Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 16, 2012

The Progressive Project (continued)

Earlier this week, in describing the ambitions of the Progressive Project, as embodied in Barack Obama, I wrote, “Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church.”

It’s with interest, then, that I note that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman for whom Obama has had nothing but praise and with whom he has worked very close, was asked this question by John McCormick of The Weekly Standard: “The Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., is a self-insured institution. Should the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., be required to pay for these morning-after pills and birth control if they find that morally objectionable?”

Read More

Earlier this week, in describing the ambitions of the Progressive Project, as embodied in Barack Obama, I wrote, “Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church.”

It’s with interest, then, that I note that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman for whom Obama has had nothing but praise and with whom he has worked very close, was asked this question by John McCormick of The Weekly Standard: “The Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., is a self-insured institution. Should the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., be required to pay for these morning-after pills and birth control if they find that morally objectionable?”

In response, Pelosi said, “Yes, I think that all institutions who cover, who give, health insurance should cover the full range of health insurance issues for women.”

This is liberalism/progressivism in its purest and most undiluted form. It does, in fact, want to weaken and eventually replace civil society and expand the reach of the state even into the internal life of the church. And it no longer even attempts to disguise its aims.

The American people can’t say we don’t know what the end game here is.

 

 

Read Less

Another Reminder of the Misery of the Obama Years

Here’s the opening paragraph of a new report, “Understanding and Responding to Persistently High Unemployment,” published by the Congressional Budget Office:

The rate of unemployment in the United States has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, making the past three years the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent until 2014. The official unemployment rate excludes those individuals who would like to work but have not searched for a job in the past four weeks as well as those who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work; if those people were counted among the unemployed, the unemployment rate in January 2012 would have been about 15 percent. Compounding the problem of high unemployment, the share of unemployed people looking for work for more than six months —referred to as the long-term unemployed —topped 40 percent in December 2009 for the first time since 1948, when such data began to be collected; it has remained above that level ever since.

Read More

Here’s the opening paragraph of a new report, “Understanding and Responding to Persistently High Unemployment,” published by the Congressional Budget Office:

The rate of unemployment in the United States has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, making the past three years the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent until 2014. The official unemployment rate excludes those individuals who would like to work but have not searched for a job in the past four weeks as well as those who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work; if those people were counted among the unemployed, the unemployment rate in January 2012 would have been about 15 percent. Compounding the problem of high unemployment, the share of unemployed people looking for work for more than six months —referred to as the long-term unemployed —topped 40 percent in December 2009 for the first time since 1948, when such data began to be collected; it has remained above that level ever since.

Combined with President Obama’s budget released earlier this week — with the continuation of his record-breaking deficits and debt — we’re reminded once again of just how bad the Obama era has been for America.

 

Read Less

Santorum Wants to Ban Gambling?

National Review’s Jim Geraghty wonders whether there might be a business-related reason behind casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s reported opposition to Rick Santorum. Take a look at what the former Pennsylvania senator had to say about gambling during a recent interview with Jon Ralston:

I’m someone who takes the opinion that gaming is not something that is beneficial, particularly having that access on the Internet. Just as we’ve seen from a lot of other things that are vices on the Internet, they end to grow exponentially as a result of that. It’s one thing to come to Las Vegas and do gaming and participate in the shows and that kind of thing as entertainment, it’s another thing to sit in your home and have access to that it. I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet.

Freedom’s not absolute. What rights in the Constitution are absolute? There is no right to absolute freedom. There are limitations. You might want to say the same thing about a whole variety of other things that are on the Internet — “let everybody have it, let everybody do it.” No. There are certain things that actually do cost people a lot of money, cost them their lives, cost them their fortunes that we shouldn’t have and make available, to make it that easy to do.

Read More

National Review’s Jim Geraghty wonders whether there might be a business-related reason behind casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s reported opposition to Rick Santorum. Take a look at what the former Pennsylvania senator had to say about gambling during a recent interview with Jon Ralston:

I’m someone who takes the opinion that gaming is not something that is beneficial, particularly having that access on the Internet. Just as we’ve seen from a lot of other things that are vices on the Internet, they end to grow exponentially as a result of that. It’s one thing to come to Las Vegas and do gaming and participate in the shows and that kind of thing as entertainment, it’s another thing to sit in your home and have access to that it. I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet.

Freedom’s not absolute. What rights in the Constitution are absolute? There is no right to absolute freedom. There are limitations. You might want to say the same thing about a whole variety of other things that are on the Internet — “let everybody have it, let everybody do it.” No. There are certain things that actually do cost people a lot of money, cost them their lives, cost them their fortunes that we shouldn’t have and make available, to make it that easy to do.

Santorum seems mainly to be talking about internet gambling, which I imagine Vegas casino moguls would prefer to see shut down anyway. But it’s easy to see how Santorum’s argument could easily lead to stricter casino regulations – and even all-out bans – if taken to its logical conclusion.

The question is, where’s the conservative outrage? If Santorum’s comments aren’t nanny state-ism in its purest form, then what is? If President Obama made the same remarks, the story would be getting the Drudge siren. Conservatives would be up in arms. Twitter would be flooded with speculations over what “vices” the president would try to clamp down on next.

If you’re a conservative and you give Santorum a pass on this, you forego any future right to complain about liberals taking away your Happy Meals and trans fats. There have to be consequences for these things.

Read Less

Is There Really a Consensus Against Iran Containment?

If President Obama means what he says about stopping Iran from going nuclear, he has bi-partisan support for that stand. That’s the upshot of a Senate resolution introduced today with 32 co-sponsors that rejects the notion a nuclear Iran can be contained. Proponents of the resolution such as Senator Joseph Lieberman say Iran has only two choices: disarm or face the consequences.

The introduction of the measure prompted some of its Republican sponsors to point out that their position is identical with that of President Obama’s statements on the issue. As South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham noted, “All I can say is, we’ve found something we’re united about.”

Read More

If President Obama means what he says about stopping Iran from going nuclear, he has bi-partisan support for that stand. That’s the upshot of a Senate resolution introduced today with 32 co-sponsors that rejects the notion a nuclear Iran can be contained. Proponents of the resolution such as Senator Joseph Lieberman say Iran has only two choices: disarm or face the consequences.

The introduction of the measure prompted some of its Republican sponsors to point out that their position is identical with that of President Obama’s statements on the issue. As South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham noted, “All I can say is, we’ve found something we’re united about.”

The question for the senators, as well as the nation, is whether the president is as serious about not considering a policy that would view “containment” of a nuclear Iran as a viable option. Though Obama has insisted he will not let Iran go nuclear, speculation continues that the administration’s reliance on sanctions to stop Tehran is, at best, overly optimistic. With Washington acting as if it is more worried about Israel acting on its own to eliminate an existential threat, the Senate resolution is a timely reminder to the president that he should not think he can get away with a policy that seeks to avoid confrontation until after the November election. With influential figures such as Obama sycophant Fareed Zakaria advocating containment in the Washington Post yesterday, Graham’s assumption is that both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are in agreement on Iran.

Zakaria, who has been a White House favorite in the last three years, has been a consistent opponent of confronting Iran. His latest piece attempted once again to make the case a nuclear Iran could be contained as easily as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. He claims the “lessons of history” show the attempt to stop Iran is a rerun of the rush to war in Europe in 1914. According to Zakaria, Israel’s concerns about a nuclear Iran are similar to those of the fools who launched the slaughter of World War One. That’s an unfair and distorted slap at a Jewish state that faces the possibility a tyrannical regime led by Islamist fanatics already pledged to their destruction might get hold of a genocidal weapon. Just as absurd are his comparisons between a nuclear Soviet Union and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran.

The administration’s Iran strategy is dependent on cooperation from nations such as China that show little sign of being serious about helping. That means sooner or later, the president may be faced with actually having to resort to force if he wants to keep his promises. The worry here is that Zakaria’s sophistry about a potential catastrophe is a better reflection of Barack Obama’s thinking than his public statements. If push comes to shove, Israel as well as the Senate will have to hope Obama’s actual beliefs on the subject are closer to those of Lieberman and Graham than Zakaria.

Read Less

The Media’s Subtle Liberal Bias

Often, the bias of the media is evidenced not in the in-your-face liberalism of MSNBC, but in somewhat more subtle ways. Take as an example Politico’s coverage of a congressional hearing earlier today. (See also Jonathan Neumann’s post.) The headline of the story is, “Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Holmes Norton walk out of contraception hearing.” And the story begins this way: “Two female Democrats walked out of a House Oversight Committee hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule Thursday morning, accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of manipulating committee rules to block female witnesses from testifying.”

For one thing, the rule in question isn’t simply about contraception; it also covers sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. But more important is this: This issue is significant not because it involves, in part, the matter of contraception (which I happen to support), but the more fundamental issue of religious liberty. It has to do with the federal government being the aggressor in the so-called culture wars and inserting itself into the internal life of the church and religious institutions. That’s why Protestants who aren’t troubled by contraception have expressed solidarity with Catholics who do.

Read More

Often, the bias of the media is evidenced not in the in-your-face liberalism of MSNBC, but in somewhat more subtle ways. Take as an example Politico’s coverage of a congressional hearing earlier today. (See also Jonathan Neumann’s post.) The headline of the story is, “Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Holmes Norton walk out of contraception hearing.” And the story begins this way: “Two female Democrats walked out of a House Oversight Committee hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule Thursday morning, accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of manipulating committee rules to block female witnesses from testifying.”

For one thing, the rule in question isn’t simply about contraception; it also covers sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. But more important is this: This issue is significant not because it involves, in part, the matter of contraception (which I happen to support), but the more fundamental issue of religious liberty. It has to do with the federal government being the aggressor in the so-called culture wars and inserting itself into the internal life of the church and religious institutions. That’s why Protestants who aren’t troubled by contraception have expressed solidarity with Catholics who do.

The Obama administration has an overwhelming political interest in framing this issue as one having to do with contraception rather than religious liberties. And not surprisingly, most of the press is in lockstep with Obama. We’re seeing dueling narratives play out, and most of the press corps has an obvious stake in promoting one at the expense of the other.

 

Read Less

Romney, Santorum Back Out of Debate?

Mitt Romney was the first to announce earlier this afternoon he’ll skip the March 1 CNN Georgia debate:

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul emails over to confirm, “Gov. Romney will be spending a lot of time campaigning in Georgia and Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday. With eight other states voting on March 6, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate. We have participated in 20 debates, including 8 from CNN.”

Read More

Mitt Romney was the first to announce earlier this afternoon he’ll skip the March 1 CNN Georgia debate:

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul emails over to confirm, “Gov. Romney will be spending a lot of time campaigning in Georgia and Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday. With eight other states voting on March 6, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate. We have participated in 20 debates, including 8 from CNN.”

CBS NJ’s Sarah Boxer, who broke the story on Mitt backing out, now reports that Rick Santorum “has no plans of doing [the debate] right now,” according to his spokesperson.

It doesn’t make sense for Santorum to do the debate if Romney isn’t participating, as it would likely turn into a slap-fest between him and Newt Gingrich, which Santorum doesn’t need right now. Also, if CNN had decided to cancel the event after Romney dropped out, it would have undercut Santorum’s attempts to position himself as the Republican frontrunner.

The biggest loser from all this? Clearly Gingrich. The debates are where he shines, and the less debates between now and Super Tuesday, the less of a chance he has of regaining the ground he lost after South Carolina.

Romney previously criticized the number of debates the candidates have had to participate in, and hinted he might start sitting some out. This move shows the candidates now have more sway than the networks when it comes to deciding when and where they debate each other.

Read Less

Another Defeat for the al-Dura Blood Libel

It’s been more than 11 years since Muhammad al-Dura died during one of the initial skirmishes of the second intifada, but the iconic image of an Arab boy supposedly shot by heartless Israeli soldiers as his father looked on in horror is still a powerful image of Palestinian suffering. But as the years go by, attempts to unravel the truth about what actually happened to al-Dura have continued to chip away at the myth of Israeli culpability in the incident. In the latest chapter of the battle over this story that has just been played out in France’s Supreme Court, the Palestinian narrative has suffered another defeat. The court vindicated a doctor who was sued by al-Dura’s father for saying the wounds he claimed to have suffered on the day of his son’s death were not the result of Israeli fire.

This was just the latest setback for those who have attempted to keep alive the belief al-Dura’s death was Israel’s responsibility. Even more, the finding that shows the father lied about the incident gives even more credence to allegations that make it clear the boy was likely killed by Palestinian fire. Though one may argue the question of who killed the boy is moot, the debunking of the al-Dura myth has become a symbol of the many false allegations made against Israel and largely believed by a credulous international media.

Read More

It’s been more than 11 years since Muhammad al-Dura died during one of the initial skirmishes of the second intifada, but the iconic image of an Arab boy supposedly shot by heartless Israeli soldiers as his father looked on in horror is still a powerful image of Palestinian suffering. But as the years go by, attempts to unravel the truth about what actually happened to al-Dura have continued to chip away at the myth of Israeli culpability in the incident. In the latest chapter of the battle over this story that has just been played out in France’s Supreme Court, the Palestinian narrative has suffered another defeat. The court vindicated a doctor who was sued by al-Dura’s father for saying the wounds he claimed to have suffered on the day of his son’s death were not the result of Israeli fire.

This was just the latest setback for those who have attempted to keep alive the belief al-Dura’s death was Israel’s responsibility. Even more, the finding that shows the father lied about the incident gives even more credence to allegations that make it clear the boy was likely killed by Palestinian fire. Though one may argue the question of who killed the boy is moot, the debunking of the al-Dura myth has become a symbol of the many false allegations made against Israel and largely believed by a credulous international media.

This case stemmed from Jamal al-Dura’s claims he had been wounded during the firefight between Palestinian Authority gunmen and Israeli soldiers in an incident at the Netzarim Junction near the border between Israel and Gaza on September 30, 2000. An Israeli doctor, Dr. Yehuda David, took issue with the elder al-Dura’s claims his scars were the result of wounds inflicted in the shooting, arguing instead they were clearly the result of tendon surgery he had performed on the father years earlier. Al-Dura sued Dr. David and won a judgment in a French court, but France’s Supreme Court has now overturned the decision and validated the Israeli’s argument.

The shooting took place on the second day of the intifada and resulted in casualties on both sides, but it was 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura’s death that made headlines when edited footage taken by a French TV cameraman appeared to capture his being shot as his grief-stricken father called for help. Initially, Israel admitted responsibility, but it soon became clear there was much about the al-Dura story that didn’t make sense. Moreover, it also eventually came out that the French footage had been heavily edited, undermining the credibility of French TV journalist Charles Enderlin, a fierce critic of Israel, who promoted the story of the child’s suffering at the hands of the Israelis.

During the last decade, there have been several exposes of the al-Dura story, all of which point to the fact that the Palestinians lied about the boy’s death. Though some claim the death was a total fake, a minimalist interpretation of the evidence concludes that his own side, not the Israelis, were responsible for his death. French journalist Phillipe Karsenty, who has done much to debunk the al-Dura myth, was also vindicated by the French courts after he was also sued for libel for telling the truth about the distorted coverage of the incident and the lies told by Palestinian spokesmen.

Al-Dura may have been just one among the thousands of casualties that resulted from the Palestinian decision to choose war instead of peace in the months after Israel offered Yasir Arafat an independent state at Camp David in July 2000. But his death is important because his picture served to validate a new generation of anti-Semites who could now claim Israelis were the new Nazis. By making al-Dura the moral equivalent of the equally iconic photo of the Jewish child with his hands up while being captured by Nazis at the Warsaw Ghetto, contemporary Jew-haters could now say Europe’s debt to the Jews was cancelled.

The death or shooting of any child is a tragedy, but Muhammad al-Dura’s fate became the centerpiece of a new blood libel against the Jews that has helped fuel a new wave of anti-Semitism around the world. It may be that no matter how many times the truth is told about this incident, it will never completely erase the false impression made by the photo and the mendacious reporting by French TV at the time. Nevertheless, Dr. David is to be commended for his part in chipping away at this dangerous lie.

Read Less

More Examples of Liberal Civility

During the weekend, in a speech in San Diego, Representative Maxine Waters said the following about Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

I saw pictures of Boehner and Cantor on our screens. Don’t ever let me see again, in life, those Republicans in our hall, on our screens, talking about anything. These are demons. These are legislators who are destroying this country rather than bringing us together, creating jobs, making sure we have a good tax policy, bringing our jobs from back offshore, incentivizing those who keep their jobs here. They are bringing down this country, destroying this country, because they can.

Read More

During the weekend, in a speech in San Diego, Representative Maxine Waters said the following about Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

I saw pictures of Boehner and Cantor on our screens. Don’t ever let me see again, in life, those Republicans in our hall, on our screens, talking about anything. These are demons. These are legislators who are destroying this country rather than bringing us together, creating jobs, making sure we have a good tax policy, bringing our jobs from back offshore, incentivizing those who keep their jobs here. They are bringing down this country, destroying this country, because they can.

Often we speak about “demonizing” political opponents. In the case of Waters, she has literally attempted to demonize Boehner and Cantor.

On the plus side, it’s yet another insight into the insane rage that consumes many on the left. And the one person we can count on not to chastise Waters is the one person whose criticism would make a difference: Barack Obama. The man who routinely lectures the nation on civility when it comes to the right never says a word when the offenses are committed by the left. Which indicates (as if it were even a question at this point), that what’s motivating Obama is not a genuine commitment to civil public discourse. It’s narrow partisan interests.

This is what “hope and change” look like in practice.

 

Read Less

Adelson’s New Goal: Take Down Santorum

Considering the attacks Sheldon Adelson funded against Mitt Romney – a candidate he reportedly likes – just imagine how he treats candidates he disagrees with:

In a bit of political chess, Mr. Adelson is ready to not only directly support the former House speaker in the Republican primary, but to use his cash to push Rick Santorum from his position atop the latest national polls, according to people who have discussed the matter with Mr. Adelson.

If Mr. Gingrich could afford to continue campaigning, one of those people said, he might be able to draw off conservative and evangelical voters from Mr. Santorum, improving the chances of Mitt Romney, who Mr. Adelson believes has a better chance to win November’s general election. …

Mr. Adelson doesn’t oppose Mr. Santorum, but he doesn’t share the former Pennsylvania senator’s socially conservative positions, including his strong anti-abortion views, associates said. Mr. Santorum was one of only two Republicans who didn’t meet with Mr. Adelson in October around the time of a candidates’ debate in Las Vegas, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Read More

Considering the attacks Sheldon Adelson funded against Mitt Romney – a candidate he reportedly likes – just imagine how he treats candidates he disagrees with:

In a bit of political chess, Mr. Adelson is ready to not only directly support the former House speaker in the Republican primary, but to use his cash to push Rick Santorum from his position atop the latest national polls, according to people who have discussed the matter with Mr. Adelson.

If Mr. Gingrich could afford to continue campaigning, one of those people said, he might be able to draw off conservative and evangelical voters from Mr. Santorum, improving the chances of Mitt Romney, who Mr. Adelson believes has a better chance to win November’s general election. …

Mr. Adelson doesn’t oppose Mr. Santorum, but he doesn’t share the former Pennsylvania senator’s socially conservative positions, including his strong anti-abortion views, associates said. Mr. Santorum was one of only two Republicans who didn’t meet with Mr. Adelson in October around the time of a candidates’ debate in Las Vegas, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Adelson reportedly hasn’t shifted allegiances to Romney, but it’s basically implied if he pursues this strategy. The last thing Romney needs at this point is for Gingrich to drop out of the race. And from Romney’s perspective, Adelson’s cash could be put to much better use by funding Gingrich ads against Santorum. After all, Romney doesn’t really need the money at this point, and Newt has more credibility on the right to pull off harsh attacks on Santorum’s social positions.

This also shows that any hopes Republicans had of capturing a greater percentage of the Jewish vote may go out the window if Santorum’s the candidate. Moderate Jews who might consider voting Republican based on Israel will probably find it hard to support a candidate with far-right views on abortion, gay marriage and contraception.

Read Less

Congress Debates the First Amendment

This morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Congressman Darrell Issa’s committee) hosted a panel of religious leaders, representing the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, Orthodox Judaism, and a Baptist seminary, to discuss the ongoing struggle over inclusion of contraceptive options in insurance provisions by religious institutions. (It was the first panel this morning.)

Predictably fiery, the discussion sincerely engaged with the realities of the First Amendment in an America governed by a bloated and increasingly overbearing federal government. One particular issue, which echoed the general concern from the Democratic bench (which was invariably supportive of the Department of Health and Human Services policy) and spoke to the fundamental disagreements, was raised by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY). Read More

This morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Congressman Darrell Issa’s committee) hosted a panel of religious leaders, representing the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, Orthodox Judaism, and a Baptist seminary, to discuss the ongoing struggle over inclusion of contraceptive options in insurance provisions by religious institutions. (It was the first panel this morning.)

Predictably fiery, the discussion sincerely engaged with the realities of the First Amendment in an America governed by a bloated and increasingly overbearing federal government. One particular issue, which echoed the general concern from the Democratic bench (which was invariably supportive of the Department of Health and Human Services policy) and spoke to the fundamental disagreements, was raised by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY).

Rep. Towns said he would have liked to see women on the panel, because, he claimed, it would have provided interesting dialogue. Presumably, the insinuation was that female clergy or religious women would have a different (more liberal) take on the matter — especially, one infers, on women’s rights and women’s health.

First, this is irrelevant. A doctrinal or ritual disagreement between two members of a faith does not diminish the First Amendment claims of either. Just because religions may internally disagree does not matter: these are individual rights of conscience, not institutional rights of operation.

For some reason, it was felt that raising the writings of Thomas Jefferson would somehow provide a defense of the administration’s actions. Yet not only does his widely misunderstood Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, which speaks of a ‘‘wall of separation between church and state,’’ hardly support a policy which imposes the state on the church, but the composition that made Jefferson prouder was his Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. That Statute says: ‘‘That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical…[and] and infringement of natural right,’’ a statement which speaks directly to the current controversy.

The specious arguments by Democrats – the video is available for viewing – truly betrayed a total misunderstanding of religious faith.

Secondly, this is instructive. The more the federal government expands, the more it will encounter these thorny scenarios, and inevitably the federal government will begin to define the very parameters of a faith, and therefore what grievances can fall under the First Amendment. And, as was noted by several congressmen and panelists, this issue extends beyond religious institutions — as it is, after all, about individual liberty — to private employers who harbor religious convictions. They have the same religious freedoms to act as their consciences see fit, including in the realm of health insurance provision.

The general lesson here is that the federal government should be kept as far from such scenarios as possible, because the larger it grows, the more it will inevitably impinge on the liberties — religious and otherwise — it is intended to protect.

Sitting on the panel, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, a frequent contributor to COMMENTARY, indeed observed that the federal government, on this path, will be forced to side with one side over another, whereas in fact religious organizations should be free to define what the tenets of their faith are, and that the federal government should listen rather than impose itself.

By the way, Chairman Issa noted that Towns had had the opportunity to recommend a panelist. Towns’ recommendation was a man.

Read Less

What Do You Want to Spend the Next Nine Months Defending?

One of the most persuasive cases against nominating Mitt Romney is that he would make it difficult for Republicans to attack Obama over health care during the general election. But conservatives need to go beyond just asking themselves what ground they want to challenge Obama on. They also need to ask themselves what ground they want to spend the general election defending.

If Mitt Romney is the nominee, Republicans will have to scale back the all-out assault on ObamaCare they hoped to pursue. But at the same time, they won’t have to spend the race mounting a vocal defense of RomneyCare, since Democratic attacks aren’t likely to focus on that issue. Instead, Democrats will target Romney on class warfare, business regulations, taxes, Wall Street, and so on.

Read More

One of the most persuasive cases against nominating Mitt Romney is that he would make it difficult for Republicans to attack Obama over health care during the general election. But conservatives need to go beyond just asking themselves what ground they want to challenge Obama on. They also need to ask themselves what ground they want to spend the general election defending.

If Mitt Romney is the nominee, Republicans will have to scale back the all-out assault on ObamaCare they hoped to pursue. But at the same time, they won’t have to spend the race mounting a vocal defense of RomneyCare, since Democratic attacks aren’t likely to focus on that issue. Instead, Democrats will target Romney on class warfare, business regulations, taxes, Wall Street, and so on.

Rick Santorum’s nomination would cause Democrats to revamp this strategy. Class warfare will undoubtedly play a role. But Santorum’s key weaknesses with independent voters are in the social issues arena, and that’s what Democrats will zero in on. Republicans will spend most of the election defending Santorum’s positions on gay marriage, abortion, contraception, and the role of women in the military and workplace.

This isn’t to say that Republicans should only base their nominee decision on Democratic attacks. Focusing solely on defense is a losing strategy. But they should remember that while it’s important to nominate a candidate who can effectively attack Obama on his weaknesses, it’s just as crucial to nominate a candidate whose vulnerable areas are ones they want to spend the next nine months defending.

Read Less

Reports of the Death of Conservative Consensus Are Greatly Exaggerated

One of the more interesting questions to come out of the visibly pronounced chasm between the Republican Party’s moderate/establishment and more conservative/Tea Party wings is what happens if the Republican candidate for president loses to President Obama in November? I waded into the discussion a bit a couple months ago, when there seemed to be a distinct possibility that Newt Gingrich would solidify his place as the “not Romney” of the election and make it a two-man race between himself and the former Massachusetts governor.

Today, Ben Domenech proposes an updated version of the question over at Ricochet. If conservatives would be blamed for a Gingrich or Rick Santorum loss (social conservatives especially, in the case of the latter) and moderates for a theoretical Romney loss, Domenech asks, with which candidate would conservatives rather lose? I don’t have an answer to this particular question, but rather an observation about it: This is almost entirely a function of the specific candidates competing for the nomination this year, and not particularly representative of each wing more generally.

Read More

One of the more interesting questions to come out of the visibly pronounced chasm between the Republican Party’s moderate/establishment and more conservative/Tea Party wings is what happens if the Republican candidate for president loses to President Obama in November? I waded into the discussion a bit a couple months ago, when there seemed to be a distinct possibility that Newt Gingrich would solidify his place as the “not Romney” of the election and make it a two-man race between himself and the former Massachusetts governor.

Today, Ben Domenech proposes an updated version of the question over at Ricochet. If conservatives would be blamed for a Gingrich or Rick Santorum loss (social conservatives especially, in the case of the latter) and moderates for a theoretical Romney loss, Domenech asks, with which candidate would conservatives rather lose? I don’t have an answer to this particular question, but rather an observation about it: This is almost entirely a function of the specific candidates competing for the nomination this year, and not particularly representative of each wing more generally.

What I mean is that, particularly in the case of Romney versus Gingrich, the Republican Party’s “representatives” of each side of the conservative divide are uniquely unpalatable to the other. Romney is well liked by the establishment and by moderates, but he is vehemently disliked by the base. The reverse is true for Gingrich, who has won a serious following among the conservative movement’s grassroots (even seemingly winning over skeptical Tea Partiers), but has earned an unusual amount of fear and loathing from elected Republicans.

Think of this another way. Who are the party’s other moderate/establishment candidates who didn’t run this time around? Wouldn’t Jeb Bush be in this category, since he has taken a highly critical approach to the Tea Party’s rhetoric and Southwest Republicans’ immigration reforms, accusing them of “preying on people’s emotions”? What about Chris Christie, who favors gun control and declined to join the challenge to Obamacare?

Of course, Bush and Christie are wildly popular across all segments of the Republican Party. Both of them have been asked—in Christie’s case, begged repeatedly—to run for president this year, and there has even been speculation that Bush could emerge as a compromise candidate in a brokered convention.

On the conservative side, Paul Ryan was encouraged to run, as was Marco Rubio. Does the “establishment” have a bad word to say about either of them? Not that I’ve heard. (Though Gingrich picked a somewhat nasty fight with Ryan over his reform proposals.) Many even expect Rubio to be asked to join the ticket of the eventual GOP nominee. Tim Pawlenty supports Romney, but doesn’t he have a conservative record? Bobby Jindal supported Rick Perry, but isn’t Jindal beloved by the establishment as well?

Which side would Mitch Daniels fit on, since he announced he would not promote social conservatism if he ran, but then turned around and defunded Planned Parenthood in Indiana? Who would like to claim John Thune?

The point is that the conservative movement is generally more united on preferred candidates than this election would indicate. The candidates actually running this year are often thought of as “weak” in part because they are far from consensus picks. This might have been true in 2008 as well, but I doubt it portends the solidification of this as the party’s new norm. My guess is the last two cycles are aberrations, and that the next few cycles will disappoint the media outlets that just love writing “conservative crack-up” and “conservative civil war” stories.

Read Less

Romney Outflanks Santorum on Unions

The latest of several polls of Michigan Republicans released in the last few days confirms what the others reported: Rick Santorum is leading Mitt Romney in the state where the latter was born and raised. Though the Detroit News poll gives Santorum a four-point edge that was within the margin of error, the survey was one of five polls that all pointed to a Santorum victory in the Feb. 28 Michigan primary. That leaves Romney, who told reporters yesterday that a loss “just won’t happen,” scrambling for an issue with which to counter the rising conservative tide that has lifted Santorum from the second tier of the GOP race to the frontrunner position. His answer appeared to be an unlikely choice for Michigan but one that would, at least on this one point, allow him to outflank Santorum on the right: combating the influence of unions.

Romney came out swinging at organized labor yesterday, taking specific aim at the United Auto Workers. Channeling voter resentment at the role of unions in sending states into near-bankruptcy has been a familiar theme for the GOP around the nation as governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and New Jersey’s Chris Christie have rallied the GOP base on the issue. Picking up the anti-union banner is a way for Romney to connect with Tea Party voters. It also provides him with a way to bring up Santorum’s record of voting for big government spending packages. But given the outsize influence of union voters in Michigan, it’s an open question as to whether this tactic will help or hurt Romney, especially because Santorum is going all-out to emphasize his working class roots and sympathies.

Read More

The latest of several polls of Michigan Republicans released in the last few days confirms what the others reported: Rick Santorum is leading Mitt Romney in the state where the latter was born and raised. Though the Detroit News poll gives Santorum a four-point edge that was within the margin of error, the survey was one of five polls that all pointed to a Santorum victory in the Feb. 28 Michigan primary. That leaves Romney, who told reporters yesterday that a loss “just won’t happen,” scrambling for an issue with which to counter the rising conservative tide that has lifted Santorum from the second tier of the GOP race to the frontrunner position. His answer appeared to be an unlikely choice for Michigan but one that would, at least on this one point, allow him to outflank Santorum on the right: combating the influence of unions.

Romney came out swinging at organized labor yesterday, taking specific aim at the United Auto Workers. Channeling voter resentment at the role of unions in sending states into near-bankruptcy has been a familiar theme for the GOP around the nation as governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and New Jersey’s Chris Christie have rallied the GOP base on the issue. Picking up the anti-union banner is a way for Romney to connect with Tea Party voters. It also provides him with a way to bring up Santorum’s record of voting for big government spending packages. But given the outsize influence of union voters in Michigan, it’s an open question as to whether this tactic will help or hurt Romney, especially because Santorum is going all-out to emphasize his working class roots and sympathies.

Romney is gambling that the GOP voter base, even in Michigan, is more likely to view unions negatively. As the Detroit Free Press reported, he went out of his way to take a shot at the UAW in the union’s stronghold:

“I’ve taken on union bosses before and I’m happy to take them on again,” he told a crowd crammed into a furniture company facility. “I sure won’t give in to UAW.”

During his visit to Compatico, an office systems furniture maker in the Grand Rapids suburb of Kentwood, Romney said his record shows he has been “standing up for workers, not union bosses.”

The contrast between the two candidates’ backgrounds and approaches to the issue could not be clearer. Romney knows his one chance of heading off a tidal wave of conservative sentiment that could sweep Santorum to the nomination is by emphasizing the differences between his chief rival’s approach to big government and lack of interest in taking on unions. Santorum’s attempt to cast himself as the one Republican who cares about lower income Americans might be tailor-made for Michigan. Yet there may be more Republican votes to be won here by painting yourself as the enemy of a union movement closely aligned with President Obama than in posing as the friend of the working man.

Romney’s strengths as a Republican candidate have always been the belief in his greater electability and the divided conservative field. But, with his numbers declining in head-to-head matchups with Obama and with Santorum appearing to be his only viable rival for the nomination, both of these advantages are fading. Merely attacking Santorum won’t work–the Pennsylvanian is a lot more likeable than a candidate like Newt Gingrich whose personal and political baggage provided a more credible target for negative advertising. Romney must find an issue with which he can connect with conservatives. Though it goes against conventional wisdom to run against unions in Michigan, this tactic might be the smartest way for Romney to avoid a disastrous loss in his home state.

Read Less

A Worthy Judicial Nominee

Tomorrow, the Senate is scheduled to vote to close debate on the nomination of Jesse Furman as a federal district court judge in New York. This is a worthy nomination. Furman, who is not yet 40 years old, has spent his professional life in public service as a judicial clerk, prosecutor, and Justice Department official. What makes his service all the more exceptional is that he has performed in worthy fashion for judges conservative (Michael Mukasey), liberal (Jose Cabranes), and liberal-posing-as-conservative (David Souter). Over the past decade, he has worked two stints as a federal prosecutor in New York with a special focus on terrorism and narcotics trafficking. And though he was nominated for his position by Barack Obama, he worked for nearly two years for Michael Mukasey as a senior official in the Justice Department under George W. Bush. I’ve known Furman for four years, and in that time we have had substantive conversations about the law in which I have found him terrifically knowledgeable, entirely respectful of views that differ from his, and utterly without an axe to grind. There was some concern expressed during a confirmation hearing about an article he wrote for the Harvard Crimson when he was all of 18 years old in which he smart-assed the National Rifle Association. I would genuinely hope and expect that serious members of the United States Senate would not withhold their support from about as good a nominee as a Republican could hope for from Barack Obama based on an immature intellectual pecadillo. (I shudder to think of what I wrote at 18.) I don’t think voting for Jesse Furman should give any Republican in the Senate a moment’s pause.

Tomorrow, the Senate is scheduled to vote to close debate on the nomination of Jesse Furman as a federal district court judge in New York. This is a worthy nomination. Furman, who is not yet 40 years old, has spent his professional life in public service as a judicial clerk, prosecutor, and Justice Department official. What makes his service all the more exceptional is that he has performed in worthy fashion for judges conservative (Michael Mukasey), liberal (Jose Cabranes), and liberal-posing-as-conservative (David Souter). Over the past decade, he has worked two stints as a federal prosecutor in New York with a special focus on terrorism and narcotics trafficking. And though he was nominated for his position by Barack Obama, he worked for nearly two years for Michael Mukasey as a senior official in the Justice Department under George W. Bush. I’ve known Furman for four years, and in that time we have had substantive conversations about the law in which I have found him terrifically knowledgeable, entirely respectful of views that differ from his, and utterly without an axe to grind. There was some concern expressed during a confirmation hearing about an article he wrote for the Harvard Crimson when he was all of 18 years old in which he smart-assed the National Rifle Association. I would genuinely hope and expect that serious members of the United States Senate would not withhold their support from about as good a nominee as a Republican could hope for from Barack Obama based on an immature intellectual pecadillo. (I shudder to think of what I wrote at 18.) I don’t think voting for Jesse Furman should give any Republican in the Senate a moment’s pause.

Read Less

NYT Jerusalem Chief Unsure Whether Israel is an Apartheid State

In an interview with Politico yesterday, the incoming New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren said she “would be eager to talk to” Washington Free Beacon reporter Adam Kredo “about anything.” She may be ruing those words this morning:

The New York Times’ incoming Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, won’t say if she is a Zionist.

“I’m going to punt on that question,” Rudoren, who is Jewish, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview yesterday. “I’m not really interested in labels about who I am and what I think.” …

Asked if she considers Israel an apartheid state—as critics of the Jewish state so often do—Rudoren declined comment.

“I don’t have an assessment yet,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever answer that question in the way you’ve just framed it.”

Read More

In an interview with Politico yesterday, the incoming New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren said she “would be eager to talk to” Washington Free Beacon reporter Adam Kredo “about anything.” She may be ruing those words this morning:

The New York Times’ incoming Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, won’t say if she is a Zionist.

“I’m going to punt on that question,” Rudoren, who is Jewish, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview yesterday. “I’m not really interested in labels about who I am and what I think.” …

Asked if she considers Israel an apartheid state—as critics of the Jewish state so often do—Rudoren declined comment.

“I don’t have an assessment yet,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever answer that question in the way you’ve just framed it.”

Both the Beacon and Politico interviews are worth reading in entirety to get a sense of Rudoren’s mindset going into this position. She’s also a great example of the increasingly archaic journalistic value of placing objectivity above all else, including obvious and undeniable facts.

Are you a Zionist? Do you believe the Jews have a right to self-governance? Do you believe the Jewish state has a right to exist? This is an issue that I would think someone would come to a conclusion about by the time they’re Rudoren’s age. Do you believe Israel is an apartheid state? Again, an issue you would expect her to have some position on.

If Rudoren didn’t want to answer these questions because she felt her response might interfere with her ability to practice journalism, she could have said that. Claiming to have no opinion is just not believable.

Read Less

Obama Wants to Let UNESCO Off the Hook

In a deviation from the charm offensive he has been aiming at American Jews in the last several months, President Obama has asked Congress to grant him a waiver that will allow the administration to continue funding the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) despite its recognition of Palestinian statehood. U.S. law forbids the funding of any international organization that grants admission to the Palestinians as a separate, independent state prior to its signing a peace treaty with Israel. However, JTA reports that Obama, who is a dedicated admirer of the UN and its member agencies, hopes he can persuade Congress to let him keep sending taxpayer dollars to the group in spite of the law.

Republican opposition to the waiver is assured, meaning the chances of Obama’s wish being granted are virtually nonexistent. But given how anxious the president has been to show Jewish voters and donors that he is, as he claims, Israel’s best friend ever in the White House, the decision to try to flout the law in order to bolster a controversial UN agency gives us some real insight into the administration’s thinking and its plans in a possible second term for Obama.

Read More

In a deviation from the charm offensive he has been aiming at American Jews in the last several months, President Obama has asked Congress to grant him a waiver that will allow the administration to continue funding the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) despite its recognition of Palestinian statehood. U.S. law forbids the funding of any international organization that grants admission to the Palestinians as a separate, independent state prior to its signing a peace treaty with Israel. However, JTA reports that Obama, who is a dedicated admirer of the UN and its member agencies, hopes he can persuade Congress to let him keep sending taxpayer dollars to the group in spite of the law.

Republican opposition to the waiver is assured, meaning the chances of Obama’s wish being granted are virtually nonexistent. But given how anxious the president has been to show Jewish voters and donors that he is, as he claims, Israel’s best friend ever in the White House, the decision to try to flout the law in order to bolster a controversial UN agency gives us some real insight into the administration’s thinking and its plans in a possible second term for Obama.

The Palestinian Authority’s effort to gain statehood via the UN last fall was a flop despite the fearful predictions that the campaign would create a “diplomatic tsunami.” The UNESCO vote was the PA’s sole victory in an otherwise calamitous strategy that illustrated how thin their international support turned out to be. It also debunked the myth that the Israel-Palestinian struggle was the key to unraveling all the problems of the Middle East. Granting the PA statehood without first having to make peace with Israel would not only fail to solve that conflict but would do nothing to deal with the threat from a nuclear Iran which was the issue most countries, especially moderate Arab regimes, cared most about.

But if Obama ever gets his way, it will be a signal to both the Palestinians and the international community that Obama’s devotion to the UN far outweighs the lip service he pays to the pro-Israel community.

While the administration has been campaigning to restore aid to UNESCO on the grounds it is an essential tool of international development, that seems to be more a testimony to Obama’s loyalty to the UN than any tangible evidence of its utility. UNESCO was widely considered the most politicized and blatantly anti-Israel of all UN agencies, and the Reagan administration pulled the U.S. out of it altogether. Since then, it has been reformed to the point where America felt comfortable participating, but its policies are still questionable. In recent years, it has taken stands against what it calls the “Judaization” of Jerusalem and treated the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb outside of Bethlehem as mosques rather than as Jewish shrines. It is anticipated this bias will worsen with full Palestinian membership.

What the pro-Israel community needs to remember is it was largely the threat of a U.S. aid cutoff that ensured the UN and its other agencies would not follow UNESCO’s lead on the Palestinians. If UNESCO goes unpunished it will be an incentive for other such groups to grant the Palestinians their wish. Doing so, especially now that the PA is about to become a joint venture between Fatah and Hamas, would be a defeat for U.S. policy and further diminish the already dim chances of peace.

Though Democrats will spend the rest of 2012 attempting to sell Jewish voters the idea that Obama is Israel’s best friend, the UNESCO waiver request is evidence not only of the falseness of this claim but of what may come in a second term for the president.

Read Less

Is Iran Behind the Death of its Own Scientists?

The way attacks were conducted against the car of an Israeli diplomat’s wife in Delhi has contributed to an interesting, if disconcerting theory among pundits. Iran’s wave of attacks against Israeli targets is tit-for-tat against what are presumed to be Israeli-sponsored assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists inside Iran. Ian Black in the Guardian, for example, wrote two days ago that:

“The use in Delhi of a sticky bomb attached to an Israeli embassy vehicle by a man riding a motorbike seemed to mimic the modus operandi used by Israel’s agents in Tehran. Hints, surely, do not come much heavier than that?”

Read More

The way attacks were conducted against the car of an Israeli diplomat’s wife in Delhi has contributed to an interesting, if disconcerting theory among pundits. Iran’s wave of attacks against Israeli targets is tit-for-tat against what are presumed to be Israeli-sponsored assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists inside Iran. Ian Black in the Guardian, for example, wrote two days ago that:

“The use in Delhi of a sticky bomb attached to an Israeli embassy vehicle by a man riding a motorbike seemed to mimic the modus operandi used by Israel’s agents in Tehran. Hints, surely, do not come much heavier than that?”

Black also refers to the Newsweek report that Michael Rubin and Jonathan Tobin also discussed, which suggested that Israel may be conducting false flag operations inside Iran by relying on the much-despised Mujahedin al-Khalq opposition group.

In short, the inference is that Israel had it coming and the Iranian intelligence operatives involved have a well-developed sense of humor, if they chose to use the same method Israeli proxies relied upon to kill Iranian scientists.

The likelihood of Israel conducting such operations inside Iran is, in fact, quite low. Israel has not had an intelligence presence inside Iran since 1979. Running an intelligence operation that can track down scientists in heavy morning traffic and disappear without a trace requires vast human resources. And Israelis, quite simply put, do not run false flag operations. Israel may have an interest in killing Iranian scientists – although Israel is not alone in that. But responsibility is also a matter of capabilities, not just presumed intentions.

Presuming Iranian responsibility for the Delhi, as well as the Tbilisi and Bangkok hits earlier this week, what then can we conclude about the use of the same technique – a magnet bomb stuck on the car by a passing motorcycle?

As Potkin Azarmehr, a brilliant Iranian blogger and journalist based in the UK suggests, the hand behind the assassinations in Iran may just as likely be the regime’s.

Potkin reviews the four hits and offers some useful insights on why the four individuals were unlikely to be targets for Israel but may have been likely targets for the regime:

1. Professor Ali Mohammadi, killed in front of his home by a booby-trapped motorcycle parked outside, was a public supporter of the Green Movement and a member of a regional science project to which Israeli scientists also participated. He taught quantum physics: “It stretches the imagination to assume the Islamic Republic of Iran would include one of its key nuclear weapon/power scientists, who could be a possible target for assassination by Western agencies, on this SESAME project, where he would regularly meet in conferences with colleagues from other countries, including Israel.” An assassin, Jamal Fash, was paraded on TV, but the “TV confessions of Jamali Fash were full of contradictions and it later emerged that he was an ardent pro-Ahmadinejad devotee and a kickboxer member of the national team.”

2. Professor Majid Shahriari, killed on November 29, 2010, was a member of the same regional project alongside Ali Mohammadi. Potkin notes that “There was no appeal made by the state for the public to come forward as witnesses and until now no one has been arrested or charged with his murder. I have come across one eyewitness myself however. A former employee of the interior ministry, who saw the whole thing and told me it bore all the hallmarks of an Iranian regime hit squad.”

3. Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani survived an attempt a few minutes after Shahriari was killed and was later appointed as head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. This guy was clearly linked to the program but, as Potkin helpfully notes, “Footage of Abbassi Davani’s car shown afterwards, show a few bullet holes on the bonnet and windscreen and unlike Shahriari’s car, his car was not blown up. If these assassinations were the work of highly sophisticated Western/Israeli sent hit squads, how is it that a theoretical research physicist not on the sanctions list is eliminated so efficiently but the more obvious target who is clearly connected to the nuclear program and is on the sanctions list, is not even hurt?”

4. Dariush Rezaei Nejad was murdered as he waited for his daughter at kindergarten on July 23, 2011. He is the namesake of a nuclear scientist, but he himself was an electrical engineering master student. His Wikipedia entry tells us that “At the time of his killing he was described by officials as a ‘nuclear scientist’ and an academic associated with Iran’s atomic activities, but days later as a postgraduate electrical engineering masters student at Tehran’s K.N.Toosi University of Technology, who was waiting to defend his thesis.” Potkin weighed in on this by adding that “He even had a Facebook page and on his Facebook page, he had included the dissident Iranian singer, Shajarian, as one of his favorites. It is unthinkable that an Iranian scientist connected with Iran’s nuclear program would have a Facebook page which shared his friends and family and their photos.”

It is, of course, just a theory – although information extracted from the Iranian suspects arrested in Bangkok and Delhi may offer additional insights.

But killing its own expendable ordinary citizens – especially if they belong to the opposition or see no evil in participating in joint research projects with Israeli scientists – is in keeping with the Iranian regime’s moral standards. And given the similarity of the technique used, I at least am inclined to believe Iran had a hand in killing its own people and then spinning the murders for its propaganda war with the West.

 

Read Less

Undergarments In a Twist?

Hmmm. Two stories, in two different publications, on the Mormon Church? Is something afoot?

Alana noted a Washington Post piece about the church posthumously baptizing Holocaust survivors, and that same issue made the cover of The Daily (which you can only read if you own an iPad). The Daily goes further than the Post, sharing some of the stranger Mormon beliefs and customs, including the odd, 18th century-ish style undergarments Mormons supposedly wear (they actually look quite comfy).

Read More

Hmmm. Two stories, in two different publications, on the Mormon Church? Is something afoot?

Alana noted a Washington Post piece about the church posthumously baptizing Holocaust survivors, and that same issue made the cover of The Daily (which you can only read if you own an iPad). The Daily goes further than the Post, sharing some of the stranger Mormon beliefs and customs, including the odd, 18th century-ish style undergarments Mormons supposedly wear (they actually look quite comfy).

Mormonism was bound to come up sooner or later, and it looks like someone (Santorum? Obama?) has decided the moment is now. So the sooner Mitt Romney deals with it the better.

Baptizing dead people who had no desire in their earthly sojourns to be Mormons is bizarre and offensive — and not only to Jews. Romney has been tiptoeing for too long around the issue of religion – though his reluctance is understandable. I’m not even going to try to come up with good underwear talking points for Romney. (I have a hard enough time trying to explain tefillin.)

Seriously, though, there is a question here that bears considering:  Do we really have anything to fear from our president’s religion? Back in 1960, the boogeyman was the Catholic Church – and the possibility that JFK would take his marching orders from the Pope (turns out, as we know now, Hugh Hefner had more of an effect on what went on in the Kennedy White House than John XXIII).

The fact is that all religions have rituals that seem pretty weird to outsiders.

But in case anyone has forgotten – the U.S. is not a theocracy; we have something called the First Amendment, and no matter the perversion that atheists have tried to make of it, it makes the religion of our public officials largely immaterial.

Being a religious country, we want our president at least to pretend to have some kind of religion. But as to which one? Given the seriously scary state of the world, and Barack Obama’s abysmal weakness and incompetence, I think we have a lot more pressing things to worry about.

 

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.