Wednesday 30 September 2009

"Barmy Britain" Is A Sinister Place

The Exile writes:

The Daily Telegraph calls it "Barmy Britain," but it is not a matter for laughter: it is all far too loathsome for that. What is happening is that the Nu-Labour regime has been frantically inventing offences and regulations under which people can either lose their jobs or be prosecuted in the courts. Thus a dinner lady who told parents that their children were being bullied has lost her job. Two policewomen who arranged to look after each others children have been threatened with prosecution because they have not registered themselves as childminders with Ofsted, yet another Orwellian state regulatory body. Finally, a civil servant who swore at a television report has just been fined over £800 for his outburst.

What all these cases have in common is only partly the ludicrous nature of the so-called offences. However, the main factor that they share is that they all relied on an informant who scurried around like a plague ridden sewer rat and then reported matters to the authorities. Nu-Labour has been pulling these tricks for some time. For instance the smoking ban is not enforced by the police, instead it relies on the informant making a call to a council official.

There is something very alien about all this, something that revolts an English mind that has been schooled in the Common Law tradition, as it conjures up images of Continental despotism. The aim seems to be to create fear in the minds of the British people as they will never know if the person that they are speaking to is a state informant or not. Thus people will censor themselves just to be on the safe side. This is the world of Franz Kafka, and one that really existed in East Germany and Pinochet's Chile.

Those regimes fell when enough people ceased to believe in them and lost their fear of the state machinery of repression. Sadly for us, next year's General Election will bring to power a Conservative Party that has shown no signs that it wants to change any of Nu-Labour's social control legislation.

American Healthcare: Distributist Solutions?

My old friend John C Médaille makes many, many excellent points.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Sooner Red Tory Than Red-Green

Beatrix Campbell should come clean and admit that she hates the Labour Movement because it prevented a Communist revolution here in one of the two countries that Marx himself thought most likely to have one.

No wonder that she is now a Green. All those coal mines and nuclear power stations providing the economic basis of patriarchal authority? We can't have that. The former pit villages are now so much better than the pit villages ever were. Aren't they?

Guess Who's Funding The Taliban?

Let Kelley Beaucar Vlahos amaze you, as she amazed me:

Forget opium poppies for a moment. The Taliban has another huge source of revenue, worth up to $1 billion a year, which generously supplements its heroin-trafficking income and the cash-flow from rich oil sheiks in the Persian Gulf.

This money comes from you.

The allegation that millions of dollars of U.S aid and military funds have been siphoned off by the Taliban through elaborate extortion rackets is not something government officials readily discuss. But the departing head of the Army Corps of Engineers recently conceded that there was little his agency could do to stop it, and the U.S. State Department launched an investigation after reports of the scandal finally penetrated the mainstream news.

The Pentagon did not respond to TAC’s inquiries about charges that local contractors who deliver supplies and equipment to remote NATO bases in Afghanistan are charging Western governments “protection money” to pay off the Taliban, or Taliban-connected middlemen, to protect convoys along dangerous overland supply routes. Yet a growing consensus supports a fearsome prospect: U.S. taxpayers are funding the enemy.

“If you don’t pay, you will get attacked, you will not get through,” says Peter Jouvenal, a British expat and former BBC journalist who has been living and working in Kabul for nearly 30 years. He has operated several businesses in Afghanistan, including a small trucking company. “Everybody wins in the short-term,” he tells TAC. “The Taliban get their money, and the contractors get their money, and the soldiers get their food and fuel supplies. The only one that loses out is the United States taxpayer, who has to foot the bill for all this. That would be acceptable if we were achieving something, but we’re not.”

In late August, McClatchy News reported that the Taliban now controls districts in two key northern provinces along the new major supply route coming in from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, running through the Hindu Kush mountains and toward the U.S. military’s massive Bagram Air Base.

Yet supplies are getting through. Reports suggest that contractors big and small are paying the price for secure delivery, then off-loading that cost to their clients—the military, USAID, or whatever Western aid organization is footing the bill. There is lots of money to be made. At the beginning of this year, Washington announced it would be spending upwards of $4 billion to construct new facilities and upgrade old ones in order to support the Af-Pak “surge. ” The strategy included three new combat brigades, as well as new facilities for Afghan soldiers, not to mention the accompanying army of private contractors supporting them.

And that’s only part of the story. The U.S. has already appropriated $38 billion since 2001 in humanitarian aid and reconstruction funding for its post-invasion nation-building exercises, and the Obama administration wants to increase spending. According to recent reports, much of this money has already disappeared into the pockets of Taliban racketeers, calling into question the success of Western investment over the past eight years. “Virtually every major project includes a healthy cut for insurgents. Call it protection money, call it extortion, or, as the Taliban prefer to term it, ‘the spoils of war,’ the fact remains that international donors, primarily the United States, are to a large extent financing their own enemy,” wrote Jean MacKenzie, Kabul correspondent for the GlobalPost, in August.

MacKenzie is one of the few reporters who have tried to run the numbers: the manager of an Afghan firm with “lucrative construction contracts with the U.S government” builds in a “minimum” charge of 20 percent for Taliban payouts, she writes. He tells his friends privately that he makes upwards of $1 million per month, $200,000 of which goes to Taliban heavies.

“It adds up, of course,” says MacKenzie, estimating that the “outside limit” of the Taliban’s extortion earnings comes to roughly $1 billion a year. Add to that other sources of corruption in Afghanistan—whether it is the police, the politicians, the elections, or abusive Western contractors—and the picture of the Af-Pak effort starts to look pretty bleak.

Even worse, it seems that insurgents might be ripping off some contractors, allowing them to proceed with their business, only to turn and use their ill-gotten gains to attack other allied convoys. In the Sept. 7 issue of Time magazine, Aryn Baker and Shah Mahmood Barakzai reported from Kabul that a week before a deadly Taliban blast in Kunduz killed four American soldiers, a local businessman, who had been subcontracted by a firm working for the German government, admitted to paying a cash bribe of $15,000 to a “Taliban middleman.” No one can prove that any of that money went toward assembling the makeshift bomb that killed the troops. “Nevertheless,” conclude Baker and Barakzai, “it is likely that a substantial amount of aid money from many countries—including the U.S.—has made its way, directly or indirectly, into the Taliban’s coffers.”

As the Obama administration struggles to come to terms with the looming reality that the Taliban might have the upper hand in this war, the last thing that government officials and members of Congress want to talk about is the idea that the enemy has his hand in the American purse. Requests for comment to key members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee went unanswered. Requests to House members who had just returned from Afghanistan were met with similar silence.

Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing David Cohen has admitted there is a problem, but will not talk about specifics or scope. In a statement consisting of just two lines, he said, “The Taliban obtains revenues from a variety of sources, including extortion of funds from both legitimate and unlawful activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He finished by saying that an interagency task force had been convened to combat “funding for violent extremist groups.”

Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, overcoming the American chain of command’s habitual preoccupation with opium poppies, has acknowledged that the Taliban does not just make money from the country’s $4 billion drug trade. “In the past there was a kind of a feeling that the money all came from drugs in Afghanistan,” he told reporters in Pakistan in June. “That is simply not true.”

“Rackets, extortion, kidnapping and bank heists are all helping the Pakistani Taliban pay the bills,” wrote Shahan Mufti for GlobalPost in August. In an April report about the NATO supply lines through Pakistan into Afghanistan, private intelligence provider Stratfor said:

The Taliban and their jihadist affiliates are ideologically driven to target Western forces and increase the cost for them to remain in the region. There are also a number of criminally motivated fighters who adopt the Taliban label as a convenient cover but who are far more interested in making a profit. Both groups can benefit from racketeering enterprises that allow them to extort hefty protection fees from private security firms in return for the contractors’ physical safety.

Holbrooke preferred to steer clear of that particular angle. Instead, he used the apparently candid moment to try to shift attention toward the shady international donors who send gifts to the Taliban through tenebrous charities and the like. It is true that foreign donations represent a thorny problem, though the issue is clearly not as embarrassing for the U.S. government as the thought of some Taliban middleman becoming $10,000 richer so that German International Security Alliance Forces could refill their watering holes.

Over the summer months, the Taliban has revealed, once more, what a cunning adversary it can be—busily skimming off cash from our altruism and manipulating the supply chain, either by bombing our convoys or shaking them down. Thus the destructive cycle evolves. Profiteers and insurgents thrive as long as the payoffs exceed the risks. We deploy more troops, who need more supplies, more fuel, more shelter, which in turn provide more targets for extortion and more revenue for the insurgency.

Jouvenal, a seasoned commentator on Afghanistan, calls it “business as usual.” “Afghans all know the West has failed,” he says. “This time, when the West packs up … the Taliban will come back and a lot of people will become refugees again. The thought is to make as much money as you can because you don’t know when you will be a refugee again.” The scramble to extort money, he explains, “increases, as time runs out.”

The Afghans seem able to grasp the reality of things. How long will it take us to get wise to this self-perpetuating disaster?

Guarding The Guardian

Is this the same Guardian that publishes Peter Tatchell's calls to lower the age of consent to 14, and thus to legalise almost all of the acts for which Tanya Gold berates the Church?

Certain people might consider applying some journalistic or scientific objectivity to the question of where in Africa the condom use relentlessly promoted by Western NGOs and compliant governments has ever arrested, never mind reversed, the rate of HIV infection. There is nowhere.

However, such a reversal is under way in Uganda, where the government's message is the same as the Catholic Church's: "Change Your Behaviour". Huge numbers of condoms have been distributed in Botswana, and the result has been for President Festus Mogae to declare, "Abstain or die".

Who, exactly, is incapable of fidelity within a monogamous marriage and abstinence outside such a marriage? Women? Black people? Poor people? Developing-world people? Or just poor black women in the developing world?

Universal Public Healthcare: Myriad Conservative Opportunities

This piece by me appears on Post-Right:

Once it comes, universal public healthcare will be very popular indeed. It always is. In every country where it has been introduced, that is what has happened. A conservative defeat? Only if you want it to be. Only if your let yourselves treat it as such.

That popularity will make it very difficult indeed to spend on pre-emptive wars, or on maintaining a global network of military bases, money that could have been spent on healthcare instead. Yes, you’ll still have the public healthcare. But you won’t have the pre-emptive wars or the global network of military bases. And at the end of the day, treating the sick really is better than waging such wars or maintaining such bases, if that is the choice on the table.

This rapidly much-loved service will not be able to work without some concept of how many people there are in America, nor without a national language that, even if they don’t necessarily speak it at home, everyone can nevertheless speak. Joe Wilson’s argument against coverage for illegal immigrants is not an argument against universal public healthcare. It is an argument against illegal immigration. Making it an argument against what is now his own party’s economic ideology, against his own Presidential candidate last year, against his own Senate candidate last year, in favor of that candidate’s sadly defeated opponent, and in favor of that opponent’s election to the House next year. In place of Joe Wilson.

Ah, I hear you cry, but you have universal public healthcare in Britain, and you still have these wars, and an immigration problem, and a language problem. Yes, we do. And no argument is stronger here than the arguments that I have just set out. Wars? “That money could have gone on the NHS” is the argument-stopping complaint the length and breadth of the land. Immigration? “The NHS can’t cope” has the same effect, and is increasingly used by the remaining handful of authentically working-class Labour MPs. They have, of course, been thinking it for years. Now, like their voters, they are saying it out loud. Not before time. So learn the lesson. Don’t wait. Be saying it from the start.

One could go on. Make the most of it. There’s going to be a lot of most to make.

Monday 28 September 2009

Obamacare: Why The Fuss?

This piece by me appears on Post-Right:

Why do the Republicans care quite so much about blocking Obamacare? I am not saying that healthcare doesn’t matter. Of course it does. But don’t jobs matter? Doesn’t a manufacturing base? Doesn’t controlling immigration? Doesn’t America as an English-speaking country? Doesn’t a strong defense capability used strictly for its proper defensive purpose? Doesn’t restricting or reducing abortion? Doesn’t marriage as only ever the union of one man and one woman? Come to that, doesn’t winning elections?

But the Republicans have sold out completely on trade, on immigration, on the status of English, and on foreign policy, even though there was plenty of room for working across the aisle on those issues. Just as there was on restricting or, especially, reducing abortion, on which they have done nothing. And just as there was on defending traditional marriage, on which they have done nothing much, leaving it to core Democratic black clergy to deliver the goods. So now they have to bet the farm on the only thing they have left, defeating a healthcare proposal that could have been drafted and agreed on a cross-party basis, and which is going to pass anyway, not least with the very strong support of those pro-life, pro-family black clergy. The Republicans are reduced to ranting about ridiculous “death panels”, about federal funding of abortion and repeal of the conscience clauses (like they themselves have ever done anything about abortion), and about coverage for illegal immigrants (whom they themselves actively encourage), none of which was ever going to happen.

The Republicans could have had trade controls, immigration restrictions, protections of English, foreign policy realism, abortion reduction measures, and defenses of traditional marriage, as the price of public healthcare. Democrats have to answer to their black and their blue-collar white voters, who would have demanded to know why healthcare was prevented at all, never mind for the sake of not doing what they see as these eminently sensible things. Facing their own electorates, Republicans could have asked why universal public healthcare, to which those voters would rapidly have grown more than used, was too high a price for these much more significant and fundamental victories. Victories for principles held broadly or strongly by numerous Democrats, including Obama. But not, these days, by the Republican Party. And that, alas, is the point.

The rural and Western half of the Republican Party supported the New Deal. Congressional Republicans cast the votes that passed Civil Rights. Their party historically and rightly viewed the wider world in strictly realistic terms, “not seeking for monsters to destroy”. Republicans had called on Europe to revert to pre-1914 borders and thus end the First World War, an outcome which would have precluded both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Theirs was the party of Eisenhower, with his ending of the Korean War, his even-handed approach to Israel and the Palestinians, and his denunciation of the military-industrial complex. Of Nixon, who began détente with China, and who with Ford ended the Vietnam War. Of Reagan’s initiation of nuclear arms reduction. Of opposition to Clinton’s unpatriotic job-exportation, unpatriotic sweatshop-importation, and unpatriotic global trigger-happiness, all continued and expanded by the unpatriotic Bush Administration. Yet still of Bush’s withdrawal of American troops from Saudi Arabia after 9/11, in consequence of which there has been no further attack on American soil.

But where is it now?

It is all very, very sad. And it is also a shameful abrogation of responsibility, since it makes the Republican Party so absurd that it effectively turns America into a one-party state.

Sex Is For Adults

Today's Telegraph piece, on which comments are welcome over there as well as here:

Peter Tatchell has popped up in the Guardian calling to lower the age of consent to 14. As much as anything else, that would have legalised almost all the acts that brought scandal on the Catholic Church. Has that occurred to him?

Of course, founded as it was out of centres of pederasty such as the Stonewall Inn, the politically homosexualist movement has always, by definition, had these agenda. How many teenage boys did you ever see on those marches to lower the age of consent? But how many middle-aged men?

Yet what of Stuart Reid, columnist for The Catholic Herald and The American Conservative, and lately deputy editor of The Spectator? In this week’s Catholic Herald column, even he seems to be feeling quite indulgent towards, at least, sex between women and teenage boys. As an Old Labour High Tory, I normally only disagree with Stuart about the EU, and even then only because he sees it as potentially a reborn Christendom, whereas I see it as anything but. However, I really do have to disagree with him about this, too.

To my mind, it should be made a criminal offence for any person to commit any sexual act with or upon on any other person under 18 who is more than three years younger than himself (or, of course, herself), or to incite any such person to commit any such act with or upon him or any third party anywhere in the world. The maximum sentence should be imprisonment for twice the number of years difference in age, or for life where that difference is more than five years or where the younger party is aged under 13.

That way, adolescent experimentation would not be dealt with by means of the criminal law. But the message would be clear: that at 32 I would have no business carrying on with a 17-year-old; and that sex is for people who can cope with the consequences, physical and otherwise. In a word, adults.

Brown Foxed?

There should not be televised debates between the Party Leaders in the run-up to the General Election. We shall be electing a Parliament, not a President. Sky News is trying to become Fox. It shouldn't. And the Prime Minister should not be egging it on.

Nor should he announce, as it looks as if he might, the introduction of recall elections. Gimmicky rubbish should be left to the Lib Dems and to David Cameron. We need primaries. We also need electoral reform. But primarily, we need primaries.

Arm Against "The Parental State"

"From birth till death it is now the privilege of the parental State to take major decisions - objective, unemotional, the State weighs up what is best for the child."

Helen Brook, letter to The Times, February 1980

In 1967, this weirdo handed out contraceptives to underage girls, behind the backs of their parents and their GPs. Most people were deeply shocked.

In 1995, the Tories gave her the CBE.

It is not yet clear whether this poor girl in Coventry was killed by the cervical cancer vaccine. But the wretched scheme itself - not the drug, but the scheme - is now back in the spotlight. We either have proper parents, accompanying their daughters to their family doctors in order to be vaccinated against cervical cancer. Or we have "The Parental State", vaccinating them at school without any parental involvement, when not also imposing ID cards, DNA databases, CCTV cameras, prolonged detention without charge, and all the rest.

But not, of course, actually running either schools or hospitals, nor railways, nor utilities. Yet they still have to fill up their time somehow. These are some of their ways of doing so. Another is the waging of pointless, unwinnable, and therefore endless wars.

Germany And The P-Word

So the Landesbank system is going to be sorted out? Good for you, Angie. Show the FDP from the start who’s boss. And the shrieking about “protectionism” has already started. Even better. When can we have some “protectionism” over here? When we start taking industrial and agricultural workers seriously, that’s when. So don’t hold your breath. We now have the deliberate importation, as much as of anything else, of a new working class which understands no English except commands, has no local allegiance here and can therefore be moved around at will, knows little or nothing about such workers’ rights as we still have, and can be deported if it steps out of line.

There cannot be a “free” market generally but not in drugs, prostitution or pornography. There cannot be unrestricted global movement of goods, services or capital but not of labour. American domination is no more acceptable that European federalism. The economic decadence of the 1980s is no more acceptable that the social decadence of the 1960s, which led through it to the warmongering and the constitutional vandalism of the New Labour years.

Those who looked to the union-busting criminality of pirate radio, which was funded by the same Oliver Smedley who went on to fund the proto-Thatcherite Institute of Economic Affairs, were enfranchised in time for the 1970 General Election, gave victory to what they thought were the Selsdon Tories, and went on to support first the economic and then the constitutional entrenchment of their dissolute moral and social attitudes by Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. If “there is no such thing as society”, then there can be no such thing as the society that is the family, or the society that is the nation.

A domestic manufacturing base, a largely domestic food supply, and ownership of our own industries and resources by our own citizens, are all integral to national sovereignty. Nothing has weakened the Union more than the dismantlement of the nationalised industries, which created communities of interest among the several parts of the United Kingdom, and many of which had the word “British” in their names. Quite possibly the most important of all the State’s duties is to guarantee the economic basis of paternal authority. Few things, if any, did this better than the digging of coal to power a country largely standing on it. The same can be said of nuclear power.

Requiring a union card is no different from requiring a British passport or a work permit. It is as wrong to silence the voice of the aristocratic social conscience by abolishing hereditary barons as to silence the voice of organised labour by abolishing trade union barons. One way or another, both of those voices must be heard again, just as the economic safeguards of national sovereignty, of the Union and of paternal authority must be restored.

As for Germany, she rules via the EU, and has better schools, policing, transport infrastructure, working conditions, and standards of behaviour than we have, as well as cleaner streets, a huge domestic manufacturing base, and ownership of her own industries. She is already out of recession. But never mind, eh? We won the War…

Iran: The Explicable Silence From China

The world’s oldest continuous civilisation understands implicitly the respect that is due to the world’s second-oldest continuous civilisation, not least when compared to a state set up within living memory on no authority except that of the ultimate globalist institution, created in surrender to (anti-British Marxist) terrorism, and built up by evicting people who had lived there for many centuries in favour of those shipped in from every corner of the earth.

Any attempted strike against Iran would be shot down by Obama’s boys in Iraq. There is no other reason why they are still there. And America owes Israel one from way back where "friendly fire" is concerned.

Little settler states created by oddballs with visions come and go regularly in human history. So do Arab princes with more money than taste, and such territories as they can lay their hands on from time to time. But Persia is for ever. Like China.

Restructuring Bankers' Pay

They are now in public ownership, or else (as they really always were) underwritten by the taxpayer. So they should be on public sector pay.


If they must continue to hold Party Conferences, then could they at least hire venues that were the right size? Garden sheds, for example. Or rabbit hutches.

Stalin As Bad As Hitler? Imagine!

Say it ain't so.

The Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party deserves British allies with deep roots in the former mining communities, in the women's suffrage movement, in the 1945 General Election victory, and elsewhere. We are unsullied by the weird cult of Winston Churchill. Instead, we can and do condemn his carve-up of Europe with Stalin, as surely as we condemn genocidal terrorism against Balts no less than simultaneous genocidal terrorism against Arabs, blowing up of British Jews going about their business as civil servants, and photographed hanging of teenage British conscripts with barbed wire.

The Czech Civic Democrats, scourge of global warming hysteria, deserve British allies like the trade unionists who have spent decades defending the high-waged, high-skilled, high-status jobs of the working class. Not for us the restriction of travel to the rich, or the arresting of economic development in the poorer parts of the world.

The Polish Law and Justice Party deserves British allies like the Catholic and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against abortion and easier divorce. Like the Methodist and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against deregulated drinking and gambling. Like those, including John Smith, who successfully organised (especially through USDAW) against Thatcher's and Major's attempts to destroy the special character of Sunday and of Christmas Day, delivering the only Commons defeat of Thatchers Premiership. Like the trade unionists who battled to secure paternal authority in families and communities by securing its economic base in high-waged, high-skilled, high-status male employment, frequently marching behind banners that depicted Biblical scenes and characters.

They all deserve British allies like the Labour MPs who mostly voted against Heath's Treaty of Rome. Who all voted against Thatcher's Single European Act. And who voted against Major's Maastricht Treaty in far greater numbers than the Tories, including, in Bryan Gould, the only resignation from either front bench in order to do so.

And they all need those British allies in order to call them away from neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy, both of which have in any case collapsed. Nothing could be more destructive of national self-government, or traditional family values, or the historical consciousness of a people. Cameron is completely signed up to both.


And, indeed, Nemo Me Impune Lacessit. For the proportion of the population of the Irish Republic that has served in the British Armed Forces, especially the Army, is far higher than the proportion in any part of the United Kingdom, and probably in England least of all. Likewise, militaria is part of mainstream culture in Scotland to an extent quite inconceivable in England. But then, Scotland is in fact part of the United Kingdom. Yet of the five footballing entities in these islands, the one of which the Queen is not the Head of State is the one where by some distance the largest proportion of the population has at some point sworn allegiance to her, even to the death if so called upon.

The Pernicious Delusion of Global Warming

Martin Meenagh writes:

The twenty years before 1999 brought forth many pathologies. One was a crazy worship of ideal market systems and their imposition on everyday life, regardless of people; others included neoconservatism, faith-based abusive atheism, uncontrolled tort and human rights law, the definition of men and women as sexual beings alone, and Pelagian approaches to criminals. Another was global warming.

These days, the lack of usefulness of these ideas is obvious to most people who do not take the media seriously. Unfortunately, those who do own, or who through the mechanism of credit think they own, the professions, the media, and the west, do take the media-political class seriously. That's because they staff it and live by it.

The graph shows the red (adjusted, massaged, or unreliable) line of the warmists' extrapolations about temperature in the past two millennia; the black what actually happened according to a fuller sample; the green a merged line, to take the variation into account.

We are spending billions, throwing away liberties, and empowering a form of low level, life-sapping tyranny that will turn houses into prisons (complete with slop buckets) and audit families for carbon on the basis of wholly invented rubbish unless we stop it.

Don't stop thinking. Don't turn off your critical rationality. Just don't treat grant dependent scientists as priests, or let the media-political class think for you. It is now fairly obvious that

(i) the past century has not been the hottest for some time
(ii) Global warming is not happening
(iii) No global warming model is anything other than partial and flawed
(iv) Carbon dioxide may be a reinforcing mechanism but does not cause global warming
(iv) The sun, the pacific decadal oscsillation, cloud cover and the solar wind are all better candidates for our temperature changes
(v) The world should manage the end of oil, the need to move to a sustainable industrial economy on the planet, and a transition to a fairer world, not chase rainbows and worship green nonsense.

We should all stop lying to each other about our grand capacities and impact and guilt. Self-confident, free men and women with a mind and a faith would not be pushed around by green rubbish any more than they would embrace progressive education, war as a policy tool, untrammelled markets, and the deep iniquity of the world economy and its mechanisms.

Then again, it's Monday morning and it may be that you would prefer to snooze. Dream on, readers. Sometimes they come true....

Switzerland: Liberty, Not Libya

Helena Bachman writes:

In his rambling diatribe to the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday, Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi criticized the world body for being unfair to small nations. This comment struck a chord with the Swiss, since Gaddafi has been on a self-proclaimed mission to destroy their little country.

A few weeks ago, Gaddafi submitted a proposal to the U.N. to abolish Switzerland and divide it up along linguistic lines, giving parts of the country to Germany, France and Italy. Although the motion was thrown out because it violates the U.N. Charter stating that no member country can threaten the existence of another, some Swiss leaders are still concerned that Libya could use its year-long presidency of the U.N. General Assembly, which began on Sept. 15, to keep up his vitriolic attacks on their country.

Gaddafi's animosity toward Switzerland may seem bizarre — or maybe not, given the Libyan leader's all-female bodyguard squad and penchant for pitching Bedouin tents during state visits to other countries. Relations between Libya and Switzerland soured in July 2008 when Gaddafi's son Hannibal and his wife were arrested by police in Geneva for allegedly beating their two servants at a local hotel. Gaddafi was so enraged by his son's two-day detention, he immediately retaliated by shutting down local subsidiaries of Swiss companies Nestlé and ABB in Libya, arresting two Swiss businessmen for supposed visa irregularities, canceling most commercial flights between the two countries and withdrawing about $5 billion from his Swiss bank accounts.

Then came Gaddafi's suggestion that Switzerland be carved up like a wheel of Swiss cheese. During the G-8 summit in Italy in July, Gaddafi said Switzerland "is a world mafia and not a state," adding that the Italian-speaking part of the country should be returned to Italy, the German-speaking part given to Germany and the French-speaking part ceded to France. In an attempt to defuse the tensions between the countries, as well as to win the release of the two Swiss nationals being held in Libya, Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz traveled to Tripoli in August to apologize for Hannibal's arrest. The move was highly criticized in Switzerland, with repeated calls for his resignation.

The reaction among the Swiss public to Gaddafi's idea of splitting up the country has been a mix of outrage and incredulity. "Even though Gaddafi is a leader of a country and the current head of the African Union, he loses credibility when he comes up with outrageous comments like that," says Daniel Warner, a political scientist at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Others see irony in Gaddafi's comments. "It's a paradox that Gaddafi wants to dismantle Switzerland because, as he claims, it is not a homogenous country, while Libya is divided by a desert into two regions that hate each other," says Baptiste Hurni, a Socialist parliamentarian who blogs about Libya.

Despite the fact Gaddafi is still holding two Swiss nationals, many Swiss have found much to laugh about in his statements. The newspapers abound with tongue-in-cheek comments from readers not only questioning Gaddafi's sanity but also wondering how Switzerland would be divided up if the Libyan leader's motion were to be taken seriously. "Who is going to get the Matterthorn?" one reader asks in the Lausanne daily Le Matin. "Linguistically it belongs to Germany but geographically it borders Italy." Another reader in Le Matin said he is "scandalized that Austria is not getting its fair share," while a Geneva resident wrote that he doesn't want his region to be annexed to France and asked about the possibility of linking it to French-speaking Quebec instead.

Most everyone agrees on one point: Libya should not be casting stones. "Is the U.N. going to listen to a longstanding democracy or to a longstanding dictatorship?" 19-year-old Eduard Hediger said in a recent Le Matin podcast. If Gaddafi's long-winded speech to the General Assembly is any indication, the U.N. may not have much of a choice in the matter.

There are three existing true, non-Eurofederalist unions of Latin and Teutonic peoples, each with a social democracy as an expression of Christian principles. In one, that union, that social democracy and of those principles are safeguarded by the Crown. In another, by another monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. And the third is Switzerland, one of the last genuinely distinctive and self-governing countries on earth, and at last showing signs of sorting out its rogue statehood with regard to assisted suicide.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Man of Straw?

Oh, I don't know. I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of him. And I mean that as very high praise indeed.

Rumours of Michael Gove and Sarah Teather against Griffin are presumably satirical. But there is still that fifth seat to fill...

One-Party Britain, Part 94

Like Andrew Adonis and the vile James Purnell, that unrepentant old stalwart of the Young Communist League, Peter Mandelson, has obviously been offered a Cabinet job under Cameron, and has obviously accepted it. Adonis can keep his present one and be in that position. Purnell’s departure was not for that reason, and came many months after the situation had become perfectly plain. Indeed, Adonis was promoted to Cabinet long after his deal with Cameron had been made public to minimal comment, so unremarkable has such a thing now become.

The Cameroons’ favourite think tank, other than that forgers’ den owned by the Blairite-praising Michael Gove, was one of several continuity operations created out of the rubble of the Communist Party of Great Britain. However, it appointed an unrepentant old Trotskyist from back in the day, Geoff Mulgan, as its Director. Since it combined the Stalinist and Trotskyist heritages, and since it did so at the heart of faaaashionable London’s pseudo-academia, its influence over New Labour was massive, almost incalculable.

And now, its influence over the New Tories, who have in George Osborne a Number Two and Heir Apparent without one per cent of the independent brain power of Gordon Brown, is set to be at least as great. Mulgan, meanwhile, is on for a peerage and Ministerial office under Cameron. Without repudiating even the tiniest detail of his past. Well, of course not.

Babysitting Nationalised

Because the things that should be, aren't.

Following Canada Out Of Afghanistan

Peter Hitchens on a fascinating and closely related country about which most Britons know staggeringly little, as it prepares to do the right thing and get out of this pointless, wicked, lost war.

The American treatment of Canada after 9/11 was shocking. But Canadian union leaders have more lately backed Buy American and called for the adoption of Buy Canadian. And now, the muted American reaction to the impending withdrawal from Afghanistan offers a faint glimmer of hope that Obama may at last be on the verge of seeing sense.

Christian Democrats No More?

Don't trust the FDP on Afghanistan. They are a party of both economic and social liberalism. People like that always believe in spreading it at the barrel of a gun. Sometimes they are open about this, sometimes they are not. But press any of them hard enough and you will get it out of them eventually.

Their position is also very militantly secular, as the FDP is entirely explicitly, coming as it does out of a specific German tradition of strident irreligion. So don't trust, either, its apparent attitude when it backed the Pro Reli cause in Berlin. I think that the Pro Reli campaign was ill-conceived, since the alternative to Reli was not Ethik, which was already compulsory, but rather the sports field or the ice cream parlour. What could have been better than having Reli students in Ethik classes, and indeed vice versa? What could have been worse than making those already in that position choose between the two and thus necessarily let one of them go? But even so.

Merkel or no Merkel, the CDU still backed Pro Reli, mindful of its own name and heritage, and doubtless moved by the fact that global events have rather overtaken the decidedly anti-Christian and anti-democratic forces of capitalism and warmongering. The more Reli to inoculate people against those two, the better.

What is more, Pro Reli was also backed by Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Anyone from the SPD who backs something like Pro Reli really does believe in it. He really is in the same tradition as those Labour Council Chairmen in places like here to whom it would simply never occur to cancel the Christmas carol service, whatever might go on in a handful of London Boroughs to whose eccentric Labour Parties the Berlin SPD corresponds.

A contest between two at least nominally Pro Reli candidates, but one of whom was like that while the other was Angela Merkel, was really no contest at all. It looks as if the good guy has lost. Which is bad. But which will be made even worse when his party's replacement in coalition is the FDP.

And in that event, how much longer could the CSU associate with what still purported to be the CDU? Every cloud...

Iran: Punished For Keeping The Rules

Jason Ditz writes:

Western leaders reacted with a combination of indignation and outrage today when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that Iran had informed them it was in the process of constructing a second uranium enrichment facility.

Several officials used the revelation as a call to action against the Iranian government, just days before six-party talks with the nation about its civilian nuclear program. But despite a flurry of claims that the West had uncovered the “secret” facility it seems unclear that Iran actually did anything wrong.

The IAEA only actually requires that it be informed six months before an enrichment facility comes online, and the new site is at least that far from completion. Nuclear material has not been added, and the IAEA says that the data they’ve been given suggests that as with the existing Nanatz facility, the new site is only designed to enrich uranium to 5%, useful for energy production at the nation’s Bushehr power plant but not for military purposes.

Western leaders are now demanding that UN inspectors be given access to the new site. Such a demand would be seemingly reasonable, if Iran hadn’t already promised to do so days ago to the IAEA and publicly said hours before the “demands” that they have every intention of doing so.

If anything the revelation coming from Iran is inopportune for the US in pressing sanctions on the nation, as they had reportedly known about the construction for “a few years” and were planning to use the revelation to spur their call for “crippling” sactions when they discovered that Iran had already told the IAEA, as required.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Salmond, Scotland's Mussolini?

Tom Gallagher's article is a bit long to reprint in full, but it contains plenty of gems, on two of which I'd like to expand just a bit.

Nothing has done more to weaken the Union than the dismantlement of the nationalised industries, which created and sustained communities of interest among the several parts of the United Kingdom, and which often had the word “British” in their names.

And lowering the voting age, as the SNP now wants to do in order to pack the electoral register with the hormonal and susceptible, brought to power in 1970 the party that those voting for it thought was the proto-Thatcherite Selsdon Tories. A decade earlier, to take advantage of the higher birth rate among Afrikaners than among English-speaking white South Africans, the same device had been used to help swing the referendum on cutting ties to the Commonwealth and to the tradition in which the Crown guarantees the liberties of all the monarch’s subjects. Think on.

Not least, consider that no one seriously believes that the opinion of a 16-year-old is equal to that of his Head Teacher, or his doctor, or his mother. So why, it would be asked unanswerably, should each of them have precisely one vote? Thus would universal suffrage begin to be lost.

Donald Rumsfeld's Zoo

David Corn describes the menagerie over which Rumsfeld presided:

This seems to be the season for books from political insiders. Taylor Branch's The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With the President is loaded with intriguing info on the Clinton years, courtesy of Bill Clinton himself. Ted Kennedy's True Compass offers posthumous reflections on life as a Kennedy brother. And Matt Latimer, a former White House speechwriter for George W. Bush, has written a memoir entitled Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor, which garnered early bloggable attention for disclosing that Bush was not so kind when it came to talking about Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But it was the section on Donald Rumsfeld in Latimer's book that I've found especially intriguing.

Before becoming a word-slinger for the president, Latimer crafted speeches at the Pentagon for Rumsfeld from 2004 through 2006. Though he depicts Rumsfeld in glowing terms -- Latimer recalls he cried when the defense secretary resigned after the GOP lost the 2006 congressional elections -- he portrays Rummy's Pentagon as a dysfunctional world run by toadying sycophants and bureaucratic bunglers. In his account, the top echelons of the Defense Department under Rumsfeld were a Catch-22ish circus of the absurd.

Some of the high jinks:

* During his job interview, Latimer asked Rumsfeld why he had decided to use the term "old Europe" to describe France and Germany, countries that were not riding merrily along with the Bush-Cheney administration on Iraq. This phrase had been widely seen as an insult and had caused an uproar. "Actually," Rumsfeld replied, "it was an accident." He had meant to refer to critics of the Iraq war as being part of "old NATO" -- to distinguish them from the new NATO members of Eastern Europe (who were, let's be fair, more eager to kowtow to U.S. aims). But Rumsfeld was proud of this slip, telling Latimer, "It turns out it was the smartest thing I ever did."

* In Latimer's account, Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy and one of the leading advocates of the Iraq war, was kind of a weirdo. At one point, he whistled Latimer into his office and asked him if he would write speeches for him. Feith was upset with his own speechwriter. In particular, he was incensed with the opening line of congressional testimony his writer had drafted for him. The offending sentence: "Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me to testify today." There was nothing wrong with the line, Latimer notes in the book, leaving the impression that there was something wrong with Feith.

* Stephen Cambone, Latimer writes, had to be promoted out of his job as Rumsfeld's special assistant because he was detached, disdainful and non-communicative -- that is, he did not have the people skills to be a bridge between Rumsfeld's office "and the rest of the building." Yet instead of booting him out of the Pentagon, Rumsfeld named him to one of the department's most important positions: undersecretary of intelligence. Why did Cambone thrive in Rummyland? Cambone, Latimer notes, mastered the technique of repeating whatever Rumsfeld had said "back to him as if it were Cambone's idea."

* Jim O'Beirne, the White House liaison at the Pentagon, was a political hack, in Latimer's telling. When Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, reported that O'Beirne had hired unqualified people for key positions in Iraq based on loyalty to the Republican Party, O'Beirne demanded that the Defense Department come to his rescue. "But," Latimer writes, "nearly everybody could cite examples of O'Beirne's office pushing unqualified candidates, or blocking the hiring of candidates they didn't like." He wasn't defended -- but he stayed in the job. According to Latimer, O'Beirne and his deputy spent two years blocking him from hiring a woman to be an editor for the speechwriting office. Why? "I have strong reason to suspect," he explains, that it was due to "her sexual orientation." He adds, O'Beirne's "ideal candidates for Pentagon jobs . . . tended to possess one or more of the following characteristics: they were just out of college (usually an evangelical one), they had no relevant work experience, or they had been home-schooled. It made no sense."

* At one point, Latimer and his fellow speechwriters were ordered to write a report on the Abu Ghraib controversy -- what had happened and what the Pentagon was doing about it. "We were also asked," he recalls, "to put in an appendix that absolved three people being criticized in the press as architects of the detainee issue: DoD general counsel Jim Haynes, Steve Cambone, and Doug Feith. I think the exoneration idea came from Haynes, Cambone, and Feith. It was a long, convoluted digression that basically said that no one was responsible for any of the abuses that took place. And even if someone was responsible, it wasn't them." This "detainee book" was never released to the public.

* Pentagon public affairs chief Larry Di Rita, Latimer relates, wielded "near-absolute power" and "built a bubble around Rumsfeld that was not easily pierced." And a lot of Pentagon officials gave up trying to tell Rumsfeld information Di Rita didn't want Rumsfeld to know: "They resented Larry, but they saw the obvious affection Rumsfeld had for him. So they gave up. It's impossible to know how much damage that caused the secretary or how much information he was never allowed to hear."

* Latimer depicts Di Rita's top assistant, Eric Ruff, as bumbler with ADD. Usually when a problem came up, Ruff would suggest that the speechwriters draft an op-ed that would present the department's side. But days would go by, while Ruff edited the drafts -- until the crisis had passed: "With that strategy, we never effectively rebutted an attack on Rumsfeld or the Pentagon." One time, according to Latimer, Ruff had the brilliant idea that Rumsfeld, during a press briefing, should declare that "we found WMD in Iraq" and keep on talking as if he had said nothing momentous. If subsequently asked to explain, Rumsfeld would note that American forces had uncovered traces of chemical weapons in Iraq. When Latimer pointed out to Ruff that these traces were generally assumed to be from old armaments, Ruff replied, "We don't know that for sure."

Latimer offers other examples of Pentagon inanities. (Don't get him started on the Defense Department press office.) Still, he raves about the wonders of Donald Rumsfeld -- without ever holding the man responsible for assembling a McHale's Navy crew of officials who created an environment in which the free flow of information was squelched and unqualified party loyalists were handed critical positions. After all, who hired all these ninnies Latimer denigrates? Latimer wants the reader to be impressed by Rumsfeld, but his book is a guilt-by-association indictment of his hero. Rumsfeld is now writing his own memoirs. (A friend of his tells me that Rumsfeld has insisted on writing the book in chronological fashion, starting with his childhood and painstakingly covering the whole expanse of his life, while his publisher has been pushing him to focus on his combative tenure at the Pentagon during the W. years.) Latimer's book is hardly helpful source material for him.

Gaddafi Is Right

As Peter Hitchens, with whom we Old Labour High Tories don't really disagree about very much at all (and who certainly thinks that we should once again be a major parliamentary force), explains:

Colonel Gaddafi’s comical rage at the United Nations ought to remind us that the UN is obliged to take unhinged despots of this kind seriously, and provides them with a surprising amount of power and influence. This is one of many reasons why the UN should be swiftly wound up.

Then again, we might recall how the fatuous supporters of the Iraq War (some still exist, amazingly) claimed that his decision to abandon his completely non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction showed that toppling Saddam had put the fear of Uncle Sam into the hearts of all Islamic tyrants.

The same people now rave in a lunatic way about attacking Iran and Pakistan, countries which actually learned the opposite lesson – that Washington will leave you alone only if you have the Bomb.

Then there’s the ridiculous claim America is somehow angry with us for letting Abdelbaset Al Megrahi (who plainly had nothing to do with the Lockerbie outrage) out of jail. This is supposed to be behind Barack Obama’s unwillingness to meet Gordon Brown for more than five minutes.

If this were true, it would be monstrous. Those who are desperate to blame every bad thing in the world on Gordon Brown seem to have let political partisanship cancel out patriotism. How dare Mr Obama snub us over the release of one innocent man – when more than 200 of our soldiers have died fighting America’s war in Afghanistan?

Actually, that’s the real problem.

Mr Obama snubbed Britain, not Mr Brown. To him, we are an unimportant European country which has nothing to offer him. He’s probably forgotten we even have troops in Afghanistan – another reason we should pull them out.

Is The Pope A Capitalist?

No, as Stuart Reid, with whom we Old Labour High Tories only really disagree about the EU (he sees it as Christendom reborn, we as anything but), explains:

Hilaire Belloc said, “Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe.” As far as Catholics such as George Weigel and his neocon pals are concerned, however, that is so Old Europe. To them it makes much more sense to say, “America is the Faith and the Faith is America.”

From the Faith of America comes the Weigelian Church, which preaches liberal capitalism, pre-emptive war, the Little Way of Sarah Palin, global democratic revolution, and faith and works. Walker Percy saw this Church coming in Love in the Ruins. He called it the American Catholic Church. One of its major feast days was Property Rights Sunday, during which the ACC would display a blue banner showing Christ holding the American home (with white picket fence) in His hands.

The ACC would probably not have liked the pope’s new social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate—Love in Truth—any more than Weigel does. Caritas runs to 30,000 words and is a summary of Catholic teaching on such matters as economics, trade, and employment. It is, in other words—at least as far as the media is concerned—a politically charged document. And since Weigel is one of America’s most politically charged Catholic thinkers—known, especially, for his strong support of George W. Bush—his views on the encyclical had been eagerly awaited.

In some quarters, George Weigel is seen as a guardian of orthodoxy, a hammer of the dissenting liberals who question papal teaching on such matters as contraception, abortion, and marriage—the “cafeteria Catholics” who pick what they like from the Catholic menu and turn their noses up at the rest.

Now suddenly, in his reaction to Caritas at National Review Online, Weigel has himself become a dissenting Catholic. He was not pleased that, for example, the encyclical says more about wealth redistribution than wealth creation and spoke of its “clotted and muddled” language and “confused sentimentality.” Caritas was disjointed, he declared, the work of so many hands that “the net result is, with respect, an encyclical that resembles a duck-billed platypus.”

With respect? Quack, quack. What irked Weigel especially, I suspect, is that Caritas in Veritate lavishes great praise on the Pope Paul VI’s 1967 social encyclical Populorum Progressio, which was denounced as “souped-up Marxism” by the Wall Street Journal. For some right-wing Catholics that verdict became de fide, along with National Review’s gag—“Mater, Si, Magistra, No”—on the publication of John XXIII’s equally progressive social encyclical Mater et Magistra in 1961.

But conservatives in the 1960s should really not have troubled their shaggy little heads with the Church’s apparent “lurch to the left.” The fact is that capitalist ideology—as it has emerged in modern times—has never been embraced by the Church, and it should come as no surprise that it is not now being embraced by Benedict. The historian Eamon Duffy summed up Catholic social teaching nicely when he wrote of Pope Pius XI (no lefty he), “he loathed the greed of capitalist society, ‘the unquenchable thirst for temporal possessions,’ and thought that liberal capitalism shared with communism ‘satanic optimism’ about human progress.”

It is possible that the great foe of communism Whitaker Chambers would have agreed with Pius. On Christmas Eve 1958, in a letter to his friend William F. Buckley Jr., he wrote, “capitalism is not, and by its essential nature cannot conceivably be, conservative. This is particularly true of capitalism in the United States, which knew no Middle Ages; which was born, in so far as it was ideological, in the Enlightenment.”

“Conservatism,” he added, “is alien to the very nature of capitalism whose love of life and growth is perpetual change … conservatism and capitalism are mutually exclusive manifestations, and antipathetic at root.”

One of the things to remember about the Catholic Church, perhaps, is that it is Christian and therefore not inclined to look with great favor on Mammon. It seeks a way of pursuing the good life, even the prosperous life, that does not involve denial of God or—a key point in Benedict’s encyclical—the abandonment of life at any stage of its development. Not easy, of course, but, though Weigel contemptuously dismisses the idea, there is a Catholic third way between capitalism and socialism, not the one seen by Benedict’s co-religionist Tony Blair—that took us into Iraq and fed us to marketing men, with their spread sheets, Polish nannies, and suits without ties—but by such people as G.K. Chesterton, the Southern Agrarians, and Konrad Adenaeur, whose political principles were based on Catholic social teaching and who led West Germany into her Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle).

Maybe this third way will never play in Peoria or in Stratford-upon-Avon. Still, it pleases me that Caritas in Veritate will have answered at least one important question: Is the pope capitalist? He is not. Neither is he socialist, of course, far less a liberal. What is he, then? The pope is Catholic.

Friday 25 September 2009

That Second Iranian Reactor

They'll be nuking our towns and cities any night now.

Honestly, if you believe that there is an Iranian nuclear weapons programme at all, then you must also still be looking for WMD in Iraq.

Speaking of Iraq, there are still American forces there. To protect Iran from Israel. You might argue that that is Iran's concern, not America's. But under the circumstances, good luck to them.

Irving Kristol is dead. Deal with it.

Michael Heseltine Talking Sense

Well, it had to happen eventually, even if only the once.

He may be the European Commission's point man in Britain, so that he has privatised more of the British economy than any other Minister ever, and so that no one except Brown has become Prime Minister in the last 20 years without his endorsement, a fact not unconnected to the torrent of abuse against Brown.

But at least he had the sense to tell last night's Question Time audience that no one in America had any concept of a special relationship with Britain. That the whole thing was "a naïve delusion" on the part of people over here. And that America's only special relationship, if any, was with Israel. If any, indeed...

If Not Andrew Neil, Then Who?

He has turned down Celebrity Big Brother. Whom would we like to see on it instead, and why?

Three Is The Magic Number

How and where do I apply to be the new Chairman of ITV?

ITV has no divine right to that 3 button on every remote control in the land. Just how many people watch television on the Internet compared to the number of people who watch television on the television? Just which digital channel has anything remotely approaching ITV’s viewing figures? And has no one noticed how massively dependent on terrestrial television is digital television for its content? Yet this immensely privileged commercial network expects public money to provide such basics as regional news, and children's programmes.

It is very high time to re-regionalise ITV under a combination of municipal and mutual ownership, and to apply that same model (but with central government replacing local government, subject to very strict parliamentary scrutiny) to Channel Four.

I say again, there is no divine right to that 3 button. Nor, come to that, to the 4 button.

So, how and where do I apply?

Lower Remove

Poor Michael Gove. A government steeped in the public sector and its unions hasn't managed any of this (thank heavens, but that is not the present point), so Gove and the other dilettantes haven't a hope in hell.

This Day and Age

As if on cue from yesterday's characteristically ridiculous intervention by one of this blog's most devoted irritants, here is Peter Tatchell with his standard call to legalise almost all acts such as brought scandal on the Catholic Church rather more recently than it now seems. Of course, founded as it was out of centres of pederasty such as the Stone Wall Inn, the politically homosexualist movement has always, by definition, had these agenda.

Instead, it should be made a criminal offence for any person to commit any sexual act with or upon on any other person under 18 who is more than three years younger than himself (or, of course, herself), or to incite any such person to commit any such act with or upon him or any third party anywhere in the world. The maximum sentence should be imprisonment for twice the number of years difference in age, or for life where that difference is more than five years or where the younger party is aged under 12.

Tatchell and his organisation are among many with a standing public challenge to put up candidates against me at next year's General Election. The BNP has risen to the bait. Will the advocates of legal sex at 14 dare to put their position before the electorate here? If not, why not?

Pro-life Black Evangelicals Endorse Obamacare

Peter Wallsten writes:

For weeks, President Obama has tried to combat claims that his healthcare overhaul would mean tax dollars going toward abortions, calling the assertion a "myth."

Today, his argument may gain some strength: A group of black church leaders who oppose abortion is set to endorse the president's health plan.

The clergy -- led by Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., a Los Angeles minister who heads the massive Church of God in Christ -- are scheduled to announce their support for the legislation at a news conference this morning. And they will offer a full embrace of the government-run insurance option that white evangelical leaders and many Republicans have said opens the door to taxpayer-funded abortions.

Legislation proposed by House Democrats would require public healthcare money to be segregated into separate accounts so that only private funds could be used for abortions. Conservatives call that an "accounting scheme."

The black leaders are expected to use careful language -- echoing Obama's abortion funding pledge while cautioning the White House against breaking its promise.

"In accord with our commitment to Christian teaching, we wholeheartedly affirm the president's position that medical costs related to the abortion of fetuses shall not be covered by healthcare plans funded by this initiative," Blake will say today, according to an advance copy of his remarks.

A leading abortion opponent who has fought against Obama's healthcare plan suggested Wednesday that the black ministers might not wind up in the White House's camp. Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, said the clergy instead should be pressing for legislative amendments that ensure no government money goes toward abortions.

"From what the pastors are saying, it sounds like what they want to do is what we want to do -- which is to ensure that these new plans not cover elective abortions," Johnson said.

The predominantly African American Church of God in Christ is one of the world's largest Pentecostal denominations, with an estimated 6 million members. Its leadership, including Blake, has been heavily courted over the years by Republicans including former President George W. Bush, who viewed them as potential conservative allies because of their views on abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research.

So they are. But the coalition around all three of the economic, the moral and social, and the foreign policy concerns of black Evangelicals and of (mostly Evangelical or Catholic) blue-collar whites, the two categories who send off their sons to be harvested in pointless wars, will not be either created or exploited by the Republican Party, because it no longer can be. Many white Evangelicals still need to be weaned off the strange theory of Christian Zionism. But many do not. And the black-Catholic alliance could start now. There are signs that it already has.

The Fallacy of "Free" Trade

Craig Harrington writes:

President Obama's decision earlier this month to place a 35 percent tariff on imports of Chinese tires has caught a great deal of criticism from corporate media. President Obama's decision came roughly three weeks before the scheduled G-20 summit in Pittsburgh September 24-25. It is expected to be a major point of emphasis between Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao whenever they meet this week., a trade policy group which advocates for domestic job creation and balanced international commerce, detailed some of the criticism leveled against the administration. However, the media can do much more to point out the positives of this portion of Obama's trade policy.

The magazine Economist wrote a scathing piece declaring that the decision to place a tariff on tire imports was "bad politics, bad economics, bad diplomacy and hurts America". The column guarantees that this move will draw retribution from China and other trading partners as they react to the "protectionist" attack by the United States. Economist is certain that this decision will impede U.S.-China cooperation on environmental policy, North Korea, federal budget financing, and other mutual interests. In their view, this was nothing more than an act of "economic vandalism".

The New York Times also ran a piece attacking the decision, declaring that President Obama was merely pandering the interests of the United Steelworkers union (USW). In effect, the President was thanking the USW for their support in getting him elected. He had forsaken sound economic policy in order to repay a debt to the unions.

Acclaimed Washington Post columnist George Will, writing for The Houston Chronicle, also blasted the "protectionist" strategy which in his view can only harm the United States.

Will blames American consumers for preferring Chinese products, The New York Times blames unions for driving "protectionism" and closing the U.S. market to perfect competition. Every proponent of "free trade" in the United States agrees that this is a step in the wrong direction, but they completely overlook the fact that America cannot compete in international trade without some sort of oversight and restriction.

George Will points out that nobody forced Americans to choose Chinese tires over American ones, but he ignores the reason why Americans choose Chinese goods. The Chinese subsidize their exports so as to guarantee their products are artificially under-priced. Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers union has leveled many complaints against foreign producers and called for import tariffs in many cases. But he only does so in cases where American workers are threatened.

Getting cheap tires from overseas does not help the United States nearly as much as having a thriving domestic tire industry. Wealth-producing jobs are more important than cheap consumption, but the free trade lobby wants to increase commercial volume at all costs. The animosity against President Obama ignores the facts.

The United States relies on consumption for 70 percent of its economy, and nearly two-thirds of that consumption is imported. The free trade lobby believes that economic growth is driven by consumption, but every economy in the world which is actually growing is doing so through production and exports.

Thursday 24 September 2009

The Pope's Theme When He Visits Britain

Today's Telegraph piece, on which comments are welcome over there as well as here:

When Pope Benedict XVI comes to Britain next year, then I hope that he will have plenty to say about social justice, a term which the Church invented. Plenty to say about peace. And plenty to say about sex.

He will, after all, be visiting a country where condoms are practically thrown at children. Yet sexually transmitted infections are at epidemic levels among teenagers and twentysomethings. One woman in three will have an abortion at some point in her fertile life. No one really knows how many underage pregnancies there are, because abortions on underage girls are frequently recorded as other things, if at all, in order to distort the figures. Hardcore pornography is everywhere. Lap-dancing clubs, unknown here (except perhaps in Soho, I don’t know) even only ten years ago, are now all over the place.

Everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone, should read my friend Ann Farmer’s Prophets and Priests: The Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (Saint Austin Press, 2002). In addition to its unyielding racism, the war against fertility is, and has always been, the war against the working class, the war against the poor at home and abroad, the war against the electoral base of the Left, the war against the social provisions for which the Left exists, and, above all, the war against women.

The idea of fertility as a medicable condition, requiring powerful drugs or even surgical interventions to prevent a woman’s body from doing exactly what it does naturally, is basically and ultimately the idea that femaleness itself is such a condition, a sort of XX Syndrome. I can think of nothing that is actually more misogynistic than that, although some things are equally so, notably the view that the preborn child is simultaneously insentient and a part of the woman’s body. Is it the whole of a woman’s body that is insentient, or only the parts most directly connected with reproduction?

No one did more work than the then Cardinal Ratzinger on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which magnificently presents the inseparability of the sanctity of life, sexual morality, social justice, and the pursuit of peace. When he comes here as Pope, let that be his theme.

Happy South African Heritage Day

But how much happier a day it would be, were it not for the events described by Andrew Cusack:

“For every monarchy overthrown, the sky becomes less brilliant, because it loses a star,” wrote Anatole France. “A republic is ugliness set free.” South Africa’s history betrays a long struggle between monarchy and republic, most typified in the horrendous Boer War between the British Empire and the two Afrikaner republics. Many of the Boers were shocked and surprised by the leniency of the British following their surrender to the forces of the Empire, given the brutality inflicted upon the Afrikaner people by the British during the war. Their old republics became colonies but were granted the right to rule themselves within just a few years of that bitter conflict’s end. In 1910, all four British colonies — the Cape, Natal, the Orange River Colony, and the Transvaal — were consolidated in the Union of South Africa, a self-governing dominion which became an independent kingdom after the Statue of Westminster was passed in 1931.

Yet Britain’s munificence towards the defeated people could not assuage the cold-hearted bitterness formed by their cruelty during the Boer War. The term “concentration camp” first arrived in the English language in South Africa, but it was the speakers of Dutch and Afrikaans who were interned in the camps and left without rudimentary medicine or food. The photos of the interned tell the tale better than any words. When the National Party won an outright majority of seats in the South African parliament in 1948, the republican-oriented party began a gradual process of loosening the country’s ties with Great Britain. Just a year later, the Citizenship Act was passed providing for South African citizenship apart from British subjecthood. Previously, any British subject living in South Africa would be considered ‘South African’ after two years of residence. Now, it would take five years of residence for a British subject to gain South African citizenship.

In 1950, the right of appeal to the Privy Council was abolished, and the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein became the court of last instance for the country. In 1957, that court asserted the sovereignty of the Parliament of South Africa (consisting of the Crown, Senate, and House of Assembly) in its ruling over the Collins v. Donges, Minister of the Interior case. That same year the Union Jack ceased to be an official national flag alongside the oranje-blanje-blou, and “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” was given sole official status as the national anthem; thenceforth the Union Jack and “God Save the Queen” would only be used on specifically British or Commonwealth occasions. The old Royal Navy base at Simon’s Town, founded 1806, was handed over to the South African Navy, though the Royal Navy had continued use of it under a bilateral accord. The creeping republicanism manifested itself in smaller ways too, as with “OFFICIAL” replacing the designation “O.H.M.S.” (On Her Majesty’s Service) on government correspondence.

The Nationalists bided their time and waited for just the right moment to abolish the monarchy. In 1960, Prime Minsiter Hendrik Verwoerd announced that a referendum would be held proposing a republican form of government for the Union of South Africa. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, South Africa would have to apply to be re-admitted if it became a republic, but a significant bloc of Afro-Asian countries rallied to bloc her re-admission because of Apartheid. Verwoerd told parliament that he was “convinced that the influence of Britain, Australia, and Canada, and even India … will ensure that we retain our membership,” but despite those countries best efforts to find a mutually agreed solution, none could be found that would be satisfactory to all, and so South Africa announced it would not seek readmission to the Commonwealth when it became a republic.

The referendum was held on October 5, 1960, but with a number of electoral changes made before the vote to help favour the republican cause. The Cape Coloured population, largely anti-republican if not pro-monarchist, had already been removed from the common electoral roll and was not allowed the vote in the referendum. The voting age had been reduced to 18 to take advantage of the higher Afrikaner birthrate, and the white electorate of South West Africa (now Namibia) — mostly Afrikaner or German — was allowed to vote in the referendum even though it was a mandate territory and not part of the Union of South Africa. Despite all these factors weighing in the republicans’ favour, the referendum was a close call: 840,458 votes (52.3%) for the republic, 775,878 votes (47.7%) for the monarchy. In one province — Natal, where the English outnumbered the Afrikaners — the No vote had even been in the majority, and one or two went so far as to suggest secession.

Verwoerd was at least wise enough to ensure that the abolition of the South African monarchy would bring the least amount of constitutional change possible. The constitution remained almost entirely unchanged except that the Crown ceased to exist and the powers of the Governor-General were transferred to a new office of head of state called the Staatspresident, or State President. The Westminster system of government remained, with all its associated traditions. On May 31, 1961, His Excellency Charles Robberts Swart, last Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, was formally invested with the insignia of the office of State President of the Republic of South Africa in the Groote Kerk in Pretoria.

The State President was then relayed to the Kerkplein (Church Square) in the center of Pretoria, accompanied by a mounted escort. From a specially constructed dias in front of the Palace of Justice and surrounded by various officers of state, he proclaimed the Republic of South Africa, and acknowledged the enthusiasm of the crowd that had gathered to witness the momentous occasion. The Prime Minister spoke a few words himself after the State President have finished his speech.

Many of the changes accompanying the abolition of the monarchy were seemingly superficial but nonetheless important. The old regiments of South Africa removed royal references, so the Queen’s Own Cape Town Highlanders became simply the Cape Town Highlanders, while the ships of the South African Navy were redesignated from HMSAS to SAS. Queen’s Counsels became Senior Counsels (as in Ireland and elsewhere). The portraits of past monarchs were removed from the debating chambers and from the Koningsaal in the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town. Still, other royal designations and associations remained, such as the Royal Society of South Africa, the Royal Cape Yacht Club, and the Royal Natal National Park.

Native monarchies persist in South Africa. The King of the Zulus receives a generous subsidy from the South African government, while the Bafokeng tribe under King Leruo Molotlegi is the richest tribe in Africa since a court case gave them a 22% royalty on all platinum mined from their tribal lands. South Africa’s most famous royal is of course former president Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela, a prince of the Xhosa blood royal, and many princes are known for their participation in politics and society (Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi being a prominent example). The British trappings of the South African monarchy prevented it from ever becoming the monarchy of the whole country, but the Nationalists were unwise in overthrowing the system rather than just changing the dynasty. If we began this reflection with a quotation from one of France’s greatest writers, it is more appropriate to end it with the words of the greatest South African who ever lived, Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts: “If a nation does not want a monarchy, change the nation’s mind. If a nation does not need a monarchy, change the nation’s needs.”

Well, I'm not sure that there is much in that "change the dynasty" thing. Nor can I see why "the British trappings of the South African monarchy prevented it from ever becoming the monarchy of the whole country"; quite the reverse, in fact. But allegiance to a monarchy is to an institution embodied by a person, rather than to an ethnicity or an ideology. We all know about states defined ethnically or ideologically. And a monarchy (like, for example, hereditary peerage) expresses the reality of sheer good fortune, of Divine Providence conferring on the more fortunate responsibilities towards the less fortunate. All in all, it is no wonder that the abolition of trade union barons was followed by the abolition of hereditary barons, and no wonder that the BNP wants to abolish the monarchy.

I don't necessarily blame the Afrikaners for having no affection for the British even now, never mind in 1960. I have stood in the Boer POW cemetery in Saint Helena and seen the graves of those boys of 14 and 15, their headstones inscribed in their captors' language rather than in their own. They really did have grievances that certain other, at least equally noisy Britain-haters (Cusack comes off one such lot) did not and do not. But even so.

The Republic of South Africa's application for Commonwealth membership was blocked by Canada's John G Diefenbaker, the morally and socially conservative rural populist who opposed official bilingualism in the English-speaking provinces, who campaigned to save the Canadian Red Ensign with the Union Flag in the corner and thus making Canada a nation under the Cross, and who refused to have American nuclear weapons in Canada.

And check out that bit about lowering the voting age. When that happened in Britain, it brought to power what those voting for them thought were the Selsdon Tories. In South Africa, it had removed the constitutional ties to the other Commonwealth Realms and to the tradition in which the Crown guarantees the liberties of all the monarch's subjects. Learn the lesson well.

The Valley of The Shadow of Death

John Smeaton writes:

When the Pope visits Britain next year, the country he will find is the valley of the culture of death.

In Britain, the government organises secret abortions on schoolgirls behind parents' backs. The chief prosecutor has today issued rules tolerating assisted suicide, under which the disabled will be treated as second-class citizens. The leaders of the major political parties all voted for sinister destructive experiments on embryonic children. I hope that Pope Benedict will issue stern reminders to church leaders and Catholic parliamentarians of their absolute duty to place the right to life from conception to natural death at the top of Britain's moral and political agenda.

SPUC Pro-Life has made a detailed response to the new interim policy on prosecuting assisted suicide issued today by Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions (DPP).

In summary, SPUC Pro-Life's detailed response is that the interim policy:

• says prosecutions will be less likely in cases where the deceased had been disabled or terminally ill
• will legally downgrade the right to life of disabled or terminally-ill people
• confirms the fears of disabled people that the law deems their lives to be inferior
• contradicts the fairness and objectivity requirements of the existing general code for prosecutors
• will be a useful guide to anyone who wants to promote the suicide of their troublesome relatives with impunity
• goes against the government's national suicide prevention strategy.

We will be encouraging disability groups, and all those affected by suicides and suicide attempts, to lobby the DPP to enforce the law against assisted suicide justly and fairly.

SPUC Pro-Life's response in detail:

Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life's general secretary, commented:

"The new interim policy for prosecuting assisted suicide issued by the director of public prosecutions (DPP) today confirms the fears of disabled people that their lives are regarded as of inferior quality by the law."

"The right to life of terminally-ill and disabled people will be legally downgraded under this policy, despite the lip-service paid to the right to life of disabled people during the House of Lords hearing.

"This is a subtle but significant downgrading of disabled people - we are seeing withdrawal of legal protection by stealth.

"In the newly-published prosecuting policy, physical disability of a suicide victim is listed among the factors that count against prosecuting someone who either encourages or helps a suicide".

The document says:

"The policy says that it is a 'factor against prosecution' if the victim had:

• a terminal illness; or
• a severe and incurable physical disability; or
• a severe degenerative physical condition;
from which there was no possibility of recovery" (p5, (4))

"This stands in stark contradiction to the existing general code of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which says:

• "Crown Prosecutors must be fair, independent and objective. They must not let any personal views about ethnic or national origin, disability, sex, religious beliefs, political views or the sexual orientation of the suspect, victim or witness influence their decisions. They must not be affected by improper or undue pressure from any source."

"This new assisted suicide policy introduces pressure on Crown Prosecutors from within the service to be unfair and subjective.

"The new policy as drafted will be a useful guide to anyone who wants to promote the suicide of their troublesome relatives with impunity. Among the factors that count against a prosecution are that the victim:

• indicated unequivocally to the suspect that he or she wished to commit suicide
• asked personally on his or her own initiative for the assistance of the suspect.
"Knowing these factors will help the perpetrators of crime avoid prosecution, simply by making statements about what the victim allegedly said to them - and the victims will not be able to deny it.

"Today's policy not only contradicts the CPS prosecuting code, it also goes against the government's National Suicide Prevention Strategy, which seeks to identify and dissuade people at risk of committing suicide. The DPP's new policy says that encouraging or helping someone with a history of suicide attempts is less rather than more likely to deserve prosecution. This contradicts the positive approach of the suicide prevention strategy, which seeks to identify potential suicides and ensure that they get the help they need to give them hope. This is vital for the many thousands of people each year who become suicidal and need positive support".

We will be encouraging disability groups, and all those affected by suicides and suicide attempts, to lobby the DPP to enforce the law against assisted suicide justly and fairly.

"Democracy" In Serbia

In The New Statesman, Neil Clark writes:

Imagine a country where the self-styled democrats threaten press freedom and where “anti-democratic" forces try to defend it. Such an Orwellian state of affairs exists in Serbia, where a draconian new media law from the Democratic Party-led government has been attacked not only by the political opposition, but by national and international human rights groups.

Under the law, media outlets and journalists can be fined for offences including publication of what is deemed to be false or libellous information. Editors face fines of up to €25,000 - fearsome enough were this to be imposed in the UK, but a colossal sum in Serbia, where salaries are about a fifth of the size. The law suspends citizens' right to set up publications and introduces a registration system for media outlets.

The government claims the law will introduce "order into the chaotic media", but opponents say it has been rushed through in order to prevent the press from criticising Serbia's ruling elite.

“The adopted changes abolish all domestic and European standards of the freedom of the media," says Vladimir Vodinelic, a Belgrade professor of law. The head of the OSCE Serbia mission, Hans Ola Urstad, warns that they may lead to "self-censorship and the closure" of news outlets.

The prime movers behind the law are the small but influential party GI7 Plus, which threatened to leave the governing coalition if the law was not passed. G17 was one of the "pro-democracy" organisations supported by the US's National Endowment for Democracy in its push to topple Slobodan Milosevic's regime in the 1990s. That yesterday's "democratic" opposition is now acting like an authoritarian group is an irony not lost on Serbs.

“In the 1990s I wrote many articles attacking Milosevic and the government," says Dragan Milosavljevic, a journalist. “It is much harder to criticise the democratic government today."

When a restrictive media law was introduced in Yugoslavia in 1998, as the country faced the prospect of Nato airstrikes, there was widespread condemnation from western governments. Will the same condemnation be offered again? We shouldn't hold our breath.

Remember, our boys died for this. Just as they died for the "democracy" in Afghanistan.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

The Referendum We Don't Need, And The One We Do

Today's Telegraph piece, on which comments are welcome over there as well as here:

Brace yourselves. David Miliband is right. It is an extreme position to want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. But not in the way that he presumably has in mind. Rather, because it is a Eurofederalist position. That is why David Cameron supports it.

If Cameron really were against the Lisbon Treaty, then he would have put down Second and Third Reading Amendments rejecting it because of its content, without mentioning a referendum. And he would now be promising not to ratify it, again without any need of a referendum. We all know why he isn’t. He wants to hand the decision to the BBC during the month leading up to a referendum, thereby guaranteeing a Yes vote. The party of the Treaty of Rome, of Thatcher’s Single European Act and of the Maastricht Treaty has not changed one bit. It never will. It can’t.

Meanwhile, there is apparently to be a referendum in Scotland on independence. I beg your pardon, but the United Kingdom is my country, and no one has the right to take it away from me. There is no precedent for a referendum on secession, to which devolution does not compare. The continued existence of the state is a matter for the whole state. And there is no state in the United Kingdom except the United Kingdom. That is a fact. Who is to vote in this proposed referendum in Scotland? Everyone on the electoral register? Which one? For local, European and Holyrood elections, any resident EU citizen can be registered. Are they to have a vote on the continued existence of my country? While I have no vote?

There is no West Lothian Question. It does not exist. The Parliament of the United Kingdom reserves the right to legislate in any policy area for any part of the United Kingdom. It doesn’t have to do so. It merely has to be able to do so. And it is. An English Parliament is a truly awful idea, anyway, and I don’t know why so many Tories are so keen on it. It would only be under Tory control about half the time even if it were elected entirely by First Past The Post, which it wouldn’t be.

If an independence referendum must be held at all, whether in Scotland alone or throughout this single state, and at enormous cost in this period of enormous economic hardship, then there should be an option of returning to the pre-devolution situation. Not least to expose the Tories for failing to campaign for it.

Assisted Suicide: A Constitutional Crisis

The website of Right To Life is currently under construction, so here is the statement of its redoubtable Director, Phyllis Bowman:

“The Director of Public Prosecution’s Guidelines on the possible prosecution of people involved in assisted suicide is a scandal. However much he has tried to cloak it, his guidelines outline an interim policy which in effect will make it legal to assist in a suicide – while he holds a public consultation in order to reach a final decision. He is truly playing with fire. We consider that he has exceeded his authority and some of his precautionary requirements do not really hold water.

“It is not the job of Mr Keir Starmer QC (the DPP), nor his superiors, the Law Lords, to change the law. Yet, while admitting that it is not their job to change the law – the DPP has done precisely that, excusing himself in his massive advance publicity campaign with the claim that public opinion is with him. Since when have the judiciary applied the law in this country according to opinion polls? Most surveys show that the public support capital punishment – but this (thankfully) has not swayed Parliament – nor has it resulted in the judiciary running a campaign to bring back hanging! Mr Starmer’s public consultation could well turn into a campaign to change the law on assisted suicide.

“What makes the present situation even more outrageous is the fact that the very clause the DPP is seeking to change in the Suicide Act (1961) was debated through an amendment to the law presented to the House of Lords only in July by Lord Falconer. This was defeated by a substantial majority.

“Nobody could claim that the Peers did not understand the issue. Since 2003 they have had in-depth debates on assisted suicide no less than four times (including a debate resulting from a Select Committee). Two debates resulted in votes showing a substantial majority against easing the law on assisted suicide. The Lord Falconer amendment was defeated by 194 votes to 141. Moreover, the more peers have investigated the issue and examined the results in other countries, as well as the possible effects in the UK, the more determined they have become to oppose it.

“They have little doubt that easing the law against assisted suicide could undermine the rights of the vulnerable, the disabled, the chronically sick and the aged.

“It was made quite clear to Peers by RADAR, the main disability campaign organisation In the UK, that without exception every human rights disability group in the country was opposed to Lord Falconer’s Bill and will oppose any similar attempt to ease the law: from experience they are well aware of how easy it is to undermine the rights of disabled people.

“During every Lords debate the pro-euthanasia lobby has been challenged to present a Bill in the House of Commons. This they have avoided - and they have avoided taking any such action for one reason. They know that they would be defeated. The Leaders of both the Conservatives and the Labour party have made it quite clear that they would oppose any attempts to change the laws on euthanasia or assisted suicide. We know from our lobbying that a majority of their backbenchers would certainly support them. The statement early this week by Ed Balls MP calling on the DPP to be cautious reflects the feelings of a majority of MPs. In our view the proposals are clearly designed to by-pass this opposition.

“We have to be quite clear. We are facing a constitutional crisis: the judiciary seeking to take over from the legislature. It is not only a matter of euthanasia it is a question of whether parliament will sit back and let the judiciary trample over the primacy of parliament.”

The Police and the CPS have been doing this sort of thing for donkey’s years, effectively legalising drugs, lowering the age of consent to 13, and so on.

Still, the Holy Father is to come here next year, probably in the autumn. He will certainly have plenty to preach about.