Taxation is theft – 2019 edition

This appears to be an oldie. It’s definitely a goodie. As the deadline for paying tax for 2017/2018 looms, it’s worth noting this beacon of sanity:

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…he or she has a point
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The SNP: decline and fall (18)~ toxic Eck edition

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…where to begin….

There is a long series of SNP decline and fall pieces on this blog. Rational observers foresaw their demise a few years ago now.

One such observer is the great Gerald Warner, one of the wittiest and acerbic commentators on the body politic, and, if you bump into him,  a generous, convivial drinking companion for visitors to Glasgow’s West End.

I reproduce his latest piece in full, as it’s behind a paywall. It strikes me as being entirely accurate and true, and also wickedly funny, even in the unlikely event that one retains a vestigial admiration for the SNP Follies: see references to the hapless Kenny MacAskill, and ‘Salmond Agonistes’.

The end is nigh!

The law of probability always dictated, in defiance of apparent likelihood, that somewhere on the planet there must be someone leading a government as chaotic, incompetent and beleaguered as Theresa May’s. The challenge was to identify such a politician. Now, however, the quest is over: come on down, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and precarious leader of an imploding and fissiparous SNP administration and party in meltdown.

When two women civil servants made complaints of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond, former Scottish First Minister, last year, the allegations provoked a buzz of interest in the Holyrood village and in the media; but nobody could have foreseen the seismic consequences of this development. Salmond was out of office (though the allegations related to the time when he was First Minister), so it was widely assumed his status as a private citizen would reduce the impact of the controversy.

Fat chance. Nothing involving Salmond is ever low profile. One does not have to support his disastrous separatist agenda or warm to his rebarbative personality to recognize that Salmond has for two decades been one of the very few big beasts in Scottish politics. Admittedly, as the minimal impact he made in his career at Westminster demonstrated, Salmond’s eminence at Holyrood was that of the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. In the pygmy environment of post-devolution Scottish politics Salmond dominated Holyrood like Gulliver in Lilliput.

He has always been a highly dangerous politician. He had his lapses, some of them ludicrous, such as his “penny for Scotland” tax hike proposal and his denunciation of the “unpardonable folly” of Nato intervention in Kosovo. Yet he always bounced back, seemingly undamaged. Any wise opponent knows that getting into conflict with Salmond means encountering a ruthless scorched-earth policy.

That is how Salmond reacted when the Scottish civil service made him the first subject of its newly minted complaints procedure on sexual harassment. Incredibly – to anyone unfamiliar with the crass incompetence of all levels of governance in Scotland – the woman appointed to investigate the complaints had had prior contact with the two female civil servants who made the allegations, having given them “welfare” counselling in November 2017. The complaints were formally lodged in January 2018. A separate police inquiry is still ongoing.

Salmond took legal action, crowdfunded by his supporters, and sought a judicial review in the Court of Session. The Scottish government initially stated that it would “defend its position vigorously”. That stance crumbled into humiliating surrender last Tuesday as the lawyers for Sturgeon’s government conceded that prior contact had occurred – denounced by Salmond’s legal team as “encouragement” to the complainants.

The court ruled that the Scottish government’s actions had been “unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias”. Salmond then called for the head of the Scottish civil service, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who introduced the new code of investigation which the court found her own staff had breached, to consider her position.

He has also now lodged a complaint with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office over apparent leaks about his case to the media. So far, therefore, Salmond has put the Scottish civil service on the back foot, humiliated Sturgeon’s government in Scotland’s highest court and opened a second front on the data protection issue. Yet all that is the least of it.

His principal victim is Nicola Sturgeon, whose credibility lies in tatters following startling revelations about her behind-the-scenes involvement. Until April last year, in accordance with official procedure, Sturgeon was apparently kept in ignorance of the allegations against Salmond. On 2 April, however, she met Salmond at her Glasgow home, with her chief of staff Liz Lloyd (now also in Salmond’s cross-hairs) in attendance. On that occasion Salmond told Sturgeon about the complaints against him.

Generous-minded people might give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt over that first meeting, when she might possibly have been ambushed. But her two subsequent meetings with him in Aberdeen and Glasgow, as well as two telephone conversations, one as late as July, drove a coach and horses through all governmental propriety. The kindest term for this backroom conduct would be a catastrophic error of judgement. But people who make such errors are unfit to govern, so that Sturgeon’s political career is now hanging by a thread.

At this week’s First Minister’s Questions she was harried mercilessly by opponents and clearly no longer in command of her brief. She insisted her meetings with Salmond had not been connected with government matters, but were “party” business. For the Conservatives Jackson Carlaw said: “Her position appears to be a meeting between the First Minister of the government and the former first minister of the government, about a government investigation, involving two government employees was not government business. Really, how?”

The knives are out for Sturgeon on all sides. Alex Neil, a former SNP health secretary, has called for a public inquiry into the government’s “unlawful” handling of the complaints against Salmond. Sturgeon is also under enormous pressure to refer herself to ethics watchdogs under the accusation of having broken the ministerial code.

Kenny MacAskill, the former SNP justice minister who first articulated the doctrine that it is no part of the responsibility of the police to protect the public and who famously released the Lockerbie bomber (Oh, the past triumphs of SNP statecraft!), claimed that a puritanical clique (sic) around Sturgeon was “driving out” people perceived as a threat to her reputation. Er – thanks for injecting that Da Vinci Code flavour into the proceedings, Kenny.

Nicola Sturgeon did make one significant point during FMQs, but it is likely she herself did not recognize its sinister implications. She said there was an inconsistency in her being accused by Mr Salmond of a conspiracy against him while being accused by others of a conspiracy in his favour.

That is perfectly true, but it brings no comfort to Sturgeon. The SNP has sundered into two factions: Sturgeonites and Salmondistas. The underlying reason is the frenzied frustration of the SNP’s ultra-nationalist wing at Sturgeon’s failure to deliver a second independence referendum. The IndyRef2 brigade makes the wildest Home Counties Remainer headbangers look sane and sensible. The ideological magma has been boiling up below the surface and the perceived victimization of Salmond is the perfect proxy cause for a political eruption.

This independence faultline always posed the gravest threat to the SNP, but until now has been managed fairly adroitly by party managers. But the SNP is already a minority government, it has been in power for 12 years and the electoral pendulum is likely to put it out of office at the next election. So, the fundamentalists are in a mood to go for it, persuading themselves that Brexit is an opportunity when, in reality, it is a guarantee against the Scottish electorate taking a further leap in the dark.

The SNP was approaching the end: it has run Scottish Health and Education into the ground. But with Salmond Agonistes pulling down the pillars, the edifice is in imminent threat of collapse. The infighting in the SNP now resembles a saloon brawl in a John Wayne film: hardly anybody knows why they are fighting; the joy is in the conflict.

 

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Where did it all go wrong?

The European civil war: #Brexit edition

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….everybody loses in a war (The Last Tercio, by the great Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau )

In a long and remarkably constructed piece of erudition in The American Mind, a publication of the Claremont Institute, Professor Angelo Codevilla, a true scholar of international relations and historical precedent, considered what he refers to as a “cold civil war“, the product of a new American revolution.

In so doing, he also inadvertently describes the current state of play with Brexit.

Consider these excerpts. It’s not difficult to spot the Remainers, and the unelected Euro elite of Selmayr et al

…“men too often take upon themselves in the prosecution of their revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to which all alike can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required.” (quoting Thucydides)…

.…This is our revolution: Because a majority of Americans now no longer share basic sympathies and trust, because they no longer regard each other as worthy of equal consideration, the public and private practices that once had made our Republic are now beyond reasonable hope of restoration. Strife can only mount until some new equilibrium among us arises….

…The logic that drives each turn of our revolutionary spiral is Progressive Americans’ inherently insatiable desire to exercise their superiority over those they deem inferior. With Newtonian necessity, each such exercise causes a corresponding and opposite reaction. The logic’s force comes not from the substance of the Progressives’ demands. If that were the case, acquiescing to or compromising with them could cut it short. Rather, it comes from that which moves, changes, and multiplies their demands without end. That is the Progressives’ affirmation of superior worth, to be pursued by exercising dominance: superior identity affirmed via the inferior’s humiliation. It is an inherently endless pursuit.  The logic is rooted in disdain, but not so much of any of the supposed inferiors’ features or habits. If it were, the deplored could change their status by improving. But the Progressives deplore the “deplorables” not to improve them, but to feel good about themselves. Hating people for what they are and because it feels good to hate them, is hate in its unalloyed form…..

…As Thucydides pointed out, once people cease adhering to “those general laws to which all alike can look for salvation in adversity,” partisan solidarity offers the only immediate hope of safety. And that, in turn, is because “those general laws” are by, of, and for the good of all. Once people no longer see any good common to all, justice for each becomes identical with advantage. The only good or justice that prevails is the good or justice of the stronger. As Plato points out in Book I of The Republic, far from being a rare phenomenon, this is mankind’s default state.   Hence, among us as well, subjection by force is replacing conviction by argument. Here too, as contrasting reactions to events fan antagonisms into consuming flames like a bellows’ blows, victory’s triumphs and defeat’s agonies’ become the only alternatives…

…..This forced the recognition that there exists a remarkably uniform, bipartisan, Progressive ruling class; that it includes, most of the bureaucracies of federal and state governments, the judiciary, the educational establishment, the media, as well as major corporate officials; that it had separated itself socially, morally, and politically from the rest of society, whose commanding heights it monopolized; above all that it has contempt for the rest of America, and that ordinary Americans have no means of persuading this class of anything, because they don’t count.  As the majority of Americans have become conscious of the differences between this class and themselves they have sought ever more passionately to shake it off. That is the ground of our revolution….

…The rulers are militantly irreligious and contemptuous of those who are not. Progressives since Herbert Croly’s and Woodrow Wilson’s generation have nursed a superiority complex. They distrust elections because they think that power should be in expert hands—their own. They believe that the U.S Constitution gave too much freedom to ordinary Americans and not enough power to themselves, and that America’s history is one of wrongs. The books they read pretend to argue scientifically that the rest of Americans are racist, sexist, maybe fascists, but above all stupid. For them, Americans are harmful to themselves and to the world, and have no right to self-rule….

…..The ruling class’s “resistance” to the 2016 election’s outcome was the second turn. Its vehemence, unanimity, coordination, endurance,and non-consideration of fallback options—the rapidity with which our revolution’s logic has unfolded—have surprised and dismayed even those of us who realized that America had abandoned its republican past.  The “resistance” subsequent to the election surprises, in part, because only as it has unfolded have we learned of its scope prior to the election. All too simply: the U.S government’s upper echelons merged politically with the campaign of the Democratic Party’s establishment wing, and with the media. They aimed to secure the establishment candidates’ victory and then to nullify the lost election’s results by resisting the winners’ exercise of legitimate powers, treating them as if they were illegitimate….

…Partisan “dirty tricks” are unremarkable. But when networks within government and those who occupy society’s commanding heights play them against persons trying to unseat them, they constitute cold civil war against the voters, even coups d’etat. What can possibly answer such acts? And then what? These people, including longstanding officials of the FBI and CIA, are related to one another intellectually, morally, professionally, socially, financially, politically, maritally, and extramaritally. Their activities to stop the anti-establishment candidate, and president—in this case, Trump…

…The revolutionary import of the ruling class’ abandonment of moral and legal restraint in its effort to reverse election results cannot be exaggerated. Sensing themselves entitled to power, imagining themselves identical with legitimacy, “those general laws to which all alike can look for salvation in adversity“—here the US Constitution and ordinary civility—are small stuff to them….

…In 1919, a member of the Russian Duma had asked: “Comrade, is this just?” Lenin famously answered: “Just? For what class?” Forty years later, in similar circumstances, Fidel Castro delivered the dime store version: “Within the revolution, everything. Against the revolution, nothing.” In 2018 our ruling class, in unison, set out to destroy all but the biological life of a political adversary. It substituted vehement assertion for truth, cast aside argument, foreclosed questions, celebrated its own deed and vowed to persist in it. Asked whether what they were doing was right, Senators Booker and Hirono answered directly—the others did so indirectly—that this was the right way to proceed with a person whose jurisprudence was so objectionable. Whether they know whose footsteps they are following matters little.  What matters a lot is that our ruling class does not deal and will never again deal with their opponents as fellow citizens. Theirs was a quintessentially revolutionary act, after which there is no stepping back.  The “resistance” worked. You may have won the last election, said the ruling class. But we’re still in charge. Indeed, they are. And they might stay that way. But human nature ensures that people reply, and repay….

….By dropping all pretense of ruling for the common good; by presuming that they embody the law (Laws-R-Us); by instituting various kinds of boycotts (Institutions-R-Us); by using the strongest, most motivating language toward opponents; by inciting all manner of violence; by death-gripping their privileges; by using their positions’ powers in government and social institutions at or beyond their extreme edge; the people who occupy the government’s and society’s institutions continue to remove whatever deference the institutions (by the authority of which they rule) had inspired. They increasingly stand before their opponents, naked. By daring their opponents to capture these positions in any way possible, and to use them in the same way, they threw down a gantlet that is now being picked up….

…Unattainable, and gone forever, is the whole American Republic that had existed for some 200 years after 1776. The people and the habits of heart and mind that had made it possible are no longer a majority. Progressives made America a different nation by rejecting those habits and those traditions. As of today, they would use all their powers to prevent others from living in the manner of the Republic…

So much of it is specifically American, and refers to that republic’s unique and thus far extraordinarily durable Constitution. Not unlike Britain’s own unwritten but hitherto adhered to rulebook. Yet the pathological behaviour exhibited by the losers since Trump’s election reflects exactly the hate driven refusal of the snubbed Remainers.

Codevilla ends his piece by quoting Shakespeare in Julius Caesar. I’ll go with Robert Bolt in his masterly, and timeless,  A Man For All Seasons:

William Roper: So now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast. Man’s laws, not God’s. And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law – for my own safety’s sake.

 

A Roman Christmas – sort of

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A small but perfectly formed piece by Andrew Ferguson, one of the smartest and wittiest writers in America. Given that the Weekly Standard is now defunct, there’s no certainty about what will happen to all of its online content, and in particular, that of its best contributor.

So here is Ferguson’s trip to Rome in the company of the legendary HV Morton, whose original book A Traveller in Rome sums up the Eternal City very well – no easy task – and also evokes the heady days of hassle free travel and effortless continental chic.

I went to Rome not long ago and took H. V. Morton along for the ride. He was an agreeable companion, for the most part. Through no fault of his own, he has been dead for 40 years, but before he clocked out he managed to publish a series of travel books that brought him fame and riches. His native England was a favorite subject and so was the Holy Land, but it was in Rome that he plowed especially fertile ground. Over a dozen years he managed to produce A Traveller in RomeThis Is RomeA Traveller in Italy(with lots of stuff about Rome), A Traveller in Southern Italy (ditto), The Waters of Rome, and The Fountains of Rome. Thus he managed to match and exceed the freelancer’s mandate: “Publish every piece three times.” He’s a hero.

Morton’s first fame exploded when he broke the news of the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1923. After that sensational ka-boom his work and career settled down. His tokens were the quiet anecdote and the picturesque detail. The best of his Rome books is the first, A Traveller in Rome, and I tossed it in my carry-on bag for inflight reading, hoping that once airborne I could resist the temptations of Black Panther and Fantastic Mr. Fox beckoning from the seatback screen 18 inches from my face.

Morton had the essential journalistic quality: absolute confidence in his own judgments. Without it a hack can never achieve the fluency needed to shovel words by the bushel. “Often wrong, never in doubt” was long the motto of editorial writers, but it can be applied to the journalism racket generally. And so: “To cut a good figure,” writes Morton, “to have panache, to preserve one’s ‘face,’ are necessary to the self-respect of the Italian, and to reduce him in his own estimation is to earn his eternal enmity.” Is this true? I have no idea—my knowledge of the Italian character doesn’t extend beyond Godfather I and II, which are about Sicilians. It sounds plausible enough, and whatever it is, it’s not mush. Morton gives his readers granite-hard assertions they can grab onto and use to hoist themselves into the next paragraph. He is full of assertions.

And he phrases them always in excellent prose. Common enough among pen-pushers of his day, Morton has a style that flirts with the fancy, approaches the purple, but always turns back in the nick of time. I never knew what would draw my companion’s attention. Rome, I learned early on, “has the most wonderful steps in the world,” a fact that launches him into a kind of prose poem about stairs, along with their effect on his leg muscles. He grows censorious when he contemplates Roman elevators. “Italy is a country of intransigent lifts,” he scowls. And the motor scooter Romans favored in the postwar years: “An absurd vehicle.”

Morton isn’t a full-time grump. He would hardly have been worth taking along on a trip if he were. His eye for beauty is worthy of Rome, and he is always open to surprise. I find him especially useful for the unexpected fact with which a traveler can impress fellow travelers and feign worldliness. Did you know that it was once traditional, when a pope died, for the Cardinal Chamberlain (whatever that is) to enter the papal bedchamber and give the Catholic carrion three ceremonial taps on his forehead with a silver hammer? Me neither. But I know it now, and so do you, thanks to my companion’s tireless researches. Morton does not, unfortunately, go on to explain why this tapping ritual was performed. He’s not perfect.

It is commonplace to observe that in Rome history lies in sedimentary layers. The clay of imperial Rome covers the Roman Republic, that of Alaric and the barbarians is laid upon the remains of empire, the Middle Ages barely peeks through the Renaissance, and so on, up to the bullet-pocked façade of Mussolini’s headquarters. To these I now add an idiosyncratic layer of my own. When I walk the length of the Lateran basilica, I think not only of popes and saints and pilgrims; I think that this is where a British travel writer walked more than a half-century ago, author of what has become one of my favorite books, who left this holy place one afternoon for a quick bite to eat and recorded the event with his inexhaustible capacity for wonder.

“To watch an Italian faced by a gigantic mass of spaghetti is always to me an interesting spectacle. The way he crouches over it, combs it up into the air and winds it round his fork before letting it fall into his mouth and biting off the fringe, rouses the awe . . . ” 

Merry Christmas again, and happy travels in 2019

Christmas again

The eighth Christmas on this blog. No message, other than happy Christmas to any regular readers and passers by!

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The 7th century Nativity icon from St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai. Still going strong after eighteen centuries, in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. They must be doing something right.

….from the British Isles, a history of Christmas

….from Ireland, the legendary Flann O’Brien‘s translation of a 9th century Irish poem, Scel lem duib

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….and from our American friends…

James Hunt: The W126 Mercedes SEC ~ men of taste and distinction (a continuing series)

jh1Some of the most read posts on this blog relate to the sublime masterpiece that is the Mercedes SEC coupe – try these: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

I was watching a Freddie Mercury documentary the other day, in which Freddie jumped into an all black SEC, being a de rigeur 80’s classic, as enjoyed by Clint Eastwood and numerous racing drivers, the latest of whom – that I’ve discovered –  is the legendary English madman, James Hunt, winner of the 1976 Formula 1 title, after Lauda’s accident and severe burns just about took him out of contention.

James-Hunt-750x400Hunt had plenty of cars – here he is with an SEL, and he was thought to have possibly owned this SEC convertible – although the modification ruins the sleek brilliance of the pure coupe. In any event, the highly readable Mercedes Driver magazine has just done a cover story on Hunt’s 500 SEC, which came up for sale a while ago.

Here’s the file. They are simply brilliant vehicles – truly things of beauty…

 

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…relaxing before a race

So it’s their fault…

One of the very best things that I’ve read recently is by Michael Mukasey, who was a distinguished Attorney General under George W Bush, still in active legal practice and still offering all sorts of cogent opinions.

The piece in question is in the Wall Street Journal. Given that in the face of tough competition, most people would concede that the defining event of the 21st century so far was 9/11, it’s always worth asking how we got there.

So, if you trace it backwards:

9/11 – Osama Bin Laden – Saudi extension of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood as Sayyid Qutb’s brother became a tutor to OBL after fleeing Egypt – Sayyid Qutb (executed by Nasser in 1966) ran the Muslim Brotherhood  – Qutb had returned to Egypt after jacking in a travelling fellowship in the US awarded as he was a civil servant – in the US Qutb arrived at Colorado State College of Education in Greeley in 1948, and lasted 6 months.

Got that?

And what did Qutb say about the US?

…contempt curdled into revulsion when Qutb dropped in on a church dance that followed a service—a shocking juxtaposition in itself: “The dance hall convulsed to the tunes on the gramophone and was full of bounding feet and seductive legs. . . . Arms circled waists, lips met lips, chests met chests, and the atmosphere was full of passion.”

The song that was playing: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” For Qutb, it epitomized the West’s moral degradation. He condemned the “animal-like mixing of the sexes,” concluded that Americans were “numb to faith in art, faith in religion, and faith in spiritual values altogether,” and determined that Islam would have to be perpetually at war with such a society.

None of this is controversial – Qutb was indeed the founder of radical Islamic terrorism as we know it.

Happy Christmas when it comes!

The grinning stupid authoritarian (GSA) phase

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…the founder

When privileged-arch-fascist-climate-denier James Delingpole called his 2009 book Welcome to Obamaland: I Have Seen Your Future and It Doesn’t Work , he was onto something.

The UK had unhappily become the template for the next ten years in the polities of the complacent and morally confused West. All thanks to Tony Blair, and I should add, with the benefits of hindsight and his recent return to prominence, the selfish idiocy of John Major. His determination to continue as a dud Tory PM for a couple of years – despite a thriving economy – gave us the horrors that began in 1997.

So, we got Blair, slowly ruining that economy, along with his hated rival Gordon Brown, and visiting quite astonishing amounts of carnage on various foreign countries in the process. He is sort of reviled now, though he obviously finds it hard to take. Brexit has given him the opportunity that he craves to start lecturing us all again***.

In any event, I would say that Britain had begun to recover from his peculiar brand of smoothness, his labelling of opponents as morally bad people, and his oafish certainty. Theresa May’s dismal reign is essentially a hiatus in that recovery, I hope.

That depressing period is becoming a distant memory of course, as we actually got rid of Blair a whole 11 years ago, and whatever his demerits, his successor Brown was not a grinning authoritarian, and nor was Dave, after 2010.

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….

Obama, a master of the amiable rictus, came in after a cunningly stage managed meteoric rise, in 2008, and exemplified the essential features of the GSA: a messianic view of his own powers and beliefs; the support of a mostly invertebrate and adulatory media; a hatred of  ‘old’ (and generally successful) norms in economics, morality, societal structure; a tendency to reward untalented cronies for fawning; an unthinking obsession with climate change; complacency about the electorate; a counterintuitive tendency to violence and the use of physical authority.

There are no doubt lots of other themes, but they’ll do for now.

The final common pathway of all this is the same – failure.

This failure though is one that only affects the public good, including the economy. The corollary of it is that the GSA will always end up personally enriched. That said, they rarely end up happy. This blog began in 2010 with exactly that observation.

Obama’s failures are many, although his extended media fan club hate to admit it. His irrefutable achievement was being the first African American president. The rest of it – not so much. Obamacare is tottering, he was the master of the multi-casualty drone strike, he destroyed his own party as for eight years it was all about him (another typical feature), the economy stagnated with absurd claims made to disguise failure, the church was targeted, terrorists were routinely appeased, and so on and on and on. Par for the course.

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Macron has turned into an ongoing car crash (even as I write) at a quite incredible speed****. Clearly more intelligent and widely educated than both Blair and Obama, he nevertheless has proven to be amazingly out of touch and stupid. His de haut en bas style is ruining both him and France. It’s as if he’s making their mistakes at triple speed, just to catch up. What is funny is that he clearly didn’t see it coming – he thought the template worked. The inherent lack of principle is deliciously emphasised by him folding on his daft fuel tax – either climate changes exists and the proposed actions matter or it doesn’t (spoiler – it doesn’t).

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…the new boy

The newest GSA is Leo Varadkar. Poor Ireland, generally badly run by a host of chancers since de Valera threw in the towel, its unique identity has been slowly crushed and subsumed by the secular brutality of the EU superstate. Once it sold its soul by giving in to voting twice on the dreadful Lisbon Treaty, it became a perfect seed bed for a GSA – and Varadkar is an exemplar of the breed. Number one priority was sucking up to EU overlords** – there would be no  prospect of dissent. Number two was going to town on legalising abortion – a far more controversial topic to this day than was ever admitted – which inevitably was joined with lots of church bashing. Number three is kicking Theresa May about, which everyone finds easy these days. It plays to the time honoured anti-English gallery in the Republic, itself a form of ‘toxic nationalism’.

There is no happy ending here. These menaces always cause untold avoidable harm. They bask in the approval of  most of the media and the young, until everyone begins to realise that this maybe isn’t so great after all, by which point lives have been lost, economies ruined, society broken further.

At the moment though, we can always eventually throw the bastards out. Far better would be to spot them in advance and never vote them in, in the first place.

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**This terrific Brendan O’Neill piece on Varadkar’s poison came out a couple of days after this blog post. Essential reading

***and Dominic Lawson rips into Blair’s outrageous solipsistic posturing. He refuses to go away, naturally

****here’s Gavin Mortimer on Macron’s extremely rapid fall from grace

The unwritten rulebook (part 1001)

I’m lifting this brief post from the very smart and witty Steven Hayward at the peerless Powerline, which apart from anything else, has five regular writers who are absolute role models for concise and pithy blog posting. Here is the essence of Steve’s piece, referring to the work of Michael Uhlmann, about whom I know very little. He is though, a master of the unwritten law:

Like Uhlmann’s law of legislative analysis:

If an Act of Congress has a long title—lock up the children and run for cover.

Or Uhlmann’s Razor:

When stupidity seems a sufficient explanation, there is no need for recourse to any more elaborate analysis.

Uhlmann’s Razor also has a corollary known as Uhlmann’s First Law of Historical Causation:

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

And my personal favorite:

When evaluating the soundness of any moral proposition, law, rule, or regulation, however popular, to ascertain its true meaning, read it aloud slowly in a German accent.

…to which Steve adds the rules of historian Robert Conquest:

  1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
  2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
  3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

Timeless advice from both parties, and universal (ie. also broadly applies to the UK)

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Uhlmann’s Razor applies again

 

The paradoxes of #Brexit

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A bold and confident Brexiteer…

Paradox is a beautiful tool of language, the master of which was GK Chesterton (1, 2, 3), but in our times Mark Steyn seems to be able to produce them effortlessly and very wittily.

At the heart of the Brexit mess lie a few of these gems, the first being the truth that strikes a cold, paralysing fear into the hearts of the hubristic masters of the EU project:

~ The EU and Remainers are not afraid that (No Deal) Brexit will fail,  they are afraid that it will succeed

~ In the UK the official opposition is not particularly opposed to Brexit (despite some noisy Blairites)

~ Democracy loving (allegedly) Remainers are recklessly trying to overturn the result of the biggest democratic exercise in British history

~In a class ridden society (allegedly), the upper and lower classes are united by being assaulted by an enraged middle class

~ The entire Despite Brexit movement is a living, pulsating mass of new paradoxes and baffled journalists every day. Here are just a few of the recent ones: 1 (from the FT, spiritual home of the Despite Brexit classes) 2 and 3. They’re not hard to find.

No doubt there are quite a few more of  these unexpected results of the Brexit vote, though more specifically, of the failure to accept its result.

Paradox  implies that humility is a good idea. That applies to both sides of the Brexit divide, but Remainers’ continued failure to predict the future suggests that they perhaps need that particular virtue more than most.

As it happens, given the sheer loathing (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) that Remainers have demonstrated for the rest of us – a fault also found in Brexiteers, but to nowhere near the same extent – another Chesterton paradox seems applicable….

It is a great mistake to suppose that love unites and unifies men. Love diversifies them, because love is directed towards individuality. The thing that really unites men and makes them like to each other is hatred.