Monday, October 11, 2010

Yes, of course it was The Constitution...

Via Hot Air, the Daily Mail reports that a book was thrown at President Obama as he spoke at a rally in Philadelphia. The Mail says it's "not clear" what the book was, but I think we can just make it out here...

Click the image for a better look. It's The Complete Idiot's Guide, naturally.

My favourite of the comments at Hot Air: I hope it wasn’t “Atlas Shrugged.” That would smart if it hit a person.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mike on Blair and Iraq at Pajamas Media

I have a new piece up at Pajamas Media on Tony Blair's defence of the Iraq war in his memoir, and in interviews he's given to promote it. Blair is happy to concede that opponents of the war have a case to make, but wonders why they can't afford him and others who backed the war the same respect. He makes the case that the situation in Iraq was going to end badly one way or another, and asks only that his detractors concede that Saddam posed a dilemma for which there were no easy solutions, and acknowledge the complexity of the situation.

I suggest that Blair shouldn't pin his hopes on getting a fair hearing, or an honest debate, from the left:
Liberal-left types are of course fully aware of the “complexity” of the decisions that were taken, and are still being taken, over when and how the West should intervene to combat rogues states and terrorists. They just like to pretend that such complexities don’t exist; that there are no difficult decisions, and no consequences for doing what makes you popular, rather than what’s right. And hypotheticals only work one way, so opponents of intervention will ask “Would you do it again?” but never “What if we hadn’t done it?” or “What should be done next time?” The left has a vivid imagination when it comes to threats to liberty posed by conservative governments, or threats to the planet caused by global warming, but is unwilling to imagine what might have transpired in the Middle East had Saddam remained in power, or the consequences of Iran getting nuclear weapons.

The left can’t accept that, although they disagree with their opponents, those opponents might have a valid point, or might be motivated by something other than sinister aims. The arguments Blair advances are ones that are seldom aired outside conservative media outlets or in speeches by Dick Cheney and John Bolton. Blair has a platform that is rarely afforded to advocates of military action against Islamic extremists and their state sponsors, and his position flies in the face of the liberal-left narrative, which is why they hate him.
Blair points out that the West will soon face a similar dilemma over Iran's determination to acquire nuclear weapons. Don't expect the left to engage in that debate with any more honesty or decency than they displayed over Iraq.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is Sky News pandering to British anti-semitism, or is just dumb, lazy journalism?

For much of today Sky News has been running the story of an female Israeli who posted picture of herself posing with Palestinian detainees. A story on Sky's website talks about photos and images without mentioning how many; it appears there were all of two, amongst an album containing a couple of dozen photos spanning the range of military life (At least they didn't stoop to the level of this French website which actually reproduced one of the pictures twice to pad out its treatment of the issue).

An accompanying video on the Sky website includes a bit of editorialising, or making things up, on the part of the reporter supplying the voiceover. She refers to the prisoner's 'confined' quarters, when the pictures make it impossible to judge the immediate surroundings (they actually look to have been taken outdoors), or how long the detainees were kept there. I say reporter when the mangled English sounds more like the work of a teenager on a summer work placement: "...on her lap, the plastic wrist tie used to restrain those over whom she is responsible..." (Just the one tie for all of them? Responsible over? But kudos for the correct use of the increasingly rare 'whom'). And in the inevitable comparison with Abu Ghraib, she refers to the U.S. soldiers jailed over that scandal as officers.

On the evening news version of the story, the correspondent even acknowledged that what occurred was not abuse and was not comparable to Abu Ghraib. So what could possibly explain a British news channel running this story as one of its leads all day, or the fact that it's the second most viewed item on the Sky website?

Hang on...

War in the Middle East... A win-win for Hillary

With some form of conflict between Israel and a variety of foes looking increasingly likely before the year is out, I predict victory for... Hillary Clinton, regardless of the outcome for the actual combatants.

mosque boy fails to forcefully support Israel in a conflict, especially in the event that rocket attacks by Hezbollah or Hamas cause significant civilian casualties, Hilary could resign on this point of principle before the November elections, and thus avoid being tarred as disloyally kicking Obama while he's down by resigning to launch a challenge to him in the wake of the looming mid-term meltdown.

While this would be the most promising scenario from the point of view of a potential presidential bid, the other possibilities are hardly much worse. Robust US backing for Israel,while it wouldn't hurt Obama, would do nothing to save Democrats in the mid-terms; and it would give Hilary plenty of positive exposure as a tough supporter of Israel against common terrorist enemies. A third option, a bout of high-profile shuttle diplomacy leading to an end to fighting, would also enhance her credentials. In either of the latter two cases, thus bolstered, she could then leave the administration anyway next year if Obama's prospects for 2012 continue to deteriorate.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yabba rages against 'Talibanisation' of British Muslim kids, neglects to offer solutions

This stirring call from left-wing columnist Yasmine Alibhai Brown for, er, somebody to, er, do something to stand up to Islamists in the UK is to be appreciated; but her moral authority is somewhat undermined by her willingness to abandon the Afghan people to suffer a far worse fate than the indignities that she complains are being inflicted upon Muslim women and children in the Britain. Apparently Yabba was all for the invasion of Afghanistan, but changed her mind when things got messy, without any suggestion of an alternative way forward. She's equally vague on how to tackle the domestic threat - "we", or "the powerful" must "find a way" to stop them (Heck, can't we just stop beating about the bush and declare resolutely that "A way must be found"?) - and one can't help wondering how long it would be before any decisive action against UK fundamentalists had Yabba experiencing a road-to-Kabul conversion and reverting to her default PC mode, whining about Islamophobia or the government's disregard for civil liberties.

Oh, and since she's calling for courage, how about
not referring to Al Qaeda terrorists as 'operatives'?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Russian Spies: Mission Accomplished?

So let's see. These Russian Spies were tasked, among other things, with influencing US policy at high levels. And...

1. America now has as president a man who counts a member of the US Communist Party as a mentor, who hung around with communists at college, who has appointed admitted Marxists such as Van Jones and others with Maoist/communist sympathies, such as Anita Dunn, to influential positions in his administration, and who counts domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn as friends.

2. That president is driving the US economy into a ditch.

3. That president is at best refusing to confront America's enemies abroad (Iran, North Korea), and at worse cosying up to them (China, Russia) and enabling them to expand their spheres of influence.

4. That president wants to pursue an energy policy that will make the US more dependent on unreliable and potentially hostile foreign providers: specifically, cutting back on domestic oil and coal exploration and production while spending billions on 'green' alternatives that range from the unproven to the not-even-invented-yet (see also point 2).

5. That president and his administration officials rarely miss an opportunity to downplay notions of 'American exceptionalism', and are always ready to blame the US for everything from global warming to racism.

I would imagine they're hanging up the 'Mission Accomplished' banner at FIS headquarters.

Come to think of it, if they're still looking for more suspects, maybe they should try the Oval Office.

Thanks to Kate for the link.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chaos in the UK

I have a piece up at Pajamas Media on the Lib-Lab pact that wasn't. Needless to say it's being overtaken by events - I had to rewrite it twice and things have moved on again since. Outside the regular news outlets, good places to go for reaction are the Spectator's Coffee House blog and Conservative Home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cameron may be a Tory McCain, but Britain still needs a Conservative victory tonight

A year and a half ago, I was sitting at my kitchen table in the dead of night as it became clear that Barack Obama was going to become the 44th President of the United States, with large majorities in both houses of Congress.

The polls had been pointing to an Obama victory, but I was still hopeful that John McCain could turn things around. When the end came I was crestfallen. I didn't know how I'd be able to get out of bed the next day (or later that day to be exact), never mind make it through four years of an Obama presidency.

And I'm not even American. I'm English (which is why it was the dead of night) and I was following the news at Hot Air, Pajamas Media, Ace and other conservative websites. As a British conservative, ill-served by domestic politics, I get a vicarious thrill from following events across the pond, where conservatism remains a powerful force. And while I may be more of a tea drinker than a Tea Partier, unlike your current President I do happen to believe that in an increasingly unpredictable and dangerous world, America represents the last, best hope of mankind.

Of course, if someone had told me that Obama and his allies would overplay their hand to such an extent, and exhibit such arrogance, tone-deafness and incompetence, that 18 months later the President's approval numbers would be in the tank and his party would be staring down the barrel of massive losses in the mid-term elections, I might have slept a little easier that night.

But few other than the most optimistic Republicans could have predicted their party would be back in the game so soon. While McCain was far from the ideal candidate, most Republicans would - if they're honest and without the wisdom of hindsight - have taken victory on the night over the possibility that Obama and the Democrats might squander their mandate.

There were others, however, who insisted that Republicans were better off losing than winning with Maverick's brand of conservatism-lite. And it appears they were right – that thumping at the polls is now looking like the best thing that could have happened to the party. The Democrats have indulged their innate tendency to overreach, and a fractured conservative movement is coalescing around shared values of limited government and fiscal responsibility.

Many British conservatives are similarly conflicted about today's election. Cameron, like McCain, is far from the ideal candidate. In the process of trying to make his party electable again he's lost touch with traditional Tory supporters and cast aside core Tory policies, pandering instead to the metropolitan elites in the worlds of media and public relations which he used to inhabit.

So should we hope for a Tory win, or for defeat, gambling that a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition would quickly fall apart, and that the Conservatives, led either by a bolder Cameron or a new leader more in touch with Tory values and voters, would sweep to victory in a second election six months or a year from now?

Some commentators are firmly of the belief that only a crushing defeat can save the Conservative party in the long run. In a scathing opinion piece for The Daily Mail, Peter Hitchens, the ideologically estranged brother of Christopher, urged readers "not to fall for the shimmering, greasy, cynical fraud which is the Cameron project" and warned that doing so would "destroy all real hope of change for the better".

While Hitchens is in the minority among conservative pundits, he has a point. Cameron has moved the party to the center, softening its stance on crime, Europe, immigration and other issues, and the Tory base feels it has been abandoned as the party tries to woo back the moderate conservatives it lost to Tony Blair and New Labour.

There is, however, little to suggest that a defeated Conservative party would undergo a resurgence akin to that being enjoyed by the Republicans.

It's unlikely that a Labour/Lib Dem government would overreach in the way Obama and the Democrats have, and there's no single issue which might generate mass opposition in the way healthcare has. Neither do we have the same conflicts over the size of government, the relationship between the state and the citizen, or federalism versus states' rights.

Labour would be so desperate to cling to power, and the Lib Dems so keen to exploit their first taste of it in a generation, that they could well make a coalition work. Labour's union-friendly big government policies and the Lib Dems' left-wing social policies – soft on immigration and crime, pro-Europe, virulently anti-Israel – are not a bad fit. The unpopular Gordon Brown would soon make way for a new Labour Prime Minister who meets with the approval of Lib Dem boy wonder Nick Clegg.

Even if the marriage of convenience doesn't last, and Britons find themselves going to the polls again, it will be because of the economy - and the country will be looking to the Conservatives to sort out the finances, not to crack down on 'hoodies' or illegal immigrants, or sever ties with Europe.

But if Labour and the Lib Dems remain in power for four or five years, the liberal-left consensus that already holds sway in academia, the legal profession, the arts and the media (a majority of British newspapers have come out for the Tories, but their influence is not what it once was) will only become more deeply entrenched.

Broadly speaking, Britons are center-right on economic issues, and center-left on social issues. That's where both the political culture and the wider culture is at, and there's only so much you can do to influence the culture when you're out of power. How purists like Hitchens think a born-again Tory party could begin to reclaim power in a country that will have moved several notches further to the left is unclear.

It's true that we're in uncharted waters. The emergence of the Lib Dems and the prospect of hung parliaments has shifted the parameters of British politics. A left-wing coalition could prove such a disaster that Britain might once again look to a Thatcheresque Conservative party, but it's unlikely.

And if the Tories lose today, there may well be no going back. They need to get a foot in the door, and supporters must hope that at least some of the centrist rebranding is political posturing necessitated by circumstances, and that once they're in office the suppressed conservative instincts of Cameron and his team will come to the fore.

If the Tories win (they're projected to get the most seats, but fall short of an overall majority, in which case Cameron is expected to attempt to lead a minority government), I hope American conservatives will feel it worth celebrating. British conservatives may have stopped aspiring to the standards to which their US counterparts hold their leaders, but we're living in a hostile environment, and we're doing our best.

Pundits dismiss the notion of a 'special relationship' these days, but I'd like to think that it'll take more than Obama and the European Union to break the ties which bind us, and that with the Conservatives in power on this side of the pond and, God willing, Republicans returning to power on Capitol Hill - and perhaps, in 2012 in the White House - we can rebuild an alliance that has served both countries well.

I don't expect Americans to stay up late biting their nails (even with the time difference, the closeness of the race means it's unlikely the outcome will be known before at least 3am UK time). And I don't expect too many US conservatives will be as distressed by a Tory defeat as I was by a Republican one.

But I'd like to think you'll be rooting for us.