Monday, July 08, 2013

The new King

"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance." -- Declaration of independence

By  Mark Steyn

Yesterday, writing about the team of seven fearless super-butch undercover agents from Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control who jumped a 20-year-old coed and demanded to inspect her bottled water, I observed that every tinpot makework paper-shuffling bureaucracy now runs around pretending to be Seal Team Six. Well, over at the US Department of Agriculture, they have a Bunny Team Six.

In 2011, I mentioned that USDA was dispatching crack field agents to poke around the back yards of children’s magicians on the off-chance they might be using rabbits on stage. Two years on, Bunny Team Six has come up with a new hare-brained scheme to take the magic out of our lives. Sure, it’s impressive when a conjurer pulls a rabbit out of his hat, but let’s face it, it’s not as impressive as a federal bureaucrat pulling a new regulation out of his butt:

    "My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist. I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly.  I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law."

The magician, Marty Hahne, has been given until July 29th to submit his cottontail disaster-relief plan in the event that a tornado strikes his top hat, and to provide proof that he and his wife are trained to implement the plan. How much further down the rabbit hole can America go?



In Order to Form a More Perfect Regulated Community...

By  Mark Steyn

Last weekend, I wrote about the US Department of Agriculture’s Bunny Team Six. USDA has sent hither swarms of Officers (as some guy once said) to check that children’s magicians have fully compliant emergency plans (in writing) in the event that their bunny is caught in a natural or man-made disaster. The Heritage Foundation has more on what the new regulation requires. In preparing the emergency plan for the rabbit, the magician and any other person in the chain of command, such as an assistant in spangled tights, must:

* Identify common emergencies most likely to occur,

* Outline specific tasks required to be carried out in response to each of the identified emergencies,

* Identify a chain of command and who (by name or by position title) will be responsible for fulfilling these tasks, and

* Address how response and recovery will be handled in terms of materials, resources, and training needs.

Marty the Magician’s first home inspection by USDA’s Bunny Team Six did not go well:

    "When questioning the enforcement action, Marty was warned that verbal abuse of an inspector carries a fine of $1,000 per incident."

It’s right there in the Constitution, folks: "The right of the Bunny Inspector not to be disrespected shall not be infringed."

If you’re thinking that, for a republic of limited government, this country has rules against everything, well, the United States Government wields this power under something called the Animal Welfare Act Contingency Plan Final Rule, which came into effect in January this year. Here’s the bunny quote – er, money quote:

"The goal of this rule is to increase the regulated community’s awareness and understanding about their responsibilities to protect their animals in emergency situations."

“The regulated community” is what we used to call “the citizenry”. It doesn’t have quite the same ring as “We the people”, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

Happy Post-Independence Weekend!



Model of Maverick Consistency

My column this weekend is about Egypt and the failure of Western progressives to distinguish between legitimate democracy and what they call “democratic legitimacy.” Speaking of which, Senator McCain is back in the news.

Before the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Egypt, The Maverick told Der Spiegel that the Brothers must be excluded from participating in the post-Mubarak Egyptian government. But what about the will of the people? McCain was unmoved because, he reckoned, the Brotherhood was an “anti-democratic” organization. As I recount in Spring Fever:

    Senator John McCain of Arizona … insisted, during aninterview by the German newspaper Der Spiegel, that the Muslim Brotherhood was “a radical group that, first of all, supports Sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic – at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government.” Around the same time, McCain’s oft-time side-kick, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, chimed inthat he was suspicious of the Brothers’ “agenda” and that “their motives are very much in question.”

Of course, the Brothers’ motives were never in question. They are Islamic supremacists whose agenda, first, last and always, has been the implementation of Islam’s totalitarian sharia system — which is actually even worse and more anti-democratic than McCain suggested. Moreover, McCain and Graham made their dour observations before the Brotherhood took power. Once the Brothers were in control of the government, they did exactly what McCain said he feared they would do: work to install sharia law, make life miserable for women (among others), and promote terrorism (backing Hamas, calling for the Blind Sheikh’s release, etc.). McCain was right (so rare to type those words): the Brothers should have been excluded from participating in the Egyptian government because they are anti-democratic and thus ill-suited for democracy.

So now that the military has finally done what McCain said should have been done in the first place, what does McCain want to the U.S. to do? Why, cut off American aid to the Egyptian military, of course. After all, “the military has overturned the vote of the people.”

Man, Republicans sure are shrewd to keep taking their cues from this guy.


And how did NPR lead off its broadcast on the matter? "The overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has provoked strong reactions around the Middle East. It reinforced concern about the Egyptian military's influence on the country's political and economic life."

No rejoicing there.  The love affair between the Left and Islamic fanatics continues.  They are both deeply tyrannical and destructive -- imps of Satan, even.


The latest U.S. Unemployment figures

The real bad news is that job growth is being driven by policies coming from Washington, mostly Obamacare.  And of course, like anything else D.C.-related, the Democrat policies have it exactly backwards.

While it’s true that job growth was robust, it came from the growth of PART-TIME jobs, which are the only kind available. On a net basis, the economy lost 326,000 fulltime jobs.

Obamacare changes the definition of full time employment to 30 hour a week from 32 hours and requires companies over a certain size to purchase health benefits for all fulltime employees. As a result, companies are doing what we all knew they would: They are cutting fulltime employment and replacing it with part-time help.

There was some hope this phenomena, which Shedlock calls the Obamacare Effect, was mostly over in the employment arena.

More alarming still, U6 Alternative Unemployment went up a half percentage point from 13.8 to 14.3 percent. U6 unemployment counts the employed and those marginally attached to the workforce, people who don't get counted in the headline number that makes the nightly news. It's probably a more accurate way of measuring employment because of the uniquely poor economic policies coming from Washington.

U6 unemployment has remained stubbornly high, barely moving off of the 17.1 percent rate posted in late 2010 and early 2011.

Yikes! In other words U6 Unemployment is not “steady.” 13.8 percent to 14.3 percent in one month is a dramatic increase.

“Last month there was no jump in part-time employment which had me wondering if the the bulk of the Obamacare effect (employers reducing hours from 32 to 25 and hiring hundreds of thousands of new employees to make up the hours) had mostly played out,” writes Shedlock. “This month, the trend of huge part-time employment resumed, and in a major way.”

But even without the Obamacare Effect, job growth has been pretty bad.  “Summarizing the ‘economy’ of Bernanke and Obama,” writes Zero Hedge, “in 2013 239,000 minimum wage restaurant and bar jobs have been created. As for manufacturing jobs: 13,000.”

Shedlock observes that year over year the number of jobs created is 1,610,000 while those who have dropped out of the labor force is 1,711,000.



It's a contest between two lots of bad guys in Egypt

Caroline Glick

US reporters and commentators today portray this week's protests as the restoration of the Egyptian revolution. That revolution, they remain convinced, was poised to replace long-time Egyptian leader and US-ally Hosni Mubarak with a liberal democratic government led by people who used Facebook and Twitter.

Subsequently, we were told, that revolution was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. But now that Morsi and his government have been overthrown, the Facebook revolution is back on track.

And again, they are wrong.

As was the case in 2011, the voices of liberal democracy in Egypt are so few and far between that they have no chance whatsoever of gaining power, today or for the foreseeable future. At this point it is hard to know what the balance of power is between the Islamists who won 74 percent of the vote in the 2011 parliamentary elections and their opponents. But it is clear that their opponents are not liberal democrats. They are a mix of neo-Nasserist fascists, communists and other not particularly palatable groups.

None of them share Western conceptions of freedom and limited government. None of them are particularly pro-American. None of them like Jews. And none of them support maintaining Egypt's cold peace with Israel.

Whether the fascists will take charge or not is impossible to know. So, too, the role of the Egyptian military in the future of Egypt is unknowable. The same military that overthrew Morsi on Wednesday stood by as he earlier sought to strip its powers, sacked its leaders and took steps to transform it into a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Given the utter irrelevance of liberal democratic forces in Egypt today, it is clear enough that whoever is able to rise to power in the coming years will be anti-American, anti- Israel and anti-democratic, (in the liberal democratic sense of the word). They might be nicer to the Copts than the Muslim Brotherhood has been. But they won't be more pro-Western.

Wednesday's overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government is a total repudiation of the US strategy of viewing the unrest in Egypt - and throughout the Arab world - as a struggle between the good guys and the bad guys.

That hated, reviled Israeli strategy, (which was not Netanyahu's alone, but shared by Israelis from across the political spectrum in a rare demonstration of unanimity), was proven correct by events of the past week and indeed by events of the past two-and-a-half years.

Israelis watched in shock and horror as their American friends followed the Pied Piper of the phony Arab Spring over the policy cliff. Mubarak was a dictator. But his opponents were no Alexander Dubceks. There was no reason to throw away 30 years of stability before figuring out a way to ride the tiger that would follow it.   Certainly there was no reason to actively support Mubarak's overthrow.

Shortly after Mubarak was overthrown, the Obama administration began actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was silent over the past year as the demonstrators assembled to oppose Morsi's power grabs. He was unmoved as churches were torched and Christians were massacred. He was silent as Morsi courted Iran.

This week's events showed how the US's strategy in Egypt has harmed America.

In 2011, the military acted to force Mubarak from power only after Obama called for it to do so. This week, the military overthrew Morsi and began rounding up his supporters in defiance of the White House.

Secretary of State John Kerry was the personification of the incredible shrinkage of America this week as he maintained his obsessive focus on getting Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

In a Middle East engulfed by civil war, revolution and chronic instability, Israel is the only country at peace. The image of Kerry extolling his success in "narrowing the gaps" between Israel and the Palestinians before he boarded his airplane at Ben-Gurion Airport, as millions assembled to bring down the government of Egypt, is the image of a small, irrelevant America.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A factor to be considered in any attempt to evaluate (or explain) Egyptian politics is the abysmal literacy rate in Egypt. It rivals Detroit.