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20 Percent of Americans Think Obama is a Muslim

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There are many reasons that our nation’s political discourse has become coarsened over the years. But, here is the main one: willful stupidity.

According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, 20 percent of Americans now believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. More than a third of self-identified conservative Republicans, believe Obama is a Muslim, which is more than the percentage of Republicans who vote in your average primary election.

During the campaign, Sen. John McCain was at a Town Hall meeting when someone in the audience suggested that Obama was a Muslim. McCain corrected the person then and there. Who among the Republican leadership will stand up now and correct the record?

We can disagree about many things in a democracy, indeed such disagreement is the very stuff of democracy. But, there is no arguing with stupidity. As Cong. Barney Frank once said to a woman holding a photo of Obama defaced to make him look like Hitler, it is better to argue with one’s dining room table than to argue with such stupidity.

Leaving Iraq

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The pictures from last night could not have been more different from those we all witnessed on May 1, 2003. Last night, as the last combat troops left Iraq, everything was understatement. In 2003, standing before the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush told us that major combat operations were over. They weren’t. Nor did they end last night. What ended last night was the U.S. military having the principle responsibility for the conduct of combat operations. Our combat troops have left. Whatever fighting remains to be fought, will be fought by the Iraqis.

Blast From the Past: Compton's on the Constitution

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One last excerpt from my childhood encyclopedias. As the reader will have noticed, these encyclopedias did not contain the most refined, exhaustive treatment of many subjects. It is odd to me that the entry for “Refrigeration Systems” is the same length as that for “The Reformation” but there it is. Still, every once in awhile you come across an entry that still would enjoy scholarly consensus but which seems not to have penetrated the consciousness of those you would assume would be most concerned. I would like all the of Tea Party activists, and especially Mr. Glenn Beck, to stop invoking the U.S. Constitution long enough to turn to page 139 of Volume 23 of the 1970 Compton’s Encyclopedias. There they will find this opening:

“United States Constitution. Most people think of the United States as a young country. Yet it has the oldest written constitution among the important nations of the world.

Ground Zero is not Auschwitz

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One of the arguments made against the mosque near Ground Zero – not at Ground Zero, by the way, it is two New York City blocks away from the perimeter of Ground Zero – is that while these Muslims have every right to build a mosque there, it is imprudent to do so. Conservative talking head Dan Senor and Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn have drawn an analogy between the Ground Zero mosque and the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz that Pope John Paul II ordered moved. The analogy is a false one, but it is illuminating in spite of itself.

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July 18-31, 2014

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