Saturday, 23 August 2014

Kermits can't change course - we can

Poor Msr Hollande is a man beset by problems of France's own making, each of which he seeks to blame on another nation. France's sclerotic economy is dragging down the Eurozone; it's the fault of the Germans. She can't apply sanctions against Russia by cancelling their new ships; this is the fault of the US. And her loss of all influence in Syria, since the 1920s a French zone of influence, is the fault of perfidious Albion. In fact, he says, by not supporting ISIS in overthrowing Assad we've actually made them stronger. It takes either powerful non-prescription drugs or Gallic hubris to believe something like that. 

In fact, Parliament's decision on Syria was one of the few things MPs can pride themselves on - and for which we can be proud of our MPs. Blocking Cameron's little adventure also stopped both the USA and France in their tracks. Hollande can't forgive us. He's burnt his boats with Assad, and it will take a new French president to salvage some sort of useful relationship. A stubborn, silly little socialist, pompous as a little bladder of flatus, he can't change course. And for us? Christopher Meyer sums it up neatly in the Telegraph
At this time and at this place in history, our national interest lies in stability and order, not in the pursuit of the last wisps of the Arab Spring. Yet, nor is it in our national interest that Isil should establish a caliphate athwart Syria and Iraq, a springboard for terrorism around the world and the unravelling of the frontiers of the Middle East. It follows, therefore, that we must support, by force where necessary, the integrity of Syria and Iraq, with regional allies such as Turkey and, yes, Iran and Russia. This, in turn, means that we have to stop working for the overthrow of President Assad and the Alawite ascendancy in Damascus.
I've always had the greatest regard for Willie Hague's intellect, a sharp contrast to the Prime Minister's obtuseness. Can the reason that Hague is no longer at the FO be that he supported Meyer's view, in opposition to his boss? If so, this would also explain Hague's needling provocation of the PM by failing to act over Bercow's new catering manager Commons Clerk, over which Peter Oborne expressed Cameron's anger

Cameron should take a lesson from Hollande's precarious situation on the dangers of not changing course. COLREGS require skippers to take all necessary action to avoid collision and ensure safety - 'standing on' is not a right, there are no rights; just responsibilities. And we don't care about Cameron's loss of face - he's expendable, the UK isn't. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

EU provokes Mumsnet

The EU has ridden rough-shod over dairy farmers, fishermen, car restorers, traditional boaters and has left half the nation bathed in the Stygian green gloom of inefficient low-energy lamps, but has it bitten off more than it can chew in imposing feeble hoovers on the united forces of Mumsnet?

In a two-stage process under which all vacuum cleaners over 900w will be banned, the first tranche of Berlaymont fiddling with people's lives comes with a ban on Britain's most popular hoovers. As any hoover user knows, you need power on demand to suck efficiently for the half the time that the bag is over 50% full.

This is something my 30-year old VAX does perfectly - especially as I replaced the 1000w motor not a year ago. But then the EU doesn't care about encouraging machines that are so robust and well-designed that they don't need replacing every other year. I'm astonished they haven't made maintaining your own vacuum cleaner illegal yet, with the same legislation favouring the big global corporates that drives all the EU's restrictive laws.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Friday People

The kid from Luton or Staines who sawed off James Foley's head is dead. Or as good as dead. Every second that remains to him will be spent listening for the sound of the drone that's targeting him - a drone that may well be piloted by another Brit, from a control desk in RAF Waddington. He won't be needing his gym membership back when he comes home. But how the hell did we produce this excrescence? And if Cameron doesn't think we're at war with Jihadist Islam, Jihadist Islam certainly thinks it's at war with us - so what to do? A response to a recent post by Sebastian Weetabix is well worth quoting fully;
We have some very nice immediate neighbours right next door. He is an IT director; his wife is a GP. They are both of Pakistani origin - born there, in fact. (They also happen to be first cousins, as well as married, though that is not germane in this thread.) They are clearly educated people, well assimilated, what I would describe as 'nominal muslims'. They have one son and one daughter. (Low birth rate, educated, see.)

The mother dresses western style, but modestly. The father is completely westernised, though he doesn't drink alcohol or eat pork. Now we come to the children... the 18 year old daughter wears the complete niqab. The 19 year old son, somewhat to his father's discomfort who says he cannot get through to his son, now sports the full Jihadi beard complete with shalwar khameez and woven skull cap. He was a nice young lad until he got religion; now he doesn't even speak to us when we see him in the street because we are 'kuffar'. I think we can guess his opinions on ISIS etc.

The problem is not poverty or lack of education. (The lad is a physics student and I would conservatively put his parent's combined income at circa £200K/yr.) The problem is ISLAM. Unlike Christianity or Judaism it is not susceptible to reinterpretation, it is immutable. It is the revealed word of God and Muhammad is his messenger so anything he did is OK because he is the measure of man. His sword was called Zulfiqar, which means "cleaver of verterbrae" and he consummated marriage with an 8 year old girl. And his message enjoins the use of deception and lies for the furtherance of Islam and the conversion or death of the unbeliever. You can be a good human being or you can be a good Muslim following the precepts of the message, but you cannot be both.
There was a cabbage-witted Guardian columnist somewhere yesterday describing the Brit Jihadists in Syria as 'Kevins' and put it down to teenage rebelliousness; they'll come home quietly, he said, and carry on with their BTECs in IT Administration at the local college. Like Hell they will. The dribbling fool knows nothing of the effect that having been in combat, in battle, will have had on these men - and their inability to settle for 10 to 4 at the Tech. We had the same problem post-wars. Suicides amongst 21 year old ex fighter pilots who couldn't adjust to running a country pub were embarrassingly high.

So just what do we do about the Friday People? Keep it realistic and legal please ...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A win for Sir Cliff could be a win for us all

There is frankly something repugnant about the way in which the Police have either lied or come so close to it that it doesn't matter in obtaining a search warrant for Cliff Richard's home. If plod really believed that Cliff would retain evidence of a 30-year old alleged kiddy-fiddle, and they could just walk in and find it, they must be so delusional as to be unfit for duty. Yet as Geoffrey Robertson QC points out and the Mail reports, plod solemnly swore to a magistrate that this was the case. 

There have recently been a number of changes in the hurdles plod must overcome to get a search warrant - set out here in succinct detail (HT Bystander) - and in failing to follow the rules "Police forces risk paying out compensation for trespass to property, breach of Article 8 and malicious procurement of a search warrant". Not to say having anything they may find ruled as inadmissible in evidence.

This has all the hallmarks of a nudge-nudge warrant eased from a compliant plod-friendly JP or DJ, who must now be at risk of dismissal, to allow plod to mount a fishing expedition with blanket press coverage 'to encourage other victims to come forward'. Sorry, plod, this isn't the way we do Justice in the UK. A few of you need to lose your jobs along with your tame JP pour encourager les autres. Preferably with BBC camera crews alerted as you emerge tearfully from your disciplinary hearings.

Monday, 18 August 2014

It's just the way it is

The 28 year old Ferguson cop who shot Michael Brown to death is utterly typical of all the rural US cops you've ever seen on Sky 1. A working class boy, crap at school except for a a minor talent for hockey, with few alternative prospects except as an unskilled labourer, he opted for the police as a route to social mobility. Despite not being able to write cursive script and the painful necessity of writing everything in clumsy, child-like block capitals in sentences littered with mis-spellings, he was given a badge and a gun and the authority to use them.

His victim was a huge black kid with scant respect for the law, used to using his size to bully and intimidate others. The tiny Korean counterhelp cowering before him as he snatches cigars from the shop give you an idea of the kid's arrogance. The entrenched poverty and disadvantage of being black in  Missouri means he has little to lose. As with 15% of Americans, his future probably includes imprisonment in a brutal jail sooner or later. 

And Stupid meets Hulk. Only Stupid has a gun. And when Hulk doesn't obey his inflexible, painfully-learned commands, designed to subdue and humiliate large dangerous men so that small cops can safely handle them, Stupid gets frightened and pumps bullets into him. OK, the actual details to be established over the next weeks and months may vary, but this narrative will be essentially accurate. 

It's sad, it's wrong and there is no clear blame. It's just the way it is.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Cameron repeats classic blunders

Watching Cameron's response to global events as they unfold is instructive. There can be no doubting his good intentions, nor the strength of his commitment to do the right thing. His motivation is unimpeachable. However, it's like watching an eighteenth-century physician trying to cure Ebola; having diagnosed an excess of black bile and an imbalance in the humours, he prescribes the killing of a mouse, to be used in a poultice along with half an ounce of dragon's blood and a little Mummia, to draw the flux. His piece in the Telegraph today is typical. 

I can't help but feel that the main thrust of Foreign Office policy in regard to ISIS is to get the UN and the rest of the world to call it Isil. So dominant is Oxford in government and the mandarinate that one feels this is their true priority; they can take the beheadings, the barbarism, the geopolitical threats, but polluting the name of that sacred stream is step too far. Cameron uses 'Isil' seven times in this short piece. But it's the naivete of the assumptions that is uppermost. 

We should be clear: this is not the “War on Terror”, nor is it a war of religions. It is a struggle for decency, tolerance and moderation in our modern world. It is a battle against a poisonous ideology that is condemned by all faiths and by all faith leaders, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim. 
No-one has ever gone into battle screaming "Decency! Tolerence! Moderation!". We are at war. What we are at war against is an expansionist Islamic world bursting with young men, enjoying the economic benefits of globalisation, connected, and above all resentful of the three-hundred year domination of the Christian West in wealth, thought, technology and leadership. Even moderate, decent and tolerant Muslims in the UK support a re-balancing of the globe to give a more prominent place to the nations of Islam.

Cameron also makes clear he believes we are right to fight to preserve the national boundaries in the middle east invented by Europe in the 1920s, boundaries drawn not between Sunni and Shia or on ethnic, cultural or linguistic lines but between British and French interests.Boundaries that have simply ceased to be relevant.

Of course there is conflict between Shias and Sunnis, but that is the wrong way to see what is really happening. What we are witnessing is actually a battle between Islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse Islam on the other.
No. The Islamic civil war is at the heart of all this. And the 'extremism' he identifies as exceptional is inherent in all Muslim philosophy - even that of decent, moderate and tolerant Muslims - that of the primacy of Islamic religious authority and of Sharia over democracy and secularism.

Cameron is clearly struggling to understand concepts and tectonic shifts that are challenging his comprehension, but trying hard to do the right thing. In part, this is driven by political short-termism; he's looking at what can be done during his term(s) in office, not what needs doing to defend our Island and our privileges a hundred years hence. In 2114 Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel, Jordan and the rest will be quaint footnotes in a history text, as alien as Montenegro, Ruthenia, the Sanjak of Novi Pazar or Wallachia are to us. If nothing else, Poland should teach us the lesson that you cannot permanently overwrite natural boundaries of cultures and peoples; Poland was wiped from the maps of Europe between the end of the eighteenth century and 1918, and yet there it is - whole and complete.

And I make one prediction for the near future - that Turkey will become a critically important pivot point. All hopes of becoming part of the EU have been abandoned, and Turkey is now ploughing its own furrow. Secularism is on the wane and the Imams on the rise. Direct Western support for the Kurds will inflame Turkish territorial amour propre. The heat is building.