Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ralph Peters on Benghazi Hearing and Gift of F-16 Fighter Jets to Egypt.

Ralph Peters: Congress Went Easy on Hillary Clinton. Video. The O'Reilly Factor. Fox News, January 23, 2013. Also find it here and here.

How Dangerous are US F-16 Fighter Jets Gifted to Egypt. Video. Hannity. Fox News, January 23, 2013.

F-16 deal redefines US relationship with Egypt’s Morsi administration. By Ahmed Eleiba. Ahram Online, January 14, 2013.

No Matter What, Egyptian “Aid” Won’t End. By Bethany Mandel. Commentary, January 23, 2013.

Egypt: The Rule of the Brotherhood. By Yasmine El Rashidi.

Egypt: The Rule of the Brotherhood. By Yasmine El Rashidi. New York Review of Books, February 7, 2013. Also find it here.

More on Egypt and Morsi here.

Christianity After Constantine. By Walter Russell Mead.

Christianity After Constantine. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, January 23, 2013.

Religion As An Activity Engaged In By Consenting Adults In Private. By Peter Berger. The American Interest, January 23, 2013.


But I do want to make a general observation: In all these cases the authorities accused of violating the plaintiffs’ rights operate with a definition of religion as a private matter to be kept out of public space. There is here a general issue of government overreach, as clearly illustrated by the (still unresolved) attempt by the Obama administration to force Catholic institutions to provide contraception coverage in their employees’ health plans. Beyond that, though, there is a very ideological view of the place of religion in society. In other words, religion is to be an activity engaged in by consenting adults in private. The attorney for the Judeo-Christian side in the aforementioned American case had it quite right when he compared the treatment of his client’s religion with measures of disease control. This is not an attitude one would expect to find in a Western democracy. It is curiously reminiscent of policies toward religion in Communist countries and toward non-Muslims under Islamic rule.

An aggressive secularism seems to be on the march in all these cases. It seems more at home in Europe, which is far more secularized than America. Even in the United Kingdom, it seems, the drums of the French Revolution still reverberate. But how is one to explain this sort of secularism in the United States? The “nones”—that is, those who say “none” when asked for their religious affiliation by pollsters—are a very mixed lot. One theme that comes through is disappointment with organized religion. There is an anti-Christian edge to this, since Christian churches continue to be the major religious institutions in this country. Disappointment then, or disillusion—but why the aggressive hostility? There is yet another theme that comes through in the survey data: An identification of churches (and that means mainly Christian ones) with intolerance and repression. I think that this is significant.

Let me venture a sociological hypothesis here: The new American secularism is in defense of the sexual revolution. Since the 1960s there has indeed been a sexual revolution in America. It has been very successful in changing the mores and the law. It should not be surprising that many people, especially younger ones, enjoy the new libidinous benefits of this revolution. Whether one approves or deplores the new sexual culture, it seems unlikely to be reversed. Yet Christian churches (notably the Catholic and Evangelical ones) are in the forefront of those who do want to reverse the libertine victory. Its beneficiaries are haunted by the nightmare of being forced into chastity belts by an all too holy alliance of clerics and conservative politicians. No wonder they are hostile!


For most of Western history, ever since Constantine linked the church and the state in the ancient Roman Empire, Christians set the cultural and political rules that governed society. When it came to public morality the church and the people agreed more than they disagreed. Whatever people did in their private lives, everyone agreed publicly that the legal and ecclesiastical definitions of marriage should line up. To them, lifelong, heterosexual monogamy wasn’t a specifically Christian idea, or even a religious idea, but merely the commonsensical solution to the problem of sex and babies.

No longer. Today churches themselves don’t agree about what defines marriage. Many condone divorce; others don’t. Some churches celebrate gay weddings; others hold that all homosexual acts are sinful. Some churches frown on premarital sex; others say live and let live. And even greater diversity exists in society at large. In a democratic society, laws about marriage reflect the majority’s views. A century ago, this wasn’t a problem because the majority of individuals, as well as churches, agreed about what marriage was. Today, no such consensus exists.

Where we disagree with Berger, then, is that the conflict over public morality isn’t a cage match between a unified Christian body and a unified secular movement. Society is becoming so diverse that any civil law on marriage will coincide with fewer people’s beliefs about what the law should be. This breakdown of cultural consensus is going to haunt American jurisprudence and political discourse for the foreseeable future.

But Berger is right that traditional Christian teachings on sex are, rightly or wrongly, driving hostility to Christianity. These teachings—no sexual intercourse outside heterosexual marriage, ever—have never been particularly popular, especially among the young. In our society, where widespread access to birth control and the long interval between the onset of puberty and the security of economic adulthood make traditional chastity look unthinkable to a lot of young people, it’s less popular than ever.

Gerri Willis: The South is Kicking New York’s Butt.

Wrangel: Southern Areas Have Cultures That We Have To Overcome. By Gerri Wilis. The Willis Report. Fox Business, January 23, 2013. Video here.

Rand Paul Questions Hillary Clinton at the Senate Benghazi Hearings.

Watch the Full Clinton-Paul Exchange at the Benghazi Hearing. Video. PBS News Hour, January 23, 2013. YouTube.

Watch Secretary Clinton’s Testimony on Consulate Attack in Libya. By Larissa Epatko. PBS NewsHour, January 23, 2013.

In Light of Benghazi Hearings, Taking Stock of Arab Spring, North Africa Turmoil.

In Light of Arab Spring, Taking Stock of Arab Spring, North Africa Turmoil. PBS NewsHour, January 23, 2013. YouTube video here.

Mark Levin Interviews Rand Paul on Benghazi Hearing.

Mark Levin Interviews Rand Paul on Benghazi Hearing. Audio. Daily Rushbo, January 23, 2013. Also find it here.

The Guerilla Myth. By Max Boot.

The Guerilla Myth. By Max Boot. Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2013.

Obama’s Second Inaugural. By Yuval Levin.

Obama’s Second Inaugural. By Yuval Levin. National Review Online, January 22, 2013.


This speech was about as compact yet comprehensive an example of the contemporary progressive vision as we’re likely to get from a politician. It had all the usual elements. Its point of origin was a familiar distorted historical narrative of the founding — half of Jefferson and none of Madison — setting us off on a utopian “journey” in the course of which the founding vision is transformed into its opposite in response to changing circumstances, with life becoming choice, liberty becoming security, and the pursuit of happiness transmuted into a collective effort to guarantee that everyone has choice and security. The ideals of the Declaration of Independence are praised mostly for their flexibility in the face of their own anachronism, as their early embodiment in a political order (that is, the Constitution) proves inadequate to a changing world and must be gradually but thoroughly replaced by an open-ended commitment to meeting social objectives through state action.

Pete Hoekstra Anti-Asian 2012 Super Bowl Ad.

Pete Hoekstra Anti-Asian 2012 Super Bowl Ad. Video. YouTube, February 6, 2012.

Lisa Chan, Actress In Pete Hoekstra China Ad, Apologizes: “It Was Absolutely A Mistake.” By Amanda Terkel. The Huffington Post, February 15, 2012.

Blogs and Beer. By Stephen M. Walt.

Blogs and Beer. By Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, January 7, 2013.

An Open Letter to the New York Times Concerning Thomas Friedman. By Daniel W. Drezner.

An open letter to the New York Times concerning Thomas Friedman. By Daniel W. Drezner. Foreign Policy, January 23, 2013.

A Warning for “Davos Man.” By Stephen M. Walt.

A Warning for “Davos Man.” By Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, January 22, 2013.

The Vulnerability of Elites: Geopolitical Risk in 2013. World Economic Forum, November 2012.

Reality Has Pushed Israel to the Right. By Yoaz Hendel.

Why we lean to the political right in Israel. By Yoaz Hendel. The Guardian, January 20, 2013.

Why the Israeli Left is Lost. By Ruth Margalit. Slate, January 21, 2013.

Israel Isn’t Isolated. By Gabriel Scheinmann. The National Interest, January 21, 2013.