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12/31/2010
NEWS HEADLINES WE’LL SEE IN 2011
CATEGORY: PJ Media, Politics

Here’s my latest at Pajamas Media. It’s a frolic about some headlines that we may see in 2011.

As I point out, it’s easy to predict this kind of stuff because the chances are excellent that many news headlines from 2011 will look a lot like news headlines from 2010.

A sample:

I have absolutely no doubt that over the next year, there will probably be several headlines involving a Democrat saying something bat guano crazy about economics. It’s not that Democrats know next to nothing about how the economy works. It’s that they are absolutely, stone cold clueless about the subject. Comparative lit majors didn’t need to take Econ 101 to graduate, so the subject is even less familiar than Mandarin Chinese to most liberals. You get the impression that liberals believe that unless government controls it, nothing exists, and that this control extends to every thin dime you earn by the sweat of your brow. It’s not your money, it’s government’s — and government has the power to tell you how much of it you can keep, rather than you telling government how much they can take.

Anyone who seriously believes that unemployment benefits are “the biggest boost we can give the economy” will no doubt make similar horrifically inept gaffes in the coming year about the nature of a free market and how things really work. Try these on for size, the generic “Democrat” substituting for the name. Just fill in the blanks later:

“Democrat accuses GOP of trying to shorten recession on the backs of the unemployed”

“Democrat says 90% employment ‘acceptable’”

“Democrat says eliminating 200,000 jobs in coal industry will grow the economy”

Not to be outdone, I am also certain that some prominent Republican somewhere will literally get caught with his pants down in some kind of sex scandal. There’s a 50-50 chance that it will be a gay liaison and that the tawdry details will spill out on blogs first, to be reluctantly followed by the Washington Post and New York Times, who hate it when blogs scoop them on these kind of scandals but agonize over contributing to the sleaze.

What is it about Republican lawmakers and sex? I can understand the attraction. After all, I’m sort of a Republican and I like sex a lot. Straying from my Zsu-Zsu has never seriously crossed my mind, however. Certainly, as H.L. Mencken said, “Temptation is an irresistible force at work on a movable body.” But many Republicans seem to heed Mae West’s advice: “I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”

By: Rick Moran at 8:29 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

8 ENVIRONMENTAL FORECASTS SCIENTISTS WISH WOULD SLIP DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE

Fox News has an all-star grouping of environmental forecasts that turned out to be so off base that the only question remains is why are the people who made them still taken seriously?

A couple of examples:

1. Within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” Dr. David Viner, senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.

Um…no. Kids in England today know very well what snow is. They’ve had to shovel so much of it off the walk this winter they probably want to find Dr. Viner and throttle him.

2. “[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” Michael Oppenheimer, published in “Dead Heat,” St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Read what this mealy mouthed little snit has to say to defend himself:

Oppenheimer told FoxNews.com that he was trying to illustrate one possible outcome of failing to curb emissions, not making a specific prediction. He added that the gist of his story had in fact come true, even if the events had not occurred in the U.S.

Um, no again. Where are the food riots? The “black blizzards” that will shut down computers? Or strip paint from houses? Or stop traffic on highways?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

Here’s one from our old friend Paul Ehrlich, who famously predicted in the 1970’s that both China and India would suffer famines by 1985 where hundreds of millions of people would die. Both China and India are now self sufficient in food production.

Here, Ehrlich points his mini-brain in the direction of England:

7. “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

How about that one, Paul?

“When you predict the future, you get things wrong,” Ehrlich admitted, but “how wrong is another question. I would have lost if I had had taken the bet. However, if you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They’re having all kinds of problems, just like everybody else.”

Incredible. How wrong are you? Fantastically, stupendously,egregiously, idiotically wrong, that’s how much. “All kinds of problems” is light years distant from “England will not exist in the year 2000.” It’s not close, even by cosmic standards. You can look as closely as you’d like at England and glean absolutely nothing that would make your prediction anything more than the drooling ranting of a clown.

To be clear, scientists always get stuff wrong. It’s part of the scientific process, and is valuable because other scientists can critique their work and find a new direction with which to discover the facts.

But each of these examples shows that having an agenda - personal, political, or professional - makes this kind of science useless and is thus, bad science. So much science is politically driven today as to make a lot of it suspect, and virtually useless to the goal of uncovering the mysteries of the universe. You can’t build upon work that has been thrust into the public debate so that the individual scientist can personally aggrandize their standing in their discipline, or slavishly devote themselves to a political agenda. That’s not science, its  marketing.

Until those scientists who promote climate change as a catastrophic problem that needs to be addressed can assure the public that they are, if not pure of heart, at least basing their conclusions on solid scientific research and principles, there will continue to be a huge distrust of their motives and conclusions.

It is a tragedy for science that the practitioners don’t recognize this.

Check out the piece for more jaw droppers.

This post originally appears on the American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 8:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

12/29/2010
‘THE BILANDIC EFFECT’ BURIES MAYOR BLOOMBERG

Politicians are not very bright. If they were, they wouldn’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Take Mayor Bloomberg of New York city. Here’s a man who they were talking about as a potential president just a couple of weeks ago. Now, if he ran for dog catcher, he might eke out a victory.

The reason? Let’s call it “The Bilandic Effect,” named after Mayor Michael Bilandic of Chicago who botched snow removal after a devastating series of snow storms in the winter of 1979. The result was that little known Jane Byrne, former head of the consumer affairs office, swept to victory in the Democratic primary, delivering a humiliating defeat to Bilandic.

Apparently, those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it:

A testy Mayor Bloomberg fended off criticism of the city’s failure to clear hundreds of snow-choked streets Tuesday as an avalanche of critics attacked his reputation as a supermanager.

“This mayor prides himself on saying the buck stops with him, and it should. We hold him responsible for what we’re calling theBloomberg Blizzard,” said CityCouncilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn).

“The whole world is laughing that the greatest city in the world cannot manage to clear the streets. New York today looks like a Third World country.”

Greenfield, normally a backer of the mayor, said every side street - and some larger avenues - in Borough Park were waiting for a plow 30 hours after the storm’s end.

Similar and worse complaints were heard from much of the snow-buried city outside Manhattan.

A Queens woman’s death Monday was blamed on the backlog of911 calls and on snow-clogged streets that delayed first responders from reaching her Corona home, said state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens).

“Like many New Yorkers, I woke up two days straight to an unplowed street outside my frontdoor,” said city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “This is not business as usual, and frustration is mounting.”

Bilandic’s - and Bloomberg’s - problem is simple; both cities purchased snow removal equipment for the average or slightly above average snowfall one would get in their respective cities. Unfortunately, when that once in a century blizzard hits, man and machine are inadequate to handle the situation.

Byrne solved that problem - much to the gratitude of every mayor in Chicago since - by purchasing enough snow removal equipment to dig the city out of more snow than could choke the Abominable Snowman. There’s hardly been a peep of criticism directed toward the Chicago mayor since - at least not enough to cost him his job.

And Bloomberg? Aside from the fact that he needed to be brought down a peg or two, he will probably weather this storm. But I doubt whether we will hear much talk from now on about his candidacy for the presidency.

This post originally appears on The American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 8:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

12/28/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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

Tonight, I welcome Jazz Shaw, Aaron Gee, and Doug Mataconis for a look back at the top stories of the year.

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 5:50 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

12/23/2010
TAKING CANDY FROM OUR BABIES
CATEGORY: Government, Politics

The St. Paul, MN school system is about to adopt a most draconian rule; they are to be “sweet-free zones:”

Debra LaBounty, president of the Minnesota School Nutrition Association, said she believes St. Paul is the only district in the state to institute such a dramatic measure. National nutrition leaders say fewer than a handful of school districts in the country have tried such a thing.

With a nod to their role in reducing the nation’s high obesity rate, Minnesota’s second-largest school district plans to fully enforce the ban on sweets.

Reminders have been sent to teachers, students and parents that “sweet, sticky, fat-laden [and] salty treats” aren’t allowed during the school day, said Jean Ronnei, the district’s director of nutrition services.

The move was made this year, four years after the idea was conceived in a new St. Paul schools wellness policy, passed at the recommendation of a panel of parents, teachers, school nurses and administrators.

Using kids as lab rats is right up the alley of these people. Besides:

Opponents say there is little proof such policies work and say it’s a school’s role to teach — not force — students to eat healthy.

Now there’s a novel idea; teaching in school. Rather than brainwash and impose adult behavior on 10 year olds, why not have a good old fashioned “Health Class” where stuff like nutrition and healthy eating are taught, not rammed down the throats of children by denying them the simple pleasures of a childhood treat.

A nutritionist at Tufts University nails it:

“Nobody has the money or the will to do the real work it’s going to take to get American kids to lose weight,” said Jim Tillotson, a professor of nutrition policy at Tufts University.

She underestimates the “will” of these food nazis. Eventually, they will have to criminalize behavior like this in order to achieve their goals. Frog marching 10 year olds off to the slammer sounds impossible but so did “sweet-free zones” a few years ago.

Jacob Sullum at Reason’s Hit and Run raises a few other issues:

According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star-Tribune, the new policy covers food served in cafeterias, food sold in vending machines or at fundraisers, food kept in employees’ drawers as rewards for themselves or students, and even food that parents send to school for their children’s lunches, which evidently will be subject to searches for contraband snacks and desserts. Food control officials will have to decide thorny issues such as whether an orange counts as a sweet and sticky treat, how much sodium chloride renders a snack “salty,” and whether cheese should be banned because of its high fat content or welcomed for its protein and calcium.

[...]

Evidently the message is that children’s bodies are a collective resource that needs to be managed by agents of the state for their own good and the good of society, regardless of what they or their parents think.

It’s not like schools have anything better to do.

This post originally appears on American Thinker.

By: Rick Moran at 7:58 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

12/21/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: POLITICAL POTPOURRI

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

Tonight, I welcome Monica Showalter and Jazz Shaw for a look at some hot issues making news today.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

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

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 6:01 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

12/20/2010
ADOLESCENT LEAKER UPSET THAT HIS POLICE FILE WAS LEAKED
CATEGORY: Ethics, Politics

Lawyers for Julian Assange are livid that police files detailing his sexual dalliances with two women who accuse him of rape were published by the Guardian.

The Guardian was one of the news outlets to which Assange made the Wikileaks cables available.

Julian Assange doesn’t understand “irony:”

Lawyers for Julian Assange have expressed anger about an alleged smear campaign against the Australian WikiLeaks founder.

Incriminating police files were published in the British newspaper that has used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.

In a move that surprised many of Mr Assange’s closest supporters on Saturday, The Guardian newspaper published previously unseen police documents that accused Mr Assange in graphic detail of sexually assaulting two Swedish women. One witness is said to have stated: “Not only had it been the world’s worst screw, it had also been violent.”

Bjorn Hurtig, Mr Assange’s Swedish lawyer, said he would lodge a formal complaint to the authorities and ask them to investigate how such sensitive police material leaked into the public domain. “It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position,” he told a colleague.

First of all, it’s not a smear if it’s the truth. Left out of all media reports on the encounters Assange had with these women is that while he did have consensual sex on a couple of occasions with both females, he also sexually assaulted them at other times in that they repeatedly told him to stop his advances - and he refused. There is also the issue that the women requested he wear a condom and he refused. Apparently, that constitutes rape in Sweden.

Secondly, Assange was and is a hacker. Hackers are born without an empathy gene. They don’t care if they hack private information, violating your privacy in the most intimate way imaginable. It never enters their brain that what they are doing harms someone. They are anti-social in this respect in that they don’t see you as a human being with emotions and an ability to feel pain at being violated.

Of course, this gives the lie to Assange’s oft stated reason for releasing the cables; he’s for “transparency.” He wants to expose “the conspiracy” that exists but that really doesn’t conspire. What’s that you say? Here’s Assange’s “manifesto” where gobbledygook and adolescent thinking rule the day:

Can we find a value that describes the power of a conspiracy?

We could count the number of conspirators, but that would not capture the difference between a conspiracy and the individuals which comprise it. How do they differ? Individuals in a conspiracy conspire. Isolated individuals do not. We can capture that difference by adding up all the important communication (weights) between the conspirators, we will call this the total conspiratorial power.

Sophistry on a stick. Note the juvenile understanding of human behavior. People don’t act the way he says they do, no matter how many terms he makes up (”total conspiratorial power?”). His decidedly deterministic worldview has been proven wrong many times over as reality has trumped the notion that individuals are motivated to protect their “class” or group and act in concert to face threats to their status. That is nonsense, as any student of recent history can attest.

This justification is a beard for his real motive in leaking cables; Julian Assange wants to watch the world burn.

Like a 10 year old child focusing the light from the sun through a magnifying glass on to a grasshopper, Assange is fixated on seeing how much damage he can wreak on the world by his actions. There is nothing noble in this. It is, in fact, quite ordinary; your run of the mill arsonist or terrorist holds a similar desire. What sets Assange and his hacker friends apart is that now they have the ability to do incalculable damage to the peace of the planet - so much so that their actions may cost lives and perhaps one day, may start a war - a possibility raised by the very real problem that these leaked cables could provoke a misunderstanding of motives and intent that only leads to a rise in tensions. Lighting a match in a gasoline dump appeals to the anarchist in Assange which is why he doesn’t appear to care.

By his own acknowledgment, Assange seeks to destablize a world he fantasizes is run by this conspiracy that isn’t a conspiracy. A civilization that is unstable will make life miserable for tens of millions of people. But like Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin, Hitler, and others who sought to change the world, the lives of individual humans means nothing to Assange who now must face the fact that two female admirers who share his far left political views have the potential to send him to jail for a very long time.

He can watch the world burn from inside his cell if he is so inclined.

This post originally appears on American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 7:34 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

12/14/2010
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: CURTAINS FOR OBAMACARE?

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

Tonight, I welcome Larrey Anderson of the American Thinker, Jeff Dunetz of Yid with a Lid, and Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway to discuss the court decision on Obamacare and 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.

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 4:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

12/13/2010
Curtains for Obamacare? Not Hardly

The ruling by Judge Henry E. Hudson that parts of Obamacare are unconstitutional has set off a wave of euphoria among opponents of the law who believe that the decision will make it impossible to implement the bulk of reforms contained in the bill.

At issue was the coercive requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance. It appears to me that the judge zeroed in on what the individual mandate truly represented:

“Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative health care regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds,” wrote Hudson, a George W. Bush-appointee.

“Because an individual’s personal decision to purchase — or decline to purchase — health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause does not provide a safe sanctuary” for health care, Hudson wrote.

Cuccinelli argued that the Affordable Care Act conflicts with the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, which was passed by the state in anticipation of the passage of the federal law. Virginia’s law said that no individual mandate could be required. Hudson ruled that the law raised constitutional questions on Congress’ power to penalize people for refusing to participate in interstate commerce.

And that’s the bottom line; how, in a free society that historically values the rights and liberties of the individual, can government force people against their will to purchase anything? (The requirement for liability insurance for drivers is an entirely different matter because you can opt out of the requirement by refusing to drive. The only way to opt out of Obamacare is by refusing to breathe.)

While there is no “severability” between health care reform and the mandate, there are many other parts of the bill that are independent of the mandate’s reach and will probably become law in 2014. The issues dealing with Medicare will almost certainly stay, as will the formation of most of the boards and commissions that will oversea the new regulatory regime of the health care industry. Individual states will still be able to open their Medicaid programs to the uninsured, although how they are going to pay for it is unknown. It’s even a possibility that Congress will go ahead and offer subsidies to people who wish to purchase health insurance but can’t afford it.

It’s hard to summarize what stays and what goes in a 3,000 page bill that few have read and even fewer understand, but I suspect this is a temporary set back for insurance reformers. Where there’s a will in Congress, there is usually a way and while the GOP is taking over the reins of power in January, the insurance crisis isn’t going away and will probably be exacerbated by this ruling. Once their constituents start screaming about double digit rate increases, a new way will be found to regulate the insurance industry in order to bring costs down.

Curious that the White House put out this fact sheet over the weekend in anticipation of this ruling and made this bizarre claim:

However, unless every American is required to have insurance, it would be cost prohibitive to cover people with preexisting conditions. Here’s why: If insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to anyone who applies for insurance – especially those who have health problems and are potentially more expensive to cover – then there is nothing stopping someone from waiting until they’re sick or injured to apply for coverage since insurance companies can’t say no. That would lead to double digit premiums increases – up to 20% – for everyone with insurance, and would significantly increase the cost of health care. We don’t let people wait until after they’ve been in a car accident to apply for auto insurance and get reimbursed, and we don’t want to do that with healthcare. If we’re going to outlaw discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, the only way to keep people from gaming the system and raising costs on everyone else is to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for their own health insurance. If we don’t, then we will go back to the days of allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

It was a given that a substantial percentage of the uninsured would “game the system” under Obamacare because the penalty for not purchasing insurance was far less than the yearly cost of premiums - even with the subsidies Congress was dangling in front of citizens. The “Young Invincibles” who would make up the bulk of uninsured who might be coerced into buying policies aren’t stupid and can probably add and subtract fairly well. Why pay thousands per year for a health policy when the penalty for not doing so would have been, on average, $325?

Perhaps the bottom line questions are, how coercive should government be? What’s the tipping point where someone draws the line and says, “This far no farther?” And where do the rights of the individual end and the “greater good” begin? It’s not really a question of whether government is able to do it; it’s a matter of whether government should do it.

There are alternatives to the mandate - including subsidies - as well as the Medicaid option for the poor that would take care of millions of Americans who want health insurance but can’t afford it. Other reforms involving a mix of the free market and government regulation would almost certainly slow the cost of health care and the rise in premiums.

Selling Obamacare as the only alternative to doing nothing was always more a political truth than any accurate reflection of reality. Now it’s back to the drawing board for at least some of the reforms contained in the bill.

By: Rick Moran at 12:49 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

12/11/2010
MUSLIMS AND MEXICANS AND GAYS, OH MY!

Call me a spoil sport but I’m afraid I have fallen hopelessly behind many other conservatives and Republicans in being sufficiently fearful of Muslims, gays, and Mexicans. For some reason, I just can’t summon the proper amount of outrage at Mexicans who are overrunning the country, Muslims who are trying to convert us, and gays who want to hug us… or something.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. It’s just that my personal experience with these enemies of decent, God-fearing, patriotic Americans hasn’t matched up with the knee shaking, palm sweating, rank stink of fear generated by many conservatives in response to the “threat” these groups represent.

Take Muslims, for instance. It’s hard for me to get too worked up over Sharia creep and Muslim proselytizing when every single Muslim I’ve ever met seemed as bored with their religion as most other Americans are bored with theirs. The Muslim cab drivers I’ve come in contact with have been just as rude, just as clueless about getting me to my destination while running up the meter as any other Sikh, Greek, Russian, Kenyan, or Guatemalan hack out there. I have yet to experience a cab ride where a Muslim driver treated me like a “dhimmi” or demanded I worship Allah.

Nor have I been threatened with beheading upon paying for gasoline purchases at the local Muslim-owned convenience store. In fact, the proprietor (who goes by the name of “Jack”), and I trade good natured insults about religion all the time. He calls me a “Christian dog” and I refer to him as “Osama.” His beautiful teenage daughter sits behind the counter wearing a headscarf and gabs all day on her cellphone, giggling and laughing while the line at the counter grows longer and longer — just like at any other convenience store. When one of his sons works the counter, he can be just as surly and unpleasant as any other clerk in America.

Typical American Muslims? It might be typical of the experiences average Americans have with Muslims. But it doesn’t matter to many conservatives whose fear of Muslims seems to have exploded on to the front pages of American newspapers, shocking many of us with the inexplicable, unreasoning notion that America is in grave danger of being Islamicized. Fighting against “dhimmitude” and making wild accusations of plots to bring Sharia law to America against the will of the Christian majority is now a respectable pastime for pundits and mainstream conservative politicians alike.

Incredibly, there seems to have been an explosion of Koran scholars among conservatives on the internet as well. I don’t know where they all came from or what graduate school would have been so hard up to accept them, but there sure are a lot of frustrated academics on the right who specialize in telling us everything we don’t know about Islam - and were afraid to ask.

Write a piece about Islam or any prominent Muslim and the comments will be filled with do-it-yourself experts on the Koran and Sura, citing chapter and verse where it says that it’s OK to lie for Allah, killing Christians is a blessed act, and the goal of all Muslims is to place their boot on the neck of  America. If it wasn’t so pathetically ignorant, it would be amusing. The thought that a couple of million Muslims could impose their will on 150 million Christians is infantile. But that doesn’t stop some on the right from having a cow whenever an American community tries to accommodate the rituals and practices of Islam, or tries to expose kids to the complicated history of Islam and the West.

Being fearful of radical Islam is a good thing. The forced nonchalance on the left in their approach to combating terrorism represents a far greater danger to the republic than the healthy, intelligent recognition of the threat posed by Islamic extremists. Fear, as Ben Franklin noted, focuses the mind wonderfully. It is in that spirit that we acknowledge the extremity of the threat of terrorism, and plan accordingly to counter the jihadists in order to defend ourselves.

But to fear all Muslims is irrational. That hasn’t stopped a growing cadre of conservatives from initiating a campaign to demonize all Muslims everywhere, regardless of whether they are peaceful adherents of Islam or not.

What began after 9/11 as a few internet bigots twisting Islamic teachings to fit a predetermined narrative of violence and misogyny has become a mass movement with recognized leaders and politicians who seek to adopt the rhetoric and tactics of the fear mongers to make political hay. This October profile of Pam Geller in the New York Times pretty much says it all. Along with her sidekick Robert Spencer, a rogue academic whose musings on Islam are rejected by many mainstream Muslim scholars, Geller and Spencer represent an organized effort to deny the religion of Islam parity in American life with Christianity and Judaism.

Any attempt to accommodate Muslims be it foot baths at college campuses or time off for a Muslim holiday is portrayed as caving in to terrorists. The fact that the Muslim population of America is so tiny, and the threat seen by these bigots is so large suggests either a mass delusion or fear mongering for political purposes.

If this fear were confined to the fringes of the right, you might roll your eyes and chalk it up to the polarization and excessive ideology on both sides of the political divide. And if this abject fear were confined to Muslims, it might be thought of as an ideological anomaly, a result of the national trauma of 9/11. But in statements made by some candidates during the mid term campaign, as well as ads run in some districts, it is clear that fear of gays and illegal immigrants — largely Mexicans — have also achieved a kind of nauseating legitimacy on the right that would be shameful if those who are deliberately ratcheting up the fear could feel any shame at all.

The animus directed against illegal immigrants is so over the top that it suggests that many are less concerned with protecting our borders and more concerned with keeping America safe for white folk. There is indeed a racial element to the immigration debate. Just ask most Hispanic Americans. The message being sent by many conservatives is you’re not welcome - even if you’re here legally. Does the right really think that Hispanics voted 2-1 in favor of Democrats this past election because they thought Obama was doing such a fine job?  It should tell conservatives something that in the midst of the worst economy in 80 years, with the Hispanic community hard hit by joblessness, that they would see “more of the same” as the lesser of two evils.

As any rational American, I want our laws enforced, the border made secure as much as can be reasonably expected in an open, democratic society, and that something be done about the 10-12 million illegal aliens already here. It’s one of the toughest, most contentious problems we face and we’re not going to solve it by demagoguing the issue in order to appeal to the worst nativist instincts found in the American psyche.

What of those illegals already here? Do we deny them medical care? Do we make their kids stay at home all day by preventing them from going to school? Let’s not forget that American business makes a home for illegals in America by hiring them to do the scut work that Americans refuse to do. We’re not going to pay anyone $14 an hour to pick lettuce so we better get used to the idea of a guest worker program. And while amnesty has been proved to be a terrible idea, some kind of path to citizenship for those who truly want to be Americans has to be found and an orderly means of facilitating legal immigration that doesn’t involve waiting periods of years must be developed.

No easy answers to be sure. But we’re not going to find any answers at all as long as many on the right view Mexicans as criminals, or worse, the cause of unemployment and a drain on government resources. Reasonable people can disagree about the nature of how to approach the illegal immigration problem. But it must be done without the baggage of mindless fear directed toward illegals.

If many on the right are anti-Muslim and fearful of illegal immigrants, the attitude toward gays shown by many conservatives strikes me as being the most irrational. The mixture of sexual politics and religious fervor is a brew that has made otherwise kind, generous, intelligent people on the religious right into crusading bigots, unhinged from reality and filled with an unreasonable fear of what could happen if out of the closet homosexuals were to be considered equal with the heterosexual majority.

The idea that two people in love who want to get married are a threat to anyone or anything - including the institution of marriage which has been under attack by co-habitating heterosexuals for 40 years - is beyond the ken of my understanding. More than 50% of the families in America are “blended” families - products of two or more marriages. Marriage as an institution doesn’t need gays to be under assault. Straight people are doing a fine job at that, thank you with divorce rates that make one question why getting married in the first place is worth the effort.

There is a conservative case for gay marriage. Is there a conservative case for repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?” DADT is a different issue since it involves our national security and the tiresome efforts of liberals to use the military as a social science lab. Still, if someone is willing to serve, it is hard to make a case that they should be denied the opportunity. I remember similar arguments regarding readiness and combat effectiveness used against allowing women on naval vessels, and African Americans being integrated with white army units. Today, it is impossible to imagine our military without either “experiment.”

Somehow, I don’t think the Joint Chiefs would have signed off on repeal of DADT if they really believed we would lose 250,000 enlistees over the issue, or that it would destroy the esprit d’corps and unit cohesiveness so vital in combat. I’m sure they have their doubts, but I can’t believe them to be such political creatures as to sacrifice the effectiveness of the armed forces.

Apparently, many on the right know better than the JCS. I can’t escape thinking that at least some of this opposition is rank homophobia, in which case it is the right that has the problem, not patriotic gays who wish to serve their country.With polls showing that 67% of Americans support repeal (even 47% of Republicans), it appears that once again, fear is driving many on the right, not logic or reason.

I wish I could say that the fear of Muslims, Mexicans, and gays was confined to a small, grumpy, fanatical fringe of the right. Indeed, I still have enough faith in conservatism to think that the majority is far less hateful, bigoted, and yes, racist than the crazies who fear for Christian America from Muslims, see Mexicans as criminals, and gays as a threat to the American family. But the voices of reaction and hate have bigger microphones, more ink, and occupy a larger space on the internet  than those of us who believe their anger and fear are destroying the social fabric of America.

They are wrong. And America suffers because of them.

By: Rick Moran at 12:30 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)