A Response to Edward Luttwack's "President Apostate?"

My diary refers to the article on the NY Times entitled, “President Apostate?” by Edward Luttwack.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/12/opinion/12luttwak.html

 I am no Muslim scholar, but I was appalled to read this article on the NY Times website.  So, I shall respond with some criticism.

Basically, the whole premise of this guy's argument is that Muslims will hate Obama just as much as they hate George Bush and the main reason, or actually only reason he gives, is that Obama converted to Christianity. So, my response to this guy is, project your fear-mongering elsewhere. Such a pessimistic view does no good, in my opinion. It's possible the author's ideas are not well-defined and that could be why I disagree so deeply with his opinion, but my impression is that he is over-generalizing Islam. His fundamental rational is that Islam is intolerant and so he mistakingly applies a conception of radical Muslims to all Muslims. I don't buy it. Obama will have transformative power in the world more than Hillary or any other potential President. It's not zero-sum, there will be roadblocks to improving US relations, especially with ANY group that is radically different in its society's conventions, so focusing solely on radical Islam and passing radical Islam's practices onto all of Islam is misleading and makes his argument weak.

On the author's use of words, I'm not sure that Muslims view it as a crime to convert to Christianity, but rather that it is not possible for a true Muslim to convert to Christianity because that would be going backward. Jesus is only a prophet to Muslims and Muhammad is the true messenger of God (Muhammad came after Jesus and produced the Qur'an after speaking with God, whereas Jesus was just an important prophet – not THE messenger of God). Muslims don't believe in the resurrection, but only that Jesus was a very good and important prophet – his importance is superseded by Mohammad.

The author also says that converting to Christianity is worse than murder, but fails to mention it is not necessarily deserving of the same punishment as murder. Converting away from Islam is worse than murder because it's abandoning the religion, not that you've committed a social crime (or a crime against humanity). Only radical Muslims think that abandoning Islam deserves the same or worse punishment as murder.

The author goes on to say the conventional anti-Islamic lines that persist in today's society. There's some serious bias here in this author (e.g., see Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington) and it's clear that this person approximates all Muslims as radicals that are out to get America (e.g., see Fox News O'Reilly Factor or people like Tom Tancredo). Then the author goes on to imply that Muslim clerics will tacitly consent assassination attempts if President Obama were to visit their countries. Give me a break. There always has to be an enemy, but it's downright fallacious, if not entirely misleading, to imply the entire Muslim world being the enemy of Barack Obama, or that Obama doesn't have transformative power for US relations with the Muslim world because the Muslim world is intolerant. And, if the author actually doesn't think this, then he forgot to be clear, because it seems to me he deciphers the difference between radicals and moderates.

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"Dream Ticket is Impossible" - Pelosi

Her comment on an Obama/Clinton ticket is at the end of the video.  It is quite telling to hear the Speaker say such a ticket is not just unlikely, but impossible.  This confirms my belief that Hillary's talk about a dream ticket is nonsense and she is just saying it to relax excited Obama supporters and to sway fence voters that a vote for her is a vote for both.


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Krugman Coming to Terms?

The way I see it, Krugman has begun to come to terms with Obama. He actually put thought into this article. It's not a reactionary tirade, which I would suggest characterized the last 4 months of his columns against Barack Obama. It is rather an honest assessment of the two candidates and the the state of American politics in our country. I disagree with a few of the things he says, such as his criticism (which, is toned down now) of Obama's healthcare policy proposal, but in the end he does a good job of revealing opposing viewpoints and coming to a conclusion on what the rise of Obama and the fall of the Clintons might do to the Democratic Party.

However, I would like to further elaborate on his points and take the analysis a little further. I don't think the recriminations within the party will be as severe once Hillary drops out of the race, so unless she wins I don't see the Party falling apart (unless Obama loses the general). I don't see Obama losing in the general election unless some huge blind-siding issue from a change of domestic and international circumstances surfaces that favors the Republicans. An Obama nomination and a general election loss is basically no different than a Hillary nomination and loss, except that we know the Party will be divided the day after Hillary's nomination, rather than the day after the election. So, I guess Krugman's argument that the party will be torn apart if the “magic” doesn't work in the general election is correct, but he fails to compare this to a Hillary nomination and loss, which would likely tear the party apart at the nomination. This would be before the Party even had a chance to win the election.

Krugman fails to acknowledge what happens in a Hillary nomination and loss. Perhaps it is not necessary to think about that anymore now that Obama looks to secure the nomination Tuesday. But, tomorrow has not come yet. So, Krugman should have further analyzed both sides of the issue rather than just focusing on what an Obama nomination and loss looks like. If he takes the analysis further and looks at what a Hillary nomination and loss would mean, the picture is probably bleaker.

I will give Krugman credit for coming around on Obama. While I was singing the praises of Brooks' columns on Obama and offering criticism of Krugman, many, especially at Bleeding Heartland, said that Krugman would come around and that Brooks would turn his shoulder the other way once the nomination was secured. I think we are seeing the beginning of Krugman's turnaround. We will see what Brooks does.

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Let's all find the cynic in ourself

(CROSS-POSTED AT http://politicaltea.com) 

 so we don't have to believe in anything except the fallibility of our government. That's what I propose. Forget judgment, forget experience, forget ideology. Let's just be perfect. Yeah, universal healthcare; let's force everyone to buy government healthcare because the government is so efficient at what it does we also want it running our healthcare system. Who do you want up late at night on the big bad red phone making last minute deals preventing our country from getting nuked? The person who voted for us to go to war or the person who spoke out against us going to war? What's more virtuous, following the pack or speaking out against the pack? Blah, blah…I buy this, I don't buy that; our country needs this – no, it doesn't need that! I want my investments to be free of tax, no you must be taxed 30% and possibly more on everything you invest. Let's spread out all our wealth, give it away, take from the rich, give to the poor, yeah, it will all turn out much better in the end. Let's have a revolution? Replace one crooked man with another. What's the difference? You keep criticizing what is good for the country, you keep on perpetuating the cynicism and the politics of old. The more you follow Clinton and reject the Obama movement the more you reject the wave of the future; the more you condemn the Democratic Party. Oh, but what good is a candidate if not a candidate that bleeds universal healthcare, no matter the quality of such universal healthcare – we must have universal healthcare!!! Oh yes, all must pay for healthcare even if they can't afford it, so they can be afforded the opportunity to be assessed with the best technology science has to offer. If we don't do that, they might die sooner than otherwise. If they die sooner because we didn't have universal healthcare, we'll feel it's our fault – we could have done more. Yet, we all die in the end. So, what is more, what is too little, and what is too much? You ask so much, but you also ask the impossible. This is the blindness of bitter partisan political heads. They only know what they think is right, but see nothing beyond their own two feet. It's not let's do the best we can with the cards we're dealt, let's do the best we can by stealing the cards from our partners. Oh well, such is life.

Obama is riding his anti-Iraq War speech to victory and opponents are bitterly lementing over his using of it in such a way. It's sad. Yes, it really is. A man spoke out on an issue, a woman voted on an issue; blame one, blame the other; neither is right, neither is wrong; we're all just right or wrong depending on what it means either way to the reader. She had “evidence”, he had “judgment”. Yada yada.

Your criticism makes a mockery of the system. Whether you think that is good or bad is up to you. Oh, “it's the media's fault Obama is not being critiqued well enough” and well, Clinton is being critiqued too well. Wait, but wait, why would Clinton be criticized so heavily? Let's think. She is a former first lady, her husband is well-hated by nearly half of the country and the Clintons never were friendly with the media. The media has gone along with the change mantra that Obama represents, and whether or not that is purely progressive (as your savior, Krugman, would have us believe is the purpose of all human existence) doesn't matter; and, this angers you because you actually think Hillary or Edwards COULD make a difference, when in fact they would have so little unifying capability that they would put the system into disuse and degeneration. Honestly, another Clinton in the White House? in place of a populist Obama? What kind of horrendous damage would that have on the Democratic Party if she wins? The Party would ultimately fail in the general election.

The whole point of a democratic system is that change happens. That is why Obama is doing so well. People recognize something new is needed. Even if Obama is not perfect, which everyone knows he is not, he is someone new that can bring new light and a new face to issues that face our country's government. If we keep electing or putting the same names on the ballots, what's the point? Let's just develop an aristocracy or monarchy. That would be much easier and straightforward. Wouldn't it be joyful? Hopefully it would be your progressive aristocrats that do well. But, then again, democracy is only good when it's your people in charge, so changing the system doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. It might not even make a difference.

Bleh. I don't know how you can write about the same thing over and over. Everyone needs universal healthcare, but no one on these blogs offers any clue how to get there. They expect saviors to arrive out of the political abyss and they shine their illuminating blogolight on them and hope the world becomes the progressive world they hope it will become. I'm tired of it. You all say the same thing, ” I dedicate my life to this cause (in the majestic words of the John Edwards we all glorify), POVERTY MUST END!” But, we have no clue how, or if it is even realistic. How can we end poverty? Come on. Give me a real answer, not just that we have to elect John Edwards, the good miller's son. I want to hear some answers. And, even then supposing you think there is success in ending poverty at some point, how do you propose getting everyone out of poverty? Just going to put them all in the middle class?

Let's just do the best we can and not let our country decay from lack of turnover and freshness. You put Clinton back in office and you ruin our country. That's as simple as it gets.

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