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Archive for June 2011

Jun/11

28

A star is born?

It will be interesting to see if Michele Bachmann’s media quasi-luster lasts. Liberals in particular seem to praise her as kooky but effective in getting her “malevolent message” out. There’s no contempt and condescension in the aversion. Yet.

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Jun/11

22

The value of democracy

Obama Opts for Faster Afghan Pullout:

President Obama plans to announce Wednesday evening that he will order the withdrawal of 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan this year, and another 20,000 troops, the remainder of the 2009 “surge,” by the end of next summer, according to administration officials and diplomats briefed on the decision.

These troop reductions are both deeper and faster than the recommendations made by Mr. Obama’s military commanders, and they reflect mounting political and economic pressures at home, as the president faces relentless budget pressures and an increasingly restive Congress and American public.

A populist take on governance isn’t always up to the complexity of the modern bureaucratic machinery. But when it comes to Afghanistan this seems like a case where its relative simplicity allows for the power of mass politics to come through. The officer corps is subject to the “sunk cost fallacy” just like everyone else. Whatever they have labeled as the end state for “victory” in Afghanistan seems to be unattainable in the short term. But rationally that’s not a major issue for generals. Our society gives a blank check to the military in terms of expenditures. And on the “big picture” scale the casualty rates are modest.

In contrast, most people outside of the military just want to forget about Afghanistan. They haven’t mixed their labor with the land, so to speak, and have no investment. More and more people are perceiving that Afghanistan is a sideshow anyhow, that the real deal is in Pakistan.

So today I hope to toast the good sense of the American public, and the craven pandering of politicians to the public sentiment!

Jun/11

22

Millet systems are stable (relatively)

Comment below:

Furthermore, Millet systems are extremely unstable, to say the least. There being a reason there’s no longer any Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian empires.

I take a different lesson. The Ottoman Empire and Austro-Hungary (if you include its de facto predecessor the Hapsburg Empire in its longevity) were extremely stable. Their institutional lives extended for ~500 years (lopping off the initial periods when both state systems were compact). The American system is only a few decades over 200, and it is has the longest continuous history as a liberal democracy in the world today.

Jun/11

18

“Liberal Orientalism”

The “farewell apology post” the “Gay Girl in Damascus” stated:

This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.

“Orientalism” is a term whose meaning I suspect most of its wielders do not “interrogate.” In any case, I think Mark Steyn hit upon something important in regards to this whole farce, Why liberals fell for ‘Muslim lesbian blogger’ hoax:

Yet Tom MacMaster topped even that. He took an actual, live, mass popular uprising and made an entirely unrepresentative and, indeed, nonexistent person its poster-”girl.” From CNN to The Guardian to Bianca Jagger to legions of Tweeters, Western liberalism fell for a ludicrous hoax. Why?

Because they wanted to. It would be nice if “Amina Arraf” existed. As niche constituencies go, we could use more hijab-wearing Muslim lesbian militants and fewer fortysomething male Western deadbeat college students. But the latter is a real and pathetically numerous demographic, and the former is a fiction – a fantasy for Western liberals, who think that in the multicultural society the nice gay couple at 27 Rainbow Avenue can live next door to the big bearded imam with four child brides at No. 29 and gambol and frolic in admiration of each other’s diversity. They will proffer cheery greetings over the picket fence, the one admiring the other’s attractive buttock-hugging leather shorts for that day’s Gay Pride parade as he prepares to take his daughter to the clitoridectomy clinic.

Liberal multiculturalism as it is presently constituted is epiphenomenal. It will end with a monoculture, a de facto hegemonic culture atop others, or a Millet system.

Here’s Joe Carter writing in the theocon journal, First Things:

Devotees of Rand may object to my outlining the association between [Rand and vintage Satanist Anton La Vey]. They will say I am proposing “guilt by association,” a form of the ad hominem fallacy. But I am not attacking Rand for the overlap of her views with LaVey’s; I am saying that, at their core, they are the same philosophy. LaVey was able to recognize what many conservatives fail to see: Rand’s doctrines are satanic.

Oh dear.

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Jun/11

13

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

Cross-posted on the Corner.

Via the Daily Telegraph:

Police have been accused of “covering up” a campaign of abuse, threats and violence aimed at “Islamicising” an area of London. Victims say that officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets have ignored or downplayed outbreaks of hate crime, and suppressed evidence implicating Muslims in them, because they fear being accused of racism. The claims come as four Tower Hamlets Muslims were jailed for at least 19 years for attacking a local white teacher who gave religious studies lessons to Muslim girls. The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered more than a dozen other cases in Tower Hamlets where both Muslims and non-Muslims have been threatened or beaten for behaviour deemed to breach fundamentalist “Islamic norms.” One victim, Mohammed Monzur Rahman, said he was left partially blind and with a dislocated shoulder after being attacked by a mob in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, for smoking during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year.

“Two guys stopped me in the street and asked me why I was smoking,” he said. “I just carried on, and before I knew another dozen guys came and jumped me. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in hospital.”

“He reported it to the police and they just said they couldn’t track anyone down and there were no witnesses,” said Ansar Ahmed Ullah, a local anti-extremism campaigner who has advised Mr Rahman. “But there is CCTV in that street and it is lined with shops and people.”

…Tower Hamlets’ gay community has become a particular target of extremists. Homophobic crimes in the borough have risen by 80 per cent since 2007/8, and by 21 per cent over the last year, a period when there was a slight drop in London as a whole. Last year, a mob of 30 young Muslims stormed a local gay pub, the George and Dragon, beating and abusing patrons. Many customers of the pub told The Sunday Telegraph that they have been attacked and harassed by local Muslim youths. In 2008 a 20-year-old student, Oli Hemsley, was left permanently paralysed after an attack by a group of young Muslims outside the pub. Only one of his assailants has been caught and jailed.

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Jun/11

11

Annals of the Arab Spring (ctd.)

Cross-posted over at the Corner:

Via the Wall Street Journal:

QENA, Egypt—Five weeks after the fall of the Egyptian regime, Ayman Anwar Mitri’s apartment was torched. When he showed up to investigate, he was bundled inside by bearded Islamists. Mr. Mitri is a member of the Christian Coptic minority that accounts for one-tenth of the country’s 83 million people. The Islamists accused him of having rented the apartment—by then unoccupied—to loose Muslim women. Inside the burnt apartment, they beat him with the charred remains of his furniture. Then, one of them produced a box cutter and performed what he considered an appropriate punishment under Islam: He amputated Mr. Mitri’s right ear. When they were beating me, they kept saying: ‘We won’t leave any Christians in this country,’” Mr. Mitri recalled in a recent interview, two months after the March attack. Blood dripped through a plastic tube from his unhealed wound to a plastic container. “Here, there is a war against the Copts,” he said.

His attackers, who were never arrested or prosecuted, follow the ultrafundamentalist Salafi strain of Islam that promotes an austere, Saudi-inspired worldview. Before President Hosni Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11, the Salafis mostly confined themselves to preaching. Since then, they’ve entered the political arena, drawing crowds and swaying government decisions. Salafi militants also have blocked roads, burned churches and killed Copts.

Read the whole thing….

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Jun/11

11

The Retreat from reason (ctd.)

The defendant in this case may or may not have lost her senses, the judge that sentenced her clearly has:

A young woman who repeatedly stabbed her mother as she slept has walked free from court after a judge accepted she believed she was acting on the instructions of evil spirits. Lorraine Mbulawa, 20, donned dark clothes, gloves and a home-made balaclava and attacked her mother with a kitchen knife in Braunstone Firth, Leicester. The 43-year-old victim saved herself by grabbing the weapon, but suffered serious face and arm injuries.

Mbulawa, who was 18 at the time, was cleared of attempted murder at her trial at Leicester Crown Court earlier this year but convicted of unlawful wounding.

Psychiatrists said she was not mad and the jury agreed that she knew what she was doing.

However, the A-level student, who was born in Zimbabwe, escaped with a 12-month suspended prison sentence and was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work. Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Keith said he accepted the defendant had strong beliefs in witchcraft and thought she was possessed by the spirit of her dead grandmother at the time of the attack in May 2009.
He told Leeds Crown Court: ‘She believed spirits can enter the body and make you do things that otherwise you would not have done.’

He praised Mbulawa as ‘unusually confident and assured, also not unintelligent with a degree of charm and poise’. Family members were in court and her mother Sisbsisiwe gave Mbulawa an emotional hug as she was released from the dock. She will now be able to move back in with her mother in Braunstone Frith, Leicester, after living apart for two years. Mr Justice Keith told Mbulawa: ‘I hope that you and your mother can come to terms with what has happened. I wish you all the best for the future.’

The court heard a psychiatrist who assessed Mbulawa said she was still a risk because she believed the spirits could possess her again and she has no control over them.

Any civilization that throws up ‘judges’ as appalling as this is in a great deal of trouble.

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Jun/11

11

The Dalai Lama, Again

Via USA Today:

Usually what we hear from the Dalai Lama is an insistant yet soothing voice for compassion and peace. So Tsering Namgyal, a journalist based in Minneapolis, was jolted by the Dalai Lama’s talk to 150 Chinese students this month at the University of Minnesota. Writing at Religion Dispatches, he says:

“Midway through the conversation, His Holiness, much to their surprise, told them ‘as far as socio-political beliefs are concerned, I consider myself a Marxist … But not a Leninist’, he clarified.”

Well, I suppose that we should be grateful for the clarification…

Jun/11

11

Blow Ye The Trumpet in Houston

A message from Texas governor, and possible GOP presidential hopeful, Rick Perry:

Fellow Americans,

Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.

Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response. Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.

I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.

Rick Perry,
Governor

The language of politics will always reflect the traditions and the culture of the constituency to which it is designed to appeal, but, blimey…

Incidentally, check out Joel 2 (King James Version), if you haven’t already done so. It’s bonkers, of course, but rather beautiful.

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