Category Archives: Liberal Press

Obama Knew the Muslim World needed Democracy

Notable & Quotable – WSJ.com.

From an article in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Feb. 7:

Suddenly it seems everyone knew all along that President Mubarak was a villain and the U.S., who supported him until recently, was even worse. However it was actually former President George W. Bush who always believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and was broadly ridiculed by the Left for his convictions. . . .

Painful as it may be to admit, it was the despised George W. Bush who believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and incurred the scorn and mockery of the Left for his conviction. Everyone was sure—without knowing any Muslims—that the Western model of democracy could not be applied in a backward society like Iraq. Everyone knew that the neo-conservative belief in the universal desire for freedom and progress was naïve nonsense. It is possible that the critics were right, albeit for the wrong reasons. The prospect of stability and order seems to be at least as important to many people.

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Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood

Stephens: Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood – WSJ.com.

So you think they are moderates, eh?

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It’s what the good people on West 40th Street like to call a “Times Classic.” On Feb. 16, 1979, the New York Times ran a lengthy op-ed by Richard Falk, a professor of international law at Princeton, under the headline “Trusting Khomeini.”

“The depiction of [Khomeini] as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false,” wrote Mr. Falk. “What is also encouraging is that his entourage of close advisers is uniformly composed of moderate, progressive individuals.”

After carrying on in this vein for a few paragraphs, the professor concluded: “Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”

Whoops.

The Times is at it again. Last week, the paper published an op-ed from Essam El-Errian, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Council, who offered this soothing take on his organization: “We aim to achieve reform and rights for all: not just for the Muslim Brotherhood, not just for Muslims, but for all Egyptians.” Concurring with that view, Times reporter Nicholas Kulish wrote on Feb. 4 that members of the Brotherhood “come across as civic-minded people of faith.”

… Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), the Brotherhood’s founder, was an admirer of the fascist movements of his day, and he had similar ambitions for his own movement.

“Andalusia, Sicily, the Balkans, south Italy and the Roman sea islands were all Islamic lands that have to be restored to the homeland of Islam,” he wrote in a message dedicated to Muslim youth. “As Signor Mussolini believed that it was within his right to revive the Roman Empire . . . similarly it is our right to restore to the Islamic empire its glory.”

Today the Brotherhood has adopted a political strategy in keeping with Banna’s dictum that the movement must not over-reach on its way toward “[subjugating] every unjust ruler to its command”: “Each of these stages,” he cautioned his followers, “involves certain steps, branches and means.” Thus the Brotherhood has gone out of its way in recent weeks to appear in the most benign light, making an ally of former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and forswearing any immediate political ambitions.

But that doesn’t mean the Brothers don’t have an idea of what they’re aiming for. “We think highly of a country whose president is important, courageous and has a vision, which he presents in the U.N., in Geneva, and everywhere,” the Brotherhood’s Kamal al-Hilbawi told Iran’s Al-Alam TV earlier this month, referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust and 9/11 denials. “We think highly of a country . . . that confronts Western hegemony, and is scientifically and technologically advanced. Unfortunately, these characteristics can be found only in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I hope that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia will be like that.

Nor should there be any doubt about what the Brotherhood is aiming against. “Resistance is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny,” Muhammad Badie, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, sermonized in October. “The improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained . . . by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.

Such remarks may come as a rude shock to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who last week testified in Congress that the Brotherhood was “largely secular” (a remark his office later retracted). They may also surprise a coterie of Western analysts who are convinced that the Brotherhood is moving in a moderate direction and will only be further domesticated by participation in democratic politics. Yet the evidence for that supposition rests mainly on what the Brotherhood tells Westerners. What it says in Arabic is another story. …

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Pittsburgh’s Pension Woes Call for a Hail Mary

Pittsburgh’s Pension Woes Call for a Hail Mary – WSJ.com.

Citizens, hold on to your wallets…   we could blame the politicians, but … we elect them.  Duh?

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… By relying on outdated actuarial tables, making only minimum payments, and failing to limit benefits as the number of active workers paying into the plans fell, Pittsburgh has accumulated a $700 million unfunded liability, and its 29.5% funding level is among the lowest in the U.S.

Officials narrowly met an end-of-year deadline set by the state to present a plan for reaching a 50% funding level, which they hope will avert a possible state takeover of its three pension plans for city workers. . . .

Pittsburgh already devotes half of taxpayer dollars to debt, pensions and health-care costs for city workers. Under state oversight, that would rise to 70%, requiring large across-the-board cuts to public safety and other employees, and cuts to services in a city that already struggles to maintain its aging bridges and roads.

Pittsburgh continued using 1984 life-expectancy tables until at least 2003, failing to reflect gains in longevity. As the pool of retirees lived longer, their payouts were larger than the accounting anticipated, and annual contributions didn’t keep up.

Previous administrations have kind of avoided this issue and put it off. It’s not easy to deal with and not politically popular,” Mr. Ravenstahl said.

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