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11/30/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: WIKILEAKS TAKE TWO

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 Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog, Clarice Feldman of American Thinker, and Monica Showalter of IDB for a discussion of the Wikileaks controversy.

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 4:51 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

THE GOP’S PALIN PROBLEM ISN’T GOING AWAY

While many of you may roll your eyes at the prospect of reading another article about Sarah Palin - pro or con - the issues she raises as a personality in the Republican party simply can’t be ignored, or saved for discussion when she announces her candidacy for the presidency sometime next spring.

Make no mistake. Palin is already running for the office, testing her message in front of friendly audiences, tweaking her online presence, sharpening her attacks, and demonstrating the right balance of humility and eagerness to serve when asked about her future plans. She’s been bitten by the bug, and given the dismal performance ratings of the incumbent, sees a clear opening in a race that will almost certainly be anyone’s ballgame on the Republican side.

Even more than President Obama, Palin represents herself as a new kind of politician. She combines the politics of resentment with a down home charm and an aw-shucks ordinariness that takes the lance out of many of her sneering thrusts at Democrats, while the blood she draws drives her sycophantic, puppy-like admirers into paroxysms of ecstasy. She is a combination of Reagan, Winston Churchill, and maybe George Washington if you read any of the hundreds of blogs that sing her praises. And she has tapped into the motherlode of fears, hates, and simple, decent pride of country (that some deride incorrectly as “chauvinism”) to which ordinary voters respond at gut level.

A not inconsequential skill set. She is much smarter than her potential opponents give her credit for which makes her even more formidable a candidate. Many liberals apparently can’t get out of the way of their own intellectual arrogance when it comes to sizing up the opposition, and Palin intends to take full advantage of that shortcoming.

The more the pollsters, the media, and the left ask how anyone can seriously consider Palin for the highest office in the land, the more her stock rises with ordinary voters. The more establishment Republicans tip-toe around her obvious limitations, the more she is lionized by the anti-establishment tea party types and online conservative elites who see her as something of an American savior, if not the personification of the conservative cause.

For those who say she has no chance, I have two words for you; Barack Obama. Not surprisingly, Palin has compared her own desert-like resume with Obama’s puffed up qualifications and found the president’s experience similar to her own. We’re not going to refight that battle here, but suffice it to say both lack the kind of depth of experience Americans were used to in choosing a chief executive. If anything, President Obama is proving that being book smart is not the same as being capable of heading a smart government, or developing smart policies.

It’s not that Palin is “incurious” - a word I hate because it isn’t really a word as much as a talking point. Rather, it is the depthlessness of her intellect that jumps out at you. She seems capable of absorbing information at a superficial level, but nuance and detail appears to be beyond the ken of her understanding. Perhaps she could disabuse us of this notion if she allowed herself to be interviewed by a Charlie Rose, or a Tavis Smilely, or perhaps a Brian Lamb who wouldn’t be satisfied with letting her spout rushed talking points, forcing her to delve deeper into issues than when she is interviewed by friendlies like Hannity or O”Reilly.

One gets the sense in her sit downs with conservatives that she has a list in her head of points she wants to hit on any given issue, and then rattles them off as if she has learned them by rote. It is quite disconcerting if you’re used to an interviewee actually thinking about what they should say and then saying it. She is too glib, too cocksure - and too shallow - to have seriously considered the ramifications of much of what she says. This is why she should seek to stretch herself by being interviewed by someone who not only knows what they’re doing, but is ridiculously well prepared and well-versed in the detail and nuance of the subjects up for discussion. Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, even Katy Couric don’t have the time, the talent, or the desire to challenge her depthless understanding of issues, of government, or of conservative philosophy.

Would exposing her as a one dimensional stick figure of a candidate lose her votes? Many already view her that way, perhaps even some of her supporters. More drastic action is needed, according to Joe Scarborough:

Palin is not a stupid woman. But like the current president, she still does not know what she does not know. And she does know how to make millions of dollars, even if she embarrasses herself while doing it.

That reality hardly makes Palin unique, but this is one Republican who would prefer that the former half-term governor promote her reality shows and hawk her books without demeaning the reputations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. These great men dedicated their lives to public service and are too good to be fodder for her gaudy circus sideshow.

If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.

But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.

Scarborough is referring to Palin’s recent denigration of Reagan’s experience. When questioned about her lack of a resume for the presidency, Palin took a page out of the liberal playbook and averred that “Wasn’t Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn’t he in ‘Bedtime for Bonzo,’ Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor…” Peggy Noonan supplies the necessary lobotomy to Palin’s sneering ignorance:

The point is not “He was a great man and you are a nincompoop,” though that is true. The point is that Reagan’s career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn’t in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn’t in search of fame; he’d already lived a life, he was already well known, he’d accomplished things in the world.

And calling George and Barbara Bush “bluebloods” because they don’t support her for the presidency demonstrated not only a thin skin, but that there is little doubt that she is, indeed, almost certainly going to run for president. Scarborough’s snarky response:

Maybe poor George Herbert Walker Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Indeed, he was so pampered growing up that on his 18th birthday, the young high school graduate enlisted in the armed forces. This spoiled teenager somehow managed to be the youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings, flying 58 combat missions over the Pacific during World War II. On Sept. 2, 1944, “Blue Blood” Bush almost lost his life after being shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire.

With his engine shattered and his plane on fire, Bush still refused to turn back, completing his mission by scoring several damaging hits on enemy targets. His plane crashed in the Pacific, where he waited for four hours in enemy waters until he was finally rescued. For his bravery and service to this country, Bush was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, three air medals and the Presidential Unit Citation for bravery while in combat.

George H.W. Bush accomplished more in his life before his 19th birthday than Palin has in her entire existence. And yet, the fact that he was born rich and part of the establishment is grounds for the most dismissive kind of epithet? “Establishment” is the new “black” among many Republicans and conservatives. The very mention of the word draws bric-a-bracs from the mindless partisans who are cheering her on and is an automatic disqualifier regardless of the accomplishments and loyalty to party or cause demonstrated by the offender.

And that may be Palin’s greatest drawback and the number one reason she should be called out by respected conservatives and Republicans; her hyper-partisanship. Andrew Sullivan on Palin’s Thanksgiving day Facebook post about the media frenzy over her “North Korea” gaffe:

This may be a smart-ass retort; it may be useful inoculation against a potentially damaging gaffe; it may even be a well-researched blog-post, but what it isn’t is anything approaching the kind of character we expect in a president. A simple respect for the office she seeks would not reflect itself in these increasingly callow, sarcastic, cheap jibes at a sitting president. But sadly, like so many now purporting to represent conservatism, there is, behind the faux awe before the constitution, a contempt for the restraint and dignity a polity’s institutions require from its leaders.

There is no maturity here; no self-reflection; no capacity even to think how to appeal to the half of Americans who are already so appalled by her trashy behavior and cheap publicity stunts. There is a meanness, a disrespect, a vicious partisanship that, if allowed to gain more power, would split this country more deeply and more rancorously than at any time in recent years. And that’s saying something.

Actually, how the country could be even more divided at this point is a mystery. More than looking ahead to a Palin presidency, Republicans and conservatives should look to a much more realistic scenario; crowning her candidacy with the Republican nomination for president.

The disaster that would flow from that course of action for both the right, and the GOP would make 2008 look like a picnic. It would be irresponsible to nominate Sarah Palin (and Mike Huckabee and a few others). It would prove that the GOP and conservatives are unserious about addressing the monumental problems in America by putting forward someone who everyone but Palin disciples believe is a lightweight for the highest office in the land.

The punishment meted out by the electorate would be well deserved.

By: Rick Moran at 12:52 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

11/24/2010
THE TIDE TURNS FOR DANIEL ORTEGA

I have an article published at FrontPage.com today about the stand off between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and how the incident is helping President Daniel Ortega in boosting his popularity ahead of the elections next year.

A sample:

Back in Managua, Ortega’s political fortunes rose dramatically. As recently as late last summer, former deadly foes from the Sandinista government of the 1980s and the Contra rebels had joined forces to present a united opposition of sorts to Ortega’s authoritarian government. These oddfellows had differing reasons for opposing the president, but found common ground in their agreement that Ortega was attempting to subvert the constitution in order to set up a dictatorship. Coupled with Ortega’s broad based unpopularity, there seemed to be a chance that Ortega would be confronted with the choice of stealing the election next year or going down to ignominious defeat.

The conflict with Costa Rica has changed that calculus. Whipped into a nationalistic frenzy by the Ortega government, the middle class has united behind the government, joining the Sandinistas and the desperately poor in supporting the president. Business leaders, formerly critical of Ortega’s naked power grab, have joined with university students to back the government. Opposition newspapers have cooled their rhetoric and have been praising Ortega’s stand. And perhaps most surprising of all, the National Assembly, only recently attacked by Ortega thugs, passed a unanimous resolution pledging full support for Ortega and his dispatching of troops to the border.

This support contrasts with the near civil war that broke out earlier this year following Ortega’s machinations with the Supreme Court. Sandinista judges overturned the presidential succession ban in return for an executive order from Ortega allowing them to stay in their offices beyond their own constitutionally mandated date of retirement. These are the same judges who will rule on any legal challenges during the 2011 election.

When the opposition squawked, Ortega sent his Sandinista thugs to the Supreme Court where opposition judges were forcibly removed. The action precipitated the forced marriage between the Sandinista faction that still believes in “revolutionary change” and the Contra faction that seeks adherence to constitutional principles. In the confusing and conflicted world of Nicaraguan politics, there are other factions from both sides who are serving in Ortega’s government, including a faction led by the legendary Eden Pastora, the charismatic Contra leader during the 1980’s who leads the small military force squatting on Calero island.

Not surprisingly, Ortega is being bankrolled by Hugo Chavez, who has engineered a very complex business arrangement that has placed more than a billion dollars in Ortega’s hands so that he can spread some wealth to the rural poor people in Nicaragua. The company that Ortega controls which is dispensing this largess has its fingers in several important sectors of the economy, thus giving him enormous leverage. It’s a carbon copy of the way Chavez was able to seize power and given the way in which Ortega has manipulated the Costa Rican crisis, will probably end up working in Nicaragua as well.

By: Rick Moran at 8:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

11/23/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: ALL THAT JUNK

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 of Hot Air, Jeff Dunetz of Yid with a Lid, and Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway to discuss TSA excesses and the situation in North Korea.

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 5:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

WALTER MITTY GOES TO WAR

One of the best short stories ever written - later made into a movie starring Danny Kaye - was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which featured a mild mannered daydreamer who put himself into heroic situations in his fantasies. Thurber’s deft touch made the character into a tragic figure, but sympathetic as well, while revealing the fate of non-conformists in a conformist society.

It appears that Walter Mitty has resurfaced in Afghanistan as a lowly shop owner from Pakistan impersonating a deadly Taliban commander in peace talks with the Afghanistan government and NATO. While there are certainly elements of comedy to the story, the idea that our military could be fooled like this is a little frightening.

Makes me want to throw my ashtray through the monitor:

A man purporting to be one of the Taliban’s most senior commanders convinced both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the NATO officials who flew him to Afghanistan’s capital for meetings, but two senior Afghan officials now believe the man was a lowly shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta.

His daring ruse has flummoxed those attempting to start a peace process with a determined Taliban adversary.

“He was a very clever man,” one of the officials said.

The man claimed to be Akthar Mohammad Mansour, the second-ranking Taliban commander after Mohammad Omar, and he met with Karzai and Afghan officials at least twice in recent months to discuss possible peace negotiations, according to the Afghan officials.

He was flown to Kabul on British military aircraft for the meetings and persuasively portrayed himself as a fighter who spoke for the movement, the officials said. But after showing photographs of the man to those who know the insurgent leader, the Afghan officials have concluded that he was an impostor.

Is this tragicomic? Seriocomic? Or a frightful glimpse into the attitudes of the highest levels of command in Afghanistan?

I see where many of my fellow conservatives are trying to make this incident into a metaphor for Obama administration incompetence and stupidity. Sorry, but that’s a stretch. Besides, there much better examples of that - including what many on the Democratic side of the Hill are calling the worst, the most incompetent congressional liaison shop in history.

This is more a reflection on the mindset of the civilian leadership and military brass in Afghanistan than any general competency issue in the administration. Sure, the administration appointed some of these guys, but this is a failure of individuals in Afghanistan, not Washington. The incident is the result of simple, blatant carelessness: Everybody thought the other guy had vetted the negotiator and all assumed he was who he said he was. The fact that he wasn’t shows a frightening breach in security. How close did this guy get to Karzai? To Petreaus?

This is pure speculation but I sense that the incident shows that the leadership prosecuting the war has either lost hope, or is infected with defeatism to the point that they don’t care as much as they should. It’s no secret the brass doesn’t like the president’s timetable for withdrawal and given the fierce opposition they are getting in Kandahar, they may feel the cause is already lost. The Taliban is in the ascendancy, the war for the hearts and minds of Afghans is going badly, and Karzai is off the reservation. Whatever progress they are making on the ground is coming at a high price in American lives, and there appears to be no guarantee that once the Americans leave, those towns and villages won’t revert to Taliban control.

The faux negotiator is a symptom of what’s wrong with our efforts in Afghanistan. And the lack of respect for our intel people demonstrated here can mean nothing but trouble:

“One would suspect that in our multibillion-dollar intel community there would be the means to differentiate between an authentic Quetta Shura emissary and a shopkeeper,” ssaid a U.S. official in Kabul who did not know about the particulars of the Mullah Mansour case. “On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. It may have been Mullah Omar posing as a shopkeeper; I’m sure that our intel whizzes wouldn’t have known.”

While there is speculation - almost certainly done to cover the asses of the brass - that the shopkeeper was an ISI plant introduced to see how far Karzai would go in concessions, that theory seems less an attempt at rationalization and more a casting about for straws.

Frustration and defeatism; can anything be done to turn it around?

By: Rick Moran at 12:08 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

11/22/2010
POLITICIZED SCIENCE VS. ANTI-SCIENCE REPUBLICANS

My latest is up at Pajamas Media, and it’s about global warming and the battle between neanderthal Republicans and the Marxian dolts who want to politicize the science of global warming to achieve massive wealth redistribution.

What’s a rationalist to do?

The fact is, Republicans are terrified of their base, which seems to have abandoned reason and embraced a fanatical anti-scientific viewpoint on climate change. Rather than attempt to carefully weigh and balance arguments, there is a rush to posit conspiracy theories about the motives of climate change advocates. Unfortunately, this attitude has been fed by statements like the one from Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, that climate treaties are beards for wealth redistribution.

This is hardly a secret, nor is it anything new or conspiratorial. The Kyoto accord made wealth transfers to developing countries the centerpiece of the treaty. And the IPCC’s motives in this regard dovetail nicely with those of the developing world and their NGO advocates who stand to receive a nice sized slice of any developmental funds that result from this massive redistribution of wealth.

But just because the motives of many climate change advocates are questionable, even evil, does that mean the entire global warming proposition is a fraud? There are still those hundreds of scientists and their dogged, 30 years of research and experimentation into the question of whether man-made industrial activity is having an effect on climate. They and their findings are not going away no matter how many “conspiracies” are uncovered or how many UN flacks reveal the true nature of their efforts.

You can’t fault the scientists if their research and conclusions have been hijacked by politicians greedy for loot and power, and far left activists who wish industrialized society and its capitalistic excesses would simply disappear. The problem won’t go away because many conservatives seek to hide in their cocoons and echo chambers, assuring themselves that global warming is a myth and nothing need be done about it.

This is a symptom of movement conservatism’s larger problem of rejecting authority and expertise as the product of elitist thinking. Science is especially vulnerable to their skepticism because it is so easily misunderstood. If it is beyond the ken of “ordinary” people to understand, then it is suspect. Any appeals to “authority” are dismissed automatically as an attempt to use “credentialism” to put one over on the people, or claim competency where none exists.

Right on cue, my loving fans - who never bother to read what I write - skewer me in the comments for rejecting their version of reality - i.e., no evidence, no warming, no nothin’. Is it any wonder that the scientific community has abandoned the Republican party? Nuance and subtlety escapes the notice of these ideologically obsessed freaks. If it ain’t black, or it ain’t white, it ain’t real.

In matters where lay people are not capable of properly weighing scientific argument, an appeal to authority is not “elitist,” it is necessary. In the case of the global warming, skepticism is warranted, not denial. How much are humans responsible for rising temps? Does it matter? A larger human imprint on climate buttresses the Marxist’s position; a smaller one, the skeptics. The evidence is mixed and at times, contradictory. All the more reason to slow down, as Bjorn Lomberg so wisely suggests.

Breaking the momentum of the alarmists will be a real chore. They have most large corporations on board their gravy train now and, coupled with the greedy eye that developing countries are casting toward the trillions of dollars to be transferred from industrial democracies to the kleptocrats in Africa and elsewhere, it will be very difficult to address the problem of global warming in any rational or realistic manner.

It certainly won’t be addressed as long as the anti-science conservatives and anti-capitalist, one worlders continue to use and abuse science to achieve their own political ends.

By: Rick Moran at 7:52 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

11/19/2010
NO CHANCE FOR A NEW START

My latest article is up at FrontPage.com and in it, I agree with John Kyl and other Republican senators that there simply isn’t enough time in the lame duck session of Congress to address the numerous questions that need clarifying before senators from both parties can make an informed judgment to advise and consent to the New START treaty.

A sample:

The problem isn’t so much with the treaty itself, but with the politics being played by Democrats and the Obama administration. The president wants to ram the treaty through the Senate before the new congress is seated in January, fearing the influx of 10 new GOP senators will make ratification more difficult. He is willing to do this while questions regarding the president’s commitment to modernizing our nuclear force, pursuing a robust missile defense program, and ensuring the Russians don’t renege are being raised even by the treaty’s GOP supporters.

On top of all this, the administration has made the strategic blunder of overselling the importance of the treaty, speaking in apocalyptic terms about the failure to ratify the document in the lame duck session. Vice President Biden, not known for his rhetorical restraint, said on Wednesday, “Failure to pass the New Start treaty this year would endanger our national security,” adding that failure to ratify the treaty would mean there would be, “no verification regime to track Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal,” and that it might affect our relations with Russia on other, strategically vital matters such as imposing sanctions on Iran and the war in Afghanistan.

There are questions about the treaty’s verification standards, which the Obama administration has so far failed to address to the satisfaction of Kyl and other Republican senators. Some of the more robust verification procedures in the old START treaty have been scrapped while others have been altered. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Baker Spring, F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy, there are major flaws in the treaty’s verification regime:

* A narrowing of the requirements for exchanging telemetry on missile tests,
* A reduction in the effectiveness of the inspections,
* Weaknesses in the ability to verify the number of deployed warheads on ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs),
* Abolition of the START verification regime governing mobile ICBMs, and
* A weakening of the verification standards governing the elimination of delivery vehicles.

The treaty is supported by our entire military establishment. Indeed, the main sections of the treaty are fine - as far as arms control treaties go. But the devil is in the details and clarifying verification issues, asking questions about our ability to continue a missile defense program, and the administration’s failure to adequately address force modernization means that there just isn’t sufficient time in the lame duck session to get it all done.

Obama’s unseemly haste in this regard has more to do with politics, his own miserable standing in the polls, and his desire to make history rather than satisfying even those GOP senators who would be inclined to vote for New START. I sincerely hope that all of these questions can be answered in the 112th Congress so that all senators can weigh the merits of the treaty in its totality, rather than submit to White House pressure to get this done quickly.

By: Rick Moran at 7:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

11/16/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: THE CONSPIRACY TO MAKE AMTRAK PROFITABLE

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 American Thinker’s Rich Baehr and Monica Showalter of Investors Business Daily for a look at TSA’s controversial scanning procedures as well as the myth of press impartiality.

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 5:26 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

THE CONSPIRACY TO MAKE AMTRAK PROFITABLE

I am not generally given to positing conspiracies of any kind but the actions of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) in their use of full body scanners and pat downs of airline passengers got me thinking.

Sherlock Holmes said, “[W]hen all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Of course, in my youth, it was a neck and neck race for supremacy between Holmes and Dick Tracy for best detective, and Tracy never said anything half as profound but was a better brawler and wore a much better looking hat. Then again, Dick Tracy wasn’t a coke addict, and had the misfortune of seeing Warren Beatty play him in the movies while the legendary Basil Rathbone was one of the original Holmesian thespians. (Robert Downey, Jr. doesn’t count because he didn’t portray Sherlock Holmes as written, as imagined, or as dreamed in Conan Doyle’s worst nightmares.)

What, then, can we deduce from the TSA’s absolute stupidity in riling up the public with their nudie scanners and “gropes?” It is my firm belief that there is more than meets the eye with this gambit. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that the scanners, the groping, the drastic slowdown for passengers going through security, the maniacal pat downs of 3 year olds, and the manner in which this has all been foisted on the traveling public leads me to believe that there is a conspiracy afoot to benefit someone or something else.

Consider the fact that these measures are not designed to make us safer. They are not used to make it less likely a plane will be hijacked or blown up in mid air. Israeli security expert Rafi Sela, the former chief security officer of the Israeli Airport Authority, says that they are, in fact, a gigantic waste of money:

“I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747,” Rafi Sela told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

“That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport,” Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.

There hasn’t been a hijacking that originated in Israel for almost 40 years. But what do they know?

So if the machines and groping won’t keep us safe, or lessen the likelihood of an attack, and if the machines don’t add to efficiency in getting passengers through the security checkpoint, “whatever is left, however improbable, must be the truth.”

What’s left is a conspiracy to make Amtrak profitable and force the public to beg the government to build high speed rail.

All of these actions by the TSA are designed for one reason: to drive people away from flying and put them on Amtrak trains to get to their destination. And once people realize how inefficient and just plain slow Amtrak trains are, the high speed rail boondoggle will start looking mighty good to a public desperate to move faster than a 1953 East German Trabant.

Think about it. Would any sane, rational government agency open themselves up to such unrelenting, hostile criticism without an ulterior motive? I mean, really - who pats down terrified three year olds who are screaming “Don’t touch me?” This kind of thing terrifies parents and starts making Amtrak look like a damn fine option at this point.

Then there is TSA’s relentless pursuit of Mr. “Don’t touch my junk” Tyner who not only refused a nudie scan but balked at the leering TSA employee who wanted to pat down his genitals. The agency wants to talk to this guy - while making the not so subtle allusion to the idea that if you fool around with TSA, be prepared for the consequences.

After reading this, I had to look around and assure myself that I was still in the good ole USA and not some post modernist’s idea of a gulag:

Tyner, 31, was on his way to South Dakota on Saturday to go pheasant hunting. He was chosen for a full-body scan and opted out because he thought it was invasive. He was then informed that he would be subjected to a body search. He told the TSA agent, “”You touch my junk and I’m going to have you arrested.”

Tyner likened the proposed search procedure to a “sexual assault.”

When he tried to assert his rights, Tyner was told by a TSA supervisor on tape, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.”

[...]

According to Aguilar, Tyner is under investigation for leaving the security area without permission. That’s prohibited, among other reasons, to prevent potential terrorists from entering security, gaining information, and leaving.

I wonder if Tyner’s cell phone video hadn’t gone viral if the TSA would be looking for the guy at all?

This is just more evidence that something else is going on with TSA. You can’t tell me that any government agency can be so stupidly vulgar and overbearing that they would track down the inoffensive Mr. Tyner in order to send the message that you don’t mess with the TSA’s “junk.” Nobody is that dense, right? Therefore, after eliminating all contingencies like stupidity, cluelessness, arrogance, corruption, and just plain loutishness, we must deduce that a conspiracy has been hatched in the troubled bowels of our government to redirect travelers away from airports. And logically, what other means of transportation can people use except trains? No one really wants to drive from Chicago to Orlando; trust me, I’ve done it and if you’ve got two screaming kids in the car, suicide becomes an option about the time you hit the Tennessee border.

Nope, it’s Amtrak for sure. As the most recent data for the passenger rail outfits shows, they desperately need an infusion of cash paying customers.

In 2009, 41 of 44 Amtrak routes lost money. The New Orleans to Los Angeles route - the “Sunset Limited” - was subsidized to the tune of $462 per passenger. Other routes were not so free and easy with the taxpayer’s coin but all told, Amtrak subsidies amounted to an average of $32 per passenger. Now suppose a couple of million more passengers were to hitch a ride on “The California Zephyr,” (Chicago to San Francisco) or the wistfully named “Twin Cities Hiawatha” (Chicago to Minneapolis). Suddenly, Amtrak starts turning a profit. It becomes a going concern. And most importantly, it proves that it can run the coming high speed rail system that President Obama dreams will make us all forget about airplanes anyway and ride the bullet trains to glorious energy independence and green jobs.

One problem; the ignorant galoots who currently can’t make Amtrak a profitable venture will still be in charge when high speed rail rolls around - or their equally hopeless successors. Nothing succeeds like success or fails like bad management. Amtrak has not been lacking in that department.

There may be another explanation for TSA’s curious behavior but I’m not seeing it. Given all that we know, what are you going to believe - that the TSA is terrorizing passengers, violating our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, pushing the boundaries of modesty and propriety, and acting like arrogant bullies because they don’t know any better?

“Whatever is left is the truth.” All Aboard Amtrak!

By: Rick Moran at 1:01 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

11/14/2010
DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST FREED FROM HOUSE ARREST IN MYANMAR

American liberals take note: This is what is meant by “speaking truth to power;”

Opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was freed Saturday in Myanmar after years in detention as a huge crowd presented flowers and chanted “Long Live Suu Kyi.”

Soldiers armed with rifles and tear gas launchers pushed aside the barbed-wire barriers blocking her street at 5:15 p.m., leading to a gleeful dash the final 100 yards to her gate. Twenty minutes later, the slight pro-democracy opposition figure known here simply as “the lady” popped her head over her red spiked fence to a roar from jubilant supporters.

“It’s very happy to see the people,” she said, barely audible over the chanting. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen you.”

Suu Kyi, who has been in detention for 15 of the last 21 years in a country under brutal military rule, promised to speak at greater length Sunday at the headquarters of her political party.

Standing in a room full of like minded media people and making nasty jokes about the president of the United States - while being protected by the First Amendment and the assurance you will not be arrested and thrown into jail - is not, repeat not “speaking truth to power.” Nor is making fun of Muslims in their hijab, or asking Mexicans to learn English, or opposing affirmative action in any way, shape, or form “oppression.”

This frail woman with a quavering, sing-song voice takes her life into her hands every time she opens her mouth. That, my friends on the left, is what it means by “speaking truth to power.” And the Burmese people who risk life and limb when they go into the streets to demonstrate for liberty know more about “oppression” than anyone who lives in any western democracy - minorities included.

Comparing your standard liberal loudmouth or put upon minority with Suu Kyi and the brave people of Myanmar is irrational, arrogant, and actually very silly. It cheapens the acts of enormous courage performed by Suu Kyi and her supporters to equate any supposed liberal acts of “bravery” in simply exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, or refer to being “oppressed” because many disagree with the agenda of the NAACP and other racialist organizations.

Meanwhile, Obama scolded the ruling military junta in Myanmar for “stealing” last week’s election. This, before any results have been announced or any real evidence of tampering has emerged. Then recall the aftermath of the Iranian election where the outcome was announced almost immediately after the polls closed and widespread fraud was evident. Our president’s response then was to caution against jumping to conclusions.

While there is little doubt the thugs who are running Myanmar are as guilty as the dirty necked galoots running Iran of stealing an election, it is curious our president treated the two elections so differently. Of course, at the time of the Iranian election, he was busy “reaching out” to the 13th century clerics ruling Iran, trying to convince them that the US was not a threat to their dreams of hegemony or their desire to build an atomic bomb. Perhaps if the Myanmar military was attempting to build the bomb, Obama would have given them a pass too.

It will be interesting to see how long Suu Kyi’s freedom will last, or whether the regime will allow her to live very long. She is the embodiment of hope for her people which makes her more dangerous to the junta than 10,000 rebels with arms.

By: Rick Moran at 10:26 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)