Right Wing Nut House


The Posner Challenge

Filed under: Blogging, History, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 11:48 am

Judge Richard Posner has written something of a vanilla essay, trying to answer the question “Is the Conservative Movement Losing Steam?”

I appreciate the fact hizzoner may have been a little busy since the November election and may have missed the 5,000 blog posts, articles, tweets, and books that not only noticed that very fact but have actually tried to find a cure for what ails the movement.

Nevertheless, any time someone of Judge Posner’s eminence and brilliance turns his attention to diagnosing the illness afflicting the right, we should pay attention if only to glean nuggets of truth from someone a whole helluva lot smarter than anyone reading this (or writing it for that matter).

No, we shouldn’t automatically accept as gospel what brainy people have to say. But given that Posner will no doubt be labled an “elitist” by the base for being cursed with the ability to view the world in an unemotional, analytic manner, I thought highlighting his views on the problems of conservatism would give them the exposure they deserve.

In essence, Posner makes the same point made by most pundits - conservatism is a victim of its own success:

By the end of the Clinton administration, I was content to celebrate the triumph of conservatism as I understood it, and had no desire for other than incremental changes in the economic and social structure of the United States. I saw no need for the estate tax to be abolished, marginal personal-income tax rates further reduced, the government shrunk, pragmatism in constitutional law jettisoned in favor of “originalism,” the rights of gun owners enlarged, our military posture strengthened, the rise of homosexual rights resisted, or the role of religion in the public sphere expanded. All these became causes embraced by the new conservatism that crested with the reelection of Bush in 2004.

My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation.

Yes, that just about covers it. I would niggle a bit with the good Judge in his example of global warming as evidence that will has been substituted for intellect. While there is something of a knee jerk reaction to the idea of man made climate change among many conservatives, there is also a solid, growing body of scientific evidence that skepticism with regards to global warming is well founded - even more so when one considers the “solutions” being offered.

That said, Posner has a couple of very interesting, and original causes for conservatism’s decline as an intellectual force.

The realization that, for all our expensive military hardware, not very much of it is useful on the modern battlefield, may be the most lasting and best lesson learned from our troubles in Iraq. Only a fool like Saddam will challenge us in the future to a stand up battle which makes a lot of the equipment we designed and built to fight the Soviet Union obsolete - and a waste of defense resources at that. Given the unholy deficits we will be running in the future, a massive contraction of defense spending is in the offing. National defense is one of the only budgetary items where savings in the hundreds of billions can be achieved and given the trillions of red ink Obama will be running, you can bet he will cut there before he goes after entitlements.

But have we learned the lesson that military force has its limits - again? One would have thought that after losing 55,000 men in Viet Nam, the lesson would not have needed repeating. Alas, we may be condemned to repeat this exercise in wasting blood and treasure as long as we seek to maintain superpower status.

Another interesting point made by Posner was “the neglect of management and expertise in government.” For a variety of reasons - some good, some horrible - George Bush insisted on staffing his government with cronies.

If you are going to make appointments of cronies, the least you can do is appoint competent ones. While many of Bush friends and supporters were people he could trust, a legitimate question could be asked as to how competent were many of them?

The evidence suggests that Bush appointed people who were not up to the tasks assigned to them. By sticking industry hacks into regulatory positions (a long and shameful list), the president put the foxes in charge of watching the very henhouses they were supposed to be regulating. There was cronyism and partisan appointments everywhere in government during the Bush years and efficiency suffered as a result.

But Posner’s real gripe - and the gripe of many less ideological conservatives - is that “the new conservatism [is] powered largely by emotion and religion and [has]for the most part weak intellectual groundings.”

Amen and Hallelujah. What Posner refers to as “new” conservatism (a term I will be shamelessly stealing from now on), calls on such intellectual luminaries as Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, and Beck, for sustenance. In this, the leading lights of the new conservatism dole out philosophy and rationale the way a Baskin Robbins ice cream server spoons whipped creme on to his concoctions. The result are that ideas and concepts with the heft of cotton candy, but extremely palatable to the narrow minded, are passed off as conservative dogma.

Religion has been confused with “traditional values” in order to justify the infallibility of many positions on social issues. Posner points specifically to abortion but might have also included gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, and the teaching of creationism in schools. And the slice of conservatism that also identifies itself as “evangelical” - influential beyond their numbers - makes these “values” the centerpiece of their political universe.

Judge Posner has correctly diagnosed most of what’s wrong with conservatism today. He makes mention in his article that the intellectual giants of the past or gone and few recognized public thinkers have stood up to take their place. That’s not to say they aren’t out there The question of when and how they will step forward to define a kind of “post-conservatism” that builds on the past while laying the groundwork for the future will be hard to answer as long as the right continues to wander aimlessly in the wilderness.



Filed under: Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:47 am

How Glennallen Walken got roped into playing a conservative boob who takes questions from “sincere” left wing readers at Salon I’ll never understand.

The money must be really good to prostitute oneself in such a way, playing the fool for a bunch of liberal swells. And I’m jealous as hell they didn’t ask me to do it first.

Regardless, Walken has a weekly “Advice to the Intellectually Challenged Liberal” column that answers questions from lefties who appear to get all their information about conservatives from Democratic party talking points or sites like Think Progress and Raw Story. I don’t know what’s more pathetic; Liberals asking questions that prove how clueless they are about the world around them or Walken feeling he has to answer their idiocies seriously. Either way, the unintentional comedic result goes so far over the head of Salon’s daily readers that it doesn’t even muss their hair on the way by.

Here’s a question from an earnest fellow who wants to know if conservatives have become a bunch of Luddites or if they’re just crazy:

Why has the Republican Party (and, it seems, a large portion of the conservative movement in general) embraced such an anti-science, anti-intellectual position? Growing up in a Republican household in the 1970s and ’80s, I was exposed to the likes of William F. Buckley, Jack Kemp and others who promoted the GOP as a party that could tackle issues intelligently. Basic sciences were supported, at least if seen as leading to improvements in business or defense.

Thirty years on, whatever intellectual elements that are left in the GOP seem to be drowned out by the likes of Limbaugh and Palin, who appear to be openly contemptuous of educated people. Senators such as James Inhofe sneer at any science that may challenge their worldview.

Is this mind-set now integral to the GOP and the conservative movement? Is there any path back to a party the embraces intelligence and scientific curiosity?

The second question along the same lines is equally bizarre - as if the questioners were asking about some weird species of slug that emerged from underneath a rotten log:

Are conservatives really anti-science? This would seem to be an odd position to hold, especially as you seem otherwise so keen on industry, commerce, business and enterprise. But this is what we conclude from attempts to restrict the teaching of evolution in public schools, denial (and outright denigration) of climate change, and the ridicule poured on anyone with any thoughts on how to minimize the damage being done to the environment. Sometimes it seems like Luddism; sometimes it seems like you haven’t even noticed that you are attacking the basic laws of biology and physics in order to keep the tortuous logic for some ideological convictions going.

As Walken patiently explains, the party that committed this country to SDI, renewing a push for nuclear power, using new technologies to drill for offshore oil while we fund research into alternative energy, and vastly increasing funding for the bread and butter of science; basic research, can hardly be called anti-science unless you ignore the facts and substitute an alternate narrative.

The meme “conservatives oppose funding for stem cell research” is a case in point. During the Bush years, there was no limit on federal funding for adult stem cell research and there was, in fact, funding of embryonic stem cell research based on lines already culled prior to the Bush decision of 2001.

How this morphed into “conservatives oppose funding for all stem cell research” is a textbook case of how the media advances Democratic party talking points at the expense of the truth. In a society with an unbiased media, that talking point would have been shot down long ago instead of being accepted as conventional wisdom.

But Walken does miss the boat on two issues that show conservatives to be if not anti-science, then certainly anti-rationalist. On Climate Change, Walken rightly points out the abandonment of scientific objectivity by liberals:

To conclude, conservatives are not anti-science or anti-technology. If anyone is anti-science it is the global warming, excuse me, global climate change extremists who, ignoring the holes in their own theories and the inconsistencies in their own projections, are willing to cripple U.S. industrial manufacturing, energy production and the economy in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions.

What Walken doesn’t take on is the exact same attitude on the part of Climate Change deniers - most of whom are conservatives - who refuse to accept any data that contradicts their idea that man made global warming is a leftist conspiracy and a fraud. This attitude, personified by Senator James Inhofe, is as damaging to the scientific method as anything the Climate Change proponents have ever done.

I wish there could be a legitimate debate over evidence of man made climate change but that will never happen. Hence, we are all left describing what we “believe” about global warming, pro or con, rather than what the scientific evidence in its totality proves to us. Selective reading of media stories on climate change gives fodder to both sides and is worse than useless because it presents a false, misleading picture of the confusing nature of the scientific process.

It doesn’t help that global warming proponents in the scientific community have the backing of interests that care much less about future climate change than the fact that they relish the opportunity such a “crisis” engenders by allowing them to promulgate draconian measures that would give them virtual control of the west’s economies.

Being a climate change denier does not automatically make you anti-science - unless you have closed your mind to contradictory data that prevents you from examining the issue in a rational manner. And here is where I believe the excessively ideological conservative base gives conservatism as a whole a bad rep on science. Using global warming skepticism as a litmus test to determine who truly is a conservative, the base has abandoned rationalism in favor of seeing the issue of climate change through a political prism as skewed as their opponents.

And Climate Change isn’t the only issue on the right where litmus tests are administered instead of leaning on rationalism to examine scientific issues. There is a fairly small but very vocal minority of conservatives who go absolutely bonkers every time someone mentions “evolution” or “Darwin.” A smaller subset of this group wishes to turn our public schools into purveyors of myth masquerading as “science” by trying to get local school boards to teach creationism or, it’s poor relation “Intelligent Design” in the same curricula that teaches evolution.

“Letting the kids decide for themselves” whether evolution or creationism should be the accepted theory of how life arose on earth and how humans came into being is a little like asking the kids to decide whether the earth is round or flat. If you wish to believe in creationism, fine. Why the Christian belief in how the earth got started is any more viable than say, the Hindu belief or even Native American creation myths escapes me. Seems if we’re going to teach creationism, we have to include all the other religious creation myths as well if not to be fair then at least so that we can “let the kids decide for themselves” what they want to believe.

Mentioning evolution in a favorable way automatically brands one as a suspect conservative in some quarters of the conservative base. Not all, of course. But it is a sizable enough and vocal enough minority as to make it appear to the public at large (thanks to a media that blows these incidents out of proportion) that at the very least, conservatives have rejected rationalism and are promoting the naked advancement of the Christian religion in public schools.

Conservatives are not anti-science - not by a long shot. But by not recognizing that excessively ideological positions that reject scientific rationalism outright in favor of a narrow, rigid interpretation of data that feeds preconceived political notions, conservatives fall into the exact same trap that their equally ideological opponents have set for themselves.

Sticking to one’s principles is great. But doing so while abandoning rational thinking and substituting emotion for logic only shows that some in the conservative base are not only irrational, but anti-intellectual as well. For when you abandon critical thinking in favor of groupthink; when you toss away an open mind and substitute rigid ideology, you lose your most cherished possession - an independent, rational mind.



Filed under: Culture, Star Trek — Rick Moran @ 10:53 am


Today is the big day for Trekies of all ages as the newest installment in the film series opens in more than 3,800 theaters.

Entitled simply Star Trek, the film will fill in some blanks about the young adulthood of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the cast. There will also apparently be a satisfying continuity with the original series as Kirk’s mentor will be Captain Christopher Pike, a character in the original pilot as well as a two part episode in the first season based on the pilot.

Taking a look at the cast, except for Eric Bana who plays a character with the decidedly Trekie name of “Nero,” (Roddenberry loved classical allusions in his creation), the original Spock Leonard Nimoy, and Ben Cross, I am unfamiliar with the players.

This is just as well. It allows me to watch the film and not be distracted by wondering why what’s-his-name was cast in an important role.

It was 1966 when the original Star Trek series debuted. That’s 43 years of watching and internalizing an absorbing universe that has captured the imagination of people around the world. It is an astonishing record of longevity - a franchise, rivaled only by the James Bond series of films.

There have been 10 films based on the characters created in 5 television series that had varying degrees of success. (See John Nolte’s ranking of the films that he started today along with my own attempt at analyzing the best of them here.)

Why has the mythos of Star Trek endured? The original series with Captain Kirk and Spock was an uneven attempt to bring sci-fi to series television. I say uneven because few of the plots actually dealt with standard sci-fi themes. James Doohan, who played Scotty in that series once famously remarked that the original series resembled a western set in outer space.

But there were certainly several memorable shows written by legitimate sci fi authors like Harlan Ellison, Theodore Sturgeon, and David Gerrold (”Trouble with Tribbles”).

Subsequent incarnations of the show did much better with time-space irregularities and other staples of science fiction. But aliens were almost always humans with weird ears or noses - a handicap made even worse by the fact the English seemed to be the universal language of the galaxy.

No matter. Those of us who are fans suspended belief for the hour long episodes that portrayed a society that was something of a radical utopia: The elimination of most violence, no money, everyone does what they want, one assumes free food and medical care - all the stuff dreamed of by Utopians in America for more than 2 centuries.

This is where I believe Star Trek captures each succeeding generation and is the key to its hold on our culture.

Many say the universe developed by series creator Gene Roddenberry reflected his belief in radical leftist politics which, at the time, manifested itself in groups of young people setting up “communes” across southern California where experiments in communal living (including “free love”) thrived for a time in the late 1960’s.

This may be so. There are certainly all the elements of pure socialism in Roddenberry’s human society of the 24th century as this excellent essay on Federation society points out:

Determinism: On the whole, biology dictates behavior. Humans are the race most capable of free thought and action, and have the most cultural diversity. Other races are stereotypical. All members of a given alien race share the same culture, beliefs, and personality traits. For example, all Ferengi are shifty and greedy, and believe in the Rules of Acquisition. Aliens who spend a lot of time with humans (example: Nog) sometimes acquire the human capacity to break stereotype. (Editor’s note: cultural contamination in in Star Trek is a one way street. Vulcans can learn to emote after enough exposure to humans (eg. Spock, Tuvok), but humans don’t become more logical after exposure to Vulcans. Klingons can become more ethical after exposure to humans (eg. Worf), but humans don’t become more aggressive after exposure to Klingons. Ferengi can become less materialistic after exposure to humans (eg. Nog), but humans don’t become more materialistic after exposure to Ferengi. After all, we’ve figured out the one true and righteous path, right? Sounds like the cultural self-satisfaction of Columbus and other murderous European conquerors).

F. Socialism. All people should work according to their abilities and receive resources according to their needs. Individual achievement is recognized socially but not rewarded materially. Individual freedom is not important. Economy should be centrally planned by the government, since they know best who needs what. Commerce and competition are necessary evils. The profit motive is evil. Social problems are caused by scarcity and/or unjust distribution of material goods, but modern technology renders competition for resources obsolete. Federation citizens have access to all the material things they need thanks to the Federation government, so they are free to be truly happy and to maximize their human potential.

But before we condemn Roddenberry for promoting Communism, let us examine another possibility - one based on history and all-American thinking - that would explain his vision in terms that are friendlier (although no less preposterous) than some addle-brained attempt to bring to life a Marxist paradise.

The “perfectibility of man” is a fairly recent concept in civilization, advanced by early Christian thinkers like St. Augustine who believed that the path to perfection was through God, an individualistic view of perfection. The Enlightenment philosophers didn’t reject that notion entirely but included the possibility that science and technology would eventually make the perfect society (Engel’s “scientific socialism” was related but a different animal).

Ideas on what defined “perfect” evolved also. But I think Roddenberry’s vision is informed more by Enlightenment thinking than Marxism. The society governed by the Federation echoes transcendentalist efforts at creating a Utopia at Brook Farm rather than Marx.

An atheist, Roddenberry was a near fanatic about keeping God out of his creations. But the philosophy Picard talks about in First Contact has a spirituality that cannot be ignored. He speaks of a world where there is no hunger, no poverty, no money, and that the desire for material goods has been replaced by a drive to improve oneself. This sounds almost monkish in its implications for a society.

Star Trek society is unreal because if given the opportunity offered in Federation governed earth, man would simply waste away in pursuit of the sensual. Indeed, it seems remarkable that we would have overcome the tendency to allow our baser instincts to prevail in a scant 400 years of evolution. First Contact tries to tie this fundamental alteration of the human condition to our making first contact with the Vulcans and realizing “we are not alone.” One would think that if the recently concluded nuclear war in that movie that killed hundreds of millions didn’t do the trick then why would meeting an alien have much effect?

But such inconsistencies and outrageous postulations about future humans don’t seem to stop Trekies from embracing the society created by Roddenberry and his successors. I believe this is because at bottom, Star Trek speaks to the adolescent in all of us who pine for a society where money is not necessary to enjoy luxuries, chores are optional, and everyone seems to have a teenager’s fantasy outlook on sex; everyone does it whenever they want with whomever they choose and with no messy consequences.

The serial alien girlfriends of Kirk in the original series, the love interests of many of the crew on Voyager, the Lotharian antics of Ryker on NextGen - the writers even going so far as to create a pleasure planet called Risa and a society of mental adolescents that engage in sex like rabbits — the attitude toward sex in Federation society is decidedly free and easy. This is not to say it is necessarily immoral, just that it bespeaks a society that any hormone addled adolescent would love to live in.

The attraction of Federation society does not bear up well if one were to apply critical thinking skills to the consequences of what such a community would mean if it were real. What about criminal behavior> Or a desire not to be educated, or even what would happen if one simply wants to strum a Vulcan lyre all day instead of contributing anything useful to the Federation?

Lacking these critical thinking skills, adolescents simply accept the premises of Federation society that are presented to them. And when we grow up, our fascination with the Star Trek world is partly due, I think, to taking a nostalgic trip back to our teenage years when we had no responsibilities and we weren’t stuck in jobs we hate because we had to make a living. Responsibilities on the Enterprise are not a burden, they are a joy. Who wouldn’t want to fly around in space, killing aliens, discovering fascinating new worlds instead of facing the day to day drudgery that defines most of our lives?

Transporting ourselves into the Star Trek universe then, becomes an exercise in adult fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to have a drink with Scotty or play a game of chess with Spock, or sit down for a discussion of archeology with Picard? And who wouldn’t want a date with Troi or Seven of Nine?

Yes, Federation society is based on simple minded principles. But that doesn’t make imagining living in that time and with those characters any less fun, does it? That will always be the basis for the eternal popularity of the series and the movies; visualizing an impossible future but living it with fun, interesting, and attractive people.

Judging by the slam bang opening predicted for the newest movie this weekend, the franchise appears to have rekindled enthusiasm for the whole Star Trek universe. And the adolescent in all of us is pleased.



Filed under: Politics, Tenth Amendment — Rick Moran @ 10:36 am

TENTH AMENDMENT: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Does the US Constitution give the federal government the right to dictate to a state how long it must supply unemployment compensation insurance? Or where it must spend its money on health care? Or how it runs its welfare programs?

It’s called “The Forgotten Amendment” for good reason. While everyone waxes poetic about their love for the Bill of Rights - the first ten amendments to the Constitution - some of us are very selective in which of those amendments we actually recognize and support.

While the left can bore you to death telling you how much they adore the First Amendment and how only the most expansive interpretation of it can be accepted, something sticks in their throat when applying the exact same rationale to the Second Amendment. Here, only the narrowest of definitions should be used (”Militia” means militia, goddamnit!).

And when it comes to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, liberals have thrown a cloak of invisibility over them. If they have to talk abut them, it is usually to accuse the proponents of these building blocks of federalism of being closet Kluxers. “States rights” has a malodorous stench attached to the concept due to the justification for Jim Crow by southern racists in pre-civil rights days where these misunderstood amendments were used to assert the sovereignty of the state to order its own affairs.

There is no denying this. But should this historical truth necessarily forever and in every circumstance delegitimize those who wish to assert the view that those powers not enumerated in the Constitution are reserved for the states and individuals? Should this be the only definition of states rights — that it means a roll back of civil rights gains?

Obviously, the left wishes to pimp that notion till it cries uncle. Here’s Ed Kilgore doing just that in a post yesterday:

As someone just old enough to remember the last time when politicians in my home southern region made speeches rejecting the Supremacy Clause and the 14th amendment, I may take this sort of activity more seriously than some. But any way you slice it, Republicans are playing with some crazy fire. For all the efforts of its sponsors to sell the “sovereignty resolution” idea as a grassroots development flowing out of the so-called Tea Party Movement, its most avid supporters appear to be the John Birch Society and the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor to the White Citizens Councils of ill-fame. And given the incredibly unsavory provenance of this “idea,” it’s no surprise that these extremist groups are viewing the “movement” as an enormous vindication of their twisted points of view.

If John C. Calhoun offered the definitive articulation of the nullification theory, his nemesis, President Andrew Jackson, offered the definitive response, which holds true today. He said the doctrine was “incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.”

This wildly exaggerated notion that the Tenth Amendment Movement is largely the creation of Birchers and Kluxers is ridiculous on its face. Neither of those groups has the organization or wherewithal to ramrod an effort that has seen resolutions asserting state sovereignty introduced in 35 states.

Further, bring up Jim Crow is a gigantic strawman. The drive to pass these measures is animated largely by the Democratic Stimulus Bill that is mandating wholesale changes to state law and in some cases, violating state constitutions with mandates for which there will be no funding once federal money is cut off.

Looking at the stim bill last March, Ronald Rotunda writing in the Chicago Tribune pointed out that the federal government was reserving for itself almost unlimited power to dictate to the states:

Because some governors might not accept the money, Congress added a unique provision, in subsection 1607(b): “If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State.”

If state law does not give the state legislature the right to bypass the governor, how can Congress just change that law? Where does Congress get the power to change a state constitution?

It might appear quaint to note that the U.S. Constitution does not create a central government of unlimited powers. Congress only has those powers that the Constitution gives it either expressly or by implication. That’s a lot of power, to be sure, but it’s not unlimited.

Kilgore and his ilk are throwing around terms like “nullification” when in actuality, the states only wish to continue to exercise authority in those areas that they have traditionally been granted the power to do so by the Constitution.

It is the federal government that is trying to change things, not the states.

This is not about civil rights, or nullification, or secession, or any other bugaboo with which liberals are trying to smear and besmirch the efforts of state sovereignty supporters. And since the left is positing the ridiculous notion that the exercise of 10th amendment rights by the states threatens the republic, then one is left with the real reason for their gripe; they object to the concept of federalism as it was envisioned by the Founders.

We all know about “enumerated powers” expressed in the Constitution itself. No one is arguing with those. It is the “reserved powers” justified by the “necessary and proper” clause in the the Constitution that are at issue. What “implied” powers does the federal government possess? Liberals seem to be saying that those powers are defined by Congress and the feds alone — anything Congress wants to do relative to the exercise of state powers, it can do.

This is what the Tenth Amendment Movement is seeking to fix; a constitutional basis for the exercise of state authority in matters clearly not the business of the federal government.

Can Congress mandate that states increase the number of weeks that an unemployed worker can receive benefits without also paying for it? Whether you happen to think this is a good idea or not (and I think it was necessary in these hard times), the question of whether Congress can mandate such a change in state law - especially since once the stim bill money is cut off, the states are responsible for increasing taxes to pay for the measure - becomes a matter of state power versus federal power.

Wasn’t the Tenth Amendment designed to keep the federal government from dictating in such a manner to the states while preventing the feds from overriding state law? I am not a constitutional scholar but it makes sense to me that even an expansive, broad minded reading of the Constitution would get into trouble when trying to justify such actions.

I accept the notion of federal primacy where civil rights are concerned, as well as regulatory authority relating to the health and safety of Americans. But as Professor Rotunda mentioned above, this authority has its limits. And the supporters of the Tenth Amendment Movement are seeking to define those limits to prevent the power grab being made by this Democratic Congress and Administration, using the excuse of an economic crisis to aggrandize power unto themselves at the expense of the traditional rights of the state and individuals.

There are several angles that the Tenth Amendment Movement is beginning to play out across the land. In Montana, the state legislature is seeking to assert sovereignty over a limited interpretation of gun rights:

In a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the state is asserting that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background check and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed.

That notion is all but certain to be tested in court.

The immediate effect of the law could be limited, since Montana is home to just a few specialty gun makers, known for high-end hunting rifles and replicas of Old West weapons, and because their out-of-state sales would automatically trigger federal control.

Still, much bigger prey lies in Montana’s sights: a legal showdown over how far the federal government’s regulatory authority extends.

It is fighting federal mandates on state spending that is driving this movement forward, not Bircher paranoia or hopes by the Klan to return to the days of Jim Crow. And how this issue is finally settled will decide the fate of federalism and with it, the limits on power we wish to see on the federal government.

We are a federal republic. It’s about time we started acting like one again.



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:26 am

Richard Hofstadter was once referred to by George Will as “the iconic public intellectual of liberal condescension,” largely because one of his more popular works, the essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” took direct aim at flyover country and some of the more outlandish conspiracy theories that flourished at the time. (The essay still makes good reading, if only because Hofstadter was an excellent writer and captured the essence of the “Red Scare” so well.)

In truth, from what I know of Hofstadter and his work (largely through criticisms penned by conservative historians), he had that maddening tone in his writing that he was privy to a great truth and that only those who accepted his premises and agreed with his reasoning could grasp it. (If you are truly interested in tracing the history of conspiracy, Daniel Pipes excellent study Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From is a must read.)

Conspiracies flourish among the ignorant, the uneducated, and the oppressed according to Pipes. The Arab world lives on conspiracy. Governments find it advantageous to promote them in order to deflect criticism for the wretched conditions of their citizens.

For a while, the conspiracy culture in America was little seen or heard. Following the banishment of the John Birch Society from mainstream conservatism, modern paranoids were left without a mouthpiece to reach the population at large. They were indeed confined to the fringes where they argued incessantly among themselves in their little known journals and magazines while the world moved forward.

It is unfair to confine the paranoid style to the right as Hofstadter tried to do. Even while he was writing his essay describing it, there was the left wing fringe that saw Nazis in Washington and tried to connect the Rothschilds and the Jews to a shadowy international finance conspiracy that used the now debunked Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a factual text. (Both right and left loved that one.)

But for many years, it really didn’t matter because the fringe of both right and left were never given the opportunity to reach the public at large due to the control of media by the few. You might hear some Kluxer spouting nonsense on a small radio station somewhere or find a copy of The New American littering the floor of some public restroom. But by and large, the fringes were relegated to the, well, fringes.

All that changed with the advent of the internet, of course. Now, every manner of conspiracy nut has crawled out from underneath their rocks and polluted our discourse. Their ranting forms the background of internet chatter. A decade ago it was Vince Foster and Ron Brown, cocaine cartels, murder for hire, and other malfeasance by Bill and Hillary Clinton that garnered unwarranted attention.

Then it was Bush’s turn; war to enrich Bush’s cronies, Haliburton, the draft, detention sites for liberals - all made the greatest conspiracy hits on the left. Whether it was because the internet had become more pervasive, these lefty memes actually hit mainstream sites like Daily Kos, Oliver Willis, MyDD and the like.

Indeed, there are now two conspiracy theories that have gone nearly mainstream and have actually entered the consciousness of American citizens. The 9/11 Truthers - despite enormous evidence to the contrary that debunks every single one of their theories - are coloring people’s attitudes about that event. The pushback against the Truthers has been very heartening to see and it may be that the tide will eventually turn toward rationality.

But what do you do about a conspiracy theory like the Obama “Birthers?” Or the “Trig Truthers?” The former doesn’t believe Obama is eligible to be president because he hasn’t released a “birth certificate” stating he is a “natural born citizen.” The only possible conclusion that can be drawn, according to the Birthers, is that Obama was born elsewhere and there is a gigantic coverup to keep the information under wraps.

As with the 9/11 Truthers, facts don’t matter to these people and indeed, only serve to enrage them. Neither do facts seem to matter to the Trig Truthers whose most prominent booster, former conservative supporter of George Bush Andrew Sullivan, has labored long and hard to “prove” that little Trig Palin is not the child of Sarah Palin but of her 17 year old daughter Bristol. (This hilarious Vanity Fair timeline ices the case, that Trig is Sarah’s baby but Sullivan, weirdly, continues his quest to award the child to Bristol).

Lots of folks are enraged at Sullivan. But Sully has shown his unfitness for rational thought on a variety of subjects besides his obvious disdain for common sense in the Trig matter. Others, like torture, I believe he has been spot on.

But Sullivan telling conservatives that they have to totally cut themselves loose from talk show hosts and pop conservatives like Ann Coulter in order to regain their soul is downright strange. And it shows why he is so oblivious to the fool he is making of himself over the Trig Truther issue:

Take yours truly. I’m not a Democrat and if pushed, I’d have to say right now I’m a libertarian independent. I’m uneasy about Obama’s long-term debt, to say the least, but I’m intelligent enough to know it’s not Obama’s as such, but mainly Bush’s, and I’m also cognizant that the time to cut back may not be in the middle (or beginning) of a brutal depression. On most issues, I side with what used to be the center-right, but the GOP is poison to me and many others. Why?

Their abandonment of limited government, their absurd spending under Bush, their contempt for civil liberties, their rigid mindset, their hostility to others, their worship of the executive branch, their contempt for judicial checks, their cluelessness with racial minorities and immigrants, their endorsement of torture as an American value, their homophobia, their know-nothing Christianism, and the sheer vileness of their leaders - from the dumb-as-a-post Steele to the brittle, money-grubbing cynic, Coulter and hollow, partisan neo-fascist Hannity.

I’m waiting for the first leading Republican to do to these grandstanding goons what Clinton once did to the extremists in his own ranks: reject them, excoriate them, remind people that they do not have a monopoly on conservatism and that decent right-of-center people actually find their vision repellent. And then to articulate a positive vision for taking this country forward, expanding liberty, exposing corruption, reducing government’s burden, unwinding ungovernable empire, and defending civic virtue without going on Jihads against other people’s vices.

If today’s “conservatives” spent one tenth of the time saying what they were for rather than who they’re against, they might get somewhere. But the truth is: whom they hate is their core motivation right now. That’s how they define themselves. And as long as they do, Americans will rightly and soundly reject them.

Sully is “uneasy” over Obama’s long term debt but blames Bush? He is blaming Obama’s predecessor for deficits 10 years down the road?

See what I mean by strange? I believe any reasonably informed individual could easily correct Sullivan by pointing out that the $11 trillion in debt (best case scenario) - the “long term debt” that Andrew is “uneasy” about but that he blames on Bush - is a direct result of the president’s budget proposals for which he, and he alone, is responsible. But Sully’s Obama worship has unbalanced him to the point that he apes the worst blindness to incompetence of the Bushbots he railed against for years. It can’t be his hero’s fault.

Sullivan’s wildly exaggerated, insulting, misinformed, and I suspect deliberately misconstrued critique of Republicans is typical of someone who ignores facts, eschews logic and reason, and abandons rationality while embracing a kooky conspiracy theory about the origins of a baby.

His rant defines Hofstadter’s other major contribution to paranoid political analysis by revealing Sullivan is suffering from the idea of the “First Party System” where fear that the “other party” will destroy the country dominates. Calling Sean Hannity a “neo-fascist” is remarkably silly, on the order of calling Bill Clinton a murderer. Sullivan isn’t just exaggerating. He has allowed hysteria to overtake his faculties so that what appears to any rational human as gross hyperbole strikes him, I’m sure, as reasonable analysis.

He is asking for a “Sister Souljah” moment from leading Republicans who listen to Rush, Coulter, Hannity (a neo-fascist? C’mon Andrew), and the rest of the cotton candy conservative brigade. I take a back seat to no one in urging my conservative friends to wean themselves from these pop conservative’s idea of “conservative philosophy” but neither do I believe it necessary to castrate them. All I and other pragmatists are asking for is putting these jokers in their proper place and take them for what they are; entertainers. Their popularity is a symptom of the dearth of leadership on the right at the moment. And I suspect once that situation is resolved, Limbaugh and his ilk will fade in influence and importance.

Sullivan is not interested in saving the right from itself, of course. His rhetoric has now wholly devolved into the childish mutterings of leftist paranoids who see “Christianists” on a par with Islamists and “hate mongering” from those who criticize liberal policies. It has brought him fame, a good living, and a seat at the table with the big boys.

I wonder if they realize how far out there on the fringe he truly is?



Filed under: The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 4:03 pm

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

Tonight, it’s another all American Thinker night as my friends Rich Baehr and Ed Lasky join me to talk about the recent AIPAC gathering and some political pastiche.

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

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

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

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

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio


Filed under: Blogging, GOP Reform, Government, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 11:05 am

From long time commenter and center left Obama lover Michael Reynolds left on my post yesterday about Reagan’s toleration for moderates in the GOP:

Rick, you’re an atheist living in sin. You’re a rational man. You believe in evolution and understand that gay rights are coming, like it or not. You don’t think torture is fun. You’re not ant-intellectual. Why are you a Republican?

Seriously. Why are you a Republican?

Rick, I don’t think “Republican” means what you think it means. Maybe it used to. But it doesn’t anymore. Your “Republican” is dead and buried. You’re part of a small and despised minority within what used to be your party. They hate you worse than they hate people like me. They want you to go away. They want you out of their party.

You can’t toady them enough to make them love you. You can abuse liberals all you like, it won’t make any difference to the wingnuts because they are fanatics and you are not and they will never, ever, ever accept you back into what used to be your party but is now theirs.

Face it Rick: you’re not a Republican.

You would get no argument from half (or more) of the commenters who shared their thoughts with me on that post. But allow me to answer that and several ancillary questions while debunking some surprisingly ignorant myths and suppositions about what moderate conservatives believe.

First of all, let’s dispense with the term “moderate.” I much prefer “pragmatist” or even “rationalist” although the latter is a belief system all its own and not generally applied to a set of political precepts or principles.

“Realist” doesn’t cut it either because I think that a lot of conservatives are “realists” in the sense that they have created a false reality and define their politics according to a skewed and often paranoid world view. Please don’t try to tell me they don’t exist because they pollute the comments section of this and other blog sites with their “Obama is deliberately tanking the economy so he and his communist friends can establish a dictatorship,” memes.

If you can’t see that’s a false reality which is a little twisted and paranoid, you need a new pair of glasses.

A related question to Michael’s query is why bother? My demise as a blogger and as someone who has lost even the minuscule amount of notoriety as a political commenter that I once possessed can be traced directly to my calling out conservatives for being too rigid, too ideological, and beholden to who I refer to as “pop conservatives” of the Rush, Glenn Beck, and Ann Coulter variety.

To my mind, I had only one choice; fight for what I believe to be the correct course for conservatism and the GOP. There simply isn’t an alternative. There might be a half dozen Democrats in the country I could ever vote for so switching parties is out. And I am not one to throw away my vote and cast a ballot for libertarians who I find remarkably obtuse anyway. So it’s either shut up or fight. I chose the latter.

So let’s go with “pragmatist” to describe the kind of conservative who I believe is in big trouble in the Republican party. The reason? A lack of “fire in the belly,” when it comes to the ideology espoused by many on the right. It’s not enough to agree with these conservatives; you must “believe” wholeheartedly and beyond that, attempt to destroy your opponents. “No retreat, no surrender,” is their motto and if such an attitude results in harm to the country, so be it.

Now I like a good cock fight with a liberal any day. And frankly, they present such a lovely target most of the time that it is sometimes impossible not to make fun of them - their “riot of conceits” as R. Emmett Tyrell refers to their own ideological excesses. But I have come to realize that neither ideological extreme has a corner on truth nor do the ideological right and the left understand that there is more to politics than the exercise of raw power.

Politics is a means to an end. And for me, that end is applying broad conservative philosophical principles to the art of governing so that a just and moral society is created, which is adequately protected from those both at home and abroad who would do it harm, and that those unable to fend for themselves are cared for.

That last doesn’t sound very conservative. But we as a nation rejected social Darwinism during the last great economic upheaval 80 years ago. Overturning the New Deal (or some of the social programs initiated over the last 40 years) may be the goal of some of the radicals on the right but it will never, ever happen. I firmly believe that most social programs that aid the poor can be improved immensely by applying conservative principles like prudence, self reliance, and fiscal discipline to their operation. Other government assistance programs can devolve to the states where they can be run more efficiently.

Is that apostasy? Or simple pragmatism?

I want a government as conservative as can realistically be achieved without destroying it. And frankly, there are some on the right who scare me with their callous disregard for the effect on ordinary people some of their plans to dismantle the welfare state would bring about.

As a conservative, I don’t think that government should be “empathetic.” It should, however, work as well as any utility we use such as phone, electric, or gas. (A government that operated the way my cable company is run would have experienced several bloody revolutions.) Recognizing that the state has a role to play in the economy, in maintaining social stability, in protecting the weak from society’s predators - all of this fits very comfortably into a pragmatic conservative’s worldview.

We live in a nation of 300 million people - the majority of whom do not agree with many conservative ideologues who think the government is the enemy and should be dismantled to effect what Jefferson wanted; a “government that governs least governs best.”

The Sage of Monticello said that at a time when there were barely 6 million Americans (2 million in bondage). There was no IBM or AIG or any other multinational corporation whose interests sometimes conflicted with those of the American economy. There were no companies who deliberately poisoned the air and the water. There was little crime. There were no unions to hold up small businessmen or companies that would knowingly place their employees in dangerous situations because it was cheaper than protecting them.

There are a million reasons we need government and conservatives rarely offer any rationale for it beyond national defense. Some, like my friend Ed Morrissey, wish to establish some kind of “Super Federalism” where states could handle environmental concerns, workers’ safety, aid to the poor, road building, and other government functions currently handled from Washington.

In principle, I can’t disagree - especially if there was even a chance of it working. But as a practical matter, most of Ed’s vision is unattainable. Certainly a much better effort should be made to find those federal government functions that the state’s could take over. Some programs that aid the poor would no doubt be more efficiently run at the state level. But in the end, most federal programs are run out of Washington because the states are unable or unwilling to take the responsibility.

This is not to say that you cannot apply conservative principles to manage the behemoth. And recognition of that singular fact is what separates the ideologues from the pragmatists.

To say that moderates or pragmatists don’t have a set of principles that guide their politics is just plain wrong. The same principles that animate the ideologues inform the opinions of pragmatists as well. The difference is in how one interprets those principles as they relate to one’s worldview, which is informed by different criteria for all of us. Our own life experiences shape the interpretation of principles and, depends on temperament, personality, and perhaps even how open we are to new and different ideas.

I am not saying there is “flexibility” when it comes to principle in that they are at the core of all of our beliefs and in a semiotic way, their meaning is set in stone. But I think a pragmatist has a more expansive view in relating those principles to how the real world works. Principles are not meant to engender absolutism but ultimately, that is the trap into which the ideologues fall.

I have said before (and will keep making the point) that there is a difference between ideology and philosophical principles. Excessive ideology leads to putting those principles in a strait jacket, where all issues and personalities are judged according to a very rigid set of definitions. When reality proves elusive to these definitions, the rationale to describe them stretches beyond comprehension. Hence, both right and left ideologues are constantly forced to twist themselves into logic pretzels to defend themselves.

We have been taught since high school civics class that compromise is necessary in a democracy. But there are some issues where no compromise is possible; abortion, gay marriage, perhaps war and peace, and certainly most of the statist, collectivist solutions this administration is trying to implement in order to “fix” the economy. For conservatives, those issues are “no go” zones and I agree that a stand must be taken and battles fought to preserve a free market economy not to mention simple, human liberty.

But to posit the notion that no rapprochement with the opposition is ever possible, that compromise is a dirty word akin to being a traitor, and working with your political enemy is a sign that you aren’t a real Republican is ridiculous - as is the idea that if we let liberals get everything they want and the country goes to hell, conservatives will be swept back to power.

That is fantasy, of course. Some Republicans have to act responsibly and help govern the country. Otherwise, you end up with a situation such as we see with the “climate change” bill with the far left trying to compromise with the not so far left and everybody loses.

You don’t win by not playing the game. Yes, there will be instances where the Democrats shove the efforts at bi-partisanship back in the GOP’s faces. So what? And what do I care that the Democrats have fewer pragmatists or “moderates” than the GOP. What has that got to do with anything? Do you want to ape the absolute worst qualities of your opponent? Not smart.

If nothing else, you can recognize the fact that whoever you define as “moderate” (with obvious exceptions) have principles they adhere to just as conservatives do. The ideologues and close minded galoots will never understand this because they “mirror judge” everyone, holding the glass up to see if their own ideology reflects back at them. But for the rest of you, I would hope that you grant us pragmatists the benefit of our convictions.



Filed under: GOP Reform, PJ Media, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 12:47 pm

My latest article is up at Pajamas Media and it’s already attracted the usual cast of thick headed numbskulls who think that “moderate” is a dirty word.

A sample:

RNC Chairman Michael Steele is trying. But his comments at a recent party conclave in Wisconsin point up the difficulty in translating that idea into any kind of practical program:

“All you moderates out there, y’all come. I mean, that’s the message,” Steele said at a news conference. “The message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. I have a place setting with your name on the front.

“Understand that when you come into someone’s house, you’re not looking to change it. You come in because that’s the place you want to be.”

Eh … OK. Everyone can come in and sit down for the feast but if you are pro-choice, or pro-gay marriage, or pro-amnesty, kindly realize that no one is going to listen to you so you might as well keep your mouth shut. Meanwhile, your cousins and other relations can publicly chastise you for your different opinions, actively seek to undermine your re-election by running a primary challenger against you, deny you party support, and will stay at home on election day so a Democrat will probably defeat you anyway.

One jamoke in the comments:

Sorry, Rick. That’s nonsense.

Try being a Democrat today with some positions, shall we say, somewhat center-or-right of Kos.

You are political dog meat.

The hogwash you put forth is the Meggy McCain “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” mush which brought us liberalish McCain in 2008…as an “alternative” to (Chicago’s version of) Madison Avenue’s polished soap ad du jour.

Reagan HAD principles and stood by them, bending at times to compromise under the reality of DC politics.

What you propose HAS NONE.

Why should Republicans care if the Democrats are as narrow minded as they are? What possible benefit would accrue to the party by aping the worst instincts of their opponents?

And referring to John McCain as anything except a moderate conservative is nonsense. If he is “liberalish” the commenter is to the right of Attila the Hun.

And how about the myth that moderates have no principles? Nonsense. As I make clear in the article.

But this is the kind of ignorance the Republican party and conservative movement is up against in its efforts to reform. I don’t hold out much hope that anything constructive can happen until the Ed’s of the party and movement are either co-opted or simply shunted to the sidelines where they can rant to their heart’s content and do no harm in the meantime.



Filed under: Chicago Bulls, Sports — Rick Moran @ 9:42 am

The Bull’s Joakim Noah dunks in the face of Boston’s Paul Pierce in Game 6 at the United Center on Thursday night. Noah’s steal and 3-point play in the 3rd overtime proved the game winner.

I am taking a break from my self-imposed hiatus from writing not to talk about politics but something equally near and dear to my heart; Chicago sports. Specifically, the rebirth of the Chicago Bull’s franchise and what it means to a city that for all it’s beauty and architectural splendor, still feels pangs of inferiority when measured against its rivals on the east coast.

Any discussion about the growth of American cities over the last century cannot ignore the contribution made by professional sports teams as a uniting expedient that has given residents powerful icons with which to identify and take pride in. It helps that these teams generate tens of millions of tax dollars these days (as well as most cities taking a healthy cut of parking and vending concessions at the various stadiums and ballparks around the country).

It remains a source of civic pride for a city to possess a major sports franchise, a signal to potential residents and businesses that relocating has other advantages than dollars and cents. For this reason, some cities have financed the building of sparkling new venues where the sports teams play their games.

It is a controversial use of tax money and while I tend to frown on such expenditures (and curse the owners who literally hold up cities for such structures by issuing ultimatums to build them or they will leave ), I understand the impulse behind them. Professional sports franchises are gold mines and serve the chauvinistic purpose of generating a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself, united with other residents in a common love of “the team.”

For residents of Chicago, the success or failure of its major sports franchises has always been colored by the feeling deep down that as a city, we just don’t measure up to Boston, Philadelphia, or especially, New York when it comes to the cultural pursuits or the kind of cynical sophistication exhibited by residents of those burgs. But rivalries in professional sports have a way of evening things up for some and that’s where the Bulls come in.

Of course, no Chicago sports team can match the football Bears in fan loyalty or intensity. This is a Bears town and probably always will be. And the North Side/South Side divide in baseball with the Cubs and Sox defines the yin and yang of the city to it’s very core. The Cubs - a team for women, children, and hopeless romantics versus a Sox team with much more of a working class appeal. In the modern, wall to wall sports age we live in, the Bears have one championship (1987) since 1963 while the Sox have one World Series win (2005) since 1917.

It has been 100 years since the Cubs tasted success and nearly 40 years since hockey’s Blackhawks have gotten drunk by sloshing champagne from the Stanley Cup. In short, triumph for Chicago sports teams has been doled out by the sports gods in quite the niggardly fashion.

Except for the Bulls. Winners of six World Championships in the 1990’s, the team’s fortunes during that magnificent run rose and fell on the health (and retirement plans) of perhaps the greatest athlete of the 20th century: Michael Jordan.

I will no doubt get an argument from Jim Thorpe fans (Thorpe was AP’s “Athlete of the Half Century in 1950″) and supporters of other athletes like Bob Mathias or even Carl Lewis might also chime in with why those worthies should also be considered.

But if Jordan wasn’t the athlete of the 20th century, he can certainly be named the greatest athlete of the modern media era. He was untouchable, the greatest competitor I have ever seen. I understand Ty Cobb had the same burning, insatiable desire to win. And skills wise, there is always a good case that can be made for Bird or Magic, or even Jerry West.

But the total package — the razmatazz, inherent showmanship of the man helped him dominate the media in an age that he defined. His unrivaled power until Tiger Woods came along to sell anything while performing feats of legerdemain on the court proved a too much for his NBA opponents and too tempting for marketing moguls to pass up.

Jordan led Bulls teams were a phenomenon in a city that was used to more workmanlike athletic teams that were usually competitive but rarely able to grasp the brass ring of a championship. This proved valid when the Jordanless Bulls, forced to compete without their superstar in 1994 when he retired the first time to play pro baseball, failed to reach the finals against the hated New York Knicks. Jordan’s late season return the following year excited fans but also demonstrated that a rusty superstar was not enough to help the team climb the last mountain; they lost in the second round to Orlando.

It was the magical 1996 year in which even casual fans finally adopted a Bulls team that won an astonishing 72 out of 82 games and destroyed their playoff competition on route to the second of their “threepeat” championship runs. Jordan had reinvented himself as a player, changing from a slashing, driving, leaping, flying scoring machine into the best post-up guard who ever played the game. He could still drive to the hole but eschewed the pizazz for a role that left him free to dish the ball to his cutting, screening teammates. The results were incontestable. As was Jordan’s dominance.

The end of the Jordan era meant trouble; five long years of awfulness followed by a few middling years where it appeared the team was going to be competitive again, only to see that dream dashed by bad drafts, bad front office decisions, and bad coaching.

The Bulls had become something of an embarrassment to the city and unlike Bears or Cubs fans who will go to the games no matter how awful their team might be, Bulls fans proved to be a little more fair weather, with the cavernous new United Center half empty during many of these lean years.

This season started dismally with the Bulls playing very inconsistently and appearing as late as February that they would finish out of the playoffs. This despite the play of an exciting rookie, Chicago native Derrick Rose whose speed and quickness as well a developing basketball sense earned him Rookie of the Year honors. And then the trade deadline brought two important pieces to the team; John Salmons and Brad Miller from Sacramento. The team seemed to mesh quite well and they put on a very strong finish to end up at .500 and earn the seventh seed in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, thought everyone in the league, that meant playing defending champion Boston in the first round. But the Celtics looked beatable when superstar Kevin Garnett went down with a knee injury. Still, the chances that the young Bulls would be able to compete with the seasoned Celtics seemed more fantasy than practical reality.

The rest, if you’ve been following this titanic struggle, is history. The Bulls and Celtics will play the seventh game of a series for the ages tonight. And once again, Chicago has embraced their basketball franchise with something approximating the same abandon with which they adored the Jordan-led Bulls of the 1990’s.

They say that the United Center was never as loud for a basketball game as it was for that life draining, dramatic triple overtime victory for the Bulls on Thursday night. Indeed, the Jordan era, despite its success, never seemed to bring out the animal roars from spectators that used to intimidate opponents at the old Chicago Stadium. But the fans - finally - seem to have taken this team to heart and win or lose in Boston tonight, their efforts in this series will carry over into succeeding years and will no doubt elevate the team to its previous heights in the Chicago sports firmament.

As an aside, Thursday night’s game was the first pro basketball game I watched from beginning to end since that Game 6 in Utah a decade ago that saw Michael Jordan push off a Utah defender to get away the winning shot and bring the Bulls their last championship. The youngsters probably will fall far short of winning it all this year. I expect them to lose tonight or almost certainly in the second round against Orlando. But for me, they have become an interesting team again.

And no doubt, the city feels the same way.



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 4:09 pm

Being heartily sick of politics, I have decided to take a few days to recharge the batteries.

Every once and a while, the 14 hour a day grind gets to me and I have to step back and remove myself from the action for a couple of days. Nothing serious, I assure you. I very much wanted to write about GOP reform and the battle underway to cleanse the party of anyone deemed a RINO. I may do so on Sunday or Monday, whenever the spirit moves me to resume. Not blogging yesterday and today allowed me some precious time between my morning gig at AT and afternoon responsibilities at PJM. I got to see what Sue looks like these days - just before she heads off to Ohio for several weeks tomorrow to fill in for her daughter in law who is having surgery.

The prospect of a bachleorhood redux is depressing. I’ve grown accustomed to sharing responsibilities around here and it will be quite lonely without my Zsu-Zsu.

So come back Sunday or Monday. Or peruse the archives if you wish.

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