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9/28/2010
NO SHOW TONIGHT
CATEGORY: General

I have had a horrific cold the last week or so which is why I haven’t been writing anything. It’s getting better but unfortunately, one of the side effects is that I’ve almost completely lost my voice.

I realize some of you would probably be snarky enough to mention that having me do the show with no voice would be a sure fire way to improve my performance. Hardy har har.

I regret to inform you that I will be fine by next week and back in the saddle at 7:00 pm central. See you then.

By: Rick Moran at 3:07 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/22/2010
THE DECIDEDLY UNCONSERVATIVE NATURE OF THE TEA PARTY ESTABLISHMENT

This article originally appears on The Moderate Voice

The Tea Party movement is a nebulous mass of citizenry, uncoordinated, not centrally directed, with no discernible “leadership,” and actually rejects the hierarchical organizational model for a fierce, unbridled independence.

Your mama.

If recent events in Delaware as well as the growing electoral involvement of the tea party movement tells us anything, it is that an identifiable tea party establishment has emerged to make war on those they suspect of ideological impurity while mindlessly defending their candidates from attacks no matter how flawed, or how ridiculous those candidates may be.

In short, the tea party establishment has become what they profess to hate the most; a self identified elite who are more interested in maintaining their position at the top of the tea party ziggurat than in stopping the far left agenda of the Obama administration or in promoting conservative principles in their candidates.

I hasten to add that the vast majority of tea party folk are sincerely interested in reform, are probably a little more pragmatic on the whole than their elites, and have acted as a spur to getting good conservatives (in many cases) to run for office. It is not their fault that a certain segment of the conservative punditocracy now purports to speak for them in the shrill tones of the ideological purist who protects their position at the top of the tea party pyramid by trashing other conservatives who don’t agree with them 100% of the time as “RINO’s or worse, “ruling class” or “establishment” Republicans.

Rush Limbaugh:

Now, they may have talked about it, but it certainly isn’t reported. What’s reported is that these guys are going, “Oh, woe is us, oh, woe is us. Coulda had a Castle seat, coulda won it, coulda been a contender.” And Scott Brown going on and on and on, “There’s no more room for moderates.” Mr. Brown, let me tell you something. Look around you in the Senate. You are surrounded by moderate Republicans, Mr. Brown. You’re surrounded by ‘em. Not only where you live but in the Senate, surrounded by ‘em. You got moderate Republicans in Maine. After this election you’re still going to be surrounded by moderate Republicans in the Senate. What are you talking about? No more room for moderate Republicans in the Senate? The question is whether there is room for Reagan conservatives anymore in the Republican Party. That’s the question. That’s what this is all about.

Fascinating. Limbaugh isn’t the only establishment tea party leader to raise the spectre of poor little conservatives being “surrounded by moderates” in the senate. This is utter nonsense - a shibboleth that goes to the heart of the meme that “moderates” lost the 2008 election (independents, scared off by the radical social cons, gave the election to Obama). There might be 7 “moderate” senators in the GOP caucus. And that’s using the tea party establishment’s definition. When 80% of the caucus is made up of conservatives far to the right of Ronald Reagan, one begins to wonder why Limbaugh and other tea party elites have to create an enemy to destroy. Isn’t Obama and the Democrats enough of a foe on which to concentrate their firepower?

The next time a tea party elitist talks about the GOP senate being lousy with RINO’s, I demand they name names. Who do they think is a “moderate” besides the obvious targets? There better be a lot more than 6 or 7 in order to make good on their observation about the senate being full of moderates. I’m sure we will be surprised to learn who they believe doesn’t measure up to their ever narrowing definition of conservative. More than likely, many senators they believe are RINO’s would hold views to the right of Reagan.

Indeed, it is not that these senators are necessarily moderate that upsets the tea party establishment. It is that they dare work with the Democrats to craft legislation and assist in governing the country - as their constituents demand that they do. I find it endlessly fascinating to compare the reactions of the hard right and hard left to members of their respective parties who take to heart the definition of “public service” and try to work with the other side to get things done for the country. The very act of compromise is enough to brand the lawmaker as one who has “no principles.” Both excessively ideological camps scream “betrayal” and “traitor” if a member dare defy their strictures against fraternizing with the enemy. The fruit of any such compromise is to be rejected out of hand.

Obviously, to even the most simple minded adolescent, this is not how to run a country of 300 million people made up of every race, creed, religion, and special interest on the planet. Not everyone can support one faction’s idea of how a piece of legislation should work, or who it should cover, or how much it should cost. The essence of governing in a democracy is compromise and adults interested in the welfare of the United States recognize that singular fact. In the process of compromising, political deals are made, backs are scratched, favors called in, and threats and cajoling are used to pass an imperfect, flawed piece of legislation that the president may or may not sign.

It is childish to believe that all of this rigmarole is somehow “corrupt” or the means used by the “ruling class” to oppress us. It is messy, inefficient, unsatisfying, and irredeemably venal. But it works - mostly. And it used to work a lot better. We all better pray that we reacquire the ability to craft livable compromises considering the stupendous challenges this country faces with regard to the debt, the budget, our security, and the security of the planet. Otherwise, we simply won’t survive.

But none of this matters to the tea party establishment. We know who they are. Limbaugh, Levin, Malkin, Erickson,, Riehl, Stacy McCain, and several other prominent conservatives who have abandoned their principles by supporting the fatally flawed, radically unconservative Christine O’Donnell.

It seems as if every revelation about O’Donnell’s past that trickles out, the tea party elites become even more enraged at conservatives who point to her shortcomings, more defensive, more dismissive of critics. They have a lot invested in O’Donnell - the narrative of tea party success must be maintained at all costs, even to the point that their own conservative principles regarding excellence, character, honesty, wisdom, prudence, and prescription are tossed aside lest their criminal candidate be seen as less than a champion of the cause.

Charges about “the ruling class” being against O’Donnell ring particularly hollow. Conservatives don’t do “class” in any way, shape or form. To bring any kind of class argument into the picture demonstrates an abandonment of conservative principles in the name of political expediency. And the even more fantastical argument that O’Donnell is no more flawed than any other candidate is wrong on its face, but particularly revealing of the tea party establishment’s desperation.

Conservatism is a way of living and of organizing society - not a political ideology, although in the real world, it is impossible to separate the two. The danger in being excessively ideological is that it becomes necessary to abandon principle in service to maintaining ideological purity. Hence, we have the spectacle of so-called tea party conservative elites railing against “class,” demonstrating imprudence in advocating against reasonable governance, wildly exaggerating criticisms of people who agree with them 90% of the time, and holding to the false notion that they are “standing on principle” in desperately defending an indefensible candidate.

Praytell what “principle” is served by supporting someone who actually believes in the radically unconstitutional notion that you can legislate morality? Or who steals from her own campaign war chest to personally enrich herself? Besides the “principle” of trying to maintain an establishment position in the internet tea party hierarchy, there doesn’t seem to be much left to consider.

By: Rick Moran at 11:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

The Real Tragedy of the Obama Presidency
CATEGORY: Politics

The precipitous decline of America’s fortunes under the leadership of President Obama has generated a host of emotions by a majority of Americans; anger, confusion, bewilderment, fear, and and a deadening kind of depression that has robbed the citizenry of hope for the future.

And that’s just his supporters.

At an extraordinary town hall forum sponsored by CNBC and attended by an audience mostly made up of those who voted for Barack Obama for president, the dominant emotion exhibited by these erstwhile Obama boosters was extreme disappointment, bordering on helplessness.

In what the New York Times described as “a live televised conversation on the state of the economy between President Obama and American workers, students, business people and retirees,” the president ended up playing therapist as he lamely tried to buck up the spirits of the dispirited. One African American woman’s lament was particularly searing:

“I’m one of your middle class Americans. And quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for,” a woman told President Obama at a town hall.

“My husband and I have joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives, but, quite frankly, it’s starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we’re headed again, and, quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly. Is this my new reality?,” she added.

Another supporter, a 30 year old law school graduate, asked the $64,000 question:

“I was really inspired by you and your campaign and the message you brought, and that inspiration is dying away,” he said, adding, “And I really want to know, is the American dream dead for me?”

That inspiration is “dying away” for tens of millions of Americans. Perhaps the greatest political disillusionment in modern American history is setting in as it has slowly begun to dawn on even Mr. Obama’s most faithful supporters that the gap between his promises and his performance will never be bridged. Feelings of betrayal — already prominent on the far left - have yet to manifest itself with the average Americans who voted for him. No doubt that too, will eventually be added to the emotional pain being experienced by those who are slowly waking up to the fact they were sold a bill of goods by a media blinded by adoration and the slickest political marketing campaign ever seen.

And therein lies the real tragedy of Barack Obama’s presidency; so many put so much faith in him and personally invested so much of themselves in the success of his presidency - many having voted for the first time in their lives - that the psychological let down is actually having a real world effect on the economy. Consumer confidence, hiring decisions by business, hopelessness in the job market, and the sickening feeling by the public that the president has no plan to get us out of the economic doldrums is playing a role in holding the economy back.

When Obama cannot even inspire his own supporters to believe in him, you know this country is in deep trouble. Almost as important as having a clue about how to get the economy moving again, it is a president’s ability to lift us out of ourselves and point us toward a bright future that can unleash the power of American optimism and help get the economy moving again.

The contrast between President Obama and Ronald Reagan in the sphere of inspirational rhetoric is stark and telling. Reagan spent little time blaming the American people for our economic troubles. He didn’t trash businesses, nor did he try and play the class warfare card. Even in the depths of the worst recession up to that point, President Reagan’s optimism never flagged, nor did his belief in his own policies.

The most successful political commercial of all time — the “Morning in America” campaign — was released when inflation, interest rates, and unemployment were all still near post-war highs, although about half of what they were in 1980. Can you imagine President Obama exhibiting that kind of optimism or faith in his fellow citizens?

What Obama’s supporters don’t understand is that there is a direct conflict between the president’s agenda and the economic health of the country. The reason things are as bad as they are is because of the schizophrenic nature of Obama’s presidency. On the one hand, he wants “transformational” change. His agenda has certainly reflected that goal with health care reform, cap and trade, takeovers of entire industries, and the biggest power grab by Washington in history. Unfortunately for Obama — and especially for us — his agenda is at odds with the very idea of a growing economy. In the bitterest of ironies, the success of the president in changing the country has led to a failure of economic growth. His desire for change is fundamentally at odds with the reality of a capitalist economy and its tremendous ability to create wealth out of nothing.

Nothing proves this better than the president’s single minded desire to pass a health insurance reform bill while the economy literally went into the toilet. For almost a year and a half, while Congress and the president dithered over health care, the country lost 2 million jobs. His scattershot approach to boosting job creation during this time was unfocused, pathetically inadequate, and failed miserably in the end. Much more important to him was creating a legacy by passing an “historic” health care reform bill. Democrats are about to pay for this schizophrenia in November.

It is natural to look at Obama’s disillusioned supporters and dismiss their angst as self-inflicted. There were plenty of voices who predicted the course of the Obama presidency prior to the election and it would be easy to say “I told ya so” instead of recognizing the tragedy for America in their feelings of hopelessness.

But most of these Americans do not pay much attention to politics and it is easy for those of us who are political junkies to forget that singular fact. To the politically naive - especially those who never voted before - Obama seemed too good to be true. His personae, so cool and welcoming. His rhetoric, so soothing and warming. What he lacked in specifics regarding “change” for America, most people simply filled in the blanks with their own hopes, their own dreams.

Now hope is being replaced with a rank cynicism that will make it that much harder to actually effect the changes in Washington that will make a difference. There are some extraordinarily difficult times ahead as we will have to make a series of bad choices in cutting entitlements, defense spending, discretionary spending, and probably raising taxes to stave off disaster. Citizens who are predisposed not to trust their political leaders that the pain they will feel will be worth it probably means that what needs to be done, won’t get done, and we could spiral into a debt crisis that would make the financial meltdown of 2008 seem like a blip on the radar.

A leader that can’t inspire optimism or confidence breeds a citizenry bereft of faith and hope. This will be President Obama’s true legacy. The rest will be historical chaff.

By: Rick Moran at 8:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/21/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: THE ANTI-CONSERVATIVES: TEA PARTY POLITICS

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 Rich Baehr of the American Thinker, political pro Jazz Shaw, and IDB’s Monica Showalter for a discussion on tea party politics and other hot topics making news.

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)

9/17/2010
TEA PARTY DEFINES LOSING AS WINNING

What’s not to love about a headline like that if you’re a conservative?

Judging by the more than 100 comments that have been spewed onto the Pajamas Media site in just a few hours in response to my latest article, my guess is that I have become as popular as Christine O’Donnell at an AVN Awards Show.

Already a legend, I am become myth, the destroyer of America, the bane of tea party patriots, a traitor, a heretical gadfly that either, 1) nobody ever reads; or 2) will be solely responsible if Mouse Brain loses in Delaware.

A sample:

Jeri Thompson is telling us that Christine O’Donnell is like Sarah Palin and just needs GOP “establishment” support to win in November. She will need considerably more than that, including one of those neuralizers from Men in Black to flash the entire population of Delaware and make them forget some of the loonier things O’Donnell has said about sex, about Vince Foster, and about her own financial history about which she has lied and lied again.

O’Donnell may in fact win. By November, the Democrats might be in such bad odor with the public that a pie-eyed prostitute, much less a prevaricating lightweight, could get elected in opposition to a Democrat. But chances are O’Donnell will be slaughtered and the likelihood of a GOP takeover of the Senate — already a long shot — will go down the tubes.

Yes, but the tea party people stuck it to the establishment. They woke up the elites. They put the fear of God into McConnell. They made Boehner wet his pants.

They sent a message!

Is it a good thing that the GOP establishment got pwned? Or that a bucket of cold water was tossed on the sleeping elites? Or that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner lost control of their bodily functions and now know the real meaning of electoral fear? Sure it is. But how that relates to winning, governing, and stopping the far left schemes of Obama and the Democrats is sort of murky.

By: Rick Moran at 9:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

9/14/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: DO WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF IRRATIONALITY?

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 Townhall columnist Elise Cooper, Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog, and Vodkapundit Stephen Green as we examine the tea party effect in Delaware, the mid terms, and discuss the latest news from Cuba.

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)

9/13/2010
‘TIS BETTER TO HAVE LOST AND LOST AGAIN THAN HAVE WON ANYTHING AT ALL
CATEGORY: Blogging, Politics

I didn’t think it possible to cheer up those gloomy Gus Democrats about their election chances in November but by God, leave it to the the true conservatives out there to accomplish the damn near impossible; they may guarantee Democrats remain in control of the senate next year.

If Sharon Angle, Rand Paul, Christine O’Donnell (who may upset Mike Castle in Delaware and win the GOP senate primary), and Ovide Lamontagne (who is the tea party senate candidate surging in New Hampshire) all lose their general election races in November - a distinct possibility - the GOP can kiss the senate goodbye. (Joe Miller in Alaska will probably manage a narrow victory in the most Republican state in the union.)

Yes, but think how good it will make us all feel. Think of the delicious feelings of revenge we’ll have after sticking it to the “establishment” and the “elites.” Who cares a sh*t about the country and stopping Obama when we can whack off every night thinking about how glorious it is to have put those RINO’s in their place. True, each of those worthies have proven that they have as much business being a senator as my pet cat Aramas, but hey! At least we struck a blow for the most put upon minority in the country; the below average American.

Christine O’Donnell may be a lying, paranoid, deadbeat, spendthrift who refused to pay the salaries of her staff in her 2008 senate run but her heart is in the right place - most of the time. O’Donnell enjoys the distinction of being the only politician in world history who has come out publicly against sex - at least for the rest of us. We have not been vouchsafed the opportunity to hear whether she herself does the nasty-nasty to which we say; c’mon Christine - dish! On second thought…

Rand Paul’s musings on the efficacy of the Civil Rights Act are well known, but I had no idea until recently that he is a “North American Union” conspiracy nut. He has made stump speeches for his father charging liberals with wanting to drop the dollar and replace it with something called the “Amero.” No, seriously. And the thousand times over debunked “North American Superhighway” figured prominently in his past appearances.

No doubt Rand will play down such nonsense but those kinds of things have a nasty habit of showing up in the campaign commercials of your opponent. But Kentucky is a pretty red state anyway and besides, maybe there are a lot of Kentuckians who believe it. At least Rand has wrapped up the Loony-Tunes vote.

Ovide Lamontagne in New Hampshire who has pulled within 7 points of Kelly Ayotte after trailing the former state attorney general by 39, is the perfect non-entity; no political experience, no successful business experience, an education bureaucrat who the Manchester Union-Leader called the “model of compassionate conservatism.” There are apparently some who think he is too nice for politics. I can’t believe that. Anyone named Boy Scout “Man of the Year” has to have something going for them. The competition must be fierce for that prize and winning it says a lot about the candidate’s fighting spirit.

Sharon Angle? We hear that her campaign, after a rough start, has gelled and she is no longer making a titanic idiot of herself every 5 minutes. The way they are achieving this miracle says a lot about how she would perform as a senator; she has run away from the press. I think that bodes well for her senate career because if there is anything a senator must be able to do well it is run away from the issues.

This is not, as Mark Levin believes, a question of supporting candidates with ordinary warts and blemishes. These are fatally flawed candidates that in the practical political world are more than likely to go down to defeat when another candidate was available who could have won. That’s the bottom line. If any of the above candidates win, it will almost certainly be because the voters are angrier with Democrats than they are scared of these Republicans (Lamontagne excluded).

Other candidates have many flaws - some of them serious as Dan Riehl has pointed out. But really, are we to believe that people serious about politics would rather have a political neophyte who believes in paranoid conspiracy theories than a candidate - even if he is supported by the “establishment” - with a solid record of political success?

Here’s the disconnect supplied by Mark Levin who lambastes Paul Miregoff for pointing out the flaws of O’Donnell and other tea party candidates:

Must be nice to sit on your ass in some law office in Washington lecturing tea party activists and others with such dripping arrogance and ignorance. We’re confronting the most radical administration certainly in my lifetime, and Mirengoff blows off the grassroots movement that is doing more to bring constitutional government back to this nation than any other. No, all candidates are not perfect. That’s not the nature of politics. And spewing the opposition research found on other sites, leaked in part by a party to a lawsuit involving the conservative candidate, is lazy and unfair. In fact, I notice nowhere in his superficial post does Mirengoff point out any establishment Republicans with defects, with temper issues, with Keating Five issues, etc., etc. Apparently there’s one test for conservative candidates and another for establishment Republican candidates. Despite all his defects, McCain was backed by National Review. How about Mirengoff? Who did he support?

If the tea party supports sure losers how is it that they are “doing more to bring constitutional government back to this nation than any other…?” Aren’t they a hindrance rather than a help?

Levin and his brethren won’t see it that way. If all of the above candidates end up on the short end on election day, they can always blame people like me - something Levin appears eager to do as Mirengoff points out:

Levin also has difficulty keeping his story straight on my culpability if O’Donnell is nominated and defeated. At one point, he writes: “Just because I decided to engage him doesn’t mean there’s a single voter in Delaware who gives a damn who he supports or would support.” But a few paragraph later he says: “Mirengoff, et al, may well contribute to [O'Donnell's] defeat in a general election, should it come to that.”

Indeed, assigning blame when most, if not all of the above candidates are rejected by the voters will become vitally necessary. It can’t possibly be their own fatally flawed judgment or silly pretensions about the power and reach of the tea party movement. Every recent election has been decided by center to center right independents, not tea party types who may be independent, but are overwhelmingly conservative. There just aren’t enough of them to make a difference in a state like Delaware and probably not Nevada.

I disagree with many pragmatists that these candidates are “too conservative” to get elected, although in O’Donnell’s case, that might not be true. She is a radical social con whose views on fiscal responsibility and the economy are more mainstream but has “loser” written all over her. A good conservative candidate can get elected anywhere if they are smart enough and run a good campaign. It’s a question of emphasis; what issues and values will a candidate promote and identify with and do they resonate with the voters?

Such nuance is lost on Angle, Paul, and especially O’Donnell. Not surprising when you run ideologues instead of practical politicians who see winning as more valuable than sticking it to the establishment.

By: Rick Moran at 12:27 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/11/2010
THE TEARS NO LONGER COME

After writing 5 different articles on the anniversaries of 9/11, I felt that I had said all that I could say about the event and my reactions to it. Hence, I repost what I consider one of the best pieces I have ever written - my remembrance from 9/11/2006.

As the years fly by, we are gradually starting to place 9/11 in context; carefully moving the memories of that horrible day into a corner of the mind where we can look at what it means more analytically, and with less emotion. This is good - and bad. It is good because you cannot move forward when the open wound of such a seismic event looms large in your conscious mind. But it is bad because we forget some of the details of that day that have forever changed us as a nation.

The falling towers, the smoldering Pentagon, and that hole in the empty field in Pennsylvania should never be forgotten, but as each year passes, the edges of those memories dissolve and blur into the background, salving the wounds we suffered that day while allowing us the luxury of wondering if we “overreacted” or if the cost of protecting ourselves from a repeat of 9/11 has been worth it.

Those are side issues. The importance of 9/11 will always be how it affected us personally. For some, the awareness raised by the attack caused a titanic shift in their politics, as some liberals were “mugged by reality.” Others went in the opposite direction. Personal politics aside, however you view the subsequent actions of the US government, you cannot argue that a sea change didn’t take place in our attitudes toward Muslims and the Muslim world.

The fact that these changes are still playing themselves out - that bigotry, as well as more complete efforts to understand the Muslim world walk hand in hand - can be seen in the mosque controversy and the latest effort to prove how spectacularly ignorant some Americans can be in wanting to burn the Koran. I think the efforts at understanding and tolerance are beginning to win out, but it will be years before history renders her verdict on that score.

It is true that 9/11 turned our politics upside down. It is also true that the farther away we move from that day, the less it matters. Other issues now engage us, and what was once thought vital to America is now seen as an afterthought. No more “War on Terror” or “Islamic extremists” - as if redefining the words used to describe that battle we are in makes a whit of difference. We will either fight the war or try to ignore it. Either way, we are likely to pay a price.

And someday, we will have another date to remember in the context of America being attacked by terrorists. And probably more after that. I wonder if they will matter as much to us as 9/11?

I hope I’m not here to find out.

***************************************

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

On this 5th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, we Americans are engaged in the helpful process of taking stock, carefully toting up the pluses and minuses in our imaginary ledgers of where we are as a nation. Perhaps we even take some time to calculate the political cost/benefit ratio of how this particular anniversary will color the election in November. And if we’re in the mood, we may even listen to some of the testimonials given by politicians and read the editorials in the great newspapers that hearken to us a remembrance of the evil perpetrated against America on that day.

For myself as hard as I try to recapture the emotions that roared to the surface that day, bubbling up from a place I never knew existed - so raw, so real, so utterly bereft and the same time feeling a closeness with my fellow Americans I had never felt before - what I can no longer do is weep. I can no longer weep for the widows, the orphans, the brave and selfless first responders who charged up dozens of flights of stairs, giving their lives so that others could live. I can no longer weep for lives cut short, for loved ones whispering their tearful goodbyes on doomed airplanes, for heroic citizen-warriors who fought our first pitched battle in the skies over Pennsylvania (and won). And I can no longer weep for America with the realization that these attacks meant we were at war and that many a young American would lose their lives defending us.

It isn’t faulty memory that prevents the tears from coming. I remember September 11, 2001 clearly, as beautiful a day in the Midwest as it was in New York. I was on a short vacation and got up early as has always been my wont to watch a movie I had rented on the VCR. When the movie ended, I turned off the TV and puttered around the apartment for a while. I distinctly remember doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

Thinking to catch some NFL previews for the coming week, I flipped on the TV and saw the smoking towers. It didn’t register at first. How could it? In the background, I could hear CNN droning on. Something about airplanes and terrorists.

It still didn’t register. And then, not 2 minutes after I had flipped on the TV, the first tower began to collapse. By this time I had begun to grasp what was happening and watched in absolute horror as the once proud symbol of America’s greatness was reduced to a smoking pile of rubble in just a few seconds. I stared and stared at the screen, barely aware in the background that someone was screaming. I was actually briefly annoyed. Can’t they move that person away from the microphone, I wondered.

It was then I realized that I was doing the screaming.

The tears flowed often that day. When the second tower collapsed, a sadness so profound, so beyond tears, engulfed me and I fell into a state of absolute numbness - a defense mechanism initiated by the brain I’m sure, protecting my psyche from being damaged by the overwhelming and powerful emotions engendered by watching my fellow citizens incinerated and crushed.

That feeling of not being able to feel was interrupted several times during the day. Some pictures showing the gaping hole in the Pentagon and the rescuers working frantically brought more tears as did some of the images of ordinary New Yorkers whose entire world came crashing down that day along with the towers. You just never knew when the tears would start to flow. The image of young girl in Pennsylvania laying a teddy bear at the instant memorial for flight 93 that had been started by nearby residents. Frantic people who had loved ones in the towers trying to get to lower Manhattan but being blocked because the danger was just too great. The still picture of a dead Father Judge, Chaplain to the Firefighters in the city, being carried away so gently.

What finally caused me to turn the coverage off for a while was when Members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol and, following heartfelt speeches by the Speaker and Minority Leader, a lone voice in the back began to sing God Bless America. Totally unscripted and without precedent, several dozen Congressmen tearfully joined in. Veteran CNN correspondent Judy Woodruff, as tough and as professional as they come in the news business, nearly broke down on live TV describing it.

It was at that point that I wondered: Will we ever be happy again? Will we ever be able to laugh and dance and sing the joyous, confident notes that have marked the American people as the most dyed in the wool, overarching optimists the world has ever seen?

How can we look to the future when the gaping, oozing wound at Ground Zero reminds us that we are not invulnerable, that for all our military might, our economic power, our cultural dominance, our gigantic footprint on the modern world, America can be laid low by a bunch of fanatics?

The answers seemed not to be forthcoming on that day. But gradually, as our national leaders recovered their equilibrium and especially as President Bush seemed to find a purpose and direction for our emotions, we eased back into our daily routines, finding comfort and solace in the ordinary tasks and challenges that take up space in our lives, allowing us to find a haven from the winds of history that blew through New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania on that horrible day of blood and death and fire and smoke.

Every once and a while in the months that followed, we would receive a reminder that would bring those same emotions we felt on 9/11 to the surface. But a scab had formed over the wounds inflicted upon America that day and much of the power and grief we felt had faded like an old, weathered photograph gathering dust in the attic so that we could look 9/11 in the eye and not flinch. Yes, there were still moments of pathos and pain. I would tear up when the brave workers at Ground Zero would find the body of a firefighter or policeman and the sad, solemn procession carrying the remains to the waiting ambulance evoked memories of the cost of that day. But in retrospect, most of us were following the preparations for war and much of what we endured on 9/11 as a nation became simply part of the “mystic chords of memory” that bind all of us who lived through those awful hours.

When the first anniversary of the attacks came and went, it seemed proper that we should try our best to move on from the tragedy and get down to the business of fighting and winning the war. A people at war cannot afford powerful emotions. They must steel themselves against anything that can deflect them from the course that leads to victory. But after celebrating the vanquishing of the Taliban during the first anniversary and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on the second, the date itself began to take on a new meaning. The third anniversary was unavoidably marked by politics as it occurred during the height of the Presidential election of 2004. Try as we might, it was difficult to summon the grief and the outrage that had marked the first two anniversaries. And last year’s memorial was extremely subdued, almost as if some wanted to forget the day altogether.

Through it all, the memory of the emotions that tore at the nation’s soul and caused an ocean of tears to flow receded slowly into the background, like a tidal wave that washes over a shoreline and, retreating slowly back into the sea, reveals a new landscape. We have barely explored this new world, many of us preferring the old one and finding comfort in the words of those who wish to pretend the catastrophe never happened. But while we may not be able to summon the demons that caused the anger, the sadness, and the tears 5 years ago, we should now be able to call forth the angels who can aid and protect us from our own folly; the fearful belief that the job is too big, too fraught with uncertainty for us to even try and win through to victory.

It is to this endeavor that we can rededicate ourselves on this 5th anniversary of 9/11. The tears may be gone, unable to bridge the mists of time and the healing salve of forgetfulness. But the cause remains. The purpose lives. And while our tears may have dried, the reason we wept in the first place will never, ever be forgotten.

By: Rick Moran at 9:22 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

9/10/2010
WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE CONSERVATIVES SUPPORTING CHRISTINE O’DONNELL FOR?

I have been writing for nearly two years about how conservatives have to be more pragmatic in deciding whom to support for office if they expect to bring conservative governance to Washington.

A couple of weeks after the 2008 election, I wrote this:

Republicans are about ready to fall into a couple of traps that losing parties apparently can’t avoid when the dust settles following a debacle such as they have experienced the last two election cycles. The first is the belief that the reason for being rejected by the voters is that their candidates weren’t “pure” enough ideologically and that only by pushing forward “true conservatives” can the GOP find its way back.

I don’t dispute the necessity for putting up more conservatives for office. But the idea that you can have some kind of lock step litmus tests to determine who a “true” conservative might be is nuts - and counterproductive. There are plenty of competitive congressional districts where one of those “true” conservatives would get slaughtered by most Democrats. When 70% of the country does not identify itself as “conservative,” you are deliberately setting up the GOP for defeat if you advocate only “real” conservatives receive support.

There are candidates that would be completely acceptable to the vast majority of conservatives who would fail some of the litmus tests given by the base. A party that seeks to diminish its ranks by making membership dependent on a rigid set of positions on issues is a party doomed to maintaining its minority status. The Democrats made the exact same mistake in 2000 and it cost them in 2002 and 2004.

Fast forward to today and the senate race in the state of Delaware. The GOP primary features the moderately liberal, longtime GOP mainstay Mike Castle facing off against an extraordinarily flawed, but “true” conservative candidate in Christine O’Donnell.

O’Donnell is a tea party darling despite the fact that she has the ethics of an alley cat and the brains of a mouse. She is a fatally flawed candidate in so many ways that it is not even a question of supporting a RINO like Castle vs. a “true” conservative like O’Donnell. Rather, it is a question of opposing a paranoid, deadbeat, lightweight who has pulled some personal and professional financial shenanigans that would disqualify her from not only holding public office, but also being employed as a responsible manager at any legitimate company.

In a radio interview last June, she lied about not having a federal tax lien on her house despite the fact that anyone with a modest ability at using search engines could find it. When the bank threatened to foreclose on her house, serving her personally with papers, she chalked it up to a “technical error by the bank” despite the fact that once again, anyone who bothered to do a little searching could find the mortgage company’s filing.

It turns out that O’Donnell is a deadbeat. She stopped paying her mortgage in October of 2007 while the bank filed the papers in March of 2008 to seize the house. She refused to contest the case and a summary judgment of foreclosure was entered against the property in May. According to a Lexis-Nexis search, the foreclosure was “stayed” - the house had been foreclosed but the sheriff sale had not commenced - when she sold the house to her boyfriend and legal counsel who then paid the outstanding balance as well as more than $2,000 in interest and legal fees.

When questioned about all of this, she has continuously and shamelessly lied. She has attributed the tax lien to “thug politics” and actually denied the property had a lien in the first place. She denied she sold her home while it was in foreclosure despite clear evidence to the contrary.

For months, O’Donnell denied her house had ever been in foreclosure. She simply stopped making payments in October 2007 and never made any move to contest the proceedings and would not “appear, plead or otherwise defend” herself against the mortgage company filing.

The lies don’t stop there. Incredibly, she owes her employees from the 2008 campaign thousands of dollars in unpaid salary and expenses.

Aides who worked for Ms. O’Donnell’s 2008 campaign against then-Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. claim that she withheld thousands of dollars in promised salary and never reimbursed them for out-of pocket expenses.

“Once I and others found out about her personal financial crises and her degree, we left,” David Keegan, a former aide, told The New York Times on Friday. “We were constantly trying to hold her back from spending. She was financially completely irresponsible.”

Yes, but at least she wants to save Western Civilization by being opposed to doing the nasty-nasty unless your conjugal bliss occurs within the legal framework supplied by a marriage license.

O’Donnell responds to a couple of these matters here. She does not retract her past false statements claiming her house was never in foreclosure, obfuscating the issue by claiming she was accused of losing the house. The charge is that she avoided a sheriff’s sale only by selling the house to her attorney/boyfriend (the evidence that the house had been foreclosed on is iron clad, linked above). No defense against not paying her employees salary and expenses, and her explanation of why the IRS filed a tax lien against her house and why it wasn’t resolved until 2010 is ridiculous. She says she had been working with the IRS prior to the filing of the lien, proving her intent to pay her taxes and that when the issue was resolved in March of this year, the IRS admitted the lien was a “computer error.”

Proof that she was working with the IRS is proof of nothing. If she refused to pay or couldn’t come up with the taxes, the IRS would slap a lien on your property even if you were meeting with them to resolve the situation. In fact, the document she supplies shows the lien was assessed in 2006 - three years before she began to meet with the IRS to resolve the matter.

And the document she supplies that shows the IRS releasing her property contains no explanation, and especially none relating to “computer error” even though she makes that claim in her defense.

Yet, in March, rather than a letter finalizing the appeals process, I received an erroneous tax lien claiming I had not responded to their previous correspondence. The IRS admitted the letter was a mistake, issued a Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien on May 19, 2010 and chalked it up to a “computer error.” The remaining balance was paid in full on May 16, 2010, clearly proving yet again that my political opponent is desperate and because of which he is ignoring the facts and circulating copies of the erroneous lien to reporters and bloggers.

According to the document supplied by O’Donnell herself, the lien was assessed in 2006 for taxes owed in 2005. The letter from the IRS appeals officer only mentions efforts by O’Donnell to pay off the back taxes from 2005 beginning late last year - just about the time a candidate would begin preparing to run for office. Why does O’Donnell try and make it appear that the tax lien, in place since 2006, was only issued - erroneously - during the final stages of the appeals process early this year?

Also, if you read that letter from the IRS appeals officer, you are immediately struck by its insane incoherence. Is the IRS guy that stupid? Or were certain damning words and sentences dropped from that letter by the O’Donnell campaign? Given O’Donnell’s history of lies, either explanation is likely.

Tea party types who support O’Donnell remind me of liberal Democrats who recently praised Charlie Rangel at his birthday party. He may be a crooked sonofabitch but he’s OUR crooked sonofabitch. As long as their heart is in the right place on the issues, many personal peccadilloes can be forgiven - or ignored.

But the argument over O’Donnell doesn’t rest on her lack of integrity. How could it? Rational people residing in the state of Delaware can be counted on to take one look at O’Donnell and either stay at home on election day or hold their noses and vote for the Democrat. The argument made by the ideologues is that she is a superior conservative to Castle and deserves support no matter how personally flawed her character - or that the huge body of evidence for her lack of personal integrity is either manufactured or doesn’t exist.

I would not employ a person of such low character if I owned a company. And the fact that “real” conservatives want to send this tax avoiding, deadbeat liar to Washington who stiffs her employees out of their rightful wages, paints herself as the victim of dirty tricks when it is her own flawed character that is the cause of her miseries, and represents exactly the sense of entitlement and greed that they purport to oppose, shows that the ideologues care less about the integrity of our representatives than they do the purity of their beliefs.

By: Rick Moran at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

WHY DID THE MEDIA MAKE SUCH A BIG DEAL ABOUT BURNING THE KORAN?

What is the president of the United States, the Attorney General, our top military commander, and an icon of the right doing giving their opinion on the threat to burn a Koran by a storefront preacher with 50 followers that no one had ever heard of and who will likely be forgotten once the brouhaha has passed?

As far as straight news value, this story ranks somewhere between an item on the pimply-faced high school kid who raised the 4-H winning bull and the announcement of the “Rotary Man of the Year.” The massive unimportance of this preacher and his followers is being ignored as the media flogs this story with the enthusiasm of a White House sex scandal. By doing so, they have created an international incident that threatens the safety of our troops, and possibly the political stability of some countries.

Some brainless, bigoted nut from the fringe of American politics is getting worldwide attention because he wants to burn a Koran in order to send a message to somebody — it’s not entirely clear who — that “we’re not afraid.” At least, that’s what Terry Jones, “Pastor” of the tiny Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida is saying now. No one knows if he is going to go through with his book burning, but even if he doesn’t, questions remain.

He was singing a different tune about his reasons for burning the Koran in this August 26 story by CNN:

“We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it’s causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times,” Pastor Terry Jones told CNN’s Rick Sanchez earlier this week.

[...]

“I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As they’re on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?” Jones asks in one of his YouTube posts.

“No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil.”

This is beyond fringe, entering the sublime milieu of surreal hate. America is full of these lunatics, preaching on street corners, burning crosses, marching against perceived slights or simply to show off their own rank bigotry and hate. To elevate this non-entity to international villain (or, to his equally bigoted supporters, international hero) demonstrates a disconnect that is unusual even for the American media.

Is it that he used the internet to spread his poison? One need only go to the Stormfront website (not linked here) and read equally idiotic rantings against Muslims. Is it that he has more than his fair share of supporters? At last count, the Dove Facebook page had around 2,000 “friends.” (not linked here). Neo-Nazi sites have 2 and 3 times that number of followers on Facebook and their feelings against Muslims are well known.

A pitifully small, insignificant group of Americans were planning on burning Korans on September 11 and they become front page news on newspapers across the world, and headlined stories on the cable news nets. The press yawns when an American flag is burned, or when the figure of a crucified Jesus is photographed being immersed in a beaker of urine. But when the world’s most fashionably chic religion is the target, it is, apparently, big news.

Those Muslims itching to take to the streets and riot in the name of Allah and The Prophet shouldn’t worry if Jones cancels his little bonfire. Word has come that another wacko, Fred Phelps and his gay bashing, military funeral crashing Westboro Baptist Church will oblige their outrage by burning the Koran - again. They tried it in 2008 and no one in the media paid any attention - which would have been an excellent response to Jones’ idea to light up the Islamic holy book but, as I explain below, was not to be.

A couple of reasons for this fantastic overkill by the press comes to mind. The media sees some kind of rough symmetry between Koran burning and opponents of Park 51. They don’t even have to be obvious about it, allowing their readers and viewers to draw their own parallels. Also, Jones and his supporters make perfect foils for those who wish to attack evangelical conservatives, and, by extension, conservative Republicans. Despite the fact that Dove Outreach bears as much resemblance to a mainline evangelical church as a pig resembles a prom queen, those predisposed to hate conservative Christians have lumped Jones and his book burners in with the social cons.

Then there are those media outlets who know full well that publicizing these insignificant kooks will rile Muslims the world over, and are also fully aware of the probable reaction from the fundamentalist Imams who preach hatred of the west and the US. Instigating riots may not enter their conscious thoughts, but news is news and blood sells. Surely the foreign press who are whipping Muslims into a frenzy over this issue sees this, at least partly, as a way to stick it to America.

The story had already bubbled over into an international cause celebre by the time General Petreaus offered his thoughts on how burning Korans may endanger our troops in Afghanistan. I suppose he felt it his responsibility to say something to discourage it. Of course, the very nature of his comments only raised the temperature around the world and drew criticism even from some on the right .

But why would the Attorney General Eric Holder offer his opinion (”idiotic and dangerous”)? Or President Obama (”a destructive act”)? Sure, the press asked the question but instead of taking the opportunity to demonstrate their “tolerance” for other religions and hatred of extremism, why not try and lower the temperature a bit by dismissing such idiocy out of hand?

They could have said something like, “Well, America is full of these fringe political players and it is so obviously wrong to burn any book at any time for any reason that it isn’t even worth commenting further.” Instead, we get posturing, chest thumping orations about how dedicated our leaders are to the Constitution, and syrupy calls for “tolerance.”

Meanwhile, the Religion of the Perpetually Aggrieved is already in the streets demonstrating their ignorance by protesting against something that hasn’t even happened yet. Perhaps they should set up permanent residence in the streets in order to save themselves time when the next imagined insult emanating from Christians is publicized by the media. I guarantee it won’t be too long.

There is usually a rough equivalence between how big a news story becomes and the impact on a community, a country, or the world that the subject is making. The story about a micro-pastor and his less than meager congregation burning the Muslim holy book doesn’t even come close. It appears that other motivations were at work to drive this story to the heights of worldwide notoriety and they do not reflect well on the reporters and pundits or the agenda-driven media outlets they work for.

By: Rick Moran at 9:13 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)