Everything I wanted to say (nearly), from Mark Steyn.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Posted by ed thomas at 3:05 PM
And Wow! Compare and contrast!
Boeing has most to lose at the moment.
It's now being out-sold by Airbus, but it's putting its money on a new mid-sized 250-seat jet: the 787, better-known as the Dreamliner.
'While Boeing is practically fighting off demand for its new 787, which consumes significantly less jet fuel than earlier models, Airbus's managers are seemingly ripping each other apart in internal power struggles and intrigues -- and increasingly neglecting their company's daily business.'
Strikes me Auntie's a little slow on the uptake.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:16 AM
Leapfrogging the electorate. Richard North has a great post about the Euros' pursuance of the aims of the Constitution despite the 'non' vote- in the context of space research and development. He makes the great point that as the EU pursues Britain for its rebate, it could do without that money if it did without its unstoppable grandiose scheming. This also made me think of the Airbus subsidies, alluded to below.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:56 AM
Thursday, June 09, 2005
I thought I might write about this because it's a subject that I find most divides my viewpoint from that of the BBC, and via this divides it from that of a considerable portion of people in the UK.
My thoughts arose from reading this article from John Ray- sourced from the Jerusalem Post- about the British elite and anti-semitism.
He quickly introduces the BBC we should all know if we aren't wrapped in maudlin (it was the last item which caught my eye):
'Matters begin with the BBC, the voice of sweet reason to itself and most Britons. On BBC discussion shows, like Question Time, defenders of Israel are inevitably outnumbered three or four to one, if they can be found at all. Even an innocuous observation that Israel is the Middle East's best functioning democracy is guaranteed to set off vicious hissing and jeering from the studio audience.
Prior to the boycott revote, the BBC carried a report on the College of Judea and Samaria, which it matter-of-factly describes as being located in an "illegally occupied settlement on Arab land." Viewers would never have learned that 300 Arabs from neighboring villages study there, or that 20% of the University of Haifa's student body, and many department heads, are Arabs. The BBC's Orla Guerin, who once described the arrest of a retarded teenage Palestinian suicide bomber as an Israeli stunt to gain favorable publicity, was on the Queen's most recent birthday honors list.'
This is just a taster, but I am disgusted by what the Queen's Honours have become under Tony Blair's guidance- routinely embodying for me why Blair is certainly no friend to Britain, and remains emphatically a revisionistic Socialist with all that means. Of course peerages and honours are debased coinage anyway following Blair's evisceration of the Lords, but nevertheless they are still as much, if not more than ever, the coinage of elitism, an expression of establishment admission, and a powerful social force among the UK's leadership tranche.
As for Guerin, I remember early one morning in one tucked-away broadcast, just over a year ago, when Guerin repeatedly described Ariel Sharon as the 'Godfather' of Israeli settlers. She clearly implied some kind of gangster-like qualities, and it was so gratuitous and sneering it took my breath away. This of course at a time when many unnecessary courtesies had already been mooted for Saddam Hussein. Well, more about Guerin's recent activities here, as she lays into Israel's highly successful concrete-aided fence.
What can a British person who is also a sympathiser of Israel say when someone like Guerin is honoured by the Queen. Dude, where's my country?
But Guerin is not alone in her bias; there's Barabara Plett and Lys Doucet and and others who I and others have noticed with anti-Israel bias, not to say occasional anti-semitism. In other words the BBC itself stands accused.
Yet from the journalistic establishment we get things like this:
'What, I sometimes wonder, would life be like without Desert Island Discs, Jim Traynor, Andy Marr, Bryan Burnett’s fab C&W extravaganza, the World At One, the World Service, Radio Three, Radio Five’s football commentator Alan Green (“This will be their 19th consecutive game without a win unless they can get an equaliser”), honey-voiced Nick Clarke, Natasha Kaplinsky, Humphrey Lyttleton, Mark Lamarr, the Round Britain Quiz, the fragrant Orla Guerin, and, of course, not forgetting my dear chum, Andra Neil.'
I mean really all you need is to put 'the Rvd', 'the hon.', and so on, beside these names and you'd have the makings of a speech from one of Jane Austin's Grande Dames.
To an extent that's absurd. No, of course the BBC and chums (and there are a lot of people involved) are not the new aristocracy, at least not as we knew it. What they are though is a highly self-satisfied and self-interested body of folks who are evolving their own definition of class and how to enforce it. Different classes than the old sort perhaps; more broad-based in some ways, yet in other ways actually narrower (the highest echelons being less soundly educated, for instance, than the Arnoldian upper classes).
The way that anti Semitism and elitism ties together is this: elites like to consider themselves the best that is present in society, and the more prestigious they find their society to be the more they can enjoy their position. Britain really knows far too much about this phenomenon, though you'd never guess it from the faux-egalitarianism of the Beeb (faux-egalitarianism is part of the fun). Society elites therefore spend their time comparing themselves to other countries' elites, and this is where the Jews come in for their stick. Forget American exceptionalism- the real exceptionalism of history, an exceptionalism unchosen and unsought, belongs to the Jews. So whatever the pretensions of the British successors to the Empire (ie. the cool Britons), there is always one cachet which eludes them- they are not different in the way that the Jewish nation is.
As the British elite becomes ever more rapaciously absorbative of all manner of problems that befuddled their ancestors (Ireland, Palestine, racism, Africa), and pretends to know all the answers to these questions (ever more ludicrously and damagingly in real historical terms), so they get more and more unhinged by Israeli exceptionalism.
But what does this mean? Not I think, that Britain is about to round up the relatively small populations of its own Jews- that would only happen over heaps of non-elite British corpses (as the elite get more rotten so in some respects the ordinary British people get more like tarts with hearts). And anyway, the elite is too lazy and too stupid either to bother rounding them up or to organise the operation. True, there are many sycophants of the elite, but they simply have very loud voices rather than overwhelming numbers.
Of course Israel-in-the-world suffers, but I still believe that modern Israel can and will hold its own.
No, the real loss is that when the world needs leadership what it gets is Tony Blair.
And it's people like Blair that render me sympathetic to people writing like this. (no, I don't agree, only sympathise- if that's not a cop out. I am certain that Blair will do no real good to Africa; the reverse in fact.)
Thanks, by the way, to A Tangled Web for much food for thought and valuable linkaging.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:43 AM
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
All that's bad about BBC reporting can be found in this article at BBConline. Well, perhaps not all- but much.
What is news anyway? Is it what happens, or what you would like to happen, or what you think could happen, given enough publicity?
I give you the BBC's idea of news:
'Four US soldiers have been killed in insurgent attacks since late Tuesday.
The American deaths on Tuesday brought the toll from the day's violence to at least 36 people, making it one of the deadliest days since May.
According to a US opinion poll, for the first time a majority of Americans believe that the war in Iraq has not made the US safer.
The nationwide poll of 1,002 selected adults taken by the Washington Post and ABC News shows 52% believe the war has not contributed to America's long-term security with 47% believing it has.
"We found three civilians' bodies torn completely apart," said Lt Col Thair al-Izzi in Baquba.'
Note the linkage here: the deaths, the polls in the US, The Horror.
Of course taken separately each item may have some newsworthiness of some sort. Taken together they're just propaganda for the so-called insurgents, whose aims we all understand, though their tactics seem bizarrely to smack of a desire to be on the losing side of history.
One could understand it if there was anything in the current attacks which showed a step change in Iraq, but there isn't. The Coalition casualties go through their ups and downs as they always have. Judging from the entrenchment near Falluja the evil men of Iraq always bargained on a war of attrition. Judging from the continuing revelations of terrorist intent, Iraq is the flypaper it was always said to be.
All the BBC can hope is that the fabled religious divides of Iraq will come to life in time to impersonate some horrible, borrible place from which nightmarish, nightmarish reality US troops can only hope to emerge intact, if they're lucky. Sigh...- it's all been said before, yet the Beeb, with its unexcelled egotism, thinks it's very clever, still:
'The violence continued as a senior Shia figure demanded a greater security role for the Badr Brigades militia, accused by its critics of vigilante attacks on Sunni Arabs...
Before the US-led invasion in Spring 2003 the brigades waged a guerrilla war in southern Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein's government.'
See, civil war etc etc etc blah, 'right all the long' utter bullshit.
Meanwhile, an attempt at perspective, here.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:17 PM
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Monday, June 06, 2005
A bit pissed off.
Looking through the news stories about the Guantamo bay "desecration" incident(s), I could see that confusion reigned. How to present 5 whole incidents separately or together in some summary phrase seemed to be beyond the powers of the media.
Particularly egregious was this Times of India report, which said that 'US military personnel once kicked a copy of the Quran, and subsequently a guard accidentally urinated on it'.
Er, I don't think it was the same Koran, bub, or the fellow it belonged to was having one very bad hair day. And I always thought the educated classes in India were pretty hot with their English.
Continuing the subcontinental theme, this from the Indian Express (sounds kind of fine, don't it?) was far better. You'd expect that all in the country would understand the kind of thing that makes the Muslim masses restive, and would hold back from Imran Khaning the issue.
But yes, I'm coming round to the BBC on this subject, as might be anticipated.
While they are reporting that Sen Biden wants to close Guantanamo down, and Amnesty think it's the gulag of our time (they really ought to get out more- to a psychiatrist's perhaps), they also say 'The comments came two days after the Pentagon admitted that guards at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran.'
This is an absurd way to describe the findings of the report in question. The first thing you have to question is the precise meaning of this word 'desecration'. If some similar standard were applied for the Christian church in Britain then shops open on Sunday would be 'desecrating' the Sabbath and shopkeepers would be trembling at the thought of a call being paid by the men from the International Courts. Similarly if the fine spray of inadvertent urination were a 'desecration', then someone ought to stop the vandalism of toilet spaces that is engaged in hourly by men around the globe. If only the Yank had gone 'sitting down' there would have been no problem.
But secondly there was no admission of guilt involved. In fact the opposite. They admitted, to a question that was not asked, that they held the Koran in great respect in all their practises. I am not sure about the notion of desecration in Islam, though I don't know if I care much either, but I know that in Judeo-Christianity a fundamental distinction is made between advertent and inadvertent behaviour. Not to make it here seems either wilful manipulation, or rank dhimmitude.
Of course I'm well-aware that Muslims think the Koran was dictated straight from Heaven, and everything about its treatment needs to be rinky-dinky, but the fact is that (I've a confession to make, I've read the Bible cover to cover three times or more) to read a book like the Koran (which I've also done, though not completely through) requires that it's a bit dog-eared. Not sure about pissing on it, but it slips down the back of the bed, is good for resting hot coffee on, gets a bit damp in the bathroom and is the all time best, guaranteed-death, fly swatter (in this the religious texts are united and inseparable).
Quite frankly I'm amazed how good the US army is, and how utterly respectful of their protocols- and I can't think why our press has seen the need to spoil their knickers over it. Except that, of course, the press (especially the British one) always feels like they're part of some low-grade Hollywood film where the US Government agencies and minions are always the bad guys)
Posted by ed thomas at 10:06 AM
Sunday, June 05, 2005
And this Euro analysis, from the Weekly Standard, really cuts to the quick on occasion:
'had the constitutional thingy, whatever you choose to call it, passed, the ability to paint it as a constitution would have been crucial to increasing Brussels' power and prestige.'
This vital point, it seems to me, illustrates how much the old 'tidying up' canard was just a clay pigeon for sceptics to shoot at. Christopher Caldwell makes other telling points too.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:14 PM