Archive for January, 2008

>More nails in the CO2 as primary forcing agent coffin

January 23, 2008 3 comments

>Joseph D’Aleo has some interesting graphs that should make any of the Climate Faithful reconsider the reality of the CO2 as bogeyman ‘consensus’. I say ‘should’ but I doubt they will, as truth is not a primary value of these people.

First up, a graph of CO2 against US temperature. Note the low r-squared correlation of 0.44.

That is quite a profound non-correlation. How’s CO2 looking over the last 10 years or so?

An r-squared of 0.02? Oops. Random noise has a higher correlation than that!

Of course, the unscientific loons who buy into climate change propaganda will start by bashing D’Aleo and then follow up by stating that correlation with the US record is irrelevant – that’s why it’s called global warming.

So, let’s have a look at CO2 vs the CRU global and MSU lower tropospheric monthlies over the same period:

CO2 is meant to be the primary
forcing agent accounting for more than 60% of all forcing agents. For that to be the case then the above graph is impossible.

Is there anything that does have a good correlation?

The sun has a higher correlation than CO2. Imagine that.

D’Aleo then hit upon an idea:

Since the warm modes of the PDO and AMO both favor warming and their cold modes cooling, I though the sum of the two may provide a useful index of ocean induced warming for the hemisphere (and US). I standardized the two data bases and summed them and correlated with the USHCN data, again using a 11 point smoothing as with the CO2 and TSI. This was the jackpot correlation with the highest value of r-squared (0.83!!!).

In summary:

Definitive? No. Interesting? Yep.

However, does it kill the idea that CO2 is the primary forcing agent of climate? Pretty much.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Climate Change

>Let’s hope London’s Red Ken loses the May election

January 23, 2008 2 comments

>I assume that most people have heard of Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, who has long carried the nickname Red Ken.

For over 20 years he has worked assiduously to weaken British society by limiting free speech, promoting extremist causes and associating with the worst types of populist, leftist, totalitarian world figures.

Check out his Wikipedia entry to get a full understanding of his anti-Semitic, socialist views.

People like Livingstone are a major reason that organisations such as the BNP are gaining increasing support.

From the UK’s socialist rag, The Guardian, comes this amazing defence of Red Ken, which shows just how much The Guardian lives in a parallel universe.

It’s as if the last 25 years had never happened. For the past week we’ve been back in the days of Margaret Thatcher’s war on Red Ken and the Greater London Council. Every morning, the media have brought new revelations of the horrors at City Hall and Ken Livingstone’s manifest unfitness to be re-elected mayor of London. Just as in the time of the GLC, Livingstone is denounced for consorting with dangerous leftists and terrorist apologists. Only the details have changed: for lesbian workers’ cooperatives, read the Arab women’s network, and for Sinn Féin and the Irish community, substitute Islamist groups and London’s Muslims.

Livingstone not only cavorts with those obnoxious, anti-progressive groups but believes, and promotes, their causes to the detriment and against the opposition of the huge majority of proper thinking people.

Leading the charge until now has been the capital’s only paid-for daily newspaper, the Evening Standard, which is to all intents and purposes running the Tory candidate Boris Johnson’s campaign for the mayoral election in May. But now most of the national press has fallen in behind, as stories have multiplied of Livingstone’s whisky tippling, alleged dodgy grants to black businesses and a “secret Marxist cell” of advisers intent on turning London into a “socialist city state”, or maybe fomenting a “bourgeois democratic revolution” – the specifics were never quite clear.

Good on the Evening Standard for exposing the little fraud.

The trigger for this retro onslaught was Monday’s almost comically slanted Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Livingstone, presented by the New Statesman’s Martin Bright, who wrote that he felt it his “duty to warn the London electorate that a vote for Livingstone is a vote for a bully and a coward who is not worthy to lead this great city of ours”. Quite how Channel 4 managed to describe an hour of primetime vilification as a “fair and balanced investigation” with a straight face will be a mystery to most of those who watched a programme without a single supportive interview. Instead, we were treated to a hotchpotch of allegations and denunciations from disgruntled ex-employees and political opponents, ranging from the bizarre and sub-McCarthyite to the more serious but unproven.

Livingstone most certainly is “a bully and a coward” not worthy to lead a chook raffle let alone the great city of London.

Among them was an attack on Livingstone’s deal with Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to subsidise half-price travel for London’s unemployed, his dialogue with non-violent Islamist groups, the use of public funds to commission research for his dispute over multiculturalism with the then head of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, and the well-aired fact that several aides have been members of the one-time Trotskyist group Socialist Action – though since they have been working happily with the police and City grandees for the past eight years, that might seem to be of somewhat specialist interest. Most of the real issues that will dominate the mayoral elections – housing, transport, crime, the environment – barely got a walk-on part. But the programme was certainly an effective party political broadcast on behalf of Johnson.

Finally, people are sick of Livingstone and are ‘attacking’ him. Why pointing out reality is an attack is beyond me but I presume it’s because The Guardian supports his disgusting positions.

What has given this latest assault on Livingstone a special edge is that the people driving it trade as being on the left: Bright as a representative of Britain’s main centre-left political weekly and Nick Cohen, who has more openly lined up behind Johnson, as an Observer columnist. In reality, both writers share a broadly neoconservative agenda on Islamism and the “war on terror” – though Bright opposed the Iraq invasion – and that is the central issue that has turned them and their allies against Livingstone. Bright wrote a pamphlet for the rightwing thinktank Policy Exchange attacking government dialogue with Islamists, warmly praised by the leading US neocon Richard Perle. Cohen famously declared after meeting Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz for drinks at the Mayfair nightclub Annabel’s: “I was in the presence of a politician committed to extending human freedom.”

Ahhh, it’s the neocons; part of the Bushitler cabal that seeks to control the world. The article’s author, Seumas Milne, is a lunatic.

As the most powerful British politician to have opposed the Iraq and Afghan wars and supported engagement with mainstream political Islam, Livingstone has naturally attracted the enmity of the neocons. After hearing Bright dismiss Chávez’s administration as a “government with links to Iran and cocaine-smuggling guerrillas and accused of human rights abuses”, it should come as no surprise that he, Cohen and their friends prefer to see a high Tory elected mayor of London rather than the radical Labour incumbent.

Venezuela is slowly heading down the same path as Zimbabwe. Will Seumas Milne defend Chavez when the place runs out of oil and ends up as a clone of Cuba?

To the rest of London, it’s scarcely news that London’s mayor has his faults, or controversial that he should be held to account. It’s right that the less than 1% of the London Development Agency’s budget that went on grants to failed business startups should be properly investigated, even if that isn’t a bad record compared with the private sector. You’d never know it from all the chatter about Bolshevik cabals, but there’s also a strong left critique of Livingstone: for his embrace of the City and property developers, for example, and defence of the Metropolitan police commissioner over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

But that’s not what will be at stake in May’s election. The choice will be between two candidates: one who has pioneered congestion charging and cut traffic by 70,000 cars a day, pushed up the supply of affordable housing, boosted bus ridership by one and a half million journeys a day, abolished fares for under-18s, is preparing to introduce emissions charging and free public transport for pensioners and has played a key role in cutting crime and maintaining community relations during a tense and dangerous period. On the other hand, you have a Thatcherite who thinks it’s witty to refer to Africans as “piccaninnies” and regrets the end of colonialism, is an enthusiastic Bush and Iraq war supporter, opposed the Kyoto treaty, and is against the welfare state and the “teaching” of homosexuality in schools.

Seumas Milne lives in a different world. Crime rates in London are soaring and it’s one of the least safe cities in the world. The police have had to rig the statistics and invent meaningless categories to show they’re making any impact at all.

The choice could hardly be starker. No other candidate is in with a shout. Despite his record, Johnson’s media profile and geniality mean he is the first serious challenge the mayor has had to face. With Livingstone and Johnson only one point apart in the latest opinion poll, the Tories have scented blood. Johnson’s decision to hire the ruthless Lynton Crosby, who masterminded four election victories for John Howard in Australia, should be a warning. The Tory candidate knows he’ll make little headway among the non-white third of London’s electorate, so expect some dog-whistle appeals to white voters, perhaps dressed up as broadsides against political correctness. A defeat for Livingstone would not just be a blow to the broadly defined left, working-class Londoners, women, ethnic minorities and greens. It would represent a wider defeat for progressive politics, in Britain and beyond.

Hopefully, our own ‘ruthless’ Lynton Crosby can engineer a win for Johnson. Why it’s a ‘dog whistle’ to appeal to white voters but not ‘the non-white third’ is a mystery.

It’s amazing that people think the left is progressive. Backward economic policies, totalitarian instincts, limits on free speech – and thought – are not normally associated with progression. But for the left, believing in good is better than actually doing any good.

People like Livingstone ruin the world. Let’s hope he loses the upcoming mayoral election.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Politics, United Kingdom

>The UK’s impending Islamic doom

January 22, 2008 6 comments

>From the UK’s Telegraph comes a disturbing article about UK’s Muslims ongoing attempts to introduce Sharia Law in that country. When Joe Public decides he’s had enough the backlash is going to be swift and violent.

Islamic courts meet every week in the UK to rule on divorces and financial disputes. Clare Dwyer Hogg and Jonathan Wynne-Jones report on demands by senior Muslims that sharia be given legal authority

Amnah is a modern British Muslim. She is dressed in a denim skirt and her head is covered in a hijab. Poised and self-assured, she has come to meet Dr Suhaib Hasan, a silver-bearded sheikh who sits behind his desk, surrounded by religious books.

“But why would I have to observe the waiting period?” she asks him. “What are the reasons?” There is an urgency to her questions.

“These reasons don’t apply to me, that’s what I’m very confused about. If you could give me the reasons why I have to wait three months, then I’ll understand.”

Amnah is going through a divorce and is baffled at being told that she must wait for three months to remarry, considering that she hasn’t seen her estranged husband for two years.

She twists her sock-clad toes into the carpet, grasping one hand with the other in her lap, and fixes Dr Hasan with an intense look. He meets this with a simple reply: “These rulings are all in the Koran. The rulings are made for all.”

Amnah has little choice but to comply: Dr Hasan is a judge, and this is a sharia court – in east London. It sits, innocuously, at the end of a row of terrace houses in Leyton: a converted corner shop, with blinds on the windows, office- style partitions and a makeshift reception area.

“Amnah has little choice but to comply…” Of course she has a choice; she lives in a free society.

It is one of dozens of sharia courts – also known as councils – that have been set up in mosques, Islamic centres and even schools across Britain. The number of British Muslims using the courts is increasing.

To many in the West, talk of sharia law conjures up images of the floggings, stonings, amputations and beheadings carried out in hardline Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. However, the form practised in Britain is more mundane, focusing mainly on marriage, divorce and financial disputes.

Heh. If Muslim leaders had their way then they’d be happy to see floggings, stoning, amputations and beheadings in the West.

The judgments of the courts have no basis in British law, and are therefore technically illegitimate – they are binding only in that those involved agree to comply. For British Muslims who are keen to follow Islam, this poses a dilemma. An Islamic marriage is not recognised by British law, and therefore many couples will have two ceremonies – civil for the state, and Islamic for their faith.

If they wish to divorce, they must then seek both a civil and an Islamic divorce.

Oh, boo bloody hoo…if they want to live in an Islamic society then they should leave the UK. Simple as that.

Dr Hasan, who has been presiding over sharia courts in Britain for more than 25 years, argues that British law would benefit from integrating aspects of Islamic personal law into the civil system, so that divorces could be rubber-stamped in the same way, for example, that Jewish couples who go to the Beth Din court have their divorce recognised in secular courts.

He points out that the Islamic Sharia Council, of which he is the general secretary, is flooded with work. It hears about 50 divorce cases every month, and responds to as many as 10 requests every day by email and phone for a fatwa – a religious verdict on a religious matter.

Dr Hasan, who is also a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain on issues of sharia law, says there is great misunderstanding of the issue in the West.

“Whenever people associate the word ‘sharia’ with Muslims, they think it is flogging and stoning to death and cutting off the hand,” he says with a smile.

Funny, that, as it’s what Sharia Law actually dictates.

He makes the distinction between the aspects of law that sharia covers: worship, penal law, and personal law. Muslim leaders in Britain are interested only in integrating personal law, he says.

If you believe this statement then you are in for a serious shock down the track.

“Penal law is the duty of the Muslim state – it is not in the hands of any public institution like us to handle it. Only a Muslim government that believes in Islam is going to implement it. So there is no question of asking for penal law to be introduced here in the UK – that is out of the question.”

He’s a good stalking horse, isn’t he, in the style of Tariq Ramadan?

Despite this, Dr Hasan is open in supporting the severe punishments meted out in countries where sharia law governs the country.

“Even though cutting off the hands and feet, or flogging the drunkard and fornicator, seem to be very abhorrent, once they are implemented, they become a deterrent for the whole society.

“This is why in Saudi Arabia, for example, where these measures are implemented, the crime rate is very, very, low,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

Ahhhhhhhh, OK.

In a documentary to be screened on Channel 4 next month, entitled Divorce: Sharia Style, Dr Hasan goes further, advocating a sharia system for Britain. “If sharia law is implemented, then you can turn this country into a haven of peace because once a thief’s hand is cut off nobody is going to steal,” he says.

“Once, just only once, if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all.

“We want to offer it to the British society. If they accept it, it is for their good and if they don’t accept it they’ll need more and more prisons.”

“…it is for their good…”, sounds like socialism to me.

These sentiments, and the vast cultural gulf they expose, alarm many in the West and go to the heart of the debate about the level of integration among Muslims living in Britain and their acceptance of British values.

Dr Hasan’s cause is not helped by the fact that, last December, he was named by the Policy Exchange think tank as being linked to a mosque, the Al-Tawhid in Leyton, east London, which was accused of propagating extremist literature – although the evidence for this has since been challenged.

Many are uncomfortable with the idea of linking sharia to civil law in Britain. In The Sunday Telegraph earlier this month, Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, wrote: “Attempts have been made to impose an “Islamic” character on certain areas? There is pressure already to relate aspects of the sharia to civil law in Britain. To some extent this is already true of arrangements for sharia-compliant banking but have the far-reaching implications of this been fully considered?”

No. The Law of Unintended Consequences will be prosecuted to its fullest extent.

There are also issues around the Islamic approach to equality and human rights that make integration with British law problematic and contentious.

No! But all of those countries are members of the United Nations and have signed up to the UN Charter.

Sharia judges in this country deal mainly with divorce – khula. In Islamic law, a husband can divorce his wife in the presence of two witnesses without having to go through an official system.

He can even merely utter the word “talaq” – meaning “to release” – to gain a divorce, whether or not the wife accepts it. She has no such right and must go through the processes of sharia, entreating judges to grant her divorce.

Never let it be said that there are not some attractive ideas in Islam!

“The introduction of sharia law in Britain raises complex questions, as some of its basic tenets are incompatible with the fundamental principles of our liberal democracy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” says Baroness Cox, a leading human rights campaigner.

“There is no equality before the law between men and women and between Muslims and non-Muslims; and there is no freedom to choose and change religion.”

That’s a pretty amazing statement coming from a human rights campaigner given they spend almost all of their time bagging the US, Israel, capitalism and big business.

Ibrahim Mogra, chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain’s inter-faith committee, admits that to non-Muslims some laws may seem harsh on women. Those who are married to a man with a number of wives can be treated badly, for instance. But he insists that sharia is an equitable system.

“It may mean that a woman married under Islamic law has no legal rights, but the husband is required to pay for everything in marriage and in the case of a divorce all the woman’s belongings are hers to keep.”

She has no rights but he has to pay? Well that’s OK then. Not.

In fact, Sheikh Mogra argues that sharia in Britain would give rights to women. “A Muslim man can take a second wife under sharia law and treat her as he wants, knowing that she has no legal rights in Britain. It means that she is regarded as no more than a mistress and he can walk out on her when he wants.”

Critics warn, however, that in giving even parts of sharia law official status, Britain would be associating itself with a system that in many ways was intolerable according to Western values.

Professor John Marks, author of The West, Islam and Islamism, points out that apostates from Islam can suffer severe punishment, even honour killings.

“There are more violent cases that are being related to people who choose to convert from Islam,” he says.

A survey by Policy Exchange found that 36 per cent of young British Muslims believed that a Muslim who converted to another religion should be “punished by death”.

I reckon the other 64 percent didn’t answer honestly.

“This clearly goes against the laws of our country. If they come to live in this country they should live by our laws,” says Prof Marks.

Haras Rafiq, the executive director of the Sufi Muslim Council, points out that Muslims are anyway divided on the correct interpretation of sharia law. He is particularly critical of those who support the strict penal law.

“Things like stoning are being used as a deterrent, but this is reinterpreting the Koran in a rigid and extreme way that misses the spirit of what is being said.”

Perhaps the strongest argument in favour of some form of recognition of sharia in Britain is that it would help to regulate a system that operates beyond the law.

The Government has expressed concern about imams who may be using the Koran to justify fatwas that clash with British law.

Leaders of four major British Muslim groups published a government-backed report in 2006 that accepted that many imams were not qualified to give guidance to alienated young people.

They agreed to set up a watchdog aimed at tackling extremism and monitoring mosques, but Yunes Teinaz, a former adviser to the London Central Mosque, warns that one of the greatest problems is the imams who arrive in Britain unable to speak English, and with no regard for British law.

“The absence of anyone regulating the mosques and sharia courts means that they can act as a law unto themselves, issuing fatwas that breach people’s human rights because they have no knowledge of the law,” he says. “They can take people’s money despite having no proper qualifications, but worse they can harm the communities that they are in.”

Zareen Roohi Ahmed, the chief executive of the British Muslim Forum – one of the four groups on the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body – concedes that sharia courts in Britain are still poorly organised.

“They need development – the government should be supporting them to deliver their service more effectively,” she says.

“If sharia courts can be supported to be more professionally run and to have female involvement as well on the decision-making panels, then I think they can work quite effectively and meet the needs of Muslims.”

She suggests that existing systems need to be supported and a wider range of scholars and academics involved to put more thought into making the rules and regulations applicable to today’s society.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, points out that during British rule in India, Muslim personal law was allowed to operate and sees no reason why it wouldn’t work now.

I do. The genius of the British Empire was its ability to get a good balance between letting the indigenous cultures continue while at the same time applying British law and justice. In the UK these days they seem to run as far away as they can from making judgements and kow tow to foreign cultures and standards.

“Sharia encompasses all aspects of Muslim life including personal law,” he says. “In tolerant, inclusive societies all faith groups enjoy some acceptance of their religious rules in matters of their personal life.

“I am sure some day our society here will also be more at ease with its Muslim community and see the benefit of allowing such rights to those who prefer this.”

Back in the court in Leyton, the plight of Amnah is typical of the challenges facing Muslim women in Britain who are seeking to abide by the traditional Islamic teaching, but find themselves victims of the system as a result.

The husband she seeks to divorce is untraceable, but she married him in a purely Islamic ceremony so now she must fight to gain her freedom.

She met him on an Islamic matrimonial website, then discovered that he wasn’t everything he had claimed to be.

“I found out he was stealing money from me,” she says, adding that her husband had lied about having a job and a visa for the UK.

“So how come you married such a person who is not of your standard?” Dr Hasan asks quietly, leafing through the notes of her case.

“I made a mistake,” Amnah says, simply. “Basically this man lied to me from the beginning until the end. Not only did he fool me, he fooled my family.”

Despite Amnah’s protestations and questioning, Dr Hasan goes on to explain that the methods and rules set out in the Koran are for very practical reasons.

A recently divorced wife must wait three months to remarry to give enough time for her ex-husband to know that she is not carrying his child. “This is for all,” he says.

“There is no exception to this rule, in the sharia there is no exception, you have to accept it.”

He takes down a copy of the Koran from a shelf and points to the chapter and verse that spells out the lengths of iddat – the waiting period – in detailed terms.

There are different lengths for widows, for wives whose husbands have authorised the divorce and for wives whose husbands have not. There is even a rule for pre-pubescent girls.

For Amnah, it is clear that the answer has thrown up further problems for her. “Another quick question,” she says. “Because I’m going through a divorce now, is it right for me to have found someone or should I have waited?”

The man may not, Dr Hasan replies, clearly state his wish to marry her – he may subtly make his intentions known, as in “once you are free from marriage, remember me”, but no, not propose. That is not allowed in the Koran.

Amnah thanks him with deference, and leaves. Coming through this religious court is the only way she will be truly at liberty to remarry but, for now, she must wait.

She has true liberty now but chooses to be chained to Islamic rules.

There are fair comparisons to be made between Islamic divorce laws and those of the Catholic church. However, Islam can only be judged by the actions of its advocates and practitioners and on that level it’s no surprise that reasonable, thinking people in the West would reject any attempts to integrate Islamic law into their own.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Islam, United Kingdom

>On capitalism, environmentalism and a bit on California

January 21, 2008 1 comment

>John Robson from The Ottawa Citizen has a nice piece, Capitalists saving the planet, in which he describes the many ways that capitalism is really the main driver of environmental advancement.

This will come as a surprise to many committed greenies who see capitalism as the cause of all of the world’s evils and especially the current Climate Change Bogeyman. The mistake they make is to see capitalism and Big Business as one and the same thing rather than understanding capitalism as being the enabler of not only business but also the advancer of society, as well.

In a recent post I described how anti-progress economic systems such as socialism cannot innovate, as there are no venture capitalists willing to risk their money on developing new products. A Sony Playstation or your mobile phone or your wide-screen TV or the myriad of other products are all the result of the investment evolution enabled by capitalist economics.

So back to the main point. Capitalism creates a competitive environment in which the company that can bring a product to market at the lowest cost survives while the others either die or lower their own cost. A major cost of manufacturing comes in the form of energy. If companies can lower the amount of energy consumed in either the manufacturing of the product and/or the operating of the product (in the case of electronic devices) then they have a competitive advantage. In the process, any impact on the environment in the manufacture or use of the product is reduced.

It’s opera. My wife is listening to opera while jogging. The heroine will, one assumes, come to a tragic end. But the batteries won’t, because she’s using a digital player. On which, I trust, I can record the sound of environmentalists applauding the technological advances capitalism brings.

…Permit me, then, to wipe it off deftly by pointing out that self-interest is what’s driving this greener technology. Most of us value the environmental benefits to some extent. But for all of us, digital technology means going green without suffering. Which will displease some in the organic-hair-shirt crowd.

It will upset others that companies are succeeding where governments often fail. The European Union’s environment commissioner just admitted that biofuels promote rainforest destruction. Legally mandated efficient light bulbs may give some people skin problems. The failure of governments to build nuclear plants has contributed massively to greenhouse-gas production. But over there in the private sector, it’s just progress progress progress. Wretched, isn’t it?

Continuing the theme is Glenn Milne in The Australian:

The great thing about visiting California is that it gives you a sense of where Australia is probably headed. In the context of the climate change debate, this assertion stands, only more so.

So to come here and see some of the political and economic hurdles that are emerging out of the market forces unleashed by global warming, and the political response to it, is to understand that while Kevin Rudd still basks in the warm afterglow of ratifying Kyoto, just a little way down the track substantial domestic challenges loom.

Remember, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is something of an environmental pin-up boy for Rudd. During the election campaign, Rudd repeatedly used Schwarzenegger’s embrace of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2050 to justify his own approach to target-based policy.

The thrust of Rudd’s argument was that if California, one of the biggest and most successful economies in the world, could adopt such an approach, why couldn’t Australia?

…Schwarzenegger’s thinking is crudely simple and effective. He believes that Californians want urgent action on the climate-change front and he feels compelled to respond to this democratic impulse.

The strategy is to set mandated targets and then for the Government to simply get out of the way.

In other words, Schwarzenegger is using the sheer mass of the Californian economy and, critically, its venture capital base to crash through any resistance on the climate change front.

Again, the key point is that governments can’t achieve the same level of positive progress as private enterprise and financial incentive.

Milne does get a bit carried away, though, in his description of California’s economy. Its liberal policies have seen it go through completely unnecessary financial difficulties and it is currently many billions of dollars in debt. That doesn’t seem like much of a model for new Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd to aspire to.

As usual, the great Victor Davis Hanson gets it right:

Our poor state is $14 billion plus now in the red, and the Governator has promised no new taxes, wise inasmuch as our sales and income taxes are already among the highest in the country. The University of California system is panicking and sending out emails to us alums, to march en masse on Sacramento for redress!

But lost in the furor is any self-reflection, such as why would UC Davis recently pay John Edwards, multimillionaire trial lawyer, $50,000 plus to give a brief lecture on poverty? Such questions are never answered, much less raised, since the problem is always framed as a matter of a shortage of income, never a surfeit of unnecessary expenditure.

We in California, given the past budget implosions, know the script to follow. We expect that police, fire, prisons, parks, etc. will be threatened with cut-backs and closure while the state-funded “Center for this” and the “Department of that” will remain untouched, since cutting the essential while protecting the politically-correct superfluous is the only way to scare the voter and achieve higher taxes.

At some point we Californians should ask ourselves, how we inherited a state with near perfect weather, the world’s richest agriculture, plentiful timber, minerals, and oil, two great ports at Los Angeles and Oakland, a natural tourist industry from Carmel to Yosemite, industries such as Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and aerospace — and serially managed to turn all of that into the nation’s largest penal system, periodic near bankruptcy, and sky-high taxes.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Economics, Politics

>Sunday night rock ‘n’ roll

January 20, 2008 Leave a comment

>Slade are an English glam rock and hard rock band. Slade were one of the most recognisable acts of the glam rock movement and were, at their peak, the most commercially popular band in the UK. They are well known for the deliberate misspelling of their song titles and for the song “Merry Xmas Everybody” (released December 1973), now one of the most iconic Christmas pop songs in the United Kingdom.

One of the most acclaimed British Rock bands of the 1970s, Slade are especially remembered for their brash songwriting and energetic live performances. Today, the band is often regarded as an obvious pre-cursor to late 1970s British Punk (Sex Pistols, The Clash).

The group dominated the British charts during the early 1970s. During the height of their success, Slade out-performed their chart rivals Wizzard, Sweet, T.Rex, Suzi Quatro, Mud, Smokie, Gary Glitter, Roxy Music and David Bowie. In the UK, they achieved 12 top five hits from 1971 to 1974, six of which topped the charts. In total, Slade had 17 top 20 hits between 1971 and 1976 including six #1s, three #2s and two #3s. No other UK act of the period enjoyed such consistency in the UK top 40 and Slade actually came the closest to emulating The Beatles’ 22 top ten records in a single decade (1960s). Three of their singles entered the charts at #1 and they sold more singles in the UK than any other group of the 1970s.

The very first album I owned was Sladest. I pestered my mother until she bought it for me and she actually bet me $10 that I wouldn’t like the album in 10 years. I collected. I still rate Slade Alive as one of the top 10 live rock ‘n’ roll albums ever made.

Cum on Feel the Noize

Get Down and Get With It

Mama We’re All Crazy Now

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Music

>The ACLU hits moral rock bottom, digs

January 18, 2008 Leave a comment

>We in Australia are extremely lucky that we do not have an equivalent to the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU. If I put together a top 10 list of organisations that hurt America in a similar format to my top 10 institutions that ruin the world then I’d be hard pressed to come up with one to beat the ACLU for top spot, though their education unions would be a contender.

The main reason that the US has such a litigious society – one that imposes a burden equivalent to a tax on the economy of about 8% – is that it does not have a loser pays law such as we have in Australia and other countries like the UK have. This allows motivated organisations with deep pockets to undertake frivolous action against individuals and small companies in order to intimidate and/or financially destroy them with no fear of being sued for damages.

The largest contributor to the Democratic Party is the union movement followed by trial lawyers. The Republicans favour a move to user pays. Unsurprisingly, the Democrats favour the status quo.

You may recall US Senator Larry Craig who was caught soliciting sex in a men’s toilet at the Minneapolis Airport. His hilarious defence for his right foot touching the foot of the man in the cubicle next to him – who turned out, inconveniently, to be an undercover federal agent – was that he had a “wide stance” when sitting on the can.

If you’ve ever been in a public facility at the same time as people are having sex then you know it’s quite confronting. To the ACLU, though, sex in public toilets is apparently quite OK. These guys must have run out of things to sue people for.

Extremism: The latest in the endless series of outrages from the ACLU is its claim that anonymous sex in public bathrooms enjoys constitutional protection. What we need protection from are cunning ACLU lawyers.

Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig has an unlikely new friend in his fight against charges of lewd conduct in a Minneapolis Airport men’s room last summer. The American Civil Liberties Union came to his defense this week, arguing that “the Minnesota law under which he was arrested is unconstitutionally broad.”

The organization characterizes solicitation for sex as “constitutionally protected free speech” and cites court rulings concluding that “a closed bathroom stall is a private location.”

At the same time, the ACLU claims it “is in no way advocating sex in public bathrooms.” But “sex in public restrooms” is what ends up being protected in the world according to the ACLU.

The ACLU may also be “in no way advocating” terrorist attacks, but it is fighting the U.S. government’s terrorist surveillance program and the CIA’s terrorist interrogation program in the federal courts, both of which have prevented terrorist attacks. Those lawsuits, in fact, aid and abet terrorists.

If you’re a parent taking your child into a public restroom, the ACLU says tough luck: You just have to put up with the “free speech” taking place in the “private location” of “a closed bathroom stall” because “the police have no business spying on people in places where there is an expectation of privacy.”

Even the federal government’s advance planning in the case of a bird flu pandemic, an attempt to save as many lives as possible, is now subject to ACLU attack.

Its extremist lawyers are alarmed by an executive order in October directing the Department of Health and Human Services to set up a task force to plan for terrorism, disease outbreaks or natural disasters, utilizing Pentagon medical research resources.

“Pandemic planning today tends to emphasize mandatory vaccination and forced treatment,” the ACLU complained at a press conference on Monday.

The ACLU is so wrapped up in its crazed, false notions about the Constitution that lifesaving common sense gets lost — and its lawyers will stop at nothing to impose their radical views on the American people.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Uncategorized

>Mr Gloom Boom Doom’s views on bubbles

January 17, 2008 Leave a comment

>Marc Faber is one of the most miserable, curmudgeonly market analysts in the world. He publishes the Gloom, Boom & Doom report, which has a strong track record at predicting downturns.

It’s interesting to look back a year and review what his thoughts were.

In this discussion on bubbles he points out that credit expansion is potentially a problem…which the sub prime mortgage situation proves.

My view is that the Fed will probably reduce interest rates by 0.75% and that will prop up failing loan providers for a while. I expect there to be a market correction of about 20% and that the US dollar will weaken by about that amount also over the next couple of years.

Part 1

Part 2

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Economics