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11/15/2007
CHILDREN’S ANTI-CLASSIC MOVIES ON THE WAY
CATEGORY: Media

I hadn’t watched The Wizard of Oz in close to twenty years – a consequence of having seen the movie so often in my youth. But just recently, I saw a beautiful retrospective of Judy Garland’s career on PBS in which I was reminded of what a spectacular instrument her voice had been. Then, this past weekend, Ted Turner’s TNT and TBS networks ran the restored version and I took the opportunity to sit down and watch it.

The emotional reaction I had to the film shocked me. It brought back a flood of memories from childhood I had long ago buried under the wearied cynicism and callousness of adulthood. I recalled sitting in front of the TV with the whole family and watching the film on what was then the new technology of color television, being amazed, scared, entrhralled, and amused at the goings on in Oz. At that point in my life, I believed monkeys could fly, witches could really perform magic, trees could talk, and scarecrows could dance.

I suppose that’s part of the attraction in the Harry Potter series of books and films, although there is a much darker, more sinister element in J.K. Rowhling’s characters and plots than either Frank Baum, author of the Oz series of books or Hollywood would have possibly thought appropriate for children. The identification of children today with the young wizards in the Potter series also has a lot to do with the characters able to control their immediate surroundings simply by waving a magic wand – a tempting prospect for kids who, by nature are unable to affect their own lives except at the margins.

And that was on my mind when, right in the middle of my reveries about childhood and enjoying the innocence and pure entertainment found in The Wizard of Oz , a trailer for a new Walt Disney film was shown. Entitled Enchanted, to these adult eyes the film certainly looks like a winner:

A classic Disney animated fairy tale meets with the modern, live-action romantic comedy in Walt Disney Pictures’ ENCHANTED. Featuring an all-star cast, the film follows the beautiful princess Giselle (AMY ADAMS) as she is banished by an evil queen (SUSAN SARANDON) from her magical, musical animated land and finds herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern-day Manhattan.

Shocked by this strange new environment that doesn’t operate on a “happily ever after” basis, Giselle is now adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of enchantment. But when Giselle begins to fall in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer (PATRICK DEMPSEY) who has come to her aid—even though she is already promised to a perfect fairy tale prince (JAMES MARSDEN) back home – she has to wonder: can a storybook view of romance survive in the real world?

The juxtaposition of the two films was jarring indeed. Both can easily be enjoyed by adults. But trying to combine the fairy tale world and the grit and cynicism of the real world may be taking the modern “children’s movie” too far. While the film will come out with a “PG” rating, most parents won’t hesitate to take their kids to see it given that it is a Walt Disney movie and features classic fairy tale characters.

Perhaps it’s because the trailer so jarringly interrupted my trip down memory lane watching Oz that it started me thinking about today’s Hollywood fare for kids and ask are we cheating our children by forcing them to grow up earlier and confront the reality of becoming adults before it is really necessary?

The whole point of fairy tales is to stimulate children’s imaginations and place them in another world different than the one they inhabit. The themes and characters are designed to pass on cultural traditions to the next generation in a fun and memorable way.

Serious critiques of common stories like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” try to make the point that these cultural touchstones actually work to undermine gender equality and may even foster racial hatred and stereotypes. For example, Disney’s extraordinary technical achievement of combining live action and animated segments in the 1946 release Song of the South is never shown on television and has never been released on DVD due to the racially insensitive attitudes of the characters toward “Uncle Remus” and his oral creation of the Br’er Rabbit adventures. The original stories written down by Joel Chandler Harris were actually African folk tales told to him by former slaves in rural Georgia and tended to depict race relations in the post Civil War south in an idealized manner.

Too politically correct? Not according to the feminists:

Feminist criticism and re-visioning of fairy tales has centered on exposing the gender ideology that is perpetuated in tales. Criticism has focused on the passivity of young girls waiting to be rescued, the encoded binaries in a text that equate beauty with goodness, the representation of evil stepmothers, and the closures which seal a girl’s dependency on a prince.

All of that may be true. But does it do any harm otherwise? One might also note the strength to endure hardship with a determination to change their lot in life in both Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, their innate intelligence, their resourcefulness, and their eventual triumph. Aren’t these qualities to which young girls should be aspiring as well?

Being passed down through an oral tradition in western society, fairy tales like Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel change from telling to telling, embellished to make a point or altered to obscure another. Some of the harsher cultural critiques posit that such touchstones were actually used to oppress women, that this was their purpose all along. Such nonsense may pass muster in academia but you and I see these tales for what they are; ways for children to imagine a different world from the one they inhabit on a day to day basis while passing on important moral lessons in such a way that they will listen and learn.

Most modern children’s films like the Shrek and Ice Age franchises try to walk a fine line between an appealing kind of smarminess and wide eyed innocence, ostensibly to keep adults entertained as well. The Shrek films may turn fairy tales upside down by having the monster marry the princess but it works because the “monster” isn’t really evil, just different.

But Enchanted is an entirely different kind of children’s film altogether. It may create a memorable world that will expand the imaginations of youngsters. But the moral verities one usually finds in fairy tales are mocked and satirized as being totally out of place in modern New York. The purity and innocence of the Princess is transformed into a kind of empty headed naivete while the gallant and courageous Prince becomes something of a buffoon. Their moral universe – where people are supposed to behave a certain way toward one another – is ruthlessly taken advantage of and exploited for selfish reasons by world weary New Yorkers.

I don’t see anything unhealthy or harmful for children in Enchanted, having only read about it and seen the trailers. But it nevertheless caused an indescribable sadness as I watched the beautiful fairy tale princess being treated abominably by caricatures of cynical New Yorkers. Of course, adults realize that life is not a “happily ever after” proposition, that tragedy and loss are a part of living. But must children be disabused of the notion so early in life?

It’s depressing to think that a film like Enchanted will color a child’s outlook on the world of make believe and fairy tales after they see the film. They won’t see the world of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty quite the same way again. It’s not a question of whether this is right or wrong but whether it is necessary. I know if I had little ones, I would think about taking them to see this film. One must measure what would be gained from seeing it against what might be lost. In that respect, the trade offs for some parents might be too high.

Disney is marketing this film to families so it’s a good bet a large part of the audience will be young children. No doubt some will dub the film a “classic” if for no other reason than the premise of combining reality with the fairy tale world. But in truth, I see this film (and the upcoming Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, a “re-imagining” of the Wizard of Oz called Tin Man) as “anti-classics” in that they deliberately set out to separate themselves from the classic genre and either parody it or, in the case of Tin Man, create an opposing vision of the original.

I really do wish both films success. It just saddens me that it comes at the expense of childhood visions of make believe and fantasy.

By: Rick Moran at 8:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

11/14/2007
WHAT’S A LITTLE VOTER FRAUD AMONG FRIENDS?

Kevin Drum is extremely distrustful of anything the Bush Administration says or does. This is all well and good as the Bushies have made a nasty habit of surprising the country by saying one thing and later having the exact opposite of their claims revealed as the truth.

But don’t let Drum’s jaundiced eye toward politicians fool you. He is actually the most trusting of souls, willing to generously give the benefit of the doubt to all sorts of people – especially those disposed to vote for Democrats:

The State of Indiana has the most stringent voter ID laws in the country. Democrats are always griping about this, and have even gone so far as to challenge Indiana’s law in the Supreme Court. But this is just silly. In this day and age everyone has a photo ID anyway, so what’s the problem?

Just in case, though, the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race decided to check and see if this was really true. The three charts reproduced here illustrate the guts of their findings. By a substantial margin, the Indiana residents most likely to possess photo ID turn out to be whites, the middle aged, and high-income voters. And while this is undoubtedly just a wild coincidence, these are also the three groups most like to vote for Republicans. (2006 exit poll data here for the suspicious.) Overall, 91% of registered Republicans had photo IDs compared to only 83% of registered Democrats.

In truth, voter ID laws are highly discriminatory. The problem for Drum and other Democrats is that they discriminate against people who want to cheat the system and commit voter fraud. In Drum’s universe, anyone who shows up to vote should be taken at their word that they are who they say they are.

Just so we’re clear on this, in 2004 when the voter registration fraudsters at ACORN submitted registrations with names like Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy, Drum believes the poll workers should have just gone ahead and allowed anyone to vote who chose to use those names – even though Mary Poppins couldn’t possibly have been in Ohio at the time since she was working as a waitress at the greasy spoon down the street from where I lived in 2004, her being between nanny gigs at the time.

How very trusting of Mr. Drum. And how oblivious can you be to the widespread potential for abuse of the system when Democratic partisans like ACORN and the NAACP Voter Fund register non-existent or dead people to vote and then have these phantoms show up on election day, presenting themselves as legitimate?

The Supreme Court ruled in Reynolds v Sims in 1964 that there should be “one man, one vote” not “one man, one vote per registration.” But if we were to listen to the Kevin Drum’s of the world, everyone is basically law abiding and there is very little chance to game the system by faking registrations and then organizing an election day party where groups of Democratic party supporters vote early and often.

To be fair, this excellent article from Slate last May by Richard Hasen outlines the difficulty in carrying out an effective fraud scheme at the polls. But Hasen, like Drum, suffers from an acute case of overtrusting their own interest groups as well as the individual voter.

How could an effective fraud scheme be carried out? This piece by Marc Ambinder reveals the AFL-CIO’s plans for the 2008 election:

AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman will oversee the deployment of more than 200,000 volunteers to 23 priority states, including Ohio, pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Five house seats in “union-dense” districts and six Senate seats will be targeted.

In Ohio, where union households comprised 28% of the vote in 2006, the AFl-CIO plans to reach out to more than 1.4 million voters.

The labor federation will partner with other groups and use reams of consumer data to market precise political messages neighborhood-by-neighborhood.

“Our members are building an army to make more calls, knock on more doors and turn out more voters than ever,” said AFSCME President and AFL-CIO Political Committee Chair Gerald McEntee. “We’re going for the Trifecta: the House, the Senate, and the White House.”

In total, the AFL-CIO unions will spend about $200 million on Election 08 efforts, according to AFl-CIO estimates.

I would say that $200 million is lowballing it. AFSCME alone plans to spend $50 million in 2008. And some independent studies point out that staff time and other in kind contributions by labor raise that number by a factor of at least three, making the real figure closer to $600 million – almost all of it spent to aid Democrats.

The point is simple; there is ample money to organize, fund, and carry out voter fraud using labor allies in ACORN, the NAACP, ACT, and other organizations to supply the fake registrations, sharing that info with unions (unions help fund ACORN and ACT). And given the fact that there is massive resistance to purging voter registration rolls of the dead, of convicts, and others who may have moved out of state or otherwise become ineligible to vote, it seems abundantly clear that the potential exists not only to carry out fraud on a large scale but also, just as importantly, to escape detection doing so.

It is simply naive to believe otherwise.

The fact is, voter ID opponents do not have a good argument against a system that demands voters prove who they are prior to casting a ballot. Instead, they fall back on the tired old canard that requiring identification to vote is tantamount to a “poll tax” or “discourages minorities from voting” – even if, as the state of Georgia recently did, offer to give away state ID’s to those who couldn’t afford them.

They cannot argue simply on the merits of the plan. They must play the race card to obscure the real reasons for their opposition – that it would make voter fraud by labor and other Democratic allies extremely difficult.

Republicans, of course, have their own problems with voter fraud. I outline some of the ways the GOP attempts to tamp down minority voting in my PJ Media article here. Robert F. Kennedy estimates in his widely circulated Rolling Stone article that up to 350,000 minorities were intimidated or otherwise prevented from voting in Ohio in 2004. That number seems very high but there is no doubt that GOP efforts at “election monitoring” and spurious mailings to black precincts warning residents not to vote if they have so much as a parking ticket depressed black turnout.

I am not advocating making it difficult to register or vote. The process should be as simple as possible while still maintaining the integrity of the system. Otherwise, why bother?

I’m not revealing any privileged information by saying that our electoral system is in big trouble and needs to be fixed. Now that states are going to programs such as election day registration, it becomes paramount to make sure that each person votes only one time and that his vote is counted only once.

And if Kevin Drum and other Democratic partisans can quit playing the race card when it comes to voter ID programs, it might help in not only cutting down on fraud but also raising the confidence level of the American people that the most sacred of our democratic institutions is being safeguarded to the best of our ability.

By: Rick Moran at 1:22 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

Maggie's Farm linked with Wednesday Beer Time links...
11/13/2007
“THE RICK MORAN SHOW” - LIVE

I invite you to join me for The Rick Moran Show from 3:00 – 4:00 PM Central Time.

In addition to the usual manic take on politics and current events, I’ll be joined today by my old friend Kender of Kender’s Musings. Kender is one of the great raconteurs I know and will have plenty of great stories as well as some pretty tart views on politics I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

You can stream the broadcast by clicking the button below. If you want to enter the chat room and kibbitz from the peanut gallery, just click on the “chat” button.

If you’d like to call in during the show, the number is (718) 664-9764.
Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

A podcast will be available shortly after the show is over.

UPDATE

The podcast can be streamed below. You can download it by clicking the button above.

By: Rick Moran at 3:36 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

11/12/2007
A “HELL” OF A HOTEL
CATEGORY: Blogging

I have travelled far and wide in my 53 years, visiting by my own count 37 states and have taken hundreds of trips lasting less than a day to a couple of weeks.

I have stayed in all manner of hotels and motels of varying quality from the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel at the foot of the rockies and the elegant Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco to “no tell” motel rat traps I normally wouldn’t bed down at with a $5 whore but was forced by circumstances to stay.

But the exquisite torture inflicted on me by the Tropicana Hotel in Vegas was without a doubt the most cruel and unusual application of “hospitality” I have ever experienced. Old and smelly, with a disinterested almost catatonic staff along with amenities so niggardly they were damn near invisible, the “Trop” as they call it in Vegas contributed in no small way in making my first trip to Vegas the nightmare it turned out to be.

Blogworld was great. Don’t get me wrong. But nothing ruins a trip more than aggravation. And boy did I get a bellyfull in Vegas.

The flight out and back was uneventful. No complaints about US Airways which was very efficient – especially the electronic check in that had me in and out in less than 5 minutes both ways. Baggage was no problem and was delivered in a timely fashion.

But my troubles started with trying to get an airport cab – along with about 1000 other people. Walking a good 15 minutes from the gate to the baggage claim for starters, they herded us into an impossibly long queue – a couple of city blocks it seemed like – all to wait for 18 cabs at a time to pull up to a number corresponding to a customer.

Now I’ve flown into O’Hare during the busiest times of the year and I can tell you I’ve never waited in line more than 5 minutes or so for a cab. But this was a Thursday morning in November and there were literally hundreds of people waiting in line to get a cab.

It wasn’t that there weren’t enough cabs. It was the god-awful system they used. Only 18 cabs could pull up to the curb at a time and load up which means if there were 3 or 4 hundred people ahead of you, there was quite a wait.

It took me 20 minutes to get a cab.

Off to the Trop for a quick shower and a run out to the Convention center where the panels and seminars had already started. Or so I thought. What I didn’t count on was staying at a hotel where the guests were secondary to the schedule.

Check in time at the Trop was noon. Okay, I’ve been to dozens of hotels that if you get there a little early (it was 11:15 AM) the registration clerk would simply say something like “Let me call and make sure your room is ready” and if it wasn’t, they’d get it ready right quick and within a few minutes you’d have your room.

Imagine my surprise when the clerk informed me that “Check in is at noon,” and then turned away as if I had Ebola. I must have looked ridiculous standing there waiting because when she glanced up from her uber-important paperwork, the look on her face was one of mild amusement – like my boyhood friend Jim used to look when he would use a magnifying glass to set fire to a grasshopper back in the day.

“Is there anything I can do for you,” she said.

“Yes. I need to check in to my room.”

Like a broken record. “Check in is at noon, sir.”

“I see. My room isn’t ready yet?”

“Check in is at noon, sir.” As if her answer explained the mysteries of the universe.

“What do I do? What about my bags? I’ve got a meeting to get to.”

“Check in is at noon, sir. You can leave the bags with the doorman.”

And that, my friends, was that. At least at a flop house, the clerk will suggest you have a nice time when getting screwed. These people at the Trop gave you the shaft without benefit of a wrap around.

After dropping a couple of hundred at their rather indifferent casino, noontime arrives at which point I am charged an additional $6 bucks a night “resort fee” (snort) – as if I’m staying at the International on Maui.

The room is small, dark, and musky – as if the carpet had gotten wet and caught a bad case of mold. The room had torn coverings on the furniture, the lumpiest bed in Christendom, a clock radio showing the wrong time (it was 20 minutes off), and drapes that didn’t draw all the way closed.

I quickly got out of my clothes to jump in the shower when I first realized only cold water was coming out of the bathtub faucet. I turned the cold water all the way off leaving only the hot water on – still icey. I tried turning the cold on and hot off. Uh-uh, nope.

No hot water. No shower. No hope.

I changed my clothes in near darkness (the lights gave off about 30 watts each with the overhead light by the door completely out), trying to stay clear of the open curtains where about 100 people at poolside could look directly into my room and rushed over to the convention center.

To say that I was mad would be incorrect. I was more in shock than mad. And it only got worse.

After the first day’s events at Blogworld I returned to the Trop (waiting an hour for a cab at the convention center), stopping by the desk to tell them my hot water was kaput.

“Are you sure?” asked the Manager on Duty.

The snark emerged briefly. “You’re welcome to try it yourself,” I said with a straight face.

“We’ll get someone on that right away,” he said.

Now “right away” is a nebulous time frame so I told the Manager that since I was planning on going out shortly if he couldn’t give me a time frame.

“We’ll have someone come right up,” he said and picked up the phone.

Actually believing the maintenance guy might get there before I returned to my room (not impossible since I was a 10 minute walk from the front desk), I hurried back.

A half hour went by and no one showed up. Another half hour goes by and I’m starting to see red. For the first time, I allowed the annoyance to come through in my voice when I called the front desk.

“This is Mr. Moran in room 5152. I still have no hot water and I am going out very soon. When do you expect someone to come fix this problem?”

“Our maintenance man is very busy right now. He will try to get to it sometime tonight.”

I hated the idea of someone in my room when I wasn’t there. But it appeared I had little choice in the matter.

“This is ridiculous,” I blurted out.

The maintenance guy never did show up the whole time I was there.

I went to the MGM Grand to play since it was a much nicer casino. Dropping a couple hundred more (but having fun anyway) I returned to my room with the lumpy bed.

The next morning, I was forced to take a cold shower, a bracing experience if you want it. I didn’t but had no choice in the matter. Then it was off to another day’s events at Blogworld, returning around 5:00 PM (after waiting another hour for a cab.).

I thought I’d take a nap before dinner so imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get in to my room. The key didn’t work. I walked the ten minutes back and forth to and from the desk in order to get another key – which also didn’t work.

Back and forth again only to find out that apparently, the hotel had locked me out of my room thinking I had already checked out. I had indeed closed my account out that morning, an old habit born of waiting in line to check out. No problem, I was told. Since you plan to incur no charges, you only have to drop your key off at the desk tomorrow morning before you leave. But the idiot clerk had me checking out rather than simply closing out my account so I was forced to walk a marathon just to get it straightened out.

The nightmare continued when I discovered that the TV only got two stations – the station to order pay per view movies and the local Las Vegas station. All the other attempts to change the channel via remote or manually went for naught.

I didn’t even bother to call the desk and tell them.

In the morning, I decided to call the front desk and find out when the courtesy airport shuttle would be leaving. My final surprise of the trip came when I was told there was no free hotel shuttle service to the airport, that hotel guests were forced to fend for themselves. I sort of lost it when I nearly screamed:

“You don’t have an airport shuttle for guests? Jesus Lord! The Super 8 down the street has a courtesy shuttle!” It’s true. I had seen it.

“No reason to get upset about it, sir. You can reserve a shuttle from one of the private companies.”

“Okay,” I said calming down slightly. “Can you give me the number of one of the shuttle companies?”

“You can find them in the yellow pages under ‘airport transportation,’” she said.

CLICK went the phone. I nearly threw the instrument against the wall.

And there you have it. Uniformly bad service, horrible accommodations, indifferent amenities, and a staff that would have an easy time besting the guards at Abu Ghraib for “worst hospitality staff in the universe.”

The Tropicana will be torn down by 2010 to make way for a “new” Tropicana. Changing buildings ain’t gonna solve most of their problems. They might want to start by teaching their staff some manners.

At least then they probably wouldn’t have bloggers writing scathing reviews of their property.

By: Rick Moran at 1:19 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (23)

Maggie's Farm linked with Weds. Morning links...
11/11/2007
FLOWERS ON A GRAVE WITH NO NAME
CATEGORY: History

There are some cemeteries in my little corner of America that are surprisingly old. I say that because there is so much newness surrounding us here that it’s easy to forget that this part of Illinois was settled before the Civil War. First the fur traders, then the farmers, and finally the merchant and the railroad man began to fill up this part of northern Illinois beginning in the 1820’s.

Some of the best farm acreage on planet earth – thousands of hectares – has been plowed over to make room for gleaming office buildings and cookie cutter strip malls. The rich, black loam that at one time nurtured the growth of food crops that fed middle America now supports the suburbanite’s lawn and rose garden – a trade off for progress that some might find disturbing but which actually defines America in more ways than one.

Much of this growth has taken place in the last decade and a half as the cost of housing skyrocketed in suburbs closer to Chicago. But 30 years ago, this sliver of the Fox River Valley was still mostly farmland with little towns like Algonquin (population at that time around 7,000) dotting the landscape. And along the old country roads that criss cross Algonquin Township, one could occasionally find an old cemetery with perhaps only 2 or 3 dozen graves – probably at one time attached to a now abandoned church.

It amused some of us high school kids to take our dates out onto these dark, lonely roads and wind up pulling in to one of these old cemeteries. We of the more settled suburbs closer to Chicago thought it might literally scare the pants off our female companions. Of course, it never did but we shouldn’t be faulted for our original thinking.

Remembering these cemeteries when I moved out to the area more than a decade ago, I decided to try and find some of those country grave yards we visited in my high school days. It was the insouciance of youth and an unpracticed eye that we didn’t realize what a goldmine of history we were ignoring at the time. We saw the dates on those old headstones – some going back to the 1840’s – and didn’t grasp the significance. Such callow youths we were, indeed.

I discovered in my quest to find the old grave yards that most of them had disappeared, buried under suburban sprawl as the once lonely country roads were now major thoroughfares with subdivisions, shopping centers, stop lights and something that wasn’t around 30 years ago – the police. It made me grateful that in the stupidity of my youth when it was considered macho to drive drunk that the police had better things to do than patrol those dark, forbidding township roads.

After spending most of a lazy summer afternoon trying to find them, I finally happened on exactly what I was looking for. The nameless cemetery was sitting at a crossroads, nestled into a grove of poplar trees. I never found out for sure but the 2 dozen graves must have been maintained by the property owner. It wasn’t exactly overgrown but it wasn’t manicured and clipped as you would find in most private cemeteries. Some of the markers were askew and the graves had been placed haphazardly giving a decidedly casual feeling to the scene.

The markers were weatherbeaten to the point that many of the names were erased by the wind and rain. As historian Bruce Catton pointed out after viewing similar graves as a boy in his own rural neighborhood in Michigan, there is nothing lonelier than a grave with no name. It’s as if the soul itself has been stripped of dignity and humanity, leaving only the rotting, decaying flesh and bones of a corpse with no memory of friends or family to succor the spirit or assuage the grief of separation.

It was the color of the flower arrangement that first caught my eye. A beautiful collection of wildflowers – perhaps picked from a nearby field or family garden – which gave off a cheery glow in an otherwise mournful setting. As I approached the grave, I noted immediately that the name had been completely erased by time and erosion. The only visible writing was the year of birth and death – 1819 -1852 – as well as the phrase “A proud soldier.”

Some nameless Samaritan had placed a beautiful flower arrangement in a forgotten graveyard on a veteran’s grave with no name. Suddenly, I saw the lonely cemetery in an entirely different light. There was an immediate connection made to our past, like rubbing a talisman and seeing history spread out before me.

At the time of his death, this unknown soldier’s father would have been old enough to serve in the War of 1812 while his grandfather could have easily fought in the Revolution. And his sons would probably have been old enough to serve in the Civil War while his grandsons may have participated in the Spanish-American War.

And to make our historical connection complete, the last veteran of that war died in 1992 – a man who could have shaken hands with soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan today.

The respect shown this unknown soldier in an old country grave yard reminds us all that the millions of veterans who have served the United States proudly need to be recognized and applauded for engaging themselves in a cause and effort greater than themselves. The defense of our freedoms – too often taken for granted or forgotten – is worthy of this recognition because they did a job that needed to be done, performing selflessly and when called upon, making the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of liberty.

I’ve often asked, does this make veterans better men than me? I think it makes them more complete men, filling themselves up with something besides the usual trivialities of life that tend to dominate our existence. In this, they go to their graves secure in the knowledge that they have lived a life of a different cut than the rest of us. Richer for their military experience – perhaps in ways that they themselves don’t quite understand – I don’t exactly envy them their service but I respect it enormously.

That old grave yard is gone now, something I discovered a few years ago when I pulled up to the same intersection. A traffic light replaced the four way stop signs and an expensive, gated house now occupies the land. But the memory of that nameless soldier’s marker with the beautiful flower tribute returns every once and a while. It makes me appreciate what I have a little more. And especially on days like today when we honor the memory of our veterans, it connects me to our past in that goose-bumpy sort of way, filling the heart with gratitude that I live in a country that birthed such men as that unknown soldier haunting my thoughts on this Veterans Day.

By: Rick Moran at 8:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

Sister Toldjah linked with Celebrating America and what makes her so great...
11/8/2007
OFF TO VEGAS AND BLOGWORLD
CATEGORY: Blogging

I’ll be covering the Blogworld Expo for Pajamas Media for the next two days so posting will be light – probably just link to my stuff at the PJ Media website.

If you’re going to Blogworld and want to meet up, leave a message for me at The Tropicana Hotel or stop by the PJ Media booth and leave a message there. Won’t have much free time but I’ll be glad to sit down for a drink.

I’ll also probably do a Blog Talk Radio show from Vegas – most likely on Friday. I’ll try to give a heads up here on the website.

I’m really looking forward to this although with my other duties for Michelle Malkin and American Thinker, I’ll be one busy boy – probably have little time for the casinos. Don’t feel sorry for me though – I intend to get very little sleep…

By: Rick Moran at 6:00 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

11/7/2007
THE COUNCIL HAS SPOKEN

The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category is “Syria’s Assad Caught With His Hands in the Nuclear Cookie Jar” by Joshuapundit. Finishing second was “3 Why Hate Crimes Are a Joke Part 5783, and Why the University of Delaware Digs ‘em” by The Colossus of Rhodey.

Coming in first in the Non Council catgory was ” Is This the State of Academics Today?” by The QandO Blog.

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

By: Rick Moran at 6:59 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

DENNIS KUCINICH - A MERRY PRANKSTER

Dennis Kucinich is just old enough to have been one of Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters” – those wild and crazy post-beat generation prophets of the psychedelic age whose cross country trip on a bus named “Further” has captured the imaginations of rebels and reprobates for 40 years.

Immortalized in one of the most manic, most hilarious books of the 1960’s, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, the Pranksters made it their business to try and alter the consciousness of America by getting everyone to drop acid and turn on to the psychedelic experience. The Pranksters themselves were quite the crew. “Pranking” unsuspecting citizens from coast to coast with elaborate hoaxes, the Prankster’s in your face method of revolutionary activity made them all seem larger than life.

Kucinich may not be quite ready to contaminate the Congressional water supply by dumping LSD into the cisterns. But he’s got a great head start on trying to alter reality:

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich expressed satisfaction Tuesday with a series of procedural twists on the House floor that resulted in the Ohio congressman’s impeachment articles against Vice President Dick Cheney being sent for committee review.

A series of strategic maneuvers on both sides of the partisan aisle ended with a 218-194 vote along party lines to deliver the impeachment resolution to the House Judiciary Committee, the panel of jurisdiction for such matters.

“This vote sends a message that the administration’s conduct in office is no longer unchallenged,” Kucinich said after the vote.

The vote also sends the message that Dennis Kucinich is a certified loon. And his Democratic colleagues, scrambling like hell to avoid being lumped together with the Shirley McClaine of the House, tried desperately to avoid the impeachment issue alltogether by trying to kill the resolution outright. Alas, the Republicans decided not to be Pranked by their opponents and pulled a fast one:

Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on the resolution sponsored by longshot presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

The anti-war Ohio Democrat, in his resolution, accused Cheney of purposely leading the country into war against Iraq and manipulating intelligence about Iraq’s ties with al-Qaida.

The GOP tactics reversed what had been expected to be an overwhelming vote to table, or kill, the resolution.

Midway through the vote, with instructions from the GOP leadership, Republicans one by one changed their votes from yes to kill the resolution to no, trying to force the chamber into a debate and an up-or-down vote on the proposal.

At one point there were 290 votes to table. After the turnaround, the final vote was 251-162 against tabling, with 165 Republicans voting against it.

“We’re going to help them out, to explain themselves,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “We’re going to give them their day in court.”

The exquisite irony of watching Democrats fall all over themselves trying to kill impeachment after spending most of the last 7 years accusing Bush/Cheney of the most dire impeachable offenses was almost too delicious to watch. It showed the Democrats to be shallow political hacks, eager and capable of using rhetoric to undermine the presidency during a time of war but without the balls to match their actions to their words.

A truly pitiful performance.

Once again, I issue a challenge to those Democrats. If Bush/Cheney are truly guilty of all that you have charged them with over the last 7 years, stop talking and start acting. You own Congress now. There’s no real excuse you can use to delay any further. You have it in your power – not to mention an eager beaver Judiciary Committee Chairman in John Conyers – to begin serious, substantive hearings on everything you have accused this administration of doing for the last 7 years which would, if your rhetoric can be believed, lead to Articles of Impeachment being sent to the House floor.

If you are not willing to do so, STFU. Your apocalyptic rhetoric about the perceived sins of this Administration doesn’t match reality. It never has and never will. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the speechifying and wailing and gnashing of teeth has been nothing more than pandering to your rabid dog base of internet extremists. And the way they are turning on you today should tell you all you need to know about the viability of that strategy.

Kucinich is serious about impeachment because he is deranged. The rest of you may be more grounded in the reality found on this planet but nevertheless should be taken to task for your shameless, shallow political gamesmanship that has done almost as much damage to the United States as the Administration’s incompetence.

The fact that you won’t recognize that by either putting your votes where your mouths have been or toning down the rhetoric to a more civilized level of discourse reveals yourselves to be a collective of scumbags, unworthy of holding high office with responsibility for the safety and security of the American people.

By all rights, 2008 should be a hugely Democratic year. I daresay your actions yesterday along with other indications of your unfitness to be in the majority may yet save the GOP from disaster.

And if that happens, you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves.

By: Rick Moran at 8:11 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Key Thompson backer has drug record...
11/6/2007
THE ORIGINS OF BUSH DERANGEMENT SYNDROME

It is usually very difficult to trace the origins of conspiracies. Much like the way urban legends are spread, finding out how a particular meme gets started is largely a matter of slogging detective work, tracing newspaper articles and wearing out shoe leather interviewing people.

It is believed that the very first hints of conspiracy involving Oswald and the JFK assassination could be traced to La Figaro L’Humanité, the communist party newspaper in France. A KGB defector in 1982 let on that the articles were part of a disinformation campaign designed to throw off suspicion of complicity by Moscow in the crime, something with which Kruschev was very concerned. (The defector’s reliability has been questioned on this and other matters).

A few months later, a small American publication called Ramparts began a series of articles using the La Figaro piece as a template to paste all sorts of conspiracies involving Johnson, the CIA, the Army, and large corporations. Other hard left magazines picked up on these theories and expanded on them. Even before the Warren Report was published, the paranoid left had a slew of conspiracy theories involving the assassination that fingered everyone but Oswald.

I bring this up because paranoia regarding the JFK assassination is one of the few semi- traceable conspiracies in modern history. Others have roots going back hundreds of years to the time of the Knights Templar and Illuminati and their beginnings have been lost to the mists of history. At bottom, all of these conspiracies posit the notion that powerful men using unseen and unknown methods control our destiny.

Today’s nuts inhabit both the right and left sides of the ideological spectrum with the left wing paranoids more prominent if only because of their target; George Bush and his Administration.

No? How’s that military draft coming, guys? And what about that fallout from our attack on Iran? You know, the one that was “imminent” at least three separate times over the last few years? And while we’re on the subject, have you sent your Christmas cards to your friends rotting away in those concentration camps you were so sure were going to be set up to house “regime” opponents?

I could go on, of course. There is no end to the wild nuttiness of the left when it comes to their paranoia about the Bush Administration. To hear them tell it, Bush is both evil genius and incompetent clown – a dichotomy most sane people would find laughable but which the paranoids on the left blithely run off at the mouth coming up with ever more outrageous “warnings” about Bush actions. The closer we get to the end of the Bush presidency, the more we hear of the “manufactured 9/11” where Bush would cancel the election of 2008 and rule by dictatorship.

There are going to be a lot of exploding heads on January 20, 2009 when Bush rides off to Texas.

Where does this idiocy come from? It comes from here:

In a new book alleging a campaign of slander and intimidation orchestrated chiefly by Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Willey points a finger of suspicion at the former first couple for the death of her husband, who was believed to have killed himself.

Willey, who claims she was groped by President Clinton in the White House, acknowledged in an interview with WND today that she stands by the speculation she poses about her husband’s demise in “Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton,” set for release this week by World Ahead Publishing, WND Books’ partner.

Asked if she suspects her husband Ed, a lawyer and son of a prominent Virginia lawmaker, was murdered, Willey replied, “Most definitely.”

There is absolutely no doubt that Bush Derangement Syndrome’s roots can be found in the Clinton Derangement Syndrome of the 1990’s. And if this book is any indication, BDS will continue to run long after George leaves office:

Willey writes that after her husband’s death, her friend Carole in Colorado told her something she had not known. Ed had confided to Carole’s husband that he had taken a briefcase full of cash to Little Rock, Ark., during the presidential campaign.

Willey said she was shocked but acknowledged her husband could have done it. Later she found a reference on a blog that explored illegal fundraising activities by the Clintons and noted Ed Willey was known for “handling large briefcases full of cash” as part of the 1992 presidential campaign.

She speculates: “I have no idea how anyone other than the Clintons would know that Ed might have carried cash in briefcases. So why would he be killed? Because he was carrying illegal money? That’s probably not enough reason. But what if, in his desperation, Ed had ‘illegally borrowed’ from the campaign?”

Willey herself brings up the obvious parallels to the Vince Foster suicide – which in Clinton Derangement Syndrome circles is listed as a “murder” despite numerous investigations by both Democrats and Republicans including independent counsels Fiske and Starr proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Fosters death was by his own hand.

The money is another issue. Willey wouldn’t be the first to have taken suitcases full of cash to Little Rock. But bribery and campaign financial irregularities are a long way from murder. And while the Clintons have been known to play hardball with opponents, Willey’s accusations are pretty slanderous. They were back then and they are now.

What CDS did was gather the kooks, the loons, and the nuts on the right under one umbrella with the internet as catalyst. Chat rooms and message boards acted as incubators where the latest preposterous theories about the Clintons were born.

And perhaps it’s no accident that BDS was born just when blogs began their rise to prominence. The archives of Daily Kos are full of diaries and posts that posit the most jaw dropping conspiracy theories about Bush. If the largest liberal blog could indulge themselves in such tripe, then clearly the way to fame and fortune in the leftysphere was to outdo the big guys in coming up with even more ridiculous theories of dark doings and evil abroad in the land.

It has culminated in the Rosie O’Donnell-Keith Olbermann axis of celebrity where those worthies feed hundreds of thousands of people a day a steady diet of BDS related claptrap. One wonders what poor Keith is going to do when Bush leaves office. Methinks he’s in for a fall since his “angry man” routine will be difficult to maintain if Democrats control everything.

Frankly, I’m surprised that Hillary hasn’t come in for more CDS than she has. Perhaps the loons are waiting for the general election campaign before letting loose. There are many bad things to be said about Hillary Clinton both personally and politically but what she and her husband were accused of during their tenure in office is so far beyond reality that it gives those of us who wish to critique Mrs. Clinton rationally a bad name. Those on the left who have spent the last seven years realistically critiquing the Bush Administration know what I’m talking about. It is easy to get lumped in with the nuts.

I feel for Kathleen Willey but she is wildly off base in her charges. I suppose I’ll hear it from some of my friends on the right but the fact is, tales of intimidation of witnesses, murder, burglary, and other illegal activities are largely anecdotal and have their origins in internet rumormongering. There is no credible evidence for it and thus, it is safe to dismiss much of CDS as the ramblings of paranoids.

The same could be said of BDS sufferers, of course. And given the polarization of our politics and general political nastiness abroad in the land, both Syndromes will probably be with us for a while.

By: Rick Moran at 7:07 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (22)

“THE RICK MORAN SHOW” - LIVE

Join me today at 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Central today for The Rick Moran Show.

Today, I’ll look at the crisis in Pakistan. We’ll have a little history lesson as well as examining the very latest on the crisis.

You can access the stream by clicking the button below.

If you’d like to call in to the show, the number is (718) 664-9764.

BlogTalkRadio.com

A podcast will be available shortly after the show ends.

UPDATE

You can stream the podcast here or download it by clicking the button above.

By: Rick Moran at 3:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)