Saturday, March 08, 2003
Still lost, still paranoid
DOES LEFTIST PARANOIA about the Bush Administration know no bounds? I do wonder. Their latest excitement is over the right-of-centre US think tank Project for the New American Century. Its Reaganite agenda of encouraging the spread of American values sounds reasonable enough, and Iain Murray was plain in asking what precisely was so bad about this.
American principles involve freedom, democracy and civil rights for women and minorities. American interests involve a world free from terror, peace (yes!) and free trade. These are just a few examples. So just what the devil is the matter with believing a strong America is good for the world?
Well, the answer given on the Guardian forums is that the spread of American values is a code for world domination so clever that only all the conspiracy theorists on the left can decipher it. They aren't kidding. Here's one of their more articulate spokesman making the case:
A trademark of the ideology is that they always dress up their empire building agenda in Orwellian doublespeak. They will never actually say that " ......they intend to spread these values through the use of force". Instead they use phrases like "defending America's vital interests, if necessary with the use of military force."
The parallels are exact, aren't they? I mean the fact that PNAC is made up of democratic politicians and foreign policy analysts who bury their malevolent plans for world domination in rhetoric like "encourage the spread of free institutions and democracy" - as opposed to declaring them to be the will of Allah for which all must work or die - counts for nothing. More's the point, it really is just nitpicking to note that none of the PNAC fanatics have yet found time to establish terrorist training camps, plant bombs in Australasian night-clubs or pilot jet-liners into skyscrapers full of civilians. Really, when you put it like that, it's impossible not to feel threatened. Forget Al-Qaida, folks. Francis Fukayama and Dan Quayle pose the real threat to your life and liberty, and if you don't also consider them to be as dangerous as Osama Bin Laden, then you jolly well ought to!Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:22 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions." - Abba Eban, Former Israeli Ambassador to the United NationsPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:59 | Permanent Link |
Friday, March 07, 2003
As we put the pressure on Saddam, Al-Qaida is crumbling
IN THE SAME WEEK as the arrest of Al-Qaida number three Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, allegedly the man who personally decapitated Daniel Pearl, two of Bin Laden's sons have been captured and nine Al-Qaida terrorists have been killed in a single operation. Can we please now see an end to this myth that by dealing with the threat from rogue states like Iraq, we are likely to be 'distracted' from prosecuting the war on terror properly? During the First Gulf War, IRA terrorists were mortaring Downing Street, and still the conflict was won. As was the case during the Falklands War, when the threat of the IRA and Argentina both loomed large, and were both faced down. The war to liberate Iraq is a part of the war on terror - it is removing a huge stockpile of terrible weapons that, if they fall into terrorist hands, are an immense threat to the security of all free nations. Disarming Saddam is not about ignoring the war on terror - it's one of the most important phases of winning it.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:17 | Permanent Link |
Inflation at 2%, a pay offer of 16%, and the FBU still says no
THE FIRE BRIGADES UNION has now refused a hyper-inflationary pay rise of 16%, despite its ignominious failure to put any pressure on during their strikes through the final months of last year. It seems the Prime Minister was more accurate than we realised in describing Andy Gilchrist as "Scargillite", for Gilchrist has in common with the former NUM Leader a total inability to see when the game is up.
If the ordinary firemen of this country weren't so much more decent than their terrible leadership, I'd support teaching the FBU a lesson by taking every penny of the 16% and giving it to the army, who on the brink of war with Iraq have still done a fantastic job in putting out fires and saving lives all over the country. Head and shoulders above government, employers and firemen, Her Majesty's Armed Forces are the unsung heroes of this industrial conflict.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 00:40 | Permanent Link |
Thursday, March 06, 2003
Bush isn't evil, but it's good that the left is so deluded as to think he is
A NEW ZEALAND WOMAN shows the mentality of the anti-war brigade with a bizarre offer: her own crucifixion if Bush declines to disarm Saddam by force. If the offer is genuine, it means she really believes that the US President is a psychopath baying for blood, and will accept hers in exchange for Saddam's. It's not just rhetoric and overblown propaganda to this woman - she actually believes the man is psychotic, willing forgo a war for this crucifixion.
So as to eliminate all doubts about her mental state, she goes on to say that she would insist on Bush himself driving in the nails, for that, she tells us, is "the true measure of a man". I guess that as I can't imagine myself being capable of crucifying an innocent person, even a fruitcake like her, that rules me out too. I'd hope that by her definition, almost no one is a "true man".
No wonder such leftists cannot form a credible opposition to Bush when they are so convinced by their own ridiculous propaganda. How can you oppose a man who wants lower taxes, the spread of basic decent values and safety from terrorists and rogue states if you sincerely believe he is a sadistic lunatic who plans on establishing a dictatorship? Significant sections of the left are becoming paranoid to the point of insanity - to the point indeed, of voluntary crucifixion. This may seem a bad thing, but it isn't. If the Republican Party keeps its feet on the ground, opposing the likes of Gore and Carter not because they think they are evil or fascistic, but because of a conviction that they get a lot of things wrong, then the right will know its enemy and be able to give sensible reasons to oppose them. Meanwhile, if all the left can do is make the most laughable accusations, they will feel immensely smug in their own moral superiority, but they will never convince a majority.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 20:29 | Permanent Link |
A Blogger Returns
BRITISH SPIN IS BACK! My blog-memory is sadly short, and I can't remember the difference between his views and Harry Steele's, but I do remember British Spin being a very insightful and interesting read. Visit regularly and I'm sure you'll discover the same.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:44 | Permanent Link |
Milburn's right, but do his party know it?
I AM NOT a big fan of my MP, the Health Secretary Alan Milburn. He seemed decidedly slimey the couple of times I've met him, and I've heard stories of him being invited to deal with a constituent's problem, rudely putting his feet on their table and then just slouching there disinterested, pretending to write down their complaints. Worse still, in six years as a Health Minister, three of them as Health Secretary, he seems to have achieved precisely nothing.
Nonetheless, in his current conflict with the Chancellor over the new semi-independent foundation hospitals, I think he is right, and I hope he prevails. Gordon Brown, still wedded to the 1945 model welfare state, is not willing to accept large-scale change and choice in the NHS, for fear that the statist command-model he prefers will be decimated. But Milburn has nonetheless expressed his wish that every state hospital be a foundation hospital by 2008, echoing Michael Howard's challenge that Labour be truly radical by making this their policy.
Listen to Milburn's brave and frank response in the House of Commons to the Lib Dems, who side with the Chancellor and most of the Labour Party on this issue.
When Sandra Gidley, a Liberal Democrat, asked Mr Milburn how he would stop patients "voting with their feet" and using foundation hospitals instead of non-foundation ones, Mr Milburn replied: "Why should I want to stop patients exercising choice?"
Hard to argue with that, but it's rare to hear a Blairite being so bold and honest - and facing reality! Can you imagine him trying such rhetoric at a Labour Party Conference? He'd be lynched.
Sadly, support for Milburn on this issue has to be qualified. I can't say with any confidence that the Health Secretary will get his way. Ranged against him is Gordon Brown, half the cabinet and most of the Labour Party inside and outside parliament. Add to that the drearily unambitious timescale of five years, by which time Labour will have been in power as long as Margaret Thatcher, and much of the gloss and shine of the policy is lost.
When a bright young Labour minister concludes that things must change radically, Tories should applaud him. But when he belongs to a party and government so reactionary in their attitudes to the state sector, mere good intentions are not enough. In the end, whatever Milburn may achieve, it won't be half as much as what Liam Fox could do. A thoroughly decent and clever man, and a former doctor, the Shadow Health Secretary is not wedded to any statist dogma, and would ensure the best care for all patients, without many dozens on the benches behind him fighting it at every turn. While supporting Milburn when he is right, Conservatives should not forget how much less even the brightest, most realistic and undogmatic Labour Health Secretary can offer to people than a Tory government wholly committed to the choice and patient power the sick so desperately need.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:44 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"Justice for Palestine? Be careful what you wish for." - Natalie Solent's enigmatic response to recent news from the Middle East. Think about it.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:14 | Permanent Link |
How Leftist identity politics contributes to anti-Semitism
AS PETA - the animal rights group which wrote to Arafat to ask him to stop killing donkeys, though not Jews - displays posters comparing eating animals to the holocaust, Jonah Goldberg suggests reasons why anti-Semitism is so much on the ascent on the Left just as it dies out almost completely on the Right.
Obviously, legitimate disagreements over Israeli policy toward the Palestinians is part of the equation. But there are other factors.
As is lamentably rarely pointed out, the one decisive, essential argument against racism is that everyone should be judged on his own merits - the argument of individuality and individual rights. But by accepting racial preferences and anti-white discrimination, the Left denies this argument, turning everyone from people to be judging in their own right and on their own merits, into racial proxies, mere representatives of rival camps.
As a graphic example of this, I recently put to an affirmative action supporter what I thought was the obvious point that if a black man doesn't get a job opportunity because of his skin colour, it is an injustice, and that if a white man doesn't get a job opportunity because of his skin colour, it is also an injustice. I was to go on to argue that so as far as affirmative action made a difference, it only did so by doubling injustices. But instead I got the response that in fact the two cases cancel each other out: for the white man to lose a job opportunity for his skin colour isn't merely not wrong - it is actually good, neutralising racism against black people. Is it any wonder that people happy to view others in such terms, and to deny the basics of individuality, judging people more by their skin colour than their abilities, would be especially susceptible to anti-Semitism? What a shameful betrayal of the principles of the civil rights movement such an attitude is. What an entirely predictably consequence of this betrayal.
BEN SHAPIRO'S INTERVIEW with a PETA representative of the campaign is as chilling as it is revealing.
The most stunning moment of the interview came when I asked Butler, who has a 6-year-old daughter: "If your child were, God forbid, brutally murdered, would you feel comfortable allowing pictures of your child's body to be placed on billboards alongside pictures of a slaughtered chicken?" He replied, "I would say that if some good could come from my child's death, then that would be a good thing ... " He would post a picture of his murdered daughter on a billboard and equate her murder with the slaughter of a chicken. How can any human being do that?Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:01 | Permanent Link |
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Quote of the Day
"So the people who get drunk in public are not having a good time: they are undergoing therapy. If they didn’t vomit in the street, stagger into the road, scream obscenities at passers-by, have fights with broken bottles, they might do - or even more seriously, suffer - something worse." - Theodore Dalrymple on the permissive attitude that all repression of feelings is harmful and all inhibitions wrongPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:51 | Permanent Link |
If you have plenty of intelligence, you should be able to see why democracies need the same
AS PAUL FOOT condemns the FBI for its sloppiness in arresting innocent British pensioner Derek Bond, whose 21-day ordeal was clearly a disgrace, even if it does not quite merit the levels of media attention given to his release (perhaps rivalled only by that given to Nelson Mandela's). Foot is right, of course, that the FBI and CIA have been responsible for some major failures of late, most obviously 9/11. But sadly he doesn't make the connection between these errors and their true cause.
Both the FBI and CIA were for many years admired and feared for their efficiency - and justly so. They did a very good job for a very long time. But the real errors only came about in the 1990s. The reason is depressingly predictable. President Clinton, riding on a tide of 1990s soccer-mom issues, decided to make concessions to the extreme civil liberties groups and castrate both the CIA and FBI. The FBI was stripped of its right to monitor extremist organisations, sometimes having to turn to undercover journalists for intelligence on radical Islamists that they should have been collecting first-hand. The CIA meanwhile was forbidden from making use of any agent or informant with a record of human rights violations (imagine the CIA trying in 1970s Chile to prevent the spread of the Cold War into South America faced with this sort of bureaucracy!). Politically correct priorities also ensured both agencies had to prioritize the hiring minorities and women, irrespective of talent, and of whether they could speak the languages of America's enemies.
It is worth remembering that Bin Laden tried to destroy the World Trade Centre in 1993, the year Clinton was inaugurated. The plan to collapse one tower on the other failed because of US intelligence. Eight years of Clintonism later, we weren't so fortunate.
Sadly, you just know Paul Foot would heartily approve of the measures that made it impossible for US intelligence to do its job. The left is going to have to accept that if they want good intelligence, they will need to demand less in the way of regulations from spies than from apple salesmen or librarians. This applies just as much in this country, to MI5 and MI6, who earned the enmity of the left for fighting Soviet backed organisations and the miners back in the 1980s, but whose primary role now is in dealing with the Islamofascist threat and that of the BNP, whom they have infiltrated from top to bottom, if the more paranoid columnists I read can be believed.
Of course it isn't nice to spy on people, some of them not involved in anything illegal. But far less nice are atrocities on the scale of 9/11, and murders that could easily have been prevented if only we'd bugged the right telephone. Intelligence is absolutely necessary, and its efficiency must be paramount over politically correct obsessions and civil liberties concerns.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:38 | Permanent Link |
True to form, the BBCdian elite keeps on blaming the victim
AS FIFTEEN ISRAELI CIVILIANS are murdered by a Palestinian homocide bomber, the BBCdian elite respond in typical fashion. The Guardian subtlely tries to blame the victims by pointing out in its final paragraph that the atrocity came "days after the establishment of a new rightwing government in Israel". The BBC instead gives a suicide-bomber's perspective, mostly focused on how they enter the world of terrorism:
They are likely to be motivated by religious fervour.
And this indeed is the whole tenor of the column - that it is religious faith and personal desperation that make people willing to blow up so many innocents merely for being Jews. No mention is made of a lifetime of state school indoctrination, from holocaust-denial in childhood to how low down the evolutionary ladder the Jews are in adolescence. There is a brief reference to how much terrorist families are paid for breeding homocide bombers, but the BBC unbelievably calls the donor organisations (which include Saddam Hussein's Iraq) "charities".
Total peace will not come to the Middle East until the Palestinians learn to love their children more than they hate the Jews. Through hate and avarice, they breed a generation of fanatics and then profit from their suicidal murders. The problem is not religion but hate and brainwashing. This cannot be solved until the terrorist and kleptocratic Arafat regime is removed.
LITTLE BETTER IS the BBC profile of Bin Laden's inspiration Yasser Arafat, which not once uses the word "terrorist" to describe the man who invented plane hijacking, has ordered so many assassinations, who names public squares after homocide bombers, who set up the PLO (three years before the "occupied territories" were occupied) in order to destroy the state of Israel, and who rejected Ehud Barak's offer of 97% of all Palestinian demands, destroying the Middle East peace process and starting the present conflict.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:09 | Permanent Link |
Blair is listening to the real majority on Iraq
CONVINCING NRO COLUMN from Iain Murray on British attitudes to the rest of the world. He looks at opinion polls asking the crucial questions about war with Iraq and the importance of the UN and concludes that ordinary British people were certainly not represented by the Trotskyists and Islamofascists who marched on 15 February, and instead are by a large majority willing to support military action even despite two UN Security Council vetos.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:34 | Permanent Link |
History and music are not racial, and it is folly to pretend they are
THE ONION HAS a fun piece ridiculing the American 'Black History Month', simply by turning all its cliches around and showing how silly and offensive they then sound. As 'White History Year' begins, all Americans remember the contribution whites have made.
"Whites have contributed so much to this country," Frist continued. "Did you, for example, know that a white man, Jonas Salk, discovered the cure for polio? It's true."
Sadly, it isn't just America where 'black' is an adjective used in relation to colourless subjects like history. For months, the BBC obsessively promoted something they called 'Black Music', as if to suggest that British blacks have a different taste from others, and can only appreciate violent rap music and the like. This notion - that having the same skin colour as the man who wrote the music you hear is of any relevance - is typical of the politically correct attitudes that only delay the integration of non-whites into the sort of colour-blind society we should all seek. The same applies to dividing history up into racial categories. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:12 | Permanent Link |
By calling you "The Enemy Within", I'm being nice - really!
AS A LOT of people seem to think the section of my blogroll entitled "The Enemy Within" is intended to be some sort of snub or attack, let me explain. It is not a Nixonian enemies list. It is just a link to weblogs that take a view on politics that I disagree with, but which are nonetheless well worth a look. I use this section to make clear the difference between a web page whose views I pretty much endorse (this is a Conservative site, after all), and those I do not, but whose posts are still worth reading. "The Enemy Within" is a tip of the hat to Maggie's description of the National Union of Miners, not a suggestion that Harry Steele or Matthew Turner are traitors to the British people. If you run a left-wing or liberal blog and I link to you, it's meant as a favour. Take the title in the good humour it is intended.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 01:51 | Permanent Link |
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Calling into question the obvious; affirming the monstrous
IN ADDITION TO the justified anger at the Guardian's disgusting Welsh pensioner turns freedom fighter headline, covered so well by Stephen Pollard and his correspondents, it's worth just contrasting that with a report today on the Greek terrorist group November 17. The title to this piece is 'Terror gang' on trial in Athens. So although the paper is willing to report as fact that a woman who sympathises with mass-murdering homocide bombers is a freedom fighter, it is not willing to make equally obvious that one of the world's leading terrorist groups is a terror gang, preferring instead to quote it as if it were a gibe against them rather than objectively true. Beyond belief. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:38 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"This is a question of common sense. It used to be said that an Englishman's home is his castle. I do not think that medieval knights used to expect to sue the defendant of castles if they fell off the drawbridge they were invading." - Oliver Letwin on laws allowing burglars to sue their victims if they get injured in their homesPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:21 | Permanent Link |
"Nature must not be sexist! Let's deny sociobiology!"
WHEN BASIC SCIENCE comes into conflict with feminist ideology or postmodernist relativism, it loses out just as surely as when it encounters religious fundamentalism. Fact before ideology is just not the way for Zoe Williams. In the Guardian today, she unbelievably dismisses the whole of sociobiology as existing "only to explain why men are within their rights to pursue young hotties". There's no indication that she does not mean it when she writes that "its agenda is conservative, misogynist and homophobic", as though scientific facts must conform to her political prejudices. It is a 'sexist' part of science that human males are generally much stronger than human females, too. Perhaps we should deny this as well on the same grounds.
Quite how little she understands the subject is revealed by such howlers as her assertion of the "fact that women have more to gain, biologically, from promiscuity, and men have more to gain from fidelity".
Sociobiology asserts that human behaviour is influenced by the inborn desire to pass on one's genes. So when a man falls in love, it is because he has found a woman who will enable this effectively. We like thin waists because they prove the woman is not already pregnant to another man, and wide hips to provide a large birth canal for the baby and so on.
Given this, the ability to have many, many children is an obvious bonus. It allows you to spread your genes far and wide. But who will benefit more from promiscuity? A male who can leave straight after the conception, forcing the mother to do the rest even though the parents' share in the child's genes is exactly equal? Or the female, who does all the work of giving birth to a child and feeding and raising him from then on? Obviously, in any species where the mother gives birth and performs the maternal role, promiscuity is particularly beneficial for the male - he can avoid any of the work of raising a child (perhaps even unloading it onto another creature's mate, to the detriment of this male's genetic legacy) while spreading 50% of his genes with every one of his offspring born. Yes, the mothers can get that same proportion with each birth, but only at the expense of doing nearly 100% of the work.
So even now, in an age of contraception, the instinct to be unfaithful exists, and more so in men than women. To deny this - and further to assert the opposite of perhaps the most basic sociobiological facts - is just astounding. Equally silly is the assertion that genetic dispositions towards adultery should excuse it in human beings free to make choices for themselves. Genes do not give people commands impossible to obey. They produce instincts mild and strong, but instincts that do not dominate the decisions of a free and rational species like ours.
How pathetic and tragic that even science and our understanding of the world is not safe from the ravages of political correctness in our daily newspapers. It seems that to Zoe Williams, it doesn't matter what is true - it's what fits socially liberal ideology that matters. What frighteningly closed-minded fanaticism. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:29 | Permanent Link |
Monday, March 03, 2003
An ode to the Anglosphere
THANKS TO ANDREW SULLIVAN for pointing out a well put together music video with a difference, which explores the closeness of the Anglo-American relationship. What it lacks in subtlety and originality it makes up for with humour.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:50 | Permanent Link |
Evil exists, but not in a form television or its viewers can easily detect
VERY INTERESTING COLUMN from Jenny McCartney on the way television makes even the greatest tyrants and monsters seem more human. It's not rational, but it is a real phenomenon. I remember seeing news clips of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, showing the Ayatollah flying home to seize power. Inside the plane, all I saw was a turbanned old man, uncomfortable in his seat and uneasy about being filmed by the BBC. He didn't look very imposing or dangerous. Then it showed his return speech: "We will cut off the hands of the infidels" and the like. I was impressed at how easily I had been fooled.
I also remember watching a video about Hitler in a history lesson and seeing the reaction of the rest of the class as Hitler was shown smiling warmly at a fellow German. It was such a rare sight, and it was such an ill fit with what they knew about him, that many seemed for a moment to be startled.
Jenny McCartney focuses on how the phenomenon relates to Saddam and Sinn Fein/IRA terrorists, but it applies just as much to Josef Stalin, Yasser Arafat or - as Nick Cohen has noted - on a lesser scale to the likes of Nick Griffin.
Many on the Left would say that this only proves that there is good in everyone - that to say someone is evil is just a gibe. But the reality is more complex. Evil exists in various forms all over the world, often banal, sometimes blatantly wicked. But it is not usually shown in red skin or demonic horns. To see the evil in someone, one must examine their actions and attitudes. As we have evolved to judge people's intentions towards us on the basis of basic mannerisms, we are easily deceived by a broad smile and calm exterior. But that we cannot detect the wicked through such simple means is not to say there are no evil people, nor that we should not work on finding them out and opposing them. How ironic that television, a wonder of modern civilisation, should further encourage in us an instinctive, neanderthal era approach to others. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:16 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"I want people to have a nice life. They don't tell me they have lousy holidays or that they have lousy choice in the supermarkets or they can't get a car they like. They tell me they can't find a road to drive on, they can't find a train to take them where and when they want to go. Some of them are not too happy about the education service, and a lot of them are not too happy about the health service. All the things that people are miserable about have this in common, that they are very influenced by and in some cases monopolised by the public sector" - John RedwoodPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:02 | Permanent Link |
A workable two state solution must be in the interests of both states
GREAT PIECE FROM Mark Steyn in the Canadian National Post on the Snowcroftite peace process favoured for the Middle East. Beginning by mentioning this site, he homes in on the fatal flaw the peace deal proposed by the oh-so-enlightened has always had - it serves Palestinian interests admirably, while granting Israel not a thing. "Land for peace" always loses Israel land but never grants her peace.
The problem with Jerusalem is not one of jurisdictional technicalities: it's that a substantial proportion of Palestinians see a two-state solution as an intermediate stage to a one-state solution. You may well agree with the jihadi on that: certainly many Europeans do. But there's no reason at all why Israel should go along with it.
A powerful argument, and ultimately the definitive one as far as Israeli public opinion is concerned. No democracy can live with the constant danger of an Islamofascist tyranny across the borders plotting its destruction. Until an end to this murderous threat is in sight, Israel cannot - should not - concede to her enemy's demands.
It's also great to think that Mark Steyn reads this page at least occasionally. As he clearly is interested in the whole blogging phenomenon, I have wondered a couple of times if he ever stumbled across this page. I am very pleased that this is the case, and that this site helped supply a key quote for his column.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:46 | Permanent Link |
Link of the Week
THE NEXT LINK OF THE WEEK is to the Fashionable Dictionary, a great lexicon of the perspectives beloved of "postmodernists", sociologists, feminists and anthropologists. With this page alone, you could bluff your way through a cultural debate between the world's top social science professors. A selection of definitions:
Self-esteemPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:49 | Permanent Link |
They don't argue for socialised public services because they can't
EVERY MONDAY, Roy Hattersley writes a column for the Guardian. In this case "a" is the operative word, because besides a little rewording, it seems to be the very same column every week. This week, for the umpteenth time, he says that New Labour should be more egalitarian and radical, and supports Gordon Brown as a preferred Labour leader. What I find so baffling about all these pieces is the way he offers not a shred of support for his ideas. Just one or two lines explaining why command economy healthcare and education are sacrosanct would do. Why should we keep shovelling such a great share of our national income into them, and to no avail? Why appease class envy by enforcing equality of outcome? Why will consumer choice fail in healthcare provision when it works so well in telephones, computers, televisions, clothes, food, housing and holidays? Over to you, Roy.
In its anniversary editorial, Renewal set out the three imperatives of future policy. Labour should, it wrote, aim to build a society that is "economically egalitarian, socially liberal and politically pluralist". Who could argue with that? The answer is half the cabinet. Nobody could accuse Blair of being egalitarian, David Blunkett of harbouring liberal instincts or of secretly espousing pluralism. But to succeed, perhaps in the long term even to survive, the government has to become all of those things. As Renewal demonstrates, the thinking world is moving in the essential direction. Brown must articulate the change.
So his entire supporting reasoning is "the government has to become all of those things", "the thinking world is moving in the essential direction" and "Who could argue with that?". Marvellous.
His other columns are equally barren of reasoned argument in support of the 1945 model welfare state, as are those of so many of his Guardian colleagues. We see a real crisis in the way the public sector runs all the services in which there is a private sector alternative. While thousands die of diseases contracted in government hospitals and a huge proportion of state school-leavers are illiterate, we get tremendous choice and freedoms in every other area of life. The real future is one in which the basic choices everyone has in food and housing also exist when they get ill or their kids go to school. The state has none of the competitive and consumer pressures that ensure your nearest book shop and airline company are up to scratch. Their introduction into more important areas of life can only be good for everyone. Further subsidising the old ways can only ensure more of the same mediocrity.
Am I being fatuous in asking for some arguments to consider and dissect from advocates of the command model of public services? I am open to conversion to their way of thinking if only they made some attempt to show why they are right. The trouble is they don't have any reasoned arguments left. All they can do is make frightening noises about the evils of paying for your own hip operation through an insurance or voucher system, and appeal to some abstract notion of equality which in practice ensures only that those who cannot afford to go private die - the precise indictment they still absurdly throw at those who believe in choice in public services. It's as though they think that if poor pensioners and cancer patients must die, then let it at least be on an NHS waiting list, and let us at least confine millions of others who could otherwise afford better to the same unfortunate circumstances.
Egalitarianism and equality of outcome aren't the solutions to all the problems of Britain's public services. They are the cause. That their advocates cannot even defend their model rationally is further proof of that. Five or six decades ago, it was seriously argued that nationalised industries and services could be more efficient and offer a better deal to the public than those run by private individuals. Years of experience later, these notions are ridiculous, but still we stick to the same ideologies long after their supporting arguments were definitively discredited. It's time we stopped. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:19 | Permanent Link |
Sunday, March 02, 2003
Quote of the Day
"Are Middle Class England aware they are marching behind an alliance of two groups - one who wish to replace parliamentary democracy with a dictatorship of the proletariat and another who would have us live under sharia law - united only in their shared hatred of Israel?" - Harry Steele on the champagne peaceniksPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:10 | Permanent Link |
Stop taxing to fund your own opposition
IN "Funding the hand that bites you", Ken Conner asks why the Republicans continue to give taxpayers' money to the abortionists of Planned Parenthood. What good reason does the party have to fund an organisation to the tune of $60 million per annum when its motivating principles are anti-conservative, and it devoted $10 million to campaigns to unseat Republicans in 2000 alone? The organisation is as nasty as it ever was in the days of its eugenicist founder Margaret Sanger, and deserves not a penny that it cannot raise itself. Just as it would be unacceptable for the state to fund the NRA or the ACLU, for any government to confiscate money to fill Planned Parenthood's coffers is unjustifiable. But for a Republican Administration to do it is as incomprehensible as it is wrong. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:47 | Permanent Link |
Will this anti-war memo cancel out the pro-war dossier?
"Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war" thunders today's Observer. "Secret document details American plan to bug phones and emails of key Security Council members." They report being sent a leaked document from America's National Security Agency revealing American plans to spy on UN Security Council members and use the information to get their way. Here is their memo in full:
From: FRANK KOZU@Chief of Staff (Regional Target) CIV/NSA
Well assuming the memo is true - something the Observer does not question for a moment - it would certainly be an almighty smear on America's international reputation. So if it is not real, whoever faked it clearly had sinister and far-reaching intentions.
And it seems that it is a fake, as DrudgeReport's first glance makes obvious. Start with the date, and notice the format. This is not something you might notice at first sight, but of course the date is not in American format of mm/dd/yy. Why would an American agency use a foreign dating format?
In the penultimate sentence of paragraph one, there is reference to "information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals". But 'favourable' is the standard English spelling. In US English, favourable has no 'u'.
At the start of paragraph two, the same mistake is made - "emphasise" is spelled the English way, not the American way of "emphasize". In the final sentence of the same paragraph, we see this again with "recognise" in place of "recognize".
As to the alleged author, the Observer report names him nine separate times as "Koza". But the email is from a Frank Kozu.
All these mistakes in such a small memo just aren't credible. Perhaps the Observer will claim its journalists helpfully edited out the American spellings and that the mistake in time is down to technology and in name just grevious human error. It's possible. But also possible is that the Observer was party to a forgery, or was royally duped. If it was either of these, the paper will receive a great and deserved blow to its credibility.
After the gaffe over the plagiarised PhD thesis in the recent dossier on Saddam, the anti-war brigade went on endlessly about how it undermined the credibility of the case for war. To be fair, it did have its effect, and that it occurred is a real indictment of the sort of people employed by the Blair government. But now, as we see what could be an equally feeble, equally absurd attempt to prop up the case against war, this may just about even up the score. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:34 | Permanent Link |
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