News And Comment You Almost Certainly Missed
Victor Davis Hanson:
Can’t we find a single Presidential candidate who says: “Hang on. We are going to get serious. We our going to build coal, nuclear, more hydro-electric plants. We want as many Americans as possible to buy a second electric plug-in car for urban driving; we want more efficient gas and diesel engines; we are going to cut spending, radically so, to balance the budget, pay down the debt, pay off our foreign debt, and raise the value of our currency. Tighten your belts: federal spending is frozen for five years; we are going to raise the Social Security retirement age and reform the system. The borders are going to close, and citizenship is going to mean something again.”
Should McCain say that, it would trump “hope” and “change” and the 1960s tired old agenda, adopted by both parties, that got us in the mess we’re in.
Read the rest.
Yikes, this must have really hurt:
The deal with white America runs like this, he argued. Obama promises not to make a fuss about racism and the hundreds of thousands of blacks in jail. Whites are grateful to have their guilt absolved and vote for him. Their support rebounds “to Obama’s political advantage without having any impact on racial inequality.”
The writer means “redound,” not “rebound.” As you noticed, of course.
Fallujah: a city with a history, and a turnaround, that some say require a willful suspension of disbelief. Not so! The truth is not only stranger than fiction, sometimes it hurts…hurts people who are a bit quick with their mouths and slow with their ethics. Don’t skip this finereport, it’s good reading. It’s a little late, but then you never saw anything like this in your newspaper, so enjoy this unique benefit of the internet.
The Surge, evaluated; a quote:
…perhaps the most important achievement of the Surge is the one least understood or discussed in the US, and that is its moral effect on Iraqis and, to some extend, Americans fighting in Iraq. At the end of 2006, calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq were reaching a crescendo. Every time a major US politician echoed those calls, or even demanded a fixed date for withdrawal it had a significant effect on the morale of all sides in Iraq. (Among other consequences, the rate of attacks would rise and intelligence would dry up.)
Then to the surprise of everyone in the region, the US didn’t run away and abandon Iraq to a prospect of genocidal civil war and invasion. Instead they sent more troops. (These troops employed better tactics and didn’t disappear from the scene of successful engagements to the safety of huge fortified bases.) The symbolism was obvious and subverts a familiar narrative of American inconstancy and lack of moral courage.
Not long ago Fred Barnes prepared an account of the decisions that lay behind the Surge. It’s an interesting tale.
From the PenPo’s Department of Gratuitously Redundant Restatements of the Blatantly Obvious:
1. The New York Times demonstrates yet again why it is steadily losing credibility.
2. Trenchant criticism of The New York Times.
3. The escalation of insanity at The New York Times.
No bias here, oh, not at all:
As a sidebar to an article at ABC news about Elliot Spitzer, they’ve helpfully put together this slideshow of 13 politicians involved in famous sex scandals. (Collect them all!) Anyway, it’s rather interesting that of the 7 Republicans on the list, all of them save one are identified by ABC as Republicans. Of the six Democrats on the list, only one is identified by party affiliation.
UPDATE: Several readers write in to note the conspicuous absence of Mel Reynolds on that list. One reader in particular did one better, and noted the network has a history ignoring Reynolds’ crimes:
Congressman Mel Reynolds, the Democrat convicted of 12 charges, including sex with 16-year-old Beverly Heard and asking her to take pornographic photographs of a 15-year old, was indicted on August 21, 1994. ABC, the current scourge of congressional teen-sex scandals, reported nothing — until Reynolds was convicted a year later, on August 23, 1995. In fact, on May 13, 1994, ABC featured Reynolds in a “Person of the Week” speaking out in favor of two Chicago ladies fighting child molesters:
Peter Jennings: “Their local congressman is certainly on their side. He also wants to make child molesting a federal offense.”
Rep. Mel Reynolds (D), Illinois: “These ladies really illustrate how being active in your community can really make a difference.”
Jennings: ” If the law is to change, it will need the support of many more state legislators, which means more mothers will have to get involved.”
Begin here: the next-to-last photo in the series shows a bomber who, more than two weeks ago, escaped from prison in — of all places — Singapore.
That’s no small accomplishment, so the city-state’s autocratic government has egg on its face. Is the murderer still in Singapore, or safely into Muslim-majority Malaysia? The Singaporeans say he’s still in their country, though how they know that is not explained, and why they can’t find him is another mystery that will never be solved — publicly. Meanwhile the webloggers are jabbering as freely as they dare, considering that free speech is not one of Singapore’s possessions:
Every time officials use their political power to force the press to act in a way that’s plainly counter to public expectations, it will lose credibility — the resource that even ministers acknowledge is something the media cannot do without. And this at a time of proliferating choice, when the only sensible policy option is to invest in the credibility of the nation’s mainstream media, as I’ve tried to argue elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the die appears to have been cast: political control of the national press will be used to ensure that the tough questions about the great escape story are asked ever so gently, if at all.
Hah! It appears that the bomber had help getting out of jail free, and has help staying out. Singapore has a problem, and it’s not just one man. If ever there was a wake-up call, this has to be one. For more, look here and over here.
Links to the Saturday Night Live spoof of the “3 AM phone call” ad Hillary’s team put together don’t all work. This one is a good link, or at least it was when the PenPo was going to press. Was there an effort to remove the lampoon from the internet? Probably not. The video is slightly amusing, but it’s pretty low-voltage.
A little over four years ago, documents linking Saddam to Al Qaeda were discovered in Iraq and reported in this newspaper article.
Of course the story was not picked up and passed on by the major media, and today the article is unavailable on line. The newspaper has prevented an internet archive from saving a copy; no, that does not lead to a conspiracist explanation. It is, however, a good introduction to a pair of stories that were linked on the Pajamas Media website. Claudia Rosett, a journalist who richly deserves a Pulitzer for her exposes of the UN (but will never get one for obvious reasons), provides a report, and the second story adds facts. As you read the texts, recall that information of this sort was available for years. It was rejected out of hand by the mass media, while those who knew the facts and tried to get them out to the public were mocked and reviled as “wingnuts.” So the latest revelations and conclusions give the lie to past media deceits, correct?
Well, yes — but no, actually. Today, things are pretty much the same, for the major media will let these stories languish. As they virtually always do: see this piece, which points out that “…violence is down significantly in Iraq, and there is news other than the drone of death. It simply goes unreported.”
To broadcast the new evidence widely would only raise questions about the ideological nature of the news qua propaganda the media spoon-feed to the public. The media establishment assumes the electorate is composed largely of morons. Yes, that is indeed what they think of you; if it were otherwise, the “facts” they hand you would be facts.
Pajamas Media and Annie Jacobsen score again, this time with revelations about how the bureaucrats in the TSA have been playing fast and loose with the public’s money and safety. Read it all.
Just kidding: doesn’t George Bush know that when he lets these rascals get away with stunts like this, it reflects on him and his party? Shouldn’t he do something? — OK, that’s enough joking around!
Which brings up a serious question: what does “TSA” actually stand for? “Tricksters, Scamsters and Associates”?
Here’s a description of the situation: “The Democrats are stuck in their own mud.” Yes, it does appear the GOP strategy of doing all it can to prolong the Obama Hussein vs. Harridan Hillary brawl is working. — How the WaPo managed to use the mud metaphor without also using the oh-so-appropriate word “quagmire” is a puzzle. Maybe the trademark on “quagmire” allows it to be used only to describe Iraq?
Ooh, lookie, it’s a hissy-fit! Hillary’s self-styled “progressives” are going to hold their breaths until somebody naughty shuts up, oh my yes! (Odd, isn’t it, how people who claim to be avant garde, as the word “progressive” implies, resort to the oldest and most childish tactics imaginable when they encounter opposition, however harmless?) Proceed with some caution, for The Punch-And-Judy show requires a willing suspension of disrespect….
The Colombians have been causing trouble for themselves and for the USA for decades, and could use a large dose of genuine law and order. Add to that the machinations of Chavez in Venezuela…and some might say it’s too bad the USA does not have the resources, desire or will to do something in northern South America. Wherever you stand on US foreign policy, outfits like Colombia’s FARC deserve our attention.
The Concept Of The Moderate Muslim
The thesis is that Islam is basically a religion of peace, and that “extremists” and “radicals” constitute the core of the violent Islamofascist movement. The solution to the problem is “moderate” Islam. One of the major exponents of this thesis is Daniel Pipes.
There are a few problems with this contention.
Islam is a religion of conflict and conquest; peace is only for relationships between Muslims. The Koran repeatedly emphasizes the divine imperative that requires Muslims to fight infidels, even when the non-believers are in the majority. The goal is the conversion or death of all who are not Muslims, with one exception: Christians and Jews may be reduced to dhimmitude, a taxed and restricted subjugation.
In this permanent war to impose Islam on all humanity, a special category of enemies exists: those who practice the Hindu and Buddhist religions. The Koran states precisely (2:190) that “Idolatry is worse than carnage.” Simply being a Hindu or Buddhist carries an automatic death sentence.
Muslims who do not believe that the Koran is the explicit, inerrant word of the Creator risk the serious charge of apostasy, which is punished with death. Those who pick and choose, ignoring some passages in the holy word, risk everything. We have to ask, therefore, whether “moderate Muslim” is a contradiction in terms.
Indeed. The huge flaw in the idea that “moderate Muslims” will reform Islam is in the slippery definition of the word “moderate.”
In the West, a moderate Christian overlooks the ancient Biblical laws that tolerate slavery and mandate the death penalty for adultery. He can consider homosexuality a condition with no ethical or religious implications, and he probably opposes the teaching of “creation science” as an acceptable alternative to evolution.
But most importantly, when strict “Bible-believing” activists preach hate, the Western moderate believer opposes them bitterly. He rejects not just their criminal behavior, but their literal interpretation of Biblical text. He speaks out; he advocates his moderation.
Islam has no moderate community comparable to that found in Christianity (where, recall, Presbyterians are not killing Methodists, and Baptists do not fear Lutherans). In fact, sects of Islam are still waging a war against each other, when and where they can. When author Salman Rushdie was condemned to death because he had written a work of fiction, Muslims everywhere either remained silent or loudly backed the insanity.
Clearly, to be a “moderate” in the West is to be something very distinct from what the West considers a Muslim “moderate.” Apologists for Islam call any Muslim who is not building bombs or training as a sniper a “moderate.” In Islam, “moderates” do nothing; in the West, moderates promote their agendas. If you don’t notice that distinction, you will almost certainly skip right past the fact that Islam is today roughly where Christianity was in that most wretched of times, the fourteenth century.
The West mistakenly perceives some Muslims as “moderate” (Pakistani immigrants to Great Britain, for example) and therefore harmless, yet the children of these “moderates” often grow up to be dangerous. The reason? Their parents taught them to believe that the Koran is God’s instructions to mankind.
We must face simple truth: the Koran is not at all a moderate document, and anyone who is willing to accept it in toto as inerrant cannot properly be called a moderate. Islam is by explicit, precise self-definition a death cult.
In fact Islam no more deserves consideration as a religion to be tolerated than German National Socialism (Nazism) deserves consideration as a tolerable alternative political philosophy. Each mass movement has thoroughly discredited itself by carrying out a number of heinous acts and by preaching hate that confounds the understanding of decent men. The Nazis never reformed themselves, nor have more than an insignificant number of today’s Muslims managed that transformation.
Yet Islam rates a pass, because it claims to be a religion. It is most certainly a faith — that is, a belief system that ignores reason and evidence. That faith is not characterized merely by preposterous claims and commandments; among the most popular belief-systems on the globe, only Islam remains ethically unevolved.
Islam is today roughly where Christianity was six centuries ago. It seems highly unlikely that Islam can somehow grow up in less than several hundred years. The faith has multiple inherent protective prohibitions that encourage stasis. True moderates, in other words, will still be an infinitesimal, endangered minority in Islam long after all of us are dead.
The question, then, is what the West should and can do to encourage the evolution of Islam while discouraging the violence that naturally springs from the faith.
The answers are obvious:
1. Effective military and police action must be taken against violent Muslims. The West must prove repeatedly to the Muslim world that there is no hope of defeating the infidels in battles great and small.
2. Liberty must be upheld within the West. When Muslims protest the “offenses” against their faith, as they do when cartoons of Mohammed the charlatan are published, their objections must meet with trenchant responses. That would, in the cartoon case, require an expanded publication of the offending drawings. The cure for objections to Liberty is a greater exercise of Liberty.
3. The West must be preserved, which means Muslim immigration must be halted. If Muslims are allowed to become politically significant, they will undermine the Liberty of their hosts. The Muslim demographic weapon must not be permitted to emerge.
These measures can be employed, and to some extent will be. The final measure that should be on this list will not be imposed, and therefore must be left off. That is the refusal to permit Islam to function within the West as a true religion.
Islam’s international attempt to extinguish Liberty can be countered militarily. The domestic threat to Western Civilization may prove more difficult to deal with, for it is the deadly combination of Islamic belief coupled with the policy that permitted any Muslims at all to relocate in the West.
That policy emerged in spite of the unambiguous nature of the Koran. The West has knowingly clasped an asp to its bosom.
A dissenting view is provided by Michael Totten, a man who knows the Arab and Muslim worlds well. Quotes (but do read all of Totten’s article):
Some of the 93 percent supermajority support militia parties such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the West Bank’s Fatah. So while they may be religious moderates, they certainly aren’t politically moderate.
I’m less inclined…to give the remaining Muslims — aside from secular terror-supporters — too hard a time. I work in the Middle East, and I used to live there. I meet moderate Muslims every day who detest al Qaeda and their non-violent Wahhabi counterparts. I know they’re the overwhelming majority, and a significant number are hardly inert in the face of fascists.
Every suicide and car bomber in Iraq gets at least a passing mention in newspapers all over the world while far fewer reporters have ever told their readers about the extraordinary anti-jihadist convulsion that swept the entire populations of Fallujah and Ramadi last year.
…the moderate Muslims of countries such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Mali, and Oman have few resident radicals to stand up against.
There certainly were radicals in Algeria. 150,000 people were killed there during the Salafist insurgency during the 1990s, and the government, military, police, and civilian watch groups have since all but annihilated the jihadists.
The world could use more moderate Muslims who push back hard against the Islamists, but huge numbers already do wherever it is necessary and possible. So far with the exception of Gaza, mainstream Muslims everywhere in the world risk arrest, torture, and death while resisting Islamist governments and insurgencies whenever they arise.
These quotes, and the view they represent, deserve serious consideration — and comment.
Certainly diversity exists in the Muslim world, but there are limits. For example, exactly what Totten means by Muslims who are “secular terror supporters” is unclear, since the concept of a “secular Muslim” is as much an oxymoron as that of a “married bachelor.” That surely exceeds the limit to which diversity can be stretched!
Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists, and a significant number want to see violence reduced or at least kept away from them. These folks are more concerned about everyday life and less concerned with Koranic scholarship or activism. No one should be surprised by this. The problem is the textual material that has divine sanction, and remains an immutable influence in every Muslim community, no matter how peaceful. Those holy words are the seeds of mass murder.
It must also be recalled that Muslims have a rich tradition of intra-Islamic violence; they fight each other as viciously as they fight infidels. Why is it surprising, therefore, when a Muslim shopkeeper is enraged by Muslim bombers who destroy his store and murder his children? Of course he will react with outrage and probably violence. That says nothing about how he views infidels, or how his relatives rear their children. The Muslim community’s struggle with thugs should not deceive us into accepting the Koran as somehow a decent document, or the faith of Islam as anything more than a death cult.
Whenever we see the women and children of a Thai Muslim village form a human wall between the police and the people who are torturing to death some female (Thai Buddhist) schoolteachers, we are reminded that Islam is a monster — sometimes a sleeping monster, but always and everywhere a monster.
As the PenPo’s predecessor said over two and a half years ago…
A common understanding of tragic events in the USA, Britain, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other nations tells us that Muslims have risen in vengeful anger. Determined to assert its values, Islam has woken from a centuries-long slumber and reached for its sword. The West, lulled into complacency by Islamic inactivity, has been caught off guard. Islam is resurgent.
A more sophisticated view is that the great majority of peaceful, tolerant Muslims harbor within their millions a tiny number of fanatics. Islam is not so much resurgent as host to dangerous lunatics. Eventually, as Daniel Pipes and Thomas Barnett insist, moderate Islam will calm extremist Islam. The war on terrorism is, therefore, part patience and part military action. There is nothing intrinsically hostile about Islam, so in a presumably short time, peaceful coexistence will be restored.
These views both impose fiction on fact. They are plausible fantasies that ignore the origin and nature of the danger.
In truth, Islam is not resurgent; the faith has not opened its eyes and decided to smite its enemies. While international anti-USA, anticapitalist politics and pan-Islamic unification movements do play roles in the drama, they are not primal causes that underlie all events, and an understanding of them provides few insights. The Islamofascist phenomenon actually actually derives most of its strength from circumstances beyond its purview.
The aetiological but unrecognized fact is that Western Civilization has invited its ancient blood enemy to attack. The West’s invitation is a flamboyant display of incompetence, fading strength, collapse of confidence and absence of resolve. Islam is not so much challenging the West as being drawn into a cultural vacuum.
If you would understand the motivations and aspirations of the Islamofascists, you must begin with the Koran. This enduring testament to tyranny describes precisely what Islam is, what it wants, and why it has the will to triumph.
The West makes several egregious errors in its interpretation of the Koran. As we suggest above, its first error is in the assumption that Islamic understanding of the inspiration found in the Koran has evolved. On the contrary: the Koran says what it says, and it means what it says. All Muslims accept this. None, even the most moderate and Westernized, dare dispute it.