England's Sword 2.0

Monday, December 31, 2001

Happy Hogmanay!!!

Time just ran away from me this morning and the year is almost out. This will therefore probably be my last post of 2001. A very happy New Year to all those on the Gregorian Calendar, and see you in 2002!

Sunday, December 30, 2001

The Job No-one Wants

According to the Beeb, not only has the Argntine interim President resigned, but his designated successor has said he doesn't want the job either.

Has the Austral dropped? Perhaps the assortment of commies, socialists, fascists and outright Nazis that have ruined Argentina with their despicable policies have finally realized that they are just plain wrong. Is there a single real liberal left in the country to take over? I don't hold out much hope...

Bennett on Blogs

UPI's blog-freindly columnist Jim Bennett has dedicated an entire edition to praise of your favorite format. Check out the latest Anglosphere Beat...


Unsurprisingly, a lot of favorable comment has been directed at George Will's latest column which puts the boot into the Euro for celebrating non-existent architecture, and thereby the EU as well. Warblog darling Mark Steyn covers the same ground in his Sunday Telegraph piece today. In so doing he also delivers a good kicking to one idea that Eurofanatics regularly advance: that America was a place of financial chaos until the US Dollar replaced the currencies of individual states. Her is his analysis of that point:

In my part of New Hampshire, the general storekeeper showed me the other day the "table of relative values" every business kept alongside the till back then. In 1815, £47 7s 10¾d - the store still priced its goods in sterling - was equal to $157.98 in New England money, $118.48 in New York money, $197.48 in Pennsylvania money and $157.59 in Federal money. The nearest thing to a standard coin, as it had been throughout the colonial era, was the Spanish dollar, the "piece of eight" whose influence lingers in the name Americans give their 25c coins - "two bits" (two eighths). Congress finally got around to ending the official status of foreign coins as legal tender in 1857, 65 years after the founding of the US mint and eight years after the California gold rush had bolstered reserves sufficiently to make dependence on foreign coin unnecessary. The greenback - now the symbol of American dominance - was not issued until the Civil War. In other words, the US expanded from a cluster of East Coast colonies to a continental power, went through a manufacturing boom, built the railroad and settled the West - and barely gave the currency a thought. The dollar just growed like Topsy and the state money and foreign coinage faded away.

Her Majesty's Treasury seems to be disturbed by the idea of anything economic happening in so haphazard a fashion as this. I am reliably informed that the Mail on Sunday (not a paper that believes in a web presence) has details of a leaked memo from HMT's Euro preparations unit today (which distresses me, as a respected old colleague is a member). In it, several tactics are described for increasing public acceptance of the Euro, such as:

* New laws to change the school curriculum to force children to learn about the Euro in classrooms.

*Secretly using television shows such as Big Brother and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? to preach pro-Euro propaganda

* Making millions of starter packs 'specifically unattractive' so that people who buy them as souvenirs throw them away and use spend them.

* Banning the use of Army vehicles to transport Euro cash supplies to banks to avoid 'tarnishing' the currency by making it look as if it is being forced on people.

If this is true, desperation seems to be the order of the day. Amazing.

Injustice is Unfairness?

Regular readers of this site and toryrevival will know that i consider John Rawls' famous but obscure tome "A Theory of Justice," which advanced the theory of justice as fairness (to collapse his argument somewhat), to be one of the worst things to happen to Anglosphere civilization in the past 50 years. They will also know that I consider the work of "Theodore Dalrymple" to be one of the best insights into what is actually happening in the ghettoes and slums where so many people live, and from which they were in the process of being freed until the '60s, when the intelligentsia found new ways to herd them back in there.

This article from today's Sunday Telegraph combines the two points, in a way. Dalrymple eloquently summarises the active Islamic proselytization that is going on in England's prisons. Thankfully, in this case at least, England does not have as high a proportion of its population in jail as the US (although it should). But, as the icing on the cake, our Theo shows just why these would-be Dynamite Kids are so susceptible to Islam in particular:

They are not well-educated, of course, and are completely unable to distinguish between unfairness (the permanent, if regrettable, condition of human existence) and injustice, which is somebody's fault. Nor do they care to analyse the true source of their miseries, preferring instead to blame a large and amorphous entity such as society: for by doing so, they absolve themselves of all personal responsibility for their past, present and future actions.

Rawls causes terrorism. QED.

Friday, December 28, 2001

New Links

I've added some links to some interesting new blogs. I've already mentioned Blogs of War by Dr Frank, while Blogical Suspect (groan!), by William Quick, Ye Olde Blogge by Andrea Harris and the quaintly named "blog" by Eve Tushnet are all worth a look.

I think I might reserve Blogophilia as another blogspot name...

A Good King but a Bad Man

Excellent Tim Hames column in The Times asking who was the greatest King of England. Timbo rightly asks whether Cromwell should be included, and makes the following appraisal of the Lord Protector, with which I wholeheartedly agree:

Even after he decided that there was no choice but to sanction the execution of the King, Cromwell fought to preserve the House of Lords and the wider nobility. He was not a Robespierre or a Lenin but a very English revolutionary. When he was presented with demands for a popular republic based on universal suffrage, he swept them aside, remarking that he would have nothing to do with any blueprint which would “make England like Switzerland”. He was also a brilliant statesman, an early advocate of religious tolerance with a sincere and consistent interest in the common man, a military genius and a fabulous innovator in foreign affairs. As Samuel Pepys put it after the Restoration: “It is strange how everybody nowadays reflects upon Oliver and commends him, what brave things he did and made all the neighbouring Princes fear him.”

Nevertheless, Cromwell falls short on one of my three rules. Despite the originality of the Instrument of Government (the only real written Constitution Britain has ever enjoyed), he could not deliver the succession. He was perhaps ahead of his time in that there was no body of intellectual theory to provide the underpinning for his experiment. He lacked a John Locke to frame the theoretical rationale for enlightened liberalism. His fate, therefore, is less to be the best King of England that we never had than to be the true founding father of the United States of America.

If you've never looked at the Instrument of Government 1653, check it out. It's way ahead of its time.

Tim's choice of Henry VII is grudgingly granted by me as a respectable choice. As a Yorkist by inclination, I despise the idea that this awful man succeeded so well.

Witchfinder General Secretary?

Disturbing article in The Spectator about the state of South Africa. It is uncompromising in its accusations. This is perhaps the most gentle criticism in it:

In South Africa we do not tell the truth in public (what we say in private is entirely different). This is because Thabo Mbeki, like Robert Mugabe, has perfected the technique of silencing all criticism by declaring all critics to be racists. It is very similar to the 15th-century Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) used to convict people of witchcraft. ‘If we say you are a witch, you are a witch,’ has become, ‘If we say you are a racist, you are a racist.’ Suppose you were to say, ‘There are too many traffic accidents in South Africa.’ This would be proof positive that you are a racist: you would be giving out a ‘coded message’ that blacks cannot drive properly; you would be suggesting covertly that blacks are incapable of ruling the country; your agenda would be a return to apartheid; your criticism a veiled plea to protect the narrow white self-interest and deny advancement to the black masses. Such censure would stop any attempt to improve road safety.

Is South Africa soon to join the ranks of the failed states? If it does, it may well be because of the imposition of a self-inflicted form of reverse racism and, once again, it will show that whatever the qualities of economic management, the economy is only part of the make-up of a state.


Jennie Bristow's latest column in Sp!ked, Back to the asylum is a great takedown of the mad suggestion by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Woolf, that suspected paedophiles should be locked up. As Jennie points out, the simple impracticality is not the whole issue:

UK home secretary David Blunkett seems to have rejected Lord Woolf's suggestions on the basis that they would not work in practice. But the practicality of the proposals is not the point. Like many of New Labour's new legal proposals, their weight lies in their spirit. Lord Woolf is making gestures in the direction of what he believes is the public consciousness - the commitment to safety, at whatever the cost to liberty. And in the current climate, where all discussions of criminal justice measures are dominated by a broader sense of fear and suspicion, such gestures are as dangerous as the implementation of draconian new laws.

How about locking up anyone who might suggest diminutions of civil liberties? Hmm?

An American in Norwich

For an American view from the UK, as opposed to this English view from DC, check out Dr Frank's The Blogs of War. As well as some trenchant observations on politics, he has some excellent observations about my homeland. Check out this excellent summary of the English Christmas. I have to say that I've never really felt that Christmas in the US was a holiday at all, really. I've always had much more fun on July 4th (despite the constant ribbing). Fingers crossed, we'll be in the UK for Christmas next year.

Cross-blog alert. I've posted something more on charitable giving in the British context to Conservative Revival, which I hope to post more to in the upcoming weeks. I'll try to mention any new posts there here. I'm working on a "family policy" post which could be quite lengthy.

Dumb and, er, what's "comparative"?

Important article by Lord Rees-Mogg in The Times on Monday. It briefly traces the decline and fall of English schooling, before referencing this important Spectator article on the legally-enforced destruction of books in public libraries all over the UK.

Fahrenheit 451? Not too far off. There was a time when the Workers' Educational Association would have had a powerful lobby on the Labour benches to protest against this wanton destruction of one of the urban working class's prize assets. But the urban working class isn't represented on the Labour benches (at least amongst the English MPs). Strangely enough, they're all teachers...

What's the solution? Even if the laws were repealed, the mind-set of the authorities in charge of libraries is too stultified to achieve reform. One hundred years ago, philanthropists could have set up libraries and stocked them accordingly (two hundred years ago, "patrons" would have done it to enhance their image). Today we are left with large corporations as the only non-governmental source of that sort of money. So changes in the law to make charitable donations attractive, as they are here in the States, are perhaps the only solution. It's a grim outlook.

Still believe blanket gun laws work?

Just see what's happening in London, where the most repressive gun laws in history are in force. As the Evening Standard relates, there has been a significant increase in gun crime. The "massive rise in gun murders" headline is actually hyperbole -- there's still only been a small number of gun murders in the city this year, but that does not argue against the more general picture of gun crime rising while more gun laws should have led to it falling if the logic is correct.

The British example shows clearly, I think, that, whatever the gun laws, criminals who want to use guns will always be able to obtain them, and will then use them if their culture is so inclined. "Old fashioned" British criminals rarely carried guns despite their ready availability, and if they did, they didn't discharge them. Now we see a new kind of criminal that regularly carries guns in spite of strict laws and uses them too. Any solution to this problem, on either side of the Atlantic, must focus on who is likely to carry guns. Richmond, Virginia's Project Exile did this effectively by making it clear that a felon carrying a gun would receive a 5-year federal sentence, and therefore likely be sent to a prison far away (hence the "Exile" bit). Britain, foolishly, abolished the felon category in the 70s (I think) and so lost a valuable marker against dangerous criminals. The exile bit would also be problematic, although sending more nasties to HM Prison Slade in rural Durham and the like might be an acceptable alternative. Of course, sending more nasties to prison full stop would also be helpful.

Gun crime is a cultural, not a legal problem. That is how large areas of the US can be full of legally-owned guns and have little or no gun crime while other areas have strict gun laws and endemic gun crime. Enough guns will always be available to supply the gun crime culture, whatever the restrictions on availability. I agree that if British gun laws were loosened now, the murder and violent crime rates would rise, but that is because British culture has largely abandoned its traditional value system. But until Britain sorts out this problem, gun crime will rise whatever the laws say.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Quite right, and very, very wrong

Anatole Kaletsky is the Paul Krugman of British journalism. In some things he is exceptionally insightful, but most of the time, particularly when he strays from his home area of economics, he is spectacularly wrong. Sometimes he does it in the same article. A good example is today's column in The Times.

First, he gets it right when analyzing Russia's advances since 9/11, particularly in this point:

... the dazzling display of US weapons technology in the past few months may finally have persuaded a large part of the Russian military-industrial complex that competition with the West is doomed to failure. The few Russians who may still have harboured nostalgic Stalinist illusions about their nation’s invincible military power will surely have been disabused by the fact that this display of American prowess occurred in Afghanistan, the land that symbolised the greatest failure of modern Russian arms.

This final end to the Cold War could be the most important thing to emerge since the terrible day. But then, foolish Kaltesky goes on to ignore the point he's just made when condemning the USA for abrogating the ABM Treaty (if the other side isn't worried any more, what's the problem?) and then goes on to make a stunningly ignorant series of points about US internal politics. How about:

November 5, 2002 ... is the date of the mid-term Congressional elections, when the Democrats have a good chance of ousting the Republican majorities in both Houses and turning George W. Bush into a lame duck. To do that, of course, the Democrats want the present “Bush recession”, or at least some kind of an economic malaise, to continue for as long as possible. The right-wing zealots among the Republican leadership, on the other hand, see the present war fever and terrorist paranoia as a golden opportunity to impose market fundamentalism and anti-tax economics and extirpate Clinton-style moral degeneracy, which in their view has dominated America since the 1960s. They, too, relish a fight to the death in the congressional elections ahead.

President Bush seems to lack the intelligence or the leadership ability to overcome this political fanaticism and economic sabotage. He cannot force the Democrats to support the right-wing fundamentalist agenda of the Republican leadership. And he seems unable or unwilling to force Republican fundamentalists to compromise with mainstream Democrats.

In other words, America still lacks a President of real stature. That is another thing that hasn’t changed since September 11.

Rarely have I read such a willful misrepresentation of American politics outside of the New York Times. The language used about the Republicans is bitter polemic, especially in the context of real religious fundamentalism, and it is shameful of The Thunderer to have printed it. There are genuine problems with the Republicans in Congress, but this ain't the way to present principled objections. This reads much more like, how can I put it, dogmatic, prejudiced, erm, fundamentalism, if you're happy with that term being applied to politics, Mr Kaletsky. Let's see how silly this looks when complete control of Congress reverts, as I predict it will, to the Republicans next November.

And Bush a President without stature? Ye gods.

Milestones in Blogging

Amazing. As I type this the site will probably be receiving its 10,000th visitor. Thank you, whoever you are, and thank you to those thousands of others who've appreciated my musings. Like Glenn Reynolds, I am amazed that anyone apart from a few old friends reads this stuff. And, if you've tried to send me any e-mail since Friday, I'm sorry if I haven't replied but I'm having terrible e-mail problems at the address to the left. Sorry!

The Great Profiling Debate

Back to blogging! My attempt to return yesterday was thwarted by Blogger's security problems. There was a time when anarchists attacked government-run institutions, but now they attack free services? Oy. Anarchism has been replaced by nihilism, pure and simple, it seems to me.

Anyway, I've been interested by the debate over profiling sparked off (literally) by Kid Dynamite over the Atlantic. There was definitely a security lapse of a most basic fashion here. The bloke had a one-way ticket, and I know for a fact that the US immigration authorities hold the airline responsible for boarding a man with a one-way ticket who doesn't have an immigrant visa (I had to jump through plenty of hoops at Heathrow even when I had an immigrant visa and a one-way ticket), so the protestations that this was the fault of the French authorities don't carry much weight with me.

The profiling calls, however, seem pretty foolish to me. This guy wasn't Arab, but half-English, half-Afro-Caribbean, and almost certainly a British citizen. So race and nationality weren't going to be reasonable grounds for profiling (unless we're going to profile all non-US citizens, at which point why not use Johnny Walker?) The only grounds for profiling would be religion. As many people have pointed out, Britain has done that before. We expelled all Jews from the country in the Middle Ages, but realised how silly that was. As a result, we didn't try to expel all Catholics after the Gunpowder Plot, which would have been, in population terms, as dreadful a loss of life as the WTC attacks if it had succeeded, never mind the direct assault on the English system of government. It took a series of Civil Wars, caused in part by a desire on the part of some to exert a supragovernmental religious control over the English system, for the English to institute laws that deprived Catholics systematically of some of their civil rights. The injustices were mostly recognized for what they were a hundred and fifty years later, but some still remain, as Mary Ann Sieghart pointed out in the article referenced below. Religious profiling would be as unjust today as those laws were then.

In any event, how do we know what religion someone is? The 9/11 hijackers, as is well-documented, behaved in a most irreligious fashion, drinking and visiting strip bars. It would not be too much for them, or Richard Reid, to have declared themselves to be something other than Islamic. What, then, would be the grounds for profiling?

Profiling, it seems to me, is only useful when you know a specific incident has happened or is likely to happen and need to find the perpetrators. If it is to be of any use, it would then go very quickly beyond the sledgehammer categorizations of race or religion and into behavioural specifics.

If we accept that there are grounds for screening, because our intelligence just isn't good enough, then we really need to accept random screening of everyone. If the screen picks out a 75-year old Grandmother, then the officers should be given discretion to just give her the minimum scrutiny. However, if someone is acting suspiciously but is not picked randomly, we should restore discretion to the security services to haul them in for scrutiny on suspicion. Any such non-random "pulls" should be meticulously documented in order to deter actual racism on the part of the officers, but I genuinely cannot see any other grounds for doing this than on a case-by-case basis.

As for "the muslim problem," Britain's "Catholic problem" was not solved by any of her repressive laws, but by internal reform of the Catholic Church. There are some ultra-Montaignes (sp?) out there, but not many. Today's Telegraph leader, Help the moderate Muslims, suggests a way to encourage such reform:

A preferable course would be to devote far more attention to the task of helping moderate Muslims to sort out their own communities at the grassroots.

A crucial component of such a programme would be for the authorities, in conjunction with those moderates, to encourage respect for the rule of law.

The model for educating the disaffected young in civic virtue was pioneered by Mayor Leoluca Orlando of Palermo, who largely succeeded in busting the hold of the Mafia in western Sicily.

All of which implies that we must educate all our children in the rule of law, democracy and why and how tthose institutions grew up. History, in other words. And back we come to that little mantra, education, education, education.

Friday, December 21, 2001

God rest ye merry,

Ladies and gentlemen, as I am off soon for a weekend in the Capital of the Confederacy, followed by various familial celebrations. I hope to resume posting on Boxing Day. In the meantime, may Father Christmas give you everything you wished for.

And if anyone feels excluded by that message of goodwill, wait until Lee Bowyer comes a-calling.


Check out David Pannick QC's Times column on the winners and losers in the law in 2001. It's worth it...

Talking of Jim Bennett...

His "Anglsophere" columns are now available on the UPI site. I thought this one (On unity and diversity) was particularly good. Diversity is an important part of the Anglosphere concept, as he makes clear:

The Anglosphere has come to value its own version of diversity. This vision rejected the centralized, bureaucratic state evolved on the Continent from the time of the Bourbons onward. The union of England and Scotland led to the departure of the royal court from Edinburgh, but left an autonomous church and university system behind. This meant that Britain from the time of Union always tolerated more than one approach to thinking, an autonomy which permitted the flowering of the Scottish Enlightenment.

The settlement of America meant that the substantially different regional cultures and religions of the British Isles were variously transplanted to different regions of America. Immigrant groups tended to settle and mix with compatible regional cultures. This diversity insured that no one culture or doctrine would become the orthodoxy of Anglo-America. The First Amendment owes its entrenched toleration to this diversity.

I'll try to link to Jim's columns when they come online.

Freedom for Somaliland!

Jim Bennett has this to say about the Somalia article I linked to below:

The article is good, but it leaves out an interesting fact about current Somalia/Somaliland. Following the failure of the UN-established Somali state, the former British-ruled areas (Somaliland) constituted a functioning government for their area, called Somaliland. Somaliland is today substantially more peaceful, orderly, and prosperous than the former Italian area. The Somaliland governemnt has appealed everywhere for recognition, without success, due to the prevailing dogma of adhering to the Organization for African Unity's policy of not recognizing "secessions', although this "secession" was really the rejection of a failed union imposed by outside powers. Somaliland has also petitioned the Commonwealth for membership, without success.

I am reluctant to claim that it was the British influence in Somaliland which has made it so much more successful than the Italian-colonized part. It was never more than a coaling port for the Royal Navy and a strategic shield for Aden. The British made no real attempt to
Anglicize the locals. I'm not sure they even taught them to play cricket!

But it is an interesting coincidence.

The Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble...

Interesting point in the UPI gossip sheet UPI hears ...:

Concern is mounting among Spanish businessmen over the ominous signs of success in their government's long campaign to wrest back the sovereignty of the rocky peninsula of Gibraltar from the British. Patriotic as they are, Spanish financiers are worried that along with Spanish sovereignty over the rock might come Spanish banking and tax inspectors, keen to delve into the records of what has been a Mediterranean tax haven. Since two-thirds of the accounts in Gibraltar are reliably estimated to be held by Spaniards, their concern is understandable. Britain conquered Gib, or The Rock, from Spain almost 300 years ago and has held it ever since as a strategic naval outpost at the mouth of the Mediterranean. Tony Blair's government in London, untrammeled by such old-fashioned notions of patriotism or even by the overwhelming desire of the Gibraltarians to remain under British rule, says it wants a solution to this "irritant" in Anglo-Spanish relations next year. Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar may be in less of a rush, now that his party financiers are being warned against too much zeal on Gibraltar. Otherwise, Aznar will have trouble raising campaign funds.

So continental corruption may save the Gibraltarians from being forced into continental rule. Ha! Now that's hoist by your own petard...

Catholic Tastes

Interesting article by the Blairite Mary Ann Sieghart in The Times this morning. It outlines the creeping "Catholicization" of the British establishment. Most important, however, is the final paragraph:

The acceptance of Catholics in the most exalted positions in the British Establishment has been as speedy as it has been silent. People have barely noticed the change. For the big schism these days is not between different denominations of Christianity, but between the godless and the rest. The faiths in Britain are uniting against secularism. The last thing they can afford to do is to fight one another.

True, at least as far as the Christian denominations go. Since the Vatican dropped its political ambitions, the main historic reason for distrust of Catholicism -- the threat to British democracy -- has gone. The theological disputes are arcane at best (who in the Anglican community reads the 39 Articles any more?), although I still have a problem with the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Women priests aside, we are probably the closest to a truly ecumenical Christian community since the Council of Nicaea. Time, then, for the forces of good to go campaigning again. And that will require a withdrawal of the state's "peacekeepers"...

Thug Life

Ah, Armando, it seems like only yesterday that I sat in the balcony of the Oxford Union, showering a cadence of rose petals down on your head as you reduced us all to helpless laughter.* Now you sum up the reason why David Blunkett's restrictions on ancient rights are accepted so unquestioningly by the British public. Your Lee Bowyer impression encapsulates the "lad" culture that surrounded me when I lived in South London so well:

DAVID Blunkett has been castigated for a combination of Draconian and undemocratic measures in his anti-terrorism Bill. I say to his opponents: shut it! The time for carrot-and-stick measures is over. It's now time for the chair-leg and stick.

Terrorists who sneak into this country and pretend to be born here and to be just students and don't respect the law need to be done in the face with a chair leg and left bleeding in a shop doorway. Metaphorically.

The law is the law, and those of us with the decency to be found not guilty should be free to walk the streets with a drink in us without fear of being attacked by a gang of bombers or poisoners or any other gang because I condemn all gangs since I wasn't in one and that's been proved true.

(Note for the bemused: Lee Bowyer, an England international footballer [soccer if you're posh], was found not guilty, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, of being part of a mob that beat up an Asian [ie Pakistani] man after a night's heavy drinking at a nightclub. The offence over here would almost certainly have been Aggravated Assault.)

*Not true actually. I was more likely slumped on the Committee Benches, staring balefully at the President because I'd asked for a speech in this debate, and he'd given me one in next weeks debate on religion, which would attract 3 men, a dog and the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (sound men and women, but they didn't vote).

Pangloss for the New Millennium

The Prof has already linked to this, but you have to see Robert Kagan's Postcard From Belgium (washingtonpost.com). There's an unbelievable exchange between the Elected Heads of Europe about prosciutto (the EU word for pork, apparently) and Swedish women, but the most amazing statement comes towards the end:

At the summit, Greece blocked a deal, recently agreed to by archenemy Turkey, that would allow the EU to use essential NATO planning assets. Michel was undeterred, though. "If no access to NATO's resources can be secured," he declared, the EU force "must declare itself operational without such a declaration being based on any true capability." Apparently in Europe this works.

There's an old Soviet joke about Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev taking the train across Siberia, when the train suddenly stops. After a while, the Guard comes and asks them what to do. "Do not worry," says Lenin, "It is inevitable that the train will move." But nothing happens. Stalin orders the engine driver to be shot, but still nothing happens. Then Brezhnev pulls down the blinds and says, "The train is moving."

The EU continues to morph into the Soviet Union. Next step, the introduction of the Rouble on January 1st.

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Oh, what a shame

Patrick Ruffini "bashes" the EU on economic grounds. Well done, young feller-me-lad! Now add the defence pillar and the legal/rights pillar and you have three compelling reasons why the EU is a bad thing. Personally, I couldn't care less if the continental countries tie themselves into this system, but including the UK would be bad for the UK and bad for the US.

Useful little site

purportal.com: the bunk stops here has one-stop search options for the Snopes and About.com urban legends databases, plus three major computer security firms. Worth bookmarking, I'd say.

Well, this is pleasant...

Thansk to blog-patron MommaBear for alerting me to this United Press International story: Holiday-themed virus deletes Windows. Not only does it completely cripple you if you're not careful, but:

Gullotto said analysis of Reeezak's code and its after-effects indicates the author is likely the same person who created the "WTC.exe" virus shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Religious references appear in copies of the virus, which renames itself "Sharon," "Bush," "bin Laden," "Allah" and other terms related to conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan, he said, and anti-Semitic messages have also appeared once the virus finishes its work.

Charming. I wonder if RIPA will be of any use in tracking this slimeball down.

The Mad Mullah

Egad! Terence Kealey's Two cultures column is a must-read. Today he charts the tale of British involvement in Somaliland, and in particular the story of the "Mad Mullah," whose career serves as a striking warning on what Bin Laden will be capable of, on a much bigger scale, if we forget about him. Check it out!

It's not just Argentina

Meanwhile, in South Africa: Rand plunges to 5.5p but Mbeki sees no need to panic. The causes?

One factor cited is Argentina's default on debt repayments, which caused speculators to seek other emerging markets. They have gambled huge amounts by speculating that the rand will devalue, causing strong downward pressure.

The Zimbabwean crisis has coloured long-term investors' views of the southern African region, where a functioning and self-sustained economy has been ruined by President Mugabe's clumsy attempt to cling to power.

One of the best things Mbeki can do is get his finger out and provide some leadership by championing democracy in Southern Africa. But he spent most of his life campaigning for a one-party state in Azania.If he can break that conditioning, there might be hope down there. Meanwhile, perhaps we in the North ought to think again about what benefits the various futures options provide. Is the instability they cause ultimately destructive of wealth? If so, then their economic benefit is doubtful. But I'm not a fully-trained economist, so I'll let others consider this point.

Murray's unoriginality proved

As I suspected, my comments below about custom and authoritarianism are not original. This letter to the Telegraph.co.uk quotes Edmund Burke:

Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.

Did he say this when he was a Whig or a Tory? I shall endeavour to find out.

Parallels, parallels

The independent counsel statute here in the states was created by Democrats to be a gadfly against Republican abuses of power. It was a wholly unnecessary measure and one that Republicans warned would cause unwarranted hindrances to the use of executive power. The democrats finally accepted that argument when the full weight of the law was turned on Bill Clinton (if it hadn't been for the law, perhaps, just perhaps, Slick Willy might have paid more attention to Al Qa'eda).

In the UK, the Labour Party spent much of the Major administration harping on about minor abuses of power by Conservative Ministers and MPs (who really should have known better, but were insulated against reasonable restraint by so many years in office). The result was the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, the first time in history that Parliament has allowed its members' conduct be supervised by an external party. Labour in power, however, has been just as guilty of "sleaze" as its predecessor, although you wouldn't know it from the BBC's coverage. The Parliamentary Commissioner posed a problem here, so they've forced her out of office. Now, Mr. Speaker has gagged the outgoing Commissioner from detailing her objections to the way she was treated. In some ways this is a good thing, as Parliament should be its own governor and the Commissioner position is an aberration. But NuLab is unlikely to be honest enough to abolish the Commissioner position and will merely put an apparatchik there instead. In that respect, Mrs Filkin's right to be heard is more important. If our masters have been abusing their positions then we should hear about it. Step forward the BBC -- you were fearless about leaks when the Tories were in power. Or is the Fourth Estate a busted flush?

Mrs Filkin's best bet is to get an American-based web publisher who has no desire to set foot in the UK any time soon to publish her letter protected by the First Amendment. Any takers?

Cry for yourself, Argentina...

Years of mishandling by authoritarians of one sort or another (fascists, socialists, Peronists) have brought Argentina to the brink of collapse. As authos are wont to do, they've just declared a state of emergency and put all sorts of apalling restrictions on people's use of their own money. Unsurprisingly, the people have objected. Twelve people have died in riots and the cabinet has resigned. Argentina used to be the most advanced, civilized country in South America, a healthy mix of Anglosphere and Hispanosphere cultures. The Perons "kicked the English out," in Tim Rice's phrase, and the country's been in a downward spiral ever since. I wonder if Tony Blair might offer to help, in order to help heal the rift? I doubt it, but it might be an idea.

Cue economic migrancy to the Falklands...

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Blair bamboozles 'em at Freedom House

The nonprofit Freedom House has just released its annual survey, Freedom in the World 2001 - 2002. As usual, it's interesting reading, and the special focus on the Islamic world is especially worth a look.

However, according to Reuters (can't find a link, but I read this in the print edition of the Washington Times), the report

... singled out British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his work in the aftermath of September 11.

"Blair has been a leading global voice in explaining the relationship between the struggle against terror and the cause of freedom," it said."

This is the man who, in the months since September 11, has led the drive to abolish Habeas Corpus and Trial by Jury in his own country, and stood by as his Ministers nationalized a profitable industry without compensation. Champion of freedom? Ha!

Time for a stiff letter to Freedom House, I think. I'll let you know what they say.

Don't annoy them, they're bigger than you...

WSJ bigwig Tunku Varadarajan has a great column in today's paper, online here at OpinionJournal - Citizen of the World. Tunku's a tad, shall we say, uncompromising when it comes to Pakistan. India has been the victim of an attack on its freedom, clearly linked to Pakistan. As Afghanistan is to America, so Pakistan is to India:

India has the right to retaliate in the manner and time of its choosing. While urging restraint, the U.S government has recognized that "India has a legitimate right to self-defense." Naturally, Delhi needs to consider the implications of its actions on the region--retaliatory strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan could ignite a wider, possibly nuclear, war--but that should not provide an alibi for doing nothing. Pakistan must not be allowed to practice nuclear blackmail on India, whereby it bleeds the latter with an undeclared terrorist war, while warning that any Indian riposte--any Indian assertion of self-defense--could lead to a nuclear escalation.

Maybe Delhi might consider taking a leaf from Israel's book and resort to targeted killings of known anti-Indian terrorists in Pakistan. It has undercover agents on the ground and should, by now, have acquired the ruthlessness to set them on its most visceral enemies. The breaking off of diplomatic ties with Pakistan should also be considered actively.

This is hard to argue with. If only the Bhuttos had been less Marxist, then perhaps the tragedy that may yet befall Pakistan could have been avoided. On suggestion: why doesn't America suggest to Musharraf that a Government of National Unity, bringing in Benazir and, say, Imran Khan (the cricketer, not the lawyer) might be the best way to point Pakistan back on the road to peace. The Bhuttos are undoubtedly popular and, shorn of their links to the Soviets, might have something to contribute again in the re-secularization of Pakistan.

It's either that or annihilation. Seems like an easy choice to me.

Can we find a Northern Alliance in Zimbabwe?

It's official: Zimbabwe is a tyranny. Mugabe outlaws opposition and bans free speech, reports the Telegraph, whose reporter will doubtless be thrown in jail soon.

LEGISLATION that has been likened to the worst excesses of the apartheid era in South Africa will be pushed through Zimbabwe's parliament this week, effectively outlawing President Robert Mugabe's political opponents and stifling free speech.

The new laws allow Zimbabwe's police to ban political gatherings at will and prosecute anyone who attends a meeting where the government is criticised. They effectively ban opposition political parties and end freedoms of association, speech and movement.

The South Africa point is a good one. Simply because Mugabe comes from the majority population does not make him any less evil than Verwoerd and his thuggish followers. If we're ever going to save the good people of Zimbabwe (and all the Zimbabweans I've known, black and white, have been really wonderful people), then we need to promote opposition sources and get a popular movement going that will overthrow this tyrant. South Africa must be pressured to take a lead in this, if they're going to have any credence as a progressive democracy.

The circle of liberty

Interesting column by the reformed old Irish leftie Mary Kenny in today's Telegraph, Religious bigotry is just plain bad manners. She blames the breakdown of civil society for the increased authoritarianism of government:

Thus, the tendency we see towards increased regulation - and legislation - is just a symptom of the fragmentation of civil society, where manners and decorum are not being transmitted effectively. The reasons are complex: children don't learn table manners because they have even less experience of eating at table. The tremendous emphasis on "rights" tends to increase demand for entitlements, and to scorn the courtesies of a more hesitant age. The decline of deference and hypocrisy are broadly regarded as healthy developments: but they also mean that there is an increase in loutishness and what the Victorians called "ruffianism".

This ties in with a theory I've had for some time, and which I'm sure is not original. The real secret of liberty is in knowing when not to exercise it. Communitarians call voluntary, agreed restraint "secret law," but anyone who's studied history or anthropology calls it custom. Liberty is at its best when it frees you from government, at its worst when it frees you from custom. Some customs, doubtless, are bad -- thugee and suttee are obvious examples -- but they tend to be worst when they've been translated into law of some sort. But the main problem with trashing customs is that they are a vital inhibitor in keeping government from interfering.

Family customs, for instance, kept government out of the child-rearing business for a long time. With the breakdown of the traditional family, we are now approaching a situation where it is common for the government to fill the role of father -- providing for upkeep and dictating socialization procedures. Legitimacy is important in many ways too, not least in ensuring the proper inheritance of property. Without legitimacy, therefore, the government may well claim a role in disposing of property (ie the nationalization of the bequest process).

In many ways, this is the difference between the "right-wing" liberal and the "left-wing" liberal. The rwl dedicates much of her time to working towards freedom from government interference, while the lwl will dedicate his efforts to breaking the chains of custom. Unfortunately, the latter process simply leads to an increasingly authoritarian government, which then, emboldened, destroys other customs and replaces them with, often quite different, laws in a literally Machiavellian process. Is liberty served? Hardly.

Custom is the ally of political liberty. The need for cultural assimilation becomes clearer and clearer.

Worst speech ever

As Comic Book Guy might say. Read this hilarious comment in The Times about a speech given by Blairite Minister Tessa Jowell. It represents the ultimate dumbing-down of government, and all in an attempt to define Britishness, apparently:

But what a speech. In pretension, breadth of range and paucity of meaning it challenged the early Blair oeuvre — the Giving Age, young Britain, and all that. In grammatical inaccuracy it beat the best of John Prescott. You really would think that a speechwriter purporting to define British cultural identity (or not to define it, for it is unclear) would manage to craft a paragraph more anatomically correct than this: “There is another issue that binds together all of the things that we do. Separately and individually, they help to make up what our national cultural identity. And that is what I would like to talk briefly about today . . .”

It gets worse, believe me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

You're forgetting the "and"...

We know the INS by its acronym, so we often forget the fact that it is "Immigration AND Naturalization Service." John J. Miller on National Review Online and John Fonte of the Hudson Institute, two figures I greatly admire, seem to have forgotten this element:

As Fonte writes: "Treating immigrants who hope to become American citizens with real respect means seeing them as future fellow citizens (i.e. as 'candidates for citizenship'), not as 'customers' waiting for the delivery of a 'service' or 'product' called 'American citizenship.' Every American knows — or should know — that being a 'candidate' for citizenship — for full and equal membership — in our democratic republic is a status of infinitely greater significance and dignity than being a 'customer' or, to use some of the other terms in this proposal, a 'client' or a 'stakeholder.'"

Fair enough, if those immigrants are intending to naturalize, the second part of the Service's, well, service (and I think its a bit much to criticize a bureau for use of the word service when it's in the damn thing's title). However, not all immigrants want to become Americans. I'd venture to suggest that a large number of those foreigners, certainly of the Brits, who died in the WTC terrorism were here temporarily, for economic reasons. That's why we have the Permanent Resident state. A Green Card holder can become a citizen, but doesn't have to. In essence, requiring citizenship, which seems to be the logical end of the Fonter-Miller argument, is a form of protectionism.

Funny, I've often criticized economic conservatives for not paying enough attention to cultural aspects. This is the first time I've had to do the reverse...

Faith and Free Speech

As if to underline my point about faith and freedom, here's a blog run by my colleague Howard Fienberg that exercises free speech rights on the subject of judaism. Check out Kesher Talk.

Christmas: not worth the bother

Or at least, that seems to be the reaction of the authorities and assorted nannies in the UK. Just read Brendan O'Neill's depressingspiked-life article, "Have yourself a very scary Christmas" and try not to reach for the gin bottle (or bourbon, or rum...)


... is the most hideous word in the Galaxy, accoring to the Hitchhiker's Guide. No wonder, given what's come out of it recently. As well as the disastrous Laeken declaration, the claim that British peace-keepers are a European army, and the proposal to register every human being, we now have this judgment against the Swede Per Johansson, for pasting up an unauthorised poster:

Mr Johansson was not only expelled from Belgium, but will also not be able to travel in Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Island [sic], Norway, Finland and Denmark – all members of the Schengen agreement. His order has no date of expiration.

While pasting up posters in unauthorised places is considered to be a minor crime in Scandinavia, it is regarded as a quite serious offence disturbing public order in Belgium.

As I mentioned below somewhere, the recipricocity of "justice" simply reduces justice to the level of the most draconian code in the particular area concerned. This order, by the way, in another example of how Europe constrains its member states more than the US Federal Government constrains US states.

Finally, back to Blackstone again. His definition of the PERSONAL LIBERTY of individuals consisted in "the power of locomotion, of changing situation or removing one’s person to whatsoever place one’s own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint," unless by due course of law. One may argue that this order was issued according to due course of law, but I think it would be easy to argue from Blackstone that this is a breach of natural justice.

Ye gods.

Faith and Freedom

I posted this on Conservative Revival, then realised there is an international dimension to it. There's a useful contribution on the subject of faith in schools from Damian Green, former head of John Major's Policy Unit, in the Telegraph:Faith schools are part of the solution, not the problem. He's been to Holland to see how they do things there, where a majority of children are in religious schools:

The key to the different organisation of schools in Holland is freedom. Article 23 of the Dutch constitution guarantees freedom of education. They interpret this as the freedom to found schools, to organise the teaching and to determine the principles on which the school is based.

So anyone who can gather enough pupils to make a viable school is entitled, as of right, to public funds both to create the buildings and pay for the pupils. What the Dutch call the private sector in education is not fee-paying, but simply run by non-state bodies.

This principle is important. It seems to be the combination of faith and freedom that brings the best results, not just in education. In US communities with strong religious beliefs and strong attachments to the 2nd Amendment, for instance, crime is virtually non-existant. In that case faith protects internally, while freedom protects from the external threats. It's a combination we used to have in the UK. Now, of course, we have neither. But if you look at the constitutional documents of the 17th century, Freedom of Religion -- ie the free exercise clause of the Constitution -- is the central theme. Secular states have problems. Religious states have problems. States where religion is actively encouraged, but not prescribed, are the happiest by far. The US Supreme Court needs to bear this in mind the next time it weighs the two religion clauses against each other.

You can always rely on the kindness of strangers

... as The Simpsons' musical version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" put it. Grandfather Blogger, Glenn Reynolds, has been running a campaign to get bloglords to pay Pyra (Blogger's parent company) the measly $12 a year to get rid of the ads from blogspot sites. I fully intended to do this, belive me (please!). Then I went to Instapundit this morning to discover this quote from reader Ken Booth:

It might be worth mentioning to your readers that it's not necessary to be a Blogger user to help. Simply clicking on "get rid of this ad" on a Blog*spot site will bring anyone to the payment form. And to prove I'm not all mouth, I've done my part by paying $12 to remove the ad on http://englandssword.blogspot.com/.

Well, thank you Ken. That is very kind of you. I've offered to do the same for Natalie Solent, but I can see some of the more free-market oriented bloggers actually liking the idea of having ads on their site (I'm not fussed), so I'm asking first.

More power to the Instapundit's mouse!


At last! UPI now has a real website with its stories up. Bookmark United Press International: From the News Wire now!

"Iran: part of the Anglosphere" says Clinton

The Atlantic Monthly has a very useful summary of world news called The Hotline World Extra. Today's edition contains this gem:

Ex-Pres. Clinton told the BBC's Dimbleby lecture broadcast that Iran was "one of the most stable countries in the Middle East where there is democracy." Clinton: "The government's very anti-Western but the people aren't in part because they have real elections and real votes." The series of lectures is named after BBC broadcaster Richard Dimbleby and are "designed to challenge presumptions about such issues at the nature of societies, ethnic, education, science, industry and law" (IRNA, 12/17).

They also have a theocratic council which can countermand any decision of the legislature or executive. That's why there've been all the demonstrations at the popular but disapproved of football matches in recent months. This man used to be the leader of the free world, for goodness' sake, and he doesn't know that? Or perhaps the challenging of presumptions that Richard Dimbleby was so good at has now spread to challenging actual fact, because, after all, fact is just a construction of the oppressive white male order...

Dimbleby, of course, would have been the first to challenge this outrageous claim.

Monday, December 17, 2001

Ethnic Cleansing in Indonesia

Christians terrorized by Laskar Jihad, reports The Washington Times in a story I doubt you'll see anywhere else. The spice island of Celebes, now called Sulawesi it seems, is the scene of religious-based ethnic cleansing. Christians are being killed and genitally mutilated as another "jihad" progresses with the rest of the world not caring. At least here, some of the Christians are fighting back:

"In the first two incidents, the Christians turned the other cheek," Mr. Snyder said. "But the Christians told me, 'We only have two cheeks. Jesus never told us what to do after we've turned aside both.'"

This was in response to attacks on Christians during their holy festivals (what was that about cultural sensitivity during Ramadan?):

He cited the 13 Christians killed and more than 500 churches on the island of Java burned down in 1998, followed by a Muslim attack that Christmas Day in Puso, when 180 homes and shops were destroyed.

After another 800 homes, shops and churches of Christians in Poso were destroyed on Easter 2000, the Christians struck back a month later in a battle that left 700 dead and 8,000 homes and shops destroyed.

This sounds like exactly the sort of thing that led to NATO intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo. Is there any chance that the West might see this as an appropriate moment to intervene in Indonesia? Or would that be "extending the war on Islam"? Australia at least has a sound government. I'll be interested to see how they react as this situation progresses.

The Anti-Federalist Paper

As I indicate below, the argument over federalism should be the big one in coming months in the UK. The leading anti-federalist newspaper, the Telegraph, makes a good case in this leader, The federal juggernaut:

This newspaper has long argued that the EU is unsuited to federation. European democracy implies a European demos, which does not exist. States work best when their citizens feel enough in common one with another to accept government from each other's hands.

Only too true. The pretence that this Europe will be a federation of nation-states just won't wash. Already, in many areas, the EU member states have less control than states of the US. Is Virginia a nation-state? Hardly. And we know what happened as a result of ill-defined states' rights in the 19th century. It seems the next war in Europe may be a "War Between the States".

Battle of the Leftist Titans

When the Pentagon was deciding whether or not to release the OBL (UBL?) video nasty, one of the reasons supposedly cited against releasing it was that it might compromise an intelligence source. Not one to let its past history of supporting whistleblowers bother it, the Guardian's sister paper on Sundays, The Observer, has fingered this source:

The focus of suspicion is the Saudi dissident preacher who appears to have taped the interview, conducted according to the timecode on the video on 9 November, in what appears to be a guesthouse in the Afghan city of Kandahar. Though unidentified in the one-hour recording, security sources have told The Observer that the interviewer, who appears to be disabled from the waist down, is Ali Saeed al-Ghamdi, a former assistant professor of theology at a seminary in Mecca...

Al-Ghamdi, who is known to Saudi intelligence services, is a marginal figure who tried to make a name for himself through inflammatory anti-Western speeches before being banned from preaching in 1994, one Saudi close to the government said. In the late Nineties he preached in obscure mosques along the highway leading from the port city of Jedda - where bin Laden grew up - to the holy city of Mecca, but his firebrand oratory drew only small audiences.

But not so fast. The New York Times, happy to lend credence to Saudi officials for a change, identifies the legless wonder as someone completely different:

The official identified the dinner guest as Khaled al-Harbi, a legless former fighter in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya who was not regarded as a religious scholar, and he said earlier accounts by Saudi and American officials naming him as Ali Sayeed al- Ghamdy, a religious scholar, were incorrect.

Unlike Mr. Ghamdy, who had been banned from preaching by the government in 1994, Mr. Harbi has never been arrested by the Saudi government or included on any kind of security watch list, the Saudi official said.

So what about the point that OBL calls this character Suleiman? Ah, the Times has an answer to that:

An initial account of the videotape had identified the Saudi visitor as a Sheik Sulayman, and that name can be heard in one portion of the discussion. As an explanation, the senior Saudi official said that Mr. Harbi was known to have a son named Sulayman, so the father might have been addressed as Abu Sulayman, in accordance with Arab tradition.

Hmmm. I think there's a lot of disinformation floating around out there on this tape. Was it a sting? You'd have thought that a deliberate CIA sting might have involved GPS location of Bin Laden and a visit from a Predator as he left. It's hard to see what real advantage anyone, especially the two "suspects" named by the Observer and the Times, would gain from a third party sting.

All I can say is I hope the Pentagon has a clearer idea of the actors involved than the left's finest journos. If they don't, we'll never find UBL (unless we use the UBL Space Telescope?)*

*Crap joke alert


Useful antidote to media concerns over a recent National Academy of Science report on global climate change at James K. Glassman's Tech Central Station site. It's by Philip Stott, emeritus professor of Biogeography at the University of London. Here are a few points that need to be made more often:

And the alarm won't wash for other powerful scientific reasons. Recent paleogeological research has clearly indicated that carbon dioxide has largely risen following temperature rises, reversing the supposed cause and effect. And that water vapor -- the most important greenhouse gas of all, though you wouldn't guess it from most newspapers -- is far more implicated than carbon dioxide, although water vapor is a devil to model in any meaningful way.

Other useful anti-envirohype sites are Steve Milloy's Junk Science page, although Milloy can be a bit too dismissive, and Stott's own AntiEcohype page, which looks like it was designed 8 years ago...

This has been a public service post from The Edge.

Sunday, December 16, 2001

The full scope of the disaster

Check out the Telegraph's coverage for the full scope of what befell Great Britain at Laeken. This relates to the decision to have an elected President for the Union. Here is my old friend Dan Hannan MEP's comparison of Laeken to the Conventions that formed the United States. A sample:

It is sobering to compare the two events. The Americans were lucky enough to found their republic at the moment in Western political development when respect for personal freedom was reaching its apogee.

The EU, however, is equally a child of its time. Contrast the US Declaration of Independence with the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. Where the one promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the other guarantees our right to "strike action", "affordable housing" and "a high level of social protection".

And this is the Sunday Telegraph's editorial take. The complicity of the Labour government is laid manifest:

It was ever thus. Faced with some new transfer of power to Brussels, the first response of British spokesmen is to try to focus attention on something else: "The real story here is that the European Court has ruled against the French ban on British beef."

When that fails, they try to pretend that there is no support for whatever is being proposed: "No one is actually going to agree to an elected EU President, it's all just excitable rhetoric."

When that, too, becomes unsustainable, they take to claiming that the proposal is actually about something else: "It's not really a constitution; it's an attempt to restrict what the EU can do." And when it becomes obvious that that, too, is untrue, they use their trump card: "This was all decided months ago; it's no use complaining now." And so the process rolls on.

If there were ever a catalyst for action, it is this. Britain should be the scene over the next few years of the largest popular movement for reform since the Chartists. If it fails, then America will know by its maps. England will be nowhere to be seen, and Britain will once again be a mere geographical expression. And a jealous, alien "hyperpower" will once again be looking across the Atlantic with hostile eyes. But this time, America will have no forward bases for its protection.

Blair and Walker...

Who is the bigger traitor? John Walker betrayed his country by joining a country which then engaged in a conspiracy to commit acts of war against the United States. Tony Blair has used the cover of war to give away rights the English have enjoyed since the time of the Plantagenets. Here is Lord Rees-Mogg's summation of Blair's crime:

He has abandoned the principle that British subjects should not be extradited unless a British court has satisfied itself that there is prima facie evidence against the accused, and that the alleged crime exists under British law. These protections derive from the centuries-old writ of habeas corpus, which goes back at least to the reign of Henry III. Habeas corpus is older than parliament; indeed, liberty under the law has been the father of democracy, not the offspring.

What Henry III, or possibly even his grandfather, Henry II, gave England, Tony I has taken away. It is odd to reflect that we are rapidly becoming less free, more exposed to arbitrary state power, than English people who had access to the law in the 13th century.

Charles I was convicted of High Treason for less. This is a crime against the English people such as has never been committed before. In case you can't tell, I am hopping mad over this...

If George Bush has any regard for the Bill of Rights, whose day it was yesterday, he should protest in the strongest possible terms about this villainy to his supposed ally. Both the ACLU and the NRA should ally in protesting to the British ambassador. If Britain, the mother of all liberty in the world, should do this, then our war has been for nothing except a little temporary security. I hope the President will realise this.

Saturday, December 15, 2001

Oopsa cat!

Interesting comment on Libertarian Samizdata on a Damian Penny comment about Glenn Reynolds' cat. There does seem to be a strange synchronicity about the number of cat/dog-related articles and comments appearing. After all, yesterday Jonah Goldberg, probably punchdrunk and reeling from the backlash after his foolish column ineffectually criticizing libertarianism, had this column equating cat-loving with Islamic fundamentalism. Meeow!

I confess, I am an ailurophile. If only the BBC had been able to shell out the dosh needed to shoot the suggested Dr Who episode, The Killer Cats of Gallifrey, my life would have been complete. [And, of course, recent Dr Who fiction has tied that mythos into the Cthuloid mythos, which brings us back to Samizdata...]

Good News and Bad News

Well, this is good news -- Bin Laden's voice detected in Tora Bora, claims the Washington Times. If he is still there, despite all the worries, then I can't see him getting out now. His reich is shrinking daily (perhaps, like one prominent Nazi, he'll claim this is good news because it makes it easier to defend...) and, more to the point, so is his army.

Meanwhile, the EU is claiming that the British-led peacekeeping force will be the first outing for a European Union Army:

Mr Michel told journalists that “the EU is going to set up a multinational force with all member states present”.

Mr Michel went on to claim that all 15 member states had agreed to participate. This was “of capital importance for Europe’s security and defence policy. I think you can say it’s a turning point in the history of the European Union,” he said.

Thankfully, even the Blairites are rubbishing this suggestion. Talk about jumping on the bandwagon.

As an aside, I'm glad to see UPI stories like this one finally getting more exposure. UPI has a great team and once they get their analysis columns up on the web, I'll be linking to a lot of them.

Justice as fairness?

The Telegraph is obviously outraged about the first Governmental definition of "Britishness":Minister of patriotism bows to Brussels rules. This is a trifle tendentious. As I've said here before, the European Convention on Human Rights was drafted by British lawyers. It was a huge, unacknowledged, mistake, but to blame it on Brussels is a bit much. However, the Court in Strasbourg that rules on it is a European construct, in thought and deed.

The Minister's views, however, are typical of a particular problem with Britain as a whole:

Mr Wills, also a minister in the Lord Chancellor's Department, said the "quintessentially British values" of "tolerance and a sense of the importance of fair play" were enshrined in the Human Rights Act, which incorporates the European Convention into British law.

You cannot incorporate fair play into law. It is by its very nature extra-statutory. The classic definition of fair play is the practice of "walking" in cricket. That is when the batsman gets the barest of touches (an "edge") on the ball before it is caught by a fielder. The only person who really knows whether or not he hit the ball is the batsman. The fielding side normally appeal to the umpire, who has to decide. Walking takes that decision away from the umpire, as the batsman acknowledges his touch and leaves the field without having to be formally given out by the umpire. That is fair play. It cannot be dealt with in the Laws of Cricket, and its non-sporting equivalents cannot be legislated for. Fair play is a cultural and psychological phenomenon, not a legal one. It is the belief that everything can be dealt with by legislation -- a belief that the Conservatives were equally prone to -- that has helped kill off fair play.

Moreover, the HRA is by no means a full expression of traditional liberties. Where is the defence against self-crimination? Where is the surety of the right of self-defence? Where is the entrenchment of Trial by Jury? All three are essential British liberties, but inconvenient to New Labour.

This is a poor suggestion by the Minister, and I imagine the people will treat it with the same contempt as the Telegraph.

Well, that went well

At least I think it did. I managed to get across the idea that Europols are ignoring their people's wishes, but didn't manage to say why, but that's what you get in a 5 minute interview. I've got an article on this subject currently being hawked aroundvarious newspapers but if that doesn't work, I'll get in placed on a website somewhere. Watch this space.

Friday, December 14, 2001

Murray on Fox

Well, following my triumphant appearence on Armstrong Williams' show yesterday (finally!), I am getting up early tomorrow to appear on Fox News Channel at 8:30am EST. Subject: European attitudes to the death penalty. Our media director initially told me that I would be being interviewed by O'Reilly. Having changed my trousers, I was then informed this was a joke. Some joke. It's my first real TV appearence so it'll probably be a disaster with or without "Tiger" O'Reilly (and I bet Tim Blair is the only one who gets that reference...) I'll try to let you know how it went, assuming my confidence isn't blown to smithereens.

Caution: Precaution at work

Very useful analysis by my friend Dr John Hulsman on How to Improve U.S.-EU Trade Relations. John has most of the issues exactly right, especially in reference to the recommendation to pursue a policy of free trade by any means if a new global free trade round does not occur.

On one point, however, the problem is more wide-ranging than trade:

... the EU is stalling, attempting to link talks on liberalizing agriculture policy to environmental and food safety issues. It wants the WTO to recognize its "precautionary principle" as a basis for limiting agricultural imports into Europe. Under this principle, the EU claims the right to ban the import of products if there is an uncertainty or the possibility of a health or environmental hazard, even in the absence of scientific evidence to substantiate such claims. Current WTO policy allows countries to block the import of products only when science supports such claims.

Worldwide reaction to the EU's demand is clear. The precautionary principle is seen as a way for the EU to maintain an inefficient and overly subsidized farming sector.

If only it were. Unfortunately, the precautionary principle is rapidly gaining ground as the most important element in science's approach to public policy, and vice versa. It is the rope with which the Gulliver of science will be pinned down by the Lilliputians of the anti-modernist movements. Environmentalists, vegans, luddites, food fascists, all of the so-called "progressive" (ha!) persuasion regard scientific experimentation of any sort as too dangerous, except in the case of experimentation on human embryos, which is fine. Yes, science is often dangerous, but the risks in so many cases are heavily outweighed by the benefits that result.

Perhaps those "scientists" who espouse the precautionary principle should be made to do without fire, which kills so many each year, or any of its descendents like electricity. They could go and sit in a cave (like another of their kind) and watch the world they want to see in flickering shadows on the wall while the rest of us get on with life in the world outside.

Bobby belting the ball

Armando Iannucci's Notebook today laments modern society's short attention span and the urge to do something new all the time. Exhibit B is the BBC's "Sports Personality of the Year" programme, traditionally a celebration of sporting highlights. This year, apparently, they turned it into a musical celebration of sporting diversity, or some other idiocy like that. Armando's image of disapproval from England's Greatest Living Footballer is priceless:

Bobby Charlton looks like he might go and kick someone. I imagine Charlton running out, finding the media graduate responsible, and picking up a wad of demographics and pushing it deep into the executive's ear.

If only he had, if only he had...

Well, this makes me swear

More Blairite double-standards. The British government is considering making immigrants swear an oath of allegiance to the UK. But they're considering waiving the requirement for an MP to swear allegiance in order to accomodate the IRA's spokesmen. This Telegraph leader says it all:

BY refusing to swear or affirm the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen, Sinn Fein's four elected MPs are saying in effect that they do not go along with this British democracy lark.

They deny the legitimacy of the state in which the Queen-in-Parliament is sovereign, and in whose political system they have chosen to dabble. Although they are happy to claim all the perks of British citizenship, they want at the same time to be seen as belonging outside the system.

Perhaps the difference is that this oath is to Her Majesty? It seems that one set of republicans is conspiring with another set of republicans for mutual benefit. It would not surprise me in the least if the new oath for immigrants contained no mention of the Monarch. That would be like having oaths in the US with no mention of the Constitution. This is, as usual with the Blairites, outrageous.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Osama Doing Stir

Mark Steyn has another excellent column in The Spectator, of which Boris is editor. I find it slightly surprising that Boris would write his piece below after editing this:

The Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, has said that Britain would not extradite bin Laden to the US without assurances that he would not face the death penalty. Here’s the response I’d give Her Majesty’s Government if I were the US Attorney-General: fine, you keep him. Put Osama on trial, he’ll have the jurors killed. Put him in Brixton or Pentonville, and the citizens of whichever country’s holding him will be seized in Palestine, Saudi, Kuwait, Egypt or Belgium and held hostage until he’s released. So, if you and your EU pals want to preen that badly, you can explain it to the loved ones of your own kidnapped nationals.

Having said that, I think any Attorney-General who did say 'keep him' wouldn't last long. If there's one thing this war is about, it's justice (which, for the benefit of the Guardian readers out there, is different from vengeance) for the people of New York. They can get that in a number of ways, but a trial at the Old Bailey (for what?) isn't one of them.

Steyn's main point, though, is clear:

September 11 was a call to moral seriousness. You cannot compromise with a shark, you cannot negotiate with a suicide bomber. And, if you can’t see that, you must have rocks in your head, and it wasn’t the Afghans who put ’em there.

Wanted: Dead

Boris Johnston writes with his usual eloquence in his latest Telegraph column, Bin Laden should die, but we must try him first. He conjures up an arresting scenario, set amid the ruins of Tora Bora:

It is Osama bin Laden, badly injured, and against all predictions, he is trying to surrender. The man who encouraged demented young men to take their own lives is making a pitiful attempt to save his own.

What do you do? Do you blow him away? You could sort of accidentally squeeze the trigger and pow, no more bin Laden; and if you did, there is hardly a person in the West who would condemn you.

To be sure, there would be long editorials in the Guardian, denouncing the shoot to kill policy of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, and John Pilger would accuse you of being a war criminal.

But almost every other well-adjusted member of the human race, on hearing that bin Laden had been whacked accidentally-on-purpose by the SAS in a mountain cave would conclude that it could not have happened to a nicer guy.

But Boris decides it would be best not to shoot, and advances arguments against most of the points that have been made against a trial of the Turbaned One. He is too quick to dismiss the forensic arguments against securing conviction, and does not address the legal arguments surrounding the due process of a fair trial. How can we hope to produce an unprejudiced jury, for instance? Technicalities abound more in US law than in English, and some lawyer will be found willing to exploit them.

No, Boris is as wrong here as he was about Ken Clarke. The SAS man would be more realistic, I hope.

The Sleeping Lion

Just as keeping Israel quiet during the Gulf War was important, so has keeping India quiet during the current crisis. Looks like that's about to change. According to the Telegraph, eleven have been killed in an armed attack on the Indian Parliament. The Indians are not happy:

"[Home Minister] Advani said the attack on the country's highest legislative body would spur the Indian people to fight off terrorism. "As a nation, the people will be aroused.

"Our feelings of nationalism and patriotism have been fired. This attack would cost our attackers heavily," he said. Advani said the attack was similar to one in October on the state assembly in Srinagar, in northern Jammu-Kashmir state, where Islamic militants have been fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan for 12 years.

Given the increasing likelihood that Osama and Omar have left Afghanistan and are possibly heading for Kashmir, Pakistan now becomes the focus. If General Musharraf can solve his own Islamic problem and deliver up the fugitives, things will look good. If he can't, an all-out India-Pakistan war will probably result as kashmir explodes. Osama, and many others, may yet get nuked, but not by the US.

Gettez-vous avec le program!

(Yes, I was a fan of Miles Kingston's Let's Parler Franglais). Superb editorial in the Wall Street Journal Europe, French for 'Consular Protection,' (link for WSJ subscribers only, I fear) pointing out the imbecility of the French declaration that Zac Moussaoui is under their protection:

When American tourists go to Britain they drive on the left, when Britons go to France they forfeit some constitutional provisions about the presumption of innocence, and when French citizens go to the U.S. with the intention of killing thousands of innocents they risk facing the electric chair. This is the way things are. France's pretension that by extending yesterday its "consular protection" to terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui it prevents his eventual execution is groundless in law.

The Vienna Convention gives France basically only the right to make sure he's correctly treated. It has nothing to do with the penalty he faces. The French pronouncement is another example of France's vaunting legalistic supranationalism. The "cheese eating surrender monkies" (thank you, Rand, for reminding me of that Simpsons classic), having failed to spread their technocratic system by conquest, are trying to spread it by a combination of treaties (the EU and ICC) and moral snootiness.

Best thing about this whole story, of course, is that Zac rejected the French offer. Ho ho.

Constitutions: to write or not to write?

Steven Den Beste, Captain of USS Clueless has an interesting dialogue with a Dutch correspondent about European misunderstanding of America. There are a lot of good points here and it's well worth a read.

Nevertheless, I think there are good points to not having a "written" constitution. The US Constitution essentially has two purposes: first, and this was the original idea, to prescribe forms of government and entrench separation of powers. Second, it guarantees rights and liberties that the government may not interfere with. I think the second part is a far more valid thing to have set in stone than the first. The great virtue of an "unwritten" constitution is its flexibility (in fact, most of the British constitution is written -- properly thought of, the British constitution is the totality of laws, treaties, charters and conventions that describe Britain's way of doing things) and I personally think this is a valuable thing at times. Churchill, for instance, was able to use this flexibility to great effect in the last war.

Moreover, the British constitution does ensure a more democratic outcome than the American judicial supremacy that the Constitution has produced (wrongly, by my reading). Executive accountability, as I have mentioned before, is also more deeply entrenched by the British settlement than in the American (the 1979[?] introduction of Select Committees with genuine power over the Executive is a case in point). I have a problem with judges deciding everything, up to and including elections, which, thankfully, has not been the case in the UK (if an election is close, we just hold another one).

Of course, all this depends on the Executive actually respecting the unwritten conventions that bind together the written parts of the constitution. Blair and his crew have repeatedly ignored these conventions, on the ground that they're not "modern" in a lot of cases.

As for Rights, I strongly believe that the UK needs a proper written declaration of liberties that cannot be messed about by Parliament. We already have two of those in Magna Carta and the Declaration of Right, which, as contracts between the Monarch and the People, are unrepealable by Parliament. Sadly, they are wholly out of date and the misuse of interpretative statute law has diluted their effect. It is time for a new contract, upheld by oaths or some other means of ensuring that the Will of Parliament cannot interfere. Unfortunately, the only way we've ever secured one of these contracts is by massive civil disturbance.

None of this should be read as implying that I think the UK constitution superior to the US Constitution. I don't, but I think it has some better points. It is also important to bear in mind that very few Brits understand the way their constitution is supposed to work.

Finally, I think it's important to stress the significance of Juries. In many systems, juries are accompanied by experts who ensure that the jury does not find contrary to the law. This is alien to the Anglosphere system which, in giving complete power to 12 "good men and true" allows for popular nullification. If the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary have all conspired to do something horrid, juries act as the ultimate check and balance. If charges are routinely dismissed despite obvious guilt, then the Constitutionally-sanctioned power of all three branches of government is worthless. That's why Trial by Jury must be defended as the most important liberty of all (sorry, Steven, the First Amendment, magnificent though it is, must pale beside this Magna Carta right).

With that, adieu, lest our old robes sit easier than our new.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Berry's Knot Farm

The US Commission on Civil Rights scandal continues to resemble Scottish Trade Union politics. A USA Today columnist yesterday wrote a defense of Mary Frances Berry's refusal to seat the newly- and duly-appointed commissioner in order to keep one of her placemen on board. Today, the excellent John J. Miller on National Review Online reveals that the columnist in question, DeWayne Wickham,

... worked as a special assistant to Dr. Mary Frances Berry, who ran federal education programs in the Carter administration before the creation of the Department of Education.

The Boston Globe suspended Jeff Jacoby for an equally significant omission. Expect Wickham, however, to keep writing.

Blairite two-facedness

Not only is Tony Blair two-faced, but he hides the ugly face behind unaccountable personnel. We've always known of his willingness to announce bad news via his "Official Spokesman" and his government's tendency to blame apolitical civil servants for political mistakes, but now he uses the Chief of the Defence Staff, a career military man, to criticize US tactics. This Telegraph leader - Admiral all at sea - sums up the disgraceful episode, particularly in this sense:

The subtly anti-American tone of Adml Boyce's address, with its cheap cowboy imagery - "this is not a high-tech 21st-century posse, in the new Wild West" - was worthier of a Labour backbencher seeking to make a name on Question Time than a CDS.

It is also shameful of the Admiral to allow himself to be used in this way. Perhaps he should look for that metaphorical pearl-handled revolver.

Just how screwed up are Daschle and his ilk?

Interesting analysis of New Labour's approach to current home policy in this Janet Daley article:

Social authoritarianism on the streets and socialist economics at the Treasury may sound like a case of multiple personality disorder to Western liberal ears, but it is not without political precedent.

It was, after all, the formula of eastern bloc politics for most of the past century. The assumption that people want civic and economic safety more than they want anything else - including freedom, privacy or self-determination - can keep you in power for a long time.

The trouble is that it only works with poor people. Or rather, in a society in which many are poor and a few are very corrupt - which was the prescription in the old Soviet societies.

At least Blair and co have got a reasonably coherent, if doomed, strategy here. Compare and contrast the Daschle-Leahey strategy: social authoritarianism in airports and your neighborhood, liberalism for suspected terrorists and tax-spend-and-pork (thank you Senator Byrd) in appropriations. That's got to be a vote loser.

BTW, the coalition of the very poor and very corrupt point: remind you of anyone?

Education, education, education

Ghettos are the problem: grammar schools the answer is Ray Honeyford's contribution to the debate over mutliculturalism in Britain. He makes a good case:

Another factor is the inner-city, non-selective neighbourhood schools. These are misleadingly described as comprehensive, but they are comprehensive neither in terms of pupil ability nor social class. In some areas what the Americans call "white flight" occurs, and this flight includes the Asian professional class. The result is that local schools become mono-racial and working class.

However, we should have overcome both class and racial barriers, and cross-racial friendships would have been the norm, if a different system of education had been retained. If grammar schools had been allowed to flourish, integration would have been achieved, at least in those schools catering for the brightest children from all communities - the community's future leaders.

True, elitist meritocracy does provide a way out of the ghetto -- as the flight point indicates. But what of those who are left in the ghetto? The professional African-American classes are as integrated as any professional Italian-American (perhaps more so), but the ghettoes are where the separatist culture breeds. At least Muslim Britons have struggled to retain close family structures (although Theodore Dalrymple provides ample anecdotal evidence that even that culture is breaking down in successive generations).

It is Honeyford's next points that are more important:

In any case, one might reasonably imagine that schools would seek to emphasise things British, so as to overcome the tendency to separatism. If Asian children are not to be locked into an "us and them" mentality, they obviously need to become familiar with English, and with British history, British institutions and British behavioural norms. Then they could become, and feel themselves to be, British subjects.

But far too many local education authorities have encouraged the opposite approach, not least Bradford, which for many years has attempted to impose on the schools a futile and arid multicultural educational policy. (Is it a coincidence that Bradford finished at the bottom of the recent league tables?)


Moreover, Asian attachment to this country and its culture has not been assisted by the constant allegation from the race relations industry that we are a nation rotted with endemic institutional racism.

This is the heart of the matter. The breakdown in public order is directly attributable to the fact that not only is the reason why the rule of law matters not taught in our schools, but that it is in fact excoriated as the oppressive confine of a society that is unjust and outdated.

Not only does the race relations industry have to be abolished, not only has the institution of the grammar school to be brought back, but also the very roots of our teacher-training establishment have to be dug up. Until we have teachers who are commited to the idea of producing children who understand and can contribute to a healthy, self-loving society we will continue to face problems like the ones we have this year. The same goes for America, but I think America is more likely to bite the bullet.

If we need a model, well, the dissolution of the monasteries worked...

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

The Real People of the Year

UPI Columnist Jim Bennett has an excellent suggestion:

There is now some discussion that Osama bin Laden may be nominated Time's Man of the Year. As you may recall, the criterion for that honor is to be the person who had the biggest impact on events during the past year.

It would be worthwhile to spread the meme, via emails, postings, and weblogs, that the nomination ought to go to the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty. At that point the Era of the Victim Fighting Back began.

Osama's shadow on history is short. The shadow of the heroes of Flight 93 will be long. They deserve the nomination as People of the Year.

A very good idea. Even if Time isn't interested and goes for the outrage factor, perhaps we webloggers could set up "The Bloggies" and make the award ourselves.