Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 28, 2009

re: Maybe Just ANSW?

Abe, ANSWER is a shell organization that acts to promote its own socialist agenda. Immediately after September 11, 2001, ANSWER was the first organization to hold an anti-war rally. It saw an opening, a way to capitalize on the defensive measures that would surely follow. Here’s the organization’s national coordinator Brian Becker in a 2007 interview:

“It is about radicalizing people,” Mr. Becker said in an interview. “You hook into a movement that exists — in this case the antiwar movement — and channel people who care about that movement and bring them into political life, the life of political activism.”

With Obama indicating his own commitment to America’s success in Afghanistan, the radical socialist movement will have to find new tactics.

Abe, ANSWER is a shell organization that acts to promote its own socialist agenda. Immediately after September 11, 2001, ANSWER was the first organization to hold an anti-war rally. It saw an opening, a way to capitalize on the defensive measures that would surely follow. Here’s the organization’s national coordinator Brian Becker in a 2007 interview:

“It is about radicalizing people,” Mr. Becker said in an interview. “You hook into a movement that exists — in this case the antiwar movement — and channel people who care about that movement and bring them into political life, the life of political activism.”

With Obama indicating his own commitment to America’s success in Afghanistan, the radical socialist movement will have to find new tactics.

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Good Thing He Didn’t Draw the Crescent Moon

The UN resolution on religious “defamation” has been rightly criticized as an abominable attack on free speech and a pathetic attempt to shut down discussion of the role of fanatical Islam in terrorism (the only religion specifically mentioned as deserving of protection in the resolution.) But the language of the text is intriguing in one respect: why wouldn’t Pat Oliphant’s Israel=Nazi Germany cartoon fall within some of it prohibitions?

Resolution 7/19 does after all express “deep concern at the negative stereotyping of all religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief” and more concern about “recent serious instances of deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons in the media and by political parties and groups in some societies, and at the associated provocation and political exploitation.” We are told to be on the lookout for “the dissemination, including through political institutions and organizations, of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence.” And then we can’t be too careful about “emphasiz[ing] that respect of religions and their protection from contempt is an essential element conducive for the exercise by all of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

Certainly depicting the Star of David in the service of a headless Nazi-like figure with teeth enveloping trembling Gaza would qualify under one or more of these, right?

I raise this of course not to defend the UN resolution or to recommend it be taken seriously, but only to point out that the language the “world community” invokes to shield radical Islam from scrutiny is never meant — not in their wildest dreams — to condemn, let alone question, vilification of other religions. They aren’t concerned in the least with hateful depictions of  other religion’s symbols. And certainly not Judaism. Other than Islam, everything else is fair game for the likes of Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa,  and Sri Lanka. Yeah, Cuba preaching about religious defamation. That’s rich.

The UN resolution on religious “defamation” has been rightly criticized as an abominable attack on free speech and a pathetic attempt to shut down discussion of the role of fanatical Islam in terrorism (the only religion specifically mentioned as deserving of protection in the resolution.) But the language of the text is intriguing in one respect: why wouldn’t Pat Oliphant’s Israel=Nazi Germany cartoon fall within some of it prohibitions?

Resolution 7/19 does after all express “deep concern at the negative stereotyping of all religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief” and more concern about “recent serious instances of deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons in the media and by political parties and groups in some societies, and at the associated provocation and political exploitation.” We are told to be on the lookout for “the dissemination, including through political institutions and organizations, of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence.” And then we can’t be too careful about “emphasiz[ing] that respect of religions and their protection from contempt is an essential element conducive for the exercise by all of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

Certainly depicting the Star of David in the service of a headless Nazi-like figure with teeth enveloping trembling Gaza would qualify under one or more of these, right?

I raise this of course not to defend the UN resolution or to recommend it be taken seriously, but only to point out that the language the “world community” invokes to shield radical Islam from scrutiny is never meant — not in their wildest dreams — to condemn, let alone question, vilification of other religions. They aren’t concerned in the least with hateful depictions of  other religion’s symbols. And certainly not Judaism. Other than Islam, everything else is fair game for the likes of Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa,  and Sri Lanka. Yeah, Cuba preaching about religious defamation. That’s rich.

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Maybe Just ANSW?

Will DiNovi reports on the first anti-war protest of the Obama era:

“It doesn’t look like Obama is changing anything,” said Kyle Quigley, an Iraq War veteran who had traveled from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to attend the rally. The president’s decision to delay withdrawal from Iraq by three months is a sign, Quigley argued, of Obama’s “backsliding” on his campaign promise to end the war. Quigley’s frustration with the president was shared by many of the anti-war activists at the rally, which was sponsored by the group Act Now To Stop War and End Racism [(ANSWER)].

We know how the Left tends to lump together all their pet passions, but considering the ethnicity of the commander-in-chief, ANSWER might have a hard time justifying the second half of its mission.

Will DiNovi reports on the first anti-war protest of the Obama era:

“It doesn’t look like Obama is changing anything,” said Kyle Quigley, an Iraq War veteran who had traveled from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to attend the rally. The president’s decision to delay withdrawal from Iraq by three months is a sign, Quigley argued, of Obama’s “backsliding” on his campaign promise to end the war. Quigley’s frustration with the president was shared by many of the anti-war activists at the rally, which was sponsored by the group Act Now To Stop War and End Racism [(ANSWER)].

We know how the Left tends to lump together all their pet passions, but considering the ethnicity of the commander-in-chief, ANSWER might have a hard time justifying the second half of its mission.

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COMMENTARY on C-SPAN

Tonight at 8 pm on C-SPAN, you can watch a Commentary-sponsored discussion on the future of conservatism and conservative magazines featuring Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg, and me. If you’re TiVo-ing, it runs approximately 90 minutes.

Tonight at 8 pm on C-SPAN, you can watch a Commentary-sponsored discussion on the future of conservatism and conservative magazines featuring Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg, and me. If you’re TiVo-ing, it runs approximately 90 minutes.

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Sometimes You Just Have To Say “No”

David Broder, (echoing Democrats like Alice Rivlin and virtually every elected Republican) declares the Democratic budget to be a menace:

With a bit of bookkeeping legerdemain borrowed from the Bush administration, the Democratic Congress is about to perform a cover-up on the most serious threat to America’s economic future.

That threat is not the severe recession, tough as that is for the families and businesses struggling to make ends meet. In time, the recession will end, and last week’s stock market performance hinted that we may not have to wait years for the recovery to begin.

The real threat is the monstrous debt resulting from the slump in revenue and the staggering sums being committed by Washington to rescuing embattled banks and homeowners — and the absence of any serious strategy for paying it all back.

Yes, there is some fiddling here and there with the top-line numbers by the Senate Democrats, but Broder rightly points out that much of this is budget gimmickry. His final tongue lashing is reserved for Nancy Pelosi, who is resisting the call for a bipartisan commission on entitlement reform:

The roadblock in chief is Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House. She has made it clear that her main goal is to protect Social Security and Medicare from any significant reforms. Pelosi has not forgotten how Democrats benefited from the 2005-06 fight against Bush’s effort to change Social Security. Her party, which had lost elections in 2000, 2002 and 2004, found its voice and its rallying cry to “Save Social Security,” and Pelosi is not about to allow any bipartisan commission take that issue away from her control.

The price for her obduracy is being paid in the rigging of the budget process. The larger price will be paid by your children and grandchildren, who will inherit a future-blighting mountain of debt.

Now much is being made of the Republicans’ disarray on coming up with a budget alternative. They will have their full budget next week. But shouldn’t the “party of no” get some credit from the David Broders and other mainstream observers for trying, as best they are able, to — yes, indeed — just say “no” to this fiscal madness? Alternatives are nice, but the essential task would be to alert the country and raise the consciousness of Democrats to the implications, both short and long term, of the budget.

The central question which the budget critics and many pundits are raising is whether we should take the leap into the abyss of “unsustainable debt” (as Peter Orzag conceded would be the case if the CBO figures are correct). If the answer is “no” then there is something to be said for the politicians — mostly Republicans but some conservative Democrats as well — who are trying to hold back the flood of red ink.

David Broder, (echoing Democrats like Alice Rivlin and virtually every elected Republican) declares the Democratic budget to be a menace:

With a bit of bookkeeping legerdemain borrowed from the Bush administration, the Democratic Congress is about to perform a cover-up on the most serious threat to America’s economic future.

That threat is not the severe recession, tough as that is for the families and businesses struggling to make ends meet. In time, the recession will end, and last week’s stock market performance hinted that we may not have to wait years for the recovery to begin.

The real threat is the monstrous debt resulting from the slump in revenue and the staggering sums being committed by Washington to rescuing embattled banks and homeowners — and the absence of any serious strategy for paying it all back.

Yes, there is some fiddling here and there with the top-line numbers by the Senate Democrats, but Broder rightly points out that much of this is budget gimmickry. His final tongue lashing is reserved for Nancy Pelosi, who is resisting the call for a bipartisan commission on entitlement reform:

The roadblock in chief is Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House. She has made it clear that her main goal is to protect Social Security and Medicare from any significant reforms. Pelosi has not forgotten how Democrats benefited from the 2005-06 fight against Bush’s effort to change Social Security. Her party, which had lost elections in 2000, 2002 and 2004, found its voice and its rallying cry to “Save Social Security,” and Pelosi is not about to allow any bipartisan commission take that issue away from her control.

The price for her obduracy is being paid in the rigging of the budget process. The larger price will be paid by your children and grandchildren, who will inherit a future-blighting mountain of debt.

Now much is being made of the Republicans’ disarray on coming up with a budget alternative. They will have their full budget next week. But shouldn’t the “party of no” get some credit from the David Broders and other mainstream observers for trying, as best they are able, to — yes, indeed — just say “no” to this fiscal madness? Alternatives are nice, but the essential task would be to alert the country and raise the consciousness of Democrats to the implications, both short and long term, of the budget.

The central question which the budget critics and many pundits are raising is whether we should take the leap into the abyss of “unsustainable debt” (as Peter Orzag conceded would be the case if the CBO figures are correct). If the answer is “no” then there is something to be said for the politicians — mostly Republicans but some conservative Democrats as well — who are trying to hold back the flood of red ink.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Stephen Hayes looks at whether Chris Hill engaged in rogue diplomacy with North Korea and then lied about it. Perhaps Condi Rice’s testimony could clear that up.

James Taranto organizes a protest: all you have to do is not sit in the dark. (True story: reminds me of a “support for Gay Rights” day organized at UC Berkeley in 1979, or maybe it was 1980. All you had to do was wear jeans to class. Righhht.)

Not exactly one big happy family: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that liberal groups targeting moderate Democrats with ads should back off, saying pressure from the left wing of his party won’t be helpful to enacting legislation.”

Meanwhile, Reid’s spokesman tries to bully his way through questioning on public-financed abortion in the proposed healthcare reform.

On the peek at JournoList, Politico’s Michael Calderone writes: “As members told POLITICO, there are frequent disagreements on the list, and this TNR spat is a representative example of the sort of chattering-class debates that play out on a regular basis.” Ah, so it’s always conducted at this high level of sophistication and civility! (Actually a couple of Politico writers are on the list themselves, so query why they didn’t publish some of it themselves — unless it’s, well, embarrassing.)

Huffington Post reports on the latest, very tough 9-11 ad in the NY-20 aimed at Democrat Scott Murphy’s objection to the death penalty for 9-11 terrorists. Even Huffington Post concedes Murphy gave a “somewhat mealy-mouthed response to the death penalty prompt.” It wasn’t mealy-mouthed actually. The guy clearly articulated his position that terrorists shouldn’t face the dealth penalty. Whether it matters in a race focused on the economy is an open question.

Stu Rothenberg’s take on the race and the two candidate is here. One take away: ultimately good candidates beat less adept ones. (Another one: the Democrat may be fortunate to be running while unemployment is still below 8% in the state.)

Interesting polling: “Only 11% of Americans think a financial institution will run better if it’s run by the federal government, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-seven percent (67%) say the institution will not run better, and 22% aren’t sure. . . Interestingly, seven-out-of 10 government workers (70%) do not believe a financial institution will run better under government control, nearly identical to the views of entrepreneurs and those who work in the private sector.”

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls Tim Geithner’s toxic asset clean-up plan “very badly flawed.” Why? “U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s plan to wipe up to US $1 trillion in bad debt off banks’ balance sheets, unveiled on Monday, offered ‘perverse incentives’, Stiglitz said. The U.S. government is basically using the taxpayer to guarantee against downside risk on the value of these assets, while giving the upside, or potential profits, to private investors, he said. ‘Quite frankly, this amounts to robbery of the American people. I don’t think it’s going to work because I think there’ll be a lot of anger about putting the losses so much on the shoulder of the American taxpayer.'”

If SEIU didn’t exist, Big Labor critics would have to invent it.

The Washington Post editors have it precisely right: “The strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan announced by President Obama yesterday is conservative as well as bold. It is conservative because Mr. Obama chose to embrace many of the recommendations of U.S. military commanders and the Bush administration, based on the hard lessons of seven years of war. Yet it is bold — and politically brave — because, at a time of economic crisis and war-weariness at home, Mr. Obama is ordering not just a major increase in U.S. troops, but also an ambitious effort at nation-building in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The test will come when the expense and the casualties  raise the ire of the president’s base.

But, yes, there is reason to worry: “Our main question — and, we suspect, the world’s — is whether the new Commander in Chief is really prepared to devote the resources and political capital that his plan will need to succeed. . . All the more so because Mr. Obama himself has spent so much time questioning America’s antiterrorist mission abroad. While he tried, during the campaign, to distinguish Iraq (Bush’s war) from Afghanistan (the good war), the truth is that they are both exercises in counterinsurgency and nation building. The irony is that both tasks are arguably easier in Iraq, because of its denser population and history of a stronger central government.”

Stephen Hayes looks at whether Chris Hill engaged in rogue diplomacy with North Korea and then lied about it. Perhaps Condi Rice’s testimony could clear that up.

James Taranto organizes a protest: all you have to do is not sit in the dark. (True story: reminds me of a “support for Gay Rights” day organized at UC Berkeley in 1979, or maybe it was 1980. All you had to do was wear jeans to class. Righhht.)

Not exactly one big happy family: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that liberal groups targeting moderate Democrats with ads should back off, saying pressure from the left wing of his party won’t be helpful to enacting legislation.”

Meanwhile, Reid’s spokesman tries to bully his way through questioning on public-financed abortion in the proposed healthcare reform.

On the peek at JournoList, Politico’s Michael Calderone writes: “As members told POLITICO, there are frequent disagreements on the list, and this TNR spat is a representative example of the sort of chattering-class debates that play out on a regular basis.” Ah, so it’s always conducted at this high level of sophistication and civility! (Actually a couple of Politico writers are on the list themselves, so query why they didn’t publish some of it themselves — unless it’s, well, embarrassing.)

Huffington Post reports on the latest, very tough 9-11 ad in the NY-20 aimed at Democrat Scott Murphy’s objection to the death penalty for 9-11 terrorists. Even Huffington Post concedes Murphy gave a “somewhat mealy-mouthed response to the death penalty prompt.” It wasn’t mealy-mouthed actually. The guy clearly articulated his position that terrorists shouldn’t face the dealth penalty. Whether it matters in a race focused on the economy is an open question.

Stu Rothenberg’s take on the race and the two candidate is here. One take away: ultimately good candidates beat less adept ones. (Another one: the Democrat may be fortunate to be running while unemployment is still below 8% in the state.)

Interesting polling: “Only 11% of Americans think a financial institution will run better if it’s run by the federal government, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-seven percent (67%) say the institution will not run better, and 22% aren’t sure. . . Interestingly, seven-out-of 10 government workers (70%) do not believe a financial institution will run better under government control, nearly identical to the views of entrepreneurs and those who work in the private sector.”

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls Tim Geithner’s toxic asset clean-up plan “very badly flawed.” Why? “U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s plan to wipe up to US $1 trillion in bad debt off banks’ balance sheets, unveiled on Monday, offered ‘perverse incentives’, Stiglitz said. The U.S. government is basically using the taxpayer to guarantee against downside risk on the value of these assets, while giving the upside, or potential profits, to private investors, he said. ‘Quite frankly, this amounts to robbery of the American people. I don’t think it’s going to work because I think there’ll be a lot of anger about putting the losses so much on the shoulder of the American taxpayer.'”

If SEIU didn’t exist, Big Labor critics would have to invent it.

The Washington Post editors have it precisely right: “The strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan announced by President Obama yesterday is conservative as well as bold. It is conservative because Mr. Obama chose to embrace many of the recommendations of U.S. military commanders and the Bush administration, based on the hard lessons of seven years of war. Yet it is bold — and politically brave — because, at a time of economic crisis and war-weariness at home, Mr. Obama is ordering not just a major increase in U.S. troops, but also an ambitious effort at nation-building in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The test will come when the expense and the casualties  raise the ire of the president’s base.

But, yes, there is reason to worry: “Our main question — and, we suspect, the world’s — is whether the new Commander in Chief is really prepared to devote the resources and political capital that his plan will need to succeed. . . All the more so because Mr. Obama himself has spent so much time questioning America’s antiterrorist mission abroad. While he tried, during the campaign, to distinguish Iraq (Bush’s war) from Afghanistan (the good war), the truth is that they are both exercises in counterinsurgency and nation building. The irony is that both tasks are arguably easier in Iraq, because of its denser population and history of a stronger central government.”

Read Less




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