Leonard Cohen is aging, getting ready to make his case to his maker. So, he turns an old love song into more of a prayer. Solomon (the son of David and Bat Sheba) wrote the erotic Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs). The Rabbis included it in the Tanach (Jewish Bible) arguing that it describes the love between G-d and Israel. Cohen rewrote the lyrics saying, “It’s, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion…. It’s a rather joyous song.”
For decades, the pages of The New York Times have been filled with some of the most irreponsible journalism in the lamestream media. It has gotten particularly vitriolic and biased, however, over the past eight years. The editorials and reportage about President Bush have been blindly and raucously vicious, unfair, and completely corrosive to a Commander-in-Chief in wartime.
Sometimes we get caught up in something that engulfs us when all we ever wanted to do was the right thing. When the lava begins flowing over us it is suddenly we realize that maybe we should have checked that mountain a little more carefully before we began climbing it. If Rick Warren is feeling that way this morning it is understandable. If he is not feeling that way then maybe he does not fully realize the problem he is creating for himself and his followers.
Who died and made the National Bureau of Economic Research boss? During the past two days my in-box has been flooded by NEWS ALERT: RECESSION OFFICIALLY STARTED IN 2007 or some simulacra thereof. So who made the NBER the Supreme Court of recession calls? I asked them. The answer was not really confidence inspiring.
It’s astonishing and a little horrifying that America’s elites know so little about their country’s history. Case in point: Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute. Jared is an influential left-ish economic polemicist and a sometime adviser to Barack Obama on economic affairs. I’ve debated with Jared dozens of times over the past several years, but what happened this week was especially disturbing.
For years George W. Bush promised not to let Iran go nuclear on his watch. Well, technically he is going to keep his word. But the reality is that Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than ever before and he is going to do nothing, but nothing, to stop it. It all turned out to be part of the hot, actionless rhetoric His foreign policy mentor and the woman who convinced him not to do anything to stop Iran from going nuclear, Condi Rice, explained today that Washington does not need to act because the new American ally, Iraq, can be relied upon “to be a bulwark against undue Iranian influence in the region.” Yes, you read correctly. Realist old/new defense secretary Gates, has seemed to make a similar argument to Arab governments worried about Iran:
As I observed the immediate aftermath of the shoe throwing incident in Baghdad, I noted that the most striking effect occurred among the Western public, and particularly within the United States. Commentators and regular citizens were asking themselves again, seven years later, “why do they hate us?” missing one more time the fact that this particular violent expression, far from being a unique emotional reaction by one individual, is part of a war of ideas; it is a continuous organized confrontation over the future of the region. In short, this was another form of Jihadism, one I am coining now as a Jihad by the Shoe (Jihad bil Hizaa). Here is why.
Western Awe of So-Called Arab Reaction
The main question on anchors’ minds and lips reflected the shock and awe felt by many Americans. It wasn’t really about the Iraqi journalist al Zaidi targeting President Bush with his two leather “missiles,” for in liberal democracies, the scene of flying eggs, pies or liquid in the direction of politicians, legislators, Prime Ministers or Presidents is part of the political culture. Even obscene gestures and words are frequently uttered against leaders; this behavior comes with the package of democratic freedoms. It ends up usually with a sensational picture on the front page, as a joke on TV’s late night shows, and/or it can come with some minor legal consequences.
But the shoe bombing of President Bush stunned Western commentators for another reason: the seemingly vast outpouring of support the thrower received in the region. In the absence of sound expert analysis as to the meaning of the colorful reporting on Arab channels, and as many Western media went overboard in their guilt-ridden commentaries, the public was left alone to figure this out. Obviously their conclusion was that “whatever we do for them, they will continue to hate us.”
That’s exactly the gist of almost every question I was asked by the media: “After all we’ve done for them, freed them from Saddam, lost three thousand American men and women and spent billions of dollars, they made a hero of a shoe thrower against our President.” While the unease in America and in many Western countries is legitimate, the cause of their frustration, not the shoe thrower, should be blamed: as before, the public was very poorly served by its media and academia. The public simply wasn’t told – with accuracy - what actually unfolded in that incident, which was another battle in the ongoing War of Ideas, aimed at defeating the will of the free world. Here is how:
The Shoe Thrower
According to Arab commentators, Iraqi journalist Muntazar al Zaidi, who launched his two shoes against U.S. President George Bush while calling him “dog”, is a controversial militant. Dr. Abdel Khaliq Hussein, writing in Elaph accused al Zaidi of being a “friend of the terrorists.” Furthermore, along with other analysts, Hussein said the “shoe thrower” used to know about the “terrorist attacks before they took place and managed to be at the location beforehand.” These are serious accusations against a person who was made into an icon of “Arab pride” by the Jihadi media machine. Furthermore, Hussein wrote that al Zaidi fabricated his abduction story last year to get “maximum publicity.” One can see a pattern here. Maybe President Bush’s instincts were right.
In the daily al Shaq al Awsat, another observer wrote that al Zaidi is a Sadrist. Others disagree and describe him as radical opportunist. Nidal Neaissi, also writing in Elaph, reminded his readers of an historical precedent in Bedouin history: a well known greedy man, Abi Qassem al Tamburi was always trying to get rid of his shoe by throwing it against well known people, attracting the support (and more) of their enemies. Too many comments about the so-called “shoe hero” have appeared in the Arab media - unread in the West - leaving us with one conclusion. The man had a plan for his shoe: a major show. And it worked.
The Force behind the Shoe Thrower
It gets better when you investigate the organization paying his salary and expenses. Al Baghdadiya TV, based in Cairo, is owned by another controversial figure in the murky world of Middle Eastern media: Abdel Hussein Shaaban, an Iraqi Shia from Najaf and ex-Communist. According to Iraqi opposition sources based in London, Shaaban was an operative for Saddam, tasked with discrediting the Baathist leader’s critics around the world. Obviously it comes with payroll, according to the same sources.
But more recent accusations leveled by media experts in the region claim that al Baghdadiya TV, like dozens of other recipients, are getting significant funding from the Iranian regime. Military expert W. Thomas Smith, Jr., writing in World Defense Review has described the huge propaganda operation unleashed by Tehran directly, and via its network in Beirut, to “influence” Arab and Western media and to direct them against the regime’s foes.
Blasting George Bush, and more importantly his project of “spreading Democracy”, is high on Iran’s list but also on many other regimes’ agendas. An article by Ali Al Gharash titled “Shoes Terrify Regimes Now” shows that a consensus exists within the region’s establishment to demolish the image of the man who dared (despite the failure of U.S. bureaucracy) to “do it,” that is to tear down their wall of radical ideologies. The shoe thrower was clearly on a mission to do just that by striking at the “head” of the enemy with his pair of shoes.
The Making of a Jihadi Hero
Minutes after the incident took place and was captured by the media feed and aired worldwide, a snowball flurry of releases, special shows with commentators - gathered too fast for the circumstance - were on the airwaves. Interestingly al Baghdadiya TV issued – faster than the speed of light - a long press release calling for struggle. Minutes after, a vast magma of satellite channel sympathizers of Jihadism, and of sites virulently anti-democracy, exploded with incitement and calls for mobilization - and some were even as provocative as characterizing the ballistic exercise by al Zaidi as an “act of Jihad.”
Within six hours, the airwaves in the region were invaded by the “shoe Jihad.” Within 12 hours, friendly voices beaming from Western networks joined the orchestra in aggrandizing the matter. “A shoe in the Arab culture is the worst epithet one can use, it expresses so deep an anger,” blasted one of the oldest international media out of Europe. More seasoning was added on this side of the Atlantic. “Analysts” for mainstream networks - most of whom can’t speak the language - began lecturing the stunned public on the “lessons to be learned and on the pain felt in those lands at the sight of President Bush.” And the framing continued on. By the second day, both the Arab satellite cohorts and the “specialists” on “how to understand the region” were breaking to the world the grandiose news: a new hero was born in the Muslim world, the shoe thrower. Give it a few weeks and Hollywood will buy the story and make a movie out of it. Give it a year and it will be taught as a course by our academic cinema.
The West is Dragged to Confusion
Within Western democracies, informational confusion reigns: this is “Bushophobia” claim the most sophisticated. It is impossible, after all the Coalition has done to free Iraqis from Saddam, that demonstrators are chanting for the shoe thrower. Others, less confident in the ability of the region’s peoples to accept democracy and to be thankful to the liberators, began a psychological withdrawal: let them live under dictatorships for they don’t deserve better, said many talk show hosts.
When a Western response like this happens, connoisseurs of Jihadi tactics know that the “shoe Jihad” worked impeccably. It spread doubts in the heads of Westerners, particularly among Americans, so that few will support a U.S. President in the future if he asks for sacrifices to “bring change” to the region. The combined propaganda machine of the Baathists, Salafists, Khomeinists and other authoritarians scored a major coup in a job lasting only 48 hours: they forced a confused West to believe that the region is utterly opposed to liberal democracy. Consequently, the next White House and other chanceries across the Atlantic need to learn from the shoe attack: do not intervene in Darfur; do not pressure the Iranian regime; do not help Lebanon against Hezbollah and let go of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pro-Democracy Voices Lash Out
But the critics of the “Shoe Jihad”were as fast as the petro-dollar machine in reacting. Indeed, and unlike what most Westerners were swift to conclude, pro-democracy voices were loud and clear: from Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and across the Arab world, and particularly from Iraq, journalists, bloggers, talk show hosts, teachers and artists blasted the Jihadi comedy and rejected the “unholy shoeing.” For each email on al Jazeera supportive of the insult, another email landed on liberal web sites and editorial rooms. How the incident was reported in the Middle East depended on who stood behind which medium. Sadly, if the funders were petro-regimes, the “Shoe Jihad” won. The other side’s volume was too low to be broadcast throughout the world. International media, incorporating the West’s global apology syndrome, obviously showcased the “partisans of the shoe” rather than those who were embarrassed by it.
A War of Ideas
The West was left to see only what it was allowed to watch: a repeat of previous cycles in the War of Ideas. Viewers in New York and Paris can see the angry protesters of the Danish Cartoons and Guantanamo and the insulting of a U.S. President; but they cannot see the men and women who wish to shoe bomb their own dictators and oppressors. Sometimes the public has a mere glimpse of the other side: when Saddam’s statue was toppled and beaten with shoes for few hours, and when a million people demanded the Assad regime to take their boots off of Lebanon’s soil.
Meanwhile, the battle for minds and hearts rages relentlessly - a confrontation so far won by those who wage Jihad by all means, as they say. This time, it was by the shoe.
Jay Nordlinger: “One reason I became a conservative, many years ago, is that the Left in my hometown — Ann Arbor, Mich. — insisted on politicizing everything. There was never any respite from politics. There was no “safe zone.” Politics was infused into everything — and it was one kind of politics, of course: Left.” Read the rest here.
The New York Times says that the source of the economic crash begins and ends with George W. Bush. This is beyond partisan and into the realm of propaganda. You want a straightforward explanation for the crash? I’ll give you the straightforward explanation for the crash: Democrats in Congress decided that they were going to ram as many poor people as they could into homeownership by crying “racism” when unqualified buyers couldn’t get loans. There. That’s it. Aside from a few relatively unimportant commas and dotted i’s, that’s the heart of the story right there. It’s the first economic tragedy traceable directly to political correctness.
Dock Ellis died the other day. He is known for his cantankerous attitude when he played (which I can attest to, having worked at Wrigley Field on the field when he was with the Pirates). But he really wasn’t a bad guy. He is most famous for pitching a no-hitter under the influence of LSD, at least according to his autobiography he wrote when he was out of baseball. Can’t say whether it was true but he was a great pitcher, he did pitch a no-hitter, and he might have taken LSD so hey, you figure it out. The best story about him is when he was traded to the Yankees for another Doc, Doc Medich. Medich wasn’t the pitcher Ellis was. The Pirates sportswriters saw Medich and realized they had been had. One of them watched him pitch and said to the others, “The other guy is a better doctor than this guy!”
The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), an association of the world’s Islamic states, is pushing the United Nations to outlaw “defamation” of religion in general, and of one religion in particular.
My remarks that follow are based on 27 years of researching in the field of international relations and conflicts, and on a decade of teaching Religions and World Politics. Since I published my first book in Arabic in 1979, where I addressed the issue of relationships between civilizations and cultural blocs worldwide, I have had the opportunity to publish ten books and hundreds of articles focusing on the rise of ideologies including self-described, theologically-inspired ones such as Jihadism. I also had the opportunity to interact and meet politicians, legislators, authors and academics on three continents, particularly under the auspices of the European Foundation for Democracy. In addition, I was pleased to contribute to the preparation of legislation in the US Congress and initiatives at the European Parliament to defend religious freedom and basic rights of minorities around the world. Last but not least I was privileged to work with diplomats and NGOS on preparing for and passing UN Security Council Resolutions related to the Middle East.
From this background I have prepared a few comments about some initiatives put forth by members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to be introduced at the UN Human Rights Council (headquartered in Geneva) and at the Durban II Conference on Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination. These initiatives center on the driving principle of sanctioning what was coined as “defamation” of religions, and particularly the Islamic faith, under the term “Islamophobia.”
Let me first state clearly that I do agree with UN efforts, declarations and legislations aimed at countering incitement to violence, physical and psychological against any religion or religious group, or on behalf of any religion or ideology against others. This principle is universal and should apply in protection of Muslims anywhere, and of non-Muslims as well. Any religion or religious group who are the victims of discrimination, intimidation or suppression must receive protection under international law. The United Nations and all of its institutions, including the Human Rights Council, as well as its conferences, including Durban II, must be even-handed and fair in extending their protection on a universal basis, to Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, all other religions as well as to Atheists and Agnostics. No exception should be made to a particular faith or community and no privilege should be granted to one at the exception of the other. Thus we believe that the highest protection granted to all is epitomized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948. Creating another special Charter for one particular religion group would be an act of discrimination against all others.
However, the current proposal by the OIC member States to create legislation that would sanction perpetrators of “defamation of religion” has at least five problems.
Problem of Definition
First, there is a problem about the substance of the concept. Indeed how can one define “defamation” as an aggression against faith, any faith? Where is the limit between criticizing a set of beliefs or ideas and defaming a whole religion? How can members of a religion reform their system if they cannot criticize it? Will reform become synonymous to defamation? If the very concept of “defamation” is not clarified and thoroughly defined, legislation such a sought would lead to blocking reforms and punishing reformers. As it stands at this stage the wording of “defamation of religion” — even if some are well intentioned in pushing for it — is a stark reminder of the blasphemy laws of medieval times which were behind religious persecution and the Inquisition. Defamation of religion as a concept has to be specified and accepted within the state of international consensus so that it won’t become a serious setback to human rights instead of an additional protection to it.
Targets of “Defamation”
By opening the door to create a new set of protected categories under international law, in this case religions — and particularly the Islamic faith — one has to expect that other religious groups, faiths and sects will also want to protect their entities from “defamation.” To the camp irritated by so-called “Islamophobia” (since it still has to be debated internationally) other quarters will respond with “Christaphobia,” “Judeophobia” or “Hinduophobia,” let alone possibly “Atheophobia.”
Muslims have serious reasons to fear discrimination and these fears have to be addressed, but Christians, Jews and Hindus (to name a few) also have significant reasons to fear discrimination. One example can illustrate so-called “defamation” as applied theologically to non-Muslims: the principle of “Infidels.” Indeed, the theological identification of non-Muslims as Kuffar is considered by the latter as a standing, institutional, theologically-based defamation of their very faiths. If the “defamation of religion” initiative led by the OIC passes as legislation its very first implementation should automatically sanction the xenophobic principle of “Kuffar.” If that concept is to be sanctioned under “defamation” those who are attempting to abuse the concept of “defamation” would have opened Pandora’s box, exploding the relationship between modernity and religions. Is the OIC ready to include banning the term “Infidels” as part of its initiative?
NGO Panel at UN Geneva
Muslims’ Human Rights
Such an international law, if enacted, will be harmful first to Muslims seeking their Human Rights inside the Muslim world. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, particularly those claiming theological supremacy, are already abusing their own Muslim citizens on the ground of defamation to religion, as they see it. The Taliban oppression of the Afghan people, including women and minorities, was claimed to be in defense of their faith against those who defamed it. The use of the principle of defending religion from defamation by ideological regimes has led to unparalleled abuse of human rights.
Such abuses, in different versions and degrees, have been practiced in Iran, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. In other more moderate or secular countries in the Muslim world, courts and clerics have issued rulings against so-called defamation, not always fairly. We’ve seen militant organizations and individuals taking the matter in their own hands despite the rule of law. Muslim women, students, artists, workers and secular political parties have been abused in the name of defending the faith against “defamation”.
Such realities have also been part of the history of both Western and Eastern Christianity and other religious civilizations. In the contemporary Muslim world — with all the tensions provoked by radicalization — such an international “defamation law” would provide oppressive regimes and extremist factions with a formidable weapon to suppress opposition and intellectuals. Those Muslims who see “otherwise” would be accused of defamation of the official interpretation of the faith. Radical Sunni and Shia clerics would invoke this international legislation to suppress each other’s sects. In short, if this concept is irresponsibly approved at the UN, it will have incalculable negative consequences on the Muslim world’s civil societies and their future.
Non Muslim Minorities
In Muslim countries where non Muslims form a minority, such an anti-defamation agenda will be devastating against the weakest segments of society. The legislation will be used by Islamist regimes and militant organizations to repress these minorities under the aegis of defending “faith.” Christian Copts in Egypt, who call for equality of treatment with other citizens, are often accused of “defaming” the state religion and thus kept in an awkward state of political backwardness. Baha’is, Christians and Jews are suppressed in Iran in the guise of defaming the established religious hierarchy. In Iraq, Assyro-Chaldeans have been physically attacked by Jihadi terrorists under the slogan of “insulting religion.” In many cases, as in South Sudan, minorities reject the application of Sharia on their own communities. With “anti-defamation” becoming UN sponsored, any rejection of Sharia will automatically become synonymous with “insulting the faith.” Hence religious minorities which should be protected under human rights laws will find themselves persecuted by such a declaration.
Perhaps the most dangerous consequence of the adoption of vague “anti-defamation” legislation — allegedly to address “Islamophobia” — will be to embolden the Jihadi Islamist movements around the world into further violence. Indeed, both Salafists and Khomeinists already claim they are defending the Muslim world against infidels. If the OIC is successful in forcing such a declaration through the UN or the Durban Conference into international law, Jihadists around the world will score a tremendous moral and psychological victory by claiming that the present conflicts are indeed about religion, and that Islam is indeed under attack at the hands of Infidels. An anti-defamation declaration will validate al Qaeda’s agenda and reinforce the Iranian regime’s ambitions. The Jihadists’ ideology, based essentially on their interpretation of theology, builds radicalization by asserting that they are the defenders of the faith. A declaration against the defamation of Islam declaration will serve their strategic interests perfectly, and fuel their indoctrination processes. In short, it will protect their Takfiri ideology.
If an “anti defamation” declaration or covenant were to be forced through the UN Human Rights Council and the Durban II Conference in 2009 by the OIC, it would have dangerous consequences for the credibility of the UN Council in Geneva, for the state of international law, and for the state of human rights around the world. Among these consequences would be:
1. It will find itself opposed by many democratic and Human Rights NGOs and activists, both within the Muslim World and internationally, on the grounds of it creating discrimination against liberal Muslims, non Muslims and other faiths as well. Such a declaration will create more “phobia” than ever before since it is the product of the medieval concept of inquisition rather than the progressive concept of equality among individuals.
2. The Human Rights Council of the UN would thus be transformed by authoritarian regimes and radical ideologues into a “super regime” covering up and aiding in the oppression of democratic opposition, women and minorities in many countries. This would constitute a major blow to the credibility not only of the highest international institution in defense of Human Rights but eventually of the United Nations as a whole.
3. Such a declaration would naturally unleash a massive protest movement against the “super discrimination regime” by NGOs and activists from Arab, Muslim, and Hindu, African, Asian, Westerner and other backgrounds. The inquisitorial system advanced by members of the OIC against criticism and reform would be opposed as a return to the oppressive, medieval methods of the Dark Ages, which through harsh religious defamation laws caused great harm to Humanity and obstructed progress for centuries. There is no doubt that a contemporary Inquisition — as proposed by some members from the OIC — would deeply affect the Durban II Conference on Racism and Xenophobia, establishing a more lethal form of discrimination via this UN sponsored (and funded) event.
4. One would also expect to see Human Rights groups and pro-democracy movements demanding from national assemblies, particularly in liberal democracies, legislation to protect targeted segments of society such as women, intellectuals, artists, authors, publishers, minorities, reformists and other entities expected to suffer from “defamation persecution.” Democratic constitutions cannot accept a setback to their long evolution away from religious inquisition and theological legal frameworks. It is to be expected that civil societies will rise against such a modern-day inquisition and blast its authors, including unfortunately those UN institutions which were initially designed to protect individuals from religious persecution.
5. Last but not least one would not be surprised if NGOs and individual citizens would take the matter to courts around the world where justice is independent. Intellectuals and opinion makers would seek both protection and reparation from the potential implementation of such an international declaration or legislation. Governments who pushed the “defamation-inquisition” through the UN, and the latter as well, may find themselves taken to court, regardless of the results. The image of judges requesting states and international organization to pay reparation for moral and physical damages caused by a UN declaration responsible for discrimination is not a bright one, but could very much become reality if the OIC project, initially designed by radical ideologues, is not withdrawn or at least restructured.
Phares at the Geneva UN Conference
Here are some suggestions which might help in defusing the emerging crisis between the OIC members who are pushing for this declaration and those pro-democracy and Human Rights NGOs who are opposing it.
1. We suggest that neutral members in the UN Human Rights Council intervene to prevent this crisis by calling for a special forum where both points of views are heard and a new consensus is built: Government representatives, NGOs, and International Organizations should be invited by member states of the Council who wish to engage in this mediation. The mediation forum must find ways to address the real and specific concerns of the OIC regarding the psychological stress induced by severe attacks on religion on the one hand and the concerns of the Human Rights community with regards the discriminatory dimension of the current “anti-defamation” project on the other.
2. We also suggest the organization of a special conference of experts to address the following questions:
a. Define the concept of defamation of religions in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
b. Define the body that can determine the nature of defamation of religions, including the concept of “Kuffar” (infidels) and incorporate this issue in the general discussion of Racism and Xenophobia at the forthcoming Durban II Conference.
In the end, we hope that the voices of reason within the United Nations will prevail over the movement towards increasing radicalization, and strike a balance between the right to be protected emotionally and the right of expression: the one must not eliminate the other.
Dr Walid Phares is a Visiting Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels and a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington DC. Dr Phares is a professor of Global Strategies and author of numerous books including the latest The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad
Says here that in the wake of the Madoff scandal, many sites are seeing a rise in anti-Semitic comments. One way to put a lid on a great deal of this hate–while still preserving the vital First Amendment right to say even the most offensive things–is to end anonymity in Internet postings. Voluntarily, websites should require and post a confirmed name and town (or address) for every post. It’s no more than most newspapers do for letters to the editor, and responsible webmasters will demand the same accountability from their readers and themselves.
Among all the difficult choices and severe challenges President Obama will face on January 20th and in the months and years to follow, there is one very attractive change that is relatively easy to bring about. The major reason I am wildly optimistic about a US/Russia deal is that it can be based on a principle that underlies many, if not all, great deals: There are concessions that Russia can make for us that we care about deeply—and that they do not. And there are concessions Russia dearly wants—but about which we do not care nearly as much.
Those of you who read my posts regularly know that this week I offered my own little solution to the damaging and heart-breaking problem of hate-filled, anonymous comments on the Internet. Today, McClatchy ran a story about the arrest of the mother of the boyfriend of Bristol Palin. There’s not a d*mned thing to say about that, but it does provide yet another opportunity to say cruel and unnecessary things about the family of a public figure. So the McClatchy moderator posted this line: “I’m not going to allow comments on this story. Jim, McClatchy’s Moderator.” Then he shut off the Comment function for the story and went on with his day. BRAVO, Jim. BRAVO. This is exactly what needs to be done, and he’s taking a wise stand in doing so. Not everyone will follow the lead, of course. They’ll cry about the free exchange of ideas (when no ideas are being exchanged, let us note)–and that’s their right under the First Amendment. But by doing this, Jim is helping to corner the hate-filled commenters into little ghettos around the Internet that people of good will will learn to avoid. (I’m thinking of the Huffington Post, for starters, though Tina Brown’s Daily Beast is rising fast–like bile).
Here’s NY Gov. David Paterson trying to ram through a tax on soft drinks by saying it’s “for the children.” Do Democrats have any other move in their playbook? What ever happened to offering evidence and the making of a case? Is everything they propose now so weak that they can defend it only with maudlin appeals? Do they have any respect at all anymore for the autonomy of the individual, self-control, and keeping one’s nose out of other people’s business?
Looka here. Chatty “intellectual” Michael Lind declares the southern states to be, in no particular order, bigoted, lazy, ignorant, hateful, greedy, angry, underhanded… the list goes on. It’d be an interesting proposition to defend if Michael Lind had bothered to look up a few facts instead of manufacturing them (for starters, that legislators from southern states are entirely invested in foreign car manufacturers and not those from the US–Lind is apparently too lazy to even type a few strokes into Google for fear the results will undermine his hateful conclusions). He proposes wholesale economic and cultural re-education for those from the South by generous and enlighened nobles such as himself. It is rare to see such arrogance presented as informed opinion. Michael Lind needs to stop writing books and start reading a few. What a buffoon–what a foolish, arrogant, ignorant buffoon Michael Lind is. You want to know what the source of America’s grand divisiveness is? Michael Lind and his ilk, that’s what.
Caroline Kennedy is courting Upstate New York in her bid to be Senator Clinton’s replacement. Newspaper reporters have been trying to get her to comment on national issues. But if they really want to check her ability to represent Upstate, they should hand her a list of Upstate place names and ask her for the correct local pronunciations. Here are some:
Paul Weyrich was one of the founders of the modern conservative movement. His name doesn’t get mentioned much outside DC anymore, but conservatives everywhere see so far because we stand on his shoulders. All Americans of every political stripe–in fact, make that everybody in the world who’s a little freer than they were four decades ago–owe him a debt of gratitude. He was one of the good guys. RIP.
Long ago I wrote a column regarding what I called a “tipping point” between the wants and needs of the public sector versus the private sector in New York. I said the unions and special interest groups there were so politically powerful that they would eventually control government, and ordinary New Yorkers would pay through the nose as a result. That time is now.
Here’s Joe Scarborough taking Obama’s own “Rove,” [sic] David Axelrod, through the various versions of what members of the campaign did or did not say re the Blago scandal. Scarborough pretty much leaves Axelrod sputtering–but that won’t matter. Nobody in the mainstream press is going to allow this scandal to taint the Messiah. No, what’s interesting is the parlor-game question this exchange sets up: How much longer will MSNBC allow Joe Scarborough to keep his job? I mean, the rule over at MSNBC is that if it’s not fawningly pro-Obama, it must be returned to the hell from whence it arose. Joe dared make someone near Obama look bad. Therefore, Joe should let his agent know that he may soon be “on the market.”
Barack Obama calls his transition website change.gov, and his campaign slogal used “change” about a million times, so I am utterly flummoxed — and disgusted — by his selection of Mary Schapiro as SEC chairman, to replace the horrendous Chris Cox.
Looka here. Global temperatures declined in 2008. No problem–global warming causes that, too! Temperatures up, temperatures down. Number of storms increases, number of storms decreases. Everything is a result of global warming–every bad thing, that is–so the global warming religionists tell us in this Time article (and the author is one of them, too–he’s not simply reporting, he’s advocating).
So this is how far we have fallen. Debate over how to “save” the American automobile industry is moving away from whether to “rescue” the Big Three with huge infusions of taxpayer money and toward how much and how soon.