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My new Tech Central Station column is up: Bomb My House…Please. It’s about Fallujah.

Holland Snaps

It keeps getting uglier in the Netherlands since the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

Volkskrant reports (see Slate for details in English) that 5 Christian sites and 10 Muslim sites have been attacked in the past week.

More worryingly, the Turkish Press notes:

a recent poll showed that a staggering 40 percent of Dutch people “hope” that the 900,000 Dutch Muslims in a total population of 16 million “no longer feel at home here” after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected Islamic radical.

40 percent of Dutch people have it exactly backwards. I understand their frustration. But they should hope Muslims learn to feel more at home in the Netherlands, not less. Dutch society is perhaps the most liberal on Earth. It’s not surprising that immigrants from a vastly more conservative culture feel alienated there. If Dutch Muslims ever become as liberal as Dutch Christians the country will not be at war with itself. If Dutch Muslims continue to be shunted off to the side they will continue constructing an anti-Dutch (and hence anti-liberal) counterculture.

So here’s some free advice: Isolate, imprison, deport, or kill (if it comes to that) the extremists. Liberalize those who remain. Otherwise, brace for hell.

The GOP Purge

Hugh Hewitt is still defending dissident Republican Senator Arlen Specter, this time in The Weekly Standard. And he thinks Zell Miller’s tirade against the Democratic Party, A National Party No More, should be required reading for Republicans drunk on power. What will happen if the GOP burns its heretics? The same thing that happened to the Democrats.

Fast forward four years. The Democrats have convened in late summer in Cleveland to nominate former Virginia governor Mark Warner and Senator Barack Obama. It is the third night of the convention, and the Democrats have chosen as their keynote speaker . . . Arlen Specter. Or Olympia Snowe. Or Chuck Hagel. Or some other GOP big who has grown disgusted with his or her inability to have any influence on Republican deliberations. So they have bolted, bringing a message that their party breached its pledge to govern with the interests of the entire country in mind.

This may be a nightmare scenario for most people who read The Weekly Standard. But if liberal-moderate Republicans bolt the GOP for the Democrats, hey, that’s fine with me. It will make the Democrats both larger and saner. Everyone wins…except the Republicans. It’s up to them. Do I think they’ll do the right thing? Naah. Jane’s Law is still on the books.

Heh

Daily Kos has arrived. He made The Onion.

It Was the Moderates, Stupid

I hope this is the last time I need to post about this. But as obvious as it should be, it hasn’t sunken in yet.

E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post:

About 38 percent of those who thought abortion should be legal in most cases went to Bush. Bush got 22 percent from voters who favored gay marriage and 52 percent among those who favor civil unions. Bush even managed 16 percent among voters who thought the president paid more attention to the interests of large corporations than to those of “ordinary Americans.” A third of the voters who favored a government more active in solving problems went to Bush

[...]

These numbers do not lend themselves to a facile ideological analysis of what happened. The populist left can fairly ask why so many pro-government, anti-corporate voters backed Bush. The social liberals can ask why so many socially moderate and progressive voters stuck with the president. The centrist crowd can muse over the power of the terrorism issue. The exit polls found that perhaps 10 percent of Al Gore’s 2000 voters switched to Bush. Of these, more than eight in 10 thought the war in Iraq was part of the war on terrorism.

Also, if you are a Democrat, please read Marc Cooper.

UPDATE: Bush did better in 2004 than he did in 2000 in all states except Maine, Vermont, and South Dakota. That’s because the Democratic Party is less appealing now than it was. Deal with it. Then fix it.

Arafat Officially Dead

It looks like Yasser Arafat is finally – officially – dead.

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Yasser Arafat, who triumphantly forced his people’s plight into the world spotlight but failed to achieve his lifelong quest for Palestinian statehood, died Thursday at age 75. He was to the end a man of many mysteries and paradoxes — terrorist, statesman, autocrat and peacemaker.

Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat confirmed to The Associated Press that Arafat had died. The Palestinian leader spent his final days in a coma at a French military hospital outside Paris.

May the Palestinians find a leader who loves his people more than he hates his enemies.

UPDATE: Jacques Chirac is sad.

Submission, by Theo Van Gogh

Theo Van Gogh (who was related to the artist of the same name) was brutally murdered on the streets of Amsterdam by an Islamic fascist for daring to make an eleven-minute film about the oppression of women in Muslim society.

Click here to see that film. It is called Submission.

It begins in Arabic, but most of it is in English. It is eleven minutes long.

(Hat tip: Harry’s Place.)

The Triumph of Secularism

I wasn’t going to link this article by Christopher Hitchens, as much as I love the man, because I think he paints with (a bit) too wide a brush this time around. But since some people in my comments section insist on lumping me in personally with Christian fundamentalists, despite the fact that I’m a socially liberal atheist, here goes.

So here is what I want to say on the absolutely crucial matter of secularism. Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left. From the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda? Suicide murderers in Palestine—disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO—described as the victims of “despair.” The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as “insurgents” or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I’ll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time, as long as he didn’t want to impose his principles on me (which our Constitution forbids him to do).

[...]

George Bush may subjectively be a Christian, but he—and the U.S. armed forces—have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled. The demolition of the Taliban, the huge damage inflicted on the al-Qaida network, and the confrontation with theocratic saboteurs in Iraq represent huge advances for the non-fundamentalist forces in many countries. The “antiwar” faction even recognizes this achievement, if only indirectly, by complaining about the way in which it has infuriated the Islamic religious extremists around the world. But does it accept the apparent corollary—that we should have been pursuing a policy to which the fanatics had no objection?

Hitchens seems to forget about the far-more reasonable secular liberals at his own Slate magazine (Jane Smiley’s awful guest column excepted). But his basic point stands. The American right is a better champion for secularism where it is most urgently needed. And for that they have my (partial) support.

The Liberal Case for Bush, Yet Again

Norman Geras has a question for his friends on the left.

The victims of a terrible, murderous oppression in the Kurdish area of Iraq, and those now yearning for a democratic breakthrough against theocratic tyranny in Iran, do not look for solidarity and support to the massed ranks of the marching left, the ‘peace’ movement, as it flatters itself to be; no, they look to a right-wing Republican president.

By your own lights, friends and comrades, is that not a truly extraordinary state of affairs? If it doesn’t cause you some troubling doubts, will anything ever?

I’m being a bit flip when I write these titles. My real intention here isn’t to get American liberals into the Republican tent. That is completely beside the point. What I’d like to see is a little international solidarity between the American left and the oppressed in the Middle East. When Middle Eastern liberals cheerlead Republicans instead of Democrats they know exactly what they are doing and why. The lefties in Paris don’t need your help, folks. Those in Iran and Iraq really do.

Some Advice

Virginia Postrel has some advice for political parties that lose elections.

I told you so. The party that hates America will lose. The party that imagines no positive future, offers no “vision thing,” will lose. The party that thinks it is better than the American people, that makes large segments of the voting public believe they are its enemy, that convinces people it wants the government to boss them around and destroy the things they love, will lose.

Guess when she wrote that? Yep. That’s right. She wrote it in 1998. When else (ahem) could such a paragraph have been written? She continues:

On November 3, that party was Republican. The GOP went down to humiliating defeat, losing close race after close race, plus many that weren’t supposed to be close. The party lost its solid grip on the South and collapsed in California. It managed to lose seats in the House, an extraordinary result that even Democratic pundits failed to predict.

And it deserved to lose.

No kidding. I might have voted for Republican candidates in an alternate universe, but I didn’t in this one. It may have been slightly unfair to think of Ken Starr as their guy the ballot, but only slightly. They ran against someone not on the ballot themselves.

Republicans sold out their economic base, invested all their hopes in scandals involving a president not on the ballot, and ran as the party of scolds, pork, and gloom. No wonder their voters stayed home.

This election was a test of the notion that Republicans can scorn anyone who talks about freedom, treat issues as matters of bribery rather than principle or vision, alternate between patronizing and ostracizing immigrants and women, regularly denounce American culture, and generally act obnoxiously toward the country they supposedly represent–and still win, because the Democrats are worse and Clinton is a sleaze.

Eighth Grade Caricatures

Because I’m a purple state kind of guy, I’m rankled by all the hectoring and sneering at the “Jesusland” red states. I feel like one half of my social circle is finishing up a week-long bitch-fest about the other half. Yeah, we just had an election and the losers are entitled to carp about it. Fine. That’s normal and perfectly understandable. But if you’re going to decry bigotry on the right, see if you can not act like a bigoted jerk yourself.

That goes for you, too, righties. Want to broaden the base of your party? Pay close attention to Matt Welch. He’ll tell you exactly how not to go about it.

Don’t Get Cocky

Immoderate Republicans are having fits about Arlen Specter, a liberal Republican from Pennsylvania, who is slated to head the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary. Specter, you see, isn’t too jazzed about packing the Supreme Court with righties.

Hugh Hewitt issues a wise warning.

The opposition to Specter seems headquartered at The Corner. Many friends post at The Corner, so I paused, considered their arguments, and thought it through. On reflection, it seems to me a very bad idea to try and topple Senator Specter from what in the ordinary course of events would be his Chairmanship. I hope my colleagues on the center-right that embrace pro-life politics will reconsider.

I understand that Senator Specter voted against Robert Bork, and that Senator Specter is not a friend of the pro-life movement. But genuine progress in the fight to return American public opinion to an affirmation of life before birth cannot be made through strong-armed tactics and almost certainly will not be lasting if it is accomplished through a putsch.

Unlike Hugh and most of the folks at The Corner, I am not “pro-life.” Sorry. I’d like to be, just as I’d like to be anti-war. But I’m not. So, of course I’m biased in Arlen Specter’s favor. I’m counting on the likes of him to put the brakes on the Republican Party and get them to govern from the center. I may have voted for Bush this year, but sure as the stars come out at night I don’t support any right-wing social agenda. There’s no way my split-ticket vote can be construed as lending support to a mandate for either side. That’s the whole point of voting split-ticket. It is only half-hearted partial support. It is explicitly anti-mandate.

The swing-voting center put the Republican Party in power this year. 2006 isn’t very far away. The right had better look out. For we who giveth can also taketh away.

UPDATE: See also Andrew Sullivan.

Here’s a fascinating piece of data. The percentage of people who said in 2004 that their vote was determined by the issue of “moral values” was 22 percent. In 1992, if you add the issues of abortion and family values together, that percentage was 27 percent. In 1996, it was 49 percent. In 2000, it was 49 percent. So the domestic moral focus halved in 2004. Obviously, the war took precedence, especially if you combine the categories of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism more generally. Again: the Republicans should be wary of over-playing their hand. If they believe the entire country is the religious right, the backlash could begin very soon.

Yeah. Like, real soon. Watch it. Last week’s election wasn’t the last one.

Purple America

This is what America looks like.

Purple-USA.jpg

(Hat tip: Karrie Higgins via email.)

The Liberal Case for Bush, Again

This time in Iran.

Millions of Iranians expressed their satisfaction on the outcome of the US Presidential elections and George W. Bush’s victory by calling and congratulating each other. Many were seen walking in the streets and shaking each others hands or showing a discret V sign.

Many are speaking about the promises made by Mr. Bush to back the Iranian Nation in its quest for freedom and democracy.

As Iranians and especially the younger generations have become happy , those affiliated to the Islamic regime are seen deeply worried about their future.

(Hat tip: Roger L. Simon.)

Zombie Hordes of Theo-cons

Andrew Coyne utterly demolishes the silly idea that Bush won his re-election campaign by unleashing an army of fundamentalist Christians across the red heartland. I mean, he really blows that theory to pieces. Read it.

Then he asks:

When a candidate draws increased numbers of votes from groups not traditionally identified with his party, we usually call that “broadening the base.” So why the fascination with zombie hordes of theo-cons?

That’s real easy. It’s emotionally satisfying. The crazies are taking over is a lot easier to swallow than we fucked up and lost.

The Republican Party has a nut-job wing. Pat Robertson is real. James Dobson is real. Michael Savage is real. These guys have fans, and they voted. There’s no denying it. But there’s also no denying that if John Kerry faced Pat Robertson in an election the Republican Party would have to dig itself out of a smouldering crater.

45 percent of the people who voted for Bush are self-described liberals or moderates. (Earth to Democrats: That’s why he beat you.) Only 55 percent of the people who voted for Bush are conservatives. (See Andrew’s piece for the details.) And, as most of us know, there are many different kinds of conservatives. There are neocons and paleocons, Wall Street conservatives and religious conservatives. Not to mention plain old run-of-the-mill conservatives. It’s a fractious group of people who have little in common but, oddly enough, happen to wear the same useless label.

Zeroing in on only one of those factions and blowing it all out proportion will get the Democrats nowhere. It makes as much sense as Ann Coulter accusing every leftie in the land of being pro-terrorist. It’s not only dumb but exceptionally counterproductive.

If Kerry won the election I wouldn’t say it was because of Michael Moore and his stupid-ass movie. If it went that way it would have done so despite him.

(Hat tip: “American in Europe” in the comments.)

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