Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging, Government, KATRINA, Politics — Rick Moran @ 2:22 pm

With nearly 1.5 million people in the mid-west without power during a cold snap, what other possible reason is there that this new “competent” administration and FEMA would be failing so spectacularly in helping in this natural disaster?


Of course, I am just aping what lefty blogs were saying about Bush less than 24 hours after Katrina’s hurricane winds stopped blowing. But AP is reporting that Midwest disaster relief people are none too pleased with our new president’s FEMA.

In Kentucky’s Grayson County, there are 25 National Guardsmen there to help - but no chain saws to cut away fallen limbs and trees. EM Director Randell Smith is quoted as saying, “We’ve got people out in some areas we haven’t even visited yet,” Smith said. “We don’t even know that they’re alive.”

Smith is also quoted as saying that FEMA is a “no show.”

And then there’s this:

FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak said some agency workers had begun working Friday in Kentucky and more help was on the way. Hudak said FEMA also has shipped 50 to 100 generators to the state to supply electricity to such facilities as hospitals, nursing homes and water treatment plants.

“We have plenty of folks ready to go, but there are some limitations with roads closed and icy conditions,” she noted.

Gee - you mean the conditions of the roads has something to do with FEMA’s response time? Now, don’t you wonder what the roads near New Orleans looked like after a Category 4 storm made landfall?  If you listened to all the screaming coming from the left about FEMA inaction, you would have to believe that those roads were as clean as a whistle, just like driving down the Interstate on a summer day. The only reason FEMA failed was because George Bush HATED BLACK PEOPLE AND WANTED THEM TO DIE!  And in this case, FEMA is being stopped by a few trees, not roads made impassable due to flooding and other debris.

Here we are, 5 days after the storm ended and STILL NO FEMA? I demand a Congressional investigation. And let’s get all the anchors and media people down here pronto. People’s lives are at stake. For all we know, there are babies being eaten and people jumping off their roofs committing suicide because FEMA is nowhere to be found.

And where is our president? Shouldn’t he be visiting these ravaged areas? It must be that he HATES WHITE PEOPLE AND WANTS THEM TO DIE. That is the only possible explanation for this incredible failure of our national government to relieve the suffering of these people.

Isn’t it interesting that now that we have a Democrat as president that all of a sudden, disaster relief is a state and local matter and the federal government should stand aside and allow them to do their jobs?

Just wondering…


Filed under: Blogging, PJ Media — Rick Moran @ 10:15 am

I have received several emails on this news - some of them gloating, some solicitous of my supposed loss of a job. To set the record straight, the ad network that PJ Media supported will cease on April 1. The site itself will continue as before and I will continue as Chicago editor.

I understand why many are angry and upset. I also understand the gloating, although I wonder what empty space in a man’s soul would motivate him to write an email to someone and gloat over their supposed loss of a job. But you get used to that if you make a living on the internet. And since I am still working - and will continue to work at PJM - for the forseeable future, the three gloaters who emailed me about how happy they were that PJ Media was going under and I would be unemployed are now exposed as the idiots and dolts they truly are.

I have less understanding with regard to the hundreds of comments I read this morning at Goldstein and Ace’s sites. There seems to be the notion abroad that PJM “betrayed” bloggers who signed up. And this from conservatives on a conservative website? PJM and bloggers like me entered into a contractual business arrangement. The contract simply said that PJ Media would use our websites to place ads while the participating bloggers received remuneration for their consent. There were no promises made in the contract - stipulated or otherwise - that the arrangement would last forever. Bloggers who went with PJM rather than another ad company made a business decision. The market has had its way and has now spoken. How this constitutes a “betrayal” is a mystery.

The fact is, as Reynolds points out, online ad revenue is tanking. Part of that is the economy and part of it is certainly that the ad industry has yet to figure out how to exploit and pay for internet advertising. All those eyeballs and no one can truly measure the impact of online ads. I’m sure it will work itself out eventually but in the meantime, sites like PJ Media suffer the growing pains.

So, those who find something to celebrate in the loss of revenue for bloggers, I wish you a peaceful night’s sleep. To those who are affected by the demise of the network, I sympathize. I hope you land on your feet by being able to find alternative ads for your site. I tried to get Blogads for my site when it was larger than it is now and was turned down so personally, I am not optimistic in my own case.

And to those critics reporting on and doing a sack dance on the supposed death of PJM, I would suggest a remedial course in reading comprehension. We aren’t going anywhere. And I have no doubt you will continue to hear from us in the future.

Note: The views expressed above are my own and not those of PJ Media, its employees, managers, directors or even the commenting trolls.


Filed under: General — Rick Moran @ 9:17 am

I did a piece last week on Obama’s first few days in office and was rightly chastised by some who thought it a bit premature to be judging the performance of a president who had been in office for so short a time.

Yeah, so bite me. Everyone else wrote about Obama’s first week too, I just got the jump on them that’s all.

Be that as it may, now it has been two weeks since The One alighted from heaven to bring peace and justice to the galaxy and we are getting a glimpse into the way the Obama White House works. I think any fair minded observer would have to be troubled by the way things are going - unless you are a conservative in which case you are probably turning handsprings. On major issues regarding competence, understanding of Congress, and opposition management, this White House is surprising a lot of people by fumbling the first snap from center and watching as the behemoths on the offensive and defensive line scramble for possession.

Forgive the football analogy but I am anticipating my yearly withdrawal from the game on Monday and want to get a head start on feeling miserable for the next 7 months until I can mainline my addiction again.

In truth, the “Stimulus Package” may be slipping under the bus - at least the package in its present incarnation. The monstrosity is loaded up with so much pork it resembles a livestock exhibition at the Iowa State Fair. Didn’t anyone at the White House actually sit down and, like, you know, read the entire 647 pages of this thing to discover what was inside? Did they really believe Republicans - and the rest of the country - would buy $100 million in Planned Parenthood pork as a way to stimulate the economy? Ditto The $7 billion for sprucing up federal facilities and the $600 million for people who don’t want to pay for cable TV but won’t be able to see The Messiah on the tube unless they are given a digital converter box so they can worship him every day.

Education monies, money for Medicare, for food stamps , and the income tax credit might be supportable - as a separate bill. None of these monies will do anything to create jobs. In fact, the Wall Street Journal informs us that around $30 billion of this lemon will go to “infrastructure improvements” with another few billion spent on cutting tax rates where they will do the most good - small and medium sized businesses that create about 80% of the new jobs in good times and bad.

Everyone knows this already so I’m not breaking any new ground. The question is why is the White House surprised that no Republicans leaped to stand by Obama’s side in the House vote and 11 Democrats jumped ship entirely? Did they really believe Obama’s PR stunt of going up to the Hill to meet with Republicans would convince anyone that this bill is anything but a gigantic payoff to Democratic constituencies for their votes last November? Only Obama sycophants and toadies on blogs and the media saw Obama’s sojourn to Capitol Hill as a “reaching out” to Republicans. The rest of us who possess more than half a brain saw it for what it was - an empty gesture aimed at his own supporters who would then trumpet “The New Politics” being pushed by their man-crush.

If as many Republicans went off the reservation to support the bill as Democrats who rejected it, we would hear no end of Obama’s “success” in splitting the Republican party. But you have to wonder how many more responsible Democrats would have bailed if this wasn’t Obama’s first big game. The point being, the Stimulus is Obama’s primal thrust, his Ur issue. And judging by what we’re seeing in the Senate, I think it is going to be dicey for the new president. I expect that bill to shrink substantially - perhaps by a couple or three hundred billion dollars. I expect more tax relief, less Mickey Mouse, and perhaps more targeted infrastructure spending.

Clearly, the White House has lost control of the process in Congress as support among the public plummets; only 42% now support the stimulus down from the mid-50’s last week. The White House PR strategy is obviously failing. Every time Obama opens his mouth about “doing something” to help the economy, someone else points to some cockamamie bit in the bill that only helps a Democratic constituency. The press, while still touting the bill as the saving of America, has also been wondering about some of these specifics.

The Administration strategy of loading up the bill with pork - trying to combine what should have been 3 or 4 bills and then counting on the fear of the people to pressure their Members of Congress to ram it through before anyone had time to digest what was in it now has to be abandoned. The rank dishonesty in plugging in so much that had nothing to do with economic recovery and then trying to say it was vital to keep us from sliding into a depression has been exposed.

What else has been exposed is a basic incompetence in the White House that they believed they could get away with it. Also, the new Administration is feeling its way in Congress - something all new Administrations must do as they work the kinks out of their whip operation and Congressional lobbying efforts. Then again, most administrations don’t have the kinds of majorities enjoyed by the Democrats.

So the stimulus will pass eventually. But Republicans should take note; this guy and his people are not the geniuses of the campaign you were so frightened of. Nor are they the infallible political operators they have been built up as in the press. They make mistakes. They miscalculate. And, they may be a touch too arrogant for their own good.

Contemplate that while you decide whether to break faith with your constituencies and vote for this piece of crap.



Filed under: Bailout, Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 5:31 pm

My latest PJ Media column is up. It’s on Mayor Daley’s efforts to expand O’Hare Airport - unnecessarily in the opinion of almost everybody - by getting a slice of the bail out money Congress just passed.

Now that Governor Rod Blagojevich is, politically speaking, pushing up daises, attention in the Land of Lincoln is going to be drawn to efforts by Chicago’s Mayor Daley to latch on to a portion of the coming “stimulus package” in order to fund his dream of expanding O’Hare Airport.

Never mind that no one wants to pay for it — including the city, the county, the state, the airlines, the taxpayers, or, until now, the federal government. Never mind that the FAA’s own studies show that the expansion will not relieve the heavily congested runways or mitigate the problem with delays. Never mind that getting around the expanded airport would be a nightmare for passengers, some of whom would be forced to take an hour-long shuttle ride from one parking lot to the American Airlines terminal. Never mind that an airplane that lands on the northern runway will have to taxi 45 minutes to get to the United terminal. And never mind that hundreds of residents from tiny Bensenville, IL, have already been forcibly removed from their homes despite the fact that the next phase of the expansion is in financial limbo and may never be completed.

No one contests the idea that the traffic problems at O’Hare are serious and must be addressed. Anyone who has spent an hour on a runway waiting to take off or circled the airport for even longer waiting to land cannot deny that what once was “the busiest airport in the world” has become a quagmire of delays, impossibly long lines for security, and a traffic nightmare guaranteed to give even the most even tempered driver a severe case of road rage.

But Hizzoner, for personal, political, and financial reasons, insists that expanding O’Hare is just the ticket. And when Mayor Richard Daley gets it in his head that something is absolutely necessary for his beloved city, he can be a fearsome force with which to tangle. You don’t cross Daley in Chicago unless you’re on pretty solid footing, which is why he has a legion of opponents who are making his life miserable by trying to block the expansion.

Read the whole thing before commenting please.



Filed under: Iran, Middle East, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 12:18 pm

No “hope and change” for the Iranian people - not if Obama’s State Department gets their way regarding a new “overture” to Tehran.

It will apparently take the form of a letter - either addressed directly to Supreme Leader Khamenei or an open letter. The letter may do something that no American president - not even Jimmy Carter - was willing to do; guarantee the legitimacy and sovereignty of the Iranian regime.

In othe rwords, both a “no invasion” pledge as well as the US promising not to seek regime change by proxy or otherwise:

State department officials have composed at least three drafts of the letter, which gives assurances that Washington does not want to overthrow the Islamic regime, but merely seeks a change in its behaviour. The letter would be addressed to the Iranian people and sent directly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or released as an open letter.

One draft proposal suggests that Iran should compare its relatively low standard of living with that of some of its more prosperous neighbours, and contemplate the benefits of losing its pariah status in the west. Although the tone is conciliatory, it also calls on Iran to end what the US calls state sponsorship of terrorism.

The letter is being considered by the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, as part of a sweeping review of US policy on Iran. A decision on sending it is not expected until the review is complete.

In an interview on Monday with the al-Arabiya television network, Obama hinted at a more friendly approach towards the Islamic Republic.

Ahmadinejad said yesterday that he was waiting patiently to see what the Obama administration would come up with. “We will listen to the statements closely, we will carefully study their actions, and, if there are real changes, we will welcome it,” he said.

Ahmadinejad, who confirmed that he would stand for election again in June, said it was unclear whether the Obama administration was intent on just a shift in tactics or was seeking fundamental change. He called on Washington to apologise for its actions against Iran over the past 60 years, including US support for a 1953 coup that ousted the democratically elected government, and the US shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988.

Will Obama give in to Ahmadinejad’s demand that we apologize? If we are going to go as far as guaranteeing their legitimacy, why not? Bill Clinton toured the world his second term apologizing for America’s past behavior to anyone who was ever even slightly offended (or pretended to be) at US actions over the years. Given the critique by Obama of our Iran policy during the campaign, I certainly wouldn’t put it past Obama to grovel before the Persians.

There may be some political gamesmanship at work here as Allah points out at Hot Air:

In fairness, there may be an ulterior motive to this: Ahmadinejad’s up for reelection in June and Khatami, the “moderate” who preceded him in office, is evidently planning to challenge him. By showing a conciliatory face now, The One may be trying to swing Khamenei towards backing Khatami and the reformists and leaving Ahmadinejad and the hardliners out in the cold. Although if Khamenei’s planning to dump the tiny terrorist for anyone, I’d guess it’s for his protege Larijani. He is high on Hopenchange, after all.

Good points and I would add that Larijani, who resigned as chief nuclear negotiator last year, has been slowly gathering support in the Guardian Council which could prove to be very significant. The Council chooses who gets to run for president and the Iranian Majlis. They can nix a candidate for the most specious of reasons - that they do not interpret the Koran correctly or commit some other religious faux pas. It is possible Larijani could out manuever Khatami, even to the point of having him denied access to the ballot.

Khamenei, who is reported to be in poor health, has no interest in making Obama look good but may see a lessening of tensions as a godsend for the Iranian nuclear program. The drive for ever more biting sanctions in the UN will be slowed if there is any kind of a rapproachment with the US. Russia and China, who have subsumed their own commercial interests in Iran to go along with the sanctions, will almost certainly reject any further efforts to punish Tehran for their nuclear program. There is even a possibility that the sanctions already in place will be lifted - at least there may be more of an effort to circumvent the sanctions.

This is a pretty bad idea in my view. Anything that legitimizes the Iranian regime condemns the Iranian people to further indignities under the rule of the religious crazies who still beat women in the streets for not covering themselves and jail anyone who breathes opposition to them. And any idea that improving relations with Iran will keep Hezb’allah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and any number of terrorists groups at bay is wishful thinking.

Seems to be a lot of that at the White House since Obama took over.

This blog post originally appears in The American Thinker



Filed under: Government, History — Rick Moran @ 1:42 pm

I am not a well read man - or, at least, not as well read as I should be. Nor do I claim any extraordinary intellectual gifts. I regularly fail the test of possesing a “well ordered mind” in that my insights at times lack depth and even coherence. I admit to emotionalism when logic and reason are called for. And I lack the discipline to rigorously examine concepts that do not generally conform to my own, narrow view of the world.

I guess that makes me human. And a blogger. “Humility is truth,” said my favorite philosopher Erasmus. Would that all of us take those words to heart and perhaps even etch them onto our monitors. “A man’s got to know his limitations,” said my favorite movie character Harry Callahan. That adage should be branded on our hearts to remind us that an examined life is a fulfilling life.

One can immediately see the connection between the 16th century Dutch humanist and Dirty Harry. If we give ourselves permission to not have all the answers, it liberates our minds from the slavery of formalism and allows us to freely explore ideas that we otherwise might reject out of hand or worse, adopt without question as dogma.

If, at times, it seems to some of my regular readers that my conservatism appears “inconsistent,” it is only because the principles upon which my political philosophy is based might be unchanging but the ideas that animate those principles are in a constant state of flux. For instance, I believe in the conservative principle of a just moral order being necessary for a society to thrive. But the idea of what constitutes a “just moral order” has changed for me - from one informed by a belief in a diety to one informed by a belief in the ultimate wisdom of man to manage his own affairs.

Does being an atheist make me any less of a conservative? Some would say yes, judging by the outcry over Obama including “non-believers” in his inuagural address. But I think I share most of the same basic principles of conservatism with conservatives of faith. The difference is in how we internalize those principles through our own, individual and unique life experiences and beliefs. There’s more than one way to skin a cat as there is more than one way of seeing the world through the prism of bedrock conservative principles - immutable and unchanging as those principles are.

I have taken some pains to explain my personal thoughts because the subject is so important. I don’t claim to have all the answers or have any better insight into the great issues of the day than anyone else. But to my mind, the question of whether we in the United States will be living an “easier life” in a European style welfare state were the poor and middle class are dependent on government for many things they could or should be doing for themselves or enjoying an “earned life” in a state that promotes individual responsibilty and self sufficiency will be answered in the next 4 to 8 years. And as it stands now, conservatives haven’t come up with a philosophical or political answer to the idea that whatever the people want from government, they should receive even if, as is many times the case, individual liberty is the price to be paid.

The transformation of American society from one that values liberty to one that embraces dependency has taken longer than any other western nation. This has largely been due to American conservatisms steadfast refusal to abandon what Kirk calls the “voluntary community” in favor of the stifling hand of collectivism. Where once only the poor felt the deadening hand of statism which created a permanent underclass, destroyed the family, and smother ambition, now the middle class is in line to be granted similar attention. Health care, education, even important life choices such as whether to open one’s own business or questions about child rearing are soon to be made at least partly matters of state and not wholly questions to be resolved by individuals and families.

Liberals do not like to discuss the loss of freedom their collectivist ideas entail. But we are clearly in an era where choices are to be limited for the middle class in order to make life less of a burden . And any society that limits choice, limits freedom.

But isn’t this what the people want, what they are demanding? How can you live in a democracy and tell people that government acting to make your life easier is wrong and that the alternative - struggling to make the right choices for yourself and your family and where not choosing wisely might cost you - is the preferred, indeed the “American” way of self sufficiency and taking responsibility for your own life?

There is nothing noble in suffering but I would posit the notion that independence is, in and of itself, enobling and in any society that values freedom, the slide into dependency cannot be allowed without a recognition of what we lose as well as what is gained. There are 400 years of struggle behind us to create a society where the individual took responsibility for his own well being and that of his family, his fortunes rising or falling based on his native abilities and talents. The reward was “an earned life” of personal satisfaction and a feeling of self worth and accomplishment that you simply cannot experience if you depend on government for as much as we do today. Or as much as we will in the near future if more of our freedoms are given up in the name of personal security and comfort.

What do we care how our ancestors lived? This is, after all, the 21st century and the need for a large government is self-evident. A nation of 300 million people have legitimate needs that no one except government can fill. We can’t walk out our door and shoot a deer to feed our families. Nor can we build a cabin to house them. And few of us have the skill necessary to make our own clothing. There’s no alternative to modern medicine if we get sick - a hugely expensive proposition as we all know. Beyond that, we must be protected from those who would abuse the freedoms they’ve been given to deliberately pollute the land and water, make dangerous products, place workers in unnecessarily hazardous conditions, and take untoward advantage in the marketplace.

On the one hand, we are presented with the abstract - the ideal as it were - of self sufficiency and independence while on the other the real world problems of living in an industrialized democracy. But recognizing the value of possessing as much independence as possible within that reality seems to me to be an unargued proposition. We don’t say “this far and no farther.” We don’t even think it. Government is a juggernaut with a life of its own, gathering momentum over the last half century like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering speed and size, until it is impossible to control only get out of its way.

Does any of this matter? I believe it should. The issue is choice not the size of government. Restraining government growth would be nice but it is not necessary in order to restrain it from taking away our choices. I would say to my friends on the left that everything you wish to accomplish for the middle class and the rest of us that will unburden our lives and supposedly make them easier also involves a price that we pay in independence of action. And it disturbs me that I hear nothing about how that affects the manner in which liberty is diminished and we become that much farther removed from our roots as a people who valued freedom more than life itself.



Filed under: The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 4:14 pm

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

Tonight, Jennifer Rubin of Commentary Magazine joins me to talk about the stimulus bill, Obama’s interview with al-Arabiya TV, and other political hot topics.

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


Filed under: "24" — Rick Moran @ 3:01 pm

For all you Tony Almeda fans out there, I have very bad news.

Tony will, very soon, return to the Dark Side and be Jack’s enemy while working to bring whatever the final goal of the conspiracy might be to fruition.

You could see it in his face while Emerson, his “brother” was lying severerly wounded. (Is he Dead? The fact that they carried his body to the back of the hangar before the traitors came to pick up Maboto would seem to indicate that he is, in fact, dead. Or Jack would be the perfect customer in the Monty Pythons “Dead Parrot” sketch.)

Even before then, while Tony was describing how he felt after Emerson revived him you could see he still believes he’s been screwed by the government. And this begs the question; what happens when the CIP Module is safely in the hands of the good guys? Tony’s rationale for being on the government’s side evaporates which I believe will cause him to flip and rejoin his comrades in the conspiracy.

This sets up some pretty high drama with Jack probably being the one who is forced to kill Tony (permanently) in the end. Judging by how fast this plot is moving, that might not happen for a few years.

I will reiterate my complaint about the pace of the show. It is deadly slow with precious little suspense, very little action, and some god-awful speechifying by Maboto, President Taylor, and others. That blather the President spread around the cabinet room should be grounds for her impeachment. She would rather see 200,000 American die than Sangalese? Being a “force for good” in the world is hardly relevant when you have dead Americans all over the place. The point is, she has a choice. And she is choosing dead Americans over dead Sangalese. Nobody said the choice was easy. But in the end, she is violating her oath of office by protecting foreigners at the expense of American citizens.

The story lines are interesting but, as I said last week, are not converging. At all. They continue in a straight line with their own exposition and character development. It appears that next week, we will finally have convergence as the Tony/Jack/CTU thread will merge with the Dubaku/Emerson thread. The First Gentleman thread and the White House thread appear static with the president in the dark about Jack’s op as well as her husband’s efforts to uncover the conspiracy that killed their son. The FBI thread is off in limbo somewhere.

We know they have to stretch the show out for 24 hours but this is awful. Six hours into the show before Jack gets his first full Kill? This is not the 24 that I knew…


Agent Larry Moss is frantic with worry about Renee, after NSA intercepted a domestic call without a warrant from Emerson to the traitors working for Dubaku indicating that Walker was a gone goose. Seeing Larry’s distress (he is madly in love with her) Agent Hillinger offers condlolences only to have his head bitten off by Moss for even suggesting she might be dead. And the hunt for Maboto continues at the FBI.

Chloe and Bill arrive at the still empty construction site where Jack and Tony have buried Renee. One might ask how they got there until we recall that they implanted a listening device on Jack so they know everything that has transpired. One might also ask how they knew exactly where Renee’s body was but then, we wouldn’t have to suspend belief and where would we be?

After pulling the unrealistic “Adreniline in the heart” move, Renee gasps and sits up. Lazarus was probably a little groggy after being told to “come forth,” but Renee pops right up, dead one minute, ready to kill terrorists the next. When they fill her in on Jack and what he’s really up to, she is strangely hostile. She gets even crabbier when Bill tells her she can’t call Larry and tell him she’s ok. The threesome heads for the rendevous where Jack will be.

On the way there, Jack gets around to asking Emerson how they revived Tony after he was dead. Well, it seems that Tony was never really dead - it just looked that way when his heart stopped beating. It turns out that old Buckaroo Banzai, Henderson himself, only faked injecting Tony in the vein - missing it just enough to make him appear to be dead.

What can you possibly say about such idiocy? I was laughing out loud listening to this crap as Jack ate it up and never blinked an eye. I hate it when the writers take us for dolts and that explanation was so incredible that they must have no respect for the intelligence of their audience at all.

At any rate, it gave Tony a chance to emote. Well, given Carlos Bernard’s “talent,” he emoted as much as we can expect any cheesy actor to emote. He scowled a little bit more. His eyes became even more hooded. And in his monotone growl, he nearly whispered that Emerson convinced him that the government was the enemy for killing his beloved Michelle. “No honor left,” he grunted.

That Tony. What an actor.

But Emerson saw something he didn’t like from Jack. And when Jack got out of the van and moved to the rear to get Maboto and his wife, Emerson suddenly grabbed Jack’s gun, placed Bauer in a choke hold, and asked Tony what was going on.

Of course, Jack screamed at Tony to shoot Emerson - his friend and brother. Tony hesitates just long enough to let us know that he really is torn at this point (which gives life to my theory that he will, in fact, betray them all) but finally fires and hits Emerson in the shoulder. Before the terrorist can raise his gun to kill Tony, Jack puts one in his neck.

Tony tries to minister to the stricken terrorist but it is apparently too late. Emerson spits his last breath at Tony, telling him to go to hell, that he’s not forgiven.

In the meantime, Jack opens the back of the van to find a surprised and distrustful Maboto. Very politely, Jack explains that he really didn’t mean to almost kill he and his wife with poison gas, that they were only trying to get to Dubaku. And by the way, Mr. Prime Minister, would you please get back in the van so we can hand you and your wife over to your deadly enemy anyway?

Maboto looks dubious until his wife tells him “He has no reason to lie.” Besides, one look at Jack and you know he’s trustworthy. He’s the kind of guy that when he was a kid would impress all the adults in the neighborhood with his good manners and respectful attitude, while at night, he would go into their back yards and rip up their gardens and garrotte their cats.

The Prime Minister finally agrees and Chloe springs into action. She has a device that fits on to one of the Prime Minister’s teeth that will allow the gang to keep track of him. But Maboto is still a little confused about who he’s dealing with.

Maboto (to Chloe): Are you with the FBI?

Chloe: No. I’m just a stay-at-home mom.

Thoroughly confused now but trusting in Jack, Maboto gets back in the van.

Walker is still mad at Jack. What’s she got to complain about? Aside from shooting her in the neck and burying her alive, Jack hasn’t really done anything to her. For Jack, that’s just a little foreplay. Anyway, Walker finally realizes that Jack didn’t have a choice which, as we all know, is the first step toward true love.

Back at Dubaku’s hideout, the genocidal colonel is getting antsy. The deadline has passed and the American military is still poised to deliver some shock and awe to his boss, General Juma. After sending Nichols off to pick up Maboto - ordering him to eliminate Emerson and his crew - Dubaku orders the American techies to change the course of an aircraft over Washington.

At the White House, Kanin once again tries to get the President to pull the troops back to save American lives. Her stubborness now has a price tag as Dubaku calls and tells her to look out the White House window. He has vectored two planes on the same flight path and suddenly, they collide. We are told that 270 people died in the middair collision with more dead on the ground. Dubaku - his point made - threatens to kill 10,000 more Americans unless the troops are withdrawn.

Taylor heads immediately into a cabinet meeting where everyone recommends pulling back - except her. This proves too much for the Secretary of State Joe Stevens who resigns after predicting that once all the information was made available she would be impeached for her “reckless” foreign policy.

This resignation calls for a patriotic speech from Madame President. We hear that the world looks to the US for hope, that we have always been a “force for good” in the world and that by gum! we’ve got to live up to that credo by sacrificing American boys on a distant battlefield where there’s no possible vital interest at stake for America as well as allowing the deaths of thousands more innocent Americans at home. All this to save some foreigners who are in danger.

How brave! How noble we are!

How sickening.

I did find it interesting that the show ignored the dominant liberal narrative of the past 8 years by saying we have always been a force for “good” in the world and that we had what amounts to a moral authority in that regard. But the idea that our reputation rises or falls based on how willing we are to sacrifice our blood and treasure for someone else is lunacy.

Anyway, it seems to buck up some of the cabinet. But not Kamin and the Homeland Security Secretary Woods. They think they can use the First Gentleman to intercede and try to make his wife listen to reason. Kamin decides to call him and see if he will do it.

Henry is a little busy at the moment. More accurately, he’s a little tied up - by Secret Service Agent Brian who spiked Taylor’s coffee with a nerve agent. He’s sitting on the couch when dark haird Samantha arrives. And since he can’t speak a word to warn her, Gedge is able to sneak up behind her. She dies bloody, as I wrote in my first summary, and as all dark haired women on the show eventually do, right in front of Henry.

Kamin chooses that moment to call Brian. He can’t get through to Henry. Well, of course not, says Brian, he’s in Sam’s apartment and I’m out here in my car waiting. Kamin orders Brian to tell Henry to buzz him immediately but Brian has other plans.

Taking a hunk of telephone wire, he throws it over a beam on the upper floor. But Henry is getting feeling back in his hands and when Brian goes to hang him, the two struggle breifly before they topple over the railing and fall on a table below. Henry is fortunate enough to have been on top and thus endeth the life of Brian, crooked Secret Service Agent.

At the hangar, Nichols shows up to collect Maboto. Tony gives him a cock and bull story about killing Emerson because he wanted the diamonds they were going to receive in payment all for himself. Nichols never bats an eye, allowing Tony to examine the diamonds. Then, when he has Maboto and his wife in hand, he gives the 24 head nod that all bad guys give instead of just saying “Shoot the mother.” However, Jack and his high powered rifle has Tony’s back and Bauer gets his first real kill of the show when he knocks off Tony’s would be assassin. Tony tells Nichols to get lost and the traitor gets in the car with Maboto and his wife in tow.

Back at Sam’s apartment we have a “situation” as it were. The First Gentleman is lying on the floor, still barely able to move, with two dead bodies and a knife that has his fingerprints on it. What’s a presidential spouse to do? Run, rabbit, run.

After the planes crash, Dubaku sees that the President is still not doing as she has been told. Cooly, he orders the next target to be primed. It’s a small anytown America in Ohio with a chemical plant on the outskirts of town. We are informed that casualties will be close to 18,000 unless Jack can get there in time and foil Dubaku’s evil plans.

Will the First Gent be wanted for murder? Will Jack be able to save the town from disaster? Will Tony ever learn how to act?

Stay tuned until next week.


We hear that 270 are dead on the plane - a number that may rise if they tell us how many died on the ground.

Tony got one of Emerson’s men in the hangar.

The First Gentleman made sure there is one less bent Secret Service agent.

Jack got his first kill all his own - a bullseye with the sniper’s rifle. Since it would pain Tony to share in killing Emerson, we will give him a half and Jack a half.

Jack: 2
Show: 281



Filed under: Government, Obama inauguration, Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:08 am

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

It is probably too early to get a good handle on what kind of president Barack Obama will turn out to be. After all, it’s been less than 4 days since he took the oath for keeps.

Still, the study of the American presidency is a study in the exercise of power in a democratic republic. How does Obama turn his comfortable electoral victory into actionable policies and programs?

Taking the raw, unformed mandate of victory at the polls and shaping it into a club to get Congress and the various departments to do his bidding has been his first chore. In this, he has succeeded. He controls the agenda. His own party looks to him for leadership, while the Republicans — both for political and traditional reasons — are generally inclined to grant him the benefit of the doubt. This so-called “honeymoon” is nothing more than recognition by the opposition of political reality. The Republicans lost by near-landslide proportions, and now that his popularity has skyrocketed during the transition, to be seen hindering Obama is to be seen as obstructing the will of the people. At least, that’s the argument that Democrats would make.

Obama made it quite plain what that means when Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) went into a critique of the new president’s “stimulus plan.” Reportedly, Obama waited for Cantor to finish and then said, simply “I won.” Obama’s two word put down trumped the discussion. (Glenn Reynolds points out that if George Bush had tried something like that, he would have been considered arrogant.)

Obama will eventually discover, as all presidents do, that the office is, at one and the same time, both the weakest of Constitutional offices and the strongest. All Article II says about a president’s powers is that he must execute the laws, act as Commander in Chief, make treaties, and fill vacancies in the departments during congressional recesses. And that’s basically it. He cannot “propose”, only “dispose.”

The office of president draws some of its strength from the direct support of the people. In parliamentary systems, it is the prime minister’s power base among MP’s that allows him to exercise his authority. If he loses support among the people, he can still wield a considerable amount of influence as long as his party has “confidence” in his leadership. A president, as amply demonstrated by the last 18 months of the Bush presidency, has no such luxury. Power ebbs and flows as a result of the will of the people and a weak president is next to useless except in matters of national security where his undoubted supremacy as Commander in Chief imbues the office with the ability to respond to any crisis involving the safety and security of the people.

For the first 2 or 3 months, Obama will be more powerful than at any other point during his term in office. During these first few days, he has sought to use that power both symbolically and practically, altering some of the policies of his predecessor while staying the course on others.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of Obama’s first week.

The Ugly

The entire inaugural was a disaster area. The program was marked by a poem that some consider to have been the worst in inaugural history. A flat, strangely subdued (almost dirge-like) performance by some of the world’s greatest musicians turned out to be taped. A hugely inappropriate benediction was given by the Reverend Joseph Lowrey. The huge crowd booed and mocked the outgoing president thus insulting not only Bush but Obama. And, after a flubbed oath of office that forced him to take it over again, a strangely uninspiring and forgettable address by the President himself.

There was also the evening festivities where President and Mrs. Obama found time for Hollywood celebrities, Washington glitterati, and politicos of every shape and size but somehow had no room on his dance card for the 48 Medal of Honor winners who attended the “Salute to Heroes” ball — the first time in 56 years the Commander in Chief failed to show. The new president attended another mostly military ball but broke faith with his predecessors when he snubbed the MOH winners and other wounded vets — some of whom had limped to the Ball from Walter Reed hospital.

The launch of the new WhiteHouse.gov website got a black eye when it was discovered the worst kind of partisan language was used to describe the reconstruction of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Someone should tell Obama’s partisans on the White House staff that the campaign is over and the American people will judge him based on his performance and not on how cleverly he can pass the buck for any failures on his predecessor.

There was the ugly scene in the press room on Wednesday night where Obama became irritated when a reporter asked a question he didn’t like. For a president to treat the press as an extension of his administration’s PR arm — which is what Obama was expecting when he entered the press room in the first place — and not working reporters with a job to do, is clearly a troubling indication, first noticed during the campaign, that this president will not accept criticism or opposition very graciously. This attitude is probably going to make the press even less likely to challenge him — if they had a mind to do so in the first place.

Finally, the question that got Obama’s dander up regarded his intention to name lobbyist William Lynn to the position of Deputy Defense Secretary. In order to do so, Obama has to waive his own rules not to hire any lobbyists for his administration.

Not even 72 hours into his presidency and he’s already broken one of his major campaign promises. And he wonders why people are cynical about politics? Ugly, indeed.

The Good

The high point of the inaugural may have been the playing of the national anthem by the Navy Band and sung by the “Sea Chanters” — played and sung as it should be played and sung, at the proper speed (a fairly brisk 135 beats a minute) and without the pop-culture trashing of the piece with unnecessary jazzy lilts and rock ‘n roll screams. And the parade was pretty good.

Obama’s choice of Richard Holbrooke for special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan (”AFPAK”) may be the best move of the week. Holbrooke is a no-nonsense, straight from the shoulder, tell-it-like-it-is diplomat. He was the chief architect of the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian War, knocking heads together until the two sides came to an agreement. As UN Ambassador, he got our contribution reduced while forcing the first tentative steps at reforming the corrupt finances of that body. (John Bolton, in his short time at the UN, did far more and was much more honest about the scandalous state of UN finances.)

If there is anyone who can persuade the Pakistani government to crack down on the Taliban and al-Qaeda who are currently crossing the border into Afghanistan almost at will it is Holbrooke. His portfolio does not include any power to negotiate with the Taliban, which is good. But neither does it include any instructions regarding India or the Kashmir, which is bad. Obviously, the Kashmir is a breeding ground for terrorists and the big bone of contention between the two countries. (Laura Rozen outlines the downside to this at the Foreign Policy magazine blog The Cable. )

President Obama also issued an executive order that will bring some sunshine back into the Oval Office, when he nixed a Bush era rule that not only hid many presidential documents behind executive privilege but allowed surviving family members to make the same claim even after the death of the ex-president. Any move that opens the government to scrutiny is a good one — even if, as seems likely, Democrats will use Bush documents to press for an investigation into his presidency. Obama could have grandfathered the executive order to include the papers of future presidents only but such a move would have had his base howling in protest.

Finally, it was heartening to find out that President Obama will continue the Bush policy of attacking the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan. The missile attack ordered by the president struck compounds in North and South Waziristan - a hot bed of al-Qaeda and Taliban activity. Past attacks have targeted the terrorist’s leadership but there’s no word yet on any success in that regard.

The Bad

Obama’s choice of George Mitchell for Middle East Envoy in the immediate aftermath of the Israeli-Hamas War may turn out to be a big mistake. As AT’s news editor Ed Lasky points out here, Mitchell has a history of seeing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a question of Israel needing to give more in negotiations than the Palestinians. Expectations of Mitchell’s “friendliness” in the Arab world may be raised due to his Lebanese ancestry and his promotion of a more “evenhanded” approach to the conflict. How this will affect US-Israel ties is unknown, but after 8 years of strong support for Israel from George Bush, there is no doubt that the appointment of Mitchell signals a big change.

Another big change is perhaps Obama’s worst decision this week; the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility along with all other “black sites” run by the CIA. This was done with absolutely no plan regarding what to do with the remaining inmates at Gitmo nor coming up with an alternate for the CIA sites that isolated the “worst of the worst” terrorists in total security and secrecy.

One can look at most of Obama’s actions this first week as payoffs to constituent groups who supported him in the election. His decision to close Gitmo can be seen in that light. The base of the Democratic Party had been suffering apoplectic fits for years over Gitmo and the terrorist trials. Closing the facility and suspending the tribunals was shortsighted. There is no plan in place on where to put the prisoners, how to judge them, or how to make sure that further releases do not return to fight us again. It is irresponsible and dangerous to our security, it’s cheered the base of the Democratic party nonetheless. Apparently, President Obama prefers to indulge in symbolism at the expense of our safety.

Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the decision to close Guantánamo by a year from now “places hope ahead of reality — it sets an objective without a plan to get there.” I would add that it places atmospherics ahead of common sense — a bad sign for any presidency, but especially one where the new chief executive has so little experience on national security issues.

An argument can be made to close Guantanamo and the black sites. But to make such an announcement without an alternate plan for where to house the prisoners, what legal structure will replace the tribunals, what, if any, rights will be granted the enemy combatants, what to do with future al-Qaeda leaders who are captured, and other questions Obama didn’t bother to address with this political grandstanding and pandering to his base, suggests that the new president is unserious about issues affecting our security. Such may not be the case. But it is hard to judge otherwise given the cavalier manner in which Obama has taken these steps.

Another decision made rather cavalierly was the rescinding of the “Mexico City Policy” which prevents groups receiving federal funds from promoting or performing abortions overseas.

Americans supported the Mexico City Policy by more than 2-1. It is a good policy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it prevented overly zealous groups from promoting abortion as a means of birth control in poor countries. This is an inherently racist attitude as it attaches less worth to babies of color than white babies. It also saved the lives of countless women who would have been exposed to dangerous procedures performed in less than ideal facilities from a medical point of view.

Rescinding this order (a payoff to feminists) will do little to improve the lot of women in poor countries and may even put their lives at risk. Quite a price to pay for pandering to a constituency.

Finally, Obama made his first really dumb political move when he picked a fight with Rush Limbaugh, telling GOP senators that they shouldn’t listen to the talk show host and get on board with his stimulus package.

Obama broke the first rule of political gunslinging: never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel — or in the case of Rush Limbaugh, someone with 23 million daily listeners and 3 hours every day with which to make you look like an idiot.


Limbaugh correctly diagnosed Obama’s attack:

There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier’s plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters? Meanwhile, the effort to foist all blame for this mess on the private sector continues unabated when most of the blame for this current debacle can be laid at the feet of the Congress and a couple of former presidents. And there is a strategic reason for this.

It won’t be much of a war. Obama can’t respond to Limbaugh every day while Rush will pummel him mercilessly. He was going to do so anyway but now Obama has made it personal. Aside from being a stupid move, it is simply bad politics.

As of Sunday, Obama’s approval rating stands at a robust 68%. But with more questions being raised about his stimulus bill and the entire bailout culture that has sprung up in recent months. it stands to reason there is only one direction those numbers can go. And because as Peter Wehner points out in Commentary Magazine, Obama’s support is “aesthetic rather than substantive” — driven by a cult of personality rather than ideas — it is likely we will see those numbers travel south as the reality of our economic situation and security concerns set in and people realize that The One does not have all the answers.




Filed under: Government, History, Science, Space — Rick Moran @ 10:54 am

The Kepler mission will be the first serious search for habitable planets in our galaxy.

Taking a break from politics this weekend (at least on this blog) because I’ve had a hankerin’ to do some gee-whiz, wowie-zowie, omigod, eye-popping, knock you out of your sox, space blogging.

There’s a lot going on at NASA besides trying to keep the dinosaur Shuttle fleet in one piece. (I pray every time they launch that Edsel that humans will not pay with their lives for the bureaucratic bungling that has us using this antique rather than modernizing years ago.) It is a consequence of a lazy media and their even lazier audience that the truly stunning scientific accomplishments that NASA is generally responsible for (in partnership with the EU, the Russians, and others on occasion) are barely reported and commented on.

NASA may be an agency in search of a grand vision but when it comes to cutting edge science, they do alright. The Mars rovers, orbiters, and the most recent laboratory lander, the Phoenix, that discovered what almost certainly is water ice at the north pole, are radically changing our view of the “dead” red planet (recent discoveries of plumes of methane suggest the possibility of life).

The agency’s New Horizon’s mission to Pluto and the Kuyper Belt is chugging along about a third of the way to crossing the orbit of Uranus. Launched 3 years ago, the spacecraft is the fastest man made object in the solar system traveling at more than 43,000 MPH. Even at that speed, it won’t reach Pluto until July of 2015.

The Hubbell Space Telescope is still amazing scientists with its discoveries. And for pure, geeky, kewlness, the pictures that are beamed to earth from Hubbell can’t be beat. Hubbell’s successor - The James Webb Space Telescope - will, if it works properly, probably have the capability to see earth-like planets in enough detail that we will be able to discern whether any intelligent life exists there.

But the launch of Webb is four years off. In the meantime, the most sophisticated effort in history to find earth like planets will be undertaken on March 6 of this year when NASA launches the Kepler Spacecraft into orbit.

A different kind of telescope, Kepler will be equipped with a gigantic photometer and will peer at one, small section of the sky continuously, comprising about 100,000 stars. It’s job will be to catch earth-like planets crossing in front of its star - “transiting” is the scientific term - and then determining the shape of its orbit.

The goal is to discover those planets in the “Goldilocks Zone” or habital zone, where water can exist in liquid form and planetary temperatures would at least give life a chance to arise. It’s called the “Goldilocks Zone” because the orbit would place the planet in a zone not too cold and not too hot but “just right.” This is a narrow zone indeed if you think about it. Of our two closest planetary neighbors, Venus is probably too close to the sun for life to have arisen (other factors like a runaway greenhouse effect also doomed life there) and Mars may be at the outer edge of the habital zone, having seen liquid water early in its formation as well as the possibility mentioned previously that some form of microbial life still exists there.

Here’s a brief overview of the mission from the Kepler website:

The scientific objective of the Kepler Mission is to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems. This is achieved by surveying a large sample of stars to:

  1. Determine the percentage of terrestrial and larger planets there are in or near the habitable zone of a wide variety of stars;
  2. Determine the distribution of sizes and shapes of the orbits of these planets;
  3. Estimate how many planets there are in multiple-star systems;
  4. Determine the variety of orbit sizes and planet reflectivities, sizes, masses and densities of short-period giant planets;
  5. Identify additional members of each discovered planetary system using other techniques; and
  6. Determine the properties of those stars that harbor planetary systems.

Using supercooled charge coupled devices (CCD’s), the sensitive photometer will be able to determine a small body transiting a distant star by measuring light before and during the transit. It is described as akin to measuring the light blocked by a moth as it transits a searchlight. The telescope will have its eye fixed on one, relatively small section of the sky and study such transits for 100,000 stars over a 5 year period.

There are a couple of drawbacks to this method of detecting earth-like planets. First, Kepler will only be able to see planets orbiting within the plane of the star. In our solar system, Neptune orbits outide of the plane of the sun which means its transits are very, very rare. An earth like planet orbiting closer to the star but not in its plane would have more transits but probably not enough to be detected during the 5 year life span of Kepler. (Scientists believe they have to see at least 3 or 4 transits in that period that will show the exact same drop off in starlight due to the object’s transit in order to be able to have a “robust” confidence in the data.)

Secondly, there is a possibility (some astronomers believe a probability) that Kepler won’t discover many of these earth like planets at all, that there are just too few of them. NASA says that this will also be valuable knowledge and I agree. But with cost overruns pushing Kepler’s price tag toward $500 million, the Republican in me questions whether earth-based observations could eventually achieve the same results for about 1/10 the cost.

At any rate, here are NASA’s expectations for Kepler:

Expected Results:

Based on the mission described above, including conservative assumptions about detection criteria, stellar variability, taking into account only orbits with 4 transits in 3.5 years, etc., and assuming that planets are common around other stars like our Sun, then we expect to detect:

From transits of terrestrial planets in one year orbits:

  • About 50 planets if most are the same size as Earth (R~1.0 Re) and none larger,
  • About 185 planets if most have a size of R~1.3 Re,
  • About 640 planets if most have a size of R~2.2 Re,
  • About 12% with two or more planets per system.

These numbers come out substantially higher, when one takes into consideration all orbits from a few days to more than one year.

From modulation of the reflected light from giant inner planets:

  • About 870 planets with periods less than one week.

From transits of giant planets:

  • About 135 inner-orbit planet detections,
  • Densities for 35 inner-orbit planets, and
  • About 30 outer-orbit planet detections.

Detection of the short-period giant planets should occur within the first several months of the mission.

The sample size of stars for this mission is large enough to capture the richness of the unexpected. Should no detection be made, a null result would still be very significant.

As you can see, there would still be valuable data gleaned from the mission even if they only discovered a handful of earth like planets. To date, extra-solar planets have overwhelmingly been of the “hot giant” class due to the methods employed to discover extra-solar planets using earth based observations. The debate over why this is so is fascinating. Are these Hot Giants failed stars? Since about half of the stars in our galaxy are binary star systems with two suns in close proximity to one another, that explanation makes sense. Or are our theories on how planets form wrong? The “accretion disc” theory has been with us for several decades but suppose there are alternate means by which the dust and gas surrounding a new star resolves itself?

The big question is can both short period Hot Giants and earth like planets exist in the same solar system? Kepler may help answer that.

Kepler is the next step in NASA’s efforts to discover extra-solar life and perhaps, intelligent neighbors who might also be searching the heavens for signs they are not alone. More likely, those planets Kepler will find, if they harbor intelligent life, feature civilizations far more advanced or far less advanced than ours. But the discovery that there are perhaps thousands of earth like planets in the habital zones of stars in our galaxy alone would almost certainly change the way we look at our universe. Even many skeptics would be forced to rethink their notions of life in the universe if Kepler meets expectations.

Enjoy these discoveries while you can. With trillion dollar deficits staring Congress in the face, the probability that NASA funds will be cut to the bone are about 95%. Congressmen find it easy to cut programs that don’t enrich cronies or buy them votes back home. Most of the pure scientific exploration represented by Kepler, New Horizons, the Mars probes, and the Webb telescope are easy pickings for the budget cutters.

The paltry amounts that will be saved pale in comparison to what we will be losing.

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