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11/20/2008
OOGEDY-BOOGEDY AND BIBBIDI, BOBBIDI, BOO

Salagadoola mechicka boola
bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put ‘em together and what have you got
bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Salagadoola mechicka boola
bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
It’ll do magic believe it or not
bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

(Music: Mack David and Al Hoffman; Lyrics: Jerry Livingston

It is either a serious discussion on the influence of the Christian right in the Republican party or a nonsensical debate about whether morals informed by religious beliefs have a place in the public square.According to Kathleen Parker and Kevin Drum, there is actually a question about the latter.

Parker:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

What does she mean “oogedy boogedy?” And I note that most commentators on this article missed her allusion to “armband religion.” Now let’s think a moment and ask ourselves, what group in history is famous for wearing armbands? The Boy Scouts? Maybe, but do you seriously believe Parker was alluding to the Boy Scouts in her little self-aggrandizing missive?

Parker was comparing the religious right with those other famous armband wearers, the Brown Shirts of Nazi fame. But she did it in such a cutesy way, we will forgive her, right? Boy, I bet Parker’s little smear elicited a snicker or two from her new found friends on the left - a crowd she seems to be playing to more and more lately.

But it is the use of the pejorative “oogedy boogedy” that has everyone up in arms on the right. Jonah Goldberg wonders what all the fuss is about:

My email box runneth over with nice attaboys and more than a few interesting criticisms regarding my post about Kathleen Parker. Keying off some of the criticisms, here’s one thing I want to know, as I sit here at the Whither Conservatism conference. What aspects of the Christian Right amount to oogedy-boogedyism? I take oogedy-boogedy to be a pejorative reference to absurd superstition and irrational nonsense. So where has the GOP embraced to its detriment oogedy-boogedyism? With the possible exception of some variants of creationism (which is hardly a major issue at the national level in the GOP, as much as some on the left and a few on the right try to make it one), I’m at a loss as to what Kathleen is referring to. Opposition to abortion? Opposition to gay marriage? Euthanasia? Support for prayer in school?

Goldberg makes the excellent observation that there all sorts of legitimate points to be made both in favor and against those positions. Indeed, I have found some secular arguments against gay marriage to be if not compelling, certainly reasonable and based on both the law and common sense. Hence, “oogedy boogedism” actually expresses a nebulous kind of fear of the religious right more than it identifies any specific proposals that smack of “armband religion” as so cleverly construed by Parker.

Kevin Drum disagrees:

There will always be plenty of votes for a culturally conservative party. That’s not the problem. The problem is the venomous, spittle-flecked, hardcore cultural conservatism that’s become the public face of the evangelical wing of the GOP. It’s the wing that doesn’t just support more stringent immigration laws, but that turns the issue into a hate fest against La Raza, losing 3 million Latino votes in the process. It’s the wing that isn’t just a little skittish about gay marriage, but that turns homophobia into a virtual litmus test, losing 6 million young voters in the process. It’s the wing that isn’t just religious, but that treats belief as a precondition to righteousness, losing 2 million secular voters in the process. It’s the wing that isn’t just nostalgic for old traditions, but that fetishizes the heartland as the only real America, losing 7 million urban voters in the process. It’s the wing that goes into a legislative frenzy over Terry Schiavo but six months later can barely rouse itself into more than a yawn over the destruction of New Orleans.

What Drum doesn’t mention is the utter contempt liberals and Democrats had for the truth in defining the Republican positions on some of those issues. A “hatefest against Latinos?” Only if you’re a Democrat and want to smear your opponent by spreading that notion. Taking the Gilchrist or Tom Tancredo attitude and position on immigration as the mainstream conservative or GOP position is as ludicrous as the GOP trying to make Cindy Sheehan the poster girl for the Democrats on national security.

What Drum is either too much a partisan to say or just clueless about is that the Democrats successfully demonized Republicans on just about all of those issues he mentions above. He is alluding to a successful political strategy not the reality of where the movement or the party stands - with the exception of gay marriage. (Is he seriously saying that 7 million young voters abandoned the GOP because of that? Young voters have been trending left since 1992, long before gay marriage was even on the radar.)

Fetishizing the heartland as “the only real America” was a direct response to urban Democrats and liberals who have made trashing us out here in flyover country (a term invented by liberals) a cottage industry for authors, pundits, and idiot bloggers like Drum. Perhaps Drum forgets his liberal colleagues and their pointed smears of heartland voters after the 2004 election when calls for secession and sneering at voters in “Jesusland” was all the rage on the left. Fetishizing urban voters as smarter, more sophisticated, more worthy than those of us in the heartland might explain some of that pushback, wouldn’t you think - especially since a more liberal (not necessarily tolerant) attitude toward social issues is a litmus test in and of itself among urban elites.

Drum’s claims of “lost voters” as a result of the Christian right may be true in the aggregate but his specifics leave a lot to be desired. I too, have pointed out that the Republican party is now identified not as the party of fiscal conservatism (How could it be?) but as the party of anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. Given the alternatives - an economy in ruins, unpopular wars, a despised president, corruption, and incompetence - it is perhaps understandable that the GOP saw its path to victory in turning out its evangelical base in huge numbers. As it turned out, that too, failed.

Now what? If Parker’s “oogedy boogedy” is an elitist’s exaggeration of what the religious right truly represents but if Goldberg is too dismissive of the public face of this movement - the Dobsons, the Ralph Reeds, even the Sarah Palins whose dogmatic approach to the political permutations of social issues turns off many urban, heartland, and in between voters - where can the GOP go to get its mojo back? (Apologies to Mother Jones and Jennifer Rubin.)

What the GOP needs is a little prestidigitation - some Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo to drive away the oogedy boogedies and allow the true nature of conservatism and Republican principles to dominate the national debate.

We aren’t going to do that with John Boehner as minority leader. Nor are we going to do it with the bulk of GOP Congressmen now who will no doubt be meekly acquiescing to Obama’s plans to nationalize health insurance, emasculate our defenses, seize control of our schools, and generally impose a liberal template on what still is a country that if it doesn’t lean center right can now be termed a “center-center” nation. More left leaning than they were 20 years ago, the electorate can hardly be termed “liberal” in any sense of the word. Obama won because people believed he would cut their taxes. When queried, the voters still want a strong defense and want a sane fiscal policy.

Those are conservative issues, my friends. The GOP’s mistake in trying to use social issues as a wedge rather than gathering under their tent the bulk of voters who would cast their ballot for a candidate who espoused Republican principles is what lost them the election.

The people may want some form of national health insurance - but they don’t want to break the bank doing it. They may want out of Iraq - but they don’t want our national defenses shredded. And the disconnect between the laundry list of social programs for the middle class offered by Obama and the taxes that would need to be raised to pay for them hasn’t sunk in yet with voters. When it does - when the trillion dollar deficits start to pile up - the Republicans don’t want to be standing too close to the Democrats lest they be hit with the rotten fruit that will be aimed at the left.

This entire argument among conservatives and Republicans comes down to tactics. We just went through an election that proved pretty conclusively that promoting social issues and making them the centerpiece of Republican orthodoxy is just too problematic - too open to dishonest liberal counterattacks that exaggerate and even lie about how pernicious and evil the Godbotherers truly are - oogedy boogedy in spades. The left successfully demonized the religious right and Republicans stupidly made them the poster children for the party. The millions of secular conservatives and religious moderates who had made up the backbone of the GOP fled in terror from the prospect of inquisitions and and pogroms - fostered by the left - and voted Democratic or stayed at home on election day.

Can the two wings of the party be integrated into a coherent whole? This is what will occupy conservatives and Republicans for the foreseeable future. The Kathleen Parkers of this world wants the religious right muzzled and beaten down. The evangelicals and the rest of the base want litmus tests in order to excommunicate those who disagree with them.

The schism is not as wide as it might appear. There is, after all, more that unites us than divides us. But it will take a towering personality or, God forbid, a shock like 9/11 to make the two sides realize it.

By: Rick Moran at 9:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (25)

11/19/2008
CHENEY, GONZALEZ, AND HAM SANDWICH INDICTED BY CLOWN

I don’t know whether Dick Cheney or Albert Gonzalez are really in trouble as a result of an indictment handed down by a Willacy County grand jury in Texas. But if I were a ham sandwich, I would definitely take it on the lam:

A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on state charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County’s federal detention centers.

The indictment, which had not yet been signed by the presiding judge, was one of seven released Tuesday in a county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles in recent years. Another of the indictments named a state senator on charges of profiting from his position.

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra himself had been under indictment for more than a year and half before a judge dismissed the indictments last month. This flurry of charges came in the twilight of Guerra’s tenure, which ends this year after nearly two decades in office. He lost convincingly in a Democratic primary in March.

Cheney’s indictment on a charge of engaging in an organized criminal activity criticizes the vice president’s investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees because of his link to the prison companies.

Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on Tuesday, saying that the vice president had not yet received a copy of the indictment.

The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately-run prisons.

Of course, lefties are short stroking their way to ecstasy. Our friends at Firedoglake:

Gonzales and Cheney have been indicted by a grand jury. The indictment is related to prisoner abuse at Wallace County Federal detention centers, which are run by Vanguard Group. Cheney has an investment in Vanguard and is charged with conflict of interest and “misdemeanor assault” on detainees through the company, while Gonzales is charged with using his office to quash an investigation. (h/t Perris)

Get out the popcorn, this could be interesting.

And maybe it will shine a light on the privatization of the prison system in the US, which has led to even greater abuses of prisoners than before.

The “Gun Toting Liberal” takes aim at…himself:

If you bothered to click on the aforementioned AP article, you’d have learned the South Texas jurorists indicted The Vampire the vice president on CRIMINAL charges stemming from making money through some sort of a hedgefund designed to abuse and torture federal prisoners and his pal “Gonzo” for — what else? — OBSTRUCTING federal investigations into The Veep’s [again... "alleged"] high crimes and misdemeanors. Gotta give ‘em both credit, because, again — COUNT of our Lame Duck President Bush to bail his fellow criminals out of any sort of a legal mess this whole fiasco might lead to — in other words, the only CHANCE we might have to see this trio behind bars is via International law and many, MANY of my fellow Americans share my point of view that justice just MIGHT be served the day they are sentenced for and held accountable by, The Hague for their [Pssst -- again -- "alleged"] war crimes. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen too many “pardons” going on over there lately; correct me if I’m wrong, which I, of course, frequently AM.

So just who is this brave, intrepid prosecutor who dares to do what the mealy-mouthed, weak-kneed, chicken-sh*t Democrats in Congress have failed to do all these years

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra himself had been under indictment for more than a year and half before a judge dismissed the indictments last month. This flurry of charges came in the twilight of Guerra’s tenure, which ends this year after nearly two decades in office. He lost convincingly in a Democratic primary in March.

[snip]

After Guerra’s office was raided as part of the investigation early last year, he camped outside the courthouse in a borrowed camper with a horse, three goats and a rooster. He threatened to dismiss hundreds of cases because he believed local law enforcement had aided the investigation against him.

On Tuesday, Guerra said the indictments speak for themselves. He said the prison-related charges are a national issue and experts from across the country testified to the grand jury. Asked about the indictments against local players in the justice system who had pursued him, Guerra said, “the grand jury is the one that made those decisions, not me.”

It is not your average prosecutor who would camp out in front of the courthouse with a horse. And if he is an extremely horny fellow, I see the reason for the 3 goats. But it takes a certified, first class, loony tunes, nutcase to subject a rooster to this kind of abuse. Was he using the fowl as an alarm clock? Maybe it was part of some secret religious rite where eventually, he would have bitten the rooster’s head off a la Alice Cooper. More likey, he enjoyed stimulating conversations with the bird about the law and how he would get back at his “enemies.”

There has been no word on the fate of the ham sandwich but I’m betting it’s already disappeared. Evidently, Guerra was contemplating indicting a bologna sandwich as well — for impersonating food — but in the end, the grand jury balked and then broke for lunch. Guerra thought it suspicious that several of the jurors appeared to be eating bagged lunches with both ham and bologna sandwiches but before he could make his move, the evidence disappeared.

This isn’t the first “ham sandwich” indictment in the history of US jurisprudence and it won’t be the last. Perhaps the most famous Deli indictment was the Jim Garrison travesty that saw a perfectly innocent man - who happened to be a homosexual - indicted for the Kennedy assassination.

Clay Shaw got caught up in a Jim Garrison’s desire to be governor of Louisiana while also being the victim of the prosecutor’s pathological hatred of homosexuals. The Oliver Stone film JFK depicting this man as a hero may be the most cockeyed, dishonest, twisted, and disgusting view of history ever put on film. It’s as if Springtime for Hitler was actually made as a serious look a Nazi Germany.

Garrison has been thoroughly, completely, and deservedly discredited by so many reputable historical and journalistic sources that one must studiously and deliberately ignore the facts in order to give him even the benefit of the doubt for making an honest mistake. Garrison based his indictment on a “tip” from an alcoholic private investigator named Jack Martin who confessed to the FBI within a week of the assassination that he concocted the whole story while he was drunk.

In truth, the “story” Garrison tried to sell kept changing as his “investigation” unfolded. What was clear was his sick animus directed against gay men. He had actually made a name for himself “cleaning up” prostitution in the French Quarter a few years earlier. What is rarely mentioned when portraying Garrison as a courageous battler for justice is that almost all of the arrests in that effort were of gay men - many who were not prostitutes but simply cruising.

His first “theory” of the JFK plot was that it was a “homosexual thrill killing.” Only later, when that theory fell apart because one of the main “plotters,” a homosexual named David Ferrie, died of cancer (that Garrison said was actually given to him by the CIA) did he charge “the military industrial complex” with the crime.

Writing in the Saturday Evening Post, James Phelan relates a wacky, surreal conversation he had with Garrison about the plot:

In an effort to get Garrison’s story into focus, I asked him the motive of the Kennedy conspirators. He told me that the murder at Dallas had been a homosexual plot.
“They had the same motive as Loeb and Leopold, when they murdered Bobbie Franks in Chicago back in the twenties,” Garrison said. “It was a homosexual thrill-killing, plus the excitement of getting away with a perfect crime. John Kennedy was everything that Dave Ferrie was not — a successful, handsome, popular, wealthy, virile man. You can just picture the charge Ferrie got out of plotting his death.”

I asked how he had learned that the murder was a homosexual plot.

“Look at the people involved,” Garrison said. “Dave Ferrie, homosexual. Clay Shaw, homosexual. Jack Ruby, homosexual.”

“Ruby was a homosexual?”

“Sure, we dug that out,” Garrison said. “His homosexual nickname was Pinkie. That’s three. Then there was Lee Harvey Oswald.”

But Oswald was married and had two children, I pointed out.

“A switch-hitter who couldn’t satisfy his wife,” Garrison said. “That’s all in the Warren Report.” He named two more “key figures” whom he labeled homosexual.

“That’s six homosexuals in the plot,” Garrison said. “One or maybe two, okay. But all six homosexual? How far can you stretch the arm of coincidence?”

And then there was Garrison’s Section 8 discharge from the army:

In 1952, Jim Garrison was relieved of duty in the National Guard. Doctors at the Brooke Army Hospital in Texas diagnosed him as suffering from a “severe and disabling psychoneurosis” which “interfered with his social and professional adjustment to a marked degree.” The evaluation further said that Garrison “is considered totally incapacitated from the standpoint of military duty and moderately incapacitated in civilian adaptability,” and recommended long-term psychotherapy.

Garrison has been quoted as saying that the information was placed in his file by the government in order to discredit him.

And this is the man that Oliver Stone made a hero of in JFK? Clay Shaw’s life was ruined - being outed as a homosexual at that time was the kiss of death. He died a broken man a few years after his quick (45 minute) acquittal by the jury. Perhaps Garrison’s abuse of power was best summed up by former New Orleans District Attorney during the 1990’s Harry Connick (father of musician/actor Harry Connick, Jr.) who tells investigator Gerald Posner (Case Closed) what he told Oliver Stone when the film maker asked his opinion of the Shaw Trial:

“I said I thought it was one of the grossest, most extreme miscarriages of justice in the annals of American judicial history. And Stone said, ‘Well, we are going to do the movie anyway,’ as if I was suggesting he shouldn’t do it. I said: ‘Well, do whatever you want to do. I have nothing to say about that. You were asking and I was telling you that it was just a miscarriage of justice. An innocent man was plucked out of somebody’s mind and made a defendant in a criminal case.’ “

Both Garrison and Guerra have proven the adage that, if he tries hard enough, a prosecutor can get a ham sandwich indicted. But a ham sandwich doesn’t have a reputation nor does the deli specialty have a family, friends, and loved ones who are affected by the crazies who sometimes end up dispensing justice in our system. Such men — including the Duke rape case prosecutor Mike Nifong — deserve as much disapprobation as can be heaped upon their heads as they are ushered off the stage into an infamous retirement.

By: Rick Moran at 10:11 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

11/18/2008
THE CLINTON CHOICE AT STATE

It’s not a done deal yet - apparently there are concerns about some of Billy’s more creative billing procedures connected to his globe trotting - but if Obama thinks her confirmation wouldn’t be too bruising an affair, there’s a good chance that Hillary Clinton will take the job of Secretary of State in the new Administratiion:

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

Obama’s advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton’s foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.

Clinton would be well placed to become the country’s dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.

I wrote a few days ago that Obama would be crazy to offer it to her and she would be nuts to take it. And there is still a chance she could turn it down or that Bill Clinton’s finances will turn out to be too problematic to pass muster with the Foreign Relations Committee.

But apparently, the offer is serious and she wants to take the job. Why? What do both principles have to gain?

Obama is in an extremely strong position - perhaps the strongest of any incoming president since Reagan. To say he has a blank check to do what he wants is perhaps an overstatement but ask yourself, who is going to stop him. The press? His own party? His supporters?

It certainly won’t be Republicans stopping him - not with their numbers and their attitude. So Obama doesn’t need anyone to make his administration. He can choose who he pleases and not have to expend the political capitol to get  them confirmed.

For Hillary, her place is secure in the Senate as would be her position as leader - if not in name than certainly as a result of her enormous visibility and influence. From the senate, she could wait to see if Obama falls on his face and mount a challenge in 2012 if the opportunity were to arise.

But she would also be just one of many senators who would take center stage over the next few years as Obama’s initiatives worked their way through Congress. She would be visible but she might consider an option that would not only give her TV face time whenever she wanted it but add to her resume some tangible accomplishments that would cement her status as frontrunner for either 2012 or 2016. Hence, the idea of Hillary for Secretary of State.

Obama will apparently be concentrating on domestic policies for the first several months - perhaps a year of his term. He needs someone who doesn’t need (and wouldn’t accept) much supervision. Setting broad goals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, Hillary would be tasked to achieve those goals - how would be pretty much up to her. She would be the most independent Secretary of State since Kissinger - and easily the most visible.

But this arrangement would almost certainly cause trouble for both principles. Obama may figure that having her in the cabinet will short circuit any plans she has to challenge him in 2012. If the economy really goes south and despite the efforts of the Obamamedia and the Democrats his policies are seen as the cause, it won’t matter where Hillary is, she will make a run. I can’t see her having the patience to wait until 2016 unless Obama is a smashing success. Unless we can believe that she has given up her desire to be president, 2012 looms large in both her and Obama’s plans.

For Obama then, he would get Hillary’s (and Bill’s) prestige and extensive contacts around the world - for maybe two years. That’s how long I give this marriage. Eventually, Obama will tire of the drama, the backbiting, the blame casting, the whispers that build the Clinton’s up at his expense, and either fire her or she will resign on her own. If the climate is right, she would pick up where she left off and make a run. If not, she can always run for the senate (or governor) and use that position as a power base for 2016.

Obama and the country could do worse than Hillary Clinton at State. I think she proved during the campaign that she has a much more realistic outlook on the world than the naive Obama and would probably be one of the only Obama foreign policy advisors who would advocate or support military action against Iran as a last resort. She is a steady friend of Israel, a more practical advocate for an Iraq drawdown, would support a surge of forces in Afghanistan, and generally has a more real politik outlook than the Obama crew. We could have done a lot worse if you consider the gaggle of far left liberals Obama tapped as his advisors during the campaign.

A bold move by Obama - one that I think he is going to come to regret.

By: Rick Moran at 10:18 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

11/17/2008
BLOGGER’S PC BETRAYS HIM
CATEGORY: Blogging

My five year old Alienware PC burned through its power supply yesterday. And when I say “burned through” I mean the acrid smell of toasting electronics was quite prevalent in my office. It appears that I didn’t clean the air portals often enough and the machine finally screamed “enough” and gave up the ghost.

Could that have been the reason my machine was slowing to a crawl after a few hours online? (Blogger shakes his head and begins to cry).

The nearest rescue for my machine was 70 miles away. Streator, IL is a lovely town but it is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. We had to go to the Best Buy in Bloomington to get a new power supply. And, just in case, we got my Christmas present early - a new HP laptop that really is handsome and functional.

To make a long story short, we put in the new power supply but it still doesn’t work. It now turns on alright but soon after, you hear 3 distinctive beeps and then the box shuts off. The power supply is fine. The sound system and monitor are getting juice. Something else was affected by the burnout so we have to pack the box up and drive all the way back to the Geek Squad at Best Buy (or find a repair place that is closer) just to see if we can’t get it working again.

I’d say screw it except for the pics, the docs, and some programs that I paid for and now don’t want the hassle of having to remember which ones they were and go back to download them again. It is definitely worth fixing if only for the 1st class sound and video cards that make watching movies and listening to music such a joy. So for the foreseeable future, I am going to have to write using this very nice laptop that will definitely take some getting used to.

Ergonomically, it sucks the big one. My neck and shoulders already ache because I have yet to experiment and find a comfortable working mode. For someone online for 14 hours a day, this is very serious. My desk is built for a desktop and am limited at the moment because we don’t have a router so I can work away from my internet connection.

But that is the least of my worries. So far, no complaints about Vista. And I was able to import all my AOL bookmarks which is making life this morning a lot easier (couldn’t do it before using XP for some reason - or I never figured out how). Now I just have to download Firefox, Skype, and maybe one or two other “can’t do without” programs and I’ll be fixed for a while.

I will try to write something later if I can get more comfortable. Right now, I can stand being in this position for maybe an hour before I have to take a break.

Any suggestions, analysis of my computer problem, or just catcalls from the peanut gallery would be appreciated.

Rick Moran
Proprietor

By: Rick Moran at 8:24 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

11/16/2008
HEZBULLAH SEEKING REFERENDUM ON KEEPING THEIR GUNS

I have not written at all about Lebanon since the cave in by March 14th forces at Doha last May, giving in to the terrorist’s demands that they be allowed to dominate the cabinet. Not only was I depressed by Hezbullah’s victory, but it just became very difficult to defend politicians who betrayed the fundamental tenet of democracy - majority rules.

The March 14th coalition won the parliamentary election of 2006 fair and square. Hezbullah refused to accept this fact and began a siege of the government building, demanding that they be given veto power over cabinet decisions. Several assassinations of March 14th MP’s reduced their majority while many remaining members hunkered down at the Grand Serail protected by an army of body guards since they didn’t trust the Lebanese Army.

Finally, in May of 2008 Hezbullah used a flimsy excuse involving the government’s attempt to shut down a communications network that was being used to facilitate messages with Syria to launch a war against their own people. Sunni areas of Beirut were targeted and eventually taken over by Hezbullah militiamen while the country threatened to explode into civil war.

Realizing that they couldn’t win against Hezbullah’s arms (that the UN has demanded 3 times they lay down), March 14th gave in to most of the demands at Doha, Qatar.

Since then, violence has sputtered in the north, Hezbullah has been emboldened, a new favorable (to Hezbullah) electoral law, has been enacted, a new president whose sympathies with Syria have been called into question has taken office, and the coalition of democrats known as the March 14th forces have been in retreat.

Now Hezbullah apparently figures its position is powerful enough that they can legitimize their defiance of UN resolutions requiring that they disarm by calling for a referendum on the question.

In an interview with Maj. Thomas Smith, Lebanese expert Walid Phares commented on why Hezbullah would risk a vote on their militia’s - and hence the party’s existence?

DR. WALID PHARES: We have to understand the geopolitics of Lebanon have dramatically changed since last May. Any analysis of Hizballah’s positions and initiatives today must be developed based on the new factor in the equation, which is that Hizballah’s control of Lebanon’s national security. Hence, when Hizballah’s leaders offer to submit their weapons-possession to a referendum it means they have insured a military-protected control mechanism over the political process in the country. They can determine the answer to the referendum, which negates the validity of the referendum.

Yes, it is true that on March 14, 2005, one-and-a-half million Lebanese from all religious and ethnic sectors marched against the Syrian occupation and terrorist militias. But that clear cut popular majority has since been undermined, intimidated, and essentially defeated over the past three years. The assassinations of representatives of the Cedars Revolution such as Parliamentarian Gibran Tueni, the attempt to kill outspoken journalists such as May Chidiac, and the militia invasion of Beirut and the Chouf districts in May are all evidence that Lebanon today lives under terror and needs significant help from the international community so that its people can exercise free popular referendums.

Ironically, I had suggested via Arab satellite TV three years ago, that the Lebanese people be allowed to decide on the weapons of Hizballah, in other words should an armed militia be permitted to exist outside the Lebanese Army. At that time and since then, no one from Hizballah or even the March 14 coalition considered the initiative. Obviously, at the time it wasn’t in Hizballah’s interest to accept a referendum knowing that an overwhelming majority of citizens would vote “no.” But after three years – and particularly since May 2008 – it appears as if they feel confident they can get a majority of Lebanese to agree to their keeping these weapons. Since they have the upper hand in the country militarily, they believe they can pull it off. As for March 14 and the Lebanese government: both have had multiple opportunities to have the UN by their side helping them implement UNSCR 1559. Unfortunately, they hesitated and lost that opportunity. In short, Hizballah’s call today for a referendum means they are close to transforming Lebanon into another Iran or Venezuela.

Does Hezbullah have ironclad control of the electoral process? Can they manipulate the vote to have it come out to their liking regardless of what the people feel?

Phares believes they wouldn’t attempt such a move unless they did. After all, Hezbullah is taking an enormous risk otherwise. As Phares points out, the majority of the people are opposed to their keeping their weapons:

SMITH: So do you believe that accepting the suggestion of Hizballah regarding a weapons referendum should be considered?

DR. PHARES: Yes, but only if there is a smart, strong Lebanese leadership able to turn the initiative in the right direction. Because, after all, there is a real popular-majority in Lebanon, which is opposed to the armed militias, particularly to the pro-Iranian forces. This is a fact that has not changed.

In fact, according to the information I have, the anti-Hizballah majority has grown wider among the masses within the various communities: not the other way around. If the leaders of the Cedars Revolution are politically intelligent they would accept Hizballah’s proposal and take the challenge all the way. If they recollect themselves and think strategically, they can pull a massive victory with democratic means.

SMITH: What if a majority voted “yes” for Hizballah’s weapons? Would that not be another victory for Hizballah?

DR. PHARES: Knowing the real aspirations of the public, I would accept that risk.

First, the advantage would be that Hizballah would have moved the legitimacy of their weapons from the divine level to the citizens’ level. That alone is significant.

Second, if the Lebanese are provided with all international mechanisms to express themselves freely, they will surprise Hizballah as well as their own elected representatives. The question is to enable the Lebanese to express themselves freely.

Even in the absence of the implementation of UNSCR 1559, a mechanism is possible to organize a real referendum. I’d say, it is feasible and has high chances for success. The question again is about the ability of Lebanese politicians to focus and act strategically, and not sink or be maneuvered into the narrowness which has led to so many setbacks to democracy in that unlucky country.

How much international oversight of such a referendum could realistically be expected? Not too much if Hezbullah has anything to say about it. And, of course, they have everything to say about it since any such proposal for international monitoring of the vote would have to come through the cabinet - a body that Hezbullah holds a veto over.

There is also the intimidation factor to consider. Hezbullah has shown that if they don’t get their way, their militia has no qualms about boldly entering Sunni and unfriendly Christian enclaves in order to throw their weight around. How would this affect the vote? It depends on whether Lebanese voters are willing to risk civil war to disarm the terrorists. In the past (as proved by the relieved response of the majority of Lebanese to the Doha Accords), the desire for peace has won out over everything. You can hardly blame them for this attitude. A majority of Lebanese were alive during the horrific violence of the civil war in the 1980’s. Many feel that it is worth anything - including the loss of democracy - to avoid that cataclysm again.

In addition to the intimidation factor, there has been an on-going effort to smear the leader of the March 14th forces, Said Hariri. Son of the slain ex-prime minister, Hariri has been accused by Syria of supporting the Fatah al-islam - the notorious Sunni terrorist group - as a means of attacking Hezbullah. Recently, the Syrians broadcast a “confession” from a Fatah al-Islam member who specifically named Hariri.

In fact, there is nothing new in this allegation. Last March, American journalist Seymour Hersh wrote about this very connection in a New Yorker article. He added that the US government and the Saudis were also in on the conspiracy. (Hersh also made the laughable charge that the US and Saudis were training a large Sunni militia to take on Hezbullah. Imagine Hersh’s surprise when Hezbullah invaded the Sunni section of Lebanon last May and was met with extraordinarily weak and ineffective resistance.)

Hersh’s sources have been debunked several times over, most notably by the scholar Tony Bey whose withering critique of Hersh’s inaccurate and poorly sourced “reporting” should have sent Sy back to covering the police beat. Instead, Hersh is apparently preparing another article for the New Yorker, this one on how misunderstood Syria is.

Can’t wait for that one.

Talk of a Syrian-Lebanese “coordination” on security may also complicate a referendum. It is believed that any such “understanding” would give Syrian President Assad a ready made excuse to march his army back into Lebanon in order to “protect” its sovereignty.

Dr. Phares thinks that given a fair chance, the Lebanese people will reject Hezbullah’s insistence that it should keep its armed militia as a “resistance” to Israel’s threats. They know full well that Israel will not attack Lebanon as long as armed groups like Hezbullah are prevented from attacking them.

And the best way to insure that is to take away Hezbullah’s arms - including their extensive inventory of missiles. Whether Hezbullah is serious about such a referendum or if the people have the courage to go against the terrorists both remain to be seen.

By: Rick Moran at 12:38 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

11/15/2008
SAVE THE AMERICAN FUR COMPANY!

With all this free money floating around and every CEO worth his salt lining up at the government trough ready to bury their faces and feed heartily on the taxpayer’s generosity, I think it’s time we began to look around and see what other companies - past and present - we should also claim to be “Too Big To Fail!”

For instance, a prime candidate for a government bailout would have to be John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. Sure it’s been bankrupt for 160 years but I didn’t see any limitation attached to that bailout bill, did you? Hell, if the Medici’s had an American subsidiary we could probably bail out that Renaissance era company too.

The fact is, the American Fur Company failed and it’s your fault. Tell the truth now, when was the last time you bought a beaver hat? Don’t you realize that thousands of fur trappers have been thrown out of work because you selfishly decided to be a slave to fashion rather than thinking of those trappers, trading post managers, export facilitators, dock workers, and ship captains who lost their jobs as a result of the switch from beaver pelts to silk in hat making?

And, of course, you know where that silk is coming from, right? This may have been the first instance of a Chinese attack on our economy. Haberdashers, seduced by cheap imports of silk, ought to be ashamed of themselves. The American Fur Company must be saved else we will lose our competitive edge in the world’s fur trade. Then there are the national security implications which are just too horrible to contemplate.

So we should give some of that $700 billion in bailout money to the descendants of John Jacob Astor and power up the fur trading business again so we can all buy a stinky, misshapen, butt-ugly hat made from the skin of cute little beavers who are trapped in steel jaws that, when sprung, clamp down on their leg, forcing the helpless creatures to either gnaw off their own limb or die a slow death by starvation. But if it will save American jobs, it will be worth it, right?

Similarly, we could save the “Big Three” American automobile manufacturers who have run into a skein of bad luck recently. Of course, that streak of bad luck has lasted 35 years and for all practical (and aesthetic) purposes, the US auto industry has been dead since then. But if we’re going to save The American Fur Company, we might as well try and pump some life into the moribund car manufacturing sector, right?

Actually, this might prove to be a bigger trick than trying to make beaver hats all the rage again. This is because there is a reason that Detroit has lost its positions as the Mecca of car manufacturing; they make sucky cars that no one wants to buy.

The Big Three can complain all they want to about the high cost of union benefits, unfair competition (Translation: It is unfair the Japanese are smarter, more innovative, and more quality conscious than we are.), and “green” regulations that add cost to their products. They are basically calling the American consumer stupid for actually wanting nice looking, trouble free, fully functional, safe, and adequately serviced autos. The gargantuan salaries paid to auto execs have not produced one single model that can outsell the Toyota Corolla.

For all their redesign, retooling, rethinking, and re-inventing the “corporate cultures” in Detroit, they have accomplished nothing in their efforts to compete with Japanese manufacturers. The excuse used to be that their plants were so much newer than ours. That is no longer the case as the average American auto assembly plant is almost just as recently built as the average Japanese plant. It’s not the age of the plant that matters anyway. It’s how the cars are built. And the Japanese have embraced new techniques, new technologies that give them a leg up in the competition.

Then it was the excuse that Japanese workers make much less than American unionized workers. That may have been true at one time but today, it is very close and getting closer all the time. The difference today is almost entirely due to health and pension benefits. But instead of losing market share because of this, the Japanese have been steadily increasing their sales numbers.

Face it. Detroit is in a fix of its own making. Shortsighted managers, unions who still believe that benefit packages should reflect 1970’s realities, a stubborn resistance to higher CAFE standards that would allow them to compete with the fuel efficient Japanese cars, and an inability to figure out how to make a decent profit on smaller cars. The fact that the enormous falloff in sales of SUV’s and other big car, high profit models was entirely predictable, the Big Three got caught with their pants down when gas prices got so high, people were paying a third of their weekly paycheck to fill up.

Despite all - failure at every level including executive, manufacturing, marketing, and labor - we are now supposed to rally around the cry “Too Big to Fail!” and hand these incompetents $25 billion (for now - more later, I promise you).

I say no way.

President-elect Obama wants to nationalize the auto industry:

Top advisers to President-elect Barack Obama are helping to draft an auto industry rescue plan that would bring new government oversight, including the possibility of an auto czar who could ensure the money was being used wisely.

Aides said Obama is also open to an oversight board that would perform the same function as one individual. The proposals come as the estimates of the cost to fix Detroit’s three largest automakers continue to mount.

“Certainly he wouldn’t believe in it being a blank check,” said an Obama adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to not being authorized to speak publicly on the topic. “He wants oversight to be making sure the auto companies have figured out how to become viable, ongoing concerns.”

Let’s be clear here. This would not be a “temporary” solution. Government “ensuring the money is spent wisely” sounds an awful lot like being able to approve or veto business decisions. If that’s the case, why shouldn’t the government be able to fire the boobs who are currently in charge and replace them with people they think could do a better job?

The point isn’t how much money they need or how much government control would be involved. The fact is that these companies are as dead as John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company and for similar reasons; an inability to adapt to changing market conditions and create a product that enough people want to buy in order to make the companies profitable. There’s a reason no one buys beaver hats anymore. And its the same reason that no one wants an underpowered, ugly, cramped Chevrolet Aveo.

I feel sorry for the thousands of workers who would lose their jobs if these companies went belly up. But the fault does not lie with the American taxpayer who those representing the workers and executives of failed companies want to saddle with their inadequacies.

We aren’t going to start the fur trading industry again by asking taxpayers to fund a rebirth. Neither should we try and restart the American automotive industry by asking taxpayers to save something that’s already dead.

By: Rick Moran at 11:28 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (23)

11/14/2008
AMERICA CAN PERFECT SOCIALISM

First, they tried it in Russia. Bread lines, sausage lines, blue jean lines, lines for toilet paper, lines to ask what line to get in so that you could get on a waiting list to stand in another line to get a place of your own and be able to leave the 1 room apartment you were sharing at age 30 with your wife, two kids, mommy and daddy, your no good brother in law, your gramma, and crazy uncle Ivan who liked to re-enact the Battle of Stalingrad at the most inopportune times.

The only things you didn’t have to stand in line for were lard and vodka. This is why they couldn’t make socialism work in Russia; fat, drunk people who were told “If you think you’ve got it bad, you should see how awful it is in the west.”

There were no more surprised people in the history of civilization than the Russian proletariat once satellites began beaming shows like Dallas and Falconcrest through the Iron Curtain. At the time, TASS was still showing film of race riots from the 1960’s and calling it “breaking news.” The big drawback, of course, is that the image that replaced greedy capitalists oppressing workers was that of greedy capitalists playing around on their wives with gorgeous women half their age while trying to cheat their family. A good question could be asked whether it was better to be thought of as Babbitt or J.R. Ewing?

They couldn’t make socialism work in Russia - something in the water probably. Neither could socialism find its legs in Poland, Hungary, and a half dozen other European countries that don’t even exist any more. Shared scarcity does not, it turns out, bring people together in a spirit of socialist brotherhood and comity. In fact, it sets people at each other’s throats, as the battle cry “I will get mine before you get yours and failing that, I will prevent you from enjoying what you get” was heard throughout Mittel Europa.

Making its way eastward, they then tried to impose socialism on a civilization that nearly invented, well, civilization. There are no more practical people on the planet than the Chinese, having gotten that way by outlasting every attempt to govern them effectively over a 3,000 year period. True libertarians, them. Unfortunately, the busybodies of the Chinese nanny state wouldn’t leave the peasants alone who after all, were perfectly happy using an ox to plow their fields and plant their rice by hand rather than do the modernization thing. Some village commissars were surprised to return to farms where they had delivered a shiny new tractor only to discover the peasants having turned the mechanical beast into a distillery.

(What is it about socialism that turns people into raging alcoholics?)

A few years ago, the Chicom thugs gave into the inevitable and decided to go with the flow, acknowledging that the underground capitalist economy was far outperforming the official socialist one which, as usual, was causing the government to rethink their “Five Year Plans” every 6 months or so. The only stipulation the government imposed on would be entrepreneurs was that they pay protection money to the government (both over and under the table).

Even the Chinese People’s Army dove in to the capitalist craze that hit China. They found it efficacious to contribute to certain Democratic presidential candidates in order to get access to technology that could, in a pinch, be used to destroy the very people who were selling the secrets. No doubt the generals who were growing fabulously rich selling stuff to their own government thought that this was a pretty good tradeoff. It’s not everyday you get to make money off your enemy’s foolhardiness.

Western capitalists swarmed the ancient cities with Euro-signs in their eyes. If we thought that a few thousand American and European businessmen bringing ideas like “Free Labor, Free Markets, Free Men” would change a civilization that was inventing block printing when Europeans were still living in dirt hovels, we had another thing coming. The magic of western capitalism and the obscenity of Mao’s socialism did not impress nor did it disturb the rhythms of life that had kept time for several milenia.

The people, having seen it all for 3,000 years shrugged and went back to using ox dung to fertilize their fields and wooden hoes to tend the crops. They’ve learned to use the tractor but last I heard, it still doubles as a still.

One would think that having failed in two of the most populous nations on earth that socialism would have died of natural causes - or been executed for crimes against common sense and humanity. Ah, but you underestimate its adherents. You see, it wasn’t socialism that failed. It was the people who tried to implement it! They are at fault, not the crazy quilt logic, the jaw dropping contradictions, the counterintuitive view of human nature, or the contrived diktats of bureaucrats who think a “market” is some place you go to stand in line for moldy beets.

That is why our friends across the pond in what we used to call western industrialized civilization - now not very western, less industrial, and an open question whether it is still “civilized” in any meaningful sense - decided to dip their toe into the socialist pool and see if they couldn’t make a go of it.

Listening to our own homegrown socialists here talking about how it is over there, you would think that the Europeans had discovered the secret to immortality or at least found the Fountain of Youth so gushy they are about how good the Euros have it. Cradle to grave care, a 36 hour workweek, nearly impossible to get fired, real nice trains, and a list of social services that would make an American’s head swim.

Of course, they also have high suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, and divorce rates. They don’t have children either because they hate them or think them an impediment to their lifestyle. The vast majority of them live drab, colorless lives with little opportunity to better themselves. And who would want to considering that governments frown on anyone getting too far ahead of their neighbors. They import the colored peoples of the world to do their scut work and then do everything they can to prevent their assimilation by sticking them in immigrant ghettos where hate and resentment against their lovable hosts will almost certainly explode into uncontrollable violence one day.

Other than that - paradise.

The question being asked openly for the first time in my lifetime is can socialism work in America?

Answer: Yes we can!

I say we should ignore what socialism (or the faux variety of the disease that afflicts Europe) has done elsewhere and approach the Bush/Obama socialist takeover of our industries as Americans should - with hope, optimism, a “can-do” attitude, and the desire to make a buck off of it.

I mean, if we can hack a civilization out of a wilderness, defeat the largest army and most powerful military in the world at the time to win our independence, fight a gigantic, continent sized civil war, tame the Spanish, spank the Kaiser, roll over Hitler and Tojo, and make the Soviet Union a memory, we can make socialism work! Yes we can perfect it!

First of all, we have to do something about the inevitable lines that we will be forced to queue up for in order to get any goods or services. Socialism is all about lines, about the orderly distribution of scarcity. Now I don’t know about you but if there is one thing liable to get my dander up it is standing in line - at the grocery store, at the bank, at Madame Crystal’s Pool Hall and Massage Parlor - anywhere.

Why not get the geniuses at Microsoft to work on this problem right away? Put the guys who came up with Vista on it, that would do the trick. Better yet, this sounds more like a marketing challenge to me. We should get in touch with the Coca-Cola Company immediately and find the guys who signed off on the campaign for Coke Zero. Their judgment is exactly what we need to solve this little problem.

You see, it is my contention that by getting utter failures to work on solving our line problem, we can’t go wrong. They are bound to come up with the worst solution imaginable. Hence, by making matters 10 times worse, we realize the full potential of socialism to really screw up our lives.

Next up, planning the economy. For this problem, we must look long and hard for the perfect combination of corruption and ignorance. Congress is too busy so we’ll have to go to the private sector.

We could commute the sentences of those Enron guys. And maybe a few others like the fellows who did such a great job driving Worldcom into the ground. These are the sorts we need to do a really 1st class job of taking the most vibrant, creative, productive economy in the history of the human race and flushing it down the toilet.

The one other area we could perfect that is not necessarily native to socialism but no good socialistic country should be without is the stifling of dissent and the imposition of group-think that would kill independent thought.

Face it, we wouldn’t be very good at this. Americans are just too cranky, too much in love with contrariness, too admiring of the guy who marches to a different drummer that anyone we put in charge of of making this an unquestioning, obedient, robotic thinking society would have their hands full.

As in other nations that have tried this - Soviet Union and China come instantly to mind - it just wouldn’t do to put those who believe in antiquated and outmoded ideas like free markets in jail. They must be shown the error of their ways. They must be given a new vision of the brotherhood of man. They must be led to the idea that forced altruism, insipid do-gooderism, and hectoring moralistic clap trap is the best way to approach life.

They must be beaten over the head early and often in order to show them the error of their ways.

This cannot be done, obviously, in the middle of the street or even in what used to be the privacy of their homes (as you know, it wouldn’t be “their” home anymore, but everybody’s). All that screaming would be bad for socialist morale not to mention dirtying our streets with blood and stuff. Street cleaners are our brothers too and we should only ask them to do what each according to their abilities etc.

I think either Michael Moore or blogger John Avarosis would be good candidates for the top job in our Department of Ideological Reform. Glenn Greenwald would make a good deputy for either man. They all hate conservatives sufficiently that either would be able to adequately carry out the purge of such thought from our national consciousness.

One thing is for sure, we Americans are going to give it our best shot. Once we are resolved to completing a task be it defeating Hitler or perfecting the idiocy that is socialism, I am convinced that we cannot be stopped.

George Bush has made an excellent start and I’m sure Barack Obama is eager to see what he can do to bring about this change that will remake America. What have we got to lose? Let’s get behind our new president and make socialism as synonymous with America as baseball, apple pie, and corrupt Congressmen.

Remember the children…

By: Rick Moran at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)

11/13/2008
DISSENT IN THE AGE OF OBAMA
CATEGORY: Politics

The Age of Obama has already begun in many respects as George Bush toddles off toward the sunset and Obama’s people swarm Washington, cognizant of the fact that they have less than 70 days to create an administration out of thin air. It really is one of the more remarkable facets of our democracy, this peaceful handover of power.

After nearly 4 years of hearing that George Bush would never “allow” an election and that it was likely that martial law would be declared and Bush would assume the presidency for life, it might be nice to get an apology from those on the left who advanced this preposterous idea. But asking the left to apologize for anything is a waste of bandwidth and breath. But there is no doubt that their “dissent” crossed the line many times and the “reality based community” went totally, completely, off its rocker cuckoo.

All the cockamamie conspiracy theories about Bush they have advanced over the last 8 years - about how Bush would set himself up as a dictator and a tyrant, how he would put his political enemies in concentration camps (built by Haliburton don’t you know), how there would be a “Reichstag Fire” - meaning another terrorist attack perpetrated by Bush who as we all know knew about 9/11 in advance and almost certainly planned it - in order that the president could institute all manner of draconian measures in order to silence his critics - all of it has been proved wrong by the passage of time. They are still holding out hope that Bush will attack Iran thus making something that has been predicted at least 5 times in the last 7 years come true. But time is running out and Bush is simply not cooperating.

This was the kind of “dissent” we had from the left over the past 8 years. All of this “speaking truth to power” was a mirage, a product of fevered imaginations and paranoid delusions sparked by unreasoning hatred and contempt for the President of the United States. And I have no doubt we will see similar nonsense from many on the right who are already getting the vapors just thinking about an Obama presidency.

Admittedly, this unhinged variety of dissent against Bush was practiced by a very vocal minority of liberals during the Bush presidency. The problem was that some very prominent lefties occasionally found themselves taking part in the madness. Glenn Greenwald and Dave Neiwert were particularly adept at walking to the edge of total derangement in their critiques while forgoing some of the more wacky notions that Bush was a cross between Satan and Stalin. Nevertheless, they and other prominent progressives indulged in some of the most vile, hateful, unreasoning, illogical falsehoods about Bush and Republicans in order to advance their political agenda or to win the approval of lefty knuckledraggers.

But things are going to be much different now that Barack Obama - our first African American president - is in charge. Or will they be?

Certainly on the left, the idea of “speaking truth to power” will fall by the wayside as will the notion that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” In fact, if initial indications hold true, some dissent will soon be equated with racism. And if you thought that political correctness was widespread before Obama was elected, the straitjacket the left is about to put language and symbolism in will make what they have done previously seem tame by comparison.

Consider:

The day after Barack Obama became president-elect of the United States, Larry DeBaker flew Old Glory outside his Pulaski Township home — upside down.

Neighbor Marilynn Curry said Friday she is offended by DeBaker’s action, particularly on the weekend before Veterans Day and just after the election of Obama.

According to the United States Code, as it pertains to flag etiquette, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

“I do feel people are in danger,” DeBaker, 52, of 3703 50th St., said Friday night. “This country is in distress as far as I’m concerned.”

DeBaker, a McCain supporter, said the country “elected to the highest office in the land someone we don’t know anything about.”

DeBaker said had planned to fly the flag upside down for a week or so, but is also considering taking it down until someone other than Obama is president.

Curry said she, her husband, William, and their daughter, Kacey, 12, a sixth-grader at New Brighton Middle School, had returned Friday afternoon from a Veterans Day program at the school when they noticed the flag.

Curry said her daughter said of the flag’s positioning, “That’s just rude and ignorant.”

Even the family doesn’t argue the man’s right to hang the flag upside down. But apparently, those champions of First Amendment Freedoms at Vanity Fair are wondering why the “National Press is Ignoring Small Town Racism” - and the first item is a story about the guy above exercising his right to protest Obama’s election by reversing the field of stars.

Racism? There is not one single solitary clue in that piece that would even hint at racism on his part. And there’s a problem with a few other examples of “racism” Vanity Fair has detected in Jesusland:

But there are plenty of people out there who don’t like it one bit that a black man is about to become leader of the free world.

For whatever reason, the national papers and wire services are ignoring the steady stream of local reports concerning post-election acts of racism. The only place to find them is in small-town papers. VF Daily scoured small-town America for news of these incidents. What we found may shock you.

• In Pulaski Township, Pennsylvania, a flag was hung upside down. [Times Online]

• In Midland, Michigan a man paraded through an intersection in a KKK robe. [MLive]

• A noose was hung from a tree at Baylor University. [Baylor Lariat]

• In Loxahatchee, Florida, a family home was covered in racist graffiti. [WPTV.com]

• A gunstore employee in Traverse City, Michigan hung a flag upside down. [Traverse City Record-Eagle]

• In Stokes County, N.C., a man crossed his flag with a black X and hung it upside down. [Winston-Salem Journal]

• At the University of Arizona, a cartoon with an individual using a racial slur against black people caused an uproar. [DailyWildcat.com]

• In Apolacon Township, Pennsylvania an interracial couple who supported Obama found a burned cross in their yard. [Star-Gazette]

• In Mount Desert Island, Maine black effigies were hung from nooses. [Bangor Daily News]

Now clearly some of these incidents are disturbing and should be dealt with by the law.

But aren’t we overreacting just a touch here? We are a nation of 300 million people and this is the best Vanity Fair can do in finding racism that “isn’t being reported” by the media? What do you suppose the ratio of racist demonstrations to legitimate protest might be? A thousand to one? Ten Thousand to one? More? Is there such a thing as “legitimate” protest? Vanity Fair has certainly narrowed the definition haven’t they.

And let’s look at a couple more of these incidents that Vanity Fair claims are “racist.” They already smeared Mr. Debaker by lumping him in with the cross burners. Do you suppose they are trying to drum up outrage over other non-racist incidents?

How about the “noose hung in a tree” at Baylor?

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, a rope was discovered tied like a noose hanging from a tree outside of Morrison Hall, prompting the Baylor NAACP and Baylor’s Association of Black Students to hold a joint meeting to discuss racially charged events on Election Day. The groups feel the acts were indicative of a racist culture at Baylor.

Devin Culberson, Spring freshman, found a thin, white rope tied to a loop at the end, hanging from a tree. Culberson borrowed a knife from a janitor and cut it down, he said.

The rope evokes historical images of when black people were hanged from trees in the American South in the early 1900s.

The rope is now in possession of the Baylor Police. Dub Oliver, Vice President of Student Life, says that he believes it was intended to look like a noose and send a hateful message. He hopes students will continue to come forward and help with the investigation.

Would someone want to explain this cryptography to me? Mr. Oliver “believes” it was “intended to look like a noose.” The rope was “tied like a noose” according to the single eyewitness to this “hate crime.”

Forgive me but either this story is poorly written (it is) or nobody knows what the hell is going on. There appear to be a lot of assumptions being made - not the least of which is that 1) the rope was, in fact, a “noose” and 2) that it was not placed their by Mr. Culberson in order to garner attention - a ploy we see often on college campuses. What we do know is that the Baylor African American community jumped on this questionable incident and concluded with little evidence and no logic whatsoever that there is a “racist culture” at Baylor.

There very well might be. But this story is so thin it cries out for a little more proof before a publication like Vanity Fair includes it with the Kluxers who are showing their displeasure with Obama.

Then there’s the racist cartoon at the University of Arizona. Did Vanity Fair actually read the piece they linked to? If they did, they would have discovered that the artist -Keith “Keef” Knight - who drew that cartoon regularly satirizes race relations in his cartoons. And even if they did read the piece, they almost certainly missed this:

Knight is a prominent black artist who often uses art in comic form to bring social, political and racial issues to the forefront of people’s minds. For example, one Knight comic showed police brutality against black Americans in order to stir discussion.

Accusing a black artist of racism against African Americans might be a first - even for Vanity Fair.

I am obviously not saying that cross burnings, racist graffitti, or racial epithets is legitimate dissent. What I am saying is that Vanity Fair is exaggerating. I see no huge breakout of racist incidents in the aftermath of an Obama victory. I see some unhinged criticism coming from the usual suspects on the right.

But then there’s this from Lucianne Goldberg:

We lost some long time posters yesterday. Password canceled, comments deleted, outa here. All because some of us haven’t gotten a grip. We lost an important election. Stuff happens.Don’t lose your ability to fight the good fight because you can’t control your temper.

We are conservatives but we refuse to be in a bad mood about it.

Ed Morrissey wrote a good post about Obama Derangement Syndrome when that idiot Georgia Congressman Braun compared Obama to Hitler and Stalin:

If we plan to offer a rational alternative to the coming debacle of the next two years, then we’d better stick to facts and eschew hyperbole. We need to oppose the reality of the radical agenda proposed by Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress, not fantasies spun out of context-free snippets of speeches. The more critics invoke Hitler and Stalin instead of Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson, the better the reality of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi will seem in 2010.

There is going to be a huge temptation on the part of the left and Obama to use the race card over and over again to stifle dissent. I doubt whether they will be able to resist the pull of such a powerful weapon. They certainly didn’t resist it during the campaign. There is no reason to expect that if they can shoehorn race into any critique of Obama’s policies, they will do so regularly and shamelessly.

So before we go off half cocked and determine that there is a massive increase in racist incidents from people who are unhappy that Obama won, perhaps we should consider the source. Vanity Fair appears to be deliberately trying to gin up fears of a racist backlash in order to stifle legitimate dissent.

Thankfully, this tactic won’t work unless we allow it to.

By: Rick Moran at 1:36 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (23)

11/12/2008
SUCKLING THE GOVERNMENT SUGAR TIT

With the battle cry of “Too Big to Fail!” corporate and industry lobbyists are swarming the Treasury Department, looking to get a bite of that $700 billion pie the government so kindly left on the window sill to cool.

It’s a goddamn free for all - as in free money for all - and the predatory instincts of the well heeled hired guns who make their living grasping the taxpayer by the neck and shaking until the cash pours out of us are on full display.

They call it the “Troubled Asset Relief Program” or TARP and of that $700 billion authorized by Congress, the Treasury Department has handed out about $290 billion of it - and not all of it to who Congress intended it to go to.

One of the problems is that Congress decided to give Secretary Paulson almost unlimited discretion in deciding who should get the goodies. Big mistake. Once word was out on the street that absolutely free money was to be had by anyone “Too Big to Fail,” the wolfpack began to clog the halls of the ancient Treasury building, slinking from office to office, looking for a piece of the action.

Apparently, the only criteria necessary for receiving a diamond studded, 24 carat, mink-lined gift from the taxpayer was the degree of shamelessness on the part of your lobbyist - and their ability to knee walk in supplication to Paulsen’s office:

The Treasury Department is under siege by an army of hired guns for banks, savings and loan associations and insurers — as well as for improbable candidates like a Hispanic business group representing plumbing and home-heating specialists. That last group wants the Treasury to hire its members as contractors to take care of houses that the government may end up owning through buying distressed mortgages.

The lobbying frenzy worries many traditional bankers — the original targets of the rescue program — who fear that it could blur, or even undermine, the government’s effort to stabilize the financial system after its worst crisis since the 1930s.

Among the most rattled are community bankers.

“By the time they get to the community banks, there may not be enough money left,” said Edward L. Yingling, the president of the American Bankers Association. “The marketplace is looking at this so rapidly that those who have the money first may have some advantage.”

Adding to the frenzy is the possibility that the next Congress and White House could change the rules further. President-elect Barack Obama has added his voice by proposing that the struggling automakers get federal aid, which could mean giving them access to the fund — something the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., has resisted.

Don’t have yours yet? Me neither. What are we doing wrong? Maybe we should talk to the Commissar:

Then there is the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is asking whether boat financing companies might be eligible for aid to ensure that dealers have access to credit to stock their showrooms with boats — costs have gone up as the credit markets have calcified. Using much the same rationale, the National Automobile Dealers Association is pleading that car dealers get consideration, too.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of good news for them individually,” said Jeb Mason, who as the Treasury’s liaison to the business community is the first port-of-call for lobbyists. “The government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers among industries.”

Mr. Mason, 32, a lanky Texan in black cowboy boots who once worked in the White House for Karl Rove, shook his head over the dozens of phone calls and e-mail messages he gets every week. “I was telling a friend, ‘this must have been how the Politburo felt,’ ” he said.

Except the Commies came by their socialism honestly. Here you have a bunch of thieves lining up for it:

The Treasury set a deadline of Friday for institutions to apply for capital investments, which has meant a grueling few weeks for already overworked officials like Mr. Mason.

“Jeb is like the customer service agent at Verizon when the power lines go down,” said Robert S. Nichols, president of the Financial Services Forum, a trade group for big institutions like Citigroup, Fidelity and Allstate Insurance, some of which have received federal money.

Not exactly a customer service agent. They’re more likely to take your money rather than hand it out.

Still can’t get on the gravy train? There’s always Plan B: When in doubt, hire a former candidate for president of the United States to do your schmoozing for you:

Law and lobbying firms that specialize in government contracting fired off dispatches to clients and potential clients explaining opportunities in the new program. Capitalizing on the surge of interest, several large firms, including Patton Boggs; Akin Gump; P & L Gates; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; and Alston & Bird, have set up financial rescue shops.

Alston & Bird, for example, highlights its two biggest stars — former Senator Bob Dole and former Senator Tom Daschle. Mr. Dole “knows Hank Paulson very well” and has been “very helpful” with the financial rescue groups, said David E. Brown, an Alston & Bird partner involved in its effort.

“And of course, Senator Daschle is national co-chair of the Obama campaign,” Mr. Brown added, noting that because Mr. Daschle is not a registered lobbyist, his involvement is limited to “high level advisory and strategic advice.”

In addition to the banks, savings and loans, financial services companies, insurance giants, and any corporation that can redefine itself as being either a crazy uncle or poor cousin of one of the above, there is also Detroit seeking to be rewarded for designing ugly cars that no one wants and that get less gas mileage than the Space Shuttle. It appears that no level of failure, no limit on incompetence and stupidity, will stay the government from handing out cash to the unworthies, the profligates, the dimwitted sots who run American corporations.

And of course, we hear the tocsin sound among Democrats, calling the faithful to class warfare as an effort is still underway to find some means of making the rest of us pay for the stupidity of those who got tangled up in the sub prime mortgage mess.

“Too Big to Fail!” also means “Too Big an Idiot to Fail!”

“I’d like to see them use more of the money in TARP to help homeowners,” said Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “I think we’ve given them more authority than they have used.”

To be sure, the program announced on Tuesday by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could lead to significantly lower mortgage payments for several hundred thousand people facing foreclosures.

The program would be open to people who are at least three months delinquent on mortgages that are either owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The goal would be to reduce the monthly payments on all of those loans — by stretching the term to 40 years, or lowering the interest rate, or even lowering the amount of the loan — so that payments would not be higher than 38 percent of a family’s monthly income.

“Foreclosures hurt families, their neighbors, whole communities and the overall housing market,” said James B. Lockhart, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Eureka! Finally, a way to grab some of that bailout money for ourselves. Of course, you have to have a loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. And you have to not pay your mortgage for a couple of months (How many people who are two months delinquent will simply decide not to pay that third month in order to be eligible for the giveaway?).

But never fear. Help is on the way. And, on behalf of your fellow taxpayers, let me just say that I, for one, don’t mind giving mortgage scofflaws some of my hard earned cash - just as long as you let me spend the night whenever I want and allow me to lay in my hammock in your backyard every once and a while during the summer. I think that’s a fair exchange, don’t you?

By the time all is said and done, I am confident in saying that the government will not make the hard choices necessary to stem the flow of tax dollars to companies who have failed in the market place and now seek to have government reverse that decision and give the risk takers, the gamblers, the deadbeats, and the just plain greedy a second and third chance. Not as long as there are lobbyists who have dollar signs shining in their eyes and the smell of free cash stinking up our Capitol city.

What a spectacle.

By: Rick Moran at 9:53 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

11/11/2008
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: TRANSITION

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

Tonight, Jazz Shaw and Fausta Wertz join me for a conversation about issues surrounding the presidential transition.

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 (1)