Bill Whittle’s State of the Union

January 31, 2011

President Obama gave his State of the Union address last week (which, in Internet years, was sometime during the Jurassic), and this week Bill Whittle has posted a conservative rebuttal. As always, Bill’s videos are well worth watching:

Bill has a new web site and also appears as one of the hosts on PJTV’s Trifecta.

RELATED: A listing of Bill’s earlier series — What we believe.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why a flat tax is a good idea

January 31, 2011

I believe I’ve posted this before, but, since tax season is fast approaching with all its wrangling over this rule and that deduction, I thought it worthwhile to offer again. In it, the Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell explains how a flat tax would work and why it would be better for the country than the current Byzantine system we have:

And, speaking of those Mitchell mentions who benefit from the current tax code, I’m sure the tax-prep industry would just hate this.

via International Liberty

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A pessimistic view of Egypt

January 30, 2011

Barry Rubin looks at three likely outcomes for the turmoil in Egypt and fears the worst case is most likely:

Second, the elite loses its nerve and fragments, in part demoralized by a lack of Western — especially U.S. — support. The Muslim Brotherhood throws its full weight behind the rebellion. Soldiers refuse to fire at or join the opposition. Eventually, a radical regime emerges, with the Muslim Brotherhood as either ruler or power behind the throne. Remember that the “moderate democratic” leaders have been largely radical and willing to work with the Brotherhood. In that case, it is a fundamental transformation.

The new regime turns against the West, tears up the peace treaty with Israel (in practice if not formally), and joins hands with Hamas. Iranian influence isn’t important with this regime, but that will be small comfort as it launches its own subversive efforts and even goes to war against Israel at some point in the future. This will be the biggest disaster for the region and the West since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago. And in some ways it will be worse.

I fear he’s right.


Doing right by DC’s students

January 30, 2011

Last summer I castigated President Obama, his Secretary of Education, and the Democrats for killing a school voucher program in the District of Columbia that provided good educations to children who would otherwise be stuck in rotten schools. The benefits to these children weren’t just airy conservative theory: test scores were bearing them out in practice.

But, the president owed the teacher’s unions big-time for the work (and money) they poured into his election, and, of course, anything not smelling of statism goes against his nature anyway. Hence the voucher program was allowed to expire. (While his own children were placed in the toniest private school in Washington.)

But, not all public servants are willing to sacrifice a child’s education on the altars of ideology and union greed. Thus it is that Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Lieberman (I-CT) are going to introduce legislation reviving the voucher program:

The speaker, along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., on Wednesday plans to introduce legislation to revive a controversial program that provides private-school vouchers for kids of low-income parents in Washington, D.C. Boehner has long been a supporter of that program, which started to wind down in 2009, but is devoting some serious political capital to the cause this week.

(…)

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, as it is known, was launched in 2004 as the first federally funded program providing K-12 education grants. Though supporters say it gives poor students an alternative to the city’s underperforming public school system, teachers unions and other opponents say it draws sorely needed money away from the public system.

Lawmakers opposed to the program succeeded in eliminating it after Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. — who could not be reached for comment Tuesday — attached an amendment to a 2009 spending bill. President Obama stepped in and agreed to allow students currently enrolled to graduate. But the program is no longer accepting new applicants.

Click through to see video of Boehner and Lieberman’s announcement.

I think it’s a safe bet to say this will pass. The question is whether the President will sign it and do the right thing by the District’s children, or veto it to please his union backers. If he does veto it, not only will it be another sign that his “move to the center” is a bad joke, but it will let me ask again the question I offered last time: Why does President Obama hate poor kids?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Egypt: “Things are never so bad they can’t get worse.”

January 29, 2011

Those are the wise words of Michael Ledeen’s Grandma Mashe and, in the case of Egypt, I think she’s right. While the situation there right now looks bad, the likely outcomes are even worse: harsh military rule or the ascension to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks a society based on strict sharia law and sees itself in a long-term jihad against the West. The prospects for replacing the current authoritarian regime with liberal democracy is, in my opinion, minimal in a land that has never known democracy in it 6,000-year history and where the current regime has done little, if anything, to allow democratic opposition to grow — and in the process left the people only with radical Islam as an outlet for protest.

Anyway, in reading online I’ve come across some articles to pass along, the first from the aforementioned Mr. Ledeen, who’s always worth following: Revolution? By Whom? For What?

And what about us?  We are supposed to be the revolutionaries, and we must support democratic revolution against tyranny.  But we must not support phony democrats, and for the president to say “Egypt’s destiny will be determined by the Egyptian people,” or “everyone wants to be free” is silly and dangerous.  Egypt’s destiny will be determined by a fight among Egyptian people, some of whom wish to be free and others who wish to install a tyranny worse than Mubarak’s.  That’s the opposite of freedom.  Think about the free elections in Gaza that brought the Hamas killers to power.  For that matter, think about Khomeini, viewed at the time as a progressive democrat by many of the leading intellectual and political lights of the West, from Foucault to Andrew Young.

We should have been pressuring the friendly tyrants in the Middle East to liberalize their polities lo these many years.  We should have done it in the shah’s Iran, and in Mubarak’s Egypt, and in Ben Ali’s Tunisia.  It is possible to move peacefully from dictatorship to democracy (think Taiwan.  Think Chile.  Think South Africa).  But we didn’t, in part because of the racist stereotype that goes under the label “the Arab street,” according to which the Arab masses are motivated above all by an unrelenting rage at Israel for its oppression of the beloved Palestinians.  That myth went along with another:  the belief that the culture of the Arab world (sometimes expanded to “the culture of the Muslim world”) was totally resistant to democracy.  The tumult has nothing to do with Palestine/Israel and even a blind bat can see hundreds of thousands of Arabs fighting for democracy, as have their fellow Muslims in Iran.

We shoulda, coulda done better all along.  But here we are.  It’s quite clear that Obama is totally bamboozled.

The United States has huge stakes in Egypt and the region, but I fear our ability to influence events is limited by our lack of knowledge and by, quite simply, the fact that revolutions, once ignited, are almost impossible to direct. The winners are not always the largest force, but usually the most organized and disciplined, such as the Bolsheviks in 1917.

And speaking of disciplined forces, former UN Ambasssador John Bolton sees the situation becoming more dangerous, as the Muslim Brotherhood has become openly involved and the military wonders about its own survival:

I think after the Friday prayers the Brotherhood brought its people out. That’s why the protests are even more extensive today. That constitutes no doubt about it a direct threat to the military government, and I think the failure of the other security forces to bring the demonstrations under control also now explains the presence of the military.

Let me be clear here, this is not just the Mubarak-family government. The military has ruled Egypt since Gamal Nasser and they overthrew King Farook.

It’s the military that is the real government and they are not going to go peacefully.

I think the question is whether and to what extent the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamists have infiltrated the leadership. If the military holds firm it’s entirely possible, although bloody, that the government can hold onto power. That doesn’t necessarily mean Mubarak will be in power, but the military will be, and I think that is why this contrast makes it so important for people to understand, this is not a choice between the Mubarak government on one hand, and sweetness and light, Jeffersonian democracy on the other.

I don’t think we have evidence yet that these demonstrations are necessarily about democracy. You know the old saying, “one person, one vote, one time.” The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t care about democracy, if they get into power you’re not going to have free and fair elections either.

He also brings up the parlous situation of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, who constitute roughly ten percent of the population and suffer regular persecution and pogroms. You can bet they’re terrified of the possibility of a Brotherhood-dominated government or a more nakedly military government that needs a convenient scapegoat to deflect the Islamists.

And the Brotherhood may be calling in markers, as its offshoot Hamas appears to be coming to its aid:

The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party.

(via Power Line)

Only a fool (Or a TV talking head) pretends to be able to predict with certainty what will happen in Egypt, but Andrew Bostom reminds us of a University of Maryland survey showing that a disturbingly large number of Egyptians want a sharia-ruled state:

In a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/  WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 1000 Egyptian Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007, 67% of those interviewed-more than 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority”-desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate”). The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 74% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict (…) application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”

See also Michael Totten’s recent blog entry talking about other worrisome data points of Egyptian public opinion. Like Michael, I fear that Egyptians may just get what they wish, only to very much regret it later — like the Iranians in 1979.

LINKS: Obama adviser Bruce Riedel tells us we shouldn’t worry about the Muslim Brotherhood;  Bruce Riedel is also a fool. At Big Peace, journalist Caroline Glick has a must-read article on Egypt and the Pragmatic Fantasy, while former Muslim Nonie Darwish calls Egypt’s situation a choice between bad and worse. At Threat Matrix, Thomas Joscelyn examines the longstanding ties between the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and the Shiite mullahs of  Iran.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I can see dumb people

January 28, 2011

This was the sight I saw on a bridge over the San Diego Freeway on my way home from the market:

 

Some very stupid, pathetic people

…and…

Proof that a brain is not required to live

 

There were about a dozen or so of these paranoid morons on the bridge, holding up their signs and offering free DVDs of THE TRUTH!!1!1 to anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path. I’m surprised no one stopped to punch their lights out.

Here’s a message for the 9/11 Truther crowd, and I hope at least some of the mental giants on the bridge right now see this:

You people make me sick.

Your paranoid fantasies are a grotesque insult to the thousands who died that day, the President and all the members of the government who spent the next 7 years making sure that nightmare never happened again, and our entire nation. You are an embarrassment to us all. You make me feel unclean for even coming within 50 feet of you.

You people are sick.

Really. You need help, because you have obvious problems dealing with reality. It’s not uncommon with people who are frightened by a complex world; there’s so much comfort to be found in reducing everything that’s too much for your fragile minds, such as the idea that fire can melt steel, to simple conspiracies. It makes you feel powerful again, doesn’t it, because you know the truth? Well let me tell you the truth:

You are mentally ill, you nauseating wretches.

And this guy is probably your leader:

Now go away and go back to eating paint chips.

PS: Since this also goes out to my Twitter feed, if anyone reading this is sympathetic toward 9/11 Trutherism and follows me on Twitter, please unfollow me. Now. I don’t want to be dirtied by even the merest association with you.


The Highway to Hell, Leftist Remix Edition

January 28, 2011

Andren Klavan takes us on a ride along a road paved with good intentions. Road trip!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Proof that spam can be deadly

January 28, 2011

No, not the (supposedly edible) stuff that comes in a can, but the kind you get in unwanted text messages. The kind that makes the suicide belt you’re working on go boom early:

The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt on a busy square near Red Square on New Year’s Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds.

Security sources believe a spam message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her but nobody else.

She was at her Moscow safe house at the time getting ready with two accomplices, both of whom survived and were seen fleeing the scene.

Kind of makes the jihad meaningless if the only person you take out is your own stupid self, doesn’t it?

Darn.

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The train robbers had a bad day

January 28, 2011

…because they ran into a Gurkha — a retired Gurkha, who got mad:

“They started snatching jewelry, cell phones, cash, laptops and other belongings from the passengers,” Shrestha recalled. The soldier had somehow remained a silent spectator amidst the melee, but not for long. He had had enough when the robbers stripped an 18-year-old girl sitting next to him and tried to rape her right in front of her parents. He then took out his khukuri and took on the robbers.

“The girl cried for help, saying ´You are a soldier, please save a sister´,” Shrestha recalled. “I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister,” he added. He took one of the robbers under control and then started to attack the others. He said the rest of the robbers fled after he killed three of them with his khukuri and injured eight others.

During the scuffle he received serious blade injury to his left hand while the girl also had a minor cut on her neck. “They had carried out their robbery with swords, blades and pistols. The pistols may have been fake as they didn´t open fire,” he surmised.

That’s one retired soldier with a knife* against 40 armed robbers. Who needs Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis when you’ve got Bishnu Shrestha on your side?

In case you’re wondering, yes, he’s getting a medal for this. Three of them, in fact. And cash bounties. And no doubt a bunch of Bollywood and Hollywood agents who will pay scads for his story.

*A kukri, to be exact, which is a very big knife.

LINKS: Moe Lane and Dave.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I thought she was supposed to be just a dumb chillbilly?

January 27, 2011

Sarah Palin has posted a response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on her Facebook page. Rather than the vapid ramblings of a baby-making airhead, she demonstrates she has a better idea of what ails the nation and what it needs than the man who made the speech. An excerpt:

Perhaps the most nonsensical bit of double-speak we heard last night was when the President said that hitting job-creators with a tax increase isn’t “punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success.” But government taking more money from the small business entrepreneurs who create up to 70% of all jobs in this country is not “promoting America’s success.” It’s a disincentive that will result in less job creation. It is, in fact, punishing the success of the very people who created the innovation that the President has supposedly been praising.

Despite the flowery rhetoric, the President doesn’t seem to understand that individuals make America great, not the federal government. American greatness lies in the courage and hard work of individual innovators and entrepreneurs. America is an exceptional nation in part because we have historically been a country that rewards and affirms individual initiative and offers people the freedom to invest and create as they see fit – not as a government bureaucrat does. Yes, government can play an appropriate role in our free market by ensuring a level playing field to encourage honest competition without picking winners and losers. But by and large, government should get out of the way. Unfortunately, under President Obama’s leadership, government growth is in our way, and his “big government greatness” will not help matters.

Consider what his “big government greatness” really amounts to. It’s basically a corporatist agenda – it’s the collaboration between big government and the big businesses that have powerful friends in D.C. and can afford to hire big lobbyists. This collaboration works in a manner that distorts and corrupts true free market capitalism. This isn’t just old-fashioned big government liberalism; this is crony capitalism on steroids. In the interests of big business, we’re “investing” in technologies and industries that venture capitalists tell us are non-starters, but which will provide lucrative returns for some corporate interests who have major investments in these areas. In the interests of big government, we’re not reducing the size of our bloated government or cutting spending, we’re told the President will freeze it – at unsustainable, historic levels! In practice, this means that public sector employees (big government’s staunchest defenders) may not lose jobs, but millions of Americans in the private sector face lay offs because the ever-expanding government has squeezed out and crippled our economy under the weight of unsustainable debt.

Read the whole thing and just try to square it with the liberal media-political complex’s narrative of a shallow dummy and a bubbleheaded runner-up beauty queen. Her discussion of Obama’s corporatist agenda could have come straight out of Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism.”

Go, ‘Cuda!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


In other words, 13 Republican senators were idiots

January 27, 2011

That’s the number of senators who crossed the aisle to ratify the new START treaty with Russia that the administration rammed through last December, during the lame-duck session. That’s also the same number of senators who, per William Jacobson, failed to see that it did not decrease Russian launchers and warheads at all. In fact, they can still increase them. Only we have to make cuts.

Genius!

Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian defence minister, told Russian senators that the treaty would not damage Russia’s interests and would have little impact on its nuclear arsenal however.

“The limits on delivery vehicles and nuclear warheads outlined are substantially more than our current possibilities,” he said. “We do not possess so many (warheads and delivery vehicles).” The treaty’s future hung in the balance towards the end of last year when Republicans, who are sceptical about the agreement, won more seats in the US Senate.

Remember, START stands for “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.” I didn’t realize it had been changed to STAART: “Strategic American Arms Reduction Treaty.” If these are the fruits of Smart Power, I’d hate to see what Moron Power could do.

And speaking of morons, here’s the list of Republican senators who, in a spirit of bipartisanship, failed to do even the basic due diligence the Constitution requires of them and instead voted for this bad joke of a treaty:

Republicans Yes

Alexander, Tenn.; Bennett, Utah; Brown, Mass.; Cochran, Miss.; Collins, Maine; Corker, Tenn.; Gregg, N.H.; Isakson, Ga.; Johanns, Neb.; Lugar, Ind.; Murkowski, Alaska; Snowe, Maine; Voinovich, Ohio.

Thanks, guys. Glad to know you’re watching out for our interests.

AFTERWORD: Some may look at that quote above from Defense Minister Serdyukov and wonder why on Earth the administration agreed to this: Were they nuts or incompetent? Is this report false?

In short, the answers are no, maybe, and no.

The decision to lower our nuclear arms while Russia doesn’t fits the behavior of an administration hell-bent on weakening America. It’s the result of a leftist worldview that sees American dominance and the unequal distribution of power and wealth in the world in our favor as a problem, not, as most of us would, as a good thing. There is an excellent article by Charles Krauthammer you should read called “Decline is a choice” that outlines this strategy — for that’s what it is.

Oh, and regarding the “maybe.” While this may be part of a deliberately executed strategy, that doesn’t mean its authors aren’t incompetent.

UPDATE: Welcome Ace of Spades readers! Have a look around and feel free to leave a comment. :)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Looks like I was right

January 26, 2011

A commenter took me to task for saying that it was likely that the suicide bombers who struck Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport a few days ago were Muslims bent on jihad.

I hate to say “I told you so,” but…

Moscow airport bomb: suicide bombers were part of squad trained in Pakistan

The two suicide bombers who carried out the Moscow attack were thought to be part of a suicide squad trained in Pakistan’s al-Qaeda strongholds sent to the capital to target the city’s transport system.

(…)

A newspaper close to Russia’s FSB security service published what it claimed was a warning to Moscow police issued in December that said there was credible intelligence that a suicide squad made up of three women and one man from Chechnya was headed to Moscow.

The memo said the team had spent time in Pakistan and Iran and that one of the women had a relative with a flat in Moscow that might be used as a bomb making factory. Another group of five Islamist militants trained in Pakistan was also expected to cross into Russia soon, it added.

An al-Qaeda linked website said that the group Islamic Caucasus Emirate, led by the rebe Doku Umarov, was poised to claim it had staged the attack. It said that Russia’s harsh military measures against independence activists in the Caucasus had provoked the attack. It said: “You disbelievers are the firewood of Hell. You will enter it.”

As the article relates, the dress of the attackers and methodology for the attack fits with prior operations launched by Umarov. While it’s in the realm of imagination that this was some sort of false flag operation by Russia’s FSB* or another intelligence service for Machiavellian purposes, I think it about as likely as the sun rising in the West.

No. This was an act of terrorism launched by Muslims waging jihad fi sabil Allah, and innocents died because of it.

*There have been accusations that the FSB was behind a 1999 apartment bombing that was used by then-PM Putin to justify resuming the war in Chechnya. The FSB denied this, but there’s been no solid proof either way.


Cutting through Obama’s education nonsense

January 26, 2011

I didn’t watch the State of the Union address last night. I rarely do, as the event has become little more than a partisan “Speech from the Throne” in which presidents lay out their agenda and play for applause lines. I’d much rather they save the joint sessions for occasions of genuine national importance and go back to the tradition of sending a written report to Congress and be done with it.

Anyway, President Obama apparently gave a lot of time (In a 62-minute speech. Talk about a windbag!) to education, stating the usual platitudes and recommending the customary statist patent remedies of –guess what?– more spending. Oh, what a surprise.

Leave it to Michelle Malkin to marshal the facts to blow away the fog created by Obama hucksterism on behalf of a failing public school system and the unions that feed on it. First, she recounts all the federal money that’s been flushed down that drain so far:

Our government already spends more per capita on education than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland, according to recent analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Overall inflation-adjusted K-12 spending has tripled over the past 40 years, the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy points out. Yet American test scores and graduation rates are stagnant. One in 10 high schools is a dropout factory. And our students’ performance in one of the most prestigious global math competitions has been so abysmal that the U.S. simply withdrew altogether.

Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget already represents “one of the largest increases” in federal education spending history, and hikes total discretionary spending to nearly $51 billion. Toss in another $35 billion for mandatory Pell grants. And add another $4 billion for the illusory “Race to the Top” charade to improve academic standards.

Then there’s the $10 billion for the Education Jobs Fund signed into law last August — a naked payoff to the public teachers union, which also includes $50 million for the Striving Readers comprehensive literacy development and education program; $82 million for Student Aid Administration; and $10.7 million for the Ready to Teach program.

Oh, and don’t forget the $100 billion in federal stimulus funding for school programs and initiatives administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

As he extols the virtues of “innovation” and “accountability,” the last thing Obama wants you to think about is the actual results of these profligate federal ed binges…

You’ll have to click through for the accountability portion of this Sherman’s march through educational waste, but don’t miss it. It will leave you angry at pouring so much money into the federal Department of Education for so little in return and wondering why on Earth we should spend more.

Count me among those who think the DoEd should be severely pared back or abolished and that control over education should be returned as much as possible to the state and local levels, where educators will be accountable directly to voters. And, while we’re at it, lets ramp up a voucher system and encourage charter schools to improve competition, breaking the government and union monopoly over K-12 education. I’m happy to say that, for once, California is leading the way in a good direction, toward empowering parents. And in New Orleans, a report from Reason.TV shows how a free-market voucher system is improving what was once one of the nation’s worst school systems.

If President Obama had truly been interested in improving education (his record suggests he’s not), then these suggestions would have been in the mix. But, no matter how closely you go through his 7,000 words, you won’t find them.

I guess instead of “for the children,” it’s “for the government and the unions.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) is a disgrace

January 26, 2011

In the past she’s been a shameless race-baiter and a conspiracy monger, and now she’s revealed to the nation, her district, and her caucus just how dumb she is:

Behind closed doors, California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez has proposed removing Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords from the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) until she recovers from injuries sustained after being shot in the head on Jan. 8 in Tucson, The Daily Caller has learned.

The proposal sparked an outrage, according to those in the room — including from those in Sanchez’s own party.

“It’s not appropriate,” Texas Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes told The Daily Caller, adding that there was outrage among some members in the room when Sanchez made the suggestion. “It’s bad for morale during her recovery period.”

Reyes and Rep. Adam Smith of Washington put up most of the fight against Sanchez, and helped squash the idea.

Politicians and pundits like to talk about the “optics” of a situation, how it will look to the public. You can imagine what went through the Democratic leadership’s minds when nitwit Sanchez suggested this: “Sure let’s kick to the curb the most sympathetic member of our caucus, just after she’s taken a bullet to the brain. That’ll play well on TV and talk radio!”

Then there’s the legislative side of this nonsensical idea: the Republicans hold a seven-seat majority on HASC.  Giffords’ vote wouldn’t be decisive without several Republican defections, so replacing her is meaningless. Sanchez’s staff tried to pass this off as making sure Giffords’ interests were represented, but that can be done by other members of the committee (such as Sanchez, since she cares so deeply) without putting the boot to a colleague who’s already been through so much. (And Reyes has a good point. Morale in rehab counts for a lot, and learning that the work she enjoyed so much is being taken away from her, however temporarily, wouldn’t help.)

Really, I don’t see how Sanchez benefits from this proposal, so I’ll have to put it down to congenital stupidity. She may not be the worst member of California’s 54-seat delegation (There’s stiff competition for that honor), but she’s definitely in the bottom five.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Domino falling?

January 25, 2011

Major anti-government demonstrations have broken out in Egypt against the 80-something dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

I’m no fan of Mubarak, but the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood possibly seizing power there does not fill me with joy.

Far from it.


Muslims killing Muslims

January 25, 2011

It’s worth remembering that many of the victims of jihadists have been other Muslims, who just happened to be of the wrong sect, been declared unbelievers via takfir, or simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Add 16 more to the list:

Taliban suicide bombers killed 16 Pakistanis in two suicide attacks today that targeted a Shia religious procession in Lahore and policemen in Karachi.

The larger attack took place in Lahore, when a teen-aged suicide bomber detonated his vest packed with explosives at a checkpoint before he could reach the Shia procession marching to commemorate the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

“A 13-year-old boy detonated explosives as policemen tried to check him at a cordon near the procession,” Lahore’s chief of police told Reuters. The blast killed 13 people, including women, children, and policemen, and scores more were wounded.

The Fedayeen-e-Islam, an alliance between the Pakistani Taliban, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed it carried out the attack [see LWJ report, "Terror alliance takes credit for Peshawar hotel assault" for more information on the Fedayeen-e-Islam].

“We will continue such attacks in future,” Shakirullah Shakir, a spokesman for the Fedayeen-e-Islam, told Reuters.


As unions go, population goes the other way?

January 25, 2011

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone mines data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and notes an interesting trend: in states with high union membership, the state’s population grows slowly or declines. The opposite is true in other states. Have a look at this graphic:

Barone refrains from speculating, but I think there are a couple of plausible observations one can make from this. First, the data indicates that people are reluctant to move to (or are fleeing from) states with mandatory union membership for workers, high taxes, and a regulatory environment that’s hostile to business. Not necessarily for themselves (except in the case of taxes), but because companies are moving to friendlier environments, such as the states in the lower half of the chart, and thus people are moving where the jobs are.

But what about California, which seems to buck the trend with double-digit population growth and one of the most anti-business climates in the nation? This is sheer guesswork on my part, but I think it is evidence of how powerful California has been both economically and as a magnet for people looking for a better life. Starting with the Gold Rush and then the first land boom in the 1880s, and especially after World War II, this state was “the place to be.” A great climate and beautiful scenery, a seemingly endless array of affordable new housing, an economy growing fast in almost any sector you could imagine… It’s no wonder that, by 2008, ours was the 9th-largest economy in the world.

And there you have your reason. It takes time to kill a giant, even though we have been doing our darnedest to do just that for the last 20 years, as has, in recent times, the federal government. Inertia is tough to overcome. (Newton’s first law apparently applies to states, too.) While other factors are at play besides unions and their attendant power, the grip public unions have over California’s finances is a major part of our problems. If we don’t solve them, expect to see that rate of population growth slow to single digits or even go negative in the next census.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Hizbullah takes over Lebanon

January 25, 2011

Or maybe that should read “Iran takes over Lebanon,” since the Shiite terror organization is a creation of and cats-paw for Tehran. Regardless, that possible war I wrote about a few days ago just took a big step closer to reality:

Saad Hariri, whose government was toppled after the Shiite movement Hezbollah and its allies withdrew this month, declared the appointment of a new prime minister chosen by Hezbollah a “coup d’etat” on Tuesday, as angry protesters took to the streets, burning tires and attacking the office of one of Mr. Hariri’s foes.

The escalating demonstrations deepened one of the worst crises in years in Lebanon, a small Mediterranean country where confrontations often serve as an arena for regional and international disputes. It has pitted Hezbollah and its allies, backed by Iran and Syria, against Mr. Hariri and his supporters, backed by the United States and France.

After days of political wrangling, the candidate supported by Hezbollah and its allies, Najib Miqati, a billionaire and former prime minister, won 68 seats in Lebanon’s 128-member parliament, enough to name the next government in a country as divided as it is diverse. His elevation was a clear victory for Hezbollah, which has ruled out Mr. Hariri’s return to power, and marked the culmination of what was already accepted as a fact of life here: that Hezbollah is the country’s pre-eminent military and political force.

So far, the crisis has played out according to the rules of Lebanon’s parliamentary system, and both Mr. Miqati and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, went to great lengths to offer a conciliatory message and portray Mr. Miqati as a consensus choice.

“My hand is extended to all Lebanese, Muslims and Christians, to build, not to destroy, to talk, not to quarrel,” Mr. Miqati said Tuesday after President Michel Suleiman named him as the prime minister-designate. “Let’s learn from the lessons of the past.”

Mr. Nasrallah promised that the government “is not led by Hezbollah.”

Bear in mind that Hariri’s father, then-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was murdered by a car bomb a bomb his car drove over. A sealed indictment filed by UN investigators is expected, when unveiled, to name Hizbullah as the assassins. That was the motive for this move, regardless of what they say publicly. With Hariri’s son tossed out and control of the government in Nasrallah’s hands (If you believe Miqati and Nasrallah’s protestations otherwise, I have a bridge for sale, cheap.), what slim chance existed for an accounting just died.

And, now that Hizbullah controls the Lebanese state and its resources*, any actions they take against Israel will mean the entire country is fair game when Israel strikes back. Israel was actually quite restrained in their war with Hizbullah in 2006, generally avoiding areas not controlled by the organization in order not to harm the existing government, with whom they could work. There will be no such need for restraint next time, and, given that Hizbullah is dedicated to Israel’s destruction, I guarantee there will be a next time.

*Think about it. Iranian Revolutionary Guard operatives traveling under Lebanese passports with diplomatic immunity and avoiding sanctions. What could go wrong?

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Don’t disturb the President in his cocoon

January 24, 2011

So, the man charged with running our executive departments has not had a single phone call or meeting with six of his Cabinet officers, the men and women who run those departments for him — for two years? Did Obama just give them the keys on inauguration day and say “Bye! See ya?”

Can we say, “lack of management skills?”

Now, honestly, other cabinet secretaries have complained under other presidents about a lack of face time, and I certainly don’t expect weekly one-on-ones with each one of them, but don’t you think he should at least touch base with them once in a while, just to find out how things are going? Show a little interest?

Yeesh.

via Naked Emperor News


How liberal journalists think

January 24, 2011

I never knew these things were documentaries.

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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