We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Quelle surprise!

As I expected, the usual suspects are happy to take to the streets of western cities to protest against Israel and the USA, ostensibly for killing or being a party to killing people, but I have yet to see large scale demos in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin on behalf of the Yazidis and Chaldean Christians being murdered by Islamists.

I look forward to this changing but I will not be holding my breath in the meantime.

Obama gets it right

I expect many afflicted with Obama Derangement Syndrome will be dismayed to see Obama praised for anything, but the actions in Iraq seem to be pretty much correct, at least so far.

My views on Iraq (and Afghanistan) are well know and can be summarised thus: it was right to go in and topple the governments, whereupon the US (and its allies should have) should have declared victory and got the hell out many many years ago, saying only “now that you have seen what will happen to any government who annoys us enough, keep that in mind when you sort it out amongst yourselves who will be your subsequent rulers. Our armies have gone home now but we own your sky any time we wish to, so you need to realise we will not tolerate any jihadi lunatics running the country.” No futile democratic nation building.

So Obama is right to not put any substantive forces on the ground beyond the barest advisers who are there now (and perhaps some forward air controllers). And he is right to strike this most deranged lunatic strain of jihadis yet seen from the air. If I have any criticism, it is that as the IS nutters are currently exposed targets out in the open, having transitioned from guerilla war to out-in-the-open war, the intensity of strikes should be increased rapidly whilst the opportunity presents itself. Kill as many of these islamo-fascist barbarians as possible as quickly as possible.

Just as Kabul was actually taken by the Northern Alliance with US air support, so too can people like the Peshmerga do the ground work with US assistance from the air.

But so far at least, well done Obama. That is the first time I have ever said that particular combination of words.

Samizdata smitebot goes berserk!

Our spam filter seems to be a bit out of control and for some reason has taken a dislike to several regular commenters! If you get smited/smote/smitten by the crazed bot, drop us an e-mail so we can administer a kick to the system to un-smite you ;-)

How is one to know which horrors outrank which?

The rage metre has been in the red for a while now, with Baroness Warsi, a Muslim in case you did not know (or Baroness Token as she is known in some parts), quitting over the UK’s policies towards Israel (yes it is said the UK actually has a policy on the subject). Strangely she did not quit the government in protest over UK support of Pakistan, at a time when several hundred thousand people have been displaced by strikes against the Taliban in Waziristan. Go figure! I wonder why? Actually, no I don’t.

So what will be the reactions and suggestions from within the BBC/Guardian Bubble to the rapidly building catastrophe in Iraq amongst the Yazidi and Christian communities, I wonder? I realise these communities are being ethnically cleansed (i.e. murdered and dispossessed) but as it is not being done by Jews or Westerners, does it really matter? Indeed can it even be said to be truly happening? It will be interesting to see and contrast I think, in a nightmarish kind of way.

Blessed are the cheese exporters

Apparently, there is a tremendous run on high quality cheese going on in Moscow. This wonderful range of delectable products is vanishing rapidly from supermarket shelves as customers stock up before the sanctions that Russia is imposing on Russia come into force.

My question is… why were these communities not armed to the teeth?

Thousands of Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority’s biggest town in Iraq. The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces. An international Christian organisation said at least a quarter of Iraq’s Christians were leaving Qaraqosh and other surrounding towns.

So my question is why were rifles and RPGs and a few truckloads of ammunition not deposited in these communities weeks ago? The Yazidi and Christian communities should have been armed to the teeth by now. If 100,000 people from the region have been displaced, at least 10,000 of them should be viable militia, no? Why leave such things to various state armies?

Alex Salmond said what?

According to the Guardian, in a meeting with SNP backbenchers after his disappointing performance in the debate with Alistair Darling, this:

He [Salmond] said, using the pound without a formal pact – an option known as “sterlingisation” or the Panama option – was “quite attractive”, but insisted the Treasury would never allow that to happen because it would let Scotland walk away from more than £100bn in debt. “No UK chancellor would allow himself to be in a position where an independent Scotland gets away scot-free without the debt,” Salmond said.

Mr Salmond may have been misquoted. I may have misunderstood. But the notion that if an independent Scotland decides to use the pound in the manner that Panama or Ecuador uses the dollar (a quite sensible idea in itself, though it would require fiscal discipline), that somehow negates Scotland’s share of the UK national debt sounds delusional to me. At least, I suppose Scotland could default – Argentina does it all the time – but there are huge practical penalties to that. Lenders demand a high risk premium before they will lend to defaulters, particularly unrepentant defaulters.

Having written the above, I’ve just found another link confirming that Mr Salmond was not misquoted. He really is claiming that the famous missing Plan B is, in the event of the remainder of the UK refusing a currency union, for newly independent Scotland to refuse to take its share of UK debt.

Alex Salmond defends Plan B currency stance after losing Scottish debate on TV.

“If the UK Government’s position is “‘thou shalt not be entitled to your own currency” then “of course we have no entitlement to take liabilities either,” Mr Salmond said.
“If we had a zero share of debt then Scotland would be in both balance of payments and budgetary surplus in the first year of independence. We wouldn’t be paying up to £5 billion in interest payments.
“That is the logical conclusion of the UK Government claiming all of the assets of the country – they end up with all the liabilities.”

Wow. To me, those words above look like a bigger misstep than anything he said in the debate.

Samizdata quote of the day

Warsi dismissively described Osborne as “a good friend of the Israeli government”. The more subtle truth is that Osborne, along with a handful of other senior politicians, is prepared to step back historically and geographically, and to remember that the state of Israel was founded by a people that had heard the approaching silence of absolute extinction, and resolved never again to face that void.

Israel is bigger than Gaza and the West Bank, but it is smaller than almost everywhere else. Less than a century old, it is a democracy surrounded by hostile nations and under permanent attack by terrorists who wish to see it wiped from the surface of the Earth. What is a “proportionate” response to a hydra-like enemy who sees the Final Solution as work in progress? All terrorism aimed at Israel is genocidal in spirit. What would a “proportionate” response to that ambition look like?

- Matthew d’Ancona

Samizdata quote of the day

Keynesians were initially mystified by this dramatic breakdown in the supposedly stable and manageable relationship between growth (or employment) and inflation. Their models said it couldn’t happen, so they looked for an explanation to deflect mounting criticism and soon found one: The economy had been hit by a ‘shock’, namely sharply higher oil prices! Never mind that the sharp rise in oil prices followed the breakdown of Bretton-Woods and devaluation of the dollar: This brazen reversal of cause and effect was too politically convenient to ignore. Politicians could blame OPEC for the stagflation, rather than their own policies. But an objective look at history tells a far different story, that the great stagflation was in fact the culmination of years of Keynesian economic policies. To generalise and to paraphrase Friedman, stagflation is, always and everywhere, a Keynesian phenomenon.

- John Butler, on the Cobden Centre website.

A glorious bit of capitalism!

Talk about a fine bit of opportunistic business! Well done!

Meet the culture war – in deep space

I continue to read science fiction quite a good deal these days – it seems to be a trait of libertarian-leaning folk – and I noticed that Eric Raymond has an essay up on why some people, such as those that tilt left, are trying to make life tough for those with a different perspective. In this era of self-publishing and all the possibilities created by tech (something SF fans don’t need reminding of) it is surely particularly silly for any group to try and boss others around.

In a nutshell, Raymond says that certain types of science fiction writers suffer from “literary status envy”.

Here is a good paragraph:

Almost the worst possible situation is the one we are in now, in which over the last couple of decades the editorial and critical establishment of SF has been (through a largely accidental process) infiltrated by people whose judgment has been partly or wholly rotted out by literary status envy. The field’s writers, too, are often diminished and distorted by literary status envy. Meanwhile, the revealed preferences of SF fans have barely changed. This is why a competent hack like David Weber can outsell every Nebula winner combined by huge margins year after year after year.

To those on the outside, this all may seem fairly petty stuff, and in a way, it is. It is, I suppose, a phenomenon of what gets called “the culture war”; it is also, perhaps, a sign of how there have always been attempts – sometimes successful – to create things such as literary “establishments”, with the attendant phenomenon of people pressing their noses against the window, as it were. T’was ever thus. In the end, so long as there are low barriers to entry into writing such fiction, and a free market in the production and distribution of said, then the kind of science fiction I want to read will exist.

Am I misunderstanding something here?

From a couple days ago, I just noticed a story from Breitbart Network claiming the government of Israel was being criticised for not sharing Iron Dome technology with Gaza’s government (i.e. Hamas) so that Hamas could defend its population from bombardment… presumably by Israeli attacks.

Please read the article and then tell me if I have misunderstood this. It seems rather like criticising the government of the United Kingdom in the 1943 for not sharing centimetric radar technology with the German government so that the German government could better protect their population from bombardment… by the RAF.

Either Breitbart Network have got the story wrong or the world is an even more absurd place than even cynical old me realised.