Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging, Government, Media, Politics, health care reform — Rick Moran @ 8:58 am

Yeah, I know. Riehl and I are usually at each other’s throats but in this case, his thinking mirrors my own thoughts when I first read about this story:

This is the stuff of apparatchiks and Politburos, not a healthy, ethical free press. ABC will become the Obama network to sell his health care plan for an entire day.

I was going to start by saying, unbelievable. But given the media’s coverage of Obama from the primary to November, it may not be as unbelievable as it should. This is the single most dangerous thing for this Republic I’ve seen from their dysfunctional relationship since Obama announced and they fell in love. Health care reform is a major issue that will ultimately impact every American living and to be born. If anything, we need a balanced debate by a media that hasn’t picked a side.

I’m not even sure it’ll help Obama as much as he may think, but the principle here is even more important. I don’t know if ABC will cave, but if they offer Republicans a half hour at the end, or an hour some other night, it is not the same thing. This can’t be happening here.

What Mr. Riehl is rightly incensed about is the news that broke this morning that ABC will, in effect, join the executive branch of government and act as an appendage to the Obama PR machine to sell his - and his alone - health insurance plan.

From Drudge:

On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care — a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!

Highlights on the agenda:

ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.

The network plans a primetime special — ‘Prescription for America’ — originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.

The RNC sent a letter to ABC News President David Westin that sounds almost plaintive in its complaints:

As the national debate on health care reform intensifies, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC’s astonishing decision to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue on June 24, 2009. Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform “town hall” at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news “will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda.” This does not include the promotion, over the next 9 days, the president’s health care agenda will receive on ABC News programming.

Today, the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party’s views to those of the President’s to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented. Our request was rejected. I believe that the President should have the ability to speak directly to the America people. However, I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our Party’s opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers.

In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers. President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime. The President has stated time and time again that he wants a bipartisan debate. Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime.

Not even granting the GOP the courtesy of giving them a half hour to respond? What’s with that?

Obviously, ABC saw the reasonably good ratings for NBC’s genuflecting coverage of the show featuring Obama in the White House, hosted by the obsequious Brian Williams and wanted a piece of that action. But at what price to their integrity? Williams may have bowed and scraped like a serf from the Middle Ages acknowledging his lord but that was just silly press worship of Obama.

If this story is true (and Drudge has been known to exaggerate things in the past), it’s a game changer. This isn’t anything like the networks offering time to the party holding the White House. It’s different than presenting biased coverage in favor of the president. There is nothing stealthy about it at all. This is putting a huge media conglomerate at the disposal of the executive branch in order to achieve the president’s policy goals.

A one trillion dollar program that will fundamentally alter not only our health care system but re-order American society itself and we are only to be presented with one side of the debate? Riehl has it right; why not just rename ABC, OBC and get on with it.

It’s not like the Republicans don’t have a viable alternative. About a month ago, they released “The Patient’s Choice Act” that totally eschews the so-called “public option” in favor of a federalized, tax friendly approach that even Democratic critics called “comprehensive.”

Now, I have serious problems with the GOP plan. It is hardly perfect. And I suspect ABC will, at some point, offer the GOP some kind of rebuttal, although as the RNC letter points out, fat lot of good it will do when ABC will be promoting the hell out of this program and the details of the Democratic plan.

But health care is really not the issue here. The issue is the crass, obvious, dangerous, and radical manipulation of the media to serve the ends of government and not serve the people. ABC News should immediately alter the program to include opposition voices to what the Democrats are proposing or cancel it altogether.

And if they don’t, I wonder if any journalists at ABC will take the honorable route and resign?


No, the Dems are not paying for the airtime. And ABC assures us that they will pick the audience members and that they will give a fair hearing of all sides of the debate.


To that end, ABC News announced plans to broadcast a primetime hour from the White House devoted to exploring and probing the President’s position and giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position. We hope that any American concerned about health care will find our efforts to be informative, fair and civil.

Second, ABC News prides itself on covering all sides of important issues and asking direct questions of all newsmakers — of all political persuasions — even when others have taken a more partisan approach and even in the face of criticism from extremes on both ends of the political spectrum. ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue. ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience.

Third, there already has been extensive coverage of the upcoming health care debates, on ABC and elsewhere, and there will be much, much more. Indeed, we’ve already had many critics of the President’s health care proposals on the air – and that’s before a real plan has even been put before the country.

In the end, no one watching, listening to, or reading ABC News will lack for an understanding of all sides of these important questions.

No mention of the fact that they will get all day access to the White House with GMA and WNT getting to host from there.

And a program devoted “to exploring and probing the President’s position and giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position” starts from the premise that the Democrat’s program will be discussed, not alternatives - just “questions and criticisms.”

No doubt there will be some pointed questions about the cost of the program. But my question above remains; why put this on at the White House? Why not someplace like Constitution Hall or some other place that would have real meaning.

It still smacks of partisan shilling in my book. And as my friend Lionheart points out in the comments, if Bush had tried this, many on the left would have hit the roof.



Filed under: Blogging, Government, Media — Rick Moran @ 11:56 am

The world can be too real at times, what with a possibly stolen election in Iran, an economy teetering on the edge of an abyss, and Joe Biden in charge of…anything.

That’s why a digression into fantasy is just what the doctor ordered today. Of course, there’s nothing in the world that defines fantasy better than Hollywood movies.

In the past, my forays into top ten lists for films have featured original music scores, villains, one liners, and Star Trek rankings. Today, I’d like to pay homage to the bread and butter of all Hollywood action films, the fight scene and my 10 favorites of all time.

You will probably disagree with many of my choices. I am not into martial arts films nor have I seen a a lot of films in the last 5 years or so. No matter. My attempt here was to engage in some pleasant reveries, going over as many movies in my mind that I could, and pulling out fight scenes that thrilled me, or surprised me, or have become so much a part of the experience in viewing the film - especially those I’ve seen several times - that I have become intimately familiar with the way the action unfolds and “bits” that the actors, directors, and fight choreographers put into the action to enhance the realism of the battle.

What make a good fight scene? In my opinion, believability is a good start but not a pre-requisite. One of the better “fight scenes” that I can recall is the pie fight in The Great Race. Timing the thrown pies was absolutely crucial in that scene as was expert editing. But believable? Not hardly.

The use of furniture and other objects can also enhance a fight scene but again, is not necessary. Another great fight sequence is from Red River where it’s just John Wayne and Montgomery Clift going at it hammer and tongs.

Those two are in my “Honorable Mentions” for my list but don’t rise to the level of excellence of those I have selected. That’s because beyond anything else, a good fight scene must give you a visceral reaction to to the war taking place on screen. You must feel the blows. Or, be so transported into the moment that you feel yourself in the fight itself. Then, there are a couple of scenes on my list that are just so wonderfully choreographed that the delight is in observing the craft itself. The scene almost becomes a dance with characters executing marvelously difficult feats while getting their brains beat in.

I have placed the scenes in a rough order regarding how much I enjoyed them. You are invited to make your own lists or tell me what a dope I am in the comments.

10. Philo Beddo vs. Jack Wilson - Any Which Way You Can

Using the entire town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the bare-knuckled brawl between Clint Eastwood and muscleman William Smith is one for the ages. The movie is incredibly silly but the fight is a real bone cruncher, smash mouth, ass-whuppin’ crowd pleaser. The “I owe you one” theme that runs through it was pretty original too.

9. Li Mùbá vs Yù Jilolóng - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Not the best swordsmanship or the best moves. But no one can dispute the dream-like beauty of watching Zhang Ziyi and Chow Yun Fat fly effortlessly through the air, fight on the thinnest of tree branches, with the moon in the background giving the entire scene a marvelous blue wash that enhances the surreal nature of the battle.

8. Corporal Melish vs. the Bald Nazi - Saving Private Ryan

The best, most realistic knife fight ever filmed. Melish appears to have the upperhand until slowly, painfully, and terrifyingly, the bad guy turns it toward the GI’s chest. “No, no. wait,” pleads Melish as the blade hovers an inch from his heart. Bad guy shushes him soothingly, like trying to stop a baby from crying as the blade sinks in.

Not ranked higher because sometimes, I just can’t watch due to its intensity.

7. John Wayne et. al - McClintock!

Has there ever been a funnier fight scene? Tough to decide between this one and the pie fight in Race but Mclintock! wins for sheer inventiveness. The slide into the claypit was hysterical as was the reaction from the Indians whose unison turns of the head watching people slide down the chute was priceless. Kudo’s to Maureen O’Hara for doing the stunts herself - including getting a dunking on what she described later as a very cold day.

6. Rudolph Rassendyll vs. Count Rupert of Hentzau - Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

Ronald Coleman was forgettable as a swordsman. But the final duel between he and Douglas Fairbanks was classic Hollywood with banter back and forth and Fairbanks, slashing and dashing, shucking and jiving his way off screen, finishing with a spectacular swan dive into the moat to make his escape.

We are not sorry he wasn’t captured.

5. Bruce Lee vs. Bolo - Enter the Dragon

As I mentioned at the outset, I am not enamored of martial arts films. But the speed, athleticism, power, and grace of Bruce Lee had to be recognized somehow. Bolo, a master martial arts fighter in his own right, supposedly “played down” to Lee’s inferior level. It doesn’t matter. This was showmanship at its finest and Lee’s work influenced several generations of fight choreographers.

4. Captain Love vs. Alejandro Murrieta (AKA “Zorro”) - The Mask of Zorro

The scene played out marvelously over the trappings of the gold mine with both Antonio Banderas and Matt Letscher whacking away at one another, cutting and thrusting, the clang of steel on steel very realistic. They looked like they really wanted to kill each other. Some good stunts too as the adversaries leapt from one level to another, precarious footing forcing them to fight with a desperate abandon. It was perhaps the most realistic sword fight (as was the one between Anthony Hopkins and Stuart Wilson playing Don Rafael) I can recall, although the sword fighting in the Michael York version of The Three Musketeers was probably closer to reality. In that film, it was no holds barred as the duelists used every underhanded technique to gain an advantage.

Still, for pulse pounding action, I’ll take Zorro.

3. Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed - Rocky

Up until the time Rocky was made, there were only a handful of fight movies that were realistic (John Garfield was a great actor but a boxer he was not). But the Creed-Balboa fight was epic, believable, and the ending that saw Rocky losing the fight but finally finding the manhood to say “I love you” to Adrian is among the best moments in any sports movie ever made.

The bout was so well done from first punch to last - the sound of glove on flesh was very good, with different sounds for different parts of the body that were struck. Excellent cutting contributed to the realism as did the react from fighters when the blows landed. “Cut me, Mick” is one of the great lines in movie history.

2. Sean Thornton vs. Will Dannaher - The Quiet Man

If Every Which Way But Loose featured a fight that played out throughout the entire town of Jackson Hole, it had nothing on the donnybrook between John Wayne and Victor McLaglen which went over the hills, through the woods, across the river, into the town of Innisfree and concluded with perhaps the best straight right in film history. That punch sent Dannaher through the door of the pub all the way out into the street. “Homeric” as Michaleen Flynn would have said.

Some might find the Irish stereotypes in the film off putting. Speaking as someone with 100% Irish in my background, I loved it.

1. Robin Hood vs. Guy of Gisbourne - The Adventures of Robin Hood.

There have been better sword fights - perhaps even the other classic Errol Flynn - Basil Rathbone duel on the beach in Captain Blood was more precisely choreographed. Other fights have been more intense, more realistic. But none, in my opinion, has been more entertaining or thrilling to watch.

Rathbone, a very serious actor, took fencing lessons for months prior to the shoot. Flynn was not so serious but his tremendous athleticism made him seem even better than Rathbone. Of course, what makes the scene one of the true classics were the asides spoken back and forth to each other as they were locked in mortal combat:

Sir Guy of Gisbourne: You’ve come to Nottingham once too often!
Robin Hood: When this is over, my friend, there’ll be no need for me to come again.

Sir Guy of Gisbourne: Do you know any prayers, my friend?
Robin Hood: I’ll say one for you!

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Couple that with the sharp editing, the dramatic lighting, and the stirring score by Eric Korngold and you have a masterpiece of film making and a perfect climax to a great film.


Filed under: Iran, Media — Rick Moran @ 4:19 am

I’ve written a couple of posts about the Iranian election, taking up the same meme being advanced everywhere else, that the contest was stolen in a clumsy and obvious fashion. Not once did I stop and think how that meme got started and who was pushing it. Nor did I think very hard about the analysts and experts who were advancing their own views on why the election was rigged. Who are they? What do they really know?

The fact that almost everyone seemed to have come to the same conclusion - Middle East experts, ex-Iran hands from State, journalists who have lived and worked in Iran, and especially ordinary Iranians whose emotional reaction to the loss of the “reform” candidate Mousavi tugged at our sympathy - was a powerful motivation to hop on board the rigged election bandwagon and fire away at the regime, at the Revolutionary Guards, and especially at Supreme Leader Khamenei for denying the Iranian people their triumph.

But, is there a possibility that we’re all wrong, that Ahmadinejad really won the election going away?

As I said in this post on Saturday, I am not an expert on Iran, Iranian politics, or the political culture there. All of us in the blogosphere, and the overwhelming majority of national analysts and pundits who are advancing the stolen election meme, depend on the handful of people who we have designated either through their demonstrated expertise or a perceived wisdom that may be useful or not, for our “analysis.” There can’t be more than a couple of dozen of us who are writing about this who know what we’re talking about and have independent sources of information that would justify the kind of faith we have all invested in this story. The rest of us are mostly just parroting the analysis of others while sometimes presciently, sometimes ignorantly, throwing our two cents of speculation in for good measure.

Iran is an enormously complex country, whose people are about as familiar to us as someone who would alight from Alpha Centari. So too, their politics, their government, and the workings of their political system. Cook County, Iran is not. This is a political culture as foreign to us any on earth what with the volatile mix of religion, politics, mysticism, and fear. So looking at the thousands of blog posts, articles, and the hours of TV speculation on the election in a rational manner leads to the inescapable conclusion that, while it is a good bet that the election was indeed rigged, the possibility that President Ahmadinejad actually won the election cannot be entirely dismissed.

Is it possible that all the “experts” we are quoting and listening to have gotten it wrong? Is it possible that some of these same experts are pushing the idea of a stolen election as part of their own agenda? Is it possible that the opposition in Iran is doing the same?

Is it possible?

Sure it is. But you’d never know it if you read the blogs, the MSM, or listen to the discussion on the TV news nets.

Perhaps it’s my contrarian nature that has been energized by reading a few articles that have advanced the idea that Ahmadinejad won and that, as Abbas Barzegar, a PhD candidate in religious studies at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia wrote in the Guardian on Saturday, we westerners are engaging in some wishful thinking about Iran that just isn’t true:

On Monday night at least 100,000 of the former prime minister’s supporters set up a human chain across Tehran. But, hours before I had attended a mass rally for the incumbent president that got little to no coverage in the western press because, on account of the crowds, he never made it inside the hall to give his speech. Minimal estimates from that gathering have been placed at 600,000 (enthusiasts say a million). From the roof I watched as the veiled women and bearded men of all ages poured like lava.

But the failure to properly gauge Iran’s affairs is hardly a new phenomenon. When the 1979 revolution shattered the military dictatorship of America’s strongest ally in the region few experts outside of the country suspected that the Islamic current would emerge as the leading party.


For over a week the same social impulses of anti-corruption, populism, and religious piety that led to the revolution have been on the streets available to anyone who wanted to report on them. Ahmedinejad, for most in the country, embodies those ideals. Since he came into office he has refused to wear a suit, refused to move out of the home he inherited from his father, and has refused to tone down the rhetoric he uses against those he accuses of betraying the nation. When he openly accused his towering rival, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanji, a lion of the revolution himself, of parasitical corruption and compared his betrayal to the alleged deception against the Prophet Muhammad that led to the Sunni-Shia split 1,400 years ago, he unleashed a popular impulse that has held the imagination of the masses here for generations. That Rafsanji defended himself through Mousavi’s newspaper meant the end for the reformists.

In the last week Ahmedinejad turned the election into a referendum on the very project of Iran’s Islamic revolution. Their street chants yelled “Death to all those against the Supreme Leader” followed by traditional Shia rituals and elegies. It was no match for the high-spirited fun-loving youth of northern Tehran who sang “Ahmedi-bye-bye, Ahmedi-bye-bye” or “ye hafte-do hafte, Mahmud hamum na-rafte” (One week, two weeks, Mahmoud hasn’t taken a shower).

These are not the wild words of a religious fanatic endorsing Ahmadinejad but the measured tones of someone applying knowledge of his home country to a political event. He would never get a gig on CNN but does that fact delegitimze his argument? Barzegar acknowledges the possibility of fraud but believes the election outcome as announced is a more likely scenario.

Just because he is a voice in the wilderness, does that make his analysis any less viable than those advancing the stolen election theme? Measuring the relative merits of someone’s opinion when trying to decide who to believe should take into account many factors, not the least should be an intimate familiarity with the subject at hand. Barzegar would seem to pass that test with flying colors.

Then there is the poll out today by The New America Foundation and the Roper The Center for Public Opinion, taken between May11-19 in Iran, that reveals a huge wellspring of support for Ahmadinejad - on the order of 2-1:

The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our preelection survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasized his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favored Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi.

Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.

The only demographic groups in which our survey found Mousavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians. When our poll was taken, almost a third of Iranians were also still undecided. Yet the baseline distributions we found then mirror the results reported by the Iranian authorities, indicating the possibility that the vote is not the product of widespread fraud.

I, too, look upon polls taken in a state as oppressive as Iran with a jaundiced eye. But pollsters can be tricky. They are very good at determining a respondent’s true feelings:

Some might argue that the professed support for Ahmadinejad we found simply reflected fearful respondents’ reluctance to provide honest answers to pollsters. Yet the integrity of our results is confirmed by the politically risky responses Iranians were willing to give to a host of questions. For instance, nearly four in five Iranians — including most Ahmadinejad supporters — said they wanted to change the political system to give them the right to elect Iran’s supreme leader, who is not currently subject to popular vote. Similarly, Iranians chose free elections and a free press as their most important priorities for their government, virtually tied with improving the national economy. These were hardly “politically correct” responses to voice publicly in a largely authoritarian society.

The information is compelling. But then, the poll was taken three weeks before the election and while Mousavi would have a lot of ground to make up, such swings are possible - especially since we witnessed the surge for Mousavi beginning at just about that time.

Then there’s Flynt Leverett, senior fellow at The New America Foundation quoted on Spiegel Online:

Leverett: I would have been surprised if he had lost. The Western media overstated the surge of his main opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi over the last couple of weeks. They missed almost entirely how Ahmadinejad was perceived to have won the TV debate, for instance. There was an extraordinary amount of wishful thinking of American and Western policymakers - unfortunately, that had a strong impact on the media coverage over the past few weeks.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Some people in Washington already express scepticism with the results, though.

Leverett: I am a little surprised by the margin, too. But that makes me more comfortable about the overall validity of the election. Look at the irregularities Mousavi is citing now: that they ran out of ballot paper in some polling precincts, that they did not keep some polls open long enough. There is no way such things could change the overall outcome which is clearly in favor of Ahmadinejad.

Defending one’s organization’s work is not unheard of in the think tank world. But he makes a couple of interesting points about Mousavi’s complaints that I hadn’t considered.

One poll and a couple of pieces of analysis claiming that Ahmadinejad won against the torrent of information, speculation, and analysis that says a fraud was perpetrated: Is it enough to sway your thinking?

It should be enough to make you question everything you read from here on out with at least the same healthy skepticism we should always use when examining anything we read or hear about a subject with which almost all of us have little or no direct knowledge.


Juan Cole takes a closer look at the poll I mentioned above and finds it wanting. He points out that Ahmadinejad’s 2-1 advantage is actually much less than it would appear. The incumbent was favored by only 34% of Iranians while Mousavi got 14% of the vote. Undecideds and “none of the aboves” appeared to get the rest.

In essence, the poll is a lot less compelling than I thought but still an interesting piece of evidence that support for Ahmadinejad is not a mirage.



Filed under: Iran, Middle East, WORLD POLITICS — Rick Moran @ 8:23 am

Trying to get news from Iran this morning is very difficult. Most contact with the outside world has been severed - including phone and cable traffic - while the internet is very unreliable and slow from all reports.

What information is getting out reveals a nation close to chaos but with the authorities evidently well prepared in advance for trouble.

So what does the Iranian election mean? Was it a coup by Ahmadinejad and his supporters in the Revolutionary Guards, done without the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei? Or is Khamenei behind the whole thing and this is an attempt to purge the “reformers” who threaten the position of the powerful clerics who run every facet of the country - its economy, its culture, its social structure, and especially its politics?

A good case can be made for both scenarios. Haaretz is reporting that the opposition leader who challenged Ahmadinejad, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has been arrested. There are reports that many visible opponents of the regime are also being systematically rounded up with many arrests. Opposition media is shut down. And as mentioned above, normal channels of communication have been interrupted.

The fundamental question seems to be at this point is who is controlling the Revolutionary Guards? They are the ones in the forefront of the crackdown. They are supposed to be under the direct control of the Supreme Leader Khamenei. But this amateurish, way too obvious election fraud would seem to be too inept if Khamenei and say, the senior Guard leadership was going to do the vote stealing. After all, it is widely believed they engineered the election of Ahmadinejad in 2005 in the first place. However they did it, they were able to fool most of the international observers who were invited to watch the proceedings (more like the observers were kidding themselves but at least they were given a fig leaf to hide behind).

So it’s not like they don’t know how to be subtle about rigging an election. The heavy handededness of this election’s shenanigans, however, might show more unsure hands at work in the Interior Ministry where the election was obviously stolen. And this would point to an Ahmadinejad-led cabal of loyal bureaucrats and friendly Guardsmen - a possibility I raise in my piece on what might have happened:

Ahmadinejad’s biography has a couple of holes in it; specifically his time spent as a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guard’s Qods Force:

Ahmadinejad was reportedly a senior officer in the Special Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards stationed at Ramazan Garrison near Kermanshah in western Iran. This was the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards’ “Extra-territorial Operations,” for mounting attacks beyond Iran’s borders. Reports suggested that his work in the Revolutionary Guards was related to suppression of dissidents in Iran and abroad. Sources associated him with atrocities in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran and alleged he personally participated in covert operations around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

With the formation of the elite Qods (Jerusalem; literally ‘Holy’) Force of the IRGC, Ahmadinejad became one of its senior commanders. It was reported that he directed assassinations in the Middle East and Europe, including the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Qassemlou, who was shot dead by senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards in a Vienna flat in July 1989. According to Revolutionary Guard sources, Ahmadinejad was a key planner of the attack. He was also reported to have been involved in planning an attempt on the life of Salman Rushdie.

Ahmadinejad’s connections to some very powerful elements in the Revolutionary Guards may have given him something no Iranian president has had previously; an independent power base in the Guards. Would it be enough to challenge Khamenei for control of the Guards? Khamenei has the senior leadership but perhaps some junior officers would be more loyal to Ahmadinejad. It is pure speculation but not without merit as Middle East expert Gordon Robinson writes:

Scenario Two: There has been a coup. Ahmedinejad and the security services have taken over. The Supreme Leader has been preserved as a figurehead, but the structures of clerical rule have effectively been gutted and are being replaced by a National Security State. Reports that facebook, twitter, text messaging and foreign TV broadcasts have been blocked, that foreign journalists are being expelled and that large concrete roadblocks (the kind that require a crane to move) have appeared in front of the Interior Ministry all feed a sense that what we are now seeing was pre-planned. Underlying this is the theory that Ahmedinejad and the people around him represent a new generation of Iranian leadership. He and his colleagues were young revolutionaries in 1979. Now in their 50s they have built careers inside the Revolutionary Guard and the other security services. They may be committed to the Islamic Republic as a concept, but they are not part of its clerical aristocracy and are now moving to push the clerics into an essentially ceremonial role. This theory in particular seems to be gaining credibility rapidly among professional Iran-watchers outside of the country.

If a coup, this is very, very bad news for the US and especially Israel. It is thought that Khamenei was something of a steadying force who countered Ahmadinejad’s extreme radicalism with a more traditional and less confrontational approach. Several times over the last 4 years, Khamenei has appearedto slap down Ahmadinejad when he went too far, contradicting some wild pronouncements made by the president (he never intervened when Ahmadinejad threatened Israel). If that brake is gone, the Iranian president becomes very unpredictable.

Then there’s the “panic” theory where the regime was overconfident in Ahmadinejad’s victory and was reacting to the overwhelming vote for Mousavi and the other reform candidates. This explains why the stolen election appeared to be amateurish.  I find this less than compelling for the simple reason they were deploying regime forces before the polls closed.

With so many arrests of “reformers” (outside of Mousavi, no real big names have been taken into custody that we’ve heard about yet), it may yet turn out to be a simple purge and life will eventually settle back down to normal. But a coup, by its nature, breeds instability. And given the factional nature of the Iranian regime, it is a sure bet that some of these factions will not sit still for an Ahmadinejad power grab. In that case, a low level civil war will play itself out with many “disappearances” and “tragic accidents” as well as a “heart attack” or two before things get sorted out. We saw this kind of thing several times in the old Soviet Union so it shouldn’t surprise us if we see something similar in Iran over the next year or so.



Filed under: Iran, Middle East, WORLD POLITICS — Rick Moran @ 4:43 pm

I posed this scenario at the end of my Pajamas Media article on the Iranian elections:

It is possible the incumbent actually received a plurality of less than 50% which would have forced a run-off with Mr. Mousavi and the vote fraud was engineered simply to give Ahmadinejad a majority. But whether or not the president won an outright victory is beside the point; the news from Iran almost certainly points to massive fraud undertaken to give President Ahmadinejad a second term.

This from Tehranbureau appears to make fraud a pretty much an open and shut case:


The best evidence for the validity of the arguments of the three opponents of the President for rejecting the results declared by the Interior Ministry is the data the Ministry itself has issued. In the chart below, compiled based on the data released by the Ministry and announced by Iran’s national television, a perfect linear relation between the votes received by the President and Mir Hossein Mousavi has been maintained, and the President’s vote is always half of the President’s. The vertical axis (y) shows Mr. Mousavi’s votes, and the horizontal (x) the President’s. R^2 shows the correlation coefficient: the closer it is to 1.0, the more perfect is the fit, and it is 0.9995, as close to 1.0 as possible for any type of data.

Statistically and mathematically, it is impossible to maintain such perfect linear relations between the votes of any two candidates in any election — and at all stages of vote counting. This is particularly true about Iran, a large country with a variety of ethnic groups who usually vote for a candidate who is ethnically one of their own. For example, in the present elections, Mr. Mousavi is an Azeri and speaks Turkish. The Azeries make up 1/4 of all the eligible voters in Iran and in his trips to Azerbaijan province, where most of the Azeri population lives, Mr. Mousavi had been greeted by huge rallies in support of his campaign. Likewise, Mr. Karroubi, the other reformist candidate, is a Lor. But according to the data released by Iran’s Interior Ministry, in both cases, Mr. Ahmadinejad has far outdone both candidates in their own provinces of birth and among their own ethnic populations.

The question you have to ask is why? Why would the regime so obviously and deliberately fix the election? The mullahs may have insulated themselves and cut themselves off from the rest of the world but they aren’t stupid. Something is not adding up and Laura Rozen over at Foreign Policy’s blog The Cable offers some chilling quotes on what might be happening:

“Yesterday’s events could have a very negative impact on Khamenei’s desires to maintain stability and balance within his administration,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Middle East analyst. “The question is: what caused him to take such a drastic action, by ordering fraud on such a massive scale?”

“The disappointment and disorientation of people in Iran that I’ve spoken to is unmistakable,” said Parsi. “While a majority argue that this is a coup by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei against virtually the rest of the establishment, there are several question marks: Khamenei, most experts agree, is addicted to the perception of legitimacy for himself and the system. But this coup does away with any chances for such legitimacy. Indeed, it is difficult to see why he would view this situation as terribly favorable.

“Which then raises the question,” Parsi continued, “as to whether a reassessment is needed of the assumption that Khamenei enjoys the position of strength that so often is ascribed to him. If this is not a favorable situation, why is he going along with it? Is he too under pressure from circles in the Guard?”

Ahmadinejad’s biography has a couple of holes in it; specifically his time spent as a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guard’s Qods Force:

Ahmadinejad was reportedly a senior officer in the Special Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards stationed at Ramazan Garrison near Kermanshah in western Iran. This was the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards’ “Extra-territorial Operations,” for mounting attacks beyond Iran’s borders. Reports suggested that his work in the Revolutionary Guards was related to suppression of dissidents in Iran and abroad. Sources associated him with atrocities in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran and alleged he personally participated in covert operations around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

With the formation of the elite Qods (Jerusalem; literally ‘Holy’) Force of the IRGC, Ahmadinejad became one of its senior commanders. It was reported that he directed assassinations in the Middle East and Europe, including the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Qassemlou, who was shot dead by senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards in a Vienna flat in July 1989. According to Revolutionary Guard sources, Ahmadinejad was a key planner of the attack. He was also reported to have been involved in planning an attempt on the life of Salman Rushdie.

There is something else too, also from Global Security:

Some outside observers had great difficult understanding Ahmadinejad’s popularity across the country. They were not able to comprehend his ability to out-poll better-known figures, such as former speaker of parliament Mehdi Karrubi or former national police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. The other candidates had been nationally visible for years, and had campaigned throughout the country. Ahmadinejad only became nationally visible after he became Tehran’s mayor. He did not campaign as extensively as his rivals. Some speculated that electoral interference by the Basij and the Guardians Council was the only explaination of this otherwise inexplicable rise to power. Reports suggested there was evidence of vote rigging by Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his supporters. These claims were publically voiced by Rafsanjani and his supporters after the results of the election were announced.

The Basij Forces, or Mobilization Resistance Force, a volunteer paramilitary militia under the Revolutionary Guards, was called upon to vote for Ahmadinejad and get others to do so. Since its creation Iranian authorities suggested that on mobilization its active numbers could total 1 million individuals or more. Reformists charged that the Basij violated prohibitions against military involvement in politics by mobilizing votes for Ahmadinejad. Although the military was supposed to steer clear of politics in Iran (as seen with the withdrawal of Mohsen Rezaie), it had always played some role. However, it had never been as prominent as it was during the 2005 election.

If the Guard wanted to assert itself, it certainly had the means to do so. Khamenei is supposed to have control of the Guards, thus giving him a power base independent of the army. Could the Revolutionary Guards have threatened Khamenei’s position if he didn’t return the Guard’s favorite, Ahmadinejhad, to power?

I am not an expert on Iranian politics nor on its political culture which I know from my reading is riven with factions and even features factions within factions. It is a labyrinth that few really understand. As recently as two years ago with the Iranian capture of some British troops on an Iraqi waterway, we saw what appeared to be factional disputes among the leadership on what to do with the prisoners. Some wanted to try them for espionage. Others wanted to negotiate. A couple of times it appeared an agreement had been reached to release the Brits only to have the deal fall through. This is how the Islamic Republic has done business for 30 years.

Given what we know of Ahmadinejad’s past association with a powerful element within the Revolutionary Guards as well as the stated reluctance of the Guards to see a “reformer” assume office, there may be more than meets the eye as far as voter fraud in the Iranian election. It may have been some kind of “coup” by the Guards that was clumsy in its execution and obvious in its intent. Yesterday, the Guardian reported that “A Revolutionary Guard warning about not tolerating a “velvet revolution” by the Iranian “greens” has been noted with some alarm.”

All signs point to a stolen election. But the “why” will have to wait a while.


That statistical analysis performed by Tehranbureau above is flawed. Respected political polling blogger Nate Silver shows how, if a similar technique were applied to the results of our own election last November, the same kind of linear result on the graph would show up.

Congrats to Nate on discovering the truth.


Filed under: Blogging, Ethics, Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 5:17 am

Courtesy of Hot Air, this is an eyebrow raising story of a blogger who achieved a modicum of success after blogging about her terminally ill unborn child. She carried the baby to term only to see the child die a few hours after delivering at home.

It’s a heart tugging story that captivated a good slice of the Right to Life Movement as well as others who got caught up in the drama. At it’s peak, “April’s Mom” writing at the blog “Sharing the story of Today” was getting 100,00 visitors a week.

The eyebrow raising part of this story is that it was a hoax:

The woman behind the hoax isn’t “April’s Mom” — a single expectant mother who lay awake at night terrified her unborn child would die at any time, according to the Chicago Tribune.

She is actually Beccah Beushausen, a 26-year-old social worker from the Chicago suburb of Mokenka who says she didn’t know how to free herself from the web of lies she wove.

“Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand,” she told the Tribune. “I didn’t know how to stop. … One lie led to another.”

The blog reached its peak at nearly a million hits when Beushausen wrote that baby April Rose was born alive at home — and then died mere hours later, the paper reported.

Anti-abortion supporters were captivated by her story, logging on each night to read about her plight and saying they were praying for her.

Some followers even sent gifts and photographs to the post office box she listed online. Parenting Web sites that oppose abortion promoted her site.


“I know what I did was wrong,” Beushausen told the Tribune. “I’ve been getting hate mail. I’m sorry because people were so emotionally involved.”

There’s no evidence that Beushausen profited financially from the hoax or committed a crime.

(Note to Fox fact checkers: The suburb is “Mokena, IL.”)

The hoax was discovered when Beushausen posted a picture of her “baby” which was immediately recognized by a dollmaker who had the exact same doll in her collection.

And the idea that she did not “profit financially” from her hoax is absurd. Her site is covered with ads. The advertisers who took out those ads were paying based on traffic - traffic generated by a hoax. And if they were paying by the number of clickthroughs, that amount of money would also have been influenced by the deception.

I am not a lawyer but receiving money under false pretenses should be against the law if it isn’t already. Do we still prosecute snake oil salesmen?

It is unfortunate that the victims of this hoax - the pro-life community who sought validation for their cherished beliefs - should have been played in such a shameful way. The fact is, there are stories that, while not quite as dramatic as Beushausen’s lie, nevertheless serve as an example of people whose moral commitment to the unborn is so profound that they knowingly carry babies to term who suffer from disease or malformation that will make raising them an enormous challenge.

As a pro-choice conservative, I can admire that kind of personal commitment to a moral code. And even though I have a less than expansive view of Sarah Palin’s talents as a politician, I admire her choice to knowingly bring a Down Syndrome child into the world. I was shocked by the reaction by some on the left - especially some feminists - to the Palin family’s choice. Evidently, there are “choices,” and there are leftist choices. But calling yourself “pro-choice” and living up to that credo was apparently too difficult for some who mercilessly criticized Palin for not aborting her baby once it was clear the child would be born with Down Syndrome.

Whither then Ms. Beushausen? The Chicago Tribune gives us some clues about her motivation:

Beushausen said she really did lose a son shortly after birth in 2005. She started her blog in March to help deal with that loss and to express her strong anti-abortion views, she said.

She had expected only a handful of friends to read it, but when her first post got 50 comments, she was hooked.

“I’ve always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear,” Beushausen said.

“Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand,” she said. “I didn’t know how to stop. … One lie led to another.”

A good friend from college was unknowingly drawn into the drama and offered this:

“When I heard that she was pregnant, I called her and said if she needed anything, I was there for her,” said Myers, who lives in Nashville. She said she spoke to Beushausen almost every day for the last few weeks.

Myers sold T-shirts online to benefit Beushausen and PASS, a Tinley Park crisis pregnancy clinic that Beushausen asked the couple to donate to. The couple said they also sent her a few hundred dollars.

Even after learning of the hoax, Myers said she and her husband don’t regret their involvement.

“She’s someone who needed love and attention, and we gave her that,” Myers said.

Her father confirmed that the stress of hiding the hoax got to her and she spent a couple of days in a local hospital. No mention is made of what she was being treated for but an educated guess would be she was on a suicide watch. Her dad adds, “She’s a very talented young lady who hit some hot buttons,” he said. “She knows she made a big mistake.”

I reject the notion there is any political lesson to be learned from this incident. There will be those who will seek to denigrate the pro life movement because one of their own was temporarily successful in playing to their most heartfelt beliefs. Can’t imagine what angle they would use but I’m sure they will come up with something appropriately inane. And I don’t believe that pro-lifers need be defensive about anything. Blogs have built-in credibility now, and while there have been some of these hoaxes exposed over the years, blog audiences are a trusting lot - as well they should be.

But blog audiences have also become much more discriminating over the years when it comes to “original reporting” by websites. Much less is taken for granted today than 4 or 5 years ago. This is a result, no doubt, of several cases where bogus information was passed along as truth. Having been burned, most blog readers are much more discerning in what they believe and what it takes to convince them.

But Beushausen was writing on a small mommy blog and relating her supposedly personal story. None of the skepticism that would attend a political or celebrity story was present. The idea that someone would lie about something as serious as a terminally ill baby just never entered into most people’s minds. Anyone who would do such a thing would be (and I love this word) a female cad.

And that’s what Beushausen is. She is a bounder, a blackguard, a heel. Shamelessly playing with the emotions of her readers, - for profit or not - she has damaged the credibility of all bloggers by her actions.

The quicker we forget about Beushausen, the better. Let her slide back into a well deserved anonymity while taking note that perhaps, we won’t be quite so easy to fool next time.


It appears this woman is really something of a fabulist - a pathological liar of sorts.

Via Blue Crab Boulevard, it appears that Beushausen, identified in the story as a “social worker,” is no such thing:

In response to a June 12 article in the Chicago Tribune and a related Associated Press story about “April’s Mom”, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-baby-hoax-12jun12,0,5601624.story, the National Association of Social Workers has confirmed that the troubled young woman who created a huge online following with a fictitious account of her pregnancy IS NOT A SOCIAL WORKER. According to sources at the NASW Illinois Chapter, Beccah Beushausen is not licensed in the State of Illinois as a social worker and is not a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

Maybe “she” is actually a “he” or perhaps that rigmarole about losing a baby is also a fib. I think it wise at this point to assume everything that has been written about this person is a lie on her part until we find someone who has the straight dope.



Filed under: Blogging, Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:42 am

This is getting annoying as hell.

Conservatives trying to make the case that the Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn is some kind of liberal or leftist sympathizer are tilting at windmills:

So I guess the obvious question is this: if von Brunn were looking for a mainstream political activism site on which to broadcast his views to the largest number of likeminded individuals (or individuals susceptible to coming around to his point of view), would he find a warmer reception at RedState, or DailyKos? I submit that the answer to this question might be a far more useful metric of von Brunn’s political leanings than the baseless assumption propounded by unthinking leftists that because von Brunn is a racist, he must be a right-winger.

That’s just one of a series of blog posts that is raising questions about von Brunn’s ideology and trying frantically to transfer the killer’s core beliefs to the left.

Von Brunn is indeed a right winger - a far, far, out in the boondocks, beyond belief, wild eyed, drooling extremist of a right winger - but a right winger nonetheless. My post yesterday that briefly questioned his “right wing Christian” credentials was silly in retrospect, although identifying him as a “Christianist” is incorrect. And if you read the post, you will notice that this meme was a very small part of my overall criticism of the left’s politically motivated attack on conservatives.

Anti-Semitism may be a disease that afflicts liberals as well as conservatives. And racism on the left is not unknown as anyone who has ever read the brutal and nauseating racial attacks on Michelle Malkin can testify.

But this guy was identified by the FBI two decades ago as a far right whacko. The idea that he’s changed his stripes in the intervening years is ridiculous and only makes those who are trying to hit back against leftist smears of all conservatives by trying to mis-identify where this guy is coming from ideologically do no service to the truth or to conservatives.

I will freely grant this this guy is a man of the extreme right. To posit the notion, as many on the left have been doing the last few days, that this guy has any connection whatsoever either in his philosophy or ideology with mainstream conservatism is ludicrous. It is equally fanciful to blame “right wing hate speech” emanating supposedly from mainstream conservative media outlets for this guy’s actions. The idea that von Brunn needed any motivation at all beyond his sick, twisted, personal extremist ideology and whatever demons possessed him ignores reality - about what we’ve come to expect from the “reality based community.”

By the same token, desperately seeking a way to disown von Brunn because the left has seen fit to smear all conservatives with his racist, anti-Semitic stench is equally ludicrous. We don’t have to disown him. It is self evident to any rational, semi-fair minded person that this guy had as much to do with mainstream politics as a member of the Black Panther party or some other far out, whacko leftist group. To think otherwise is to believe nonsense. To think that anything said by a mainstream conservative set this guy off and contributed to his rampage is equally bogus. The only people who believe that are those who are pre-disposed to believe the worst about conservatives. And nothing anyone says will change their idiotic, exaggerated, hysterical notions about the mainstream right.

So give it a rest - both sides. This is one of these issues where liberals and conservatives are only looking silly by bandying about ridiculous ideas that don’t convince anyone except those who already harbor the same views. Taking a dump into a water well just to hear the turds echo when they hit bottom is a pastime for village idiots, not supposedly rational political opponents.


Filed under: Blogging, CHICAGO BEARS, Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:37 am


Your government has just taken a gigantic step toward regulating your life in ways that today, can only dimly be understood.

The senate passed a bill yesterday giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to “limit nicotine in the cigarettes that kill nearly a half-million people a year, to drastically curtail ads that glorify tobacco and to ban flavored products aimed at spreading the habit to young people.”

Sounds great, eh? The New York Times thinks so:

After more than a decade of struggle — and countless smoking-related deaths — the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on Thursday that gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products. The House approved a similar bill in April, also by an overwhelming margin. The days when this rogue industry could inflict its harmful products on Americans with impunity are drawing to a close.

This is an enormous victory for public health. For that, we owe thanks to tireless advocacy by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a nonprofit organization, and strong endorsements from medical groups.

A “rogue industry?” An “enormous victory for public health?” All this just to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our children?

Not exactly:

It still might not have passed without the decision by Philip Morris, the industry leader, to accept regulation. The company apparently believes it can thrive better under regulation than its competitors, who complain that it will now be much harder for them to introduce new products to challenge Philip Morris’s dominance.

The bill is not perfect. It will not allow the F.D.A. to ban cigarettes or nicotine — a concession made years ago to avoid drawing intense opposition from smokers and free-market advocates. But the agency will still have far-reaching powers.

Yes, the New York Times likes nothing better than granting any government agency “far reaching powers.” And cheering on the monopolistic practices of Philip Morris and their cynical acceptance of regulation so that they have a leg up on their competitors is truly public spirited legislation, don’t ya think?

It’s just too bad that the cowardly bastards didn’t have the guts to do what their weeping, wailing, emotionally charged rhetoric about the dangers of cigarettes to kids would lead one to believe they support; a total ban on the growing, manufacture, sale, and use of tobacco products. Even the Times admits they are cowards, terrified of facing the wrath of smokers and free market supporters. But if the product is that dangerous - and it is - by allowing this hypocrisy to continue, Congress and the feds are complicit in the deaths of half a million smokers a year, at least by their reasoning. If they can regulate the product in ways that almost no other product in America is regulated, they can certainly ban it. If nicotine is going to be classifed as a “dangerous drug,” then why not ban it the same way that crack cocaine or heroin is banned?

The fact is, the government cares more about the tax money they are getting from smokers than the citizens who are dying as a result of using the products. And every time they make a move like this and say “it’s for the kids” I am going to call them out on their hypocrisy.

It’s not about “the kids.” It’s about power; the power to regulate, control, and influence the lives of private citizens. And it’s only the beginning.

You might be nodding in satisfaction at the fact that the government can tax smokers who have freely chosen to light up into penury. Many of you may even find satisfaction in the way local municipalities have violated the property rights of smokers by banning smoking in their own condos or apartments. Perhaps many of you think nothing of banning smoking in one’s personal auto. And who cares if a municipality wants to ban smokers from lighting up in their own back yard?

Not my ox being gored, right? Wrong. What the Obama has in store for you smug, self righteous, anti-smoking zealots will make what the government has done to smokers pale in comparison.

Man, I am going to do a sack dance when the health Nazis Obama has hired start coming after you:

Don’t be fooled by the presidential burger runs. Obama and Congress are moving across several fronts to give government a central role in making America healthier — raising expectations among public health experts of a new era of activism unlike any before.

Any health care reform plan that Obama signs is almost certain to call for nutrition counseling, obesity screenings and wellness programs at workplaces and community centers. He wants more time in the school day for physical fitness, more nutritious school lunches and more bike paths, walking paths and grocery stores in underserved areas.

The president is filling top posts at Health and Human Services with officials who, in their previous jobs, outlawed trans fats, banned public smoking or required restaurants to provide a calorie count with that slice of banana cream pie.

Even Congress is getting into the act, giving serious consideration to taxing sugary drinks and alcohol to help pay for the overhaul.

To some, it smacks of a “nanny state on steroids” — but for others who fret that America is turning into one big Overeaters Anonymous meeting, Obama’s prescription is like a low-fat dream come true.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Obama is welcoming into his administration the exact same fanatics we have been calling “health Nazis” or “health nannies” for the last 25 years. He is enabling an assault on personal freedom the likes of which have never been seen in America.

Granting the FDA power to regulate tobacco companies is only the beginning. While HHS will handle the administration of the national health care program, the FDA will become the strong right arm of the government, clubbing the food industry into changing what we eat, and bullying consumers into eating “healthy.” Why? Because the government will see this as one of the primary ways to bring down the cost of health care. Cramming “healthy” food down the throats of citizens will be an easy way to reduce the use of health services - so the thinking goes.

How far will they go? Well, certainly taxing “inappropriate” food products will be first on the list. The government needs money obviously, and what better way to get it than to make a soda as expensive as cigarettes? How about $5 for a Twinkie?” Ice cream will be a luxury item. Gone from parties will be chips and dip, foie gras (already banned in Chicago restuarants), crackers and cheese. Otherwise, hostesses will have to take out a second mortgage just to get the money to fund their soirees.

After the taxes will come the minute examination of ingredients. Trans fat will be out, of course. Most preservatives will be a thing of the past (eat quickly). Food dyes? Uh-uh. A trip to the grocery store will become a regimented activity.

Exaggerations? I think mostly yes. At least in the near future. But who knows what justifications the government will use 10 years from now? Or 20? This is a classic slippery slope and to believe that people who have advocated the most draconian measures to control the lives of individuals when it comes to their idea of “health” won’t take advantage of the enormous power the Obama administration is granting them, is a pipe dream. Given the frightening deficits over the next 10 years, who knows how high the taxes will go on products the government deems aren’t “good for you?”

If nothing else, as bureaucrats, they will follow the long standing dictum that in order to continue to receive increases in funding, they have to prove they are needed. This leads to all sorts of bureaucratic mischief as we have seen in the past with other agencies, other departments.

Yes, it is petty and childish of me to look forward to the day when those who have approved of government restrictions on the individual freedom of smokers get their comeuppance. But if you would have been forced to put up with the crap I have had to just to enjoy a perfectly legal product that I choose to use, you might be a little more understanding.

Note: A word about the false premise that smokers drive up the cost of health care and therefore, increased taxes are necessary. Actuarial figures show that smokers live almost 20 years less than non smokers. Because of that, health care dollars spent on non smokers during their lifetime far exceed the amount spent during a smoker’s lifetime.

And if that were justification, why not tax and regulate alcohol the same way - a drug even more addictive than crack cocaine, heroin, or nicotine? The social problems caused by alcohol alone far exceed the amount of money that the state spends on the effects of smoking. Broken families, battered wives, child abuse, crime, homelessness - the list goes on and on. But the government will never tax alcohol as high as cigarettes because distributors are huge contributors to political campaigns of both parties.

This is about power and hypocrisy - not health or the kids.



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:11 am

James von Brunn, an 88 year old Holocaust denying, Jew baiting, racist crazy shot and killed a security guard yesterday at the Holocaust Museum in Washington while wounding another.

Debbie Wilgoren of the Washington Post has the details:

The suspect, identified by law enforcement sources as James W. von Brunn, 88, of Annapolis, was said to be a longtime, “hard-core” supremacist whose Internet writings contain extensive, poisonous ravings against Jews and African Americans. The slain guard, Stephen T. Johns, 39, of Temple Hills, worked for the Wackenhut security company and had been employed at the museum for six years, the museum said.

Officials at George Washington University Hospital, where von Brunn, Johns and an unidentified victim with less serious injuries were taken, said Johns suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and died there. Von Brunn was shot in the face, and the bullet exited his neck, according to a high-ranking police source. He underwent surgery and was in critical condition last night.

Police recovered a notebook in the suspect’s possession that apparently contained a list of District locations, including Washington National Cathedral. Police bomb squads were sent to at least 10 sites.

Evidently, even though von Brunn is identified as a “right wing Christian,” he didn’t have much use for them either. Or Neocons. Or Bush.

Some “right wing” Christian.

According to the left, it’s the right’s fault - specifically, the tea party movement. Or “hate speech.” Or Christian fundamentalism. Or simply because conservatives enjoy killing people.

I don’t know about you but I am getting good and gol’ durned sick and tired of the left playing armchair psychiatrist after every political-type shooting. They way they tell it, von Brunn had a vision of the tea parties in his mind when he pulled the trigger.

They come to the dubious conclusion that it is the fault of conservatives by reading a story in a newspaper. They then diagnose the crazy’s actions as being influenced or even encouraged by conservative “hate speech.” That’s right, they come to a psychological conclusion of what was going on in this lunatic’s mind by reading about the killer in a newspaper story or two.

Reality based community? Give me a break.

They come to this brilliant psychological conclusion by “connecting the dots.” Shooter is “obviously” a conservative. Conservatives are “anti-govrenment.” Hence, the reason the shooter opened fire was because he was influenced by conservative harangues against government.

This kind of dot connecting is simple minded idiocy. If life was about connecting dots, we’d be born with pencils for fingers and a child’s puzzle book for brains. It is an abducto ad absurdum argument where the conclusion is pre-determined - conservatives are at fault - and “logic” is churned and churned, reducing an enormously complex thing like the motivations of a killer to a much too simple, biased, equation that any professional psychologist would dismiss as nonsense.

What was happening in this guy’s life that finally set him off? Was he clinically insane? Did he hear voices? Was he clinically depressed? What was the basis for his unreasoning hatred of Jews and blacks? How was his overall health? Did he recently lose someone close to him? (At age 88, the chances of that happening are pretty good.)

We must remember that when the left goes off on this track, it is not to illuminate reasons for the crime but rather it is done for the political purpose of trashing the opposition. That kind of biased thinking alone should discredit any attempt they make to seriously analyze the motivations of the killer.

Here’s the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center on the possible motivations of von Brunn:

“This is a longtime white supremacist and anti-Semite approaching the end of his life who may have decided to go out shooting,” said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit group in Alabama that tracks right-wing extremists.

No mention of conservative hate speech or the tea party, or any anti-government rhetoric by the right. Why? Because it may very well be - and this is at least equally as plausible a reason von Brunn opened fire - that the killer wanted to kill himself by forcing the guards to defend themselves.

“Suicide by cop” is actually much more common than many people think. Unable to pull the trigger themselves, the unbalanced killer actively seeks out a confrontation with the police in order to have them help him commit suicide. This study (10 years old) discovered that as many as 1 in 10 shootings by LA county sheriffs alone were the result of suspects wanting the police to end his life.

In the absence of any evidence or psychological profile that could guide a rational analysis of this tragedy, it makes sense that the above motivation has equal - perhaps superior merit to the nonsense spouted by the left. But rational analysis does not take into account the political motivations of those who would stand on the backs of tragedy for the mundane purpose of scoring points against their political enemies.

Of course, rationality makes little difference to the left. Everything they can use as a tool to bash the opposition - even scurrilous, nonsensical memes like this - are fair game. So let them make idiots of themselves by playing armchair psychiatrist. Serious people don’t pay any attention anyway.

This blog post originally appeared in The American Thinker.



Filed under: Blogging, Palin, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:51 am

I don’t quite know where I’m going with this so let’s just start a free form, free association post on ass-hat conservatives and childish Republicans.

Yes, here I go again. And again. I don’t care if the left “does the same thing” or that criticizing and riding conservatives whose appalling antics make me cringe in embarrassment for even being associated with such schlock artists causes some of you to explode with indignation that I won’t play ball with “the team” and spout idiocies about how wonderful the public face of the GOP and conservatism is. I am not in the business of excusing the stupidity of anyone - right or left.

If you take the time to peruse the nearly 3,000 posts on this blog you will note that my criticism of the left for their tactics and behavior is, if anything, more hyperbolic, more sarcastically bombastic than almost anything I say about righties. My liberal-bashing credentials are as sound as anyone’s and I defy anyone on the right to say otherwise.

In short, I am an equal opportunity purveyor of snarky goodness. Right, left, center - doesn’t matter. Do something or say something idiotic and I have no qualms of calling you out for it. If you guys haven’t realized that by now, I don’t know what else I can do to convince you.

Be that as it may, Jon Henke, as levelheaded a politico (and conservative) that you’ll find anywhere, wrote last Friday at Next Right:

Many of the most prominent voices in the Republican Party appear determined to behave like children.

At some point, Republicans have got to start demanding their leaders behave like adults instead of demagogues and buffoons.  We need at least one grownup party.

Those links lead to (in order):

* a Steve Benen blog post on Hannity telling his viewers that the president “decided to give 9/11 sympathizers a voice on the world stage,” by saying during his Cairo address “I am aware that there are still some that would question or even justify the events of 9/11.”

*Senator Inhofe calling Obama’s Cairo address “un-American.”

* Michael Steele, guest hosting for Bill Bennett had this to say about “Sotomayor: “God Help You If You’re A White Male Coming Before Her Bench.”

First, how Obama making mention of the wide-spread belief (especially in Egypt) in the Arab world that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Israel or the CIA could possibly be construed as “giving 9/11 sympathizers a voice” is just plain stupid. In fact, in one of the few strong parts of the speech, Obama said belief in such conspiracy theories about 9/11 was an Arab fantasy:

But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.”

A sincere thank you to the president for standing up and saying what needed to be said to those ignorant, conspiracy mongering anti-Semites in the region.

Hannity is as bad as any Media Matters flunkie who consistently takes what conservatives say out of context in order to make it appear that the right eats babies in the morning, rapes virgins in the afternoon, and tops off the day by lynching black people at night.

I’m supposed to be proud to be associated with someone who utters such monstrously misconstrued, patently false statements as Hannity - a true cotton candy conservative with about as much intellectual heft as helium balloon? The fact that he does it on a regular basis and is cheered on by many on the right is even more depressing.

And what about Senator Inhofe? Here’s a conservative who is standing athwart history yelling “stop” at the sun, demanding it not rise. His campaign to promote conspiracy theories about global warming is an embarrassment to anyone who values open debate and respect for the scientific process. I can understand the desire to push back against those whose climate sensibilities are informed by a left wing political agenda. But spouting ignorant nonsense about climate change doesn’t advance the cause and, in fact, has set back the campaign by skeptics to get at least some of the science re-evaluated. He is reckless in that he constantly gets his facts wrong. Advocates for sanity on Climate Change like him, we don’t need.

It is one thing for some internet hack to accuse the president of being “un-American.” It is quite another when a United States senator says the same thing. I tire of trying to explain that Obama’s liberalism demands that he bring America down, airing our dirty laundry to the world, exposing America’s “sins” (as he sees it).

He loves America in a different way than conservatives. Does that delegitimize it? I can’t find the words to describe how idiotic it is to believe that one’s patriotism is more heartfelt than another’s, as if love of country is something that can be quantified or measured. Criticizing America is not the same as hating it - period. Anyone who has ever taken a high school freshman course in history could tell you there is plenty to criticize in our past and anyone who is aware of the post World War II activities of the CIA can also find much fault with the actions of our country. Does that mean we should love it any less? Does that mean that someone who sees these transgressions, these black marks against us, and talks about them is necessarily “un-American?”

I personally find it offensive that Obama feels the need to run around the world talking about our mistakes without, at the same time, extolling our many virtues with equal fervor. By doing so, he plays into the hands of the anti-Americans who like nothing better than to have their nonsensical views of America validated. Obama is wrong - not un-American. And Inhofe is a cretin for saying otherwise.

Finally, what to say about GOP chairman Steele and his ignorant statement that white males will need God’s help if they are luckless enough to appear before Judge Sotomayor after she is confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice? Yes, it’s over the top. Yes, it’s idiotic based on her record (Ricci aside which, as many have already pointed out, denied a couple of Hispanics promotion in the fire department as well). And yes, the statement by Steele is an insult - just like when a liberal calls a conservative a racist.

I oppose Sotomayor’s nomination because I believe she is undistinguished as a judge, her selection was identity politics played to the hilt, and her beliefs about federal judges making law is contrary to the constitutional principles on which America was founded.

But she is not a racist - although she appears to dwell on the issue of race quite a bit. And there is no evidence whatsoever in her 10 year career on the federal bench that white people are treated any differently than people of color. If Steele had bothered to read anything about her instead of spouting talking points, he would certainly find much to criticize without intimating that she’s some Hispanic version of Al Sharpton or David Duke.

Finally, for some real Blowhardiness, Jay Severin wins the cuckoo prize. The Boston area talk show host has just returned from “indefinite” suspension for some remarks he made on air about Mexicans:

The proximate cause of Severin’s latest banishment was a fusillade of intemperate remarks that he made about Mexican immigrants, whom he labeled “leeches,” “primitives” and “criminaliens.” Hospital emergency rooms, he said, have become “essentially condos for Mexicans.” He also blamed, in the midst of the national hysteria over swine flu, our neighbors south of the Border for bringing disease into the United States. “In addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico — women with mustaches and VD — now we have swine flu.”

But this was not the first time that Severin, a former political consultant to Pat Buchanan, had made disgusting comments about a whole group of people on his WTKK radio show. In a 2004 conversation with a caller about whether the United States should “befriend Muslims,” Severin retorted, “You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them.” How’s that for a foreign policy!

Yeah, but liberals say worse stuff, ya know.

Hard to imagine, that. Liberals only say that kind of stuff about Republicans - usually. Letterman’s poisonous hatred of Sarah Palin (and the rest of the media’s apparent belief that you can say any kind of vileness about the Alaska governor and not have to make a trip to the penalty box because whatever you can come up with, Democrats have already said worse) is certainly worthy of stern disapprobation. But Severin’s rants against entire ethnic groups and religions are sublime in their utter disregard for rational discourse and revealing of a petty, small minded, ignorant worldview.

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Gettysburg where the “tough old Mick” sargeant Buster Killrain is talking to Colonel Chamberlain about black sufferage and whether it’s a good idea.

“Only a peawit judges by the group.”

Thank you Buster.

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