Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: February 2011


Big tent, little tent, both parties contend with tough changes

I‘m headed to CPAC this week. Just thought it would be a good idea – there’s going to be quite a libertarian contingent there. Doug Mataconis from Outside the Beltway, Jason Pye from United Liberty (and an occasional contributor to QandO), as well as members of CATO.

There’s a reason I think it is important to go and that’s to see what is in store on the conservative side of things for the promise of smaller government and less spending. I’d like to join other libertarians in influencing that move toward both smaller (and less intrusive) government and much less spending.

But I’m certainly not going to line up very well with the social conservatives. Such is life – my bet is we can find common ground on the fiscal and governmental side of things. And, if you’re familiar with the neo-libertarian strategy, it is to try to work within the existing system to influence and change those things we can by pushing for change that enhances basic liberty. Call it a bit of putting my money where my mouth is.

That’s also what I characterize as "the pragmatic approach". The system we have is what we have – I can stand outside and throw rocks at it, or I can work inside and try to change it. And no, working inside certainly doesn’t mean I "accept" the system as the end product or am "validating" it by working within it. I’m simply pointing out that the most effective way, in my opinion, of changing things is to work with those of a like mind and create a synergy that finally makes that change. I see CPAC as a valuable forum for such action. Lots of those who are actually involved at a national level in doing such things will be there (Rep. Paul Ryan, for instance, and Sen. Rand Paul).

It’s also an opportunity to network with a lot of bloggers I’ve known peripherally- mostly through email – for years (and some I’ve met and know personally as well).

All that to say there’s a bit of a debate going on about CPAC and who should or shouldn’t be attending. I’ll let you fill yourself in here. And here.

All that said I don’t feel "unwelcome". This is a struggle that goes on in every party. Don’t believe me? Check out the Democrats – especially in the South. They’re going through some major problems as many Democrats at a state level are switching parties in the wake of the November drubbing. The complaint? The Democratic party (national) has become too liberal and doesn’t reflect the values of the more conservative among them. Zell Miller, who made it clear he felt that way, was apparently only in the vanguard of the movement away from liberal Democrats. And those Blue Dogs left in Congress, now that they’re not needed by the majority, have all but been cut off from the Congressional Democratic leadership. They’re simply too conservative for the Pelosi crowd.

Anyway, this week should be interesting. CPAC is undergoing a bit of a controversy concerning the group GOProud being allowed at the table (it’s a gay Conservative group – well according to fiscal cons, social cons don’t buy that because of GOProud’s stance on gay marriage) and a new controversy which claims that the board of ACU, which puts on CPAC, has been infiltrated by Muslims.

And then there are the usual controversies.

*Sigh*

Like I say, should be interesting. As the old saying goes, may the dragon you find be well fed.

~McQ


Krugman–food shortage caused by weather caused by global warming, of course

Paul Krugman has suddenly discovered the food shortage in the world.   And, he’s come to the conclusion that it has mostly been caused by all the bad weather we’ve been having.  Of course that bad weather only be caused by man-made global warming (although there are other scientists claiming otherwise).

While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we’d expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate — which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.

Well he’s right about one thing – “these severe weather events” are certainly blamed on man-made global warming, although a body of evidence is developing saying that’s simply not true.  But being able to now tie it all to food shortages is a new venue for using scare tactics in an effort to enable government to control and tax something that is absolutely natural.

Krugman knows he’s on shaky ground as can be seen here – but he forges ahead anyway:

It’s true that growth in emerging nations like China leads to rising meat consumption, and hence rising demand for animal feed. It’s also true that agricultural raw materials, especially cotton, compete for land and other resources with food crops — as does the subsidized production of ethanol, which consumes a lot of corn. So both economic growth and bad energy policy have played some role in the food price surge.

Still, food prices lagged behind the prices of other commodities until last summer. Then the weather struck.

Consider the case of wheat, whose price has almost doubled since the summer. The immediate cause of the wheat price spike is obvious: world production is down sharply. The bulk of that production decline, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, reflects a sharp plunge in the former Soviet Union. And we know what that’s about: a record heat wave and drought, which pushed Moscow temperatures above 100 degrees for the first time ever.

Yes, it is true that emerging nations are demanding more meat and that means more crops go to feed.  Then there’s the ethanol scam using 40% of the corn crop.  I guess, in an oblique way, you can blame ethanol on “global warming” too.  

Naturally an unusual heat wave is a result of man-made global warming (AGW).   So, apparently are monster blizzards (just ask Al Gore).    But don’t believe him, let Paul Krugman, global warming expert fill you in:

To some extent we’re seeing the results of a natural phenomenon, La Niña — a periodic event in which water in the equatorial Pacific becomes cooler than normal. And La Niña events have historically been associated with global food crises, including the crisis of 2007-8.

But that’s not the whole story. Don’t let the snow fool you: globally, 2010 was tied with 2005 for warmest year on record, even though we were at a solar minimum and La Niña was a cooling factor in the second half of the year. Temperature records were set not just in Russia but in no fewer than 19 countries, covering a fifth of the world’s land area. And both droughts and floods are natural consequences of a warming world: droughts because it’s hotter, floods because warm oceans release more water vapor.

Yeah, uh, they’re also “natural consequences” of a cooling world, or a world in which the magnetic poles are going to flip, or a world that is experiencing the effects of sun spots, or as mentioned, regional weather patterns.

As always, you can’t attribute any one weather event to greenhouse gases. But the pattern we’re seeing, with extreme highs and extreme weather in general becoming much more common, is just what you’d expect from climate change.

Really – you can’t?  But that’s precisely what happens daily, Mr. Krugman.  Here’s your crowd on the Moscow heat wave:

According to environmentalists, the heat wave in Russia has been caused by man-made global warming.

Al Gore – after telling us the warmer weather meant less snow in our future is now explaining this winter of humongous snow falls, some of which fell in 49 of the 50 states, as a result of … global warming.

Most folks realize that when you explain something one way, you can’t have it the other way, no matter how convenient it might be to your argument.  And yes, that’s an “inconvenient truth”.  That also brings us to Krugman’s attempt to wave off critics:

The usual suspects will, of course, go wild over suggestions that global warming has something to do with the food crisis; those who insist that Ben Bernanke has blood on his hands tend to be more or less the same people who insist that the scientific consensus on climate reflects a vast leftist conspiracy.

See, when you use “scientific consensus” you loose all credibility, Mr. Krugman  – science isn’t about “consensus”, it’s about skepticism. 

And all of this has little to do with believing in a “vast leftist conspiracy” – that’s your strawman.  It has to do with bad science and the hacks who push it.

That would include you, sir.

~McQ


Unemployment Calculations (Updated)

I‘ve gotten some questions about how I do the unemployment calculation every month, and the wide variance between my rate and the official rate. It’s quite simple, although there are some caveats to the data, which I’ll cover in a methodology discussion below.

First of all, the data is all available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here. This is the retrieval page for the historical “A” tables of the employment report.  You only need to retrieve historical data, in the following series: Civilian noninstitutional population, Participation rate, and Employed.

You have a choice, by the way, of choosing seasonally adjusted data or not. Seasonal adjustments smooth the numbers a bit from month to month, but not enough to be a major concern. There are pros and cons to the seasonal adjustments, but I’m happy either way. I use non-seasonally adjusted, so there’s more month-to-month variation, but it smooths out over longer time horizons anyway.

The BLS actually creates the employment/unemployment series from two different statistical surveys. One is the Household Survey, which asks households who is employed, who’s looking for work, and who has dropped out of the labor force. This is the series used to calculate the unemployment rate. The second series is the Establishment survey, which asks businesses how much hiring and firing they’ve done. This gives us the number of non-farm payroll jobs that have been created. It generally leaves out the self-employed, agricultural jobs, households, etc., so it doesn’t tell you much about unemployment. It mainly tells you about the rate of job creation. So, to calculate unemployment, we really only need to look at the Household survey’s historical data.

The first step is to calculate the historical labor force participation rate. This is complicated, conceptually, although not technically.  All you have to do, technically, is download the participation data in excel, and run an average between two dates.  Conceptually, you have to try and figure out what good dates are.  There are…issues with this.

You don’t want to go back too far in time, because you are trying to capture the current labor force’s participation, not the participation of your dad’s generation. Labor force participation rates change over time, so the numbers need to be relatively current. I really didn’t want to project the numbers back into the 90s, for example, when the participation rate was solidly above 67%.

You also want the time frame to reflect at least one full economic cycle, so you can capture all the variation between an expansion and recession.  But, you don’t want to choose an end date in the current economic cycle, because that skews the data up or down depending on where you are in the current economic cycle.

The dates I chose are January 2000 to Dec 2009.  That takes data from right after the peak of the 90′s expansion, to right before the steep decline in labor force participation in the current recession. That’s where I get the 66.2% historical labor force participation rate. I could now include 2010 in that rate, which would introduce a slight downwards bias to the historical rate, but not much, yielding a participation rate of 66.1%. If I drop the rates from 2000, and go with a 10-year moving average (2001-2010), it drops to 66%. But, of course, that means that we’re including the current decline in participation, which hides, to an extent, how steep the decline actually is.

Now, there is a big question mark that is really impossible to address at the current time, which is whether or not the current decline in labor force participation is skewed by the Baby Boomer retirements which have begun as the first-year cohort of the Baby Boom hits 65 this year. The logical supposition is that such a large bolus of population retiring and passing out of the system will cause the participation rate to decline. How big of a decline?  I dunno.  We’ll really only know the answer to that question at the next peak of economic expansion, when the participation rate hits a new cycle high. I think it’s already started, though, and, indeed, started in the early 2000s, when the participation rate dropped a full percentage over several months, and then stayed in the 66% range, vice the 67% range of the 1990s. I think–though I can’t be sure–that we’re seeing a fair amount of early retirements among Baby Boomers who are affluent enough to do so.

The upshot of all this is that the selection of dates for calculating the historical average participation rate is very subjective. My calculation is, therefore, arbitrary, although, I think, logically reasoned out. It has a long enough time-line to be a reliable average across an economic cycle. It is not so far in the past that it skews the data. It is not so recent that current declines–or advances–skew the data. But it is arbitrary, and I’m sure others could come up with other ones. And, of course, when we hit another economic peak, the whole thing will have to be recalculated again to catch all those Baby Boomer early retirements.

In any event, once you’ve got the historical labor force participation rate, then all you need to do is multiply that by the civilian adult non-institutional population to derive the size of what should be the current labor force.

You then divide that into the size of the “Employed” population to come up with the unemployment rate.

The equation for all this would be:

1. Population x Participation Rate = Labor Force,

2.- (Labor Force/Employed) + 1 = Unemployment Rate

So, using this last month’s unemployment figures:

238704 * .662 = 158022

-(139323/158022 ) + 1 = 11.8%

And that’s how it’s done…assuming you correctly set up your Excel spreadsheet. As I was writing the formulas above, I noticed that the Excel spreadsheet had the division backwards, and was inflating the unemployment rate. I’ve corrected the post below on the Jan Unemployment Situation.

UPDATE:

While I learned about figuring the average, all it does is pique further interest in determining the number of individuals who are underemployed or have simply given up and have dropped off the statistical graph.

How would you address those two questions and solve for both?

I wouldn’t.

First, we already have a measure on unemployment that covers under-employment/part-time work, called the U-6, which already part of every monthly release. The BLS already does that work about as well as can be expected, so there’s no reason for me to reproduce it. As for those who’ve just dropped out of the labor force, we already see that on a monthly basis via the participation rate, and the labor force size that the BLS reports.

What we don’t know is why people are dropping out of the labor force. The “A” tables keep tabs on the number of discouraged workers, but we don’t have any read on who just decided to retire, or whose spouse got sick and needs them home to care for them, or who just thought taking up mainlining China White would be a good way to pass the time, or whatever.

Ultimately, if they’re out of the labor force, they’re no longer of concern to the statisticians at the BLS. What it really boils down to is how you define the “labor force” and that’s a pretty subjective measure, no matter how you cut it. The BLS has decided that if you’re not employed or actively looking for work, you’re not in the labor force. I’m sure there’s any number of people who would be in the current  labor force under different circumstances, or who’ve been in it in the past, and who will be in it in the future.  But I don’t know how you’d inquire into those myriad of reasons people aren’t in the labor force this month, and come up with a way to quantify that.


Forget AGW–is a magnetic pole shift in our near future?

That’s what some are saying … well have been saying for a few years.   And they’re seeing indications of that flip (something that has happened routinely in earth’s history) accelerating.

Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth’s history. It’s happening again now to every planet in the solar system including Earth.

So what does that mean to us?  Well it can mean some pretty mean weather with significant changes in its patterns, some changed coast lines, and …  yes, another ice age.

One early indicator of the upcoming flip, per the article, are “superstorms” – something it claims we’ve been undergoing this year:

The first evidence we have that the dangerous superstorm cycle has started is the devastating series of storms that pounded the UK during late 2010.

On the heels of the lashing the British Isles sustained, monster storms began to lash North America. The latest superstorm—as of this writing—is a monster over the U.S. that stretched across 2,000 miles affecting more than 150 million people.

Yet even as that storm wreaked havoc across the Western, Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern states, another superstorm broke out in the Pacific and closed in on Australia.

The southern continent had already dealt with the disaster of historic superstorm flooding from rains that dropped as much as several feet in a matter of hours. Tens of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed. After the deluge tiger sharks were spotted swimming between houses in what was once a quiet suburban neighborhood.

Shocked authorities now numbly concede that much of the water may never dissipate and have wearily resigned themselves to the possibility that region will now contain a new inland sea.

But then only a handful of weeks later another superstorm—the megamonster cyclone Yasi—struck northeastern Australia. The damage it left in its wake is being called by rescue workers a war zone.

In fact, and I didn’t realize it, the cyclone, Yasi, was a Category 5+ storm:

The incredible superstorm packed winds near 190mph. Although labeled as a category-5 cyclone, it was theoretically a category-6. The reason for that is storms with winds of 155mph are considered category-5, yet Yasi was almost 22 percent stronger than that.

Anyway, the point of the article is to say these sorts of storms are consistent with the flipping or switching of the poles.  And, per the article, that process, i.e. the flipping, has accelerated over the past few years:

The Earth’s northern magnetic pole was moving towards Russia at a rate of about five miles annually. That progression to the East had been happening for decades.

Suddenly, in the past decade the rate sped up. Now the magnetic pole is shifting East at a rate of 40 miles annually, an increase of 800 percent. And it continues to accelerate.

I’ll let you read for yourself the supposed problems this will bring, but suffice it to say, if the numbers quoted are correct for the average length of time between flips in the earth’s history, we are certainly overdue.  From an Economist article cited:

"There is, however, a growing body of evidence that the Earth’s magnetic field is about to disappear, at least for a while. The geological record shows that it flips from time to time, with the south pole becoming the north, and vice versa. On average, such reversals take place every 500,000 years, but there is no discernible pattern. Flips have happened as close together as 50,000 years, though the last one was 780,000 years ago. But, as discussed at the Greenland Space Science Symposium, held in Kangerlussuaq this week, the signs are that another flip is coming soon."

But wait, as they say in the commercials, there’s more:

According to some geologists and scientists, we have left the last interglacial period behind us. Those periods are lengths of time—about 11,500 years—between major Ice Ages.

One of the most stunning signs of the approaching Ice Age is what’s happened to the world’s precessional wobble.

The Earth’s wobble has stopped.

Sigh … who to believe, who to believe.  The “science” of AGW is “settled” after all.

If science hadn’t become so politicized with grants being awarded by government to find favorably for a particular agenda, we wouldn’t likely trying to decide if this is all true or not.  But regardless, it sure throws a monkey wrench into the AGW works – or should I say another monkey wrench.  In fact AGW probably now owns more of those tools than any other “science” in the world.

All of this to say is there are other explanations out there to what’s going on in the world with both weather and climate.   How many AGW models do you think factor for this magnetic shift that is occurring and the effect it obviously has on weather?

Yeah, not many if any I’d guess.

So?  So interesting stuff, certainly something to think about and, btw, something we can’t do a damn thing about.  But given the choice between AGW and this, I’d be more inclined to buy heavier winter clothes than invest in Tommy Bahamas’ stuff.

~McQ


Well here’s a surprise–UK’s Cameron says state multiculturalism has failed

Multiculturalism posits that it is possible for immigrants to eschew the dominant culture and live within their own culture in a foreign land and everything will be hunky-dory.  Except reality hasn’t supported the premise  – anywhere. 

One of the strengths of the US is it was a melting pot, not a mixing  bowl.  That means that those coming to the country were assimilated into the dominant culture, not that they set up “little India” or “little Mexico” or “little Somalia” and eschewed the culture of the US.  And in fact, during that assimilation, the positive aspects of the imported culture may also be assimilated and become a part of the dominant culture.

But the left found that, well, non-egalitarian I guess.  Instead, they decided, in their own morally relative way, that all cultures were equal and that instead of assimilation, the non-dominant cultures should establish themselves as a whole, with the goal of treating them as equally valid and thus allowing immigrants to cling to the cultural roots while still enjoying the benefits of the dominant culture.

Boy has that been a bust.   And finally a politician of note has decided the emperor has no clothes and declared it to be so.  David Cameron, the UK’s PM, while speaking about certain groups who are subsidized by the UK’s government to fight extremism among Muslims there but do little in reality, said:

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," the prime minister said.

"Let’s properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?

"These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations," he added.

Oh my goodness … heresy among the multiculturalatti.  This is a serious challenge to the basic belief that all cultures are equal and coexist.  And, of course, they have reacted as such:

Luton Labour MEP Richard Howitt, a keynote speaker at the counter-rally to the EDL demo in Luton, added: "The attack on multiculturalism surrenders to the far-right ideology that moderate and fundamentalist ideas cannot be distinguished from each other, and actually undermines respect and co-operation between peoples of different faith.

"The phrase ‘muscular liberalism’ in particular sadly endorses the climate of threat, fear and violence which is present on the streets of Luton today."

Does it really?  Or does it address the reality of multiculturalism’s failure.  What is a the dominant culture supposed to do when it’s very existence is challenged by a perniciously different culture that this so-called “tolerance” has allowed to get a foothold and attempts to subvert?  Why is it the dominant culture must endure that challenge in silence and with inaction?  Why must one culture be “tolerant” while the other remains “intolerant” and bent on the destruction of the former?

It certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to view and assess the aim of the challenging culture.  It’s a bit like the zebra muscle – once native to Russian lakes, it has somehow been introduced to the Great Lakes.  They are an invasive species.   Left unchallenged and untreated, they will indeed take over the habitat of native species.  Would anyone argue that the problem they pose shouldn’t be addressed in light of the possible outcome? 

Muslim extremism is based in an invasive religious ideology that calls for dominance world-wide by any means necessary to include violence.  The UK has experienced that violence.   Yet the response has been to tap-dance around the real problem and pretend that the culture that supports and funds this sort of religious ideology (which exists right there in the UK) is somehow a minority not worth worrying about.   And if you worry, well, you’re the bigot.

A genuinely liberal country "believes in certain values and actively promotes them", Mr Cameron said. "Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality. "It says to its citizens: This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe these things."

Indeed. And if you don’t believe that’s worth fighting for, then the side that does believe in doing exactly that will eventually assimilate the other culture.

Anyway, I’d like to see this sort of challenge to the god of multiculturalism made more often with prominent people who have the guts to say such things as Cameron said, and stand behind it when the expected heat rounds come flying their way.  It is a pernicious and false premise based in moral relativism and cloaked in the hide of “egalitarianism”.  Another “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that needs to be killed (oh, forgive my violent rhetoric /sarc) and killed as quickly as possible.

~McQ


January 2011 Unemployment Situation (Updated)

Today’s unemployment situation data is…wierd.  Most noticeable is that the Civilian Non-Institutional Population declined by 185k people, from 238,889k to 238,704k.  Did a lot of people die last month? (Update: Ah. It was an annual population adjustment by the BLS. Carry on.) At the same time, we continue the trend of large increases in the population that dropped out of the labor force, with 319k dropping out last month. Since January, 2010, 2,039k people have left the labor force. On the plus side, 117k more people say they are employed this month than last month.

Still, that 9% unemployment rate is an artifact of 504k people disappearing from the population, not the creation of new jobs, something the anemic 36k new payroll jobs number makes clear. Also, the adjusted U6 unemployment rate surged From 16.6% to 17.3%. In fact, U-3, U-4, U-5, and U-6 all rose sharply.  U-3 (Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force) rose from 9.1% in December to 9.8% last month. So, we got that goin’ for us.

Getting to the numbers, for a more accurate view of unemployment:

Civilian non-institutional adult population: 238,704
Historical labor force participation rate:
66.2%
Proper labor force size:
158,022
Actually Employed:
139,323
Unemployment Rate:
11.8%

UPDATE: Well, this is embarrassing.  I’ve made a calculation error in the Excel spreadsheet, which provided an incorrect unemployment rate, above.  I reversed the division between the labor force and the number of employed persons.  I noticed that while writing the post above, on how I calculate the number.  I’ve corrected the Excel spreadsheet, to prevent the error from recurring in the future.


Why the attempt to make the Muslim Brotherhood acceptable?

I guess, perhaps, it is a function of being brought up during the Cold War and watching one "people’s revolution" after another – each promising democracy, freedom and enlightened rule – turn into murderous and oppressive regimes which has me highly suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt.

I’m also fascinated and perplexed by those who would accept at face value the MB’s declarations in that regard.   Carefully reading the words of MB leaders doesn’t at all leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling.  Instead I see much of the West falling hook, line and sinker for pernicious propaganda designed to fool them into believing something that isn’t at all in evidence.

For instance, Dr Muhammad Badie is the new leader of the MB.  From their English language site (which I understand is much less inflammatory than their Arabic language site) he is quoted:

He concluded by telling reporters that the movement was open to new ideas hence their promoting of reform. The Brotherhood rejects violence and aims to achieve gradual reforms in a peaceful and constitutional way.

We totally reject violence and denounce it in all its forms," the new leader concluded. [Emphasis mine]

Sounds great. Of course he is quoted as saying things like this on the MB Arabic website:

-Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslim’s real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded. Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States. “They are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for His sake with [their] money and [their] lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme” over all non-Muslims.

–All Muslims are required by their religion to fight: "They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life." Notice that jihad here is not interpreted as so often happens by liars, apologists, and the merely ignorant in the West as spiritual striving. The clear meaning is one of armed struggle.

Mr. “non-violence” advocating … violence, as recently as October of last year.

Flip over to a little controversy of words between Conor Friedersdorf and Andy McCarthy.  Friedersdorf is upset about the way McCarthy worded a particular claim in a recent article.  In it McCarthy says, "Hamas is not merely colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood." .  Friedersdorf responds with:

When Andy McCarthy says that The Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas, the point he’s making is that we can anticipate how the group will act if it comes to power in Egypt, because we know how Hamas acts in Gaza, and the two groups are the same. In contrast, Eli Lake doesn’t believe we can know how the Muslim Brotherhood will act in Egypt if it comes to power, he describes a moderate faction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that is quite different from Hamas, and even in the clip you cite, he isn’t arguing that The Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas – he is arguing that one of its chapters – the one in Gaza – is Hamas, and that an Egyptian government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood might strengthen the hand of Hamas in its ongoing conflict with Israel.

wold-sheep-clothing2Note the irrelevance of the argument in terms of the big picture.  The fact remains, and even Friedersdorf admits it, that the Gaza chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas – a violent terror group (and one which fits perfectly in the new MB leaders “jihadist” framework, no?)  We can quibble about whether or not that chapter represents the MB as a whole or not, but the fact remains, it gives total lie to the claim of the MB’s new leader eschewing violence (as do his own words, of course).  You see, when it comes to Israel, the MB makes an exception to this declaration.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s a translated clip of Muhammad Ghanem, Muslim Brotherhood Representative in London, calling for civil disobedience, including "halting passage through the Suez Canal … and preparing for war with Israel"

Here’s an interview with Khaled Hamza, the editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website.  He is described by the interviewer as “a leading voice of moderation within the party, and is central to its youth-outreach efforts.”

One of the things the MB has talked about is “secular government”.  They’re for it, well, sort of.  I mean that’s what they talk about, but what do they mean when they say it?  Well, here’s what they mean:

So the Brotherhood would support the maintenance of a secular government?

When the Muslim Brotherhood uses the word "secular," it does not mean no religion — we are talking about what we call a "civilized state." [emphasis mine]

Uh huh … and what makes a “civilized state?”  Read between the lines, people.

Here’s the former MB leader introducing the new MB leader:

Akef addressed a word to the press conference, which had convened for the historical announcement of the eighth Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement. He asserted that the movement was bound by a set of regulations however were and still are open to reform and progress suitable to specific incidents and specific times stressing that flexibility is a must for the success of any trend.

He called on the members of the movement to holdfast to its cause and not to waver or flinch in the face of possible oppression and tyranny. "Continue in your cause with head held high and follow through with integrity and reciprocated respect so that the banner of Islam may be raised. Support your leaders who are as one within your ranks". [emphasis mine]

There’s your “civilized state”. 

Back to the Hamza interview:

Do you support the establishment of sharia (Islamic law) in the way the government of Saudi Arabia has established it?

The Brotherhood does not agree with the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, because it is simply not democratic.

So you believe that there has to be a certain way to put sharia into place, but that establishing it through monarchy or by force is unacceptable?

Yes, democracy is the only way.

So the veneer of democracy is to be used to install what they all know they plan on installing – sharia law as a part of a “civilized state”.  Once sharia is “chosen”, then they have inoculated themselves against criticism from the West. And, of course, as long as they’re in power, sharia will never be “unchosen”.   Democracy is very useful in this way as most of those “people’s revolutions” demonstrated during the Cold War era.  Organize for the post-government era so that the MB has the best political organization out there, ban the opposing party (that would be Mubarak’s party which the MB says would be banned from running for office), and win the election.  Then implement the agenda:

What role would the Muslim Brotherhood have in creating a new state if it participated in the political process?

We would take part in Parliament and run in the elections for it. [Under Mubarak's ban on the group, members of the Brotherhood must run for office as independents - Ed.) When people choose the Muslim Brotherhood, the West must understand that the people want it. [Emphasis mine]

There you go.  And check out this sleight of hand in that same interview.  The interviewer asks about the establishment of government in Egypt and whether or not the “Iranian model” is one the MB would follow:

What about the Iranian model?

The Iranians follow the Ayatollah; we do not believe Islam requires a theocracy.  In our view, the ulema (clergy) are only for teaching and education — they are out of the political sphere.  Iran has some good things, such as elections, but we disagree with all the aggression.  We disagree also with the human rights abuses from the government and attacks on the population.

Remember, the former chairman invoked raising the banner of Islam, and this fellow has already told us that “secular” doesn’t mean “no religion”.  And anyone who has studied Islam even a little bit understands there is no separation between the religion, law and governance.  In fact, that’s how a country becomes a “civilized state”.  So this statement is disingenuous at best.  So is claiming that the clergy are only “for teaching and education”.  And in fact, later on in the interview, he slips a bit.  This in a discussion on the role of women in politics:

If the Brotherhood were in power in Egypt, what would be the rights of women to participate in politics?  Could a woman serve in Parliament, or as President?

We believe in the complete participation of women in political life — except the presidency.

Except the presidency?  Why is that?

Most ulema agree that the president must be a man. Women can run for any political office except president…In Islam there are ideas and options, and Islam says it is possible [for a woman to serve as President], but for now we choose the other option. We say it is a choice, from the religious thinkers or schools of thought. But there are other options and different choices.  Some [Islamic] scholars say a woman can be President, but the Muslim Brotherhood, now, at this moment, does not agree with this. Maybe after some years they’d accept this.  I think so. For myself, Khaled, I personally think a woman can be President, no problem. [Emphasis mine]

The “ulema agree”?  Uh, if they’re just for “teaching and education” who cares?  Or are they making "decisions” that government abides by?  Sounds like the latter to me.   And notice how casually he throws women’s rights to the political process under the bus with “but for now we choose the other option”.  What’s to say “we” won’t choose any number of other options for the “civilized state” as decreed by the “ulema”?  Stoning.  Killing gays and infidels.  etc.

Finally, on the subject of violence and Israel:

What about relations with Israel?  What would the Brotherhood do regarding the situation between Israel and Palestine?

We think Israel is an occupation force and is not fair to the Palestinians. We do not believe in negotiation with Israel. As the Muslim Brotherhood, we must resist all this. They are an occupation force and we must resist this. Did you see what they do in Gaza, on the flotilla? Israel is a very dangerous force and we must resist.  Resistance is the only way, negotiation is not useful at all.

So would the Muslim Brotherhood, if in a position of government, help groups like Hamas?

Yes, sure.

Do you recognize Israel as a state?

No.

And this guy is a “moderate” and “modernist”.

Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing – the symbol of many a past “people’s revolution”.

~McQ


And you wonder why health insurance is expensive?

The opening line in a New York Times piece caught my attention.  It is typical of how government, once it gets control of something, then begins to expand it (and make it more costly for everyone) as it sees fit.  Note the key falsehood in the sentence:

The Obama administration is examining whether the new health care law can be used to require insurance plans to offer contraceptives and other family planning services to women free of charge.

Yup, you caught it – nothing involved in such a change would be “free of charge”.   Instead others would be taxed or charged in order for women to not have to pay at the point of service.  That’s it.  Those who don’t have any need of contraception will subsidize those who do.  And the argument, of course, will be the “common good”.   The other argument will be that many women can’t afford “family planning services” or “contraception”.

But the assumption is the rest of you can afford to part with a little more of your hard earned cash in order to subsidize this effort (it is similar to other mandated care coverage you pay for but don’t need).  Oh, and while reading that sentence, make sure you understand that the administration claims it has not taken over health care in this country.

The next sentence is just as offensive:

Such a requirement could remove cost as a barrier to birth control, a longtime goal of advocates for women’s rights and experts on women’s health.

So now “women’s rights” include access to subsidies from others who have no necessity or desire to pay for those services?  What right does anyone have to the earnings of another simply because government declares that necessary?

It is another example of a profound misunderstanding of what constitutes a “right” and how it has been perverted over the years to become a claim on “free” stuff paid for by others.

Administration officials said they expected the list to include contraception and family planning because a large body of scientific evidence showed the effectiveness of those services. But the officials said they preferred to have the panel of independent experts make the initial recommendations so the public would see them as based on science, not politics.

Really?  This is all about politics.  The fact that the services may be “effective” is irrelevant to the political questions and objections raised above.  This is science being used to justify taking from some to give to others – nothing more.

Finally:

Many obstetricians, gynecologists, pediatricians and public health experts have called for coverage of family planning services, including contraceptives, without co-payments, deductibles or other cost-sharing requirements.

Good.  Let them then advertise the fact that they are offering their services to women who want them or need them free of charge.

What?  That’s not what they meant?  They want to get paid, they just want someone else to pay them?

This is just the beginning of many special interest groups trying to find ways to have their needs subsidized by you – and trust me, if they fall in the favored constituency group of whoever is in power they have a shot at getting it.   That or a waiver.

But remember – government has not taken over health care.

~McQ