Friday, March 24, 2006

Should Afghanistan "give in" to international pressure

and substitute international notions of basic human rights in place of its own constitution and religious mores?

This may sound like a callous question to raise regarding the case of the Afghan Christian convert facing a death penalty under Sharia law in Afghanistan.

But isn't this basically the complaint of far-right conservatives in this country when U.S. Supreme Court justices appear to base their decisions at least in part on international laws and concepts of human rights? Complaints that have, as the link points out, reached the level of death threats?

By all means, yes, let's bring to bear whatever pressure we can to prevent this execution from going forward, and in ensuring that governments in Afghanistan and Iraq understand the need to work towards pluralistic and Democratic societies. In his West Virginia appearance Wednesday, President Bush indicated the U.S. had the ability to apply such pressure and that he would ensure that it did.

But it points to one of the problems the nation faces in reconstructing governments and societies in the Middle East. And our interest in making sure that these budding democracies gain an appreciation for modernist international norms such as the freedom of religion, democracy, and the basic human rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" should serve as a barometer to our more home-grown conservative bretheran and sisterhood that these freedoms and rights apply to our own citizens as well.

And it should go without saying that NO ONE should be killed based on their religious beliefs. But the pre-modernist cultures of the Middle East are not alone in wanting to base their constitutions on centuries-old religious books of poetry and apocalyptic writing, as Christian Reconstructionists want to do today, or in favoring the execution of religious dissenters, as the Christian church did in the Middle Ages.

Jack Cafferty has a question

Tweety played host to an Army National Guardsman and his wife last night, the woman who asked President Bush at a bubble-protected appearance in West Virginia on Wednesday how they could get the media to report the good news in Iraq, instead of all the bad news.

Tweety fawned over the couple last night, telling the woman how brave she was for asking the President a question, and gee, yeah, maybe the media should do better at providing some "balance" to the Iraq coverage.

What a wanker that pseudo-populist Tweety is.

But thank goodness for Jack Cafferty:

From Crooks and Liars:

BLITZER: Very briefly, is there any sign of a backlash against the mainstream media because of our coverage of what's happening in Iraq?

KURTZ: Yes, among conservatives, among military family members and others. A lot of people, as we saw that woman from West Virginia, blaming us for the situation there.

CAFFERTY:..You know, I just have a question. I mean, part of the coverage, they don't like the coverage, maybe because we were sold a different ending to this story three years ago. We were told that we'd be embraced as conquering heroes, flower pedals strewn in the soldiers' paths, a unity government would be formed, everything would be rosy this -- three years after the fact, the troops would be home.

Well, it's not turning out that way. And if somebody came into New York City and blew up St. Patrick's Cathedral and in the resulting days they were finding 50 and 60 dead bodies a day on the streets of New York, you suppose the news media would cover it? You're damn right they would.

This is nonsense, it's the media's fault and the news isn't good in Iraq. The news isn't good in Iraq. There's violence in Iraq. People are found dead every day in the streets of Baghdad. This didn't turn out the way the politicians told us it would. And it's our fault? I beg to differ.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Powerline's Paul Mirengoff and Fox's Brit Hume Parrot Same GOP Talking Point on David Ignatius

A coincidence?

I rarely watch the Sunday talk shows but did turn in to see ReddHead from Firedoglake on C-Span's Washington Journal yesterday morning. ReddHead was on hand representing the liberal blogosphere and Paul Mirengoff from Powerline was there to represent the conservatives.

The portion of the panel I watched was largely uneventful, but I remember Mirengoff referencing a David Ignatius column in the Wash Post. According to Mirengoff, Ignatius is or has been a Bush-critic, particularly on the war, but in a recent column, Ignatius made what Mirengoff claims were statements to the effect that things are improving in Iraq, the president's policy is working, etc. So, see, says Mirengoff, even Bush's critics are coming on board (as former supporters, like National Review founder, William F. Buckley has, at least on the war, but I digress).

I don't follow Ignatius enough to know whether he's been a consistent Bush critic or not, and I didn't think much about Mirengoff's statement until this morning when my radio alarm woke me to the sounds of yesterday's taped round table panel discussion from Fox News Sunday.

And I heard administration-apologist Brit Hume make the same reference to Ignatius. Like Mirengoff, Hume conjured up the name David Ignatius, his status as legendary Bush critic, his perch at the Wash Post, and a recent column by the same in which the former Bush antagonist says his trip to Iraq and interviews with members of the U.S. military convince him the president is on the right track. Or words to that effect.

Anyway, I clicked on the Wash Post on-line op-ed pages and the last two columns by Ignatius are available and both seem to imply an optimistic message on Iraq, based, it appears, on his recent travel there (his stay presumably within the Green Zone).

I'm not sure which column in particular Mirengoff and Hume were referring to, but I thought it strange--maybe not so strange in the larger scheme of things--that first Mirengoff and then Hume would use the Ignatius article as a talking point.

Maybe Hume was watching Mirengoff on Washington Journal and simply parroted Mirengoff's line. Maybe they each came up with it independently after faithfully reading the liberal Wash Post and Bush-hating Ignatius in particular. Or maybe both received the Ignatius reference from GOP spin headquarters some time earlier and coordinated their lines from it. Or maybe people like Mirengoff and Hume are responsible for setting the GOP talking points themselves. Either way, Ignatius seems to me too irrelevant a figure for both Hume and Mirengoff to find him and his column signficant enough to mention during their respective programs.

Given the sliding public perception of the war in Iraq, this particular administration defense seemed rather lame. So lame in fact I doubt its occurence can be coincidental. As such I think it's a good illustration of how the administration and its apologists are trying to coordinate a plan of attack.

Liberals should take note.