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One of the best short stories ever written - later made into a movie starring Danny Kaye - was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which featured a mild mannered daydreamer who put himself into heroic situations in his fantasies. Thurber’s deft touch made the character into a tragic figure, but sympathetic as well, while revealing the fate of non-conformists in a conformist society.

It appears that Walter Mitty has resurfaced in Afghanistan as a lowly shop owner from Pakistan impersonating a deadly Taliban commander in peace talks with the Afghanistan government and NATO. While there are certainly elements of comedy to the story, the idea that our military could be fooled like this is a little frightening.

Makes me want to throw my ashtray through the monitor:

A man purporting to be one of the Taliban’s most senior commanders convinced both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the NATO officials who flew him to Afghanistan’s capital for meetings, but two senior Afghan officials now believe the man was a lowly shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta.

His daring ruse has flummoxed those attempting to start a peace process with a determined Taliban adversary.

“He was a very clever man,” one of the officials said.

The man claimed to be Akthar Mohammad Mansour, the second-ranking Taliban commander after Mohammad Omar, and he met with Karzai and Afghan officials at least twice in recent months to discuss possible peace negotiations, according to the Afghan officials.

He was flown to Kabul on British military aircraft for the meetings and persuasively portrayed himself as a fighter who spoke for the movement, the officials said. But after showing photographs of the man to those who know the insurgent leader, the Afghan officials have concluded that he was an impostor.

Is this tragicomic? Seriocomic? Or a frightful glimpse into the attitudes of the highest levels of command in Afghanistan?

I see where many of my fellow conservatives are trying to make this incident into a metaphor for Obama administration incompetence and stupidity. Sorry, but that’s a stretch. Besides, there much better examples of that - including what many on the Democratic side of the Hill are calling the worst, the most incompetent congressional liaison shop in history.

This is more a reflection on the mindset of the civilian leadership and military brass in Afghanistan than any general competency issue in the administration. Sure, the administration appointed some of these guys, but this is a failure of individuals in Afghanistan, not Washington. The incident is the result of simple, blatant carelessness: Everybody thought the other guy had vetted the negotiator and all assumed he was who he said he was. The fact that he wasn’t shows a frightening breach in security. How close did this guy get to Karzai? To Petreaus?

This is pure speculation but I sense that the incident shows that the leadership prosecuting the war has either lost hope, or is infected with defeatism to the point that they don’t care as much as they should. It’s no secret the brass doesn’t like the president’s timetable for withdrawal and given the fierce opposition they are getting in Kandahar, they may feel the cause is already lost. The Taliban is in the ascendancy, the war for the hearts and minds of Afghans is going badly, and Karzai is off the reservation. Whatever progress they are making on the ground is coming at a high price in American lives, and there appears to be no guarantee that once the Americans leave, those towns and villages won’t revert to Taliban control.

The faux negotiator is a symptom of what’s wrong with our efforts in Afghanistan. And the lack of respect for our intel people demonstrated here can mean nothing but trouble:

“One would suspect that in our multibillion-dollar intel community there would be the means to differentiate between an authentic Quetta Shura emissary and a shopkeeper,” ssaid a U.S. official in Kabul who did not know about the particulars of the Mullah Mansour case. “On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. It may have been Mullah Omar posing as a shopkeeper; I’m sure that our intel whizzes wouldn’t have known.”

While there is speculation - almost certainly done to cover the asses of the brass - that the shopkeeper was an ISI plant introduced to see how far Karzai would go in concessions, that theory seems less an attempt at rationalization and more a casting about for straws.

Frustration and defeatism; can anything be done to turn it around?

By: Rick Moran at 12:08 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


I am not generally given to positing conspiracies of any kind but the actions of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) in their use of full body scanners and pat downs of airline passengers got me thinking.

Sherlock Holmes said, “[W]hen all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Of course, in my youth, it was a neck and neck race for supremacy between Holmes and Dick Tracy for best detective, and Tracy never said anything half as profound but was a better brawler and wore a much better looking hat. Then again, Dick Tracy wasn’t a coke addict, and had the misfortune of seeing Warren Beatty play him in the movies while the legendary Basil Rathbone was one of the original Holmesian thespians. (Robert Downey, Jr. doesn’t count because he didn’t portray Sherlock Holmes as written, as imagined, or as dreamed in Conan Doyle’s worst nightmares.)

What, then, can we deduce from the TSA’s absolute stupidity in riling up the public with their nudie scanners and “gropes?” It is my firm belief that there is more than meets the eye with this gambit. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that the scanners, the groping, the drastic slowdown for passengers going through security, the maniacal pat downs of 3 year olds, and the manner in which this has all been foisted on the traveling public leads me to believe that there is a conspiracy afoot to benefit someone or something else.

Consider the fact that these measures are not designed to make us safer. They are not used to make it less likely a plane will be hijacked or blown up in mid air. Israeli security expert Rafi Sela, the former chief security officer of the Israeli Airport Authority, says that they are, in fact, a gigantic waste of money:

“I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747,” Rafi Sela told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

“That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport,” Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.

There hasn’t been a hijacking that originated in Israel for almost 40 years. But what do they know?

So if the machines and groping won’t keep us safe, or lessen the likelihood of an attack, and if the machines don’t add to efficiency in getting passengers through the security checkpoint, “whatever is left, however improbable, must be the truth.”

What’s left is a conspiracy to make Amtrak profitable and force the public to beg the government to build high speed rail.

All of these actions by the TSA are designed for one reason: to drive people away from flying and put them on Amtrak trains to get to their destination. And once people realize how inefficient and just plain slow Amtrak trains are, the high speed rail boondoggle will start looking mighty good to a public desperate to move faster than a 1953 East German Trabant.

Think about it. Would any sane, rational government agency open themselves up to such unrelenting, hostile criticism without an ulterior motive? I mean, really - who pats down terrified three year olds who are screaming “Don’t touch me?” This kind of thing terrifies parents and starts making Amtrak look like a damn fine option at this point.

Then there is TSA’s relentless pursuit of Mr. “Don’t touch my junk” Tyner who not only refused a nudie scan but balked at the leering TSA employee who wanted to pat down his genitals. The agency wants to talk to this guy - while making the not so subtle allusion to the idea that if you fool around with TSA, be prepared for the consequences.

After reading this, I had to look around and assure myself that I was still in the good ole USA and not some post modernist’s idea of a gulag:

Tyner, 31, was on his way to South Dakota on Saturday to go pheasant hunting. He was chosen for a full-body scan and opted out because he thought it was invasive. He was then informed that he would be subjected to a body search. He told the TSA agent, “”You touch my junk and I’m going to have you arrested.”

Tyner likened the proposed search procedure to a “sexual assault.”

When he tried to assert his rights, Tyner was told by a TSA supervisor on tape, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.”


According to Aguilar, Tyner is under investigation for leaving the security area without permission. That’s prohibited, among other reasons, to prevent potential terrorists from entering security, gaining information, and leaving.

I wonder if Tyner’s cell phone video hadn’t gone viral if the TSA would be looking for the guy at all?

This is just more evidence that something else is going on with TSA. You can’t tell me that any government agency can be so stupidly vulgar and overbearing that they would track down the inoffensive Mr. Tyner in order to send the message that you don’t mess with the TSA’s “junk.” Nobody is that dense, right? Therefore, after eliminating all contingencies like stupidity, cluelessness, arrogance, corruption, and just plain loutishness, we must deduce that a conspiracy has been hatched in the troubled bowels of our government to redirect travelers away from airports. And logically, what other means of transportation can people use except trains? No one really wants to drive from Chicago to Orlando; trust me, I’ve done it and if you’ve got two screaming kids in the car, suicide becomes an option about the time you hit the Tennessee border.

Nope, it’s Amtrak for sure. As the most recent data for the passenger rail outfits shows, they desperately need an infusion of cash paying customers.

In 2009, 41 of 44 Amtrak routes lost money. The New Orleans to Los Angeles route - the “Sunset Limited” - was subsidized to the tune of $462 per passenger. Other routes were not so free and easy with the taxpayer’s coin but all told, Amtrak subsidies amounted to an average of $32 per passenger. Now suppose a couple of million more passengers were to hitch a ride on “The California Zephyr,” (Chicago to San Francisco) or the wistfully named “Twin Cities Hiawatha” (Chicago to Minneapolis). Suddenly, Amtrak starts turning a profit. It becomes a going concern. And most importantly, it proves that it can run the coming high speed rail system that President Obama dreams will make us all forget about airplanes anyway and ride the bullet trains to glorious energy independence and green jobs.

One problem; the ignorant galoots who currently can’t make Amtrak a profitable venture will still be in charge when high speed rail rolls around - or their equally hopeless successors. Nothing succeeds like success or fails like bad management. Amtrak has not been lacking in that department.

There may be another explanation for TSA’s curious behavior but I’m not seeing it. Given all that we know, what are you going to believe - that the TSA is terrorizing passengers, violating our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, pushing the boundaries of modesty and propriety, and acting like arrogant bullies because they don’t know any better?

“Whatever is left is the truth.” All Aboard Amtrak!

By: Rick Moran at 1:01 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


My latest is up at Pajamas Media and I address the Keith Olbermann suspension from the point of view of MSNBC’s hypocrisy:

This makes the NBC News policy against “journalists” giving money to their favorite candidates inexplicable. Who are they kidding? According to Politico, NBC isn’t alone in this exercise in serio-comic absurdity:

NBC has a rule against employees contributing to political campaigns, and a wide range of news organizations prohibit political contributions — considering it a breach of journalistic independence to contribute to the candidates they cover.

How can you “breach” something that exists only in the minds of arrogant popinjays who think that journalism is a “calling”? One assumes the humanity of reporters — normally — and therefore they cannot be immune from the biases shared by everyone else. Editors, whose job description includes removing as much bias as possible from a story, generally share the point of view of their reporters and are either too lazy or too blinded to their own prejudices to recognize bias when it pops up in someone else’s work. In the end, journalists are about as “independent” as Eastern Europe was during the Cold War. You don’t have to scratch very far below the surface to reveal the nauseating hypocrisy that is contributing to the end of journalism as we know it.

Olbermann’s punishment does not fit the crime. He violated company policy — a policy rooted in fantasy and outmoded notions of journalists as ink-stained cavaliers of fairness and justice. It may be elevating to believe in “independence,” but it isn’t practical.

And this is just cause to kick Olbermann off the air? And why now? William Kristol wonders if NBC’s parent company, General Electric. isn’t trying to curry favor with the new GOP majority in the House. More likely, as Bryan Preston points out, since Olbermann’s ratings have been tanking, his prickly presence in the newsroom has caused enormous friction with both on-air and behind-the-camera staff. MSNBC President Phil Griffin may have taken the opportunity afforded by Olbermann’s transgression to send the Kos-darling packing, ridding himself of this meddlesome high priest of hyperbole.

By: Rick Moran at 11:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


After writing 5 different articles on the anniversaries of 9/11, I felt that I had said all that I could say about the event and my reactions to it. Hence, I repost what I consider one of the best pieces I have ever written - my remembrance from 9/11/2006.

As the years fly by, we are gradually starting to place 9/11 in context; carefully moving the memories of that horrible day into a corner of the mind where we can look at what it means more analytically, and with less emotion. This is good - and bad. It is good because you cannot move forward when the open wound of such a seismic event looms large in your conscious mind. But it is bad because we forget some of the details of that day that have forever changed us as a nation.

The falling towers, the smoldering Pentagon, and that hole in the empty field in Pennsylvania should never be forgotten, but as each year passes, the edges of those memories dissolve and blur into the background, salving the wounds we suffered that day while allowing us the luxury of wondering if we “overreacted” or if the cost of protecting ourselves from a repeat of 9/11 has been worth it.

Those are side issues. The importance of 9/11 will always be how it affected us personally. For some, the awareness raised by the attack caused a titanic shift in their politics, as some liberals were “mugged by reality.” Others went in the opposite direction. Personal politics aside, however you view the subsequent actions of the US government, you cannot argue that a sea change didn’t take place in our attitudes toward Muslims and the Muslim world.

The fact that these changes are still playing themselves out - that bigotry, as well as more complete efforts to understand the Muslim world walk hand in hand - can be seen in the mosque controversy and the latest effort to prove how spectacularly ignorant some Americans can be in wanting to burn the Koran. I think the efforts at understanding and tolerance are beginning to win out, but it will be years before history renders her verdict on that score.

It is true that 9/11 turned our politics upside down. It is also true that the farther away we move from that day, the less it matters. Other issues now engage us, and what was once thought vital to America is now seen as an afterthought. No more “War on Terror” or “Islamic extremists” - as if redefining the words used to describe that battle we are in makes a whit of difference. We will either fight the war or try to ignore it. Either way, we are likely to pay a price.

And someday, we will have another date to remember in the context of America being attacked by terrorists. And probably more after that. I wonder if they will matter as much to us as 9/11?

I hope I’m not here to find out.


This article originally appears in The American Thinker

On this 5th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, we Americans are engaged in the helpful process of taking stock, carefully toting up the pluses and minuses in our imaginary ledgers of where we are as a nation. Perhaps we even take some time to calculate the political cost/benefit ratio of how this particular anniversary will color the election in November. And if we’re in the mood, we may even listen to some of the testimonials given by politicians and read the editorials in the great newspapers that hearken to us a remembrance of the evil perpetrated against America on that day.

For myself as hard as I try to recapture the emotions that roared to the surface that day, bubbling up from a place I never knew existed - so raw, so real, so utterly bereft and the same time feeling a closeness with my fellow Americans I had never felt before - what I can no longer do is weep. I can no longer weep for the widows, the orphans, the brave and selfless first responders who charged up dozens of flights of stairs, giving their lives so that others could live. I can no longer weep for lives cut short, for loved ones whispering their tearful goodbyes on doomed airplanes, for heroic citizen-warriors who fought our first pitched battle in the skies over Pennsylvania (and won). And I can no longer weep for America with the realization that these attacks meant we were at war and that many a young American would lose their lives defending us.

It isn’t faulty memory that prevents the tears from coming. I remember September 11, 2001 clearly, as beautiful a day in the Midwest as it was in New York. I was on a short vacation and got up early as has always been my wont to watch a movie I had rented on the VCR. When the movie ended, I turned off the TV and puttered around the apartment for a while. I distinctly remember doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

Thinking to catch some NFL previews for the coming week, I flipped on the TV and saw the smoking towers. It didn’t register at first. How could it? In the background, I could hear CNN droning on. Something about airplanes and terrorists.

It still didn’t register. And then, not 2 minutes after I had flipped on the TV, the first tower began to collapse. By this time I had begun to grasp what was happening and watched in absolute horror as the once proud symbol of America’s greatness was reduced to a smoking pile of rubble in just a few seconds. I stared and stared at the screen, barely aware in the background that someone was screaming. I was actually briefly annoyed. Can’t they move that person away from the microphone, I wondered.

It was then I realized that I was doing the screaming.

The tears flowed often that day. When the second tower collapsed, a sadness so profound, so beyond tears, engulfed me and I fell into a state of absolute numbness - a defense mechanism initiated by the brain I’m sure, protecting my psyche from being damaged by the overwhelming and powerful emotions engendered by watching my fellow citizens incinerated and crushed.

That feeling of not being able to feel was interrupted several times during the day. Some pictures showing the gaping hole in the Pentagon and the rescuers working frantically brought more tears as did some of the images of ordinary New Yorkers whose entire world came crashing down that day along with the towers. You just never knew when the tears would start to flow. The image of young girl in Pennsylvania laying a teddy bear at the instant memorial for flight 93 that had been started by nearby residents. Frantic people who had loved ones in the towers trying to get to lower Manhattan but being blocked because the danger was just too great. The still picture of a dead Father Judge, Chaplain to the Firefighters in the city, being carried away so gently.

What finally caused me to turn the coverage off for a while was when Members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol and, following heartfelt speeches by the Speaker and Minority Leader, a lone voice in the back began to sing God Bless America. Totally unscripted and without precedent, several dozen Congressmen tearfully joined in. Veteran CNN correspondent Judy Woodruff, as tough and as professional as they come in the news business, nearly broke down on live TV describing it.

It was at that point that I wondered: Will we ever be happy again? Will we ever be able to laugh and dance and sing the joyous, confident notes that have marked the American people as the most dyed in the wool, overarching optimists the world has ever seen?

How can we look to the future when the gaping, oozing wound at Ground Zero reminds us that we are not invulnerable, that for all our military might, our economic power, our cultural dominance, our gigantic footprint on the modern world, America can be laid low by a bunch of fanatics?

The answers seemed not to be forthcoming on that day. But gradually, as our national leaders recovered their equilibrium and especially as President Bush seemed to find a purpose and direction for our emotions, we eased back into our daily routines, finding comfort and solace in the ordinary tasks and challenges that take up space in our lives, allowing us to find a haven from the winds of history that blew through New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania on that horrible day of blood and death and fire and smoke.

Every once and a while in the months that followed, we would receive a reminder that would bring those same emotions we felt on 9/11 to the surface. But a scab had formed over the wounds inflicted upon America that day and much of the power and grief we felt had faded like an old, weathered photograph gathering dust in the attic so that we could look 9/11 in the eye and not flinch. Yes, there were still moments of pathos and pain. I would tear up when the brave workers at Ground Zero would find the body of a firefighter or policeman and the sad, solemn procession carrying the remains to the waiting ambulance evoked memories of the cost of that day. But in retrospect, most of us were following the preparations for war and much of what we endured on 9/11 as a nation became simply part of the “mystic chords of memory” that bind all of us who lived through those awful hours.

When the first anniversary of the attacks came and went, it seemed proper that we should try our best to move on from the tragedy and get down to the business of fighting and winning the war. A people at war cannot afford powerful emotions. They must steel themselves against anything that can deflect them from the course that leads to victory. But after celebrating the vanquishing of the Taliban during the first anniversary and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on the second, the date itself began to take on a new meaning. The third anniversary was unavoidably marked by politics as it occurred during the height of the Presidential election of 2004. Try as we might, it was difficult to summon the grief and the outrage that had marked the first two anniversaries. And last year’s memorial was extremely subdued, almost as if some wanted to forget the day altogether.

Through it all, the memory of the emotions that tore at the nation’s soul and caused an ocean of tears to flow receded slowly into the background, like a tidal wave that washes over a shoreline and, retreating slowly back into the sea, reveals a new landscape. We have barely explored this new world, many of us preferring the old one and finding comfort in the words of those who wish to pretend the catastrophe never happened. But while we may not be able to summon the demons that caused the anger, the sadness, and the tears 5 years ago, we should now be able to call forth the angels who can aid and protect us from our own folly; the fearful belief that the job is too big, too fraught with uncertainty for us to even try and win through to victory.

It is to this endeavor that we can rededicate ourselves on this 5th anniversary of 9/11. The tears may be gone, unable to bridge the mists of time and the healing salve of forgetfulness. But the cause remains. The purpose lives. And while our tears may have dried, the reason we wept in the first place will never, ever be forgotten.

By: Rick Moran at 9:22 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)


I have been writing for nearly two years about how conservatives have to be more pragmatic in deciding whom to support for office if they expect to bring conservative governance to Washington.

A couple of weeks after the 2008 election, I wrote this:

Republicans are about ready to fall into a couple of traps that losing parties apparently can’t avoid when the dust settles following a debacle such as they have experienced the last two election cycles. The first is the belief that the reason for being rejected by the voters is that their candidates weren’t “pure” enough ideologically and that only by pushing forward “true conservatives” can the GOP find its way back.

I don’t dispute the necessity for putting up more conservatives for office. But the idea that you can have some kind of lock step litmus tests to determine who a “true” conservative might be is nuts - and counterproductive. There are plenty of competitive congressional districts where one of those “true” conservatives would get slaughtered by most Democrats. When 70% of the country does not identify itself as “conservative,” you are deliberately setting up the GOP for defeat if you advocate only “real” conservatives receive support.

There are candidates that would be completely acceptable to the vast majority of conservatives who would fail some of the litmus tests given by the base. A party that seeks to diminish its ranks by making membership dependent on a rigid set of positions on issues is a party doomed to maintaining its minority status. The Democrats made the exact same mistake in 2000 and it cost them in 2002 and 2004.

Fast forward to today and the senate race in the state of Delaware. The GOP primary features the moderately liberal, longtime GOP mainstay Mike Castle facing off against an extraordinarily flawed, but “true” conservative candidate in Christine O’Donnell.

O’Donnell is a tea party darling despite the fact that she has the ethics of an alley cat and the brains of a mouse. She is a fatally flawed candidate in so many ways that it is not even a question of supporting a RINO like Castle vs. a “true” conservative like O’Donnell. Rather, it is a question of opposing a paranoid, deadbeat, lightweight who has pulled some personal and professional financial shenanigans that would disqualify her from not only holding public office, but also being employed as a responsible manager at any legitimate company.

In a radio interview last June, she lied about not having a federal tax lien on her house despite the fact that anyone with a modest ability at using search engines could find it. When the bank threatened to foreclose on her house, serving her personally with papers, she chalked it up to a “technical error by the bank” despite the fact that once again, anyone who bothered to do a little searching could find the mortgage company’s filing.

It turns out that O’Donnell is a deadbeat. She stopped paying her mortgage in October of 2007 while the bank filed the papers in March of 2008 to seize the house. She refused to contest the case and a summary judgment of foreclosure was entered against the property in May. According to a Lexis-Nexis search, the foreclosure was “stayed” - the house had been foreclosed but the sheriff sale had not commenced - when she sold the house to her boyfriend and legal counsel who then paid the outstanding balance as well as more than $2,000 in interest and legal fees.

When questioned about all of this, she has continuously and shamelessly lied. She has attributed the tax lien to “thug politics” and actually denied the property had a lien in the first place. She denied she sold her home while it was in foreclosure despite clear evidence to the contrary.

For months, O’Donnell denied her house had ever been in foreclosure. She simply stopped making payments in October 2007 and never made any move to contest the proceedings and would not “appear, plead or otherwise defend” herself against the mortgage company filing.

The lies don’t stop there. Incredibly, she owes her employees from the 2008 campaign thousands of dollars in unpaid salary and expenses.

Aides who worked for Ms. O’Donnell’s 2008 campaign against then-Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. claim that she withheld thousands of dollars in promised salary and never reimbursed them for out-of pocket expenses.

“Once I and others found out about her personal financial crises and her degree, we left,” David Keegan, a former aide, told The New York Times on Friday. “We were constantly trying to hold her back from spending. She was financially completely irresponsible.”

Yes, but at least she wants to save Western Civilization by being opposed to doing the nasty-nasty unless your conjugal bliss occurs within the legal framework supplied by a marriage license.

O’Donnell responds to a couple of these matters here. She does not retract her past false statements claiming her house was never in foreclosure, obfuscating the issue by claiming she was accused of losing the house. The charge is that she avoided a sheriff’s sale only by selling the house to her attorney/boyfriend (the evidence that the house had been foreclosed on is iron clad, linked above). No defense against not paying her employees salary and expenses, and her explanation of why the IRS filed a tax lien against her house and why it wasn’t resolved until 2010 is ridiculous. She says she had been working with the IRS prior to the filing of the lien, proving her intent to pay her taxes and that when the issue was resolved in March of this year, the IRS admitted the lien was a “computer error.”

Proof that she was working with the IRS is proof of nothing. If she refused to pay or couldn’t come up with the taxes, the IRS would slap a lien on your property even if you were meeting with them to resolve the situation. In fact, the document she supplies shows the lien was assessed in 2006 - three years before she began to meet with the IRS to resolve the matter.

And the document she supplies that shows the IRS releasing her property contains no explanation, and especially none relating to “computer error” even though she makes that claim in her defense.

Yet, in March, rather than a letter finalizing the appeals process, I received an erroneous tax lien claiming I had not responded to their previous correspondence. The IRS admitted the letter was a mistake, issued a Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien on May 19, 2010 and chalked it up to a “computer error.” The remaining balance was paid in full on May 16, 2010, clearly proving yet again that my political opponent is desperate and because of which he is ignoring the facts and circulating copies of the erroneous lien to reporters and bloggers.

According to the document supplied by O’Donnell herself, the lien was assessed in 2006 for taxes owed in 2005. The letter from the IRS appeals officer only mentions efforts by O’Donnell to pay off the back taxes from 2005 beginning late last year - just about the time a candidate would begin preparing to run for office. Why does O’Donnell try and make it appear that the tax lien, in place since 2006, was only issued - erroneously - during the final stages of the appeals process early this year?

Also, if you read that letter from the IRS appeals officer, you are immediately struck by its insane incoherence. Is the IRS guy that stupid? Or were certain damning words and sentences dropped from that letter by the O’Donnell campaign? Given O’Donnell’s history of lies, either explanation is likely.

Tea party types who support O’Donnell remind me of liberal Democrats who recently praised Charlie Rangel at his birthday party. He may be a crooked sonofabitch but he’s OUR crooked sonofabitch. As long as their heart is in the right place on the issues, many personal peccadilloes can be forgiven - or ignored.

But the argument over O’Donnell doesn’t rest on her lack of integrity. How could it? Rational people residing in the state of Delaware can be counted on to take one look at O’Donnell and either stay at home on election day or hold their noses and vote for the Democrat. The argument made by the ideologues is that she is a superior conservative to Castle and deserves support no matter how personally flawed her character - or that the huge body of evidence for her lack of personal integrity is either manufactured or doesn’t exist.

I would not employ a person of such low character if I owned a company. And the fact that “real” conservatives want to send this tax avoiding, deadbeat liar to Washington who stiffs her employees out of their rightful wages, paints herself as the victim of dirty tricks when it is her own flawed character that is the cause of her miseries, and represents exactly the sense of entitlement and greed that they purport to oppose, shows that the ideologues care less about the integrity of our representatives than they do the purity of their beliefs.

By: Rick Moran at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)


To those predisposed because of ideological animus to dismiss the notion of the tea party movement being the true inheritors of Martin Luther King’s dream, you might as well click away now. But if you want to engage on this issue in a reasonable manner, discussing the pros and cons rationally, you are invited to read on and ponder both the irony and the efficacy of these claims as they relate to history as well as current events.

It’s an interesting effort at spin for tea party types to claim kinship with Dr. King. They in no way began the movement with that archetype in mind, nor had they expressed much interest in what engaged Dr. King and his civil rights movement. We were told it was all about “spending” and “taking the country back,” and “adherence to the Constitution.” These are, for the most part, worthy and vitally necessary issues for citizens to agitate for and against, but hardly touches the meat of what King and his followers were seeking.

Nevertheless, there are echoes of King’s social movement in the advocacy of the tea party. The goal of the civil rights movement was to open the eyes of the American people to the plight of their fellow citizens of color while agitating for a change in government policy that would help realize the goal of ending state-sponsored oppression. As for the tea party movement, it seeks to raise awareness among the American public of what they perceive to be the threat of big government while changing policy to reflect their ideals of a smaller, less intrusive government.

An interesting irony is the belief of tea party opponents that a “smaller” government would necessarily make enforcement of modern civil rights legislation more difficult. Given the animus of many tea party folk toward what is perceived as the overbearing hand of government in enforcing what they believe is discriminatory policies aimed against whites, that may be a valid criticism. In shrinking government, no doubt a prime target would be enforcement agencies like the EEOC whose quotas and mandates in attacking perceived discrimination have raised legitimate questions about how best to achieve what the left calls “social justice.”

There have been interesting debates recently about the meaning and intent of “social justice” as it relates to the law and politics. Clearly, the concept of “social justice” means different things to different people, and a dispositive resolution to that debate is not sought here. But there can be little argument that the means to achieve social justice employs the “positive rights” doctrine so much in opposition to the “negative rights” the Founders supported in creating a government that would ensure liberty.

Briefly, Wikpedia explains the difference between positive and negative rights:

[P]ositive rights permit or oblige action, whereas negative rights permit or oblige inaction. These permissions or obligations may be of either a legal or moral character. Likewise, the notion of positive and negative rights may be applied to either liberty rights or claim rights, either permitting one to act or refrain from acting, or obliging others to act or refrain from acting.

In short, an “activist” government vs. a “Leave me the hell alone” government.

Almost by definition, employing “positive rights” to rectify perceived wrongs in society means growing the size and scope of government to meet the requirement of forcing others to act, or permitting the government to intervene. Redistribution of wealth, ending historic advantages enjoyed by straight white males in employment and education, and grouping Americans into racial classifications to delineate “protected classes” of citizens all require a gigantic government to compel the rest of America to comply.

Is this what Dr. King had in mind? You will get an argument from racialists like Reverend Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other special pleaders in the civil rights movement. But clearly, King saw a different America than the one those gentlemen and their white, liberal, guilt-ridden elitist allies are trying to create.

I found this comment in an excellent New York Times piece about the Glenn Beck rally today revealing:

On his radio show, Mr. Beck said he had not intended to choose the anniversary for his “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday but had since decided it was “divine providence.”

Dr. King’s dream, he told listeners, “has been so corrupted.”

“Judge a man by the content of his character?” he said. “Character doesn’t even matter in this country. It’s time we picked back up the job.”

He later added: “We are the people of the civil rights movement. We are the ones that must stand for civil and equal rights, justice, equal justice. Not special justice, not social justice. We are the inheritors and protectors of the civil rights movement. They are perverting it.”

The words are compelling but the reality is quite different. The question that has never been debated or addressed by politicians is simply this; what is the best way to achieve the kind of society for which Martin Luther King spent his life trying to build and died in that dream’s service?

Glenn Beck and the tea partiers believe that America has matured to the point where much of the civil rights legislation and regulation of the last 45 years can either be scrapped or reformed (weakened). As proof, they offer the presidency of Barack Obama as exhibit one. Now that we have elected a black man president - largely as a result of whites voting in favor of his candidacy - the need for quotas and other measures to “level the playing field” for minorities who have been historically discriminated against has virtually disappeared, according to many in the tea party movement.

I am sure Dr. King would have scoffed at such a notion. Just as he would have scoffed at the modern interpretation of “social justice.” King was an eminently practical man who knew that America would have racial discrimination long after he left the stage. His belief that change would come only when the hearts and minds of Americans were turned from hate and that only through Christian love and charity would that change be effected animated much of his leadership. That, and a cunning politician’s grasp of what was achievable through “direct action” led to historic civil rights legislation that began the process of reversing 300 years of oppression.

King saw anti-discrimination measures such as affirmative action as temporary, inoffensive means to an end; the start of achieving equality with the white majority in the economic sphere. As it was originally designed by the Kennedy administration, affirmative action was voluntary, somewhat limited, and simply required that when examining candidates for employment, all other criteria being equal (experience, education, etc.) that the job should be given to the minority candidate in recognition of past wrongs.

This well meaning but impractical idea eventually gave way to compulsory “goals and timetables” in the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administration, and ended up as the mandatory quotas and mandates we have today. In discrimination cases, the burden of proof is now on the defendant to show that no discrimination was intended. Sometimes, even that isn’t good enough to avoid penalties.

Clearly, neither the tea party movement or contemporary special interest groups like the NAACP grasp the essence of Dr. King’s message of redemption and change. Nor does the application of positive rights lead to a more just society. Indeed, “social justice” may more accurately be defined as “government justice” in that it is the federal government that chooses to actively intercede on behalf of those minorities who have been historically oppressed.

There is no design to change the hearts and minds of Americans - quite reasonably because such a task is beyond the ken of any government. All government can do is mitigate against the effects of racism, the effects of discrimination. They cannot advance the notion of a color blind society, or a society where women are on equal footing with men, or where gays have the same opportunities as the rest of us. To believe otherwise, as apparently some who are passionate advocates for social justice do - is on par with believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Any government big enough and strong enough to demand that a citizen think and act a certain way defines tyranny.

No, the tea party movement are not the inheritors of Dr. King’s legacy. His dream may have been similar, but he certainly would have objected to the tea party folk invoking his name to advance an agenda that, in some ways, would turn back the clock on progress.

On the other hand, King would have been equally concerned about how social justice advocates have twisted his message to include strictures and caveats that have little to do with “justice,” and everything to do with reserving goodies for favored interest groups.

It is a sad testimony about the legacy of one of the greatest Americans who ever lived that 42 years after his death, no one can quite decide just what that legacy should mean.

By: Rick Moran at 11:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)


I suppose it was inevitable that the litmus test conservatives would begin purging those who don’t measure up to their very narrow, very limiting agenda. But it’s still something of a surprise to see World Net Daily - the rabid right wing online publication that has become famous for promoting the birther issue - canceling an appearance by the Queen of the Conservative Punditocracy Ann Coulter for what WND refers to as a “homoconflict.”

Conservative superstar Ann Coulter today was dropped as a keynote speaker for WND’s “Taking America Back National Conference” next month because of her plan to address an event titled “HOMOCON” sponsored by the homosexual Republican group GOProud that promotes same-sex marriage and military service for open homosexuals.

Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, said the decision was a gut-wrenching one for his team because of their fondness for Coulter as both a person and writer-speaker.

“Ultimately, as a matter of principle, it would not make sense for us to have Ann speak to a conference about ‘taking America back’ when she clearly does not recognize that the ideals to be espoused there simply do not include the radical and very ‘unconservative’ agenda represented by GOProud,” said Farah. “The drift of the conservative movement to a brand of materialistic libertarianism is one of the main reasons we planned this conference from the beginning.”

Can’t have any of that “materialistic libertarianism” - perhaps better described as “tolerance for other people and other points of view” - gumming up the works of the conservative media juggernaut. I happened to stop by the GOProud booth at CPAC a couple of years ago and discovered that these guys are - with the exceptions mentioned above by Farah - about as mainstream conservative as you can get.

From their website:

GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies. GOProud is committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy. GOProud promotes our traditional conservative agenda by influencing politics and policy at the federal level.

In fact, if Farah knew anything of the history of conservatism, he would recognize that GOProud’s “traditional conservative agenda” used to define conservatism. It is only recently that bigots like Farah have added gay marriage and - omigod - “sodomy as an alternative lifestyle” to the ever growing number of no-nos the culturecons have foisted on the conservative movement.

Coulter seems a little bemused by the insult. She’s just interested in the cash:

Farah then asked: “Do you not understand you are legitimizing a group that is fighting for same-sex marriage and open homosexuality in the military – not to mention the idea that sodomy is just an alternate lifestyle?”

Coulter responded: “That’s silly, I speak to a lot of groups and do not endorse them. I speak at Harvard and I certainly don’t endorse their views. I’ve spoken to Democratic groups and liberal Republican groups that loooove abortion. The main thing I do is speak on college campuses, which is about the equivalent of speaking at an al-Qaida conference. I’m sure I agree with GOProud more than I do with at least half of my college audiences. But in any event, giving a speech is not an endorsement of every position held by the people I’m speaking to. I was going to speak for you guys, I think you’re nuts on the birther thing (though I like you otherwise!).”

Coulter’s own intolerance has been well documented. But at least she has a notion of what conservatism is all about.

I have stopped referring to people like Farah as conservatives for the simple reason their views are not reflective of any conservative philosophy of which I am familiar. Radicalism is the antithesis of conservatism as anyone who has ever read Edmund Burke’s wrenching critique of the French Revolution can attest. Their idea of “limited government” is radically limited. Their notion of “free markets” is an economic Darwinian nightmare. And their agitation to bomb just about anyone who threatens US interests reveals an imprudence that is most unconservative.

What has driven me and other conservatives to try and marginalize people like Farah is their radicalism may not be the mainstream of conservatism, but it influences the Republican party and the conservative movement much to their detriment. They are not “fringe” actors by any stretch of the imagination, but neither are they close to a majority. They are loud, and they vote, and that makes them important to politicians.

Rejecting those who agree with your agenda 90% of the time is stupid politics. Hence, despite GOProud’s embrace of traditional conservative issues, their sin of supporting gay marriage and the elimination of “Don’t ask don’t tell” in the military trumps their support for conservative economic and foreign policy issues.

Indeed, the Executive Director of GOProud Jimmy LaSalvia gave a very reasonable, conservative answer to why they support gay marriage:

As long as the government is in the marriage business it should treat gay couples as equal to their straight counter-parts. Accordingly, we are pleased with the outcome of the Prop 8 case.

A no brainer, really - which describes Mr. Farah to a “T.”

Radical right wingers like Farah are in the business of reducing the size of the Republican party until it is a distillation of pure right wing wackery. These folks are beyond “epistemic closure” and are in a full blown epistemological meltdown. The don’t create a reality as much as it oozes up from the muck and detritus of their broken and wildly inconsistent worldview - the result of unreasoning hatred for those who are in any way “different” and an illogical ideology that cannot brook any opposition lest it collapse in a disordered heap.

And Ann Coulter isn’t conservative enough for these guys? Something wrong with that picture.

By: Rick Moran at 9:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)


In baseball, there are times when no matter how good a hitter is, a pitcher paints the corner with three straight unhittable curve balls for strikes. It is at that point that the hitter tips his cap to the pitcher and walks dejectedly back to the dugout, secure in the knowledge that there was nothing he could do to beat the pitcher at that at bat.

I am in a similar mindset when reading Ezra Klein and Matthew Ygelsias this morning. The have taken spectacularly bad jobs numbers and put such a sweet spin on them that there really is nothing to do but tip your hat to the way they have made sweet potato pie out of horse manure.


Another 143,000 census positions expired, contributing to a total public sector job loss of more than 200,000 jobs. But the private sector continued to recover, adding 71,000 jobs — its best performance since April, and its third-best number this year.


So you can look at the bottom line one of two ways: Either we lost 131,000 jobs, or if you ignore the census jobs, we gained about 10,000. The good news? The 71,000 jobs we did gain came from the right place, and the jobs we lost are job losses we can prevent if Congress finds the will and the votes.

You can also look at it as 71,000 jobs representing about half the total number of jobs that need to be created every single month just to keep pace with new people entering the work force in the private sector. The idea that the private sector is “recovering” is pure spin. If business is only creating half the jobs necessary to take up the slack in new hires, how in God’s name is it going to replace the 8 million jobs lost in this recession? The numbers show we are falling behind, that the recovery is worse than anemic, and that the policies of this president and his party are directly responsible for it.

Last year at this time - 8 months after Obama took office - discouraged workers who stopped looking for work stood at 368,000. Today, that number has climbed to 1.2 million. This did not happen on George Bush’s watch. It is a direct result of the Democrats taking their eye off the ball and pushing national health insurance at the expense of dealing with the jobs situation. While Democrats were arguing with themselves whether or not a public option was needed and how much they should screw over insurance companies, big pharma, and big medicine, the jobs picture went from bad, to worse, to catastrophic.

It was obvious by last summer that the stimulus bill - sold by the president as something that had to be passed immediately and without due consideration because it would help create jobs in the near future - was oversold and a gigantic waste of money at a time the Democratic congress was smashing every deficit record in history. Instead of dropping the health insurance chimera and turning their attention to Americans who were desperate for work, the Democrats pursued the illusion of national health insurance reform, thus condemning this nation to what the Administration is calling “Recovery Summer” - perhaps the most inapt characterization of economic conditions since Roosevelt made “Happy Days are Here Again” his party’s anthem when unemployment was at 25%.

And the idea that the $26 billion passed by the senate and awaiting action in the Democratic House will make things all better in the public sector is either ignorance on Klein’s part or disingenuousness. The 143,000 census jobs are not coming back no matter how many tens of billions you throw into the laps of Democratic interest groups.

As for the teachers, the question arises how long Uncle Sam is going to keep bailing out his nephews? It’s the same question asked of those who have already gotten 100 weeks or more of unemployment payments. There are people out there who are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet, despite being eligible for the extended unemployment benefits. They don’t want to do it. They find no pleasure in it. They would probably be incensed that I am using them as examples. The point is that there are alternatives out there besides Congress, in essence, giving some people an excuse not to take what job or jobs they can.

If Klein was brilliant in spinning the numbers, Yglesias throws up a strawman that would make Ray Bolger proud:

The losses came from the public sector. And they were foreseeable. And they were foreseen by the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the United States Senate and the majority of House members and a majority of Senators. And the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the United States Senate and the majority of House members and a majority of Senators voted for bills that would have prevented that. But because in the Senate a minority of members can get their way, action wasn’t taken. Consequently, we have a horrible jobs number. Which would be bad enough, but the way the American political system works, the minority party that prevented the majority from addressing the crisis will accrue massive political benefits as a result of the collapse.

Conservatives won’t admit it today, but what we’re looking at is a major breakdown of the logic of the American political system.

Of course they were foreseeable. Nearly 75% of the public sector job losses resulted from the end of the census taking process. Those jobs were not permanent, were not meant to be permanent, and were always going to end. To make the unbelievable claim that it is the GOP’s fault that the public sector lost 53,000 permanent jobs - many of which the result of state budget cuts outside of the education sector - is illogical.

Maybe Yglesias should start by repairing that “breakdown in logic” in his own head.

Both these prominent ex-members of Journolist appear not to have missed a beat in shilling for the White House.


Jesus Lord how did I miss this eye-popper from Benen:

For quite a while, Democrats have said the government needed to intervene to prevent the job losses we’re seeing now. Republicans refused. To be sure, the job market would need to be stronger in either case, but the GOP is entirely responsible for holding the job market’s head below water — and yet, they’re also the ones gloating. It’s maddening.

Um…no. “For quite a while” the Democrats have been saying that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8% and that a million green jobs would be created, and that we had to save the jobs of state workers (and we have to do it again and probably again after that), and that unemployment benefits were good for the economy, and any month now, the Democrat’s policies would bear fruit and we’ll all live happily ever after.

And does Bennen realize people are laughing at him when he blames Republicans for this? With a spread of 59-41 in the senate and a 40 seat majority in the House, the problem is not GOP obstructionism but the rank incompetence of Democratic leaders who not only can’t convince one lousy RINO to jump to their side on anything, but can’t even keep their own caucus together. Reagan regularly convinced several dozen Democrats to vote for his policies. All Harry Reid has to do is to keep his hands from jumping ship and convince Olympia Snowe that the New York Times will give her favorable mention if she votes his way.

All last year we heard the same refrain from the Democrats; you have to give the stimulus time to work and then…you’ll see. Things will be right as rain. This despite the fact, as I mention above, Obama looked the American people in the eye and said the crisis was so dire that members of Congress shouldn’t have to read the bill, just vote yes on it so that jobs can be created immediately.

Now that the stim bill has proved to be a spectacular failure, the Democrats have switched their talking points, pretending they knew all along that the stim bill wasn’t enough and we need to spend more, and more again to get the economy rolling. Reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s description of a test pilot going down in The Right Stuff: “I’ve tried A! I’ve tried B! I’ve tried C! Tell me what else I can try!”

Try the truth. That would be novel.

By: Rick Moran at 11:23 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)


After a long hiatus, I have an article up at about the Wikileaks intel purporting to break the news that Pakistan is supporting the Afghan Taliban.

For anyone who follows events in Pakistan, this is hardly news at all, although the New York Times and other outlets who published the Wikileak docs made it seem as if this were some kind of revelation. It’s not. In fact, the Wiki docs can’t be taken at face value given their provenance. Most of the intel comes from the Afghans - a nation at loggerheads with Pakistan and whose interest is served by promoting the idea that the Pakistani government - at the highest levels - is aware of and approves the Taliban’s actions against America and our Afghan allies.

This may be true, as I show in the article using independent sources:

This from the TimesOnline last month:

Pakistani support for the Taliban in Afghanistan runs far deeper than a few corrupt police officers, however. The Sunday Times can reveal that it is officially sanctioned at the highest levels of Pakistan’s government.

Pakistan’s own intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), is said to be represented on the Taliban’s war council — the Quetta shura. Up to seven of the 15-man shura are believed to be ISI agents.

The London School of Economics issued a report stating, ““Pakistan appears to be playing a double game of astonishing magnitude” in Afghanistan. The report’s author, Matt Waldman, continued:

As the provider of sanctuary and substantial financial, military and logistical support to the insurgency, the ISI appears to have strong strategic and operational influence — reinforced by coercion. There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign.

Forget the Wikileaks. ISI support for the Taliban has been the worst kept secret in international affairs. Spengler, writing at the Asia Times, explains why grown-ups in the international community are playing “Let’s Pretend” when it comes to Pakistan’s double crossing government:

This raises the question: Who covered up a scandalous arrangement known to everyone with a casual acquaintance of the situation? The answer is the same as in Agatha Christie’s 1934 mystery about murder on the Orient Express, that is, everybody: former United States president George W Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, current US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, India, China and Iran. They are all terrified of facing a failed state with nuclear weapons, and prefer a functioning but treacherous one.

The importance of the Wikileaks intel on Pakistan is that it should force governments to stop playing “Pretend” and face up to the reality of the situation. Instead, President Zardari is none too thrilled with the leaks and the State Department has assured Pakistan they don’t believe the intel for a minute.

So the game continues. Meanwhile, the probability that the Pakistani government is working hand and glove with terrorists who are killing Americans in Afghanistan is ignored in the name of “realpolitik on steroids.”

By: Rick Moran at 6:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


After weeks of speculation where war opponents were licking their chops and the administration was sweating bullets, Wikileaks has released 92,000 documents summarizing in detail the day to day operations on the ground in Afghanistan as well as pungent assessments of our Afghan allies and our supposed friends in Pakistan.

In truth, there are only mild surprises gleaned so far from the document dump. Three news outlets - The New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Speigel - were given access to the material weeks ago with the caveat that they not release anything until yesterday.

A few highlights courtesy of the New York Times:

• The Taliban have used portable heat-seeking missiles against allied aircraft, a fact that has not been publicly disclosed by the military. This type of weapon helped the Afghan mujahedeen defeat the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

• Secret commando units like Task Force 373 - a classified group of Army and Navy special operatives - work from a “capture/kill list” of about 70 top insurgent commanders. These missions, which have been stepped up under the Obama administration, claim notable successes, but have sometimes gone wrong, killing civilians and stoking Afghan resentment.

• The military employs more and more drone aircraft to survey the battlefield and strike targets in Afghanistan, although their performance is less impressive than officially portrayed. Some crash or collide, forcing American troops to undertake risky retrieval missions before the Taliban can claim the drone’s weaponry.

• The Central Intelligence Agency has expanded paramilitary operations inside Afghanistan. The units launch ambushes, order airstrikes and conduct night raids. From 2001 to 2008, the C.I.A. paid the budget of Afghanistan’s spy agency and ran it as a virtual subsidiary.

There is also extensive documentation and speculation about the role of Pakistan’s wayward intelligence agency, the ISI, in cooperating with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Again, this is not earth shattering news as the American government has been lodging complaint after complaint with both the former government headed by President Musharraff and the current government about a blind eye being cast by the military and civilian authorities in Pakistan toward activities by their own intelligence service.

In the New York Times report, a good point is made about the provenance of this intelligence:

Taken together, the reports indicate that American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan, and all the way to the capital, Kabul.

Much of the information - raw intelligence and threat assessments gathered from the field in Afghanistan- cannot be verified and likely comes from sources aligned with Afghan intelligence, which considers Pakistan an enemy, and paid informants. Some describe plots for attacks that do not appear to have taken place.

But many of the reports rely on sources that the military rated as reliable.

Thus, a critical reason why clueless idiots like Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, should be prevented from acting like idiot children in dumping this startling amount of information raw, unexpurgated, without context and without reason on the public. The fact is that Assange doesn’t care what effect his triumphal act of America-hate has on live troops, the debate over the war, the effect on policy where thousands of lives are at stake, or even on advancing understanding of what is happening in Afghanistan. This was a reckless, petulant, adolescent, tantrum thrown by a cold, calculating, glory hunting ignoramus. And that goes double for the individual who purloined these documents in the first place.

Clearly, too much information gathered by the government is being classified as “Secret” or “Top Secret.” Many times, that classification is used to hide perfidious deeds or even simple political misbehavior. The volume of classified documents grows astronomically every year with more and more government bureaucrats given the ability to classify what they are doing. This is not a prudent use of the necessary secrecy that attends some government functions and actions. And if Assange was a crusader to rectify that imbalance, he might receive a little more sympathy from me.

But he is not. His purposes are malevolent - to destroy the credibility of the United States government and deliberately undermine public confidence in the war. And his methods are unconscionable. He - a foreigner after all - has presumed to inject himself  into a domestic political debate. I don’t want to hear that crap about our actions affecting everyone else in the world and that therefore, foreigners have a perfect right to butt their noses into our domestic politics. That is so nonsensical as to be sky blue idiocy. The very same people who make that argument would scream bloody murder if we injected ourselves into their domestic arguments about policies that affected the United States. Assange doesn’t have a leg to stand on morally, or politically for that matter. That’s because for all the hype, for all the worry that this document dump engendered in government, this may be the most spectacularly banal scoop in history.

Certainly, these are no Pentagon Papers. The information that has been held back from the public appears to be reasonable and necessary to the war effort, including the idea that the war was not going as well as some in the military and White House were saying. Did people expect otherwise? Besides, it is impossible, given their nature,  for these reports to have documented the broad strategic efforts by the military since most of the documents appear to give a worm’s eye view of the conflict, reporting on purely local conditions rather than trying to judge the overall progress made by both the American military and the civilian rebuilding efforts.

The only revelations that might merit a page one story in the media were the news that the Taliban has gotten a hold of some relatively ineffective (old) ground to air shoulder fired missiles (probably Stingers) and the larger extent of civilian casualties that the Pentagon chose not to publicize. As for the latter, the Pentagon may have not been forthcoming, but regional media was not shy about reporting on Afghan civilians being killed in our drone and manned air strikes. Domestic media was not reluctant in picking up on those reports either.

As for the missiles, the incident reports show that while there have been some successful strikes, many more were failures. That would seem to indicate either the Taliban don’t know how to use the missiles or they are older ordnance with attendant problems as far as aged rocket fuel, bad electronics, and perhaps even dud war heads. Was it necessary to keep their existence secret?  Probably not. Then again, there may be tactical reasons for not revealing our knowledge of this. Perhaps we want the Taliban to think we don’t know they possess such weapons. It is a certainty that Mr. Assange doesn’t know and just as clearly, doesn’t care.

The civilian casualty cover up is more serious. The American people certainly have a right to know what their military is doing in their name. However, it should be obvious to anyone except the most willfully blind (Glenn Greenwald) that the extraordinary lengths to which our forces go not to kill civilians that comes through crystal clear in the incident reports gives the lie to contentions by Assange and others that war crimes are being committed. Even after General McChrystal altered the Rules of Engagement to reflect the most careful and prudent measures taken to not even carry out offensive operations if civilians were in the area - at the risk of the lives of our own men - civilians were wounded and killed. If you want to make an argument against causing any civilian casualties, you might as well go all the way and argue against the war. Anything less brands you as a hypocrite.

There were also domestic politics at play in Afghanistan in covering up civilian casualties. Do we know if the Afghan government was also reluctant to give the whole story about the deaths of ordinary people? Would it matter? It’s a tougher call than if you simply examine the surface of the story and not reflect on the broader implications involved in going out of our way to announce the deaths of Afghan civilians.

As for the question of should the documents have been published? Of course not. Anyone who gave that anti-American nutcase Julian Assange - an Australian by birth - access to those documents should be arrested, tried, convicted, and sent to jail for a very long time. Untold damage is being done simply because no one knows what use of this information will be made by the enemy. What intelligence can they glean from its contents? Certainly the Taliban can figure out some of our weaknesses by reading through these documents. For that reason alone, Assange himself should be relentlessly pursued and arrested.

It is highly likely that this irresponsible release will result in additional American casualties.

By: Rick Moran at 10:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)