Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Chicago East, Politics, Presidential Transition — Rick Moran @ 12:41 pm

Squabbling over the spoils of victory is a time honored American electoral tradition. After all, the winning candidate has, by definition, been able to cobble together coalitions of somewhat disparate groups and achieved victory by promising them goodies - or at least a friendly ear in the Oval Office.

In Obama’s case, his appeal to the center (which has gotten slightly more liberal over the last decade) has raised suspicions among his more rabid partisans on the far left that Obama just isn’t “progressive enough” and that putting pressure on the new Administration to toe the line and adopt their agenda should begin early.

(Note: I find it fascinating that complaints about ideological purity from both the Republican and Democratic bases could be exactly the same - except one side won and the other lost.)

Regardless of where you think Obama is on the ideological spectrum, it’s a good bet that the new president will try, at least at first, to tack more center-left in his policies than give in to his radical base of hard left activists who feel Obama owes them for their support. Big Labor, NOW, the Netroots, and other extremist elements in Obama’s coalition all think their support was decisive in putting the candidate over the top and now have their hands out. How Obama responds to their entreaties will determine his initial success or failure.

This piece by John Heilemann in New York Magazine details the initial skirmishing by some of these groups over Obama’s choice of Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff and his mulling over the choice of Larry Summers, former president at Harvard, for Secretary of the Treasury.

Summers is the rumored favorite for the Treasury posting having served in that position the last year of the Clinton presidency. According to Heilemann, he enjoys wide support on Wall Street and among the foreign financial establishment.

But he also brings some baggage that displeases Obama’s radical base. You might recall that he was forced to resign as Harvard president because he dared to quote empirical evidence that women do not do as well in math and science fields as men. He gave as an explanation three possible reasons; more men are willing to make the commitment in time and effort to advancing in these fields; that there were innate differences between the sexes; and that there was discrimination in the workplace and sexism in the socialization process.

All of these hypotheses are probably correct to one degree or another. But such truth telling always gets one in trouble with the left - especially since Summers said he believed that the likeliest explanation was the first reason he gave with the others in descending importance. (Brendan Nyhan has a better summary of the controversy here.)

Not recognizing the victimhood culture advanced by feminists as the main cause of the lack of women in math and science was Summers sin and he paid for it by eventually being forced to resign. Note that it wasn’t that he dismissed the idea, it’s just that he didn’t pander to the notion that every explanation for disparity between the sexes necessarily had to do with discriminatory actions of a male dominated culture.

The long knives on the left came out for Summers almost before the Grant Park celebration was over:

The mau-mauing of Barack Obama officially began less than 24 hours after he won the White House, when National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy piped up about the possibility of Obama picking Larry Summers as his Treasury secretary. Gandy told the Huffington Post she had “mixed feelings” about Summers, saying he “doesn’t seem to get” the economic implications of gender-based wage disparities. She cited Summers’s incendiary comments as president of Harvard about women’s intrinsic inaptitude for math and science—the ones that helped get him booted—as a cause for concern. And she expressed some displeasure that no female economists are being mentioned as contenders for the Treasury job. “We’re gonna be forwarding some names to the Obama transition team,” Gandy said. “It’s important that in this new administration women’s voices are heard and heeded.”

The next day, the HuffPo ran another anti-Summers story, this time revisiting a controversial memo on the economic logic of exporting pollution to the developing world that he wrote (or at least signed his name to) in 1991 at the World Bank—and also suggesting that his having once dated wingnut Laura Ingraham “could become a source of political embarrassment” to Obama. Soon enough, Summers’s inflammatory tendencies were being invoked all over cable news; in a post whose headline called Summers a “fat, hated burnout,” Wonkette declared, “Want change, a fresh start? Hire a notorious ex-Clintonite who masturbates to NAFTA!”

I once wrote of Wonkette that she looked like she was “pushing 40, pre-middle aged, dumpy, lumpy, policy maven” and that her site contained “No original thinking. Dull, drab, almost humorless, and totally without redeeming value. In short, a waste of time and bandwidth.”

She wrote me “You stay classy, guy.” Still something of a blogging newbie, I was somewhat ashamed and wrote a post the next day saying I had gone too far in my description of her personal appearance.

Today, I take it all back. I wasn’t half as rough on her as she deserves.

Besides Cox’s lack of coherence (Shocking sexual imagery to describe someone’s support for a trade agreement? Now that’s what I call a slutty policy maven.), the reaction of NOW and other opponents of Summers shows what Obama is going to be up against during the transition. These are groups that have been out of power for a long time and will seek to hold the new president’s feet to the fire on cabinet and White House personnel appointments.

Take the Emanuel choice for chief of staff. Rahmbo is part of the Chicago East mafia that will be moving to Washington as Obama takes charge. Several higher ups in his campaign, including David Axelrod (former press aide to Mayor Daley), Valerie Jarrett (Machine insider), and Marty Nesbitt (political fixer and moneyman) will also have prominent jobs in an Obama Administration. To claim that any of these folks are “agents of change” is laughable. Nesbitt headed up Daley’s Housing Authority while Jarrett chaired the powerful Chicago Transit Board. You don’t get those plum jobs by reforming anything. You get them by doing what you’re told.

Emanuel is better known as a Clinton attack dog but his roots are all Chicago. He has been called a “pragmatist” which is only slightly wrong. If “pragmatism” means doing anything and everything to win, then that fits Emanuel to a “T.” Policy and ideology are not as important to the new chief of staff as coming out on top. If this means knocking a few liberal heads together in order to shut them up and keep them from trying to push some cockamamie ideas on his boss, Emanuel is perfect for the job.

But Heilemann points out that Obama and Emanuel will have to deliver on something if they expect support for their agenda.

What’s easy to forget is that, in building his administration, the audience that Obama is—or should be—playing to isn’t hard-core, stone-cold Democrats. It’s the broader electorate, much of which has invested great hope in Obama but continues to watch him closely, waiting for proof that his promise of fundamental change isn’t, well, just words. What that audience would regard as more of the same wouldn’t be a handful of Clintonites in high positions but the sight of Obama’s capitulating to the hoary interest-group posse that’s just begun to rear its head, or to the demands of the extant congressional party Establishment. To a striking degree, and by design, Obama’s victory was won independently of these forces. He owes them precious little. And that gives him the freedom to build a government on the singular criteria of its capacity to get shit done.

The heartening thing is that, so far, Obama seems to get this deeply. It’s early days, of course, but both the Emanuel and Podesta appointments reflect clarity of purpose, maturity, and cold-eyed calculation in roughly equal measure. The choice of Summers would demonstrate all these things, too—along with a bracing lack of concern for what the carpers and ankle-biters think. For Obama, the trick will be remembering that change does indeed require change agents, but that agents of change can be found in the unlikeliest of places: the Clinton camp, Old Washington, and even the GOP. In 1992, Clinton promised an administration that looked like America. Obama is promising something much more lofty—transcendence, transfiguration, a new frontier. But a government that actually, you know, works would be a fine place to start.

So where’s the payoff for these groups? In addition to naming the cabinet, the president gets to appoint several thousand assistant secretaries,undersecretariess, members of various commissions - all of the non-permanent part of the bureaucracy. In many ways, these appointments will be even more crucial than his cabinet appointments because the president’s will is translated through the lenses of these true believers. And unless you have a cabinet secretary willing to rein in their excesses, Obama could find himself waking up one morning to headlines like “Department of Agriculture says catsup is a vegetable.”

Groups like NOW, Code Pink, Moveon, and other far left organizations know full well where their real payoff is coming. They are no doubt compiling lists of thousands of the fellow travelers as I write this, all set to hand them to John Podesta or some other conduit for consideration by Obama. These are the real “agents of change.”

And they are to be feared as people in the Middle Ages feared the plague.



Filed under: General — Rick Moran @ 10:02 am

Today, the President and the president-elect will meet at the White House to discuss the transition - among other things. One can see Bush - a man who by several accounts, does not take criticism gracefully - all steely eyed, a grim smile playing around the corners of his mouth as he will no doubt find some way to remind Obama of some of the things our new president said during the campaign about the 43rd chief executive.

But it will hardly be the most uncomfortable meeting of incoming and outgoing presidents in history. Jackie Kennedy described the ride to her husband’s inaugural with the Eisenhowers as “glacial.” Ditto Nancy Reagan who thought the Carters were being deliberately distant. When the White House changes party hands, it necessarily follows that the winner didn’t think much of the policies of his predecessor. Given the titanic egos involved, it is not surprising that there would be some hard feelings.

In this case, it follows that Obama will probably not be the most welcome visitor in the 8 years of the Bush White House. The Democrat, after all, has accused the President of ruining the country, of destroying the American Dream, of not caring about war casualties, of lying about weapons of mass destruction, of initiating policies to benefit the rich, of not caring about the financial meltdown, of destroying the planet, of sticking it to the poor and middle class, of not caring about the people of New Orleans after Katrina, and of general incompetence - among other things.

Gee. Why would Bush be upset with Obama?

They met once before at a White House breakfast for new senators. Obama described the meeting in his book The Audacity of Hope :

Obama!” Bush exclaimed, according to Obama’s account of the meeting in his second memoir, “The Audacity of Hope.” “Come here and meet Laura. Laura, you remember Obama. We saw him on TV during election night. Beautiful family. And that wife of yours — that’s one impressive lady.”

The two men shook hands and then, according to Obama, Bush turned to an aide, “who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the president’s hand.”

Bush then offered some to Obama, who recalled: “Not wanting to seem unhygienic, I took a squirt.”

The president then led Obama off to one side of the room, where Bush said: “I hope you don’t mind me giving you a piece of advice.”

“Not at all, Mr. President,” Obama told the commander-in-chief.

“You’ve got a bright future,” Bush said presciently. “Very bright. But I’ve been in this town awhile and, let me tell you, it can be tough. When you get a lot of attention like you’ve been getting, people start gunnin’ for ya. And it won’t necessarily just be coming from my side, you understand. From yours, too. Everybody’ll be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So watch yourself.”

Bush then noted that he and Obama had something in common.

“We both had to debate Alan Keyes,” the president said. “That guy’s a piece of work, isn’t he?”

Both men laughed and seemed to hit it off. But then, Bush began to speak of his agenda for his new term and weirdly, Obama describes Bush’s demeanor when talking about his goals exactly the same way that Obama talks when he speaks of his plans for the country:

“Suddenly it felt as if somebody in a back room had flipped a switch,” Obama wrote. “The president’s eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty. As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring, and appreciated the Founders’ wisdom in designating a system to keep power in check.”

Obama should examine tapes of some of his major speeches. There he will see “messianic certainty” in spades. And by the way Mr. president elect, did you happen to see the slavish devotion, the swooning, fainting, weeping, chest heaving, short stroking response of your robotic followers whenever you uttered any of your vapidness? “Republican Senate colleagues hang[ing] on his every word,” absolutely pales by comparison.

To be fair, that passage was written before Obamamania hit the world. But one wonders if Obama will still appreciate “the Founders’ wisdom in designating a system to keep power in check,” now that he has been elected to the same office.

In truth, the only check on Obama’s power will be Obama. As we’ve seen with President Bush, the Constitution is quite an elastic document when it comes to powers granted the chief executive. In time of war, the powers of Commander in Chief are expanded - sometimes considerably (see FDR and Lincoln) - and notions of civil liberties get a rough ride from the tug of war between privacy and security.

I did not support some of what President Bush initiated as security measures these last 8 years but neither am I a civil liberties absolutist who some suspect would be enormously satisfied if the government bent over backward to obey Constitutional protections to the letter and the spirit of the law while the US suffered a horrific attack. It would prove how morally superior they are to the rest of us mere mortals. (”What’s a couple of 9/11’s a year if the price we pay is a lessening of Constitutional liberties?”) That’s easily worth a couple of thousand lives to the Glenn Greenwalds of the world.

But Obama will no doubt discover very soon - perhaps today - what has kept our elected leaders from sleeping very well at night; that the extent and nature of the threat against our people is the biggest security challenge he will have as president. It is true that many of Obama’s followers do not believe this and, in fact, believe that the threat is overblown, used by Bush as both an electoral club to beat Democrats and as a way to aggrandize power unto himself. If Obama believes that, he is in for a very rude awakening.

I have no doubt that if the two men meet privately today, that President Bush will try to impress this fact on President elect Obama. Will he believe Bush? Will he believe our intelligence agencies? Rightly, Obama appears to be keeping his options open on the Terrorist Surveillance Program and other anti-terror measures initiated by Bush. He can talk all he wants to about “restoring Constitutional protections” but I suspect that, in the end, he will make a few adjustments to satisfy critics but keep the basic programs intact. The simple reason he might very well do this is that they have worked.

This is one meeting where I would love to be a fly on the wall. The expression is overused and has become hackneyed and cliched but that shouldn’t stop us from using the imagery of being an unobtrusive observer of great events to become immersed in history rather than just reading it.

Think of it as one of Einstein’s thought experiments. Go back to the cabinet meeting in June of 1862 where Lincoln discussed issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Put yourself in that time and in that the room as Stanton tries to dissuade Lincoln from issuing the edict until the Union achieves a military victory, telling him that otherwise, it would be seen as a “cry for help.” As they go around the table, each advisor in turn giving their opinion, would you be persuaded? Remember, you know nothing except what has happened previously, the future being as clouded as it is for Lincoln.

Such exercises teach you a lot about yourself as much as they instruct us of history.

In this case, being a fly on the wall when Obama meets Bush might open our eyes about how both men see the realities of power - its uses, its pitfalls, and its limitations. The presidency, it is said, is both the strongest and weakest elected office in the western world. It is the one office in America where power is measured by how the people perceive their chief executive. Bush was virtually powerless his last year in office due not only to his lame duck status but his historically low approval numbers. Conversely, Obama’s power will be at its zenith when he takes office next January.

After all, the Constitution gives the president very little to do. It is up to the man and his understanding of how to exercise the powers granted him that makes the president or breaks him. And being a fly on the wall as Obama discovers that for himself would be fascinating indeed.



Filed under: CHICAGO BEARS — Rick Moran @ 9:54 am

Chicago Bears Rex Grossman throws the ball while playing the ...

Rex “The Wonder Dog” Grossman starts in place of injured Kyle Orton against the undefeated Titans.

I am heartily sick of writing about the election and I’ll bet you’re sick of reading about it too. How many times can you say “Obama won and how sucky is that?” Or “Obama is my president but if that socialist/marxist uber liberal makes one wrong move I will criticize him severely.”

Severely, I say!

Besides, who cares about politics when My Beloved Bears (”The Beloveds” or simply, “My Beloveds”) have a chance to send a message to the rest of the league that they are a force to be reckoned with?

Today, The Beloveds take on the undefeated Tennessee Titans who are coached by a former Beloved Jeff Fisher. His playing career was cut short by a horrific broken leg suffered on a special teams play in late 1984 but the Bears thought so highly of him that they made him an assistant coach under Buddy Ryan during the 1985 Super Bowl run. His longevity for an NFL coach is incredible, having been the Titans head coach since 1994 when they were still in Houston.

The Beloveds record stands at a semi-respectable 5-3 but it just as easily could be 8-0 and the game today would feature two unbeatens. Alas, My Beloveds blew 4th quarter leads in all three of their losses - one last second loss to Atlanta after having the Beloveds take the lead with 11 seconds left and another loss to Tampa Bay where the Bucs tied the game with less than a minute to go and won it in overtime.

In all three losses (and a 48-41 free for all victory against Minnesota) the Bears defense was pathetic. The once vaunted defensive front 7 now resemble a sieve more than a brick wall. The D-backs haven’t been much better but at least they’ve been hitting hard and picking the ball with regularity. The 8 man defensive line rotation would be fine except none of them are getting any pressure at all on the QB. The linebackers have played adequately (Urlacher, God bless him, appears to have lost a step) with Lance Briggs the only genuine standout of the whole front 7.

What has saved My Beloveds this season has been the offense led by the surprisingly capable Kyle Orton and rookie running back Matt Forte who reminds a lot of fans of Neal Anderson in his best years. Forte is a very hard running slasher with a nice initial burst and the power to run through arm tacklers. When they commit to the run and he gets 20-25 carries, he has been quite effective. He has also been a very good weapon in the flat where they line him up in the slot on occasion.

But the key to the offensive success has been Orton’s ability to find the tight ends with regularity. Both Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark are huge targets in the middle of the field and are especially effective on first down. Olsen can also line up as a wide receiver where his big body is a tempting target against smaller D-backs.

The big offensive question at the beginning of the year (beyond who was going to play QB) was at wide receiver. A surprise at that position has been the play of 6 year man Brandon Lloyd who has proven a good third down receiver and with enough speed to go deep every once and a while. Lloyd has been injured the last 3 games and Orton has missed him on those third down passing situations.

Devin “The Windy City Flyer” has proven to be a deadly weapon - if they could ever get the ball in his hands. The return specialist has shown that he can catch the ball in traffic and can outrun any D-back in the league. But Orton’s downfield throws have been atrocious so Hester’s efforts have mostly gone for naught.

Rashied Davis still has trouble hanging on to the ball as does Marty Booker, a former Beloved who made a return this year from Miami. But they’ve made just enough plays to keep the sticks moving. Davis has the speed to be a top NFL receiver and if he could ever get some consistency going, would really be a nice compliment to Hester.

But it has been Orton who has proven the doubters (including me) wrong and led the offense to semi-respectability. None of that matters today as Orton will probably sit with an high ankle sprain and Wonder Dog will start in his place.

Grossman looked barely adequate in leading The Beloveds to two late scores to win the game against the still-winless Lions. But he hadn’t taken a snap with the first team in practice since preseason and his timing throws - especially to the outside - were way off. Hopefully, the defense and special teams will come through and score one or two touchdowns to make Wonder Dog’s job easier. Grossman’s job will be not to lose the game by taking care of the ball and moving the sticks so that at least the defense can get off the field every once and a while. A score or two would be a bonus against the tough Titans defense.

Here’s how I see some of the key matchups.


The Titans have an excellent front four anchored by two huge defensive tackles in Tony Brown and Alex Haynesworth. They account for 9.5 of Tennessee’s league leading 22 sacks which gives the Titans a huge advantage on passing downs. Their front four brings so much pressure they don’t need to blitz and can drop 7 or even 8 players into coverage. They also play the run very well giving up less than 92 yards a game.

The Bears O-line has been a surprise this year. Center Olin Kruetz may be getting a little long in the tooth but he and his linemates Garza, Tait, Beekman, and St. Clair have opened just enough holes for the backs and protected Orton adequately (15 sacks allowed). They will have their hands full today.

Advantage: Titans


Tennessee does not have a dominant offense. Kerry Collins is a barely adequate NFL quarterback as their passing game ranks 29th in the league. It is their 3rd ranked rushing offense that has led the way with rookie sensation Chris Johnson rushing for 715 yards and a nearly 5 YPC average.

The Bears D-Line must gum up the Titan’s blocking schemes and allow the backers to plug the holes. If they can keep Johnson under a hundred yards and force Collins to beat them, they have a chance.

Advantage: Titans


I expect Wonder Dog to get picked at least once today and probably twice. The Titans D-backs lead the league with 13 interceptions and have a nose for the ball while Grossman tends to force the play - especially when under pressure. There’s a chance that by halftime Coach Lovie will be looking longingly at Orton who is listed as “doubtful” on the injury list but could be sent in if things look like they might get out of hand.

Advantage: Big one for the Titans


This may be the key matchup of the game. Hunter Hillenmeyer will play today after sitting out last week with an injury. But the key will be Urlacher and his ability to fly to the ballcarrier. The DT’s will have to prevent the offensive tackles from getting by them to take Urlacher on one on one. If they can’t, Johnson will be in the defensive backfield before you can blink and into the secondary. The outside backers Hillenmeyer and Briggs must stay at home and prevent Johnson from making yardage on the cutback.

Johnson is not a huge threat as a pass receiver but he’s shifty enough that if he gets the ball in the flat, he can make a DB miss. Clean up will be important.

Advantage: Bears


Hester has yet to have a return for a touchdown this year. He is past due for a big game and this might be it. The weather is iffy which gives the Bears an advantage in field goal kicking with Robbie Gould’s local knowledge of conditions. Brad Maynard needs to be able to punt the ball out of trouble - something he has been inconsistent at doing this year. And the coverage teams must show more than they have.

Advantage: Bears


Coach Lovie’s record in big games is not stellar. I have written in the past that he doesn’t seem to be able to get his players “up” enough, especially on defense. Fisher, on the other hand, his his boys flying around the field with purposeful abandon. Will Lovie stick with the running game even if Forte is not getting much? If he puts too much on Wonder Dog, it probably means a loss for the Beloveds. Fisher will no doubt try and test the Bear’s wounded secondary. If successful there, it should open huge holes for Johnson.

Both coaches are among the best in the NFL but Fisher has better personnel and the incentive of keeping the perfect season intact.

Advantage: Slight to the Titans


The Beloveds are playing at home and will be at Green Bay next week. I wouldn’t put this in the category of a “must win” but it is possible the Bears need it more than the Titans. The defense has been embarrassed the way they’ve played and they should be. They are not a dominant defense but they are much better than they have shown so far this year. At times, they have appeared listless and disorganized. They have something to prove today and that may be the difference in the game.

For the Titans, they obviously want to remain undefeated and wish to prove they can win anywhere. But they have a 4 game lead in their division and may have a let down after last week’s overtime win against Green Bay.

Advantage: Bears

By all rights, My Beloveds should not be in this game. Grossman should stink up the joint, the Titans should run the ball effectively, and the Titans defense should dominate.

But if they played the game on paper, what fun would that be? I think Grossman will perform just well enough, the Bears will run the ball effectively in the second half, the defense will make a couple of big plays and Hester will bring one back. All of this adds up to a narrow Bears win in a low scoring contest.

Prediction: Bears 21-17.


Titans 21 Bears 14.

It shouldn’t have been that close. The utter futility of the offense under Grossman does not portend well for next week if Orton can’t start. It will take another two weeks for Wonder Dog to get enough reps in practice to give a halfway decent performance in a game. In the meantime, the offense sucks.

The defense? Stopped the run but again, no pass rush at all. Collins was able to sit back in the pocket and play pitch and catch with his receivers - who were wide open thanks to the tremendous cushion they were being given by the corners.

Forte played well but didn’t get enough touches. Those runs at the end of the game were made after the line was exhausted pass blocking and had no push forward to give Forte any running room. Four straight runs in the hurry up offense for 5 yards total. If he had run those 4 plays earlier in the game, the Bears might have made a few first downs and flipped their God-awful field position. As it was, they allowed Wonder Dog to pass - a mistake on the coaching staff.

Next up, at Green Bay. Thank God the NFC North is so weak. Even if they lose next week the Bears still have a chance to win the division and go to the playoffs.

Beyond that - fagettaboutit.



Filed under: Blogging, Decision '08, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:32 am

An interesting back and forth recently between two of my favorite bloggers highlighted a couple of things that needed airing as well as revealing some on the right to have the intellectual capacity of a chipmunk.

Patterico and Goldstein got into it over something I’ve written about at length; the idea that we should not attempt to delegitimize Obama, that he is the clear winner of the election and that in a democracy, once the people have spoken, the minority accepts the will of the majority and takes on the role of “loyal opposition.”

Patterico took this concept one step farther and posited the notion that Obama was a “good man:”

Good men do bad things, and in the pursuit of ambition, they almost always do. Barack Obama is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination.

What’s more, I think he will damage this country with bad policies. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. Inevitably, he is going to take actions that I think are disastrous, and somebody will come back and say: “Hey, Patterico! I thought you said Barack Obama was a good man!” Yes, but I never said he wasn’t going to do horrible things. It’s quite clear he will.

What’s more, there is no way in hell he is going to do away with the poisonous atmosphere in Washington, and anyone who thinks that he can is a fool. It will be amusing to watch him try.

But I make no apologies for saying he is a good man. He is my President. He is our President. And while he hasn’t always done good, I do believe he is fundamentally a good man and a patriot who wants to make this country a better place.

Goldstein tried for a shot across the bow in response and ended up hitting the main mast instead:

Precisely the kind of self-righteous civility that fried McCain. Want to be clapped on the back for your decorum? Fine. Just say so.

But let’s not pretend you are being honest or principled. Graciousness is one thing; praise is another.

This “good man” was involved in ACORN blackmail schemes. With an attempt to fraudulently undermine the Second Amendment by gaming court rulings. He got rich off of schemes that led to the mortgage crisis — then stood by and let others fix it in order to keep his hands clean during the final stages of an election. He has thrown in with race hustlers,”reformers” who believe that domestic terrorism was a valid form of expression, odious foreign potentates –

There is nothing at all noble about praising a man and a party who reviles you simply because in doing so you appear noble. Jews have tried that. And it’s often ended with skeletons and ash, or the twisted wreckage of a bus in Tel Aviv.

In this case, it will end with more McCains — and so more Obamas and Reids and Pelosis and Olbermans.

If that’s nobility, I’m not interested. Yes, Obama is my President. But that doesn’t mean I’m forced to forget all he’s done to get there — and all that’s been done on his behalf, either by the savage supporters who went after Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin, or by the “objective media” that sold its soul for a shot at establishing the government it desired.

I would agree with Goldstein - to a point. In questioning Pat’s intentions and motives in writing the post, Goldstein goes too far. Unless he has been vouchsafed the ability to peer into the souls of men and glean intent, I would suggest he stick with what he recommends and fights for so tirelessly - a literal interpretation of what is written. In literature, we can extrapolate intent from what we know about the author and his times. Can we not grant the same courtesy to Mr. Frey? Pat has not shown himself to be a link whore in the past nor has he necessarily proven to be the kind of blogger who sets himself up as the conscience of the right. (That job is taken and I will not, under any circumstances, give it up.)

In that, I see no attempt at self-aggrandizement on Pat’s part. If Goldstein wishes to make that argument, he must take me and dozens of other righty bloggers to task for writing basically the same thing. (Note: From what I’ve written about this subject, one could infer that I believe Obama to be a man fatally flawed by hubris and ideology but a man with good qualities.) How Jeff could separate those who genuinely feel that Obama is a “good man” from those who are looking for a “pat on the back” would be an interesting exercise that might even tax the abilities of the brilliant Mr. Goldstein.

But where Jeff nails it is in delineating the difference between “graciousness” in defeat and actual “praise” for what some might see as salutary qualities in the president elect. Patterico makes the age old argument, i.e. good men do bad things in the pursuit of power. Goldstein rightly calls Frey on this by listing a slew of bad things this supposedly “good man” initiated. Not to belabor the point but Hitler liked dogs, was good with kids, and generated enormous loyalty and devotion among his personal staff.

No jerks, I am not comparing Obama to Hitler. I am pointing out that even the worst of men apparently had some good qualities. Obama is not the worst of men but, as Goldstein points out, neither can he be termed a “good man” based on the fact that he exhibited many qualities in common with “bad men.” Good men may not be perfect. But they don’t lie for a living nor do they throw long time friends and associates under the bus because they have become a political millstone.

I have grown quite cynical about all politicians over the years. There are a handful I have met and known or covered closely who could be considered “good men.” Obama ain’t one of them and neither, for that matter, is John McCain. The only good man I thought who has run for president in my lifetime was Paul Simon. Much too guileless, gracious, and cerebral to have any chance whatsoever in 1988, Simon nearly won the Iowa caucuses on a shoe string but faded badly after that. Simon was legendary for his courtliness, believing good manners in politics was essential to a functioning democracy.

Obama ain’t no Paul Simon neither.

Stung to the quick by Goldstein’s broadside, Patterico responded, trying to explain:

I’m sick of people who want to write off entire groups of people as Bad People because of what they believe in. I’ve watched the left do that, and I’m seeing a lot of people on the right doing that now as well. (I’m not talking about Jeff here; I think he’s too smart to demonize all Democrats. But I believe some folks out there are demonizing people for their beliefs.)

When it comes to Obama, we’re obviously talking about a different situation. Many here are calling him a bad man because he has done some bad things and associated with some bad people. It’s true, he has, and I can respect the people who write him off for that reason. I’m simply not going to do it, yet. Like Beldar, I’m

deliberately giving Obama the benefit of the doubt on some of his associations, to call that merely “bad judgment” as opposed to evidence that he, himself, is also a “bad man.”

And like Beldar, I may well end up admitting that I was wrong about that.

But I’m not going to write Obama off as a Bad Man because of his beliefs, contrary to the wishes of my former commenter. And I’m not going to write him off as a Bad Man — or the majority of his supporters as bad People — based on what I’ve seen to date. So far, as I’ve said, I see him as a basically good and decent man who, like many politicians, has engaged in some highly questionable behavior in the pursuit of power.

I don’t think too many people are saying that Obama is a bad man because of what he believes - wrongheaded, dangerous, and even illogical as some of those beliefs are. If I were to believe that, I would have to condemn most of my family who believe many of the things that Obama does and that is something I cannot do. Liberalism may be a horrid ideology but it is not in and of itself evil or bad. A denial of the reality of how humans live and interact, yes. An ignorance of how wealth is created and the efficacious nature of private property rights, absolutely. But it is not fascism or Marxism.

And Frey is wrong in intimating that Goldstein was condemning groups of people for what they believed. In fact, it is something of a mystery where he got that idea from Jeff’s response to his original post.

Goldstein disagrees with me that Obama is no socialist but he does have a point about what is important about fighting the Obama Administration:

Patterico accused me of “demonizing” all Democrats, which is patently absurd. In fact, I dealt specifically with denying the appellation “good man” to someone who, through his actions, has proven to be anything but.

It matters who gets called a “good man.” It matters who we say has this country’s best interests at heart. And yes, it’s possible Obama does, to a certain extent — though what is important to recognize is that, at least so far as his governing principles to this point suggest, he doesn’t hold that view from the perspective of the country as it was founded, and as it was intended to be governed.

Which means that Obama’s best interests for the country are really the best interests for a country he’d like to see this one become — a new text that he’d like us to believe will be but an re-interpretation of the original text.

As someone who believes in the principles upon which this country was founded, I refuse to allow that someone whose ideological predispositions compel him to radically redefine that “imperfect document” that is the Constitution, has this country’s best interests at heart.

And I likewise refuse to allow that a man whose thuggish deeds and unsavory associations have defined him be granted the honor of “good man.” Because to do so is to make a mockery of good men, and to cede yet another bit of our ability to evaluate and describe and conclude in good faith into a bit of “hate speech” that won’t help the GOP regain power.

To which I say, outlaws ain’t team players. And it’s time to be outlaws.

And to which I say, sign me up for the “Hole in the Web” gang.

Goldstein’s point cannot be overstated or overvalued. At bottom, the real war between right and left is the destruction of conventions that facilitate real communication. We have all seen and commented on it. The constantly changing definitions of terms like “racism.” The deliberate textual misinterpretation of what conservatives say and write in order to extract a self-selected “meaning” that advances their argument at the expense of the author’s intent (Glenn Greenwald and Dave Neiwert are absolute masters at this).

Such machinations make it impossible to carry on a dialogue with the left about much of anything. And there are precious few on the right who consistently call the left out for their assassination of the language, taking the battle for intentionalism directly to the source. Goldstein is one of them.

We must refuse to allow Obama and his allies any room to breathe when it comes to opposing their stated intent to “remake” America into something it was never intended to be. But we can and should do it if not “graciously,” then certainly by recognizing that our disagreements should not devolve into the kind of mindless deconstructionism that the left has used against us for the last 8 years. Gleaning intent from Obama’s proposals should not concern us as much as fighting what he will attempt to do.

I believe at bottom, this is what Pat was trying to say. There is nothing “noble” in this construct any more than it is “noble” or “patriotic” to pay taxes. I believe it is self-evident to any conservative which is why I am confident that we would shame the left with our ideas of what constitutes a “loyal opposition”…

If the left could feel shame about anything.

UPDATE: 11/13

Patterico emailed me a few days ago asking me to correct what I had written - that he was condemning people who despised all Democrats - including Jeff Goldstein.

In fact, I misinterpreted what Goldstein had written believing that this was something Patterico had actually said rather than Jeff’s analysis of what Pat had written.

Apologies to Pat for the error.



Filed under: Liberal Congress, Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:57 am

The post election spinning has already begun on the left about just what this election is going to say about the ideological direction of the country. Dominated by the far left, the netroots are already rubbing their hands together in anticipation of altering the foundations of American society, overturning the intent of the Constitution, while sticking it to the “rich” and conservatives through a variety of punitive measures.

But will that really be the case now that the the Democrats have made large gains in the house and senate while winning the presidency?

The unpalatable choices at this point are: Does a Democratic landslide mean that the radical New Left “progressive” agenda - a holdover from the 1960’s with a patina of populist rhetoric and soothing bromides to make the medicine go down (while obscuring the true, radical nature of the change being contemplated) - will be triumphant or will there be a more pragmatic, center-left kind of governance that will certainly be bad enough but stop short of revolution?

The key, of course, is Obama himself. As a candidate, he has talked the talk of a moderate leftist, seeking to alter the tone of political discussion while reforming the political culture by reducing the influence of lobbyists, making ethics reform a top priority, and taking some other unspecified actions that will make Washington more accountable to the people.

Obviously, the devil is in the details. And surprisingly, these issues are not necessarily indicative of a radical leftist revolution that would sweep away the old America and replace it with a socialist utopia. John McCain wanted to do basically the same thing and I doubt whether there are too many on either side of the political divide who would disagree that it would be a good thing if our elected leaders were held accountable for earmarks, pork barrel spending, gifts from lobbyists, and other practices that make Washington such a cesspool of cynicism and corruption.

It is in Obama’s agenda on the economy, health care, education, and social welfare issues that America is to be transformed and where “progressive” ideas that have been percolating for 40 years will finally get a tryout in the real world.

Take health insurance - and by extension - the health care industry. Most advocates of national health insurance agree that unless a very large percentage of the uninsured are induced - or forced through mandates - to buy insurance, health care costs are going to continue to skyrocket.

In fact, as national health insurance supporter Ezra Klein points out, there can be no universal coverage without forcing people into an insurance pool:

I’m hearing a lot of hating on the individual mandate* — and I don’t get it. Some are complaining that the mandate “criminalizes the uninsured,” others are saying “”The uninsured shouldn’t have a financial penalty onto top of the health and financial consequences of being uninsured.” So let me try and say this clearly: Single-payer health care is an individual mandate. The enforcement mechanism, in that case, is taxation. If you don’t pay your taxes, you’re breaking the law. If you decide to withhold the portion of your taxes that go towards health care, you’re a criminal. In fact, there is absolutely no universal health care system that wouldn’t include a mandate of some kind — that’s how you make it universal. Indeed, without a mandate, you can’t have a decent health system: If the healthy can opt-out until they get sick, coverage will be unaffordable for everyone. For a risk pool to work, it needs members at low risk.

Klein drives the universal mandate idea home by pointing out that the federal government will have to subsidize those who cannot afford to buy into the pool.

The question with an individual mandate is subsidization and affordability. If we pass a law levying an individual mandate and subsidizing premiums down to $50 a month, there’ll be few complaints. A mandate with no subsidization, however, is an impossible burden on millions of families. When evaluating an individual mandate, that’s where liberals need to focus: The generosity of the subsidies. The Wyden Plan, for instance, subsidizes up to 400 percent of the poverty line. The Massachusetts plan subsidizes up to 300 percent. The Schwarzenegger plan subsidizes up to 250 percent. That looks too low, and I’ll talk more about it later today. But for now, folks need to keep in mind that you can’t simultaneously demand universal health care and reject mandates. Universal health care is a coverage mandate — whether the enforcement comes through tax receipts or proof of premium payment is not a relevant distinction. Either one can be an overwhelming burden on the poor or the foundation of a progressive, generous system. The focus, always, should be on telling the two apart.

Now Obama swears that he has no mandates to buy health insurance for anyone except parents with children and that he only wants to make health insurance more affordable. Hillary Clinton criticized him heavily for this stance in the primaries. She quite rightly pointed out that without mandates, there would still be millions of uninsured Americans and that the cost of health care (and thus health insurance) would continue to rise. Obama countered that his plan would bring down the cost of health insurance significantly and that every child in America would be covered.

But do you really think the new, far left Congress is going to stop there?

Klein sees subsidizing people 400% above the poverty line as “too low.” Think about that for a minute and you’ll see where this entire mess is heading. Each year, that subsidy will increase (as will the cost of buying into the pool for those unlucky enough to have made a success of their lives). The inexorable rise in health care costs will be matched with higher and higher buy ins to the pool. Eventually, everyone will not only have to be subsidized but the government will be buying their insurance for them. This will necessitate the takeover of the health care system by government bureaucrats who will rationalize this power grab by claiming that since they’re paying for it, they should have a say in how it’s run.

And who enforces this entire draconian system?

Well, it would have to be a federal agency used to going after deadbeats and scofflaws. It would have to have an enforcement division already active and experienced. And they would have to possess a list of taxpayers so that they could check and make sure everyone is with the program.

Roll out the red carpet for our new IRS Overlords.

Universal health insurance has been a goal of the New Left since the 1960’s (pretty much a liberal dream since Henry Wallace included the program in his 1948 Progressive Party platform). There is no doubt that adoption of mandates as a means to achieving universal health insurance would be a radical transformation of the relationship between the citizen and the government. It would place vast new powers at the disposal of the IRS - an agency already bloated and drunk with power. And, despite its backer’s claims to the contrary, it would limit and even eliminate choice in selecting health care providers and treatments.

This is the real danger of an Obama presidency - a vastly more leftist Congress who will push the neophyte president farther to the left than he wants to go. The Pelosi-Reid-Waxman-Boxer-Frank wing of the Democratic party will be in charge and unless Obama stands up to them - something he has failed to demonstrate in his short time in the Senate - we are going to get a revolution not just in health care, but education, environmental policy, social welfare issues, and a host of other areas.

Energy policy is another area where a radical Congressional majority might push Obama further than he wants to go. The new President should probably rename his energy policy the “Global Warming Prevention” policy because everything in it will be geared to reducing our carbon footprint on the world rather than creating growth by supplying industry with cheap oil or its alternative. There will be no growth or slow growth unless we increase our energy supply. This is a fact of economic life and by ignoring it, Obama and the Democrats will condemn us to a stagnant economy for years to come.

Why? Obama wants to reduce our emissions by 90% by 2050. Think about that for a moment. OBama wants to reduce our emissions to where they were in approximately 1930 in 40 years time. He wants to propose this drastic change at a time when there is absolutely no proven, viable alternative to fossil fuels that can be utilized on a continent sized scale. Solar would work - for some. Wind power - for fewer.

Geothermal? Never tried on an industrial scale. Hydrogen? Promising as an alternative to powering vehicles but a long way off - and even longer to mass produce the vehicles and make a dent in the 120 million gasoline burning autos and trucks on the road now. Fusion? Interesting developments in the last few years but as a power generating technology, it is decades away. (Going nuclear is doable and we could replace every existing oil and coal fired plant with the nuclear alternative in less than 20 years. But does anyone expect that the Democrats will do that?)

All of this means that the one means of producing the energy we need to grow our economy - fossil fuels - will be taxed, the companies that pull it out of the ground and sell it will be taxed, we consumers who use it will be taxed, and everything possible will be done to discourage its use. Meanwhile, our dependence on the Iran’s and Venezuela’s of the world will increase while we wait patiently for government bureaucrats to invent the hydrogen powered car or come up with the technology to burn coal more cleanly.

Why can’t we do both? And all of it, the whole shebang? Why can’t we drill for every drop of oil while vigorously working to find alternatives? This idea that we must do one or the other is just plain nuts.

The reason is that we are basically dealing with people who have a bias against business - and especially big business. Why should we think this attitude on the part of liberals will change? Profits are evil and the only way to redeem this dirty money is to “go green” and slavishly adhere to an arbitrary set of rules about how much a company is allowed to make, what it must do with its profits. And God help you if you make “excess” profits (defined, of course, by people who know nothing of profit, loss, meeting a payroll, or re-investing profits to find more energy). Furniture stores routinely mark up their products 400%. I don’t hear too many calls to seize “excess” profits from Joe’s Furniture Emporium, do you?

Of course, none of this nonsense will produce a single erg of energy or lessen our dependence on foreign oil by one drop. But at least it will feel good if we grab money from big oil (who will then pass the increases down to us which is the plan anyway - make energy more expensive by punishing the American people for using it.).

The goal is not more energy but more sanctimony. And in that, liberals are well stocked.

Then there’s Big Labor’s attempt to use government as kind of a super-labor organizer. How liberals can look at us with a straight face and not call the fascist “card check” program undemocratic only shows how much hubris there is on the left. Taking away a workers’ right to a secret ballot, only requiring him to sign a card in the presence of a “union representative” is unconscionable.

In practice, the program will be used to aggrandize organized crime who still today see as their main source of income and money laundering union dues and union pension funds. Those “union reps” in many areas have historically been mob goons. Even the unions that this piece of legislation has been crafted for - government and health care unions - are not immune to mob infiltration. And I guarantee with this legislation enacted, it will only get worse.

These are but a few of the things we have to look forward to when Congress convenes in January. We should consider finding ways to fight all of them as they promise to remake America in ways the Founders never intended.



Filed under: Decision '08, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:01 am

One of the most hilarious Monty Python sketches is the “Upper Class Twit of the Year” where inbred, palsied, oblivious sons of English aristocracy are put through their paces jumping over matchboxes, “kicking the beggar,” taking the bras off of debutantes, and trying to walk a straight line.

But it is the final test for the twits - so funny it brings tears to my eyes - that is apropos of the current effort by anonymous McCain staffers to trash Sarah Palin. That “test” involves the twits being able to pick up a gun and shoot themselves in the head.

Being upper class twits, it takes them a while to figure it out. They fire the gun in the air or aim at their heads and miss until finally, one by one, it dawns on them what must be done and down they go.

What we see out of the McCain camp is not a circular firing squad but rather a bunch of twits pointing their guns at Sarah Palin and missing only to shoot themselves in head when all is said and done.

These misfires run the gamut from accusing the Alaskan governor of trying to promote her own future at the expense of the present effort in helping McCain win to whispering about her “shopping spree” and her lack of prep for the Couric interview.

Now all of you are probably aware that this kind of backbiting goes on in all losing campaigns so the idea that you can believe anything coming from anyone on the losing side is just preposterous. Exaggeration or outright lying is not uncommon. In the case of McCain twit loyalists, we have a little of both.

First, this breathless report from CNN:

Randy Scheunemann, a senior foreign policy adviser to John McCain, was fired from the Arizona senator’s campaign last week for what one aide called “trashing” the campaign staff, three senior McCain advisers tell CNN.

One of the aides tells CNN that campaign manager Rick Davis fired Scheunemann after determining that he had been in direct contact with journalists spreading “disinformation” about campaign aides, including Nicolle Wallace and other officials.

“He was positioning himself with Palin at the expense of John McCain’s campaign message,” said one of the aides.

Evidently, the campaign has fingered Scheunemann as the culprit who fed William Kristol some juicy tidbits about how the McCain camp completely mishandled Palin’s rollout. Apparently, they don’t like to read the truth in the newspapers.

Yes, the McCain campaign blew it with Palin. How could someone be ready to assume the presidency if they are deliberately kept from the press for 3 crucial weeks? Not that Palin was ready from day one - a point that I’ve made on several occasions. But it was a sick joke for the McCain camp to hide Palin from the press the way they did.

Overscripted, over managed, - just plain over. Palin will probably be seen as a net plus for McCain in that she certainly brought a lot of conservatives who otherwise would probably have stayed home to the polls. But her effect was negligible and might also eventually be seen as having a negative effect on independents and women. If Palin had been allowed the normal freedoms of any Vice Presidential candidate, would that have made a difference with those groups? We’ll never know because of the McCain campaign’s belief that she wouldn’t have helped the cause if she had been allowed to interact with the media.

What does all this have to do with Scheunemann? Someone was telling lies to CNN about his firing:

Advisers in the McCain campaign, in suggesting that Palin advisers had been leaking damaging information about the McCain campaign to the news media, said they were particularly suspicious of Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s top foreign policy aide who had a central role in preparing Ms. Palin for the vice-presidential debate.

As a result, two senior members of the McCain campaign said on Wednesday that Mr. Scheunemann had been fired from the campaign in its final days. But Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, and Mr. Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, said Wednesday that Mr. Scheunemann had in fact not been dismissed. Mr. Scheunemann, who picked up the phone in his office at McCain campaign headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, responded that “anybody who says I was fired is either lying or delusional or a whack job.”

Bad sourcing by CNN? Or perhaps some wishful thinking by a McCain partisan? Either way, it stinks.

The leaking by pro-McCain staffers about Palin has been incredible. They complain that Palin’s camp kept them in the dark about the French-Canadian comedy duo’s interview with Palin. But the prank call from the Canadians pretending to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy was on her schedule for three days. Are they trying to tell us that nobody - not someone extremely high up in the McCain campaign - checked Palin’s schedule on a daily basis? This would not surprise anyone given the general incompetence shown by these twits in everything from oppo research (where they had to rely on bloggers and friendly journalists to dig up the best stuff on Obama) to scheduling (McCain was in Florida on the last day of the campaign and spoke to about 1,000 people).

The stories about the Palin “shopping spree” have now grown so bad they have to be exaggerations. Some GOP donor evidently paid for much of her clothing no doubt due to the incredible stupidity of the McCain campaign who thought that “3 suits” for Palin would be enough for 9 weeks of campaigning. Michelle Obama was probably wearing three different outfits a day.

Could they have gotten by with less? Of course. But let’s be honest. The McCain campaign was selling Palin’s spectacular looks as much as they were pushing her conservative credentials. Quite simply, Palin wows male voters - even those who wouldn’t vote for her in a million years. And for those females not inclined to be jealous of her looks, her family, and her job, she is a hugely impressive example of a modern American woman who has it all.

Why shouldn’t she be dressed to the nines in order to promote this image? What is coming out of the McCain campaign now is pure poison, trying to shift blame for their incompetence and mismanagement on to Sarah Palin. And the Palin camp is fighting back, trying to answer these charges. What is striking is that they are giving reasonable explanations for issues being raised by McCain loyalists. It makes them much more believable than the wildly exaggerated image the twits are pushing of Palin as a “diva.”

It stinks of cowardice for McCain staffers not to own up to the fact that it was their ideas, their plan, and their piss poor execution that resulted in this landslide loss in the electoral college. There was nothing inspiring about this campaign at all. It didn’t energize the base. It failed to convince other conservatives that McCain would govern much differently than Obama. In the end, the candidate had no recognizable set of principles, no identifiable ideology, and no real issue that would have energized Republicans and conservatives and brought them to the polls. As it was, millions of GOP heartland voters either stayed home or, as I pointed out here, finally pulled the lever for Obama in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.

To blame Palin for this is outrageous. And hopefully, if Erick at RedState gets his way, none of these twits will work in politics again:

RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper.

We’re tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details.

We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you’ll see us go to war against those candidates.

It is our expressed intention to make these few people political lepers.

They’ll just have to be stuck at CBS with Katie’s failed ratings.

And to that I say, Bravo. The architects of this disaster who compounded their sin by trying to shift blame to probably the one person who prevented a spectacular electoral humiliation a la Walter Mondale should be kept far away from leadership positions in any future campaign.

If they want to help, let them knock on doors and stuff envelopes. At least if they fail there, they will have no one to blame but themselves.



Filed under: Decision '08, Politics — Rick Moran @ 11:38 am

The title of this post is taken from the second volume of Page Smith’s 8 volume social history of America. It refers to the creation of the American republic and how contemporaries of that event  all saw the start of something unheard of in human history - a federal Constitutional republic - as the beginning of a New Age of Man, a new beginning where citizens, unsullied by the infection of class distinction and royalty common in Europe, could create a new Zion - a paradise on earth.

Much has been made by me and others of how important it is to hew to the principles and precepts espoused by our ancestors who invented this country. But perhaps we sometimes lose sight of some uncomfortable facts when it comes to “original intent” of the founders and the stratified nature of American society at that time.

We don’t want to pull forward to this time the notion that African Americans are 3/5 of a person for purposes of the census. Nor would we want to have the view of most of the founders that the elites should run the country while the rest of us shut up and do as they say. Most of those well propertied men distrusted the people (in the aggregate) and were fearful that if the mob ever got too much control of the levers of government, their property would be taken from them.

There is also the shameful treatment of women as it related to the Constitution and the law as well as a decided bias against settlers on the frontier. A failure to live up to treaties with the Indians resulted in regular and bloody wars. Big states hated little states and vice versa.

The Constitution was very much a document of its time. It reflected the very best thinking of enlightenment and pre-enlightenment philosophers. But it is not a perfect document and to say today that Obama will toss it out the window I believe goes too far in describing what he will try to do. It is the difficulties of today that will dictate how he approaches our challenges. And in the context of Constitutional precepts written 220 years ago, he will stretch some of those no doubt to achieve what he wants.

Where he reaches too far, we will smack him down. But I believe he should get some leeway if only because our founders did the same thing when they first confronted the theory of the constitution with the reality of their times.

The problems of early America were enormous, having just come through a ruinously expensive war, a barely united populace behind the idea of a country at all, and squabbling about everything from land grants to borders among the several states. In fact, once the Constitution was ratified, the universal question on everyone’s mind was “Now what?”

How could they even begin to solve these massive difficulties? The Constitution was, after all, just a piece of paper.

It helped that George Washington was the first president. Not a brilliant man by any means, Washington’s strengths were his leadership ability and his sterling reputation - something he used as vintner might pour out wine from a carafe. The longer Washington was in power, the more his reputation suffered, the more empty the carafe became. Washington deliberately expended his most precious resource to keep the country from flying apart.

After 8 years, his reputation was still great enough that he was able to keep us out of what would have been a catastrophic war between England and France while putting the nation (with Hamilton’s scheming help) on a sound fiscal footing.

Obama is no Washington although I believe he has demonstrated some leadership qualities that some recent presidents have not. The guy has to have something inside of him to create the kind of mass movement I saw last night in Grant Park at the Obama Victory Rally. Easily 80% of that crowd of nearly a million were under the age of 25. Media and money help, no doubt about it. But our new president has something else about him as well; the ability to inspire. That is a quality not all politicians have and I have a feeling we will have need of that ability before all is said and done in the near future.

I will probably oppose 90% of what Obama and the Democrats try to do. Some commenters on this site question how I can do that and still claim to see Obama as “my president.” If that’s the kind of attitude Obama supporters are going to have I fear for this country. Such authoritarian impulses are common in mass movements and it remains to be seen whether Obama is strong enough to resist the temptations such support presents for him. It would be easy to turn to his true believers in times of political trouble and simply ride roughshod over the naysayers. Let’s hope he has the moral compass and clarity of vision to see beyond such pettiness and embrace diversity of opinion - even when things get rough.

One thing is certain; Obama, the Democrats, and liberalism are going to be given a chance. There’s not much we conservatives can do about that. Do we work to constructively engage the opposition or do we simply participate in mindless, partisan hackery? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t fight, and fight hard, for what we believe in. But we shall soon see if Obama is serious about engaging us in a dialogue. If he is, I would think that for the sake of the country, we try to meet him halfway.

We must pick and choose our spots over the next 4 years. Constant caterwauling about every little thing an Obama Administration does will get us nowhere. While we should oppose those things that we believe are detrimental, perhaps it wouldn’t kill us if we actually looked around to see if there was anything we could support him on?

Obama has spoken passionately on issues of individual responsibility for African American fathers and other single parents. This is conservative bread and butter and I would have absolutely no problem in helping our new president make those words a reality.

I know most of these words are falling on deaf ears. But I believe in democracy. And in case you haven’t noticed, the majority has just spoken as loudly and as specifically as they can in a democracy. If it is all or nothing for you - if you wish to oppose the color of the curtains Obama picks out for the Oval Office - then I wish you luck in your solitude.

I plan on being engaged the next 4 years - fighting against those things I believe need to be fought while offering what support I can wherever I see our interests merge. That is the role of a responsible opposition.

Who knows? Perhaps we can teach liberals a thing or two about what it means to be in the minority.



Filed under: Decision '08, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 10:05 am

We are in a full fledged Indian Summer here in central Illinois - or, for those sensitive folk who believe it a sin to invoke any racial references even if they are positive, let’s call the 70 degree weather, gorgeous sunny sky, and the light wind sweetly scented with the smell of burning leaves “false” summer.

False, or Indian, it doesn’t matter. It is the last gasp of the seductress Summer, her last shimmy, her last provocative wiggle before her father, Old Man Winter comes barging into the room to check and see if we’re necking.

Nature is doing her yearly Technicolor thing - the autumn raiment covering the trees is really striking; spectacular deep reds on the maple across the street, elegant yellow-orange on the oaks lining the block, somber burnt umber covering the hickory. Is autumn a melancholy time for everyone? Perhaps it’s knowing what’s ahead that depresses me; the annual struggle with snow blowers, biting cold, dark skies, short days, and the lonely winds that whip across the prairie sod seeking a way through the weatherproofing to chill our bones.

Election day in America is held in November with a bow toward our yeoman farmers who would be too busy with the harvest to have time for politicking. Any later in the year and the roads would be impassable due to snowfall. So the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November seemed about right. Farmers could make the long, arduous journey to town and cast their ballot for the state’s electors. Back in the day, the presidential candidate’s name appeared nowhere on the ballot. Citizens elected people to represent them in the electoral college. Of course, everyone knew which candidate the elector was supporting so it felt almost like they were voting directly for Washington, or Adams, or Jefferson.

Eventually, states put the name of the candidate on the ballot, usually alongside that of the elector supporting him. It is an imperfect system and no doubt many Democrats wish to do away with it. But I sincerely hope they don’t if for no other reason than many of the arguments made at the Constitutional Convention in favor of the Electoral College still pass muster with me today. (I make many of those arguments here).

All of that is in the past and today, we find ourselves on the cusp of history. An African American may very well win an historic victory while the Reagan revolution - a cause for which I worked directly or indirectly for almost 30 years - is being swept away. As I have noted, change is part of the bargain if you want to be an American and accepting change is the key to thriving in this country. But I have an old man’s attachment to the causes of my youth and it will be difficult to see something that began with so much promise swept away due to the negligence, the cynicism, and the incompetence of the inheritors of it.

I read Ross Douthat’s melancholy post this morning and found myself nodding in agreement all the way through it. Now, Ross is one of them “elitist” conservatives in that he has more than two brain cells working at the same time and has actually written a book with big words in it - not like conservative hero Sean Hannity who makes it easy for us common folk to read by never using a word with more than 4 syllables in it. “Cotton candy conservatism” I call Hannity’s pablum. And that’s insulting cotton candy.

Here, he articulates my exact feelings about Bush and McCain:

I had a succession of meals last week with smart conservative friends, and I found them all relatively sanguine about the defeat that’s almost certainly about to be inflicted on the American Right. Each of them, in different ways, express a mix of enthusiasm for the “whither conservatism” battles ahead and relief at the prospect of finally closing the books on the Bush years. This has been an exhausting Presidency for conservatives as well as liberals, and for many people on the Right the prospect of being out of power has obvious upsides: No longer will every foul-up and blunder in Washington be treated as an indictment of Conservatism with a capital C; no longer will right-wingers feel obliged to carry water, whether in small or large amounts, for a government that’s widely perceived as a failure; and no longer will the Right have the dead weight of an unpopular president dragging it down and down and down. Defeat will be depressing, of course - none of my friends were Obamacons by any stretch - but it could be liberating as well.

This was how I expected to feel about a McCain defeat, too, and I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t - why I feel instead so grouchy and embittered (clinging to my guns and my religion, and all that), and more dispirited than liberated. I didn’t have particularly high hopes for a McCain-led ticket in the first place: I never went in for the Mac-worship many journalists have practiced over the years, and part of me was dreading having to spend four years trying to explain that yes, I want a reformed conservatism, but no, I don’t like the kind of reform-ish quasi-conservatism that the McCain Administration is advancing. And then there were all the other reasons to think that a GOP defeat might not be so bad: You can’t win every election; it’s hard for a political party to change its ways without the clarifying effects of a devastating defeat; Obama’s a smart guy who’ll probably make at least some policy choices I support; the election of a black President will be a great day for America; etc.

I stopped “carrying water” for Bush a couple of years ago but I know exactly what Ross is talking about. He has exhausted himself having to defend some basic conservative tenets that, however imperfectly were advanced by the Bush Administration, nevertheless many of us felt obliged to point out the danger of the alternative. That and the constant drone of hyperbolic, rabidly partisan dissent left one feeling as if wrung through a wringer.

Tired, a little dispirited, Douthat takes the words out of my head and puts them on paper:

But I think the deeper reason for my political gloom has to do with something that Jonah Goldberg raised in our bloggingheads chat about conservatism - namely, the sense that the era now passing represented a great opportunity to put into practice the sort of center-right politics that I’d like to see from the Republican Party, and that by failing the way it did the Bush Administration may have cut the ground out from under my own ideas before I’d even figured out exactly what they were. As I said to Jonah. I have all sorts of disagreements with the specific ways President Bush attempted to renovate the GOP, on the level of policy and philosophy alike. But the fact remains that the renovation Bush attempted was an effort to respond to some of the political, social and economic trends that Reihan and I discuss in Grand New Party - and those of us who want a reformed conservatism have to recognize Bush’s attempt, and reckon with his failure.

This is by no means a new insight, but it’s one that’s been brought home to me by the looming end of the Bush Era and the struggles of the McCain campaign. Conservatism in the United States faces a series of extremely knotty problems at the moment. How do you restrain the welfare state at a time when the entitlements we have are broadly popular, and yet their design puts them on a glide path to insolvency? How do you respond to the socioeconomic trends - wage stagnation, social immobility, rising health care costs, family breakdown, and so forth - that are slowly undermining support for the Reaganite model of low-tax capitalism? How do you sell socially-conservative ideas to a moderate middle that often perceives social conservatism as intolerant? How do you transform an increasingly white party with a history of benefiting from racially-charged issues into a party that can win majorities in an increasingly multiracial America? etc.

Here are my own thoughts from a post I wrote after the 2006 mid term debacle:

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

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

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

But before reform comes the fall. And even if, as Yglesias believes is possible, the party and the movement are able to limp along for a few years with a cobbled together coalition, eventually the piper must be paid and the wages earned. It won’t be a quick or easy process. But it will happen nonetheless.

Ross and I are on the same wavelength although he has obviously given a lot more thought to the nuts and bolts of refashioning the conservative movement. But we both crave big answers to the big questions. How can small government conservatism be relevant in an era (probably permanent) where the people demand more and more from government? What role can conservatism play in a modern, 21st century industrialized democracy? What is the conservative answer to the nationalizing of health insurance or education policy? Is simple opposition all we are capable of?

The old truisms and bromides just don’t work anymore. The context has changed but we are still trying to squeeze the old verities into the framework of people’s expectations and desires with regard to government. There is, as I said, a “disconnect” that is so obvious, the American voter no longer sees conservatism as being relevant to their own lives.

I am not a believer in predestination. I do not think the future is set by any means. The future will be what we make of it - no more, no less. It is this hope that I cling to as I watch with sorrow the beliefs and work of my adult lifetime rejected en masse by the voters.

So be it.



Filed under: Decision '08 — Rick Moran @ 12:14 pm

If there has been one constant throughout American history, it has been that this is a nation that stands still for nothing or no one, that our gaze has always been locked on some distant horizon, leaving the present to take care of itself while caring little for our past.

This has led to some truly remarkable - dare I say “exceptional” - qualities in the American character. Some of these attributes have allowed us to perform almost magical feats of transformative metamorphosis, turning disadvantages into virtues while finding the good in the worst of situations. This kind of optimism is not unique to America. But we are the only nation that makes a civic virtue of it. As our ancestors hacked a civilization out the wilderness with nothing more than a few crude tools and a boundless hope for the future, something took hold in the spirit of those pioneers and settlers that allowed them to live in what can only be described as primitive conditions.

Always on the edge of starvation and with little coin or currency in their possession that would mitigate their hardscrabble existence, it was the realization that what they were doing was for their children and grandchildren that gave them the grim determination to tough it out and brave the dangers from man and beast in order to build something permanent out of what previously had been wild and untamed.

These people were hoping for change - they were counting on it. They were praying for it. And as the years passed and the land turned over, the future arrived with all the promise and hope for which our ancestors worked, bled, wept, fought, and died to effect. It was their vision, their expectations for the future that we build on today.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants as we look to the future in these uncertain times. We too, have a vision of America that we hope that someday will be realized. It is nothing like the America envisioned by our ancestors and this is how it should be. It is how it was with them as they helped create an America not as their grandfathers saw it but as they were able to imagine it.

The beauty of America is that each generation, each incarnation of Americans has the freedom, the ability, and the right to see an America they wish their children and grandchildren to live in and then try and shape their individual present and future to fit that notion. We practically invented the idea of the common man as an important player in history. And each succeeding epoch proves that the real catalyst for change is not politicians mouthing platitudes but ordinary people moving mountains - one rock at a time.

Many of us are fearful of the future if Barack Obama wins the presidency and the liberals dominate the Congress. All manner of evils are imagined. “America won’t be the same,” is the cry most often heard on the right. Some even go so far as to say the America we live in now will be no more and a new America will supplant the old one.

I have rejected that notion as totally unrealistic. But there is absolutely no doubt that change is coming. This would be true whether McCain or Obama were to be elected. This change has been happening right under our noses for decades and is only now being brought out in bas relief as a result of the election where conservatives have awakened with a start and realized that the American people are not responding the way they once did to our ideas, our beliefs, our issues.

Yes, a large part of that is the damage done to the conservative cause by Republicans claiming to be conservative but who betrayed everything that conservatism stands for. But, if you care to look beneath the surface of the voter’s anger, what you see are changed attitudes toward America, altered perceptions of the country as our citizens wrestle with change.

The changes wrought by war, by globalization, by a slowly evolving realization that our national identity itself is changing are merely catalysts that people can put their finger on to describe their unease. In truth, none of these things affect people where they live except in the grossest, macro sense that filters down through the media.


* Our industrial sector has been shrinking for more than 35 years. We are no longer the “workshop of the world” and the high paying, comfortable middle class wages paid for those jobs are gone as well. The rapid pace of change has made the American worker expendable - unless he adapts to the new paradigm and adopts a skill that is in demand in this new world.

* While still the world’s leading economic and military superpower, we have discovered that nobody wants to fight us in the traditional ways of war and instead, our enemies prefer to engage in “asymmetrical warfare” where the odds are evened out and our will is tested more than our equipment or men.

* Demographically, the US is becoming less white, less suburban, more secular, and more educated.

These world-historic forces that are driving these change are bubbling up from the bottom - largely because of our influence on the world. It is the true Age of the Common Man and it will present enormous challenges for our economic livelihood and our security.

Yes, this is all rather frightening. Some take refuge in the past, demanding a return of the factories and the jobs that brought life to so many towns and cities across the nation. Others take refuge in religion, demanding a return to an America where belief in God animated the law and brought communities together. And still others - a few others - demand a wholesale destruction of the past and a different America built upon alien foundations.

To all those there is a common denominator - a palpable, unreasoning fear of the unknown - Shakespear’s “undiscovered country” of the future. Obama may tell the unions he will bring back jobs from overseas but it is an empty, worthless promise. You can’t get in a time machine, go back and bring forward conditions and realities that don’t exist today and haven’t existed for decades. Sarah Palin and the social conservatives will not be able to wipe out 34 years of privacy law by banning abortion, preventing gay people from joining in a legal contract denoting togetherness, or enforcing standards in our media against sex and violence.

Nor is it possible to dismember our past wholesale and substitute a new template over which America can be remade. It would take more than a few kooks and liberals to have that kind of influence on 380 years of history and more than 300 million citizens. It is a pipe dream and to those who fear such change, I would say that you are battling invisible demons.

Either Obama or McCain will usher in an era where the relationship between the citizen and the government will change. What kind of change is entirely up to us. That’s why I think it a good thing to embrace change and rather than trying to keep it from happening, work like the devil to make it yours and have it fit in to your concept, your belief in the future. Work to create a country where your children and grandchildren will be happy, free, and at peace.

This is what our grandfathers and their grandfathers imagined and fought for. Can we do any less?



Filed under: Decision '08, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:22 am

Change we can freeze to death by:

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

These remarks were made by Obama on January 17 of this year. Not surprisingly this audio was hidden until now because the interview was with the far left San Francisco Chronicle.

Here’s the entire audio clip:

This illustrates better than anything the folly of “cap and trade” proposals. Obama plans to use his C&T plan as a gigantic club to beat up on power companies and coal companies (and the miners) if they don’t meet his arbitrary and capricious “targets” that drop every year regardless of any progress technologically in finding ways to mitigate the carbon output of power plants.

It will almost certainly cause a lot of smaller coal companies to either cut their work force as the demand for coal - our most abundant energy source - shrinks and probably drive a lot of these smaller concerns out of business.

And what about his gloating about driving businesses to bankruptcy? Has there ever been a presidential candidate who looked forward to the prospect of destroying someone’s life’s work and costing thousands of people their jobs?

But at least the Euro-twits pushing Global Warming won’t be mad at us anymore.

This blog post originally appears in the American Thinker.

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