Monday, 29 November 2010

Quote of the Day

"Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint."

Daniel Webster

"Just because you can doesn't mean you should."


"Restraint is a measure of intellectual acuity and self-control.
The ability to place thought before action."

Wes Fessler

"Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they
are part of a civilization. They can then feed on that culture,
bringing it down. It's happened many times in the past.
It could happen to us."

David Brin

"Honesty is the cruelest game of all, because not only can you
hurt someone - and hurt them to the bone - you can feel
self-righteous about it at the same time."

Dave Van Ronk

Taking the Wikileak

It is becoming difficult to decide if Wikileaks is, on balance, a force for the betterment of mankind - or the reverse.

I must admit that I was initially inclined to the former view, but of late I am somewhat reluctantly coming round to the latter.

Now I am naturally inclined to see something like Wikileaks as on the side of the angels, so that is really saying something. I have no doubt that if people discover incompetence wrongdoing or cover-up in the organisation they work for they should be able raise the matter and get it addressed internally - and if not to blow the whistle on it.

What has really pushed me into mentally classifying the Wikileaks site as a net disbenefit is the release of the US diplomatic communications.

There seems to be something irresponsibly, parochially naive about the mentality behind these releases the site have made, something self-congratulatory and it is an interesting choice of news organisations Julian Assange has chosen to share the greater details with.

One suspects it says something about his politics. Being suspicious, one wonders if any cash or quid-pro-quo is involved.

I find it difficult to imagine these releases of diplomatic information will not ultimately cost actual lives.

It may be Wikileaks is of the view you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs. There are a disturbing number of people who seem to take that view. I can’t help feeling It a bankrupt, lazy, way of thinking, from a site who’s’ only real justification is taking the moral high ground.

Apologists have argued that US Diplomats should be more careful about their cables.

This is disingenuous. Diplomats are there to smooth situations and argue a countries part... well diplomatically with foreign powers. They are also there to give their own government a warts and all accurate clear eyed view of things. To do less would be a disservice to their nation and make for improperly informed faulty decision making.

They must be brutally honest in their assessments with their own government – not ‘diplomatic’.

It is not even as if we don't all know such frank assesments are made in private, or as if we don't all know the value of tempering our public utterances, unless we are so socially inept for it to be classed as a 'condition'. The mere fact that such communications exist can hardly be cause to lay them bare. They may on the face of it seem two faced, but there needs to be some greater over-riding need.

To argue they should be more careful suggests either a flippant, possibly deliberate misunderstanding, or the sort of thinking that can justify stealing someone’s TV if they forget to lock their door when they go out.

To me it all seems uncomfortably like someone overhearing a husband and wife privately discussing a used car salesman, his merchandise and their available cash in the middle of making a deal – and then shouting it out to all and sundry including the staff in the car dealership. Basically a pretty scummy thing to do in those circumstances.

Politicians have denounced the site, some suggesting it be classed as a terrorist organisation. Intriguingly one of those particularly incensed is Representative Peter King (New York), possibly suffering from a serious case of double standards, is calling for Wikileaks to be designated as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization" and outlawed in the US.

A long supporter of the political wing of the IRA he might know a thing or two about “foreign terrorist organizations”...

On balance it is probably not a terrorist organisation. Although one fears there can be little doubt that some of the information they release will be of succour and assistance to terrorist organisations and powers unfriendly to the US.These latest releases seem more akin to spying than to terrorism. The documents were clearly stolen. Wikileaks will argue what they are doing is justified in the greater public interest.

It may have been true in the past. In this and in recent instances that is surely questionable. One wonders why no one has attempted to legally gag the site as might be a newspaper. One wonders if that is largely to avoid inflaming conspiracists imaginations.

Interestingly Wikileaks claimed to be under ‘cyber attack’ just prior to their releasing the information. A denial of service attack they claimed. This is where multiple botnet controlled computers are made to access a site in huge numbers. Assange seemed to imply the US might be behind the ‘attack’ attempting to ‘silence’ the site.

It all sounds most ‘conspiracy theory’ish until, if you have even half a brain, you realise there would have been massive worldwide interest in the site after they touted the so-called release. This would have resulted in huge numbers of people attempting to access the site, especially just before the information was published as they kept checking back – Still it helps pump Assange’s ego and publicity machine some more.

No deliberate ‘denial of service’ just overwhelming interest. Weirdly many media outlets uncritically pass the denial of service clams on unchallenged, don’t reporters have any understanding of the net?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

A Happy Thanksgiving to any US Readers. Have a great holiday here's hoping you enjoy it and you get to spend it with those you care for.

Every now and then it is good to take a moment and reconnect with some of the main reasons why we bother at all. Friends, Family, children, the home... Be glad we made it through another year, be grateful for what we have and remember those who ca't be with you, for small, big, or more final reasons.

Also here's a grateful thought for those who have given their lives to allow things like this moment of thought, to protect our way of life.

What is this doing to democracy?

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, or rather their pet Lawyers, went to court and actually argued that no one sensible believes manifesto promises. The phrase used was that they were “not subject to legitimate expectation.”

Fair enough It seems. No one can claim they weren’t warned.

Really - voting slips and manifestos should carry a public health warning stating it clearly, possibly with graphic pictures of something like - the Ark Royal being broken up, A harrier Jump Jet being scrapped, or a student turning their pockets out.

Up to now we had to put up with Labour telling us that an EU constitution was not a constitution if it was an identical document... but they called it a treaty instead. We could imagine the other parties might have more respect for the democratic process or the truth.

I must admit I was sceptical of Nick Clegg, once he took the same line as Labour over that “treaty” in Lisbon.

But now it seems that coalition is a marvellous excuse to chuck out your principals and firm “watch my lips” promises. You can handily blame it on the other party in the coalition.

So we are treated to a positive Christmas market of pork pie salespersons. Nick Clegg supporting hikes in university fees despite signing some pointless piece of paper that he would oppose them. We see good old Dave Cameron not only back pedalling on his talk of no more giving up sovereignty without a referendum. Now apparently the EU Constitution Lisbon “Treaty” can’t be pulled out of, or re negotiated.

But more telling he is making agreements to pool our armed forces with the French - Again with not a hint of consulting the citizenry.

And given that the only really credible (before he got his hands on them) armed forces in Europe are British and the French then that is basically what would comprise a European Defence Force. Well we can see where he is going with that.

So basically - any promises, no matter how apparently firm, that any politician makes in order to get you to vote for them are just not to be believed. They will be dumped for the sake of expediency at the first hurdle. It seems there can be no doubt that the only reason to “Watch their lips” is to be able to spot when they are - lying.... through.... their.... teeth.

The question is: What does that do to the democratic process? How does someone who is not dangerously self destructively naive actually decide who to waste their vote on vote for?

When they do get in and utterly fail to do what they promised, even if they do the exact opposite, you have absolutely no comeback - apart from voting for some other collection of proven liars, when it suits them, every 5 years or so.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Quote of the day

"Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint."

Daniel Webster

"Just because you can doesn't mean you should."


"Restraint is a measure of intellectual acuity and self-control.
The ability to place thought before action."

Wes Fessler

"Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they
are part of a civilization. They can then feed on that culture,
bringing it down. It's happened many times in the past.
It could happen to us."

David Brin

"Honesty is the cruelest game of all, because not only can you
hurt someone - and hurt them to the bone - you can feel
self-righteous about it at the same time."

Dave Van Ronk

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Be upstanding for Mayor... Ronnie Cray

Thank goodness for the European Courts. An idiot’s idea of “Human rights” that keep armies of parasites at the public trough. And also for useless, craven, UK politicians.

It seems the unelected legislators who make up European court of human rights has decided it is unfair that criminals actually serving time are not allowed to vote. Do any of these judges have cousins who are of course “legitimate businessmen”?

Who brought the case before them? Would you believe it was almost literally... “Heeeeer’s JOHNNNY!!!" A "mad axe murderer” by your average man’s definition, who has been let out? And yes his name really is John and he killed his landlady with a genuine axe and then pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility.

You couldn’t make it up and be believed.

The UK government appears to be actually going along with this piece of insanity. For fear the Human rights industry will hit them with huge claims on behalf of the poor deprived inmates.

We can all imagine the likelihood of the French government going along with that – for about a millisecond!

They would probably simply shrug in that Gallic way and do just as they pleased, as they do over anything else that comes out of the EU that does not suit them. And the EU would do nothing.

So if our pointless politicians do go along with it, presumably the crooks will get to vote in the constituency where they are actually incarcerated, if that’s what they want, it being their place of abode. There are 48,000 of them concentrated in various places

The only exceptions will be those who commit the two truly terrible crimes of non-payment of debts or God forbid - contempt of court..

Presumably they will be able to vote in National, local council elections and parish council elections...

Presumably they will vote for candidates that suit them and as a block, given the way things work.

Cameron was making noises about making the local police chief an elected official.

So how long before local Councils in large prison’s catchment areas are packed with ex and unconvinced criminals. You know.. “legitimate businessmen” like Al Capone, or the Crays..

The question we need to ask ourselves is once what amounts to the mafia are in charge will they prove more effective that the political elite? Will the average citizen be better, or worse, off.

Compare the relative prosperity of Southern and Northern Italy.

One thing you can bet - the dustmen won’t go on strike any time soon - unless they are told to.

Meanwhile how long before the EU Court of Human Rights demands the vote for those they really have so much more in common with than anyone else - the clinically insane...

Another brick in the wall?

Cameron and Sarkozy have signed a deal to share military resources. It was kept pretty much off the public’s radar until it was a done deal. Did parliament get any say so?

It seems Cameron has locked the UK into it for the next 50 years. It is not clear if it can be got out of.

It is doubtful if any of the UK’s politicians will ever seriously try.

Cameron is busy trying to spin it up into great news and it is for the pro EU political elite.

It is difficult to reconcile this with his earlier bluster about not signing away any more of the UK’s sovereignty without a referendum. But this will be yet another instance where a slight change in the newspeak name of the thing magically utterly transforms it, so an old promise can be safely ignored and discarded. He is taking a leaf out of Gordon Brown’s book, on the Labour Party election lies manifesto.

What it actually is is a tacit acknowledgement that thanks to his incompetent butchery of the UK's defence capability the UK is no longer capable of acting effectively on the world stage without support.

What it actually means is that the UK can now no longer act militarily, in many respects, without France’s agreement.

A mutual defence pact is one thing, even military co-operation, or joint expeditionary forces - but signing over a veto on when you use your military to a foreign power is a whole other ball game, more akin to treason.

Not that UK politicians have not been happily signing away sovereign power for decades, so he can reasonably expect the supine UK electorate to put up with that as they have done with so much else that more self respecting citizens would do something about.

Sadly it is probably unlikely there will ever be a tea party movement in the UK.

What is Cameron’s agenda? One suspects ever closer European integration and the construction of a seed of a EU military. How long before a "money saving treaty" with Germany comes along?

Then there is the argument that can now be used by the political elite that If co-operation works in this areas then why not others? They will then subtly suggest, as they so often do, that it will allow ‘Europe’ to be more ‘independent’ of the US.

US politicians still somehow happily seem to imagine the EU is an unmitigated good thing for the US, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Is it that they think they know the nature of the beast? It wasn’t so long ago they thought it was a good idea to fund the Taliban...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Good money after bad

What is the point of politicians? I am sure they have their own reasons for being (Power? Money?) - but what is the point, the benefit, from the average citizens perspective?

Take David Cameron as an example. The EU wanted to increase it’s budget. As a negotiating position it suggested 5.9%. He was not going to stand for that – he said.

Now if you were thinking of buying something and there was a haggle possibility just you know the salesperson will ask double and let the unwary tourist knock them down and think they got a bargain. Did Dave never buy any jewellery for his wife in Greece?

This was of course readily agreed by the European Commission and rubber stamped by the European Parliament to keep the gravy high speed train rolling and would have cost the UK an extra £900m per year until it was put up again the following year.

The UK contributes a ridiculously large share of the operating costs of the EU. Who knows they might have been stupid enough to just go along with it.

So David Cameron makes militant noises and sets off apparently like St George himself to do battle with this hungry Wurm that nests on a pile of taxpayer’s gold.

Sadly the EU is an organisation it would be difficult to argue is fit for purpose, one who’s finances have, as far as I can tell, never been signed off as honest and above board by any accountants.

Put bluntly no accountant who wanted to stay in business, or to be able to portray themselves as honest, or marginally competent, is willing to chance their reputations and the prospect of doing time by signing off on them.

Now a question immediately occurs - well it would if you were not carefully steered away from it.

Why is it - when every European government is having to reduce their expenditure and operating costs - the EU feels the need to increase theirs, without apparently noticing everyone else is having to retrench.

So what was the result of all this tough negotiation, this rhetoric and spin? Was the budget actually cut, or even frozen - as it should have been if the EU reflected the states that make it up.

What did you expect? The budget was increased anyway of course, but by a mere 2.9% In real money 3% instead of 6%.

Dave Cameron is presumably not actually stupid so he must have some idea of the haggle, that suggests he knew quite well that 6% was a starting point. Maybe he thinks we are stupid.

The UKs massive contribution to the EU is a luxury it can’t afford, let alone increase. Even the EU recognised the UK had been rooked when it gave Thatcher a reduction in contributions, disguised as a face saving rebate. A rebate that Labour later pointlessly gave away big chunks of. Still it was only taxpayers money – plenty more where that came from.

How those European politicians must laugh when UK politicians turn up offering yet another opportunity to be fleeced yet again.

So Cameron comes back having committed the UK to pour a staggering extra £400,000,000 down the EU pissoire - and tries to spin that as tough negotiating! As some sort of great victory! Can’t afford too many more "victories" like that.

Getting back to that original question - What exactly is the point of David Cameron?