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This piece on McCain by Aravosis may be the most inelegant political attack I’ve ever seen. Not only is it a vile, worthless, mindlessly idiotic recounting of this Peeping Tom’s idea of McCain’s military service but the obliviousness of Aravosis to the upchucking irony in his calling anyone out for making propaganda is outrageously, hysterically inappropriate.

Yes, we all know that John McCain was captured and tortured in Vietnam (McCain won’t let you forget). A lot of people don’t know, however, that McCain made a propaganda video for the enemy while he was in captivity. Putting that bit of disloyalty aside, what exactly is McCain’s military experience that prepares him for being commander in chief? It’s not like McCain rose to the level of general or something. He’s a vet. We get it. But simply being a vet, as laudable as it is, doesn’t really tell you much about someone’s qualifications for being commander in chief. If McCain is going to play the “I was tortured” card every five minutes as a justification for electing him president, then he shouldn’t throw a hissy fit any time any one asks to know more about his military experience. Getting shot down, tortured, and then doing propaganda for the enemy is not command experience. Again, it’s not nice to say say, but we’re not running for class president here. We deserve real answers, not emotional outbursts designed to quell the questions.

First, let’s “quell a question” shall we?

QUESTION: Why did John McCain make a propaganda film for the enemy?

ANSWER: Because if you didn’t, the enemy would torture you until you died.

Those “agrarian reformers” and “peace loving socialists” that Aravosis’ ideological brethren were calling the the North Vietnamese back then were not very nice people. Every single prisoner who fell into their hands endured unspeakable degradation and torture until they cooperated. Aravosis makes it sound as if giving in to pain is a character defect. He cannot imagine in his safe little world – a world that allows him to peep into Republican bedroom windows to catch his political foes in a homosexual act and then out them against their will – the kind of mind numbing, excruciating, pain that causes grown men to cry like children and call out for their mother.

Aravosis also fails to mention that the Army revised their policy after Viet Nam from one that required an American prisoner only to give their name, rank, and serial number to one that required our men to “resist to the best of their ability” enemy attempts to use them as propaganda.

This from a 1991 NY Times article on Americans who were captured by Iraqis during the Gulf War:

In light of a major shift in what is expected of Americans who become prisoners of war, the appearance on Iraqi television of captured American pilots can be seen as part of a ploy to survive rather than a break in discipline, military psychiatrists say.

In a major change, the military code of conduct that once required those captured give only name, rank and serial number now simply requires them to resist cooperating with the enemy “to the best of their ability.”

“The operative principle is that you do what you’ve got to do in order to survive,” said Dr. Michael Wise, who was an Air Force psychiatrist for 21 years.

The new attitude toward prisoners of war who cooperate with their captors results from findings by military researchers that virtually all American servicemen captured by the North Vietnamese broke under pressure from their captors, military psychiatrists say.

The few who tried to resist totally, from what we know, did not survive captivity,” said Dr. Robert Rahe, now a psychiatrist at the University of Nevada at Reno and former head of the Navy’s Center for P.O.W. Studies in San Diego. “Nobody can be John Wayne. They can always find a torture so grave you’ll confess to something.”

(emphasis mine and fu*k you John Aravosis).

The idea that McCain, who by all accounts, resisted the attempts of his captors to use him as a propaganda weapon despite a list of physical injuries that would have killed Aravosis and most normal men, somehow betrayed the country by finally reaching his physical and psychological limit of deliberately induced pain and succumbing is so despicable only someone fully versed in the politics of metaphorically sneaking into the bedrooms of opponents to spy on them could write it.

Over the years, Aravosis has frequently partnered with another homosexual slime merchant named Michael Rodgers who sees it as his mission in life to dig into the private lives of not only Republican lawmakers, but also members of their staffs and the staffs of committees. And then, against their will for the most part, this dynamic duo of sleaze “outs” the unfortunates.

Why? Because they don’t agree with his political agenda for homosexuals! Or if they do, they continue to work for a Member of Congress who doesn’t.

This kind of thing used to be done in dark alleys stinking of urine with the delivery by some ex-con of a manila envelope containing some grainy photographs of naked men cavorting in bed, snapped by a peeping tom through the window of some no-tell motel.

Now its done by men of similar low character – people like Rodgers and Aravosis – who lack the animating spirit of human decency and prey upon vulnerable men by threatening them with exposure if they don’t change their political views or leave their job and career.

And this toad Aravosis is actually criticizing McCain for making a propaganda film? Even the meager and irrelevant point he tries to make – that McCain makes a big deal of the fact he was tortured “every five minutes” – is an out and out lie. McCain makes rare and elliptical references to that time in his life, properly allowing the listener to recall the well known details on their own.

And, of course, McCain is not touting his time in a prison camp or even his military service as proof of his experience to be Commander in Chief. Nearly a quarter of a century at the center of every major domestic debate over defense and foreign policy more than qualifies John McCain to serve as CIC. Contrast that with Obama’s laughable attempt to equate living in Indonesia as a 7 year old with McCain’s wealth and depth of experience in foreign and defense policies and you have the reason this walking chunk of undigested gristle is sliming the Arizona Senator’s service as a POW. It’s the only way to deflect attention from his candidate’s less than amateur credentials for being CIC.

Recall that McCain refused the ultimate in special treatment; an offer by his captors for early release due to the fact his father was an admiral. Would Aravosis have had the courage to do what McCain did and refuse to go home without every prisoner captured before him also went home? Doubtful. All the more reason to point the finger at Aravosis and expose him for the low life scum he truly is.

By: Rick Moran at 8:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (33)


Peter Beinart, one of the more thoughtful men of the left, has a sterling piece in Time Magazine that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten a little more play among blogs.

It’s a piece about patriotism – how liberals and conservatives view the word and the concept and how patriotism is playing out in the presidential race. Beinart suffuses his piece with an obvious love of country which makes the words ring all the more real and true.

It’s always hard to be analytical about an emotional subject – perhaps even more so when trying to look dispassionately at patriotism. And because patriotism is, in many ways, wrapped up in our own personal identity, if we have difficulty recognizing how someone might define the concept, we are more than likely to reject that individual’s claim to being a patriot. Instead, we see hypocrisy or dark forebodings of authoritarianism or super-nationalism.

Beinart successfully traverses this emotional minefield and emerges with a reasoned discourse on the differences between how liberals and conservatives define patriotism. He then ties it neatly into presidential race by demonstrating how Obama’s and McCain’s patriotism may be different but still represents two sides of the same coin – love and devotion to the United States.

I found the entire exercise intellectually and emotionally satisfying – especially since I took a stab at the same subject matter last October and came up with what I thought at the time was one of the better things I had written on this site. Re-reading it, I see how close Beinart’s thinking is to my own views on patriotism (except for a more expansive view regarding American exceptionalism on my part). But Beinart goes several steps further in his analysis to include the dangers inherent in both definitions of patriotism. At bottom, Beinart has successfully shown how both the right and left understanding of patriotism is valid and a necessary complement to the other.

I hold out little hope that many readers (at least those who leave comments) on this site or most sites on the internet would grant Mr. Beinart the legitimacy of his thesis. The patriotism issue is just too emotionally charged and too closely identified with the war for most of us to let go of our petty vindictiveness and grant the opposition the one thing both sides crave the most; recognition that they are acting with the best interests of the United States uppermost in their hearts and minds.

I’m not saying everyone should abandon political combat and move into some loathsome kind of Obama-led paradise where everybody agrees about everything and our great national debates on the war, the energy crisis, the budget, or social issues would suddenly be stilled as we all recognize the error of our ways and come together to hold hands around the great American campfire. That sickening kind of political heaven might be attractive to the ignorant but idealistic young and a segment of the left that sees opposition to its policies the same way the Catholic Church viewed Martin Luther.

But it is not for me. I will continue to battle the left with anger at times but also humor, sarcasm, and satire – hopefully vouchsafing the genuineness of their beliefs and yes, their patriotism in opposing me.

For Beinart, patriotism on the right can be too simple:

That’s why conservatives tend to believe that loving America today requires loving its past. Conservatives often fret about “politically correct” education, which forces America’s students to dwell on its past sins. They’re forever writing books like America: The Last Best Hope (by William J. Bennett) and America: A Patriotic Primer (by Lynne Cheney), which teach children that historically the U.S. was a pretty nifty place. These books are based on the belief that our national forefathers are a bit like our actual mothers and fathers: if we dishonor them, we dishonor ourselves. That’s why conservatives got so upset when Michelle Obama said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country” (a comment she says was misinterpreted). In the eyes of conservatives, those comments suggested a lack of gratitude toward the nation that—as they saw it—has given her and the rest of us so much.

Conservatives know America isn’t perfect, of course. But they grade on a curve. Partly that’s because they generally take a dimmer view of human nature than do their counterparts on the left. When evaluating America, they’re more likely to remember that for most of human history, tyranny has been the norm. By that standard, America looks pretty good. Conservatives worry that if Americans don’t appreciate—and celebrate—their nation’s past accomplishments, they’ll assume the country can be easily and dramatically improved. And they’ll end up making things worse. But if conservatives believe that America is, comparatively, a great country, they also believe that comparing America with other countries is beside the point. It’s like your family: it doesn’t matter whether it’s objectively better than someone else’s. You love it because it is yours.

I would take issue with Mr. Beinart only in his belief that “Conservatives often fret about “politically correct” education, which forces America’s students to dwell on its past sins.” That’s only half of it. What conservatives object to is dwelling on America’s past sins at the exclusion and in lieu of telling our national story. I confess to being a little out of the loop regarding the content of “social studies” textbooks but a few short years ago, there was too much emphasis on the struggles of oppressed minorities to rise above the bigotry, sexism, and hatred in American society to reach for the promise that America offered and not enough on the remarkable, even miraculous nature of our origin.

Washington and Jefferson especially received short shrift in the textbooks I examined. How can anyone possibly know America without examining Washington as closely as we might examine Martin Luther King? Or celebrate Jefferson as much as Elizabeth Cady Stanton? The conservative critique of education today decries not just the “politically correct” interpretation of American history but the underlying message being taught; that what those dead white European males did in first fighting for independence and then cementing our freedoms and rights in the Constitution isn’t as vital or important to history as the struggle for civil rights or women’s rights. To say that this is a back-asswards way to teach history is an understatement.

But Beinart nails it when he talks about conservative’s love of the past and how we see patriotism as something of our patrimony; a concept inculcated by parents and, increasingly less so, the public schools. And he is spot on when he ascribes part of this to our rather dim view of human nature.

The difference between liberal and conservative on this point is profound and has been at the bottom of every political argument in our history. It goes back to the debate over the Constitution – between those who possessed what historian Page Smith referred to as a “classical Christian conscience” and those who believed in the values and precepts of the enlightenment.

Smith believed that the Constitution is infused with elements of both but that the classical Christain conscience dominates. It is the belief that man is inherently evil and will do mischief to his fellow man unless restrained by law and governance. (Smith ascribed a belief in original sin and man’s corruptibility as prerequisites for the classical Christian conscience.) Most of the Federalists ended up in this camp if only because they saw a need to restrain the passions of the common man and keep a strong hand on the tiller of state.

The Jeffersonians had a much more expansive and benign view of human nature. They believed in the perfectibility of man and, like true children of the enlightenment, saw man as basically good but error prone. By applying rational and reasoned concepts to government, Jeffersonians believed man was perfectly capable of governing himself as long as sensible laws were enacted to govern his passions.

One can immediately see the basics of the liberal-conservative schism in this debate over the shape of our constitution. And if you were to extrapolate a bit, you can even see how two definitions of patriotism could emerge from the competing philosophies. In Beinart’s piece, he ties the conservative view of respect for the past – defining Reagan as a magician who could summon feelings of past American greatness – with McCain’s ambitions:

McCain is a little rougher around the edges. Unlike Reagan, who during the Second World War only played soldiers on the big screen, McCain has actually seen combat. And as it did Bob Dole, the experience has made him a little more ironic and a little less sappy. (Dole tried to play the Reagan role in 1996, asking Americans in his convention acceptance speech to “let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth,” but he couldn’t pull it off.) But if McCain isn’t Reagan, he still exemplifies many of conservative patriotism’s key themes. He followed in his forefathers’ footsteps; he put aside his hell-raising youth and learned to obey. He served his country in Vietnam, an unpopular war whose veterans we honor not because their service necessarily made the world a better place but simply because they are ours.

On one key issue, though—immigration—McCain’s view of patriotism differs from that of many on the right. Conservatives tend to believe that while Americans are bound together by the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, they are also bound together by a set of inherited traditions that immigrants must be encouraged—even required—to adopt. And they fret that if newcomers don’t assimilate into that common culture, they won’t be truly patriotic. McCain rarely discusses the dangers of mass immigration, but for many conservatives, the fact that some immigrants eat vindaloo or bok choy rather than turkey on Thanksgiving isn’t charming; it’s worrisome. They see multiculturalism as the celebration of various ethnic cultures at our national culture’s expense. And when that celebration is linked to the claim that America’s national traditions are racist—as it sometimes is on college campuses—conservatives begin to suspect that multiculturalism is leading to outright disloyalty. That’s why conservative talk radio and Fox News went berserk a couple of years back when some immigrant activists paraded through America’s cities waving Mexican flags. It confirmed their deepest fear: that if you let people retain their native tongue and let them spurn American culture for the culture of their native land, they will remain politically loyal to their native land as well.

A slight correction to Beinart’s description of the Mexican flag dustup. Of course it wasn’t because Mexican’s were only carrying Mexican flags. It was that they had elevated their own flag above the American flag – something I challenge Mr. Beinart to find in a St. Paddy’s day parade. Beyond that, the signage accompanying the flags were not mentioned by Mr. Beinart – signs clearly stating the belief that California and the southwestern United States was Mexican territory and that someday it would revert back. Reconquista may be a joke to liberals and the open borders crowd but the non-assimilation of tens of millions of Mexicans – people who are actively resisting the pull of the melting pot – is not funny.

But taking Beinart’s thesis on McCain’s appeal to patriotism, I believe he has accurately identified why there is an attraction to the Arizona senator by many conservatives. No, McCain is not a down the line man of the right. But his life story – his values, his upbringing, and his otherwordly courage in a life and death situation that he endured for 5 years resonate powerfully with many whose faith in America finds voice in men like McCain. He is an authentic American hero. And regardless of how one might feel about his immigration policies or other problematic political positions he has taken, there is that link with the past – that McCain is just the latest in a long line of heroes who sacrificed so much for this country.

So why can’t the left see it “our” way and not be so harsh and judgemental when it comes to the sins of our past? This is the way I described the difference between liberals and conservatives regarding patriotism last October:

I think it is apparent that some on the right love America in a different way than some on the left. Think of the right’s love of country as that of a young man for a hot young woman. The passion of such love brooks no criticism and in their eyes, the woman can do nothing wrong. They place the woman on a pedestal and fail to see any flaws in her beauty, only perfection.

On the other hand, love of country by many liberals is more intellectualized – perhaps the kind of love we might feel for a wife of many years. The white hot passion may be gone and her flaws might drive you up a wall at times. And it is difficult not to dwell on her imperfections But there is still a deep, abiding affection that allows you to love her despite the many blemishes and defects they see.

It isn’t that most on the left love America any less than those on the right. They simply see a different entity – a tainted but beloved object that has gotten better.

And here’s Beinart on how the left defines patriotism:
If conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past, liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past. Consider Obama’s original answer about the flag pin: “I won’t wear that pin on my chest,” he said last fall. “Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.” Will make this country great? It wasn’t great in the past? It’s not great as it is?

The liberal answer is, Not great enough. For liberals, America is less a common culture than a set of ideals about democracy, equality and the rule of law. American history is a chronicle of the distance between those ideals and reality. And American patriotism is the struggle to narrow the gap. Thus, patriotism isn’t about honoring and replicating the past; it’s about surpassing it.

One of the major reasons I love history is that America is, at bottom, the most schizophrenic nation imaginable. As long ago as 1765 in the midst of the Stamp Act crisis, wise old Samuel Johnson, the English man of letters who compiled the first English language dictionary, wrote to a friend “Why is it we hear the loudest yelps for freedom from the drivers of Negro slaves?”

Johnson nailed the historical dichotomy that continues to this day. We are nation in love with peace who have fought uncounted wars and battles just since the end of World War II. We are a nation with a Statue of Liberty who welcomes immigrants with the stirring words “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, ...” who then turns around and puts up signs “No Irish need apply” or “English only spoken here.”

What many see as hypocrisy – including much of the left – I see as a profound disconnect from reality. It’s only hypocrisy if you don’t really believe what you’re saying. The amazing thing is we Americans believe with all our hearts in peace and in welcoming immigrants (perhaps most amazing of all, we believe that “all men are created equal” in spite of mountains of evidence that we have never practiced it) despite the actions of our government which can be quite bellicose at times as well as America possessing a long tradition of nativism.

So I can understand the left’s concept of feeling a patriotic duty to make America live up to her best ideals. I can appreciate where that notion comes from and applaud the effort – except for when the left demonstrates a lousy sense of timing and a gross mischaracterization of conservative beliefs:

From my piece:

Having said this, I should point out that the insufferable way in which the left seeks to claim some kind of moral superiority for their view of patriotism by belittling and demonizing the way the right expresses their love of country is unconscionable. There are those on the right who accuse the left of lacking in patriotism – something I have abhorred in the past and will continue to do so. Many conservatives defend dissent even in time of war as a patriotic exercise especially those who have their own beef with the way the war is being run. But I have yet to see anyone on the left take a fellow liberal to task for questioning the methods by which conservative choose to express their love of country.

Indeed, the very idea of a heartfelt expression or outward manifestation of patriotism smacks of “nationalism” to these liberals. And that perhaps, is the real divide between conservatives and liberals when it comes to a definitional framework regarding the use of the word “patriotism.”

Beinart thinks “nationalism” is a grievous sin as well:
By defining Americanism too narrowly and backwardly, conservative patriotism risks becoming clubby. And by celebrating America too unabashedly—without sufficient regard for America’s sins—it risks degenerating from patriotism into nationalism, a self-righteous, chest-thumping ideology that celebrates America at the expense of the rest of the world.

Does nationalism celebrate America “at the expense” of other nations? Or are those feelings of unease by the left the manifestation of something more basic?

My piece:

It should go without saying that liberals despise the concept of nationalism. In this, they are not entirely off base. Most of the evils of the 20th century can be traced to nationalistic impulses in Germany, Japan, the old Soviet Union (Despite their “all men are brothers” rhetoric, the Soviets never had any intention of allowing independent communist states. Their expressed desire was that the revolution be controlled by Moscow.), and the early 20th century saw nationalist movements destabilizing the Austria-Hungarian empire as well as super-nationalistic sentiment in Europe leading the continent to war.

But whether deliberately or not, the left confuses that virulent kind of nationalism with the simple expressions of patriotism most Americans see as harmless and uplifting. Yes there are those on the right who have a “my country right or wrong” attitude where a mindless form of nationalism has taken over and a creeping authoritarianism is expressed by a slavish devotion to a man like Bush. There are also aspects of militarism at large in these quarters where the military can do no wrong and any criticism of the armed forces is tantamount to treason.

I am not denying any of this. I am simply saying that this is a small minority of Americans (whose numbers are blown all of out proportion thanks to the internet). For the left to paint all conservatives and all Americans who express their love of country in a more demonstrable fashion than liberals as xenophobes and simple minded, brainwashed automatons is outrageously arrogant. It stinks of class warfare as much as it animates any criticism for the right’s overly nationalistic impulses. According to many on the left, that kind of patriotic display is reserved for the rubes in flyover country and can safely be ridiculed as the mouthings of ignorant, bible reading, goober chewing yahoos who are too stupid to “vote their own interest” we are told after every election won by a conservative.

What Beinart and other liberals describe as “nationalism” is, I am convinced, nothing more than feelings of discomfort with the more emotional, outward displays of patriotism you often find in Middle America. As Beinart and I agree that the left intellectualizes their patriotism, it stands to reason that grown men weeping at the passing of the flag or even the wearing of a flag pin might cause those on the left to be reminded of all the sins America has committed and that such outward displays are stupid, foolish, and for some liberals, cynically hypocritical.

In some ways, this is an elitist, coastal view of America that many on the left are guilty of and the reason they have continuously lost national elections with two exceptions since 1968.

There is, in fact, nothing wrong with believing America is a different place, a special place compared to other nations. Does that mean loving America “at the expense” of other nations? Damn straight. And the intellectual basis for that feeling can be found in American exceptionalism.

Again, my words:

The idea of American Exceptionalism has taken a beating in recent years because of this overt fear on the part of the left that believing America to be special smacks of the kind of nationalism that had Europe marching off to war in 1914 or Germans goose stepping under the Brandenburg Gate in 1939. Nothing could be further from the truth. You don’t have to read Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky to rid yourself of the notion “my country right or wrong.” And if that is the only education you allow yourself about America and her past, I pity you. Nor do you need any special knowledge vouchsafed those lucky lefties who are able to see through Bushitler’s lies in order to oppose the President on many issues. Unless you are a blind, mindless partisan, such wisdom comes from picking up the daily newspaper and reading it every once and a while.

In short, the privileged moral position the left seeks to occupy on the question of patriotism is an arrogant lie – a belief that those who are more nationalistic in their expressing love of country are not only wrong but dangerous. I hate to disabuse my lefty friends of this notion that patriotism can only be defined as the last refuge of scoundrels but the kind of nationalism expressed by most on the right is in fact healthy and sincere form of patriotism. There is not a whiff of authoritarianism or militarism except in the fevered minds and paranoid imaginings of those who either don’t understand the right’s patriotism or refuse to recognize it as genuine.

Tough words but I believe I speak for many conservatives in uttering them. Beinart may be able to define the differences in patriotic sentiment between liberals and conservatives but many of his friends on the left see only unsophisticated “chest thumping” as manifestations of conservative patriotism while ignoring the feelings of good, decent, people who only understand that they are grateful for having been born in a country they consider the greatest, the most compassionate, the most blessed place on earth.

Yes, there is a religious aspect to the idea of American exceptionalism – that God carved out this land between the oceans and placed upon it the salt of the earth. But as an atheist, I see a much more secular explanation; that fate and the brilliance of a pitifully small number of men combined to present us with a form of government that has allowed the individual to flourish as never before in human history. If this makes us a better place than anywhere else, we should make no apologies and instead, revel in the exceptional nature of our existence.

Beinart can be forgiven his small errors because he so beautifully brings out and celebrates these differences in patriotic sentiment while showing why both the liberal and conservative understanding of patriotism is vital to a healthy country. His piece won’t stop the arguing. But it may initiate dialog that could lead to a glimmer of light so that both sides understand each other a little better.


Comment moderation is off since I will be gone overnight. Please be gentle and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. If you do, be careful. And if you’re not careful, name it after me.

By: Rick Moran at 9:01 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (33)

CATEGORY: Government, Politics

House Democrats held one of their Kangaroo Court-type hearings yesterday ostensibly on Administration decisions regarding detainees and, specifically, the approved torture techniques that the government authorized interrogators to carry out against prisoners.

I say ostensibly because anyone out there believing that the House Democrats were truly interested in getting to the bottom of anything probably also believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and a World Series Championship for the Cubs in 2008. Please don’t insult our intelligence by claiming otherwise.

In fact, almost all high profile hearings on the Hill now degenerate into the most ridiculous posturing and preening by Members who rather than seek the truth, seek to score pure political points.

Truth be told, the Administration makes an unbearably easy target.

But those on the receiving end usually play along by being polite, pretending to be respectful of the power and duties of Congress, and are expected to sit there and take their medicine as they are raked over the coals by ignoramuses who are usually laughably ill prepared. We saw it with the Petreaus hearings as each Congressman got their chance to spout and then would ask the same question over and over; when are we leaving Iraq. Petreaus, maintaining as much dignity as he could muster, tried to come up with different language to use in answering the question, playing the game of trying to make the Member look good for the TV cameras.

But yesterday, we saw what happens when two of our branches of government are at war – and politics and policy don’t matter as much as the personal dislike felt by the two sides for each other.

Testifying yesterday were the Devil and the Devil’s Familiar. John Yoo is the guy who wrote a memo trying to legally justify torture – a dubious and ultimately incoherent attempt to excuse the inexcusable. Also in the dock was David Addington, Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney and suspected of all sorts of misdeeds and wrong headed thinking.

They were both reluctant witnesses having been subpoenaed by the Committee – a waste of good paper as it turns out because Addington especially decided to act the part of a 15 year old smart ass kid being interrogated by the cops. He lounged in his chair as if he was at a bar. Every ounce of body language, every fiber of his being screamed contempt for his interlocutors. His voice dripped with sarcasm and malignant scorn.

Dana Milbank – something of a contemptible creature himself – recognized Addington’s performance as akin to his writing; “nasty, brutish, and short:”

There he sat, hunched and scowling, at the witness table in front of the House Judiciary Committee: the bearded, burly form of the chief of staff and alter ego to the vice president—Cheney’s Cheney, if you will—and the man most responsible for building President Bush’s notion of an imperial presidency.

David Addington was there under subpoena. And he wasn’t happy about it.

Could the president ever be justified in breaking the law? “I’m not going to answer a legal opinion on every imaginable set of facts any human being could think of,” Addington growled. Did he consult Congress when interpreting torture laws? “That’s irrelevant,” he barked. Would it be legal to torture a detainee’s child? “I’m not here to render legal advice to your committee,” he snarled. “You do have attorneys of your own.”

He had the grace of Gollum as he quarreled with his questioners. In response to one of the chairman’s questions, he neither looked up nor spoke before finishing a note he was writing to himself. When Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) questioned his failure to remember conversations about interrogation techniques, he only looked at her and asked: “Is there a question pending, ma’am?” Finally, at the end of the hearing, Addington was asked whether he would meet privately to discuss classified matters. “You have my number,” he said. “If you issue a subpoena, we’ll go through this again.”

A bundle of joy, that one.

The left likes to throw around terms like “imperial presidency” because it makes them sound smart when they talk about their political enemies. In truth, most of what they complain about – signing statements (where there has not been one single instance of the president invoking), a “unitary executive” that even they can’t define, and “tearing up the Constitution” which again, they come up short when asked for examples (Habeas Corpus is alive and well thank you and was in danger only in the fevered imaginations of the left).

But Addington is a tool for acting like an idiot and Yoo wasn’t much better. The more Addington gave the Democrats attitude the more desperate they became to have their talking points confirmed. At times. they didn’t even bother getting confirmation from the witnesses. They simply put words in their mouths and falsely claimed that the witnesses had “confirmed” the absolute worst of the charges against the Administration:

Far left radio station Pacifica carried the proceedings live–with unhinged commentators and callers griping afterwards that Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and his fellow witch-hunters didn’t stab their pins in far enough.

The two-hour hearing was an absolute travesty. Nadler and the Dems shamelessly badgered and harangued the witnesses; Yoo, polite to a fault, repeatedly attempted to answer questions, only to be cut off by foaming jerks who twisted his words or indignantly claimed he was “conceding” some point that he had just established himself.

Malkin’s description is 100% accurate as anyone who watched the hearing could testify. Frequently cutting off Yoo’s answers was one of the most despicable tactics I’ve seen in a while. Of course, it didn’t help that Yoo was doing his best to obfuscate the issues but, as James Joyner points out, most of the questions had little to do with the subject matter the hearing was supposed to be about:
Then again, it’s easy to have contempt for this particular process. Unlike Phil, I’m not an attorney. But it seems to me that these are precisely the kind of answers one ought expect from a hostile witness presented with inane, hypothetical questions.

Congress has every right — indeed, a duty — to investigate suspected wrongdoing on the part of the executive branch. But it’s far from clear how this set of questioning was supposed to be helpful toward that end. The man is an adviser to the vice president, not a would-be Supreme Court Justice. What difference does it make what his pet theories of executive power are? What matters is what actions the president and his team actually took.

Wouldn’t it have been far more useful, then, to ask specific questions about specific activities that took place in Addington’s presence? Indeed, it appears that, in the rare times that was the case, Addington was much more forthcoming.

As I said, a farcical exercise.

And Addington? He repeated his incredible assertion that the Vice President is not part of the Executive Branch:

Cohen asked Addington to explain his curious theory that the vice president is not part of the executive branch. Addington explained that the vice president “belongs to neither” branch but is “attached by the Constitution” to Congress.

“So he’s kind of a barnacle?” Cohen inquired.

“I don’t consider the Constitution a barnacle,” Addington said reproachfully

This is a man seriously in need of a remedial course in the organization of the government of the United States. And the idea that he is serious about believing that nonsense makes one dread what other “advice” he gave to Cheney about Constitutional issues.

The final idiocy of the hearing occurred when Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) expressed the desire that al-Qaeda was watching the hearing – all the better to come after Addington and kill him. He didn’t say that but the meaning was absolutely crystal clear:

Cheney’s Cheney continued to dole out the scorn (“You asked that question earlier, today, and I’ll give you the same answer”) until Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), the last questioner, inquired about waterboarding. “I can’t talk to you—al-Qaeda may watch these meetings,” Addington said.

“I’m glad they finally have a chance to see you, Mr. Addington,” Delahunt joked.

“I’m sure you’re pleased,” Addington growled.

Milbank incredibly and dishonestly refers to Delahunt’s wish to see Addington in the clutches of al-Qaeda as a “joke.” Others, perhaps less of a lickspittle than Milbank, disagreed:

I almost drove off the road when Delahunt sarcastically told Addington that he was “glad” al Qaeda finally got the chance to watch him on TV. He can spin it all he wants, but the gloat in his voice is unmistakable.

Indeed, Malkin has the video and Delahunt’s wish was not made in jest but was spoken as a devout hope – the inference more than clear.

Shocking? Not terribly. The hearing had been building to something like this for a couple of hours. Still, actually watching a Member of Congress wish for the death of his political enemy elicited feelings of nausea – like watching a plane go down with you in the cockpit.

Addington, and to some extent Yoo, refused to play by the rules. They didn’t allow the petty ass Congressmen to walk all over them. They weren’t the polite, obeisant servants of the people executive branch employees are supposed to be (Yoo teaches at Stanford now). But Addington could have at least made a small effort to respect the notion that Congress – for all its flaws and stupidities – had every right to interrogate him and that copping an attitude of disdain for that idea did a disservice to his boss and to our republic.

What a gross, depressing, spectacle the two sides made of themselves yesterday.

By: Rick Moran at 6:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)


For a candidate who touts a mantra of "Change" until people turn a little green around the gills whenever they hear it, Obama better be careful. Even a cursory examination of his record in Chicago as a state senator bringing "change" to public housing would cause voters to ask some serious questions about his competence.

This devastating piece in the Boston Globe on just what Obama’s leadership on developing government-private housing projects did to public housing in Chicago should open a few eyes:

The squat brick buildings of Grove Parc Plaza, in a dense neighborhood that Barack Obama represented for eight years as a state senator, hold 504 apartments subsidized by the federal government for people who can’t afford to live anywhere else.

But it’s not safe to live here.

About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale – a score so bad the buildings now face demolition.

Grove Parc has become a symbol for some in Chicago of the broader failures of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing – an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing.

As a state senator (and as a member of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland - a law firm that handled much of the legal work for developers seeking to partner with the city and state in building or rehabbing public housing units), Obama pushed hard to finance these projects back in the 1990’s. The results are seen above.

But is there more to Obama’s support of these projects? Did they have a political reason for being touted by the candidate?

The campaign did not respond to questions about whether Obama was aware of the problems with buildings in his district during his time as a state senator, nor did it comment on the roles played by people connected to the senator.

Among those tied to Obama politically, personally, or professionally are:

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.

Allison Davis, a major fund-raiser for Obama’s US Senate campaign and a former lead partner at Obama’s former law firm. Davis, a developer, was involved in the creation of Grove Parc and has used government subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,500 units in Chicago, including a North Side building cited by city inspectors last year after chronic plumbing failures resulted in raw sewage spilling into several apartments.

Antoin "Tony" Rezko, perhaps the most important fund-raiser for Obama’s early political campaigns and a friend who helped the Obamas buy a home in 2005. Rezko’s company used subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,000 apartments, mostly in and around Obama’s district, then refused to manage the units, leaving the buildings to decay to the point where many no longer were habitable.

Campaign finance records show that six prominent developers – including Jarrett, Davis, and Rezko – collectively contributed more than $175,000 to Obama’s campaigns over the last decade and raised hundreds of thousands more from other donors. Rezko alone raised at least $200,000, by Obama’s own accounting.

The partnerships were an entree for Obama into the high powered world of fat cat political donors. And as far as whether Obama knew of the problems with the units, the file cabinets at Obama’s law firm are stuffed with pleas from ordinary citizens asking the firm – which handled many landlord-tenant disputes in the past – to intervene with the developers and get them to fix things like running water and problems with heaters.

Those pleas fell largely on deaf ears as the law firm took hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from these developers to represent their interests and help them through the maze of paperwork required to receive the grants from the city and state to rehab or develop the housing projects.

The key player was, of course, Tony Rezko. The now convicted developer/political operator brought Obama along and introduced him to several of the city’s major players in the development community – players who later would figure prominently in his fundraising activities for the senate and early presidential efforts. At the time – the early and mid 1990’s – Chicago was in the midst of an enormous redevelopment craze and the developers were looking to get in on the action.

Obama and his law firm were more than happy to oblige.

But today, thousands of those units are in the process of being condemned or are nearly unlivable. While not directly responsible, the fact is that Obama aggressively pushed the idea of city/private partnerships in public housing and that it became a spectacular failure.
All the more reason to look at Obama’s mantra of "change" with a more jaundiced eye.

This post originally appears in The American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 9:09 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

Maggie's Farm linked with A few Saturday links... Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Obama on Clinton at unity rally: 'She rocks'...

The hysterically exaggerated, intellectually dishonest portrayal of the workings of the NSA surveillance program by many on the left is something I have catalogued on this site since its existence was revealed by the New York Times way back in December of 2005.

To be honest, the netroots have made themselves ridiculously easy targets for ridicule.

My own reservations about the program remain. Reasonable, honest people can debate how this program skirts the law and may – depending exactly how it works which is something that to this day remains hidden – cross the line of legality. The fact that debate raged in the Justice Department over the legality of the program with many career prosecutors opposed while others supported it should demonstrate to any reasonable person that at worst, the Terrorist Surveillance Program was an extremely close call.

Not so scream the netnuts. To the hysterical three year olds who make up the “reality based community,” facts don’t matter nor does it cross their infantile minds that such a surveillance program is even necessary. The program is illegal – no debate is allowed.

To such an incurious crowd we are now about to hand the reigns of government.

What is most worrisome is that they have so much invested in denying the reality of the terrorist threat – that the whole thing was dreamed up by Bush to seize power and become dictator – that one can legitimately question just how serious these mountebanks will be about national security. No doubt they will be relentless in their pursuit of terrorists – after we’ve been hit again. Cold comfort for those Americans who die as a result of their “terrorists are innocent until they commit an overt act” mindset.

Holy Christ! Even Barack Obama thinks the NSA surveillance program is indispensable to our national security. Of course, Obama has no better idea that the program is or was illegal despite his claims to the contrary. He is simply “playing the rubes” in the netroots community as Ian Welsh tells it at Firedoglake:

The FISA Cloture vote just passed. The Senate will now consider the motion to proceed with the bill, then they’ll head to the bill itself (corrected procedural details, h/t and thanks to CBolt). Various motions will be put forward to strip immunity, odds are they will fail. Then a number of the 80 who voted to restrict debate will vote against FISA so they can say they were against the bill. However this was the real vote, and the rest is almost certainly nothing but kabuki for the rubes.

Obama and McCain were both absent, as was Clinton. Unimpressive, but unsurprising, though I suppose I’m disappointed by Clinton (Obama has made it clear he didn’t intend to try and stop the bill.) Clinton and Obama will claim there was no point since it wasn’t close. But, with their leadership, it might well have gone the other way.

The folks who actually voted for the Bill of Rights are listed below. Remember, after the debate there’ll be a larger number of people who vote against this bill, but this was the real vote, and those Senators are just playing the rubes.

In less stressful, less partisan times, it may have been possible to debate the necessity for this surveillance program and even whether or not it actually steps over the line of legality, although how any definitive answers could have been arrived at with key parts of the program still classified and unknown to all but a very select few in government would have been problematic indeed.

So instead, we get ignorant rantings about the Constitution being torn up while brave liberals manned the battlements trying heroically to save American democracy:

A few weasel words from there, but Obama is totally cool with the precedent of the government giving a slip of paper to a corporation allowing them to break the law. He’s cool with the premise of “we were just following orders” that was shot down at Nuremberg being revived. He’s cool with if the President does it, then it isn’t illegal. He’s cool with a bunch of the other really dangerous aspects of the bill, including the vacuuming up of every communication that leaves or enters the United States without even the caveat that they be related to terrorism. He’s cool with a national surveillance state.

Just plain cool with it.

Gee. If all that is true, I am going to turn in my Captain America outfit and move to Brazil. Maybe Lambchop has a spare room he can let me stay in.

Of course, the above is wildly exaggerated – childishly so. Nice touch raising the spectre of Nazis, don’t you think? Battling fascism has always been the counterpoint to righties bravely battling Sharia law here in the US. Neither exists in the real world but boy is it goddamned heroic to see yourself doing it.

The only germ of truth in dday’s idiotic rant above is the “vacuuming up” of communications – a data mining program evidently carried out by the NSA with the assistance of the Telecoms. It is unclear whether this is a separate program or part of the NSA surveillance made public by the Times. But the USA Today reported back in May of 2006 that this data mining project includes a massive number of purely domestic calls as well. The program may have been confirmed by internal AT&T documents.

Question: Did the Telecoms violate the privacy rights of Americans by handing over records to the government of purely domestic calls? Once again, the nuance of the issue escapes the potato heads on the left who are licking their chops at the prospect of massive class action lawsuits against some major corporations that could easily bankrupt them as the legal fees alone could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Supreme Court decided a case that many experts believe bears directly on the privacy issue:

The U.S. Supreme Court has drawn a legal line between collecting phone numbers and routing information, and obtaining the content of phone calls. In a ruling in 1979, the court said in Smith v. Maryland that a phone company’s installation, at police request, of a device to record numbers dialed at a home did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

“We doubt that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote. He noted the court had said “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”

As I said, another gray area where technology and perceived necessity have outstripped – temporarily – the law’s ability to be absolutely clear about the line that must be drawn.

So instead of reasoned debate, we’re stuck with these wild charges that bear little resemblance to what the actual situation is much less the important questions raised by the actions of the Administration in developing and carrying out these programs.

The left just isn’t satisfied with opposing problematic programs. They have to ratchet up the rhetoric to unbearable levels of sophistry and stupidity in order to be seen as saviors of American civilization, standing alone in thwarting the evil machinations of Bush who, after all, is planning another 9/11 attack before the election so that he can cancel it and seize power indefinitely.

Their self image just couldn’t bear the thought of being reasonable and discussing the issues rationally. Too boring. Too vanilla. Only by playing the drama queen will their psyches be assuaged and their egos be satisfied.

Eventually, thankfully, Bush will be gone and chances are they will have Obama to kick around. But somehow, I just don’t see them getting so all-fired upset at a President Obama if he were to continue these surveillance programs or even expand them. At that point, all the nuance involved disappears and a new light of reason and rationality will shine on this debate. The “reality based community” will accept the reality that one of their own is in charge – which is what this whole thing has been about to begin with.

By: Rick Moran at 8:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)


(This post originally appeared June 25, 2005)


George Armstrong Custer surveyed the low, rolling Montana countryside before him on that brutally hot Sunday afternoon of June 25, 1876 and must have felt a twinge of anticipation. He was a warrior. And prior to every battle he was ever involved in, from his glory days in the Civil War to this, the last battle of his life, Custer felt the tingling of impending combat. He considered himself invulnerable. His confidence – some would say arrogance – inspired both intense loyalty and profound disdain from the men and officers under his command. This, more than anything else, led to his destruction.

The Battle of Little Bighorn (the Lakota call it “The Battle of Greasy Grass Creek”) is the most closely examined battle in American history. Custer’s every known move has been examined, debated, dissected, re-examined and criticized by historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and scientists. It’s also been one of the most popular subjects for artists as every generation since the battle has had both ridiculous and stylized portrayals as well as historically accurate reproductions. And thanks to Hollywood, just about everyone has heard of Custer and the battle that claimed his life.

The evolution of attitudes toward the battle is one of the most fascinating aspects of its history. Originally seen as a massacre of white soldiers by merciless Indians, the loss of of 267 American soldiers outraged and humiliated a country that was in the process of celebrating it’s Centennial. The resulting outcry sealed the doom of the Lakota, Cheyenne and other plains Indians tribes who had united for one last great war against white encroachment. Custer was portrayed as a great hero, thanks in no small part to his wife Libby’s hagiographic biography of their lives together called Boots and Saddles.

Then in the 1960’s, a welcome re-examination of America’s mythic heroes, including Custer, was initiated by historians eager to take advantage of the American people’s desire for the “truth” about our past. The pendulum swung in the opposite direction and Custer emerged as a vainglorious martinet of an officer, so eager for glory that he sacrificed his men on the altar of personal ambition.

By the late 1970’s, Custer’s image had been slightly rehabilitated thanks to a re-examination of his outstanding career as a Civil War cavalry leader. And along with authors like Jeffrey Wert and Evan McConnel, a new, more personal side of Custer emerged. The arrogant martinet became the loving and devoted husband whose letters to his young wife reveal a playful, likable man with a penchant for teasing.

But on that fateful Sunday, Custer allowed the darker side of his personality to take over. This was a Custer that was unconcerned with the lives of his men. This was the Custer who had been court martialed and suspended for a year for disobeying orders. And this was the Custer whose overweening confidence in his own abilities and suicidal disdain for the fighting skills of his adversary sealed his fate and the fate of so many in his command.

He was not technically in violation of his orders. General Terry, who was making his way to the Little Big Horn with 2,500 infantry, was due the next day but had not specifically ordered Custer to wait. So despite the warnings of his faithful Crow scouts (“Many Sioux” they had told him, a warning he didn’t heed because he thought the Indians couldn’t give an accurate count of warriors), Custer rode to his death.

His survey of the Indian encampment before him was superficial. All he could see from his vantage point was the north end of the village. This was due to a quirk in the topography of the battlefield. If you ever visit the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, you’ll be struck by the gently, rolling hills that give the impression of a single valley stretching out in the distance. What Custer couldn’t see were intervening copses and indentations that hid not the 5,000 or so Indians he believed he was facing, but fully 15,000 men, women and children in a gigantic encampment that stretched for more than 5 miles across the plain.

At the sight of Custer’s men, the Indian warriors rushed to their families and helped to get them out of harms way. Custer interpreted this as a sign that the Indians were preparing to flee and divided his command into 3 sections. He sent Major Reno around to where he thought the south end of the camp was, ordering him to ride through the village and sow confusion while he attacked from the north and the other column commanded by Major Benteen attacked from the east.

It was stupid, rash, and doomed to failure. Reno, an inexperienced (some would say cowardly) officer took one look at the immense village before him and retreated. Some historians believe that if Reno had attacked while the warriors were busy looking after the safety of their families he could have in fact caused the kind of confusion that Custer was looking for. What this would have meant to the outcome of the battle is uncertain. Given that there were other instances on the plains of vastly outnumbered cavalry holding off the tribes, Custer may have been able to save most of his command if he had immediately found defensible ground to make a stand. If Reno had followed his orders, it may have given Custer time to find better defensive ground as his subordinate Major Benteen was able to do, taking up a position on a steep bluff overlooking the Little Big Horn river. But given Custer’s impetuous nature, this probably wasn’t in the cards.

Custer had a reputation during the Civil War of doing whatever it took to win battles. His casualty rate was the highest of any Civil War cavalry general. But as Phil Sheridan’s devastating right arm in the Shenendoah, Custer’s troops won victory after victory – including winning the battle of Yellow Tavern where one of those grim necessities for a Union triumph to come to pass finally happened; Custer’s boys killed the biggest thorn in the Union side in the Eastern theater – Jeb Stuart.

Headstrong, fearless, and also something of a martinet in that he demanded much from his men, Custer was popular with ordinary troopers because he won battles and instilled a sense of pride in his brigades. He was not very well liked among his fellow officers, however, due to his shameless self promotion and perceived sucking up to headquarters. In the end, despite some historians who argue Reno and Benteen failed to come to Custer’s defense even though both those officers were busy trying to keep from being wiped out themselves, Custer’s fate was sealed the moment he divided his command

Custer’s 267 men rode along a bluff that he thought hid him from sight of the village. He was tragically mistaken. The Indians, alerted to his presence by the incompetent Reno were now swarming between the copses and in the shallow depressions that marked the north end of the battlefield. Too late, Custer realized his predicament and ordered his men up to the top of a gently sloping hill northwest of the village. Known as “Last Stand Hill,” approximately 900 Lakota and Cheyenne warriors were able to surround Custer’s command and wipe them out to the last man.

In the aftermath of the battle, General Terry arrived and after hastily burying the dead, started after Sitting Bull and his people. Evading capture for two years by going to Canada, the starving Lakotans finally surrendered on their own and were forced onto reservations.

The spectacular victory of the Indians over the United States army was the last major engagement of the Indian wars of the 19th century. There would be other skirmishes and campaigns – most notably against Goyathlay AKA “Geronimo, the great Chiricahua Apache warrior – but Little Big Horn would be the last time so many warriors on both sides were involved.

As for history’s judgment, Custer’s legacy will be a mixed one. Perhaps it’s unfortunate that Little Big Horn will overshadow his real accomplishments as a cavalry commander during the Civil War. He remains one of the most fascinating characters in American history, reason enough for the continued fascination with the battle that claimed his life.

By: Rick Moran at 12:29 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)


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Tonight, space writer and commentator Rand Simberg of the blog Transterrestrial Musings joins me to talk about NASA and the future of space exploration. I can promise a fascinating look at the future of man in space – and it may include you.

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By: Rick Moran at 6:25 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

CATEGORY: Blogging

A villainous and most evil bird.

From out of nowhere he comes, descending like a black plague upon unsuspecting travelers, squawking a threat and challenge to any and all who displease him. Attacking innocents for the pure joy of knowing his presence strikes stark, stupefying fear into the hearts of his targets, this Cthulhuian apparition haunts the nightmares of many a Midwesterner who has had the misfortune of coming face to beak with him – and lived to tell the tale.

Like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story, this nameless horror is apt to drive one insane if they were to grasp the true, evil nature of its presence here on earth. For it is nothing less than a journey into the mind of the devil – a reflection seen in its lifeless, beady eyes – that drives the creature in its hate and bloodlust to ambush and terrorize its victims.

I am referring, of course, to the Red Winged Blackbird.

There’s a predator lurking in Chicago-area bushes these days. He strikes from behind, when victims are least aware. And the worst part, says ornithologist Doug Stotz: He could be almost anywhere.

Nesting season is in full swing for the red-winged blackbird, making the males extremely aggressive. Walk or bike too close to one’s nest and expect to hear its high, menacing squawk overhead. Then comes the peck-peck-peck on your head, victims say, or claws rustling your hair.

It happened to Holly Grosso. The businesswoman was on her cell phone, walking along West Grand Avenue near Rockwell Street on Wednesday, when the bird—dubbed “Hitchcock” by area workers—made its move.

“Something just came down, pecked me in the head, took my hair and started flying away,” she said. “It’s so bizarre. It’s this little bird.”

From Ghoulies, and Ghosties, and Long-Legged Beasties, and Things that Go Bump! in the Night, Oh Lord Deliver us. (Old Scottish prayer).

This “little bird” is a demon, a harbinger of hell whose attacks on human beings out for a walk or bike ride foreshadow a time when all the non-human entities that inhabit the earth will turn on their erstwhile masters and sweep the planet of our presence.

Alfred Hitchcock may have been having some fun at our expense when he made the film The Birds. But after a couple of run ins with this avian Satan, you will start believing the great director was a prophet rather than an entertainer.

It isn’t just that these birds swoop down and annoy you. Seagulls have been known to do this. And a few other birds – Blue Jays come to mind – don’t like humans very much and will dive bomb an unsuspecting walker now and again.

But when the Red Winged Blackbird attacks, he is out for blood. He will sit on his perch and may – not always – give a couple of warning honks as you approach. Woe betide the luckless walker or rider who ignores the message. The second you pass his nest and your back is to him, the cowardly creature will alight from his perch and make a beeline straight for your head. Just before you feel his beak nipping at your ear, a bloodcurdling sqauwk pierces your eardrum and the “fight or flee” reflex is automatically triggered. And since you cannot fight a beast circling and diving 20 feet over your head, you begin to run.

It is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in the animal kingdom. Despite the fact that you are 50 yards from its nest, the Devil Bird continues its attacks, enjoying the fact that he is terrorizing you, gleaning great satisfaction no doubt as he hears your whimpering entreaties to the Almighty, begging for relief.

You can scream at it, wave your hands, shake your fist, even throw a rock at it and the damn thing just keeps coming – a pitiless, relentless force of pure avian evil. What is so disconcerting about the attack is that at one point, you realize you are about 150 times bigger than the little sh*t and that if the wretched, filthy thing stood still for just a second you’d punch its lights out – permanently – and feed the remains to your cat.

I used to walk to work years ago and every day was like enduring a Native American gauntlet. There were at least a half dozen places along my route where I had to be on constant guard against these sudden, brutal attacks. I would cross the highway to avoid the Blackbird hot spots when I could but there were a couple of places where that simply wasn’t pracitical. I took to carrying a rolled up newspaper but it did little good. The gargoyles easily evaded my pitiful attempts to ward them off.

Anyone who says birds aren’t intelligent need only observe the behavior of these maleovolant entities in order to grasp the diabolical way their peanut sized brains work. I figured out that if you look at them while you pass (sometimes you couldn’t see them as they would be hidden by the trees or bushes), all they do is squawk irritably at you. Of course, this means you have to walk backwards once you pass them – a practice that caused more than one motorist on the highway I’m sure to question what insane asylum I had escaped from.

More than once, I would walk backwards 20 or 30 yards past their perch. But the second I turned around it was party time for the bird as his gonzo attack would be more vicious than ever. The damn thing was probably annoyed I had gotten so far away from his clutches.

Now I’m all for conservation and everything. Save the whales, don’t club baby seals (unless they truly deserve it), only cut down first growth timber if you’re going to make my oak dining room table and please, whatever you do, leave a few large mouth bass in the stream for the rest of us.

But even my love of nature can’t stop the evil thoughts about what I think should be done with every Red Winged Blackbird in North America.

By: Rick Moran at 8:08 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)


The 2008 Presidential race finally got underway yesterday as Barack Obama used his race to try and innoculate himself against criticism:

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said on Friday he expects Republicans to highlight the fact that he is black as part of an effort to make voters afraid of him.

“It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy,” Obama told a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida. “We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid.

“They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”

He said he was also set for Republicans to say “he’s got a feisty wife,” in trying to attack his wife Michelle.

We expected it, of course. It is his greatest political weapon and he will use it again and again, shamelessly accusing the GOP of bringing up his race (even, as this proves, when they don’t) in order to deflect criticism away from he and his wife for anything they say or any associations in their past.

The press will let him get away with it because they are terrified of being accused of racism themselves.

What makes Obama’s race card such an effective weapon is that it is virtually impossible to accuse him of using it. He is the oppressed minority. You don’t question oppressed minorities in this country. Anything they define as racism is accepted almost without question. To do so is to prove your racism. Ergo, the perfect “Catch 22:” If the GOP denies Obama’s charges of “racism” and accuses him of using the race card, the blowback on the GOP will be “Who are you to question a black man when he says he’s been slimed by a racist smear?” – the subtext being that you are racist for questioning him.

The flip side of that is if the GOP says nothing, the charge goes unanswered and they are convicted in the court of public opinion as racist pigs.


Let me just say to those doubters who may believe otherwise, take a walk through the comments section of this blog and others. See how many Obama advocates simply dismiss any opposition to their candidate as “racism.” It is this simple minded sophistry that the candidate will use in order to quiet opposition to his programs once he is elected as well.

It has been asked “Is America ready for a black president?” Maybe a more relevant question would be “Can America see through a racial charlatan who will shamlessly use the color of his skin to avoid debating the tough issues and call his opponents “racists” for disagreeing with him?”

This piece appeared in slightly different form at The American Thinker


Karl at Protein Wisdom and I are on the same page today:

Make no mistake: the man who admits he looks like Urkel is sounding about as post-racial as the Rev. Al Sharpton. Or about as post-racial as someone who spent the last 20 years under the spiritual tutelage of the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Fr. Michael Pfleger. Someone with that background ought to have some humility when it comes to dealing the race card, but he has chosen it as his opening gambit. If John McCain and the GOP allows someone who increasingly sounds like someone struggling to suppress his own prejudice to frame the general election in this manner, they will deserve to lose the election even more than they already do.


Getting more comments than normal on this one (Thanks, Glenn!) so I have removed comment moderation for the time being.

Everyone behave themselves. No jumping on the furntiture and please don’t put your little hands in the garbage disposal unless you’re sure it’s off. Daddy will be back in the morning.

UPDATE: 6/23

Comment moderation back on.

By: Rick Moran at 10:24 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (59)

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Is all this talk about Obama being the savior of America – the man who can bridge the gap between the races, heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and return America to the good old days of grovelling at the feet of the UN and other tyrants going to the candidate’s head?

I swear to God this is one the creepier things I’ve ever seen in politics.

Obama was at a meeting with Democratic governors yesterday here in Chicago. John Broder of the Caucus Blog gives us the details:

At a discussion with a dozen Democratic governors in Chicago on Friday morning, each of the governors was identified with a small name plate but Senator Barack Obama sat behind a low rostrum to which was attached an official-looking seal no one had seen before.

It is emblazoned with a fierce-looking eagle clutching an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other and is deliberately reminiscent of the official seal of the president of the United States. Around the top border are the words “Obama for America;” across the bottom is the campaign’s Web address. It also contains the logo of the Obama campaign, variously interpreted as a sunrise or a view down an open road.

Just above the eagle’s head are the words “Vero Possumus,” roughly translated “Yes we can.” Not exactly E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), the motto on the presidential seal and the dollar bill. Then again, Mr. Obama is not the president.

You’re right, John. Mr. Obama is not the president. And while the US Senate has their own seal, I don’t recall individual senators adopting personal seals for their own use.


Now there are several different ways we can interpret this. Is Obama pulling our leg a little about this messiah crap? Is this kind of an inside joke in the campaign? Did some overzealous, true believing staffer stick this on the podium and Obama never saw it?

Or does Obama believe that he has achieved a special status in America and is deserving of his very own seal to proclaim such?

Broder mentioned the seal’s similarity to the Presidential Seal. Courtesy of CNN, here they are side by side:


Would someone (and I’m sure one of my polite, erudite trolls will oblige me) tell me I’m full of crap and me getting creeped out over this – seeing it as a sign of megalomania – is just a product of my intense dislike of the candidate and nothing to get my panties in a twist over?

Some of my righty friends are taking this very seriously. My buddy Mac:

As I noted before the seal shows what appears to be an eagle in retreat with it’s back turned on the Flag. Couple this with Obama’s desire to “Remake” and “Disarm” America and we have all the reason in the world to be alarmed and ask questions.

Frankly, I don’t see that. It appears the eagle is facing the same way on both the Presidential Seal and Obama’s seal. You might note that the Obama seal’s eagle is missing the ribbon in its beak found on the Presidential Sea. The writing on the ribbon is “E Pluribus Unum” or “Out of Many, One” which is a fine motto for a republic. On the other hand, “Yes we can” – found in Latin above the Obama eagle – is the kind of motto geeky kids in Latin class would have put on a parody seal – the kind of inside joke that only the geeky kids who knew Latin would get.

Definitely creepy – and pretentious. The motto is so banal and saccharine sweet that translating it into Latin and sticking it on a faux presidential seal can only be seen as an attempt to attach more gravitas to a candidate than he deserves. And perhaps that’s the ultimate reason for the entire exercise.

Interestingly, Mac has a screen shot of the seal as the background template for Obama’s website so this thing didn’t just drop out of the blue.

Now, admittedly, on the Moran  Distraction to Nuclear Detonation Scale© of 1-10 where the lower the number, the closer to a true campaign distraction (rather than a distraction the candidate claims any incident to be) this one registers about a 3. I just find it interesting that Obama would feel the need or think it would boost his campaign, or otherwise advance his candidacy to have his very own “Obamaland Seal.”

It still creeps me out.

By: Rick Moran at 7:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (35)

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