Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blagojevich, FrontPage.Com, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:25 am

My piece on Blago’s conviction yesterday is up at Frontpage.com.

A sample:

Blagojevich is the 4th governor since 1973 to be convicted of a felony. The state has also seen an incredible run of other politicians and state officials being marched off to jail. At least 79 Illinois public officials have been convicted of wrongdoing since 1972, including now 4 governors, two other state officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, one mayor, three Chicago city officials, 27 Chicago aldermen, 19 Cook County judges, and seven other Cook County officials.

The unifying factor in the overwhelming majority of these cases was petty, personal monetary aggrandizement. Payoffs to judges for lenient sentences or even acquittals, kickbacks to aldermen, illegal campaign contributions, cash in shoeboxes, “pay to play” payoffs, contracts to cronies — the endless, ridiculous, maddening, depressing litany of abuses Illinois taxpayers have had to endure for most of the 20th century and beyond have made the state a laughingstock.

So it was with the Blagojevich caper. This was the second trial of the former governor in less than a year. The first trial ended ignominiously for the prosecution when the jury could come to an agreement on only 1 of 25 counts in the indictment, convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI. A review of that trial by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office discovered that the jurors were confused by the numerous threads of wrongdoing by Blagojevich, including a prosecutorial effort to convict the former governor on several counts of racketeering. Also, Blagojevich’s brother Robert stood trial at the same time on 4 other corruption charges on which the jury could not agree.

For the second trial, the prosecutors streamlined the charges, concentrating on the “pay for play” schemes of Blagojevich to sell Obama’s Senate seat in exchange for either a cabinet post in the president’s administration, or hefty campaign contributions from other players. They also declined to retry Robert Blagojevich and dropped the racketeering complaints altogether.

Unlike his trial last summer, Blagojevich took the stand in his own defense. For seven dramatic days, Blagojevich held the court spellbound as he mounted a spirited defense of his actions in the Obama Senate seat controversy. He endured 3 days of grilling by Assistant US Attorney Reid Schar, who questioned his honesty, his motives, and his character.

The governor’s defense — that he was only doing what all other politicians do in the course of their duties — fell flat with the jury. What he referred to as “horse trading” turned out to be far more than simple political back-scratching. Secret recordings made by Fitzgerald’s office prove that time and again, Blagojevich discussed either large campaign contributions or a lucrative job offer for himself in exchange for appointing a favored politician to the Senate seat.

I make the point at the end of the piece that Blago is a tragic character:

Blagojevich himself said he was “stunned” by his conviction. Herein lies the real Shakespearean tragedy of the disgraced governor’s life and times. For the classical tragic figures - Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear - it was a combination of their flaws as human beings and their inability to recognize that those flaws would lead to their own destruction, which gave their characters pathos and supplied a sense of impending doom that surrounded them.

For the disgraced ex-governor - arrested, impeached, convicted, tried twice, and now found guilty on 17 counts of political malfeasance and corruption - there will be no second act.

Not being aware that your actions are sowing the seeds of your own destruction - or believing, as Blago did that he was getting away with it — is one of those telling personality traits that reveals a shocking amorality. He really thought he could hold up the newly elected  president of the United States for a cabinet post.

Obama smelled trouble and  he and his staff steered clear of  making direct contact with the sleazy governor. But what does it say about the president that he was still willing to negotiate with Blago using 3rd parties? Recall that Blago was still talking to Obama intermediaries just hours before he was arrested.

They should have cut off any and all contact - even through 3rd parties - when it became clear that Blago was trying to get cash for the senate seat.



Filed under: PJ Media, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:36 am

My latest is up at PJ Media and it looks at the doomed candidacy of Jon Huntsman in the context that his  “government friendly”  views might be his legacy, and that other pragmatic GOP  governors will benefit from his run.

A sample:

Huntsman, like many Republican governors, has gotten a reputation as an executive who gets things done by building consensus, engaging in careful negotiations, and presenting a non-ideological governing style that attracts independents and conservative Democrats. On paper, this makes Huntsman a challenger of some note. The theory is that because the Democrats are not going to primary the president, independents and dissatisfied Democrats will vote in Republican primaries in droves, thus moderating the electorate and diluting the impact of Tea Party types.

Many analysts point to New Hampshire as an example because the Granite State has an open primary where Republican party membership is not required to vote in the GOP contest. The early primary states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Michigan all feature such open primaries. Might a center-right candidate build momentum with victories in those early states and move on to capture the nomination?

The reality is a little different. Most open primaries are in southern states where Huntsman’s brand of conservatism wouldn’t go over any better with Democrats than it does with the Republican base. Also, there just aren’t enough open primaries for a Republican candidate to win the nomination. Any realistic path to victory for Huntsman would include winning in closed primary states where he scores poorly against other candidates in the field, and where there is actual resentment against his candidacy from the base of the party.

Huntsman may see himself having a realistic shot at the nomination. But beyond what is shaping up to be largely a media-driven fantasy run, there is the notion that what Huntsman represents — his principles, his governing style, and his government-friendly ideas — may outlast his candidacy and herald a rise in national influence for a new breed of GOP governor.

They are chief executives who have built solid reputations for reform by gaining consensus rather than provoking confrontation. They are less the ideologues than idea men, preferring to work with the opposition when feasible and getting high marks from voters for doing so. Their bottom line is getting the job done, not playing “gotcha” games or scoring wins and losses. It may be more a matter of temperament than intelligence or skill, and they place a premium on competent management of the executive.

Some, like Mitch Daniels  and Mitt Romney, are technocrats. Others, like Scott Walker and Chris Christie, are more confrontational, but get high marks for their political skills. In the end, getting things done trumps ideology and sometimes even partisanship.

Most GOP governors ended up taking stimulus money, of which about $120 billion was earmarked for the states. It is likely that even without a stim bill, that money would have ended up in the hands of the governors anyway, due to the fiscal crisis in most state budgets. Faced with the choice of ideology or pragmatism. most chose the latter. This did not sit well with many national Republicans who hold it against those GOP governors who put the interests of their states over the the political whims of ideologues.

Huntsman may be the epitome of this new class of governor. Daniel Allott summarized the conservative case for Huntsman in Politico:

Predictably, I am getting slammed in the comments. The 25-30% of the GOP that believes competence and pragmatism are not what people want out of government serve up all the idiocies about RINO’s. They just can’t stand the fact that someone like Huntsman agrees with 90% of their agenda but is still somehow weak or squishy on the issues. He’s not loud enough, abrasive enough, and he actually wants to work with all sides to reach an agreement on legislation. What used  to be generally accepted as good governance is now treason. God help us if these jamokes ever do win the White House.

I’m not supporting Huntsman, and I definitely don’t think he has a chance of winning. He is the “anti-Romney” candidate who is hoping that the former Massachusetts governor is knocked out early to clear the way for the real battle; the hard right versus the pragmatists. But Huntsman will never make it that far. Romney will self finance and probably be in the race to the end.



Filed under: FrontPage.Com, Politics — Rick Moran @ 11:25 am

The key in my FrontPage.com article today is: “The notion that it is folly to base important military decisions on how politically popular the move might be, or how much money it will cost, has fallen on deaf ears in the White House.”

The president’s decision was made against the political backdrop of a re-election campaign and a battle in Congress over the deficit. His call to cut another $400 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years, in addition to the $78 billion already slashed by Secretary Gates, will be an easier pill to swallow if the $120 billion a year we are currently spending on the Afghanistan war alone were to be substantially reduced. The cost of the war in Afghanistan surpassed spending for the Iraq war for the first time in 2010 after money earmarked for Afghanistan skyrocketed when Obama took office.

But clearly, the overriding reason for the faster pace of withdrawal than that recommended by military commanders is due to the genuine war weariness of the American people, and the political calculation that bringing the troops home at an accelerated pace will help the president win votes in 2012. A Pew poll out this week showed that 56% of Americans favored bring the troops home “as soon as possible.” This reflects a 16-point rise in that number since June of 2010. A similar rise in support for a quick withdrawal was seen in a CBS poll from earlier this month where 64% of respondents were in favor of the troops leaving Afghanistan.

The president’s Republican rivals have responded cautiously, arguing that any withdrawal must be measured against the situation on the ground. But it is unlikely they will criticize the president too heavily for doing essentially what most of them have been arguing for these past months on the campaign trail.

There were scattered voices of opposition. Senator Lindsey Graham said, “We’ve undercut a strategy that was working. I think the 10,000 troops leaving this year is going to make this fighting season more difficult.” Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty broke with most of his fellow Oval Office aspirants, saying, “When America goes to war, America needs to win. We need to close out the war successfully.” Pawlenty urged the president to follow the advice of General Petreaus and “get those [Afghanistan] security forces built up where they can pick up the slack as we draw down.”

And House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers bluntly accused the president of making the withdrawals because of politics. “It seems the President is trying to find a political solution with a military component to it, when it needs to be the other way around,” wrote Rogers.

There are many reasons to start withdrawing from Afghanistan. Political expediency is the worst and budget considerations is close behind.

It isn’t that two more summers - the time the military wanted - will make a big difference in the field. But by keeping the Taliban at bay while the Afghan army is give a small chance to improve enough to stand up to them when we are gone seems the least we can do to justify the sacrifice of blood and treasure.



Filed under: The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 5:26 pm

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 Doug Mataconis of Below the Beltway, Monica Showalter of IDB, and Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s blog. We’ll discuss Jon Huntsman and the GOP establishment, Obama’s Afghan pullout plan, and ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious.

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


Filed under: Decision 2012, FrontPage.Com, Politics, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 8:44 am

Is it a good idea to negotiate with the Taliban?

I address this question in my latest column at FPM:

Ultimately, the question of leaving Afghanistan precipitously comes up when discussing the wisdom of talking to implacable enemies whose fanatical hatred of Americans would prevent them from compromising. The fact is, the army and police forces we are training to take over when all American combat troops are supposed to leave in 2014 are nowhere near ready, and have demonstrated little stomach so far to engage the Taliban in the areas assigned to them.

This is why the initial draw-down of US forces should be minimal, as the Pentagon is recommending. The president is set to announce his decision on Wednesday, but the pace of withdrawal would ideally hinge on the success – or failure – of negotiations with the Taliban. But the political pressure coming from even his own party to speed the withdrawal is intense, making any measured actions by the president problematic.

But there is a case to be made that it is far too soon to be pulling out of Afghanistan — negotiations or not. Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, writing in the Weekly Standard, make the point that if the ultimate goal of the war is to defeat not just the Taliban, but al-Qaeda as well, we must continue a high level of pressure on the Taliban in order to see our counter-insurgency strategy in Pakistan succeed:

Moreover, al-Qaeda is not finished because of bin Laden’s death. Senior leaders continue to live and work in Pakistan, coordinating operations with other al-Qaeda franchises around the world to attack Americans and America. What is the strategy for finishing this fight if we abandon Afghanistan prematurely or put progress toward stabilizing that country at risk?

The Kagans discern a connection between fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and destroying al-Qaeda in Pakistan. “Any rationalization that relies on separating those two undertakings is, in fact, misinformed and dangerous.” There is a symbiotic relationship that, if broken by a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, would make our counter-insurgency efforts in Pakistan useless.

But political considerations appear to be the driving force in our attempts to negotiate with the Taliban. And there doesn’t seem to be any stomach in the administration – or on the Hill – for much else.



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 10:19 am


Another oldie but goodie. This may be the most personal post I ever wrote for this site.

Originally published on June 16, 2007.


It’s Fathers Day again. Another timely reminder that you’ve been in the ground 25 years and I’m still here. Not only that, I get to sit and listen to everyone talking about their fathers - what they’re going to be doing with them, what present they got them. Not that I’m resentful, mind you. It’s just sometimes very hard to take when I see the rest of the world getting to enjoy the company of their fathers and here I am stuck with this imaginary conversation. I guess in 53 years if you haven’t learned that life isn’t fair (something you said many times) then you are destined to be unhappy and discontented. So I suppose I’ll have to make do with this little literary phantasm.

Would that it weren’t so.

So anyway…here I am. What do you think? Yeah, put on a few pounds. Come to think of it, I’m starting to look a lot like you when you were this age. I suppose that’s the destiny of all sons. I see fathers and their older sons together today and the resemblance is there for sure. Is it nature’s way of reminding us where we came from? If you could see your seven sons lined up in a row, most of us would remind you of yourself in some way. I hope that would give you some satisfaction.

As for the rest… Well? I’m waiting. Cat got your tongue? Okay, let me start.

I’ll admit I’ve been a bit of a disappointment. Whatever it is you wanted for me in life (outside of the ubiquitous “be happy”) never quite materialized. I had my chances. But things got kind of…complicated along the way. Moreso than the others, the skein of my life has run pretty much against the grain. Wherever success or happiness lurked, I always seemed to find a way to pass them by. A career lost, a bad marriage, and the “Irish sickness” - 25 years can pass pretty quickly when there are large parts you don’t remember.

But things are better now as you can see. Amazing what a good woman can do for you, eh? And you should know. You had the best. We like to deny it but women are right when they say we’re all like little boys. There’s a part of us that wants to be cared for, that needs the nurturing love that only a woman can give. Oh, we make a big deal of resisting it - especially these days when we worry such thoughts are considered “incorrect.” But then you reach a certain age and you just don’t give a damn what others say. You know what you can give her and what she can give you and you base your relationship on the beauty of the symbiotic nature of love; a mystical beholdeness to each other that goes beyond the physical and enters the realm of the poets - a spiritual linking of minds and hearts that is truly the only valuable you own.

You know all of this, of course. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t experience yourself. But you were lucky enough to find it early in your life. I guess better late than never for me.

I wonder what you would think of my new career - if you can call writing a career. You always thought that writing was a calling, almost like the priesthood. It’s as fulfilling as anything I’ve ever done and too much fun to be called work. Sometimes, I get a chuckle imagining you reading some of the stuff I write. As an FDR liberal, I can just see your head shaking at some of my more conservative diatribes. No matter. You would have critiqued my stuff not for the political content but rather the stylistic aspects of a particular piece and cogency of my arguments. I bet you would have kept me on my toes.

But of course, despite your classically liberal politics, I have you to thank for my conservative ideological bent. All those children and I was the only one who ended up on the right side of the fence. And you had me pegged as a righty almost before I myself realized it when you suggested I read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind shortly after I graduated from college. You knew exactly what would happen, didn’t you? Kirk’s references to Edmund Burke and other classical thinkers sent me off on an intellectual quest to find myself. I discovered that I agreed with the ideas espoused by conservative giants like Hayek, Eliot, Strauss, and Kristol. But you knew that. And you also knew that the love of learning and books that you instilled in all of us would carry me to my own “undiscovered country” of new ideas and different politics.

I bet that gave you a secret thrill, though. The idea that one of your brood would break with your politics validated your ideas on how to raise children; give them the freedom to discover the world on their own, guiding them where necessary but never dictating what they should think. Your library had books from every conceivable ideological point of view. From Karl Marx to Nietzsche, to Bishop Sheen. Each of us arrived at our politics in our own way, taking our own journeys of self exploration. And we were never lacking for encouragement or advice from you.

It’s amazing how much I think of you even though you’ve been gone these many years. I have Sir George Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony in Mahler’s 1st on one of my Rhapsody playlists and every time it comes on, it brings back a flood of memories of attending the Symphony with you and mother - after spending the afternoon in South Bend watching a Notre Dame football game. I can smell the leaves burning, the memory of those fall days are so powerful.

There are other reminders too - much too private and personal to put in this article. But ultimately, it comes down to this; you’ve never left me. If there is one thing I could say to comfort you wherever you are it is that despite the fact you have been gone almost half my life, your presence still fills my mind. The memories are important. But beyond memory, beyond the fading images on crumpled photographs, beyond the bleary, misty visage I see when I close my eyes, there is you. In my heart and soul. Until I draw my last breath on this earth.

And that, my dear daddy, is a comfort to me.



Filed under: FrontPage.Com, PJ Media, Politics — Rick Moran @ 7:45 am

I have two recent articles on the War Powers Act battle in Congress and what’s happening in Libya with NATO and the hapless rebels fighting Gaddafi.

From PJ Media on Thursday, I look at the president’s arrogance in declining to ask congress for authorization to go to war in Libya:

A bi-partisan group of House members led by Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Walter Jones (R-NC) has filed suit in federal court claiming the administration is in violation of the War Powers Act. Kucinich said: “With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies”

Speaker John Boehner didn’t go that far, but still registered his disgust with the administration’s non-cooperation in explaining the U.S. mission in Libya by sending a letter to the White House on Tuesday calling on the president to “faithfully comply with the War Powers Resolution and the requests made by the House of Representatives, and that you will use your unique authority as our President to engage the American people regarding our mission in Libya.”

On June 4th, the House requested that the administration answer 21 questions in a resolution on Libya that sought clarification on the war, “including its goals and objectives, costs and justification for not seeking congressional authorization.” The measure included a deadline of 14 days for the president to respond.

In his Tuesday letter to the White House, Boehner told the president that he was out of time:

“Given the mission you have ordered to the U.S. Armed Forces with respect to Libya and the text of the War Powers Resolution, the House is left to conclude that you have made one of two determinations: either you have concluded the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the mission in Libya, or you have determined the War Powers Resolution is contrary to the Constitution,” Mr. Boehner wrote. “The House, and the American people whom we represent, deserve to know the determination you have made.”

Given the response of Mr. Koh, it would appear that the president does not believe that firing missiles from drones, manning a blockade line at sea, refueling NATO combat aircraft, and flying sorties that enforce the “no fly zone” in Libya can be defined as American forces engaging in “hostilities” — at least for the purpose of a work-around for the War Powers Act.

My second piece is published at FrontPage.com and is an update on what is going on in Libya and how the NATO alliance is reaching the end of its resources to fight the war:

The rebels’ claim of better coordination and communication is the result of them being equipped with satellite phones and more sophisticated radios — presumably gifts of “non-lethal aid” from the alliance. With much of Libya’s communications infrastructure destroyed, the phones and radios can potentially give the rebels an advantage over government forces.

Aside from humanitarian supplies and such non-lethal aid, NATO can do little to augment what the rebels can scrounge from captured government supplies, or make on their own. In fact, their own resources are being strained to near breaking. They are becoming more dependent on the United States for precision guided munitions and even their stockpile of conventional bombs is running low.

Then there is the strain on the national budgets of Britain and France. The war will cost Britain $1.5 billion by September at a time when the government of David Cameron is making large cuts in social service programs. And while the war flies largely below the media radar — and will probably continue to do so as long as there are few casualties — there is the real possibility that opposition to the conflict will manifest itself in both countries unless a victory can be achieved soon.

These strains have also affected the alliance as a whole. There is widespread agreement among both analysts and military experts within NATO that there is a crisis of resources largely because of a lack of participation in combat operations from several alliance nations that are perfectly capable of contributing but are refusing to do so. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave a withering critique of this lack of support in his speech in Brussels recently. There have also been warnings from the naval chiefs of Great Britain and France that they will not be able to sustain the same level of commitment to the operation unless the conflict can be ended before the end of the year.

As for the Boehner-Obama dust up, Obama wins hands down. There is no way the Kucinich suit has a prayer of succeeding and the speaker’s threat to cut off funding for the war is an empty one. He would need to get such a measure through the Democratic senate and have Obama sign it.

Obama will be able to go on his merry way in Libya - perhaps leading us off a cliff if, as is very possible, ground troops will have to be committed to overthrow Gaddafi. Expect the US role to grow in the coming weeks and months as Europe runs out of bombs and can’t afford to continue operations at the level they are currently being conducted.

Not that anyone would notice…



Filed under: The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 4:56 pm

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 and Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, and Vodkapundit Stephen Green. We’ll discuss last night’s GOP debate as well as Herman Cain’s controversial comments on Muslims.

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


Filed under: History — Rick Moran @ 5:24 am

Out of the nearly 3,000 posts on this blog, this one is definitely a top 10. I would draw your attention to an exchange with my brother Jim in the comments where we talk about the flag as it is portrayed in film and literature. This post first appeared on June 14, 2006.

This article originally appears in The American Thinker


It was the first day at the Battle of Gettysburg and things were not going well for Abe Lincoln’s boys in blue. Robert E. Lee’s Johnny Rebs had arrived on the battlefield almost behind General Oliver Otis Howard’s 11th Corps which panicked the “Dutchmen” and sent them flying towards the town of Gettysburg.

This left General John Reynold’s 1st Corps all alone to face most of the Confederate Army. Surrounded on three sides, the “Black Hats” were taking a terrible beating. In the 143rd Pennsylvania, the color bearer, Sergeant Benjamin Crippin stood in full view of the enemy, waving the flag vigorously, trying to rally the troops to hold their ground and keep fighting.

But the inexorable logic of superior numbers ground down Reynold’s men and eventually, they too broke and ran. As they retreated, Sergeant Crippin, still carrying the flag which now featured 23 bullet holes shredding the precious fabric, turned toward the enemy and in an act of defiance memorialized in legend and statue, shook his fist at the oncoming Rebels, daring his foes to take the flag from him. It is reported he did this several times, even eliciting sympathy from General Ambrose Hill when his troops, enraged at the taunting figure, shot him down in a hail of bullets.

There was no more deadly job in the Union Army than color bearer - and none more honored. Carrying the flag into battle made one an instant target, the enemy believing quite correctly that killing the color bearer would sap the will to fight in their opponents. It became a point of honor for a regiment that if the standard bearer fell, another would immediately pick the fallen flag off the ground and take his place. There was a reverence for the flag then, a feeling of personal responsibility for upholding what it represented. It was a tangible way for these men to express something inexpressible that lived in their breasts and enabled them to march into almost certain death and remain while their comrades fell around them. The flag gave them courage while reminding them of what they were fighting for.

What is it about the flag that brings to the surface such overpowering emotion and devotion? Grown men weep at its passing. And thank God there are still men and women willing to die protecting what it represents. But as a symbol, why does it take up such a large corner of our hearts?

There are so few things that actually unite Americans in a traditional sense that make us a nation. Other countries have hundreds even thousands of years of cultural touchstones and myth that are almost hard wired into their brains to make them a “nation.” The United States on the other hand, is too young for myth making. Instant legends like Davey Crockett or George Custer exist alongside their more unattractive and definitely human historical selves, taking the luster off some of their accomplishments. And other symbols of nationhood found elsewhere like castles or palaces or ancient battlefields are absent here.

For Americans, it is in the flag that we infuse all of our feelings of love and respect for country, for home, for each other. Each of us are reminded of something different as the flag passes. This is what makes it a personal icon, a talisman to be touched and stroked so that the longing in our hearts to belong to something greater than ourselves is fulfilled. The flag is home. And no matter where home might be, we, the most mobile of modern societies, carrying that feeling of home with us in our travels, see the flag as an anchor, a permanent standard representing all the good and decent things in ourselves and our country.

We may be the only nation whose national anthem is actually an ode to a flag. We are all familiar with the story of how Francis Scott Key ended up writing “The Star Spangled Banner,” a poem to commemorate the overpowering emotion he felt upon seeing the flag still flying after a night of horrific bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British during the War of 1812. And we are all too familiar with the first verse of Key’s poem, sung ad nauseum at every opportunity imaginable so that the very moving and heartfelt words are mouthed unconsciously, and the anthem itself butchered into unrecognizabilty by pop stars and celebrities.

Almost never heard are the anthem’s three other verses, extraordinarily descriptive stanzas of the relief and pride felt by the author upon seeing that huge 42′ by 30′ flag waving in the “dawn’s early light.” In the final stanza, Key captures in a few short lines of poetry all the patriotic devotion that many of us feel when we see the flag pass:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n - rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto–”In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

Today is Flag Day. I think it fitting that we honor not only our flag but also the “free men” who “stand between their loved homes and the war’s desolation” around the world, protecting us and reminding us all what the flag truly means - simple, patriotic love for one’s home and country.

This love, shared by tens of millions of Americans, has lately been belittled, sneered at, even thought of as “evil” in some quarters. The flag itself has taken something of a beating in recent decades, used and abused by both commercial enterprises and thoughtless dissidents who shamelessly appropriate the feelings Americans have for our national emblem to sell everything from soap to cars. Or, in the case of the haters of liberty, to deliberately incite rage by burning it. There are even some who wish to supplant the nobility of what the flag represents by injecting all the sins (both real and imagined) committed by American governments over two hundred years into our national symbol in order to mold it into an emblem of shame.

In this, they and all the haters will fail. As long as there are men willing to pick up the standard when it falls, the flag will continue to represent all of the good and noble things about this country, forcing us to wipe a tear from our eye whenever we see it pass, remembering all that it means to be an American.

Please fly a flag today to honor both the emblem itself and all those who have served it in the past and continue to serve it today.



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 10:33 am

We first noticed the rabbit family directly under our living room picture window about 3 weeks ago. The mother had found a natural depression behind our evergreen bushes and created a nice little hooch for her 4 babies. We naturally named the mother Ronnie and the babies Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.

Ronnie had her hands full. The babies emerged from the warren full of piss and vinegar and it was all she could handle to keep the them within a few yards of the hole. She’s a good mother, as rabbits go, I guess, and seemed patient and affectionate in her own way. As all mammalian youngsters, the babies spent most of the day feeding and sleeping with manic periods of activity, usually around dusk.

Now, Streator is not an urban area and the Vermillion River is just a few hundred yards from our front door. What with a plague of woodchucks, mice, voles, moles, gophers, and chipmunks - not to mention baby rabbits - predatory birds stalk my neighborhood like serial killers. The hawk is the most visible, spending his day circling far above and then diving like a Stuka out of the sky to catch some unwary critter. He occasionally alights atop a telephone pole to eat his meal in a leisurely fashion.

The Barn Owls are mostly heard, not seen. We think one lives in the 30 foot evergreen in our front yard. We know he’s out there at night when all three of our cats are crowding around the living room window staring intently at the tree and sniffing furiously. We hear one sometimes, a gentle and barely discernible whooooo coming from somewhere above. We hope he targets the gophers who are making our backyard into an obstacle course of holes.

But the prize predators of the block are the 4 or 5 cats that stalk the land, terrorizing small mammals and pouncing on the careless birds who tarry too long at the neighborhood bird baths. They may be strays or pets that an owner will allow to roam if they caterwaul loud enough so that they are let out to exercise their dormant instincts.

Whether it was a raptor-like bird or a feline assassin, we’ll never know but the other day, we noted with sadness that two of Ronnie’s babies were no longer among the living. Whether they strayed beyond the bushes into the open where sharp eyed and keen eared monsters greeted them, or perhaps the owl discovered the hiding place (owls have incredible ears, able to pinpoint a location from the rustle of a leaf many yards away). Twice since we moved to Streator, we’ve been startled at night when something banged into our picture window. It might have been a bat, but we’re thinking it was the owl swooping down for a meal of bunny rabbit.

Ronnie has now moved her two remaining charges to safer climes. Sue thinks she saw Ronnie back near the wood pile, but no sign of the babies. Meanwhile, our hawk has been joined by a mate, the two of them circling effortlessly above the neighborhood waiting for their quarry to get careless and end up on their varied menu.

It’s nice to forget about politics every once and a while and immerse yourself in the natural rhythms of the planet - living, dying, breeding, and feeding. It’s a cycle of life that is endlessly fascinating despite its elegant simplicity.

The male rabbit - we’ve dubbed him Robert - is hanging around again. No doubt he and Ronnie will sit down to a romantic dinner quite soon and after a suitable courtship, will consummate their relationship and the whole cycle will repeat itself.

Nature is, by itself, the Greatest Show on Earth.

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