Sorry for letting things get so dead around here lately, but a lot has been going on in the past couple weeks. First, I graduated from Hillsdale College a couple weekends back, and now I’m trying to nail down a job somewhere in the conservative movement. Fortunately, some interesting things are happening behind the scenes on that front, so we’ll see what happens. Second, my other blogging home, NewsRealBlog, recently closed its doors. Don’t worry, though – you’ll still be able to see my writing at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s main commentary site, Front Page Magazine, as well as – hopefully – several other great conservative publications in the near future.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
It seems another demographic group Democrats once took for granted is snapping out of Obama fever. At the Daily Beast, David Graham reports that American Muslims don’t think the president’s actions match his pro-Islam rhetoric. Aside from insisting that Islam is a religion of peace and appointing a few Muslims to important positions, Obama hasn’t met enough with American Muslim groups or “remade the political landscape for Muslims”:
“Just like the last time, we’re quite happy if any president offers positive rhetoric toward the Muslim world or Islam, but it really needs to be backed up with concrete policy initiatives,” says Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading American Muslim group. “We’re still in Afghanistan, we’re still in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian situation has gone south. We’re not there—we’re just continuing with the previous policies.”
It’s not just foreign policy. Across the board, Muslims are expressing disappointment with Obama’s progress on issues relevant to them in the domestic policy realm. What they express is not so much anger as disillusionment, a recognition that the president hasn’t remade the political landscape for Muslims. (American Muslim opinions mirror international opinions. A Pew survey released Tuesday finds that citizens in majority Muslim countries remain skeptical of Obama.)
Exhibit A is the Park51 project, the proposed mosque and Islamic center in Lower Manhattan that opponents dubbed the “ground zero mosque”. After delivering what appeared to be a full-throated defense of the project, he walked back his comments the next day, saying, “I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.” It was a crucial litmus test for many American Muslims—and one that Obama failed. “He’s still missing the political courage to stand up for communities, and not just Muslim communities,” says Shireen Zaman, the executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank on Muslim issues.
As the Left always does when discussing different ethnic groups, it’s simply assumed at the outset that the positions cited are intrinsically anti-Muslim.
Whatever you think of the wisdom of starting or continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, both conflicts were waged against specific governments the United States determined to be enemies, not against Muslims generally; indeed, both wars liberated their Muslim populations from nightmarish despots and gave them a genuine shot at liberty, so one could just as easily call a premature withdrawal from either theater anti-Muslim for enabling a descent back into totalitarianism.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Democrats were understandably thrilled that it was their guy, Barack Obama, who finally nailed Osama bin Laden, who has for the past decade been as elusive as he was hated. But just how much of a political boon is the victory for the president? That’s the question asked today by the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky, who sees it as a major shift away from the Democrats’ dovish image:
But now, the killing of Osama bin Laden is changing this equation dramatically. Alleged Muslim Barack Obama did in two and a half years what Bush couldn’t do in seven and a half. It wasn’t just the result. The nature of the operation is still breathtaking, weeks later, and the risk Obama took, which he conveyed with masterful cool in his 60 Minutes interview, is mind-blowing (imagine if bin Laden hadn’t been there!). You can call the president who oversaw the operation many things, but weak isn’t one of them.
To talk as if there were two separate hunts for bin Laden is an astoundingly dishonest oversimplification. The truth is that American intelligence officials spent years following the key intelligence trail:
Some time after Sept. 11, detainees held by the U.S. told interrogators about a man believed to work as a courier for bin Laden, senior administration officials said. The man was described by detainees as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and “one of the few Al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin laden.”
Initially, intelligence officials only had the man’s nickname, but they discovered his real name four years ago.
Two years ago, intelligence officials began to identify areas of Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated, and the great security precautions the two men took aroused U.S. suspicions.
Last August, intelligence officials tracked the men to their residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a relatively wealthy town 35 miles north of Islamabad where many retired military officers live […]
President Obama was made aware of the compound when it was discovered last year. By mid-February, the intelligence was solid and since mid-March, Obama led five meetings with the National Security Council regarding the issue.
Intelligence officials worked with the U.S. military to plan the operation and a small team accepted the risk and began to train for it.
On April 29, this past Friday, Obama gave the final go ahead.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
“I think things could have been done somewhat differently,” Paul said this week. “I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he’s been in prison. Why can’t we work with the government?”
Asked by WHO Radio’s Simon Conway whether he would have given the go-ahead to kill bin Laden if it meant entering another country, Paul shot back that it “absolutely was not necessary.”
“I don’t think it was necessary, no. It absolutely was not necessary,” Paul said during his Tuesday comments. “I think respect for the rule of law and world law and international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London? We wanted to keep it secret, so would we have sent the airplane, you know the helicopters in to London, because they were afraid the information would get out?”
Actually, there are conflicting reports about the possibility that the United States did have Pakistan’s permission to get bin Laden on our own if we got a bead on him. Now, your guess is as good as mine as to who’s telling the truth, but something tells me that getting the details straight wouldn’t change Paul’s opinion. Either way, one wonders if Paul has ever stopped to consider the fact that bin Laden spent six years in a sizeable compound built in a town dominated by the Pakistani Army, and wonder how that little detail could have possibly escaped the Pakistanis’ notice.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Barack Obama is a man of many talents. Some presidents might be content to wreck the nation’s finances and display confused impotence to our enemies, but Obama also takes the time to needlessly poison America’s cultural well. Last night, Sean Hannity took the president to task for including Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., AKA rapper/poet “Common,” on the docket of a White House celebration of American prose.
Common’s prose covers all the bases of lefty thug culture, including railing against supposed warmongers:
Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push
Killing over oil and grease
No weapons of destruction
How can we follow a leader when this a corrupt one
And resentment of the law as the mortal enemy of blacks, who might want to consider packing heat, just in case:
Tell the law my Uzi weighs a ton
I walk like a warrior, from them I won’t run
On the streets they try to beat us like a drum
In Cincinnati another brother hung
Common is also a friend and defender of Obama’s old pal Jeremiah Wright—in 2008 he claimed what he “picked up from the pews…was messages of love.” Why, even love for the “US of KKK-A,” and those in the CIA who cooked up AIDS to decimate the black population! I don’t know about you, but I can certainly feel the love!
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Conservatives who are still under the delusion that they can persuade the Left to tone down their rhetorical attacks and play nice would do well to check out Howard Kurtz’s latest column on the Daily Beast, which gives us yet another round of hypocritical finger waving over the Republican Party’s “liability on the fringe.”
Kurtz begins with, of course, the Birthers:
The [House Republican] caucus has 85 new members, more than 30 of whom are new to elective office—“the kamikazes,” they are privately called—and some took strong exception to being urged not to talk about President Obama’s birth certificate. “Well, I don’t think he was born in this country,” one freshman snapped.
A lone quote from a single unnamed GOP freshman, who represents “some” of a group of thirty or so? I guess they just don’t make epidemics the way they used to.
The birther nonsense seems especially pointless—and corrosive—when one considers that Obama was planning the helicopter raid that would kill Osama bin Laden days later, as he was releasing his long-form Hawaii certificate. Conservative author David Frum says bin Laden’s death should end the racially charged insinuations “that President Obama’s identity and loyalties lie elsewhere.”
Frum is no wild-eyed rebel; he helped coin the phrase “axis of evil” in the Bush White House and opposes virtually all of Obama’s agenda.
Don’t you just love it when lefties presume to tell us which conservatives to take seriously? I’m not sure what Kurtz means by “wild-eyed rebel,” but David Frum’s opinion here is meaningless, considering he’s made a cottage industry out of erecting “far-right” straw men he can loudly denounce so publications like the Daily Beast will fawn over how Serious and Responsible he is. Irresponsible attacks (racial or otherwise) against Obama obviously shouldn’t be tolerated, but they should be rejected on their own merits, not because he nailed bin Laden. Likewise, the political no-brainer of taking out the world’s most wanted terrorist shouldn’t insulate the president from substantive critiques of his “identity and loyalties,” like Matthew Vadum’s. Making bad decisions neither justifies dishonest attacks against you nor exempts you from honest ones.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Most of the nation is still celebrating the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the monster behind one of the worst days in American history. Some are relieved bin Laden can no longer aid the jihadist cause; others take pleasure in knowing the suffering he caused us has been partially repaid.
But at least one voice is having none of it. At the Huffington Post, “specialist in transformational change” (whatever that means) Dr. Pamela Gerloff writes that celebrating bin Laden’s death is mentally unhealthy and geopolitically dangerous:
“Celebrating” the killing of any member of our species–for example, by chanting USA! USA! and singing The Star Spangled Banner outside the White House or jubilantly demonstrating in the streets–is a violation of human dignity. Regardless of the perceived degree of “good” or “evil” in any of us, we are all, each of us, human. To celebrate the killing of a life, any life, is a failure to honor life’s inherent sanctity.
Plenty of people will argue that Osama Bin Laden did not respect the sanctity of others’ lives. To that I would ask, “What relevance does that have to our own actions?” One aspect of being human is our ability to choose our own behavior; more specifically, our capacity to return good for evil, love for hate, dignity for indignity. While Osama Bin Laden was widely considered to be the personification of evil, he was nonetheless a human being. A more peaceable response to his killing would be to mourn the many tragedies that led up to his violent death and the thousands of violent deaths that occurred in the attempt to eliminate him from the face of the Earth; and to feel compassion for anyone who, because of their role in the military or government, American or otherwise, has had to play a role in killing another. This kind of compassion can be cultivated, as practitioners of many different spiritual traditions will attest […]
It is hard not to think that some of the impulse to celebrate “justice being done” may also contain a certain pleasure in revenge–not just “closure” but “getting even.” The world is not safer with Osama Bin Laden’s violent demise (threat levels are going up, not down); evil has not been finally removed from the Earth; the War on Terror goes on–so any celebration must be tempered with the sobering fact that much work still needs to be done to establish peace.
There’s a lot to unpack here, most of it awful. But first, for the sake of fairness and decency one fair point must be acknowledged: If we truly recognize the intrinsic worth of all human life, we have to recognize that even the worst among us have souls, warped and polluted though they may be, and be careful not to think casually of any killing—even just and necessary killing, as bin Laden’s death clearly was. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t found some satisfaction in the confidence that Osama now knows the afterlife isn’t quite what he expected, but I also have to admit those thoughts don’t live up to the standard my Savior has set for me.
So we shouldn’t take pleasure in exacting bloody vengeance, but there is another aspect to the celebration that is entirely appropriate.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
We knew this was coming. No American victory in this day and age, not even the long-overdue death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, is safe from political hijacking by the useful idiots of the Left. Within hours of hearing the good news, left-wing Daily Beast flunky Peter Beinart took to the keyboard to declare that the War on Terror is finally over.
Wow, what a relief! So that means Iran’s nuclear program is kaput? Er, no. Well, maybe it means the UN Security Council has stopped playing nice with Middle Eastern thug regimes. Wait, that didn’t happen, either. I know – peace between Israel and the Palestinians is finally in sight! Nope, try again. Um, then maybe anti-American sentiment among Muslim populations is waning? Uh-uh.
If none of that’s the case, then what does Beinart mean?
I don’t mean that there is no threat of further jihadist attack. In the short term, the threat may even rise. I don’t mean that we should abandon all efforts at tracking terrorist cells. Of course not. But the war on terror was a way of seeing the world, explicitly modeled on World War II and the Cold War. It suggested that the struggle against “radical Islam” or “Islamofascism” or “Islamic terrorism” should be the overarching goal of American foreign policy, the prism through which we see the world […] It made East Asia an afterthought during a critical period in China’s rise; it allowed all manner of dictators to sell their repression in Washington, just as they had during the Cold War; it facilitated America’s descent into torture; it wildly exaggerated the ideological appeal of a jihadist-Salafist movement whose vision of society most Muslims find revolting.
Bin Laden’s death is an opportunity to lay the war on terror to rest as well. Although President Obama avoids the phrase, its assumptions still drive our war in Afghanistan, a crushingly expensive adventure in nation building in a desperately poor country whose powerful neighbor wants us to fail. Those assumptions fuel anti-Muslim racism in the United States, where large swaths of the Republican Party have decided they are at risk of living under Sharia law. And they blind us to the differences among Islamist movements, allowing Glenn Beck and company to depict Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as al Qaeda’s farm team.
In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.
Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective. From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout for the U.S. government.