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CATEGORY: War on Terror

I don’t know why some on the left insist on believing that they can impress the hell out of the rest of us lowly, scaredy cat peons by sticking out their chest and trumpeting to the skies how unafraid they are of terrorism and how anyone who even glances at a TV to find out what’s going on in London and Scotland is a moronic pants-wetter. All they are doing is making themselves look like idiots.

They laughably presuppose that our interest denotes fear. Why would they do that? Is it that their own carefully crafted, dismissive attitude toward attacks and potential attacks of this sort is actually designed to prove some kind of superiority they may feel toward the rest of us as far as having an excess of courage and wisdom ? How pathetic – I mean, truly pathetic this is. It shows an emotional immaturity and childlike desire to be recognized that in any other context would call for serious mental health intervention. Instead, they are asked on television as guests of Keith Olbermann:

Whom do you call on in a pinch for expertise about jihadist plots if you’re a guy who hasn’t taken terrorism seriously since 9/11? Why, a guy who hasn’t taken terrorism seriously since before 9/11, of course. It’s a segment six years in the making, starting with Crazy Larry’s now-legendary “stop worrying about terror” op-ed published in July 2001 and continuing through to this morning when he wowed the dKos faithful by pronouncing the car-bomb plot a “crock of crap.”

Olby seems a bit subdued here aside from an obligatory sneer at the “media nodding-head dolls” who don’t have the guts to embrace their paranoia the way he does. Eschewing his usual Trutherish shtick in these circumstances, he opts instead for a weak gotcha about how this single incident puts the lie to Bush’s claim that we’re fighting them in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them at home. No mention of the absence of attacks on America since the invasion, no acknowledgment that the guys behind this were probably homegrown and thus already here — the Murrow of our time doesn’t let such trivia get in the way of a good talking point. As for Larry, he sniffs about “yuppie terrorists” who drive Mercedes but naturally doesn’t mention that the Mercedes was ten years old, which means it probably cost considerably less than 10 grand assuming it was purchased recently. He also scoffs at the idea that a bomb this crude could have done much more than torch the car itself and maybe singe a few people within 20 or 30 feet.

For such a dangerous physical specimen as Larry Johnson – who knows the guys who killed cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar (just ask him) – it may be simple for him to exhibit the cool, unflappable demeanor of a counter-terrorism warrior and penetrating analyst on the battle against radical Islamists.

Except that Larry appears to have put on a few pounds since his terrorist killing days and his ability as an analyst is, well – a little less than prescient. Recall our Larry writing less than 60 days before 9/11 that terrorism was far down the list of things we should be worrying about. And then, his take on this most recent incident, informing us that the terrorists were incompetent boobs who couldn’t harm a fly.


The (left-leaning) weapons experts at Danger Room, who are taking this very seriously, beg to differ, as does ABC News, which was told by British officials that the explosion would have been lethal within a “several hundred yard radius.” And then there’s this:

The cell phone had received at least two calls, which should have detonated several gallons of gasoline, but when the calls came in, the bomb failed to go off, the official said.
Had it done so, that blast then would have ignited six to eight tanks of propane in a mist to make a fuel-air explosion, creating a fireball the size of a small house and propelling 18 to 20 boxes of roofing nails around a large area at bullet speed, counterterrorism officials said.

Incompetence? Or just plain dumb luck that many of the 1700 people attending “Ladies Night at Tiger, Tiger escaped with their lives? For some on the left, it doesn’t matter. Even if the bomb had gone off, they still wouldn’t be “scared” and would feel a juvenile sense of superiority over the rest of us bed wetting yip-yips. All because most of us show a healthy amount of interest in this latest attempt by radicals to make Islamic Rage Boy feel a lot better.

The fact that there have been three attempted attacks in the last 24 hours doesn’t matter. One might wonder how many attacks or attempted attacks it would take before some of our lefty friends would deem it appropriate and give us permission to glance at the news and find out what the hell is going on without accusing us of being children cowering against the darkness.

We’ve seen this from the left before, of course. Our “inordinate fear of communism” was a meme used by liberals to show how brave they truly were while us righties were just a bunch of goober chewing, know nothing, bible thumping yawpers. Except while they were busy proving how unafraid they were of communists, conservatives supported leaders who actually confronted and defeated them.

Sound familiar?

By: Rick Moran at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (32)

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Wake up America linked with London Terror Plot Update: Cars, Bombs and Airport...

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By at 2007-06-30
Roger Federer will go for his fifth straight Wimbledon title this month.

My latest Pajamas Media sports column is up. It’s about Roger Federer and his quest for a fifth straight Wimbledon tennis title. A sample:

You can’t help but feeling sorry for his opponents. There is no weakness in his game to plan on exploiting. When he powers his 125 MPH serve, you pray your racket can find the ball. His cross court forehand – “The best shot in our game,” according to John McEnroe – has opponents giving up on getting to the ball before he hits it. And in recent years his backhand has improved so much that serving to it is just asking for trouble.

But what Roger Federer has that no other player of this generation of tennis stars can boast is the Tiger Woods-like ability to rise to the occasion when the most coveted titles in his sport are on the line. In an incredible run of success, Federer has won 6 of the last 8 tennis majors (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open). He was runner up the last two years in the French Open, including a memorable 4 set loss in 2006 to his chief rival and nemesis — the number two ranked player in the world — Rafael Nadal. In fact Nadal, a clay court specialist, kept Federer from holding all four major titles at once with that victory at Roland Garros.

By: Rick Moran at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

Pajamas Media linked with A Sporting Chance: Tea, Scones, and Aces...

If the reaction by the special pleaders in the civil rights lobby and their various mouthpieces in the media is any indication, one would think that the Supreme Court ruling striking down some race-based preference plans for purposes of “integrating” schools thus making them more “diverse” will bring back the bad old days of little black children being barred from entering the pristine halls of white schools while men with white hoods hover in the background with ropes and burning crosses.

In fact, the more exaggerated the response to decisions like this, you can bet that there is precious little the left can do to argue based on the facts. Substituting hyperbole and issuing dire pronouncements about the imminent return of segregated schools and the evisceration of Brown v. Board of Education only obscures the unsettling nature of the decision itself; and that is that quotas suck.

Now I’m not a lawyer. But I have been blessed with my fair share of common sense which, when talking about the law, should more than suffice in forming an intelligent opinion regarding the efficacy of one legal issue or another – usually. The problem (and I’ve written about this before) is that the American people have become disconnected from the law in a way that the Founders could never have envisioned. Its complexity, its obscurity, its sheer, mind numbing, all-encompassing embrace of every facet of our lives breeds ignorance and contempt for not only the law but those who seek to interpret it or use it for one purpose or another.

So all the overwhelming majority of us have when it comes to trying to gauge the fairness or unfairness of the law is our common sensical notions of right and wrong as well as a dependence on those who do, in fact, have the expertise to interpret it. The problem, if you’ve read enough about this school quota system case, is that not everyone sees the decision the same way. There are different interpretations, different issues emphasized.

In the end, even after educating ourselves, all that we non-legal experts are left with is good old fashioned American ideas about fairness and justice. Come to think of it, that’s not such a bad way to interpret the law in the first place.

As mentioned above, the left is having an apoplectic fit:

The Supreme Court ruled 53 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated education is inherently unequal, and it ordered the nation’s schools to integrate. Yesterday, the court switched sides and told two cities that they cannot take modest steps to bring public school students of different races together. It was a sad day for the court and for the ideal of racial equality.

Since 1954, the Supreme Court has been the nation’s driving force for integration. Its orders required segregated buses and public buildings, parks and playgrounds to open up to all Americans. It wasn’t always easy: governors, senators and angry mobs talked of massive resistance. But the court never wavered, and in many of the most important cases it spoke unanimously.

Yesterday, the court’s radical new majority turned its back on that proud tradition in a 5-4 ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts. It has been some time since the court, which has grown more conservative by the year, did much to compel local governments to promote racial integration. But now it is moving in reverse, broadly ordering the public schools to become more segregated.

Is that true? Did the Supreme Court of the United States really throw out 50 years of desegregation law and order schools to “Resegregate” as the New York Times helpfully coins the word of the day?

Not so fast.

Race conscious policies using non racial means are favored and must be attempted first; race based assignment policies that target individual students (as opposed to structural reforms like school siting policies) are permitted if they make individualized determinations and use race as only one factor.

Oh my, here goes those evil conservatives again, wanting to treat people as individual human beings rather than as a member of a “group” or “class” or “protected group.” What’s a civil rights lawyer to do?

There’s much more at that Balkinization link and you should read the whole piece because Mr. Balkin and others (including Paul Mirgenoff at Powerline) are training their legal eyes on the concurring opinion of Justice Kennedy who Eugene Volohk points out, has been the swing vote in every single 5-4 decision this term.

As I understand it (and anyone out there is more than welcome to correct me if I’m wrong), while the majority opinion – written here by Chief Justice Roberts – forms one leg of the law, concurring opinions can be given weight by lower courts as well – assuming they are well written and clear enough in where they dissent from the majority opinion. In this case, Justice Kennedy concurrence becomes extremely important because he dissented from Robert’s opinion in a couple of key areas. Powerline has one:

Today’s Supreme Court decision in the race-based school assignment cases turns out to be a disappointment. Chief Justice Roberts wrote an excellent opinion explaining why the two plans are unconstitutional, and four other Justices agreed with the result. However, one of them, Justice Kennedy, would not sign on to a key part of the Roberts opinion—the part that says assigning students to schools by race cannot be justified as a means of achieving a racial balance in particular schools that reflects the school district’s racial demographics. This leaves the door open for school systems to develop different types of plans for assigning students by race for that purpose, and then to try and persuade sympathetic lower courts that the plan in question does not run afoul of what Kennedy said in his concurrence.

Beyond the inherent undesirability of this result, Kennedy’s opinion strikes me as a poor vehicle for it. Unless I’ve missed something, Kennedy does not provide much guidance about the kinds of plans for assigning students to public school using race as a factor he would uphold. Kennedy’s opinion will become the touchstone by which the constitutionality of racial discrimination in public school assignment will be judged. Having conferred this role upon himself, he should have been more clear about what he will and will not accept. His lack of clarity may leave school districts confused and lower courts unbound.

Sabotage by Kennedy? Or common sense? Here’s Jack Balkin again:

Nevertheless, Kennedy has no problem with race-conscious policies by school boards that don’t involve the specific assignment of individual students to schools based on their race. That means that race conscious policies that site new schools or move old ones based on expectations about likely racial makeup are permissible. Policies that assign students randomly by lottery or use factors like geographic distance from a school are also perfectly permissible, even if they are designed to achieve a more diverse balance of students by race and ethnicity. For example, a school district that used magnet schools with assignments based on nonracial factors to promote racial diversity would be permissible under his model.

This seems eminently fair and equitable to me. I have no problem with diversity in our schools as long as it is achieved with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of common sense. Steven’s concurrence would seem to fit that definition although Paul’s caution about the vagueness of his wording should be taken to heart. But at least the Roberts opinion puts a brake on purely race based decisions by school boards – something that is long overdue.

What has happened to the idea of judging someone “not by the color of their skin but the content of their character,” as Martin Luther King pleaded for in front of the Lincoln Memorial so many years ago? We have gotten so far afield of the idea that the law’s protections are ultimately extended to individuals, not groups that when a ruling like this comes down, a “protected class” as defined by the law howls bloody murder.

No, we are not a color blind society – far from it. Institutional racism is not a thing of the past nor is it likely to decline without at least some intervention of government and the courts. This, ultimately, was what Brown v. Board of Education was all about; a recognition that only the federal government was powerful enough to overcome 300 years of bigotry and racism.

But in the last few decades, this intervention by the courts had proved in some cases to be arbitrary, capricious, and just plain unfair. The American people – both black and white – sensed this on more than one occasion and protested – to no avail. Pushed by the special pleaders in the civil rights lobby as well as a liberal credo that demanded we pay homage to “white guilt” while working toward a more “diverse” and “multi-cultural” society, “civil rights” lost its meaning and became just one more issue that high paid lobbyists worked the Hill to grab whatever goodies and special benefits they could from Congress for their constituencies.

Any opposition to orthodoxy as dictated by the special pleaders – be it on issues like affirmative action, or employment law, or any other issue they deem it necessary to apply their narrow interpretation of “fairness” or “justice” – will bring immediate cries of “racist” in order to tar their opponents with the slimiest epithet in the American political lexicon. This makes discussion impossible – unless you are willing to accept the parameters they set for debate.

This Supreme Court decision will cure none of this, of course. But it injects a little much needed common sense into our debates over how best to make the words in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution live for everyone and not just those who by accident of birth enjoy certain advantages over their fellow citizens.

By: Rick Moran at 8:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

Pajamas Media linked with A Sporting Change: Tea, Scones, and Aces...

My latest column for Pajamas Media is up and it’s about – what else? – immigration. A sample:

One would think that the purpose of a political party is to grow larger so that when election time comes, they would get more votes than the other fellow. Not so the GOP. In what has to be considered a revolutionary approach to party building, the Republicans believe in first shrinking the party so that only little old ladies who think that Wendell Wilke is nifty and young hip-hoppers who took a wrong turn on their way to the MTV Video Awards show up at the next caucus.

Republican leaders should consider themselves lucky that they have the Wilke bloc wrapped up for 2008. Whether they can persuade the 50 Cent Fan Club to vote for the GOP is another question. And perhaps, if they try very hard, they may be able to snag a couple refugees from the last episodes of Survivor: Fiji, possibly the only souls in the nation who are unaware of how bollixed up the Republican Party has become.

By: Rick Moran at 4:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)


The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category was “Gaza Becomes Hamastan, Part 2—Clarity and an Opportunity” by Joshuapundit. Finishing second was “Muslim And Christian? In One Body?” by Cheat Seeking Missiles.

Finishing first in the non Council category was “Be Not Afraid” by Michael Yon.

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

By: Rick Moran at 6:46 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

Pajamas Media linked with Immigration Report: The Gringo View...

Albert Camus wrote “The innocent is the person who explains nothing.” This rather opaque observation describes the left’s increasing stridency when alluding to their guiltlessness in undermining the morale of the American people for carrying on the War in Iraq. In fact, liberals are employing a strategy that attempts to obscure their stated desire that the United States lose the war while at the same time, deflecting attention from a 4 year effort to convince the American people that trying to bring democracy to Iraq was a hopeless exercise in wishful thinking and that the war has been a lost cause from the start.

They deny it, of course. In fact, they get downright nasty if you even try and point it out. They will whine that their criticisms of the war effort have been misconstrued. They were simply trying to help win the war by pointing out the incompetence and wrongheadedness of the Bush Administration. They really had the US interests at heart all along.

Yes, I have an eight foot invisible rabbit as a friend too.

Never wanting for originality and creativity in seeking to defend themselves, the left is employing a tactic that in another time and other circumstances, they profess to abhor. They have adopted the doctrine of preemption while at the same time, using a tried and true favorite analogy that ties the right’s criticism of their curious sense of patriotism to the Nazis.

They claim the right is sharpening their knives in anticipation of employing a “stabbed in the back” defense for our inevitable defeat in Iraq.

It is gratifying that the left has adopted this meme preemptively. Perhaps they can be persuaded to apply pre-emption to other, more important areas of debate such as the well being and survival of the United States. Then again, I haven’t seen any pigs flying lately so I would guess we’ll have to do without any change of heart in that quarter.

This won’t be the first time the left has employed preemption as a tactic in order to go on the offensive against the Bush Administration and the right. You will recall in the immediate – and I mean immediate – aftermath of Katrina, the left was in full throated howl regarding the incompetence and uncaring nature of the relief effort less than 24 hours after hurricane force winds had died down in the stricken city of New Orleans. At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans were paying attention to the victims of this natural disaster, the left chose to open a vicious personal attack on the President that was unprecedented in modern history in the aftermath of a calamity. Relying on media reports that later turned out to be bogus as well as trotting out the racial angle, and an anti-war meme about the National Guard to boot, the Katrina Narrative was born. The left was able to define the parameters of the debate over the relief effort simply by getting there first with the most ammunition – whether that ammo was based on facts or not.

But this latest attempt at preemption is designed to fulfill the dual purpose of defending the indefensible and changing the dynamic of any postwar debate by raising the specter of conservatives as Nazis. I must say it is a brilliant strategy in that it seeks to completely absolve liberals from any kind of responsibility for undermining the confidence of the American people in the President and the war as well as making themselves appear as the victim of conservative storm troopers.

As far as I can tell, this meme first saw the light of day a year ago in an article by Kevin Baker in Harpers. After helpfully giving the reader some background on the origin of the “stabbed in the back” legend – a legend not started by the National Socialists but rather by the German High Command’s Luddendorf and Von Hindenberg to excuse their defeat by blaming “socialists” in the new Weimer government – Baker connects the theme to modern conservatives and the idea that the very first use of the stabbed in the back (dolchstosslegende) attack on the left was the result of the right’s paranoid fantasies about a “betrayal” at Yalta by FDR:

The right wing’s dolchstosslegende was a small but fateful conspiracy, engineered through “secret diplomacy” at Yalta. Its linchpin was Hiss, a junior State Department aide at Yalta who was now described as a major architect of the pact. Hiss was a perfect villain for the right’s purposes. He was not only a communist and a spy; he was also an effete Eastern intellectual right down to his name—and, by implication, possibly a homosexual. He had been publicly exposed by that relentlessly regular guy, Dick Nixon, as an unnatural, un-American element who had used his wiles to sway all of his superiors in the Crimea.

Just how he had accomplished this was never detailed, but it didn’t matter; specificity is anathema to any myth. Bullitt and an equally flamboyant opportunist of the period, Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce, offered a more general explanation. The Democrats, Mrs. Luce had already charged, “will not, or dare not, tell us the commitments that were overtly or secretly made in moments of war’s extermination by a mortally ill President, and perhaps mortally scared State Department advisers.”

The idea of the “dying President” at Yalta was plausible to much of the public, who had seen photographs of Roosevelt looking suddenly, shockingly gaunt and exhausted throughout much of the last year of his life. To the right wing—which had conducted a whispering campaign against Roosevelt throughout his term in office, claiming that his real affliction was not polio but syphilis, and that he, his wife, and various advisers, including Hopkins, were “secret Jews” and Soviet agents—it all made perfect sense. To the many Americans who still loved Roosevelt and whose votes the Republicans needed, FDR himself could now become the Siegfried figure, a dying hero betrayed by the shady, unnatural Hiss.

Note that Baker skillfully mixes legitimate criticisms of Yalta with the paranoid right’s insistence of a conspiracy. For instance, Baker relies on FDR admirers to debunk the notion that Roosevelt was in any way hampered by his declining health. But historians are not of one mind on the issue, most notably Michael Beschloss

Roosevelt’s illnesses toward the end of the war were well known to his inner circle, and Stimson and Secretary of State Cordell Hull were openly defying the president by late 1944. And though Beschloss says in his book that Roosevelt wasn’t as easygoing with Stalin as some have suggested, he acknowledges that FDR’s health couldn’t help but affect talks at the 1945 Yalta Conference and afterwards.

“At the very end, Roosevelt was not what he was,” he said. “But he felt he should delay [making certain policy decisions] until the last possible minute.” The catch was, when FDR died in April 1945, nobody knew exactly what he had planned to do, which forced Truman into a quick learning curve.

Baker’s point about Yalta – that it was the best deal that could be gotten at the time – was true up to a point. Should FDR have known that Stalin had no intention of abiding by certain terms of the agreement relating to free elections in Eastern Europe? Roosevelt was no starry eyed worshipper of Stalin and knew perfectly well what the Soviet dictator was capable of. Since we can rule out naivete we are left with cynicism – signing a document that FDR knew would be honored in the breach. This, in fact, was the responsible criticism of the agreement coming from the right. I happen to agree (others don’t) that FDR got the best deal possible at Yalta and that it is over the top to suggest we “sacrificed” Eastern Europe. But there is little doubt that the agreement itself gave Stalin a free hand to meddle in post war elections – especially in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

We could go on about Yalta as an historical event but Baker used it to highlight what he saw as the original version of the stabbed in the back theme used by the right. No doubt the Birchers, the isolationists, and even some mainstream Republicans signed on to this paranoia. But to compare the right at the time of Robert Taft to the right of today is extraordinarily stupid. With the exception of a few mossbacks, conservatism has evolved far beyond the narrow strictures of the 1950’s with its deadening conformist orthodoxy to become a dynamic intellectual force for change. Even today, with the movement in disarray and the Republican party without a clue, there is incredible dynamism to be found in conservative thought. How that will translate into change and reform is still an unknown but to compare today’s conservatives with the “Who Lost China?” crowd is repulsive and ignorant to boot.

Baker could care less if his exaggerated myth making about conservatives is accurate because he’s not out to prove anything about Yalta, or Viet Nam, or any other historical event except as they can be used to buttress his thesis that the coming post-war debate on Iraq will try and pin the blame for any defeat on the left. But there is a subtle yet significant difference that Baker and others on the left are failing to make clear when preemptively accusing conservatives of contemplating perfidious accusations regarding the left’s loyalty. And that is quite simply, no responsible conservative I know is blaming the left for the monumental blunders, mistakes in judgment, errors of omission and commission made by the Bush Administration in the prosecution of the military aspects of the war in Iraq. The blame there rests solely and exclusively with the President and his people.

What I and I hope other conservatives will blame the left for is a deliberate, coordinated effort to undermine the confidence of the American people in the war by carrying out a campaign of personal destruction against President Bush while positing several crazy, paranoid conspiracy theories of their own.

(Note: I am not going to accuse the media of the same tactics because I believe reporting from Iraq – which has been abominable – can be explained by the fact that this conflict has proven to be impossible to cover in any traditional sense. With 74 journalists killed in Iraq since 2003, the western press has not only been forced to rely on stringers of unknown ability and whose loyalties can only be guessed at but also, they have been extremely limited in their ability to supply background and context to the story of the war. This is a story begging to be told and I suspect it will be soon enough.)

Dinesh D’Souza (I know he’s a bomb thrower but I’m only quoting his research into leftist thoughts on Iraq) supplies some of the evidence to make my case:

It seems that there are many on the left who want Bush to lose in Iraq. “The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible,” Gwyne Dyer writes in a recent book. Michael Moore claims that “the Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘the enemy.’ They are the Revolution, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.”

Moore may be right, but what’s striking is that he appears to be cheering them on. He is not unique in his sentiments. “I have a confession,” Gary Kamiya wrote on after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “I have at times secretly wished for things to go wrong, wished for the Iraqis to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage.”

Indeed there are many on the left who seem to hope and work for the war in Iraq to end in dismal failure. Susan Watkins, editor of the New Left Review, affirms that “U.S.-led forces have no business in Iraq” and “the Iraqi people have every right to drive them out.” Political scientist Robert Jensen argues that the U.S. is losing the war in Iraq “and that’s a good thing. I welcome the U.S. defeat.” Sentiments such as this have been expressed by leftists like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and Markos Moulitsas.

I agree with Glenn Reynolds that much of this defeatist wish making – a theme that has endured since the war even started – is really all about Bush and the left’s utter and complete hatred of anything and everything he has ever done.

They have posited conspiracy theories involving the wildest, most ridiculous charges of vote stealing in both 2000 and 2004. In fact, one could say that the number one goal of the left these past 6 years has been to delegitimize the President of the United States as the rightfully elected leader of the country. The exaggerated and bogus narratives liberals have used to “explain” why we went into Iraq – from enriching Bush and his cronies to revenge for Saddam’s attempt on his father’s life – would have been laughed out of existence a decade ago but have been given credence by both rabid dog bloggers and mainstream Democrats alike. (The paranoid nature of these conspiracy theories mirror the same nonsense brought out by Baker above.)

And it has worked like a charm. The integrity of the President, his motives, and everything that a Chief Executive depends on to carry out the duties of his office, has been systematically undermined by the most hysterically overwrought charges of “fascism” on the home front and “misleading us into war” overseas. It is an easy step to make from there to preemptively defend yourself using what is basically a Nazi analogy while denying something that no one is actually accusing you of doing. If the war is to be “lost” (and liberals will make damn sure that no matter what happens, they will find themselves in agreement with the enemy and a loss it will be), the strategies of the Bush Administration will be to blame. But please don’t play the innocent when it comes to trying your damndest to destroy the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the Administration.

I’m not ignoring the correlation between everything that has gone wrong in Iraq and a loss of will of the people to continue what by all accounts has been a botched effort to win the peace. But one is forced to wonder if the people would have been more forgiving of the blunders and would be sticking with the Administration today in much larger numbers if the left hadn’t been insidiously chopping the President off at the knees by falsely accusing him of every perfidy known to man.

Jonah Goldberg wonders if the stabbed in the back meme isn’t just a lot of puffery. He responds to a Ross Douhat post where the Atlantic Online blogger uses the Nazi analogy approvingly:

Now, it’s nothing new for liberals to draw invidious comparisons between American conservatives and Nazis, but I’m not clear why Ross so gamely goes along with it. If you read his post today, he uses the “stabbed in the back” phrase uncritically. Why? Why not just talk about the Vietnam syndrome? Or media bashing? Which, after all, is what he’s really talking about anyway. I’m not reflexively opposed to the comparison to the end of WWI Germany, but nobody’s really tried to make it in any serious way. The assertion has simply caught on. In that sense it really is a meme, an idea that spreads around because of its superficial seductiveness alone. (Oh and please spare me the emails from people who seem to know what I write in my book better than I do. You don’t).

And speaking of the Vietnam syndrome, I think Ross is basically wrong when he says that the Vietnam syndrome didn’t help conservatives. Vietnam saturated American politics in myriad ways that helped the Reaganite Right, particularly after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, become the party of American confidence. “Morning in America” makes little sense without Vietnam. This is not to say that I think blaming the liberal media is a particularly persuasive explanation on the merits for failure in Iraq (if we fail), but it’s far from clear that an American defeat in Iraq helps those Democrats who seemed, fair or not, determined to make failure a self-fulfilling prophecy. He may be right that if we fail in Iraq, conservatives will shrink their appeal if they blame anyone but themselves. But my guess is that the psychological and geostraategic fallout from failure will be sufficiently enormous and complex that nobody can predict who comes out a winner or a loser from it.

Does the constant drumbeat from the left predicting failure or saying outright we’ve already failed have an effect on the people’s morale and consequently their support for continuing the effort in Iraq? Are they seriously trying to deny that this hasn’t been a deliberate effort to sap the confidence and will of the American people? I think they are. And the way they are doing it is by changing the subject to one where they posit themselves as victims of the right wing smear machine not as perpetrators of actions that by any standard has given aid and comfort to the enemy – who, after all actually counted on the left to perform in this manner since it was the only possible way they could be victorious.

Nice try but it won’t wash.

Every action taken by al-Qaeda, the insurgents, and the militias has been with one eye glued to western media to see how their useful idiots on the left have been reacting to the heartless brutality in killing so many of the innocent thus making Iraq an extraordinarily difficult place to govern. Their strategy has worked to perfection. The left has predictably played their role as destroyer of the people’s will while the Bush Administration has obliged them by committing one mistake after another in trying to defeat them. The combination has been unbeatable – for the enemy.

So yes, blame Bush and his people for what they should be blamed for; the incompetent prosecution of an ill-planned war. But if blaming the left for deliberately seeking to break the will of the American people to carry on the struggle to at least the point we could leave behind some semblance of a viable Iraqi state means that I will be called a back stabber, allow me to coin a phrase: Bring It On.

By: Rick Moran at 8:41 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (29)


Oh my. This should rock the boat a bit:

Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, is very nervous about releasing his new research, and understandably so. His five-year study shows that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities. He fears that his work on the surprisingly negative effects of diversity will become part of the immigration debate, even though he finds that in the long run, people do forge new communities and new ties.

Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”

I don’t know what’s more interesting: Putnam’s findings or his fear in releasing them. Certainly his study fails to show diversity and multi-culturalism breeding happy, smiley-faced Americans walking down their neighborhood street hugging their ethnically or racially divergent brother and everyone dancing around the maypole in solidarity with the world revolution.

But we knew that. Any ten year old knows this from his experience on the real life playgrounds of the world. At a very young age, children are able to recognize differences and without being told or taught, tend to congregate in their own ethnically and racially similar groups. They will make alliances and initiate friendly relations with other groups made up of children from different backgrounds. But the ethnicity and race of their circle of friends will reflect what they see in the mirror every day.

Now don’t get me wrong. Being exposed to people of different cultures and races is a good thing. It breeds a tolerance and a respect for others that was probably missing from my rather sheltered childhood. In my time, one’s parents set the tone for how you treated others from different cultures, backgrounds, and races. If you had tolerant parents, the chances were very good that you would end up a fairly tolerant adult.

But the significance of Putnam’s study – a study he refuses to release because he’s afraid of either us evil right wingers making political hay of his findings (thanks, professor; we will) or he’s terrified of being skewered by the left for daring to publish anything against the multicultural orthodoxy – is that the old fashioned assimilation model for new arrivals might – just might – be a superior socialization strategy compared to the promotion of separate and distinct racial and ethnic groups in America.

Rather than look at the study, I am more intrigued with the Professor’s hand wringing over the fact that his work tends to knock the chocks from underneath a pillar of leftist thinking; that by pigeonholing Americans and recent arrivals into their own special group while encouraging a separateness based on culture and language, tolerance and acceptance will automatically follow in the country at large. This has been an article of faith on left for 30 years. It has affected school curricula for children as young as pre-schoolers on up through the speech codes and diversity mandates found in the finest institutions of higher learning in the land.

And rather than accomplish anything, it has made things worse.

Diversity does not produce “bad race relations,” Putnam says. Rather, people in diverse communities tend “to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.” Putnam adds a crushing footnote: his findings “may underestimate the real effect of diversity on social withdrawal.”

Neither age nor disparities of wealth explain this result. “Americans raised in the 1970s,” he writes, “seem fully as unnerved by diversity as those raised in the 1920s.” And the “hunkering down” occurred no matter whether the communities were relatively egalitarian or showed great differences in personal income. Even when communities are equally poor or rich, equally safe or crime-ridden, diversity correlates with less trust of neighbors, lower confidence in local politicians and news media, less charitable giving and volunteering, fewer close friends, and less happiness.

What’s a conscientious liberal to do? The professor not only has political dynamite in his hands but .50 caliber ammunition for the enemies of multi-cultural thought. The professor’s solution is, shall we say, unique:

Putnam has long been aware that his findings could have a big effect on the immigration debate. Last October, he told the Financial Times that “he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity.” He said it “would have been irresponsible to publish without that,” a quote that should raise eyebrows. Academics aren’t supposed to withhold negative data until they can suggest antidotes to their findings.

No, they’re not. And if Putnam was a conservative he’d be lashed to the mouth of a very large cannon featuring a very short fuse. But I suspect the professor will be praised for his altruistic impulses in putting the needs of multiculturalism over his own academic reputation.

And the professor’s stated reasons for the delay in publishing raises some interesting questions; just what “proposals” could “counter” the negative effects of diversity? Let’s give that one some thought. Perhaps we could change the entire intellectual framework by which we approach the problem? How about treating people as individuals rather than lumping them into defined, monolithic groups and encouraging what Goldstein refers to as “the other” – a mindset that breeds a separateness from society and positing its superiority over the dominant culture?

But that would be relatively easy. The problem is we’d have to throw out The Diversity and Multi-Cultural Handbook in order to mitigate these effects on society. The fact that the professor has now taken 9 months to come up with other “solutions” probably means he doesn’t have a clue how to rescue the diversity baby without destroying at least parts of it. And if there is anything that would tick off the left more than producing a study giving the lie to one of their cherished beliefs it would be publishing solutions that would bury that belief for good.

To be fair, the professor’s study showed some improvement in these attitudes in the long term:

Putnam’s study does make two positive points: in the long run, increased immigration and diversity are inevitable and desirable, and successful immigrant societies “dampen the negative effects of diversity” by constructing new identities. Social psychologists have long favored the optimistic hypothesis that contact between different ethnic and racial groups increases tolerance and social solidarity. For instance, white soldiers assigned to units with black soldiers after World War II were more relaxed about desegregation of the army than were soldiers in all-white units. But Putnam acknowledges that most empirical studies do not support the “contact hypothesis.” In general, they find that the more people are brought into contact with those of another race or ethnicity, the more they stick to their own, and the less they trust others. Putnam writes: “Across local areas in the United States, Australia, Sweden Canada and Britain, greater ethnic diversity is associated with lower social trust and, at least in some cases, lower investment in public goods.”

Though Putnam is wary of what right-wing politicians might do with his findings, the data might give pause to those on the left, and in the center as well. If he’s right, heavy immigration will inflict social deterioration for decades to come, harming immigrants as well as the native-born. Putnam is hopeful that eventually America will forge a new solidarity based on a “new, broader sense of we.” The problem is how to do that in an era of multiculturalism and disdain for assimilation.

Does this sound familiar? “...[S]uccessful immigrant societies “dampen the negative effects of diversity” by constructing new identities…”

We used to call them “hyphenated Americans,” these immigrants with “new identities.” It was special to be an “Irish-American” or “Italian-American.” The terms themselves defined a way of looking at America and the world as well as how you interacted with your “Polish-American” or “Russian-American” neighbors. Diversity then wasn’t some artificial construct. It was given life by assimilating oneself into the larger American culture through a wide variety of portals. Churches, social clubs, sports leagues, even local watering holes. And finally, a school system that cared more about children as human beings than dots on a graph.

It wasn’t perfect by any means. But in its creaky, uneven way, it served its purpose well. America successfully assimilated more than 150 million immigrants in less than 150 years – a feat unmatched by any other society in the history of human civilization. Whatever we did, however it was accomplished, it worked.

The fact that the multi-cultural model has turned out less well won’t matter to its advocates and high priests. Blame for its failure will fall elsewhere; oppressive white society, undiversified media, bad parenting, even evil right wing influences.

But perhaps following Hamlet’s Cassius’ advice in Julius Caesar would speed understanding by the left into what is truly a seminal moment in the history of our culture; “”The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…”


James Joyner and I are on pretty much the same wavelength. He also rounds up some other reaction, including this from Rod Dreher:

I predict this research will have absolutely zero impact on the immigration debate. Why? Because Diversity is a dogmatic secular religion. To dissent from its dogmas is to declare oneself to be a heathen. Seriously, to question its premises is to be thought of as a closet hater by the Establishment. You would get about as far questioning Creationism at a backwoods Bible college as you would questioning Diversity at a US university, corporation or whatnot.

While the reference to “backwoods Bible college” is a pretty gratuitous slap of Christians – especially since not all Bible colleges teach creationism or even intelligent design – the point is valid. There’s too much emotional investment (not to mention financial windfalls for some campus groups) in diversity for the academic community to do anything with these conclusions except dismiss them out of hand or ignore them.

By: Rick Moran at 7:31 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (24)

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Okay, so I’m an ass.

Today, I feel vindicated in my beliefs and analysis about the war in Iraq and I don’t mind letting people know that their bitter recriminations and name calling directed against me are proving to be the shallow, ignorant postulates of the blindly partisan I always said they were. In the end, I am being proved correct and they are being proved wrong. And rather than disagreeing with me as grown up adults, so many of them chose to indulge themselves in a childish orgy of vicious name calling in comments, emails, and on their own blogs to the point that it became a travail to even write about Iraq. And whenever I did, I only ended up driving more of my conservative readers away.

I knew this at the time but felt that it was necessary for conservatives to wake up and smell the coffee about Iraq rather than swallowing the Administration’s line (and their legions of defenders) who were saying that a military “victory” was still possible when all the signs pointed to a disaster in the making. I could very well have continued finding silver linings in dark clouds in order to make the case for “staying the course” but in the end, that approach wasn’t tenable given the reality of what has been happening on the ground in that bloody country.

It’s just that when everything that I’ve put into building this site up has basically gone for naught because so many of my friends on the right have abandoned reading this blog – mostly because my position on the Iraq War has diverged from GOP and conservative orthodoxy – that I now feel compelled to do a little fist pumping because more and more Republicans are saying exactly the same things I’ve been saying for months; that it’s time to start redeploying our troops so that we can salvage something short of an unmitigated disaster from this military adventure:

Republican support for President Bush’s Iraq war policy suffered a significant crack Monday evening when Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana urged the president to change course in Iraq “very soon.”

The well-respected GOP voice on foreign affairs took to the Senate floor to urge Bush to avoid further damage to America’s military readiness and long-term national security.

“Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond. Our continuing absorption with military activities in Iraq is limiting our diplomatic assertiveness there and elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also sounded a pessimistic note on the prospects for internal political progress in Iraq.

He said he sees “no convincing evidence that Iraqis will make the compromises necessary to solidify a functioning government and society, even if we reduce violence to a point that allows for some political and economic normalcy.”

The senator said continuing military operations in Iraq were putting a damaging level of stress on U.S. forces, “taking a toll on recruitment and readiness.”

“The window during which we can continue to employ American troops in Iraqi neighborhoods without damaging our military strength, or our ability to respond to other national security priorities, is closing,” he said. “The United States military remains the strongest fighting force in the world, but we have to be mindful that it is not indestructible.”

Lugar also said he believes the chances for success of Bush’s strategy of boosting troop levels in Iraq to try to get the security situation there under control is “very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate.”

Every single conclusion reached by Lugar in the above excerpt was reached by me late last year. The lack of progress by the Iraqi government in dealing with their problems making the surge an exercise in futility; the toll on our military; and the ticking clock of public support for the war were all pointed out by me – for which I received the most vile criticism imaginable from some of my erstwhile friends.

Lugar isn’t the only Republican who is saying this, of course. Last month, a group of GOP House members confronted the President over Iraq in the White House and told him basically the same things. But when the ranking minority member of the Foreign Relations Committee – a man whose judgement on foreign and military affairs has been respected in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years – tells the President of the United States on the floor of the US Senate that he’s got to change course, Bush better listen. Otherwise, Republicans will be forced to work within the timetable framework offered by the Democrats. And that could only mean a catastrophic end to our involvement in Iraq as the artificial deadlines pulled more and more troops out of Iraq allowing the terrorists and militias to take over.

What Lugar wants is a sensible redeployment that will allow our troops to maintain a presence so that the country won’t fall apart completely:

Despite his call for a course change, Lugar said he did not support calls by some Democrats for a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which he said “also fails to meet our security interests.”

Rather, he said a “downsizing and redeployment of United States military forces to more sustainable positions”—in rural locations of Iraq, Kurdish areas or possibly Kuwait—might better serve American security interests.

And to make my vindication complete – and even sweeter – is Lugar’s call for a bi-partisan consensus on Iraq:

“The president and some of his advisers may be tempted to pursue the ‘surge’ strategy to the end of his administration, but such a course contains extreme risks for United States national security,” Lugar said. “The president and his team must come to grips with the shortened political timeline in this country for political operations in Iraq.”

“A course change should happen now, while there is still some possibility of constructing a sustainable bipartisan strategy in Iraq. If the president waits until the presidential election campaign is in full swing, the intensity of confrontation on Iraq is likely to limit [options],” he said.

While a handful of other Republican senators have broken with the Bush administration over Iraq, Lugar’s call for a course change—which his spokesman, Andy Fisher, said was “months in the making, weeks in writing”—is likely to have particular resonance, given his stature as one of the party’s elder statesmen on foreign policy.

I know I shouldn’t feel this way. It’s petty, juvenile, and will serve only to make people madder at me. And I also know that the minute I hit that “publish” button, I’m going to regret putting this post up.

So be it. If I can’t be a sonuvabitch on my own blog, and tell people who have accused me of being a “traitor” and worse to go screw themselves, then to hell with it. I might as well take up tiddly winks or some other non-contact sport. Because what this site has been about since its inception has been a full frontal assault on the stupidity of the left. May as well throw some righties under the bus while I’m at it.


Glenn Reynolds:

535 COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF: Now it’s Richard Lugar calling for a new strategy. Maybe we could do something to stop Iranian troops entering Iraq? I don’t think he has anything so useful in mind, though.

UPDATE: Fresh back from Iraq, J.D. Johannes posts a wrapup. And he emails that he’s got a rant about Senators on the way: “you know, we could have this thing all but won and still declare defeat. That is sickening.” Our political class isn’t known for bravery or discipline.

First, Confederate Yankee has debunked the “Iranian troops entering Iraq” story pretty thoroughly. Secondly, I will ask a question of Mr. Johannes: Just what is it you think we have “all but won” in Iraq?

The insurgents defeated? Al Qaeda destroyed utterly? Foreign fighters vanquished and prevented from entering the country? Iraq at peace and a stable society? The Iraqi government building a multi-sectarian democracy?

That’s a start as far as barometers for “victory.” And we’re nowhere near achieving any of them!

Not one.

So I will ask again. Just what is it you think we are on the brink of winning in Iraq if only we allow the American military to continue our current strategy?

By: Rick Moran at 10:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (44)

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One gets the distinct impression reading what is going on behind the scenes in Congress as the immigration travesty seeks to rise from the dead and walk Zombie-like back on to the Senate floor, is that even the bill’s opponents think that this monstrosity of a measure is better than no bill at all.

The reason is simple; this has been a do-nothing Congress from the start. The best laid plans of the new Democratic majority to change the culture in Congress, end the war, and force changes in Medicare (among other proposals the Dems promised voters last November) have mostly fallen by the wayside or been torpedoed by their own members.

This has Congress scrambling to do something before voters begin to notice and wonder why their Congressmen are getting paid 165 grand a year to essentially sit on their collective behinds and rake in donations from lobbyists and cronies.

It has always been America’s “Persian Flaw” – this belief that we send people to Congress in order to “solve problems” like immigration, poverty, or filling in that pothole down the street. Some problems simply aren’t solvable in any real sense by Congress (call your local mayor about the pothole, please) and in fact, fiddling with legislation that purports to do so can make the problem worse.

The immigration bill is a case in point. No one in Congress really believes the bill will “solve” anything except perhaps resolving their electoral problems by bringing a lot of Latino votes their way come November, 2008. It won’t stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States and it is an open question whether it will even slow it down. It may even lead to increased illegals crossing the border hoping that within the next few years, Congress will once again address the issue of illegal immigration by simply declaring lawbreakers as law abiding non-citizens provided they pay up and can prove they’re not out to blow up the Statue of Liberty.

And as Michelle Malkin points out, the backlog of cases already on the plate of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is approaching the catastrophic point. How in God’s name are they going to handle the millions of applicants who will eagerly apply for the special “Z” visa if they act as incompetently, irrationally, and as criminally negligent as this?

The agency, [Michael] Maxwell [former head of security for USCIS] told Congress, was “a viper’s nest” of political hacks and career federal employees who covered up criminal allegations of bribery, document fraud, extortion, money laundering and espionage within their ranks.

Maxwell’s testimony, corroborated by congressional staff and investigators at the Government Accountability Office, and a four-part editorial series in The Examiner (“Leaving the front door wide open”), described gaping security holes at USCIS, including the failure to check names against terrorist watch lists and to fingerprint applicants. All the while, USCIS personnel were being offered cash bonuses, time off, movie tickets and gift certificates to speed up processing times for their “customers.”

There were no incentives to keep undesirable applicants out. Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s office found that 45,000 high-risk illegal immigrants from countries known to sponsor terrorism were allowed to legally enter the U.S. since 2001.

In case you may have forgotten, on September 11, 2001 several known terrorists – people on the CIA’s terrorist “watch list” – were able to sneak into the country and help kill 3,000 of our fellow citizens. The fact that 6 years after that bureaucratic disaster there doesn’t seem to be any kind of urgency whatsoever at the agencies responsible for making sure such an event never, ever occurs again would be shocking if it didn’t fit in with this Administration’s general lack of interest in closing the borders, securing our ports, hardening “soft” terrorist targets,” and a host of other security measures that could prevent an attack of even larger dimensions.

I hasten to add that some strides have been made in securing many of those areas. But it is not enough. And the biggest weakness we have – our porous, unrecognized borders – would actually be made worse by the passage of this bill. With the jaw clenching help of the Mexican government, ways will be found to cow the Border Patrol and Washington politicians into not doing much of anything to prevent the flow of illegals in similar numbers that we see today.

That’s because fence or no fence, virtual or not, the problem of illegal immigrants begins in Mexico with it’s under performing economy and a birth rate that continues to skyrocket thus increasing the numbers of a desperate underclass of Mexican citizens who see America as a cash cow to be milked for jobs and benefits so that they can send billions back home to relatives and fill Mexican banks with dollars. There is no incentive whatsoever for Mexican politicians to change their half socialist/half crony capitalism economy while rooting out the corruption and inefficiencies that slow economic growth in the first place. Why should they when they have a safety valve just to the north where they can send the overflow?

Until we get serious about border security and significantly slow the pace of illegal immigration, Mexico will not reform their economy. And the problem of desperate people coming to America seeking a better life by any means necessary – legal or illegal – will not ease until the lawbreakers are given an incentive to stay put and make a better life in their own country.

What this bill will ultimately do is doom real immigration reform efforts for another decade, sloughing off the responsibility for seriously addressing the problem to another generation. In the meantime, we have no idea who is coming across our borders and whether they mean us well or ill. If that doesn’t give Senators pause before voting on cloture today, then I fear for the future safety of our republic.


The latest from Allah has cloture probably passing. But that may not be the end of it:

We’re shooting at a moving target here but best estimates are that opponents are within six votes or so of killing this monster in its crib when the first cloture vote comes to the floor tomorrow. John Hawkins’s Senate source said last week that the first vote is the time to get it done, otherwise it’ll pick up momentum and force a do-or-die second cloture a few days later that will determine the bill’s fate.

With the White House doing a full court press on the bill, it is highly unlikely that a second cloture vote will be any more successful than the first. That means the bill will probably pass in the Senate with the House so far hanging strong on defeating it.

By: Rick Moran at 8:41 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

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CATEGORY: Politics

It could be that in my doddering years, my mind demands the simplicity of a Pier Six brawl in order to maintain its interest in anything. With my White Sox tanking in the standings, I have lost all interest in watching baseball on TV - except when a good old fashioned bench clearing brouhaha erupts at which point I rouse myself from somnolence to cast a still jaundiced eye at the action.

Truth is, I’m bored. And if you’ve been following the race for the presidential nomination in both parties, I’ll bet you a dollar to navy beans that you’re bored too.

Has there ever been such a ponderously dry, stodgy, stuffy, tiresome group of candidates ever assembled? They don’t even make good stand up comedy material. How many jokes can you tell about John Edward’s hair? How many variations of Hillary the Harridan can be photoshopped? How many pictures of an empty suit can you show representing Obama?

The Republicans aren’t any better. Mitt Romney – the Stepford Candidate. The guy is so automatically smooth we should probably cut him open to see if he bleeds or blinks on and off.

And what about John McCain? I’ve seen trees with more animation. “Wooden” doesn’t begin to describe his personality much less his oratorical style.

Rudy is feistier but hardly what I’d call mesmerizing. The guy has been married three times for God’s sake. If his wives don’t find him very interesting, why should I?

And Fred? Thompson is like dark matter – we know he exists but we’re not quite sure what he’s made of. But those of you pining for a reincarnation of Ronald Reagan will almost surely be disappointed. Fred will make “stolid” a new Republican virtue, hopefully replacing “out of control avarice” as a the impression people have of the party.

Again, it’s probably just a product of my creeping senility that has me so down on all the candidates. Memories of exciting, vital campaigns from the past with roaring crowds and candidates speaking with passion on the significant issues of the day seem to overwhelm the ghostly images of today’s lackluster crew flitting across the TV screen participating in canned appearances before canned audiences. About the only excitement generated this entire campaign season so far has been to wonder if Hillary is going to get booed by the rabid base of her own party. Secret Service protection precludes pie throwing incidents so we will have to forgo the pleasure of seeing Hillary (or more likely some Republican) with Butterscotch Cream all over their carefully, cosmetically enhanced faces.

There have been few sparks generated in the debates – except the ones that lit Ron Paul on fire and sent his campaign up in smoke. Why should there be any fireworks? The two parties have become as orthodox and predictable as a Michael Moore fakeumentary. And the reason for that is the base of each party holds the whip hand in determining who will stand at the podium at the convention accepting the nomination. next summer.

The fact that those most committed to the party and to a particular candidate also tend to be on the fringes of American political thought, far removed from The Great Center, has all the candidates paying homage to one group’s agenda or another. And God forbid you end up offending one of the major interest groups in either party. Not passing one of a half dozen litmus tests will mean almost certain defeat in the primaries.

This situation is largely born of good intentions gone horribly bad. Back in the 1960’s, the Democrats began a series of reforms to bring “the people” into the nominating process. It was done to take the choice for President out of the hands of the party bosses and make the nominating process as open as possible. (The Republicans, God Bless ‘em, were always 4 years behind these reforms but felt they had little choice given the potent political weapon these reforms became when Democrats directed attacks against the GOP for having such a “closed” nominating process.)

The result of these reforms was entirely predictable. By 1972, the McGovern campaign had been well and truly hijacked by the far left. Viet Nam was the least of the candidate’s worries. He had radical feminists, Black Panthers, the Grey Panthers, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the nascent gay rights lobby, and a host of new left activists who had gone from campaign hangers on to maneuvering themselves into a position of influence in party circles. It was a disaster.

It took 20 years but activists were finally able to wrest control of the Republican party in 1992. The social conservatives had been an important cog in the GOP machine for two decades but it wasn’t until the “Buchanan Brigades” lost in the primaries but won the convention that the GOP careened as far to the right on many of their issues as the Democrats skewed to the left on theirs.

And here we are in 2008, reaping the whirlwind of reform, counter-reform, and an ever deepening sense of ennui on the part of the average voter who is sickened by the bickering, the sniping and carping that goes on between the two parties. Political combat is, by its nature, for keeps. The stakes are incredibly high and when both sides believe passionately, the rhetoric can get nasty – even personal. But unlike the past, there is a sickening sense of the debate getting beyond the point where compromise can be achieved – or even contemplated. I constantly get taken to task for partaking in this combat. I plead guilty.

But in the end, there are some on the left that I respect and can actually agree with on occasion. My bomb throwing is directed solely against the unreconstructed Stalinists, fantasists, conspiracists, and socialists whose policy prescriptions would make us less free, less wealthy, and place us under the heel of a nanny state government that would dictate every facet of our existence all in the name of acting in the best interests of “the people.”

Considering that many of these same knuckleheads gave us the “reforms” that have led us to our current political situation in nominating presidents, I don’t trust them as far as I can throw them.

By: Rick Moran at 3:23 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

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