Best of the Web Today – November 28, 2007
By JAMES TARATNTO
Child Sacrifice in Our Time
Fox News reports on author Stephen King’s latest horror fantasy:
King has a solution for how to prove once and for all whether waterboarding is torture: Have Jenna Bush try it.
The bestselling author offered his unorthodox investigative method in a Time magazine interview during a discussion about the media’s coverage of celebrity news.
“I said something to the ‘Nightline’ guy about waterboarding, and if the Bush administration didn’t think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation,” King recounted to Time. “Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George.”
“I said, I didn’t think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture,” King continued.
This reminded us of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” in which distended documentarian Michael Moore approached various supporters of Iraq’s liberation and demanded that they “send” their own sons to serve in the military there–notwithstanding that in America only adults can join the military, and neither their parents nor anyone else can compel them to do so. In a 2005 Slate article, Christopher Hitchens underscored the creepiness of this rhetorical device (grit your teeth for the obligatory anti-Christian snark):
Oh, Jesus, another barrage of emotional tripe about sons. From every quarter, one hears that the willingness to donate a male child is the only test of integrity. It’s as if some primitive Spartan or Roman ritual had been reconstituted, though this time without the patriotism or the physical bravery. Worse, it has a gruesome echo of the human sacrifice that underpins Christian fundamentalism.
It reminded us, as well, of a story that the New York Times reports on today:
Megan Meier died believing that somewhere in this world lived a boy named Josh Evans who hated her. He was 16, owned a pet snake, and she thought he was the cutest boyfriend she ever had.
Josh contacted Megan through her page on MySpace.com, the social networking Web site, said Megan’s mother, Tina Meier. They flirted for weeks, but only online–Josh said his family had no phone. On Oct. 15, 2006, Josh suddenly turned mean. He called Megan names, and later they traded insults for an hour.
The next day, in his final message, said Megan’s father, Ron Meier, Josh wrote, “The world would be a better place without you.”
Sobbing, Megan ran into her bedroom closet. Her mother found her there, hanging from a belt. She was 13.
“Josh Evans” turned out to be a fake. Megan was the victim of a cruel hoax, carried out in retaliation for her having dumped a neighbor girl with whom she had been friends.
What makes this story not just tragic but shocking is that the perpetrator of the hoax, Lori Drew, is the mother of Megan’s erstwhile pal. At the time she created “Josh,” Mrs. Drew was 47.
We do not pretend to understand what motivates a grown woman to behave so viciously toward a girl barely a third her age. But perhaps it is not insignificant that Lori Drew lives in a society in which famous entertainers feel free to trumpet their fantasies of aggression against other people’s children.
He’s Always Been Consistent, Starting Today
Bill Clinton was in Iowa yesterday campaigning to become first lady, and he seems to have acknowledged–better sit down before finishing this sentence–that he has been less than candid about certain matters in the past. The Associated Press reports:
Showing inconsistency on an issue that has dogged his wife, the former president also told Iowa Democrats that he “opposed (war in) Iraq from the beginning.” . . .
He has not clearly opposed the war from the start. Like his wife, the former president has been critical of the Iraq war in recent months, but at one time he gave President Bush the benefit of the doubt. “I supported the president when he asked for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” he said in May 2003, the same year he was quoted praising Bush’s handling of the war.
The New York Times, in a lovely bit of euphemizing, describes Mr. Clinton’s newly revealed opposition to the war as “a statement that is more absolute than his comments before the invasion in March 2003.”
A less charitable way of putting it would be that Mr. Clinton either lied about his views in 2003 or is lying now about his views then. The lie would be easier to defend in the former case: If Mr. Clinton kept his doubts to himself in 2003, one could argue that he did so for the sake of national unity–that is, that he was playing the role of statesman. Now, on the other hand, he is acting like a politician, and that is true whether or not his statement yesterday was truthful.
It’s another reason to lament the current tendency toward political dynasty in America. We have plenty of politicians but could use more statesmen.
Dogs Still Bite Men
A new poll shows a dramatic shift of opinion about the Iraq war, the Associated Press reports:
People are evenly split over how well the military effort in Iraq is going, with 48 percent saying it is going well and the same number saying it isn’t, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. In February, shortly after [President] Bush announced he would send additional troops to the country, only 30 percent said things were going well. . . .
While 16 percent of Democrats said in February that things were going well, that figure has grown to 33 percent. . . .
Overall, 43 percent said the U.S. is making gains against the insurgents, up 13 percentage points from February. The percentage of people seeing progress reducing civilian casualties has more than doubled to 43 percent, while the number seeing results in preventing civil war is 32 percent, almost double the February level.
But the headline reads “Poll: Public Still Favors Iraq Pullout,” and the AP leads with this non-news:
The public increasingly believes the U.S. is making military progress in Iraq but still wants President Bush to remove American troops from the country as quickly as possible, a poll showed Tuesday.
The “narrative” is everything, isn’t it?
Some Guys Just Can’t Win
Critics sometimes accuse the Bush administration of “moving the goal posts” on Iraq–that is, of changing the definition of victory so as to justify America’s continued presence there. But on “Hardball” yesterday, host Chris Matthews redefined “defeat” in such a way as to make victory impossible:
Lots of publicity lately, and maybe it’s fair, maybe it’s not, that things may have calmed down over there, less Americans killed in action in the last several of months but before. But my definition of a defeat is you can’t leave. If we can’t leave that country in the foreseeable future, we are losing. The purpose of the American Army is to get home and be ready to defend this country against possible threats to this country.
As long as we’re stuck over there, it seems we’re losing.
Of course, the U.S. still has troops in Germany and Japan. By Matthew’s definition, we’re still losing World War II.
Tokenism Against Terror?
Mansoor Ijaz, an investment manager who is Muslim, American and of Pakistani extraction, set off a bit of a kerfuffle with an op-ed piece in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor in which he described a conversation with Mitt Romney:
He demonstrated an aggravating hypocrisy in his reply to my query on one of his key foreign policy positions. It’s a stance that should give pause to all Americans who are considering voting for him.
I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that “jihadism” is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, “. . . based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”
Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead. Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they’re too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America’s Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats.
CBS News reports that Romney disputes Ijaz’s account:
“His question was, ‘did I need to have a Muslim in my cabinet to be able to confront radical jihad and would it be important to have a Muslim in my cabinet,’ ” said Romney. “And I said, ‘No I don’t think that you have to have a Muslim in the cabinet to be able to, to take on radical jihad any more than during the Second World War we needed to have a Japanese-American to help us understand the threat that was coming from Japan,’ or something of that nature.”
Romney said that instead of filling his cabinet posts with ethnicity in mind, he would choose his cabinet members based on merit.
National Review Online in turn reports that Ijaz stands behind his version. If it is accurate, we don’t care for either the answer or the question. Romney’s putative assumption that “a cabinet position would be justified” by sufficient “numbers . . . in our population” seems to reflect a diversity consultant’s paint-by-numbers approach.
As for Ijaz’s question, it is based on two premises, one true and one naive. True, there are cases in which Muslims would bring cultural knowledge that would be useful in solving problems related to terrorism. (Ijaz says he himself has been involved in various diplomatic initiatives involving Pakistan and Sudan.) But it is difficult to keep a straight face when considering the notion that the symbolic action of nominating a Muslim to a cabinet position would make much difference.
Ijaz isn’t the only one to place faith in such symbolism. Earlier this month Jon Wiener of The Nation reported on an even more far-fetched claim by an elderly left-wing journalist:
Barack Obama represents “the only hope for the US in the Muslim world,” according to Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Because Obama’s father was a Muslim, he “could lead a reconciliation between the Muslim countries and the US.” With any of the other candidates as president, Hersh said, “we’re facing two or three decades of problems in the Mideast, with 1.2 billion Muslims.”
Hersh seems to imagine that the “Muslim world” is some sort of centrally controlled entity, and that we can tame it if we just show a little understanding. Perhaps he can explain why there is so much Islamist terrorism against Muslims in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia even though virtually all government officials in those places are not only sons of Muslims but Muslims themselves.
Hersh seems to have an almost childlike faith in the reigning ideology of the American left, what is known as “multiculturalism” or “diversity.”We are of the view that this ideology has done more harm than good to domestic race relations, but one can make a case on either side of that argument. The notion that it is an effective strategy against a vicious and fanatical enemy, however, is simply laughable.
Is it a crime to say the phrase “brown people”? We don’t think so, but some school officials in Arizona seem to. The Arizona Republic reports:
A 9-year-old boy from a Phoenix elementary school has been suspended after the school determined he engaged in racial harassment by using the term “brown people.”
The boy, whom The Arizona Republic is not naming because of his age, was suspended for three days from Abraham Lincoln Traditional School after officials determined that his language constituted racial harassment, part of its hate-crime code.
In a parent-teacher conference in early November, Abraham Lincoln Principal Virginia Voinovich said she also told the boy that it is OK to have racist feelings as long as you keep them to yourself.
“As we said to (the boy) when he was in here, in your heart you may have that feeling, and that is OK if that is your personal belief,” Voinovich said in the conference, which was tape-recorded by the boy’s mother.
The child’s mother, Sherry Neve, “insists that her son is not a racist and that he never differentiated a person’s color until the school made it an issue. But even if he did make the statement, she questions why a principal would tell a 9-year-old it is OK to have those feelings.” Neve adds: “We were raised to be color blind. My children were raised the same way.”
What Did We Ever Do to Him?
“Edwards Supports Striking Writers”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 27
No, but Global Warming Can!
“Can Iran and Hamas Sink Annapolis?”–headline, Time.com, Nov. 28
Life Imitates the Onion
- “World’s Top Scientists Ponder: What if the Whole Universe Is, Like, One Huge Atom?”–headline, Onion, July 22, 1999
- “Surfer Dude Stuns Physicists With Theory of Everything”–headline, Daily Telegraph (London), Nov. 14, 2007
Medicare Is Not So Generous
“Prescription for a Smile”–headline, Paris (Texas) News, Nov. 27
C’mon, Guys, This Isn’t Rocket Science
“Hospital Makes 3rd Brain Surgery Mistake”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 27
‘Hey, Save Some for the Fish!’
“Water District Calls on Manatee to Share”–headline, Bradenton (Fla.) Herald, Nov. 28
It Gave Them Zits
” ‘Teenage’ Galaxies Give Hints of Early Milky Way”–headline, Reuters, Nov. 28
News You Can Use
- “Discipline Helps Make the Point”–headline, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Nov. 28
- “Get Help Finding a Place to Live”–headline, Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, Nov. 28
- “That Smell’s Not Gas, It’s Oderant”–headline, Des Moines Register, Nov. 27
Bottom Stories of the Day
- “Democrat Mike McWherter Will Not Run for U.S. Senate in Tennessee”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 27
- “No One Hurt in Drive-By Pellet-Gun Shooting”–headline, Seattle Times, Nov. 27
- “NJDC Cricitizes Kucinich for Saying He’d Consider Ron Paul as VP”–headline, National Jewish Democratic Council press release, Nov. 27
The Meteorologists Who Cried Wolf
“Despite alarming predictions, the U.S. came through a second straight hurricane season virtually unscathed,” the Associated Press reports. That is bad news, as it is “raising fears among emergency planners that they will be fighting public apathy and overconfidence when they warn people to prepare for next year.”
We blame global warmists, who seized on Hurricane Katrina and others to whip up public fear two years ago. Someone ought read Al Gore the story of the boy who cried wolf. And it probably shouldn’t be Naomi Wolf.
(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Michael Yore, Anthony Brunsvold, John Nernoff, Dave Forsythe, Chris Scibelli, Bruce Goldman, Ed Lasky, Brendan Schulman, Greg Martine, Remmie Arnold, Rosanne Klass, Tom Elia, Greg Askins, Teddy Enyon, Brian Henry, Steve Karass, Bryan Fischer, John Willard, George Sturve, John Williamson, Ed Jordan, Doug Wagner, David Weiss and Joe York. If you have a tip, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include the URL.)
URL for this article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110010919
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