7-11 Drops Chavez Oil (aka Citgo)

The AP reports:

DALLAS (AP) — Convenience store operator 7-Eleven Inc. is dropping Venezuela-backed Citgo as its gasoline supplier at more than 2,100 locations and switching to its own brand of fuel…

7-Eleven spokesman Margaret Chabris said that, "Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez."

Too bad oil is a fungible commodity.

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Starving Hamas

In Time, Tony Karon argues that refusing aid to the Palestinian Authority in hopes that it will cause enough misery to force Hamas to recognize Israel is not a good policy, because any recognition Hamas makes under these cricumstances would be meaningless and it’s cruel to the Palestinian people.

I agree with part of that statement. Getting Hamas to verbally recognize Israel is pointless unless the group actually abandons terrorism as well. But, I don’t think withholding aid from the Palestinian government is merely about making Palestinians miserable so that they will reject Hamas. The decision to withhold aid arises because Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the United States and Europe, and there are policies in place against funding terrorist groups.

And I don’t think it’s cruel to the Palestinians to withhold aid because they democratically elected a terrorist group. In the days of Arafat, the excuse for the Palestinian people was that Arafat was not elected and doesn’t represent the views of most Palestinians, who just want peace. But a recent poll, cited by Karon, found that 67 percent of Palestinians opposed recognizing Israel.

Bin Laden Politics

The recent rumors that bin Laden died of Typhoid last month have not been proven true. But the reports made me wonder, at this point, whether there would be any sort of political bounce for Bush if bin Laden were found dead, and particularly if he were to die anticlimactically of disease rather than a U.S. military strike.

The Case Against Gridlock

Last week, I was speaking with the Club For Growth’s Pat Toomey for an article on another topic, and he made a good point as to why gridlock caused by a Democratic takeover of Congress would be unlikely to restrain spending. Toomey noted that if Democrats take over, funding for the Iraq War is going to become a major bone of contention between Congress and the White House. If President Bush wants to get the Iraq War funded, it’s unlikely that he’d be able to convince Speaker Nancy Pelosi to cut domestic spending too. Far more likely is a compromise whereby President Bush gets the Iraq spending he wants, but only if he agrees to a budget that grants more domestic spending to the Democrats’ pet projects.

I’m sure this is an argument that has been made before, but I thought it was worth repeating given our ongoing discussion on the consequences of Republicans losing control. In my view, if spending is the only issue you care about, gridlock can work under certain conditions. But I’m not convinced that it would work in the current environment.

The Deal on Torture

Jed Babbin says the compromise is “a near-total win for the White House” unless “the House-Senate conference mucks it up again.”

Meanwhile, the NY Times quotes Sen. Lindsay Graham on water-boarding: “It is a technique that we need to let the world know we are no longer engaging in.”

Wars and Christendom

Kevin Drum takes issue with another part of the Krauthammer column I linked to below. In his column, Krauthammer gave some examples of Christians fighting religious wars, and correctly noted, “However, the inconvenient truth is that after centuries of religious wars, Christendom long ago gave it up.”

Drum reacts:

It’s this kind of blithe, self-congratulatory nonsense that makes me wonder where the “clash of civilizations” crowd parks their brains. Cleverly, Krauthammer restricts himself here to “religious wars,” and it’s true that Christendom hasn’t had a genuine religious war in quite a while. But Christendom sure as hell hasn’t given up on war – not among ourselves, and not against others. Just to name a few, and just to stay within the past few decades, we have Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Algeria, Cuba, Malaysia, Suez, Iraq again, Greece, and Germany. And it would be easy to add a dozen more if I felt like it.

But Drum is missing the point. Krauthammer isn’t using the term “religious wars” as a cheap rhetorical trick. Krauthammer’s column was about the link between violence and religion. There’s a huge distinction between people who happen to be Christian being involved in a war and fighting a war in the name of religion, with the purpose of spreading that religion, and with the backing of religious leaders. Yes, Christians may have fought in Vietnam, but the purpose of the war was not to convert everybody to Christianity and you didn’t have Catholic bishops egging on Catholic soldiers to slaughter civilians in the name of Jesus.

Islamism and the Pope

Charles Krauthammer puts it well:

In today’s world, religious sensitivity is a one-way street. The rules of the road are enforced by Islamic mobs and abjectly followed by Western media, politicians and religious leaders.

This war against Islamic fanaticism must be fought on many fronts, and the cultural and intellectual realm is one of them. When the free world capitulated to Muslim mobs after the Danish cartoon furor, and when the Pope was forced to apologize for his comments about violence in Islam, it was just as much of a defeat for civilization as a loss on an actual battlefield.