Sonntag, Juni 29, 2008

Your Taxes At Work...

Well, at least my taxes.

Seems that there was a conference over the weekend, the Third Trans-Atlantic Conference.

Paid for by the German government, it seems. Bit of a toss-up who exactly paid for it, but if you google on "Third Trans-Atlantic Conference" you find... virtually nothing. There's a couple of links to the German Peace Forum, but their pages lead to ... nothing.

Consider what is being said here, it doesn't surprise me at all.

Apparently someone really, really didn't do their homework, or were so naive (or craven, bit of a toss-up there) to believe that inviting Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to talk about Israel was a great idea, one that would foster better understanding.

Well, that didn't work out well, did it?

Instead, those illustrious countries mentioned above used the forum to bash Israel (duh) and there was nary a voice of opposition to be heard.

Well, isn't that special. What were the dimwits who put the conference together thinking? That inviting those countries that have the greatest investment, not merely political, but also financial, in seeing that Israel is destroyed would be one happy love fest that would bring greater understanding and further dialogue?

I would hope that Germany learns at least this one lesson: world peace is not served by pandering to fascists (Syria), thugs (Lebanon, Iran) and religious fanatics (Saudi Arabia), unless you want their true intentions revealed for all to see.

I would hope that some eyes have been opened. Apparently the German foreign ministry was there, but nothing was said. That'd have been poor form, I suppose. Don't want to jeopardize selling them the makings for bombs and the like, right? Can't have them canceling machinery orders for centrifuges, that'd be right foolish, nicht wahr?


Hat tip: PowerLine.

Udo, Criticism and Intolerance...

One of the guys I studied with is Udo Ulfkotte. He's a professor at a German university and teaches security studies: not just political, but also how companies can ensure that what is supposed to stay secret actually does stay secret.

He is, bluntly, one of the good guys. Really. I've known him for over 20 years, and this is not some goofball. He points out that the emperor wears no clothes: that is his sin, nothing more, nothing less.

He spent quite a bit if time in the Middle East, as one the editors of one the premier German newspapers, the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). He's walked the walk, spent more time than anyone realizes in countries like Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf States. He knows the people there, he knows their societies, he knows their culture and above all he knows their religion. He's been pressured, at times almost at gunpoint, to convert to Islam, but he hasn't. He is a confessing Christian.

He's an uncomfortable guy for a lot of people. He's smart, much more than many are comfortable with, and he isn't afraid to speak his mind. He has steadfastly been the thorn in people's side, he's written books that not only embarassed people in high places and politicians, he simply sees problems as they are, rather than the official white-washing and the nice corporate and political PR that covers up severe problems in the sincere hope that no one notices how badly things are really going.

You see, there is a world of denial going on right now in Europe and in the liberal (in the US sense of the word) areas of the US. The denial is that radical islam is not an existential threat, and that all you need is to let the police handle the problem. This is the standard rhetoric that you hear everywhere in Europe: that radical Islam is not a threat, that even if it were the police can handle it, that since it isn't we need to respect others' religion, that rhetorical calls for death and destruction is just talk and doesn't mean anything. In other words: denial, appeasement, and sometimes outright fear, subtly expressed, that saying the truth will just make things worse, leading to self-censorship and at the end of the day a fundamental cowardice to face the truth.

Some people can't take criticism.

Not Udo: if anything, the opposite.

There are three groups of people who can't take criticism in Europe.

The first group is those who are in charge, those who make the policy, those who enforce the policies. Criticize them and you are criticizing the technocratic elite in Europe, those who vastly prefer to run things according to their desires, who neither accept criticism nor appreciate it: if anything, they reject criticism, attacking those who dare question authority.

The second group is those who are in collusion with the first: the media in Europe - critical reporting is as strange a concept to them as computers and the internet would be to a 12th century monk - and the oh-so-cool journalists who earn their money by ensuring that there are no critical voices heard. There are critical voices out there, but the key to ensuring that they are not heard is to make them look ridiculous, to make them marginal, to ensure that the lies of European society are not exposed (lies such as how pensions are secure, how high taxes ensures that the poor are taken care of, that ties between the state and big corporations are fair and that the politicians represent the will of the people: hah!).

The third group that does not take criticism is the disenfranchised immigrant youth of Europe: all they have, literally, is their pride, pride in simple and mean things, pride in petty crime and humiliation, pride in a cultural heritage that has little or nothing to show in modernity.

This last group is the problem here, but it ties in with the other two.

Udo is married to Doris.

Somebody, somewhere, in Germany, decided to have fun with Udo and Doris.

They made a video. Claiming to be Udo and Doris.

I'm going to put in English what Udo has written: this is my translation, on the fly, and I've taken the one or the other liberty. But the core message remains...

What would you do, if your telephone rang and someone said that thousands of Turks wanted to kill your wife? You probably wouldn't take them seriously. As you are reading these lines, more and more Turks are looking for a single German, who put up a video on YouTube and insulted not only Turks, but the founder of the religion of Islam, Mohammed. This spread like a wildfire within the Turkish community, and now they are trying to find Doris Ulfkotte and are threatening her with death. Doris Ulfkotte is the wife of the author of these words - and she neither knows the people who made the video for YouTube, nor does she have anything to do with them. The police know this as well. Nonetheless, literally thousands of Turks have called for the death of Doris Ulfkotte. Several District Attorneys have started investigating, the authorities have been notified and the German equivalent of the FBI has started to investigate. A pogrom has started, and the victim cannot defend herself.

On Sunday, 22 June 2008, at 3:56 in the afternoon, my wife's mobile rang. She was called by someone from Berlin, who wanted to tell her that she was in danger. According to the caller, my wife's murder was being organized. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, no one takes something like that seriously. At first. You think it's some sort of bad joke. However, the caller insisted that we take it seriously. And there was proof: a video on YouTube. This was the first time that my wife had ever watched a video on YouTube: we found the link, and found a horrible video, one that called for racial anger (it's been removed from YouTube in the meantime), during which a young German for more than 5 minutes lets loose a tirade of insults against Muslims, Turks and Mohammed. The woman shown in the video - not even half as old as my wife - calls herself "Doris Ulfkotte".

That was the first blow. The caller showed us that at that point no fewer than 4500 comments had been posted, after less than a few hours, and that the video had been called up no less  than 140 000 times. A video calling for racial anger was suddenly the second-most viewed video in Germany on YouTube. Among the comments were no less than dozens of threats to murder "Doris Ulfkotte". New comments were flowing in, and the death threats did not disappear. And just a few minutes later, for the first time, we saw a previous address appear in a comment, with the appeal to meet and go to that address to murder "Doris Ulfkotte". And videos of this address have now appeared on the Internet.

It was at that pint that we realized that this wasn't just a video sliming my wife, but rather was an event that could lead to all sorts of consequences. We called the police, called government lawyers.

In the meantime, under the name of the video (Türken gewinnen gegen Kroatien, Turkey wins against Croatia), the comments section now shows over one hundred death threats, such as:

"I'm about to leave, whoever gets their first take some video, Doris you bitch you are dead and your fag husband as well"

"I sent the video to every Turk every Arab Albanian Kurd Moslem believe me that is your death sentence bitch and somewhere sometime oh shit what will happen to you and I hope that the police don't get there first, you fat cow you can't hide, you son of a thousand fathers"

"You bitch I am not Turkish I am Croat but Muslim reply to me you damned little nazis let's meet I will kill you and your little slut, you have to regret saying this, all muslims of the world, our beloved prophet is being insulted and our religion"

Now, these are only a few examples of the thousands of death threats that were posted before the video was removed; more than 10 000 comments were made and over 200 000 people viewed the video. Our company number has been now posted in the Internet, and the first death threats have already been caled in, others arriving per email. That neither my wife nor I knew of the video, that we find the content just as terrible as our German and Turkish countrymen, is of absolutely no interest whatsoever.

In the mean time, there is a chain SMS with the call to find us and to kill us. No one appears to be interested in the fact that we have nothing to do with this. Other sites have put the videos up, and the people who made the videos have made new ones, and continue to call themselves "Ulfkotte".

Please help the police, please help my family. If you have any information on the existence of any other site on the internet showing this video, let us know or the nearest police. We have to find who has made this video and who is behind it: the calls for our deaths have reached the Arab world as well.

Everyone making such death threats will be prosecuted, and the makers of the video will hopefully be found and punished. They have probably no idea how many police are now involved in dealing with this racial hatred video and the acute problems that it created.

We were the first who filed charges against the maker of the videos, as well as those making death threats. We hope that we can catch them. Please help!

Now, Udo has written more on this:

Have you seen pictures of refugees? People, fleeing from an enraged mob? A mob, that wants to lynch people? We've seen such pictures from the Third World, but such pogroms also exist in Germany. The media is politically correct and turns away, as long as the victims are German.

According to a study of the German interior ministry, every fourth young muslim is willing to use violence against unbelievers. We're talking about Germany here, not in some Third World country. When (and if) such numbers are reported, they are largely ignored. Now, in Germany there are between 3.6 and 4 mn muslims (depending on whether you take the numbers of the government or muslim groups), and if you can do math, you have a good idea of how many muslims are fundamentally prepared to do violence against non muslims. Once you've been impacted by such readiness to do violence, these numbers appear in a completely different light.

This auther has already shown how fast this population group can be brought to make death threats per SMS, in the Internet and by mouth-to-mouth propaganda. It just happens to be that the death threats have been made against my wife and myself. The State Attorney for Koblenz has publically stated that we - those chosen to be the mob's victims - are innocent. First of all the positive: many Turks have gone to the police to help them, and they have helped to identify those making death threats. They've also taken the initiative to make it clear in forums that my wife and I are mistakenly the object of the anger of the mob. Let me explicitly thank all the Turks that have helped!

However, there are also other stories.

Two Germans, who started this whole thing with their racial-hatred video on YouTube, have repeated themselves. They put up another video on the internet, whereby they do admit that they are not my wife and myself, but they've just added fuel to the fire. Instead of admitting they had done something stupid and to ask for forgiveness, they continued their rants of racial hatred. Let's be clear: we don't have anything to do with them. YouTube has also deleted the video, but that also means that their disclaimer, that they are not us, has also been deleted.

More than 200 000 internet users saw the first video; thousands called for our deaths. It is impossible to tell everyone involved that we have nothing to do with this: in the meantime, a bounty of 1000 Euors has been placed on the head of my wife. If we were in a joking mood, we'd be insulted that it is such a small sum.

We've tried to talk to the media about what has happened and to make sure that this multi-cultural pogrom with thousands of death threats is aimed at the wrong people. Our experience saddened us: with the exception of one radio station and the blog Politically Incorrect, no one wanted to talk to us. "If the situation was reversed: that a Dr. Udo Ulfkotte called for Turkish deaths - that'd be a great headline! But so? No thanks, no interest". That is what a large Berlin publisher said. We tried to get in touch with the widely-read German boulevard press, both by email (with copies of the death threats!) and we called them, but we have not received a single asnwer.

It hurt us even more, that the author of these words on 19 June 2008 was named in an article in a left-wing Berlin newspaper that was titled "The Opinion Terrorist". The author - a woman from an islamic Cultural group - wrote about islam critics, who she libelled. However, you can't find this article if you search for it online with my family name and the title of the article: however, those making the death threats against us are using this article to try and find us. Posts in some Internet forums seem to think that it is right and proper for someone, named as an Islam critic by such an author in such a newspaper, for that person to be the target of the mob's fury.

Thanks, editors of that paper, for giving the mob additional fuel for their fire of hatred.

There was a time when journalists had ethics and morals: this newspaper continues to call me an "Opinion Terrorist", as if nothing had ever happened (see note 2 below).

There are also Germans who are using what is happening to us. Just go to the German internet search machine Technorati and enter the name "Ulfkotte" (see note 1 below), and read the article "Die Verfolgung der Doris Ulfkotte" (The prosecution of Doris Ulfkotte). The writer of that article was recently sentenced by the Berlin count to pay me 10 000 Euros, his sentencing hasn't happened yet: no German blogger has ever been taken to a German civil counrt and been fined as much, let alone facing prison time. Can you imagine what it was he said?

You'd have a hard time doing so, since the German media did not report on this case at all. Not a single report. If you read the newest article of this convicted Berlin writer, and view the videos, you can imagine what sort of libel was invovled. The State Attorney has started a new investigation against this "journalist", but that takes time and in extremely unpleasant.

Now, my wife and I are refugees in our own country, based on what is happening to us. We've already been under police protection, for 18 months. We don't want that. We've left our apartment, and cannot return. That is our decision regardless of what the police say. There are simply too many people in Germany who live like refugees in their own country. This includes the author "Doris Glück", who publishes under that pseudonym. There are many of us, and our number is increasing: do you know the philosopher Robert Redeker in France? Or the student Ehoud J. in the Netherlands? We are grateful that the state has helped us escape the mob.

And we thank all who have offered us help and who have worked so that at least a number of those making death threats now know that we have nothing to do with this. As Christians we will continue. As Christians we will also politely point out, that one quarter of the Muslims living in Germany are willing to use violence against anyone who isn't muslim, and that this is a not a good thing. We know what the reality of the situation is.

So, now you know the current situation. If you read in the "quality" German press about death threats made against turkish soccer fans, you now know the true story.

PS: If you are shocked about the behavior of the German press, read this about my life: this author has, on connection with reporting about radical muslims in Germany, had his house searched a number of times under suspicion of passing on secrets. The problem wasn't what I wrote, but rather that this was to be kept a secret. However, Udo Ulfkotte is not a government official, and can't pass on secrets: he was working as a journalist. The media bias was clearly visible, and the media speculated on how many years of jail could be expected: TV and newspapers reported. What was surprising, though, was that no one - as far as the author knows - reported that all charges were dropped. A lot of mud was slung, and the clean up was the job of the one aimed at...

Even worse: After the charges were all dropped in September 2006, the German radio station HR3 reported, in the main news section of their broadcasts (and not just once, but rather a number of times!) in October 2006 that the author Udo Ulfkotte was facing up to 5 years in jail. This was a plain, bald-faced lie. Of course, those living around us believed the news, and we were pariah. We've moved since. We know the game now: so much for "quality journalism". There was one exception: the journalist Klaus R. at least was able to stop the further broadcast. Thanks!

Note 1: The links on the Internet were removed a few hours after this was posted. Whether they have been removed by the authorities or by the authors, I can't say. Sometimes they're there, someine not, but the investigating authorities know the links.

Note 2: Telepolis reports: this whole thing is more curious, as the woman in the video isn't Doris Ulfkotte. And apparently the Ulfkottes didn't know anything about this film. Who is actually behind the story? The police are investigating. Anything is possible". Aha, then we could actually be behind the whole story, behind the thousands of death threats? That is the politically correct view for these "supposed death threats". Thanks, dear Telepolis editors, thanks for your empathy!

This is the face of intolerance: that a critic be dragged through a living hell for something he didn't even do - and it's not him who has been targeted, but rather his wife.

Intolerance at its best.

Now there has been, of course, speculation as to who is behind this: Udo is not that well known for him to be an accidental victim. My guess is that this is a classic "black" libel action by political opponents who are deliberately interested in seeing Udo suffer for his "Burgerwehr" or civil courage.

Dienstag, Juni 24, 2008

Yet More Unintended Consequences...

If you read here, you should know that the subprime crisis was a politically-made crisis, driven by the legal requirement to make sub-prime loans in the name of that mythical beast, Fairness.

Thank you, ACORN, thank you...

What is particularly galling is that ACORN is using the beast that they created to ride to greater glory. Here they rail about the predatory financiers and about the massive upswing in subprime loans - the beast that they themselves created - that "unfairly" impact minorities, the elderly and po' folks.

But this wasn't the original point...

This link shows that the real problem facing the mortgage originators, when they are banks, is that they may enter into non-compliance in terms of their sub-prime responsibilties (see this for what I mean here), as the number of sub-prime loans has declined significantly:

Subprime loans fell to 3.1% of originations in the fourth quarter of 2007, from 20% in 2005 and 2006.


Lots of banks not gonna be making subprime loans for the near-term, and that means, theoretically, that in three years these banks will be in non-compliance, driving them effectively out of the mortgage business.

Unintended consequences from a bunch of activists who are now using the monster that they themselves created - from an ignorance of rather basic economics and financing - to further their own cause.

How often do these folks meet themselves coming around a corner?

Sonntag, Juni 22, 2008

Unintended Consequences ... and Union Stupidity...

Whilst perusing various other things, I ran across this:

Between approximately 1967 and 1978, large amounts of material stored in the BBC's videotape and film libraries were destroyed or wiped to make way for newer programmes. This happened for a number of reasons, the primary one being that agreements with the actors' union Equity and other trade bodies limited the number of times a single programme could be broadcast. These showings were also limited to within a set time period. This was due to the unions' fear that if the channels filled their schedules with repeats, it could lead to lower levels of production, putting actors and other staff out of work. This attitude by the unions had the unintentional side effect of causing many programmes to be junked after their repeat rights had expired, as they were considered to be of no further use to the broadcasters.

As a result, most of the early Dr. Who is simply gone, never to be seen again.

But this mind-set didn't end there: the same thing, basically, happened with many other early TV shows.

Hence the unintended consequence of the union obsession with protetcting their rank and file was to deny the rank and file income from something called ... residuals.

Star Trek, the great breakthrough TV series, was largely a failure during the original broadcast season, and only fan intervention meant that there was a third season at all: the lacklustre ratings of the third season, largely due to poor placement of the time slot - 10 pm on Fridays, do you know how I had to lobby my folks to let me stay up that late back when? - led to the final demise.

The enormous success of the Star Trek franchise is that TV stations took it into syndication and broadcast it to death. Which created the fan base that led to the success of the latter series: even the late Enterprise did better in the ratings than the original series did in that third season.

Of course, if the unions had their way, we'd probably only be able to remember the series, rather than have Paramount be able to earn hundreds of millions of dollars based on residual rights. Everyone in the original series - the main characters - earned multiples of their original pay.

But noooo, the unions didn't want that in England. Hence union stupidity: the episodes are gone, gone, gone, gone.

Unions have their place, but the moment when power becomes the driving principal and short-sighted stupidity reigns, their influence can be downright destructive.

Freitag, Juni 20, 2008

Isn't It Ironic...

..that the "Candidate of the People" is the one who is going to try to buy the election, flooding the airwaves (he's already got the press in his pocket) and outspending McCain by deciding not to accept public money and hence a spending limit?

...that the party that truly, fervently believes that it is the party of the blue-collar voter and the middle class is instead the party who sucks up to the fat cats of Wall Street with the explicit aim of being bought and paid for?

...that the party that truly, fervently believes that the best way to help those in need, to help "the little guy", is government help, is the same party that has blocked cheap energy (causing prices to rise and hitting the poorest the hardest), that has blocked tort reform aimed at preventing abuse of the legal system, which results in health costs being so high that millions can't afford proper insurance?

...that many of his supporters, those who believe in the message of Martin Luther King, of the day to come where people will be judged on their character and not on the color of their skin, believe that they have a right to the office not because of who Obama is, not because of his character, but because of the color of his skin?

...that the party who believes itself to be so progressive and forward-looking is, instead, reactionary and obsessed with the past?

Oh, isn't it ironic.

The first point is the worst hypocrisy: see this.

The key quote is:

Obama committed publicly to pursuing an agreement with McCain that would involve both of them taking public dollars, only to abandon it less than two weeks after he became the presumptive Democratic nominee, with Clinton's exit.

Commitment, then abandonment. This appears to be a recurring meme. I wonder how George Soros will react when his bought candidate - Obama - abandons him when it's no longer opportune? How will MoveOn react when he doesn't toe their line?

Of course, he doesn't care: it's all about getting elected. Nothing more, nothing less: the problem is, we don't know who the fuck he is.

And the Democrats are doing their best to pull a PT Barnum on the American people.

Isn't it ironic...

Mittwoch, Juni 18, 2008

Watermelons, Climate "Change" and Wealth...

This article here is a must-read.

Put simply - and please do read the full article - the forces of darkness are still amongst us. This sounds terribly melodramatic, but I can't see any other way of putting it adequately.

The world is facing a period of unrivaled opportunity, coupled with unrivaled threat.

The opportunity is the fact that the emerging Indian and Chinese middle class will bring massive prosperity to the world, unlike any we've ever seen before. In the next 30 years the world will change, economically, to something we've never seen: traditional western countries will decline - their citizens will be wealthier than ever - but in a good way, while more people will be lifted out of poverty than even lived 100 years ago.

This opportunity is, put simply, what will happen when business as usual proceeds. We're talking wealth beyond our dreams, or more exactly, wealth beyond the dreams of the vast majority of people, starting with the simple things - not having your children die, living to see grandchildren - and moving to the more complex, of huge agrarian societies moving into the industrial age, with all the wonders, trials and tribulations that this will bring.

It's the story of wealth, of earnings saved, of literally hundreds of millions of people who will be wondering what to do on Saturday night, rather than wondering where their next meal will come from or whether their daughter will die before the week is out.

But there are those who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that this wealth never happens. It can't be allowed, they say: our models prove that if this happens, then the world ends.

It's the watermelon people, green outside, red inside. They want their share of the wealth - of course they do, they've never worked a proper lick in their lives, or if they have, they've hated it and scheme against having to repeat it - and they'll be damned if they will let anyone have it unless it's under their control.

But being under their control means that no one will ever have it.

For me it is inconceivable that one could argue with a straight face that hundreds of millions must continue to live in poverty in order to ensure that a few may revel in nature's bounty, that a few may enjoy a pristine and unspoiled nature that, if you look more closely, only exists in the fevered minds of romantic naturalists.

Read the link and understand what really is planned for the future: deprivation, control and poverty.

You'd think that decades of experience with the fundamental contradictions of Marxism would have tricked down to even the densest, but I guess that I am a hopeless optimist...

Dienstag, Juni 17, 2008


These two op-eds in the WSJ belong together.

This one, on the Torture Gambit of the Democrats, should be read in conjunction with The Supreme Court Goes To War.

Both go to show why the Democratic Party cannot be trusted, not in a time of war and fundamentally not at all.

The Democrats cannot afford to attack the President and his war policies directly: they know that the ice here is much too thin to support them. So rather than that, they are dedicating significant resources to go after the people who implemented these policies, fully aware that they - the congressional members of the Democratic Party - were instrumental in approving those policies.

This is the height of hypocrisy.

What this is designed to do is not stop the President's policies, but rather it is nothing less than a venal act of revenge. Revenge, perhaps, for their own failings and their own lack of backbone - if they were truly opposed back then, they lacked the backbone to stand up and oppose - but it is nothing less than that.

Once proposed by the President and approved by Congress, laws become the parameters under which people work. If the laws are changed, then policies must perforce change, but if the law is that - the law - then you cannot reasonably expect anyone to second-guess whether the law will be changed and hence policies that were lawful then become unlawful. You cannot run a political and legal system on the basis of retroactive laws, laws aimed at punishing those who carry out policy (and did not decide it). Or, rather, you can try to run such a system, and get a system that will not do anything, literally, because those charged with carrying out the policy will not dare act because the chilling effect that retroactive jurisprudence would have.

This isn't law, this is a travesty of law.

And it is being done to placate groups like MoveOn and the other crypto-fascist left-wing groups that are now apparently the core of the Democratic Party.

I first registered as a Democrat, and to my eternal shame I voted for Carter the first time I ever voted.

The Democratic Party has long abrogated its trust with the American people, subservient as it is to moneyed interests and its self-destructive policies. The Democratic Party has blocked oil exploration and refineries because they want gas prices to go up to appease their watermelon faction (green outside, red inside); they want the US to be humiliated by failing in Iraq; they want Iran to be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf; they want Chavez to be able to export his revolution, especially to Columbia (why else would Pelosi block the trade agreement with that country?).

And the Democratic Party is also the party of judicial activism, of which we have now seen the worst of its kind in a long, long, long time. Giving enemy combatants civil rights in war time is, in its idiocy,  tantamount to disbanding the police in a major city and replacing them with therapists who counsel criminals how to better get in touch with their feelings and why they break the law. Anarchy and chaos is the theme here, and once this percolates down to the troops, there will be changes as to how any war is fought.

If the law is stated that prisoners must be read Miranda rights, that evidence must be gathered and documented, that no lethal force be used without documentation of the need therefore, then there will be no prisoners, there will be no wounded, the troops will manufacture the evidence and will grow contemptuous of their officers and those who are so foolish as to send them into battle.

Or there will be no battles: this makes military operations impossible, for any officer ordering his troops into battle who then fails to provide the necessary documentation for each and every enemy casualty will then be prosecuted for failing to uphold the law.

The law is, in this case, an ass. Of course, that is the mascot of the Democratic Party, and rarely, rarely has it been so well deserved.

Let me repeat: The Democratic Party cannot be trusted. Any attempt to change the law in order to retroactively punish your political opponents is reprehensible and vile. It is aimed at destroying the rule of law, not upholding it, and for that the Democratic Party richly deserves its fate.

Freitag, Juni 13, 2008

Gitmo and the Supremes...and Unlawful Combatants

Without going into great and pedantic detail, the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the detainees at Guantanamo Bay will have several unintended and, fundamentally, several very undesirable results.

First and foremost, the decision is flawed, as the dissenting opinions make clear.

The Geneva Conventions are clear on this matter: unlawful combatants, those who deliberately hide amongst civilians with the intent of making it impossible for military and police to combat them, do not enjoy any of the rights of the Geneva Conventions. Zilch, nada. There is an admonition to nonetheless treat such folks fairly as if they were combatants, but unlawful combatants may not use the Geneva Conventions to hide behind.

Under such circumstances, any signatory to the convention may, if deemed necessary by that signatory, summarily execute such unlawful combatants. All that is required is that a legal instance be convened to make that decision, and the legal instance may take whatever form the signatory may choose (commissariat, tribunal, field court, whatever).

What the Supremes have done here is to extend unlawful combatants the same fundamental rights as US citizens (habeas corpus), with the right to have their cases enter the US legal system.

What does this mean? Well, besides giving all sorts of left-wingers enormous hard-ons (and really, this decision does exactly that), it means that there will no longer be any unlawful combatant detainees within a legal framework such as Guantanamo Bay was: in the future, unlawful combatants, when captured, will be interrogated and then, in all likelihood, summarily executed. Or they may well be summarily executed on the battlefield.

As they should be.

This is where the Supreme Court has made its mistake: by giving unlawful combatants rights that they do not deserve.

Does this sound harsh?

Of course it is harsh. But think about it: there is a reason why unlawful combatants do not have the rights granted to lawful combatants. It is because unlawful combatants break the rules of warfare. If the rules of warfare can be broken with impunity, then what is the use of the Geneva Conventions?

The use of the Geneva Conventions is that warfare has become so destructive - the mass armies of the 18th century were destructive enough to push for these conventions - that war was tending to mass slaughter and bordered on genocide. We're not talking about soldiers shooting a couple of civilians, but rather the ways armies behaved during the Thirty Year War and the Hundred Year War: killing all and any in their way, of looting, pillaging and raping their way through the countryside, all in order to support themselves in the field and to devastate the enemy's ability to wage war.

This is so destructive that parts of central Europe never really recovered from those days. Brandenburg's population was halved, estimates places the loss of life during that period in the German states at 30%, and the mercenary armies were infamous for their lawlessness and systematic use of real torture (Schwedentrunk). The city of Magdeburg had 25000 people in 1618, but a grand total of 2464 in 1644, a decline of over 90%.

War had become so destructive that the laws of warfare became a necessity, and this is what led to the Geneva Conventions (not immediately, of course, but it was the driving force).

The reason for treating anyone who breaks the Geneva Conventions with such draconian measures is that the Geneva Conventions exist to protect civilians, to protect those who are not involved in fighting, and to ensure that man's mortal sin, of his ability to so ruthlessly and mercilessly pursue his fellow men and to aim at their destruction, be controlled and limited.

Because wars have been with us always and no amount of "ain't gonna study war no more" is going to change that.

Wars are caused by population pressures, by religions, by those wanting power and are willing to take it. Population pressure wars are about resources; religious wars about control and salvation; power wars are the political wars. This is not going to change. Wars will, on one form or another, be a part of the human experience as long as populations grow, as long as people believe fervently in anything, and as long as disenfranchised believe that political power grows out of the barrel of the gun.

Given human nature, it is best to govern how wars are fought.

Sherman's March destroyed the heart of the South, and it took decades to recover from. A modern Sherman's March, even without using nuclear weapons or even air power, could and would gut any industrialized country, reducing it to a state of abject poverty. Warfare like the Thirty Year's War in a modern society would so devastate a countryside that we would call it a deserted land. It's not a meaningful thing to do: that is why we have the Geneva Conventions, to stop it.

And yet...the Supremes say otherwise.

Unlawful combatants should be the ultimate pariahs amongst the peoples, should be publicly executed as deviants and sinners against their fellows, because they bring indeed the apocalypse: give them the ability to fight the way they want to, and it's not the military who suffers, it is the poor bystander, the helpless and those who cannot or will not defend themselves.

Guerrilla wars and asymmetric war fighting have become "popular" with those whose grievances are too trivial and whose support is too small to otherwise gain power. It has been glorified by the left, is aided and abetted by countries wanting to interfere in secret with their neighbors, and is the only way for many to even contemplate fighting, given the professionalism of a right and proper military.

What the Supreme Court and those who support the idea of treating unlawful combatants as anything but the cowards and fools that they are ignore is exactly this: their decision doesn't support the rule of law and the sanctity of the legal system, but rather undermines the fundamental way that wars are fought.

There are two ways out of this. One way, the better way, is to change the laws and the Geneva Convention so that there are clear rules for dealing with unlawful combatants, one that takes into account their special meaning and has clear and proper penalties (you don't have to execute them, but one can deny them rights as the ultimate pariahs amongst the people). This is the right and proper path, but one that will take, literally, decades to work out.

The other way is for unlawful combatants to simply disappear. This is what will happen. They will be questioned, they will be abused, they will be executed forthwith. We will lose the ability to aggressively interrogate - not torture, despite what the bleed-hearts say, as torture is something completely different - by losing the willingness to treat unlawful combatants as being worth taking alive.

The Supreme Court decision is fundamentally flawed. It is going to make things worse, rather than better, and it is going to result in more deaths and more violations of rights, rather than fewer.

Mittwoch, Juni 11, 2008

And If You Don't Think Obama Is A Party Machinist...

...then why is he spending 4.5 times as much as McCain on people, twice as much on rent, and 25 times as much on broadcast advertising? (HT: Here and here)

Why does he have 700 employees in 19 States, while McCain has around 100 in a few states? Why is his burn rate - the rate of expenditures to incoming money - at 114%?

What is also interesting is the differing state of finances: McCain has $31.5mn and Obama has $46.5mn, but the RNC has $53.6mn and the DNC has a mere $4.4mn, meaning that the Republicans right now have over $85mn, while the Democrats have not quite $51mn. That's a huge difference at this stage of the campaign, and more importantly, this also means that Obama's got a huge amount of fundraising to do.

Or, vastly more likely, Obama is expecting the 527s to do a lot of work for him. The problem there is that the 527s can't come out and say "Vote for Obama" without having the FEC come down on them like a ton of bricks: hence expect the 527s to be strictly attack dogs (which, considering who they are, is exactly what their role will be).

The error that the Democrats are making is that their base, fired up as it might be, isn't the electorate. The electorate is that great spread in the middle, far from either the left or the right. The 527s will produce lovely attack ads that basically do nothing but attack someone who isn't even running, and who will ultimately alienate the middle with their negativeness. That's gonna make a lot of BDS sufferers very, very happy, but will lose them the general election if that is the case.

What McCain has to do is to gain the Clinton Democrats and take the center. This is where the greatest conservative criticism of McCain - that he's far too centrist - is really his advantage.

At this point, I think it'll be McCain by 10% or less in the popular vote and around 30% in the electoral college (over Obama, of course). Obama will be his own worst enemy, the Democratic machine will devour itself before the campaign is over, and McCain will not so much win by being the obviously better candidate, but rather by failing to make nearly the number of plain and stupid errors that Obama will make.

Why do I say this? Because, fundamentally, Obama is now, for the very first time, going to face a true political opponent that has not just talked the talk, but has walked the walk. As my grandmother would say: Obama sure does talk pretty.

Obama will have to explain his political shift from extreme liberal (for the US) to moderate to an electorate who has consistently rejected Presidential candidates who have done so in the past (George McGovern, John Kerry): McCain doesn't have to do that. He is who he is, and he's not running as someone else.

That makes the difference.

Montag, Juni 09, 2008

Obama - The Reform Candidate

Well, this confirms something that I've suspected, but wasn't sure of.

Barack Obama is the politician who is trumpeting his reformist character of "Change we can believe in" to the high heavens.

When in reality he is a) a machine politician from that most machine political city in the US, Chicago, where he is part and parcel of the system and b) he has consistently lied and deceived not only the public, but more criminally his enthusiastic voters, about what he really stands for.

Barack Obama isn't about change: rather than being progressive, he is deeply reactionary, deeply committed to restoring the Democratic Party to a purported glorious time (that never existed) in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Machine - the deeply corrupt financing of political activity, with ties to organized crime from the get-go - controlled who became the candidates, controlled how the elections were run, and in areas of importance, would also conspire to ensure that the machine candidates also won (voting the graveyard was invented in Chicago).

Rather than be what his image claims, the candidate of the downtrodden and ignored lower and middle class, he is in fact indebted to Big Money, indebted to the highly dangerous "liberal" orthodoxy that passes for thought in the upper middle and upper class "liberals" that have made careers out of exploiting racial differences and making sure that inequalities continue and worsen.

He is, if anything, the antithesis of what he claims to be, as fundamentally dishonest as the Clintons at their heyday, and as such not worthy of the attention of any true liberal, liberal in the classic sense that has ceased to have any meaning whatsoever.

Elect Obama, and you will elect exactly the opposite of what you think he is.

Donnerstag, Juni 05, 2008

Point and Counterpoint, or Understanding a Scientific Fascism...

Reality intrudes here, as so often is the case...

But here are two links to ponder.

The first is a glimpse of the kind of scientific fascism that the environmental movement has become.

The second reminds us why you don't give political power to scientists (unless, of course, they are duly elected as which point they are no longer scientists...).

The first link is here. Bill McKibben, described as a "scholar in residence" - if you know what that really means in the academic world, let me know - is really a political activist and has been one for decades.

I'm not going to fisk the whole thing - that'd be tedious - but rather just a few items. Read the article yourself: I'm not taking things our of context.

So that's the science. And from it must now flow the politics. Forget the plans we've laid so far, which see us slowly easing up on the use of coal, and ratcheting up the use of renewables, mostly by gradual shifts in the price of carbon. That might get us to 550, and it might possibly even get us somewhere near 450. But 350 — well, that means in essence that we have to leave most of the carbon underground that's now there.

First of all, the "science" he is referring to isn't that at all: it's conjecture and speculation. Second of all, he wants science to drive politics, which displays two things: his absolute ignorance of how politics really works - even though he is a political activist, that doesn't mean he knows how politics really works, but rather that he is, for whatever reasons, dedicated to achieving a political goal - and what I would call scientific fascism.

Ooooooh, I called someone a fascist. Well, if it walks and talks like one, it is one. Fascism is, simply put, when all aspects of life, political and non-political, are subsumed in the service of the State, which is in turn run by enlightened ones who know what is best for the State (and hence society as a whole, since the State Is Everything. The enlightened ones include, of course, the pet scientists who thought up Eugenics and other "sciences" that dealt with weeding out the bad genes in society.

Anyone who tells you that science must determine politics is the spiritual grandchild of those who sterilized "undesirables" and who shipped off the "subhumans" to the gas chambers. Plain and simple. Politics is the art of the possible: what Bill here wants is the impossible: the stoppage of the American economy (which is all about control: he who can stop something controls it).

But it goes further:

There's only one possible way to make change on that scale: an all-out World War II style effort to convert our economy away from carbon and towards — well, towards conservation, towards buses and bikes, towards wind and sun. We might even have to consider currently far-fetched schemes to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere (at the very least, we'd need to spend big to see if they're a real possibility). We'd need to do it with a truly aggressive price on carbon (which, to keep from impoverishing everyone, you'd need to rebate back to individuals through some scheme like the increasingly crucial Sky Trust proposed by Peter Barnes). We couldn't have a nice, seamless transition; we'd need a Saul-on-the-Damascus-road conversion, where the scales fell from our eyes and we set to work.

The "arsenal of democracy" efforts in WW2 saw the economy taken control of by resource boards and the like to best use industrial assets for the war effort. It was a total and complete control: it was the closest thing that we have ever had to a command economy. And Bill and his friends want to be in control. They've decided what's bad for you, they've decided "What Must Be Done", and they're the only ones who can bring salvation.

Right. Arbeit macht frei, I suppose.

And he goes on:

And that would be the easy part. We'd then need to figure out how to finance the same transition in the developing world. The Chinese still have a low standard of living, most of them. They're not going to forego heat and light; they're going to need something like a global Marshall Plan-equivalent to help them develop without burning their coal. Massive transfer of technology would be required — which means, in truth, pretty massive transfer of resources. Which just maybe is not what the American voter is ready for right now.

He's got two things right here: the goal of forcing to the rest of the world to do our bidding - nothing less is implied here - would mean massive costs, massive transfer of resources; further, the American voter is not ready for that.

Well, no shit Sherlock.

He's not even considering persuading the Chinese and Indian governments: his only question is how to finance this. He wants to impoverish the American voter in order to do this, and he knows that they won't go for that.

His solution? Get rid of democracy. No ifs, ands or buts: there is, for him, a higher reality, a greater truth that trumps any political system that fails to do as he demands:

So far, the method has been to ask what's going to work economically and politically and then work from there — that is to say, the "reality" of what you can persuade senators, or Fortune 500 companies, or taxpayers to support has set the tempo. And that is one important definition of reality — in a democracy, in fact, it's usually the most crucial one.

But in this case physics and chemistry increasingly impose a reality of their own. We find ourselves out of the safety zone in which human civilization has developed and flourished, a safety zone limited by the automatic reaction of the planet's climate system to an increase in the amount of solar radiation trapped in our atmosphere. That is, almost literally, a higher reality. If we've got a chance, the science now has to drive the politics — not the other way round.

This isn't a case of "vote for me and I'll set you free", but rather "give me power or you will all die".

And that is the core of scientific fascism.

Now, given the above - quietly packaged, but there nonetheless - the second should give pause to understand why it is so critical that the claim of "scientific consensus" and "the science can't be denied" must be so strongly opposed.

Solar Cycle 24 is upon us, and it doesn't look good.

There are no sunspots on the sun right now, and it doesn't look like they are going to appear soon. The longer they don't appear, the greater the likelihood that we are entering a Solar Minimum. The Maunder Minimum caused - causal link, folks, not speculation - the "Little Ice Age", and heavy sunspot activity led to the Medieval Warming Period.

Neither can be explained via anthropogenic warming, nor can the causal relationship between sunspot activity (sunspots are basically glimpses into an inner layer of fusion reactions in the sun, which run at higher temperatures and hence "shine" more brightly, albeit in the infrared, which ... warms the planet).

Ouch. Too bad for Bill and his buddies: their argument for total control over the economy and hence society and personal choices are moot, as their models and arguments are so faulty in their premises to ensure that they get the results they want and need.