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)