This story from Reuters, seems to indicate that Dems are hoping make some big gains in the upcoming governors’ races. Following Tim Kaine’s example (see below) they might. Further, as the story notes, many of the places where these upsets are likely to occur (such as California) are blue or purple states where the Republican is not viewed as strong. As the National Democratic Party implodes, it will be interesting to watch if these state races are successful for the Dems. I doubt whether anything gleaned from these races can translate into success for the Dems in 2008. But winning a majority of state executive offices cannot be a bad thing for their party. Republicans will have to step up their game on the state and local level--as Ken Blackwell is doing--if they want to continue to hold on to Congress.
Is there irony in the fact that the passing of Betty Friedan did not get as much attention this week as the passing of Coretta Scott King? Maggie Gallagher takes note of it in this article. She gives us a respectful but fair rememberance of Friedan and her legacy. Gallagher wonders whether we can finally recognize that: "The problem that feminism has never yet named is that women want to have children, and children compete with our ability to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into market production. Our children, by turning us into mothers, make us vulnerable, economically and emotionally." Can feminism or anything else ever change that?
Virginia Governor, Tim Kaine has an interesting article at Real Clear Politics discussing how he was able to win the Governors race in a red state. He argues that his win has something to teach the larger Democratic party. But as you read this ask yourself whether the lesson can be applied on a larger spectrum. Kaine backed away from his liberalism and appealed to conservative ideas in so doing. For example, he denied that his personal opposition to the death penalty would keep him from enforcing it because ". . . I took the oath of office as seriously as my wedding vows." He also got to mention his religious faith and Catholic ties in the process. He talked about tax-relief for homeowners, improving roads for suburban commuters, and increasing Pre-K programs--especially appealing to the demographic of married women. Clever. It worked for him in the way "fake Republicanism" almost did for Hackett in Ohio.
But I think the days of this kind of strategy working on the national scene are over for two reasons. First, the Dems arent going to be able to nominate someone like this given their radicalized base. Second, I think when it comes to the larger issues in a national debate (not roads and pre-K programs!) voters wont fall for fake Republicanism. Theres so little in it for us when we support their national programs. We dont even get the satisfaction of seeing the programs work! We see the Dems coming with their wish-list and we hide our wallets. And as for Kaines most effective hammer, tax-relief, does anyone see a Democrat of national standing making that case in 2008? As Bush might say, "Bring it on!"
She gushes about how this is democracy in action. No complaints about Joseph Lowery (who, as I said, is kinda entitled, as a preacher, to make his flock squirm). A gibe directed at JC (what the initials signify in the mind of our former President only he knows), but no real criticism. And cetainly no discussion of whether a funeral is an appropriate occasion for petty politics.
One thing PN clearly got right was her commentary on the Clintons:
The real news was how the Clintons used the funeral to unveil how they will run in 2008: Together, side by side, with beautiful hairdos. I haven’t seen them like this--both standing at the podium--since 1992, when they were new. In the years since, after the health-care failure and the Whitewater scandals, the West Wing attitude toward the president’s wife was a quiet and respectful "Get that woman off the podium!" Not anymore. All is new again. Mrs. Clinton has clearly been working on her public speaking, and attempted to use her hands as her husband uses his, now in an emphasizing arc, now resting on her chest. But his are large, long and elegant, and hers are puffed and grasping.
Both Clintons spoke in the cadence and with the imagery of the Bible. Mrs. Clinton’s first words, in which she referred to Mrs. King’s brave decision to continue her husband’s work after his murder, were steeped in religiosity. "As we are called, each of us must decide whether to answer that call by saying, ’Send me.’" She ended with, "The work of peace never ends. So we bid her earthly presence farewell. We wish her Godspeed on her homecoming. And we ask ourselves, ’Will we say, when the call comes, "Send me"?’"
Oh I think we will, Ms. Meanieface!
If you don’t understand that Mrs. Clinton was rehearsing her 2008 announcement speech, then you are a child and must go home and have a nice cup of cocoa.
This is what is coming: I have had a blessed life. And like so many people I could choose, after all these years, a life of comfort. Watch it from the sidelines, tend to my own concerns, watch the garden grow. But our nation calls out. And if we are to be Americans we must meet the call. "Send me."
With Bill nodding beside her, his hands clasped prayerfully in front of him, nodding and working that jaw muscle he works when he wants you to notice, for just a second, how hard it is sometimes for him to contain his admiration.
God I love them.
After those paragraphs, I can forgive the first part. Almost.
This article is interesting because it surveys the reactions of a wide range of Muslim organizations and individuals. Two points stand out. Junaid Ahmad, a law student at William and Mary, makes one of them:
"This is not just a matter of being for freedom of speech and against freedom of speech," Ahmad said. "The first thing we should realize is that Muslims dont accept the basic framework. The principal issue here is not freedom of speech, but the Islamophobic context in which such a caricaturing of the prophet is taking place. I think thats the issue here."
Nevertheless, Ahmad said he was against laws restricting such speech. "You cant give the state too much power. Its better to fight hate not through laws but education and community organizing and activism."
While I dont want to over-generalize, its probably fair to say that many American Muslims are not First Amendment absolutists. At the same time, if Ahmad is indicative, there is a certain sophisticated appreciation of limited government in some quarters.
The second point is a willingness to live responsibly in a pluralistic society:
"On the legal level and from an Islamic perspective, people have a choice," said Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, secretary-general of the Indianapolis-based Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim organization in the United States. "I dont expect my neighbor to have the same reverence about the Prophet Muhammad. All that we are expecting is that they dont insult a personality thats made such a historical contribution. This is more a responsibility of living in a pluralistic society than a question of legal restrictions."
Dega Muna agrees:
To some U.S. Muslims, the cartoons of Muhammad are more a question of racism than blasphemy. "The cartoons border on hate speech. If people depicted Jews in that light, people would be very upset. If you look at them, they are very similar to cartoons drawn of Jews in Nazi Germany," said Dega Muna, 40, a Somali-born Muslim who grew up mostly in the U.S. and Canada and who coordinates a weekly "progressive Muslim" meet-up group in New York City.
"I agree its free speech, but with free speech comes responsibility, and knowing the consequences of your actions. They were provoking ... and this is the reaction they got. Unfortunately, it kind of proves their point, that Muslims are violent."
I wish that Muna would take her show on the road, sharing the lessons she has learned about responsible and self-restrained conduct in a pluralistic society with the people who sanctioned the publication of these viciously anti-Semitic cartoons.
Of course, the article has its faults, in part simply repeating a talking point about how the outbreak of violence stems from the fact that "the cartoons are seen by Muslims as the latest in a long line of western crimes against Muslims, he said. Those crimes include colonization and the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims to more recent images of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and perceived western Islamophobia."
Theres also an attempt at moral equivalence, comparing a firebombing of a French movie theater showing The Last Temptation of Christ to the orchestated violence and widespread violent threats in response to these cartoons. Yes, there are intolerant and even violent Christians, just as there are intolerant and even violent Hindus, Jews, and atheists. But the scope of the violent threats and the state sponsorship of the violence are, in this case, on an entirely different plane.
I admire and agree with American Muslims who speak of the importance of self-restraint and responsibility in a pluralistic society. I hope that its a lesson that spreads throughout the worldwide Muslim community and that is sustained and sustainable even as Muslim populations grow in numbers and influence.
This is the cause of the apparent Democratic spiral to obscurity according to Jonah Goldberg in this interesting op-ed in todays Los Angeles Times. Its a nice overview of low-lights of their disasterous last week--which only augment the trend of decline. I liked these lines the best: "Some Democrats are furious that their party doesnt have its own ideas. Other say they do have ideas, theyre just keeping them secret for now. That sounds a lot like the high school geek who insists that his girlfriend is really hot but lives in an undisclosed location in Canada."
This book, Father Abraham: Lincolns Relentless Struggle to End Slavery, by Richard Striner, just landed on my desk. It is amazing how much is published on Lincoln each year, each month, seemingly each week. This looks like it is worth reading. I am also reminded that Lincolns birthday is coming up (the 12th) and you might want to celebrated it by reading something of his aloud, perhaps this or this.
And this is something I wrote on his birthday a few years back. Happy Birthday Old Abe!
William Batchelder and Larry Obhof bring two cases to our attention that are before the Ohio Supreme Court. It seems that the City of Norwood has attempted to use its eminent domain power to sell private property to a private developer using some very suspicious "studies" that declare that the property in question is "blighted." Despite language in the Ohio Constitution and previous Ohio Supreme Court precedents that clearly forbid the use of eminent domain for private purposes, several courts have ruled in favor of the city. As Obhof and Batchelder explain:
The Ohio Supreme Court now has the opportunity to make history. It is the first state supreme court to address these issues following Kelo. Many more states will follow, and Ohio’s decision in Norwood will serve as a bellwether for other courts looking to protect property rights.
Matt Labash writes on the wars against Supreme Court Justice David Souter and his views on eminent domain: Some people up in Weare, New Hampshire, are trying to steal Souters home! Its a form of justice, isnt it?
This WaPo article clarifies the problems inherent in the pre-9/11 law enforcement attitude I noted here. Apparently the FISA judges don’t regard evidence generated through warrantless wiretaps as admissible in making the case for a FISA warrant.
Connected with this story is this WSJ editorial, which argues for the repeal of FISA:
What FISA boils down to is an attempt to further put the executive under the thumb of the judiciary, and in unconstitutional fashion. The way FISA works is that it gives a single judge the ability to overrule the considered judgment of the entire executive branch. In the case of the NSA wiretaps, the Justice Department, NSA and White House are all involved in establishing and reviewing these wiretaps. Yet if a warrant were required, one judge would have the discretion to deny any request.
As a practical war-fighting matter, this interferes with the ability to gather intelligence against anonymous, al Qaeda-linked phone numbers. FISA warrants apply to people, and are supposed to require "probable cause" that the subject is an agent of a foreign power. But as Mr. Gonzales and Deputy National Intelligence Director Michael Hayden explained Monday, in fast-moving anti-terror operations it’s often impossible to know if someone on the U.S. end of an al Qaeda phone call is actually an "agent." That means the government must operate on a different "reasonable basis" standard.
I’d quibble with one part of this argument. In his colloquy with Mike DeWine on Monday, the Attorney General seemed to concede that "reasonable basis" and "probable cause" were equivalent terms, but he also implied that "probable cause" works differently when we’re talking about identifying agents rather than about the commission of a crime. The latter obviously deals with the law enforcement, the former with intelligence-gathering in wartime. If indeed the FISA court won’t grant warrants on the basis of information developed through this alternative route, they are operating on a pre-9/11 basis. And, by the way, if you actually read law’s documentation requirements, you’d be compelled to agree that it’s not a "nimble" instrument in a fast-moving situation, and it’s not clear that it can be revised to make it so.
Update #2: This WSJ editorial comments on yesterdays WaPo article. And heres the transcript of Hugh Hewitts conversation with John Eastman and Erwin Chemerinsky about the behavior of the two FISA judges.
Power Line calls our attention to another Amir Taheri piece, this one taking a close look at the timeline between the publication of the cartoons and the riots. Taheri notes that both Syria and Iran have an interest in putting the Danes--set to assume the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council--on the defensive and that both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood (the chief non-governmental agitators) had reasons to postpone their indignation until after elections had been concluded.
Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter Februarys drawing.
Pajamas Media reports that the offensive Mohammed cartoons were actually published in Egypt last October, during Ramadan. He has the scans top prove it. Very interesting.
Amir Taheri argues that neither images nor satire are prohibited by Islam. Two snippets:
The "rage machine" was set in motion when the Muslim Brotherhood--a political, not a religious, organization--called on sympathizers in the Middle East and Europe to take the field. A fatwa was issued by Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a Brotherhood sheikh with his own program on al-Jazeera. Not to be left behind, the Brotherhoods rivals, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) and the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba), joined the fray. Believing that there might be something in it for themselves, the Syrian Baathist leaders abandoned their partys 60-year-old secular pretensions and organized attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut.
Islamic ethics is based on "limits and proportions," which means that the answer to an offensive cartoon is a cartoon, not the burning of embassies or the kidnapping of people designated as the enemy. Islam rejects guilt by association. Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.
Apparently, today is the 186th anniversary of the birth of William Tecumseh Sherman. Rich Policz takes the occasion as an opportunity to set the record straight on Shermans march through the South. Sherman has been much maligned by history as a brute who unethically terrorized civilians in the South. As Policz points out:
Most history books dont tell how bloodless the march was for both sides. Of course there were those individuals and small groups, who crazed with rage at Shermans men, would raise their guns only to be shot down, but by and large the Union army was very restrained in their evacuating of civilians before ripping apart their world. Furthermore, by crushing the spirit of the rebels it shortened the continued bloody collisions of the two opposing armies in other theatres of the war.
Don gave a talk in Canberra on the Canadian election and generously shared his text with me. (It will find its way into print sooner or later, but hasn’t been published yet.) He has lots of interesting things to say and gave me permission to quote excerpts. Without further ado, I will.
[W]hat seems to be happening is that the Liberals are becoming the party of English Canada’s big cities with large recent immigrant populations, particularly Toronto, but also Vancouver and the anglophone and allophone parts of Montreal (the ‘West Island’). For the past 30 to 40 years the Liberals have been fostering two relevant beliefs, that multiculturalism is the Canadian essence or identity and that they as a party own the patent. In this election they used a variety of code words – particularly ‘Canadian values,’ ‘tolerance,’ and ‘the Charter’ – to suggest that the Canadian consensus would be irreparably damaged and the very essence of Canada threatened if they were to lose power. Their fear campaign seems to have sustained their vote in Canada’s sophisticated, ‘diverse,’ upscale urban markets, but progressive managerial multiculturalism sells less well elsewhere, even in large cities, such as Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton, where native-born Canadians and older European immigrants are more numerous. Admittedly, multiculturalism itself was not openly discussed: Paul Martin tried desperately to get his opponents to declare their opposition to ‘Canadian values,’ but they insisted on talking about other things (crime, scandals, taxes, health care, fiscal imbalances, etc.). The emotionally charged differences between Liberals and the Conservatives that were openly discussed – abortion, gun control, and gay marriage – have little or nothing directly to do with multiculturalism. Nonetheless, they seemed to be helping to create the divide between the cities of high immigration and the rest of the country that one can see in the returns.
If this division were to deepen and if the dividing line were to shift a little in the Conservative’s favour, so that they could count on winning a few more suburban ridings, the result would be a fundamentally new alignment of partisan forces. This is the alignment that I assume the Conservatives will be trying to create, without scaring anyone; that the Liberals may be powerless to avoid; and that some journalists may have been anticipating when just before the election they wrote of Canada ‘veering to the right.’
Don also writes with great subtlety and sophistication about the challenges faced by the various parties on the Canadian scene. I’m not going to give you all of it, but I will share a paragraph about the Liberals’ major challengers on their main big city turf:
In English Canada, too, the Liberals have enemies on their left in the form of Canada’s Labor party, the NDP, led by a former Toronto alderman, Jack Layton. A few years ago, when the party chose him as its new leader, it was not just abandoning an older, more doctrinaire style of ‘socialism,’ it was in effect choosing to focus on the big cities as the places where it should concentrate its future efforts (rather than trying to regain lost ground on the Prairies and in the one-industry towns where it had tended to win seats in the past) and on practical measures likely to appeal to middle-class city dwellers (rather than the old rhetoric that used to appeal to theoretically inclined farmers and workers). This new urban strategy seems to be working. If Layton’s modest success continues, the NDP could soon represent as serious a threat to the Liberal party in the big cities as the Conservatives party does now in the country as a whole, given its surprising breakthrough in Quebec.
Finally, here’s a chunk of Don’s conclusion:
Harper’s most important actions are likely to be budgetary and administrative. In parliament, the next two or three years are likely to be ones of very careful political jockeying. Canadians have had three general elections in a little over five years. No party will want the responsibility for bringing on another one any time soon, but the Conservatives, after a decent period of reassuringly moderate government, will probably be the most willing to try their luck again, in the hope of securing an absolute majority and a freer hand to make whatever transformative changes they may have on their ‘hidden agendas.’
If these bits have piqued your interest, drop me a line and I’ll send you the whole thing.
Nagurney & Stolbergs piece in The New York Times is quite revealing. The Dems should be doing better than they are. It’s been a tough few months for them. The Democrats are "sensing missed opportunities." The party’s problems seem "tangled"; they’re "frustrated" at this "pivotal moment," while their authority "has been diluted." Of course, they have many (Dean, Pelosi, Gore) "flawed" messengers," but the "absence of one or two obvious leaders." There are some revealing quotes (see Durbin and Frost), and some shocking ones. While Nancy Pelosi is admitting that they can’t win by just not being the GOP, yet she says that there is no rush to set out a program, pointing to the Dems’ success in defeating Bush’s Social Security proposal last year. Here is Pelosi: "’People said, "You can’t beat something with nothing,"’ she said, arguing that the Democrats had in fact accomplished precisely that this year. ’I feel very confident about where we are.’" That confidence that you can beat something with nothing and two cents will get you a cup of coffee.
While it didn’t rise, or rather sink, to the level of the Wellstone rally, two speakers tossed barbs at George W. Bush. I can almost forgive Joseph Lowery, who has the preacher’s right to make his congregation squirm in their seats, even if, like many preachers, his sentiments tend to outrun his facts.
But Jimmy Carter is another story. He still is a politician who shouldn’t be hiding behind a pulpit: if he wants to dish it out, he has to let his target respond. Fortunately, on this occasion the President showed more class than his predecessor, as his gracious remarks demonstrate: one can acknowledge past and present injustice, while celebrating a life well-lived, and, above all, without directly casting aspersions on those who are sharing as brothers and sisters in the celebration.
One last point, before I leave: While his remarks aren’t as well-wrought as his successor’s (Gerson and McGurn are extraordinary craftsmen), Bill Clinton puts Jimmy Carter to shame, especially when he observes that "we’re here to honor a person" and then says this:
We’re always going to have our political differences. We’re always going to have things we can do, and I must say, this has been brilliantly executed, and enormously both moving and entertaining moments. But we’re in the house of the Lord. And most of us are too afraid to live the life we oughtta live because we have forgotten the promise that was made to Martin Luther King, to Coretta Scott King, and all of us, most beautifully for me stated in Isiah, “Fear not, I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by thy name. Thou art mine.”
Words fitly spoken at a funeral, coming out of anyone’s mouth.
It may be that the creator and publisher of an offensive cartoon uncivilly insult others, but those who react with violence to that insult implicitly reject the fundamental premise of Locke’s argument for toleration, because they are acting as if they could get belief through "outward force."
According to Locke, the man who makes the demand we are considering is telling you what religion you must adopt and in effect trying to rule you. On my reading of Locke, that is not grounds for civility but manly vigilance, firmness, and action.
Dave thus fleshes out the point that Roger Kimball makes more briefly here.
But, wait, thats not all. John Zvesper reflects on these matters from his perch on the continent destined to be the crucible of the conflict between militant Islam and liberal principles...if only our European friends remember what liberalism means. Heres the conclusion:
The cartoon affair raises the question of how effectively Europeans—and their political descendants in the rest of the liberal democratic world—can and will clarify (to themselves as well as to their allies and their enemies) what they stand for. Is clarifying and upholding the principles of liberal democracy not essential to maintaining our self respect, and therefore of gaining and keeping the respect of allies? Is it not therefore necessary to the success of the Bush strategy of isolating Islamic warmongers from their peaceful co-religionists?
If western politics is not—like the mirrors in Wertheim Park—broken beyond repair, liberal democrats will embrace a more confident response to religious intolerance. The dogmatic skepticism that says that neither nature nor heaven can help us—that liberal democratic politics has no natural, transcultural justification—is the basis of multicultural hypersensitivity and unwarranted censorship. It is not a basis for defeating political tyranny, but for surrendering to it.
You can begin reading the transcripts of yesterday’s inquisition, er, hearings here. There are four parts, so if you’re a slow reader, you’ll never finish. Here’s the AG’s opening statement. Here is Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts’s letter to Senators Specter and Leahy, in which he defends the NSA program. And, finally, here is Findlaw’s NSA documents page.
My effort to make some sense of it all will be posted over at TAE Online by tomorrow morning. The long and the short of it is that members of Congress have long had the opportunity--and still have the opportunity--to pull the plug on the program. Why hasn’t anyone tried? Why does all the energy go into attempting to embarrass the Administration?
As the rest of the country remembers the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta, Los Angeles County jails are in the process of segregating along racial lines. After racial riots broke out over the weekend, even the ACLU had to admit that the segregation lived up to the standard of "extraordinary circumstances" required according to a Supreme Court ruling from last year. The riots and the lockdown continue on today. The ACLU argues that the problem is overcrowding. County supervisors argue that the problem stems not from lack of funding but from understaffing (currently they have about one deputy for every 50 inmates). I toured the Pitchess Detention Center--the subject of most of the rioting--back in 1999. It is hard to imagine how one deputy for every 50 inmates can possibly do the job there--although it was one of the most organized and efficient operations I have ever seen. The inmates there are pretty serious offenders.
Well, probably not, but during the Super Bowl halftime last night I let my seven-year-old watch the Rolling Stones in all their decrepitude, and she said: "I dont like these guys very much." Hope for the future.
Today is the 95th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. Happy birthday to the Gipper, and now let’s everybody go out and name an airport or highway or monument for him in your county.
Instapundit posted this Mohammed Image archive, to show that his image has been portrayed throughout Islamic history. Captains Quarters has more on how the Imams are artificially enhancing all of this. Also see this interesting op-ed by Charles Moore in the London Telegraph. A Muslim (a moderate?), Ibn Warraq, defends the publication of the cartoons in Der Spiegel. A senior Islamic cleric in Australia asks (threatens?) the Aussies not to publish said cartoons. CNN has already made clear that it will not show the cartoons "out of respect [fear?] for Islam." The BBC has done the same, but being British and sophisticated and thoughtful and all, they have deliberated and anguished over the decision.
Note this CNN story on the burning of the Danish consulate in Beirut. Note the last paragraph, wherein the Danish papers cultural editor said that the uproar came after "radical imams from Denmark traveled to the Middle East, deliberately lying about these cartoons," and said that the paper was owned by the government and was preparing a new translation of the Koran "censoring the word of Allah, which is a grave sin according to Islam." The fact that everyone has apologized for everything and has been sensitive to everyone has nothing to do with any of this, that is now obvious. No one is caricaturing Islam. We are all responsible for our own portraits, in the end. Note that it looks as though the Egyptian ships captain may have been the first to skedaddle. And thirteen Al Qaeda bad guys (including the guys responsible for the USS Cole bombing) escaped from a prison in Yemen. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has compared Irans nuclear policy to the Nazi partys rise to power in Germany, warning that in the past the nations of the world refused to take a stance against concrete threats, enabling some of historys greatest catastrophes.
And here is the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, comparing Bush to Hitler: "The imperialist, genocidal, fascist attitude of the U.S. president has no limits. I think Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W. Bush." Nepal grinds to a halt, as Maoists call for a general strike. I could go on with the bad news. Yet, there is always some good news. A young man saves the life of the woman who saved his life seven years earlier. Amazing. But not as amazing as the upcoming Steelers victory, which I am going to go watch.
Jack Kelly summarizes the evidence. Is it time to demand an inspection regime for Syria?
Nothing but honor and applause to Mark Steyn for this column. It is true, hillarious, and sobering because it is true. I donâ€™t know how else one can talk about this latest spasm in the Muslim world. It is a comedy. No, it is a tragedy. No, it is a slice of reality that is horrifying. Try David Warren, he may shed some light on this. He thinks we ainâ€™t seen nothinâ€™ yet.