Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Bad Is It?

How dire is the economic situation in states and municipalities right now? Imagine Damocles' sword sweeping back and forth an eighth of an inch above our throats. But don't take my word for it, instead watch this 60 Minutes segment:
I hope this didn't ruin your Christmas holiday, but really, the next time you hear conservatives called hard-hearted for wanting to restrain spending and cut budgets, ask yourself whether it was restrained spending that brought us to this point or whether it was governmental profligacy. What good does it do to give huge entitlements to the poor and elderly and staggering pensions to public employees if all it does is bankrupt the state? And which states are in the worst shape? Is it just a coincidence that it's states like New York, California, Illinois, and New Jersey which until recently, or even still, are controlled by Democrats?

On the national level the Democrats' appetite for spending is nowhere close to being satisfied. Had the Republicans not been able to stop the bloated Omnibus spending bill that Harry Reid tried to ram through the Senate last week our national debt would be even more crushing than it already is. They're looting our children's patrimony, and, like Governor Christie suggests in the video, the bills are soon going to come crashing down upon all of us.

To quote the good Reverend Wright, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Thanks to Hot Air for the video.

Low Level Genocide

The LA Times' Timothy Rutten describes the ongoing extirpation of Christians in the Muslim Middle East and laments that the U.S. seems loath to do anything about it. Here are some excerpts from Rutten's piece:
When America intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christians — mostly Chaldeans and Assyrians — numbered about 1.4 million, or about 3% of the population. Over the last seven years, more than half have fled the country and, as the New York Times reported this week, a wave of targeted killings — including the Oct. 31 slaying of 51 worshipers and two priests during Mass at one of Baghdad's largest churches — has sent many more Christians fleeing.

Despite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's promises to increase security, many believe the Christians are being targeted not only by Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has instructed its fighters "to kill Christians wherever they can reach them," but also by complicit elements within the government's security services.

The United States, meanwhile, does nothing — as it did nothing four years ago, when Father Boulos Iskander was kidnapped, beheaded and dismembered; or three years ago, when Father Ragheed Ganni was shot dead at the altar of this church; or two years ago, when Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and murdered; as it has done nothing about all the church bombings and assassinations of lay Christians that have become commonplace over the last seven years.

The human tragedy of all this is compounded by the historic one. The churches of the Middle East preserve the traditions of the Apostolic era in ways no other Christian rites or denominations do. The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch Syria, and it was there that the Gospels first were written down in Koine Greek.

For 1,000 years, the churches of Iraq and Syria were great centers of Christian thought and art. Today, the Christian population is declining in every majority Muslim country in the region and is under increasingly severe pressure even in Lebanon, where it still constitutes 35% of the population.

Putting aside America's particular culpability in Iraq, the West as a community of nations has long turned a blind eye to the intolerance of the Middle East's Muslim states — an intolerance that has intensified with the spread of Salafism, Islam's brand of militant fundamentalism. Our ally Saudi Arabia is the great financial and ideological backer of this hatred. In fact, when it comes to religion, the kingdom and North Korea are the most criminally intolerant countries in the world.

Oil and geopolitics prevent the United States and Western European countries from speaking out against what amounts to genocide, though something more sinister than self-interest also is at work. The soft bigotry of minimal expectation is in play, an unspoken presumption that Muslim societies simply can't be held to the same standards of humane, rational and decent conduct that govern the affairs of other nations.
He has more at the link. It's ironic that whereas Christianity and Judaism are growing more tolerant of other faiths in the modern world, Islam, at least as it's practiced in much of the Middle East, is becoming less so. Throughout much of the twentieth century most Christian martyrs were victims of atheistic communism. It's sad that today Christians are being murdered by fellow monotheists. What is it about Christianity that both communists and Muslim extremists fear?