Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

Another Loser Riot.

Sunday, May 10th, 2015


We have been treated to lots of images from Baltimore and Ferguson the past year. Now it is time for the angry left in Britain to riot. I thought it was an American phenomenon with a healthy French contribution but here we are.

A group calling itself The People’s Assembly planned to meet up in Whitehall at 1pm to protest against Thursday’s election result which seen David Cameron returned to office with a clear Commons majority.
The mob chanted ‘get the Tories out’ as large sections of the city were shut down as a result of the demonstration.
Some of the protesters brandished highly offensive home-made banners proclaiming F*** The Cuts’, while others described the Conservative Party as Tory Scum.
Protesters threw bottles, cans and smoke bombs at the police. Scuffles broke out when the demonstrators, blaring hooters, banging pots and chanting obscenities, confronted lines of police outside the gate protecting the Prime Minister’s official residence.

I am enjoying the hysterical reaction to the election by the angry left. They lost ! Get over it.

I do wonder where the money comes from that pays these professional protestors.

The protesters included members of the Socialist Worker Party. Others brandished flags proclaiming membership of hard-left anarchist organisations.
A large police presence met protesters outside Conservative campaign headquarters in Westminster, where David Cameron had issued a rousing speech to party activists little over 24 hours earlier, following the Tories’ success at the ballot box.
And in Cardiff, anti-Conservative protesters made their feelings known at a 200-strong rally at the Aneurin Bevan statue on Queen Street.

I suspect there is an element of the old communist left involved here, as well as in the US protests. Somebody pays these people and I would like to know who.


Take a look at these protesters. Lots of cameras including iPhones. Hoodies and balaclava masks. We’ve seen these in the Baltimore and Seattle riots. Most of these rioters are white but so were many in Baltimore and Ferguson who hid their faces behind masks.

Former pop singer and opera star Charlotte Church was among those taking part.
In London, police said an estimated crowd of 100 people gathered outside Tory HQ before moving on to Downing Street.
On social media, protesters complained they were being ‘kettled’ by the Metropolitan Police.
Amid the crowd there were some sinister looking men in balaclavas covering up their identity as they jostled with police.
The Metropolitan Police said that 17 people were arrested during the ‘unplanned anti-austerity protest’.

That’s not enough arrests. And those arrested should not be promptly released. They should be fined the costs of damage and police overtime.

Is Britain beginning the revolution we need ?

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

A “Seismic Shock is coming to the British political system.

Douglas Carswell, a prominent Conservative MP has announced he is switching to UKIP. a new political party that has been attacked as “racist” and has been attracting a larger constituency from the British traditional voters.

A new political party has appeared in Britain called UK Independent Party. It has been called racist and a number of other things that might sound familiar to Tea Party members here.

For example:

News reports about the rising primary school population in England fail to mention the ‘elephant in the room’, said MEP Paul Nuttall.

“It is accepted that primary schools have increasing numbers of pupils, which causes all manner of problems, but what is frequently not referred to is why we have such a boom in numbers.

“And the answer is unlimited immigration into this country. It hits some areas harder than others but there cannot be many primary schools in the country which have not been affected at all,” said Mr Nuttall, UKIP Education spokesman.

Why is this controversial ? In the 1990s, the Labour Party opened the floodgates of immigration from Pakistan. The Conservatives have mentioned reducing this but have done little about it.

Steven Woolfe, UKIP Migration spokesman, attacks Conservatives for ‘lying to electorate’ on promises to cut migration, adding that ‘it is no wonder their own MPs are losing faith in them and they are haemorrhaging support to UKIP.’

“These shocking figures today show that the Government does not have a handle on immigration. The Conservative Party promised to cut net migration to tens of thousands and yet it has shot up by a staggering 68,000 in just one year. It is quite simple. They lie to the electorate. They lie to try to keep votes. Well they are being found out.

This is one reason why UKIP is hated. For example, of the 1400 young girls made sex slaves by “Asian” men, several were taken from foster parents because they had voted for UKIP.

A couple had their three foster children taken away by a council on the grounds that their membership of the UK Independence Party meant that they supported “racist” policies. The husband and wife, who have been fostering for nearly seven years, said they were made to feel like criminals when a social worker told them that their views on immigration made them unsuitable carers.

Sounds like the Tea Party to me.



Monday, October 7th, 2013


I watched the 1983 movie “Flashdance” tonight. It was the big movie of 1983 and I was in England with my kids that summer. I had six teenagers and my wife Jill with me and we spent two weeks driving around the country in a VW van. We spent the first week in London and I got the kids all 7 day passes on the Underground. We rented two apartments in a building at 202 Kensington Church Street where I had stayed many times before.

202 kensington

The building is in the Notting Hill area which has become very fashionable since I first stayed there. Portobello Road is nearby but is no longer the antique market attraction it was when I first visited in 1977. The Notting Hill Underground station is around the corner and the kids were able to go everywhere in London from that base. We had three boys and three girls so I told the boys they had to stay with the girls but they could otherwise stay out late and go where they wanted to go. The oldest was my son, Mike Jr. who was 18.

One place we went for dinner, another old haunt, was Geale’s Fish Restaurant.


I have been going there when in London since the 1970s and it is always good. The neighborhood is a bit fancier now. Another wonderful restaurant, which is gone now, was a South African place a few blocks away. We found it because of a profile in Gourmet magazine and when I told the owner about it, they gave us free drinks. I can’t remember the name anymore.

The kids all stayed out until 4 AM and we could never get them up in time to do the tourist things. Leicester Square was the big movie center and I suspect they spent most evenings there. We went to nice restaurants and they went to fast food places and everybody was happy.

One night we had tickets for Cats, which was still a big hit then. I had seen it two years before and it had morphed into a children’s event with the cats remaining on stage at intermission so the kids could go up to them.


During the show, one cat, Rum Tum Tugger sat in the lap of one of the girls and we all had a nice time.

Another day was devoted to a side trip to Richmond and Hampton Court palace. The kids all went and we toured this old Tudor palace. Elizabeth of York had rowed across the river to reach the palace and her son, Henry VIII, used the palace which has many paintings of him.


When we were ready to return to London, Gary, Jills’s son who was 15, somehow got lost and he finally came running to the boat with considerable worry on his face.

After a week, we picked up our rental van and set off for the Isle of Wight. I had stayed there before on another trip although the owner ship of the B&B had changed. It was located on the grounds of Osborne House, the summer residence of Queen Victoria and her children.


The guest house was called “New Barn House” and it was on the grounds of Osborne House. I can’t fnd it anymore and haven’t been there in years so maybe it is gone. There is a “New Barn Street.” Maybe this is it as I can’t get to a photo. The first time I was there, Osborne House was still one half museum and one half veterans home. The vets stayed in the old servants quarters of Osborne House but their wives could not stay with them and New Barn House was a B&B for the wives. The proprietor was Captain Brooke-Smith a retired naval officer whose son worked at Jeremy Rogers yacht builder in Lymington. When I asked the son for a recommendation on the island, he called his father and verified that they had room for the four of us.

The experience the first time was fun. We were the only Americans and were the object of considerable curiosity in the dining room. All the other tables were taken by individual wives with a few visiting husbands. Before the call (with a bell) to dinner, Captain Brooke-Smith conducted a small cash bar where one could get a glass of sherry for 50 pence.

When we went back in 1983, the house was still there but the proprietors, and the atmosphere, had changed. The wives could apparently stay with their husbands in the rehabilitation facilities in the old servants’ quarters. The new proprietors were a young couple, Toby and Jenny, who had connections to the London art and music scene. The food had improved and the entire scene was very different and much more fun for the kids. In fact, they insisted on staying longer than we had planned. One night, one resident took the girls out on a pub crawl as he checked out the various rock groups entertaining on the island’s club scene. The girls were 14 and 15 so I was a bit concerned but they got back about 4 AM and told us they had seen this new group called Duran Duran.

We finally dragged the kids away from the island but not before we had visited Cowes and saw the Admirals Cup crews, including Ted Turner who gave my wife an appreciative eye.

Our next stop was Broadway in the Cotswalds. Because we had all the kids, we stayed at the Broadway Hotel, which is very nice and one step below the Lygon Arms. The latter is luxury and too expensive for the crew we had. The Broadway Hotel is very nice and we were there again a few years ago with Claire and her husband, Derek.


The hotel had one large room in back, almost like a bunkhouse, and the kids stayed there.

Broadway was the home of J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, the play and novel. It is a delightful village, heavily over run by tourists in summer. Claire and her husband Derek met Kate and me for New Years at Heathrow airport when they were spending a year in Spain. We spent New Years Eve at the Broadway Hotel and had a great time.

Our next stage was to return home so we checked into a cheap hotel near Heathrow and planned to drop off the van at the airport in the morning. The next day we were driving to the airport when I saw a sign “Stoke Poges.” That, of course, is the village whose church yard was immortalized in Grey’s Elegy. We turned off and stopped at the church, St Giles.

All the kids, except Kate who refused to get out of the car, trooped into the church where there were copies of the famous poem.



There is an old photo which better shows the churchyard.

So, I will end this small reminiscence with the poem. It is alleged that General Wolfe, as he was rowed to shore for the invasion, recited the poem and said, “I would rather have written this than take Quebec.

Immigration and the Gang of Eight.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The Senate has served up another in Harry Reid’s menu of bills with no hearings and no amendments except those he approves. This is not how the Senate is supposed to work and is a large part of the reason that Congress has produced such bad legislation since 2008. Now, we have another massive bill which is being presented with minimal hearings and debate.

The “Gang of Eight” has written this bill and it is supposed to be fast tracked with no argument. Marco Rubio has been pressing for approval and now Paul Ryan is aboard.

In an interview last week with the Catholic television network EWTN, Ryan recalled his history at Kemp’s side and how they worked together to fight Proposition 187, a California ballot initiative that prevented non-citizens from using the state’s social services.

One reason why immigration worked in this country for 150 years was the fact that immigrants were here to work and support themselves. There was no welfare for them. Prop 187 in California was passed with 60% of the vote and even had majorities on heavily Hispanic districts. It was ruled “unconstitutional” by the California Supreme Copurt and the decline of the “Golden State” had followed. His reasoning at the time ?

“I actually campaigned with Jack Kemp against a thing called Prop 187,” Ryan told host Raymond Arroyo. He said they both worried that the proposal would burn Republicans within the immigrant community, and “make it so that Latino voters would not hear the other messages of empowerment.”


Margaret Thatcher

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013


It is a bit presumptive for me to mention my opinion of this great lady. I have been to England many times, some of those visits were during her time as Prime Minister, though I never saw her. She was brought into government in the traditional “woman’s post” as Secretary of State for Education by Ted Heath. I have always been a fan of Heath because of his great sailing achievements but he was not a very good Prime Minister.

In 1975, she went to Heath and told him she planned to stand for the leadership post against him. He told her “You’ll lose of course,” but she didn’t. He was hostile to her for the rest of his career in Parliament. In 1979, the Conservative Party won the election over a failed Labour Party which had presided over a decline in Britain unchanged for the better in 25 years. That was “The Winter of Discontent.”

Her early life included living as a child above her father’s grocery store. She attended Oxford on scholarship and graduated in 1947 with second honours in Chemistry. Her senior work was on x-ray crystallography, under the supervision of Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin. She worked as a research chemist and became involved in Conservative politics. At one meeting, she met Denis Thatcher whom she married in 1951. Soon after, she began studies in law and she qualified in 1953, specializing in taxation.

She stood for office twice in 1950 and 51 but was defeated as the seat was a safe Labour seat. However, she attracted a lot of interest because of her sex and her losing margin was smaller than previous candidates.

In 1959, she was elected for Finchley, a safe Conservative seat with many Jewish residents. She became active in pro-Israel organizations although she condemned (as everyone did) the Israeli bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reaction in 1981. Many of the condemning politicians were secretly pleased at the action.

In 1961, Harold MacMillen’s government moved her to the front bench. She continued to rise in the party even after the loss of the 1964 election. She voted to decriminalize homosexuality and to legalize abortion, both libertarian rather than Conservative positions. In 1967, she visited the US with a delegation of government leaders from the UK and she was later added to the shadow cabinet by Ted Heath when the Conservatives were still in opposition. In 1970, Heath and the Conservatives won the election and she became Secretary of State for Education and Science.

During her first months in office she attracted public attention as a result of the administration’s attempts to cut spending. She gave priority to academic needs in schools[45] and imposed public expenditure cuts on the state education system, resulting in the abolition of free milk for schoolchildren aged seven to eleven.[46] She held that few children would suffer if schools were charged for milk, but she agreed to provide younger children with a third of a pint daily, for nutritional purposes.[46] Her decision provoked a storm of protest from the Labour party and the press,[47] leading to the moniker “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”.[46][48] Cabinet papers of the time reveal that Thatcher actually opposed the policy but was forced into it by the Treasury.[49] Thatcher wrote in her autobiography: “I learned a valuable lesson [from the experience]. I had incurred the maximum of political odium for the minimum of political benefit.”

She would later be forced out as PM in a similar controversy over attempts to change local taxation rules. In 1975, she defeated Heath as party leader after he lost the 1974 general election. After Labour postponed the general election to 1979, the Conservatives won a 44 seat majority in Parliament and Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister in British history.

I remember my first visit to London in 1977 and being vaguely embarrassed by the election of Jimmy Carter. I returned in 1981 and, at the time, the dollar and the pound were almost equal in value. That was the height of the Reagan-Volker squeeze of inflation in the US. Not long after, Thatcher instituted similar policies and I regretted not buying pound futures. The pound rebounded nicely and she cut taxes and began to run surpluses. Over the next few years, she paid down the British national debt until there were fears expressed that the “Gilt” bonds issued by the government might no longer be available for investment. The subsequent Labour governments solved that potential problem with wild spending.

Like Reagan, her initial economic actions led to recession and calls for a “U-turn” in 1980. She gave a memorable speech in which she said, “You turn if you want to; the lady’s not for turning.” Soon after the economy began to recover.

By 1987, unemployment was falling, the economy was stable and strong, and inflation was low. Opinion polls showed a comfortable Conservative lead, and local council election results had also been successful, prompting Thatcher to call a general election for 11 June that year, despite the deadline for an election still being 12 months away. The election saw Thatcher re-elected for a third successive term.

Her accomplishments included the Falklands War in 1982 that did a lot to reverse the British malaise and unhappiness with her reforms. The economy plus the evidence or revived British confidence was enough to determine the result of the 1983 election. Now, she began to accelerate the privatisation of nationlised industries. She sold off British Steel, and British Airways. She did not want to privatise British Rail but that was later done by John Major and was not a success.

Her downfall with Conservatives resulted from an attempt to reform local government.

Thatcher reformed local government taxes by replacing domestic rates—a tax based on the nominal rental value of a home—with the Community Charge (or poll tax) in which the same amount was charged to each adult resident.[97] The new tax was introduced in Scotland in 1989 and in England and Wales the following year,[98] and proved to be among the most unpopular policies of her premiership.[97] Public disquiet culminated in a 70,000 to 200,000-strong [99] demonstration in London on 31 March 1990; the demonstration around Trafalgar Square deteriorated into the Poll Tax Riots, leaving 113 people injured and 340 under arrest.[100] The Community Charge was abolished by her successor, John Major.[100]

This was an attempt to reform the radical left wing governance of London by Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone, a far left Labour politician. In 2000 he was expelled from the Labour Party. His Greater London Council had been funding far left causes with increased property taxes on houses owned by opponents of his policies. In 1986, she abolished the GLC but Red Ken was subsequently elected Mayor.

After her resignation, she traveled the world until ill health and the death of her husband Denis in 2003 reduced her activities. She was heavily criticized at the time for her opposition to the Euro and European monetary union. Her recommendations were prescient and are now fully confirmed.

The Vague President

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

I’ve tried to leave Obama alone for a while, partly because it is so enervating to think about him. Mark Steyn, however, seems to have the best view of him that I’ve seen. I need to read “Dreams From My Father.” My daughter, a surprise Obama supporter, gave me the other book he is alleged to have written but I had no interest in reading a campaign book by a man who had never done anything but run for office.

I did read a couple of books about him during the campaign and so was not surprised by how he has performed in office. I use the term “performed” advisedly.

Mark Steyn:
Anyway, a couple of years back, Michael Ignatieff, a professor at Harvard and previously a BBC late-night intellectual telly host, returned to his native land of Canada in order to become prime minister, and to that end got himself elected as leader of the Liberal party. And, as is the fashion nowadays, he cranked out a quickie tome laying out his political “vision.” Having spent his entire adult life abroad, he was aware that some of the natives were uncertain about his commitment to the land of his birth. So he was careful to issue a sort of pledge of a kind of allegiance, explaining that writing a book about Canada had “deepened my attachment to the place on earth that, if I needed one, I would call home.

Gee, that’s awfully big of you. As John Robson commented in the Ottawa Citizen: “I’m worried that a man so postmodern he doesn’t need a home wants to lead my country. Why? Is it quaint? An interesting sociological experiment?”

I think this is a key insight of Steyn’s. Obama has a vision of what he wants to do but it doesn’t exactly fit reality. Since Harvard professors rarely get to run anything more complicated than a seminar, there has been very little testing of Obama’s ideas. A San Francisco County Supervisor, a year or so ago, suggested that entire US Military be dismantled so the money could be spent on social programs. Now, there is a motion for debate. Mr Sandoval is actually a government official, of San Francisco it is true, but still he does have a hand in running something. That is the sort of thing that probably runs through Obama’s mind although he is just smart enough to know not to mention it.

More Steyn:

Many Americans are beginning to pick up the strange vibe that, for Barack Obama, governing America is “an interesting sociological experiment,” too. He would doubtless agree that the United States is “the place on earth that, if I needed one, I would call home.” But he doesn’t, not really: It is hard to imagine Obama wandering along to watch a Memorial Day or Fourth of July parade until the job required him to. That’s not to say he’s un-American or anti-American, but merely that he’s beyond all that. Way beyond. He’s the first president to give off the pronounced whiff that he’s condescending to the job — that it’s really too small for him and he’s just killing time until something more commensurate with his stature comes along.

He gives the air of a citizen of the world but, when the truth slips out (How do they say that in Austrian ?), he really hasn’t been anywhere except Hawaii and Indonesia. He speaks none of those languages that he scolds Americans for not speaking. It is all a sort of pose.

No doubt my observations about Obama’s remoteness from the rhythms of American life will be seen by his dwindling band of beleaguered cheerleaders as just another racist, right-wing attempt to whip up the backwoods knuckle-dragging swamp-dwellers of America by playing on their fears of “the other” — the sophisticated, worldly cosmopolitan for whom France is more than a reliable punchline. But in fact my complaint is exactly the opposite: Obama’s postmodern detachment is feeble and parochial. It’s true that he hadn’t seen much of America until he ran for president, but he hadn’t seen much of anywhere else, either. Like most multiculturalists, he’s passed his entire adulthood in a very narrow unicultural environment where your ideological worldview doesn’t depend on anything so tedious as actually viewing the world.

Here is the key. Obama has adopted the airs of a cosmopolitan without actually, you know, knowing anything or being anywhere.

You don’t need to go anywhere, or do anything: You just need to pick up the general groove, which you can do very easily at almost any college campus.

This Barack Obama did brilliantly. A man who speaks fewer languages than the famously moronic George W. Bush, he has nevertheless grasped the essential lingo of the European transnationalist: Continental leaders strike attitudes rather than effect action — which is frankly beneath them. One thinks of the insistence a few years ago by Louis Michel, then Belgian foreign minister, that the so-called European Rapid Reaction Force “must declare itself operational without such a declaration being based on any true capability.” As even the Washington Post drily remarked, “Apparently in Europe this works.”

Apparently. Thus, Barack Obama: He declared himself operational without such a declaration being based on any true capability. But, if it works for the EU, why not America? Like many of his background here and there, Obama is engaged mostly by abstractions and generalities. Indeed, he is the very model of a modern major generalist. He has grand plans for “the environment” — all of it, wherever it may be.

Steyn is able to capture the essence of Obama here. We are now being taught that it doesn’t matter if we go places no country has ever gone before. We will stimulate the economy by borrowing. This is a bit like paying a bill with a credit card. It doesn’t get us anywhere but maybe it will keep the bill collector away another month. The BP oil spill is another such example. Obama is all about politics and the next election. He rails on and on about “British Petroleum” years after it changed its name and the British people, our most loyal ally, fume about it week after week. Who cares if their pensions, invested in BP shares, are destroyed? Obama needs a scapegoat. Years from now, the litigation will be settled and it will probably be resolved that it was all an accident and BP has no special liability beyond the usual business and civil liability.

However, our relationship with England will be changed forever. Obama has fantasies about mistreatment of his father in Kenya by the British, fantasies that cannot be confirmed, and so he hates the British. And we are along for the ride, whether we like it or not. His lack of economic understanding, typical of the left who had been kept from governing this country until now, will lead to ruin. Thus images can kill.

Victor Davis Hansen has an excellent piece today on the same topic.

Is this our future ?

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Theodore Dalrymple, the non de plume of physician Anthony Daniels, has another piece today on the decline of Britain. I have previously commented on the British teenagers’ loss of history and the loss in the entire society, which has a much longer history to remember. He places much of the blame on the educational system.

Although we spend four times as much on education per head as in 1950, the illiteracy rate has not gone down. I used to try to plumb the depths (or shallows) of youthful British ignorance by asking my patients a few simple questions. Fifty percent responded to the question “What is arithmetic?” by answering “What is arithmetic?” It is not that they were good at doing something that they could not name: When I asked one young man, not mentally deficient, to multiply three by four, he replied “We didn’t get that far.”

That’s not very far. We are not much better.

The political system isn’t doing very well, either.

It is doubtful whether any major country has had a more incompetent leader than Gordon Brown for many years. The product of a pleasure-hating Scottish Presbyterian tradition, he behaves as if taxation were a moral good in itself, regardless of the uses to which it is put; he is widely believed to have taken lessons in how to smile, though he has not been an apt pupil, for he now makes disconcertingly odd grimaces at inappropriate moments. He is the only leader known to me who combines dourness with frivolity.

Early in his disastrous career in government he sold the country’s gold reserves at a derisory price, against all advice, driving the price lower by the manner in which he arranged the sale. A convenience-store owner couldn’t, and almost certainly wouldn’t, have done worse.

This sounds familiar. Barack Obama is weak in economics although he has a high opinion of himself in almost every sphere.

For example, he was famously asked by Charles Gibson in one of the debates his policy on capital gains taxes.

GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.

So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

And again:

GIBSON: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.

OBAMA: Well, that might happen, or it might not.

Yes, stuff happens and there is little reason to expect that Obama knows why.

Then we come to foreign policy. Today the Telegraph, in Britain, published this column on its web site.

Never in the history of the United States has a president worked so actively against the interests of his own people – not even Jimmy Carter.

Obama’s problem is that he does not know who the enemy is. To him, the enemy does not squat in caves in Waziristan, clutching automatic weapons and reciting the more militant verses from the Koran: instead, it sits around at tea parties in Kentucky quoting from the US Constitution. Obama is not at war with terrorists, but with his Republican fellow citizens. He has never abandoned the campaign trail.

I have to agree. His performance at the UN was depressing. I have previously expressed my concerns about this administration and its policy toward Israel.

I would suggest that Obama consider the consequences of convincing Israel that they are alone, or worse, that we sympathize with their enemies. For the consequences, you might read this report by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He expects, writes Martin Walker of United Press International,

some 16 million to 28 million Iranians dead within 21 days, and between 200,000 and 800,000 Israelis dead within the same time frame. The total of deaths beyond 21 days could rise very much higher, depending on civil defense and public health facilities, where Israel has a major advantage.

It is theoretically possible that the Israeli state, economy and organized society might just survive such an almost-mortal blow. Iran would not survive as an organized society. “Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of the term,” Cordesman notes. The difference in the death tolls is largely because Israel is believed to have more nuclear weapons of very much higher yield (some of 1 megaton), and Israel is deploying the Arrow advanced anti-missile system in addition to its Patriot batteries. Fewer Iranian weapons would get through.

The report also points out that Israel, backed into a corner, would most likely strike at its other potential enemies, including hostile Arab states. The fallout would probably mean the end of the Age of Petroleum, since the oil fields in the Middle East would be unusable for decades.

I don’t think Obama is equipped to make these judgements. He is starting down a very dangerous road with no evidence that he understands the risks. Neither did Chamberlain.

In 1939, the appeasers had the excuse that World War I was widely believed to have arisen from hasty mobilization and misunderstanding that more time and patient negotiation might have avoided. We now have the experience of that failure of appeasement, especially when dealing with an opponent who lacks historical balance or who has been mislead to believe that he runs no risk of opposition. The president of Iran has shown lack of historical balance and he represents a regime that has as a spiritual tenet that martyrdom is to be desired. Militant Islam has an unreasoning hatred of Jews dating, I believe, back to a rejection of Mohammed as he was founding Islam as a derivation of Judaism. This has now reached a psychotic stage in which a nation state of 66 million is governed by a small clique who believe that a millennium will come about by civil disaster, such as nuclear war. We have never seen as dangerous a delusion in the minds of leaders so close to the possibility of such weapons.

We see western governments that are so inept that they cannot educate the populace and they cannot understand the basic facts of economics or foreign policy.

UPDATE: This discussion of the coming financial meltdown shows just how difficult this problem is. Do not expect to see any logical discussion of this from the left.

Sarah Palin, libertarian

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

UPDATE: I’m not the only one thinking about this.

I’ve been thinking about the surprise announcement of Sarah Palin yesterday. It has stimulated a huge amount of speculation on both left and right. Both left and right wing blogs have long comment sections on posts about her announcement. Why did she do it ? There are a number of speculations. Certainly, she has been subject to an unbelievable amount of abuse, much of it obscene and/or delusional. Andrew Sullivan, for example, has ended whatever credibility he had remaining on the right by his fascination with the birth of Trig Palin. The David Letterman slur was obscene but that is not the worst of the harassment. She has been deluged with frivolous ethics complaints, none of which has been upheld but she and her husband have $500,000 in legal bills to pay. Even mainstream Democrats have been frothing at the mouth.

Some of the speculation is that the harassment has convinced her to quit politics. I would not blame her if that were true. There is another possibility, however. The other phenomenon of this spring has been the Tea Parties. They have also been an object of derision by the left. The left has called them “teabagging parties,” a reference to homosexual jokes about oral sex. At first, participants used the terms interchangeably being unaware of homosexual jokes. The political left is far more familiar with homosexual terminology, especially when it is scatological.

Though supported by Republican think tanks, it is a grass-roots movement comprised of independents, conservatives, and libertarians, many say. Few attending these events have protested before, says Donalsonville, Ga., organizer Becky Worsham, adding, “A common joke at our first one was, ‘Gosh, I’ve never protested anything in my life, and this feels pretty good.’ ”

The protesters’ concern, she says, is that Washington “will really bring our country down to where we’ll no longer be a superpower.”

The April 15 protests

As many as half a million people attended the April 15 protests, according to the conservative Pajamas TV network. Events ranged from amateurish to professional: One in Atlanta featured massive TV screens and professional bands, while another in Lake City, Wash., drew only two dozen protesters.

The significance of this movement is still not established but it could be important.

Many Republicans, including this one, are tired of the weakness of our candidates who, once elected, choose the same big spending, big government pathway to electoral success. This occurs even at the local level and the Bush Administration did little to rein in the big spending Republican Congress. The result was an inability to distinguish the two parties on the issue of big government and the loss of the majority in 2006. Now, there is a level of despair in Republican circles I haven’t seen before. The closest thing to it is the aftermath of the Nixon resignation.

There are many, many – many – Americans who are no longer impressed with the qualities even the smartest political pundits consider essential in our politicians. We’ve had all the politicians who do everything the way they are supposed to – and their record is inexpressibly unimpressive. Many people have reached the point of saying, Don’t tell me only a politician who follows your set of rules is good for me. The rule-followers are the ones who have given us a national deficit so colossal we almost certainly can’t recover from it without severe economic dislocation – and an anomic, irresponsible, ignorant, and yet irrationally arrogant electoral demographic that voted Barack Obama into office, and threatens to make sure that government of, by, and for the people shall, if they have anything to do with it, perish from the earth, by next Thursday – and covered in a “Townhall” by ABC.

What we are enduring today is the America that the politics-as-usual rule-followers have delivered for us. It is far from unreasonable to recognize that having a comfortably conventional political profile, one that pleases Charles Krauthammer and Rick Brookhiser, is no indicator that a politician will guard constitutionalism, limitations on government, and individual liberty.

I wonder if the next trend is one of libertarian revision, either within the party or as a third party. I also wonder if Sarah Palin sees this, as well. She really governed Alaska as a libertarian, given the level of federal control of the state’s economy. For example, she vetoed a bill that would have banned benefits for gay partners. Although that source grumbles that she was reluctant, that is just left wing politics.

In 1856, the Whig Party, which had been formed to support business interests and the development of new territory (by building roads and canals), collapsed because the members could not resolve the issue of slavery. There were southern slave owning members, as well as northern abolitionist members. The Compromise of 1850 had postponed the issue but by 1856 the party was over. From the shell of the Whigs came the abolitionist Republican Party than won the presidency in 1860. Might we be seeing something like this happening to the Republicans now ?

Dennis Hastert is largely responsible for the failure of George W Bush to veto spending bills as deficits piled up. Hastert convinced him that the key to continued Republican control of Congress was spending and improved relations with lobbyists, the so-called “K Street Project.” Unfortunately for this theory, Democrats are the natural allies of lobbyists and will always outbid Republicans in spending. Hastert’s own seat in Congress was lost to a Democrat in 2008, partly because of local scandals about Hastert’s family connections.

Might there be a libertarian future for the Republican Party ? They have to do better than the British Conservative Party which seems unable to represent traditional values voters in their concerns about the decline in patriotism and family values. Even feminists who might be considered opposed to Sarah’s positions, may rebell at the abuse she has received. We’ll see how that works out.

At the end of the Thatcher years Britain was transformed. Europe’s sickest economy had become its strongest. The recipe had been low taxes. Simple taxes. Effective regulation. Privatisation. Free trade. Reform of the trade union movement. Intolerance of inflation.
They were necessary things to have done and I don’t say that lightly. They saved Britain from terminal economic decline.?? But somehow they didn’t create a nation that was quite at ease with itself. Margaret Thatcher knew that herself and used her memoirs to regret that she hadn’t been able to initiate ‘Social Thatcherism’.

We know how that feels. We still have a greater pool of traditional values in the population than Britain, which has suffered from years of Labour progressive education. Here, education is still local although George Bush and Ted Kennedy tried to make it national. What we have now is the financial quagmire that has engulfed Britain and is engulfing us. What we need is libertarian reform, either within the Republican party or without it. Maybe Sarah Palin sees this, too.

The special relationship

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Last week, British PM Gordon Brown paid a visit to president Obama. There were a number of indignities foisted on the PM, including denying him a joint press conference, leaving the British press excluded from the meeting and, finally, his gift to the PM. I didn’t believe this story when I first heard it, thinking it a joke. Alas, it was true.

President Obama gave Prime Minister Brown a 25-DVD box set of classic American films. Prime Minister Brown obviously sees the gift as something of an indignity. The Daily Mail reports that “No 10 had tried to keep the present a secret, refusing to answer reporters who asked what President Obama had given to mark the reaffirmation of the special relationship.” Compared to the gifts brought for Obama by Brown, the DVDs are an embarrassment. Couldn’t Obama at least have thrown in an an autographed copy of The Audacity of Hope?

Brown, being the leader of a great country and aware of his role, gave Obma several fine gifts with real meaning.

The Prime Minister gave Mr Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet. The unique present delighted Mr Obama because oak from the Gannet’s sister ship, HMS Resolute, was carved to make a desk that has sat in the Oval Office in the White House since 1880.

Mr Brown also handed over a framed commission for HMS Resolute and a first edition of the seven-volume biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.

In addition, Mr Brown and his wife showered gifts on the Obama children giving Sasha and Malia an outfit each from Topshop and six children’s books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America.

An additional insult is the fact that PM Brown is blind in one eye and has diminished vision in the other. The visit was a disaster and followed Obama’s return of a bust of Churchill that had graced the White House for years.

Really showing them that old Chicago class, aren’t we.

Fortunately, we have a highly talented Secretary of State, although her Russian could use some work.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations.

She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said.

Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”

Yes, we have an administration of all the talents.

UPDATE: we have two explanations now. One is that the president is “overwhelmed.” The other is that Britain is not so special.

The Telegraph’s story contains this suggestion that Obama’s slight of the British Prime Minister may have been intentional, at least in part:

The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”

The consequences of a gun ban.

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

This article from the Daily Telegraph describes the process by which the British were stripped of the right to self defense.

Self defence, wrote William Blackstone, the 18th-century jurist, is a “natural right that no government can deprive people of, since no government can protect the individual in his moment of need”.

What changed ?

For almost 500 years, until 1954, England and Wales enjoyed a declining rate of violent crime. In the last years of the 19th century, when there were no restrictions on guns, there was just one handgun homicide a year in a population of 30 million people. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world.

We still remember this reputation of Britain as a peaceable kingdom. The Lord of the Rings trilogy contrasted the peaceful Shire, inhabited by hobbits who were more concerned with warm hobbit holes, good food and smoking tobacco than with politics, with the harsh outside world. The books have been interpreted as allegorical comparison with Nazi Germany. What has happened since Tolkein wrote them ?

The practical removal of the right to self defence began with Britain’s 1920 Firearms Act, the first serious limitation on privately-owned firearms. It was motivated by fear of a Bolshevik-type revolution rather than concerns about householders defending themselves against robbers. Anyone wanting to keep a firearm had to get a certificate from his local police chief certifying that he was a suitable person to own a weapon and had a good reason to have it. The definition of “good reason”, left to the police, was gradually narrowed until, in 1969, the Home Office decided “it should never be necessary for anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person”.

Thus, crime was never the problem that led to the disarming of the population. Once guns were banned, the principle was extended to any potential weapon.

The 1953 Prevention of Crime Act made it illegal to carry in a public place any article “made, adapted or intended” for an offensive purpose “without lawful authority or reasonable excuse”. Any item carried for defence was, by definition, an “offensive” weapon.

Thus, it became illegal to defend yourself. The rule became to wait for the police to defend you. What if they didn’t arrive ?

Rather than permitting people to protect themselves, the authorities’ response to the recent series of brutal attacks on home-owners has been to advise people to get more locks and, in case of a break-in, retreat to a secure room – presumably the bathroom – to call the police. They are not to keep any weapon for protection or approach the intruder. Someone might get hurt. If that someone is the intruder the resident will be sued by the burglar and vigorously prosecuted by the state.

What was the result of this policy ?

At the same time as government demanded sole responsibility for protecting individuals, it adopted a more lenient approach toward offenders. Sentences were sharply reduced, few offenders served more than a third or a half of their term, and fewer offenders were incarcerated. Further, they were to be protected from their victims. Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer jailed for killing one burglar and wounding another, was denied parole because he posed a danger to other burglars.

The “more guns, less crime” argument has been attacked in America as flawed research and the author of several of these studies has been vilified. What about the experience in Britain, far from the National Rifle Association?

This trade-off of rights for security has been disastrous for both. Crime has rocketed. A UN study in 2002 of 18 developed countries placed England and Wales at the top of the Western world’s crime league. Five years after the sweeping 1998 ban on handguns, handgun crime had doubled. As was forecast at the time, the effect of outlawing handguns has been that only outlaws have handguns.

The recent Heller decision has stimulated this debate once again. We will hear more about this issue in the months and years to come. Here is a Glenn Reynolds law review article on the future course of gun law litigation.

UPDATE: The original plaintiff, Heller, had his application denied today. The bureaucrats don’t give up that easily.