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8/12/2008
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: STATE OF THE RACE

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show,, one of the most popular conservative talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

He’s back! Rich Baehr of the American Thinker assumes his familiar position as my loyal sidekick as we examine the presidential race as it stands just two weeks before the Democratic Convention.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

The Chat Room will open around 15 minutes before the show opens,

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 6:39 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

USING RIDICULE AS A WEAPON COULD BACKFIRE ON McCAIN

It was just a few short months ago that Jon Stewart on the Daily Show had to tell his audience it was okay to laugh after he made a mild witticism directed toward Barack Obama about his switch on campaign financing. It was at that point that a few of us wondered if the comics and writers who shape much of the national conversation would ever be able to lay a glove on the Illinois senator or whether his race gave him a cloak of immunity, shielding him from the barbs and bon mots of the late night comedy crowd and Comedy Central gang.

We needn’t have worried. It turns out the comedy writers were actually desperate for material with which to skewer Obama but the candidate was so new on the national stage that there was no overarching, defining character trait that the audience would have a common frame of reference with which to understand the humor and laugh.

Why? The reason cited by most of those involved in the shows is that a fundamental factor is so far missing in Mr. Obama: There is no comedic “take” on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton’s womanizing, or President Bush’s goofy bumbling or Al Gore’s robotic persona.

“The thing is, he’s not buffoonish in any way,” said Mike Barry, who started writing political jokes for Johnny Carson’s monologues in the waning days of the Johnson administration and has lambasted every presidential candidate since, most recently for Mr. Letterman. “He’s not a comical figure,” Mr. Barry said.

This is true - up to a point. The fact is, it is very hard to make fun of someone unless you are willing to subsume your personal feelings and treat the subject as just another bozo slipping on a banana peel. The mainstream press is still having a hard time getting beyond their goo-goo eyed worship of Obama’s talents as a stump speaker so it is no wonder that comedy writers and performers would have problems zeroing in on the candidate’s many faults and idiosyncrasies.

There is no doubt, several representatives of the late-night shows said, that so far their audiences (and at least some of the shows’ writers) seem to be favorably disposed toward Mr. Obama, to a degree that perhaps leaves them more resistant to jokes about him than those about most previous candidates.

“A lot of people are excited about his candidacy,” Mr. Sweeney said. “It’s almost like: ‘Hey, don’t go after this guy. He’s a fresh face; cut him some slack.’ ”

While the right had been laying into Obama for months about his pomposity, his overly high opinion of himself, and his overweening confidence about winning the election, the general public did not see these traits in the candidate until just recently. It was left to Obama’s ideological allies at The New Yorker to start chipping  away at the marble facade that shielded  the candidate from ridicule and thus, from being portrayed as exactly what he is; a human being with imperfections and a too lofty opinion of himself.

The New Yorker cartoon was notable for the breakthrough in portraying the candidate - even if the target of the satire were his opponents - as something less than a cross between Martin Luther King and Jesus Christ. Touching on all the groundless fears of the right with regard to Obama’s Muslim heritage and his lack of patriotism was nevertheless seen as validating those fears because the idiocy of Obama supporters posited that folks in flyover country weren’t sophisticated enough to see that the joke was actually on them.

Beyond that, the reaction of the Obama camp itself revealed a humorlessness and a surprising sensitivity to criticism that showed a campaign that was taking itself way too seriously for its own good. Any bunch that uptight about a cartoon was bound to step in it sooner or later. This they did with a series of gaffes over the next few weeks that highlighted the candidate’s overconfidence along with an almost regal sense of entitlement that fully manifested itself in prickly responses to a new ad campaign that the McCain campaign began to run.

The fake presidential seal, the constant use of the royal “We” when speaking, the references to himself as president, and finally, his foreign trip last month all worked to shed the image of ice blue perfection so carefully crafted by the campaign and resulted in the candidate becoming fair game for comics, pundits, and late night talk show hosts:

But growing Obama fatigue among voters after his pseudo-presidential visit to Europe and the Middle East has unleashed a wave of satirical fire, mocking Mr Obama for his apparent belief that he has the election in the bag.

Last month Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news programme The Daily Show, had to tell his audience that they were allowed to laugh at Mr Obama after a joke fell flat.

But Mr Stewart made comedic hay during the Illinois Senator’s international trip, mocking his progress through the Holy Land, where he said the candidate stopped “in Bethlehem to see the manger where he was born.”

Late night comic Jimmy Kimmel also cracked a joke at Mr Obama’s expense: “They really love Barack Obama in Germany. He’s like a rock star over there. Impressive until you realise that David Hasselhoff is also like a rock star over there.”

The jokes are important because they increasingly draw on evidence that voters are tiring of Mr Obama’s elevated opinion of himself, the wall to wall coverage of his pronouncements, and the feeling that he should concentrate on voters back home.

But it has been the McCain campaign’s ridiculing of Obama as a world celebrity and poking fun at his messiah-like image that may have done the most damage and actually had an impact on the polls. The blow up over the ad that compared Obama to such celebrities as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton scratched at the soft underbelly of the Obama campaign by attacking the phenomenon of his candidacy and questioning the intelligence and judgment of his most rabid supporters.

This is the risk McCain runs with ridicule; the probability that in addition to his main target Obama, collateral damage will occur when the barbs strike the innocent as well; in this case, the legions of Obama fans who believe their candidate can do no wrong and speak of him as if he is a religious icon. Not that McCain had any chance in swaying these voters but Americans don’t like to see people like that picked on and it could lose him votes among independents and conservative Democrats if his pot shots were seen as cruel and unfair to the Obamabots.

J. Michael Waller, Annenberg Professor of International Communications for The Institute of World Politics wrote a paper in 2006 about ridicule in the public arena and found that the tactic of using ridicule as a weapon could easily backfire:

Laughing at someone – ridicule - is another matter. It is the use of humor at someone else’s expense. It is a zero-sum game destructive to one of the parties involved. Like a gun, it is a dangerous weapon. Even in trained hands, it can misfire. Used carelessly or indiscriminately, ridicule can create enemies were there were none, and deepen hostilities among the very peoples whom the user seeks to win over.

In nearly every aspect of society and across cultures and time, ridicule works. Ridicule leverages the emotions and simplifies the complicated and takes on the powerful, in politics, business, law, entertainment, literature, culture, sports and romance. Ridicule can tear down faster than the other side can rebuild. One might counter an argument, an image, or even a kinetic force, but one can marshal few defenses against the well-aimed barbs that bleed humiliation and drip contempt.

In fact, the Obama campaign had a response to the McCain ad; they played the race card. It’s the only comeback that would have had a greater impact than Obama being accused of being weightless and shallow so they deployed their most potent weapon - with surprising results.

The media to a large extent and much of the public came down on McCain’s side and agreed the ad was not racist - especially after first David Axelrod and then the candidate himself agreed they were injecting race into the argument after first denying any such thing. In effect, McCain’s ad turned the tables on the Obama camp by placing them in the position of attacking McCain supporters with the equally potent race card weapon - and it blew up in their faces.

Another McCain ad which was much more in jest referred to Obama as “The One” and interspersed video of the candidate’s speeches with humorous bits like Charlton Heston as Moses parting the Red Sea. The difference with this ad is that the campaign wisely refrained from attacking Obama supporters. This one was aimed directly at Obama’s supercilious opinion of himself.

In both ads, Obama supporters found themselves stretching the point on racism beyond the breaking point, entering the realm of self parody. The specter of Keith Olberman actually talking about the “phallic symbols” in McCain’s “Celebrity” ad bordered on the surreal.  And David Gergen laughably referred to ”coded signals” in the “The One” ad by solemnly informing us that Moses was actually code for “uppity.”  It was like a logic sickness gripped many Obama surrogates who were examining these ads sometimes frame by frame to glean the last ounce of race baiting from them. Needless to say, their revelations were given short shrift by the American people.

It seems likely that the Obama camp will not pull the race card any time soon when the McCain campaign is in the process of ridiculing him.

Indeed, McCain seems disinclined to change his strategy. By attacking what is perceived as their opponent’s strengths, they are whittling away at the Obama mystique while the media plays into their hands and spreads the message far beyond any ad buys the campaign makes. The McCain campaign’s most recent target is Obama’s speaking ability:

John McCain is mocking the oratorical gifts of Barack Obama, recommending that he “should consider someone with a knack for brevity and directness, to balance the ticket.”

“Taking in my opponent’s performances is a little like watching a big summer blockbuster,” McCain sneers in his weekly radio address, “and an hour in, realizing that all the best scenes were in the trailer you saw last fall.”

Obama delivered the Democrats’ officials radio address Saturday, mentioning “Sen. McCain” four times during a policy remarks about Iraq and balancing the budget. McCain snarks at Obama 10 times in his own address.

McCain’s gibe about a less windy running mate is part of a continuing effort by the Republican’s presidential campaign to turn Obama’s strengths against him.

Obama is popular with younger voters, and Americans usually vote for the more likable presidential candidate. So using political jujitsu, McCain used TV ads to portray his opponent as an air-headed celebrity more in the mold of Paris Hilton than commander in chief.

The danger with this line of attack is that everyone knows Obama can deliver a great speech and mocking one of his obvious gifts could redound to McCain’s disadvantage if it is seen he is being churlish or envious rather than making the point that delivering a great speech while actually saying something relevant and important are two different things. It’s a good point but McCain leaves himself open to counter thrusts by Obama. The candidate will speak before 70,000 people in Denver in what will be one of the more dramatic political scenes in many years. It is hard to see how McCain can make the same claims about Obama’s speeches after the voter sees so many people screaming their delight and the commentators no doubt falling all over themselves in trying to outdo one another in singing the speech’s praises.

Bob Dole had much the same problem in 1996 when running for president. Dole’s biting wit could cross the line at times and rather than being funny, his barbs could be cruel and sound unfeeling, attacking not just Clinton but his supporters as well. He was going to lose anyway so you can’t say this tactic necessarily lost him the election but there is no doubt that at his worst, Dole didn’t help himself when it came to his use of sarcasm and ridicule.

Not so Ronald Reagan. Perhaps it was his genial personality or his gentle delivery that smoothed the rough edges of his ridicule but, to take one example, his famous line delivered when confronted by anti-war protestors holding up signs saying “Make Love, Not War” and Reagan quipping “They didn’t appear they could either” drew laughs from his opponents as well. Reagan, like Lincoln, used humor sparingly but effectively. And it was used to make a valid point, not gratuitously simply to score points against an opponent.

How long McCain can continue to ridicule Obama probably depends on how much fodder the Democrat gives his ad people to use. Are we ready for a more humble, less pretentious Obama? Somehow, I don’t think he has it in him to think of himself as anything less than how he sees himself now.

  

By: Rick Moran at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (23)

8/11/2008
GEORGIA ON MY MIND
CATEGORY: Caucasus

I am not an expert on the Caucasus but I play one on my blog.

Actually, even though the above is true, I am blessed with two gifts that allow me to comment on just about any earth shaking crisis that blows up. First, I can read. This allows me the luxury of being able to write intelligently on just about anything that piques my curiosity. Secondly - a and more importantly - I can read a map. This is really cool because in any military confrontation like this, both sides are looking at pretty much the same map you are. No need to guess what sources they are using for information. Hence, both Vladamir Putin and President Saakashvili of Georgia are looking at the map, looking at troop deployments, looking at the Russian advance, and are making their decisions based on how those little flags are being maneuvered around.

And in Saakashvili’s case, he is starting to realize that using his military to affect the re-unification with South Ossetia and Abkhazia - the two breakaway Georgian provinces at the heart of the conflict - was a huge mistake.

Did Saakashvili believe that by provoking Russia in South Ossetia that NATO would come to his aid and solve his reunification problems for him? At the very least, he miscalculated Putin’s overwhelming response. As I write this, Russian troops are moving out of South Ossetia into Georgia proper in what can only be called an invasion. Their strategic goals are several and complex but elegantly constructed.

Follow along with the map and look inside the mind of Putin: (HT: Belmont Club)

caucasus_region.jpg
(Click to enlarge)

Russian troops seem to be aiming for the town of Gori which sits astride vital highway and rail links to the capitol Tiblisi. If the Russians can take Gori, they essentially have split Georgia in two with both break away provinces safe and secure in Moscow’s hands. The Georgians know this which is why they will likely defend Gori with everything they have.

Meanwhile, the Russians have also begun an attack out of Abkhazia apparently aimed at Georgia’s vital back door - seaports on the Black Sea where the country receives about 85% of its wheat and also is the hub of its lucrative oil and gas industry.

The Georgians have evidently completely evacuated South Ossetia, suffering a humiliating defeat in Tskhinvali. Richard Fernandez explains the significance:

The most important development is that the Georgians have been driven from Tskhinvali, though it is not clear whether they have given up all positions on the surrounding high ground. Tskhinvali is the “cork in the bottle” leading from the Caucasus passes to the long plain that runs west to east across Georgia. Sky News now says the Georgians are falling back on Gori, which is the key to keeping Georgia intact. If Gori falls, Georgia will be cut in half with Tbilisi to the east and the Black Sea ports to the West. On the map at least, the battle for Gori will be the battle for Georgia.

Whether or not the Russians move on Gori depends on Moscow and international power politics. In my opinion, while it may take a while for the Russians to bring up enough force through their tenuous road link back across the Caucasus, they will eventually be able to marshal enough force to take the Georgian positions. The clock is ticking. Reuters reports the Georgians saying they will fight for positions around Gori.

Gori then is not only the key to Georgia, it will be a signpost as to just what Russian intentions in this conflict are. The New York Times is reporting that Russia is seeking nothing less than regime change in Georgia:

Russia expanded its attacks on Georgia on Sunday, moving tanks and troops through the separatist enclave of South Ossetia and advancing toward the city of Gori in central Georgia, in its first direct assault on a Georgian city with ground forces during three days of heavy fighting, Georgian officials said.

The maneuver — along with bombing of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi — seemed to suggest that Russia’s aims in the conflict had gone beyond securing the pro-Russian enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to weakening the armed forces of Georgia, a former Soviet republic and an ally of the United States whose Western leanings have long irritated the Kremlin.

Russia’s moves, which came after Georgia offered a cease-fire and said it had pulled its troops out of South Ossetia, caused widespread international alarm and anger and set the stage for an intense diplomatic confrontation with the United States.

Two senior Western officials said that it was unclear whether Russia intended a full invasion of Georgia, but that its aims could go as far as destroying its armed forces or overthrowing Georgia’s pro-Western president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

“They seem to have gone beyond the logical stopping point,” one senior Western diplomat said, speaking anonymously under normal diplomatic protocol.

And yes children, we are powerless to stop it.

Russia has Georgia by the short hairs and can thumb its nose at the international community. Putin will prove the impotence of the United Nations once again (as if it matters to the legions of idiot enablers who still think the UN a place where grown ups solve the world’s problems) and, if he really wants to stick it to us, will engineer the overthrow of the pro western, pro-American Saakashvili and replace him with a toady. That would be as big a humiliation for the United States as was ever planned by the American left in Iraq.

Think of it; our closest and most valued ally in a region of the world that not only is strategically vital due to its oil and gas reserves but also serves as the backdoor to the Persian Gulf and Iran being summarily dismissed by Putin as if he were a grocery store clerk caught stealing a candy bar. What enormous satisfaction for Putin who has been chafing at the bit to assert Russian dominance in the region once again. Watching our impotent response to events in Georgia are other states in the Caucasus as well including the Ukraine which has its own issues with Moscow and could very well be next on Putin’s list.

Are we making too much of this incursion by the Russians?

Robert Kagan:

This war did not begin because of a miscalculation by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. It is a war that Moscow has been attempting to provoke for some time. The man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century” has reestablished a virtual czarist rule in Russia and is trying to restore the country to its once-dominant role in Eurasia and the world. Armed with wealth from oil and gas; holding a near-monopoly over the energy supply to Europe; with a million soldiers, thousands of nuclear warheads and the world’s third-largest military budget, Vladimir Putin believes that now is the time to make his move.

Georgia’s unhappy fate is that it borders a new geopolitical fault line that runs along the western and southwestern frontiers of Russia. From the Baltics in the north through Central Europe and the Balkans to the Caucasus and Central Asia, a geopolitical power struggle has emerged between a resurgent and revanchist Russia on one side and the European Union and the United States on the other.

Putin’s aggression against Georgia should not be traced only to its NATO aspirations or his pique at Kosovo’s independence. It is primarily a response to the “color revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia in 2003 and 2004, when pro-Western governments replaced pro-Russian ones. What the West celebrated as a flowering of democracy the autocratic Putin saw as geopolitical and ideological encirclement.

[snip]

Historians will come to view Aug. 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia’s attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th-century style of great-power competition, complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory, and even — though it shocks our 21st-century sensibilities — the use of military power to obtain geopolitical objectives. Yes, we will continue to have globalization, economic interdependence, the European Union and other efforts to build a more perfect international order. But these will compete with and at times be overwhelmed by the harsh realities of international life that have endured since time immemorial. The next president had better be ready.

That’s from the neo-con right - a not unexpected analysis and perhaps Kagan is being overly dramatic by comparing August 8 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. But there is absolutely no doubt that a fundamental change has been wrought by this Russian action - especially if they keep up the attack on Georgia and affect regime change.

From the center-left, Zbigniew Brzezinski from an interview at Huffpo:

Fundamentally at stake is what kind of role Russia will play in the new international system. Unfortunately, Putin is putting Russia on a course that is ominously similar to Stalin’s and Hitler’s in the late 1930s. Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has correctly drawn an analogy between Putin’s “justification” for dismembering Georgia — because of the Russians in South Ossetia — to Hitler’s tactics vis a vis Czechoslovakia to “free” the Sudeten Deutsch.

Even more ominous is the analogy of what Putin is doing vis-a-vis Georgia to what Stalin did vis-a-vis Finland: subverting by use of force the sovereignty of a small democratic neighbor. In effect, morally and strategically, Georgia is the Finland of our day

The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin’s control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/ Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.

In brief, the stakes are very significant. At stake is access to oil as that resource grows ever more scarce and expensive and how a major power conducts itself in our newly interdependent world, conduct that should be based on accommodation and consensus, not on brute force.

If Georgia is subverted, not only will the West be cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. We can logically anticipate that Putin, if not resisted, will use the same tactics toward the Ukraine. Putin has already made public threats against Ukraine.

Bush can publicly jawbone and try and embarrass Putin but that is the extent of what the US is capable of doing in stopping Russia from doing whatever it wishes. The Russian strongman (who has made the presidency of Dmitri Medvedev a joke by assuming control of the military and foreign policy of Russia - portfolios that are supposed to belong to the president) cares little for international opinion although foreign investment in Russia could be drastically curtailed if he goes to far and the US and Western Europe get their way. Kicking Russia out of the G-8 would be another “punishment” that Putin would sneer at.

What we need to do is elect Barack Obama president. He can go to Moscow and sing his song of hope and change, thus soothing the savage heart that beats in Putin’s chest. No doubt Putin will take one look at Obama and realize the error of his ways and become a good citizen of the world - just like Obama. At least, this will be the line from the left. Liberals are already telling us that this is all George Bush’s fault, that we never should have recognized the independence of Kosovo, that we never should have supported Saakashvili in his efforts to remain independent of Moscow, that we never should have trained the Georgian military so that they could deploy to Iraq and resist possible aggression from Russia, that we shouldn’t have 1000 advisors in Georgia helping with everything from democracy building to re-ordering the Georgian military establishment.

In short, when it comes to helping an ally, the left’s response is “Let ‘em hang.”

We were in Georgia for reasons so painfully obvious that even the romper room set on the left should be able to understand it. And we weren’t “going it alone” either. The effort to help Georgia was multi-lateral with advisors from NATO in country as well. If we can’t aid countries that ask for our assistance, that support our foreign policy objectives, and whose leadership and people reach out to us in friendship and comity then who the hell are we supposed to help?

Pardon me for my detour into liberal bashing but I am sick and tired of these vultures emerging when anything untoward happens in the world and blaming the crisis and/or the result on Bush. It is madness. The president may have proved his incompetence and stupidity in any number of areas but to blame all the evil of the world on him and America is ludicrous and shows a decided unseriousness by those on the left who insist on engaging in this ridiculous parlor game.

Bush could sneeze in Beijing and a typhoon that hits Bangladesh is his fault according to this kind of “logic.” Our support and assistance to Georgia and other nations in the Caucasus is ordered by itself and self-evidently in our vital interest. We should make no apologies for our Georgian policy. Anyone who thinks Putin needed our closeness to Saakashvili as an excuse to carry out the kind of aggression he is engaged in now - aggression which has gone far beyond any reasonable response to Georgian attacks on South Ossetia - hasn’t been following Putin’s career or the Russian prime minister’s single minded lust for power and prestige.

All we can do is pick up the pieces after this is over. The only sure thing is that Moscow will be in a much stronger position and we, a much weaker one.

By: Rick Moran at 8:18 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (47)

8/9/2008
A SPLENDID LITTLE WAR

We are dealing with absolutely criminal and crazy acts of irresponsible and reckless decision makers, which is on the ground producing dramatic and tragic consequences.” - Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili

Well, that’s one way to describe Vladmir Putin’s naked power grab against Georgia. “Criminal and crazy” certainly fits the Russian prime minister to a “T.” But methinks there may be a method to Putin’s madness.

Putin covets South Ossetia as a way to block western influence in the Caucasus. He also needs the breakaway province as a staging area for his war of nerves with Georgia and its democracy championing president Mikhail Saakashvili. Putin sees Saakashvili as a threat to his iron hold on the caucuses and resents the Georgian president’s attempts to join NATO.

The fog of war is particularly thick since communications are bad to begin with and made worse by the Russians apparently targeting communications hubs. Just how bad things are is anyone’s guess:

Shota Utiashvili, an official at the Georgian Interior Ministry, called the attack on Gori a “major escalation,” and said he expected attacks to increase over the course of Saturday. He said some 16 Russian planes were in the air over Georgian territory at any given time on Saturday, four times the number of sorties seen Friday.

In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, wounded fighters and civilians began to arrive in hospitals, most with shrapnel or mortar wounds. Several dozen names had been posted outside the hospital.

In a news conference, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Georgian attacks on Russian citizens “amounted to ethnic cleansing.”

Mr. Lavrov said Russian airstrikes targeted military staging grounds. Asked whether Russia is prepared to fight “all-out war” in Georgia, he said: “No. Georgia, I believe, started a war in Southern Ossetia, and we are responsible to keep the peace.”

Actually, there has been a low level conflict in South Ossetia since the province broke away with Russian help in the early 90’s. At that time, Russian “peacekeepers” moved in to, in effect, maintain the status quo. Then, in 2004, Saakashvili was elected on a pro-democracy, nationalistic platform promising to reunite with both South Ossetia and another break away province Abkhazia.

Putin, who appears unstable at times, was reported to have had a carpet chewing episode a la Hitler when he heard of Saakashvili’s election - especially since his hand picked candidate got creamed. He vowed not to give up South Ossetia and has tried to kick Georgia out of the province ever since.

This latest round of trouble occurred when several Georgian policemen were killed by a roadside bomb. Georgia responded by lobbing some mortar rounds into a South Ossetian separatist military enclave and Putin (who is in Beijing himself) seeing the world’s attention on China at the moment, decided to launch what is either going to be a punitive raid or perhaps the big enchilada - full scale military invasion of Georgia. At the moment, anything could happen.

One bit of comic relief has been supplied by the man elected President of Russia who is supposed to be in charge of the army and foreign affairs but who apparently was either kept out of the loop or isn’t calling the shots. If anyone needed any proof who is really running the show in Russia, this military action should dispel all doubts:

The conflict in Georgia also appeared to suggest the limits of the power of President Dmitri A. Medvedev, Mr. Putin’s hand-picked successor. During the day, it was Mr. Putin’s stern statements from China, where he was visiting the opening of the Olympic Games, that appeared to define Russia’s position.

But Mr. Medvedev made a public statement as well, making it unclear who was directing Russia’s military operations. Officially, that authority rests with Mr. Medvedev, and foreign policy is outside Mr. Putin’s portfolio.

“The war in Ossetia instantly showed the idiocy of our state management,” said a commentator on the liberal radio station, Ekho Moskvy. “Who is in charge - Putin or Medvedev?”

Putin should stop the charade and just name himself emperor. Or Czar.

Of concern to the west is not only the independence of a democratic Georgia, but also a good chunk of western Europe’s oil supply. The Caspian ports from where that oil is shipped are in danger of being bombed at any time and any interruption in supply will cause the price of oil to reverse its current downward trend and rocket back up into the stratosphere.

On top of all this is the need for Putin to maintain contact with his friends in Tehran. The Caucasus are the back door to the Persian Gulf  and have historically been a vital crossroads in playing “The Great Game” of big powers seeking to control the region where smuggling routes over the years for everything from drugs to blue jeans have meant fabulous profits for those on top. A continuing NATO presence in Georgia threatens Putin’s lines of communication with Iran which is just one more reason for Putin’s bluster in the region.

Chances are this conflict will die down quickly. Georgia can’t afford to go to war with Russia and Putin would rather burrow from within when it comes to taking down Saakashvili. But the real chances for peace lie with the South Ossetia separatists. And they have their own agenda they are following at the moment.

By: Rick Moran at 10:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

8/8/2008
‘LEAVE BARACK ALONE!’

This very well may be the funniest, the most disturbing, the most outrageous video ever seen in a presidential campaign.

It’s a joke, of course - what Slate V imagines would be a viral video response to a McCain attack ad. But it captures the essence of what our friends at Maggie’s Farm refer to as “a typical Obama supporter” - emotional, juvenile, stunted intellectually, and oblivious to the realities of politics. These are the screamers, the swooners, the goo goo eyed 20-somethings who get their news from “The Daily Show” and Letterman and who are supporting Obama frankly because they don’t know any better. They wonder why we have to have arguements about politics, actually believing that everyone should think the same way as they do about all the issues. They are dangerous because they can easily be manipulated into supporting just about anything Obama wants to do.

And there are millions of them.

This is not a majority of Obama supporters. But it is a significant portion of them. And if that doesn’t chill your bones, nothing will.

By: Rick Moran at 12:22 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)

OBAMA IS SO RIGHT…AND SO WRONG

Barack Obama has given us several real doozies in this campaign. Some of his utterances have been notable for their gooey vacuousness - harmless tufts of rhetorical fluff that cause his disciples to swoon but initiates the gag reflex in the rest of us. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” may draw huge applause and chants of “O-Ba-Ma, O-Ba-Ma” but forces the rest of us to listen to his speeches on an empty stomach lest our most recent repast make an unwelcome appearance in the form of industrial sized chunks of barely digested Cheeto’s.

Recently, Obama tried to explain why he is running for president to a seven year old kid at a town hall meeting. This is a question any presidential candidate worth his salt should be able to tee up, take a mighty swing, and hit the ball out of the park. Even a Democrat should be able to muster the appropriate patriotic bombast and teary-eyed evocation of how much he loves this country and wishes to make it better.

Not our Barack. Forget the bombast. Forget love of country. Let’s just say America sucks and if you want it to be less sucky, elect me:

At a campaign stop in Elkhart, Indiana, a seven-year-old girl asked the Democrat why he wants to be President — and he told her that America has gone downhill:

“America is …, uh, is no longer, uh … what it could be, what it once was. And I say to myself, I don’t want that future for my children.”

Of course, as Ed Morrissey points out, we have heard similar deep thoughts from Michelle Obama as well.

The problem is Obama’s incoherence. Is he saying that America is not what it could be? This is standard lefty grist that illustrates their definition of patriotism. Extrapolate out from that thought and you get the “highest form of patriotism,” according to the left - dissent. In order to improve America you must dissent from what is, in order to achieve what should be. I have written of this definitional difference of patriotism between the right and left and Obama himself has spoken of it on more than one occasion.

But Obama slips in an entirely different thought; that America is “not as it once was.” This goes far beyond holding America responsible for its promises of equal opportunity for all and equal justice under the law. In fact, Obama demonstrates an extraordinarily lack of understanding of what America is all about. Of course we’re a different nation today than we were 10 years ago or 50 or 100 years in the past. America was designed that way. It was the Founder’s intent that America re-invent itself at the drop of a hat to reflect changing realities.

Prior to America coming into being, the only way that could occur was through bloody revolution. We have revolt built into our system of government as every four years, we have the opportunity to alter course 180 degrees or, in rarer cases, strike out in a new direction entirely.

This is the essence of America and it is revealing that Obama is disappointed that we have changed. But let’s forget Obama’s ignorance for a moment and look closer at just what kind of country we have today compared to the one that I grew up in.

I use my own life experience as a yardstick because it was roughly 40-50 years ago and that seems a sufficiently long period to contrast the America of today with the America of yesterday in order to judge whether Obama’s critique holds water.

First, allow me to interpret what Obama finds so horrible about today’s America.

* Health care costs are out of control and people can’t afford health insurance.

* The middle class is disappearing as wages have failed to keep up with inflation and real earnings have been dropping steadily (this has been happening since the 1970’s but for the purposes of Obama’s critique, let’s pretend it’s George Bush’s fault).

* Our industrial base is eroding. We are losing thousands of jobs every month to outsourcing and foreign competition.

* The world is warming up and we’re not doing anything to stop it.

* Housing is a mess thanks to the mortgage crisis.

* We have lost respect and no one in the world loves us because we act in a unilateral way on the world stage and pay no attention to the sensibilities of the rest of the world.

I would say that is a pretty fair partial rendering of what Obama thinks is wrong with America today. To draw a complete picture would require a surface the size of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Obama is very fond of telling people that this is the most important election in his lifetime which may be one of the bigger exaggerations of his campaign. Perhaps he means it’s important because he’s in it. If he means the 2008 election is more important than 1968, 1972, or 1980 contests, he is full of it. I would even throw in 1964 if only because it handed the left it’s biggest victory and gave LBJ a mandate to create the welfare state in earnest.

But the question is, to which point does Obama want to return in American history that would secure his children’s future? Where in the past would Obama take us that would make us better than we are today?

The very nature of his campaign destroys his rationale as Ed Morrissey points out:

Everyone feels that we can improve ourselves, but we don’t usually cast it in terms of the country no longer being what it once was. Coming from the Obamas, that doesn’t even make sense. They have talked about how difficult it was to break through barriers, not without some justification, to reach this point in their lives and American history.

Doesn’t that speak to the point that we continue to grow and to learn? And if not, which “good old days” did Obama mean? The 1980s? I doubt it, and if he means the Clinton era, then why did he run against Hillary in the first place?

Once again, Obama got off the teleprompter and put his foot directly in his mouth. He’s not selling Hope, he’s selling Despair, and himself as the snake oil that will cure us of all our ills.

The problem in returning to an America that once was is that the very idea of doing so is a chimera, a dream imagined only by those who fail to grasp the dynamism of the American experiment and how changes made in the past continue to mold and shape America today.

Yes we could return to a time when there was no health insurance crisis. There was a time where virtually every working American got their health insurance through their employer. But that world no longer exists, replaced by an extraordinary revolution in medicine that has allowed us to live a decade or more longer while also seeing government crowd out private insurance carriers by an ever more intrusive presence in the health insurance field. And that 1950’s world would also see Mr. Obama’s opportunities for the kind of life he leads now shrivel to damn near nothingness because of the color of his skin.

And yes, we could travel back to a time when unions were very strong and the pay of average Americans had no problem growing far beyond the cost of living. But that world was one still recovering from World War II with all of our major competitors today still rebuilding from that devastating conflict. Where a kid out of high school in Allentown, PA could be assured of a job at the plant and as long as he punched in and out, stayed out of trouble, and worked hard, he could expect a comfortable, middle class existence.

Those days are long gone never to return. The period from 1946-66 was an historical anomaly, a quirk, a hiccup on the historical timeline. Our industries weren’t just dominant. They were “it.” If a European wanted a car, chances are he bought a Ford or GM product rather than wait 2 years for a Euro-mobile. American steel, rubber, machine tools, and anything else manufactured in the US was in high demand around the world because no one was making them better or cheaper.

The reasons why that is no longer so speaks to our enormous success in remaking the world after the war rather than any intrinsic superiority in the way government worked at that time. How does Obama intend to bring them back? Limits on executive pay? Mandatory unionism? Maybe a well placed nuke or two to recreate the utter devastation in Germany, France, England, Japan, and the rest of the world that took a decade and more for them to recover?

Global warming? As long as we play lapdog for the Europeans on this issue and ignore the fact that China will be doing nothing to refrain from pouring carbon into the atmosphere as fast as their coal burning industries can shovel it, what good will it do? We’ve already cut our carbon emissions more than the Europeans over the last decade.

The America that once was had its good points and bad points. The changes that have been wrought have had mixed results as well. The bi-polar world has been replaced by, well, us. Europeans like to talk about “soft power” thus making the planet into something approaching rough equality. But I ask you, when Ahmadinejad, Assad, Kim Jung, Il, and a half dozen other thugs hit their knees every night to pray to their God, are they praying to be spared the wrath of Euro soft power or a visit from an F-117 carrying a bomb with their name on it? I rest my case.

Obama is right that America is “not what it could be.” But he is dead wrong to imagine he can take us back to an America that “once was.” America never looks back. And more than any other people - sometimes to our detriment - our people look to the future. The past is erased, trampled by our headlong rush to meet what will be. The present is just a way station, a temporary stop where we catch our breath before continuing that mad dash to create what is now without regard to what happened before.

“It is good to be shifty in a new country,” was actually an adage taught to school children at one time. It spoke to the fact that America has rolled forward like a steamroller, grinding the past underfoot and recreating itself on a regular basis. I have no doubt that the 2008 election will give us that opportunity to invent a new future for ourselves.

Just as long as we elect a president who understands this essential truth that has defined America for more than 200 years.

By: Rick Moran at 8:49 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

8/7/2008
HILLARY EMERGES FROM THE SHADOWS

Three weeks out from the Democratic convention and Hillary Clinton is slowly emerging from her self-imposed summer hibernation to haunt the party with the prospect that she will at the very least, horn in on some of the presumptive nominee’s glory just by her presence in Denver.

Was her low profile the result of her licking the psychic wounds of being defeated for the nomination? Previous losers have indicated as much and we have no reason to doubt that Clinton was using the time between the end of the primaries and just recently to decompress from the brutal campaign and reflect on the future.

But there are some who believe she still harbors hopes that she can stampede the convention and steal the nomination from Obama right from under his nose. It certainly would make for dramatic TV if such a scenario were to unfold but frankly, the idea that Hillary Clinton would cleave the Democratic party in two, alienate millions of African American voters, destroy her position in the party, and possibly cause the loss of the election - all on national TV - is a fantasy. The party pros - Superdelegates - simply will not allow that to happen given the probable fallout for down ticket races. The pros may have serious doubts about Obama at this late stage but getting rid of him won’t solve any problems and will create even bigger ones.

The party - for better or worse - is stuck with Barack Obama as its nominee and they will win or lose with him in November - period.

This reality hasn’t stopped some bitter end Hillary supporters from dreaming there is still a chance to sway the Superdelegates, trying to convince them to abstain from voting on the first ballot in order to deny Obama a quick victory. This is the fantasy imagined by the cheeky group of Democrats who have coalesced under the banner PUMA (”Party Unity My Ass”). Every rumor of a wavering Superdelegate or hint that there are doubts among convention goers is latched on to with the fervor of the true believer, no matter how improbable or false the information might be.

However, facts are facts. Obama and the Democratic establishment have taken ironclad control of the proceedings in Denver and will do everything in their power to make sure that on the surface at least, the party is united behind the nominee. Any attempted coup or attempted coup will be brutally suppressed.

But even though these Hillaryites don’t have a ghost of a chance in overturning the nomination of Obama, that doesn’t mean they can’t cause loads of trouble for the nominee in Denver - especially if they get anywhere near a microphone. And I will guarantee you that every network and reporter covering the Democratic Convention in Denver will actively seek out the grumblers, the apostates, the bitter enders for Hillary, and any other delegates who will offer a dramatic counterpoint to the lovefest offered up by the Obama campaign. The nominee may control the floor. But he and his people have absolutely no say in what goes out over the airwaves. And since conventions aren’t “news” in the true sense of the word but rather “entertainment,” networks will seek out controversy in order to offer “drama” to the viewer.

(Don’t worry, Democrats. They will do the same thing at the GOP Convention a few days later as they seek out disappointed and disenchanted conservatives to speak against McCain.)

Given this dynamic - something the Obama camp is fully aware - what role can Hillary Clinton play in this soap opera? The two sides are currently engaged in a delicate dance of negotiations on just what the former First Lady can do to help the party without overshadowing the entire event:

The New York Daily News reported Friday that Clinton has decided not to submit a signed request to the DNC to have her name put into nomination; party rules require such a move for a candidate to be voted on.

But Clinton aides continue to say publicly that such details are still being discussed in consultations among the Clinton camp, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

“No decisions have been made,” Clinton spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said.

“Sen. Clinton is 100 percent committed to helping Barack Obama become the next president of the United States,” Strand added. “She is very appreciative of the continued commitment of her supporters and understands there are passionate feelings around the convention. While no decisions have been made at this time, they will be made collaboratively with Sen. Clinton and her staff, the DNC and Sen. Obama’s campaign and released at the appropriate time.”

Even many Clinton supporters think that offering her name up for the nomination is a bad idea. Lanny Davis thinks it would be “idiotic” and only serve to remind voters of the deep divisions in the party. But the fact that we are three weeks out and those divisions show little sign of healing, gives Hillary an enormous amount of leverage. Talk now is of making her the Keynote Speaker - a plum that might go a long way toward at least healing some of the rifts between the two camps.

The Obama campaign’s “Operation United Party” has had mixed success since the primaries ended in June. The realists like Taylor Marsh and a few other prominent netroots activists have gotten aboard, offering their full support to the presumptive nominee. But there is still stubborn resistance from many who are holding a grudge against Obama and his people. This feeling of resentment extends from the top of the Democratic party down to the base. Here’s Clinton at a recent fundraiser:

“For so many of my supporters, just like so many of Barack’s supporters, this was a first-time investment of heart and soul and money and effort and sleepless nights and miles of travel,” Clinton said. “You just don’t turn it off like that.”

Whenever she has appeared in public in the last fortnight - appearances notable for their low key, almost private nature - Hillary Clinton has gotten huge applause whenever she alludes to the loyalty of her supporters and how difficult it is to transfer those feelings to another candidate. At this same fundraiser, she got a loud ovation when she hinted that she wouldn’t mind if her name was placed in nomination but she would not actively seek it.

This puts the Obama camp in a huge bind. The convention is supposed to be about him, about his achievements. Placing Clinton’s name in nomination and then allowing her delegates to vote for her would distract from the narrative the campaign is trying to construct for the TV audience. Not doing so, however, might instigate a backlash against him that would prove just as embarrassing.

Obama can’t hide Hillary any more than he can try and make her glory seeking husband disappear. Here’s a description of an interview with Bill Clinton that is important for what he didn’t say as much as it was for the tepid, niggardly endorsement he gave the nominee:

Bill Clinton’s resentment came through in an interview with ABC News during his recent trip to Africa. Asked what regrets he might have about his role in his wife’s campaign, he bristled and then shot back, “I am not a racist. I never made a racist comment.” He struggled to render a positive comment about Obama’s qualifications for his old job. “You could argue that nobody is ever ready to be President,” Clinton said. “You could argue that even if you’ve been Vice President for eight years, that no one can ever be fully ready for the pressures of the office.” Pressed again, he responded with an endorsement that could hardly have been a weaker cup of tea: “I never said he wasn’t qualified. The Constitution sets qualification for the President. And then the people decide who they think would be the better President. I think we have two choices. I think he should win, and I think he will win.”

Not exactly a clarion call to storm the battlements for Obama that’s for sure.

With the press eager to jump on every sign of disunity, with a former candidate whose supporters think she deserves her moment in the sun, with a former president probably secretly wishing that he loses in November, and with his poll numbers stagnating or dropping, Barack Obama faces the greatest challenge to his leadership of the party and his chances for victory in November in Denver three weeks from now.

How he handles these problems will no doubt affect the decision of the American people when they go to the polls in November.

By: Rick Moran at 8:27 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

8/6/2008
HERE’S TO A SAFE, TERROR FREE, OLYMPICS THAT’S A SPECTACULAR FAILURE
CATEGORY: Olympics

How badly do you want all of the major actors in the Olympic farce to fall flat on their faces over the next fortnight?

No terror attacks, of course - that would be tragedy. Rather, I wish for nothing but the worst for the Chinese government, the International Olympic Committee, NBC, and the insufferably arrogant International Olympic “movement” that touts the games as proof that rather than being “Killer Angels,” mankind is, in fact, capable of playing nice with each other.

Never mind that every single sport (or nearly all of them) have a World Championship every couple of years or so where athletes and gamers from all over the world come together and have a gay old time without anyone calling out the tanks. The winners are feted just as gloriously at these championships. They get to stand on podiums and hear their national anthems played. The difference is that NBC usually isn’t there pawing at you for a vacuous interview as some blow dried bimbo asks you how it feels to lose your race, coming within two tenths of a second of winning a gold medal thus making you immortal.

Cut the “brotherhood of man” crap. The prune faced, super rich, superannuated fossils that run the International Olympic Committee are laughing all the way to the bank because once again, they believe they have put one over on the rest of us. The IOC has been using the “peace, love, dope” angle - with all of us being the dope - for 100 years and have cleaned up royally. We’re talking about revenue greater than that for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association combined. That’s $4 billion in ticket sales, broadcast rights, T-Shirts, and toilet seat covers. And that doesn’t include the various country’s individual Olympic committees. The Olympic logo itself is one of the more valuable trademarks on the planet.

It used to be that only “amateurs” were allowed to compete in the Games. That was always a questionable proposition because even before the eastern bloc countries made a mockery of the term, plenty of western athletes were getting money under the table from nationalist boosters in their own countries.

Now, they make no bones about it at all. Track and field athletes get appearance fees and huge bonuses for medals from their sponsors. And if you don’t have a sponsor (or play professionally in sports like tennis, baseball, basketball, or soccer) American corporations have hired hundreds of world class athletes, given them make-work jobs that they get paid a salary even if they only show up to collect a paycheck.

In the end, we aped the commie bloc to build an Olympic team second to none.

The Games begin on August 8th with an opening ceremony that we are told will outdo in regimentation, and lockstep, mindless, slavish, robotic grandiosity the catatonic crowds at a Kim Jung Il birthday celebration in a North Korean stadium. No one does government mandated fun quite like the commies. And while in the stands, when you’re told to hold up that flash card by God you better thrust that piece of cardboard skyward with all your enthusiasm or else. But woe betide the luckless card chucker if they accidentally turn the wrong side of the card to the front! I’m sure the Chicoms have some suitably draconian punishment for fouling up the massive display of military precision in flash card propaganda.

The theme of this Olympics is going to be “One World. One Dream” which, by definition, begs the question of whose “dream” we are talking about. I doubt very much whether there is much room in there for the “dream” of individual liberty: More like the nightmare of communist control. But that’s okay. The massive display of citizen coordination and participation by the Chicoms at the opening ceremonies will no doubt impress the lame brained among us.

And the world will marvel at how far these clever Chinamen have come since the days of Mao and Chou en-Lai when regimented displays like this were reserved for marching off to the fields in forced labor battalions in order to bring about another non-”Miracle” of Chinese agriculture.

This is why I wish the Chinese government ill in their efforts to portray their prison in a positive light. Hopefully, Mother Nature and the bureaucratic stupidity of the communist state will help that process along. Already, the Chinese are taking desperate measures to rid the city of Beijing of pollution that would lead to the cancellation of events like the Marathon and the longer endurance events. They have “seeded” the air with pellets that are supposed to disperse the choking smog - with mixed results.

Failing that, why not just deny that the pollution exists at all, that all that coughing, phlegm expelling air is really just fine - just a little humidity that’s all:

As Beijing’s polluted air came close to exceeding levels even the Chinese consider dangerous yesterday, one of the International Olympic Committee’s most senior figures dismissed the yellow-grey haze that periodically hangs over the city as mist, and blamed the media for overstating pollution problems.

Air quality in Beijing remains a big cause for concern three days before the start of the games. Members of the US athletics team arrived in the city wearing face masks yesterday and organisers are preparing to postpone or relocate endurance events including the marathon and road cycling if smog levels reach dangerous limits.

But yesterday Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC’s medical commission, said he was confident that pollution would not harm athletes or visitors, and suggested media coverage had created a false impression of pollution levels.

“The mist in the air that we see in those places, including here, is not a feature of pollution primarily but a feature of evaporation and humidity,” he told the IOC’s annual session. “We do have a communication problem here. Once the misconception has become sort of established in the minds of people, it’s not that easy to get the right message through.

Then there’s the delicious thought that the commies could shoot themselves in the foot by showing their true nature to the world. They’ve already told journalists which websites they can access and which are out of bounds. Now it appears they’ve really stepped in it and demonstrated why being a real journalist and living in a totalitarian state can be a painful experience:

Chinese police Tuesday apologised for roughing up two Japanese journalists as Beijing’s Olympic commitment to allow foreign media freedom came under scrutiny three days before the Games opened.
The apology came after border police “clashed” with the Japanese journalists who had arrived in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region after an alleged terrorist attack Monday left 16 police dead, Xinhua news agency said.

“The local foreign affairs department made an apology Tuesday to two Japanese reporters,” Xinhua said.

A photographer for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper was forcibly detained late Monday and kicked by police in the city of Kashgar, his employer said.

A reporter for the Nippon Television Network was also detained and treated roughly by Chinese police who pushed his face to the ground, the network said.

Obviously, Chinese police must work on their people skills. Manhandling and kicking peasants is one thing. Who are they going to complain to? But roughing up journalists is a no-no. Such news unsettles the populace and reflects badly on the state. Not that the government doesn’t approve of roughing up journalists from time to time - just as long as they’re Chinese journalists all is well.

But its not just the Chinese government and the Olympic Movement I want to see with egg all over their faces. The National Broadcasting Company paid more than $900 million for the right to broadcast from China’s workers’ paradise and are wrestling with a dilemma that no American news organization should have to think twice about; if the Chinese police start bashing heads at protests, should we cover it?

Hundreds of athletes will parade into a stadium in front of world leaders, including President Bush, and a huge global television audience. If an athlete holds a protest sign or waves a Tibetan flag, how will the Chinese hosts react? Will the television networks show the scene? How will the Chinese handle the media for the rest of the Games?

The stakes are high for both the network, which paid $900 million for broadcast rights for the Olympics, and the reputation of NBC News. If it covers any controversies aggressively, it risks drawing the ire of the Chinese and interfering with coverage of sports events. But if it shies from coverage of any protests, NBC risks being criticized in the West for kowtowing to China — particularly since its corporate parent, General Electric, is aggressively expanding its investments in China.

One thing is for sure, vows Steve Capus, the president of NBC’s news division: “If there’s news, we’re going to cover it.”

Given other stories about how NBC has been “negotiating” over covering human rights controversies, Mr. Capus may be behind the curve a bit. I have no doubt NBC news would love to cover street clashes between protestors and Chinese cops. But I am equally sure that any such coverage will be a corporate decision and Capus may find that he’s been cut off at the knees. Everyone remembers Tienanmen Square and the government pulling the plug on networks broadcasting the crackdown. Would NBC corporate risk their $900 million investment just to capture a few minutes of ugliness when their hosts demand they only cover the spectacle of sport and the glory of the new Chinese Empire?

Negotiating freedom - as some western journalists are doing with internet access - doesn’t cut it in my book. Bartering freedom of the press so that you won’t offend a host country smacks too much of grovelling. Imagine if all western journalists got together and decided they wouldn’t take any restrictions on who or what they can cover and that they should be able to access any damn webpage they want. This would leave the Chinese government with a choice; kick them out or put up with a little freedom of the press.

The helluva it is, we’re going to have to go through the same thing in a few years when the Winter Olympics are held in Russia. I’m sure Putin & Co. will put on quite a show when their time comes.

By: Rick Moran at 12:25 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

8/5/2008
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: POLITICS, ‘08

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show,, one of the most popular conservative talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

Tonight, I will welcome two sharp, intelligent, witty female bloggers to the show. Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog will join me to talk about the latest from Hugo Chavez land as well as putting her two cents in about the presidential race. Also joining me will be Sister Toldjah who will give us the benefit of her thoughts on politics as well.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

The Chat Room will open around 15 minutes before the show opens,

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 6:14 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

‘WHY OBAMA CAN’T WIN’ - CASTELLANOS

GOP heavyweight politico Alex Castellanos weighs in at, of all places, Huffington Post today with a searing post about why Obama can’t win.

First, Castellano wrestles with the question of the moment; why isn’t Obama farther ahead?

To earn the Democratic nomination, as Fred Thompson points out, Obama ran as George McGovern without the experience, a left-of-center politician who would meet unconditionally with Iran, pull us precipitously out of Iraq, prohibit new drilling for oil, and grow big government in Washington by all but a trillion dollars. In his general election TV ad debut, however, Obama pirouetted like Baryshnikov. With a commercial Mike Huckabee could have run in a Republican primary, Obama now emphasizes his commitment to strong families and heartland values, “Accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses.” In this yet unwritten chapter of his next autobiography, Obama tells us he is the candidate of “welfare to work” who supports our troops and “cut taxes for working families.” The shift in his political personae has been startling. Obama has moved right so far and so fast, he could end up McCain’s Vice-Presidential pick.

General-election Obama now billboards his doubts about affirmative action. He has embraced the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption saying, “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon…everything.” He tells his party “Democrats are not for a bigger government.” Oil drilling is a consideration. His FISA vote and abandonment of public campaign finance introduce us to an Obama of recent invention. And as he abandons his old identity for the new, breeding disenchantment among his formerly passionate left-of-center supporters and, equally, doubts among the center he courts, he risks becoming nothing at all, a candidate who is everything and nothing in the same moment.

In past campaigns, there have been extremely artful pivots to the center among candidates of both parties. Obama’s turn to the right was an unmitigated disaster. Placing himself above other politicians meant that Obama - to maintain his “authenticity” - needed to stick to his leftist principles and positions in order not to ruin his brand.

Alas, Obama could never come close to winning running on the same platform he ran on in the primaries. McGovern tried it and got slaughtered. Hence, the wild lurch to the center that confused even his most rabid acolytes, angered the left, and put off the great center of American politics who recent polls have shown moving toward McCain.

And what of McCain? The contrast is startling:

In the defining moment of his life, McCain was willing to give everything for one thing, and that one thing was his country. Contrast that with Obama, who has told America that he is “a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.” Obama is the talented salesman who seduced one state after another saying “Iowa, this is our moment,” “Virginia, this is our moment,” “Texas, this is our moment,” and then tells Europe, “people of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment.” How many times can Barack Obama sell the same moment to everyone, before he becomes Mel Brooks in “The Producers”? Who is Barack Obama? His campaign, as it reupholsters him before our eyes, says we can never know — perhaps because Barack Obama does not know himself.

Perhaps many of us have underestimated the sheer power of McCain’s life story, it’s hold on the nation and effect on the voters. Certainly, as Castellano points out, the contrast with Obama is striking in that regard. McCain’s trial by fire says something very profound, very deep about the man that is resonating with voters as they compare the two candidates. With a spectacular lack of success, the left (not the Obama campaign) has tried to paint McCain as a panderer, a flip flopper, and a man without character or conscience.

On the other hand, McCain’s attacks against Obama are biting, caustic, sarcastic, and ringing true which is why he is staying close to Obama and why, in the end, all the re-invention Obama can muster isn’t going to matter:

John McCain is a complete and well-formed man. Barack Obama is completing himself. As he moves to fit what he perceives to be a right-of-center country, he distances himself from the simple and authentic passion of a young candidate who once pledged “Change We Can Believe In.”

The major differernce between them is in the core of the two candidates; one, rock solid while the other is molten - still forming under pressure and not yet completed.

McCain could still lose badly. People are not paying much attention to the race at this point and it very well may be that when the final determination is made by the voter, they will put aside any concerns about Obama and elect him president. The GOP brand has been damaged so badly and generated so much disgust and anger that in the end, it may be too much for McCain - despite his heroic life story and the heroic effort he is making in the campaign - to overcome.

But Obama will have hurdles to overcome as well. And whether he can define himself sufficiently in the voter’s minds will go a long way toward determining his fate.

This post originally appears in The American Thinker 

By: Rick Moran at 9:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (29)