of the country.” Josh obviously doesn’t like Chinese food and can’t imagine living in a country where Britney Spears isn’t worshipped as a goddess.

Wait until he finds out that sexy pictures of Paris Hilton are banned on the internet.

Jack meanwhile is dragooned by some CTU agents and placed in custody. Not for anything he’s done but for what he’s liable to do in order to keep Josh from the clutches of his father. This is a sensible precaution – but so would taking away his cell phone and putting him in leg irons and handcuffs. Too bad they didn’t think of that.

Bauer begins working the phones, calling Chloe to get a lowdown of exactly what’s transpiring and then getting through to Karen Hayes at the White House. He pleads with her to stop the exchange, telling her that his father will doublecross them. Already against the plan on the grounds that it would be wrong to sacrifice the youngster, Karen decides to help.

She tries to enlist Tom Lennox so that they can present a united front to the President, but Tom will have none of it. Nor will he go “off the books” and do an end run around his boss. Tellingly, Tom casually mentions to Karen that he won’t be looking in her direction if she decides to help Jack which is all the encouragement she needs.

She calls Bill whose home is being searched by the FBI. At first refusing to take her call via his cell, Karen tries the landline and pleads with him to pick up on the answering machine. Bill relents and, after hearing her out, realizes what must be done and agrees to help Jack.

Josh and Doyle have landed at a deserted beach when Little Ricky’s phone rings. It’s Philip. And with CTU listening in, the elder Bauer orders the satellite coverage to cease. The old man’s technical wizardry is apparently limitless in that first he was able to override CTU’s security to get Zhou and his men into headquarters and now his ability to hack into CTU’s satellite feeds. Nadia realizes she has no choice and shuts down the link to the birds.

Having blinded his enemies, Philip now wants to speak to Josh. Doyle tells the kid to go easy on the old man to keep him off his guard but to no avail. “I hate you,” pretty much sums up Josh’s attitude. Philip tells him that because of what his father had done, he could never live in America, that people would always blame him for his father’s crimes.

Would that have been true? No doubt some people would blame the kid and his mother. But judging by what has happened to people like the Hinckley family (Reagan’s assassin) and Robert Oswald (JFK’s killer), I doubt whether it would have been much of a problem.

After hanging up, Philip sends a couple of thugs to retrieve the boy. And Doyle informs Nadia that he has it in mind to save the kid if he can. Nadia, under orders from the Veep, sternly warns him not to interfere – simply make the exchange. Little Ricky reluctantly agrees.

At the White House, Karen gets the ball rolling on Jack’s rescue by calling Nadia and asking for a real time feed of Jack’s position. Puzzled, Nadia agrees to give her the uplink. Karen then flashes the info to Bill who is looking to intercept Jack in the CTU SUV. Driving straight for the agent’s car, Bill runs it off the road. When one of the only two agents they left to guard Jack gets out of the car to investigate, Jack easily steals the other agent’s gun and coldcocks him. Bill distracts the other agent long enough for Jack to emerge from the car and disarm him. Off the two go to the rendezvous point to save Josh.

A completely unnecessary and time wasting scene occurs at CTU headquarters when Milo’s brother shows up and wants to know how his brother died. Nadia tells him he died saving her. Not surprised, says the brother. He loved you, you know.

Just the thing to make Nadia feel better.

After Chloe tells her that Jack has escaped, Nadia gives the bad news to Doyle out on the beach. Doyle assures Nadia that he will handle Jack by himself since moving TAC teams into the area will alert Philip.

It wouldn’t matter, of course, There isn’t a CTU agent yet made who could “handle” Jack Bauer.

Daniels comes and visits Karen in a holding cell and tells her that he’s disappointed in her, he expected better. Karen simply says that she doesn’t trust Philip to keep his end of the bargain. The Acting President rightly points out it wasn’t her call to make, something that seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Bauer is saying that his judgement is superior to that of the person whose job it is to safeguard America. And the fact that the Russians are breathing down our necks to retrieve the circuit board points up the logic of the Veeps actions. In the real world, Daniels is probably correct to sacrifice Josh in order to prevent a war. But on TV, the proprieties must be observed and the one innocent life is given superior weight to the interests of the United States.

Nice thought but hardly germane.

Philip calls Little Ricky and tells him to take Josh and start walking toward the shoreline. They hear a motor in the distance and suddenly, out of the darkness, a small, rubber boat appears with two men. Advancing toward each other guns drawn, Doyle orders one of the thugs to hand over the component so that the geeks at CTU can confirm its authenticity.

Surprise! It literally blows up in Little Ricky’s face. The thugs seize Josh and make for the open water only to have Jack and Bill show up. But they’re too late. The boat disappears into the darkness leaving Little Ricky with a badly burned face and Jack standing on the beach contemplating what to do next.

Calling Nadia to give her the bad news, Jack asks about satellite coverage. None is to be had thanks to Philip’s penetration of the CTU network. The boat gets away and once again, Jack is back at square one.

But perhaps not. Jack suddenly remembers that his father’s company has a hidden interest in oil platforms off the coast. Given the size of the boat the thugs took Josh away in, it stands to reason that they were either meeting a bigger boat or that they were on one of the oil drilling platforms.

This sets off a frantic search at CTU of the records to see if there is a platform that would fit the bill.

And on the platform, Philip tells Cheng (who seems to be everywhere) that he can have the board when he gets his hands on his grandson. We are told that they will be picked up shortly.

Back at CTU, Chloe is having trouble concentrating. Her vision blurs. When talking to Morris about how to access Philip’s financial records she suddenly faints dead away. Morris is beside himself calling for help over the motionless body of the woman he told less than 3 hours ago that their relationship was over.

But you knew that was a lie, didn’t you?

REFLECTIONS ON PART I

Glacially slow and plodding. Too many unnecessary scenes. What’s up with Chloe?

SUMMARY - PART II

Josh arrives on the oil platform and tells Philip that he doesn’t want to go, that he hates him. Philip says that he’s doing it for his own good and that he’ll understand later that he did the right thing. Cheng, who probably had a hard time understanding how a teenager would show such disrespect to an elder, informs Philip that the boat that will pick them up is 20 minutes away.

Back at CTU, Chloe is awake but a little shaky. Morris is very solicitous of her health but all the doctors will say is that Chloe is exhausted and dehydrated. Chloe tells Morris to get back to work and save Josh.

And within minutes, CTU hits paydirt. They find a decommissioned oil platform owned by one of Philip’s front companies. A thermal scan confirms that people are on board and that a small boat pulled up to the rig in the last few minutes.

As CTU readies an assault, Daniels pulls them up short. The Secretary of Defense tells the Veep that the only surefire way to see to it that the circuit board is destroyed is have some F-18’s obliterate the platform and everyone and everything on it. So instead of a rescue attempt, Daniels orders the F-18’s in, making Josh “an acceptable loss.”

This obviously doesn’t sit well with Uncle Jack. Disobeying orders to return to CTU, Jack tells Bill that he’s going to commandeer a helicopter and try to rescue the kid himself. And in one of the biggest surprises of the series (to me anyway) Bill throws the book away and agrees to help.

Perhaps being freed from the shackles of CTU authority has allowed Bill to explore his true nature as lawbreaker and rule buster. He did a great job getting Jack away from the clutches of CTU already and this effort to help him get his nephew back shows Bill to be a true Bauer disciple.

Stealing a CTU copter was a simple matter. Jack drew his gun and told the pilot to take a hike. Not waiting to find out if Jack was serious, the pilot obliged and Bill – who displayed another hidden talent – takes the controls and makes for the oil rig.

Back at the White House, as the F-18’s scream toward the target, the Veep is informed that the Russian troops are on the move and the attack on our base is imminent.

As an aside, I would point out that the chances of success for the Russians are slim and none. In every major engagement where American men have come up against Russian equipment, it has been no contest. We wiped out hundreds of Saddam’s tanks in 1991 with the loss of only one of our own. Our planes run rings around Russian MIG’s. Our tactics are superior, our men better trained and motivated than the Russian teenage draftees, and the hyper accuracy of our artillery is legend. In short, it would be an embarrassing slaughter for the Russians. Of course, that doesn’t mean anything because we would be at war – a war that could very quickly go nuclear. But I thought I’d point out something the writers obviously didn’t know.

But President Suvarov believes Daniels when he says that they are about ready to take out the platform when Russian intelligence intercepts a sub transmission indicating that it will pick up some passengers along with the board about 10 miles off the coast. He says he will be satisfied if the oil rig is destroyed. Good news for the United States. Bad news for young Josh.

On their way in the copter to the rig, Nadia calls asking just what they hell they think they’re doing, that she won’t sign off on a “suicide mission.” Bill chides her saying that she knows what they’re doing is right and could we please have the satellite feed so we know what we’re up against? For the first time all day, Nadia shows a little spine and agrees to give them the uplink.

Jack tells Bill to come in low to avoid detection but it does little good. Cheng’s goons spot the helo well out to sea. The Chinese security chief tells Philip to get in a boat docked below decks and that its locater beacon will allow the sub to pick them up. He gives Philip the board and races to confront Bauer.

With the F-18’s only two minutes out and locking on the target, the firefight begins. Bill expertly brings the copter up to the top level where the helicopter landing area is while Jack handles the killing. And oh my, does it get bloody. Taking out the two men guarding the landing area, Jack tells Bill to set down and follow him. Alighting from the bird, Jack starts firing at the 9 goons on the lower decks including Cheng. The silly Chinese have taken cover behind barrels of oil, however, and Bauer takes care of all them by firing into the barrels and blowing them up. Standing over an injured and prostrate Cheng, one almost expects Jack to put a bullet in him. Instead, he asks where his father is. Cheng tries to bluff him by telling Jack “you’re too late” but Jack races down into the bowels of the rig, hot on Philip’s trail.

Philip drags the reluctant Josh toward the boat but the youngster fights the older man to prevent his abduction. Getting the kid in a choke hold, Philip tells him to stop his whining. Seeming to acquiesce, Philip puts the gun down to lower the boat when surprise! The kid picks up the gun and aims it right at the old man’s chest.

Thinking to talk him out of it – something he has probably done all his life – Philip advances on the kid. Then, just as he is about to grab the gun, Josh fires.

Philip Bauer is badly wounded. Josh stands over him ready to finish the job when Jack shows up. He pleads with the kid not to fire saying that he would never be able to live with the pain of taking another human being’s life. The young man takes Jack’s good advice and lowers the gun.

The jets are literally seconds from firing when Jack has his final confrontation with his father. I’m not sure if it could have been done better if there had been more time. Philip pleads with Jack to kill him – something Jack won’t do. He wants him held “accountable” – we assume in a court of law. Not to be, says Philip. I can’t walk and you can’t carry me. Realizing this, Jack’s parting words to his father are “You’re getting off easy,” which we assume means not only for the crimes he committed that day but also for the years of emptiness Jack endured instead of the loving embrace of a real father.

The jets are too close and Jack must make a run for it. Bill helps him by lowering the ladder and racing to a lower level where he picks Jack up just as about a dozen smart missiles slam into the rig, obliterating it and, we assume, Philip Bauer.

Should we assume that? Long time viewers of the show know full well that unless we see a body, don’t assume anything. Was Philip hurt that badly? Jack never checked his wound. And that boat with the locater beacon was right there. Another year with Philip as Jack’s nemesis would be interesting but I think they could do better.

Back at the White House, Suvarov is convinced the board is destroyed and calls off the attack. As if any of us really cared that much.

Jack is riding on the hanging ladder as the chopper makes its way toward shore. Suddenly, he seems to fall off causing young Josh to panic. No worries, Jack makes it to shore and waves the chopper on. Bill says “he isn’t ready to come in yet” whatever that means.

Daniels relents and pardons both Karen and Bill. Bill makes it back to CTU and Josh is reunited with his mother. We find out Chloe is pregnant and that she and Morris are back together.

And all of that is just filler, leading up to the highlight of the evening and perhaps the season; Jack’s confrontation with Heller about Audrey and the part the Secretary played in his descent into darkness.

Heller is at his home talking on the phone when he hears the door open. He knows right away who it is. It’s Jack, who in one of the most obvious breaks in the real-time continuum in the show’s history (how did Jack get from the shore to the Secretary’s house so quickly on foot), has come for Audrey.

He’s not going to get her. But Jack lets Heller have it with both barrels. He’s just seen his father die and felt nothing. He blames Heller and people like him for what he has become: “The only thing I have ever done is what you and people like you have asked of me,” which is as telling a statement about who Jack Bauer really is that has ever been uttered on the show. Jack is a creature of those who created him. And in order to do as they have asked through the years, he has become what he most hates.

Heller tries to fob him off with platitudes about what the country owes him. Jack’s having none of it. “I’m not interested in what you think the country owes me. I want my life back.”

That last line was delivered almost plaintively by Jack. He wants to be normal again. He wants to live in a sane world. He warns Heller not to send anyone after him, that he’s “very good at disappearing” and “pretty good at killing, too.”

But Heller is brutal. “You’ll get back into the game,” and Audrey will suffer for it. It is then that Jack realizes that Heller is right, that he is, in fact, cursed. Anyone who comes in contact with him is doomed. Quietly, he goes into Audrey’s room. She’s asleep when he tells her how much he loves her and that he’s sorry to have to break his promise to always take care of her. Silently walking past Heller who is waiting outside her room, Jack leaves the house and walks toward an escarpment where the waves are crashing the shore far below. He looks lost, bereft. He gets a faraway look in his eye as he sees the road ahead of him. Without Audrey, without anyone, it is a road to nowhere.

BODY COUNT

Jack took out 6 of the 8 Chinese on the rig with explosions and offed two near the helicopter landing zone. Bill took out two more. Final totals are below:

TOTALS

JACK: 46

SHOW: 438

By: Rick Moran at 11:40 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

THE ROAD TO NOWHERE
CATEGORY: "24"

Last night’s season finale was not a total disappointment although you could say that of the five previous finales, this one was the worst. There were no real shocks, no big surprises, no deaths of major characters. But in my opinion, the last 10 minutes of the second hour redeemed the entire night and perhaps the entire season.

Jack’s soliloquy at the end, addressing Secretary Heller and letting loose all of his frustrations, his pain, and his doubts about himself and what he has become actually tied up some loose ends from the last 4 seasons. Jack Bauer is not unaware of what he has had to do to protect the United States and what the rivers of blood he has had to wade through have made him. He hates himself for what he has become.

As I have noted since the season started, his obsession with Audrey is based on the fact that she is his last link to the world of the normal, the sane. When Jack almost tearfully tells Heller that he wants his life back, he is referring to the first season when life included family, a home he could find refuge in, the support of his wife, the love of his daughter. This veneer of normalcy (despite the problems with both wife and daughter) gave him a psychological grounding that allowed him to justify his work to himself as necessary. He clearly saw himself as a patriot doing good works. Was it pathetic of him to believe that all of that could be recaptured if only he could be with Audrey? Heller thought so as I think we were to believe as well.

As his life darkened in succeeding years and he immersed himself more and more into his work, it became harder to justify what he was doing in the name of the United States alone. In the end, his fanatical determination to get the job done – to win – overrode any personal considerations or doubts about the methods he was using. And his accusations against Heller during that excellent acting turn by Kiefer Sutherland revealed a Jack Bauer who knows that he was used by politicians and policy makers as the bluntest of instruments to save their own rotten hides when the security of the United States was on the line. All they had to do was appeal to his patriotism and point him toward the terrorists. Jack did the rest and made them all look good.

More than two years ago, I asked the question is Jack Bauer a patriot or a thug? To answer that question, I hearkened back to a time when America was young and worshipped the legends of Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. Those two “hunter heroes’ epitomized American exceptionalism – lone figures set against he backdrop of the American frontier, fighting wild animals and Indians, independent, self-reliant, willing to go against the grain to get the job done.

Much has happened to Jack in two years. I think in a very real sense, he has become an anti-hero, related more to Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” gunman whose latent violent proclivities are used to protect the weak and innocent rather than an unsullied hero who selflessly sacrifices himself for his country. No matter what you think of his methods, justified or not, the fact is that Jack Bauer has blood on his hands. No real hero would allow his personal feelings of revenge to affect his work. And this year, more than any other, the palpable feeling imparted to the audience was that Jack had turned his mission into a personal quest for payback. Not necessarily only against the Chinese but against anything and everything that had made him what he is.

I wish the writers had fleshed out this resentment a little more during the course of the season. It would have made Jack’s confrontation with Heller that much more dramatic. As it was, coming after Jack had basically left his father to die, it was emotionally charged drama – especially for longtime viewers of the show who recall how Jack almost worshipped the ground that Heller walked on, looking upon him as a surrogate father. Seeing him as one of the main authors of his pain and suffering had to leave Jack feeling bereft. And when Heller hammered home the point that whoever Jack touches ends up dead or ruined, Bauer must have realized that he could never go home, that the road he must travel from here on out would be a lonely one, a road to nowhere. And the only solace he will find, the only peace available to him, perhaps the only thing that will redeem him in his own eyes, will be his own death.

That, I believe, will be the basis for next year’s show. It will almost certainly be the last given the fact that Kiefer Sutherland’s contract runs out in 2008. And the disappointing ratings this year probably mean that the show has run its course with TV viewers. As has been pointed out by critics, they’ve done just about everything as far as existential threats to the United States – nukes, gas, bio-terror, assassinations. About the only place they haven’t gone is inside Jack Bauer.

Can a character-driven season like that succeed? Sutherland is certainly a good enough actor to carry it off provided the writing is crisp and the underlying story a little more plausible than we’ve seen recently. Rumor has it that the show will leave the confines of CTU which makes sense given the fact that Karen and Bill will be retired and Chloe will be on maternity leave. If they make next year’s season a personal quest for Bauer, those characters and their special abilities and connections could probably function as Jack’s technical back-up on whatever mission he will be on.

The real question is do we still care enough about Jack Bauer to watch him week in and week out? My personal answer is yes although I have doubts that the show will ever be able to recapture the kind of audience (17 million two years ago compared to about 10 million today) that it had in its heyday. No matter. The core fanatics like me will watch anything with Jack Bauer in it and thus give the show a nice send off into TV history.

And when that history is written, it will note that 24 changed TV drama for good and Jack Bauer will go down as one of the more unforgettable television characters ever.

The show premiered two months after 9/11. At the time, the country was ready for a TV drama to take the American people into a world where terrorism was more than something you simply read about but rather was a bona fide threat to our safety and security. Five years out, we forget that basic fact at our own peril. And eventually, we won’t have 24 around to remind us.

NOTE: My recap of last night’s finale will be up around 11:00 AM Central.

By: Rick Moran at 8:00 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

Slublog linked with Upcoming Television...
5/21/2007
“24″ SPECULATION FEST AND DEAD POOL
CATEGORY: "24"

May I have your attention please?

As we prepare ourselves for tonight’s sure-to-be-rousing finale of 24, there are a couple of things we should keep in mind so that the shocks and surprises don’t overwhelm our nervous systems and send us scurrying under the bed, not to emerge until next season.

First, don’t expect too much. Relying on the writers to make good on all the plot twists and threads that they’ve carelessly thrown in to the show this year would be dangerous. Best to approach the show tonight with the very same attitude that the writers have; viewers are stupid sheep and we’ve forgotten just about everything that’s happened except for the last six hours or so.

I guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you keep that thought uppermost in your mind during the entire two hour finale tonight.

Secondly, expect the death of a major character. To facilitate our speculation, I’ve started a dead pool here at the House. Please choose one of the following (or offer your own choice for shocking death) in the comments below. You will note that I have not included Philip Bauer. It would obviously not be a shock to see him offed by his own son. Nor have I included anyone at the White House.

1. Audrey Raines
2. Chloe O’Brien
3. Morris O’Brien
4. Nadia Yassir
5. Bill Buchanan
6. Josh Bauer
7. Marilyn Bauer
8. Mike (Little Ricky) Doyle
9. Jack Bauer

I included Jack for a reason.And that is, my main speculation for tonight’s show is that we will not know at the conclusion whether Jack Bauer is alive or dead.

I think that Fox wants the option of not bringing the show back after its disappointing ratings this season. I also believe, reading between the lines of several Howard Gordon interviews I’ve read in the last two months, that the producers are not quite sure where to go with the series to revive it. Let’s face it. The show is tired. Six seasons is an awful long run for a show with this kind of format where the writers are constantly challenged to come up with ever more inventive plot twists and threats against America. Gordon himself may be anxious to move on to other things.

For all those reasons, expect an ambiguity surrounding the fate of Jack. He may even end up being thought dead by his CTU comrades but no body will be found.

As for the rest, my pick in the dead pool is Chloe. Almost written out of the show at some points this season, Chloe has lost her snark. She’s become a kindler, gentler, more human Chloe. Time to pull the plug.

And what about the paternity of Josh Bauer? Whose son is he?

Will Phillip be killed off? Or will they try to bring him back next year to torment Jack some more? If he dies, will Jack kill him, thus adding patricide to his ever growing burden of hellish images he must live with for the rest of his life?

Will Audrey make another appearance?

Does anyone care if we avoid war with Russia?

Give it your best shot in the comments. And tomorrow, we’ll see if anyone came close. (Note: I’ve never come close in three years of doing this.)

By: Rick Moran at 11:18 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

5/20/2007
PROVEN: CONSERVATIVES ARE SEX PERVERTS
CATEGORY: Moonbats

Hullabaloo’s Tristero is a a truly deep thinker. He thinks such deep thoughts that if he thought any deeper, his mind would disappear down a black hole. This would be improvement in the quality of his cognitive output in that at least it’s a given that not even light can escape the gravity well of a singularity – a boon for supporters of rational thought everywhere.

Despite this, Mr.Tristero has, in fact, hit the nail on the head with this post where he idly wonders about those conservative lawmakers who are abortion foes and anti-gay marriage advocates by day but by night, are sex perverts. Or maybe he hit his noggin on a nail thus causing his head to explode, popped like a helium filled balloon. The only problem is, such a happenstance presupposes that there is anything at all in his head in the first place. And I am loathe to draw conclusions from facts not in evidence.

To prove his case, he uses as an example a human turd out of South Dakota, a legislator caught abusing children in a particularly vile manner. His conclusion?

But this scandal brings up loads of questions, (like how he could live with himself as probably the most obvious). But the most puzzling of all is how he could persistently seek legislative office (and he tried for the Senate but failed) and not only that but go out of his way to sponsor this legislation, given his propensities.

And I think it may be fair to raise a more general question, whether an obsessive concern with regulating abortion and defining marriage has more than just a casual association with sexual perversion. By “obsessive concern,” I’m not talking about some decent schnook who’s been fed christianist propaganda,. I’m talking about someone who, like Klaudt, gets all proactive about it, deliberately trying to legislate morality, trying to build a career on it.

Let’s try and stretch that “casual association” with sexual perversion, shall we? First of all, we have this clod from South Dakota. Then there’s Foley. And, um…oh yeah. That mayor out in Washington state, the internet stalker. And then there’s…uh…well, I’m sure that Tristero could think of hundreds and hundreds of other conservative lawmakers to make his case, that there is “more than a casual association” between social conservative lawmakers and sexual perversion, can’t he. Can he?

The idiot is talking through a bodily orifice not generally used for conversing. What an absolutely riotously stupid notion. The idiocy of even broaching such a connection leaves one gasping for air. How many lawmakers, (and just to give his case a boost, let’s include preachers and others who are just advocates for those positions), have been arrested on charges of sexual perversion? Maybe we should ask John Aravosis. I’m sure he has those figures at his slimy fingertips.

Take that number – and once again, let’s be generous and say 20 – and divide it by the thousands of lawmakers who similarly use the social issues for electoral advancement but don’t go around fondling little boys or playing doctor with children. The fact that it is an infinitesimal percentage of the whole tells you all you need to know about Mr. Tristero’s mind numbingly stupid postulate.

No, my brainless friend, it is definitely not fair to raise the more general question about “obsessive concern” for the issues of abortion and gay marriage and any connection with sexual perversion. Only in a warped, dysfunctional, hyper-partisan mind would such a stew of witlessness make its way from some deep, unknowable part of the subconscious and see the light of day.

And Tristero’s got company. The list of blogs and bloggers on the left who have jumped on Tristero’s mindless meanderings is staggering. Would someone please tell me what possible connection there could be in any clinical, scientific, statistical, or even coincidental way between perverse sexual proclivities and those who advocate against abortion and gay marriage? You can’t because there is none to be found – except in the feverish blatherings of left wing bloggers who insist on wildly extrapolating conclusions not based on any rational suppositions and from virtually non-existent evidence.

It is the purest of smears – par for the course from those in the “reality based community” who regularly take leave of their senses to revel in illogic and bathe in the bile generated by their hate and loathing for their political opponents.

Hypocrisy and politics are joined at the hip. Al Gore (who arguably wants to control my life as much if not more than any social conservative through his draconian “solutions” to global warming ) weeps for the planet while living in a house that generates more carbon emissions in one night than my little abode does in two weeks. Ditto the celebrities who are on the global warming finger wagging tour who fly around the world in private carbon spewing jets.

Egregious examples of hypocrisy abound on both sides of the aisle. Why then this obsession with conservative hypocrisy regarding sex? In the finest intellectual traditions of Hullabalo and Tristero, let me speculate that by railing against this kind of hypocrisy, lefties are covering up their own sexual inadequacies. Perhaps they can’t get it up unless watching re runs of Pee Wee’s Playhouse? Or maybe it’s something more sinister. It could be that they are secretly sexually envious of Republicans because everyone knows that conservative women are drop dead gorgeous compared to liberal females. Their secret fantasies about conservative babes drives them insane, thus these irrational attacks.

Of course, that last was a baseless, scurrilous, and unfounded attack with no evidence to speak of and counterintuitive to boot.

Welcome to Tristero’s world…

By: Rick Moran at 12:14 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

5/19/2007
MUSINGS ON A LATE SPRING AFTERNOON

Weekends are mostly quiet around The House. Visitors are few and far between and nobody bothers to read what I write.

Come to think of it – that pretty much sounds like what happens on weekdays too. In truth, blogging lately has been a depressing pastime. Events here and around the world are careening toward some kind of climax – perhaps not an explosion but certainly some sort of denouement that will alter the landscape and make the world a different place. Political re-alignment here at home is in the offing – something the Republicans in Congress seemed bound and determined to speed along. It smells like 1979 to me. All the signs that pointed to an overturning of the established order back then – deep discontent among our fellow citizens, a sense of events spinning out of our control, a world situation made dicey by our own missteps, and the nagging feeling that a change would probably do us some good – are eerily present in 2007.

Of course, the big difference is that the Democrats don’t have a Ronald Reagan to take advantage of the situation. Nobody will ever confuse Hilliary’s shrill denunciations with the twinkle in the Gipper’s eye when he zinged an opponent. Nor will anyone fail to see the difference between the inspirational yet empty platitudes of Obama with Reagan’s soaring rhetoric that touched something so American in people’s souls.

The Republicans don’t have a Reagan to save them either. Just as well. I think even The Great Communicator would find it hard to get through to the blockheads who control the party. From the national headquarters on down through my local Republican organization, the GOP is demonstrating all the symptoms of a sick puppy; lethargy, sleepiness, a pathetic and forlorn look on its face, and the disgusting habit of soiling its own house.

What the Democrats have is plenty of ammunition to use against the Republicans and the fact that voters are in a punishing mood. That and a curious death wish exhibited by the GOP means that chances are very good that even if a Republican is elected President, the House and Senate gains made by the Democrats will be augmented considerably in 2008. And given the enormous power of incumbency today, that will mean a virtual GOP lockout from regaining power on the Hill for the foreseeable future.

Those of you inclined to be more optimistic and wish to take me to task for being a gloomy gus, I have some news for you – it’s only going to get worse.

The Democrats have yet to really get busy investigating stuff that even if you are a dyed in the wool Bushie will make your hair stand on end. I’m talking about billions and billions of dollars that have disappeared in Iraq. Just up and went missing. No one knows where it is, whether it was spent on legitimate projects or whether someone just walked into the Coalition Provisional Authority offices and stuffed gobs of $100 bills down their pants. Estimates range from $4 billion to $7 billion dollars of taxpayers money down the rabbit hole.

Then there was the actual letting of contracts and that whole mess which will show not only favoritism toward Republican contractors but also a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse. There have already been at least two trials where contractors have been found guilty and the investigations continue.

Similar accusations (and proof that there is fire where that smoke is coming from) will be forthcoming when Democrats investigate the letting of Katrina rebuilding and clean up contracts. Some of that information has been out in the open for a while but we can trust the Democrats to tie it all up and present it to the voters with a nice, neat, bow.

Then there’s Iraq. I want to say that by November, 2008 Iraq will be well on its way to becoming a viable state, relatively violence free with a government who respects the political rights of all of its citizens. I want to say it but I won’t. Iraq then will probably look a lot like Iraq today. Less violence, perhaps. But the very same problems that have to be solved before the bleeding will stop are still not going to be addressed by the Iraqi government. They are incapable of dealing with reality. And I might add that no timetable or benchmark is going to get them off square one either. So much for the Democrat’s “plan” to end the war in anything but what they’ve desired all along; a humiliating retreat in the face of the enemy.

So there’s that to look forward to. And the almost certain collapse of the Musharraf government in Pakistan – or at least his less than graceful exit from power. Who replaces him will be one of the more interesting questions facing the United States over the next 18 months.

And Iran. Let’s not forget our friends, the mad mullahs. I’d like to say that by November, 2008 the threat of a nuclear Iran will have diminished and their dreams of becoming a regional powerhouse tossed on the dustbin of history. I’d like to say it but I won’t. I will boldly go out on a limb and predict that the Administration will not bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities nor will Israel. That’s because the mullahs are still having problems with the technical aspects of enriching uranium. (Note: The New York Times story last week about Iranian progress at Nantanz was incorrect. See here for a full accounting of what ElBaradei actually said. They are still 3-5 years away from having the bomb.)

Iran will still be making trouble in Iraq on election day – even if we have begun to pull out. This story in today’s Guardian - a situation with the militias I’ve alluded to many times in the South – shows what the mullah’s game is in Iraq. I have little confidence that we can do a damn thing about it.

North Korea will continue to drag its heels, trying to extort more and more from us as we pay them to abandon their nuclear program. Africa will continue to bleed in places like Darfur, Nigeria, the Congo, and points in between. Asia will continue to be roiled by Islamic fundamentalism. Europe will continue its slide into a stuporous defeatism with regards to the War on Terror and their ability to work with the United States in any meaningful way to defeat Islamism.

Yoikes! But my black dog’s got a hold of me today! I hasten to add that most of this is not the fault of the United States but rather historical forces that have been simmering since before the Cold War ended. Nor is it possible for the United States to “manage” or even “guide” events in most of these places to mitigate the worst of what is going on. No nation has that kind of power. This is simply the world as it is circa 2007. And we have to live in it.

It would be comforting to think that a change in parties controlling Washington will have much of an effect on what is occurring on this planet. It won’t. It can’t. The liberal Democrats are as bereft of ideas on how to confront most of these problems as the clueless policy makers and stubborn, turf conscious bureaucrats who currently run things. It’s hard for us Americans to admit it but some problems are just not solvable. Change comes whether we like it or not. Sometimes that change is accompanied by rivers of blood. Sometimes not. Our ability to determine one outcome or the other is extremely limited. Military power, “soft power,” economic power, cultural dominance – all pale in comparison to the tidal forces that are moving various peoples toward a far distant and unknowing shore.

This is the ebb and flow of history. All we can do is sit in the boat and ride out the storm as best we can.

By: Rick Moran at 3:04 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (23)

Phentermine mg. linked with Phentermine....
The Colossus of Rhodey linked with Watcher's Council results...
5/18/2007
CROSSTOWN SHOWDOWN REDUX
CATEGORY: WHITE SOX

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Jermaine Dye blasts a two run homer in yesterday’s win over the hated Yanks.

These AL-NL tilts seem to be scheduled earlier and earlier in the year. I mean, nobody pays attention to baseball until at least Memorial Day – many not until the 4th of July. (Those of you who hate baseball, move along here…nothing to see).

At any rate, here we are in the middle of May and we’re already getting the blood feud matches between my World Champion Once Removed White Sox and the Forever Hopeful But Always Woeful Cubbies.

For the Cubs, this year is no different than any other. They are on a pace to lose about 88 games. The Sox project out to 87 wins at this point. Neither finish would be good enough to make the playoffs although if the Cubbies do end up losing that many games, they may very well be in the running for the rights to the first draft pick next June – an honor bestowed on the team with the worst record in all of baseball.

Both teams are scuffling at this point. The Sox are the worst hitting team in the major leagues and the Cubs…are just about the worst period. A study in contrasts would be yesterday’s games for the two clubs. The Chisox beat the Yankess 4-1 thanks to Jermaine Dye (hitting an anemic .216) and his 4 runs batted in as well as some outstanding pitching by John Garland (3-2, 3.18 ERA). The Cubs meanwhile took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the Ninth inning against the Mets and promptly laid down and asked the Mets for a little tummy rub. The New Yorkers obliged scoring 5 runs for a spectacular 6-5 triumph.

Okay…so stuff happens. Except 39 games into the season, the Northsiders bullpen has already blown an incredible 8 saves and has suffered 11 losses. Lou Pinella, who managed the hapless Tampa Bay franchise these last few years, is used to this sort of thing. But very soon, he is going to realize that the job he took with such high hopes will become one, long nightmare into oblivion as his charges will prance and dance their way through the summer finding ever more novel and creative ways to throw a ballgame.

He will need therapy by August, I assure you.

Meanwhile, the Pale Hose are barely treading water. Pitching has been the only thing keeping them in the race so far. But with injuries to their regular leadoff hitter Podsednik and slugger Jim Thome plus the incredibly slow start to the season by Konerko, Dye, Crede, and just about everyone else, the Sox could easily go on a long, devastating losing streak that would just about spell the end of their season. In the most viscously competitive division in baseball – the AL Central – a losing streak of 7 or 8 games could put the team behind the 8 ball for the rest of the year.

Most observers believe their hitting will eventually come around. It better be sooner than later. And this weekend would be an excellent place to start.

By: Rick Moran at 12:36 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

PROM DATE WITH A PIG

Reading and listening to politicians talk about their Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill is an interesting anthropological exercise. Being a separate species of human, Homo Politicus exhibits all the characteristics one might expect from a breed apart.

The ability to talk out of both sides of the mouth at the same time is highly prized in Politicus although evolution has given the genus a forked tongue and a larger mouth to go along with this ability. This tends to force the nose to get out of joint on a regular basis which can be a hazard to the beast’s health considering all the hot air generated by an increased lung capacity. This tends to crowd the heart in the chest cavity, making that organ much smaller than ours. But evolution once again comes to the rescue as not only does Politicus have engorged bile ducts (a necessity given how much of that precious fluid they generate on a regular basis) but also a massive bladder – all the better to piss on the rest of us whenever they get the chance.

Many of these unusual attributes have been on display as Politicus has been busy trying to justify its sellout of the United States on immigration to a bored, cynical public who doesn’t believe half of what it hears and is depressed and discouraged by listening to the other half:

“The question is, ‘Do you want to solve the problem, or do you want to complain about it?’ ” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “There will be people who want to complain and will miss the problem if they can’t complain about it. This is about solving it.”

Yep. My opposition is based solely on the fact that I won’t have anything else to write about if immigration goes away as an issue. Who knows. Maybe I’d be forced to write a series of articles on incompetent lickspittle bureaucrats running the most spectacularly inept and hugely wasteful executive department in history. A department that after 5 years of existence still can’t figure out how to organize itself or, more importantly, settle the bureaucratic turf battles that make protecting the homeland effectively an impossibility.

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me angry.

And Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a White House hopeful, warned that “the proposed bill could devalue the importance of family reunification, replace the current group of undocumented immigrants with a new undocumented population consisting of guest workers who will overstay their visas, and potentially drive down wages of American workers.”

The guy sounds more Republican than most Republicans. Two out of three ain’t bad, Obie although the idea that “family reunification” would be “devalued in this bill is silly. We’re going to allow 750,000 immediate family members a year for the next 8 years to come into this country legally. Just how many more would you let in?

“Year after year, we’ve heard talk about reforming our system. We’ve heard the bumper-sticker solutions, the campaign ads, and we know how divisive it is,” Kennedy said. “Well, now, it is time for action. 2007 is the year we must fix our broken system.”

A broken system is preferable to one that surrenders to lawlessness, panders to interest groups, sacrifices our security, and promotes separateness at the expense of assimilation. And speaking of bumper stickers, how about this one: Ted Kennedy’s Car Has Killed More People Than My Gun. Or how about “I would rather hunt with Dick Cheney than drive with Ted Kennedy.”

It is intended to reflect the labor needs of the United States in the 21st century, rather than the 19th century,” a senior Republican staffer said on condition of anonymity.

Actually, given the low skilled labor performed by most of the illegals today, the bill reflects very much our labor needs from the 19th century. And don’t mention the fact that the German, or Italian, or Slavic, or Mexican immigrant from 125 years ago was pretty much forced by circumstances to learn English or not work and that the immigrant’s social network – unofficial and not sanctioned or created by any government – worked just fine in helping the new arrival assimilate into American society.

What our anonymous friend is talking about are the 180,000 or so high tech, high end immigrants with advanced degrees or special skills (H-1B visas) who would be allowed into this country every year under the new bill. For the overwhelming majority of the rest – hardworking, diligent, family oriented and illegal – any 19th century immigrant would have little trouble performing most of the jobs taken by today’s immigrant scofflaws.

No wonder the staffer wanted to remain anonymous. He’s ignorant.

A voice in the wilderness:

“What part of illegal does the Senate not understand? Any plan that rewards illegal behavior is amnesty,” said Rep. Brian Bilbray (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus.

Such straight talk will get the Congressman in trouble, no doubt. He’ll be branded a “racist” before today is out.

Immigrant advocacy and labor groups also oppose the terms of a new guest worker program in which low-skilled immigrants would be forced to leave the country after temporary stints and would have limited opportunities to stay and get on a path to permanent legalization.

“Without a real path to legalization, the program will exclude millions of workers and thus ensure that America will have two classes of workers, only one of which can exercise workplace rights,” said John J. Sweeney, the AFL-CIO president.

I know, John. It’s tough to try and force unionization on people who are only going to be here two years. Not enough time to coerce enough people into checking that little box that allows you to grab a portion of their wages for political contributions.

Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., who helped shape the deal, called it “long overdue.” However, Mitt Romney said it was the “wrong approach,” which provided “a form of amnesty” to illegal immigrants. Fred Thompson, who is considering entering the race, said it should be scrapped in favor of a measure to secure the border.

I’ll tell you what’s “long overdue,” John. Your immediate and humiliating exit from Republican presidential politics. See Hugh Hewitt for Mitt’s complete remarks that strongly opposes the bill and takes a swipe at the soon to be ex-presidential candidate McCain. (Mama Romney didn’t raise no fool.) And good for Fred! Except this one is a no brainer if you’re running for President and want a “GOP” after your name on the ballot. It remains to be seen what would happen if Mitt or even Fred made it all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

What chance does this bill have in passing? They’ll fiddle with the family requirements a bit and fudge the numbers on the guest worker program. And they may even increase the security requirements thinking to peel off some GOP House members. But essentially, this is it. And since politicians love more than anything else to be able to announce to their constituents that they have “solved” a serious problem (or at least “addressed” it), the bill will pass overwhelmingly in both Houses – almost certainly before the July 4 recess.

But no matter what they do, the bill is still a disaster. It’s a disaster for the country first, party second, and I would even say a disaster for illegal immigrants as well. I devoutly wished they would have increased legal immigration and streamlined the path to citizenship to reward those who play by the rules and encourage new arrivals to assimilate quickly into American society. Draconian enforcement of workplace strictures against hiring illegals in the first place would make coming here a much more difficult proposition. And we could dramatically reduce the numbers of illegals already here that way while not having to “round up 12 million people” and send them home.

Not a perfect “solution” by a long shot. But to pretend this bill does anything except ensure that another 12 million people will cross the border illegally over the next few years waiting for their chance at the amnesty brass ring is stupid, silly, and self defeating. We have created a cycle guaranteed to keep illegal immigration a problem for the next generation to solve. And we will have devalued the rule of law, the security of our borders, and our national sovereignty in the process.

A pig in a dress is still a pig – even if you invite it to the Senior Prom and give it a corsage. You just can’t cover up the ugly stench of political pandering by gussying up a bill with so many flaws. It’s still a bad piece of legislation no matter how you try and sell it. And it should be soundly defeated if there were an ounce of sense left on the Hill.

UPDATE

Michelle Malkin’s post from last night rounds up late reaction. And go ahead and vote in her poll on what you think of the bill. (Sorry – nothing stronger than “No” and “Hell No!”).

UPDATE

Allah’s contribtion this morning is a pretty straightforward take on the politics of the bill and the Democrat’s line of attack in attempting to exploit their obvious advantages:

The reason the nutroots has started to reframe racial politics as Republicans versus “brown people” (which Ace, for one, writes about regularly) instead of relying on the traditional Republicans-versus-blacks paradigm is because (a) they’ve already got 90+% of the black vote, so returns are diminishing, and (b) with immigration front and center after 9/11, there’s a whole new minority group affected by key policies that they can demagogue the hell out of for votes. Hence the new, expansive “brown person” formulation, which pits most racial minorities against conservatives in one fell swoop by suggesting that “brownness” itself is somehow frightening or intolerable to us and thus the real cause of all this hand-wringing over open borders. That term of art hasn’t trickled up to the party establishment yet, so far as I know, but it surely will have by the time illegals are legalized and begin to unionize and register in numbers. If the rhetoric is deployed skillfully enough (and the left is very, very good at this sort of thing), it could raise what they’d doubtless call “brown consciousness” to the point where it’s worth another 10-20% of the already large and growing Latino vote.

I’m not so sure. The dynamic in the Hispanic community has always been hard to read because there are actually different “communities.” I doubt whether you would lump Hispanics from south Florida with southwestern Hispanics (many of whom have families that have been here longer than any English speakers) or even “barrio” Hispanics from Los Angeles with illegals from Texas. As time goes on, Hispanics are becoming less monolithic a voting bloc as more and more immigrants move into the middle and upper middle classes. I see where Bush/Rove were heading in 2004 but it may have been a decade too soon. The entreprenurial spirit is alive and well in the Hispanic community and I have little doubt that these “natural Republicans” will only keep growing in numbers over the next few years.

By: Rick Moran at 7:23 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

5/17/2007
AN INVITATION TO DISASTER

As the Senate gleefully races toward the immigration reform gasoline dump sporting a lit match and a truckload of nitroglycerin, an outline of their handiwork shows the true nature of the disaster that is about to befall the republic.

Think I’m exaggerating? A little “Nuthouse nuttery” that I’m inclined to indulge in from time to time?

Think again. What these guardians of our national security have wrought is nothing short of a surrender to lawlessness, a pandering to an interest group so nauseating in its totality and so base in it calculated appeal for their electoral loyalty that it takes one’s breath away to contemplate how easily our safety has been compromised in the name of a few, lousy, votes.

For in truth, this “comprehensive reform” is hardly comprehensive and reforms nothing. Instead, it validates lawbreaking, rewards separateness, spits in the face of those who have followed the rules and come here legally, and endangers the cohesiveness and unity of the country. It also opens wide the borders and invites another two or three generations of immigration scofflaws to enjoy our hospitality, awaiting their turn on the amnesty-go-round willingly supplied by politicians who refuse to do the right thing in favor of being able to preen, primp, and posture in front of the voters, touting their credentials as compassionate lawmakers concerned about the “plight” of illegal aliens.

The more one reads about this bill, the more it becomes clear that border security advocates and immigration law enforcement supporters have been thrown off the train in favor of full blown amnesty and a visa program with big enough loopholes that you can drive a truck full of “undocumented workers” through:

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a “Z visa” and — after paying fees and a $5,000 fine — ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first.

They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.

A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called “triggers” had been activated.

Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time.

Why bother with the “Z” visa when the “probationary card” will get you by for a few years? Then it would simply be a matter of going underground again, counting on the same kind of lax enforcement that has been the hallmark of our immigration policies for decades.

The “guest worker” program is another invitation to abuse. Anyone want to bet how many of those workers actually go home after 2 years?

One aspect of the bill not mentioned in the AP story but that Michelle Malkin has via email from Roy Beck of NumbersUSA:

WE LOSE —by getting a tripling of the rate of chain migration of extended family from around 250,000 a year to around 750,000 a year for about a decade;

IN EXCHANGE FOR —after about a decade, there should be no more chain migration (assuming that Kennedy doesn’t add it back in by then);

That’s three quarters of a million people – slightly less than the number of legal immigrants allowed on an annual basis – who will be dumped on the social welfare system (schools, hospitals, and government dependence programs), placing strain on what is already a nearly broken network of support for the poor. This will be in addition to the millions who have been fearful of taking advantage of this system because of their previously illegal status.

We should brace ourselves for the human flood who will seek to cross the border between now and when the amnesty takes effect. Now that the amnesty cat is out of the bag, it is more than likely that there will be a huge surge of humanity desperate to get here to grab the brass ring so eagerly offered up by our lawmakers.

How this will scramble politics is uncertain. I would not be surprised if this measure was the catalyst for the formation of a third party. Nor would it surprise me if it didn’t disgust enough conservatives that the political re-alignment predicted by some didn’t become a reality as a result of the right abandoning the GOP. For Presidential politics, I’d like to say it would doom John McCain’s candidacy but unfortunately, we will not be vouchsafed such a happy occurrence. Nor will it give much of a boost to Mr. Tancredo’s one-issue crusade, although one can barely see him as Vice Presidential material if the issue is still hot this time next year.

Make no mistake. This bill is a watershed, the GOP’s Gettysburg. And those of us who favor enforcement and security are in the position of making a futile charge up the long slope under the guns of the pro-amnesty crowd from both parties.

And there’s not a damn thing we can do to stop it.

UPDATE

Allah has a good question:

Rich Lowry thinks the “triggers” are a scam from the word go, with amnesty granted immediately upon passage of the bill and the “Z visas,” which are keed to the enforcement triggers, only relevant insofar as they allow the bearer to travel. But even if Lowry’s wrong, what happens to the illegals who are here while the feds are working towards the triggers? Let’s say they get bogged down and can’t get them done for another decade. What’s the status of the “undocumented” during that interim period?

Answer: Congress will simply say the “triggers” are in place even if they aren’t. Just move the goal posts.

And Hugh Hewitt issues a challenge:

If there aren’t 41 Republican senators willing to fight for the common sense solution, the Senate GOP will be staggered again, just as it was by John Warner’s and Susan Collins’ attempt to agree to slow surrender in Iraq some months ago. Apparently the bulk of the Senate Republicans simply do not understand that an opposition party is supposed to oppose bad laws, not attempt to merely dilute them.

Michelle Malkin has many links, but despite the obvious anger in the ranks of the party’s base, this bill will move quickly unless stopped immediately. Call 202-225-3121 and ask for the offices of Mitch McConnell, Trent Lott or Jon Kyl, the three leaders of the GOP in the upper chamber. Surrendering half the fence is the first step in surrendering half the seats they are trying to defend in ‘08, and Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman, John Sununu and others ought to be demanding the caucus stop this national security and political insanity. The Senate GOP can and should filibuster any bill that dismantles half the fence before it was built, and any bill that is vague on the details of amnesty-lite.

GOP lawmakers should be polishing up those back benches, making them nice and presentable. They’re going to be stuck there a few decades if they meekly submit to the passage of this bill.

By: Rick Moran at 5:19 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 05/18/2007...
Macsmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense linked with More notes on the Immigration bill...
COMEY’S TALE RAISES STAKES FOR BUSH
CATEGORY: Government, Politics

If I could guarantee that this story won’t get any bigger, I wouldn’t take the time nor make the effort to analyze the many parts of it or try and place it in a context that is both realistic and logical.

In other words, the furious spin being given James B. Comey’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee by the usual suspects on the left, while leaving much to be desired with regards to the conclusions they reach about the way the NSA surveillance program was conducted and legally justified, nevertheless raises extremely troubling questions about the Bush Administration’s adherence to the law during the critical time frame of October, 2001 to March, 2004.

Did Bush violate the law by authorizing the NSA program? A federal judge has said so, although many respected and knowledgeable legal observers – not all of them Bush supporters – pointed out numerous deficiencies in that judge’s opinion that will most likely result in the decision being overturned. But if the President violated the law, is there any possible justification for it that would or should keep him from being impeached? It seems to me that the kinds of lawbreaking involved here are exactly what the Founders had in mind when they added the impeachment codicil to the Constitution; the executive branch overstepping its authority and carrying out actions expressly forbidden it by the Congress.

But do the obvious mitigating circumstances – 9/11 and its aftermath – mean anything in this context? Do we approach lawbreaking – if indeed laws were broken – with eyes blinded to the realities faced by our elected leaders? The left would dearly love to do so. For the rest of us, each must determine the answer to that question in their own heart, free of partisan taint or Bush hatred.

This is how important Robert Comey’s testimony is. It gives Congressional investigators a direct avenue to determining whether the impeachment and trial of President Bush is justified. And it does so because there is both a document trail to be unearthed and witnesses to be deposed who could possibly corroborate serious violations of the law.

For those of us not versed in the intricacies of the law, we are forced to rely on good old fashioned common sense and our innate belief in determining what is fair when examining both sides of the debate over what happened. For in truth, besides questions about the law, we must look at the people involved and try to determine their motivations, their state of mind when confronted with the unprecedented domestic threat in the aftermath of 9/11.

Comey’s testimony was, to put it mildly, a jaw dropper. He has been described as a staunch Republican and a straight shooter by some. However, there is a much different take on Comey – one that questions his close ties to Senator Chuck Schumer as well as personal animus he felt toward staffers in the Office of Vice President Cheney:

Comey came on board as DAG [Deputy Attorney General] at the beginning of December, 2003, and he had some unusual support for a Republican appointee—Senator Chuck Schumer was very much in his corner. So it was that Comey was pretty much brand new on the job at the time he decided to reverse what appeared to the Administration as settled policy on the NSA eavesdropping program—certainly a shocking and radical development in any Administration. But Comey had already taken actions that boded ill for the White House, and especially for the Office of the Vice President (OVP), with whom the transcript shows he was in serious, and probably personal, conflict.

Comey, when asked for names of his adversaries in the OVP, mentioned his disagreements with VP Dick Cheney and Cheney’s Legal Counsel, David Addington. Curiously, Comey failed to mention Scooter Libby—Cheney’s Chief of Staff, a prominent attorney in his own right, and a leading architect of policy at the OVP—even though it is known that Libby was also involved in these matters. It is scarcely credible to suppose that Comey had no dealings with Libby, nor that they were in disagreement over the NSA program. Perhaps Comey avoided mention of Libby because he wished to avoid the appearance of personal animus. After all, it is well known that Libby had beaten Comey in a contentious case in the Southern District of New York a few years earlier, and one of Comey’s first acts as DAG—before the NSA program came up for recertification—was to talk Ashcroft into recusing himself from the Plame affair. Comey then proceeded to appoint his former SDNY pal Patrick Fitzgerald to go after Libby, even expanding Fitzgerald’s purview to “process violations,” even though Comey knew that Armitage was the “leaker” and that the supposed “leak” violated no known law.

Not quite the “white knight” he has been made out to be by some on the left. Indeed, Comey’s testimony, taken in its entirety, raises questions about his motivations. However, there is a glaring deficiency in the above critique of Comey that must be highlighted if we are to understand why Comey’s testimony is so important: The arrival on the scene in October, 2003 of Jack Goldsmith as the new head of the Office of Legal Counsel.

The Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice is the fulcrum for this entire controversy. The OLC gives opinions to the Attorney General about the legality and constitutionality of proposals like the NSA intercept program. It should be noted that it is extremely rare for the AG to go against the recommendations of the OLC.

Goldsmith took over following the resignation in May of 2002 of Jay Bybee, author of the so-called “Bybee Memo” or “Torture Memo” that some believe was written at the behest of current AG Alberto Gonzalez and used legal justifications for ignoring the Geneva accords promulgated by Assistant AG John Yoo. It was on Bybee’s watch that the NSA intercept program was first vetted and approved by the Department of Justice. That particular OLC opinion has not been leaked or released so we don’t know the original justification for the program. We do know that President Bush signed an executive order that mandated continuous monitoring of the NSA intercept program by DOJ to the point that the Department had to re-certify the program’s legality every 45 days.

The gap between Bybee’s resignation in May 2002 and Goldsmith’s confirmation in October, 2003 is hugely significant. During that time, the DOJ signed off on the legality of the NSA program numerous times using as legal justification the original OLC opinion.

Enter Goldsmith and within 6 months, he carried out a review of the legal basis for both the “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the NSA intercept program. In both instances, he found the legal justifications wanting. In December of 2003, he informed the Pentagon that they could no longer use the Bybee Memo as a legal basis for carrying out torture. And then he turned his attention to the NSA matter.

By early March 2004, OLC apparently concluded that the NSA electronic surveillance program could not be defended on the basis of OLC’s prior legal opinions, and had convinced the Attorney General and DAG that DOJ had to refuse to sign off on the program—i.e., they were compelled to inform the President that the program violated FISA and could not legally be continued in its present form. Ashcroft and Comey agreed—or at the very least, they deferred to Goldsmith’s legal judgment, which is what happens in 99% of all cases once OLC speaks.

It is extremely rare for OLC to reverse its own opinions within an Administration. And that unusual course would be especially disfavored in this case, because all the relevant DOJ officials—e.g., Ashcroft, Comey, and Goldsmith—undoubtedly understood that repudiation of this particular OLC advice would mean shutting down the very program that the President had described as the most important intelligence program in the war on terror. Moreover, the theory that OLC was repudiating appears to have been one to which the Vice President and his counsel were deeply committed, and one that appears to have formed the basis for the Administration’s decision to disobey other important statutory constraints. Obviously, then, there were profound disincentives to such repudiation.

In other words, Goldsmith – another “staunch Republican” if that designation has any meaning in this context – overturned Bybee’s original opinion on the program’s legality and in one fell swoop, made potential criminals out of everyone who knew anything about it, including the President.

What happened next is confusing. Here’s Bush supporter John Hinderaker’s take:

Comey explained that it was immediately before Ashcroft was stricken with pancreatitis that he and Ashcroft came to the conclusion that they could not certify the legality of the NSA program, given the conclusions of the Department’s recent review. Comey described his conversation with Ashcroft, in which that conclusion was reached, and continued:

The Attorney General was taken that very afternoon to George Washington Hospital, where he went into intensive care and remained there for over a week. And I became the acting attorney general.

And over the next week—particularly the following week, on Tuesday—we communicated to the relevant parties at the White House and elsewhere our decision that as acting attorney general I would not certify the program as to its legality and explained our reasoning in detail….

That was Tuesday that we communicated that. The next day was Wednesday, March the 10th, the night of the hospital incident.

This strikes me as the information that is vital to understand what likely happened. Attorney General John Ashcroft had certified, over and over, that the NSA program was legal. Suddenly, Ashcroft was taken ill. The next thing that happened, according to Comey, was that Comey notified the White House that he would not sign the certification that Ashcroft had signed some 20 times. Comey did not say—amazingly, no one asked him—whether he ever told the White House that Ashcroft had agreed with this conclusion on the very day when he was taken to the hospital.

So it is hardly surprising if, confronted with sudden intransigence from a brand-new, acting attorney general, Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card thought that the problem lay with Comey’s staging a sort of palace coup. It may well have been reasonable for them to go to see Ashcroft to get the same certification they had gotten many times before.

When they got to the hospital, they found that Ashcroft seconded Comey’s legal concerns, based on the review that had just been completed. That caused some confusion, no doubt, but it led to the White House meeting between Comey and President Bush, followed by a meeting between Bush and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The upshot of those meetings was that Bush, apprised of the results of DOJ’s legal review, told Comey to do what he thought was right.

Most of the above sounds reasonable and explains much. Comey was mistakenly seen as going against the wishes of Ashcroft who had signed off on the legality of the program nearly 45 times during the previous 2 1/2 years. And because of Ashcroft’s illness, Andy Card and the Bush Administration was unable to discover that Ashcroft himself agreed with Goldsmith’s recommendation that the original OLC justification for the program was invalid and that it would have to be altered in order for it to continue.

Of course, this doesn’t solve the problem that if the original OLC memo was voided, did the President, the phone companies, the NSA, and anyone else involved break the law in carrying out the NSA intercept program?

Left-leaning Marty Lederman lists the consequences:

2. Repudiation of the theory would mean that the NSA and phone companies had been committing crimes for more than two years.

3. It meant DOJ doing a remarkable about-face and acknowledging profound error.

4. It was a rejection of the principal constitutional theory at the heart of the Vice President’s program for executive aggrandizement (and was presumably the basis for several other practices and policies as well)—and so it could be expected to be met with the considerable wrath of Cheney/Addington, to the point where one of the messengers of the bad news, Associate DAG (and former OLC Deputy) Patrick Philbin, had an expected promotion blocked (according to Comey’s testimony). Newsweek: “It is almost unheard-of for an administration to overturn its own OLC opinions. Addington was beside himself [when Goldsmith repudiated the Yoo DoD Torture memo in late 2003]. Later, in frequent face-to-face confrontations, he attacked Goldsmith for changing the rules in the middle of the game and putting brave men at risk, according to three former government officials, who declined to speak on the record given the sensitivity of the subject.”

5. The President demonstrated his profound commitment to the program by personally calling the Attorney General’s wife and urging her to allow the White House Counsel and Chief of Staff to cajole the AG in intensive care, where she had not been allowing visitors.

and

6. The White House told the DOJ officials that it was going to go forward with the program anyway, even after DOJ had opined that it was unlawful.

And yet not only would Ashcroft, et al., not budge—they were prepared to resign their offices if the President allowed this program of vital importance to go forward in the teeth of their legal objections.

And there you have it. The President and his people squaring off with their own Justice Department over a program that the most important constitutional expert in government had informed the White House that it was his opinion that they had been breaking the law for more than 2 years in authorizing the NSA to spy on Americans. And apparently most of the entire upper management at DOJ was prepared to resign rather than work for a government that violated the law.

What happened next is not in dispute. Once it was clear that Ashcroft backed Goldsmith, the White House acceded to changes in the program as recommended by DOJ. A new OLC memo was prepared that gave a legal framework for the program – that is, using the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) as a basis for Congressional approval of the intercept program – and the Justice Department went back to re-certifying the program’s legality every 45 days.

Some hysterics believe that the fact the program was still running in the two weeks between the time that DOJ repudiated the original justification for the program and when the new OLC memo took effect, that the Administration was not only carrying out warrantless surveillance but also didn’t have any legal justification from DOJ for doing so. Hinderaker makes a valid point:

Senator Schumer made a prolonged attempt to get Comey to say that it was illegal for the administration to continue, briefly, the NSA program without DOJ certification of legality. Democrats and others on the left will undoubtedly claim that they now have proof of the program’s “illegality.” But Comey refused to go along with this theory. He pointed out that DOJ certification was not a legal requirement. Rather, the DOJ process was part of the procedure that President Bush established by executive order. Thus, it was perfectly legal for the program to continue in the brief absence of DOJ certification, pursuant to the order of that same executive.

One other point to consider: What were the parameters of the NSA intercept program prior to that second memo being issued by OLC? And given the fact that the DOJ rarely reverses itself in matters such as this, can we assume that the legal justification – flawed according to Goldsmith, Comey, and Ashcroft – gave license to the Administration to go far beyond the program that was finally exposed in the New York Times in December of 2005?

We just don’t know. Only a Congressional investigation would be able to answer those questions, among others. And you and I both know (and any honest, non partisan lefty) that such hearings would turn into a partisan witch hunt designed not to get at the truth of the matter but rather form the basis for impeaching the President of the United States.

The efforts by the Administration to have Congress approve the NSA program failed last year largely because the current legal justification – the AUMF resolution passed by Congress – leaves most on the Hill unsatisfied and uncomfortable. They make the valid point that never in their wildest imaginings did they think their vote for going to war in Afghanistan mean that they were signing off on a domestic intelligence program of questionable legality.

Is there a case to be made for impeachment? Or is this simply one more partisan dust-up with the President’s enemies using a controversial program to try and undermine the war effort and perhaps even drive Bush from office?

It would be nice to believe that the Congressional hearings that are sure to come in the aftermath of the Comey testimony could answer that question. Unfortunately, the poisonous partisan atmosphere on the Hill gives me absolutely zero confidence that any such hearings would prove much beyond the fact that Democrats hate the President and will do anything to bring him down while most Republicans will defend Bush regardless of what evidence emerges that would call into question his fitness for office.

In the meantime, al-Qaeda and their offshoots continue to plot and plan. And the terrorists that are almost surely here (according to Bush critic George Tenet), get something of a breather while Congress and America itself tears at each other in open partisan warfare.

I wonder what the terrorists think of all this?

UPDATE

Orrin Kerr gives us some intelligence speculation on what may have been in that very first OLC memo authorizing the NSA intercept program:

As Marty notes, it seems likely that John Yoo had written the initial 2001 memo under OLC head Jay Bybee approving the NSA surveillance program entirely on Article II grounds. Presumably it said that the President as Commander-in-Chief can authorize whatever monitoring the President wants to authorize to protect the county. When Goldsmith took over at OLC, however, he probably repudiated Yoo’s Article II theory and instead tried to justify the program under the post 9/11 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF). That introduced a tailoring requirement—specifically, a need for the monitoring to be directed “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” of 9/11. (There might be a similar tailoring requirement under the Fourth Amendment depending on how you read the cases and how the technology works.)

What difference would that make? Well, we’re guessing, of course, but it may be that the restrictions on the program that the Bush Administration has emphasized—monitoring only with cause, when one person is believed to be outside the U.S., etc.—were the requirements that Comey and Goldsmith were insisting on at the hospital that night when Gonzales and Card came by.

If correct (and Yoo is known as a huge booster of sweeping executive powers in wartime using Article II as justification) then impeachment devolves back to a political question – unless the Dems can get the Supreme Court to rule that the original justification for the program under Article II itself is unconstitutional.

Fascinating question: Can a President act in a constitutional manner yet still break the law? Could the NSA program be illegal under statute but the President ordering it using his powers under Article II be acting constitutionally?

Can ‘o worms anyone?

UPDATE II

Tom McGuire catches the WaPo editors engaging in some gross hypberbole:

Let’s see – we are told that Gonzalez and Card “tried to coerce a man in intensive care”. Is that based on anything at all? Comey certainly did not mention any threats in describing their contact with Ashcroft, nor did he mention any attempted coercion of himself.

We are also told that Card and Gonzalez “were willing to defy the conclusions of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and pursue the surveillance without Justice’s authorization”, but eventually the President backed down. Come again? The program did in fact proceed for several weeks without DoJ approval while changes were made. Nothing in Comey’s story tells us that Card and Gonzalez were unwilling to contemplate the changes sought by the DoJ; the problem seems to have been one of timing.

In fact, both Lederman and Lambchop use exactly the same kind of exaggeration to breathlessly describe the hospital scene with Ashcroft on his sick bed and Card thrusting a pen in his hands telling him he’s got to sign off on the program’s legality while the AG is near death’s door. (Well, that’s an exaggeration too. But what’s good for the goose…)

By: Rick Moran at 7:00 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)