I got this picture while stopped in a traffic jam in Marin County:
UPDATE: And on a related note, news you can use from Austin, Texas.
This is as pithy a summary as any I’ve seen about the antisemitism permeating Occupy Wall Street, and binding together the Left, the Islamists, and the White Supremacists:
(If the video isn’t showing up, watch here.)
By the way, why is no one commenting on the fact that the so-called 99% are not a monolithic block, but range from the 1% crazy guy eating food out of a garbage can, all the way up to the 98% gal who was raised in poverty, but worked her way up to splendid financial independence?
This whole 99% versus 1% thing is insanely stupid. The American reality is that we don’t live in the Middle Ages, we don’t live in a totalitarian dictatorship such as North Korea or Cuba, we don’t live in pre-Revolutionary France, or in any other time or place where the vast majority of citizens are or were a monolithic block of nasty, brutish and short lives, rules over by a few vastly wealthy despots.
Yes, there are some vastly wealthy people in America, although the ones such as Bill Gates and Larry Ellison are singularly disinterested in political power, instead just wanting toys (Ellison) or to save the lives of Third World children (Gates). Mostly, America represents a rare economic continuum. There is no 99%. Instead, in America, we have the 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5% . . . 50%, 51%, 52%, 53% . . . 87%, 88%, 89%, with the vast majority living in the middle of the percentage bell curve, a bell curve that has nothing to do with either Wall Street wealth or Zuccotti homelessness or even spoiled brat student loans.
Hat tip: Ed Driscoll
Michael Cappi, who got interested in Islam after being near Ground Zero on 9/11, has written what looks like a must-read book called A Never Ending War. Jamie Glazon interviews Cappi at Front Page Magazine, and Cappi has some very interesting things to say about the nature of Islam, the Koran, War and the West:
If anyone takes the time to read the Qur’an the answer to your question is simple and very obvious. For accuracy purposes I read three versions. They all agree in principle. The Qur’an is nothing like the Bible or New Testament. In no way and certainly not in substance or intent is it similar. By the way any belief system can be perverted to nefarious ends but if the system itself is fundamentally benign or moral any perversion of its philosophical premises can be righted. However, when the belief system itself is corrupt or evil no good can come from it. The Qur’an is just such a belief system: it is a “blueprint for war” and for the subjugation of the non-believer. To the extent it deals with any aspect of morality it is similar to the Judeo-Christian ethic but only if this ethic is not in conflict with the goals of Islam’s spread and world conquest.
The Qur’an is filled with endless directives compelling Muslims to convert, conquer or kill non-believers and to conquer the non-Islamic world. Further Islam dictates that the Qur’an must be accepted and followed literally. Apostasy is heresy and punishable by death. It is this belief system that throughout history has caused Muslims to endlessly embark on conquest. In 1400 years of history the only time the West has been at “peace” with Islam was from the end of the Ottoman Empire early in the 20th Century through the end of World War ll. The reason for Islam’s dormancy during this brief period was the overwhelming superiority of the West technologically and economically along with the impoverished and largely uneducated Islamic world. The difference made it impossible for Islam to confront the West in any way. The vast quantity of money flowing into the Middle East from the sale of oil after WWII has allowed Islam to buy what it needs to once again begin its quest. The modern jihad was born.
The oil money has funded the terrorists, the construction of endless mosques and madrassas- Islamic religious schools – throughout the West. Both school and mosque almost all preach the most extreme form of Islam – Wahhabism. Our “friends” the Saudis fund most of these activities.
Perhaps that was a long-winded way of saying that Islam itself is the enemy, not a number of terrorist groups. Terrorism is one of Islam’s tools but it is the religion of Islam that is at war with us. One might ask how can a religion be at war with countries? The brief answer lies in the fact that there is no separation of church and state in Islam. The law of Islam is Shari’ and it is derived from the Qur’an and Haddiths. Every Muslim country in the world is governed by Shari’a. (Turkey is an exception but even it does not violate Shari’a and in fact is suffering an internal struggle to adopt overthrow its secular laws in favor of Shari’a.)
The central theme found throughout the Qur’an and embodied in Shari’a is a concept of a very definite world order. There can exist, according to Islam only two states in the world: dar al Islam – the realm of Islam and dar al harb – the realm of war. If you are not part of Islam you are at war with Islam. The war can take any form, be it terrorism, subversion or economics.
Through Shari’a the religion of Islam and the state of Islam are one. For a Muslim there is no conflict in this regard. The absolute essential theme of every action of every Islamic nation and practicing Muslim is the establishment of Shari’a in every country in the world just as Mohammed commanded through the Qur’an. This has been a driving force for 1400 years.
And for those of you who insist on linking Mormons to Islamists as a way to defeat Romney’s candidacy — stop that right now. I’m perfectly willing to concede that Mormon doctrine is strange to the uninitiated and that it is unforgivably derivative to Christian purists.
People also complaint about Mormonism’s subjugation of women, something that is certainly true for the more bizarre polygamists but that is not true for the mainstream Mormons. (And I say this as someone who knows many, many Mormon families.) The fact is that the Mormon approach to wives, although wrapped up in an admittedly peculiar afterlife doctrine, is in keeping with all Judeo-Christian religions that see a defined role for the woman that is separate from the man’s, and that gives the man pride of place in the family unit. The most explicit statement of this doctrine I’ve ever seen was at the very beautiful wedding of super-fundamentalist Christian friends. There the minister was at pains to remind the new wife that, just as Christ is the head of the Church, so her husband would be the head of the family. He also reminded the new husband, though, that whether in the Christian faith or the Christian family, a head with no body, or a head with a maltreated body, is ineffective at best and meaningless at worst.
To get back to Mitt — his Mormon faith believes in conversion through words and love, not through the sword which is the single most important distinction between it and Islam. There are a few other important distinctions, though, and we’d do well not to forget them. Mormonism it does not advocate the overthrow of the US government in favor of a Mormon theocracy; it does not advocate the subjection of Western women; it does not advocate the mass conversion of all Americans; and it does not consider Jews and other Christians to be inferior people who deserve death and slavery.
I could go on and on, but I hope you get my point. You may not like Mormonism (I don’t myself), but please do not fall in the prejudiced fallacy of likening a solid American Mormon to a wild Islamic fundamentalist.
I’ve noted in the past that I really, really like competence and the ability to take responsibility, both in the people who surround me and, especially, in the people who are tasked with guiding me. I’ve also noted that Mitt’s Mormonism isn’t a problem for me, and that it shouldn’t be a problem for people who are more religious than I am (something Dennis Prager has tackled too). I’ve been forgiving of his changed positions on abortion, because I understand those changes, having moved along that trajectory myself over the years.
Mona Charen now points to his spectacular achievements, achievements made all the more impressive by the fact that he makes it look easy:
But then Romney has been masterful in everything he has attempted. It is not insignificant that this cum laude JD/MBA graduate of Harvard guided Bain Capital to become a hugely successful private equity investment firm and rescued Bain & Company from financial collapse. Romney was brought in to save the 2002 Winter Olympics when the games were mired in scandal and $379 million in debt. Romney was able to turn the situation around completely so that the games actually turned a $100 million profit instead. (He also gave back his salary.) That’s not slick, that’s substance.
When Mitt Romney took office as governor of Massachusetts, the state had a $1.2 billion deficit. Four years later it was in surplus. He boasts that fourth and eighth graders in Massachusetts achieved the highest scores in the nation in reading and math, though they were doing so before he became governor as well. But his program of assessment, merit pay for good teachers, English immersion and a focus on math and science may have helped keep them at the top.
It is difficult to find any significant weakness in Romney. He is refreshingly articulate, exceedingly well prepared and self-disciplined, clearly an excellent manager with both private and government experience, happily married with a large, supportive family, and well within the mainstream of conservatism on every major issue. His nomination would not divide the base.
I also think that National Review is correct about the way in which his policies appeal to the broadest principles uniting conservatives (and you know that I care deeply about broad principles that ought to bind conservatives of all stripes):
Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.
It is true that he has less foreign-policy experience than Thompson and (especially) McCain, but he has more executive experience than both. Since almost all of the candidates have the same foreign-policy principles, what matters most is which candidate has the skills to execute that vision.
Like any Republican, he would have an uphill climb next fall. But he would be able to offer a persuasive outsider’s critique of Washington. His conservative accomplishments as governor showed that he can work with, and resist, a Democratic legislature. He knows that not every feature of the health-care plan he enacted in Massachusetts should be replicated nationally, but he can also speak with more authority than any of the other Republican candidates about this pressing issue. He would also have credibility on the economy, given his success as a businessman and a manager of the Olympics.
Some conservatives question his sincerity. It is true that he has reversed some of his positions. But we should be careful not to overstate how much he has changed. In 1994, when he tried to unseat Ted Kennedy, he ran against higher taxes and government-run health care, and for school choice, a balanced budget amendment, welfare reform, and “tougher measures to stop illegal immigration.” He was no Rockefeller Republican even then.
We believe that Romney is a natural ally of social conservatives. He speaks often about the toll of fatherlessness in this country. He may not have thought deeply about the political dimensions of social issues until, as governor, he was confronted with the cutting edge of social liberalism. No other Republican governor had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage. He was on the right side of both issues, and those battles seem to have made him see the stakes of a broad range of public-policy issues more clearly. He will work to put abortion on a path to extinction. Whatever the process by which he got to where he is on marriage, judges, and life, we’re glad he is now on our side — and we trust him to stay there.
As I noted above with reference to abortion, I’m untroubled by Romney’s changed positions over the years because two things have happened: (1) the world has changed dramatically since 9/11 and (2) he’s grown older. As to the first, it signals his intelligence that, in the face of drastic changes at home and abroad, he is capable of revisiting positions and recognizing that they are no longer viable, something the 60s liberals are utterly incapable of doing. This is not flip-flopping, because these appear to me to be principled changes reflecting reality, rather than any desperate attempt to keep to the right side of the polls. In this regard, no one should forget that, before the Nazis, Churchill was a liberal. And as to the second, we all know that people often settle into more conservative positions as they age as they grew in wisdom, stability and experience.
I think Giuliani is great and would happily vote for him as against any Democratic candidate. I’m more lukewarm about Thompson and McCain, but would still happily vote for them as against anyone the Democrats field. I could not vote for either Huckabee or Paul.
With regard to Huckabee, as I’ve said before, I’m sure he’s a very, very nice, good man, but am troubled by his aggressive Christianity, which indicates that he wants to become the nation’s pastor, rather than a Christian man who is president; his compassion run amok, which sees him pardoning evil people left and right (which is fine for an ordinary Christian, but profoundly dangerous for a political leader); his apparent greediness, which recalls another Arkansas governor’s conduct; his profound ignorance of and lack of curiosity about foreign affairs; the religious bigotry he displays in his attacks toward Romney; and his desire to have government police every aspect of my private life, including my diet. All of these things frighten me about him, and make him every bit as dangerous in my view as a big-government liberal. It would be the 1990s all over again, except with more God references.
And as for RuPaul, er, Ron Paul, his fellow travelers tell me too much about the man. He may be talking out loud as a libertarian, but there’s some subliminal code out there that is drawing to him every racist, neo-Nazi, American supremacist, antisemite in America. With that kind of baggage, who needs him?
And so I’m going to second National Review and endorse Romney. Failing some scandal or meltdown, I agree with the National Review that he is the most broadly conservative candidate and the most competent candidate. I’m also going to put my faith in the American conservative movement and assume that, in a race between Romney and any Democratic candidate, people who have doubts about Mormons will be able to put those doubts aside and vote for the candidate whose values and political outlook are most closely aligned with theirs.
On May 23, 2007, I did a post in which I looked at Mitt’s Mormonism, and concluded that it shouldn’t matter because his values are what counts, not the path he took to arrive at those values. Based on comments left in response to that post, I updated it to explain that, as far as I could tell, Evangelical Christians viewed Mormons in much the same way as Jews view Jews for Jesus — a purported religion that’s neither fish nor fowl, and that’s carpet bagging on an already established name. Here it is, seven months later, and Dennis Prager is saying exactly what I said (only better, of course, because he’s Dennis Prager):
Most traditional Christians regard Mormonism not merely as not Christian, but as a falsification of it. It does not matter to the vast majority of evangelicals if a candidate is a Christian. Most are quite prepared to vote for a non-Christian — a Jew, for example. And they are certainly prepared to vote for Christians with whom they differ theologically — whether non-evangelical Protestants or Roman Catholics.
But they do not regard Mormons as fellow Christians with whom they differ theologically; they regard them as having a theology so different from mainstream Christianity that they are no longer Christian. It is quite possible, even likely, that if Mormons simply announced they were not Christian, but a new religion, even one based on belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, evangelicals would have fewer objections to voting for a Mormon with whom they shared social values. Rightly or wrongly, many evangelicals resent Mormons calling themselves Christian.
It is analogous to the resentment among Jews of “Jews for Jesus.” What Jews resent is not that a Jew who adopts Christian beliefs has become a Christian — most Jews recognize that in a free society people convert to and from all religions. What many Jews resent is that “Jews for Jesus” call themselves Jews and not Christians after leaving Judaism (even while continuing to identify ethnically as Jews) and embracing Christianity. So, too, it is that Mormons call themselves Christians while embracing a different belief system that rankles so many traditional Christians.
The reason is — and I have come to this conclusion after a lifetime of interaction with people of almost all faiths and writing about and studying religion — theology does not appear to have much impact on people’s values. Liberal Christians and Jews share virtually no theological beliefs yet think alike about virtually every important social value. So, too, conservative Christians and conservative Jews share virtually no theological beliefs, yet they think alike about virtually every important social value.
Meanwhile liberal and conservative Protestants are in agreement on theological matters — both believe in the Trinity, in the Messiahship of Jesus, on Jesus being the Son of God, on salvation through faith rather than through works, and more — yet they differ about virtually every social value. Obviously, shared theology doesn’t create shared moral or social values.
Therefore the theological beliefs of a public figure should matter only when one is choosing a theological leader, never a political leader — unless those beliefs form the basis of social and moral values that one abhors. It is very important to know the theological beliefs of one’s clergyman or the head of one’s seminary, but as far as the head of one’s country is concerned, only his moral and social values matter. I would much sooner vote for an agnostic whose values I shared than for a believing Christian or Jew whose values I did not share.
I have to say, I’m quite flattered by comparing myself to Mr. Prager. Hah!