Monday, December 31, 2007

Least Worst Blogging Of The Year 2007- Part One.

A round up of what I consider my best posts of 2007, if you come back this time next year it will save actually reading the blog for the rest of the year:

  • Big Brother Gate. Effigy of Jade Goody gets burnt.
  • Robert Fisk confesses to bed wetting.
  • The Irish moan a lot.
  • I predicted the success of the Surge.
  • Rape conviction rates, one of my favourite posts as I explain statistically why the low conviction rates don't mean what the government assume they mean.
  • Liberal slavery, Johann Hari calls for the reintroduction of slavery.
  • Nutters & Liars, two posts about a strange group of Srebrenica deniers.
  • Enlightened Liberals In Action, left wing academic bloggers debate whether it is okay to respond to disagreements with asian women by racially abusing them.
  • Why the Olympics would be an economic disaster even if they met the budget limits.
  • The problem of 'Human Rights' as trump cards.

What A Difference A Year Makes.

David Cameron has just declared that the Conservatives are a libertarian party. This is the same party that was proposing Fat Credits back in January.

Link via Here.

More Petraeus.

On the subject of General Petraeus and the Surge strategy, the General has suffered a lot of criticism by political partisans whose interest in undermining their political opponents outweighs their interest in the truth. Even now this tendency is still pronounced with lots of sneering about how it is all propaganda. So a lot of people are choosing to disbelieve the reports of the Surge's success, to which I would say, fair enough don't believe them, have a look at the recent statement by Osama Bin Laden instead:
Our duty is to foil these dangerous schemes, which try to prevent the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq. The most evil of the traitors are those who trade away their religion for the sake of their mortal life,
Does this desperation sound like the words of a leader of an organisation that is winning?

Man Of The Year.

The Sunday Telegraph is right to crown General David Petraeus as its Person of the Year. His job is far from complete but his accomplishment in turning around a conflict that looked as though it could result in a jihadist victory is immense. At the beginning of the year the vast majority of media and political commentators were dismissive of the Surge strategy but it was a rational response to the problems that had developed. Oliver Kamm recounts General Petraeus's achievements more eloquently than I could before finishing with a bizarre statement at the end:
Had Tony Blair and General Petraeus been, respectively, the leading political and military figures in the Coalition's Iraq campaign from the outset, much more might have been achieved.
Other than a vague misplaced hero worship of Tony Blair why would anyone assume that he would have enabled a better outcome to the Iraq invasion than what actually happened? Did Blair criticise the lack of manpower when he was Prime Minister? In fact the area that he was responsible for, Basra, saw a strategy of appeasing the local militias which now looks to have been seriously misjudged. Now if Robert Gates had been the leading political figure then things might really have improved.


I see that I have made 360 posts on this blog so far this year, well 361 by the time anyone reads this, I feel an almost neurotic compulsion to bang out 4 more posts today in order to achieve a nice round average of 1 post per day.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mixed Messages.

Won't government educationalists make up their minds? Yesterday it was reported that:

Schools have been told to encourage boys to play netball and take dance lessons in the name of equality.

Thousands of schools are being forced to ensure that pupils are more "gender balanced" as part of discrimination legislation introduced this year.

They must also ensure more girls study traditionally masculine subjects such as science, while increasing numbers of boys take options such as drama or dance.

But today I read that:

Young boys should be encouraged to play with toy guns and other weapons at nursery to get them interested in education, according to government advice.

The guidance urges nursery staff to resist their "natural instinct" to stop boys playing with weapons in games with other toddlers.

But teachers condemned the advice and warned that toy guns "symbolise aggression"
The policy might be a bait and switch technique to trick young boys into thinking that school will be fun when they're very young and then once their guard is down stick them in a tutu and force them to prance around.

The dangers of encouraging boys to take up dancing lessons are all too well demonstrated by this story from the China Daily:
Belly dancing has become a new fashion among boys in the southwestern China's metropolis of Chongqing, as a means of body maintenance, especially when developing a flat stomach.
The accompanying photographs make it pretty clear what sort of 'boys' are taking it up:

It looks like a training camp for China's next generation of children's television presenters!

Dynasties & Feminism.

Rona Huq looks at the electoral success of female politicians in the sub-continent and asks why asian women aren't as successful in politics in Britain. The'Asian' part of the equation is pretty straightforward, it's because er we aren't in Asia. Next week I'll solve the enduring mystery of why Slovakian politics is dominated by Slovakians.

The reason for the success of women in rising to the top in the political systems of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is not because women are held in such high regard compared to over here but because their politics is highly dynastic and being part of a famous family is more important than being male or female, this also applies to South East Asia. A quick look at the Wikipedia entries for the various female members of the front benches of the three main parties reveals that almost none of them can really be said to have inherited their status from their fathers or husbands, although god only knows how Harriet Harman has managed to get promoted. If women rose to the top in the same way that they do in south Asia then we would currently be led by Cherie Blair.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Are Assassinations 'Successful'?

When a political leader is assassinated, such as Benazir Bhutto yesterday, the assassins usually hope to influence the future direction of the society they reside in. There is an argument to say that almost all assassinations fail to achieve the intended result, with the results often being exactly the opposite of what the killers intended. A recent example of that tendency would include the assassination of Pim Fortuyn, after which having demonised him so thoroughly in life by making out that he was some kind of Jorg Haider or Jean Marie Le Pen figure the main Dutch political parties have all adopted significant aspects of his platform. This kind of result is quite common in stable countries where assassins tend to simply make martyrs of the victims whose successors can pursue the same policies with greater vigour as a result of the ensuing public sympathies.

The problem with the Bhutto killing though is that she did not run her party as a constitutional organisation with defined rules of succession, rather it is a dynastic organisation where the power was far too dependent on one person whose death has the potential to create a power struggle that will negate any sympathy votes the party will receive.

Still the list of assassinations that were successful in changing history to the murderers liking is rather short, the assassinations of Admiral Carrero Blanco and Leon Trotsky spring to mind as isolated examples but those are very much the exceptions.

Politics & Threats To Science.

Like most people in this country I regard creationism as an intellectual absurdity, I was going to say I regard creationists as absurd but I realise that otherwise very intelligent people can sincerely believe ridiculous propositions, Isaac Newton and his belief in alchemy springs to mind. As long as they aren't aggressively trying to assert their idiotic beliefs I have no problem with them. Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review has a post up about remarks made about evolution and creationism in politics by Marty Peretz of the New Republic:
He writes at the New Republic: "My minimum condition for and from a plausible president is that he accept that men and women are descended from apes and monkeys. Huckabee surely doesn't. But, then, I'm not sure that George Bush does either." Do scientists accept this either? Back when I was in high school, they taught us that apes, monkeys, and humans shared ancestors in common rather than that the last group evolved from the first two. It seems like an awfully imprecise way for Peretz to state a truth he considers so important.
This encapsulates a lot of the problems I have with those who sneer about the views held by certain people about creationism, usually they are just as ignorant and misguided about the science as the creationists themselves. The likes of Peretz who don't understand evolution but know that they are passionately supportive of it aren't a huge concern in any practical sense, they're just annoying. The real danger to evolutionary science comes not from creationists or the Peretzs of this world but rather from those who claim to believe in evolution but try to silence anyone who proposes that it may apply to humans as much as any other species.

E.O. Wilson's landmark book, Sociobiology, was met with immense hostility by the far left, including by supposed scientists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin. He was variously physically attacked and smeared as a Nazi* by members of the far left under front groups like 'Science for the People' a totalitarian anti-science movement. Wilson's offence was to write a book about the biological origins of behaviour in animals, including humans whereas devout marxists like Lewontin believed that this blasphemes against Das Kapital. Whilst creationists and ID'ers believe errant nonsense they pose no serious threat to the advancement of science, the radical left on the other hand have a consistent track record of trying to derail politically inconvenient science.

* I don't endorse the whole contents of this site, I'm only linking to them because they have reproduced one of Wilson's essays.

An Ominous Precedent.

Al Qeada are claiming responsibility for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, although they would probably do so even if they weren't responsible. Individual murders as opposed to general mass murder are not a hallmark of that organisation , in fact the only previous targeted assassination that they have carried out, as far as I'm aware, was the killing of the anti Taliban military leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. The date of his killing is notable, the ninth of September 2001, as it appears that it was a prelude to the World Trade Center & Pentagon attacks that occurred two days later.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The So Called 'Christmas Father'

Hate preacher Omar Bakri, who is barred from Britain, is calling on Brits to boycott Christmas.

Using the internet to post a rant against the festive season, Bakri claims Christmas should be "completely forbidden".

In another chilling post the radical cleric said Christmas Day would be the perfect day to launch a terror attack on the UK.
He hasn't thought this through, Christmas Day would be a crap day for a terrorist attack, because the streets are empty, everyone is at home and apart from the odd pub there aren't many large public gatherings of people to target. Sheesh for an evil genius, he's pretty dumb.
He said: "To have Christmas tree, visit so-called Christmas Father - that is completely forbidden.
Down with Christmas Father!
"Make sure you do not watch TV.
Don't worry, the controllers of ITV and the BBC channels have already ensured that.
Do not let them hear jingle bells. Do not send your children on Christmas trip."
Despite this all those shopping centre managers who rejected his applications to be Santa in their Christmas grottoes were still guilty of islamophobia.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry F***ing Christmas

Festive Christmas Prisoner Propaganda

One of the myriad of anti-prison groups have generated some coverage with this seasonal PR piece, faithfully reported by the BBC as news:
More children will be separated by prison than divorce this Christmas, the Prison Reform Trust has said.

The organisation is calling on people to think about the distress faced by prisoners and their families.

It says putting criminals in overcrowded prisons and breaking up families does nothing to make the public safer.

First of all it is an obviously bogus claim that prison has a bigger impact than divorce in separating children from their parents. There are millions of divorced parents whereas the prison population is stuck at around 80000, most of whom are not parents anyway. Secondly it is equally untrue to claim that locking up criminals doesn't make the rest of us safer, do these people think that if criminals are jailed then someone else will carry out the crimes that they would have committed in order to keep the numbers up?

Lastly if they think that Christmas will make the public more receptive to pro prisoner propaganda then they are deluded. The worst time of year for this sort of thing is when the inevitable spate of burglars nicking the presents of children arrives.

The Enchanting Robert Mugabe,

In an interview in the Sunday Telegraph, luvvie king Richard Attenborough says:
I wonder, though, whether he still has kind things to say about Robert Mugabe, who visited the set regularly when he was making his film Cry Freedom, about the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. 'I thought Mugabe was the cat's whiskers at the time. We would go to his house and drink tea out of bone china with him and his wife, Sally. They were an enchanting couple. He said that the future of Zimbabwe was in this film, that the whole concept of a dual relationship between black and white was an absolute prerequisite. Then Sally died and I think this drove him insane. I think he went mad, turned into a bastard. A shit. That's my superficial reading of the situation.'
Cry Freedom came out in 1987 so was probably filmed in 1986. This was slap bang in the middle of Robert Mugabe's campaign of mass murder and ethnic cleansing in Matabeleland. Attenborough too busy filming a denunciation of racial oppression to notice that his 'enchanting' host was busy oppressing racial minorities as he filmed.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blog Request.

I did a vanity google search today for 'Unenlightened Commentary' and was surprised to learn that one of the New York Times blogs, 'The Opinionator' linked here two months ago to my very wise words on the James Watson affair. This presumably means that I'm fit to print! Anyway I would like to have found out earlier so I was wondering what is the best gizmo to use to highlight who is linking to this site? I'm particularly interested in something which highlights recent links especially and can be displayed as a side bar.


That's a bloody expensive book. Speaking of book buying I'm thinking that now would be a good time to go down to Waterstones and begin my Christmas shopping, so that my choice of gifts isn't dependent on what I can get in Texaco at 10:00 on Christmas day.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Compassionate Conservative Shows His Compassion.

The always interesting Britain & America blog (note to self update blogroll soon), has a post about US immigration policy with respect to HIV carriers. A Conservative MEP, Charles Tannock, has complained about it thusly:
"If the new proposal becomes law it could mean that people who are HIV-positive are denied the chance to be reunited with family members and partners, or to work or study in America. The measures amount to an entrenchment of discrimination, in particular because they will disproportionately affect thousands of gay and bisexual people. I've raised this issue in a written parliamentary question to the EU Commission and Council because collectively they are likely to have considerable clout with the US authorities on this particular issue. The US is one of the only countries to place travel restrictions on people living with HIV and AIDS. America's policy places it alongside countries such as Saudi Arabia. It's unworthy of a country like America, with which we share common values of liberty and equality."
I don't have any strong views on the issue itself, although it isn't really the place of British politicians to lecture friendly countries on their immigration policies. There is a balance to be struck between liberty and public health and it may be an over reaction to restrict travel or it might not. It certainly seems a little bit pointless though in the context of the USA having few controls on illegal immigration from Latin America but I digress. The comment thread that subsequently unfolds is what interests me. Another MEP, Roger Helmer writes:

We really must get away from this concept of "indirect discrimination". The fact is that action against Aids is a legitimate public health measure. If it happens that a disproportionate number of Aids sufferers are homosexuals, that is no responsibility of the regulators, and no reason to dilute public health initiatives.

You might as well argue that our smoking ban in buildings is "indirect discrimination" against men, since more men than women smoke.

A reasonable point, one which you can either agree or disagree with, but it is well reasoned and cogently expressed. At which point another poster by the name of Justin Hinchcliffe who appears to be the Chairman of the Tottenham Conservative Association jumps in:
Sadly, and once again, Roger Helmer is showing his ignorance, lack of compassion and outright bigotry. He's a disgrace to not just the Conservative Party, but to the human race.
Er, OK. This must be one of those new fangled compassionate conservatives who believe that any disagreement over whether allowing carriers of an infectious disease into one's country is a reasonable risk to take becomes sub human.

The Problem With Libertarians.

I've personally got a lot of sympathy with libertarian objectives for domestic policy- lower taxes, lower spending, fewer regulations and little interference in people's private lives. However there is one problem that I have with them, on foreign policy libertarian purists are often wildly unrealistic. Take the current challenger for the Republican nomination for president Ron Paul whose candidature is a genuine phenomenon, from a recent interview:

Is this case not different? Religious fanatics hate us and want to kill us because of our culture.

I don't think that's true. It is not Muslim fanaticism that is the culprit. The litmus test is whether we are actually occupying a territory. In the case of Saudi Arabia, that was holy land.

US troops have been in Britain for 50 years yet we've managed to restrain ourselves from shooting at them, almost as though there is another factor at work. If anything expansionist philosophies like radical Islamism go harder on societies that are more pacifistic in their responses.

And if in most of Iraq, some religious fanatic comes to power and has money to buy nuclear weapons, we should just leave him alone?

The Soviets had the technology. They were 90 miles off our shore, and they had nuclear weapons there. But we were able to talk to them. We took our missiles out of Turkey. They took the missiles out of Cuba. We should be talking to people like this. It's the lack of diplomacy that is the greatest threat, not the weapons themselves.

Yep let's sit back whilst countries where the national motto is 'death to America, death to the West' acquire nuclear bombs. After all they won't eventually come to us will they? The rest of his foreign policy would leave an open door to any expansionist regime (except Canada) to destabilise the planet.

If North Korea invades South Korea, we should just leave it alone?

Sure, but it's not going to happen. South Korea's about 10 times more powerful than North Korea.

If China invaded Taiwan?

That's a border war, and they should deal with it.

If Canada invades Montana?

I think that might be a little bit different. Montana probably could take care of it, but we'd probably help them out from Washington if that happened.

That's a role for the federal government?

Oh, sure.

Pointless Gimmick Of The Week.

Primary schools in England will receive about £340 extra each next year to support compulsory languages teaching.
What is the point of this? This works out at around ten pounds per school week so it isn't as though they will be able to afford any additional language tuition. It probably works out at less than 10 pence per pupil per week.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Polly Toynbee Says Something Intelligent & Insightful.

I've always detested the way many on the left use the word "Progressive", for exactly the reasons that Polly Toynbee gives:
"but "progressive" fails the political test: if any party can use it, forget it. Would any party call itself regressive?"
It must be the festive spirit taking hold, but that is exactly how I feel about the word too. It is both meaningless and question begging.

Presidental Rankings.

Seeing as everyone likes lists and my previous post was about ranking US presidents here is my highly authoritative ranking of 20th century Presidents. I won't include any explanations just yet (because it is half past two in the morning) although I have thought through all of them and may add brief explanations tomorrow.
First Rate.

Reagan- After a sustained period of poor to middling government he restored intelligent leadership to both foreign and domestic policy. Faced down Soviets whilst reviving the moribund US economy.
Truman- Plunged in the deep end, but was able to make the right decisions in WW2, and later implemented the Truman doctrine to prevent Soviet expansionism in the face of opposition within his own party. Surprisingly unpopular during his time in office.
Eisenhower- Apart from a fondness for coups his foreign policy was strong in facing up to the Soviets and he oversaw a steady boom period. Also pushed through racial desegregation of the army.
Coolidge- Resisted calls to involve the federal government too heavily in the economy and helped restore the dignity of his office.


Bush- Reasonable domestic policy and handled the major crisis of his tenure, the invasion of Kuwait, brilliantly.
Kennedy- Buggered up over Cuba, but passed big tax cuts which helped invigorate the economy.
Clinton- End of Cold War meant that his weakness on foreign policy was only a limited handicap. Domestically he appointed a good treasury secretary, passed NAFTA and let the Republicans reform welfare.
Taft- Meh.
Nixon- Good on foreign policy but way to the left domestically with policies including Affirmative Action, wage & price controls and the extension of big government.
Ford- Amoral foreign policy combined with average domestic policy.


T. Roosevelt- Started unnecessary wars and demonised business. Almost as overrated as the other Roosevelt.
Harding- Not as bad as he is usually considered, the way he dealt with a severe economic downturn puts Franklin Roosevelt to shame.
Wilson- Buggered peace negotiations after WW1 by failing to keep USA involved in world affairs.
Carter - Only reason he is in the poor rather than disastrous category is because he was too useless even to fuck up properly.


Hoover - Raised taxes and reintroduced massive tariffs into the world economy.
Johnson - Failure in Vietnam, and massive expansion of welfare state and crime levels. In fairness he passed the civil rights act but that was more symbolic than effective.
F. Roosevelt- Prolonged the depression and failed to prepare for war.

The Wisdom Of Crowds.

Iain Dale recently had a reader survey where he asked his readers to rate the US Presidents from Roosevelt onwards. For a blog primarily read by self described Conservatives the results are bizarre:
Franklin D Roosevelt +67
Dwight Eisenhower +59
Harry Truman +53
Ronald Reagan +50
John F Kennedy +40
Bill Clinton + 20
George Bush Snr -4
Lyndon Johnson -19
Gerald Ford -20
Jimmy Carter -40
Richard Nixon -42
George W Bush -48
The adulation of Roosevelt by Conservatives is one of the strangest things there is. I suppose a lot of people think of him as a great war leader, but given the USA's strength it is hard to imagine that any plausible alternative president would have lost the war. The only question was how long it would take and it would probably have been quicker if the USA had had a leader who had taken the precaution of building up American military strength prior to the outbreak of the conflict. Roosevelt was first elected to end the great depression yet through his serial bungling he managed to prolong it for almost a decade. He did this whilst engaging in some truly appalling demagoguery and assaults on freedom.

The same people who declare that fascism is dawning in Bush's America when terrorist suspects have their phones tapped are happy to idolise a president whose administration jailed someone (Jacob Maged) for charging 5 cents less to do some dry cleaning than the New Dealers thought was appropriate. The admiration for FDR is reminiscent of the admiration with which many African countries view Big Man leaders today, it doesn't matter how bad they are at the job as long as they stand up to imaginary enemies.

The rest of the list is less noteworthy some of the decisions are still distinctly odd, I mean how does George W Bush rank below Lyndon Johnson, presumably Bush is unpopular principally for Iraq, yet by any reasonable judgment Johnson's handling of Vietnam was an order of magnitude worse than Bush even on the harshest possible judgment of Bush.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quote Of The Day.

Following the Tommy Sheridan's arrest on suspicion of perjury Mr Eugenides recaps the socialist swinger's libel case against the News of the World:
Despite being one of those cases to which one was tempted to apply the famous dictum of Henry Kissinger that it was a pity they couldn't both lose, in the end the newspaper came off second best. Tommy was awarded damages by a jury of dribbling, credulous fuckwits his peers in Edinburgh

Still the case did at least inspire me to write a screenplay based on the trial which I've modeled as a sequel to the Henry Fonda classic 12 Angry Men. Obviously with so many studios bidding over the rights to film my script I can't give the whole thing away for free right now, but don't worry, 12 Angry Men...tal Retards will be hitting a cinema near you soon enough.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Robbing The Poor To Give To The Rich.

In the Absurder Will Hutton writes about banking:
The first task of President Franklin D Roosevelt after his election in 1932 was the recapitalisation of the bankrupt American banks by new public agencies - which his Republican critics decried as socialism. But it pulled the US out of slump. Unless the western interbank markets start functioning again soon, the question will arise as to which governments are going to bail the western banks out of their foolishness.
Given that the Depression lasted for 7 or 8 more years after Roosevelt's banking reforms, and bank collapses* continued unabated in that time why should we look to that era as an inspiration. Also why the likes of Hutton who bleat on about widening inequality and income redistribution incessantly, so keen to transfer money from the general tax paying population to shareholders who have chosen to invest in risky banks? Robbing from the poor to give to the "Not quite as rich as they expected to be" is what Hutton's proposals amount to.

* Interesting fact, whilst hundreds of US banks went bust every year throughout the Depression, no Canadian banks did. This was because US banks were over regulated and artificially prevented from diversifying their risks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stereotypes Debunked.

Apprenticeships courses in areas such as hairdressing are not just for girls, and providers must do more to tackle gender stereotyping, Ofsted has said.

Ofsted are quite right to challenge this insidious stereotype, after all gay men are equally good at it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ed Balls Does It Again!

The OECD education rankings that showed that British children are performing poorly in measures of literacy, science and numeracy were released earlier this month. Oddly enough enough I can't find any reference to the results on the Department for Children, Schools and Families* website. Since the results were released the department has managed to find room for press releases such as:


I realise that parents, children and teachers are all on tenterhooks waiting to hear about Kevin Brennan's Wembley exploits, but you would have thought that the publication of the most widely recognised international education rankings would merit a brief mention.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Iraqi Employees Of The British Army.

Iraqi employees of the British army are being refused entry into the United Kingdom. It isn't as though the government is particularly selective about whom we allow into this country so it seems perverse that just about the only group who are refused entry are people whose lives are in danger because they helped our troops in trying to bring peace to our country. Dan Hardie who has been conducting a campaign to allow them in has quite a bit to say on this decision:
There are a great many methods which our Government, acting in our name, is using to keep out Iraqi ex-employees at risk of being murdered for having trusted this country. Officials have rejected 125 out of 200 applications for help so far, and one of the grounds that they are citing is absenteeism. One of the skivers, an ex-interpreter named Safa, says that he served UK Forces for two and a half years and was unable to come to work when militiamen began observing the British bases, targeting those working for the Army.
Read the whole thing.

Me, Myself & I.

CiF writer Conor Foley discusses yesterdays suicide bombings in Algiers. Actually that isn't quite true, he uses the Algerian massacres to discuss a topic even more dear to his heart, namely himself. I count a whopping 30 "I"s, 3 "me"s, 3 "my"s, 2 "mine"s and 1 "myself". Plus an assortment of "we"s and "us"s.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Polly Quote Of The Day (Sort of)

Ok not actually a Polly quote but a quote from a Polly admirer in her comment section:
Great news! - if the promises are fulfilled - but there's still a fundamental fla. My experience is as a play-worker, and I know children benefit enormously in their early years from well resourced play provision
Play-workers!? Children generally manage to work out how to play on their own.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Some People Should Not Vote.

People voting in local elections could be offered entry to a free lottery under plans to increase turnout
Anyone who onlyagrees to vote in exchange for a lottery ticket is exactly the sort of person whom I don't want to have any say in choosing local government. What next, a free needle exchange at the plling station?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Russian Election Fraud.

It is becoming more and more difficult to pretend* that Vladimir Putin is anything other than a thug and fraudster, despite the fervent efforts of cranks to lionise Dobby as the arch enemy of those dastardly neo cons, noted brain donor Neil Clark is a case in point here. Anyone who doubts that the Russian election was rigged should check out the extraordinary voting patterns discovered over here. Or failing that just look at the 99% Putin's party won in Chechnya.

Why Putin would rig an election that he was likely to win, and do it in such a brazen manner, is something to ponder. If his true vote was likely in the mid 40s even after the crackdown on internal opposition that would have given him a mandate to govern but not to overturn the constitution and remain in power for life. There is little that the West can do about it but we should not be under any illusions that it is not a democratic country, it is not an ally, it is not a friend and there is no reason to treat their leaders with the slightest respect.

* I have to admit I personally thought that Putin was a good leader up until at least 2004, and was far more dismissive of the warning signs than I should have been.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Shami, Shami, Shami.

The Daily Telegraph has been plugging a Q & A with Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and inviting readers to submit queries. So I submitted a question which was one of the ones that she answered which I'll reprint that part below:

Q: Liberty has long opposed the deportation of the likes of Abu Qatada and others with links to very dangerous groups on the grounds that there is a possibility that the poor dear might be tortured in Jordan. Is it the position of Liberty that if someone has entered this country from a another country with a poor human rights record, that they must be immune from deportation no matter how they behave once they are here or how they got here. Do their rights to remain here trump the right of everyone else to be able to get rid of terrorist sympathisers. Posted by Ross on December 4, 2007 3:55 AM

SC: Torture is wrong. This is an absolute principle that distinguishes democrats from both tyrants and terrorists who believe that human life is cheap. The rule against torture cannot just be about what you do with your own hand or it would be permissible to get others to perform your dirty work. If we say that it is fine to deport people to places of torture, why is extraordinary rendition (where people are sent for torture for the purpose of gaining intelligence) wrong? In civilised societies we bring criminals to justice rather than torturing them. If our so-called Middle-Eastern allies in the “War on Terror” clean up their act, there will be no problem with deporting their nationals.

So we only have to wait until Jordan turns into Switzerland before we can rid ourselves of psychopaths from that country. Yes Jordan tortures people and that is a reason for not deporting someone for say insulting their king or campaigning for democracy, however if asylum in the UK doesn't put the beneficiary under any obligation not to whip up violence against us or our allies then it is simply a suicide pact. To put it another way, if someone were being chased down the street by a mob it would be right to let him in your house for protection, however if he then starts setting fire to the curtains and molesting your dog then he has forfeited any right to be protected.

Western 'Radicals' Support Murdering Indians.

One of the most contemptible features of the 'radical' far left is the enthusiasm of its members for sacrificing the lives of people in poor countries in order to indulge their narcissistic preening.
Attempts by India's communist party to rebrand itself has sparked a war of words between leftwing intellectuals in India and those abroad after a violent attempt by the party to seize paddy fields in West Bengal to be turned over to big business.

When armed communist cadres raided the village of Nandigram last month, killing six people and raping several women, thinkers and writers from across India decried the violence as a "bloody capitulation to globalisation and imperialism". Houses were burnt and thousands fled to refugee camps.

But the party has received support from fellow travellers in the west, notably academic Noam Chomsky, historian Howard Zinn and writer Tariq Ali, who put their names to a letter in the Hindu newspaper highlighting the dangers of splitting the left at a time "when a world power has demolished one state (Iraq) and is now threatening another (Iran)".
[my bolding]
These people are complete and utter vermin.
Sumit Sarkar, a leftwing historian, said the western authors had an "ignorance of what is happening in India. They have no idea of the on-the-ground facts."
They don't care about the on-the-ground facts, as far as these sociopaths are concerned the lives of the poor are expendable in the service of their ideology.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sudan Teddy Update.

Gillian Gibbons is back home, sadly Mo-Ted has not been so lucky.

Rebellious Scots To Crush.

Lord Goldsmith has decided that we need to revamp the National Anthem, and not just because it is a dirge:
The National Anthem is insufficiently inclusive and should be rewritten, the lawyer leading Labour's review of Britishness has said.

Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, said there was "some problem" with God Save the Queen.

He suggested the replacement of little-known verses, such as that which calls for "rebellious Scots" to be crushed
There is one problem with that, well actually there are several but just one which I'm going to highlight. Namely that there is despite a widespread myth no verse in the anthem about rebellious Scots and there never has been. Back in the 18th Century when the song was first written various ad hoc versions commemorating recent events were around and briefly in the 1740s of the century one version contained a verse:
Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.
This was never universal and was certainly abandoned by the time the song became recognised as a national anthem. In other words Lord Goldsmith's proposal is to remove a verse that was removed more than two centuries ago. This isn't something a layman could be expected to know but he is chairing a commission on the subject and proposing to change the words without having even looked up what the words actually are.

If the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries have passed Labour by what can we expect next, their energy commission to come up with a radical new idea to harness the power of steam?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chavez Loses.

I'm pleased to see that Hugo Chavez lost the referendum he held yesterday, and it is hilarious to watch pampered Western apologists for third world tyranny try to rationalise this rejection. However the tendency to argue that because Chavez lost and because he has publicly accepted the defeat that it means that maybe he isn't so bad after all is misguided. All it means is that his methods of rigging the vote weren't quite up to the task, there are plenty of historic examples of governments going in for vote rigging only to discover that they have underestimated how much they needed to cheat, the Sandinistas screwed this up too as vividly recounted by P.J. O'Rourke at the time in, I think, "Give War A Chance" (his account of the despondency of all the Sandinista cheerleaders like Jimmy Carter and Bianca Jagger back at the hotel is priceless). To illustrate my point about how Chavez's 'graciousness' confounds his critics I would recommend this news report about another president who lost a referendum on constitutional changes and immediately vowed to respect the result.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dullest CiF Piece Ever?!

Is this the single most boring article ever written?:

Playing complementary roles

It's high time Belgium and the Netherlands put emotions aside and reviewed their differences on the future course of European integration

Belgium and the Netherlands, two founding members of the European Union, are increasingly divided about what that project now means. The EU's reform treaty is now the focus of that dispute, but its roots go deeper. At one point, according to press reports, the row became so serious that the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had to intervene.

Europe cannot afford a dogfight between these two founding member states, so it's high time to put emotions aside and review their differences on the future course of European integration. As a former Dutch state secretary for European affairs and Benelux coordinator, I believe that the Netherlands and Belgium can once again play complementary roles.

And on and on and on.

Morgan The Apostate Mole.

As part of this blog's ongoing effort to expose infidel plots to insult Islam I draw your attention to this story:

A BRITISH children's author who called one of his characters Mohammed the Mole to promote multiculturalism has renamed him Morgan so as not to offend Muslims.

Kes Gray said the case of British teacher Gillian Gibbons, who has been jailed in Sudan for allowing her class of primary school children to name a teddy bear Mohammed, had prompted him to postpone a reprint of his book, Who's Poorly Too, and change the name.

“I had no idea at all of the sensitivities of the name Mohammed until seeing this case in Sudan,” Gray told The Sunday Times.

“As soon as I saw the news I thought, 'Oh gosh, I've got a mole called Mohammed - this is not good'.”

Gray's book, which has sold 40,000 copies in Britain and overseas, also featured the characters Dipak Dalmatian and Pedro Penguin in an effort to be “inclusive”.

If the mole changed his name from Mohammed to Morgan, this indicates that it was a Muslim mole who has since left the faith. It is an apostate mole. Kes Gray is writing stories that encourage children, Muslim children, to believe that apostasy is okay and it is pretty clear who is behind this plot to undermine Islam.

As the Koran says Apostasy is a crime worthy of death, Morgan must be beheaded and Kes Grey sentenced to 1000 lashes.

{ Via Tim Blair }

£830000- The Price Of British Foreign Policy?

The Mail on Sunday has unearthed another Labour donor scandal which appears to once again breach the laws that they themselves passed. An Iranian born French citizen who only acquired British citizenship the day before he donated has apparently given the Labour party £830 000 this year. Two things occur to me, firstly the decision to back the discredited head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair looks like being the only smart decision they've made of late, having someone who so obviously owes them a favour in charge of the force investigating them looks very wise.

Secondly was accepting money from an Iranian born businessman less than a month after the release of the sailors that Iran abducted a wise move. The government's response to the hostage taking was notably feeble and the fact that it occurred at a time when Labour were apparently in discussions with an Iranian born donor looks very suspect.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Good Natured.

There are few things worse than ill natured death threats, so thank god for good natured Sudanese death mobs!

Least Surprising Poll Result Ever.

Is anyone surprised by this?

Plea Bargain Hunt.

I'm not a natural basher of the USA as anyone who reads this blog could tell, however two recent stories that have been in news this week highlight a major flaw with their justice system. The guilty plea of the NatWest three as well as the reappearance of Conrad Black* in the media turn a spotlight on one of the least edifying aspects of the US justice system the use of plea bargaining to ensure convictions.

I've stated before my belief in the innocence of Conrad Black and I have no opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the Nat West 3. However look at the options that were put to the latter group by prosecutors, you can plead guilty to one of the charges and serve three years in prison or you can go to trial on all seven charges and risk almost four decades in prison. In those circumstances I would take the three years regardless of whether I was guilty or not, the risks of not doing so are simply too severe. In Conrad Black's case the prosecutor threw so many charges at Black, because he refused a plea bargain, that some of them were bound to stick.

To claim that the plea of the Nat West 3 vindicates the decision to allow them to be extradited is flawed reasoning, it merely demonstrates that they can calculate odds reasonably well. The end result of plea bargaining is that a lot of innocent people go to jail and a lot of guilty ones get off with a slap on the wrist for very serious crimes. What happens in high profile cases like these must pale in comparison with lower profile victims of this system.

Here is some stuff by those with greater legal expertise than on the dangers of plea bargaining, such as getting people guilty of one crime to admit to different crimes that they did not do or a de facto abolition of the jury system, whether the psychological coercion involved is even legal and most importantly freeing the guilty and convicting the innocent.

* On the subject of Conrad Black the Grauniad asks its readers whether it was right for the Today programme to interview him. The Guardian has given it's pages over to the likes of Gerry Adams, Osama Bin Laden and Fidel Castro to pontificate to their readership, but I guess they have to draw the moral line somewhere.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Polly Quote Of The Day.

Polly Toynbee today illustrates her keen understanding of the democratic system:
Former top brass find the brass neck to stage what is virtually an insurrection from the Lords red benches. A confident government would have slapped the old junta down.
She really does believe that any criticism of New Labour is tantamount to treason.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Taliban Spin Doctors.

There was a report on the television news earlier this afternoon about a US bombing in Afghanistan that had killed 12 construction workers in the North East of the country. There have been numerous reports of US/ Nato bombing killing groups of innocent civilians of late and I had actually planned to write something along the lines of; a reliance of airpower will invariably lead to civilian casualties, whilst there are often a lot of bogus reports of wedding parties being hit genuine mistakes do appear to be occurring quite a lot of late in Afghanistan and there is a danger that they are endangering the mission by building up support for the Taliban etc.

However when went to look up the relevant story online in order to provide a link I read:
Nato says it is confident that reports that it killed a number of civilians in an air strike in Nuristan province on Monday are incorrect.

The provincial governor has said that 12 construction workers died.

But a spokesman for the Nato-led Isaf force says evidence so far "points to a successful strike" against a Taleban leader with no civilian deaths.

The incident has probably already seeped into the public consciousness though as a careless slaughter of the innocent, despite it now looking likely to be another example of the Taliban using the Western Media to spread lies about Nato. This tactic is quite an intelligent one from the point of view of the Taliban it has to be said and it is explained in better detail on the website "Strategy Page":

There are two main obstacles to establishing (or re-establishing) Taliban control of the country. There's the current government, which is basically a coalition of Pushtun and non-Pushtun tribes that disagrees with the few Pushtun tribes that supply most of the Taliban leadership and manpower. This lot can be taken care of by forming an alliance with many of the drug gangs, who will supply money to hire irregular fighters. These guys will be used to terrorize other tribes into going along with the Taliban. This worked fifteen years ago, and should work again. Except for one thing. The foreign troops and their smart bombs.

NATO and U.S. air power have been a disaster for the Taliban. It was a few dozen aircraft, dropping a few hundred smart bombs, that smashed the Taliban fighting force in late 2001. Since then, the Taliban have come up with some ways to limit the smart bomb damage, but have not been able to avoid the constant destruction these weapons deliver.


But the Taliban have a plan for getting rid of the smart bombs, and it depends a lot on foreign journalists. These folks are always looking for an "exciting" story, and nothing is more exciting than "atrocities" committed by NATO or American troops. Defeats by NATO or American troops also plays well with the foreign reporters. So the Taliban endeavor to feed the foreign journalists as many suitable stories as possible. The Taliban understand that the story doesn't have to be true, just plausible. The news cycle is short, and the media proceeds on the assumption that news consumers have no sense of history. If the Taliban can get a story out there, they have succeeded, no matter how much the story is later discredited.
In a free society we cannot silence the media, quite rightly of course. The media ought by now to treat any claim of NATO massacres with the utmost scepticism until independent confirmation is made, but failing that then the press simply cannot be trusted.

Bindelpalooza Part Two: Lunatics Running The Asylum

In her latest missive about rape (again) she urges the government to implement a publicity campaign to inform potential jurors about what rape is. However there is another snippet in the article that might explain why the conviction rate for reported rapes is so low:
I coordinated a scheme in West Yorkshire in conjunction with the CPS, to deliver specialist training to prosecutors in all aspects of sexual assault
I'm not being flippant, but I suspect that a lot of jurors harbour concerns that prosecutors are pursuing cases that should not go to court in order to advance political ideologies. When the CPS are send staff on training courses that are conducted by a cliched man hating feminist whose published work reveals that she more or less believes that any accusation should equal a conviction then that exemplifies those concerns. In fact Bindel has enthusiastically defended obviously malicious false accusers and appears to believe that no amount of evidence can prove that an accusation was false. In fact almost any description by her of a case that has featured in the news will invariably leave out any information that puts it into some kind of context. This isn't so bad for a newspaper columnist but for someone who has advised the CPS it is unacceptable. In a jury system, when the prosecution is suspected of not being interested in justice, the juries will be more reluctant to convict.

Bindelpalooza Part One- Men Off The Streets.

Julie Bindal, author of such classic Comment is Free pieces such as "Why I Hate Men" and "An End To Gender" has been on a role this week treating us to no fewer than two articles on Wednesday plus one at the weekend.

First up is "Fighting Fear", Bindel writes:
One of my friends, who has been involved in the women's liberation movement for as long as I have, sneered at me when I asked her if she was coming on this Saturday's Reclaim the Night march through London. The inference was that she had something better to do. Well there is nothing better I can think of to do on Saturday. If you are planning to watch X Factor instead of marching alongside your sisters, chanting fabulous slogans such as "men off the streets," and "yes means yes, and no means no," consider this....
Well I can think of a few things better to do on a Saturday, gardening, shopping, reading, raping, going out for dinner or watching a film for example.
Despite four decades of campaigning against domestic violence, over 100 women are still killed every year by current and former partners.
In fairness she is the only writer at the Guardian who writes about the murder rate, but 100 murders out of around 22 million adult women ( that's a guesstimate) isn't exactly an epidemic. Obviously any number of murders is too high but this is just scaremongering.
Male violence towards women and children - yes, male - is pandemic. We must force them to change - to stop raping, killing and abusing us.
Oh do I have to?
. When I march on Saturday, I will be doing so for women everywhere...
That's awfully good of her, there hardly seems any point anyone else turning up.
...because sexual violence is the only thing in the world that affects all women
A big claim which she then expands on:
let me ask you (women) something. Can you honestly say, hand on heart, that you have never feared rape? Have you never modified your behaviour, even just a little, for fear of being attacked? Remember that time you took a minicab home, alone and drunk? Did you feel relieved the next day that nothing bad happened to you? Or when you walked through a park late at night alone?
I'm pretty sure that everyone modifies their behaviour slightly to avoid being a victim of crime. I'm not entirely convinced however that the small number of men who do carry out sexual assaults on women are going to be dissuaded by a coven of femiloons denouncing the entire male sex as guilty. Maybe I'm wrong and if only more people had attended last year then the Ipswich murderer would have paused for thought and been shamed into not murdering women by the guilt felt for making women feel unsafe.

It is of course true that men commit the majority of crimes and the vast majority of violent or sexual crimes. However Bindal appears to be have made the logical fallacy (or phallusy) that because most crimes are committed men that this means that most men commit these crimes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Laws Are For The Little People.

August 2007:
Harriet Harman, the Labour Party's chairman, has secretly discussed with senior colleagues ways of stopping Lord Ashcroft from using his private wealth to win more seats for the Tories by using a loophole in the Political Parties , Elections and Referendums Act 2000
November 2007:
Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader and party chairwoman, was clinging to the support of Downing Street last night after it emerged that her deputy leadership campaign took money from a woman who had acted six times as an unlawful conduit for funds secretly given to Labour by a businessman.
So she was plotting to prevent Labour's opponents spending money raised legally at the same time that she was in receipt of money raised illegally. When John Prescott stood down I really didn't think that it was possible to find someone who wouldn't be both more intelligent and less sleazy, to find someone who fails on both counts is almost impressive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Injustice Systems.

Three recent stories all from the Arab world:
  • Saudi Arabia- In a much publicised case a women was subjected to a gang rape. The Saudi sharia courts sentenced her to 90 lashes, when she appealed this sentence the judges increased her sentence to 200 lashes and 6 months in prison.
  • Egypt- A 47 year old Christian woman was sentenced to three years imprisonment for fraud. Her crime was that she filled out forms claiming to be a Christian, but the Egyptian law considers her a Muslim because her father converted to Islam when she was 2 years old before converting back to Christianity when she was 5. She has never practiced Islam.
  • Sudan- A 54 year old British teacher is in prison and could face several months inside for letting the children she teaches name a teddy bear "Muhammed". This is for some unexplained reason blasphemous.
The key function of a legal system is to provide a framework so that the population understands what sort of behaviour is likely to be unlawful and can adjust their actions accordingly. In all of these cases the law is used to punish people for things that no reasonable person could have avoided. Any system of law that is so opaque that it can ensnare those who have never tried to offend makes everybody in that society intensely vulnerable to those who control the judiciary. Sharia law isn't just an equal but different form of jurisprudence, it is a system tailer made for repression.

Holocaust Deniers At The Oxford.Union

I can't get too worked up about the Oxford Union's invitation to Nick Griffin and David Irving. Obviously the Union's stated reason for offering the invitation is rubbish, it isn't about free speech, since no one has a right to speak at any debating society of their choice. They are publicity seeking pillocks, however the loudest opponents of the debate are melodramatic ninnies too, claiming that Oxford students are now scared of being attacked by skinheads because of these invitations.

They are rather selective in their outrage as well, seeing as very few of them protested about the leader of the totalitarian Islamist group Hizb Ut Tahrir speaking at the Oxford Union earlier this year.

If any society which I belonged to invited a liar and fraud like the Hitler enthusiast David Irving to be a guest speaker then I would be inclined to do as some OU members have done and resign, I'm less well informed about Nick Griffin so I don't have a firm view on him. However letting Irving speak is not going to result in a big upturn for the neo nazi movement. Totalitarian movements don't gain support as a result of their well reasoned arguments or the eloquence of their propaganda. It is the element of coercion that make these movements dangerous as the late philosopher Eric Hoffer said sometime in the True Believer:
"Were propaganda by itself one tenth as potent as it is made out to be, the totalitarian regimes of Russia, Germany, Italy, and Spain would have been mild affairs. They would have been blatant and brazen but without the ghastly brutality of secret police, concentration camps, and masss extermination."
This applies equally to the same movements before they took power, where the coercion took the form of Brownshirts and Redshirts acting as quasi-military wings for the various groups. To prevent the rise of fascists, communists or islamists the focus should not be on preventing them from speaking or even on making sure that their arguments are defeated (in practice the likes of Irving or Galloway are often highly eloquent and capable of winning debates even when they are wrong). Instead the role of the state is preventing them from exerting any physical threat.

Australia Liberated!

Christmas has come early for the whining left as Australia's John Howard lost his bid for a fifth term. Howard was a superb Prime Minister who infuriated the sort of Australian who thought that Australian culture was something to be ashamed of, so naturally they are ecstatic even though the bloke who beat him won by positioning himself as John Howard 2 (from what I understand the Australian Labor Party can sometimes outflank the Liberals on the right). The Guardian leader column is naturally thrilled and after some national psychoanalysis of Australians, and their 'ungenerous national character'. Elsewhere in the paper an Australian novelist by the name of Richard Flanagan writes that:
John Howard famously said the times were his, and for more than a decade it seemed they were. Australia experienced the greatest and most sustained boom in its history. Yet at its end Australia's indigenous population was in a ruinous state
As opposed to before when they were doing wonderfully.
its extraordinary environment was threatened on numerous fronts
None of which you seem to want to name.
, and its people were beginning to ask where the wealth had gone: public schools and public health were in crisis, social welfare was straitened, housing was unaffordable for many
Well I'll take you're word for it Richard, but aren't Australia's schools run primarily by the state governments (mostly Labor for the last few years)? So Howard did his job well but his opponents failed in their tasks.
and wages and conditions were being cut under Howard's industrial reforms.
I'm willing to bet that Australian wages are rising steadily, andcutting back regulation will make them grow faster.
Howard had promised that Australia would be relaxed and comfortable under his rule, yet this year Australians had become more fearful and suspicious of each other than ever
No evidence is offered for this assertion. I'm guessing he means that he and fellow members of the chattering classes are sullen and resentful about their fellow citizens for not following the lead of their cultural betters. Whenever a conservative leader is fairly popular the left like to pretend that the nation is in a state of fear.
Yet while he often seemed little interested in Asia, over the past decade Australia became far more closely tied in terms of trade to China, India, Japan and Indonesia, and its destiny ever more deeply enmeshed with the coming Asian century.
The Australian left has an obsession with becoming Asian, something which I suspect derives from their sense of shame at Australia's actual culture essentially being an off shoot of British culture. This supposed interest in Asia amounts to little more than the most idolised Labor leaders sucking up disgustingly to some of the most brutal tyrannies on Earth, as with Paul Keating's sycophancy to the Suharto regime in Indonesia or Gough Whitlam prostrating himself before Mao's China. The rest of Flanagan's article goes on a bit and I can't be bothered to Fisk all of it, but there are several straightforwardly bogus claims throughout as well as yet more allusions to a national mood which is fearful, mean and selfish except when Labor wins when it becomes comfortable and optimistic.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Britain Sued For $1 900 000 000 000.

Oh dear it appears that Britain is being sued. An ethnic Indian lawyer Waytha Moorthy Ponnusamy from Malaysia is claiming that the crown was negligent at the time of Malaysian independence by failing to install safeguards against ethnic discrimination so he wants £1.9 million billion Trillion!

Obviously it is going to get kicked out of court fairly swiftly, but that doesn't matter so much because I doubt that even Mr Ponnusamy actually intends to get any money from this. He is using the court system to widen the general awareness internationally of the racial discrimination against the ethnic Indians and Chinese in Malaysia that is enshrined in various 'affirmative action' programmes that the country has pursued.

I'm not generally in favour of using the legal system to make political statements, but seeing as our judiciary don't seem to feel the same it seems churlish to begrudge this lawyer his fifteen minutes of fame because if his case receives wide publicity it could drill a fairly straightforward concept into the little minds of Britain's bureaucratic elite "You cannot discriminate, in favour of one ethnic group without discriminating against other ethnic groups". It does not matter whether it is called positive discrimination, affirmative action, enhancing diversity or any other euphemism, discriminating on the grounds of race invariably harms people unfairly.

{Via here}

The Real Reason England Lost.

Croatia rose to the occasion in their crucial Euro 2008 defeat of England - after an apparent X-rated gaffe by an English opera singer at Wembley.

Tony Henry belted out a version of the Croat anthem before the 80,000 crowd, but made a blunder at the end.

He should have sung 'Mila kuda si planina' (which roughly means 'You know my dear how we love your mountains').

But he instead sang 'Mila kura si planina' which can be interpreted as 'My dear, my penis is a mountain'.

Now Henry could be one of the few Englishmen at the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland as Croatian fans adopt him as a lucky omen.

They believe his mistake relaxed their chuckling players, who scored an early goal in the 3-2 win that put Croatia top of the group and knocked out England.

Whether it was an honest mistake or whether he was just bragging hasn't been confirmed.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Compare & Contrast.

It's been one year since the murder of Alexander Litvinenko most likely at the behest of the Russian government, Russia refuses to extradite the man suspected of the murder Andrei Lugovoi. One of the few acts of this government which I have welcomed was the refusal to let it lie. Russia has countered that Britain's stance is hypocritical on the grounds that we have refused to extradite Vladimir Putin's political opponents such as Boris Berezovsky, although the situations are quite obviously not comparable. However it is hard to sustain a defence of Britain's demands for suspected murderers to be extradited when our courts are pulling stunts like this:
A Belfast court has turned down an application for the extradition of Roisin McAliskey to Germany.

German authorities wanted her to face trial for the attempted murder of soldiers at a British army barracks in Osnabruck in northern Germany in 1996.

Ms McAliskey was arrested at her home in Coalisland last May and was on bail.

The Recorder of Belfast, Judge Burgess, refused the application on the basis that it "would be oppressive because of the passage of time".

It is hard to believe that the Judge's decision is based on anything more than political expediency seeing as there has never been a statue of limitation on attempted murder. How can Britain credibly demand that Mr Lugovoi be extradited when we refuse when our bent judges shield those suspected of trying to murder British soldiers?

Complaining Civil Servants

Last month I posted this:
I was watching Question Time just now and the topic of Britain's unhygienic hospitals came up. In the middle of the discussion someone in the audience said something like "I work in the NHS and we work very hard and most hospitals are very good", she got a round of applause. What has it come to when the fact that some hospitals don't infect all their patients is worth a round of applause?
Well, watching Question Time again last night there was an almost identical moment when a treasury civil servant complained that most of them do their jobs well, don't lose important discs and it's a hard life being a civil servant etc. So can I just reiterate, not completely screwing up your job is not a reason to be applauded, and if you do screw up the solution is not to give more money (sorry "resources") to the offending department.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Don't Get It.

This data protection scandal has left me confused about even more things than usual. First of all why is it Alastair Darling who is being blamed when the lax security procedures were clearly in place before he took over, shouldn't the blame be laid at the feet of Gordon Brown? Secondly why on earth did the government lie and claim that the disks were sent by a junior official rather than a senior official as appears to be the case? Surely if junior staff members had easy access to the personal details and bank details of 25 million people as a matter of routine then that is even worse than a one off blunder by a senior official.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nonsense Stat Of The Day.

In the light of the England football team's inability to qualify for the European championships a lot of the press will be running stories like this one:

According to one study, by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, based on an examination of the impact of the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2004, the effect of non-qualification could be as much as £1 billion.

The report predicted England's failure to reach Euro 2008 would lead to a dramatic drop in advertising revenue for television companies, along with a sharp fall in income for betting companies and supermarkets.

Around £300 million was spent on advertising during last summer's World Cup in Germany.

Beer sales would also go flat - the last thing the brewing industry needs after it emerged yesterday that their profits had tumbled by 78 per cent between 2004 and 2006.

The CEBR suggested that a successful tournament for England would contribute to a boost of more than £285 million for pubs, clubs and off-licences.

This is utter bollocks because it assumes that people who would have spent next summer going to pubs, having bets* or watching television are going to curl up in a dark room for a month instead. Whilst it is obviously saddening to see the alcohol and gambling industries take such a hit, their potential customers will simply spend the same amount of money on different things, or on the same things but spread throughout the year. Perhaps someone might even spend some of that time and money teaching some English kids to play football, I mean there are quite a lot of Croatians over here now willing to work.

Ian Smith

The death of former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith is marked in todays Telegraph by David Blair, who was their Zimbabwe correspondent until the Mugabe regime expelled him. Blair, unusually for someone with that name, gets it right in my view:

Nothing can convey UDI’s monumental folly. Even in 1965, the reasoning behind Smith’s decision was obviously absurd. First, Smith assumed that white Rhodesians – a dwindling minority of four per cent in 1965 – could monopolise political and economic power into the indefinite future. "I don’t believe in majority rule ever for Rhodesia, not in a thousand years," he famously declared.

If UDI was to survive, Rhodesia needed allies, notably Portugal which then ruled neighbouring Mozambique. The two countries shared an 800-mile frontier which had to be kept secure.

So Smith gambled that Portugal’s African empire would last for another thousand years or so.

South Africa provided Rhodesia with oil and electricity. Smith assumed that Pretoria’s apartheid regime, dominated by Afrikaners with a deep suspicion of British settlers, would support Rhodesia forever.

Lastly, Smith presumed that Rhodesia’s black majority – 96 per cent of the population – would accept their status as second class citizens.

These assumptions were so wildly unrealistic that only a fantasist could have believed them.


Thanks to Smith, white Rhodesia dealt with its most dangerous enemy at the moment when its hand was weakest. The outcome was a transfer of power to independent Zimbabwe in 1980 on terms far worse for the white minority than could have been achieved before UDI.

Far from preserving what Smith called "decent, responsible, Christian standards", UDI was the making of Mugabe.

Without Smith’s folly, Mugabe may never have come to power. It is impossible to avoid the verdict that Smith was the co-author of Zimbabwe’s tragedy.

Although Smith's personal qualities were in many ways admirable this seems an eminently fair summary of what he actually accomplished and is why trying to rehabilitate his reputation on the grounds that Mugabe and Zanu PF are far worse is not credible. As with the Tsars in Russia or the Batista regime in Cuba the fact that the successor regime is an order of magnitude worse does not diminish the old regimes failures but magnifies them.

Milking It.

Everyone, it seems, has already posted about Heather Mills McCartney's latest campaign to persuade everyone to switch from cows' milk to milk from dogs, rats and cats, so I don't have anything to add myself, but it does give me an excuse for posting this clip:

I suppose I might as well link to an old post of mine about Heather Mills and amputee sex as well whilst I'm at it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hot Swedish Model.

When it comes to education the Swedish model* could make a big improvement into the standard of education:
When Daniel Lundquist and his wife Ulrika moved to Ingaro, 30 minutes' drive east of Sweden's capital Stockholm, they immediately started looking for schools for their three young children.

Like many British parents they worried that the local state schools were either too far away or not quite what they wanted.

However, rather than complaining or simply going private, the Lundquists decided on a route currently not available to most British parents - they actually set up a brand new state school themselves with other local parents and helped run it just how they liked.

I'm glad that the Conservative Party are considering this, although it is depressing to see that Cameron is so scared of the Conservatives' being seen as right wing that they feel the need to insert a needlessly meddlesome spanner into the works of their own proposal:

There is one big difference between the Conservative proposal and the Swedish system - profit will not be permitted.

David Cameron does have to appeal to the centre ground so I understand the some of the positioning that he has done, but being outflanked on the right by Swedish socialists is ridiculous.

* As Tim Worstall points out on his blog fairly regularly, commentators like Polly Toynbee who salivate over the Swedish way of doing things generally don't actually know what Sweden does, just that they have high tax levels.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Hollywood Screenwriter's Strike.

It's an ill wind....

Self Esteem As A Substitute For Education.

In response to Tory proposals to test children's reading ability at the age of 6, Chris Davis of the National Primary Headteachers' Association claims:
"One of the worst things you can do with a very young child is give them the impression that they can't do something,"
I'd have thought that not teaching them to read is worse that giving them the impression that they can't read.

As far as I can see there are two possibilities as to why he says this both of which are pretty bad. The first option is that he is acting like a typical union baron who puts the interests of his members ahead of the children that they are responsible for and is cynically invoking the welfare of the children to protect his colleagues from scrutiny.

The other possibility is that he genuinely believes in the cult of self esteem. This basically means that it doesn't matter if school pupils are illiterate and innumerate as long as they feel good about it. As Squander 2 points out this results in the education system churning out legions of ignoramuses who are nevertheless utterly convinced that they are always right.

It isn't even as though there is reams of evidence showing that making children believe that they are good at something makes them so. If anything convincing them that they already understand a subject is likely to breed complacency as a quote I first cited back in May 2006 demonstrates:
an international study of 13 year olds found that Koreans ranked first in mathematics and Americans last. When asked if they thought that they were "good at mathematics," only 32% of Korean youngsters said "yes"- compared to 68% of American 13 year olds.
As I have said before self esteem is not a good thing unless it is deserved.

Quietly Querying Quango Quantity.

On the subject of Quangos, this report from the People, not previously known for it's right leaning political sympathies, is depressing:

Gordon Brown is creating NINE new busybody quangos costing £2.4BILLION.

That pushes the number of bureaucratic organisations interfering in our lives to 528 with a combined bill of £175billion.

The move comes despite Mr Brown vowing in 1995 that a Labour government would ABOLISH most quangos.

They land each taxpayer with a bill of £2,000 a year - even more if NHS trusts and the BBC are included.

The government won't abolish Quangos although they might occasionally try to create the impression of doing so by merging, splitting, renaming and reclassifying existing ones. I would guess that the Taxpayer's Alliance are probably underestimating the true total on account of manyof the Quangos being disguised as Non Departmental Public Bodies or as supposed Charities that just happen to get the bulk of their money from the government.

(Link via Wat Tyler at Burning Our Money, and original report by the Taxpayers Alliance)

Friday, November 16, 2007

You Say Potato, I Say 'How Much Is This Costing Me?'.

I was going to a post about Quangos but got bored. However whilst looking up something about my favourite Quango, The British Potato Council (you could say that I have a chip on my shoulder about them), I came across this story from 2005:

Potato farmers held a noisy protest outside Parliament today to get the term "couch potato" removed from the Oxford English dictionary, claiming it harms the vegetable's image.

A similar rally took place outside the offices of the dictionary's publishers in Oxford, with demonstrators carrying signs that read "couch potato out" and "ban the term couch potato".

The British Potato Council wants the expression stripped from the Oxford English Dictionary and replaced in everyday speech with the term "couch slouch". It says the phrase makes the vegetable seem unhealthy and is bad for its image.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "couch potato" started life as American slang. It means: "A person who spends leisure time passively or idly sitting around, especially watching television or video tapes."

Kathryn Race, head of marketing at the British Potato Council which represents some 4,000 growers and processors, said the group had written to the Oxford English Dictionary stating its objections but had not yet had a response.

So the government sets up a pointless agency to lobby the government to do something that isn't within the power of the government to do. Just remember that the next time a minister starts scaremongering about how cutting taxes will lead to hospitals having to turf out their patients.

UPDATE: In more potato related news, (well I am an unenlightened common 'tater), I've discovered that 2008 is the UN designated "International Year of the Potato". No doubt much to the delight of the Irish.