Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Ideology of Hatred?

Here is an excerpt from an editorial piece by Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League:
The attacks in Norway seem to stem from a different source. They are the first to emerge from a relatively new, specifically anti-Islamic ideology that moves beyond religious or racial prejudices to incorporate anti-Islamic sentiment as the focal point of a larger worldview.
Growing numbers of people in Europe and the United States subscribe to this belief system; in some instances it borders on hysteria. Adherents of this ideological Islamophobia view Islam as an existential threat to the world, especially to the “West.”
Moreover, they believe that leaders and governments in the Western world are consciously or unconsciously collaborating to allow Islam to “infiltrate” and eventually conquer democratic societies.
Left-wing “multiculturalist” sentiments tear down traditional European culture, they argue, allowing Muslim immigrants to replace it with “their own” culture and values. The result, they claim, will be the demographic, cultural and, eventually, political suicide of the West — unless action is taken to stop it.
These ideas are no longer geographically isolated. The Oslo perpetrator in his manifesto quoted extensively from the writings of European and American bloggers — including Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller — who promote a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting radical Islam. Because of the reach of the Internet, these ideas float freely across borders and are reinforced by like-minded bigots.
This belief system goes far beyond anti-Islamic prejudice based on simple religious or racial grounds. In a sense, it parallels the creation of an ideological — and far more deadly — form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on the backs of the previously dominant cultural and religious forms of anti-Semitism.
The presence of this new ideological form of anti-Islamism is clear in the Norway attacks. The perpetrator, though motivated by anti-Islamic sentiments, did not attack or kill Muslims. Rather, he reserved his extreme actions for those “traitors” whom he believed to be collaborating with and allowing Muslims to take over Norway (and Europe). He chose targets related to the Labour Party, the alleged “multi-cultural Marxists” who dominated his thoughts.
Breivik’s acts are so far the only major incidents like this. Perhaps they will remain unique. His thinking, however, is certainly not. Thanks to his carefully sourced manifesto, we can identify many of his intellectual influences, and they are prominent on both sides of the Atlantic. And many people hold views similar to Breivik’s. In the United States, we have seen frequent manifestations of this ideology, including the eager promotion by anti-Islamic zealots of a growing conspiracy theory about “creeping Sharia law.
One bizarre twist to Breivik’s warped worldview was his pro-Zionism — his strongly expressed support for the state of Israel. It is a reminder that we must always be wary of those whose love for the Jewish people is born out of hatred of Muslims or Arabs.
The obvious danger to Americans and Europeans is that as this movement grows and solidifies, more people may become motivated to violence by this hateful ideology.
In America, the polarization, vitriol and fear engendered by anti-Islamic activists must be replaced by reasoned and civil debate. We must rally the voices of reason to overcome the voices of intolerance before it is too late.
What is clear to me is that either Mr. Foxman or I misunderstand this ideology.   However, given the following, I am pretty sure it is he who misunderstands it:
Those are just a few examples of why I believe Islam is a threat.  If immigration by Muslims to some locations is not curbed, we may see more examples of Malmö, Sweden, where:
  • The presence of an Israeli sports team caused a riot.
  • Emergency workers do not enter heavily-Muslim areas.
  • Heavily-Muslim areas are plagued by rampant unemployment. 
  • Crime is widespread; one in three families is affected by "immigrant-fueled crime."
  • Over a 20-year period, the number of rapes has tripled. 
  • Jews risk their safety by not hiding their religion. 
Malmö appears to have problems because of its quarter-Muslim population.  Assuming the above is correct, multiculturalism and immigration have turned the well-functioning Swedish society into one with many problems.  If certain locations continue their policy of multiculturalism, then they too may see the same problems (if they haven't already).  

It is important to make a distinction between Muslim extremists and everyday Muslims.  The former is likely a tiny fraction of the entire Muslim population.  And, although some people may believe otherwise, I would not judge someone negatively based solely upon their religion, even if it were Islam (however, I may not hold the same attitude toward the Westboro Baptist Church and a few others).  It is, of course, the Muslim extremists that are responsible for all of the terrorism.  However, the same cannot be said for the other things that I mentioned above.  I do realize that there also exists a more liberal version of Islam.  However, that does not erase the evident correlation between Muslims and the above.  Having said that, I would not automatically attatch any of those things to any Muslim without evidence that suggests they may have perpetrated them.  To do so would be, among other things, logically fallacious.  

So, it appears that you simply need to consider Malmö when Mr. Foxman says this...
Left-wing “multiculturalist” sentiments tear down traditional European culture, they argue, allowing Muslim immigrants to replace it with “their own” culture and values. The result, they claim, will be the demographic, cultural and, eventually, political suicide of the West — unless action is taken to stop it.
And, when he says this,
This belief system goes far beyond anti-Islamic prejudice based on simple religious or racial grounds. In a sense, it parallels the creation of an ideological — and far more deadly — form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on the backs of the previously dominant cultural and religious forms of anti-Semitism. must simply remember how unlike modern Muslims the Jews of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were.  That is, they cannot be effectively compared.

And, to this...
The obvious danger to Americans and Europeans is that as this movement grows and solidifies, more people may become motivated to violence by this hateful ideology.
In America, the polarization, vitriol and fear engendered by anti-Islamic activists must be replaced by reasoned and civil debate. We must rally the voices of reason to overcome the voices of intolerance before it is too late.
...I say, although I cannot speak for anyone else, my ideology is not hateful.  I wish to propagate reasoned and civil debate.  Based on all the evidence I have seen, I have reason to deem Islam a threat.  If I am presented with evidence that contradicts the evidence I have seen, then I would be more than willing to reconsider my position.

I am not hateful; my position is quite empirical.  And, I will again condemn Breivik's detestable, evil actions.  I hope I have effectively communicated how my ideology is not hateful.  This appears to be yet another example of the acknowledgement of reality being confused for hatred.  Only through civil and reasoned discussion can things be effectively understood, and violence accomplishes absolutely nothing (aside from when it is necessary for protection).

Friday, July 29, 2011

When Politics and Sports Collide

Arizona must be one of the USA's most scenic states.  The desert, the mountains, the canyons, and the red rocks are all things that contribute to Arizona being one of my favorite states.  Obviously, Arizona is one of the states that borders Mexico.  And, as such, it is prone to illegal immigration.  To anyone who has been reading my blog, it should come as no suprise that I would be all for toughening immigration laws as well as enacting laws that are designed to prevent illegal immigration.  So, when I first heard about Arizona SB 1070, I was proud of Arizona for trying to solve its immigration problem.  The reactions of some people, however, left me confused.  For example, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, and St. Paul all boycotted Arizona in some form.  I can understand Los Angeles, but how could Minneapolis possibly know how bad the situation in Arizona is with illegal immigrants?  Also, there were accusations that the bill was racist.  That is ridiculous, since the bill was designed to solve a problem that was getting out of hand.  Anyway, there was one particular reaction that I wanted to mention.

Last may, the Phoenix Suns wore jerseys that read "Los Suns" both to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and to protest Arizona SB 1070.  Since the Phoenix Suns are a private corporation, they should have the right to protest the bill.  However, I am not so sure that would make business sense.  Since it is a sports team, perhaps its fans who support the bill would overlook that protest.  It just seems kind of odd to me that they would take the risk of alienating some of their fans, especially when some polls suggested that over 70% of Arizonans supported the bill.   It was over a year ago, so maybe most people have forgotten about that protest.  I have no idea.  

In case anyone is wondering, there is really no reason I am mentioning this now.  I just saw something that reminded me of it, so I decided to opine.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Overreaction of Titanic Proportions over Imaginary Homophobia

I just saw this on the news:
Professor and former Surrey-North federal Liberal candidate Shinder Purewal sparked a Twitter storm on Thursday by tweeting that he finds the Vancouver Pride Parade “vulgar.”

He posted on Twitter that “Vancouver’s so-called ‘Pride Parade’ should be banned. It is vulgar ... to say the least!”

The Kwantlen University professor and former citizenship judge received a flood of responses, all disagreeing with him.

In a telephone interview Thursday about his tweet, Purewal said: “If I can’t take my family to a place because of open sexuality, my opinion is that it’s simply vulgar.
 Vancouver Pride Society president Ken Coolin said people are entitled to their own opinion, but called Purewal’s comments “unfortunate.
He said Purewal “should understand how comments like this can turn into challenges for the community.

“It’s sad he chose to make this comment; it is going to be interpreted as homophobic by many in our community, even though he doesn’t see it that way.”

I question whether he has sat and watched the parade the whole way through, because there are families, brothers, sisters, moms and dads, who go together to support each other,” said Coolin.
Emphasis added.
Let me just say that I completely agree with Professor Purewal, and his comments are in no way homophic.  The parade is vulgar.  For photos that showcase the parade's vulgarity, click here, here, here, here, and here (warning: that last image contains nudity).  A simple Google search will reveal many, many more obscene photos.  Is that really an event you want to bring your family to?

The following tweets showcase the irrationality of some people (sorry for the atrocious formatting):
 Top @ShinderPurewal tweets:
jarrahpenguin Jarrah Hodge
@ShinderPurewal's #vanpride2011 "clarification" didn't help. You can't say you support #lgbt rights but find the sexuality "vulgar"
KSAcouncil Kwantlen KSA
Kwantlen prof @shinderpurewal views on #vanpride2011 dont reflect the @KSACouncil
anotherPurewal Tavleen Purewal
Yup, why doesn't everyone jump on the hate @ShinderPurewal bandwagon! His opinion, "something I wouldn't want my children to see"
@ShinderPurewal life long learner? How is that possible when your mind is closed so tight?
tuxforpm TuxForPM
@ShinderPurewal Sure, why not? Lets ban every way people have to express themselves because it offends our intransigent morality #cdnpoli
tdhross Jonathan Ross
@shinderpurewal @liberal_party As a proud Liberal, this ex-candidate's disgusting views on #vanpride2011 does not represent our party. Shame

Emphasis added.

In case someone reads this that isn't familiar with me, I am gay.  Seriously, some of these comments leave me absolutely astonished and speechless.  I don't even know what to say.  People are entitled to their views obviously (this isn't the Netherlands, for God's sake), but I have never seen such overreaction.  Wow.  That is really all I can say.  I no longer have any hope for the "gay community."  It is clear that they are self-absorbed and intransigent, and, since they are a minority, they have the responsibility to listen to the majority (within reasonableness, of course).  

See also: this post.

UPDATE: Please also note that Professor Purewal also said this:

“That does not mean that I don’t support same-sex marriage, which I do and voted for, or that I don’t support people of different sexual orientation, but for it to be in public is vulgar.”
UPDATE: I edited this post a bit.

Rodeos and Drag Queens

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had originally intended to write about something completely different than what I ended up writing about.  In the first sentence of that post, I mentioned Vancouver Pride.  I originally meant to talk about drag queens, which are a staple at pride parades (or so it seems), but ended up talking about Alberta's conservative politics.  Anyway, what I was originally going to say follows.

I will spare you my opinion of drag queens.  I will say, however, that I do not see what relevance they have to homosexuals.  I do not know very much about drag queens, or transvetitism, or transgenderism (which I talked about previously), nor do I want to.  I am homosexual, but, even in my youth, none of my mannerisms were very "girly."  Aside from my sexuality and agnosticism, I am a traditional kind of guy.  Here, I opined on gay pride.  Since I never plan on attending a gay pride parade (except maybe to join the anti-gay protesters, although my motivation for protesting would be much different from theirs), the large occurrence of drag queens does not particularly bother me, aside from their association with gays.  Although I believe I know why drag queens are associated with gays, I do not believe they should be.  To me, they seem to be better associated with transgenderism, which is not a sexual orientation.  For the same reason, I prefer the term LGB to LGBT (although I do not use either).

In my previous post, I mentioned the Calgary Stampede, which includes a rodeo.  The spirit of the event appeals to me and my inner redneck.  That brings me to gay rodeo, which is possibly the only gay-themed event I would ever be likely to attend.  I wonder if it is an event that draws more conservative-leaning homosexuals, similar to how regular rodeos appeal more to conservatives than to liberals.  To anyone who reads this that is familiar with gay rodeo, I have a question.  Is it an actual rodeo, or it is just some campy parody?  I have researched the event a bit, and, much to my chagrin, drag queens seem to be a staple of the event.  This fact leads me to believe the latter is true.

Canada's Paradise

The Vancouver Pride Festival is coming up soon (in case anyone was wondering why I am writing about Gay Pride now).  A much different event, the Calgary Stampede, ended almost two weeks ago.  Aside from the festive nature of both events, the contrast could not be more different.  The Calgary Stampede, the world's largest rodeo, is a celebration of Calgary's western heritage.  The Calgary Stampede started in 1886 as the Calgary and District Agricultural Society Exhibition.  The Stampede is closely tied with Calgary's identity.

Alberta is sometimes referred to "The Texas of Canada" (at least by me), and, indeed, Alberta is well known in Canada for its conservative politics.  Alberta gave the Conservatives the highest percentage of its popular vote (67%) in 2011.  The Conservative Party has won very seat in Alberta outside of Edmonton for the past four federal elections (every election since the foundation of the Conservative Party), as well as every seat in Edmonton in one of those.  Rural Alberta ridings gave anywhere between 84 and 75 percent of their votes to the Conservative Party in 2011.  Alberta's Progressive Conservative Association (definitely not progressive) has formed the provincial government since 1971.  Alberta is also Canada's wealthiest province, due to its oil sands (which I will defend to the death, metaphorically).  In addition, Calgary, Alberta's largest city, is arguably one of North America's most conservative cities (which I consider to be metropolitan areas with over one million people).

During the Stampede, western wear is visible around the city.  So tied to Calgary's identity is the Stampede and its western heritage, a cowboy hat appears on the city's flag (see below).

Originally, this post was going to be about something else entirely.  However, as I was writing it, it turned into a post about Alberta politics.  The introduction, which I decided not to change (for a sense of contemporary relevance), is indicative of such.  I could go on and on about how much I love Alberta and I can't wait to move there (I was raised and currently live in British Columbia); incidentally, I am really starting to embrace my inner redneck.  At the same time, Calgary is sadly evolving (or devolving, if you ask me) into a PC hell, seemingly just like every other place in the Western world, which I guess is inevitable for a rapidly growing major city.  Fortunately, this process seems to be quite slow.  The Calgary Stampede (an event that showcases toughness and masculinity, and one that p*sses off animal rights groups) and the pride in which Calgary's residents show during said event, leave me optimistic.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some Vitriol Worthy of "Daily Kos"

Every night at 7:00 PM, the inane diatribe of nonsense popularly known as “Entertainment Tonight” rears its pug-fugly face on my TV screen when the news is over.  And, I can’t change the channel fast enough.  Any second spared of their nonsensical rantings about drivel no one in their right mind should ever care about in the slightest means one extra day of sanity at the end of my life.  Gossip is the lowest form of anything.  Why don’t Entertainment Tonight’s viewers join those of us whose IQ is higher than “below average” in not giving a rat’s ass about what costume Lady Gaga wore at some stupid award show or what bonehead Jennifer Anniston is dating?  Seriously, who cares?  Why do people obsess over these morons whose only talent is looking like a plastic cup that spent too much time in the microwave?  And what kind of society puts these morons (oops, sorry, “artists”) above people who risk their lives every day to keep people safe, or above scientists who are finding cures for diseases?  And, even if actors’ and musicians’ names are widely known (which I don’t actually have a problem with), why does every fricking detail about their lives need to be scrutinized?  They aren’t that goddang interesting!  Very rarely do you see a comparable level of obsession with professional athletes, who, in my humble opinion, are vastly more talented and skilled.  This must be one of the very few ways in which non-Western societies are actually superior.  

Okay, maybe that wasn't even close to the level of vitriol at "Daily Kos."  Anyway, I needed to vent on how oddly furious I become every time that sideshow appears on my television.  Do not expect this style of writing from me again.  

What is Wrong With Norway?

I will admit that prior to the terrorist attack in Norway last Friday, I did not know very much about Norway.  When I think of Scandinavians, I think of people who are unemotional, logical, and efficient.  I realize that that is just a stereotype, and stereotypes cannot be accurately applied to everyone belonging to a certain group (in fact, I should know that better than most people).  However, stereotypes usually have some degree of accuracy, as they must come from somewhere (having said that, I have never met a Canadian who has the stereotypical Canadian accent, pronounces "about" like "aboot," or frequently says "eh"; perhaps that is an Eastern Canadian thing).  And, the more I learn about Norway, the more I realize how inaccurate that stereotype is.  In fact, Norwegians, in general, seem to harbour an irrational hatred toward both Israel and the United States, as well as an irrational compassion toward Muslims and terrorist groups such as Hamas.  I must say that I am disappointed in some of the information I am learning, as I have always been quite fond of Scandinavia, the homeland of some of my ancestors (and, a side note: I am also dismayed at the notoriously liberal Netherlands, also the homeland of some of my ancestors).

Here is some background on Norway:

Norway uses a "Nordic Model," which Wikipedia describes as:
This particular adaptation of the mixed market economy is characterised by more generous welfare states (relative to other developed countries), which are aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human rights and stabilizing the economy. It is distinguished from other welfare states with similar goals by its emphasis on maximising labour force participation, promoting gender equality, egalitarian and extensive benefit levels, large magnitude of redistribution, and liberal use of expansionary fiscal policy.
I will say that this seems to work well for them.  Of course, that doesn't mean that it would work well in other societies.

Norway is an extremely wealthy, oil rich nation.  It has one of the world's highest standards of living, and has had the world's highest Human Development Index (HDI) ranking for 8 of the past 10 years.  According to the American think-tank Fund for Peace's Failed States Index, Norway is the world's most well functioning and stable nation.

Aside from the efficacy of Norway's economic policies and the weath Norway's oil provides to its small population, Norwegian society appears to be highly flawed (at least from my biased perspective).  Please read this excellent post by Bruce Bawer at Pajamas Media (h/t Diogenes Borealis).  Here are some excerpts from that post:

This lack of security was certainly not unusual for Norway, where the police don’t carry guns, and where the very idea of police carrying guns is widely looked upon as some holdover from an earlier stage of human evolution. But — hello — in front of the main office buildings of a Western European government? After 9/11? It seemed sheer madness.
When I first heard the news of the explosions at those buildings, my first thought, of course, was that it was a jihadist attack. But it wasn’t: it was a right-wing lunatic. It wasn’t jihad. It was a meaningless killing spree by a madman, like the ones at Columbine and Virginia Tech. A headline in one Norwegian newspaper today noted that the death toll in Oslo and at Utøya yesterday was higher than at Columbine and Virginia Tech combined. The Norwegian media have always reported on mass murders by lone gunmen in the U.S. as if they were things that could never happen in Norway: rather, they were symptoms of a sick society that Norwegians could never possibly understand. In Norway, they use the term “amerikanske tilstander” — American conditions. It never means anything good. Yesterday’s nightmare, from a Norwegian perspective, was the most American of American conditions.
Those of us who thought, in the first hours after the blasts in downtown Oslo, that we were witnessing yet another act of jihad can be forgiven. In a way, it made sense. 9/11, London, Madrid, Beslan, Bali, Mumbai — why not Oslo? Then again…Norway, although a member of NATO with troops in Afghanistan and Libya, was not exactly in the forefront of the struggle to defeat jihad. On the contrary.  Norway calls itself “the peace country.” For years, the Norwegian government and cultural establishment have striven to communicate to even the most extreme elements of international Islam that they want to be friends.  They've shown their good faith in a number of ways:
  • They’ve dropped displays of Islamic totalitarianism down the memory hole.  Two years ago, on two separate nights, a small army of Norwegian Muslim youths rioted in the heart of Oslo, turning a usually placid quarter into something reminiscent of Sarajevo or Beirut at their worst.  The alleged motive for this explosion of violence was displeasure over the situation in Gaza; the real intention was to mount a display of power — to intimidate, and to communicate to Norway that their time had come, and that they had better be listened to with respect, or else.  And in February of last year, another small army of Muslims, this time not rioting boys but sullen-looking men in long coats and full beards, gathered in downtown Oslo, in the same square where Vidkun Quisling once held his Nazi rallies, and listened with apparent pleasure while a young speaker named Mohyeldeen Mohammed threatened Norway with its own 9/11.  Both of these events came and went, and the people who make decisions about this sort of thing plainly decided that it would be best to pretend that they had never happened.
  • They’ve openly supported terrorist groups.  In the last few days, one of the major stories out of Norway has been the declaration by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of his country’s support for the effort by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to seek United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.  This stance scarcely came as a surprise, given the Norwegian government’s longstanding effort to “build bridges” to Hamas.  It was Støre, after all, who — when a couple of dozen Western diplomats walked out on a rabid anti-Israeli speech by Mahmoud Ahmedinejad at the 2009 UN conference on racism — was the only Westerner who chose to stay and hear him out.
During those hours when we all thought this was a jihadist attack, one thought that crossed my mind was that this would change the political map of Norway. For years, the Progress Party, which is the second largest of Norway’s seven or eight major parties, has led the way in calling for more responsible policies on the immigration and integration of people from Muslim countries — and has been demonized as a bunch of right-wing extremist xenophobes who hate Muslims. I assumed that after this attack, Norwegians would vote in a Progress Party-led government in the next elections. Now it appears that the man who committed all these murders is a former member of the Progress Party and is, indeed, a right-wing extremist xenophobe who harbors (according to Dagbladet) a “violent hatred for Muslims” and multiculturalism, and who targeted the Labor Party youth camp because he blames the ruling Labor Party for the Islamization of Norway. Norway’s political future looks very different now, in short, than it did 24 hours ago.
I will say that I thought many of those same things.  He said it better than I ever could.  More: is deeply depressing to see this evil, twisted creature become the face of Islam criticism in Norway. Norwegian television journalists who in the first hours of the crisis were palpably uncomfortable about the prospect of having to talk about Islamic terrorism are now eagerly discussing the dangers of “Islamophobia” and “conservative ideology” and are drawing connections between the madness and fanaticism of Breivik and the platform of the Progress Party. Yesterday’s events, then, represent a double tragedy for Norway. Not only has it lost almost one hundred people, including dozens of young people, in a senseless rampage of violence. But I fear that legitimate criticism of Islam, which remains a very real threat to freedom in Norway and the West, has been profoundly discredited, in the eyes of many Norwegians, by association with this murderous lunatic.
It is evident that Norway is anti-Israel and pro-Palestine.  I am not capable of comprehending this, given Norway's claim of being "the peace country."

These points are important to consider, and I hope, for their own sake, Norwegians get some common sense.   Conservatives are not responsible for this man's horrible act of terrorism, and any rational person should be able to see that acts of violence on the part of those opposed to jihad are not only hypocritical, but also counter-productive (not to mention horrible).  It saddens me that "Islamophobes" are labelled as "extreme far-right."  "Islamophobia" is not racism.  Any rational person should be able to distinguish between the two.  The reason I put that in quotation marks is that it is a label with an (unjustifiably) negative connotation.

I will reiterate something I said in a previous post: I do not hate Muslims in general.  I hate jihadists, Muslim extremists, and Sharia law.  I hate Islam's treatment of women and homosexuals.  I hate some Muslims' and Islamic nations' views of Jews and Israel.  I hate the hatred these Muslims spout and act upon.  I hate the hatred Islam engenders.  I am making a distinction between Muslims and Islam here.  Islam is a hateful and oppressive religion.  Not all Muslims are hateful or oppressive.  The vast majority of Muslims are not violent.  For the record, I also hate extreme Christianity.  I hate extremism.  I hate violence.  And I hate unjustified hatred.  I believe my hatred is justified.  I realize that I failed to effectively communicate my views in that previous post, and I apologize for that.  Hopefully I managed to clarify my views in this post.

Furthermore, I hate the bleeding-hearts who hatefully accuse conservatives of unjustified hatred.  Yes, some conservatives do posses unjustified hatred.  But, the majority of conservatives are much less hateful than most bleeding-hearts realize.  Any rational person should be able to distinguish between uncompassionate, frank discourse and hatred.  Over 60,000 people have died as a result of Islamic terrorism.  Islam is a threat.  Although most Mulsims are not a threat, it is difficult to distinguish between the ones that are and the ones that aren't.  Western nations are slowly transforming into Islamic nations.

UPDATE: See also, this.  Norway is repulsively soft on criminals.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Horrors of Gay Pride

I am very critical of gay pride.  The concept of being proud of such a thing is absurd.  The actual parades showcase sexuality and immorality.  This morning, I watched an interview on the news with an organizer of a gay pride event in Vancouver, who said that people would have the opportunity to walk down a certain street naked during the gay pride events.  Is that how the gay community wants to represent itself?  Personally, as a homosexual person, the gay pride parade and its focus on sex offends me. 

I am neither proud of nor ashamed of my sexuality.  I would hope that it would be considered the least interesting thing about me.  But the gay pride events draw attention to sexuality, and those who participate seem to make their sexuality a significant aspect of themselves. 

I am an opponent of the concept of the gay community as well as gay pride.  Any other gay people who share my views, please speak up!  

British Columbia Politics is Getting More Interesting

The British Columbia Conservative Party is a minor party with zero seats.  If voters in BC want to vote for a party that might actually win the election, they must choose between the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP).  The Liberal Party is not affiliated with the national Liberal Party, and they are considered farther-right.  They are the major centre-right party in BC, although they are probably around the centre.  The NDP is a social democratic party (i.e. centre-left).  Many people in BC are fed up with the Liberal Party, but the NDP is also unappealing to many people.  I hope that the Conservative Party manages to gain traction in the coming years, although I may not be able to vote for them (as I may not live in BC).  In Canada's federal elections of 2011 and 2006, BC gave the 4th highest percentage of its votes to the Conservative Party (after Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, in that order; the territory of Nunavut also gave a higher percentage of its votes to the Conservatives).  The coast of BC, where most of the population lives, is generally more liberal, while the interior is more conservative.  There are also some conservative areas on or near the coast, such as the Fraser Valley (for example, Abbotsford and Chilliwack), some suburbs of Vancouver (for example, Richmond, Delta, Langley, White Rock, North Vancouver and Maple Ridge), and some areas of Vancouver Island (for example, Parksville); and there are some liberal areas in the interior (such as the hippie haven of Nelson).  

It is evident that British Columbians would like an alternative party to vote for, and the BC Conservatives appear to have an opportunity to grow.  In fact, a recent poll shows that the Conservatives' support is at 18 percent, compared to the 2 percent of the popular vote they received in the most recent provincial election (2009).  In may, the party elected John Cummins as its leader, and his ideas are allowing him to gain support.
A proposed rapid transit line in the Vancouver suburbs of Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Port Moody, called the Evergreen Line, is at the heart of an issue for which John Cummins has received recent media attention.  An increase in the gas tax has been proposed as the method by which to pay for this tranist line.  However, Cummins is saying that the line can be payed for by municipalities, which could make butget cuts to pay for the line.
That Mustel poll was taken in May. It showed the Liberals on top with 37 per cent support, the NDP right behind with 35 per cent, and the B.C. Conservatives in third with 18 per cent. 
That's an 11-point jump for the Conservatives since December. Who knows how high Tory support could grow, as gas-tax grumpiness grows? 
"It's not just the Lower Mainland," said Cummins. " People are fed up with high taxes everywhere. They know they're being pinched. No one has been standing up for them." 
He said the party's membership is growing. Donations are increasing. The plan to run candidates in every riding is on pace. 
And the Liberals are sweating, because they know Cummins could split the right-wing vote, and allow the New Democrats to sneak back into power.
Who knows how high Conservative Party support will grow?  I am optimistic that their policies will be popular with British Columbians, and their popularity will grow as more people believe that they might be able to win some seats.  Both current major BC parties support the gas tax.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Formatting Issues

I have been having problems with inconsistent formatting.  For example, my below post contains inconsistent spacing between the lines (in the quotes), as well as several blank spaces between paragraphs that shouldn't be there.  I posted a question on Google Help.  As I said in the question, I have minimal knowledge of computers and I don't understand most things when it comes to computers.  I do have some knowledge of programming, but none that is applicable to blogging.  If anyone who reads this might have a solution, please let me know by either commenting to this post or answering my question.

UPDATE: I think I've figured it out...

Attack in Norway, Islam in Europe, and Multiculturalism

(Note: The death toll  of the terrorist attack in Norway has been reduced to 76.) 

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian bomber, has been described as a Right-wing Islamophobic Christian who wanted to start a revolution in Europe agains multiculturalism and Islam. 

I consider Islam a threat.  I believe the policy of multiculturalism is idiotic, since I do not believe Islam allows for multiculturalism.  I oppose courts adopting Sharia law.  I strongly support Israel, because it is a mordern nation, in contrast to the 7th century nations that surround it, where women are oppressed and gays are persecuted.  As with many other left-wing positions, I am simply confused by the left’s opposition of Israel, seeing as how they venerate human rights and how those Islamic nations have such poor human rights.  

In Norway, the population of Muslims is increasing:

Norway has recently tightened its liberal immigration and asylum rules in the midst of a longstanding debate about assimilation and multiculturalism. Despite Norway’s oil wealth and low unemployment, there has been a growing concern over the increasing size of the Muslim population, especially after Sept. 11 and the Danish crisis over the publication in late 2005 of cartoons depicting Muhammad, which were published in Norway, too.
But the Muslim population is growing, and Islam is now the country’s second-largest religion. The impact of an increasing, and increasingly visible, Muslim population in a relatively monoethnic, liberal and egalitarian Norway has led to a surge in popularity for the anti-immigration Progress Party, now the second-largest party in Parliament. And it appears to have been one of the triggers to the massacre carried out here on Norway’s white elite. The suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, claims he was compelled to act by the failure of mainstream politicians — including those in the Progress Party — to stem the Islamic tide.
I applaud Norway for its tightening of immigration rules and I applaud Norwegians for supporting the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet).  I admire the leader of the Progress Party, Siv Jensen, based on what I know about her.

The city of Malmö, Sweden is the quintessential example of Islamization in Europe.  Apparently, Malmö is one quarter Muslim.
But despite Malmö's usually placid appearance, this experiment in multiculturalism has not gone well. In the Rosengaard section of Malmö, a housing project made up primarily of immigrants, fire and emergency workers will no longer enter without police protection.
Unemployment in Rosengaard is reported to be 70 percent. An immigrant-fueled crime wave affects one of every three Malmö families each year. The number of rapes has tripled in 20 years.

But Malmö has been so accommodating toward immigrant Muslims that a local Muslim politician, Adly Abu Hajar, has declared that "The best Islamic state is Sweden!"

Jews Cannot Walk The Streets

Don't ask Malmö's Jews to give the city the same glowing assessment. Jews who dare walk the streets wearing their yarmulkes risk being beaten up.

"It's true. Jews cannot walk the streets of Malmö and show that they're Jews," said Lars Hedegaard.

Hedegaard lives across the water from Malmö in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was a columnist for one of Denmark's largest newspapers. He says pro-Israel demonstrations in Malmö, like the ones during the fighting in Gaza earlier this year, were met with rocks, bottles and pipe bombs from Arabs and Leftists.

"I was there for demonstration; a pro-Israeli demonstration with about 400 or 500 people," Hedegaard told CBN News. "Jews and non-Jews, and I came over to cover it. The police allowed, I'd say a hundred Palestinians or Arabs to shout and threaten and throw bombs and rockets at us. A homemade bomb landed about ten yards from me, and went off with a big bang. And now of course, I thought the police were going to jump these guys, get them out of the way. They didn't. They just let them stand there."

Swede Ted Ekeroth helped film the Arab-Left counter-demonstrations. He saw Arabs throwing rocks at a 90-year-old holocaust survivor.

"I filmed the police chief and asked him why are they not reacting to this," Ekeroth said. "Why are they not doing anything? And he simply answered, 'It's their right according to the Swedish constitution.' We apparently did not have the same right, because we were forced out of there. Our manifestation for Israel is always peaceful, and theirs is always the quite opposite -- Death, hate and killing of Jews. They come and they shout different slogans," he continued. "It can be everything from Arabic slogans inciting killing of Jews to in Swedish and Danish, 'Kill the Jews.'

Political Alliance Against Israel

And like all over the Western world, some on the Left, along with Arabs and Muslims and anarchists, have formed a political alliance against Israel and Jews. They demonstrate together, and in Sweden, they vote together. Muslims are a core constituency of the Left.

The immigrant issue a big reason the right-wing Swedish Democrats are the fastest growing political party in the country.

Matthias Karlsson is the Swedish Democrats' Press Secretary

"In many parts of Sweden, people are, as I said, fed up," Karlsson said. "And they're being pushed too far and they want to make a stand."

Fascist and Bigoted?

Swedish Democrats, who stand for traditional Christian values and limits on immigration, have been stigmatized by the Swedish media as fascist and bigoted.

Erik Almqvuist is national youth leader for the Swedish Democrats.

"The media has tried to portray us as extremists, racists," he said. "People think we're almost inhuman"

Almqvuist faces regular death threats, and was almost killed recently in a Left-wing knife attack.

"The multicultural model in Sweden has polarized society," Almqvuist explained. "We have a political polarization. We have also an ethnic polarization. And the extremes are growing and it's harder and harder to get to consensus."

Hedegaard says as Malmö goes, so goes the rest of Sweden.

"I think the best prediction is that Sweden will have a Muslim majority by 2049, so we know where that country's going," he said.

Given the heavy immigration to Europe by Muslims, anti-Islamic parties are gaining popularity in Europe.  Other right-wing anti-Islam parties in Europe include: Austria’s Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs), Belgium’s Vlaams Belang (based in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium), Denmark’s Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti), Finland’s True Finns (Perussuomalaiset), Netherland’s Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid) (which is led by the admirable Geert Wilders), Sweden’s aforementioned Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna), and Switzerland’s Swiss People’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei).  

In Switzerland, a constitutional amendment was approved in 2009 banning the construction of minarets (the spires at the tops of mosques).  Several locations in Europe have banned the wearing of the hajib (Islamic headscarves) in certain locations, such as schools.  Personally, I disagree with the Swiss amendment banning the construction of minarets, because it seems purely symbolic to me and I don’t see its practical value.  I’m not sure why the hijab is being banned in certain places.  I believe the threat of the spread of Islam should be dealt with more pragmatically. 

Back to Anders Behring Breivik, regardless of his ideology, he is a murderer.  I do not support violence (except for when it is necessary, such as during war).  I condemn his actions strongly.  Anti-Islamism and right-wing ideologies are not generally violent.  I do not support extremism of any kind.  I applaud the efforts of certain non-violent Europeans who mean to rid Europe of multiculturalist policies that harm its native cultures.  In addition to condemning his violence, I am disappointed that Breivik’s terrorist attack may have undermined those efforts. 

Friday's massacre in Norway has placed a renewed focus on the far-right after the killer claimed to have links with extreme right-wing parties in Europe. The parties have quickly responded by condemning the attacks.

I disagree with labelling these parties and these movements as extreme far right or as far right.

I would also like to say that, while I strongly oppose multiculturalism, the spread of Islam, and Sharia law, I do not hate Muslims in general, nor do I believe all Muslims are extremists or terrorists.  The fact, is, however, the spread of Islam (in its current form) poses a threat to Western society.  We cannot let this abhorrent act of terrorism undermine the movement against the spread of Islam.  It is important to remain peaceful and not sink to the Islamists’ level.

UPDATE: Please see the second-to-last paragraph of this post for clarification of my views on Islam.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

So Much Death

At least 43 people have died in a train crash in China.

Six people were killed at a shooting at a birthday party in Texas.

Thousands are thought to be dead as the result of the famine in Somalia.

And the death toll of the attacks in Norway has risen to 94.

So why is Amy Winehouse receiving so much attention?  Yes, she died, and that is unfortunate, but how is her death any more tragic than those of the thousands of other people who died?  What has Amy Winehouse contributed to society that is so significant that her death should receive so much attention?  I do not understand this.  I do not understand why celebrities are placed on these pedestals that elevate them above the rest of society.  I do not mean any disrespect to Amy Winehouse or her family.  I just don't understand the inequality.

The Green (and Red) Economy

An electric car company, based in Salinas, California, is the latest example of a "green" company that cannot sustain itself, even with the assistance of the taxpayers.  Here is an excerpt from an excellent article at Forbes  (and thanks to Vicki at Frugal Café for citing that article): the name of environmental activism, and most particularly global warming, government is squandering billions of dollars each year giving taxpayer money to companies that have no hope of producing a marketable product. Companies like Green Vehicles pocket the money and then go bankrupt. Other companies, like wind and solar power companies, perpetually maintain their station at the government pork trough, yet never produce products at a remotely competitive price. As a result, money that could have and would have been invested in goods and services that actually improve people’s lives is instead flushed down the big green toilet.
There is nothing I need to say that isn't said in that article.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Glitter Makes One Hell of an Argument

Gay activists threw glitter over the lobby at the Bachmann & Associates therapy clinic.
LGBT activist Nick Espinosa took responsibility for the actions via Twitter, Facebook and a statement that was posted online.
“Michele and Marcus Bachmann think gay people are barbarians? I think its clear to everyone who the real barbarians are, based on the Bachmanns’ archaic views on LGBT equality,” Espinosa, who was behind other glittery protests, said in the statement.
I believe Nick Espinosa should be arrested (maybe for assault, or at least mischief).

All these people are doing with these protests is demonstrating that gay people are, in fact, barbarians.  They are also demonstrating that gay people are petty and childish.

I largely agree with B. Daniel Blatt.

I also agree with Chris Barron:
...Barron says the protests are just making it easier for homophobia to persist.
"No rational person can look at that behavior and think that this is actually good for average gay people," Barron told the DailyCaller's Matt Lewis. "All it does is reinforce the worst, most negative, nasty stereotypes about gay people."

Terror in Norway

One of the world's safest cities, Oslo, Norway, was bombed today, resulting in 7 deaths.
Residents were stunned by the blast and the possibility that their placid city, which hosts the annual ceremony awarding the Nobel Peace Prize, had become the target of a large terrorist attack.
A jihadist group is thought to be responsible for the bombing.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but Norway has been singled out as a target by Al Qaeda. 
Almost exactly a year ago, three foreign-born Norwegian residents suspected of being affiliated with Al Qaeda were arrested on suspicion of plotting an attack. 
Last week, Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi-born cleric who lives in Norway, was charged with terrorism after allegedly threatening politicians with death if Norwegian authorities deport him. Krekar is the founder of the militant Kurdish Islamist group Ansar Al Islam. 
In 2003, an audiotape by Ayman Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as leader of Al Qaeda after his death in May, urged militants to attack the U.S., Britain, Australia and Norway. 
Many Norwegians were puzzled at the inclusion of their country on the list; explanations centered on Norway's participation in the war in Afghanistan.
Norway, like many other European countries, has a problem with their growing Muslim population.  
"It's hard to be a Norwegian in Norway." The Norwegians, as the Swedes and other EU member states, have been embarking on a 'hara kiri' self inflicted cultural-ethnic suicide of their own country.
Via Michelle Malkin, Muslims in Norway have taken it upon themselves to enforce their beliefs on others in a culturally diverse neighborhood of Oslo:
One of Oslo’s most multi-cultural neighborhoods, Grønland, has suddenly emerged as an area far from the ideals of cultural and religious tolerance. Many immigrants claim it’s “more Muslim” than the countries they left, and newspaper Aftenposten reports that both they and others face harassment on the streets if they don’t conform to a code of conduct that some stricter Muslims try to impose.
The leftist policy of multiculturalism is backfiring spectacularly.  Not only is it not having the desired effect (i.e. a society where a mosaic of cultures can coexist peacefully), but the native culture is being enveloped by the oppressive, misogynistic, homophobic culture of Islam.  The fact is that Sharia-law compliant Islam is not compatible with any other culture, ideology, or belief system.  That fact is a dangerous one to ignore.  We, in the Western world, cannot be blinded by our desire to be open-minded and by our love of diversity, because doing so has proven to be deadly.

Hopefully some good can come out of this terror attack.  Hopefully, this serves as a wake-up call to those who do not realize the threat that Islam poses to the West.  However, something tells me that it won't.

UPDATE: Nine or ten people were shot and killed by a gunman at a summer camp on the island of Utøya outside Oslo.  The total death toll of both incidents seems to be rising.

Also, it hasn't been confirmed that a jihadist group is responsible for this attack.

UPDATE: It has become evident that the bomber was a 32-year old Norwegian (i.e. ethnically Norwegian) man:
After the shooting, the police seized a 32-year-old Norwegian man on the island, according to the police and Justice Minister Knut Storberget. The acting chief of police, Sveinung Sponheim, said the suspect, who is not known to have any ties to Islamic extremists, had also been seen in Oslo before the explosions. The police and other authorities declined to say what the suspect’s motivations might have been, but many speculated that the target was Mr. Stoltenberg’s liberal government.
I rescind all comments I made about the connection between jihadists and this attack.  However, I stand by everything else I said about Sharia-compliant Islam.  Perhaps this attack cannot serve as the wake-up call I was hoping it would serve as, but, at the very least, hopefully this incident will spread awareness of Sharia reaching into Western society.  It shouldn't take an unfortunate incident such as this terrorist attack to raise awareness about the danger Islam poses, but it appears that Islam has nothing to do with this attack.

Something I neglected to mention in my original post was that the bomb explosion occurred in a government building in central Oslo.  This government building is the location of the Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, who belongs to the Norwegian Labor Party.  Also, the sumper camp on the island of Utøya was affiliated with the Norwegian Labor Party.  And, I will point out the word "liberal" is usually reserved for a small-government (economically right and socially left) ideology in Europe.  The Labor Party is not liberal in the European sense, but rather socialist.  Stoltenberg's government consists of a coalition between the Labor Party, the further left Socialist Left Party, and the centrist Centre Party.

UPDATE: There have now been at least 87 confirmed deaths as a result of the attacks in Norway.  At least 80 people died as a result of the shooting spree on the island of Utøya and 7 people died as a result of the bomb in central Oslo.  The shooter is reported to have ties to right-wing extremists.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Anger of the Green Party is Proportional to my Happiness

The government of Canada is cutting funding to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency by 43.1%, shortly after a 6.9% cut.  Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party, is outraged:

Harper’s Throne Speech in June committed to improving the environmental assessment process, and instead he is driving a stake into its heart, it makes absolutely no sense to be giving $1.4 billion a year in subsidies to the oil and gas industry while allotting a measly $17 million to CEAA. In what way is that protecting our environment? 
I disagree with subsidies to oil companies, but this is good news to me.  Anything that infuriates Elizabeth May makes me happy (in general). 
The priorities of the Harper government are obviously not in line with those of Canadians.
A poll released this week found 45 per cent of surveyed Canadians said the federal government should make health care — a topic the government and federal politicians are often shy to talk about — a priority in next week's budget.  That's compared to 35 per cent who chose the economy, and 15 per cent who picked the environment.
Emphasis added.
In a throne speech, Harper stated:
“Our Government is committed to developing Canada's extraordinary resource wealth in a way that protects the environment. It will support major new clean energy projects of national or regional significance, such as the planned Lower Churchill hydroelectricity project in Atlantic Canada. It will engage the provinces, territories and industry on ways to improve the regulatory and environmental assessment process for resource projects, while ensuring meaningful consultation with affected communities, including Aboriginal communities.”
Perhaps eliminating excess spending on this environmental agency is what Harper meant when he said the government will “improve the regulatory and environmental assessment process for resource projects.”

I direct you to Bjørn Lomborg, whose views are similar to mine:
Bjorn Lomborg argues that many of the elaborate and expensive actions now being considered to stop global warming will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, are often based on emotional rather than strictly scientific assumptions, and may very well have little impact on the world's temperature for hundreds of years. Rather than starting with the most radical procedures, Lomborg argues that we should first focus our resources on more immediate concerns, such as fighting malaria and HIV/AIDS and assuring and maintaining a safe, fresh water supply-which can be addressed at a fraction of the cost and save millions of lives within our lifetime. He asks why the debate over climate change has stifled rational dialogue and killed meaningful dissent.
 I don't agree with him about spending money on fighting malaria and HIV/AIDS and water, but with everything else I agree.

The radical environmental movement is largely based upon emotion and fear rather than rational analysis.  Protecting the environment should be a priority, but it should be done within reasonability.  The Earth belongs to humans, and it is ours to exploit for our own personal gain.  But we have to keep in mind that protecting the environment is also in our best interest.  We just can’t let emotion dictate how we approach environmental protection.

Industrial activity does not equal environmental destruction.  Industrial sites can be reclaimed. In addition, the environmental friendliness of industrial practices has drastically improved in recent decades.  The role environmental regulations has played in that should not be ignored, but, in my opinion, the reach of environmental regulations is overkill.  It just doesn’t make sense to impede business with regulations, especially regulations that have questionable efficacy.  In some cases, environmentally friendly business practices are good for business.  For example, environmentally friendly products are ubiquitous and the efficient use of energy saves money.  

This brings me back to the original topic of this post, the federal government’s cut on the funding for the CEAA.  In addition to the obvious advantage (decrease in government is (generally) always good), I applaud this move for the reasons above.  That Elizabeth May and the Green Party are angry is always a bonus.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Some Existentialist Solipsism

To be honest, blogging for me has been more of a chore than anything for the past few days (mostly because I have been quite busy), and I haven't had the energy to spend as much time writing posts than I did before.  The number of visitors to my blog has very expectedly dropped off, and that is a reason (though not the main one) it has become a chore.  As I have previously said, I do get a lot out of blogging, but I'm starting to wonder if there is any point.  To readers: please let me know if you are still reading.  Also, I would appreciate your honest feedback on my blog.  I would very much appreciate some suggestions to improve it, if you have any.

Don't get me wrong, I do want to continue blogging.  It has been a very enjoyable endeavor and well worth whatever effort I have put into it.  I realize that, given the vast amount of conservative blogs, I need to do something different to sustain readers.  I have been thinking of ways to do that, but my ideas are still ideas that I need to contemplate further.  I really hope that anyone who reads this will come back.  Since my blog's inception, I have been experimenting with different writing styles.  Also, I was considering re-designing my blog.  I like its current design, but this is just the default design that Blogger offered (actually, when I first started it, I accidentally skipped over the part where you select the design).  I have customized it a bit, however, and I really like how my blog looks now.  (Although, I would like to reduce the clutter at the side; if you know how to reduce the "About Me" info (by which I mean:  can I show maybe the first few sentences and then insert a jump or something?)  I do not want to rewrite that, because it actually took me a long time to write that and I am satisfied with it (and, I personally think the more relevant information about a blogger, the better).)

The response I get to this post will ultimately determine what I do in the future.  The fact is that I haven't received very many comments (or visitors) recently.  Like I said, I need to do more to differentiate myself from other conservative bloggers and maintain a certain level of quality in my writing.  I will write a post in the near future once I have some sort of idea of what I am going to do (so, please check back in).  For now, I would very much appreciate feedback.  Also, I have added a few more blogs to my blogroll, but I would love suggestions for more blogs to add (I also plan on actively looking for more to add to my blogroll, starting with Instapundit).  Also, I will say now that I will delete any blog from my blogroll that isn't updated in 2 weeks.

Because there is a lot going on in my life at the moment (and sometimes I just don't feel like turning my computer on, dammit), I cannot promise to update my blog consistently.  If I write a post that can wait, I may pre-schedule its publication if I have already published other posts recently.  Also, there is definitely a pattern to posts that get a lot of comments that I can discern, so I will take that into consideration (because I do like getting comments).  My intention for writing this post is to try to figure out what I am going to do in the future.  My recent lack of visitors is the reason for this.  Frankly, blogging is boring when you don't have visitors and comments.  Also, if there is anything about my blog that you like, let me know what that is so I can expand upon that if possible.  What I do know is that I have a unique perspective.  I just haven't yet figured out how to use it.    

Sorry if this post was confusing or self-contradictory.  Also, there was something I thought of when I was writing this that I wanted to say, but I now forget what it is.  If it comes to me, I might update this post later (which I might also do if I think of anything else I want to say).

Crisis in Greece

The various debt crises in Europe started in 2008 because of the worldwide late 2000's financial crisis.  Greece has suffered the worst economic crisis.

In 1974, when Greece established democracy after the right-wing military junta fell, the government began running large deficits so it could finance public sector jobs and social services in an attempt to mainstream its left-of-centre population.  Because of widespread tax evasion, corruption, and inefficient bureaucracy, Greece has had to rely upon borrowing to sustain its spending.  In recent years, the cost of borrowing has increased dramatically (because of the debt), so Greece entered an economic crisis and it could no longer sustain its level of spending.  This led to the enacting of severe austerity measures.

The citizens of Greece have been protesting these austerity measures, which has resulted in riots.  My question is, what do they want to happen?  There is no other realistic alternative to these austerity measures (at least, none that I am aware of), so why are they protesting?

The crisis in Greece presents a problem to the entire Eurozone because of how interconnected the economies of each of its member states are.  Measures designed to stabilize the Eurozone have been enacted by many other Eurozone members, most notably Germany.  In 2010, Germany made a multi-million euro payment to Greece and other financially unstable nations.  The constitutionality of the bailout is currently being contested in Germany.

The European nations of Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and Iceland have also suffered economic crises.

Cut, Cap and Balance

Conservatives in the house have proposed a plan called “Cut, Cap and Balance” that would consist of “substantial spending cuts, ...a statutory spending cap, and Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.” 

Senators McConnell (R-KY) and Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have proposed a plan that the conservatives who have proposed the “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act” have deemed the “Cut, Run, and Hide Plan.”
This plan consists of a debt ceiling increase of $2.5 trillion “without any guaranteed spending cuts or reforms.” 

According to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the real problem isn’t the debt ceiling, it is the debt.  If the disaster is to be averted, then whatever plan is adopted must have a realistic, long-term solution to the debt problem. 

In my opinion, the only real solution would be harsh budget cuts.  Because of President Obama, the US has immense debt and the best solution would be to cut spending harshly, which would stimulate the economy, which would provide government revenue.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marco Rubio's Wisdom

On CBS's Face the Nation, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) says this on the debt problem:

Well, certainly the debt limit is an issue but I think the bigger issue here is the debt and I think what troubles me, Bob, is that no one is focusing on the real problem here. The real-- the real problem here is not the debt limit, the real problem here is the debt and a lack of a credible plan to deal with the debt. And it’s not me saying, it is the rating houses are saying it. If you read the S&P report, they made it very clear that simply raising the debt limit is not enough it needs to be accompanied by some serious effort to credibly deal with the American’s debt problem. And if that is not what we do we’re going to have a big problem, perhaps bigger than anything the administration has been talking about.  
...I think everybody in Washington would like to see more revenues. The question is number one how do you get more revenues? And number two, what do you do with it? I think more revenue should come from economic growth. And I think it should come from that because I think it’s impossible for it to come from tax increases. None of the tax increases the President is proposing solves the problem. They don’t raise enough money. In fact, they make it worse. They kill jobs. And by the way, I don’t trust Washington, because they have shown time and again that any time they get their hands on more money, they don’t use it to pay or avoid debt, they use it to grow the government. So, that’s what I’m in favor of. I’m in favor of-- of more revenue that comes from economic growth, the creation of new jobs. And if you talk to job creators, not politicians, not presidents, you talk to job creators, they will tell you that what they are looking for is a fair and simpler tax code, so I do support tax reform and I think there is a lot of support for tax reform in Washington. And they are looking for some regulatory reform as well because they think these regulations that are being imposed make America a more unfriendly place to do business.
And this on entitlements:
I come from a state that has a massive number of retirees and I’ve stood before cameras like this and made it very clear that if we don’t do something to save Medicare and Social Security they will bankrupt themselves and bankrupt our country. That those-- those programs are unsustainable as they are currently structured, that we are going to lose those programs unless we do something to deal with it. I did that during the campaign and everybody told me I’d lost my mind in terms of talking about these issues. So I think as far as I am concerned and many like me, we have stepped up and talked about some of these issues that face America. I mean, senator, I’m sorry, Representative Ryan, Congressman Ryan has played a terrible political price early on this year for even offering a potential solution to some of these problems. 
...we don’t have to do anything for current beneficiaries, people like my mom or people near retirement. I do think we have to look at the retirement age. I do pe-- do think that people like me, I’m forty, just turn forty a month ago, people like me have to accept the fact that there will not be a Social Security for us, unless we are willing to retire a little bit later. That’s-- that’s-- and people in my generation are going to have to accept that. And I am open to other people’s suggestions. Absolutely, I’m open to people’s suggestions, because I want to save Social Security and I want to save Medicare. As far as our solutions are concerned to the overall problem I think a credible solution to our debt problem has to have two components. It has to have budgetary reforms, in essence a de-- decrease in spending, of at least four trillion dollars or more and it has to come with some sort of growth enhancers, something that helps grow our economy. You cannot get yourself out of this debt problem at nine percent unemployment with over twenty-four million Americans either unemployed or underemployed.

Some Commentary on Obama's Leadership

President Obama has always been confusing to me.  It seems as if he is expecting the Republican-controlled house to to his job for him.  In the first post I wrote for this blog, I said this:
Obama talked about his leadership concerning people that have said that his leadership has been insufficient.  He said that he has had leadership.  He then said, “At a certain point, congress members need to do their job.”  He said he is doing all the work and that congress is not doing anything.  He said they are not making tough choices and not leading.  He said that he has been working on Afghanistan, bin Laden, and Greece, and that congress needs to lead on the domestic front.  This sentiment of his is important, because this part effectively summarizes his entire presidency.  He has relied on others to lead, while he takes credit for the success of others, again reminding America that he was in charge during the death of Osama bin Laden.  He heavily criticized congress for not leading with regards to the economy, while they, unlike Democrats, have put forward a budget. 
The reason Obama confuses me so much is that he says he is a leader but he is always saying that Republicans have the responsibility to lead when it comes to the budget and debt.

Regarding the debt ceiling debate, Obama has repeated ad nauseam his desire for a balanced approach, one that involves both spending cuts and tax increases, and one that reduces the deficit by $4 trillion.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but Obama has not offered specific details on his plan.  Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) says this:
OK, so where’s the plan? Where’s the president’s plan? I’ve never seen a piece of paper with the president’s name on it that’s his plan to solve this crisis. I’ve seen press conferences. I’ve seen lectures that he’s given to the Congress. I’ve seen these press avails where the camera comes in and takes a bunch of pictures. I haven’t seen a plan. Where is the president’s plan?
B. Daniel Blatt adds this:
Oh, and remember that 36-hour deadline the president was giving House Republicans to come up with a plan, a deadline which they wisely did not meet? Why did the president not come up with his own plan in that timeframe?
He was asking Republicans to do something that he himself refused to do. Guess that’s what you call leading from behind?