Wednesday, March 30

Democrat hypocrisy/revisionist history, part 8,487

Who said this?
We’re a great, powerful country. What’s the value of being a great, powerful country if we’re not going to step in against tyrants that are slaughtering their people?
Was it a) George Bush
b) Dick Cheney; or
c) Ultra-left Democrat rep Anthony Weiner?

Tuesday, March 29

Obama: "My policy is SO different from Bush's in Iraq!!"

In his speech Monday night Obama tried mightily to distinguish his policy re Libya from that of George W. Bush re Iraq. This resulted in some interesting...nonsense, to anyone who's been paying attention.

Example: Obama implied that we're NOT trying to "overthrow Gadhafi by force."
If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.
To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.
So Obama would have you believe that when our forces are firing missiles and dropping bombs and killing Gadhafi's troops, that's not trying to overthrow him by force??? This is a distinction only a former lawyer could recognize. Most people would call it bald-faced lie.

Here's Obie's explanation:
We have intervened to stop a massacre... We will... work with other nations to hasten the day when Gadhafi leaves power.
Did you get it? We're not trying to "overthrow" him, just trying to "hasten the day when he leaves power."
With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.
Sounds like the Bush doctrine in Iraq. And in fact we went to great lengths to ensure that Iraqis actually held elections in which every citizen had the opportunity to vote.

Let's see if Libyans get the same deal after Gadhafi is overthrown. By force.

Sunday, March 27

More on Obama and authority to commit U.S. forces w/o approval

More on Obama's stunning reversal of stated position from before the election to now, in Libya. This is a Q&A from December 2007, published in the Boston Globe:
Q: In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

Senator Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

***

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.”


Absolutely no one claims Libya was an imminent threat to the U.S. So either Obama has had a complete reversal of beliefs on this, or else was being utterly hypocritical.

Creeping Sharia, part 8,374

A couple lives in an advanced country with a centuries-long tradition of civilized behavior, law and stable government. Their young daughter is scheduled for an operation, and the father plans to reduce her anxiety by staying in the hospital room with her the night before the operation.

Oh no, say the hospital administrators. "That isn't allowed." Why not, he asks. "Because the Muslims won't allow it."

Say what??

"Certainly. Because if a Muslim mother happens to stay here overnight with her child, then if you were here too the Muslims say it would violate Islamic law. Because the two of you would be in the same room without a chaperone. Or something."

Husband is stunned. "Muslims comprise less than five percent of the population here, so by what black magic are they dictating your policies?"

Hospital administrator: "Oh my, look at the time! I must go!"

This actually happened in Austria, but this is how it happens everywhere, folks. And it's why scores of U.S. states have passed "No Sharia law can be imposed here" laws.

Interestingly, the courts and the feds are either striking these down as fast as possible, or suing states to prevent their enforcement. Wonder why....

Could it be because the federal government--as currently constituted under King Hussein--completely supports the fundamentalist-Muslim agenda?

Saturday, March 26

Who is Thomas E. Donilon?

Thomas E. Donilon is a Washington attorney. From 1993 to 1996 he was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs--that is, he was the PR guy--under the Clinton administration.

From 1999-2005 he was Executive Vice President for Law and Policy at Fannie Mae, the corrupt and mismanaged federally-chartered mortgage finance company, where he served as a lobbyist.

After that he returned to a Washington law firm, where he advised companies on political and regulatory issues.

Oh, his brother is an advisor to Vice-President Biden. And Donilon's wife is Chief of Staff for Biden's wife.

In light of Donilon's vast military and foreign-intelligence experience (yes, that's sarcasm), it was only natural that Obama would appoint Donilon to the post of Deputy National Security Advisor.

Last October Obozo promoted Donilon to the top slot.

To give you an idea of the qualifications usually sought for the position of National Security Advisor, Donilon's predecessor in that post was a retired 4-star general in the Marine Corps, had served as Commandant of the Corps, commanded the United States European Command and was Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

But hey, why would a president want his National Security Advisor to have military experience, or overseas experience? Far more important to Obama and the Democrats is choosing as National Security Advisor a guy whose brother is a close advisor to that deep thinker Joe Biden, and whose wife is Jill Biden's chief of staff.

Oh, and there's Donilon's experience at Fannie Mae. I mean, what better qualifications could there be, if you're a Democrat?

In Bob Woodward's book "Obama’s Wars," Woodward writes that when General Jones learned Obama was going to appoint Donilon to the top slot, Jones is reported to have felt Donilon’s lack of overseas experience was a major liability.

Woodward also quotes General Jones as saying to Donilon, "You frequently pop off with absolute declarations about places you’ve never been, leaders you’ve never met, or colleagues you work with."

Okay, so maybe Donilon had almost zero foreign policy or military or intel experience to recommend him for the post...but *man*, he's so well-connected! And that vast experience at Fannie Mae would really translate well into national security applications.

In fact DC insiders are now reportedly whispering that the Obama administration's laser-focused Libyan policy was crafted by Donilon, who can now be conveniently thrown under the bus if public opposition to the non-war "kinetic action" gets too high.

Ah, that Obama--he's absolutely brilliant!

Biden: "Going to war w/o congressional approval is impeachable." Oh, wait...

Watching breath-taking hypocrisy from the nation's top elected officers is painful.

This link has a video of vp Biden back in 2002 or so, and he's saying how *terribly serious* it would be for a president to go to war without getting congressional permission.

He said he considered this so TERRIBLY serious that he said he'd asked five constitutional experts to draft a resolution on the issue, and vowed that if Bush went to war in Iraq (or Iran--Biden says "Iran" four times, so he probably doesn't know one from the other) he'd introduce a resolution to impeach the president.

This video is just painful to watch, since it shows how morons can get elected--and keep getting re-elected--in this once-great nation.

And of course it also shows the utter moral bankruptcy of the Democratic party, since they all posed and postured and preened about how the would impeach Bush if he went to war without getting congressional backing; but now that a Democrat is prez (at least between vacations), not a single one is worried enough about the constitutional requirement to raise the point.

Oh, wait...you say Dennis Kucinich did? Well look again, cupcake: Kucinich backed off like he'd been scalded, saying he was simply looking into the constitutionality of ordering American forces to war in Libya, and never never never had any intention of actually, y'know, introducing a motion to impeach.

Hypocrites and liars, every damn one of them.

Sunday, March 20

The precipice approaches.

There's a huge psychological reflex in humans to rationalize unavoidable dangers. We convince ourselves that "it can't happen to me," or simply avoid thinking about them altogether.

Example: A large number of countries are coping with exploding debt. Those closest to the precipice are Greece, Ireland, Portugal and probably Spain, but the U.S. isn't far behind.

Okay, you probably don't want to read any more of this because...see the first paragraph. But try to hang in for a bit, because informed voters can make a difference, even if small. And at this point ANY help would be welcome!


Consider three numbers: 12.4, 9.8 and 7.8. Those are the interest rates that the governments of Greece, Ireland and Portugal are having to pay to borrow money (i.e. 10-year government bonds). By contrast, the U.S. is *currently* paying around 3 percent.

Problem is, as a nation's insolvency draws closer, the interest rates go up--which means you have to pay out more interest. Which of course makes the insolvency problem worse.

In the case of the U.S., *right now* we pay enough interest to China to cover the entire cost of the huge Chinese military. And as interest rates inch upward, so will our payments to them.

Got the picture?

Unfortunately there is no painless way to solve this problem. But one great idea would be to avoid making things worse. This means electing people who will cut government spending-- and cut it a LOT. Democrats won't--and will consistently lie by promising that OH YES, they're really, reeeaally serious about cutting spending.

Don't believe it. They're liars, and particularly on this topic.

But half of Republicans aren't any better. So the key is to grill candidates hard and only vote for the ones you trust.

And then pray.

And a postscript: The governments of Greece, Portugal and Spain have shown no signs that they plan to cut spending. Which means they'll default on their debt. Which will cause investors and portfolio managers to take a more critical look at their sovereign holdings. Which will cause U.S. interest rates to rise.

Which will advance the implosion date by a few months.

Again, I wouldn't publish these things if there was absolutely nothing that could be done to mitigate the misery. But there is: Elect true conservatives at all levels of government. Throw out all big spenders, and those who lie about cutting spending to get elected.

Friday, March 18

Victorville, California insolvent

The city of Victorville, California has 111,000 residents and a total bond debt of...500 million bucks???

Total annual general revenue for the city last year was something like $58 million--and one assumes virtually all of that goes to fund water, sewer, trash, cops, fire, city utility costs (you lefties DO know that cities have to pay for the electricity used by traffic lights and street lights, right?) and the hundreds of city employees that do other but allegedly vital jobs.

So how in the hell did the city leaders ever think they could handle half a BILLION dollars of bond debt?

Two possible answers come to mind: The first is that none of the city officials understand math and finance. So when some jake-leg says "Hey, I gotta friend who says we can get a bunch of free money by doing something called a 'bond issue'," everybody jumped on it without understanding the *details* of what was going to have to happen.

The second possibility is pure corruption: Here in my poor state in flyover country we had agents from bond underwriting companies bribing every politician they could, to get them to approve bond issues. Typically the bribe was actually a kickback after the issue was approved.

School bonds, sewer and water treatment bonds, turnpike bonds, airport improvement bonds, bonds to build a new city hall, new fire stations, bonds issued by universities to expand the student union, paid off by student "activity fees"-- the list is almost endless. With each issue, the underwriting company made a health fee, which of course was the reason for all the lobbying and bribery.

In any case, Victorville is a small-scale example of what the U.S. government is facing. And it was all made possible by politicians who knew a lot about elections but only a little about the specifics of cash flow and future obligations.

Pols who wanted to build the Next Big Project figured out how to do it--by making the future pay for it. Anyone who pointed out that this wasn't a good way to do business was shouted down or ignored, allowing the pols to keep piling debt on future citizens.

Repeat until insolvency.

Thursday, March 17

What do SS and California's state retirement system have in common?

If you're over 40 or so and have been reasonably hard-working and prudent, you probably have some money in stocks or similar.

And you probably have a good idea of the rate of return those investments have been getting for the last couple of years. For most stocks and funds, maybe 3 or 4 percent or so.

So if you heard that the corrupt bureaucrats running the nation's largest state retirement system were basing their contribution calculations on a rate of return of 7.75%, what would you conclude?

The 'crats in question are running California's state system, and the reason they've kept the ludicrously high rate projection is that reducing that projection would require Cali cities and the state to increase their immediate contributions to the pension fund--something no politician wants to do.

And while reading this story I was struck by the similarity to the crisis facing the Social Security fund: Decades ago, congresscritters bent on spending more money (thus ensuring their perpetual re-election) hit on the idea of counting the SS system's then-excess tax revenue (and back then the system had a LOT more revenue than payouts) as income to the federal government--thus allowing more federal spending.

The congresswhores tapped this revenue by grabbing the cash and leaving "special obligation bonds"--in effect, IOU's from congress. But as the population ages and Social Security starts paying out a LOT more each year than it takes in, it will have to start exchanging these IOU's for cash.

But with virtually all administrations mentally wedded to deficit spending already, where does congress (lower-case intentional) expect to get the money to do this?

Oh, that's right: We'll borrow it from China.

So...the common thread between the goofy unreality of CalPers' forecast return rate and SS? Politicians--none of whom are math whizzes--will always choose the option that lets them spend more of your money today, regardless of any negative consequences in the future.

And ironically, the Founders knew this would happen. They warned us, in the Constitution itself.

But when liberals started controlling education they stopped teaching the Constitution. So very few people younger than about 40 have much idea what's in it.

Hmmm.....

Sunday, March 13

A quarter of likely voters don't believe our system is better than communism?

According to a new poll by Rasmussen, 11% of likely U.S. voters think communism is morally superior to the U.S. system of politics and economics. Another thirteen percent (13%) said they weren't sure which system was morally superior.

This explains SO much!

If almost a quarter of all "likely voters" either believe communism is morally superior to our system or aren't sure if it is, it's no wonder there seem to be so many people trying to destroy this country.

Wonder how many of the "communism is morally superior" folks are working for the Obama administration?

Obama agency head: "Social Security is perfectly fine."

At some point you might have heard that Social Security was/is in deep financial trouble.

In that case it will come as a huge relief to read a letter written by Obama's director of the Office of Management and Budget and published in USA Today. Director Jack Lew wrote that the SS trust fund is solvent through 2037, so the Obama administration doesn't plan to take any actions to pull Social Security toward some imitation of solvency--such as raising the retirement age a couple of years, or revamping how benefits are increased to reflect inflation.

In other words: "Problem? What problem? We don't see any problem."

Ah.

But wait a second, Mr. Lew: Weren't you also director of OMB clear back in 1999, under Bill Clinton? And didn't your agency tell Congress way back a dozen years ago that “[The SS trust funds] do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits”?

Mr. Lew, do you know of anything that's happened between 1999 and today that would make the SS problem *less* severe now than it was then? Of course not.

So, Mr. Lew, aren't you're simply lying now--outrageously, brazenly--so that your boss can avoid having to make the tough choices that a responsible president would normally be called upon to make to repair the bankrupt SS system?

Of course Democrats can't ever admit that SS is bankrupt, because it would amount to an admission that their opponents were right all along: it's a mistake, an unsustainable Ponzi scheme that transfers debt to future generations to buy votes today.

You were warned--damn near endlessly--but you said, in effect, "You skeptics can go to hell--we're Democrats and we know what's best. And so you went ahead and did it anyway.

Well, the true problems are about to hit like a freight train. And all your sputtering and yammering and clouds of bullshit rhetoric won't add one dime to the accounts--much less make the problem disappear.

And when the speeding freight train that is reality slams into our noble but battered vehicle, it would be great if just a handful of you liberal jerks would say, "Um, hey, we're all kind of sorry that our predecessors refused to listen, refused to obey the principles laid down by the Founders, and we won't start unconstitutional programs ever again."

But you won't. In fact you'll try to blame Bush. Or global worming. Or locusts. Something. Anything but your own stupid party and its willingness to defy mathematics to get re-elected.

I'd tell you how much I hate you and your fellow Democrats for ruining the economy of what was once a really great country but you wouldn't understand me. Plus I've got a lot of things that are more important to do.

Like getting drunk.

3 children stabbed to death in Israeli settlement

At 1 a.m. Saturday morning in the small West Bank settlement of Itamar, someone broke into a house and stabbed three children to death--including a two-month-old baby--along with their parents. The killer or killers escaped and have not been identified.

Due to the extremely barbaric nature of the crime--what kind of person would cut a baby's throat?--and the settlement's West Bank location--surrounded by Palestinians--Israeli newspapers charged that the crime was committed by Palestinian terrorists. Palestinian residents were quick to condemn this charge as unproven.

But then something happened that may provide a clue: Just hours later, Palestinian residents of the city of Rafah in Gaza took to the streets to celebrate the killings. Residents passed out candy and sweets, and one said the joy “is a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on Palestinians in the West Bank.”

No comment I can make can out-do that short vignette.

And as if celebrating the murder of sleeping children isn't bad enough, pro-Palestinian commenters are coming out of the woodwork charging that the murders were actually carried out by Jewish extremists, to inflame public opinion in Israel against Palestinians.

It's hard to even grasp the depth of depravity needed to make such a claim. Click on the link and see for yourself.

In fairness, a spokesman for the Palestinian government condemned the attack.

Now, I realize most or many Pali's hate the Israelis, and it's reasonable to think that Palestinians who had had family members killed during Israeli military operations would be burning for vengeance. But what kind of mind would take the time to plan an operation to intentionally cut the throat of a child?

Saturday, March 12

Feds order city to lower qualifying scores to be a cop...because...

In every good-size U.S. city, people who want to be hired as police have to take a test, and you have to make at least some minimum score to qualify. It's a concept used in lots of fields--firemen, civil service, medical-school applicants and others.

Dayton, Ohio, used this long-established process to find the best candidates for its police force. But now the federal Department of Injustice has ordered the city to raise the minimum score required, because it said it was vitally important that cops be really smart and sharp.

Oh, wait...I mis-read that: The DoJ actually ordered the city to lower the cutoff score for being hired as a cop.

Reason: The DoJ says not enough African-Americans passed the exam.

Now, it's widely acknowledged that having a police force in which the racial mix is roughly proportional to the population mix in a city has a social benefit. Among other things, it defeats the charge that minorities can't trust the cops because for decades they were virtually all white.

But I'm skeptical about the "solution" ordered by the U.S. gubmint: Lowering the minimum qualifying standards to become a cop seems to me to be race-pandering, pure and simple.

For about 20 years back in the '70's the "Equal Opportunity Employment Commission" of the federal government tried to achieve "equal outcomes" in hiring by establishing racial quotas: If you didn't have the same percentage of employees as the local population, they'd sue your ass. Because they had a relatively infinite amount of attorneys--paid for by the taxpayer, of course--only the largest companies had the resources to win. So everyone went along.

Then the courts said racial quotas were unconstitutional. So the EEOC switched to allowing a workforce that differed from the racial makeup of the local population, provided the company or local government entity (police, fire, etc) could show that it was taking overt action to "correct the problem."

One obvious way to "correct" the disparity was by establishing a two-tier cutoff score, in which minorities could be hired or accepted for admission despite having lower qualifying scores than whites or asians. In 1978 the Supreme Court declared this unconstitutional (University of California v. Bakke).

So now it would seem that the federal government--under the direction of a black attorney-general, hired by a black president--is trying to take one more swing at the "problem," by simply lowering cutoff scores for all applicants. Presumably local cities would then have enough "qualified" minority candidates to make the composition of their local force match the local community, and cities would never have to explain why a minority candidate was hired while a white candidate who scored higher on the exam wasn't selected.

After all, both candidates had at least the minimum established score to be hired.

I can't put my finger on it, but something about this policy seems...worrisome.

Westboro "Baptist Church" out-crazies itself

Normally I don't have any interest in doing posts about crazy folks--first there are so many of them, and second: What's the point? It's not like we could fix 'em if we could just rally enough votes to pass a law....

But I'll make an exception for the thoroughly, uniquely crazy Fred Phelps and his nutty family followers. They're the ones who picket soldiers' funerals with signs cheering the death, and claiming it's "God's punishment" to America because our nation has defied God.

Yeah, I know, the "logic" doesn't quite track but...

Anyway, virtually everyone in America understands that the Phelps crew is utterly bat-shit crazy, so you wouldn't think they'd keep getting air-time for their antics. After all, doesn't the make-believe media normally hate "dog bites man" stories? You wouldn't think "Crazy group acts crazy--again" would be a hot story after the 200th time.

But the MBM keeps loving this particular dog-bites-man story, and I see only one reason: Phelps and crew call themselves a church. So the media see stories about their antics as a chance to tar all religious Americans with the same brush. Even better, their name says they're a Baptist church, so there's a double-benny of being able to heap even more guilt-by-association on fundamentalist Christians.

(Before November of 2008 there was also a second reason: the antics of Phelps' crew kept the continuing death toll in Afghanistan and Iraq in front of the public's attention at a time when anti-war sentiment had almost vanished, so the MBM could use the stories to erode support for George W. Bush and Republicans, as well as support for our nation ever again taking any military action. But of course this motive vanished when Obama was elected, since Da Won promised he'd pull U.S. troops out of both Iraq and Afghanistan if elected. And of course that's exactly what he did. [/sarc]

But I digress....)

Anyway, here's a Phelps story from yesterday (March 11, 2011) that appeared in several local papers around Pennsylvania.
Fresh off their Supreme Court victory allowing them to picket funerals of soldiers, members of the Westboro Baptist Church have announced plans to picket the funerals of seven Mennonite children killed Tuesday night when their farmhouse caught fire.

The children, ages 7 months to 11 years, were killed when a fire started while their mother was milking the family's cows and their father was on his milk delivery route. Their 3-year-old daughter managed to escape and alert the mother but the fire had already overwhelmed the wooden structure, police said.

The group from Topeka, Kan., said the death of the children was "just punishment at the hand of an Angry God" displeased with the failure of Pennsylvania residents to heed Westboro Baptist's call to "put away rebellion and obey the Lord your God."

Whoa! Picketing the funeral of children killed in a fire?

And then claiming the lethal fire is God's punishment because the nation has somehow angered God?

Folks, this isn't clever anti-Bush politics but just weapons-grade crazy. Accordingly, I predict that unlike the hundreds of other stories about the Phelpsies, this one won't make the CBS evening news (or the other networks), since it shows conclusively how nuts they are.

Since it doesn't further the anti-Christian, anti-Bush narrative, it'll be ignored outside the local area.

So let's see if I'm right. Keep an eye out for this story on the networks or in your local paper. If you don't see it, ask yourself why every MBM outlet thought it was newsworthy when the Phelps crew picketed soldiers' funerals, but the same editors and producers decided this particular version of crazy shouldn't get national coverage.

Oh, and for the record: While most of us are familiar with the biblical phrase "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord," I don't know any Christian who believes God is into vengeance--let alone killing innocent kids to make a point.

On the other hand, there is a belief system (one hesitates to use the term "religion") that not only thrives on vengeance killings but actually straps bomb vests on children to accomplish that goal. And while the American media hates most religions, they seem to love this belief system, constantly assuring us that this system is THE "religion of peace."

Why does the media never miss a chance to run stories tarring Christianity but never prints a critical word about this other belief system? In fact the MBM constantly run stories designed to block any investigation into possible terrorist activities by believers in this system here in the U.S.

Why is that?

Tuesday, March 8

Obama's Interior Secretary: "Drilling won't help us"

All oil and gas drilling in the U.S. is regulated by the Department of the Interior, under Secretary Ken Salazar. No one may touch drill to earth without getting their permission.

Yesterday after he'd testified before the House Natural Resources Committee about his department’s FY2012 budget. a reporter for one of the few conservative news organizations asked Salazar, “Given the rising cost of gasoline, why is this administration opposed to drilling in the arctic refuge?”

Salazar's response was captured on tape--and you really have to see it to understand what a mash of random bureau-babble the guy spouted in "response." It was like a random-phrase generator dialed to "energy." Here's what he said:

We don’t believe that you need to drill everywhere. And we don’t believe that the ‘drill, baby, drill’ program is the way that’s going to get us to the energy independence that we need for America or that will power our economy.

And that’s why the President has been so clear from day one--and we in the Department of Interior have been so clear--that what we need to do is need to have a robust energy program that includes a number of different sources of energy.

And while yes, we are pushing forward with oil and gas development both offshore and onshore which was the subject of much of the hearing today, we’re also moving forward with renewable energy.”

To paraphrase: 'We don't believe drilling is going to get us to the energy independence we need...or that will power our economy.'

Ah. So according to Salazar--and keep in mind that this guy controls the issuance of all drilling permits!--the key to achieving energy independence is NOT to drill for oil.

Does this make a lick of sense?

Certainly Salazar, Obama and their fellow Democrats are entitled to their opinion, but drilling would certainly enable the U.S. to produce more oil. And the more oil we produce here, the less we have to import. Plus, drilling in the U.S. provides well-paying jobs--plus huge royalties to the government if oil is produced from a federal lease. Generally a win-win deal.

But not to Obama and the Democrats. They'd rather not drill.

And I love Salazar's line about "we are pushing forward with oil and gas development both offshore and onshore." Apparently Salazar considers it "pushing forward" to refuse to act on 103 applications to drill in the Gulf, and to ban drilling from almost the entire east and west coasts, and to ban drilling in the extremely "prospective" Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

Does that seem like 'pushing forward' to you?

Remember, the Obama administration's top agency head believes that if you need more energy, DON'T drill for oil.

At least not in the U.S.


(h/t CNSNews, via Weasel Zippers)

Monday, March 7

Why does the Left love Islam so much?

Ever get the impression that the American Left was suspiciously friendly to the goals of militant Islam?

If so, it wasn't your imagination: The Left and Islam are united in their opposition to individual freedom, and the goal of forcing the submission of every citizen to the iron will of a central authority.

For Islam, this is clearly evidenced in the book Social Justice in Islam, by Sayyid Qutb, the main theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qutb writes that Islam is about the collective, and that those who resist Islam must be forced to obey its teachings. According to Qutb, “integrating” humanity under sharia is so important that it "justifies the use of force against those who deviate from it."

To Qutb the only way an individual can be truly happy is by submitting to the Islamic state, and “whoever has lost sight of this principle must be brought back to it by any means.” Thus, he says, sharia makes “unbelief” a crime equal in severity to murder. Apostasy and fomenting discord among Muslims are capital offenses.

Islam, like the Left, virulently opposes capitalism. In fact, Islam even forbids charging interest on loans. Since all wealth belongs to Allah, property “owners” are merely custodians--and thus any property may be confiscated by Allah’s agent on earth (the Islamic state) for the collective good of the Muslim nation.

Qutb sees Islamic authority as unitary and indivisible, with no distinction between the sacred and the secular. Rather, Islam is a comprehensive political, economic and social code that governs every aspect of life. There can be no compartmentalizing or narrowing. To narrow the breadth of sharia — as Qutb put it, “to check its complete dominance over every human secular activity” — would reduce it to something other than divine law. It would no longer be Islam.

You'd think the Left--a group that has long pushed the idea of "if it feels good, do it"--would be firmly opposed to any group that pushed for a prudish, all-powerful, punishment-oriented religious government, but apparently Leftists would rather join Muslims in destroying capitalism and the Western way of life.

(h/t Andrew McCarthy)

Saturday, March 5

Public housing revisited

St. Louis’s Pruitt-Igoe housing project was once regarded as the finest example of public housing. But just 16 years after its completion the project had become so crime-plagued and vandalized that the city's housing authority blew up three of the most vandalized buildings--and demolished the rest a couple of years later.

Alexander von Hoffman of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard claims the huge project was seen as a way to revive the ailing city. It was thought that by building gleaming new high-rise apartments for the poor, spreading urban decay would be halted and the city reinvigorated. It was so logical that it just had to work; government money would make magic happen.

In 1951 Architectural Forum [magazine] praised [the architect’s] original proposal as “the best high apartment” of the year. … Architectural Forum praised the layout as “vertical neighborhoods for poor people” … “Skip-stop” elevators stopped only at the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth floors, forcing residents to use stairs in an attempt to lessen congestion. The same “anchor floors” were equipped with large communal corridors, laundry rooms, communal rooms and garbage chutes.

On completion, the world's architectural journals praised it as a beautiful example of International Style housing, which many architects of the time believed was just the way to alleviate and even end poverty and to cure society's ills. Some residents, on moving in, said it looked like a dream come true.

But as with all such liberal illusions, nothing worked out as planned. The stairwells--intended to reduce elevator congestion--became places where muggers routinely lurked. Corridors, staircases and other public spaces were quickly vandalized in every possible way. As one architect put it, "I never thought people were that destructive.”

The project never reached more than 60% occupancy, as potential residents concluded that the dangers of the place outweighed any possible benefits. By the late 1960s--just 15 years after the project's completion--only one of the buildings was occupied.

After the project was demolished a few inquisitive souls tried to determine the cause of the failure. No one wanted to believe public housing itself was unworkable, since that would raise questions about the wisdom and effectiveness of a whole range of social programs. Thus the problem must have been in the kind of housing provided. It must have been a bad design.

It must have been. According to some intrepid social theorists the problem was that the project just wasn't nice enough. They considered it an insult to human dignity, and believed the vandalism and crime could be attributed mainly to having too many apartments per floor, or making the units too small, or having too many floors, or...something. As one of these theorists put it:

If you don't give people nice things, they don't care about what's around them and won't take care of it. Put poor people who know they’re poor in cheap-ass-looking public housing and don’t even give them adequate space and for the love of Philip Johnson, you don’t even have the elevator stop on each floor…well, you’ve made it pretty clear that you don’t think very highly of these folks. And they will behave accordingly and treat their building that way.

It’s also a matter of scale. [Animal studies show] that if you put too many of any mammalian species in a given area, they react poorly and engage in destructive behaviors.

So...build a project with better amenities and more square footage per unit and hopefully it would succeed. Yet the track record of public housing projects is far from encouraging. Most are disasters. The problem is that bureaucrats, politicians, social workers and planners believe the quality of housing drives behavior instead of vice-versa.

As it happens, I had a bit of experience with high-rise management as a college freshman. The brand-new building--with only a few spacious units per floor--was constantly vandalized, in ways we wouldn't have thought civilized people would actually do. It was thuggish, mindless destruction--the kind you'd expect to see in drunks or people totally lacking in manners or impulse control.

To this day I'm still appalled at the extent of the destruction inflicted in just a few months. And this wasn't even public housing, but a private building with only a handful of low-income tenants.

While there's little doubt that the quality of one's environment has an effect on behavior, it seems to me that to a great extent the ghastly features of a slum are driven by the choices made by its residents. Example: the choice to litter, or to spray-paint graffiti on walls. But this observation won't make a dent in the certainty of politicians, bureaucrats and social "scientists" that building public housing projects with larger apartments and more amenities will change human nature for the better.

After all, after virtually every household in the U.S. got a color TV and air conditioning, the nation saw a big drop in inner-city crime and a big boost in highschool graduation rates, right?

What's that? You say that didn't happen? Hmmm....

Maybe if the government gave all urban poor a 50-inch flat-screen and high-speed internet...

(h/t Wretchard at Belmont Club)

Update, from a commenter at the BC link above:

A criminologist was studying changing crime patterns in Memphis. By chance he was married to a housing expert who had been evaluating the impact of one of the government’s most ambitious initiatives--the demolition of the city’s public-housing projects as part of a nationwide experiment to free the poor from the destructive effects of concentrated poverty.

Memphis had demolished the first of its "projects" in 1997, giving former residents federal rent-subsidy vouchers ("Section 8") to enable them to move to individual houses and apartments. According to liberal theory, the reason public-housing projects turned into hell-holes was simply that the poor--often drunk, druggie and unemployed--were too concentrated in one place. Disperse them over the wider city and "the problem"--that is, the problem of visibly ghastly liberal failures--would be resolved.

Two more waves of demolition followed over the next nine years, dispersing tens of thousands of poor people across the city.

The criminalogist noticed his computerized map of crime patterns strongly resembled his wife’s map of Section 8 renters. In fact, when they merged the data sets the match was nearly perfect.

Looking at the merged map, the housing expert recalls how uncomfortable she was to see how perfectly the two data sets matched. She recalls thinking that this would be hard to write about, because no one in the antipoverty community or city leadership would want to hear that the great experiment they’d been conducting on the city for the past decade had simply spread crime from the projects to the wider community.

Another commenter noted that Singapore has public housing far more dense, with smaller units, than American projects, yet they have virtually no crime, graffiti, drugs or other behavior problems. Reason? The government doesn't tolerate it. Singapore is infamous for its hard line on anti-social behavior.

While Singapore may not be an ideal model, it does seem that continuing to reward bad behavior by anyone simply encourages people to be destructive and irresponsible.

Still another commenter noted:

Public-housing projects are the physical result of all Leftist dreaming. All the damage done by Leftist policies pools up in such places. As the projects started to take off in the 60s, so did all of the following.

* Explosion of crime rates due to Liberal crackdowns on policing and punishment.

* Elimination of the death penalty (of course later reversed)

* Liberal romanticizing of criminals (remember all the articles praising graffiti vandals as “urban artists”?)

* Feminist denigration of men and the male role in the family

* Attacks on the nuclear family by Leftists--particularly Leftist females--as "bourgeois" and "repressive"

* Denigration of the value of work by the Left

* The welfare state and its wide variety of rewards

* Romanticizing and legitimizing “black rage” and a general culture of resentment, as opposed to teaching the benefits of personal responsibility, education and work.

Seems like the guy's got a point.


Islamic mob kills Christians, destroys church in Egypt

More anti-Christian murders and destruction by Muslims, this time in Egypt. Following is from the Assyrian International News Agency (reliability unknown), dated March 5th, 2011:

(AINA) A mob of nearly 4,000 Muslims has attacked Coptic homes this evening in the village of Soul, 30 kilometers from Cairo, and torched the Church of St. Mina and St. George. There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Church pastor Father Yosha and three deacons who were at church; some say they died in the fire and some say they are being held captive by the Muslims inside the church.

Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. The army, which has been stationed for the last two days in the village of Bromil, 7 kilometers from Soul, initially refused to go into Soul, according to the officer in charge. When the army finally sent three tanks to the village, Muslim elders sent them away, saying that everything was “in order now.”

A curfew has been imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village.

The Muslim mob attacked the church, exploding 5-6 gas cylinders inside the church, pulled down the cross and the domes and burnt everything inside.
Obviously the Muslims responsible for this atrocity aren't our neighbors here in the U.S., but have you heard any U.S. Muslims condemning these anti-Christian acts? I haven't. And it's not surprising because Muslims can't support religious freedom without running afoul of the commands of both the Koran and Sharia law that everyone must either convert to Islam, or submit and pay the tax--or be killed.

Hey, U.S. politicians: Tell us one more time how Islam is a "religion of peace."

What an utter crock.

Friday, March 4

Gas prices rising daily--why aren't we drilling here?

Are rising gasoline prices starting to hurt your family? Then you might want to know that the Obama administration is still sitting on 103 applications for drilling permits in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.

The likely total amount of daily production from these wells--which of course haven't been drilled due to Obama's refusal to issue drilling permits--would almost certainly have been more than 200,000 barrels per day. That's oil we wouldn't have to import from overseas.

"Wait," you say, "I thought a federal judge ordered the administration to lift the drilling ban in the Gulf. How can this still be an issue?"

Because the Obama administration defied the court order. The judge then issued a stronger order to the same effect: Either approve the applications to drill, or else show valid cause why they shouldn't be approved. But so far the administration is ignoring the order.

This administration is compiling a pretty grim track record of simply ignoring court orders and laws it doesn't want to obey. Nice example of "a nation of laws, not of men", eh?

If you voted for Obama, hope you're happy with what you got.