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10/28/2010
THE PAKISTAN CONUNDRUM
CATEGORY: General, History

My latest is up at Frontpage.com and it’s about how the US is trapped by strategic necessity in ignoring the two faced nature of their dealings with us. This is made evident by a series of meetings last week in Washington between Pakistan’s foreign minister and various government officials:

As the meetings in Washington are demonstrating, the United States has little choice but to continue the unsatisfying and derelict policy of pretending that Pakistan is a good ally, while turning the other way when it proves the opposite. It is, as Mr. Rothkopf says, “realpolitik at its most stark, loaded, and complex.” He adds:

And it underscores that within every compromise or look the other way associated with the “swallow-hard and pursue the national interest” dimension of realpolitik there are the seeds of the strategy’s own destruction. Embrace flawed allies and the relationship turns on whether it is driven by the objectives of the alliance or the flaws that are being overlooked in its favor. And — as we have seen from Saigon to Baghdad to tin pot dictatorships worldwide — more often than not the flaws win out in the long run.

There is almost something nightmarish in being forced to walk this path — knowing it will probably fail in the end, knowing that it must fail — and yet being powerless to stop it due to geo-strategic necessities having to do with the war in Afghanistan and the security of nuclear weapons. It’s no wonder the Obama administration wants out of Afghanistan and is now desperate to bring the Taliban to the table and manage an agreement with the government of Hamid Karzai that would almost certainly be unsatisfactory but would allow for an orderly withdrawal of most American combat troops.

By: Rick Moran at 1:11 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/26/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: CANDIDATE FORUM

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 congressional candidates George Phillips (NY-22) and Joel Pollak (IL-9) to discuss their races to unseat entrenched Democratic incumbents. Joining me in the questioning will be Rich Baehr of the American Thinker, Monica Showalter of IDB, and Jazz Shaw.

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 4:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/25/2010
WHY THE GOP WILL PROBABLY FAIL

There is no doubt that the Republican party is poised for a big night - some are even predicting an historic night - next Tuesday when America goes to the polls.

But the seeds of GOP failure have already been sown during this campaign and it is extremely doubtful that Republicans can achieve any of their short term goals, much less change the culture of America to reflect their outdated views of small government, low taxes, and a much stricter interpretation of the Constitution.

There is no doubt government can be “smaller,” taxes “lower,” and judges put in place who would take a friendlier view of original intent. But the exaggerated goals of tea partiers and other conservatives is a pie in the sky impossibility — the result of a fundamental misreading of modern American society and a refusal to recognize that, as in life, a nation cannot “go home” and recapture a period in time now lost to the ages.

Most analysts now agree that the Republicans will take the House next Tuesday. While it is doubtful they can sweep the table and take the senate as well, they will certainly score significant gains in that body. But will this sweeping victory be due to any ideas the Republicans have been promoting? In other words, can the GOP rightfully claim a mandate to govern?

Getting the deficit under control and getting people back to work are legitimate GOP aspirations and if voted into office, members of congress can claim a broad mandate to accomplish those goals. The “return to Constitutional government” - whatever that means specifically - is also broadly accepted as part of the Republican platform, although such a nebulous goal can be interpreted a thousand different ways. Then there is the rollback of Obama’s agenda in health care, financial reform, and other Washington power grabs that enjoy the support of a plurality of voters - if that.

How much success will the Republicans have in accomplishing any of those goals? The answer is, this is an agenda bred for failure.

As long as President Obama remains in office, it is not likely that any GOP measures to cut the deficit, create jobs, repeal Obamacare, repeal FinReg, or “return” the country to someone’s idea of Constitutional government will succeed. The Republicans will not have anywhere near the numbers to overturn any Obama veto. And the idea that 20 senate Democrats and 40 House Democrats will suddenly see the light and vote to emasculate their own party’s president by refusing to uphold his vetos is not in the realm of possibility on this planet.

A compromise with the Democrats might get some of those items passed into law. But incredibly, the GOP has already signaled that there will be no compromise.

Unable to get anything passed because their numbers are too few, the GOP will refuse to deal with the president because their rabid, frothing at the mouth base of partisans equates compromise with weakness. The art of governance is lost on these mountebanks — as it was with their counterparts on the left in 2008 — because so certain are they of the moral rightness of their cause that they regard compromise as dealing with the devil (or, for the left, whatever the secular equivalent). Hence, we had the spectacle of rabid leftists calling for the heads of more moderate Blue Dogs because they dared to seek compromise with Republicans on the major agenda items. Similarly, compromise with President Obama by Republicans on anything will be deemed as a betrayal of the electoral “mandate” the GOP will win next Tuesday.

With the nation in an economic crisis the likes of which have not been seen since the 1930’s and the American people crying out for leadership, the GOP will freeze like a deer in headlights, terrified that any move to get anything done in Washington to alleviate our economic problems will be seen as “caving in” to Obama and the Democrats and rile the tea party crowd, leading to a slew of primary challenges for members in 2012. Hence, the prospect of gridlock while the nation continues to sink into economic stagnation and ennui.

Note that there has been very little talk about the GOP “Pledge to America” since it was rolled out a month ago. In fact, the party leadership has avoided specifics about what they plan to do with this great victory. No grandiose plan to get the jobs machine pumping up employment. No details about a legislative strategy to repeal Obamacare or any other agenda item. There is nothing but empty platitudes and harsh criticism - well deserved - of the Democrats.

It begs the question of just what Republicans plan to do with their victory?

What appears they will do is investigate the Obama administration for a host of transgressions - real and imagined. There will be endless posturing about the debt. The president’s commission on the deficit will receive short shrift from both sides, so their recommendations will have as much impact as those of the Baker Commission on the Iraq War. Obama will blame the “do-nothing” GOP congress while the Republicans will blame “obstructionist” Democrats.

And in the end, we’ll all come back to square one and be stuck with the same high unemployment and sluggish economy, with no prospects for improvement.

It needn’t be this way but it will be. Political polarization is so ingrained in the system now that breaking free from the Gordian Knot of intractable, devastating partisanship is not even on the radar. It would take real political courage and statesmanship for both sides to build a bridge across the abyss we have dug for ourselves and meet in a spirit of real bi-partisan compromise. There are no giants in congress anymore, only misshapen trolls and midgets whose cynicism about the system requires that they gather as much wealth and power as they can before being retired by their constituents or leaving office to find an even more lucrative position in the revolving door of Washington interest peddling.

Cynicism in Washington breeds cynicism among the populace. And the coming Republican failure to fulfill the wishes of the electorate will only add to the feeling of hopelessness that stalks the land in the second decade of the 21st century. Where will we be 10 years from now? Contemplation of our prospects does not engender confidence in our future. And perhaps more than anything else, that shows just how far America has fallen.

By: Rick Moran at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

10/21/2010
THE NFL JUMPS THE SHARK
CATEGORY: PJ Media, Sports

I am a huge NFL fan, an even bigger Bears fan, and a connoisseur of hard nosed football. You can’t help that living in the Chicago area most of your life. Bears’ defenses have generally been outstanding — hard hitting, intimidating groups who pride themselves on dealing out punishment to opposing skill players.

But this most recent effort by the NFL to wussify the game is really an exercise in control. I wrote about the subject of helmet-to-helmet hits for PJ Media:

Say goodbye to pro football as we knew it. In its continuing assault on what makes the pro game the most watched weekly sporting event in TV history, the NFL powers that be have decreed that hitting an opponent too hard will result in “serious consequences” — presumably, game suspensions and hefty fines.

The league has already taken much of the spontaneity and joy out of the game by banning just about any celebratory action following a touchdown — or even a good play. They have crimped the individuality of such larger than life personalities as Chad Ochocinco by banning his wildly original antics following his scoring a touchdown. Group celebrations were banned following the 1984 season, when the Washington Redskins’ “Fun Bunch” electrified the crowd with their demonstration of unity and joy in the end zone.

[...]

It’s not as if there weren’t already rules against players who “launch” themselves head first at opponents, seeking to injure rather than attempting only to “hurt” a player and cause a fumble. If the distinction seems lost in the translation, it is simply part of the NFL culture. Trying to hurt someone is fine. Everybody in the league plays hurt at some point, or at several points, during the year. But an effort to actually injure a player — jeopardizing his health and/or career — is against the rules. It’s a fine line that is really a question of intent rather than technique. And I have yet to see a ref whose off-field employment is as a circus soothsayer or Gypsy palm reader.

The subjective evaluation by a referee on the scene of the play has generally been to protect the receiver on these hits anyway. Now the refs knows that the league will be looking over their shoulders when they judge the legality of these collisions which almost certainly means that there will be little room for error by the defensive player when lining up a receiver for a blow. The quarterbacks are already cocooned by the league, as it is illegal to make helmet-to-helmet contact with the signal caller at any time for any reason. The question can be asked is if the league is headed in that direction when it comes to protecting any of their high-value, high-profile players be they quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, or kick returners.

Listening to some of the big hitters in the game over the last day or two makes you realize the potentially devastating impact this new emphasis on rules will have. It may even lead to worse injuries if defensive players try to avoid a collision. The first team that loses a game for being penalized as a result of this new interpretation of the rules will have a very good case that the NFL is willing to sacrifice the integrity of the game in order to look good to the public.

By: Rick Moran at 7:48 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/19/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW GAFFETASTIC REPUBLICANS!

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 Jazz Shaw, Larrey Anderson, and Jeff Dunetz for a look at gaffes made by Republicans and how it might affect the mid terms,

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 4:48 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/18/2010
THE ONLY VICTIMS IN THE FORECLOSURE MESS WILL BE TAXPAYERS

I took a stab at analyzing the latest economic meltdown for PJ Media; the foreclosure scandal and its many moving parts.

A sample:

In this respect, the two competing narratives involving the foreclosure mess may both be successful in demonizing pet targets like big banks or ACORN. But as far as reflecting the reality of the problem, both narratives come up considerably short.

On the left, it’s heartless, greedy banks foreclosing illegally on tearful, innocent homeowners, throwing children and grammas out in the street for no reason hardly at all. On the right, it’s sinister forces manipulating the system in order to allow deadbeat homeowners to remain in houses as a result of nothing more serious than a paperwork snafu, despite the fact that they should long ago have been foreclosed upon and evicted.

Compassion versus personal responsibility. Class warfare versus the politics of resentment. As political narratives, both succeed in playing to the emotions and preconceived notions of their respective partisans. But as commentaries on what is actually happening, they are wildly off base.

By any measure, we are facing an extremely serious crisis that not only affects foreclosures, but mortgage securities, the financial viability of banks that are still “too big to fail,” and, most importantly, the rule of law in America. Silly, pretentious attempts to gain political points in this crisis will only make it more difficult to act when the crunch comes.

Is a crunch coming? The uncertainty alone is already affecting the housing market, bank stocks, the credit markets, and the economy in general. And until a way can be found out of this mortgage quicksand, it is likely that those trends will continue, threatening to throw the economy back into recession and perhaps even initiating another financial meltdown similar to the one we experienced in September of 2008.

I have come to the conclusion - or let’s say I agree with a notion advanced by other conservatives - that the real path to the economic collapse we’ve been experiencing began when the financial services industry moved outside it’s traditional role of funding start ups and supplying a haven for money, and into a Las Vegas style, wild west format where nothing is out of bounds and “caveat emptor” are words to live by.

We can trace this curve back to the day that Wall Street’s big banks were granted permission to operate as consumer banks. Glass-Steagall may have been cumbersome, but it acted as a firewall against the manipulation of the financial system so many of these huge banks participated in.

Mortgage bonds, for instance:

This is where things get positively evil. The investment banks didn’t mind buying up loans they knew were bad, because they considered themselves to be in the moving business rather than the storage business. They weren’t going to hold on to the loans: they were just going to package them up and sell them on to some buy-side sucker.

In fact, the banks had an incentive to buy loans they knew were bad. Because when the loans proved to be bad, the banks could go back to the originator and get a discount on the amount of money they were paying for the pool. And the less money they paid for the pool, the more profit they could make when they turned it into mortgage bonds and sold it off to investors.

Now here’s the scandal: the investors were never informed of the results of Clayton’s test. The investment banks were perfectly happy to ask for a discount on the loans when they found out how badly-underwritten the loan pool was. But they didn’t pass that discount on to investors, who were kept in the dark about that fact.

I talked to one underwriting bank — not Citi — which claimed that investors were told that the due diligence had been done: on page 48 of the prospectus, there’s language about how the underwriter had done an “underwriting guideline review”, although there’s nothing specifically about hiring a company to re-underwrite a large chunk of the loans in the pool, and report back on whether they met the originator’s standards.

In any case, it’s clear that the banks had price-sensitive information on the quality of the loan pool which they failed to pass on to investors in that pool.

Note that this potential financial Armageddon is mostly unrelated to the foreclosure crisis but the exposure of the big banks and mortgage bond holders to massive lawsuits by investors is very real and could precipitate another meltdown - if the foreclosure crisis doesn’t cause one first.

I would say to my conservative brethren who pooh-pooh the idea of financial reform that the thought of many dozens of Bernie Madoffs out there getting away with fraud while having the potential to cause another crisis should alter your perception. This isn’t capitalism. It is an abuse of the system and cries out for regulation to fix it.

By: Rick Moran at 8:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/15/2010
AHMADINEJAD’S LEBANESE TRIUMPH

Back in the saddle after a prolonged bout with a very nasty bug. Here’s a piece posted today on FrontPage.com where I take a look at Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s triumphal visit to Lebanon and what it means for freedom and independence in that tiny country:

It would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was welcomed in Lebanon on Wednesday for a visit that demonstrated just how far the Lebanese democracy has fallen and how fast the enemies of freedom have risen.

Ever since the Doha Agreement of 2008, in which Hezbollah achieved with guns what it couldn’t achieve with the ballot box, the arc of power and influence of the democratic “March 14th Alliance” has been waning. In Qatar, the Western-friendly coalition made up largely of Sunnis, Christians, and Druze reluctantly agreed to give the Hezbollah-led opposition enough cabinet ministers in government to give them veto power over the majority’s policies. In effect, the hard-won election of 2005 that had given the democrats nominal control was canceled, and the wolf was invited inside where he then proceeded to make himself at home.

Even the parliamentary elections last year that saw another victory by the March 14th coalition was eventually watered down as the “Spirit of Doha” and once again brought the Hezbollah opposition into a government partnership. The political motto of Lebanon — “No victors, no vanquished” — rings hollow today as Hezbollah has bullied and threatened its way to dominance.

There is no doubt that Hezbollah has reached the zenith of its power and influence in Lebanon. By demonstrating a willingness to press its advantages, as well as hold the specter of violence over the heads of the March 14th Alliance, the government now marches to the beat of Hezbollah’s drums. There is something pathetic in all of this if one considers the high hopes of the Lebanese people when the March 14th Alliance first took power in 2005. Since that time, compromise after compromise with the enemies of freedom have sapped the will to resist the constant pressure of Hezbollah and its Iranian masters. In the end, most of the leaders of the March 14th forces have either resigned to the inevitable or are maintaining a lower profile.

This is the backdrop of Ahmadinejad’s triumphal visit to Lebanon. With a newly confident and assertive Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah in de facto control of the country, the minions of the Iranian president now present a united front against Israel and Western interests in the Levant.

I’ll probably have more on this over the weekend.

By: Rick Moran at 7:18 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/12/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: WACKY SMEARS AND TSUNAMIS

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, Vodkapundit Stephen Green, and IDB’s Monica Showalter for a discussion of the latest news on the mid terms as well as the controversy over foreign money being used by the Chamber of Commerce in their ad campaign.

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 3:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/5/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: POLITICAL POTPOURRI

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 Jazz Shaw, Fausta Wertz, and Larrey Anderson for a discussion of the upcoming mid terms as well as other 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.

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By: Rick Moran at 4:25 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/4/2010
REFLECTIONS ON SIX YEARS OF BLOGGING

Before the parade passes by
Before it goes on, and only I’m left
Before the parade passes by
I’ve gotta get in step while there’s still time left
I’m ready to move out in front
Life without life has no reason or rhyme left
With the rest of them
With the best of them
I wanna hold my head up high
I need got a goal again
I need got a drive again
I wanna feel my heart coming alive again
Before the parade passes by…


I apologize for my absence this last fortnight but Sue and I both came down with the same bug within hours of each other and neither of us has been able to shake the damn thing. I don’t know what it is but it has made sitting at a monitor all day a test of manhood - or an exercise in stupidity, depending on your point of view. The time of my day that I usually write has been given over to lying in bed trying to sleep which is where I should be now except a personal milestone was passed on September 23 that I failed to note at the time and thought that since I have devoted such an enormous part of my life to this undertaking, I should acknowledge it in some way.

As of 9/23, I have been blogging for six years. I have written nearly 3500 posts, as well as a couple of hundred articles at Pajamas Media, American Thinker, FrontPage.com, and other sites.

Even without this forced hiatus due to illness, I don’t write much anymore. I try to tell myself that I don’t have the time but the truth is found in the lyrics of the song from “Hello Dolly” above.

The parade is passing me by and I have fallen out of step with most of my conservative friends. When I write now, I write for my own amusement or to clarify my own thoughts about a particular issue - something that I have tried to do for the last six years. It’s amazing how shallow one’s thinking truly is unless you force yourself to justify yourself to yourself in writing. “Reading maketh a full man, conference, a ready man, and writing, an exact man” said Francis Bacon. I have tried, within the limits of my own feeble intelligence and failing will, to live up to those words, thus attempting to fulfill what philosophers refer to as “An Examined Life.”

Oddly, while my examination of the underpinnings of my conservative beliefs has led me away from what I suppose is the “mainstream” of what passes for conservative thought these days, the primary goal I set when I began blogging - becoming a commercial success as a writer - has been achieved beyond my imaginings. Ironically, far fewer conservatives read and agree with what I have to say these days then when I was making no money at all. There’s a cosmic lesson to found there - I just haven’t been able to determine what it is yet. Perhaps it’s that the gods have a cruel sense of humor and, like the elf Puck says in Midsummer’s Night Dream, they spend much of their time in rollicking laughter at “…what fools these mortals be.”

It’s lonely being a fool. As I have struggled to find a way to reconcile a robust, philosophically coherent, and consistent conservatism that has meaning for America in the 21st century with the riot of conceits, resentments, paranoia, and narrow mindedness that much of the right has become, I have found myself standing on the curb watching the clowns, the garish floats, the brass bands all roll by, marching toward the precipice and willingly - joyously - jumping over the cliff, trying to take the whole damn country with them.

“To what end?” I wail. “RINO!” they scream at me incoherently as they disappear into the maw of history. At a time when the tenets of conservatism, if applied intelligently and consistently to governance, can help revitalize the United States and this wonderful experiment in self government and individual liberty, the right chooses to eschew governance altogether in favor of a putrid ideological war “to save America.” Just how they intend doing so by trying to implement an agenda that’s 30 years old while immolating lawmakers who dare suggest that working with the opposition to come up with solutions to address our massive problems is necessary, I don’t see. I don’t believe they’ve gotten that far in their thinking yet.

How have things changed the last 6 years? Perhaps it’s me that has transformed but that can’t be the entire reason for my alienation from many on the right. What’s amazing is that despite the differences between us, we both still hold to certain principles of conservatism. That fact used to give me hope until I realized those with an excessively ideological bent have a somewhat cloudy notion of the application of those principles to the real world of politics and governance.

For instance, how you can reconcile a Darwinian free market with the need for a “well ordered society” gets lost in the translation. Regulation of markets is necessary, although certainly not to the extent that the massive, radical, and imprudent Financial Reform Bill takes the concept. But you can be certain that any financial reform legislation, no matter how sensible or necessary, would have earned the enmity of many on the right simply because it came from the left. That kind of mindless partisanship that sees consorting with the enemy as the greatest sin of all could doom us in the end.

It is with mixed feelings that I enter my seventh year of blogging. More changes are coming soon that will affect this site. I will probably go back to daily postings of original content in the next year. My usual plans to redesign the site are in place. Whether they come to fruition is another story.

And I suspect I will still be a lonely spectator over the next year, set apart from the crowd by choice and circumstance, watching the parade go by and idly wondering if the show was even worth watching anymore.

By: Rick Moran at 10:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)