Mark Steyn: Twilight of the West
The Eurovision Song Contest doesn’t get a lot of attention in the United States, but on the Continent it’s long been seen as the perfect Euro-metaphor. Years before the euro came along, it was the prototype pan-European institution, and predicated on the same assumptions. Eurovision took the national cultures that produced Mozart, Vivaldi, and Debussy, and in return gave us “Boom-Bang-a-Bang” (winner, 1969), “Ding-Ding-a-Dong” (winner, 1975), and “Diggi-Loo-Diggi-Ley” (winner, 1984). The euro took the mark, the lira, and the franc, and merged them to create the “Boom-Bang-a-Bang” of currencies.
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, found herself skewered like souvlaki on a Thessaloniki grill for suggesting the other day that the Greeks are a race of tax evaders. She’s right. Compared to Germans, your average Athenian has a noticeable aversion to declaring income. But that’s easy for her to say: Mme. Lagarde’s half-million-dollar remuneration from the IMF is tax-free, just a routine perk of the new transnational governing class. And, in the end, whether your broke European state has reasonably efficient tax collectors like the French or incompetent ones like the Greeks is relatively peripheral.
In the twilight of the West, America and Europe are still different but only to this extent: They’ve wound up taking separate paths to the same destination. Whether you get there via an artificial common currency for an invented pseudo-jurisdiction or through quantitative easing and the global decline of the dollar, whether you spend your final years in the care of Medicare or the National Health Service death panels, whether higher education is just another stage of cradle-to-grave welfare or you have a trillion dollars’ worth of personal college debt, in 2012 the advanced Western social-democratic citizen looks pretty similar, whether viewed from Greece or Germany, California or Quebec.
FP: No comment necessary.
“For the first time in recent American political history, we are witnessing a proxy battle between supporters and detractors of Israel, and it’s playing out in the Ninth District of New Jersey,” said one veteran campaign strategist who is knowledgeable about the district.
The race took an unprecedented turn on Monday when an Arabic campaign poster supporting Pascrell surfaced. It urged the “Arab diaspora community” to “elect the friend of the Arabs” and billed the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab] community,” according to a WFB translation of the sign.
“One side says, ‘We want this Jew out of office’ and, frankly, it’s pretty unsettling,” Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee based in Englewood Cliffs, told the Free Beacon. “They emphasized [Rothman] is a Jewish congressman.”
Others say they simply cannot recall a congressional race becoming a referendum on a candidate’s religion.
“A number of Arab-American constituents have come out with outrageous attacks on Rothman,” said Rosenbluth, whose newspaper is based in Englewood. “I haven’t heard a dual loyalty charge for years.”
At that point, things really “started to get ugly,” said NORPAC’s Chouake, explaining that “for the pro-Israel community, it’s not about Jewish or not-Jewish or helping an ethnic culture, but about believing there should be a homeland for a people oppressed and slaughtered for 2,000 years.”
“It’s a little bit scary,” said Chouake, who noted that massive voter registration drives in the Arab community have added at least 6,000 new names to the rolls. Some of those registrations have been disputed.
FP: Now suppose one of the candidates was a Muslim and there were calls to get “this Muslim out of office” – do you think it would have been tolerated?
Now consider the following:
A Palestinian Islamic terrorist and a man whose family members are top executives at Hezbollah TV are behind a new government-imposed requirement that the Dearborn Public Schools communicate with parents and students in Arabic, the language of the koran. PFLP Islamic Terrorist Imad Hamad, who also committed immigration and marriage fraud and had a planned award revoked by the FBI after I exposed him in a New York Post column, and his buddy, Osama Siblani, a Hezbollah supporter who has family members at the top of Al-Manar TV (and whose Arab American News is believed to be subsidized by Hezbollah money, though he gets your tax money as a “consultant” to Arab organizations that scam government grants), are behind this ridiculous decision. But they couldn’t have forced it without the help of the Obama Departments of Education and (in)Justice.
FP: Do you think Oabama DoJ would have intervened for a legal action by Jews to communicate in Hebrew?
Anyway, do you detect a pattern/trend here? One that Europeans would recognize?
French police searching for 10 suspects of North African origin who beat victims in Villeurbanne with hammers, iron bars.
FP: Perhaps they feel a better atmosphere for this sort of thing with the new administration.
PA minister claims Israel isn’t keeping its end of a bargain that ended a mass protest last month.
FP: As long as Israel does not learn that the only consequence of concessions is a perception of weakness, it fails to guarantee itself a future.
Council for Secular Humanism: Research Report: How Secular Humanists (and Everyone Else) Subsidize Religion in the United States
The home in the photo (above) is the $1.75 million mansion of the Reverend Randy White, the former head pastor of Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Florida. While some people may be bothered by the fact that there are pastors who live in multimillion dollar homes, this is old news to most. But here is what should bother you about these expensive homes: You are helping to pay for them! You pay for them indirectly, the same way local, state, and federal governments in the United States subsidize religion—to the tune of about $71 billion every year.
We mention Rev. White because he was the impetus for this article. White and his mansion came up in a class taught by lead author Ryan T. Cragun. In that discussion, the other authors asked how much Pastor White pays in taxes on his income. The answer wasn’t readily available. Only a handful of publications in the sociology of religion have examined the finances of religions, and they are largely aimed at telling religions how to increase donations.1 Nowhere did we find prior research summarizing and detailing religious finances and tax policy, so we decided to investigate it ourselves. This article is the result. It took some digging, but we think we now have a moderately clear understanding of the tax laws regarding religions in the United States. What we found suggests that religious institutions, if they were required to pay taxes the same as for-profit corporations do, would not have nearly as much money or influence as they enjoy in America today. In this article we estimate how much local, state, and federal governments subsidize religions.
FP: Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.
Barry Rubin: Where Did All the Billions of Dollars Given to the Palestinian Authority Go? (MUST READ)