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2/28/2009
THE POST MY DETRACTORS WISH I HAD WRITTEN ABOUT THE TEA PARTIES
CATEGORY: Politics

I can’t believe it. My prayers have been answered.

Conservatism is back, brother. We are taking names, kicking ass, and putting the Hussein Obama regime on notice that we’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!

Today witnessed something I never thought I would see in my lifetime; hundreds of ordinary Americans - part of a mass movement made up probably of many, many millions except they’re invisible and you can’t see them unless you wear some special glasses -saying “no” to Hussein Obama and his policies that will eventually bankrupt us.It’s the beginning of the Second American Revolution and golly geewhillickers, I’m right smack dab in the middle of it!

The “tea parties” that are taking place all over the country today are a turning point in the history of human civilization. It’s obvious that tens of millions of Americans are enraged at Hussein Obama and the symbolic tossing of tea bags is one of the greatest political gestures in the last 200 years. If I were the organizers of these protests, I would contact Lipton immediately and ask them to up production considerably. We don’t want to run out of tea because after all, how can you have a tea party when the many, many millions who will eventually, probably take part in these protests don’t have any tea to toss?

Yes, it’s true that only a couple of hundred people showed up at almost all of these tea parties. But there are many reasons why the vast majority of Americans who are ready to throw the Hussein Obama regime on to the ash heap of history couldn’t make it. Just think about how many had dentist appointments? Or had to walk the dog? Or had the sniffles and couldn’t get out of bed? Or who chose to imbibe one too many Tequilla Sunrises before noon and were too sh*tfaced to walk straight? Or were seduced by hippie chicks and wanted to have consequence free sex instead of stand out in the cold and toss tea bags?

There are a lot of reasons conservatives didn’t show up at these events and I challenge you tell me that many millions meant to come - wanted to attend the tea parties with all their hearts - but couldn’t manage it for one reason or another. Anyone who claims that the small numbers reflect the actual interest of most Americans in opposing the Hussein Obama regime is a dirty rotten liar and a Moron to boot. When dealing with our movement, you simply cannot accept reality as a fair yardstick to measure support for the tea parties. If you do, you are part of the problem - not part of the solution. Much better to fantasize about what our movement will be rather than accept what it is now.

The Naysayers have been proved wrong! The tea parties were a smashing success and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. So what if there were only about 12 people at one of them? Those 12 represent the tens of millions of citizens who are so enraged at the Hussein Obama regime that they are too paralyzed with anger and unable to make it.

By next summer, we expect a tsunami to roll over the Hussien Obama regime as perhaps dozens or hundreds more will show up at these tea parties and become an unstoppable force that will crush liberalism, turn out the Democrats, and overthrow Hussein Obama and his spendthrift ways.

Anyone who doesn’t believe this should keep their mouths shut.

By: Rick Moran at 10:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (48)

2/27/2009
WEAK TEA
CATEGORY: Blogging, Politics

“Mr. Santelli, here is a dime. Go, call your mother. Tell her that there is a serious doubt as to whether you will become a media star and darling of the right.”

Start the revolution without me.

Ever since Rick Santelli went off on CNBC and proposed holding a tea party to protest Obama’s policies, the idea caught on all over the country and excited conservatives with the thought that finally, there could be a little “direct action” against Obama’s bailouts.

There was talk of a “second American revolution” and a taxpayer revolt. The tea parties were seen as a way to gauge opposition to the Obama spending plans. Dozens of tea parties were planned across the nation today.

How did that work out?

Michelle Malkin:

I’ve got tons of photos and e-mails pouring in from Tea Party people across the country. I joked to a Christian Science Monitor reporter covering the events that fiscal responsibility is the new counterculture. More coverage/photos/livestreaming at TCOT Report.

There is, as the old ’60s song goes, something happening here. And what it is, is very clear: A grass-roots revolt against the culture of entitlement. The spendzillas in Washington do not speak for us.

Is this really a revolt?

About 200 people showed up at the Chicago tea party. One might spin the reason that thousands didn’t come out and rage against Obama is that it was cold (25 degrees) and that Chicagoans aren’t used to winter weather or perhaps they mislaid their winter coats. Never mind that 60,000 wacky Windy City weirdos turned out to watch a Bears game when it was 7 below zero. There apparently aren’t very many enraged Illinoisans - unless they are holding it in reserve for the next crooked pol that makes headlines.

Nashville did a little better. There, an estimated 600 Tenneseeans turned out. One might spin the reason that 6,000 or 60,000 angry, enraged denizens of the Volunteer State didn’t come forth and join the revolt is that no country star has come up with a song about it yet. Perhaps Toby Keith could come up with something about tea, beer, horses, and a lost love before the next revolution starts.

In North Carolina, they had about 300 people show up. One might spin the reason that 30,000 or 300,000 North Carolinians didn’t appear enraged and ready to overthrow the Obama regime is because both Duke and North Carolina are playing tonight and the citizens are saving themselves for the ballgame.

Glenn Reynolds:

Bill Rickords emails from Wichita, Kansas: “About 3-400 folks showed up in 25 degree weather. Don’t know what these things would be in Spring weather. But we had a pig show up anyway.” I thought they were all in D.C.!

And Bradley Ems emails from St. Louis: “I don’t know if you’ve gotten any pictures from St. Louis (I’m too swamped at work to have attended), but KMOX just reported that the tea party here was expected to draw a small group of 50…over 1,000 showed up. There is something brewing in the
heartland.”

And Joe Fairbanks emails from Oklahoma City: “I’ll be sending you pictures from the ‘Tea Party’ in Oklahoma City soon. I wanted to let you know that we had an amazing turnout of 400 people. This is amazing for multiple reasons, but mostly because this rally was organized in less than 48 hours and it took place at 11 am and the temperature was below freezing with the wind blowing quite strongly. Simply put: people are mad as hell. Obama and Congress won’t be able to ignore this anger much longer if they hope to survive 2010 or 2012. I can also tell you the crowd did take a lot of pride in the fact that our Senators, Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, are two of the leaders against all this irresponsible spending. I’ll get those pictures to you as soon as I get them back.”

And what of Washington, D.C. where 9,000 conservative “activists” showed up for CPAC?

Barely 300 committed conservatives showed up across from the White House to protest Obama’s policies. No doubt WH staffers were having a good time standing at the windows ridiculing the “revolution” that was going to transform America.

It is incredible considering the fact that the tea parties were a very big topic of conversation at the conference that only 300 or so diehards could be “activated” enough to drag themselves on a 60 degree day to a rally that conservatives have been saying is the beginning of the end of Obama.

Asking my fellow bloggers why such a poor turnout, many were spinning furiously that it was too cold, or there wasn’t enough time to advertise, or it was only advertised on twitter and facebook, or any number of excuses why all these “enraged” Americans we are confidently told are lurking out there ready to fire the first metaphorical shot at the Obama Administration and bring them down failed to show up when called upon to register their disgust in a concrete way.

I will say this as gently as my curmudgeonly soul will allow; not a chance. It is delusional to believe that these tea parties are the beginning of anything except a round of raucous Bronx cheers from the left, calling conservatives out for their inexplicable, over the top reaction and unrealistic expectations for these 40 or so tea parties that went off today.

If this really was the beginnings of something profound that was tapping into the rage of the American people, there would have been not 300 but 30,000 people screaming their opposition to spendthrift Obama. People would have taken off from their jobs, bundled up against the cold, walked, rode, took the bus, or crawled their way to a protest if they were truly fed up and ready to throw the Democratic rascals out.

Instead, we get 40 events that remind me of the old Mickey Rooney Andy Hardy movies where he and Judy Garland would put on a show to save someone’s business or house. “Hey kids! Let’s put on a show!” was Rooney’s battle cry in those movies and it is an apropos slogan for the effort that went into promoting these tea parties.

When you get some money, organization, professionalism, and a little more realism, come back and see me.

By: Rick Moran at 3:58 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (120)

2/26/2009
REFLECTIONS ON GOD, MAN, AND CPAC

I’m sitting in the darkened study of my sister’s beautiful home in Bethesda this morning looking forward to a long day of renewing old acquaintances, making new friends, and participating (more like observing) the goings on at CPAC.

I had an interesting discussion last night with my 17 year old cousin about the problem with conservatism today and was surprised that he pretty much nailed the reasons conservatism is in such bad odor with the public and specifically, with his generation. He sees nothing positive coming from conservatives like Hannity, Coulter, and Rush (just picking three examples). What he sees - and I am forced to agree with him - is an overarching arrogance that brooks no discussion and has little room for disagreement.

We may not like it, but my cousin’s generation - and a couple of previous ones - have been educated differently than many of us. They have been taught that moral questions have many sides, that there isn’t one way of looking at the world. When they hear conservatives referring to the opposition as “unpatriotic” it turns them off - they aren’t sure of their own feelings about America themselves.

Clearly, if conservatives wish to attract the young, a better job of educating them outside of the classroom must be done. They will never learn about conservative principles in school - not only because education is dominated by liberals but because the study of most any western philosophy would be anti-diversity.

So the only exposure to conservatism that most children receive comes to them via the Coulter/Hannity/Limbaugh’s of the movement. Entertaining though they are, their very shrillness and presumption of being in the right turns off most kids who have been educated to eschew such certainties.

But isn’t “question everything” the mantra of any good student? I would hope so. However, at some point, questions must harden into a belief system. And when that process begins, the young have little or no idea what classical conservatism is all about because show biz conservatives either don’t know themselves or find it profitable to abandon reason for ranting.

The perils of educating the young in such a way is that enlightenment values get thrown under the bus in obeisance to a nebulous doctrine where ideology rather than philosophy is encouraged. “Diversity” is a wonderful thing - except in teaching competing ideas. And appeals to “thinking with the heart” are substituted for reasoned thought and a rational, objective examination of the issues.

What’s missing? Historian Page Smith, when writing about the Constitutional Convention referred to a “classical Christian Consciousness” that dominated the gathering. This conservative school of thought posits the idea that man is basically evil, that he is stained with original sin and that therefore, governments must be instituted that restrain his baser instincts and protect others from those who would seek to dominate.

But Smith went on to describe the emerging enlightenment values that were also present at the convention. The enlightenment saw man as basically good, capable of perfection with the application of scientific principles to government. This tug of war - roughly between the Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians - ended up with the creation of a document that reflected both sides.

The two great classic philosophies have largely been subsumed by today’s ideological battles. In their name rages a war where one side seeks to dominate the other by any means necessary. I would like to see conservatives try to reclaim some of that classical heritage by becoming more thoughtful, less ideological, and perhaps less doctrinaire - especially since that doctrine is, in my opinion, woefully out of touch with modern realities.

CPAC was not set up to deal with these questions. But it just might start a conversation that would lead to an understanding that for conservatism to become competitive in the marketplace of ideas again, it must acknowledge its shortcomings and work toward reforming itself to better reflect what America has become rather than the way America used to be.

By: Rick Moran at 6:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (74)

2/24/2009
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: CPAC PREVIEW

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

Tonight, I welcome Robert Stacy McCain of the American Spectator, Stephen Green of Vodkapundit, and Fausta Wertz of Real Clear World and Fausta’s Blog as we preview the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that runs from Thur-Sun. We’ll look at the agenda and some of the personalities who will speak at the conference.

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

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

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

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

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 2:35 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

2/23/2009
IDEOLOGY vs PRINCIPLES? SCHWARZENEGGER HIDES UNDER THE BUS
CATEGORY: General

There was a very interesting and instructive conversation between This Week host George Stephanopoulos and California Governor Arne Schwarznegger broadcast yesterday that exposed some troubling attitudes on the part of some politicians who see nothing wrong in having the federal government expropriate your property to subsidize failure, incompetence, and in California’s case - government overreach.

First, it must be said that even though I am a “Big Tent” Republican, anyone who would abandon their principles in order to accede to the wishes of the mob isn’t much of a conservative. I don’t know what Schwarzenegger is, or what he believes - if he truly believes anything at all and not just blows with the winds of popular discontent - but one thing he isn’t is a conservative nor is he any kind of Republican that I can compare him to:

Schwarzenegger said Republicans in Washington must put aside their ideology and work with President Barack Obama on solving the economic crisis.

“You know, you’ve got to go beyond just the principles. You’ve got to go and say, ‘What is right for the country right now?’” he said. “I think that, if they — they should make an effort to work together and to find what is best for the people, because by derailing everything, it’s not going to help anybody, and it creates instability and insecurity.”

Stephanopoulos describing what Schwarzenegger said reveals a supposedly experienced and educated man who doesn’t know the difference between “ideology” and “principles.” Ideology can be defined as how we see the world through the prism supplied by our principles and defines where we come down on important issues like taxes, government spending, abortion, etc. One can change their position on issues - ideology - as long as you remain true to basic principles.

Principles, on the other hand, are virtually immutable philosophical concepts that form the underpinnings of ideology and are “true” to the extent that they are informed by logic and reason rather than emotion.. An example of a conservative principle is the belief that in a well ordered society, government is required to take from the people in taxes only that which it needs to function. Ideological conservatives transform that sensible principle into the issue of cutting taxes, feeling that the government has taken too much. It is an arguable point that I happen to agree with and which ideologues from the other side might see differently. But there is no conservative “principle” that specifically holds that cutting taxes is always the right thing to do in every situation nor even that it is necessary at all. It is this notion among others that ideological conservatives have conflated with “conservative principles” to the detriment of the movement.

As I have written previously, conservatism has become excessively ideological where instead of conservative principles informing ideology, a mindset has developed that equates ideology with principles, abandoning Burke and Hayek for Hannity and Limbaugh. Until conservatives can sort out and redefine for the modern age what our traditional, classical, view of man and his relationship to government and society means, it is probable that people will continue to listen to Rush rather than Russell Kirk (among others) and believe they are being exposed to conservative “principles” rather than the entertaining ideological slants of show biz personalities.

So I would agree that a little less ideology in these times is a good thing. But what about Arne’s call to set aside principles and do what’s best “for the country?” This presupposes that conservatives who are violently opposed to Obama’s bail out culture are only doing so out of spite or for political gain. Obviously, I vigorously reject that notion. What Mr. Obama is up to is such a total and complete anathema to my conservative principles that opposing him where I believe his subsidies and bailouts go beyond what is “best for the country” by my own definition becomes a necessity. Why should conservatives accept Mr. Obama’s notion of what is “best for the country.” Why should conservatives “put aside” their principles to support what every fiber of their being is telling them is wrong?

No doubt elections have consequences. But Mr. Obama did not run a campaign where he promised to fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the government, where Washington was going to reward bad behavior by forcing the people to subsidize failure and bad decisions by their fellow citizens . If he had, he would have been roundly defeated. His campaign oozed moderation not radical left nostrums of bank nationalizations, trillion dollar stimuluses (when a sizable number of economists think half the spending in the bill would have been enough), and other radical surgery proposed for an economy that is in recession.

The left, the Democrats, and the media are advancing the narrative that we had no other choices available, that it was this or economic collapse. But that simply isn’t true. In fact, there is an entire school of economic thought that believes what the Obama Administration is doing is ruinous to our future, won’t stimulate the economy, and has thrust the federal government into the role of arbiter, choosing who wins and who loses when such decisions should (for the most part) be left to the market. These economists don’t hate America, aren’t glad to see people suffer, but follow a basic premise that government intervention in the economy of the size and scope proposed by the Obama Administration is wrong. This is not based on ideology but rather on their informed, scientific opinion. To dismiss or ignore this opinion because other economists say differently while pretending there was no other option than to chart the course being followed is pure, ideological politics - exactly what the Obama Administration accuses Republicans of doing.

Schwarzenegger and others may be willing to abandon principle in these uncertain times. How this is doing what is right “for the country” escapes me. It would seem to me that if everyone acted on their principles and did what they thought was best for the country, the nation would be well served, indeed. Yes, one side would win out over the other. That’s how democracy works. But we would be left with the satisfaction that we maintained our adherence to our fundamental beliefs and, as many of us believe, when it is shown that President Obama’s plans have done little to revive the economy, the American people will be more willing to listen to alternatives from those who opposed doing what was popular or politically viable in favor doing what we know from experience and the principles that inform our opinions was right.

There is no doubt that all GOP governors will take most of the money being proffered by the federal government. It won’t make them hypocrites any more than Democrats who voted against every defense spending bill that ever came down the pike are hypocrites for enjoying the freedom and security that spending buys or liberals talking down tax cuts and then not giving the money back when it shows up in their paychecks. Schwarznegger’s call to abandon principles and work for “the good of the country” is different. It is apparent the governor has little in the way of principles to abandon in the first place and that rather than doing what is best for all, he is doing what is best for himself. Unprincipled politicians are a dime a dozen and Schwarzenegger has proven himself to be the worst example in the Republican ranks.

By: Rick Moran at 9:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (26)

2/22/2009
EXPLOITING TAXPAYER RAGE NOT THE WAY BACK FOR GOP

I have read some speculation in the last few days that it may be possible for the GOP to make big gains in the House and Senate in 2010 if they “tap in” to the rage being felt by ordinary taxpayers against the savior based economy being created by Obama and the Democrats.

As a tactic, it would probably be a winner. But is there another way to achieve the same result without exacerbating the already deep divisions in American society? We may be in a period of low employment, sluggish growth, and high inflation for a while if the Japan model is any indication with their “lost decade.” This is especially true since the Obama administration shows no signs of lessening the flow of cash from the federal spigot. Taxpayers have seen where most of this money is going already and feel betrayed by a government that is seeking to reward failure and bad decisions. The chances are pretty good at this point that all the “stimulus” in the world is not going to head off a deep recession and the federal government is apparently setting itself up to decide who wins and who loses in this shakeup.

The inevitable populist backlash is predictable. The problem is that mass movements based on populist rage have generally led to untoward and unanticipated consequences. History is littered with these populist outbreaks - especially those that happen as a result of great cultural and economic changes being enacted by a perceived elite. The last major populist movement in America was George Wallace’s candidacy in 1968 (to a much lesser extent in 1964 and 72) that saw the Alabama governor get an astonishing 13.5% of the vote and carry 5 states in the general election. Wallace tapped into the rage and fear being felt by white, working class men who felt threatened (thanks to Wallace’s sneering, bigoted rhetoric) by African American agitation for equality. Nixon and the GOP then mainstreamed the tactic albeit using much more subtle language and even Clinton got into the act with his famous “Sister Souljah Moment,” assuring whites he wouldn’t pander to black racists like Jesse Jackson (Clinton is the only Democrat since JFK to carry any states of the traditional “Deep South.).

Tapping in to the rage of taxpayers by exploiting their fears then, would almost certainly result in unanticipated problems for the GOP. But beyond that, is this the way the Republicans wish to return to power? The Rovian strategy of using wedge issues to cleave the electorate over gay marriage, abortion, and other social issues got Republicans elected but also sowed the seeds of their own destruction. By the time 2008 rolled around, those wedge issues had lost their potency and there was ample evidence of a backlash by center-right and center-left moderates against the GOP and their perceived intolerance. It was Obama who exploited this backlash by promising to govern based on not what divides us but by what unites us. His “post partisan” message - a campaign gimmick we know now - resonated powerfully with the center who had tired of the back biting and poisonous partisan atmosphere in Washington and longed for “change.”

There is only one campaign theme more powerful in American politics than fear; optimism. This is especially true in dire economic times or when America is threatened from abroad. Not only would running a campaign based on tapping into the native optimism of the people score political points with the electorate, it would give the GOP if not a mandate, then certainly the political clout to slow down the Obama Dependency Express and restore some sanity to our fiscal situation. It would also give the Republicans some leverage to moderate the Democrat’s bail out policies and give the party more input into legislation

What a marvelous opportunity for the GOP to show that they have indeed changed their tune if the party were to adopt an enthusiastically optimistic message while presenting viable solutions to our economic problems. With President Obama criss crossing the country trying to scare people into supporting him, the contrast between the GOP’s confident, optimistic agenda and the Democrats “America Held Hostage” policies would be pronounced. And, they would result in the kind of gains we can only dream of at this point.

But if the GOP were to descend to the Democrat’s level - scaring people by screaming about “socialism” and the attendant imagery of economic doom and gloom, the party may indeed make some gains but with what kind of mandate? And would it be as effective as preparing the people for tough choices by playing to their native optimism and saying that as Americans, we are capable of anything if we pull together? Coupled with some new ideas about targeted tax cuts and real “stimulus” spending instead of the porked up monstrosity offered by the Democrats, that rage could turn to optimism and hope which would attract a helluva lot more people than scare tactics.

Obama has ceded this territory to the Republicans. He has embarked on a course where in order to get his agenda passed, he will be forced to appeal to the basest instincts of the people. We are already seeing the result as it has pitted ordinary Americans who are resentful of where the bail out money has been going against other Americans who will be the beneficiaries of government largess. He may have underestimated the extent of this backlash although it remains to be seen if this rage can be channeled by Republicans into doing something constructive. For that, they simply cannot exploit the emotions of the day but must help make people feel good about themselves. Already, the feel-good aspect of the Obama candidacy - electing the first African American president - is fading. And as Obama’s policies to fundamentally alter the country become obvious, I suspect that feeling will disappear for all but the most committed Obamabots. The Republicans can reclaim the “feel-good” mantle by appealing to one of America’s greatest strengths; the ability of our citizens to look to the future with hope. Obama played to that strength during the campaign and is now abandoning it in favor of fear mongering. It’s s delicious political opening that the GOP ignores to its detriment.

Newly minted GOP chairman Steele is just the sort of person to lead a newly energized GOP into this fight. His ideas on reforming the party at the top to bring transparency and ethics to the fore as evidence that the Republicans have learned their lessons is a gigantic first step toward reviving the party’s fortunes. But if the GOP were to then simply fall back on failed strategies involving dividing the electorate, any good work accomplished by the chairman will probably go for naught. The party needs new ideas, new solutions that can be presented to the people as evidence that they have gotten beyond the past and are ready to lead the country to a bright future.

I must say that I am not optimistic that the GOP has learned such lessons. The temptation to exploit fear and anger is almost irresistable since it is the easy way back, a shortcut to where the party wants to be. The hard thing to do would be to eschew such tactics and be positive, optimistic, and forward looking while offering solutions that recognize how serious the trouble we are in but remaining true to our first principles and beliefs.

Then again, I may be pleasantly surprised…

By: Rick Moran at 9:30 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (37)

2/21/2009
THE SANTELLI RANT: A RED BULL RUSH

CNBC’s Rick Santelli hit a raw nerve with his rant against President Obama’s mortgage bailout plan on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade - a 10,000 volt charge of energy and anger that hit the internet with a force that transcended politics and spilled over into popular culture.

His words fell like a jackhammer on the hearts and souls of conservatives who had been struggling in recent weeks to define what was making them so uneasy about President Obama’s “savior based economy.” At stake; the soul of America - the very essence of what makes us different from other countries. Self reliance, personal responsibility, a belief that individuals count for more than the group, and a well developed sense of justice and fair play are being thrown under the bus. They are being tossed in favor of a bail out culture that spits on self reliance, sneers at personal responsibility, lumps Americans into manageable (and malleable) groups of victims, and penalizes those who play by the rules.

These are not the attributes that have animated the American heart since our founding. Rather, it is those cornerstone ideals mentioned above that make up the crux of what it means to be an American. And these values are under attack by a president who is using the economic crisis as an excuse to fundamentally alter the relationship between the governed and the governors - a change that the president never mentioned during his run for the presidency and is accomplishing by means of executive diktat and legislative fiat.

By destroying “American exceptionalism” - a concept that has come under increasing attack by the left over the years - the president, vigorously backed by his base of democratic socialists, is seeking to elevate the importance of government over the primacy of the individual - as clear a violation of the intent of the Constitution as anything President Bush ever did in the name of protecting us. The President may not be shredding the Constitution but he his tearing asunder the spirit of our founding document. What will be left after he is done will be a lifeless husk, a shadow of the way the Founders saw themselves and how we, the inheritors of their dreams, have betrayed their fundamental beliefs about man’s relationship to government.

President Obama apparently believes it is necessary to destroy who we are to save us. Most conservatives disagree. I don’t doubt the president has the best of intentions. Perhaps he even thinks that what he is proposing is not that radical, not so fundamentally abhorrent to I believe a majority of Americans. It is certain he thinks he is doing it for our own good.

But in his determination to solve our severe economic problems, he appears willing to seek solutions that undermine the fabric that sustained our ancestors through even tougher times than these. He is using a nuclear bomb where a scalpel is called for. And the question of whether there will be much of a patient left after he is done goes unanswered.

Mr. Santelli’s rant - a bracing, emotional explosion that elevated flagging spirits and galvanized the hearts of netwise conservatives - is a fine catalyst but to what end? A “tea party” is being planned for several cities on July 4 but realistically, can you say that this is the beginning of a mass movement to oppose the Obama Dependency? Frankly, I see no evidence that millions of people are moving in that direction. And by the time the 4th rolls around, how many who are so excited today will show up?

I don’t doubt the passion Mr. Santelli has generated among conservatives. I just doubt its staying power. To have any effect at all, millions must stand up and make their voices heard. So far, I don’t hear them. In fact, by large majorities, the American people are extremely uneasy about what Mr. Obama is doing but are either so in thrall to his personae or so frightened of losing their jobs that they are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Of course, the president stokes this fear at every opportunity - something about which even Bill Clinton is becoming concerned.

But we are seeing only the beginning of massive government intervention and takeover of the economy. What will the majority of people say when Treasury Secretary Geithner finally comes up with details of his plan for TARP II that may cost taxpayers more than a trillion dollars? or Stimulus, The Sequel? Or this mortgage bail out plan that currently stands at $75 billion but that some administration-friendly economists say could run closer to $200 billion? And don’t forget the health insurance plan that will almost certainly have a price tag in the hundreds of billions.

For each, there will be Obama out front, telling us we must have this spending plan or that bail out measure or all is lost. He will slam these bills through Congress in the first 6 months of his presidency because after that, even his own party will balk. By then, it will be way too late - the transformation of America will be complete and it will just be a matter of administering what America will have become; a series of dependent duchies with the federal government dictating the winners and losers in our economy while overseeing a massive transfer of wealth.

It can’t be stopped. Conservatives don’t have the votes. All we can do is rant like Mr. Santelli. But after the feel good rhetoric and the shot in the arm, we are left with a Red Bull rush - a splash of energy and excitement that will eventually fade and leave us feeling groggy and sluggish. Not for all of us, of course. But if conservatives are expecting to build mass opposition to the president using Mr. Santelli’s outburst, that would be wishful thinking indeed. Such a cause needs organization, volunteers, and most of all, money.

Michelle Malkin is trying and if anyone can keep the right at an emotional high, it’s her. But so much more is needed to make an impact that I fear even such noble efforts are a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

When ordinary Americans in their millions become involved, I will be glad to hop aboard the bandwagon and wave the bloody shirt from the battlements. Until then, I think I’m already crashing from my Santelli Energy Drink and feel like taking a nap.

UPDATE

Eeeesh - re-reading this piece, I see that it came out much more negatively than I was actually thinking. Sorry - don’t feel like a massive rewrite but allow me a few points that I should have made above.

1. It is early yet. Much of my negativity is based on the idea that I don’t see the kind of mass groundswell of support beyond the environs of the conservative internet (including social networking sites). I may yet be proved wrong if this is actually the beginnings of a mass movement against dependency.

2. One side benefit is that this will probably serve as a catalyst to organize the right side of the internet in ways that we can only guess at now. I would watch a couple of websites like The Next Right and Rebuild the Party to see how those very smart folks latch on and try and lead this movement.

3. It was not my intent to dampen spirits just as it was not my intent during the campaign when I wrote gloomy analyses of McCain’s chances to discourage anyone from voting. Those who will make the argument that I am trying to spoil the party should really grow up a little. I am a rationalist and am offering my opinion, seeing the situation with gimlet eyed reason and skepticism. I will be overjoyed if I am wrong. But dreaming of a mass movement and creating one out of nothing are two different propositions. We want our dreams to come true but there is a gargantuan amount of work to be done in order to realize that dream. It can’t be done in months. But it very well may bear fruit in 2010.

By: Rick Moran at 8:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (70)

2/20/2009
WHEN REALITY, INTENT, AND WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY DON’T MATTER
CATEGORY: History, Media, Politics

Remember the controversy in Washington a few years back when a white aide to Mayor Williams made the mistake of saying “niggardly” when talking about the amount of federal funds allocated for some program?

Do you remember how some racialists hit the ceiling and Williams was forced to fire his aide?

Washington, DC’s black Mayor, Anthony Williams, gladly accepted the resignation of his white staff member, David Howard, because Mr. Howard uttered the word ‘niggardly’ in a private staff meeting.

Webster’s Tenth Edition defines the word ‘niggardly’ to “grudgingly mean about spending or granting”.  The Barnhard Dictionary of Etymology traces the origins of ‘niggardly’ to the 1300’s, and to the words ‘nig’ and ‘ignon’, meaning “miser” in Middle English.  No where in any of these references is any mention of racial connotations associated with the word ‘niggardly’.

In other words, it’s a perfectly good and useful word.  But there is the unfortunate coincidence that it starts with the same four letters as the word “nigger”.  The news media are so loathe to use the “N” word, that they’ve been substituting the phrase “racial slur”, as in “…they mistook the word ‘niggardly’ for a racial slur…”

Washington, DC’s population is 60% black, and it’s citizens have been very critical of Mayor Williams for “not being black enough” — especially because he hired several well-qualified whites to help him run this troubled city.

It was a perfect example of political correctness in the media plus the conniving racial grievance mongers who knew full well that “niggardly” is a perfectly acceptable word, does not have anything to do with race, and the farthest thing from Mr. Howard’s mind when he uttered it was to make a racial slur.

Reality, intent, and Webster’s Dictionary matter little to the racialists. It is their mission in life to gin up outrage over anything that could possibly be construed as racist - even when it is clearly and definitively not.

For we are not talking about the redress of a grievances but rather the exercise of power - raw, in your face, power for power’s sake. When Al Sharpton announced that the New York Post cartoon depicting two white police officers who have just shot a chimp with the caption “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill” was worse than the “nappy headed ho” comment by Don Imus, you knew that the writing was on the wall and the New York Post was in trouble.

And, despite the fact that the cartoon had nothing to do with Obama (it referred to the recent story about a chimp that was shot dead by police after it mauled a woman), the racialists, and their white toadies who saw an opportunity to attack Post owner Rupert Murdoch, put the pedal to the metal and came out in full throated howls of outrage over this “slurring” of Obama.

Here’s the offending cartoon:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The chimp does not resemble the president which is the usual practice for racist cartoons. Besides, anyone with half a brain and who follows the news knows full well Obama did not write the bill. The cartoon refers to the fact that the chimp was mentally ill hence, the idea that the person (people) who wrote the stimulus bill - Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - should have their heads examined.

There were no lack of warnings before Obama was elected that this would be the tactic of the left to stifle dissent. I wrote at the time they would be crazy NOT to use the race card as early and often as they could. It is the most powerful political weapon the left and the Democrats have at their disposal and it is something their opponents cannot hope to counter or match.

It appears that the mostly white Huffington Post  got the ball rolling as their excellent but partisan political reporter Sam Stein wrote the initial article decrying the portrayal  of Obama in such a fashion. It was picked up by the netnuts and before you knew it, Al Sharpton was in front of the Post building carrying on about the “racial smear.”

It was all over cable news in a matter of hours. Condemnations emanated from the usual quarters in media and academia - all pretending that the cartoon was about Obama and not a crazy dead chimp who had mauled a woman.

The point had absolutely nothing to do with the cartoon but that opposition must be squashed and opponents of the administration intimidated. What surprised me is that it was done with Nazi-like efficiency. Old Joe Goebbels couldn’t have carried it off better.

Like a grotesque Kabuki dance where everyone knows their parts and what movements they should make, this self-orchestrated gaggle of left wing zealots appeared almost out of nowhere, all saying the same thing, all trying to shame the Post into a humiliating retraction. Today, they succeeded - to a certain extent:

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

The Post, I’m afraid, is dreaming. A cartoon will never be “just a cartoon” as long as there are dishonest, unscrupulous, greedy (donations to Sharpton’s personal piggy bank of an “activist group” probably surged so that the good Reverend will no doubt buy himself a couple of additional $3000 suits), and shameless partisans who will seek to use the excuse of President Obama’s race to invent, exaggerate, or or simply lie about any criticisms of the president they believe they can get away with employing the race card.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of Americans who don’t follow the news closely, they will more often than not be successful. The only way to stop this slide into authoritarianism is for the press to do its job and act as unbiased referee between those in power and those in opposition.

A vain hope given how in the tank the press is at this point for Obama.

By: Rick Moran at 10:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (27)

2/19/2009
THEY JUST CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES

This story is not news. It is not surprising in the least - to right or left. Nor is it indicative of anything we don’t already know about Congress as an institution and to a large degree, the elected members who fill out its ranks.

What is surprising is the size and scope of this developing scandal which has about 1/4 of the United States Congress dropping earmarks into a spending bill directed to the clients of one lobbying firm - a company already under investigation by the FBI for funnelling illegal campaign contributions to Pennsylvania congressman John Murtha (D).

CQ Politics has the details:

No matter what the outcome of the federal investigation, PMA’s earmark success illustrates how a well-connected lobbying firm operates on Capitol Hill. And earmark accountability rules imposed by the Democrats in 2007 make it possible to see how extensively PMA worked the Hill for its clients.

In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients, according to Congressional Quarterly’s analysis of a database constructed by Ashdown’s group.

Those House members, plus a handful of senators, combined to route nearly $300 million in public money to clients of PMA through that one law (PL 110-116).

And when the lawmakers were in need — as they all are to finance their campaigns — PMA came through for them.

According to CQ MoneyLine, the same House members who took responsibility for PMA’s earmarks in that spending bill have, since 2001, accepted a cumulative $1,815,138 in campaign contributions from PMA’s political action committee and employees of the firm.

It should be said up front that there is no evidence - yet - any of these members took illegal contribtions. They aren’t doing anything that almost everyone else is doing. Indeed, this kind of pay for play is rampant around the country from courthouses, to statehouses, to the White House. What it proves is that for all the “reform” that has supposedly taken place in Washington going all the way back to the 1970’s - “sunshine” laws, lobbying reform, campaign finance reform, limiting junkets, etc. - there is still the back room, the wink and a handshake over cocktails, the speech “honorariums” given by lobbying firms at events held in warm, exotic locations, and the whispered agreements outside the rooms where conference committees work to craft the laws of the land.

There is also nothing illegal about earmarks. As I have tried to explain before, one member’s “earmark” that wastes spending is another man’s necessity. Yes, there are bogus examples like the Bridge to Nowhere, and the post office named after the member built in a town of 10 people. No doubt there are roads to nowhere too. But getting rid of the practice would actually be detrimental. Many times, a Congressman will put an earmark in a spending bill because the federal agency being funded refuses to spend money on genuinely worthy projects. Here again, there is a perception gap; what might be a “worthy” project for one district might be seen by someone living in another as waste. The authors of the book “The Wrong Stuff: The Extraordinary Saga of Randy “Duke” Cunningham, The Most Corrupt Congressman Ever Caught” point this out in an excellent explanation of what earmarks are and why they are used:

In truth, there is nothing illegal about earmarks and, as the authors point out in a brilliant chapter on the practice, they can be used for good at times. As an example of earmarks being used for a beneficial purpose, a lone Texas Congressman steered billions of dollars to the Afghan resistance fighting Soviet occupation in the 1980’s. Said Representative Charlie Wilson (whose story was told in the hugely entertaining Charlie Wilson’s War) “There are three branches of the government and you have to explain that to the executive branch every once and a while and earmarks are the best way to do that.” Wilson believed that the Afghan resistance would never have triumphed without earmarks because the CIA would not have spent the money effectively.

Having said that, there is absolutely no doubt the process must be reformed - something the Democrats tried in 2007 but ended up doing a half assed job because their own members balked at reforms that would truly bite. There is a little more transparency but still no debate over measures that can be as expensive as a billion dollars. And then there is the impossible to police practice of members giving preferment to campaign contributors and well heeled lobbyists not to mention the whole, bloody practice has gone beyond reason, beyond necessity, and beyond belief:

Earmarks were a problem going back in the 1980’s. For example, the authors point to the 1987 Transportation bill vetoed by an astonished Ronald Reagan who counted no less than 121 earmarks in the bill. Both the House and Senate – Democrats and Republicans – shrugged off the Gipper’s disapproval and passed the bill over the President’s veto overwhelmingly. In 1991, the number of earmarks in the pork laden Transportation bill had grown to 538; 1850 by 1998; and by 2005 the total number of earmarks reached a mind numbing 6,373 costing an additional $24.2 billion. (Source: Taxpayers for Common Sense).

Newt Gingrich and the Republicans saw the earmark as a ticket to a permanent majority. The Republicans would place newer or more vulnerable members on one of the Appropriations Committees which would give them access to the lobbyists who, in exchange for an earmark, would fill their campaign coffers with cash as well as shower the member with gifts, junkets, and other goodies.

Earmarks were part of the so-called “K-Street Strategy” where lobbyists became enormously influential not only in re-electing Republicans but in crafting and critiquing legislation. It corrupted the Republican party and, with the Democrats having their own “K-Street” connections, has already corrupted them too.

Earmarks are a symptom. It is the whole rotten ediface of governance in America that is corrupt and I don’t know whether it’s because the people we elect are of a mean moral character or the system itself is just too much of a temptation for politicians to pass up the opportunity to enrich themselves. Probably both. Surely this is not the kind of government imagined by Madison. Even Hamilton might have raised an eyebrow at the excesses of self aggrandizing politicians who may come to Washington determined to resist the siren calls of lobbyists and their gift horses only to fall prey in the end to apathy or worse, the belief that “everybody does it” so why should I be a chump?

I have grown cynical since 1979 when I found myself in Washington as a 24 year old sprite, agog at the majesty and towering historical figures with whom I was rubbing shoulders. But the reverence I had for politicians and our system of government back then was misplaced. I see now that the stately buildings, the stirring rhetoric, the passion, the belief in ideas was a mirage, a beautiful facade behind which was the crumbling, rotten ruins of 200 years of hopes, aspirations and bloody sacrifce made irrelevant by hard-eyed, cynical men who exploited people like me and what I believed for their own gain. By the time I left Washington 6 years later, I had been disabused of my boyish naivete, having seen the grubby underside of politics and governing as well as the grasping, conniving nature of so many who weild power, ideally to benefit the people but instead, to protect and enrich a wealthy elite. The education of Rick Moran was complete.

And yet, my cynicism has always been tempered by the realization that they are, after all, human and that the fault was mine for placing they and the government of the nation I love on such a high pedestal. Today, I see things with a little harder edge to my observations. But I still believe that the men and women who represent us can do a much better job while maintaining their integrity. If they can’t help themselves, then laws and rules must be designed to lead them not into temptation - make it so hard for them to exploit their position for personal gain that they either keep their souls or go back to selling used cars or whatever activity their debauched character finds comfortable.

If they are going to act like kids in a candy store when they get to Washington, perhaps it’s time to start treating them like children who need to be constantly taught the right thing to do. It’s apparent that somewhere along the way, most Members of Congress forgot those basic lessons and need remedial instruction.

By: Rick Moran at 8:30 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (27)

2/18/2009
DID DEMOCRATS COVER UP BURRIS LIES TO GET STIM BILL PASSED?

My friend Tom Elia at the New Editor raised this question in an email and it bears looking into.

The fact is, if this mess with Burris had been made public back on February 5 when the Illinois senator submitted his “corrected” affadavit to the Democratic Majority Leader, there is a pretty good chance that the Illinois senator would not have been able to vote on the stimulus bill in the senate on the 13th.

Why? Because pressure would have been building - as it is now - for the “lying little sneak” to resign his seat. It seems surreal but Roland Burris has now changed his story about contacts with Governor Blagojevich’s henchmen about the senate seat at least 4 times - twice yesterday alone. If he had been forced to resign in a similar time period that is shaping up now, there would have been no 60th vote on the stimulus bill in the senate, no cloture, and the bill would have been sent back to conference.

So which Democrats knew of this affidavit and why wasn’t it made public immediately? Burris says he sent the affidavit to the chairman of the impeachment committee who then promptly sat on it until the Chicago Sun Times got wind of the story at which point Burris himself gave it to the newspaper. The committee chairman was Barbara Flynn Currie, House Majority Leader.

Barbara Flynn Currie has represented the 25th Congressional district in the Illinois House since 1979. That district includes Hyde Park - former home for many years of President Barack Obama.

Just sayin’.

So what does Rep. Currie say about the affadavit? Not much:

Currie acknowledged receiving Burris’ letter but said she was unfamiliar with its contents.

After being read Burris’ account of his dealings with Robert Blagojevich, Currie said: “Very odd. I don’t know there is anything actionable here, but I would like to check the record.”

“Unfamiliar with its contents?” And we’re expected to believe that the second ranking Democrat in the Illinois House never opened a letter from the junior senator from her state, that there was no cover letter explaining what was inside, and that Burris’s lawyer had not contacted Currie’s office to see what she was going to do?

The chances that there were other Democrats - local and national - who knew of this “corrected” affidavit and what was in it would seem to be pretty good. What would be your first move as a state party leader if you discovered that your junior senator was basically a liar? Or, even putting the best face on it, was going to be involved in a huge political firestorm as a result of a convenient memory loss?

I would think a call to Illinois’ senior senator Dick Durbin might be in order, don’t you? Durbin, the #2 Democrat in the senate, just might have mentioned it in passing to Harry Reid, wouldn’t you think?

Speculation, yes. And logical? You decide.

The point being, Democrats were willing to sit on this story until the stimulus vote was safely passed. The vote in the senate was Friday the 13th and the Sun Times story appeared the next day. But what if the story had broken on February 6th, the day after Burris says he gave the letter to Currie? The story would have been vying with the stim bill for attention and the calls now emanating from Republican quarters in Illinois for Burris to step down would have been huge news. Who knows what national Republicans would have done? They very well may have demanded Burris recuse himself from voting until the matter was cleared up - a perfectly reasonable request. If that had happened - or if Burris had been pressured to step down as he still may do - there would have been no 60th vote for cloture.

This would seem to be a very powerful incentive for Democrats to cover up Burris’s lies, keeping the country, the people of Illinois, and the opposition in the dark about a matter that, if known at the time of his confirmation by the senate, may have resulted in Burris being rejected.

So what to do with Burris? Here’s Harry Reid prior to Burris’s testimony before the impeachment hearing:

After days in which Senate leaders had demonstrated determined resistance to Burris’ appointment to the Senate by scandal-tainted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Reid praised Burris as “candid and forthright.” And he suggested the testimony Burris is to give Thursday before the state legislature’s impeachment committee could be crucial to his prospects of gaining the seat.

“He’s going to go answer any other questions they might have. He’s not trying to avoid any responsibility and trying to hide anything,” said Reid (D-Nev.) “Once that’s done, we’ll be in a different position and see what we are going to do.”

If that testimony - now under investigation for perjury - was “crucial to his prospects of gaining the seat” what say you now, Harry Reid? You have a sitting senator, appointed by a sleazy governor, who quite possibly perjured himself at a hearing you yourself deemed “crucial” to a decision on his fitness for office. Does the Democratic party stand for ethics and transparency? Did you know of Burris’s problems with the truth and sit on the story until after the stimulus bill was passed?

There are few in Illinois who believe Burris outside of the predictable support he is receiving from the African American community. The Chicago Tribune editorial board blog, Vox Pop, is calling on the senator to resign:

The hole just gets deeper and deeper, and Burris keeps digging. He has no credibility.

And many Democrats are losing theirs.

Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), who chaired the impeachment panel, sat on Burris’ amended testimony for more than a week.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed that no Senate appointment by the disgraced Rod Blagojevich would stand—until Blagojevich appointed Burris.

They told Burris to go to the impeachment committee and testify fully and truthfully. And he did not.

And now what? “He went before the state Legislature and he obviously convinced them, but we’ll have to see… I hope he didn’t try to avoid or mislead anyone…” Reid said Tuesday. Durbin is on an overseas trip and hasn’t bothered to comment on the tomfoolery back home. Late Tuesday came word that the Senate Ethics Committee has started a preliminary inquiry.

Finally, remember that Illinois Democrats failed to do right by the people and schedule a special election for this Senate vacancy. If they had done that, voters today might be weighing the lost credibility of candidate Burris, instead of expressing their disgust with Senator Burris.

Disgraceful. Disgraceful all around.

There’s only one honorable action for Burris: resign.

Oh that this all would have been happening last week instead of this week. What might have been…

UPDATE

From commenter Aurelius:

Wasn’t the Senate cloture vote for the stimulus package 61-36 (http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/02/09/stimulus_vote/)? So even with Burris out or incapacitated the vote in favor presumably would be 60. That’s still meets the supermajority requirement. Say if Burris resigned and no one was appointed immediately. Then there would be two Senate seats vacant and the supermajority requirement would be reduced to 59 (3/5 of all senators). So Burris resigning even could be a strategy to pass the bill. The only argument that works is whether the problems with Burris make it politically dangerous for the majority party to press cloture and passage of the stimulus.

My response:

Ah - you are correct - I think. And thinking about it, if it was that desperate of a situation, they probably would have wheeled Ted Kennedy in to vote.

Still, when Reid found out about Burris’s lying - if he found out and I think it a good bet he did - the senate vote was in doubt. So the motivation to cover up still would have been there.

UPDATE II

Dan Riehl sends along this old Jim Lindgren post about House Majority Leader Currie. Lindgren is a constituent and thinks quite highly over her. Indeed, Currie has apparently marched to a reformist tune during her career.

But this is a partisan political matter. And, as Lindgren points out, Currie is actually friends with the president. It is not beyond imagining that Currie sat on Burris’s letter so as not to make any trouble for her friend’s efforts to get his stim bill through the senate. Nor is it impossible to imagine Currie ringing up Senator Durkin and relaying the contents of Burris’s “corrected” affidavit and warning of big trouble ahead.

Burris may or may not have affected the outcome of the vote if this scandal had broken a week earlier. But the very fact that the letter was kept quiet shows that the Democrats knew it contained political dynamite and that at the very least, it would have complicated matters in the senate. Reid had no idea when Burris handed in this letter if he had enough votes for cloture. Reason enough to cover up the truth from the people of Illinois and the GOP opposition.

By: Rick Moran at 8:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)