Harry Reid’s Damage Control

Sunday, per AP:

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose party campaigned in the November congressional elections on changing course in Iraq, said he would be open only to a short-term increase.

“If the commanders on the ground said this is just for a short period of time, we’ll go along with that,” said Reid, D-Nev., citing a time frame such as two months to three months. But a period of 18 months to 24 months would be too long, he said.

Today at Huffington Post:

“Frankly, I don’t believe that more troops is the answer for Iraq. It’s a civil war and America should not be policing a Sunni-Shia conflict. In addition, we don’t have the additional forces to put in there. We obviously want to support what commanders in the field say they need, but apparently even the Joint Chiefs do not support increased combat forces for Baghdad.”

Barack Hussein Obama and the Conservative Blogosphere

I recently discussed the conservative tactic of joking about Democrats until it becomes part of the mainstream viewpoint, including the recent jokes about Barack Hussein Obama’s middle name. For the most part, Obama’s name is thrown out in the hopes that people will demonstrate a reflex to avoid anyone named Hussein now that they have shown they have no qualms against someone whose name sounds like Osama. Debbie Schlussel actually tries to provide some justification for raising this issue:

And while Obama may not identify as a Muslim, that’s not how the Arab and Muslim Streets see it. In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim. He may think he’s a Christian, but they do not…

So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father’s heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?

Is that even the man we’d want to be a heartbeat away from the President, if Hillary Clinton offers him the Vice Presidential candidacy on her ticket (which he certainly wouldn’t turn down)?

NO WAY, JOSE . . . Or, is that, HUSSEIN?

Before taking this as yet another example of the insanity of the right wing blogosphere, it should be noted that some bloggers are objecting. Hot Air is “shall we say, skeptical in the extreme of both the reasoning and conclusion of this particular post.” The Poltical Pit Bull has a couple of objections, beginning with:

First of all, I have to say that it’s crap like this has helped the right side of the blogosphere gain a reputation as being anti-Muslim because implicit in Schlussel’s argument is the notion that no one with a Muslim name can ever be trusted to be against jihadism and loyal to the causes of the US. Of course, this is patently ridiculous since many of academic crusaders against jihad and Islamic extremism are Muslims.

Blue Crab Boulevard agrees with this objection, writing “Look, this is not constructive and not at all helpful to the political debate in the United States right now.”

Update: While for the most part I applauded the sanity of the conservative blogosphere in repudiating Schlussel’s post, Right Wing Nut House lived up to its name. They wrote:

With a predictability that would put a laxative to shame, the left holds up Schlussel’s severed head and proclaims her “Queen of the Conservative Blogosphere.”

I hate to bust up this self-congratulatory party fellas but if you bother to read any of the conservative blogs linking to Schussel’s piece, you would notice one curious thread that connects all of them:

Every single conservative or right of center blog that links to the piece strongly criticizes Schlussel for her bigotry and stupidity.

First of all, neither I or anybody else on the left I have seen post on this has proclaimed her to be anything like “Queen of the Conservative Blogosphere.” They also link to Oliver Willis who calls her not Queen but “trailer park version of Ann Coulter.” Secondly, one point of the post is that the conservative blogosphere is criticizing her over this. It appears that it is Right Wing Nut House which didn’t bother to read the posts they are attacking.

The conservative response to Schlussel does leave one question. Does this mean that conservative bloggers are going to cease trying to use nonsense such as Obama’s name against him? If they want to disagree with him on positions that is reasonable, but the use of his name is an absurd attack.

Update II: More at Media Matters.

The Libertarian Party Must Die

Bruce Bartlett makes a compelling case that the Libertarian Party must die in order for libertarian ideas to have a greater impact on both parties. While the Libertarian Party cannot win, the existence of the party does reduce the number of libertarians working in both parties where they might have impact. He recommends that the Libertarian Party be replaced with a libertarian interest group which works with both major parties:

In place of the party, there should arise a new libertarian interest group organized like the National Rifle Association or the various pro- and anti-abortion groups. This new group, whatever it is called, would hire lobbyists, run advertisements and make political contributions to candidates supporting libertarian ideas. It will work with both major parties. It can magnify its influence by creating temporary coalitions on particular issues and being willing to work with elected officials who may hold libertarian positions on only one or a handful of issues. They need not hold libertarian views on every single issue, as the Libertarian Party now demands of those it supports.

I believe that this new organization would be vastly more influential than the party and give libertarian ideas far more potency than they now have. As long as the party continues to exist, unfortunately, it will be an albatross around the necks of small-L libertarians, destroying any political effectiveness they might have. It must die for libertarian ideas to succeed.

Top Ten Myths About Evolution

Even if you don’t read the full book, the web site for The Top 10 Myths About Evolution gives a good summary on the topic. The book is an expansion of a previous article, Getting the Monkey off Darwin’s Back: Four Common Myths About Evolution. With this “myth inflation” here’s the current list:

Myth 1:
Survival of the Fittest

Myth 2:
It’s Just a Theory

Myth 3:
The Ladder of Progress

Myth 4:
The Missing Link

Myth 5:
Evolution is Random

Myth 6:
People Come from Monkeys

Myth 7:
Nature’s Perfect Balance

Myth 8:
Creationism Disproves Evolution

Myth 9:
Intelligent Design is Science

Myth 10:
Evolution is Immoral

From these summaries it definately looks like a book I’ll have to pick up.

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There is No Real America

When Republicans appeared to be in complete control I often noted how fragile their majority is. Now that Democrats are on the rise, E.J. Dionne sees this as a dramatic change. He writes “2006 is looking more and more like one of history’s hinge years, a moment when old ideas are cast aside, new leaders emerge and old leaders decide to speak in new ways.” There is truth to many of the changes he sees:

When the right seemed headed to dominance in the early 1990s, the hot political media trend was talk radio and the star was Rush Limbaugh, a smart entrepreneur who spawned imitators around the country and all across the AM dial.

Now the chic medium is televised political comedy and the cool commentators are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Their brilliant ridicule of the Bush administration and conservative bloviators satisfies a political craving at least as great as the one Limbaugh once fed. Stewart and Colbert speak especially to young Americans who rely on their sensible take on the madness that surrounds us. The young helped drive their popularity, and the Droll Duo in turn shaped a new, anti-conservative skepticism.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Democrats and liberals were said to be out of touch with “the real America,” which was defined as encompassing the states that voted for President Bush in 2004, including the entire South. Democrats seemed to accept this definition of reality, and they struggled — often looking ridiculous in the process — to become fluent in NASCAR talk and to discuss religion with the inflections of a white Southern evangelicalism foreign to so many of them.

Now the conventional wisdom sees Republicans in danger of becoming merely a Southern regional party. Isn’t it amazing how quickly the supposedly “real America” was transformed into a besieged conservative enclave out of touch with the rest of the country? Now religious moderates and liberals are speaking in their own tongues, and the free-thinking, down-to-earth citizens in the Rocky Mountain states are, in large numbers, fed up with right-wing ideology.

The political shift in the west may represent a change in party alignment, but for the most part things have not really changed radically. The country was never as universally red as those maps of red/blue states appeared. We’ve alternated between Democrats and Republicans in the White House, even if Republicans have had the edge in recent years. This edge, however, is largely due to a fluke in 2000. We all know of the many factors which could have easily changed the outcome in 2000, and that Bush ran pretending to be a “compassionate conservative” in order to win. The Republican edge in sparsely populated states gave them an advantage in the Senate, allowing them to control the Senate despite a majority of people voting for Democrats in Senate races.

This is a large and diverse country. NASCAR and evangelical cultures were never the sole cultures. Nor have they disappeared since the Democrats came back to power. Assuming that the Republicans will remain limited to the South is reminiscent of the Republican predictions of a permanent majority two years ago. It has been far easier for the Democrats to achieve support as the opposition party to an incompetent government than it will be to maintain support when they are in charge. Party positions do not remain stagnant and Republicans will either find a way to broaden their appeal to more groups or, less likely, they will be replaced by another party.

Unexpected events have also played a considerable role in the success of the parties. Butterfly ballots, devised by a Democrat with good intentions in Florida, were sufficient to shift the Presidency from Gore to Bush. The 9/11 attacks gave the Republicans an undeserved period of support despite how badly they botched both pre-9/11 efforts on terrorism and the response to the attack. While Americans were fooled following 9/11, Katrina revealed the truth and abruptly changed the fortunes of the Republicans. Failure in Iraq, and revelations of incompetent leadership, further turned national security from a plus to a negative for Republicans.

Dionne sees the election as redefining “The Real America.” There is no single real America with a diversity of cultures remaining. Most people are not as ideologically divided as the blogosphere and political columnists, and many can shift their votes from a Reagan to a Clinton and then to George W. Bush in a short period of time. If the Democrats govern foolishly, such as they did when backing Hillary Care before losing the Senate in 1994, they can see their majority disappear quickly. They do have the edge at present in light of the Republicans both being exposed for their incompetence and corruption and running on so many unpopular positions. Support for authoritarianism over freedom placed the Republicans on the wrong side of the flow of history. Ultimately political parties will be more successful whenever they can represent the variety of views and cultures in this country. When they attempt to represents the interests of only a narrow minority they will lose, as the Republicans learned this year.