Saturday, September 25, 2010


Mark Steyn on America
Monday, 20 September 2010

While I've been talking about free speech in Copenhagen, several free speech issues arose in North America. I was asked about them both at the Sappho Award event and in various interviews, so here's a few thoughts for what they're worth:

Too many people in the free world have internalized Islam’s view of them. A couple of years ago, I visited Guantanamo and subsequently wrote that, if I had to summon up Gitmo in a single image, it would be the brand-new copy of the Koran in each cell: To reassure incoming prisoners that the filthy infidels haven't touched the sacred book with their unclean hands, the Korans are hung from the walls in pristine, sterilized surgical masks. It's one thing for Muslims to regard infidels as unclean, but it's hard to see why it's in the interests of us infidels to string along with it and thereby validate their bigotry. What does that degree of prostration before their prejudices tell them about us? It’s a problem that Muslims think we’re unclean. It’s a far worse problem that we go along with it.

Take this no-name pastor from an obscure church who was threatening to burn the Koran. He didn’t burn any buildings or women and children. He didn’t even burn a book. He hadn’t actually laid a finger on a Koran, and yet the mere suggestion that he might do so prompted the President of the United States to denounce him, and the Secretary of State, and the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, various G7 leaders, and golly, even Angelina Jolie. President Obama has never said a word about honor killings of Muslim women. Secretary Clinton has never said a word about female genital mutilation. General Petraeus has never said a word about the rampant buggery of pre-pubescent boys by Pushtun men in Kandahar. But let an obscure man in Florida so much as raise the possibility that he might disrespect a book – an inanimate object – and the most powerful figures in the western world feel they have to weigh in.

Aside from all that, this obscure church’s website has been shut down, its insurance policy has been canceled, its mortgage has been called in by its bankers. Why? As Diana West wrote, why was it necessary or even seemly to make this pastor a non-person? Another one of Obama's famous "teaching moments"? In this case teaching us that Islamic law now applies to all? Only a couple of weeks ago, the President, at his most condescendingly ineffectual, presumed to lecture his moronic subjects about the First Amendment rights of Imam Rauf. Where's the condescending lecture on Pastor Jones' First Amendment rights?

When someone destroys a bible, US government officials don’t line up to attack him. President Obama bowed lower than a fawning maitre d’ before the King of Saudi Arabia, a man whose regime destroys bibles as a matter of state policy, and a man whose depraved religious police forces schoolgirls fleeing from a burning building back into the flames to die because they’d committed the sin of trying to escape without wearing their head scarves. If you show a representation of Mohammed, European commissioners and foreign ministers line up to denounce you. If you show a representation of Jesus Christ immersed in your own urine, you get a government grant for producing a widely admired work of art. Likewise, if you write a play about Jesus having gay sex with Judas Iscariot.

So just to clarify the ground rules, if you insult Christ, the media report the issue as freedom of expression: A healthy society has to have bold, brave, transgressive artists willing to question and challenge our assumptions, etc. But, if it’s Mohammed, the issue is no longer freedom of expression but the need for "respect" and "sensitivity" toward Islam, and all those bold brave transgressive artists don’t have a thing to say about it.

Maybe Pastor Jones doesn't have any First Amendment rights. Musing on Koran burning, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer argued:

[Oliver Wendell] Holmes said it doesn’t mean you can shout 'fire' in a crowded theater... Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death?

This is a particularly obtuse remark even by the standards of contemporary American jurists. As I've said before, the fire-in-a-crowded-theatre shtick is the first refuge of the brain-dead. But it's worth noting the repellent modification Justice Breyer makes to Holmes' argument: If someone shouts fire in a gaslit Broadway theatre of 1893, people will panic. By definition, panic is an involuntary reaction. If someone threatens to burn a Koran, belligerent Muslims do not panic - they bully, they intimidate, they threaten, they burn and they kill. Those are conscious acts, at least if you take the view that Muslims are as fully human as the rest of us and therefore responsible for their choices. As my colleague Jonah Goldberg points out, Justice Breyer's remarks seem to assume that Muslims are not fully human.

More importantly, the logic of Breyer's halfwit intervention is to incentivize violence, and undermine law itself. What he seems to be telling the world is that Americans' constitutional rights will bend to intimidation. If Koran-burning rates a First Amendment exemption because Muslims are willing to kill over it, maybe Catholics should threaten to kill over the next gay-Jesus play, and Broadway could have its First Amendment rights reined in. Maybe the next time Janeane Garafolo goes on MSNBC and calls Obama's opponents racists, the Tea Partiers should rampage around town and NBC's free-speech rights would be withdrawn.

Meanwhile, in smaller ways, Islamic intimidation continues. One reason why I am skeptical that the Internet will prove the great beacon of liberty on our darkening planet is because most of the anonymous entities that make it happen are run by people marinated in jelly-spined political correctness. In Canada, an ISP called Bluehost knocked Marginalized Action Dinosaur off the air in response to a complaint by Asad Raza, a laughably litigious doctor in Brampton, Ontario. Had his name been Gordy McHoser, I doubt even the nancy boys at Bluehost would have given him the time of day. A similar fate briefly befell our old pal the Binksmeister at In other words, a website set up to protest Islamic legal jihad was shut down by the same phenomenon. In America, The New York Times has already proposed giving "some government commission" control over Google’s search algorithm; the City of Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Constitution signed, is now so removed from the spirit of the First Amendment that it's demanding bloggers pay a $300 "privilege" license for expressing their opinions online. The statists grow ever more comfortable in discussing openly the government management of your computer. But, even if they don't formally take it over, look at the people who run publishing houses, movie studios, schools and universities, and ask yourself whether you really want to bet the future on the commitment to free speech of those who run ISPs. SteynOnline, for example, is already banned by the Internet gatekeepers from the computers at both Marriott Hotels and Toronto Airport.

But forget about notorious rightwing hatemongers like me. Look at how liberal progressives protect their own. Do you remember a lady called Molly Norris? She's the dopey Seattle cartoonist who cooked up "Everybody Draws Mohammed" Day, and then, when she realized what she'd stumbled into, tried to back out of it. I regard Miss Norris as (to rewrite Stalin) a useless idiot, and she wrote to Mark's Mailbox to object. I stand by what I wrote then, especially the bit about her crappy peace-sign T-shirt. Now The Seattle Weekly informs us:

You may have noticed that Molly Norris' comic is not in the paper this week. That's because there is no more Molly.

On the advice of the FBI, she's been forced to go into hiding. If you want to measure the decline in western civilization's sense of self-preservation, go back to Valentine's Day 1989, get out the Fleet Street reports on the Salman Rushdie fatwa, and read the outrage of his fellow London literati at what was being done to one of the mainstays of the Hampstead dinner-party circuit. Then compare it with the feeble passivity of Molly Norris' own colleagues at an American cartoonist being forced to abandon her life: "There is no more Molly"? That's all the gutless pussies of The Seattle Weekly can say? As James Taranto notes in The Wall Street Journal, even much sought-after Ramadan-banquet constitutional scholar Barack Obama is remarkably silent:

Now Molly Norris, an American citizen, is forced into hiding because she exercised her right to free speech. Will President Obama say a word on her behalf? Does he believe in the First Amendment for anyone other than Muslims?

Who knows? Given his highly selective enthusiasms, you can hardly blame a third of Americans for figuring their president must be Muslim. In a way, that's the least pathetic explanation: The alternative is that he's just a craven squish. Which is odd considering he is, supposedly, the most powerful man in the world.

Listen to what President Obama, Justice Breyer, General Petraeus, The Seattle Weekly and Bluehost internet services are telling us about where we're headed. As I said in America Alone, multiculturalism seems to operate to the same even-handedness as the old Cold War joke in which the American tells the Soviet guy that "in my country everyone is free to criticize the President", and the Soviet guy replies, "Same here. In my country everyone is free to criticize your President." Under one-way multiculturalism, the Muslim world is free to revere Islam and belittle the west's inheritance, and, likewise, the western world is free to revere Islam and belittle the west’s inheritance. If one has to choose, on balance Islam’s loathing of other cultures seems psychologically less damaging than western liberals' loathing of their own.

It is a basic rule of life that if you reward bad behavior, you get more of it. Every time Muslims either commit violence or threaten it, we reward them by capitulating. Indeed, President Obama, Justice Breyer, General Petraeus, and all the rest are now telling Islam, you don’t have to kill anyone, you don’t even have to threaten to kill anyone. We’ll be your enforcers. We’ll demand that the most footling and insignificant of our own citizens submit to the universal jurisdiction of Islam. So Obama and Breyer are now the “good cop” to the crazies’ "bad cop". Ooh, no, you can’t say anything about Islam, because my friend here gets a little excitable, and you really don’t want to get him worked up. The same people who tell us "Islam is a religion of peace" then turn around and tell us you have to be quiet, you have to shut up because otherwise these guys will go bananas and kill a bunch of people.

While I was in Denmark, one of the usual Islamobozos lit up prematurely in a Copenhagen hotel. Not mine, I'm happy to say. He wound up burning only himself, but his targets were my comrades at the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. I wouldn't want to upset Justice Breyer by yelling "Fire!" over a smoldering jihadist, but one day even these idiots will get lucky. I didn't like the Danish Security Police presence at the Copenhagen conference, and I preferred being footloose and fancy-free when I was prowling the more menacing parts of Rosengard across the water in Malmö the following evening. No one should lose his name, his home, his life, his liberty because ideological thugs are too insecure to take a joke. But Molly Norris is merely the latest squishy liberal to learn that, when the chips are down, your fellow lefties won't be there for you.


I'm looking forward to getting back to the U.S. and weighing in on November's fun and frolics. But a quick word on Christine O'Donnell, the GOP Senate candidate from Delaware whom the politico-media establishment have decided is this season's easiest conservative target. If I understand their current plan to save the Dems, it rests on the proposition that America is about to be delivered into the care of a coven of witches who want to take away your right to masturbate. Two thoughts: First, any young woman (as she then was) willing to go on MTV, before a live audience, and attack masturbation certainly doesn't want for courage. As to her alleged dabbling with "witchcraft", so what? Several readers suggest Ms O'Donnell use Sinatra's "Witchcraft" as her campaign theme song. No, no, no. She should use the theme from "Bewitched": All she had to do was twitch her nose, and Mike Castle vanished. If it's a choice between Elizabeth Montgomery and Democrats cackling as they toss another trillion dollars into their bubbling cauldron, it's no contest.

Always loved the lyric to "Bewitched", which you never hear. If Ms O'Donnell wins, I'll be singing it on election night.

Thank you to everyone at the Danish Free Press Society who helped make my trip to Copenhagen such fun - especially Lars, Eva, Kit and Katrine. You can scroll down for the links to the audio of my acceptance speech plus various interviews. Afterwards, I nipped across the water to enjoy a livelier-than-usual Swedish election campaign, despite the best efforts of the dreary enforcers of its one-party media. As I always tell my Danish pals, Sweden is insane even by Scandinavian standards.

A Fearless Prophet

Buy the Book

By Shawn Macomber on 9.24.10 @ 6:06AM
The American Spectator

During William F. Buckley's memorial mass the strains of "He Who Would Valiant Be" echoed off the resplendent sanctuary walls of St. Patrick's Cathedral.[1] In an incisive and eloquent new tome on the religious life of the conservative icon, the always captivating Jeremy Lott reveals just how tailor-made John Bunyan's hymn -- There's no discouragement shall make him relent/His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim...No foes shall stay his might/Though he with giants fight -- was to the man it that day exalted.

Lott was kind enough to speak to TAS about his William F. Buckley, Christian encounters, and why, perhaps, this pilgrim should also be considered a prophet.

TAS: What was the most enlightening bit you unearthed researching and writing this book?

Jeremy Lott: William F. Buckley Jr. tried to take over three existing publications before he launched National Review. Two of the magazines were obvious choices: Human Events and The Freeman. The third was the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal. Now, Commonweal is just a baffling choice -- insane, really -- unless you consider just how much Buckley's conservatism was a product of his religion.

TAS: Obviously, Buckley lived an epic life, and I loved how you used the idea of him as a prophet -- or a "very Old Testament sort of believer" who was "motivated to inveigh" to drive the narrative. In writing the book, how important was this epiphany for you?

Lott: Very. The series that this biography is part of, the Christian Encounters series, eventually decided to do without subtitles, so it may be less obvious at first glance. The working title was William F. Buckley: In the Wilderness.

TAS: Considering his penchant for vocal defiance, fearless take-all-comers attitude, and visionary foresight, were you at all tempted to see him instead as a Daniel-type figure in a time of "progressive" lions?

Lott: Hmm. Buckley could be fearless about confronting people. When he was a student, he basically invented the role of the campus right-wing radical. He wrote his first book, God and Man at Yale, while he was employed by the university as a Spanish instructor and training to be an agent in the CIA. And he didn't just challenge liberalism, he ridiculed it and turned it into a swear word. A lot of progressives hated him for that.

At the same time, his magazine in the early days refused to go along with Republican Party orthodoxy. It didn't endorse Eisenhower in 1956 or Nixon in 1960, for instance, and it agitated for the nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964 even though Goldwater wasn't likely to win the presidency.

TAS: Is there any way to examine Buckley the consequential figure without examining the religious aspect of his life?

Lott: I suppose it could be done, but not done well. Some commentators today try to use Buckley as a bludgeon to beat conservative Christians with. To use a very un-Buckley-ite phrase, that's just crazy talk.

TAS: You paint a moving portrait of Buckley's last days, of his indifference to clinging to the corporeal world beyond his time, which boldly highlights the depth of his faith. I wonder how important you felt this material was to the book.

Lott: I think it was necessary. One of the editors wanted me come up with a final paragraph or two to tie a bow on the book, but I thought his funeral was the right place to end it. We compromised by moving the further readings section right next to the last chapter.

TAS: What is the biggest misconception concerning Buckley's faith?

Lott: There are a lot of them. Some people viewed Buckley as more Catholic than the pope. Conservative Catholics sometimes call him a liberal or "cafeteria Catholic." Both views are wrong. Buckley was an ordinary, faithful Catholic who accepted but struggled with some of the teachings of his Church. Also, his forbears had been Irish Protestants, and he was pretty ecumenical. God and Man at Yale was a call for his alma mater to reassert its Christian identity, its very Protestant Christian identity.

TAS: You wrote a fascinating, raucous book on the lives and times of America's vice presidents, The Warm Bucket Brigade, where you condensed prominent men's lives into morsels. How does Buckley rate in historical influence versus the average member of that bored and sometimes crank-ish gaggle?

Lott: I'd put him right up there with Nixon.

TAS: Does "fusionism" require godliness? Surely many people Buckley found common cause with did not believe the struggle between individualism and collectivism was slightly less important than the struggle between Christianity and atheism.

Lott: To answer your question, I'd recast it slightly: Does one have to be a religious man in order to be a conservative? Buckley said no, but he qualified that by saying outright mockers of religion could not be conservative. I think he was correct about that.

Fusionism is the bargain that Buckley thought conservatives and more libertarian-minded people should strike. They could work together if they agreed that government should not enforce virtue but rather stop doing things that encouraged vice. The logic of fusionism would prod Buckley throughout his life. It's why National Review eventually came out against the war on drugs.

TAS: Do you think the blessed and lucky nature of Buckley's life, his unusual skills, and many successes made it easier for him to have a mostly angst-free relationship with the Almighty and his church?

Lott: A lot of bad stuff happened to Buckley along with the good. Example: He and Pat had wanted a large family. Two tubal pregnancies put an end to that. And sure, he inherited some money from his father -- who had made and lost several fortunes. But most of the money that he used to keep dozens of people and a magazine afloat was earned through his columns, articles, books, speeches, television shows, etcetera.

TAS: Buckley was a preternaturally influential and singular cultural figure, yet free-market capitalism, individualism, and American exceptionalism are today in fundamentally precarious positions and the momentum -- albeit more strongly at some times than others -- remains on the side of the nanny state. Is there a black cloud here? I mean, if a Buckley couldn't turn the tide, who will?

Lott: Hard to say but maybe the Tea Party will make a dent. Buckley once said that he'd rather be governed by the first 2,000 names of the Boston phonebook than by the entire faculty of Harvard. It looks like we're about to see how that works out.

TAS: Another of your past books, the deliciously counterintuitive In Defense of Hypocrisy, muses hypocrisy might be an engine of moral progress. Was there any positive hypocrisy in Buckley's religious life?

Lott: This is going to sound like a lame example at first, but bear with me. I believe this country greatly benefited from an anti-Civil Rights opposition that was willing to fold gracefully. Southern senators and governors put on little protests and then backed down and helped to sell fellow Southerners on going along with it.

Likewise with National Review. It took a pro-segregation stand that lasted all of one issue and the reasons for backing down were largely religious ones, even if they weren't articulated as such.

TAS: One of the many original touches in this study was your decision to consult a deep throat source currently at Yale to see how the milieu over there turned out post-God and Man at Yale, which is where we learn, for example, every religious studies major has to read Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism -- a "deeply stupid book that makes up stories about oppressed medieval witches" -- though they need not necessarily peruse Augustine. Do you think Buckley would be surprised how right he was about the downward spiral so long ago?

Lott: There's no question that he was right about the religious direction of Yale. It is now a thoroughly secular university and, according to Deepthink, quite absurd. Deepthink's experiences there reminded me a bit of a quote that's always being attributed to G.K. Chesterton. When men stop believing in God, they'll believe in just about anything.

TAS: You write, "Buckley wanted a conservatism that treated progressivism only somewhat less contemptuously than it did Communism." How did he square that with Christian love-you-neighbor-ism?

Lott: In public debate, Buckley could be abrasive. Though I'll point out that not punching Gore Vidal for calling him a Nazi on national television amounted to turning the other cheek. When he wasn't in debate mode, Buckley got along famously with a great number of liberals.

TAS: One of the things Buckley said in his press conference announcing his run for mayor was, "I will not adapt my views to increase my vote by ten people." Are we lucky he wouldn't? Would, in other words, the conservative movement and post-New Deal opposition have lost something completely irreplaceable if by some miracle Buckley had been more successful at politicking than he supposed he'd be?

Lott: Well, that's why he would have demanded a recount. Liberals tend to win those. I don't think New York was ready for a Mayor Buckley yet, maybe not even now. It had a hard enough time swallowing Mayor Giuliani.

TAS: What is the one attribute of Buckley the conservative movement could most use now?

Lott: A sense of the absurd.

Shawn Macomber is a contributing editor to The American Spectator.

Related Link:

Friday, September 24, 2010

The GOP’s Ante

The “Pledge to America” is not the sum total of the Republican agenda. It is the opening bid.

By Jonah Goldberg
September 24, 2010 12:00 A.M.

On the political-gimmickry scale, the GOP’s new “Pledge to America” is worse than some, better than others. Let’s say it falls somewhere between the Federalist Papers and a Harry Reid press release — which, admittedly, pins it down as much as saying you lost a cufflink somewhere between Burkina Faso and Cleveland.

First and foremost it promises to focus on job creation, vowing to stop all scheduled tax hikes (i.e., the expiration of the Bush tax cuts). It offers a steep tax deduction for small businesses and a renewed commitment to curbing business-stifling regulations.

The Pledge also stands athwart the Obama agenda, promising to “repeal and replace the government takeover of health care,” cancel the unspent portion of the stimulus, and drive a stake through the heart of TARP. The Republicans also promise to “roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels” and disentangle the government from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

That’s hardly all of the substance, but the politics are more interesting. Naturally, Democrats attacked the Pledge before they read it as a mean-spirited, irresponsible return to the boneheaded and miserly policies of the Bush years. House majority whip Jim Clyburn insisted it would “visit a plague on Americans.”

Compared to what many Democrats said about the Contract with America, this is a ringing endorsement. Rep. Charlie Rangel said of the 1994 Republican platform: “Hitler wasn’t even talking about doing these things.” And though that is technically true — Hitler wasn’t talking about term limits for committee chairs or demanding an independent audit of Congress’s budget — the insinuation was a good deal more sinister. Indeed, Rep. Major Owens said that the ’94 Republicans were hell-bent on “genocide.” Meanwhile, Clyburn’s biblical-sounding Republican “plague” might invite worries about locusts or, at worst, the killing of the first-born male child in every household.

On the right, reactions were mostly positive, with a healthy mix of skepticism. “I love it,” wrote blogger Michelle Malkin, “provided the words jump off the paper and into reality at some point soon.” Erick Erickson of the conservative website RedState stood out for his rage against the whole thing, calling it a “series of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because [they do] not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama.”

Meanwhile, others, like Charles Krauthammer, argued that the substance was fine, but it was politically dumb to offer any substance at all. The Democrats are self-destructing like a tape-recording in Mission: Impossible. Why get in the way?

My take: They’re all right.

Malkin is absolutely correct that the GOP must prove it is born again on fiscal responsibility. If the Republicans don’t prove it, then the tea party will swoop in like the Shadow Host of Dunharrow in The Lord of the Rings and mow down the Republicans like so many dimwitted orcs.

Krauthammer, I think, is uncharacteristically shortsighted. Politicians not only need mandates, they need to understand what their mandates are. Otherwise they tend to think they were elected for their sheer personal awesomeness. President Obama, somewhat understandably, thought he had a messianic mandate to push a hard partisan agenda from the left. In reality, voters thought his mandate was to be “not Bush” and to then govern from the center. He fulfilled the first part and ignored the second entirely.

It’s true that running on something rather than on nothing might cost the GOP some campaign victories, but running on nothing would deny them even more policy victories. Sending Republicans back into power without a clear mission is like sending teenagers to Vegas for a school trip without a chaperone. Sure, they’ll check out the museums.

As for the argument that the Pledge doesn’t go far enough, that’s obviously true. But it’s also true that the Pledge is far, far more ambitious than the Contract with America was.

Moreover, the fact that it garners support from across the GOP caucus is a good sign, not a bad one, not least because it shows that the GOP can reach out to both the tea parties and independents. Obama and Pelosi’s alienation of independents is destroying the Democratic party right now. Why should the GOP emulate that strategy?

Conservatives shouldn’t look at the Pledge as the sum total of the Republican agenda. They should see it as the opening bid.

— Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Australian Muslim cleric calls for a beheading. Who cares?

By Larry Elder
Washington Examiner Columnist
September 23, 2010

What happens when an Australian(!) Muslim cleric calls for the beheading of a Dutch politician?

Not much.

What happens when an American pastor no one ever heard of threatens to burn a Koran?

It ignites an international outcry.

Terry Jones, pastor of a 50-member church in Gainesville, Fla., threatened to burn the Koran as a protest against the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center. Democrats and Republicans denounced Jones. Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, warned that Jones' action would put American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan at risk, and he personally telephoned the pastor to dissuade him.

Those who would desecrate the Koran or who would draw a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad or who would otherwise "disrespect" Islam run the risk of being murdered. This is quite a response from followers of what President George W. Bush called a "religion of peace," the "hijacking" of which motivated the 9/11 hijackers. Bush repeatedly distinguished between a war against Islamofascism and a war on Islam. But the distinction apparently collapses if one pastor doesn't get the memo.

How dare this pastor of some church-nobody-heard-of show insufficient respect for Islam, many of whose followers support a global jihad that demands replacement of all non-Islamic governments, as well as the conversion of all to Islam, by force if necessary?

Feiz Muhammad

Where is the international outcry from this recent story from Reuters?

"A well-known Australian Muslim cleric has called for the beheading of Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders. ...

"The Sydney-born (Feiz) Muhammad has gained notoriety for, among other things, calling on young children to be radicalized and blaming rape victims for their own attacks.

"(De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' largest newspaper) posted an English-language audio clip in which he refers to Wilders as 'this Satan, this devil, this politician in Holland' and explains that anyone who talks about Islam like Wilders does should be executed by beheading. ...

"Wilders is currently on trial in the Netherlands for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

"The Freedom Party leader made a film in 2008 which accused the Koran of inciting violence and mixed images of terrorist attacks with quotations from the Islamic holy book.

"Wilders was also charged because of outspoken remarks in the media, such as an opinion piece in a Dutch daily in which he compared Islam to fascism and the Koran to Adolf Hitler's book 'Mein Kampf.'"

Civil libertarian groups vigorously defend vile but protected speech. Where are the free-speech groups denouncing Wilders' prosecution for making abrasive comments? Or does the right to free speech only apply to the nasty comments routinely made on cable shows by Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck/tea party-hating lefties?

If a proposed Koran burning generates international news and condemnation, isn't the call by an Australian Muslim cleric for the beheading of a democratically elected European politician worthy of a few moments on the network nightly news?

Offensive acts by non-Muslims provoke calls for sensitivity and understanding. Offensive acts by Muslims generate indifference rather than denunciations of the barbarous statements and acts that Muslim clerics and others call for in the name of Islam.

Why the double standard?

Dr. Fred Gottheil is an economics professor at the University of Illinois. He calls himself a "Keynesian-type economist" who is "not afraid of deficit spending" -- not exactly Reaganesque.

In January 2009, some 900 academics signed a four-page petition calling for a U.S. abandonment of the support of Israel. Gottheil learned that many of the petition signatories belonged to faculty from women's and gender studies departments. He decided to conduct an experiment.

Would the same professors sign a "Statement of Concern" over the anti-human rights, anti-gay, anti-woman practices in the Muslim Middle East? Gottheil composed a four-page document citing evidence of atrocities, along with the names of Muslim clerics and scholars defending these violations of human decency. He e-mailed his statement to 675 signers of the anti-Israel petition.

What happened? "The results were surprising," Gottheil said, "even though I thought the responses would be few. They were almost nonexistent."

Bottom line: Barbarity in the name of Islam is not even remotely condemned to the degree that the West condemns insensitivity by cartoonists, politicians and anti-Islam clerics.

Why? A denunciation of Muslim practices suggests a superiority of American values and culture. The left finds the very notion objectionable.

Gottheil put it this way: "If leftist 'progressives' really cared about women, gays and lesbians, then they would be fighting for their rights in places where such rights are really violated -- like under Hamas in Gaza and under the mullahs in Iran. But doing so would legitimize their own society and its values and therefore completely cripple their entire identity and life purpose, and so their purported concern for women, gays and lesbians has to go out the window."

It is a bizarre and dangerous double standard that allows a Pastor Jones to become more notorious than a Feiz Muhammad.

Examiner Columnist Larry Elder is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.

Related Video Link (Feiz Muhammad calling for the beheading of Geert Wilders):

Film Review: 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps'

Greed i$ ju$t ok

New York Post
September 24, 2010

I liked Gordon Gekko better before he turned into Paul Krugman, but in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” he is still at his core a seductive high priest of the money-changers’ temples. Welcome back, you sly bastard.

The sequel to 1987’s “Wall Street” essentially makes no sense on either the micro or macro level, from clanking one-liners all the way up to the Meaning of Finance. But director Oliver Stone, perhaps realizing his own credit line with the studios has run thin in the two decades since he’s had a hit, is at least wise enough to give us as much eye candy as castor oil.

Gekko (a loose and funny Michael Douglas) slinks out of federal prison in 2001, unwelcomed but unbroken. The insider-trading scandal of the first film was only the beginning of his unpleasantness. As time passes and he readies a book for publication in the fateful year of 2008, he wants revenge on a former associate who helped put him in prison — the Street’s new kingpin, Bretton James (Josh Brolin).

Also he wants to repair things with his daughter (Carey Mulligan, an Oscar nominee for “An Education”), who can’t forgive him for his absence during the drug-fueled downfall of her late brother. By coincidence, his daughter’s boyfriend Jake (Shia LaBeouf) is a L’il Gekko (albeit with a green streak), a trader who also wants revenge against James for his sharky takeover of Jake’s firm, which has undergone a Lehman Brothers-grade implosion.

Stone and his screenwriters have a lot of ideas — the movie is fast-paced and loaded with story lines — but can’t quite shape the 2008 meltdown into a movie. We should be outraged about the crisis because . . . it led to the suicides of top banking officials? Sorry, incorrect. And Stone is childlike in the simplicity of his view that anyone on Wall Street can take down an enemy simply by planting a false rumor on a message board, with no consequences. Financial savants will find the movie way too facile, and yet there is too much jabber about CDOs and moral hazard for the average viewer.

The one attempt to show how a hurricane on Wall Street washes away Main Street is embodied in Jake’s mother (Susan Sarandon). She’s a caricature of a garish Lawn Guyland lady who quit nursing to be a real-estate agent and is as addicted to cheap money (loans from her son) as the big shots. But Stone can’t avoid wagging a finger in the poor woman’s face, as if her desire to better herself is what’s wrong with her, and we’re meant to cheer when she returns to nursing. Easy for Stone to say the middle class should know its place: He was born rich. His dad worked on Wall Street.

Gekko, in promoting his book, channels Stone’s contempt in a lengthy denunciation of Wall Street. Dramatizing an idea means more than just assigning a speech to a character, and anyway Gekko seems a curious choice to lash out at the Street — especially when his daughter is a lefty blogger. She should be the one explaining these points, and be more than just the girl, but Stone’s interest in female characters has always been minimal, from his “Scarface” days forward.

What will stick with most viewers is the glitzy images of Manhattan skyscrapers, the zippy Ducatis and the jittering rows of numbers indicating fortunes made, lost and regained. For all of Stone’s distaste for capital, he conjures up a vision to tempt a new generation (as “Wall Street” did, unintentionally) into the forbidden kingdom.

As with the original film — and “Paradise Lost” and “All in the Family” — the supposed villain is the one to root for, and Stone is a little more aware of this now, tasking Brolin with the heavy-duty nastiness so Douglas can loosen up. The movie is at its best when Gekko gets back into the game, with his impish smile and his perfect hair. Douglas even pivots gracefully to an emotionally resonant scene in which he tries to rebuild bridges with his daughter.

By contrast, LaBeouf is an underperforming asset, never anything but the eager pup he’s been in every movie to date. Maybe his future lies in playing the clueless straight man. When he tells Gekko all about a green scheme that’ll change the world — something about turning seawater into fuel — Gekko has the funniest, most dead-on line of the movie: “That’s smart. That’s the next bubble.”

Republicans' pledge: A big 'no' to O

New York Post
September 24, 2010

The agenda item calling for pushing the elderly into the streets doesn't appear in the House GOP's new "Pledge to America." It must have been an oversight, or a last-minute printing error.

That didn't keep Speaker Nancy Pelosi from decrying just such a scheme in the making. The Pledge promises to "turn Social Security from a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble," the speaker thundered, reverting to a line that was already ragged and tired about 50 years ago. Majority Whip James Clyburn said the Pledge's health-care provisions would visit a "plague" on the nation's families -- whether of frogs, locusts or livestock disease, he didn't specify.

Did Republicans err by giving Democrats a target in an election already swinging their way? That might be true if it weren't a common-sense document closer to the new political center than anything on offer from its critics.

In warning of the ravages that will be visited upon the nation by promises "to protect our entitlement programs for today's seniors and future generations" and to repeal an unwieldy, unpopular health-care law, Democrats will look unhinged, desperate and wedded to the fiscally incontinent status quo.

In other words, they'll look the way they do now -- only more so.

Mark Twain said that history doesn't repeat, but rhymes. Lately American politics has been playing out in iambic pentameter.

Riding a wave of disgust with a new liberal president, House Republicans unloosed 1994's "Contract With America," a minimalist document promising votes on popular measures like welfare reform and a balanced- budget amendment. Democrats poured on unrelenting scorn and warnings of doom, and came up empty. In his memoir, Bill Clinton regretted this unsophisticated and ineffectual Democratic tack.

In the end, though, the Contract wasn't decisive in 1994, and the Pledge won't be in 2010. The most important word of the election is simple and pungent in any language: "no," "nyet," "non," "nein," "nei," "nej." Voters wanted someone to say it to President Obama, and Republicans did. Everything else is a footnote.

The ultimate import of the Pledge is as a pre-emptive act of governing. If the chants of "Speaker Boehner" outside the event announcing the document were premature, they weren't far-fetched. The Pledge will provide a sheet anchor for Republicans should they take power in a vertiginous sweep -- and does voters the civic favor of giving them a preview, in some specificity, of the party's initial priorities.

The preamble sets out a new iteration of Republicanism. In 1994, the Contract had a Perotista flavor and emphasized first-day institutional reforms of Congress. In 2000, George W. Bush unveiled "compassionate conservatism" as an implicit surrender to big government. In its evocations of the country's founding documents, the Pledge identifies itself with a constitutional conservatism determined to return government within its proper bounds.

The first step, of course, is resisting and unspooling the Obama agenda. This isn't surprising, but neither is it nothing. In committing to return spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, the Pledge promises a significant spending cut, as much as $1 trillion over 10 years.

If a Republican Congress were to manage only that rollback in its first year, it would deserve an honored place in the annals of limited government, which is sparse on federal spending reductions.

The Pledge hardly does the full Tea Party. But it includes a version of six of the 10 items in the "Contract From America" formulated by Tea Party groups with public input earlier this year, including specifying the constitutionality of every bill, instituting spending caps, repealing ObamaCare, stopping tax increases, rejecting cap-and-trade and encouraging energy production. On yet another item, House Republicans have separately promised to eschew earmarks. Seven out of 10 ain't bad.

The Pledge is forthright that it only represents a start, and a direction. Along with its agenda items, it includes data on our overwhelming fiscal challenges. The implicit choice it offers is beginning to grapple with them, or continuing to whistle in the dark.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Today's Tune: Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA (Live 2003)

(Click on title to play video)

A Fugitive from Jihad

Posted by Robert Spencer on Sep 23rd, 2010

The Seattle Weekly reported it rather laconically last Wednesday: “You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. That’s because there is no more Molly.”

Norris, the Weekly’s popular cartoonist and originator of Facebook’s notorious “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” page, had not died. Rather, she had gone into hiding because of death threats from Islamic supremacists. The Weekly explained:

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, “going ghost”: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program–except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It’s all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” cartoon….

Molly Norris conceived of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” as a joke, but it went viral in part because it was a gesture of defiance in the face of violent threats and intimidation: if Islamic supremacists were threatening to murder European cartoonists Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks because of their cartoons of Muhammad, and anyone else who dared to draw him, then if everyone drew him, the thugs couldn’t possibly kill us all, could they?

Well, no, they couldn’t. But Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born imam who is linked to so much jihadist activity in the United States, including the Fort Hood jihad assassin, the Christmas underwear jihad bomber, and even 9/11, called for her death. And so now she has disappeared. As the Weekly said, there is no more Molly Norris: she has changed her name and gone into hiding.

This is the sort of case that the President of the United States should be talking about. As he wrung his hands about the prospect of Muslim rioting over Qur’an-burning, and told the prospective Qur’an-burner to stand down rather than admonishing Muslims not to react with violent rage to something that did not harm them, the Molly Norris case gave Barack Obama an opportunity. He should have gone on television and given a brief lesson about how freedom of speech is a foremost bulwark against tyranny and a cornerstone of any society that respects the dignity of the human being.

Obama could have said that the idea that Molly Norris would have to give up her career and the name she had established as a cartoonist, and live in hiding because of a cartoon, or series of cartoons, is unconscionable. He could have told the Islamic world that neither Muslims nor their prophet were harmed by cartoons depicting Muhammad, and that the willingness of some Muslims to commit murder over such depictions was the only thing that makes people care to draw Muhammad in the first place.

Obama could also have said that to threaten people with death and to kill people who had nothing to do with any cartoons of Muhammad because of those cartoons was sheer madness, and was a form of violent irrationality that was destructive to free societies — and as such, it was something that the U.S. would do everything it could to resist. He could have announced that Molly Norris and others who were threatened by Islamic supremacists for exercising their freedom of speech or freedom of expression would be given full round-the-clock protection — and that if violent protests and riots over cartoons or Qur’an-burning broke out in areas where American troops are deployed, those troops would put down those riots and protect the innocent to the fullest possible extent.

Meanwhile, there is no indication (officially, anyway) that Molly Norris is receiving any aid from law enforcement authorities as she disappears and reconstructs her identity – in sharp contrast to the Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is receiving protection from the New York City Police Department because of threats he has allegedly received. In even sharper contrast, Gainsville, Florida authorities have announced that they plan to bill the abortive Qur’an-burner Terry Norris $180,000 for security costs for the Qur’an-burning event that he ultimately called off – despite the fact that they never bothered to warn Norris beforehand that he would be footing the bill.

Apparently when Muslims behave with violent irrationality, it is entirely the responsibility of non-Muslims who supposedly “provoke” them to clean up the mess they make. It is unfortunate that in these dark days we don’t seem to have any leaders who will stand up for the principles of freedom of expression, explaining their importance and defending their necessity. Molly Norris, and every free citizen, deserves nothing less.

The Sharia-Compliant American Left


By George Neumayr on 9.23.10 @ 6:08AM
The American Spectator

Vladimir Lenin said that westerners too dumb to recognize his plans to "hang them" would "sell me the rope -- on credit." And they did, engaging in decades of excuse-making for Communist totalitarianism. But without the Soviets around, the American left needed new anti-western totalitarians to mollify, and the leaders of militant Islam satisfied that itch.

In the 1970s, the American left embraced the Ayatollah Khomeini. Jimmy Carter's United Nations representative, Andrew Young, said that in time Khomeini would be seen as "some kind of saint." The BBC and New York Times defended Khomeini as a potential progressive during his days as a Parisian layabout in exile. Carter's ambassador to Iran assured the skeptical that "Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure."

Today's American left displays its useful idiocy by insisting after each new act of Islamic terrorism that "Islam is a religion of peace." MSNBC is the unofficial headquarters for these useful idiots and now numbers the mugging and giggling morning host and "Republican" lightweight Joe Scarborough as a member in good standing. In between goofing around with Carter adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's stuck-up daughter Mika, Scarborough often shills for the Gandhi-like figures of Islam today. He longs for that glorious day when fellow Republicans abandon their bigotry and see a mosque near the ruins of the World Trade Center as American as apple pie.

Eugene Robinson, whom MSNBC hosts incessantly introduce as a "Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist" before his insight-free appearances, wrote a column this week titled "Sharia the new Red menace?" [1] Robinson chuckled at Newt Gingrich's recent comment that Sharia law is seeping into western countries through "stealth jihadis."

"The 'stealth jihadis,' I suppose, must be like the 'known communists' on the list in Sen. Joseph McCarthy's hand," wrote Robinson, a gibe sure to impress peers at the Post and New York Times who for years insisted Alger Hiss wasn't a Communist. Robinson appears oblivious to the fact that western liberals themselves have endorsed the spread of Sharia law.

In 2008, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, supported the adoption of elements of Sharia law in Britain. "It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of Sharia are already recognized in our society," he said. Williams called for "plural jurisdiction" and "constructive accommodation."

The American left's face of moderate Islam, the Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, wrote for Eugene Robinson's own employer in 2008 that Rowan Williams "was right": "The addition of Sharia law to 'the law of the land,' in this case British law, complements, rather than undermines, existing legal frameworks. The Archbishop was right. It is time for Britain to integrate aspects of Islamic law." [2]

Robinson finds it absurd that Gingrich would say, "How we don't have some kind of movement in this country on the left that understands that sharia is a direct mortal threat to virtually every value that the left has is really one of the most interesting historical questions." But Gingrich is hardly the first person to make this point. Liberals such as the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci and Salman Rushdie complained about the obtuseness of progressive Islamophiles long before Gingrich talked about it. When Tony Blair wowed progressives in 2005 by naming Sir Iqbal Sacranie as the face of moderate Islam in the U.K, Rushdie had to remind his peers that Sacranie approved of the fatwa on his head (saying "death is perhaps too easy" for Rushdie) and had boycotted a Holocaust remembrance.

Communism's useful idiots sold Lenin and his successors the rope to hang them. Islam's apologists will not only sell the jihadists the rope to hang westerners but will acquit them through Sharia law after they do.

- George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report and press critic for California Political Review.




The Carter-Obama Comparisons Grow

Walter Mondale himself sees a parallel.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2010.

Comparisons between the Obama White House and the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter are increasingly being made—and by Democrats.

Walter Mondale, Mr. Carter's vice president, told The New Yorker this week that anxious and angry voters in the late 1970s "just turned against us—same as with Obama." As the polls turned against his administration, Mr. Mondale recalled that Mr. Carter "began to lose confidence in his ability to move the public." Democrats on Capitol Hill are now saying this is happening to Mr. Obama.

Mr. Mondale says it's time for the president "to get rid of those teleprompters and connect" with voters. Another of Mr. Obama's clear errors has been to turn over the drafting of key legislation to the Democratic Congress: "That doesn't work even when you own Congress," he said. "You have to ride 'em."

Mr. Carter himself is heightening comparisons with his own presidency by publishing his White House diaries this week. "I overburdened Congress with an array of controversial and politically costly requests," he said on Monday. The parallels to Mr. Obama's experience are clear.

Comparisons between the two men were made frequently during the 2008 campaign, but in a favorable way. Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz, for instance, told Fox News in August 2008 that Mr. Obama's "rhetoric is more like Jimmy Carter's than any other Democratic president in recent memory." Syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg noted more recently that Mr. Obama, like Mr. Carter in his 1976 campaign, "promised a transformational presidency, a new accommodation with religion, a new centrism, a changed tone."

But within a few months, liberals were already finding fault with his rhetoric. "He's the great earnest bore at the dinner party," wrote Michael Wolff, a contributor to Vanity Fair. "He's cold; he's prickly; he's uncomfortable; he's not funny; and he's getting awfully tedious. He thinks it's all about him." That sounds like a critique of Mr. Carter.

Foreign policy experts are also picking up on similarities. Walter Russell Mead, then a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Economist magazine earlier this year that Mr. Obama is "avoiding the worst mistakes that plagued Carter." But he warns that presidents like Mr. Obama who emphasize "human rights" can fall prey to the temptation of picking on weak countries while ignoring more dire human rights issues in powerful countries (Russia, China, Iran). Over time that can "hollow out an administration's credibility and make a president look weak." Mr. Mead warned that Mr. Obama's foreign policy "to some degree makes him dependent on people who wish neither him nor America well. This doesn't have to end badly and I hope that it doesn't—but it's not an ideal position after one's first year in power."

Liberals increasingly can't avoid making connections between Mr. Carter's political troubles and those of Mr. Obama. In July, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked his guests if Democrats up for re-election will "run away from President O'Carter." After much laughter, John Heileman of New York Magazine quipped "Calling Dr. Freud." To which Mr. Matthews, a former Carter speechwriter, sighed "I know."

Pat Caddell, who was Mr. Carter's pollster while he was in the White House, thinks some comparisons between the two men are overblown. But he notes that any White House that is sinking in the polls takes on a "bunker mentality" that leads the president to become isolated and consult with fewer and fewer people from the outside. Mr. Caddell told me that his Democratic friends think that's happening to Mr. Obama—and that the president's ability to pull himself out of a political tailspin is hampered by his resistance to seek out fresh thinking.

The Obama White House is clearly cognizant of the comparisons being made between the two presidents. This month, environmental activist Bill McKibben met with White House aides to convince them to reinstall a set of solar panels that Mr. Carter had placed on the White House roof. They were taken down in 1986 following roof repairs. Mr. McKibben said it was time to bring them back to demonstrate Mr. Obama's support for alternative energy.

But Mr. McKibben told reporters that the White House "refused to take the Carter-era panel that we brought with us" and only said that they would continue to ponder "what is appropriate" for the White House's energy needs. Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that the Obama aides were "twitchy perhaps about inviting any comparison (to Mr. Carter) in the run-up to the very difficult mid-term elections." Democrats need no reminding that Mr. Carter wound up costing them dearly in 1978 and 1980 as Republicans made major gains in Congress.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for


By Ann Coulter
September 22, 2010

Washington elites' heads exploded when Christine O'Donnell won the Republican Senate primary in Delaware last week. Luckily they were all reading The New York Times' op-ed page at the time, so the mess their exploding heads created was minimal.

The establishment's complaints are confusing. They say O'Donnell has a problem because she's never held a job in the private sector (like our president), didn't pay her taxes (like our treasury secretary), and had her house foreclosed on (like half of the electorate).

They also accuse her of saying crazy things -- but she's running for Joe Biden's old seat, so this may be an advantage.

This week, all we've heard about is how O'Donnell once said she went on a date with a guy in high school who claimed to be a witch. (So what? Bill Clinton married one!) Bill Clinton was credibly accused of at least one forcible rape. Those two seem about equal to you?

I haven't seen hypocrisy like this since -- oh, that's right, since last week when CBS's Bob Schieffer attacked John Boehner for smoking, after two years of the media's ferociously avoiding the topic of Obama's cigarette habit.

Ronald Reagan delivers a speech in support of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964.

The Republican Party is being warned that tea party-endorsed candidates such as O'Donnell might lead to Barry Goldwater-style epic defeats.

Of course, the tea party candidates range from libertarian Rand Paul in Kentucky to Yale Law/Iraq War veteran Joe Miller in Alaska to Christian activist O'Donnell. But any evidence of principle in a Republican is always treated by the elites as if it's an embarrassing eccentricity best kept under wraps.

Referring to "fringe candidates" from the tea party, Morton Kondracke wrote in Roll Call that Republicans are "heading out of the mainstream" and cited Goldwater as a "disastrous" precedent.

David Gergen said on CNN that the tea party candidates may be producing "something like what we saw back the 1960s when the rise of Barry Goldwater seized power in the party back from the establishment, took it, but then went on to get a real drubbing in that '64 national election."

CNN's Gloria Borger also compared the tea party movement's demand for ideological purity to the conservatives' ill-fated nomination of Barry Goldwater.

As a one-off, 46-year-old example, Goldwater is like the Timothy McVeigh of conservative presidential candidates. But if Goldwater is going to keep being used as a boogeyman to scare conservatives, let's at least get the history straight.

Ironically, the elites also compared Reagan to Goldwater and predicted a devastating defeat for him in 1980. But Reagan didn't lose. He not only never lost an election, he never won by less than a landslide. (You might say Reagan's opponents suffered Goldwater-style defeats.)

So what was the difference between Goldwater and Reagan? Had the country changed that much in 16 years?

The social issues were the difference. Reagan agreed with Goldwater on fiscal and national defense issues, but by 1980, social issues loomed large and Reagan came down mightily on one side -- the opposite side as Goldwater, as it turned out.

Unlike abortion-loving Goldwater, Reagan said, "We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide."

And unlike gay-marriage-loving Goldwater, Reagan said: "Society has always regarded marital love as a sacred expression of the bond between a man and a woman. It is the means by which families are created and society itself is extended into the future. ... We will resist the efforts of some to obtain government endorsement of homosexuality."

Goldwater may have been a thorough-going right-winger on national defense, but -- unless L. Brent Bozell Jr. was writing it for him -- he never would have said this of the Soviets, as President Reagan did: "There is sin and evil in the world and we are enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might."

CNN's Borger contrasted Goldwater with Ronald Reagan by precisely reversing their differences, claiming Reagan "was probably the most secular president we've known in our lifetime."

Yes, the man who called the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire," who wrote a book against abortion as a sitting president, and who said that our government's founding documents "speak of man being created, of a creator, that we are a nation under God" -- that's the one Borger calls "the most secular president we've known in our lifetime."

By "most secular," I gather she means "most deeply religious."

Establishment Republicans are always telling Christian conservatives to put our issues aside because they're not popular -- and then moderate Republicans go on to lose elections, while conservative Republicans win in landslides. (It's almost as if the voters couldn't care less who David Brooks thinks they should vote for!)

As long as liberals are going to keep gleefully citing Goldwater's love of gay marriage and abortion, his contempt for Christian conservatives, and his statement that "every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass," maybe they could ease up on blaming Christian conservatives for Goldwater's historic loss.

Goldwater wasn't our guy; Reagan was.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Congressman

by Robert Spencer

Rep. Keith Ellison (D.-Minn.), the first Muslim in the House of Representatives, has weighed in on the Ground Zero mosque controversy, and in the process defamed the 70% of Americans who oppose the mosque.

After the November elections, Ellison predicted, the controversy will “die down” but not “go away,” because “the people who are struck by fear and who are creating a climate of fear with the thought of this Islamic center are not going away.”

He compared this “climate of fear” to “people scapegoating Catholics” in the early 1960s, and added: “We have a long history of racial discrimination and scapegoating,” naming Jews, welfare queens, black men and Latinos as victims of this scapegoating.

This is the same dishonest narrative we have seen recently from Nicholas Kristof and many others: that Muslims in America today are facing a resurgence of the nativism that earlier targeted Catholics and others.

In the first place, there is no such scapegoating: Hate crimes against Muslims are actually quite rare. But also, the comparison is entirely fallacious because none of the groups Ellison (pictured at right) names as previous “scapegoats” were carrying out terror attacks against Americans and others worldwide.

They weren’t justifying violence and hatred by reference to Catholic or Jewish teaching. The people who were worried about the pope running the country could point to no action by the pope to try to achieve such power. The Muslim Brotherhood, in contrast, is dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within” so that Islam “is victorious over other religions.”

The idea that non-Muslims are suspicious of Muslims out of bigotry, rather than out of a legitimate concern for both jihad terror and the utterly supine and often disingenuous response to it from peaceful and ostensibly moderate Muslims is nonsense of such an outstanding character that I wonder if Ellison himself even believes it, rather than simply seeing it as a useful line he can use to bamboozle the besotted leftists who elected him to Congress.

It is rich for Ellison to complain about scapegoating when so many mass murderers and would-be mass murderers point to Islamic teaching as the motivation and justification for their actions.

Think of Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas underwear jihadist; Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square jihadist; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden on 9/11; the London jihad bombers of July 7, 2005; and so many, many others. How long will non-Muslims continue to swallow the increasingly less convincing line that none of this violence has anything to do with Islam?

Of course, many will continue to do so, and they will continue to do so because of the attempts by Ellison and so many other Muslim spokesmen to claim victim status for Muslims and divert attention away from jihadist crimes. Ellison does mention a few of these jihad attacks, but says nothing about the belief-system that motivated them, or what can and should be done within the Muslim community in the U.S. to help ensure that there will be no such attacks in the future—that is, if preventing such attacks is on the Muslim community in America’s to-do list at all.

Ellison also praised President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Gen. David Petraeus and New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler for contributing to the “marginalization of people who make their living on this stuff, like Pam Geller and Robert Spencer.”

He would certainly like to see us marginalized, since I have been the one calling attention to his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Ellison’s pilgrimage to Mecca was paid for with $13,350 from the Muslim American Society, which is the Brotherhood’s chief operating arm in the U.S. The Brotherhood is dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Imagine if a conservative congressman had taken a trip that had been paid for by a Christian group that was, according to one of its own documents, dedicated to “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” so that Christian law would replace the U.S. Constitution. I expect we would hear more of an outcry than we ever heard about Ellison’s Brotherhood-funded hajj.

But I’m going to keep talking about it. No wonder he wishes we were marginalized.

- Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad (both from Regnery—a Human Events sister company) and most recently coauthor of Pamela Geller’s The Post-American Presidency (Simon & Schuster).

The Pope's parting gift

Benedict XVI's historic visit to Britain has been a resounding success – and may have changed attitudes towards the role of religion in modern life, says Peter Stanford.

By Peter Stanford
The Daily Telegraph
Published: 8:52AM BST 20 Sep 2010

In a damp Birmingham park before a crowd of 55,000 worshippers, Pope Benedict XVI rounded off his visit to Britain yesterday by beatifying the Victorian convert and theologian John Henry Newman. Like Newman (best remembered, said Benedict, for his "keen intellect and prolific pen"), this Pontiff has long enjoyed a reputation for being a complex, clever but rather dry academic, favouring language that is difficult to understand and moral positions that are uncompromising. Hence his nickname, "God's rottweiler". Or at least that was how Benedict was seen until he arrived in Britain. What a difference four days can make.

Pope Benedict XVI addresses a mass to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, (Pictured background) in Cofton Park, in Birmingham, central England, on September 19, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to Britain has been a 'spiritual success', his spokesman said here Sunday.(Getty Images)

When the Pope argued in his homily that, contrary to popular prejudice, Newman was in fact a "warm and human" character, a parish priest and "pastor of souls" as well as a great thinker, he might well have been referring to himself. If this state visit has achieved anything, it has been to show a decidedly sceptical public that the parish priest of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics does indeed have a heart. Since the theme that the organisers chose for the trip was Newman's motto "Heart speaks unto heart", they must be congratulating themselves on a mission accomplished.

From the moment the television cameras picked up Benedict and the Queen chatting amiably in the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Thursday, during the traditional exchange of gifts, it was clear that the Pope was determined to reveal himself more as a kindly German shepherd than a rottweiler. Every time the Popemobile pulled to a halt to allow Benedict to reach out and kiss a baby, that pastoral image was reinforced. And it was not a cynical, mechanical ploy. Benedict's voice may have been devoid of intonation, and his face curiously immobile, but his eyes conveyed that same pastorly warmth and humanity that he praised in Newman. Here was an essentially modest man; if not charismatic in the mould of his crowd-pleasing predecessor, John Paul II, then certainly possessing a quiet charm, and emphatically not the woman-hater, gay-basher or ivory-tower bigot of stereotype.

In advance of the visit, siren voices had warned that it would all be a disaster. Few would turn up, we were told. Yet 125,000 lined the streets of Edinburgh, according to the police, and 75,000 came to Glasgow's Bellahouston Park. Everywhere the Popemobile went, the crowds were 10 or 12 deep. As reporters moved among them, it was clear that these were not simply the faithful, coming out of a tribal loyalty to their embattled leader, but people of faith and none, simply curious to witness a moment of history – the first state visit by a pope since the Reformation – and to hear a distinctly counter-cultural message, questioning the remorseless march of the me society, with its twin obsessions of consumerism and celebrity.

Then there were the pre-visit fears about protesters. Militant atheists threatened Benedict with arrest and an appearance before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, alongside Radovan Karadzic, for "crimes against humanity". Nothing materialised. Even Richard Dawkins's shrill, anti-religion fundamentalism was drowned out by the cheers of welcome. If there was one place where the predicted crowds simply failed to show these past four days it was on the "Nope-to-Pope" rally in London on Saturday, a damp squib compared to the 50,000 in nearby Hyde Park for the papal prayer vigil.

So what has changed now that Benedict has returned to Rome? Well, British Catholics are certainly in better heart. Part of the build-up to the Pope's visit was an outbreak of virulent anti-Catholicism that made most of us nervous of standing up and being counted, lest it open us to the charge that we were somehow excusing or overlooking the activities of paedophile priests and colluding in the church's cover-up of them.

Benedict, to our relief, didn't dodge this scandal, which has so sapped Catholicism's moral authority and Catholics' faith of late. In Westminster Cathedral he condemned the "unspeakable crimes" of abusive clerics and – an advance on previous statements – included himself ("all of us" was the phrase) in those who were to blame for not responding quickly enough to reports of wrongdoing. But, as well as meeting victims of perverted priests, he also drew attention to the good work done by the 99.6 per cent of British clergy who have not faced accusations of abuse. There was also a visit to an old people's home in Vauxhall and a meeting at Twickenham with those involved in Catholic schools.

Benedict was also careful not to challenge British Catholics in those areas where they have shown themselves, in poll after poll, to dissent from official church teaching. There was no plea to throw away their condoms, no condemnation of homosexuality and civil partnerships, and no anti-abortion rally. Indeed, there was almost no out-and-out evangelisation. Benedict seemed much more concerned with rekindling the church's dialogue with civil society (another theme he shares with Newman) than with making converts.

What sort of society did every citizen of this country want to live in, he challenged us? Was it one where everyone had an equal worth, as emphasised by Catholic social teaching, one where – in a remark that resonated round Westminster Hall – it was the task of helping the world's poor and marginalised, rather than the banks, that was judged "too big to fail"?

His demand that religion no longer be relegated to the private sphere, that Christmas be publicly celebrated, will have chimed far beyond a core Catholic audience, among the 72 per cent who in the last census described themselves as Christian, and among the 75 per cent who, in a 2008 poll, said the economic crisis had caused them to re-evaluate their core values and search for a more spiritual approach to life.

So will the visit change anything? The "aggressive secularists" who the Pope condemned so plainly may no longer find they enjoy such an exaggerated platform. Politicians may listen more carefully to church leaders when tackling tricky questions of public morality. Believers may feel that they don't have to be afraid of being labelled "nutters" in Tony Blair's chilling phrase if they come out about their faith and how it inspires them.

In terms of specifics, though, what might we expect in the weeks and months ahead? Benedict was careful, throughout his visit, to present Blessed John Henry Newman, as we must now call him, as a model for the discourse between faith and reason, the church and "the public square". There is, of course, another altogether more obvious dimension to the founder of the Birmingham Oratory where the Pope ate his farewell lunch. Newman was an Anglican who felt drawn to the Catholic tradition and who, after much soul searching and to the dismay of many of his friends in the Oxford Movement, rejected the halfway house of Anglo-Catholicism, within the Church of England, to take the Pope's shilling.

There is currently a group within the Church of England, dismayed by the prospect of having to answer to a woman bishop, hovering on the brink of making the same decision as Newman. Benedict, notwithstanding his historic embrace in Westminster Abbey with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has even been offering them inducements – accelerated entry into the Catholic fold, and a special dispensation from the rule that requires priests to be celibate. Will Newman's beatification and the whole papal visit make them more likely to "come over"? Yes. One of the worries of some potential Anglican converts – admittedly more real in Newman's age than our own – is that they are somehow putting themselves outside the mainstream by becoming Catholics. One of the biggest achievements of Benedict's trip, though, was to show Roman Catholicism very much as a valuable and valued presence at the very heart of this multicultural, multi-faith nation.

Peter Stanford is a former editor of the 'Catholic Herald' and author of 'The Extra Mile: A 21st Century Pilgrimage' (Continuum)

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A Night to Remember Steinbrenner, Fondly

The New York Times
September 20, 2010

This was a night the Boss would have loved. Brian Cashman was sure of that.

He would never have allowed a party for himself, even without the monument, which is about mortality. Even while he was making the old Yankee Stadium tremble with his presence, George M. Steinbrenner III would have shied away from any honor for himself.

“He was the master of ceremonies — for others,” said Cashman, who rose from intern to general manager under the Boss and no doubt was told on occasion that he could be busted right back to intern again.

Former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre walks past a monument of former Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium after an unveiling ceremony, before the Yankees' MLB American League Baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, in New York September 20, 2010. At rear is former Yankees pitcher David Wells. (Reuters)

That was the Boss’s way. He would have appreciated this Monday night as the Yankees fended off their division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays, from his adopted home area. How he hated to lose to the Rays — even in spring training. Made the regulars take the bus across the causeway to St. Pete. He would also have enjoyed watching Derek Jeter, the captain who was allowed to pour Champagne on Steinbrenner’s head in certain Octobers, drive in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning of an 8-6 victory.

On this night of nights, Cashman, one of his most successful protégés, the general manager since 1998, was reminiscing about the Boss.

“I can’t tell you how many people it takes to replace him,” Cashman said. “He was the ticket manager, the marketing director, the general manager, the manager in the dugout, the stadium manager.”

Cashman added, “His family runs it now, and they run it well, but everybody is trying to do what the Boss made happen.”

Cashman was really into it, in the interview room before the monument to Steinbrenner would be unveiled out behind center field.

The memorial to the Boss, who died July 13, nine days after his 80th birthday, is the seventh in Monument Park, joining commemorations of Miller Huggins, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and the events of 9/11.

Grand Yankees like Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson were home for the evening, and so were Joe Torre and Don Mattingly, both of whom left the team with bruised feelings but were now drawn back out of loyalty and love and memories.

Just about everybody in the official party — family members surely included — had memories of a man who could weep in a winning locker room but fire a key employee, and sometimes actually go through with it.

As family members watched the five-minute video tribute to the Boss, one could imagine little cartoon balloons over their heads as they thought of the harsh words, angry accusations, strident challenges issued from the Boss to his intimates.

George Steinbrenner could be miserable, could order a venerable general manager, long before Cashman, to stay in his hotel room to think of something after losing a World Series game, could order an employee to travel on Christmas Day.

But Cashman was remembering the good times, or the somewhat good times, now that the Boss was a man of good karma. The ceremony had brought Torre and Mattingly back to the Bronx for the first time since their departures after the 2007 season. Cashman even sat behind closed doors with Torre and discussed their hard feelings over the breakup. The spirit of the Boss — did you hear that, the spirit of the Boss? — was bringing people together.

Asked what it was like to work for the Boss, Cashman recalled what it was like, in those prehistoric days before e-mails and text messages and the BlackBerry, to arrive in the employee parking lot and sense that everybody was furiously attending to details.

Is the Boss here? “You’d ask the question,” he said, “but you already knew the answer. It would permeate your soul.”

Cashman recalled the meetings, how the Boss had an uncanny ability to ask the one question he could not answer — the vague item in the budget, the blurry sentence. You couldn’t shake him — certainly not in contract negotiations.

Cashman recalled the year when he and George agreed on everything, but there was something else. There was always something else.

“He told me, ‘You’ve got to give me more,’ ” Cashman recalled. And Cashman said he could not promise that because he had nothing more to give. But the Boss persisted. He wanted more this time.

And Cashman pointed out that if he said he would give the Boss more, it would mean he had not given enough the last year, and that was not the kind of talk that pleased George M. Steinbrenner III.

“It was an Abbott-and-Costello routine,” Cashman said. Finally the Boss signed off on the contract, but he ordered Cashman to give more of himself the next time around.

Who was right? “I was right,” Cashman said, but softly, lest the Boss hear him.

Soon it was time to head out to the field, where the Steinbrenner family was driven out to center field, trailed by the players in uniform and then by grand old Yankees, including Torre and Mattingly.

As the monument was unveiled — it seems bigger than the other ones — I could envision the Boss up in his box, squawking into a walkie-talkie because his sons, Hal and Hank, were not wearing ties. Enough to make the old man want to come back and fire them both.


On night of George Steinbrenner Monument Park tribute, ex-Yankee manager Joe Torre steals day

By Mike Lupica
The Daily News
Tuesday, September 21st 2010, 4:00 AM

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Former manager of the New York Yankees Joe Torre (3rd L) walks past the monument of late owner George Steinbrenner with his wife Ali prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 20, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.(Getty Images)

It was not Joe Torre's night, it was George Steinbrenner's at the new Yankee Stadium, this night when they unveiled the monument of Steinbrenner in Monument Park. But Torre was back in the line Monday night at the Stadium, right around 7:15, the line of old Yankees. Torre held the hand of his wife, Ali, as he walked toward the outfield, was cheered when they showed him on the big screen in the outfield above Monument Park, blew a kiss to the crowd then. And in that moment, Torre was officially back. He was a Yankee again. He was in that long line.

The current Yankees walked ahead of him toward the outfield. The Steinbrenner family was taken out to Monument Park in golf carts. Yogi was there with George Steinbrenner's widow, Joan. Bud Selig was there, with his wife, Sue.

Reggie Jackson was in the line Monday night night. So was Don Mattingly, Donnie Baseball himself, cheered as loudly as Torre was at the new Stadium. Big Boomer Wells was there, and later the big screen would show Wells reaching out to touch the monument to Steinbrenner as he walked past it, walked past the great Mo Rivera at the same time.

A long line of New York Yankees, who came to matter again after Steinbrenner bought them from CBS 37 years ago. The new monument to Steinbrenner, in the new Stadium, was huge, of course. So is the place. The Yankees of Boss Steinbrenner always had to be bigger and better than everybody else. And, oh man, sometimes they were.

There was this worry that somehow Torre, and Mattingly, who will replace him as manager of the Dodgers next season, would somehow upstage this occasion because of their presence, because they had accepted the invitation to return to the Yankees on this night. But it wasn't like that. The only ones introduced before the unveiling were the members of the Steinbrenner family and Selig and his wife.

So it was the old man's night all the way. But you better believe that Joe Torre got back in the line Monday night, walked into the new Stadium for the first time. The next time he takes a walk like this out to Monument Park, they will be putting up his plaque out there. And retiring his No. 6.

Torre was the biggest and best manager Steinbrenner ever had. He gave Steinbrenner his best seasons, even better than those first two World Series in 1977 and '78. So Torre was there Monday night because he belonged there, because you can't properly honor George Steinbrenner without Torre being in the house, even if all the winning they did together happened on the other side of 161st St.

Torre didn't have to be the head of the line. Just be back in it.

"I didn't work on that field," he said in the afternoon, talking about the field at the new place. "But it's Yankee Stadium."

So it was about the old and the new at the Stadium on this night. It was about Torre and Mattingly, it was about the members of the current Yankees who made the walk ahead of them to Monument Park. It was the cheers for all of them. For that line that stretches back across the street and across nearly 100 years of baseball.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: New York Yankees Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson walk past the monument to the late owner George Steinbrenner prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 20, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In the interview room before the game, across from a Yankee clubhouse that was never their clubhouse, Torre and Mattingly sat side by side. One of the most popular Yankee ballplayers of all time. Sitting there next to the most popular Yankee manager of all time.

Later Torre would say that he doesn't see himself managing again, not with the Mets or anybody else. Torre didn't close any doors, of course, on the Mets or anybody else, because why should he? In the interview room he certainly didn't rule out coming back in a front office job. But in the afternoon, he was talking about the managing job he used to have across the street.

Torre said that he'd gotten a call as they were closing down the old Stadium, asking if there was anything from the place he wanted.

"The memories were enough," he said.

He left the Yankees after the '07 season and went to the Dodgers and wrote a great book with Tom Verducci that hardly anybody around the Yankees, starting with the general manager, thought was all that great. There were a lot of questions about that Monday, for both Torre and Brian Cashman.

But the night wasn't about their differences, or old grudges. Just about the old man. But because this was the first time back for Torre, you better believe it was about him, too. Because of all the winning he and Steinbrenner did together. "George was responsible for the best years of my life professionally," Torre said, and meant it.

Later, getting into an elevator with Yankees PR director Jason Zillo, Torre was asked if he'd had the chance to look across the street, where all the memories for him are, where there is just an empty lot now, surrounded by construction walls.

"Did you see it?" he was asked.

The spot across 161st where there used to be a ballpark. Most famous in this world. Joe Torre smiled.

"I did," Torre said, and then he smiled. "You know what I really saw? That time marches on."

Torre got in step with all of it Monday night, the sense of time and place and old and new at this Yankee Stadium, same as there was at the old one. Jeter always said they'd take the ghosts across the street. Now George Steinbrenner was one of them.

The walk Jeter and Torre and Mattingly and all of them took on this night was about him. It was something, seeing that line of Yankees. Seeing Torre officially back in it. Joe finally made it across the street.