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At last night’s CNN/YouTube Republican Debate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee finally came into his own on the national stage. He looked relaxed, in command, and spoke well and forcefully on his issues.

This was a far cry from Huckabee’s first debate where he was seen as an asterisk in the polls and a non-entity on stage. He looked a like deer caught in Romney’s headlights, so lost and forlorn that he appeared to be leaning on Tommy Thompson’s lectern for support.

But last night, the candidate fairly oozed confidence. He was unctuous to the point of oiliness, having developed a rhythm and cadence in his speaking style that demonstrated an attractive bleeding heart compassion with the earnestness of an Eagle Scout combined with the passion of a preacher.

Flash polls afterwards in Iowa and New Hampshire confirmed that Huckabee won in both states handily. The latest Rasmussen Iowa Poll has him surging ahead of Mitt Romney into first place while the latest Florida numbers have him second behind Giuliani. This indicates that not only has the media sat up and begun to notice Huckabee, but the GOP conservatives, casting desperately about for an alternative to Romney/Giuliani may have found their champion after all.

But Mike Huckabee is not a conservative – at least not any kind of conservative that I would recognize as such. His tenure as Arkansas governor was marked by a corn pone populism – part Huey Long and part Jimmy Carter along with a massive increase in the tax burden on the individual taxpayer in his state as well as a sharp rise in spending.

Huckabee channeled the ghost of Huey Long in his funding of state road improvements – largely through a hefty gas tax increase and a controversial bond issue. He also put a $5.25 premium on nursing home patients and raised the sales tax in the state. The Club for Growth detailed his “conservative” tax policy and ideas:

* Immediately upon taking office, Governor Huckabee signed a sales tax hike in 1996 to fund the Games and Fishing Commission and the Department of Parks and Tourism (Cato Policy Analysis No. 315, 09/03/98).

  • He supported an internet sales tax in 2001 (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07).
  • He publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002 (Arkansas News Bureau 08/30/02).
  • He signed bills raising taxes on gasoline (1999), cigarettes (2003) (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07), and a $5.25 per day bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001 (Arkansas New Bureau 03/01/01).
  • He proposed another sales take hike in 2002 to fund education improvements (Arkansas News Bureau 12/05/02).
  • He opposed a congressional measure to ban internet taxes in 2003 (Arkansas News Bureau 11/21/03).
  • In 2004, he allowed a 17% sales tax increase to become law (The Gurdon Times 03/02/04).

With conservatives like this, who needs Democrats?

In fact, Huckabee actually joined the Democratic chorus against Bush’s tax cuts, saying (he now says he supports the cuts and making them permanent) that the cuts are geared “toward the people at the top end of the economic scale.”

With populists like this, who needs John Edwards?

But it is his record on spending that should give conservatives pause.

Under Governor Huckabee’s watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07). The number of state government workers rose 20% during his tenure (Arkansas Leader 04/15/06), and the state’s general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion, according to Americans for Tax Reform. The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new programs and expansion of already existing programs initiated by Governor Huckabee, including ARKids First, a multimillion-dollar government program to provide health coverage for thousands of Arkansas’ children (Arkansas News Bureau 04/13/06).

The Club for Growth isn’t the only fiscally conservative group that has looked in askance at Huckabee’s record. The Cato Institute was also unimpressed by Huckabee’s tenure as governor. They gave him an “F” in fiscal policy for 2006.

Hucksterites will point to his $80 million tax cut package he pushed through the legislature that eliminated capital gains taxes on home sales and indexed taxes to the inflation rate.

But that’s just a drop in the bucket. While Huckabee claims to have cut taxes 90 times totaling $378 million, the state’s Department of Finance and Administration says he also raised taxes 21 times that brought in a whopping $883 million. Under his “conservative” governance, the “average Arkansan’s tax burden” went “from $1,969 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1997, to $2,902 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005, including local taxes.”

A liberal couldn’t be prouder of such a record.

Huckabee has now embraced the so-called “Fair Tax” proposal that most experts see as a highly regressive tax that would hit middle income taxpayers with a monstrous increase in the cost of living. Imagine paying 30% more on the price of a new house or on medical care. Those currently paying 17% of their income to the government will find them shelling out 30% extra for every purchase they make.

I find many aspects of the Fair Tax proposal intriguing but am extremely doubtful that it could be made “revenue neutral” in that there is almost a dead certainty from everything I’ve read that there would be either massive cuts in government spending (guess where, my pro-military spending friends) and/or a larger sales tax to offset unanticipated shortfalls. I also believe that it would unfairly increase the tax burden on the lower middle class.

The Fair Taxers say they will offset this by sending a check to each taxpayer every month to even out the burden. Here’s Bruce Bartlett in the Wall Street Journal:

Since sales taxes are regressive—taking more in percentage terms from the incomes of the poor and middle class than the rich—some provision is needed to prevent a vast increase in taxation on the nonwealthy. The FairTax does this by sending monthly checks to every household based on income.

Aside from the incredible complexity and intrusiveness of tracking every American’s monthly income—and creating a de facto national welfare program—the FairTax does not include the cost of this rebate in the tax rate. As noted earlier, the FairTax is designed only to match current revenues and does not cover any increased spending that it may require. Since the rebate will cost at least $600 billion the first year, either federal discretionary spending would have to be cut by 60% or the rate would have to be five percentage points higher than advertised.

Beyond the argument of whether the Fair Tax is truly a conservative notion, there is the reason Huckabee might be supporting the idea; the fact that supporters of the Fair Tax give the Paulbots a run for their money in exhibiting passion for their cause. Huckabee is the only presidential candidate pushing the scheme and he may be riding the wave of Fair Tax supporters endorsements, especially in Iowa. They apparently made an impact for Huckabee at the Ames straw poll last summer and their support in Iowa is no doubt vital to his campaign.

Certainly no one doubts Huckabee’s conservative credentials on social issues. But when it comes to meat and potatoes fiscal issues, Huckabee is a conservative vegan, a “liberal in disguise” according to the Club for Growth.

Couple this with his total lack of military and foreign policy experience and the right might want to ask itself: “Is this the best we can do?”

Fred Thompson is head and shoulders above Mike Huckabee when it comes to having a record of votes on fiscal policy that consistently prove his conservative beliefs. He has also fleshed out his positions on a number of issues with a tax plan and social security white paper that have been praised by conservatives across the country. Get past the charm, the unctuousness, and the corn pone manner and what you have in Huckabee is a big government conservative who looks suspiciously like George Bush did in 1999.

We don’t need another George Bush. We don’t need Mike Huckabee. What we need is someone who will fight for conservative principles in government and wear out a veto pen in nixing excessive spending and any increase in taxes proposed by a Democratic Congress.

Is that man Fred Thompson? I just don’t know about Fred. But I’m sure that if the GOP goes ahead and annoints Huckabee, the conservative movement in America will be set back as our once proud heritage of fiscal responsibility and support for smaller government will be trashed by another wolf in conservative raiment.


Just got this email update from the Romney campaign (who I do not support).

It seems that Arkansas conservatives aren’t convinced of the Hucksters conservative credentials either.

Betsy Hagan, Arkansas Director Of The Eagle Forum: “He Was Pro-Life And Pro-Gun, But Otherwise A Liberal” “Nor am I alone. Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once ‘his No. 1 fan.’ She was bitterly disappointed with his record. ‘He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal,’ she says. ‘Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don’t be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office.’” (John Fund, “Another Man From Hope,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/26/07)

Former Republican State Rep. Randy Minton Said That Gov. Huckabee’s Record Will Turn Away Economic Conservatives. “Also that year, the state grappled with an economic downturn and a resulting budget shortfall. ‘Republicans that believe in limited government and lower taxes and fees, they’ll look at his record, and they won’t be satisfied with it,’ said former Republican state Rep. Randy Minton of Ward.” (Daniel Nasaw, “Home Turf Not Rock Solid For Huckabee,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/4/07)

By: Rick Moran at 1:27 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Huckabee's South Carolina Strategy...

Here’s a triple dose of goodness from the Council

W/E 11/9


1. “Courts v. Terrorism = Wile E. Coyote v. Road Runner” by Big Lizards
2. “Unsex Me… Not” by Soccer Dad

Non Council

1. “A Great Shifting of the Winds” by Eternity Road
2. “Thompson Goes Electric…” by RealClearPolitics

W/E 11/16


1. “’Land For Peace’, American Style” by Joshuapundit
2. “School District & Cops Agree—Ignore The Law” by Rhymes With Right
3. “Racist Talk About Education” by Bookworm Room
4. “Behind the Anger” by Done With Mirrors
4. “Hollywood’s KoolAid Fest Continues: Wimps for Lambs” by Cheat Seeking Missiles
4. “Poverty and Terror, Again” by Soccer Dad

Non Council

1. “A Conversation in Bagram, Afghanistan” by Austin Bay Blog
2. “November 1947 and Annapolis Déjà Vu” by The Elder of Ziyon
3. “Stereotyping 101” by American Thinker

W/E 11/23


1. “Charting a New Course In Iraq Messaging” by Cheat Seeking Missiles
2 “Prophets in a Freudian Age” by Bookworm Room
3. “Who Won’t Be the Next President” by The Colossus of Rhodey
4. “The Infantilization of American Politics” by Right Wing Nut House

Non Council

1. “The Irrationality of Europe” by The Van Der Galiën Gazette
2. “The Ultimate War Simulation Game” by
3. “Al Dura Affair: France 2 Cooks the Raw Footage” by Pajamas Media
4. “Dissecting Media “Bias”: The Case of Eric Alterman” by Oliver Kamm

By: Rick Moran at 8:22 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

CATEGORY: Blogging

Foul mouthed, ignorant commenters have once again ruined it for the rest of my readers. It seems every time I get a link from “Sadly No” or “T-Bogg,” the most vile, insulting, obscenity laced comments are left in moderation.

I’m tired of dealing with them, of looking at them. So I have shut down the comment function on this blog.

What is it about obscenities and scatological vulgarity that it becomes a herculean effort for these mouth breathing troglodytes to avoid them in the normal discourse of everyday language? Are they really that limited in their intelligence that every other word has to be a vulgarity? Don’t they realize that this language isn’t “shocking” as much as it’s nauseating?

No matter. Comments will be closed for the time being. At least until they crawl back underneath the rotten logs from which they slithered to get here in the first place.

By: Rick Moran at 6:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


Well, at least the candidates were probably all Republicans. As for the questioners, that’s a different story.

At least 4 of the questioners from last night’s CNN/YouTube Debate were Democratic party supporters and activists including one gay general who worked for John Kerry’s campaign and is on Hillary Clinton’s LGBT Steering Committee.

The information confirming these facts was ferreted out by Freepers and bloggers within minutes of the debate’s ending.

This raises several interesting questions, not the least of which is who at CNN is going to get fired over this rank stupidity? Or perhaps they plan on promoting the buggers. Here’s how they wash their hands of the gay General Kerr imbroglio:

CNN Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of the debate, David Bohrman, says, “We regret this, and apologize to the Republican candidates. We never would have used the General’s question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate.”

Prior to the debate, CNN had verified his military background and that he had not contributed any money to any presidential candidate.

Following the debate, Kerr told CNN that he’s done no work for the Clinton campaign. He says he is a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and was representing no one other than himself.

I would say that’s a crock. The General has lent his name and rank to the campaign of a Democrat. Are we supposed to believe that just because he hasn’t been “working” at outreach for the Clinton campaign (which is basically what steering committees do) that he hasn’t contributed anything? I would say a retired general’s name is worth a helluva lot – especially when we’re talking about gay outreach to the military and national security conscious gays.

Of course, the General is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Democratic supporters and activists who somehow managed to slip by CNN’s army of editors and fact checkers to ask questions of Republican presidential candidates.

Michelle Malkin has the whole story told best in pictures. There’s the Log Cabin Republican, David Cercone, whose YouTube page clearly identifies him as an Obama supporter, asking a question about gay marriage. There’s the petite young girl asking an abortion question whose YouTube profile shows her proudly sporting a “John Edwards ‘08” T-shirt.

And the mother with two kids asking who’s going to protect her kids from products that contain lead is actually an American Steel Worker union activist – an aide to the union president Leo Gerard and a John Edwards booster.

We were told that there were 5,000 videos submitted for this debate. Are we supposed to believe that CNN couldn’t find actual, like, you know, REPUBLICANS TO ASK THEIR OWN GODDAMN CANDIDATES A QUESTION?

If life were fair and the press unbiased, this would become a huge media scandal – perhaps the biggest in a while. You and I both know that will not happen. So what if Republicans get short changed in a debate by having a shamefully incapable cable news network allow supporters and activists from the other party to ask questions designed not to elicit information from the candidates but to try and trap them and make them look bad?

Of course, the entire affair makes the Democratic Party’s boycott of Fox News look pretty silly – if it wasn’t pretty laughable already. They’re worried about some imagined bias at Fox while CNN provides all the evidence necessary to convict them of being either incompetent boobs or rabid partisans.

For some, it might be easier to believe CNN to have it in for Republicans. But outside of the normal bias found in any large media organization, I believe the CNN debate showed the network to be lazy, unconcerned, and in the end, spectacularly inept.


From the Executive Producer of the debate quoted in the NY Times Caucus blog last week:

With only a week to go before the Republican CNN/YouTube debate next Wednesday, voters are lighting up the video site with serious and not-so-serious questions for the eight candidates.

David Bohrman, CNN’s Washington bureau chief and executive producer of the debate, spoke to The Caucus from “an undisclosed location” where he and a team of six others were pouring over the entries.

So far, about 3,000 questions have been posted to YouTube, Mr. Bohrman said, and he expects to have about 5,000 videos at his disposal come Sunday, the contest deadline. That beats July’s Democratic YouTube debate, which pulled in about 3,000 videos.
Most questions online have been pulled from public viewing for review, but many of the remaining posts involve asking the candidates to defend their opposition to gay marriage and abortion. Those kinds of “lobbying grenades” would be disqualified by the CNN selection team, Mr. Bohrman said.


“There are quite a few things you might describe as Democratic ‘gotchas,’ and we are weeding those out,” Mr. Bohrman said. CNN wants to ensure that next Wednesday’s Republican event is “a debate of their party.”

A “debate of their party.” And now the number of Democrats who asked questions is up to 6.

This was not a debate for Democrats to try and trap Republican candidates. And despite the promises of CNN one has to wonder; what are the odds of putting on a Republican debate where 20% of the questions come from the opposition party?

Most of you have the intellectual honesty of a jackal so I don’t expect you to do anything except ignore the above and pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s the way you people deal with contradictory information – you just keep mouthing your talking points mindlessly.

But I publish the above with IMMENSE satisfaction.

By: Rick Moran at 8:01 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (23) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Elbows out for GOP YouTube debate...
J's Cafe Nette linked with CNN/YouTube Debate..Candidates and Controversy (So What’s New?)...
CATEGORY: Middle East

After weeks of fruitless bargaining, the March 14th majority in Lebanon may have finally conceded that expediency is the better part of compromise.

After rejecting a proposal weeks ago to amend the constitution to allow an active duty officer in the military to serve as president, thus clearing the way for the election of General Michel Suleiman, the current commander of the Lebanese army, the March 14th bloc in parliament now says it is ready to take that deal:

Houry, a legislator with the Future Movement of Saad Hariri, said the bloc had reversed its previous stand against amending the constitution to elect a sitting army commander.

“We declare our acceptance to amend the constitution in order to reach consensus on the name of the army commander, Gen. Michel Suleiman,” he said.

Hariri is effectively the leader of Lebanon’s parliamentary majority, and his support is tantamount to the majority’s acceptance.

Houry’s statement described Suleiman as “symbol of the unity of the military establishment which has given martyrs and blood in defense of the nation against the enemy and against those who threatened civil peace.”

Suleiman is also respected by Hizbullah, which is leading the opposition, suggesting that after months of being unable to elect a new leader, the republic may once more have a president.

Suleiman’s stock rose considerably following the army’s painfully slow but successful operation against Fatah al-Islam, the al-Qaeda inspired terrorist group who had barricaded themselves in the Palestinian refugee camp at Nahr al-Abed. He proved himself acceptable to March 14th in 2005 when the Lebanese army sat on the sidelines during the massive demonstrations that eventually led to the ousting of Syrian troops from the country. He has also steadfastly stood by the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, going so far as to protect the Grand Serail from Hizbullah mobs last December when it appeared that they may have been preparing for a coup d’etat.

But Suleiman, like all Lebanese leaders, is full of contradictions. His brother in law was a spokesman for former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, the current Syrian president’s father. He also owes his job as army commander to the Syrians who installed his patron, former President Emil Lahoud into office.

Then there was the Lebanese army’s move into the south of the country when UNIFIL expanded following the Hizbullah-Israeli war. Suleiman made a point of announcing that the army would not be involved in taking away Hizbullah’s weapons, earning him the gratitude of Hassan Nassrallah and the opposition bloc.

The fact that Suleiman is now a leading candidate for president shows that in Lebanon, you don’t get anywhere politically until you’ve played both sides against the middle several times and emerged alive with your reputation relatively unscathed.

The key will be opposition acceptance of both the idea to amend the constitution and Suleiman’s candidacy itself. Even among the ruling coalition, doubts are being expressed about mucking with the constitution:

I am personally opposed to Suleiman’s nomination as it would be against democratic principles,” said Butros Harb, a member of the ruling coalition and a declared presidential candidate now apparently out of the running.

“I have nothing against him personally … but his appointment would amount to prostituting the constitution once again.”

He was referring to a Syrian-inspired constitutional amendment in 2004 that extended Lanoud’s six-year term in office for another three years.

Indeed, opposition to that amendment by former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri cost him his life when he was assassinated by a car bomb on Valentines Day, 2005. The resulting demonstrations kicked Syria out of the country and established the current governing majority.

But the real key to Suleiman’s acceptance will be the reaction by Christian Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun whose own presidential aspirations drove him to abandon other Christian groups who allied themselves with the majority and throw his lot in with Hizbullah and the opposition.

Just a few days ago, Aoun grandiosely offered to settle the crisis by dropping out of the presidential race – as long as he could name the candidate to succeed President Lahoud. No one really took him seriously which shows how far Aoun’s stock has fallen with the majority although he still commands plenty of respect in the Christian community and enjoys the qualified support of Nasrallah’s Hizbullah.

At the moment, Aoun seems to have been taken by surprise. Naharnet is reporting that “Aoun said he will consult legal authorities regarding amending the constitution to elect Gen. Suleiman president and “we’ll comment after that.”

This must be hugely disappointing to the old man. Is he big enough to swallow his ambitions and work to solve this intractable crisis for the good of the country? Once upon a time, Aoun refused to turn the Lebanese government over to Syrian toadies and had the army fight in the streets against vastly superior numbers to prevent that from happening. He lost that battle and went into exile to France, a hero to many Christians.

From there, he organized a resistance to the Syrian occupation earning him the respect of many Lebanese. He returned expecting the presidency as a reward for his services. But Lebanon had changed in his absence and spurned by the forces of democracy, he joined the opposition led by the extremists of Hizbullah – a strange marriage of convenience that now appears to have done him no good whatsoever.

Suleiman on the other hand, seems to have played his cards just about right. He would be an acceptable candidate to both Syria and the United States, obviously for different reasons. Michael Young predicted Suleiman’s ascension back in August:

Suleiman’s presidential ambitions are no longer a secret. On Monday, the former minister Albert Mansour made a statement to this newspaper that the army commander had told him he would accept heading a transitional government if Lebanon’s politicians didn’t agree over a candidate, provided all sides accepted Suleiman’s nomination. More intriguing, Mansour added that if the army commander presided over such a government, this would mean he could dispense with a constitutional amendment necessary for active senior state officials to stand for office.

This is worrying, because if Albert Mansour said what he did, then he almost certainly had a Syrian green light to do so. Far from desiring a vacuum, Syria apparently is seeking to use the threat of a vacuum to push its favorite through. Suleiman is not necessarily the only nominee, but he does seem to be the most likely one, because it’s the army that Syria wants to see win out. Michel Murr’s recent assertion that only the army can maintain security in Lebanon today, combined with Fatah al-Islam’s threats, means the security situation might have to deteriorate first for Suleiman to become more palatable to the parliamentary majority.

That’s not to suggest the army commander would be part of such a ploy. Nor is it to suggest that Suleiman would be rejected outright by the majority. The fact that on Saturday Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem backed France’s initiative in Lebanon was revealing. It indicated that Damascus is focused on bringing European pressure to bear on the majority to accept its candidate of choice. The tactic may well work. France, Spain and Italy, pillars of UNIFIL all, are determined not to allow a void at the top of the state, and if Suleiman is their way to avert that outcome, the March 14 coalition will find it hard to say no.

Suleiman is also on good terms with US Ambassador David Feltman and is seen by some as Washington’s favorite compromise candidate all along. This may be true if only because a Suleiman led government would be preferable to a vacuum.

Despite the fact that one of his biggest boosters in Lebanon is former Defense Minister and Syrian mouthpiece Albert Mansour, filling the position of president as quickly as possible – along with the prospect of negotiations that would give certain guarantees to keep the current makeup of the government, including Siniora as Prime Minister – has apparently swayed the March 14th forces into acquiescing to this less than favorable arrangement.

It is doubtful that a deal can be reached by Friday, the day of the next scheduled vote for president. But almost certainly by the end of the weekend, we will know whether a deal is possible and a vote should follow shortly thereafter.

In a perfect world, Suleiman is a terrible choice for the majority. But with pressure coming from both France and the United States to compromise, March 14th has reluctantly bitten the bullet and, if Hizbullah goes along, will have a president that is at least not totally under the blankets with Syria although he may be sleeping in the same bedroom.

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


Join me today from 3-4:00 PM Central for the Rick Moran Show on Blog Talk Radio.

My guest today will be Fausta Wertz, BTR host and blogger. We’ll discuss the upcoming Venezuelan referendum on the constitutional changes desired by Hugo Chavez as well as Chavez himself.

To access the stream, click the button below. A pod cast will be available shortly after the end of the show.

If you would like to call in live during the next hour, you can do so by calling (718) 664-9764

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio


A very interesting show. Fausta was her ever warm, ebullient self. She had some fascinating insights on both Castro and Chavez. I highly recommend this one.

To download the podcast, you can click the button above. To stream the broadcast, click the player below.

By: Rick Moran at 3:57 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

CATEGORY: Ethics, Politics

Lefty blogs are all over the story involving a gay escort who it was reported had a sexual relationship with Trent Lott and that this was the real reason he was resigning.

The only problem is, the story is categorically false. This from the escort in question:

It looks like a Washington DC-based blog called BigHeadDC is making claim that there was (or, is) a working relationship between myself and Senator Trent Lott. There are falsely pieced-together quotes that serve no purpose other than to sensationalize a completely fabricated scoop.

I will continue to offer a great sense of confidentiality to the people I see. I have not, nor have I ever seen or had contact with Senator Trent Lott. It’s as simple as that. It never happened.

Not surprisingly, wherever there is even a hint of a “sex in Congress” story, out from under the nearest rock crawls Larry Flynt to put his two cents in:

HUSTLER Magazine has received numerous inquiries regarding the involvement of Larry Flynt and HUSTLER in the resignation of Trent Lott. Senator Lott has been the target of an ongoing HUSTLER investigation for some time now, due to confidential information that we have received.

Please note that Flynt does not say he has one scintilla of evidence against Lott – only that he the “target” of an ongoing “investigation.” He confirms nothing of this idiot’s story, despite the blogger’s claims to the contrary.

For Flynt, this is beautiful. He gets to comment on a completely spurious story appearing in some no-name blog and in the process, smear a political enemy without offering one iota of evidence that what appeared on the blog was true.

My liberal friends: This is your First Amendment Champion. Proud of him?

A couple of lefty blogs went with the story – then had to go through a retraction. No problem there since we’ve all had to do that. Of course, the caveats and snide asides probably weren’t necessary:

John Aravosis:

With the past credibility problem of the Trent Lott blogger today, and now the outright blanket denial from the sole source, the same logic applies. I’m just not convinced. I’d love to be convinced, believe me. And trust me, there have been rumors for years about Trent Lott. But until I hear more, you’re not going to read about those rumors here.

Except, we just did read about those scurrilous rumors at your site, John – not that this is anything new. Getting in the gutter to slime people and out them against their will is your M.O. Why should we be surprised?

Suburban Guerrilla

Wide stance? Apparently there’s a good reason why he and Larry Craig are looking so longingly at those microphones. (Keep trying; site’s having trouble handling all the traffic.) The male escort named in the post is denying the whole thing here and here – just keep in mind he’s gone on the record saying he would never out a client, so who knows?

Just keep in mind that the male escort has “gone on record” saying no such thing. He referred vaguely to “confidentiality” for clients. And If Larry Flynt’s million dollar offer can’t entice the escort to make an exception to that rule, it is difficult to imagine the gossip is anything more than a clumsy attempt to smear Lott.

The Group News Blog:

What We Know…

There is no proof Larry Flint has photos of Trent Lott blowing goats behind a Klan rally as a young man.

That is wild speculation.

I also have absolutely no evidence they were black goats.

They don’t even bother with a retraction.

Some enterprising blogger may want to look into how all this started. Did a little birdie whisper in this blogger’s ear? And was that little birdie’s name Larry?

Big Head DC has also received word that Hustler will soon provide more details on why Lott resigned — much more to come. It’s unknown at this point when Flynt will write the $1 million check to Big Head DC.

Funny that Big Head DC has “received word” about Hustler planning to augment this story. Could it be that the blogger is a cats paw for Larry Flynt?

Flynt is no dummy – especially when it comes to libel laws. It is possible that since there is little or no real evidence connecting the gay escort to Lott – perhaps some cloakroom scuttlebutt picked up by a staffer – that Flynt saw a perfect opportunity to get the smear out in the open by leaking it to some eager beaver blogger whose journalistic standards make Weekly World News look like a paragon of reporting virtue.

And now that the smear is out in the open and has received widespread play on blogs, Flynt can write about anything he has on Lott. As long as it’s related to the escort story, he can simply claim he’s commenting on a story already in the public domain.

Any way this came about, it is despicable. Lott’s no paragon of virtue himself but if you’re going to smear someone’s personal life, at least have the common decency to get your facts right.

CATEGORY: History, Politics

I used to think that Pat Buchanan was from the paleo-conservative quadrant of the righty universe . Now I’m not so sure. Buchanan might be a charter member of the “Archeo-conservative” school of thought, where his ideological forebearers pre-date western civilization and his ideas reflect the thinking of intellectual giants like Uther Pendragon and Vortigen – two barbarian Celts who knew what to do with uninvited “foreigners” like Saxons and Picts.

Where paleos are simply bizarre throwbacks to the Robert Taft era of conservatism – isolationist, distrustful of foreigners, big government, and the Democratic party, archeo-conservatives take a right turn at the 1950’s and head straight on back to the 4th century where cities used to build sturdy walls to keep out invaders and the homogeneous nature of society was maintained by simply killing anyone who looked a little different than you or your neighbor.

Of course, Buchanan doesn’t want to kill anyone – I think. But listening to him at times you wonder if in some of his darkest fantasies, he sees himself sort of as a “Shield of God” – Pope Leo holding back Attila the Hun and his barbarian hordes at the Gates of Rome with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other.

He is certainly an extremist. And now we can add “old woman” to his resume thanks to his new book, Day of Reckoning, where he wails that “all is lost” and America is finished:

• Pax Americana, the era of U.S. global dominance, is over. A struggle for global hegemony has begun among the United States, China, a resurgent Russia and radical Islam

• Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a product of hubris and of ideology, a secular religion of “democratism,” to which Bush was converted in the days following 9/11

• Torn asunder by a culture war, America has now begun to break down along class, ethnic and racial lines.

• The greatest threat to U.S. sovereignty and independence is the scheme of a global elite to erase America’s borders and merge the USA, Mexico and Canada into a North American Union.

(This is a small sample of Buchanan’s hysterics. Read the blurb at Amazon for a full frontal assault on common sense.)

Every few years, some fruit and nutcase comes forward and boldly proclaims the end of America as we know it and that it’s time to build the bomb shelter or, more prosaically, brush up on your survivalist skills, all the better to ride out the coming race war. Or maybe he thinks liberals are going to collectively grow a pair and drown the rest of us in porn, atheism, and gay rights parades.

Pax Americana” finished? Our era of global dominance over? That might be news to the mullahs in Iran and a few other leaders who don’t lose any sleep over what Russia or China might do to them if they transgress against the world order but lay awake nights wondering if a pack of F-117’s may be on their way to pay them a little visit. The military councils in these countries do not see America as “finished” or “weak” I can guarantee you. They can bluster all they want but their cold hard calculations of power recognize the fact that even with our hands tied in Iraq, we can bring a shattering force to bear against any nation on earth – without using our still superior nuclear arsenal.

Also, we might want to consider the fact that our $13 trillion economy is still 3 times bigger than our closest rival Japan and larger than the next 4 economies combined. We are the 800 pound economic gorilla in the room whose productivity is the envy of the industrialized world.

How this translates into America becoming a third world nation anytime soon simply boggles my mind. You have to deliberately ignore the facts to reach any conclusion other than America maintains a huge advantage economically and militarily over any other nation on earth.

And the idea that America is being torn apart by a “culture war” is ludicrous. There are the forces of secularization and modernization tussling with the forces of traditionalism and religious fundamentalism. There is nothing new in this battle. Substitute “pornography and secular humanism” for “demon rum and race mixing” and you have a snapshot of America a hundred years ago.

In many ways, I sympathize with the right in this struggle in that the denigration of western values and traditions by the forces of secularism and post-modernism have too much influence in our schools and in the culture. But Buchanan, who was one of the coiners of the term “culture war,” (he certainly popularized it), goes too far in portraying these philistines as evil rather than simply wrong. The former Nixon aide is an expert at demonizing his opponents by ascribing sinister motives to their machinations rather than simple wrongheadedness and stupidity – which is bad enough but hardly a reason to start moaning about the end of everything.

And Bush’s push for “democratism” is nothing new in American history. Indeed, the Wilsonian concept of bringing democracy to the heathen has been the one of the major thrusts of American foreign policy for nearly 100 years. And Iraq isn’t the first place the idea has gotten us into trouble. We’ve survived bigger mistakes and come back stronger than ever.

I will not dignify the conspiracy theory about a “North American Union” on this site. The less said about that kind of paranoid delusion, the better.

But Buchanan’s main thrust of his book is apparently that America is finished:

“America is coming apart, decomposing, and…the likelihood of her survival as one nation…is improbable—and impossible if America continues on her current course,” declares Pat Buchanan. “For we are on a path to national suicide.”

It could very well be that the nation state as a political entity is on its way out. Such predictions have been made since I was in books. But what Buchanan and those like him who only see what divides us totally miss are the powerful forces at work in America that keep us united.

Buchanan is rightly worried about the “invasion” of third worlders (mostly Spanish speaking illegals from Mexico and Central America) who are pouring across a border our government refuses to acknowledge much less defend. And there are some worrying signs that many of these illegals are immune to the siren song of the American dream, that they are perfectly content to remain in their “sanctuaries” and maintain a troubling separateness from the rest of America.

But Buchananites always neglect to note that many millions of legal immigrants become enamored with America and the opportunities she offers new arrivals. Those who bother to go through the painstaking effort to come here legally become citizens at just about the same rate as any other immigrant group in American history. They adopt American customs, mixing them as all immigrants in the past have done, with their own. They embrace the American way of life as enthusiastically as any other ethnic group. They work hard, pay taxes, learn English, start businesses, create wealth, and are a great big plus to our society.

Buchanan wants to stop all immigration – legal and illegal – while erecting a Medieval wall to keep out the riff raff.

Buchanan’s loss of faith in America to assimilate newcomers is not justified by history or the facts. There are many steps the government can take to slow the arrival of illegals and force the ones here already to leave voluntarily. But cutting off legal immigration would be a monumental mistake. It would cutting off our nose to spite our face.

The magic of America has always been its ability to absorb newcomers and immerse them into the American compact; work hard, play by the rules, and chances are you too can enjoy the fruits of what this bountiful society has to offer. Put simply, Buchanan doesn’t trust his own country. And I wish to God he would take his loss of faith and not try to foist his Medieval ideas of “homogeneity” on the rest of us in the process of trying to save us.

Yes we have enormous problems – political, economic, cultural. But to get up on a soapbox and announce that the end is nigh is simple hysteria-mongering. It may sell books to his faithful followers and a few curiosity seekers. But is is hardly a basis for political action by either party. Every one of Buchanan’s concerns can and probably will be dealt with eventually. In the meantime, we muddle along, doing our best, trusting that the future will be better than the present as previous generations of Americans did. The fact that they have always been proved right should count for something.

The United States has survived civil war, several horrible depressions, an invasion, two world wars, 120 million immigrants, not to mention various philanderers, crooks, nincompoops, political hacks, and incompetents who served as president. And now we’re supposed to pay any heed to Pat Buchanan’s warnings of imminent destruction just because he thinks the “culture” is being destroyed along with our “homogeneity?”

Get a grip, Pat.

By: Rick Moran at 8:21 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

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Before my conservative friends get their panties in a twist about my skepticism and before my liberal friends start piling on because I’m just not being gloomy enough about the prospects for success in Iraq, l think we should all take a deep breath, step back, and look at what is happening there not through our partisan political glasses – rose tinted or otherwise – but with the critical eyes of observers who have been watching closely what has been going on for more than 4 years in that tragic, bloody country.

We are all aware of the the progress that has been made these last few months; the welcome drop in civilian deaths, the Sunni “Awakening,” the extraordinary progress made in rooting out al-Qaeda terrorists, and the curious but gratifying pullback in the south by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. All of this has combined to create the most important benefit of all in Iraq – the return of hope among the people.

This has been manifested by a return to old neighborhoods by hundreds of thousands of people who abandoned their homes during the worst of the sectarian violence as well as a cautiously optimistic re-opening of business districts previously shuttered due to the violence. It is apparent in many of the interviews with ordinary Iraqis who have voted on the success or failure of our change in strategy with their feet by venturing out and about to sample the nightlife of Baghdad once again.

All but the most unreconstructed liberal (or partisan Democrat) have cheered these events. The reasons for this success vary depending on which side of the political divide you are on. “No one left to kill” say liberals. “It’s the performance of our military,” say conservatives.

Both are right. Both are wrong. And both left out a few details as well.

There are parts of Baghdad that will never see a Sunni Iraqi again just as there are parts that will never see a Shia again. In many neighborhoods, after homeowners were given 20 minutes to pack and told to leave or forfeit their lives (many being executed anyway), Shias and Sunnis moved in to those houses and occupy them to this day. Prime Minister Maliki has a program that pays the squatters to leave if the neighborhood votes to have the original home owner return. But whole neighborhoods were emptied of Sunnis and Shias in Baghdad and there is no doubt that part of the reason for the drop in sectarian violence has been the simple fact that the sects are no longer in close proximity to each other in most of Baghdad.

Our professional military has done more than its fair share as well in helping tamp down the violence. Showing the Iraqis that we have no intention of leaving a neighborhood after it is swept and cleared has given the people confidence to inform against al-Qaeda and the insurgents. This intel has led to information from interrogations that precipitates more raids, more intel, ultimately making the neighborhood much safer.

Our war against al-Qaeda will someday, according to one officer at the Army War College, become a textbook example of rooting out terrorists and insurgents hiding inside a civilian population. The success of this phase of our counterinsurgency plan has shocked even its planners. If the world were fair and the press unbiased, this would easily be the story of the year – the near destruction of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Is it too early to be touting General Petreaus as Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year?”

Then there’s the Sunni “Awakening.” The reason I put that in quotes is because no one is sure – least of all our commanders on the ground who have made this point abundantly clear – just how this “Awakening” will play out.

It pains me to see a note of triumphalism creeping in to some pro-war blogs and columns. I share their enthusiasm for the good news but not their apparent blindness to the dangers of making allies of former enemies – especially enemies whose goals have not changed; America out of Iraq. Some of these Sheiks have truly changed sides and are working with us eagerly on security issues while being open to reconciliation with the Shias – as long as they are treated fairly.

But there are many more tribal leaders who view this marriage of convenience with our military as a lull in their blood feud with the Shias. This is extraordinarily bad news if we can’t differentiate between who our true friends might be and who are future enemies are certain to be. To these Sheiks, no political reconciliation is possible with the government as long as it is made up of Shias like Maliki and his sectarian gang. What they might do if the Iraqi government would be more to their liking is anyone’s guess. But as has pointed out many times, many of these former Baathists are nationalists who will never voluntarily give up power to the Shias and despise the Americans for propping up the Maliki government (who they see as little more than a sectarian thug who has murdered thousands of Iraqi Sunnis).

From all that I’ve read both in media here and overseas, it appears to me that an unknown number of these Sheiks and militia leaders – perhaps less than a majority but that would be a guess – will eventually return to their insurgent ways. In short, we will eventually have to deal with a reconstituted insurgency. Hopefully, we aren’t giving them too many arms that would assist them in being any more formidable than they already are.

I hasten to add that this is not my analysis but has been talked about openly among our commanders as well as other observers around the Middle East. To them, it is not a question of if the Sunnis turn but when.

In the south, there is no other way to describe what is going on but a lull in the violence. The coming war between the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Organization for ultimate control of most of the population centers has been put on hold by Mookie, probably at the behest of his Iranian sponsors.

In fact, one could say we have achieved a kind of victory over the Iranians as we have forced them into what David Ignatius calls a “tactical retreat:”

[T]he recent security gains reflect the fact that Iran is standing down, for the moment. The Iranian-backed Mehdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr has sharply curtailed its operations. The shelling of the Green Zone from Iranian-backed militias in Sadr City has stopped. The flow from Iran of deadly roadside bombs appears to have slowed or stopped. And to make it official, the Iranians announced Tuesday that they will resume security discussions in Baghdad with US Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

I suspect the Iranians’ new policy of accommodation is a tactical shift. They still want to exert leverage over a future Iraq, but they have concluded that the best way to do so is to work with US forces – and speed our eventual exit – rather than continue a policy of confrontation. A genuine US-Iranian understanding about stabilizing Iraq would be a very important development. But we should see it for what it is: The Iranians will contain their proxy forces in Iraq because it’s in their interest to do so.

Of course, there is still infiltration by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. They seem to have stopped inciting violence among their cadres as Ignatius points out but there is absolutely no evidence they have left the country.

It seems unlikely that the uneasy peace in the south will remain that way for long. Al-Sadr has been reorganizing his militia while at the same time, reaching out to some unlikely allies in the Sunni and Kurdish communities. He would like to broaden his base, removing the sectarian taint from his militia. So far, he has not had much success but its clear he is seeking allies for when he takes on the Badr Organization.

The Badr Organization is smaller but better trained, and is much more powerful politically, being the military arm of the largest party in Iraq, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (formerly the SCIRI). Both militias received various levels of training and assistance from Iran and still receive support from the mullahs there although the Badr Organization has been sidling away from Tehran since the establishment of the government. Their emphasis has been on infiltrating the Iraqi police and army.

Iran is seeking a Shia enclave in southern Iraq and will, according to some observers of Iran, use the Mahdi Army to achieve that goal once the American drawdown is well underway. The leader of SIIC, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, hates the upstart al-Sadr and will oppose any expansion of his power. Hence, the set up for conflict in the south once al-Sadr gets his act together.

Even what appears to be a permanent reduction in violence by al-Qaeda might be illusory. There is no sign that Syria or Saudi Arabia have much interest in seriously trying to keep their borders secure from terrorist infestation of Iraq. The feeling is apparently because they don’t want them in their countries either. Better they blow themselves up in Baghdad than Riyadh or Damascus.

All this would normally point to exactly the attitude that the Administration has taken relating to the spate of good news coming out of Iraq – cautious optimism.

Not so some commentators and bloggers on the right who have trumpeted the news that we are “winning” in Iraq with all the fervor of a newly baptized convert. The gloating is unseemly by some and is liable to come back and bite them in the butt. We even have Charles Krauthammer comparing what is going on in Iraq with the Inchon Landing during the Korean war and the 1864 turnaround of Union fortunes during the civil war.

That kind of hyperbole is nonsense. We don’t know what the situation is going to be like 6 months from now in Iraq – perhaps not even 6 weeks. There will almost certainly be more spikes in the violence despite the best efforts of the tribes and the US military. Those increases in the body count will not doubt bring equally stupid cries from the left about stupid righties who were “taken in” by the government or some equally nonsensical claptrap.

The situation as it is now in Iraq is just that – the situation now. No more, no less. It would really, really help if the Iraqi government got off its behind and took this extraordinary opportunity that our men and women have bought and paid for with their blood and sweat to get busy with trying to reconcile with those Sunnis willing to join the government. And there are Sunnis out there who wish to reconcile, including the large, diverse National Public Democratic Movement made up of dozens of tribes centered around Ramadi as well as The Iraq Awakening out of Anbar province that enjoys widespread local support among the Sheiks.

What is happening in Iraq now has been referred to by some in the Administration as a “window.” I think they are correct. What must be done is to cement as many of the Sunnis as possible to the fortunes of the government while continuing the fight against al-Qaeda and trying to find a way to neutralize al-Sadr.

How much we accomplish relating to those goals in the next few months will tell the tale about whether the gains we’ve made using our new counterinsurgency strategy, so hard fought and exhilarating though they might be, are to be permanent or not.

By: Rick Moran at 11:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)


I never thought I’d witness it in my lifetime. The paranoid left, aided and abetted by universal access to the internet along with an educational system that has stopped teaching young people the mechanics of thinking rationally, has apparently broken through and gone mainstream.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found.

And that’s not the only conspiracy theory with a huge number of true believers in the United States.

The poll found that more than one out of three Americans believe Washington is concealing the truth about UFOs and the Kennedy assassination – and most everyone is sure the rise in gas prices is one vast oil-industry conspiracy.

Sixty-two percent of those polled thought it was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that federal officials turned a blind eye to specific warnings of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Only 30 percent said the 9/11 theory was “not likely,” according to the Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.

While there is certainly enough paranoia on the right about 9/11 and “The New World Order,” black helicopter conspiracies, the driving force behind 9/11 truthers, Kennedy conspiracists, and Area 51 nutcases has been the far left of American politics.

And with the advent of the internet, where their most outrageous conspiracy theories are given the patina of respectability, they have been able to capture the dim witted, the ignorant, and especially the young who have grown up without the benefit of learning how to think critically and rationally about the world around them.

To believe that people in the United States government – specifically Bush and Cheney but anyone for that matter – had advance knowledge of 9/11 and did nothing to prevent it is to believe that there is a monstrous evil abroad in the land – that the President of the United States is as bad as Adolf Hitler, standing by while so many were killed. Variations of that theory have Bush pulling a “Roosevelt” (another, older conspiracy theory) who wanted to get into World War II so he did nothing despite prior knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack. In the expanded theory, Bush wanted to go to war in the Middle East for the oil.

For those with the critical thinking skills of a marmoset, such a formulation makes perfect sense. The only problem is that those who actually think about that idea for more than a few seconds realize the enormous problems for someone actually planning and carrying out such a conspiracy so that it has a chance of success.

Leave aside for a moment the fact that such a conspiracy would involve so many hundreds – perhaps thousands – of people in and out of government that the idea it could be kept secret is idiotic. The number of unknowns in executing such a plan are staggering. To believe in such a conspiracy, one needs to also believe in psychics and soothsayers. That’s because for such a conspiracy to achieve fruition, a series of events – many of which would have been impossible to predict – would have had to occur.

The problem for the truthers is that they are examining 9/11 after it happened so that what appears to be a logical progression of events and actions leading to a specific result is actually a mirage. There are forces and occurrences that no one could have foreseen at work as each step of the con piracy would have taken place thus making such a plan a crapshoot at best.

History does not unfold in nice, neat little vignettes where logic rules and the orderly progression of events can be measured and predicted like a mathematical equation. History is chaos. It is unpredictable because of the human element involved in its revelations. To believe in conspiracy is to suspend belief in reality itself and ignore the impact of randomness on events that is so obviously a huge part of history.

Oswald and Kennedy in Dealy Plaza, Dallas Texas, 44 years ago is so unlikely a happenstance of history that in order to get the two together on that day, in that location, conspiracists have had to extrapolate theories with no facts at hand to buttress them. They guess, they infer, they even just make stuff up. They create an entirely different past for Oswald – one not found in any historical record anywhere. He was CIA, or KGB, or an agent of Cuban intelligence. He was working for the mob, or the FBI, or the Secret Service. He was a patsy or he wasn’t even there.

The point is, they can’t all be right. What is missing is the brutal and boring reality that Oswald was in Dealy Plaza that day because of a random series of coincidences having nothing to do with any conspiracy but having everything to do with the arc of events related to Oswald’s miserable life. Add the random factor of a trip to Texas at exactly that time and that place by Kennedy and you have history in all its confusing, chaotic, glorious best.

An historical anomaly? Not hardly. Consider what happened during a real assassination conspiracy; the murder of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, the proximate cause for World War I.

The killing of Ferdinand is so impossible, so unlikely as to be beyond belief. And while there really was a conspiracy involving the Serbian separatist group, The Black Hand, the actual circumstances that led to Ferdinand’s death would have been rejected by a Hollywood studio for being just too fantastical.

The conspiracy had several assassins spread out along a motorcade route where Ferdinand and his wife would be taken to the town hall for a formal welcome. The first two assassins lost heart completely and failed to make an attempt. They were armed with bombs and pistols. Further along the route, another assassin made the first attempt on the Archduke’s life, tossing a bomb that bounced off Ferdinand’s car and landed behind it, exploding when a follow-up car passed over it. The bomb injured 20 people and shook up Ferdinand’s party considerably. The would be assassin swallowed a cyanide pill and jumped in the river – neither of which killed him. He was promptly arrested.

Also failing to act despite being armed with bombs and pistols were several other assassins standing nearby including young Gavrilo Princip. The 20 year old would get another chance shortly.

After a tense greeting by the mayor of Sarajevo, Ferdinand announced his desire to go to the hospital and visit those injured in the failed attack. Additional security for the Archduke was discussed but in the end, it was left up to the Serbian police to protect Ferdinand.

Meanwhile, young Princip, probably disappointed at his failure to carry out the plan, made his way to a deli to grab a sandwich. And here is where coincidence and the rule of randomness unite to make history.

Ferdinand’s driver, unaware of the change in destination and unfamiliar with the winding, confusing streets of the city, made a wrong turn down a street near where the bomb blast occurred. By chance, at the end of the street was the very same deli from which Gavrilo Princip was just now emerging with his sandwich. Realizing his mistake, the driver stopped and began to back up. But before he could get very far, Princip jumped on the running board and pumped two shots into the car, hitting Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Both died within the hour.

Let us examine this from the perspective of a conspiracy theorist. Obviously, the driver is in on the conspiracy. Are we really supposed to believe that he innocently made a wrong turn down the very street that the assassin was waiting? And surely, the Mayor is part of the plot. If his welcoming speech as been 2 minutes shorter or longer, Princip would have not been near the deli and missed his chance.

How about the security personnel for the Archduke? Guilty! They could have added security along the route and failed to do so – a sure sign they were complicit in the assassination. And let’s not forget the Archduke’s own suicidal participation in this plot. After all, would he been killed if he hadn’t insisted on going to the hospital?

Most historians dismiss conspiracy theories out of hand because of these kind of random occurrences that simply cannot be predicted and would in many cases, scuttle the bud of a conspiracy before it had a chance to flower.

This has not stopped the paranoid left from positing the notion of history as conspiracy especially as it relates to 9/11. Part of this is certainly the way the left sees history in a deterministic fashion:

The conspiracy theory is the bastion of shadows and little or no evidence. It explains a famous or known event by appealing to the leftist dictum of “follow the money” or “look who benefits” as if actual evidence is irrelevant and personal ethics are just a farcical way for the rich and powerful to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone else. Whether it is the Kennedy assassination or the 9/11 attacks, conspiracy theories which pop up to counter the “official” tale of events share common characteristics.

As a historian, I come across conspiracy theories all the time. Progressive historians like Charles and Mary Beard made the conspiracy theory view of history a popular vogue for a while. They contended that the founders plotted the constitution as a way of aggrandizing their power and property at the expense of common folk, the evidence being that nearly all of the men at the convention were wealthy property owners and remained so afterwards, or became richer under the new system. Of course, this case is circumstantial at best and ignores the actual debates which occurred at the convention and afterwards on real political and philosophical issues.

Beard’s assertions inspired other historians to go into other historical episodes and see greedy conspiracies. The War of 1812 is a topic I study quite a bit and a topic with a historiography full of conspiracy theories, whether to steal Canada, Indian land, or whatever else, as opposed to the real issues of free trade and sailor’s rights which actually sparked the conflict. The conspiracy theory today is usually a way to cast the darkest aspersions upon the government in general and certain officers of the government in particular.

The mindset that can take an historical event and glean the truth from “who benefits” is absurd on its face. One need only look at the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11, and the examine the make-up of Congress and Bush’s approval ratings today in order to totally debunk the idea. Democrats in control of government (and likely to increase their majorities and win the White House next year) while George Bush is seen as a failure.

If we are to believe that Bush & Company either allowed 9/11 to happen or actually planned and executed that tragedy, then one must look at the political situation today in order to validate those theories. Are we to believe it was part of the plan that George Bush would sink to historic lows of approval by the American people? Are we to believe that the fall of the Republican party was foreseen by the plotters?

Do these facts mean that the conspiracy is now no longer in operation, that it has been closed down? At what point did the plotters see the end of their machinations? After Saddam’s statue fell? After Bush’s re-election? When the first gush of Iraqi oil was stolen by the government (or their proxies, the oil companies)?

These aren’t idle questions. They are questions that must be answered by the conspiracists in order for them to prove their theories. They can’t, of course. For instance, to believe that the conspiracy was over with the 2004 election raises its own set of problems. For if the President knew there were no WMD’s in Iraq prior to the invasion, you would have to carry that idea to its logical conclusion that Bush wanted to lose the war. Otherwise, our victorious troops would find no WMD and expose the plot or at the very least, risk defeat by the Democrats in 2004 who would make the failure to find WMD an issue in the campaign. Or our defeated troops would never get the chance to search for WMD and the plot would remain intact. Of course, there would be such an outcry over our loss of the war that Bush would be defeated for re-election.

Remember, we are not seeing these events after they happen but rather we are planning to invade Iraq for the oil. How can we be sure Bush won’t get slaughtered in the election for not finding any WMD? As it is, the Democrats came within 100,00 votes in Ohio of winning, which would have destroyed the plot right there.

All it takes to dismiss most conspiracy theories is a little skepticism, a little critical thinking. But the skills necessary to examine conspiracies by applying logic and extrapolating outcomes based on reason and common sense rather than deterministic fantasies has been largely lost thanks public schools ignoring the necessity of teaching comprehension and cognition.

This was due to a widespread belief among educators that students are vessels to be filled with information rather than human beings who must be taught how to value and assess that information. There was also a belief that teachers shouldn’t bully students by imposing a specific worldview.

I sympathize with the argument but reject it from experience. The best teachers I had growing up did not tell me what to think. They taught me how to think. Bad teachers can’t tell the difference. But all it takes is one or two teachers who impart more than knowledge but rather habits of thought you carry with you for a lifetime and give a student the basics of approaching information with a rational and reasoned mind. I fear that the de-emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills prevents most younger people from attacking intellectual problems like conspiracy theories armed with the proper intellectual weapons to cull the truth from the nonsense. Couple that incredulity with the viral nature of the internet and you have a potent combination to spread the disease of ignorance with regard to conspiracies.

From believing in creationism to advancing theories about Area 51 and aliens, it is sometimes beyond belief how dumb people can be. Michelle Malkin has it about right; “The fringe is now mainstream.” And it is frightening to consider the idea that if this is so, what other kind of conspiracy theories can gain traction and eventually cause some real mischief.

The left has done a good job the last 30 years smearing our history, denigrating our accomplishments as a nation, ascribing all sorts of evil to our motivations, and generally highlighting America’s numerous shortcomings. Howard Zinn is an extreme example of this school of leftist thought. This is a one dimensional view of America that fails spectacularly in describing the people and events that have shaped America into the imperfect but basically decent vessel that it is today. But at the bottom of most of the left’s critique of America is the belief that powerful, evil, unseen forces are at work to oppress and rule the American people.

The fact that a majority now subscribe basically to that view should not surprise us. But it should nevertheless chill us to our bone marrow. For out of such paranoia arise dictators and tyrants. And with so many enthralled with conspiracies of one kind or another, it wouldn’t take much to see such a man as a savior on a white horse rather than the harbinger of disaster.

By: Rick Moran at 4:11 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

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