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11/27/2008
A WELCOME SABBATICAL
CATEGORY: Blogging

The blog will go dark for 4 days as I take some time off to decompress and recover my wits.

Now some of you would say I had little or no wit to begin with. I beg to differ. You must differentiate between some of my recent scribblings which, an objective observer might indeed say, were “witless” and the meandering thoughts that course through my head which pass for “wit.”

The former is a result of not having had a true day off in a very, very long time. As many of you know, I am Associate Editor at The American Thinker (where I post 5 or 6 blog posts everyday) as well as being employed as Chicago Editor of Pajamas Media. Both of those jobs are in addition to posting a daily essay on this site. The election and its aftermath gave me a case of burnout that I can only now address by taking some time off at Thanksgiving.

When doing something you love becomes a chore, you know it’s time to step back and recharge the batteries. Writing has not been any fun at all for most of this month and since I believe the last time I took a day off was probably the last time Sue and I went to Reno which was just about 2 years ago, I think I’ve earned a little R & R this weekend.

As far as the latter, I will spend most of this weekend catching up on some reading and trying to stay away from the internet except to find out what’s happening in the world. A little football, some movies (I might watch the LOTR trilogy - all special editions), and a lot of napping.

And of course, eating. I have been given permission to go off my diet (I’ve lost 48 pounds since September) and will glory in the feasting. I am too old to carouse and go out wenching but Sue has volunteered to make my stay at home more than worthwhile.

I’ll be back at it come Monday.

By: Rick Moran at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

11/26/2008
CHICKEN OR THE EGG?

Pat Ruffini was kind enough to reply to my post from yesterday where I asked how his plans to counter the left’s online advantage fit in to reform of the Republican party.

My point - either not well made or Pat chose not to respond specifically - is one of timing. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does creating this online juggernaut occur in a vacuum? Is it dependent on what the Republican party does to reform itself? Are the two goals mutually exclusive or is their some kind of symbiosis involved where the rightroots’ efforts lead to reform of the party or vice versa?

Pat referred to my “strawman” argument as one of tactics. Au contraire, mon ami. First, if by “strawman” Pat means I was deliberately misrepresenting his position, that was not my intent. If he took it that way, I’m sorry. I am 100% behind Pat’s efforts and, as an aside, believe him to be the best individual to get this idea off the ground and in motion.

Having said that, I believe there to be a disconnect in Pat’s reasoning that would be fatal to his efforts. Quoting from his response:

I would break down the three things the GOP needs to do as follows:

  • Rebuild our infrastructure. There is no question that the left has us beat online and in the new forms of alternative media. We need a strategy for addressing that. This is a main focus of Rebuild the Party but not the only one.
  • Find our message. In the absence of a new Reagan or better infrastructure, we need to find a compelling message that resonates. We need to be more centrist / more conservative. We need to focus more on social issues / fiscal issues. Etc. etc. We hear a lot of this lately. Henke has a framing for this that I like: the unifying narrative.
  • Find new leaders. Only when people have a leader they can rally behind will the movement be activated. This was certainly true of Obama.

The right answer is that we need all of the above. None of these can happen without the other. Perhaps the largest failings of the Bush years can be attributed to the fact that we had a new leader without an ideological revival at the same time.

Rick is right that new technology will be for naught if we keep spending like drunken sailors. Tactics cannot overcome structural deficits or crappy, uninspiring messaging. Good marketing cannot dress up a bad product.

“Rebuilding infrastructure” was not my impression of what The Next Right and Rebuild the party.com was all about. I thought Pat was in the business of creating a whole new ball of wax - online activism, fundraising, candidate recruitment - everything the left is now doing online as well as transplanting some of the Obama model to the right. Certainly we can piggyback some of that on an existing organizational template through the RNC or some other party department but the bulk of what must be done has to be accomplished if not in opposition to the party (do they really want 5 million people trying to tell them what to do?) then certainly independent of it.

As for the “message” or Henke’s “narrative,” that indeed, refers to tactical matters that I agree is vitally important but not relevant to my critique. And whether or not finding a “Reagan” is even possible given the nature of politics and the fact that The Gipper was a World-Historical figure who by definition comes along once in a generation or two would be an iffy proposition at best.

So is wondering about whether the chicken or the egg comes first in this reform process a question of “tactics” or is it a fundamental question regarding the viability of Pat’s ideas? By reforming the party, I think we are both talking about not only issues but structural changes as well (Pat addresses this at RTP.com by calling for RNC reform). I am not sure that the way the national party’s thinking is organized at the moment, Pat’s online ideas fit entirely in the party’s plans for the future. I’m sure they’re grateful for the efforts and would give their right arms for the kind of organization Pat is talking about but are they going to be a help or a hinderance?

So my question from yesterday about why conservatives should exert the energy to become more active before the party takes the necessary steps to reform itself both issueswise and organizationally stands. Indeed, if that question can’t be answered, it puts Pat’s entire enterprise at risk in my opinion.

By: Rick Moran at 12:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

11/25/2008
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: PICKING THE TEAM

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

Tonight, more transition talk as I welcome Ed Lasky, NewS Director of the American Thinker, Jennifer Rubin of Contentions, and Clarice Feldman for a roundtable discussion focusing on Obama’s personnel picks for his economic, foreign policy, and Department of Justice teams.

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 7:02 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

ARE THE RIGHTROOTS MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN REPUBLICAN?

Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn have a nice write up in today’s Washington Post regarding their new web effort Rebuild the Party.com. The website features a list of endorsers that constitutes a who’s who of the rightysphere as well as a plan they would like to see the GOP adopt that, includes the recruitment of 5 million new Republican online activists, reorganizing the RNC, developing a new fundraising model, and rebuilding the grass roots infrastructure of the party.

All ambitious goals to be sure. But are they achievable?

Everybody agrees the GOP must become more web savvy and that a better connection has to be made to conservatives online. Few would also argue with the notion that efforts must be made to catch up to the Democrats in online fundraising and organization. But then we have the problem with the Republican party itself and its refusal to get serious about the kinds of reforms that would make a conservative like me proud to belong once again.

If Ruffini wants me to promote candidates, raise money, and urge volunteers to work for campaigns he better put a burr under the ass of the party leadership and get them busy on changing just about everything about the organization that contributed to its defeat these last two elections. These are not just technical adjustments or changes around the edges. We are talking about fundamental alterations in people, policy, and ideology that would make the Republican party worth getting excited about again.

Republicans are about ready to fall into a couple of traps that losing parties apparently can’t avoid when the dust settles following a debacle such as they have experienced the last two election cycles. The first is the belief that the reason for being rejected by the voters is that their candidates weren’t “pure” enough ideologically and that only by pushing forward “true conservatives” can the GOP find its way back.

I don’t dispute the necessity for putting up more conservatives for office. But the idea that you can have some kind of lock step litmus tests to determine who a “true” conservative might be is nuts - and counterproductive. There are plenty of competitive congressional districts where one of those “true” conservatives would get slaughtered by most Democrats. When 70% of the country does not identify itself as “conservative,” you are deliberately setting up the GOP for defeat if you advocate only “real” conservatives receive support.

There are candidates that would be completely acceptable to the vast majority of conservatives who would fail some of the litmus tests given by the base. A party that seeks to diminish its ranks by making membership dependent on a rigid set of positions on issues is a party doomed to maintaining its minority status. The Democrats made the exact same mistake in 2000 and it cost them in 2002 and 2004.

Only when they stopped listening to people like Kos and recruited dozens of candidates that reflected the realities of their specific district did they break through in 2006 and 2008. These candidates were not hard left ideologues but much more pragmatic in their politics. That didn’t mean they were “conservative” or even “moderate.” It means they were attractive candidates with decent name recognition, well funded, well organized, and in tune with local concerns. And they wiped the floor with our guys.

The other trap the GOP appears to be springing on itself is the idea of “me-tooism.” “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” may have worked for Bugs Bunny, but to see Republicans seeking to alter the disastrous Bush/Obama policies on bailouts only by proposing less money or nibbling around the edges rather than uniting to oppose these fundamental alterations in American society only proves that the vast majority of them are not worthy of conservative support. On this, the most important issue that has come before the Congress in a generation, the GOP is failing the test.

Pat believes that changes in the party can be effected by uniting the conservative community online and forcing the GOP to make necessary alterations. I believe he is being overly optimistic. What should come first, party reform or rightroots activism? What good would all of Pat’s great ideas be if they came to fruition and the GOP was still a party of pork-loving, deficit embracing, open border hugging, lobbyist kissing corrupt hacks? Is Ruffini saying that by initiating the kind of activism he is looking for online that the party will, either naturally or by osmosis, magically reform itself into an organization that conservatives would feel justified in backing?

This, is not an insignificant point. As is stands now, the rightroots are more conservative than they are Republican. And the noises being made by many GOP officeholders are not encouraging. The transformation of our economy into some kind of quasi-socialist managed disaster is going on with barely a peep from Republicans. Yes there are some like Senator Inhofe who are trying to hold the line. But if the GOP is interested in employing the conservative online community in a bid to help the party back to power, it would be helpful if a few more congressmen and senators joined the fight, proving that they were worthy of conservative support by acting like, well, you know, conservatives.

In the end, despite the undoubted genius of Ruffini and his friends, I can’t see him making much headway until the Republican party rediscovers its fundamental philosophy and its primary purpose for existing; to elect honest and ethical candidates who espouse conservative values . Not litmus tests but rather shared principles of governance with room for disagreement and debate.

Can Ruffini’s template for conservative activism and organization goad the GOP into that kind of a reformation? I think Pat is counting on that happening. But from where I’m sitting, it would appear to be an uphill battle to motivate online conservatives to join a cause where their activism would be exploited by those who don’t share their principles or care for their opinions.

By: Rick Moran at 1:35 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

11/24/2008
REDEMPTION: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE FAMILIAR
CATEGORY: "24"

There were times last night during the showing of the 24 2 hour preview Redemption that it felt like the production team had recaptured some of the magic lost during last year’s abysmal season. Here was Jack Bauer in his element, taking on an entire squad of bad guys with just a couple of pistols and a few sticks of dynamite, blazing away, dropping his enemies with the precision of the killing machine he has proven to be over the years.

But the show lacked much in the way of suspense, was entirely predictable (who didn’t guess that once the kids started for the embassy that Jack wouldn’t trade his freedom for their asylum?), and failed to involve the audience in what should have been the emotional crux of the show; Jack’s inner turmoil about coming to grips with what he believed he was forced to do at CTU.

The short, unsatisfactory scene where Bauer discusses his wanderings since the end of Season 6 with his special forces buddy Carl Benton (played with heart and understated competence by Robert Carlyle), who runs a mission for kids orphaned in a previous genocide, didn’t reveal much as far as Jack’s motivations for running away from the Senate subpoena. In very un-Jacklike fashion, he made it known he valued his “freedom,” intimating that he didn’t want to go to jail for what he had done at CTU. Or is the real reason he is gallivanting around the globe is that he is trying to run away from his personal demons - the faces that haunt his dreams of the people he killed or tortured?

Perhaps this will be fleshed out as the season goes on - otherwise there’s a great big blank spot for Jack’s motivations.

Some may think the story line about child soldiers to be unworthy of Bauer but I found it horrific and compelling. The opening scene where the new “recruits” were drinking some kind of alcohol and forced to kill the government official was shocking and realistic.

Best of all was the portrayal of the United Nations lickspittle. Now it should be said that there are many brave, courageous UN peacekeepers and relief workers out there who have given their lives for their mission. But there are way too many Charles Solenz’s, the cowardly UN peacekeeper (played with suitable ambivalence by Sean Cameron Michael) who ends up betraying Jack and the kids. The show’s POV of the United Nations was definitely negative and definitely not PC - a pleasant surprise and one that bodes well for the rest of the season.

Jon Voigt is a good choice for Jack’s nemesis, arms dealer Jonas Hodges who, we discover in the last scene, has some very powerful friends in government as he is standing with other movers and shakers immediately prior to the inaugural. His tentacles appear to be long and deep as he not only has an in with the former administration but also apparently has cronies with the Secret Service.

Our first femal president is Allison Taylor a Hillary look-alike played by Cherry Jones, a fine character actor (she was brilliant in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs as a police officer). I don’t trust her. When the outgoing president offered her a drink, she refused on the grounds that it was “too early in the day.” A good politician knows it’s never too early for scotch.

Beyond that, she acts just as you’d expect a liberal Democrat to act. When told that we had no economic or compelling national interest in the tiny African country of Sangala she wanted to send troops anyway. Only when there is absolutely no way anyone could construe the US sending troops to a country for selfish reasons will a liberal shoulder the burden of a war. It’s counterintuitive but there you have it.

The one other character of note who will be seen when the season gets underway on January 11-12 with the usual 4 hour extravaganza is First Son Roger Taylor played with studied indifference by Eric Lively. But it’s not him that I will look forward to seeing. It is his extremely hot girlfriend Samantha portrayed by Canadian Carly Pope. The show always seems to get at least one hottie who proves to be a femme fatale. My guess is that Samantha is tied up with Hodges in one way or another.

All told, the plot of Redemption was satisfactory if not spectacular, the acting workmanlike, the production values scintillating as usual (no one blows stuff up like 24), and the African locations gave it a nice ring of authenticity. The villains appear to be suitably evil (although how I long for the truly diabolical fanaticism of Marwan, the Islamic terrorist with the nuke fetish). The idea of a female presidency doesn’t bother me even though the First Guy appears a little emasculated to me.

In short, the preview was not a disappointment but hardly a huge success. It showed us that the season has the potential for some excitement but could also tail off into a quagmire of touchy-feely, politically correct nonsense.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

By: Rick Moran at 12:59 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

OBAMA’S SENATE SEAT UP FOR GRABS
CATEGORY: PJ Media, Politics

The maneuvering began before Barack Obama was even elected president. A genuine political scramble was on as Illinois politicians great and not so great let it be known subtly and not so subtly that they wouldn’t say no if Governor Rod Blagojevich tapped them to fill out the unexpired portion of Obama’s term in the United States Senate.

There are so many issues and personalities involved in the decision-making process that the selection promises to be controversial no matter who is chosen. It would take the wisdom of Solomon to sort out the confusing, conflicting currents of race, faction, and family in order to arrive at a consensus so that the Democratic Party in Illinois doesn’t fly apart at the seams.

And smack dab in the middle of the maelstrom is the current governor, Milorad “Rod” R. Blagojevich, proud Serbian-American. He is also a man on the cusp of becoming the fourth Illinois governor out of the last seven to be indicted for corruption. He was mentioned prominently and not in the best light, during the trial of Obama friend, financier, and patron Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who was convicted of fraud in connection with a statehouse “pay to play” scheme. Federal prosecutors have leaked the information that they think they have enough on the governor for an indictment, largely — it is believed — because Rezko is singing to the feds in exchange for a lighter sentence. There is also a move among members of his own party in the Illinois House to impeach him. The governor is not only unpopular in the state, he is spectacularly and universally hated. A recent poll conducted by the Chicago Tribune found that just 13% of residents approved of the job he was doing.

In short, Governor Blagojevich might want to hurry the process of selecting Obama’s replacement along since he may not be sleeping in the governor’s mansion much longer. He claims he wants to settle the matter before Christmas. If so, he will probably be able to make that deadline — barely — before either resigning in disgrace or being kicked out by members of his own party.

If it were only Blagojevich who had input into the decision it would still be difficult, but at least the governor would avoid incoming fire from several factions with a huge interest in who will replace the new president in the Senate. And there is no interest group making more noise and demanding consideration than African Americans.

They’ve got a good case. Once Obama formally resigns from the Senate, that body will be left with no African Americans serving. There are two prominent African Americans in Illinois who may have the inside track as well as a few other blacks not as well known but who might be on Blagojevich’s short list .

One candidate, Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett, who served as Mayor Daley’s staff chief and headed up the powerful Transit Board in Chicago, is a long time friend of both Michelle Obama (who she hired for the Mayor Daley’s staff years ago) and Barack. But she has  removed her name from consideration because she is destined for the national stage, being named Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President. She is also currently busy as co-chair of the Obama transition effort.

The other major African American contender is Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., son of former presidential candidate Reverend Jesse Jackson and a power in Chicago politics. If Blagojevich wanted to open a can of worms, he could do no better than select the younger Jackson to replace Obama. It would tick off Mayor Daley, anger a rival faction of African Americans in the city, and worry many downstate Democrats who feel Jackson would be a millstone around their necks in 2010.

Jackson carries a lot of political baggage. He once disrespected Mayor Daley’s father, the former Mayor Richard M. Daley, very publicly. He has opposed Daley in his efforts to expand O’Hare airport, desiring that the government build a new airport in his district. He has also clashed with Governor Blagojevich on several issues and railed against the corruption of his administration. A congressman since 1995, Jackson ran an abortive campaign for mayor in 2006, smartly dropping out when the Democrats achieved a majority in the House of Representatives. It would have been an uphill fight to pull enough liberal white, African American, and Hispanic votes to beat Daley who is very popular with many minority groups, especially Hispanics.

Jackson wants to replace Obama badly. He was first out of the box, making it known in October that he would be “honored and humbled” to take Obama’s seat. He actually commissioned a Zogby poll showing him in the lead among all candidates who had been mentioned.

He is also very liberal — a fact not lost on downstate Democrats who have figured out how to run in previously Republican territory and believe that having Jackson at the top of the ticket in 2010 might very well set them back and allow the Republicans to retake control of one or both houses in the legislature.

Given all this, it appears that Jackson would only have an outside shot at being chosen. That leaves two potential candidates — one not very well known and another known all too well as one of the more colorful characters in Illinois politics.

At age 73, state Senate leader Emil Jones has had a long career as a Chicago Machine politician. Starting as a sewer inspector, Jones worked his way up the ranks and is now one of the most powerful politicians in the state. His own campaign kitty funds dozens of Democratic senators in their runs for office, making him a force not only on the Senate floor where he rules with an iron fist, but also in the corridors and cloakrooms where his legendary powers of persuasion are put to use in service to what some see as his own agenda.

Jones, who is retiring from the state Senate in 2010, has said he wouldn’t turn the job down. In fact, some observers believe he would make a perfect replacement for Obama. He almost certainly wouldn’t run for re-election, thus clearing the way for a battle royal among all the current crop of Senate hopefuls in a free for all primary in two years. African Americans would be happy. Daley would be happy. Obama might even like to see his former mentor get a nice reward at the end of his career. And Governor Blagojevich could breathe a sigh of relief — temporarily — as he would have avoided a bruising fight.

But Jones, as Roger Simon of Politico points out, has some major drawbacks:

He was one of Obama’s political patrons, is close to the governor and is an African-American, yet I got snorts of derision when I ran his name past some other Illinois sources of mine. That’s because Jones is from the old school — he started out as a sewer inspector, which is not bad training for a life in politics — and is not a modern, ready-for-TV candidate, possessing an orator’s tongue. He is a Chicago pol — the ring tone on his cell phone is the theme from The Godfather — but he would be a “place holder” only and would not run in 2010.

So Jones would appear to be out of contention. The other dark horse candidate from the African American community is Congressman Danny Davis. But Davis has many of the same problems that Jones has. He is 67, a former Chicago alderman, and while he is well spoken and knowledgeable, he may have too much baggage to be a good choice to run in 2010. He once accepted a trip to Sri Lanka paid for by the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group. He is also a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America. If downstaters thought they might have problems with Rep. Jackson in 2010, Davis might be their worst nightmare.

Other candidates include the lieutenant governor, longtime Democratic office holder Pat Quinn. However, Quinn may be busy moving into the governor’s mansion if Blagojevich is booted out or if he resigns. Then there’s Congressman Jan Schakowsky, a popular Democrat from Chicago’s near north side. If Blagojevich wants to choose a woman, she would be one option.

The other female option open to Blagojevich is one of the more compelling figures in Illinois politics. Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs in combat and ran a spirited campaign in 2006 against Peter Roskam, who was vying to replace 16-term Congressman Henry Hyde. Although losing that race, the Asian-American won national attention both for her heroism and her anti-war advocacy.

Now serving as Blagojevich’s veterans affairs chief, Duckworth has made known her desire to be selected to be Obama’s replacement. And Obama himself may have sent a signal of who he might be favoring. When the president-elect laid a wreath at a soldier’s memorial in Chicago this past Veterans Day, at his side was Tammy Duckworth. Now it is true that Duckworth is head of veterans’ affairs for the state. But Obama didn’t have to have anyone by his side. The fact that he chose Duckworth may give us some sense of who he might wish to see in his Senate chair next January.

Duckworth also has a stellar list of supporters including Illinois’ other senator, Dick Durbin, who recruited her to run for Congress in 2006. Her campaign that year was managed by Rahm Emanuel, and she had David Axelrod as a media advisor.

A female war veteran, an up and coming star of the Democratic party in Illinois, a young (40), intense campaigner with a compelling personal story, a choice that would please the new president, and someone who could run very well downstate — Tammy Duckworth would seem to solve a lot of Governor Blagojevich’s headaches.

But this is Illinois. And if there is anything about politics in this state that is consistently true it is to expect the unexpected and take nothing for granted.

This article originally appeared at Pajamas Media

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

11/23/2008
IS ALL THE ECONOMIC DOOM AND GLOOM JUSTIFIED?

If you’ve been reading a lot about the economic situation here and around the world, you can’t help but be struck by how terrible the future looks to a lot of “experts.”

Is this a function of the media realizing that apocalyptic news sells and less dire forecasts are given short shrift? Or is there really a consensus that we are in for horrible times?

I honestly don’t know enough to say one way or another. Here at home, the massive trouble that CITI is in promises to give us the biggest bailout yet. And there are some “experts” saying that the entire financial industry of the United States will soon be nationalized:

It’s not preferable, but all major U.S. financial companies will eventually be under government control because the alternative is so much worse, Hugh Hendry, chief investment officer at hedge fund Eclectica Asset Management, said Friday.

“All financials will be owned by the U.S. government in a year,” Hendry said. “I bet you.”

Nationalizations take dramatic losses from the private sector and places them on the larger balance sheet of the public sector, he said.

“It’s not good,” but society is vulnerable and society is going to have to intervene, Hendry said.

I don’t know Mr. Hendry from Adam but CNBC thinks enough of him to quote his prediction and include a video of his remarks. Does that make him an expert? Got me.

And its even worse overseas - if you believe the foreign press. Iceland is all but bankrupt, the product of their state bank going belly up. But what about Great Britain?

The scale of our problems has still not been understood. In essence the domestic banks are largely bust. The Government’s £500 billion bailout plan is primarily designed not to keep banks lending to small firms and to homebuyers but to prevent an unimaginable financial calamity.

Banks provide the very foundations and plumbing of the entire economy. A failure of confidence in them could still bring the entire capitalist edifice tumbling down.

It suits ministers, however, to maintain the bogus claim that the bailout is about sustaining bank lending. True, that would be a helpful side-effect, but is not the main purpose. Indeed, a gentle and gradual reduction in the indebtedness of individuals and companies is still needed.

At the risk of hyperbole, we should not be worrying about whether this is going to be a thin Christmas for retailers (it is), but whether Britain and the West are about to plunge into a years-long economic Dark Age - complete with mass unemployment and social unrest.

I don’t think you can get more depressing than that. But how true is it? The Times is a respected publication and all we have to go on if we want to glean the truth out of all this is the reputation of the media outlet from which we are getting this information.

No one denies that there is a crisis. No one is underestimating the potential for catastrophe. My problem - our problem - is that in this, a time when honest appraisals of the situation are needed, we have little or no confidence that our newspapers, radio programs, or the cable newsnets are delivering what they are supposed to be giving us; the facts of the situation and not trying to scare us into buying their product or watching their programs by hyping the bad news.

I think things are as bad as many are saying. But then we get a piece like this from Daniel Gross at Slate.com:

All this historically inaccurate nostalgia can occasionally make you want to clock somebody with one of the three volumes of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s history of the New Deal. The credit debacle of 2008 and the Great Depression may have similar origins: Both got going when financial crisis led to a reduction in consumer demand. But the two phenomena differ substantially. Instead of workers with 5 o’clock shadows asking, “Brother, can you spare a dime?” we have clean-shaven financial-services executives asking congressmen if they can spare $100 billion. More substantively, the economic trauma the nation suffered in the 1930s makes today’s woes look like a flesh wound.

“By the afternoon of March 3, scarcely a bank in the country was open to do business,” FDR said in his March 12, 1933, fireside chat (now available on a very cool podcast at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s Web site). In 1933, some 4,000 commercial banks failed, causing depositors to take huge losses. (There was no FDIC back then.) The recession that started in August 1929 lasted for a grinding 43 months, during which unemployment soared to 25 percent and national income was cut in half. By contrast, through mid-November 2008, only 19 banks had failed. The Federal Reserve last week said it expects unemployment to top out at 7.6 percent in 2009. Economists surveyed by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank believe the recession, which started in April 2008, will be over by next summer. (Of course, back in January the same guys forecast that the economy would grow nicely in 2008 and 2009.) But don’t take it from me. Take it from this year’s Nobel laureate in economics. “The world economy is not in depression,” Paul Krugman writes in his just-reissued book The Return of Depression Economics. “It probably won’t fall into depression, despite the magnitude of the current crisis (although I wish I was completely sure about that).”

Is Gross just more levelheaded than the others? He makes a convincing case but so do some of those predicting Armageddon.

I believe this is a crisis of confidence in our media - a result of many years of being conditioned by their biases, by their laziness to remove those biases, and by the nature of the news business itself and what it has become. The left likes to talk about the “corporate media” but it’s actually worse than that. Over the last 30 years, there has been a consolidation of media outlets into gigantic conglomerates while the actual number of independent media channels has dropped precipitously.

It isn’t that they’re “corporate” that makes them suspect, or more accurately, not trustworthy. It is that there are so few alternatives out there. I have no doubt that most publications and TV networks actually make an effort to deliver the news as accurately as they are able - given constraints about needing to turn a profit and stand out from the crowd. But that doesn’t change some basic facts. An empire like Rupert Murdochs’ was unthinkable 30 years ago. Every town over 50,000 or so used to have 2 or even 3 newspapers published daily. (50 years ago it was 4 or 5 dailies). If you want to listen to the radio today, you have 3 or 4 huge companies that own the overwhelming majority of popular local stations. Television has a handful of owners despite hundreds of stations.

No wonder the news sounds so much the same.

That doesn’t solve our problem of knowing who to believe, who to trust in this crisis. I suppose we have to make an effort to get as much information as we can and use our own best judgment as to what we should take away from each news or opinion article we read. This is probably good advice as it relates to any news we choose to digest be it on the internet or through some other media outlet.

But somehow, I can’t escape the feeling that our media is letting us down in this crisis and that I am probably not the only one disappointed in their performance so far.

This blog post originally appears at The American Thinker 

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

NOT EVEN A BONE FOR THE NETNUTS

Here, in the winter of conservative blogger’s discontent, a small ray of sunshine has peeked through the black clouds and brightened what has otherwise been an unrelenting skien of gloom and doom.

I am talking about how president-elect Barack Obama has tacked to the center by reaching out for establishment Democrats and Clintonites to fill in the first blanks of his administration’s personnel sheet and the reaction to that by our blogging friends on the left. And then there’s the sore spot that is Joe Lieberman and the monumental sense of betrayal felt by the Kos Kids that the “traitor” wasn’t boiled in oil and his bones made into a xylophone.

Now, truth be told, the leftosphere has it all over conservative bloggers when it comes to organizing for fundraising, grass roots activism, and internet political action. To give you an idea of the discrepancy between right and left on the internet, I recently sent a congratulatory telegram to the RNC for finally hooking up all 50 state parties via Western Union telegraph. All that is left to do is build a time machine so that the Republican party can make that Great Leap Forward into the 20th century and perhaps start using that new fangled invention by Alexander Graham Bell he calls “the telephone.”

Do you think I’m being facetious? Well, maybe a little. But listen to Pat Ruffini, perhaps one of the most tech savvy guys on the right, as he explains the technological advantages Obama and the Democrats have at the present time:

Obama is not President-elect without the internet. He would not have been the nominee without the internet. And had we had a much closer race in the general election, two, three, four points, maybe, had we not maybe had this economic crisis crop up, the internet and the youth vote would have been the deciding factor in the general election as well. He’s got a network of ten million people on e-mail that are now going to be called upon to pass his agenda. So every member of Congress can expect at a minimum a couple thousand phone calls when one of his bills comes up, because he’s built this huge network that he’s now going to unleash on passing his policy agenda. Beyond that, he went into cell phones numbers, you know, announced his vice presidential pick by cell phone. He’s got a database of six to eight million cell phone numbers. Some think, I would be surprised if Republicans have a database of six to eight thousand cell phone numbers. So that is a huge, those are huge numbers, huge advantages, and it’s going to have to be, I think our number one priority tactically, like David said, we’re going to have a rich, vibrant debate about what our message should be. But I think everybody…and there is going to be plenty of disagreement on that. But I think everybody can agree, in this particular area, in technology, is something we need to get serious about fast.

So when I see the sharp end of the stick for the Democrats - the netroots - wailing and gnashing their teeth that Obama has “betrayed” them with his personnel picks and by not kicking Lieberman out of the party, I can’t help but smile and be heartened that it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

Assistant Editor at The New Republic Jim Kirchick:

“With its congressional majority, the Democratic Party has refused to seriously try to end the war, to stop the bailout and to stop the trampling of civil liberties, just to name a few off the top of my head,” wrote David Sirota on the popular liberal blog OpenLeft, decrying the serial betrayals of Obama and the congressional Democratic majority. The Democratic Party, he wrote, has “faced no real retribution” for its manifold heresies, something that Sirota believes he and his band of angry bloggers must change. “We better understand why this happened,” he fumed.

Allow me to provide an answer. You don’t matter.

That the Netroots - the fabled bloggers who, in 2004, carried Howard Dean from being an unknown governor of a small state to a Democratic presidential front-runner - are not the potent political force that the media portrays was confirmed this past week when Senate Democrats resisted their “demand” that Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman be punished for endorsing John McCain for President (Lieberman was reelected as an independent in 2006 and caucuses with the Democrats). Ever since Nov. 4, when Democrats increased their majority beyond the point that Lieberman’s allegiance was necessary for them to maintain control over the Senate, punishing Lieberman has been the primary goal of liberal bloggers. For weeks, they pounded their keyboards, huffed and puffed on their Internet radio shows and called on their readers to flood the offices of Democratic senators with phone calls and e-mails demanding that Lieberman be stripped of his chairmanship over the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Yet on Tuesday, Democrats voted an overwhelming 42-to-13 to let Lieberman keep that chairmanship.

“He wasn’t sanctioned,” seethed Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos. “And Senate Democrats trying to make that claim are dishonestly trying to cover up the extent of their betrayal of the American people’s vote for change.”

Given the intensity of blogger rage over Lieberman, one can understand how their defeat at the ends of their own party would lend itself to hyperbole, but when did the “American people” appoint Markos Moulitsas their spokesman? And while there are many ways to interpret the outcome of this year’s presidential and congressional elections, that voters across the country wanted Joe Lieberman to be stripped of his committee chairmanship is not one of them.

I can understand the rage of the netnuts over Lieberman and disgruntlement over Obama’s national security choices.They helped out in destroying Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and here’s Obama on the verge of naming her Secretary of State. How bellicose of Obama! Couldn’t he find someone who voted against the war who was qualified?

Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize-winner in economics and a critic of corporate globalization. He should be Treasury Secretary.

Senator Russ Feingold is a champion of civil liberties. He should be Attorney General.

Robert Greenstein is head of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He would make a much better OMB director.

Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, would be a tremendous Secretary of Labor.

And if Obama really wanted change, if he really wanted to honor progressives who backed him early on and then did the grunt work against McCain, he’d nominate Dennis Kucinich as Secretary of State.

That sure would indicate a welcome departure from empire as usual.

Well, it would be a departure from sanity at least.

Taking pleasure in another’s discomfort is not very grown up of me, I know. I should be solicitous of the left’s disappointment. I should give them words of tenderness and understanding. I should forswear criticism while encouraging them to keep the faith. I should allude to all the good things they’ve got and not despair.

Nahhhhh…

By: Rick Moran at 10:24 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

11/22/2008
WILL NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE KILL CONSERVATISM?

Every once and a while, even smart people say or write stuff that makes them look stupid.

Why, even I myself have fallen victim to these little intellectual hiccups. You don’t write on a blog everyday for 4 years and not, on occasion, come up with some really, really lights out, eye poppingly, drop dead clueless, monumentally ignorant stuff. Any blogger or writer who tells you differently is either a liar or so full of himself that the power of their egos would probably light up Chicago. It is an occupational hazard and is impossible to avoid. (I can’t think of anything offhand but I’m sure there are some intrepid commenters out there who would help me out.)

Of course, there are some bloggers and writers out there who make a career of writing brainless, fatuous, jaw droppingly doltish stuff. Village idiots like TBogg or the folks at Sadly No have taken bathroom humor, playground taunts, and pre-teen sex jokes to a level unseen by most adults. I would add the pathologically bigoted writings of Debbie Schlussel and just about everything written by Robert Kagan as examples on the right of writers who make a living penning witless missives, dopey treatises, and uninformed balderdash.

But even very smart, very witty people can fall victim to the Stupid Virus. Take the delightful CNBC host and commentator James Pethokoukis, who also writes a money blog for US News and World Report. He really caught a virulent form of the disease with his post entitled “How Tom Daschle might kill conservatism.”

The GOP strategist had been joking about the upcoming presidential election and giving his humorous assessments of the candidates. Then he suddenly cut out the schtick and got scary serious. “Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that’s it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail.”

And it turns out that the fearsome harbinger of free-market doom is the mild-mannered ex-U.S. senator with the little, red glasses, Tom Daschle. He’ll be the guy shepherding President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan through Congress via his probable role as secretary of health and human services. At the core of Daschle’s thinking on the subject is the creation of a “Federal Health Board that would resemble our current Federal Reserve Board” and ensure “harmonization across public programs of health-care protocols, benefits, and transparency.” (Forget secretary of state, Hillary Clinton should shoot for chairman of Fed Health and run one seventh of the U.S. economy.) And the subject of that “harmonization” would be a $100 billion to $150 billion a year plan that would let individuals (and small businesses) buy insurance from private companies or from a government plan.

Daschle and the Obamacrats certainly have the momentum: a near-landslide presidential election victory, at least 58 Democratic votes in the Senate, and a nasty recession that will make many Americans yearn for economic security. Already the health insurance companies seem set back on their heels. The industry’s trade organization now says it would accept new rules requiring them to cover pre-existing conditions as long as there was a universal mandate for all Americans to have health insurance. On top of all that, Obama clearly wants to make healthcare reform a priority in his first term, as evidenced by the selection of a heavy hitter like Daschle. And even if he wasn’t interested, Congress sure is, with Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy readying a plan in the Senate. A few observations:

1) Passage would be a political gamechanger. Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of “Marxist thought,” puts it: “After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments.”

Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: “Blocking Obama’s health plan is key to the GOP’s survival.”

I’ll go even further and say that passing Obamacare would turn the US from from being the world’s only superpower into a second class backwater with little more influence than France on the world stage. This may happen anyway thanks to the financial meltdown and the subsequent $2 trillion and rising in bailouts. Let’s face it; trillion dollar deficits and half a trillion dollar defense budgets are an impossibility. They cannot exist in the same universe. You can’t cut entitlements in a deep recession and since there is only around $35 billion in real discretionary spending to be cut, something has got to give somewhere. With Democrats in charge, it will be the defense budget.

But would Obamacare “kill” conservatism? That’s something of a nutty idea considering that it comes from an analysis given in a journal devoted to that wildly successful political philosophy known as Marxism. In a deterministic world where we are all happy little Commie robots, we would “vote our interests” and cast our ballot for the politician who promised us the most goodies. Democrats and liberals have been whining for years that Americans in flyover country have been hypnotized or fooled by Republicans into actually voting against politicians who will give them everything necessary to make their lives easier.

But determinism is dead, killed by the reality that people simply don’t act the way the Marxists say we should act. If they did, I guarantee you the old Soviet Union would still be with us while the United States would have gone the way of the Dodo bird. In the aggregate, people do not make decisions for themselves or their families based on what is best for their “class” or even care much about how their lives might be improved at the margins by voting for big government liberals. It has never been that way in America when voting for president and is only partly true when voting for Congressmen and Senators.

A study done earlier this year and published in the Journal of Leadership Studies revealed some of the real reasons people choose one presidential candidate over the other - and it ain’t because one of them will shower them with gifts from the government:

An article to be published in the new Journal of Leadership Studies (Wiley Periodicals, Inc.) on February 28th discusses results of researching and analyzing data from the seven most recent U.S. presidential elections comparing Democratic and Republican Party candidates who were successful in securing votes. The analysis reveals what tipped the scales with voters and how perceptions of leader intelligence, feelings of pride and hope, as well as feelings of fear and anger, were found to impact the decision process, rather than the issues that candidates present.

Researchers M. David Albritton, Sharon L. Oswald and Joseph S. Anderson used data from the National Election Studies (NES) division of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan to expand upon previous work on voter attitudes, perceptions of leaders, and voter support. They found perceived intelligence, inspirational qualities, and charisma to be key factors in the formation of voter opinion. Instead of the varying positions on issues, voter’s perceptions of these key traits are found to be predictors of whether or not that voter will consider a leader to be of high quality.

How a candidate’s charisma as well as how fear plays into a voter’s evaluation was also examined. Intuitively perhaps, fear played a negative role toward a candidate. Individuals who generated stronger feelings of voter fear were considered “lower quality leaders.” However, fear also helped shape positive behaviors toward a rival candidate. Surprisingly, charisma, traditionally considered an asset, was often viewed negatively when framed in the context of manipulating others toward personal gain.

The vote for president is the most personal political decision most Americans make. Political pros have known for decades, thanks to several landmark social psychology studies, what goes into the decision making process of citizens when they choose a president. First, as with any politician, it is likability that is most translatable into votes. Next comes shared values or comfortability. The third is fear of the alternative. Ideology plays into the comfortability index while positions on the issues and campaign promises are almost always way down the list.

Voting for other federal offices is not quite as personal but for House members especially, it is not national issues as much as it is local concerns that determine competitive races - a dwindling number thanks to finely honed redistricting techniques. More than anything, what will keep Democrats in power will be how the new Congressional district lines will be drawn following the 2010 census.

The Senate is a different story but is still an electoral body dominated by incumbents thanks to their massive advantage in fundraising, name recognition, and their ability to build a sophisticated political ground game over their 6 year term. Here again, likability and shared values mean more than any specific issues.

In the kind of deterministic construct offered by those who believe that Obamacare and other proposed social programs will kill conservatism because people will be so overjoyed that government will offer them “security” that they will vote for big government liberals for the foreseeable future fail to understand that first, we are a different people than the Europeans despite what many on the left who have abandoned the idea of American exceptionalism are telling us; and second, such twaddle reveals a lack of understanding of basic political psychology.

America has been gradually adapting itself to the idea that health care is a right, not a privilege. I would say to my conservative friends that politically - and realistically - we have probably lost this argument. The issue plays to the people’s basic sense of fairness and despite their misgivings about government run boondoggles, would support some kind of national health insurance that guaranteed everyone’s access to at least minimal care.

But I would say to my friends on the left that this doesn’t mean Americans will support the kind of massive intrusion being planned by Kennedy-Baucus or the Obama Administration - especially after conservatives get through informing the public of just what it means to have mandates, “Federal Health Boards” and other cockamamie ideas that limit freedom and choices. There are alternatives - some free market options as well as a mix of government-industry proposals - that would accomplish the goal without having government get on the slippery slope of eventually controlling the entire health care industry.

But even if Kennedy-Baucus were to pass - highly unlikely at this point - would that mean the “death of conservatism?” If Marxism couldn’t be killed off by it’s massive, world wide failures it is extremely difficult to see how conservatism could be executed by the passage of a government program - especially one that would be amenable to alteration once its deficiencies were exposed by its application to the real world. Conservatives may not be able to get rid of national health insurance. But there is no doubt that they will be able to run against its failures by proposing sensible alternatives and reforms.

Conservatism is a philosophy. I have had many arguments with my conservative friends over how to make this philosophy into a real world, governing ideal in a 21st century industrialized democracy. I am unsure if on some level, that “governing ideal” hasn’t run its course and lost its way. Making conservative principles and a conservative approach to issues relevant again will take a careful study of where we went wrong and some fresh ideas of how to translate the principles and values of conservatism into concrete, programmatic proposals that can compete in the great American marketplace of ideas once again.

By: Rick Moran at 11:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (39)

11/21/2008
JACK BAUER: ‘REDEMPTION’? OR DESCENT INTO SILLINESS?
CATEGORY: "24"


Jack is back in a two hour Season 7 preview this Sunday on Fox at 8 EST.

On one level, the question asked in the hed is on every 24 fan’s lips: Can the show come back and return to its former high level of excellence? Always technically flawless, there is universal agreement that Season 6 last year failed on numerous levels; the hackneyed and stale plot, stilted and stupid dialogue, not believable supporting characters, and a general feeling of aimlessness that the producers and writers claimed afterwards was the result of them getting to mid season and not knowing where to take the show.

So the question of whether the show has run its course or whether it has one more slam bang, shoot ‘em up, edge of your seat, thrill a minute year left in it is definitely an open one. This is true especially for those of us who saw 24 as if not a “conservative” show then certainly one of the few TV dramas with an unabashedly pro-American viewpoint on the war on terror. Despite all the opposition Jack got from the politicians and the bureaucracy, there was no mistaking who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. And the bad guys were really bad - especially the American collaborators.

Unlike other political shows like West Wing, a self consciously liberal show that had one dimensional characters and an unrealistic view of Washington, 24 has been enjoyed by both liberals and conservatives for mostly different reasons. It has been called “The guilty pleasure of the political class” because of its 14 million viewers, a large segment of the Washington establishment watches the show religiously. Conservaties love the fact that, with a few glaring exceptions, the show has been true to who we are fighting and why. Liberals love it because it portrays moral choices in nuanced ways - not everything is black and white. This is especially true regarding the issue of torture as 24 may be the only TV show in history that stands accused of encouraging our men to abuse prisoners.

I have written that Jack Bauer is something of a goon, programmed for violence and whose methods epitomize the ends-means motif. Even the early years of the show when Jack’s motivations were built on love of country and devotion to duty, the character routinely stepped over the line. Not just in his use of torture but also his refusal to play bureaucratic games. There were times when Jack was as much at war with the national security bureaucracy as he was with terrorists. The lone hero fighting nature (the government) as well as the enemy has been a powerful theme in our myth making since our founding. Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, Davey Crockett, and the legendary lawmen of the frontier such as Wyatt Earp and Bill Hitchcock all to one degree or another have been portrayed as heroes who lived life according to their own set of moral precepts and beholden to no one.

And what of Jack Bauer, a modern American hero whose persona, perhaps more than any other cultural indicator, has reflected the changing attitudes in America toward the war, the Bush Administration, and our role in the world.

It really has been a unique experience watching the show these last 7 years. From the first season, which began in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to the uncertain and conflicted season 6 that saw a public soured on Iraq, moody and unsatisfied with the direction of the country, there is no show on television, no other comparable yardstick that we can measure how we have changed as a nation. There was a gradual, almost imperceptible change of focus as the fight with international terrorism went from a straight up clash between good and evil to now a muddled panorama where the good guys are fighting their own government as much as they are battling the real foe.

There have been complaints in recent years also of a more PC-outlook on the war. I think this is overblown somewhat but there is no denying that the focus has moved from Islamic terrorists to others who could be Islamists (Chechens) and most especially, their American collaborators that included Jack’s own family last year. This was a culmination of what I termed Jack’s “descent into darkness” as even his slavish devotion to duty took second place to his personal motives for revenge; against the Chinese for kidnapping and torturing him, against the murderers of the only friends he knew, and against a father who betrayed not only the country, but Jack both as a child and now as a grown up.

At the top I said that “redemption” had several levels of meaning. And perhaps the truest significance of the title for Sunday’s two hour preview of Season 7 is found in Jack Bauer’s personal journey.

I have spent a lot of time chronicling the development of the Bauer character over the years (See my contribution to this book Secrets of 24). Jack’s character has developed logically and independently from the changes wrought by our changing society. They reflect what has happened to him and those around him during the course of the show.

The first three seasons of the show, Bauer’s overwhelming devotion to duty and country made him an easy hero to like and admire. When he tortured someone, you were sure there was no other way to save millions of American lives. But as the years went on and he lost his wife, his family, his friends, and finally, losing his one connection to the world of the ordinary (his putative fiance Valerie), something happened to Bauer.

The devotion to duty was there but he began to see the people who were giving him orders to “get the job done” (kill,torture, to break the law) as an even bigger enemy. Now he was killing for revenge, for spite, to settle old scores. He had descended into a hellish nightmare of blood where his morally questionable decisions became not the actions of a hero but the coldly calculating brutality of a thug.

In short, he had become what he had been fighting against all those years. Inured to violence, it seemed at times that his only release would be a violent death - something he was willing to see happen on several occassions. He was, he believed, “irredeemable.” Hence, this upcoming TV movie preview of Season 7 may either give Bauer a new lease on life or, allow him the release he has so often craved these last few seasons.

The plot of the movie is simple. Jack is wanted for his testimony before Congress and, rather than play that game, he escapes to Africa where he hooks up with a former special forces colleague who has become a missionary in the fictional country of Sangala.

Jack is in Sangala working at a school run by Carl Benton (Robert Carlyle) a friend of Jack’s from when he was in Special Forces. This works out well, because when Juma’s henchman Col. Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) comes looking for the kids it means Benton has a convenient stash of semi-automatic weapons on hand for Jack to play with. A well-choreographed and exciting firefight ensues, and Jack does his usual bang-up job of taking down the enemy, but in the end Juma’s men get the upper hand.

The Tables Are Turned: When Jack is captured by the bad guys, he ends up being subjected to torture (they want him to give up the whereabouts of the kiddos), and then we happily learn that he has at least one move in common with fellow TV badass Sayid Jarrah. Care to guess what that move might be?

The New President Rocks: Cherry Jones is perfect as new President Allison Taylor, a woman who is simultaneously warm and chilly. You get the sense that she’s a softie on one level and a very cool customer on another. The scenes where she meets with President Daniels (Powers Boothe) to finish up the transition between their two administrations positively crackle with tension and conflict.

Beware the Butterfly Effect: Jon Voight’s Jonas Hodges is going to be a brilliant villain. He has a downright evil gleam in his eye as he rearranges the globe in to his personal satisfaction, despite the fact that his self-interest ravages the health and happiness of millions of others. In addition to the children who are brainwashed and destroyed by Juma, there is one scene where a Sangalan woman essentially volunteers herself into sexual slavery if only State Department official Frank Tramell (Gil Bellows) will help her escape the country. Somehow that one scene illustrates the debasement of an entire nation, and it all leads back to Hodges.

I’m sure you can see the potential for both a huge success and unmitigated disaster as represented by this plot outline. Will Jack go all PC on us? I believe this to be a definite possibility because one of the show’s creators, conservative Joel Surnow, said goodbye to the production last April. It remains to be seen whether Howard Gordon - a great television man but with questionable politics - can keep the show from degenerating into a weepy, politically correct exposition on how bad the world is with America not making things any better.

However, if the show concentrates on “redeeming” Jack Bauer, there are also definite possibilities for an emotional and dramatic success. I still think the only ending possible is the death of Bauer - the only ending that would make sense given what has transpired in his life previously. But if he could face his end with the knowledge that the rivers of blood he has had to navigate these last years was but a prologue to his selfless demise, it may prove to be some of the most captivating drama in the history of the tube. Not relief at his own death but a simple act of giving - without remorse - would put a emotional coda on the series and send all of us fans away satisfied.

Is this too much to ask? Probably yes. But like you, I will be watching every minute and cheering Bauer on as he battles both the enemy and his own personal demons, willing him to win out in the end.

By: Rick Moran at 12:15 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)