Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gah! There goes my blood pressure again

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7806223.stm

'The archbishop will say he understands that people are filled with "anxiety and insecurity" about entering the new year with amid so much financial uncertainty.

He will say: "There are fears about disappearing savings, lost jobs, house repossessions and worse.

"While the headlines are often about the big figures, it's the human cost that makes it real for us." '

Hey moron, you are supposed to be a Christian leader, preaching the salvation of humanity by the Son of God, Jesus. You are not, repeat not Oprah Winfrey, the 10 o'clock news nor a tuppeny happeny pop-psychologist. You do not dispense cheap-as-chips cheer-up messages about sticking together in the tough economic times. How about DOING YOUR JOB??? Preach the Gospel, lead the church, that is all.

Sheesh.

Shit poetry and unasked questions

'The rains of death continue to fall in Gaza. And silently, the world watches. And silently, governments plotted: how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death on to Gaza?'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/30/gaza

Yeah, yeah, thats what happened. The rains of death... I didn't waste my English Lit degree after all! Hear my poetry sing! 'how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death on Gaza?'

On the one hand, reading the description of the civilians hearing serious munitions coming in reminded me of evenings when I thought it could be my final roll call. But on the other, I just couldn't help thinking what a dreadful waste of time all this poetic noodling is. Do you really want to know why 'the rains of death' fall on Gaza? I betcha don't. Sixty years of concerted efforts to destroy Israel and murder all the Jews make you not wanna hear the cold hard facts.

Tell you what. Give up on the obsessive efforts to kill all the Jews and sit back and enjoy a few cold brews on the patio.

An act of goodness at a terrible time

'Israel said it was allowing 106 lorries carrying humanitarian aid - including medical supplies - from a variety of international organisations into Gaza on Wednesday.'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7805558.stm

Tucked deep (20 paragraphs) into this article about the Gaza operations, is this little gem. Why? Indeed, if this was an article about anybody but the Israelis, it would probably be at the top- as an example of great humanity even in the midst of war. Can you imagine Russia doing the same thing for the Georgians? Or the Sri Lankans doing it for the Tamil Tigers? Or indeed any Arab nation at war doing the same for their enemies? Its inconcievable, yet the Israelis are doing it for the Palestinians.

In most places around the world, like Zimbabwe, the humanitarian aid would be stolen by the government. So why doesn't this astounding action count in Israels favour? Behaving well, even when you are vilified by all the scoundrels in the world, makes you morally superior. But that is of no interest to the salon bien pensants. Only repeating the same pathetic lies and cliches matter to them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A tale of two interviews

I am watching the BBC rolling news coverage of the Gazan intervention, and its highly cringeworthy. About an hour ago, a female presenter interviewed Hanan Ashrawi. Ashrawi went on and on and on for ages, unfettered by anything as impolite as a question, until she started repeating herself. Yup, she had so much leeway she actually ran out of indignant posturings. Towards the end, she finally got a few questions, which were so soft I suspect she actually wrote them on a bit of paper beforehand.

Just now, a male presenter interviewed Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The interviewer treated him with complete disdain, not allowing him to finish a single sentance. When Mr Prosor mentioned the 8,000 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the last three years, the presenter asked 'And can you remind me how many people that has killed?' Think about the morality of that question for a moment. If you fire thousands of rockets at civilian targets but don't kill any, then thats just fine. Carry on! However, if you bomb a legitimate military target and kill two hundred people, thats a war crime! You see, its all to do with effectiveness. If you are good at killing your enemies, you are evil. If you are very inefficient, you are justified and righteous.

I really really wish I could record off the TV (our video is broken), because within the space of one hour of 'news' the BBC put to the sword its own supposed impartiality.

Consequences

http://www.julescrittenden.com/2008/12/02/the-obama-doctrine/

'Obama says India can whack Paks, if that’s where the investigation goes.* Sovereign nations and all. That’s how the Times of India is reading it:

WASHINGTON: Sovereign nations have the right to protect themselves, US president-elect Barack Obama said on Monday, when asked if India could follow the same policy he advocated during his election campaign — of bombing terrorist camps in Pakistan if there was actionable evidence and Islamabad refused to act on it.'

I like the idea of ratcheting up the pressure on Pakistan. For many of the kaleidoscope of different actors in Pakistani politics, including the islamists and terrorist groups, there has been no downside yet for their continuous violence against Indians in Kashmir, Afghans in Afghanistan and Indians in India-proper. There must be consequences. At some point, the impunity must end. For a whole plethora of incidental reasons, it has not been convenient or timely to really punish those actors in Pakistan whose only 'fun' is the murder and subjugation of non-muslims. Perhaps Mr Obama sees an emerging window where that punishment is politically possible.

There is the factor of Pakistans nuclear arsenal, but I imagine the US and India have already investigated and planned for taking those out of the equation.

Pakistan is a basket-case. It cannot be trusted to police its own population and ensure they don't attack other countries from within its borders. Once enough atrocities emanate from it, other countries in the region and the world will have no choice but to punish it.

What will emerge on the other side? A Somalia or Lebanon, dismembered and highly disfunctional? An India, fractious but viable? Sadly, the former seems more likely than the latter.

Gazan geography for Beginners

'Earlier on Sunday, Israel bombed supply tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip used by Palestinians to smuggle food and other supplies - including weapons, says Israel - past the Israeli blockade of the territory.'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7802515.stm

For those of you who are a bit hazy on Gazan geography, I'll clarify something. The tunnels being discussed go from Gaza into Egypt. Not via Israel, or under Israel or near Israel. Simply from Gaza into Egypt under their common border. I hear you ask 'So how does a tunnel under a border between Gaza and Egypt avoid a blockade imposed by Israel?' Good question, thanks for asking. The answer is, not at all. It avoids the armed Egyptian border guards enforcing the EGYPTIAN blockade of Gaza. 'What?' I hear you say, 'there's an EGYPTIAN blockade of Gaza? Why have I never read anything on the BBC website about an EGYPTIAN blockade of Gaza?' That would be because the lefty shittards at the BBC can't get any Israel-hatemongering mileage out of an EGYPTIAN blockade. 'So' you ask, 'does that mean the BBC is actually misrepresenting material facts, to make Israel seem like the bad guy?'.

Yes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ok, don't surrender

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7802477.stm

'But Israel might not get it all its own way. Hamas is unlikely to surrender. It has an ideology of resistance and martyrdom.'

Still on that tired old meme? It is now the role of the press at large, apparently, to boost the morale of our enemies by explaining how tough and warlike they are. Which they perform despite the stark failure of the 'ideology of resistance and martyrdom' to produce the predicted victories in Iraq. The predictions of quagmire didn't cease in much of the press until about halfway through 2008. Of course, you can't find them now. Now that a succession of groups of losers has lined up to be defeated by the perfectly able and competent US Army (plus odds and sods) there is a deathly hush. War in Iraq? What war?

Still, you'd have thought that such recent experience would give them pause in predicting quagmire every time a western army (and Israels army is definitely western) takes on a ragtag bunch of slightly trained losers. This will be no quagmire. Israel has learned lots of lessons from the 2006 Lebanon campaign. One of the primary tasks (not really performed in the former case) before any military op is to find out where the enemy are so they can be taken on in the best way at the best time. Israel has put up with lots of little missiles for the last six months so it could find out exactly where Hamas are. Map them out, figure out the structures, identify all the target-rich environments. Now it has pounced. Much better than Lebanon, where there were far too many unpleasant surprises.

This piece by Jeremy Bowen is quite good, a much better analysis of the situation than any of the other BBC pieces on this episode so far, so why spoil it with this boilerplate? Saying that, having spent a lot of the day reading up on this story, Mr Bowen does an excellent job of distilling out the major strands of the story so far.

One additional point. It makes sense for Israel to take out Hamas first. They are not Hezbollah, but they are Hezbollah wannabees. Hamas have very few veterans, very few well trained operatives, and only a very limited amount of highly effective weapons (according to StrategyPage). Winkling out Hamas now would leave Hezbollah in a precarious position. Egypt is pretty much on Israels side when it comes to Gaza, Jordan is nothing and Iraq has just been taught a very harsh lesson in real-politik. Syria can feel the hot breath of those 120,000 US GI's just over the way, and the Saudis really only have eyes for Iran. That leaves Hezbollah as the only truly soluble problem if Hamas bites the dust. I'd say within the next five years both H's may well cease to exist in any meaningful way...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who cares?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html?_r=1&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

'“When I started doing research on charity,” Mr. Brooks wrote, “I expected to find that political liberals — who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did — would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led me to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.”'

'So, you’ve guessed it! This column is a transparent attempt this holiday season to shame liberals into being more charitable. Since I often scold Republicans for being callous in their policies toward the needy, it seems only fair to reproach Democrats for being cheap in their private donations.'

Why not cut to the chase, and just become Republicans?

It makes me laugh that the author of this piece can't think the unthinkable, that perhaps the whole edifice of liberal 'thought' is a sham; that people who are perfectly happy to propose using other peoples money for purposes they would NEVER spend their own on are also people who could support policies which they would violently disapprove of if they affected themselves. If you read on down, you'll notice that the meanest, stingiest people of all are secular liberals. If you've met that species in real life, perhaps been to the pub with one, you will know this already. Yup, selfish, mean, stingy and hypocritical. Its a really endearing package.

Bunch of wusses

http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/12/21/bush-shoe-iraq-oped-cx_tv_1221varadarajan.html [Via Instapundit]

'The Arabs, who once upon a time boasted Averroes and Avicenna, are now reduced to eulogizing a boorish act of agitprop as a heroic achievement. America gave us Martin Luther King; South Africa gave us Mandela; India gave us Gandhi; the Arab world gives us ... Muntader-al-Zaidi. A people who invented the zero are now reduced, themselves, to zero. Only a people who live under the boots of their rulers celebrate the throwing of a shoe at a guest.'

I didn't think I'd ever comment again about this teeny tiny nothingness, but it seems everybody in the world other than me thinks its a REALLY BIG DEAL. Ok, make that, me and George W. Bush, who just laughed it off. There has been an awful lot of harrumphing about this in the US, which detracts somewhat from the air of confidence an un-challenged superpower would be expected to display. Why?

I can't help thinking about the difference in national temperament that this brings to the fore. At the height of Britain's power in the world, innumerable insults were sent the way of Britons. Its just part of the whole package of empire and military dominance. The British response was usually nothing. A response would dignify the insulter with an importance that was not merited. If some physical harm was done to goods or persons, that was different, and could merit some very harsh medicine. But words are just words. A petulantly thrown shoe is just a petulantly thrown shoe. The rage this has evoked in many parts of Americas body-politic is an indicator of unfamiliarity with and great sensitivity to genuine hostility. The kind of hostility that enormous power and wealth are guaranteed to provoke.

I suggest getting out more, perhaps to other countries. That, and paying attention to the real-world consequences of empire.

Oh and also, the guy who threw the shoe had better get no more punishment than a smack on the wrist, or they will turn nothing into a definite something.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Its called Freedom

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7782422.stm

'An Iraqi journalist was wrestled to the floor by security guards after he called Mr Bush "a dog" and threw his footwear, just missing the president.

The soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture.'

Yeah, well in our culture, its not an insult at all, its just kinda funny.

And it inadvertantly demonstrates what has changed so much in Iraq in the last five years- now you can throw things at the guys in charge, yell insults and not end up in an industrial shredding machine.

I hope people all over the world note this difference- people who were cowed, who were afraid to go about their daily business are now feeling peppy enough to throw brickbats at their political leaders. Fantastic. Long may it continue.

Time to act in Zimbabwe

'But when the world watches avoidable disasters unfolding in plain sight, what should be done?
With global media and Web connectedness, everyone — to some extent — bears witness to starvation or genocide or the like. Awareness comes with responsibility.'
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/failed-states-cholera-and-preventive-action/

I don't agree. With awareness comes... awareness. With Power comes responsibility. Those nations with power who can do something about Zimbabwes murderous marxist dictator, South Africa, the United States and Britain, ought to do something about him. The intervention in Iraq was about changing the big facts, by those unafraid to influence what happens in the world. The 'realist' view of the world espoused by vast numbers of diplomats like the pathetic Douglas Hurd and James Baker decrees that we can never change anything really, and should never put our delicate little feet into the feotid gloop that is most of the world. That is not good enough.

If you carry a big stick, use it to rid the world of as much evil as you can, and support as many of the good people of the world as possible. Thats what Chistians should always do. Do NOT pass by on the other side of the road. When those with no power, the oppressed and the exploited and the harried call for our help, we should help them. Mugabe has exploited the fear in Britain and America of being labelled neo-colonialists. It is past time where that fear should outweigh our moral obligation to help the eleven million people in Zimbabwe who are NOT Robert Mugabe.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

FARC/BBC Communique Recieved

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7781991.stm

Colombia war data 'unbelievable' By Jeremy McDermott, BBC News, Colombia

Well, for the sake of full disclosure, it should really say 'Jeremy McDermott and the PR department of FARC'. They really shouldn't send trotskyists to cover these stories where theres so much potential for conflict of interest.

'Colombian government figures on the number of guerrillas killed, captured or surrendered are vastly exaggerated, a human rights group says.

Codhes, a respected Colombian NGO, analysed the statistics of recent successes claimed by the armed forces in the 44-year civil conflict.'

If you cast your mind back a few months, you may well remember the freeing of some hostages in Columbia including Ingrid Betancourt. A detail that came out of this superbly executed operations was:

'The aim [of the Columbian govmt plans] was to persuade the Farc leader holding Betancourt - Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez, known as C├ęsar - that the hostages he held were to be moved to another hostage camp by helicopter, with the help of an international humanitarian NGO, so that negotiations could begin for their release.'

Let me see- so some NGO's in Columbia are so cosy with FARC that their helicopters land in the areas they control as and when they feel like it. Could it be that there is a cosy relationship between FARC and say, Codhes? Actually, that must be impossible because the BBC would never rely so heavily on a report by a FARC front organisation, would it?

I mean, just because the Codhes report is political in the extreme, and in fact the BBC piece says 'But the Codhes study, entitled "The numbers do not add up", attacks the very foundation of the Uribe administration, suggesting the government statistics are simply unbelievable'; don't let that fool you into thinking that Jeremy McDermott is simply passing on pro-FARC propaganda. I mean, just because Codhes would dearly love to see the Uribe administration destroyed, the only government Columbia has EVER HAD to successfully take on FARC and militarily defeat them, lets not jump to the conclusion that they therefore sympathise with FARC. No no.

Also, don't bother assuming that just because the Codhes report fails to mention one enormously salient fact- that FARC itself and its main backers like Hugo Chavez admit that they are losing the war now- is because they want to confuse the issue of who is winning in Columbia.

I for one will fight to the death to protect the BBCs right to publish communist propaganda with taxpayers money. Long live the revolution!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pseudo History, the kind journos love

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7767261.stm

'Belgian control of the Congo began with the slavery and murder sanctioned by King Leopold in the late 19th Century, as he turned this vast piece of Africa into his personal possession.

One authoritative estimate has put the number killed by Leopold at 10 million.

His troops needed to account for every bullet they were given, so they would cut the hands off those they killed as proof.

And if they lost a bullet or used one to kill an animal to eat, then they would have to cut the hand off a living person - just one of the European practices that so brutalised Africa that by the late 1950s eating Belgians felt justifiable.'
By David Loyn

Thats right David- before the pantomime villain Europeans went to Africa, it was all sweetness and light; a veritable Garden of Eden with the assorted tribes skipping happily together through the bush.

Georgia and Kosovo

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OWEzYjNiNTdkMmViOTY2MTYwOTk3Y2EzYjQ0OTFkMTM=

'A New Cold War?
Western-hemispheric maneuvers.

An NRO Symposium

What does Russia docking in the Panama Canal this weekend mean? What should the Obama administration be thinking about it? National Review Online asked a group of Russian experts.'

I think one person mentioned Kosovo. Not only were the Russian actions (and the Georgian actions engineered by Russia) in Georgia proximate in time to the creation of the soveriegn state of Kosovo out of the soveriegn territory of Serbia, they were meant to underline for even the stupidest observer of international affairs that a precedent had been set.

I am no fan of Putins pathetic kleptocracy, but the creation of independent Kosovo breached both the Foundation charter of the United Nations, but also prior international law. I am still waiting for all those bleating idiots who protested against the (UN sanctioned) invasion of Iraq to protest against the coerced removal of soveriegn territory of a member of the UN. They are strangely silent. Russians tend to be suspicious, indeed often paranoid, in their relations with the rest of the world- but even the most relaxed and affable UN member would bridle strongly at this blatant and completely partisan breaking of the fundamental laws of international relations. Serbians are slavs, Russians are Slavs, Serbians are Orthodox, Russians are Orthodox, you do the math. Serbia considers itself Russias little brother in the Balkans.

How all these 'experts' can talk about the current situation without once mentioning a factor which probably exceeds even the resonance of the anti-missile defense shield is almost absurd. During the height of the NATO war against Serbia back in the late nineties, the Russians even tried to intervene militarily. Boy do people have short memories.

As far as I can tell, Georgia was not about Georgia. It was about making a point about international relations: if soveriegn borders are negotiable, its open season, and the guy with the most T-90's will win. Forget the fallout from Iraq- this is much more worrying for the future, and bodes extremely ill for the organs of international diplomacy as currently constituted.

The net as bastion of Liberties?

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081207/D94U21DG0.html

'"Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded - ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day," he said.'

Name me one fascist criminal plot derailed by the internet so far? What a bizarre and counter-intuitive theory. Apart from the normal political discourse, the net has become the prime way for nutjob conspiracy theorists to connect with each other from their feotid bedrooms and reinforce each others delusions. It is full of conmen, hard-sell ad merchants, scammers, hackers and pervs.

Despite a deluge of information from reputable sources on the net about Barack Obama that at the very least he is a shapeshifter with no moral foundations and no fixed cultural roots, the electorate swooned at his feet and voted for him. A number of issues about him would have ruled him out of contention in any previous election, and I don't mean his dark tan (he's hardly black). Not only that, but the extreme left in America have spent the last eight years using the internet to spread extreme vitriol and lies about President George Bush.

I hardly see the net as a stalwart against the spread of criminals conspiracies- indeed, if anything it provides the same volume to extremists and criminals as it does to the honest and intellectually able. Probably more for the former, actually. Ideas are like viruses, and its not only the ones we approve of and want to foster that get spread around, sadly.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Protecting ourselves

http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/29134/

'Edwardian London was a place better-adapted to the threats we see today than today’s London is. '

I blogged exactly that after the 7/7 bombings on the London underground. My suggestion was an auxilliary Police force of a sixth of the population. We had a similar force in Rhodesia called the Police Reserve, who tended to be men above the age of the regular armed forces and police, and men who could not spare the time for full-time army or police duties.

They were trained in firearms use, carried their weapons with them, and could be called upon at a moments notice to hurry to an incident.

The disarming of the general populace has happened in the last seventy five years, a fact that few Britons seem to know. There is this ahistorical myth that we have never been armed and gunned up. Even talking to my peer group about guns evokes choruses of loathing and misunderstanding about them. Also, there is total ignorance about the fact that our policemen used to be armed. It is a constant frustration of mine that Britons seem to be completely phlegmatic that the only guns in their neighborhoods are utilised by the worst people- murderous gang kids, criminals, hoodies and drug dealers.

The air of absurd gentility which says that guns are dirty and American and vulgar and therefore must never be in the hands of your ordinary householder holds complete sway. Despite the obvious evidence from around the world that those who can defend themselves rarely have to do so, and that being your own defense force is often necessary and would save many women from rape doesn't seem to matter to the British.

The Bombay attacks are simply the latest example of what happens when you outsource your protection to people who are slow, incompetent and in the wrong place when you need them desperately.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Read it and weep

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28151

"I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

A thought for the people who sent the murderers into Bombay.

Russia and Cuba, NBFs

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7753676.stm

'Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is in Cuba for the final stop in a tour of Latin America intended to strengthen Russian influence in the region.'

Yeah, I can understand why pseudo-Communist Cuba would want to pal up with neo-fascist Russia. So much in common! Ok, not that much, actually... apart from a generalised loathing of the United States and effective, legitimate governance. I guess in todays world thats enough...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The most inconsequential sanctions in the history of sanctions

'The sanctions include a ban on Mr Mugabe and other government officials from travelling to EU countries. ...The sanctions apply to all senior Zimbabwean officials "who commit human rights violations and restrict freedom of opinion, association and peaceful protest", according to an EU resolution. Last year, the ban was extended from 79 to 95 people.

Other sanctions include a ban on arms sales and the freezing of Zimbabwean assets in European banks.'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4284689.stm

So, just to summarize, the sanctions against Zimbabwe are:

1. Ban on travelling to the EU (only applies to the EU) for 95 named individuals
2. Ban on arms sales to Zimbabwe
3. Freezing of Zimbabwean assets in European banks (only applies to European banks)

'"The situation is under control, there is no need to declare it [an emergency]," Zimbabwean Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told AFP news agency on Wednesday.

"These are results of punitive illegal sanctions imposed on us by the West... I am sure they like what they are seeing from this outbreak."' http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7749853.stm

What I would like to ask Mr Muguti is, which sanctions actually caused the outbreak of cholera? By what mechanism or means? Many black people I've met in Britain are very bitter about these anti-Zimbabwe sanctions, and apparently the less they know about them, the bitterer they are.

I suspect that you, Mr Muguti, are encouraging ignorant people to believe that there are broadscale economic and trade sanctions against Zimbabwe. The only results of the current sanctions regime that I would personally find credible would be slightly annoyed Zanu PF officials who can't keep their stolen money in the EU any more, and who can't accompany their wives on shopping sprees in Paris and London. How millions of starving people dying of cholera could result from these piffling inconsequential 'targeted' sanctions is a question I would very much like Mr Muguti to expound on.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Economics and bullsh*t

Business and economics are absolutely definitely not my field of expertise. Saying that, I sniff enormous amounts of bull dung in both the print and broadcast media about the current situation. Lets see if I can distill the bits that worry me the most.

1. Its all the fault of global markets/capitalism. As far as I can tell, the people at fault in the current crisis are a) us, or rather, the people who got mortgages, loans and credit cards that they should NEVER EVER have been given; b) the financial institutions who were strong-armed by politicians and social engineers to give the aforementioned mortgages and loans to very bad risk individuals; c) the credit card companies who failed to rein in the more egregious spending of overtly greedy and imprudent people; d) the banks who dealt in financial instruments they barely/didn't understand; e) last and very much least the government regulators who oversee the financial markets. I single out the latter as being virtually not responsible because their job is NOT about stopping stupid people from doing stupid things, it is about preventing illegal and unethical behaviour. Stupidity is NOT their remit.

2. Its the job of government to fix everything. This notion is in the interests of both the (powerful) heads of failing large companies and the (powerful) leaders of government who know an opportunity to extend ever further the reach of government. Not represented in this situation are the interests of the tens of millions of mainly poor people who will be picking up the tab while these dismal failures are rewarded with taxpayer money. Utterly absent is the notion that failure is a necessary and restorative result of stupid and ill-judged business behaviour. Failure is for people with small businesses and no political clout ONLY.

3. Fiddling about with tax and interest rates is 'fixing' the problems. The current crisis is big. It doesn't seem terminal, but it does seem like it will be at least a couple of years coming back to equilibrium. Like all big structural problems, it is almost completely useless to think we are in control of the fix. Just like taking aspirin to get over a cold- the cold will disappear after four or five days regardless. The only thing we might do if we tinker about a lot, is screw up things that aren't broken at the moment. That will almost certainly happen with the rediculous 'remedies' currently being touted by Gordon Brown (a temporary cut in VAT and tax rates that then morphs into an INCREASE in VAT and tax rates, combined with enormous unsustainable government spending).

4. We must SOLVE the credit crisis. It seems that mostly what is happening is make-work and displacement activity. Displacement activity because the issues that are the genuine responsibility of government, which require measures to solve them, seem to be at the bottom of the to-do list. What is the government doing about the disastrous inflation/generosity of public sector pensions? What is the government doing about reducing the rediculously high head-count in the public sector (6 million or so people)? What is the government doing about benefits bloat? What is the government doing about the permanent benefits culture endemic in Britains cities? What is the government doing about about public housing, many of the tenants of which are better off than I am; while genuinely needy people are housed in temporary housing because the public housing stock is unavailable?

5. Too big to fail. I am definitely not the only person beginning to think that too big to fail is absolute bullsh*t. Margaret Thatcher single-handedly revived the British economy by systematically destroying/privatising/breaking-up most of the countries enormous state-run industries. The results, slow at first, but much faster during the second half of the nineties and the first eight years of this century, are that Britain is now in the top six economies in the world; in 1978 Britain was bankrupt. Only very recently has the deadly python-like grip of the Labour parties taxation and benefits regime started to squeeze the life out of the British economy. It was inevitable, but the British voter is too stupid to work out the broad-brush trends, sadly. As labour costs have increased, working time decreased, holiday and maternity entitlements grown, taxation and the burden of bureaucracy increased, the economy has started to wheeze and strain. Sadly, although Mrs Thatcher did for the large nationalised industries, she did not take a big axe to the government make-work departments and the staggeringly huge welfare system. We need a new Mrs Thatcher. Dave?

6. We are the ones who will fix your broken lives. Many of the pronouncements about the credit crisis actually assume that it is credible to imagine Gordon Brown and his weirdo chancellor fixing our broken lives- paying our mortgages, providing us with jobs, making the banks loan money to people, flying tall buildings at a single leap, yada yada yada. Gordon Brown has always struck me as one of those terribly, terribly clever people who can't see the plain facts directly under his nose. Increasing the tax rates on rich people to 45% is an ABSOLUTELY GUARUNTEED way to chase many of them to off-shore hideaways, so the British exchequer gets exactly zero of their money. Labour did it before, and thats what happened. But hey, don't let exact parallels in the past spoil your whizzo plan, guys. Not only that, but telling people in advance that your tax cuts are temporary is a very very very bad way of encouraging people to spend lots of money in the next few months. People are generally pretty dumb, but they're not that dumb. All in all, I wouldn't trust Gordo and his pals to find their own arses with both hands. Let alone the enormously complex British economy.

7. The end of the world is nigh. My final point is this- so far, most of the terrible, terrible things that night after night the BBC and every other news outlet insist are going to happen haven't. No effort is made to discriminate between trends, which admittedly often look awful, and actual performance, which is much much better. Until last month BRITAIN WASN'T EVEN IN RECESSION. You could have been forgiven for thinking that actually the whole economy was bust, the banks were silent and empty, the last few businesses drifting into insolvency and the breadlines stretching beyond the horizon. Thats because the media insisted every single day on every single bulletin that it was so. Why? God only knows. What do the media get out of these Jeremiads? Nothing that I can discern. So why do they continue to do it? Boredom? A perverse delight in bad news?

I could be wrong about everything of course. But then thats the difference between me and our politicians. I KNOW I'm fallible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Excellent as Mr Burns would say



We don't really do multimedia here at Merry Warriors but there's always the exception that proves the rule.

I want to take Nancy Pelosi on a tour of Baghdad personally.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The world has changed. Will the newspapers?

"It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news-and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened. Today editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren't satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven't always responded well when the public calls them to account." Rupert Murdoch. (http://news.cnet.com/8301-10787_3-10098194-60.html Hat Tip: Instapundit)

Oh right, so if I say it the world collectively yawns but if Rupe says it its gospel! But seriously, I think the number of successful models for a news organisation has increased from one or two to perhaps seven or eight. Loose agglomerations of interested individuals who club together to write an online newspaper for instance. It would be entirely possible to get true experts writing for every section of the 'newspaper' without having an office and with those experts sitting in 25 different countries. Why that has not happened (to the best of my knowledge) yet is somewhat of a mystery. But certainly Mr Murdochs main point is entirely valid - the newspaper business is not dead, but the old newspaper attitudes certainly have had their day.

Stockholm Syndrome

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/us_elections_2008/7732636.stm

'Obama 'to rebuild moral stature'

Mr Obama said national security and the US economy would be top priorities
US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to rebuild his country's "moral stature in the world".

In his first television interview since the election, Mr Obama told CBS he would pull troops out of Iraq, shore up Afghanistan, and close Guantanamo Bay.'

Taking the arguments of your enemies and rivals and accepting their premises is so lame. To believe that the United States has lost its moral standing because it invaded Iraq and removed a vile dictator is to be morally squalid or French. But I repeat myself. To consider the luxurious high-security holiday camp at Gitmo a stain on Americas reputation, you would have to believe the ludicrous lies told by the inmates and their stentorian supporters in North London.

For a soon-to-be President to accept these dastardly mis-characterisations of his own nation to please a few nutjobs on the left is highly despicable- unless of course he actually believes them himself. In which case, America has a much bigger problem on its hands...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Certainty

'Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge.'

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/06/michael-crichtons-question/ [Via Instapundit]

Lovely quote. It should be branded onto the foreheads of every kid doing science at college.

Paul and his tiny bandwagon

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7718961.stm

'In his judgment, Mr Justice Eady had effectively ruled it was "perfectly acceptable" for the multi-millionaire head of a multi-billion pound sport, followed by countless young people, to pay five women to take part in acts of "unimaginable sexual depravity", Mr Dacre said.'

I virtually never pay attention to the tabloid hackmiesters, but when I read this I had a sudden feeling of time-travel- now I know what it must have been like in 1953. Thats the last year someone other than Paul Dacre actually thought that S & M was unimaginably depraved. Although we have to ask the question, does he really think that?

Because later he explains why this is all a National Question - "It is the others I care about - the crooks, the liars, the cheats, the rich and the corrupt sheltering behind a law of privacy being created by an unaccountable judge."

You might note that included in this list are 'the rich'. Which I think gives us the clue to what has really got in Mr Dacres bonnet. If he couldn't print tittle tattle about rich people in his steaming pile of excrement, what could they possibly fill all those pages with?

Presumably, being rich now means you are subject to every kind of snooping and undercover filming/spying/evesdropping to see if you are having kinky sex, even if you underwrite all of the AIDS orphanages in Calcutta and are in every other way the salt of the earth. That is not a Britain I want to live in.

I don't know who Paul Dacre thinks will accompany on this bandwagon, but I think its a much, much smaller crowd than he thinks.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Quick Question

Do all the 'conservatives' ripping into McCain expect to be taken seriously? Until two days ago, they wanted him to be president, now he's an incompetent moron? I personally will always respect John McCain, and think he is a brave and excellent man. Just because he lost doesn't change a thing. Picking Sarah Palin was an exciting and original action, creating a neat contrast with the dull and pedestrian Joe Biden. Many of McCains positions on things are principled, even if I don't always agree with them. He is genuinely bipartisan, where Obama triangulates that it sounds all grown-up and mature to extol bipartisanship. Obama has no track record of bipartisanship, probably because he is so liberal there is absolutely no chance of finding common ground even with the most flexible Republicans.

John McCain is probably too nice, in the old-fashioned, tough way. He doesn't really get the zietgiest, which is all about surface and bullshit and glossy nothingness. Which condemns us far more than it does him. I am sad he lost, mainly because of what it says about the pitiful thought processes of tens of millions of Americans. Saying that, George W Bush won last time when I thought he'd be overwhelmed by BDS and the scrofulous US left. I guess it just took some time to feed through. All I can say is, I know who I'd want in the trench next to me...

Two stories

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122584386627599251.html [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

'The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace. What must our enemies be thinking?'

I would say there are two parallel points. President George W Bush has been cheerful, optimistic, clear and statesmanlike; and yet he has been deluged with insults and smears and perverse misconstruing of his actions. President-elect Obama has been trite, vague, has suppressed evidence about himself and sold a two-dimensional version of himself to the electorate; and yet is treated as if he had climbed Everest, been first man on the moon and discovered the cure for cancer.

When you're in love with someone, their previous felony convictions, their terrible track record in long relationships, their obvious self-obsession and a million other quite awful things can seem tiny and unimportant and obscure. All that matters is the wonderfulness, the shininess, the overwhelming human presence of them. What happens after the gloss disappears? All those tiny, unimportant obscure details start to take on a proper proportion. That is what I predict will happen to Mr Obama. He is who he is. The lazy, hazy crush that millions of Americans (and people all round the world) have for him prevents them from asking any meaningful questions about whether what he is will affect what he does in the White House.

Obama is a machine politician from Chicago, weaned on the extreme left of American politics, dirty politics, fight-to-win politics. He is no pampered lapdog. And if you listened carefully to his words, you heard what his real agenda is. It is the transformation of America from a free-to-create-your-own-wealth society into a government-dictated-government-directed-government-first society which will attempt to overthrow history and abolish poverty.

Jesus said, 'The poor you have with you always'. He was not kidding. Poverty is complex, but it very often reflects very bad life choices. In America as it still is, you are free to fail, and free to succeed. As far as I can tell, Mr Obama wants to make it impossible to really fail. All over the developed world outside the US, you can see the consequences of the attempts to do the same thing- very low productivity, selfishness, immorality, the infantilisation of large numbers of people, breakup of the family, high-dependence lifestyles and a precipitous decline in the birth rate. Is that what Americans want? Fitting in and not being exceptional are very tempting, but in this case truly idiotic.

Exceptionalism isn't always appropriate, but in this case I think it is. It is not a trite commonality that America is strong because it is free. Freedom enabled tiny little England to punch far beyond its weight in world affairs. Its habits of government and mind were bequeathed to America. Will the poison of socialism succeed in destroying the fruit of that bequest?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quibbling over Islamaphobia

http://deborahgyapong.blogspot.com/2008/10/bc-hrt-decision-undercuts-islamophobia.html [Hat Tip: Mark Steyn]

I love these prissy, arch critics. They always remind me of the George Orwell quote used as the subtitle of the Mudville Gazette- "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Ms Gyapongs first sentance includes the completely un-substantiated slur 'According to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, its OK for Mark Steyn to use stereotypes and wrong facts to engender fear of Muslims, because fear is not the same as hatred or contempt.' So, daaaaahhhhhling, which facts were wrong? Any one will do? You go girl.

Ok, so we'll just have to take it on Ms Gyapongs word that Mark Steyn is wrong in what he says. He is a conservative, ergo he is wrong. Every time Ms Gyapong struggles towards the light, she has to rush quickly back to her sacred truths- "...even if there are even 10 per cent of Muslims (or three per cent) who hold an extremist, violent view of jihad (or sympathize with it) that's millions of people. Of course those extremists are most dangerous to fellow Muslims" So quit your whingeing, America!

I can tell by reading an author how close they have come personally to being blown up or hacked to death by an Islamist. I was two trains away from the Russell Square Islamist atrocity, and I don't really give a toss what the difference, if any, is between Islamophobia and Islamodium. There is absolutely no doubt that for billions of people all over the world, the word Islam conjurs up murderous fanatics who will kill whoever whenever they feel it appropriate. Fair? Maybe not. Justified? Certainly. Normal for human beings? Absolutely.

Muslims have the worst PR of any group or tribe or race in the world right now, and its all their own work. Go on mainstream Muslim websites and its half what they talk about- how to improve their PR image. Trouble is, for every earnest, well-intentioned discussion about getting together with other religions for mutual respect and understanding, there will be five stories from around the world of murder, intolerance and medieval torture in the name of Islam.

Its that drip-drip-drip which is why the Dems were very keen to dispel the rumour that went around six months ago in the US that Barack Obama was a Muslim. If the rumour had been that he was secretly a Sikh, what would they have done? Nothing. But to be associated with a brand that stank that much was worthy of top billing on their myth-busting website.

Could Ms Gyapong be the anti-Steyn? Unfunny, uptight and wrong even about what is in her own interests?

How we got here: the Credit Crisis

http://www.nypost.com/seven/10132008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/spreading_the_virus_133375.htm

How the Credit crisis of 2008 began, laid out in detail. Although I have one gripe- 'Three months later, the Clinton administration announced a comprehensive strategy to push homeownership in America to new heights - regardless of the compromise in credit standards that the task would require. Fannie and Freddie were assigned massive subprime lending quotas, which would rise to about half of their total business by the end of the decade.' This is the absolutely critical bit, and its not attested by the specific Executive order number(s) (if thats the correct reading of this paragraph) or the bills through Congress (if not). This is the smoking gun.

Between this fact, and the inability of the statisticians analysing securitised sub-prime mortgages to come up with valid values, you have the root of the current debacle. It does seem that a socialist ideology, brought into the political arena by ACORN, is indeed the main cause of the Credit fiasco. Will the electorate care? Will it vote accordingly? Highly improbable...

Speaking truth to power #5,743

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7692751.stm

'Basements targeted'

The Russian prosecutor's office is investigating more than 300 possible cases of civilians killed by the Georgian military.

Some of those may be Ossetian paramilitaries, but Human Rights Watch believes the figure of 300-400 civilians is a "useful starting point".'

Brave, brave BBC! Taking on the mighty Georgia over its human rights abuses. Wow! I respect that sooooooooooooo much.

What were the Human Rights Watch figures for the first Chechen war again? Or the second Chechen war? They've sorta slipped my mind... oh, yeah, they don't seem to have managed to establish any.

But according to Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Second_Chechen_War

'In June 2005, Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, a deputy prime minister in the Kremlin-controlled Chechen administration, said about 300,000 people have been killed during two wars in Chechnya over the past decade; he also said that more than 200,000 people have gone missing. Every resident of Chechnya has scores of relatives who have been killed or gone missing, he said.[30]'

So maybe half a million dead/missing? According to a guy working for the Russians? Where were Human Rights Watch and the BBC? In Chechnya, there was absolutely no question the Russians were the aggressors. After all, its called Chechnya not Russia. And yet the BBC are willing to take the word of the murderous Russian regime that the Georgians, whom the Russians hate and revile because the latter have the temerity to be independent, are actually the murderers of innocents? Honestly, I am very close to giving up on the BBC altogether.

Putin used the Second Chechen war to take powers in Russia he has never relinquished. His despotic and criminal rule was directly enable by it. It is highly probable that the apartment block explosions that were used as the pretext for launching the Second Chechen war were the work of the FSB. Certainly many Russians, even supporters of Putin, believe it to be so. Putin has never shied away from murder to progress his career, especially if he believes the fortunes of Greater Russia will be enhanced. Half a million murders is simply the price that had to be paid to enable his dictatorship.

Its so nice of the BBC to wipe the slate clean for Russia, and get on the Georgian case with such alacrity. Pathetic ass-wipes. I swear, there's not a pair of gonads in the whole organisation.

You know you're a bunch of losers when...

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NjIyYzU1ZTY3OThhNGNjNDZiMWU5MDY2MDI2YjYwYjM=

...You start analysing why you lost before you've even had the election.

I suddenly have a feeling that many of the people populating the right are not my spiritual kin in any wise.

Consider this stellar example:

'The listing McCain campaign has descended into a bout of pre-criminations that is delightful fodder for political reporters. Who can deny that some cretinous McCain aide calling Sarah Palin “a diva” makes good copy?

John McCain still has a chance to win, so it’d be more sensible to delay the “who lost 2008?” debate until after Nov. 4. But since it’s already in full flower, let’s consider a chief culprit in the campaign’s current low state — the candidate.'

Since its already in full flower, I'll join in? Are you serious? How about shutting the hell up and getting on with the real business at hand?

Sometimes the hail mary comes off, sometimes the unfavoured horse cuts up the inside and pips the class acts at the post, sometimes the Buster Douglas will ko the Mike Tyson; but there are usually bits of evidence which the really talented observer could have picked up on before the event which predicted the less likely outcome. I don't see the evidence that the midgets running the McCain campaign, and the wizened stultified grandees and punditry of the Rupublican upper echelons have any of the traits which militate towards an unlikely upset. They've got no fighting spirit, they've got no real emotional underpinning to their conservatism, and they don't know the intellectual basis for their political creed.

I've been watching some NFL football recently, and it brought sharply into focus where the real stuffing of America is; certainly not in its chinless wonder professional politician class. It resides in the normal, average guy, the people who do the heavy lifting, take the risks, get stuck into the messy, unpleasant jobs and succeed. If my reading of the polls and surveys is right, those people are completely fed up with their political class- the Republicans even more than the Dems but its a close run thing.

And why would you blame them? Having a wake for a political campaign before the election is held is almost surreally stupid and self-defeating. Who wants to be led by people who'd do that?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Its a question of priorities

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NmM1MWRjNDM5ODE5N2FiNmFiM2VkMjZiMzFlZjIyYzg=&w=MA==

'Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?
Ayers won’t work.'

I was just prepping to excoriate the author of this piece for missing the point, when I went ahead and read it... and guess what? I totally and completely agree with the guy. Whether or not the William Ayers association with Obama is a concern for US voters, it is not the battleground on which the election should be fought.

What are the issues that top voters minds? Job security, tax rates, home equity and calling to account those who have presided the governmental and wall street disasters over the last few years.

I agree with Mr Shortridge that defining the important issues and your own clear purpose in handling them is something McCain is failing to do. Is there time to haul this supertanker around? Maybe, but he'd have to start today. And thats not likely.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Douglas Alexander sees an oppo

'The secretary of state for international development, Douglas Alexander, called the killing a "callous and cowardly act".

He said: "To present her killing as a religious act is as despicable as it is absurd - it was cold blooded murder."'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7679212.stm

I'm so glad that this apparently wonderful womans death has presented Douglas Alexander with another opportunity to willfully contradict the people who did it in the name of 'community relations'. I guess there is just nothing the murderous scum of the Taleban/Al Qaeda could say about their intentions and their world-view that Douglas Alexander couldn't miscontrue given ten minutes of thinking time.

Stop triangulating you ****ing moron. Taking people at face value is a service even you could render your country.

Wowsa! What a big seller!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7679758.stm

'Publisher Karl-Dietz said it sold 1,500 copies of Das Kapital this year - up from the 200 it usually sells annually.'

Huge resurgence!

http://www.askmen.com/toys/top_10_60/62b_top_10_list.html

'Number 1
The Holy Bible - 6 billion
Author: Various'

If 200 is your problem, 1,500 is not your solution. BTW, just for the record, there's another name for capitalism- normal human economic activity. Another name for Communism- pointlessly rigged human economic activity. So waiting around for capitalism to 'crash'- pretty vain hope. However, do not underestimate the proclivity of the youth of Germany to get on some murderous and coercive bandwagon...

Friday, October 17, 2008

What will Mr Obama do?

'...far from preventing turmoil and devastation, "change" is more likely to strip America of the agility and means to cope when the next crisis comes.'

http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/10/15/crisis-change-globalism-oped-cx_cr_1016rosett.html [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

'That promised sea-change of the basic American ethos is the real crisis. There will be hell to pay, to the extent that a panicked U.S.--hounded for years by its critics at home and abroad--succumbs to the idea that democratic capitalism will no longer serve, that creative-destruction must be staved off at any cost, that enrolling in a kumbayah chorus can change the nature of mankind.'

Hope and Change are what the calculating and cynical drivers of the Bolshevik revolution promised the peasants of Russia. What did they deliver? An unfree society which murdered the Russians who disagreed with Bolshevik ideas (along with many who DID), a moribund economy which proved to be the achilles heel of the entire project, and huge amounts of broken promises and hot air. The outcomes of Communist Russia may provide the greatest contrast ever to the outcomes promised. Will Barack Obama try to take America down the same cul-de-sac? I hear him promising the same Centrally Controlled Nirvana, with the enormous benevolent face of the government looming at you from every direction, watching, patrolling, decreeing outcomes, 'creating equitability'.

As National Lampoon once said about Ben Gay, if inequity is your problem, THAT is not your solution. Of course, nobody really knows what Barack Obama will do. He is completely opaque. And that is the number one reason not to vote for him. He might turn out to be a second George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, or he might be Lenin in disguise. But when voting for someone, I'd always pick the guy whose colours were there for all to see. Tony Blair was a patriotic social democrat with a completely practical turn of mind. Which is why I voted for him twice. I felt no qualms about that because I knew what he was. I did it consciously, despite being a conservative. He was better than the alternatives.

Would I be willing to gamble on an unknown (and apparently intentionally obscure) quantity like Barack Obama. No. Its just too risky. There are many things I don't like about John McCain. But in sum, he is the better choice.

I don't think he's going to win though. America seems determined to take the riskier option. Oh well, let the chips fall where they may, and I hope in a years time the people who voted him in are still happy with Mr Obama.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So what?

http://www.pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/archives2/025813.php

'THE PRESS RAN WITH IT, OBAMA MENTIONED IT LAST NIGHT, but it isn't true:

The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled “kill him” when presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s name was mentioned during Tuesday’s Sarah Palin rally are unfounded.

It's as if they're just making stuff up to make McCain and Palin look bad.'

Of course, even if it was true, it would be just fine. I counted exactly a zillion instances over the last eight years where Democrats and other nutjobs called for President George W Bush to be murdered/assasinated/crucified, and can't recall a single instance where the lazy media folks turned up even a diffident eyebrow. So it must be ok.

I can't believe that there are people out there who would have two sets of rules, one for Republicans and the other for Democrats. That would knock the foundations out from my world.

BBC uses Credit Crisis to Big Up China (again)

Will China bail out the West?

With nearly $2 trillion (£570bn) worth of foreign currency reserves, China is being touted by some as the potential saviour of the Western banking system.
China's booming exports have enabled it to mass huge foreign reserves

In order to bail out ailing financial firms, Western governments need money - and China seems a good place to get that much-needed cash.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7671482.stm

Please, please, can someone who knows something about international markets go work for the BBC?

China would be much better off if it had two trillion dollars worth of national infrastructure, two trillion dollars worth of low-polluting industry, two trillion worth of well-fed, well-looked after Chinese people; rather than two trillion worth of dollars steadily decreasing in purchasing power. Having billions and billions of currency is not directly representative of wealth- go to Saudi Arabia if you don't believe me. America is not wealthy because it has lots of dollars- it is wealthy because its people produce a huge amount of goods and services. A vast majority of those goods and services are provided to other Americans and therefore Americans feel wealthy. The Chinese produce enormous quantities of low-quality products which they sell to us, and in return we give them dollars and euros and pounds. Do Chinese people feel wealthier? Only if they happen to own a bank, which is a very circumscribed group of people. The Chinese are gradually getting wealthier- of that there is no doubt- but they are starting from a very low point and they haven't gone very far yet. In a comparison between an average Chinese person and an average Briton or American or French person, the average Chinese person has vastly less means to access to high quality goods and services.

So what about all those dollars and pounds in Chinese banks? If the Chinese lend them to us, what will that achieve? I'm guessing inflation in our economies, and not much genuine gain. It seems to me that the scarcity of credit at the moment is providing a bracing challenge to businesses in the developed economies. It is sorting the wheat from the chaff. Well-run, well-capitalised businesses are hardly affected by the current situation, whereas badly-run, under-capitalised businesses are going to the wall. Whats wrong with that? Thats exactly what is supposed to happen in Capitalist economies. Workers and resources are freed up by this process to be utilised in productive enterprises- viz the Thatcher revolution.

Taking money from Chinese banks at bad rates sounds like a quick-fix, bad-judgement behaviour to me and I hope very few Central banks and/or governments take the option. But then the guys who run them probably know this much better than the BBC...
to whom this situation is simply another excuse to shit on Britain and America and tout their favourite new 'superpower' with all the schadenfreude at their disposal. Honestly, they are pouty children. Will we ever get dispassionate, well-analysed business stories from the BBC?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Christopher Buckley- what hath the father spawned?

http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerkimball/2008/10/12/on-disagreeing-with-a-friend-about-obama-with-a-coda-on-plagiarism/

I really wanted to critique this critique, but I just can't. I have a relatively powerful computer, with two gigs of RAM (for those who care), and I can't actually use the above page. Now THATS a stupid website. It appears that the WHOLE of Roger Kimballs blog is on the one page. I could be wrong, as I couldn't be bothered to wait the five minutes neccessary to scroll down and find out.

I will just say that an America that can't love Sarah Palin is not an America I can wholeheartedly cheer on. She is so vibrant and strong and sharp- a tremendous woman before whom many girly-men Dems would wilt. I met women like Sarah Palin in America and they always reminded me of the women who stood by the founders of the British empire- steely, intelligent and able to exert tremendous influence. An America which lauds Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey above the Sarah Palins is a sad and pathetic vestige of its former self.

Cheeky Icelandic bastards

'Where once [British] people were impressed to meet an Icelander (there are not that many of us), now we are greeted with a sorrowful "poor you"....But there's no chance of these compassionate sentiments being returned. To this self-declared peaceful nation it is incomprehensible that the UK government used anti-terrorism laws to freeze the assets of its banks in Britain. They even blame the British for precipitating the downfall of its biggest bank, Kaupthing, by their hasty and draconian actions.'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7667920.stm

You have to laugh. A week ago, Icelands banks admitted that they taken the equivalent of nine times Icelands total annual GDP in deposits, and guess what? The money isn't there!!! You have to wonder which bit of this Icelanders don't understand. Er, thats our money in your bank. And its not there. In plain language, thats called stealing. Hating the people you have stolen from is just... weird. Not unusual, it has to be said, but weird nevertheless.

Let me try to explain to Icelanders of average or greater intelligence (that may be an oxymoron)- our government acted to stop you giving what remains of our money to other Icelanders in preference to us. I don't care what the name of the law was they used to do that, but if stopping you from stealing more of our money means invoking terrorism laws, hey I'm on board.

People who do stuff like this remind me that the English lag behind many nations in bald-faced cheek.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

China- polluting the world singlehandedly

http://www.data360.org/graph_group.aspx?Graph_Group_Id=348



What caught my eye about this graph- China is the greatest polluter on the planet. And yet, it only has the fourth largest GDP. Not only that, but America produces over five times as much, with less pollution. Who is the great polluter?

Forcing people to do the right thing

I was just about to write a post about something I don't care about very much (an American pundit castigating Britons for criticizing American race relations), when the following headline caught my eye:

"Tough times cannot be a pretext for abandoning climate-change targets"

Its the headline of an op-ed in the The Times from Oct 13, 2008. I sat musing for a few moments about how stupid I believe the massed ranks of the newspaper editors, workaday politicians and busybodies of the world are in signing up to the concrete actions required by climate-change religion when they are based on something as contentious and flimsy as anthropogenic climate-change.

But this is just my usual brain-chatter. I'm sure I've detailed before why a) if climate-change is not our fault, there's absolutely nothing we can do to PREVENT it, just get used to it and b) if climate-change IS our fault, getting the same people who are happy to see tens of thousands of people murdered in Darfur and thousands of people in the Congo die down mines to agree to changing their polluting habits is a bit hopeful.

My mind wandered to why especially in Britain, but all over the developed world, it is becoming a norm to force people to eat well, exercise, quit smoking, recycle, drink less, refrain from killing small animals and on and on. The Times is happy to tell people whose livelihoods may well have just gone up in smoke that actually, global warming means we aren't going to prioritising getting them back into work; rather, they are a necessary sacrifice on the way to Climate Nirvana (whatever that is).

How have we got to the point where it is absolutely uncontroversial to stop people from engaging in perfectly normal activities, which may be harmful to the individual involved but completely harmless to those around them? How can free societies justify that? I remember fifteen years ago the newspapers mocking Singapore for thrashing people who litter, or vandalise. Now, I can't smoke in a pub without breaking a LAW (not that I actually smoke, but its the principle). For years, the government had public health campaigns about this and that, but they didn't intrude much into the general pattern of life. Now, children are forced to eat a particular diet at school, one not of their choosing, but decreed by the state. If I don't cut back on my fat intake, my doctor can actually choose not to provide me with certain treatments.

The problem with the government employing seven million people is, they all need something to justify their salary. And that is often now patrolling the public for its own good. Those should be chilling words. In the past they have covered sordid scandals like forced sterilisation and electric shock treatment of the mentally ill; like the forced seperation of children from their parents so they could be re-socialised in the 'proper' way.

None of the three main political parties in the UK seem at all non-plussed by this chivvying-with-threats mode adopted by the government- indeed, they line up to provide it with new things we need to be chivvied about. What a terribly sad situation in a nation which once prided itself as the home of individual freedom. Will someone come along and do something about this regimentation and repression?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

There is no problem murder can't solve

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7640263.stm

'Ms Kakar, who was reported to be in her early 40s and had six children, was one of the most high-profile women in the country.

She has figured prominently in the national and international media, partly due to a famous episode in which she killed three would-be assassins in a shoot-out - although she said her everyday life involved tackling theft, fights and murders.

Ms Kakar joined Kandahar's police force in 1982, after her father and brothers were also police officers.'

'...In June, another woman police officer was gunned down in Herat province in a killing believed to have been the first of its kind.'

I don't want to think like this, and I've resisted stoutly. But it does seem to me that for fundamentalist Islam, there is no problem murder can't solve. Koran forbids women working and doing man stuff? Murder any women who are presumptuous enough to ignore the Koran. I can't see any way that an accomodation can be made between them and us. I've tried, but I can't see it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A small exercise in Logic

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/09/pakistani_military_f.php

'The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.'

Add this:

'The Pakistani military said it had direct orders to "open fire" on any US forces attempting to violate Pakistan's borders.'

What can we deduce from this? The Pakistani government insists that every inch of the FATA/NWFP is part of Pakistan, and that it has soveriegn power over it. The FATA/NWFP is bulging with armies and terrorist groups attacking Afghanistan and planning attacks around the world. Ergo, persons under the protection of the Pakistani government are invading Afghanistan and planning terrorist ops, which makes the Pakistani government collectively responsible.

Question: what will it take to persuade the governments of Europe and North America to hold Pakistan properly accountable for its actions in Afghanistan, Kashmir and India?

For how long can Pakistan get away with this clumsy sleight of hand?

Share traders discovered trading shares shock

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7634641.stm

'The Archbishop of York has called share traders who cashed in on falling prices "bank robbers and asset strippers".'

You can't turn around these days without Archbishop Sentamu sounding off about something. I don't know how much he knows about money markets, but I'm guessing its less than me. Share traders cashing in on falling prices is called 'The Stock Market'. Its like accusing the guys at Smithfields of cutting up animals. You know, its what they do for a living. I really wish that the Archbishops of Britain were as active in their Christian prosyletizing as they are in patrolling the rest of this countries activities. If you are going to make stupid statements, at least let them fall in the area of your specific competence.

I realise that brings my specific competence into question- but I'm not willing to give up my soap box that easily.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

And you are going to do what about that?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7626744.stm

'Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will not allow Pakistan's territory to be violated by terrorists or foreign powers fighting them.

The newly elected president vowed instead to "root out terrorism and extremism wherever and whenever they may rear their ugly heads".'

But can he turn those fine words into stirring deeds?

If he can, he will be the first person in history to do so. The North West Frontier province has never really belonged to anybodies country- just to itself. In fact even that is not really accurate. Every inch of the North West Frontier province is the fiefdom of some tribe or other, perhaps a family even. It is an enormous patchwork of tiny fiefdoms, and to claim sovereignty to that patchwork is largely an empty exercise in self-aggrandizement. Occasionally the mountain tribes agreed to not annoy and attack the lowland folk, but they certainly never accepted the existence of purely theoretical things like 'Pakistan' and 'Afghanistan'.

For Mr 10 Percent to claim that the people in the mountains are as Pakistani as the folk in Islamabad is laughable. They won't oblige him. He is creating for himself a monumental hostage to fortune. Pakistan has quite a large army, but nothing like large enough to pacify the whole NWFP by force. I don't think the US army is that big. Of course, Mr 10 Percent is so macho that it must be physically painful to admit that he is in a no-win situation in NWFP. The guys in the hills are well enough armed to make a Pakistani army takeover a pipe dream, and if the Pakistanis don't take the matter in hand the US military will do the job for him, at least to the extent of nullifying the cross border capabilities.

Both will make him look like a big wussy. But hey, guy, thats the job you took! Bet it doesn't look like such a fab dealio now huh?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

She's got into ma subconscious!



Is he talking about Sarah Palin?

Only if you have a mind to think so. Doesn't sound it like me. But then I just read this, and I think Barack has been dreaming about Ms Palin...

Do they REALLY want Obama to win?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/09/09/2360240.htm?section=world [Hat Tip:Instapundit]

'US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may be struggling to nudge ahead of his Republican rival in polls at home, but people across the world want him in the White House, a BBC poll said.

All 22 countries covered in the poll would prefer to see Senator Obama elected US president ahead of Republican John McCain.'

I imagine its true in most US presidential elections- people in many countries outside the US form a view about who they want to see in the White House. But it is unique in my experience that a candidate get this kind of lopsided support. Lets face it, if the world voted, McCain wouldn't lose- he'd be utterly wiped out. And whats funny is, many of the countries in Europe and round the world slathering over Mr Obama would NEVER elect a black man. Or a gypsy. Or a Turk. Or a Pakistani. Or a Chinaman. Or a Moroccan.

So why exactly do they like Mr Obama? Would Mr Obama win a German election? Would he win in Italy, or France, or Spain? Honest commentators would say no, resoundingly. So why do they want Mr Obama to win an American election so much? Perhaps in their secret dead-of-night fantasies, they believe Mr Obama might turn America into a European nation- Godless, spineless, military-less, childless, 'inclusive', gay-loving, selfish, hedonistic and nihilistic. Maybe they think he can dictate all those things to America, and they have to do it because he's the President.

I really don't think they've thought through the whole Barack Obama thing. If America elects him, whither the argument that the US is the most racist nation in the world, where blacks have no chance against the entrenched white oligarchy? Whither the argument that rednecks rule the roost, and only cowboy Texans get to be the big shot in the White House? Whither the argument that a lefty liberal would never get near the hot seat? Be careful what you wish for, people.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Even if we're in charge, we're not in charge

'With that in mind, here's the New York Times on McCain:

The nominee’s friend described him as a "restless reformer who will clean up Washington." His defeated rival described him going to the capital to "drain that swamp."” His running mate described their mission as "change, the goal we share." And that was at the incumbent party’s convention.

After watching two political conclaves the last two weeks, it would be easy to be confused about which was really the gathering of the opposition. As Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for president, he and his supporters sounded the call of insurgents seeking to topple the establishment, even though their party heads the establishment.


You would think that the author would at least mention somewhere in this article that the Democrats control both houses of Congress. You would be wrong.'

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_08_31-2008_09_06.shtml#1220617605

Apart from the easy answer to this conundrum, that the New York Times is just lying to make it easier for the Democratic ticket to win in November, I think there's a more subtle and vastly more far-reaching process at work. And that is the absolute necessity for the left to always be the 'outsiders', the 'opposition', 'speaking truth to power' from a position of virtuous weakness, the plucky little guy duking it out with 'The Man', the victim against the big White bully. Their ideology and their psychology intersect at this point.

For the baby-boomers who never wanted to cut the umbilical, who got everything given to them on a plate, who were born into plenty and luxury and good health and a bouncy economy and universally accessible education; it was just natural that they never wanted to vacate the world view of the pampered teenager. Mum and dad aren't just the source of all the goodies, they are also the representatives of the 'The Man'. They are the voice of authority, whilst the boomers are the spoilt brats who don't want to be ordered around by mum and dad any more. The Republicans are mum and dad; the Democrats are the spoilt brats. So OF COURSE, even if the Democrats control two out of the three branches of government, the Supreme court and Congress, they ARE STILL the outsiders, the plucky little guy, the victims. The Republicans, who only control the executive branch, are actually all-powerful and oppressive.

Somewhere, I believe most Americans fundamentally understand this. They couldn't articulate it, but they FEEL it. They listen to the snivelling whining of the Dems and they think 'but you are in charge, Ms Pelosi!. the reins of power are in your hands, do something with them'. But as I have pointed out many times, self-declared victimhood comes at a price- it paralyses and disables and removes the capability to exercise your own God-given power. Which is where the Dems have arrived. What have they done since arriving in Washington a couple of years ago? Absolutely nothing of consequence. They didn't even cut the funding for 'Bushs war' as they promised their nutroots.

Which is why the Democrat congress has the lowest ratings a congress has EVER had. But who castrated them? They did that to themselves.

Oh my God, are you are man Obama?

'“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” Obama said while refusing to retract his initial opposition to the surge. “I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

However, he added, the country has not had enough “political reconciliation” and Iraqis still have not taken responsibility for their country.' [Hat Tip: Instapundit]
http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/09/04/obama-surge-succeeded-beyond-wildest-dreams/

What utterly pathetic words. What kind of people would hear those words and not find them dissembling and mean and intellectually dishonest?

As Glenn Reynolds points out over at Instapundit, 'I think it succeeded in ways that John McCain anticipated. And General Petraeus' and he could have added George W Bush. The latter, after all, was the guy who could actually MAKE the surge happen; And fought tooth and nail against resistance from both in-country military brass and Pentagon brass to get his way on it. We here at Merry Warriors also predicted it would work. But then the common thread between McCain, Petraeus, President Bush and myself (apart from our debonair good looks obviously) is that we were all basing our judgement of the potential of the surge on a wide base of factual evidence, the latest information coming in from the soldiers on the ground, and at least a functional knowledge of how military operations work.

None of those three are present in Barry Obama. I get the distinct impression that lefties quietly abhor the military, spend as little time with members of the forces as possible, and consider studying military matters on a par with interfering sexually with children. So they just don't get anywhere near any of that stuff. But arguably, taking care of the common defense is the MOST important job of the President of the United States. Its not optional. You can't just wander in on the first day and try to get up to speed. Obama shows about the same understanding of military matters, and the United States role in the world as all the other lefty law professors- virtually nil. Remember, these are the guys who grew up singing 'I ain't gonna study war no more'...

So Obama scores very low on his military knowledge, but even lower on his personal integrity. Why not just say, I didn't have the faintest idea whether the surge would work or not, but everybody in my party hated it, so I just followed along. I said some completely unfair and stupid things to David Petraeus, which I now humbly ask his forgiveness for, and accept that I have a massive mountain of things to learn about the military before I sound off about it again.

Had he said anything even vaguely approximating that, I'd consider Senator Obama a real stand up man.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Palin Conversation

'There have been significant changes in perception of John McCain in the two days of polling since he named Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Since then, 49% of Republicans voice a Very Favorable opinion of McCain. That’s up six percentage points from 43% just before the announcement. Also, 64% of unaffiliated voters now give positive reviews to McCain, up ten points since naming his running mate. '
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/daily_presidential_tracking_poll [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

In a Democracy, the most important question is, what do the people think? Much less interesting is, what do the pundits and Washington insiders think. I suspect there will be a hefty split between the former and the latter on Sarah Palin the whole run-in to the general. I am amazed at how ambivalent and often outright hostile conservative bloggers and pundits are being about Palin. They seem to be viewing her through the tiny and circumscribed lens of her CV- not addressing her in toto. The whole conversation about her seems to have got off to a bizarre start. Once you have heard the woman speak, and get a feel for what kind of individual she is, it is difficult to remember that her CV is relatively light. She is highly formidable. In four years time, it will be surprising if she doesn't get the Republican nomination in her own right. Thats the calibre of individual I believe she is.

Most of the punditry about her seems to miss the point- will the people vote for her? I absolutely believe they will. She comes across as somebody whose feet are firmly planted in day-to-day American life. Perhaps not the life of the eastern seaboard elite and the academic lefty brain-trusts, but the life of the great mass of American working folk. She is exactly what Obama isn't- one of us, rather than one of them. I could be wrong, I have been before, but I don't think I am.

Friday, August 29, 2008

As long as you're sure...

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/8/29/104611/395/220/578471

'We all expected McCain to pick someone underwhelming to run with him. But we never could have expected a pick worse than Quayle. Yet that's what we got. Thanks, John!

(And for those who are certain to point out that Bush-Quayle won in '88 -- do you really think that Barack Obama is remotely close to Michael Dukakis in political skill? No? Didn't think so.)'

Writing rapidly (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt) makes us write funny things. So Michael Dukakis political skills knock BO's into a cocked hat? Yeah, didn't think thats what you meant...

We don't often wander over to the Kos. Its not worth the tripe- sorry trip. But I bring this article to your attention for one reason. It doesn't mention Hillary Clinton and the PUMA gals at all. Now Markos Moulitsas is a guy, and maybe older women do nothing for him, but older women are going to do something for Barack Obama. They are going to determine whether he wins or loses the election. Simple.

So how they vote is a big deal. Not mentioning that Sarah Palin just might hold some appeal to older female voters grumpy about not getting Hillary as the Dem nominee despite her superior experience and qualifications is just obtuse. The thing about older women is they show up at the ballot box. Young people get very excited about elections and then more pressing things like keg parties come along and voting gets shunted slightly down the priority list. Elections are determined by the people who show up. Obamas mighty legions just might forget to pop along and do the boring ticking of boxes on the day.

But thats ok- Kos assures us that 'The Palin pick takes a race already leaning toward Obama and pushes it further into his corner'. So thats sorted!

But do they WANT to pay homage to ML King?

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YjI1MTQ4MTQ5MjA3ZDc4ODI4YTdjNjliOWMzZmY1NzI=&w=MA==

'The question that screams out at us is why, in the face of all of America’s progress with regard to race, Sen. Obama does not fully embrace the complete fulfillment of King’s dream by supporting efforts to ensure that all Americans are “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Anyone who truly wants to pay homage to Dr. King should complete the journey that he charted.'

Is the enterprise on which the Democrat party has embarked to 'pay homage to Dr. King'? I don't think so. Grievance, disgust and hatred are what they seek. They want African-Americans to feel aggrieved; they want Americans to be disgusted by the terrible atrocities of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the torture at Gitmo, and the appalling state of the US economy, and the deep hatred for America felt throughout the world because of its unilateralism, and the increased threat of terrorism from the middle east and the terrible disastrous defeat in Iraq. The belief of the Democrats is that if they can get this grievance and disgust and hatred geed up high enough, people might entrust their vote to them.

Sadly, not only the day-to-day experience of Americans, but increasingly the front page of their newspaper and news website fails to tally with the Dem narrative line. The gap between the two is actually widening daily. Atrocities? They just didn't happen, unless you call killing incompetent insurgents murder. Torture at Gitmo? Only if you call too much pudding torture. US economy? Growing at one point four percentage points faster than the forecasters predicted... Anti-Amreican hostility? Been around since granddaddy was knee-high to a grasshopper... Increased threat from middle east terrorism? Er, is that from the dead AQiI guys, or the dead Taleban guys? Terrible defeat in Iraq? Postponed indefinitely...

Lets face it- if the Democrats were sitting in a sequin covered tent at the fair with a glass ball, they'd have been lynched by a mob of people wanting their money back. Pretty much every single one of their predictions about the future turned out to be horse-ptuey. And like a sad alcholic begging you for a fiver, he wants you to believe he'll do it all better next time. 'I promise you, I've drunk my last shandy'. 'I promise you, our next prediction about a Republican-caused catastrophe will actually BE a catastrophe'.

Yeah right. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I'm probably a Democrat voter. Fool me every time, I'm Nancy Pelosi.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Your recession is a flight of fancy

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7586280.stm

'The US economy grew at a revised 3.3% annually in the second quarter of 2008, the Commerce Department said, much higher than its first estimate of 1.9%.

The rebound was linked to strong US exports, helped by the weak dollar, while government tax rebates also boosted consumer spending.'

Instapundit has an ongoing taunt for lefties called, Dude, wheres my recession? Thats because despite deafening wailing and gnashing of teeth about the economy from Dems in the states, there is little or no actual evidence for economic woes. The US unemployment rate is less than 5%, its industries are selling at a tremendous rate, and the startup rate for new businesses is the highest for about a decade. So where does all the Dem crap originate? Price of houses going down? Great news if you're a poor person... can't get a dodgy mortgage? Er, you shouldn't have EVER been able to get one of those... lost loads of money in the mortgage market? You should NEVER have been giving money away that freely...

Lets face it, the 'recession' in the US is the Dems last best hope of beating McCain. Iraq is now chalked up firmly in the 'win' column, so no grist in that mill. The Dems record in Congress has been awful to the point of parody. It was only the will-o-the-wisp of economic mismanagement that might have seen them home- and now it looks like it was a mirage. Darn it.

War for Oil for who?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7585790.stm

China's state-owned oil firm CNPC has agreed a $3bn (£1.63bn) oil services contract with the government of Iraq.

The two parties renegotiated a 1997 deal to pump oil from the Ahdab oilfield, the Iraqi oil minister said.

Under the new deal, output from the oilfield will be 110,000 barrels per day, up from the 90,000 barrels forecast in the original deal.

The deal is the first major oil contract with a foreign firm since the US-led war in Iraq, reports say.


Its war for Oil... for China (apparently)!!!?!

Not sure how that fits into my current conspiracy theory, but its not going to be easy....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

That'll make a difference!

'"No matter what happens we have already achieved our goal by proving that ordinary citizens with ordinary means can mobilise a defence of human rights for Palestinians," organiser Paul Larudee told the AFP news agency.

"We want people to see the Palestinian problem as one of human rights, not feeding them rice," he added'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7576479.stm

Weird, because the stated goal of the boat ride is 'an attempt to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip'. So surely, anything other than the breaking of Israels blockade would be failure? Of course, the boat ride really epitomizes the ludicrous state that European politics has reached. There are no more actions, just these highly symbolic 'statements' which stand in for actual actions. Israel has the fourth largest standing army on the planet. Can two boatloads of champagne socialists ("The activists include Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British PM Tony Blair, ... Also on board is left-wing Greek MP Tasos Kourakis.") wafting about the Mediterranean making statements to lefty mouthpiece Agence France Presse achieve something that say, the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon could not achieve?

I'm thinking no. Not only that, what is the moral foundation of a protest against the Israeli blockade, imposed because of the choice made by Palestinian voters? Is the point of these savants that no matter what the Palestinians do, not matter how much they assault Israel and no matter which party they vote into power, there should be no consequences? I guess because the original sin was the creation of Israel, the only solution acceptable to these European humanitarians is the annihilation of Israel, during which no Palestinian should suffer a shortage of cooking oil. Sad how reality and our wishes diverge so much of the time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Todays Media Bullshit

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7569942.stm

I am going to start a regular feature: media bullshit watch. This weeks is

The Deteriorating Security Situation

'The ambush came amid signs of deteriorating security in Afghanistan.' If I called up the last fifty BBC stories on Afghanistan, at least forty-nine would have that rediculous phrase in them. What does that actually mean? How do you measure a security situation in the middle of a war? Having lived in a country at war, I can tell you that on most days, it doesn't really seem like there is a war on, apart from a nagging fear at the bottom of your stomach that never goes away. For Afghans, it is exactly like that. Some weeks, there are lots of ambushes and IED attacks, and others there are few. Why? A million reasons. In the summer, there is lots more Taleban activity because its not freezing cold and the mountains are easier to wander about in. Does that mean August sees a Deteriorating Security Situation, and January an Improving Security Situation. No folks, thats just bullshit. The fact is, until the enemy are beaten, the war continues. Thats it.

The nature of warfare in Afghanistan has always been small scale bands roving about killing and stealing. Just like now. The bands are guys from the mountains, and the people they kill and rob are from the lowlands. Like now. What NATO is trying to do is help create a 20th Century (lets be realistic here) state in the lowlands, while killing as many of the 7th century throwbacks as possible so they can't stop it happening. Is it succeeding? In much of Afghanistan, yes. But not the south east third, which is the part accessible from the mountains, strangely. Will it work long term? As yet to be determined. Helped by depressive turgid BBC articles? You be the judge.

No South Ossetia for Zimbabwe

"Zimbabweans must realise that the country is in a practically binding state of socio-economic emergency," Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said.

"As such, there is need for a universal moratorium on all incomes and prices for a minimum period of six months," he added.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7569894.stm

What does a country need when its economy has been completely trashed by its government? Some verbosity and grandiosity from its Reserve Bank governnor, obviously. '...a practically binding state of socio-economic emergency'? What'dya do, eat the dictionary?

Personal hobby-horse: 'Mr Mugabe has denied he is ruining the economy, laying the blame instead on international sanctions he says have been imposed against Zimbabwe.' Where is the editor? Does he or she not know that this is a blatant, and easily disprovable, lie? There aren't any international sanctions against Zim, just targeted ones against ZANU PF, as any fule kno. Sadly, because the BBC and many other big media outlets don't bother to correct lies like this, every cab driver and pub pundit I talk to rails against the persecution of Zimbabwe by the domineering West, especially Britain. The fact is, there has been virtually no action on Zimbabwe at all, outside of a lot of grumping. Should there have been?

I just saw on Fox News Milliband saying that Russia probably broke international law in Georgia. When talking about places like Zimbabwe and Georgia, surely we ought to steer clear of invoking International Law? Both Mugabe and Putin love to trumpet the Wests picking and choosing when International Law suits and when not. Lets not give them a freebie. There is no International Law, none that means anything. For International Law to work, there would need to be something bigger and stronger than nations to enforce the law when the big nations got out of line. And there isn't. Wishing don't make it so. Far better than the fiction of International law is a commitment by all nations to a few crucial principles- like not carving up other peoples countries viz both Serbia and Georgia.

Russia has been waiting since Kosovan independence to show the world that this principle, of national integrity, was no longer valid in the international arena. It has now, and I'm not sure its wrong. That doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the Georgians, although Saakashvili is a tool. His hubris and overreach brought upon his people a terrible shock- although the casualty figures seem to have been multiplied dramatically by both sides for the same reason. It will take Georgia some time to come to terms with what happened. They have yet to lay the blame at the right door- their own stupid leader.

Is there an element of truth in the Russian story? Was theirs a humanitarian intervention of sorts, much like the NATO one in Serbia on behalf of the Kosovans? There is prima facie evidence for it. Saying that, it seems vastly overshadowed by the faux-SuperPower geopoliticizing which followed the initial intervention. So, who is going into Zimbabwe? A small invasion on behalf of the White Farmers anyone? Crickets chirp, tumbleweeds blow past.