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5/31/2009
THE MOST EXPENSIVE DATE NIGHT IN HISTORY

Couples who have been married for a while have been encouraged in recent years to plan a “date night” once a month or so just to keep the rituals of courtship alive and keep the “spark” of romance in their relationship.

I personally think this is a great idea. And Zsu-Zsu and I can attest to the efficacy of such a practice. Sure beats sitting at home on Saturday night watching some schlocky movie we rented.

Now parenthetically, I lived in Washington, D.C. for 7 years and can tell you that there is lots to do in that city; great restaurants, live theater at the Kennedy Center, great clubs, and more museums than you can shake a stick at.

Why then did our president and his wife feel it necessary to jet off to New York City at taxpayer expense, forcing the NY city cops to throw the usual presidential security cordon around his motorcade, eat at a tony restaurant in the Village, catch a Broadway play, and then jet back so that the Secret Service could tuck them in for the night in their own beds?

Apparently, according to this Politico piece , because the president promised his wife a Broadway show at taxpayer’s expense if he won the election:

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama landed in New York Saturday afternoon, and after taking a helicopter from JFK into Manhattan, drove up the West Side Highway, where the northbound lanes were shut down by police for their visit, past Ground Zero, into the Village for dinner at the Village’s Blue Hill restaurant. From there, they went north to Times Square, where they went to to see a production of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at the Belasco Theater on West 44 Street.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest read a statement from Obama: “I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show

Asked about the cost of the trip, which Republicans have criticized as indulgent, coming just ahead of the expected announcement of GM’s bankruptcy filing on Monday, Josh Earnest told pool reporter Dave Michaels of the Dallas Morning News, that he “didn’t anticipate being able to provide a cost estimate tonight.”

How romantic. Our first couple flies to New York City, has a cozy, intimate dinner, and graces the Great White Way with their presence all because our president promised his wife a night on the town (at taxpayer expense) if he won the election.

All this begs the question that is nagging at everyone’s consciousness; did the president and the first lady top off their night with a little marital bliss? A little “slap and tickle?” Were our tax dollars well spent to the point that the Obama’s date night had a happy ending in the bedroom?

Don’t blame me for bringing it up. I am only asking the question because of the torrent of nauseating crap that has been written about the Obama’s and their supposedly superior sex life. And given that the trip cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, I, and most Americans, would like to know if our money was well spent. Have one on us, Barry and by the way, who made the first move - you or Michelle?

You think that kind of speculation is vulgar? Me too. But if, according to Judith Warner in the New York Times, Americans fantasize about having sex with the president, or Michelle (maybe both?), then asking whether this taxpayer financed date ended up with the first couple playing “Hide the Salami” is a perfectly legitimate line of inquiry:

Many women — not too surprisingly — were dreaming about sex with the president. In these dreams, the women replaced Michelle with greater or lesser guilt or, in the case of a 62-year-old woman in North Florida, whose dream was reported to me by her daughter, found a fully above-board solution: “Michelle had divorced Barack because he had become ‘too much of a star.’ He then married my mother, who was oh so proud to be the first lady,” the daughter wrote me.

There was some daydreaming too, much of it a collective fantasy about the still-hot Obama marriage. “Barack and Michelle Obama look like they have sex. They look like they like having sex,” a Los Angeles woman wrote to me, summing up the comments of many. “Often. With each other. These days when the sexless marriage is such a big celebrity in America (and when first couples are icons of rigid propriety), that’s one interesting mental drama.”

Yeah, I know. I’m just one of those frustrated conservatives who never gets any and is so sexually uptight that doing it anywhere except the bedroom in the missionary position with the lights off and my eyes closed would be considered sexually deviant. At least that’s the explanation given by this fanatical Bush hating blogger:

It’s not that I envision the President endorsing the “Head O State” dildo, or promoting the benefits of masturbation for prostate health, but I’d like to think that in addition to having the occasional cocktail or staying up past nine, Obama will also be looser on matters regarding the sexual behaviors of the public.

To be sure, people were still getting it on during the Bush era. But that era also saw a rise in unwanted pregnancies and infections, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an associated rise in the numbers of folks walking around with psychological or emotional hang-ups regarding sex. Apparently, Bush initiatives like pushing welfare moms into marriage and promoting abstinence until the age of twenty-nine didn’t quite succeed the way he probably hoped.

Truth be told, when Zsu-Zsu and I return from a date night - sometimes at 2 or 3:00 AM - the urge to merge is sometimes overcome by the need for zees. Of course, when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, there’s always the next morning, if you catch my drift. Suffice it to say, our date nights, while not financed by my neighbors or by the American taxpayer, nevertheless usually have a very happy - and satisfied (if I may brag a bit) - ending.

But what can you say about this kind of brainless, pornographic idiocy? The idea that Obama and the first lady are in love and probably demonstrate that fact on a regular, intimate basis is so wildly stupid a subject to contemplate, perhaps we should help satisfy the prurient curiosity of liberals and have the Obama’s fill out a questionnaire following each of their date nights. After all, if the tax payers are going to help finance the Obama’s conjugal contentment, maybe we should expect a government report on how our money was spent.

At least the New York Magazine was subtle about their curiosity. This piece from that faux intellectual, cheeky cosmopolitan humor publication at least had the decency to fantasize without short stroking their open mouthed wonder at how really kewl it was to have a first couple that did the nasty-nasty now and again.

Writing about a nice pic of Barack and Michelle tenderly touching foreheads on inauguration night, Stacy Shiff gushes:

The gesture is sweetly old-fashioned, redolent of letter sweaters, gallantry, and Cary Grant. The girl is spicy and newfangled. She’s ushering us around a social corner as much as a political one. Professional rivals, Rock and Doris leaped out of bed in those pj’s the year Obama was born; only now are we discovering what a functioning marriage between equals actually looks like. Michelle Obama promises to resolve the mystery Mrs. Spitzer, Mrs. Edwards, and Mrs. McCain left us helplessly to contemplate: What purpose does the political wife serve if she is neither accessory nor casualty? After decades of fake financials and fictitious balance sheets, WMDs that weren’t there and detention centers that were, our new First Lady is the genuine article. She has a real body—arms! Legs! Curves! And she has a real marriage. Here are two people whose bodies speak as eloquently as their words, who hold each other up, who between them get the temperature just right.

Yeah, I’ll bet that “temperature” was on the rise last night. Do we dare ask whether the president plied his sweetheart with some wine just to get her in the mood? Works for me.

I didn’t invent this meme. If the left is going to go all goo-goo about the president and his lady, wondering, dreaming, fantasizing, about them having sex, about having sex with him or her, or even projecting themselves in their roles, then taking these thoughts to their logical conclusion and speculating whether Obama got some after shelling out all that taxpayer money shouldn’t be offensive to anyone, right?

And if liberals want a real love story - one where the passion and tenderness and attraction lasted into the couple’s golden years, I would suggest they read My Turn by Nancy Reagan. Here was a Hollywood power couple that made the academic Obama and his wife look like insignificant amoebas by comparison. The Reagan’s were a true partnership in every sense of the word. And yes, even in their 70’s, most people could imagine them getting it on. You only needed to look at them when they looked at each other to be sure of that.

But back to critiquing the trip, I don’t like presidents promising anybody anything with my tax dollars in the pot. Secondly, the question must be raised; why New York? An RNC spokesman asked, “If President Obama wants to go to the theater, isn’t the Presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?”

Thirdly, with GM set to declare bankruptcy next week and American families trying and, in many cases, failing to make ends meet in these hard economic times, shouldn’t the president be a little more circumspect in his private affairs? I recall Nancy Reagan catching holy hell from the press for raising money from friends to purchase a new China set for the White House (the press accused her of ostentation in hard times) and criticizing the first lady for the donated gowns from famous designers she wore to state events. It was evidence that the Reagan’s “didn’t care” about the little people and only cared about partying with their rich friends.

Obama’s New York jaunt was taken because we have a president whose entire career has been in the public sector, where taxpayer money is viewed as a possession of government, to be spent with no more thought and care than you or I would spend money buying a quart of milk at the store. Public employees think we the taxpayers owe them their little perks and privileges since they feel they are vastly underpaid and underappreciated.

In Obama’s case, he gave no more thought to the cost of the trip or the appearance of propriety in hard times due to the same sense of entitlement he and many other upper level government workers feel. The taxpayer’s property is a means to an end - be it funding health insurance or expensing a car for personal use. The amount doesn’t matter. They are entitled to the perks due to the grave responsibility they carry in taking care of us.

If Obama wants to make these little date night jaunts, I would recommend he tap his email list of 3 million names for the money. Surely his disciples can come up with the millions of dollars it takes to indulge President Obama and his wife their little excursions outside of Washington.

This is an expanded version of a blog post that originally appeared in The American Thinker.

By: Rick Moran at 9:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

5/30/2009
JOHN LOGAN AND MEMORIAL DAY
CATEGORY: History


GENERAL JOHN A. LOGAN

May 30th was, at one time, the day designated as “Decoration Day” which later morphed into Memorial Day.

Before federal workers were able to pressure Congress to grant them several three day weekends a year by tossing aside tradition and making holidays like Memorial Day (May 30), Washington’s Birthday (February 22), Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12), and Columbus Day (October 12) moot by designating the closest Monday as the “observed” holiday (while kicking Lincoln under the bus altogether), Americans marked the passage of time by celebrating our heritage on these specific days every year.

I like three day weekends as much as the next guy but something went out of our holidays when we switched to the current system. If they fell midweek, we school kids would look forward to a nice little break from our studies so that they become true “holidays.” February used to be my favorite month of the year. Not only could we look forward to two holidays from school but Spring Training traditionally started between them, thus bring us closer to that most holy of all holy days; Opening Day at the ballyard.

Yes, we lost something when we no longer observed Memorial Day on May 30. But to keep a tiny bit of that tradition alive, allow me to repost something I wrote back in 2005 on John Logan and the origins of Memorial Day.

******************************************
This post originally appeared on May 30, 2005

Congressman John Logan was angry. His party, the Democrats, had just lost the election of 1860 to Abe Lincoln and the Republicans. But his opposition to the fire eaters of the South who were agitating for secession had incurred the wrath of men who just recently had called him a “son of the South.” In a speech on the floor of the House, Logan warned his Southern colleagues that if they persisted in their folly, the union would crush them. He returned to his district and gave a speech at Marion, Illinois that today is widely seen as helping keep that vital part of Illinois - “little Egypt” - loyal to the Union.

Resigning from Congress, he was one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers that fought on the Union side during the war. Most of these political officers were a disaster. Benjamin Butler, for instance, was a Massachusetts Democrat whose ineptitude as a soldier was surpassed only by his incompetence as an administrator. While overseeing the military occupation of New Orleans, Butler issued the infamous “General Order #28″ that stipulated that “any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.”

Other political generals were equally unfit for command and ended up costing thousands of lives because of their incompetent leadership. But not so John Logan.

Logan organized a regiment of volunteers and was named a Colonel. Immediately distinguishing himself on the field of battle, Logan made it his business to study the art of war. Attached to the Army of the Tennessee, General Grant recognized Logan’s leadership ability and promoted him to General. He played a key role in the victory at Raymond, Mississippi that cleared the way for Grant’s march to Vicksburg and eventual capture of that vital city.

When Grant moved North to take command of the Union armies, Sherman, who had nothing but disdain for political generals, took over the Army of the Tennessee. But after seeing Logan in action during the Battle of Atlanta, Sherman was impressed enough to give Logan command of the entire left wing of his army on its march to the sea. Again, Logan distinguished himself as he fought off whatever resistance the South could throw at Sherman as he devastated the countryside.

Popular with the men under his command, Logan was a rarity - a commander the men could trust. They sensed his concern for their welfare as Logan made it a habit of visiting the company mess to taste the food himself. If he found it inadequate, he’d dress down the company commander and order him to fix the situation. Usually it was something simple like changing cooks or cleaning the cooking pots once and a while. In addition, Logan made sure the men under his command were properly supplied with shoes, blankets, and other necessities that kept the men comfortable during winter months.

Logan’s concern for his men was evident after the war as well. Elected to Congress again in 1866, Logan took part in the first memorial day observance in Illinois. It’s thought that Logan became especially interested in the issue of a decoration day for the nation following a gesture by the women of Columbia, Mississippi who, during a remembrance for the dead, placed flowers on the graves of both Union and Southern soldiers. Logan had fought with Grant at the battle of Columbia and remembered well the hatred of civilians toward the Union Army. Horace Greeley wrote a famous editorial about the Columbian women and Francis Miles Finch wrote a beautiful poem for the Atlantic Monthly entitled “The Blue and the Grey.”

Logan’s popularity with the men paid off when he was named Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). In 1868 he issued his famous general order that designated May 30th as Decoration Day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Because of Logan’s leadership, the GAR grew into the most influential voting bloc in the Republican party. For more than 30 years, no Republican could get the Presidential nomination without the support of the GAR. At it’s peak, more than 400,000 veterans of the civil war were members. Their presence during parades and remembrances of that war became a source of inspiration to an entire generation of American historians and writers.

Logan would go on and be elected Senator and even be nominated on the 1884 Democratic ticket for Vice President. He was a strong advocate of public education and served on the Committee for Military Affairs. When he died in 1886, he lay in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol. Thousands of tearful veterans filed past his coffin to pay their last respects to the man they nicknamed “Blackjack.”

Some historians have taken a less than charitable view of Logan’s motivations for initiating Decoration Day. They point out that Logan probably used the holiday to promote his own political career. His bid for the Senate in 1871 played up his role in boosting the holiday and he never failed to remind audiences of his service in that regard.

However, Logan also wrote a loving tribute to his men in a book that came out after his death entitled The Volunteer Soldier in America which was written partly in response to U.S. Grant’s autobiography that criticized the performance of volunteers during the war.

John Logan didn’t come up with the idea of Memorial Day. But his generous inclusion of Southern dead in his General Order authorizing Decoration Day was a magnanimous gesture that helped heal the wounds of that conflict and bring us together as a nation.

It might not be a bad idea this Memorial Day to take a page from our forefathers and recognize that those on the other side of the debate of the War in Iraq mourn our losses as well. For this one day, let us be united in recognition of the service these brave men performed and the fact that no matter what you believe, they have given that “last full measure of devotion” to a grateful nation.

By: Rick Moran at 11:46 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

5/28/2009
DEALERGATE: STATISTICAL COINCIDENCE OR POLITICAL BIAS? (IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW)

Doug Ross and Joey Smith are doing a helluva job in researching the data on the Chrysler dealer closings story. And in typical internet fashion, the story now has some legs and is being addressed by other outlets.

Notably, World Net Daily - sometimes not the most reliable of sources - has a piece of straightforward reporting where they scanned the 789 dealers being closed, matched the donations to presidential candidates, and discovered the following:

$450,000 donated to GOP presidential candidates; $7,970 to Sen. Hillary Clinton; $2,200 to John Edwards and $450 to Barack Obama.

What does this mean?

It could mean nothing. It is a given that a large percentage of dealers - small businessmen - are Republican to begin with. Liberal poll expert Nate Silver has done a great job in researching all donations made by auto dealers (or most anyway) and pegs the percentage at  8-1 Republican which matches up pretty well with what Doug and others have found. Nate was looking at donors to political campaigns from all car dealers and those figures shake out to be overwhelmingly GOP.

Therefore, it is probably useless to try and make a case based on the amount of monies donated to the two parties. What is needed is an analysis of which dealers were allowed to stay open and whether they benefited from GOP dealers that were being closed. Doug Ross came up with some interesting coincidences based on his analysis of one dealership group owned by prominent Democrats where their dealerships were all allowed to stay open while neutral or GOP donor dealerships were closed. He made this connection in three separate territories where the Democratic auto group - RLJ - operated.

This is compelling but still not enough evidence. It is, after all, only one dealer group. In the end, what is needed is solid information about who exactly made the individual decisions to close the dealers.

We know it wasn’t the bankruptcy judge. We also know that the criteria for closing announced by Chrysler is not being followed. In dozens of cases, profitable dealers are being closed for no apparent reason.

So if the judge and Chrysler had little or no say in who was being torpedoed, that leaves the White House auto task force shoving these decisions down Chrysler’s throat. So far, Chrysler has remained quiet. But eventually, they are going to have to say something in response to the building pressure put on them by dealers who think they are being treated unfairly and a media that may be getting more curious.

Mark Tapscott in the Washington Examiner picked up the story today:

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan learned from a House colleague that his Venice, Florida, dealership is on the hit list. Buchanan also has a Nissan franchise paired with the Chrysler facility in Venice.

“It’s an outrage. It’s not about me. I’m going to be fine,” said Buchanan, the dealership’s majority owner. “You’re talking over 100,000 jobs. We’re supposed to be in the business of creating jobs, not killing jobs,” Buchanan told News 10, a local Florida television station.

Buchanan, who succeeded former Rep. Katharine Harris in 2006, reportedly learned of his dealership’s termination from Rep.Candace Miller, R-MI. Buchanan owns a total of 23 dealerships in Florida and North Carolina.

Also fueling the controversy is the fact the RLJ-McCarty-Landers chain of Arkansas and Missouri dealerships aren’t being closed, but many of their local competitors are being eliminated. Go here for a detailed look at this situation. McClarty is the former Clinton senior aide. The “J” is Robert Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Television, a heavy Democratic contributor.

A lawyer representing a group of  Chrysler dealers who are on the hit list deposed senior Chrysler executives and later told Reuters that he believes the closings have been forced on the company by the White House.

Another respected blogger, Megan McCardle , is dubious but willing to look at the question if compelling evidence is presented:

My operating assumption is that this story is a red herring.  Democratic and Republican dealers are unlikely to be found in the same place, and the rural counties that tend to be red are probably less profitable.  I would be less surprised to find out that the administration rescued specific donors from the hit list than to find that they deliberately closed Republican dealerships.

Still the administration should answer this; it gives the appearance of Chicago-style corruption that is going to further taint a Chrysler takeover which has already left a number of people in the business and finance community wondering how firm the rule of business law is these days.

McCardle mentions Silver’s analysis in an update and points out that it will be hard to prove bias based solely on donation patterns:

Nate Silver points out that most auto dealers are Republicans.  That doesn’t quite explain why so far only one Obama donor has been closed down, but it makes it difficult to definitely conclude bad faith.

Does this mean that all of this is just a statistical coincidence?

Given what we know about the Obama White House and its hyper-partisan ways (anyone who believes Rahm Emanuel isn’t a partisan bully doesn’t know anything about his service during the Clinton years). Given also that we have seen the bullying tactics, the threats, the blackmail, the arrogance of Obama’s people when dealing with the auto companies, one can combine those facts with the appearance of partisan bias in closing the dealerships and believe that it is entirely possible for this to be true. In other words, it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to think that this has been part of the plan.

But even if it isn’t, the closing of dealerships is a tragedy for the communities in which these dealers operate. Many of the dealers who are complaining that they are profitable and shouldn’t be closed are good community citizens. They sponsor boys and girls sports teams. They’re always there when the community needs help to put on events like parades and fireworks. They are Rotarians, Chamber of Commerce members, and volunteers whose loss will be keenly felt by the communities they serve.

I wouldn’t put it past Obama and his crew to compound this tragedy by making a lot of those closings unnecessary because they were based on the party affiliation of the dealer.

UPDATE: 5-29

Fox News performed a random survey of dealers who were closed and dealers allowed to remain open. It pretty much shuts the door on the subject:

A preliminary study by FOXNews.com found that the data do not support the charges. Among the dealerships set to close, 12 percent of a random 50 selected for review donated to Republicans and 8 percent to Democrats. Of the dealerships remaining open, 14 percent of a random 50 selected donated to Republicans and 10 percent to Democrats. In both samples, the average size of donations was similar for both parties.

According to the sample, one major factor in determining whether a dealership was closed or not was the size of the dealership, measured by the number of product lines carried (the four lines are Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Dodge Truck). The average store that will be closed in the FOXNews.com sample carries 2.5 of those product lines whereas the average store that will stay open carries 3.64.

A Chrysler representative said part of the decision on consolidating dealerships was to reduce overlap and have the remaining dealers sell all three company brands.

“It makes sense to have all three brands under one roof,” Chrysler spokeswoman Kathy Graham told FOXNews.com.

I will point out, 1) the statistical analysis would seem to indicate no foul play in the closings, and 2) Chrysler finally opened their mouths and said the first sensible thing about criteria used to close the dealers. Hence, the remote chance that this story would get some legs has all but disappeared.

Anyone who says this was not an issue worth looking into is politically naive and probably a partisan hack to boot. Of course the idea of politically motivated dealer closings was a possibility - especially with the bunch of arrogant cutthroats Obama has assembled in the auto task force. It would have been irresponsible not to check into this possibility. Who else was going to do it? The media? Only after blogs had been flogging the story for 3 days.

If I listed similar investigations by the opposition over the last 8 years that didn’t pan out either, I would run out of pixels on this site (the earpiece Bush wore in the debate, anyone?). Suffice it to say, the blogs did their job. Evidence was presented. Further digging revealed reasons to be skeptical as well as reasons to continue digging. And further analysis has pretty much laid the issue to rest.

One point; the possibility that there was interference on the part of the White House to keep politically connected dealerships open cannot be dismissed. But that would be impossible to prove and would not be a productive avenue to go down.

By: Rick Moran at 8:32 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (49)

5/27/2009
PRINCIPLE SHOULD TRUMP PRAGMATISM IN SOTOMAYOR VOTE

Jeanne Cummings of Politico is making too much of a big deal over the fact that opposition to President Obama’s pick to replace the retiring David Souter in the Supreme Court has not gelled as of yet. But her column does raise the salient issues that will be debated over the next couple of months, until Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings get underway.

To filibuster or not? Attack her liberal record and statements away from the bench or perhaps concentrate on specific decisions like Ricci or Didden?

No doubt a combination of the latter will be visible. But the question of whether to filibuster the nomination by trying to coax a couple of Democrats to cross the aisle and vote with the GOP (assuming the party can keep their caucus on the same page) will probably divide the opposition, as the article makes pretty clear:

“The Republicans have got to take a stand on this one,” said Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a proponent of a filibuster. “If they don’t, they can kiss their chances of ever getting back into power away,” he added.

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, an anti-abortion rights activist, is urging members to block a Senate vote on Sotomayor.

“Do GOP leaders have the courage and integrity to filibuster an activist, pro-Roe[v. Wade] judge?” asked Terry, who argued that Democrats - including then-Sen. Obama - opened the door to such action after threatening to filibuster Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2005.

In addition to pressuring Republicans, Terry is urging supporters to send e-mails to Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), both of whom oppose abortion rights.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Confirmation Network, an umbrella group representing more than 60 organizations, is trying to build a more traditional case against Sotomayor by culling through her prior statements and cases and questioning her qualifications.

“We’ve always said a filibuster is not appropriate for judicial nominees,” said Wendy Long, counsel to the network. “A filibuster is a legislative tool designed to extract compromises. A judicial nominee is a person. You can’t take the arm or leg of a nominee.

What this really boils down to is how much political courage will Republican senators demonstrate both at her confirmation hearings and on the floor of the senate?

In other words, are the principles involved in this nomination fight so important that a Republican senator should be prepared to go down to defeat rather than act pragmatically and tone down their opposition and perhaps even vote to confirm?

It may come as a shock to some of you but us pragmatists have principles too. One of the greatest political pragmatists in American history, Henry Clay, stood on principle time and time again in order to save the union. Through the Missouri Compromise, the nullification crisis of the 1830’s, and finally, the Compromise of 1850, Clay went against the wishes of many of his party, his constituents, and his friends in order to broker agreements that saved us from civil war. For Clay, pragmatism was a means to uphold his overarching principle of saving the union. While the firebreathers on both sides condemned him, and his last compromise drove a stake through the heart of his own party - the Whigs - Clay put his principles above everything else in order to keep the union together.

So in the SCOTUS nomination, I don’t see any way around it. There is little doubt that Sonia Sotomayor, while qualified to sit on the high court based solely on her experience as a 10 year jurist on the Second Circuit, would nevertheless be a disaster for America. Given that fact, and given that the principles that conservatives should stand for are at risk of being obliterated by justices like Sotomayor, there should be no other option for a principled politician than to stand up and be counted as a proponent of equality of opportunity, fair and impartial justice, and the rule of law.

For politicians, there’s a time for pragmatism and a time where standing for one’s principles cannot be avoided. This is the a time for the latter. No matter the personal or political cost. No matter what their constituents might want them to do. This is a “Profiles in Courage” moment for those senators who claim to be proud consrevatives around election time. They know what must be done. They know the right thing to do.

John Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage listed many examples of politicians who braved the wrath of their party and constituents in order to stand on principle. Among those profiled by Kennedy was Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster who welcomed political defeat in order to save the union during the compromise of 1850:

Daniel Webster was a Massachusetts Senator (Whig) and one of the most distinguished members in Senate history. His trial by fire began in 1850 when he agreed to help Henry Clay of Kentucky push through a compromise bill that would keep the Union together. Webster’s famous “Seventh of March” speech in favor of Clay’s compromise bill asserted that slaveholders were entitled to property rights, that fugitive slave laws should be strengthened, and that the issue of slavery should be put aside in order to keep the Union together at all costs. The speech enraged his constituents and ended his career as a Senator, since Webster knew that his speech would make him unelectable in Massachusetts thereafter. On July 22, 1850, Webster resigned from the Senate to become secretary of state.

Think of how difficult it was for Webster to make that speech and yet, his principled stand defending an unprincipled practice in order to head off civil war remains an example to be followed when the very idea of America as we know it is at stake.

The Republican party must speak with one voice on this nomination, shouting from the top of the Capitol dome that justices like Sotomayor who believe the law should be twisted so that the proper “outcome” is achieved have no place on the Supreme Court. At risk, gun rights, property rights, impartiality, and equal justice under the law for all.

But will they? They might if enough of us hold their feet to the fire and remind them that even going down to defeat is honorable if one is standing on their principles while doing so.

Whatever tactics the opposition decides upon, there must be a clear message sent to the American people that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor is a bridge too far and is antithetical to the founding principles of the republic. On that, Republican senators should reflect before genuflecting to Obama’s crass identity politics and cynical use of the race card to pander to a minority constituency.

By: Rick Moran at 8:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

5/26/2009
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: SCOTUS SCRUM

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

Tonight, it’s wall to wall SCOTUS as I welcome three lovely ladies; Kim Priestap, Lori Byrd, and my good buddy Fausta Wertz for a look at just how really, really bad a choice is Sonia Sotomayor.

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 4:51 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

OBAMA OUTFLANKS GOP WITH SOTOMAYOR PICK

I wrote a column this morning that was originally headed for publication here but that Aaron, my editor at PJ Media, decided to steal.

It’s on the Sotomayor choice, of course, and the more I read about her, the less I like it. But there’s not much to do about it since Obama’s got the votes. I only hope the GOP doesn’t embarrass itself by attacking her for something besides what she’s said in public and her court opinions.

A sample:

President Barack Obama seemed to have lost his deft touch in recent weeks as several controversies simmered, then exploded out of his control, making his life miserable and exposing his administration to criticism from some unlikely sources — including his own far left base and the press.

Stung by this sudden and unprecedented sign that the media was waking from its long winter nap, the president needed a plus in his column in order to right his own ship, if only temporarily.

That opportunity came with the vacancy on the Supreme Court created when David Souter announced he would step down at the end of the current session. Here was a chance for the president, in one fell swoop, to get back in the good graces of liberals while taming the media to lie down and go back to sleep.

In that respect only, President Obama hit a home run with his selection of Sonia Sotomayor for associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

It’s a miserable choice for conservatives as Roger Kimball points out in his PJ Media post on the announcement. But beyond questions of qualifications, temperament, and intellectual heft, Sotomayor is the perfect political choice for the president. Playing identity politics to the hilt, he has chosen a liberal woman, and a member of an important minority group — Hispanics.

Roger Kimball suggests we identify her as “Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court” as a matter of course. No doubt every time her name is mentioned on CNN and MSNBC, that fact will be hammered home, just as the president intends it to be. In fact, Obama is counting on the fact of his ethnically correct choice to surround the nominee with a magic cloak of invincibility that will strangle some of the more obvious criticisms that will be coming from the GOP.

By: Rick Moran at 10:58 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

5/25/2009
SMALL TOWN HEROES FROM THE HEARTLAND
CATEGORY: History, PJ Media

1-11

Arlington Cemetary

My latest piece is up at Pajamas Media. It is a Memorial Day tribute to small town heroes and, more importantly, the small town values that animated their patriotism.

I also take to task elites who look down their noses at these values and citizens.

As sample:

Perhaps it is no accident then that so many of America’s fallen hailed from towns with place names that are familiar only to those who live but a stone’s throw from where these heroes grew up.

Who has ever heard of Clairsville, Ohio, birthplace of Medal of Honor winner Sylvester Antolak? Among the heroic deeds mentioned in his citation were:

With one shoulder deeply gashed and his right arm shattered, he continued to rush directly into the enemy fire concentration with his submachinegun wedged under his uninjured arm until within 15 yards of the enemy strong point, where he opened fire at deadly close range, killing 2 Germans and forcing the remaining 10 to surrender. He reorganized his men and, refusing to seek medical attention so badly needed, chose to lead the way toward another strong point 100 yards distant. Utterly disregarding the hail of bullets concentrated upon him, he had stormed ahead nearly three-fourths of the space between strong points when he was instantly killed by hostile enemy fire. Inspired by his example, his squad went on to overwhelm the enemy troops. By his supreme sacrifice, superb fighting courage, and heroic devotion to the attack, Sgt. Antolak was directly responsible for eliminating 20 Germans, capturing an enemy machinegun, and clearing the path for his company to advance.

Hundreds of other Medal of Honor winners can lay claim to a similar background, growing up in rural villages and hamlets that, in many cases, time has forgotten and the world has passed by. America’s small-town culture has been ridiculed, criticized, and dismissed - especially over the last few decades - by an elite that cannot fathom why anyone would wish to live more than a couple of miles from a world class opera house or art museum. Nor can they understand why someone would choose country quiet over the babble and cacophony of the big city.

So they disparage these simple citizens - the ones who do most of the living, loving, fighting, and dying for America - because at bottom, they are what they accuse small town folk of being: narrow-minded and bigoted.

If these elites were to open their eyes, they may discover that people who live in small towns have exactly the same values as those who live in larger cities and suburbs. American values are the same regardless of where you live. The difference is they are perhaps taken to heart in a more fundamental way in small towns than in places that boast large populations and cultural diversity. Patriotism seems more heartfelt and genuine in rural parts of the country, more a regular part of life than in urban or suburban America.

Perhaps because showing one’s patriotism has been equated with having an “unsophisticated” attitude - a lack of world weariness and cynicism that the smart set personifies - the elites accuse those of us in flyover country of possessing a dullard’s sense of how the world really works. In this context, patriotic feelings and gestures are worse than futile, they are dangerous. Outward manifestations of patriotism come perilously close to upsetting the cosmopolitan self-image held by Americans not vouchsafed the blessing of living in a more pastoral setting. Such rash displays of emotion where America is concerned are contrasted with the blasé, more refined attitudes of our betters, who appreciate the splendid opportunity to feel smugly superior to the rubes who show reverence to the flag rather than dream of burning it.

Read the whole thing.

By: Rick Moran at 9:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

5/24/2009
‘THINK I AM GONE AND WAIT FOR THEE, FOR WE SHALL MEET AGAIN…’
CATEGORY: Ethics, General

1-1

Sullivan Ballou, taken a few weeks before he died in battle.

This blog post originally appeared on May 28, 2007

A week before the battle of Bull Run Sullivan Ballou, a Major in the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, wrote home to his wife in Smithfield. The letter, made famous on Ken Burn’s landmark documentary Civil War, should really be read while listening to the haunting Ashokan Farewell that accompanied the reading on the show. Such timeless love and heartfelt patriotism makes this letter so American in form and meaning that it should not only move you to tears but make you proud of your heritage.

Such men as this fought to save the union. And they fight to save us today.

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me - perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.

By: Rick Moran at 9:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

5/22/2009
CAN GINGRICH RIDE AN ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT WAVE TO THE OVAL OFFICE?

I’m absolutely convinced Newt Gingrich would love to be president. But every time he starts making noises like a candidate, he seems to back off as if remembering his sky high negatives and problematic personal life.

This is a shame because if ever we needed an idea man in the White House - someone who could grasp the essentials of a problem and offer a solution (some more viable than others), it is the former speaker, public intellectual, and I believe, the primary carrier of the Reagan legacy today.

Listening to Gingrich speak is a treat for the mind and his columns are equally thought provoking. His latest points up something that many in the MSM and pundit class are ignoring; that the vote in California rejecting tax increases was, at bottom, a vote against the political establishment and a victory for the grass roots:

This vote is the second great signal that the American people are getting fed up with corrupt politicians, arrogant bureaucrats, greedy interests and incompetent, destructive government.

The elites ridiculed or ignored the first harbinger of rebellion, the recent tea parties. While it will be harder to ignore this massive anti-tax, anti-spending vote, they will attempt to do just that.

Voters in our largest state spoke unambiguously, but politicians and lobbyists in Sacramento are ignoring or rejecting the voters’ will, just as they are in Albany and Trenton. The states with huge government machines have basically moved beyond the control of the people. They have become castles of corruption, favoritism and wastefulness. These state governments are run by lobbyists for the various unions through bureaucracies seeking to impose the values of a militant left. Elections have become so rigged by big money and clever incumbents that the process of self-government is threatened.

Sacramento politicians will now reject the voters’ call for lower taxes and less spending and embrace the union-lobbyist-bureaucrat machine that is running California into the ground, crippling its economy and cheating residents. This model of high-tax, big-spending inefficiency has already driven thousands of successful Californians out of the state (taking with them an estimated $11 billion in annual tax revenue). The exodus will continue.

Gingrich points out that this anti-establishment mood is exactly what powered Ronald Reagan into office as his victory followed closely on the heels of the 1978 anti-property tax revolt in California that then swept the country.

And Newt has some choice words for the Democratic party and their bevy of unions, interest groups, and bureaucrats who are pushing states like California and New York into bankruptcy:

This system of ruining communities on behalf of interest groups first appeared in Detroit. Bad government, bad politicians and bad policies drove a city that had, in 1950, the highest per capita income of any large American city to No. 62 in per capita income as of 2007. The population has declined from 1.8 million to fewer than 950,000. Recently, 1,800 homes were sold for under $10,000 each. The human cost of bad politics and bad government in Detroit is staggering.

Now President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid want to impose on the nation this style of politics in which interest groups, politicians and bureaucracies dominate. Look at their record: a $787 billion stimulus no elected official had read, 8,000 earmarks, an Environmental Protection Agency plan to control the economy through carbon regulations, the government threatening retaliation against those who would protect their property rights against theft in the Chrysler bailout — again and again, this team is moving toward a government that owns the country rather than a government that is owned by the people.

Watch Sacramento politicians and interest groups work to overrule the people of California. Watch Albany politicians and interest groups continue to undermine the economy of New York. Watch the arrogance of the elites in Washington as they impose their costs and special deals on the American people.

Then look again at the 62 percent-plus majority in California in favor of smaller government and lower taxes.

In the great tradition of political movements rising against arrogant, corrupt elites, there will soon be a party of people rooting out the party of government. This party may be Republican; it may be Democratic; in some states it may be a third party. The politicians have been warned.

I find it interesting that Gingrich doesn’t play any favorites when it comes to bashing the establishment. Clearly, a GOP governor in California, not to mention Pataki’s terms in New York (which differs from Paterson’s reign only in the fact that George had an “R” after his name) matters little in his broad criticism that the political elites from both parties are dragging this nation down.

On my radio show the other night, Stacey McCain talked about  shifting the debate in the Republican party from moderate vs. conservative to elites vs. the grass roots. There, he said, is the real divide. The elites are ignoring the very people who elect them by promulgating policies that go against the principles and beliefs held by the base. In this, I somewhat agreed, pointing out that most politicians are forced to show at least some pragmatism or they would be voted out of office. Stacey countered that this doesn’t excuse their abandonment of small government, fiscally responsible policies that would mirror the desires of their constituents.

And that may be the key to bringing factions together. Washington and statehouse elites must find a way to compromise on issues without abandoning what should be their core beliefs. I have said many times that this would require give on the part of the base in that “small government,” while a desirable goal, is quantified in different ways, in different areas of the country. At the same time, elites have to recognize this populist feeling for what it is; a true demonstration of how the base feels about the direction that the elites are leading the country.

Gingrich strongly supports the tea party movement and ties it in with the California vote, citing these twin protests as evidence there may be a groundswell of anti-government sentiment waiting to be tapped.

Is he the politician to do it and by doing so, ride that wave all the way to the Oval Office? As for the former, I have no doubt. But if he runs, he will reopen old wounds as well as bare his private life which at times has been pretty sordid. Moreso than Clinton’s? No, but what does that matter when he will have the MSM gunning for him in ways they never went after Clinton.

All of this I’m sure he is taking into account as he ponders his future while directing his intellect and energies toward fighting Obama and his ruinous policies. In the end, he may find that he can be more effective outside the political arena than in it.

By: Rick Moran at 9:29 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (53)

5/21/2009
NOT SOCIALISM: GANGSTERISM

You may have missed this blog post at American Thinker a couple of days ago. Rush read it on the air and it got a little play - not nearly enough as it should, however. This “Letter from a Dodge Dealer” brings home in stark, human terms the cost of Obama’s power grabs and points up a fact that many may have dismissed or simply not recognized; when you’ve got a gun to your head, you’re even willing to destroy your family to save your own life.

That gun is being held by Obama’s auto team as it struggles to keep as many UAW jobs at Chrysler as possible regardless of whether the businesses involved get hurt. Case in point; George C. Joseph, sole owner of Sunshine Dodge-Isuzu in Melbourne Florida, a business that had been in his family for 35 years, who received the bad news that Chrysler was yanking his dealership agreement as part of their restructuring under the forced bankruptcy of the company ordered by the Obama auto team.

Mr. Joseph says that his dealership was “financially strong” and was seen as having “great respect in the market place and community.” He added, “We have strong local presence and stability.”

This was not enough to save Mr. Joseph or any of the other 788 dealers who are being dropped by the automaker. Beyond that, the “terms” of the break with Chrysler would no doubt have made Al Capone proud:

On Thursday, May 14, 2009 I was notified that my Dodge franchise, that we purchased, will be taken away from my family on June 9, 2009 without compensation and given to another dealer at no cost to them. My new vehicle inventory consists of 125 vehicles with a financed balance of 3 million dollars. This inventory becomes impossible to sell with no factory incentives beyond June 9, 2009. Without the Dodge franchise we can no longer sell a new Dodge as “new,” nor will we be able to do any warranty service work. Additionally, my Dodge parts inventory, (approximately $300,000.) is virtually worthless without the ability to perform warranty service. There is no offer from Chrysler to buy back the vehicles or parts inventory.

Our facility was recently totally renovated at Chrysler’s insistence, incurring a multi-million dollar debt in the form of a mortgage at Sun Trust Bank.

This is happening all over the country as this Chicago Trib article from May 17th explains:

But inside the 789 Chrysler showrooms to be cast aside, fear is starting to set in as dealers try to figure out what to do with expensive inventories that weren’t selling well even before the Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker entered bankruptcy protection last month.

“They’ve told us that the inventory is our problem,” said Keith Hollern, one of the owners of a Dodge dealer in Windber, Pa. “Want to buy one? We’re having a fire sale.”

Dealers borrow money to buy their inventories, then repay the loans and make a profit when the vehicles are sold. But Chrysler sales were down 46 percent the first four months of the year, so many dealers have been paying interest for months. Even if the vehicles are sold at cost, dealers still lose thousands in interest payments.

Chrysler doesn’t have the money to buy back the vehicles, said company spokeswoman Kathy Graham, but it also doesn’t want to leave dealers in a bind or see the inventory flood the market at bargain prices.

So it has signed a deal with GMAC Financial Services, Chrysler’s new finance company, to float loans to dealers that Chrysler plans to keep can take on the 789 dealers’ unsold inventory. The deal, though, doesn’t include about 4,000 2008 models still on the lots.

We are talking about around 44,000 cars that would need to be bought back. Are you trying to tell me that Obama can find the tens of billions of dollars to bail out his union buddies but can’t find one red cent to help the small businessman? Where is the logic that you must bail out the auto maker but allow the company that sells those cars to perish ignomiously?

Obama’s corporatism does not mean he is friendly to business but rather only to those businesses that can do him political good. Mr, Joseph asks the $64,000 question:

HOW IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CAN THIS HAPPEN?

THIS IS A PRIVATE BUSINESS NOT A GOVERNMENT ENTITY

This is beyond imagination! My business is being stolen from me through NO FAULT OF OUR OWN. We did NOTHING wrong.

This atrocity will most likely force my family into bankruptcy. This will also cause our 50+ employees to be unemployed. How will they provide for their families? This is a total economic disaster.

HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN IN A FREE MARKET ECONOMY IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?

It can happen because at the moment, the opposition forces are scattered, dispirited, and engaged in a fruitless quest to determine who is a “real” conservative and who is an Obama loving, free market hating, wimpy, squishy RINO.

It can happen because we are barking up the wrong tree when we accuse the Democrats of practicing socialism. Any Chicagoan recognizes what’s going on as pure gangsterism - the application of power through the use blackmail, threats, and pure muscle and the devil take the Constitution, the rule of law, and simple fairness.

It can happen because we’ve elected a president who aggrandizes power unto himself while running roughshod over individual rights.

It can happen because we are allowing it to happen. We are too busy, too worried about the economy, too frightened of the future, and too complacent about the idea that “It could never happen here.” It’s happening now and not enough of us are raising our voices in protest. Not enough of us are demanding that our politicians be held to account for meekly accepting Obama’s fait accomplis.

What can we do about it? Hope that most of Obama’s ruinous interventions can be reversed once people wake up to the fact that this is not about saving the free market, or curing the economy, or stimulating production, or anything else save the naked application of power by presidential fiat to further the ambitions of one man and his party. The automatic complaint that the right never protested Bush power grabs will ignore the fact that, while overreaching in many cases I believe, the Bush administration was seeking to restore a balance lost in Congressional power grabs of the 1970’s and early 80’s. Bush was not seeking new powers (in most cases) but rather to restore power to the executive lost when Congress usurped several presidential perogatives, especially relating to national security. Not a “unitary executive” but rather the restoration of the same powers exercised by presidents in war time from Washington through Nixon.

What Obama is doing is much, much different and on a scale that makes Bush look like a presidential power grabbing piker. The incredible amount of debt he is piling up has a purpose; to ensure federal intervention in the economy for the foreseeable future. It will also, no doubt, make more people dependent on government for their livelihood - a good reason to vote for the party that will promise to keep the spigot open and the dollars flowing.

The tea parties are a good start but obviously not enough. Obama is moving too fast, his reach will soon engulf bankrupt states like California and probably New York eventually. Only voters can stop him and the Democrats from turning this country into something that is unrecognizable to those of us who still believe that the Founders intended America to be different and not a pale imitation of some moribund European social demcracy.

We feel for Mr. Joseph. But Obama’s got the muscle to do pretty much anything he pleases. And that includes holding a gun to the head of Chrysler and making them an offer they can’t refuse.

By: Rick Moran at 10:41 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)