'she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions. Rest in peace, Benazir.'
Mark Steyn says it so well.
I was thinking today about the distinction between fairytale and fantasy. Benazir Bhutto facing down the Islamists falls firmly into the latter category, if one remembers that fairytales contain a germ of human reality (the princess coming to her senses, the Prince ordering the garden, cutting down the undergrowth, seeing through the charade and inviting the modest girl to the dance, etc.- symbols of real action and change), fantasy drops from the sky.
One should give up on fantasies, but not fairytale. I've been sitting with my neice and nephew, watching such things- and now I'm following the Bhutto trauma online. Fairytales cannot lead anywhere but up or they peter out into fluffiness; fantasies can distort into nightmares, and almost always do.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
'she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions. Rest in peace, Benazir.'
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Still freely mocking politicians....
Mark Steyn's stocking filler is a corker.
Best read in accompaniment to this video 'enhancement' of Hillary's latest campaign video.
As the US election cycle begins to hot up, I was struck with the contrast between that and the incredibly depressing spectacle of another generation of Lib Dems girding their loins to rally behind the miserable, vapid and vacuous Nick Clegg, whose acceptance speech was empty as hell and inept even at that. The BBC tried to find an interesting angle on Clegg and as the Beeb were trying to be interesting in the written word, something they have limited understanding of, the result was typically grotesque:
"The male clegg drinks nectar, and sucks blood.
It's is an old word for a gadfly - an insect which hops from one thing to another, irritating livestock and rarely settling in one place.
Nick Clegg, its namesake, will hope there is more political sweetness than bleeding ahead."
I think I'd be a little irritated by that, were I a Lib-Dem, if I didn't know that it was probably just BBC "creativity" gone wrong- which is rather different from their groupthink leftism as that tends to follow predictable lines.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Being busy without reason is a public menace.
In a week when the BBC have been trumpeting what they see and highlight as the latest evidence that global warming is fact (and of course, they always include the man-made hypothesis in this as though it were necessary to add it when it is implicit in the very presence of "Global Warming" stories in our societies' dailies), it's a relief to find Stephen Fry put his support for the movement in a philosphical context, reframing Pascal's Wager about God's existence:
"For the eco-believer it’s no-lose situation: we all survive if they’re right and we’ve acted on their belief, we survive if they’re wrong and we’ve acted on their belief. Whereas for the eco-denier we survive if they’re right and we’ve done nothing but we perish if they’re wrong and we’ve done nothing."
So often we get pointless and rebuttable anecdote- here we get a theory of action.
It's good to be able to say that Fry's thought is quite inadequate on this matter.
It's clear that there is not one accepted result of ignoring global warming. There are many, and few of them catastrophic in the short term save to a small minority of the world's population. Yes, that does sound rather Benthamite, doesn't it? Well, the eco-enthusiasts are the real Benthamites, it seems to me. They figure that focussing the world's economic, scientific and political resources on one aspect most prominent to themselves and their interests has and will have no consequences to those falling outside the sphere of action envisaged by the protocols of rich nations.
And if it does, well, tough. IT'S THE ONLY WAY. Win-Win :-).
Update: I've just come across this rather excellent post from Sean Gabb of the Libertarian alliance on the subject.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Amazing, isn't it, how much ground the solidly conservative Thompson can make up, just by ambling along?
Interesting article, with the opinions of ace pollster Frank Luntz, here.
Fred is the man as far as my thoughts go on the US Presidential trail. I still think he'll be the winner. It's funny that it's so much more encouraging (with caveats) to follow US politics than it is to follow the UK's.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
It becomes wearisome
No I've not tired of blogging in the few days since I got my laptop back from the
cowboys technicians who fixed it.
No, the wearisome thing is the extent to which writers with whom I am in agreement are suffering from the scrutiny of the law.
I mentioned Susan Ehrenfeld a while back- a lady who cannot publish in or visit the UK after being landed with a GBP250,000 libel order from a British judge. Ehrenfeld was just among the most vocal in a line of victims of Islamic
terrorist conduit sewer suer-in-chief, Khalid bin Mahfouz.
As I mentioned below, Mark Steyn is now in the line of fire, predictably- through his Canadian publishers Macleans. I've had a read of the muslim lawyers' complaints document and they are predictably lacking in substance and long on generalities- but perhaps the law relating to "Islamophobia" is too.
Stanley Kurtz makes a valid point when he says "the anti-free-speech attacks on Steyn and Maclean’s, by Western-trained lawyers, no less, show that Steyn’s concerns about poorly assimilated Western values are more than justified."
The only problem with that is that it isn't Steyn's viewpoint- he sees such lawyers as understanding all too well the lessons of their education. I think he's right. Arguing in generalities laced with a vague scent of human rights is about the level of public discourse, and I would say not so far from the standard of legal discourse, today. The whole incitement of religious hatred thing is a vague nonsense open to abuse from day one- and so it is proving.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Of course he can
First they came for... well, whatever- Mark Steyn outlines how the Canadian Islamic thingamy association is out to censure him and his book America Alone (Christmas last year spent being ill was better for this book). A bit late for the Islamofreaks, I'd have thought, but Steyn responds:
"I can defend myself if I have to. But I shouldn’t have to."
Well, quite. As far as I can remember he only referred to limb chopping backward looking wife beating honour-killing muslims as being in the minority, and the rest failing to condemn. What's to challenge about that characterisation?
Posted by ed thomas at 6:12 AM
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I know you'll be excited to read this, those who do that is, but actually vital signs are reported to have returned to my laptop and some serious surfing may resume in the next few days. Hope so. I've noticed a certain Gordon Brown appearing regularly in the side columns of local newspapers, and if I understand rightly he's in a bit of bother. Which would be fun, if it weren't serious.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The first point of this post is to explain that my laptop had an unfortunate accident last weekend, for which a remedy is being sought. For the moment, Ed's laptop is unwell...
The second (and main point), is to register my surprise at this news from Jamaica at the inquest of Bob Woolmer- surprise that the original pathologist is insisting that Woolmer's death was no accident. This would accord with my observation that there is much to be suspicious of in the Woolmer case. It is surprising he is allowed to be heard.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Another brick in the wall
That's all the EU treaty is, in that it simply binds together previous treaties and makes more of them operative, plus creating the platform for the next layer of EU power grabs. Or so it seems to me.
It's a sad business trying to dissect the legalities because it's not what a concerned person, a subject of his own nation, ought to have to do. Legal personality. An overall EU foreign minister. Demotion of competition law. Promotion of social protection. These are all just soundbytes really, and it makes about as much sense summing them up neatly as it does to take a few swipes at a roomful of cobwebs.
The fundamental point is this: I and most other Britons of age to vote today have never had a chance to vote specifically on anything to do with the EU, let alone membership of its various incarnations. I did actually vote for James Goldsmith in the elections of 1997 (my first vote), but with a heavy heart- single issues are not what national elections are for.
Yet the EU is not a single issue, it's a multitude of issues rolled into one, and it has created a democratic deficit which no politicians seem to want to address, rather than manage.
Britain is essentially suffering from Europe's weakness. If Europe were strong then each nation would negotiate in a complex diplomatic nexus areas of agreement that could be flexible and joined or not depending on circumstances. Europe would be a dynamic place not fixated on 0.2% of economic growth here, -.3% there.
British people, when they think about politics, think about our politics. The EU is essentially irrelevant to their thinking but paradoxically determinative when it comes to their options. The people in Louisiana seem to be far more rationally focussed on politics than the British people (this story actually holds a lot of hope for peoples slumped for many years in paralysing political doldrums).
Yet that lack of focus is fundamentally not the British people's fault, but the myopia and supine laziness of their leaders- and their leaders' ignorance, as was interestingly pointed out by EU Ref.
If you think about the only issue of hot political debate in the UK over the last ten years, the only thing which turned situations in constituencies upside down, that would be the Iraq war. Key point: that was a British decision to support the US. It was a sovereign choice, right or wrong. One reason I think that such an issue was so hot was, I think, because the lazy Europhile underbelly of public opinion was suddenly shaken (wobbled?) by the notion of a British policy independent of the EU. Quel horror!
Well, Britain, not Europe as such, was attacked in the '05 bombings. Britain still exists, and the legal fraud of the EU will one day soon be brought to answer because of sheer hypocrisy. The EU's trading standards were clearly not being kept when the country was sold the project, and sold to the project, in one referendum before the lifetimes of me and many of my fellow voters.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Lubos Motl is scathing about the Goracle's coronation by the Nobels.
What galls me is that the UK seems to have run out of appetite for good old-fashioned (and trustworthy) anti-American stereotypes, just when one of them could be usefully applied.
The British Government now thinks it's a laugh to sell snake oil to school children, after sober reflection of course.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
More than irritating.
Awarding the Nobel peace prize to Al Gore was an act of political hostility, ironically. Personally I hate such backslapping affairs and would rather recognition were spontaneous- in which case the moronically inclined could whoop it up for Al all by their ownsome. It's the astonishing lack of attention given to their detractors which makes the Nobel committee's decisions so much like a kind of open suicide note to history. Recognise Carter, Annan, Gore, and you're pinning your colours to the mast and inviting a reprisal through public opinion. But so what?
Guess which British broadcaster was busy doing some loud whooping? Yup, that one. Another group whose demise would have me saying, "so what?".
Al Gore seems to think, by the way, that Hillary is unstoppable for 08.
It's true she's been a well-oiled machine of late. However, her almost preternaturally attractive image (seen above) is a bit of a Dorian Gray- someone's bound to find the real picture over time. She's clearly got image consultants that "silky" Edwards would die for- she's just not that attractive and powerful-looking, never has been, and truthfully the falseness there is indicative of her wider flaws: a skin-deep philosophy hiding a neurotic desperation for power.
People will prefer Fred, who is my tip for '08.
And that's the real danger for our Norwegian friends and the Rev. Al Gore as well- vanity will out in the end. Can't wait.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Champion of the blogosphere
No, not Al Gore, who only invented the internet. Damien Thompson, who lays into the old fraud here.
Comment of the day though comes from John B:
"Well, that proves it. The Nobel peace committee is entirely predictable, unlike the earth's climate."
Lovely little essay on ConHome by Louise Bagshawe about Gordon and the Conservatives.
We have contributed to Brown’s “Ratner moment” – one week when he totally trashed the careful image he’s built up over ten years, and showed the nation he’s a spinning (Iraq), bottling (Andrew Marr), bogus (“the polls had nothing to do with it”) bog-standard new Labour apparatchik.
One question: wasn't "Gordon Brown" (as we knew him) in fact a figment of Tony Blair's imagination?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Interesting things noted.
I have noticed recently some action on the Pakistan front. Not the Afghan one, the cricket one. First the retirement of Inzamam ul Haq, the captain. He is 37, apparently, so that's not surprising in a way. Then the banning of Shoab Akhtar for 13 games for allegedly hitting a colleague with a bat.
Two of the most senior players gone in a matter of weeks.
Well, it's been around six months since the death of Bob Woolmer, in circumstances we were assured afterwards - long afterwards - were not suspicious.
Apparently Shoaib hit his fellow player Mohammed Asif on the thigh. Interesting- it's difficult to call that a serious act, since being hit there is not very dangerous and actually not so unusual in the ordinary course of cricket when fielding close to the bat. It's often worse then because the batsman is actually trying to wallop the ball and instead hits the close-in fielder- ouch!
13 games is an awful lot, but then Shoaib is a bit of a bad boy. He has had brushes with drugs for which he was banned for 2 years and then soon after reprieved, and was actually replaced in the Pakistani team just before the World Cup where Pakistan lost to Ireland and Woolmer died.
Shoaib was fined in January for a row with Woolmer. A fight between them had previously been denied.
Btw, in looking into this situation I found out that before he died, Woolmer had started a blog. In it he notes, shortly before the World Cup began "We also hear with pleasure that Sami and Yasir Arafat will replace Shoaib and Asif." With pleasure?
Shoaib is currently being disciplined for hitting Asif, it appears- both men restored to the Pakistani dressing room only to fall out, it would seem. Asif had also- like Shoaib- been found guilty of using the drug nandrolone, and his withdrawal from the Pakistan world cup team was rumoured to be about more than just an injury.
Ah, dressing room politics. It seems that there was just an extraordinary amount of that going on in the Pakistani one prior and subsequent to the death of the cricket coach.
Monday, October 08, 2007
It's really very funny watching Brown trying to imitate Tony Blair in his press conference today. He even dropped a 't' just now- "wha' I want to do" is show my vision etc etc.
Another thing noticed in Gordon Brown's recent presentations: the number of times he mentions some variation of "honest". Blair was master at doing that without over-egging it- managing to plead without ever descending into desperation, pleading before people saw it as necessary and thereby coming off as "sincere".
What is clear is that Brown, having sat back and observed Blair all those years, now does a pretty passable impression of Blair with some vital aspects missing, and some very Brownish tics visible.
Much better when talking about figures than about politics.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Tony Blair is cleverer than Gordon Brown...
It's the answer to a question I've thought about a bit over the years. It's not something I take great joy in finding out for sure, and neither does it prove that Tony Blair was actually a "good thing" (really I don't think that at all). But the hamminess of that clunking fist is apparent in the chain of events that have unfolded, leading up to Brown's big anti-climax non-election announcement, while TB has pranced on, viralesque, into the Middle East.
As Boulton says "whatever else, it will call into question the judgement of Team Brown and also their sincerity when they talk about the national interest because of the political calculation which they have clearly now been caught by the headlights".
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Stop right there, Beeb.
"Ever the showman..."
Yes. The article is about Gordon Brown- the man who had to be taught to smile. The man who was once the sober son of the manse- prudence's best friend, you name it in terms of sobriety when he was covering Tony Blair's back in the nulab early years- is now a smiling showman. Truly the spin is dead- long live the sping!
Monday, October 01, 2007
And then, quite a lot of news.
Well, some fascinating analysis of the latest numbers from Iraq- sadly we're talking body counts, but I've always been absolutely focussed on these as my means of understanding what can be understood about there by us from over here. John Wixted has the breakdown- keep scrolling, but notice where it compares the trends of sectarian Shia-led killings with Al Qaeda bombing attacks. The surge happens, and the former drop off, while the latter take off, and now appear to have stuttered. You can see a chink of light here, you really can- once the battle becomes Al Qaeda vs, the battle becomes worthwhile and meaningful and Iraqis suddenly begin to see their choices.
I was also very impressed by this article from Caroline Glick on the Ahmadinejad trip to the US. It's the fundamentals on fundamentalism, to put it succinctly.
And well, I even got a little excited by the Conservative Conference this week. On the other hand this guy brought me back down to earth. Some traps would be worth falling into- it's known as principle and far-sightedness. But, yes, it would be a turn up for the books if that happened to be the case with the current Conservatives.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Another week and, sorry, another gap in posting, wasn't there? It's not really a sign of my getting tired of the weblog, more a symptom of me re-thinking a few things and that it's not always possible to be thoughtful and prolific, especially when time is short and other things crowd in.
Something that caught my eye in this week of the Labour Party conference was the neat way in which the BBC gave Gordon Brown a platform on the international stage as he responded to the upheavals in Burma. Also included was a nice image of Brown looking like a man of fortitude.
So many of these positive images of Brown floating around at the moment, aren't there? Reminds me of a contempory of mine at school- a bit wimpy so he got into judo, which was fine until he got his photo in the local paper, captioned: "Nick, ready for action". Too much. I had to laugh. Not his fault, of course, but ott.
In the new, unelected Prime Minister's case it makes me sick because there are real people on the end of these conflicts, and all Gordon sees fit to do is to introduce an element of surprise into his Conference package by appearing to be at the forefront in a crisis. It's almost as if Gordon is saying that anything Blair can do (ie. spin), he can do better- and with more chutzpah, as is shown by the fact that he announced on his ascension an end to spin. Since then it's been nothing but spin and proven that his image is paramount.
As often I have to acknowledge a "thought debt" to Mark Steyn, whose latest article is in my view among his very best,
"So much of contemporary life is about opportunities for self-congratulation. Risk-free dissent is the default mode of our culture, and extremely seductive."
Yes, yes, and Gordon has been giving us a masterclass recently- as if we needed one. That's one reason we miss Steyn in the UK these days since he walked out of the Telegraph and Spectator. Brown trotted onto the centre stage, full of righteous indignation about affairs in a country that he'll never have to sacrifice anything for, the epitome of risk-free self-congratulation.
And that's not even to mention Darfur. Or the cuts in the Navy. It's all virtual, this world, apart from the people who're dying.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Shhh- only me. Sorry I've haven't posted for a few days. I've been working on something a bit different.
As it is, I have only two slivers of Steyn brilliance to offer.
The king of wordplay was at his finest in 2002 when swapping barbs with the Saudi Ambassador to London: 'a couple of days later it was announced that King Fahd had appointed him Minister of Water - which, on closer inspection, turns out to mostly involve being Minister of Sewage. My fan has hit the s--t'
But then he's not so rusty today, though a touch more serious:
Last week freedom took another hit. Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled her new health care plan. Unlike her old health care plan, which took longer to read than most cancers take to kill you, this one’s instant and painless – just a spoonful of government sugar to help the medicine go down. From now on, everyone in America will have to have health insurance.
And, if you don’t, it will be illegal for you to hold a job.
Read the rest for the statistical demolition job, and be illuminated.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
BBC's news draining away
Well it seems like that concerning Iraq. Of course they are still highlighting the negatives, such as the recent debacle of killings by Blackwater Security- which may or may not have been Blackwater's fault (too early to say).
It's not a safe thing to do to say that the BBC are running out of bad news on Iraq- they are resourceful for the lean times and so are the terrorists- but it certainly seems that they have little choice in the negative stories they cover ie. the selection is diminishing.
Have you heard about the quiet times for Baghdad's main hospital and mortuary? Thought not- at least not from the BBC.
Have you heard how Hell got pasted in Ramadi? Thought not- from the BBC anyway.
Have you heard how they are emulating the Anbar province in Southern Baghdad province? Well, you know the score by now. (I must confess an indebtedness to the great Instapundit that I know all about things the BBC haven't covered).
As I said, I really wouldn't want to claim that the BBC haven't got any bad news to report- I just think that perhaps they will have to cast an eye at the positive stuff if trend follows trend. I think the most remarkable thing, the thing that's really different in Iraq now, is the turnaround of the Sunni triangle. It's the dissolution of this terrible clot of blood that could release the pressure on the rest of the Iraqi body. Let's hope.
Monday, September 17, 2007
There is a list of things as long as your arm that could outline what Gordon Brown has done to bring the British economy to its current perilous pass. Of course, listing them here would require a little too much Googling for today... (If the state of Gordon-critiquing were better I am sure I would have them off the top of my head by now. (dis)Honourable mention here for the BBC for being such a good shill for Gordon over the years. It's what they do, you know).
The Telegraph notes, in an article typically headlined according to the personality involved, "The banking crisis of 1973 was one of the key factors that led to Mr Heath's government losing the 1974 election."
Mmm. 1973. Here we go again.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Today saw Mrs Thatcher visiting Downing Street, welcomed by Gordon Brown. Gordon has clearly learnt a few things from Tony Blair.
This convenient publicity gives Gordon the chance to wrong-foot the Conservatives, that much is clear. It also, I think, demonstrates that the repeated disloyalty of the Conservatives to the substance of the 80's transformation means that Mrs T. has no reason to side with them against Gordon.
Mrs Thatcher, it's true, was barely middle class in the context of Britain when she was growing up. Middle class for Grantham, yes, but that was a town well down the pecking order of desirable societies.
So if Mrs T. welcomes opportunities to have meetings with the marketising socialists, it's no real surprise. She isn't a Tory, like Cameron, after all.
But if she imagines that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown actually oversee a real continuation of her approach to society, she's quite misled (and anyway, we know there's no such thing as society). Not surprising, at her age.
One interesting indicator of Gordon Brown's approach came today as the UN adopted a treaty on "native rights". There was a very plain group of countries voting against- the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Is it conceivable that under Margaret Thatcher Britain wouldn't have voted with them? Well, almost, but only as a tactic and a short term one at that.
It's not clear whether the UK might have abstained, and it is a non-binding agreement , but it's interesting to note that many countries who have at least as much to lose as the four who voted against the agreement must have voted for it. Countries in South America, for instance. Heaven knows what "indigenous peoples" might mean when applied to Europe.
And that's the thing- most of the countries that voted for the agreement would lose something were they to follow the rules they sign to- non-binding really just means that there will be no mechanism for enforcement. Thus it must be, either we have a lot of selfless neighbours in the world, or most have signed in blithe bad faith. The latter is my guess, which is why we need the anglosphere. Which is why it really means something when we ignore them. Which is why I say that the direction of this country is basically heading towards hunkering down in a hypocritical, two-faced, socialist Europe. That sucks, actually.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The deeply impressive Petraeus
I managed to catch about 90 minutes of Gen. Petraeus' testimony to the Senate committee yesterday- I couldn't believe it when I heard them say how much there was left; those sessions are incredibly long.
One little glitch I noticed was his Bush-like slip where he talked of the terrorists' global war on terror- which of course should have been of terror.
I was interested by this short clip via HotAir of a bit I hadn't seen, later in the session, where he corrected that slip very pointedly.
That self-correction comes amid another self-correction- he is explaining how the war in Iraq is making America safer, having been non-committal on the point in answering an earlier question. It's easy to understand why he didn't answer immediately- is it a soldier's job to survey the whole world like some latter-day Alexander the Great? According to the Senate committee you would think so.
Yet Petraeus, like any army man, has a sense of territory. If you keep it, no-one else can except someone you permit to inherit it from you. That, strangely, is why in this non-state war it is so vital not to give up territory. It's because you wish to prevent a group of people who don't respect territorial sovereignty from getting their own territory, which they personally don't care for, which is for them merely a launch pad for infiltrating more territory, causing more chaos, increasing their power base, reach, influence and prestige.
Petraeus knows all that instinctively. Others need to learn it.
Oh, and btw, I think that what Petraeus is doing will make the UK a whole lot safer than it would otherwise be as well. Certainly winning in Iraq would have that effect, though any such judgement is a finely balanced one in the grand scheme of things.
"what a lot of useless claptrap postmodernism is. For, while (as I've said) I don't know what the truth of this particular case is, one thing that's clear to everyone is that there is a truth about it: something really happened, an event took place involving Madeleine"
It's just common sense really. From an academic. Today. Talking about the Madeleine McCann case is something of a departure for me, and actually I am not going to do so here.
What happened to Madeleine was no doubt a very specific train of events which resulted in A) tragedy, and B) mystification. Any conclusions I could draw would be terribly politically incorrect and practically speaking indefensible. I do think however that our era is rich in the qualities that made Greek drama tick. I think that's a strong hint, actually.
Monday, September 10, 2007
U.S. Can Do
I there's one thing I'd like the US to take away from recent Iraq experience as presented by General Petraeus, it would be that there's nothing they can't do in Iraq. That's not the same as saying they can impose order everywhere at will- it's that whole regions can be tamed when the US is concerted in its approach. More than anything, when it shows that it just won't back down.
Here's a nice graphic from Petraeus' presentation:
(click to enlarge. More graphics here)
You can see the rising tide of violence, a slow wave rising in various particulars of violence, interrupted and brought back to levels that indicate one thing- respite. The product of the so-called "surge".
It's interesting to me, because it not only confirms that commitment brings success, but also that I was right in thinking that the violence had been on a gradual but steepening incline from the end of 04 (with a small break after the Iraqi general election- were some of the Islamofascists holding their breath, waiting to see if...?).
If you couple it with stories like this one from Michael Yon, it begins to look as though commitment wins success, fighting works, and Iraq is no quagmire- though it's the kind of unruly beast that requires constant discipline mixed with reassurance.
It's not a great deal of information, admittedly, but it's of a lot more value than the latest BBC-Iraq poll. The complexities of such an undertaking when asking detailed questions according to western priorities ought to be obvious. I wonder what the Arabic for "surge" is?
Sunday, September 09, 2007
"Isn't it obvious?..."
It seems to me these are the three most common words which occur to a conservative minded person.
Conservatism seems to be a habit of mind, in a way. Because it is a habit of mind, the idea that something ought to be obvious is often dismissed as thoughtlessness by the liberal establishment (the idea that today we have a liberal establishment is really a banal observation, given that great efforts have to be made to make the common view assent to the ministrations of that establishment. Good examples would be the death penalty, and EU membership, where the public feeling must be routinely turned aside by a combination of media, legal and political types). A "habit", after all, sounds rather boring, instinctive, not at all the grand effort of mind which humanistic liberals like to imagine.
And this, in turn, leads to a kind of self-censorship, especially today.
It might be better to call conservatism a discipline. Sometimes self-imposed, sometimes imposed by reality. Best when the two are combined. Most people have a bit in them somewhere.
I was thinking of this in response to reading about the latest film from Brian De Palma, a smash hit at the Venice Film Festival (inaugurated by Benito Mussolini, by the way). It's called "Redacted" and it's an Iraq war "expose", and the Financial Times raves about it here.
Well, knowing De Palma (The Untouchables), it'll be blood and guts and moral fervour, just as the FT describes.
But how about that reality? It comes from all directions, you know. In addition to the insecure, unstable and ill-disciplined, we have the disciplined, incredible and the brave, the understanding and the educated, the vainglorious and dishonest- and, the thing that real conservatives never forget, the enemy. And, under it all, the fallibility of things, which we all forget sometimes.
It was always going to be that way. Nothing has surprised me so far about the Iraq conflict. I am not pessimistic, but I will end on a conservative note:
As Bad as a Mile
Watching the shied core
Striking the basket, skidding across the floor,
Shows less and less of luck, and more and more
Of failure spreading back up the arm
Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,
The apple unbitten in the palm.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Projection quote of the day:
"the more the American people reside in a world of hate, fear, terror, anger and sheer unthinking blind rage; the better it is for the egotistical unholy cult "leader" Osama Bin Laden....."
What hell it is in Amerikkka according to the Daily Kos.
All this stirred up by the latest little tirade from Osama. Latest, I say, well, perhaps the best attested as having come from the OBL.
Since a lot of other people have been spouting their opinions about it, I may as well.
OBL comes over as a fantastically cocooned, smug, unconsciously ethno-religio-nationalistic, bigoted and wildly generalising man of 50.
In fact, a not untypical liberal. A kind of psychotic Tony Benn on speed.
Sure, the problems of the world are caused by man's engorged unthinking stupidity- but it ain't George Bush's that stands out for me.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Gordon's feet of clay.
It has pained me to see people writing Iraq off as a failure. Recently, it has pained me even more to see Prime Minister Gordon Brown give the orders for the British to get ready to leave Iraq.
It does seem foolish to leave at a time when this can be construed as failure, when our allies still need us, but even more so when it is considered that Iraq may be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Yesterday GW Bush met with his own secretaries of Defence and State, his Generals in Iraq, and the Iraqi Gvt.- all in the province of Al Anbar which has been the principle sphere of conflict for most the period since 2003.
Was this a symbolic act a gesture that the US is not beaten in Iraq, before a gradual withdrawal? Maybe. But maybe it was both a practical move and a political one, which shows that there is nowhere, and no group, that cannot be tamed and brought into the political process of Iraq- except Al Qaeda in Iraq.
So, Gordon Brown chooses now to back down from Tony Blair's commitment to Iraq? Nice one, Gordy. Rather like selling gold at the bottom of its price cycle (this Gordon Brown also did). Just when you could reap the rewards of a steadfast ally, you choose to remind the US that their worries are their own, and not to be shared beyond a certain arbitrary and unpredictable point. The British people aren't with you George, says Gordon, as George begins to scent a victory parade and an appreciation (well-deserved) that will be as rapturous as his critics were rancorous.
The only upside is that if Gordon's feet are this clayey, they will probably crack and fall apart by the time he comes to call an election (he won't have the nerve in the next few weeks, I think, if he is true to form).
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Censorship whackamole- more upsidedownness
I tried to draw attention to the case of Susan Ehrenfeld recently- an author hounded through the UK libel courts by Islamists seeking to suppress her work, along with the work of other anti-Islamist writers. A commenter then wrote:
"what's more shocking, is that it doesn't seem to be a big story in the UK".
Too true. Yet I wonder if you have heard of a gentleman by the name of Udo Ulfkotte? He is becoming a little better known outside his native Germany following his leadership role in the anti-Islamist march planned for Sept 11th - but banned by Brussels Mayor Freddie Thielemans.
His story though is a remarkable one. And guess what Allah's little helpers have been up to in his case? Why, censorship in Germany, of course. And of an even more vicious sort than related previously.
His story is interesting on a number of fronts.
One is that it shows how a relative insider today can become an outsider following pressure from Islamists virtually overnight. His contacts in the intelligence sphere failed to help him when he was confronted by legal claims against his book, "The War In Our Cities - How Radical Islamists Undermine Germany". He could not back up his documents amid Islamist denials of their veracity. Later the tables were turned and he was accused (and acquitted) of the crime of bribing officials.
All this happened to a man on the verge of a professorship, who had been given a Civic prize by the state of Bavaria for his research against terrorism, and who has had a long and distinguished career in journalism as Foreign News Editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine
Another interesting feature is his direct contact with Islamists in Sudan and Afghanistan.
He is a thoroughly educated man, a man travelled in the Islamic world, and he speaks about things which he knows.
He may not be a perfect moral specimen, for all I know, but it is more than irritating- it is deeply worrying- that there seems to be a hyper-standard applied concerning whether those who write works critiquing Islam or Islamism deserve our support when faced with a backlash.
The rest of his story can be found here.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
A great story on which to return...
A warning against socialism- a Polish man had the idea for his "special" house during the years of communism. If you want a better dramatic illustration of the ills of the socialism, you will have to look very hard indeed. The man's a genius- give him the Turner prize immediately. Then let him keep the lunatic prize as a compensation to him and a relief for us- truly it would be a symbolic act most appropriate. Strangely, the media doesn't seem to get this one very well- only a token mention at the BBC, a flutter in the MSM in the US. Perhaps others will get it tomorrow.
Socialism lives, unfortunately, and too few wish to kill it. Behold the house- upside down:
Thursday, August 23, 2007
There's a thunderstorm outside and the air is humid...
Well, anyway, to cut a long story short I'm off on my hols tomorrow- I've been doing quite a bit to get ready and get stuff done which explains my absence the last few days. Anyway, somewhere even warmer than it is this evening beckons- that's Croatia, actually.
So, rather than leave you bereft, I'm going to link to a few places and posts that keep/have kept me entertained.
Keeping you in touch with all things globally warmed and otherwise- with his own thoughts- Czech theoretical physicist Lubos Motl is supremely worth a visit.
Robert Spencer has done a great job in response to a critic of his book comparing Islam and Christianity. One of the few people on the internet with his feet not in the ether but on the ground. His Jihad Watch can be found here.
Speaking of Islam, if you don't visit Memri, you should. All that weird Islamic gobbledygook thoroughly translated and often in video form.
While we're on the subject of information, there is no more informative and educational blog than EU Referendum. Stodgy title, but straight up. I particularly liked this post recently. Helen's always illuminating.
Oh, and if you want a laugh you stand a chance of some fresh posts at Peter Briffa's place.
I'll be back in just over a week. I might get fortunate and find a way, sans cumbersome laptop, of posting something here. Chances are I'll have some thoughts to share.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
And what encouraged me to post the below poem, was this article from Mark Steyn.
You see the article (registration -free- required) deals with an issue which I believe Philip Larkin intuited a long time past:
"one of the critical questions at the heart of the West's twilight struggle: what is a child?"
Worth registering to read.
The greatest conservative poem, ever, maybe.
Well, that would be Phillip Larkin's "Breadfruit", which is so short it can be posted here without difficulties. I know I regularly overlook the "poetry" element of this blog, mainly because it's been an open question in my mind whether poetry has died or not. The following seems to live. I will explain my view afterward...
Boys dream of native girls who bring breadfruit,
Whatever they are,
As bribes to teach them how to execute
Sixteen sexual positions on the sand;
This makes them join (the boys) the tennis club,
Jive at the Mecca, use deodorants, and
On Saturdays squire ex-schoolgirls to the pub
By private car.
Such uncorrected visions end in church
A mortgaged semi- with a silver birch;
Nippers; the widowed mum; having to scheme
With money; illness; age. So absolute
Maturity falls, when old men sit and dream
Of naked native girls who bring breadfruit
Whatever they are.
This poem has all Larkin's typical laughing irony and serious ambiguity. The irony, for example of dignifying the boys' fantasies as "uncorrected visions", which is itself an oxymoron. The serious ambiguity of "absolute maturity falls"- what does this mean, exactly? Just the end of life, burbling in an old people's home. I don't think so, actually, and for me that's the most interesting thing. While Larkin undoubtedly mocks the cheap pleasures of working class youths, he seems to be saying that those cheap pleasures at least had the virtue of gradually imposing the discipline of experience. The open ended question is what happens when "church or registrar" etc. no longer operates. To borrow from another Larkin poem, High Windows, it seems to me that the ending sets itself similarly, pointing to "the thought of high windows:/The sun-comprehending glass,/And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows/Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless."
In a cleverly muted way, Larkin is again the social conservative, questioning "everyone young going down the long slide". In the debate over youth and maturity, Larkin got there before any of us- a sentence I am sure he would find satisfyingly ambiguous.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Really just recycling
Something that DumbJon pointed out. He highlighted this rag:
(click to enlarge)
It's obvious that Boris is target number one for the "black community". But is it really the black community that has it in for Boris? In my experience, black people know irony when they come across it; there's no commentator more ironic out there than Boris Johnson. He's absolutely never quite serious.
The thing is that this "Black newspaper" is undoubtedly just funded by public money, whether meted out by London boroughs or by the Mayor's office itself. This kind of hit piece is reminiscent of nothing so much as the activities which the GLC (Greater London Council) used to get up to.
So that's the first thing. The second thing to notice is that Labour MPs were involved in the attack. The third thing is that the attack was covered, first by the Press Association, then by the BBC, and finally by these goons at the Black Information Link. It's all so orchestrated, it's difficult not to believe that Red Ken's hand was in there somewhere.
Of course what it means most importantly is that Boris has them running scared. The intelligence quotient and personable nature of the candidate leaves them grubbing around trying to smear him as a racist. Certainly this will convince the "Black Information Link", which owes its existence to the likes of Livingstone. I think more highly of the black inhabitants of London than to believe that they'll agree with them. That, though, is what propaganda is for: the apolitical non-believers, to convince them that no smoke would exist without fire.
And the final point: leopards do not change their spots. Red Ken is still Red Ken, dirty tricks and all, and the Labour party still finds him useful. They don't really change either.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Just how rubbish are they?
Climate scientists, I am talking about. We hear daily from the BBC about the assumed effects of global warming, but what we don't hear about is all those embarrassing slips which make global warming science the kind of mish-mash it is.
Today we discovered that 1998 was not the warmest year on record in the USA- among other things. Just one of those facts that are casually bandied around in the debates where people tell you the facts are all against you. The reason for this re-evaluation, made by Nasa itself? Oh, just some little Y2K hiccup they overlooked impacting their data. You can read the story of its discovery, by bloggers rather than by Nasa scientists described here.
Wiil the BBC report this? Is that the chirruping of crickets I hear?
Incidentally, I have reached the end of Anthony Giddens' "Europe in the Global Age". One of this guru's recommendations for the Euro-elite-
"We cannot treat climate change any longer as just a possibility for the future. We should act on the presumption that it is already happening, and that even in the short term its effects will worsen. This means taking measures now..."(p196, EitGA- "At the level of the EU")
Truly it's frightening that we have men with such drive allied to men with such incompetence.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Something to be ashamed of...
Whilst I am often sceptical of the need for national apologies, especially those that go back over the centuries and involve the latest fashionable racial groupings, I do think that if this story transpires it will be time to hang the head in shame.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Britain's coming home, they're coming home.
This brings it home. There has become a depressing regularity about UK casualties in Basra.
"The British have basically been defeated in the south," a senior U.S. intelligence official said recently in Baghdad. They are abandoning their former headquarters at Basra Palace, where a recent official visitor from London described them as "surrounded like cowboys and Indians" by militia fighters. An airport base outside the city, where a regional U.S. Embassy office and Britain's remaining 5,500 troops are barricaded behind building-high sandbags, has been attacked with mortars or rockets nearly 600 times over the past four months."
Obviously I am not a military person, but I would say a few things about this.
1)It's not primarily been a military problem, but a political one. From instilling the rule of law, to suppressing harmful political forces such as Moctada al Sadr, to being modest when times were quiet, to protesting and acting against Iranian interference, we've made the wrong decisions.
2)Both our politicians and our military top brass are arrogant and unrealistic- the politicians in thinking that our military must be expert diplomats just because they're British; our top brass because they thought that, being British, we would have the nouse not to stick our noses where they were not wanted and would be automatically secure and respected through technical prowess and military discipline. The politicians because they thought they could just make assumptions based on favourable metrics and bring troops out of the area before anything had truly been secured; the military because they took every setback as evidence of unrealistic political aims rather than as military problems which they had a responsibility to solve.
Overall it's been a big cock up, which had everything to do with the contempt the British establishment by and large has had for the Iraq expedition, and little or nothing to do with historical inevitability. We haven't seemed to understand that sometimes it's better not to do things rather than to do them badly and unwillingly, while to do them willingly and positively would be the only actually good option. I don't blame the soldiers specifically, but the military culture hasn't exactly vindicated itself.
Of course I have no "overwhelming moral authority" to talk about this, but I feel things could have been so much better.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Yes, it's pretty shocking. So much seems to slip past the British blogosphere it's scary. I've long been suspicious about our strict libel laws, and now it seems they're being used in a meaningful way by the kind of person who'd like nothing better than to bring an end to all our laws in favour of Sharia law.
You can find out about the attempt to stifle free speech at HotAir, here and here, and Mark Steyn has an opinion piece about it today. If you want to find a copy of "Alms for Jihad" however, you may have more difficulty...
This a big story because:
A)Cambridge University press has issued a craven apology rather than stand up for a respectable book by a respectable author.
B)It's one of several such cases.
c)It's using UK law to impinge on the freedoms enjoyed by US writers and readers.
d)It's undermining national security by disengaging the public from matters which concern them, and creating an ever closer relationship between Islamist interests and the UK authorities.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
I could be on to something, Watson...
Excuse my headline, but I've just been reading several Sherlock Holmes mysteries with English-Czech side by side translation. Yes, even lazy me wants to learn languages. These stories though I've been reading side by side with Anthony Giddens' latest potboiler, "Europe in a Global Age". Thrilling stuff.
Well, actually, less of the irony. Giddens's prose might have written by an android, but he has a cyborg-like kind of diligence in asserting his agenda which has affected you and I more than a bit since 1997. It is actually quite fascinating to see how closely the Left's project as manifest in our Government and in media like the BBC are to the musings of their maestro. According to Giddens (p99 EiaGA), "Welfare should be redefined in terms of personal autonomy and self-esteem". Note the replacement of the word "freedom" or "liberty"(a US concept these days) with "personal autonomy"- or freedom to choose (from a range of presumably defined options). Giddens goes on to say "self-esteem, or rather lack of it, has been shown to be involved with a range of social problems" and "a whole range of behaviour that centres around addiction, including eating disorders, alcoholism and even aspects of sexual violence, relates to self-esteem and a lack of a stable sense of self".
Well you know, what's new in that? The idea really that it's the state's responsibility to sort it out, to make you not just be good, but feel good, the mushiness of all that angst to be undergirded by the public purse (assisted by other "actors") for the "clients" of the social system. It's basically the kind of self-help psychobabble of the 80's brought to the aid of the statist extensivism of the Blair-Brown project. As ever, Giddens plays a socialist riff off Thatcherite radicalism.
Of course Giddens is very keen that non-state actors be involved... hey, what about the BBC? Couldn't they get involved? They could write articles warning about catching fatness, not feeling guilty about hating fatness; endless warnings to Mothers about their unborn children. They could create a whole section of fabulation and sensation and call it "Health"?
No, of course that wouldn't be possible without a stream of scientific papers and of course since scientists don't rely at all on the Government to fund them, it wouldn't be possible to engineer that, would it?
Sunday, July 29, 2007
As a football lover and a fan of Iraqi freedom to boot, I just loved this.
Omar, blogging at Iraq the Model, gets better and better in his command of English. Actually I find his writing inspiring just for its style, let alone all the other qualities he brings.
Asian Cup final match highlights here
Saturday, July 28, 2007
While the BBC is lavishing attention on Gordy's Toady and his Baptism of Fire- ooh look, adventure, colour, that dashing jawline- JK Rowling's profile on Wikipedia had a rapid update, I notice:
"According to The Guardian, Rowling is a close friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, with whom she collaborated on a book of children's stories to aid the charity One Parent Families."
Don't know if the update was simply that of altering Brown's title, or if the whole entry was added after Gordon's ascension. Either way, someone cares about Gordie's image (not least the Guardian, source of one of those articles blatantly appealing to sexist stereotyping, "Gordon's Women")
Frankly I have to say I'm sick of all the Gordon-boosting I notice on the BBC and elsewhere. Gordon does not head a new government, is not an unknown quantity or in any way exciting, and does not represent a new direction for Britain. He has been merely the heir to the media coronation and spin which Blair inaugurated.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
It's a wrap.
Mark Steyn does his final analysis of the Black trial. Hugh Hewitt, something of a legal ace, pays him a great compliment:
"If any of the struggling papers had a clue, they'd break the bank and sign Steyn to as near-an-exclusive as they could manage, and then turn him free to write at length about anything going on anywhere in the world, but nudging him towards complicated courtroom dramas"
Warning: the Steyn summary is looong. But good.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The case of the shaken BiasedBBC...
Basically, let me just say, ... I don't understand!!
For those who know nothing about this, I'll just link to Biased BBC and a post where the matter was addressed by Andrew, the leading advocate of comment moderation.
It does however seem sad to me that those concerned about BBC bias cannot work together. The imposition of moderation has had all sorts of curious side-effects, such as the emergence of sites like this, and this . There was this, but it seems to have gone.
I've always had a very merry view to comments- the more the merrier. Of course I don't like people being rude, spouting ignorant rubbish and whatnot, but in my view that's just as (or more) likely to come from some passing BBC staffer as from some anti-Beeb fanatic- to whom I would probably just say, "keep it real, bro", or something like that :-). I could wish that anti-Beeb types like myself didn't feel the need to be vociferous. A more serious point might be that in the end comment threads that are endless are accessible only to the monomaniacal commenter, and there are thankfully not too many of those. Slashing and burning has some virtue, in that the wood emerges from the trees. In the right spirit, people should accept that their comments (and mine!) are not "precious" and unexpendable, but temporary and for a purpose. Carefully thought out comments should never be a victim and where they are I personally would be aggrieved as well. The reason I allowed the comments here on this blog to stay absent when they disappeared as a byproduct of upgrading the blog was simply because they weren't attracting many comments, and it was getting boring looking at 0.
As for the idea of being landed in court over something someone says about the BBC in unmoderated commenting- can anyone be rude enough to make their case indefensible in front of reasonable judges or a jury? It doesn't seem likely, when as John Trenchard points out, TV licensing employs "around 1,700 staff in five offices" just to enable the coercion of TV owners into funding the BBC. Truly an obscenity.
It's not only rudeness though, there're also libel and slander. Well, in those cases what I would say is that as long as it's an allegation of BBC bias, rather than some criminal accusation, everything should be ok. If you say John Simpson is a murderer, then I'll back away from you as fast as from any rabid dog; if you say his bias has potentially dangerous consequences, I have no problem with that. Sometimes the latter can sound like the former, if you're clever in the way you put it ;-).
Well, since the BBC's rottweiler, JR, described me as engaging in casuistry recently, I trust you'll take the above statement of ambiguity in accusing BBC journalists with a pinch of salt.
Summary: I suspect those in opposition to the BBC are closer to each other than we imagine. Misunderstandings are very easy on the web. Understanding differences would also be useful, where they exist. Flexibility is a virtue. Apologies and common resolve are admirable.
BTW- I think I will put comments back from here on. Not that I expect many, or any necessarily, but why not? As a gesture.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
- Martin Durkin on the response to The Great Global Warming Swindle in Australia recently. Read the whole thing for a characteristically devastating summary against the dominant meme of our era. Via Greenie Watch.
"Why are the global warmers so zealous? After a year of arguing with people about this, I am convinced that it's because global warming is first and foremost a political theory. It is an expression of a whole middle-class political world view. This view is summed up in the oft-repeated phrase "we consume too much". I have also come to the conclusion that this is code for "they consume too much". People who believe it tend also to think that exotic foreign places are being ruined because vulgar oiks can afford to go there in significant numbers, they hate plastic toys from factories and prefer wooden ones from craftsmen, and so on."
Personally, I am not so sure that the term "Middle Class" has any validity any longer. The time is long past, it seems to me, for a more complex model. Still, Durkin is spot on in many respects- and in the central one where he identifies the armada of common causes which has assembled together to create an invasive ideology.
(btw. Sorry for the gap in posting. A variety of factors may be to blame, not least that nothing actually struck me that I felt the need to say. It is not likely to be a persistent condition.)
Sunday, July 15, 2007
How fundamental is the enviro-scam to the thinking and ascendancy of today's Left?
That's the question I am pondering more and more. The idea of dwindling resources, the need for management, for restraint, for taxes, for censorship of ideas- all the profound needs of the Left can be satisfied by their mantra.
It makes the sell-out of the modern Conservatives look painfully foolish.
The BBC are of course among the main culprits in causing this skewing of data and ideas, and of course the BBC have been the most stable platform for leftwing ideas for decades (they have in fact been a vital long-term incubator of all leftish ideas). Where would the Left be in the UK without the BBC?
EU Ref points out a series of items in today's Telegraph which call into question both the "fact" of MMGW and the BBC's behaviour.
Then there is this latest example. It's also very wintry in Australia- almost as if El Nino were still playing itself out.
The bottom line for the BBC (unchanging, we know):
"Scientists say the unseasonable droughts, heavy rains and frosts are due to climate change."
In fact it seems ever more likely that it was the Sun wot did it, or the lack of it.
See also what Lubos Motl has translated from Vaclav Klaus. Choc full of ideas. Motl is a great Czech, as is Klaus.
Friday, July 13, 2007
"There has been with each passing day an ever-swelling cast of BBC Television staff, and BBC Radio staff, and BBC World Service staff and BBC News 24 staff and no doubt BBC Papua New Guinea Service staff, none of whom attended a moment of the trial but turned out en masse to capture live the march to the scaffold. The trial wasn’t worth sending a solitary Beeb reporter to, but the hoist to the gallows merited dozens of ’em."
Steyn on the circus which assembled at the Conrad Black trial, which ended negatively for Black and his colleagues today.
Of course I am disappointed, and the BBC are trying hard to restrain themselves now that there is a guilty verdict to clap along to. Their summary has already calculated Black's possible jail-time. But not so fast, Beeboids. I realise that winning on a majority of points doesn't help Black directly, though that's what he did. He won nine of thirteen counts in a trial of great ladle-fuls of detail- most of it obfuscatory, it has seemed to me. If one believed in the US justice system at all, one would be inclined to say, as the jury seem to have, that's there's no smoke without fire.
So in a way, given the appeal which has been announced, it's really nine down, four to go for Lord Black. Maybe a narrower range of charges will make the air clearer for his continued defence.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
In the battle against Islamofascism, we don't appear to have had a lot of success. Most people would say it's got worse rather than better. Such is the nature of the rising tide.
If we were though to follow the central understandings offered by our more responsible commentators, we'd be getting things more or less right from here on.
Hassan Butt may be a former Jihadi, but he provides one fundamental when he identifies "the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.". The question is, do we know what that really means? (by the way, I don't mean to say that I actually trust this guy Butt- but the point is a sensible one).
Mark Steyn, meanwhile, identifies another core point: "Liberty is a 24/7 condition, not merely a trip to the voting booth every few years."
So, do we understand the attraction of the theo-Islamic-ideology, and do we know what it means to be at liberty?
Friday, July 06, 2007
Fascinating short interview with Robert Spencer- in my opinion the best person and most reliable expert for analysis of Islamofascism- on the London-Glasgow attempts and the "educated jihad". I wholly agree, and have always thought the same. A follow up to the post below. HERE.
(btw, I may be out of range of a computer for the next couple of days; the countryside beckons this weekend.)
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
"When I think of the long and arduous work that goes into preparation for a medical career, of the investment that is made by some institution or institutions in their training, for nobody pays the full cost of medical training, and then to be willing to blow themselves and possibly hundreds of others up, I am utterly horrified. We are confronted by a nihilism so total that it is unreachable and unredeemable."(an email commenter to Pamela of Atlas Shrugs' blog, part of an interesting post here).
Now, don't get me wrong, I can follow that thought and it's got some sense to it- but another occurs to me. What does it say about our jihadi enemies if they can take half a dozen doctors and direct them into blowing themselves up in non-medical spaces? Why didn't they wreak carnage through the obvious means of their medical facilities? If Dr Harold Shipman could, for pleasure apparently, carry off tens, what could deeply motivated doctors of death do? If you ask me, Shipman was the nadir of deepest nihilism. By contrast these guys wanted to raise a spectacle, and carried their motivating focus throughout the madness of their acts. That they ignored the special status of their careers in society was their idea of transcendent values, rather than a rejection of values per se.
Oh, and that they were inept (if they were inept, rather than simply unlucky) just goes to show that intelligent people may be quite impractical when outside their specialisms.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
This ruling class...
On Sunday afternoon I watched the Marr interview the Brown, and I must say the time went as quickly as might a Sunday afternoon nap. Marr of the Beeb conducted one of his usual chummy interviews, a mellow and replete after-dinner-style (it was probably actually for a morning show) chat which enabled Gordon to pose as a calm sober influence guiding anti-terror activities and steering the good ship Britannia through her squalls/storms. A manse-like calm prevailed.
Although I fully believe that the terrorism attempted over the last few days has been real- as it was on other occasions- it is immensely easy on Brown that he has this fluffed attack in which to wallow, aided and abetted by his sympathetic media friends.
Melanie Phillips has a series of points which Marr might have raised, but didn't. One day this ruling class might come to very much regret the chummy games they have played with their hegemony, rather than making serious preparations for the challenges we face.
Phillips does though praise Gordon for his initial appointments- Sir Alan West from the Navy and Sir John Stevens. Yet I would have a question of her: is it enough to appoint better leadership at home, when the indications from the same batch of appointments are that Brown is about to back away from the "taking it to them" strategy that Blair was able to hold? Even finding the best deckchair on the Titanic and putting the best lifeguard in it wouldn't stop anyone from drowning.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The End is Nigh.
Mark Steyn gets busy on the summing up of the defence and the "rebuttal" by the prosecution as the Black trial comes to its close- the "rebuttal" being one of the (many) novelties of the US legal system which I wasn't familiar with. Actually, it's been quite an eye-opener, and made me quite fascinated by the relative high level of the UK legal system which I know rather better. Having absorbed quite thoroughly the Steyn line, I'm rooting for Black and co, as if I was ever doing anything else. Either Steyn's a genius propagandist though, or the Govt. case and the Government prosecution service is deeply unattractive.
Posted by ed thomas at 7:00 PM
Monday, June 25, 2007
"The politician is an acrobat. He keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does." (Barres)
Mark Steyn says
"It seems Her Majesty's Government in London was taken entirely by surprise by the scenes of burning Union Jacks on the evening news. Can that really be true?"
Well, my answer would be no, it can't be true and it isn't true. Steyn goes on to make hay out of this notion of a government without knowledge of even basic facts about Salman Rushdie. Fair enough, in a way, but Pakistan is now on the British radar in rather a dramatic way.
There is the basic fact that the 7/7 bombers were mainly of Pakistani origin.
There is the fact that most aspiring terrorists in the UK now receive their training and support from Pakistan.
There is the case of Kriss Donald, whose attackers fled to Pakistan and were tracked down with the help of British mulsim MP Mohammed Sarwar, who is now retiring following death threats which are, according to the BBC, unrelated to his retirement. According to the Guardian however,
"The multimillionaire MP used connections in Pakistan to help arrange the extradition of Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq to the UK, where they were jailed for life for their part in the kidnap, torture and murder of the teenager Kriss Donald in 2004. The trio, part of a violent Glasgow gang, fled to Pakistan after the crime but were returned after 18 months of negotiations between the Pakistani and British governments, assisted by Mr Sarwar.
"Life is not the same, to be honest with you, since I brought them back. I was subjected to threats"
Aunty telling fibs again, methinks.
Still, this provides me another opportunity to ask an exit question: just why was the Bob Woolmer case so radically re-evaluated? After all, what could be easier and less controversial than to accuse the Pakistani national cricket team of murder?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
The EU treastitution.
To analyse this sleight of hand by the resurgent Merkel and Sarkozy, and the no-longer-needing-to-tread-with-care Blair, you have to take a step back. Of course it is correct to say that it is practically the same as the EU Constitution which French and Dutch voters rejected. Back in October 2004 Blair said "There will not be a referendum. The reason is that the constitution does not fundamentally change the relationship between the UK and the EU."
Well said, Mr Blair! Bravo!
Now he is saying almost the same thing! Here's principle for you:
"If it's not a constitutional treaty, so that it alters the basic relationship between Europe and the member states, then there isn't the same case for a referendum,"
Phrasing slightly different, meaning the same. Yet in between these two occasions, in the three years that have passed, he has continually reiterated either the commitment to a referendum on the matter on the table then and now, or its obscurity as an issue out of consideration. Three years of rhetoric- denied, as Frank Field affirms in EUbusiness:
"One of the more popular things Tony Blair did was promising a referendum... Going back on that is against all the rhetoric of a government which says it wants to reconnect with a disillusioned if not hostile electorate"
That's it, win popularity where you need to, backtrack when you can, and return to the idea you first thought of because you're too pig-headed to think of anything else. That's Blair, and he'll make a fantabulous EU president no doubt.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Piccie of Britain. Canadian-American conservative Steyn writes:
"the dolly birds staggering around paralytic, the pools of "pavement pizza", the baying yobboes gagging for a shag and hurling bollards through the bus shelters to impress the crumpet - is a natural consequence of what happens when the state relieves the citizen of primal responsibilities."
How much of the first three lines do you imagine the US readership would understand without effort? Classic stuff. Personally, I've always felt that the type of characters outlined above were always subliminally aiming for the Hogarthian effect. I preferred to keep it to cartoons.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Putting lipstick on the pig
The BBC hasn't been too candid in reporting events in Gaza and the West Bank. Surprise!
What they have reported represents a vain attempt to retain the perception that there is a "good" party of Palestinians in whom to place trust, money, and diplomatic hopes. Not that the BBC particularly blames Hamas for anything, but that there are some very prejudiced types in the West who just might, y'know.
Of course Jeremy Bowen is a known quantity on these issues, but since he's the head honcho in the Mid-East coverage, it's sensible to listen to what he's got to say.
Well Jeremy finds that the defeat of Fatah is in fact our fault, for isolating Hamas. I agree that it would have been been better not to isolate Hamas; we should have isolated both Hamas and Fatah.
The truth is, as Bruce Thornton points out, "U.S. tax dollars are sent to Fatah, in the weird belief that it makes sense to help Fatah, who believe Israel should be destroyed in “phases,” prevail over Hamas, who believe Israel should be destroyed right now". Bowen manages to blame the "powers" for Fatah's defeat, when in fact without the support of the "international community", Fatah and Abbas would be in even more of a no-man's land than they are today.
Maybe one day we will find a Palestinian partner-for-peace, but that day will only come when there is a genuine battle for the soul of the Palestinians, not a squabble between aggrandised gangsters and overweening Islamofascists. The subsidies of the "powers" amount to support for a corrupt status quo, invalidating any genuine democrats, who can only emerge when reality bites the Palestinian polity and practical politics prevails over Islamofascistic or mafioso fantasy.
Excellent analysis of the decline and fall of Fatah, and the rise of Hamas, here.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The BBC news report confirming the authorities' conclusion that Bob Woolmer's death was of natural causes, omits a vital and elementary point: how he actually died.
Pretty inept, huh?
Also inept to the point of straining credulity, the police investigation which claimed 100% certainty of foul play, fingerprinted all the players, and now proclaims that the investigation which was apparently 100% barking up the wrong tree was excellent. Apparently they have also been praised by Scotland Yard.
As usual it is left to the Pakistanis ,in the guise of aspiring pol Imran Khan, to assert the cause of Woolmer's death, with an innuendo of his ill-health which rather suggests they were saints to tolerate such an obvious physical and mental basket case for a moment as their national coach.
"Bob Woolmer had diabetes, he had blood pressure, an enlarged heart, he had respiratory problems. On top of it, the depression of losing and then he drank a bottle of champagne. They should have first ruled out natural causes before this whole drama about the murder"
Khan truly is egregious, leaving it to his nation's cricket captain, his beard a little more clipped than I remember during the World Cup, to act all magnanimous:
"Inzamam-ul-Haq says Pakistan should not take legal action over how the team was treated during the Bob Woolmer affair."
"I don't feel court action would be of any use now.", says Inzamam Ul Haq, Pakistan Captain.
Well thanks Inzi. I am frankly amazed that the Woolmer family so meekly accepts the current word of this mazy investigation. I feel deeply sorry for them. It seems to me that what this badly needs is a court case to clear the air- if it's the incompetence and irresponsibility of the police that's under scrutiny, and if heads are on the block, maybe then we'll find out the real reasons for their uneqivocal statements and initial enthusiasm for the murder investigation. After all, it wouldn't have been hard to sustain the scenario of death by natural causes from the beginning and indefinitely, and sane people would have been inclined to were it not for strong counter-arguments. What were they and why are they now irrelevant in the wake of the UK intervention of a few weeks back?