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Mark Steyn on the “youth are our future” narrative and the disaster it has spawned in the Middle East.
… Media types like to talk about “the narrative”: News is just another form of storytelling, and certain plot lines grab you more than others.
The easiest narrative of all is anything involving young people. “I believe that children are our future,” as the late Whitney Houston once asserted. And, even if Whitney hadn’t believed it, it would still, as a point of fact, be true. Any media narrative involving young people presupposes that they are the forces of progress, wresting the world from the grasping clutches of mean, vengeful old men and making it a better place.
In the West, young people actually believe this. Thus, in 2008, Barack Obama, being the preferred choice of America’s youth, was, by definition, the candidate of progress and the future. In humdrum reality, his idea of the future doesn’t seem to be any more futuristic than the pre-Thatcher statist wasteland of Britain in the Seventies, but that didn’t stop the massed ranks of fresh-faced youth chanting “We are the Hopeychange!” in adoring if glassy-eyed unison behind him at every campaign rally. Four years later, half of recent graduates can’t find full-time employment; Americans’ college debt is now larger than credit card debt; the number of young people with summer jobs is at a record low; and men in their late twenties and early thirties trudge upstairs every night to the same bedroom in which they slept as a kindergartner.
And that’s before they’re permanently buried by interest payments on the multitrillion-dollar debt and unfunded liabilities from Medicare. Yet in 2012 the rubes will still vote for Obama and be congratulated by the media for doing so. Because to be young is to vote for hope and change. …
… I’ve lost count of the times I’ve found myself sitting at dinner next to a Westernized Arab woman d’un certain age who was at college in the Fifties, Sixties or Seventies, and listened to her tell me that back then “covering” was for wizened old biddies in upcountry villages, the Islamic equivalent of gnarled Russian babushkas. The future belonged to modern, uncovered women like her and her classmates.
The assumptions of her generation were off by 180 degrees: The female graduating class of Cairo University in the Fifties looked little different from Vassar. Half-a-century later, every woman is hijabed to the hilt. Mohammad Qayoumi, now the president of San Jose State University, recently published some photographs from the Afghanistan he grew up in: The girls in high heels and pencil skirts in the Kabul record stores of the 1960s aren’t quite up to Carnaby Street cool, but they’d fit in in any HMV store in provincial England. Half a century later, it was forbidden by law for women to feel sunlight on their face, or leave the home without male permission. Even more amazing to my female dining companions, today you see more covered women in London’s East End or the Rosengård district of Malmö, Sweden, than you do in Tunis or Amman.
The mistake made by virtually the entire Western media during the Arab Spring was to assume that social progress is like technological progress – that, like the wheel or the internal combustion engine, women’s rights and gay rights cannot be disinvented. They can, very easily. In Egypt, the youth who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood are more fiercely Islamic than their grandparents who backed Nasser’s Revolution in 1952. In Tunisia, the young are more proscriptive than the secular old-timers who turned a blind eye to the country’s bars and brothels. In the developed world, we’re told that Westernization is “inevitable.” “Just wait and see,” say the blithely complacent inevitablists. “They haven’t yet had time to Westernize.” But Westernization is every bit as resistible in Brussels and Toronto as it’s proved in Cairo and Jalalabad. In the first ever poll of Irish Muslims, 37 percent said they would like Ireland to be governed by Islamic law. When the same question was put to young Irish Muslims, it was 57 percent. In other words, the hope’n'change generation are less Westernized than their parents. 36 percent of young British Muslims think the penalty for apostasy – i.e., leaving Islam – should be death. Had you asked the same question of British Muslims in 1970, I doubt the enthusiasts would have cracked double figures.
Unlike the dopes droning the halfwit slogans at the Obama rallies, these guys mean it. The children are our future. That’s the problem.
Nile Gardiner on the kid president’s failures with Russia.
Where is American leadership when it comes to standing up to the Russian bear? Unfortunately it’s stuck in the ridiculous “reset” policy announced by Hillary Clinton back in 2009. This administration has badly underestimated the degree to which the Russians are a major threat to US interests and the free world. Concession after concession has been made to Moscow by the Obama team, from signing the New START Treaty to pulling out of Third Site missile defences in Eastern and Central Europe. The grovelling, deferential approach towards Russia was perfectly encapsulated by the president’s cringe-worthy conversation with Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul in March, where, caught off guard, the US leader told his then Russian counterpart that he would have “more flexibility” to deliver when the presidential election was over.
And what has Obama received in return for his kowtowing to Moscow? Increasing Russian aggression abroad and mounting repression at home. As The Telegraph’s Tom Parfitt has just reported, a Russian ship carrying helicopter gunships bound for Syria has set sail again. This follows the deployment of Russian naval vessels, led by a destroyer, to the Mediterranean a few days ago.
The modern face of American Fascism is Kathleen Sebelius. Yuval Levin on how she can spin a lie as well as Dr. Joseph Goebbels.
In preparation for this week’s House vote to repeal Obamacare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post heralding the wonderful effects the law has supposedly already had on American health care. The argument she makes is just stunningly dishonest, and is readily refuted by data and analysis that the administration itself has made available. It’s astonishing that the administration expects anyone to buy this stuff.
Sebelius argues first that:
“In the decade before the law was passed, national health expenditures increased about 7 percent a year. But in the past two years, those increases have dropped to less than 4 percent per year, saving Americans more than $220 billion.”
It takes real chutzpah for the Obama administration to make this argument. As the administration’s own actuaries and experts have pointed out, the slower growth of health spending has been very largely a product of the weak economy of the Obama years, and has essentially nothing to do with Obamacare. In fact, the very HHS document that the online version of Sebelius’s op-ed links readers to in that very paragraph quoted above says “the low rate of estimated growth in overall health spending in 2011 largely reflects the lingering effects of the recent recession and modest recovery.” Modest indeed. …
Avik Roy in National Review writes on how Obamacare will harm the poor.
The story of Deamonte Driver illustrates how our health-care system leaves millions of Americans behind. Deamonte lived on the wrong side of the tracks, in Prince George’s County, Md. He was raised by a single mother. He spent his childhood in and out of homeless shelters. He was an African-American kid on welfare. Deamonte died at age twelve — not, however, in a drive-by shooting, or in a drug deal gone bad. He died of a toothache.
In January 2007, Deamonte told his mother, Alyce, that he had a headache. She took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a severe dental abscess and given some medication. But the next day, his condition worsened. It turned out that the infection from his tooth had spread to his brain. He was taken to the hospital again and underwent emergency surgery. After a second surgery, he got better for a while, but then began to have seizures. Several weeks later, Deamonte was dead.
According to Ezra Klein, Deamonte Driver’s story shows us why it would be immoral to repeal Obamacare. “To repeal the bill without another solution for the Deamonte Drivers of the world? And to do it while barely mentioning them? We’re a better country than that. Or so I like to think.”
But Deamonte Driver died not because he was uninsured. Indeed, Deamonte Driver died because he was insured — by the government. Deamonte, it turns out, was on Medicaid.
Although Deamonte was insured, he never received routine dental care. It turns out that only 16 percent of Maryland dentists accept Medicaid patients. Fewer than one-sixth of Maryland kids on Medicaid have ever had a cavity filled. …
The Economist reports on changes in ship design.
IN THE days when Norsemen pillaged their way around the monasteries and villages of Europe, Norwegian shipwrights were at the forefront of naval architecture. They still are. Norway is an important centre of marine innovation and several foreign companies have operations there, too. One such is the marine division of Rolls-Royce, a British firm, which is collaborating with Farstad, a shipping company based in Alesund, and STX OSV, a shipbuilder. The result of their efforts is Far Solitaire (pictured above), the first of a new class of vessels which bristle with novel technology that promises to make shipping safer, cleaner and cheaper.
Far Solitaire has been designed as a platform-supply ship for the North Sea’s oil and gas industry. This means she is not a large vessel. She is 91 metres long (one-third of the length of a typical container ship), has a deadweight of 5,700 tonnes and cost about $70m. But some of the innovations she uses should be applicable to vessels of all sizes. …