Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Magnifique!

A very neat system developed by the French company Poseidon just saved a kid from drowning. Powerful survelliance/recognition systems are the core technology for tracking terrorists - Poseidon should move into the security market.

A young girl has been saved from drowning in a swimming pool by new high-tech underwater safety cameras and dramatic footage of the rescue was released today.

The 10-year-old girl lost consciousness in the deep end of the Bangor Swimming Pool, North Wales, last Wednesday and dropped quickly to the floor of the pool, 12ft 6ins under the surface.

Within 10 seconds, one of four underwater safety cameras spotted the girl and alerted lifeguards via a pager message. A lifeguard dived into the water and pulled the girl to safety. She was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and made a full recovery in hospital.

The Poseidon technology can detect movement, trajectory and texture of underwater objects. It then compares images to a database of thousands of examples of swimmers in trouble.
If it finds a match, it alerts lifeguards using a pager message which also displays a diagram showing the location of the stricken swimmer.

Brit State Violence (Not)

Brit libertarians believe their state has killed lots of them and so should be prohibited from using violence. They're wrong - on a historical basis, Brits are about 5,000 times safer from their state than the citizens of Iran, the role model of the recent murderers of Brit innocents.

I'm reacting to
this:

The one thing the last century has taught us is that while terrorists may be dangerous, much more dangerous is the uncontrolled state, the state that kills some of its citizens in the name of making life safer for the others.

And
this:

I take as the great lesson of the 20th century that it is the State that is not your friend, it is the State, when allowed to get out of hand, that is the greatest threat to your health, safety, continued liberty and yes, even your life.

But Anglosphere nations aren't "uncontrolled" states, but beacons of freedom and liberty. Treating them with the same suspicion as one might, say, Iran, is nonsensical. The "great lesson" of the 20th Century is that the sacrifices of the Anglosphere states, including the deaths of about 1.2 million Brits, secured the "health, safety & continued liberty" of much of the world.

And Brits are very safe from their own state, as shown by an exhaustive analysis of state violence published by R.J. Rummel at the University of Hawaii. He surveys the 20th Century to 1987 and calculates the % of their own citizens different states have deliberately killed each year.


StateAverage % of citizens killed per year
UK (1900-1987)0.000003
US (1900 -1987)0.000016
France (1900-19870.000315
Iran - Islamic rep (1979-1987)0.015
Iraq - Baath (1963-19870.067
Germany - Nazi (1933-19450.087
China - Red (1949-1987)0.12
USSR (1917-1987)0.422

These numbers exclude executions after due process and accidents. I had to delve into the spreadsheets to get the French numbers.

So on a historical basis, Brits are 100 times safer from their state than French citizens are from theirs, 5,000 times safer than Iranians are from the Mullahs, and 40,000 times safer than Chinese citizens are from their rulers.

Game over.

Glow-ball Vorming

Most of the German MSM is gleefully hailing Global Warming caused by US energy profligacy as the cause of Katrina. Strangely, spite of this the $ is holding up fine.

This is a common European fantasy, satirized by the late, very lamented, Diplomad. Here are some quotes from Spiegel Online, always a rich source of humor.

Scientists are quite calmly saying that we will see this kind of thing more often. After all, this is what they have been forecasting for years -- climate change, human-caused and irreversible.
...
"People will argue about the causes of climate change for a long time to come," the paper writes. "But its effects are already reality. They are called Katrina...
...
US hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that shows a rising tendency for hurricanes that exactly reflects the curve of greenhouse gases. German scientists from the Max-Planck Institute hail the study as the first proof of a real link. "If this man-made warming continues, we will have to expect stronger storms in future" Emmanuel tells the paper.

I'm guessing the guys at Max-Planck skipped the statistics lecture that taught that correlation does not imply, let alone provide "first proof of", causation. For example, the fact that all states voting for Kerry in 2004 are next to large & cold bodies of water does not prove that cold water causes delusions.

All is not lost, one German paper talks sense:

"hurricanes are a natural phenomenon. They occurred long before humans could be affected by them. Whether the frequency and intensity of these storms has truly increased in recent years has not yet been proven with statistics."

Whether humans have aversely affected the Earth's climate or not, the paper says, one thing is clear "we have modern technology to thank that Katrina was not able to do more damage." Indeed, thanks to early warning systems, the people of New Orleans were evacuated before the storm hit. "One hundred years ago, a tropical storm as strong as Katarina would likely have caused many deaths, because it would have hit people unawares."

Indeed! Opinion Journal quotes (gasp) the NYT:

Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.

But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.

From 1970 to 1994, the Atlantic was relatively quiet, with no more than three major hurricanes in any year and none at all in three of those years. Cooler water in the North Atlantic strengthened wind shear, which tends to tear storms apart before they turn into hurricanes.

In 1995, hurricane patterns reverted to the active mode of the 1950's and 60's. From 1995 to 2003, 32 major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater, stormed across the Atlantic. It was chance, Dr. Gray said, that only three of them struck the United States at full strength.

How To Help

You can best help the people of the trashed Gulf Coast by sending money to the US Red Cross.

It's a completely different outfit from the America-hating International Red Cross.

...there is no connection between the International Committee of the Red Cross (a Europe-based organization with an anti-American, anti-Israel agenda) and the American Red Cross, who support the United States whole-heartedly, and have even withheld dues from the ICRC, out of disgust at their agenda. Don’t target the wrong group, just because they have a similar name.

The link is here - you can donate by credit card.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tim's Vacation

The higher echelon of the Brit blogosphere has insulted London's cops, lined up with the Marxists, and now decided the 52 dead from 7/7 don't count. He needs a break, so how about a weekend in London? Here's a guide and itinerary...

Meet London Cops

The police are now encouraged, nay ordered, to execute people on suspicion. Walk out of your house while Plod’s relieving himself, show no other suspicious characteristics at all, no bulky coat, no rucksack, no running, sit down on the Tube and die.

For American readers, here's the definition:

Plod (O/C) British, usually offensive, from Enid Blyton's Noddy books. Can connote Ineptitude.

Maybe Worstall thinks "Plod" is a term of respect - if so he can check it out on arriving in London by asking a cop: "Heh Plod, stop relieving yourself and tell me the time!". A video recording of the encounter would be good.

Practice His Incisive Management

Something went wrong with the system. Someone, somewhere, must be held accountable for that. It doesn’t matter that "we are at war", whenever and wherever there is such an error there has to be someone to carry the can, for if there is not then there is no sense of responsibility in the system. And as the man at the top that’s Sir Ian.

Buh Bye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Now that's decisive - working brilliantly on so little information - and so guaranteed to fix the problem!

While he's in London he can practice this management style in restaurants when he gets bad service (I'm guessing he will). Just summon the Manager and give him the "Buh Bye" line. Easy - the guy's bound to do what he's told. Again, video would be good.

Comfort The Bereaved

I still think that the killing by the State of an innocent is worse in many ways than the killing of 52 by religious nutters.

Here's a light Fisking.


Strip off the redundant “still” and the weasel-phrase “in many ways”; insert "accidental" (unless he wants to argue murder); clarify the State as British (the most-free, least-corrupt, big economy in the world); insert "innocent" to characterize the 52 dead on the equal terms; replace "killing" with "murder"; modify "religious nutters" to identify their objective. The result reads:

I think that the accidental killing by the British State of an innocent is worse than the murder of 52 innocents by enemies of the British State.

Of course, the 52 innocents might outvote Worstall's one.

Still, I could be wrong and to check this out, Tim should travel around London (on the Underground) and visit the relations of each of the 52 dead, explaining to them that the death of their wife/husband/mother/father/daughter/son/brother/sister is sooo much less important than one guy's. Because their relations were murdered by terrorists, not accidentally shot by cops. Once again, lots af video please!

I'm happy to help with recommendations of Notting Hill hotels where he'd feel at home...

Ad Hominem

Giles takes me to task for being disrespectful to the higher echelons of the Brit blogosphere. He argues that my detecting Brit class-prejudice in the twaddle published by these illustrious folks is an Ad Hominem smear.

Gandalf replies to my earlier post, but not as impressively as before; ongoing disagreement from myself and from (in the higher echelons of the blogosphere) Tim Worstall seem to have tempted him into the public debater’s habit of playing the man, not the ball. Those on the left who disagree with his conclusions? Marxists. Libertarians? Young and naive. The remainder? Typically british class-ridden moaning minnies. And all of these people despise policemen. They don’t disagree with the current police policy, or believe it’s been misapplied in this case - they loathe and despise the person who happened to carry it out.

"Play the player, not the ball" is a Brit name for the Ad Hominem argument that is so loved by lefties ("Bushitler" etc.), which is defined so:

1. A makes claim B;
2. there is something objectionable about A,
3. therefore claim B is false.

My argument was rather different:

1. (Following 7/7, the higher echelon of the Brit blogosphere) claims, along with Brit Marxists, that (Brit "Plods" are ruthless killers and that the Brit state is a bigger threat than terrorists).
2. These claims are demonstrably false and differ markedly from US reaction to 9/11.
3. And here's why I think 1 is occurring.

My step 3 is a deductive argument, based on data.

Of course, falsely accusing someone of Ad Hominem is, er, Ad Hominem. And seeing hierarchies in the democratic blogosphere might just hint at unconscious class prejudice...

America Pulls Through

The Gulf Coast has taken a terrible beating (WSJ, subscription), but New Orleans was not swamped, our friends are OK, and European pessimists are disappointed.

Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, leaving more than a million people without power, lowlands swamped and at least 55 dead. New Orleans was spared utter devastation, but Mississippi beach communities to the east felt the full fury. Winds early Tuesday were still a dangerous 60 mph. The storm shut down a big chunk of oil and natural-gas production, rattling energy markets.

In spite of which the $ has strengthened about 1% against the Euro and £ since yesterday.

As expected:

Private citizens were already conducting rescue efforts. In New Orleans, Mark Morice, 35, steered his boat through four feet of water, downed power lines and broken tree limbs. "We are going out, there are people out there on top of homes," he said.

Volunteering in a crisis is an Anglo characteristic. When Mrs G and I crossed London's Edgware Road (eerily deserted of traffic) 2 hours after the 7/7 bombings, the workers in the local Marks and Spencer clothing store had set up a field hospital on their own volition and cops were taking the walking wounded there from the site of one of the bombings.

Unbreakable.

Monday, August 29, 2005

DefenseTech Flunks

The sometimes-useful-but-usually-irritating DefenseTech just flunked its basic weapons test.

M-4s? Not so Fast...

The Times has an interesting story on American reluctance to give Iraqi army units the machine guns and armored Humvees they want.

The NYT "story" is that the US is holding back supplying Iraqi soldiers with M-4s in case they turn into enemies. Which is nonsense beacuse, compared with the AK-47 currently used by the Iraqi army, the M-4 is not a great killing weapon.

Here is a snip from the Michael Yon's recent Gates of Fire (it's very, very good, try to read the whole thing). Describing two infantry engagements:

Amazingly, despite being hit by four M4's from multiple directions, the man still lived a few minutes. Soldiers out ran and tackled his two associates when they made a run.
....

Prosser shot the man at least four times with his M4 rifle. But the American M4 rifles are weak--after Prosser landed three nearly point blank shots in the man's abdomen, splattering a testicle with a fourth, the man just staggered back, regrouped and tried to shoot Prosser.

I hope DefenseTech is more reliable on the topic of BMD.

Iraq's Quiet Savior

The history of nations is not made by Yes Men, but by the obstinate, brave & smart - think Washington, Jefferson, Churchill and Roosevelt. Ahmad Chalabi looks to be the man to build democracy in Iraq. The Administration must do the right thing and support him - their policy of undermining him is a bust.

Robert Pollock writes in today's Opinion Journal:

That night Khalid al-Saaidi becomes the third associate of Mr. Chalabi to die in two weeks...Meanwhile, Baathist insurgents have obtained the phone directory of another victim...and are threatening still more. Mr. Chalabi has re-emerged in their eyes as a prime threat.

Why? Because he survived a concerted White House campaign last year to undermine him, brokering the Shiite-led electoral list that won the January election and becoming deputy prime minister; because he had become a major player in the constitution-writing process that culminated this past weekend; and because he is rapidly becoming a key figure for U.S. military commanders on the ground here as they contemplate the feasibility of troop drawdowns.

Chalabi has all the right enemies - the UN, Iran, CIA and State Department all hate him. Last year the CIA and State tried unsuccessfully to smear him with a bunch of of trumped-up charges. They stripped his guards of their guns, assuming that he'd either be killed by Baathists or run. He stayed, protected by his friends.

He has the right friends. In spite of CIA pressure, the splendid Kurdish leadership stood by him - he'd fought with them against Saddam back in 1996.

The UN hated him because he blew the whistle on its Oil-For-Food corruption (my ellipsis).

It isn't a coincidence that the (State and CIA) attacks on Mr. Chalabi really heated up with arrival in Baghdad of U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and a desperate play by the administration to foist responsibility for occupation on the international community. The trouble was, Mr. Chalabi had been busy showing that the U.N. had never really had Iraq's interests at heart. The Volcker Commission would likely never have been empaneled, and Oil for Food chief Benon Sevan's alleged corruption exposed, without the leads Mr. Chalabi provided based on information he obtained while serving as a member of the Governing Council.

He's an excellent manager and has worked wonders protecting Iraq's precious oil exports.

He's a savvy politician.

...under the most trying conditions, the master coalition-builder crafted the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance that shocked our spooks and diplomats by dominating the January election.

His enemies tunneled his election victory:

Mr. Chalabi had enough support to make a credible bid for the prime minister's post, only to drop out in the face of strong U.S.-Iranian lobbying...for the Islamist, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, who has proven to be an ineffectual leader at best.

Right, it sounds incredible - a US/Iranian alliance!

Chalabi seems to be the only man with the stature to get the Sunnis to accept the Constitution & so avert civil war. The Administration has treated him appallingly and I hope they've learned their lesson - only strong men make good allies. And I hope the Baathist killers don't get him.

American Resilience

There's anticipatory lip-smacking in the Euro-Moonbat media about the massive damage Katrina may be inflicting, right now, on New Orleans. They'll be disappointed - Americans recover much more effectively from disasters than do Europeans.

Based on my experiences (regular readers will have now have figured out that I'm something of a disaster-magnet), Americans take much more responsibility for their own lives, have more efficient work processes, and work better as teams. Probably inherited from frontier days, only a few generations back. Here's what I've seen

Ugly car crash in the middle the Arizona desert

Everybody stopped their cars and sprinted towards the huge column of smoke, many clutching First Aid kits.

Gypsy Moth attack in New Hampshire

These are caterpillars, not life threatening, but they defoliate huge areas and make everything sticky. We and our neighbors banded together to hire a crop duster and took them out.

San Francisco Earthquake

Marina district was on fire when I made it back from Berkeley. There were a few city fire appliances but most of the work was being done by an enormous crowd of locals - mixed teams of Yuppies and Village People hauling hoses up from the Bay, where they'd moored their resident-owned fireship (rescued from destruction by the City). And we all just worked round the problems in the following days of no power.

Tornados

People carefully track them & when a big one headed for a town near us in Minneapolis, the folks in the next town mobilized. The men loaded up their pickups with winches, saws, ladders, and First Aid gear and headed out. The women stayed to prepare sandwiches and hot drinks and headed out after the men. After 24 hours the local cops were pleading for them to go home!

Many places have a tornado shelters and we've several times needed to take refuge.

9/11

Remember people carrying disabled people down the stairwells, while the doomed firefighters sprinted up past them to rescue more?

Post 9/11

Most people we know in DC (prime target) have family survival procedures for terrorist attack. Grandpa in the boondocks as information center, detailed plans to get the kids from school, exit routes, grab bags with basic survival gear.

New Orleans

Friends there have walked us round the problem - the lake is 10' higher than ground level. Like everybody else in New Orleans, they have a plan and (we pray) will be safe.

Recovery

Americans are very good at fixing things. They use lots of equipment, they organize the work very well, their superb tool carriers hold everything to hand, they have gadgets you never see in Europe - plasterers use stilts to reach the high ceilings, much faster than platforms.

Bottom line: New Orleans will recover through the efforts of the folks who live there.

There is another point here. People reared to look after themselves in this way are invincible. Which is why I believe that the Iraqi insurgency has been largely defeated - but that's another post...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Italy Must Come Clean

An Italian claims complicity in helping out injured Iraqi terrorists and their kids. The Italian government may or may not be involved. But either way it must urgently provide the Coalition with details of the men and kids they treated - it might reveal the location of a cache of nuclear material.

Italian doctors smuggled four gravely wounded Iraqi insurgents past American checkpoints and secretly treated them in a Baghdad hospital as part of the price to secure the release of two Italian hostages last year, the outgoing head of the Italian Red Cross told a newspaper yesterday.

Sick children of insurgents were also flown to Italy to undergo treatment for leukemia within days of the release of the "Two Simonas" - the aid workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta - in September last year.

Maurizio Scelli, a central figure in the negotiation for the release of several Italian hostages, caused controversy by disclosing to La Stampa that Italy's American allies were deliberately kept in the dark about his negotiations with the approval of the Italian government.

"There was another condition. We had to treat four of their children who were sick with leukaemia and who, if I remember correctly, arrived in Italy the day after the Two Simonas."

Four kids with leukemia is a lot since:

...between 480 and 500 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with leukemia in Britain each year..

Scaled for population, Iraq would have 217 kids diagnosed each year. If there are 25,000 terrorists that's 0.1% of the population and they would have 0.2 kids diagnosed with leukemia a year. So 4 kids is 20 years worth of diagnosed kids! This may be a statistical fluke - you can get clusters of leukemia. But it may be something scary.

A major cause of leukemia is radiation exposure of children or their fathers (my emphasis)

Ionizing radiation has long been recognised as a cause of leukemia in exposed children. But delegates at a conference in London today...will hear how ground-breaking research is now providing evidence that the children of men exposed to radiation may also be at increased risk of developing leukemia.

So it's vital for us to know which kids the Italians treated, where they live, and where their fathers live. Because either kids or fathers might be sitting on a cache of enriched Uranium or Plutonium.

UPDATE 11 PM 8/28: Fixed broken link

A Moral Test

Today, two brave Israelis were seriously wounded while stopping a suicide bomber. They didn't use their guns. Critics of London's cops are asking them to emulate these brave men - laying down life and limb for the critics' principles.

A suicide bomb attack at the entrance to the central bus station in Beersheba wounded at least twenty people Sunday morning.

Two of the wounded, both security guards who kept the bomber from entering the bus station, were in critical condition and were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

According to witnesses, the suicide bomber attempted to enter the Beersheba bus station. The security guards at the site reportedly saw a young Arab man carrying a backpack who aroused their suspicions.

When the two security guards called on the bomber to stop, he detonated his explosives outside the station, in a less crowded area.

Initial investigations suggested that the bomber had intended to blow up at the Soroka Medical Center, Channel 2 reported.

In Praise of Bacitracin and Running

One of the many good things the US has given me is antibiotic Bacitracin ointment. It helps heal surface scrapes and cuts in a few days, without scarring - a must for clumsy runners.

A medic in Palo Alto introduced me to it some years ago when patching me up after a hill-running fall. He explained that the best treatment for virtually everything involving surface physical damage was a) clean out the wound b) apply lots of Bacitracin c) don't cover the wound unless the environment is infectious d) update your tetanus shot if necessary and e) sleep.

I've followed this formula successfully many times since, and it served me well again today, when a small fall took out my right forearm. The fragrant Mrs G executed the standard patch-up routine and now I'm fine - just typing with less fingers than usual. She has of course renewed her gentle pressure to transfer to a safer sport like swimming. But that would stop me exploring the world at first hand - the land, topography, people, flora, fauna, views and weather. And, of course, the surface of the sidewalks...

Which brings me to the point of this post. For some reason I've never found Bacitracin in Europe - perhaps it goes by another name, or has been banned by the EU. So I stock up with it before departing the US. Does anyone know of a European equivalent?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Why Some Brits Despise Their Cops And Army

An earlier post wondered why, in the middle of a huge operation to prevent another 7/7, an unlikely crew of Brits have followed the Marxist line and focused on attacking the London cops. This is puzzling to Americans who all closed ranks for months after 9/11 - so what's going on? I think it's caused by the Brit class wars - the middle class detractors despise Brit soldiers and cops because they think them low class.

To get to this conclusion, I tested a range of hypotheses, using the book on Brit core values I recently reviewed plus my trusty copy of Hofsteed's Culture's Consequence: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations.

I quickly rejected the theory that the critics were displaying the Brit values of Fair Play and Supporting the Underdog - the 52 people who were killed and the many maimed were just as much underdogs as the Brazilian who was accidentally shot. And fair play requires that the cops who did the shooting are not convicted by leaks from the politicized investigation.

The Brit propensity to moan is part of the problem. Just as they won't complain to the waiter & get a bad meal replaced - preferring to moan to eachother, so they moan about the mistakes of the cops rather than talking seriously about how to prevent more 7/7s. But moaning is a social habit, and I wouldn't expect this level of obsession in the Brit MSM and blogosphere from a social tic.

Another cause is the anti-authority stance which comes with the territory of being under 35. Here's Giles, a libertarian (who by definition must be young...):

The one thing the last century has taught us is that terrorists are dangerous, but much more dangerous is the uncontrolled state, the state that kills some of its citizens in the name of making life safer for the others. A very approximate tally based on the numbers I can dredge up from the depth of my memory gives at least 60 million dead from state violence since 1905. Numbers for terrorism I don’t have, but I would challenge anyone to come up with more than a million.

Which misses the point that these 60 million deaths were caused by tyrannies - the 20th century equivalents of al Queda. Anglosphere sacrifices destroyed these tyrannies, making much of the world safe for libertarians. As a thought experiment, imagine how long a libertarian would survive in a modern tyranny like China or Iran.

Which brings me to the Times and Tim Worstall. They can't claim youthful idealism, and obviously they aren't Marxists. So what's their excuse?

It's Class

Living in the US eliminated my class reflexes. Americans do have a class structure but rarely show it - they are too focused on assimilation and social mobility. When I first moved to work in the US, a late meeting I attended was politely interrupted by the janitor who was hauling the trash. He wanted to know what we were doing to improve the stock price. I'd filtered him out as a mere menial, and never forgot the lesson - in America, everybody counts, and you assess people as individuals, not by their job or accent.

However English people filter and classify people all the time, and the anthropologist comments:

What is distinctive about the English class system is a) the the degree to which our class (and/or class anxiety) determines our taste, behavior, judgments and interactions; b) the fact that class is not judged at all on wealth , and very little on occupation, but purely on on non-economic indicators such as speech, manner, taste and lifestyle choices; c) the acute sensitivity of our on-board class-radar systems...

The Brit General I posted on last week gives a nasty example, branding:

many (army) recruits as "cocky and arrogant and brought up on a diet of football brats and binge drinking. . . who are not educated in and able to recognise self-discipline".

No American officer would dream of voicing (or even thinking) such a class-laden statement about recruits. It tells you is that the Brit army sees itself as a bunch of upper class officers doing their best to manage a crew of drunken, brutal thugs - a lousy model for a fighting army.

And here's how Tim Worstall describes London's cops - I'm not picking on him, but he's the biggest Brit Blogger, so a weather-vane for its blogosphere:

The police are now encouraged, nay ordered, to execute people on suspicion. Walk out of your house while Plod’s relieving himself, show no other suspicious characteristics at all, no bulky coat, no rucksack, no running, sit down on the Tube and die.

The whole thing drips contempt ("Plod" is a pejorative word for a stupid low-class cop). Can you imagine any non-lefty American blogger using such terms about his local Sheriff?

So here's the deal. The Times and many non-lefty Brit blogs are written by and for the Brit middle-middle class. The members of which have been trained since birth to disregard and show contempt for the lower classes. They think the cops and army are populated by said lower classes. So they despise them.

Sufferers can check my theory with another thought experiment.

How would you treat a police force made up entirely of upper-class Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson types and an army manned entirely by decent chaps called Rupert?

I rest my case.

Kenneth Clarke

Clarke is running for leadership of the Brit Tory party, the opposition to New Labor. He has a long history of promoting stupid ideas, notably the Euro. His recently confession that he has wrong on the Euro may incline people to forgive him. They shouldn't - he's another Edward Heath with weak analytical skills and too arrogant to attract smart people to cover his weaknesses.

Ferdinand Mount does a demolition job on the guy, concluding:

He might make a splendid President of France. I just don't think he's one for us.

Actually, Clarke would screw up France even more than Chirac has. Here are highlights of his career (my ellipsis and emphasis).

The Euro

The year after the euro was launched, Clarke was triumphant: "The euro has already created wider and deeper capital markets. It has done what I thought it would do: speed up the essential restructuring of western European economies. It has also stimulated trade and investment across borders. It is leading to liberalisation in every area. Euroland economies are achieving rapidly accelerating rates of growth. I never thought that the disadvantages of (the UK) having to wait would become apparent so soon."

Now he says that virtually none of this has turned out to be true.

He means none. Then, two years later:

"There has been a decisive swing to the pro-euro cause. The public mood is changing as people can see the success of the new currency on the mainland and the alarming fall in inward investment into Britain."

Which was followed by the Dutch and French showing their own kind of mood change as the Brits left the Euro economies in the dust.

Clarke hurt real people when he had power.

Undermining the family

As chancellor, he began the erosion of the married couple's tax allowance, denouncing such support of marriage through the tax system as "an anomaly".

Centralizing

...in office Clarke was consistently contemptuous of the performance and potential of local government. In all his senior posts, he supported centralization with unabashed vigour.

Locking kids in lousy schools

As education secretary, he blocked any attempt to devolve real power to parents by some sort of education voucher.

His apologies miss the point - which is why did he do these things?

Anyone with basic math and a spreadsheet can see that a common currency linking Germany, Italy, Portugal and Greece will damage all economies. Any manager knows that devolved power works better than the Stalinist model. All Brits understand that competition makes them richer and better-supplied, so lack of competition is the cancer ruining their kids' education.

Clarke's problem, like his role-model Heath, is that he has weak analytical skills and is too arrogant to compensate by surrounding himself with smart people.

Margaret Thatcher was the reverse - a trained chemist and clever herself, she nevertheless surrounded herself with super-smarts like Keith Joseph. Her team transformed the Brit economy from the "sick man of Europe" to the fourth-largest economy in the world.

If the Tories select Clarke as their leader his record will probably guarantee that they'll never win an election. If for any reason they do, he'll smash their economy and further undermine the fabric of their society.

EU Gets It Right

The EU and President Chirac strike an historic blow for Avian Rights.

...this week the Dutch agriculture ministry ordered all birds to be kept indoors on the advice of its scientists.

However...

Holland's tough precautions against bird flu are now being examined by EC lawyers to see whether they breached EU procedures. Commission lawyers are also examining whether Holland's poultry flocks can now retain their free-range status.

Quite right too. Farmers are probably moving their charges into their front parlors. Can you imagine the effect on an impressionable chick of exposure to the heavy furnishings and gilt decor so popular with Dutch poultry breeders? Or of 24*7 exposure to Dutch TV and its terrible game shows? Never forget that the Dutch invented Big Brother.

President Chirac is following up, the London Telegraph headlining.

Chirac has 'grave concerns' over Turkey

Imagine the heart-rending scene. The turkey tucked up in bed in a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital, thermometer in beak & attended by a crack team of Italian Red Cross terrorist doctors. Chirac sits at at the bedside, gently patting its wing, a look of kindly solicitude on his lizardoid features.

Europe finished? Never!

Friday, August 26, 2005

My Sincerest Apologies to Dr Rice

It turns out the quote by the Secretary of State "It cannot be Gaza only" was fabricated by the New York Times. I picked up the quote from Yahoo News and sloppily failed to spot the words "The New York Times reported" - if I'd noticed that, I'd have discounted it. I humbly apologize for calling the good Doctor the Carly Fiorina of the administration.

Thanks to LGF, vigilant as ever, for publicizing this frame-up, and to Rick Richman for his diligent sleuthing.

Useful Brit Idiots

Yesterday was seven weeks since 7/7 and the 52 dead are buried. The London Times marked the anniversary by suspending its daily front page attacks on London's cops, though Brit bloggers kept up the sniping. These critics are singing the same song as the anti-war Marxists who advised Galloway, suggesting something rotten at the heart of Brit conservatism.

Campaigners with an "extreme Left-wing agenda" have been accused of exploiting the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot by police who mistook him for a suicide bomber.

Two of the key spokesmen for the family of the 27-year-old electrician have ties to groups linked to anti-war and anti-capitalist causes.

Asad Rehman, who has helped set up the Justice4Jean campaign, recently acted as a political adviser for George Galloway, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow who was elected in May on an anti-war platform. He was described yesterday as a "Marxist agitator" and former leader of the Stop the War coalition, which organised the 2003 march in London against the Iraq war

He has told Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, to resign.

Yasmin Khan, another spokesman, has ties to the Radical Activist Network, which is opposed to "corporate globalisation".

The Justice4Jean website describes Mr de Menezes's death as "murder" and says Sir Ian deliberately misled the public. It also aims to "end the shoot-to-kill policy and campaign against the rising tide of racism and the attack on civil liberties in the UK".

On July 8th, who would have imagined that just 7 weeks later the second largest "quality" Brit newspaper and parts of the blogosphere would lined up with the Marxists?

Compare this with the US after 9/11. Americans knew that the CIA and other agencies must have screwed up to let it happen, but chose to focus on the immediate tasks of helping the bereaved and hunting down the killers. That covered all people, all commentators (except Slugman), and the entire political spectrum. This solidarity didn't last more than 3 months, but while it did, it was awesome.

The UK started the same way and its heart has stayed on track - the Brit people, Blair's left-wing government, the Tory opposition and much of the MSM (excluding of course, the BBC) have responded robustly (hat tip American Future):


Almost three-quarters of the public believe that it is right to give up civil liberties to improve our security against terrorist attacks. The results provide evidence of public support for Tony Blair's anti-terrorist reforms which he unveiled before leaving on his summer holiday earlier this month.

But, extraordinarily, the conservative London Times and some of the conservative blogosphere quickly adopted the Marxist line, focusing on one mistake in the huge anti-terror operation the security forces have been running since 7/7. Their writing shows a deep dislike of the British state - here's Tim Worstall:

Yes, perhaps I am paranoid on this subject but I take as the great lesson of the 20th century that it is the State that is not your friend, it is the State, when allowed to get out of hand, that is the greatest threat to your health, safety, continued liberty and yes, even your life.

This from a citizen of the most free, least corrupt large economy in the world, just a few weeks after a horrific attack by an alien force, and in the middle of his state's desperate battle to prevent more deaths. And it isn't just any state - it's the UK! From which sprang most liberty in our imperfect world, and which sacrificed 1.2 million lives and all of its treasure in the 20th century to keep the world free.

So, Brit conservatives think like Marxists. I'll suggest why and what to do with them in a later post.

UPDATE14:21 After its 1-day silence, the London Times has resumed its denigration campaign with more unverifiable garbage.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Brits Behaving Uselessly

Can't resist this to back up to the previous post - it exceeds all limits of parody. The Brit mass murder doctor Harold Shipman, who was jailed (no death penalty!) for murdering over 250 of his patients committed suicide in prison. So the Brits had a special inquiry which blamed - wait for it - the prison!

Staff at Wakefield Prison could not have stopped the serial killer Harold Shipman from killing himself, but they may have played some part in driving him to it, a report has found.

The decision to withdraw Shipman's prison privileges on December 11, a month before he hanged himself in his cell, meant that he was short of money to ring his wife, Primrose. It also meant he was allowed to see little of her over Christmas.

A prison doctor said that this had left the normally controlled and impassive prisoner "very emotional" and "close to tears" a week before he died.

He had served four years of his 15 life sentences for murdering at least 250 of his patients by injecting them with drugs.

Stephen Shaw, the prisons ombudsman who compiled the report, said that the death could not have been predicted or prevented.

But he added: "I am critical of the fact that staff at Wakefield do not appear to have been alerted to the man's long-term risk of suicide, or what might finally trigger it."

He also criticised the fact that staff wasted 30 minutes trying to resuscitate a man who was plainly dead; failed to call a paramedic; did not call a doctor for more than half an hour; and kept such sloppy records that it was impossible to reconstruct the timings of what happened that morning.

To practice being typically English, whine after me: "I blame the prison!"

Modern Brits & Assimilation

To assess if the Brits can successfully assimilate millions of new citizens, we need to understand their current core values. I logged-off them in 1991 & since then the UK has changed extensively. Brits have prospered from the Thatcher legacy but fallen under the nanny-state yokes of the EU and Blair's New Labor. So, I've done some research and here's an anthropological view.

It's from an excellent book called Watching the English by the anthropologist Kate Fox. She's examined the English (not the Welsh, Scots or Irish) exactly as she would an Amazonian tribe.

In spite of being a self-confessed Guardian reader (i.e. lefty), she's methodical, insightful and funny - the section on the English and Sex is uproarious. She's only seriously wrong on cars, where, being a Brit female, she fails to understand the key place of the Volvo in the Brit car Pantheon. And her description of business life doesn't match my experience - but then she works in the state sector. The book was published in 2004, so is up-to-date.

Here's what she concludes about the English.

1. The core of English identity is their chronic social inhibitions and handicaps.

This results in problems including fear of intimacy, insularity and general inability to engage straightforwardly with other human beings.

To me this is the weakest analysis - I don't know any English who are that socially crippled. Possibly this is stronger in Guardian-reading lefties, which would explain a lot.

2. English default modes of behavior are Humor and Moderation

The humor part is spot on - compare the average English and US blogs (ahem, mine is Welsh/American/etc).

Moderation is a very-deep seated English attribute. She says English revolutionaries would chant:

"What do we want? GRADUAL CHANGE! When do we want it? IN DUE COURSE!".

That's why, right now, they don't like police shooting people in London, even if in aggregate it makes the place safer. If the bombings continue and the bodies pile up, they'll change.

3. English outlooks are Empiricism, Gloominess and Class-consciousness

Very acute. On empiricism, a typical English saying is "I'll believe it when I see it". Isaac Newton was an empiricist - all that mattered was that the inverse square law worked, he didn't care why.

And English love being gloomy - if you ask one how he's doing, he's quite likely to say "mustn't grumble" (but then does). Unthinkable in the US. English eating a lousy meal in a restaurant are much more likely to moan about it to each-other than to the waiter. Now they moan about the EU and Blair, but don't do anything about either.

What strikes me as very new (and is not mentioned in the book) is the Blame Game - every problem has to be someone's fault, witness the witch hunt against London's cops. It wasn't like that when I was in the culture - you didn't grumble but kept a stiff upper lip and soldiered on. Now the English are a nation of John Edwardses. Not good.

I can't judge the class thing - I've been out of it too long.

4. Values are Fair Play, Courtesy, Modesty

Fair play includes supporting the underdog and compromising. Courtesy is more a surface than real - if you bump into an English person, they really do say "sorry", just like in National Lampoon's European Vacation. Modesty is all about boasting in code rather than outright, and playing down class/wealth/status differences.

All of which are true, although in my experience is Americans are more genuinely courteous and modest.

Bottom line: other than the Blame Game, the English seem remarkably unchanged by the dictatorships of Blair and the EU. To my (American) eye, they seem tentative, un-pushy, long-winded and negative. But to my (British) eye their moderation, humor and sense of fair play give them a unique basis for assimilating people from other cultures.

And (back to being American) they must be doing something right, they have the freest, least corrupt large economy in the world. They just have to stop playing the Blame Game.

Good News! New London Sub Base Saved

The Pentagon has decided not to close the famous Groton sub base, which is good news given a resurgent Russia and the developing Chinese threat. It confirms Secretary Rumsfeld's management excellence.

Groton is across the Thames from the New London town of Kelo fame. I first went on board a nuclear sub there, but future rather than nostalgic considerations make keeping Groton a great move.

Groton is the East Coast base nearest to the shortest and most covert route to the Pacific, which goes under the Arctic ice cap -- a faster route to North Korea than the subs based in San Diego, in fact.

And basing subs out of just 2 bases in Norfolk and San Diego made no sense with a resurgent Russia fueled by $60+ oil refurbishing its huge nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.

Don Rumsfeld has fought a lot of tough battles to rationalize the US military, and was set on this closure. His willingness to change his mind when the facts changed confirms him as a great manager - in the words of (I think) Emerson,

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

French Property Rights

If you're pained that the Iraqis won't have Anglo-style legal rights, you might reassured that the mainland European semi-democracies don't either.

As a court finance officer in Doncaster, John Allott has probably heard most of the excuses known to man. When he offered one of his own to gendarmes and customs officers on the lookout for fake designer goods at a motorway toll booth on the French Riviera, it cut no ice.

"They told me I'd bought a false Hermes bag and I explained that I'd never even heard of Hermes," said Mr Allott, 56. "I just thought it would be a nice birthday present for my wife."
Coming from a Yorkshireman who has reached a certain age after living a hitherto blameless life, the protestation might seem to carry a ring of truth.


But the shoulder bag intended for Yvonne Allott's 55th birthday ended up on a growing pile of counterfeit articles seized and ripped apart by officers mounting a stop-and-search exercise at La Turbie, the first French motorway toll booth that greets traffic arriving from Italy.

Think about it. The French State takes & destroys property as an agent operating for the benefit of French businesses, without trial or redress.

Makes the Sunnis look good.

PS Please no jokes about SCOTUS...

Anglosphere Assimilation

Every day, tens of thousands of immigrants - legal and illegal - pour into the US, UK and other English-speaking nations. They want to share our prosperity and peace. I see this as a tremendous opportunity, not a threat. The challenge is how well the Anglosphere assimilates these folks, while sustaining the core values of its successful societies.

If you haven't already done so, it worth reading the Anglosphere book. Mark Steyn takes it a bit further, debunking multiculturalism, here's some snips.

The premise of multiculturalism is that all cultures are equally ‘valid’, but of course that’s bunk: some cultures are better, some are worse, some are successes, some are failures.

I’m not being ‘Eurocentric’ here. Perish the thought: an awful lot of European cultures have proved hopeless at sustaining over any length of time representative government, property rights, the rule of law and individual liberty.

Those are largely features of the Britannic world — not just of the United Kingdom, America, Australia and New Zealand but also of India, Singapore, St Lucia, as well as Quebec and Mauritius, to name but two francophone jurisdictions all the more agreeable for having spent their formative years under the British Crown.

That’s one reason why I’m a Eurosceptic — because I don’t think the British have anything to learn from the Belgians or Germans; on the other hand, the Belgians and Germans have quite a lot to learn from Belize and Barbados.

The debate led by the editor of this magazine and others over this last month about promoting ‘Britishness’ is perplexing to an offshore observer, if only because the superiority of the Britannic inheritance should be self-evident. Even in the dodgier parts of the globe, a good rule of thumb is head for the joint that was under British rule the longest: try doing business in Malaysia and then in Indonesia and you’ll see what I mean.

I posted a similarly a while back & an irate Frenchman berated me as an Anglo-supremacy-fantasist.Still, the world's population agrees that places where English is spoken are the places they'll risk their lives to get to. Until recently, the French had a vast camp for illegals just their side of the Channel Tunnel & these were not folks fleeing the UK for France!

And, for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about welfare cheats, terrorists, law-breakers and multiculturalism, my personal experience is that most immigrants do assimilate. Mexico is a classic low-trust state in which nothing seems to work. And yet much of the US service economy lives off the reliability of Hispanic immigrants. They do all the things you'd expect in a high-trust state: arrive to work on time, work hard, act responsibly, do a quality job, save, and educate their kids.

The neighborhood of our London apartment is peopled by every race under the sun, running and working in businesses, working in stores, waiting at table, sitting in the pubs. Not just folks from Africa and Asia but people from prosperous mainland Europe - French, Italians, Germans etc. Plus lots of people from non-EU States - Romanians for example, like the dental technician murdered on 7/7. And the two guys who did a perfect job last summer remodeling a bathroom for me, taking time out to help me with a critical assessment of modern Russian literature.

And bizarrely, most of these people act like ordinary Brits! They quickly adopt London accents, tell silly jokes, keep their promises, work hard, talk about the weather, and moan about Tony Blair. And even drink cups of tea in times of crisis.

So, we are seeing is a mass integration of the world's best and brightest into the Anglosphere. The process is less than perfect and in subsequent posts, I'm going to try to analyze out the big-gorilla questions.

1. How should the US deal with the 10,000 Mexicans who each day illegally cross the border?

2. How do the Brits deal with dysfunctional behaviors in their Muslim communities, notably violence and women-hatred?

3. How do Anglo societies manage the costs of immigration and assimilation.

4. And what do host nations do with immigrants that fail to assimilate?

5. How can governments of host nations address the concerns of their existing populations?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Brit Cops & Bloggers

Tim Worstall responded robustly to my 50 caliber burst on the witch-hunt against London's police chief (confusingly called Blair). But I still don't agree with him. The Typepad Comment system is broken, so I've posted my Comment on his post below.

The first part of TW's post is:

The shooting of de Menezes was not an accident. It was a deliberate action....we just don’t know quite yet who made that deliberation.

Here’s what really worries me. Over the years we’ve had a number of people trying to kill random members of the public. Anarchists, the IRA (several times) and now (in Alex Harrowell’s delightful phrase) the Continuity Taleban. I’m sure there are others we can add to the list. I have no doubt that in the future there will be similar other groups who wish and attempt to do the same. It’s a sad part of life.

I am much more worried about the ability of the State to kill people without being upbraided for it. To say, "It was just an accident" makes the next one more likely. Perhaps I am paranoid on the subject....I live in a country which only 31 years ago was a fascist dictatorship....that dictatorship being the one that Amnesty International was first founded to protest against.

Here's what I think.

Of course we should vigorously defend our liberties. But the Brit bloggers are choosing the wrong targets.

First, (London Chief Cop) Blair is the typical CEO you'd expect to climb the greasy pole. But that doesn't mean he's a liar. The "damaging" information bloggers are convicting him on is being leaked by the IPCC, which is headed by a former London cop. It looks like score-settling to me. Bloggers should wait until they have hard facts before demanding heads.


Second, of course every outcome has a causal sequence that triggers it. But it can still be an accident, since real life is not perfect. We make faulty identifications, we mishear, weapons jam, radios pack up, and so on. That's why about 20% of all combat deaths (and rising) are "friendly fire". And, make no mistake, suicide bombers bring combat to you!

Next, do you really believe that (head cop, not Prime Minister) Blair will suffer if you succeed in hanging the blame on him? He has bags of political capital, and the worse he'll get is early retirement on a fat pension. Whereas the cops and soldiers who had to make the split-second judgment calls and (they thought) risk their lives will be picked to pieces by the Brit courts when the MSM and blogosphere has finished with them, and end up in jail with ruined careers. If you don't believe me, count the number of Brit officers and non-officers who've been convicted for malfeasance in Iraq.

And if that doesn't bother you because you think Brit cops with guns spend their time plotting to shoot innocents. Imagine you (yes, you!) are an armed cop on patrol tomorrow. You see what you believe to be a bomber, complete with backpack, boarding an underground train. Or a petrol tanker speeding toward a crowd. Will you shoot? Of course not - the Brit bloggers & MSM have made the personal cost of that so high that its easier to hold your fire & let lots of Brits die - after all, nobody is being harassed for letting the 52 be killed on 7/7!

This is a lousy outcome.

UPDATE 8/24: Oops, left in a few of redundant prepositions, now edited out.

Royal Navy's Lessons of War

The book on Operation Pedestal, the convoy that lifted the siege of the island of Malta contains three lessons for today.

War Means Sacrifice

The late Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Lewin who fought in the battle as gunnery control officer has this to say in the introduction (my ellipsis and emphasis):

1982 brought the fortieth anniversary of Operation Pedestal. It brought also Operation Corporate, the campaign in the South Atlantic to recover the Falklands and South Georgia.

Both operations, although involving all three services and the Merchant Navy, were predominantly maritime in nature. Broadly, the same number of servicemen took part in both campaigns.

Corporate cost the Royal Navy two destroyers, two frigates, a landing ship and a large merchantman. Pedestal's cost was an aircraft carrier, two cruisers, a destroyer and nine merchant ships.

With Corporate, the action was spread over some fifty days while with Pedestal the fighting lasted five. Both operations were successful in achieving their objectives but at a price. Corporate cost 250 lives, Pedestal 350 (not the 600 I gave yesterday).

The first British loss (in the Falklands), HMS Sheffield, shocked the nation. Realization that war involves sacrifice grows dim in time of peace.

The Media Undermines

In a preface dated 2002, the author noted (my ellipsis):

...a constant clamour for instant results by television and radio presenters (and the MSM). In their impatience and intolerant ignorance, they frequently undermine those who fight evil for all our sakes.

Victory Must Be Complete

The author quotes Sir Francis Drake, an earlier Brit Admiral.

"It is not the beginning but the continuing of the the same until it be thoroughly finished that yielded the true glory".

Brit Blame Game

Parts of the Brit media, including our own Tim Worstall, are demanding the heads of London cops for the mistaken killing of de Menezes. A sister of one of the 7/7 victims puts them to shame.

The London Times has run front page stories attacking the police on Menezes for at least the past 10 days, ignoring the other 52 dead. Now it's accusing the cops of wiping CCTV coverage of the killing.

Staff say Stockwell Tube shooting was caught on camera
Dead man’s family accuse police over riddle of CCTV tapes which officers said were blank

Their story is unverifiable innuendo, and chasing that hare merely adds more load on the cops - who, in case you've forgotten, are trying to prevent the next slaughter.

Tim Worstall intones (my emphasis):

Something went wrong with the system. Someone, somewhere, must be held accountable for that. It doesn’t matter that "we are at war", whenever and wherever there is such an error there has to be someone to carry the can, for if there is not then there is no sense of responsibility in the system.

Here's a more balanced take by the sister of one of the murdered 52.

The sister of a victim of the London bombings yesterday demanded an end to the "crucifying" of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who is facing calls to resign after the shooting by police of Jean Charles de Menezes.

A Romanian immigrant, Mrs Gorodi condemned the hysterical nature of the criticism directed at Sir Ian Blair and asked why the victims of the atrocity appeared to have been forgotten.

She is waiting to receive some of her sister's body parts and said she had barely begun to grieve.

"I just think it is shocking," she said. "The whole nation has forgotten what happened a few weeks ago. Fifty-two people died in that bombing but they have been totally forgotten. Everybody is hysterical about finding someone to pay for that poor young man who died.

Mrs Gorodi had taken her sister to Mill Hill East Tube station on the day of the attacks, so she could get to her surgery in Knightsbridge, central London.

"People have lost sight of the bigger picture," she said. "We need to support the police right now, not crucify one man. This is unprecedented in British history. He [Sir Ian] is doing the best he can.

"I am sure the police are doing their best to correct their mistake. "But it was an accident. Nobody is asking us who do we want to pay for our loved ones. No one is asking us if we are angry, or do we want to see some kind of justice.

"But we are suffering too. We have just buried our dead. We have not even started to grieve. These were real atrocities. This is real and this is terrible."

Mrs Gorodi buried her sister 40 days after she was killed. She will have a second burial when she receives her remaining body parts. She identified her sister's remains but would not allow her mother to see her. "Imagine. Your sister coming back to you in pieces. Imagine, you take someone to the station and they return like that."

The manipulators of Mrs. de Menezes should hang their heads in shame, but being lefties, they won't.

The Times and Tim Worstall aren't lefties, but are showing one of the nastier sides of the modern Brit character - somebody must be blamed for every accident. (I think this attitude is a recent infection from the EU).

But accidents happen all the time, particularly when people have to make split-second life-or-death judgment calls when mentally and physically stressed. And they're nobody's fault!

Blaming people for every accident makes the world less safe, because rather then avoid future accidents (which they cannot), people move away from tasks that risk accidents. For example, in the business world of Customer Support, when management penalizes support engineers for customer problems, support quality plummets. Because the engineers learn that supporting customers is painful, and take the easiest avoidance which is to flee from customer support!

So, the Times and TW should grow up, support the families of all the 53 dead, and stop distracting the people fighting to keep us safe.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bereaved Parents

One of life's sad truths is that parents worry more about their kids than vice-versa. And that a minority of parents who's kids are killed behave irrationally, turning on the nearest available target. So we should understand the mad grief of Cindy Sheehan and the mother of Jean de Menezes, the Brazilian mistakenly shot by London cops. But keep a beady eye on the lefties using them to advance their own agendas.

I've just finished an excellent book on the Brit Navy's breaking of the WW2 German/Italian siege of the Island of Malta (of which more in a later post), in which over 600 sailors died. The parents of one of them became convinced that he was betrayed by the Brit Navy which they said had a left a crate labeled "Malta" on the dockside where the fleet loaded up in Scotland - thus giving the destination away to any spies that penetrated the dockyard.

It didn't matter to the parents that the vast Brit fleet had to fight its way along the entire Mediterranean under the eyes of their enemies, that its entry to the Med at Gibraltar was tracked by Nazi-sympathizing Spain, that the North African coast was occupied by the Nazi-collaborating Vichy French, which reported its every move.

The parents had political clout and ran a prolonged campaign, getting questions asked in the Houses of Parliament and forcing a Special Inquiry to be mounted (a big diversion in the middle of a desperate war for Britain's survival). From which nothing emerged.

I think this reflects a desire in some bereaved parents to get back at any target - they couldn't get back at the Spanish and French who betrayed their son, or the Germans and Italians who killed him. So they settled for the Royal Navy, which they could reach.

Interestingly the parents of the other 600 dead didn't react this way. Perhaps they had other children - so the loss was less; perhaps they didn't want to take resources away from their son's surviving comrades; perhaps they were proud that their sons had died to relieve the starving people of Malta and turn the tide against the Nazis.

Two current examples show this extreme reaction. Mrs Sheehan's son, Casey, volunteered to fight, and so she should be directing her rage at his terrorist killers. But she can't reach them, so the President is the next available target. But she's the only parent of the hundreds of bereaved who've taken this route.

The mother of Jean de Menezes should consider him as a victim of the suicide bombers who killed his fellow Londoners - if those attacks had not happened, her son would still be alive. But she can't get at them, so attacks the London police instead. Again, she's in a minority - none of the parents of the other 52 dead and the many maimed are attacking the cops for failing to protect them.

So, this sort of unfocused reaction to bereavement is rare, but it does happen, and I find it hard to condemn.

Of course the usual suspects are exploiting this grief, and Mrs Sheehan has been egged on by lefties of all sorts, including the MSM. Mrs de Menezes' lead lawyer built her career defending alleged terrorists, initially the IRA and more recently:

defending a number of terrorist suspects detained indefinitely in the UK as well as those who have just returned to the country from Guantanamo Bay.

(Incidentally, Americans bemused by the right-wing Brit MSM following the left on this case (notably the London Times) should appreciate the long & unique Brit cultural tradition of supporting the underdog).

So we should condemn the fellow travelers for exploiting parental grief for their own political ends. But we already know they are moral cripples, and if they weren't leveraging these folks they'd be doing something equally self-annihilating.

So that's my take. Pity the bereaved, cut them some slack, go after the fellow travelers.

Finally, Gandalf Junior and The Gandalfette should be aware that in the unlikely event of either them being topped, I will take out the folks that did the deed. Even though they forgot my birthday.