Saturday, November 24, 2012

Led by the volatile and media savvy Nigel Farage, the UKIP is threatening to become the 3rd-largest party in Britain

From London, Landon Thomas Jr reports in the International Herald Tribune that
 Wednesday night, despite intense lobbying by [Prime Minister David Cameron], a large faction of euro-skeptic Conservative rebels joined forces with members of the Labour Party to defeat a proposal backed by the prime minister on the European Union’s pending 1 trillion euro, or $1.3 trillion, budget.

Although Mr. Cameron wants Europe to exert budgetary discipline, his measure would have supported allowing European Union spending to increase at the rate of inflation over the seven-year life of the budget. 

Labour has traditionally been pro-European Union. But Labour members of Parliament, along with the Conservative renegades, argue that at a time of deep public-sector cuts in Britain, accepting less than similar spending reductions by the European Union would be intolerable.

… Having had to curb his party’s vehement anti-Europe sentiments in deference to his coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-Union of all the major British parties, Mr. Cameron now is facing an outright rebellion in his party.

… If Mr. Cameron were to return from Brussels with a budget in which spending was not cut, his political position could become all the more precarious. 

He is almost certainly aware that his predecessors, Margaret Thatcher and John Major, both were fatally weakened because they could not unite their Conservative Party over Europe. 

As many European leaders use the economic crisis to push for a more federal Europe, British popular opinion is pulling in the opposite direction. 

The most concrete example is the rapidly rising popularity of the United Kingdom Independence Party, which advocates Britain’s outright exit from the European Union

Led by the volatile and media savvy Nigel Farage, the Independence Party is now threatening to overtake the Liberal Democrats to become the third-largest party in Britain, after the Conservatives and Labour.

The European Parliament’s “diminishing legitimacy and authority”: On many days, parts of the building have the feel of a glitzy trade show

When cracks recently appeared in beams of the European Parliament’s main chamber, forcing its closing, 
writes James Kanter in the International Herald Tribune,
one member, Nigel Farage of the U.K. Independence Party, proclaimed that he would “work for the day that the whole democratic facade of the European Parliament is shut as well.”

Mr. Farage is an avowed anti-European known for extreme views. But even for Europeans who do not actively resent the Parliament, it has become a powerful symbol of how institutions designed to build a united Europe have faltered as the project faces the most serious crisis of its 60-year history. 

A poll conducted last November found “a sharp decline” in the European Parliament’s image compared with a similar poll in 2008, when Europe’s economic crisis bloomed.

… The Parliament’s “diminishing legitimacy and authority,” said Fredrik Erixon of the European Center for International Political Economy, a research group in Brussels, was “really very worrying at a time when people have been protesting in the streets against diktats from Europe to fix their economies.”

… The Parliament, with 754 members, is the only directly elected part of the apparatus that runs the European Union. But the percentage of eligible voters who have cast ballots every five years has declined to just over 40 percent from more than 60 percent in less than a quarter of a century. 

In the meantime, Mr. Erixon said, “lobbyists have stepped into the vacuum left by the weakening link between citizens and parliamentarians,” who are popularly resented for their web of generous allowances and the influence they wield over regulations. 

On many days parts of the parliament building have the feel of a glitzy trade show. Business lobbies organize conferences in meeting rooms and host meals in the dining rooms at the invitation of friendly members. They also mount exhibitions — some in seeming violation of the Parliament’s own guidelines. 

… representatives are allowed to hold second jobs with no limits on salaries and accept flights and accommodations without declaring all of them. By comparison, such practices are explicitly forbidden to members of the U.S. Congress. 

The rules prevent members who join or establish lobbying firms from using their lifetime access to Parliament once they leave office. But as of September, the parliament had not asked any former deputy to hand in a badge. More than 2,900 badges are held by registered lobbyists, according to officials in The Parliament’s press service. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Republicans think they're importing hardworking immigrants who want a shot at the American Dream; the Democrats think they're importing clients for Big Government

Instapundit links a most eye-opening article by Mark Steyn:
To an immigrant such as myself (not the undocumented kind, but documented up to the hilt, alas), one of the most striking features of Election Night analysis was the lightly worn racial obsession. On Fox News, Democrat Kirsten Powers argued that Republicans needed to deal with the reality that America is becoming what she called a "brown country." Her fellow Democrat Bob Beckel observed on several occasions that if the share of the "white vote" was held down below 73 percent, Mitt Romney would lose. In the end, it was 72 percent, and he did. Beckel's assertion – that if you knew the ethnic composition of the electorate you also knew the result – turned out to be correct.

This is what less-enlightened societies call tribalism: for example, in the 1980 election leading to Zimbabwe's independence, Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU-PF got the votes of the Ndebele people while Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF secured those of the Shona – and, as there were more Shona than Ndebele, Mugabe won.
Everyone talks about this demographic transformation as if it's a natural phenomenon, like Hurricane Sandy. Indeed, I notice that many of those exulting in the inevitable eclipse of "white America" are the same people who assure me that demographic arguments about the Islamization of Europe are completely preposterous. But in neither the United States nor Europe is it a natural phenomenon. Rather, it's the fruit of conscious government policy.

According to the Census, in 1970 the "Non-Hispanic White" population of California was 78 percent. By the 2010 census, it was 40 percent. Over the same period, the 10 percent Hispanic population quadrupled and caught up with whites.

That doesn't sound terribly "natural" does it? If one were informed that, say, the population of Nigeria had gone from 80 percent black in 1970 to 40 percent black today, one would suspect something rather odd and unnatural had been going on. Twenty years ago, Rwanda was about 14 percent Tutsi. Now it's just under 10 percent. So it takes a bunch of Hutu butchers getting out their machetes and engaging in seven-figure genocide to lower the Tutsi population by a third. But, when the white population of California falls by half, that's "natural," just the way it is, one of those things, could happen to anyone.

… perhaps Bob Beckel's more crudely determinative analysis will prove correct – that, in a multicultural society, jostling identity groups will stick with the party of ethnocultural spoils.

Once upon a time, the Democrats thought differently. It was their first progressive president, Woodrow Wilson, who imposed the concept of "self-determination" on post-Great War Europe, insisting that the multicultural empires of the Habsburgs and Romanovs be replaced by a patchwork of ethnic statelets from the Balkans to the Baltics. He would be surprised to find his own party presiding over a Habsburgian America of bilingual Balkanization as a matter of electoral strategy.

The short history of the Western Hemisphere is as follows: North America was colonized by Anglo-Celts, Central and South America by "Hispanics." Up north, two centuries of constitutional evolution and economic growth; down south, coups, corruption, generalissimos and presidents-for-life. None of us can know the future. It may be that Charles Krauthammer is correct that Hispanics are natural Republicans merely pining for amnesty, a Hallmark Cinco de Mayo card and a mariachi band at the inaugural ball. Or it may be that, in defiance of Dr. Krauthammer, Grover Norquist and Little Mary Sunshine, demographics is destiny and, absent assimilationist incentives this country no longer imposes, a Latin-American population will wind up living in a Latin-American society.

Republicans think they're importing hardworking immigrants who want a shot at the American Dream; the Democrats think they're importing clients for Big Government. The Left is right: Just under 60 percent of immigrants receive some form of welfare. … While Canada and Australia compete for high-skilled immigrants, America fast-tracks an unskilled welfare class of such economic benefit to their new homeland they can't even afford a couple of hundred bucks for the necessary paperwork.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The 2012 Vote in Context of the 1912 Elections

One hundred years ago, writes ITCH (obrigado per Arf, and click on the link to see what ITCH stands for), the GOP was pronounced dead and gone forever, in this collection of 1912 cartoons, by a cartoonist who could easily be working at the New York Times if alive today…

Le Figaro Denounces The Economist's "French-Bashing"

Looking back over seven years of The Economist covers, Le Figaro's Sébastien Thévenet condemns what it sees as "French-bashing". (Of course, France is treated no differently by the London weekly, on its cover or elsewhere, than other countries are…)

Meanwhile, the French government continues striking back

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In their urban cocoons, city-dwellers take for granted the abundance and availability of the economic goods that they consume

Thanks to Instapundit, we have an illuminating op-ed from Forbes:
One obvious explanation for the overwhelming Democratic majorities in big cities is the Curley effect with the corresponding concentration of Democratic constituencies like welfare recipients and unions, but there is more to it than that. The Curley effect has turned once-vibrant cities into economic basket cases, but what, then, can explain the perennial dominance of Democrats in such thriving, prosperous cities as Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco? Why do affluent, white-collar, highly educated citizens in these cities tend to be liberal and vote Democratic?

Sociologists could have a field day with this question, but the explanation could be something as simple as the fact that people who live in cities are relatively insulated from how difficult and challenging it can be to produce the food, energy, equipment, devices, etc., that comprise the affluence that urbanites enjoy. In their urban cocoons, city-dwellers take for granted the abundance and availability of the economic goods that they consume. For instance, many well-to-do, educated urbanites see no downside to supporting stricter regulations and higher taxes on energy producers, because to them, energy is something that is always there at the flip of a switch (except during the occasional hurricane, as some New Yorkers recently discovered). Life in the city for affluent Americans creates the illusion that all they have to do is demand something and—presto!—it will be there when they want it.

Affluent denizens of our metropolises see no inconsistency in supporting the Democratic jihad against “greedy corporations” and “the rich” while also expecting their every whim to be supplied, often by those same corporations and successful entrepreneurs. This is because they are removed from some of the harsher daily realities of life that confront those who are on the front lines of mankind’s ongoing economic struggle. They have forgotten that mankind’s natural state is poverty and that strenuous, heroic efforts are required to produce the astounding affluence and abundant paraphernalia of our modern, affluent lifestyles. To use Marxian terminology, urbanites have become alienated from economic reality.

Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter in the “little house on the prairie” stories who later became a globetrotting journalist (even traveling alone to Vietnam to report on the Vietnam War when she was 78 years young) remarked on the illusions that can beguile urbanites long ago. In her 1943 book, “The Discovery of Freedom,” Lane blasted urban greens and liberals, writing:
Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been too much babied. While he battles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting this CD, fighting the land, fighting diseases and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security in it some pagan God–Society, The State, The Government, The Commune—must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this in human Earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is.
Lane perceived that liberals suffer from a self-satisfied delusion about how the world works. Like the ivory-tower academics who enthuse about socialism because they have never experienced the harsh realities of socialism, so today, many denizens of our big cities are afflicted with a “metropolitan blind spot” that causes them to support irrational, ultimately self-destructive policies. Thus, America’s metropolises will continue to be painted blue at every election unless the people there awaken from their smug delusions.