Contact Me

About RightWing NutHouse

Site Stats

blog radio

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More


(Romeo St. Martin of Politics Watch-Canada)

"The epitome of a blogging orgasm"
(Cao of Cao's Blog)

"Rick Moran is one of the finest essayists in the blogosphere. ‘Nuff said. "
(Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye)

October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004



Blacksmiths of Lebanon
Blogs of War
Classical Values
Cold Fury
Diggers Realm
Neocon News
Ravenwood’s Universe
Six Meat Buffet
The Conservative Cat

























‘Unleash’ Palin? Get Real



"24" (96)
Bird Flu (5)
Blogging (200)
Books (10)
Caucasus (1)
Cindy Sheehan (13)
Decision '08 (290)
Election '06 (7)
Ethics (173)
Financial Crisis (8)
FRED! (28)
General (378)
GOP Reform (23)
Government (123)
History (166)
Homeland Security (8)
Iran (81)
Katrina Timeline (4)
Lebanon (8)
Marvin Moonbat (14)
Media (184)
Middle East (134)
Moonbats (80)
Obama-Rezko (14)
Olympics (5)
Open House (1)
Palin (6)
PJ Media (37)
Politics (651)
Presidential Debates (7)
RNC (1)
S-CHIP (1)
Sarah Palin (1)
Science (45)
Space (21)
Sports (2)
Supreme Court (24)
Technology (1)
The Caucasus (1)
The Law (14)
The Long War (7)
The Rick Moran Show (127)
War on Terror (330)
Who is Mr. Hsu? (7)
Wide Awakes Radio (8)


Admin Login


Design by:

Hosted by:

Powered by:

Watching the cable nets talk about the death of Tim Russert at age 58 – and they are all on the story – you are struck by the sheer number of journalists and on air personalities whose professional lives had been touched by this man.

Tom Brokaw put it well with his typical understatement:

He was “one of the premier political journalists and analysts of his time,” Tom Brokaw, the former longtime anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” said in announcing Russert’s death. “This news division will not be the same without his strong, clear voice.”

In addition to his on-air duties, Russert was a Vice President of NBC News – a position in which he fought almost daily battles with the corporation over what to cover as news. He was a Bureau Chief in Washington as well which made him something of a rennaisance man in the news business handling executive, administrative, and talent duties with a practiced ease.

But Russert will be known for his combative yet polite interview techniques that had the effect of breaking down a target into a quivering hunk of jello while boring in and, with bulldog tenacity, not letting go until a particular question was answered. He would ask the same question a half dozen times until he was satisfied that he had at least a partial answer to his question.

The list of honors is impressive:

Russert’s March 2000 interview of Sen. John McCain shared the 2001 Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television Journalism. He was also the recipient of the John Peter Zenger Award, the American Legion Journalism Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Journalism Award, the Allen H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism, the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication and the Catholic Academy for Communication’s Gabriel Award. He was a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.

I really feel like we are losing one of the last of a dying breed with Russert. Only in their dreams can an Olbermann or Matthews or O’Reily or Cooper be the kind of relentless searcher for truth as Russert clearly was. Despite the fact that his background was in politics rather than journalism, it seems he took to journalism like a duck takes to water.

Some may find bias in the way he interviewed conservatives compared to his interviews with liberals. But I didn’t see it. His job was to ask questions and get answers. And few in the business were so relentless in pursuit of answers be they Democrats or Republicans. There was no such thing as a softball interview where Russert was concerned.

According to people who knew him, he was extremely well informed, spending hours every morning scanning the wires and news reports so that he was up to speed with what was going on. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it is no easy task. I might spend 3-4 hours before sitting down to write anything reading MSM coverage as well as blogs. Russert spent that amount of time and more just so that he could do his job.

A life cut short – a well lived life. We mourn the passing of someone and will miss the spice he brought to political journalism.

By: Rick Moran at 4:31 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

preciseTruth linked with Tim Russert RIP...

This article first appeared on June 6, 2006

It was 62 years ago that US Rangers stormed the cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc near Omaha Beach. And as the veterans of that day grow oh so gray and bent, mere shadows of the lithe and limber youths who pulled themselves up the jagged bluffs, one hand over another, their comrades falling all about them, we are reminded that the word “courage” came alive that day.

Too often, we use that word in a base and cavalier way. A Hollywood movie star has “courage” because she revealed to the world that she’s a drug addict. A comic has “courage” because he made fun of the President of the United States to his face. A filmaker has “courage” because he made millions of dollars shooting a “documentary” which shows the US government complicit in the mass murder on 9/11.

And so instead of “courage” being a word with inexpressible significance and meaning beyond its simple definition, it has become a self congratulatory epithet, a hollowed out expression of empty promise and insincerity. Today, the purveyors of myth and shapers of opinion use the word to tell the rest of us who to admire and what to respect. No longer does courage imply sacrifice or a willingness to give all that one has for a cause greater than oneself. Instead, courage defines the selfish desires and overwrought egos of an ideology that sees more irony in the word than reverence.

All of this was in the future 62 years ago when the Rangers lived the word courage by taking the bluffs above the beach. And a short distance away at Omaha, Americans were dying, never knowing that their sacrifice was redefining the word courage for all time. For in their last bloody moments on earth, a titanic struggle was taking place between good and evil that 10,000 years from now, poets will still be singing songs and human beings will still be shaking their heads at in wonder and awestruck disbelief.

It takes genuine courage to confront evil. By its very nature, evil must defend itself by lashing out and destroying anything that attempts to get in its path, lest it perish ignominiously. Those representing good realize this which makes the confrontation between good and evil always a life threatening proposition and thus, an exercise in self-denial and sacrifice. The Rangers on the bluffs and the men in transports speeding toward bloody Omaha that terrible day 62 years ago knew full well what they were in for. They were willing to pay the price to defeat evil.

There were more than 700 war ships on the waters of Normandy that day, firepower never before seen on the open ocean. The men would be landing with tanks and guns and grenades and enough explosives to blow up a small town. But their most potent weapon by far was the courage to face their foes in open combat with the full knowledge that doing so was likely to get them killed. We ask ourselves quite properly, would I have been capable of such a feat? The answer will likely tell us much about ourselves.

Because in those last frantic minutes before hitting the beach, as grown men wept and prayed and steeled themselves for the supreme test of their young lives, they must have found something deep within themselves, something they could mentally and emotionally grasp and hold onto so real and palpable it must have been. What was it? An image of their family? A remembrance of love and closeness that wrapped itself around them and made them feel safe? Or perhaps it was the simple recognition of the here and now with a sublime faith that He that arbitrates our fate has placed me in His keeping and if these be my last moments, let them be meaningful ones.

Whatever rushed thoughts were coursing through their minds as they splashed ashore under some of the most intense combat ever experienced by American fighting men, their courage allowed them to disobey the most primal of instincts to flee for safety and walk into the teeth of the enemy’s fire. And then, the supreme test. Historian Stephen Ambrose:

They were getting butchered where they were all the sea wall because the Germans had it all zeroed in with their mortars that were coming down on top of them. And, “Over here, Captain,” “Over here, Lieutenant, over here.” A sergeant looked at this situation and said, “The hell with this. If I’m going to get killed, I’m going to take some Germans with me.” And he would call out, “Follow me,” and up he would start. Hitler didn’t believe this was ever possible. Hitler was certain that the soft, effeminate children of democracy could never become soldiers. Hitler was certain that the Nazi youth would always outfight the Boy Scouts, and Hitler was wrong.

The Boy Scouts took them on D-Day. Joe Dawson led Company G. He started off with 200 men. He got to the top of the bluff with 20 men, but he got to the top. He was the first one to get there. He’s going to be introducing President Clinton tomorrow at Omaha Beach. John Spaulding was another. He was a lieutenant. Many of them are nameless. I don’t know their names. I’ve talked to men who’ve said, “I saw this lieutenant and he tossed a grenade into the embrasure of that fortification, and out came four Germans with their hands up. I thought to myself, hell, if he can do that, I can do that.” “What was his name?” I will ask. “Geez, I don’t know. I never found out his name. I never saw him before, and I never saw him again, but he was a great man. He got me up that bluff.”

“Unknown but to God” and history, I suspect. In the end, whatever gave them the inner strength to keep going in the face of such murderous opposition, it was as inspirational then as it is today.

It is fitting and proper that we remember their courage today, the young men who lived and died the word courage. But we must also question ourselves about our commitment to that memory. Does it have meaning beyond the misty eyed reminisces of old men? Can we still summon forth the will to perform great deeds in a cause that reaches far beyond our narrow little corner of planet earth in which we live and love and die?

At the moment, the answer to that last question is unknown. But I daresay the fate of the nation rests upon a positive response. For unless we are willing to propel ourselves beyond our own selfish, comfortable existence and find the strength to confront the evil that seeks to destroy us, we are more likely to end up a victim of our own hubris rather than triumphant with the knowledge that we, like the men of D-Day, brought to life the word courage and made it once again something to be lived and felt in our hearts, ever mindful of the sacrifice of those who came before us.

By: Rick Moran at 8:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)


June 1, 1944

Former presidential friend and aide Harry Hopkins says in a new book that President Roosevelt “misled” the people of the United States about the war and has carried on an intimate relationship with another woman for many years.

Those are just two of the shocking revelations contained in What Actually Happened which goes on sale next week at bookstores. Hopkins, whose public falling out with Roosevelt last year made headlines, said he had to write the book because his conscience was bothering him and that reflecting on his tenure at the White House made him see the error of his ways.

Among the surprises in the book:

  • Roosevelt misled the American people about the extent of damage done to our Pacific fleet on December 7 – a cover up that continues to this day. Hopkins didn’t give the exact number of ships damaged or sunk but he said it was “considerably more” than FDR let on and that casualties were in “the thousands.”
  • The former friend also accuses Roosevelt of ignoring intelligence that pointed to an attack on Pearl Harbor. “Roosevelt had in his possession certain intercepted communications that proved the Japanese were about to strike,” writes Hopkins. But Roosevelt’s arrogance prevented him from seeing the truth, says the author.
  • Hopkins also accused the President of failing to save the Philippines from falling into Japanese hands by not resupplying Corrigedor and allowing Bataan to fall without an effort to save it. “The fact is,” writes Hopkins, “There were plans that, if implemented, could have rescued the Philippines while saving our men on Bataan from the cruelty of the Death March.”
  • The former aide also accused Roosevelt of incompetence at the Battle of Anzio. The president’s stubborn insistence on the landing despite knowledge of German strength in area as well as his continued belief in the capabilities of General Lucas led to a bloody, unnecessary stalemate.
  • Hopkins also wrote that FDR deferred much too often to British PM Churchill and that by doing so, forced the US into premature action on several fronts.
  • The most explosive revelation in the book has to do with a mistress the president is allegedly have kept for many years. Hopkins did not name the woman but said she visits the White House when Eleanor is out of town and has been to the Warm Springs resort several times as well.
  • Hopkins called FDR “vindictive” and was someone who carried a grudge. This image is at odds with Roosevelt’s public demeanor of being even tempered and a happy, well adjusted man.

Hopkins has promised to donate some of the proceeds he receives from the book to the widows and orphans of Pearl Harbor…

By: Rick Moran at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (31)


In golf, if you step up to the tee and proceed to hit the ball out of bounds, there is a fine tradition on public link courses that you are allowed a do-over, or “Mulligan” so that you can try to hit the ball a little straighter and not be penalized for your wayward swing.

There’s no such thing in politics, of course…that is, unless you happen to be an inexperienced liberal Democrat campaigning for president who is vouchsafed such luxuries as getting to “clarify” a monumentally stupid statement that demonstrated a dangerous cluelessness about a vital part of the world.

Barack Obama’s statement on the crisis in Lebanon fell as flat as 3 week old champagne in Israel and Lebanon, and probably other places where reformers are seeking to overturn the established order in the Middle East and bring more freedom to the people there. It’s bald faced ignorance about Hizbullah, about the Lebanese people, and what has been going on for more than 2 years in the streets in that tragic country underscores a dangerous naivete on the part of the candidate as well as a shocking lack of perspective on the true nature of groups like Hizbullah and Hamas.

In an eye-brow raising interview with the New York Times David Brooks, Obama was offered a chance to amend his mealy mouthed, pusillanimous statement on Lebanon made over the weekend and substitute instead thoughts that might connect to some semblance of reality regarding Hizbullah and their threat to whatever is left of democracy in Lebanon:

First, Obama’s initial swing that duck hooked clean out of bounds for a 2 stroke penalty:

He called on “all those who have influence with Hezbollah” to “press them to stand down.” Then he declared, “It’s time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.”

I took the candidate to task for his naive belief that “those who have influence with Hizbullah” care one whit what happens to Lebanese society and in fact, were encouraging Hizbullah in their violent efforts to undermine the legitimacy and authority of the elected government.

As for a “diplomatic consensus” on electoral reform I would say to Obama where the hell have you been for 3 fricking years? The Lebanese along with the Saudis, the Syrians, and the Arab League have all been engaged in efforts to reform Lebanon’s archaic electoral laws.

As for the patronage system, have him clean up his homestate’s corruption before he goes over the Lebanon and starts telling them about “corrupt patronage.” Mayor Daley and Governor Blagovetich make the Lebanese look like pikers in that regard.

And what’s with this “New Deal” economic program for Lebanon? He can’t be that dense, can he? When George Bush took office, aid to Lebanon amounted to around $35 million. This year, in keeping with our pledges made at the Paris Roundtable on aid to Lebanon, the President is asking Congress for $770 million which would make Lebanon the third largest recipient of US aid per capita. This is an amount that Iran can’t come close to matching. Clearly, Lebanon has become one of the most important Middle Eastern countries to American interests.

The Roundtable countries pledged upwards of $7 billion to rebuild Lebanese infrastructure pulverized by Israel during the war with Hizbullah. But that aid can’t start flowing until Lebanon has a new government. And Lebanon won’t have a new government until they elect a president. And they won’t elect a president until a new electoral law is passed. And they won’t have a new electoral law until Hizbullah folds up its tents in downtown Beirut and stops threatening to topple the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, joining their fellow countrymen in a national dialogue. And that won’t happen until there is a new government…

And around and around we go with Obama’s laughable ignorance exposed for all to see. He wants to treat Lebanon the same way he would go about reforming a corrupt ward in Chicago. For obvious reasons, this did not sit well with any Lebanese blogger or pundit I have read since he released that statement.

A sample from AK:

Oh the time we wasted by fighting Hizbullah all those years with rockets, invasions of their homes and shutting down their media outlets. If only we had engaged them and their masters in diplomacy, instead of just sitting with them around discussion tables, welcoming them into our parliament, and letting them veto cabinet decisions. If only Obama had shared his wisdom with us before, back when he was rallying with some of our former friends at pro-Palestinian rallies in Chicago. How stupid we were when, instead of developing national consensus with them, we organized media campaigns against Israel on behalf of the impoverished people who voted for them.

Given this reaction, one would think that given the opportunity to play a Mulligan, the candidate would try and make things right.

Guess again:

Right off the bat he reaffirmed that Hezbollah is “not a legitimate political party.” Instead, “It’s a destabilizing organization by any common-sense standard. This wouldn’t happen without the support of Iran and Syria.”

I asked him what he meant with all this emphasis on electoral and patronage reform. He said the U.S. should help the Lebanese government deliver better services to the Shiites “to peel support away from Hezbollah” and encourage the local populace to “view them as an oppressive force.” The U.S. should “find a mechanism whereby the disaffected have an effective outlet for their grievances, which assures them they are getting social services.”

The U.S. needs a foreign policy that “looks at the root causes of problems and dangers.” Obama compared Hezbollah to Hamas. Both need to be compelled to understand that “they’re going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims.” He knows these movements aren’t going away anytime soon (“Those missiles aren’t going to dissolve”), but “if they decide to shift, we’re going to recognize that. That’s an evolution that should be recognized.”

Obama didn’t only hit his Mulligan out of bounds – the ball made a beeline for the clubhouse and hit the President of the Country Club right in the middle of the forehead.

And while the President of the Golf Club can ban Obama for life, we voters aren’t so lucky. We must deal with this head in the clouds, pie in the sky, completely unrealistic and dangerously naive candidate for the rest of the campaign. All we can do is point out his shocking idiocies and hope that the American people see the danger too.

To take his statement apart, he doesn’t think Hizbullah is a “legitimate” political party. This would come as news to the 24 Hizbullah deputies seated in Parliament and the millions of ordinary Lebanese belonging to what an American presidential candidate has just told them is an illegitimate political entity.

Maybe Obama sees them sort of like Republicans in Chicago’s city hall.

But the real head scratchers in Obamas’s statement have to do with his idea of how government should work in Lebanon. He thinks the Lebanese government should deliver “better services” to the Shia – actually believing that bringing national health care or maybe food stamps to the south will “peel away” ordinary Shias and cement their loyalty to the government. He also thinks we should make the Shias see Hizbullah as an “oppressive force.”

Brooks thinks Obama has been well briefed on Lebanon – that’s a pile of crap. First of all, the writ of Lebanese law does not run in the south – no services, no government officials, just Hizbullah. Perhaps Obama never heard the expression relating to Hizbullah “a state within a state.” How, pray tell, is Obama going to get government services to a people when the terror bosses of Hizbullah control access to the population? How is he going to “peel away” Shias while showing Hizbullah to be “oppressive?”

Of all the platitudinous nonsense ever uttered by Obama, this comes close to taking the cake.

Well, until he said “The U.S. should “find a mechanism whereby the disaffected have an effective outlet for their grievances, which assures them they are getting social services.”

Wha? Who? WTF? The Shias already have an a very fine mechanism that is “an effective outlet” for their grievances. It’s called Hizbullah. And make no mistake, being funded to the tune of $300 million a year by Iran allows the party to set up an entire social welfare infrastructure that addresses the basic needs of the Shia in a way that the Lebanese government never did. Sorry, Barry but if you would return to earth with the rest of us mortals, you would realize your half assed opinions about the situation in Lebanon can only do damage to the very people we are seeking to help.

It only gets more bizarrely stupid the more he opens his mouth. No liberal panacea for what ails Lebanon would be complete without the “root causes” meme – as in, “Gee, if only the terrorists grew up with good food, shelter, heath care, and a 37’ Sony Trinitron, their hearts would melt and the world would be a fine place, indeed.” He believes both Hamas and Hizbullah “need to understand” that they are going down a “blind alley” with violence that “weakens their legitimate (gulp!) claims.”

Can Obama pick and choose which “legitimate claim” Hamas might want to pursue? Maybe they don’t want peace. Maybe they view their #1 legitimate claim to be the destruction of the Jewish state and death to every jew they can lay their hands on. How now, Barry? Will you help Hamas pursue that legitimate claim?

Hizbullah is a slightly different story but only because you can vaguely place their “legitimate claims” in the context of standing up for the Shia underclass – something that this past week’s violence revealed as a sham as Michael Young put so brilliantly in this piece. Basically, Young believes that Hizbullah’s attempted power grab this past week opened a schism between the Shias and the rest of Lebanese society that has made them more isolated than they were.

To even speak of “legitimacy” of claims by Hamas or Hizbullah is outrageously naive. Obama keeps insisting he has a “realistic” outlook on our enemies. And while he makes some of the right noises about Iran and Syria, he more often comes up with ludicrous statements like this that call into question his fitness for the presidency.

Lebanon is not some senate district in Chicago where someone can jump in and butt some heads together, shower a little money, and talk of about economic development as if it were just a question of opening a spigot somewhere and out would pour goodwill and prosperity.

Our friends in Lebanon are very worried about this man becoming president. They fear he will sell them down the river in order to get a peace deal with Iran or broker a Middle East peace with Syria and Israel. The temptation will be great to do so no matter who is president – McCain or Obama – to give in to Syria’s demands on Lebanon and leave the Lebanese people to the tender mercy of Hizbullah and Gangster Assad’s henchmen.

So far, it doesn’t appear to me that Obama has grasped the essential truth of what is at stake in Lebanon and may not see much wrong with abandoning the tiny country to its own, tragic fate.

And in the game of nations, no Mulligans are allowed.

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


Mainlining the internet as I do both for my paying gigs at PJM and AT and as someone who just enjoys reading about history and politics, you can’t help but marvel at the varying emotions brought to the surface by Barack Obama’s candidacy.

I’ve made fun of his devoted followers in the past on this site, largely because they’ve got a great big red bullseye tatooed on their chest – easy pickings as they say. Having that much faith in any politician would have caused our Founders (George Washington excluded) much discomfort and worry. The men who sat through that long hot summer of 1787 in Philadelphia in order to bring forth our Constitution had absolutely no illusions about power and an individual’s desire to exercise it. Their greatest fear was that the “mob” would fall in love with one man, blinding themselves to the danger inherent in concentrating power in the hands of the few. Their wisdom has worn well through the ages.

But there is no denying the enormous attraction that candidate Obama brings to the table. He has that incredibly rare gift of being able to inspire people. His rhetoric on the stump touches something deep inside – so American, so seductive to believe that he really is “an agent of change” or that he is somehow a different politician who can bridge the chasm between the races, between ideologies, between all those who feel cut off from the body politic.

I think Obama is sincere in his desire to accomplish these miracles. The problem, of course, is that there is absolutely nothing in his past – absolutely nothing – that would give anyone not taken in by his post-racial, post ideological mantra any hope whatsoever that he has the first clue as to how to go about such a task.

Does intent count for anything? I am dubious. And I am much more concerned that perhaps the candidate himself doesn’t realize – as shown in his remarks about voter’s clinging to values rather than voting what he perceives to be their interests – just how hard his kind of “change” is going to be.

Are we to believe it just an accident of history that Obama, trained as a street organizer using the template supplied by radical leftist Saul Alinsky, would have so many radicals dotting his present and past associations? Not just Wright, of course, but also the Weather Underground bomber William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dorhn as well as radical Arabs,, radical racialists like Reverend James Meeks, and the real lunatic fringe represented by Father Michael Pfleger, a fixture in radical Chicago politics for many years who “counseled” Obama prior to his presser on Tuesday.

These are not just run of the mill, starry eyed idealists. These are gimlet eyed radicals with decades of experience in the political trenches who are out to make a revolution – a leftist revolution that would turn America into something unrecognizable to the vast majority of us. It is immaterial whether Obama shares their beliefs regarding “change” – a word that takes on an entirely different meaning when keeping in mind the kinds of people Obama has been hanging around with for much of his adult life. The radicals, too, want “change” after all and have developed the strategies to mask their true intent while going about the business of turning America upside down.

Obama almost certainly dabbled in radical leftist politics in the years prior to his run for the US Senate. A blatant tell is that some of his rhetoric reflects a post-modern view of the world where substance takes a back seat to intent and meaning plays second fiddle to an interpretive dialogue with his audience. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” (from a poem by a left-wing-radical-feminist-bisexual poet named June Jordanis) a good example of this interpretive speech where Obama invites the audience to take their own meaning from the words.

As a rhetorical device, it is clever without being gimmicky. But as an indication of what kind of president Obama would make it is as obtuse as you can get without falling into gibberish.

But it doesn’t answer the question of just how radical is Obama? Not very, in my opinion. He is probably attracted to the radical’s certainty and their sense of outrage but beyond that, Obama is much too pragmatic to cater to their whims or listen very closely to their ideas regarding “changing” America. In this respect, Obama would not be leading any kind of crusade to turn America into some kind of socialist paradise. The most statist of proposals – national health care – is actually less draconian than Hillary’s mandate-laden, IRS enforcing disaster of a plan.

And we conservatives better get used to the idea of some kind of national health insurance. The people are “wild for it” as Abe Lincoln said about war and with an almost certain Democratic majority in both houses, it seems a foregone conclusion that Republicans will be fighting a rear guard action on the issue.

As for the rest of Obama’s program, his raising taxes won’t help the economy much and he will be constrained by enormous federal deficits in implementing some of his more problematic social programs. In this respect, his statist tendencies will be blunted by the reality of the budget. Good news for conservatives who will no doubt be surprised that Obama will turn out to be something of a budget hawk – if we can defeat any of his ideas to raise taxes across the board. We know from experience that any additional revenue received through an increase in taxes never, ever goes to reducing the deficit. Only budget cuts will accomplish that goal along with, as history also teaches us, a healthy, growing economy which will automatically put more tax dollars in the goverment’s coffers.

Where Obama worries me most is on national security and foreign policy matters. Here is where his inexperience and addle headed idealism could really cause problems. But he won’t skedaddle from Iraq nor will he be able to effectively engage Iran or Syria. Those are pipe dreams as is any notion of a peace deal between Hamas and Israel. Once again, Obama’s lofty rhetoric will be brought back to earth by reality.

I don’t buy the proposition that Obama would give up on the War on Terror. He will shift resources around and he will probably rename the conflict but beyond that what’s he going to do? Leave the United States wide open to attack? Not likely. And any hint that he would do so by Republicans would be seen for what it is; an attempt to use fear to get votes.

In short, an Obama presidency would not be the end of the world. Conservatives won’t like it. It is doubtful that a President Obama would be able to reach across the aisle very often or know what to do even if he does. He has not shown much inclination in the past to engage in bi-partisanship and campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, I doubt whether he would accomplish much anyway.

Nor will there be a magical racial reconciliation – not as long as the media keeps giving air time to the likes of Sharpton, Wright, and that crew of racialist demogagues. And Obama will probably turn out to be as partisan as any president in the past.

But the republic will survive. It has survived much worse and thrived. Even though an Obama presidency will almost certainly not live up to his rhetoric, those of us who take a realistic view of politicians and the presidency will probably not be too disappointed. His devoted followers may be another story.

But they too, will almost certainly bow to the wisdom of our founders who detested radical change and built into the system of government itself the mechanisms by which change is effected only through careful consideration of all viewpoints and a healthy respect for the minority.

By: Rick Moran at 8:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)


Once a Catholic, always a Catholic – that’s me, alright. Despite the fact I have long since left the Church, God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost (changed to “Spirit” in my youth; so much for the immutability of the divine), organized religion, and the idea of the supernatural altogether, I am still a Catholic.

I think like a Catholic. My worldview has been shaped – though not dominated – by Catholicism. In this, the nuns, the priests, the brothers, and probably a monk or two have left their mark on my intellectual, social, and spiritual development. And I will thank them for it till my dying breath. There is great beauty to be found in the strands of logic and insightful, penetrating analysis of humanity by Catholic thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, and other Catholic theologians and philosophers.

Conversely, this makes me a lousy atheist. I don’t hate people of faith although making fun of them is sometimes too much of a temptation to resist. Nor do I see religion as “an opiate of the masses” as Marx and Barack Obama (“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed…”) view this all too human phenomena. Belief in a supreme being does not disqualify someone from engaging in rational thought otherwise, although the contradictions can get hairy at times. To this day, Catholic thinkers have, for the most part enriched our inner dialogue as we struggle with the most basic questions of right and wrong.

After 12 years of Catholic education, it is hard to slough off habits of thought that force me to see the world through a prism shaped by my Catholic upbringing. My parents were what used to be called “good Catholics.” They went to church every Sunday with their 10 children in tow (drawing little amazement from the other boomer families made up of 5,6,8, or more kids). They gave us a Catholic education through high school and college if desired. We followed Catholic rituals and practices. (To this day I will not eat a fish stick thanks to meatless Fridays during Lent.)

They say you can always tell what a man believes and how he thinks by going through his library. I challenge anyone to make that adage good in my father’s case. It would be hard to glean anything specific of my father’s politics or religious beliefs from the astonishing breadth of philosophical tracts that lined the shelves of his 3,000 book library. In this, he did the 10 of us a favor by not foisting any particular political or moral view of the world on us. Free to explore ideas from Marx to Martin Neimoller, the Moran children grew up free thinkers – just as my parents intended.

That said, as I grew to adulthood and rejected organized religion, I nevertheless still thought like a Catholic even though I didn’t live like one. In fact, I trace my conversion to conservatism based largely on the fact that in many respects, Catholic teachings line up very nicely with conservative principles although the Jeffersonian ideal of liberty doesn’t translate very well. But in the establishment of a moral and just society – one being just as important as the other – conservatism and Catholicism seemed to me a match made in, well, heaven.

That is why I feel it necessary to defend the Pope and to some extent the Catholic faith from this kind of attack:

“Whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God’s infallible wing man here on Earth, lock away the kids,” said Maher, comparing the Catholic Church to the polygamist cult authorities raided in Texas last week.

“I’d like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult,” Maher said. “Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats.”

That was Bill Maher speaking shortly before the Pope came to the United States in case you missed it. Maher continued to put his foot in it:
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Bill, you shouldn’t be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult.” For one thing, altar boys can’t even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands, all over the world. Cults get raided, religions get parades. How does the Catholic Church get away with all of their buggery? Volume, volume, volume!

If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If have a billion, they call you ‘Pope.’ It’s like, if you can’t pay your mortgage, you’re a deadbeat. But if you can’t pay a million mortgages, you’re BearStearns and we bail you out. And that is who the Catholic Church is: the BearStearns of organized pedophilia—too big, too fat. When the current pope was in his previous Vatican job as John Paul’s Dick Cheney, he wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the Statute of Limitations ran out. And that’s the Church’s attitude: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,’ which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion. But just remember one thing: if the Pope was—instead of a religious figure—merely the CEO of a nationwide chain of day care centers, where thousands of employees had been caught molesting kids and then covering it up, he’d be arrested faster than you can say ‘who wants to touch Mr. Wiggle?’

Now Maher is paid to be a clown so perhaps we should ascribe his outburst more to the fact that he was just doing his job shocking the sensibilities of his bourgeoisie audience who are titillated when an anti-establishmentarian like Maher sticks it to an icon like the Catholic Church.

Maher was forced to apologize about the Nazi crack – a patently untrue charge that anyone with a passing familiarity with the battle in Nazi Germany between the Church and Hitler would never have made. The Pope, as a young Joseph Ratzinger, was forced by law to join the Hitler youth despite Hitler’s signed assurances (the Concordant of 1933) that the Catholic Youth Organization would remain an option for families who did not wish their children to join a secular group.

Predictably, Maher was unapologetic about his other “charges” including his weird interpretation of the letter sent by Ratzinger to all the Bishops of the Church when he was Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Maher grossly misrepresented the contents of the 2001 letter then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to the bishops. He did not tell them to “keep the sex abuse of minors of State of Limitations ran out.” The letter clarified that the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had jurisdiction according to the Church’s law (canon law) to try clerics concerning abuses of the sacraments, and also, as the letter put it, a “delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue [thou shall not commit adultery] with a minor below the age of 18 years.”

What Maher’s criticism fails to take into account is that not everywhere in the world where the comedian’s attitude toward Catholics dominates is the Church protected by a document like the US Constitution. In fact, Ratzinger’s concerns that the Church be allowed to deal with pedophile priests only in extremely narrow circumstances was protection for the Church in those places where authorities share Mr. Maher’s less than expansive view of religious freedom. There are dozens of countries in the world that would take Mr. Maher’s supercilious suggestion that the Catholic hierarchy should be locked up to heart and use either real or trumped up charges of abuse by priests as an excuse to destroy the independence of the Church from government.

The Catholic Church operates in a world that is by and large not very friendly to it. But clearly the abuse scandals here and abroad as well as the actions of individual bishops to cover it up, pay off the victims, stonewall secular authorities, allow pedophiles to continue their abuse from posting to posting knowing their propensity to “sin,” – all of this dark chapter in the Church’s history must be aired out and exposed (with due diligence made to respect the privacy of victims) before the breach that has opened up between the hierarchy and the congregation is closed.

Does this validate Maher’s over the top, exaggerated, hateful rant? As any good satirist, Maher has taken the germ of truth and blown it up into impossibly overstated and wildly embroidered bombast – all for a few laughs and the notoriety that comes to those who deliberately offend people in order to get attention; much like a 5 year old who tells his parents he hates them.

Perhaps Mr. Maher believes religion should be regulated by government. He doesn’t say so outright but the threat inherent in his diatribe is clear. Is that simply part of his shtick? Or does this angry atheist actually believe that government should find a way to “regulate” against these sorts of outrages?

To place those institutional sins in the context of the modern Church is difficult. The Pope, in his visit to the US has tried to reconcile the Church’s interests with those of the victims – pleasing some and not others:

It is in the context of this hope, born of God’s love and fidelity, that I acknowledge the pain which the church in America has experienced as the result of sexual abuse of minors,” Benedict said.

“No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention.”

During the Mass, the pope said the church has worked “to deal honestly and fairly with this tragic situation” and to ensure that children are safe.

That last has come to pass only recently and ignores the years of neglect prior to the last few years of the John Paul II pontificate and Benedict’s ascension. This doesn’t erase the problem and much more needs to be done. But it does make a start that any fair minded person would have to admit that while long overdue is a necessary and vital step on the road to reconciliation.

I have expressed my admiration in the past for this Pope and his remarkably supple intellect with its subtlety and depth. But this is a case where the Pope needs to show leadership and compassion – a test he has passed to this point. What he does when he returns to Rome will determine whether his American flock continues to distrust their bishops. They certainly have reason to – a fact not lost on this Pope who will seek to heal the breach caused by the abuse scandals and make the Church whole again.

By: Rick Moran at 7:49 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

CATEGORY: History, Media

This is the very first thing I read after getting out of bed and before the coffee was ready. Needless to say, it was an eye-opener:

In his portrayal of our second president, Paul Giamatti creates a man perpetually dissatisfied, disgusted by the preening ambition of politics even as he is infected by it. If his relentless crankiness was a bit hard for some of us to take in early episodes, in the second half of the series it makes much more sense. While exhorting angry men to throw off the shackles of tyranny offers many opportunities for rhetorical fabulousness, setting up a new government is a bureaucratic nightmare, with oversized personalities disagreeing over things both petty and fundamental. George Washington (David Morse) so quickly tired of the infighting among his Cabinet and vagaries of public opinion that he stepped down from the presidency after a single term. “I know now what it is like to be disliked,” he says to Adams, his perpetually disliked vice president.

I literally had to read it three times before I convinced myself that it wasn’t the lack of coffee or the fact that sleep was still in my eyes which may have caused me to see something that wasn’t there. I briefly considered the possibility of an hallucinogenic flashback which was causing the letters on the page to re-arrange themselves into words that were not actually printed but imagined.

After dismissing all rational and irrational reasons for anyone above the age of 7 to make such a gargantuan error, the horror finally engulfed me; the Los Angeles Times has hired a 6 year old to write for them – a cost cutting measure sure to please their new owner Sam Zell but would probably not sit well with anyone who possesses an IQ above 60.

I felt compelled to send the following email to the author of this piece, a lass named Mary McNamara:

My guess is that you have received 5,000 emails telling you what every 1st grader in the United States knows – that Washington served two terms as president.

Oh well, not everyone can be a reporter. To take liberties with the quote from John Houseman in Paper Chase:

“Ms. McNamara, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a journalist.”

Rick Moran

A word here about the aforementioned Zell, owner of the Tribune Company as well as the Chicago Cubs baseball team. When last we left our hard charging, foul mouthed, bullying, media tycoon, he was busy trying to make himself the most unpopular business executive in the history of Chicago by proposing that the holy shrine of Wrigley Field (home of the hapless but lovable Chicago Cubs) undergo a slight name change. It seems that Sam wanted to open bidding among corporations for the honor of having their company name attached to the ballpark as is the custom for some other ballyards. Such elevating names as “Progressive (insurance) Park” in Cleveland or “US Cellular Field” across town, home to the White Sox, has garnered the owners hundreds of millions of dollars.

That Zell could be so ignorant of the passion that even non-baseball fans have for Wrigley Field in Chicago does not bode well for his efforts to resurrect the Tribune media empire. A poll taken by the Sun Times showed that 53% of fans surveyed would never attend a game at Wrigley Field if it were renamed.

So I wouldn’t put anything past Sam Zell. Perhaps he cut the fact checking department at the Times. Perhaps he had all reference materials like dictionaries and encyclopedias removed – or burned to save money on electricity. Maybe instead of 6 year olds, he hired J-school graduates who may be more expensive than children but demonstrate a similar understanding of the world and current events.

Of course, Patterico weighed in on this gaffe. The long suffering blogger who has forced himself over the years to read the Times while the rest of us riffed off of his excellent analysis of their foibles searches desperately for an explanation beyond pure, unadulterated, sublime ignorance on the part of McNamara:

Straining to give them the benefit of the doubt, I wonder: does the miniseries somehow portray Washington as having served only one term? I haven’t seen it, but I doubt it. [UPDATE: Make that “seriously doubt it.” See the UPDATE below.]

Lefty blogger Steve Smith, who tipped me to this, is beside himself with amazement at how they could get such a basic fact wrong. Go his post for his amusing cries of disgust, which conclude with this:

It’s enough to make a lefty sympathetic to Patterico. Does the fact-checker at the Times have to regularly drink water out of the toilet or lose their back teeth from subsisting on a diet of rocks to get that job?

I don’t know, Steve. But I hear they use the paper to housebreak him.

In defense of McNamara, she is, after all, an entertainment reporter. Her knowledge of shows I’ve never heard of and would never watch in a million years is extensive so perhaps she has filled her brain with so many facts about horrible television shows that it pushed out other, less relevant information like history and such. Or maybe important facts like the number of terms Washington served as president just oozed out of her ears while watching all of the drivel she evidently enjoys viewing to prepare for her scratching out her deep thoughts about a medium that insults the intelligence of anyone with half a brain who partakes in its idiocies.

Then again, she was writing about the success of the best thing on TV I’ve seen since Band of Brothers; the John Adams miniseries which is surprisingly literate, achingly accurate, and marvelously performed by Paul Giamatti in the title role. But if like many under the age of 30, she gets her knowledge of history from films and TV, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us that she hasn’t a clue about how many terms Washington served as president.

As of 7:30 AM Pacific time, the error is still there, standing out like a huge zit on the face of a major metropolitan newspaper whose credibility – already in the pits – has been strained to the breaking point. One can imagine the fate of poor Ms. McNamara once Sam Zell hears of this stupidity. If I were her, I would make sure my resume is up to date and perhaps even look into that editor’s job at the Jackson Hole News.

At least if she makes a ridiculous error there, she won’t have more than a million Sunday readers and countless blogs pointing a finger in her direction and laughing like a baboon over her imbecility.

By: Rick Moran at 9:52 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)


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

I hope you enjoy it.

This post originally appeared April 18, 2005

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

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

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

To bad it didn’t quite happen that way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Well we’re living here in Allentown
And they’re closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line
Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers in the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow
And we’re living here in Allentown

But the restlessness was handed down
And it’s getting very hard to stay
(Words and Music by Billy Joel, 1982)

Once upon a time, American industrial might was unchallenged the world over. It wasn’t necessarily because our companies were any better or because our workers were more productive. It was because in order to build an 8 million man army and all the weapons and equipment that it required to defeat two of the 20th century’s most powerful militaries in Germany and Japan, we had to build the industrial infrastructure that went along with it.

Plants sprung up like grass across what is now known as the rust belt – an arc of cities from Chicago up through the shores of Lake Erie in New York. And following World War II, when there was hardly a stick or a stone left standing in Germany, France, Great Britain, and Japan, the US enjoyed a near monopoly in industries like steel, textiles, automobiles, and rubber while being able to make for ourselves a wealth of consumer products that became the envy of the world. Household electronics, appliances, furniture, clothing, – everything was made in America because the rest of the world’s economies were prostrate as a result of the massive damage caused by the world being at war.

The post war world we helped shape was a much freer world with a big reduction in trade barriers that helped the devastated economies of Europe recover more quickly than anyone had dared hope. This was a part of the Marshall Plan that integrated the European economy so that French wheat for instance could be exchanged for German steel with little in the way of protective tariffs to stand in the way.

It was a remarkably stable system – as it was designed to be since one of the major goals of the Marshall Plan was to get Europe back on its feet economically as quickly as possible so that the various European Communist parties would not be able to get much of a toehold in the post war governments on the continent.

This ridiculously simplified thumbnail sketch of post war economic history nevertheless highlights the absolute dominance of American manufacturing at the time. The Marshall Plan was a success because we allowed it to be by virtually guaranteeing economic stability with our dollars and regional security with our military.

For more than a quarter century following the war, US industries were unchallenged. The world used American steel to build its bridges and skyscrapers. They drove American cars. They bought American textiles. They purchased American consumer goods.

The world was America’s oyster and it would always be that way, right?

Not hardly.

That same world we built from the ashes of World War II began to fall apart in the 1970’s thanks to a variety of factors largely beyond our control. The blast furnaces of Japan, Germany, and France – much newer and more efficient than the aging plants in America – were out-competing us in our own country. With the oil shocks of the mid 70’s, America discovered Japanese cars. Korean textiles flooded our markets – the same Korea we had rescued from Communism a scant two decades earlier. The world was pounding on our door wanting to sell us everything from new fangled stereos and TV’s to shoes, to appliances, to auto parts and there was little we were doing to stop them.

Could we have halted the decline of our industrial base? Tariffs no doubt would have saved some jobs – for how long is anyone’s guess. And of course, the subsequent loss of jobs as a result of retaliation by the rest of the world when they raised their tariffs would have cost a lot of jobs also.

The point is simple; the world was changing. And American business, grown fat and happy under the old system, was too slow to respond. When companies tried to adjust they invariably ran smack into furious opposition from unions – understandably so since the first thing companies tried to do was cut wages and benefits while laying off thousands. Unions are not in the business of seeing their membership diminish or standing by while their members’ wage packages were slashed. Hence, a ruinous conflict between labor and management ensued that, in the end, destroyed them all.

One by one, the Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania steel towns, so dependent on one company’s economic viability, succumbed to the overseas onslaught. It wasn’t just steel and it didn’t just happen in a few states. The textile industry in the south was also devastated. Rubber mills in Ohio, auto plants in Detroit, parts suppliers all over the Midwest, and all the satellite industries that supplied them began to disappear from the landscape.

The consequences of this catastrophe are still being felt today. But the immediate problem was in those communities that were made into ghost towns by the closing of the town’s main employer. Hopelessness descended like a black cloud over hundreds of towns and cities. It was this hopelessness that Billy Joel was writing about when he penned his anthem to the death of American industrial hegemony in “Allentown.”

Well we’re waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved
So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke
And chromium steel
And we’re waiting here in Allentown
But they’ve taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away

This is the essence of Barack Obama’s critique of the American middle class. It is the betrayal by nameless, soulless corporations, unions – the “system” – and has led to bitterness and frustration.

Or has it?

What Joel is singing about is loss. It was a given in those towns that if you graduated from high school, a job would be waiting for you at the mill. And if you worked hard, put in your 35 years, you could retire on a decent pension free from want.

What was lost wasn’t jobs or a company or even the unions; it was a loss of faith, of certainty in life. Obama, as Marc Ambinder points out, was not necessarily wrong in his analysis because he recognized that in those towns that have failed to adjust in the interim by encouraging a much more diverse economic base, there is indeed a sense of things going off the rails and never being put right.

In Obama’s version, working class voters in the Midwest have been inured to promises of economic redress because both Democrats and Republicans promise to help and never do; since government is a source of distress in their lives, they organize their politics around more stable institutions, like churches or cultural practices, like hunting. The outlet for their economic duress is in lashing out, in giving voice to their grievances; In Obama’s formulation, Republicans are especially eager and willing to exploit cultural trigger points.


The elite media and most Democrats will say… “yeah.. .So? Obama is simply describing world as we know it.” His opponents and people who are inclined to view Obama as an elitist will say, “he is dismissing the culture and religion of working class whites.”

Indeed, the responses to Obama’s words have proven (to Obama allies) a part of his argument. Conservatives are already portraying Obama as liberal, elite, out of touch with the values of ordinary Americans—exactly the type of legerdemain that Obama was pointing to.

So there’s a debate to be had about substance.

But the politics are unquestionably dangerous for a candidate whose appeal depends on him transcending traditional political adjectives like “liberal” or “elite.”

Obama’s problem is that he is applying a classic deterministic analysis to what is, at bottom, a question of faith. Indeed, see if you don’t recognize the standard liberal argument in this verse from “Allentown:”

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face

Well I’m living here in Allentown
And it’s hard to keep a good man down
But I won’t be getting up today

And it’s getting very hard to stay
And we’re living here in Allentown

Obama ecapsulated, his ideas already put to song in 1982, complete with the ubiquitous “they” (conservatives? Republicans?) throwing a flag in the face of voters (cultural values like guns and God) and a bitterness that is so debilitating that it keeps them from getting up in the morning – or voting their own economic interest.

Ezra Klein, in defending Obama, inadvertently fleshes out this deterministic view of the Middle Class:

I’m not really sure what the big deal over Obama’s comments in SF is supposed to be (save that the media and Clinton and McCain are saying they will be a big deal, and thus making them a big deal), but Marc Ambinder has the least hysterical rundown I’ve seen, and does the best job separating the substance of the remarks from their expected political impact. As far as I can tell, few actually find the argument underlying Obama’s statement controversial. It’s a pretty standard thesis, and has been delivered, in various forms, by everyone from John McCain to Bill Clinton. It’s that the way Obama phrased it is politically damaging, particularly the inclusion of guns and religion (though I think the crucial ambiguity in his comments is that he’s talking about guns and religion in their role as conveyors of political identity and social unrest, rather than in their more natural roles of shooting at things and believing in God). Obama’s has fired back, but it’s one of the depressing realities of our media landscape that it is both a) totally predictable that they will devote hundreds of hours to this story in the next few days and b) utterly unimaginable that they will give the candidate 3 minutes and 44 seconds to clarify his comments. And why would they? That might kill the story!

It sounds to me as if Mr. Klein is whistling past the graveyard in his expectation of how this story will play out. He may be right but he is dead wrong when he tries to tie McCain and Hillary to Obama’s analysis – as if either had gone so far as to ascribe the closely held political and religious beliefs of ordinary Americans in such casually dismissive terms.

No one finds the remarks themselves “controversial?” There is no one that I have read on this subject who has been more articulate, more analytically spot on, or more passionate in their denunciation of the substance of Obama’s comments than Allah and Ed at Hot Air.


What’s most offensive? The condescension displayed here by the intelligentsia’s candidate of choice? The sheer breadth of the stereotype, which would send Team Obama screaming from the rooftops if a white politician drew a similarly sweeping caricature of blacks? The crude quasi-Marxist reductionism of his analysis, which he first introduced in his speech on race vis-a-vis the root causes of whites’ “resentment” — namely, exploitation by the bourgeoisie in the form of corporations and D.C. lobbyists? Or is it the shocking inclusion of religion, of all things, in the litany of sins he recites? What on earth is that doing there, given His Holiness’s repeated invocations of the virtues of faith on the trail? Note the choice of verb, too. Why not just go the whole nine yards and call it the opiate of the masses?

What makes this so breathtaking is the mindless, casual way in which Obama reveals his snobbishness and elitism. We saw hints of this from Michelle Obama, in her assertions about never being proud of her country until her husband ran for President. (Soren Dayton has more on this.) We had not seen it from Obama himself in such a blatant and unmistakable manner. The matter-of-fact style in which he spoke this shows the unthinking contempt he has for people he has never engaged — an acceptance of stereotypes without questioning them that shows his own bigotry, not to mention foolishness and poor judgment.

Asked and answered, Mr. Klein.

Others on the left defend Obama’s deterministic analysis by pointing to the response by the right as evidence that he is correct:

If I were advising the Obama campaign, I’d actually embrace the controversial quote. Of course folks in small towns are clinging to their guns; they’ve been led to believe the state is coming to take away their 2nd Amendment rights. Of course they cling to their faith; given the economic turmoil in their communities, they have to cling to institutions that give them strength and hope. Of course they’re bitter; while millionaires and wealthy corporations have been well represented in corridors of power for as long as they can remember, they’ve been working harder, making less, and feeling like they’ve been left behind.

That’s not an un-American sentiment. That’s not reflective of poor values. That’s not elitism. That’s reality.

I’m sorry but I must disagree. Perhaps only liberals “cling” to religion. Most people of faith I know (I’m an atheist) embrace their faith, they welcome it into their lives. It is just plain wrong – in any reality – to say that Middle Class voters are scared little puppies cowering in their economically devastated communities, being swayed by the hypnotic fear mongering of Republicans with regard to guns (no one has to be scared into believing anything when liberals themselves constantly denigrate and mercilessly mock those who exercise their right to bear arms).

And Obama’s contention that Republicans jack up fear of “the other” to get votes presupposes that the Middle Class has no strong feelings about border security – that they are being manipulated by conservatives who use the issue to gin up racist feelings and not because people are passionate about the subject. This isn’t elitist thinking? This isn’t holding people in utter contempt who disagree with you?

Spare me.

The question isn’t whether these issues spill over into the realm of politics. Of course they do. The problem is Obama and much of the left believes people are so ignorant and easily swayed by GOP appeals to their values that the reason they don’t vote Democratic is that they are fooled into voting otherwise. In other words, these bitter, frustrated voters can be had simply by “throwing a flag in their face.”

Not recognizing why this is monumentally wrong is why the Democrats have such a hard time winning elections. The GOP connect(ed)s with voters on an emotional level while the Democrats refuse to engage. It is not by ginning up fear that the GOP succeed(ed)s it is because the party doesn’t dismiss their values as some kind of mental disorder to be cured by “right thinking.” You’re a stupid yahoo if you own a gun. You’re a superstitious moron if you take religion (and its teachings on abortion and gay marriage) seriously. You’re a racist hater if you don’t allow unfettered access to America by illegal aliens.

And the left wonders why people don’t vote for them?

Even if this flap blows over for Obama (and I believe it will), I am quite confident the issue will rear its head again sometime down the road. He can’t help it. It’s who he is. And because of that, the next time Obama shows his contempt for the voters by uttering some manner of elitist nonsense, a similar blow up will occur.

Only next time, he may not be able to get out of the box he puts himself in so easily.

By: Rick Moran at 8:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)

Pro Cynic linked with Stuck in my head...
Maggie's Farm linked with Monday Afternoon Links...

Even a rabid sports fan like myself recognizes the Olympics for what they are – a plot by starry eyed one worlders, striped pants internationalists, filthy rich do-gooders, and anachronistic royalists to take over the world and force their saccharine sweet, brotherhood of man crapola on the rest of us.

I’m kidding, of course – mostly. The part about filthy rich dilettantes with nothing else to do, putting on an athletic extravaganza for their own amusement is not far from the truth. The International Olympic Committee has shown through the years that the fake European royalty, the decadent descendants of fabulously wealthy European commercial houses, and the group of genuine shady characters who are the real power in that body believe they have a gold mine and plan on milking the games for all they’re worth.

And to give the lie to the very idea of an “Olympic spirit” that the IOC and the “Olympic Movement” try to foist upon unsuspecting rubes and leftists the world over, the entire point of the games has been lost – gentleman (and gentle lady) amateurs competing in an atmosphere of competition free from politics and other mundane considerations.

The Olympic torch relay is part of the lie. Forced by the prospect of thousands of pro-Tibet protestors who might get violent, San Francisco authorities changed the route of the relay at the last minute, running the relay through streets empty of onlookers thus defeating the whole purpose of the exercise in the first place.

That didn’t stop one enterprising American athlete from ruining the day even more for the Chinese:

A New Yorker bearing the Olympic torch staged a rogue anti-China protest Wednesday even as cops took extreme measures to thwart demonstrators in San Francisco.

As she ran with the flame, Majora Carter, 41, a South Bronx environmental activist, whipped out a small Tibetan flag to condemn China’s human rights abuses in the Himalayan province.

Carter, who hid the flag in her sleeve, was quickly hustled off the route by surprised police who seized the torch.

The image of American police stifling free speech at the behest of communists made Allah’s blood boil:
[O]ne of the American cops shows her how they do it in Beijing, giving her a gratuitous shove into the crowd to keep her away from the communist propaganda pageant she was momentarily a part of. She’s wrong on the law, to be sure; her free speech rights don’t entitle her to violate the contract she signed before participating. But watching U.S. cops enforce Chinese policy is so disgusting, Newsom should have simply canceled the event lest he be forced to do it.

Free speech is one issue that makes the Olympics a cesspool of corrupted ideals. How about the idea that the athletes should compete solely for the thrill of the competition with no thought of renumeration?

The fact that almost all the western athletes who will be competing are being paid by their home grown sports federation (which usually receives its money from the nation’s Olympic Committee) means that the very meaning of the word “amateur” has been corrupted beyond recognition. And from the beginning of the revival of the games in 1896, politics has been a constant companion.

When Eastern European athletes began to outshine the west due to superior training, a drug regimen that built superior bodies, and the fact that their athletes were given make believe jobs by the state so that they could train full time, the US and other western countries decided to change the way they approached the Games.

While athletes from the west were previously struggling to combine training and making a living, most western Olympic Committees made a decision to adopt the communist model. Of course, the state didn’t give the athletes make believe jobs. It was corporations who, in return for hiring top flight athletes they could feature in commercials, paid the US Olympic Committee so that the company could become an “official sponsor” of the games.

The point being, of course, that these guys are about as amateur and pure as a hooker on Welles street in Chicago. These days, the Olympics don’t even require the fig leaf. They openly encourage professional athletes to compete. Most of the world class track and field athletes have been making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and a gold medal will set them up for life. Olympic soccer uses professional league players on the national teams. Others who participate in lesser known sports receive a healthy stipend from their sport’s governing body in order to train constantly for the big show that occurs every 4 years.

As a sports fan, I could care less if they pay the players or not. But as a former hopelessly incurable romantic, there was something to be said for an event that brought the world together for a fortnight to celebrate athletics and compete peacefully. One of the most cherished memories of my youth is watching American Dave Wottle on TV round the last turn of the track in the 800 Meter finals in Munich and with a spectacular final kick in the last 25 meters, overtake the Russian to win an improbable gold medal.

Those were the Olympics marred by the death of 11 Israeli athletes who were kidnapped and murdered at the hands of Black September. In spite of pleadings from many around the world, the crotchety head of the IOC at the time, Avery Brundage, declared that the show must go on.

And the show has gone on despite boycotts, corruption (bribe taking in connection with the 2002 Winter Games), and the discovery that the East German teams that garnered such an extraordinary number of medals featured not only blood doping and steroid use, but also taking the transgender revolution to new heights by turning women into men, feeding their female athletes steroids when they were as young as 11. Two coaches were later found guilty of giving steroids to athletes and not telling them what they were (they told them they were “vitamins”).

All of these issues with the Olympics pales in comparison to the straitjacket the IOC puts athletes in so that any expression of individual political thought is forbidden. The most famous example was at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics when two black American athletes – John Carlos and Tommie Smith – who medaled in the 200 meter dash, raised their clenched fist salute to black power during the playing of the national anthem during the medal ceremony.

One might question the gesture but to punish them by sending them home and stripping them of their medals was so foreign to our idea of freedom of speech that it raises the question of why we should participate in such a hypocritical and oppressive event.

And that goes double for the Olympics in China:

Athletes who display Tibetan flags at Olympic venues — including in their own rooms — could be expelled from this summer’s Games in Beijing under anti-propaganda rules.

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said that competitors were free to express their political views but faced sanctions if they indulged in propaganda.

He accompanied those comments with an admission that the Games were in “crisis” after pro-Tibet protests engulfed the Olympic torch relay.

Mr Rogge’s call for Beijing to abide by its promise to address human rights was given short shrift by Beijing, which bluntly told him to keep politics out of the Games.

Riddle me this: How is it possible that competitors are “free to express their political views” but will get kicked out for displaying the Tibetan flag? This kind of doublespeak is worthy of the communists and poor, naive, earnest Mr. Rogge – who actually believed the Chinese would improve their human rights if their Olympic bid was successful – is tying himself into an intellectual pretzel in an attempt to reconcile these two radically different notions:
Addressing concerns about free speech, Mr Rogge described the scenario of a Spanish athlete doing a lap of honour in the Olympic stadium with Spain’s national flag and his provincial flag as “perfectly legitimate”.

He said: “We have had many examples of mixed flags where the athlete is proud of that. Is there a will to demonstrate propaganda or is it a desire to demonstrate joy in his victory?”

Apparently, if your political views don’t offend anyone – most of all the host country – then you are perfectly free to express them. (I wonder what Rogge would have said if that same Spanish athlete had grabbed a Basque flag instead of a “provincial” one?)

But Rogge, the Chinese, and the rest of the whole bloody Olympic “movement” just doesn’t get it. They have no clue what “free speech” might be. The point is that any display of nationalism is by definition propaganda and that there is no difference in making a political statement about your own country or someone else’s – not to anyone who cares a tiny bit about “free speech.”

Going back to 1968, no one complained a few days after the Carlos-Smith protest when George Foreman, after winning his gold medal in boxing, grabbed a miniature American flag and walked around the ring celebrating. The fact that Foreman’s political statement was a response to a political gesture by others made Foreman equally guilty of disseminating propaganda. But it was nice propaganda, the kind that the American Olympic Committee (who pressured Brundage to seize the gold medals of Carlos and Smith while kicking them out of the Olympic village) heartily approved.

It is this kind of rank hypocrisy that makes the Olympics such degrading venue for Americans. If it were up to me, I’d pass out Tibet flags to every single athlete marching under the American flag during the opening ceremonies and force the Chinese to kick them all out. The Olympic boosters – corporations, sports federations, and especially governments – who harp on the “spirit of brotherhood” present in the games are selling a poisonous idea; that freedom is separate from the notion that we are all equal and that therefore, we should all get along in peace.

 I’m all for that. Just don’t expect me to kowtow to any government that oppresses its people and then tries to use the Olympic games as a perfume to remove the stench of their rotten human rights policies. The athletes should feel that way as well which is why perhaps we should be handing out those Tibetan flags to anyone and everyone who sides with freedom against tyranny.

Such a move might ruin the Olympic games. But it would be one helluva statement of solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world and would usher in an era of true “brotherhood” for the Olympics.

By: Rick Moran at 11:54 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)