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)


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