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2/15/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: IS THAT A BUDGET OR ARE YOU JUST GLAD TO SEE ME?

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

Tonight, I welcome Aaron Gee of the American Thinker, Doug Mataconis of Below the Beltway, and Steve Eggleston of No Runny Eggs. We’ll have a look at Obama’s budget proposal, discuss events in the Middle East, and debate the question of whether President Obama wants to deliberately destroy America (?).

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)

2/11/2011
WHY JAMES CLAPPER MUST RESIGN

My latest is up at FrontPage.com and the subject is the utter cluelessness of a man who is supposed to know what’s happening in the world.

I don’t know why James Clapper said that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “largely secular” organization that “eschews violence.” The first proposition is radically wrong while the second is radically naive. Even reporters covering Egypt were searching for words to describe how off base Clapper was in his statements.

His is a special kind of incoherence that either reflects the shockingly ignorant consensus of our intelligence community or he is going easy on the Brotherhood because we may have to deal with them as part of any new government in Egypt. Either way, we’re in trouble. The Brotherhood has not “eschewed” violence. They made a tactical decision to de-emphasize their reliance on it. Few who know the Brotherhood agree with Clapper. That ought to seal his fate right there.

Time for Clapper to spend more time with his family. He should go - today.

A sample:

Examining Clapper’s remarks before the Intel Committee, one can’t help but be astounded, and not a little bewildered at his cluelessness about the Brotherhood. It’s not like the Islamists are trying to hide the nature of their organization, their goals, their history, or their reason for being.

As former CIA operations officer Brian Fairchild writes, there are no secrets between the Brotherhood and the rest of the world. Muhammad Mahdi Akef, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, from 2004-2010 repeatedly made clear the religious nature of his organization. He said on December, 11, 2005, “The Muslim Brotherhood is a global movement whose members cooperate with each other throughout the world, based on the same religious worldview — the spread of Islam, until it rules the world.”

Akef went on to say, “[W]e are in the global arena, and we preach for Allah according to the guidelines of the Muslim Brotherhood. All the members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the international arena operate according to the written charter that states that Jihad is the only way to achieve these goals.”

This is the organization Mr. Clapper referred to before the Intelligence Committee as “largely secular.”

Again, it’s not as if the spooks have to dig very deeply to ferret out the truth about these extremists. Here’s a quote from Akef in which he makes it crystal clear that Clapper’s contention that the Brotherhood has “eschewed violence” to be slightly premature. On August 17, 2004, he stated: “Islam considers the resistance to be Jihad for the sake of Allah and this is a commandment, a personal obligation [fardhayn] incumbent on all of the residents of the occupied countries. This commandment takes precedence over all other religious duties. Even a woman is obligated to go to war, even without her husband’s permission, and youth are permitted to go out and fight.”

How very peace-loving of them.

By: Rick Moran at 8:17 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

2/10/2011
CPAC Boycott by Social Cons Reveals the Right’s ‘Gay Problem’

Here I go again - delving into an issue where my position is diametrically opposed to the social cons, as well as many traditionalists in the conservative movement.

My latest blockbuster is up at Pajamas Media where I take the social cons and others to task for trying to eject the conservative gay advocacy group GOProud from CPAC and the conservative movement for their stance on gay marriage.

A sample:

It can be extremely unnerving to discover that the grounded, safe, familiar, secure cocoon in which we exist is being invaded by what appears to be radical ideas and radical people that throw our notions of what is “normal” out the window. We try to shelter our children by drawing them into the cocoon, just as our parents, and their parents before them tried to keep the outside world from intruding on our peaceful existence. It never works. Sooner or later, we discover that America has other plans. A nation that prides itself on being a revolutionary society where there is the chance for change every four years does not sit still for long. For better or worse, America is constantly in motion, and like a steamroller, flattens the past and readies the ground ahead for whatever transformation is to occur.

Beyond the front gate, there are all sorts of people we wish would just go away and not disturb us with their problems. Fifty years ago, it was African Americans being asked to be “patient” while society continued its glacial pace of progress toward granting dignity and freedom from oppression. Then it was women who were told to go back to the kitchen and shut up. The disabled were asked to keep a low profile so as not to upset our delicate sensibilities. The homeless became invisible. The mentally ill, exorcised from our consciousnesses.

And now, the turn of the gays. Do we learn nothing from history? Are we condemned to constantly retreat into our cocoons and fight like hell to try and maintain an outmoded, antiquated notion of what is “normal?” You would think that knowledge is liberating and that having discovered that homosexuality is not a disease, that genetics more than environment determines your sexual orientation, we might cautiously reach out and try and understand the unnecessary burden carried by the gay community in that they have to constantly fight for what you and I take for granted; the simple, decent, American ideal of equal rights under the law.

There is nothing “unconservative” about this, despite what some on the right are saying about GOProud and CPAC. This is especially true as it relates to the fundamental truth about gays that many opponents of gay marriage refuse to concede; that people in love — even if they are of the same sex — should not be denied the legal and social advantages gained by being married.

What is fascinating to me is that most of those who strenuously object to my position do so on “moral” grounds. That is to say, they believe that homosexuality is intrinsically immoral. Barely a majority in this survey disagree but note the huge change in attitudes since 1973 when 80% thought gay love was immoral.

This buttresses the point I try to make in the article. Very little in America is static and unchanging. As more and more gays come out of the closet to their families, their friends, their co-workers, attitudes toward gay people change. When they are seen as people - real, live, flesh and blood humans - rather than objects of fear or derision, attitudes toward their behavior and lifestyle soften. It is a long process and will be decades more before wide-spread acceptance is gained. But the question confronting us today is why isolate a group of conservatives who agree with the right on almost every single issue save gay marriage and DADT repeal? You don’t even have to accept gays as full citizens to do that, although you have to do some fancy intellectual footwork to make it happen.

It strikes me as ludicrous that conservatives would deny membership in their little club to people who agree with 90% of their agenda. The same goes for the brawl over whether libertarians can be conservatives. What an extraordinary example of tribalism that there would be objections from the likes of Mike Huckabee and Erick Erickson to libertarians having a role in the conservative movement. And it’s not just libertarians or homosexuals who these jamokes want frozen out of CPAC and other gatherings on the right. They actually want to ban their supporters as well - those who don’t mind if gays or libertarians participate.

If these “conservatives,” who don’t act or think very conservatively, don’t watch out, their next CPAC will be held in a conference room in Cody, Wyoming.

By: Rick Moran at 9:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

2/9/2011
THE STRANGE CASE OF RAYMOND DAVIS

My latest is up at FrontPage.com titled “Spy versus Pakistan” in which I detail the case of American diplomat Raymond Davis who is languishing illegally in a Pakistani jail as the result of his involvement in a shooting incident where two young men were killed on January 27th.

It should be noted that all we know about Mr. Davis does not add up. But the only thing that concerns us should be his legal status in Pakistan. Given that the consulate in Lahore where he was working has identified him as a “diplomat,” Pakistan should respect international law and give him immunity.

A sample:

The Pakistani court ruled that Davis must remain incarcerated for another 8 days while the police investigate the matter further. Police sources have already admitted that the incident appears to be a cut and dried case of self-defense. The windows on Davis’s car were shot out and a gun was found lying next to one of the dead robbers.

But the Pakistani people are unconvinced. The families of the victims want Davis brought up on terrorism charges and news about the incident has been on the front pages for a week. Opposition politicians are demanding that Davis be tried for murder and there have been several protests at the jail where Davis is being held.

The Pakistani people are already up in arms over what they see as American interference in Islamic justice. Recent efforts to spare the life of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy, brought thousands of protesters into the streets demonstrating in favor of the law. Reform efforts collapsed when one of the major sponsors of the effort was gunned down. And recent drone strikes that have accidentally killed Pakistani tribesmen have received a great deal of coverage. In short, one of the most anti-American countries in the world has found even greater cause to increase its animosity toward the U.S.

The Pakistani High Court will determine whether Davis is entitled to immunity. But there are elements to this story that don’t quite fit, suggesting complexity to Davis and the incident itself that defies explanation.

Indeed, some of the background for Davis reads “intelligence” pretty strongly:

Pakistani authorities claim that Davis is ex-Special Forces, having served in Afghanistan for 4 years. His take-down of the two robbers was an awesome display of coolness under fire. Six of the seven shots from his pistol found their mark despite Davis taking fire from the thugs.

Then, there was this curious piece of information offered by Dawn in their first report on the shooting:

A senior police officer told Dawn that Raymond David was among four people who were detained by security personnel near Lahores Sherpao Bridge on Dec 9, 2009, when they were trying to enter the Cantonment area in a vehicle with tinted glasses. They were armed with sophisticated weapons. The intervention of the US consulate led to their release, the officer recalled.

There’s more. UPI is reporting that the two men who were killed by Davis were intelligence operatives connected to the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service. An anonymous security official told Pakistan’s Express Tribune that “[t]hey found the activities of the American official detrimental to our national security.” He also hinted that the ISI was very upset over American accusations that it had helped facilitate the Mumbai massacre in 2008.

WaPo intel blogger Jeff Stein talked to a former State Department security specialist who thinks Davis might have been the victim of an intelligence double cross. Questions about his exact duties at the consulate as well as why he was armed and driving a rented car in one of the most dangerous areas in Lahore also hang over Davis.

None of this should matter. He may very well be some kind of intelligence agent, or contractor. But he has a diplomatic ID and that should suffice. Instead, he is sitting in a Pakistani jail waiting on the High Court to rule on his status.

By: Rick Moran at 9:42 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

2/8/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: CATCH AS CATCH CAN

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

Tonight, I welcome Monica Showalter of IDB, Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog, and Jazz Shaw of Hot Air’s Green Room for a discussion of 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 5:27 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

WHY JOHNNY CAN’T COMPETE

It has been 39 years since I sat in a high school classroom fantasizing about doing it with Donna Alpers, daydreaming about becoming a Major League baseball player, and wondering what was for lunch. That pretty much describes my academic achievements, although as I recall, I was very good in physical education and got an “A” in religion.

The Viatorians who taught me tried their best. That they succeeded in pounding enough knowledge into my thick skull so that I could graduate and go on to a decent college speaks volumes about their perseverance and concern for their students. Beyond that, the one life lesson I took away from being under their tutelage for 4 years was that acquiring knowledge for the sake of knowing was a worthy attribute that would serve you well for life.

Is this what’s wrong with students today? I’m sure there are many wonderful teachers out there willing to give their all for their students. But has imparting the sheer joy of learning - something that must be nurtured and tended like a tiny shoot of an evergreen - been lost in the drive to teach students how to take standardized tests so that the school achieves some arbitrary mark set by government to judge their progress? Or has the thirst for knowledge in students been quenched by overly zealous administrators who believe schools should be hives of political correctness and sensitivity to those different than oneself?

The various textbook controversies over the years don’t really touch on this subject. To me, it’s never been about what’s in the textbooks as much as it should be about firing the imaginations of students to seek out additional information on their own. We aren’t just talking about “critical thinking skills” - a buzz phrase that means little to high school kids. More important than learning how to think is learning to accept challenges. If that means that some will fail, so be it. There is failure in life as much as there is failure in school and until kids are taught this, they will continue to fool themselves into believing that passing a standardized test is the same as being a good student.

If these statistics about the percentage of high school graduates who are adequately prepared for college and well paying jobs from New York state can be believed, something is radically amiss:

New York State education officials released a new set of graduation statistics on Monday that show less than half of students in the state are leaving high school prepared for college and well-paying careers.

The new statistics, part of a push to realign state standards with college performance, show that only 23 percent of students in New York City graduated ready for college or careers in 2009, not counting special-education students. That is well under half the current graduation rate of 64 percent, a number often promoted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as evidence that his education policies are working.

But New York City is still doing better than the state’s other large urban districts. In Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers, less than 17 percent of students met the proposed standards, including just 5 percent in Rochester.

The Board of Regents, which sets the state’s education policies, met on Monday to begin discussing what to do with this data, and will most likely issue a decision in March. One option is to make schools and districts place an asterisk next to the current graduation rate, or have them report both the current graduation rate and the college ready rate, said Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the Board of Regents.

The move parallels a decision by the Regents last year to make standardized tests for third through eighth graders more difficult to pass, saying that the old passing rates did not correlate to high school success.

They’re missing the point, of course. The reason the kids aren’t prepared isn’t because the tests aren’t hard enough. The reason is they aren’t learning. At a time when America is losing its competitive edge to China, India, and 2 dozen other industrialized countries, the Regents want to bring test scores up. Perhaps concentrating more on what the students are learning - better yet, what they aren’t learning - would be more to the point.

But such introspection by schools cannot be done. That way leads to madness - and conflicts with the teacher’s unions, school districts, education advocates, and Washington, D.C. Instead of challenging kids to learn, we are forcing a results-oriented template on their education that inevitably leads to figuring out how to beat the test, rather than learn for the sake of learning.

The current regime discourages independent thinking, the wonder of discovery, and the self satisfaction in meeting personal and public challenges. Looking back on my rather indifferent academics, I can see where most of my high school teachers challenged me in one way or another. The point wasn’t to inure me to success or failure but to force me to better myself. Grades weren’t superfluous but the goal was to point me to my own process of discovery.

I may romanticize a bit about my schooling but I know that no matter how much I hated some of it, I have never lost my thirst for learning new things. If that is the least that an education should accomplish - and given my grades that, would seem to be the absolute least - then my schooling should be judged a success in anyone’s eyes.

Can the same be said today? Is this still part of the philosophy of education? Or is it more important to teach kids not to hate another because of their skin color, or sensitize students to bullying, sexual harassment, and other societal ills? Does class time spent on these subjects come at the expense of more important subjects that will affect the future of the student as much or moreso than wringing out their prejudices and bigotries?

Surely those are worthy subjects to pursue, although I question whether much good is accomplished in their teaching. For every kid that graduates more tolerant a human being than they went in, I would like to see another who is embarking on a lifelong quest for knowledge.

That’s a fair trade in my book.

By: Rick Moran at 11:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

2/6/2011
HAPPY 100TH, RONALD REAGAN
CATEGORY: History, Politics

Exactly 100 years ago in Tampico, IL - not far from where I am sitting writing this - Ronald Reagan was born. I realize that all Americans lay claim to Reagan’s legacy, but I hope you’ll forgive a little Heartland chauvinism and allow me to say that we here in the Midwest - perhaps more than others - can claim him as a favorite son.

Heartland values defined his life. The simplicity and decency of his character were forged on the prairie. His optimism and sunny disposition came to him naturally, a product of small town Americana.

I’m sure you’ve read a lot this week about Reagan. Even from the vengeful, hateful left, there has been a grudging acknowledgment of his gifts. On the right, however, there has been too much over the top Reagan worship for my tastes. Reagan was an imperfect man whose presidency had its flaws. He accomplished great things and failed greatly in others. Looking at only his warts, or his successes is superficial, however, and does not give us a complete picture of either Reagan, the person, or Reagan, the world-historical figure. That job is left to some future biographer who will be far enough removed so that the emotion people feel toward Ronald Reagan has been wrung out of the record. Right now, we are still far too close to the man and his times to make a competent judgment about his ultimate place in history.

The French academy used to have a rule that historians couldn’t write about any subject newer than 100 years old. This 19th century dictum was based on the idea that it took about 100 years for all correspondence, diaries, papers, and private recollections about a person or an event to come to light. From this distance, it seems a little silly. But the idea is not without merit. How can we judge someone without absorbing the totality of their impact on the world? This is especially true of Reagan who inspired such passion for and against him while he was on the national stage. That passion interferes with analysis and tempts the historian to ignore some facts in order to highlight others in service to ideology or bias.

It should also be noted that Reagan’s influence is still relevant today. Decisions made during his presidency are still effecting events in the Middle East, Europe, Russia and elsewhere. A final judgment of whether his impact was positive or negative in many areas, both foreign and domestic, has yet to be written.

It is in GOP politics that Reagan’s impact is still felt at the gut level. Candidates try to claim his mantle. Activists demand we follow his philosophy. Politicians invoke his name and legacy to win votes. But there is no “next Reagan” or even “Reaganesque” politicians. You don’t duplicate great men whose like is seen so rarely. By definition, the facsimile pales in comparison and ultimately disappoints. In this sense, it is better for Republicans if they were to wrap Reagan’s memory and set it in a special place where we can cherish it, admire it, but recognize the limitations that myth can have on policy choices.

It is not 1980. Our problems are different. The first decade of the 21st century demands different answers. The questions that faced Ronald Reagan when he took office were different than the ones we are asking today. It would be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole if we attempted to force a Reagan template over our current dilemma. Surely we can demand allegiance to his principles. And copying his virtues would be a capitol idea. But his solutions, which were fine for his times, would find little success today.

Therein lies the danger of taking Reagan hagiography too far. By celebrating a mythic past, we mire ourselves in solutions that have no relevance to our present problems. The truth about Reagan is grand enough, without need to embellish it. Nor does it necessarily mean that by pointing out Reagan’s flaws that you are trying to give the statue feet of clay. Ronald Reagan - the good, the bad, the indifferent - has to be taken as he was, living in the times he did, with all his accomplishments and failures in order to glean the essence of the lessons we can draw from his time in office.

The idea that Obama wants to embrace the Reagan personae and claim it for his own says something profound about the Gipper. I don’t recall any Republicans attempting to claim such from FDR or even Kennedy. It is a mark of his originality and still momentous impact on our national life that a liberal like Obama wants to capture something of the Reagan magic to this day.

Nobody will be fooled by it, that’s for sure.

My own memories of the 1980’s is less positive than many on the right would like. There were many conservatives who worried about the structural deficits being created by the tax cuts. Failure by the administration at that time to demand spending cuts from the Democratic congress to offset the huge loss in revenue doomed us to years of big budget deficits. Placing the blame for this solely on Democrats isn’t really fair. Certainly, they bear some responsibility. But Reagan never proposed a balanced budget - or anything close - in his 8 years in office.

Let’s not forget the massive increase in the size of government during the Reagan years, either. This from the Mises Institute:

In 1980, Jimmy Carter’s last year as president, the federal government spent a whopping 27.9% of “national income” (an obnoxious term for the private wealth produced by the American people). Reagan assaulted the free-spending Carter administration throughout his campaign in 1980. So how did the Reagan administration do? At the end of the first quarter of 1988, federal spending accounted for 28.7% of “national income.”

Reagan could talk a good conservative game, but when push came to shove, the pragmatism in his style of government emerged to offset his ideologicial inclinations.

This is especially true when it came to the evangelical right and social issues. His commitment to the GOP’s social agenda was a mile wide and an inch deep. For example, when his primal thrust for tax reform was being debated in Congress, President Reagan called or visited with more than 300 members of Congress.  But when constitutional amendments banning abortion and allowing school prayer came to a vote, he didn’t make a single call or visit with any members of Congress. He was not about to expend his personal capital to satisfy the agenda of the social cons. Of course, he was not above using them to win elections. But charges that he catered to them just doesn’t hold water.

Reagan’s commitment to conservative virtues was also selective. How anyone could call his 2,000 page tax reform proposal “prudent” is beyond me. It was sickening to watch the lobbyists gang up and make a perfectly rational piece of tax legislation light up like a Christmas tree with all those amendments, special exemptions (sometimes for one company), and other add ons that made a mockery of good government. As for probity, I give you Iran-Contra - the most unbelievably stupid government policy since World War II. Reagan lied about it, and then proclaimed it “a good idea.” No it wasn’t, and it condemned 3 more Americans to captivity by Hezballah, who simply kidnapped other Americans after the arms for hostages deal freed some of them.

Was Reagan responsible for the growing gap in income between rich and poor? This is a common assertion by the left, but it ignores the forces of history that contributed to the slow destruction of the middle class in America.

Our middle class was built as a result of our absolute economic hegemony in the industrialized world following the end of World War II. There was hardly a stick or a stone left standing in 1945 in Germany, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, Japan, and much of eastern and western Europe. The US was the only nation to escape the near total destruction of the industrial base of the leading economies in the world. Because of that, our own industrial economy supplied most of the world with steel, rubber, autos, machine tools, and a thousand other products.

But such dominance couldn’t last forever. By the mid 1960’s, Japan and Germany especially were challenging us all over the map. As the rest of the world caught up, our shortsighted industries failed to invest in new plant, new equipment, and new techniques that would have allowed us to be more competitive in a changing world. Such was not to be, and the plants that employed our workers began their long slide into oblivion.

When the 1980’s arrived, wages for factory workers were already declining precipitously. Our economy had begun the long, slow, painful transition from being industrial based to service based. Jobs were disappearing at an astonishing rate in the old labor intensive industries of the midwest. The jobs that these workers eventually succeeded in getting paid far less than their old factory jobs, thus skewing the income gap toward the rich.

All of this occurred before Ronald Reagan even took the oath of office. Did the tax cuts accelerate the gap in incomes? That might be a fair criticism, although the question that is better asked is why not more targeted tax breaks for industry so that modernization might have saved a few jobs. Reagan and conservatives eschewed an “industrial policy” which might have been ideologically satisfying but the result was anything but sublime. The income gap and resulting destruction of the American middle class may have been mostly the result of long term trends, but no president, party, or administration ever addressed the problem of our shrinking manufacturing base that might have made the situation better.

If one were to subscribe to the “Great Man” theory of history that points to the intervention of a Lincoln, a Washington, or a Napoleon for that matter, as an essential component of historical change, Reagan certainly belongs in any top tier list of best American presidents.

But Reagan benefited hugely by the lucky accident of a rare convergence of historical forces that saw the earth shattering conclusion to the Soviet Union’s hegemony of eastern Europe, as well as the final, inevitable collapse of the unsustainable Soviet system. In this respect, Reagan can be credited with riding the whirlwind successfully and initiating challenges that led directly to the fall of the Soviet empire. What might have been a period of extreme hazard for the world, ended with the successful, largely peaceful transition out of the Soviet model and into a still uncertain future for Russia.

The mixed success of Reagan’s economic policies and uneven results in his foreign policy will probably drop Reagan out of the top 10 list of best US presidents. If it is results that ranks presidents, that will be true even after all that were alive during his presidency pass on and the strong emotions associated with his time on the national stage is replaced by the cold, black and white facts and figures that historians will mull over to glean Reagan’s impact on history.

But will these investigations capture Reagan’s innate optimism? His dominant personality? The ease with which power sat on his shoulders? His undeniable connection to the overwhelming majority of Americans? His ability to speak a language that touched something deep within the American psyche? Or the iconic status in which he will be held by conservatives?

I hope so. No understanding of the Reagan presidency, or Reagan the man, will be complete without acknowledging the fact that that his greatest gifts and most telling legacy will be in the way he saw America and the way Americans saw him.

Part of this blog post was first published at The American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 11:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

EARTH’S MAGNETIC POLES FLIPPING?
CATEGORY: PJ Tatler, Science

I am going to start putting up some of my PJ Tatler postings. This one got some attention this morning:

Earth’s Magnetic Pole Flipping?

If this article by Terrence Aym in the Salem-News is to be believed, global warming will be the absolute least of our worries:

NASA has been warning about it…scientific papers have been written about it…geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core samples…

Now “it” is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world’s weather.

Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun’s magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet’s own magnetic field.

When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.

Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth’s history. It’s happening again now to every planet in the solar system including Earth.

The magnetic field drives weather to a significant degree and when that field starts migrating superstorms start erupting.

There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that there appears to be absolutely nothing we can do to affect what is happening. In other words, there won’t be any “mangnetic credits” or “geo-magneto swap” schemes to enrich the Al Gores of the world. I’m pretty sure magnets won’t be outlawed nor will magnetism be declared hazardous to our health.

The bad news is Jesus is coming and he’s taking names and kicking butt.

By: Rick Moran at 10:31 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

2/5/2011
CLIO’S INTERVENTION

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Clio, the muse of history, can be a bitch of a mistress. Just when you think the world has settled into a nice, ordered regimen with the “March of Progress” proceeding at a stately pace, along comes the Countess of Chaos, the Mistress of Mayhem to throw all of our pretensions about controlling events into a cocked hat and teach us a lesson in humility, if not in respect for the gods.

Egypt; Land of the Pharaohs, cradle of civilization, crossroads of empire, and more recently, a linchpin in the strategic position of the US in the Middle East, has had enough. Enough of oppression, enough of dictatorship, enough of grinding, endless poverty, enough of being beaten down and ground to powder by a pitiless state.

In short, they’ve had enough of Hosni Mubarak and want him out.

Americans are of two minds regarding Clio’s intervention in Egypt. The idealists are swooning with joy over what appears as of this writing to be the possible exit of President Mubarak and the historic chance for democracy to flower in the ancient Nile valley. The realists are sounding the alarm about the probable participation in a post-Mubarak government of the Nazi-inspired, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood. The push-pull of these two forces on American policy has always been part of our national life, so it’s not surprising that when historic events explode across our TV screens and computer monitors, that an acrimonious discussion would break out about what the US should do now, and how we should handle what comes next.

Clio is silent in this debate. She doesn’t do the future. She’ll occasionally lift her skirt and slyly reveal the broadest of hints about what is to come based on what we know of the past and what we can see of the present. But our vision is a clouded one; so much that is unseen, unperceived, and just unknowable.

Our hearts our with the protestors, urging them on, praying for their safety, and marveling at their otherworldy courage. This is the patrimony given to us by the Founders that every generation of Americans is charged with keeping safe; the belief that liberty must eventually spread across the world and that anything we can do to aid in that sacred mission must be done. We have spilled an ocean of blood and spent a king’s ransom a thousand times over to advance this cause. It is in our DNA and there’s no use fighting it.

But prudence dictates that we also be mindful of the future and the catastrophe that is possible if Islamists were to take a leading role in the formation of any “Unity Government” that emerges following a collapse of the old regime. Clio gives us hints about the outcome of any such folly. Before there was Lenin, there was a Karensky; before Hitler, Von Papen; before the Sandinistas, there was a “Junta of National Reconstruction” with the Sandinistas a minority; and before there was a radical Islamist state in Iran, there was the “moderate” government of President Banisadr. In each case, the hopes and dreams of the people were shattered when ruthless men with guns blew up the moderate intent of those whose earnestness and good hearts were no less than we find in Egypt today.

So it is with a mixture of awe and trepidation we watch as Clio pulls back the curtain on events in Egypt. As for the future, the Greeks believed that the threads of our life were spun by the Fates and everything that happens to us has been preordained. We can’t afford to be such fatalists. We are not helpless as the movement of peoples and ideas rolls forward, flattening the past and changing the landscape to reflect a new reality. In the case of Egypt, however, it might be true that our ability to effect events to our advantage will occur after President Mubarak is gone, rather than having us standing in the way of the juggernaut as it steamrolls the dictator and the remnants of his odious rule.

Titanic historical forces are now loose in the Middle East. Other nations - Jordan, Yemen, Syria. Qatar - are trying to forestall the wave by changing personnel, making symbolic liberalizing gestures, and overusing the word “reform.” I doubt whether their own citizens are buying it. As the spirit Dave Bowman keeps telling us toward the end of the movie 2010, “Something wonderful is about to happen.”That “something” is the awakening of a long oppressed people who have finally realized that the power to be free resided in the strangest of all places - within their own hearts and minds. The revelation itself is as liberating for the Arabs today as it was for English colonists 235 years ago who threw off the shackles of their own tyranny to begin the world anew.

There will probably be much disappointment across the Arab world when the wave recedes and the hard, slogging, grinding, work of creating a civil society where none existed before is undertaken. The kinds of governments thrown up by these protests will have a hard time meeting the stratospheric expectations of the citizens who braved the worst their oppressors could throw at them to will themselves to freedom. There will be triumphs and setbacks. Some governments will no doubt be freer than others. More blood will need to be spilled before the hopes and aspirations of so many can be fulfilled, and the liberty - however they perceive that term - so hard fought is to be fairly won. That is the way of the world, though we wish it were not so.

Many in Egypt have lived a lifetime this past week. But that mischievous minx Clio is just getting started.

By: Rick Moran at 9:01 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

2/4/2011
Mubarak’s Grip on Power Firms Up

He was hanging by his fingernails on Tuesday of this week when 2 million Egyptians poured into the streets to protest his odious rule.

But you don’t last for 30 years as dictator unless you acquire some survival skills along the way. Hosni Mubarak has put those skills to good use over the last couple of days, and by doing so, has firmed up a tenuous hold on power. Talk of his imminent demise has ceased except in the most idealistic and optimistic circles of the Egyptian revolt.

In short, Mubarak may have pulled a rabbit out of a hat and guaranteed his survival until his announced retirement in September. And he did it by granting the most niggardly of concessions to the opposition, and without compromising the all-important position of the military in the Egyptian government and society.

The New York Times
is reporting that the administration is “negotiating” with elements of the Egyptian government to ease Mubarak’s leaving. This would be great news if the Egyptians cared a whit what we or any other western nation thought:

They cautioned that the outcome depended on several factors, not least Egypt’s own constitutional protocols and the mood of the protesters on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.

Some officials said there was not yet any indication that either Mr. Suleiman or the Egyptian military was willing to abandon Mr. Mubarak.

Even as the Obama administration is coalescing around a Mubarak-must-go-now posture in private conversations with Egyptian officials, Mr. Mubarak himself remains determined to stay until the election in September, American and Egyptian officials said. His backers forcibly pushed back on Thursday against what they viewed as American interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.

[...]

“What they’re asking cannot be done,” one senior Egyptian official said, citing clauses in the Egyptian Constitution that bar the vice president from assuming power. Under the Constitution, the speaker of Parliament would succeed the president. “That’s my technical answer,” the official added. “My political answer is they should mind their own business.”

Talks between Secretary Gates and the Egyptian military aren’t even concerned with a handover of power. Gates wants to make sure the Egyptian army doesn’t start a slaughter in Tahrir Square. Given the current efforts by the government to silence, intimidate, arrest, and coerce foreign and domestic media, anything is possible, including the kind of crackdown that would have probably saved the Shah in 1979, and did save the Chinese Communist government in 1989.

Mubarak’s rent-a-thug gambit has worked. The goons he sent into the streets on Wednesday to attack the opposition frightened ordinary Egyptians who might welcome a more democratic society but are opposed to the violence and bloodshed that exploded across their TV screens. Mubarak’s announcement the previous evening that he would not seek re-election placated many Egyptians who now wonder why the president has to leave immediately. In this context, the demands of the protestors seem petulant, rather than revolutionary.

The key, as it always has been, is the military. As Egypt slowly slipped into anarchy, the army was strangely quiescent - not moving to break up the demonstrations but not making much effort to stop the looting and pillaging by gangs either.

Then, when Mubarak’s goons went into the streets on Wednesday, they finally took a stand, coming down on the side of the pro-Mubarak forces. They didn’t take an active role in the battle for Tahrir Square but they proved invaluable allies to the street bullies. The army allowed their vehicles to be used as shelter against the rock throwing anti-Mubarak demonstrators, while also sealing off most of the exits from the Square, forcing confrontations between the two factions. The violent imagery did the cause of the anti-Mubarak demonstrators no good. The momentum of the protest seemed to ebb as fewer demonstrators had the physical courage to stand up to the state-sponsored violence being orchestrated by the government.

Mubarak’s concessions to the opposition were not designed to satisfy them, but rather satisfy the vast majority of Egyptians who want change but not bloody revolution. The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamad ElBaradei spurned Mubarak’s offers of dialogue is immaterial. The western press has made far more of ElBaradei’s influence than is recognized by the average Egyptian. And while no one is sure of the Brotherhood’s strength on the street, there is no argument that a majority of Egyptians are opposed to their fundamentalist view of religion and political society. In other words, their refusal to negotiate with Mubarak is not an important gesture.

Other opposition groups may participate in talks.Haaretz reports that “some opposition groups had agreed to [Prime Minister] Shafiq’s invitation, including the liberal, nationalist Wafd party, which is a legal party.” If true, Mubarak would have successfully split the opposition and strengthened his position.

With his abandonment of the plan to elevate his son Gamal to the presidency, and the ascension of General Omar Suleiman to the position of vice president and putative successor, Mubarak cleverly removed one of the causes of opposition to his rule; the “inheritance of power” issue with his son. It has never been confirmed, but Gamal may have fled to London in the first hours of the revolt on January 26th. Suleiman’s elevation almost certainly took the younger Mubarak out of play where the September elections are concerned.

Some analysts, including the Naval Post Graduate School’s Robert Springborg, see the abandonment of Gamal as evidence that the military, long a power behind the throne in Egypt, is taking a more active role in political affairs. Writing in Foreign Policy, Springborg believes the Egyptian military high command “under no circumstances would submit to rule by civilians rooted in a representative system,” which is one reason why Gamal has either gone into hiding or exile. Either way, word that Gamal has resigned his membership in the National Democratic Party would indicate that his budding political career has ended.

The advantage of Mubarak’s rent-a-thug gambit is two fold; it keeps the military’s hands clean in any bloody crackdown while giving the regime an excuse to break up the protests in order to restore “peace.” It’s a nice trick; foment the violence and then get credit for restoring order.

The army can now safely move between the pro and anti-Mubarak groups and be seen as Egypt’s protectors rather than as the instrument of state control that they truly are. Washington, London, Paris, and the rest can jawbone all they want about “democracy” but restoring order in the streets of Cairo is now the number one priority. Businesses, including banks and food shops, have been closed for more than a week. Civil order must be restored or people will start rioting for food rather than freedom.

All this strengthens Mubarak and his hold on power. Unless there is a stunning turn of events, it is hard to see how he can be forced out now. He has cemented the loyalty of the army by choosing Suleiman as his successor while tossing out the technocrats in government ministries who never served in the military and were bringing western style capitalist methods to the Egyptian economy. He has not given in to the Brotherhood and their demands made by the fop ElBaradei. And while protestors are still in the streets, and may be there for a few more days, the bulk of the Egyptian people appear ready to return to normalcy.

It also appears that Mubarak has blunted any move toward real reform. When the government does negotiate with the opposition, it won’t be with ElBaradei or the Brotherhood. Those parties the government deigns to talk to will settle for scraps thrown to them by the army. Thus, any reforms will be window dressing rather than substantive change.

It is tempting to wonder if President Obama had done something differently that the outcome of the January 25 revolution in Egypt would have been different. Frankly, it’s hard to see how anything America could have done would have changed the conclusion. The clash of idealism and realism will always bring about unsatisfactory results, even if our actions or words could have had a material impact on the final outcome. We were torn between rooting for the protestors and recognizing the vital need for stability in the region. Our confusing, halting rhetoric and actions reflected that reality and Mubarak took advantage.

Mubarak’s recovery has been remarkable as it has been unexpected. We will see what events bring over the next few days, but whatever happens, there is a good chance that the president will be able to weather the storm and serve out his remaining term.

By: Rick Moran at 8:32 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)