Posts Tagged ‘politics’

The Democrats seem to be choosing Islam as their theme.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015


The Meet the Press program on November 22 seemed to set a new theme for the Democrats. First, Hillary this week declared, “Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”

Then, Chuck Todd had a Muslim activist “American international human rights lawyer, Arsalan Iftikhar,” who bemoaned the Republicans “Islamophobia.”

Arsalan has also been an adjunct professor of religious studies at DePaul University and he is also a member of the Asian American Journalists Association –

He seems to be a professional Muslim. A few months ago, they had former basketball player Lew Alcindor, now named “Kareem Abdul Jabbar,” to make the same point about peaceful Muslims.

Abdul-Jabbar told host Chuck Todd that terrorists “do not represent the teachings of Islam” and that this misconception makes it “impossible for real Muslims to be understood.”

He continued by saying that he believes the majority of terrorists are a product of their environment, not their religion:

What is their environment ? What does the Koran say ? Another essay on Islam says something quite different.

The avoidance of analysis of Islam contrasts sharply with the excoriation accorded Christianity, Israel, and Western Civilization. The Catholic Church sex abuse crisis has received saturation coverage. Distinguished history professor Philip Jenkins, in a book published by Oxford University Press, claims that media coverage distorts the crisis and contributes to anti-Catholic bigotry. Israel’s very right to exist is questioned and, in high profile media, at times denied. Western Civilization is depicted as imperialist, racist, and Orientalist. This politically-correct selective outrage that lambastes the Judeo-Christian tradition and Western Civilization while emphasizing positive images of Muslims only serves further to inoculate Islam from critique.


Ben Carson and his stories.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


This past week, the leftist media has gone after Carson like he was threatening the Democrats’ hold on the black vote, which is what I think is happening.

First, Politico accused him of lying about a scholarship to West Point. They have had to retract much of this story and it seems fatally flawed.

Editor’s note: POLITICO stands by its reporting on this story, which has been updated to reflect Ben Carson’s on the record response. The original story and headline said that Carson’s campaign had admitted he “fabricated” a “full scholarship” from West Point, but now Carson denies that his campaign’s statement constituted such an admission, and the story and headline were changed to reflect that. POLITICO’s reporting established that Carson said he received a “full scholarship” from West Point, in writing and in public appearances over the years — but in fact he did not and there is actually no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the taxpayer-funded academy.

This, of course, is nonsense and Politico is taking flak from all over about it. Carson was a high achieving high school member of the Junior ROTC who had sky high SAT scores in 1969 (Not to mention being black). Most reporters have never had the experience of being solicited by universities but I have and I’m sure Carson’s story is true.

According to a tale told in his book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by the offer of a “full scholarship” to the military academy.

West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.

This is irrelevant. Carson was offered an appointment and others have had a similar experience. His JROTC membership makes this especially likely as 1969 was the end of the Viet Nam war and a low point for the US military.

Other controversies have been the obsessive focus of the press for a week.

In his book Gifted Hands, Carson relates that, in his youth, he had a violent temper. He said he once tried to hit his mother over the head with a hammer over a clothes dispute and, that while in the ninth grade, he attempted to stab a friend who had changed the station on the radio; the blade broke in his friend’s belt buckle. After this incident, Carson said that he began reading the Book of Proverbs and applying verses on anger.

Again, there is no evidence that this is untrue and it happened 50 years ago. Carson has given many talks on religion and motivation and his personal story gives this force.

The latest is his story of the pyramids being used by Joseph of the Bible to store grain. This is quoted by many as evidence of mental derangement.

Even if it is true that Obama’s ties to radical left-wingers were more relevant than Carson’s kooky pyramid theory, I want to hear about any strange notions Carson has propounded in his years as a public figure. Does he study the facts of the real world and process them accurately and make appropriate conclusions? If not, I don’t want him making the decisions that will affect us all.


Two Nations…

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

two nations

We have now become two nations, divisible, without liberty and justice for all.

As usual, I read another good Belmont Club post.

I get discouraged about the future when I see the stupidity of the youngest generation in college. The left is worried that Republicans hold most state offices. Why has this happened ?

That dominance — and what it means to the policy and political calculations and prospects for both parties at the national level — is the single most overlooked and underappreciated story line of President Obama’s time in office. Since 2009, Republicans have made massive and unprecedented gains at the state level, gains that played a central role in, among other things, handing control of the U.S. House back to the GOP in the 2010 election.

It’s just inexplicable. Why would the country that elected Barack Obama twice choose Republicans for those offices closest to their own lives ?

While the story at the national level suggests a Republican Party that is growing increasingly white, old and out of step with the country on social issues, the narrative at the local level is very different. Republicans are prospering at the state level in ways that suggest that the party’s messaging is far from broken.


A very interesting explanation of Europe’s suicide.

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa – Bildfunk+++

I am a fan of James C Bennett and his book, “The Anglosphere Challenge.” I have just come across an essay of his from 2003 that seems to have a lot to say about the current crisis in Europe.

His thesis is that this is a suicidal period for Europe that began with The Holocaust.

I have to agree with his premise.

Scholars such as Alan Macfarlane have found that individualistic social patterns (such as a preference for nuclear over extended families) have been very deep-seated in England, going back at least to the 14th century, while the reverse has been true in Continental Europe up to the Industrial Revolution.

This might suggest that both fascism and communism emerged on the European continent as a search for the lost security (at the expense of individual independence) of the extended family under the patriarchal rule of the paterfamilias in the traditional Continental society shattered by the Industrial Revolution.

Another explanation, not mutually exclusive with the above, may lie in seeing the Holocaust not as an isolated instance of social madness, but the latter half of a great historical cycle beginning with the emancipation of Europe’s Jews during the Napoleonic Wars.

I think this is a great insight. I also enjoyed his book, “America 3.0,” more for its history than for its optimistic view of the future.

His points are chiefly about the difference in family structure between England and America with nuclear family structure and the other countries which have an extended family structure that is so common in societies where trust and security is constantly threatened.

I wonder if the trust levels in those European countries from 2008 has changed? I think they have and this is evidence, at least for Germany.

“You’re as big of an asshole as that idiot Ralf Stegner,” a certain Birgit M. recently wrote in a letter to Thomas Kutschaty, justice minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It was a referrence to the deputy party leader of state chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who recently said the organizers of the weekly Pegida marches in Dresden and elsewhere should be investigated by intelligence services. “You should all be put in a sack and have a hammer taken to you,” Birgit M. wrote in her tirade.
Then there was the man who called Dorothea Moesch, a local SPD politician in Dortmund, late in the evening on June 30. “We’re going to get you,” he threatened. “We’re at your door.”

Another local SPD politician in Hesse, district administrator Erich Pipa, has been similarly threatened. “We can have you taken out at any time,” he was informed in a letter.

The SPD, of course, is the Social Democratic Party which supports all the left wing causes including unlimited immigration.

Pipa became the target of hatred because he was recently awarded a Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honor, for his longtime lobbying work on behalf of refugees. Finally, Stahl was the subject of denigration because of his public declaration that he wants refugees to feel welcome in his city.

Why would anyone be upset about that ? This will not end well, at least in continental Europe. Britain ? Who knows ?

Although the Anglosphere began the Industrial Revolution in the 17th century, the period roughly from 1830 through 1930 saw a very rapid expansion of that revolution in Western Europe, and most particularly in German-speaking Europe. This expansion resulted in the emergence of a brilliant and dynamic civilization.

Given the prominence of Jewish Europeans in that civilization, it must be asked whether one of its principal stimuli was not the excitement of mutual discovery, in which newly emancipated Jews brought their analytical skills honed by their tradition of scholarship and debate, while accessing the much wider world of Western science, literature, and scholarship from which they had previously been closed off?

How can we calculate how much more dynamism was added by the everyday interaction of people who had previously been kept in parallel and uncommunicative spheres? The Germanosphere, including not just the Second Reich, but Austria-Hungary, German Switzerland, and the German-speaking communities of Eastern Europe and the Americas, really might better be dubbed the Judaeo-Germanosphere during that period.

This seems to me to be major insight and I compare it with the book by Paul Johnson, “The History of the Jews.”

It is a bit fanciful but I compare this to the famous quote from Robert Heinlein,

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein

How many of the “small minority” is made up of Jews I have no idea but there is an interesting parallel.

Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform. Endless rehashing of elsewhere-discredited Marxism replaced creative political thought. Overt fascism and national chauvinism were banned, but a new Euro-chauvinism took its place, loudly proclaiming the superiority of European ways over crude American ones — a new chauvinism on a wider scale, based like the old national chauvinism primarily on resentment.

It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews. Can this have no effect on politics?

Now, 12 years after this essay was written and after 7 years of the most anti-Semetic US president of modern times, I see that we are joining this moral poverty so typical of Europe. The Germans seem intent on importing a population of Muslims with no history of innovation or cultural development to take the place of the declining and judenrein population of native Germans. I should probably correct my use of the term “anti-Semetic” above as Obama seems very fond of Arabs, who are also “Semites.” The proper term would be “anti-Jewish.”

America 3.0 has a more optimistic outlook than I have. My own review of America 3.0 is less optimistic about the solution which I fear will be bloody and expensive and might end in a new dark age.

The analysis of American history is worth the price of the book and the time to read it. I wish the recommendations for recovery were more likely to be adopted. There are some excellent points about future trends, as in medicine for example. I like some of the suggestions for defense policy. The whole thing is a nice exercise in predicting the future. I just wish it would happen that way. I previously reviewed George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. I think I like this one better and highly recommend it.

As I watch what is happening, both here and in Europe, my fears overwhelm my remaining optimism. I hope I’m wrong.

A Few Timid Questions on “Climate Change.”

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

The discussion on Global Warming, has shifted to “Climate Change” as the warming has slowed or stopped, depending on your politics. Now there are a few rather timid questions being asked about this highly charged topic.

“Doubt has been eliminated,” said Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and UN Special Representative on Climate Change, in a speech in 2007: “It is irresponsible, reckless and deeply immoral to question the seriousness of the situation. The time for diagnosis is over. Now it is time to act.” John Kerry says we have no time for a meeting of the flat-earth society. Barack Obama says that 97 per cent of scientists agree that climate change is “real, man-made and dangerous”.

This is the consensus of politicians. Scientists ? Read the resumes of the people pontificating on Climate Change. How many are real scientists ?

A Member of Parliament with a Physics degree, was ridiculed by the BBC for questioning Climate Change.

Peter Lilley, a long standing member of the energy and climate select committee, has made a formal complaint to director general Lord Hall after discovering that mandarins had issued an apology following claims he made that the effects of climate change were being exaggerated.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s ‘What’s the Point of The Met Office’, Mr Lilley stated that, while he “accepted the thesis that more CO2 in the atmosphere will marginally warm up the earth”, he questioned the assertion that global warming would be as dramatic as is being portrayed in some scientific circles.

Mr Lilley, who graduated with a degree in natural sciences at Cambridge University, said: “I’m a ‘lukewarmist’, one who thinks that there won’t be much warming as a result of it, and that’s the scientifically proven bit of the theory. Anything going on the alarmist scale is pure speculation.”

Sounds mild to me.

Mr Lilley was horrified to discover that the BBC later placed “health warnings” on the programme’s website, and issued an apology for “giving voice to climate sceptics” and failing to “make clear that they are a minority, out of step with the scientific consensus.”

The apology was written to listeners who had complained, including academic Dr Andrew Smedley, of Manchester University, and then re-stated on the BBC Rado 4’s programme Feedback.

That sounds like “Trigger Warnings” in American university life. This sort of thing has gotten more common the past 20 years. Why ?


Where are we bound ?

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

I watched the Sunday Talk Shows this morning and nothing was reassuring. Then I read the column from Richard Fernandez.

It makes sense. I have believed for some time that we are headed for a revolution. Maybe not an old fashioned bloody revolution but something is coming.

The anniversary of the U.S. war against the Islamic State passed with little notice. It was August 7 of last year that President Obama authorized the first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, a campaign he expanded a month later to include targets in Syria. So far this month, the president has delivered remarks on the Voting Rights Act, his deal with Iran, the budget, clean energy, and Hurricane Katrina. ISIS? Not a peep.

Obama’s quiet because the war is not going well … One of our most gifted generals predicts the conflict will last “10 to 20 years.” And now comes news that the Pentagon is investigating whether intelligence assessments of ISIS have been manipulated for political reasons.

His column today suggests that the Ship of State is drifting. He quotes Niall Ferguson’s article in the Wall Street Journal.

I have spent much of the past seven years trying to work out what Barack Obama’s strategy for the United States truly is. For much of his presidency, as a distinguished general once remarked to me about the commander in chief’s strategy, “we had to infer it from speeches.”

At first, I assumed that the strategy was simply not to be like his predecessor—an approach that was not altogether unreasonable, given the errors of the Bush administration in Iraq and the resulting public disillusionment. I read Mr. Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech—with its Quran quotes and its promise of “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”—as simply the manifesto of the Anti-Bush.


Obama as the Godfather.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Richard Fernandez has an interesting take on Obama’s present foreign policy iteration. He sees himself as The Godfather negotiating among his capos and arranging the territories that each are allowed to possess.

The White House is also exploring what could be a diplomatic blockbuster: possible new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Such an accord might eventually open a path toward a Pakistani version of the civil nuclear deal that was done with India in 2005….

Pakistan prizes its nuclear program, so negotiations would be slow and difficult, and it’s not clear that Islamabad would be willing to accept the limitations that would be required. But the issue is being discussed quietly in the run-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington Oct. 22. Any progress would break a stalemate that has existed since the U.S. detected Pakistan’s nuclear program in the mid-1980s, and especially after Pakistan exploded its first weapon in 1998.

This is behind our negotiations with the Taliban, which seems just as intent on upsetting Obama’s applecart as they ever were. No matter. Obama will keep negotiating. As Woody Allan once said of stockbrokers, “They invest your money and keep investing it until it is all gone.”

David Ignatius seems to approve of this approach.

The U.S. recognized more than four years ago that the best way out of the Afghanistan conflict would be a diplomatic settlement that involved the Taliban and its sometime sponsors in Pakistan. State Department officials have been conducting secret peace talks, on and off, since 2011. That effort hasn’t borne fruit yet, as the Taliban’s recent offensive in Kunduz shows.

But the pace of negotiations has quickened this year, thanks to an unlikely U.S. diplomatic partnership with China. A senior administration official said Monday that “we’re hopeful that there will be a willingness on the part of the Taliban to resume negotiations,” despite the intense fighting in Kunduz and elsewhere. Beijing’s involvement is a “new dynamic” and shows an instance where “U.S. interests overlap with those of China.”

Yes, China will pull our chestnuts out of this particular fire. We can trust the Chinese. After all, we trusted them with the OPM database management.

It’s not just that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) failed to certify nearly a quarter of its IT systems as secure.

The real news is that outsourcing government IT tasks led to Chinese contract workers, and at least one person working in China, having root access to OPM systems.

Having root access, of course, means having access to any data you want in the system – regardless of any security application that may protect the data against “unauthorized” users.

Yes, we can trust the Chinese.

Meanwhile, Obama was lecturing Putin on his responsibilities.

Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident, that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future. …

And that’s why Russia’s violation of international law, its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, must be met with condemnation, not because we’re trying to keep Russia down, but because the principles that have meant so much to Europe and the world must be lifted up….

Understand as well this is not another Cold War that we’re entering into. After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology. … I believe that for both Ukraine and Russia, a stable peace will come through de-escalation, a direct dialogue between Russia and the government of Ukraine and the international community, monitors who can ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, a process of constitutional reform within Ukraine and free and fair elections this spring.

Yes, this is no Cold War. “The 1980s are now asking for their foreign policy back.”

Yes, very insightful. This is what passes for foreign policy in Obama’s last term.

David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended “the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize.”

But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as “mumbo-jumbo,” “half-baked ideas,” “as-if” solutions, a willful effort to “downplay the challenges involved in the situation.” He says the critics have no answers to the questions of “what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it.”

America’s greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.

The “smartest man in the room” is in charge. What could go wrong ?

The Washington Free Beacon thinks it is no coincidence that “Obama’s top advisers on ISIS, Russia, and Cyber-Security have all resigned over the past two weeks”.

Last week, President Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan announced that he was leaving at the end of the year. Far less attention has been paid to the string of other high-profile resignations that have rocked the administration since September 22, when Bloomberg reported that John Allen, the retired general Obama hand-picked to lead the U.S. war effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, was stepping down.

One week later, on September 29, POLITICO reported that Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official responsible for overseeing U.S. relations with Russia and Ukraine, was leaving her post after five years. According to the site, the administration is expected to “have a hard time finding a replacement,” as Farkas’s resignation comes at a time of considerable division within the Obama administration over how to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

The resignation of Ari Schwartz, the administration’s top adviser on cyber-security, was barely acknowledged. Schwartz stepped down on October 1, having served in the position since March of last year. His tenure coincided with a series of damaging cyber attacks believed to have been carried out by the Russian and Chinese governments, including the large-scale theft of sensitive employee information from the Office of Personnel Management.

He had yet to learn that the men who could rearrange the world over snifters of brandy could also beat each other to death with baseball bats. It will be interesting to learn from future histories (if any are written) exactly when Putin and other American enemies first realized that he was faking it. But when the moment of discovery came, Obama soon realized that running with wolves came at the price of terrible danger.

He doesn’t know it and probably never will.

Is Obama our punishment ?

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Obama was an unusual candidate for president in 2008. I had serious questions in 2008.

One criticism of Obama is that his portfolio is mighty thin. He has no record. Well, he actually does and and here it is. Pretty interesting.

It’s a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what’s interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.

Why was that ? In 2002, the Democrats took over the Illinois legislature, not because of Bush as the reporter says, but because the Republican governor got caught selling drivers’ licenses to truckers with bad driving records. A disastrous truck accident splashed the whole story across the newspapers and the Democrats took over in the next election.

The white, race-baiting, hard-right Republican Illinois Senate Majority Leader James “Pate” Philip was replaced by Emil Jones Jr., a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor.

Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s ­kingmaker.

Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”

“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

“Barack Obama.”

Obama ended up in the US Senate because the GOP Senator, Peter Fitzgerald, did not run for re-election. Why ?

While State Senator he was a member of a group of conservative state senators elected in 1992 who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois Republican Party and were dubbed the “Fab Five”, the group also included, Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O’Malley and Chris Lauzen.

After a hard-fought primary victory against Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, in which the latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, and served for one term in the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican in Illinois to win a U.S. Senate race in 20 years, and the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election cycle. Although Moseley Braun was dogged by negative publicity of corruption charges, Fitzgerald defeated her by only 2.9%.

Fitzgerald is a staunch conservative on such issues as opposition to abortion (except to save the life of the mother), gun control, gay marriage and taxes, but on some issues, particularly environmental issues — he opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout his tenure in the US Senate — he broke with conservative colleagues. He was one of only a handful of GOP Senators to support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.

He was a “maverick” and was not supported by “the Illinois Combine,” a term coined by columnist John Kass to describe the bipartisan corruption in Illinois politics that has brought the state to bankruptcy.

I called former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican maverick from Illinois who tried to fight political corruption and paid for it. For this sin, he was driven out of Illinois politics by political bosses, by their spinners and media mouthpieces, who ridiculed him mercilessly.

Senator, what do you call that connection that Stuart Levine describes from the witness stand, you know that arrangement across party lines, with politically powerful men leveraging government to make money — what do you call it?

“What do you call that Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, they simply want to make money off the taxpayers?” Fitzgerald said. “You know what to call them.”


“The Illinois Combine,” Fitzgerald said. “The bipartisan Illinois political combine. And all these guys being mentioned, they’re part of it.”


Where we are going and how we got here.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I have posted a number of previous opinions on how and why we invaded Iraq. The most recent is here.

There are other explanations that cover this question.

From late 1998 onwards, the sole inhibition on Saddam’s WMD programme was the sanctions regime. Iraq was forbidden to use the revenue from its oil except for certain specified non-military purposes. The sanctions regime, however, was also subject to illegal trading and abuse. Because of concerns about its inadequacy – and the impact on the Iraqi people – we made several attempts to refine it, culminating in a new UN resolution in May of this year. But it was only partially effective. Around $3bn of money is illegally taken by Saddam every year now, double the figure for 2000. Self-evidently there is no proper accounting for this money.

Because of concerns that a containment policy based on sanctions alone could not sufficiently inhibit Saddam’s weapons programme, negotiations continued after 1998 to gain re-admission for the UN inspectors. In 1999 a new UN resolution demanding their re-entry was passed and ignored. Further negotiations continued. Finally, after several months of discussion with Saddam’s regime this year, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, concluded that Saddam was not serious about re-admitting the inspectors and ended the negotiations. That was in July.

All of this is established fact. I set out the history in some detail because occasionally debate on this issue seems to treat it almost as if it had suddenly arisen, coming out of nowhere on a whim, in the last few months of 2002. It is an 11 year history: a history of UN will flouted, lies told by Saddam about existence of his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes, obstruction, defiance and denial. There is one common consistent theme, however: the total determination of Saddam to maintain the programme; to risk war, international ostracism, sanctions, the isolation of the Iraqi economy, in order to keep it. At any time, he could have let the inspectors back in and put the world to proof. At any time he could have co-operated with the UN. Ten days ago he made the offer unconditionally, under threat of war. He could have done it at any time in the last eleven years. But he didn’t. Why?

This is from Tony Blair’s speech to Parliament.

There are too many people who don’t remember what happened. This really goes back to the end of the Ottoman Empire.


Is this 1789 ?

Sunday, August 30th, 2015


In 1789, the French Revolution began. How ?

On May 5, 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General. Almost immediately, it became apparent that this archaic arrangement—the group had last been assembled in 1614—would not sit well with its present members. Although Louis XVI granted the Third Estate greater numerical representation, the Parlement of Paris stepped in and invoked an old rule mandating that each estate receive one vote, regardless of size. As a result, though the Third Estate was vastly larger than the clergy and nobility, each estate had the same representation—one vote. Inevitably, the Third Estate’s vote was overridden by the combined votes of the clergy and nobility.

The essay of Angelo Codevilla in American Spectator in 2014 described a similar phenomenon in 21st century America. American citizens begged for control of illegal immigration and crony capitalism.

As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.

Today, we have a situation in which the Muslim world of the middle east is being overrun by a radical faction of Muslims who call themselves ISIS.

Richard Fernandez, whose writing I read every day, has another good discussion of what is happening and likely to happen in the future.

The anniversary of the U.S. war against the Islamic State passed with little notice. It was August 7 of last year that President Obama authorized the first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, a campaign he expanded a month later to include targets in Syria. So far this month, the president has delivered remarks on the Voting Rights Act, his deal with Iran, the budget, clean energy, and Hurricane Katrina. ISIS? Not a peep.