http://frontpagemag.com/2013/davidhornik/kerrys-push-to-release-palestinian-terrorists/print/ Two months ago I reported here that Secretary of State John Kerry was—in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon terror attack—pressuring Israel to release heinous terrorists from prison. The rationale: such a release was being demanded by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and would get him to resume peace negotiations with Israel after […]
http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/obamnesty/print/ Marco Rubio has become the public face of amnesty, but the fate of Senator Cormyn’s border security amendment is a warning that it is the private face of amnesty that matters more than its public face. Cormyn’s amendment might have held up legalization until border security was in, though it probably wouldn’t even have […]
The bicentennial of Soren Kierkegaard’s birth passed on May 5 unremarked by the political caste, although a dozen scholarly festivals quietly honored his anniversary. That is a hallmark of our intellectual poverty. The casual reader knows the Danish philosopher as the midnight reading of angst-ridden undergraduates and the stuff of existential pop psychology.
That is a sad outcome, for Kierkegaard is one of most rigorous philosophers, despite his exhortative style. He asserted the primary of passion, not in the vulgar sense of aroused emotions, but as the primary ontological substance from which our world is built. In a passion-torn world, we should ignore the pop versions and read him more closely.
If asked, “Who is your favorite political philosopher?,” as were the Republican candidates in the 1980 presidential primary, I would have answered, “Kierkegaard.” (Actually, it’s Franz Rosenzweig, but no-one has heard of him).
Of course, I would have lost. Passion is passé. Kierkegaard’s outlook is close to that of the radical Protestants who fought the American Revolution and the Civil War, but at odds with the main currents of modern conservative thought, that is, classical political rationalism and Catholic natural law theory. Kierkegaard still has a redoubt at St Olaf’s College in Minnesota, which sponsors translations and maintains a library of scholarly materials, and a few other Protestant institutions. But one never hears his name in a political context.
Closer to the conservative mainstream is my friend Peter Berkowitz in his 2012 book Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation. As Stanley Kurtz summarized his view at National Review, “By moderation Berkowitz means something a bit different than the everyday use of the word, otherwise Buckley and Reagan wouldn’t qualify. Political moderation, says Berkowitz, “doesn’t mean selling out causes or making a principle of pragmatism.” A true understanding of moderation can even dictate strong stances and bold opposition to popular movements. Real political moderation, Berkowitz explains, means balancing worthy yet competing principles and putting them effectively into practice.” As a matter of practice, Berkowitz “calls on conservatives to make a peace of sorts with both the sexual revolution and the fundamentals of the New Deal welfare state, without, on the other hand, surrendering either their fundamental principles or their core battles.”
There is much wisdom in Berkowitz’s view. Still, I disagree with him on two grounds.
Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, has generated headlines lately by urging singer Alicia Keys to avoid “soul danger” and cancel her July 4 concert in Tel Aviv. Keys and other celebrities should ignore Walker and visit Israel. They may be amazed at what they discover.
I was fortunate to see Israel for the first time last week, thanks to the America-Israel Friendship League. Five of the eleven journalists on AIFL’s fact-finding trip were new here. Keys and other artists likely would find Israel at least as surprising as we did.
First and foremost, Israel’s omnipresence in the U.S. media makes it sound like a superpower. But as much as anything, Israel is impressively compact. At just 7,992 square miles, it is slightly larger than Clark County, Nevada (greater Las Vegas), but smaller than New Hampshire.
Israel is not just small. It’s svelte. At its thinnest point, near Netanya — just north of Tel Aviv — Israel spans just nine miles. The land separating Israel’s Mediterranean beaches from its border with the Palestinian Authority covers roughly the same distance as does Manhattan between Battery Park and the Apollo Theater on 125th Street, or Los Angeles from the Santa Monica Pier to the La Brea Tar Pits. Conquer those nine miles, and you chop Israel in two. Given this existential danger, the late foreign minister Abba Eban called this and the rest of Israel’s narrow waistline its “Auschwitz boundaries.”
Nevertheless, Israel is the little country that could. Within a desert that is hostile in every sense, Israel has become a prosperous nation with a per capita income of $29,512, its Central Bureau of Statistics reports. In 2012, Israel’s GDP expanded by 2.7 percent, while America’s grew just 2.2 percent. Israel’s unemployment rate is 6.9 percent, vs. 7.6 percent in the U.S.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/351815/immigration-if-bill-passes-victor-davis-hanson There are lots of reasons to believe that most of what is promised in the current so-called comprehensive immigration-reform bill won’t be honored if it is passed by the full Congress and signed by the president. First, this administration does not have a reliable record of living up to its policy promises. Obamacare — […]
One gauge of a president’s favorability is the assorted descriptors the public volunteers to a pollster about the leader of the Free World. The Pew Research Center has tracked the assorted description of President Obama over the years, and has this to say:
“The survey finds that the one-word impressions people have of Obama have changed a great deal throughout his presidency. Terms like incompetent and liar now are among the most frequently used words to describe Obama. In April 2009, when his job approval was at 63%, these words were rare,” Pew says.
“Some positive descriptions – such as good and honest – continue to be used often to characterize impressions of Obama. And the word socialist is used about as often today as it was in Obama’s first year in office.”
I’m still a bit confused about the brouhaha surrounding Edward Snowden. I’m not sure what he has said that is really new. I mean, what did we think was going on in all those mammoth NSA installations? What were they doing with all those satellites revolving around our heads, collecting jelly beans?
I assumed they were gathering everyone’s emails, texts, phone calls, and just about any other form of information, digital or otherwise, known to man or woman. And, though I don’t think I’m particularly brilliant for doing so, I’ve been assuming that for some time. 1984 began for me in 1987 at the latest. (In case you didn’t realize it, the NSA has been around since 1951!  Its origins under other names are yet earlier.)
I’m even unimpressed with the revelation that our tech giants — Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. — have been involved. Why wouldn’t they want to cooperate with government as they expand their server farms across miles of our country? It makes perfect business sense.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a brief for Snowden. He seems to be a new form of narcissistic international creep, similar to Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame. I hope he gets dysentery in Ecuador or wherever he winds up.
But he may have done us a favor, putting an exclamation point on the activities of the NSA so there are no doubts. He also has made obvious the utter contempt with which Russia and China treat the Obama administration. (Evidently this was surprising to Dianne Feinstein  on Face the Nation Sunday. Go figure.)
Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan once remarked that for him democracy was like a bus ride, once he gets to his stop he will get off. It is no coincidence that Turkish protesters currently facing severe crackdowns in their bid to save Istanbul’s Gezi Park often refer to their prime minister as a dictator, or authoritarian at the very least.
The reality is that Erdoğan’s power was achieved by the slow erosion of the country’s delicate system of checks and balances, vital for any healthy democracy. Erdoğan also exploited deficiencies within the democratic system.
A major flaw of Turkey’s voting method of proportional representation is its extremely high threshold. For a political party to gain seats in Parliament it must win at least 10 percent of the popular vote. This is despite the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s recommendation that the threshold be no higher than 3 percent. When a threshold is too high the winning party gains a disproportional amount of additional seats.
This is exactly what happened when Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the 2002 election. Although it received just 34 per cent of the vote, his party was a few seats short of having a two-thirds majority in Parliament. There were similar outcomes in subsequent elections.
http://pjmedia.com/jchristianadams/2013/06/23/revealed-u-s-justice-department-and-new-hampshires-criminal-investigation-of-james-okeefes-voter-id-video/?print=1 PJ Media has obtained documents demonstrating that the New Hampshire attorney general was in discussions with Eric Holder’s Department of Justice regarding filing criminal charges against journalist James O’Keefe after he exposed vulnerabilities in New Hampshire’s electoral system in the January 10, 2012, presidential primary. In his hidden-camera investigation, O’Keefe demonstrated how the lack […]
In an important article  for FrontPage Magazine, “recovered” Muslim Bosch Fawstin acknowledges that “Muslims who take Islam seriously are at war with us and Muslims who don’t aren’t. But,” he continues, “that doesn’t mean we should consider these reluctant Muslims allies against Jihad…they give the enemy cover..indifferen[t] about the evil being committed in the name of their religion…prov[ing] in their silence and inaction against jihad that they are not on our side either.” Whether they know it or not, or whether they are merely indifferent to the activities of the “radical” wing of the religion they profess, or whether some — a very few — are doctrinally committed to the reinterpretation of the canonical literature, “moderates” in their adherence to traditional dogma or even in their obliviousness to the axioms of Islamic orthodoxy are the sine qua non for the perpetuation of Islam as understood and pursued by those who would subjugate the liberal West to their totalitarian creed. And the latter’s understanding of the faith is correct, as David Hayden methodically shows in his masterful Muhammad and the Birth of Islamic Supremacism , a must-read for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Islam is jihad. There is nothing moderate about it.
We might say, metaphorically, that “moderate” Muslims resemble the innocent and unwitting carriers of a deadly virus. They have not deliberately caused the epidemic of Jihaditis from which millions of their fellows suffer, but they allow it to spread unchecked if they do not recognize the affliction and seek appropriate treatment. For Islam itself is the pretext and warrant for both overt violence against and covert subversion of Western cultural and institutional life, and there is no Islam without the sustaining habitat provided by the moderates. It is in this sense that moderation is complicit with extremism, the former supplying the empirical ground in which the latter can take root. The one is dependent on the other for its viability, substance, and effect. Put plainly, there is no jihadi violence (al-Qaeda, etc.) or internal sabotage (Muslim Brotherhood) without Islam, and there is no Islam without the enveloping milieu afforded by the vast community of believers, nominal or otherwise. “The nature of the problem,” writes British lawyer Gavin Boby, who directs the Law and Freedom Foundation , “may be doctrine rather than people, but the harsh fact is that doctrines are sustained by people” (personal communication). The logic is unassailable; regrettably, “moderate” Muslims are impervious to it.
There is a temptation to regard “moderate” Muslims of a special stamp — namely those whom Fawstin calls the “very rare Muslim[s] who help us against Jihad” — as contemporary Mu’tazilites and heroes of a reforming faith, who see themselves as allies of the democratic West. The Mu’tazilites were the eighth-and-ninth century sect thought to have struggled for the primacy of reason, freedom of the will, and the value of the individual, and their legacy has been revived by certain Islamic philosophers. The Iranian scholarly dissident Abdolkarim Soroush , for example, who has been called the Martin Luther of Islam, describes himself  as a “Neo-Mu’tazilite,” stressing that “the rationality of their school is extremely valuable” and can “bring new gains [in] using tradition and…extricating ourselves from tradition.”
However, Andy Bostom, erudite scholar of Islam and respected friend, has taken issue with this characterization. The Mu’tazilites, for all their relatively advanced thinking, were a truly nasty bunch and acted as a mihna or an Islamic inquisition against their opponents. Citing the doyen of Islamic studies Ignaz Goldziher, Bostom writes “the Mu’tazilites’ own orthodoxy was accompanied by fanatical intolerance” and “advocated jihad in all realms where their doctrine was not ascendant” (Sharia versus Freedom , Chapter 30, “Mutazilite Fantasies,” pp. 383-389).