Today's Blogs

The Devil and Joseph Smith

Bloggers react to Mike Huckabee’s intro to Mormonism, the assassination of a Lebanese general, and Naomi Campbell’s histrionics at the Led Zeppelin concert.

The devil and Joseph Smith: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” So asks Mike Huckabee in this Sunday’s New YorkTimes Magazine, admitting that he doesn’t know much about Mormonism except that it’s a religion (a good start for an ordained minister). McClatchy blog Hot Off the Trail reports that Huckabee apologized after the GOP debate. Still, bloggers see it as a Christian-on-Christian antagonism, which, depending on their affiliation, is either fun or disheartening.

John Cole at Balloon Juice hugs himself with glee: “Grab the popcorn and soda, because the GOP is providing the nuts.” To which Andrew Sullivan says: “I know this is relatively obscure theology, but, hey, this is the GOP. If they insist on fusing religion with politics, the rest of us have to bone up on Mormon teachings.”

Dan Spencer, the California Yankee, writes: “When one doesn’t know much about what one is talking about, they should remain quiet. The campaign for the Republican presidential nomination should be about ideas that can move the country forward. It should not be about inciting discord over one another’s religious beliefs.” 

Nothing incites discord more quickly than the dreaded Hitler card, which Ryan Bell plays at the pro-Romney Romney Experience, dedicated to explaining the candidate and his religion to an “underinformed world”: “Do Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers? You can answer that with another question: Do evangelicals believe that Mike Huckabee and Hitler are brothers? … The answer to both is the same: if you insist on making a few logical leaps and completely ignore what each group actually teaches, sure.”

Catholic blogger Anchoress says Huckabee is playing into the media’s hands: “Look, the press is going to do as much as it can to keep voters focused on the ‘Jesus freaks and spooky Mormons’ in the GOP, and without saying very much about them - just allowing the religious hype and in-fighting to play out before the nation’s eyes, they’ll manage to scare the country into the Dem column.” Meanwhile, DHinMI at Daily Kos thinks Huckabee is just playing politics. “Huckabee may have used an innocent voice, but it’s doubtful that it was an innocent comment. His path to the nomination probably requires him to knock the stuffing out of Romney in Iowa, and to do that he’ll need to continue to ride the wave of fundie support that’s now got him leading the Iowa polls.”

Hugh Hewitt, a big Romney booster, is appalled: “No word yet on whether the former Arkansas governor asked if the Jews killed Jesus or if Catholics pray to Mary as a god. When your campaign is in trouble, it is better to focus on the trouble and fix, not set it ablaze.”

Read more about Huckabee on Mormonism.

Trouble in Lebanon: Brig. Gen. François al-Hajj was assassinated Wednesday in Lebanon. His death marks the latest in half a dozen political killings that have plagued the country since the Cedar Revolution. Al-Hajj was one of the next in line to become the army’s chief of staff in the event that Gen. Michel Suleiman, the current one, became president. Al-Hajj also orchestrated the routing of al-Qaida in a refugee camp near Tripoli, Lebanon, last summer. *

Andrew Lee Butters, Time’s man in Beirut, underlines the tragedy at the Middle East blog: “Only days ago it seemed as if Lebanon was moving past its latest crisis. The country’s feuding factions, backed by America on the one hand and Syria on the other, had reached an agreement on a candidate to fill the country’s empty presidency. All that was left was to pass a constitutional amendment allowing the chief of the army, General Michel Sulieman, to become the head of state, a position normally barred to serving military officers. A slight thaw in relations between America and Syria – as symbolized by Syrian participation in the Annapolis peace conference – seemed to presage an easing of tension in Lebanon.”

Blacksmith Jade at Blacksmiths of Lebanon is devastated: “This latest assassination is what it always is: Syria’s use of death, terror, and destruction to try and keep the Lebanese ‘in line’. Through every opening it receives - the last being France’s overwhelming act of diplomatic buffoonery in Lebanon’s Presidential elections throughout November - the Syrian regime is reinforced in its belief that the international community is unwilling to take serious steps against it, leaving it open to kill, maim, and terrorize the Lebanese.”

Tony Bey, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, posts at Across the Bay: “That the target was military is a message to Suleiman in case he had any ideas, but also, a message from Syria to whomever is to replace Suleiman as Army Commander. March 14 is said to have one contender lined up for the job, as part of the compromise over Suleiman. The Syrians just made their point the only way they do: through terrorism. I hope the French are proud of themselves. Engage Syria means get Lebanese killed. Period.”

Popular Lebanese blog Beirut Spring isn’t sure why the assassination took place, but asks some relevant and important questions: “Many readings can be drawn from this attack. Was it designed to provoke the Army to over-react to provoke a backlash? Was it targeting civil peace to consolidate Syrian influence? Was it a revenge killing for Naher Al Bared? Was it a personal threat to Mr. Suleiman?”

Read more about al-Hajj’s killing.

Campbell’s shriek: Naomi Campbell says she was “mugged” at the Led Zeppelin reunion concert in London. Among the missing possessions was her BlackBerry with Nelson Mandela’s phone number in it. Ever the picture of grace and modesty, she blasted the concert’s security guards and exited the venue via the VIP section.

Osoyou snarks: “Let’s just hope for Naomi’s sake, there isn’t a repeat of what happened to Paris Hilton a couple of years ago when a 17-year-old boy hacked into her mobile phone address book and posted loads of celebrities’ personal details on the net.”

TMZ, though, says reports of a “mugging” are bogus: “Sources close to Naomi tell TMZ that there was no mugging, and that it was merely her Blackberry that went missing. (Someone look for the maid!) We’re told that she enjoyed the concert, then discovered her weapon mobile device had gotten legs, and reported that to the O2 arena.”

Read more about Campbell’s BlackBerry.

Correction, Dec. 13, 2007: This piece originally and incorrectly placed a refugee camp near Tripoli, Libya, rather than Tripoli, Lebanon. The error was introduced at the copy-editing stage. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)