Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Rice is nice

Posted: 24 Aug 2010 07:16 PM PDT

Thanks to the promotion department at 1057 FM - the Fan,


I was invited to bring a guest to get photographed with Ray Rice


My guest was my 11 year old Ravens fanatic son, who has been walking on air since he found out that he'd get to be photographed with Ray Rice.

Rice was attending the kickoff of Checkpoint Strikeforce, a multistate anti-drunk driving inititiative for Maryland.

The event was MC'd by Norris and Davis, co-host, Steve Davis.


The line of the night (I think) went to Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown who said (something like), "When Anthony Brown speaks people listen, but you need to have Ray Rice to get the people to come to listen.


Ray Rice, himself, spoke about the loss of his cousin S.U.P.E. in 1998 to a drunk driver.


My son got to see Ray Rice up close. I don't think he said anything to us, but he was gracious, and the picture came out great.

Thanks to the promotions department at The Fan, for giving my son a real treat!

What if Rauf really is "moderate"?

Posted: 24 Aug 2010 01:57 PM PDT

Christopher Hitchens has a current piece on the Mosque-troversy. Besides hoping that means his cancer treatments are gong well, I would like to examine what he has to say. He dismisses the objections of many on the right as "stupid and demagogic," but continues:

From the beginning, though, I pointed out that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was no great bargain and that his Cordoba Initiative was full of euphemisms about Islamic jihad and Islamic theocracy . . .

Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything "offensive" to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter ...

Which sounds like the problem might be terrorism after all, doesn't it? Leaving that point aside, Hitchens presents his reservations as pertaining to Rauf himself. I wonder, however, if the left is correct, in a sense, that Rauf is the face of Muslim moderation. In other words, I hate to break it to you, Clash of Civilizations Fans, but it's him or nothing--all the non-marginal alternatives are worse. Or worse still, perhaps the alternatives are actually more of the same, minus Rauf's obviously ample marketing abilities.

I am not trying to make some point about the essential nature of Islam. The good thing about not being a Muslim is that you don't have to believe Islam has an essence--it is whatever its adherents make of it. Unfortunately, nowadays that mostly involves funding from oil sheikdoms and the sort of ideology they favor, which usually seems to come from Egypt.

See the rest of what Hitchens has to say to learn "why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous."

Crossposted on Judeopundit

Peace is coming, why am i annoyed?

Posted: 24 Aug 2010 06:22 AM PDT

In Mideast Talks to look forward to? David Makovsky writes:

Security cooperation between the PA and Israel has substantially improved. In 2002, 410 Israelis were killed by suicide bombings and other attacks emanating from the West Bank; in the past three years, Israel has suffered one fatality from one such attack. Speaking in Washington this year, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the situation on the ground "is better than any time in the past." Israeli charges that the Palestinians have a "revolving door" approach of releasing terrorists after quick arrests -- rampant during the Arafat era -- are no longer heard. A Palestinian nonviolent protest movement has been born.

What's missing from this? Well between 2002 and now, Israel fought Operation Defensive Shield, which seriously damaged the terror organizations in the areas under Palestinian Authority's control. Israel also has been building its much maligned security fence. If it hadn't been for Israeli actions, there would be Palestinian security apparatus to cooperate with. But not mentioning the actions Israel has taken, Makovsky implicitly affirms that there is not military solution to terrorism. But Israel's defensive measures have been successful.

Makovsky writes further:

Religious and education reforms have started, including a major effort to identify those imams who agitate for suicide bombings. PA Religion Minister Mahmoud Habbash told me, and Israeli security officials confirm, that such imams have been removed from all Palestinian mosques under PA jurisdiction. "Hamas has been running our mosques for 30 years, and we are trying to take the mosques back so they are used only for prayer," Habbash told me.

The PA has begun reshaping the curriculum of Palestinian institutions that accredit imams, and screening is also being conducted to weed out schoolteachers who support Hamas radicalism. PA security officials say 1,100 of the 28,000 Palestinian teachers in the West Bank have been replaced. Incitement would be further reduced if, among other things, the practice of naming town squares and camps after the killers of yesteryear ended.

I don't know how accurate the claim that inciting imams have been removed from PA mosques. PMW reported last month that a PA imam said:

"The Al-Aqsa Mosque is threatened by the plans of the enemies of Allah [the Jews], who have violated all faith and religious laws, and even deviated from their humanity."

Perhaps my threshhold for incitement is lower than that of the Palestinian Religion Minister.

More troublesome though, is that over the past 17 years we've been told that Israel didn't do this or didn't do that for peace. Yet by Makovsky's account, the fundamental job of preparing its people for peace has been absent from from the PA. I'm less than convinced how effectively or completely the PA is fighting incitement, but if they're doing it now, it's because they made no effort before now.

There are two issues that are not about quiet policy shifts but will require conditioning of the populations: Jerusalem and refugees -- the narrative issues of the conflict that cut to the self-definition of the parties. The difficulties surrounding these issues have led some to question Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call to complete the talks in one year. But the hope is that progress on security and borders will facilitate political traction on these thornier topics.

If, however, that does not happen, the parties need to find ways to grapple with these final issues in a manner that does not cause other progress to unravel.

I think here that Makovsky's acknowledging that no final agreement is possible at this time. Certainly not in a year's time.

Barry Rubin explains why not:

--Hamas announces that since it totally rejects direct talks (much less any peace with Israel) as treason, it is stopping its own negotiations with the PA for cooperation or merger. This shows clearly that the PA cannot reach any deal with Israel (even if it wanted to do so) and deliver on its commitments because of the Hamas factor. Do also remember that not only does Hamas run the Gaza Strip but also has a very large base of support in the PA-ruled West Bank.

--Far from welcoming talks and expressing his eagerness to make peace and live alongside Israel, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas explains that he only requested permission from his true masters (the Fatah leadership) to go to talks for one month. It should be clearly understood that the Fatah leaders include three groups: old companions of Yasir Arafat, ideological hardliners, and perhaps about ten percent relative moderates. It doesn't want to make a permanent compromise peace with Israel.

--Some Fatah leaders are claiming that even this one-month permission isn't valid since there wasn't a quorum at the relevant meeting. In some cases, leaders stayed away on purpose so they could block direct negotiations.

--Other PA and Fatah leaders are unhappy that the U.S. officials claimed there were no preconditions for direct talks since the Palestinians wanted to be given everything (especially the 1967 borders and a state whether or not negotiations succeeded) in advance. Basically, they only want to accept a state from Western hands without any real compromises with Israel (recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, permanent end of conflict, settlement of all Palestinian refugees in Palestine, border changes, non-militarization, and security guarantees).

Prof Rubin adds that there may be a benefit to having talks and for the West to be promoting them, but the conditions are not right now for there to be any hopes of a quick and final agreement between israel and the Palestinians.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Obama <> reagan

Posted: 24 Aug 2010 04:14 AM PDT

via memeorandum.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote a few days ago that Reagan's first term offers measuring stick for Obama.

Obama's presidency has looked like Reagan's in some broad ways. Both men succeeded unpopular presidents of the opposite party. Both offered big and bold plans -- Reagan with massive tax cuts, Obama with a massive stimulus package and national health care -- that set the country in a new direction. Reagan's goal was to shrink government. Obama's efforts have enlarged government.

Both presidents were forced by events that preceded their elections to contend with economies in serious trouble. Both saw the unemployment rate rise sharply during their first two years in office -- under Reagan, the rate hit 10.8 percent by November 1982 -- and both saw their approval ratings decline as the numbers of jobless grew.

For much of this year, Obama and his team have taken some solace from the fact that Reagan's approval ratings were even lower at comparable points in his presidency. That is no longer the case. In the past week, Obama has hit a new low in his approval rating, according to Gallup's daily tracking. It now stands at 42 percent, virtually identical to Reagan's in August 1982. (Both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter dipped below 40 percent during their second year in office.)

Republicans suffered significant losses in the House in Reagan's first midterm election, giving Democrats an even larger majority. Most Democrats are braced for a similarly bad night this November.

However, at the end of the article there is a significant bit that perhaps ought to give the current administration pause:

Lynn Vavreck, a political scientist at UCLA and author of "The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns," said Obama and his advisers will have to swallow any significant losses in November and quickly put those results in the rearview mirror. "The only thing they should be focused on is growth," she said.

But she added a caveat. If the president and his team conclude that the economy will not be growing at a politically safe pace -- clearly above 3 percent -- by early 2012, then they need to start thinking about finding some other issue big enough to build a reelection campaign around.

"They have to refocus the whole election off the economy," she said.

If the economy doesn't improve in two years, it will be hard to take the focus off the economy and refocus the election to other issues. The problem with the administration's focus is that it's looking at political markers, when its fate will likely be determined by the economics of the time. Reagan took actions designed to restore economicy growth. While the Obama administration has taken the step of introducing "health care reform" ostensibly to help the least fortunate, it will impose huge costs on the economy, which will discourage growth.

William Inboden lists four differences between President Reagan and President Obama (h/t Peter Wehner):

Yet there are several other differences that Balz doesn't mention. Among them:

• Inflation. The economic recession that Reagan inherited was bedeviled not only by low growth and high unemployment (as with today), but also by an inflation rate of 11.8 percent when Reagan was inaugurated in January 1981. In contrast, Obama faced an inflation rate of 0 percent at his inauguration (though fears of deflation were in the air). To tackle this crippling inflation, Reagan supported Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker in hiking the federal funds rate to 20 percent, amid widespread criticism and resistance, especially from farmers and industry. This politically courageous monetary policy was as important as the tax cuts in eventually restoring growth.

• Congress. While Obama has enjoyed the luxury of his party's dominance in both houses of Congress, Reagan faced a harder political landscape in his first two years. The Democrats controlled the House by 244-191, and in the Senate 53 Republicans constituted a slim GOP majority.

• National Security. Reagan believed that the Soviet threat needed to be countered more aggressively and made doing so a centerpiece of his first term. This saw international tensions increase--and fears of nuclear war further heightened the anxiety of an American public already suffering from the recession. While Obama also faces manifest international challenges, in public messaging his administration has devoted comparatively little attention to security issues such as the terrorist threat and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If anything, they have sought to focus public attention and political capital almost exclusively on the domestic agenda.

• Leadership. Perhaps the most important dissimilarity is also the least tangible: an intuitive feel for the public mood and connection with the American people. Even some of Obama's most ardent supporters worry that he has either lost this connection or possibly never had it. Reagan always had it, which accounted for much of his enduring appeal even in politically trying times.

Inboden cutely observes about the administration's effort:

As politics goes, this is a clever try, if one can get past the irony of an administration simultaneously trying to dismantle the Reagan legacy while embracing the Reagan image.

The religious freedom argument

Posted: 24 Aug 2010 03:13 AM PDT

Some time after I first read a Washington Post editorial advocating for the Ground Zero Mosque (or Islamic center) on the grounds of religious freedom, I remembered that the Post's view on the topic wasn't necessarily so categorical.

Five years ago, when Congress was discussing extending Daylight Savings Time the Post ran an editorial, EDT Plus (July 28, 2005) which argued in part:

And Orthodox Jews who've protested that a sunrise past 8 a.m. would mean choosing between saying prayers and getting to work on time need fret only if they live in Alaska, western Montana, some parts of Idaho or that detached bit of Michigan.

The truth is that for Orthodox Jews who wish to pray with a quorum (or minyan), sunrise already at the end of October is already rather late and presents problems. The addition of another week of late sunrises is an added inconvenience.

If the Post had at least argued that the inconvience is regrettable but necessary for the greater good of saving energy I could have respected that. But the argument was rather was a mocking "it doesn't affect many people anyway," which is an odd argument if religious freedom is unconditional.

Now I understand that there are times when one group may be asked to sacrifice on account of a greater good. But given that there's no clearcut proof that daylight savings time actually saves energy, the inconveniece was imposed with no gain.

So for private individuals to ask Imam Rauf to worship someplace else is not a violation of is religious freedom. The government, can't demand that of him. But to use religious freedom as

It seems if the Washington Post's view of religious freedom as a defense of the building of the mosque, is awfully selective. Especially when there are significant arguments against building it that ought to be addressed and not simply dismissed.

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