Friday, February 13, 2009

Current Crises and Scandals: Haven't We Heard About Them Before, Abe Lincoln?

What if all the attitudes and the crises we are witnessing today had been seen in the early days of the Republic?

A careful reading of Abraham Lincoln's speeches seems to bring up pertinent comments on or about: the subprime crisis, the stimulus, the arguments for reforming (and ditching) the Constitution, the Democrats' double standards, the caricature made of the Republican Party and its members (such as Sarah Palin) contrasted with the heroic image bestowed upon the Democrats' standard-bearers (such as Barack Obama), and the élites of the East Coast, the Ivy League universities, and Hollywood.

Doesn't Abraham Lincoln's Speech in the Illinois Legislature on the State Bank (January 11, 1837) sound somewhat like the subprime mess and the stimulus?
It is an old maxim and a very sound one, that he that dances should always pay the fiddler. Now, sir, in the present case, if any gentlemen, whose money is a burden to them, choose to lead off a dance, I am decidedly opposed to the people's money being used to pay the fiddler …

These capitalists generally generally act harmoniously, and in concert, to fleece the people, and now, that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel.

… I make the assertion boldly, and without fear of contradiction, that no man, who does not hold an office, or does not aspire to one, has ever found any fault of the Bank. … No, Sir, it it the politician who is the first to sound the alarm, (which, by the way, is a false one.) It is he, who, by these unholy means, is endeavoring to blow up a storm that he may ride upon and direct. It is he, and he alone, that here proposes to spend thousands of the people's public treasure…
Doesn't Abraham Lincoln's June 20, 1848, Speech on Internal Improvements (first para below) and his February 13, 1848, letter to a Josephus Hewett (second para) sound like he is talking to those who wish to ditch or at least reform the Constitution and the Electoral College?
I now wish to submit a few remarks on the general proposition of amending the constitution. As a general rule, I think, we would much better let it alone. No slight occasion should tempt us to touch it. Better not take the first step, which may lead to a habit of altering it. Better, rather, habituate ourselves to think of it, as unalterable. It can scarcely be made better than it is. New provisions, would introduce new difficulties, and thus create, and increase appetite for still further change. No sir, let it stand as it is. New hands have never touched it. The men who made it, have done their work, and have passed away. Who shall improve, on what they did?

I was once of your opinion … that presidential electors should be dispensed with; but a more thorough knowledge of the causes that first introduced them, has made me doubt. Those causes were briefly these. The convention that framed the constitution had this difficulty: the small states wished to so frame the government as that they might be equal to the large ones regardless of the inequality of the population; the large ones insisted on equality in proportion to population. They compromised it, by basing the House of Representatives on population, and the Senate on states regardless of population; and the executive on both principles, by electors in each state, equal in numbers to her senators and representatives. Now, throw away the machinery of electors, and the compromise is broken up, and the whole yielded to the principle of large states. … Have you reflected on these things?
Doesn't Abraham Lincoln's 1854 Fragments on Government sound like he is (re)asserting what true Americans stand for — belief in the individual and the common man?
Most governments have been based, practically, on the denial of equal rights of men … ours began, by affirming those rights. They said, some men are too ignorant, and vicious, to share in government. Possibly so, said we; and, by your system, you would always keep them ignorant, and vicious. We proposed to give all a chance; and we expected the weak to grow stronger, the ignorant, wiser; and all better, and happier, together.
Moreover, with regards to Washington politicos trying to submit every part of society (and their allegedly ignorant, vicious members) to government control:
This is a world of compensations, and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.
Doesn't Abraham Lincoln's Speech on the Sub-Treasury at Springfield (December 26, 1839) sound somewhat like he is refuting what the holier-than-thou Democrats insist is the difference between themselves and the greedy, flawed, treacherous members of the demonized opposition party?
Mr. Lamborn [a prominent Democrat] insists that the difference between the Van Buren party [the Democrats], and the Whigs [to a certain extent, the forerunners of the Republicans] is, that although, the former sometimes err in practice, they are always correct in principle — whereas the latter are wrong in principle — and the better to impress this proposition, he uses a figurative expression in these words: "The Democrats are vulnerable in the heel, but they are sound in the head and the heart."

The first branch of the figure, that the Democrats are vulnerable in the heel, I admit is not merely figuratively, but literally true. Who that looks but for a moment at their Swartwouts, their Prices, their Harringtons, and their hundreds of others [who have also handled the nation's purses in, uh, less than an honest way], scampering away with the public money to Texas [then an independent republic], to Europe, and to every spot of the earth where a villain may hope to find refuge from justice, can at all doubt that they are most distressingly affected in their heels with a species of "running itch."

It seems that this malady of the heels, operates on these sound-headed and honest-hearted creatures, very much like the cork-leg, in the comic song, did on its owner: which, when he had once got started on it, the more he tried to stop it, the more it would run away. At the hazard of wearing this point thread bare, I will related an anecdote, which seems too strikingly in point to be omitted.

A witty Irish soldier, who was always boasting of his bravery, when no danger was near, but who invariably retreated without orders at the first charge of an engagement, being asked by his Captain why he did so, replied: "Captain, I have as brave a heart as Julius Caesar ever had; but some how or other, whenever danger approaches, my cowardly legs will run away with it." So with Mr. Lamborn's party. They take the public money into their hand for the most laudable purpose, that wise heads and honest hearts can dictate; but before they can possibly get it out again their rascally "vulnerable heels" will run away with them.

Seriously: this proposition of Mr. Lamborn is nothing more or less, than a request that his party may be tried by their professions instead of their practices. Perhaps no position that the party assumes is more liable to, or more deserving of exposure, than this very modest request.
Doesn't Abraham Lincoln's demonstration of the Democrats' double standards in the 1852 election between his party's Millard Fillmore and the Democrats' Franklin Pierce remind you somewhat of the clueless-Palin-vs.-dream-candidate-Obama double standards during the campaign?
O ho! Judge [Douglas]; it is you, is it, that thinks a man [or a woman] should furnish proof of superiority of statesmanship, before he [or she] is looked to as a candidate for the first office? Do please show us those proofs in the case of your "gallant and honest man, Frank Pierce." Do please name a single one that you consider such. What good thing, or even part of a good thing has the country ever enjoyed, which originated with him? What evil thing has been averted by him? Compare his proofs of statesmanship with those of Mr. Fillmore, up to the times respectively when their names were first connected with presidential elections.
Doesn't Abraham Lincoln's "few words" defending maligned Republicans and conservative principles "to the Southern people" during his Cooper Union speech of February 27, 1860, sound like he is speaking about principled Republicans to today's Democrats, élite Easterners, university professors (and students), Hollywood bigwigs, and other self-declared liberals and progressives?
You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us a reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to "Black Republicans." In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of "Black Republicanism" as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite — license, so to speak — among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify.
And — mournfully — this from Abraham Lincoln January 27, 1838, Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield:
At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Gun Control à la Française

While Le Monde's Luc Bronner explains how well gun control works in the capital, Antoine Albertini uses the case of Pierre-Marie Santucci to explain how well gun control works in Corsica as well.

Europeans Clawing Their Way Back Into the Womb

Ah, Europe, where it’s always the 19th century. Barcepundit major José M. Guardia sees these inspired minds in love with global courts, governance, and brute authority reaching for their usual comfort food:

SHAMEFUL: A poll commissioned by the ADL shows that 33% of Europeans blame the Jews for the financial meltdown. A mind-boggling 74% Spaniards think so; another 2/3 of Spaniards think that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries.
And to think that the smart, stupid, and even occasionally normative people of the continent are lecturing others about ethnic strife and prejudices. Never mind all that, a third of them are looking for a stetl to find themselves a Tevye or an Uncle Vanya type to behead.

Perhaps the same quietly grumbling respondents will start for Jews, and blame their very existence on the “atmosphere” that would cause some innocent soul to resort to extremes to feed themselves in welfare paradise:
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The bank heist at the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday scooped €50,000, with police still looking for the robber on Friday.

"The bank services have said it was about €50,000," a parliament official told EUobserver. "The police haven't caught him. Our security services are looking at all the camera images and are in contact with the police."
It’s a building that you practically need to get a rectal exam to walk into, but keep that to yourselves if you know any lonely Bruxellois, what with this being the cusp of Valentine’s day and all.

Still, I’m hopeful that some artfulness is found in the fact that a brave, romantic “pistolero” can bring some joy to someone’s life.
The attack occurred at around 4pm local time at a branch of the ING bank inside the parliament's Paul Henri Spaak (PHS) building in the heart of the European quarter.

"The man showed a gun, or something that like looked like a gun, the staff were afraid so they gave him the cash in the drawer and he escaped," European Parliament head spokesman Jaume Duch told this website.

Nobody was hurt, he added.

The bag used in the robbery was quickly recovered, another official said.
Gee, that’s nice.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday…

Abraham Lincoln

The kids in the hall

Free advice to President Obama: Save your presidency, run as far and fast as you can from the teenagers* playing "grown-up" on Capitol Hill:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played a little high-stakes chicken with each other at the tail end of Wednesday’s shotgun stimulus talks.

It’s not clear who won – or who blinked.

According to a half dozen Congressional aides and members, Reid went before the cameras Wednesday to announce a stimulus deal before Pelosi had agreed on all the details of school construction financing.

“It’s ruffled feathers, big time,” said a House Democrat speaking on condition of anonymity. “The speaker went through the roof.”

Added one House Democratic aide: “He tried to roll her and she knew it.”

A few minutes after Reid announced the deal, Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) convened a public meeting of the House-Senate conference committee.

It was supposed to be a glorified photo op. But there were no House Democrats in the room – and Inouye hastily announced the meeting would be scrapped pending a Pelosi “briefing” of members on the details.

The problem, according to people familiar with the situation, was that Pelosi hadn’t completely signed off on the Senate’s approach to restoring some of the $21 billion in school construction funding. House Democrats are pushing to have school-repair funding listed as a recurring expense; Senate Republicans want such an allocation to be a one-time-only deal.
The approach adopted by the Senate still infuriates many members of her caucus, and Pelosi had yet to fully make her case to dissenters, a source told Politico.

The result: Pelosi summoned Reid to her office – her turf – to hash out unspecified modifications to the package prior to a 5:15 re-convening of the conference committee.
* with apologies to teenagers for the unfair comparison

It's a Man's Life in the British Dental Association

More European inspiration for a national health care system (cheers to RV)…

This is a gag, right?

Looks like the punchline is, "You!"

Q: What are some of the tax breaks in the bill?

A: It includes Obama's signature "Making Work Pay" tax credit for 95 percent of workers, though negotiators agreed to trim the credit to $400 a year instead of $500 — or $800 for married couples, cut from Obama's original proposal of $1,000. It would begin showing up in most workers' paychecks in June as an extra $13 a week in take-home pay, falling to about $8 a week next January.

Lincoln Bicentennial Honors Lt Col Allen West

Lt. Col. Allen West was the keynote speaker on the occasion of The Lincoln Bicentennial Dinner … the official Bicentennial event of New York, endorsed by the US Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC) to celebrate the 200th birthday of one of our greatest presidents
writes Atlas (that would be her starting the applause — or at least letting out her trademark whoop — at 06:25, 01:35, 05:33, and 07:03, if I ain't mistaken…) about a black man who understands the 16th president far better than the 44th one does…

The EC's competition authorities acted against Microsoft but refuse to undertake similar anti-monopoly proceedings against Russia's Gazprom

Between President Barack Obama and Europe these days, it's all been about — with forbearance from Rodgers and Hammerstein — raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
writes John Vinocur.
But how does "energy security" squeeze into the clingy lyrics that padded the very willful mood of trans-Atlantic reconciliation last weekend at the Munich Security Conference?

After all, the Americans representing the new administration at the annual meeting of defense officials and experts wanted to be liked. And the Europeans, convinced that the Bush administration had mocked and belittled them for eight years, were waiting to be soothed.

Although Europe got no comfy all's clear, the possible hectoring from Washington — on more troops for Afghanistan or greater European defense spending — was turned way down.

Still, and unmistakably, an ambitious new refrain is being fit into all the sweet song.

Using the tag-phrase "energy security," Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. and James Jones, a former NATO commander in Europe whom Obama named as his national security adviser, made clear that the administration would place emphasis on rolling back its allies' dependency on Russian-controlled natural gas and oil.

…At this stage, the administration could probably count on real support on the theme from Britain and Sweden. That's in addition to EU and NATO members in eastern Europe, who are completely dependent on Russia as an energy source and say their sovereignty is threatened by Moscow's determination to use its grip as a political lever.

The Czechs talk about all countries needing two separate energy sources and the means of supply to achieve genuinely secure circumstances.

But the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU's revolving presidency till July, sounded a little doubtful about the perspective of change. He told me: "There are special interests in Europe, and it will take some time to get them on board."

Some Americans are skeptical too.

They refer to the attitude of the European Commission, whose competition authorities have acted against Microsoft but refuse to undertake similar anti-monopoly proceedings against Gazprom, the Russian energy concern, which supplies two-thirds of European gas.

…The Czechs talk about all countries needing two separate energy sources and the means of supply to achieve genuinely secure circumstances.

But the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU's revolving presidency till July, sounded a little doubtful about the perspective of change. He told me: "There are special interests in Europe, and it will take some time to get them on board."

Some Americans are skeptical too.

They refer to the attitude of the European Commission, whose competition authorities have acted against Microsoft but refuse to undertake similar anti-monopoly proceedings against Gazprom, the Russian energy concern, which supplies two-thirds of European gas.

…So much love, plus an outstretched helping hand! And so fast.

For Europeans supposing otherwise, the next lines in this part of the Obama administration's songbook fall something short of the glow and feel of bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.

The provisions that look like caricatures of Democratic drunken-sailor spending

Mr. Obama’s errors on the helter-skelter stimulus package were also self-induced. He should put down those Lincoln books and order “Dave” from Netflix.
You ain't gonna believe who wrote this.
Mr. Obama should have taken a red pencil to the $819 billion stimulus bill and slashed all the provisions that looked like caricatures of Democratic drunken-sailor spending.

Another Empty-Headed Movie From La Baf

Empty-headed members of La Baf are hoodwinked into making another brainless short for the scatterbrained Joël François (15:15 minutes), with a royalist Chouan discovered alive ("Vive le Roué" = vive le Roi) in an antiques shop 220 years after the French Revolution.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Rubber crutch award

Those keeping abreast of issues will no doubt be already aware of the Guardian's fortnight series regarding the "tax gap" facing the UK. This "tax gap" is defined as businesses and corporations having the audacity to use legally defined and approved deductions, allowances and exemptions to minimise their tax bills.

Those aware will also know that the Guardian's parent company has made generous use of the very same tax "avoidance" legalities to reduce their very own tax bills. Naturally the Guardian's use of these legally defined and approved deductions, allowances and exemptions to minimise their own tax bill is perfectly normal and innocent by their own reckoning. Other businesses and corporations using the very same are painted as tax schemers/avoiders/evaders/etc. The same old lefty story, do as we say - not as we do.

Which brings us to one of NP's favourite hard-left hand-wringing pressure group of do-gooders, Tax Research UK (TR-UK). Today, TR-UK gets all touchy-feely-emotive about a new campaign:

Introducing the Tax Tick:

A speculative idea that would enable the man in the street to support companies that don’t use tax avoidance schemes, by choosing to buy products displaying a "TaxTicked" logo.

I've no idea if it will work.

But right now I'm sure there are a lot of people who really do dislike those who abuse our tax system.

It would of course help if our government stopped using them. People like our major banks and all the large firms of accountants plus all the major lawyers would fail immediately.

Wouldn't it be good if the government made compliance with this process a condition for securing state contracts?
Now, TR-UK is often cited in the Guardian and one of its members (only member?), Richard Murphy, often contributes various "bigger government is good, more taxes are needed" type of screeds to Comment is Free. Since the Guardian is a proven participant (positively so) in the so-called "tax gap" by using offshore vehicles to facilitate business transactions, one can only deduce that TR-UK is calling for people not to buy the Guardian and for the British government to withdraw their very lucrative placement of governmental classifieds in the Guardian.

There you have it, Guardian contributor calls for the people to stop buying the paper and the UK government to stop contracting with the paper as well. One rubber crutch award to the emotive non-thinkers at TR-UK, no doubt a serial future awardee as well.

The Gentleman from Lickskillet

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Czech officials suspect the Élysée of inspiring a series of articles in the French press critical of their leadership

The bitter infighting highlights tensions over Europe's response to the financial crisis and underlines fears in some quarters that France will use the downturn to undermine market and competition law inside the EU, which is the world's largest trading zone
writes Stephen Castle (as France gives a €6.5 billion lifeline to its carmakers ("The Europeans … have criticized American support for General Motors and Chrysler [and U.S. steel producers], but it may be harder for them to press that case internationally when their own countries are pursuing similar policies")).
An emergency European Union summit meeting on the economic crisis was announced Monday after a fierce public rift between France and the Czech Republic prompted accusations that Paris was promoting protectionism and undermining Europe's single market.

In Prague, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek of the Czech Republic, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, made a rare and blunt attack on a fellow leader after President Nicolas Sarkozy last week criticized French car companies that relocate to Eastern Europe to cut costs.
For those Americans always wringing their hands over what French (and European) élites and citizens think of their country, though, here is the money quote (the one giving an idea of how French élites and citizens form "their" opinions and viewpoints in the first place):
…the tension has been building for weeks, and Czech officials suspect the Élysée of inspiring a series of articles in the French press critical of their leadership.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A truly new kind of politics, the most personal and thus potentially the most total ever devised: the politics of private life and sexual relations

For sexual activists, sex itself is not a private but a political act
warns Stephen Baskerville in The Family in America. “Feminism today, in its erasure of the boundaries between public and private, is writing a new chapter in the dystopian tradition of surveillance and unfreedom,” he quotes Daphne Patai as observing, “...whereby one’s every gesture, every thought, is exposed to the judgement of one’s fellow citizens.”
Recalling Henry Adams’ definition of politics as the “systematic organization of hatreds,” it requires little imagination to see that this rebellion against sexual “tyranny” has politicized and transformed sex, an act associated at its most sublime with love, into what may yet prove history’s purest distillation of hate.

No sexual ideology has ever appeared before, and its unprecedented power is at once obvious and disguised. Obvious, because it is not difficult to see that politicizing sex and sexual relations potentially penetrates far deeper into the human psyche, unleashes energies and emotions, and disrupts relationships and institutions far more fundamental than those attacked by radical ideologies of the past. The capacity for intrusion into the private sphere of life is unrivalled since the bureaucratic dictatorships of the last century and potentially surpasses even them. “Radical feminism is the most destructive and fanatical movement to come down to us from the Sixties,” writes Robert Bork. “This is a revolutionary, not a reformist, movement, and it is meeting with considerable success. Totalitarian in spirit, it is deeply antagonistic to traditional Western culture and proposes the complete restructuring of society, morality, and human nature.”

…Sexual politics is the most complex and subtle political ideology today. On the one hand, the excesses of organized feminism’s formal agenda no longer command serious respect. Many assume it is spent as a political force, that “feminism is dead” and we live in a “post-feminist” age. At the same time, unspoken feminist assumptions no longer hover in the political margins; they have permeated the mainstream and thrive unchallenged and unchallengeable on the Left, the Center, and even the Right. The danger is not the absurdities of its extremists, whom few now regard, but the steady erosion of social cohesion, civic freedom, and above all privacy, as well as the politicization of personal life by a sexual ideology that has so mesmerized us all that we are largely immune from realizing it. Perhaps the greatest danger is the absence of coherent opposition. For more than any other political movement, feminism neuters, literally emasculates its opposition.

Many have discerned a similarity between feminism and Marxism, but few appreciate how feminism extends the socialist logic and may actually exceed its intrusive potential. “Women’s liberation, if not the most extreme then certainly the most influential neo-Marxist movement in America, has done to the American home what communism did to the Russian economy, and most of the ruin is irreversible,” writes Ruth Wisse of Harvard. “By defining relations between men and women in terms of power and competition instead of reciprocity and cooperation, the movement tore apart the most basic and fragile contract in human society, the unit from which all other social institutions draw their strength.”

Politicizing sex takes the logic of class conflict a great leap forward. The charge of “oppression” is leveled not at broad, impersonal social classes but at the most intimate personal relationships. The oppressor is not the entrepreneurial class or entrepreneur but the husband (or “intimate partner”), the father, even the son. To relieve the oppressed, the all-powerful state nationalizes not only the private firm but the private family. Human intimacy — the individual’s last refuge from state power — is not only a collateral casualty but a targeted enemy.

The danger therefore comes not so much from the assault on freedom generally (which traditional tyrannies also threaten) but specifically from the attack on private life, especially family life (which traditional dictatorships usually left alone). “Radical feminism is totalitarian because it denies the individual a private space; every private thought and action is public and, therefore, political,” writes Bork. “The party or the movement claims the right to control every aspect of life.” …

Sexual Politics and the Welfare State

Though child abuse officials now target middle-class families, bureaucratic child protection originated in welfare. And indeed, the earliest institution of sexual politics was the welfare state.

The welfare state has traditionally been regarded as the landmark triumph of class politics within the liberal democracies — the one successful achievement of “social democracy” that has grown and survived even in countries, like the United States, which avoided such terms. Yet from today’s perspective, the welfare state stands as the first salvo of gender politics, the first social experiment of government growth following the enfranchisement of feminists.

…Originally justified to provide for the families of men who had been laid off during economic downturns or killed in war, the welfare state quickly became a subsidy of single-mother homes and fatherless children. It had immediately set in, that is, to expand precisely the problem it claimed to be alleviating. To justify this sleight-of-hand, the architects of welfare state expansion needed a rationale, and they found it in one of the most potent and destructive falsehoods ever foisted on a well-meaning but gullible public, a falsehood that has served, directly or indirectly, to justify the exponential expansion of not only the welfare state but the scope and power of government in many other spheres. This is the falsehood that government must provide for massive numbers of women and children whose men have abandoned them.

…Single mothers were not being thrown into poverty by absconding men; they were choosing it because it offered precisely the “sexual freedom” that was feminism’s seminal urge, regardless of the consequences for their children. Single motherhood is feminism’s most potent and most destructive accomplishment, and before the right audience feminists not only concede but boast about it. Single Mothers By Choice expresses this boast organizationally, and when pressed, most single mothers will insist that that is precisely what they are. While feminists readily pose as the champions of children when it comes to perpetuating welfare dependency, it is clear that, beneath the rhetorical fluff, the exhilarating power accruing to single mothers is more than adequate compensation for pulling their children into poverty.

…Divorce demonstrates how the hoax of paternal abandonment is an optical illusion, for today it is not fathers who are abandoning both their marriages and their children en masse. A glance at our social infrastructure reveals that, under feminist influence, it is mothers. We have created a panoply of mechanisms and institutions allowing divorcing mothers to rid themselves, temporarily or permanently, of inconvenient children: “safe havens” have legalized child abandonment by mothers; daycare is tailored to the needs of mothers, not children; foster care relieves single mothers who cannot provide basic care and protection; “CHINS” petitions allow single mothers to turn over unruly adolescents to the care and custody of social workers; “SIDS” and in some countries infanticide laws have even made the murder of children semi-legal. And then of course there is abortion.

When one adds the extension and proliferation of institutions not normally associated with divorce but whose purpose is to relieve parents in general and mothers in particular of childrearing duties — public schools, organized after-school activities, convenience and fast food, psychotropic drugs to control unruly boys — we can begin to see how massively our society and economy have been gearing up for decades to cater to divorce, facilitate single motherhood, marginalize fathers, and generally render parents and families redundant.

The Personal and the Political

The divorce machinery intertwines the personal and the political as nothing before, and its personal dimension is precisely what disguises the intrusiveness of its political power. Divorce injects state power — including the penal apparatus with its police and prisons — directly into private households and private lives. “The personal is political” is no longer a theoretical slogan but a codified reality institutionally enforced by new and correspondingly feminist tribunals: the “family” courts. These bureaucratic pseudo-courts permit politicized wives to subject their husbands to criminal penalties for their personal conduct, without having to charge the men with any actionable offense for which they can be tried in a criminal court. To enforce this, divorce vastly expanded the cadres of feminist police — child protective services plus domestic violence and child support enforcement agents — that target men almost exclusively and operate outside due process protections.

To justify its growth and funding, this government machinery in turn generated a series of hysterias against men and fathers so inflammatory and hideous that no one, left or right, dared question them or defend those accused: pedophilia, wife-beating, and nonpayment of “child support.”

…By including middle-class divorcees, the welfare machinery became a means not of distributing money but of collecting it, and governments began raising revenue — which they can add to their general funds and use to expand their overall operations — by promoting single motherhood among the affluent.

This marked a new stage in the expansion and redefinition of the welfare state: from distributing largesse to collecting it. The result is a self-financing machine, generating government profits through expanded police actions by proliferating single-parent homes and fatherless children. The welfare state has become a self-financing perpetual growth machine for destroying families, bribing mothers, rendering children fatherless, plundering family wealth, eroding due process, and criminalizing fathers.

…Feminism may be driving not only the criminalization of the innocent but also the criminality of the guilty.

We are thus fighting a losing battle against crime, incarceration, and expanding state power generally until we confront the role of sexual ideology in family breakdown and the social anomie that ensues. While increased police and penal measures are usually associated with right-wing politics, it is becoming clear that the long-term force is sexual radicalism. Marie Gottschalk describes how “women’s organizations played a central role” in the dramatic rise of the “carceral” state. Gottschalk laments that her fellow feminists who demand more incarceration of men have “entered into some unsavory coalitions” with conservative “law-and-order groups.” But conservatives might ask if their own legitimate concern about crime has led them to serve inadvertently as the unwitting instruments of a repressive ideology. For ever-more-draconian police measures will only create a fortress state. No free or civilized society can survive the mass criminalization of its male population.

“Boo Hurrah”

Thanks to Manfred Nowak and Barack Obama, we can all look forward to a pre-9/11 terror cell reunion. John Rosenthal tells you why.

A first point that needs to be stressed is that a detainee’s being “cleared for release” by the Pentagon in no way implies that he was not in fact engaged in Jihad when he was captured. This is made clear by the example of Murat Kurnaz: perhaps the most celebrated of the ostensibly “innocent men” released from Guantánamo up to now. The Bremen-born Kurnaz was returned to Germany in 2006. But evidence presented before the intelligence oversight committee of the German Bundestag leaves scarce room for doubt that when he was picked up in the vicinity of Peshawar in November 2001, he was there to fight, exactly as US authorities maintained. (On Kurnaz, see my article here; and for a translated summary of the contents of his German police file, see here.)

About the remaining detainees, Manfred Nowak has glibly asserted that “very, very many” of them ended up in Guantánamo simply by virtue of having been “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the erstwhile Qaeda operations planner and current Guantánamo resident, presumably knows better and he disagrees. In a March 10, 2007 Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing, Mohammed likewise pleaded for the release of many of his fellow detainees. But he by no means denied that they had been combatants. “When America invaded Afghanistan, they just arrive in Afghanistan cause the[y] hear there enemy,”
That’s okay, they’re still “innocent”, by emotive standards of the concept of truth at least. And y’know, the Europeans will take them, if only someone would ask.

For a great many reasons this is a bad idea. The least of which is the European past abetting, and by virtue of the embarrassment it will cause to jail ANY of them, the fact that they will simply release the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Nonetheless, the paradox that European leaders care less about the safety of their populations as they do an “emotive truth” simply to support past arguments is a real gas:
"Many past and present detainees were trained in terror camps in Afghanistan after 9/11. They obviously didn't go there as tourists to admire the scenery. These people are potential terrorists," German conservative deputy Hartmut Nassauer said.

But socialist and liberal leaders underlined the EU's moral imperative in supporting US President Barack Obama's move.

Not helping shut down Guantanamo "would be even worse than setting up the camp in the first place," socialist chief Martin Schulz said.
"Europe cannot stand back and shrug its shoulders and say these things are for America alone to sort out," liberal group leader Graham Watson said.
Even though in all likelihood because it requires something more than checkbook diplomacy, they will stand back and make new excuses for not doing the thing that no-one has yet to ask them to do.
The commissioner placed the burden of security on the US, which is to be responsible for checking that any EU-bound detainees do not pose a terrorism threat.
Which they do. But before then, they want someone else, anyone else to make true what they wish to be true: their fragile emotive truth.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Little Global Warming Emotional Blackmail for the Kiddies Out There

And if that doesn’t work, we’ll hunt them!

-Via Tim Bleeah

Bush's detractors aren't willing to credit him with much of an intellect — unless of course they are seeking to show how diabolical he is

While Greenway claims President Bush misrepresents what has happened on his watch, more often than not it has been Greenway and his media contemporaries who have gleefully and unfairly misrepresented the [43rd] president of the United States — to the detriment of their own credibility
writes Jeremy Slavin.
Bush's detractors aren't willing to credit him with much of an intellect — unless of course they are seeking to show how diabolical he is; he's only smart when he's a devil, otherwise he's a dunce.

We all know 9/11 happened while Bush was president. But Greenway makes no mention of the growing threat of Al Qaeda during the Clinton years. Moreover, hundreds of Democrats voted along with Republicans to send U.S. troops to Iraq; should we denigrate them by saying they were hoodwinked into doing it, or acknowledge that we're talking about people who are capable of thinking and choosing for themselves?

Angolagate: Threats from Pierre Falcone Silence VIP Witnesses

Un participant avoue avoir « peur pour sa sécurité personnelle et celle de [sa] famille. Je souhaite que mes déclarations soient confidentielles. Gaydamak et Falcone sont des gens peu recommandables. Ils m'en veulent... »
The "gigantic flux of corruption generated by the 970 million dollars' worth of contracts for weapons sales to Angola between 1993 and 1998" (the evidence related to Angolagate filling no less than 150 tomes) is the subject of several articles in Le Monde, notably those of Pascale Robert-Diard.

Because of "gifts" the main defendant (Pierre Falcone) has handed over to various bigwigs (as can be read in "Pierre Falcone et ses obligés"), not many of the VIP witnesses in question (such as Charles Pasqua, Jean-Charles Marchiani, Paul-Loup Sulitzer, Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, Jacques Attali, Jean-Noël Tassez, and Georges Fenech) are willing to testify — citing various pressures and threats to self and family should they decide to do so. As for Yves Bertrand, the former secret service director refuses outright to give evidence.

Back in the day

Remember a long time ago back in the day (last week) when the UK, France, et al were shut down by record snowfall? Nary a mention in the Guardian about global warming, global cooling, or climate change as the cause.

Well, that was then and this is now. A new natural disaster, a new chance for the Guardian to get it "right":

Bushfires are an annual natural event in Australia, but this year a combination of scorching weather, drought and tinder-dry bush has created prime conditions and raised pressure on the government's climate change policy.
No word on any raised pressure for journalistic consistency.

Update: Paris Match pins the the blame in Australia as well, le réchauffement climatique.

Don’t Feed the Squirrels

I always knew they were a bunch of bums.

To aid their ailing commercial banks, central banks in Europe have relied on huge currency swaps, borrowing nearly $400 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve. But as European commercial banks and European currencies deteriorate, repaying all that money to the Fed is becoming ever more difficult.

"[Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke's assurances aside, I don't see how they can easily be repaid," warns Gerald O'Driscoll, senior fellow with the Cato Institute and formerly with Citigroup and the Dallas Fed.