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11/27/2012
RINO Hour of Power: Cliffhanger: Can We Avoid Catastrophe?

Join us for another breathtaking episode of the RINO Hour of Power, hosted by Rick Moran with special guest host Fausta Wertz.

Negotiations to prevent a fiscal calamity after January 1 are going slowly and despite some hopeful signs, the two sides are stil a long way from an agreement. Can congress and the president cut a deal before mandatory cuts in the budget and tax increases push us over the fiscal cliff. Bryan Preston of PJ Media will join Fausta and Rick to talk about the prospects for a deal and other issues surrounding the negotiations.

The show will stream live from 8:00 - 9:00 PM eastern time. A podcast will be available shortly after the end of the show.

You can join us live by clicking the icon below or by clicking here.

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By: Rick Moran at 4:50 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

11/20/2012
RINO Hour of Power: The Prospects for a Cease Fire in Gaza

Israel and Hamas are still exchanging fire although a truce appears tantalizinginly close.

What are the prospects for a cease fire? And what about the future for Israel in a changing Middle East?

You won’t want to miss tonight’s episode of the RINO Hour of Power, hosted by Rick Moran with co-host Rich Baehr of the American Thinker.

Joining the hosts to talk about the Israeli-Hamas conflict and other related issues will be author, historian, and the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Michael Ledeen.

The show streams live from 8:00 - 9:00 PM eastern time. A podcast will be available shortly after the end of the show.

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By: Rick Moran at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

11/13/2012
RINO Hour of Power: Not Just Another Boring Post-Election Analysis

Join us for post-election analysis that you haven’t heard or read anywhere else on this week’s RINO Hour of Power.

Hosted by Rick Moran and special co-host this week Jazz Shaw, the guys welcome Andrew Malcolm of Investors Business Daily to talk up the election and the Petreaus scandal.

The show streams live from 8:00 - 9:00 PM eastern time. A podcast will be available shortly after the end of the show.

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By: Rick Moran at 5:27 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

11/8/2012
Can the GOP Win Without the Crazies?

Birthers, truthers, paranoids, conspiracists — the whole angry, resentful, frightened mob of right wingers who make up a good portion of the Republican base scares the wholly living hell out of most of the rest of us. They exist on a different plane of reality — uncomfortable with deep thinking, irrational when their delusions are challenged, and unable to climb out of the echo chamber in which they find comfort and support with other like minded crazies.

Worse than who and what they are, the establishment Republicans and even other rational conservatives tolerate them, dismiss them as inconsequential, or actively encourage them in hopes of using their energy, activism, and money to win office.

I categorize the crazies, recognizing there is overlap in and redundancy in my taxonomy:

1. The Birthers. Still alive and kicking and insisting that either a) Obama wasn’t born here; or b) he is an illegitimate president because he’s not a “natural born citizen.” They’ve only got 4 more years to prove their case.

2. Conspiracists. Runs the gamut from the birther issue mentioned above to the idea that hundreds of reputable scientists are colluding to cook the books on global warming. Several prominent congressmen - Michele Bachmann among them — have joined this group by wondering if Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close aide, isn’t a Muslim Brotherhood plant.

3. Anti-Science crackpots. Enter the evangelical right who dismisses evolution, the Big Bang Theory, as well as other right wingers who worry about vaccinations and are convinced a woman can’t get pregnant from rape because her body automatically shuts down to prevent it.

4. Anti-intellectual. Dismissing out of hand any criticism from anyone who they believe isn’t a conservative. They are suspicious of anyone who went to an Ivy League school or who thinks for a living, and they reflexively reject nuance and logic because if you don’t feel it in your gut, you’re probably a squishy moderate.

5. Paranoids. Pure Hofstadter. Read.

6. Cry “Communist!” and let slip the dogs of war! Is there anything loopier about the crazies than their belief that the US is turning into a Marxist dictatorship? Sheesh.

It is an open question how large this segment of “conservatives” might be. Being in a better position than most to hazard an intelligent guess, I would put the percentage at more than 25% but less than 35%. I don’t believe any polls on the matter for the simple reason that the way questions about birtherism or socialism are formulated sweeps up many on the right who have questions about such things, but don’t give them much credence.

So, how much did fear and loathing of the GOP crazies by ordinary voters contribute to the party’s debacle on Tuesday?

On Wednesday, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray said the decisive Senate victories for her party had “proved to Republicans that extremists are dooming their party to disaster.”

“If Republicans want to follow the Tea Party off a political cliff, that’s their prerogative,” Murray said on a conference call with reporters. “But we will not let them take America off a cliff.”

Sorry, but it’s far more complicated than that. The self identified “Tea Party” has many faces, many factions — some of whom are rational libertarians, thoughtful federalists, or plain old Main Street Republicans.

But there is no doubt that the energy, the dynamism, and the soul of the Tea Party movement can be found in the angry, contorted faces of its members screaming about “Communism” and “Socialism” at rallies across the land. They are a fraternity of, for the most part, middle aged, Middle Class angry white males who believe they see the country they grew up in slipping away. Their vision of what America was like — a vision that obscures or ignores the more unseemly aspects of American society in decades past — lives on in Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” (a phrase The Gipper stole from Puritan leader John Winthrop). It’s a precious, if completely fanciful vision of an America that never was, but is embraced because it validates the sincere patriotic feelings felt by most ordinary Americans. They fear change because it is unsettling to have America’s perfection challenged in such a stark and obvious way.

America is changing — has always changed — and this has always unnerved some of us. It’s too easy to explain it away by saying that racism is the motivating factor in their hate. By limiting one’s explanation to the loss of white privilege, you lose sight of the traditionalist nature of their opposition to President Obama and his leftist allies.

Ed Kilgore:

As we have seen throughout history, cultural despair can lead to quiescence—to the withdrawal from politics and the building of counter-cultural institutions—or to hyper-activism—to the building of self-consiously counter-revolutionary political movements that exhibit contempt for democracy and treat opponents as enemies on an almost existential level. Maybe the kind of stuff I quoted above just reflects an emotional hangover from an election conservatives convinced themselves they were going to win. But it’s hardly new; much of the Tea Party Movement and its “constitutional conservative” ideology has involved a strange sort of anti-Americanism cloaked in super-patriotism. It wouldn’t be surprising if the same people reacted to the re-election of Barack Obama by taking their hostility to America as it is to another level.

For better or worse, the Tea Party has become the Tao of the GOP. Trying to remove them would sap most of the energy and activism from the party, which is why you don’t see too many establishment or mainstream Republicans trying to marginalize them.

But despite Kilgore’s use of scare quotes for “constitutional conservative” — as if this isn’t a valid philosophical construct or something to be feared or belittled — there is actually a purpose to the Tea Party’s obsession with the Constitution. The Kilgore’s of the world definitely don’t want to debate this, but the notion of “limited” government is at the heart of the Tea Party critique of the American government. Many of them have almost a biblical belief in the sanctity of the Constitution, that it must be taken literally, word for word like the Bible, and if something like national health care doesn’t appear in it, it is by definition “unconstitutional.” Others have a childlike understanding of the meaning of federalism, or the commerce clause, that makes them suspicious of anything that augments those concepts.

But despite all this, they are the only Americans willing to debate the limits of power granted to the federal government by our founding document. In this respect, the left, who prefer to keep their options open when it comes to defining limits on federal power, finds it convenient to tar tea partiers as racists, or authoritarians, or, as Kilgore does, anti-American. Some may be all of those, but to dismiss the argument they are making with scare quotes and name calling fails to recognize the value in what, in their own misguided way, they are trying to accomplish. I would venture to say that not since the ratification debates of 1787-88 has the Constitution been so seriously studied and debated. It’s a debate that needs to happen if there is any hope of maintaining a healthy balance between individual freedom and the needs of society to progress.

But the Tea Party does not represent the totality of the GOP crazies problem. Radical Christians who want to deny basic rights to gays, and even to women, are a far larger quandary. They vote. And no candidate for the presidency who runs on the Republican ticket can avoid toeing the line on their issues. If Mitt Romney had stood up to them by maintaining his position on gay marriage, abortion and other social issues, it is very likely he would not have been nominated. It’s at least partly the reason that governors like Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie refused to enter the GOP field in 2012. Catering to the concerns of people who believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago proves to be too much for some.

It would be a dream solution for the evangelicals, the tea party, and the other crazies to form their own party, as Herman Cain suggested:

Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate who still has a robust following via his popular talk radio program and speaking tours, today suggested the most clear step to open civil war: secession. Appearing on Bryan Fischer’s radio program this afternoon, Cain called for a large faction of Republican Party leaders to desert the party and form a third, more conservative party.

“I never thought that I would say this, and this is the first time publicly that I’ve said it: We need a third party to save this country. Not Ron Paul and the Ron Paulites. No. We need a legitimate third party to challenge the current system that we have, because I don’t believe that the Republican Party … has the ability to rebrand itself,” Cain said.

Rush Limbaugh agrees:

Rush Limabugh, two months ago, echoed the sentiment. ”If Obama wins, let me tell you what it’s the end of: the Republican Party. There’s gonna be a third party that’s gonna be oriented toward conservatism,” he said.

Well, some people’s idea of “conservatism” anyway.

Of course, a third party of anti-abortion and anti-gay activists, evangelical Christians, radical anti-government Objectivists, and paranoid loons would never win a national election. But then, neither would the GOP. This wouldn’t exactly be a split between ideologues and pragmatists, but it would clearly define the divisions in the conservative movement and Republican party in such a way that one or both parties might attract enough Democrats who may be tiring of the relentless liberalism currently in vogue on the left and would seek a different brand of populism or moderate politics.

But for the present, the crazies and the GOP establishment need each other. And unless the pragmatists realize just how much of a drag the crazies are on their political fortunes, the GOP is likely to continue losing mainstream voters who look in askance on a party that tolerates such nuttiness.

By: Rick Moran at 1:59 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

11/6/2012
RHOP Lalapalooza Election Night Blow Out Special

Join host Rick Moran and a gaggle of political all star analysts for a two hour election night special on the RINO Hour of Power.

Scheduled guests include J. Christian Adams, Rich Baehr, Thomas Lifson, Bridget Johnson, Doug Mataconis, J.R. Dunne, and Nichole Hungerford.

The show will stream live from 7:00 - 9:00 PM eastern time. A podcast will be available shortly after the end of the show.

You can join us live by clicking the icon below or by clicking here.

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By: Rick Moran at 2:57 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

The Right Will Draw the Wrong Conclusions from an Obama Victory
CATEGORY: Politics

Unless a lot of voters have been lying to pollsters — and I’m not entirely dismissing the notion, although probably not in numbers to drastically effect the race — Barack Obama will win re-election to a second term.

It is likely to be a near thing in the popular vote, but not a nail biter in the electoral college. A billion dollars buys a lot of organization and the Obama team should once again be congratulated for using their campaign money to excellent effect in getting out their vote on election day.

For Romney, a bitter pill to be sure. To come so close and then fall just a little short will haunt him for the rest of his life. But to a large extent, it’s his own fault — and the fault of conservatives and conservatism. In the end, Romney tried to offer warmed over Reaganism with a dash of 21st century conservative populism to the voters. They weren’t fooled — not enough of them anyway.

Conservatism failed Romney as much as conservatives did — perhaps more. Intellectuals on the right have been largely driven from the public square by revanchist social darwinists, fevered anti-science evangelicals, and paranoid conspiracists. Much of the right just doesn’t trust anyone who thinks for a living because that thinking generally leads to conclusions that don’t sit comfortably with those trapped in the echo chamber of right wing blogs, talk radio, and Fox News.

For example, when someone dares to point out that Mitt Romney’s tax numbers don’t add up, or Paul Ryan’s budget plan has a trillion dollar gap in it, or that Rush Limbaugh is a clown, there’s no attempt to debate, only an effort to shout down or smear the messenger. Such is not conducive to promoting the kind of intellectual ferment necessary for a political philosophy to refresh itself and deal with contemporary challenges.

Instead, the GOP mantra of the last 30 years of tax cuts, fewer regulations, developing a strong military, and advocating for smaller government was trotted out in new clothes, given a pretty sheen of new rhetoric, and promoted as “change.” The country was ready to give Obama his walking papers if the Republicans had offered a candidate who represented a break with the past, who promoted an agenda based on what America had become in the 21st century and not what she was in the 1970’s and 80’s. But this was not to be. How could it when much of the right has invested so heavily in fantasies of cutting government to the bone, destroying the social welfare state, emasculating the EPA and other agencies, while forcing its own concept of theocratic morality on the rest of us?

Perhaps most egregiously of all, the takeover of the Republican party by the hard right has meant that the very concept of conservatism has been corrupted beyond recognition. I think the greatest failing of the hard right has to be its total denial of what Russell Kirk referred to as the “voluntary community.” The idea of “community” used to be central to conservative philosophy. This is a manageable social element — one step above individual and family. In modern American, the term “community” necessarily includes progressive levels of government — from local, to state, to federal — each tasked with responsibilities that make modern urban civilization possible.

What local government is unable or incapable of doing, the state government steps in and fills the gap. What states cannot manage, or refuse to address, the national government takes a hand. No rational person believes that there should be 50 different air and water quality standards, or 50 different regulatory regimes that govern worker safety. Interstate commerce would come screeching to a halt if that kind of thinking ever took hold.

The modern right, however, isn’t interested in the traditional notions of community, which necessarily include government. There is a great big hole in the hard right’s vision of community where government should be. The state has a role to play as provider, referee, and enforcer of community laws and regulations. Every major conservative philosopher of the last 100 years has recognized this to one degree or another. But the fantasies about reducing the size of government to something akin to what it was in 19th century America persist.

The concept of limited government — not smaller government or no government — should be promoted. But “limited” government is too close to “warmed over liberalism” for many extremists. The idea that government should grow at all is an anathema to most modern ideologues who have hijacked the name “conservatism” and besmirched its principles in a reckless disregard for what used to be called, “the common weal.” Individual liberty is a fine thing and it is the primary purpose of government to defend and ensure that freedom. But individual liberty cannot exist outside of the community. Necessarily, we voluntarily give up some freedom in return for living in a civilization where we aren’t at each other’s throats. The concept is so basic to conservatism, it’s a mystery why those who call themselves conservatives reject it out of hand.

I have no hope for a return to sanity anytime soon for the political right — not when the right mistakes disgust with the Democrats for an electoral mandate as they did in 2010, or that all they will need to win the presidency in 2016 is to tweak the message a bit and nominate a “true conservative” — like Rick Santorum or some other religious fanatic. The disconnect between the right wingers and 21st century America is too great, their notions of what America needs so out of kilter with reality, that only near complete marginalization by the electorate might snap them out of their stupor. Even then, the purists will probably complain that all they have to do is nominate a “real” conservative and they will win in a landslide.

Poor, pathetic, wretched creatures.

By: Rick Moran at 12:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

11/2/2012
Staten Island Wondering Where the Government is 3 Days After Sandy

It’s just too tempting to compare the media response to government relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the response to Sandy. The dichotomy is stark.

ABC News:

The residents of Staten Island are pleading for help from elected officials, begging for gasoline, food and clothing three days after Sandy slammed the New York City borough.

“We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Donna Solli told visiting officials. “You don’t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It’s been three days!”

Staten Island was one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents are still without power. Many are homeless, and at least 19 people died on Staten Island because of the storm.

Three days after Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Nagin was on the radio, literally weeping about the lack of federal response to the desperation of the city (link is dead):

“You know the reason why the looters got out of control?” Nagin said. “We have most of our resources saving people. They were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. You pull off the doggone ventilator and look down and they’re standing there in water up to their fricking neck.”

“I need reinforcements,” he said. “I need troops, man. I need 500 buses.”

The relief efforts made so far had been “pathetically insufficient,” Nagin said.

“They are thinking small, man, and this is a major, MAJOR deal,” Nagin said. “God is looking down on this and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Every day that we delay, people are dying, and they’re dying by the hundreds, I am willing to bet you.”

Rolling now, Nagin described distress calls he’d heard. Nagin mocked the efforts to block the 17th Street Canal breach.

“I flew over that thing yesterday and it was in the same shape it was in after the storm hit,” he said.

“There is nothing happening there. They’re feeding the public a line of bull and they’re spinning and people are dying down here.”

Although much of what Nagin was bitching about wasn’t true, there is rough symmetry between his remarks about the federal response and that of the Staten Island resident.

And yet…

There is no gaggle of national media today reporting around the clock about the desperation of Staten Island residents. There is no in depth reporting on conditions in New Jersey which is a little better off but hardly out of crisis with supplies running low and electricity still out for hundreds of thousands. There are no reporters relaying wild, unsubstantiated rumors about babies being murdered or “10,000 dead.”

In fact, I would say that media coverage of the aftermath of the hurricane has been subdued, rational, and factual. The question becomes: Since Katrina was a far more devastating storm in its destructive power and help for the victims was hampered by impossible conditions, how come the feds are getting a pass on Sandy despite obvious snafus and far less damage to infrastructure?

Well, there’s the distraction of the election. Reporters in 2005 didn’t have anything better to do and networks had no other big stories to cover. But any semi-independent observer would have to ask if there wasn’t a bias against President Bush and that the race of the Mayor of New Orleans (Nagin is black) didn’t play a role in assigning responsibility for the paltry response to the crisis.

Nagin panicked. He spread wild rumors about conditions at the Superdome which, while desperate, were nowhere near as bad as he was making them out to be. His demand for “500 buses” was ludicrous considering he had 300 buses available in a parking lot a couple of miles from the Superdome that he could have used to evacuate thousands prior to the storm making landfall. And most egregiously, he forgot to tell FEMA that there were thousands of additional residents taking refuge in the convention center — a place made a living hell because no one knew about the city using the facility as an evacuation center except Nagin.

The federal response could have been better. But as I showed in this timeline I prepared at the time, the delay in getting federal resources to New Orleans had far more to do with flooded and impassable roads, washed away bridges, and a fearful lack of coordination between state, federal, and local authorities than any inadequacies by FEMA. Who’s to blame for that? Take your partisan pick.

Am I playing the false equivalency game? To an extent, yes. No two disasters are the same and I would say that from what I’ve seen, the federal response to Sandy has the virtue of being better organized and not so ad hoc. But where the world came down on Bush’s head for the failures of government, Obama appears to be skating through undamaged.

And considering what the residents of Staten Island are going through, is that just?

By: Rick Moran at 9:09 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)