Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Cinch Review

“Endangered” heritage sites: Timbuktu and Bethlehem

UNESCO has named some new “endangered heritage” sites. The designation is intended to highlight and protect sites of great historical significance which are perceived as being threatened with destruction.

One such newly designated site is Timbuktu, in Mali, which includes many ancient shrines to saints of the Sufi strain of Islam. It has indeed been under threat by al-Qaeda-linked Islamists who reject that form of Islam, and who regard the shrines as idolatrous. In response (apparently) to the designation by UNESCO, dozens of these Islamists have arrived in Timbuktu in trucks, armed with AK-47s and pick-axes, and are systematically setting to work to destroy every single saintly mausoleum in the place. One must guess that no one from UNESCO even had time to put up a solitary poster with the “Endangered Heritage Site” designation. (I very much doubt there is anyone from UNESCO within hundreds of miles of Timbuktu right now.)

Destroying such ancient holy sites is a crime against decency and a crime against human culture, without question, but it hasn’t stopped Islamists before. Remember the Buddhist statues that the Taliban dynamited in Afghanistan in 2001. And then stop and consider what the future may hold for Egyptian antiquities, if Islamism achieves complete control in that country.

Meanwhile, UNESCO has also designated Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity as an endangered heritage site. Why, in this case? The churches who share control of the shrine—Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox—did not request the designation. Bethlehem is in the West Bank, and it was Palestinian officials who petitioned UNESCO for the “endangered” label, and asked for it to be “fast-tracked.” UNESCO quickly obliged. The granting of the “endangered” designation is being celebrated by Palestinians as a slap to the Israeli government, which asserts sovereignty over the area. Continue reading “Endangered” heritage sites: Timbuktu and Bethlehem

The Cinch Review

“ObamaCare is a tax, not a penalty”: post-mortems

Yesterday yours truly, like approximately 1.2 billion others, reacted within just a few minutes to the Supreme Court ruling on the “Affordable Care Act.” Today I see no particular reason to either correct or to expand on what I wrote then about why the ruling is wrong, but I do see that there have been smart people out there ably gilding the lily that was here planted.

Andrew McCarthy (who has a background as a federal prosecutor) writes: ObamaCare Ruling: Pure Fraud and No Due Process. His excellent column includes the following statement of fact:

[T]oday, the Supreme Court rewrote a law – which it has no constitutional authority to do – and treated it as if it were forthrightly, legitimately enacted. Further, it shielded the political branches from accountability for raising taxes, knowing full well that, had Obama and the Democrats leveled with the public that ObamaCare entailed a huge tax hike, it would never have had the votes to pass.

But leave it to Mark Steyn to write the ultimate summation of the entire lurid and horrific mess that this has become, in his column today in the OC Register. Read it all (which won’t be difficult). It’s an out-and-out classic.

Yet, would that there were no need to write a “classic” in response to yesterday’s ruling. Would that instead the deciding opinion had itself been a classic.

Maybe it is a classic, of some sort—that sort being the wrong sort.

While I vociferously disagree with his ruling, I have not sped ahead to hating or despising John Roberts personally as a result of it. I think he made a mistake. We all make mistakes; most of our mistakes, thanks be to God, don’t bring with them the kinds of consequences that accompany a mistake by a Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. If the ruling is a classic example of anything maybe it is that of a Chief Justice letting confusion and anxiety about his role as “chief” unduly affect his understanding and judgment with regard to the law. He saw that he was in a pivotal position in this case, and, as Chief Justice, that he had the power to write the deciding opinion. He distorted his usually clear-eyed view in the name of striking what he saw as some kind of grand, all-balancing compromise. Ditch the Commerce Clause through which statists seek absolute power, but let the law stand anyway through some sleight-of-hand as an ill-defined extension of the taxing power. He figured, perhaps, that it was the kind of thing that would make George Will happy; in this, at least, he was absolutely correct. Continue reading “ObamaCare is a tax, not a penalty”: post-mortems

The Cinch Review

O Little Town of Vladimir

Russian President Vladimir Putin has confessed himself “at a loss” after finding out, during a two-day visit to the Middle East, that a street in Bethlehem was being renamed in his honor.

Mahmoud Abbas, the head of what’s known as the Palestinian Authority, told Putin today that the mayor of Bethlehem had apparently been seized by inspiration to rename a street in that same town of Bethlehem (the birthplace of Jesus Christ) after the Russian leader, who is well-known these days for having severely contracted whatever democratic freedoms had managed to sprout in post-Soviet Russia. Continue reading O Little Town of Vladimir

The Cinch Review

Egyptian liberals tell U.S. to butt out with all this democracy stuff

It’s an irony wrapped up in … an even bigger irony. A block of liberal political parties in Egypt issued a “strongly worded statement” on Saturday telling the U.S. to stop putting pressure on Egypt’s military to hand over power to the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi (who is widely believed to have won a majority of the vote). Implicitly, they would prefer that the old-guard Mubarak-era candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, take control. Continue reading Egyptian liberals tell U.S. to butt out with all this democracy stuff