Tag Archives: John McCormack

The Land Of Lincoln Says No

Nitasha Tiku at New York Magazine:

Illinois governor Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty today. “It’s not possible to create a perfect, mistake-free death penalty system,” Quinn declared. More than a decade ago the state issued a moratorium on executions after wrongly condemning thirteen men. Quinn, who spent two months speaking with prosecutors, victims’ families, death penalty opponents, and religious leaders, also commuted the sentences of all fifteen state inmates on death row. They will now serve life in prison. Quinn called it the “most difficult decision” he has made as governor, saying, “I think if you abolish the death penalty in Illinois, we should abolish it for everyone.” Illinois is the fifteenth state to have abolished capital punishment. With Quinn’s decision, anti-death penalty advocates hope to create “a national wave” of opposition. But in New Mexico, which became the most recent state to abolish the death penalty, in 2009, Republican governor Governor Susana Martinez is trying to reinstate it.

Martha Neil at ABA Journal:

Three other states, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York, have already banned capital punishment, and it is rarely enforced in Western democracies.

“In Illinois, there is no question in my mind that abolishing the death penalty is the right thing,” defense attorney Ron Safer tells Reuters. “It is naive to think that we haven’t executed an innocent person. We stop looking after they’re executed.”

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard

Lynn Sweet at Chicago Sun-Times:

Quinn noted that he was lobbied to sign the ban during calls from death penalty foes Desmond Tutu, Martin Sheen, Sister Helen Prejean and pleas from those who wanted Illinois to keep the death penalty on the books, including the families of victims and state’s attorneys from around the state.

Quinn said whether to sign the bill was harder to decide than other legislative matters because “It is an emotional issue when you talk to family members. I’ve talked to families on both sides of the death penalty issue, some are for abolition, some are not. So you have to really have to have an opportuniuty of review and reflection.”

I asked Quinn if he was convinced Illinois–with its record of putting wrongly convicted people on Death Row, which led to the current moratorium—won’t make mistakes again.

“That is the ultimate decision I have to make within a short period of time, whether or not problems that have existed in Illinois death penalty statute, its implementation, are corrected.”

Julia Zebley at Jurist:

Illinois legislators have attempted to ban the death penalty since then-governor George Ryan put a moratorium on it 11 years ago. Although the new law will officially take effect [Chicago Tribune report] on July 1, Quinn commuted the current 15 death row inmates’ sentences to life without parole.The death penalty remains a controversial issue worldwide. According to an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF; JURIST report], the number of countries using the death penalty dropped in 2009, but more than 700 people were executed in 18 countries, with the most executions carried out in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US. Last August, US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia [official website] heard a habeas petition from Troy Davis, who was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering an off-duty Savannah, Georgia police officer. In a rare move, the federal court heard the habeas petition after Davis had exhausted his state remedies under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act [text], but the court sided against Davis saying that he failed to prove his innocence. Law Offices of the Southern Center for Human Rights [official website] Executive Director Sarah Totonchi argues [JURIST commentary] said that “Troy Davis’ case illustrates that US courts simply cannot provide the certainty necessary to impose an irreversible punishment; therefore the death penalty must be abolished.”

Scott Turow in the Chicago Tribune:

Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to abolish the death penalty in Illinois is commonly viewed as a triumph for progressives. But some of the most persuasive arguments for doing away with capital punishment basically reflect conservative views. The last decade has seen many noted conservatives, including George Will, Richard Viguerie and L. Brent Bozell III, emerge as death penalty opponents. One reason that abolition became a political possibility here was not simply because it attracted Republican votes in the Illinois House and the Senate, but because many conservatives have grown more ambivalent about the issue and less fierce in their opposition.

Here are some of the leading conservative arguments for ending executions.

The death penalty is one more government program that’s failed.

This oft-quoted observation is an elaboration on comments and more than a clever turn of phrase by former Illinoisan George Will, perhaps the nation’s leading conservative columnist.

Illinois reinstituted capital punishment in 1977, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all prior statutory schemes as unconstitutionally arbitrary and capricious. We have now conducted a 33-year experiment in seeing whether death sentences can be meted out in a rational, proportionate fashion. That experiment has clearly failed.

I was a member of the 14-person Commission on Capital Punishment appointed by then-Gov. George Ryan in 2000 to study the death penalty. I started out ambivalent, because I knew there will always be certain murders and killers that cry out for this ultimate form of retribution. But after two years I came to realize that we will never construct a capital system that functions with anything resembling fairness.

Despite decades of legislation and litigation aimed at establishing procedural bulwarks, the imposition of the death penalty in Illinois remained haphazard. Studies authorized by the commission found that, in Illinois, defendants were five times more likely to be sentenced to death if they committed their crimes in rural areas, as opposed to cities; twice as likely to be sentenced to death if they killed a woman; and 21/2 times more likely to be capitally sentenced for the murder of a white person, as compared with an African-American.

Doug Mataconis:

False conviction issues aren’t just limited to Illinois. The Innocence Project has been involved in nearly 300 post-conviction exonerations based on DNA evidence, including nearly two dozen cases where a convict was sitting on death row at the time of his conviction.  Moreover, there’s at least one case on record where it now seems fairly apparent that the State of Texas executed a man for a crime that he didn’t commit.

There was a time when I was a supporter, albeit a reluctant one, of capital punishment, but that time has come to an end. For one thing,  I’ve come to the general conclusion that the state should not have the power to take anyone’s life, even when they’ve committed a violent and horrible crime. Additionally, ever since the advent of DNA evidence, we’ve seen far too many instances of innocent men imprisoned for crimes that they clearly did not commit to think that it hasn’t happened in a capital punishment case.  Finally, my own professional interaction with the criminal justice system on a regular basis made it clear to me fairly early on that the system was far too imperfect to trust it with the power of life and death, and this is especially true when a defendant facing a death sentence is forced to accept court-appointed counsel that lacks both the experience and the resources that a private-hired attorney would. The question of whether you live or die shouldn’t depend on whether or not you’re rich enough to hire a good lawyer, but, far too often, it does.

Illinois has taken the right step here. Let’s hope that more states follow their lead.

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“We Have A Gay Guy. He’s Big, He’s Mean, And He Kills Lots Of Bad Guys. No One Cared That He Was Gay.”

DOD page

Andrew Sullivan with a round-up.

Sullivan:

And the report is absolutely clear that straight servicemembers by large majorities have few problems with openly gay servicemembers. 69 percent of them acknowledge they have fought or worked alongside gay men and women already. A staggering 92 percent of those were fine with lifting the ban. Again: when you know someone is gay, all the fears and stereotypes tend to evaporate. This is not a surprise. The men and women of the US military are among the finest in the land; they want to do the job at hand, not deepen social division or posture politically. They are not bigots. I note one colorful quote from a special ops fighter:

“We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.”

And why would they? The other critical point is the inherent conservatism of many gay servicemembers. The last thing they would want to do is make a fuss about their orientation. The overwhelming majority will stay largely closeted in the workplace and battlefield – not out of fear but because it is irrelevant, and they are discreet kinds of people. Rand found that “even if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were repealed, only 15% of gay and lesbian Service members would like to have their sexual orientation known to everyone in their unit.”

Kevin Drum:

It turns out that although 30% of respondents think that repealing DADT would affect their unit’s ability to train well together (a number that shows up pretty consistently on every question about the effect of repeal), only 10% think it would affect their own readiness and only 20% think it would affect their ability to train well. In other words, there’s pretty good reason to think that even the 30% number is overstated. It seems to include a fair number of people who are assuming that DADT repeal would have a negative effect on other people even though it wouldn’t have a negative effect on them. My guess is that a lot of this is reaction to a small number of vocal traditionalists, which makes opposition to repeal seem like a bigger deal than it is.

Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief counsel, agrees, saying that surveys about personnel changes “tend to overestimate negative consequences, and underestimate the U.S. military’s ability to adapt and incorporate within its ranks the diversity that is reflective of American society at large.” I suspect he’s right. In the end, real opposition is probably more in the range of 10-20% than 30%, and even that will probably produce nothing more serious than occasional grumbling and discomfort for a year or two at most. There’s really no further excuse for inaction. It’s time for Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership to figure out a way to cut a deal and get repeal passed before Congress recesses.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Early reports on the Pentagon’s survey of the troops on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were nothing but roses for repeal supporters, but the details of the survey complicate that narrative somewhat. While only 20% of troops who have never been deployed to a combat zone say that repeal of DADT would “very negatively” or “negatively” affect their “immediate unit’s effectiveness at completing its mission,” more than 44% of combat troops say repeal would have a negative impact on unit effectiveness:

An exception to the pattern was the response of Service members deployed to a combat zone now or in the past to the circumstance of being “in a field environment or out to sea.” Among all Service members in this group, 44.3% (and 59.4% of Marines—see Q71a in Appendix E) said performance would be “very negatively/negatively” affected in this situation. Of note, among all survey items related to the review’s major subject areas, this item had the highest percentage of Service members reporting negative perceptions about the impact of a repeal.

About 11% of all combat troops surveyed said repeal would “positively” or “very positively” affect performance, while 19% said repeal would have “no effect.” Another 26% of combat troops surveyed said repeal’s affect wold be “equally as positively as negatively.” These troops–who see both negative and positive effects of repeal–are lumped together with those who believe it will have “no effect” under the survey’s “neutral” category.

Spartan living conditions on combat zones may be one reason why combat troops see repeal more negatively than non-combat troops do

Joe.My.God

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

Defense Secretary Bob Gates just called on Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell before the end of the year — while asking that Congress give the military time to implement the change.

Asked by reporters how much time he would need, Gates conceded he didn’t know. But he indicated the the President would keep a close eye on the Pentagon and make sure it didn’t slow roll the implementation.

As expected, the Pentagon’s review of DADT found that repeal of the flawed policy would not have an adverse effect on unit morale or cohesion. But Gates’ unequivocal call for repeal by Congress was perhaps a surprise. The argument he made for repeal cuts particularly sharply for Republicans: if Congress doesn’t repeal DADT in orderly fashion, the federal courts may do it in a haphazard and disruptive way.

Steve Benen:

Commenting on the Pentagon report, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added, “We treat people with dignity and respect in the armed forces, or we don’t last long in the armed forces: No special cases, no special treatment.”

Igor Volsky has more, including a variety of related highlights from the survey findings. The entire report has been published online here.

As for the larger legislative context, remember, Senate Republicans recently refused to even allow a debate on funding U.S. troops because they wanted to wait for this report. They took a gamble, of sorts — maybe the survey results would show servicemen and women agreeing with the GOP’s anti-gay animus, thus giving the party a boost fighting pro-repeal Democrats.

The gamble failed. We now know a majority of U.S. troops, a majority of U.S. civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are all ready to see DADT repeal move forward.

If John McCain and other anti-gay senators hoped to gain some leverage, those hopes were in vain. They’ve run out of excuses. It’s time for the Senate to do the right and decent thing.

Remember, Democrats only need two Republicans — literally, just two — to break ranks. These GOP senators, if they exist, don’t even have to vote for the spending bill that includes the DADT provision; they just need to let the Senate vote up or own. If this report doesn’t lead two Republicans to drop the nonsense, nothing will.

Gabriel Arana at Tapped:

Two points. Part of the argument for keeping DADT — and the criticism that’s been directed at its opponents — has been that the military is special, that the rules for civil society are not the same as those necessary for a well-disciplined and effective military force. There’s some sense in this; it’s probably why, for instance, we don’t ask military members to vote on each tactical move they have to carry out, or leave the decision of whether the country goes to war to them. If the rights and responsibilities of military members need be different from those of civil society in any way, following decisions made along the chain of command seems to be the most important for maintaining cohesion. Surveying the troops about a policy matter is, in that light, a departure from the military M.O.

But the larger question is whether the rights of any minority group should be put up to a vote. In this case, the results of the study tip the scales in favor of repeal, but that needn’t have been the case — and it shouldn’t matter anyway. Anti-gay activists rely on the prejudice of voters to suppress minority rights — and call it undemocratic when a court rules that the electorate does not have a right to vote on issues like gay marriage or in this case the DADT repeal. But a fundamental feature of our democracy is that the system is reined in from pure mob rule by the (at least in theory) inalienable guarantees of the Constitution. You don’t want the Bill of Rights put up to a vote every time the courts want to extend its protections to a marginalized group, whether public opinion is on your side or not.

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And These Castles Made Of RINOs

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

In the wake of Joe Miller’s upset over Lisa Murkowski in Alaska’s GOP Senate primary, there’s been a lot of buzz for Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who is challenging moderate GOP congressman Mike Castle in the September 14 primary. This week, the Tea Party Express endorsed O’Donnell, a former conservative activist who has worked at the Republican National Committee, Concerned Women for America, and the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth. The Tea Party Express says it’s going to spend $250,000 on the race, and its new radio ad touts conservative radio host Mark Levin’s endorsement of O’Donnell. Some other conservatives, like RedState.com’s Erick Erickson, have endorsed O’Donnell as well.

In an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD late this morning, O’Donnell said there’s no difference between Mike Castle and the Democrat in the race, New Castle County executive Chris Coons. Asked if there are any issues on which Castle is better than the Democrat, O’Donnell said: “I don’t think so.”

Castle has plenty of moderate and liberal positions, but his supporters point out that Delaware is one of the most Democratic states in the country, and Castle could be Delaware’s Scott Brown.

[…]

Ideological differences aside, questions have been raised about O’Donnell’s financial history. According to a March 21 Delaware News Journal article posted on knowchristineodonnell.com, O’Donnell is using campaign funds to pay for half of the rent at her residence:

Greenville Place lists the prices of a town house rental between $1,645 and $2,020 a month, depending on the number of bedrooms and square feet.

O’Donnell said she pays half of her rent with campaign donations because she also uses the town home as her Senate campaign headquarters.

“I’m splitting it, legally splitting it and paying part of it,” she said. “This is our technical headquarters.”

O’Donnell said she has separate, private quarters and that staffers, like Hust, live in the other portion of the home.

O’Donnell tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that while she does pay rent on what is technically her legal residence with campaign funds, she also has a separate permanent residence, the location of which she won’t disclose “for security reasons.” O’Donnell said that her campaign office and home were vandalized in 2008, and she’s fearful that her opponents will do the same this year. Says O’Donnell:

They’re following me. They follow me home at night. I make sure that I come back to the townhouse and then we have our team come out and check all the bushes and check all the cars to make sure that—they follow me.

That’s what’s disgusting, as you can see from the YouTube videos. They knock on the door at all hours of the night. They’re hiding in the bushes when I’m at candidate forums. In 2008 they broke into my home. They vandalized my home. They wrote nasty notes on my front door, on my front porch. They jeopardized my safety. They did the same thing to our campaign office. They broke into our campaign office. They vandalized our campaign office. They stole files. My campaign signs that had my picture—they put a spear in my mouth poked out my eyes, and cut out the part of my heart, and wrote nasty names all over those campaign signs.

I would be a fool to be pressured into disclosing where I live, when I know that the stakes are even higher this time. What makes me think they wont do the same distasteful things they did in 2008 when the stakes are even higher, when we’re even more viable. I mean come on, John, you’re a class act. You don’t want to—you know that this is a security issue. You know what they’re capable of.

Is O’Donnell suggesting that Castle supporters vandalized her office in 2008, when she was running for Senate against Joe Biden? “I’m not sure who did it, but I know for a fact that Mike Castle and [Delaware GOP chairman] Tom Ross were campaigning against me,” O’Donnell says. “They’ve been sabotaging my candidacy since 2008. So who knows who did it back then.” O’Donnell says there are no police reports of the 2008 break-in because she didn’t want to make an issue of it at the time. She claims to have pictures of vandalized signs.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

This local radio interview did not go well for Christine O’Donnell, who is challenging Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware.

The host plays audio of O’Donnell bragging that she won two of Delaware’s three counties in her 2008 Senate bid against Joe Biden.

In Sussex County, she came quite close, 43,123 votes to Joe Biden’s 43,395 votes.

She admits that she considers that a tie, 49 percent to 49 percent. While losing by 272 votes isn’t technically a tie, it is a small margin of defeat, so fine. Let’s say she covered the point spread.

But her other “win” is Kent County, where she lost, 27,981 to 37,074. That amounts to 43 percent to 56.9 percent. It’s really hard to argue that that even meets the broadest definition of “a tie.”

Of course, she lost the largest county, New Castle, 69,491 votes to 177,070 votes, roughly 28.1 percent to 71.8 percent.

In other words, if she had carried every vote cast in the Senate race in Sussex County in 2008, she still would have lost by more than 18,000 votes.

Then she chooses to repeat to the host that many people charge he’s on the take by Mike Castle. It goes downhill from there.

More Geraghty at NRO:

A couple of Christine O’Donnell fans didn’t like yesterday’s post on the radio interview.

My mistake, fellas. You’re right. It was a terrific interview. A candidate who doesn’t like the questions she’s being asked should always tell the host that there are rumors he’s taking bribes from the other campaign. When she says she won two out of three counties, no one should acknowledge that she lost both, one by 14 percentage points. Conservatism is best served when we all close our eyes and pretend we don’t see a false statement by a candidate we prefer!

Now, I’m not going to tout Mike Castle as anything other than what he is. He has a lifetime ACU rating of 52.49. That’s pretty darn “meh” for conservatives. But the moderation of the other guy isn’t sufficient reason to give a thumbs up to a candidate who makes blatantly, easily-to-verify false statements on the trail, nor to countenance her attacks on those who have the audacity to bring her the bad news.

Erick Erickson at Redstate:

I would rather die a thousand times over via crushing by an anaconda while being torn limb from limb by a jaguar than see Mike Castle in the Senate.

I would rather be slowly run over by a road roller while listening to Janeane Garofalo dialogue from The Truth About Cats and Dogs than see Mike Castle in the Senate.

I’d rather see the Democrat get elected than see Mike Castle get elected. Seriously, I know many of you disagree with me, but if the majority depends on Mike Castle, to hell with the majority.

But I’m moving on from Delaware. The Tea Party Express has a poll coming out showing the race within 5 points. I wish Christine O’Donnell the best. I’d rather her than Castle.

But I’m moving on.

If Christine O’Donnell wins it’ll be inspite of the help she has gotten. What has ultimately set me off is the “Mike Castle is gay” stuff, which is nothing more than the Will Folks hour come to Delaware. The failure of the O’Donnell campaign to deal swiftly with this tells me all I need to know.

As I noted in my original post on Eric Odom, parts of his American Liberty Alliance website became a site for Christine O’Donnell advocacy.

Subsequently, a number of the affiliated individuals went and worked directly for Christine O’Donnell’s campaign. A few weeks ago they left. Around that time I began hearing rumors the O’Donnell campaign was imploding.

The gang that left resurfaced at Liberty.com. The launch day spectacular at Liberty.com was to announce that Mike Castle is having a gay affair on his wife with no proof whatsoever.

When it was pointed out that all the people behind the accusation were O’Donnell campaign staffers, the response was “not any more.”

Quin Hillyer at The American Spectator:

Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, already under fire for a sketchy history with personal finances and a number of other odd actions (including suing the stalwart conservative publishing house, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute), now is really turning into an embarrassment. Her unnamed opponents are hiding in her bushes! And her close associates are making absolutely slanderous claims about her GOP opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, while O’Donnell herself can barely raise herself to denounce the slander — only while repeating it numerous times.

Yet TEA Partiers, with whose causes I almost always gladly associate, are working hard to make O’Donnell the next Joe Miller, pulling an upset win over the GOP establishment.

I make no endorsement of Mike Castle’s leftward drift over the years. I make no endorsement in the race. I love a lot of what O’Donnell says. I would still be at least tempted to vote for her if I lived in Delaware. But if I were a political consultant telling TEA Partiers and conservative leaders in general what their best purely political action would be, long term, what I would say is this: Go to Mike Castle and get pledges from him to move back rightward.

Politicians as experienced as Castle know the importance of honoring their word to other political actors. (Sort of like “honor among thieves,” except that most politicians really are NOT thieves.) Conservative leaders can go to him, perfectly legally, and say, look, you saw what happened to Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and to Bob Bennett in Utah. You see the polls that have you just five points up on O’Donnell. You know you are at least at some risk of failing to win the nomination. But we can call off the dogs of war. We can stop ginning up the organizational fervor that could propel O’Donnell to victory. What we ask from you is that you keep your door open to us once you are in the Senate; that you sign at least a two-year version of Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge; that you agree in writing that you will not switch parties if elected and that you would resign rather than do so….. that sort of thing. The pledges don’t even need to be public. They can’t mention any specific legislation, and they can’t be couched in terms of a quid pro quo. But they still can be binding on an honorable man, and Castle is an honorable man.

Dan Riehl:

They say neurotics build sand castles and psychotics live in them. From what I’ve seen at many conservative blogs, they look determined to enable the ongoing building of a sand castle of a Republican Party by helping Mike Castle in Delaware. Well, pardon me if I don’t feel their pain as they start to whine when that sand castle comes crashing down on them after November.

It seems every time someone wants to challenge me on the Castle/O’Donnell issue, they have to start out with a straw-man argument. They don’t like, or support O’Donnell, so why should they not assist Castle in attacking her? Yet, I’ve never said anyone had to, or should support her. All I’ve argued is, why should a conservative align with a liberal like Castle to attack a conservative, when not saying anything is a principled option? It isn’t as if we all weigh in on each and every race.

I backed Lowden over Angle, but never attacked Angle. If the GOP can’t produce a satisfactory candidate in DE, then maybe they need to be sent a message in this case. Invest the time and money required to build a state and local party apparatus that can offer up real choices between a D and an R – and recruit them to run, not a Democrat by any other name. Stop following the Democrats off a cliff because it’s the easy way to win. What is it we as conservatives win in the end?

Conservatives win nothing with a Mike Castle in the Senate. Most conservative bloggers are fond of saying, I’m a conservative before I am a Republican. You wouldn’t know it by looking around out here today.

What is the incentive for the GOP to honestly shift to the Right if conservatives will accept whatever the GOP opts to shove down their throats? Reagan won DE statewide twice, Bush 41 won it in 1988. But Castle is the best the GOP can do statewide in DE today? I don’t buy it. If we want the GOP to pay attention to Center-Right views, at some point we are going to have to make a stand.

What good is a GOP to conservatives if every Republican north of Washington is liberal? How does that advance the cause of conservatism? Frankly, it doesn’t. It advances a GOP that can continue to sell out conservative principles for electoral convenience. It isn’t a party that’s leading anywhere, it’s a party following Democrats off the cliff they have been driving America over for decades.

By the reasoning I’ve seen around, we should never have supported Scott Brown in Massachusetts. In this, of all years, I don’t buy that a Castle can win in Delaware, but not an O’Donnell. Still, I’d rather see the GOP lose and have an identified Democrat, rather than one in Red skin.

Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator:

Over at Riehlword and on Mark Levin’s Facebook page are marvelous pieces defining much more than Delaware’s suddenly heated fight between Christine O’Donnell and Mike Castle.

O’Donnell is taking flak for this or that, this alleged misstatement or that bad radio interview. Including from this piece over at NRO by the estimable Jim Geraghty. And, just posted, is this from my wonderful TAS friend and colleague Quin Hillyer.

Taking flak from good conservatives or, as Mark Levin puts it, conservatives who are more Republican than conservative. Not, as Seinfeld might say, that there’s anything wrong with that! And quite specifically let me make sure we understand Quin Hillyer is not included in my estimation of who is not really conservative. Anyone who knows Quin knows in an earlier life he told Edmund Burke to get on the stick with that French Revolution book, not to mention he still grouses about Wendell Willkie. Mr. Hillyer is many things….short on conservatism is not one of those things.

If I may say respectfully, this kind of thing is both terminally old when it comes to attacks on conservatives and, frustratingly, enduringly typical from — yes — some on the right.

Somewhere it always seems there’s a need to refresh on the savage attacks on Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan or, to be current and with no need to refresh, today’s Sarah Palin. Heck, why limit this to running for office? Attacks by conservatives on more prominent conservatives occur these days with the same certainty as the attraction of gin to tonic. Google names like…oh…say…Limbaugh, Rush and you’ll get the idea.

These attacks are so utterly, utterly predictable although I’m sure that a Palin or O’Donnell still finds the sensation amazing as the arrow enters between their shoulder blades.

So let’s take a second to see just how deeply normal if crazy this business has been over the decades.

The conservative is accused by his or her fellows of being: unstable (Goldwater), an extremist (Goldwater, Reagan, William F. Buckley, Jr., Palin), an un-informed lightweight (Reagan, Palin), personally irresponsible with finances (Reagan and O’Donnell), saying something utterly stupid in this interview or that public appearance (all of the above) — and don’t forget the ever dependable cry of racist/race-baiter or race something-or — other (all of the above plus pick-your-favorite talk radio host).

Until the Delaware primary, it is now Christine O’Donnell’s turn to feel that startling arrow-in-the-back sensation that comes with this.

Conservatism is not a candidate. It’s a movement. Based on a set of rock-solid principles. The fight always is to move the ball forward. The quarterback of the moment is…Fox News Alert….always flawed in some fashion. We could and can pick endlessly at the quarterback who is on the field. The real question is …now and always….are we moving the ball? Elections will be won. They will be lost. The objective is to move the ball.

Ace Of Spades:

She cannot win in Delaware, which is usually among the ten most Democratic states in the union. Allow me to be a little elistist — what in this odd biography says “serious candidate for Senator”?

I was already predisposed to endorsing Castle, feeling this was a bridge too far (or a RINO too far), and then I recalled who Christine O’Donnell was — she’s a fill-in guest on Hannity and other talk shows. She has always grated on me, because she always seems pretty unprepared (or just not really a strong thinker), and tends to just repeat the same three or four obvious bullet-points.

If I have turned the channel off almost every time she’s been on, I do not see how she is going to wear well in Democrat-stronghold Delaware.

When we were trying to get Scott Brown elected, some objected that he was a RINO. I said at the time: This is a gift from God. It is unseemly to look down one’s nose at a gift from God and ask, “Couldn’t you have gotten something better?”

I do not know why it is that Mike Castle is running 12 points or so ahead of his Democratic rival. It could be partly due to his despised RINOism, of course. And it’s also due to personal characteristics which he alone possesses and cannot be transferred to O’Donnell — like, as the state’s only at-large Representative (the state has only one Rep.), he knows everyone in the state, has campaigned statewide nine times before. For whatever reason, the voters trust him, seem to like him. (Well, “like” as much as one can like a politician.)

For whatever reason, they’ve decided he’s okay by them. And preferable to a Democrat. And so he polls 10-12 points ahead.

Meanwhile the latest Rasmussen poll puts O’Donnell ten points behind Coons.

And on that point, I ask, where is the plausible pathway to candidate growth? What is the realistic plan for getting O’Donnell up from ten points down to at least even?

Robert Stacy McCain:

Me? I’m 100% with Christine O’Donnell, come hell or high water. She’s got Dan Riehl and Mark Levin on her side, and I’m sticking with those guys — no personal offense intended to anyone who disagrees.

What has struck me as misguided all along is the fundamental assumption made by O’Donnell’s critics that Castle can win the general, or that O’Donnell’s chances of winning Nov. 2 are significantly less than Castle’s. I am profoundly dubious of either assumption. O’Donnell is a fresh face and enormously telegenic, whereas Mike Castle . . . eh, not so much.

If there really is a GOP tidal wave coming on Nov. 2 and if an anti-Obama/anti-incumbent/anti-Washington sentiment is the energy behind that tsunami, then O’Donnell is certainly better positioned to harness that energy than Mike Castle.

Gabe Malor:

I don’t have much to add to what Ace said earlier, except that I’m genuinely puzzled at folks who say they’d rather the seat be Democrat than in the hands of a RINO. Given the number of Senate seats now in play, this is tantamount to declaring that they’d rather have a Democratic Senate than a Republican one.

I’m saying, it might be different if Republicans were going to have control of the Senate anyway. Then, heh, no real harm to letting our “problem Senators” know what we expect in the future. Same thing on the flipside. If the Democrats were going to have insurmountable control of the Senate…again, it doesn’t matter so much whether the Democrat or the RINO wins.

But we’re talking about taking control of the Senate, something that only now is turning into a real possibility. And that’s going to take putting up with folks like Collins and Snowe and Castle. As infuriating as they are, I’d rather put up with them than watch the Democrats run the country into the ground under another two years of Majority Leader Reid (or his successor).

It’s just astonishing that folks — good, genuine, GOP people — are actually advocating for a path that leads to Democratic majority in the Senate. Over Delaware, a blue state that we have the unimaginably good fortune to be poised to take way from the Democrats until 2014!

Think about it. Turning a Democratic state Republican for long enough that the folks there might actually learn something. Isn’t that what we want? Turn the blue states red? Why would we pass up a gift like this?

Allah Pundit:

There is a reason to prefer Castle — very, very grudgingly — but we’ve already hashed that out. For further thoughts, see Gabe Malor, who wonders why any righty would rather see a Democrat win than a RINO, particularly when it could mean the difference between Democratic and Republican control of all-important Senate committees next year. The response to that argument is usually some variation on the idea that we’re one crushing defeat away from total victory — that if blue states aren’t ready to elect “true conservatives” yet, well, then it’s better to leave Democrats in control so that they can ruin the country even more and eventually produce a real conservative backlash. (Which, I guess, means we shouldn’t have supported RINO Scott Brown in January, since he spoiled Obama’s filibuster-proof majority.) The flaw in this reasoning, of course, is that some things are bound to go right for Democrats despite their dumbest efforts to prevent that from happening. The economy will start to speed up again, even with The One keeping his foot on the brake of the engine of growth (note the car metaphor!), and if the Democrats control Congress when it does, they’ll get plenty of credit from voters. You’re simply not going to get a map that’s completely red, any more than the idiot liberals who were high on Hopenchange two years ago were ever going to get a map that’s completely blue. And as I said yesterday, however much they may irritate you, RINOs are marginally better than Democrats. I recommend re-reading this Doctor Zero post from last year on that subject, after Glenn Beck suggested that McCain would have been worse for the country than Obama. Ain’t so, although it certainly is comforting to believe it.

Stephen Bainbridge:

Ronald Reagan successfully rebranded the conservative movement as one with a big tent. Why exclusionists like Dan Riehl want to turn it into a small tent movement puzzles me. If they think there is a conservative majority in this country, they’re dead wrong–and their narrow views on issues like immigration, gay rights, and so on are helping make sure there never will be one. The US is a center-right country, with at most maybe 35% ideological conservatives, and a lot of them want the government to keep its hands off their Medicare! By letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, Riehl and his ilk are ensuring themselves of a pure minority. I guess it makes for good talk radio and blog posts, but it’s a lousy electoral strategy.

Riehl responds:

Let’s see. I once wrote an Examiner editorial on the need for something of a center-Right compromise on immigration I believe the majority of Americans would support. Way to do your research before attacking someone, perfessor!

I’m a large tent conservative and embrace civil unions as a compromise on gay marriage. I believe that also puts me in the majority in America, unlike wherever it is Stephen apparently rests – assuming we disagree. And I’ve never once called for the abolition ofMedicare and took Rand Paul to task for his failure to understand the finer points on Civil Rights issues. So, how the hell is it I am an intolerant exclusionist all of a sudden? Simply because we disagree?

WASHINGTON — Two important GOP constituencies, Big Business and Social Conservatives, are at odds over immigration reform. However, if both sides would take the time to actually understand each other, as opposed to hurling insults this way and that, they’d likely find common ground supported by their mostly conservative beliefs.

Castle voted to gut the Tea Party movement with the Disclose Act. He supports Cap and Trade and regulating green house gases because he’s bought and paid for by the banking lobby. They would get fat on a brand new huge Commodities Market and the middle class would foot the bill through costs, if not taxes – or both, with this administration.

Conservatives haven’t won anything. Crist could still win, as could Harry Reid. Throw a liberal Republican into that mix and you could easily have a Senate happy to throw in with the Dems and Obama, creating a big enough rift that the Right would split, dooming the GOP. The base is only willing to tolerate so much at this point.

Doug Mataconis:

The Republican party wasn’t always this way, of course. As Professor Bainbridge points out, there was a time not too long ago when it was the home of conservatives like Paul Laxalt and moderate Republicans like William Cohen. If it’s ever going to be the kind of national party capable of getting it’s agenda through Congress, it’s going to need to be that kind of party again, and that means acknowledging the fact that Mike Castle is the kind of Republican that can be elected statewide in Delaware, and Christine O’Donnell, as she has proven time and again in her quixotic efforts to run for office, most definitely is not.

Purism is a fine thing, it’s even got a nobility of its own, but when it becomes this rigid it just leads to defeat.

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You May Be A Gen-Xer If You Get Why This Art Accompanies This Post

Frank Newport at Gallup:

Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP’s largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

Gallup’s tracking goes back to 1950; the largest lead was 32 percentage points in favor of Democrats in July 1974, before Richard Nixon resigned over Watergate.

Are the new numbers evidence of a galvanized GOP base in already-conservative districts or a general Republicanizing of the country? Tough to know, but probably some (or a lot) of both

Allah Pundit:

To put this in perspective, until this month, the biggest lead the GOP had held in the history of Gallup’s polling was … five points. Why the eeyorism, then? Well, (a) Rasmussen has new generic ballot numbers out today too and the GOP’s actually lost a few points since last week, driving them down to their smallest lead since mid-July. Not sure how to square that with Gallup, especially since Ras polls likely voters and Gallup polls registered voters. The enthusiasm gap should mean a bigger spread among the former than the latter (and until today, it has), and if Gallup’s numbers are merely a reaction to last week’s dismal economic news, it’s surpassingly strange that the same reaction isn’t showing up in Rasmussen. Also, (b) Gallup’s generic-ballot polling has already produced one freaky outlier this summer. Granted, today’s numbers are more credible because they’re part of a trend, but read this Jay Cost piece about how bouncy Gallup’s numbers have historically been at times. Hmmmm.

Neil Stevens at Redstate:

This Gallup result is so large, I had to see what it shows in the Swingometer. As always, I boil it down to two party results. In 2008 we had a 56 D – 44 R split, and this Gallup simplifies to a 45 D – 55 R split. So the swing is from a D+12 to an R+10, or a 22 point swing.

So right now, that means Gallup of all polls, using Registered Voters, is projecting in the Swingometer a 60 seat Republican gain for a 238 R-197 D majority. The last time an election took the Democrats that low was the election of 1946, saith Wikipedia. Election night in 2004 took them to 202 for the second lowest.

Rasmussen today, by contrast, shows only a 20 point swing, a 57 seat Republican gain, and a 235 R – 200 D majority, still lower than an election since Truman has taken the House Democrats. If I then take the mean of these two and double weight the Rasmussen Likely Voter poll, I get R+58, the new projection.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

The “enthusiasm gap” is even more pronounced. Gallup finds that Republicans are now twice as likely as Democrats to be “very” enthusiastic about voting come November, the largest such advantage of the year.

I’m obliged to add that anything can happen during the next two months. But more than any old thing will be required if the Democrats are to avoid a crushing defeat at the end of those two months.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard

Doug Mataconis:

The biggest problem for the Democrats is that there seem to be very few things that can happen between now and Election Day that can reverse the Republican momentum. The latest round of economic reports seem to establish fairly clearly that the economy is likely to remain flat or depressed during that time period and I doubt we’ll be getting any good news out of the jobs report that will be released this coming Friday, and it is primarily the economy that is driving voter anger at this point in time. Outside of some massive scandal that hurts Republicans or an international crisis that causes the public to rally around the President, both of which are unlikely, the pattern we’re in now is likely to be the one we’re in on Election Day. That’s bad news if you’re a Democrat.

UPDATE: Nate Silver at NYT

Noam Scheiber at TNR

Jim Antle at The American Spectator

Hugh Hewitt

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Race To The Unemployment Office

New Jersey Online:

Gov. Chris Christie fired state education commissioner Bret Schundler this morning after Schundler refused to resign in the wake of the controversy over the state’s loss of up to $400 million in federal school funding.

“I was extremely disappointed to learn that the videotape of the Race to the Top presentation was not consistent with the information provided to me,” Christie said in a press release. “As a result, I ordered an end to Bret Schundler’s service as New Jersey’s Education Commissioner and as a member of my administration.”

A deputy commissioner will be named acting commissioner while the governor searches for the next person to fill the $141,000-a-year position, two officials briefed on the situation said.

Rich Bagger, Christie’s chief of staff, asked Schundler to resign on Thursday evening because he “misled” the governor and senior staff about what happened during a presentation in Washington, D.C., the officials said.

On Wednesday, Christie publicly said Schundler had tried to give the correct information to a bungled question during the presentation, but video from the U.S. Department of Education released Thursday proved that did not happen.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Upon posting the YouTube clip yesterday of a Chris Christie press conference, I remarked how Christie had impressively turned the tables on an issue that could have embarrassed him. A clerical error by his education department–failing to list 2008-2009 funding levels–resulted in the loss of $400 million in federal education funding. Why, Christie asked, didn’t an Obama administration bureaucrat just pick up the phone and ask New Jersey’s education department for the right number?

Well, NJ.com reports, it turns out the feds asked Christie’s education director for the number in person, and he failed to correct the application

Ed Morrissey:

Christie had relied on Schundler’s insistence that his team had provided the data to the Obama administration to blast the White House for being too rigid about paperwork rather than relying on the data.  The Department of Education responded by publishing the review video, putting Christie in a tough spot.  He had little choice but to give a strong reaction to the revelation.

Not that Schundler didn’t deserve it, if the evidence is complete.  Not only did his team botch the presentation, he apparently deceived his boss about the situation rather than just admit to the error.  Executives can deal with failure, but deception is another thing entirely.  If an executive can’t trust his staff, then he or she has to find replacements more worthy of trust.  That’s probably more true in politics than in the private sector, but it’s true enough in all arenas to know that Schundler couldn’t expect to keep his job after this.

By taking action, Christie can minimize the embarrassment, but it’s not going to be an overall plus for him; it will just limit the damage and bring the incident to a swift conclusion.

The Rachel Maddow Show Blog:

The Star-Ledger further explains,

Ousted state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler today said he asked Gov. Chris Christie to be fired from the work he considered his “life’s dream,” rather than resign, so he could receive unemployment benefits to pay his bills.

Apparently Schundler, “once hailed as a rising star in conservative circles,” has gained a new appreciation for taking advantage of federal assistance.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Back in the day Brett Schundler was the rising star of the NJ GOP, making his mark as the uber-conservative Mayor heavily Democratic Jersey City. He made his name in the ‘cut every benefit cut every everything’ wing of the party.

But today when Gov. Christie (R) asked him for his resignation as state Ed Commissioner result of errors and misrepresentations from Schundler in a matter costing the state $400 million in federal “Race to the Top” money he asked if he could be fired instead so he could collect unemployment benefits.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

Schundler is the former mayor of Jersey City (a Democratic city) and a candidate for Governor in 2001.

Christie does hold Schundler accountable for what he calls “lying to me,” but hasn’t held himself accountable for publicly siding with Schundler before getting independent verification of the facts. As the Star-Ledger editorial board says, “Schundler may not be at fault in this latest episode. The governor is the one who made the false claim.”

But accountability doesn’t reach to the top, at least not in New Jersey.

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The Speaking Of The Rauf

Pam Geller:

The media frenzy to destroy good, decent Americans who oppose a 15-story mega-mosque on Ground Zero is rabid. Even for them. Despite red flags everywhere and the nationwide grief caused by this grotesque act of Islamic supremacism, why isn’t the media doing its job, investigative journalism?

Instead, the morally ill media is in full-on operational smear machine mode in the raging war of ideas, the information battle space, the objective of which is to erect the Ground Zero mega mosque. Tolerance is a crime when applied to evil (Thomas Mann). Whilst the NY Times front page spins interfaith yarns into PR gold faster than Rumpelstiltskin and accords godlike status to Imam Feisal Rauf, new audio surfaces. Here are a couple of soundbites of tolerance:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf: “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.

No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. No mention of the recent slaughter by Muslims of Christians, Hindus, Jews, non-believers in Indonesia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Somalia, Philippines, Lebanon, Israel, Russia, China……………. no candor, no criticism of Islam.

Andy McCarthy at The Corner:

At Atlas Shrugs, Pamela Geller has uncovered audio of imam Feisal Rauf, the man behind the Ground Zero mosque, making public statements in which he opines that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”

There’s more . . . and it’s here. YouTube video link is here.

The Jawa Report:

Once again, this is not evidence that Rauf is an extremist wolf in moderate sheep’s clothing. For Muslims, the idea that US foreign policy is hostile to Muslims and that Americans don’t care about the deaths of innocents is widely held. By definition, this makes Rauf’s opinion mainstream in most majority Muslim countries.

On other issues, Rauf would be considered quite liberal in the Muslim community.

But to equivocate between the intentional killing of civilians by al Qaeda and the unintended killing of civilians by the US is worse than wrong — it is evil.

Yes, we kill civilians sometimes. That is truly one of the many sad realities of warfare.

When al Qaeda kills civilians they not only do it intentionally, but they also celebrate it.

No one in the West praises the Predator drone operator who accidentally blows up a wedding party. We think of such acts as the regrettable but inevitable outcome of war.

But in many parts of the Muslim world “The Magnificient 19” — the men who carried out the 9/11 attacks — are praised as heroes and martyrs.

I heard someone on the radio today (Hannity or Rush?) make a good point about this. He mentioned that Rauf’s equivocation seemed very much in line with Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s theory of America. Which may be why Obama’s State Department has no problem with paying for this guy to go on a goodwill mission to the Muslim world. If these are the kinds of speeches he has been delivering, then of course they will like what he is saying!

Let me add that the SOB still has a right to build a mosque wherever the hell he wants. Even the Nazis have that right.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

If someone wants to argue that the sanctions regime on Iraq was counterproductive, because Saddam’s regime simply seized the resources they needed and let the Iraqi people suffer and starve, that’s a fair point. Madeline Albright’s comment that containing Saddam was “worth it” — i.e., the death of Iraqi children — was idiotic. But to suggest that the indirect effects of a U.S. sanctions regime is remotely morally comparable to al-Qaeda’s deliberate mass murder — much less to suggest that they are morally worse — is to eviscerate one’s claim to be moderate, pro-American, or sensible. He says it is a “difficult subject to discuss with Western audiences.” Does he ever wonder why?

From this audio, we can conclude that Rauf has a gentle tone of voice. But that does not mean that his words are gentle.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

[…] Rauf uses the word “innocent” only in the part about non-Muslim blood. But I doubt he would have drawn the comparison unless he believed that the U.S. is culpable in something like the same way as al Qaeda for wrongful killing.

Indeed, the Muslim blood Rauf refers to is that of “innocents”; specifically Iraqi children he says died as a result of American sanctions. Rauf not only fails to mention that the sanctions were designed to undermine one of the most unjust and bloodthirsty regimes of modern times, he proceeds to take the U.S. to task for “its contribution to injustice in the Arab world.” By overlooking the injustice of Saddam Hussein, and failing to acknowledge our efforts against that tyrant, Rauf reveals himself to be an anti-American ideologue, an apologist for al Qaeda, and a charlatan.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Yes, U.S. taxpayers are spending $16,000 so Rauf can spread his “moderate” message.

Alex Massie:

I continue to be impressed by how thin the case against Faisal Abdul Rauf is. You’d have thought that by now the staunch defenders of liberty crazies would have found either a smoking gun or a ticking bomb. To be fair, Pamela Geller* certainly thinks she has found evidence that he’s just as bad as his critics would have us believe. Or maybe even – and this may make your (my!) weak dhimmi-flesh creep – worse

But, actually, all she has unearthed from a 2005 talk Rauf gave to, of all places, the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, is evidence that Faisal Abdul Rauf could be considered a neoconservative. That is, he shares a central neoconservative insight:

How many of you have seen the documentary: Fahrenheit 911? The vast majority – at least half here. Do you remember the scene of the Iraqi woman whose house was bombed and she was just screaming, “What have they done.” Now, I don’t know, you don’t know Arabic but in Arabic it was extremely powerful. Her house was gone. Her husband, I think, was killed. What wrong did he do? I found myself weeping when I watched that scene and I imagined myself if I were a 15-year old nephew of this deceased man, what would I have felt?
Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It’s hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?

Emphasis added. This is a core tenet of neoconservative foreign policy thought (and, in my view, a salient point too). Condi Rice made a famous speech making exactly this point and acknowledging that there was a terrible disconnect between proclaiming the universality of human rights, self-determination and freedom of expression and yet also propping-up ghastly, coercive, dictatorial regimes across the middle east for fear something worse might succeed them were those great American ideals and principles given free expression.There were – and are – good, or to put it differently, expedient, reasons for US policy and true too the evangelism of the Bush administration might have been both too optimistic (or naive) and, in the end, awful precisely because in the end it accepted that the bastards we know, for all their bastardy, may be better than the bastard nutters that might follow them.

Nevertheless, Imam Rauf shares at least some of the Bush administration’s diagnosis of the pathologies afflicting much f the middle east.

So how does Pamela Geller characterise this statement? “And the Imam is conspiracy theorist – 911 was an inside job.” I don’t actually understand how you get from watching Fahrenheit 9/11 (for all its many faults) to here. Then again, Geller does seem to have a curious interpretation of these matters. So when Rauf says:

“We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.

Well, you or I or any other ordinary person might think this a statement of the, alas, bleeding obvious, Geller thinks it needs to be glossed, thus: No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. Never mind that it’s obvious that Rauf is talking about the post-9/11 world, not the 750 years before the United States even existed.Needless to say Andy McCarthy thiks this means Rauf is saying US Worse than al-Qaeda when, clearly, he’s not saying that at all. It is, I think, incontestable that the United States and its allies have killed more Muslim civilians than al-Qaeda have killed non-muslims since 9/11. Noting this has precisely zero impact on one’s views of the wars or their righteousness.

Rauf, in fact, seems to have some understanding that empathy – which is not the same thing as either agreement or, for that matter, “appeasement” – is a useful quality when it comes to foreign policy:

The West needs to begin to see themselves through the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world, and when you do you will see the predicament that exists within the Muslim community.

This, quite evidently, does not mean that the west need agree with the arab world and nor is it a call for “surrender” or any such nonsense. Nor is it any kind of endorsement – if this needs to be pointed out – of the Wahhabist worldview.I suspect that I’d disagree with Faisal Abdul Rauf on a good number of issues. But his opponents – who have had ample opportunity to discover all that’s bad about him – have, to my mind, singularly failed to produce any real and damning evidence against him. Surely they can do better than this and if, in time, they do then I’ll be happy to change my mind even if my understanding of the First Amendment would require me to support his plan even if I were more strongly disapproving of it.

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Not A Muslim… Wash, Rinse, Repeat… Not A Muslim… Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Pew:

A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined. More than a year and a half into his presidency, a plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows.

A new national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is. The survey was completed in early August, before Obama’s recent comments about the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center.

The view that Obama is a Muslim is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers. Roughly a third of conservative Republicans (34%) say Obama is a Muslim, as do 30% of those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance. But even among many of his supporters and allies, less than half now say Obama is a Christian. Among Democrats, for instance, 46% say Obama is a Christian, down from 55% in March 2009.

The belief that Obama is a Muslim has increased most sharply among Republicans (up 14 points since 2009), especially conservative Republicans (up 16 points). But the number of independents who say Obama is a Muslim has also increased significantly (up eight points). There has been little change in the number of Democrats who say Obama is a Muslim, but fewer Democrats today say he is a Christian (down nine points since 2009).

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

The Pew poll, as reported by the Associated Press, finds confusion about Obama’s most basic beliefs:

Americans increasingly are convinced — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion.

I love that “incorrectly.” The AP has evolved into an opinion machine, so it’s rare and a little startling to see it stand up so boldly for a “fact.” He’s not a Muslim, dammit!

More on the poll data:

Nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 percent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who correctly say he is a Christian is down to just 34 percent.

The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don’t know his religion, an increase from the 34 percent who said that in early 2009. …

In a separate poll by Time magazine/ABT SRBI conducted Monday and Tuesday — after Obama’s comments about the mosque — 24 percent said they think he is Muslim, 47 percent said they think he is Christian and 24 percent didn’t know or didn’t respond.

So, what is going on here? First, we are seeing fallout from the Jeremiah Wright affair. I would never presume to pass judgment on Obama’s spiritual life. But one thing I will say with confidence: Jeremiah Wright is no Christian. His ideology of hate disqualifies him. So many millions of Americans, learning that Wright was Obama’s spiritual mentor, must have wondered where Obama himself was coming from. I think that is the main source of confusion, coupled with Obama’s lack of connection to any identifiable Christian tradition.

The second factor, I think, is Obama’s effort to project a post-American, above-America persona. Obama postures as a citizen of the world who has graced America by condescending to be our President and to instruct us. Some liberals accept this posturing gratefully, but most Americans don’t. Obama has defined himself as literally exotic. Small wonder that some Americans attribute exotic qualities to him. We’re not sure who he is, exactly, but he certainly isn’t one of us. Given the currents that swirl through world events these days, being a Muslim is one interpretation of Obama’s exoticism. Those who construe Obama in this way may well be wrong, but it is not hard to understand why they interpret his aloof non-Americanism in this way.

David Weigel on Hinderaker:

That’s some analysis, isn’t it? “Being a Muslim is one interpretation of Obama’s exoticism.” Of course: the Muslims who live in this country are un-American. Those Muslims who supported the War in Iraq? Probably un-American, just very, very sneaky. Muslims who donate to the GOP? Softening us up for the takeover, probably.  Those Muslims who died on 9/11? Let’s assume they were plants. To be American is to agree with John Hinderaker; to disagree is to be a Muslim.

I’m remembering what Sarah Palin said about the “mosque” that got liberals so angry: “peace-seeking Muslims, please understand, ground zero mosque is unnecessary provocation.” Implicit in that statement is the belief that there are “peace-seeking Muslims.” We’re learning about a lot of people who won’t go that far. They view Muslims the way that the czars used to view the Jews.

Adam Serwer at The American Prospect:

Hinderaker is mad that the AP isn’t reporting as fact an interpretation of a feeling that some conservatives have about “the currents that swirl through world events.” Feel free to snap your fingers when you’re done reading. As Dave Weigel writes, “To be American is to agree with John Hinderaker; to disagree is to be a Muslim.”

Still, I think on some level, Hinderaker is right. Some conservatives see Obama as being different from them, and they deploy “Muslim” as an epithet to express their suspicion and anger toward him. I’m sure part of it also has to do with conservative elites reinforcing or at least winking at the notion that Obama is being deceptive about his religious beliefs and that describing someone as a “Muslim” is some kind of an insult. As the Pew poll notes, “Beliefs about Obama’s religion are closely linked to political judgments about him. Those who say he is a Muslim overwhelmingly disapprove of his job performance, while a majority of those who think he is a Christian approve of the job Obama is doing.” In a less politically correct time they probably would have used a different word.

Amy Sullivan at Swampland at Time:

I’m going to repeat that because this is very unusual: a year and half after Obama moved into the White House, Americans are far less certain about who he is than they were during the campaign. That isn’t a good trend line for any political figure, but especially not the president. It may be appealing for an offbeat Hollywood actor or a reclusive writer to be seen as an enigma. But politics is a personal arena–voters like to feel that they can relate to a president or at the very least understand who he is. More dangerous for Obama is the fact that if a politician doesn’t define himself, his enemies are more than happy to do it for him. The Pew poll is evidence that the endless conservative media cycle of misinformation about Obama is working: of those respondents who identified Obama’s faith as Islam, 60% said they learned the “fact” from the media. (Note that the poll was conducted before Obama waded into the so-called Ground Zero mosque controversy.)

Barely one-third (34%) of Americans can correctly identify Obama as a Christian, compared to more than half (51%) who could do so during the 2008 campaign. But that huge drop isn’t driven primarily by Fox News true believers. (Let me pause for a moment here to say that it is of course not a smear to call someone a Muslim. It is, however, obnoxious to say someone is a member of a religious faith when he’s not–and to insist that he is not a member of the tradition he does claim. It would also be foolish and naive to pretend that conservatives who call Obama a Muslim are doing it in a neutral way and that their intention is not to raise questions about his “otherness.”)

Consider this: Less than half of Democrats (41%) know Obama is a Christian, down from 55% in March 2009. Barely four-in-ten African-Americans say he’s a Christian, down from 56% last year. The percentage of moderate and liberal Republicans who say Obama is a Christian has dropped by 27 points, but it’s not because they’re all now convinced he’s a Muslim. Instead, the percentage who just don’t know his religion has risen 19 points. “What the numbers say,” says Alan Cooperman of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “is that there’s a lot of uncertainty and confusion about the president’s religion.”

Where is this confusion coming from? I asked Cooperman, who suggested this explanation: “Part of what’s going on here may be that there’s been a relative–especially compared to the previous president–absence of information from the president himself and from the White House about his personal religion and his practice of his personal faith. In the relative vacuum of information, suggestions from the president’s critics have been able to gain more currency and uncertainty is rising.” I think that’s about right. Given how frequently and personally Obama spoke about his Christian faith during the Democratic primaries and the 2008 general election, his relative silence since moving into the White House has been puzzling. (White House aides point out that he has spoken about his faith on six different occasions, but several of those remarks–including his prayer breakfast comments–have been stilted and pro forma, especially compared with his impressive 2006 address on religion and politics.)

It also hasn’t helped that the First Family does not attend a church in Washington, DC and that the White House rushed to shoot down a story I reported last summer that the Obamas had decided to follow George W. Bush’s lead and make the Camp David chapel their primary place of worship. (Even though Obama subsequently confirmed the story in several different venues.)

The obvious question from all of this is: Does it really matter that people don’t know what religion the president practices? After all, roughly half of Americans say that Obama relies on his religious beliefs (even if they don’t know what those are) the right amount, just as half said the same thing about Bush. Those who don’t know what Obama’s faith is appear to be divided evenly on the question of whether they approve of his job performance. And it seems pretty clear that disliking Obama makes you more likely to believe he’s a Muslim, not the other way around.

[…]

One last note on another finding I found fascinating: Of those Americans who think Obama is a Muslim, nearly one-quarter (24%) told Pew pollsters they think he talks about his faith too much. Which is impossible, of course, because Obama is not a Muslim, so he’s spent exactly zero minutes talking about being one. What the result illustrates instead is how thoroughly those who oppose Obama are willing to read everything he says and does through a filter of distrust. Sixty percent of those who think Obama is a Muslim say they got that idea from the media. But interestingly, one-in-ten say they got it from Obama’s own behavior or words. They hear the Cairo speech or see the outreach to Muslim countries and assume, well of course, it’s because he’s Muslim. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t engage in the outreach–far from it. But it does make it even more important for the White House to offset those perceptions with a little more openness about the president’s real Christian faith.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard on Amy Sullivan:

Of course, Sullivan doesn’t point to any “conservative media” oulets that have pushed the claim Obama’s a Muslim in the past year. “The Emergence of President Obama’s Muslim Roots” was the title of an ABC News blog post from June 2009. Though the report was (unfairly) attacked by the left, it was actually a smart report on how Team Obama had shifted, in advance of the president’s visit to Cairo, from minimizing to touting Obama’s experiences in the Muslim world and with Muslim family members:

During a conference call in preparation for President Obama’s trip to Cairo, Egypt, where he will address the Muslim world, deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough said “the President himself experienced Islam on three continents before he was able to — or before he’s been able to visit, really, the heart of the Islamic world — you know, growing up in Indonesia, having a Muslim father — obviously Muslim Americans (are) a key part of Illinois and Chicago.”

Given widespread unease and prejudice against Muslims among Americans, especially in the wake of 9/11, the Obama campaign was perhaps understandably very sensitive during the primaries and general election to downplay the candidate’s Muslim roots.

The candidate was even offended when referred to by his initials “BHO,” because he considered the use of his middle name, “Hussein,” an attempt to frighten voters.

So maybe Obama’s embrace of his non-religious experiences with Islam helped cause this seven-point jump. Or perhaps, as Ben Smith speculates: “telling a pollster that Obama is a Muslim is just another way of expressing disapproval.” Or maybe more people think Obama’s a Muslim because he doesn’t go to church and doesn’t talk about Jesus like he did on the campaign trail, as Time‘s Sullivan reasonably observes later in her blog post.Whatever the reason for the uptick in this poll and confusion in general about Obama’s religion, it doesn’t seem to be a sign that “a lot of people” in America “view Muslims the way that the czars used to view the Jews,” as Slate blogger David Weigel writes.

Doug Mataconis:

We can find examples of stupid or at least ignorant voters who believe that it’s true and who voted or will vote against Barack Obama solely because they think he’s a “secret Muslim.”It’s a vile smear for two reasons.

The first, of course, is because it’s untrue.

The second reason, though, is more subtle.

In the end, there’s no difference between suggesting Barack Obama is a Muslim and calling into question the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, or the Catholic faith of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and, before, him, Al Smith, who likely lost the 1928 Presidential Election because of his Catholic faith. Of course, Romney is a Mormon and Kennedy and Smith were Catholic, but the sentiment is exactly the same — those who continue to spread the Obama is a Muslim lie do so on the assumption, if not the hope, that people will excerise religious prejudice toward Obama because they think he’s a Muslim.

It’s religious intolerance, pure and simple. It’s the same form of idiocy demonstrated by a Republican Congressman from Virginia who went insane over exploited like a bigoted demagogue the fact that America’s first Muslim Congressman wanted to take his oath of office on the Koran.

And, it’s a far cry from the wise words of Sage of Monticello:

[I]t does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

By spreading the Obama-is-a-Muslim lie, people are saying  that a person’s religion should disqualify them per se from public office.

Quite honestly, I can’t think of anything more un-American.

John Pitney at The Corner:

As Ross Douthat pointed out several weeks ago, these findings should not surprise anyone. Surveys have long reported that Americans “don’t know . . . basic facts about their country and the world.” Up to ten percent of the public is unaware that Hawaii is part of the United States — perhaps these same folks heard that the president was born in Honolulu and drew their own conclusions.

But the administration is pushing back. According to the New York Times, a Christian pastor telephoned a reporter at the behest of the White House and declared, “I must say, never in the history of modern-day presidential politics has apresident confessed his faith in the Lord, and folks basically call him a liar.”

The pastor is mistaken. In 1984, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro said that President Reagan “walks around calling himself a good Christian but I don’t for one minute believe it, because the policies are so terribly unfair.”

UPDATE: John Dickerson at Slate

Ann Althouse

UPDATE #2: Ann Coulter at Townhall

David Kopel on Coulter

Instapundit

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