Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quote Of The Day.

A Japanese minister resigns after referring to one of his country's teaching unions as a 'cancer', (very much like ours then). This is apparently not his only gaffe though:

He was clearly struggling with his brief, which includes the promotion of tourism, when he said that the Japanese generally "do not like or desire foreigners".

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Now That's What I Call "Moral Hazard"!

There has been a lot of talk about how the US bailout of the financial sector might remove the "moral hazard" for mismanaging the institutions in question. Did our system ever have any real moral hazard to begin with though? Compare the West to the East, in this case Vietnam:
There cannot be many places in the world where you can get shot for losing money on a foreign exchange deal, but Vietnam is one of them.

That is the situation potentially facing Nguyen Thi Quynh Van.

Until March this year, she was the deputy head of trade financing at a branch of one of Vietnam's biggest state-owned banks in the port city of Hai Phong.

Now she is under arrest, having been charged with "losing state resources through economic mismanagement" - a crime that carries the death penalty in Vietnam.
If "losing state resources through economic mismanagement" is a capital offence we ought to send Gordon Brown over to Vietnam right away.

ps. In case you are wondering, I don't think they did execute her. I wouldn't make light of it they had killed her. Probably.

The Debate.

I predict that by tomorrow morning hordes of Obama astroturfers will be clogging blog comment boxes repeating the identical talking points which they've been fed by Obama HQ.

Call me Nostradamus.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Batman & Ratboy.

Camila Batmanghelidjh (try saying that quickly), writes in the Indy:
The questions is this: when children do harm, whose crime is it?
Ooh, ooh I know. Ask me! It's the crime of the little Ratboy scrote who commits it Miss.
In court will stand the child who committed the offence, but a more catastrophic injustice remains unredressed. The crime of those who allow childhood in Britain to be so destroyed that vulnerable children are left to simply survive it.
Oh, I'm wrong.

The rest of her article contains one good point surprisingly, criticising the lack of accoutability in the social services. It might contain more than one good point actually it's just that I haven't got a clue what she is wittering on about:
first we have to communicate the importance of human life. It's not a lesson of morality; preciousness of life has to be emotionally experienced and practically realised. In writing off one person, we facilitate violence as a repercussion.
?????? Nope, she's lost me.

Update: There is a way to interpret her words that makes a surprising amount of sense.

Decentalising Britain.

I've written before about how Britain is over centralised and run through quangos. So here are two posts elsewhere in the blogosphere on the democratic deficit in local government in the UK. First James at "What's That Smell" who is a duel US/UK voter compares what positions and propositions he gets to vote on in the UK compared to the USA:
UK: 1 MP, 1 MEP, 1 Local Councillor, 1 County Councillor.

USA: 1 US President, 1 US Senator, 2 State Public Service Commissioners, 1 US Representative, 1 State Senator, 1 State Representative, 1 District Attorney, 1 Probate Court Judge, 1 Superior Court Clerk, 1 Sheriff, 1 Tax Commissioner, 1 Chief Magistrate, 1 County Commission Chairman, 1 County Commissioner, 1 County Board of Education, 2 State Supreme Court Justices, 3 State Court of Appeals Judges, 5 County Superior Court Judges, 4 County State Court Judges, 2 County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor, 3 State Constitutional Amendments, 1 County Sales Tax to fund development.
Now personally I don't agree with electing judges, but is there any reason why we couldn't have locally elected education boards over here?

Elsewhere Tony Sharp takes an anti-Tory blogger, the Tory Troll, to task for criticising Conservative proposals to devolve more power down to a local level. I am overjoyed, because I had assumed that Cameron was just spouting platitudes when it came to devolution of power. Let's face it some of his proposals have in the past suggested an urge to micro manage Britain (see denouncing the sale of Chocolate Oranges at WH Smiths) but if his opponents believe that he is really going to go through with decentralising the country then that is great.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gordon Brown, Special Guest Post.

First of all may I thank Ross for allowing me to use 'Unenlightened Commentary' to spread my message. Frankly it is only here and Gerbil Fanciers Weekly where I am still allowed to publish.:






These are just some of the words my advisers tell me I should use in order to become more popular.

I am going to talk to you about who I am, and what I believe is right for this country. After all I've only been Prime Minister for a year and Chancellor for ten years before that, so clearly the reason everybody despises me is because they haven't seen enough of me.

Britain. Children. Fair.

I was brought up to believe in fairness by a family who had to balance a budget. When I was 21 I took over the budget planning from my parents and when I visit them each year in the Fife debtors prison I tell them that I share their values.

Determined. Britain. Fairness.

Some people have been asking why I haven't served my children up for spreads in the papers

And my answer is simple, they are hideously ugly. Honestly they look like the secret love children of David Mellor and Janet Street Porter. I am ashamed of them.

We now face an unprecedented crisis in the economy, for reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with the man who was Chancellor for a decade. Did I mention that David Cameron was Norman Lamont's advisor?

This is not a time for novices, we need a proven failure in charge!



In 1997 we promised an end to Boom & Bust and we are half way there already.

[ Pause to Pick Nose]

And we want to enable all families to use the Internet to link back to their children's school - and so Jim Knight is announcing that we will fund over a million extra families to get online thus boosting Britain's struggling pornography and gambling industries.


Britain is a society where a man who has struggled for 15 years to get a job won't be fired simply because he is unbelievably crap at his job. That is what fairness means to me. I promise to be less crap in future, please keep me on. Please I am begging you.

United we are a great movement led by hopes not fears, gathered person by person - one individual, one country, one leader! Hail Brown, Hail Brown, Hail Brown!!! Vote Labour for a fuhrer Britain.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Won't You Superstitious God Botherers Support Us?

One of the most solid voting blocks for Labour has historically been Roman Catholics, I can't find the data to hand but trust me it is true. So I wonder if the resignation from the cabinet of the devoutly Catholic Ruth Kelly is part of a growing alienation with the Labour party among that group.

Recent government actions of gay adoption, embryo research and a backbench attempt to loosen Northern Ireland's abortion laws have put catholics in a difficult position. With the leftist urge to find heretics rather than converts this has made Ruth Kelly a minor hate figure with the liberal left.

This antipathy towards Catholics might also explain why the Politics Home survey found that the swing towards the Tories was particularly strong in the North West.

Last week I said that Ruth Kelly was one of the only members of the government who had the ability to succeed in a field other than Labour politics. She had previously worked for the Financial Times and the Bank of England, so is clearly very able. Now she is gone the complete list of full cabinet ministers who have had any kind of career success outside of politics is..... absolutely no one (although the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland is a successful lawyer she isn't an official member of the cabinet).

This backs up my theory that the only reason the cabinet haven't rebelled against Gordon Brown yet is that they know that if they lose their cabinet positions they will never find a job of comparable stature.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eat The Poor.

Gordon Brown has promised to enshrine a commitment to end child poverty in law. This appears to be in order to set a time bomb under the next Tory government who will be no more capable of eliminating relative 'poverty' than Labour has been, and can then be sued by 'poverty' campaigners.

There is only one way to successfully eliminate child poverty and that is the idea first suggested by Jonathan Swift almost three hundred years ago; we use the children of the poor as a food source.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

It's called thinking outside the box, so come on Gordon take this bold step to eliminate child poverty, not only is it right it will probably bring you more popularity than implementing any of Polly Toynbee's or Peter Tatchell's proposals for saving the government.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Police Execution

I was looking something up about the De Menezes killing and inadvertently came across this video of how the Brazilian police operate. It isn't graphic but does show the police casually killing a gang member, even though they know that there are observers right next to them.

What do they do when they aren't being watched?

Verbally Raping A Nutter.

There is a new* femiloon on the prowl at the hallowed pages of Comment is Free, a woman with just one name, Bidisha. She's impressive and if she keeps up this consistency of writing she may surpass Cath Elliott or even Julie Bindel.

She claims to have witnessed four examples of men harassing women in public in the last three days and that this is typical. I haven't seen any examples of this is three months and I frequently follow women surreptitiously, as my many restraining orders demonstrate, so I would have spotted any weirdos out and about. Her claims stretch credibility but can't be disproved. After all if the oppression of Julia Bindel's imaginary friends demonstrates society's misogyny then why should it be different for Bidisha's?

If your going to make up bollocks it is best to present it in the form of personal anecdotes that cannot be verified, so you can make statements like:
This endemic harassment of women is verbal rape.
In the sense that 'verbal' means 'not'. Trivialising rape by redefining it to mean something else is another common theme of people like her. When she does produce facts that can be verified they are obviously untrue:
We live in a country in which domestic violence is the single biggest killer of women
How can anyone not see that this is absurd? Is there some school where you get to learn feminist mathematics, where what matters is not whether the numbers add up but how strongly one believes in them? How does she respond to the critics of her ideas?
Yet any woman who points out that misogyny is the world's driving force is ripped down in a way that is itself transparently misogynistic.
Of course.

* New in the sense that I hadn't spotted her before.

Stasis In The USA ELection.

On the subject of electoral maps, it's interesting to see that according to Real Clear Politics, the state by state political map of the USA hasn't changed in 4 weeks despite considerable poll fluctuations in that time. The electoral college vote would probably have been 273 for Obama to 265 for McCain had an election taken place at any point in the last few weeks. I can't copy the maps onto here unfortunately.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Image Of The Day.

Politics Home published a survey of marginal constituencies, as it featured 34000 people we can assume it is exceptionally reliable survey, opinion polls are usually only conducted with about 1000 respondents. This is what the political map of Great Britain would look like if an election were held tomorrow:

I realise that Conservative constituencies tend to be physically larger than Labour ones but it must be a pretty startling map for Labour supporters.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Harry Potter & The Half Blind Prince.

I don't understand why someone would give Labour money, but I do have a certain respect for J.K. Rowling for coming out as a Labour donor and supporter when the party is at rock bottom. Much more impressive than those who hopped aboard the "Cool Britannia" bandwagon.

Besides which she owes Gordon Brown as she has clearly based one of her creations on him:

The Dementors are soulless creatures[7] considered to be among the foulest beasts on Earth. They are soul-sucking fiends .... Dementors appear to have a generally human shape, approximately ten feet (3.05 meters) in height, but covered in dark, hooded cloaks that reveal only grey, decayed hands. ..... According to the author, they grow like fungi in the darkest, dankest places, creating a dense, chilly fog. .....

Dementors sense and feed on the positive emotions, happiness and good memories of human beings to move around, forcing them to relive their worst memories. The very presence of a Dementor makes the surrounding atmosphere grow cold and dark

The similarity is really uncanny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Banking Answers.

I cannot claim to be an expert on banking but I can say with some confidence that I understand it better than the political and media classes on both sides of the Atlantic. This isn't a boast, it is like claiming to be more attractive than David Mellor, it is an embarrassingly low bar to hurdle.

The fundamental problem is that house prices rose faster than income or productivity for over a decade and this was unsustainable so they were inevitably going to fall. In the case of sub-prime mortgages this meant that the banks had little chance of being paid back on the loans and the collateral of the house itself was suddenly not worth a great deal.

Commercial banks which had a large mortgage of sub prime loans suddenly found it very difficult to raise the money to pay back their depositors' money. The investment banks who bought the debt in the form of some complex financial product then found that much of what they owned was in fact highly illiquid and worth far less than they had believed.

So what should be done:
  • Let banks with risky business practices go bust, they remaining banks can buy up their assets at a more realistic price.
  • Increase the money supply.
  • Include house prices in the inflation calculations, so that when there is a price bubble the banks can raise interest rates to curtail it.
  • Don't pass idiotic laws requiring banks to make sub prime loans.
I'm not claiming that I understand everything about the situation, but surely these measures are self evidently right?

Assorted Credit Crunch Links.

  • How the Democrats forced US Banks to make risky loans, because of a misguided belief that the banks were "Redlining". Redlining was always a myth and in truth the banks weren't refusing to give loans to ethnic minorites they were simply not giving money to people with minimal assets. (First link via Julia)
  • The foolishness of the Obama campaign blaming the crisis on allowing banks to practice both commercial and investment banking. Obama appears to want more banks like Lehman Brothers and fewer like the Bank of America.
  • Obnoxio isn't impressed with the government banning shortselling. Short selling has nothing to do with what is happening now but it sounds complicated so it is politically simple to demonise speculators.
  • Gerard Baker issues a much needed call for restraint when it comes to regulation.
I may add a few more links later on.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Banking Questions.

  • What is actually the problem with letting an investment bank like Lehman Brothers collapse? I can see why commercial banks would cause problems if they went bust because the savers could lose money (although in practice their is deposit insurance), but surely if an investment bank goes under it just means that the assets get sold off to other banks at a more realistic value and the shareholders lose their investment but that's it.
  • Why have Democrat politicians in the USA been blaming the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act for the collapses when as far as I can see this act allows banks to have both commercial and investment functions. The banks that have collapsed weren't taking advantage of this law though and were purely investment banks. In fact it is only because of this act some of them have been rescued by being taken over by commercial banks like Bank of America and Barclays. Spreading the risk by operating in both markets seems sensible.
  • Isn't it sweet how the far left are convinced that this demonstrates that capitalism is doomed, just like they did when a dozen other crises hit the financial sector?
  • Am I being complacent when I assume that this will all blow over with a few collapses then whoever governs Britain or America for the next few years will claim credit for the recovery?
Update: Economists appear to have come to the same view as myself on the error of blaming the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which has if anything helped.

Stealing My Lines

Me yesterday:
Rather incredibly it appears that the political zombie that is Gordon Brown is going to be allowed to roam the Earth for more time.
Nick Clegg today:
Labour is a "zombie government, a cross between Shaun of the Dead and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
Okay seeing as the speech was almost certainly written before I posted my piece it isn't technically stealing, but it's good to know that Nick Clegg does at least share my choice of analogies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why Brown Might Survive Until 2010.

“Given we haven’t got a cabinet stuffed with people who would win political VCs, this strategy is forced upon MPs because the cabinet has so far failed to carry out one of its key roles”

~ Frank Field ( via Conservative Home)

Well no we have not. Rather incredibly it appears that the political zombie that is Gordon Brown is going to be allowed to roam the Earth for more time. Whilst a small number of MPs have publically called for Brown to go most of them seem content to walk over the cliff to electoral oblivion with him.

This cowardice might have something to do with the calibre of Labour MPs, as has often been noted the quality of the Labour benches is low, not just in absolute terms but even compared to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat benches*. Even within the cabinet not many of them were high flyers before the entered Parliament, the only possible exceptions are Baroness Scotland, Ruth Kelly and Ed Balls ( who may have the social skills of Norman Bates but is intelligent). Jack Straw possibly fits the bill too but it is a bit late for him to start a second career.

This means that for most MPs when they lose their seats at the next election that is them finished career wise. They probably won't even become MPs again, as younger non entities take their place. Everyone seemingly agrees that changing a Prime Minister for a second time in one parliament would necessitate a prompt election which even under a new leader Labour will still lose (albeit not as badly).

So the choice for the average Labour MP (and most of them are very average ) is this; should I do what is best for my party and get rid of Gordon Brown and lose the best job I will ever have two months from now? Or do I prolong my stay in Parliament for another two years before having to leave everything behind?

* The Lib Dems are interesting and prove that it is possible for a centre left party to contain talented people, the likes of Vince Cable, David Laws, Susan Kramer or Chris Huhne have been successful outside of politics in a way that few Labour members have, of course the Lib Dems also have a fair number of duds like Lembit Opik.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wife Beating Legalised?

An official legally sanctioned Sharia court has been opened in the UK. In theory letting two parties who agree on the matter settle a civil dispute through sharia is OK. Persoanlly I would rather that it did not happen but people can settle private disputes under any form of arbitration they want to.
However the problem I have with this new court is that it doesn't restrict itself to purely civil matters despite what is claimed. As the Times puts it:

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Domestic violence is not a civil matter, it is a criminal offence. Given that sharia law does not exactly come across as being gender neutral, this has the potential to effectively legalise wife beating. If the court reaches a perverse judgement and does not punish the perpetrator then the victim of the assault cannot do much to challenge it because they have waived their right to be protected by the standard justice system in order to have the case tried by a sharia court.

Whilst there will probably be a method of appealing to a higher secular court this is deeply problematic because taking it further will be discouraged by the 'community'. The Times notes that this is already happening:

in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.

In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.

No doubt New Labour's feminist contingent will be denouncing this development any minute now.

Lib Dems Ditch Euro Fanaticism?

The headline in the Telegraph promises more than is actually being offered, far from reconsidering Britain's relationship with Europe, they are merely acknowledging that joining the Euro is unrealistic in the short term. They still appear to believe that the EU can do no wrong, and I don't see them apologising for breaking their manifesto committment to support a referendum on the EU constitution.

Guilt By Geography.

My pledge not to mention Sarah Palin for a week now stands in tatters with two posts in two days, however I absolutely promise not to mention American politics again for a week after this post.

You see I came across an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that was so insane that I had to quote from it:
Intolerance thrives in Palin's Pacific Northwest

It has been years since groups such as the Montana Militia, the Posse Comitatus and the Sagebrush Rebels, and individuals such as Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski have made us wonder why so many "angry white men" populated our rural regions. Many of us have forgotten the threat once posed by domestic terrorists and instead have turned our attention to foreign terrorists. But we should never forget that in the late 20th century, ultra-Christian, antistatist and white-supremacist groups flourished in the states of the Pacific Northwest - called by many the "Great White Northwest" - the very region that Sarah Palin and her family call home.


There is no evidence that Palin was ever affiliated with white-supremacist groups during her years in Idaho or at home in Alaska. On the other hand, the beliefs of ultraconservative, evangelical churches like her family's come dangerously close to those of the Christian Identity movement of those years. Likewise, Palin's husband was a member of a political party whose members favored secession for Alaska, suggesting an affiliation with radical antistatism.

Perhaps somewhere on the record, Palin has publicly condemned the radical politics of her region. But it is hard to know where she stands on issues of race, equality and diversity. Thus it is high time to review the cultural ideals and models of the radical rurals from the Great White Northwest and find out for sure where Gov. Palin stands.

As one of the commentators on the site says, this isn't even guilt by association, it's guilt by geography. God knows what will happen when they learn that Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Austria.

Now that we're on the subject though, has the Hawaiian born Barack Obama ever publically condemned the killing of Captain Cook? There is no evidence that Obama was ever affiliated with cannibalistic tribes during hir years in Hawaii or at home in Chicago. On the other hand.....blah blah blah.....

OK no more US politics on this site until next Monday at the earliest.

Update: Wow this thread about Catherine McNicol Stock's article is scary, these people really are nuts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Obamas Versus Medical Research.

One of the most frequent criticisms that is made against the Republicans in the USA, including against a certain women whom I promised not to mention for a week or so, is that they are "anti science". This is mostly due to the prominence of creationsim on the American right, which is something I wish was not the case because Creationism is nonsense as is it's fraudulant cousin, Intelligent Design. I have said before holding one irrational belief doesn't make someone an idiot, after all Isaac Newton believed in alchemy, but it is depressing to see politicians I support favour such nonsense.

However a politician's personal beliefs are less important than what they do in office, so a candidate who finds creationism credible but doesn't attempt to promote it as a matter of public policy is not a problem. Unfortunately there is a woman involved in the US presidential race who does have a track record of abusing her position to promote anti scientific scare mongering, that is Michelle Obama. As this New York Times hagiography of her a few months ago reveals:

She also altered the hospital’s research agenda. When the human papillomavirus vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer, became available, researchers proposed approaching local school principals about enlisting black teenage girls as research subjects.

Mrs. Obama stopped that. The prospect of white doctors performing a trial with black teenage girls summoned the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of the mid-20th century, when white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.

In other word the wife of the Obamessiah promoted racial paranoia to sabotage medical research and a worthwhile public health initiative. This might be seen as a one off but when you consider it in the context of the Obama's former pastor telling his flock that HIV was invented by the American government in order to kill black people you have to wonder about what damage the Obamas would do if they were in charge of agencies like the CDC.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Am I Gullible?

I was actually taken in by this for a moment.


Reality series winner to meet Brown

What does the loser get, two meetings with Brown? This is about an upcoming children's political reality television show which aims to find a child aged between 11 and 14 who has the skills of a modern politician. Exactly why the winner meets the dour one I don't know, it's like introducing the winner of the Apprentice to Nick Leeson.

The contenders will be set tasks by a panel that includes Ken Livingstone, Ann Widdecombe and Vince Cable, any suggestions of what the tasks should be can be left in the comments.

Update: I have no idea why the font is crazy and all over the place in this post.

7 Years On.

It hardly seems like 7 years.

Then & Now, PDS Special!

One more Sarah Palin post and after this I promise not to mention her for a week because I realise that the subject must be getting boring. Actually this is more of an Andrew Sullivan post and how even parodies of the Palin smears can't beat the real thing.

Sullivan in May:

Commentary's Abe Greenwald takes Obama to task for refusing coffee and asking for orange juice instead:

The switch from juice to coffee is a rite of adulthood. It’s not that Obama seemed to hold himself above the coffee drinkers. It’s that he seemed to lag behind them. He’s still on fruit juice while the adults are sipping bitter and bracing coffee.

Even his commenters say this is stretching it:

You guys are just running out of things to say.

And heaven help us, there are still 6 months to go before the election. And by the way, I’m older than Barack Obama, and I prefer juice to coffee. You know, some people just don’t like coffee.

Another of Abe's readers:

This is ridiculous. Choosing not to drink coffee doesn’t mean you’re childish. Here’s an alternative explanation: Obama takes care of his health. Coffee is not good for you. Orange juice is. Ergo, no coffee. One could blame Obama’s arugula-chomping and good physical condition on the same tendency. I don’t think Obama’s abstaning from coffee says anything about the man’s childishness–or lack thereof.

Look: if you're a neocon, it beats discussing the war.

Sullivan in September:

"I hate to admit it, but a skinny white chocolate mocha is my staple in the morning," - Sarah Palin, in the WSJ glossy supplement out this weekend.

Now imagine if the Democrats had a vice-presidential candidate with no record of any views on foreign policy and whose favorite morning snack was a white chocolate mocha. Do you think Rush Limbaugh would be calling it a brilliant choice? Her workout pitfall? Drum roll:

"Being pregnant every few years. If I get lazy and go weeks or months without exercising it's not because of circumstances but because I'm being less disciplined. Shame on me."


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear Stupid Redneck,

Jonathan Freedland at the Guardian writes:

If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.

Well I'm not going to sit back and let that happen, it's time to launch a letter writing campaign (I wonder why no one has suggested that before) to let the Americans know what we Britons want them to do. I've already submitted this to the CiF comments (under the psuedonym 'Unencom') so now I'll just send it out to 1000 households in swing states across America and the elecion will be in the bag for sure:

Dear Stoopid Redneck,

I am writing to ask you think carefully about how you cast your vote this time around. I realise that as a stump toothed hillbilly you are easily manipulated into voting against your own interests by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, this isn't your fault.

Now it is time to realise that thinking people of the world, like myself and Jonathan Freedland, have thought very carefully about which candidate would be better for the world. That is Barack Obama, who just in case you are wondering is not the man who flew the planes into the World Trade Center, although let's be honest you had that coming as a result of your country's imperialist foreign policy.

There are things about John McCain and Sarah Palin that you probably haven't heard because you don't listen to anything but hate radio. You assume that because Sarah Palin is from Alaska she must have an enlightened attitude towards fauna (that means animals) like Timothy Treadwell or someone, in fact she hunts bears and SHOOTS them with guns! Under an Obama Presidency you won't have to worry about lunatics being allowed to carry guns.

Did you know that John McCain was imprisoned in Vietnam for six years, yet the Republicans claim to be strong on law and order!

In short if you don't vote for Obama then you will let the World down, you will let America down and above all you will let me down.

Yours smugly,


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Obama Doomed.

Gordon Brown has backed Barack Obama in the race for the US presidency, praising the senator's ideas and family-friendly policies in an article that makes no mention of John McCain.

Come to think of it Brown almost certainly wrote this while Obama had been comfortably ahead for months, so the 'Jonah' Brown effect worked even before the article had been published!

{Via Pete Moore}

Update: Has Brown endorsed the Hadron Collider?! Quick he must denounce it before it goes active tomorrow.

Update 2: The McCain campaign is openly taking the piss out of Gordon Brown no.

I'm Just Too Clever For You Hicks To Understand

In an article about Adlai Stevenson, the man who lost to Dwight Eisenhower in both the 1952 and 1956 US presidential elections, CiF writer Ned Temko says:
One thing, above all, sealed Stevenson's sorry electoral fate. It was the image that he was somehow too smart, too eloquent, out of touch with "ordinary" Americans. In different contests at different times ever since, that same rap has helped defeat a train of other Democratic candidates: Eugene McCarthy's anti-war crusade in 1968, George McGovern in 1972, and most recently John Kerry last time around.
Eisenhower was the general responsible for planning the largest and most complex military operation in history was self evidently extremely intelligent. When Stevenson died only a single book was found in his home, he had no record of spectacular academic achievement and he was prone to believing absurd pseudo scientific theories (that nuclear testing might throw the planet off its axis for example). Stevenson was a well connected socialite with a reasonable degree of charm, who happened to believe all the things that liberals believe are signs of being intelligent. Much the same was true of John Kerry in 2004, he had a worse academic record than Bush yet the media were convinced that he was just too smart to connect with the ordinary voter.

Those on the left have a tendency to believe that their political opponents are either stupid or evil and conversely to anoint mediocrities like Kerry or Stevenson as geniuses. Believing that your opponent is evil acts a justification for some of the most appalling personal attacks on their opponents (or their families) as seen with the hysteria about Sarah Palin over the last fortnight. Believing that your opponents are stupid is even more self destructive, as it leads them to consistently be baffled as to how they've been outwitted by the stupid people again. Thankfully in this electoral cycle Democrats are making both these mistakes again.

See also: Clive Crook and Dominic Lawson, via: David Duff and Poor Bastard Marvin

My Enemy's Enemy

Al Qaeda have been denouncing Iran as yankee imperialist puppets, or some such nonsense. Whilst both Iran and Al Qaeda can broadly be described as Islamists, or Islamic Fundamentalists it would be a mistake to conflate the two or assume that they have common interests. Fanatics hate infidels alright but they really hate heretics, and to Sunni Islamists like Al Qaeda, the Shia Islamists in Tehran are the enemy.

Iran nearly got into a full scale war with Al Qaeda's soulmates, the Taliban, back in the late 1990s after the latter organisation murdered some Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan.

This doesn't mean that there will never be cooperation between the two sets of fanatics, Iran does support the Sunni group Hamas and has been alleged to now be supporting their old adversaries the Taliban in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda on the other hand are too stupid to understand the concept of my enemy's enemy is my friend and prefer to keep blowing up Shia in Iraq rather than allying with them against us. However there is a fundamental tension between the two groups that it may be possible to exploit in the same way that differences between the two communist powers, China and the USSR, were exploited by Nixon back in the 1970s.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Doubles Trouble

Kim Jong Il is dead, perhaps:

Is Kim Jong-il for real? The question has baffled foreign intelligence agencies for years but now a veteran Japanese expert on North Korea says the “dear leader” is actually dead – and his role is played by a double.

The expert says Kim died of diabetes in 2003 and world leaders including Vladimir Putin of Russia and Hu Jintao of China have been negotiating with an impostor.

Interesting if true, although since the Iraq war I'm sceptical about claims of dictators having lots of body doubles. The much rumoured Saddam doubles never showed up, except for one.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Antiwar" Movement Force Cancellation Of Remembrance Day Event

In Australia an upcoming event to commemorate the war dead has had to be cancelled because of threatened violence by supposed peace campaigners:

"FERAL" rioters who wreaked havoc at 2006's G20 meeting have forced a Remembrance Day event to be cancelled.

The three-day defence expo due to start on November 11 has been scrapped amid fears of violence by "low-life anarchists".

Organisers of the Asia-Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition, to be held in Adelaide, took the dramatic step after reports hundreds of protesters from Melbourne and Sydney planned to disrupt it.

In recent weeks, police gave several confidential briefings on the scale of the planned protests and the cost of countering them.

The Jews Control Sarah Palin! (Of Course...)

Last week Andrew Sullivan was linking to baseless slurs insinuating that Sarah Palin had links to the anti semitic Pat Buchanan, this week he's claiming that she is a tool of the hook nosed yiddos*:
know she's being safely indoctrinated by Joe Lieberman and AIPAC as we speak
Perhaps in a few days he'll tie his conspiracy theories together and figure out that Bristol Palin's missing baby hasn't turned up because it had already been sacrificed by the Elders of Zion.

* I am paraphrasing him here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I Might Start Paying The Licence Fee.

I criticise the BBC a lot, praise where praise is due:

On August Bank Holiday Monday, the Ligali founder Toyin Agbetu was savagely attacked by security employees on the BBC 1xtra float at the Notting Hill carnival.

Toyin had been distributing flyers in support of a community campaign to institute a three minute silent tribute in remembrance of the original African Caribbean cultural vision of Claudia Jones for Notting Hill Carnival and the Ancestors of African people who fell as victims of racism throughout the Maafa.
For those unfamiliar with Ligali, read here.

Then & Now.

Polly Toynbee in June last year:
'But then, as they stepped into No 10 yesterday, here was as decent and clever a team of ministers as ever graced the cabinet table.'
Polly today:
A cabinet of minnows and spineless backbenchers include many - perhaps most - who want Brown gone, but lack the nerve to act.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Nobody's Perfect.

Barack Obama on the Surge:
“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,”
Count me as nobody then, somehow I suspected more soldiers might be a good solution to a lack of security caused by an insufficient number of troops. It was mystifying to me at the time why the pundits were so convinced that the Surge would fail given how obviously sensible it was.

More pertinently John McCain anticipated it perfectly well and several years in advance.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oppressed Group Of The Day.

The position of professional women in Britain is getting worse!

Women are losing the battle for gender equality in Britain's workplaces after years of progress, a report shows today.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission's annual study, which looks at the number of women given top positions in business, politics and the public sector, found women's representation had fallen in almost half the industries surveyed. It is the biggest backward step for workplace gender equality in the five years the study has been carried out


The commission's assessment found that the proportion of women holding key positions in British life had fallen in 12 out of the 25 categories surveyed in 2006. In politics, fewer women now hold positions of power in Parliament, the Cabinet and in the UK's regional assemblies. It would take two centuries, or another 40 elections, for women to reach parity with men on the benches of the House of Commons, the report says.

This sounds very terrible until you realise that if you have 25 categories, then fewer women represented in 12 categories means more or the same number of women in 13 categories. This looks like the kind of random fluctuation that occurs through chance. It is like producing a report on the fact that flicking a coin 25 times gives you 12 heads and 13 tails.

I am being a little bit flippant as the idea here is that because women do make up fairly low proportions of some professions it should be expected that the sex ratio should be changing in one direction. This is probably true for some professions although the idea that there is automatically a problem if a profession contains more people of one sex than the other is fatuous.

I shouldn't dismiss the report entirely since it does at least recognise something which has escaped the minds of those who draft government policy; If you raise the cost of employing women of child bearing age then fewer women are going to be employed:

Worryingly for a government that has prided itself in its attempts to boost equality in the workplace, experts warned that new provisions for maternity leave could be behind the unexpected backwards step.

Women currently receive maternity pay for nine months and can take maternity leave for up to a year, under rights which came into force in April 2007.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Oh Dear...

The pressure is mounting on Sarah Palin, with important questions being raised, Jim Treacher who is clearly angling for a job at the New York Times covers this breaking story:
Embattled former beauty queen Sarah Palin* continued to wilt yesterday under the pressure of fair, evenhanded media questions regarding the alleged state of "Alaska." Palin has claimed to be "governor" of the legendary land mass, which, while heretofore undiscovered by explorers, was once rumored to contain vast expanses rich with oil, gold, and "eski-mos."

Palin first made the "Alaska" claim during an Aug. 29 public appearance alongside elderly, mean-looking cancer victim John McCain. McCain, a white man with whiter hair, has long publicly blocked efforts by Barack Obama, a youthful black man with a certain indefinable aura about him, to move into his new house. Palin, also white-skinned, has been linked to the McCain offensive.

Meanwhile Iowahawk covers the opinions of the man in the street:

Andrew S., Time Magazine columnist, P-Town, MA:

"As a mainstream conservative Catholic of conscience, I am shocked and disgusted by all of the suggestions of Palin family baby-snatching and witchcraft and shape-shifting that I've been reading about in my columns. How can we really know that Bristol's new baby isn't actually the result of an incestuous prenatal affair between Trig and his probably-aborted missing twin sister during Bristol's still secret pregnancy last year? How many heads does it have? Is this new baby itself pregnant, or possible wearing a tiny rubber pregnancy suit as a distraction from other Palin family pregnancy scandals?

Jeremiah W., minister, Chicago, IL:

"Let's remember that the Bible counsels us to 'hate the sin, love the sinner.' But let's also remember that it also tells us to hate whitey."

School Leaving Age Rises.

Children starting secondary school this week will have to stay there until they're 17, not continuously. I am against this because more school isn't the right choice for every pupil. It seems likely to be a waste of time for those who don't want to remain there, which in turn will damage the prospects of those who do want to stay on, because students who don't want to be there are likely to be a disruptive influence.

I heard a government spokesman claim on the radio that it was necessary because at the moment those who stay in school earn considerably more over a lifetime, which appears to be a compelling argument at first but on closer examination is like claiming that because basketball players are taller than the general population we should therefore make basketball compulsory, to make people taller. Come to think of it people who go on to earn a doctorate earn even more still so why not make getting a Ph.D compulsory too?

Whiny Twat Of The Day.

What a little whiner.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

There Is No Right Not To Be Offended.

Following on from this, I see another Christian group has decided to get an exhibit they object to removed. They have been encouraged to try it on by decades of pandering to religious minorites by the establishment. They shouldn't be indulged, but every time a decision is taken to 'respect' the feelings of more violent religious groups it encourages the others.

Double Standards?

The pregnancy of Bristol Palin has been seized upon by the usual suspects. Although in fairness Barack Obama has acted admirably and drawn a line under it. However some of the reporting of it made me think of a comparison with another politicians daughter whom the press agreed to keep out of the news after an incident. I was hesitant to raise it because I think it was right not to report that case, however there do appear to be double standards as Guido alludes to here.

BTW I'd rather commentators didn't directly refer to the case I am talking about, even if it is reasonably well known by now.

Update: Quote of the Day on this subject comes from economist Tyler Cowen:

without families like this our nation would have no chance of affording the social welfare programs proposed by the Democratic Party.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fukuda Fuks Off.

There's a possibly apocryphal story about an opinion poll being carried out in the United States to find who was the most famous living Japanese person. It was won by Bruce Lee, a dead Chinese man. Despite the fact that it remains the world's second largest economy no one seems to care much about the government of the country, including me. So whereas there has been months of saturation coverage of the US election, with every twist and turn being scrutinised, the Japanese prime minister can resign and hardly anyone notices.

In theory it should be interesting, Fukuda was in office for just a year having succeeded Shinzo Abe last September, who in turn succeeded Junichiro Koizumi* the previous September so it appears to a highly tumultuous scene. In practice no one seems to find it that important. Perhaps there is a sense that Japan is run in a more collegiate style so that the individuals matter less than their equivelents in France, Germany or the USA. If that's the case though then it's hard to explain why 3 of the last 4 Prime Ministers have failed to last a year in office.

* Koizumi is the only Japanese politician I can recall to have established a public image overseas, apart from the bloke George H W Bush was sick over.

What's In A Name?

You know how supporters of "the One" get outraged whenever someone uses his full name? Well this rule against name mockery only works one way:

Barack Hussein Obama Supporter Mocks Names

It has been obvious for several years now that Andrew Sullivan is a bunny boiler who has allowed his feelings of rejection by the Republican Party to push him to the point of madness. Nowadays his rage, paranoia and detachment from reality make him a shadow of who he once was, now his journalism makes that of Alex Jones look like Alastair Cooke.

Bad Teachers.

The head of OFSTED seems to be correct when she says:

Miss Gilbert said inadequate and "satisfactory" teaching was letting children down, and that excuses about the intake of some schools in deprived areas were not acceptable.

"As I go round the country heads tell me how difficult it is to get rid of weak teachers," she said. "They say they start the procedure and they might be 18 months down the line and the teacher will move… we need to be thinking of ways of preventing that. That isn't Ofsted's role but I sympathise with head teachers about that."

The situation is so perverse that one of the practices that goes on is to get rid of the worst teachers by promoting them, so they can retire with a larger pension.

I would be willing to accede to almost any of the demands made by the teaching unions, higher pay, longer holidays or anything else providing there was one condition; Headteachers could sack any teacher immediately with no right of appeal and School Boards could sack any headteacher at any point.

Anyone Fancy Going On A Rampage?

You know the economy isn't in a good way, with growth slowing and the credit crunch, so I'm wondering does anyone want to go out tonight to beat up some foreigners?

This might seem like a strange response to the credit crunch and all that but according to the government it is likely to be the reaction of many people.

An autumn offensive by Gordon Brown to revive his premiership with a package of economic measures risks being overshadowed by the leak of a Home Office document which spells out how the downturn will lead to an increase in crime and greater support for extremist political parties.

It doesn't seem likely to me. Perhaps these government relaunches would be more effective if they didn't believe that the electorate was composed of atavistic morons who are only ever a few moments away from becoming a rampaging lynch mob.

Another One Bites The Dust.

Sudden bullet syndrome strikes a Kremlin critic in Russia, again. Can we stop pretending Russia is run by a civilised regime now or that Putin is something other than a gangster?

Update: It's not often, or indeed ever, that I have cause to praise Gordon Brown but he seems to understand it to a point.

We're Here, We're Queer, We Don't Want Any More Bears.

The Ministry of Defence have a tough job on their hand, with serious fighting in Afghanistan, troops in Iraq, a growing military threat by Russia and numerous smaller challenges the world over. So naturally they've decided it is the right time to hold a meeting with PETA* over whether to replace the bearskin hats worn by the guards at the palace.

The Ministry of Defence is to meet an animal rights group to discuss alternatives to the bearskin hats worn by guards at Buckingham Palace.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has approached Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney to design a new shape for the 18in hat.

Perhaps they can then move to change the rations of soldiers in the field so that they no eat meat and dairy products whilst out in the field and instead sit down in Helmand Province to a nice nut cutlet or Quorn Burger.

* PETA refers to 'People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals', not the equally renowned 'People Eating Tasty Animals'.