Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Muslim politics

On the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations has released a poll that, among other things, reflects American Muslim political views.

Suffice it to say the majority aren’t in George W. Bush’s camp.

Only 2 percent said they would vote for President Bush. One in 10 Muslim respondents say they support the president’s Iraq policy.

Asked which 2004 presidential candidate would get their vote, American Muslims (a large majority of whom vote in presidential elections) from 41 states favor former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (26 percent), followed by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio (11 percent), Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts (7 percent) and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois (6 percent).

When asked to name the political party that best represents the interests of the American Muslim community, far more respondents named the Democratic Party (27 percent) and Green Party (25 percent) than the Republican Party (3 percent).

As for the television news outlet that most fairly provides coverage of Islam and Muslims, taxpayer-supported PBS topped the list. The Fox News Channel exhibits the most biased coverage, according to those polled.

Mission accomplished

The longtime dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph S. Nye Jr., says he will step down from his faculty post next June.

“It was the aftermath of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City that led me to accept the role of dean of the Kennedy School of Government,” Mr. Nye says. “I was worried about what was happening to public life in our country.

“Since then, this school has trained thousands of public leaders and created knowledge that helped to improve public policies. It is a decision I have never regretted.”

Prohibition mission

John Doyle, executive director of the American Beverage Institute, is charging that a National Academy of Sciences panel that was supposed to advise Congress how to prevent underage drinking instead advanced the agenda of the neo-prohibitionist movement.

The panel’s recommendations include a call for increased taxes on alcohol sales — a proposal designed to reduce consumption by all individuals, not just those who are underage.

The NAS report, “Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility,” states: “It is at least logically possible that the most ‘cost-effective strategy to reduce underage drinking’ includes policies that produce their main effects not on underage drinking, but rather on the overall level of drinking in the population.”

Nine of the 12 NAS panelists, it is further charged, are “anti-alcohol activists,” eight with reported ties to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “an $8 billion organization that has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the neo-prohibitionist movement.”

“A panel so heavily stacked with individuals bearing an anti-alcohol agenda cannot report objectively,” says Mr. Doyle, charging they have abused their authority.

Mexican flotilla

Let’s check in with Christopher C. Horner, our poolside stringer in Cancun, Mexico, where the reactionary left is once again colliding with the right at the World Trade Organization’s biennial ministerial conference that began yesterday.

“Approaching Cancun’s Centro de Convenciones, home to the WTO ministerial talks, there is a disturbing lack of edge to the security measures dominating the landscape, now typical after Seattle and Genoa: a cordon of eight-foot riot gates, but stripped of their razor wire; hundreds of mobilized policia and federales, yet hardly a truncheon to be glimpsed, let alone anything bearing even rubber bullets,” Mr. Horner observes.

“Gazing out upon the gorgeous coast, one imagines word of a possible seaborne threat to complement the ground assault by the unwashed. Patrolling Cancun is the preponderance of Mexico’s Gulf Fleet — 40 watercraft, mostly PT-style interceptors, but also three warships of the frigate or light-cruiser variety, poised for battle. Accompanying the flotilla is a large salvage vessel (admittedly rusty on my history of Mexican naval engagements, it may merely be a prudent measure).”

For whom do the Mexican sailors lie in wait?

“Word is that Greenpeace has dispatched a battle group for imminent arrival,” he says, “presumably the Rainbow Warrior, to spearhead protest-related antics outside the talks. My pesos are riding on the Mexicans.”

• John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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