Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Climate Chnage, Politics, Science — Rick Moran @ 11:33 am

I know how tempting it is to take these files and emails and try to make a blanket condemnation of all the science that has been done on climate change. And there is no doubt that these specific scientists have a lot to explain with regard to some of their language used in the emails and apparent participation in at least some withholding of data that would contradict their findings.

But examining these revelations from a macro perspective would convince most reasonable skeptics that, while the case against AGW may be growing, the problem of climate change cannot be swept under the rug so easily.

I hate to disabuse some of the more excitable conspiracy theorists out there of their total AGW debunking dreams, but the climate is indeed, changing. It has been changing for 20,000 years and will continue to change. Sometimes,the change can be measured in decades, sometimes centuries, sometimes millenia. The question should be not whether the entire climate change community of thousands of scientists and hundreds of research labs is trying to put one over on us but whether there is anything we can or should be doing to deal with the problem.

It is unfortunate that so many non-scientists have latched on to AGW to promote their own political and economic agendas. I suggest that this is where the fight must be directed; governments, corporations, NGO’s, and the Al Gores of the world who stand to profit enormously from the ruinous policies they promote.

There appear to be many leading advocates for the AGW theory involved in this email controversy. But positing a “global conspiracy” is a stretch. The reason is that the AGW scientific community is just too diverse, too spread out over too many scientific disciplines for such a conspiracy to take root. To believe in such a conspiracy is to posit the idea that thousands of scientists are frauds - a laughable notion that is belied by solid evidence of warming in hundreds of observations and experiments around the world, published in peer reviewed journals for the express purpose of confirming - or denying - these conclusions.

And even some of the language in these emails that has been leapt upon by skeptics may, indeed, be misunderstood:

Dr. Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, confirmed in an interview that the e-mail message was real. He said the choice of words by his colleague was poor but noted that scientists often used the word “trick” to refer to a good way to solve a problem, “and not something secret.”

At issue were sets of data, both employed in two studies. One data set showed long-term temperature effects on tree rings; the other, thermometer readings for the past 100 years.

Through the last century, tree rings and thermometers show a consistent rise in temperature until 1960, when some tree rings, for unknown reasons, no longer show that rise, while the thermometers continue to do so until the present.

Dr. Mann explained that the reliability of the tree-ring data was called into question, so they were no longer used to track temperature fluctuations. But he said dropping the use of the tree rings was never something that was hidden, and had been in the scientific literature for more than a decade. “It sounds incriminating, but when you look at what you’re talking about, there’s nothing there,” Dr. Mann said.

In addition, other independent but indirect measurements of temperature fluctuations in the studies broadly agreed with the thermometer data showing rising temperatures.

Believable? I would say at this point that the burden of proof is on Mann and his colleagues but that some of that explanation sounds reasonable.

This, however, is pretty damning:

Not surprisingly, the Keith mentioned is none other than CRU’s own Keith Briffa, another Hockey-Team leader, whose temperature graphs, derived from tree ring data from Yamal, Russia, were cited by the IPCC as supporting evidence of MBH’s assertion of unprecedented 20th-century warming. But as we reported at the time, that buttress crumbled last month when Briffa’s results were proven to stand no more reliably than Mann’s.

Ultimately, neither reconstruction attained its alarmist imperative goal of proving today’s global temperatures unprecedented. Despite repeated fraudulent efforts to demonstrate otherwise, 20th-century highs remain documented as several degrees cooler than those of the Medieval Warming Period of 900-1300 AD. Bad news for the mankind-stinks crowd in general; worse news for those actually involved in this devious deception.

Both Mann and Briffa had been challenged for years to produce their data, methods, and source code by Climate Audit’s Steve McIntyre. Both ignored the tenets of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) McIntyre cited and fought every effort to induce their coming clean. And actually not without good reason — last month, CRU was effectively forced to release the Yamal information, whereupon an analysis by McIntyre proved that Briffa et al. had cherry-picked and manipulated data, intentionally omitting records not friendly to their position.

The journal in which Mann and Briffa’s data was published failed to demand that the pair release the details of their studies on which the “hockey stick” graph was based, which flew in the face of their own policy! For his part, McIntyre has done a great service to science and the public with his single minded pursuit of the facts. (This WSJ article on McIntyre goes into detail about his quest.)

But does debunking the hockey stick graph debunk global warming as a theory? Not hardly. What makes AGW such a problematic theory is that the evidence is so contradictory, depending on which scientific discipline you choose to study. That, and the almost surreal opposition by AGW advocates in the scientific community to contrary findings. I say surreal because the scientific method does not allow for such rock solid certainty for a theory where the facts are still being gathered and analyzed. The atmosphere is such a monumentally complex system - the AGW theory itself is incredibly diversified to include the oceans, volcanoes, weathering of the mountains, meteorology, chemistry - all of this information plugged into models that so far, have been wildly inaccurate.

This in and of itself does not debunk global warming. As I’ve written previously, models that do not reflect reality are instructive for scientists in that it forces them to go back to the drawing board in order to improve their modeling. Trial and error is part of the scientific method - as long as it is done honestly and without cooking the books to achieve a desired result.

And yet, despite the uncertainty, the contradictory findings, and the almost religious fervor among both scientists and laymen who warn of catastrophe, we are being asked to ship trillions of dollars to other countries, allow the UN sovereignty-destroying power over our economy, and severely restrict industrial activity.

What’s wrong with that picture?

Even without this controversy, there were plenty of unanswered questions about AGW - enough to prevent non-scientists from hijacking the debate in order to achieve power, influence, and riches at the expense of healthy economies. At the very least, I hope that these revelations lead to slowdown in the rush to apply solutions that won’t address the problem as much as they cater to the desires of some powerful people.

I believe there is a case to be made to lower our emissions. This is common sense where uncertainty about AGW is prevelant. There is also an excellent case to be made to find alternative forms of energy to oil. Neither of these goals should be abandoned. But the draconian measures being proposed need to be deep sixed and climate change scientists need to abandon their opposition to skeptical viewpoints and get back to the business of discovering facts untainted by the desire for a specific outcome.

If that will be the lesson we take away from these troubling revelations, the world will be better for it.



Filed under: Decision '08, History, Media, Politics, The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 1:51 pm

The debate over “The Greatest Generation” and whether the way America is today could duplicate their stunning achievements in winning two wars and fighting through a depression while maintaining unity has been hashed and rehashed by far superior minds than mine.

But I just can’t help thinking about it after watching the History Channel this week and their excellent series, “Word War II in HD.”

If you haven’t been able to catch any of it, they will run the entire 10 hours on Saturday starting at 8:00 am central time.

Quite simply, it is the grandest, the most heartbreaking, the most stirring documentary series on World War II ever made. And that includes both “Victory at Sea” and “The World at War.”

TWAW is the gold standard - 32 hours of in-depth analysis of the politics, the strategy, the personalities, and ordeals experienced by civilians during the war. But it is rather soulless. It’s academic approach can be dry, although the images and words of survivors lend an emotionalism outside the rather clinical analysis offered.

“Victory at Sea,” on the other hand, went hard for dramatic effect. With the sonorous voice of Leonard Graves supplying the narration and music by Broadway impresario Richard Rodgers, VAS was a made for TV blockbuster that went right for the heart and kept the viewer entranced with its quick cuts, and snappy pace.

Other documentaries of individual battles (there have been a couple of excellent treatments of D-Day) have suffered from using stock footage that, if you watch enough of these things, you recognize from other projects.

But the History Channel sojourn into the past with “World War II in HD” is everything a good documentary should be; highly original, well scripted, images lining up with narration in an artistic mix, all the while marching forward with a pace that allows the viewer to digest the information and feel what the documentarian is feeling about his subject.

But it is the images that capture the mind and rend the soul. Culled from literally thousands of home movies - many in color - and long lost color combat footage, there is a freshness and even an immediacy about the entire package that has held me absolutely in thrall for the entire run of the series.

The technique is itself, fresh and original. Focusing on several individuals who fought in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters, the survivors take us through everything from the home front, their battle experiences, the horror, mud, blood, guts, and monumental sense of loss when a comrade falls. The narration is accompanied by stunning combat footage - real “You Are There” images of mortar rounds exploding just feet from the camera, horrific sights of the wounded and dead, and always, the total destruction that war leaves in its wake.

A small example of the originality of the series can be found in the way that the narration will, from time to time, fade out slowly and the reading of the script is picked up by the actual survivor. It is an extraordinarily effective technique in that it humanizes the actor reading the narration when, after just a few seconds of the survivor reading, the voice of the actor portraying him is slowly brought back up, while the survivor’s words fade away. This is not a new technique but it it works spectacularly.

The music is obtrusive without overwhelming the action. Indeed, the music is used as a dramatic device to measure the pace of the documentary, mirroring the pace of the excellent narration (Gary Sinise). Beautiful editing builds bridges to succeeding each scene, allowing for seamless segues from clip to clip. A truly masterful job.

A word about the HD: It could be that they really didn’t have anything else to call the project, what with “World War II in Color” already taken. Shooting the program in HD is not the reason to watch it, nor is much of it in HD anyway. The films, as you can imagine, are grainy, and out of focus at times so even with an HD TV, it really doesn’t enhance the viewing experience that much.

All in all, “World War II in HD” is a triumph of documentary film making that should do for World War II what Ken Burns’ “Civil War” did for that conflict; bringing the viewer up close to the war while allowing for us to get to know some fascinating characters who increase our understanding of the conflict. (Burns’ “The War” was good but lacked the dramatic punch of the History Channel treatment.)

And as the last scenes of the documentary faded and the survivors, now all near or over 80 years old were left with their memories, it hit me that the hackneyed question about whether America today could pull together and perform such magnificent feats of arms and industry as those of my father’s generation manged, needed another airing.

Strip away our gadgets, our scientific wonders, and all the cultural, economic, and social touchstones that make up America today and ask yourself; How much like them are we? There’s no doubt that we are quite different in some respects. But like Robert Graves, the great essayist of the World War I generation who saw extraordinary love in the sacrifice of soldiers who marched lockstep into the most murderous fire, is there that kind of feeling for America today that would allow us to meet such huge challenges?

By World War II standards, our military is tiny. More than 16,000,000 Americans wore their country’s uniform in the Second World War. But there is little doubt that our current military is every bit as good, soldier for soldier, as those who beat the Nazis and the Japanese. So the question isn’t really a military one. It is a question of character. The real question should be; How similar is the character of today’s American to that of the World War II generation? Are we made of the same stuff? Do we believe in America as passionately as they did - enough to put aside our political differences and unite to see the job through to its conclusion?

I have my doubts. The whole idea of American sovereignty is fast disappearing - or at least the sort of sovereignty the WWII generation believed in. Call it a blind faith if you will, or perhaps you think it small minded and childish to harbor such notions that sometimes, there is only one side to take and that is the side of the country of your birth. It’s called “chauvinism” today and is quite unfashionable. But without it, we might have quit in 1944. Without that absolute certainty that we were in the right felt by the overwhelming majority of Americans whether at the battlefront or the homefront - whether fighting with a gun, or laboring in the factories and fields - I don’t think we could have done it.

There are many who would celebrate this loss of faith as the inevitable result of America “growing up” or worse, the consequence of a government that has betrayed the people time and again whether it was Viet Nam, Watergate, or some other national event that showed our leaders using us, lying to us, or betraying the principles on which the country was founded.

And yet…

We don’t know, do we? As implacable a foe as radical Islamism, it can’t come close to the existential threat of Hitler and his thugs or the economic threat to our emerging commercial empire in the Far East by Japan. And remember, all of this played out with the backdrop of a national depression where unemployment was still over 10% and most people hurting economically.

I want to believe we’d be up to those kinds of threats regardless of about which generation of Americans you want to talk. I don’t think it would matter what era you choose, I still see Americans as comprising a specific, exceptional “race” if you will. There are national characteristics unique to people who live here that are found nowhere else. We simply couldn’t have achieved what we have achieved, overcome what we’ve been able to overcome (self-inflicted or otherwise) without some spark deep within us that makes us “Americans.”

The conventional answer might be that we wouldn’t stand a chance fighting a long war like WWII today. But one thing is for sure; if I were a foreign power, I wouldn’t make the mistake that the Kaiser made in 1917, Tojo and Hitler made in 1941, or Saddam made in 1991.

And that is underestimate the United States of America.


Filed under: PJ Media, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:11 am

You’ve probably read it all here before but I decided to continue my quest to commit professional suicide and seek a larger audience for my Palin bashing.

From my latest column from PJ Media:

Reagan had a nimble mind and enjoyed jousting with the press, rarely complaining about the unfair treatment he received and, in fact, turning the tables on his adversaries by using self-deprecating humor to make them appear small and petty. Palin, while certainly having cause for complaint, nevertheless acts more like an aggrieved, whiny child who rails against the unfairness of it all.

I have written before of the self-defeating impulse of conservatives to try and anoint some personality as the “next Reagan” — or worse, to try and graft his ideas from 1980 onto solutions that would address our problems today.

Reagan is gone, and what we have is his legacy — a complicated mix of good and bad for which historians will be arguing over for decades to come. Palin and many of her supporters are stuck in this past, unable or unwilling to comprehend the basic reality that the world, America, and time itself have moved on, making whatever Reagan wanted or believed in the 1980s virtually irrelevant to where we are today and, more importantly, where we are headed in the future.

Palin is the anti-Reagan in this and many other respects. Where the Gipper had one eye on the past while trying to look over the next hill into the future, Palin and many of her supporters hold on to the past for dear life as the future rolls up to meet us. I believe this to be her basic attraction to so many conservatives. She offers a comfortable place for those who are so inclined to ignore the verity of the present and who, quite rightly, fear the future. The soothing yet empty bromides, the hackneyed and cliched talking points, and the familiar responses to America’s problems are indicative of a mind incapable of expanding to meet new challenges and new opportunities.

I note the comments are running pretty much as expected. Good thing tar and feathering has gone out of style, huh?

Seriously, there are several commenters who make the ridiculous assertion that my Palin bashing is a ploy to get on TV or something, or win points with the “elites” all the better to further my career. If it wasn’t questioning my integrity, I’d laugh. Not only am I not good enough to get a second look from any of the mainstream media or even the “elite” conservative press, but the fact that my audience for this site continues to dwindle - dropping more than 30% in the last year while traffic at other sites have skyrocketed. That should disprove any such outrageous accusation.

I write what I write because I feel like writing it. My opinions are my own and not disseminated to curry favor with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Disagreeing with conservatives, making a case for a more thoughtful approach to the issues, taking those conservatives to task who deserve it in my opinion - if I were doing this to win friends and advance my career, I am doing a piss poor job of it.

But the charge is indicative of the real problem with most of my detractors; they don’t think. Perhaps they can’t think. For all the Palin bashing I’ve done, all the criticism of conservatism, of Republicans, of the base, of everything else I see as wrong with the right - if that were to garner me attention from those who could advance my career, you would think I’d be making a gazillion dolllars. Instead, I am ensconced in this internet backwater where those precious few readers who discern a morsel or two of common sense from my writings come to visit.

The road to internet fame and riches is to agree with Palin, with the base, with big shot bloggers who get 10 times the traffic I do. So before questioning my integrity, you better have a damn sight more evidence than your idiotic, horse’s ass opinion.

And you know who you are.



Filed under: Blogging, Politics — Rick Moran @ 2:27 pm

Andrew Sullivan was something of a pioneer at one time - a blogger who inspired a lot of people to get take up the obsession and join the conversation that was just starting to take off. He made a name for himself saying it with style, poking a sharpened stick into his targets, repeatedly drawing blood. There was a zest about his writing - witty in a Dorothy Thompson sort of way - a one man Algonquin Roundtable who could spout about any issue from nuclear deterrence to women’s hemlines.

He still has a rough kind of integrity. I say that because he feels he is being true to himself even if he can’t see what a monumental spectacle he is making of himself. And as long as a writer feels he is doing that, who are we to say he “lacks integrity?” Writing is such a personal craft, a bare naked exposition of one’s soul on paper, that only the writer, in those secret places he visits for approval or condemnation in his own mind, can say if he has remained true to the vision he keeps of himself in his imagination.

Sullivan has lost all respect on most of the right. I still find some of what he writes about conservatism compelling if only because his criticisms echo some of my own. But he has lost objectivity and can rarely summon the kind of clear thinking and hard eyed pragmatism that would allow his critiques to blossom into serious, reflective observations.

Oh Andrew. Quo Vadis, my friend?

This is only the second time in its nearly ten-year history that the Dish has gone silent. The reason now is the same as the reason then. When dealing with a delusional fantasist like Sarah Palin, it takes time to absorb and make sense of the various competing narratives that she tells about her life. There are so many fabrications and delusions in the book, mixed in with facts, that just making sense of it - and comparing it with objective reality as we know it, and the subjective reality she has previously provided - is a bewildering task. She is a deeply disturbed person which makes this work of fiction and fact all the more challenging to read. And the fact that she is now the leader of the Republican party and a potential presidential candidate, makes this process of deconstruction an important civil responsibility. We take this seriously as we always have. We want to be fair to her, and to her family, and to the innocent people she has brought into the spotlight. And we are not reporters. We are merely analysts trying to make sense of evidence already in the public domain, evidence that points in all sorts of directions, only one of which can be true.

Since the Dish has tried to be rigorous and careful in analyzing Palin’s unhinged grip on reality from the very beginning - specifically her fantastic story of her fifth pregnancy - we feel it’s vital that we grapple with this new data as fairly and as rigorously as possible. That takes time to get right. And it is so complicated we simply cannot focus on anything else.

There are only three of us.

I would first note the towering arrogance to believe anyone - even avid Sully fans - needs to read 440 words of explanation for why the Daily Dish would not be publishing anymore that day. Unless one were so totally in love with themselves to the point of being addicted to practicing self-fellatio, I would think about 2 sentences could have sufficed.

And to make this exercise in vainglorious blogger self promotion even more bizarre, Sully makes himself out to be a liar by posting an update to why he is not writing anything else on the blog for the day.

That’s right. He wrote on the blog to tell us that he was still not going to write anything on the blog.

I will leave it to my honored enemy Ace to deliver the coup de grace - with a very rusty, very dull scimitar:

Anyone else know of a blogger whose guest bloggers come in to say “Please excuse the insanity demonstrated by my host, he means well enough and he is, as far as we can tell, not a threat to himself or others”? Gotta be a first, right?

And yet here s/he is squawking about Palin’s “unhinged grip on reality” (nice wordsmithing there, by the way: Don’t you hate it when your grip becomes unhinged? I hate when my grip comes off its hinges).

And of course also engaging in extraordinarily tasteless, oblivious self-revelations about his/her twisted psychology. I have never in my life heard a man/woman rant so angrily about a woman’s vagina.

Palin’s vagina, in Andrew Sullivan’s telling, is a member of the Bavarian Illuminati. They’re all there — the Bildergsbergers, the Medicis, the Pope and the Jesuits, the Ghost of Richard Milhouse Nixon, and, of course, Sarah Palin’s genitalia.

You would just think that a professional homosexual like himself would have the good sense to refrain from unhinged-grip (whatever) pronouncements like “it’s the worst form of torture for interrogators to pretend to smear a suspect with fake menstrual blood” and “Sarah Palin’s vagina is the font of all evil in the galaxy.”

Just, like, whoa, dude. Maybe better to keep that mask on, eh? Maybe better to be a little more self-aware, and self-protective, than to keep on with this too-much-information jihad against female genitalia.

We get it. Girl parts are icky and apparently capable of well-nigh-superhuman levels of fecundity. They’re just sort of low-brow and workin’ class. Crude and boorish and devious things, these female genitals.

We get it. Please stop. Please stop.

I don’t have the vision or the desire to look into Sullivan’s heart and glean his intent in all of this. Michelle Malkin believes he is mentally unbalanced and has suffered an episode. She’s not the only one. Who knows? Reading what he wrote above and the “update” I wouldn’t discount anything at this point.

Judging from the bloggers who are writing about this episode, none of Andrew’s erstwhile friends on the left seem to be coming to his defense, or sharing in his anticipation of whatever “subjective reality” Andrew will view Sarah Palin’s book through. Reminds me a little of Cindy Sheehan who was lionized by the left for having the “moral authority” to hate Bush because he killed her son. We noted at the time that the more bizarre Sheehan’s behavior got and the farther left she lurched, her former allies tiptoed away hoping no one would notice that they were previously comparing her to Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks.

Has such a moment arrived for Sullivan? Has he gone so far off the deep end with this Trig birther nonsense that his credibility has been shot even on the left?

A shame. A crying shame, it is.



Filed under: Decision '08, Palin, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 11:09 am

Reading this interview of Sarah Palin by Rush Limbaugh was alarming if you care about the direction of the conservative movement and the Republican party.

It’s alarming because Sarah Palin is not living in this century. Example:

RUSH: You mean that you don’t even hear it (tax cuts) being discussed on the Republican side or within the administration?

GOV. PALIN: Within the administration, and as it is discussed on the Republican side, Republicans need to be bolder about it. Independents need to be bolder about that solution that has got to be considered and plugged in. This is the only solution that will be successful. We need to rehash some history that proves its success. Let’s go back to what Reagan did in the early eighties and stay committed to those commonsense free market principles that worked. He faced a tougher recession than what we’re facing today. He cut those taxes, ramped up industry, and we pulled out of that recession. We need to revisit that.

This recession is far different than the one faced by Reagan in 1980 when he took office. First, this recession is much deeper. The labor market has totally crashed. Whereas in 1980, most workers were laid off or furloughed, with the promise they would be called back eventually, not so this time.

This piece on the Reuters blog points out that there are several reasons why unemployment may top 12% before it begins to come down and why recovery will be incredibly slow - no matter how many tax cuts you can come up with:

1. For the first time in at least six decades, private sector employment is negative on a 10-year basis (first turned negative in August). Hence, the changes are not merely cyclical or short-term in nature. Many of the jobs created between the 2001 and 2008 recessions were related either directly or indirectly to the parabolic extension of credit.

2. During this two-year recession, employment has declined a record 8 million. Even in percent terms, this is a record in the post-WWII experience.

3. Looking at the split, there were 11 million full-time jobs lost (usually we see three million in a garden-variety recession), of which three million were shifted into part-time work.

4.There are now a record 9.3 million Americans working part-time because they have no choice. In past recessions, that number rarely got much above six million.


6. The number of permanent job losses this cycle (unemployed but not for temporary purposes) increased by a record 6.2 million. In fact, well over half of the total unemployment pool of 15.7 million was generated just in this past recession alone. A record 5.6 million people have been unemployed for at least six months (this number rarely gets above two million in a normal downturn) which is nearly a 36% share of the jobless ranks (again, this rarely gets above 20%). Both the median (18.7 weeks) and average (26.9 weeks) duration of unemployment have risen to all-time highs.

7. The longer it takes for these folks to find employment (and now they can go on the government benefit list for up to two years) the more difficult it is going to be to retrain them in the future when labour demand does begin to pick up.

Sorry, Sarah. Tax cuts alone ain’t gonna fix this. Millions of jobs have been permanently lost - millions. You are living in a dream world - or time warp - if you believe that a little Reagan-like tax cutting will lift all boats.

(The fact that it was Reagan/Volker monetary policy that most economists credit with taming inflation which allowed the tax cuts to work their magic seems lost on Palin.)

And I am all for “common sense” whether it be applied to free market principles or anything else. But as far as “ramping up industry?” Would someone please inform our uninformed former Alaskan governor that the manufacturing sector has shrunk by 2/3 since 1980 and “ramping up” a disappearing sector of the economy is something akin to ramping up the horse and carriage industry?

Yes, it is a time warp - tired, old solutions to problems that sound as grating and tinny on the ear as a wax disc being played on an old gramophone. Almost since this blog’s inception, I have been agitating for the GOP to drop this 1980’s mantra of “cut taxes, cut spending, shrink government, strong defense.” There is nothing much wrong with any of those ideas except they need to be refashioned to reflect 21st century realities.

How much can you cut taxes when the deficit is at $1.7 trillion and climbing? When the national debt is soaring over $12 trillion? Without corresponding cuts in the budget, it would be the height of irresponsibility to add to the problem. And if memory serves, when the GOP was in the majority the last time, they weren’t enamored of cutting anything from the budget.

Shrink government? Fine idea, I’m all for it. Where to begin? Whose services do you cut first? The old? The poor? The Middle Class? Entitlement reform is a good place to start but since bi-partisanship is out of the question (so I am told), how do you accomplish that politically suicidal manuever?

We’re already spending half a trillion on defense while engaged in two wars. Perhaps we could amend the “strong defense” goal with a “smart defense” battle cry. I don’t think we’ll be fighting the Russians on the plains of mittel europa for the foreseeable future. But much of our defense spending is geared in that direction. A reordering of priorities is desperately needed if we are to fight the wars of the 21st century.

The long and short of it is Palin and most of her supporters believe you can slap the template used to achieve victory 30 years ago and win going away in 2010-12. What’s eerie is that the 1980-era Democrats offered New Deal solutions to the recession, making the exact same mistake today’s conservatives are proposing. Trying decades-old remedies for what ails us is myopic. The world has moved on, conditions have changed, the economy is as different as can possibly be imagined today compared to 1980 and yet Palin wants to graft those ideas onto the today’s economic problems.

And if you want more evidence that Sarah Palin is out of touch with the modern world, here she is again:

GOV. PALIN: I think just naturally independents are going to gravitate towards that Republican agenda and Republican platform because the planks in our platform are the strongest to build a healthy America. We’re all about cutting taxes and shrinking government and respecting the inherent rights of the individual and strengthening families and respecting life and equality. You have to shake your head and say, “Who wouldn’t embrace that? Who wouldn’t want to come on over?” They don’t have to necessarily be registered within the Republican Party in order to hook up with us and join us with that agenda standing on those planks. In Alaska, about 70% of Alaskans are independent. So that’s my base. That’s where I am from and that’s been my training ground, is just implementing commonsense conservative solutions. Independents appreciate that. You’re going to see more and more of that attraction to the GOP by these independents as the days go on.

“Who wouldn’t embrace that?” Oh, say about 65 million voters.

And there are plenty of commenters who point out that Palin has abandoned her “independent” personae and is now fully engaged as the tribal chieftain of right.


Everything she has done since arriving on the national stage has involved steadily distancing herself from her short record as governor. Reihan has already given up on her as a viable political leader, and I’m not surprised. Reihan is a smart writer interested in policy ideas and their application in reforming government, and there would not be much call for that in Palin’s GOP. Continetti has embarked on a project of rehabilitating the national political fortunes of someone who dropped out of elective office in her own state mostly because she could not put up with the tactics of her opposition and the scrutiny of the media. Why should we take such a project seriously? If arguments in support of Palin’s political future don’t deserve to be dismissed pretty quickly, no argument ever should be.

I would have thought that anyone interested in promoting reasoned, thoughtful discussion would shudder at the thought of a Republican Party led and defined by Sarah Palin, whose national political career has been one episode of inflammatory, uninformed agitation after another. That is the kind of party and the kind of conservatism Continetti is working to create. Fortunately, his preferred candidate is so politically radioactive to most of the country that it will never take hold.

“[I]nflammatory, uninformed agitation,” you say? How’s this?

Palin blamed a culture of political correctness and other decisions that “prevented — I’m going to say it — profiling” of someone with Hasan’s extremist ideology. “I say, profile away,” Palin said. Such political correctness, she continued, “could be our downfall.”

OK - so is that “reasoned thoughtful discussion,” or “inflammatory, uninformed agitation…?”

The point isn’t that it is better to risk the caterwauling from CAIR about placing an emphasis on searching Muslim men at the airport. The point is the incredibly cavalier manner in which she offered her opinion. How can anyone take someone like that seriously as a potential president?

Reading the Limbaugh interview proves that she is better at articulating talking points and that the talking points themselves are a little better. But one is still left with the impression that she is a depthless wonder with an understanding of the issues that’s a mile wide and an inch deep. This is fine for your run of the mill congressman or even if you want to aspire to the senate. Joe Biden got by on such shallowness for a couple of decades and look where it got him.

I fully realize my opinion of Sarah Palin is not that of a majority of true conservatives. But then, it appears that the majority would rather go down in flames with Palin than take down Obama in 2012:

A new national poll suggests that the Democrats may be the party of pragmatism and Republicans may be the party of ideological purity.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey’s release on Tuesday comes just two weeks after internal party divisions led to the GOP loss of a seat in the House of Representatives that it had held since the 19th century.

The poll indicates that a slight majority, 51 percent, of Republicans would prefer to see the GOP in their area nominate candidates who agree with them on all the major the issues even if they have a poor chance of beating the Democratic candidate. Forty-three percent of Republicans say they would rather have candidates with whom they don’t agree on all the important issues but who can beat the Democrats.

I would vote for Marco Rubio even though I disagree with him on a few issues. But would a majority of Republicans vote for Charlie Crist if he were to beat Rubio in a primary? I also disagree with Crist - probably more than I disagree with Rubio - but would vote for either man because our agreement on issues far outweighs any disagreements.

And this is “unprincipled?” Some conservatives are acting like spoiled brats who, if they don’t get absolutely everything they want out of a candidate, are going to take their vote, go home, and sit on it. This is not responsible citizenship. There is nothing “principled” about it either. It is childish to act in this manner.

This is not to say there shouldn’t be primary challenges from conservatives to some GOP incumbents. There are a few who deserve it. But if conservatives take the position that anyone who doesn’t agree with them on 100% of “their” issues should be tossed aside, there will indeed be a bloodbath that will weaken the party at a time when opportunity is beckoning.

I might also add that with that kind of attitude, even if the Republicans experience massive gains in 2010, the chance to take the White House and hold on to those gains in 2012 will be a big question mark. Even if the economy is still horrible in 2012, this desire to eat our own will fatally weaken the party and it is likely that a lot of winners from 2010 will go down to defeat in 2012.

In total, I would have to say that the Sarah Palin phenomenon is poison for conservatism and deadly to the Republican party. But blinded by an inexplicable attraction to this polarizing, ill-informed, political Svengali, it is quite possible that the movement and the party will go down to defeat to the sound of thunderous applause.



Filed under: The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 5:44 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, Andrew Ian Dodge, Melissa Clouthier, and Sister Toldjah join me for a discussion on the relevancy of Sarah Palin in national politics.

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: Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 10:37 am

I have been criticized on this site, sometimes for good reason, for being too general in trashing the left. This was especially true earlier in the history of this blog when I was enamored of the possibility that total victory by the right was ultimately necessary and possible. I have grown up a bit since then, intellectually speaking, tightened my reasoning and dropped the idea that any of us have a corner on truth. In a real sense, this was liberating as well as satisfying; it describes the world more accurately while allowing the objective examination of all ideas regardless of their source, thus contributing to understanding and knowledge.

But I still admit to a certain intellectual laziness in this regard. It’s always easier to generalize and readers would recognize my rather caustic comebacks to commenters who lump me together with the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

In truth, there are a liberals out there who I read who resist their own impulses to generalize about conservatives, and who offer cogent, logical arguments advancing their positions on issues and countering the arguments from the right in a thoughtful, civil manner. Just a few I can name off the top of my head would be Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, David Weigel, Jonathan Cohn, Marty Perez and a gaggle of lefties at The New Republic. Most of these gentlemen and ladies I have disagreed with - violently at times - over policy. But they are far above the average lefty blogger whose gross exaggerations and oversimplifications of conservatism really rankle me.

I was pleased today to discover another liberal who I will be able to read without my head exploding. In this reprint of an article in The American Conservative from last December, conservative author Patrick Allitt introduces us to George Scialabba, a liberal “public intellectual” who reflects what is termed a “neo-liberal” point of view on economic matters, while delivering a hearty critique of industrial capitalism.

Scialabba’s views, as they are described by Allitt (I am off to Amazon later to buy his book), sound more Von Mises or Hayek than John Maynard Keynes. Allitt describes him thusly:

Scialabba is a rare bird among serious nonfiction writers in that he’s not a professor or a foundation fellow. In some ways reminiscent of the longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer, he comes to the work of Plato, David Hume, Matthew Arnold, and Karl Marx not on the basis of a life spent in university seminars but from his own experiences as a social worker and office clerk. He can always produce an appropriate insight from John Stuart Mill or a scintillating quip from George Bernard Shaw. He keeps alive the ideals of the Enlightenment, dares to think utopian thoughts, and still feels the romantic pull of the Left, but hardly ever succumbs to wishful thinking. This collection of his essays and reviews from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s makes surprising reading, not least because Scialabba, from a principled position on the Left, makes so many assertions with which conservatives will readily agree.

Those of us on the right who identify with Burke rather than Locke will see a conflict in Scialabba. There has always been more “romance” with liberal ideas and personalities because in many ways, these concepts speak to the longing for if not a perfect world, then certainly a more livable one. There have been very few conservative Utopians - at least not in the traditional sense of the word, because the right realizes such schemes always come with a price; someone’s idea of “Utopia” might not match everyone else’s. The germ of coercion is plainly evident in any practical realization of a “Utopian” society.

Surprisingly, while Scialabba recognizes this by reluctantly accepting the fact that that the world is far too complex for any realistic hope for creating a perfect society, he nevertheless still pushes the idea because something so good is worth striving for anyway:

But must increasing complexity and the sinister reach of propaganda end the dream of a better world? In a meditation on utopianism, Scialabba says no. He understands the intellectual progress of recent centuries as a joint venture undertaken by skeptics and visionaries, who challenged ancient falsehoods and dreamed of a finer world: “The skeptics can be seen as clearing a space for the utopian imagination, for prophecies of a demystified community, of solidarity without illusions. The skeptics weed, the visionaries water.” He is not ashamed to outline his own utopia, a world in which everyone will sing in harmony at least once a week, in which folks will know plenty of great poems and speeches by heart, have useful and stimulating work, enjoy civil arguments with one another, won’t depend on consumerism for a feeling of self-worth, and will be able to hike in unspoiled wilderness. I would be glad to join him there.

Heh - sounds pretty good to me too.

Scialabba also has some thoughts about most modern liberal intellectuals, taking them to task for being too “academic” and not getting into the trenches with other activists to effect change:

Scialabba regrets that most leftist intellectuals have given up on utopia and retreated completely into academic life. They deceive themselves, he argues, when they claim that their esoteric work in critical theory has political significance. Their ventures in multiculturalism, he adds, are often mere academic empire building, which do little or nothing to aid the actual disadvantaged members of society. Worse, by asserting that their academic work is “political,” they feel absolved from doing the hard and joyless work of organizing and agitating that their predecessors generally undertook.

Equally, he regards the Left’s politicization of high culture as “misguided and counterproductive,” and he deplores the “staggering amount of mediocre and tendentious” art that has been produced on behalf of political correctness. In an essay about The New Criterion, he notes that its editors, Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball, find it difficult to specify the exact aesthetic and moral criteria by which all art should be judged. Never mind, he says, it is enough that they “muddle along, employing and occasionally articulating the criteria that have emerged from our culture’s conversation since the Greeks initiated it, and showing that what used to and still usually does underwrite our judgments about beauty and truth is inconsistent with giving Robert Mapplethorpe a one-man show … or Toni Morrison a Nobel Prize.”

This is a liberal who actually values substance over form, and recognizes that modern liberalism (as much of modern conservatism) has degenerated into a riot of personal conceits where a strict ideological construct prevents freedom of thought: Where forms like “political correctness” and multi-culturalism” stifle independent thinking in attempting to shoehorn art, politics, and cultural conformity into an “accepted” narrow, definitional framework.

No, it is not as “conservative” as it might sound. What Scialabba appears to be after, above all, is an intellectually honest, liberal critique of modernity that, while recognizing the market as a far better mechanism for spreading and creating wealth than any other system, nevertheless takes as dim a view of the right as he does with some of his friends on the left:

Scialabba opposes the standardization and facelessness that often accompany modernity. In an essay on Michael Walzer, he speaks up against abstractions and in favor of particular, usually national, loyalties. “The minimal code of near-universally recognized rights that underwrites international law is too thin to support a dense moral culture. Only a shared history—which usually means a national history—of moral discourse, political conflict, and literary achievement can generate values of sufficient thickness and depth.” Again, conservative readers would nod in agreement.

Moreover, Scialabba resists the temptation to think that the end sometimes justifies the means. He praises Lionel Trilling for his chastened sense of progressivism, his insistence that moral scrupulosity always matters, no matter how desirable the political objective. Trilling’s view, he argues, was “yes to greater equality, inclusiveness, cooperation, tolerance, social experimentation, individual freedom … but only after listening to everything that can be said against one’s cherished projects, assuming equal intelligence and good faith on the part of one’s opponents, and tempering one’s zeal with the recognition that every new policy has unintended consequences, sometimes very bad ones.” Insights like these, scattered throughout this collection, offer a welcome reminder that the distance between at least some parts of the Left and Right is far smaller than our more irritable pundits would like us to believe.

Most conservatives today would take exception to the idea that our differences with the left - on some issues at least - are indeed “far smaller than our more irritable pundits would like us to believe.” But why shouldn’t that be so? After all, we share pretty much the same Enlightenment values (with admittedly a different emphasis on which ones are important), and there are areas of agreement to one degree or another on the value of liberty and human dignity.

Where we part company are on the means to achieve common goals. I am not sure what kind of bridges can be built with most of today’s liberals. But perhaps seeking out areas of commonality is a good place to start.



Filed under: Blogging, Decision '08, Decision 2012, Ethics, Media, Palin, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:35 am

I risk life and limb writing about the former Alaska governor. Like the supporters of failed presidential candidate and official GOP weirdo Ron Paul, any negative comments I would make about the real conservative’s favorite MILF is going to bring an army of supporters to her defense while trashing me in the most unseemly terms imaginable.

Fortunately, I am well hidden in this corner of the blogosphere, and few real conservatives would be caught dead reading anything I write. However, Google search is ubiquitous in its reach and chances are, there are a couple of dozen Palinbots who will receive an email in their inbox informing them of my post. At that point, their email lists will fairly crackle with activity as my offense against the Goddess will be spread far and wide, bringing wrack and ruin down upon me.

Thus, I wade into the morass that Palin has made of her career with a little trepidation, but with a clear eye and my usual muddled head. The latter might usually be seen as a deficiency but when writing about Palin, it may actually prove a boon since what other frame of mind can you employ to write about a woman so challenged by fact and in love with fancy?

Let’s get the facts out of the way first; there has never been a vice presidential candidate that was treated so unfairly by the media in the modern age. The number of rumors, falsehoods, and lies that were published as fact about her is truly astonishing and has no parallel in modern politics. (Such blackening the name of candidates with prevarications was routine in the 19th century but died out when newspapers became more independent of parties.)

I am surprised that I have not read that Sarah Palin bites the heads off chickens and drinks their blood. Charles Martin took the trouble of listing the media lies about Palin, stopping at 84 linked entries - that’s links to the lies as well as links that clearly debunk the lies.

This does not include the vicious attacks made in various magazines from Vanity Fair to Redbook that repeat some of the lies while making up a few more of their own. I challenge any fair minded liberal to refute these facts.

I normally hate to see any conservative treated so abysmally by those who claim to be, if not unbiased, then fair; if not balanced, then reasonable. Palin’s treatment has been neither fair nor reasonable. Many explanations have been given for this including the unprovable assumption that liberals hate strong conservative women. I think many liberals hate all conservatives whether they are men, women, transgendered, or eunuchs. Their mode of attack changes a little from sex to sex so perhaps it appears they single out women of the right for special treatment, but it’s really all part of the same mindset; conservatives are poopy heads and nothing is out of bounds in criticizing them.

The question before us is can the narrative regarding Palin be altered to make her a viable candidate for 2012? With 60% of the American people currently dead set against voting for her for president under any circumstances, it would seem to be a very tall mountain for her to climb in order for her to achieve the respect of the voters; something she never had to begin with among a majority and seems to have damaged herself further by abandoning her office. Her tabloid like-presence in American culture has also dragged her down, as has the fact that very few of the elites in the Republican party take her seriously as a party leader.

And well they shouldn’t. They may fear her influence with the 20% or so of the party who would support her aspirations in 2012, but beyond that, they and most of the rest of us find it difficult to take one so shallow and uninformed seriously. As far as I can tell, she has done little in the intervening year since the election to rectify her appalling ignorance of the world, and even domestic issues like health care. The author of the “death panels” remark may have succeeded in scaring old people to death but if I were her, I would hardly stand on that as an accomplishment.

Her fan base - and indeed many on the right - applauded her fear mongering because they believe it slowed down the legislative process and got conservatives back in the game. I believe they are overstating her influence as there were other factors, including senior citizens both Democrat and Republican who were already up in arms over the proposed Medicare cuts who showed up in droves at town hall meetings and voiced their concerns. In effect, Palin may have simply tossed some nitro on an already volatile situation.

And this is the kind of leader these jamokes want?

What Daniel Larison and others refer to as her “psuedo-populism” appears to highlight her very “ordinariness” and “just folks” personae. The trouble with this as I see it is that there is an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism that undergirds her anti-establishmentarian shtick. She has made her shallow, depthless understanding of the world into a badge of honor, and indeed, her supporters push the idea that this is a positive good, that having a president as unversed in nuance as they are of policy and programs would be kind of neat. Sure would be a switch from all those brainy establishment elitists who don’t want to roll back the New Deal and Great Society, making this country into a true conservative paradise.

This is not to say that Palin is stupid. She’s intellectually lazy. I wouldn’t necessarily call her incurious in a George Bush sort of way but neither would I refer to her as possessing the innate intelligence of a Ronald Reagan who actually did change the narrative about himself. Reagan had an active, curious mind and the good sense to reach out to experts who educated him, as well as filling in knowledge gaps by reading voraciously. Palin does not seem to have that spark, that drive, that hunger for knowledge that anyone as ill informed as she admits herself to be should possess. Therefore, I hold no hope that she can transform herself into a reasonably well informed politician.

You can see where this piece has been going. No, I don’t think Palin can alter the narrative about herself in time for 2012, and I think it improbable that she will ever be able to rise above the level in American politics as a curiosity, a side show -grist for the conservative base who, if they get their wish and nominate her in 2012, will find that the political baggage she carries along with her determined ignorance will lead to a Reaganesque landslide for Obama.

In order for her to flip her position with the electorate, she has to want to change the reasons they hold such a low opinion of her - alter their perceptions by addressing their concerns about her. Unless and until I see that happening, the chances are good that she won’t even be able to win the GOP nomination much less the general election.



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 11:09 am

OK, so the president of the United States made a bow to the Emperor of Japan. Yes, he also bowed to the Saudi King, even though press secretary Gibb’s nose grew about 6 inches when he offered that the president was really trying to pick something up off the floor.

I can understand the motivation for lying - hysterical kooks saying that the bow proves the president is really a Moooooslim - but really, couldn’t he have come up with something a little more imaginative? Maybe the president was trying to stretch his back - he hurt it playing basketball, you see. Or perhaps the president had a cramp and was doubled over in pain. Either one of those explanations would have been better than the invisible whatever that was on the floor that the president felt compelled to reach down and pick up just as he was greeting the Saudi King Abdullah.

Whether to the Sheikh of Araby or Hirohito’s son, I am told it doesn’t matter by my liberal friends, that this is a distraction, that it’s typical right wing hand wringing, that nobody cares, that you’re supposed to bow to the emperor, that everybody does it so what’s the big deal besides Obama never does anything wrong and is perfect….

OK - Well, I just sort of extrapolated from their argument that last bit.

One wonders if there will ever be any monumental goof this president makes that would rise above the level of “distraction” and actually be a cause for complaint. And by “monumental” I mean a serious breach of protocol. Tom Lifson at American Thinker spent many years in Japan and offers this:

I agree with Scott Johnson, Steve Gilbert, Andrew Malcom, and many others that the President of the United States should not be bowing before any head of state. But unlike these astute observers, I actually know a little something about the art of the bow in Japan, having lived in Japan four different times on a resident visa, taught East Asian Studies at Harvard, and counseled many hundreds of American, European, Middle Eastern, and Australian executives on how to work and negotiate with the Japanese — including teaching them the right way to bow.

Obama’s bow (below) violates a fundamental precept: NO TOUCHING while bowing.


Here is one of many websites that illustrates how to bow in Japan. The one thing that virtually everyone who teaches bowing etiquette stresses is under no circumstance try to combine a bow with a handshake.

The Emperor appears to smile, which is something polite Japanese are taught to do when embarrassed. Unlike just about everyone who comes into the Emperor’s presence, Obama obviously received no instruction on Imperial etiquette. (Note: The Japanese take their monarch and etiquette in general about 100 times more seriously than do the British.)

That’s fine with me. I wouldn’t like our president to receive such instructions from a foreign entity. But he obviously did not indicate to any of the American embassy staff, nor to any aides familiar with Japan that he intended to bow, and bow deeply. Anyone with about two days’ familiarity with Japan knows about bowing. The average person in Japan bows dozens of times a day. You see it everywhere.

Lifson goes on to say that the emperor’s reaction was in keeping with someone who has been embarrassed and chooses to smile broadly instead. Looking at pics of other world leaders greeting the emperor, seems to bear that out.

So is it a big deal that Obama bows to the son of Hirohito, a man who could have easily stopped the attack on Pearl Harbor but didn’t? The son of a man who acquiesced in atrocities as his army literally raped its way across Asia? The son of a man whose real war crimes would have had him hanging from a gibbet without the intercession of McArthur who needed him as a figurehead to control the post-war Japanese population?

Is it a big deal that we fought a revolution so that no American forevermore would ever have to bow to another sovereign? This isn’t just some quaint little tradition that conservatives shouldn’t get their panties in a twist over. This means something - to history, to the nature and character of Americans, to how we define ourselves as a people. No bowing - ever. That has been the standard American presidents have followed for 240 years. Why is it all of a sudden a “distraction” to point this out? Can we at least criticize the president for his doltish understanding of protocol? His towering ignorance? His arrogance in making us look like a bunch of international rubes who don’t know the first thing about greeting an ally?

Apparently, the definition of America to Obama and his snickering, simpering, ultra-cynical supporters includes not only fashioning a foreign policy that gives the appearance of groveling, but performing the actual act as well.

I wonder if he’ll kow tow to the Chinese when he visits later this week? That would be another “distraction,” I suppose. He might as well considering that the thugs in Beijing hold about $3 trillion of our debt. Maybe if he kneels and touches his head to the floor they won’t ask him how he intends to pay it back.


Steve Pendlebury at AOL’s The Sphere points out that I am in error for making the sweeping statement that no president ever bowed to a monarch in our history.

“His bow is neither (1) unprecedented nor (2) a sign of cultural understanding,” an academic who knows Japanese culture well explained in a message to ABC’s Jake Tapper. In 1971, President Nixon bowed to
Emperor Hirohito and his wife and repeatedly referred to them as “Your Imperial Majesties.”

Nixon got the bow right, though — a slight bend from the waist with hands at his side. “Obama’s handshake/forward lurch was … jarring and inappropriate,” according to Tapper’s friend.

Referring to a monarch by their title is fine - I have no problems with that. That, indeed, is protocol and part of the diplomatic rituals to which all presidents must adhere.

And it would satisfy my curiosity if there was anything said about that bow of Nixon’s at the time. A brief search of the New York Times archives failed to turn up anything, although the good professor didn’t mention the year of Nixon’s visit. Given the contempt the national press felt for Nixon, I wonder if any of them took the opportunity to take him to task for it.

I apologize for my error in making Obama the only president who dissed our revolution. But while we’re discussing it, why did the White House lie again about the bow, calling it “protocol?”

If that were the case, several dozen other world leaders who met the emperor and didn’t bow were breaking protocol. Obviously, the White House is once again full of it. The question is; what are they ashamed of?

When Obama bowed to the Saudi King Abdullah, why not come out and say that the president was showing respect to the Guardian of Mecca? Or when he bowed to the emperor, why not just say he was humoring an old man or something? The president has made a point to deny American exceptionalism. That is his choice. If he wants to bow to every prince and potentate on the planet, he can do so. Maybe it is a kind of “distraction.”

Except they’re lying about it. That is not a distraction, that is a question of presidential credibility. We supposedly just went through a period of 8 years where a president had no credibility because he lied all the time. Obama’s lies are becoming painful and obvious. This may be one small lie but it fits into a larger pattern that should concern even liberals. If you want honest government, you don’t excuse lies, you don’t defend lies, you call them out and shame the liars.

I still think it was wrong for the president - any president - to bow before royalty.



Filed under: Government, Homeland Security, Media, Politics, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 12:43 pm

The news that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in New York City kind of shocked me yesterday. It has cheered some, worried others, and made some on the right white hot with anger.

Those who see this as a “triumph of the American Justice system” are blowing smoke out of their ass - including Obama. Let’s face it - he is gambling with the lives of God knows how many New Yorkers that we can stop any terrorist attacks occurring during the trial. Some on the right are accusing Obama of not thinking about this possibility, but that is certainly not true. The government is going in to this situation with their eyes wide open and the fact that we are bringing KSM to New York when he easily could have been tried in exactly the same manner at Guantanamo (or out in the middle of the Mojave desert for that matter) shows us that they wish to make some kind of grandiose statement about American justice.

This then is the calculated risk being taken by the president; that it is worth the threat to innocent Americans to prove our justice system is capable of handling even the most dedicated and evil enemy combatant. I don’t deny that this is a worthy goal. But weighed in the balance against what it might cost us, I believe, quite simply, it is a monumental mistake.

Not only are innocents at risk, but how sure is the administration that this trial won’t degenerate into the kind of idiocy we witnessed during the Simpson trial? Would that prove the efficacy of our justice system? Or would it be remembered as a shameful moment in the history of American jurisprudence?

Can any judge anywhere prevent this trial from becoming a media circus? Not unless they want to lock up half the journalists in America or censor their work. Is it even remotely possible that this trial will not be televised? Fat chance. Can both the defense attorneys and prosecutors resist the temptation to grandstand, to play to the TV audience rather than the jury? How about the judge?

The belief that this trial will show-off the “American justice system” in all its solemnity and seriousness is a laugher. And again, the government is not stupid. They know this will happen. This will be the OJ trial on steroids - the highest rated legal series on TV since Law and Order was in its heyday. And yet, despite the real possibility that terrorists - even the lone wolf Nidal Hasan variety - will try and grab the limelight by slaughtering a bunch of innocent New Yorkers, the government is insisting on idiotic posturing rather than protecting the people.

At bottom, this is a political decision, not a legal one. The Wall Street Journal:

Please spare us talk of the “rule of law.” If that was the primary consideration, the U.S. already has a judicial process in place. The current special military tribunals were created by the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which was adopted with bipartisan Congressional support after the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision obliged the executive and legislative branches to approve a detailed plan to prosecute the illegal “enemy combatants” captured since 9/11.

Contrary to liberal myth, military tribunals aren’t a break with 200-plus years of American jurisprudence. Eight Nazis who snuck into the U.S. in June 1942 were tried by a similar court and most were hanged within two months. Before the Obama Administration stopped all proceedings earlier this year pending yesterday’s decision, the tribunals at Gitmo had earned a reputation for fairness and independence.

As it happens, Mr. Holder acknowledged their worth himself by announcing that the Guantanamo detainee who allegedly planned the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole off Yemen and four others would face military commission trials. (The Pentagon must now find a locale other than the multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art facility at Gitmo for its tribunal.)

Taking the side of the administration, the New York Times praises this “return” to the rule of law (the military courts, as the WSJ notes, were operating under rules passed by a bi-partisan Congress which means that the Times agrees with the tea partyers that Congress can act unlawfully.)

Putting the five defendants on public trial a few blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center is entirely fitting. Experience shows that federal courts are capable of handling high-profile terrorism trials without comprising legitimate secrets, national security or the rule of law. Mr. Bush’s tribunals failed to hold a single trial.

The fact that defense lawyers are likely to press to have evidence of abuse aired in court — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was tortured by waterboarding 183 times — is unlikely to derail the prosecutions, especially given Mr. Holder’s claim to have evidence that has not been released yet.

I don’t think there is a debate that our courts are completely unable to handle terrorist cases, or other sensitive trials where national security is a concern. I would note that the Times, while taking John Cornyn to task for the senator’s characterization of the government’s action of trying KSM and his friends as “common criminals,” makes the same mistake with KSM; they assume he is a “common terrorist” and that previous court cases prove that justice can be served.

KSM is a “common” nothing and the Times is being disingenuous throughout that entire editorial. If ever there was a special case where exceptions to the rule are in order, it is this one.

I am not concerned that KSM may be acquitted. I’m sure the charges will be sufficiently broad to allow him to be convicted of something. I am also sure that he will never see the outside of a cell in his lifetime.

The question is one of intelligently balancing the need for security and the need for justice - something that the left accused Bush of failing to do by pointing out that he bent over backward toward the goal of security while justice suffered.

Isn’t President Obama doing exactly the same thing? Aren’t we now putting the concept of justice far ahead of security? If justice was the goal, a New York venue for the trial would not have been necessary. There is no rational argument that makes it so without also making the point that security should be a secondary consideration.

This is what the administration has done.They have consciously made a choice to put the lives of American citizens at risk for what is, in effect, propaganda - to show the world (and satisfy his domestic liberal base) that American justice is a superior system, or, in the words of the Times, KSM will be “…tried in a fashion that will not further erode American justice or shame Americans.”

I’ll believe that when I see it. This trial has all the potential to “further erode American justice and shame Americans.” Legal circuses usually have that effect.

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