Afghanistan. The trial of Abdul Rahman is an important test case for the Afghan government. Rahman converted from Islam to Christianity sixteen years ago, but adversarial family members recently ratted him out, notifying the authorities of his switch. Under sharia law, he could face the death penalty. The Afghan Constitution is dissonant on the issue, expressly upholding Islamic principles but also incorporating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The outcome of the case will tell us whether the current Afghan regime is moving in the direction of Taliban II or toward a free and democratic society. Quite frankly, the United States should not let a Rahman conviction stand. We have too much invested in this country to let this evil affront to civilization happen. The state prosecutor may have an out, though, declaring that Rahman may be "mentally unfit" to stand trial. The state prosecutor has more evidence on the mental unfitness of jihadist loony tunes than Rahman, but if that's what it takes to get out of an embarrassing situation, so be it.
Iraq. Just as the three previous elections were pivotal moments in Iraqi (and American) history, so is the formation of its new government. The longer it stays in limbo, the more tenuous the situation becomes. By way of Winds of Change, British Defence Minister John Reid is concerned that delays allow terrorists and rejectionists more opportunities to destabilize. Me, too. I wish I could think of the right analogy, but each successful event in post-Saddam Iraq is merely one step forward to a free, peaceful, non-theocratic representative republic. If such event fails, or fails to happen, then we move six steps backward. This is looking like one of those moments where one more step must be had. If not, those terrorists, rejectionists and others agitating for civil war may just get one.
Iran. With EU3 negotiations gone nowhere and discussions underway in the UN Security Council, the next step toward stopping Iran from having an atomic bomb is direct meetings between American and Iranian officials. The Mullah Supreme (Khameini) is amenable to talks with the United States, and we should take him up on his offer. If Iran gets to a point where we must decide to strike or not to strike, we should be able to say that we've tried every avenue of recourse.
The State of Mississippi. Radley Balko has been doggedly following the case of Cory Maye, who is on death row for shooting a police officer (colleague Sebastian Holsclaw has also brought Maye up a time or two). Thanks to increased exposure from the blogosphere, Maye may get a new trial.
The Bush Presidency. In today's Washington Post, the editors wrote, "President Bush should hold more news conferences." My response: Well, DUH! Although Dick Morris has been wrong more times than I can count, every once in a while he nails one, and he did so in this piece:
If Bush doesn't get his act together and begin to work hard at building popular support, his self-indulgence will land him in ever-deeper misery. His ratings will stay stagnant; then he'll lose one or both houses of Congress — and spend his final two years in office dodging opposition bullets, subpoenas, perhaps even impeachment. It will mean personal misery for this good man, and leave a cloud on his legacy that will take years to erase.
All because he doesn't want to do what he must — get up every day and go out and speak to America.
President Bill Clinton kept his job rating over 60 percent through all the days of Monica and impeachment. It had nothing to do with a good economy; as Bush is finding out, a growing GDP doesn't guarantee growing approval ratings. Clinton went before the nation every day with a new speech, an executive order, a proposal, a bill signing or some other media event.
He didn't just recycle his old proposals. Each day, he unearthed a new idea or initiative to keep his daily majority. He knew that without it, with an opposition Congress, he was a goner.
Instead of an opposition Congress, Bush faces an opposition media and the Occasional Communicator has not consistently stood up to the challenge. The key isn't just a single news conference, but a series, with the daily gaps filled with unrehashed daily announcements and snippets. Maintaining a "daily majority", as Morris calls it, is just as important for Bush as it was for Clinton.