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4/28/2011
Birthers Appear Unimpressed with Obama Birth Certificate

My latest PJ Media column looks at the stubborn stupidity that is the Birther movement in the wake of the release of Obama’s birth certificate:

A sample:

For the true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, never-say-never birthers, the only thing that will apparently convince them of the provenance of Obama’s birth is a document that tells them exactly what they believe — that the president wasn’t born here and is therefore ineligible to hold office. Any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as fake or forged, or is simply ignored as not worthy of their attention.

To wit: When confronted with irrefutable proof that you have been wrong all along, concentrate on minutiae that, at least in your own mind, can keep the theory alive. Here’s a comment from Roger L. Simon’s “Teachable Moment” post on the Tatler:

A color copy, and everyone uses black ink to sign their name? 90% of pens in the world are blue.

This is an obvious forgery.

It is sad and pathetic, yes. After having gone through several hundred comments on sites ranging from Hot Air to Newsbusters, the only conclusion I can draw is the astonishing fact that not one single birther admits to error. I would hope that there are some birthers who have seen the light and are too embarrassed or depressed to comment about it. But those that took the trouble either searched valiantly for the kind of detail our friend above found, or speculated about ways the certificate of live birth could have been forged:

Witness Protection forges documents all the time. Whose [sic] to day [sic] this is not one? Same for CIA. BUT – the big question is why hide it?

The answer to that question was given by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer:

Earlier Wednesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the debate has been “really bad for the Republican Party.”

The so-called “birther” debate is “good politics” but “bad for the country,” said Pfeiffer.

With 75% of the country believing that President Obama was either definitely or probably born in America, and 45% of Republicans believing the opposite, the White House didn’t have to lift a finger to “prove” anything. The GOP was doing a bang-up job of making themselves look like paranoid nutcases without any help. The old political adage that states “Never get in the way of your opponent when they are self-destructing” applied here.

I urge everyone to read Richard Hofstadter’s old essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” to understand the mindset at work among the Birthers. I think most objective observers today would admit that Hofstadter allowed his partisanship to intrude far too often in his observations (later in life, he abandoned the new left and embraced conservatism as a philosophy). But much of what he writes can be applied to either the right or left fringe, which makes many of his points ring true.

When so much of one’s intellectual and emotional capital is invested in paranoid beliefs, it becomes impossible to admit error because one isn’t just admitting they are wrong about a single issue, they are admitting that their worldview is incorrect. The entire notion of  how they experience reality is challenged. Therefore, it becomes imperative to protect their beliefs, even if every piece of  objective evidence says otherwise.

With Donald Trump now leading the GOP field, it’s a good bet that other paranoid fantasies will be resurrected. I can’t believe some of the people who are cheering this irresponsible lout on. He’s more arrogant than Obama. He’s more of a narcissist, less experienced in government, and less patient and prudent. He’s got an ego the size of Mount Everest and would likely betray Republicans as often as he would hammer the Democrats.

If Trump wins the nomination even after making some of the most outrageous statements ever uttered by a serious candidate for president - that we should take Libya’s oil, for instance - then the Birthers will look downright rational next to a Republican party that had truly lost its collective mind.

By: Rick Moran at 10:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/26/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: SHOULD AMERICA ‘LEAD FROM BEHIND?’

PLEASE NOTE: THE RICK MORAN SHOW WILL STREAM ONE HOUR EARLIER THAN USUAL - FROM 6-7 PM CENTRAL TIME.

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 Jazz Shaw of Hot Air, Doug Mataconis of Below the Beltway, and Jeff Dunetz of Yid with a Lid. We’ll look at the Ryan Lizza piece in the New Yorker yesterday about the president’s foreign policy as well as GOP presidential politics.

The show will air from 6:00 - 7:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

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

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

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 3:39 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP DEBUNKING THE BIRTHERS

I suppose I shouldn’t care about the birther issue so much. After all, I am not a Republican anymore. If the party wants to blow itself up, it shouldn’t concern me.

But most of those making this idiotic argument dare to call themselves “conservative.” They are not. They are far right wackos who live in a paranoid world where truth, and logic, and reason are banned by law. These are people who are proud of their ignorance, despise achievement, denigrate intelligence, eschew excellence, and wallow in mediocrity. Their heroes are political lightweights — bomb throwers who glory in their very averageness. It excites the mouth breathers that Sarah Palin is no smarter than they are. They swoon at Bachmann’s nonsensical political attacks and paranoid fears about policies of which she is deliberately ignorant.

The Bachmann’s, the Palin’s, the West’s, the Caine’s - these are all politicians who are proud of their inability to elevate political dialogue and rise above the petty resentments of their constituencies in order to inspire, not hate. They are leading legions of people astray and I despise them for it.

Using what used to be conservatism’s good name in order to push these jaw dropping theories about Obama’s origins brings the fringe to the mainstream. The internet amplifies and broadcasts this claptrap, placing it in the feedback loop that is conservative online media, and since most conservatives refuse to expose themselves to alternate ideas and worldviews - automatically dismissing information not based on its relevance or logic, but rather based solely on its source - birther nonsense gains traction. What belongs in the closet is brought into the light because the birthers have no sense of proportion, no idea how to weigh and judge authoritative proof for their paranoid theories. In fact, the more authoritative the evidence, the less it is believed. All alternative sources are suspect as being part of the conspiracy or hopelessly biased in favor of the president.

Communicating among themselves, citing each other’s “evidence” as proof for their theories, relying on evidentiary standards that wouldn’t pass muster in a Kangaroo Court, and descending into an ever more involved and twisted exercise in dot connecting, birthers are immune to any appeals to logic or reason.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a birther bill last week that was a poorly disguised religious test and, as even some conservative legal scholars have pointed out, exceeds the authority of the state in that it adds requirements not found in the Constitution. Here, she points out the obvious:

“It’s just something I believe is leading our country down a path of destruction and it just is not serving any good purpose,” Brewer said, calling it a distraction from the much more pressing issue of the economy.

“I think we really just need to move on,” Brewer continued. “Everybody’s had two years to prove, if they wanted to, that he was not born in Hawaii. They haven’t come up with any of that kind of proof.”

The vast majority of the country is not crazy. This quest to uncover evidence that doesn’t exist - a quest supported to varying degrees by 45% of Republicans - will finish the Republican party as a serious political force for god knows how long. This doesn’t seem to bother the Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus:

“It doesn’t worry me,” Priebus said at a Tuesday breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “But the reality is that I’m chairman of the RNC … In regard to this birther issue, I’ve got better things to worry about.”

Sorry Mr. Chairman, you’re dead wrong. When nearly half your flock embraces a theory on par with believing the earth is flat, it’s time to get concerned. Very concerned.

And the weak kneed, lily livererd GOP politicians who are fully aware of the insanity of the birther movement aren’t talking, or are even going so far as issuing mealy-mouthed statements like the Chairman above - we’ve got better things to do than concentrate on this “non-issue.”

Earth to GOP pols: Half your fricking constituency doesn’t think this is a “non-issue” and are worried about it. Maybe a strong, unequivocal statement, calling the birthers what they are - certifiable kooks - might knock the chocks from underneath their bandwagon. I realize you can’t criticize Trump for using the birthers to further his political ambitions because you all have been doing the same thing for years. But maybe you can stop the Mickey Mouse, condemn the nutcases for being outside the bounds of sanity, and then get on with beating the Democrats.

I realize this will fall on deaf ears with most of the birthers. For it is not evidence they want, it is a revelation - a religious event where God reveals the truth and hits them over the head with it. Since such an occurrence is unlikely, I expect the birthers to continue to make fools of themselves.

I wouldn’t mind so much except they are claiming the mantle of conservatism while doing so. And to my mind, that is perhaps their greatest sin and their most spectacular flight from reality of all.

By: Rick Moran at 11:54 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/25/2011
YEMEN FALLING

My latest is up at FrontPage.com where I tackle the rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen.

A sample:

The Saudis have a direct stake in finding a peaceful outcome in Yemen. But America’s interest in guiding Yemen out of this morass toward stability is no less urgent. For 15 years, President Saleh has successfully parlayed America’s desire to fight terrorism into aid for his regime and a hammer that he could use against the opposition. Many in Yemen wonder just how serious the al-Qaeda threat truly is, as Saleh has used terrorism as an excuse to undertake several crackdowns on those wanting democratic change. And while Saleh is considered a strong ally in the war on terror, a debate has raged in Washington for years about his real value, given his autocratic nature and his less than persistent efforts to attack the terrorists ensconced in the mountainous Northern provinces.

Nevertheless, Saleh has allowed our drones to attack al-Qaeda targets, given permission for special forces to train Yemeni counterterrorism units, and gone over to the offense in the battle against AQAP. All of this is now by the boards as Saleh has retrenched and withdrawn his army and the counterterror forces, concentrating them around the capitol of Sanaa. He has also forbidden drone strikes. This has given AQAP the opening it needed and the terrorists have now moved into towns and villages, filling the void left by the army and police.

AQAP has reportedly taken over a town in Abyan province and declared an “Islamic Emirate.” Most observers scoff at the idea of an independent al-Qaeda emirate, but the AQAP move demonstrates that the chaos roiling the streets and provinces of Yemen is benefiting the terrorists as Saleh’s control of the country continues to shrink to Sanaa and a few other urban centers.

In addition to AQAP in the north, there is another insurgency in the formerly independent south. Separatists there have also taken advantage of the chaos to push into areas formerly controlled by the central government. It would appear that the longer the political crisis goes on in Sanaa, the more advantageous the situation will be for AQAP and the Iranian backed Houthi rebellion in the north, and the separatists in the south.

What has the Obama administration done about the situation? As in Egypt, they have abandoned a long-time ally, while pushing for “reforms.” On April 5, the White House released a statement condemning the violence in Yemen and calling on President Saleh to step down. Privately, they were hoping that Saleh could broker a deal that would have him remain in power in some capacity. Richard Fontaine of Foreign Policy Magazine believes that a “best case scenario” would see a situation where “Yemeni politics could reach a more stable footing and, through a new openness, undermine the appeal of extremism.” Fontaine also hopes that “Washington might pursue a broad relationship that extends beyond security cooperation and aid to active support of a budding democracy.” Out of this relationship might be forged a new counterterrorism dynamic based on a more stable foundation than the mercurial Saleh.

But the collapse of the GCC agreement makes that scenario a remote possibility. Hundreds of thousands of protestors were in the street on Sunday calling for Saleh’s immediate departure. Meanwhile, the GCC announced that it would conduct no more negotiations; the two sides must accept the agreed framework.

I think there’s still a possibility that Saleh will drop the most objectionable particulars in the GCC agreement and will leave peacefully - as long as he gets immunity from murdering his own citizens. Opposition politicians seem willing to do this, but the youth in the streets utterly reject the idea. They are also rightly suspicious that a government made up of former Saleh loyalists and a few opposition politicians will hardly be representative of the Yemeni people.

One can sympathize with the kids but also realize that what they are asking is probably beyond the ability of Yemen’s political culture to enact. Politics is the art of the possible, and if the goal is to get Saleh and his cronies out of power, the best way to do it is to compromise on the immunity question. No doubt Saleh deserves a war criminal’s death — but at the expense of peace and the avoidance of civil war in Yemen? It’s a tough call but you have to ask yourself what kind of government would emerge from a civil war? Would it be better than the one that would emerge as a result of the GCC agreement?

It may all be a moot point anyway. Saleh may very well try to ride out the storm and stay afloat despite the leaky, rickety boat he will be using to attempt such a feat. He is trying to reverse a hurricane using a Japanese hand fan and his efforts can only end badly — not only for himself but for American interests as well.

By: Rick Moran at 10:19 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/20/2011
DEFICIT GHOST RIDERS

I am at a loss to explain how any bunch that calls themselves “The Reality Based Community” could believe that the president was serious last week when he introduced a plan to increase spending for education, transportation, energy, and health care while purporting to cut $4 trillion of federal spending in 12 years - without messing significantly with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Even raising taxes on “the rich” and cutting an unstated amount from defense doesn’t come close to that 4 trill in savings. Besides, has there ever been a US congress in history that, when presented with more cash as a result of a tax increase, didn’t spend $2 for every dollar in budget cuts? The answer to that question is no. Hence, this titanic disconnect from reality that many on the left continue to experience.

Yglesias:

You have a government set to steadily increase spending on autopilot as a result of demographic change and rising health care costs. And you have a Democratic President urging congress to enact spending cuts. But you have conservative politicians refusing to make a serious effort to reach an agreement out of some blend of taxophobia and fear of giving the President a win. The result, again, whether the right realizes it or not, is a gift to the wing of the Democratic Party that disagrees with Obama about the desirability of enacting spending cuts.

Our deficit problem is not a consequence of profligacy or lack of discipline, says Matthew. Federal spending is on “autopilot” - which must be a liberal wet dream or something - and it is simply a matter of “demographics” that’s the cause of our budget woes. In this scenario, Yglesias and other liberals posit deficit ghost riders - sort of like the Furies but without the redeeming characteristic of being figments of the classical Greek imagination - circling high above the capitol, putting lawmakers to sleep as the federal budget spins wildly out of control, whispering in their ears that all is well…all is well…

Despite my conservative leanings, like most liberals, the left side of my brain has a deficit of operable neurons, so my math skills leave much to be desired. But even a math-challenged twit like me can see that unless the president plans on increasing taxes even more than he has suggested, and cutting defense spending a lot more than he has let on, or actually attempt to deal with the unsustainable spending on entitlements, 2+2 are not adding up to anything close to 4.

Elise Foley:

“I remain skeptical that the administration will take this effort seriously, especially after it all but ignored its previous debt commission and President Obama had to be dragged kicking and screaming to consider minimal spending cuts for the rest of this fiscal year,” Cantor said in a statement.

“A serious effort to get our fiscal house in order is sorely needed, however, which is why I believe this commission should commence with a clearly defined target and purpose, under a time frame to produce that result — so that it doesn’t end up in the graveyard of previous commissions that failed to improve our nation’s finances.”

At the same time, some Democratic sources said their own party’s picks for the meeting aren’t as credible as they could be. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) only named a total of four appointees instead of eight: Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Assistant Democratic House Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.). But it’s not the numbers that are the problem.

Pelosi’s picks for the talks make the meeting “look silly” because Van Hollen and Clyburn “are just going to do what Pelosi wants, and she’s not interested in compromise,” said a senior Democratic aide. “The picks for this task force all reflect a lack of seriousness.”

Obama called for the bipartisan talks during an April 13th address on fiscal policy and announced that Vice President Joseph Biden would take the lead. During his speech, the president bashed the House GOP budget proposal put forward by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and said he would not accept more tax breaks for the rich at the expense of entitlements. Ryan, who was seated in the audience during the speech, later called Obama’s remarks “excessively partisan.”

The president of the United States has zero interest in seriously cutting either his own budget deficits or sign off on any plan that would address our massive national debt, now at $14.3 trillion. We know this because his proposals in his speech for closing the budget gap don’t even come close to addressing the current $1.6 trillion deficit. They don’t come close to addressing the deficit as far as they eye can see either - a number that is conservatively estimated at $9.3 trillion over the next decade..

Revenues from increased tax rates on the rich are expected to bring in $1 trillion of the $4 trillion Obama says he can bridge that gap but the rest of the president’s proposal is laughable. $2 trillion in unspecified budget cuts - including a giggle-worthy statement that the Secretary of Defense will be able to find hundreds of billions more in cuts beyond the $400 billion in savings over the next decade already proposed. And $1 trillion saved in “interest on the debt.”

That might make it into late night comedy routines soon. Those savings are assuming interest rates will stay at or near 0%. Anyone who has taken a trip to the grocery store recently knows that this will be impossible once inflation begins to heat up. It is much more probable that the part of the budget dedicated to servicing our debt will outstrip Medicaid spending by 2018.

This is the reality of our debt situation:

Over the 10 year budget window, the net annual cost of servicing the federal debt is expected to grow at a 15.8% annualized rate, from $196 billion in 2010 to $928 billion in 2021 (S-1). If this weren’t bad enough, closer analysis reveals that the actual debt servicing costs could be much higher. Absent a string of good fortune (that’s sadly unlikely to materialize), the federal government could be effectively insolvent within the decade – as debt levels and servicing costs exceed financial capacity.

In the Administration’s baseline estimate, the public debt will rise from 62.2% of GDP in 2010 ($9 trillion) to 77% of GDP in 2021 ($18.9 trillion). Amazingly, this doubling of the national debt and 23% increase in the debt to GDP ratio relies on very favorable assumptions about the directions of interest rates. Over this period, the effective interest rate implied by the ratio of net interest expense to public debt is 3.5%. This happens to be the average for the 5-year constant maturity Treasury rate over the past 10 years. However, the average 5-year borrowing cost for the 10 years ending in January 2000 was 6.3%, while the average 5-year borrowing cost for the 10 years ending in 1990 was 10.4%. Stress testing the President’s budget against these different interest rate assumptions reveals that public debt dynamics could trigger federal insolvency in relatively short order.

Republicans are treating the proposed “commission” with as much seriousness as the president showed in announcing it. Obama’s savaging the GOP in that speech while piously proclaiming his desire to work together to solve the deficit problem was easily one of the most cynical political ploys in my lifetime. He will demagogue the deficit issue from now until November and, given the Punch and Judy GOP field of candidates to face him, it is likely he will win a second term.

But then where will we be? A couple of trillion more in the hole with still no chance to come to an agreement that would meaningfully address the deficit. Obama has chosen political expediency over the health and happiness of the American people.

Goddamn him for it.

By: Rick Moran at 11:19 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

4/19/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: YES, ‘PISS CHRIST’ IS PROTECTED SPEECH

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 Jazz Shaw of Hot Air, Monica Showalter of IDB, and Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog. We’ll look at the destruction of Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” the Trump factor, and the GOP field for 2012.

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 5:01 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/18/2011
FOUNDING BROTHER
CATEGORY: History, Media

It has been a tradition at The House to republish my Paul Revere post to honor Revere, Longfellow, and Patriot’s Day which, as Jules Crittenden points out, is celebrated only in Massachusetts and Maine. According to my site stats, it is the most linked post on this site next to my Katrina Timeline.

I hope you enjoy it.

This post originally appeared April 18, 2005


Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

The image has captured the imagination of American school children for almost 150 years. A lone rider, braving capture at the hands of the British, riding along the narrow country lanes and cobblestone streets of the picturesque towns and villages of New England, shouting out defiance to tyranny, raising the alarm “To every Middlesex village and farm,” his trusty horse carrying him on his ride into legend.

To bad it didn’t quite happen that way.

Longfellow’s poem immortalized Revere’s ride in a way that would never have occurred to the silversmith’s contemporaries. It wasn’t so much that the incident went unnoticed. It’s just that Longfellow took so many liberties with the facts surrounding the event as to obscure the real story of that night and by so doing, overshadow the real accomplishments of one of the more interesting characters in the entire revolution.

Let’s forgive Longfellow his myth making. The poet was, after all, using the ride to illustrate American themes - something almost unheard of in literature until that time. Along with his other great narrative poem Hiawatha, Longfellow has been credited with introducing the rest of the world to truly American motifs and myths. Paul Revere’s Ride, while historically inaccurate, nevertheless conveys the breathless spirit of resistance of the colonists to British rule.

Revere himself joined that resistance early on. Born in 1734, Revere has been described as a silversmith. This does him an injustice. He was much more the artist than the craftsman. His involvement in the earliest stages of the revolution was a consequence of his friendship with that scowling propagandist Sam Adams. He was a prominent member of the “Committee of Safety” that was formed to protect the rights of Massachusetts citizens against threats to liberty, both real and imagined, of the colonial government. And he was one of the grand jurors who, in 1774 refused to serve after the British Parliament made the justices independent of the people by having the colonial governor pay the salaries of the judges.

Sam Adams knew a good thing when he saw it and used Revere’s talents as an artist to further the cause of rebellion. He urged Revere to engrave several inflammatory caricatures of British politicians that Adams promptly had copied and distributed. Following the Boston Massacre in 1770, Revere engraved a seditious remembrance of that event that was also widely disseminated. This use of art in the cause of revolution wasn’t necessarily new, but it showed just how imaginative Adams could be.

Revere and Adams were also behind one of the most shocking events of the revolution, the Boston Tea Party. Adams was trying to provoke the British government and succeeded beyond his wildest imaginings. England closed the port of Boston and bivouacked troops in the city.

Which brings us to Revere’s ride. Or, more accurately, the part that Revere played on that momentous night. The redcoats decided that it was prudent to both capture the more radical elements of the Sons of Liberty, the group started by Adams and John Hancock as an adjunct to the colonial militia, as well as disarm the populace. To that end they sent two company’s of elite Grenadiers into the countryside to arrest Hancock, Adams, and Joseph Warren for treason as well as seize the cannon and powder of the local militia being stored at Concord.

Revere was a member of a group known as the North End Mechanics who patrolled the streets of Boston, keeping an eye on British military activity. When it became clear the British were ready to march, Revere borrowed a horse and rode off from Charlestown to Lexington where Adams and Co. were staying. Duly warned, the trio of patriots made ready to flee. Before going, Warren sent both Revere and another friend of Adams’, William Dawes, on the ride that would echo down through the ages. They left Lexington around midnight and were joined by another patriot Samuel Prescott. Making their way to Concord, the three men alerted the farms and tiny villages along the way with the news that the red coats were on the march.

Around 1:00 AM, the little group ran into a road block manned by British regulars who had been told to stop the colonists from trying to communicate with one another. Revere was captured while Dawes and Prescott got away. Prescott eventually made it to Concord and alerted the militia there.

Revere was extremely cooperative with his captors. He told them that he had already warned Hancock and his friends and that 500 militia men were assembling at that moment to resist the British. That last part was pure bluff but the regulars didn’t know that. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, the British soldiers decided to return to barracks, releasing Revere around 3:00 AM.

But what about the lanterns in the North Church, the famous “One if by land, two if by sea?” Revere had actually asked a friend to be ready to do that to warn patriots on the other side of the river in Charlestown. By the time those lanterns were hung, Revere was gone. While he probably saw them, he didn’t need to know how the British were coming, just that they were on their way.

What all this goes to show is that, while the myth may be more dramatic than what actually happened, the reality of what was going on that fateful night is certainly interesting enough. Thanks to Revere, his friends avoided the gallows for they most certainly would have been convicted of treason. And given what happened the following day in Lexington and Concord, the work done by Revere, Dawson, and Prescott to arouse the countryside contributed in no small way to events that became known as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

Revere’s participation in the revolution was by no means over. He was commissioned a Major of infantry in the Massachusetts militia in April 1776; was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of artillery in November; was stationed at Castle William, defending Boston harbor, and finally received command of this fort. He served in an expedition to Rhode Island in 1778, and in the following year participated in the disastrous Penobscot Expedition. Upon his return from that fiasco, he was court martialed for failing to obey orders. The charges were trumped up by his commanding officer, trying to absolve himself of blame for the military disaster that cost of the lives of 500 men and 43 ships. Revere was acquitted.

After the war, Revere proved himself a canny businessman and bold entrepreneur. He took advantage of the religious revival sweeping the country after the revolution by manufacturing church bells, a business that made him wealthy. He also pioneered the production of copper plating in America and supplied the young country’s navy with copper spikes for the planking. In effect, he became one of the first successful industrialists in American history.

Where do we place Revere in the pantheon of American heroes? While not a Founding Father in that he didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence or serve in Congress, Revere played a very large role in acting as “the sharp end of the stick” the Founders sought to beat the British with. While not a part of some of the more unruly elements that took part in the Boston Massacre and the Tea Party, he and his friend Sam Adams were not above using those elements to further the cause of revolution, a goal for which he worked more than a decade to achieve. In that respect, perhaps we can call him a “Founding Brother.”

As we celebrate the 230th anniversary of his ride into history (as well as the poem that immortalized it), it’s good to remember that Revere was the quintessential American soul; an artist whose talents and ardent support for the cause of American liberty defined a generation of patriots who, to this day, we stand back and look on in awe, marveling at their accomplishments.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

By: Rick Moran at 9:28 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

THE MISGUIDED TENURE OF SUSAN RICE

We expect UN ambassadors to promote, well, the UN. But recent testimony by Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reveals someone so in thrall to the idea of internationalism and collective security, that her own country’s interests take second place - if they are addressed at all.

John Bolton was rightly criticized, I think, for being too much of a homer when it came to his UN duties. I thought he was on the right track as far as reforming the UN Secretariat which is a corrupt swamp of interlocking offices, duplicate efforts, and crooked employees (including, in the case of Kofi Annan, the SecGen himself). But constant confrontation is not the way to get things done at Turtle Bay.

The opposite of Bolton is Rice, as I show in my latest article at FrontPage.com:

Rice’s statements before the committee on the UN’s massively hypocritical selections for the Human Rights Council can only be termed bizarre. The HRC features such stellar advocates for human rights as Angola, China, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia — a rogue’s gallery of thuggish states. After acknowledging that it is difficult to find nations that have good human rights records to serve on the council, Rice seemed proud of the fact that US opposition had kept Iran off the HRC. She chalked that “success” up to the fact that the United States had agreed to join the HRC rather than refuse to participate in such a farce.

What Rice didn’t mention was that in order to get Iran to withdraw its application for membership on the HRC, Washington agreed not to raise a stink when the fundamentalist Islamic Republic that mandates stoning women for adultery wanted to join the Commission on the Status of Women. With no objection from the US, Iran was duly elected to the commission.

Instead of Iran joining the HRC, Libya got the slot. How this can be termed a “success” takes pretzel-like logic — something Rice appears to excel at.

Consider her take on the UN’s efforts to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon. She testified that “the U.N. helps halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons” and that “strong and sustained U.N. action” against states that defy proliferation restrictions means that those countries will face “significant consequences.”

The United Nations has never halted the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, India, Israel, China, and soon Iran can all attest. The UN’s milquetoast sanctions against Iran have only spurred the mullahs to greater efforts in their quest for the bomb while North Korea moved easily into the nuclear club with UN cameras recording the whole thing. It beggars belief that Rice could try and make a case for United Nations effectiveness in this area, but for internationalists, the effort and intent is what is celebrated, not results.

Rice’s thinking on terrorism has also heavily influenced administration policy. In 1996, she advised President Clinton not to accept Sudan’s offer to turn over Osama Bin Laden because Sudan’s human rights record was so wretched, she thought we shouldn’t have anything to do with them.

Her steadfast belief that poverty, not radical Islamist ideology, is responsible for terrorism has upended 20 years of American anti-terrorism policy. Rice is the inspiration behind the Obama administration’s de-emphasizing military action against terrorists, while looking for ways to address the “root causes” of the violence. She co-authored an academic article in 2005 that postulated that terrorism was “a threat borne of both oppression and deprivation.” This is a fantastical notion when one considers that there are many poor countries in the world such as Bangladesh and Niger that produce few, if any, suicide bombers while the relatively wealthy nation of Saudi Arabia is a hot bed of extremism.

There have been two excellent US United Nations ambassadors in my lifetime; Adlai Stevenson and Jean Kirkpatrick. Both shared realistic appraisals of the UN and what could be accomplished - not much, but the world body was a useful forum for some things. Both never lost sight that they were representing America, not allowing themselves to become lost in the idealistic nonsense that people like Andy Young or Susan Rice embrace. Both were brilliant, prickly, beloved by their staffs, and a strong counter to America’s foes.

Kennedy didn’t think much of Stevenson until the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the old Illinois politician laid a trap for the Russian Ambassador Zorin, allowing him to hang himself with denials that missiles were in Cuba and then dramatically producing photographic proof that they were. That moment swung world opinion in our favor, as ably demonstrated in the film Thirteen Days (RFK’s memoir of the missile crisis not very faithfully brought to the screen). This increased pressure on Krushchev might have tipped the balance in favor of the US and a deal was reached where we removed our missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Russians pulling theirs from Cuba.

As for Kirkpatrick, she emerged as one of the architects of Reagan’s foreign policy. Reagan enjoyed the company of the down to earth ambassador, and leaned heavily on her expertise when the time was right for rapproachment with the Soviets.

Rice doesn’t come close to those giants.

By: Rick Moran at 8:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/15/2011
TRUMP: MAKING IT RESPECTABLE TO BE A RIGHT WING NUT

You might think it ironic that a website that calls itself “Right Wing Nuthouse” would be accusing Donald Trump and his Birther crusade of enabling, well…right wing nuts.

You would be right. It is ironic, although that shouldn’t detract from my excellent article up at PJ Media this morning.

A sample:

There’s no more hiding for Republicans. The wolf is no longer at the door. He has actually been invited in for tea and crumpets and is now sitting primly in the parlor chatting amiably while he plots mayhem and destruction for the party that once stood for prudence and probity.

Now it is in danger of standing for paranoid kookiness. As responsible adults in the party wring their hands in worry and frustration, a smiling Donald Trump unleashes the crazies, bringing them into the light and showering them with respectability dust. The Hofstadter Brigade of birthers, conspiracists, racists, and born again Birchers — people who give right wing wackos a bad name — have been given permission by at least one adult to go roll around in the mud and mess themselves without having to clean up before dinner. Giving this crew their heads by joining them in their fantasies is either the most irresponsible move ever made by a serious candidate for president, or a brilliant stroke of self-promotion that will pay big dividends for Trump when all the excitement about his candidacy dies down.

I suspect the latter. Trump, for all his bluster, can’t seriously believe that the certification of live birth issued by the Obama campaign in 2008 and confirmed as authentic by the state of Hawaii is a forgery, or was planted by Communists, or was altered in some way. There is not one scintilla of evidence for any of those possibilities — at least, evidence that would be accepted by someone with more than two brain cells working.

If altered or a forgery, then a conspiracy of gigantic proportions involving many members of the government of Hawaii has been hidden from all of us, except those few who have been vouchsafed the ability to see what isn’t there. Members of the conspiracy that has aided Obama would include former Republican Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle and former Republican Lt. Governor James Aiona. Why they would want to hide the origins of Obama’s birth can only be guessed at. Maybe they’re closet commies or something.

The fact that 41% of Republicans around the country believe this twaddle makes me want to go hide under a rock and not come out until sanity returns to the GOP. What a remarkable testament to stupidity and paranoia in politics.

Not that any birthers are lurking out there (and even if they were they wouldn’t listen), but in order to question Obama’s origins, you have to completely ignore the authenticated certificate of live birth. There’s just no way around it - unless you believe that a monstrous conspiracy involving the state of Hawaii is at work. So birthers get even more convoluted in their fantasies only by dismissing the COLB as a forgery - after the state of Hawaii authenticated it.The only place to go after that is that the COLB was “planted” by someone - a contention for which there is zero evidence and has a zero possibility of being true in the first place.

Does anyone not see the disconnect here? Richard Hofstadter explained that the reason these paranoids continue to believe nonsense can be found in their sourcing. Ask a birther to prove a contention - say, there is no embossed seal on the COLB - and they will come back with “evidence…supplied by another birther! No independent, unbiased authority. No corroborated evidence. In fact, those sources debunk the mytht of no embossed seal. Just simple minded churning of rumor, innuendo, fantasy, and outright lies all between the same group of nut cases who got their original “theories” from each other in the first place!

This is what I mean when I bemoan the fact that 40% of the GOP believing this crap disqualifies the party from leadership. Rejecting, indeed becoming hostile, to reason, logic, and the truth that is right in front of their noses should cause the American people to reject any representative of such a party - especially for president.

And Trump has made it all possible. The crazies were pretty well marginalized until Trump came along and gave them respectability. Now they have a new lease on life and are crawling out of the woodwork, happy to have a celebrity who is taken seriously in some quarters on their side of the issue.

Trump gets mad when someone says he has no chance of winning. Alright, you can’t win, Donald. As long as you continue to play with the fringe, you will be rejected by the majority of Republicans - and Americans - who find your dalliance with the paranoid right a disqualifying factor in their judgment as to whether or not you should be president.

Thank God for that.

By: Rick Moran at 7:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/14/2011
OBAMA’S DEMAGOGY ON THE DEFICIT

I have an article up at FrontPage.com critiquing the president’s speech from yesterday. Needless to say, we were not amused.

As sample:

As for his own plan, the president proposed massive tax increases on the “rich,” cuts in defense spending, Medicare and Medicaid “reform,” and closing tax loopholes, while continuing to “invest” in clean energy, education, medical research, and transportation. He would leave Medicare and Medicaid relatively untouched, while claiming that his plan would cut $4 trillion over the next 12 years.

Yet, the president offered no specifics on the cuts he was advocating except broad, unrealistic dollar amounts. For example, the president believes we can realize budget savings by cutting $1 trillion from interest payments on the debt over the next 12 years. But interest rates are near zero now, and it is highly unlikely that they will remain that low for the next 12 years, especially given the fact that inflation is rearing its head. Some analysts are predicting debt service payments to rise from its current $196 billion to a whopping $800 billion by 2016 as a result of rising interest rates.

The president’s Medicare proposal is equally unclear. Obama proposed that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board can keep costs down. The president said he would do this by “chang[ing] the way we pay for health care — not by the procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results.” Obama clearly believes he can slow the growth of Medicare by strengthening the advisory board, which will recommend the best ways to reduce spending while still providing seniors with adequate care. The president claims that these measures will save an additional $500 billion by 2023. If this number is as real as his $1 trillion in Medicare “savings” to come out of Obamacare - savings that are dubious in the extreme - the result will be little or nothing done about an entitlement program that is going broke and could sink the US economy by itself eventually.

Obama offered no specific cuts in defense beyond savings that would occur in winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a promise to look into more cuts. He will do this by conducting a “fundamental review” of our “role in a changing world” and examine our mission and capabilities. Practically speaking, he will look to reducing our readiness, which is the easiest and least painful part of the military budget to cut, but the one which is the most dangerous to skimp on.

The president’s plan was claimed to have been based loosely on the report issued by his Deficit Reduction Commission, which recommended broad cuts in government programs and smaller tax increases. Both parties rejected the findings of the commission as unrealistic and unworkable.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the president seems to believe he is scarcely culpably for the deficit crisis himself. Obama’s long, misleading narrative on how the deficit was created at the beginning of his Wednesday speech, completely absolved him of any responsibility for the $4.5 trillion in debt his administration has piled on in just two years. At times, it was a surreal performance, as the president talked about problems with the deficit as if his administration’s increase of nearly 40% in federal spending never happened. He placed the entire blame for our fiscal woes on his predecessor - something he has been doing since he was sworn in.

Obama had no intention of making this speech a statement of policy. It was a red meat, brutally partisan, dishonest, misleading hash that “poisoned the well” as Paul Ryan remarked, for any kind of bi-partisan negotiations. Extraordinarily irresponsible in its tenor and intent, one could almost hear his liberal base screaming “Yes! Hit ‘em again!”

Senior editor at the Atlantic Clive Crook:

My instant unguarded reaction, in fact, was to find it not just weak but pitiful. I honestly wondered why he bothered.

There was no sign of anything worth calling a plan to curb borrowing faster than in the budget. He offered no more than a list of headings under which $4 trillion of deficit reduction (including the $2 trillion already in his budget) might be found–domestic non-security spending, defense, health costs, and tax reform. Fine, sure. But what he said was devoid of detail. He spent more of his time stressing what he would not agree to than describing clear proposals of his own.

His rebuttal of the Ryan plan was all very well–I agree it’s no good–but the administration still lacks a rival plan. That, surely, is what this speech had to provide, or at least point to, if it was going to be worth giving in the first place. His criticisms of Ryan and the Republicans need no restating. And did the country need another defense of public investment in clean energy and the American social contract? It wanted to be told how fiscal policy is going to be mended: if not by the Ryan plan, with its many grave defects, then how?

Good question. The answer is, as my radio guests all agreed on Tuesday night, was that serious reform will only come when we have already been pushed over the precipice and are on the way to disaster. Only when fixing things won’t do a bit of good will the Washington establishment bestir itself and act.

This point will probably be reached sooner than any of us can imagine. It may come as a result of service on the debt skyrocketing to the point that we won’t be able to fund much of anything else. Or some other time bomb - pensions, another financial crisis, global depression - goes off and we are left staring at fiscal Armageddon. Maybe the Chinese will simply decide we aren’t worth the trouble and take the hit by dumping their US Treasuries.

The point being, there are so many land mines out there, it is inevitable that we’re going to step on one eventually. God help us when we do.

By: Rick Moran at 11:13 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)