I have next to nothing to say about the State of the Union Address that hasn't been said in timelier and more complete fashion, more assiduously, and more hilariously (but you might have to backtrack a bit to the Protein Wisdom Conceptual Series to get some of it) by others. (OK, OK, I have to give you a little of Jeff's: "Alito, wearing robe, enters the hall. Instinctively, Amanda Marcotte clenches her vaginal muscles to protect her uterus.") I shared in the disbelief when the Democrat side of the hall rose to congratulate themselves on not only blocking Bush's effort to reform Social Security but not coming up with any alternatives for it, as well as when they stayed resolutely seated at various moments when Bush posited an America on the side of freedom, democracy, and self-determination. Mmm-hmmm.
Some other notes:
- Buy Danish! In case you've missed the story, protests have been occurring at various places in the Middle East and elsewhere because a Danish newspaper printed twelve caricatures of Mohammed, who is traditionally not pictured (though the tradition is not always observed - thanks to Michelle Malkin, who also reproduces the cartoons, for the link to the Mohammed Image Archive). Europe appears to be taking an unprecedented-in-recent-times stand with the Danes, so bravo to them. Me, I'm going to buy some Havarti today. Maybe some ham. And I hope I still have the email address of my Danish friend from college, so I can ask her how to make - ahem, phonetic-ish spelling to follow - röt gröt mit flutheh, a red-berry pudding with cream that she served at her wedding dinner. Oooh, oooh, I know: I'll do Smørgåsbord for our Super Bowl party!
- Read this for an eyewitness account of the situation on the ground in Iraq and with our troops. Note particularly:
Our occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War is a closer example of what we face in Iraq; we fought an extensive insurgency there for years, then remained in the country for nearly a century, with very positive eventual results.
[...]in the latest scientific poll of the Iraqi public, released December 12 by Oxford Research International[:] Asked how things are going for them personally, 71 percent of Iraqis now say life is “good,” compared to 29 percent who say “bad.” A majority insist that despite the war, life is already better for them than it was under Saddam Hussein. By 5:1 they expect their lives will be even better one year from now. Seven out of ten Iraqis think their country as a whole will be a better place in one year.
- This lengthy piece (thanks to the inimitable Instapundit for the link) discusses reconstruction efforts in Iraq. The part Glenn Reynolds highlights is the discussion of electrical supply: under Saddam Hussein, rolling blackouts in the north (Kurdish area) and south (Shi'ite area) were routine, in order to keep Baghdad powered 24/7. Now, rolling blackouts still occur, and little or none of the country has adequate electricity, but the total amount of power generated and supplied exceeds the total under Saddam - it's just more equitably distributed.
- As if it needs to be said, Cindy Sheehan has demonstrated again that she's moved from grieving mother to shameless grandstander. I'm sorry for her loss; I can't imagine the pain of losing a son (quick sign of the cross and knock on wood, covering all bases). But, just as it was inappropriate for Dave Delp to wear a rude anti-Clinton t-shirt to the Senate gallery during Clinton's impeachment hearings, and just as Rep. Young's wife acted inappropriately by wearing a "Support the Troops!" t-shirt (she was also escorted out), while Cindy Sheehan has the same freedom of speech as any American, she has no intrinsic right to a national audience, particularly when the forum is held for another (and Constitutionally-required) purpose. Apparently the Capitol police have apologized for their actions in removing both women; they were following what amounts to an etiquette rule of very long standing at the Capitol, but they've now knuckled under to "free speech" advocates who apparently have no sense of decorum. [Query to self: if Sheehan or Young had worn a tasteful suit with the same message embroidered on the jacket, would that have been acceptable? Hmm... nope, not as far as I can see. The rule both women broke is reasonable, and equitably applied, it seems. Why the backpedaling?]
I'd say that's enough to go on with.
Important omission to be corrected: Please note that I do not advocate dissing any religion's peaceful tenets! There's no virtue in mocking Islam or Muslims, any more than there is in mocking Judaism or Christianity or their adherents. But these drawings were typical editorial cartoons, far less disrespectful of Islam and Muslims than pretty much any European picturing of Israeli Jews and their allies (that'd be us, folks). Where they blended the image of Mohammed with the actions of fundamentalist Muslims (or Islamists, as I'm following the lead of many in calling them), the blending was factually accurate. My objection to the reaction of Islamists is that they appear to believe that we "infidels" are as bound by Islam as they are themselves, and they're willing to back up their belief with blood.
Unfortunately for them, if the sacrilege of picturing Mohammed is a life-and-death value for them, a free press has long been rather a life-and-death value for us. We now have the clash of civilizations out in the open: first, Palestinians overwhelmingly elect Hamas to lead their would-be nation, and then Islamists burn Danish flags and threaten Danish lives over some line drawings. It's been quite a week, hasn't it?
I'm whistling in the dark; this is terribly serious.