Saturday, 28 August 2010

Top Ten Things America Has Done for Muslims

Apologies again for the brief posts.  This week is the week my dissertation is to be handed in, so it is set to be a busy week!  However, I will still be putting various opinions and links throughout.  Today, I wanted to link to this very interesting article by Ben Voth in The American Thinker.

It argues against the current left-wing argument that because America overwhelmingly opposed the Ground Zero Mosque, that it is somehow an "Islamophobic" country, or is engaged with a war in Islam, or somehow needs to apologise to Muslims for all the nasty things America is supposed to have done to Muslims and to the religion of Islam.  Instead, Voth points out just how many Muslim lives America has saved, and how America is a force for good for everyone, including Muslims, in the world.

You can find the article here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Trendy Lefty Way of Lecturing at University

Just got linked to this video, and thought I had to put it on the blog immediately!  Having studied both theology, and more recently politics, in a left-wing University, I have experienced this type of lecturer a hundred times over.  Politics especially is plagued by this sort of lecturer, and the amount of lectures that would involve a ten minute shifting around of chairs followed by another twenty minutes of "sharing" were in abundance.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Clegg's new University policy - Tax the rich even more (yawn)

Well, well, well.  That lasted long didn't it?  Over the last few months, Nick Clegg has been wandering around pretending that he really isn't that extreme after all, and that he is really quite similar to his new chums in the Conservative Party, he had to break eventually!  I have long believed Nick Clegg to be a socialist hiding under "moderate" clothing, and sure enough - he has just broken ranks with the rest of the Lib-Con alliance to prove me right again by advocating yet another "the rich will pay for it" tax - this time its the graduate tax.

In his latest interview with Mary Riddell for The Daily Telegraph, he openly admits to supporting one of the most unfair measures that a government could pass - the "progressive" form of the graduate tax for University students.  Now, a graduate "tax" in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially as it is not necessarily a tax.  The idea at the root of the graduate tax is as follows:

a) Students should bear the cost of their education, or at least a significant amount of it, as they are the primary beneficiaries.
b) However, only students from well off backgrounds can afford to stump up the money up front.

Therefore, in order to make sure students from lower income backgrounds can afford to go to University, the graduate tax offers a way in which a student's income post-university is taxed.  The system therefore becomes almost like an "interest-free credit" system, where one receives the education first, and pays for it later when earning.  This sort of method of paying for education is often met with a thumbs up from both sides of the political spectrum, as it lessens the forced burden on the taxpayer, and places it on the student who has chosen to go to University, and who benefits directly from the education.  Sounds reasonable right?

Well, yes, if done properly.  The graduate tax would infer that we have a set cost which the student must pay.  So for instance if a Politics degree from Cambridge cost £15,000 (just as an example), then the student would have his/her income taxed until that £15,000 is paid back, at which point the taxation would stop.  Variants on the scheme could have the student deferring payments for a few years if money was tight, or they could pay a lump sum if they come into money etc.  Depending on the job, and future economic circumstances, some students might pay less for longer, while some might pay large amounts, but pay the debt off quicker.  Again, sounds fair, right?

Well, here is the problem.  Clegg and his socialist chums don't believe in free market pricing for University degrees, or even government set prices!  They don't believe in prices at all!  So instead of paying until you had paid the costs off, under Cleggo's plan you would just have your income taxed (possibly an extra 5% of income tax) for your entire working life, irrespective of how much you earn!  Toby Young produces some nasty figures on this, showing that doctors for instance, could end up stumping up over £70,000 just for the privilege of going to University, while a humble secondary school teacher could end up paying nearly £50,000!

The idea behind this nonsense (apart from Clegg's ideological commitment to the forced redistribution of wealth) is that richer people are earning more because they have benefited more from their degrees and therefore should pay more.  Yet, the idea is flawed on two levels.  First, just because someone has made the correct choices for their state of life does not mean that they should be punished with higher costs - this is the typical socialist mentality of punishing success and rewarding failure.

The second problem is that just because one is in a high level of income does not necessarily mean that is directly proportional to the benefit they received from their degree.  So someone might receive a degree in Philosophy, find it utterly useless, get into business a few years later, earn loads, and therefore find themselves stumping up thousands and thousands of pounds for a degree that they have benefited little from.

This would also disincentivise people from making good choices for University.  A graduate tax that had you paying a set rate for your degree would make people think "Is this degree worth the £X,000 I will have to pay for it?" and perhaps therefore choose not to study a BA in Glee Studies just for the sake of it, while the person looking at a useful degree will see the price and think "Yes, this degree is worth it."  However, Clegg's scheme would punish those who made good choices and made more money.  It is yet another way of punishing those who have done well in life by forcing them to pay through the nose, while rewarding those who have failed to make good choices, with a free education.

There is nothing wrong with making people pay for their education, and done correctly it would help stem the rise of "Mickey Mouse" degrees we have seen in recent years, and would provide a good level of funding to Universities.  However, like all socialist policies, Clegg's plan simply punishes those have done well, by making them pay obscenely high prices for their degrees just because they have dared to be successful.

The Conservative Party should have nothing to do with this unfair concept - but then they shouldn't have had anything to do with Nick Clegg in the first place.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Who are the extreme ones?

I know I am posting a lot of videos at the moment, and I am doing this for two reasons.  First, there are a lot of absolutely brilliant videos doing the rounds at the moment which deserve a mention.  Second - I am travelling to New York in a few weeks and have my dissertation on Thomas Jefferson to complete and hand in before I travel, so these videos allow a short snappy post when I am too tired to blog about something in detail.

The big story at the moment is of course the Ground Zero Mosque, and it is interesting to watch the supporters of the mosque constantly dodge the one single question that sticks out like a sore thumb - "No one is questioning your right to build, but why do you want to build there?"  I have yet to see an answer to this.

Instead of dealing with this question, the left are just trying to smear opponents as Islamophobic or extreme or racist or whatever.  The main argument they seem to be using is "Oh well, if we don't allow this mosque, then we are smearing all Muslims as terrorists."  This is of course nonsense, we are just recognising that the extremist branch of Islam would see such a building as a victory (the symbolism would speak volumes), and that however "moderate" the backers might be (although this is yet to be established - a story broke today about how they might be taking money from the Iranian government) this thing would be a magnet for extremists who would see this as the "victory mosque" whether we like it or not.  It is for this reason why there are a lot of moderate Islamic voices saying that this mosque should be a no-no.  Yet this is ignored by the left, who instead prefer simply to smear opponents as racist, extremist Islamophobes.

This leads nicely into this new video, which deals with this accusation that Republicans/Conservatives/Libertarians etc are "extreme" etc.  You hear this a lot from the mainstream media - "Oh no, conservatives shouldn't listen to Limbaugh/Palin/Beck/De Mint etc - they are extreme!!"

Well the latest video asks, "Who exactly are the extreme ones?"  Take a look....

Monday, 16 August 2010

"Those Voices Don't Speak for the Rest of Us"

I have just been linked to this video from the Republican Study Committee, which provides an excellent contrast between the beliefs of President Ronald Reagan and the beliefs of modern day statist Democrats.  It shows just how much of a prophet Reagan was when it came to predicting the dangers of liberalism, and just how dangerous the Democrats are.  These dangers are just as real in Britain as they are in America.  Those of us who believe in freedom should take heed of Reagan's message.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sacrilege at Ground Zero

I have been watching the furore over the "Ground Zero mosque" with a great deal of bemusement.  The reason for my puzzled expression over this plan is because the liberal arguments for having a mosque/community centre at Ground Zero are so ridiculous that they would be laughable, if it were not for the fact that the plan is going ahead.

And now Obama has waded in, predictably supporting the building of the Islamic Community Centre on the site of the massacre of 3,000 Americans by Islamic fundamentalists.  While I am quite happy to watch the President commit political hari-kari, it is absurd for him to pretend that this is a debate about religious freedom and constitutional values rather than his fetish for pandering to any supposedly "persecuted" minority or interest group.  No other minority receives more snivelling apologies and grovelling from the President than Islam does - a group whom he sees as permanently attacked by America.  As always, he is wrong.

The idea that this is about religious freedom is obviously nonsensical to anyone who thinks about the issue for more than thirty seconds.  No-one against the Islamic centre is denying Islamic freedom to worship and no-one is denying the building of mosques in America.  Everyone has freedom of religion, but they do not have freedom to build anything anywhere they choose.  It is not about constitutional rights, but it is about issues of sensitivity, and of appropriateness.  We would recognise that Japanese flags at Pearl Harbour, or an anti-abortion centre at the site of a bombed abortion clinic destroyed by extremists would be inappropriate, yet denying permission for both would not be denying freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

A real President would condemn the proposal as grossly insensitive, and as insulting to all Americans.  He would recognise what damage such a move could do to Islamic relations, and he would question the motives of those who intend to build the centre.  A President who does not sincerely ask the question, "Why, out of all the places in America to build a mosque, why does it have to be there?" is not someone worthy of the office.

Those are my thoughts on the issue, but I couldn't possibly blog on the subject without mentioning Charles Krauthammer's excellent article of the same title as this blog post.  He dissects the issue with great expertise and it is well worth a read.

This issue is certainly about the Islamic community centre, and yet it is also about President Obama.  His support for this centre gives us another view into his hard-left mindset.  It shows once again that he always sees America as the real enemy in the world, and therefore he feels that he must apologise, grovel and submit to anyone he perceives as being wronged by "American Imperalism."  The enormous amount of anger directed at Obama over this issue, even within his own party, shows that once again his views are not the views of the American people.

Friday, 13 August 2010

The European Union's Power Grab - Episode 2319

Do you remember back in the old days when the European Union, or the EC as it was known then, was simply a small group of similar countries dedicated to free trade and better co-operation in diplomatic matters?  Back when even Margaret Thatcher could call it a useful tool for the free market?

Remember those days fondly, because those days are well and truly over.  For a long time now the European Union has been a socialist-federalist nightmare - dedicated to useless laws, interfering with national sovereignty, higher and higher spending, protectionism and everything else on the left-wing agenda.  There have been a number of pro-EU articles that argue gleefully that the EU is a natural replacement for the USSR on the world stage   Therefore Americans and Brits should be concerned that in yesterday's Daily Telegraph it has been reported that the new European Ambassador to Washington -Joao Vale de Almeida - has said that he speaks for Britain on foreign and security policy in America.
In a comment that has come to symbolise the American view of the EU, Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, is once said to asked: “When I want to talk to Europe, who do I call?” In a response to that question, Mr Vale de Almeida declared: “In this area code, you call me.” The ambassador insisted that he did not wish to “impose myself” on member states’ ambassadors, who will continue to oversee “bilateral matters.” But he declared: “Where we have a common position, I am the one leading the show.”
Nile Gardiner, as always, has an excellent article about how this latest power grab by the euro-socialists threatens not just British national sovereignty, but also the relationship between Britain and America - as it is an attempt to sideline Britain on the international stage, and to handcuff her from co-operating closer with America.

Brits, of course, should be worried about this power grab.  It is surprisingly blatant for the EU, which has in the past taken the "frog in boiling water" approach to castrating Britain.  Its usual policy is to do things in the tiniest of steps, slowly turning up the heat so that eventually Brits are boiling to death in European socialism without realising it.  However, with the EU behemoth tottering in a number of areas - specifically the Euro, the bureaucrats are pushing their agenda even harder at the moment.  It almost goes without saying that Brits should push back against this attempt to replace Britain's national parliament with an unrepresentative bureaucracy that has never acted in the interests of Great Britain.

However, the different thing with this new power grab is that Americans should be concerned too.  The Special Relationship has been important for America, and Britain is a greatly needed ally in both its local affairs, as well as international affairs - such as the War on Terror.  The European Union on the other hand is made up of countries and people who are not big fans of the stars and stripes (primarily due to their left-wing outlook), and who would definitely lobby for a 'cooler' attitude towards America.

A European wide foreign policy would be a lot less pro-American and a lot less willing to deal with threats to security.  Instead it would be a hard-left foreign policy that would seek to "engage" with, and "understand" those who pose threats to the West.  It would be a policy that would be immensely critical of America's relationship with Israel, while hiding under the covers when it came to condemning Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.  It would be a limp-wristed foreign policy formed in trendy European Universities by Marxists and "anti-imperialist" radicals.

The EU is a hard-left, anti American and anti-British organisation, and has been for a long time.  Brits must fight against it, and with these new developments, so must America.  An "EU foreign policy" would be a grave  development.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

I agree with Robert Gibbs - shock horror!

I am greatly amused by the uproar over White House Press Secretary Robert Gibb's latest comments to The Hill where he stated,

"I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs said. "I mean, it's crazy."
The press secretary dismissed the "professional left" in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon. That's not reality."

Obviously the left, both soft left and hard left, have gone nuts over this comment.  He came out almost immediately and apologised, and there are various Democrats calling for Gibbsy to resign.  He might just have to, although I imagine he will survive.

I am not a fan of Robert Gibbs by any stretch.  He is a nasty little man who makes a lot of money by not answering questions.  He stands there every week and smirks at any legitimate criticism of the administration, slagging off anyone who refuses to go along with the party line.  So I am quite pleased that he has unleashed a firestorm from his own ranks.  His much nastier criticism of the right has been ignored by the mainstream media, but the second he makes a snipe at the left, his remarks are slammed as 'hurtful' and 'inflammatory'.

However, on this one I have to agree with Gibbs - his main point is entirely spot on.  Those people who say that Obama is like Bush are crazy!  Obama and Bush are chalk and cheese.  Yes, there are one or two small things that Obama has kept in place, but on everything else he is entirely different from Bush.  I am continually amazed at the unhappiness of the hard left when there is the most left-wing President in history sat in the White House.

I encountered a great deal of this at my University in the last year.  My American Foreign Policy class was filled with extreme socialists and communists, as well as the usual hippy "Hey, it's the system man" student types.  I was continually amazed at those who took the attitude that Obama is really still quite right wing, and that he is only left-wing by American standards (said with that condescending sneer that European socialists use when talking about the USA).

It is an argument I tried to engage with, but ultimately failed, as it is one that is not based in facts or logic.  It is an argument put forward by those who would be unhappy with anyone but Leon Trotsky in charge of America, or for those who are so anti-American that the President will always be the enemy, left wing or not.

As a result, I have to agree with Gibbs - such people cannot be debated or reasoned with.  However from a right wing perspective, it is fun to watch them snipe at each other as the Obama Administration begins to circle the drain!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Michelle Obama - "Let them eat cake!"

The UK's Daily Mail reports today on First Lady Michelle Obama's lastest jaunt to Spain - her eighth 'getaway' this summer, in addition to all the silly little "schemes" and initiatives she has been jetting off to "support".  It is causing a great deal of controversy due to the lavish expense of the trip, costing up to $375,000, and that is only a rough estimate.

Now, as a believer in the free market system, I have absolutely no problem with people spending vast amounts of their own money on luxuries like holidays - rich people spending lots of money helps everything they touch, from businesses, job creation and local economies.  I had absolutely no problem whatsoever with the extraordinarily lavish Clinton wedding that took place last week.  If you have that money and want to spend it, then go right ahead.

However, things are a little different for the First Lady, mainly because it is subsidised by the America tax payer. How much is being paid for is unclear, but when one is asking the US taxpayer to pay chunks of money for about eight holidays in one summer during a recession, it is absurd and the comparisons with Marie Antoinette are striking - a comparison that Andreas Tantaros makes in an excellent article for the NY Daily News.  I believe the nickname will stick!  The whole affair becomes weirder when one realises that the President isn't even part of the entourage!

It reeks of hypocrisy and snobbery.  The Obama's have made the most out of their new life of luxury, and Michelle Obama more than most.  Yet this is the administration that has attacked "the rich" more than any Presidency in history.  Lashing oil executives and bankers for 'obscene profits' and then forcing the US taxpayer to pay for eight holidays for the wife of the President stinks of double standards.

Yet it should not be a surprise.  The left wing always have a high regard for their own elites, and the Obamas are no different.  Left-wing governments see themselves as the saviours of mankind, which gives themselves justification for the over the top spending they treat themselves to.   It is one rule for them and another for others.  Make vast amounts of money creaming from the taxpayer - that is fine.  Make money in the private sector - expect to be demonised and blamed for all the problems in your country.

Michelle Obama is a raging hypocrite.  She loves to be seen as "one with the people", but taxpayer paid extravagance like this shows her up for the elitist snob that she is.  Americans should not put up with it, and should most certainly remember it when she has her next self-righteous rant about "social justice."

Thursday, 5 August 2010

America Boiling Over

My dissertation is coming to a head at the moment, so some of my posts may be a little short over the next few weeks.  This will be one of the short ones.

Peggy Noonan has written an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal on the current atmosphere in American politics, and I agree with her completely.  Her basic argument is that the left are pushing agenda item after agenda item, and they have really gone too far.  Americans are sick of it, and it threatens to boil over this November.  I agree completely - there is only so much liberalism people can take, and Americans have certainly had their fair share recently.

The article can be found here

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Left, Means and Ends.

A very enlightening video has popped up on the blogosphere today. The video is of Congressman Pete Stark - a Californian Democrat - answering a question about heath care at a town hall meeting. The question is articulated extremely well (although she might go on a little longer than is polite, and I am not sure about her comparison with slavery!) but what is interesting is how Stark just has no problem with dismissing the Constitution, and is happy to say that "The Federal Government can do most anything in this country". Take a look...

Now, obviously it is very easy for one's immediate reaction to be one of shock.  After all it is a shocking statement.  The woman asking the question says "If the government can do this, what can't it do?" and Stark basically answers "There is nothing it can't do!"  This is the complete opposite of the American ideal,  and contrary to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution that sought to limit government, not to expand it.

However, once you get over his brazenness, I think it provides an interesting insight into how the mind of the left wing works.  It isn't that Stark is evil, or a traitor, or anything like that, he just thinks with a typically left-wing mindset.

For conservatives, the ends do not justify the means.  This is the clearest example of the Judeo-Christian influence that exerts itself upon conservative philosophy.  You cannot do something bad or immoral in order to chase after a perceived good end result.  So for instance, even a 90% income tax would help the economy (which it would not) it would still be wrong to do it, as it is immoral to confiscate vast percentages of someone's income.

There are two clear reasons for this philosophy.  The first is that conservatives view actions as inherently right or wrong.  With a belief in an objective right or wrong, actions are therefore right or wrong as well.  As a result there are definite good and bad means.  The second is that conservatives realise that ends are unreliable, while means are immediate.  By this I mean that we know what our immediate actions (our means) will be, and while we might intend the end of our actions to be good, we cannot know until we have done them.  If we allow ourselves to do bad or evil things in order to chase after a vague good end, we might never achieve that end - simply ending up with a legacy of evil and immoral actions.  Therefore the guide to achieving good ends must include the preface that our means must first be good.

The worst tyrannies are committed by allowing the ends to justify the means.  Almost all dictators have committed horrible atrocities in the hope of some future paradise - they have allowed the ends to justify the means.  As a result, when they fail to achieve their ends, they end up with a legacy of tyranny, death and destruction.  It is the legacy of Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Che, Pol Pot and Castro.  All have allowed their aim of whatever paradise they envision to justify their means.

It is this latter view that the modern left use to justify their actions.  They begin with a premise.  "It is good to make sure all people have access to decent healthcare."  Agreed.  This then we can define as their end - "We aim to make sure all people have access to decent healthcare."  Again, this is fine.  However, the left allow their ends to justify the means -so in their logic it means that they can do anything they wish in order to achieve their noble end.  This is assisted by the fact that many on the left have a purely subjective view of morality, nothing is right or wrong in and of itself, it is only wrong "for me" or "for you".  With this view of morality, there can be no  intrinsically "bad means", and therefore they can do whatever it takes to achieve their ends.

It is here when Pete Stark's comments come into their own context.  He believes himself to have a good and moral end, and as a result is prepared to do whatever it takes to get there.  If that means massive government expansion - fine.  If that means severe rationing of care - fine.  If that means hyper taxes and and a ruined economy - fine, fine, fine.  All that matters for Stark is that his intentions are noble, and as a result the ends justify the means.

It is an extremely dangerous idea, and is present in anywhere that one find left-wing ideas.  Britain has been destroyed time after time by the tyranny of those with good intentions, and it is important that America does not allow itself to be ruled by those who allow their ends to justify their means.