Saturday, August 31, 2002

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE, WHY NOT STAY A WHILE.

Earlier this year a close friend lost his father to a stroke, and as the least challenged of his family, he stepped up to give the eulogy. A few days later when we were getting good and smashed, he told me how hard it was to write, and advised me that it was a good idea to have it ready ahead of time.

Last year my father was diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer. Within weeks, he went from a healthy, vigorous man, to someone with two brain operations to his credit, and a doctor telling him to go home and die.

Lucky for him, we met Dr Charlie Teo, and his Magic Weed Whacker. Charlie went in with a grudge and a desert spoon, and got most of the cancer. We know that it will come back, but Dad’s had two clear MRI scans since then. After being given six weeks to live, he’s still with us 18 months later.

So I thought I might take the advice, and put some things on record. This is not a eulogy. But there is no denying that my appreciation of him has sharpened, and as I said on another day, the things that go unsaid are often those that most need to be told.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DAD.

What do you say about the most important man, in a man’s life? Is there any aspect of my life where his shadow does not fall, where his voice is not heard, where his advice does not operate? How much of my own marriage is his? My fatherhood?

There isn’t a clear answer. I know that I am the man my father made me, and I can’t say exactly why. Our lives have taken utterly divergent paths; my values are to a large part not his. But how different are we? After all, the only thing I have ever been sure of is that I would be married with children. Like my father. And his values are my values. Look after your family. Honesty. Fair dealing. Honour. The value of work.

In my entire life, I have never heard that man utter a word against his wife. Never. Neither has Mum. Other couples might think it’s funny to run their spouses down at parties, but not those two. Still married after 45 years, droughts, floods (this is Australia, you can get them in the same month), broke, flush, kids, kids moved out.

Dad only made it to sixth grade, leaving school to work on the farm. That’s how it was done then. The pity of it is that life as a farmer means no time to study, no time to pursue interests. And since he is one of the smartest people I have ever met, it makes the loss deeper. Through high school, university and four careers, there has never been an aspect of my life he was not interested in hearing about. I wish I had always shown him the same politeness.

Without him, my wife would not love me as she does, and hopefully will continue. Without him, my children would not be the smart, happy, well-behaved, interesting small people they are, and hopefully will continue to be. I’m a better man, a better husband, a better father for his influence, and safer for his love.

I love you Dad. Never said it to his face, maybe never will. But I do. I’m glad you’re here, and I’ll take what you can spare of the time you have.

So happy Father’s Day to Kevin Wright, of Finley, NSW, Australia.
Husband To Margaret.
Father to Michael, Paul, Mark and Lesley.
Father in law to Erin, Judy and Lisa
Grandfather to Jayne, Simon, Leah, Iain, James, Kate, Matthew, Sam, Jessica, Cassidy, Nicholas and Olivia.

How far a man must see when he stands over this?

What does this headline tell you?
Saddam's dark star rising

Or this:
On the streets of Baghdad, the people are defiant, resilient and, writes Paul McGeough, ready to stand up to George W. Bush.

Or the front page teaser
Why The Iraqis StillBack The Dictator

Herald writer Paul McGeogh tools around Baghdad to gauge popular support for Saddam Hussein, and reports that the Iraqis are ready to resist the invaders. Who is there to back up this interesting claim? We get some words from a backstreet mechanic, a millionaire importer, and a former Ambassador that even McGeogh defines as “almost a spokesman for the regime”.
The mechanic, Hisham Ahmed Mohammed, spends his time cannabilising car parts to keep the remaining civilian cars on the road. How does he feel about the coming war?
Mohammed was indifferent: "Another war is normal for us; there is always another war, but we will just work through it - people will need their cars fixed." And Hassan the radiator man was pragmatic: "We have been in these circumstances before, so we are used to it. And we now have four factories that produce radiator parts, so it will not affect my business

Damn! These Iraqis are a patriotic bunch. Sounds like Hisham there is ready to enlist tomorrow!
On to the next happy camper, “Faris El-Hadi, a wealthy importer of home appliances”
"The Americans don't care about me - they just want our oil and our minerals. I tell you as an Iraqi citizen who is not a party member that I can disagree with the Government on how it deals with agriculture or education or the economy, but I will defend myself and my country against any foreigner."

I can tell you, as an Iraqi citizen who has made a shitload of money running the sanctions blockade, and safe in the knowledge that the extensive security apparatus will never trace my words back to me, that I can disagree if I want to, but I happen to fully support anything the Glorious Leader does.

In an interesting take on human mortality, perhaps explaining the propensity for purges shown in the Iraqi command structure, we have this from Dr A.K. Al-Hashimi, a former Iraqi ambassador
The US will have to pay for the war itself and few other countries will give them soldiers to be send to die before the Americans. Maybe the British? Perhaps Australia?
"But they need to know that every Iraqi hopes to stand before these soldiers. Think of the hate that has built up over 12 years - the Iraqis will kill them three times each."

You know. Like they did last time.

McGeogh’s evidence for the gathering strength in the Iraqi economy is even more specious.
A BMW or a Mercedes-Benz? On Tuesday night, the Herald counted 45 of them in 10 minutes on the ritzy shopping strip on Arasat Street, where many of the imported cars kept their engines idling and air-conditioning running as waiters raced out from ice-cream parlours and restaurants to get their take-away orders.
Scotch or Irish whiskey? Saddam has been tightening up on Muslim observance, but his faith campaign is not being allowed to get in the way of a good drink. Cuban cigars? Which cigarettes - Benson & Hedges, Marlboro or Kent? These smugglers and scam merchants will get you the computer parts the United Nations has banned or that bolt of cloth that doesn't qualify as a humanitarian need.

Because El-Hadi the importer says
"The Iraqi Government also is importing Mercedes-Benzes for government officials and senior military officers.”

So the dirt-poor Iraqis watch the Government and Military elite tool around in new luxury cars, live in purpose-built gated cities, treat their children in restricted hospitals, and eat all they like. They don’t mind this, because
For the elites and those who serve them, defeating the sanctions is almost a national sport. Those who suffer by them are so consumed by the struggle of their existence that they are grateful to Saddam for their monthly food ration. They have neither the energy nor the brain space to think about a different life.

Not only that, they appreciate efforts by their leader to use their starvation as a bargaining chip:
they watch with admiration as Saddam and his ministers engage in what they see as Iraq's use of sanctions against the world, such as its threat to cut wheat imports from Australia and Baghdad's month-long boycott on oil sales to the US earlier this year as a protest against Washington's Middle East policy.

When we tried to reach the Iraqi people for their reaction, they were unavailable. However, a Government spokesman insisted the Iraqi man in the street was prepared to fight to the last man to protect Saddam’s many necessary pleasure palaces.

So what do we have? A sub-editor with a barrow to push, who drops in a headline that reflects nothing of the article, in fact misrepresents the bulk of the text. McGeogh interviews a mechanic, a smuggler and a mouthpiece, and gee whiz, two out of three support the death machine on which their lives and well-being depend. The other one is “indifferent”.

McGeogh better hope he’s out of town by the time the Iraqis wave the Americans in. Or they might want a sharp word with him.

To quote Tex , some things come pre-Fisked. A particularly fragrant example waddles my way via Damien Penny
.
Environmentalist Laments Introduction of Electricity
You know you’re in for a ride when it starts out this way.
"There is a lot of quality to be had in poverty," and the introduction of electricity is "destroying" the cultures of the world's poor, according to a U.S. environmentalist,

Words fail to encapsulate what I think of this person, but the image of V.I. Lenin making omelettes goes part of the way there. It’s almost comforting to hope this is a troll job.
Smith decried the introduction of electricity to the poor residents of the developing world.

"I don't think a lot of electricity is a good thing. It is the fuel that powers a lot of multi-national imagery," Smith said.

So it’s better for African children to die young, choking on burning buffalo shit fumes, than be subjected to the horrors of Nike ads. Because we in the West know the only thing that electricity delivers is crass commercialism. Certainly not power to run a medical steriliser, or a remote education program, or even reading lights. Yes, far better off without it. Run along back to your short, but so very authentic lives.
Smith lamented that "people who used to spend their days and evenings in the streets playing music on their own instruments and sewing clothing for their neighbours on foot peddle powered sewing machines" lost their culture with the advent of electricity.

Yes indeed. I’ll sit here and type in my comfortable home in my nice stable country, leading the charge to chain you, your children, and your children’s children to a bloody foot-treadle sewing machine, that has nothing to do with your culture, but I think it’s darling.
Smith challenged Americans to give up their own modern conveniences.
"The real question is what personal conveniences and self indulgences are you willing to give up in order to stop destroying the planet?" he asked rhetorically.

Let’s just check what this wingding does for a living:
Gar Smith, editor of the Earth Island Institute's online magazine The Edge,

And on this little revelation, The Good Lady Wife raises a subtle, yet intriguing point: how much does this smug bastard depend on his protectees not being able to find out what he’s up to? Is he worried that they might get wind of all his good work on their behalf? Even worse, they might let the rest of the world know just what they think of his efforts.

I do love the way that woman’s mind works.

There is a moment of sanity from Patrick Moore, head of the environmental advocacy group Greenspirit.
"What a terrible thing to say. It's just so obviously stupid -- this romanticization of poverty, where people can't afford to fix their teeth, can't afford decent nutrition, can't afford proper health care, can't afford education," stated Moore.

"What does he think -- that some illiterate with her teeth falling out in the mountains is a good thing?"

Hear, hear! Sound, that man.
Moore now views the environmental movement as having lost its original mission of ecological protection and is now occupied with encouraging class envy and anti-capitalist rhetoric.

"The environmentalists try to inject guilt into people for consuming, as if consuming by itself causes destruction to the environment. There is no truth to that. You have the wealthiest countries on earth with the best looked after environment" he explained.

This is explains why Greenpeace wants to hunt Moore for sport.

Know what I’d like to do? I’d like to round up a bunch of 100 or so locals from Uganda. Show them all a video of how this arsehole Smith lives, eats, works and gets his health care. Then stake the sonofabitch out in the village green, along with Arundhati Roy, so he can explain to the mothers and fathers what a favour he is doing them by denying them even the choice of a better life. Then we can watch while a few of the colourful natives explain reality to him, in a culturally appropriate way. Involving sharp sticks.

TIPS FOR A HAPPY MARRIAGE, #19

There are no circumstances, ever, that will justify you denigrating your wife in public. Say what you must in private, but in public your attitude towards her relects part of her character to others. In other words, people will take on part of your hostility. And you look bad.

So take it up in private. Plus the drive home will give you the chance to think before you open your mouth.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Steven den Beste produces good work like the rest of us would like to. He makes it look easy, and can hold the attention through some important work.

This time he extends but softens my argument that Western Society is superior to others, and we should not shrink from holding it up as an example.
Their mantra is that all cultures are equally valid, and when someone from another culture acts in a way we don't understand, that for us to condemn it is wrong. We have to understand it within the context of their culture, and accept that their ways are just as good as our ways, even if they're different.
That's a fine philosophy stated in the abstract. But as the details of life in the Islamic world have come to light, there's been a deafening silence from such people about the sheer brutality and barbarity of some of their customs, particularly in how they treat their women.

Steve then dissects female circumcision, death by stoning and public beheading. Why are these things ignored, in favour of bitching about a war against Iraq?
The reason they ignore the sheer barbarism of treatment of women in Islam is that to acknowledge it would require them to admit that this is a place where Western culture has actually mostly gotten it right, albeit only recently and pushed in that direction kicking and screaming. If one is a female human, one's life and prospects are far better in Europe or Canada or the US than anywhere else.

Where to from here?
It means admitting that they would be better off becoming more like us. The reason they can't accept that Sharia is wrong is because the only alternative is adoption of one of the many descendants of Roman Law, originally created by dead white males.

Don't you love that phrase, "dead white males"? Like Thomas Jefferson. Like Martin Luther.

If cultural imperialism gets up your nose, try to think of theocracies as a disease, and secular democracy as the cure. Do we really have the right to withhold treatment?

For the many new visitors that have come through in the past few days, read Steve's essay. Send me an email, let's take the temperature.

To the Google searcher that wound up here via "blogger south africa gay", meet me for drinks later, with a view to friendship, walks in the rain, and what the hell is going on here?
The New Republic has gone register-only, but it's still worth it. This article is a thorough dismantling of the ever-popular quagmire arguments.
I met a Baghdad Arab in a restaurant in the northeastern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah and asked him about Iraqi military morale. "Do you really think my son wants to be in uniform?" he asked. "Or anyone in his unit? He hears about life outside of Iraq. That's what he wants to live, not what he wants to fight."

There is simply no reason to believe that the Iraqi army will do anything other than repeat their 1991 effort, and surrender or run off in droves. Indications are strong the morale is far worse that 1991, if people are resisting the draft in a terror state that shoots deserters out of hand.
In April 1995 Saddam dismissed his army chief of staff after a mass defection of soldiers to the Iraqi opposition; some army units saw defection rates of 30 percent. Last summer, after Saddam ordered compulsory military training for boys between ages twelve and 17, many Iraqi families tried to hide their sons. Just last month opposition sources reported that Saddam's older son, Uday, has launched a campaign to hunt down deserters-who reportedly constitute up to 10 percent of Iraqi conscripts, according to military police statistics, despite the fact that the penalty for desertion can be death.

Uday, it must be remembered, is the mad dog son that beat a bodyguard to death. Perhaps all those protesters pushing the "vengeance for Daddy" line on Bush One and Two, might like to remember who is waiting in the wings to take over in Iraq.

Here is an angle that no-one else is considering:
Close to one in every five Iraqis, after all, lives in exile-having fled Saddam's regime-and more than 700,000 have perished in wars or government purges since Saddam formally assumed Iraq's presidency in 1979. That means most Iraqi families have a murdered or exiled family member or friend.


There's lots more about the crumbling state of the Iraqi war machine, instances of revolt in the army, the Republican Guard, and even in Saddam's own Tikrit clan.

There is also the question of urban warfare.
As Patrick Clawson, editor of the forthcoming study Iraq After Saddam, comments, "Urban warfare is a specialized skill which takes a lot of training to learn. And I know of no evidence that Saddam has allowed Iraqi soldiers into the cities to practice this skill. Indeed, given how paranoid Saddam is about allowing his troops anywhere near Baghdad, I would be surprised to see Iraqi soldiers practicing how to fight street by street." Egypt's former Chief of Staff General Salah Halaby put it more bluntly earlier this month: "The Iraqi army has no chance whatsoever to stand steadfast and will fall like a castle of sand."


One more time, for the dummies: 30 day war, end to end.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

This won't hurt a bit.
LEFTIST THINK TANK DEFIES EXPECTATIONS: FINDS ARSE WITH ONLY ONE HAND, COMPASS AND INSTRUCTIONS.

Off to the UK Telegraph for the revelation that The Catalyst Forum
has found that there is no permanent underclass.
The pamphlet quoted figures showing that 39 per cent of children were in the lowest part of the income distribution for at least one year from 1996 to 1999, but that fewer than half of those stayed in that poverty bracket for the whole four years.

This directly contradicts the UK's chief architect of their welfare policy, who believes:
that a third of Britain's children were born into poverty and that "if we do nothing, these children will not only be born poor, but they will live poor and die poor".

There is a permanent underclass. It's comprised of those with a vested interest in maintaining the poor in a state of permanent victimhood. Any attempt to give responsibility (power) to the poorer members of society is always met with accusations that it is "punishing the victims".

In the UK and Australia, we have the insane situation that poverty is defined in relative terms. In our case, it's a percentage of average male weekly earnings. This has the bizarre effect that when a minimum wage rise is granted, overall poverty increases. If Bill Gates moved to Australia, poverty would increase. Near as I can tell, the only way to reduce relative poverty is to actually reduce incomes across the board.

I guess the poor really always be with us.

Thanks to Iain Murray for the alert.

WHO'D A THUNK IT? UN GUY SAYS THE UN IS THE WAY FORWARD!

Former Ambassador to the United Nations Michael Holbrooke wants the US to get a new resolution from the Security Council before going into Iraq.
few Americans today understand the enormous force, both moral and political, that a Security Council resolution authorising military intervention carries in the rest of the world.

Why is this relevant?
Such a resolution would provide those nations (Turkey, Britain) that want to support an effort to remove Saddam with a vital legitimising cover for action, and put great pressure on those (Germany, France, Saudi Arabia) that are wavering or opposed.

The worry for Britain, Germany and France is not the lack of a UN resolution; it is the opportunistic anti-Americanism of the Left. These people were virulently opposed to the first Gulf War, regardless of the Coalition, UN resolutions, anything. Why any difference today?

The problem for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and anyone else on the Arab Street is similarly not the lack of a new UN Resolution. It's the mullahs and radicals that constantly preach that their poverty is not their own fault, it is the fault of the Infidel, and if we could just go back to the glory days Caliph Doo-Dad, all would be well.
"Kill the Infidel! Burn their cities! Plough the earth with salt!"
"Imam, you should read this."
"Change of plans, O Mighty Warriors of Islam! The UN Security Council says it's all right to attack our Islamic brothers in Baghdad! All hail the wonderful US! Who wants ice cream?"

The big question is what will happen if the Council does not see fit to pass the resolution?
So the betting here is that effective US diplomacy would result in a Security Council resolution strong enough to lay the basis for immediate military action if Iraq violated it, as it has violated previous resolutions. If, however, such a resolution cannot be achieved, the Administration will be in a much stronger position to garner international and domestic support for action than if it had never tried at all.

So the US should ask for an umpire's decision, accept it only if it goes their way, and this will make them look better? But the basis for the whole theory is this:
The road to Baghdad runs through the UN Security Council. This simple truth must be recognised by the Bush Administration if it wants the international support that is essential for success in Iraq.

But there is no explanation why it is "essential". We know damn well it is not needed militarily, so the support must be of a diplomatic kind, and available after the fact.

It reminds me of a documentary on Antarctica that showed the Emperor penguins heading off for a feed. They gather at the edge of the ice, afraid to go in because there might be a leopard seal in the water. After a while the mob builds up, and one falls in. If that penguin makes it out safe, a few more take the plunge, then some more, until finally there is a full-on feeding frenzy.

My bet is that Europe and the Islamic countries will quickly switch their rhetoric to the position of demanding a say in the administration of the new Iraq. The Europeans will see a new market, new influence in the Middle East and falling oil prices. The Arabs will see unlimited pumping by Iraq, uppity Kurds, and the increasing Shi'ite influence.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

For the "Taxes Good, Business Bad" crowd, some lightly rendered economics from Lileks, in his Parable of the [building of the] Stairs
He would argue that I had an obligation to pay that money in taxes, as my Fair Share, my way of Giving Back. Well, here’s how I deviously kept the money from those who truly need it. I ended up going to:

1. The independent businessman who runs the stairs company
2. The three young men he hired to do the labor
3. The company that rented the loader, the haul-away bins, the giganto jackhammer and other sundry equipment to the independent businessman
4. The family-owned company that sold the stone
5. The family-owned quarry that sold the stone to #4
6. Self-employment taxes for #1.
7. FICA taxes for #2
8. Taxes paid on income by 3, 4, 5
End result: new steps - and additional taxes paid by me when the next assessment takes improvements into account

Pretty clever, eh? What a scam!

Some people think that the economic activity described in 1-9 is inferior to the economic impact of signing over the amount to the state. I don’t. So you don’t think anyone should pay taxes, then. Oh, go away. I haven’t said, and will never say, anything of the sort. I just tired of nice smiling fellow who come to the door, asks for my vote, and then treats me like a kulak who’s hoarding grain in the midst of famine.


This Guy should be writing for The Onion.
These are excerpts of longer articles, because I Know You Want More
McDonald's To Launch Restaurants for Protestors

Following yet another lawsuit, McDonald's Corporation announced today it intends to launch restaurants specifically for protestors.

"We looked at the demographics and it just made sense," according the news release. "Protestors are everywhere and they're very vocal about what they like and what they don't. In essence, they're the ultimate target market.

Or this:
Saddam Demands U.S. Battle Plans

Iraqi dictator-for-life Saddam Hussein petitioned the United Nations today for a complete copy of U.S. battle plans for any future attack on his oil-rich, highly-literate, deeply-religious, peaceful, modern nation.

"How are we going to prepare our people for the mother of all victories if we have nothing but speculative reports from CNN and The New York Times?" he asked through a spokesman, who had a wooden head and sat perched on Hussein's left knee during the news conference.

And my favourite
Slogan Chanters Sway Senator's Vote

WASHINGTON D.C. -- An unnamed U.S. Senator revealed today that he had changed his vote on a key piece of legislation after hearing a handful of protestors chanting a slogan near the Senate office building.

"At first I just ignored them, like I do every day," the Senator said. "But that clever little rhyming slogan kept coming back to me...and the rhythmic way they were chanting it just kept pounding in my brain."



Scoot over to The Edge of England's Sword for an excellent essay by our very own Ozblogger Scott Wickstein.

Scott is looking at the concept of the Anglosphere, and the benefits it brings. I'm on the record that Western Society is better than others, and I can see the Anglosphere as a large subset of the West, with many unique characteristics. Shared values, shared institutions, and the priceless heritage of English Common Law. This point is put well by comments reader Bill Bennett
The Anglosphere is among other things a zone in which the transaction costs for the transmission of memes are especially low. This means that ideas and attitudes are shared quickly throughout Anglosphere information space. This also means that bad memes spread just as fast as good ones; e.g., the globalization of antiglobalization rhetoric.

Scott introduces the "network Commonwealth" of the Anglosphere, with increasing free trade, and sharing of standards.

Congratulations Scott on fine piece of work.

Don Arthur has drawn many strands together, showing how the Left has morphed into the forces of reaction and conservatism.
Australia's far left are now more into preserving things than they are into reforming them. Apart from a few symbolic issues such as gay marriage and drug law reform the thrust of the left's agenda is about protecting Australia's traditional institutions from people who think like John Hewson. The rationalists want to demolish the industrial relations system - the left wants to preserve it. The rationalists want to reorganize the social security system - the left wants it to be kept the same. The rationalists want to tamper with higher education - the left wants to protect it from 'reform'. Rationalists get excited about things like charter schools while the left don't want to consider any alternatives to the public school system. If it ain't broke, say the left, then don't fix it.
Today it's the economic rationalists on the right who talk about resistance to change from privileged reactionaries with vested interests. Dock workers, academics, public school teachers, and bureaucrats represent unionized mediocrity, a group with a vested interest in staving off change which would give the average person a better deal. Only the mediocre, they say, would resist a more meritocratic and efficient system. This is exactly the same style of argument the left used to use against conservative cronyism in the army, the public service and in government.

It's been obvious for some years now that the more "progressive" you are, the more you are defined by what you are against. If that isn't a definition for conservative, I don't know what is.

In today's Australian, Hal G.P. Colebatch gives the Left the cavity search they have been needing, as their hypocrisy on immigration policy reaches a new high-water mark.

As background for non-Australian readers, Australia accepted very large numbers of Vietnamese refugee in the years following the collapse of South Vietnam. By comparing Left attitudes then to now, Colebatch exposes their current hand-wringing as the tactics of people quite comfortable with standing on the shoulders of drowning people the better to be seen by their overseas friends.
So it appears that many on the Left are hypocrites on refugees. In the late 1970s and early '80s, the Left waged a nasty campaign against the boatpeople (with more or less their own boats) from Liberated Vietnam. But in the past year the Left has waged a campaign for people-smugglers' clients who come through safe ports such as Indonesia and who sometimes destroy documentation and refuse to co-operate with officials in establishing their identities or countries.


Further to the depths the Hard Left will stoop to, yesterday Australian merchant sailors compared Australian Prime Minister John Howard to Osama bin Laden, because they both favour flag of convenience fleets. Geddit? A Methodist solicitor is the same as an Islamic terrorist, even though they seek wildly different outcomes.

These clowns should have thought this through. Because if there is one thing Sum of all Ladles favours above anything, it's unrestricted immigration and no security checks.

UPDATE: reader Alan McCallum corrects my assumption about merchant sailors:
Paul:
I just wanted to clarify one point. I used to be a merchant sailor for 14 years. I was an electrician in Nauru Pacific Shipping and ANL, and yet I am on your side of the fence. There is usually, but not always a distinction between the deck officer and engineer unions and the maritime union [the old Seaman's Union, SUA and the WWF combined]. The latter are generally commie bastards, still so today I have no doubt.
Most engineers and deck officers were conservative in my time, and they probably still are. Most of us HATED the SUA and the WWF.

The ABloodyC always talks to the MUA

Many thanks Alan.


Tuesday, August 27, 2002

It’s worth reading this Jane’s article After Saddam is defeated. article
At the outset, remember who the critics are. They are the people who predicted Armageddon in all recent conflicts. The critics claimed a decade ago that the war to remove Saddam from Kuwait would last 'for decades'; its most intensive phase lasted less than a month. They also said that 'huge numbers' of Western soldiers would be killed. In fact, hundreds died. They predicted that Saddam's Republican Guards would 'fight to the end'; in fact, they ran away.

Try to keep in mind:
Saddam is far, far weaker than 1991, and the West rolled over his army like it wasn’t there.
The Price of oil did spike. And then went down again. The process will repeat itself this time, but with significant differences, such as the US having their strategic reserves full, Russia gagging to sell oil, and the prospect of Iraq resuming full pumping. Some estimates see the world oil price falling from the present price of $30 per barrel, to as low as $9.

I’m perfectly comfortable in making this prediction: The Iraqi regime will fold within 30 days of the first US bomb landing. You will see mass desertions unseen since the last time the fearsome Iraqis faced an enemy better than the third world. When the Kurds and Shi’a see that the US is actually going to put their own men in harm’s way, they will repeat their uprisings of 1991-2. Only this time, the Kurds will be heavily armed and trained in the safety of the no-fly zone.

The whole thing will be over inside a month, and the word “quagmire” will be heard almost daily. Civilian casualty figures will be plucked from thin air, and given the credibility of Moses. Europe will wring their hands, just like they did over Yugoslavia, privately congratulating themselves on getting someone else to do the heavy lifting. The Arab street will do nothing. Their rulers will be very happy to see someone else take the heat for getting rid of the nut job next door. Kind of like a civil liberties lawyer who has noticed his neighbour sitting on the porch reading Gun Nut Weekly, and muttering that The Time of Cleansing Is At Hand. Very happy someone else called the Fascist Pig Cops.

And for the anti-US crowd? If you think you have problems mounting a believable case now, wait until next year, when the world's only superpower confirms it can do anything, and it does not need anyone, and they have two successful wars of liberation under their belts.

Remember, you heard it here first: 30 days, go to whoa.

Justin Weitz has produced an Open Letter to the human rights watchdog community, asking them to include the Palestinian Authority in their activities.
between 1987 and 1993, more Palestinians were killed (over a thousand) by their comrades than by Israeli security forces.

Given the uproar over an Israeli massacre that never happened, where is the similar outrage?

Raise several Fiji Bitters to Bruce Hill for his essay Why New Zealand Must Play rough With Fiji

Although written in April 2001, it remains good policy.
Because the truth is that if Fiji cannot bring itself to enter the modern globalised world, with standards of accountability, transparency, rule of law and personal freedom, it will slip behind and be forgotten.
Investors do not have to come to Fiji, and cannot be bullied into doing so.
If contracts cannot be enforced by a neutral court system, then the managers of global investment funds will simply keep their money in their pockets and move on to a more attractive country.
And Fiji will become a poor, unstable third-world hell-hole with beggars on the streets, and its children will grow up with little hope of having a better life.
And no one else in the world will care if that happens.
No one will ride to the rescue.
Fiji just isn’t that important in the global scheme of things.

And there's more, on Fiji and Tonga.

I like Hill's firm tone, that lays out the results of corruption and instability in clear, unambiguous words. The simple fact is, there are too many demands on the aid dollar from the West to keep throwing money into corrupt nations, when we know full well it will make little or no difference to the people on the ground, and will in all likelihood maintain the very structures that oppress the locals.

At the Jo-burg circle jerk, poor nations are protesting any linkage of aid to transparency, or reforms of any kind. But who is doing the protesting? We know full well it is not the populace of those poor nations. They don't get a say. They're too busy dying as their agricultural systems are destroyed yet again. As local despots and looney tune gurus lead them into genocidal wars again.

I wonder if the only hope is communications. Hill points out:
The Times of Tonga is published in Auckland in part because publisher Kalafi Moala can be reasonably assured he won’t have his door kicked off its hinges at 3am and be dragged off to prison on a trumped up charge.

As access to communications increases, the people in Country A will get the news that Countries B and C are doing very well, and the only difference is that their President for Life is, to quote that well-known defender of the poor, Robert Mugabe, making sure the rich nations "keep their pink noses out" of domestic affairs. The claims of Mugabe and Mbeki will start to look increasingly threadbare in the face of rising living standards across the border. Let's hope it doesn't take too long.

YEEE HAAAA

This just in, with links hopefully to follow.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has confirmed there are 70,000 Jedi's living in Australia, making us one of the most powerful and badly-dressed nations on earth.

UPDATE: Here is the link.

The really silly part was listening to Census Guy during the event, while he tried to explain:
1. No-one could prove if Jedi was a false answer
2. No-one had ever been prosecuted for giving a false answer.
Does this country have the best attitude to religion in the world, or what?

Is Tim Blair being too harsh when he describes Greenpeace as
filthy lying rat bastard liars?

You be the judge.

Paddy McGuinness raises the discussion point:
Arguments among the comrades on the far left notwithstanding, why does Stalinism still not inspire anywhere near the same kind of horror as Nazism today?

This in relation to the death of Dorothy Hewett, a popular Australian writer and long time darling of the Left.

Surprisingly, Paddy failed to mention Hewett's admission several years ago that she and many of her writer colleagues routinely used their works to further the cause of Stalinism. Can you imagine anyone but the Left celebrating the life of an artist that used her talents to further the cause of dictators?

Sunday, August 25, 2002

How much of “moral relativism” is simply a desire to avoid making a stand? To leave it up to anyone else to step up and make a stand. What is it about Westerners that makes so many of them reluctant to put there hand up and say “this is the greatest civilisation that the world has ever seen; we like it and we’re going to keep it. If you like it, join us.”

The amazing part is that if you pick any group of critics of the West, and offer them free passage to another culture, none will go. Offer the same deal to the people in the other culture, and you risk being hurt in the rush. We all know this to be true. None of the critics of Western civilisation want to live anywhere else, because they recognise that unless your name is Borgia, you’ve never had it so good.

So why do we hesitate? Has our moral compass been so undermined that the ordinary citizen feels not only unable to make a stand, but not entitled? For decades, the fast way into press has been to question the very right of Western culture to assert its own values, and to insist on the right of anyone else to assert theirs.

Take a few minutes today to ask yourself a few questions about where you live, and how you live. Here are a few samples to start you off:
Do I like where I live?
Is there another place substantially different where I would prefer to live?
Do I have reasonably good access to the peaceful means of changing the laws and practices of my society?
How secular is my society? How does it treat gender differences? Sexuality? Race?
How free am I? Can I criticise the Government? The Police? Are my thoughts suppressed by government policy?
Do I have access to alternative sources of information? Can I disseminate my thoughts?
Are the processes of my Government transparent? Am I in danger of random arrest? Torture? Summary execution? Secret imprisonment?

What we’re looking for here is a kind of Aggregate Society Satisfaction Rating. There is no perfect society for all. It’s possible Mrs Kublai Khan and all the younger Kahns complained that Xanadu was too far out in the sticks. But realistic debate cannot proceed without an examination of the values that the Western Society stands for in large part, and a comparison to the alternatives of offer. Take a look at where you live, and how you live. If you wouldn’t live anywhere else, make that you starting point for any and all thought about your country, and keep it in mind before you open your mouth.

Western society is Better than other societies. Why does it feel wrong to make this statement? We all know it’s true. Is there someone in the West who will try and make the case that execution by stoning is worse that execution by lethal injection? And that no execution would be preferable to both? In the West, we hold to “one person, one vote”, and then not everyone. That is better than only men voting, or only whites/blacks/brindles, or as is often the case “as long as I am the man who has the one vote”. Note I said Better. Not perfect; not finished, not ended. Just better.

If the Western democracies looked at the international stage, and saw a country being attacked on religious grounds, or because of the conduct of their merchants. If we knew that the people of that country under attack were tolerant for the large part, and held frequent fair elections, then we would be anxious for their fate. Large slices of the public intellectual life would want to know why we were not safeguarding the cultural practices of that country. Is it too much to ask that we apply out own espoused values to ourselves? That we be willing to defend our own right to our own culture and practices?

Western civilisation is the greatest force for good that the world has ever seen. It has created more prosperity, more wealth, more freedom and more happiness for more people than at any other time in the history of history.And the truly extraordinary thing is: we’re mad keen to share it with others. Anyone can join the Club, and get rich along with us. Membership is open to all, regardless of race, creed or colour.

Here are the conditions for membership, and they are non-negotiable.
1. Free, fair and frequent elections, open to all adults to vote and contest.
2. Transparent lawmaking
3. Rule of Law, professional police, open courts
4. Free press, with no Government restrictions on starting new media
5. Free markets, internally and externally

All we ask is that if you want to join our civilisation, you do it under our rules. If you don’t like those rules, feel free to make it on you own. There are very few countries that do not possess the natural resources to deliver substantial benefits to there own people, provided they are exploited intelligently, and distributed reasonably. You can be safe within your borders to do what you like, as long as your actions are not a threat to a member of the Club. But if you want to join, we’ll make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.

From now on, the onus is on those wanting change to the policies and practices of club members to prove the benefits of their proposals before they are implemented. Anyone caught using terms that involve values from outside the club will be deducted points.

Anyone comparing Club members to non-members, and who is not willing to live in the non-Club nation, will have this inconsistency publicly pointed out. This does not preclude debate, or criticism, but the polity needs to hear about the unwillingness to practice what is preached.

I’m proud of what my country has achieved, and I want to hold on to what we have here. I will no longer sit quietly while this country’s legitimacy is questioned, and I will not allow comparisons to non-democratic countries, or to international bodies. I want my elected government to make the laws for my country, and I am willing to defend the right of other democracies to do the same. These decisions will no longer be outsourced to international bodies or opinions. Our values are better than others, our way of living is better than anything that has gone before. Citizenship in my country is a privilege that carries right to freedom, and the responsibility of maintaining it.

I am certain that other peoples of the world wish to live as I do, and where possible I will extend them that opportunity. They are free to make the choice, but I will no longer pretend their dictators speak for their people, or that those regimes have any basis of legitimacy. When unavoidable, I will do business with them, but my unswerving belief and effort will be bent to offering the people of non-democratic countries the chance to live, speak and prosper as only Western nations have ever been able.



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