Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dreary but true

Malcolm Stevas

"'If you think that Labour is currently performing even tolerably well as an opposition, stop reading now - because this column is based on a premise on which we might as well agree to disagree. As I see it, Ed Milliband has yet to set out his stall - on anything... lacuna of an effective English narrative of democracy and ... There ought to be an identifiable alternative national narrative... the most important arguments of the ...It is always bad when that adversarial challenge is lacking...there are legitimate, fundamental...The Loyal Opposition has a part to play. I think we should all hope that they soon start playing it.'

How important is all this? Arguably it ought to be fundamental, but really, how important is it in practice? Earlier this week a couple of major polls (assuming one believes their findings to be accurate/useful) confirmed yet again that Labour is doing remarkably well, apparently outstripping the Conservatives in support. This suggest to me yet again that an awful lot of one's fellow citizens have either very short memories or a complete inability to appreciate very basic economic facts of life; that the entrenched voting bloc for the State and its handouts has become exactly the impermeable barrier to economic liberalism which we all predicted & feared; and that the political idealism inherent in Alex Dean's post is all for nothing. Reason and rationality are redundant; psephology consists now of pushing the right buttons to see which policies will provide short-term comforts to that lowest common denominator rump of the electorate whose mindless self-interest governs our lives: the Party offering these will win. Easy. I'll tell my son and his friends to dump their A-levels, get a girl pregnant, sign on, move into a council flat – and vote Labour. Along with many millions of others. Last one to leave the country, etc."

That is effectively a summation of where I am at the moment. The last election showed that for a huge lump of British people, there is nothing to public policy but what I can squeeze from the public exchequer, and by extension my fellow citizens. I will get via the ballot box what I am too lazy to get by honest work or endeavor.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From the "We are such idiots" File

'Free Americans, allowing themselves to be treated like prisoners at the county lock-up, just because they want to fly to Granny’s for Thanksgiving. Why?

Napolitano says it’s vital to our security, though nobody can point to a single attack foiled by this fondling. She insists this is a key part of their “layered” approach to air safety.'

We could simply select out the middle eastern, African and Pakistani people travelling by air and give them all the full-on security checks of course. You know, actually do the job properly. But then, according to my old colleague at AP, the islamist one, that would make us worse than the terrorists, and would constitute something worse than murder- racism!!

Our civilisation will disappear up its own arse very shortly. That is what happens when you bend over so far backwards to appear even-handed, just and sensitive. Don't get me wrong- there is a place for even-handedness, justice and sensitivity. Just not when it leads to such obvious stupidity as full-body-scanning children, grannies and the obviously non-psychopathic.

If we had had proper security using profiling like the Israelis use before 9/11, it wouldn't have happened. Neither would the shoe bomber and the panty bomber. Given that the terrorists and the islamists like my ex-colleague hate us and don't give us any credit anyway, why are we still trying to prove that we are whiter than white and more virtuous than a Monastery the day before the Pope visits?

We aren't that virtuous, and guess what, it doesn't matter. We are still vastly above the historical standard, which is fine. But let's not get carried away with it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Its been a weird few days

Two absolutely staggering moments on Newsnight. Obama talking today about the situation in America since taking office. This is a paraphrase 'When I came into office, we had an emergency, and because of our necessary response to the emergency, people are feeling government intruding into their lives'. As a nutshell of what has happened in the last two years, that has to be the most mendacious misrepresentation that this most mendacious of presidents has yet come out with.

The other moment was Stan Greenberg, a Clinton advisor talking about the Tea Party and the Republicans. According to him, Obama is going to be right up against it during the next two years because the Tea Party/ Republicans are insular and obsessed with their own 'cult like ideas'. One thing is right. The next two years are going to be very exciting if most Democrats believe that the Tea Party, which 57% of Americans say they agree with, has 'cult like ideas'. I presume Greenberg thinks the Founding Fathers started a cult....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Picking at scabs

I'm sure that conservatives and libertarians have some of the same mental tics, but why is it that Liberals constantly rehash the same flimsy arguments over and over again, like a acne-riddled teen picking at his scabs?

'The Case for Calling Them Nitwits

They blow each other up by mistake. They bungle even simple schemes. They get intimate with cows and donkeys. Our terrorist enemies trade on the perception that they’re well trained and religiously devout, but in fact, many are fools and perverts who are far less organized and sophisticated than we imagine. Can being more realistic about who our foes actually are help us stop the truly dangerous ones?'

This is about the fifteen-thousandth variation on this argument:

Many Muslim terrorists are badly trained -->

Badly trained terrorists are easy to defeat, and often defeat themselves -->

Muslim terrorism is very little actual threat to us -->

Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our huge anti-terrorism apparatus are completely out of proportion to the threat.

Interestingly, the very same people who aver this will also aver very shortly thereafter that even a tiny threat from man-made global warming means we should dismantle industrial society, live like stone-age paupers and send all our money to Bangladesh, but that is bye the bye.

The most important thing to understand about this argument is that terrorists don't stay incompetent. People learn, they develop skills, they mature into much better terrorists. Nineteen mainly Saudi Muslims demonstrated this quite clearly on September 11, 2001.

Left to their own devices, in their safe havens like the FATA region of Pakistan, the southernmost islands of the Phillipines and Somalia, the terrorists will develop skills and weapons which can cause immense harm on an immense scale. They intend to, and will, unless we stop them.

Lefty nuances about what we should call terrorists did not defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. Lots and lots of squaddies, Marines and special forces hit squads did. Unpopular though this is with many on the left AND right, that is what will have to happen every time Al Qaeda set up shop somewhere- viz Mauritania, Morocco and Burkina Faso.

All the young men who poured into Iraq to fight the Crusaders, who then died in the great meat grinder, are young men who will not be available in the Maghreb, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and the other battlefronts of our war on Muslim terror. They cannot become undercover terror operatives either. And the ones who went back home, having confronted our might, took with them stories of disillusion and defeat.

In this war, victory will come when the enemy learns that his cause is hopeless. Implacable will to fight on the fronts that exist is what will bring that about. Bone-headed flim-flam like this argument seek to disguise both the nature of the enemy, and the conditions of his defeat.

Shall we ask the government of Somalia whether Al Shabab are nitwits? I don't think so. Or the government of Algeria about Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb?

The time is coming very shortly when we will need to send a big ****ing army to Somalia, and destroy Al Shabab root and branch. The alternative? Another Afghanistan.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Calling a political woman a whore is now OK as long as she is on the right

'FORGIVE ME for not feeling great sympathy for Meg Whitman — or womanly outrage on her behalf. The California candidate for governor has gotten ample political mileage from being called a “whore’’ — in a cellphone conversation, recorded and leaked, between her opponent, Jerry Brown and an aide (who did the name-calling). In a year filled with formidable female candidates, this may have been the most gender-loaded dustup, and the most predictable. Whitman claimed the high road, demanded a mea culpa for the women of California, and watched the headlines pile up.'

Gosh, time flies. Just a few months back, everybody on the left, including I'm sure this idiot, were bemoaning the lack of civility in public life. Like a vast horde of Victorian school marms, they wittered on endlessley about how terribly gauche and beastly those TeaBaggers were being.

And now, in the twinkling of an eye, rudeness and incivility have morphed into 'trash talk' which is apparently AOK! All part of the rough and tumble of a merry democracy, dontcha know? She should toughen up, the stupid bitch!

I am sooooooooooooooo bored with the intellectual vacuity of the left, its asinine whining and 'can't remember what I said yesterday' dopeyness.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hell hath no fury like that of an electorate scorned

'"It's a basic, simple message that I think hits the sweet spot of appealing to conservatives and independents simultaneously." To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, it is a message that has the additional advantage of being true.'

'Barone adds: "Liberals who are puzzled by what's happening should take 30 seconds and watch this ad."'

Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Friday, October 15, 2010

First article I ever read about Blair that rings true

'...I have never been able to detect, in his behaviour or speeches, any evidence of bedrock Labour sentiments, and this memoir fails totally to explain why he drifted into the party. There was never any real reason. It was happenstance. Or rather I prefer the Quixotic explanation offered by his former housemaster at Fettes, Eric Anderson and his wife Poppy. Blair was always a consummate actor, and was given the part of Anthony in the school production of Julius Caesar, although not yet a senior boy. He had a startling success in the part, as one would expect. Poppy did the costumes, and dressed the followers of Brutus in blue. Anthony and his men wore red. "And that," she said, "was how Blair became Labour."'

Many is the time I mused on this myself. I, unlike about 97% of the British population, have always liked and continue to like Tony Blair. I didn't like his policies in many crucial respects, but as a man, I found him optimistic, warm and humane. He is confident, but not narcissistic and vain like Obama. He is also a good Christian, in an era where those are as rare as hens teeth. He is also one of very few politicians who seems to understand that with great power comes great responsibility.

The story of British politics for at least the last three or four decades has been one of running away from responsibility and the refusal to weild power in the cause of right and good. Obsessed with pampering the not-very-poor of Britain, most British politicians have paid scant regard to the rest of the world, lest they be seen as 'neo-colonial'. Never, never, never accept the premises of your enemies!

'His admiration for Margaret Thatcher was unbounded and had he followed his father and become a Tory MP he would have been her natural successor.'

What a terrible thought. What Mrs Thatcher (PBUH) conspicuously lacked was a successor. What if Tony Blair had been the one? I say terrible because what actually happened was so vastly inferior to that outcome it hardly bears thinking about. Whatever New Labour was, it had a vast sea anchor hauling it backwards called Gordon Brown.

'Blair's instinctual conservatism expresses itself in various ways. One is his good manners. He has the best manners of any political leader I have come across, here or abroad. I happen to believe manners are important, in theological terms an outward sign of inward grace. They spring, certainly in Blair's case, from a profound love of order, which is illustrated, time and again, in his memoir.'

What a wonderful and original thought. It also reveals another strand of why I like the man. Here is another-

' of the most touching things to emerge from this memoir is Blair's half-formulated desire to be much more ruthless, at a personal level, than he is. But it is beyond him. One cannot see him, like Lloyd George, snarling at a colleague: "I want him dead chicken by midnight" or, like Churchill, marching up and down the Cabinet room, saying aloud to himself, "I want them all to feel my power."'

I wish, as I'm sure millions of others in the country do, that he had been more ruthless with Brown, throwing him under the bus at any one of dozens of excellent opportunities. But he didn't. He soldiered on. But he wouldn't have been himself (he would have been Peter Mandelson) if he had thrown him overboard.

I have always had a lot of time for Paul Johnson, and this is one of the most interesting pieces about Tony Blair I've read.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do they really know what they are doing?

'Speaking in Parliament, Mr Byrne said he backed the idea of cutting the number of quangos, a process he said the previous Labour government had set in motion.

But he accused the government of changing its argument over why they should be axed when it became clear that costs associated with closing them would not lead to any savings and could cost money.

He dubbed Mr Maude "the most expensive butcher in the country".

He said: "Labour had a plan for steadily saving £0.5bn by carefully closing 25% of quangos over the next few years.

"The Tories now need to tell us whether their desperation for headlines and faster cuts means the cost of closing quangos is actually bigger than the savings. And while they're at it, they should tell us whether their manifesto commitment for 20 new quangos is now on ice." '

QUANGOs are and were a very useful way of expanding government and regulation without giving the appearance of doing so. That is why I hate them. And want to see them done away with.

But for the second time in a few weeks, I find myself agreeing with Labour. I feel dirty, but it's true. Francis Maude, the Coalition minister in charge of getting rid of the QUANGOs, said this:

"What people find so irritating is the sense that there is this huge amount of activity incontinently set up, much of it by the last government, by bodies which are not in any way accountable - no one can be held accountable for what they do and that is what we are seeking to change," he told MPs.

Really, that is the main reason for getting rid of QUANGOs?

I'm sorry, when you are spending £135 BILLION a year you don't have, trivial questions of non-accountability are as chaff in the wind. When we have national expenditure at or below national income, we'll get back to precious arguments about whether a QUANGO can be held accountable or not.

The trouble with the Labour criticisms is that the current coalition already have a track record in grandstanding while actually not following through on the meaty substance. Just like with the Child Benefit nonsense, where Labour pointed out that for all the damage caused, only a billion pounds will be saved, out of a total benefits budget of about three hundred billion. And not only that, if the losers from the Child Benefit means testing get a tax rebate to compensate, the exchequer may actually be WORSE OFF.

My faith in the competence of the Coalition is being sorely tested.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A real laugh out loud moment

'John Simpson says BBC news was never left wing
John Simpson, the BBC World Affairs editor, yesterday attacked Mark Thompson for claiming that corporation used to be left wing, insisting that its news coverage has always been "straight as a die".'

Well, if you say so, John, it must be true.

The Pacific

Something I just read tweaked my memory, and my annoyance, at the TV miniseries 'The Pacific'.

As campaigns go, the US operations in the Pacific in World War II barely figure as world changing events. While of course for the participants in them they were tremendously important, for everyone else, pretty much not.

This probably very expensive mini-series tries to turn the not epic into an epic. By every measure, the US pacific campaign was strategically unimportant. Imagine a world where Japan controlled all the islands in the Pacific? Mmmm. Scary it isn't. The Phillipines, I hear you ask? Yes, Saudia Arabia might have to forego its domestic staff. Eeek.

On all measures, this was a small-time deal. Numbers of men involved: numbered in the thousands, at most tens of thousands. Both the Eastern and Western fronts in Europe counted combatants by the hundreds of thousands and millions. Strategic value of what was being fought over: most of the islands fought over in the Pacific were insignificant specks in the vast expanse of the ocean.

My biggest bugbear is the strategy chosen by the US commanders. With the exception of a few bigger islands like Guadalcanal and Guam, none of the other islands needed assaulting. Unless the island had airfields or naval bases, they didn't need attacking at all. What is the worst thing about an island? It is very easy to besiege. Just cut it off from supply by sea and air and wait.

So what did the US Admirals choose to do? Yup. No waiting!! Hell no. We can't just wait six months until they are all starved and thirsty, and just take them prisoner. Nope. Gotta go in there with guns blazing and get a few hundred more marines killed. Makes for much better television.

Even the bigger islands, like the Phillipines and Okinawa, could have been reduced slowly, with the understanding that the Japs had no means of resupply. So rather than charging at the machine guns, the US could simply have squeezed like a python, reducing the area controlled by the enemy and denying him movement and resupply. But no. Lives must be expended, heroes created, and myths promulgated.

Mostly though, what annoys me about 'The Pacific' is that there is no equivalent of the lavish mini-series for the many, vastly more strategically significant Eastern front campaigns. For no good reason that I know of, the Russians have never taken the time or the effort to memorialise the seven million men who died fighting the Nazis in this way. I wish they would, as an antidote to that strain of American braggadocio which continually tells us that it was they who 'won the war'.

Stop bleating or people might notice

'First, since we don't have a well-integrated sense of what our values are--we find it very hard to express what we stand for in any kind of inspiring, compelling way.'

Many progressives are ignorant. Ignorant of history, ignorant of political theory, ignorant of human nature... just plain ignorant. Being vague and dealing in vast generalities are in my experience almost invariably a cover for not knowing very much.

But this is really an insignificant factoid.

Progressivism has been immensely successful. So why don't progressives feel successful?

Progressivism has been vastly more successful in the real America of the last seventy years than conservatism, yet progressives still see themselves as weak and ineffectual. Despite changing America from a nation of free enterprise and tough individuality to one dominated by big business, big government, corparatism and dependency on state programs, progressives don't see themselves as successful.

And conversely, despite enormous amounts of evidence to the contrary, conservatives in America consider themselves successful, and their nation still evincing all the old pre-New Deal qualities. Go figure.

Indubitably, I could do a better job of summing up both the real 'accomplishments' and the real principles of progressivism than many progressives, but there is no question that they have transformed America.

The people with the real problem are American conservatives who don't see that vast swathes of what is around them was created by progressive policies. How much of US agriculture is subsidised by the Federal Government? Who owns US airports? Who owns most of the US airlines? How is the vast bulk of old age medical care provided in the US? How much of the United States is owned by one government agency or another? How much of US business is tied to government by very strong ties of 'lobbying' and other corrupt practises? How much of what goes on in the US is now directly or indirectly connected to government funding?

Because most elected representatives in the US have very low levels of knowledge or concern about wider issues of public policy, most of this has happened with very little or no resistance from the Republican party. In fact, large amounts of it were their work.

The US has a vast distance to travel if it ever chooses to go back to its pre-New Deal incarnation.

So why do progressives feel like failures? Why are they afraid the their brand is weak?

What progressives should be immensely proud of is that under the radar, without ever having a strong brand, they have transformed America into a stodgy, statist, corporatist monolith. That vast swathes of their policy are now the status quo. And that conservatives think they won!

There is the very first twinkling of recognition in the American people that their country became a progressive nightmare while they were busy with personal matters, a recognition prompted by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin mostly. But for now, most Americans are still asleep.

My advice- don't wake them up.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

That light at the end of the tunnel is a train

Amidst the constant swishing back and forth of zillions of issues in the blogosphere, there is one which never seems to get any air time.

During the Healthcare debate, it became obvious that most Americans, whether you lump them onto the Left or the Right, don't know much about how America works. Most Americans don't seem to understand how far the Progressive agenda has already transformed the country. After military spending, the three main costs of the US Federal government are: Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. If the people in the Tea Party are actually who and what they say they are, then those four things are all in the cross-hairs for huge cuts.

But if you go item by item, and ask most Americans which of those four they want cut, most don't want ANY of them to be cut.

Now as a Liberal I would of course advocate doing away with Medicare and Social Security, which grossly distort the US healthcare market and pensions market respectively. Medicaid is essential, although it could well be reformed to make sure that its resources go where they ought. And military and intelligence spending should always be the last thing cut, as protecting the country is the first job of government.

But most Americans want Medicare and Social Security gold plated, rather than eliminated. So how can the enormous US debt ever be repaid, and how can the yearly deficits ever decrease?

This thing isn't over. It hasn't even begun.

Well at least we can all finally agree on something

'Obama: 'We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan'

'President Obama dispatched his national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, and CIA Director Leon Panetta to Pakistan for a series of urgent, secret meetings on May 19, 2010.'

That was after yet another planned atrocity by yet another Pakistani, this time in Times Square, New York.

Oh well, after nine years repeating the same thing over and over and over again, it seems that finally people have noticed the facts and begun to respond to them. Ho Hum.

Which Election was he watching Update

Recently I critiqued Lord Ashcrofts analysis of the recent British general election. Here is more analysis from the venerable Norman Tebbit:

'Some while ago I wrote that whether the Tories won or lost the election, much of the praise or blame should go to Michael Ashcroft. His book makes plain his disappointment and puzzlement that the worst government we have endured within living memory, probably for more than a century, was not absolutely thrashed. Of course the grossly unfair distribution of seats made it harder for David Cameron. In 2001, 10.7 million Labour votes, against 8.4m for the Conservatives and 4.8m for the Lib Dems, yielded a majority for Tony Blair. But this year, when the numbers were virtually reversed with 10.7m votes for Cameron, 8.6m for Gordon Brown and 6.8m for the Lib Dems, Cameron was 20 short of a majority.

Nonetheless had Cameron earned as many supporters as Margaret Thatcher in 1979 (13.7million), 1981 (13.1m) or 1987 (13.8m), he would have been home and dry. Before the campaign started the Tories had been well in the lead, but the more the electors heard from Mr Cameron and his team, the fewer liked it sufficiently to come out to vote.'

So the crucial question left over from the election as far as the Tories are concerned is, who are those three million people who will not vote for David Cameron?

I think the answer lies in the numbers. Over a period of eight years, thirteen million people voted for Thatcherism. Almost certainly the mostly the same thirteen million people. Have those people stopped believing in Liberal economics and personal freedom and personal responsibility? Very highly unlikely.

So why would three million of them not vote for Cameron? Because what was on offer is not Thatcherism, or even a debased Thatcherism. It is Statist and Big Green. A cursory perusal of the campaign literature and Camerons speeches will confirm this.

So why would Ashcroft tell a different story? Why would he launch one completely spurious accusation against Cameron, that the Conservatives launched zillions of 'relentless counterproductive attacks'? Like I said before, if they did, I missed them all.

Is Ashcroft trying to create the conditions for the next General Election, where his version of history becomes the starting point for how to run a successful campaign? Because the numbers say he will never be right.

Thatcherism was successful because it ditched crucial parts of Conservatism. It was much more egalitarian and against established power and paternalism than the Conservatism of the first half of the twentieth century. It offered the scruffy white van man the heft of a major political party against the snobbery and entitlement still endemic in British society. It offered those with no 'family' the possibility of wealth, success and genuine improvement. It also started down the road of destroying the baleful nexus of government and big business which is the greatest enemy of capitalism, free markets and wealth creation.

But then John Major took over. A man who certainly doesn't understand anything about economics of any variety, or perhaps which shoe should go on which foot. The whole Thatcherite project gradually ground to a halt. With the Labour takeover of 1997, business as usual resumed. As the state resumed its steady expansion, small businesses were progressively squeezed, and big business resumed its love affair with big government.

So there was a choice in 2010. Would the Conservative party restart the Thatcherite project, which is essentially Libertarian, or go back to paternalism, elitism and pandering to whatever cultural fads are current? You know the answer already...

Poor logic, poor language, poor history

'YES: Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?

Naimark, author of the controversial new book Stalin’s Genocides, argues that we need a much broader definition of genocide, one that includes nations killing social classes and political groups. His case in point: Stalin.

The book’s title is plural for a reason: He argues that the Soviet elimination of a social class, the kulaks (who were higher-income farmers), and the subsequent killer famine among all Ukrainian peasants – as well as the notorious 1937 order No. 00447 that called for the mass execution and exile of “socially harmful elements” as “enemies of the people” – were, in fact, genocide.

Is murdering a class somehow better than murdering a race? Is fomenting class-hatred somehow better than fomenting race-hatred? Why or why not?'

Why does everything have to be one thing?

Like the 'discussion' about whether the campaign in 1915 against the Armenians by the Ottoman government and individual Turks constituted Genocide or not, this 'discussion' about whether Stalins mass-murder was Genocide is sterile.

The accepted definition of Genocide is the attempt to murder all of a particular tribe or people. If a mass-killing is NOT an attempt to murder all of a particular tribe or people, it is inappropriate to use the word, and only distorts the truth.

Why do Stalins murders need the label of Genocide? Are they not evil enough if they are just extra-judicial killing on an enormous scale? Are they not evil enough if they are just the callous deprivation of the means of life to millions of Ukranians? Are they not evil enough if they are the paranoid deportation of millions to a very hostile environment where the attrition rate is staggeringly high?

The need to invoke Genocide constantly is a sign of how debased public discussion of events in the world has become. To some extent this is because rolling news needs a constant stream of superlatives, but also because the general use of language has become very imprecise and simplistic.

Much more important than these label discussions is to understand what happened. Watch 'Burnt by the Sun', the harrowing film about Stalins purge of his army by Mikhalkov. It is very hard, especially for those in the West, to really see these vast murders for what they are- millions upon millions of personal tragedies and betrayals. The utter pointlessness of them. The almost incalculable waste of human talent, spirit and value.

Very few people hate Bolshevism and Communism more than I do. But a coherent and accurate description of the tremendous crimes they committed in the twentieth century does not require the word 'genocide'. Let their panoply of crimes bear the correct description in each case.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Declining moral standards and world leadership

'Over the long term, what American policy makers need to remember (and what I fear too many have forgotten in both parties over the last couple of decades) is that America’s international standing and security ultimately depend on health of our domestic economy — and that the economy in turn ultimately depends on the dynamic, self-reliant, entrepreneurial and, yes, virtuous character of the American people. Unless our educational, cultural and political institutions reflect and support these characteristics, American power could rot away at the core.'

This triggered a succession of memory vignettes- of American soldiers singing hymns in the middle of the Borneo jungle in World War II, of the staggering tenacity of the US military in Vietnam, of a conversation in a video game I own between two Russian soldiers- First Soldier "We are trapped! The Americans will catch us and kill us!" Second soldier "Of course they won't kill us! They might capture us and interrogate us, but they don't kill captured soldiers".

The equation which holds most in our world is this- the more you get to know Americans as hegemons, the more you like them.

But as US culture sinks ever further into the filth, and as more and more 'sophisticated' Americans desert God and Christianity, for how much longer will Americans show their traditional virtues? And will they be worthy hegemons when they cease to do so?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Which election was he watching?

'On Monday Lord Ashcroft will publish his verdict on the party's failure to win an overall majority in the May general election. In his analysis, the Tory life peer criticises the party for:

Failing to get its "message" and "brand" across to the voters.

Relentless counterproductive attacks on the Labour Party and Gordon Brown.

Agreeing to a televised debate of political leaders which enabled the Liberal Democrats to seize the "real change" initiative.'

While of course Lord Ashcrofts points are relayed to us via a journalist, and therefore may have been morfed to their disadvantage, these are hardly razor sharp observations. Having watched Karl Rove dissecting things the other day with acerbic wit and brevity, this seems very dull fare.

I am not really a politics nerd. But I probably pay more attention to politics than average, and here is my take on the Ashcroft critique.

Once David Cameron threw out all the discernably conservative positions on things, there was virtually no Conservative brand in existence. First and foremost, the small easy-to-pay for state. Ditching this alone probably cost the Conservative party its crucial majority. Almost from the beginning, Cameron kept on about how much he loved the Government bureacracies, especially the NHS. But also the Post Office. Not forgetting the BBC. And definitely the education industry. Etc etc.

Cameron signed up to virtually the whole Green agenda too. He also kept on about how great immigrants are, and how very much they've done for the country. He said we should empathise with hoodie-wearers, and presumably all the people on those sink estates who don't wear them too. He was critical of the intervention in Iraq, and gave succour to the anti-war crowd. He applauded the government apparatchiks and criticised greedy businessmen.

It was probably about this time that most conservatives realised that the Conservative party wasn't conservative any more. That it was now essentially just another centre-left party touting all the tired claptrap that the centre-left have been spouting for eighty-ish years.

So what Brand is Ashcroft talking about? That crappy stylised Oak tree which is now the 'symbol' of the Conservative Party? If he can give a coherent answer to my question, he ought to because there are thousands of ex-Conservative voters out there who don't think the Conservative brand exists.

If the Conservatives had a 'message' during the last election I missed it. I thought the message was that Gordon Brown and his scabrous allies had spent countless billions during the good times, and got precious little for them, while telling us that the good times would never end (no more boom and bust?); and then when the good times ended insisted that no blame accrued to them and they couldn't possibly have known it was going to happen. So, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has NO role in overseeing the City of London financial sector? None at all?

Which brings us to Lord Ashcrofts second point. Where was I during the 'Relentless counterproductive attacks on the Labour Party and Gordon Brown'? I must have been down the shops or in the pub, because I heard virtually no criticism of the godawful job Labour had been doing. And I'm pretty sure I know why. Cameron intended to carry on doing mostly the same things Labour were doing, and he didn't want too much cognitive dissonance about that.

We faithfully watched the debates waiting for David Cameron to launch some broadsides against the inviting flanks that Labour could not protect, due to their hideous mismanagement of the country... and they never came. No statistics were proffered about the stupendous size of the public sector (1 in 5 employees in Britain works for the state), and the truly enormous size of the annual budgets. Nothing about the budget deficits, which were and are taking Britain into a morass of debt. Nothing about the vast sums of money which went into virtually unimproved public services, or spent on plush salaries and pensions for public sector workers- much better salaries and pensions than the ones of the people funding the whole sorry mess.

If it had been a boxing match, Cameron wouldn't have troubled the scorers. His aim seemed to be to show the public that he was nice, and that the Conservative party was nice, and that when he was Prime Minister, things would continue to be nice.

Surprisingly, the general public found this milquetoast pap unappealing, perhaps even nauseating. I know I did. Far from providing red meat, Cameron seemed to want to take us all back to infancy, and soothe us with baby-talk.

I could sum up my impressions of the three contestants on the 'I want to be Prime Minister' Quiz show very quickly. Nick Clegg came across as a very hard-sell used car salesman, who had lots of zippy catch phrases and fresh air for policies. His 'a plague on both your houses' posturing got old after about five minutes, and I thought his bluster demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt the terrible weakness at the heart of the LibDem project. Gordon Brown alternated between vaudeville villain (I kept on imagining him with a black eye-patch) and slimy ageing bon viveur. His on-screen fight with his inner grumpy bastard was deeply reminiscent of the ex-Nazi scientist in 'Dr Strangelove'. How we laughed!

And I think there was some other guy there, but I'm not sure. He was as memorable as a department store mannequin, but not quite as human. I can't remember a single distinctive policy he was touting, nor a decent line, nor any wit nor emotion. Insofar as it is usual for politicians to be animated by ideas, he was completely inanimate.

If I were to sum up my view of the Conservative campaign, it is: the Conservatives believed in nothing apart from the sheer inevitability of people being sick of Labour, and taking whatever the other guys were proffering. They couldn't be bothered to find out what people actually wanted from them, and settled for offering sweet nothings, reassuring noises and very non-Conservative positions on pretty much all the important issues in British public life. They tried to be as bland and inoffensive as possible, present a facade of competence and capability, and duck all substantive questions.

I was completely confirmed in this take on the campaign when I watched a program the other day about how the coalition was formed. The LibDems found the Conservative negotiating team strangely amenable. Weirdly amenable. Almost as if they had no real red lines at all. It all got a bit jokey and informal.

Why it had taken the LibDems soooooooooo long to realise that there wasn't a fag paper between their own 'beliefs' and those of David Cameron and his little cabal is a mystery, but then they aren't all that bright.

The fact is, there is now an opening in British politics for a mainstream right-wing party. Anybody fancy starting it?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Adventure and Excitement are in the Eye of the Beholder

'Stephen Fry has said there is a culture of fear at the BBC which is creating "incredibly bland" programmes.'

'The host of BBC Two's QI told the Radio Times executives with "cold feet" were shying away from taking creative risks. "A lot of the adventure and excitement have gone out of television programming and a lot of it is just down to fear."'

So far, so Rorschach test. For the 'artistic elite', who will all indubitably be nodding their heads in agreement with Mr Fry at this point, there just aren't enough TV shows about gay sex, 'shocking' taboo-breaking anti-Christian diatribes, and very far left fantasies. You know, adventurous and exciting.

For the average license fee taxpayer, the reaction will probably be similar. With very few exceptions, I would reckon the favourite TV show of most Britons are American, whether it is Desperate Housewives, House, Dexter, NCIS, The Wire, Law and Order, CSI or 24. Most of those shows have British equivalents which are unwatchable. Of the recent offerings, big budget shows tend to have terrible achilles heals. Robin Hood seemed to have been written by a twelve year old girl, and Dr Who is jumping the shark on a regular basis. The one or two-parter dramas are excruciatingly dull, often turned off after ten minutes. All of them seem to deal with the same stock characters in the same stock situations. Mind numbing.

And lastly, there are weirdos like me, for whom many of the TV programs I would like to watch just aren't made, not in the US or the UK or anywhere else. Back in about 1992, there were a series of brilliant TV programs, about an hour long, on Afghanistan. They came on at about half past midnight. I watched anyway. They were superb. They covered Afghan geography, politics, current events, tribal issues, national figures of prominence and loads of other things. Most of what I know about Afghanistan came from watching those programs. Not only have I not seen anything like them for anywhere else, I've never seen them re-shown.

These programs leveraged what television can be- an extraordinary tool for learning and going to places you could never go personally. There are zillions of places and things which could get a similar treatment. How many people know what actually happens in the City of London finance houses? How many people know what the hinterland of Russia is like? How many people know the real story of the Royal Navy? Not just the skim, but the real story.

I don't know how many people there are like me. But there must be some. And for us, TV is pretty much a desolate wasteland of trivia and pap. No meat. If I had a billion pounds, one of the first things I'd do is start a TV company to make the TV shows I'd actually pay money to someone to watch. Probably wouldn't ever make a profit, but I'd watch!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Wajid Hasan, incompetent buffoon

'Wajid Hasan accused the ICC of "playing to the public gallery" and said the council had "no business" taking action while a police investigation was on-going.'

'...The commissioner added that he had talked to the cricketers and had concluded that they were innocent.'

Hasan was also shown on the BBC Ten O'Clock news last night saying that the Pakistani trio had been 'set up'.

Whatever else this catastrophe for cricket has demonstrated, it has shown the Hasan is an idiot who isn't up to his job. Denying reality, acting as judge and jury and making completely unfounded accusations about our police are not helpful to the relations between Pakistan and Britain.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Social Justice for Britain

Absolutely bizarre discussion of welfarism and its cures.

'John McTernan v Neil O'Brien: Can Iain Duncan Smith fix Britain's welfare problem?
Two Telegraph bloggers, John McTernan and Neil O'Brien, debate whether Iain Duncan Smith is really thinking the doable.'

America did welfare reform successfully, but what they did would never work here because 'the disincentives to work - the welfare trap - was already far less severe in the US than it they are here.'

We should spend money on 'increasing the financial incentive to work, or putting it into deflection from welfare, improving welfare to work services, better case management, and more job-focused interviews.' Yeah, that should do it.

John McTernan: 'Thinking the unthinkable, as Frank Field was tasked, is epistemologically impossible. Instead you are driven to think the undoable or do the unthinkable.'

Eh? Baffle them with bullshit, indeed. Apparently, because Britain has an enormously Byzantine benefits system which now has a manual 8,370 pages long, nobody can ever reform it. Even if they try, they won't be able to. My mind immediately returns to 1980, when all the economists in the country wrote the letter to the Times saying what a catastrophe cutting taxes and public spending would be, just before the economy rebounded and the decade of growth and great business began...

Neil O'Brien: 'Might introducing "friendly" reforms which many work pay more, thereby allow politicians the space to introduce other, tougher reforms? Those "push factors" we've talked about do work. But when they are introduced they tend to be perceived as harsh. Indeed, some of Bill Clinton's own advisers resigned over his 1996 reforms – even though they helped millions of people in the long term.'

Harsh? Harsh? Believing it is your right to sit around your house while other people work hard to provide for you is evil. Correcting that situation is not harsh. It is salutary and right.

Here is my solution to this entire problem, point by point. The intent is that all the systems of the state should militate towards the best ends:

1) The national tax system would be replaced by a 15% flat tax.
2) There would be no indirect taxes at all.
3) All public housing would be privatised.
4) Every neighborhood which required it would have free restaurants funded out of local taxes.
5) One benefit still available would be for incapacity. This would be received only after claimants went before a medical/psychiatric board and were examined.
6) Another benefit would be a training bursary. This could be applied for, but only granted after a test of the applicant to make sure that the bursary was good value for money for the taxpayer.
7) The only other benefit would be part-funding of apprenticeships in any industry or business.
8) The NHS would be privatised. People would be given information about setting up Health Care savings accounts, and purchasing Catastrophic Health Insurance.
9) There would be no quangos. Any legitimate regulation or oversight function would be done directly by central government.
10) Education would be non-universal. All schools would be privatised.
11) Eliminate the minimum wage.
12) Allow only well-educated, skilled immigrants into Britain.

The main economic effect of these changes would be to reserve most capital in the private sector, and allow workers to keep a very large part of their earnings. Workers would get to choose what goods to purchase and which not. So for instance, there would almost certainly be far fewer schools, but the quality of those schools would skyrocket.

There would be no skulking around at home option. Given that the cost and ease of employing people would fall significantly, far more casual work and permanent work would be available. Also, because the overall cost of living would be greatly reduced, people would have more choice about how much time they worked.

Of course, it would mean social changes. People would have to move to find work. People like my aunt would have to forsake their fantastic lifestyles. She currently lives by herself in a three-bedroom council house, in a beautiful leafy-green Hertfordshire village. She gets more than a hundred pounds a week disability benefit, despite only having a crooked finger. She even gets money for taking 'Adult Education' classes like Yoga and Pilates. For her, these changes would be disastrous. But for the millions of hardworking poor people who just scrape by while paying the enormous (53%) tax burden to support people like my aunt, life would be immeasurably better.

You want social justice? We can have social justice.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

You guys are starting to creep me out

'Climate change: It's time to talk, and act, tough
Environmentalists have tried the compromise route. It hasn't worked.',0,7179186.story

You've spent months wooing her, sending her flowers, and making mooney eyes at her. She finally agrees to go out with you on a few dates, and you even manage to bed her a few times. But she wasn't that impressed. And soon you noticed that she had moved on to other things (people, really).

So what do you do? Most of us sigh a lot, drink more than usual, perhaps indulge in a few fantasies about revenge acts, and after a few weeks, get on with our lives. But then there is that small percentage of the population who JUST CAN'T LET GO. They become obsessed, unbalanced, vacillating between ecstatic love and murderous hate, and start stalking their paramour.

Well, I guess we know where the Global Warmmongers fall now. We toyed with their affections for a while. Many of us dutifully recycled stuff which was promptly sent to a landfill somewhere, bought Fair Trade tea and dolphin friendly Tuna chunks. We bought a tiddly little car because it got slightly better mileage. We even changed our holiday plans so our trip wasn't as humoungously CO2 producing.

But then when the Enviro-demands became ever more shrill, ever more detached from reality and ever more punitive, we started to get a bit jaded. There seemed to be nothing you could do, nothing you could buy and nothing you could eat that didn't make you some kind of enviro criminal.

And then they told us that they were going to dismantle our economies, force us to stop using power sources that work and replace them with ones which are deeply inferior, and confiscate enormous quantities of our wealth as punishment for eco-crimes and give it to people in Mozambique and Bangladesh. Or the planet would SELF-DESTRUCT!!!!??!!!

At this point, most people started thinking, mmmm- yeah I'm not on board. Sorry. Enough is enough. I'm quite happy with my carbon footprint thanks.

Wuh oh. So now we see what the response of our eco-masters is. You can't just stop loving us! We insist that you love us. We demand that you love us. Where are the old feelings? Remember how we used to chat about saving the world in the college cafeteria? Remember how idealistic we were? Make it like the old days! Or else we'll come round and blow shit up, or maybe slash your tires.

We have a stalker, people.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Ok then, Ban the Burka

'Newt’s key insight is that we are engaged not in a war against terror but a war against Sharia, i.e., Islamic law.'

I really like Roger Kimballs stuff. But very rarely does he change my mind on a major issue. That just happened with the Burka ban.

It has been my consistent position that in a free country the government does not prescribe or proscribe clothing types or styles. Got nothing to do with them what I want to wear outdoors or indoors. Except, perhaps, in the case of the Burka.

Islamism is a political enterprise whose goal is world domination. As such, a law for Britain banning the Burka would symbolise our determination that Islamism never succeed here. The Burka is a flag for Islamists, a way of promoting themselves and their difference from us. It is also a means of separating women from men in a way deeply inimical to the conduct of relationships in the way free societies do. Banning them in public deprives the Islamists of this very visible flag of membership, and strikes at the heart of Sharia- its insistence that it decrees how every aspect of your life should be run.

This was understood by the founders of Turkey, who wanted to promote the secular values of the west. Although these have been deeply undermined recently by the Erdogan government, the bans on headcoverings and other anti-sharia decrees were in place for many decades. They did symbolise the desire to overthrow the worst and most oppressive parts of sharia, and replace them with a more open, lively and free way of live.

I still don't like a government telling people what to wear and what not to wear- but I feel an exception is warranted in this particular case, because of the particular history of the Burka and its place in Islamism.

The failed Empire

“We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose: Al Qaeda,” he said. “Al Qaeda exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are not there to nation-build. We’re not out there deciding we’re going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country.”
Joe Biden [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

How different is this twenty first century attitude to the one the British brought with them to south Asia in the nineteenth. While not consciously on a crusade on behalf of British culture, habits and methods of governance, the Scotsmen, Irishmen, Ulstermen, Welshmen and Englishmen who went to India were mostly fiercely proud of the British way. They were happy to impose what they believed were superior ways of doing things over what was there already.

As a consequence, over two hundredish years, India became quite British. Certainly its ruling classes did. Which is why India has a working court system, decent policing, a working democracy, government policies overtly geared to helping the poorest and least advantaged, and distinctions like the primacy of the civilian leadership over the military and the separation of powers between the branches of government. India is definitely a work in progress, but there should be immense optimism about its capacity to build on the framework gifted to them by Britain.

So, what is America taking to Afghanistan? Bashful self-loathing, American Idol and a very obvious desire to skedaddle at the first opportunity. Not much there to really take on board, is there? I can't see young Afghans really wanting to sign up to this dismal prospectus. Where the British were happy to use their supreme technological, organisational and military advantages to impose their systems on their subjects, America isn't. Far from trumpeting their Christianity, their democracy, their equality and their humanity, and unabashedly bringing them to the poor heathen of the Afghanistan, they are content to have the Afghans continue in their squalor, with a few 'western' bits glued on, like a few 'schools' and 'clinics'.

America is not even achieving these extremely low ambitions. Is America capable of being imperial at all?

Stick to your guns, Mr Cameron

'Pakistan PM hits back at David Cameron terror claim
Pakistan's prime minister has refuted David Cameron's claim his country is ''exporting terror'' as President Asif Ali Zardari presses ahead with a visit to Britain this week.'

Refute: 'to prove to be false or erroneous, as an opinion or charge'. According to Alistair Jamieson, President Zardari has not simply provided his own highly partisan opinion about whether Pakistan sponsors terrorism, but has refuted David Cameron! Very poor writing indeed. We used to expect far more from Telegraph writers, but sadly standards have dipped precipitously.

David Cameron will have seen all the voluminous proof of Pakistans duplicity, and the background briefings explaining that duplicity and aggression have been the hallmarks of the country since its invention in 1947. Whether or not it was politic or indeed diplomatic to talk about the real Pakistan, especially to an Indian audience, Mr Camerons comments are precisely correct. President Zardaris comments refute nothing. They are simply another reiteration of the longstanding Pakistani tradition of saying one thing while doing the polar opposite.

What is amazing is that it has apparently taken sixty two years for everyone besides India to notice these really nasty Pakistani habits. And just because there are a million Pakistanis living in Britain, sadly, does not mean we the British should cave in to their pathetic blackmail.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Great news for Britain and for India

'David Cameron will this week lead a British mission to India five times the size of last week’s delegation to America.'

This is great news. I believe India is a natural ally and partner for Britain. While it has some serious problems, in comparison to most of its neighbors India is a beacon of Democracy, the rule of Law and inclusive politics. It has shown over a long period a serious intent to rule on behalf of all its myriad of peoples, castes, religions and constituencies.

The fact that it is now an emergent capitalist economy as well means we should be working as closely together with it as we can, to everyones benefit.

We are looking at a commercial tie-in with India ourselves. I believe it will be both a short and long term success.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Obama slams GOP plan

'President Barack Obama says the surge an economic plan by George W Bush the House Republican leader just repeats failed military job-killing policies of the past and would take Iraq the country "backward at a time when we need to get out of Iraq keep America moving forward."'

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

We work for our living. Do you?

I have a cousin who, every time London comes up in any context, runs through a tired litany of complaints about it. London is expensive, London is dirty, Londoners are rude, London is this, London is that. Of course he has never actually lived in London, but that doesn't seem to matter. Nor does the fact that I have done so for the last twenty years...

For at least the last 1300 years, English people have been having this conversation. Is there a new twist to it in 2010?

Apparently, '...the biggest charge against London is that it sucks talent and resources out of the rest of the country

Ever since Dick Whittington left the Forest of Dean in the 14th Century in search of his fortune in London, ambitious provincials have headed to the city in search of streets paved with gold.

Did Dick Whittington need London's size and variety to find his niche? Or did his departure to the capital deprive the Forest of Dean of an outstanding Lord Mayor, maybe even one who could have arranged some golden paving for his home town?'

Sucks? Really? Or do talented people gravitate towards the place where their talents will most likely bring them substantial rewards?

I would say that there is a substantial amount of evidence that London could look out on the rest of England, and say, "Are you going to let us do all the work?"

Most of the other big cities in England are now hideous wrecks. In the absence of the great cavernous heavy industries of the mid-twentieth century, the occupants seem to have largely given up on work, and decided to concentrate on soap operas and heroin. They can do this largely because of the enormous amounts of money generated by the City of London.

If the new coalition government can achieve anything in the next five years, I would like it to be this. Take away the 'sitting around on your arse at other peoples expense' option from the five and a half million people currently doing that. You will notice that I don't say 'sitting around on your arse' option. That is the great big con which Labour constantly pull. I am happy for those five and a half million people to continue sitting around on their arses - just not at taxpayer expense.

Labour have created a norm whereby millions of people deem that if any effort is required of them- whether it be moving towns, changing careers or learning something- then the government is being cruel and heartless. A promise has been given that their lives will be easy apparently. Well, nobody outside of the Labour party has promised that, and Labour did it with the intention of stealing taxpayer money to fulfil it.

So if by 2015, there isn't the option of arse-sitting, I will be a very grateful man. Because if there is one thing that can be said about London, it is that by and large, it works for its living.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Some thoughts about the Gulf Oil Spill

I was watching Fox news a couple of days ago, and they were lambasting BP yet again for 'ignoring offers of much larger oil skimming vessels'. Fox have been extremely militant in their anti-BP vitriol. So that wasn't too surprising. But BP don't have the big Dutch skimming vessels because a protectionist 1920's US law prevents them from operating in US waters and Fox know that.

Are Fox anti-British? Are American conservatives anti-British? I am beginning to think so. The Romans were famous for cossetting their allies, and were extremely careful to keep their side of the alliance alive and well. The Americans, not so much. What is worse than being an American enemy? Being an American ally, apparently. You get talked down to, sneered at, blamed and yet you still have your soldiers dying on a foreign field at the behest of the self-same people. Hmmm.

Out of all the conservatives I know in the UK, I'm the most pro-American. And yet I am now decidedly lukewarm. As America gets more cathartic, more cartel-like, more collectivist and dominated by the titanic culture clash, it also gets more insular (if that is possible). This oil-spill has been a bit of a revelation, actually. I had assumed that the anti-British venom would come exclusively from the Democrat enviro-bigot greenies. But it hasn't. Much more has come from the right.

This despite the fact that Barack Obama has used BP as his whipping boy from day one, and on the principle that your enemies enemy is (at least for today) your friend, you might have thought that there would be some small element of sympathy and understanding for the company which provides millions of Americans with their daily gas. Nope. Only occasionally leaving aside their barrage of hate against BP to have a go at Obama and FEMA, the right have had pretty much only one organisation in their sights.

All I can say is, if Obama does destroy BP, I will never support the US again, in any forum and for any reason. BP is Britains last great company, and taking it away would remove about ten percent of our economy. If being an ally to the US means that in the middle of two wars fought at their request they are happy to destroy the crown jewel of our countries business, forget being a US ally. Not worth it.

China, Russia and India don't bother with American alliances. Why should Britain? The aforementioned get on with serving the interests of their citizens alone. It must be getting on for time for Britain to do the same.

I can put up with being sneered at, denigrated and lied about. But remember this: even the new Russia only ripped off BP for £4.5 billion. We would be much better off allied them, apparently...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Social Justice and Taxation

I don't usually quote from the comments, but this was just too good:

'JG said...

I've always thought that "social justice" means ...

... let the people who work and earn something keep what they work and earn. If I plant vegetables behind my house, and do all the work of planting, tending and harvesting, then you should probably just leave me alone.

The current paradigm is that you have to give a third or a half of your work up to people who just sit on their ass waiting for you to plant the vegetables.

So the income tax kind of sucks.

A further extension of my philosophy ... that you keep what you earn ... becomes very problematic for people, even on this Web site.

If you HAVE TO tax, take it away from people who have not earned the money.

There are tons of examples and tons of specific people.

Examples: Spouses of billionaires who become billionaires themselves without doing the work that led to the billions. Tax them before me.

Children and heirs of billionaires who become billionaires themselves without doing the work that led to the billions. Tax them before me.

Pretty much anyone who gets money without work. Tax them before me.

A consumption tax to replace the income tax would be more than cool. I earn money but don't spend a whole lot. I am taxed up the wazoo.

Some hooker who defrauded a rich guy by marrying him spends a whole lot and buys a whole lot of stuff, but she earns nothing. Tax HER instead of me.

Now to specifics:

Do you really think that Heather Mills deserves to be so rich vis-a-vis emergency room physicians, cancer researchers, firemen, policemen, computer scientists, veterans who were drafted into the Vietnam war and lost their legs ... and on and on.

Then quit being chivalrous and realize that life is unfair but society doesn't have to EXAGGERATE that unfairness. Take Heather's money away from her, give her a kick in the butt to boot, and give the money to several people who are WORKING but having trouble making ends meet.

Or don't tax at all.
5:47 PM, June 23, 2010'

I completely agree with this. Not only is it just, it corrects the awful incentives of our current set of taxes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Could he BEEEEEEEEEE more condescending?

'It would be comforting if a clear political diagnosis of the Tea Party movement were available — if we knew precisely what political events had inspired the fierce anger that pervades its meetings and rallies, what policy proposals its backers advocate, and, most obviously, what political ideals and values are orienting its members.'

If I read one more faux-hand-wringing piece of garbage like this, something in my brain is going to pop.

I interpret the above as 'Not only are poor white trash too stupid to delineate their ideas properly, paying attention to them would besmirch me.'

Well, pompous shit- your country is about to be taken over by the Tea Party, so you might want to listen up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A lie repeated often enough

'Outspoken Mrs Palin has launched a series of savage personal attacks on the US President.'

Here is a fun challenge for Simon Walters. Find ONE personal attack on Obama by Sarah Palin. One. And write it up for us in the Daily Fail. Oh, and by the way, a personal attack is an attack on the person rather than the policies. Come on, fuckwit! We're waiting!!!

Is the TPA the spawn of Satan?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with defending your interests, especially if you do it in a thoughtful and considered way. The following is a defense of local government spending by Councillor Daniel Moylan, the Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council. Is it thoughtful and considered? Let us see:

'Conservatives have tended to be sympathetic to the stated goals of the TaxPayers’ Alliance: “campaigning for lower taxes and better government”. Which Tory could be against that? But the approach taken by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, while great fun for a party accustomed to opposition, threatens both democracy and good government in Britain and is most likely to be damaging to the poor and inarticulate. It is an approach based on three salient qualities clearly seen in the Alliance’s Better Government Position Paper: these are ignorance, raucousness and nihilism – the bedrock of anarchy (and her twin sister dictatorship) throughout the ages.'

Wow. Sounds like hyperbole, but OK. Let's hear you back that up.

'The Alliance refuses, in its Position Paper, to articulate any vision of what government is for. There are positive remarks about the Admiralty in the year 1900, so we may assume that the Alliance sees a certain role for government in the defence of the nation. But beyond that, is there any reason to believe they would not attack anything more elaborate than a basic night-watchman state? There are respectable arguments in favour of a night-watchman state but one very strong and democratic argument against it: the people of Britain do not want one, a fact the Conservative Party knows very well.'

I'm not sure that one-issue public pressure groups are expected to present the public with a complete guide to how they think the country should be run, but let's go with it for now. Councillor Moylan believes a) that the TPA want a government which runs the police and the army and nothing else and b) that the British people want... something else (sadly, not defined).

'Of course, the TaxPayers’ Alliance will never put the popularity of their view of what government is for to the test, since they will never actually field any candidates at the polls to find out. This is where raucousness comes in. As with other destructive nihilists (one thinks of the thugs who sought to take control of Paris in 1967), the TaxPayers’ Alliance is good at shouting and uninterested in the views of others.'

TPA is not a political party, so that point is valid. Its views do indeed remain un-voted on. But it doesn't seem a strong point. Vast numbers of lobbying bodies exist which could be tarred with the same brush. Does that mean lobbying bodies should all become political parties? I'm thinking no. But suddenly, Councillor Moylan goes all hyperbolic. If you lobby, you are a destructive nihilist who shouts and ignores other peoples views! Or is that, if you lobby against the things I approve of, you are a destructive nihilist yadda yadda? At this point, Councillor Moylan loses. Public policy debate is abruptly terminated at the point where those you disagree with aren't just wrong, their very participation in the argument is deemed illegitimate. And really, when one thinks of the TPA, 'one thinks of the thugs who sought to take control of Paris in 1967'?. Shall we vote on that?

'And this lack of interest in democracy – listening to what people might want – is embedded in their entire policy approach. They identify certain failings in government but then proceed to blame them on a composite fantasy class called “politicians”. (This is a technique learnt from Stalin’s murderous condemnation of “kulaks” for causing the famines he was responsible for.) These wicked, self-serving, money-grubbing politicians – leave aside for now the many examples of elected politicians whom we know from personal experience to be the reverse of all these things, not least in local government – are to be replaced for most governmental functions, say the Taxpayers’ Alliance, by “managers”, people capable (like Mussolini with the trains) of getting things done. Of course the glorious thing about managers is that they are accountable to nobody, unlike the hated “politicians”, who are and who therefore might actually be listening to people. Moreover, these “managers” would probably be no good at their job, since it is a cardinal principle of the TaxPayers’ Alliance that paying anyone in government a rate appropriate to their skills is anathema: nothing drives them into a more righteous frenzy.'

Hmm. Where to start... Apparently, there is a new crime specific to public lobbying organisations: 'a lack of interest in democracy'. This is defined as 'not listening to what people might want'. It isn't a good definition, really. Who are these 'people' of whom you speak? When did you solicit their opinions, and can I see your notes?

Mr Moylan utilises a version of Godwin's Law. If you want to blacken somethings reputation to lefties, compare it with the Nazis. If you want to do the same to right wingers, compare it to Stalins regime. Doesn't work very well, sadly. Not only do the TPA in my experience rail at managers at least as much as they do politicians, moaning about politicians has been around at least since Thucydides. Not only that, there does seem to be some straightforward good sense in blaming failings in government on politicians. You know, the ones who run the government. I would also like to point out that the reason the Bolsheviks threats against the Kulaks were important was because of the Cheka, who just after the threats were made went off to murder the Kulaks. If Councillor Moylan could point me to the TPA's Cheka I'd be much obliged.

The idea that the TPA would like to see all politicians replaced by managers is extraordinarily funny. The technocratic urge is a collectivist urge. Replace incompetent politicians with demi-godlike experts has been the cry of the collectivists since Bismarks Prussia. It Soooooooooooo isn't a Classical Liberal/Libertarian/TPA thing. Sooooooooooooooo not. '[A] cardinal principle of the TaxPayers’ Alliance [is] that paying anyone in government a rate appropriate to their skills is anathema'. Good. Remuneration for government jobs ought to be based on how much money the Government has in its limited budgets, not how much some middle manager believes his CV should get him. There is no market mechanism in Government to determine what level of remuneration any particular employee should get. Pay grades are completely arbitrary. So yes, 'a rate appropriate to their skills' is a laughable fiction, and the TPA are right to castigate profligacy with OUR MONEY.

'One of their most persistent lines of attack against local government is on communications budgets. This is understandable. They cannot tolerate the notion that people might actually know what local government does for them. There is a typically sneering piece currently on their website, attacking Knowsley Borough Council for wanting to hire someone to help make Knowsley “the borough of choice”. This is described as “non-job of the week” and an example of “burning our money”. I have no idea where Knowsley is or whether its aim to be “the borough of choice” is remotely credible. But the TaxPayers’ Alliance would deny its people even ambition and hope. One may suppose that all they need in Knowsley is some underpaid “managers” selected (no doubt by the TaxPayers’ Alliance) for their unaccountable competence at telling poor people what to do.'

Councillor Moylan is obviously distressed as he writes this, and unfortunately coherence suffers as a consequence. Here is a test question: If the average council tax-payer knew exactly what PR people do, and if we could position a CCTV camera directly above a PR persons desk and watch what they do over an average week, how many council taxpayers would vote to have PR people employed on public money? Not only do most people in my experience ignore all correspondence from the council which does not involve handing over their hard-earned money, they despise the make-work bullshit which many councils indulge in. You know, stuff like 'lets make Knowsley “the borough of choice”'.

Councillor Moylan then makes one of the stupider comments I've seen recently: He contends that the TPA squashes the ambitions and hopes of the people of Knowsley by terming their councils boondoggle “non-job of the week” and an example of “burning our money”. Seriously? Some lobbying group calls into question an action of the Knowsley council, and thereby stymies the ambitions and hopes of the people of Knowsley?

In probably his most revealing snide aside, Cllr Moylan lets us in on his true standpoint- viz, 'competence at telling poor people what to do'. He is on the side of the working class in their perpetual war with the hideous middle class and the evil aristocrats. See, Council people and the grubby working class stand shoulder to shoulder against the toffs, innit. Council people know instinctively what worthless sinecures the working slobs want created. Built right in.

'There is a strong tradition of civic pride and achievement in Britain and Conservatives have been at its forefront. I personally have no doubt that the TaxPayers’ Alliance would have been amongst the opponents of the project to build sewers for London in the nineteenth century. Society, particularly urban society, is complex. A civilised society is dependent on a degree of civic co-operation, which happily has tended to be under democratic control in this country. The TaxPayers’ Alliance seeks simultaneously to crush that civic effort and to de-democratise what remains. They are dangerous people masquerading as promoters of lower taxes and better government. The Conservative Party should have nothing to do with them and will, I have no doubt, quickly disembarrass itself of any connection on coming to power.'

I'm glad Cllr Moylan appended 'personally' to the statement that the TPA would have been dead set against building the sewers of London. I imagine that virtually no one else in the country would agree with such an egregiously stupid assertion. 'The TaxPayers’ Alliance seeks simultaneously to crush that civic effort and to de-democratise what remains'. I'm sorry, you can't just launch an accusation like that and provide no evidence for it whatsoever. Especially when it is aimed at an organisation which lobbies, rather than say employing brown-shirted thugs.

While it is true that both Parish and Borough councils have often been the forum for civic pride, when the latter was at its zenith it was the efforts of local grandees which usually provided the money for beautiful parks, monuments, poor houses, hospitals, schools, paupers cottages and swimming pools among much else. But since the State grew to ever more gargantuan proportions, and filched ever greater chunks of private wealth so it could 'make Knowsley “the borough of choice”' plus a million other stupid, non-core things, privately funded 'civic pride' has all but disappeared. Where I live in North London, I know of no example of private civic benefaction more recent than the early twentieth century.

Public compulsion destroys private volunteerism. This is so obvious I can't believe there are still people willing to deny it. But Cllr Moylan does. He seems to believe that somehow, because we the public vote for Councillors, we the public support the ever-expanding public sector payroll, the stupidly high salaries paid to these new employees, and the burgeoning 'projects' created by lefty public sector drones.

I have nothing against government- parish, local council or national. But I do have a problem with government as a cancer, eating up every function and activity and strand of our national life so it can control it, regulate it and license it. What the exact set of things I require from my government and which things I want it to leave alone is debatable.

But this piece by Councillor Moylan does not advance that debate. Indeed, what it does is say is that any criticism of increasing government activity crushes civic effort and destroys democracy. What utter tosh.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Self Satirization

'In Maryland, where Mr. Kratovil endured considerable heckling last year over the health care legislation, which he ultimately opposed, he did not hold any large gatherings with voters. After returning from a visit to Afghanistan, he held two events with veterans before arriving at an evening discussion here at the credit union in Bel Air, north of Baltimore.

“It’s dramatically different this break than it was in August of last year,” Mr. Kratovil said in an interview after he finished speaking about financial regulatory legislation. “At town halls, there was a group of people who were there to disrupt, purely politically driven, not there because they wanted to get answers or discuss the issues.”' [Hat-Tip: Instapundit]

Worthy of the "We can't have fighting in here. This is the War Room" Award. Fancy turning up to a political meeting and wanting to discuss politics! The cheek!

Where did all those First Amendment fanatics go?

'Veteran White House Correspondent Helen Thomas has provoked a storm in the US after saying the Jews must "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany or Poland.',7340,L-3899361,00.html

Fair enough. It's a view. A pretty unpopular one outside of Neo-Naziism, but what the heck. We on the right are all about free speech. Aren't we? ... apparently not.

'Why Shouldn’t Helen Thomas Be Expelled from the White House Press Corps?
Jennifer Rubin'

'Are these words of apology? Where is any indication that Thomas acknowledges her moral transgression? And to whom is she “apologizing?” There is no object of this so-called apology.'

'Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, issued the following statement:

Helen Thomas’s statement of regret does not go far enough. Her remarks were outrageous, offensive and inappropriate, especially since she uttered them on a day the White House had set aside to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of American Jews during Jewish America Heritage Month.'

I am a long-standing, extremely robust defender of Israel and its right to exist, defend itself, and protect its interests. But I don't think that that view should be enforced on other people. I don't think having the opposing view should get someone fired from their job. I can't imagine a conservative supporting either of those two things. Yet apparently, loads of 'conservatives' do.

Things may be considerably worse than I thought. The right to have your own opinions and not be punished for holding them is absolutely fundamental to a free society. Yet many so-called conservatives don't seem to agree. Very sad days indeed.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Great news for Al Qaeda

We are living in a country supposedly on hair-trigger alert for terrorists and acts of terrorism.

So a man with two guns goes off on his own three and a half hour terrorism spree, and the cops do what?

'The police chief said that his force had deployed 42 trained firearms officers in the hunt for Bird — all those on duty in the county that day — as well as additional armed officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary at Sellafield, near which Bird shot several of his victims. Police and RAF helicopters were drafted in for a “massive land and air search”.'

And the upshot of all this massive activity? Nothing. No policeman challenged Birdie, as he was affectionately known. Well, as he was known before he murdered twelve people.

What a disastrously incompentent shambles. Yoo hoo, Al Qaeda! Fancy a gun-totin rampage? Britain is open, wide wide open, for whatever you have in mind. Contradict me if I'm wrong, but isn't Sellafield one of our most sensitive nuclear sites? And two of the shootings happened just outside.

I am very close to speechless. Our defences are a mirage, smoke and mirrors. Dad's Army had more organisation and effectiveness.

God protect Britain. That is our only hope.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where the **** have you been?

'The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another.'

During the 2008 election, I studied Barack Obama, as did most other sane individuals. I tried to suss out what kind of man he was. And what struck me, as someone who has lived as a foreigner in the United States, was that Obama was a foreigner. During my stay in the US, I often bumped into things in American life which were obviously deeply meaningful to those around me, but which to me seemed like nothing. As a consequence of my bad form, it was not hard for me to get a good feel for just how profoundly Americans value themselves, their culture and their folkways. For all his basketball playing and burger eating (has anybody got any Grey Poupon?) Obama is not really American. Being American is much more than a birth certificate or a passport.

It is one of the reasons I don't live there. Americans don't tend to like people who are not 'with the program', and I am just too ornery, contrary and sceptical to sign up to Americanhood. Therefore, I have a unique insight into the special situation Obama is in. He is, in my view, less than half American. I don't mean biologically. I mean in the sense of all the strands of thought, feeling, belief, association, belonging and sympathy which go to make up a persons rightness in a particular land, among a particular people.

Where would Obama rightfully fit? Perhaps nowhere. Certainly not Indonesia, certainly not Kenya. But not really America either.

And that is becoming a big problem. In the crazy busy job of President, instinct becomes the best friend of efficiency. Instinct informs you what is important, and what is trivial- what really requires your attention, and what can be left to underlings. But Obamas instincts are terrible. His instincts about what is important are totally out of sync with the nation. So, back to Peggy...

What I don't understand is this: I am no genius. Ask my wife. So how was I able to figure out what Obama was, and what he was like in mid-2008, but it has taken 75% of Americans until about yesterday to do so?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The absence of any discernable Character or Principles

'I detect an ideological similarity, too — these leaders aren’t political zealots. They might, like me, opt for a pick’n’mix belief system to suit the purpose and the practicalities of the day. And they don’t do God — not because it would be divisive in PR terms, as it was for Tony Blair, but because they just don’t (other than for weddings, christenings, funerals and to shoehorn their kids into the best local state schools).'

These are the people marxian mass education turns out. They don't think they have religion or ideology- but they are extremely heavily laden with both.

Eco fanaticism: religion

Despising Christianity: ideology

Despising money: ideology

Regarding the concrete knowledge of politics as unnecessary and suspect: ideology

Proletarian uniformity: ideology

Ahistoricality: ideology

Regarding personal ambition as criminal: ideology

What a banal, dismal Godless mass of idiots. What a dreary puritanical funless horde of drabs. Yeeuuuuuuuchhhhhhhhhhh!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm not opposed to Draw Mohammed Day


'I'm glad to see Taranto do what I was challenging my commenters to do. (I said: "If you don't think the 'Piss Christ' or the American flag hypos are sufficiently on point, then make a better hypo. That's my challenge. Make a hypo that is the same but without the Muslim element, and seriously test your thinking on the subject.")'

This is an interesting controversy. Here is a summary of my knowledge of the relevant facts:

Certain more conservative schools of Islamic thought, esp the Wahhabists, believe that any likeness of anyone, even Mohammed, can be considered an idol. Some schools of Islamic thought aren't bothered, and in many places where Moslems live there have always been likenesses of Mohammed, just like there are millions of likenesses of Jesus in the Christian world. These likenesses are expressly not to be worshipped, as that would make them idols, and therefore against the express command of God. But apart from that, they are ok.

So, forcing Moslems of a conservative persuasion to create likenesses of Mohammed would certainly be rude and unpleasant, by any reasonable standard. But given that many Moslems make likenesses of Mohammed themselves, presumably those Moslems would have no problem with non-Moslems making respectful representations of Mohammed. And if they did have a problem with it, it would be unreasonable and hypocritical.

Let us now consider the Mohammed cartoons from Jyllands Posten. Most of them were perfectly harmless, gentle representations of a man in Arabic garb. A few were intentionally insulting, and a very few were gravely insulting. The ones which were respectful would presumably cause no concern to the many millions of Moslems who have no issue with pictorial representations of Mohammed in general. The insulting ones would certainly provoke anger amongst any Moslems.

But the response to the Jyllands Posten cartoons was not organic. If ordinary Moslems outside Denmark noticed the cartoons, they didn't seem to mind them. The crazed response was ginned up after a concerted campaign by hard-core Danish Wahhabist imams who toured the Middle East and Egypt showing the cartoons to people, and posted links to them on Islamist websites. They conducted this campaign to further their religio/political agenda, which is the expansion of Wahhabist Islam and its eventual domination of the earth.

According to the Ann Althouse view, then, being polite and not 'hurting the feelings' of conservatively-minded Moslems trumps our history of robust oppositional religious and political debate. I must respect your sacred cows, no matter how stupid I believe them to be, and no matter how much they conflict with my own beliefs.

You can tell from the differing views about the pictorial representation of Mohammed among the worldwide population of Moslems that there is no clear-cut black-and-white prohibition of it in the historical Islamic body of learning. And yet, on the authority of the Wahhabist conservatives, Ann Althouse doesn't just want the Wahhabist/conservative view enforced on believers in Islam but on non-believers too.

That isn't being nice- that is alienating yourself from your own world view so far that you don't really have one anymore. It also exalts your own importance to millions of unknown and probably unknowable Moslems in countries you hardly know the name of.

It may be that a large-scale campaign to demonstrate how little respect many people feel for Moslem shibboleths will provoke some thought among the 1.3 billion Moslems on the planet why their religion is getting such a shellacing, and why normal, sane people hold it in such low regard.

Islam is getting a very bad name because of Wahhabist/Salafist violence, bullying and blackmail. This is not an issue for us. Islam needs to clean house, and disassociate itself from the people who are blackening its reputation. If Moslems don't do that, we can all assume what many believe already- which is that most Moslems secretly agree with the agenda of the Wahhabist/Salafists, but find it inconvenient to say so publicly. Whether people like Ann Althouse like it or not, that is the rule of public engagement. If it were the Republican Party, rather the Moslems of the World, who had a militant wing chopping off heads, blowing up Markets with bombs strapped to twelve-year-old girls and driving trucks of chemicals into villages and blowing them up, what would you be saying to Republicans? Would your politeness, and your generosity of spirit extend to them?

Whether we like it or not, guilt-by-association exists. If it doesn't, explain to me why the Turkish government still deny the ethnic cleansing/holocaust of Christian Armenians in 1915/16?


'If you were really a conservative, you would think where there is a problem and the only solution so far is a bad one that the right answer is first, do no harm. The default is nothing. (The Party of NO!)

There's a problem, so we must do something, and here we have something, so we must do it. That's the reasoning I have heard over and over from President Obama, and it is something I truly loathe.

Do you defend it?' (Ann Althouse in the comments of the same blog post).

That depends if you believe that Everybody Draw Mohammed is a bad 'solution'. I don't believe it is a solution at all. A solution would stop the Wahhabist war on modernity and everthing in the world which isn't Wahhabism. It is a declaration of intent, like the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the door of Wittenberg Church. We intend to not be browbeaten into modifying our lives every time Wahhabists threaten murder, mayhem and boycotts. And as such, the Everybody Draw Mohammed idea works as well as anything I've heard of.