Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame has an ongoing series of "The told me if I voted Republican that....." over at his site. You fill in the dots with some theoretically pernicious federal policy that some in the media and on the left....but I repeat myself....have expressed regarding voting for Republicans. Of course, the policies that are mentioned are currently being enacted by Democrats and other presumably left of center organizations.
The most recent edition is about astronomer Martin Gaskell. He has been denied the position of running the observatory for the University of Kentucky. Because he is a Christian.
Glenn's observations are great, as always. One that he bypassed was the concern expressed by the university that Mr. Gaskell might be "potentially evangelical". Not that he was confirmed to be evangelical. And no explanation of how being evangelical might make him unsuitable for the position in question. They had a fear....an irrational and unfounded fear....and acted upon it.
Which is exactly what the left says about pretty much anyone that isn't on the left. Someone's Freudian slip is showing......
I think diversity training is in order.
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame has an ongoing series of "The told me if I voted Republican that....." over at his site. You fill in the dots with some theoretically pernicious federal policy that some in the media and on the left....but I repeat myself....have expressed regarding voting for Republicans. Of course, the policies that are mentioned are currently being enacted by Democrats and other presumably left of center organizations.
My wife and I are fans of the Food Channel show "Chopped". There isn't that much emphasis on drawing out the drama between the competitors. Instead, the show's producers focus on the food prepared by the contestants.
This ain't Survivor.
We recently watch an episode that featured Joshua Stokes. He has a blog that I found interesting, and thus I thought to share it with you. Good eating to one and all.
How do you know that the Devil needs a heater? When Socialists favor budget cuts!!
Throw your Euro stereotypes out the window: Last weekend, a Greek government that has cut public-sector pay and lowered pensions won a clear victory in local elections. Despite strikes and violence, despite the fact that Greece's debt is still growing and more cuts are coming, there will be a Socialist mayor of Athens for the first time in 24 years. (And, yes, in Greece, the Socialists favor budget cuts, and the conservatives oppose them.)
More seriously, I have maintained for a long time that we have far more government than is healthy for any nation. Most people here in "flyover" country feel much the same way. It goes without saying that my idea of a "healthy" level of government is well below almost everyone else's.
The rest of the world has looked over the precipice. They have seen where the trail of ever growing government leads. And they are now moving steadily and determinedly back down that trail.
While we march ever forward towards predictable disaster.
We remain, of course, the greatest propagandists for liberty and free markets. Our politicians - even President Obama - can be eloquent in the defense of these ideals. But we haven't practiced what we preach for a long time, much longer than we generally recognize. Americans may be from Mars and Europeans from Venus, but would we re-elect a president who cut government wages in half? I find it hard to imagine.
It is the one course of action that might get Mr. Obama re-elected. And not unlike Mr. Nixon's trip to China, Mr. Obama may be the only person that can sell austerity to an American public that is wary of politics as usual.
A new anti-jihadist initiative?
Topless Danish girls have come in between the Conservative and Danish People’s (DPP) parties following a DPP call for a new introductory film about Denmark for prospective immigrants to include pictures of bare female breasts.
The Conservative Integration Spokesman Naser Khader, however, says that pictures of topless girls on a Danish beach would hardly scare extremists away from applying to stay in Denmark.
I do not endorse the theatrics of the Westboro Baptist Church.
I do not endorse the slashing of tires on vehicles owned by WBC members while they are out protesting some soldier's funeral.
But this seems an opportune moment for schadenfreude. I am so confused.
Ross Douthat shares his thoughts on the various responses to President Obama's commission to address our serious budget deficits. My reading on the right pretty well mirrors his observations that the most vocal conservative critics were single issue advocates, and entertainers. Otherwise, the criticism has been minimal and usually tempered with an acknowledgment of the difficulties involved along with the need for compromise.
Last week’s media coverage sometimes made it sound as if Bowles and Simpson were taking the same amount of fire from left and right. But the reaction from Republican lawmakers and the conservative intelligentsia was muted, respectful and often favorable; the right-wing griping mostly came from single-issue activists and know-nothing television entertainers.
Leaders on the left simply said "no".
The liberal attacks, on the other hand, came fast and furious, from pundits and leading Democratic politicians alike — starting with the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who pronounced the recommendations “simply unacceptable” almost immediately after their release.
Needless to say, none of the liberal lawmakers attacking the Simpson-Bowles proposals offered alternative blueprints for restoring America’s solvency. The Democratic Party has plans for many things, but a balanced budget isn’t one of them.
One of the most frustrating habits of the media, leftish leaders, and leftish commentators,.....but I repeat myself....over the last two years has been their mantra that describes anyone to the right of Joe Lieberman as being part of the "Party of No". This mis-characterization is intended to suggest that non-Democrats are simply unwilling to compromise on any issue.
Yet from my perspective, the right was very willing to compromise on any number of issues...including health care reform...in order to bring about productive change in our country. What they were unwilling to do was to compromise where the proposed reforms would have been counter productive to the cause of advancing our nation.
The only rational response to a "progressive" agenda that does not create progress is the absolute refusal of cooperation. Had the leftish leadership opted for a less leftist/"progressive" agenda over the last two years, I have no doubts that the right would have cooperated to some extent. Extremists would not have been happy....in either party.
In a word, the leftish leadership committed the political sin of "over-reach" and those on the right were quite reasonable in their opposition to changes that [are] e'en now wracking and wrecking our nation.
Now we know exactly what a "Party of No" looks like. It is the absolute refusal to evaluate the merits of much needed budgetary reforms that seek to balance those reforms, strengthen our economy, and generally address the many perspectives that exist.
Perhaps the leadership on the left will next engage in bouts of holding their breath until the adults give in to their petulant refusal to compromise.
Sort of the reverse of "too good to be true".
At a recent candidate's debate/forum in Illinois, a representative of the organizer was offended by the audience. They had the temerity to think that it was appropriate to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at a debate between candidates that were running for the U.S. Congress.
Sort of makes you wonder what league the League of Women Voters is really in.....
For your reading pleasure....if you can stand it.
I found these photos from the Berlin DMY design festival to be absolutely fascinating. I hope you will is well.
You have never seen pin-up girls like this before. Usually, this side isn't something they put on display.
Modest NSFW warning. Anyone that gets excited by these photos is really weird.
Megan McArdle had a piece recently regarding the benefits of ending the corporate income tax. The fact that we have one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world aside, Mrs. McArdle-Suderman offers the following reasons for eliminating this onerous and wasteful burden.
You can't tax a corporation; you can only tax a person
Corporations simply pass along corporate taxes in the price of their products. It is just that simple.
The incidence of "corporate" taxes is not necessarily progressive.
Big companies can afford armies of attorneys and accountants to help them avoid tax liabilities. Smaller companies that earn far less do not have the benefit of those resources.
The corporate income tax encourages firms to use debt finance, rather than equity.
I know a fair bit about this. Consider that Apple is one of the strongest companies in America. I remember 10-15 years ago there were many people that thought Apple was done as a computer company. Yet they are still in the business of making computers...and many other useful gadgets.
How did they survive? They took the road less traveled and became an asset rich company. They own most of their corporate facilities. As a result, they have the flexibility to invest in future products.
Most other companies are in debt. They borrow against their buildings. They borrow against their office furniture. They borrow against their inventory. And when hard times come along, they end up doing what their lenders want instead of having the freedom to re-tool, re-design, and re-orient on new products, new markets, new customers, and new profits.
If we want more stable companies, then we need to get rid of incentives that make them less stable.
You can't eliminate all the loopholes
The corporate income tax encourages firms to waste resources on tax avoidance
The corporate income tax doesn't raise that much money
The above three justifications represent the careful dance that companies and tax inspectors do with one another. Companies waste valuable resources so they pay the least tax possible. Tax inspectors waste valuable resources looking for corporate malfeasance.
Eliminate the tax and companies will focus on earning a profit without the contortions and market distortions caused by the corporate income tax. And tax inspectors can go do something productive...like picking up litter in Antarctica.
Without the corporate income tax, a lot of the incentive for lobbying would go away
If getting corporate America out of the political funding game is so important, you would think that more people would be racing to end the corporate income tax.
Megan has more details, but the above should be enough to pique your curiosity. Have a read.
Courtesy of the WaPo comes word of a study of the impact of various drugs on our society. The most dangerous substance?
Yet we know that alcohol prohibition was an abysmal failure. We should know that prohibition of other drugs has been a failure.
Why exactly are we conducting a War on Drugs?
There was a photo that caused a stir recently. In it a man nearly prostrated himself as Mr. Obama's motorcade passed by. He assumed the position of the supplicant, begging for the scraps from the master's table. The focus in this piece is on race. The supplicant was black. There are a few interesting thoughts for those that might be interested.
That image reminded me of a deep concern that I have that we are losing part of national identity. We refer to the President and his paramour as our "First Couple". The President's wife is called the "First Lady".
Those reference points harken back to the day when our nation's leader was considered to be "first among equals". Presidents never thought to demand obeisance from a fellow American.
This "first among equals" is revealed in other facets of our society. One example is the union worker that expects to be considered the moral equal of the corporate officer. He may earn less, and may not enjoy the same social circle, but his honest efforts are just as honorable as broader efforts of any captain of industry.
I am fortunate to know several people running companies that treat their employees as individuals first and employees second. People that will shake someone's hand regardless of how manicured it may be, or how greasy it might be. Suits can always be cleaned.
It is this ideal that has driven our culture to expand our definitions of "person" and "equality" so that women are far closer to equality with men, minorities are far closer to equality with whites, and it does not require the greatest stretch of imagination to envision GLT folks as exercising the same rights as those of us with the more typical sexual orientations.
How might we lose this national identity that expects everyone to be considered morally equal? Tribalism. A clan-centric focus. Placing a greater emphasis on smaller group identities and thereby denigrating our larger identity as "American".
When we start thinking that kneeling to an American President is an appropriate response to his passing in close proximity, we stop thinking of ourselves as being his....or perhaps her, someday....equal. And in doing so we slowly lose part of what makes us Americans.
Victor Davis Hanson has a brief piece that is well worth the time. In it he breaks down the real reason why Mr. Obama...and his team....are worry some to those that desire a vibrant and growing economy.
- Economics 101
Mr. Hanson asserts that one primary concern is the Mr. Obama...and friends...appear to be unaware that the panoply of human history points to one obvious conclusion. That individuals with the ability to better their own economic condition will achieve that result. People living under centrally planned economies will not.
- Texas or California?
The debate is not between a fully unfettered free market and a communist state but rather it is the narrower choice between Switzerland and Greece. I would suggest that another comparison would be Germany and Ireland. Mr. Hanson tosses in Texas and California for good measure.
There is a difference between having an appropriate level of regulation coupled with restrained public spending and an expansionist government fully confident in its ability to tax and regulate a nation's way into prosperity.
- Neither Baron nor Insect
Mr. Hanson suggests that it is counterproductive to demonize those that have earned their wealth by adding to the many options that we all enjoy in our lives. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have contributed to our national well being by creating wealth. It is this created wealth that permits us to fund government activities.
The wealth the public sector consumes must first be created. Demonizing entrepreneurs is counterproductive to that creative process.
- Grows on Trees?
Mr. Obama....and friends....appear to have little direct experience with the process of creating wealth. Instead they have lived parasitic lives....my description....in jobs funded largely by taxpayers. Having never balanced a budget, or run a major company, Mr. Obama is now in a position where both skills would serve him in good stead.
Had he embraced the individual liberty that is the foundation of our country, he might have led a company as it grew and innovated. And with that knowledge and experience, he would be better prepared to lead us out of our current economic doldrums.
Instead, we find ourselves subjected to theories that are simultaneously "interesting" and unproven within human history.
Is it any wonder that people with money to invest are opting to keep it in their pockets?
Mr. Hanson is more eloquent than I. Please take the time to read his thoughts.
They put you in handcuffs, stuff you in the back of a police car, and stick you in jail for committing the monstrous crime of.....
.....wait for it.....
.....barbery without the benefit of currently documented government imprimatur.
Cutting hair without a barber's license.
It would be laughable were it not so tragic.
Just what were voters saying on election day?
A new IBD/TIPP poll on public attitudes suggests that Tuesday's event was less an election than an intervention: Stop what you are doing; you're hurting us all.The results of the poll suggest that the five most important priorities for voters were:
1) cutting the deficit by cutting spending
2) repeal or revise the new health care law
3) provide more protection against terrorism
4) reduce illegal immigration
5) pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by next year
Sadly, this message will probably sail right over the heads of the people that need to hear it most.
Not dark enough!
What do youse tink is up dere? Only way ta know is ta look!
Alan Funt would have loved this. I'm willing to bet that somewhere there is video of him using it on his show...in black and white!!
Like most kids, I grew up looking up. At the stars. One of the hobbies that I never really got around to trying was astronomy. Or astrology. One of the two. There were stars involved.
And telescopes. But the telescopes that were available to me were pretty minimal. Which is probably why I stopped reading the paper.
Had it been possible to buy a telescope that was closer to the one Daryl Hannah's character in Roxanne, I might have been more interested.
Now I can buy...time....on some pretty big telescopes and really see the stars! Sometimes, technology produces some pretty neat stuff.
When....ahem....Republican.....President George W. Bush wanted to overhaul the mortgage lending industry, Mr. Frank stood solidly opposed.
Now that the damage has been done, he sings a different tune.
''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''
“Low-income home ownership has been a mistake, and I have been a consistent critic of it,’’ said Frank, 70. Republicans, he said, were principally responsible for failing to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants the government seized in September 2008.Emphasis added.
Tar and feathers are too good for him. Links to the respective stories may be found here.
After driving this BMW, one can never be too sure.
Mr. Obama is apparently trying to score some points with his base over political campaign financing. He is attempting to say that the US Chamber of Commerce is funneling foreign funds into domestic campaigns.
He's wrong on that count, which isn't surprising.
However, if he really was interested in preventing foreign contributions in US campaigns, perhaps in 2008 he should have directed that his campaign not remove the standard name-address-account number verification used for most credit card payments. By removing that safety feature from his campaign's online fund-raising feature, Mr. Obama created a wide open hole through which foreign funds were free to flow.
Into his campaign coffers.
I guess that makes all the difference.
There is a report that an audio recording made during the National Guard shootings at Kent State back in 1970 may actually lend credence to the National Guardsmen's story that they were shooting in response to gunfire.
Forensic audio expert Stuart Allen conducted an extensive review of the recording at the request of Cleveland's Plain Dealer newspaper, and he detected four shots matching the acoustic signature of a .38-caliber revolver firing.Of course, this analysis isn't conclusive, but it should be added to the after action investigation so that future generations have a more complete understanding.
Terry Norman, a Kent State student photographing protesters that day for the FBI, was carrying a loaded .38-caliber revolver under his coat, the newspaper said.
If you are an old school scientist, one who has swam in the deep waters of rigorous science, and one who sees those same waters being polluted with influences that undermine the cause of science? You pen a letter that will carry the weight of a battleship anchor with those similarly focused on the rigors of science and the weight of a feather for those who are willing to compromise their profession for wealth and relative fame.
When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence---it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists.
So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind---simply to bring the subject into the open.
To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members' interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.
As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.
APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?
I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.
I hope they remain friends, too. For apparently the APS is no longer concerned with being scientists.
Regular readers will know about NJ Governator Chris Christie and his battles with the NJEA along with the NJ Democrats over general budgetary priorities.
How do those battles get reported?
Well it seems that New Jersey missed out on collecting federal "Race To The Top" education dollars. They came in at 11th place. Only the top ten got any money. New Jersey missed by 3 points. A paperwork error cost them 4.8 points.
However, they could have gotten 14 points if the NJEA had endorsed the NJ state application. Why the imprimatur of the NJEA should be required is beyond me. It seems that such a requirement grants too much power to a private special interest group.
How is the story reported in the NYTimes? Is the headline about how an intransigent union put its ego ahead of the educational needs of the state's students?
Oh hell no.
Christie Helped Lose Grant for Schools, Ex-Official Says
The guy that made the paperwork error got canned so now he's singing as loudly as he can that Chris Christie caused the problem by irritating the NJEA.
No bias to be seen here. Move along quietly while the NYTimes hopes that you haven't an independent thought left in your head. Sheesh!
This Peggy Noonan article speaks to me and it speaks to the motivations of the Tea Party movement. I have no idea how long the link will last as the article is supposed to be behind their firewall. Here's another that might work.
If you write a column, you get a lot of email. Sometimes, especially in a political season, it's possible to discern from it certain emerging themes; the comeback of old convictions, for instance, or the rise of new concerns. Let me tell you something I'm hearing, in different ways and different words. The coming rebellion in the voting booth is not only about the economic impact of spending, debt and deficits on America's future. It's also to some degree about the feared impact of all those things on the character of the American people. There is a real fear that government, with all its layers, its growth, its size, its imperviousness, is changing, or has changed, who we are. And that if we lose who we are, as Americans, we lose everything.
And what I get from my mail is a kind of soft echo of this. America is not Greece and knows it's not Greece, but there is a growing sense,I should say fear, that the weighty, mighty, imposing American government itself, whether it meant to or not, has for years been contributing to American behaviors that are neither culturally helpful nor, as we now all say, sustainable: a growing sense of entitlement, of dependency, of resentment and distrust, and an increasing suspicion that everyone else is gaming the system. "I got mine, you get yours."
Because Americans weren't born to be accountants. It's not our DNA! We're supposed to be building the Empire State Building. We were meant, to be romantic about it, and why not, to be a pioneer people, to push on, invent electricity, shoot the bear, bootleg the beer, write the novel, create, reform and modernize great industries. We weren't meant to be neat and tidy record keepers. We weren't meant to wear green eye shades. We looked better in a coonskin cap!
There is I think a powerful rebellion against all this. It isn't a new rebellion - it was part of Goldwaterism, and Reaganism - but it's rising again.
If it is good enough for the Mortgage Bankers Association, then it must be good enough for you!
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Mortgage Bankers Association Strategic Default|
Today must be "make Dann chuckle" day.
It appears that some artiste has prepared a work of "art" that depicts Jesus fellatiating upon someone. That of course has certain knickers in a decidedly twisted position.
There were the inevitable question of "why not try that sort of thing with Muhammed?"
Surprise! Kudos to the artist for his ecumenicalism.
Then things really get going. Bud Shark...the guy that the original exhibit is about....was advertising prints of the "art" in question on his website. Until someone pointed out that Muhammed was in the same piece of "art". Then he scrubbed it from his site.
The work in question was made by one Enrique Chagoya. Bud Shark just makes the prints. Enrique is a talentless hack who would have remained unknown but for his propensity at pissing off the right kind of people.
I would certainly be less disturbed by "challenging art" if the first challenge wasn't always the artist's lack of artistic ability and/or vision.
....to Rush Limbaugh anymore. Or at least this is a good reminder.
Calling the President a "jackass" is unacceptable. Period.
Boeing’s 737 is the best-selling jet airliner in history: Today, it carries 29 percent of all U.S. domestic air traffic and is responsible for 25 percent of the industry’s fuel use. A reinvention of this commercial workhorse, called the D series, could burn 70 percent less fuel, emit 75 percent less nitrogen oxide and dampen noise from takeoffs and landings. In short, it could transform air travel into a more environmentally benign practice.Faster please?
....required to motor along at 75 mpg. That's 'g' folks...as in gallons.
I wonder where we might be if our American automakers were to take greater interest in fuel efficient cars that normal people would want to drive?
More please...faster please.
No surprise to those of us opposed to this monstrosity all along.
In this case, the technology involves the nano-scale construction of solar voltaic cells that boost energy conversion to ten times greater than was previously thought to be the limit.
Now somebody needs to refine it and someone else needs to deploy it. 'Cause cheap power is invaluable to sustaining a growing economy and our standard of living.
The divine Mrs. Megan McArdle.....Suderman has a very pleasant read on the recent trend among some on the left to deride those of us that believe in a little less government by saying "try Somalia". Asking for a modest reduction in government spending is not exactly the same thing as saying let's not have any government at all.
Likewise, asking for a little more government spending is not exactly the same thing as endorsing the transformative power of communist North Korea. A little more spending is a step in the wrong direction, but that is a different story.
In any case, the fsking she offers to one Michael O'Hare is delightful to read.
Ezra Klein brings us the news that the director of the CBO is projecting that extending the Bush era tax cuts will result in lower revenue and thus higher deficits.
Elmendorf doesn't deny that tax cuts stimulate the economy. But they don't stimulate it that much, he says, and over the long run, the net economic growth from the tax cuts will be quite small. The net deficit impact won't be. "Lower tax revenues increase budget deficits and thereby government borrowing," Elmendorf said, "which crowds out investment, while lower tax rates increase people’s saving and work effort; the net effect on economic activity depends on the balance of those forces." True to form, he brought a graph:The graph and the rest of Ezra's pontification are at the link.
One supposes based on the selective quoting involved that Ezra may not have heard of the other solution for deficit problems. The director of the CBO has.
It is called "cutting spending". You can get burned at the stake for uttering such word in Washington D.C.
Unfortunately, the GOP likes to talk about tax cuts while offering vague and ill defined spending cuts that take place in the future. Equally unfortunate is the Democrats' penchant for raising taxes at the drop of a hat while exhibiting behavior that suggests that they have never met a government program that was not worth funding.
We are quickly approaching dire straights. The best course out of that situation will require a little sacrifice by everyone.
Until someone begins to seriously discuss across the board spending cuts, there is no reason to increase taxes. Shared sacrifice means that those on the receiving end will have to pony up as well.
Kevin Williamson has a nifty little essay on government as force. It is sort of a redux of a P.J. O'Rourke idea about deciding which government programs get funded by putting a gun to grandma's head and asking "do we give away day care or do we kill Grandma?" That is not a direct quote, but the intent is there.
The resort to violence is what makes the question of what kind of things it is legitimate for states to do an important moral concern. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to stop him murdering, raping, or robbing. It seems to me entirely unreasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to extort from him money to fund a project to get monkeys high on cocaine. Those seem to me fairly reasonable distinctions. It is illegitimate for government to use force or the threat of force for projects that are not inherently public in character.Government is force. At some point there will be government agents with guns knocking on doors with the intent of putting people in prison for "non-compliance". As Mr. Williamson suggests, using force to stop bad people from abusing other people is a reasonable use of force. The same cannot be said for other government functions.
The question of how much illegitimacy a state may perpetrate before becoming generally illegitimate itself is of real interest and has been, of late, the subject of some spirited discussion between some of my colleagues here and me. (You probably can guess on which side of the fault line I stand.)
But I would like to make it clear that I am not indulging in a figure of speech: I think it’s a pretty useful heuristic: If you’re not willing to have somebody hauled off at gunpoint over the project, then it’s probably not a legitimate concern of the state.
A newsflash from CNN....Jon Stewart is 'saddened' by Barack Obama's performance as President.
"I think people feel a disappointment in that there was a sense that Jesus will walk on water and no you are looking at it like, 'Oh look at that, he's just treading water' … I thought he'd do a better job," said Stewart.
"I thought we were in such a place [in 2008], much like the Tea Party feels now, that the country … needed a more drastic reconstruction – I have been saddened to see that someone who ran on the idea that you can't expect to get different results with the same people and the same system has kept in place so much of the same system and same people," he said.
Why is he disappointed? What else did he expect from someone with a brief stint as a state legislator prior to an even briefer stint as the part-time.....because he was already running for the Presidency....junior senator from Illinois? What else did he expect from someone that lacks any executive experience?
There is more to governing than the ability to give a good speech.
Molly is disappearing...on her own.
Her newspaper, Seattle Weekly, reports:Perhaps that number of people shouldn't be all that surprising to Ann Althouse as Ann did precisely that in her blog post. The best rejoinder to that sort of thinking comes from the comments.
[O]n the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is... moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity... 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....
ADDED: There's a big Metafilter thread about it, which I'm reading after writing that. A surprising number of people are blaming Norris for bringing the death threats on herself.
PEOPLE WHO DON'T DESERVE TO BE OFFENDED?!?!?!UPDATE - We also have this from Jihad Watch.
Good god, Ann. Their reaction is exactly what makes them deserving.
This is the sort of case that the President of the United States should be talking about. Instead of wringing his hands about the prospect of Muslim rioting over Qur'an-burning, the President should go on television and give 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. He should say that the idea that Molly Norris would have to live in hiding because of a cartoon, or series of cartoons, is unconscionable, and tell the Islamic world that neither Muslims nor their prophet are harmed by cartoons depicting him, and that their violent rage over such depictions is the only thing that makes people care to draw him in the first place. He should say that to threaten people with death and to kill people over cartoons of Muhammad is sheer madness, and is a form of violent irrationality that is destructive to free societies -- and as such, it is something that the U.S. will do everything it can to resist.Were we talking about Christians threatening critics with death, the response from the mainstream media and our government would be far more vocally supportive of the critics. And properly so!
That is the opinion of former US President Bill Clinton.
"A lot of their candidates today, they make him look like a liberal," Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd at a downtown hotel as he campaigned for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, Mr. Bush was never some sort of wild eyed arch conservative. He was right of center to be sure. But America is a country that is generally a little right of center in the first place. He may have been a little right of the country as well. But not by much.
But I suppose that if Bertolt Brecht is your measuring standard, then there are a lot of us that look pretty far out there.
By Mike Higgs
To ten things people will NOT say when they see the Christian bumper sticker (or more subtle fish symbol) on your car:
10. Look! Let's stop that care and ask those folks how we can become Christians.
9. Don't worry, Billy, those people are Christians - they MUST have a good reason for driving 90 miles an hour.
8. What a joy to be sharing the highway with another car of Spirit-filled brothers and sisters.
7. Isn't it wonderful how God blessed that Christian couple with a brand new BMW?
6. Dad, how come people who drive like that don't get thrown in jail?
Dad, can we get a bumper sticker like that, too?
5. Stay clear of those folks, Martha. If they get raptured, that car's gonna be all over the road!
4. Oh, look! That Christian woman is getting a chance to share Jesus with a police officer.
3. No, that's not garbage coming out of their windows, Bert - - it's probably gospel tracts for the road workers.
2. Oh, boy we're in trouble now! We just rear ended one of God's cars.
1. Quick, Alice, honk the horn or they won't know that we love Jesus!
Because they are willing to make the hard choices.
Perhaps for similar reasons, nobody is talking about austerity in America. On the contrary, Republicans are still gunning for tax cuts, and Democrats are still advocating higher spending. Almost nobody—not Paul Krugman, not Newt Gingrich—talks enthusiastically about budget cuts. Instead, our politicians use euphemisms about "eliminating waste" or "making government more efficient," as if no one had ever thought of doing that before.Well, to be honest, no one has taken any interest in actually making government more efficient or in really eliminating waste. Because that would be the end of earmarks and a whole raft of graft.
But we do have a serious spending problem. Our government spends too much. It has made promises that are far too generous in the out years. The fiscal debacle that I have been predicting for decades is upon us.
We face the choice of making hard decisions and surviving, or simply clinging to the hope that "things will all work out" and pile driving our country into fiscal ruin.
The former is easier to experience than the latter. Unfortunately, the latter is easier to achieve than the former.
We recently learned that a Saudi diplomat has asked for asylum in the United States. He is afraid for his life if he returns to Saudi Arabia.
Why? Good question.
He also has a very close friend....lady.....who is Jewish.
He's committed three of the biggest sins you can commit if you live in the Muslim heartland. And he believes that the government will try him and kill him if he returns home.
It seems that the Saudi's have learned of his "lapses" and opted to terminate his diplomatic position and have recalled him to Saudi Arabia.
Hopefully, our State Department will look favorably upon his request.
Most folks know of the serial kerfuffles that arose over various publications electing to print images of Islam's Prophet Mohammed. A guy with the nom de guerre of "Zombie" has developed and maintains an online catalog of images of Mohammed. Many of those images come from Arab countries.
The one that I like the most is this image of Mohammed that is currently on a wall/doorway in Iran.
Poke around....learn a little something....I found it fascinating.
After you get done with the art, you may as well try the letters.....from Muslims around the world.....to Zombie....telling him in very specific detail how they feel about his compilation.
Curiously, for a group that says it practices tolerance and peace, and as a group that expects tolerance and peace, they sure don't seem very tolerant or peaceful. At least some of them don't.
....UT law professor Glenn Reynolds, comes this interesting question:
Question: If intellectuals are anti-American, is it surprising if Americans are “anti-intellectual?” Shouldn’t intellectuals be asking why do they hate us?Glenn links to this story over at the Chicago Boyz Blog where Shannon Love goes on and on and on and on and on and....where was I.....ah yes, much smoke, little heat, not really enough to get all that agitated over.
By the same token, I think Glenn's question is an interesting one. Shannon invokes the incurious leftish model of "What's The Matter With Kansas?" Written by someone that is moderately left of center, he asks the eternal question "Why won't Kansans vote for Democrats that really have their best interests in mind?"
The unspoken additional rhetorical question being "Are they idiots?" The question is rhetorical as we all know about Kansan idiocy based on their voting patterns, don't we?
A better approach, and a far better read, would be for the same folks to ask "What is wrong with our agenda that causes Kansans to vote for Republicans?" Now THAT would be an interesting and introspective book.
For the record, I don't think the word "intellectuals" is being used to mean "college graduates" or "professors" or "smart people".
I checked in on my good buddy, Vin Suprynowicz, and discovered that he....like me....occasionally finds a Democrat worth voting for. Experienced. Competent. Scandal-free.
Pity I can't quote any of the juicier parts for you without incurring legal risks beyond measure.
I beat one of the easy maps....all 60 levels....can you??
And a bit of much needed relief.....
Wouldn't want to over do it.
Can't you see their spear points gleaming?
See their warriors' pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready.STAND AND NEVER YIELD!"
- "Men of Harlech"
Sung by Rick Rescorla in the Ia Drang Valley 1965
From the NY Post...
Glenn Reynolds has posted a link to something that James Lileks wrote two years after 9/11/2001. James is a tremendous writer. I've been reading his stuff for decades.
He has a couple things spot on...
Two years later I take a certain grim comfort in some people’s disinterest in the war; if you’d told me two years ago that people would be piling on the President and bitching about slow progress in Iraq, I would have known in a second that the nation hadn’t suffered another attack. When the precise location of Madonna’s tongue is big news, you can bet the hospitals aren’t full of smallpox victims. Of course some people are impatient with those who still recall the shock of 9/11; the same people were crowding the message boards of internet sites on the afternoon of the attacks, eager to blame everyone but the hijackers. They hate this nation. In their hearts, they hate humanity. They would rather cheer the perfect devils than come to the aid of a compromised angel. They can talk for hours about how wrong it was to kill babies, busboys, businessmen, receptionists, janitors, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers - and then they lean towards you, eyes wide, and they say the fatal word:
And then you realize that the eulogy is just a preface. All that concern for the dead is nothing more than the knuckle-cracking of an organist who’s going to play an E minor chord until we all agree we had it coming.
The people who attacked us will not be satisfied with a diminished US presence on the world stage. They want our beacon of individual liberty extinguished precisely because the premise of an individual being free to reject their distorted, tortured ideology undermines their authority to dictate how people live...or not.
The continued refusal by some to understand this simple truth is a "grim comfort", as James puts it. If they can remain willfully blind to the objectives of our enemy in this conflict, then we must be doing a pretty fair job of fighting it.
I’ve no doubt that if Seattle or Boston or Manhattan goes up in a bright white flash there will be those who blame it all on Bush. We squandered the world’s good will. We threw away the opportunity to atone, and lashed out. Really? You want to see lashing out? Imagine Kabul and Mecca and Baghdad and Tehran on 9/14 crowned with mushroom clouds: that’s lashing out. Imagine the President in the National Cathedral castigating Islam instead of sitting next to an Imam who's giving a homily. Mosques burned, oil fields occupied, smart bombs slamming into Syrian palaces. We could have gone full Roman on anyone we wanted, but we didn’t. And we won’t.
Which is why this war will be long.
It will be a long war. And not unlike the spring of 1942, it isn't exactly clear that we will win. I have no doubt that we have the brains, the people, and the resources to utterly destroy the intolerant and extremist strain of Islam that is causing so much trouble in the world.
I wonder if we have the will to do so.
I don't want it to be 9/11 anymore. I don't want to think about people racing down choked staircases. I don't want to think about firemen running up them. I don't want to think about people deciding whether or not to take a 1300 foot fall or stay in a burning building. I don't want to see the ones that jumped falling. I don't want to imagine the ones that stayed. I don't want to see those two buildings as they slowly implode; pancaking floor after floor until nothing is left but dust and smoke and the knowledge that utter meanness still walks the earth.
I want to go back to 9/10/2001 when the most significant issues of the day were Gary Condit, and the next iteration of "campaign finance reform". I want to go back to wondering when the other shoe would drop.
Instead, I am doomed to remember. Do you?
Or have you forgotten.
I saw this item today over at Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit site:
It’s easy to see why these people don’t mind higher taxes. They don’t plan on paying ‘em anyway . . . .
One aspect of the current government criticisms currently on display is the differential...dare I say disproportionate in many cases...treatment that the IRS offers to those who theoretically owe federal incomes taxes. The two current poster boys are US Representative Charles Rangel who "forgot" to report well over US$1 million dollars in income over a number of years and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who owed $14,847 in back taxes. Mr. Geithner apparently had no intention of paying until he was nominated for his current post.
Mr. Rangel has provided amended returns and paid the taxes that were owed. He has not paid any interest nor was he assessed any penalties. Mr. Geithner paid $15,000 in interest, but was assessed no penalties by the IRS.
No normal citizen could expect such lenient treatment from the IRS when they experience a legitimate tax debt. Trust me. I had one. We weren't in the same league as Mr. Rangel and Mr. Geithner. Yet when I asked to receive the same treatment that Messrs. Rangel an Geithner received, I was told that the IRS cannot guarantee equal treatment for all taxpayers.
Apparently, the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution is not applicable when it comes to matters related to US income taxes.
Glenn has been following the fiscal follies of both Messrs. Rangel and Geithner for quite some time. Additionally, Glenn has been following the huge disconnect between those that run our government. Part of that disconnect is the penalties that our government "masters" and the well connected never seem to pay for violating public laws and policies while us little folks bear the brunt of an overly officious, oafish, and offensive federal government.
Pitchforks were made for situations where public servants forget who they work for.
I believe that Glenn was attempting to demonstrate that people in the federal government were disproportionately above the (tax) law. Glenn's post linked to this LA Times blog which continued the theme of federal workers that were unduly delinquent in paying their taxes. The blog points out several federal departments who's employees have significant tax delinquency issues and who also employ several well connected individuals with tax delinquency issues.
That LA Times blog entry was based on this Washington Post story by T.W. Farnam. T.W.'s story is focused on Capital Hill employees with tax delinquency issues. The general thought again was that the people that are imposing laws on us are apparently unable or unwilling to abide by them as well. In his story, he pointed out that the employees of the Executive Office of the President owed about as much under Barack Obama in 2009 as they had under George W. Bush in 2008.
And that got me to thinking.
If you take the federal civilian employees, the US Postal service (which are not counted as federal employees), and those serving in uniform, the US federal government employs roughly 5.3 million people. The total labor force runs roughly 154.5 million people. That makes federal employees be roughly 3.4% of the total labor force.
Alternatively, if you count only taxpayers, there are 138 million people. That makes federal employees be roughly 3.8% of the total.
The story by T.W. Farnam had a link to a more complete listing of federal employee tax delinquency that was broken down by department/group. You can sort that list a couple of different ways. But the one way you cannot sort it is by the average tax debt per person within a given group. I had to do that myself. We will get there in a moment.
The total tax delinquency of federal employees was roughly US$3.3 billion. The total tax delinquency for the entire United States was roughly US$120 billion in 2003. That's the only number I could readily find. At that rate, federal employees are only 2.76% of the total delinquent tax bill. Given the state of the economy since 2003, I think it is safe to say that the total tax delinquency has gone up just a bit. Which makes federal employees responsible for less than 2.7% of the total bill owed.
So the big lesson learned here is always get to the data before you draw a conclusion. While I do think that the larger point of government policy makers creating laws and policies that they have no intention of obeying, but that they certainly expect us to obey holds true, this particular story doesn't necessarily justify Glenn's comment from above.
The more complete listing linked above had 85 categories of people. It took the data and calculated the average tax debt per person in each category. I then ranked the groups on that average data. The results were surprising.
The table below shows the top 20 categories, plus some others that I found interesting.
|Index||Organization/Type of worker to the IRS||Number of delinquent employees||Balance owed||Average Owed|
|2||Office of Government Ethics||3||$75,304.00||$25,101.33|
|4||Tennessee Valley Authority||292||$6,766,333.00||$23,172.37|
|5||Executive Office of the President||41||$831,055.00||$20,269.63|
|6||Federal Housing Finance Board||4||$79,829.00||$19,957.25|
|7||National Endowment for the Humanities||4||$79,279.00||$19,819.75|
|8||Nuclear Regulatory Commission||57||$1,099,897.00||$19,296.44|
|10||Railroad Retirement Board||31||$531,798.00||$17,154.77|
|11||Export-Import Bank of the United States||10||$166,288.00||$16,628.80|
|13||Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts||754||$11,808,236.00||$15,660.79|
|14||Equal Employment Opportunity Commission||84||$1,303,316.00||$15,515.67|
|15||U.S. House of Representatives||421||$6,524,892.00||$15,498.56|
|17||Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation||155||$2,249,326.00||$14,511.78|
|18||Federal Election Commission||8||$115,747.00||$14,468.38|
|20||Office of Personnel Management||172||$2,367,268.00||$13,763.19|
|23||Federal Reserve System - Board of Governors||81||$1,076,733.00||$13,293.00|
|29||U.S. Tax Court||4||$51,111.00||$12,777.75|
|74||Military active duty||28853||$109,557,536.00||$3,797.09|
The first big surprise is how many government agencies that are directly responsible for either setting or enforcing tax policies have employees that cannot follow those policies. And we're not talking about chump change!
The Executive Office of the President comes in at number 5 on the list!
The Administrative Office of the Courts comes in at number 13.
The US House is 15th on the list.
Perhaps there is some validity to the idea that our government is staffed by people that are unwilling to live under the laws and policies that the rest of us have to observe and obey.
You would think that money men would know how to pay their taxes. Yet the US Federal Reserve - Board of Governors ranks 23rd on the list. The US Treasury department came in at number 67. I am not sure how comforting it is to know that 1200 Treasury department employees cannot satisfy their tax bill in a timely manner.
Due to my military service, I am naturally curious about the military related categories.
Active duty personnel came in at a very respectable 74 out of 85 categories. That may be the result of their lower than average pay simply limiting their ability to get into trouble with the IRS.
Yet the civilian component of the military services....the people responsible for maintaining civilian control....all fared much worse. The Navy at #43, the DoD at #53, the Air Force at #56, and the Army at #57. How can these civilians claim any authority over the active duty military when they cannot complete the simple task of paying their tax debt is beyond me.
Even worse, military retirees were 9th on the list with 84,000 tax scofflaws while civilian government retirees were 39th with only 40,000 tax reprobates! Unacceptable!
When we think about elected or appointed policy makers, I think the general theme of people that pass laws for us to obey, but not necessarily for them is sound. Mr. Rangel and Mr. Geithner are simply the last in a very long line of people that either do not understand or do not care how laws and policies affect the rest of us.
At the same time, I think we ought to be careful about using something as innocuous as tax debt data to slur all federal employees. That brush is more than a little too broad.
I didn't do a rigorous statistical regression, but a plot of the data is mostly linear. While there is a big difference in the dollars owed per person from 2nd to 85th on the list, each office is only incrementally more delinquent than the group below it. The exception at the top of the list is the Presidio Trust with a whopping $68,000 per tax debtor.
The other notable exceptions were at the bottom of the list where six agencies have 35 tax debtors with a cumulative tax debt that is less than the average delinquent from the Presidio Trust.
I would like to have population data for each category as well as some hard numbers of total taxpayers for comparison purposes. I think it is pretty easy to see where the Presidio Trust is a hotbed of tax delinquency, but it would be good to know what percentage of Presidio Trust employees are tax debtors. It would also be good to compare that percentage with the percentage of the general population.
There is no such thing as too much data.
Gov. Chris Christie does it....again!
Sadly embedding is not allowed.
As you may have heard, one of Mr. Obama's economic advisers has quite. As a part of her farewell speech, Christina Romer offered the following:
“To this day, economists don’t understand why firms cut production as much as they did, or why they cut labor so much more than they normally would,” said Romer. “The current recession has been fundamentally different from other post-war recessions… Rather than being caused by deliberate monetary actions, it began with interest rates at low levels… Precisely what has made it so terrifying, and so difficult to cure, is that we have been in largely uncharted territory.”Perhaps I may be of assistance to Ms. Romer. The administration and the Congress have demonstrated that they are hostile to businesses large and small. That have immeasurably increased the cost of hiring employees with their health care law. They continue to threaten to increase taxes on taxpayers. And they meddle in financial regulations as if they were Captain Picard from Star Trek:TNG and saying "make it so" actually made it so.
Were they not so incompetent at governing, business owners might have the confidence needed to hire new workers and expand the economy. We are not in uncharted territory. We are in old and familiar territory. It has been trod by decades of europeans. We walked it in the 1970s and in the 1930s.
And the solution remains effective, if lacking in the "nuance" that leftists desire. It is the free market.
Get government spending under control. We are not under taxed, they are spending too much.
Pass regulations that solve problems instead of regulations designed to stifle markets. It is not only acceptable for people to earn large sums of money, it is desirable.
And stop trying to make us look like Europe. Our forebears left Europe...and other places....for a reason.
The more we dig, the less substance we find. In this case we have partisan speculation that is part of a fund raising campaign that gets sucked into a formal international report as "peer reviewed" evidence. That formal report is then presented as the ultimate proof of an urgent crisis; documented, peer reviewed, above reproach "proof".
When called on the error, the people that published the report acknowledge that they have no data but continue to suggest that the chances of the phenomenon occurring are "very high".
And people wonder why folks like me are skeptical regarding the theory of anthropogenic global warming.
This is not the first time that a closer look at "the science" has indicated a lack of rigorous "science".
The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."
However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the moment is two to three feet a year and most are far lower.
We had someone criticizing Tim Wahlberg for his support of privatizing Social Security. I'm not wild about sending Tim back to Washington. He was ousted by our current representative Mark Schauer. Replacing a pack following Democrat with a pack following Republican doesn't sound like much of an improvement to me.
The following is my response to that letter to the editor. I'll link to that original letter once it is posted online.
Link to the original letter added above. I have no idea why it takes the CitPat so long to post letters that are in the same day's paper.
A word of advice to George Brown and others that believe that privatizing Social Security "threatens those benefits". You have been fooled by generations of politicians that promised you wealth later if you would trust them to transfer your wealth to retirees now.
That Ponzi scheme has finally reached the end. Social Security began life with over 30 workers providing benefits to one retiree. Generations of lying politicians have finally whittled us down to the point where we have less than 3 workers per retiree.
The money you "paid in" was spent. It is gone. Most of the money was spent funding someone else's retirement dreams. The rest of the money was spent; on the military, on welfare, on pork barrel projects, on the pockets of the well connected. Instead of being saved and invested, those surplus FICA taxes were wasted funding our behemoth federal government.
What did you get for your money? A promise to continue to strip wealth from our children and our grandchildren so that you could retire in style.
Like any other Ponzi scheme, Socialist inSecurity is about to coming crashing down because we can't find another generation that is willing to be suckered into the bottom of the pyramid.
The only hope we have left is to stop stealing from the young to pay for the old. We must restore our common American values of industry, thrift, and fair play. That means raising the wage cap on FICA taxes, means testing benefits, and allowing our children to put a portion of their FICA taxes in a private savings account.
Our money is safe only when it is locked safely away from the greedy, incompetent, and lying reprobates that we send to Washington D.C.
You are welcome.
A man and a woman who allegedly had an adulterous affair have been stoned and killed in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz.
This month the Taliban also reportedly flogged and killed a pregnant widow in western Baghdis province.
“We were also asked to throw stones, the woman was dead but the man was still alive. Some Taliban shot him three times ”
Mohammad Ayub, the governor of Imam Sahib district in Kunduz, told the BBC on Monday: "The Taliban brought them to the local bazaar.
"They stoned them because they were accused of adultery. There was a big crowd of people who watched.''
Two witnesses from Mullah Quli told the BBC that the Taliban asked the villagers to attend the stoning through an announcement on loudspeakers in the mosque.
"There was a big crowd of people," one witness said. "The Taliban made the women wear black clothes and the men were made to stand. The Taliban started throwing stones.
"We were also asked to throw stones. After a while, the Taliban left. The woman was dead but the man was still alive.
I had suggested earlier that the Islamic center proposed by Cordoba House for a location unreasonably, IMHO, near the World Trade Center site would be misinterpreted by more radical Islamists as a sort of victory. Over the weekend, the terrorist group Hamas confirmed that my concern was valid.
A leader of the Hamas terror group yesterday jumped into the emotional debate on the plan to construct a mosque near Ground Zero -- insisting Muslims "have to build" it there.
"We have to build everywhere," said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and the organization's chief on the Gaza Strip.
"In every area we have, [as] Muslim[s], we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer," he said on "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio" on WABC.
Then I learned that the face of Cordoba House, Feisal Abdul Rauf, had refused to describe Hamas as a terrorist group.
Hamas first came up in the mosque debate earlier this summer when Abdul Rauf refused to describe the group as a terrorist organization -- despite the State Department listing that identifies it as such.
Tom Brown, a chief opponent of the mosque, said: "This is what we've been saying . . . Imam Rauf is a radical Muslim who will not call Hamas a terror group."
Unlike Mr. Brown, I am not certain that Mr. Rauf is an extremist. I believe he is a moderate in the mode of other Muslim moderates. He either lacks the spine to actively oppose the terrorism that is being conducted in the name of his religion, or he finds those actions to be perhaps regrettable, but legitimate.
We frequently hear that Islamic Jihadism represents a small fraction of the Muslim world. We hear that there are many, many more moderate Muslims that do not support Jihadism.
Yet what we see is that larger group of supposedly moderate Muslims that continue to sit on the sidelines and pretend that their religion is not involved in diabolical acts. Even Fareed Zakaria's recent show illustrated the reluctance of supposed Muslim moderates to voice their opposition to extremism.
Such reluctance suggests to me that one of two things are true. One is that extremism is a much larger force in Islam than most people are willing to admit. Extremism that is capable of cowing so many moderates is not an insubstantial movement.
The other, less palatable suggestion is that these supposed moderates more or less approve of terrorist activities as a legitimate course of action.
In any case, if there is a shortage of mosques in New York, then they should build one.....elsewhere. The current project is too close to the World Trade Center site to permit a mosque to be built there now.
Perhaps later, after Islam has experienced their version of the Reformation, it would be appropriate to build a mosque at the currently proposed site. Perhaps when a nation's "Islamicity" is no longer a concern. Perhaps when other religions are tolerated in Muslim societies.
Every once in a while you need to listen to the arguments on the other side. Or perhaps just other opinions.
Mr. Obama struck an appropriate note when he argued that Muslims have the Constitutionally guaranteed right to build places of worship in accordance with the usual local zoning regulations. He also noted that he wasn't commenting on the wisdom of that particular project being built at that particular place and at this particular time.
Was it smart to select that location at this time for a new mosque? Hell no.
Is it their absolute right....subject to the usual local zoning laws....absolutely. You don't spend a serious chunk of your life defending the idea of religious freedom just to toss it aside willy-nilly.
Roger Simon has a piece that I read as sarcastic criticism of those that want Mr. Obama to follow the polls rather than leading the discussion. I didn't think much of Mr. Clinton because he was such a poll follower. I did think quite a bit of Mr. GW Bush because he wasn't. I appreciate Mr. Obama's character because he does try to lead; even though his ideas as to what constitutes "good governance" appear to be predominantly useless garbage, socialistic claptrap, and statist.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has some similar thoughts to share.
Then I thought to myself....self, where are the other mosques/Muslim centers in New York City? And where exactly is this current project going to be located?
Ahem...to the first issue and *cough*....to the second.
I would certainly not ask for those existing facilities to be torn down and a few are located a similar distance from the WTC site. Therefore it is hard to see why a new mosque shouldn't be permitted in that area.
I also ran across this background piece on Salon.com that was very informative. And thus it appears that the folks at Cordoba House never linked their project with 9/11 or the WTC site. Their critics did.
Anyone who has never been snookered is free to cast the first stone. You folks that still believe in Social Security need to sit down first.
Howard Kurtz repeats and amplifies on the Salon.com story. He includes this from Mr. Rauf
'We want to push back against the extremists,' added Imam Feisal, 61.
Permit me to suggest that Mr. Rauf could "push back" more effectively if he could clearly identify and rebuke Hamas as a terrorist organization. He might also be more effective if he declined to participate in projects designed to accurate measure the "Islamicity" of a government. As with other faiths, anything more than a very low measurement is an indication of a problem to be solved.
So where does that leave us.
Does Cordoba House have a right to build a mosque at the proposed location?
Absolutely. Without qualifiers.
In light of the statements from Cordoba House and the projects financiers indicating that a certain respect for certain sensibilities is required if one wants to build dialog, was this a good location for their project?
Certainly not. Had they had any respect for the sensibilities of New Yorkers and Americans in general, they would have looked for a different site. Such respect is apparently unidirectional.
What would I like to see happen?
One of two options. Either they can find a more suitable location for their project, or they can stop being so "moderate" in their opposition to terrorism and governments based on sharia law. Being a little less tolerant of the intolerance common among Islamic jihadists would a step in the right direction. They should fully embrace the difficulties that all religious people have in living in a pluralistic and multi-cultural country.
And work towards a truly pluralistic and multi-cultural world.
And what if I don't get my way? What if they continue to be tolerant of intolerance and still want to build the mosque in that spot?
So be it. Freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones of our country.
As is freedom of speech. And my right to grouse and complain about their project is equally important with their right to build a mosque and worship as they please.
The right to worship as one pleases does not mean that your religion may never be criticized. Welcome to the free world, folks.