Saturday, September 14, 2002
"Sensitivity" to traitors?
MARK STEYN WRITES a worrying column about September 11 and US Muslims, some of whom seem to know much more than we thought:
Among the more interesting Muslim items this past year was a story that appeared last October 11 in the Journal News, a suburban New York newspaper. It concerned a student in a Brooklyn high school, who, on September 6, 2001, stared out of the window and told his teacher: "See those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:49 | Permanent Link |
Friday, September 13, 2002
Drugs are bad, hmmkay?
IAIN MURRAY GIVES his view of the problem of drugs, and asks how it can best be solved. He raises a number of important, rarely made points, including showing that banning alcohol and banning drugs are not really comparable:
In some ways, as Norman Dennis implies in his review of alcohol and drug use in the UK, drug use can even be thought of as an alien invader into our culture. It may be one that we adopt as part of our general culture, but I doubt it. To that extent it may remain a folly of the youth subculture – like Trotskyism – but bans on it will never be comparable to the problems that prohibition brought with it. Banning booze is like trying to ban the word “the.” Banning drugs is like trying to ban the word “ontological.”
The folly that legalising drugs will mean a lighter tax burden or a better funded state sector is also dismissed quickly:
I should also add here that the experience in the UK with the significant black markets in alcohol and tobacco should show those people that advocate the "legalize and tax the bejeesus out of it" approach that that strategy would do nothing -- or very little -- to shrink the illegal industry.
My view is much the same as his: that on the scale of an all out government drugs war, decriminalisation, legalisation and a different way to fight drugs, the last option is the most effective. Good families and good homes provide the moral backbone that people need to refuse to use such substances. The law is a blunt and selective club by comparison.
One thing he didn't mention, which I believe may be the strongest argument against drugs, is that elucidated by Allen Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind. Drugs are immoral, he said, because they give pleasure without anything being done to earn it:
It artificially induces the exaltation naturally attached to the completion of the greatest endeavours - victory in a just war, consummated love, artistic creation, religious devotion and discovery of the truth. Without effort, without talent, without virtue, anyone and everyone is accorded the equal right to enjoyment of their fruits.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:58 | Permanent Link |
Blair is Bush's ambassador to liberal America - Chris SuellentropPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:58 | Permanent Link |
Thursday, September 12, 2002
A typical Brussels achievement
IF THE THOUGHT of Blair destroying the pound brings you out in a rash, you'll be interested to know that so does carrying the poisonous euro coin!Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:38 | Permanent Link |
The class hate lobby can't win this one
THE COUNTRYSIDE IS getting angry, reports Simon Heffer. Pro-country sports campaigns will in some cases go too far, but it is almost inconceivable to him that determined hunters will be cowed by the government:
The effects of any mass protest could be chaotic. If those prepared to defy a ban all did so on, say, the first Saturday morning after hunting was made illegal, what would the police do? As country people know, the police barely exist in many rural areas. If they set out to arrest dozens of people on horseback, what would they do with all the horses while the riders were chucked in the cells? How would they call together the hounds and what would they do with them? What would they do with foot followers? If, as is the case with most days’ hunting, no fox were caught, would what the huntsmen and hounds were doing actually be an entirely legal activity? One of the problems with this law is that the last Tory government allegedly made it easier to arrest saboteurs, but hardly any were arrested, because the police lacked the resources to make the confrontations necessary. The hunting crowd have noted this: they suspect that in the event of illegal hunting, hardly anyone would be brought to book. Those who were would be martyred, probably willingly, and used as examples of the absurdity of the law. There is much talk of making 90-year-old ladies masters of foxhounds and therefore technically responsible for the illegal activity that might take place. The hunters would then sit back and marvel at the spectacle of these dear, sweet old geriatrics being persecuted.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:21 | Permanent Link |
Ensuring more students is unaffordable and wrong
UNIVERSITIES ARE REPORTING that they currently are unable to afford the government's planned increase in places aimed at ensuring 50% of school leavers attend. Good. Too many people go to university already, undermining the value of a real education and a degree.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:30 | Permanent Link |
Those who urge on us the euro said the same about the ERM - The Spectator
Full text of Charles Kennedy's speech to the TUC.
A political discussion forum has now been added to this site, very kindly hosted for me by Marc Loakes of fragged.net. Maybe it will work well, maybe not, but I hope everyone - whatever their views - will register and post from time to time.
New forum thread: "Who was Pollard's anti-Semitic Tory?". Tries to work out who it was Stephen Pollard referred to in his recent post about an unnamed political columnist.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:43 | Permanent Link |
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
The silver lining is a more moral people
HOWEVER WICKED AND murderous the attacks of September 11 were, a better America emerged as a result, reports Dennis Prager:
the 9-11 attack provided many Americans with a moral and political clarity that they did not have prior to the attack. Most Americans are far clearer about good and evil in the world than they were before 9-11.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 20:31 | Permanent Link |
Now here is wisdom
AIDAN RANKIN IS a very different sort of Tory from me. His viewpoints I often find vaguely depressing and sometimes incomprehensible, particularly on economics. But his recent piece in Electric Review about political correctness was fantastic in every way. He shows how it is a betrayal of traditional liberalism and the assertion of something quite different: group rights. Its inconsistencies and inherent intolerance are known to most conservatives, but Rankin understands and describes them so well.
The identity ‘boxes’ imposed by political correctness are often wide of the mark. Afro-Caribbeans and West Africans are routinely lumped together as ‘black’, their radically different experiences crudely tossed aside by white do-gooders. ‘Anti-racist’ campaigners are horrified when Hindus and Sikhs refuse to be lumped together with Muslims as ‘Asian’, or when well-educated Muslim women passionately defend arranged marriages. The idea that homosexual men and lesbians form a ‘community’ is also a part of politically correct fantasy. So different are their emotional needs that uniting them is like forming an association of vegans and cannibals, merely because they are not conventional meat-eaters. ‘Women’, half the human population, are also said to constitute a group, although men are not. This doublethink is at the heart of forked-tongued politics. Women’s groups are ‘empowering’, men’s groups are chauvinist. There can be a Black Police Officers Association, but a white equivalent would be grossly racist. Small wonder that movements like the British National Party employ a political correctness of the right. The BNP slogan ‘Rights for Whites’ consciously echoes the glib, single-issue slogans of authoritarian liberalism.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 19:47 | Permanent Link |
Do the Tories need to be as sectarian as Labour?
HYWEL WILLIAMS TODAY had me wondering whether the Tories should not seek a certain sort of person to whom they should devote much of their efforts, putting other voters and interests second some of the time.
A political party exists in order to advance the interests of certain groups of people. Labour remains the protector of public sector salaries because of its view of the good society. But the Tories have no such equivalent bedrock. Their causes - horror of Europe and shrieks at red tape - are too diffuse to guarantee a socio-economic bite. They appeal, episodically and nosily, to the margins - as the fuel protests showed. And those margins can never harden into a solid body of persistent and threatening discontent. Much the same is true of the visceral Tory association with the Countryside Alliance. A tweed does not a party make.
Contrary to all the far-left cries of "Tory ruling classes" being opposed to government by the masses, the truth is precisely the opposite. Social class has been an almost invisible concept to Conservatives, whose focus has for a century been on just and good government. Most Labour supporters probably do believe that every failure of the state sector monopolies they all work in is down to "underinvestment" - that is, less government spending than they demand - but certainly there is a large element of self-interest in Labour support that isn't there for the Conservatives. On the whole, we did what was morally right, the interests of Britain and British people paramount in all considerations. While we governed well, that was fine. Although no one may particularly have felt that a Tory government was on their side as opposed to someone else's, sufficient numbers felt that as a whole it was making themselves and the country better, leading to us winning power twice as often as Labour. Equally, when incompetence and failure came along, as in 1972-74 and 1992-97, for example, they certainly showed no loyalty to the party.
In the past, this was not a particular problem. The public are just as quick to be rid of incompetent Labour governments, and Labour always managed to foul things up within a few years of being elected.
When, as now, Labour has manage to run the country without too many lives being worsened severely, the problems truly begin for the Conservative Party. Our outstanding qualification for government has been competence. When that is not a uniquely Conservative virtue, we face great difficulties through being without a core social group. Even if seeking such core support were practical, it still raises the vital question of who it should be. But Hywel Williams' analysis should not be dismissed easily.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:49 | Permanent Link |
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
"Since September 11, America has divided into two factions: those who fight evil and those who do not believe in evil." - Ben Shapiro
Full text of Blair's speech to the TUC.
It has been around a while, I know, but I can be slow to note these things. Anyway, Ben Sheriff's Layman's Logic is a great Britblog that I'll certainly be visiting daily. Be sure to check it out. I lurve his idea for a "free market tax system".Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:08 | Permanent Link |
Monday, September 09, 2002
Common sense from the Mail? What a surprise
TODAY'S GUARDIAN INCLUDES a fascinating interview with the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre. An enigmatic man who usually shuns media attention, he appears on television and radio not nearly so frequently as a Charles Moore or an Alan Rusbridger. The interview itself is extremely revealing and well informed, and Dacre sums up the conservative attitude to the economy and to the family skilfully:
"I was leftwing and I don't regret it one bit. I felt passionate about a lot of things. It was going to America [in the 70s to work for the Daily Express that changed his politics] . . . I don't see how anybody can go to America, work there for six years and not be enthralled by the energy of the free market. America taught me the power of the free market, as opposed to the state, to improve the lives of the vast majority of ordinary people. I left a Britain in 1976 that was ossified by an us-and-them, gaffers- versus-workers mentality in which a tribal working class was kept in place by subservience to the Labour authorities who owned their council homes, to the unions and the nationalised industries. Mrs Thatcher, in what was a terribly painful process, broke that destructive axis, empowered the individual and restored aspiration and self-reliance in this country. And, I suppose, if there are two words that sum up the Mail's philosophy, they're 'aspiration' and 'self-reliance'."
He also reveals much about Blair's private feelings, sadly rarely acted on:
"I very much regret that much of what she [Lady Thatcher] did is slowly being unwound. I had a good relationship with the prime minister in the early days. I've been to dinner at No10. I think Tony Blair is a remarkable man and I think history will give him enormous credit for making the Labour party electable, but I think he is a chameleon who believes what he said to the last person he talked to.
Chris Woodhead has reported similar conversations with the Prime Minister, where Blair showed great sympathy for ordinary parents with their kids stuck in dead-end schools with plummeting standards, but of course, when it came to the point of making policy, he would give in to his own left-wing and smash the grammar schools and the assisted places scheme. James Naughtie reports that Tony Blair himself, as a Christian, is opposed to abortion as anything for his family to practice, but is happy for it to remain legal.
In a way, all these positions show that new as New Labour may be, it isn't as far as it sometimes seems from the privileged Soviet bureaucracy and the socialists of old, who enjoyed all the great benefits of society for themselves and left everyone else begging for whatever the state would offer. There is no greater hypocrisy than scrapping the assisted places scheme and grammar schools while sending your children to one of the best schools in the country and buying them private tuition, or in believing that unborn Blairs have a right to life, but unborn children from other families do not. In this hypocrisy, the Soviets and Labour - Old and New - are at one.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:26 | Permanent Link |
Some wise words on press freedom from the Dacre interview:
"I do regret, deeply, that for many years we have had such a weak opposition, because too much focus is put on the press, with daft accusations that they [newspapers] are the official opposition. It's twaddle. Tony Blair's got five years - I have to face a general election every day to persuade people to spend 40p to buy a paper. So this nonsense about papers having too great a power and destroying politics - I do feel quite angry about it."
Comments seem to be broken (again). I plan to set up a forum for this page, so maybe that end the need for a reliable host that no one seems able to meet.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:24 | Permanent Link |
Sunday, September 08, 2002
What's wrong is wrong, whatever the UN thinks
TO MANY LEVEL-HEADED people, it seems that the United Nations cannot see a mass-murdering tyrant without grovelling to him. Yet the decisions of this same UN are held up by 'doves' as the absolute moral standard by which all military action should be judged. The Sunday Telegraph asks why:
On Thursday, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, expressed doubts that the prospective conflict would pass his own ethical tests - which included the endorsement of the UN, the support of the EU, and the compatibility of military action with "international law".
The truth is that whatever the UN or the EU thinks, Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are a danger to us all. Fighting him and liberating Iraq would not be immoral, but absolutely right and just. Why no English clergyman can see that is baffling. Perhaps the Bishops at the top really have forgotten how to distinguish fashionable, politically correct causes from Christian morality. It certainly hasn't been the latter that most have been preaching for the last few decades.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:44 | Permanent Link |
An end to trade union democracy?
A FEW YEARS ago, Britain became the only industrialised country in the world to be giving powers back to trade unions. Now the Marxist leader of the rail workers' union, Bob Crow, has called for the abolition of all the remaining laws introduced in the early '80s that ensured good industrial relations. In 1979, 29.5 million working days were lost to strikes. Fifteen years later, this figure was less than 2% what it had been - just thirty thousand.
The laws introduced protected workers, employers, small businessmen and members of the public against the militant shop stewards who, in their greed and love of anarchy, saw in every chipped coffee cup an excuse to cause industrial chaos. The laws ensured public money for secret ballots on every union strike to ensure both that votes were taken at all, and that the workmen were not influenced by intimidation and bullying. They also ended the closed shop, a unionised version of conscription, which forced people to join a union or lose their job, and banned flying pickets and secondary strikes, where people go on strike in one company because of what another business did, despite their own conditions being more than satisfactory.
Anyone who believes in individual liberty and democracy cannot raise any reasoned objections to these laws, which gave the power back to the workers, and ended the industrial chaos that wrecked the country in the 1970s. So let no one be fooled by what Bob Crow is willing to tolerate to get his own way: a return to those dark and violent days of two decades ago, when unafforable pay demands are followed by long strikes in which nurses send cancer patients home to die and the dead go unburied.
With so many militants taking over unions lately, the Thatcherite union laws are the only thing between their greedy whims and economic ruin. Thank God Blair is committed to keeping them in place. Let this promise be one he actually keeps.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 12:07 | Permanent Link |
Sometimes nature knows best
IT HAS BECOME rather meaningless to ask that people not "mess with nature", rightly prompting the question "Why not?". Such answers are sometimes difficult to put into words, but not so much in the case of the new Belgian baby clinic, which earns its profits from those parents who will pay for the sex of their child to be determined by sorting of sperm into X- and Y-chromosome types.
Just imagine for a moment those children who discover that something so important as their sex* was determined artificially at birth: that they only exist because they happened to be the sex their parents wanted. The idea that some human beings have the right to determine such things for others seems contrary to all that civilised nations believe about individual rights and the inherent equal worth of all. I am not talking about unborn babies here - though I do think they also deserve more respect - but about the people who are born from these procedures and will be recognised legally as being entitled to all the rights given to every other man, woman and child. Designer babies reduce the respect for life that we all have: that we are all independent and unique human beings of worth in ourselves. Once people's physical attributes are chosen for them before birth, it is as though they have less rights than those who make such decisions. The recent choice of two American lesbians to use IVF to produce a baby girl who was deliberately made deaf is testament to how far down this vicious road we have already travelled.
It also comes dangerously close to the sort of eugenics I hope we all would rather see the back of. We must ask too about the damage such procedures do to society. India is on its way to real problems with a sex imbalance in society because of the availability of cheap ultrasound scans and cheap abortion. All over the country, it is becoming very fashionable to find out the sex of the baby in the middle of the pregnancy, and then kill her if she happens to be a girl, in order that the parents can have more boy children. Repulsive as this may be in itself, it is setting up real problems for the future of the country, where all these men will be unable to find wives, with the natural balance of the population knocked entirely out of place. Nature may have got many things wrong, but perhaps we wouldn't be wrong to leave it to her to determine the sex of our offspring. The 50/50 sex balance is required for a stable, normal society and children who are to be born have rights of their own, including the right not to be the handiwork of others. We mess with such matters at our peril.
*The word is not 'gender', by the way - that is a word to classify nouns in romantic languages into masculine, feminine and sometimes neuter as well. No person has a gender; only nouns in languages like French and German do.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:14 | Permanent Link |
A peaceful, cooperative world will remain a pipedream for some time to come, Bill
BILL CLINTON WRITES for the Observer today, unfortunately finding himself unable to reduce the number of silly platitudes he can mix in with attempts at serious analysis.
The idea of a global community of cooperating members was not institutionalised until the United Nations was founded in 1945. Achieving it was not a practical possibility until China decided in the 1970s to move toward the rest of the world ...
Thank you, President Nixon?
... and the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
Thank you, President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher?
Our challenge is to figure out how people can enjoy the benefits and identity of their discrete communities and still successfully be part of larger communities. The European Union is a shining example of how former enemies can retain national identity and still become close allies.
Indeed. All it costs us was many billions of pounds a year, virtual isolation from trade with the rest of the world, our fishing grounds, the success of our agriculture industry and our right to make our own laws. That national identity thing hasn't long, either.
Belief in a shared future requires rejecting the radical fundamentalist claim to possess the whole truth in favour of the belief that life is a journey in search of the truth and that we all have something to contribute.
Ah yes - back to the infamous 'America is right because we are starting to think we don't actually have any idea who is right' thinking of his Dimbleby Lecture. And actually, what is wrong with religious people believing their interpretation of God's word to be true? It isn't their beliefs that are the issue - it is the crimes a few of them go on to commit in their name. Besides, there is a world of difference between believing "Allah wants all Jews dead" to be true and believing "Jesus commands that we do as we would be done by" to be true.
The funny thing is after all the cliches and 'united world' platitudes, his five priorities for America that follow are actually rather sensible: continuing to wage war on Al Quaeda, attempting diplomatic efforts to stop the North Korean dictatorship developing WMDs, invade Iraq if necessary to stop development of WMDs, support all allies in their domestic wars against terror (eg. Columbia) and improve security at home.
All very sensible, unoriginal thinking, but I sense that it is motivated by precisely the understanding that the peaceful world of cooperation that he hopes for is a long way off. Contrary to what he suggests, democracy is a Western value, and it just hasn't taken hold properly anywhere else, yet. The world he envisions, so far as it means anything, is dependent upon free societies, with economic liberty and free trade ensuring by the prosperity it generates that envy does not motivate international relations, that war is uneconomic, and that democratic pressures prevent fanatics from seizing power and waging war on their neighbours.
Unless Clinton has any realistic non-military plans for ensuring such a global community, it looks as though the troubled, terror-ridden world we now live in has not yet had its time by any means. It is here to stay, and if we want to remain free, the only option is to fight back.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:40 | Permanent Link |
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