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Political Cartoons

The Week, the Moore family's favorite mag, had a nice summary a few weeks back of the views of Hitchens, Sullivan, Parker, etc. on the Danish cartoon controversy. You can read the full summary here. Here are a few quotes that got my attention:

When Christians eat hamburgers, Hindus do not threaten to kill them. When nonbelievers tell jokes about Jesus and Moses playing golf, Catholics and Jews do not burn down buildings. But if anyone "offends" Islam, said Christopher Hitchens in, they risk a death sentence. Obviously, we should avoid offending people's religions arbitrarily, said Andrew Sullivan in Time. "But the Danish cartoons were not arbitrarily offensive. They were designed specifically to reveal Islamic intolerance" and they have now done so, in abundance." What the rioters are saying is that it's not enough that they follow the dictates of their faith; the rest of the world must do so, too, on pain of death. That's why this incident, absurd as it is, constitutes a true clash of civilizations, said Kathleen Parker in the Orlando Sentinel. "Until Muslim peoples get the idea that free expression means freedom to offend as well as to be offended, we have a problem." This is a war of ideas, and it promises to be a long one.

You can see the cartoons for yourself various places on the interweb, including Michelle Malkins site.


Left Behind

There was an interesting editorial by Dan Shea in the NY Times titled "Left Behind," describing how we're failing to support our troops' families when a soldier dies in combat. You can pay the NY Times to see the full article, but here is the summary from The Week, the Moore family's favorite mag:

My brother was killed by a rocket attack in Fallujah on Sept. 14, 2004, said Dan Shea in The New York Times. Kevin "knew the risks" when he enlisted in 1989. He also assumed that if he sacrificed his life for his country, the government would take care of his wife, Amy, and two children. "Sadly, that's not the case." War widows are covered by two federal programs - a Pentagon survivors plan, which pays 40 percent of a soldier's monthly salary, and a Veterans Affairs program that provides $1,033 a month, plus a modest amount for every dependent. That may sound generous enough, but there's a catch - what insiders call a "widowâ's tax." Under the current law, the payment from the Pentagon is reduced "dollar for dollar" by the VA payment. After that adjustment, Amy, who put her own career on hold to accommodate Kevin's military career, gets all of $1,817 a month - less than $24,000 a year to raise a family whose father gave his life for his country. Kevin held the rank of lieutenant colonel; the wife of a low-ranking soldier gets even less money. In a nation where every politician claims to "support our troops," this is a disgrace. "if President Bush really wants to honor the men and women fighting this war - and dying Like my brother - then he should call on Congress to eliminate the widow's tax. It's the least he can do."


Evangelical Climate Initiative

From an AP article by Rachel Zoll "Disagreements over global warming hinder evangelical movement to confront climate change" in The Detroit News:

A top environmental advocate called it "a historic tipping point" when the Rev. Rick Warren and other prominent evangelicals joined a new drive to get their community to fight global warming. But activists banking on a quick shift in President Bush's environmental policies will be disappointed -- support from just any evangelical figure won't do. The movement is a diverse one, and some its most politically influential leaders still question the science behind climate change. Analysts agree that the new push, called the Evangelical Climate Initiative, is at least a noteworthy development. Years of activism culminated in the release Wednesday of the statement, "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action," which was signed by many leading conservative Christians including Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," the president of evangelical Wheaton College, the national commander for The Salvation Army and heads of seminaries and megachurches nationwide. Several prominent black and Hispanic pastors were among the signers. The statement frames environmental protection as a Christian imperative, fulfilling a biblical command to care for God's creation. It urges federal lawmakers to approve mandatory cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, but to do so in a way that doesn't hurt businesses. Among the funders of the initiative, which includes TV and print ads, is the Pew Charitable Charitable Trusts. However, Christian leaders with close ties to the Bush administration have expressed skepticism about the initiative through their own group, called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. They said in a statement that "the science is not settled on global warming," and argued that most U.S. evangelicals do not back the call for regulating greenhouse emissions. Among the religious leaders who support the Stewardship Alliance are James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries and the Rev. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant group.

On the Net:

Evangelical Climate Initiative

Interfaith Stewardship Alliance

The Art of Counterinsurgency

A rare positive story out of Iraq. From a Washington Post story by Thomas E. Ricks reproduced on

The last time the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment served in Iraq, in 2003-04, its performance was judged mediocre, with a series of abuse cases growing out of its tour of duty in Anbar province. But its second tour in Iraq has been very different, according to specialists in the difficult art of conducting a counterinsurgency campaign -- fighting a guerrilla war but also trying to win over the population and elements of the enemy. Such campaigns are distinct from the kind of war most U.S. commanders have spent decades preparing to fight. In the last nine months, the regiment has focused on breaking the insurgents' hold on Tall Afar, a town of 290,000. Their operations here "will serve as a case study in classic counterinsurgency, the way it is supposed to be done," said Terry Daly, a retired intelligence officer specializing in the subject. U.S. military experts conducting an internal review of the three dozen major U.S. brigades, battalions and similar units operating in Iraq in 2005 privately concluded that of all those units, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment performed the best at counterinsurgency, according to a source familiar with the review's findings. "Every time you treat an Iraqi disrespectfully, you are working for the enemy," McMaster said he told every soldier in his command. He ordered his soldiers to stop using the term hajji as a slang term for all Iraqis, because he saw it as inaccurate and disrespectful. (It actually means someone who has made the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.) One out of every 10 soldiers received a three-week course in conversational Arabic, so that each small unit would have someone capable of basic exchanges with Iraqis. McMaster, who holds a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina and is an expert on the Vietnam War, distributed a lengthy reading list to his officers that included studies of Arab and Iraqi history and most of the classic texts on counterinsurgency. He also quietly relieved one battalion commander who didn't seem to understand that such changes were necessary.

Danish Pastries

danish.jpgIt's just as silly when they do it as it is when we do. From an AP article on Yahoo! News:

Iranians love Danish pastries, but when they look for the flaky dessert at the bakery they now have to ask for "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad." Bakeries across the capital were covering up their ads for Danish pastries Thursday after the confectioners' union ordered the name change in retaliation for caricatures of the Muslim prophet published in a Danish newspaper. "Given the insults by Danish newspapers against the prophet, as of now the name of Danish pastries will give way to 'Rose of Muhammad' pastries," the union said in its order. "This is a punishment for those who started misusing freedom of expression to insult the sanctities of Islam," said Ahmad Mahmoudi, a cake shop owner in northern Tehran.


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