Romance is in the air in Baghdad as war-weary Iraqis celebrate Valentine’s Day after a sharp drop in violence, allowing lovers to cautiously hold hands in parks and to buy gifts for their sweethearts.
Public courtship and more daring clothing for women are increasing after years of growing intolerance, perhaps signaling the Islamic dogma and conservatism that accompanied Iraq’s slide into sectarian slaughter may be losing their grip.
“You cannot imagine how happy I am today,” said Usama Abdul-Wahab Khatab, a recent university graduate nestled beside his girlfriend at a riverside Baghdad park.
A year earlier, the park shook to the sounds of artillery fire that rained on the U.S. diplomatic and military Green Zone complex across the river, launched by religious militias whose reign also kept unmarried men and women apart.
Although Iraq is predominantly Muslim, celebration of an originally Western day for lovers became popular after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
Sunday, February 15th, 2009
Buried inside the unread, $787 billion ($789 billion? $800 billion?) bill is…
…a cap on executive salaries. The Washington Post reported:
The bill, which President Obama is expected to sign into law next week, limits bonuses for executives at all financial institutions receiving government funds to no more than a third of their annual compensation. The bonuses must be paid in company stock that can be redeemed only when the government investment has been repaid. With the measure, lawmakers seek to address public outrage over extravagant Wall Street paydays even as taxpayers bail out the industry.
That will cause executives who can get jobs elsewhere to leave for bonuses elsewhere, leaving behind the incompetent — who can then go work for the Cabinet, provided that they fail to pay their taxes.
Obamanomics: Destroying the American economy, one billion at a time.
Guess who slipped that into the bill? None other than Senator Christopher Dodd, who is embroiled in his own scandal.
All along, there has been this sense of rushing to pass some sort of stimulus bill, any sort, in a whole big hurry so it could be signed by the phony deadline of President’s Day. Debate in both houses had to be limited to put it through. The conference committee’s deliberations had to be rushed. And then, when the final bill was ready to be voted on, they had one night in the House and less than 24 hours in the Senate to read the whole thing. Ohio’s Senator Sherrod Brown had to be flown back from his mother’s memorial service in order to cast the deciding vote on Friday. But what was the big hurry? As the New York Post points out, President Obama has gone out of town to Chicago for Valentine’s Day and won’t be back to sign the bill until Tuesday. Certainly, given that this is the largest spending bill in our nation’s history, there could have been enough time allotted for them to actually read what they were voting on? But no. They had to hurry it up and forget about reading the thing.
Perhaps the hurry was so that Nancy Pelosi could catch her plane to Italy Friday evening. Or maybe they were just afraid to let the bill sit out there for a long weekend while politicians and journalists pored over the thing and kept holding up a boondoggle here and a boondoggle there for public ridicule that such items are being counted as emergency stimulus. Maybe they were afraid of losing their one-vote margin in the Senate if more people actually found out what was in the bill. On Friday we were facing a three-day weekend with the federal government shut down. They could have voted on Tuesday and sent the bill to President Obama on Tuesday just as it is going to go now. But nooooo, we had to have this whole manufactured rush to get this turkey passed without people reading the thing just so it could sit around for three days waiting for the President to come back to town and sign it.
Newsweek magazine, which has given us many of the most damaging deceptions about America in recent years (remember the “Koran-Down-the-Toilet” hoax?), now weighs in with a pretentious and embarrassingly ignorant cover story, “We Are All Socialists Now.” To be sure, the basic theme–that the huge “stimulus” and the big big big TARP is leading once-capitalist America down the dangerous road to socialism–is not limited to the skinny weekly. You hear it all over the place, from Right to Left, from talk radio to the evening news (or so I am told; personally, I haven’t watched an evening news broadcast since 1987).
There’s a element of truth to the basic theme (although not to the headline): the state is getting more and more deeply involved in business, even taking controlling interests in some private companies. And the state is even trying to “make policy” for private companies they do not control, but merely “help” with “infusions of capital,” as in the recent call for salary caps for certain CEOs. So state power is growing at the expense of corporations.
But that’s not socialism. Socialism rests on a firm theoretical bedrock: the abolition of private property. I haven’t heard anyone this side of Barney Frank calling for any such thing. What is happening now–and Newsweek is honest enough to say so down in the body of the article–is an expansion of the state’s role, an increase in public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and much more state regulation of business. Yes, it’s very “European,” and some of the Europeans even call it “social democracy,” but it isn’t.
It’s fascism. Nobody calls it by its proper name, for two basic reasons: first, because “fascism” has long since lost its actual, historical, content; it’s been a pure epithet for many decades. Lots of the people writing about current events like what Obama et. al. are doing, and wouldn’t want to stigmatize it with that “f” epithet.
Second, not one person in a thousand knows what fascist political economy was. Yet during the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to a spasm that had shaken the entire First World, and beyond. It was hailed as a “third way” between two failed systems (communism and capitalism), retaining the best of each. Private property was preserved, as the role of the state was expanded. This was necessary because the Great Depression was defined as a crisis “of the system,” not just a glitch “in the system.” And so Mussolini created the “Corporate State,” in which, in theory at least, the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and of course state management. Some of the big “Corporations” lasted a very long time; indeed some have only very recently been privatized, and the state still holds important chunks–so-called “golden shares”–in some of them.
Bridges TV founder and Chief Executive Muzzammil Hassan founded the TV network in 2004. According to a Reuters story at that time, “his wife came up with the idea in December 2001 while listening to the radio on a road trip.”:
“Some derogatory comments were being made about Muslims that offended her,” Hassan told Reuters ahead of Tuesday’s launch. “She was seven months pregnant, and she thought she didn’t want her kids growing up in this environment.”So he founded Bridges TV to combat negative perceptions of Muslims.
But now that he has beheaded his wife, I’m afraid this prominent moderate Muslim will only be feeding those negative perceptions.