Gagagaga: Where does it stop? Thomas Hegghammer argues that general disgust at encroaching Western cultural decadence is far less important, as a cause of Islamist terrorism directed at the U.S., than the Palestinian issue:
To the extent that Westernization causes militancy, the violence it inspires is nearly always directed at other Muslims, typically against regimes in Arab countries, because these legislate over matters of public morality. Jihadists are idealists, but they are not so utopian as to think they can stop Westernization by attacking America. However, they do think that by installing Islamist local governments, those governments can take measures to limit social liberalization.
This seems a little pat. Just because outrage at Lady Gaga currently leads to attacks only on Target A doesn’t mean it will continue to do so in the future. If (as Reza Aslan, for one, suggests) Al Qaeda is best seen cynically as an organization bent on growth but flexible as to means, it should be able to switch to an “anti-Westernization” recruitment theme should the anti-Israel theme peter out. … Hegghammer soon retreats to the near-inarguable point that resolving the Palestinian issue would “likely” reduce recruitment. … 11:14 A.M.
Decimal, Schmecimal: Sunlight Foundation overstates Stupak group earmarks by a factor of 10. … 10:45 A.M.
Tomorrow’s Yesterday’s David Brooks column today: With the enactment of a form of universal health insurance, is the edifice of the modern American welfare state complete? Sure, there’s tinkering to be done: Add a public option? Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit? But is there some huge badly-needed state-provided benefit or entitlement that’s not now on offer? Or is the job of New Deal Liberalism (Benefits Division) largely complete? … You have to wonder if this will have an impact like the closing of the frontier. Will the Democratic party turn inwards, directing its now-diminished energy and idealism into satisfying the smaller concerns of its interest groups? (And how will we tell the difference in California? Just kidding!) … Will this be like the moon landing–not the beginning of dramatic achievements for NASA, but the end, at least for a long time. … When the parties are competing domestically mainly on the issue of who can rev up the economy, will the relatively small differences between them (neither party’s socialist, neither is for killing Social Security or Medicare or–soon–Obamacare) yield more vicious campaigning, faculty politics style? … 1:51 P.M.
Maybe I can dramatize it this way: If CNN’s Jon Klein were a unionized L.A. teacher, he’d still have his job! … What’s that you say? You’re kidding. … Well, check back and see if he’s still there in a month. … 7:31 P.M.