For years, hawks have tried to convince us that terrorists, whether affiliated with al-Qaeda or anyone else, are brilliant masterminds of evil with infinite resources who could kill us all at any moment. But once again, we see that actual terrorists tend to be remarkably incompetent. Whoever the guy who tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square was (and there is no evidence yet that he was affiliated with anyone), his knowledge of explosives seems to be about that of the typical sixth-grader. Propane tanks, gasoline canisters, some non-explosive fertilizer (he apparently thought all fertilizer could explode), and firecrackers. Firecrackers?
We all have a tendency to assume that people we don't like have sinister motives underlying their words and actions, and people we do like have good motives. When you're trying to determine what a politician meant when he or she said something that struck you as potentially objectionable, your overall view of them is going to have a lot to do with what conclusion you come to.
I bring this up as context for some criticism Barack Obama is getting over a comment he made discussing the idea of "judicial activism." Let's start with what he actually said:
I've often noted that the changing geographic distribution of immigrants has a lot to do with the "I want my country back!" sentiment that has become so visible in recent months. At one time, if you lived in a suburb or a small town, you were unlikely to encounter people speaking a language other than English very often, if at all. Now that people all over the country see immigrants in their communities, many feel as though something has been taken from them.
Item No. 1: The Supreme Court ruled that a cross erected on federal land in the Mojave Desert to honor war dead from World War I can stay.
Item No. 2: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, fresh from his Confederate History Month debacle, sought to reach out to people not like him by reversing a policy instructing state police chaplains to offer only nonsectarian prayers at department-sponsored events. Now, the chaplains will be able to talk all they want about Jesus at these official events, making clear to everyone just who the state believes is the one true god.