The past is not another country, it is another world.
Remember all that strutting triumphalism of the EU enthusiasts? Remember their blustering certitude and stainless steel non-stick bravura? The European Union was unstoppable, invincible and the wave of the future. It was an historically-inevitable behemoth gearing up to straddle the globe and lock all of mankind into its eternal Bonapartist embrace.
Soon there would not be so much as a single molecule on the face of the earth that would not be regulated by Brussels. Resistance was futile and dissent was pointless. It was written in stone. The European union will conquer the known universe!
That was then.
This is now:
There is no doubt that 2004 ought to have been a great year, the year East Europeans became full members of a revived, streamlined and more democratised European Union. Instead, Europe is in its worst shape for years.
There is only so much battering, criticism and friendlessness any institution can take before it breaks. Europe is no different.
Victory is within sight. Just one, big, final push and we can send the whole rotten edifice crashing down.
[My thanks to Peter Briffa for the link.]
The Fourth British Blogger Bash in Chelsea was a chaotic and noisy affair…but then they always are, so no change there. Thirty-five worthy souls dived into the famous Chilli con Chelsea and only a few were slain by the lurking habanero demons therein…
Adriana, David and Luisa looked on as Perry ritually sacrified a civil servant to get the party swinging
Adriana and Philip amused themselves by hiding the bottles that were inexplicably protruding from Michael’s back pockets
Hair? Ha! Hair is for weaklings!
For some reason the oxygen was getting sucked out of the room…
Brian rather unkindly ate Claire’s Chilli whilst she was in a staring competition with Antoine
Briffa and Sherrif look on nonplused whilst Frank Sennsenbrenner does his Nixon impersonation
David and Claire do the ‘La Dolce Vita’ look rather well
Debbie, Jackie & Simon laugh, little knowing the camera is stealing their souls!
Andrew gets the message and does not tread on Linda
The Dissident Frogman morphs whilst talking to Andrew. Paul and Philip pretend not to notice
Even the hard core started to feel the strain after a while…. but he was just ‘resting his eyes’ really.
Yes… another highly successful blogger bash!
Update: And the Dissident Frogman has a scary Blogger Bash picture of his own.
When a government starts to slide seriously into the dustbin of history, the very things which it tries to do to halt the slide become part of the slide. All occasions are now starting to inform against this government:
Labour’s new initiative to listen to voters, The Big Conversation, appears to be a big con: a Telegraph investigation has revealed that party officials have handpicked contributors – and have then edited out their negative comments.
The disclosure will be an embarrassment for Tony Blair, who launched the exercise on Friday, saying it was proof that the Government was listening to the people of Britain.
The Prime Minister called for “an honest and serious debate about the future”, and urged voters to text or e-mail their views to a special website, www.bigconversation.org.uk.
The Telegraph discovered yesterday, however, that many of the stories on the website were crafted by Labour officials who interviewed carefully selected individuals known to be broadly sympathetic to Labour – and then cut out any negative comments.
This government started quite impressively, with temporarily persuasive talk of not increasing taxes, and of reforming public services in ways that might have worked, e.g. by sort-of privatising them. But it is all now dribbling away into incompetence. As a devoted opponent of collectivist delusions of all kinds, I supported and still support the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. No doubt some still have high hopes for the future, but frankly it doesn’t look as if there’ll be many achievements to come.
Let’s someone who is not me rephrase that. The government started impressively. I support the toppling of Saddam Hussein. High hopes. Many achievements to come.
“Have your say” says this fatuous website. I especially loathe that expression. You have your say, and then they do whatever they were going to do anyway.
We at Samizdata are anxious to hear from all our suckreaders. Any critical comment on this post will be severely edited in a way which will completely change its overall meaning until we approve of it, and will then be ignored.
Thirty five bloggers, assorted members of the commentariat and sundry camp followers descended on Samizdata.net HQ with wild gleams in their eyes (and not just Andrew Dodge) last night and the final hard core did not slither out into the damp London daylight until about 9:00 am this morning!
I shall post more images of the proceedings but for now…
Update: More sinister tales of bashing bloggers can be found here.
I read a lot of Iraqi blogs and journalism. The reason? I don’t believe anything Western journalists have to say any more. If the New York Times printed a headline saying “Sun Slated to Rise Tomorrow Morning”, I’d fact check them with one of my astronomer friends – just to be sure our planet hadn’t recently stopped rotating.
Many Iraqis have made it clear the US isn’t brutal enough in rooting out the old regime. I’m not sure it is always understood over there that we simply cannot act as violently as they would wish. Now that the enemy is dug in behind a screen of civilians we face fairly stiff limits of ‘acceptable behavior’. We are constantly under the scrutiny of the western allies of the deposed butcher. We face terrorist embedded Paris Match ‘reporters’ filming the firing of anti-aircraft missiles at civilian aircraft. We have Reuters reporters digging for any concievable anti-american angle they can find.
The Iraqis themselves have no such constraints. I agree with Alaa in principle. We have to push the control of security into Iraqi hands as fast as we possibly can… but we do have to balance this with progress in the creation of a civil society. That is the gift we wish to leave behind us. It will have far more lasting effects than the burial of Saddam’s spawn.
The day will come when Iraqi police and government take over everything… and very soon afterwards a large number of Baathists will turn up dead.
According to a report by The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran (SMCCDI), there will be two conferences held on the situation in Iran during the first week of December. One will be sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC and aired over free Iranian radio and TV; the other will be held Cagliari, Italy with support of various Italian organizations.
If you are near either city you may wish to attend and file a report with us.
Arnold Kling of the Bottom Line (one of the Corante blogs) has blogged about an email exchange with one of the ‘intellectuals’ over at Crooked Timber. He suggested that they actually read one of his essays before denouncing them as illegitimate. The reply he received was incredible. I suppose that is how liberals argue…
Arthur Kling (AK): Thanks for the comment. I am in favor of providing health care subsidies for the poor. What I object to is the notion that a middle class that supposedly cannot afford to pay for health insurance on its own can somehow magically tax itself to pay for health insurance.
Crooked Timber ‘intellectual’ (CTI): Tax the upper class. Why don’t they figure into your calculations? Are your usual readers stupid enough to be swayed by such foolishness? Do you really think “big government liberals” believe what you claim they do? (I suspect that you do: your imagined opponents are all idiots who can’t appreciate your impeccable logic.)
How about establishing a government health insurance system to eliminate the 30% overhead that “entrepreneurs” typically extract? Despite libertarian cant about government inefficiency, government insurance programs get by with less than 3% administrative costs. Seems that might make health care a bit more affordable. (I know that fact will be hard to accept, since it contradicts the dogma you adhere to, but it’s a hard world.)
AK: Sorry that the point was unclear.
CTI: It was indeed. Are you sure the obfuscation was unintended?
AK: Thanks for taking the time to read the essay.
CTI: You’re welcome. Wish I felt it had been better spent.
There is more rudeness, arrogance and supercilious invectives. Judge for yourselves.
There may be rather sluggish posting from the London contingent of Samizdata.net contributors and commentariat tonight as we are about to have the Fourth British Blogger Bash in Chelsea
However if anyone disgraces themselves…
…I will be sure to sneak away from the proceedings and post incriminating pictures
I got dinked out of posting on a Mark Steyn column earlier this week. Fortunately, the prolific Mr. Steyn has lobbed another one my way, this time ruminating on the endemic corruption of Canada’s one-party state in response to a reader inquiry. His thoughts are well worth the read, as they explore the many, many byways of political corruption in what is by all accounts a relatively law-abiding liberal democracy.
It’s certainly – how shall we put this? – striking that a fellow [Prime Minister Chretien] who’s spent 40 years in the House of Commons with the exception of a brief time-out in the late Eighties is, by Canadian standards, so phenomenally wealthy.
Let’s just pause there for a moment. In the modern Canadian state, it is not necessary for M Chrétien to do anything illegal. As he has said, after years in government, he’s a well-connected guy with a fat Rolodex who knows the wheels that have to be oiled: he can tell his clients “what is necessary for them to do”. That’s something folks will pay for, as out-of-office politicians in many western democracies have discovered. But very few have the opportunities of patronage that exist in Canada: unlike M Chrétien with Senator Fitzpatrick, Mr Bush cannot install a boardroom buddy from his ball-team days in the US Senate.
Third, it’s interesting to see how M Chrétien’s business deals – like the Grand-Mère – circle back to the government, in the form of one agency or another. He was able to tell M Duhaime “what it is necessary for him to do” – ie, put him touch with the BDC – and also able to tell the bank “what it is necessary for them to do” – ie, pony up the dough to M Duhaime. In a one-party state, he is in the fortunate position of being able to tell all parties “what it is necessary for them to do”.
Canada’s “national identity” is supposedly to be found in its “social programs”; Canadians are supposedly willing to pay higher taxes in order for a more equitable society. Quite where the 50% of income the government takes winds up is hard to see: I can’t help noticing that I see far more beggars on the streets of Toronto and Montreal than in Boston, New York, Chicago, or any other American city I’ve been in recently, whether run by Republicans or Democrats. The hospitals in Canada are so overloaded they’re unable to observe even basic hygiene procedures, a basic failing which covers everything from the Ontario health system’s incubation of SARS to Labrador’s gift of Chlamydia to its gynaecological patients. M Chrétien lectured Wall Street that, while Canada had fewer millionaires than America, it also had fewer poor people. But what you can’t help noticing is that the plutocrats we do have are almost all well-connected Liberal Party types or businessmen whose businesses are either subsidized or regulated by the government. That’s why in the one-party state we wind up not just with one party but one bookstore chain, one media chain, etc. Meanwhile, the gap in income between the governing class – in its broadest sense – and the governed grows ever wider. After 40 years as a guy who knows “what’s necessary” for others to do, M Chrétien is merely the most prominent exemplar of the system.
There are words to describe the kind of society that kicks veterans’ widows out on the street while giving the former riding secretary who approves the decision a $160,000 expense tab, that lavishes billions on corporate welfare on Lib-friendly businesses but can’t wash the instruments between pap smears: “Welfare state”? “Just society”? Try “kleptocracy”.
I find myself with very little to add.
The French government’s plan to establish the global hegemony has run into a spot of bother:
Staff at the French foreign ministry are to go on strike for the first time in protest at budget cuts that caused bureaucrats to run out of paper.
The strike, called for Monday, comes amid demands from the country’s leaders that diplomats work harder than ever to regain France’s former global prominence.
Pah! France can conquer the world without recourse to this barbaric, simplisme Anglo-Saxon idea of correspondence.
Budgets have become so tight that the ministry recently stopped paying its paper supplier. For three days last month it was paperless until a deal was reached.
‘You supply us with paper, we get you a seat on the UN Security Council. Deal?’
The Europe minister, Noelle Lenoir, said she had to go to a local newsagent to buy exercise books to write in.
Around the world, France’s ambassadors have complained of having to pay for official dinners and cocktail parties out of their own pockets, while the diplomatic bag service has also been interrupted.
Next thing you know they will have to fund their own bribes and rent their own whores. Outrageous!
“Half the lifts are not working – there’s no money to fix them. For three days last month there was no paper and our representatives abroad are having to work 14-hour days.”
So much backstabbing to do, so little time.
The strike is acutely embarrassing for President Jacques Chirac and his flamboyant foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, who have made every effort to show the world that French diplomacy matters.
It certainly matters to Messrs Mugabe, Castro and Hussein. What would they do without it?
The six unions that have called the strike said in a joint statement: “We do not understand how President Chirac and the government can assert France’s great ambitions on the international stage while at the same constantly cutting back the human and financial resources available to the ministry.”
A review of ambitions may be required.
I heartily endorse this, from Telemachus:
Recently, Ruth Lea, Policy Director at the Institute of Directors, was fired as Blair pressured her boss to rid her of this troublesome priestess, with the possible promise of honours. Anyone who can be such an effective thorn in the Government’s side should be on the Tory frontbench, and the Tories would be wise to offer her a peerage. While Theresa May holds her job solely due to the politically correct faction in the party demanding that a woman have a place in the Shadow Cabinet, Ms Lea would not need such backstops, as she has an agile mind and a good grasp of key issues. Besides, what could be better than the IoD director entering the Lords only to find Ruth Lea already there, attacking anti-business and anti-choice policies (like current higher education policies)?
And this guy not known to me until now, comments in agreement. (The link to Samizdata Illuminatus’s Samizdata piece about Lea was in the original Telemachus piece, by the way.) And here’s another guy who concurred, at the time when Ms. Lea was in the process of being ousted from the IoD.
I recall once, a long time ago now, doing a radio show with Ms. Lea and I can confirm that she is just the kind of woman who needs no womanist policies to get ahead in the world. Smart as a whip. With luck, this posting may stir up some more support for the advancement of this most admirable lady.
Original content is nice, very nice, but it can take rather long to concoct. So it is that the lifeblood of the blogosphere is the copying and pasting, and linking to, of (pardon me if my prepositions are in a bit of a twist there) an online newspaper article, interspersed with some comment, hopefully shrewd and maybe sometimes well informed.
But what do I know about a story like this? I’m no anti-terrorist expert. Yet clearly it is of significance (as Alice Bachini also notes) that some bad people are apparently being pursued and captured by some good people, and that we are all somewhat safer as a result. Do we ignore events like this merely because we have nothing much to add?
Anti-terrorist officers are searching a second property close to the home of a suspected al-Qa’eda operative arrested yesterday.
The flat in Gloucester, near to Sajid Badat’s terraced house where explosives were found yesterday, is to undergo forensic examination. Officers executed a search warrant on the property at 1am this morning.
A police van was parked outside the second property, a shop with a flat above it. The shop, directly opposite a police station, was shut up but the curtains of its first-floor flat were open.
And so on. It seems that London’s Metropolitan Police (The Met, as we say here) were involved, which would strongly suggest that London was the target of all this explosive collecting, not some place in rural Gloucestershire.
So, speaking as a Londoner myself, and assuming as I now do that it wasn’t all planted … good!