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10/25/2011
LET’S HEAR IT FOR EXTREMELY AVERAGE AMERICANS!

If you think that the pointy headed elites and intellectuals in Washington have screwed things up and now it’s time for an “average” American to get a shot at fixing things, there is little doubt that Herman Cain is your man.

The guy oozes averageness. Sure he’s smart and all - about some things. For example, if we ever need a president who knows how to run a pizza parlor, we could do no better than elect Herman Cain to show us. Or, if we ever need a president who’s knowledge of foreign affairs is so blinkingly average that the globe in the oval office will have more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese, Mr. Cain will fill that bill.

Average is as average does. Who cares about excellence when average will do just fine? So what if Cain couldn’t tell you how a bill becomes law, or how the budget process works? He can hire people to show him how government functions. He can hire people to run his foreign policy. He can hire a bunch of people to delve into the nuances and personalities of government. All that stuff is superfluous, right? The important thing is to call Obama a socialist and hit the Democrats hard by calling them names and trying to convince voters that they are evil incarnate.

Meanwhile, it’s about time that us average people got our very own president. Perhaps we might also consider electing a below average president. Why not? About 50% of Americans are below average in intelligence and accomplishments. Don’t they deserve their very own president too?

* * * * * * * *

Of course, I’m exaggerating - a little. Cain is an accomplished business executive who finds himself drowning in the deep end of the political pool. Not his fault. Running for office is nothing like running a business. And a race for the presidency is far removed from being a Federal Reserve board member. Bottom line; Cain’s skill set does not match the job he is seeking. If he were hiring a president of the United States, Cain wouldn’t give someone with his experience and knowledge a second look.

And neither should we.

Walter Shapiro:

Herman Cain’s recent stumbles over substantive issues have a way of making Rick Perry seem like the Stephen Hawking of politics. In the midst of a softball CNN interview last week, he appeared to abandon his no-exceptions anti-abortion stance. The former pizza magnate also said that he hypothetically might swap terrorists held on Guantanamo for an American soldier-and then embarrassingly backtracked during the Las Vegas debate. Asked about his foreign policy orientation on Meet the Press, a baffled Cain replied, “I’m not familiar with the neo-conservative movement.” And listening to Cain constantly struggle to explain why his regressive 9-9-9 plan would not raise taxes for most Americans is a reminder of the punch line of an old joke: “Do you believe me or your own eyes?”

Shapiro’s criticism will no doubt be dismissed out of hand by most conservatives. Not because he is misstating the facts but because of where his column appears - The New Republic (epistemic closure, anyone?).

Shapiro identifies Cain’s strengths - and weaknesses:

Aiding Cain-and potentially defying past election cycles-is the fact that Republican voters are highly skeptical of the media: 72 percent of conservative Republicans and 62 percent of all Republicans believe that there is “a lot” of bias in news coverage, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center. Anger at elected officials is the new normal. It is stunning that seven out of eight voters disapprove of the way that Congress is doing its job. Adding to this mixture is the fact that Republican voters-judging from every poll in this political season-would prefer not to nominate Mitt Romney. But the Anybody But Romney forces keep struggling with that ancient rule of politics and boxing: You can’t beat somebody with nobody.

This volatile combination is what makes the rising and raising Cain poll numbers so worrisome. The first active black candidate to have a remote chance of winning a Republican nomination may be shockingly ill-prepared for the presidency, but Cain is certainly not an extremist out of the Robertson and Buchanan playbooks. He is a cheerful conservative in the Ronald Reagan mold. Actually, Cain resembles Reagan during his GE pitchman phase-a talented speaker with scant experience in the political arena. But Reagan’s strength as a president flowed directly from his later experience of two terms as California governor and two failed presidential races.

Reagan gave what is generally considered the best fundraising speech in modern political history. His nationally televised address asking for cash for the Goldwater campaign brought in a motherlode of money that convinced some powerful California politicos that the Gipper could become governor. They were right and the rest is history.

But if you listen to that speech by Reagan back in 1964, one is struck by how ignorant it was when it came to the workings of government and politics. Reagan had an amateur’s view of politics back then and only after becoming a successful politician himself did the gaps in his knowledge and experience close.

Cain is nowhere near that point and 30 years ago, he would probably have been dismissed as an inexperienced crackpot. It’s not a question of his “averageness” or even his jaw dropping ignorance of vital foreign policy issues that makes his candidacy so troubling. Rather, it is the embrace by those who call themselves “conservative” that should have alarm bells ringing across the right from those who value bedrock conservative principles.

All this talk about dinging the “elites” and trashing the “establishment” comes down to one, very unconservative notion; the idea that people should be judged by their perceived membership in a group rather than examined as an individual, one at a time.

Since when did conservatives start playing identity politics? While we usually ascribe identity politics to matters of race, many conservatives today have expanded the concept to include class, wealth, position, accomplishment, and the extremely subjective notion that just about anyone who disagrees with the rabid base of the movement can be casually tarred with the epithet of “elitist” or “establishmentarian.” It is mindbogglingly stupid - no other way to portray it.

Oppose Mitt Romney because he is a shameless flip flopper. Oppose him because he is not a good conservative. Oppose him because you think that Romneycare should disqualify him from being nominated.

But don’t oppose him because you think he represents some kind of nebulous enemy you have designated as “elite.” And don’t go blaming the media, or Democratic dirty tricks, or anyone or anything else if the GOP nominates Herman Cain and, as he should, gets slaughtered by the most unpopular president in 30 years.

By: Rick Moran at 10:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

Shouldn’t a ‘Mass Movement’ Have Like, You Know, Mass?
CATEGORY: Politics

Police from 10 different agencies descended on the park across from city hall in Oakland and arrested dozens of campers belonging to the local OWS movement.

Now why on earth would they want to break up the party?

SFGate:

Officials initially waived city laws that ban camping and allowed the occupation of the plaza. But since Thursday, the city has issued of series of orders for protesters to vacate the area, citing concerns about fire hazards, sanitation issues, graffiti, drug use and violence.

Officials said protesters had plugged power cords into city utility poles and had denied access to emergency responders who needed to get into the plaza. The city was also alarmed by the activists’ decision to try to police themselves with a volunteer security team.

Protesters had vowed to resist eviction and protect an encampment of about 150 tents, where pathways made of wooden pallets connected a kitchen, a garden, a medical station and an area for children to play.

For more than an hour before the police moved in, several hundred people appeared ready to defend the camp, placing Dumpsters, boards, pallets and even metal police-style barricades around the plaza as blockades.

After the mass arrests, protesters vowed to return.

The Oakland protestors shouldn’t worry so much. They have been granted immortality by Zombie who has published more than 60 photos of their wild and wacky world.

This morning at Memeorandum, there are 5 articles on OWS and its satellite protests around the country. On any given day there are 10 or more. The amount of coverage this “movement” is receiving is extraordinary by any measurement.

So where are all the protestors? Shouldn’t a “mass movement” have like, you know, mass?

“Dozens” of protestors removed from the park in Oakland. A few hundred - at most - OWS campers in New York. Far smaller protests elsewhere.

And when it comes time to march, do tens of thousands of like minded citizens show up in support of OWS and its imitators?

Two weeks ago there were about 5,000 protestors who “occupied” Times Square. On a Saturday. In one of the largest cities in the world. There were about 3,000 protestors at an Occupy Chicago march this past Saturday night. It was a beautiful evening and yet, the OWS Chicago protestors could only muster a measly 3,000 souls?

These are questions that a normal media would be asking as it falls all over itself, competing to see who can describe in the most glowing terms this new “mass movement” - a revolution, an unstoppable force…

Phooey. Show me some warm bodies and then I’ll be convinced this is anything but a small number of extremely radical leftists being pimped by a media desperate to counter the political impact of the Tea Party.

By: Rick Moran at 7:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

10/21/2011
REVIEW FUNDED BY AGW SKEPTICS, LED BY SKEPTICAL SCIENTIST, CONFIRMS WARMING THEORY

A personal journey of discovery for me has ended today. Whatever skepticism I held about the efficacy of global warming theory has been satisfied by a new study that confirms the broad claims made by climate scientists that the earth is warming and that there is a very strong correlation with human activity that is causing it.

Still to be determined; how much and how fast the earth is warming and what threat this poses to civilization in the near, mid, and distant future.

I began as a believer in AGW theory back in the 1990’s. But as the political agenda of those promoting this theory became more and more evident — anti-capitalist, anti-western, and anti-growth –my skepticism kicked in and I began to pay more attention to the small, but growing group of scientists who dared question orthodoxy. Also contributing to my skepticism was the attitude of most of the climate change community who, rather than countering skeptics with reasoned, rational arguments, began a smear campaign, referring to their opponents as Nazis, equated them with Holocaust deniers, and accused them of being in the pay of big oil and other large corporations. This contributed to the notion that they had something to hide, or that they were guilty of cooking the books in deference to their pet theories.

Gradually, despite the politics being played, the science being challenged, and the refusal of many AGW scientists to grant their critics the normal legitimacy one would expect from those dedicated to the scientific process, my skepticism was melting. This piece at The Week last year gave me much food for thought, as one of the more credible skeptics, Bjorn Lomberg, had changed his mind and now supported AGW theory. Then, more recently, one of the major players in the Climategate affair, Michael Mann, was cleared of wrongdoing by the very well respected National Science Foundation. Mann had also been exonerated by the East Anglia lab whose emails became public in the Climategate matter.

My thinking on global warming had nearly come full circle. But for me, one of the most compelling skeptical arguments that resulted from the Climategate email dump, was that the temperature stations around the world that had contributed data over the last 150 years may have given false, or inaccurate measurements. The arguments in favor of that conclusion were logical, reasoned, and made a lot of sense.

Now a new study, led by a skeptical scientist and funded by the Koch Brothers among other skeptics, has confirmed, through independent analysis of the data, that research done by Mann and Dr. Phil Jones, as well as NASA and NOAA, was remarkably accurate in showing how the earth has warmed. There are now 4 graphs done by 4 different studies that confirm - unequivocally in my opinion — that the earth is warming and that it almost a certainty that it is because of human industrial activity.

The BBC:

The claim was that many stations have registered warming because they are located in or near cities, and those cities have been growing - the urban heat island effect.

The Berkeley group found about 40,000 weather stations around the world whose output has been recorded and stored in digital form.

It developed a new way of analysing the data to plot the global temperature trend over land since 1800.

What came out was a graph remarkably similar to those produced by the world’s three most important and established groups, whose work had been decried as unreliable and shoddy in climate sceptic circles.

[...]

“Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK,” said Prof Muller.

“This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions.”

Some background on the group who conducted the new study, the Berkeley Earth Project:

The project was established by University of California physics professor Richard Muller, who was concerned by claims that established teams of climate researchers had not been entirely open with their data.

He gathered a team of 10 scientists, mostly physicists, including such luminaries as Saul Perlmutter, winner of this year’s Nobel Physics Prize for research showing the Universe’s expansion is accelerating.

Funding came from a number of sources, including charitable foundations maintained by the Koch brothers, the billionaire US industrialists, who have also donated large sums to organisations lobbying against acceptance of man-made global warming.

“I was deeply concerned that the group [at UEA] had concealed discordant data,” Prof Muller told BBC News.

“Science is best done when the problems with the analysis are candidly shared.”

The key is that the Berkeley group did not use the same method of analysis used by the East Anglia group (NASA and NOAA used similar analytical methods as East Anglia to reach their conclusions). The fact that their conclusions matched the other studies so closely would seem to confirm the accuracy of all the studies.

Though the broad parameters of the problem have now been confirmed to my satisfaction, skepticism is still in order for when scientists make claims that certain phenomenon like hurricanes, or droughts, or other events are the direct result of global warming. That’s not science — it’s politics. And as long as there is a political agenda associated with global warming, these claims will have to be backed up by solid data and analysis, and not simply spouted by rote as if we should swallow everything being promoted by AGW scientists.

Some sneering sot wants an “apology” from skeptics:

Bob Ward, policy and communications director for the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the warming of the Earth’s surface was unequivocal.

“So-called ’sceptics’ should now drop their thoroughly discredited claims that the increase in global average temperature could be attributed to the impact of growing cities,” he said.

“More broadly, this study also proves once again how false it was for ’sceptics’ to allege that the e-mails hacked from UEA proved that the CRU land temperature record had been doctored.

“It is now time for an apology from all those, including US presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who have made false claims that the evidence for global warming has been faked by climate scientists.”

The essence of science is skepticism. Anyone who wants an apology from scientists who were acting like scientists in questioning theories needs to ask the same of the bulk of the physics community for being skeptical about Einstein’s theories, or those who railed against quantum mechanics. I think Ward should be the one apologizing for being so insufferably smug.

There is little doubt that this new study will change few minds in the conservative camp. Most would rather ignore new information that might alter their comfortable assumptions rather than accept what is now obvious. They will attack the messenger (omigod, it’s from BERKELEY!). Or they will posit conspiracy. Or they will reject simply because they are unable to get beyond the epistemic closure that sadly permeates conservative thinking. They will reassure themselves that they are right and everyone else in the world is wrong, telling each other that their false assumptions are still valid because no other information will be allowed to penetrate their closed little circle of right thinking orthodoxy.

For myself, the journey of self discovery continues. For the last 7 years, this blog has allowed me to put down in writing “the velocity” of my thoughts, holding them up to critical examination, and, after comparing my assumptions and conclusions to facts both new and old, adjusting — or not — my beliefs accordingly. It is part of what the philosophers refer to as “an examined life.” It may not fit with current right wing dogma to change one’s mind about anything and everything from the Iraq War to climate change. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s one of the only things that truly makes life worth the bother.

By: Rick Moran at 10:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

10/18/2011
But Cain He?

I have another article up at FPM this morning and its about the rise of Herman Cain and what he has to do to maintain his position as frontrunner.

A sample:

Cain’s rise is tied to the fall of Rick Perry, with his increase in support matching the decline in Perry’s numbers. Clearly, conservatives have found a new favorite, and it will be up to Cain to maintain the momentum as he moves forward.

But can he? This surge in support has come even as the candidate has little in the way of organization on the ground in key states like Iowa and New Hampshire — and precious little time to build one. His fundraising will no doubt pick up considerably, but there, too, he lacks infrastructure. Karl Rove said on Greta Van Sustern’s show, “If you’re running uphill, you better seize the opportunities that are given to you, and this is an opportunity which wandering around western Tennessee on a bus is not exploiting.” Rove was talking about Cain’s trips to Texas and Tennessee last week — states that don’t vote until March — while eschewing campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early primary states.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Cain is responding to the challenge. He plans on doubling his staff by the end of the month and open more offices in early campaign states. And as far as fundraising goes, his campaign pulled in $2 million the first two weeks of October, compared to $2.8 million the entire last quarter.

Beyond that, he is drawing huge crowds at his appearances. There were nearly 15,000 at six stops in Tennessee, including an overflow crowd of 2,000 that showed up in a barn in the tiny hamlet of Waverly. If professional politicos are concerned about Cain’s ability to reach out and touch ordinary voters, they need look no farther than this.

Worries aside, Cain’s rise is based on solid, political reasons that suggest he has the staying power to compete with former GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney all the way through the torturous primary process.

There really isn’t a secret to Cain’s success. At bottom, he is likable, charismatic, witty, charming, and bordering on brilliant. Those are characteristics any politician would sell his soul to possess and Cain has them in abundance. His debate performances have been outstanding, handling questions with surefooted aplomb. He articulates a conservative vision of government that speaks to the base of the Republican party in a way no other candidate can match. And for many, his lack of Washington experience is actually a plus, suggesting a campaign unsullied by the kind of “politics as usual” that most of the Tea Party wing of the GOP wishes to avoid.

But there are doubters and naysayers who view a Cain victory with a critical eye. Even the candidate admits he is not up to speed on many foreign policy issues. And opposition among some conservatives is building to his “9-9-9 plan” due to its lack of specificity and regressive characteristics.


By: Rick Moran at 10:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

10/17/2011
Khamenei, Ahmadinejad Rift Deepens

My latest is up at FPM and I look at the fascinating power struggle going on in Iran between the president and Supreme Leader.

A sample:

The feud may have burst into the open relatively recently, but the tension between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad has been simmering for months. Ahmadinejad and his loyalists wish to reduce the tremendous influence of the clerical establishment on his decision making as president, making Iran more nationalistic and authoritarian, while giving a bigger role to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Khamenei, as the Supreme Leader, is the nominal head of the clerical establishment, although he is not respected as an expert on the Koran or Islamic law. However, to guard their prerogatives, the clerics are supporting him in the feud down the line. This includes the extreme conservative Ayatollah Yazdi who has been Ahmadinejad’s biggest booster among the clerics in the past, but who has sided with Khamenei in the dispute.

As Supreme Leader, Khamenei commands the Guard, but Ahmadinejad is the first president with an independent power center within the IRGC. The Iranian president was a senior commander of the Qods Force, the extra-territorial arm of the IRGC, and has given numerous economic opportunities to key members of the Guard during his terms as president. There are many in the Guard who share Ahmadinejad’s ideology and believe in his confrontational approach in dealing with Israel and the the US. Khamenei, on the other hand, has not let his hatred of Israel and the West affect his more secretive attitude in foreign affairs.

The real challenge to Khamenei’s authority came last April when Ahmadinejad dismissed a crony of the Supreme Leader’s, Heydar Moslehi, who was serving as intelligence minister. Within hours of the announcement of Moslehi’s resignation, Khamenei reinstated him — despite the fact that the Iranian constitution gives the president the power to hire and fire ministers. This infuriated Ahmadinejad who went to Khamenei and threatened to resign unless Moslehi was sacked. Khamenei called Ahmadinejad’s bluff, telling him, in effect, to go ahead, but Moslehi was going to stay.

In protest, the Iranian president absented himself from cabinet meetings for two weeks and when he came back, refused to allow Moslehi to attend cabinet meetings. Finally, after the Iranian Majlis threatened to impeach him, he relented and gave in to Khamenei’s demands. As a result of his opposition, 29 of his confidantes were arrested. Suitably chastened, Ahmadinejad explained his actions in the context of wanting what was best for Iran. “I am convinced that a strong and powerful president would lead to dignity of the Leadership and especially the nation. A strong president can stand firm as a defensive shield, advance affairs of the state, and bring dignity upon it,” he said in a statement upon his return.

In this particular dust up, and in other conflicts between the president and the Supreme Leader, Khamenei holds most of the cards. He is seen as Allah’s representative on earth and going against him as Ahmadinejad did was considered a shocking transgression. Ayatollah Yazdi remarked that disobeying Khamenei was akin to “apostasy from God” — a sentiment echoed by senior leaders of the IRGC.

What is behind Ahmadinejad’s “apostasy” is nothing less than a struggle for the future of the revolutionary Islamic Republic. In the past, Ahmadinejad has chafed at ministers who have been imposed on him by not only Khamenei, but also former president Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the cagey parliamentarian, Speaker of the Majlis Ali Larijani. In response, Ahmadinejad has fired a record 11 ministers during his term of office, replacing them largely with cronies and loyalists who may not have been the best qualified applicants to manage the ministries for which they were chosen to run.

The president and his supporters in the IRGC have been advancing the idea in recent months of running Iran with minimal clerical influence and based more on nationalism than revolutionary Islam. This is a direct threat to members of the clerical establishment, who have grown fat and fabulously wealthy in the current system, receiving kickbacks and payments from various companies and ministries. Giving some of those plums to IRGC commanders has increased Ahmadinejad’s independence — a threat not only to Khamenei’s rule but to the concept of the Islamic Republic itself. What’s worse, Ahmadinejad’s preferred successor, his close confidant and former chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, has made it plain that he believes in an Iran without a Supreme Leader. This has caused Khamenei loyalists to refer to Mashaei as a “deviant current” in Ahmadinejad’s inner circle — a warning that Ahmadinejad should distance himself from his friend and advisor.

By: Rick Moran at 12:13 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

10/15/2011
INEVITABLY, ROMNEY DECLARED ‘INEVITABLE’
CATEGORY: PJ Media, Politics

My latest is up at PJ Media and I take a look at the mostly GOP phenomena of the “inevitability” factor in the nominating process — usually the establishment candidate being anointed prematurely.

A sample:

Matt Bai, one of America’s premiere political writers, took a shot at defining the GOP establishment in a recent New York Times Magazine article:

Today’s establishment is really a consortium of separate and overlapping establishments: a governing establishment of those who have served in administrations or in Congress; a political establishment of campaign consultants; a media establishment dominated by Fox News or the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and a policy establishment at organizations like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

If there is any one power center that connects all of these, though, it’s what you could call the money establishment — the group of senior Republicans, many of whom came to Washington as ideological warriors in the 1980s or early ’90s, who now make their living principally through the business of government. They wield quiet power as corporate lobbyists or regulatory consultants or prolific fund-raisers, or often as all of these at once.

The scenario that has run in past campaigns appears to be on track in 2012. Mitt Romney is getting a head start on the “inevitability” riff in this familiar composition. Despite lukewarm support from the Republican establishment, almost dutifully, those movers, shakers, spenders, bundlers, and thinkers who run the party are laying aside their doubts and have begun the drumbeat in the press about Mitt Romney’s “inevitability.”

They picked a lousy time for it. Two recent national polls show Herman Cain ahead of Romney, while several state polls also show the Georgia businessman beating out the establishment’s reluctant choice. But this doesn’t seem to make a dent in what is nothing short of a media blitz to crown the former Massachusetts governor before any challenger can truly make a game of it.

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin points out that there are already 1.98 million Google search results for the term “Romney inevitable.” She also notes:

[T]he notion that any candidate’s win is “inevitable” months before votes are cast is silly. Romney is without a doubt the front-runner with considerable momentum and weak opposition. But lots can happen, and there are dangers from attaining not only front-runner but media-denominated “inevitable” status.

Not exactly “silly” if one looks at the recent history of the GOP nominating process, but certainly Herman Cain and Rick Perry would strenuously disagree. As Rubin writes, Romney could easily stumble as early as Iowa and will have a real fight on his hands in South Carolina. Those early contests could easily wipe the patina of “inevitability” from his campaign posters and see the candidate fighting for his political life in relatively unfriendly states like Florida (1/31/12) and Missouri (2/7/12). Another factor working against the “inevitable” candidate this time out is the elimination of “winner-take-all” primaries. With proportional delegate selection, any candidate who is trailing the front-runner can claim a significant portion of a state’s delegates even by losing.

By: Rick Moran at 10:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

10/11/2011
CHRISTIANS UNDER SIEGE IN EGYPT

My latest is up at FPM and it’s about the discomfiting reality facing Christians in Egypt and the Middle East at large.

With the advent of the “Arab Spring,” radical Muslims have been unleashed from decades of their own oppression and allowed to rampage through Christian communities burning churches, murdering, and destroying Christian homes.

In Egypt, the Copts have watched as a systematic effort to destroy their churches and terrorize their communities has been underway since the fall of Mubarak. A riot on Sunday killed nearly 20 and wounded 400. And the hell of it is, the authorities are ignoring the persecution, currying favor with the radicals.

A sample:

On September 30, “some three thousand Muslims rampaged the church, torched it, and demolished the dome; flames from the wreckage burned nearby Coptic homes, which were further ransacked by rioting Muslims.” Predictably, the Governor of Aswan blamed the Christians for the violence, pointing out that the Copts were building the roof of the church 3 meters too high. “Copts made a mistake and had to be punished, and Muslims did nothing but set things right, end of story,” said the governor.

Coptic Christians were second class citizens under the Mubarak regime, but their churches were protected and radical Islamists were reined in. But since the “Arab Spring,” the authorities have turned a blind eye as Muslims have run wild, burning churches, murdering Christians, and rampaging through Christian communities.

According to the Associated Press, here’s a partial list of attacks on Copts since the beginning of 2011:

  • A New Year church attack left 23 dead.
  • On February 23, a Coptic priest was found murdered. The assailants reportedly shouted “Allahu-Akbar” upon leaving the dead priest’s house.
  • In March, a Muslim-Christian love affair led to the burning of a church south of Cairo. When Copts protested the church attack, a mob of Muslims wielding knives and clubs attacked killing 13 and injuring 140.
  • In April, thousands of Muslims in Qena protested the appointment of a Coptic governor. The authorities caved in and appointed a Muslim.
  • In May, another church was burned, this time in Cairo, by a mob angered over another Christian-Muslim love affair. Twelve were killed.

There have been no prosecutions relating to any of these attacks. In fact, as Ibrahim reports, “Even if sometimes the most rabid church-destroying Muslims get ‘detained,’ it is usually for show, as they are released in days, hailed back home as heroes.”

These scenes of destruction and murder have been repeated all over the Middle East. Whatever one can say about tyrants like Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak, they feared the Islamists and kept them from causing the kind of mayhem that is afflicting Christian populations across the region. And the destruction of churches and murders of Christians are not isolated incidents. There has been a systematic targeting of Christians in Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Iran, as well as Egypt. The attacks are inspired by extremist clerics, and condoned to one degree or another by authorities.

Despite Christians living and worshiping in the Middle East for 2,000 years, those communities are now in danger of disappearing. A report by the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights reveals that 100,000 Christians have fled Egypt since March, with 250,000 expected to leave before the end of 2011. In Iraq, it’s even worse. A State Department report last year on religious freedom around the world showed that 50% of Iraqi Christians had left the country since the US invasion. And in Sudan, tens of thousands of Christians in the Nuba Mountains are being bombed daily by Sudanese military forces and suffer house to house raids at the hands of President Bashir’s forces.

One is forced to confront an uncomfortable reality: if any other minority group — racial, ethnic, or tribal — was suffering from government-condoned persecution carried out by out of control mobs, the outrage in the Western press and from Western governments would be loud and sustained. So why don’t Christians in the Middle East rate that kind of concern?

By: Rick Moran at 12:04 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

10/7/2011
US MEETS WITH MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

I have another piece up at FPM - this one is on the recent news reports that top US officials met with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. I also look at the coming parliamentary elections in Egypt.

A sample:

Why would high ranking officials of the US government sit down with an organization that created a terrorist group like Hamas? Was it simply a matter of real politik – a realization that since the MB was going to come out on top in the coming elections anyway that it was better to have contact with them than give them the diplomatic cold shoulder?

That could be one reason. But there may be another, simpler reason; the administration of President Barack Obama doesn’t believe that the Muslim Brotherhood is a threat to anyone and that their disavowal of terrorism can be trusted.

Recall the testimony of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last February when, appearing before House Intelligence Committee he startled onlookers and Members of Congress by saying the the MB was “largely secular” and that they had pursued “social ends,” and “a betterment of the political order in Egypt.”

“In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally,” he told the committee.

Flash forward to a mass rally in Tahrir Square held at the end of July where tens of thousands of Salafists demonstrated, including masses of Brotherhood members, chanting Islamist slogans calling for the implementation of Sharia law, and warning that the constitution that will be written must be based on Koranic law.

Even in the clarification Clapper’s media office released a few hours after those shocking statements, he made it clear that he didn’t think there was much to worry about when it came to the Muslim Brotherhood. “To clarify Director Clapper’s point – in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak’s rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation,” the statement said. Mubarak’s regime literally arrested MB members on sight. How that translates into working “through a political system” Clapper didn’t elaborate on.

What could have possessed the DNI — a man with the most sophisticated intelligence analyses at his fingertips — to make such a ridiculous statement? It is apparent that the administration has made a decision to treat the Brotherhood as a political party rather than an Islamist organization hell bent on the destruction of Israel, and the establishment of a Sharia-compliant Egyptian government.

In an interview with Egypt’s Al-Hayat TV last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it plain exactly how the administration will be dealing with the Islamists in Egypt:

We will be willing to and open to working with a government that has representatives who are committed to non-violence, who are committed to human rights, who are committed to the democracy that I think was hoped for in Tahrir Square.

ince the MB and their Islamist allies will almost certainly come out on top in the elections next month, it seems clear that Clinton believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is “committed to non-violence,” and “democracy.”

This also appeared to be the attitude of our diplomats who met with the FJP. They included Prem G. Kumar, the National Security Council Director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs and Amy Destefano, the First Secretary of the US Embassy in Cairo. Their host was Dr. Mohamed Saad Katatni, the Secretary General of the FJP. Katatni apparently lectured our diplomats on the new state of affairs in Egypt, reportedly telling them,“If America wants to build balanced relations with the countries of the region after the Arab Spring, it should re-read the new scenario in accordance to the will of the peoples of the region.”

No doubt this sentiment went over well with the diplomats as Kumar told Katatni that the US “is seeking dialogue with all the political forces in Egypt, especially after the changes post-revolution.”

Barry Rubin suggests that we employ a program similar to one conducted by the CIA after World War II in France and Italy to forestall a Communist takeover in those countries. We funneled money and expertise to the more moderate, right wing, and conservative parties, helping them build coalitions to defeat the Marxists.

Could such a plan work in Egypt? The one unifying factor of the opposition to MB taking over the government is the belief that religion should have a small or non existent role in the new government and constitution. That may be a basis to forge alliances among the secularists and moderates who have been frozen out of negotiations between the military and the MB.

It’s too late for this sort of thing to work for the parliamentary elections scheduled for next month. But it might be worth a try for the presidential elections now put off until 2013.


By: Rick Moran at 9:57 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

10/6/2011
Another Assassination Attempt to Kill Karzai Foiled

My latest is up at FPM and I look at the assassination attempt against Hamid Karzai and the security pact signed between Afghanistan and India.

A sample:

This is the third serious assassination plot against President Karzai. In 2002, another presidential bodyguard opened fire on Karzai but missed him, killing two others and wounding an American special operations member who was guarding the president. And a 2008 attack by Haqqani during a military parade Karzai was attending came close to succeeding when several bystanders near the president were killed.

The revelations regarding the plot come on the heels of charges made by the governments of Afghanistan and the United States that the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has close ties to Haqqani, as well as other charges made by Afghanistan tying the Haqqani network specifically to the assassination of the government’s peace envoy to the Taliban, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Several other high profile assassination attempts in Afghanistan have succeeded recently, all tied to either the Taliban or Haqqani. In addition to the death of Rabbani, which has resulted in the suspension of peace talks with the Taliban, the president’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was killed by his own bodyguard in July. Less than a week later, Jan Mohammad Khan, a senior aide to the president, was killed in an attack on his home in Kabul. The Taliban is suspected of having a hand in both assassinations, with the possible knowledge of the ISI.

And as if the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan couldn’t get any rockier, President Karzai’s surprise trip to India on Wednesday to sign a security pact with New Delhi, will no doubt roil the already tense relationship with Islamabad. According to the Washington Post, the pact will “step up cooperation in counterterrorism operations, training of security forces and trade.” The pact will also increase cultural and political exchanges as well as offer assistance to Afghanistan in stabilizing the country.

The security pact will no doubt anger the civilian government of President Zardari in Pakistan, and cause great concern in Pakistan’s military and intelligence services. Any move to draw closer to India by Afghanistan is likely to be seen as a betrayal in Islamabad. It is also the realization of the Pakistani military’s worst nightmare; a more independent Afghanistan with close ties to their mortal enemy India.

“[A]ny military or intelligence role for India will not be tolerable for Pakistan,” said former ambassador Maleeha Lodi in an interview last summer. While no active role is seen for India in peace talks, Karzai’s move to engage with New Delhi on security matters will worry Pakistan, who wishes a weak, compliant vassal state after America pulls out in 2014. In effect, Karzai is showing Islamabad that he has some diplomatic and military cards to play as well. If Pakistan continues its attempts to destabilize Afghanistan through the use of their proxy terrorists in Haqqani and the Taliban, the Afghan government won’t hesitate to expand their ties with India.

By: Rick Moran at 10:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

10/4/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: THE TURN OF HERMAN CAIN

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, Rich Baehr of the American Thinker, and Monica Showalter of IDB. We’ll discuss the latest from the GOP presidential field and the “Occupy Wall Street” protest.

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

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

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

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 4:28 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)