Monday, November 30, 2009

My tuppence on US Health Care

Few quick questions about American healthcare:

1. Why can't Americans see how fundamentally stupid health insurance is?

You pay insurance premiums to a health insurance company, and yet they determine (largely) what treatment you get. Lets just say that you put the same amount of money into an average yield investment vehicle, starting when you were twenty five. By the time you got to the age where you could expect to start needing the fund, you would have enough money to take care of virtually any eventuality. Simple, flexible and even available for elective surgery should you want it. You purchase the services from the provider- no middleman overhead. No muss no fuss.

2. Medicaid is forever, but why does Medicare have to be?

If you have an investment fund for general health, why not have a smaller adjunct fund for end-of-life care? As long as you start it early, it will be plenty big enough after four or five decades to cover those last hairy years.

3. As a supplement to your own general health fund, you could have an emergency-only insurance policy specific to the most extreme health emergencies, the ones that cost the most money? As those events are so rare, the cost would be minimal.

4. If these ideas were adopted universally, the health insurance industry would virtually disappear. And? The money sucked from both health care providers and consumers by that industry would be much more fruitful if kept by the former. And if tort reform were passed to kill off the worst ambulance-chasers, costs for the best health care system in the world could really drop significantly, while treatments improved and coverage increased.

Just saying.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Questions for the East Anglia CRU investigators

The questions I personally want answered by the ClimateGate investigative panel:

1. What percentage of the foundation data underlying A.G.W. theory held by East Anglia CRU is still extant?

2. Where is it? Who holds it?

3. What percentage of the foundation data underlying A.G.W. held by East Anglia CRU is available to all interested researchers?

4. What happened to the foundation data for A.G.W. once held by East Anglia CRU which is no longer extant? Who last held it?

5. How many separate violations of the laws governing Freedom of Information requests occured at East Anglia CRU?

6. What oversight if any did East Anglia University perform on Freedom of Information act requests to the CRU?

7. How long has the alleged anti-scientific behaviour been going on at EA CRU?

Friday, November 27, 2009

And yet the Titanic Sailed on...

Having foolishly once given the Conservative Party my email address...

This from David Cameron [or stooge thereof]-

'In nine days time, representatives from 192 countries will meet in Copenhagen for the UN Conference on climate change. This summit is of historic importance. It is an opportunity for the world to take bold action to deal with the real danger of climate change.

So this week, ahead of the summit, members of my Shadow Cabinet have given a series of speeches setting out plans to help protect the global environment. Each one of these speeches sets out specific steps which need to be taken if we are going to reduce our carbon emissions.'

Wheel unresponsive... ship listing slowly to starboard... loud gurgling sounds...
distinct whiff of soiled clothing...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

American Prospect defends the New York trials

'The decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind September 11, and his alleged co-conspirators in a civilian court sparked charges of "irresponsibility" from the Republican Party.'

Alleged? Alleged? Both the current President and the current Attorney General have said these guys are guilty and need executing! They aren't allegedly guilty, they are guilty. If Obama and Holdren know these guys are guilty, who is Adam Serwer to dispute it?

'Who is Really on Trial in the Khalid Sheik Mohammed Case?'

Very good question. In the eyes of every single lefty, America-hater and illigitimate ruler on the planet, the answer is 'The United States and George W Bush'. And no matter what the outcome of this show trial, the verdict will be guilty. The guilty verdict was pronounced about six years ago, and hasn't changed.

'This trial is as much about showing the world that America is a country dedicated to the rule of law, as it is holding Mohammed and his cohorts to account for their alleged crimes.'

Apparently, the Geneva conventions aren't law. And military tribunals are not legitimate courts of military law.

'Republicans' view of whether trying a terrorist in federal court is a victory for the rule of law or "irresponsible" tracks closely with whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House.'

That is just piffle. I read dangerous amounts of web news, comment and blogs, and I don't remember one single conservative ever promoting trials in civilian courts. Certainly nobody who knows anything about battlefield law has ever been of the opinion that captured combatants out of uniform should be tried in civilian courts. There are two very good reasons Rudolf Giuliani didn't win the Republican nomination for President- no real conservative considers him a) conservative and b) serious. Only a flaky city like NY would re-elect a flake like Giuliani.

'What the trial will put on display is the United States' commitment to due process,'

Due process? Every day, criminals are successfully prosecuted and convicted by the US court system. Isn't that a good enough demonstration of US commitment to due process? Don't you watch Law and Order?

Hidden under these apparently clear words, are the following ideas.

'Due Process' is not really about US courts or whether America is a country that abides by its own laws. 'Due Process' is really about the nature of the men in Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The left say they are criminals, whose crimes are both justifiable politically and morally. If these men are tried in civilian criminal courts they will then be able to trumpet their political ideas, explain how those ideas motivated their actions, and demonstrate their good moral standing. The fact that the left and the islamists share many common political ideas and practices is not coincidental. For many lefties, todays islamists are the spiritual descendants of the left wing radicals of the Vietnam era and the anarchists of the late nineteenth century. They are firebrands, shakers of the establishment, challengers of the evil and powerful, a bit like old testament prophets. The left feels many sympathetic resonances with the men in Gitmo.

When 'Prospect'ers talk about 'Due Process', that is what is underlying their insistence on having 'legitimate trials'.

'What the trial will put on display is the United States' commitment to due process, and it may potentially prove America is unafraid to confront its own wrongdoing when it comes to the abuse of the accused while in government custody.'

Yes, much more important than three thousand people being murdered on a normal average business day for the temerity of being Americans, is whether 'America is unafraid to confront its own wrongdoing when it comes to the abuse of the accused while in government custody'. You can see very easily how that prioritization would be arrived at. Oh, you can't see? Yeah, me either. It's completely idiotic.

If every single non-uniformed combatant captured on the battlefields of the north west frontier were tortured in US custody, it would mean virtually nothing. After all, under law, what they deserve is a bullet in the back of the head and an unmarked grave. If America complied with the letter and the spirit of the Geneva conventions, that is the fate which would await non-uniformed combatants. I think we can agree that most of the time being tortured is better than being shot dead, especially if its American torture. American torture often involves loud noises and music- ooow stop! Flashbacks to Iron Maiden concerts!

And the torture is not for fun. It is not punishment and it is not for sadistic pleasure- it is for the express purpose of gathering information to prevent terrorist atrocities. Having lived through a war where torture was done either for fun or to intimidate the locals, I can see a clear difference, even if pampered American lefties can't.

When your priorities are so clearly demented, you can't expect many people to agree with you. And sure enough, a large majority of Americans think the American Prospect attitude is both morally disgusting and factually incorrect.

'During the Bush administration, Republicans praised the convictions of terrorists like Moussaoui and Richard Reid in federal court. Now, they're arguing that military commissions should be used almost exclusively, claiming that accused terrorists don't "deserve" the same rights as Americans.'

What is it with moonbats and terrible terrible memories? Just the other day, Robert Gibbs did a bit of 'just between you and me and the garden gate' nostalgic reminiscing about the lovely sweet gentle era of the George W Bush presidency. Yes, I don't remember constant comparisons between Bushitler and... oh, hang on...

If you are counting, this is the second time within a few paragraphs that the author of this piece has used the same argument- that Republicans were FOR civilian trials of non-uniformed combatants before they were AGAINST them. Repetition, while a useful rhetorical tool, is a crap argumentative one. It's no truer now than it was fourteen seconds ago, Mr Serwer. If my rough guesstimate is right, conservatives have always been roughly split between a) execute them on the battlefield as per the Geneva conventions and b) torture them first and then execute them as per the Geneva conventions. If you can cite actual cases of real, breathing conservatives touting civilian trials for non-uniformed combatants please let me know.

'During the Bush administration, Republicans praised the convictions of terrorists like Moussaoui and Richard Reid in federal court. Now, they're arguing that military commissions should be used almost exclusively, claiming that accused terrorists don't "deserve" the same rights as Americans. This argument undermines the entire concept of a fair trial by assuming the accused is guilty prior to conviction -- and misunderstands that the right to a fair trial isn't just about granting individuals rights; it's about restricting the government's power through due process.'

Talk about talking around the point. In a warzone, there are the following statuses available: civilian (non-combatant), uniformed combatant (combatant), non-uniformed combatant (combatant), spy (sometimes a combatant). Only the first two are valid under the rules of war. The men in Gitmo were all captured in the Taliban/Al Qaeda warzone. They don't even deserve a military tribunal- they should really just be shot. But habituated as Americans are to bringing the law into everything, and humane as Americans are, they want to be seen to be doing the right thing. Even in a war against disgusting filth who hack off peoples heads on video.

Which is fine, within reason. It is only when this habituation and humanity start to have seriously bad side-effects that time must be called, and reality re-introduced to the appraisal.

In World War II, the Gestapo shot spies and partisans after they had tortured whatever information they could out of them. Harsh though this was, it was not considered a war crime. Once the SAS had become famous, Hitler decreed that any British commando or SAS trooper captured was to be shot out of hand. This caused an uproar, as it is against the rules of war. Both SAS and commandos fought in uniform, although they didn't fight conventional squad warfare. Al Qaeda and the Taliban purposely never wear uniforms, and do not recognise the validity of the Geneva conventions. According to this intellectual giant, apparently that means they should be tried in civilian court?

'Actions matter -- which is why trying Mohammed in a civilian court with all the rights of any other criminal defendant is not just an opportunity to indict the murderous philosophy of al-Qaeda before the international community'

Man oh man. You never ever put peoples philosophy on trial in court. You can't, because it is only actions which can be the subject of prosecutions. That is a fundamental of the Anglo-American legal systems. Sorry, dimwit.

'The only things Mohammed or the other accused might say about America that have any relation to reality have to do with policies that have become an implicit part of the Republican Party platform.

National Review's Andy McCarthy admitted last week that one of his concerns was that a civilian trial would involve "putting the Bush administration under the spotlight." This is what conservatives are truly afraid of. Their aggressive support for violating international human-rights laws and domestic prohibitions against torture has been a boon to terrorist recruitment around the world.'

The view on the left has always been that whatever tiny sins were perpetrated by Al Qaeda and the Taliban, they pale into insignificance in relation to the American/Republican response to them. Sadly, most Americans don't agree- and feel that the men who attacked America got exactly what they were asking for. The left want you to forget where all this messy international warfare started, about the 1993 bombing of the world trade center, the bombings of Americas embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole and the thousands of innocents who died under the Taliban regime; and just look at the bits that make their political enemies look bad.

The idea that it is a most excellent thing that Al Qaeda operatives can get up in public, in court, and excoriate Republican policies is one which when it happens will prove to be extremely unpopular. And not because every American is a Republican. But because what George W Bush did for America was necessary, justified and successful. Even Obama wasn't stupid enough to change them- you don't fix what ain't broke.

'A trial by military commission might feed into the alleged terrorists' perception that they are "holy warriors" instead of murderers'

Er, who gives a shit?

'-- a notion that complements the conservative perception of terrorists as superpowered villains rather than as thugs.'

Straw man argument alert! Conservatives see Al Qaeda and the Wahhabist islamists for what they are: politico-religious operatives engaged in a long war against their politico-religious enemies- us. They are not willing to fight by any rules of warfare, and our response is often going to be out of the same playbook. If you think that sucks and is wrong, please see World War Two history, Allied Bomber campaign. War is harsh, and should only be engaged in by people who know what they are bringing down upon their heads, often literally.

Most of this war is going on out of our sight. Most lefties don't read military and intelligence websites, or visit the battlezones. And their imaginations are not engaged either. Most of the really disgusting things that go on will not appear on TV, or be reported in the St Louis Post Despatch. Because the enemy refuse to play by the rules of war, it is even more awful than wars are usually. Is that our fault? Is it George W Bush's fault? Only if you believe he started it.

And only the ignorant morons at 'Dismal Prospect' are that history-challenged.

'This trial is as much about showing the world that America is a country dedicated to the rule of law, a nation that will stare unflinchingly at its own sins, as it is holding Mohammed and his cohorts to account for their alleged crimes. But the sad truth is that while this trial is an important step, the Obama administration's continuation of other Bush policies remains a liability. Maintaining a "hybrid" legal system in which the venue is based on the strength of the government's case, rather than the nature of the alleged crime, and continuing a policy of indefinite detention outside a military context will continue to undermine the perception that the U.S. is governed by the rule of law rather than its own fearful impulses.'

Fear keeps us alive, just like pain warns us of danger.

A critical moment will soon be upon all of us. That is when Al Qaeda next successfully strike an American target. And the people still bashing George W Bush for fighting Al Qaeda tooth and claw will be confronted by a very unpalatable future- where Al Qaeda are still fighting despite all the self-flagellating New York trials and Obama obsequiousness to the 'muslim world'; and the righteous anger of the American people will be directed both at Al Qaeda, and the lefty enablers of Al Qaeda in their midst. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Its about the ends not the means

'On balance, therefore, I still think that global warming exists and is a genuinely serious problem. But I am marginally less confident in holding that view than I was before. If we see more revelations of this kind, I will be less confident still.

Unfortunately the debate over Climategate among laypeople is likely to be heavily influenced by political ignorance and irrationality, especially the tendency to overvalue any information that confirms one’s preexisting views and downplay or ignore anything that cuts the other way. Thus, global warming supporters are likely to claim that Climategate proves nothing at all, while skeptics will trumpet it as justification for rejecting mainstream climate research altogether. Both temptations should be resisted, though I’m not optimistic they will be.'

I understand Ilya Somins points, and find most of his analysis cogent and respectable. I just don't agree with his last point. I can't remember a public policy case quite like anthropogenic global warming. Certainly in my lifetime, never has a theory gone so quickly through all the stages from initial hypothesis, to gathering of data, to testing the hypothesis, to sharing the data, to re-testing of the hypothesis by others in the scientific community, to wide-spread consensus that the hypothesis has been satisfactorily proven, to use of the hypothesis to inform an important part of public policy debate, to continual assertion by those who deem the hypothesis to have been satisfactorily proven that those who are still sceptical are not simply sceptical but criminal and dastardly.

The main problem is not that Anthropogenic Global Warming went through these stages quickly, but how many of the most important stages it skipped altogether.

If you know of a hypothesis which has had a similar pattern of development to A.G.W., please let me know. Over and over again, its proponents have been caught overstating their knowledge of prior and current climatic conditions, and making grand pronouncements based on extremely dubious, flimsy and partial information, up to and including the IPCC reports. Also from the beginning, the proponents means of combating failures in their scientific method and results was not to go out and get better data and do clearer and stronger analyses, but to lambaste their opponents as idiots and corrupt lackeys of big business, and to use the fallacy of appeal to authority to quash debate.

Even for someone like me who has simply kept their ear to the ground during this debate, it is clear how it has been conducted- with very little integrity.

I personally (and I think this goes for a vast majority of the sceptics) would like to see genuine proof that A.G.W. exists. If it does, I will do my utmost to help fix the problem. I'm not an idiot, and neither are most sceptics. If we as a species are destroying our one and only planet, that is a catastrophe worth knocking down every coal-burning power station and scrapping every diesel engine.

But it has to be demonstrated to be true before any of that happens. And the biggest thing that undermines my faith in it being true? The political bent of large swathes of the researchers presenting the evidence. Communists lie. The truth is nothing to them. What matters is results- getting power and destroying capitalism and capitalists. Whether that is done via mobs of peasants with pitchforks, or committees of corrupt and stupid old farts at the UN is not important. What is revealed in the emails we have now seen is a desire to attain the goals of worldwide environmentalism/communism by hook or by crook.

Who cares what the data says if we have the peer-review journals in the palm of our hands?

BBC balanced and fair look at those ClimateGate emails

'In an interview with the Press Association, Professor Jones said he wouldn't resign. He said the suggestion that there was a conspiracy to alter evidence was "complete rubbish". And he insisted the CRU had never manipulated or deleted data or e-mails.'

And apparently, that's good enough for the BBC!

'Professor Jones, who has received personal threats since the e-mails were leaked, said he regretted "poorly chosen words in the heat of the moment, when I was frustrated". He said the past few days had been the worst of his professional life.'

Yes, that's the important thing about this story- how Professor Jones feels today. If Jones thinks that this rediculously flimsy 'heat of the moment infelicity of wording' excuse is going to get the job done, he is wrong.

'Trial by internet'

Sub-headings tell us the state of mind of the editors, not about the story itself. How exactly is a developing news story driven by citizen journalists a 'trial by internet' when the average news story on the BBC radio or TV news isn't 'trial by radio' or 'trial by TV'? Presumably, any story which the BBC doesn't want to break is therefore pigeonholed as a kangaroo-court sham. Interesting. Reminiscent of Soviet Propaganda.

'But in the world of science policy, many others find themselves in a war of influence against those firms who fund the amplification of the messages of the relatively small number of genuinely sceptical scientists outside the consensus. The sceptic business lobby aims to keep scientific doubt alive to paralyse policy. This is the world of science Realpolitik.'

This desperate cabal of machiavellian polluters is absolutely shit at their job. Absolutely everywhere I turn, from news websites to the science channels on TV, from general interest magazines to the scientific journals, from school information packs to local government websites, everywhere it is just wall-to-wall global-warmist propaganda. Apart from a few obscure websites, the presence of the 'global-warming deniers' is almost undetectable.

And yet... enormous numbers of private citizens in the US and the UK and round the world don't believe in A.G.W. Interesting that. If your bullshit antennae are actually on and working, it isn't hard to see the humongous gaps in the Global Warmmonger fairytale.

Persuading the commies and most politicians was not hard for the warmmonger doomsters- for both constituencies, there are massive upsides to the whole Global warming fairytale. Hate capitalism? Tell everybody it is killing the planet! For the good of all the poor ickle people we have to destroy your industries. And if you won't do our bidding, we'll just have to nationalise that asset. Sorry! For politicians, the benefits are even greater! Just how good does a politician saving the world look! I mean, never before have politicians been able to claim that they are actually saving the whole world from a preventable disaster! That is political dynamite. Who cares if it ain't true? By the time the rubes work it out, I'll be retired anyway...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

They all got the memo, apparently

'On one hand, over at, Gavin Schmidt, a modeler for the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has been downplaying the leak. Schmidt wrote: "There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research ... no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no 'marching orders' from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords." '

Interestingly, George Monbiot takes an almost identical tack in his own piece on the Guardian Website, Comment Is Free. Rather than grapple with any of the very obvious evidence of conspiracy to change data, conspiracy to not divulge information to unworthy opponents, conspiracy to bludgeon peer-review journals into following the party line, these guys set up a facile and caricatured straw man which surprise surprise is not in the emails.

So climate scientists don't sit around their George-Soros funded Dr Evil lair twirling their 1920's mustachoi laughing maniacally while US taxpayer money is burned in the fireplace to keep the chill off? Really? How interesting.

Groundhog Day

You would be forgiven for wondering if this was 2003, rather than 2009. ClimateGate is just getting going, with absolutely loads of dramatic public policy questions at stake, and literally trillions of dollars, pounds, yuan and yen at stake- and what is the big story on the BBC website?

Yes, it's that hot story of the day month millenium, yet another chance for lefties to bemoan the evil events that led up to the greatest tragedy in world history, the invasion of Iraq and deposing of Saddam Hussein, Humanitarian and Kurd-gasser. It's one final chance to ascertain whether we invaded Iraq to kill a desparately awful dictator and free his people, or whether we invaded Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction and kill a desperately awful dictator and free his people. The very fate of all we hold dear hangs in the balance, as I'm sure you agree.


Just saw the BBC News at Ten headlines on the telly- there have been four previous enquiries into the Iraq war. That's right- its an annual event now! Fantastic use of taxpayer money, indubitably!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Do you really want this BBC?

Imagine, if you will, a world where...

The BBC was actually a news organisation.

Imagine if you will, a 61Mb trove of hacked emails pilfered from the White House email system containing thousands of emails between March 2002 and March 2003. In the emails Tony Blair and George W Bush, along with numerous of their advisors and generals, discuss a dossier of exaggerated, manipulated and/or faked intelligence about non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction; which they were preparing to provide a figleaf of cover for their savage joint enterprise of invading poor little Iraq.

Imagine that someone with inside access got this 61Mb of email and documentary data, and posted it on their own website. They made the material freely available to news organisations or whoever was interested.

Now imagine how long it would take for the contents of those emails to get on the BBC website.

It has been exactly six days since the 61Mb of emails from the East Anglia University Global Warming Hysteria Propagation Unit and so far the response of the BBC has been... (see above).

What day did the BBC stop being a news organisation, and become a Political Correctness-enforcing, Muslim-terror news suppressing, Global Warming advocating, Left-wing-cause promoting £3.2 billion drain on the national pocket-book?

These global warmists need to get their numbers right

About the current discussion on air: Why do the media persist in presenting climate change views as if there's a 50-50 balanced discussion among scientists between those who agree that humans are the cause of current climate changes and those who do not. Around 98% of scientists agree with the overwhelming evidence that human activity has caused our current predicament. Please stop presenting it as if it's all still up for debate because it's misleading and damaging!
Sarah , Cambridge

I'm normally a big fan of the Daily Politics, but was not impressed by your Climate Change debate on Monday 23rd. By having one professor for and one against the concept of man made climate change, you made it appear as if scientists are equally split on the idea. But in fact 99% agree that humans are causing global warming and that we need to do something about it. With only a coule of weeks til Copenhagen, why weaken the public's will to combate climate change?!
Dan, Bristol

I am disgusted by the inconsistency in the Global Warmmongers arguments. They are just so sloppy. Sarah says 98% of scientists are certain global warming is our fault and its a HUGE disaster, while Dan in Bristol says it's 99%! I mean, which one is it? Huh? 98% or 99%? How can we trust you if the data changes? Huh? Huh?

Stop stealing our material!

The International Syndicate of Satirists need to sue the pants off these global warmmongers- they are taking food from their childrens mouths!

'...I don’t think Jones’ emails had any personally compromising data in them, but that was just luck; this illegal act of cyber-terrorism against a climate scientist (and I don’t think that’s too strong a word) is ominous and frightening. What next? Deliberate monkeying with data on servers? Insertion of bugs into climate models? Or at the next level, since the forces of darkness have moved to illegal operations, will we all have to get bodyguards to do climate science?'
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Climate Scientist

'Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend;'

We can't have fighting in the War Room!

STFU Please before I pop a blood vessel

'When American wars kill lots of Muslims, inevitably including some civilians, incendiary images magically find their way to the people who will be most inflamed by them.'

Remind me again which American war provoked 9/11?

Bosnia? US forces against Christian Serbs for the sake of Bosnians Muslims? That war?

Kosovo? US forces against Christian Serbs for the sake of Kosovan Albanian Muslims? That war?

Somalia? US troops against Somali warlord on behalf of millions of starving Muslim Somalis? That war?

First Gulf War? US troops against Communist/Ba'thist Saddam Hussein on behalf of Muslim Arab Kuwaitis and Saudis and indirectly Iraqis? That war?

Afghanistan? US money and weapons supplied to Afghan Muslim Mujihadeen against Soviet communists on behalf of millions of Muslim Afghans? That war?

Stop me when you get bored.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Real knowledge and decision-making

'I am prejudiced because what I learned over years of farming — dealing with California labor, environmental, legal, and tax regulations, pruning, tractor driving, listening to my grandfather, and handling unsavory characters, understanding plant physiology and fruit-production, etc. — I think gave me a different, but in the long run as good an education as a BA/PhD in Classical languages.

I found the former harder to do than the latter, the world of the one rather brutal and existential, of the other sheltered and protected. In other words, I would trust the judgment of someone with Palin’s background on matters of Iran or Honduras or Putin far more than I would someone of Obama’s resume. I would trust my neighbor who farms 180 acres more than I would a chairman of an academic department. I know, I know, there are extreme binaries, but they are reflective of the lack of autonomy and physicality today and the undue emphasis on elite schooling as prerequisites for success. We know now that you can do nothing and still finish as the head of Harvard Law Review, or win a Nobel Prize, but if you miss an antlered moose, or run out of gas in the tundra, or fall overboard on a salmon boat, there is no Norwegian committee or Harvard Law Dean to bail you out.

Such is not an argument for anti-intellectualism or a dismissal of in-depth scholarship and research, but rather a reminder that Palin has led a full life that can be enhanced by more formal investigation. A chatty, rarefied Obama misses dearly a concrete past, where he had to succeed or fail on his own merits, in a competitive unkind environment, where the muscular world often conspires against the intellectual.

And boy, it sure shows as we are learning in just 10 months of his uninspired governance.'

I had a wonderful classical history professor called Dr. Gerberding. I will never forget the completely unfeigned respect he had for two of his students in a Roman history class we shared. Both students were way beyond 'normal' college age- one in his late fifties I would guess and the other even older. One was an engineer, and I'm pretty sure the other was a military man, although this is decades ago now. Both were what Doctor Gerberding called practical men- men who had learned through long years how difficult it is to take on the brute world and make some kind of significant, meaningful mark on it.

Even in my callow youth, I deeply respected Doctor Gerberding for his profound recognition of the value of the real-world knowledge these two men had garnered. It was particularly appropriate as we were studying Rome- a society which understood very well the value of hard-won experience, and how it cannot be mimicked. It was slightly shocking to me in my scholastic mindset to suddenly have the mundane (in my view) world of the great sweaty working America brought into our classroom. But even so I would end up getting a very real sense of what the Romans were about by comparing their fondness for practical solutions and technical excellence with the same qualities in my two classmates.

In my opinion, the incumbentocracy of the United States government is full of men and women who have never built anything, designed anything, run anything or borne the responsibility for the success or failure of something. They live in a world where actions have consequences they are uttely oblivious to and wouldn't care much if they knew. And the cumulative effect of their decision-making is taking America into a steep nose-dive.

There is still time to pull back on the stick, but not much. It will take someone with the steely resolve of Sarah Palin to do that.

Hands off!

Hands by your sides, or you don't get to do breast inspections any more!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Follow-up on Michael Yon Embed story

The wheels may grind a little slow, but they do go somewhere, eventually.

I contacted my MP, Lynne Featherstone, about the case of Michael Yon, an indepedent reporter who has done great reporting with both the British and American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is where I blogged about this issue before.

Earlier this year, he was embedded with UK troops. At the end of his embed, he accused the British Ministry of Defense of cancelling his embed prematurely for political reasons.

I asked my MP to try to find out for me whether there was any truth to this.

Here are the relevant passages from the response from Bill Rammell MP, Minister for the Armed Forces:

'Opportunities to embed with Task Force Helmand are in high demand from across the media... It is not possible to meet all requests, and slots must be time-limited to ensure that the opportunities are shared as widely and as fairly as possible. A normal embed for a national news organisation will last on average around two to three weeks, including time to travel.

Micheal Yon has been embedded with British Forces on a number of occasions before his recent visit- twice in Iraq in 2007, and once in Afghanistan in 2008. His latest embed had been scheduled to last for two weeks but we extended it to take account of delays to his arrival.

In all, his stay was extended twice and he was embedded for five weeks- much longer than is normally the case, and longer than had been agreed with him before he went.'

Unless Mr Yon has information to the contrary, it doesn't sound to me like he got a raw deal. Or indeed that his embed was ended prematurely. If anything, the opposite is true. I apologise to the MOD for barracking them without first having checked the facts.

On a slightly different point, I wish I could find the reportage from all these other embeds the MOD say are taking place. Perhaps they could put out a simple list of who has been, and where they publish... just a thought.

There is some interesting info at this link about the whole embed saga:

Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and Miranda rights

Just a small follow-up on the KSM trial in New York- apparently many commenters about the whole shebang don't understand the fundamental importance of Miranda rights. Many US trials have ended just after they began, when it was established that the defendant had not been read their Miranda rights, or had been read them in the wrong language, or had a hearing impediment or had by some other means not heard their rights from the arresting officer. And without consciously knowing your Miranda rights, you can't then be put on trial, because you may subsequently have incriminated yourself without knowing that you have a right not to do that.

The principle is, not only do you have rights, but you must be told in plain language what those rights are at the point where the criminal justice system takes action against you. Every person tried in the US judicial system can use as a valid defense that they were not informed of their Miranda rights. So unless Khalid Shiekh Mohammed was read his rights before the CIA interrogated him, his first defense in court will be along those lines. And that by itself may be the end of the trial.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eric Holder, stupider than sapwood

'Testifying for the first time on the decision, [Eric] Holder delivered a point-by-point rebuttal to his critics who say he's treating the suspects with a "pre-9/11 mentality."

"I know that we are at war," Holder declared.

The attorney general said he knew his decision would be controversial and considered it a "tough call." He said the defendants could have been tried in either military or civilian court, since, "The 9/11 attacks were both an act of war and a violation of our federal criminal law."

But he stood by his call to bring the five defendants into federal court, saying he considered "every alternative" and determined that New York is the venue "most likely to obtain justice for the American people."

"We need not cower in the face of this enemy. Our institutions are strong ... and our people are ready," Holder said. Asked what might happen if the suspects are acquitted, Holder replied: "Failure is not an option. These are cases that have to be won. I don't expect that we will have a contrary result."'

Yeah, and no one expected the Spanish inquisition!

Why is it that Obama appointees are such intellectual midgets? He considered every alternative? There were only TWO alternatives, a civilian court or a military tribunal. Given that 'The 9/11 attacks were both an act of war and a violation of our federal criminal law' why weren't allied bomber pilots who bombed German cities put on trial in Nazi Germany for murder? For a very good reason. War has a separate set of laws to personal acts of violence. As schoolchildren and the more advanced invertabrates know.

So first, super-low-IQ Holder says 'I know we are at war' and then a moment later that a civilian court in 'New York is the venue "most likely to obtain justice for the American people"'. Er, Hello. Can you say mentally challenged?

Major Hasan (Piss be upon him) had a business card with SOA on it- Soldier of Allah. The 9/11 hijackers were soldiers of Allah too. So were the men who organised their activities, and paid for their training. The wahhabists who want to force the whole world to submit to islam all consider themselves soldiers of Allah. And behave accordingly. Its a strange world where you just can't persuade the people you are fighting, the people who you constantly kill and who you call enemies, that you are at war with them! It is a Monty Python sketch waiting to be written...

Is it a life and death matter where the 9/11 scum are tried and convicted? No. It's stupid not to try them in a military court, given that we are at war, and they are non-uniformed combatants. But we all know that even if they are all found innocent, not a one of them will ever be released. They will all, at the very least, end their days in an American prison, because they are guilty, and we already know that. They have told us repeatedly.

So we know the end, what we don't know is the middle. Will any court in New York be able to provide anything like a realistic stab at a valid trial? Probably not. So there will likely be a completely unnecessary black mark against American justice, and excellent propaganda for Al Qaeda and the wahhabist hoi polloi. And if after all the lawyerly banging on about torture most of the prosecution evidence is ruled inadmissable, there is at least some chance that the five will HAVE to be found innocent. And at that point large numbers of things will melt and shit will hit many fans. All over the world, America-haters will dance in the streets. And then when the men are not released from custody, the America-haters will go apopletic and rage about American injustice and perfidy. It will be a perfect shit-storm.

And it was all completely avoidable, or would have been for anyone with a modest IQ. A military tribunal is not only the right place for the men to be tried from a historical and legal point of view, it would have avoided any possibility of the men being extricated by a lawyer with a brain and no morals. After they were convicted, they could have disappeared forever, and become shark-bait somewhere in the northern Caribbean.

But noooooooo.


'...What happens if KSM (and his co-defendants) "do not get convicted," asked Senate Judiciary Committee member Herb Kohl. "Failure is not an option," replied Holder. Not an option? Doesn't the presumption of innocence, er, presume that prosecutorial failure -- acquittal, hung jury -- is an option? By undermining that presumption, Holder is undermining the fairness of the trial, the demonstration of which is the alleged rationale for putting on this show in the first place.'

Good news for Sarah Palin

I have been reading up on Sarah Palin, who is the hot topic of the week because her new book came out. And I am struck by an unusual kind of desperation out there to define, limit, pigeonhole and sequester Sarah Palin which I can't ever remember having encountered before.

Sarah Palin has:

1) Run Alaska as Governor
2) Run for Vice President of the United States
3) ...

That's it. Its not an expansive CV. And yet many men who have run for President have not received a tenth of the attention that Sarah Palin (and her family, God bless them) has. Every now and again, some individual comes along who just forces the spotlight to focus on them. I have no idea why. Sarah Palin is in many ways an ordinary woman. I don't mean that in any sense to diminish her sterling qualities- thank God America is blessed with men and women like her.

But the response to Sarah Palin has been from the very beginning both disproportionately violent and vaguely creepy. In particular, the virulence of the response of the feminist sisterhood has been both vile and Freudian. The most sane and common-sense response to her would seem to be 'Heartlands American woman with both socially and politically conservative views probably not yet ready for prime time'. But it is almost impossible to find that response anywhere. The current meme being touted by Democrat bien-pensants is that Palin is the American Eva Peron waiting like a malevolent sprite to bring about Fascism-lite to an unsuspecting country. Really? Really?

But this is only the latest in a long line of melodramatic and crazed theories spun about Ms Palin. She was a narcissist spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on fancy dresses! She pretended her daughters baby was hers, for devious and malevolent reasons we can't quite work out..!. She's a book-burning fundamentalist who hates (or was it loves?) Jews! She's Hitler in a frock!

There truly was nothing too ridiculous, ludicrous or plain 'Ripleys Believe-it-or-not' for the NBC/ABC/MSNBC/NYT/WaPo/DailyKos axis. They just couldn't help themselves. Seriously, it was reminiscent of the Salem witch trials.

From the beginning, there had been the constant drumbeat of disdain and acid disapproval of Palin's patriotism- as if somehow her love of her country was intended solely as a reproach to the New York/DC sophisticates who are sooooooooo beyond all that flag-waving garbage. There was a similar steady bombardment of mockery and spite directed at her large, rambunctious family- again as if it she had the kids simply to poke the one-pampered-child-policy punditocracy in the eye. And against her hunting. And against her state. And against her University. And on and on.

Indeed, it seems to be the case that the very existence of the lovely, relatively unexceptional Sarah Palin is a 20-story banquos ghost pointing a flaming finger at the alpha feminists, elite Washingtonians and liberal punditocrats, revealing their intimate shames to the world.

Get this- even before the publication of her book, Going Rogue, there was a spoof of it called Going Rouge. Has that ever happened before? Are the people scared shitless by Sarah Palin so desperate to nullify any positive impact her first book might have that they have been skipping meals and working into the crack of dawn so their 'satire' gets published first? Wowsa.

When you have them that scared, you pretty much have them where you want them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A colossus bestriding the Earth

“He believes in vigorous engagement around the world – in strong alliances, in confronting our adversaries and standing up for human rights by making these points in a very public way,” Axelrod said. “He is confident. He’s someone who’s leading from strength and a deep belief in who America is and what we stand for. That confidence is reflected in the way he conducts himself on the world stage.”
White House senior adviser David Axelrod

Do you get the impression these people are rank amateurs? Treating your enemies exactly as you treat your friends will make the latter wonder if you know what the dictionary definition of 'friend' is, not solidify your friendship with them. A very important question would be, who does Barack Obama define as 'our adversaries'? Having dumped on Britain, Poland and the Czech republic recently, its a point that needs clarifying. Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have good reason to believe Obama does NOT consider them as such.

Does someone who is confident and who leads from strength need David Axelrod to point that out? Someone who is terrible, ham-fisted and wandering about with no real clue what there doing might. I can see how Axelrod is spinning this- only the truly great man would bow to the Japanese emperor and the Saudi King, confident that he is the greater figure. The trouble is, this is the same Barack Obama who not once but twice flipped the bird while debating his Democrat peers and laughed uproarously at crass murder jokes. This is no towering moral giant. This is no olympian decider gazing down on our foibles and moral hazards with a calm clear gaze. This is a starkly partisan man who has so far barely managed to hide his squalid disdain and bitter hatred for his ideological and tactical American enemies.

We could be in for some turbulent times. Obama has his own ideas about who Americas friends should be, and those ideas are shared by virtually no other Americans.

Monday, November 16, 2009

All Better!

'Australia 'sorry' for child abuse

Kevin Rudd: "A spirit that has stubbornly refused to be beaten"
Australian PM Kevin Rudd has apologised to the hundreds of thousands of people, some British migrants, who were abused or neglected in state care as children.'

What an enlightened age we live in! Veritably a nirvana. With a sprinkling of fairy dust and a few scripted words, we can fix centuries of thorny moral issues. Fantastic.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I have to get out of this place

'Labour peer Lord Smith, who was the first MP to come out openly as gay, warned that a free speech clause could lead to more attacks on homosexuals.

"If the signal that is sent is that it is all right to be intolerant... then I fear that we will end up seeing more violence," he said.'

Beyond parody, beyond mockery, beyond belief. Apparently, we are going to force people to be tolerant now or face legal sanction. I just don't know how to even approach critiquing something so monstrously stupid.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

So which is it?

'[Jonathan] Porritt says the shocks “need to come as rapidly as possible” and they must be “as traumatic as possible” — “otherwise, politicians and their electorates will rapidly revert to the current mix of non-specific anxiety and inertia.” If you don’t believe that rapid, traumatic disasters are a good thing, then just look at Hurricance Katrina, says Porritt — after that, Americans “started to think that it really might be time for the U.S. to get stuck in on climate change.”'

Hang on a sec- Hurricane Katrina is evidence of global warming? I distinctly remember being told in the most scathing and officious tones that weather is different from climate. When people dare to point out that this last winter was one of the coldest on record, the old weather isn't climate thing gets wheeled out immediately. But isn't Hurricane Katrina just a bit of weather? Seriously? If we can't have 'coldest winter on record' you can't have Katrina. Or am I being naive?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A personal note

'Put aside his ongoing contact with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, formerly a leader of Hasan’s mosque. A classmate of Hasan’s in a master’s program said Hasan told other students he was “a Muslim first and an American second.” Hasan titled a PowerPoint presentation he gave in an environmental-health seminar a year ago “Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam.” According to one witness, he said he thought Muslims should “stand up and fight against the aggressor,” i.e., us.'

Maybe journalists don't get out enough. I have my own first-person experience with an islamist- an ex-colleague of mine. She was happy to say to anyones face that she was a muslim first and British second (if at all). She is a Wahhabist, the people who represent the 'acceptable' face of Al Qaeda and its teachings. The fact that she worked in one of the most secure (and publicly recognised) buildings in Britain, to which she had an all-areas pass, didn't seem to phase anyone except me. This building was bombed WHILE I WORKED THERE. And yet this woman's access to the building went unchallenged. The 6,500 people who work in that building could pay an extremely high price for this prissy political correctness. I pray they don't.

Cameron to solve age-old problem

'In the annual Hugo Young lecture in London, Mr Cameron is expected to match Labour's pledge to eradicate child poverty by the end of the decade.'

I know its a political pledge and therefore means almost nothing, but I couldn't help the thought that popped into my head- Matthew 26:11. 'For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.'


"...Our alternative to big government is the big society, but we understand that the big society is not just going to spring to life on its own: we need strong and concerted government action to make it happen. We need to use the state to remake society."

Lenin, Karl Marx, George Bernard Shaw and Mao Tse Tung are sitting in hell grinning from ear to ear.

Obama and leadership during catastrophes

'This is my first objection to the "funeral of Diana" rhetoric we keep getting today, promptly from all affected politicians, whenever something bad happens and people get killed. The knowledge that their "touching remarks" are drafted by hard-bitten speechwriting staff, skilled in the professional emulation of human feeling, is something the public should bear constantly in mind.

But let us not only blame bureaucrats for the people who commission their work. President Barack Obama's display on Thursday made my point more clearly than it usually can be made, for he turned on a dime. He assumed the "presidential grieving tone" over the Fort Hood massacre, the moment after he'd just done an equally scripted segment of light joking banter for the benefit of the Tribal Nations Conference he was addressing. Millions in the television audience must have watched this incredibly cynical "quick flip." I wonder how many noticed it?'

I have to disagree with Mr Warren about his more general point, in a way which also sheds light on his specific gripe. Leaders making speeches to their people during time of national catastrophe and mourning is older than recorded history. Their job is NOT to convey personal grief, or even a facsimile of personal grief. It is to substantiate collective grief, and to speak on behalf of the whole tribe/nation the things which many are thinking and feeling. If successful, the speech will be remembered for how it particularised and shaped the effect of the catastrophe on the community. Not only is it an vital function, great men turn these occasions into moments of surpassing pathos and importance.

So, back to Obamas pathetic performance...

If Obama had planned in advance how to undermine the effectiveness of this particular type of public speech, the oration at a time of public grief, he could not have thought of a better way than the one he used. Affixed to the beginning of his oration were two minutes of after-dinner-speech banter. This completely destroyed the integrity of the dramatic moment that catastrophe orations require. Obama is not stupid. He must have realised that this was the effect his behaviour would have.

To me, this has nothing to do with 'personal sincerity'. It would be silly to pretend that the leader of a country of three hundred million would personally grieve when a particular person or persons died who he had never met or known. But leaders have a special responsibility, whether they are priests, who very commonly lead grieving, or politicians, who less frequently are called upon to do so. And if they don't instinctively understand this role, and fulfil it, they will store up a great well of public disgust and resentment.

That is more than evident in this case.

That's some President you got there

Would get on a plane to Denmark to tout the Chicago bid for the Druglympics; wouldn't get on a plane to Germany to celebrate twenty years of the end of Communism.

Would spend a whole day patting Democrat congressmen on the back to prep them for voting for his healthcare legislation; wouldn't spend one minute with the bereaved families and injured at Fort Hood.


Monday, November 09, 2009

The world as he wants it to be

Not the world as it is, but the world as it ought to be.

It's easier to understand Barack Obama and his administrations behaviour if you try this mental check. When Obama talks about Tea Party people, he doesn't talk about the actual Tea Partiers. He talks instead about what fanatical right-wing critics of huge public spending and socialist welfare programs SHOULD be like. Ok, so there's this huge disjuncture between his description and the Tea Partiers everybody else knows, watches and listens to- but whatever.

When Obama talks about FOX news, he isn't really talking about FOX news, but what FOX ought to be like. FOX should really be wall-to-wall bimbos with an IQ of 35 ranting right-wing invective 23 hours a day, with a few seconds of trivial news chucked in occasionally. I watch probably two hours of FOX a day, and boy it is not like that. Big Rupe money buys some serious quality journalists and anchors. Doesn't matter- what interests Barack is the caricature of FOX, how FOX ought to be, and indeed how it is in the minds of millions of lefties in the US.

If you tick through the issues- foreign policy, healthcare, immigration, education etc. and think for a moment, you will realize that Obama policies are designed not to interact with the actual world, but the world that ought to be. Countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea and Iran ought to be like Belgium or Denmark- but they aren't. Socialised medicine ought to mean fantastic quality healthcare at low cost for everybody, from cradle to grave; but it doesn't. It never has been. Dozens of countries have tried. Remember- 95% of ALL NEW DRUGS are developed in the United States or by American companies. Where are those drugs going to be invented when the socialists take away the incentive to bother? Mass immigration of one ethnic/language group into the US in the tens of millions ought to be great- low labour costs, another addition to the kalaidescope of ethnicities etc; but it isn't. Many indicators show that whereas in the eighties and nineties Mexican immigrants learned English, adopted American lifestyles and tried to integrate, now they don't bother. They only speak Spanish, retain their Mexican culture and lifestyle and are surrounded by myriads of other Mexicans doing the same thing. So instead of learning the culture and habits of a functional society, they re-create the dysfunctional one they just left- brilliant. And into the bargain, the Democrats have 'raised their consciousness' and introduced them to politics of blackmail and grievance. Double brilliant.

On issue after issue, Obama and the Pelosi/Reid congress deal not with world in its fullness, but with caricatures. It can't end well. [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Easy Republican Solution

'One would think such an historic and noble action, as the Democrats have styled it, would enjoy robust support from the full spectrum of the House Democratic caucus. But in this case, only those who occupy safe seats (or think they do) can be corralled. If Pelosi gets her 218 votes, it will be unprecedented. It is fair to say that never will a piece of legislation this sweeping (and damaging) have been passed over the opposition of so much of the electorate and on the votes of such a narrow ideological slice of the governing class.' [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

It would seem to me that the Republicans could go a long way to solving both their image problem and their substance problem by making this guaruntee: Vote us in, and we will IMMEDIATELY repeal any legislation passed by Pelosi/Reid/Obama which nationalises US healthcare, or prepares the ground for the same.

Something tells me that would bust Democrat control of both houses of Congress wide open. Its simple, undestandable to everybody, and gets to the nub. They probably won't though...

None so blind...

'Investigators are still trying to establish a motive for the attack, Mr Grey said, despite interviews with more than 170 witnesses and victims.'

Lets see:

1. Yelled 'Allahu Akbar' whilst shooting American soldiers
2. Constantly prosyltised his Wahhabist Islam
3. Gave a lecture on Wahhabist Islam to his colleagues at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. (much to their disgust).
4. Constantly got into arguments with servicemen and women about American crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq
5. Posted pro-Jihad and pro-suicide bombing statements on Islamic websites
6. Was about to be posted to Iraq

That is a mystery. Deep deep mystery. Oh well, close the case, move on please, nothing to see here.

In other news, British troops in Sangin say they can't understand why local Taliban are planting IED's to blow them up when they go out on patrol. One officer was reported as saying "We just can't figure it out. We don't know what their motivation is. I guess we can never really know. Its just one of those mystery things."

Shameful and childish foreign policy

There is constant back and forth across the ideological front lines about who the realists are. Claims about the 'reality-based community' and people for whom reality is a stranger are bandied around ad nauseum.

So think about this for a few seconds. The Obama administration foreign policy, such as it can be discerned, is about not interfering with the internal politics of other nations, respecting their sovereignty, and allowing American interests to be subsumed to the interests of the community of nations (please take me to task if I have misrepresented Obamas policy).

That is the policy. Unless you happen to live in Honduras or Fiji. In which case, the United States is acting like the Russians during soviet times when dealing with one of their small satellite states like Czechoslovakia. Everybody but the most obtuse have now come to the conclusion that whatever the initial appearance of events in Honduras, what went on during the expulsion of Zelaya was both constitutional and legal. The State department announced "the termination of a broad range of assistance to the government of Honduras as a result of the coup d'etat that took place on June 28." This despite overwhelming proof as provided by the Honduran Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress that removing Zelaya from power was done in strict accordance with the Honduran constitution.

As for Fiji, there is a constant battle between native Fijians, who constitute about 50% of the population, and immigrant south asian Indians, who also constitute about 50% of the population. Fiji is locked into a racial and ethnic contest for which virtually no democratic solution appears to be possible. But whatever the case, America has no skin in the game. It has never been the colonial power there (Britain was), and has no commercial or other interests in the islands. So why get all heavy with it?

So you can understand this exchange:

'[Ian Kelly, the State department spokesman] was deploring ... a decision by "Fiji's de facto government to expel New Zealand's acting head of mission as well as Australia's high commissioner." That last act, according to Kelly, was "unprecedented in that Australia now holds the chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum," so "the United States calls for the restoration of Fiji's independent judiciary and the rights to free speech and assembly that are essential to the country's return to democracy."

The burst of toughness left the reporters in the room perplexed.

REPORTER: Exactly what's the U.S. connection there? The government of Fiji expels diplomats from Australia and New Zealand, and you care because--

KELLY: We care because we care about the restoration of democracy in Fiji. Last April, they--the president abolished the constitution--


KELLY: and dismissed all judges and constitutional appointees and imposed emergency rule.

REPORTER: Yeah, that happened. But the operative word being there last when? Operative words? Last--

KELLY: April.

REPORTER: April, okay. And so--

KELLY: I mean, we have an interest in democracy returning to Fiji.

REPORTER: Well, I understand. But what does the expulsion of the diplomats from Australia and New Zealand have to do with the restoration of democracy?

KELLY: It was--we consider it be an unjust act to expel them out of the country.'

The message seems to be this- if you are some microscopic speck on the globe with no geo-political significance, former history of 'American imperialism' or have a right-wing government, you can expect a torrid time from the Obama White House and the State Dept. Everybody else gets a free pass, no matter how murderous, brutal or un-democratic. Especially if your government is left-wing, hates America, or came into conflict in any way with George W. Bush.

As foreign policies go, that is utterly pathetic, worthy of a high school freshman. Remember, at the same time as President Bush was invading Afghanistan and Iraq, he was also having talks with North Korea, mentoring the European talks with Iran over their nuclear program, and having sparky discussions with the Russians over missile defense. Thats a grown-up foreign policy. Of course you talk to your enemies, often more than you talk to your friends. But you don't give anybody a free pass. You don't stop holding to your fundamental principles because they bring you into conflict with dictators or thugocracies. America has intervened hundreds of times all over the world to help democrats, relieve the suffering of innocent peoples at the hands of their own disgusting governments (Liberia, Somalia, Zimbabwe and many others), and should be proud of doing so.

The reality is that without American intervention, the world would be a much more brutal, hungry and repressive place. No other country has the means or the intention of doing the job America has done for many decades; of feeding the starving and coming to the aid of the powerless. Who provided the great mass of aid to the tsunami victims in Indonesia or the earthquake victims in Pakistan? I'll give you a clue. It wasn't their brother muslims in Saudi Arabia or Iran. They are too busy buying another gold Rolls Royce or pumping more money into IEDs in Iraq to bother with homeless starving muslims who need aid.

I will make a prediction that the current US adminstration will go down in history as a petulant and amoral exception to the general run of US foreign policy, which is by far the most benign and helpful of any great power in history. For shame.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Its a shrivelled, selfish dream

'The founders envisioned a federal government constitutionally limited to defending our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For that to happen, we must have at least one political party that strongly advocates limiting the power of government. For much of the 19th century, that party was the Democrats. For the early part of the 20th century and from the early 1960s through 1988, that party was the Republicans.'

So far, so Tea Party.

'Today, it is difficult to find noninterventionists in either party.' Here an ambivalance starts to emerge. What kind of non-intervention are we talking about? Non-intervention in American lives, or non-intervention in the lives of say, Iraqis?

'The Democrats demonstrate a disdain for capitalism, free trade and the validity of contracts. They cheer the restriction of certain types of speech on campus and in federal law, and think nation-building is our moral obligation, even when there is no discernible U.S. interest involved.'

So we're ticking along, pointing out the obviously true, and then we get to the last point, about nation-building. Democrats are for nation-building? Overseas? Outside US borders? Where is a single piece of evidence to support that? The Clinton era was notable for its almost complete lack of interest in the world outside US borders. Rwandans sought intervention in vain, as did a series of Balkans and Kosovans (until it was too late and then without ground troops). Somalia had a teeny tiny intervention which disappeared as soon as there was a bit of cordite smoke. Africa was by and large left to itself. George W Bush sent ten times as much development aid to Africa as Clinton. Ask Bono or Bob Geldof.

At this point, I have to wonder why this critique would pursue such an odd (and counter-factual) line of argument.

'Lately, the Democrats have been popularly associated with principled opposition to waging war in far-flung corners of the globe. But evidence on the ground today tells a somewhat different tale.'

Principled opposition? At the beginning, from 2002 until well into 2004, 99% of Democrat politicians, especially the senior ones, were on the record as supporting the intervention. Principled opposition my arse. But what is interesting here is that first Mr Crane accuses the Democrats of being blanket nation-builders, refusing to only build only those nations which are in Americas selfish interest. And then he goes on to imply that Iraq was NOT a war in American self-interest. Really? Strategic middle-eastern country with bags of oil, which America needs...

'As for the GOP, it has outwardly abandoned the limited-government principles of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Little other evidence is needed than the Medicare prescription drug benefit -- with its $13-trillion unfunded liability -- passed with a strong-arm campaign by the Bush White House and a Republican congressional majority.'

Yeah, I thought that was stupid and un-conservative too.

'What happened to the Republicans? Well, the two Bush presidencies didn't help. Neither did the supply-side movement, focused on tax cuts and economic growth. Supporters of those ideas didn't talk about spending cuts, much less the proper role of government. They had the effect of replacing "liberty" as the motivating force behind the GOP with "growth," a somewhat less-inspiring ideal.'

'But perhaps most pernicious has been the role played by the neoconservatives. The late William F. Buckley used his conservative flagship publication, National Review, to make anti-communism the litmus test for joining the conservative movement. Dealing with the Soviets during the Cold War was clearly an important task, but it should not have opened the door of the limited-government movement to the neoconservatives, who are now -- and always have been -- advocates of big government. With the neocon foot in the policymaking door after the Cold War ended, the drumbeat for war in Iraq began in earnest a decade before 9/11.'

I hope this guy is kidding. A decade before 9/11 a huge US/UK/International army was swanning around in southern Iraq. Or had he forgotten? It wasn't just some backroom drumbeat! And then because George Bush the first and Colin Powell were temperamentally non-inteventionists (exactly the opposite of the point this chap is making) they decided that rather than eliminate Saddam Hussein they would leave him in power as a lame duck. That worked out well.

There is a name for the political view advanced by Mr Crane- splendid isolationism. America would sit unmoved and impervious behind its massively fortified borders and glower at the rest of the world, daring it to make its move. All I can say about it, is that I'm happy that there are such a tiny number of Americans with that opinion. It is shrivelled and myopic and unworthy of a great and free nation.

There is absolutely nothing contradictory about wanting small government and maximum liberty for Americans at home, and working to free other peoples around the world from criminal and tyrannical governments or oligarchies so they can have the same liberties. To my knowledge, there is no prescription for a particular American foreign policy in the founding documents of the United States. If an American Presidential candidate campaigns to pursue a foreign policy committed to freeing peoples from dictatorial government, and is elected, there is nothing in the constitution preventing him or her from doing that.

'Republicans should take this opportunity to return to their traditional noninterventionist roots and throw their neoconservative wing under the bus. The Republicans have a chance at this moment to reclaim the mantle of the party of nonintervention -- in your healthcare, in your wallet and in the affairs of other nations.'

An America which did not intervene in the affairs of other nations would today be looking out on a world dominated by murderous fascist empires. If you think thats fine, join Mr Crane and his Cato institute. If you think that defeating evil regimes is both necessary and morally right, you'll just have to ignore him.,0,277258.story