Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Opinionator

By Tobin Harshaw

  • Most of the coverage of last week’s Sojourners magazine conference on faith with the Democratic presidential contenders focused on efforts to win over evangelical Christians and other Protestants. John Cochran at CQPolitics, however, thinks another religious group is in play.

    “Mara Vanderslice, an evangelical and a Democratic strategist who advises candidates about how to reach religious voters, said Democrats have the best chance with Roman Catholics and with younger believers who are thinking differently than previous generations about faith and the issues.” Cochran reports. “Catholics are a swing constituency. Exit polling found that Bush won 52 percent of their vote in his 2004 race against Kerry, who is Catholic. That was up from the 47 percent he received in 2000. But the advantage edged back toward Democrats in last year’s election, with 55 percent voting Democratic.”

  • Many feel that America should stop backing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, including The Times’s editorial page, which said yesterday that “Washington needs to disentangle America, quickly, from the general’s damaging embrace.” But if he were to fall, would his replacement be any better? Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters isn’t so sure:

    Pakistan has a natural affiliation with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The nation was founded by Muslim separatists and has usually had sympathies for like-minded groups. Musharraf himself allied with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar before the 9/11 attacks, a very popular position in Pakistan, and only moved away from that alliance under threat of American attack. A return to that policy under new leadership would be disastrous to the war effort. In the first place, it would leave the Taliban and AQ as a permanent threat to Afghanistan. Much more worrisome, however, is that it leaves at least a theoretical path for terrorists to get nuclear weapons for their efforts.

  • Does the death penalty deter killers? Surprisingly, some academics feel they have data proving it does.

    Patterico, a prosecutor in Los Angeles, has thoughts:

    At the very least, this article should prevent death penalty opponents from lazily arguing that there is no scientific support for the proposition that the death penalty deters murders. They are welcome to question the studies, and I would enjoy reading thoughtful criticism along those lines. … For me, the case for the death penalty doesn’t rest on the outcome of studies on general deterrence. It comes primarily from a sense that this penalty is the just result for callous criminals who commit premeditated murder, and secondarily from a concern that murderers can still kill as long as they are alive, whether in prison or not.

    But the concept of deterrence is important to many, and with good reason. If these studies are accurate, it spells trouble for death penalty opponents.