Tag Archives: Victor Davis Hanson

Piss Christ, Part II: Antz

Penny Starr at Newsbusters:

The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as “homoerotic.”

The exhibit, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” opened on Oct. 30 and will run throughout the Christmas Season, closing on Feb. 13.

“This is an exhibition that displays masterpieces of American portraiture and we wanted to illustrate how questions of biography and identity went into the making of images that are canonical,” David C. Ward, a National Portrait Gallery (NGP) historian who is also co-curator of the exhibit, told CNSNews.com.

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A plaque fixed to the wall at the entrance to the exhibit says that the National Portrait Gallery is “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity. As America’s museum of national biography, the NPG is also vitally interested in the art of portrayal and how portraiture reflects our ideas about ourselves and others.

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An ant-covered Jesus/crucifix in “A Fire in My Belly” video, part of the ‘Hide/Seek’ exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Victor Davis Hanson at Pajamas Media:

Its title is coyly encrypted in postmodern bipolarity: “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” And the exhibition apparently is full of Mapplethorpe-inspired gay-related imagery and offers us an image of Jesus being swarmed over by ants. Clever, brave, bold, shocking. Or in the words of the overseers of the federally-subsidized National Portrait Gallery, such artistic courage proves how the gallery is now “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity.”

But once more all that verbiage turns out to be just Sixties-ish lingo for about the same old, same old:

  1. Abject cowardice—since if a theme were really religious intolerance, why not portray Mohammed in lieu of Christ, inasmuch as contemporary Islam is far more intolerant of gays and liberated women than the so-called Christian West. Such a video might better exhibit just how “committed” these federal artistic bureaucrats were to “equality, inclusion, and social justice.”
  2. Mediocrity—dressing up talentless soft-core pornographic expression with federal catch-phrases and subsidies ensures a venue for junk art that most otherwise would neither pay to see nor ever exhibit.
  3. Politics—all this is supposedly sort of revolutionary, full of neat phrases like “committed”, “struggle for justice”, “full inheritance”, “equality”, “inclusion”, and “social dignity”, and all the empty vocabulary that mostly upscale white nerds like a Bill Ayers employ when they want to tweak and embarrass the gullible liberals who support and pay for their nonsense.

The Jawa Report:

If these “artists” really wanted to be daring and controversial, they’d create an ant-covered Quran exhibit. But the cowards take the path of least resistance and then applaud their own courage in the face of minuscule risk.

Don Suber

Ann Althouse:

“If they’ve got money to squander like this – of a crucifix being eaten by ants, of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, men in chains, naked brothers kissing…”

“… then I think we should look at their budget,” said Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, scaring the Smithsonian Institution into taking down the ants-on-Jesus video. Cowed, the Institution nevertheless defended the artist, whose “intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim.” The museum assures us it had no “intention to offend.”

John Nolte at Big Hollywood:

Another turn in this story, again via CNS News, and in my opinion a hollow threat from John Boehner and Eric Cantor:

House Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-Ohio) is telling the Smithsonian Institution to pull an exhibit that features images of an ant-covered Jesus or else face tough scrutiny when the new Republican majority takes control of the House in January. House Majority Leader-to-be Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), meanwhile, is calling on the Smithsonian to pull the exhibit and warning the federally funded institution that it will face serious questions when Congress considers the next budget.

CNSNews.com had asked both congressional leaders if the exhibit should continue or be cancelled and both indicated it should be cancelled. …

“Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves to end the job-killing spending spree in Washington,” Smith said.

When asked to clarify what exactly Boehner meant by calling on the Smithsonian to “correct” their mistake with the exhibit, Smith said Boehner wanted the exhibit “cancelled.”

Cantor, meanwhile, said the exhibit should be “pulled.”

I’m sure some on the Left will scream censorship, but this is what happens when an institution takes money from the government, or anyone else. If the Smithsonian depended on big private donors to fund this junk, those big private donors would likely demand a say in what their money’s used for. Same with Congress, and not just in the arts. Whether you’re on welfare or a big corporation receiving subsidies, all taxpayer money comes with certain conditions.

The problem is that there’s no teeth behind this threat. The time to end the grossly immoral practice of funding the arts (and PBS) in every shape, manner and form was sometime between 2002 and 2006 when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Pardon my cynicism, but if the Republicans didn’t have the sand to do it then, they sure don’t now with even less power; so you can bet the Smithsonian isn’t exactly shaking in their boots.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

Update:

That didn’t take too long. The ant-covered Jesus is now gone. From TBD.com:

The National Portrait Gallery has removed a work of art from a GLBT-themed exhibition after it attracted conservative and religious ire for its images of homosexuality and Christianity. Director Martin Sullivan announced the removal of A Fire in My Belly by artist David Wojnarowicz after conservative news service CNS wrote yesterday that the “Christmas-season exhibit,” which opened in October, used taxpayer money to indirectly fund an exhibition that includes imagery of genitalia, homoerotic situations, and Christ covered in ants.

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The End?

Laura Rozen at Politico:

In Morning Defense, POLITICO’s Jen DiMascio and Gordon Lubold make sense of the somewhat confusing drama last night as a convoy of troops from the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division crossed from Iraq into Kuwait:

OVERNIGHT — More than seven years after the U.S. invasion, the last U.S. combat troops rolled out of Iraq and into Kuwait in the early-morning darkness. That’s two weeks ahead of Barack Obama’s schedule, but it ain’t over ’til it’s over: A U.S. Army spokesman tells CBS that the U.S. still has “plenty of trigger-pullers there.”

THE PRESIDENT, IN OHIO: “We are keeping the promise I made when I began my campaign for the presidency. By the end of this month we will have removed 100,000 troops from Iraq and our combat mission will [end].”

THE AP’S REBECCA SANTANA IN KHABARI CROSSING, KUWAIT: “For these troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, it was a moment of relief fraught with symbolism. As their convoy reached the barbed wire at the border crossing out of Iraq on Wednesday, the soldiers whooped and cheered. Then they scrambled out of their stifling hot armored vehicles, unfurled an American flag and posed for group photos.” http://yhoo.it/dcT5Wj

It’s Thursday morning, and this is Morning Defense.

IRAQ BY THE NUMBERS, from Stars and Stripes:
U.S. troops killed: 4,414
U.S. troops wounded in action: 31,897
Number of U.S. troop amputees: 1,135
Iraqi civilian deaths: 113,166
War’s operating cost: $747.6 billion
Per American: $2,435; Per Iraqi: $25,828
Estimate of the total cost of the war: $3 trillion
Cost of maintaining 50,000 troops from now to end of 2011: $12.75 billion
Cost of medical care and disability compensation for Iraq war veterans over their lifetimes: $500 billion.

Max Fisher at The Atlantic with the round-up

Grim at Blackfive:

4/2 SBCT rides out.

The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which left Iraq this week, was the final U.S. combat brigade to be pulled out of the country….”Operation Iraqi Freedom ends on your watch!” exclaimed Col. John Norris, the head of the brigade.

“Hooah!” the soldiers roared, using an Army battle cry.

Shortly before midnight Saturday, a group of infantrymen boarded Stryker fighting vehicles, left an increasingly sparse base behind and began scanning the sides of a desolate highway for bombs. For many veterans, including some who made the same trip in the opposite direction years ago under fire, it was a fitting way to exit.

“They’re leaving as heroes,” Norris said of his soldiers. “I want them to walk home with pride in their hearts.”

They are heroes.  The advise and assist brigades, and the strong Special Operations contingent, remain behind for a time.  It’s a strange war that ends this way; but as Clausewitz said, war is the continuation of politics by other means.  We’re moving from war to a very tense political environment.  That’s more or less what we should expect.  What comes next?  Either compromise arises that allows tensions to ramp down, so that the political takes over from the war; or it goes the other way, and war blooms anew from the failure of politics.

Victor Davis Hanson at The Corner:

The departure of the last combat brigade from Iraq is full of symbolic weight.

1. President Obama, to his credit, dropped the nonsense from his candidacy about promising withdrawal by March 2008 and stuck to the Bush-Petraeus plan.

2. While there is violence in Iraq (as there is in Pakistan and in many nations of the Arab Middle East), the surge worked, broke the back of the resistance, and allowed some sort of consensual government to survive.

3. We are reminded by the departure that the campaign-constructed “bad” war in Iraq become okay in late 2008, while the okay war in Afghanistan turned bad, something candidate “Let me at ’em in Afghanistan” Obama probably never anticipated, as his post-campaign surprise seems to suggest.

4. We should remember that while the surge coincided with a booming economy, the departure is taking place against the backdrop of a deep recession, and borrowed money is now as big a consideration as grand strategy (e.g., it will be difficult to ever reinsert the troops at their former levels should the terrorists return) . . .

5. . . . but the 50,000-something troops left in Iraq are not weaponless, and with air support can in extremis aid the Iraqi security forces.

6. If the calm holds, George Bush will be seen in a rather different light than when he left in January 2009, not just because Iraq miraculously has functioned under a constitutional system for years now, but because we have seen how different governance is from perpetual campaigning. In the latter, the rhetorical choices are always good and bad, rather than bad and worse, as is the case when one must be responsible for consequences. In short, despite all the “war is lost,” the “surge is not working,” and the “General Betray Us,” Bush’s persistence paid off — and now Joe Biden, of erstwhile “trisect Iraq” fame, thinks that Iraq could be one of the Obama’s administration’s “greatest achievements.”

James Jay Carafano at The Corner:

In the waning days of World War II, the OSS gave FDR a briefing that would have turned his hair white, if it hadn’t been white already. The president was told to expect a sea of German saboteurs and assassins running rampant through post-war Europe. They would number in the tens of thousands. It might take years to quell the havoc.

The briefers were wrong. The Nazis did, indeed, have a “Werewolf” campaign to continue the fight after armistice, but it largely fizzled. Hundreds of thousands of American troops flooded back home sooner than expected.

Yet some stayed and, for reasons that shifted over the years, American troops remain there today. They remain in Japan and South Korea, too.

This history is not recited to suggest that Iraq is on the road to becoming the next South Korea, but it is a reminder of how the future unfolds. There is no predictable linear path, and in matters of war, everybody gets a vote — enemies as well as allies. Anyone who tells you today just how many troops will be in Iraq ten years hence and just what shape the country will be in is guessing just as much as the OSS agents who briefed FDR on the post-war nightmare that never came.

Here is what we know for sure. 1) Given the state of Iraq in 2006, the country is in a much better place today that any reasonable observer then dared hope. 2) Iraq is better off than it was in the age of Saddam. Now the country has a future, and it rests in the hands of its people. Bonus: The world is rid one of its most dangerous and bloodthirsty thugs. Yes, it was a heavy price. Freedom rarely comes cheap. 3) The surge worked. The surge never promised a land of “milk and honey.” It just promised to break the cycle of continuous, unrelenting violence, to give the new Iraqi political process a chance, and to allow the Iraqis time to build the capacity for their own security. It did that. 4) Things didn’t turn out the way Bush planned. But the vision — a free Iraq without Saddam — was achieved. Remember, things didn’t turn out the way FDR planned either. He said all the troops would be out of Europe in two years.

Here is what we don’t know. How much longer will U.S. troops need to stay there? The fact that the “combat” troops are gone does not mean that the mission is done or that U.S. troops won’t see some kinds of combat. While troops don’t and should not remain permanently in Iraq, they will obviously need to stay longer than one or two more years. Withdrawing U.S. forces too fast would jeopardize progress. Freedom may lose its momentum. Everything is contingent on events on the ground. There cannot even be serious discussions about the long-term U.S. presence until after an Iraqi government is formed.

John Negroponte at Foreign Policy:

Having landed in Baghdad as U.S. ambassador to Iraq at the end of June 2004, I find it a truly remarkable and positive accomplishment that we are able to look to the day not too far off when Iraqi security forces will be able to assume full and complete responsibility for their country’s security. At the time of my arrival, Iraqi security forces were, for all practical purposes, nonexistent. There was, for example, only one — yes, one — Iraqi army battalion and it was composed of various ethnic and sectarian elements. Today, there are some 600,000 Iraqi security forces and important strides have been made toward giving Iraq’s security organizations a national rather than partisan character. This is no small achievement; it has taken seven years to accomplish and only after some false starts and perilous moments.

In the wake of the Samarra Mosque bombing in 2006 and the ensuing sectarian strife, those of us concerned with Iraq could not have imagined the dramatic reversal of fortunes that would occur in the ensuing two years — the death of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the liberation of Basra by the Iraqi army, and the extension of the government’s authority to the country as a whole. By 2008, these improvements had given the government of Iraq the necessary self-assurance to negotiate the withdrawal arrangements that are now being implemented.

But can Iraq really remain stable once U.S. troops have completely withdrawn? While there are no guarantees, the prospects for Iraq’s security and stability beyond 2011 look as good or better than they have at any time in the recent past. The Iraqi army now has close to 200 trained combat battalions, a formidable increase from the somber days when I arrived in 2004, and they are spread throughout the country. The specter of sectarianism poisoning the ranks of Iraqi military and police forces remains the single most serious threat to be guarded against. But progress since the 2007 surge in nurturing the army and police as truly national institutions has been encouraging. Vigilance and political maturity will be needed to ensure that this positive trend continues.

Conn Carroll at Heritage

Max Boot at The Wall Street Journal:

Americans can take pride in how Iraq has developed. But have we truly “won” the war? That is a hard question to answer.

Opponents of the war effort—including Barack Obama and Joe Biden—once had an interest in saying that the war was unwinnable. Now they claim that we should sit back, relax and prepare for a smooth on-time departure. If only.

Iraq has made tremendous strides, but it still has a long way to go. Violence has fallen more than 90% since 2006. Al Qaeda in Iraq has lost most of its leadership. The Jaish al Mahdi, Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia, has been silenced. But this uneasy peace is still broken by too many acts of terrorism. One still reads headlines like this one, from earlier this week: “61 Killed in Bomb Attack on Iraqi Army Recruits.” Baghdad is considerably safer than it once was but is still more dangerous than Kabul, where I’ve also visited recently. Iraq had clean elections in March but still has no new government. Investors are holding off committing funds, the Iranians are licking their chops, and various militias are nervously fingering the triggers of their AK-47s.

Iraq’s future is still to be determined: Will it continue on the path of prosperity and democracy? Will it emerge as a key American ally in the Middle East? Or will it regress into civil war or dictatorship? U.S. forces still have a vital mission: to ensure that a newly sobered Iraq does not fall off the wagon and once again imbibe the deadly brew of ethno-sectarian violence.

The primary remaining military mission is to continue providing support to the Iraqi security forces. There are now 440,000 Iraqi police and 220,000 Iraqi soldiers, but they still lack the capacity to defend their own borders. The U.S. plans to deliver M-1 tanks and F-16 fighters to Iraq, but it will be many years before the Iraqis can operate such sophisticated weapons systems on their own. In the meantime they cannot even control their own air space; that will remain the job of American personnel. The U.S. Navy will continue to safeguard Iraq’s main oil export terminal near the southern city of Basra.

The remaining political mission is even more important—to reassure all sides in Iraq’s fractious politics that their opponents will not resort to the car bomb or the powerdrill-through-the-temple to get their way. Iraq is still recovering from the trauma of internecine bloodletting—as are, for example, Bosnia and Kosovo. In Bosnia it has been 15 years since the guns went silent; in Kosovo 11 years. In both places thousands of foreign troops remain to safeguard a fragile peace.

It would be the height of hubris—the kind once displayed by George W. Bush’s prematurely proclaimed “Mission Accomplished”—to suggest that Iraq, a country of more than 25 million, needs less help in its post-conflict transition than did the micro-states of the former Yugoslavia.

Allah Pundit:

The last combat troops are out and now 50,000, er, “advisors” remain. It’s not the end of the war, in other words, but as a not-so-grim milestone for a lot of guys who are no longer in harm’s way, it’s a moment worth celebrating. Rather than waste your time by blathering at you, let me give you some reading and viewing material. Watch the two clips below from NBC, which, to its credit, did a bang-up job in covering the occasion. And note well Col. Jack Jacobs’s reminiscence about being sent to Vietnam after combat had supposedly ended there too. The fighting isn’t over yet; the question is who’ll be doing it from now on. And the NYT has an answer sure to please liberals of all stripes: “Mercenaries.”

To protect the civilians in a country that is still home to insurgents with Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, the State Department is planning to more than double its private security guards, up to about 7,000, according to administration officials who disclosed new details of the plan. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to come to the aid of civilians in distress, the officials said…

The department’s plans to rely on 6,000 to 7,000 security contractors, who are also expected to form “quick reaction forces” to rescue civilians in trouble, is a sensitive issue, given Iraqi fury about shootings of civilians by American private guards in recent years. Administration officials said that security contractors would have no special immunity and would be required to register with the Iraqi government. In addition, one of the State Department’s regional security officers, agents who oversee security at diplomatic outposts, will be required to approve and accompany every civilian convoy, providing additional oversight.

It’s the State Department’s show now, on an “unprecedented” scale for such a dangerous area. But can they run it with so few troops left in the country if the electoral stalemate between Maliki’s and Allawi’s factions blows up? (Ryan Crocker: “Our timetables are getting out ahead of Iraqi reality.”) That’s the story you want to read if you’re interested in the “what now?” angle. If you’re looking for something more human, i.e. troop reactions on finally getting to leave, MSNBC’s and WaPo’s pieces are the way to go.

UPDATE: James Joyner

Andrew Berdy at Tom Ricks place at Foreign Policy

Chris Bodenner at Andrew Sullivan’s place

UPDATE #2: Max Fisher at The Atlantic with another round-up

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Marilyn Manson T-Shirt, This Was Not

George Kiriyama at NBC Bay Area:

// //

On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal’s office.

“They said we could wear it on any other day,” Daniel Galli said, “but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today.”

The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts “incendiary” that would lead to fights on campus.

Conn Carroll at Heritage:

What country is Morgan Hill in again? When Americans celebrate St. Patricks Day or Columbus Day, don’t we always see American flags flying right along side Irish and Italian ones? Why are the Mexican Americans at Live Oak High so insulted by the flag of the country that they live in? Do they not consider themselves Americans first?

The mother of one of the offending flag wearers gets it: “There will not be an apology. Matthew is part Hispanic. He is an American.” How many Californians consider themselves American these days?

Victor Davis Hanson at The Corner:

A few youths were sent home from the local high school for subervisely wearing American-flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. “I think they should apologize,’cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day,” Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.”

Note the use of “we,” suggesting an ethnic allegiance that trumps the national one; note the equation of a Mexican Heritage Day with the Fourth of July; note the strange idea that the sight of the American flag leads to one being “disrespected”; and, of course, note the action by the school’s administration — banishing the boys for apparently politically incorrect, subversive behavior.

Ed Morrissey:

Incendiary? Since when is it incendiary to express patriotism for one’s own country? This is absurd, as are the demands for apologies from these students for offending those who observed Cinco de Mayo. One expression of celebration doesn’t interfere with another, however, as should have been obvious at the campus before the teachers got involved at all. If students want to “express themselves” by celebrating Cinco de Mayo, then they should be prepared to allow others to express themselves as well. Instead, they want the public expression monopoly at their high school — and the administration was stupid enough to concede it to them.

Zombie at Pajamas Media:

Let’s pause for a moment and peel back the layers. It seems that many of the Hispanic students at Live Oak High (and probably innumerable other high schools across the country) have been so inculcated with an “identity politics” curriculum that, under the rubric of instilling pride and self-esteem, they have been convinced that they are somehow distinct from and separate from the other American students; that “we” feel disrespected when forced to perceive an American flag.

The school administration then stirs in their own toxic contribution: An assumption (typical of the “soft racism” of leftist ideology) that Hispanic students will respond with violence when they feel disrespected (“the patriotic shirts could trigger fights” is the euphemism they used). Even worse, fearing violence from Hispanic students, the adminstrators solve the crisis by banishing the “offensive” items, rather than warning students that any violence will be severely punished. In other words, the racist administrators insultingly assumed that their Hispanic students would erupt in violence at the sight of an American flag, and the only way to prevent this is to cower at the presumptive violence and preemptively cave in to the mob’s demands that American flags be banned from campus.

Are the United States and Mexico at war? Is May 5 some kind of “Hate America Day”? What the hell is going on here? Aren’t the U.S. and Mexico allies? Aren’t we friendly neighbors? What is the source of the friction? Isn’t the United States a melting pot where people of every ethnic heritage all live together in harmony as Americans — rather than being a collection of self-segregated ethnic enclaves seething with mutual hostility?

Furthermore, remember that Cinco de Mayo is actually a minor holiday in Mexico itself, commemorating a little-known military victory; Mexican Independence Day is on September 16, not May 5. In what way does the existence of a jolly holiday in one country necessitate self-flagellation in other countries? Do the people of Mongolia hang their heads in shame and hide their national flags on Thanksgiving — simply because some Americans in the vicinity might feel insulted that Mongolians still loved their country on an American holiday? The very idea is ridiculous. Yet that is exactly the attitude enforced by the administrators at Live Oak High in Morgan Hill.

Michelle Malkin:

The left threw assimilation out the window decades ago, of course. And educators no longer teach civic pride. It’s all about assigning blame, assuaging guilt, and stoking grievances. P.C. is the death of us.

Jules Crittenden:

Outraged flag-waving patriots and cynics might say that when American flags are outlawed, only outlaws will have American flags. But I think the point of  the anti-flag crowd is that it already represents a criminal regime.

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My, That Is An Exceptional 6 Train

Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review:

The Left’s search for a foreign template to graft onto America grew more desperate. Why couldn’t we be more like them — like the French, like the Swedes, like the Danes? Like any people with a larger and busier government overawing the private sector and civil society? You can see it in Sicko, wherein Michael Moore extols the British national health-care system, the French way of life, and even the munificence of Cuba; you can hear it in all the admonitions from left-wing commentators that every other advanced society has government child care, or gun control, or mass transit, or whatever socialistic program or other infringement on our liberty we have had the wisdom to reject for decades.

Matthew Schmitz at The League:

Lowry and Ponnuru seem to believe that mass transit is a “socialistic program” and an “infringement on our liberty.” Presumably they think this because mass transit is built and administered by the government and supported, quite often, by taxes. But the exact same thing is true of highways. Would Lowry and Ponnuru denounce the Interestate system as socialistic on the same grounds?

Their casual slander also dishonors one of the recently passed heroes of the conservative movement, Paul Weyrich. Weyrich co-founded the Heritage Foundation and founded the Free Congress Foundation. Lowry and Ponnuru, who both probably knew him, also know that he was as American and un-socialistic as they come. Weyrich realized that transit was, in some cases, an eminently reasonable way of transporting people. If  Lowry and Ponnuru are unsettled by the fact that Europeans have more transit than we do, they should look back to the time when America had both more transit and less government than Europe did, or than it does now. If you’d like to read more on the conservative case for transit, see David Schaengold here.

Matthew Yglesias:

But of course they have nothing to say about genuine infringements of liberty like minimum parking requirements, maximum lot occupancy rules, building height limits, prohibitions on accessory dwellings, etc. that are mainstays of America’s centrally planned suburbs. That’s because to them what really matters isn’t socialism or liberty (certainly nobody who cares about liberty could be as enthusiastic about torture as National Review writers are) but Americanness. Even here, though, their critique falls badly flat. The world’s largest subway systems are in Japan and South Korea—not socialistic Europe—followed by New York City right here in the United States. Multiple-unit train control was invented in Chicago, as part of the world’s first electrically driven railway. I believe that all of the world’s 24-hour rapid transit systems (NYC Subway, Chicago L, NY-NJ PATH) are in the United States of America.

Brad DeLong:

Can people please stop bringing forward Ramesh Ponnuru as a “reasonable conservative” now?

Damon Linker at TNR on the rest of the essay:

Lowry and Ponnuru’s thesis—that President Obama is an enemy of “American exceptionalism”—is hardly original. It is so widely held and so frequently asserted on the right, in fact, that it can almost be described as conservative conventional wisdom. Still, NR’s treatment of the subject stands out. Lowry and Ponnuru aim for comprehensiveness, and they maintain a measured, thoughtful tone throughout their essay, marshalling a wide range of historical evidence for their thesis and making well-timed concessions to contrary arguments. It’s hard to imagine this key conservative claim receiving a more cogent and rhetorically effective defense. Which is precisely what makes the essay’s shortcomings so striking. While its authors clearly mean it to stand as a manifesto for a resurgent conservative moment, the essay far more resembles a lullaby—a comforting compilation of consoling pieties set to a soothingly familiar melody. The perfect soundtrack to a peaceful snooze.

Let’s begin at the beginning, with definitions. Lowry and Ponnuru aim to convince their readers that the President of the United States denies the idea that lies at the core of American identity: that the country is exceptional. But what makes America exceptional? This is what the authors tell us: Americans affirm a creed that upholds “liberty, equality (of opportunity and respect), individualism, populism, and laissez-faire economics.” These principles then combine with “other aspects of the American character—especially our religiousness and our willingness to defend ourselves by force—to form the core of American exceptionalism.”

Some of this is faintly ridiculous. (Is anything less exceptional in human history than a country’s willingness to defend itself by force?) As for the rest, it’s either a string of American banalities and clichés—or an abstract of the Republican Party platform. The next several paragraphs of the essay make it very clear that it’s the latter. That’s right: Lowry and Ponnuru expect their readers to believe that what makes our country exceptional is that large numbers of Americans affirm the ideology of the modern conservative movement. But that’s not quite right. Through long stretches of the essay they go much further—to imply that America is exceptional because the nation’s creed is the ideology of the modern conservative movement.

Follow the bouncing ball: the fact that “a profit-seeking company” founded Jamestown and that Puritan merchants wrote “In the name of God and of profit” at the top of their ledgers; that, in a “telling coincidence,” Adam Smith’s “free-market classic” The Wealth of Nations was published in the same year as the Declaration of Independence; that Benjamin Franklin’s name “comes from the Middle English meaning freeman, someone who owns some property”; that Abraham Lincoln supposedly hated few things more than “economic stasis”—all of these and many other anecdotes are supposed to add up to an endorsement of “the American economic gospel” (read: libertarian economic gospel) about “wealth and its creation.” Meanwhile, other cherry-picked facts in later paragraphs serve to highlight the American fondness for democratic elections, the country’s incorrigible patriotism and religiosity, and its “missionary impulse” to “export our model of liberty” to the world, often at the point of a gun.

More Yglesias:

In this telling, there’s something insidious about asking if they don’t do something better someplace else. But of course another way of looking at it is that you by definition can’t find examples of alternatives to the US status quo by looking at the US. That’s why you regularly see the Cato Institute touting Chile’s pension system or Heritage extolling the virtues of Sweden’s K-12 education or David Frum talking up French nuclear power. After all, we’ve never attempted to shift from a guaranteed pay-as-you-go pension system to a mandatory savings one in the United States. Nor do we have any examples of widespread operation of public elementary schools by for-profit firms. Nor do we have a robust nuclear power sector. So if you want to explore these ideas—ideas that conservatives often do want to explore—you need to look at models from abroad.

And there’s nothing wrong with that! So why isn’t it okay for liberals to talk about French health care or Finnish education or Danish energy policy? As Barack Obama once said, when you look at the right sometimes it’s like they’re proud of being ignorant.

Mark Murray at MSNBC:

And the cover story in the latest National Review, entitled “Defend Her: Obama’s Threat to American Exceptionalism,” contends: “The president has signaled again and again his unease with traditional American patriotism. As a senator he notoriously made a virtue of not wearing a flag pin. As president he has been unusually detached from American history: When a foreign critic brought up the Bay of Pigs, rather than defend the country’s honor he noted that he was a toddler at the time. And while acknowledging that America has been a force for good, he has all but denied the idea that America is an exceptional nation.”

Of course, Obama was asked whether he believes in American exceptionalism while visiting Europe during the NATO summit. His response: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.”

That question Obama was asked defined American exceptionalism as the United States being “uniquely qualified to lead the world.” Historians typically regard American exceptionalism as why the U.S. didn’t have socialist revolutions or strong working-class movements like most of Europe did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Yet the conservative definition of American exceptionalism — particularly in the National Review article — is aimed at Obama’s efforts to reform the nation’s health-care system, enact cap-and-trade (which, ironically, is based on market principles), etc. Here’s National Review summing up what American liberals want: “Why couldn’t we be more like them — like the French, the like the Swedes, like the Danes? Like any people with a larger and busier government overawing the private sector and civil society?”

But if you read Obama’s speeches — from the president campaign and now as president — you see a president with a different idea of American exceptionalism: America’s unique ability to evolve and become a more perfect union. “This union may never be perfect,” he said in his famous ’08 speech on race, “but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.”

“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given,” he said in his inaugural address. “It must be earned.”

Here’s what he said in his Berlin speech during the presidential campaign: “We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions. But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived — at great cost and great sacrifice — to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world.”

So it’s not that Obama doesn’t think America is an exceptional nation; his own words debunk that critique.

Rather, it’s that conservatives and liberals have two very different ideas of what “exceptional” means.

UPDATE: Matthew Lee Anderson

Samuel Goldman at PomoCon

James Poulos at PomoCon

UPDATE #2: Conor Friedersdorf at The American Scene

Victor Davis Hanson at The Corner

Friedersdorf on Hanson

DiA at The Economist

Greg Scoblete

Daniel Larison

UPDATE #3: Lowry and Ponnuru responds to critics

John Holbo on the reponse

Matthew Yglesias on the response

UPDATE #4: Friedersdorf responds to the response

Goldman responds to the response

Schmitz responds to the response

UPDATE #5: More Larison

UPDATE #6: Peter Lawler

UPDATE #7: James Poulos and Robert Farley on Bloggingheads

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Much Longer Than Joe Pesci’s 1990 Oscar Acceptance Speech

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

I’m not a big fan of political speeches in general, but I thought President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech today was unusually good. (If I were a speech-y kind of writer, like Rick Hertzberg, I’d have used a better adjective in the last sentence than “good.”)

After again acknowledging that he doesn’t really deserve the award–“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize–Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela–my accomplishments are slight”–Obama set out his foreign policy worldview.

Michael Crowley at TNR:

I agree with Chait and, to offer him some fancy synonyms, think this may have been the deepest and most elegaic speech of Obama’s presidency. But what a strange one it was. Obama is a man trapped amongst the contradictions created by America’s awkward place in the post-Bush world. Last week, Obama’s address on Afghanistan both escalated and promised an end to the war there. Today, Obama opened his Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech with a long disquisition on the nature of war and its necessity–complete with a brief survey of “just war” theory. (He even threw in a passage about the necessary role of coercion against states like Iran and North Korea that mess around with nuclear weapons.) I suppose it was the honest way to take such a prize at a time when America has about 200,000 soldiers occupying foreign countries. But it was something of a surreal exercise.

David Frum at FrumForum:

First Obama tells us how humble he is. Then he tells us that he is bending history in the direction of justice – a phrase that associates himself with Martin Luther King. Charming.

But it gets worse. The slightness of Obama’s achievements is (the president says) only a partial and lesser reason for the controversy over the prize. The “most profound” reason that the award has been so disparaged is … George W. Bush! Yes, Obama’s prize is controversial because the country is fighting two wars, one of which it did not seek – but the other of which we apparently did seek. Or rather – that George W. Bush sought.

While the one war is an effort of self-defense , the other is … not.

While the one war mustered an international coalition deserving of respect, the other mustered an international coalition that is … not.

When Barack Obama got word of the prize in October, he said he would accept “as an affirmation of American leadership.” But in Oslo he did not speak as leader of all America, but as leader of a party – and as a party leader who cannot refrain from snide insituations against the motives – not only of his opposite-party predecessors – but of all who worked with them, including the leaders of many allied governments.

William Kristol at WaPo:

“proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale….

“We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

“But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation,…I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.

“So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace….

“But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.”

— President Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize speech, Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009

“Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction….

“North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

“Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom….

“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

“We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction….

“We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

— George W. Bush, State of the Union speech, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2002

Daniel Pipes at The Corner:

Obama’s Nobel “lecture” offers critics the usual cornucopia of opportunities, but I shall focus on just two statements:

“I am the commander-in-chief of a nation in the midst of two wars.” And here I thought there were three wars. Obama’s two are Iraq and Afghanistan; missing is what George W. Bush termed the War on Terror and I call the “war on radical Islam.” Obama apparently reduces that third one to al-Qaeda and counts it as part of the Afghan war. His mistake has real consequences; long after American troops have left Iraq and Afghanistan, Islamists will be attacking and subverting us. If we don’t see their efforts as a war, we lose.

“Religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam.” Here, Obama follows his predecessor in presenting himself as an interpreter of Islam. I ridiculed “Imam Bush” for telling Muslims about true Islam and its distortion, and now I must ridicule “Sheikh Obama” for the same. He’s a politician, not a theologian. He’s a Christian, not a Muslim. He should steer completely clear from the topic of who are good or bad Muslims.

Victor Davis Hanson at The Corner:

The president said some good things, but unfortunately, his long academic lecture on the nature of war itself had all the characteristics of we have come to accept from a Barack Obama sermon:

1) Verbosity (4,000 words plus!) and extraneousness (he finally even referenced the world’s farmers); 2) I/me exhaustion (34 times) and the messianic cult of personality; 3) the 50/50, split-the-difference trope; 4) the straw man: on the one hand there are realists, on the other idealists, and I Obama singularly reject this either/or dichotomy (as if no one else does as well); 5) veiled attacks on the previous administration; 6) reference to his own unique personal story; 7) good-war/bad-war theory of Afghanistan and Iraq; 8) the hopey-changy rhetorical flourish.

Is there a Microsoft program somewhere that writes these things out?

Peter Wehner at The Corner:

How individuals and nations travel that journey in an imperfect world, one inhabited by violent and malevolent men, is a question that has been debated and that people have struggled with throughout the ages. How can those who say they long for peace justify war? What makes war just? When can it be justified on humanitarian grounds?

President Obama’s Nobel address didn’t add to (or better articulate) what others have said about these matters. But that doesn’t mean Obama’s speech wasn’t impressive. It was, in terms of its ambition, in its willingness to address a morally complicated matter in a serious way, and in the judgments at which Obama finally arrived. He provided — for the first time, really — a strong moral justification for his decision to send troops to Afghanistan.

Joe Klein at Swampland at Time:

How does a rookie President, having been granted the Nobel Peace Prize, go about earning it? Well, he can start by giving the sort of Nobel lecture that Barack Obama just did, an intellectually rigorous and morally lucid speech that balanced the rationale for going to war against the need to build a more peaceful and equitable world. The first half of the speech, in which the President made the case for Just Wars, will be the part that makes news. It was especially notable because it was delivered to an elite European audience, denizens of a continent where the most vicious warfare conducted in the history of humankind has been replaced by a facile moral superiority (made possible by the U.S. force of arms during the Cold War). But Obama’s clarity would also have been useful last week when he gave a more grudging, less straightforward, speech at West Point, announcing his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Conor Friedersdorf at American Scene on Frum

George Packer in the New Yorker

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Tragedy In Texas

fthood

David Sessions at Politics Daily:

The U.S Army has confirmed that 12 people have been killed and at least 30 injured in a shooting at Fort Hood, a military base near Killeen, Texas. One of the dead is a police officer, NBC reports, who was killed when a gunman opened fire on a SWAT team. Reports say that one gunman is in custody and at least one other is on the loose. The gunmen were wearing military uniforms.

Fort Hood, home to nearly 50,000 active and enlisted service members, is currently on lockdown.

Follow the story at AOL News for the latest.

Dave Schuler

Allah Pundit:

No word yet on motive, but the fact that at least three gunmen are involved already has Shuster and Miklaszewski mentioning similarities to the Fort Dix Six plot on MSNBC. Seven dead, 12 wounded so far. Supposedly two of the gunmen are still at large and one has fired shots at the SWAT team on the scene.

[…]

Update: Hmmmm: “A senior administration official told NBC News analyst Roger Cressey that the suspect who was in custody was an Army major with an Arabic-sounding name. The official said the shootings could have been a criminal matter rather than a terrorism-related attack and that there was no intelligence to suggest a plot against Fort Hood.”

Update: The suspect’s name, via ABC: Major Malik Nadal Hasan.

The suspected gunman was identified as Major Malik Nadal Hasan. He was killed and two other suspects have been apprehended, Lt. Robert W. Cone said.

The gunman used two handguns, Cone said. He wasn’t sure if the shooter reloaded the weapons during the attack.

The general called the attack “a terrible tragedy, stunning.” He said the community was “absolutely devastated.”

According to Brian Ross at ABC, Hasan was a convert to Islam.

The Jawa Report

Gregg Levine at Firedoglake:

UPDATE 4: KCEN TV reports that 500 soldiers are sweeping across Fort Hood. Killeen police are also surrounding the base. Fort Hood officials expected to brief the press shortly. TX Gov. Perry has scheduled a press conference for 5pm EST (not sure if that is EST or TX time).

Local TV reports that two suspects are now in custody (but, honestly, I am not sure how they are confirming that).

UPDATE 5: NBC’s Pete WIlliams is reporting that the one shooter confirmed apprehended was an “officer” on base. CNN is reporting 9 dead.

UPDATE 6: Olga Peña (Killeen Daily Herald)  is reporting that shooter in custody is a 40 year old male. MSNBC refers to him as an “Army Major.”

UPDATE 7: Army spokesman confirms 12 dead. All casualties took place during the initial shooting at the Soldier Readiness facility. All were US military personnel. The one confirmed shooter was shot and killed by military personnel on the scene. Two other suspects in custody. One police officer also now reported dead, according to Army spokesman.

UPDATE 8: President Barack Obama expressed his sympathies during a pre-scheduled appearance at the Tribal Nations Conference.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:

There’s no reason to get ahead of the story. But CNN is saying the two men in custody are “suspects” and “under arrest.” The shooter, Maj. Malik Hasan Nadal, was killed. The two men are also members of the military.

UPDATE: Rick Moran

The rationalizations for Major Hasan’s rampage – his motives, his state of mind, even the environment in which he carried out his horrific attack – are being tossed about the blogosphere on both sides as if everything that can be known about the circumstances has already been revealed.

This must be the case because without any definitive word from authorities, from his friends and associates, or from Hasan himself, both lefty and righty blogs have already “solved” the mystery of motive and any argument to the contrary is “racist,” or “pro-jihad,” or “hate speech,” or “political correctness.” By far the most bizarre explanation for Hasan’s killing spree is that it was the result of some kind of weird Post Traumatic Stress Disorder transference where the good doctor heard so many horrible tales of what happened in Iraq that he cracked.

News flash: Everyone can’t be right. In fact, it is likely everyone is wrong. Was it an example of Muslim extremist terrorism? Or a reaction to bullying and name calling by brother officers? Or the prospect of being deployed to Iraq? A combination? None of the above?

I am making the same argument I made when six police officers were gunned down in Pittsburgh – the result, we were told, of the maniac listening to conservative talk radio and reading conservative literature. Trying to glean motive when a madman acts insanely is an exercise in futility. This is especially true when you pull such theories out of your ass because no investigation had been made at that point into the shooter’s motives.

Brainwashing and indoctrination are a separate issue. In this case, we know he attended a wahabbist mosque headed up by a radical imam. But regardless of the personal views of the imam, there apparently wasn’t a terrorist cell operating out of the mosque, nor are we aware that the imam preached jihad. Even if he did, there is absolutely no evidence that the kind of “immersion” necessary to brainwash an individual into committing suicide attacks was available to Hasan at his place of worship.

Needless to say, we are unaware of any other members of that mosque going on a shooting rampage anywhere in the US.

I am going to be accused of being in “denial” about this incident being a terrorist attack. I would rather be accused of waiting until the facts are in before making a judgment like that. I will also be accused of ignoring “Islamaphobia” and the terrorizing prospect of Hasan being sent to Iraq. I am not ignoring anything. Well…almost anything. Anyone who accuses me of ignoring “PTSD transference” as a motive is a loon. Not only because no one has ever heard of it but for the simple reason that only a psychological evaluation – not done yet – could uncover such a reason.

Rod Dreher

If it were easy to draw a direct line between Islamic faith and yesterday’s massacre, wouldn’t you expect the 3,000 or so Muslims in the U.S. Armed Forces to be doing this sort of thing more often? Wouldn’t you expect to see more of it in America than we do? I think decent, fair-minded Americans have to sympathize with Reihan’s concerns, and to resist drawing firm conclusions based on overgeneralizations that don’t fit the evidence.

On the other hand, it is also wrong to pretend that the Muslim religion had nothing to do with this massacre, that it is mere happenstance that this mass murderer’s crime was incidental to his Islamic faith. The US is in a war against Islamist terrorism. What Hasan did yesterday, on the evidence, was an act of Islamist terror. Period. When a devout Christian commits an act of violence against an abortion clinic, and does so pretty clearly in the name of his religion, it would be an act of stupidity, and possibly moral cowardice, to declare an investigation of his religious motive off-limits. And, in fact, we don’t do that, even as we are, or ought to be, aware that the overwhelming majority of Christians neither commit nor endorse such acts. Similarly, it is right and proper to have a critical discussion of the role Hasan’s religion played in this evil act, if only so we can identify Muslims like him in the future before they’re tempted to act on their convictions.

Ed Morrissey:

I agree with Rick Moran to some extent that casting this as an example of a pending wave of Islamic jihad in the US is just a wee bit premature, as well as a pending wave of fraggings over US war policy, etc etc etc.  Hasan appears to be a lunatic whose motivations — at least as far as we know at this point — are entirely his own delusions.  We shouldn’t be afraid to report the facts, but we should be wary about drawing wide-reaching conclusions from them until we have a lot more certainty.

Michelle Malkin

Victor Davis Hanson at The Corner:

In reaction officials and news people often opt for therapeutic exegeses — stress, often of the post-traumatic sort, ill-feeling and bias shown Muslims, family problems, or brainwashing by nefarious outside actors — to explain the cold-blooded nature of the murdering. (I am watching on the news a family member eagerly explain past prejudice shown the killer and, despite his adept handling of firearms to shoot over 40 people, the murderer’s being ill-at-ease with firearms.)

Far more rarely do they ever suggest that the Islamist notion abroad that America is to blame for mostly self-induced pathologies in the Islamic world mostly goes unquestioned here at home — and as a result filters down to the lone angry and violent here as the belief that there is some sort of cosmic justification that can amplify their own outrage at a sense of personal failure or setback.

If it is shown that the present killer openly in the past expressed sympathies for or tolerance of Islamist violence abroad, one would have expected, in the current climate of fear of being seen as illiberal or judgmental, little repercussions or formal preemptory action to preclude the possibility of future violence.

In other words, the narrative after 9/11 largely remains that Americans have given in to illegitimate “fear and mistrust” of Muslims in general. A saner approach would be to acknowledge that there is a small minority of Muslims who channel generic Islamist fantasies, so that we can assume that either formal terrorist plots or individual acts of murder will more or less occur here every three to six months.

John Nichols at The Nation:

It should be understood that to assume a follower of Islam who engages in violence is a jihadist is every bit as absurd as to assume that a follower of Christianity who attacks others is a crusader. The calculus makes no sense, and it is rooted in a bigotry that everyone from George W. Bush to Pope Benedict XVI has condemned.

But that did not stop right-wing web sites from responding to the release of the suspect’s name — and no other details — with incendiary speculation about a “Jihad at Fort Hood?” and a “Terrorist Incident in Texas.”

Fox News host Shepard Smith asked Senator Hutchison on air: “The name tells us a lot, does it not, senator?”

Hutchinson’s response? “It does. It does, Shepard.”

With those words, the senator leapt from making assumptions about one man to making assumptions about a whole religion.

What could Hutchinson have said that might have been more responsible response?

She could have emphasized that the investigation of the shooting spree has barely begun.

She might also have noted that thousands of Muslims serve honorably, indeed heroically, in the U.S. military; that American Muslim soldiers have died In Iraq and been buried at Arlington Cemetery; that some of the first condemnations of the slayings at Fort Hood came from Muslim veterans such as Robert Salaam.

“I’m sad for those killed and wounded by a traitor to both God and our country, and I regret that I even feel that I have to write something on the subject. Words cannot express my emotions and the instant headache I received when notified by my dear sister Sheila Musaji over at The American Muslim (TAM) concerning the alleged culprit,” wrote Salaam, who served in the Marine Corps, within minutes after learning the gunman’s name. “They have not yet released further details such as the motive but I will state for the record that no true Muslim could ever commit such a crime against humanity. As Muslims we are reminded that to take one innocent life is as if one killed all of mankind. Muslims are also commanded to keep their oaths when given.”

David Frum with some pictures

UPDATE: Robert Wright in the NYT

UPDATE #2: Christopher Hitchens in Slate

UPDATE #3: Robert Wright and Christopher Hitchens at Bloggingheads

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We Continue With “A Governor Is Resigning (No, Not That One)”

Sarah Palin resigning gets two posts. Maybe three, depending on what happens into the next week.

Andrew Sullivan has a round-up. John Cole, Digby, Ezra Klein, etc…

Mark Steyn at The Corner:

National office will dwindle down to the unhealthily singleminded (Clinton, Obama), the timeserving emirs of Incumbistan (Biden, McCain) and dynastic heirs (Bush). Our loss.

Victor Davis Hanson at The Corner

Charles Johnson at LGF

John Dickerson in Slate:

Maybe she’s just being mavericky? Perhaps. That’s certainly how she framed her departure. To stay in office as a lame duck would have been to do the predictable thing, she said. But the challenge for Palin in the 2008 presidential campaign and again now is persuading voters that her maverick instinct isn’t just unpredictability and erratic behavior—qualities that can turn maverick-ness into a liability. Only dead fish go with the flow, she said, in what was a welcome addition to the political phrase book. But if you’re not swimming with the current, your options are still tough ones: Either you’re swimming upstream, or you’re flapping around on the dock.

Bruce Reed in Slate

Jennifer Rubin in Commentary

Dave Noon:

Seriously, what sort of “creative extremism” is Palin supposed to practice now that she’s gone Galt on Alaska and thrown off the gubernatorial shackles? Will she ride a unicycle? Wander the land holding a giant puppet? I must confess that I don’t understand why folks are straining to find some sort of credible motive or strategy in Palin’s resignation, as if she actually still possessed a political future, much less a chance of running the country. Though we have a tradition in the US of electing Presidents who have lost previous campaigns for lower office, there’s no precedent for advancing quitters to the White House.

Mark Kleiman

Jon Henke:

There’s no doubt that Gov. Palin and her family have been through a very difficult year, and I sympathize with a desire to get out of the public spotlight. I hope that is what’s happening here, because it’s just not plausible that quitting the only significant political accomplishment on her resume would help Sarah Palin in a Presidential run.  It’s awfully hard to go from “Alaska is better off if I am not Governor” to “Who wants to elect me President?”

On the other hand, Lefties can spare me their wailing and gnashing of teeth over just how irresponsible it is to quit in the middle of your first term.  Take it up with the President first.

Paul Krugman

Ed Kilgore in TNR

Matthew Continetti in TWS

Palin’s surprise announcement was another reminder of how impulsive a politician she is. She zig-zags from office to office, from Republican Revolutionary to bipartisan champion of clean government, with nary a second thought. She resigned from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission suddenly to make a point about self-dealing. She entered the race to unseat Frank Murkowski in October 2005, months before the primary. She accepted John McCain’s offer to be his vice presidential nominee without hesitation.

Indeed, Palin’s surprise move yesterday was another reminder of how she and McCain are so similar (remember McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign?). They are both spontaneous and unpredictable. They are both known for their attitudes rather than their policies. They are both political gamblers, and they both have been extremely lucky. But sometimes luck runs out.

And sometimes it doesn’t. “She is a lot of things,” another Alaska Republican wrote me in an email. “But NOT stupid …”

EARLIER: A Governor Is Resigning (No, Not That One)

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey with a video clip

Andrew Sullivan

Josh Marshall at TPM

Chris Dierkes at The League

UPDATE #2: Three posts at Hot Air, one from Robert Stacy McCain, one from Karl and Ed Morrissey

John Podhoretz in Commentary

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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