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CATEGORY: Science, Space

No, my politically inclined friends not those kind of aliens. The kind of alien I’m talking about does not cut a hole in a border fence and sneak across with the help of a “coyote,” settling down in LA and immediately becoming a drain on government services.

At least, there’s no evidence to the contrary. Especially after reading this today:

The Denver man who is pushing a ballot measure to have the city form an “ET Commission” showed video of what he says is an alien Friday morning at a news conference. Reporters were allowed to view the video, but only a still image of it was released to the media.

Jeff Peckman said aliens visit his friend Stan Romanke all the time.

Romanke, who lives in Colorado Springs, allegedly recorded the alien video while living in Nebraska.

The pair has a deal with a documentary company for the rights to the video.

“Not all wrinkly like ET, the extraterrestrial, just youthful, smooth skin, large wide kind of eyes,” said Peckman.

Romanke has posted drawings of the aliens he reportedly sees on his Web site.

The video is grainy, in black and white, and shows what Peckman says is an alien peeking through a window a couple of times. As the Sainted Sagan tells us, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” And folks, this video just ain’t cuttin’ it.

This is the sort of alien you will be reading about today. It is the kind that many gullible people (and many who should know better) think visits the earth all the time and mingles with us earthlings, always managing to avoid the authorities who, we are told, are eager to get their hands on ET to perform all sorts of deadly experiments and autopsies.

These folks from another planet also seem to have a tremendous knack for avoiding cameras, DVR’s, and other recording devices. They are extremely adept at not leaving one shred of proof that they were ever here and wouldn’t you know it, instead of alighting here on earth and being eager to talk to scientists who would give their right arm to sit down with one of the beings for 15 minutes, these aliens always seem to end up talking to ordinary folk who, we are further told, wouldn’t lie or try and carry out a hoax to save their life.

Now, I should say at the outset that I believe there are intelligent civilizations somewhere out there. I also believe there are space faring beings whose civilizations are so old that they have probably toured the universe at least once.

I am also quite certain that there are many, many more of the former than the latter. So do the folks at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) who have been searching nearby stars in a so far fruitless quest to glean an intelligent signal from a civilization that may also be looking for some company. But their quest is a longshot at best given all the variables that must be met and no one is very optimistic that they will succeed.

The question isn’t whether or not there is intelligent life in the universe. The question is has it ever visited earth. The idea that one necessarily follows the other is absurd. There are many forms of intelligence as we know from just studying the animal world here on earth and it could very well be that other intelligent species either have little interest in what’s beyond their little world or are simply incapable of grasping the complexities of the universe the same way that we do.

Perhaps they aren’t toolmakers. Perhaps their intelligence is of a collective variety and original thought is something rare. There are a thousand reasons an intelligent society would not be reaching out to us and few reasons why they would.

And what about an alien race taking a cosmic jaunt in a spacecraft to visit earth? The question is not how arrogant you think I am for not believing but rather how arrogant you are for thinking there is anything a civilization hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or millions of years more advanced than we would find remotely interesting enough to expend the huge effort it would take to build a ship that could traverse the stars. If nothing else, these advanced aliens would be eminently practical beings and the return on an investment of that size would be so extraordinarily small if they came to places like earth that they would have to be crazy to undertake such folly.

The fact is, all this speculation is, in and of itself, ridiculous. There’s a very good chance, exo-biologists tell us, that we wouldn’t even recognize alien life as being alive. Their thought processes would be so, well, alien that communication would be extraordinarily difficult. Our problem is that our imaginations are limited to our earthbound experiences. We simply can’t picture what a real alien would look like because it is probable that the way life developed on other planets would be radically different than the way it developed on earth.

But what about UFO’s? Clearly, there are unexplained sightings of flying objects tha cry out for investigation. But as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) – a “scientific” group that has lost much of its standing among skeptics in recent years due to its slipshod methods and “UFO’s are alien spacecraft” boosterism – tells us, more than 93% of these sightings are easily explained and credible, earthbound explanations are usually available for those few incidents where proof is scant. If people realized how few of these sightings weren’t hoaxes or meteors, or the planet Venus, the idea that we are being inundated by aliens and that earth is some kind of Grand Central Station for extraterrestrial spacecraft would disappear.

There are many explanations for why there may be space travelling civilizations in the universe but never make it here. The biggest obstacle is time – not just the journey itself but the ticking clock of extinction that faces all species we know of. How long do intelligent civilizations last? How many succeed in not blowing themselves up or poisoning themselves? How many avoid being pulverized by asteroids or comets? There are a million ways for a civilization to die and the law of averages says that precious few would advance far enough and fast enough to be capable of building a ship to the stars before being destroyed.

Another problem with time is that our universe is 13 billion years old and that during that time, millions of civilizations would have risen capable of space travel. But the earth is only 4 billion years old with intelligent life an incredibly recent phenomena. It is a given that only a certain number of space faring civilizations exist at any single point in time so the chances are that relatively few star ships are traversing the universe as I write this. This is assuming that the problem of special relativity effects can be overcome – a given for practical space travel.

This means that in all the tens of billions of galaxies with uncounted numbers of stars, these comparatively few spacecraft would need to 1) Discover that there was intelligent life on earth; 2) Have a reason to travel to the boondocks of our galaxy to see us; and 3) visit us without leaving a single piece of credible evidence of their coming here.

This goes beyond longshot and enters the realm of fantasy.

I would love to believe we are being visited on a daily basis by beings from another world. But common sense and the evidence doesn’t support that theory. Couple that with the quaisi-religious aspect to UFOology – that the aliens will come and save us from ourselves, clean up the planet, get rid of nukes, and bring peace and harmony to mankind – and what you’re left with is a bunch of silly people making equally silly claims that aren’t supported by the facts.

There is as much evidence that UFO’s are from the future or from another dimension or some place of which we are totally unaware as there is evidence that they are from another planet. And that evidence is zero. Until there is credible evidence to the contrary, UFO’s and alien visitation will fall under the rubric of faith and not of science.

By: Rick Moran at 8:11 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)


I suppose if you want to spin Obama’s relationships with radicals like Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and Bernadine Dohrn, you could say that a man shouldn’t be called out for the friends he keeps, that guilt by association has no place in American politics and we should just leave the messiah alone because, after all, he doesn’t share their radical beliefs.

Or does he?

Every time the issue of Obama’s radical associations seems to die down, more revelations come to light that calls into question the founding philosophy of Obama’s “post partisan” politics. And these most recent shockers do not fall into the category of casual associations from the candidate’s past. Instead, information has come to light that shows the likely nominee for president from the Democratic party actually made common cause with radicals – formed political alliances with them to further his career.

Furthermore, it is evident that in return for their support, Obama used his position as state senator and board member for the Woods Foundation to funnel public and private money into the coffers of these radical groups thus cementing a relationship that is still paying dividends for Obama to this day.

The New Party, ACORN, and the Arab American Action Network are not by any stretch of the imagination mainstream political or social organizations. They are radical anti-capitalist, pro-Marxist, and in the case of the AAAN a group supporting the terrorist activities of the Palestinians.

The New Party is an unabashed Marxist “fusion” party from which Barack Obama actively sought out and received an endorsement for his state senate candidacy. Never heard this story before? It’s not surprising Obama wouldn’t include it in his official bio:

Co-founded in 1992 by Daniel Cantor (a former staffer for Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign) and Joel Rogers (a sociology and law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), the New Party was a Marxist political coalition whose objective was to endorse and elect leftist public officials—most often Democrats. The New Party’s short-term objective was to move the Democratic Party leftward, thereby setting the stage for the eventual rise of new Marxist third party.

Most New Party members hailed from the Democratic Socialists of America and the militant organization ACORN. The party’s Chicago chapter also included a large contingent from the Committees of Correspondence, a Marxist coalition of former Maoists, Trotskyists, and Communist Party USA members.

The New Party’s modus operandi included the political strategy of “electoral fusion,” where it would nominate, for various political offices, candidates from other parties (usually Democrats), thereby enabling each of those candidates to occupy more than one ballot line in the voting booth. By so doing, the New Party often was able to influence candidates’ platforms.

Obama enthusiastically approached the Marxists, seeking their help in his senate campaign, This from the NP’s own website:
About 50 activists attended the Chicago New Party membership meeting in July. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on local activities and to hear appeals for NP support from four potential political candidates. The NP is being very active in organization building and politics. There are 300 members in Chicago. In order to build an organizational and financial base the NP is sponsoring house parties. Locally it has been successful both fiscally and in building a grassroots base. Nationwide it has resulted in 1000 people committed to monthly contributions. The NP’s political strategy is to support progressive candidates in elections only if they have a concrete chance to “win”. This has resulted in a winning ratio of 77 of 110 elections. Candidates must be approved via a NP political committee. Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP. The contract mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP.

The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia’s District; and Barack Obama, chief of staff for State Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama is running for Palmer’s vacant seat.

Into this blatantly radical organization, Obama placed his political fortunes. It paid off handsomely. This also from the NP’s website:
The NP’s ‘96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude.


Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration…

Just what was this support worth? According to Stanley Kurtz’s article in NRO yesterday, Obama was able to use ACORN volunteers for his campaign – volunteers almost certainly procured through the good auspices of the Marxist New Party:
At least a few news reports have briefly mentioned Obama’s role in training Acorn’s leaders, but none that I know of have said what Foulkes reports next: that Obama’s long service with Acorn led many members to serve as the volunteer shock troops of Obama’s early political campaigns — his initial 1996 State Senate campaign, and his failed bid for Congress in 2000 (Foulkes confuses the dates of these two campaigns.) With Obama having personally helped train a new cadre of Chicago Acorn leaders, by the time of Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama and Acorn were “old friends,” says Foulkes.

So along with the reservoir of political support that came to Obama through his close ties with Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, and other Chicago black churches, Chicago Acorn appears to have played a major role in Obama’s political advance. Sure enough, a bit of digging into Obama’s years in the Illinois State Senate indicates strong concern with Acorn’s signature issues, as well as meetings with Acorn and the introduction by Obama of Acorn-friendly legislation on the living wage and banking practices. You begin to wonder whether, in his Springfield days, Obama might have best been characterized as “the Senator from Acorn.”

It would seem that the “New Party” may very well have been the political action arm of the “non-partisan” ACORN if Obama was able to secure the political shock troops for his state senate campaign from their ranks.

This, my friends, is not “guilt by association.” The probable next president of the United States actively sought the support and made an alliance with a dyed in the wool, unashamed, unabashed Marxist group dedicated, among other things, to bringing down the capitalist system in America.

Does this make Obama a communist? Absolutely not. But it reveals a radical streak in his politics that cannot be overlooked. One must either posit he is the most cynical of political opportunists or he agrees with at least some of what the New Party stands for.

If Obama were to claim that he eschews New Party ideology, how can he explain his long, close association with ACORN? I quoted earlier from Stanley Kurtz’s eye opening NRO article on Obama being the “Senator from ACORN.” Kurtz explains ACORN’s radical ideology:

Sol Stern explains that Acorn is the key modern successor of the radical 1960’s “New Left,” with a “1960’s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism” to match. Acorn, says Stern, grew out of “one of the New Left’s silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization.” In the 1960’s, NWRO launched a campaign of sit-ins and disruptions at welfare offices. The goal was to remove eligibility restrictions, and thus effectively flood welfare rolls with so many clients that the system would burst. The theory, explains Stern, was that an impossibly overburdened welfare system would force “a radical reconstruction of America’s unjust capitalist economy.” Instead of a socialist utopia, however, we got the culture of dependency and family breakdown that ate away at America’s inner cities — until welfare reform began to turn the tide.

While Acorn holds to NWRO’s radical economic framework and its confrontational 1960’s-style tactics, the targets and strategy have changed. Acorn prefers to fly under the national radar, organizing locally in liberal urban areas — where, Stern observes, local legislators and reporters are often “slow to grasp how radical Acorn’s positions really are.” Acorn’s new goals are municipal “living wage” laws targeting “big-box” stores like Wal-Mart, rolling back welfare reform, and regulating banks — efforts styled as combating “predatory lending.” Unfortunately, instead of helping workers, Acorn’s living-wage campaigns drive businesses out of the very neighborhoods where jobs are needed most. Acorn’s opposition to welfare reform only threatens to worsen the self-reinforcing cycle of urban poverty and family breakdown. Perhaps most mischievously, says Stern, Acorn uses banking regulations to pressure financial institutions into massive “donations” that it uses to finance supposedly non-partisan voter turn-out drives.

According to Stern, Acorn’s radical agenda sometimes shifts toward “undisguised authoritarian socialism.” Fully aware of its living-wage campaign’s tendency to drive businesses out of cities, Acorn hopes to force companies that want to move to obtain “exit visas.” “How much longer before Acorn calls for exit visas for wealthy or middle-class individuals before they can leave a city?” asks Stern, adding, “This is the road to serfdom indeed.”

It is inexplicable how this group operates so freely in places like Chicago. They are about as non-partisan as a Baath party convention in that if they have ever supported a Republican for anything, it was probably an accident. The bureaucrats whose job it is to see that the law is followed by groups like ACORN are intimidated by their tactics as well as how much stink they could raise with local politicians. Ergo, they skate.

Just what did the potential next president of the United States do for these thugs? He trained their leadership cadres in organizing techniques. Also, through his position as a board member of the Woods Foundation, Obama funnelled money to his friends on a regular basis:

Although it’s been noted in an important story by John Fund, and in a long Obama background piece in the New York Times, more attention needs to be paid to possible links between Obama and Acorn during the period of Obama’s service on the boards of two charitable foundations, the Woods Fund and the Joyce Foundation.

According to the New York Times, Obama’s memberships on those foundation boards, “allowed him to help direct tens of millions of dollars in grants” to various liberal organizations, including Chicago Acorn, “whose endorsement Obama sought and won in his State Senate race.” As best as I can tell (and this needs to be checked out more fully), Acorn maintains both political and “non-partisan” arms. Obama not only sought and received the endorsement of Acorn’s political arm in his local campaigns, he recently accepted Acorn’s endorsement for the presidency, in pursuit of which he reminded Acorn officials of his long-standing ties to the group.

Supposedly, Acorn’s political arm is segregated from its “non-partisan” registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, but after reading Foulkes’ case study, this non-partisanship is exceedingly difficult to discern. As I understand, it would be illegal for Obama to sit on a foundation board and direct money to an organization that openly served as his key get-out-the-vote volunteers on Election Day. I’m not saying Obama crossed a legal line here: Based on Foulkes’ account, Acorn’s get-out-the-vote drive most likely observed the technicalities of “non-partisanship.”

Nevertheless, the possibilities suggested by a combined reading of the New York Times piece and the Foulkes article are disturbing. While keeping within the technicalities of the law, Obama may have been able to direct substantial foundation money to his organized political supporters. I offer no settled conclusion, but the matter certainly warrants further investigation and discussion. Obama is supposed to be the man who transcends partisanship. Has he instead used his post at an allegedly non-partisan foundation to direct money to a supposedly non-partisan group, in pursuit of what are in fact nakedly partisan and personal ends? I have no final answer, but the question needs to be pursued further.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of us who have watched Obama preach about the “new politics” and his idea of post-partisan governing while playing the same old games with the Chicago political machine that any hack alderman plays to get ahead. It is absolutely shameless and he gets away with it because the press corps is, frankly, lazy. You don’t have to dig very deeply to find this stuff. It’s all over the internet.

Is it relevant to the campaign? Let’s ask the American people if they think it is “relevant” that a candidate for president made a political alliance with Marxists? Let’s ask the voter if they think it “relevant” that a future president carried on a close relationship for many years with an organization with a horrible reputation for vote fraud as well as promoting an agenda so at odds with what America is all about that the candidate feels it necessary to hide his activities on behalf of the group. I daresay the voters would have a much different answer about “relevancy” as those in the press who turn up their nose at these revelations.

It has been the game plan of the radical left for 40 years to worm their way into power by obscuring their true agenda of socialism, isolationism, and multi-cultural dogma with platitudes and nebulous concepts like “change” and “hope.” The trick is to sound as inoffensive and “safe” as possible without arousing suspicions of their true intent.

Does this mean that Obama is a stalking horse for the radical left and that once in office we will see his true colors? I doubt it. More likely, Obama has used the radicals as he uses the corrupt Chicago Machine; if they can help him advance his career, so be it. He will make these deals with the devil because perhaps he believes he is above the sort of quid pro quo politics that ordinary politicians are beholden to. But if he is elected, what’s the payoff for these people? They are going to want something for their support you can be sure of that. Just what is Obama prepared to give them?

I don’t think there’s any doubt now that Obama has spent a good part of his political career dabbling in radical leftist politics. When did he change his mind and come back to the mainstream? It appears his candidacy for the US Senate convinced him he could get farther without the radicals as he could with them. It is there that he dropped associations with Woods Foundation, ACORN, and probably said goodbye to Ayers, Dohrn and that other radical friend, Rashid Khalidi whose wife’s Arab American Action Network received $70,000 in grants from Woods.

Obama can’t run from his past. And maybe its time the press held his fee to the fire and demanded an explanation for these alliances and associations.

By: Rick Moran at 4:15 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (31)


There are days that I really hate politics – days when my cynicism and contempt for the politicians, the process, the whole bloody, unholy mess of spin meisters, pundits, press, bloggers, and commentators from all sides of the ideological spectrum make me want to chuck it all and write about sports, or gardening, or cats.

Readers of this site know that this too, shall pass; that tomorrow or the next day or day after that, I will resume my role as cantankerous curmudgeon railing against the left, the right, and the squishes in the middle as if this feeling of utter, depthless depression about the state of the nation never existed.

Part of it is, I’m sure, the coming slaughter of conservatives at the polls in November. The ignorant, smug, self-righteous liberals who visit this site (as opposed to most lefty visitors who are thoughtful and eager to engage in dialogue) who keep telling me to “get used to it” haven’t a clue themselves what is about to transpire with this coming election.

We are about to hand the presidency to the most ill-equipped, shallow, unschooled, and naive candidate in American history. Less than 4 years ago, Barack Obama was an obscure Illinois state senator with a paper thin record of accomplishment and a work history that included organizing inner city residents by bringing their resentments against white America to the surface thus motivating them to vote and put pressure on city hall.

If one asks the question how he rose so quickly to the heights he finds himself now, all you have to do is look at his sponsors in the Chicago political machine; state senate Majority leader Emil Jones (who helped pad his non-existent resume by putting his name as a sponsor on bills he never worked to pass), the as yet unfleshed out Tony Rezko connections to the operators and moneymen who were invaluable in his 2004 senate run, and Mayor Daley himself whose brother Bill, former cabinet official in Clinton’s administration and the man who ran the Gore 2000 campaign, an unpaid consultant to the Obama campaign who possesses one of the most valuable Rolodex in the Democratic party.

And let’s not forget the man who has brilliantly packaged the Obama message of “change” and “hope” by obscuring the candidate’s unabashed liberalism with enough amorphous, non-ideological platitudes to pave the road to heaven twice over. David Axelrod has many gifts. But perhaps his most valuable contribution to the Obama campaign has been in message discipline. Never before has a liberal Democrat stayed on point through appearance after appearance, debate after debate, talk show after talk show.

And, of course, the candidate’s own numerous political gifts have rounded out a campaign that looks unbeatable at this point.

Given all of this, just how bad (or good) would an Obama presidency be?

I have written previously how this election reminds me of 1980’s debacle for the Democrats. And while I still think this is true, there is a major difference between then and now; Democrats today are much less united (outside of the Iraq War) on what needs to be done to “fix” things than Republicans were a generation ago. Back then, the mantra of “lower taxes, less regulation, higher defense spending” was an easy sell and GOP candidates from top to bottom embraced the themes that Reagan hammered home day after day on the campaign trail.

But the left today is not in as much agreement as to what needs to be done although the outlines of some programs will see broad acceptance among Democrats on Capitol Hill. There will no doubt be a primal thrust at the beginning of an Obama administration for some kind of national health insurance. All depends on whether Obama insists on his own plan (that does not include mandated participation) or whether he breaks down and realizes there is nothing “national” about what he is proposing unless people are forced to sign up and pay into the insurance fund.

Some of the more entertaining moments during the debate occurred when watching Hillary criticize Obama’s plan for not covering all Americans while twisting and dodging about the draconian mandates contained in her own plan that would force Americans to buy health insurance – even if they don’t want it. And if they don’t buy it, enforcement provisions will almost certainly involve the IRS. What other government agency is set up to do it?

Will Americans feel the same about national health insurance once they realize what it means – what it really means – as far as forcing citizens at the point of the IRS gun to pay up or suffer the consequences? We’re an independent minded citizenry and don’t like to be told what to do but my guess is we will meekly submit to this massive intrusion of our liberties because citizens are convinced only the government can act to supply them with competitive insurance rates. Regardless of whether that’s true or not it doesn’t matter. We’re going to have national health insurance by the time the cherry blossoms are blooming in the tidal basin next year.

On the surface, it appears that Democrats are united in their desire to end the Iraq War. However, here too, you have a wide range of options being pushed forward by Democrats that almost certainly guarantees there will be token withdrawals of troops from Iraq and little more.

Unless a President Obama is willing to fire Gen. Raymond Odierno (who will be top commander in Iraq this time next year), CENTCOM commander Petreaus, and a host of lesser lights and replace them with generals who will tell him what he wants to hear on Iraq (don’t put this past Obama – Bush did it, why not him?), it is likely we will have virtually the same number of troops doing pretty much what they are doing now in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Obama’s on again-off again advisor Samantha Power said the same thing and common sense alone makes Obama’s “plan” to reduce troops by a brigade a month little more than a pipe dream.

The reason Obama will give – Bush screwed things up so bad that the troops are needed to prevent catastrophe – will be close to the truth so all but the Dennis Kucinich wing of the party will probably cut him some slack.

The real test of Obama’s leadership will come when dealing with the economy. Whether we are in an official recession won’t matter as much as the fact that economic activity will almost certainly be sluggish with most vital sectors experiencing slow or no growth. There will also no doubt be considerable slack in the labor market as well. The question is will the Democrats and Obama take actions that will help spur growth or will they give into their worst impulses and raise taxes, gut NAFTA, and take other actions that might exacerbate the situation?

I have zero confidence that anything the Democrats propose will make the situation better. Overall, the Democrats are unfriendly to the idea of a globalized economy and given the opportunity (or forced into it by their masters in the labor unions), they will find a way to throw a monkey wrench into free trade agreements while perhaps making it illegal to “outsource” goods and services to other countries. This will force other nations to react to what we are doing and the entire edifice of global trade will be threatened.

This will almost certainly mean slower growth and more difficulty in getting the economy back on track. Of course, the blame will successfully be placed at the feet of Bush and the Republicans where some of it belongs but without the inconvenience of having to own up to policies that have actually made the situation worse.

As far as foreign policy, I am actually less nervous about Obama than I was a few months ago. The reason is I don’t think Obama as president will emphasize foreign policy the first few years of his presidency but rather keep his nose to the domestic grindstone. Allowing things to float at this point – with the exception of Iraq and Afghanistan – wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen. The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will go nowhere as will negotiations with Syria. Pakistan is already a lost cause. Russia will continue to be a thorn in our side as will China but there might be areas – nuclear nonproliferation – that would benefit all countries and where Obama might actually do some good.

The Iranian situation will resolve itself with or without President Obama’s help. If he actively tries to prevent Israel from removing what they believe is an existential threat, his presidency will be over. And since the US is going to get blamed for anything Israel does anyway, my guess is he will tacitly support any Israeli action against the Iranian nuclear program.

Would he attack Iran? Despite his bellicose comments about not allowing the Iranians to develop nuclear weapons, since there will likely be no evidence that the Iranians are constructing nukes, it is extremely unlikely that a President Obama would greenlight any attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel, of course, doesn’t have that luxury and once it is clear that Iran could enrich uranium on an industrial scale to the 85-90% level, all bets are off and US support or no, they will hit the Iranians with everything they’ve got.

Admittedly, the fallout from such an attack could be extremely serious. But Syria won’t commit suicide for their Iranian allies by starting a war they can’t win and Iran’s military is something of a joke – outside of some rockets that could hit Israeli cities with conventional explosives. The fact is, for all their bluster, Syria and Iran can’t do much damage to the Israelis and they know it.

Diplomatically, it might be a different story. It would almost certainly cause the Arab street to explode – Jews attacking Muslims – and it would almost certainly cool relations between us and our “moderate” Arab allies. But as I’ve mentioned previously, the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia aren’t looking to expand their own “peaceful” nuclear programs because they need power plants. They fear Iran and any action taken by anyone – even the Israelis – to remove the nuclear threat will be greeted by outrage on the outside but relief behind the scenes.

How Obama manages all of this – and I fear it is a virtual certainty he will have to face it – will test both the man and his presidency. Is he up to the challenge? I am of the school of history that believes great leaders are sometimes born but more often rise to the occasion having given little indication they were up to managing great happenings. Think Lincoln. But also think James Buchanan who sat paralyzed in the White House while state after state seceded from the union. Buchanan had great experience in government having served two terms as a senator and 4 years as Secretary of State. But all that experience went for naught when he froze during the greatest crisis the union ever faced.

The next 4 years will see the US tested as perhaps it hasn’t been since the end of World War II. Our alliances, our security, our leadership in the world – all will present enormous problems for the next Commander in Chief. Couple that with a moribund economy and a restless citizenry searching for a unity of purpose and you have perhaps the most daunting challenges a new chief executive will have faced at least since Reagan and possibly since FDR.

I know one thing. Obama will be the only president we have. Doing everything we can to support him – at least as far as our consciences allow – could make the difference between success and failure.

By: Rick Moran at 7:25 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (30) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Obama weighing visit to Iraq this summer...

The following is the first in a series of blog posts on “What Ails Conservatism.” It is inspired by George Packer’s brilliant New Yorker essay where he traced “The Fall of Conservatism” from its initial electoral successes under Nixon to what most observers believe is its collapse under George Bush.

This first part is a critique of Packer’s essay by other conservatives as well as some of my own thoughts regarding one of Packer’s major themes – namely, that conservatism’s electoral success has been built on the politics of resentment and polarization.


Believing that we can roll back the size of government and make it “small” is a pipe dream and, along with the idea that we can demand government do a million things and not raise the taxes to pay for them as well as ask government to protect us from impersonal corporations who seek to destroy competition, exploit workers, endanger our environment, foist their dangerous products on us, and generally wreak havoc on our lives and families without someone looking over their shoulder is absurd.

The idea that the market will fix dangerous working conditions for miners or force companies to end exploitive work rules and policies in service industries is just not tenable in a 21st century industrialized democracy. Neither will the market clean up toxic waste, sensibly protect the environment, establish minimum standards for drinking water and breathable air, or ensure that some of the remaining green places left in the United States can be enjoyed by our grandchildren.

These are not luxuries that we can afford to privatize or do without. They are as vital to our survival as the new Air Force fighter being developed. The question that should occupy conservatives is not whether we should have strict standards for drinking water but rather how do we reconcile conservative principles with the needs of the people in a modern society?
(Rick Moran, 10/23/07)

According to Buchanan, who was the White House communications director in Reagan’s second term, the President once told his barber, Milton Pitts, “You know, Milt, I came here to do five things, and four out of five ain’t bad.” He had succeeded in lowering taxes, raising morale, increasing defense spending, and facing down the Soviet Union; but he had failed to limit the size of government, which, besides anti-Communism, was the abiding passion of Reagan’s political career and of the conservative movement. He didn’t come close to achieving it and didn’t try very hard, recognizing early that the public would be happy to have its taxes cut as long as its programs weren’t touched. And Reagan was a poor steward of the unglamorous but necessary operations of the state. Wilentz notes that he presided over a period of corruption and favoritism, encouraging hostility toward government agencies and “a general disregard for oversight safeguards as among the evils of ‘big government.’ ” In this, and in a notorious attempt to expand executive power outside the Constitution—the Iran-Contra affair—Reagan’s Presidency presaged that of George W. Bush.

After Reagan and the end of the Cold War, conservatism lost the ties that had bound together its disparate factions—libertarians, evangelicals, neoconservatives, Wall Street, working-class traditionalists. Without the Gipper and the Evil Empire, what was the organizing principle? In 1994, the conservative journalist David Frum surveyed the landscape and published a book called “Dead Right.” Reagan, he wrote, had offered his “Morning in America” vision, and the public had rewarded him enormously, but in failing to reduce government he had allowed the welfare state to continue infantilizing the public, weakening its moral fibre. That November, Republicans swept to power in Congress and imagined that they had been deputized by the voters to distill conservatism into its purest essence. Newt Gingrich declared, “On those things which are at the core of our philosophy and on those things where we believe we represent the vast majority of Americans, there will be no compromise.” Instead of just limiting government, the Gingrich revolutionaries set out to disable it. Although the legislative reins were in their hands, these Republicans could find no governmental projects to organize their energy around. David Brooks said, “The only thing that held the coalition together was hostility to government.”
(George Packer, 5/20/08)

The election of 1948 was turning into a nightmare for Democrats. Their convention saw a Southern walkout against a liberal civil rights plank pushed through by the young, energetic mayor of Minneapolis Hubert Humphrey (“[T]he time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadows of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”)

Meanwhile, on his left flank, President Truman had to deal with one of the more prickly personalities of 20th century politics in Henry Wallace. The former Vice President under FDR was an unreconstructed socialist who was unhappy with Truman’s lack of committment to the more liberal domestic ideas being pushed by Wallace’s enthusiastic followers and decided to run for president himself on the Progressive Party ticket.

Faced with a three way split of his own party, Truman decided to not only make the Republican Congress (a majority achieved in 1946) the issue but also build resentment against the “barons of privilege” represented, he said, by his opponent New York Governor Thomas Dewey.

It was not the first time the Democrats used class warfare as a wedge issue to divide the electorate and appeal to a coalition first constructed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. It was “us” (ordinary Americans) versus “them” (the GOP “establishment”) and despite the divisions in the party, the old coalition held and Truman was elected by a comfortable margin. Using highly personal attacks on Dewey and the Republicans, Truman earned the nickname “Give ‘em hell, Harry.” The president gave the Republicans “hell” and then some, tying their “do nothing” Congress to the idea that they were out of touch with what ordinary Americans needed, that they were elitist, rich snobs, born to privilege and lacking in compassion.

I use this example from 1948 to try and illustrate some facts that Mr. Packer left out of his critique of conservatism’s electoral success. In fact, Packer writes his brilliant essay as if the entire modern history of conservatism and the GOP took place in a vacuum; that much of the strategy and many of the ideas that resulted in conservative victories at the polls were not a reaction to what the Democrats had been doing to the GOP in electoral politics for the previous 40 years encompassing their most successful period in history.

I suppose in a piece dedicated to chronicling the fall of conservatism that such details regarding the way both parties use voters’ resentments to win elections are unnecessary since Packer was looking exclusively at conservatism. But the explanation he seems to be offering as to why the GOP “Southern Strategy” and “Positive Polarization” became buzzwords posits the notion that these are concepts that have “helped the Republicans win one election after another—and insured that American politics would be an ugly, unredeemed business for decades to come.”

I’ve got news for Mr. Packer; American politics has always been an “ugly, unredeemed business.” To actually believe that the politics of fear, of division, or deliberately appealing to racial differences and divisions is something invented by Nixon and the Republicans is absurd.

In fact, I could argue that politics today is cleaner, more uplifting, less personal than the battle royales of elections past. Examine some of the post Civil War elections during the Gilded Age and you will find not only outright lies being circulated in newspapers owned by both parties but rank appeals to racism, a nauseating, virulent strain of populism that threatened violence against the middle class, and a frank discussion of the inferiorities found in various immigrant groups. And always, lurking in the background of the anti-immigrant message was the eternal Jew and his “control” of banks and money lending.

In the end, Packer’s omissions about the origins of today’s politics skew his entire narrative toward a view I found shockingly common among left wing analyses of his essay; that these tactics are unique to the right and that because they are employed by conservatives that they represent a strain on the right that will do “anything” to elect their candidates. Or what one armchair psychologist referred to as “an essentially nihilist politics of vicious opportunism, where the entire goal is power for its own sake.” Considering how much conservatism has altered the landscape in America, “for its own sake” rings hollow indeed. The road to power is always run with a mixed bag of good intentions and self-aggrandizement. It’s what gives politics its charm and attracts not only the wide eyed reformers but the gimlet eyed operators.

Conservatives plead guilty to doing anything necessary to win – as should those who deliberately tell seniors that Republicans want to take away their social security checks or run commercials in African American communities hinting that the GOP wants to reimpose Jim Crow. Doing “anything” to win is what elections are all about – have always been about in America.

Should there be a better way? Of course. But no one – not even the New Messiah – has ever run a campaign that doesn’t try and raise the temperature of the voter by bringing their resentments and fears to the surface so they can be flogged until the voter is sufficiently motivated to vote against one candidate and not for another.

But this is really just a symptom of what ails conservatism according to Packer. He’s dead right. And so much of what the author identifies as signposts on the way down for the right is so true that one can make no argument about his diagnoses: that modern conservatism is basically a negative ideology in that through its hostility to government – all government – its draconian social strictures (most notably against abortion and gay marriage), its hyper partisanship, and its encouraging the belief that liberals are immoral, unpatriotic, anti-Americans, conservatism’s claim to governance has run its course and the American people are ready for a change.

Packer is not saying anything new in his essay. Indeed, he quotes from several recent books (Packer did not quote from Without a Conscience, John Dean’s lengthy tome purporting to show the right is in love with authoritarianism and dictatorship perhaps because serious problems have been found with the methodology used by the authors of the study on which the book is based.) written by serious historians who themselves aggregate many of the concepts about the fall of the right gleaned from other sources. Packer’s brilliance – as with all great writers – lies in the way he organizes the material and intersperses personal anecdotes taken from interviews done with both old and new conservatives.

Conservative reaction to Packer’s piece has been off the mark and generally feeble. James Joyner is the only one on the right I’ve seen who has made an effort to analyze Packer’s piece in depth. Most have sniped at Packer by tearing a small piece away from the whole and calling him out for one sin or another while missing the overall.

Michael Goldfarb:

Pronouncing the death of political movements is a facile thing, especially when one appears as down in the mouth as conservatism appears at this moment. But in truth, it’s not conservatism that’s down in the mouth, but the politicians and the party that conservatives entrusted to carry out conservative principles that are in peril.

Much of Packer’s article focuses on political tactics and strategy, particularly the uniquely craven ones devised and implemented by Richard Nixon and a young Pat Buchanan. What Packer never completely acknowledges is that politics is supposed to be only the means, not the ends. One of the reasons so many nostalgic conservatives tiresomely invoke Ronald Reagan is that Reagan often seems like the last successful Republican politician to fully personify that standard. Not only did Reagan come to office with a full set of conservative principles to guide him, he only sought office because his passion for those principles compelled him to do so.

I think Goldfarb is making Packer’s point perfectly while not seeing the nose in front of his face. Yes it is conservative ideology that has fallen – and for exactly the reason Goldfarb inadvertently gives; its ideas were fresh 30 years ago when Ronald Reagan ran for president but stale as 3 week old bread today.


The fact that the least conservative, least divisive Republican in the 2008 race is the last one standing—despite being despised by significant voices on the right—shows how little life is left in the movement that Goldwater began, Nixon brought into power, Ronald Reagan gave mass appeal, Newt Gingrich radicalized, Tom DeLay criminalized, and Bush allowed to break into pieces. “The fact that there was no conventional, establishment, old-style conservative candidate was not an accident,” Brooks said. “Mitt Romney pretended to be one for a while, but he wasn’t. Rudy Giuliani sort of pretended, but he wasn’t. McCain is certainly not. It’s not only a lack of political talent—there’s just no driving force, and it will soften up normal Republicans for change.”

On May 6th, Newt Gingrich posted a message, “My Plea to Republicans: It’s Time for Real Change to Avoid Real Disaster,” on the Web site of the conservative magazine Human Events. The former House Speaker warned, “The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti-Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins) anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail.” Gingrich offered nine suggestions for restoring the Republican “brand”—among them “Overhaul the census and cut its budget radically” and “Implement a space-based, G.P.S.-style air-traffic control system”—which read like a wonkish parody of the Contract with America. By the next morning, the post had received almost three hundred comments, almost all predicting a long Republican winter.

Yuval Levin, a former Bush White House official, who is now a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, agrees with Gingrich’s diagnosis. There’s an intellectual fatigue, even if it hasn’t yet been made clear by defeat at the polls,” he said. “The conservative idea factory is not producing as it did. You hear it from everybody, but nobody agrees what to do about it.”

Pat Buchanan was less polite, paraphrasing the social critic Eric Hoffer: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

And in this piece I did for PJ Media on ridding the conservative movement of Reagan’s ghost, I make the argument that the only way for the right to move forward is to move on:
The Democrats faced a similar dilemma back in the 1960’s and 70’s with the haunting presence of Franklin Roosevelt hanging over the party. The perceived commitment of FDR to the less fortunate among us allowed the Democrats to invoke his name while opening the floodgates of government spending on social programs. The debate back then was not whether a program for the poor should be passed, but rather how much we should be spending to fund it. And the party continued that kind of suicidal rhetoric well into the 1980’s until the Reagan revolution squelched it for good.

Might the Republicans be in similar danger with their reliance on the Reagan legacy to win elections and run the government? The Reagan leadership personae has moved from fond memory into the realms of myth and legend. This makes us forget certain inconvenient truths about those years such as huge deficits and the leadership failures brought to light in the Iran-Contra imbroglio. There is much good to take away from that time. But how much of the good can be transported to the present and grafted on to the current Republican party and the ideological movement that is conservatism?

Reagan stands a silent sentinel over the modern GOP, still evoking powerful emotions and loyalty among conservatives. Perhaps it is time to carefully place his legacy and memory in our national treasure chest, taking them out on occasion to examine them for the lessons we can learn rather than pushing that legacy front and center in a futile attempt to recapture the power and the glory of days long gone and a time that will never come again.

Indeed, it may be that all of us – Packer included – are confusing the GOP with conservatism. Michelle Malkin and others make that point. Packer responds in a follow up article by saying:
Here are a few conservative replies to my article “The Fall of Conservatism,” by Yuval Levin, Michelle Malkin, the editors of the New York Sun, and Andrew Sullivan. The first three defend conservatism from the charge of being “brain dead” by pointing, basically, at themselves or people like them, and adding that liberalism isn’t exactly throbbing with vitality these days. Readers can decide whether Malkin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh,, and Senator Lieberman are indicators of a movement on the rise. All three responses have the air of protesting too much; they remind me of the mocking self-satisfaction of liberals when the water was rising around them in the late nineteen-seventies and early eighties.

And the New York Sun responds to Packer by basically saying conservatives don’t need new ideas, the old ones are just fine thanks:
What the New Yorker calls a lack of “fresh thinking” may be a surfeit of abiding principles and enduring ideas. The Bible is thousands of years old. The capitalism of Adam Smith is hundreds of years old. Freedom is as universal and God-given a right today as it was when it was set forth in the Declaration of Independence. What matters is less whether the ideas are “fresh” than whether they are correct. And the latest panic of beltway Republicans or New Yorker writers notwithstanding, the view from these columns is that the death of conservatism has been greatly exaggerated.

I will say this to all my friends on the right; the point is not whether conservative principles are in need of overhauling. Capitalism, freedom, belief in a just God, even American exceptionalism don’t need to be tossed out or given a scrub and repackaged with some kind of snappy jingle to accompany them. These principles are timeless, have born the test of time and cannot be abridged or destroyed because of some temporary electoral setbacks.

It is not Packer who is confused. It is all those who talk about the conservative movement and confuse it with the philosophy of conservatism who are in need of being straightened out. Sean Hannity is not conservatism. Ann Coulter is certainly not conservatism. They use conservatism as a slot machine – put in a few raggedy ideas, pump the handle, and out pours a book or two that sells well, gets the author notoriety, and creates legions of worshipful fans who salivate at the opportunity to buy the next book.

In fact, a big part of the problem is that the Coulters dominate the movement while the principles espoused by people like Buckley, Kirk, and Kristol end up being ignored. I put it thusly a few months ago:

The disconnect I speak of above arises from the cage that Republican candidates have been placed in by the various factions of conservatism that makes them slaves to an agenda that is out of date, out of touch, and after 2008, there’s a good chance that it will lead to Republicans being out of luck.

Breaking out of that cage will be difficult unless the party continues to lose at the polls. And part of that breaking free will be making the Reagan legacy a part of history and not a part of contemporary Republican orthodoxy. The world that Reagan helped remake is radically different than the one we inhabit today and yet, GOP candidates insist on invoking his name as if it is a talisman to be stroked and fondled, hoping that the magic will rub off on them. Reagan is gone and so is the world where his ideas resonated so strongly with the voters.

But Reagan’s principles remain with us. Free markets, free nations, and free men is just as powerful a tocsin today as it was a quarter century ago. The challenge is to remake a party and the conservative movement into a vessel by which new ideas about governing a 21st century industrialized democracy can be debated, adopted, and enacted. Without abandoning our core beliefs while redefining or perhaps re-imagining what those beliefs represent as a practical matter, conservatism could recharge itself and define a new relationship between the governed and the government.

But before reform comes the fall. And even if, as Yglesias believes is possible, the party and the movement are able to limp along for a few years with a cobbled together coalition, eventually the piper must be paid and the wages earned. It won’t be a quick or easy process. But it will happen nonetheless. And out of the bitterness and recriminations will emerge a different Republican party, animated by conservative principles and true to a legacy that has as its foundation a belief in individual liberty and personal responsibility.

Packer’s analysis of what ails conservatism is generally correct. And it is troubling to see so many front line conservatives either dismiss what he has to say or ignore it altogether.

To my mind, we are at exactly the point that the left was in 1980 – one reason this election is beginning to stink like a landslide for the Democrats all around. We are mostly running on the past without a clue about how to address the concerns of voters today. Where liberals were still evoking FDR in the 1980 election we are still praying for a Reagan to save us. Where liberals still believed they could propose massive new government spending programs back in 1980 (much less than the modest $800 billion over 5 years asked by Obama) conservatives today believe that we can continue to get by without addressing health insurance, wage inequality, inequitable trade agreements, and yes, climate change.

We are the dinosaur watching the comet streak toward the surface of the earth without a clue as to what is about to hit us. How we deal with the coming cataclysm will determine how long we spend wandering in a blighted wilderness.

Next on 5/31: Russ Kirk and I go to war.

By: Rick Moran at 4:36 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (34)

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CATEGORY: Science, Space

                                 NASA’s Mars Phoenix Lander

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration may have had to endure some justifiable criticism for its shortsighted and unimaginative manned space exploration program. But when it comes to its unmanned planetary exploration achievements, the scientists and engineers at JPL and their affiliate programs at universities and other space agencies around the world can still “Wow!” us all every once and awhile.

The Phoenix Mars Lander successfully touched down in the north Polar region of Mars at 6:53 central time today as scientists and engineers at JPL and the University of Arizona cheered the culmination of ten years of enormously stressful work. The spacecraft landed after a harrowing re-entry where a 60 feet per second nose dive is cut by two thirds less than 300 feet above the surface of the red planet by 6 small rocket thrusters.

The last Mars lander to try this trick – the Mars Polar Lander – didn’t make it and plowed ignominiously into the surface. The descent engines cut off too quickly when a sensor in the landing bag was jarred loose and mistakenly told the rockets they had already landed.

Phoenix was put through the wringer with as many tests as the engineers could think of throwing at her. In the end, the ship proved herself tough enough and the landing couldn’t have gone better.

Now comes the fun part. The Phoenix is not a rover so it won’t be wandering around looking for interesting things to examine. The Phoenix is a stationary scientific lab encompassing several disciplines including chemistry, biology, and geology. Having made a jaw droopingly accurate landing (like aiming an arrow from the pitcher’s mound at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and hitting home plate at Wrigley Field in Chicago was the way it was described on the Science channel), Phoenix is positioned to do a little digging into what we think is the tundra region of Mars.

It may be too much to ask of luck that we have landed within reach of some Martian snow. If so, call it Jackpot and celebrate our good fortune. More likely, we’ll have to find some moisture in the form of frost or permafrost below the surface. The experiments on board the lander are incredibly sophisticated. While searching for life is not the primary concern (past life on Mars is considered much more probable) the hard, permafrost will be ground down by a special tool attached to a scoop on the robotic arm. The loose material will be heated and a very sensitive gas spectrometer will determine the chemical makeup. In addition, a small but very powerful microscope will examine the contents for micro-fossils and other information.

Phoenix will not last long in the super cold. Within a few months, she will be covered in carbon dioxide ice and stop working. But as long as she is sending pictures back with her stereoscopic camera, the view should be awesome.

So credit where credit is due – to the engineers and scientists at NASA who once again have shown the remarkable reach of the human spirit and its ability to overcome almost any obstacle to satisfy our thirst for knowledge.


Rand Simberg drolly observers “The Cosmic Ghouls Missed One” referring to several Russian and American planetary missions that have come a cropper in one bizarre way or another. The Russians especially have been plagued with bad luck on their Mars landers. Just goes to show how far we are from being able to hurl ourselves out into the void and not ask for volunteers for a suicide mission.

Bob Zubrin’s infectous enthusiasm aside, we ain’t going any time soon so you can cancel your reservation at the Mars Hilton. Until we can figure out how to bring live human beings back from Mars and not dead or half dead boneless (long term space exploration may take up tp 80% of our bone minerals making them as sturdy as balsa wood), heartless (perhaps 80% of the heart muscle gone), kidneyless (ditto kidneys), and God knows what the psychological problems of living and working with 5 or 6 other humans for 3 + years in an extraordinarily small workspace/habitat – until the problem of living without gravity or creating artificial gravity can be overcome, we are stuck here.

So pass the popcorn. Watching from a distance is the best we can hope for – at least in my lifetime.

By: Rick Moran at 7:54 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

CATEGORY: Blogging

I am taking it easy this weekend – relatively speaking – and preparing for a series of posts on “What Ails Conservatism?”

Those readers who have followed this blog for a while know of my interest in this subject. I have posts going all the way back to 2005 talking about the coming conservative collapse and was at a loss at what to do about it. But each time I wrote about the state of conservatism, things crystallized in my mind about not just the diagnosis but also other tangents relating to the problem so that now, I feel energized enough to spend a considerable amount of time and thought in explaining my thinking.

The energy comes from George Packer’s New Yorker essay on the “Fall of Conservatism” which is still echoing around the blogs. In fact, it was this laughably shallow piece at Firedoglake that got me thinking about writing a series of blog posts on Packer’s thesis. I thought I could do a much better job than this fellow if only because 1) my vocabulary allows me to get through an entire post without once using the word “f*ck; and 2) I am not a half-crazed, obscenity spewing, ignoramus who missed the point of Packer’s essay and substituted a thesis of dubious logic and intellectually incoherent arm chair psychology for reasoned analysis.

I happen to agree with much of what Packer said in his piece which I didn’t get to read in its entirety until this morning. Alas, that’s one of the things I miss now that I am actually working as a writer/editor. I barely have enough time to put something on my own site everyday and reading 7,000 word essays while taking the time to write a response just isn’t in the cards anymore.

So instead of trying to get it down all in one day, I will take my time and try something a little different; examine individual issues raised by Packer (and other commenters both liberal and conservative) in order to perhaps glean some essential truth that may end up being unique. We know pretty much what’’s wrong with the ideology of conservatism. But what of the philosophy that is its underpinning? And what of the future.

I hope you will join me for what promises to be a stimulating journey.

By: Rick Moran at 12:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)


I’m taking the day off today – partly writers burn out and partly due to a persistent cough and cold that has had me up most of the week and unable to sleep very well.

But I thought I’d link to my piece from yesterday in PJ Media regarding Hillary’s campaign-ending gaffe. Here’s a sample:

This is the gaffe of gaffes, the Mother of all campaign faux pas. There’s no taking it back at this point. The statement is out there, hanging like a rapidly decomposing side of beef in the hot sun. To suggest that you should hang around and stay in the campaign “just in case” the unthinkable occurs is beyond anything yet seen in this campaign. And considering all the race and gender cards that have been flying around, the assassination card tops them all.

What is even more curious is that her statement comes on a day when rumors have been flying all over the internet and the national media about the Obama and Clinton campaigns having serious discussions about orchestrating her exit from the race with some reports even speculating that the Clintonites are pushing her for the vice president slot.

Both camps have come out and vigorously denied talks are taking place. Indeed, after today’s events, it would seem very unlikely – if there had ever been much of a chance in the first place — that Senator Obama would agree to adding Hillary Clinton to the Democratic ticket as vice president.

By: Rick Moran at 12:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

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He’s not going to score any points with the media for doing it – not after so many months of mealy mouthed statements about the candidate not agreeing with many of Pastor John Hagee’s positions but welcoming his endorsement anyway. And McCain probably shouldn’t receive much in the way of plaudits for finally disavowing the support of this clownish hater.

But McCain is the first Republican candidate for President in a long time who has stood up to this weird strain of evangelical hatred directed against non-Christians and unequivocally said he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. And to reinforce his action, he disavowed the endorsement of another, less well know Christian hate monger Rod Parlsey.

Throwing Parsley under the bus may prove to be more problematic than lancing the Hagee boil. The Ohio preacher’s anti-Islam spiel appeals to not only evangelicals, but to a segment of conservatives who fancy themselves Islamic scholars – perhaps because they’ve read some half baked analysis of a few lines from the Koran purporting to show that Muslims worship the moon – and are attracted by Parsley’s hellfire and damnation talk about Muslims and where they can stick it.

But it is the very act of disassociating himself from those two religious nut jobs that may herald something new in Republican politics; a distancing of the rational, secular, center-right from the nauseating moral certitude and hate based rantings of a small, but influential segment of the evangelical community.

I would say that this is something that absolutely must be done if the Republican party is ever going to achieve majority status again. If it were up to me, I would drive them out of the party as Jesus drove the money changers from the temple – with a whip and some good old fashioned righteous wrath. There is no place in modern American politics for this kind of hate to be spewed and considered “mainstream” by anyone in the Republican party.

Hagee and Parsley preach a Christian exclusivity that has no place in America. By the numbers, we may be a “Christian” nation. But by law, by tradition, and by common sense, we are universalists when it comes to worshiping God. Hagee and Parsley sought to set Christianity apart from this notion of ecumenicism and use faith as a litmus test in measuring the worth of an individual soul. That means that if you happen to be gay, or Muslim, or some other group not part of their narrow, prejudiced biblical worldview, you’re a sinner or worse. It never penetrates the thick skulls of these dimwits that calling someone a “sinner” and saying you love them anyway is the most humiliating thing you can say to a gay person or anyone else who fails the Christian test.

McCain’s statement of disavowal was strongly worded and left no doubt where he stood:

“Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well,” he said.

Later, in Stockton, he told reporters: “I just think that the statement is crazy and unacceptable.”

Then in an interview with The Associated Press, McCain said he rejected Parsley’s support, too.

“I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America, and I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn’t endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk, and I reject his endorsement,” McCain told the AP.

Hagee had sparked controversy since the San Antonio pastor endorsed McCain on Feb. 27 shortly before the Texas presidential primary. Parsley’s views were aired Thursday in an ABC News report.

McCain actively courted Hagee, who leads a megachurch with a congregation in the tens of thousands and has an even wider television audience. Former GOP presidential rivals also sought Hagee’s backing.

Hagee has referred to the Roman Catholic Church as “the great whore” and called it a “false cult system.” He also has linked Hitler to the Catholic church, suggesting it helped shape his anti-Semitism. And Hagee said Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution for homosexual sin.

When McCain first received the endorsement of this bigot, I thought he should have disavowed it immediately:

Doesn’t McCain realize that Hagee’s “spiritual leadership” includes filling the heads of the faithful with hate filled rants against Muslims, gays, Catholics, and others? How can a presidential candidate who says he wants to change the quality of dialogue in this country accept the endorsement of this bigot?

McCain is no stranger to controversies like this. In the 2000 campaign, he spoke at the notorious Bob Jones University where interracial dating was against school policy.

(As an aside, why aren’t these people read out of the conservative movement the same way the Birchers and other extremists were kicked out by Buckley and others in the 1950’s?)

Simply saying you don’t agree with everything Hagee says isn’t good enough. There are some endorsements that should be rejected out of hand. Saying “I reject John Hagee’s endorsement and all the bigoted statements he has made…” would be political suicide with a segment of evangelicals but might be the start of sweeping these extremists out of the party.

I realize that last statement may be a bit optimistic. But how about reducing their influence? How about going out of your way to condemn their outrageous bigotry? How about banning them from party events like the convention?

At the very least, such actions would prove that McCain is on the side of tolerance, respect, and dignity for all. You don’t have to agree with the gay rights agenda in order to grant dignity and worth to those espousing it. Nor does one have to support jihad or Sharia law to give Muslims the same constitutional benefit of freedom to worship God anyway they choose.

These things are so self evident it is amazing to me that there would even be an argument forthcoming from some evangelicals. That’s the problem, of course. And during the last decade (and especially the last two presidential elections) as Karl Rove shamelessly – and successfully – used wedge issues like gay marriage to maximize the turnout among the evangelical community, hideous figures like Hagee and Parsley gained influence because of the size of their following.

Now McCain is gambling that he wins more than he loses by disavowing the endorsements of these two extremists. Does he pick up support among independents and “Reagan Democrats” as a result of this move? Or does he so anger the evangelical community that millions will stay home or worse, support Obama?

It’s impossible to say at this point. One would like to believe that principled actions (or at least actions that can be construed as principled) would be rewarded and McCain’s disavowal of the haters ends up being a big plus.

But there’s another axiom in politics that might equally apply in this case; no good deed goes unpunished.

By: Rick Moran at 7:36 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (24)


“He maketh me to lie next to him in green pastures.” (HT: Fellows)

“Cult of Obama?” No such thing. Nosir. A figment of the corporate press’s imagination. A Rethuglican dirty trick. A Karl Rove plot. A Hillary Clinton smear.

Now admittedly, the alternative publication that published the above photo got it from another alternative rag (doesn’t anyone in Oregon read, like, you know, straight news?) and makes the valid and defensible point that the picture is a tongue in cheek representation of Obama, satirizing (not “irony or whatever” you ignorant twits) the feelings of those Obamaniacs who, with doe-eyed worship, gaze upon their champion as if he were more than a politician, more than a man, more than a mere mortal.

What the dilettantes don’t get is that the very act of satirizing the mushy headed fools proves that they exist, that there is a very large segment of Obama supporters who view their man as a savior of sorts. I wrote recently about the pause it should give those of us who are enamored of republican principles when examining this Obama phenomenon. There is the smell of danger to some of his rallies – out of control citizens who swoon in his presence or lose themselves in his well modulated but ultimately empty words.

Not recognizing the danger or denying that it exists has been the standard operating procedure of Obama supporters on the left for the better part of a year. Individual citizens making informed decisions is one thing. A mindless mob being manipulated by a politician is quite another.

This is not to say that Obama has dictatorial tendencies or harbors some kind of messiah complex. But mass movements are funny things and all sorts of people get thrown up into leadership positions. The temptation to thuggery can get almost irresistible.

In the meantime, we can laugh at the Obamaniacs and their obsessive love for someone who, after all, is just a politician. My guess is they will become hugely disappointed in their savior long before he or someone else would have the opportunity to create mischief in the republic.

By: Rick Moran at 1:33 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (36) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Democrats Observe A Fragile Cease-Fire...

I first saw this shocking clip over at my good friends on Maggie’s Farm who got it from MacRanger.

I am informed it’s an older video and has made the rounds a couple of times so if you’ve seen it, perhaps you might have a theory on why this hasn’t gone viral.

It is 52 seconds of the dumbest, the most frightening ideas on defense policy I’ve heard from the nominee of a major party. We’re in Dennis Kucinich territory here folks.

Here’s the transcript courtesy of one of the commenters at American Thinker (where some of this post originated):

“First, I’m the only major candidate who opposed this war from the beginning. And as president, I will end it.

Second, I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems…and I will institute an independent Defense Priorities Board to ensure that the Quadrennial Defense Review is not used to justify unnecessary spending.

Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal I will not develop new nuclear weapons…I will seek a global ban on the development of fissile material…and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off of hair-trigger alert…and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals.”

In 52 seconds, he rattles off what an Obama presidency would mean for our national defense; slowing down of existing programs to build new weapons, cutting “tens of billions” of dollars in “wasteful” spending, scrapping missile defense completely, and setting up an “independent defense priority review board” (you can imagine the anti-defense liberals sitting on that board) to make sure we don’t waste any money building “unnecessary” weapons.

That’s not all. Obama wishes upon a star for a “nuclear free world” and to that end, he will not allow any new designs for nukes nor will be build any new ones. He wants to talk to the Russians about re-targeting our missiles and “deep cuts” in our nuclear arsenal.

This is dangerous and stupid. Slowing down current weapons projects only makes them more expensive over the long term (but it looks good politically because of the money saved up front). He calls the anti-missile system “unproven” – and thank God for that because the only way to “prove” that it works is to shoot down an incoming missile. Recent successes have been incredible – shooting down a target traveling at Mach 7 is no simple matter. And almost every test shows improvement.

Why scrap the system now after spending tens of billions of dollars and when we are close to success? Lunacy!

In fairness to Obama, everyone knows that we could find tens of billions in savings in the defense department. The question – as it is with his idea for an “independent” Defense Priorities Board – who decides what’s “wasteful” and what is “necessary?

It’s a question that has bedeviled defense planners since the end of World War II. In the 1980’s the Democrats took the easy way out; they voted against every new weapons system that came on line during the Reagan build-up. The M-1 Abrams Tank, the B1, the B2, cruise missiles, Trident Submarine – the list is endless.

Then there’s the matter of his pledge not to design or build any “new” nuclear weapons. This may be a huge problem since nuclear warheads are not like the fine wines I’m sure Obama keeps in his cellar – you can’t just store them away and forget them. Nukes require constant maintenance and the replacement of parts and materials every few years as the plutonium follows the laws of nature and, atom by atom, begins to degrade.

Will a President Obama continue to create fissile material to replenish our existing stockpile of weapons? He doesn’t say, does he?

I shudder when I think his 1960’s style liberal friends will have a go at the defense budget. Considering the fact they don’t think we face any threats, we’ll be lucky to keep the Army band.

Then there’s his pie in the sky notion of a nuclear free world. Everyone wishes for that. Heck, I wish that the moon was made of Velveeta cheese but wishing will never make it so. And somehow, I just can’t picture him and Putin on the same page about much of anything. Obama, the charmer, the ideologue and Putin, the aggressive, canny, ruthless autocrat.

Maybe we can convince a grown up to hold his hand during those negotiations.

In effect, Obama wants to gut the military to make sure we never go to war again. He has said as much on the campaign trail. And if a time ever comes, God forbid, where we would find it necessary to project our power to the far flung corners of the earth in order to protect Americans or American interests under an Obama presidency, I fear the military would be forced to tell him that it wouldn’t be possible.

Obama is McGovern, Carter, and John Kerry all rolled into one when it comes to maintaining and improving our defenses. He would be a disaster as president and this video shows very clearly why.

By: Rick Moran at 7:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (31)