On Egypt the Left are all neo-cons now
The Left are consistent only in their hatred of the society in which they live
The future of Egypt following the departure of president Hosni Mubarak remains opaque.
No one can currently predict whether it will end up as a democracy with free elections, a military dictatorship, or an Islamic theocratic tyranny.
But the Western Left has known one thing for certain from the very start of the protests: that the tyrannical dictator Mubarak had to go, that the protesters in Tahrir Square were all on the side of freedom and that the convulsions presaged a joyous new dawn of democracy and human rights.
This was despite the serious risk of an Islamist takeover in Egypt, with the consequent extinction of human rights for the Egyptians worse than anything under Mubarak's clearly repressive regime. And it was also despite the fact that opinion polls have suggested that many, if not most Egyptians harbour Islamist, anti-Western and ferociously anti-Jewish ideas.
Nevertheless, Western progressives were shouting for regime change. At which point it began to seem that, like Alice, one had somehow been transported through the looking-glass.
For during the past seven years, Western liberals have fulminated without remission that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair were criminally out to lunch to pretend that democracy could ever come to Iraq through ousting a dictator.
The neo-con article of faith, that the Arab or Islamic world, could or should embrace democracy and human rights, was held up as an example of cultural imperialism, racist bigotry or insanity, or all three.
But suddenly everyone in the bien-pensant world has apparently become a neo-con.
The US, they now fulminated, had been criminally obtuse in propping up the dictator Mubarak rather than helping turn Egypt into a democracy.
So what was the difference? Simple. Saddam Hussein was an enemy of the West; Mubarak was an ally. So progressives claimed that getting rid of the former was a crime against humanity, while not getting rid of the latter was a crime against humanity. Got that?
It would doubtless be uncharitable to add that, throughout this supposedly diabolical Mubarak presidency those same liberals saw no problem taking vacations rubber-necking round the Pyramids or steaming up the Nile. No boycott, divestment or sanctions movement there; such censure is never applied by the Left to any of the tyrannies of the Middle East, of course, only against the sole democracy in the region: Israel.
Nor do the double standards stop there. When the people of Lebanon made their pitch for democracy against the crushing oppression of Hezbollah, Western bien-pensants were totally indifferent. When the people of Iran made their pitch for democracy against the savage cruelties of the Islamic regime, the bien-pensants were totally indifferent. But when the Egyptians took to the streets, the bien-pensants all but wetted themselves with excitement.
What was the difference? If the Lebanese and Iranians had succeeded, the West would have been strengthened. But the risk still remains that the canny Muslim Brotherhood will bide their time before pouncing and coming to power in Egypt, which would of course furnish another major threat for the free world.
And this is the most frightening thing of all in this back-to-front universe: the way in which the West has sanitised the Muslim Brothers and even, in the case of the Obama administration, actually tried to push them into power.
When it wasn't flip-flopping over whether Mubarak should stay or go, the White House first said it wouldn't mind if the Muslim Brothers became part of the Egyptian government.
Then it urged the inclusion of "important non-secular actors" - code for the Muslim Brothers - in a "more democratic" Egypt. And then it was revealed that its proposal for the immediate transfer of power called for the transitional government to include the brotherhood.
What madness was this? The Muslim Brothers' goal is to Islamise the world. They are religious fascists. While certainly there are millions of Muslims around the world who do want to live under democracy, the Brothers are totally against any secular rule at all and stand for an extinction of human rights. They are fanatical Jew-haters. In the 1930s they were effectively created as a political force by the Nazi Party, with which they formulated a final solution for Palestine by ridding it of its Jews, an agenda continued today by their offshoot, Hamas.
Today, they are no less the mortal enemies of the free world. Their leaders have declared war on America, gloating that the US is "experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading towards its demise", and that "resistance is the only solution".
They support al-Qa'ida terrorism "against the Americans and the Zionists". They declared that after Mubarak they would dissolve the peace treaty with Israel.
They support Hezbollah, make overtures to Iran, and openly employ a strategy of simulating moderation to gain power though democratic means in order to destroy democracy.
If Egypt is eventually taken over by the brotherhood, Jordan will be next, and both will turn into Iran/Gaza in a matter of a few years. Oh, and the Brothers are also busy Islamising Britain and America. Yet on both sides of the pond, significant elements of the political and defence establishment have decided that the Muslim Brothers are basically peace-loving, sensible, pragmatic chaps who are useful allies against the men of violence.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that the double standards of the Left result from its deep hatred of the Western society whose basic values they wish to overturn. Whether during the French Revolution or the Stalinist purges, the Left has repeatedly sided with the extinction of human freedom and refused to accept the monstrous evidence of its own credulousness.
Among political and defence elites, moreover, the stranglehold of multicultural victim culture, the influence of revisionist "scholars" such as John Esposito or Karen Armstrong who sanitise Islam, and the deep desire to take the path of least resistance - plus the reflexive view that the real threat to the world is not the Islamic jihad but the state of Israel - means that the establishment meets the Left on the same side of the looking-glass.
Has there ever been a civilisation more bent on collective suicide than the contemporary West?
The Great Jobs Recession Goes On
The recession is officially over but unemployment remains high
There is no life in our jobs market. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but the Great Jobs Recession continues apace. Not since the government began to measure the business cycle has a deep recession been marked by such high levels of unemployment and underemployment, and followed by such anemic job growth. More jobs were lost in the recession of 2007-09 than in the previous four recessions combined—and this time it is an agonizingly slow business to replace them. Of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the downturn, roughly 900,000 were recovered in 2010, and many of these were temporary census positions. Since last June, employers have added a net of only about 284,000 jobs.
The recent headline news that the unemployment rate has fallen by 0.4 percentage point to 9 percent reflects somewhat more activity in manufacturing and retail, but less work in construction, transportation, and warehousing. The 9 percent was thus not bad news, but it was not good news either, since we need 130,000 new jobs each month just to meet the needs of new entries to the labor force and we gained only a dismal 36,000 in January. That comes on top of last year's disappointing monthly job creation rate of only 75,000 on average. Altogether, the 9 percent headline figure is an illusory portrait of the situation across the country, representing 13,863,000 men and women out of work. What happens if you add to that the 8.4 million "involuntary" part-time employed, whose hours have been cut back? Then you get a household unemployment rate slightly under 17 percent.
Turn the percentages into people again. In January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we had 2.8 million people only "marginally attached" to the labor force. A million or so of these are counted as the "discouraged," people who have given up altogether. The other 1.8 million have looked for work in the last 12 months without success but are not counted in the labor force because they haven't tried to get a job in the last four weeks for any number of personal reasons, such as family sickness, school responsibilities, weather, and travel problems. While the headline unemployment figure is down, the number of "marginally attached" increased by 300,000, and the decline in the rate from 9.4 to 9 percent is primarily because these workers have just dropped out of the market. But they haven't dropped out of life in America. They represent a colossal waste of energy and talent, as well as a loss of spending power.
It all adds up to a shocking figure: More than 25 million Americans are now either jobless or underemployed. That's nearly twice as many Americans out of work as there were in the black year of 1933—13 million then. (Only in one year before 1940 and the war did unemployment dip below 8 million.) Of course, the labor force was much smaller then, so the unemployment rate was higher. In the Great Depression, between one third and one quarter of the working population didn't have jobs.
Our real unemployment rate in 2011 is almost twice what it was before the onset of the recession in 2007, and at the current pace, it looks as if it will take until late 2016 to make up for the net job loss to date of 7.5 million. What is normal at this stage of the typical recession cycle is not only that job losses would be reversed, but that a new record high would be reached. As the economist David Rosenberg points out, after the dot-com bubble burst and with far less government stimulus in the last so-called jobless recovery, we had already recouped 62 percent of the aggregate decline in unemployment. This time around we have managed to recoup a mere 12 percent, despite the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policy in the history of America.
TSA Thugs at work again
By Mary Theroux
I am frequently stopped on the street and asked for directions. In my volunteer stints I quickly establish an easy rapport with the diverse people with whom I come in contact. I get warm returning smiles in shops and restaurants. In short: most people apparently view me as non-threatening. It has thus been surprising to learn that in the eyes of the TSA I am viewed as but a common criminal, and may be treated accordingly, with impunity and without recourse.
My adult stepson and I traveled together last week to the Midwest. As we made our way through security at the Oakland airport, I was directed towards one of the new, “enhanced” screening machines. Being aware of the health concerns these untested machines have raised—especially given my having undergone medical X-rays earlier in the week—I refused. As the TSA agents held me in waiting for the “female assist,” for the “pat-down,” I advised them that they might, in the interest of their own health and safety, want to investigate the dangers of working near the machines.
My stepson had preceded me through security through the regular screening machine, and as I was ordered to “assume the position,” took out his camera phone to record the proceedings. A TSA Officer told him to stop, and when my stepson asked on what authority, was told that it is against TSA “procedures.” I advised my stepson to not argue with the agent and he quit recording. Meanwhile, from the moment I was stopped to go through the enhanced screening machine, throughout the “pat-down,” and as we left the area, I carried on an extremely loud, running verbal protest against the proceedings as invasive and unconstitutional, attracting the attention of other passengers in the area—most of whom looked uncomfortably away.
Once “cleared,” my stepson and I went to the boarding area, then boarded our flight and settled down in our seats near the rear of the plane. Ten minutes prior to take-off, a blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor, accompanied by two men wearing brown uniforms (21st-century Brownshirts?), and a man in a plain suit came down the aisle and told my stepson he had to go with them. I explained that he had simply been trying to provide loving support as I resisted being treated as a criminal, and outlined the urgency of our trip. The plain-suited official told the TSA Supervisor that all they needed was name and flight information, so I handed him our boarding passes, bearing both. The TSA Supervisor officiously insisted we had to leave the plane with him. With take-off time growing ever closer, we accompanied the four agents to the jetway, where a large, second plain-suited man and an airport employee also waited. Both left as I launched into a protest of the proceedings.
The four men who had boarded the plane encircled us on the jetway just outside the plane. The plain-suited official reiterated that all they needed was name and flight information—which they had in hand—but the TSA Supervisor insisted he needed our drivers licenses. As he recorded our information from these on his clipboarded form, I recorded the names of the officials present from their ID badges: the blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor Darrel Robinson and plain-clothed Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Michael Simmons.
After Supervisor Robinson had returned our drivers licenses, I asked if we were free to reboard, to which he gruffly replied “In a minute.” After a few more moments, we were “released,” and reboarded the plane without further ado. As I later learned, this constitutes being under arrest, and I guess time will tell to what extent I now have a “record,” since I was advised of nothing, provided no information as to why we had been summarily ordered off of our flight, or to what use our identification information was going to be made.
Yet the entire incident made absolutely no sense: following our having cleared security, my stepson and I had spent at least 25 minutes in the waiting area of the small Oakland airport, on a day with few passengers travelling, and thus could have been easily approached well before we boarded the flight. We had already been cleared—even through their enhanced security techniques—and had thus established, by their own standards, our innocence and the safety of the other passengers. We had violated no laws: TSA’s own website says:
TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down.
My stepson was sitting, 6 feet away from where my person was being violated during the “pat-down,” and turned off his cell camera when told to by a male TSA agent not involved in the procedure—if this slowed down their process it was by their discomfort with having their actions recorded, not our interference.
Yet this uniformed contingent chose to board the plane after all of the flight’s passengers had been seated, to make an extremely public show of escorting us from the plane, enacting proceedings heretofore understood to be those reserved for suspected criminals, in front a captive audience.
What other possible purpose, then, than a very deliberate, public show of force making it clear to all witnessing the spectacle that those who will not submit quietly will be made examples of?
But such bullying is not the least unpredictable. Investing petty clerks with arbitrary and unchecked powers always leads to their visiting ever-increasing humiliations and violence on the politically impotent. As this past 10 years of escalating “homeland security” well confirms, thuggery not resisted grows ever more bold. Tunisia’s recent uprising may have been sparked by a young man who set fire to himself after being harassed by a low-level government official, as Egypt’s was by three policemen killing a young man posting evidence of their petty corruption on YouTube, but the fuel for each had been built up over decades of tyrannies small and great. The only question here is how far down the road we blessed with a heritage of security in our own persons and property will quietly submit before turning on “our” Brownshirts and saying “No. Go.”
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)