Bloggers are unimpressed with the president's first acknowledgement that the United States isn't winning the war in Iraq. They're also, on the whole, appalled at a New Jersey public-school teacher's efforts to preach the Gospels in history class, and glad that pro-Nazi historian David Irving is getting out of jail.
"We're not winning": For the first time, President Bush has admitted that "we're not winning" the war in Iraq (his second clause was, helpfully, "we're not losing"). Also vowing to add as many as 70,000 new troops to an exhausted military, Bush has, in the eyes on the TypePad brigade, experienced an epiphany that's two years late and billions of dollars short.
The conservative blogger at Uncommon Misconceptions thinks the president is hardly crying uncle: "Look, we have not succeeded in controlling the violence in Iraq. We *did* oust the vile Hussein regime, we *did* create a democratic system, we *did* shepherd the Iraqis through the formation of a somewhat coherent government, and we *are* building up the Iraqi security forces. Militarily, we *did* succeed in marginalizing Al Qaeda to the point where it was not a significant player in the political process, but Al Qaeda finally succeeded in igniting the sectarian violence that has plagued the country since March."
However, Michael Stickings at The Moderate Voice is having none of the voodoo semantics. He writes: "[I]t beats the 'we're winning' nonsense that you spewed before the midterms … . Of course, your spin raises the question of the meanings of 'winning' and 'losing,' but you can't possibly convince me that the meanings of 'winning' and 'losing,' as well as the line between the two, are what you imagined them to be back when you were rushing to war and then celebrating mission accomplished. How can being stuck in a quagmire not be losing?"
Responding to Bush's claim that November's midterm elections signified a popular desire to alter the war strategy, liberal Steven Benan at the Carpetbagger Report grumbles: "[T]he electorate just isn't where he thinks it is. 70% of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of the war, not because people want a different strategy, but because Bush rejects the one strategy with majority support—get the troops out of Iraq."
"When John Kerry called during the 2004 campaign," notes lefty Steve Soto at the Left Coaster, touching a common cyberspace plaint, "for an increase of 40,000 in our force levels, and specifically a doubling of our Special Forces to fight the global terror war, the White House and GOP Senate hacks … belittled Kerry. … It has only taken two years and countless deaths and injuries to our troops for Bush to come around and admit that Kerry was right all along."
Read more about Bush's "we're not winning" milestone.
We, the saved: Kearny, N.J., public-school teacher David Paszkiewicz has come under fire for evangelizing in his 11th-grade history class on the U.S. Constitution. A student recorded Paszkiewicz saying things like, "If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong"—and his doesn't refer to Thomas Jefferson.
Jeremy Leaming at First Amendment blog the Wall of Separation indicates, "Paszkiewicz is not a science teacher, yet he railed against evolution and the Big Bang and claimed that dinosaurs traveled on Noah's Ark—a standard creationist canard. Why was he even discussing these topics? Paszkiewicz needs to stick to the subject at hand. A discussion about religion's role in history is fine. Running a Sunday School class is not."
"Rev. Dan" at eccentric religion blog Outchurched has a fast and easy solution: "The appropriate response to this situation would be for Kearny High School to have an immediate opening for a competent History teacher. What do dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, the Christian Monopoly on Heavenboundness, Evolution, or the Big Bang have to do with the Constitution of the United States?"
Ed Brayton at science, law, and religion blog Dispatches From the Culture Wars agrees. "[P]erhaps if he spent less time preaching and more time teaching history, his students would know that the free exercise clause does not protect the teacher's expressions as a government employee. He is free to believe whatever he likes, of course, and he is free to tell his youth group that Muslims are going to hell at the church. But at the school, during class time, he represents the government and as such he cannot use that time to preach or to expound on his religious beliefs."
Read more about classroom proselytizing in New Jersey.
Irving freed: British historian David Irving, who was convicted in Austria last February for the crime of Holocaust denial, has been granted probation by a Viennese appeals court. Score one for free speech, even if the speaker is thoroughly unsavory.
The conservative behind Out From Under applauds the Austrian magistrate's decision, even though "Irving is clearly a complete twat and a deeply unpleasant man … . Anti-semitism is disgusting. Wherever it is found it should be argued against. But jailing people who are guilty of it only serves to give them unnecessary publicity and turns them into martyrs."
Zayed on multipurpose blog WALEG observes that Irving's imprisonment was questionable even under the terms of the Austrian statute: "[Irving] didn't deny [the Holocaust]. What he said was that most of those who died at Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz died of diseases such as typhus rather than being executed by the Germans."
Read more about David Irving's release.