Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finally. Rubber bullets available for tomorrow's student riot

We can but hope.

The BBC reports that rubber bullets will be available to officers policing tomorrow's tuition fees protest by students in London.
In a statement, Scotland Yard said rubber bullets - also known as baton rounds - were "carried by a small number of trained officers", none of whom would be patrolling the route of the march.
As with previous protests there's likely to be violence, but sadly it probably won't be sustained or large-scale enough that the police actually get around to breaking out the plastic.

That hasn't stopped the Green Party's no-hoper in the London mayoral election, Jenny Jones, from expressing pre-emptive outrage.
She said: "The prospect of the police shooting at unarmed demonstrators with any kind of bullet is frankly appalling, un-British and reminiscent of scenes currently being used by murderous dictatorships in the Middle East."
I suggest Jones takes a trip to Syria, where they're using live rounds and tanks, and the death toll is over 3,500, to regain her sense of perspective. But presumably she believes the police should be prevented from defending themselves against the sort of violence seen at previous 'demonstrations', which included having a fire extinguisher dropped on officers from seven floors up.

She added: "Any officer that shoots a student with a baton round will have to answer to the whole of London."

I hate to break this to Jones, but I fear she may be misjudging the public mood, which is always a risk when you're so thoroughly disconnected from mainstream thinking that you believe windmills are the answer to Britain's energy problems.

After a year or so of watching the capital being smashed up by assorted mobs of left-wingers, anarchists and politically unaffiliated rioters and looters, I suspect that Londoners will be ready to grant the first police officer who takes out a rioting student with a rubber bullet the freedom of the city.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Occupy London: like OWS, without the sex attacks

My latest piece for PJ Media looks at the mess the Church of England has got itself in with the Occupy protest outside St Paul's Cathedral, and how church figures have been co-opted as useful idiots for a largely secular leftist movement. This mess is the entirely predictable consequence of the church's embrace of class warfare and other left-wing orthodoxies under the stewardship of Rowan 'Crazy Old Wizard' Williams...
Those protestors who have a semblance of an ideology, as opposed to those who are just there for the party, are leftists, and it’s doubtful that more than a handful will have ever seen the inside of a church. But they’ve cleverly leveraged the moral authority of the church, such as it is these days, to lend respectability to their cause (a “What would Jesus do?” banner is prominent in every TV news report).
The media have played along, with the Guardian in particular guilty of astounding chutzpah. The bible — if you’ll excuse the expression — of Britain’s secular leftists has run a stream of patronizing opinion pieces invoking the teachings of Jesus; a favorite theme, along with WWJD? is the story of Jesus chasing the money changers from the temple, from which several columnists have extrapolated that Jesus was the first anti-capitalist, and that if he were around today he’d be bunking down with the protesters.
This from a paper that misses no opportunity to sneer at traditional values in general, and at Christianity in particular (other religions, notably Islam, are of course exempt from such mockery). It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes, and they’re equally hard to find when Christianity can be co-opted to advance a left-wing cause.
By way of a companion to my piece, here's a video shot at the St Paul's camp by The Commentator. My favourite character is the old crusty getting high on super-strength cider, planning to pitch his plans for financial reform to a deputy governor of the Bank of England... What could go wrong?

Another thought: what would Hugo Chavez do if he was uncontstrained?

Friday, November 4, 2011

UKIP Rising

The Telegraph's Peter Oborne on the slow and steady rise of the Eurosceptics of UKIP, which he calls 'the Conservative party in exile'.
If a Left-wing party had reached Ukip’s size and consequence, the media would be fascinated. But, because of its old-fashioned and decidedly provincial approach, it has been practically ignored. In the 2004 European elections, the party gained a sensational 16 per cent of the vote. Had it been the Greens or the Communists that had pulled off this feat, the BBC would have gone crazy. Instead it chose not to mention this event, coolly classifying Ukip as “other”.
For the metropolitan elite, the party scarcely exists. This is why last Sunday’s YouGov poll showing that support for Farage’s party had crept up to 7 per cent – just one point fewer than the Liberal Democrats – gained no coverage. But the significance of this is very great. I believe that Ukip is about to take over from the Lib Dems as Britain’s third largest political party.
British politics is set to get very interesting in the next couple of years, for the first time in a long while, thanks in no small part to the bunglers in Brussels.

Euro orthodoxy and Euro heresy

At Presseurop, Michael Fleischhacker of Austrian daily Die Presse praises those daring to challenge the European elites:
Heresies have arisen at all times by asking questions. To question means to doubt, and doubt is the poison of orthodoxy.
What do the United Commentators from Europe want to tell us when they declare with deep indignation that a “No” from the Greeks to the resolutions of the Brussels Congress would have “unforeseeable consequences”?
Do they somehow mean to contend that the consequences of the previously adopted “measures” were foreseeable? Has this past year delivered even a single clue that this is the case?
And why should a country's citizens not be allowed to vote on measures that add up to a substantial limitation of their state sovereignty? Is it their fault that they don’t understand what it’s about, or is it the fault of those who can’t explain it to them?
And is it not true that they can’t explain it because they don’t understand it themselves? And why should they decide, though they understand it no better than those who are not permitted to decide?
The Telegraph puts things more bluntly:
It should surprise no one that George Papandreou’s proposal for a national referendum on the latest European bail-out deal should have lasted just 72 hours before being bulldozed into oblivion by the Germans and French. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy made not the slightest attempt to observe any diplomatic niceties as they turned their fire on this troublesome outbreak of democracy. The Greek referendum must not be allowed to happen, they insisted – and lo, it will not. It was brutal to watch.
 Welcome to the new Europe. It is now generally accepted that the move towards fiscal as well as monetary union is the only feasible way in which the single currency can be made to work. Yet it will mean such bullying becomes the norm, since national sovereignty will routinely have to play second fiddle to the diktats not only of the European Central Bank, but also of a central European Treasury, whose creation can now only be a matter of time. Both will, of course, be dominated by the monetary union’s pre-eminent economy, Germany.
It's enough to make you nostalgic for the days when the EU at least allowed referendums to take place, and simply ignored the results. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why the Libya intervention will end up as a messy stalemate, at best

In my latest piece for Pajamas Media I suggest that the intervention in Libya is bound to settle into a messy stalemate due to the conflicting aims of the various 'coalition' (I use the term loosely) members. While the participation of the United States is based largely on the aching need of liberals to 'do something' when bad stuff happens – at least when the bad stuff is being shown on TV – France and the UK appear to be motivated as much by the need to divert attention from economic problems and home and to shore up business interests as by concern over attacks on civilians. To varying degrees all the participants lack both the moral authority to intervene, and the resolve to see the operation through to a conclusion – and of course no one has any idea of what a conclusion might look like.
None of the above is to say that the U.S. and its allies should never intervene in national conflicts where civilian lives are at risk; no-one wants to see women and children being shelled. But we should only do so as a last resort, where action can be taken quickly and effectively, without the risk of being drawn into a civil war, and where we know the people we’re helping into power are the good guys (remember all the media excitement about those Tweeters and Facebookers in Cairo? Looks like that might not turn out so well). And we certainly shouldn’t act as a knee-jerk response to upsetting television pictures. If we can take out a Gaddafi or Assad regime with a few well-aimed missiles, and then offer support to factions who won’t lynch Western aid workers, all well and good. And if that sounds like a set of conditions so strict they’ll rarely be fulfilled, maybe that’s no bad thing.
And any such action should be embarked upon with as little regard for the UN and other transnational talking shops as possible. The fact that so many stars have to be aligned before anything can be done makes a mockery of so-called principles such as the “Responsibility to Protect.” If there’s a guiding principle for humanitarian intervention these days, it’s the Responsibility to Protect, as long as Russia and China don’t object and there’s something in it for France. Unfortunately as mentioned above, the Obama administration is compromised in this respect by its rejection of all things Bush, which means fudges and half-measures will be the order of the day until late January 2013 at the earliest.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dutch barns, grain silos, churches, flags in the yard... Yep, that's Obama country!

The only element they left out was a slack-jawed yokel with three teeth clinging bitterly to his shotgun.

The New York Times sees justice done in Mazar-i-Sahrif

So that’s it then. All done and dusted. Job’s a good ‘un, as we say in England. According to the New York Times, the burning of a Koran by the church of Florida pastor Terry Jones almost a fortnight ago has officially been avenged in an attack by thousands of protestors on a UN compound in Afghanistan which left 12 people dead, including seven UN employees; four Nepalese Gurkha security personnel, a Romanian, a Norwegian and a Swede.

But what the headline - Afghans Avenge Florida Koran Burning, Killing 12’ - and the ensuing story fail to make clear is whether the mob actually left the scene having satisfied themselves that vengeance had indeed been extracted, and that they now considered the matter closed, or whether it’s the Times editorial staff who have rendered that judgment. One suspects the latter, given the perils a US reporter would clearly have faced in attempting to obtain a quote from a member of the enraged crowd who, the Times assures us, first made assiduous efforts to locate Americans to slaughter – which, again, we can only assume is in fact true; no quotes from any official mob spokespersons are offered to support this assertion, so it’s either the product of some kind of mind-meld between the writers in New York and the collective, Borg-like consciousness of the mob, or an fictionalized editorial attempt to exculpate the perpetrators.

According to Merriam Webster, to ‘avenge’ means ‘to take vengeance for, or on behalf of’ or ‘to exact satisfaction for (a wrong) by punishing the wrongdoer’, and the examples they give suggest that it’s generally people that are avenged, not inanimate objects. Indeed, while I like my books as much as the next man, I would consider it at least mildly eccentric to do anything for, or on behalf of, any of them; and if, alternatively, the wanton butchery in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif was intended to exact satisfaction by punishing the wrongdoer, the Afghans missed by a mile; last time I checked, Pastor Jones was safely at home in Gainesville, Florida. Absent a beheaded pastor then, how many of the other random Americans the mob supposedly sought would have sufficed as equivalence? Or how many non-U.S. infidels? How does one weight Asians against Europeans? Gurkhas, courageous warriors whom I had the privilege of serving alongside in Afghanistan, are Hindus; and Scandinavia and Eastern Europe are not known as hotbeds of evangelical Christianity. If more foreign targets had presented themselves at the compound, would they too have been butchered; and if so, would the Times have considered this to be, er, overkill? The Times’ writers fail to show their working, as it were, as to how they were able to declare the Koran burning duly avenged.

But of course it doesn’t matter. Friday, which sees crowds of worshippers pouring out of mosques into the midday heat of the streets, has long been kill-an-infidel day in those parts of the Muslim world where imams are wont to whip their flock into a frenzy at the slightest pretence of a provocation. If such an attack had happened before the supposed Koran burning, the Times would have claimed that it was to ‘avenge’ the victims of NATO airstrikes. If it had happened elsewhere, it would have been a response to the Danish Mohammed cartoons (Denmark, after all, is adjacent to both Sweden and Norway...). Or the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Whatever. In the leftist pathology which exonerates everyone from graffiti artists to Osama Bin Laden by virtue of their relative ‘victim status’, sometimes you’ve just got to lash out – and Afghans, the Times helpfully reminds us, are “reflexively volatile”.

So that’s alright then.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Understatement of the week: BBC 'often notably adrift of the overriding national sentiment', says Michael Buerk

Reviewing former BBC colleague Peter Sissons' memoir When One Door Closes, Michael Buerk becomes the latest of the corporation's big names to highlight the institutional left-wing bias which BBC bosses would have you believe doesn't exist:
What the BBC regards as normal and abnormal, what is moderate or extreme, where the centre of gravity of an issue lies, are conditioned by the common set of assumptions held by the people who work for it. These are uniformly middle class, well educated, living in north London, or maybe its Manchester equivalent. Urban, bright thirty-somethings with a pleasing record of achievement in a series of institutions, school, university, BBC, with little experience of — and perhaps not very well disguised contempt for — business, industry, the countryside, localness, traditions and politicians. The Guardian is their bible and political correctness their creed. In the Corporation's collective eye, Tony Benn is a lovable national treasure, Melanie Phillips a swivel-eyed fanatic. It's all very well-meaning, and painstakingly even-handed, but often notably adrift of the overriding national sentiment.
More on Buerk's attack at the Mail, which also carried Sissons' own thoughts on the BBC's bias, and serialised When One Door Closes, including this extract on the BBC role as unofficial PR agency for the climate change lobby.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Suddenly, CNN is skeptical when a dictator claims US bombs have killed civilians

(Thanks to Protein Wisdom for linking)

My latest post for Big Journalism...

This CNN report by Nic Robertson on funerals for alleged Libyan victims of allied bombing, including civilians, is model of hard-nosed reporting; of refusing to swallow government propaganda, and of speaking truth to power. And this should come as no surprise, since CNN’s track record in challenging Arab dictators’ claims of casualties caused by the American military goes back...

Sorry... CNN’s track record of uncritically accepting Arab dictators’ claims of casualties caused by American bombing goes back to the first Gulf War, when Peter Arnett parroted the Iraqi regime’s version of the Al-Amiriyah shelter incident. During the final stages of the air campaign leading up to the allied ground assault into Kuwait, US aircraft bombed a Baghdad command and control facility; the regime claimed it served a dual purpose as a civilian air raid shelter, and that some 400 old men, women and children were killed. While no transcript of CNN’s coverage apparently survives on line, this self-penned puff-piece by Arnett includes his version of the incident; for a US government account, see the case study in this overview from George W. Bush’s White House of Saddam’s record of faking or deliberately causing civilian casualties to exploit for propaganda purposes (And while this is not the place to revisit the claims and counter claims, I couldn’t help but note that reports by CNN, the BBC and others stating that the casualties were old men, women and children also mentioned that many bodies were so badly burned as to be barely identifiable as human).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't the Bush haters at Channel 4 realise Obama's in charge now?

Shortly after US combat search and rescue teams and air support scrambled to rescue the crew of a downed F-15 fighter-bomber last week, the British liberal media scrambled to cover the aftermath of the rescue. Judging by the swiftness with which Lindsey Hilsum of far left-leaning Channel 4 News managed to file this report, it may have been available for consumption by critics of the western intervention in the troubled north African state before the US aircrew were safely aboard the USS Kearsage.

The following short sentence sums up the content and tone of the whole story: "Osprey aircraft came in, all guns blazing, assuming - as the American military tends to do – that this was hostile territory." Hilsum doesn't claim to have seen this with her own eyes, and she doesn't even attribute the account to local eye-witnesses. An unsubstantiated report is reported as settled fact, and this is then filtered through an editorial prism - in what is supposed to be a straight news report – whereby Hilsum claims to be privy to the motivation behind the US forces’ acting as they allegedly did. And the language – ‘all guns blazing’- reads like fiction, or at best gonzo journalism. Does Hilsum know how many guns an Osprey has? Is she sure that they were all firing? And not just firing, but blazing – a word that has no meaning in a factual news report, being used only to suggest that the American fire was reckless and indiscriminate.

Inconveniently for Hilsum, the US military have stated that not only were no shots were fired during the rescue, but that the Ospreys in question were not even armed, instead being protected by a supporting ‘package’ of other aircraft, two of which dropped 500lb bombs during the rescue. So Hilsum is either lying, or passing on the lies of others because they fit her far-left narrative. Neither possibility would bring credit to a programme that holds itself up as a flagship of serious news journalism, but perhaps the show’s agenda – anchorman Jon Snow is a self-avowed leftist – is considered more important than its record.

Hilsum has a track record which includes anti-American reporting from Iraq for the British socialist journal
The New Statesman. Her latest is nothing more than a rehashing of the meme that has arisen in the UK media, going back to Gulf War One, of the US military as gung-ho and heavy handed, often to the detriment of civilians and British forces. (I’ve previously written about it at Big Journalism). Although this media crusade reached critical mass during George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, when it comes to the employment of American forces against non-westerners, even the Obama administration can’t catch a break from the British media.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When Muammar met Mandela

Here's a fun clip with which to torment your favourite liberal - Gadaffi being welcomed to South Africa by Nelson Mandela. Going by the attire it seems to be this visit from 1999.

But, you may protest, 'The West cozied up to Gadaffi! Blair visited him!' They certainly did, and they were idiots to do so. But this isn't one of those awkward, staged, diplomatic/business trip encounters. The chemistry between these guys is electric.

Thanks to the peerless Peter Hitchens for the tip-off. He mentions the video in one of his posts on Libya, all of which are well worth your time.

Coincidentally, Thomas Friedman is hoping for some Arab Mandelas!

Just a reminder: the cuts aren't as bad as Labour and the BBC would have you believe

As London clears up after yet another anti-cuts riot, the Mail on Sunday's Stephen Glover reminds us how relatively minor the cuts actually are, and why they're necessary.
The extreme severity of the cuts is now accepted as universally as are the laws of gravity. Even many card-carrying Tories will unthinkingly assume that the marchers have a reasonable case, though they may disapprove of the way in which it is expressed.

No one, or almost no one, will point out the amazing truth, which is that these cuts — variously described as ‘savage’ or ‘draconian’ or, by the TUC, as a ‘massacre’ — are actually comparatively mild. Far from being ‘slashed’, public expenditure at the end of the process in 2014-15 will be a mere three per cent lower in real terms than it was in 2009-10 before the cuts began.
That wasn’t a misprint. Three per cent lower. In 2009-10, government spending was £669 billion. In 2014-15 it is projected to be £647 billion, if you strip out the effects of inflation, or an estimated £764 billion if it is included. Expenditure will be £710 billion in 2011-2012, so in money terms it has already gone up.
The above shouldn't detract from the real hardship that many people will suffer as a result of the cuts, but as Glover points out, the scale of the cuts is an order of magnitude less severe than Labour, the unions and their media allies would have you believe...
But the three per cent figure is not what the overexcited and angry marchers will hear from a succession of speakers during the marathon rally in Hyde Park this afternoon, who will include TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, as well as Ed Miliband.

The audience will be roused to a state of fury with scare stories about plummeting police numbers and the impending privatisation of the NHS. They will hear about libraries up and down the country closing as a result of wicked Coalition policies, and the hairs on the backs of their necks will bristle as they are told about the inevitable collapse of the welfare state.
Glover goes on to remind us how Gordon Brown, ably assisted but current Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, got Britain into this mess...
In other words, Gordon Brown went on a massive bender, splashing out ever larger sums of money on new hospitals and new schools — sometimes to dishearteningly little effect — before producing a final splurge in order to alleviate the worst effects of the recession. During these ten years, the proportion of GDP eaten up by public spending rose from 36 per cent to 48 per cent, the highest ever peace-time figure.
The report by Tim Morgan which Glover references is here.

BBC tries to play down violent aftermath of union-backed protests endorsed by Miliband

Peter Hitchens writes in The Mail on Sunday about the BBC's appallingly biased reporting in the build-up to yesterday's union-organised rally/family fun day/full-scale riot in London - you need to scroll a good way down the Mail's comprehensive report on yesterday's events to get to his contribution. Hitchens writes about how the BBC's Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme gave predictably sympathetic coverage to the anti-cuts protestors.

This morning the Corporation (I used to use 'the Beeb' as an alternative reference for the BBC, but I've decided that's far too twee and cuddly-sounding – 'Corporation' better evokes the vast and sinister nature of the organisation) is in full damage-limitation mode, after the rally and march were followed by widespread violence.

The headline on the BBC's website (my bold) is 'TUC condemns post-rally violence', and the sub-heading is 'Union leaders who organised an anti-cuts protest condemn later violence in London's Trafalgar Square in which some 200 people were arrested'.

(The story itself is placed below a report on a murder which, horrific as it is, only affects and is of interest to a handful of people, in a further attempt to minimise its significance).

The second paragraph of the main report says: 'Hours after a peaceful march to Hyde Park, there were clashes between police and protesters in Trafalgar Square.

All of this is a lie.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Vintage Chomsky: Wisconsin the same as Egypt; Obama worse than Bush

Noam Chomsky shows he hasn't lost his sense of perspective as he discusses events in the Middle East with Jeremy Paxman for the BBC's Newsnight programme.

Amid the boilerplate about the West's support for dictators, and the perfectly sensible suggestion that the West shouldn't get involved in Libya because it's a civil war, there are a couple of Chomskyesque gems.

At around the 2.30 mark Chomsky relates how an Egyptian labour/labor leader sent a message of solidarity to protestors in Madison, Wisconsin. "In Madison they're trying to preserve aspects of democracy that are under serious attack," he tells Paxman. "In Egypt they're trying to gain rights that have been denied them. The trajectories are crossing but they're going in opposite directions."

You heard it here first. In a few short years the workers of Egypt will be enjoying a 30-hour week and universal healthcare, and retiring on final salary pensions at 50. Meanwhile those workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere in America who are lucky enough to have a job will be eking out a living selling kebabs, collecting scrap metal or hand-crafting clay bricks, and living in constant fear of arrest should they even think about protesting against President-for-life Palin.

Chomsky then comes out (at around the five-minute mark) with an observation that conservatives can at least agree on, albeit for different reasons. Asked by Paxman if Obama has proved to be no better than Bush, Chomsky replies "In many ways he’s worse".

For some reason Paxman - who you’d think would be familiar with Chomsky’s off-the-reservation brand of leftism - is taken aback with this and asks him to elaborate. It’s predictably downhill for there: “escalating war in Afghanistan... supporting criminal acts by Israel... Nuremberg trials... yadda yadda...”

Paxman has a reputation for being a formidable interviewer, so his inability - or reluctance - to seriously challenge the worst of Chomsky's nonsense ("Turkey is a respected country" was another corker) is disappointing. There's a fuller version of the interview here, but it's probably not available outside the UK.