contact
Main
Contact Me

about
About RightWing NutHouse

Site Stats

blog radio

Listen to internet radio with RINO Hour of Power on Blog Talk Radio
Click Here to Pay Learn More

testimonials

"Brilliant"
(Romeo St. Martin of Politics Watch-Canada)

"The epitome of a blogging orgasm"
(Cao of Cao's Blog)

"Rick Moran is one of the finest essayists in the blogosphere. ‘Nuff said. "
(Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye)

archives
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004

search



blogroll

A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT
A Conservative Lesbian
ABBAGAV
ACE OF SPADES
ALPHA PATRIOT
AM I A PUNDIT NOW
AMERICAN FUTURE
AMERICAN THINKER
ANCHORESS
AND RIGHTLY SO
ANDREW OLMSTED
ANKLEBITING PUNDITS
AREOPAGITICA
ATLAS SHRUGS
BACKCOUNTRY CONSERVATIVE
BASIL’S BLOG
BEAUTIFUL ATROCITIES
BELGRAVIA DISPATCH
BELMONT CLUB
BETSY’S PAGE
Blacksmiths of Lebanon
Blogs of War
BLUEY BLOG
BRAINSTERS BLOG
BUZZ MACHINE
CANINE PUNDIT
CAO’S BLOG
CAPTAINS QUARTERS
CATHOUSE CHAT
CHRENKOFF
CINDY SHEEHAN WATCH
Classical Values
Cold Fury
COMPOSITE DRAWLINGS
CONSERVATHINK
CONSERVATIVE THINK
CONTENTIONS
DAVE’S NOT HERE
DEANS WORLD
DICK McMICHAEL
Diggers Realm
DR. SANITY
E-CLAIRE
EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!
ELECTRIC VENOM
ERIC’S GRUMBLES BEFORE THE GRAVE
ESOTERICALLY.NET
FAUSTA’S BLOG
FLIGHT PUNDIT
FOURTH RAIL
FRED FRY INTERNATIONAL
GALLEY SLAVES
GATES OF VIENNA
HEALING IRAQ
http://blogcritics.org/
HUGH HEWITT
IMAO
INDEPUNDIT
INSTAPUNDIT
IOWAHAWK
IRAQ THE MODEL
JACKSON’S JUNCTION
JO’S CAFE
JOUST THE FACTS
KING OF FOOLS
LASHAWN BARBER’S CORNER
LASSOO OF TRUTH
LIBERTARIAN LEANINGS
LITTLE GREEN FOOTBALLS
LITTLE MISS ATTILA
LIVE BREATHE AND DIE
LUCIANNE.COM
MAGGIE’S FARM
MEMENTO MORON
MESOPOTAMIAN
MICHELLE MALKIN
MIDWEST PROGNOSTICATOR
MODERATELY THINKING
MOTOWN BLOG
MY VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY
mypetjawa
NaderNow
Neocon News
NEW SISYPHUS
NEW WORLD MAN
North Star National
Northerncrown
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY
PATRIOTIC MOM
PATTERICO’S PONTIFICATIONS
POLIPUNDIT
Political Byline
POLITICAL MUSINGS
POLITICAL TEEN
POWERLINE
PRO CYNIC
PUBLIUS FORUM
QUESTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS
RACE42008
RADICAL CENTRIST
Ravenwood’s Universe
RELEASE THE HOUNDS
RIGHT FROM LEFT
RIGHT VOICES
RIGHT WING NEWS
RIGHTFAITH
RIGHTWINGSPARKLE
ROGER L. SIMON
SHRINKRAPPED
Six Meat Buffet
Slowplay.com
SOCAL PUNDIT
SOCRATIC RYTHM METHOD
STOUT REPUBLICAN
TERRORISM UNVEILED
TFS MAGNUM
THE ART OF THE BLOG
THE BELMONT CLUB
The Conservative Cat
THE DONEGAL EXPRESS
THE LIBERAL WRONG-WING
THE LLAMA BUTCHERS
THE MAD PIGEON
THE MODERATE VOICE
THE PATRIETTE
THE POLITBURO DIKTAT
THE PRYHILLS
THE RED AMERICA
THE RESPLENDENT MANGO
THE RICK MORAN SHOW
THE SMARTER COP
THE SOAPBOX
THE STRATA-SPHERE
THE STRONG CONSERVATIVE
THE SUNNYE SIDE
THE VIVID AIR
THOUGHTS ONLINE
TIM BLAIR
TRANSATLANTIC INTELLIGENCER
TRANSTERRESTRIAL MUSINGS
TYGRRRR EXPRESS
VARIFRANK
VIKING PUNDIT
VINCE AUT MORIRE
VODKAPUNDIT
WALLO WORLD
WIDE AWAKES
WIZBANG
WUZZADEM
ZERO POINT BLOG


recentposts


RINO Hour of Power: War Drums Beating in Washington

RINO Hour of Power: Surf’s Up! GOP Wave Building?

RINO Hour of Power: Political Potpourri

RINO Hour of Power: Is President Obama Checking Out of the Presidency?

RINO Hour of Power: Is There a Serious Case to be Made for Impeachment?

RINO Hour of Power: Border Crisis: US Sovereignty at Stake

RINO Hour of Power: Are Liberals Patriotic Too?

RINO Hour of Power: A Conversation with Dr. Victor Davis Hanson

RINO Hour of Power: The Bergdahl Swap: Detestably Necessary

RINO Hour of Power: Moran vs. Moran Redux: A conversationw ith my brother Terry Moran of ABC News

RHOP Relaunch: Moran vs. Moran: A conversation with my brother Terry Moran of ABC News

RINO Hour of Power: Putin’s Ukraine Fiasco

RINO Hour of Power: ‘Which side are you on boys, which side are you on’

RINO Hour of Power: Political Potpourri

RINO Hour of Power: Is the GOP Becoming Reasonable?

RINO Hour of Power: Alas, Obamacare

RINO Hour of Power: A Dismal State of the Union

RINO Hour of Power: A Look at the Electoral Map for 2016

RINO Hour of Power: The trillion dollar spending bill will test House Republican unity

The RINO Hour of Power: The Push for a Single Payer Health Insurance System

RINO Hour of Power: The Crumbling Edifice of the Mass Surveillance State

Boehner’s Outburst Fuels GOP Civil War

Obamacare and the Facilitation of Criminal Activity

RINO Hour of Power: Political Potpourri

RINO Hour of Power: The GOP’s Obamacare Conundrum


categories

"24" (117)
ABLE DANGER (10)
American Issues Project (11)
Arizona Massacre (5)
Bailout (32)
Bird Flu (5)
Birthers (16)
Blackhawks (2)
Blagojevich (9)
Blogging (404)
Books (10)
CARNIVAL OF THE CLUELESS (68)
Caucasus (1)
CHICAGO BEARS (40)
Chicago Bulls (3)
Chicago East (3)
CIA VS. THE WHITE HOUSE (29)
Cindy Sheehan (13)
Climate Change (3)
Climate Chnage (11)
conservative reform (96)
cotton candy conservatives (19)
CPAC Conference (12)
Culture (11)
Debt ceiling (2)
Decision '08 (402)
Decision 2010 (13)
Decision 2012 (34)
Deficit reduction (5)
Election '06 (9)
Entitlement Crisis (4)
Environment (15)
Ethics (290)
Fairness Doctrine (1)
Financial Crisis (53)
FRED! (28)
FrontPage.Com (79)
Frum Forum (2)
Gaza incident (1)
General (429)
GOP Reform (61)
Government (295)
health care reform (65)
History (298)
Homeland Security (18)
IMMIGRATION REFORM (28)
IMPEACHMENT (3)
Iran (114)
IRAQI RECONCILIATION (13)
Israel vs. Hamas (6)
KATRINA (29)
Katrina Timeline (5)
Lebanon (18)
Liberal Congress (12)
Manzine (1)
Marvin Moonbat (14)
Media (262)
Middle East (183)
Moonbats (81)
National Health Insurance (4)
NET NEUTRALITY (2)
Newsreal Blog (1)
Obama inauguration (2)
Obama-Rezko (15)
OBAMANIA! (80)
Oil Spill (2)
Olympics (6)
Open House (1)
Palin (23)
Pirates (1)
PJ Media (119)
PJ Tatler (5)
Politics (1271)
Presidential Debates (7)
Presidential Transition (9)
RINO Hour of Power (119)
RNC (2)
S-CHIP (3)
Sarah Palin (5)
Science (70)
Space (33)
Sports (18)
Star Trek (1)
SUPER BOWL (7)
Supreme Court (28)
Swine Flu (4)
Tea Parties (15)
Technology (5)
Tenth Amendment (3)
The Caucasus (1)
The Law (19)
The Long War (11)
The Rick Moran Show (306)
Too Big To Fail (8)
Torture (2)
UNITED NATIONS (22)
Walpin Scandal (2)
War on Terror (402)
WATCHER'S COUNCIL (117)
WHITE SOX (7)
Who is Mr. Hsu? (7)
Wide Awakes Radio (9)
WORLD CUP (11)
WORLD POLITICS (127)
WORLD SERIES (16)


meta

Admin Login
Register
Valid XHTML
XFN







credits


Design by:


Hosted by:


Powered by:
4/21/2009
THE RICK MORAN SHOW:: OBAMA AND CHAVEZ (UPDATE: SHOW CANCELED)

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 Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog, and Val Prieto and Henry Gomez of Babalu Blog. We’ll discuss Obama’s recent trip to the Latin American summit as well as future US policy in the region.

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

UPDATE: SHOW CANCELED

A thousand pardons, my friends. Due to technical problems, I was forced to cancel the show last night.

Massive, massive computer problems - took me a while to figure out because even the diagnostic tools weren’t working — but the camera I hooked up to my laptop (which I am now using as a platform for my monitor mouse and keyboard) disabled every single process and program! Have to call HP to get it straightened out.

To make matters worse, I only scheduled the show for 15 min!

Unbelievable.

By: Rick Moran at 4:28 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

WHY DO CONSERVATIVES SEE RED WHEN OBAMA TALKS GREEN?

I used to be as much of a frothing at the mouth, anti-EPA, anti-environmental regulation ideologue as the next fellow. Back in the early 1980’s when I was but a young buckaroo, I could rail against the anti-business, anti-free market bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency and the anti-people environmentalists with the best of them.

But at that time, one must recall that the Reagan administration represented the first push-back against some of the really silly and stupid — not to mention draconian and illiberal — regulations that had contributed to the decline of the steel and other industries as well as placing an unnecessary burden on farmers, ranchers, loggers, and other small businessmen who became targets of the regulators.

So what happened? I’d like to say I grew up and opened my eyes but that would presuppose that somewhere in my conservative soul I wasn’t concerned about the environment all along. Rather it was the gradual realization brought about by my own life experiences that the industrial age and free market capitalism had brought us wondrous riches and allowed for a lifestyle unknown anywhere else on the planet but that it had come at a cost. We have always known of this cost to the environment. Even in my dotage I can recall Lake Michigan beaches in Chicago being closed due to excess pollution, and a small stream near where I grew up becoming a frothing, foamy cesspool of smelly brown sludge from some business or other dumping waste upstream. Driving through Gary, Indiana in the 1960’s after spending 4 weeks in the pristine wilderness of northern Michigan made us all gag from the stench of the belching steel mills running 24 hours a day, turning white laundry a soft shade of brown on backyard clotheslines.

Knowing all this, I still resisted the idea that government could tell business what to do. I just never made the connection between pollution and the polluters until I had traveled enough and lived long enough to see the impact on ordinary people’s lives.

Later, it was concern about suburban sprawl that affected me directly and all the attendant environmental problems and quality of life issues that came with it. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that environmental protection was necessary and even desirable, and that only the federal government was a big enough entity to take on giant corporations and powerful interests who were acting in an irresponsible manner toward the natural world.

And therein lies the conservative dilemma about the environment and why, to this day, conservatives are uneasy about getting too excited about going “green.”

In a perfect world where the free market was truly “free,” environmental protection would be fairly easy. “You break it, you pay for it,” would be the sentence for polluters who damaged the air and water that Americans breathe and drink. There might even be incentives for business to be good stewards of the land. But that notion supposes that all businesses will act with some degree of responsibility toward the environment. History has proved otherwise which made federal intervention a necessity.

In the early days of the federal environmental movement, there was much support from more moderate Republicans for measures like the creation of the EPA, the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, and the original efforts to cut down on lead in gasoline emissions.

But when EPA regulations began to cut into profits and pose a burden on businesses large and small, conservatives saw an agency out of control and uncaring about economic growth. The fervent beliefs and self-righteousness of environmentalists didn’t help matters either. In the end, it was enough to simply oppose anything the EPA tried to do, branding it as government overreach and injurious to wealth creation.

This view became even more pronounced during the 1990’s as the Global Warming debate heated up. As climate change advocates became more and more accusatory of skeptics, conservatives recoiled from what they saw as the almost religious nature of AGW beliefs. Kyoto, a treaty so obviously flawed that the senate wouldn’t even consider it, proved to conservatives that the global warming argument was less about climate change and more about massive transfers of wealth from rich nations to poor.

But why should conservatives look upon environmental issues in such a way? Environmentalism was invented by a “progressive” conservative, Teddy Roosevelt. TR was in love with nature — especially that part of which he could shoot — but he also realized that unless action was taken, some future generation of Americans would lose the legacy of our wilderness. The almost incomprehensible vastness of the land is one of the things that makes us an exceptional nation and TR saw a day when almost all the empty spaces would be filled up. Thus was born the conservation movement by government (it had existed for 50 years previous to that as private citizens bought up more than 20 million acres to save the wilderness).

What happened to that legacy? Post World War II conservatism became entranced and then captured by the idea that untrammeled growth and unregulated free markets was the ticket to paradise. Somehow, the notion that bigger was better married with a semi-religious belief in corporatism to unbalance the traditional conservative belief in “conserving” the past. When the reality of choking smog and filthy rivers became an issue, conservatives balked, believing it was a “cost of economic growth” or more incoherently, a question of “keeping the government out of the business of business.”

That view held by many conservatives has matured since the 1960’s but not by much. Conservatives are still apt to make fun of “tree huggers” and others who go overboard in professing their love of nature while believing that global warming is a “hoax”. In this, the right has been content to allow the left to claim the mantle of “Protectors of the Earth” despite the fact that there are few issues that are more conservative than conservation.

Conservative thinkers for the last century have embraced conservation and environmentalism as a natural outgrowth of one of conservatism’s most cherished principles. Political theorist Russell Kirk:

“True conformity to the dictates of nature requires reverence for the past and solicitude for the future. ‘Nature’ is not simply the sensation of the passing moment; it is eternal, though we evanescent men experience only a fragment of it. We have no right to imperil the happiness of posterity by impudently tinkering with the heritage of humanity.”

The “heritage of humanity, or as he put it later in life, the “concept of society as joined in perpetuity by a moral bond among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born—the community of souls. . . .”

Prudence, piety, a regard for the world around us and the people in it; you can’t get much more conservative than that. We see this ideal slowly being resurrected among younger conservatives especially. Perhaps the last two decades of materialism and the celebration of capitalism has affected younger conservatives who seek more meaning in their lives. This is part of the crunchy-con beliefs of Ron Dreher and embodied politically by Mike Huckabee. Environmentalism to some younger righties is very much a concern that is tied into an overall critique of American capitalism.

Kirk decisively rejects the “practical conservatism [which has] degenerated into mere laudation of ‘private enterprise,’ economic policy almost wholly surrendered to special interests.”28 He “Indignantly denie[s] . . . that his conservatism could or should be identified with businessmen.”29 Other leading traditionalists concur. Peter Viereck admonishes conservatives to “conserve the humane and ethical values of the West rather than the economic privileges of a fraction of the West.”30 Stephen Tonsor contends that the traditionalist conservatives “are not now, nor will they be, identified with the American business community. They are clearly identified with natural law philosophy and revealed religion.”

From a traditionalist perspective, just as we have inherited our culture and must preserve it for future generations, so have we inherited this earth, and we have to take proper care of it as good stewards. As Margaret Thatcher stated when she announced her conversion to environmentalism, “No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy—with a full repairing lease.” The principle of stewardship, and consequently of “sustainable development,” should lead conservatives to accept their duty to design our economy so that we produce our goods in a way that does not impair the planet’s ability to provide for future generations.

The question, then, of why conservatives have abandoned environmentalism and ceded the issue to the left is more political than philosophical. The rationale has always been there. It’s just that in the heat of political combat — and thanks to a Republican party that would rather be in bed with the polluters than regulate them — conservatives have ultimately taken the position that whatever the liberals want to do with regard to the environment is wrong and must be opposed as a matter of principle.

I would say to my friends on the right that we’re missing the boat when it comes to the environment. President Obama’s top down solutions will be costly, inefficient, and in the end, won’t work very well. The liberals have left a huge political hole that conservatives could drive a truck through if they would begin to think more than superficially about how to protect the earth. Obama wishes to mandate which technologies will win out in the competition to develop alternative energies, reduce carbon emissions, and develop clean coal plants. One wonders what kind of mandates the government will force on auto manufacturers to develop “green” cars now that they have The Big Three by the short hairs. And cap and trade may prove to be one of the biggest boondoggles in the history of government - without reducing carbon emissions by one molecule.

But does that mean that these goals are unworthy? Or is it that the “solutions” are wrongheaded? Being dismissive of global warming is one thing; not promoting the idea of reducing carbon emissions is quite another. There are good reasons beyond “saving the earth” from what may be catastrophic climate change to reduce our carbon output. First of all, there’s a chance that ruinous changes in climate might actually occur unless we do something. The problem is that global warming has partnered so many odious ideologies and movements that the “solutions” being offered are thinly disguised power and wealth grabs by the United Nations, anti-globalists, anti-capitalists, radical environmentalists who put nature above human beings, and “sustainable development” freaks who actually wish to rid the world of 80% of its human population.

Making the reduction in carbon emissions a goal in and of itself would make more sense. Lessening our carbon footprint saves energy and helps us along the road to energy independence - a worthy goal all by itself. And devising laws and regulations that maximize market input into what kind of technologies will win out to help with the development of new, cleaner systems (and old ones like fast-tracking new nuclear power plants).

Resistance by conservatives to the idea of “going green” is, in the end, self defeating. Issues such as what is happening to our forests and national parks where over logging has denuded the land of millions of acres of trees (at bargain basement prices), as well as the systematic plunder of western lands where companies have purchased mineral rights for a song while reaming the taxpayer thanks to the stupidity of Congress and bureaucrats should be cause for reproachment of the Democrats by conservatives and not a reason to brand those who advocate protecting these resouces as kooks.

This state of affairs should rend the soul of any good conservative who agrees with Kirk that we are not leaving a decent “heritage to humanity” by our silence and non-engagement on environmental issues. If we continue to allow Democrats the run of the house and not challenge them with good, solid, conservative alternatives to their collectivist notions of paternalism and government control, we will be missing a huge opportunity.

By: Rick Moran at 8:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (30)

4/20/2009
NOT A MISPRINT: OBAMA SEEKS CUTS OF 100 MILLION TO CURB DEFICIT

If this were April 1, I might be inclined to think it a media joke. Or that the White House press office is pulling our leg.

But it is not and it makes me worry for the sanity of President Obama that he could actually believe that cutting  1/3,700 of the federal budget will make a dent in the $1.75 (at least) TRILLION debt he’s running up this year.

And the way the Obamapress is reporting this is hysterically funny - as if he is actually trying to cut the deficit. Here’s one of the major Obama rags in the country, the LA Times:

President Obama, whose healthcare and economic stimulus initiatives threaten to dramatically inflate the federal budget deficit, heralded a new push Saturday to cut wasteful spending in Washington.The president said that in coming weeks he would announce the elimination of “dozens of government programs.” And he said he would ask his Cabinet secretaries on Monday for specific proposals to slash their departments’ budgets, promising there would be “no sacred cows and no pet projects.”

The president singled out a move by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to end consulting contracts to create seals and logos that he said had cost the department $3 million since 2003.

In case you are unaware, it wouldn’t surprise me if DHS spends $3 million on exercise bikes for higher grade bureaucrats. They may spend that much on Kleenex for DHS offices. Hell, they might spend $3 mill on Napolitano’s dog biscuits - for her dog, of course.

And by the way, just what the hell was DHS doing spending millions of dollars on logos anyway? I know everyone in America wants a DHS T-shirt ’cause they’re so kewl but can’t they settle for a coffee mug with the Homeland Security seal on it?

Economist Greg Mankiw can’t believe it either:

To put those numbers in perspective, imagine that the head of a household with annual spending of $100,000 called everyone in the family together to deal with a $34,000 budget shortfall. How much would he or she announce that spending had be cut? By $3 over the course of the year–approximately the cost of one latte at Starbucks. The other $33,997? We can put that on the family credit card and worry about it next year.

Is the president that out of touch that he doesn’t know there are far riper trees to prune if he wants to go after government waste? The Pentagon always has a lot of bloat as do entitlement programs. Don’t need a pair of pruning shears there, an ax will do just fine. Just keep hacking away until someone starts screaming - and then hack some more.

And aren’t you proud of our president who is seeking to eliminate “dozens of programs” from the budget?  There may be thousands of programs that could safely be eliminated from corporate welfare to to some of the grants that are going to groups like ACORN, Operation PUSH, and other stick-up operations. Either Obama doesn’t have much of an imagination or he is making all the jokes about liberals never being able to cut the budget for fear of offending an interest group. To be sure, the American Society of Logo and Seal Designers will no doubt be up in arms over the DHS cuts. But then, they didn’t contribute to his campaign so Obama could care less what they think.

Energy, Transportation, HHS, Commerce, Education - the whole jiggling, fat laden, porky pig of a budget could stand a once over by those Department secretaries. Instead, what will be cut won’t even count as being superficial. More like a bad PR joke or Obama’s idea of responsible government - which, when you think about it, is pretty much the same thing.

Talking trillions and cutting billions would at least be in the ballpark. But saving $100 million dollars out of a budget of $3.6 trillion is a slap in the face to the taxpayer - a cynical public relations blitz. I hope it is not indicative of the way the president will approach deficit cutting in the future.

At the rate he’s going, the sun will burn out before the deficit is reduced to a manageable level.

By: Rick Moran at 11:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (50)

INDEFENSIBLE: OBAMA FAILS HIS FIRST BIG TEST

Our founders were very suspicious of the presidency. There were many who believed - Thomas Jefferson among them - that all that was needed to govern a free country was a Congress elected by the people at suitably short intervals so that if a representative proved untrustworthy or unresponsive, the people could put someone else in his stead. Many of Jefferson’s ilk saw the presidency as an invitation to monarchy. And the very idea of a Supreme Court who might be able to overturn laws passed by Congress gave the Jeffersonians the vapors.

Thankfully for history’s sake, a more realistic and hard-headed approach to designing a system of government for the United States prevailed in Philadelphia during that God-awful hot summer of 1787. As the delegates sweated through the debates over big state-small state issues, it became clear that there should be some kind of federal office charged with making sure the laws were “faithfully executed.” Not a king or emperor supreme to Congress but an executive who would enforce the laws passed by the legislature as well as act as a representative of American sovereignty as Head of State and Commander in Chief of the military.

Several plans regarding the executive were presented and tossed aside including an idea to make the president little more than errand boy for Congress. Clearly, there were grave misgivings about granting a single individual so much power in a republic.

What turned the tide toward a strong executive branch was the certainty that George Washington would be our first president. While debating the limits and scope of the presidency, delegates would glance at Washington and be reassured that the office would start out in good hands at least. They knew that Washington would defend the United States with honor - something he did several times during his two terms when he responded to various calumnies advanced by the French who accused the US of favoring Great Britain in their war against Napoleon.

The Founders imbued the office of President with a dignity that few presidents have besmirched in our history. We have endured fools, knaves, stumblebums, party hacks, and political generals. But each of them tried honestly to defend the United States when she was attacked.

The president is ultimately responsible for the maintenance of American honor. And defending that honor is perhaps the greatest privilege - and challenge - of the office.

President Barack Obama either doesn’t understand this aspect of the presidency or, just as likely, doesn’t believe that safeguarding American honor is his job. Or even that it is worth his time.This became apparent as a result of what happened at the Summit of the Americas that the president is attending along with the heads of state from most of Latin America.

Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista Marxist thug who is currently President of Nicaragua, used his opening remarks at the summit to skewer the United States in a rant that lasted more than 50 minutes. The dripping irony of this communist lout decrying the actions of America over the last century (and longer) is a titanic joke. Ortega’s actions in support of the Communist guerrillas in El Salvador as well as his attempts to undermine governments elsewhere in Latin America during his first term as “president” back in the 1980’s makes anything he says regarding American interference ring hollow.

Ortega and the Sandinistas, along with a coalition of middle class and small businessmen deposed Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979. The first thing the Sandinistas did - as any good little Communist would do - was to kick out the more moderate political partners who played a big role in the largely bloodless revolution, jailing some, and establishing a Marxist dictatorship. No other political parties were allowed to operate freely. Their rallies were broken up by black shirted thugs. They were denied air time on government controlled TV. Opposition leaders were routinely arrested, harassed, and beaten.

Almost immediately, he was opposed by former National Guard members who began an armed revolution that eventually - with the help of the US - forced Ortega to hold elections in 1990. Every lefty in America worth their salt traveled to Nicaragua to help Danny Ortega defeat the evil designs of the Americans. Ortega did his part by trying even harder to suppress the opposition, using his bully boys to intimidate and beat down - literally and figuratively - his opponents, led by Violetta Chamorro, publisher of La Prensa and leader of the National Opposition Union.

In the end, when given the choice between freedom and Communist tyranny, the people chose Chamorro. But before Ortega left office, he had his Sandanista legislature pass a law granting he and several of his cronies deeds to vast estates that were confiscated during his presidency. The theft made him fabulously wealthy.

In the intervening years he ran for the presidency twice and lost badly. Then, in 1998, his daughter shocked the world when she accused her father of sexually abusing her from the time she was 11 until 1990. Denied the opportunity to prove her case in Nicaragua, she took it to the Inter American Human Rights Commission which ruled the charges admissible. A settlement was reached with the government but Ortega’s daughter has never recanted the charges.

This is the man who stood in front of our president and railed against American interference in Latin America. Fond of pointing out American hypocrisy, our friends on the left are silent about both the Ortega diatribe and Obama’s “Grip and Grin” with that other paragon of democratic virtue and non-interference, Hugo Chavez. Instead, they have chosen to attack conservatives who are criticizing Obama for his being a bump on a log while Ortega skewers the country he supposedly leads and Chavez presents him with a book that is such a laughably, over the top, exaggerated, Marxist critique of American policy in the region that one wonders what planet it fell from. The author himself, Eduardo Galeano, admits he is not an historian nor does he write history but rather a combination of “fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history.”

I will be the first to admit that the United States has behaved very badly in Latin America over the years; there has been resource grabbing, commercial exploitation, support for thugs like Somoza, and CIA shenanigans in countries too numerous to count. Most of our military interventions were to keep pro-American governments in power or help stamp out leftist guerrillas. Some of our interventions were to prevent the expropriation of American companies so that commercial monopolies could be maintained. There’s worse and it’s all true.

What is also true is that for the last few decades, no nation has done more for Latin American democracy than the United States - and that includes leftists in Latin America who prove that when they get a chance to lead are as brutal and thuggish as any right wing dictator who ever ruled in the region. Galeano apparently has the honesty at least to point out that Latin America’s problems are largely the result of their own making - their own view of themselves.

Of course, he also makes it clear that Euro-American “colonialism” is the major cause of this but there is something more fundamental at work. Very few Latin American countries have established the rule of law as a basis for governance. This is not the fault of colonialism, or America, or the CIA but rather the fault of the people themselves. It is not blaming the victim to point out the numerous opportunities that Latin American nations have had to rectify this situation and have chosen instead the path of corruption, oppression, and tyranny. The ruling class in most Latin American countries is besotted with crony capitalists, confiscatory leftists, and ambitious generals. And it’s time to stop blaming America, colonialism, the CIA, United Fruit, and all the other scapegoats presented to their long suffering citizens as excuses for their poverty and hopelessness and place the blame where it belongs; in the face looking back at them in the mirror.

Ortega presented the classic Latin American leftist case for why when they get in power, they muck things up so badly and continue the cycle of extreme poverty; it’s America’s fault:

Ortega, meanwhile, droned on about the offenses of the past, dredging up U.S. support of the Somoza regime and the “illegal” war against the Sandinista regime he once led by U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s. Ortega was a member of the revolutionary junta that drove Anastasio Somoza from power in 1979 and was elected president in 1985. He was defeated in 1990 by Violeta Chamorro and ran unsuccessfully twice for the presidency before winning in 2006.

Of the 19th and 20th centuries, Ortega said: “Nicaragua central America, we haven’t been shaken since the past century by what have been the expansionist policies, war policies, that even led us in the 1850s, 1855, 1856 to bring Central American people together. We united, with Costa Ricans, with people from Honduras, the people from Guatemala, El Salvador. We all got together, united so we could defeat the expansionist policy of the United States. And after that, after interventions that extended since 1912, all the way up to 1932 and that left, as a result the imposition of that tyranny of the Samoas. Armed, funded, defended by the American leaders.”

Ortega denounced the U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro’s new Communist government in Cuba in 1961, a history of US racism and what he called suffocating U.S. economic policies in the region.

Ortega droned on for the better part of an hour and what was our president doing while a tin pot thug was running down his country, spreading exaggerated claims and outright lies?

Obama sat mostly unmoved during the speech but at times jotted notes.

He could have gotten up and walked out. That would have been the headline for the day as well as being the right thing to do. There should be a limit in the international arena of how much calumny can be heaped upon your country before honor requires a president to remove himself in protest. We can take a little intelligent criticism. But when the United States is savagely attacked, its honor impugned by a lying, child molesting, thieving, hypocritical Marxist gangster, I question the president’s judgment in sitting there and calmly “taking notes.”

Later, the president failed again to defend the United States when he gave a milquetoast response:

“To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. We’ve all heard these arguments before.”

Has a president ever tried to distance themselves from the history of their own country in such a shocking and narcissistic way? Obama makes absolutely no attempt to answer Ortega or call him the liar that he is. Instead, he shows incredible weakness by, in effect, validating Ortega’s critique while attempting to wash his hands of the history of his own country.

But this is patriotic, of course as I have written about before. Recognizing the faults of America, trying to outdo our foreign critics in trashing one’s own country is leftist dogma. I don’t doubt the president’s patriotism (according to his lights) nor do I mind Obama going around the world apologizing for what he perceives are our mistakes. I expect no better from a liberal. But this is different. The honor of the United States demanded a ringing defense of the many good things we have done and are doing for Latin America. The scales may not balance but to quit the ring without throwing a punch smacks of either cowardice or ignorance.

Obama is no longer a leftist senator projecting his ideological slant and accepting criticism of the US from foreigners as just and necessary. He is now head of state and thus charged with defending the US from attacks like Ortega’s. Someone has to stand up for the United States in forums like the summit. In this, the president has failed his first big test as chief executive. The State Department can’t be counted on to defend America from such attacks (Secretary Clinton wouldn’t even talk about the Ortega rant.) Only one person is charged by history and tradition to call out the lying thugs who besmirch the name of the US and thus, deliver a slap in the face not just to the government but the people of America as well.

The president’s meek acceptance of Ortega’s largely unjustified criticism may play well among his ideological soul mates but for the rest of us, it causes one to wonder if there is any calumny, any lie, any exaggerated falsehood that Obama would balk at accepting.

Judging by what happened at the summit, I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you.

UPDATE

Most of my critics so far think it childish or just not a good idea for Obama to have walked out on Ortega when he was railing against America.

Here are some folks who walked out on Ahmadinejad at Durban II in Geneva when he went into his anti-Israeli speil.

And it wasn’t even their country the Evil Elf was ranting against.

By: Rick Moran at 7:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (47)

4/18/2009
THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR GAY MARRIAGE
CATEGORY: Ethics, Politics

I don’t care about gay marriage as a political issue. If I had my druthers, it would have the same importance as one’s position on whether to make tomorrow “National Convenience Store Clerk Day.” No doubt Hallmark will have a card for it if it comes to pass.

It may have been efficacious to defend “traditional marriage” 40 years ago but I don’t see the point today. You see, I live in sin with my Zsu-Zsu and neither one of us cares who knows it or what they think about it. Cohabitation destroyed “traditional marriage” long before gay marriage even became an issue. There is no stigma attached to living together in an unmarried state. Indeed, very few people care — and if you do, go to hell. To make it your business — to judge me on how I live my life is about as intrusive as anyone can get. Needless to say, the thought of government having a say in whether we can cohabitate should be as abhorrent to a conservative as any other government intervention in our private lives.

Given that my lover and I have been together longer than many marriages last, one is tempted to ask if marriage as the “foundation of community and society” can even claim that mantle any longer. And don’t talk to me about “the children.” The number of divorces every year of marriages with children (more than a million kids a year) speaks to the seriousness American adults take the important task of raising children in a stable, loving home. “Blended families” are the norm not the exception. More than half the kids born today will grow up in a home where the parents get at least one divorce.

Of course, there are legal issues regarding marriage vs. cohabitation but even those are fast disappearing. Partner rights have been granted for everything from hospital visits to legal wills in most states. Many states extend those legal benefits to gay couples. American society is changing and the question confronting conservatives is do we live in the past, hoping that the Ozzie and Harriet marriage template makes a comeback or do we face the future and try and “conserve” the good that comes from the traditional family structure while trying to protect children from the often deleterious effects of marital strife and break ups?

A tall order, that. But first things first and that means accepting the fact that American society has moved on — culturally as well as legally — from traditionally defined “marriage” and has embraced different ways people choose to live and love. If you choose marriage as a life long commitment, more power to you. That is your choice and in all sincerity, I wish you the best of luck and a long, loving partnership. I, and most others, envy you your commitment and desire to beat the odds.

That’s because at bottom, when you take away all the legalisms, the moral quotient, the religious implications, and the needs of society, what we are left with is nothing more than how people choose to define their relationships where they feel love for another human being. To many, it is important to them in a religious sense that this relationship be a lifelong marriage/partnership with children as a symbol of their love and commitment to one another. This is one legitimate choice. It will always be a choice and it is hard to see how anything - even allowing gay marriage - will take that choice away from you or even invalidate that choice in the eyes of society.

I have heard no argument compelling enough or logical enough that would cause me to fear for the future of “traditional marriage” if that is what people choose as a way to express their love and commitment to one another. The secular conservative case against gay marriage is sometimes based on the notion that marriage as a civil compact is an expression of the importance that society places on the nuclear family and as a practical matter, encourages procreation so that society can survive. Introducing gay marriage undermines this goal and places society’s imprimatur on unions that have no hope of conception and therefore, can actually be considered a threat.

This case is buttressed by statistics that show that children who grow up in a family with two parents - male and female - are better adjusted, are better able to form stable relationships, and are less likely to get divorced as adults among other findings. No one can ever make the argument that children are not better off living in stable, loving families.

A hundred years ago when traditional marriage and child bearing was vital to the continuation of society due to shorter life spans and much higher rates of infant mortality, such an argument made sense. But since this is no longer the case, most objections to gay marriage today center on religious strictures against it - and gays as human beings. Without seeking to alter anyone’s religious beliefs, it needs to be said that the noxious, unconservative idea that religion should be a determining factor in whether American society accepts gay marriage must be abandoned while, at the same time, recognizing that traditional marriage be celebrated and even promoted as the best option. The two goals are not at all incompatible if you believe the only important thing is that two people love each other.

There is no delegitimizing love be it between a man and a woman or two members of the same sex. The same electro-chemical reactions in the brain that cause sparks to fly between a man and a woman also affect same sex couples. The same stages of love experienced by heterosexual couples are also felt by gay partners. Love is love in any context and only man in his ignorance defines the emotion felt by gay couples as “illegitimate.” Why that has been accepted by conservatives as a reason to oppose the idea that two members of the same sex who love each other should be legally kept apart is beyond me. You can disapprove of gays and gay marriage out of religious conviction or personal prejudice but it is decidedly unconservative to force the rest of us to agree with you by preventing the union of gay couples.

Approving gay marriage will not mean that evangelical ministers will be forced to perform gay weddings. Nor will it mean that government will “promote” gay marriage any more than it “promotes” something by allowing it. Many Christian denominations as well as most other creeds will most likely not change their views on marrying gays. Some will, but then, that would be their choice, wouldn’t it?

And that’s what this debate is all about — and why conservatives should continue to fight liberal efforts to short circuit the legislative process and win the gay marriage fight in the courts. If ever there was an issue to be decided by the people, a fundamental change in society like allowing gay marriage is it. If the people choose to allow gay marriage or gay civil unions, they can speak through their elected state representatives. This is an issue that all of us - gay and straight - should have a voice in deciding.

I haven’t mentioned the political aspects of gay marriage and how it has somehow been tied to conservative attitudes toward gays in general. I know many conservatives who could care less about the personal life choices of someone else but are strongly opposed to gay marriage for religious reasons. Is there a way to separate the idea that one can be tolerant of another’s lifestyle while opposing what I admit is a radical change in the concept of marriage? Not as long as it is politically convenient for the opposition to paint gay marriage opponents as anti-gay bigots. As Marc Ambinder reminds us, this is a huge problem for Republicans despite a growing intraparty split on the issue:

I don’t think the modern Republican Party, which relies heavily on the foundational force of Christian conservatism, can shift its position on gay rights without severe penalties. I know that there are many Republicans who support gay rights, and that most members of the Republican elite are pro-gay, and that the business wing of the party could care less about the issue. I know that suburbanites are turned off by conservative intolerance of homosexuality and gay rights. I know that younger Republicans tend to be pro-gay and are alienated from the rest of the party. But I also know that the possibility that the Republican coalition will find some way to organize itself without social conservatives is a ways of a way off.

I am not recommending that social cons be drummed out of the party nor am I saying that the GOP should change its position on the issue. I don’t see the harm in de-emphasizing all social issues and bringing to the fore economic and foreign policy issues where our differrences with Obama and the Democrats are just as broad and just as deep. But opposing gay marriage on religious grounds is a loser both philosophically in that it is a non-conservative position to hold and politically. Believing that you are defending “traditional marriage” doesn’t pass muster either — not when half the country ends up in non-traditional relationships which, by definition, normalizes those practices. In effect, by arguing that it is “saving” traditional marriage by railing against alternative lifestyles, you are only marginalizing yourself, isolating the movement and the party from the rest of the country.

Gay unions will eventually be established as legal in most of America — hopefully by state legislatures and not the courts. I believe conservatives can embrace this change as part of the natural evolution in society and the simple recognition that denying two people in love the legal and cultural benefits that come with being married simply because they are of the same sex is wrong.

By: Rick Moran at 9:16 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (80)

4/17/2009
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

I was a johnny-come-lately to the idea that the severe interrogation techniques being employed against some prisoners held by the US crossed the line of legality and constituted illegal torture. Chalk it up to excessive partisanship. Or ignorance. Or perhaps fear of going against the grain of conservative opinion in the blogosphere.

The fact is, for more than a year after I began blogging, I either excused or ignored evidence that proved the Bush Administration was guilty of sacrificing our most cherished values in order to protect us. It wasn’t until early November of 2005 that I offered a somewhat rambling discourse on why torturing prisoners besmirched our nation’s good name and made the Bush Administration complicit in violations of American and international law. Despite being troubled by the evidence previous to that, I said nothing, wrote nothing, except the usual talking points still found, it pains me to say, in most conservative and Republican internet salons today.

What changed my mind? I tried to reconstruct my thought process by going through my archives and it turns out that there were two people whose writing finally opened my eyes to the illegalities being practiced by the Bush Administration - two writers who I rarely read today for reasons not related to the torture issues but who I must give credit for forcing me to look at the horror and reach the same conclusion they had; John Cole and Andrew Sullivan.

To those who are now nodding their heads with a knowing smirk on their face I will only say this; outright dismissal of views based solely on a writer’s ideological or even political leanings is the mark of the incurious and the ignorant. A grain of salt or two is helpful to be sure. Skepticism, the philosopher/educator Thomas Dewey remarked, is “the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” And I am no doubt as guilty as the next blogger of being too quick with the snark when it comes to evaluating the case being made by an ideological opponent rather than using reason and logic to demolish an odious point of view.

Be that as it may, those two gentlemen’s writings were seminal in changing my opinion about what the Bush Administration was doing in our name. The fact that they believed sincerely they were doing it to protect us is not a valid excuse or justification. The idea that American military trainees also are forced to endure some of the “enahanced interrogation techniques” is the reasoning of a sophist. The trainees are not in United States custody and therefore, the officers responsible for these exercises are not subject to the same laws that military and intelligence professionals were required to follow with detainees - as were all officals in the Bush Administration. And whether you believe the Geneva Convention applied in the case of “enemy combatants” is also beside the point; no one repealed American law under which the Bush Administration was required to operate. As the Bybee memo proves beyond any reasonable doubt, the Administration was seeking a legal fig leaf in order to skirt that law as well as international treaties of which we are a signatory that clearly defines torture.

Tom MaGuire:

IN OUR NAME: The newly released torture memos are cold-blooded and clearly client-driven - the lawyers knew the answers they wanted and reasoned backwards.

The same could be said of the Yoo memos when the Bush Administration was seeking legal justification for their torture. Yoo knew full well what the Administration wanted - a sort of “Get out of jail free” card that would cover their behinds if anyone ever found out what they were doing. While this is true, there is another dynamic at work that seems to get short shrift by Bush Administration critics -a dynamic that, in some ways, makes the lawbreaking even more chilling.

Sure, they wished above all else to protect America from another attack. The sincerity of their beliefs must be granted them else one wanders off into territory reserved for kooks who believe Bush was a sadist and enjoyed torturing people. That they displayed enormous hubris in giving the middle finger to the law and proceeding marks them as cynics of the highest order.

Again, Maguire:

The US concern about actually harming someone comes through on every page. In fact, at one point (p. 36 of .pdf) the legal team wonders whether it would be illegal for the interrogators to threaten or imply that conditions for the prisoner could get even worse unless they cooperate. I suppose these memos will provide welcome reassurance of our underlying civility to both the world community and the terrorists in it.

The same holds true when discussing the “insect war” being fought on the internet today. The news that the Administration considered using one detainee’s fear of insects to extract information by locking him in a small box and telling him a stinging bug was in there with him is being derided on the right and used as proof that Bush was inhuman on the left. Both sides are wrong on this one. Using the threat of a stinging insect on someone with a phobia knowing it will terrorize him is clearly psychological torture and violates both US law and the Geneva Convention. But please, let’s not exaggerate or use wild hyperbole to make this any more than it is; one more example of the law being tossed aside - and not a particularly egregious example at that. The technique was never used.

Andrew Sullivan, who ridiculously complained yesterday when, a couple of hours after the memos had been released, some conservative writers had not commented on them, nevertheless reaches into the past to get to the heart of what the airing of this chapter in American history means:

Perhaps you are reading these documents alongside me. I’ve only read the Bybee memo, as chilling an artefact as you are ever likely to read in a democratic society, the work clearly not of a lawyer assessing torture techniques in good faith, but of an administration official tasked with finding how torture techniques already decided upon can be parsed in exquisitely disingenuous ways to fit the law, even when they clearly do not. This is what Hannah Arendt wrote of when she talked of the banality of evil. To read a bureaucrat finding ways to describe and parse away the clear infliction of torture on a terror suspect well outside any “ticking time bomb” scenario is to realize what so many of us feared and sensed from the shards of information we have been piecing together for years. It is all true.

Sullivan and many on the left have raised the specter of the Gestapo and Nazi Germany when discussing the techniques used on detainees but I think that misses the point. As Maguire points out, the Administration seemed torn about actually injuring even the worst of the terrorists they wished to single out for this treatment. Rather, it is the chilling, cold blooded legalese used by Bybee and the others that Andrew correctly judges as “the banality of evil.” It is reminiscent of the minutes that were found after World War II from the Wannsee Conference - the meeting of high level SS officers and Nazi party officials that developed “The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.” The bureaucratic language of murder far surpasses in evil what the Bybee memo reveals. But the tone is the same - a detatched, unemotional accounting of various torture regimes, whether they would hurt too much, whether the subject would be in any danger, how much psychological damage would be done by employing these techniques, and what kind of legal exposure interrogators would have. (Another, less apropos parallel but still relevant, would be some of the memos from I.G. Farban to the extermination camp commandants where the mass gassing of human beings using Zyklon-B was touted in language that must be read to be believed.)

No, Bush is not like Hitler nor is his Administration or Bybee fascist or Nazi. But when reading the Bybee memo (I have read only one of the Bradbury memos), you feel unclean - as if you were reading something that might be contagious. What in God’s name got into these people? You wonder what the hell the gentleman was thinking when he wrote it. Did he grasp the fact that he was in the process of justifying the deliberate infliction of pain on another human being? I suppose lawyers can do just about anything - defending Bin Laden in an American court if it comes to that - but Bybee, like a good little bureaucrat, followed orders issued by his superiors and what emerged from his mind and pen puts a terrible coda on Bush era policies that broke American and international law.

President Obama, required by law, released these memos and then appropriately gave a pass to the men and women who operated under their legal guidelines. Overall, he is showing a sensitivity to the issues that most of us on the right are not giving him much credit for. He has not recommended prosection of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and other high level Administration officials - yet. It could be he is waiting to see which way the political wind blows. It could be he is reluctant to distract the country from what he considers more important business. It could even be that he may wish to employ some of the same techniques against high value targets in the future and doesn’t want to close down any of his options. I believe, like myself, he really doesn’t know how to proceed. Will there be war crimes trials? A special prosecutor? A blue ribbon, “non-partisan” truth commission? I doubt whether he even wants to make that decision which means he will leave it to the Democratic Congress. If so, I have little hope that anything useful will emerge from anything the rabid Bush haters, who spent 8 years undermining the policies of a Republican president, can come up with.

I am done writing trying to convince conservatives that I am right by arguing nits. I came to the conclusion that despite what I see as clear evidence of lawbreaking, others on the right sincerely believe otherwise. But if there are any conservatives out there reading this who are continuing to defend these actions by President Bush and his people but nevertheless feel troubled and unsure, I urge you to take a fresh look at the issues - if only to buttress your own defense. There is no shame in changing your opinion if you expose yourself to new facts, new insights and look at the issue from a new perspective.

By: Rick Moran at 7:04 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (75)

4/16/2009
AN FAQ ON THE TEA PARTIES

With the tea party protests now a part of history, I thought it might be helpful to try a little FAQ about them. Consider this a handy reference for what transpired and what might happen in the future.

1. How many tea parties were held across the country?

No one knows for sure. PJTV had 850 reports from citizen reporters across the country but some of those reports are duplicate efforts from the same venue. Tax Day Tea Party pegged the number at a 1,000. I think a safe estimate would be between 750-800 with many dozen more that weren’t reported because they were too small or more spontaneous than others.

2. How many people participated? (Updated below)

Got me. PJTV has reports from the field totalling more than 221,000 protestors. While recognizing that some of those numbers may be inflated because estimating crowds - even for experts - is more seance than science, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to say that more than 200,000 people turned out to protest…what?

3. What were the protests about?

I was surprised that there appeared to be such a uniformity of purpose to the protests. By all reports I’ve read, there was the occassional anti-aborton or anti-immigration protestor in some of the groups. And small groups of Ron Paul supporters showed up at many venues demanding the dismantlement of the Fed and a return to the gold standard. But by and large, the overriding theme of the protests was as organizers hoped; a broad critique of Obama’s economic policies with an emphasis on the maintenance of economic freedom. This included protestors who were anti-high tax, anti-bail out, anti-goverment control of business, and anti-ruinous spending. The signs at many protests pointed to the idea of “generational theft” as another dominant theme.

Were the protests anti-government? Given the diversity of opinions present, that theme cannot be dismissed. There is no doubt that what anger there was at the demonstrations came from those who see government as the enemy. And given that the Democrats are currently in power, there was certainly a partisan bent to the events. But as Jennifer Rubin reported from the Washington, D.C. protest, there was plenty to say against spendthrift Republicans also and there seemed to be at least some bi-partisan finger pointing at other venues as well. It was probably more pronounced at some locations than at others but it would be wrong to say that this was completely an anti-Obama or anti-Democratic party slugfest.

4. Did the media cover the protests?

Much local media coverage both before and during the protests was reported. As far as the national media, they got into heavy coverage the day before and day of the events - with predictable results.

5. What will be the dominant impression of the tea parties of Americans who watch the news?

Again, local coverage seemed to be a little more sympathetic and balanced than what came from the national media so it is difficult to say. Since studies show that most Americans give more weight to their local news than national broadcasts, it may be a wash in the end. The bias of all three cable networks probably won’t change any minds on either side, although the shocking bias of CNN has already exposed them to ridicule in some quarters. The disimissive tone of MSNBC was entirely predictable as was the rah-rah cheerleading by Fox. If one theme is able to penetrate the hype and bias - that this was a nationwide event and hundreds of thousands participated - that’s probably the best organizers can hope for.

6. What about the coverage by PJTV? (Disclaimer: I am employed by PJ Media, a subsidiary of PJTV)

There’s nine hours of coverage you can view for free here.. I am including this in my FAQ because there has been much written on the internet about the uselessness of PJTV, how it doesn’t have a mission, how it duplicates the MSM, and how it doesn’t have a ghost of a chance of succeeding.

I have been critical of PJTV in the past for some of their business decisions and have agreed with some of the serious critques of the network. But when they do something right, it’s only fair to mention that as well.

I would guess that most of the 850 citizen journalists who contributed reports to the tea party disagree with some of that critique. After all, would you rather visit 850 sites to see what the protests were all about or one? This is an extraordinary achievement that I do not believe any MSM outlet or internet network has ever even attempted on this scale. The network basically defined itself with the way they promoted and covered these protests. They have firmly established themselves as an important voice in the conservative alternative media universe with what they accomplished. While the network still has a ways to go, I would consider this something of a breakthrough moment for them. We will have to wait and see if they can keep the momentum going and add programming both topical and entertaining to their already rather eclectic mix.

6. What were some of the largest crowds?

Most of these are not police estimates but according to this website, 25,000 turned out in Sacramento, 20,000 in Atlanta, 15,000 in Houston, 12,000 in New York City, and many reports of 10,000 in cities across the country. The biggest rallies were not necessarily in the biggest cities. It appears that many of the demonstrations held in state capitols were extremely well attended.

But what is most impressive are the unfamiliar place names of small towns and villages where 100-200 people showed up. There are many hundreds of these venues and this speaks to the widepsread nature of the uneasiness many are feeling about the president and his policies.

7. Where does the Tea Party Movement go from here?

That’s the real question and I imagine there are many answers to it. There is talk already of holding the next round of protests on July 4th. But what is needed now is a clearinghouse of sorts, a place where organizers and participants can go to exchange ideas and connect. The best place for this is online and there is already at least one website where this is possible

Aftertheteaparty.com, a creation of American Majority, a non-profit political training institute, is already up and running. And I imagine PJTV will become an important player in the growth (or failure) of the tea party movement. This must be a long term investment in time and effort if anything is to change in America. We will see if anything comes of these protests or whether people lose interest and wander off.

UPDATE

Nate Silver has done an exhausting study based on media reports of “official” crowd sizes and come up with 250,000 as a nice round number for a little more than 300 protest venues.

It appears that he listed all the largest ones so I will only say that several hundred more were probably too small to warrant coverage but that the total particpation if you add them in would mean a grand total of more than 300,000 attendees.

I think he has too much faith in “official” estimates - especially where photos contradict them. But who am I to argue with a liberal?

By: Rick Moran at 7:46 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (43)

4/15/2009
BEGALA: APRIL 15TH SHOULD BE ‘PATRIOT’S DAY’
CATEGORY: Government, Politics

What is it about paying taxes that make liberals coo and gurgle like a newborn making satisfied noises after soiling its diaper?

Last year, it was Matt Stoller who wrote:

I just paid my taxes, and I have to say, I always take pride when I do so. I don’t like having less money to spend, of course, and the complexity of the process is really upsetting. But I am proud to pay for democracy, and I feel when I do send money to the DC Treasurer and the US Treasury that that is what I am doing. The right-wing likes to pretend as if taxes are a burden instead of the price of democracy. And I suppose, if you hate democracy, as the right-wing does, then taxes are the price for paying for something you really don’t want. Personally, I find banking fees, high cable and internet charges, health care costs, and credit card hidden charges much more abrasive than taxes, because with those I’m just being ripped off to pay for someone’s summer home.

With that kind of carrying on for paying taxes, you can imagine the party Stoller throws when he makes a complete stop at a stop sign.

Not to be outdone this year, former Bill Clinton aide Paul Begala absolutely gushes about about tax day, calling it “Patriot’s Day” and slobbering over the fact that government gets to reach into his pocket and take his property:

Happy Patriots’ Day. April 15 is the one day a year when our country asks something of us — or at least the vast majority of us.

For those who wear a military uniform, those who serve the rest of us as policemen and firefighters and teachers and other public servants, every day is patriots’ day. They work hard for our country; many risk their lives — and some lose their lives.

But for the rest of us, the civilian majority, our government asks very little. Except for April 15. On this day, our government asks that we pay our fair share of taxes to keep our beloved country strong and safe.

Freedom isn’t free. That’s what the courageous World War II veterans of the American Legion taught me back in Texas Boys State decades ago. That phrase had special meaning for them. Those guys had seen buddies blown apart at Anzio or Guadalcanal.

grew up in a different era. There was no draft, and while I have friends and family members who joined the military, most of my peers, like me, opted for the security and prosperity of the private sector.

This country has showered me with the blessings of liberty. So what do I owe my country in return? Paying my fair share of taxes, it seems, is the least I can do. Thanks to President Obama and the Democratic Congress, 95 percent of Americans will get a tax cut this year. No one — not even the wealthiest 1 percent — will have to pay higher income taxes until 2011.

Begala uses this lilting tribute to our IRS overlords as a segue into attacking the tea parties:

That a bunch of overpaid media millionaires would lead a faux-populist revolt is comical. They somehow held their populist instincts in check as George W. Bush and the Republicans cut taxes on the idle rich and put the screws to the working stiffs.
Bush’s tax policies were a godsend to the Paris Hilton class, but they sent the country on the road to bankruptcy and helped ruin the economy. But now that we the people have decided to set things right, now that we’ve hired Obama to fix the mess conservatives created, now they’re protesting?

What kind of government do we get when so many kowtow to the authority of the state and achieve rapture through the simple, utilitarian act of obeying the law?

Government is not a living entity to be worshipped. It is, at best, a utility - and would that it were run as well as Verizon or AT&T. Of course, everyone realizes that government is a necessary part of living in America and that those who toil for it - for the most part - are deserving of our admiration and respect.

But in America, it is the people - in the aggregate - who deserve Begala and Stoller’s ecominums. We who created government, who require it to bend to our will (ideally), are far more important in the scheme of things than the force of nature that government has become and that liberals wish to use as a club to shape their utopia. It is unseemly in a republic for citizens to actually get excited about obeying the law and paying one’s taxes. In fact, it’s goofy. Gleefully handing over one’s property to an entity that is just as likely as build a bridge to nowhere as build something much more useful like an F-22 reveals a worldview that doesn’t respect the value of their neighbor’s property, that what belongs to the citizen also belongs to the government.

Stoller and Begala’s hymns of praise to government nauseate me. The reason is simple; you cannot value freedom if you value government above all else. April 15 is not a day of celebration. It is just another day that we can thank our stars that we live in the United States and people like Begala and Stoller haven’t won - yet.

By: Rick Moran at 1:26 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (27)

A TEA PARTY WALKBACK — OF SORTS

C’mon, what’d you expect? A full fledged mea culpa complete with sackcloth, ashes, and my kneewalking to the shrine of  tea party activism?

Not hardly.

However, I was mostly wrong when I wrote this after the first round of tea parties in February:

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.

Well, there still isn’t much organization and little professionalism, but it turns out that I was the one lacking realism. I failed to grasp the excitement this idea generated and how it would animate the grass roots to actually get out of their chairs and do something about the creeping statism and generational theft being perpetrated by the Obama Administration. I also failed to give any credit to the thousands of ordinary citizens who, without any help from an organized political structure and with little or no money, managed to organize around 800 of these tea parties, and make a virtue out of their inexperience by being imaginative and working hard. In the end, results count. Today will see uneven results from venue to venue but overall, will no doubt be judged a success - if not by the media then by the movement itself.

(Note to our lefty friends: By the time Fox News got around to mentioning the tea parties, more than 500 had been announced. To believe that FNC is “behind” the tea parties is delusional. Any publicity they give is, I’m sure, appreciated by the organizers. But what does it say about the “reality based community” when they so easily slough off reality in favor of paranoia and fantasy?)

But my concern in February, as it is now, is that the rhetoric about what the tea parties will accomplish will not match the reality of what actually occurs. Exaggerated claims of “revolution” as appear on the PJTV site are not only unrealistic but defeat the purpose of the movement by scaring otherwise sympathetic people off. Most Americans probably do not want “revolution” nor are they necessarily in tune with the goals of the tea party - not when 71% of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. The best that can be said is the that success of the tea parties show that many Americans are uneasy about this administration’s actions in spending our way to oblivion and that higher taxes for everybody are a dead certainty as a result.

It is amusing to watch many on the left pretend that they don’t know what the tea parties are all about - or posit wildly off base reasons for the protests that they know full well to be false. For a bunch that prides themselves on being smarter than the rest of us goober chewin’, bible thumpin’, gun totin’, cousin marryin’ rubes out here in flyover country, they sure are awful at pretending.

But for many liberals, if at first you don’t succeed in belittling the effort, why not simply make sh*t up about how the whole thing is a manufactured mirage, funded by lobbyists, and peopled by fakes:

This was easy for for Brian Beutler over at TPMDC:

That all changed on February 19, when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli erupted in anger on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, and proposed a “Chicago Tea Party” for traders to protest the government’s plan to provide mortgage assistance to distressed homeowners.

The idea took hold and on February 27, a handful of cities across the country hosted gatherings that involved genuine tea (or at least the use of the word “tea”). One of those tea parties occurred from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Friday February 27, in Tampa, FL, organized according to the website Tampa Bay Online, by “John Hendricks, a Tampa-based consultant.”

John Hendricks turns out to be John Hendrix, who by phone earlier today described the events as completely spontaneous. “These are independent groups, not coordinated,” he says, “and most of the people, including myself, have never done anything like this.” He even said that two distinct groups in Tampa emerged simultaneously–both called the “Tampa Tea Party,” each unbeknown to the other.

I asked him where the idea came from. “Tom Gaithens,” Hendrix said. “He’s with FreedomWorks.”

“Oh really?”

“He sent an email out with his network of contacts to see who could help.”

Evil corporate lobbyists are hiding behind concerned citizens, pumping money and expertise into the protests in a classic case of astroturfing. I’m sure out of the 800+ protests planned for today, the overwhelming majority of organizers are asking, “So where’s the dough?” And all those conservative “plants” who have been hired as cut outs will no doubt ask the same question.

A little reality from Marc Ambinder:

Here is the organizational landscape of the April 15 tea party movement, in a nutshell: three national-level conservative groups, all with slightly different agendas, are guiding it. All are quick to tell you that the movement is a bottom-up affair and that its grassroots cred is real.

They are: FreedomWorks, the conservative action group led by Dick Armey; dontGO, a tech savvy free-market action group that sprung out of last August’s oil-drilling debate in the House of Representatives; and Americans for Prosperity, an issue advocacy/activist group based on free market principles. Conservative bloggers, talk show hosts, and other media figures have attached themselves to the movement in peripheral capacities. Armey will appear at a major rally in Atlanta, FreedomWorks said.

All three groups vehemently deny that the movement is a product of AstroTurfing–fake grassroots activism organized from the top down–as some on the left have claimed. They will tell you that citizens-turned-activists, upset with President Obama’s economic agenda and the financial bailout, have been calling them, asking for help and how they can organize protests on Wednesday. The movement, they say, is entirely organic: they are mostly providing help and resources to this new class of outraged conservative free-market populists, some of whom are their own members and some of whom are outsiders to politics with whom they’ve never communicated before–not even on an e-mail list.

It is arguable how many of these tea parties actually received help from any one of the three conservative groups. And I can guarantee if this was a “top down” organizational effort, you wouldn’t have the probable wildly different turnouts in various parts of the country as you will have today. Some events will no doubt see participants in the thousands. Others, in the hundreds. Still others will see a couple of families on a busy street corner with homemade signs like “Honk if you hate socialism!” If it really was as organized as many on the left claim, it would be a different story.

And you always know when the left gets stymied by something when the race card is dusted off and taken lovingly off the shelf:

Were you wondering what happened to all the rabid, wild-eyed bigots yelling, “Kill him!” and “Terrorist” and “Socialist” carrying stuffed monkey plush dolls at the McCain-Palin rallies? It’s easy in our jubilation over Obama’s victory to forget the many people in America who were deeply fearful and hate-oriented towards an Obama presidency. Those people didn’t just shrug their shoulders at the Democratic victory in Nov 2008. No, they’ve re-organized. Largely abandoned by the Republican party who tapped cynically into their ignorance, fear and hatred and whipped these folks into a racist lather as a Get Out The Vote strategy, the Tax Day Tea Party people have used the internet to find each other and organize.

[snip]

I’ve been parsing the words and the racists have been very careful to cover their tracks and fury that a black man is President. But not well enough. I’m starting to become pretty convinced at this point that “socialist” is a some kind of code word for “nigger”. Here’s an example of some of the subtle language the Tea Party people are using to describe their own movement (emphasis mine) from the Michelle Malkin blog, a central hive for the poorly informed, wild-eyed, bigoted, Fox News/wingnut blog-driven lynch, ahem I mean Tea Partiers:

I love it when liberals use the word “nigger.” They get such a thrill from it, showing how “authentic” they are and all. The fact that they have done more to contribute to the virtual slavery of African Americans by making the impoverished among them so generationally dependent on government for survival, the dripping irony of showing “solidarity with the oppressed” escapes them.

But leaving what liberals think of the tea parties behind - as well the organizers should - there is a burning question that needs answering when the last protestor leaves the venue and heads home.

Nedryun at Next Right:

But I have one concern: We show up; we protest; we go home. But what comes next?    There are events in history that impact the direction a nation takes. This could be one of those moments. I know the organizers of the National Tax Day Tea Party have begun to think about it, and I am convinced that if done right, this could be the MoveOn.org moment for the conservative movement. Think about it: MoveOn.org began as a simple petition and email list, wanting people and leaders to move on from the Bill Clinton impeachment. Consider what it is today.   To help keep the momentum of the Tea Party Revolution going, American Majority has developed an After the Tea Party plan. My challenge to those attending the Tea Parties is this: we’re showing up to protest on behalf of freedom and limited government. But that should just be the beginning. We need to take it a step further if we want to see true freedom and limited government here in America. We need implementers of freedom and limited government. If people are really fed-up with the current elected leadership of this country, then they should think about becoming the next generation of leadership. We need people to channel their passion into part of a long-term approach, and run for local office (or become more effective activists). What if we have 1,000,000 people show up on the 15th? What if 5% take up this challenge to run for state and local office on free market, limited government principles? It would be the beginning of something very, very good for this country.   That’s what After the Tea Party is about. We want people to go to www.aftertheteaparty.com and sign up. American Majority will then train those who sign up to run for office or to become a more effective activist.   I’m posting this so I can help get the word out about After the Tea Party.

Ned recommends several common sense steps that can be taken in the aftermath of the tea parties that seem to me to be eminently reasonable and doable. I am going to sign up and I would hope everyone who attends a tea party does also.

Last night on my radio show, I asked the same question - what next? - to my guests Ed Lasky and Rich Baehr of The American Thinker. Will some conservative politician try and “adopt” the tea party movement and would that be a good thing? We all agreed that some kind of leadership is necessary but that the movement should strive to maintain its independence. Clearly, there must be some kind of clearinghouse for information and ideas as well as coordination with other organizers for future events. But beyond that, perhaps I was wrong when mocking the movement as little more than aping the plot of the old Andy Hardy movies where Mickey Rooney, in order to solve a finanical problem for a friend, would snap is fingers and cry out, “Hey Kids! Let’s put on a show!”

Perhaps that is a large part of the movement’s charm - and potential effectiveness. And I guess I was stupid not to see it.

UPDATE:

See also Pat Ruffini’s “The Rise of the Right’s New Distributed Online Activism” that details the significance of the tea party movement to what Pat and others have been trying to accomplish on the net.

By: Rick Moran at 7:30 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (26)

4/14/2009
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: PIRATES AND TEA PARTIES

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

Tonight, its an all American Thinker show with my friends and colleagues Rich Baehr and Ed Lasky. We’ll look at the pirate situation and talk a little tea party.

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 3:50 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)