For those of us who have held up the European methods as the pinnacle of correctness and the model of the way we should be doing things, may I present: German welfare reform!
|::::::::||A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing “sexual services” at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.
Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.
The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.
She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her “profile” and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.
Under Germany’s welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.
Yep, that’s right. If you’re a woman who’s unemployed in Germany for longer than a year, you can be given an order to report for… (ahem)… work at your local brothel or lose your unemployment benefits entirely. Now, that’s enlightenment!
And lest anyone think that it’s just alarmist to be saying these things and that it would never actually happen, may I remind them that the unemployment rate in Germany is currently up over 10% and is expected to go as high as 14% with the figures to be released Wednesday. The sheer absurdity of it all is astounding. The real gem in this story was the government’s comment on their attempt to make an exception to the rule for the sex industry:
|::::::::||The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.||::::::::|
OK, now I know it may be a moderately difficult task to come up with the legalese but is there anyone who can’t honestly distinguish between a brothel and the local pub? Sure, there are pubs that also have brothels in them, but there’s a definite difference between the two businesses. Did anyone even try?
Hat tip: Little Green Footballs
More Good News From Iraq from the man who’s kept us highly informed, Arthur Chrenkoff. This one’s a biggee, by the way. And it opens with the good news not even the media could ignore this time:
|::::::::||It happened. And they did it.
In scenes unimaginable only two years ago – and scorned as impossible, undesirable and impractical for months – millions of ordinary Iraqi men and women braved terrorist violence and came out to vote for their future government (for a brief election fact file see here).
As predicted, the turnout was highest in the Shia and Kurdish parts of the country, moderate in mixed areas and lowest in Sunni strongholds, but everywhere it exceeded expectations. The total turnout figures are preliminary at this stage; Farid Ayar, the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission says that around 60%, or 8 million, of those registered to vote did so. Earlier unconfirmed figures put the number even higher, at around 72%. Either figure puts to shame the average election turnout throughout the West where there is no danger that the journey to the polling station could be your last.
Quite so. I’m waiting to see the official tally of the turnout, but Chrenkoff is correct in saying that even if it’s 60%, that matches or exceeds many turnouts in other democratic nations. Including ours. And what about that boycott that was being called for earlier?
|::::::::||Throughout Baghdad, the turnout (reported as high as 95%) disappointed the boycotters: “Asked if reports of better-than-expected turnout in areas where Sunni and Shiite Muslims live together indicated that a Sunni cleric boycott effort had failed, one of the main groups pushing the boycott seemed to soften its stance. ‘The association’s call for a boycott of the election was not a fatwa (religious edict), but only a statement,’ said Association of Muslim Scholars spokesman Omar Ragheb. ‘It was never a question of something religiously prohibited or permitted’.”||::::::::|
Well that’s certainly not how they were talking a month or so ago, but it appears that this political party has picked up on the concept of spin pretty quick.
In any case, there’s lots of other stories collected by Chrenkoff that have been under-reported, so go have a look.
Bloomberg reports that George Soros, the billionaire who put millions into the elections over the past year or so in an explicitly-declared effort to see that George Bush wasn’t re-elected, thinks Kerry was a flawed candidate who, “did not, actually, offer a credible and coherent alternative,” to President Bush. No kidding. Emphasis on the credible part, which is what I have said about Kerry all along. Nearly everything Kerry said during his campaign wasn’t believable, from the continued assertions about his “Christmas in Cambodia” (and that’s what a lie looks like, for the record), through his statements that he’d released all of his military records, to his bold claim on one hand to never seek a permission slip to act in America’s interest yet on the other hand holding off any action that didn’t pass a global test.
Lots of people want to talk about some specific issue or another that put President Bush back into the White House, whether that’s gay marriage or the evangelicals or whatever. The fact is, since no one even knows how every voter voted, the question of why they voted that way will never be truly known. The only thing that can be reasonably concluded was that a majority of Americans considered the two candidates for the job of President and found that George Bush was the man they felt was more capable and had articulated a better plan for the future. What, specifically, he had better capability in or what specifically he planned better is basically guesswork. (Those exit polls were hugely flawed, we all know that.) That George Bush is a flawed man is a given, considering the human condition. The majority of us just thought, as pertains that quality we refer to as “presidential”, Kerry was more flawed. Glad to see Soros can admit it.
I actually saw this thread yesterday but just didn’t have the gumption left to post on it at the time. In preparing to write about it this morning, I note that the Powerline boys have beaten me to the punch. I have no problem with that, so here’s their post.
The quote that started it all is here at the Democratic Underground. I couldn’t help but think that for folks who call themselves by such a name, they don’t seem to have a lot of respect or desire to see democracy bloom anywhere. It reads:
|::::::::||All the media keeps talking about is how happy the Iraqis are, how high turnout was, and how “freedom” has spread to Iraq. I had to turn off CNN because they kept focusing on the so-called “voters” and barely mentioned the resistance movements at all. Where are the freedom fighters today? Are their voices silenced because some American puppets cast a few ballots?
I can’t believe the Iraqis are buying into this “democracy” bullshit.
The rest of the quote is basically a hope that the “resistance” will somehow subvert the process or – better yet – already has and is simply using the election process to sucker those stupid, evil Americans in so they can put their much superior leadership in place. I would argue, by the way, that if the “resistance” got voted in, as the author of this thread is hoping, then they’re not the resistance, are they? They’re the new Iraqi Assembly, which makes them the government, not the resistance. That’s how democracy works. Of course, I can’t imagine why the author would be hoping that the group who is beheading people in the streets, who is killing fellow Iraqis who are just trying to get in there and vote, who consists almost entirely of members who would stone gays to death and slap their mothers around for no good reason would win the elections. These are the people he thinks should be running a government? Does he think that’s the kind of leadership we need here today?
While the vast majority of the comments posted to this thread were basically people cheering this author on and adding their own exhortations to the terrorists in Iraq to keep on blowing shit up, there was evidence that there is hope for the Democrats after all. Posted in reply was this:
|::::::::||If you want to cheer on a bunch zealots who stone gays and beat women or power-mad fascists, then go over to Pat Robertson’s or the neo-Nazi’s website. It’s that kind of anti-democratic Democratic thinking that is turning the DNC into the minority party everywhere.
If what happened today in Iraq is screwing up the world, then we’ve got to figure out how to screw it up faster. Maybe if we could screw up mainland “company town” China their workers could have real unions and be able to bargin for better conditions. Let’s screw up Iran next. After their wars women are enough of a majority there they might could elect some feminists.
Why does Bush say he wants to spread freedom around the world? If that’s what American’s want to here, then let’s get out in front of it and complain from the cutting edge that the conservatives are too slow. Tell people that if they want to make sure its done right then who better than the party of Jefferson and Wilson and Roosevelt.
This short-sighted “the enemy of my political oponent is my friend” obsession is not only going to alienate voters, it’s going to destroy an otherwise great opportunity to spread democracy around the world.
It’s not enough to say that Bush’s inaugural speech sounded pretty but he doesn’t mean it, you have to follow it up by saying “BUT WE DO, we have a track record of 2 centuries of success, and if you give us a chance we’ll show you again.” How many people are going to be inspired by following it up with “and we’ll protect your Social Security better?” Deep down people need to be a part of something greater than themselves. Maybe “fighting to blow up hopeful voters” seems great to a few people, but “fighting to make sure the bravery of hopeful voters is not wasted or betrayed” sounds better to me. I’ll bet it sounds better to a lot of swing voters too.
As far as people “betraying their country” by wanting to vote… How the (&@(#& is that kind of nationalist thinking progressive?
OK, now that’s different. A suggestion that the Democrats might be better at spreading democracy than the Republicans. Is it true? I don’t know. I haven’t seen any other Democrat seriously advance such a position, but I’d love to hear more. When the Dems put someone out here who can tell us more, I’ll be right there listening.
I was going to post on this a couple of days ago but events overtook me on it. I’d like to revisit it.
In the middle of this past week as I was driving to work, the pre-election violence in Iraq was being covered on the radio station I listen to, WTOP in DC. The story referred to a convoy hit by a roadside bomb, another bombing attack (they didn’t say what kind of bomb) and a firefight all of which resulted in the death of American soldiers. Listening to that, I thought to myself that they make it sound like our forces are simply waddling around in circles getting picked off like little duck cutouts at a carnival booth. You know, the kind where you throw 5 baseballs and if you knock down 5 of the duck targets, you win the prize? That’s the image I was getting; that our guys are just walking around oblivious waiting for some terrorist to take them out.
I contrast that to the stories I read on the milbloggers’ sites and with the e-mails I get from people I know who are over there right now. Those people are telling stories that for every American being killed** in a firefight, there’s 20-30 so-called “insurgents” being taken out. The effect of leaving that out of the report is to really give the sense that there’s absolutely no hope at all for a positive outcome, a picture that was demonstratedly false given today’s participation in the elections there.
Reading over at Blackfive, however, I see that I wasn’t alone in that thought. A post there quotes Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, writing in the Baltimore Sun. (Registration required at the Sun.) Check out Blackfive for the whole story frm Mr. Sowell, but this part here was the kicker for me:
|::::::::||THERE ARE still people in the mainstream media who profess bewilderment that they are accused of being biased. But you need to look no further than reporting on the war in Iraq to see the bias staring you in the face, day after day, on the front page of The New York Times and in much of the rest of the media.
If a battle ends with Americans killing a hundred guerrillas and terrorists, while sustaining 10 fatalities, that is an American victory. But not in the mainstream media. The headline is more likely to read: “Ten More Americans Killed in Iraq.”
This kind of journalism can turn victory into defeat. Kept up long enough, it can even end up with real defeat, when support for the war collapses at home and abroad.
One of the biggest American victories during World War II was called “the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” because American fighter pilots shot down more than 340 Japanese planes over the Mariana Islands while losing just 30 American planes. But what if our current reporting practices had been used back then? The story, as printed and broadcast, could have been: “Today, 18 American pilots were killed and five more severely wounded as the Japanese blasted more than two dozen American planes out of the sky.” A steady diet of that kind of one-sided reporting and our whole war effort against Japan might have collapsed.
(Emphasis mine) Dead – on – the – money. This is exactly the kind of behavior the media has been engaged in for most of the last 3 years. Had they been as diligent in reporting the successes as the failures, the victorious actions of our forces as well as the fumbles, they would have been serving the function they’ve claimed to be handling. But they’re not. As a group, they have bent more toward trying to exert their influence than in informing the public and so long as that’s the case, they cannot be trusted, by and large. I would hope they would change their focus now.
** Note: the original post used the term ‘shot’ here, but it was apparently confusing and led to the assumption that I was saying every time an American solider was wounded there were 20-30 terrorists being killed. An immediate tangent followed that calculated over 100,000 terrorists dead which led to the conclusion that people were being recruited into terror organizations at a hugely accelerated rate. I do not subscribe to that theory and the text here is corrected to avoid further confusion.
The polls in Iraq are closed now and the estimate of the voter turnout is at 72% of eligible voters. If that estimate bears out, it’s a hugely successful effort. Compare that figure to the US turnout in the 2004 elections which was just a hair over 60%. The participation by the Iraqi citizens is a good thing and represents their desire to have a hand in the direction of their own future. I applaud that.
Critics will point out that the day was not without bloodshed, and they’d be right. Mortar attacks and suicide bombers killed 28 people on their election day and that’s sad, almost tragic. That those people had stepped up to have their say in the governance of their land for the first time in 50 years only to be cut short by people who can’t abide the thought that others don’t agree with their take on how the world should work is heartbreaking. Even with all that and with reports of violence zooming around as only gossip can, they came to the polls. They’ve spoken and now we can find out what they’ve said. I look very much forward to hearing their decisions.
By the way, you’ll note that the figure I report above is not what many of the media are saying. They’re saying 36 were killed. Of course, that’s only if you include the terrorists who blew themselves up in the death toll. To do so, in my view, is to legitimize their action and stain the honor of those people who died while trying to do something positive for their nation. I don’t count them in with the victims.
Mohammed and Omar of Iraq the Model are joyous at what the day has brought and thank those of us who have supported the efforts to bring Iraqis this election and what, hopefully, lies beyond. They understand the significance of what they’ve accomplished:
|::::::::||I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world’s tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn’t hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said “brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn”.
Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!
It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.
No more confusion about what the people want, they have said their word and they said it loud and the world has got to respct and support the people’s will.
God bless your brave steps sons of Iraq and God bless the defenders of freedom.
Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq
Long live you all, indeed. Ali at Free Iraqi is equally happy and also feels a victory in his heart.
|::::::::||I entered the school and the supervisors showed me the way to were I should vote. They and the ING guys were so polite and gentle. I cast my vote and got out, not in a rush at all. This is my Eid and I felt like a king walking in his own kingdom. I saw the same look of confidence and satisfaction in the eyes of all people I met. As I left one of the gurads said to me as he handed me back my cellular phone,”God bless you and your beloved ones. We don’t know how to thank you. Please excuse any inconvinience on our part. We wish we didn’t have to search you or limit your freedom. You are heroes” I was struck with surprise and felt ashamed. This man was risking his life all these hours in what has become the utmost target for all terrorists in Iraq and yet he’s apologizing and calling us heroes. I thanked him back and told him that he and his comrads are the true heroes and that we can never be grateful enough for their services.
I’m still thrilled as I’m watching Iraqis vote allover Iraq through TV. Al Arabyia just reported that 6 thousand people in Fallujah have voted till now out of 60 thousands who have returned to their homes (total not voters). I listened to that and I felt enormous admiration and respect to those 6 thousand heroes. Things are difficult in Baghdad but it’s still incomparable to Fallujah. I’m sure that the number will rise towards the end of the day.
I’m stil overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions that I don’t know what to say more. The only things I can feel so strongly now are hope, excitement, pride and a strange internal peace. I have won my battle and I’m watching the whole Iraqis winning their battle too. I’ll try to write to you later my friends.
Thank you, Ali. I agree with that guard you spoke with at the polling site. You are heroes all, heroes indeed.
Update: For the record, I think Dean Esmay’s comments on the subject are perfect. Everyone who has said we could never hold elections and that no one would show up if we did was wrong. My prediction as to their next move: They’ll say it still won’t work and it won’t really be a democracy until the next elections.
I wish the Iraqis all the best as they open their polls and, for the first time in decades, take the reigns of their own destiny in hand. Mohammed over at Iraq the Model has some excited and encouraging words up. Ali at Free Iraqi has two posts that are also encouraging. I look very much forward to seeing this event written into history.
As I mentioned here in the last day or so, I had wanted to address something brought up in a comment to one of my posts and I didn’t have the chance this week to write about it thoughtfully. Time is permitting, finally, and I wanted to get on with it. OK, the post in question was this one, where I linked to a report from the Kuwati News Service about terrorists abducting an Iraqi police officer, drove him into a neighborhood in broad daylight, and proceeded to behead him as a way of telling people their views on Iraqis who aren’t seeing things their way. Rather than hearing about this kind of behavior from our media and members of the left, Americans instead get to hear about how every member of the US military command from the colonel on site up to President Bush (with a quick stop at the SecDef’s office) should immediately resign over the horrific brutality of the inhuman treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The title of the post deals with this particular phenomenon: equivalence. Some soldiers at Abu Ghraib – acting on their own and in a fashion our military does not condone – put a leash on a prisoner and put women’s panties on the head of another. This behavior w a s w r o n g and no one is seriously claiming otherwise. Period. Where I draw the line is, simply put, that the scope and magnitude of that wrong comes no where near being of a magnitude that you can even speak in the same breath of these two events: a beheading versus what amounts to a fraternity pledge week prank.
Read that again. The behavior at Abu Ghraib by our soldiers was wrong. It’s no where near an equivalent wrong to the act of beheading someone. Whether that be an Iraqi policeman, a truck driver, a satellite sales engineer, or Margaret Hassan of CARE. My point in my previous post was to say that I found the immediate reaction of members of our media and of the left to meet mention of beheadings not with agreement that such actions are unjustifiable, but with pointed fingers and chants of “Abu Ghraib!” to be completely out of line. To hold that up in immediate reply to any mention of the terrorists’ actions is to use Abu Ghraib to dismiss the terrorists’ means and disregard what is really brutal and inhuman treatment. I think the media should have carried the story of the Iraqi policeman’s death with equal vigor, if not more so.
So, that’s what the post was about. Read it for yourself. Here’s the comment I received in reply, courtesy Bob James:
|::::::::||Stop trying to excuse the crimes of American soldiers by pointing out the heinous acts of a small segment of Islamic extremists. It won’t wash. What our soldiers did was wrong, period, and they knew better, no matter what anyone else does.
And you should know all about hand-wringing apologists, there are enough of them excusing this misbegotten war on the Right. But no, you won’t say anything about the fact… FACT that this war isn’t being fought the way it should have been because our leadership fucked it up from the word GO.
Emphasis all his. Actually, this comment completely proves my point. Apparently, he thought so, too, because this one followed immediately: (We’ll get back to this first comment shortly.)
|::::::::|| Bush was too busy rattling sabers and strutting around telling the world how he was going to “get Saddam”. Too bad he didn’t think about the all-too obvious fact that people don’t like occupiers in their homeland. And that we might need adequate armor.
You want agreement that the slimeballs who are cutting off heads are lower than dirt that deserve to be exterminated? SURE. I’ll agree. There! Happy now?? Got any ideas how we’re supposed to tell the enemy from the civilians, yet? Or are we going to take a page from that good old Papal legate Arnaud-Amaury: “Slay them all. God will know his own.”
Emphasis again his. I guess I should mention I’m Catholic and Bob’s not. Hence the reference to Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Citeaux. Of course, like most of the chop-busting commentary directed at me over my religion these days, the reference deals with an utterance in a war that happened 795 years ago. (No, I’m not kidding. The event was in the year 1209. Look it up.) Nothing like holding a grudge for an event one wasn’t even present for, but I guess it’s a good thing Bob’s religion teaches complete tolerance of other religions or he might be tossing centuries-old comments in my face so he can dig at both my politics and religion in the same shot.
However, his second comment pretty much proves my point yet again. Sure, he “agrees” that the terrorists cutting people’s heads off should be exterminated. (Note: that’s a comment I never made and a suggestion I never put forward.) Of course, he does it in such a fashion that pretty much makes it sound like he’s yelling agreement to disagree. And he’ll only do that after launching the standard anti-Bush rhetoric and the standard left-wing mantra that our soldiers are occupiers rather than partners with the Iraqi government’s forces. In this comment, it’s not Abu Ghraib that he’ll play up, it’s his perception of President Bush “strutting” around and the aforementioned soldiers-are-occupiers thing that he puts up there to offset the terrorists’ activities. Tossed in a comment about the armor, too, just to reinforce the image that administration – excuse me; “BushCo” – presents an equivalent badness as the murder of non-combatants by beheading. It is this absolute refusal to simply make a statement that really condemns the terrorists’ actions without condition or offset that was the entire point of my post.
Now, back to that first comment. Taking this comment as representative of left’s position, I’m understanding this to mean that the left can’t make such an unequivocal condemnation because they don’t feel that the right has made a reciprocating condemnation. Let’s examine that. I myself have said here on this blog that the actions of those soldiers at Abu Ghraib were wrong. I said it right here, as a matter of fact. Others have said so plainly, and I’m talking about the right-wing, here. Blackfive and other milbloggers have consistently said the soldiers were clearly in the wrong and have even suggested that the sentence recently passed out to SPC Graner was too light.
About the “fact… FACT that this war isn’t being fought the way it should have been because our leadership fucked it up from the word GO,” however, presupposes that I agree that it’s a fact. Any student of military actions cannot possibly look at the major combat part of the Iraq invasion and say that it was done poorly. To say that that part of the war wasn’t fought the way it should have been is to ignore the complete success of the operation. There were soldiers killed, as in any war. The number dead on our side was kept to the minimum it was by virtue of excellent planning, training, and leadership and I refuse to concede anything but. The urban fighting that went on in Fallujah last month produced a victorious result with so few Coalition soldiers killed that the entire operation will be taught for decades as the ideal in that kind of combat environment. Again, the planning and execution of the operation was excellent as was the leadership and again I will not say otherwise. These things are part of the war, so to say that it’s been “fucked up” from the word go is not true, ergo not fact. Consequently, I will not say anything about it except to say that it’s not a fact.
Now, on to wider events, I certainly can say something. I believe 100% that mistakes have been made in our prosecution of this war, no doubt. There seems to be some question about who was responsible for the lack of body armor for our troops, the government or the suppliers. Both of those groups have a vested interest in blaming the other for the mess, so I can’t understand why anyone would immediately side with either party on that question. Same for the Humvee armor. Of course, no army anywhere in the world and at any time has ever gone to war with the kind and quantity of armor American forces have available to them today. It’s the modern obsession with absolute safety in all endeavors that presses some folks to think that any protection less than that which would allow our soldiers to stand motionless and unharmed amid 50-caliber machine-gun fire is insufficient. Sending our soldiers to battle with such “insufficiencies” is viewed as an intentional carelessness on the part of our government and that’s where the emphasis on the armor question stems from.
I believe 100% that decisions were made that were completely wrong and I still think so today. Under no circumstances should any American soldier be required to hold his counter-fire because his enemy has decided to shoot at him from a mosque. The second an attack is launched from one of those mosques, it’s a free target and should have been treated as such. Not the 10th time it happened, not after 3 strikes, but the very first time and every single time thereafter. Want to know why we keep finding huge weapon stockpiles in mosques? Because the terrorists know it’s safe to put them there. Happened in Fallujah, Najaf, and Mosul and it will continue to happen for so long as this stupid policy of holding back when the building happens to be a mosque is followed. It was and remains a mistake. (Would I feel the same way if a bunch of Catholic terrorists holed up in St. Peter’s in the Vatican and was taking pot-shots at American servicemen? You betcha.)
Speaking of Najaf, I am still stunned at the HUGE mistake of letting Al Sadr set the agenda there back in early 2004. He was given ultimatums, he made promises. In reply, he flipped everyone the bird and broke his promises, repeatedly. That he was allowed to leave Najaf and set up shop elsewhere where we had to go through it all over again was just plain dumb. And the first time the Marines were set to go into Fallujah they should have been sent. Instead, those same Marines and Army units had to go into Fallujah months later and attempt to clear out that same enemy who had had months to prepare and to terrorize the local civilian populace. Whoever made that decision is shy a few bulbs on the tree.
Rumsfeld should resign. There have been enough reports from milbloggers and members of the military that I know personally to say that the perception is that Rumsfeld does not listen to his battlefield commanders. In a chain of command that large, perception is quite a bit. To be honest, I’m not sure whether he didn’t listen to his people or not nor am I completely convinced he’s hosed things up at all, let alone as badly as the left is saying he has. But that’s irrelevant. The war is about issues bigger than one man and at the Pentagon, it’s said that no one’s irreplaceable. Like it or not, responsible for the mistakes or not, Rumsfeld is a lightning rod and we can’t afford that. He should step down. That President Bush didn’t accept his resignation when everyone else turned theirs in was a mistake on his part. The President, of all people, should have known that perception is everything where his efforts are concerned. He made a mistake here.
Kind of an addendum to my last point, Rumsfeld should have moved to increase troop strength back in 2002 when it was being considered. He didn’t. Mistake. If he doesn’t move to correct the error by pulling our troops out of such countries as Germany and South Korea, that would be another mistake, in my opinion.
So, yes, I do think mistakes have been made. This is likely not the declaration the left is looking for, of course, but I don’t believe the war, as a whole, is a giant mistake so they shouldn’t hang around waiting for the comment. What having our media and our left not join in the unequivocal condemnation of the terrorists and, most specifically, their methods does is to create a false impression that those methods are OK with them. By pinning those non-equivalent offenses to the beheadings and general civilian terror tactics, they create the impression that those methods are justified, understandable, and reasonable. That’s not right and that’s what I said.
I’m not getting through to Powerline this morning. The Internet pointer that directs people to their blog site isn’t showing the correct info as of a couple of minutes ago. (Techies: the DNS query fails. Attempts to browse there take you to a default page at their registrar, Enom Inc. Still pursuing…)
Update: They’re back now. Seems the auto-registration of their domain name failed to be… well, auto.
If an elected official, after being elected to his position, acts in a manner inconsistent with the desires of his constituency is it OK for that constituency to seek his recall from office in accordance with the law? I would submit that the answer “yes” should be considered axiom. In fact, it’s the very flower of democracy to put decisions like that to the vote of the electorate. The only requirements would be that the recall effort be based on acts that can be proved occurred, that can be proved were committed by the elected official or by someone operating at his order, and that the elected official understood what he was doing. (Meaning that the “act” wasn’t really an unintended and reasonably unforeseen consequence.) With those things set, the recall effort gets put to the test of the local law and, if successful, is placed as a referendum before the electorate. Their decision stands.
In this case in Estes Park, CO, the act in question is the refusal of an elected member of the town board to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before board meetings. In brief, David Habecker is an agnostic and is offended by the words “under God” in the Pledge. According to the story, he had been saying the Pledge previously and was simply omitting the offending words from his recital. This apparently became too much for him and he now simply sits while his fellow Trustees stand and recite. He’s calling that an exercise of his First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion. His fellow Trustees and, apparently, a number of his constituents call it unacceptable behavior. They set about completing the requirements of the law to implement a recall vote.
Habecker is sueing to stop them.
I understand Habecker’s argument completely and, strictly speaking he’s correct. If he views the Pledge as a religious exercise, he’s well within his rights to not participate. While we’re on the subject, he’s well within his rights to not participate, period, because he cannot be forced by law to say the time of day, let alone the Pledge.
But what about the First Amendment rights of his constituents to assemble (or, as the Supreme Court has interpretted, not assemble) with whomsoever they choose? Habecker was elected under the premise that there were certain behaviors he was going to follow and certain ones he would avoid. Several of my readers may not care that he won’t say the Pledge and some of those would actively applaud him for it, but his constituents might well take saying the Pledge as a highly positive and mandatory thing for one of their town Trustees. That he’s now not making the recital is clearly a significant omission for some of them and they might have chosen differently at the polls if they’d known he was going to take this stance. They are seeking to work within the law to recall him from office, but that recall isn’t an automatic thing. They have to vote on the issue and that is where we’ll all find out whether the recall enjoys wide support in their community or if it’s just the noise of a few disgruntled folks in Colorado.
The real offense here is in the effort to sue in order to block the recall from progressing at all. Habecker is effectively saying that his First Amendment rights are more important than those of his constituents and that he should somehow be protected from the laws regarding recall votes. In both circumstances, Habecker demands protection of rights he would sue to deny his neighbors, and that’s not right.