Friday, February 4, 2011

Racism, Hate, and Violent Rhetoric

Progressives rallied recently in Palm Springs California to protest the billionaire Koch brothers who are strong supporters of libertarian causes. It was their support of the tea party in particular which presumably roused the ire of the gentle progressives gathered in Palm Springs. When next one hears from progressives, as we do from Van Jones in the prelude to this video, about right-wing hate it might be good to remember how at least some ordinary liberals talk when they think they're among friends:
I don't know how Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas managed to get dragged into this, but no matter. It's amusing to hear lefties accuse tea party members, without a single shred of evidence, of being racist when there's ample evidence that there's plenty of racism circulating among your average progressive.

I wonder what the reaction would be if at a tea party rally there were calls to "string up" say, Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor. Given that we all know, of course, what that reaction would be why has this video not been shown on our cable news nets or dissected by the writers of the New York Times?

Never mind. It's a silly question.

Meanwhile, Robin of Berkeley explores the strange way of thinking that pervades the left on matters ranging from victimhood to infanticide to vitriolic rhetoric. Give her article a look and ask yourself as you read whether you don't agree that some of these people just seem to suffer from an empty soul.


Lest anyone doubt the cruelty of the people who would rule Afghanistan (and some of those jockeying for power in Egypt) if we are unable to accomplish our task there this report should quell their doubts. In a story that could have come right out of Kaled Hosseini's Thousand Splendid Suns we're told that:
Horrific video footage (the video is at the link but the violence is edited out) has emerged of Taliban insurgents stoning a couple to death for alleged adultery in northern Afghanistan.

Hundreds of villagers can be seen on the video standing around as the woman, Siddqa, is buried up to her waist in a four foot hole in the ground.

Two mullahs pass sentence before the crowd begins to throw rocks at her head and body as she desperately tries to crawl free.

But the 19-year-old collapses to the ground, covered in blood - but miraculously still alive.

At this point a Taliban fighter shoots her three times in the head with an AK-47. The crowd can be heard shouting allahu akbar as she is killed.

Her lover, Khayyam, is then marched in front of the crowd with his hands tied behind his back. He is blindfolded with his own tunic and crouches down close to the ground as he tried to protect his body from the stones.

But he is battered to the floor by a barrage of rocks. He can be heard sobbing before eventually falling silent.

The stoning - the first to be documented on film since the Taliban were ousted from power - took place in the district of Dashte Archi, in Kunduz, last August.

Officials said that Siddqa had run away after being sold into an arranged marriage for $9,000 against her will.

She ran away to be with Khayyam, who was already married and had two children, and the pair eloped to Pakistan.

But it is understood that they returned to their home village after being reassured by leaders that they would be unharmed.

It was a terrible mistake. They were dragged from their families' homes at 2 am by Taliban fighters and then put before a kangaroo court before being executed.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid defended the stoning.

He told the BBC: "Anyone who knows about Islam knows that stoning is in the Koran, and that it is Islamic law. There are people who call it inhuman - but in doing so they insult the Prophet. They want to bring foreign thinking to this country."
Heaven forbid that anyone should bring foreign thinking to Afghanistan. If they did the place might progress all the way to the 10th century.

Anyway, as you contemplate this horrifying execution of a 19 year-old girl think of Jesus' words to those who were about to stone a woman under very similar circumstances: "The one among you who is without sin should throw the first stone".

Adultery is a very serious matter, to be sure, but the Taliban spokesman is right. To execute people for it, and in such a cruel and savage manner, is indeed inhuman.

Elsewhere, Iran has hanged a Dutch-Iranian woman arrested for participating in the protests that followed in the wake of their phony election in the summer of 2009. If the demonstrations in Egypt inspire anyone else in the Mid-East let's hope they inspire the Iranians to try once again to rid themselves of a regime that's at least as bad as, and probably much worse than, that of Hosni Mubarak.

Looming Disaster

Brian Riedl at NRO explains why Congress needs to rein in spending and do it quickly. Relying on recent Congressional Budget Office projections, Riedl writes:
This more realistic “current-policy” budget baseline reveals a ten-year deficit of $13 trillion. The annual budget deficit never falls below $1 trillion, and reaches $1.9 trillion by 2021. At that point, the $25 trillion debt would exceed the size of the entire economy – and even that assumes a return to peace and prosperity.

These deficits are driven by spending. Even if all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are made permanent, tax revenues (historically 18.0 percent of GDP) would climb to 18.4 percent by 2021. Yet federal spending (historically 20.3 percent of GDP) is projected to soar to 26.4 percent by 2021. By that point, 100 percent of rising long-term deficits will result from above-average spending. There is no long-term revenue decline.
He also adds these very sobering notes:
* Between 2008 and 2021, the annual cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is set to rise from $1.2 trillion to $2.2 trillion (adjusted for inflation);

* Letting the tax cuts expire for those earning more than $250,000 would close just 5 percent of the budget deficit over the next decade. The $736 billion price tag is a fraction of the $21 trillion cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the decade;

* Between 2009 and 2021, the national debt would increase by $150,000 per household. By 2021, net interest alone would cost $1 trillion – nearly one-half of all tax income revenues; and

* Over what would be President Obama’s eight years in office, baseline budget deficits are projected to total $9.9 trillion— triple the $3.3 trillion in deficits accumulated by President Bush.
These spending and deficit figures are unsustainable. In order to avert an economic crisis, Congress must substantially rein in non-defense discretionary spending, enact multi-year caps, and then begin fundamental Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reform. Small budget tweaks and freezes are no longer sufficient. If this means also trimming the Pentagon then so be it. Having a first rate military will do us no good if we can't afford ever to use it when we need it.

If Congress fails to do this, and if President Obama fails to go along with significant spending cuts, they will be responsible for deliberately driving the entire nation over an economic cliff. There can be no question that entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare need to be reformed or eliminated. The only question should be about the best way to do this. Anyone in Congress or among the commentariat who seeks to obstruct reform and calls for maintaining the status quo should be considered to have forfeited any claim to be taken seriously.

UPDATE: Already Senate Democrats have announced that they are not interested in reforming Social Security in any meaningful way. Over the next decade Social Security will run up a deficit of a half a trillion dollars, and the President in his State of the Union scarcely mentioned it. Are these people simply in denial or do they actually want to turn us into an economic basketcase?