Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Well, here we go again. The Press Association reports that Richard Benyon, the current Fisheries Minister is unhappy with the CFP and wants it reformed. Indeed, he assures us or somebody that the UK will speak "with one voice" when it demands that reform though he neglects to tell us that other voices, those of other member states will have as much say as the UK's. The Spanish Minister of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs also thinks there should be changes but not necessarily reforms. She merely think quotas and total allowable catch (TAC), the system that has destroyed a good deal of fish and fisheries wherever the EU has any say on the matter, should be adjusted according to scientific reports.
And to prove how much he understand Richard Benyon added:
This is the UK's most economically important fishery, contributing £140 million to the economy, and is of particular importance to Scotland. The sustainability of this well-managed stock must not be put at risk by the setting of unrealistic and irresponsible quotas. I am clear that Iceland and the Faroe Islands must cooperate with other countries to effectively manage this vital fish stock.Or, in other words, this is disastrous, appallingly managed system that has caused a great deal of social, economic and environmental damage; therefore Iceland and the Faroe Islands must be persuaded to take part in it. Otherwise, they might be more successful than we have been.
Meanwhile, over in the House of Lords, that "quango" as the Boy-King and Douglas Carswell MP seem to think it is, Lord Stoddart of Swindon has asked another pertinent question:
To ask Her Majesty's Government , further to the Written Statement by Lord Henley on 22 June (WS 101) on reform of the common fisheries policy, whether they will propose that the responsibility for fisheries policy is returned to member states.It has long been clear to anyone who has even thought about the subject that there is no other way of managing fisheries successfully in a sustainable way.
Among those who have ever thought about the subject we cannot count the Coalition government or its members, the Lib-Dims and the party formerly known as Conservative:
We need to move on from the current centralised common fisheries policy (CFP) that attempts to micromanage fishermen's daily activities. In negotiations on the reform of the CFP, the UK will press for radical change that provides for serious devolution of decision-making, and simplification, to improve fisheries management. While it may be appropriate for genuinely strategic decisions to be taken at EU level, because many fish stocks are shared between various member states, more responsibility for implementation can, and should, be devolved to member states.In other words, we shall do nothing but continue to whine and pretend that we have any knowledge or understanding of the subject, not to mention the political courage to tackle it.
The United Kingdom's interests are represented through its membership in various international institutions and fora. Information regarding the UK's financial relationship with a particular institution is a matter for the relevant government department.And pop goes the weasel or, in this case, the country.
The Government's latest estimate of the UK's gross contribution to the European Union, after taking account of the UK abatement, was published in Table 3, page 62, of the 2009 European Community Finances White Paper (Cm 7640). This was published on 20 July 2009 and is available in the Library of the House. The figure for 2008 is £7,791 million and the estimate for 2009 is £7,770 million.
Information on UK financial contributions to the IMF is available on a net basis for 2008-09 in the Government's latest report to Parliament on the UK and the IMF, published in June 2009. Quota subscriptions determine the amount a member country can be asked to lend to the IMF. The UK's net contribution under its quota subscription was £1,134 million in 2008-09. The UK also provided £624,000 in grants in 2008-09 to support the IMF's work in low-income countries.
Information for the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are matters for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The relevant information is available in the FCO's annual report. The most recent annual report shows that for 2009-10 the FCO's budgeted provision for the Commonwealth Secretariat was £4.6 million, for the UN regular budget was £75.6 million and for the OECD was £12.5 million.
Information on the World Trade Organisation is a matter for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The WTO subscription for the calendar year 2009 was £6,061,004 (Swiss Francs 9,652,149) paid on 26 January 2009.
Information on the World Bank is a matter for the Department for International Development. Data on UK financial contributions to the World Bank are available for 2008-09 in Statistics on International Development 2009 on the DfID website. In 2008-09 the UK contributed £524.8 million to the International Development Association and £49.8million for multilateral debt relief contributions to the World Bank. In addition, the UK contributed £595 million to trust funds which are administered by the World Bank.
There was a written question from Lord Stoddart of Swindon on June 24:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that any proposals from the committee on House of Lords reform for a wholly or partly elected second chamber will be accompanied by a re-allocation of powers to each chamber and the repeal of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949.This is a perfectly rational question and an important point that HMG will have to think about when it presents its, no doubt, badly worded, Bill for the reform of the Upper House. Apparently, so far they have not done so. Lord McNally's reply was short of logical thinking:
The Government believe that the basic relationship between the two Houses, as set out in the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, should continue when the House of Lords is reformed.Ahem, the basic relationship between the two Houses was brought into law in 1911 and 1949 (and, as a matter of fact, there is some doubt about the full legality of the latter Act) because the Upper House was unelected and could, therefore, be regarded as somewhat inferior. But if both Houses are elected then what is the justification for regarding one of them of greater importance than the other?
Friday, June 25, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
While The NY Times and others portray this as a loss for Israel, which had to bow to world pressure, in reality this outcome would represent a victory for Israel because the most important goal of the blockade -- the inspection of all goods whether brought by land or sea to prevent military supplies -- now has international legitimacy.In the meantime, the various ships promised or threatened have not arrived from Iran and the ones from Lebanon do not even seem to have left port. I remain convinced that in Turkey this stunt has strengthened the secularists but, of course, we need to watch what happens in that country during the summer.
To the extent there were purely consumer goods which were barred, such system was ineffective and senseless anyway, and Israel loses nothing by loosening up.
The naval blockade is not affected, which is the key because it was by sea that Iran was planning on supplying Hamas with more effective and deadly military supplies. Such supplies cannot get through on land in the quantities and size Hamas desires, although many smaller military supplies do get through smuggling tunnels.
Also unaffected are so-called "dual use" supplies, such as concrete, which Hamas desperately wants to build fortifications.
Monday, June 21, 2010
This is something new in the world, this almost complete segregation of Israel in the community of nations. And if Helen Thomas's remarks were pathetic and ugly, didn't they also point to the end game of this isolation effort: the nullification of Israel's legitimacy as a nation? There is a chilling familiarity in all this. One of the world's oldest stories is playing out before our eyes: The Jews are being scapegoated again.Read the whole piece. Well worth it.
"World opinion" labors mightily to make Israel look like South Africa looked in its apartheid era—a nation beyond the moral pale. And it projects onto Israel the same sin that made apartheid South Africa so untouchable: white supremacy. Somehow "world opinion" has moved away from the old 20th century view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a complicated territorial dispute between two long-suffering peoples. Today the world puts its thumb on the scale for the Palestinians by demonizing the stronger and whiter Israel as essentially a colonial power committed to the "occupation" of a beleaguered Third World people.
Our problem in the West is understandable. We don't want to lose more moral authority than we already have. So we choose not to see certain things that are right in front of us. For example, we ignore that the Palestinians—and for that matter much of the Middle East—are driven to militancy and war not by legitimate complaints against Israel or the West but by an internalized sense of inferiority. If the Palestinians got everything they want—a sovereign nation and even, let's say, a nuclear weapon—they would wake the next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority. For better or for worse, modernity is now the measure of man.
And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. The problem is not me; it is them. And in my victimization I enjoy a moral and human grandiosity—no matter how smart and modern my enemy is, I have the innocence that defines victims. I may be poor but my hands are clean. Even my backwardness and poverty only reflect a moral superiority, while my enemy's wealth proves his inhumanity.
Based on more than 94 percent of voting stations reporting, Komorowski had 41.22 percent of the votes and Kaczynski had 36.74 percent, the State Electoral Commission said. Turnout there was 54.85 percent.The low turn-out is a little surprising, given the circumstances. Full results are expected later today.
Friday, June 18, 2010
This European Council, its participants and those who create the agenda as well as write the documents in the full knowledge that directives and regulations will follow, continues to assume that jobs, growth, economic development are all created by instructions from above. Undoubtedly, they will have those score boards as well. They did with the Lisbon Strategy. If you get more than three ticks you have achieved .... precisely nothing in real terms but a great deal as far as the euro-bureaucracy is concerned.
You have to scroll some way down to find the important paragraphs, though:
Financial Stability, economic governance and stability of financial systemThe aim is, as we have been predicting all this time, to use this crisis as a beneficial one for the furtherance of the project. However, it is looking a little more doubtful as to whether they will succeed.
European Council agreed on the need to enhance economic governance, in particular as regards budgetary and broader macroeconomic surveillance, and set forth the necessary rules to be implemented and the orientations to be met in so doing.
The necessary reforms to restore the soundness and stability of the European financial system is one more element highlighted by the Council to be completed urgently. The resilience and transparency of the banking sector must be ensured, an the he EU must demonstrate its determination to bring about a safer, sounder, more transparent and more responsible financial system.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I just watched her vis a vis Bill O'Reilly following the One's pronouncements on the oil spill, you know, where the Big O addresses the Big O, and let me tell you my immediate impression. Put aside Greta Van Susteren's recent impertinent question to the governor as to whether she's had breast implants. What is overwhelmingly obvious is that this is a woman who possesses a more common-sense intellect and bigger cojones than O'Reilly, Obama and any other male power figure I can name.Word is that the lady is coming to the UK and will be meeting Lady T herself. Now there is a conversation one would like overhear.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The fact that "the moments when the Israeli soldiers were beaten up," as Hürriyet put it, were published in a Turkish newspaper of all places is the climax of a bizarre war of interpretation that pro-Palestinian activists and the Israeli government have been waging against each other ever since the deadly raid.There could be some very serious developments in Turkey in the near future.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan railed against Israel's "banditry and piracy." But Hürriyet belongs to the media group of entrepreneur Aydin Dogan which has been critical of the government in the past. Initially, Dogan's newspapers had criticized the Israeli raid just like Turkey's pro-government papers. But since then they have been warning against excessive Israel bashing and against the prime minister's increasingly authoritarian style of government.
President Obama doesn't like the fact that the Gulf oil spill reminds people of Hurricane Katrina, since the public response to that catastrophe hastened the decline of his predecessor's standing. He'd prefer that the American people be reminded of something else -- something that rallied people around their president.After explaining that the only thing the two events have in common is nothing, Mr Podhoretz adds:
And so he told Politico over the weekend that the oil spill has "echoes of 9/11."
Americans thought differently about "our vulnerabilities" after the events of 9/11, Obama said, and the oil spill is "going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come."
This is, not to put too fine a point on it, one of the most bizarre things ever said by any president.
Of course the fact that 9/11 would prove to be a net political benefit for George W. Bush was not the result of happenstance. It was due to the way he responded.Obama's problem is that he is trying to make BP into a villain whose actions deliberately created the situation and he is doing it in order to bolster his own position. But despite the few nasty attacks fuelled by the President's rhetoric, it is obvious to all that this was an appalling accident and BP is trying to do everything it can to deal with the damage (often hindered by political decisions or lack of them).
After a few days of discomfiting uncertainty, Bush found his voice and his purpose, delivering a series of powerful speeches that suggested a seriousness of purpose in regard to his presidential responsibilities that no one had actually expected of him.
Whatever happened afterward to shake that perspective on him in the minds of so many, the fact was that Bush had to meet the moment to secure the political advantage.
Democracy could ‘collapse’ in Greece, Spain and Portugal unless urgent action is taken to tackle the debt crisis, the head of the European Commission has warned.How odd. I thought being part of the European Union meant that those European values among which democracy and human rights come top are secure for ever. You mean member states are capable of reverting to their own historical precedents? Who knew?
In an extraordinary briefing to trade union chiefs last week, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso set out an ‘apocalyptic’ vision in which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe could fall victim to military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and public services collapse because their governments run out of money.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The announcement quoted Mohammad Ali Nouraee, an aid official, who said one cargo will be sent to Turkey, and then shipped to Gaza from Istanbul while the other will leave from the port of Khorramshahr.In addition three Iranian members of the Majlis are planning to visit Gaza through Egypt and the Egyptian government has announced that they will let them through the crossing at Rafah. Of course, they will. The wall is there to protect Egypt from the Gazan Palestinians not to protect the latter from Iranian parliamentarians.
Nouraee said that the ships would sail without protective security because the Iranians “do not want to fight", however he emphasized that "we are willing to become martyred in this way.”
According to IRNA, a senior official of the the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Deputy Commander Hossein Salami, has said that escorting the two cargo ships "was not on the guards agenda."
However, on the strategic level, Turkey lost. The blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was Turkey's main objective, is not lifted. Israel had shown Turkey that it was ready to pay the diplomatic price for defeating Turkey's goal in Gaza. In co-ordination with Israel, Egypt also eased some of the restrictions on travel by land from Gaza to Sinai, but it maintained the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Finally, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, conveyed the same message. In his meeting with Obama at the White House last Wednesday, Abbas insisted that Hamas should not emerge as the victor from Operation Sea Breeze.I think the expression that best sums it all up is the old military one of SNAFU. But I don't think Israel is the biggest loser - that has to be, once again, the Palestinians.
Finally, and as a result of fast consultations among all concerned, the moderate Arab countries have now re-entered the Gaza scene, after three years of absence. They realized that their absence created a void that Turkey was trying fast to fill. It is in this context that we should see the current visit of Amr Mussa, the secretary general of the Arab League to the Gaza Strip. In his discussions with Hamas local leaders, Mussa is trying to convince them to reconcile with Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Egyptian plan. Mussa's message has also a regional meaning: It is a message to Turkey and Iran that the Sunni Arab world will never agree to a non-Arab country dominating the Middle East.
The conclusion that the differences of opinion between Germany and France were more than just a passing phenomenon, that they were deep-seated, finally became clear during the economic and currency crisis. France wants a common European economic government for the 16 euro-zone countries, complete with its own administration. And this is precisely what Germany does not want.This fits with the point I have made over and over again: the EU is predicated on a guilty and subservient Germany. With time going on and new generations, who cannot even recall the war, appear on the scene (and in Merkel's case there is the added point of growing up under the Communist system) guilt and subservience can no longer be relied on and the Franco-German motor, which presupposed French supremacy is now sputtering. In many ways, that is more important than the Greek or Spanish fiscal crises.
Merkel wants to discuss budgetary discipline and austerity measures with the French, while Sarkozy says that all of these savings plans will just exacerbate the recession. Germany is calling for chronic deficit spenders to be penalized, possibly even excluded from the euro zone. France considers this a violation of the European idea.
Sarkozy even avoids using the word rigueur, or budgetary discipline, altogether. Meanwhile, the French social insurance system alone faces a €30 billion ($36.6 billion) debt this year, and the country's budget deficit is forecast to be €156 billion. France's foreign trade declined by 17 percent in 2009.
The relationship between France and Germany is and has long been burdened by classic conflicts and controversies. In France, growth is traditionally based on consumption, while the German economy grows through exports. The French, as has long been the case, are not big on saving: The government in Paris hasn't balanced its budget in three decades.
To make matters worse, the much-touted "equilibrium of disequilibrium" (l'équilibre du déséquilibre) between the two countries has shifted. France was long a giant, politically speaking, but a dwarf economically, while the situation was reversed in Germany. Both positions shaped their relations for decades, as German chancellors set aside national interests to demonstrate their solidarity with the French partner. Merkel, however, has taken a different tone for months, marking a paradigm shift in Germany's European policy.
A proposal for a resolution will be put forward on Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, this weekend that the application for membership of the European Union should be withdrawn. It is initiated by Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, MP for the conservative Independence Party, and supported by a large group of MPs from various political parties represented in the parliament.The proposal may not be voted for it this time, as the Deputies are preparing for their summer hols but it will be there, to be reprised, if necessary in the autumn.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Belgium has begun the search for a coalition government after right-wing Flemish separatists won Sunday's parliamentary election. Final official results released by the national electoral commission on Monday show that the New Flemish Alliance (NVA) secured 27 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament, up from just eight seats in 2007.Probably not, but it the count-down must have started. After all,
The NVA, led by 39-year-old Bart De Wever, ultimately wants to split the wealthy Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north from Belgium's poorer, French-speaking region of Wallonia in the south. De Wever passionately advocates the end of Belgium, calling its six million Dutch-speakers and 4.5 million Francophones a "hopeless mismatch." Linguistic disputes have long hounded Belgium and dominated the election campaign. But a split-up of Belgium after this election is unlikely.
Due to linguistic, political and economic differences, Belgium has had four governments and three prime ministers since 2007.As ever, in Belgium, it is the King's constitutional duty to find some kind of a solution. The man must be getting heartily sick of the whole subject.
The success of Mr. Wilders highlights the difficulties faced by mainstream politicians across Europe in dealing with the rise of populists and extremists: Include them and you have to take on board their unsavory policies; exclude them and end up increasing their appeal to protest voters.Is Professor Houtman listening to himself? Is he really saying that there is something wrong with highlighting issues like freedom of speech, female equality and gay rights? Is that what he teaches at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam? And does he really think that if that excludes Muslims from the Dutch political consensus then it is the consensus, which developed from ideas of enlightenment that based itself on the work of humanists like Erasmus that should change?
Such a dilemma would have been unthinkable here a decade ago, when the Netherlands was as renowned for the dull, consensual predictability of its politics, as for its profusion of canals.
But the 2002 assassination of Mr. Fortuyn by an animal rights activist convulsed the country. Two years later, after making a documentary fiercely critical of Islam, Theo Van Gogh, was also killed in broad daylight.
Dick Houtman, a professor of political sociology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, said that Mr. Wilders had built on Mr. Fortuyn’s legacy, successfully avoiding the overtly racist language of far-right politicians in other countries by highlighting issues like freedom of speech, female equality and gay rights.
“That serves to exclude Muslims from the Dutch political consensus,” he said.
It then gets worse. The first paragraph states:
The European Council is set to meet this coming Thursday and Friday. This meeting was meant to be an IGC but it has since been watered down due to a variety of reasons that we do not officially know yet. An IGC meeting would potentially trigger an EU referendum in the UK because by calling the meeting an IGC it would be forced to legally make amendment proposals to the current treaty. And that would cause great chaos at the moment. But this European Council meeting might just cause chaos on its own.While there are helpful links in the text, there is a clear lack of knowledge or understanding. The European Council always meets around this time of the year as one presidency is coming to an end and another one will be starting on July 1.
There was never the slightest chance of an IGC at this point. There are various rules as to how an Inter-Governmental Conference is assembled and none of them had been activated. Furthermore, it takes many months for an IGC to take place; it is not simply called when a routine European Council is about to meet with a week or so to spare.
Then we get the obligatory references to Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell and finally the following interesting comment:
Someone recently commented that Direct Democracy was banging on an on about Europe and it was a bit tiresome. If we don't talk about this who will? At least Dan Hannan will, no doubt, continue to write about it. And Douglas Carswell too. But if we all want the UK to grow strong and climb out of the current financial crisis, then groups like Direct Democracy need to make sure that the Coalition Government doesn't u-turn on their promise to keep the UK sovereign. Remember, they promised, "No further transfer of sovereignty over next parliament..." to the European Union.Goodness me! So if it were not for Direct Democracy, clearly a front organization for the Conservative Party or a couple of Conservative politicians nobody would ever talk about "Europe". Is that so? Well, well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. (I shall not quote what the Boss said when I read the paragraph out to him. This is a family-friendly blog.)
Just one final point: Direct Democracy seems unhappy with the fact that the Coalition government is not living up to the eurosceptic propaganda of the election campaign. Dear me. Remind me who was the politician-cum-journalist-cum-clogger who told us over and over again that if you really wanted results over the European issue you should vote Conservative because Cameron and Hague will deliver? Step forward Daniel Hannan MEP.
Going home on Saturday evening I encountered hundreds of fans draped in England flags; they were shouting, screaming, chanting, whistling and so on. I assumed that England had won her first game and shrugged my shoulders. Beating the US ought not to be too difficult as football (or soccer as they call it on the other side of the Pond) is a relatively new interest there. In any case, it was only the first game. What will happen later on I wondered. Then I found out that far from winning, England had drawn and had not actually performed particularly well. Yet the fans were hysterical. I rest my case.
My week-end was taken up by a second visit to the National Portrait Gallery's splendid free exhibition of the Indian Portrait (on for another week) and a relatively quick wander round the new Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy on Saturday. All I can say about the latter is that it is largely inoffensive with a few interesting works. Anyone who happens to be passing the RA needs only to walk into the courtyard where the best of those works are: no fewer than three Hares by the late Barry Flanagan RA. My favourite is Nijinsky Hare as pictured above.
Sunday was taken up by that splendid London institution the Open Garden Squares week-end and a wander round the normally locked garden squares of Belgravia an Pimlico. OK, you've missed it this year but make a note of it for next summer.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
A less exciting but more accurate reading of Wednesday's result would be that the votes of the centre-left parties held up, while those of the right splintered both to the Liberals and the Freedom party. Indisputably the Christian Democrats were the big losers. In an election dominated not by immigration but by the economy and the deficit, Dutch voters could therefore be said to have opted for fiscal austerity with a social conscience, much as British voters did a month ago. This leaves the Liberals well placed to govern with the centre-left in what would here be called a progressive coalition.Furthermore, let us not get over-excited about Geert Wilders's party.
Dutch voters have not given Mr Wilders a mandate to govern, and he should certainly not now be rewarded with one.Given the Dutch system, that is not exactly accurate since a third party is often in the Cabinet. In Britain, on the other hand, the Lib-Dims were most definitely not given a mandate to govern, coming third and losing seats. Yet, somehow, they have been rewarded with that mandate and the Guardian seems very happy about that.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Not to be outdone, the new Right-wing government of FIDESZ on its own has passed an amendment to the Criminal Code.
According to the new legislation, those denying, casting doubts on, or depreciating the crimes committed by the Communist regime will be facing from one to three years behind bars.There are two aspects to this. One is the equation of Communist and Nazi crimes, which is entirely right and proper. The Russian Communist Party does not like it, according to this article, but then they wouldn't, would they.
The programme seems to be rather high-profile and the first season, at least, could be justified by saying that the EU was promoting knowledge of Europe, the various countries and, probably most of all, the European Union.
The first season was funded by the European Union and the quiz questions all related to Europe, covering topics such as history, geography, personalities, government, culture, arts, and sports. Each program featured competing representatives from two Palestinian Authority universities or colleges. In January 2010 the competition ended, and the last program showed a prize ceremony with the participation of Minister of Welfare Majda Al-Masri; Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake; and director of the MAAN news agency, Nasser A-Lahham.The second season is no longer about matters European but Middle Eastern and the existence of Israel as a country seems to be ignored. For instance
The question posed to the TV viewers was:The answer is none of them as Haifa, a coastal city, is in Israel. None of this would matter except for the fact that the old blue flag with gold stars is still displayed prominently in the background when the questions are asked.
"A Palestinian coastal city is:
... Call the number that appears on the screen and win $500."
I am prepared to believe that it is sheer incompetence on the part of the EU that has created this unfortunate situation. I think I am prepared to believe that.
I’m not surprised that the only primary race to be noted by Feministing is Kamala Harris’ victory in the Democratic race for California attorney general or that the comments on a straightforward who’s-who post at Jezebel are full of bile regarding Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. But it is disappointing that many liberal women don’t even seem to want the GOP to have strong female candidates. As Sara Libby wrote in Slate yesterday, “Do you still cheer if the ceiling is crashed by two conservative businesswomen?” To answer a question with a question, why not? (Especially in a primary.)Ann Althouse, herself a conservative law professor and blogger puts it more bluntly:
Here’s one reason to cheer. Conservative acquaintances ask me what it’s like to be in the minority at Slate. I tell them it’s great because it makes me think harder and sharpen my arguments; it challenges my assumptions. That’s the purpose of healthy debate. If the only women in politics are liberal, there’s not going to be much debate. And if a woman has to be pro-choice and pro-government and anti-business to be a palatable Republican, well, you just want Democrats in disguise.
You know, it's fine with me if we just start treating women like people. We women are not a team. And this isn't a game. The failure of liberals to cheer about the female GOP candidates is an indication that they are strong candidates. That's good!But then, you see, these people would have to start cheering Sarah Palin and that would never do.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
With 88 per cent of the votes counted, published partial results showed the Liberals with 31 and Labour on 30.Mark Rutte, the Liberal leader may have the mandage to become Prime Minister but he will need at least three other parties to secure the necessary majority in Parliament. He can, of course, leave out the PVV but that is likely to cause a few problems. Geert Wilders said quite firmly when he was in London that he did not mind leading the largest party in opposition.
But the real victory went to Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV), which demands an end to immigration from Muslim countries and a ban on new mosques. The PVV took its number of seats from nine in the last parliament to 24, and could hope to enter a coalition government.
AP suggests, on the basis of 93 per cent counted, that
The most likely outcome appears to be a centrist coalition with VVD and Labor combining with two smaller parties on the left, the Green-Left and Democrats-66, who both won 10 seats.In the meantime, the ousted PM, Jan Peter Balkenende stays on as caretaker Prime Minister. What a good thing that this sort of a messy situation cannot happen in Britain. Oh wait ....
Yet neither the top two parties will be able to form a government without major compromises on ideology.
The VVD has pledged to slash the deficit by cutting government spending and welfare programs while Labor has criticized the program as harmful to the poor.
Labor wants to preserve government social programs, raise taxes on the wealthy and make it easier for immigrants to integrate rather than punishing those that fail.
Although not as outspoken against immigration as Wilders, Rutte has also argued that immigrants who cannot contribute to the Dutch economy should not be allowed to come, and he would ban them from receiving welfare for 10 years after arrival.
UPDATE: The talk is now of a Centre-Right coalition government in the Netherlands, which would included Geert Wilders. We shall see. In the meantime, I have spotted a truly idiotic headline on Sky News website: Far-Right Breakthrough Shocks Netherlands. Remind me, how did that far-right breakthrough happen?
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The people I have in mind are the ‘goo-goo genocidaires,’ the willfully blind reformers, civil society activists, clergy, students and others whose foolishness and ignorance was a necessary condition for tens of millions of deaths in the last hundred years. Unreflective, self-righteous ‘activists’ thought that to espouse peace was the same thing as to create or safeguard it. As a result, tens of millions died. Unless this kind of thinking is exposed and repudiated, it is likely to lead to as many or more deaths in the 21st.Mind you, like most American adorers of Churchill, he is not exactly right about what was happening in Britain in the thiries (rearmament did go on, you kno, despite the Labour Party and the unions). But you can't argue with this comment:
These days we are pretty good at pillorying the bad guys in America’s history: Tories, slave owners, segregationists, opponents of womens’ right to vote all get nailed in our textbooks. But somehow the creeps and frauds of the peace movement get a free pass. “We are the folk song army,” the satirist Tom Lehrer once wrote, mocking the moral pretensions of ‘peace activists’; “Every one of us cares. We’re all against poverty, war and injustice — unlike the rest of you squares.”Appeasing Iran, Mr Mead thinks will not give us peace any more than previous appeasements did. In fact, all it is doing is helping to oppress the people of Iran and allowing some nasty bullying in the Middle East.
It is just not true, historically speaking, that ‘peace movements’ lead to peace or, for that matter, support policies that will bring peace. More often than not, the opposite is true. Winston Churchill was a grizzled old British imperialist of the worst kind, but if Britain had listened to him instead of to its peace campaigners in the 1930s there most likely would never have been either a World War Two or Cold War. We can be very grateful that Ronald Reagan and the NATO leadership turned a deaf ear to the nuclear freeze movement; had those besotted idealists had their way the Soviet Union and the Cold War might be still with us today — along with nuclear arsenals much larger and much more dangerous than anything the US and Russia now have.
Not so long ago we had a word in our society for tiger-strokers: people who thought that if you soothed the savage passions of irrational dictators by treating them with respect and giving them treats then the dictators would become less dangerous.
We called them ‘appeasers’.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The pretty smiling young lady was telling us (well, me, as nobody else seemed to care) that she cared about the environment and so did Muhammad (that is how we are expected to spell his name now for reasons I find hard to understand). Really? A new one on me. No evidence was provided for this astounding statement.
This is all part of a large poster campaign, launched by an organization called Exploring Islam Foundation and backed by the various taxpayer-funded Muslim organizations. As Douglas Murray tells us in the Telegraph, the posters are full of interesting information none of us ever knew. For instance, who knew that Muhammad believed in women's rights? So says another pretty smiling young lady, this time in a headscarf, who is, apparently a lawyer. Well, if she is a lawyer she ought to know about the importance of evidence but apparently she was not taught that in her law studies.
The Inspired by Muhammad Campaign aims to counteract certain views held by a strangely large section of the population about Islam and Muslims. According to a YouGove poll the site quotes:
■58% associate Islam with extremismAs Douglas Murray says:
■50% associate Islam with terrorism
■Just 13% associate Islam with peace
■6% associate Islam with justice
■Only 16% think that Islam promotes fairness and equality
■Only 6% believe that Islam promotes active measures to protect the environment
■41% disagree or strongly disagree that Muslims have a positive impact on British society
■69% believe that Islam encourages the repression of women
Now how on earth could this be? Surely these figures must demonstrate the existence of an anti-Islamic plot! Or it is it perhaps because Islam is indeed very strongly associated with extremism, violence and the repression of women, as an observer of any Islamic society can see?Inevitably, one asks oneself who is funding this campaign and could a few cuts be administered to such organizations. For instance, are they paying the market rate for the advertising space they occupy? Who is funding the Foundation behind the campaign? They give no clear responses to that question, providing no direct information anywhere and merely answering in a somewhat off-hand manner a frequently asked question (you bet it is frequently asked):
How is EIF funded?That's it? I think I should like to know a little more. These media campaigns are expensive and they are planning many.
EIF is a not for profit initiative and is funded by private donations.
THEY TOLD ME IF WE ELECTED BARACK OBAMA THEY’D BE putting up statues of Stalin around our nation’s capital. And they were right!When I managed to pick my chin off the floor I followed the link and found a somewhat weird story. It seems that Virginia's monument to D-Day includes a statue of Stalin. D-Day? Whatever one may think of the Soviet Union's and Stalin's own role in the Second World War (or the Great Patriotic War) it had nothing to do with D-Day.
Understandably, people in Bedford, VA were somewhat upset even when they were told that this was to honour the Soviet Union's role in distracting the Nazi forces so the D-Day landing could go ahead. One wonders about the historical knowledge that produces that kind of statement.
The story has now hit Washington DC where various embassies are conveying protests on behalf of people whose families managed to escape from Stalin and his henchmen.
The oddest part of this whole saga is that the plaque under the statue apparently says:
In memory of the tens of millions who died under Stalin's rule and in tribute to all whose valor, fidelity, and sacrifice denied him and his successors victory in the cold war.Seems a weird way of celebrating all that by putting up a bust of Stalin.
Georgy-Porgy, we were told, is keeping his powder dry for other battles that he will be able to win. Battles such as the one about the Budget. Mr Osborne assured us that nothing on earth would make him agree to an arrangement that allowed the Commission (whose own accounts have not been signed off by the EU's Court of Auditors even once) to examine and pass the Budget before it came to the House of Commons. This is how the FT put it last time:
He may be back in Brussels on Friday fighting on another front, this time opposing a suggestion by the European Commission that national budgets be submitted for prior scrutiny by other EU member states. "National parliaments must be paramount," he said. "I'm perfectly happy to discuss details of the Budget with the Commission but only after it has been discussed in parliament."Even then national parliaments were not exactly paramount as Georgy-Porgy must have realized from the saga of the hedge funds. Still, the question of who decides on the Budget is an important one.
According to Bruno Waterfield in today's Telegraph, that battle, too, has been lost.
Britain was isolated during a meeting of an “economic government taskforce”, chaired by Herman Van Rompuy, the EU President, last night.Much will be made of the fact that Britain, not being in the euro, escapes certain punitive measures but there is no getting away from the basic fact:
Mr Van Rompuy and the European Commission have tabled plans that will require all of Europe’s governments to discuss their budget plans with other EU finance ministers and officials before they presented to national parliaments.
“A government presenting a budget plan with a high deficit would have to justify itself in front of its peers, among finance ministers,” said Mr Van Rompuy.
“There would still be time to adjust plans before the final budget plans are presented.”
But EU officials and French diplomats have insisted that British Chancellors of the Exchequer will be required to give their budgetary plans to the EU not after they are given to MPs in Westminster, "but before or simultaneously”.Undoubtedly, this is the parliamentary right that the likes of John Hampden fought for.
Interestingly, the FT seems to have forgotten that previous promise of Mr Osborne's and concentrates on the fact that these "supervisory powers" (of which they seem to approve) will come into play only on a few "strictly defined" occasions. Experience tells one that once power has been given to an organization, those definitions become ever wider.
Meanwhile, much is being made of the ConLibs' latest gimmick: let me ask the public what they would like me to do. Douglas Carswell has already impressed his small band of followers with this (more of that in another posting) and now we have the Chancellor calling "on the public to identify which services should be cut as part of a 'once-in-a-generation' spending review".
First of all, why does Mr Osborne think this is a 'once-in-a-generation' spending review? Has he learnt nothing from the fact that hyperbole of that kind during the electoral campaign produced a turn-out of 65 per cent and a Conservative defeat snatched from the jaws of victory?
Secondly, we elected Mr Osborne and others in order that they take decisions as they see fit. If we do not like those decisions we shall throw him and his little friends out next time. We did not elect them to play stupid games of the kind one can see on reality TV.
Thirdly, how is he going to decide whose suggestions to take? Of course, he is not going to pay a blind bit of attention and how can he? People sending in emotional suggestions, based on no knowledge of data whatsoever are not going to impress the Treasury. So, in the end, the decisions will be taken by the Treasury with the Chancellor agreeing. What is the point of this ridiculous charade?
In any case, what if the Commission and ECOFIN disapproves of the popular suggestions Georgy-Porgy adds to the Budget and tells him to take it back and think again?
Monday, June 7, 2010
Jay Nordlinger sums it all up very well on The Corner:
It would be helpful to peace in the Middle East if Israel’s enemies could be absolutely sure that Israel is not going anywhere: that it is here to stay. Remember the old gay slogan? “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”? Israel’s enemies need to know something like that about Israel. But as long as they have the feeling that the world — you know: “the world,” as in the New York Times, the U.N., and Bono — is not really committed to the existence of Israel, they will push for Israel’s destruction.There really is no getting round the core problem. It has to be solved because Mr Nordlinger is right in saying that there will be no peace in the Middle East until Israel's existence is accepted by all, not just Egypt and Jordan.
They have never resigned themselves to Israel’s existence; they have never resigned themselves to co-existence. People like Helen Thomas make it easier for them not to resign themselves. People like Thomas give them hope — making them think, “Ah, maybe we can actually get rid of them. Not just extract a better deal, but get rid of them altogether!”
Of course, shutting Bono up would help as well.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Do read, Lord Monckton's statement of acceptance. It is absolutely hilarious. He indulges in a very fine bit of alliteration, worthy of the late, lamented Leonard Sachs himself:
After 1000 years of inexorable progress towards democracy, in the last 30 years pernicious peculation by Parliament’s political pygmies has thrown Britain’s democracy away.Ignore the rubbish about "1,000 years of inexorable progress towards democracy". Don't you love the "pernicious peculation by Parliament’s political pygmies"? Incidentally, some of those 30 years, Christopher Monckton was adviser to the Prime Minister, one Margaret Thatcher. It is good to know that they both saw the light eventually.
However, it is a little disturbing to read the following comment:
My first task will be to build on the Initiative Referendum Bill already tabled in the House of Lords by Lord Pearson and Lord Willoughby de Broke by drafting new, radically democratic constitutions for Britain and for Europe.Britain may or may not need a radical new written constitution. Given the mess that has been made of the previous one, there is a very good argument that there should be a new Bill of Rights, at the very least. Certainly a single constitutional document like the Constitution of the United States may not be a bad idea. But Europe? On what basis does his lordship think that Europe is the sort of single entity that needs a constitution or that the Europeans want UKIP to write one for them?
Incidentally, I am intrigued by what the White House, which against American opinion is siding with
"We are working urgently with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other international partners to develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza," a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said.Ahem, Hamas? Remember, the organization that took power after a bloody coup directed exclusively at other Palestinians, that continues to oppress the people of Gaza and whose leaders have no problem in using aid that pours into the area for a very pleasant life for themselves? Oh yes, the organization, whose aim it is to destroy Israel because then all the Palestinians' problems will magically vanish.
What's left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel's possession of nuclear weapons -- thus de-legitimizing Israel's very last line of defense: deterrence.Is "world opinion" actually embarrassed by a country that prefers to defend itself and by a people who really mean that trite slogan: Never Again?
The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.
Friday, June 4, 2010
The blockade began 17 days ago when the Western Armored Division established new checkpoints on roads and at city entrances preventing the flow of persons and commerce including food, medicine, oil and water. The blockade has cut off Radfan, Yafea, al Dhala, al Melah, al Habeelan, al Shaib, Gahaf, Lazarik, and parts of Shabwah.
The main road between Aden and al Dahlie is closed. Al Habaleen, Lahj was indiscriminately shelled three days ago after two soldiers were killed in an ambush. Another ambush in al Melah killed one soldier, and authorities have accused renegade elements of the southern independence movement with the attacks.
Nearly one thousand have fled Radfan, al Habaleen and al Bilah seeking safety. Like the 250,000 internally displaced by the Sa’ada War, these are mostly women and children. On May 24, a pregnant woman en route to a hospital in Aden was stopped at a military checkpoint and later died in childbirth.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Living, as we do, in a country where politicians just assume that however hard they hit the wealth-making private sector, there will always be enough money to keep them in office though evidence shows the contrary, we may find it difficult to understand that this is a relatively new idea to Americans.