Tag Archives: Jules Crittenden

Journolist Strikes Again!

Jonathan Strong at Daily Caller:

Katha Pollitt – Hayes’s colleague at the Nation – didn’t disagree on principle, though she did sound weary of the propaganda. “I hear you. but I am really tired of defending the indefensible. The people who attacked Clinton on Monica were prissy and ridiculous, but let me tell you it was no fun, as a feminist and a woman, waving aside as politically irrelevant and part of the vast rightwing conspiracy Paula, Monica, Kathleen, Juanita,” Pollitt said.

“Part of me doesn’t like this shit either,” agreed Spencer Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent. “But what I like less is being governed by racists and warmongers and criminals.”

Ackerman went on:

I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.

Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren’t racists. “We’ll know who doesn’t deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it.” He also said he had begun to implement his plan. “I previewed it a bit on my blog last week after Commentary wildly distorted a comment Joe Cirincione made to make him appear like (what else) an antisemite. So I said: why is it that so many on the right have such a problem with the first viable prospective African-American president?”

Several members of the list disagreed with Ackerman – but only on strategic grounds.

“Spencer, you’re wrong,” wrote Mark Schmitt, now an editor at the American Prospect. “Calling Fred Barnes a racist doesn’t further the argument, and not just because Juan Williams is his new black friend, but because that makes it all about character. The goal is to get to the point where you can contrast some _thing_ — Obama’s substantive agenda — with this crap.”

(In an interview Monday, Schmitt declined to say whether he thought Ackerman’s plan was wrong. “That is not a question I’m going to answer,” he said.)

Kevin Drum, then of Washington Monthly, also disagreed with Ackerman’s strategy. “I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Obama is trying (or says he’s trying) to run a campaign that avoids precisely the kind of thing Spencer is talking about, and turning this into a gutter brawl would probably hurt the Obama brand pretty strongly. After all, why vote for him if it turns out he’s not going change the way politics works?”

But it was Ackerman who had the last word. “Kevin, I’m not saying OBAMA should do this. I’m saying WE should do this.”

More Strong

Instapundit:

Those who suspected that the media was collaborating to spin the coverage in Obama’s favor were righter than they knew. . . .

Andrew Breitbart at Big Journalism:

American journalism died a long time ago; today Tucker Carlson got around to running the obituary. What The Daily Caller has unearthed proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that most media organizations are either complicit by participation in the treachery that is Journolist, or are guilty of sitting back and watching Alinsky warfare being waged against all that challenged the progressive orthodoxy. The scandal predictably involves journalists posing as professors posing as experts. But dressed down they are nothing but street thugs. They deserve the deepest levels of public consternation. We must demand that they do.

The only way that the media will recover from the horrifying discoveries found in the Journolist is to investigate and investigate until every guilty reporter, professor and institution is laid bare begging America for forgiveness. Will they do it?

If the powers that be don’t comply with this demand, we can always call Jonathan Alter and Eric Alterman racists.*

The media is filled with left-wing activists.

The race card is the first and last refuge of liberal scoundrels.

The race-card playing liberals in the media tried their best to whitewash Barack Obama’s radical ties to Jeremiah Wright and other race demagogues.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, but it’s always useful to see all the plotting and evidence in writing.

Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media:

And don’t forget to have CNN declare their network a “Wright-Free Zone” — a week after praising to the hilt Wright’s performance at the annual convention of the NAACP.

Matt Welch at Reason:

Ackerman’s characteristically juvenile bravado did draw JournoList rebukes from Mark Schmitt and Kevin Drum, the Daily Caller reported. Read the whole thing here; Reason on JournoList here.

As this whole episode describes a world utterly alien to me–listservs, major-party affiliation, political team identity, desire to help out politicians–I am experiencing this mostly as a consumer of entertainment news (with the caveat that I have met several of the people involved). There is a certain poetry, however, to seeing Joe Conason’s name associated with it all.

Ben Domenech at The New Ledger:

Fred Barnes is a devout Christian and a gentleman, a respected writer who has never given any indication of racist views. The fact that Ackerman would recommend this wrathful and baseless attack isn’t surprising. But it does say something about membership in the menagerie of tame conservatives that where Barnes is maligned by the Left, Douthat is exempted.

Mona Charen at NRO

Jules Crittenden:

The best defense is to be offensive. It’s what wriggles when you lift the JournoList rock. Chatter at Memeorandum. Spencer “Call them Racists” Ackerman’s FDL site here. At Wired here. At last check, crickets in response. Maybe because a good character assassination plot, as the DailyCaller’s reporting illustrates, takes planning. It’ll be interesting to see if Wired wants to keep a scribbler who tried to influence a national election by engineering unwarranted venal ad-hominem attacks.

HotAir: The objections weren’t whether it was right or not. They were about whether it would work.

National Review: The well-worn accusation of racism has been losing its punch. But rarely do we see the motivation so baldly stated.

Hey, if they keep it up, maybe we will end up post-racial. And post-racialist, starting with Ackerman. It would be kind of ironic if the only character that ended up getting assassinated out of all that plotting is his own.

Salon scribbler doesn’t see what the big deal is with liberals plotting to randomly smear Republicans as racist in order to divert attention from a presidential candidate’s distracting racist problem. After all, belief in Republican racism is a liberal given. Which makes it OK.

Moderate Voice: Just because the right-wing is paranoid doesn’t mean the lefty media wasn’t out to get them. (To TMV’s credit, that’s not exactly how they put it.)

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:

I think we’re finally getting to a point where the overuse of the “racism” charge since Barack Obama became president has weakened its sting. This story should weaken it further, as it reveals how comfortable some of our most passionate racism watchdogs are with sowing racial discord for partisan advantage.

I think this is healthy—for those falsely accused, for the political process, for race relations, and for those who suffer real racism of the sort that’s not immediately politically useful to a listserv of mostly white journalists in Washington, D.C.

UPDATE: Strong here and here

Ann Althouse

Matt Welch at Reason

Ezra Klein

Jeffrey Goldberg

Byron York at The Washington Examiner

Nate Silver

Conor Friedersdorf at The American Scene

UPDATE #2: More Strong

Matthew Yglesias

Jim Lindgren

Ed Morrissey

Joe Klein at Swampland at Time

Andrew Sullivan

Jonathan Chait at TNR

UPDATE #3: More Strong

Ed Morrissey

DRJ at Patterico

Jonathan Zasloff

UPDATE #4: Bill Scher and Conor Friedersdorf at Bloggingheads

UPDATE #5: Roger Simon at Politico

Alex Pareene at Salon

Dan Riehl

Greg Sargent

UPDATE #6: Reihan Salam at Daily Beast

Heather Horn at The Atlantic

UPDATE #7: Instapundit

UPDATE #8: Michelle Goldberg and Dayo Olopade at Bloggingheads

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Day 2: So Far, So Thurgood

Dana Milbank at WaPo:

Oppo researchers digging into Elena Kagan‘s past didn’t get the goods on the Supreme Court nominee — but they did get the Thurgood.

As confirmation hearings opened Monday afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.

“Justice Marshall’s judicial philosophy,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, “is not what I would consider to be mainstream.” Kyl — the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event — was ready for a scrap. Marshall “might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge,” he said.

It was, to say the least, a curious strategy to go after Marshall, the iconic civil rights lawyer who successfully argued Brown vs. Board of Education. Did Republicans think it would help their cause to criticize the first African American on the Supreme Court, a revered figure who has been celebrated with an airport, a postage stamp and a Broadway show? The guy is a saint — literally. Marshall this spring was added to the Episcopal Church’s list of “Holy Women and Holy Men,” which the Episcopal Diocese of New York says “is akin to being granted sainthood.”

With Kagan’s confirmation hearings expected to last most of the week, Republicans may still have time to make cases against Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Gandhi.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs:

The GOP in Texas pushed hard to get Thurgood Marshall removed from social studies textbooks, and today I watched in absolute disgust as the GOP in Washington actually smeared Thurgood Marshall during Kagan’s nomination hearing.

Steve Benen:

I often find Republican ideology to be rather twisted, but it simply never occurred to me that GOP senators would spend the first day of the confirmation hearings condemning one of the most venerated Supreme Court justices in American history.

But condemn they did. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) declared Marshall “a judicial activist.” So did Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Marshall’s approach to the law “does not comport with the proper role of a judge or judicial method.”

Better yet, this was a coordinated attack — Republican aides circulated materials to reporters during the hearing detailing all of the things the GOP doesn’t like about Thurgood Marshall.

Christina Bellantoni put together an interesting count — while President Obama’s name came up 14 times yesterday, Thurgood Marshall’s name came up 35 times.

It’s quite a strategy Republicans have put together here, isn’t it? Unable to come up with a coherent line of attack to undermine this nominee, the GOP has decided to turn its guns on an iconic civil rights attorney and one of the more celebrated American heroes of the 20th century.

And the Republican Party’s outreach to minority communities suffers yet another setback.

Jules Crittenden:

Various mystified parties are denouncing GOP attacks on Thurgood Marshall’s expansive judicial activism … on the bizarre grounds that his status as the nation’s first black Supreme Court justice has literally made him a saint and makes his positions unassailable* … and are wondering what any of that has to do with his former law clerk in the current Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. Though when you consider her own position — a sort of looking-glass support for discrimination vs. discrimination at Harvard — it gets to the heart of the matter. Does she in fact think some forms of discrimination are constitutional, and some political positions are not only above the law, but above the interests of national security in wartime, and as Harvard apparently thinks given its willingness to accept federal money and ROTC tuitions despite its active opposition to the military over the federal government’s congressionally passed, Clinton-signed DADT policy, that principles are principles and money is money, and one shouldn’t get in the way of the other?

* Milbank has a point, though. Hagiophobia will get the GOP nowhere in this case.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

During questioning by Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy this morning, Elena Kagan defended the policy she upheld at Harvard of keeping military recruiters out of the office of career services.

“I’m confident that the military had access to our students and our students had access to the military throughout my entire deanship,” Kagan said. She defended the anti-military policy:

“This was a balance for the law school because on the one hand we wanted to make abo sure that our students did have access to the military at all times, but we did have a very longstanding, going back to the 1970s, anti-discrimination policy, which said that no employer could use the office of career services if that employer would not sign a non-discrimination pledge, that applied to many categories–race, and gender and sexual orientation, and actually veteran status as well. And the military could not sign that pledge … because of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy.”

As many people have pointed out, the military’s policy on gays in the military is based on a law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, for whom Kagan worked. Why were other federal government officials not similarly discriminated against by Harvard?

Jonathan Adler:

I’ve contributed some initial reactions to the Washington Post’s online “Topic A” feature on the Kagan nomination hearings.  The general thrust of my remarks is that the Kagan hearings, thus far, are much like what we’ve come to expect in that she’s dutifully avoided revealing much about her personal legal views, despite her 1995 essay urging greater candor by nominees and more searching interrogation by Senators.  I also note that Kagan, much like Sotomayor, has refused to defend a “progressive” constitutional vision, whether that articulated by the President or her onetime-mentor Justice Thurgood Marshall.

One of the other contributors to the feature, Walter Dellinger, has a contrary view. I suspect part of our difference comes from the fact that Kagan has not offered the stilted, almost scripted, responses to questions about judicial philosophy that made her sound like a John Roberts wannabe (and demoralized some liberal legal thinkers).  Kagan has spoken more broadly about the judicial role, but without saying much that could be used to pin her down on her views of constitutional interpretation, let alone specific issues or cases.  She’s also proclaimed that “we are all originalists” and that empathy should not play much of a role in judicial decision-making because “it’s law all the way down.”

The most interesting parts of the hearings to me thus far — and it’s still early — have been the exchanges discussing Citizens United and other cases she’s handled as Solicitor General.  Here Kagan sought to discuss her decisions in these cases without revealing too much about how she might view similar cases that might come before the Court.  I’ve found these exchanges more interesting than those on, say, her handling of the military at Harvard or her various White House memos.

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We’ve Got Your Gaffes Right Here, Part #4

Real Clear Politics:

Joe Biden calls a custard store manager a “smartass” after he asks the Vice President to lower taxes.

Rick Moran:

Vice President Joe Biden stopped for some custard while campaigning for Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. When he asked the store manager how much, the unimpressed citizen told him it was free. “Just lower our taxes,” he said.

Biden’s response is the latest exhibit for why these arrogant philistines should be kicked out of government and prevented from holding any position of responsibility in our republic ever again:


“What do we owe you?” Biden is heard saying in footage captured by WISN-TV.
“Don’t worry, it’s on us,” the manager replied. “Lower our taxes and we’ll call it [the custard] even.”

“Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?” Biden said a few minutes later.

Biden had walked in to Kopp’s mistakenly asking for ice cream instead of custard.

The manager said later in an interview with WISN that he thought Biden didn’t seem happy initially about the taxes comment, but that the vice president later whispered that he was just kidding.

No doubt Biden was “just kidding” once he thought about how it would look calling a voter a smartass. It is equally clear that he meant it when he said it. The sense of entitlement and arrogant elitism shown by Biden is shared by his boss and most of the Democrats in Congress.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit

Jules Crittenden:

Sounds like we have nothing to despair over but despair itself. If it were coming from anyone but Vice-President “Who’s That,” I’d be more concerned. Then again, given his backseat driving role in the admin, maybe he knows what he’s talking about. From the mouths of geezers …

James Richardson at Redstate:

Some have already said the Kopps manager is to Joe Biden what Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher is to President Barack Obama, who gained national attention after he questioned the Democratic presidential candidate’s tax policies.

The Vice President was in town to campaign for Senator Russ Feingold, who polls show running even with Republican challenger Ron Johnson. At a Friday fundraiser, Biden told a crowd of donors “there’s no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession.”

No doubt Kopps’ manager has some suggestions for the administration.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

Everyone involved laughed it off, but a serious point lingered. A simple way to think about the Democratic Party is, you’re the human being, they’re the tapeworm. Yet they claim a weird sort of parasite’s moral superiority over you: if you point out that they have their hand in your pocket, you’re a “smartass.” The Democratic Party needs to be torn, root and branch, from our public life.

James Joyner:

Hinderaker has a lengthy analysis, much of which is unreadable because ad advertisement is wreaking havoc with the video’s placement, as to why lower taxes would help unemployment.

But something doesn’t compute here:   If the business owner wants his taxes lowered, why is he hosting a campaign event for Russ Feingold? His views on the matter are rather well established at this point.

Ann Althouse:

Bite me. When the powerful seek to work their will upon us and demand that we be nice about it, that’s the right response: Bite me. Even if he were the one being nice about it, we shouldn’t have to put up with it without complaint.

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Diem, I Mean, Karzai? Part II

Dexter Filkins at NYT:

Two senior Afghan officials were showing President Hamid Karzai the evidence of the spectacular rocket attack on a nationwide peace conference earlier this month when Mr. Karzai told them that he believed the Taliban were not responsible.

“The president did not show any interest in the evidence — none — he treated it like a piece of dirt,” said Amrullah Saleh, then the director of the Afghan intelligence service.

Mr. Saleh declined to discuss Mr. Karzai’s reasoning in more detail. But a prominent Afghan with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Karzai suggested in the meeting that it might have been the Americans who carried it out.

Minutes after the exchange, Mr. Saleh and the interior minister, Hanif Atmar, resigned — the most dramatic defection from Mr. Karzai’s government since he came to power nine years ago. Mr. Saleh and Mr. Atmar said they quit because Mr. Karzai made clear that he no longer considered them loyal.

But underlying the tensions, according to Mr. Saleh and Afghan and Western officials, was something more profound: That Mr. Karzai had lost faith in the Americans and NATO to prevail in Afghanistan.

Joe Klein at Swampland at Time:

This confrontation between Karzai and his intelligence minisiter Amrullah Saleh–widely seen among the Americans as among the most competent members of Karzai government–has been the talk of Kabul and Washington this past week. My sources say that the confrontation got very hot, a major screaming match. My sources also say that Karzai’s insane accusation, that the U.S. conspired to launch rockets at his peace jirga, was more an outburst of unhinged fury than evidence of core paranoia. The real concern here is that the Karzai government may be splitting back into the same old Afghan factions: north versus south, Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance.

There is also an India versus Pakistan dimension here. The Pakistanis, who have significant influence over the Afghan Taliban, have been demanding that Saleh be sacked; they consider him an Indian agent (he was active in the Northern Alliance, which received support from India). Saleh was able to remain in his job, despite serious disagreements with Karzai, in part because he had the strong backing of the CIA. Karzai’s willingness to sack him, or let him resign, could well be a sign that Karzai is tilting toward Pakistan, which would be crucial if there is to be a rapprochment with the Taliban.

This is only the tip of a very distressing iceberg (or, given the locale, the leading edge of a blinding sandstorm). I’ll have more on it in my print column this week.

After several months of seeming to have calmed down in the wake of the uproar that followed his controversial, and most likely corrupted, election “victory,” it seems that Karzai has once against returned to the phlegmatic, seemingly irrational at times, behavior that we saw several months ago when he was doing things like threatening to join the Taliban. If nothing else, Karzai has proven that he is an unreliable “ally,” a fact which itself calls into question the entire reason for the American mission in Afghanistan, which at this point seems to be reduced to fighting the Taliban that Karzai threatened to join and propping up Karzai’s seemingly corrupt regime.

I’ve been asking for a couple years now what the heck we’re doing in Afghanistan, and when I see the leader of the nation we’re supposed to be defending acting like this, it just makes me wonder why we aren’t getting out of their faster.

Rich Lowry at The Corner:

Was just talking to someone following this situation closely, who thinks the thrust of this story may be slightly dated. He thinks that Karzai was somewhat reassured by his trip to Washington last month. But there’s no doubt that he’s hedging his bets.

Zach Rosenberg:

Karzai’s priorities are increasingly diverging from the U.S. The resignations of Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan’s national intelligence agency, and Hanif Atmar, the Minister of Interior, while supposedly connected to security lapses at the recent Peace Jirga in Kabul, hint at deeper problems. Saleh and Atmar were said to share key priorities with the U.S., and were widely acknowledged to be among the most reliable members of the Afghan government. As always, rumors are rife about the true instigation and meaning of their resignations, and one possible consequence is that Karzai gets more direct control over key security services. Karzai, who appointed one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords to chair the Peace Jirga, has never seemed especially enthusiastic about either the planned Kandahar offensive or the good governance meant to follow it.

The Kandahar offensive, and subsequent claims of success, appear to be a foregone conclusion. Based on past evidence, a strong Taliban presence and bad governance after the assault seem similarly inevitable. I plan to keep a close eye on Alex Strick’s Twitter feed when the time comes.

Spencer Ackerman:

Perhaps it’s time to put a sharper point on these two phenomena. The Obama administration decided last year to underscore to the Karzai government that the scope of its relationship with the U.S. needed to change. So out comes the July 2011 “inflection point,” a date to signal the beginning of the end of America bearing the lion’s share of the burden in the war, a beginning for transition to Afghan control, and a kick in the ass for the Karzai government to get around to governing.

But it’s an ambiguous date. The Obama administration adds that Afghanistan is going to be a strategic long-term partner long after the U.S. withdraws its troops, and everyone in NATO understands the money will keep flowing. Gen. McChrystal begins hugging Karzai even tighter, and the rest of the Obama administration eventually follows suit, recognizing that he’s the only game in town. So the political message is — to put it judiciously — subtle.

Maybe too subtle. Karzai’s most visible initiative following the announcement of the July 2011 date hasn’t been an intensified effort at governing, as we can see in Marja. It’s been to seek reconciliation with the Taliban through the Peace Jirga. And unsurprisingly, the Taliban isn’t interested. If you were a Taliban fighter, and you saw that the Karzai government wasn’t actually making itself more relevant to people’s lives in the areas in which you operate but it was dangling an olive branch before you, that would probably look like negotiating from the point of weakness. Why not just continue fighting when your enemy is weak and looking to sue for peace?

Maybe there’s a way to change Karzai’s behavior. The Kabul Conference may be an opportunity to underscore that reconciliation without intensified governance isn’t going to change insurgent calculations. Or maybe — as a diplomat argued to me yesterday — the governance effort is a lagging indicator that just takes more time to manifest than Washington-based jerks like me are willing to concede. And the logic of underscoring in a real way to Karzai that the U.S. isn’t writing a blank check anymore is compelling. But a preliminary assessment of the political utility of setting the July 2011 date is that it’s not having the intended effect on Afghan governance.

DRJ at Patterico:

Wars and allies are sometimes thrust upon us. Like him or not, Karzai’s support is vital to winning in Afghanistan but Obama has alienated him and is now stuck trying to climb back to where he began 18 months ago. Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan has become the longest-ever war America has fought and its monthly costs outpace the War in Iraq. It’s worth it if our leaders are committed to winning but it’s not clear they are.

It’s also interesting to watch President Obama repeatedly try to harange, intimidate and cajole foreign leaders into doing what he wants. It worked domestically. It’s not working as well outside the U.S.

Jules Crittenden:

Whatever happens in this three-quarters surge, in these talks with the Taliban and with Karzai’s government, the end state needs to al Qaeda destroyed or at least in a box. Neither of those things are going to happen if the Taliban gains any kind of role or leverage in government in anything but a severely diminished state. It also isn’t going to happen if we don’t have a long-term military presence in the area in some form.

So if Karzai has no confidence in the Americans, is actively seeking to undermine the Americans and the surge, and is interested in making nice with the Taliban indiscriminately, whether for some high ideals of peace or to save his own neck, what the heck do we, or Afghans who aren’t interested in that kind of arrangement, do about it.

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There Are Cordoba Guitars And Cordoba Houses

Dana Chivvis at Politics Daily:

A government group representing lower Manhattan voted last night in favor of plans to build a controversial mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site. After four hours of discussions between opponents and supporters of the proposed Muslim community center, called Cordoba House, the community board voted 29-to-1 in favor of the plans.

The vote is not binding in any way, but is seen as a gauge of public opinion. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn support the plans for the 13-story building, which would include a swimming pool, auditorium , exhibition space and as an area for worship.

Still, many others nationwide have voiced their opposition to the plans, saying the mosque will be an ugly reminder of the extremist ideology behind the terror attacks. Julie Menin, the community board chairwoman, told The New York Times she had received hundreds of calls and emails about the plans, most of which were from outside New York.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

My conservative cousin from New York writes:

Plans to build Cordoba House, a 15-story Islamic Center two blocks north of Ground Zero, received a major boost yesterday when a Manhattan community board backed the proposal by a 29-to-1 vote. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the center would help “bridge and heal a divide” among Muslims and other religious groups.

Perhaps the Imam is sincere but I find the whole project an outrage. The name Cordoba House at best conveys a total insensitivity to the families of victims of the attack at worse it shows sympathy with the terrorist’s goals. Cordoba, was the Capital of Al-Andalus the Islamic Caliphate that ruled much of Spain during the Middle Ages. One of Al-Qaida’s main goals announced after the 9/11 attack was the restoration of the Cordoba Caliphate in Al-Andalus.

The Project is said to cost $100 million and no one seems to know who is paying for all of this. There are hundreds of Mosques in the New York area in a nation dedicated to religious freedom. If the Imam wants to “bridge and heal a divide” among Muslims and other faiths he should look beyond Manhattan. There are no churches or synagogues in Mecca, Riyadh or Kuwait. In Egypt, Iran and other Islamic nations those who don’t adhere to Islam practice their faiths at great risk to themselves and their families. I don’t understand why Mayor Bloomberg and other local officials are supporting this project.

Can anyone explain?

I can’t. But the name of the Center should help increase our understanding of Islam.

Julie Marsh at The Stir:

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear up front: I’m no fan of Islam. Then again, I’m no fan of the Catholic church or fundamentalist Christianity either. I confess that Mormonism befuddles me, and I’m weirded out by Wicca.

But the First Amendment allows all of these religions and more to be practiced freely here in the United States. Meanwhile, the Fifth Amendment covers private property rights, among others.

Conservatives love to cite the Constitution when arguing a point, but in the case of the proposed Cordoba House community center in lower Manhattan, they’ve conveniently forgotten about both of these amendments.

First, I’d like to dispel some misinformation regarding this project. The site is not at ground zero, but a few blocks away — an existing building already owned by the two groups spearheading the project. It’s not set to open on September 11, 2011, but will take three to five years to complete. It’s not just a mosque but an entire community center, including “a performing arts center, swimming pool, culinary school, child care facilities … [and] it would provide 150 full-time jobs, 500 part-time jobs, and an investment of more than $100 million in infrastructure in the city’s financial district.”

The project sponsors voluntarily presented their plans to the Community Board of lower Manhattan on Wednesday, May 5; they did not have to do so. As board member Ro Sheffe noted, “They own the land, and their plans don’t have any zoning changes.” The board members present at the meeting voted unanimously to support the project.

Rod Dreher:

There are some things you just don’t do, no matter how well-intentioned. You may recall in 1993, Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns to remove themselves from a convent they established on the grounds of Auschwitz, after years of Jewish protest. Even though the Nazis did not massacre Jews there in the name of Christianity, Jews saw the presence of the convent on the most notorious site of the Holocaust as an affront. It was plainly not meant to be, but it was, and one can certainly understand why, given what happened on that site, and the history of anti-Semitism in European Christianity. If reconciliation and peace is what one wants to see between Jews and Christians in the Holocaust’s wake, erecting a site of Christian religious worship on the site where millions of European Jews were gassed and burned is not the way to do it.

Though the numbers of dead in the 9/11 attacks were incomparably smaller than the Holocaust, the inescapable fact is that those killings were carried out by Islamic religious fanatics who believed they were serving Islam through mass murder. Again, it would be very wrong to hold all Muslims responsible for what those monsters did. At the same time, however distorted the religious views of those terrorists may have been, it is deeply offensive to build a giant mosque in what would have been the shadows of the Twin Towers, had they not been brought down explicitly for the greater glory of Allah. I see the desire to erect such a building on that site not as a gesture of interreligious peace and reconciliation — which we need — but rather as an outrageous act of nerve and arrogance

Gabriel Winant at Salon:

Mark Williams, a Tea Party leader and Fox News commentator, wrote on his blog, “The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists’ monkey-god.” He added, “In the meantime I have a wonderful idea along the same lines as that mosque at Ground Zero thing… a nice, shiny new U.S. Military Base on the smoldering ruins of Mecca. Works for me!”

At WorldNetDaily, the Birther Web publication popular on the conservative fringe, an article, written in classic WND style, begins by acting like a straight report — albeit laced with purple prose about “that fateful day when time stood still.” Then author Chelsea Schilling moves on to ominously noting that building inspectors had trouble investigating construction complaints — almost as if somebody was hiding something. She finishes up by quoting a random selection of racist blog commenters: “Muslims are doing this only to see if they get away with it. It’s the way Islam spreads in every country these days, like a cancer — through incremental totalitarianism,” writes one. Another writes, “This is not different than allowing the Nazis to establish their headquarters and propaganda office in NYC in 1938. How come people could tell right from wrong then and not now?”

Lest you think it’s just anonymous trolls producing this stuff, though, check out Pamela Geller, the head of the group “Stop Islamization of America,” talking to Joy Behar on CNN. According to Geller, instead of a mosque, the site should be host to a monument to the “victims of hundreds of millions of years of jihadi wars, land enslavements, cultural annihilations and mass slaughter.”

You’d think someone who runs a group with “Islam” right in its name might know that the religion is about 1,400 years old — not “hundreds of millions.” I know that all that desert stuff seems super-ancient — “sands of time” and and all that — but honestly. “Hundreds of millions”? That’s way, way older than homo sapiens as a species. (Maybe that explains Williams’ “monkey god” reference?)

Then there’s Andy McCarthy, National Review writer and recent author of a book arguing that liberals are consciously conspiring to betray America to the ravenous Muslim horde. McCarthy recently pointed out on Fox News that there are 2,300 mosques in America, but no churches or synagogues in Muslim holy cities Mecca and Medina.

First of all, I think this fairly puts to rest any notion that the more militant strain of anti-Islamist hawkishness is anything other than full-scale, civilizational hatred. After this eruption, it’s going to be a stretch to take seriously claims that the interest of the right-wing base in armed conflict in the Middle East is about anything but an active desire for full-on race war. (I’ve taken some heat in the past for using this term, but I stand by it. The occurrence of the phrase “monkey god,” I think, makes my point rather neatly.) Moreover, it’s penetrated quite far into the mainstream of the right, with the flowering of a sub-literature that treats migration patterns and labor markets in Europe like they’re the secret plan for the conquest of Christendom.

In recent years, liberals have become fond of pointing out that this kind of belligerent overreaction to the terrorist threat is exactly what makes terrorism effective. It plays into the hands of Osama bin Laden to treat Islam like our foe in a global, apocalyptic struggle. That’s exactly how he sees it, and joining him in this fantasy endorses al-Qaida’s ideology.

This is a true and important point, pragmatically. But there’s something even worse going on here. It’s not just that Gellar, McCarthy, Williams and the rest in the War-with-Islam group are inadvertently playing into the hands of Islamic extremists. They are, exactly, their analogue within our own society. The same things that benefit Islamic radicals benefit anti-Islamic militants. Both groups feed off conflict, and prosper when violence erupts. Their only break from accusing Islam of guilt in wars and mass violence seems to come when they call for wars and mass violence against Muslims.

UPDATE: Pamela Geller at Big Government

Joe Klein at Swampland at Time

UPDATE #2: Michelle Malkin

Alex Pareene at Gawker

UPDATE #3: Charles Johnson at LGF on the ad

Greg Sargent

Jim Newell at Gawker

UPDATE #4: Stephen Schwartz at The Weekly Standard

Jules Crittenden

Scott Johnson at Powerline

UPDATE #5: Michelle Goldberg and Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloggingheads

UPDATE #6: Robert Wright on Schwartz in NYT

Jonathan Chait at TNR

Matthew Yglesias

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Video Killed The JihadTube Star

Maamoun Youssef at The Associated Press:

A U.S.-born cleric who has encouraged Muslims to kill American soldiers called for the killing of U.S. civilians in his first video released by a Yemeni offshoot of al-Qaida, providing the most overt link yet between the radical preacher and the terror group.

Dressed in a white Yemeni robe, turban and with a traditional jambiyah dagger tucked into his waistband, Anwar Al-Awlaki used the 45-minute video posted Sunday to justify civilian deaths — and encourage them — by accusing the United States of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

American civilians are to blame, he said, because “the American people, in general, are taking part in this and they elected this administration and they are financing the war.”

“Those who might be killed in a plane are merely a drop of water in a sea,” he said in the video in response to a question about Muslim groups that disapproved of the airliner plot because it targeted civilians.

Al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and is believed to be hiding in his parents’ native Yemen, has used his personal website to encourage Muslims around the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

The Jawa Report:

Jihadist forums, such as this one, announced the AQAP (alQaeda in the Arabic Pennisula) release of Awlaki interview, gave download links and voila it’s on JihadTube. Then on to embedding on websites such as this one.

Same ole kill stuff & praise for those doing the attempted/killing. It’s in Arabic but never fear, someone will translate it soon.(Video with English subtitles)

[…]”Those who might be killed in a plane are merely a drop of water in a sea,” he said in the video in response to a question about Muslim groups that disapproved of the airliner plot because it targeted civilians. Al-Awlaki used the 45-minute video to justify civilian deaths — and encourage them — by accusing the United States of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

American civilians are to blame, he said, because “the American people, in general, are taking part in this and they elected this administration and they are financing the war.”

He added that the Prophet Muhammad also sent forces into battles that claimed civilian lives.[Trying to smooth things over – Mo ordained it so it’s OK…ed]

The video was produced by the media arm of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, though the exact nature of al-Awlaki’s ties with the group and possible direct role in it are unclear. The U.S. says he is an active participant in the group, though members of his tribe have denied that. [It’s called Taqiyya ― Islamic Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah]

For its part, al-Qaida appears to be trying to make use of his recruiting power by putting him in its videos. Its media arm said Sunday’s video was its first interview with the cleric.

Splode him already.

Jules Crittenden:

Awlaki’s the guy who preached to 9/11 plotters and inspired Maj. Nidal Hasan. Now he’s rationalizing the murder of civilians. There’s the usual tired canard about the infidels killing Muslims. Come on. Al-Qaeda and its assorted offshoots have killed thousands more Muslim civilians on purpose than the U.S. has ever killed in accidents of war, or through war-crime incidents engineered by the Taliban, etal. Go to Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ll tell you.

Thomas Joscelyn at The Weekly Standard:

The Obama administration has rightly decided to target Awlaki inside Yemen, authorizing military and intelligence officials to kill the cleric if given the opportunity. But the administration should also declassify and release Awlaki’s emails with the Fort Hood Shooter, as well as any other threads of evidence that have been missed. Those bits of intelligence that are still highly sensitive because they deal with current operations can be redacted.

But the American people deserve to see the evidence that their counterterrorism officials have repeatedly failed to understand.

Ben Geman at The Hill:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the U.S. is hunting for American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who called for killing U.S. civilians in a new video released Sunday.

“We are actively trying to find him and many others throughout the world that seek to do our country and to do our interests great harm,” Gibbs said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The U.S. has authorized operations to kill or capture al-Awlaki, according to press reports last month. Gibbs said Sunday that al-Awlaki “supports al-Qaeda’s agenda of murder and violence.”

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The Written Records Of The Dead Horse

Claire Berlinski at City Journal:

When Gorbachev and his aides were ousted from the Kremlin, they took unauthorized copies of these documents with them. The documents were scanned and stored in the archives of the Gorbachev Foundation, one of the first independent think tanks in modern Russia, where a handful of friendly and vetted researchers were given limited access to them. Then, in 1999, the foundation opened a small part of the archive to independent researchers, including Stroilov. The key parts of the collection remained restricted; documents could be copied only with the written permission of the author, and Gorbachev refused to authorize any copies whatsoever. But there was a flaw in the foundation’s security, Stroilov explained to me. When things went wrong with the computers, as often they did, he was able to watch the network administrator typing the password that gave access to the foundation’s network. Slowly and secretly, Stroilov copied the archive and sent it to secure locations around the world.

When I first heard about Stroilov’s documents, I wondered if they were forgeries. But in 2006, having assessed the documents with the cooperation of prominent Soviet dissidents and Cold War spies, British judges concluded that Stroilov was credible and granted his asylum request. The Gorbachev Foundation itself has since acknowledged the documents’ authenticity.

Bukovsky’s story is similar. In 1992, President Boris Yeltsin’s government invited him to testify at the Constitutional Court of Russia in a case concerning the constitutionality of the Communist Party. The Russian State Archives granted Bukovsky access to its documents to prepare his testimony. Using a handheld scanner, he copied thousands of documents and smuggled them to the West.

The Russian state cannot sue Stroilov or Bukovsky for breach of copyright, since the material was created by the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, neither of which now exists. Had he remained in Russia, however, Stroilov believes that he could have been prosecuted for disclosure of state secrets or treason. The military historian Igor Sutyagin is now serving 15 years in a hard-labor camp for the crime of collecting newspaper clippings and other open-source materials and sending them to a British consulting firm. The danger that Stroilov and Bukovsky faced was real and grave; they both assumed, one imagines, that the world would take notice of what they had risked so much to acquire.

Stroilov claims that his documents “tell a completely new story about the end of the Cold War. The ‘commonly accepted’ version of history of that period consists of myths almost entirely. These documents are capable of ruining each of those myths.” Is this so? I couldn’t say. I don’t read Russian. Of Stroilov’s documents, I have seen only the few that have been translated into English. Certainly, they shouldn’t be taken at face value; they were, after all, written by Communists. But the possibility that Stroilov is right should surely compel keen curiosity.

For instance, the documents cast Gorbachev in a far darker light than the one in which he is generally regarded. In one document, he laughs with the Politburo about the USSR’s downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983—a crime that was not only monstrous but brought the world very near to nuclear Armageddon. These minutes from a Politburo meeting on October 4, 1989, are similarly disturbing:

Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.

Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands . . . So what?

And a transcript of Gorbachev’s conversation with Hans-Jochen Vogel, the leader of West Germany’s Social Democratic Party, shows Gorbachev defending Soviet troops’ April 9, 1989, massacre of peaceful protesters in Tbilisi.

Stroilov’s documents also contain transcripts of Gorbachev’s discussions with many Middle Eastern leaders. These suggest interesting connections between Soviet policy and contemporary trends in Russian foreign policy. Here is a fragment from a conversation reported to have taken place with Syrian president Hafez al-Assad on April 28, 1990:

H. ASSAD. To put pressure on Israel, Baghdad would need to get closer to Damascus, because Iraq has no common borders with Israel. . . .

M. S. GORBACHEV. I think so, too. . . .

H. ASSAD. Israel’s approach is different, because the Judaic religion itself states: the land of Israel spreads from Nile to Euphrates and its return is a divine predestination.

M. S. GORBACHEV. But this is racism, combined with Messianism!

H. ASSAD. This is the most dangerous form of racism.

One doesn’t need to be a fantasist to wonder whether these discussions might be relevant to our understanding of contemporary Russian policy in a region of some enduring strategic significance.

[…]

troilov says that he and Bukovsky approached Jonathan Brent of Yale University Press, which is leading a publishing project on the history of the Cold War. He claims that initially Brent was enthusiastic and asked him to write a book, based on the documents, about the first Gulf War. Stroilov says that he wrote the first six chapters, sent them off, and never heard from Brent again, despite sending him e-mail after e-mail. “I can only speculate what so much frightened him in that book,” Stroilov wrote to me.

I’ve also asked Brent and received no reply. This doesn’t mean anything; people are busy. I am less inclined to believe in complex attempts to suppress the truth than I am in indifference and preoccupation with other things. Stroilov sees in these events “a kind of a taboo, the vague common understanding in the Establishment that it is better to let sleeping dogs lie, not to throw stones in a house of glass, and not to mention a rope in the house of a hanged man.” I suspect it is something even more disturbing: no one much cares.

“I know the time will come,” Stroilov says, “when the world has to look at those documents very carefully. We just cannot escape this. We have no way forward until we face the truth about what happened to us in the twentieth century. Even now, no matter how hard we try to ignore history, all these questions come back to us time and again.”

The questions come back time and again, it is true, but few remember that they have been asked before, and few remember what the answer looked like. No one talks much about the victims of Communism. No one erects memorials to the throngs of people murdered by the Soviet state. (In his widely ignored book, A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia, Alexander Yakovlev, the architect of perestroika under Gorbachev, puts the number at 30 to 35 million.)

Indeed, many still subscribe to the essential tenets of Communist ideology. Politicians, academics, students, even the occasional autodidact taxi driver still stand opposed to private property. Many remain enthralled by schemes for central economic planning. Stalin, according to polls, is one of Russia’s most popular historical figures. No small number of young people in Istanbul, where I live, proudly describe themselves as Communists; I have met such people around the world, from Seattle to Calcutta.

We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriate those who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. These documents should be translated. They should be housed in a reputable library, properly cataloged, and carefully assessed by scholars. Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about. If they contain what Stroilov and Bukovsky say—and all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they do—this is the obligation of anyone who gives a damn about history, foreign policy, and the scores of millions dead.

John Derbyshire at The Corner:

Some years ago I exposed the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dead Horses to National Review readers. The SPCDH exists to prevent the flogging of what are, according to them, dead horses — for example, the evils of Communism. “Good heavens, are you conservatives still banging on about that? Everybody knows all about it. It was all publicized to death years ago. Sorry, old chap — you’re just flogging a dead horse.”

If you don’t think that the SPCDH is a mighty force in the Western world, read this. Please. Sample:

Remarkably, the world has shown little interest in the unread Soviet archives. That paragraph about Biden is a good example. Stroilov and Bukovsky coauthored a piece about it for the online magazine FrontPage on October 10, 2008; it passed without remark. Americans considered the episode so uninteresting that even Biden’s political opponents didn’t try to turn it into political capital. Imagine, if you can, what it must feel like to have spent the prime of your life in a Soviet psychiatric hospital, to know that Joe Biden is now vice president of the United States, and to know that no one gives a damn.

Academic Elephant at Redstate:

Berlinski suggests that the root of the problem is a basic academic affinity with the tenets of communism and I’m inclined to think she’s right. In perhaps the same impulse that leads many denizens of the ivory tower to sympathize with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, there is a tendency to view Soviet communism as a flawed but still valid experiment. For those who believe in the basic soundness of Marxism, the catastrophic failure of the Soviet Union is an inconvenient truth made more palatable by the assertion that it was brought about by external factors. The line seems to be that the Soviets were no better and worse than we–different, sure, but perhaps we could learn from them and we certainly are in no position to judge.

This never-never land of moral relativism is shattered by the kind of cold, hard documents Berlinski describes. A picture emerges of a creeping evil that threatened to engulf the west even as we were attempting a rapprochement with it. And yet the response is a collective yawn–perhaps a delicately raised eyebrow, a hint of impatience with this unseemly attempt to rake up bygones. Look away. There’s nothing to see here.

Unfortunately there is all too much to be seen–from the psychiatric “hospitals” to the hard-labor camps to the execution chambers–all of which added up to an utter disregard for human life and dignity that is at least on par with the depravities of Nazism. Berlinski writes:

We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriate those who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. These documents should be translated. They should be housed in a reputable library, properly cataloged, and carefully assessed by scholars. Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about. If they contain what Stroilov and Bukovsky say—and all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they do—this is the obligation of anyone who gives a damn about history, foreign policy, and the scores of millions dead.

As uncomfortable as it may be for those who think it’s progressive to keep Mao’s Little Red Book on their bedside table or favor the radical chic of a Che t-shirt, we need to expose and acknowledge the reality of Soviet-style communism that has claimed so many tens of millions lives. A good place to start would be recognizing it for what it was, and understanding its history. To their credit, Yale University Press has published some related volumes of late, although they have not picked up the material in Berlinski’s article. Hopefully they will reconsider and publish the Stroilov and Bukovsky archives as well.

Frank Warner:

There also is a transcript of an April 28, 1990, discussion between Gorbachev and Syrian dictator Hafez Assad in which Assad suggests that Iraq needs to expand its borders to be better positioned to “pressure” Israel. And Gorbachev agrees with Assad.

The world needs to see these documents, all of them translated in every language, if the human race is to learn anything from Communism in practice.

On a sympathy scale of 1 to 1 million, Communism gets 1 point for pretending to be for equality and against bigotry. (Historians go out of their way to give Communism that point.) But Communism loses that point for pretending, for enslaving and for being the most deadly ideology in the history of the world.

Yet who knows that? Do our children know that Communism killed 140 million people in the 20th century, and primarily in “peacetime”? Do even most adults know that? The history has yet to find its way to our history books.

Jules Crittenden:

Hey, I thought Gorbie was supposed to be a good guy. Turns out the splotch is more than skin deep. Of course, Vlad was supposed to be a good guy, too. George Bush looked into his soul, and … never mind. Quick show of hands. Who’s surprised?

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