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8/17/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: IS THAT A MOSQUE YOU’RE WEARING OR ARE YOU JUST GLAD TO SEE ME?

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

Tonight, I welcome Ed Morrissey, Monica Showalter, and Jazz Shaw for a discussion of the political ramifications of the mosque controversy for the president and for both parties.

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.”

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

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 4:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

IS ISLAM THE NEW THIRD RAIL IN AMERICAN POLITICS?
CATEGORY: Politics

Last weekend when President Obama played good cop/bad cop in trying to articulate his position on the Ground Zero mosque, one was left with the distinct impression that the president didn’t know quite where he stood on the issue.

After a fine, brave defense of Muslims to build there, the president “clarified” his position a few hours later by basically saying “no they don’t.” Obama realized too late he had touched the newest third rail in American politics and gotten electrocuted for his troubles.

What the president apparently didn’t realize is that any defense of the mosque was tantamount to supporting the idea of it being built at Ground Zero. Later, as he tried to cleave his statement on constitutional rights by attempting to separate the abstract notion of rights from the real world idea that Muslims were attempting to construct an icon to their religion at the site of the worst terrorist attack in American history - carried out by Muslims - Obama came off wishy washy. The perception by both mosque proponents and opponents was that he took sides in the controversy and then tried to weasel out of his position.

But Obama and the Democrats aren’t the only ones who have discovered that touching the Islam issue can be hazardous to one’s political health. While 70% of Americans oppose building the mosque at Ground Zero, most of those Americans agree with the president that Muslims have the same rights as any other religion to practice their faith whenever and wherever they see fit. The GOP tried gamely to separate their opposition to the mosque from the crazies in their base who are rightly perceived as bigots in their view of Muslims - all Muslims - as “the enemy” in the War on Terror. Protestations to the contrary, the notion that “the only good Muslim, is a dead Muslim” is not unknown among the knuckledraggers.

In truth, much of the GOP base is not in favor of killing all Muslims. They just want to deny them equal standing in American society with Christianity. There are probably less than 3 million Muslims in America and yet, every accommodation by schools, cities, towns, and municipalities to Muslim traditions and religious practices brings forth the most wildly hysterical accusations of the “dhimmification” of America. A proposed foot bath at the University of Michigan brought an over the top response from noted self promoting, anti-Muslim blogger Debbie Schlussel. The idea of making the Eid a school holiday in New York brought this blogger to a state of near apoplexy.

The idea that so few Muslims could force the rest of us to accept Sharia law or forcibly convert us is, of course, idiotic. So there have also been proposals to limit or eliminate immigration from Muslims countries, which gives some in the base a twofer; anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bigotry to boot.

This is part of the baggage being carried by Republican critics of the mosque who must avoid any appearance of intolerance lest they be tied to the rabid bigotry of the base. Yes, there is rabid bigotry and it is more widespread than most on the right would care to admit. All one need do is visit the comment section of any medium sized or large blog and scan responses to posts about the mosque. Islam is a “cult,” or “evil.” To many, there is no such thing as a “moderate” Muslim. If they are not outwardly supportive of the terrorists, they harbor a secret desire to enslave us. There is no accommodation with Islam, only conflict.

If you know a little history about Catholics in America, you will recognize that they were saying much the same thing 160 years ago with the first great influx of Irish immigrants. The myth that America is tolerant of other religions is belied by the historical treatment of Catholics and Jews in this country. While lip service is paid to constitutional protections, as late as 50 years ago, there were serious conversations carried out by serious people about whether electing a Catholic president would doom us to rule from Rome.

With one side getting scorched for agreeing with Muslims about building a mosque at Ground Zero, and the other being skewered for perceived intolerance, one can begin to see why most smart politicians kept their mouths shut about the mosque. There was real danger of making a misstep and falling off a cliff into controversy - something devoutly to be avoided 70 days before the election.

One can argue that opposing the mosque being built at Ground Zero is hardly tantamount to expressing bigotry toward Muslims, but the perception can successfully be shaped by the opposition that lumps opponents in with the crazies. If you’re in a close race with many persuadable voters, the last thing you want is to be tarred as a bigot. Similarly, you can parse your words and speak in glowing abstracts about the constitution and freedom of religion while having your words twisted into support for Islam’s “triumph” over the infidel. There really isn’t any upside to taking a public position on whether to build the mosque.

This won’t be the last controversy about Muslims in America, which sets up an interesting dynamic. As these political fights become more and more toxic, it is likely that most politicians will become more reluctant to take a stand. When coming down on one side or the other loses you votes, you tend to split the difference.

Better to be called wishy washy than a Muslim lover or a bigot.

By: Rick Moran at 10:46 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

8/15/2010
SIMON SAYS: ‘TAKE ONE STEP BACK, MR. PRESIDENT’
CATEGORY: General

What a remarkable turn of events we’ve seen over the last 72 hours. The president of the United States, in what I considered at the time an act of true political courage, bucked 70% of his countrymen who oppose the construction of a mosque and Islamic center overlooking Ground Zero by making a strong statement in support of the constitutional rights of the Muslims who want to build it.

But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

Less than 24 hours later, the firestorm of criticism had become so intense that the president felt it necessary to issue a “clarification.”

So much for political courage:

“I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Mr. Obama said. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”

Too late, Mr. President. Your friends on the left eagerly took up your words and pinned your tail to the Islamic donkey by using your stirring speech about the rights of all Americans to worship as they please as ammunition in their war with the mosque’s detractors.

One need only glance at the slew of headlines in the immediate aftermath of the president’s Ramadan remarks to see what a monumental political miscalculation the president and his advisors made. From the New York Times (”Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site) to the Associated Press (”Obama Comes Out in Favor of Allowing Mosque Near Ground Zero”) to the Los Angeles Times (”Obama supports plan for mosque near ground zero”), Obama allies eagerly followed what appeared to be the president’s lead in supporting Imam Rauf, the Cordoba Initiative, and the Muslim moneybags who are financing this $100 million project.

It seems that what I thought was political courage, was actually political tone deafness. The president’s furious backtracking on the issue pulled the rug from underneath his left wing supporters, while once again demonstrating an inconstancy that is driving everyone batty. You would think that 20 months into his tenure in the Big Chair that President Obama would have understood that every syllable he utters is scrutinized, evaluated, re-analyzed and then filtered through different prisms of understanding so that if given the opportunity, people hear what they want to hear from him. The rhetoric of the campaign trail must give way to the rhetoric of governance where what the president declares must be unmistakably clear and open to as little interpretation as possible.

Apparently, this was not the case when President Obama made his remarks about the mosque at Ground Zero. However he meant what he said, it was interpreted by both camps as him taking sides on the issue. As both a matter of law and tradition, the president chose correctly. But while doing so, he virtually ignored the sensibilities of those who either have serious reservations about the stated intent of the builders of the mosque, or simply feel that it is inappropriate for a symbol of the religion that the terrorists - and their Islamist supporters around the world - fanatically believed they were fighting for overlook the site of their monstrous act of war.

There is more to this issue than black and white constitutional considerations. If there weren’t, it would be no problem I suppose, for a group made up of al-Qaeda sympathizing Muslims to attempt to build a mosque where the Cordoba group is planning construction. After all, if freedom of religion means anything, it’s that the political outlook of adherents should be ignored, concentrating instead on the spiritual or theological. The president artfully defended the concept - until he didn’t.

If anything, the president has muddied the waters even further.

By: Rick Moran at 11:36 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

8/14/2010
A SHORT NOTE OF ADMIRATION FOR OBAMA’S MOSQUE STATEMENT
CATEGORY: Politics

I don’t agree with it. I think it myopic in that it ignores Imam Rauf’s questionable associations and even more questionable statements. And the idea that the mosque is being built to foster dialogue and understanding is only believed by liberals and little children.

But it took the courage of one’s convictions to take such a hugely unpopular stance, putting the constitutional argument fairly well while reminding us the cost of following that document sometimes.

But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who have led our response to that attack – from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us always remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies respect no freedom of religion. Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam – it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders – these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion – and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

“The writ of the Founders must endure” is an excellent statement. I only wish the president could see his way clear to honoring that statement in other areas of the constitution.

In the abstract, I don’t think al-Qaeda supporting Muslims would receive quite the support from the left if they were the ones trying to build a mosque overlooking Ground Zero. But the more I read about this fellow Rauf makes me ask my liberal friends if they know who they are getting in bed with when they so viciously attack those who are opposed to building the mosque. I don’t trust people who say one thing in one language, and another thing in another language as Imam Rauf has done repeatedly. He has also been silent in the face of extraordinary statements by his colleagues in Malaysia about suicide bombings, Hamas, and hatred of the US. He has blamed the US for 9/11, defended Palestinian terrorism, refused to disavow Hamas’s goal of eliminating the state of Israel, and attended at least one conference with known terrorist sympathizers.

This guy is about as moderate a Muslim as Rush Limbaugh is a moderate conservative.

Regardless, I like our presidents to stand up for what they believe even when it isn’t popular. That’s why I despised Clinton so and cut George W a little slack. It is such a rare commodity these days in America - this kind of Profile in Courage - that it should be acknowledged and praised when it shows up.

Obama will be hammered for it - also part of American politics. Some of it will be sincere, some of the criticism will be calculated to draw political blood. Any way you look at it, Obama surely knew what to expect which makes his statement all the more praiseworthy.

By: Rick Moran at 11:25 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

THE TOP 43 DUMBEST CONSERVATIVE BLOGGERS

Well, perhaps not all 43 of this list of conservative bloggers that John Hawkins polled to get “The Top 25 Worst Americans.” After all, we don’t know who voted Barack Obama on to that list over, say, Jeffrey Dahmer. The serial killing cannibal was not on the list of 25 worst Americans which either means he didn’t get enough votes or most conservative bloggers enjoy “liva and faaaaahva beans with a nice keyanti.”

Out of all the gangsters, serial killers, mass murderers, incompetent & crooked politicians, spies, traitors, and ultra left-wing kooks in all of American history — have you ever wondered who the worst of the worst was? Well, we here at RWN wondered about that, too, and that’s why we decided to email more than a hundred bloggers to get their opinions. Representatives from the following 43 blogs responded…

101 Dead Armadillos, Argghhhh!, Basil’s Blog, Cold Fury, Conservative Compendium, The Dana Show, DANEgerus Weblog, Dodgeblogium, Cara Ellison, Exurban League, Fausta’s Blog, Freeman Hunt, GraniteGrok, House of Eratosthenes, Infidels Are Cool, IMAO, Jordan Woodward, Moe Lane, Mean Ol’ Meany, The Liberal Heretics, Midnight Blue, Pirate’s Cove, Nice Deb, Pundit Boy, Professor Bainbridge, Pursuing Holiness.com, Liz Mair, Moonbattery, mountaineer musings, No Oil For Pacifists, No Runny Eggs, Right View from the Left Coast, Russ. Just Russ, Say Anything, Don Singleton, The TrogloPundit, The Underground Conservative, This Ain’t Hell, The Virtuous Republic, Vox Popoli, WILLisms, Wintery knight, YidwithLid

And what did all that 10 Watt brainpower come up with? (Number of votes in parenth)

23) Saul Alinsky (7)
23) Bill Clinton (7)
23) Hillary Clinton (7)
19) Michael Moore (7)
19) George Soros (8)
19) Alger Hiss (8)
19) Al Sharpton (8)
13) Al Gore (9)
13) Noam Chomsky (9)
13) Richard Nixon (9)
13) Jane Fonda (9)
13) Harry Reid (9)
13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
11) Margaret Sanger (10)
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25)

Absolutely astonishing. One mass murderer (McVeigh) and one assassin (Booth) made the list. No gangsters. No old west gunmen. Both Woodrow Wilson and FDR in the top 5 worst? If you’re going to penalize presidents so severely for having wrongheaded ideas about economic policy, why not include George Bush? Or the modern Republican party who never met a deficit they didn’t embrace as long is it was caused by tax cuts.

Frankly, this is embarrassing. Putting the Clintons, Pelosi, Reid, Gore, Sharpton, and other contemporary Democrats ahead of someone like Nathan Bedford Forest who was at least partly responsible for creating the KKK after the Civil War and spent his spare nights riding around the countryside whipping, lynching, and burning at the stake innocent African Americans demonstrates an extraordinary ignorance of American history.

No Aaron Burr? His descendant, Gore Vidal, might have made honorable mention on the list, but Burr was a genuine bad guy. He not only murdered Alexander Hamilton in a duel, Burr hatched a plot to take over large swaths of land in the west, set himself up as king, and secede from the US.

I guess making idiotic, dishonest documentaries about America (Michael Moore) is a bigger crime than killing one of the Founders and anointing oneself a monarch.

Here’s my list of “The Top 5 Worst Americans Missed by Idiotic Conservative Bloggers:

5. Ted Bundy. Might have killed more than 50 women.

4. William Randolph Hearst - the inventor of modern liberal journalism who singlehandedly whipped up war fever against Spain in his 30 newspapers while dominating the media - to the detriment of democracy - like no one before or since.

3. John C. Calhoun - his constant threats to take South Carolina out of the Union if the institution of slavery was touched were bad enough. But his embrace of the doctrine of nullification and his being an inspiration to the secessionists was a direct cause of the Civil War.

2. William Walker - one of the most unlovely Americans who ever lived. His attempts on behalf of the south to bring parts of Mexico and central America into an “Empire of Slavery” - setting up colonies that would then be annexed by the US - was not only a cockamamie scheme but thousands died because of it.

1. Bloody Bill Anderson - speaking of thousands being killed, how about the terrorist Bill Anderson? Not only did he ride through Missouri and Kanas during the Civil War, killing wantonly and with great glee, (200 massacred in Lawrence Kanas in 1863) some of his men ended up carrying on the “fight” for years afterward, including the James brothers and the Younger boys.

James Joyner:

As Steve Bainbridge and Jim Geraghty have already noted, this is just bizarre. Bainbridge rightly observes that the list “reflects the partisan passions of the moment, not anything resembling a serious verdict of history.” Instead, he prefers traitors, terrorists, and racists as his Worst Americans. Geraghty says these are merely “the top figures who bug conservative bloggers” and thinks more mobsters and serial killers should have made the list.

I sometimes participate in John’s polls but this one is actually too much work. It’s pretty easy to come up with a list of Greatest Americans – Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Edison, etc. But Worst Figures? That’s pretty hard.

To me, such a list should be reserved for people who had a large impact and who intentionally did evil, not simply those who acted according to the widespread beliefs of the day that are now viewed as repugnant.

James goes a little off the rails himself when he tries to question the inclusion of Benedict Arnold on the list:

Not only did his plot fail but, as a technical matter, he was in fact a British subject.

Arnold not only “intentionally did evil” as James points out should be part of the criteria for making such a list, but he also did it almost exclusively for money and position. James’ “technicality” regarding Arnold’s citizenship doesn’t wash. He was easily as much an American citizen as British subject.

Nice try James. A scholar’s argument to be sure.

This is one poll John Hawkins should have quietly filed in the trash can.

By: Rick Moran at 9:51 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

8/11/2010
‘You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs:’ Netanyahu

I can’t recommend this Jeff Goldberg article in The Atlantic highly enough. After several years of interviews with leaders and policy makers from Israel, Iran, America, and other Arab countries, as well as talks with military experts, Goldberg comes to this reluctant conclusion:

I have asked a simple question: what is the percentage chance that Israel will attack the Iranian nuclear program in the near future? Not everyone would answer this question, but a consensus emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by next July. (Of course, it is in the Israeli interest to let it be known that the country is considering military action, if for no other reason than to concentrate the attention of the Obama administration. But I tested the consensus by speaking to multiple sources both in and out of government, and of different political parties. Citing the extraordinary sensitivity of the subject, most spoke only reluctantly, and on condition of anonymity. They were not part of some public-relations campaign.) The reasoning offered by Israeli decision makers was uncomplicated: Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability (often understood to be the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device within about three months of deciding to do so). The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel’s most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine, a tenet that dates back to the 1960s, when Israel developed its own nuclear capability as a response to the Jewish experience during the Holocaust, is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state.

Goldberg brilliantly lays out most of the dire consequences of such a strike:

When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel-regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program-they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

Goldberg notes that with success, the Israelis will buy time (probably putting the Iranian program back 3-5 years), earn the secret thanks of most of the moderate Arab regimes in the Middle East, and will have stopped potential proliferation to terrorist groups in its tracks.

Is that worth initiating a strike that could lead to World War III?

What will the Russians do if the Israeli’s hit Bushehr? It is likely they will kill Russian technicians in such a strike since they are building the facility under contract with Tehran. Will Vladmir Putin take the death of Russian scientists and technicians lying down? What if he retaliates against Israel? What would be the American response to that?

August, 1914?

Unleashing Hezb’allah against the western world, stirring up trouble in Iraq by ordering the Shia militias into the streets, not to mention a missile campaign against Israel that could kill thousands (at which point Israel may decide that to save its people, it must expand its own bombing campaign, escalating the conflict to the next level) - this alone could ratchet up tensions causing the world to start choosing up sides.

And no America with the will or the self-confidence to step in and assist the world in standing down.

Obama’s foreign policy is not anti-American, unpatriotic, or designed to favor Muslims. It’s just weak. The president has made the conscious decision that the US is too powerful and needs to defer to supra-national organizations like the UN, or regional line ups like NATO or the Arab League when conflict is threatened. “First among equals” is not rhetoric to Obama. He means it. He has been thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that most of the world’s troubles have been caused by a too-powerful United States and hence, only deliberately eschewing the promotion of American interests can redress this sin.

This will be the first world crisis since the end of World War II where American power and prestige will not be used to intervene in order to prevent catastrophe. Obama is betting the farm that his worldview will be more conducive to defusing a crisis than the more realpolitik and pragmatic point of view that has dominated American foreign policy for 65 years.

We are shortly going to find out whether good intentions really matter in international affairs.

This blog post originally appeared on The American Thinker.
UPDATE

I’ve received  a few emails from some of my more liberal friends informing me that I misunderstand Obama’s world view and that the president’s foreign policy is as good for US interests as any other presidents

I would say that Steve Hynd captures the president’s foreign policy views accurately:

Way back in 2005, a young Adam Weinstein wrote a paper on Just War Theory that’s well worth a read, but from which two key phrases jump out at me - “the bleak fact that justice is what states make of it.” and “expanding the ‘we’”. I’d characterise those two phrases as encapsulating what I call the “Crooked Cop” problem: America needs to become the world’s “good” cop instead of a “bad” (i.e. short-termist, self-interested) cop.

Only the bad guys object to an honest, impartial and hard-working policeman for whom “protect and serve” is more than just a slogan. A good cop is an asset to his community and puts everyone else’s interests before his own, which ends up serving his own interests - respect, affection, and a mostly peaceable community to live in. But no-one likes a cop who has his own interests at heart first and foremost - who’s usually looking for a “take”, is never there when you need him and applies the law only when it suits him while looking the other way when his pals commit crimes. A bad cop should get out of the law enforcement business because he only makes his neighborhood worse.

What pisses me off about the hawks of both left and right is that their policy prescriptions too often begin as their own short-termist conception of American national interest informed by hearty helpings of militarism and American exceptionalism which are then overlain with a thin veneer of pablum about humanitarian considerations, freedom, democracy and “we’re the world’s policeman” BS to sugar-coat their origins with something more palatable to US voters. No-one in the rest of the world buys it for a second.

My own longer term conception of US national interest is that it would, indeed, be better off as a truly impartial, self-sacrificing but respected cop rather than one pretending to do the job while feathering its own nest. Acting as an honest broker pays much bigger dividends than couching self-interest in hyperbole about freedom and democracy. Like a huge number of non-Americans, I’ve no objection to America being the world’s policeman if America will be an honest cop, a “protect and serve” cop. No-one else is big enough for the job at present (although in future the US and others should look to reform the UN for the job). But better no cop at all than a cop on the take. To be a good cop, America must realize that its national interest lies exactly in not aggressively pursuing its national interest.

“America must realize that its national interest lies exactly in not aggressively pursuing its national interest….” perfectly captures the confusion, the stupidity, the utter nonsensical treacle that passes for deep thought about foreign affairs on the left.  What makes Obama extraordinarily dangerous is that he actually believes this looniness and is trying it out on the international stage. What has been the response from Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, and other problem states? Barely concealed laughter (in the case of Iran and Syria, not even concealed).

I prefer hard headedness - on both sides. Real American interest lies in promoting democracy in a non-lethal manner - efforts that will, as it did in Eastern Europe - bear fruit over decades. Those who believe they can change the world in 4 or 8 years should be prevented from having anything to do with foreign policy.

In the meantime, yes we do have short term interests and we serve those at the expense of the interest of Iran, Russia, Syria, and other bad actors because not doing so harms the US. It is laughable, extraordinarily naive to pretend that long term interests of the US are served by eschewing our own interests and placing other nation’s interests ahead of ours. No one would be stupid enough to run a campaign based on that notion because, quite rightly, the American people don’t want to vote for someone who will subsume American interests to the interests of other nations. That’s utter nonsense. It depends on the supposed good will of other nations to recognize the US sacrifice and reward us with cooperation. It also presupposes a measure of rationality from our enemies that many of them have yet to demonstrate.

Mr. Hynd may not like “strategic ambiguity” and other repugnant gambits and he is right that in this case, it  won’t work. In order for strategic ambiguity to be effective - as it was when Clinton and Bush were president - there must be the tiniest sliver of doubt among our adversaries that we may end up attacking after all. When Obama says “all options are on the table” with regards to Iran, no one believes him in the slightest. In order to bomb Iran, Obama would have to abandon his entire world view. It won’t happen, everyone is aware of it, and Iran is acting accordingly.

The bullies, the psychopaths, and the despots sleep better at night with Obama as president as they never have previously. That’s the reality we live in - the result of Obama putting his worldview into practice. I’ve written previously that the hard left has been waiting 40 years to prove to the rest of us that their way in foreign policy is safer, and better for America. Now that they have someone in the White House putting their ideas into practice, let us hope that they were right and that such a Pollyannish outlook toward our potential enemies does not blow up the world in their faces.

By: Rick Moran at 10:33 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

8/10/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: OF RAISED EYEBROWS AND MUSLIM GAY BARS

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

Tonight, I welcome Dan Riehl of Riehl World View, Monica Showalter of Investors Business Daily, and Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog for a discussion of the hot topics making news today

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.”

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

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 3:56 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

8/9/2010
WHO OWNS ‘THE CONSERVATIVE CONSCIENCE?’

This article originally appears on The Moderate Voice.

Who owns the “conservative conscience?” Is it necessary to have one?

After all, there is no identifiable “liberal conscience” - at least no one who comes readily to mind. There’s plenty of criticism of Obama from the left but weirdly, the president is being taken to task for not being “liberal enough.”

This presents a delicious dichotomy; conservatives taking other conservatives to task for being too conservative (or not conservative at all) while liberals are taking other liberals to task for not acting liberal enough and being too centrist.

Flip the philosophical identifications and you have a mirror image of the way internal critical debates were conducted during the Bush era. It seems that ideologues belonging to the party in power are never satisfied that the leadership is “pure” enough while those on the “outs” are advised by apostates to be constrained in their criticism so as not to terrify the great middle of American politics.

How many times have we seen over the past decade “a liberal who gets it” or “a conservative who gets it” appear on opposing websites, describing a critic who skewers his own? Apparently, those who criticize their friends using some of the same arguments as the opposition achieve the status on the opposing side of being “the conscience” of one ideology or another (while being described as a traitor by their putative friends) - until they revert to form and criticize the opposition. Then, they are no longer the “conscience” of anything but rather a member of the echo chamber that parrots the talking points of the day for either side.

If I sound a little bemused by it all, I beg forgiveness. Having been accused of criticizing some conservatives in order to garner adoration and praise from liberals, I have experienced this process first hand. But it raises the interesting question; what kind of criticism makes one a “conscience of conservatives?” (I invite someone from the left to ask that same question and respond to it. I have no expertise - or desire - to take on the question myself.)

Perhaps a better question would be is a conscience for conservatives even necessary?

In the last fortnight, we have seen several respected conservatives wonder about the craziness of some in the movement and the general abandonment of reason and logic that has resulted in conspiracy theories, exaggerated and over the top criticism of the president and the Democrats, and an incoherent rage that suffuses the movement with a patina of paranoia that scares these observers about the direction the right is taking.

These critiques were roundly rejected by most conservatives. What is it, then, that these conservatives find wrong with the right?

I don’t think I am overgeneralizing when I say that the primary criticism of the right offered by most conservatives today is that those in positions of power are simply not conservative enough, that they are not true to conservative principles (as they understand them), and that such squishiness makes them “Democrat lite” - a pale echo of the other party.

Since this appears to be the dominant criticism of the right from the majority of conservatives, are those who can best elucidate that theme acting as a “conscience,” illuminating what needs to be changed for conservatism to stay on the straight and narrow and succeed as a viable alternative to liberalism? Or is the meme just another part of the “epistemic closure” described by Julian Sanchez and others?

The idea that just because a majority of conservatives believe its leadership (and those who don’t agree with their worldview) are squishes does not necessarily disqualify them from winning the title of “conservative conscience.” They have a point - of sorts. One of the problems of conservatism is that we continue to elect those who swear allegiance to conservative values and philosophy while running for office, but then discard, or even apologize for the label when they get to Washington.

But the tendency to lump everyone who fails to toe the very strict, very narrow line that most of these critics require of their leaders is very much reflective of the kind of epistemic closure described by other conservative critics. And the further tendency to dismiss those critics who show how this narrow-minded obstinacy creates impossible performance standards that are in danger of condemning politicians to the political fringes only reinforces the notion of conservatism being an echo chamber that admits no deviation from scripture.

My guess would be that the majority of conservatives who adhere to this worldview would be dismissive of the very idea of a “conservative conscience.” To their way of thinking, it smacks of more elitism and top-down management of the movement, not to mention that they are the targets of this criticism. No one likes being told they are the problem, or an obstacle to fixing what ails a system.

In this case, the pushback against those who rail against the illogical and unreasonable criticisms of the Obama administration and the Democrats - that they are “socialists” who are hell bent on “destroying America” - is often incoherent and irrelevant, based as it is on the notion that the critic is only trying to curry favor with the liberal media, or seeking to gain status in the elitist conservative hierarchy, or even that the critic is angling for a job in the MSM. This too, represents a kind of closure, as Sanchez pointed out:

To prevent breach, the internal dissident needs to be resituated in the enemy camp. The Cocktail Party move serves this function particularly well because it simultaneously plays on the specific kind of cultural ressentiment that so much conservative rhetoric now seems designed to stoke. Because it’s usually not just a tedious charge of simple venality—of literally “selling out” to fetch better-paying speaking gigs or book deals. You can clearly make a damn good living as a staunch conservative, after all, and Bruce Bartlett doesn’t exactly talk as though he’s gotten a big income boost out of his apostasy.

No, the insinuation is always that they’re angling for respectability, because even “one of us” might be tempted by the cultural power of the enemy elites, might ultimately value their approval more than that of the conservative base. It’s a much deeper sort of purported betrayal, because it’s a choice that would implicitly validate the status claims of the despised elite. You’re supposed to feel as though you’ve been snubbed socially—discarded for “better” company—which evokes both more indignant rejection of the quisling and further resentment of the liberal snobs who are visiting this indignity on you. In a way it’s quite elegant, and you can see why it’s become as popular as it has.

Sanchez believes that rejection of legitimate criticisms offered by “dissidents” is also a sign of insecurity on the part of the movement. He thinks it self defeating “because it corrodes the kind of serious discussion and reexamination of conservative principles and policies that might help produce a more self-assured movement.”

Would a “self-assured” conservative movement recognize or accept “dissident” critiques of conservatism as legitimate and thus grant them the status of being a “conscience of the right?” That will never happen. Sanchez dances around the idea that this is as much a cultural battle within the conservative ranks as a conflict being driven by ideology or policy differences. The movement likes to portray the differences as a fight between “ordinary” Americans and those who went to the best schools, had the advantage of class, or, as Stacy McCain has pointed out, are looking for career advancement by trying to separate themselves from the “rabble.”

In fact, the support for Sarah Palin, whose very ordinariness is what recommends her to many on the right, is a living example of how closure has warped the conservative movement and turned it into something not recognizable as a philosophy embraced by Reagan, Buckley, Kirk, and other more practical, less ideological adherents. The thinking goes that the smart folks have blown it and now its time to give an ordinary American a chance. The fact that this reasoning is thought sound by so many is indicative of why “dissidents” will never be taken seriously by those who most desperately need to be reintroduced to logic and common sense.

Having the left, or the media, identify anyone as a “conscience of conservatives” is meaningless. The source of that label is instantly disqualifying among the majority on the right. Who, then, will take it upon themselves to bring a measure of responsible opposition and a coherent set of principles under which the right can govern to the majority?

In order to offer a solution, you have to see a problem first. Since the Becks, the Limbaugh’s, the Hannity’s, the Coulter’s, and other cotton candy conservatives have no intention of risking their own status as movement icons in order to bring a measure of sanity to their acolytes, it seems probable that the simple answer to that question is nobody.

By: Rick Moran at 11:02 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

CHRISTIE AND DANIELS: THE YIN AND YANG OF A NEW REPUBLICANISM

My latest is up at Pajamas Media and I take a look at the new approach to governing offered by New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Indiana’s Mitch Daniels.

A sample:

In looks, demeanor, temperament, and life experience, Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels are as dissimilar as the states from which they hail. The former is a blunt, outspoken, even pugnacious former U.S. attorney with a career in New Jersey noted for reforming a local political cesspool and prosecuting white-collar crime. The latter is a soft-spoken, balding, lifelong Hoosier political junkie who spent a decade as a top executive of a Fortune 500 company.

Despite their seeming opposite natures, the two governors share a common denominator that may hold the key to fostering a new kind of Republican Party where principle and pragmatism combined with confidence and competence offer the voter a real choice in governance.

Neither man can be considered an ideologue. Nor do the two governors pander to any faction in the party or outside of it. Instead, both seem to have hit upon formulas for success that are peculiar to their own state — and their personalities.

Polls show a majority of Republicans dissatisfied with their choices for president so far. Can you blame them? The candidates who are making noises like candidates are, for the most part, retreads from 2008. At at time when fresh ideas and fresh faces are desperately needed, the GOP is falling back on its old “next in line” scenario for a presidential candidate with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee each trying to claim that mantle and Sarah Palin trying to pretend that she’s an outsider of some sort.

The future of the party is in the statehouses across the country where Republicans like Daniels, Christie, Huntsman, and perhaps even Rick Perry are showing creativity, courage, and hard headed realism in confronting the problems of governance in these tough economic times. This, more than adherence to ideology, or being a slave to partisanship is what is desperately needed in Washington if we are to save the American model of capitalism from the levelers and anti-business zealots in the Democratic party.

By: Rick Moran at 8:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

8/7/2010
WADING INTO THE MOSQUE CONTROVERSY
CATEGORY: Culture, Ethics, History

I have had mixed feelings about the question of whether to build a mosque and community center 2 miles from Ground Zero, which is the major reason I’ve been mostly silent about it. But the myth makers and apologists for radical Islam who feel no compunction in smearing all opponents of the mosque as bigots and haters have changed my mind.

The constant appeal directed to the media and ordinary Americans to feel guilt, to be afraid of being considered intolerant is wearing quite thin in the age of Obama. And wherever this kind of base, sneering, morally righteous nonsense rears itself up to spew its culturally divisive venom - be it from the right or left -those who value elevating dialogue and not debasing it should be heard.

I believe that the concept of religious tolerance would have to include the notion that one of the three major faiths should be allowed to build a place of worship wherever they want. And their stated goal of fostering interfaith dialogue should be accepted at face value.

This, however, would take place only in a perfect world where the universality of the Brotherhood of Man was understood, accepted, and actually practiced by adherents to all religions. In reality, this is not the case, as we well know. More troubling still are clear indications from the putative builders of this mosque that the feelings of those who lost loved ones on 9/11 have been ignored, or given short shrift, while the published comments of the Imam whose brainchild is the Cordoba initiative should raise alarm bells for those who believe that sharing some beliefs with the radical Islamists who brought the buildings down should disqualify the cleric from having anything to do with it.

I will grant - and have commented on often - the rank bigotry of many on the right who, since 9/11, have become certified experts in Islam and the Koran. I’m sure you’ve run into these scholars in your web surfing. They can quote chapter and verse from the Koran that “proves” Islam is a violent cult, or they can parrot something from someone as equally ignorant as they are about Islam, who state categorically that there is no such thing as a “moderate Muslim,” and that all who follow the teachings of Mohammad support the terrorists in one way or another. It is truly pathetic that these bigots lack the self awareness to see what howling fools they make of themselves, engaging as they do in this nonsensical “analysis.” And all who value reason and logic should condemn such idiocy in the strongest possible terms.

The latest meme to catch hold among this crew of deluded haters is that he reason the mosque is being built overlooking Ground Zero is that it will serve as a triumphal icon of “victory” by Islam over the west. It’s true that the terrorists would no doubt see it that way, but what connection is there between the builders of the mosque and al-Qaeda? Unless you are willing to suspend belief and insist that all Muslims see 9/11 the same way, the idea of Islamic triumphalism doesn’t cut it.

The blows we have dealt al_Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, and Indonesia this last decade has made them a near irrelevancy in international terrorism. They are scattered to the four winds, their sources of funding have nearly dried up, their ability to strike a blow has been reduced to shoe bombers and the like, and we kill most of their leaders faster than they can replace them.

Some victory. And those who would see it as such aren’t persuadable anyway so what’s the point?

But trying to lump all opponents of building the mosque in with this group of loons is typical of how many on the left play at politics these days. By highlighting the absolute worst arguments against building the mosque, from the most unbalanced elements opposing it, supporters don’t have to address the real concerns that many of us have about the efficacy of of building a house of worship within sight of Ground Zero that - rightly or wrongly - is dedicated to the faith that the perpetrators of the outrage believed they were honoring.

It isn’t that the leaders of the Cordoba Initiative share al-Qaeda’s warped view of Islam. It’s that the terrorists made it crystal clear they were acting in its name. The same basic beliefs about Allah and his prophet that animated Mohammed Atta are in the hearts of 1 billion Muslims around the world. This doesn’t mean they subscribe to Atta’s twisted interpretation of some parts of the Koran that justified, in his mind, murdering thousands of innocents.

There are many on the left eager to condemn Christianity for the sins of radical abortion activists, or Judaism for the actions of the Israeli government. More thoughtful opponents can separate the religion from the bad actors. But, if an evangelical Christian sect wanted to build a church across from an abortion clinic that had been bombed, I wonder what the reaction among even those who can separate the act from the faith would be? Would it not give us pause to contemplate the appropriateness of it? I’m sure it would and many arguments being made against the mosque would find an echo in arguments against building the church.

Then there is the problem with family members who lost loved ones on 9/11. There seems to be a general consensus among them that the mosque shouldn’t be built, but it is by no means a unanimous desire among families and begs the question of how much input they should have in the decision in the first place? What is sure is that the leaders of the Cordoba Initiative never asked for input from 9/11 families during any stage of the planning for the center. What kind of reckless insensibility is that? With so many victims still missing from that horrible day, most family members view Ground Zero as a cemetery, and thus, sacred ground. The idea that good hearted Muslims would be so insensitive to the feelings of grief stricken relatives is almost beyond belief. It calls into question the idea that the center is supposed to foster “interfaith dialogue.”

Indeed, the head of the Initiative, Imam Rauf, seems to have problems with consistency when it comes to this point, saying one thing to Americans in English and something entirely different to his Arabic-speaking audience:

Only two months before, on March 24, 2010, Abdul Rauf is quoted in an article in Arabic for the website Rights4All entitled “The Most Prominent Imam in New York: ‘I Do Not Believe in Religious Dialogue.’”

Yes, you read that correctly and, yes, that is an accurate translation of Abdul Rauf. And Right4All is not an obscure blog, but the website of the media department of Cairo University, the leading educational institution of the Arabic-speaking world.

In the article, the imam said the following of the “religious dialogue” and “interweaving into the mainstream society” that he so solemnly seems to advocate in the Daily News and elsewhere:

This phrase is inaccurate. Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing. Religions do not dialogue and dialogue is not present in the attitudes of the followers, regardless of being Muslim or Christian. The image of Muslims in the West is complex which needs to be remedied.

Substitute “large hotels” with “Islamic Center” and what do you get? Does Rauf believe in interfaith dialogue or doesn’t he? Don’t you think we should be sure before going ahead with building something that purports to have as its major impetus the idea that it will foster understanding among various faiths?

There is more evidence of Rauf’s possible two-faced attitudes toward the west and dialogue. I don’t buy the idea that he is a closet extremist but his curious statements about partially blaming the US for 9/11 are troubling:

Way back on September 30, 2001, Feisal Abdul Rauf was interviewed on 60 Minutes by host Ed Bradley. Their verbatim dialogue from this CBS News transcript concluded:

BRADLEY: Are — are — are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?

Imam ABDUL RAUF: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.

BRADLEY: OK. You say that we’re an accessory?

Imam ABDUL RAUF: Yes.

BRADLEY: How?

Imam ABDUL RAUF: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of — of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it — in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.

Did the various board and commissions that vetted this proposal have access to that interview? Would it have changed any minds? I wonder.

There are good, solid arguments for building the center that don’t use as a basis the hatred and bigotry of the opposition. But with 60% of the City of New York now opposed, and the realization that in an imperfect world, the appropriateness of building the center can be legitimately questioned, I wonder if we shouldn’t follow the advice of Senator Leiberman and others who counsel a cooling off period to examine the proposal further.

It just might prove to the doubters that Rauf is indeed interested in “dialogue” and not pushing an unknown agenda that would be inappropriate for the location he has chosen to honor his god.

By: Rick Moran at 11:47 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)