Thursday, June 30, 2005

Supreme Courts: The Anglosphere Challenge

Mark Steyn, reviewing global social trends, thinks the future lies with the Anglosphere. But, unless someone gets rid of the US and State Supreme Courts, the Anglosphere won't make it.

Steyn suggests the decline of religion is the biggest cause of social and demographic collapse.

There aren't many examples of successful post-religious societies. And, if one casts around the world today, one notices the two powers with the worst prospects are the ones most advanced in their post-religiosity.

Russia will never recover from seven decades of Communism: its sickly menfolk have a lower life expectancy than Bangladeshis; its population shrinks by 100 every hour, and by 0.4 per cent every year, a rate certain to escalate as the smarter folks figure it's better to emigrate than get sucked down in the demographic death spiral.

And then, of course, there's the European Union. Every day you get ever more poignant glimpses of the Euro-future, such as it is. In East Germany, whose rural communities are dying, village sewer systems are having a tough time adjusting to the lack of use. Populations have fallen so dramatically that there are too few people flushing to keep the flow of waste moving. Traditionally, government infrastructure expenditure arises from increased demand. In this case, the sewer lines are having to be narrowed at great cost in order to cope with dramatically decreased demand.

Where does he get this stuff from? Anyway, the EU is indeed perfectly agnostic, but some parts are still solidly religious (like our Southern Med base). Still, his conclusions are interesting.

For Britain and Ireland, two relatively dynamic provinces of a moribund continent, there are only two options: share the pain and expense and societal upheaval, or decide that you're not that "European" after all and begin the process of detachment or at least semi-detachment. When the Continentals bemoan "Anglo-Saxon" capitalism, they have a point. Of the 20 economies with the biggest GDP per capita, no fewer than 11 are current or former realms of Her Britannic Majesty.

Further.

...if you eliminate populations under 10 million, the GDP per capita Top Five are, in order, America, Canada, Australia, Belgium and the United Kingdom. And if you make it territories with over 20 million, the Top Four is an Anglosphere sweep. In other words, the ability to generate wealth among large populations does indeed seem to be an "Anglo-Saxon" thing.

He concludes that the EU is doomed:

A political entity hostile to the three principal building blocks of functioning societies - religion, family and wealth creation - was never a likely bet for the long term.

I agree, but...the biggest Anglosphere nation has an all-powerful judiciary which is hell-bent on killing off religion, and is undermining the family and wealth creation.

Mansions Then And Now

The Gandalf's spent yesterday celebrating a significant wedding anniversary.

We stayed at a splendid country house, now an upscale hotel. Built 1620 and updated to match the designs of Andrea Palladio in the 1700s, it's set in about 1,000 acres of ancient parkland. In the evening, kitted out in full evening dress, we enjoyed a superb performance of Don Giovanni, staged in another country house - this one in a mock-grecian style.

Which reminded me of the modest aspirations of America's founders. Jefferson's Monticello and Monroe's Ash Lawn are a fraction of the size and majesty of the typical English country house of that time.

The gap has now closed - the likes of George Soros and other financial fat cats have mansions quite as big as Brit ones.

Bushido and Islamic Terrorists

The Japanese army in WW2 behaved as atrociously as the Islamic terrorists of today, although conditioned by the cult of Bushido rather than the religion of Islam. Luckily for the Islamic terrorists, we are not fighting them the way we did the Japanese. Yet.

Bushido
began as:

The traditional code of the Japanese samurai, stressing honor, self-discipline, bravery, and simple living.


Prior to WW2, the Japanese expansionist adapted the Bushido code to energize their armies.

They were indoctrinated from an early age to revere the Emperor as a living deity, and to see war as an act that could purify the self, the nation, and ultimately the whole world. Within this framework, the supreme sacrifice of life itself was regarded as the purest of accomplishments.
'Do not live in shame as a prisoner. Die, and leave no ignominious crime behind you.'

SUICIDE

Like the Islamic terrorists, Bushido exalted suicide. For example, after
losing his carrier at Midway:
Yamaguchi probably could have...put his talents back to use for the Japanese navy to fight another day, but that was not the Bushido way.

And the cult of suicide ran right to the end with the Kamikaze pilots idealized in
Empire of the Sun. About 1,900 dove to their deaths.

DECAPITATION

The Japanese were as obsessed with decapitation as the Islamic terrorists. Here are a few examples - if you have a strong stomach, read Russell's The Knights of Bushido.

decapitation

Malaya. Japanese troops decapitated 200 wounded Australians and Indians left behind when Australian troops withdrew through the jungle from Mar.

Philippines. The Bataan Death March -- 7,000 surrendered men died. Those that could not keep up the pace were clubbed, stabbed, shot, beheaded or buried alive.

CIVILIAN KILLING

Like the Islamic terrorists, the Japanese specialized in torturing and killing non-combatants.

Dutch Borneo. The entire white population of Balikpapan was executed.

Java. The entire white male population of Tjepu was executed. Women were raped.

Singapore. Japanese soldiers bayoneted 300 patients and staff of Alexandra military hospital. British women had their hands behind their backs and were repeatedly raped. All Chinese residents were interviewed and 5,000 selected for execution.


THE ALLIED RESPONSE TO BUSHIDO

The allied response was brutal.

- Japanese prisoners and wounded were routinely killed on the battlefield.
- Extensive use was made of flamethrowers.
- The British bayoneted Japanese at every opportunity.
- The US, with UK help, developed and dropped nuclear weapons on Japan.

None of these allied responses were pretty, but they worked.

When judging the comparatively restrained behavior of the allies in the Global War On Terror, critics should reflect on what will happen if we lose, and what we may yet may have to do to secure our liberties.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Our Next War

The drones and bunker-busters will soon be headed out - the newly "elected" Iranian president is a monster who really wants nukes.

From the WSJ (subscription).

Mr. Ahmadinejad was involved in planning the seizure of the U.S. embassy and helped organize Khomenei's Islamic Cultural Revolution, during which universities were shut down and ideologically suspect lecturers and students were arrested and shot.

In the mid-1980s, he worked as an interrogator, or worse, in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison, according to Iranian sources. Mr. Ahmadinejad then joined the Special Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards, where he was an officer in the "Jerusalem Force," which had responsibility for terrorist attacks and assassinations abroad, including against prominent Iranian dissidents.

In the late 1990s, he was one of the organizers of Ansar-i-Hezbollah, government-sponsored vigilantes assigned to break up peaceful demonstrations. In April 2003, Mr. Ahmadinejad was appointed (not elected) mayor of Tehran, where he set about organizing "Abadgaran" (Developers) groups, which seek to return Iran to sterner Khomeinist principles.

Finally:

Mr. Ahamadinejad says Iran is entitled to any weapons it might want, including nuclear arms, abandoning the ambiguity so dear to Jack Straw and Joshcka Fischer.

Avoid SCOTUS During Thunderstorms

SCOTUS has moved from dispossessing working class people to mocking God, a really bad idea. On the bright side, look for a bunch of vacancies soon.

The despots have ruled that the Ten Commandments upon which the light of Western Civilization is founded may be used only as historic interior decor.

They should have thought about this precedent. In 1984, a lefty atheist was appointed Bishop in the Church of England.

He has pursued what he calls an “open, liberal theology” and raised doubts about the historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection and virgin birth. In Easter in 1984 he challenged the orthodox view of the Resurrection by saying that it was “not just a conjuring trick with bones”.

He was crowned (or whatever they do with bishops) in the ancient York Minster.

Just Three days later:

Historic York Minster engulfed by flames

A massive fire has devastated large parts of York Minster causing an estimated £1m damage.

North Yorkshire Fire Brigade's report to the Home Office confirmed that lightning was the most likely cause.

The Lord minimized collateral damage by timing his strike 3 days after the crowning, and when the Minster was empty. SCOTUS may not get the same forbearance - as well as speaking evil, they do it.

So, stay clear.

The US Has Just Begun To Fight

It's in the nature of warfare that, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and the rabbits bolt. Hence the wailing about US military "overstretch". VDH has performed a comprehensive demolition of this (my emphases). Turns out the US has just begun to fight and has ample capability to fight elsewhere.

But surely, the sky is falling!

Recent dips in Army enlistments also fueled a new conventional wisdom: that the U.S. military is almost dangerously undermanned, exhausted, and overstretched. An unpopular war, domestic opposition, televised casualties, extended service, divorce and social dislocations, an improving economy, and supposed disparity in the sacrifices made by troops of different races and classes have all, it is said, conspired to cut recruitment to the volunteer army and reserves to alarming levels.

You'll be amazed to hear that this alarmism is misplaced!

First, the recruiting problem is overstated.

(The Marines) are about 30 percent of all combat deaths, yet make up only 11 percent of current American forces. But in May the Marines slightly exceeded their recruitment goal. The Air Force and Navy likewise met 100 percent of their requirements. The Army traditionally has had the hardest time meeting its targets, given the reputation — warranted or not — that the other branches offer more specialized training and skills that will better enhance civilian careers without the same level of risk as ground combat.

And:

Second, the (recruiting) year is only half over.

But surely the US army is just too big? No it is not.

...on demographic grounds, our current troop mobilizations are hardly a drain on the U.S. population base. In a country of about 300 million residents, we have about 1.4 million troops deployed worldwide. Yet in 1974, during the first full year of the all-volunteer army, the United States deployed 1.9 million soldiers, drawing on a population of more than 210 million.

OK, but isn't the $ cost unprecedented? Nope.

... in the first full year of the volunteer army (in 1974), military expenditures accounted for 58 percent of discretionary spending, or about 5.5 percent of the gross domestic product. In 2003, when we invaded Iraq with 200,000 troops and conducted reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, we allotted only 49 percent of discretionary spending to defense, some 3.7 percent of GDP.

Yes, but ignoring that, what if the US really cannot afford to spend more?

We still have around 110,000 soldiers in various places in Europe, and these could be cut or deployed closer to the Middle East.

OK, so there isn't a recruitment problem or a people problem or a $ problem and even if there were, there are plenty of soldiers kicking their heels in Europe. But that's not the point! The ones being killed are disproportionately citizen-soldiers and minorities! That's not true.

National Guardsmen constitute about 24 percent of all military personnel but accounted for 16 percent of those lost in Iraq.

Some 95 percent of the fatalities had high-school diplomas, though only 85 percent of all Americans have finished high school.

Blacks and Latinos made up 10.9 and 11.5 percent of the dead, respectively — about their same percentages in the general population, but in the case of blacks less than the 18.6 percent currently serving in the military.

Twenty-nine percent of those who died attended high schools in poverty-stricken areas, versus about a 30 percent poverty rate for all high-school graduates. Seventy percent of those lost were white men, although they currently make up only about a third of the U.S. population.

(I frowned at the last sentence too, then remembered all those white women).

Alright, granted all the above. But surely the losses are just unprecedented? Actually, they are negligible by the standards of our fathers & grandfathers (and that's not to minimize the sacrifices of the men and women who have died).

D-Day cost around 3,000 Allied dead, and another 6,000 were wounded. During the Battle of the Bulge, some 19,000 Americans died and another 60,000 were wounded, missing, or captured. In the first few minutes of Pearl Harbor, about 2,400 Americans perished. And so far the 1,700 killed in action in Iraq make up about 60 percent of those lost on the first day of this war in the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

So, I would advise the new Iranian mullah not to relax too much.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Socialist SCOTUS

A quick look at the judgments handed down by SCOTUS (Brits - this the acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States - please, no tasteless jokes about SCROTUM).

The Socialist SCOTUS continues its long march through the foundations of US society.

Journalists must reveal their sources or go to jail, even when the matter they reported on did not involve a criminal offense. The new regime in Iran will love this.

File sharing companies can be sued if they are used by felons to steal copyrighted material. Socialists prefer to blame the implement not the criminal - it lets them criminalize anything they don't like, while harming capitalist pig producers. Next stop guns.

Cable companies aren't obliged to let ISPs use their networks to compete with their own broadband services. A good decision for the wrong reasons - socialists abhor competition.

Scott at Powerline has been trying keep his spirits up.

The 5-4 breakdown of the vote on the (Kelo) decision highlights the importance of President Bush's standing fast in the judicial wars and of his nominating (and the Senate confirming) another few justices in the mold of Clarence Thomas. I think that is the immediate answer to the question.

I don't think so. The lefty -in-chief, Kennedy, was appointed by Reagan. His lieutenant Souter was appointed by Bush 41. The problem isn't that the wrong people are nominated, but that as soon as they are, all but the strongest are absolutely corrupted by absolute power.

My fear is that SCOTUS will legislate the US into an extended decline, as happened to the post WW2 Brits.

My hope that We The People will get mad and fix them.

Good News & Bad News Day

It's been one of those days. Spent the morning fixing a major domestic appliance problem (London is terrible for fix-it services , so you do it yourself). Then got email from the airport in the Southern med where we'd left our car telling me that it had been vandalized.

That was the bad news.

The good news was that they were able to email me (I'd given an address when I registered the car). And the airport parking folks were able to access that. I didn't have any data on insurance with me, but googled the broker who sold us the insurance, emailed him to ask if it was worth claiming, he replied in detail within 3 hours.

That was the good news.

The bad news was that it isn't worth claiming on the policy. And that what I'd thought was crime-free place is not.

I'm off to the pub to drown my sorrows, so posting will be light or incoherent...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

This Must Not Happen

Davids Medienkritik reports the Berlin city government intends to raze this Checkpoint Charlie monument. On July 4.

The monument consists of over 1,000 crosses adorned with the names of those murdered attempting to escape Communist East Germany for freedom.


Edmund Burke said:

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

God forbid.

UPDATE: Later information is that the site is owned by a bank which is refusing to renew the 8-month lease & Berlin city is refusing to intervene. I'd like to know:
A) The name of the bank
B) Why the city is not preserving this memorial.

UPDATE 2: A comment correctly points out that the American philosopher George Santayana said "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Santayana was a fascinating man - philosopher, writer and traveler. Born in Spain, educated in the US, he spent much of his life in Italy. He was a generous and clever man. I'm happy that he has the attribution for this quotation.

Regime Change Before Aid

The excellent American Future is analyzing the recent report of the bipartisan Task Force on the United Nations. It's chaired by George Mitchell, and was set up last year by the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, and State.

The report is
here. It provides an intellectual and legal framework for addressing the problem of removing predatory regimes.

The emphases below are mine.

Not surprisingly, the Task Force recommends that the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) be abolished, pointing out that seven of its current members are listed by Freedom House as the world's "worst of the worst" abusers of human rights. But the Task Force goes further by condemning the Non-Aligned Movement:

"Democracies and nations moving toward democracy represent a growing proportion of the UN’s member-states, but they have yet to organize themselves effectively within the United Nations system to promote common interests and values. Democratic states sacrifice fundamental interests, such as human rights, in favor of regional solidarity. The so-called Non-Aligned Movement, a product of Cold War divisions, remains as a major impediment to economic development, protection of human rights, and the promotion of democracy".

The Task Force doesn't pull any punches in its recommendations:

"The United States government should affirm that every government has a responsibility to protect its own citizens in accordance with the following principles:


Sovereignty belongs to the people of a country, and governments have a responsibility to protect their people. If a government fails in its primary responsibility to protect the lives of those living within its jurisdiction from genocide, mass killings, and massive and sustained human rights violations, it forfeits claims to immunity from intervention (based on the principle of nonintervention in a state’s internal affairs) if such intervention is designed to protect the at-risk population.

In certain instances, a government’s abnegation of its responsibilities to its own people is so severe that the collective responsibility of nations to take action cannot be denied. The United Nations Security Council can and should act in such cases. In the event the Security Council fails to act, its failure must not be used as an excuse by concerned members to avoid protective measures".


Regime Change Before Aid.

Don't Give Money To Charities

My mother told me never to give money to mendicants - "It will only encourage them, dear".

Mark Steyn's take is similar.

If you really want to be charitable, you should send your cheque to the Pentagon or the Royal Australian Navy

Oxfam...paid the best part of a million bucks to Sri Lankan customs officials for the privilege of having 25 four-wheel-drive vehicles allowed into the country to get aid out to remote villages on washed-out roads hit by the Boxing Day tsunami. The Indian-made Mahindras stood idle on the dock in Colombo for a month as Oxfam’s representatives were buried under a tsunami of paperwork. Aside from the ‘tax’, they were charged £2,750 ‘demurrage’ for every day the vehicles sat in port.

This was merely the latest instalment in what’s becoming a vast ongoing Tsunami Tshakedown Of The Day retrospective — you can usually find it at the foot of page 37 in your daily paper, if at all.

Fourteen Unicef ambulances sent to Indonesia spent two months sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time, as the late Otis Redding so shrewdly anticipated.

Eight 20ft containers of Diageo drinking water shipped via the Red Cross arrived at the Indonesian port of Medan in January and are still there, because the Indonesian Red Cross lost the paperwork.

Five hundred containers, representing one quarter of all aid sent to Sri Lanka since the tsunami hit on 26 December, are still sitting in port in Colombo, unclaimed or unprocessed. At Medan 1,500 containers of aid are still sitting on the dock.

So what about Africa, the darling of aging pop-singers? Well:

The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused £220 billion.

That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa's most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has spoken of a new Marshall Plan for Africa. But Nigeria's rulers have already pocketed the equivalent of six Marshall Plans. After that mass theft, two thirds of the country's 130 million people - one in seven of the total African population - live in abject poverty, a third is illiterate and 40 per cent have no safe water supply.

If you want to help corrupt counties, spend your money on our armed forces. Because without regime change, the people's suffering will never change.

Search Engines Make You Free

Here's an example of how the Main Stream Media (MSM) lies by ommission, and how easy it is to find them out.

After
yesterday's post on verbally-challenged Italian judges, I was interested to see this via Drudge:

In Italy, Anger at U.S. Tactics Colors Spy Case

MILAN, June 25 - The extraordinary decision by an Italian judge to order the arrest of 13 people linked to the Central Intelligence Agency on charges of kidnapping a terrorism suspect here dramatizes a growing rift between American counterterrorism officials and their counterparts in Europe.

European counterterrorism officials have pursued a policy of building criminal cases against terrorism suspects through surveillance, wire-taps, detective work and the criminal justice system. The United States, however, has frequently used other means since Sept. 11, 2001, including renditions - abducting terror suspects from foreign countries and transporting them for questioning to third countries, some of which are known to use torture.

Pretty damning! You can just see those Italian cops patiently assembling a case, then along come the arrogant Yanks & drag the suspect off to a torture state.

Still, I was suspicious. First, it's in the New York Times, which I haven't trusted since it reported Elian Gonzalez being peacefully taken from his relations, while "nuancing" this picture.



INS Thug


And then the story is datelined Milan, so it's special Italian pleading. Like with the woman journalist story, where, contrary to Italian sworn statements that the vehicle was stationary, US satellite photos showed the vehicle running the checkpoint at over 60 MPH. And finally, I could not remember any reports of Italian convictions of terrorists.

Still, it's important to be factually right on Depleted Uranium. So I Yahood and Googled "italy terror convict" to see how many bad guys have been put away by the Italy's Finest.
Here's what I found (emphases are all mine).

Dozens of terror suspects have been arrested in Italy, since the terror attacks on the United States. Seventy-five people suspected of illegal activities linked to terrorism have been arrested during the past year. But most have either been released, acquitted during trial or convicted of only minor crimes, such as falsifying documents. One expert noted that of 500 people arrested for terrorism in the European Union, only a couple of dozen have been convicted.

So, only an idiot would leave a threat to the US to be dealt with by the Italian legal system.


Still, taking the guy off to Egypt was cruel, if the NYT is correct that it's a torture state. (I haven't previously heard of the the NYT condemning Arabic torture, but maybe that never made it to Drudge or LGF). So I looked for more about the suspect.

More searching, made difficult by the hundreds of lefty whinings about the snatch from the jaws of Italian justice. And,
guess what I found?

The investigation concerns an Islamist Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, snatched off a Milan street in February 2003 and never seen again. He was wanted in Egypt for belonging to an outlawed Islamist militant group.

So now you know. The Italians were harboring an Egyptian citizen who was wanted there on criminal charges. The CIA considered the guy a threat to the US (remember, 3000 dead?). In the light of the complete ineffectiveness of the Italian control of terrorists, the CIA sent the guy back to his homeland.

It took me 15 minutes to find these facts. So far as I can see not one member of the MSM has shown similar diligence.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

One Despot Down, Five To Go

The only (slightly) elected despot in yesterdays' gallery has cracked.

President Robert Mugabe has mobilised Zimbabwe's army to build new houses for those made homeless by his "clean-up" operation that flattened and burnt shanty towns across the country.

In a policy U-turn following a seven-hour meeting of his politburo, he announced that the military had been ordered to lead a task force to begin reconstruction. "Building brigades" would start work immediately to build houses, shops and markets to replace those destroyed by the police in Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out the Rubbish).

According to human rights groups, more than one million of the poorest Zimbabweans have been turned into the streets by special police units bulldozing and setting fire to townships.

Many, including the very elderly, women with babies and the disabled have been forced to spend freezing nights in the bush without shelter. At least 46,000 have been arrested.

And two little kids were bulldozed in their beds.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change described yesterday's move as "a panic reaction by Mugabe" to the international outcry over the destruction of the shanty areas.

I suspect that like most African leaders, he's more worried about the West funding his transportation. This is from the print edition of today's Spectator (Brit not American).

Mugabe has a custom Mercedes Benz S600L, armored to "B7 Dragunov standard". At 5 tons it does two kilometers per liter of fuel, and has to be followed by a petrol tanker in a country running on empty. He also has a pool of M-B S320s and E240s for his wife, vice-presidents and ministers.

Vada Facile Sul Grappa

The Italian judiciary has a diction problem - instead of being nice to tourists (turisti) and nasty to terrorists (terroristi), they're doing the reverse. Guys, go easy on the grappa!

Turisti

On-the-spot fines of 10,000 euros have been imposed on three tourists for buying fake designer goods on the Italian riviera.

The first of the tourists to be caught, a 60-year-old Dane, had bought a pair of bogus Dior sunglasses. Another victim, a 27-year-old Frenchwoman, nearly fainted after being handed the fine by uniformed police for purchasing a fake Louis Vuitton handbag..

Terroristi

An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 people linked to the CIA for "kidnapping" an Egyptian terrorism suspect in Milan and flying him to Egypt where he said he was tortured, judicial sources said on Friday.

"In the judge's order, it (the abduction) is clearly attributed to the CIA," a source said.

Foreign intelligence officials believe (the suspect) had fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia before arriving in Italy in 1997 and obtaining political refugee status. When he disappeared, he was under investigation in Italy for suspected ties to terrorism, including recruiting militants for Iraq.

Property Rights: US v UK

Brits have restrictions on their property rights, inherited from their socialist past. But they are not as extreme as the new US law.

Here's what my local government (Council) says about Taking (Brits call it Compulsory Purchase):

What are compulsory purchase and statutory rights?

This is when the government, local council or utility company has the legal right to buy or take rights over your private property if it falls within a public or private construction project such as:

Airport expansions
Housing developments
Electricity pylons and cables
Flood defence works
Sewer, water or gas pipe schemes
Rail or road building projects

Different compulsory purchase or statutory powers are needed to implement the above schemes. For example, water pipes are laid under statutory rights under the Water Industry Act 1991 and a road bypass will have its own compulsory purchase order through the Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

In all cases, the owners and occupiers of the properties to be acquired or affected by the scheme will be served Notices, with differing expiry times. All the schemes provide compensation to owners and occupiers directly affected by the scheme.

The kicker is the "private housing development". But the Brits have extensive legal recourse:

The right of appeal against a certificate under section 18 of the 1961 Act, exercisable by both the acquiring authority and the person having the interest in the land who has applied for the certificate, is to the Secretary of State.

Any person aggrieved by the Secretary of State's decision on the appeal may challenge its validity in the High Court within a period of six weeks from the date of the decision.

And if the owner's claim is upheld, the loser pays all legal fees.

So in both the US and UK, middle class people with money are safe in their homes. Poorer people are at risk in both countries. But Brits only have to worry about their property being taken for housing, whereas Americans can now lose theirs to any organization that promises to pay more property taxes - like Pfizer Inc.

The saving grace is that some US states limit eminent domain:

Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming (have never allowed) land taken by eminent domain for private use.

However:

...the worst record of abuse of private-use takings are California, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio.

Kansas is explained by its infestation by lefty judicial despots (they just mandated a tax raise). Ohio seems odd - I thought it was a decent red state.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Memories of New London

Here are some memories of New London, the Connecticut town in which:

By a 5-4 vote, the (Supreme Court) for the first time said governments can take private property and give it to developers citing eminent domain, a practice historically used for public highway projects.

It's for Pfizer Inc, the drug company, to build offices - they want to take the homes of 15 long-term residents.

For Brit readers, a geographical note. New London is on the beautiful Long Island Sound, about 3 hours drive north of New York City. It is (of course) on the river Thames, although the "Th" is sounded. Just across the Thames is the Groton submarine yard.

I first visited the Groton yard in my late teens, at the behest of a relation in the Brit Navy.

At that time it was a submarine construction yard, run by the General Dynamics Electric Boat Division (EBD). The EBD folks were very hospitable, although a tad cautious since I was, after all, a foreigner. They gave me a tour of a nuclear sub and then walked me round the yard. Which was dominated by a huge sign identifying every sub built there from early WW2, giving launch date and current status.

It was a different world from the unionized shipyards I'd visited in the UK. EBD workers were unionized too, but they seemed to me better equipped, better motivated and more efficient. I particularly liked the way they took their tools to the job and minimized down time.

EBD gave me an aluminum nuclear sub tie clip as a keepsake.

This was at the start of my first visit to the US, and the hospitality, energy and efficiency I saw there made a big impression. I never expected that 4 years later I'd be fixing missile designs for the US, and subsequently spend so much of my life there.

New London then was unremarkable - decent wood houses, small stores and no doubt providing homes for the Groton workforce. Since then the sub construction has stopped, and Groton is now a sub base, slated for closing.

With the closing of the yard and the base, employment and population have fallen. Which has happened to towns throughout history. Many accept this with grace, like the towns in England that were workshops of the world in the industrial revolution and are now gentle backwaters. Others become tourist enclaves, like Charleston. And some try to buck the trend and stay big - England is full of ruined ancient towns that tried this, with ugly shopping centers and gridlocked roads.

And that's what this case is all about. The people elected to manage New London want to keep the town large, even if they destroy its fabric and dispossess the people they are elected to represent. Possibly they are corrupt too - refurbed houses on the Long Island Sound will be worth lots of money. But it will turn out to be just another ugly office park, and part of America's heritage will have been dissolved. As well as its freedoms.

But I still have, and treasure, the tie clip.

Defending Your Property Rights

Kennedy et al's revocation of US private property is, IMHO, the worst thing that has happened since 9/11. But this time the enemy is internal, and citizens have to defend themselves. So it has to be non-violent guerrilla warfare - here are some initial suggestions.

Guerrillas fight asymmetrically - from a position of weakness. They go for the targets which are soft, have high impact within the opposing group, and carry low risk to themselves. They work retail (targeting individuals or small groups), not wholesale. In a peaceful society, they do this without physical violence.

If you're interested in asymmetric warfare, this is a good book. It's mainly about coups d'etat, but the non-violent preliminaries relate to peaceful social transformation.

Must Dos

1. Target the beneficiaries

In New London it's Pfizer. Don't buy their products. Protest to their board of directors. Frequently. Buy a few shares and be nasty at their stockholders meeting. If you have commercial leverage, no matter how small, use it. Ask your Mutual Fund if it invests in them. There are more perps out there: Power Line reports that Best Buy and an unnamed third company have been beneficiaries of Minnesotan takings. Target them too.

2. Collaborate

Put up web sites where people can share planned takings and identify the local lawmakers and business people involved - names, photos, emails, phones, addresses. And run co-ordinated letter and email campaigns. Be responsible though - the FBI will be a member.

3. Be personal

If a relative faces a taking (most likely if they're old & in an older but to them nice house), take point position. Because this is personal, so it's OK to confront the perps personally. Just don't hurt anyone and keep spouses and kids out of it.

4. Help the good guys

Donate to the Institute for Justice, the folks who fought for your property rights.

5. Harm the bad guys

If you come across the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, and are in a position to legally screw them, do so.

6. Use your vote in advance


Tell you local Federal and State representatives that if this law is still in place when you next vote, you'll vote for the other party.


Don't Dos

1. Violence

Violence is worse than loss of property rights.

2. Lobbying below state level (unless you know them personally)

Most pols at the lower levels are in the pockets of real-estate developers, or are real-estate developers. So don't bother.

3. Demonstrations

Waste of valuable effort - it puts your weak organization in the field against strong ones. Remember: work retail and personal.

ACLU Fails Litmus Test

I try to keep an open mind, so checked to see if the ACLU is vociferously opposing the Supreme Court's destruction of poor people's property rights. It doesn't even mention it.

The issues it highlights on its home page tell you everything you need to know.

It applauds state funding of lawyers for criminals who have pled guilty.

It supports abortion, notwithstanding the consequent destruction of millions of potential Dimocrats.

It oppose the flag burning law. Only point I agree with them on. But trivial.

It complains about a student database. Another trivial issue with biometric passports on the way.

It complains about TSA profiling middle eastern men. Would that it were so!

It campaigns in support of marriage. Gay marriage.

It campaigns against the Patriot Act. When it should be worrying about VISIT.

And of course it whines about TORTURE.

Confirmed Kierkegaards.

Spot The Socialist Despot

kennedybreyermugabesouterginsburgstephens

They all are.

None were legitimately elected and all confiscate private property.

UPDATE
Here's a Roll of Honor of anti-socialist despots:
WSJ: Slams them.
Drudge: Headlines them.
LGF: Deplores them.
Rottweiler: Suggests impeaching them (that's the kindest suggestion).
Tech Central. Bush picking right-wing justices won't necessarily fix them - Reagan appointed Kennedy and Bush 41 appointed Souter.
Captain's Quarters: Suggestion (from Mark Twain) - use their law to take their homes.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

"Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder"

The Brit historian Arnold Toynbee said this after analyzing all of the civilizations up to WW2. He would have put this in the suicide category.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- -- The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.

It was a decision fraught with huge implications for a country with many areas, particularly the rapidly growing urban and suburban areas, facing countervailing pressures of development and property ownership rights.

The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue.

English common law, which is incorporated in the US constitution, secured the liberty of the person and their property.

According to Adam Smith, the expectation of profit from "improving one's stock of capital" rests on private property rights, and the belief that property rights encourage the property holders to develop the property, generate wealth, and efficiently allocate resources based on the operation of the market is central to capitalism. From this evolved the modern conception of property as a right which is enforced by positive law, in the expectation that this would produce more wealth and better standards of living.

The Supreme Court has jettisoned this in favor of:

Socialism's fundamental principles are centered on a critique of this concept, stating, among other things, that the cost of defending property is higher than the returns from private property ownership, and that even when property rights encourage the property-holder to develop his property, generate wealth, etc., he will only do so for his own benefit, which may not coincide with the benefit of other people or society at large (and which often goes directly against the interests of non-property-holders).

This is a corrupt real-estate broker's charter, enacted by men and women who are corrupted by power. I don't know where we go from here.

The Madness of Elites - Brit Doctors

Elite Brit doctors are obsessed with "child abuse", so parents of young children should treat all Brit doctors as adversaries. One terrible example is on trial now.

His name is Meadow, and he coined "Meadow's Law":

...that one cot death in a family was a tragedy, two were suspicious and three was murder...

He reached this conclusion by squaring the probability of a child dying for causes unknown. Nobody with any statistical training would make this mistake - it treats deaths like throws of a dice, each of which is independent. But real life events are usually correlated, for causal reasons. If your house is burgled, you're much more likely to be burgled again. If you live to 70, your life expectancy is much longer than it was at birth. And your kids are likely to resemble each-other.

I feel bad about this guy. The first useful thing I did after leaving college was to use statistical correlation to show why some US missiles were malfunctioning. Over the years, I noticed Meadow in news reports, shrugged at his idiocy, and assumed someone else would put him right. They didn't - he went on to testify against dozens of women who had lost their babies, arguing that:

the chance of two babies dying of cot death within an affluent family was one in 73 million.

The real figure, it emerged yesterday, was one in 77.

Nobody understands these early deaths, but its probably genetic. So, if you lose one baby, you're more likely to lose the next.

Based on this madman's evidence, Brit courts sent dozens of parents - people just like you and me - to jail and put their children into care homes. They even forced some to have their kids adopted.

Following a court case in 2000 where, on the evidence of Professor Sir Roy Meadow, they were held responsible for poisoning their youngest child by giving her 12-16 improving tablets prescribed for their eldest child's bedwetting, the two elder children were put with foster carers and the two younger ones adopted.

"I wouldn't even recognize the younger ones now," says Michelle, looking at a picture taken at the "goodbye" meeting when they were only three and five.

Meadow is now retired, and the worst he faces is losing his license. I hope that he gets sued for every last cent he has, but the Brit medical elite will probably prevent that.

Doctor who accused father of killing sons escapes total ban

A doctor who falsely accused a father of killing his two baby sons, on the evidence of a television interview, avoided being struck off for misconduct yesterday.

Prof David Southall, 57, described by the judge as a "paediatrician of international renown", concluded that Stephen Clark had killed his children after watching a documentary on Channel 4 in 2000.


Unfortunately, doctors get the backing of lefty family-hating social workers.

In the early 1990s...in Rochdale, 20 children were removed from their homes after a six-year-old boy told teachers he had seen babies murdered; the claims were dismissed by the High Court.

In the Orkney islands, village gossip about satanic practices led to the removal of nine children from their homes; after a £6 million inquiry, all charges were dismissed and social workers criticized for planting ideas in children's heads.

Criticized, that must have hurt!

Justice, Italian Style

Opinion Journal interviews the renowned Italian journalist being prosecuted for publishing a book critical of Islam. The episode illustrates the yawning gulf between US and European freedoms of speech and the sheer awfulness of Italian justice.

Oriana Fallaci faces jail because last year she published a book:

...which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe -- called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah."

An activist judge in Bergamo, in northern Italy, took it upon himself to admit a complaint against Ms. Fallaci that even the local prosecutors would not touch.

The complainant, one Adel Smith -- who, despite his name, is Muslim, and an incendiary public provocateur to boot -- has a history of anti-Fallaci crankiness, and is widely believed to be behind the publication of a pamphlet, "Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci," which exhorts Muslims to "eliminate" her.

(Ironically, Mr. Smith, too, faces the peculiar charge of vilipendio against religion -- Roman Catholicism in his case -- after he described the Catholic Church as "a criminal organization" on television. Two years ago, he made news in Italy by filing suit for the removal of crucifixes from the walls of all public-school classrooms, and also, allegedly, for flinging a crucifix out of the window of a hospital room where his mother was being treated. "My mother will not die in a room where there is a crucifix," he said, according to hospital officials.)

Which confirms that Italian justice is indeed totally politicized by "activist" (= socialist) judges.

The good news is that Oriana Fallaci is safe in New York City protected by the First Amendment. At 72, she's still a stylish Italian woman:

...stricken with a cancer that, for the moment, permits only the consumption of liquids...we drank champagne in the course of a three-hour interview...

Long may she live. And maybe Mrs G and I should abandon our Italian project.

Updated Blogroll

Some changes, focusing on sources of hard data, incisive analysis, openness, humor.

I've dumped Samizdata and No Pasaran for not accepting comments - either technical snafus or cliquish. The whole point of the blogosphere is that you get to shoot back!

New entrants:

Data: Missile Threat, Strategy Page (also has a cute begging parrot!)

Analysis: American Future, National Review, Weekly Standard (I've relented), VDH

EU numbers: EU ROTA

Comment: Melanie Phillips's Diary, Mark in Mexico, London Calling

Funny: Scrappleface

Our troops: Major K, Lt Rusten Currie, 365 And A Wake Up, Michael Yon

The Madness of Elites - The Euro Disaster

Much is made of the madness of crowds. But crowds are actually wise, and the madness of elites is more pervasive and more damaging - here's the first of several examples.

The 17th Century tulip-mania and 1990s dot-com boom are cited as proofs of the madness of crowds. In fact these are examples of investors acting rationally (buy on the up), & all but the later investors did well.

The madness of elites is a nasty phenomenon that is common in Europe - elites there model themselves on the monarchs and courtiers they've replaced. Mark Steyn remarks:

My favorite headline last week was in the International Herald Tribune: "EU leaders and voters see paths diverge." Traditionally in free societies, when the paths of the leaders and the voters "diverge", it's the leaders who depart the scene.

Not so in Europe. The Euro is a great example of a mad elite. When the Euro was mooted in the mid 90s, the Germans felt their economy was being stifled by the Mark being "too strong". All the others (France, Greece, Italy etc) thought their currencies too weak. The magic solution was to merge them, and like Goldilocks and baby bear's prorridge, get something that was just right.

Things went well for a while - the Euro dropped to 82 cents. The German elite was happy with a weak currency (the German people were not, but who cared about them). The other countries had stronger currencies, and mortgages got cheaper. However prices shot up - when we were in Rome a while back there was strike against this. Still, that was just the proletariat.

Sadly, the German economy continued to tank - turned out that their problem was high taxation and regulation, not the high Mark.

Then reality intervened. 9/11 had the US fighting for its life, and the $ weakened. Many Americans stopped buying weasel-goods - my neighbor in Virginia put a placard on his (Daimler) Chrysler minivan: "Made In America, Not Germany". The US withdrawal from continental Europe started, moving billions of $ annually out of Germany. The Euro rose, as the markets worried about American failure in the war.

In a clever move, the Germans and French reduced the Euro to junk status by dumping the Stability Pact they'd enacted to underpin the Euro. But it still kept rising because the markets thought it safer than the wartime US$.

By now the whole of continental Europe was in trouble. Double-digit unemployment, stagnant or declining economies. not able to afford to defend itself - Israel has superior armed forces to the whole bunch combined.

But then, the voters in just two of the nations finally got to rate the EU, and gave it failing grades. The markets decided the EU is a house of cards & the Euro is back where it was 18 months ago, and is forecast to hit $1 by the year-end.

The voters were wise, since a weak Euro is good for Europe. Economies will pick up as they sell more and they'll buy more domestically.

Longer term though, I think Europe is not democratic enough to solve the problems of its declining population, huge entitlement programs, over-regulation, and weak technology base. It's best hope is it becomes a suburb of India. Failing which, it'll end up a suburb of Egypt.

Let's hope the voters get to choose the option.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Right Will Prevail

Reminding us that a few Senate retards are irrelevant, here's the conclusion of a thoughtful article in The Economist, hat tip Mark In Mexico.

The biggest advantage of all for conservatives is that they have a lock on the American dream. America is famously an idea more than a geographical expression, and that idea seems to be the province of the right. A recent Pew Research Center Survey, "Beyond Red Versus Blue," shows that the Republicans are more optimistic, convinced that the future will be better than the past and that they can determine their own futures.

Democrats, on the other hand, have a European belief that "fate," or, in modern parlance, social circumstances, determines people's lot in life. (And judging by some recent series in newspapers on the subject, the party appears to have staunch allies in American newsrooms at least.)

If the American dream means anything, it means finding a plot of land where you can shape your destiny and raise your children. Those pragmatic dreamers look ever more Republican.

Mr. Bush walloped Mr. Kerry among people who were married with children. He also carried 25 of the top 26 cities in terms of white fertility. Mr. Kerry carried the bottom 16. San Francisco, the citadel of liberalism, has the lowest proportion of people under 18 in the country (14.5%).

So cheer up conservatives. You have the country's most powerful political party on your side. You have control of the market for political ideas. You have the American dream. And, despite your bout of triste post coitum, you are still outbreeding your rivals. That counts for more than the odd setback in the Senate.

UN Plain Dealing

The Brit recruited by Annan to improve the UN's image may not be what he seems (my emphases). If you had any lingering doubts about the UN's hopelessness, Soros' support should finally convince you.

Mr. Malloch Brown, a Briton who lived in D.C. while working as a political consultant and later as a World Bank official, moved his family to the New York area two years ago.

Looking for a place to rent with his wife, Patricia, and four children, Mr. Malloch Brown turned to his friend Mr. Soros, who offered the house next door to his own in the Westchester County town of Katonah. Mr. Soros owns both properties.

Both sides say Mr. Malloch Brown's $10,000-a-month rent is at market rate for the five-bedroom house on a 4.8-acre lot.

The $120,000 annual rent is almost equal to Mr. Malloch Brown's current annual net salary as undersecretary general - $125,000, according to U.N. records.

William Orme, a spokesman for the United Nations Development Program, which Mr. Malloch Brown has headed since 1999, said Mr. Malloch Brown's savings, including those from his time as a political consultant, cover the rent.

How many people would pay $120,000 each year to subsidize their employers? I think it's more likely that Soros is paying - see this on the Presidential election

Billionaire Soros enters politics ... without running for office

Soros' old friend Mark Malloch Brown, now director of the United Nations Development Program, says he's hard-pressed to think of a nongovernmental figure in the United States today — "except maybe Oprah," he jokes — who has as much power or influence overseas as does Soros.

Why Do Monsters Cry?

When the durbin hit the fan, it apologized in floods of tears. Same as Voinovich, the senator who wants to keep the UN safe for crooks and child molesters by blocking Bolton. It's because they are afraid of the consequences of their actions for their nasty little lives.

First Voinovich.

Thursday's outcome will hinge on whether senators take to heart the passionate plea of Ohio Republican George V. Voinovich, who was reduced to tears at the end of a nearly hourlong speech imploring his colleagues to vote against Bolton.

Now the durbin:

WASHINGTON - Under fire from Republicans and some fellow Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures.

“Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line,” the Illinois Democrat said. “To them I extend my heartfelt apologies.”

His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks.

Folks with interrogation training will know that tears in a suspect show culpability and fear of consequences.

Here's a good example from the Palestinian cripple who used Israel's free treatment of her burns to try and blow up the hospital.

"My dream was to be a martyr. I believe in death," she began, explaining how she was recruited by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a violent offshoot of Fatah, the main Palestinian movement which holds power in the Palestinian authority.

She became tearful and began to contradict herself. At one point she denied she wanted to carry out an attack.

"I didn't kill anyone,'' she wailed. "Do you think they will forgive me?''

All three of these moral cripples have lain awake worrying about consequences.

The durbin & Voinovich won't get re-elected. They'll lose their huge staffs. People will snub them at parties. Returning soldiers and their friends and families will disrespect them. They won't get sinecures on the boards of big corporations.

The girl won't get her hospital treatment & will serve time in an Israeli jail until they free her. Then her killer buddies will make her do it again, and kill her if she refuses.

As the Brits say, ironically, "it makes you want to weep".

Tonga 45, Old Europe 0

I'm reminded that Tonga is part of the coalition & got missed off the pix on the earlier post. It's a tiny island, but 45 marines served in Iraq until last Christmas. Here they are.


Tongans

They were also our allies in WW2.

It was only the second time that Tonga had sent soldiers to the battle field. The first time was during the Second World War, when a platoon of 28 soldiers under the command of Lt. Ben Masefield saw action at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands in 1942. In two separate engagement it lost two soldiers, Lt. Ben Masefield and 2nd Lt. Taliai.

This Just In

Reuters via Opinion Journal.

"Three former waiters at New York's posh 21 Club, where a hamburger costs $30, have filed a $5 million discrimination lawsuit saying they were fired for being French," Reuters reports.

"In a civil suit made public on Monday at Manhattan Supreme Court, the three men, Rene Bordet, 68, Jean Claude Lesbre, 63 and Yves Thepault, 68, said the restaurant's management falsely accused them of drinking wine on the job and 'created and fostered an environment rife with anti-French sentiment.' "

It's going to be tough to prove that anti-French sentiment was the fostered by "the management" rather than "300 million Americans"...