Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Enviro Nut Jobs Shoot Themselves in the Foot.

It's worth saying from the outset that I am neutral on the subject of man-made climate change.  Although I am sceptical, I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a determined "sceptic."  A better term to describe my views would be "agnostic" - the science behind climate change is flawed, and has been shown to have a great deal of corruption around it, but I don't believe that makes it all false.  I am yet to be persuaded either way.

Yet one thing I am absolutely determined on is that, if man-made climate change is real, big government solutions are not the answer.  My main thrust for this belief is that government solutions have rarely achieved anything efficiently or cheaply, especially when one compares it to the private sector.  Therefore if we are really facing a global crisis, a government solution is not going to save us.  The only way for "sustainable and green" technology to be produced is for governments to get out of the way of private sector companies who build new technologies, to lower taxes, and to allow the race for profit to motivate these companies to invest billions into producing these new technologies as quickly as possible in order to satiate consumer demand.  Once these new technologies are discovered, then there will be a race to the bottom by companies trying to make these new developments as cheap as possible for the public - companies get rich by selling products as cheap as possible, not by keeping them artificially expensive (see Henry Ford for a classic example of this.)

Increased government interference will not be as efficient as the private sector, and in addition will in fact hinder the private sector in doing its job.  This has been shown today by a story in "The Guardian" of all places, that reports that so-called "environmental taxes" are threatening green energy research and crippling development.  The case study is the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, which faces an estimated £400,000 bill next year, raising the prospect of job losses and operational cuts.

Sources quoted by the lefty newspaper claim that there should be exemptions for companies and research groups that can be shown to be promoting government policy.  But why should it stop there?  How does one define whether or not they are promoting government policy?  Yes, it is clear that the Culham Centre is promoting green energy, but taxes will be hurting all sorts of research that will contribute, even in a small way, to these goals.  Additionally, these sort of crippling taxes don't just hurt research, they hurt growth as a whole, and the way we are going to get ourselves moving forward to green energy is to allow the whole economy to grow via market forces, which will in turn allow more private investment in all kinds of Research and Development; some that will be explicitly "green based" and others that may only help implicitly.

The only way to move forward with green technology is for government to get out of the way, allow market forces to decide which are the best technologies to invest it, and then allow the profit motive to motivate these powerful corporations in producing the efficient and cheap green energies that people want.  Government will only make bad choices, impose freedom destroying taxes, and ultimately slow down growth and technological advancement.  Scrap enviro-taxes now!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Ken Clarke is Wrong and Must Go

Dave Gee – the UK’s leading authority on rape investigation – said he felt “despair” last week when he heard Kenneth Clarke appear to suggest some rape cases were more serious than others.  I know exactly how he feels.

Ken Clarke has long been a thorn in the side of those of us in the Tory Party who want the party to stand for conservative principles.  His rambling interview about rape, and the lax sentencing policy that he proposes proves that he should be nowhere near the Cabinet, and nowhere near the Conservative Party.

Tories have always been popular with the public when it comes to the question of crime.  The British public have never bought into trendy left-wing theories about criminals being victims themselves, and that it’s really society’s fault.  They are wise enough to know that most of the time “rehabilitation” is just a magic word said before releasing dangerous criminals early, and that only a tough attitude to criminality can keep society safer.  Indeed, the only way that Tony Blair was able to win the public over on the subject of crime in 1997 was by sounding exactly like a Tory.

So, when Ken Clarke announced that he is looking at lowering the already low sentences for rapists even further (by introducing an even higher sentence discount of 50% for those who plead guilty), then he was already on thin ice.  The average sentence a rapist serves is five years, and the Justice Secretary wishes to make that average even lower.  Yet to make matters worse, in defending the bizarre policy, his implication that date rape was a less serious form of rape than violent rape has rightly provoked a furore that should have taken his job from him by now.

Date rape takes many forms, and Clarke has noted that these situations can vary greatly, and can be complex.  This is true, but this often comes from woolly definitions about what constitutes rape; if this is the case, then a redefinition of rape is required, not a lax form of sentencing for the crime.  Indeed, sentencing for date rape should be being made stronger than it already is, as there is evidence to suggest that it is on the increase.

Only last year did the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board conclude that the use of date rape drugs was rising dramatically, and anyone who is a regular club goer will know that date rape drugs are a common hazard for women, and even for men who might get their drink spiked by accident.  Additionally, the tactic of plying a woman with alcohol until she is so drunk that she loses her ability to resist is one that, while frowned upon, is still not seen as rape in the eyes of many.
Clarke’s attempt to disagree that “rape is rape” by offering the case of an 18 year old having sex with their 15 year old girlfriend is a pathetic attempt at a get out by using a tough case that in reality is rarely prosecuted.  To quote Jane Martinson’s excellent column on the subject, “We’re still waiting for the statistics on the number of teenagers who subsequently go to the police to press rape charges if what they are doing is having happy, consensual – if under the age of consent – sex.”

Clarke’s subsequent half-apologies come across as meaningless when he is still trying to go ahead with finding ways to lower what are already pitifully low sentences for rape.  David Cameron made a bold effort at Prime Minister’s Questions to affirm just how serious any form of rape is; but his words are betrayed by his government’s proposal to limit the already miniscule sentences even further.

If our society wishes to make it clear that rape is a very serious crime in whatever form it takes, then sentencing must match this intention.  This is something that the Conservative Party has always understood, and yet Ken Clarke seems to want to do the opposite.  It is for this reason that he has no place on the Conservative front bench, and he should be fired immediately.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Conservatives Can Relax: Trump Isn't Running

The announcement that all sane people on the American right were waiting for has finally arrived; Donald Trump is not running for President of the United States. Such an announcement has not come a moment too soon, and there are many conservatives breathing a huge sigh of relief.

It was always tempting to dismiss Trump as a joke candidate from the beginning who never had any chance of gaining the Republican nomination. This may or may not be true, but it doesn’t mean that Trump did not pose any danger to a Republican victory in 2012. He had already caused a great deal of damage by first pretending to speak for American conservatives, and then going off on a wild goose chase for Obama’s birth certificate; making conservatives look like a bunch of conspiracy believing loons. The media had lapped up the sideshow, and it seemed that Trump would take the spotlight from any other candidate until he was defeated at the primaries early next year.

By that time however, it could have been too late. It seemed like Trump was set to also go after Obama’s education records in order to prove that the President was not smart enough to have gone to Harvard, and that he was therefore a recipient of affirmative action policies. Even if such statements were true, it would hardly reflect badly on Obama (he didn’t ask to receive special treatment) and regardless of the outcome the issue would be used against conservatives to demonstrate that Republicans were more concerned with side issues than with the real problems facing the country.

Trump represents one of two paths that the Republicans can go down for 2012. In football terms, they can either play the man or the ball; and Trump would represent trying to play the man. Trump is certainly not alone in wanting to attack Obama instead of the issues; with other candidates such as the irritating Michelle Bachman standing strong with a fair amount of Tea Party support should she choose to run. Such a path is doomed to end in failure. Although his nastier side has come out over the last year, Obama is still seen by many as a likeable guy, and his personal popularity ratings are much higher than his ratings on the issues – which remain stubbornly low.

It is on the issues where the Republicans can win big. This has been proved already; the 2010 midterms barely made any personal references to Obama at all, and focused almost entirely on the economy. It resulted in annihilation for the Democrats at the polls, and one of the biggest swings in United States political history. A similar swing for the Presidential Elections in 2012 would not only hand the Republicans the Presidency, but give them a landslide as well.

Obama is not a steady President. Despite figures in the media telling us that Obama would receive a massive boost from the death of Bin Laden, there has been very little of this, and Rasmussen actually reports a drop in approval for Obama over the last week. With gas prices at a very high level, 1 in 6 Americans on food stamps, Obamacare extremely unpopular, and unemployment stubbornly refusing to go down, Obama’s go to excuse of blaming Bush is wearing thin and will not carry him into 2012. It is on the issues where Obama is weak, and he has run out of ideas.

In a generally conservative country like America (where Obama’s ideas were never particularly popular), the Republicans only need to make sure that they have a candidate that will draw attention to the issues, and also to Obama’s failure to deliver anything but warmed up socialism. They therefore need to pick a solid, upstanding candidate with no hang ups, strange beliefs (nothing weird on evolution, please), or obsessions with birth certificates and college transcripts. If they can pick someone who can stick to the issues, and not get drawn into conspiracy theories and personal attacks, then 2012 could seal Obama’s fate as a one-term President, and 2013 could usher in a fresh era of conservatism in America.

Should the Republicans fail to do this, Obama will not need to win the 2012 election – the Republicans will lose it on their own.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

How Obama Went From Hero to Zero in a Week

On Monday 2nd of May it was not looking cushy for the American right.  Yes, along with the rest of America they celebrated the death of global terrorist Osama Bin Laden, but politically they had taken a significant beating.

Only a few days before the death of Bin Laden was announced, the White House had revealed the long version of President Obama’s birth certificate, effectively ending conspiracy monger Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions.  While many on the right (myself included) were thankful that it finally killed off this nonsensical obsession with Barack Obama’s birthplace, it also meant that the entire American right were tarred with the “conspiracy theory” brush – even though the birthers only represented a minority of right-wingers.

The announcement of the death of Bin Laden only made the birther issue worse.  The narrative became that while the right-wing were thumbing through copies of Obama’s “Dreams of My Father” to find evidence that he was a closet Kenyan, Obama was off focusing on bigger issues such as killing the world’s number one terrorist.  Not only did the right look defunct thanks to its loony fringe, but Obama had overcome his reputation of being useless on foreign policy by killing the man that George W Bush had been searching for since 2001.

Immediately, commentators in both American and the UK were drooling over Obama’s prospects for re-election, claiming that his boost in the polls would be enormous, and that the 2012 election was all but over.  Yet a week later, no-one is saying that anymore, and the boost in the polls has (depending on whose polls you read) been either non-existent, or a small jolt that no pollster expects to last until November 2012.  A recent Gallup poll stated that 95% of respondents stated that the death of Bin Laden would not change who they’d vote for.  So what happened?

The first thing that went wrong was that Obama tried to do what he usually does – make himself the hero.  So instead of praising the men and women on the ground, and those who had been doing intelligence on Bin Laden for years, Obama’s announcement speech was filled with continual references about himself and self-congratulatory remarks about his administration.  People like applauding for an actor on stage, but are less likely to do so when the actor starts applauding himself as well.

Also, the blatant hypocrisy of Obama trying to take sole credit of this feat (along with the victory tour to Ground Zero) was fully exposed when it was revealed that the information that found Bin Laden was obtained at Guantanamo Bay (which Obama wants shut down) using waterboarding (which Obama banned) back in 2007, when Obama wasn’t even in office.  Trying to take credit for something that was achieved by methods that he expressly condemned has rightly struck many Americans as trying to have one’s cake and eat it too.

This childish display of taking credit for other people’s work (notably that of President George W Bush, who had to fight tooth and nail against lip trembling lefties like Obama in order to keep such effective methods in place) has been followed up by a laughable show of incompetence from the White House in providing information.

First we were told Bin Laden used his wife as a shield, then he didn’t, then he was armed, then he wasn’t, then he made an act of aggression, then he didn’t, then it was a kill order, then it wasn’t, then it was again, then they were going to release a picture, then they were definitely going to release a picture, then they definitely weren’t going to release a picture.  Even a political junkie like myself still cannot make out exactly what happened in that compound.
This isn’t just about information though, it is about how the Obama administration has been trying to both celebrate and cover up this action at the same time.  The truth is clear; Obama doesn’t like this and neither do the left.  From arch-leftists in Britain such as Ken Livingstone and the Stop the War Coalition to the usual leftist cronies in America such as Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky, we have seen condemnation after condemnation as to how this action was carried out.

Don’t be mistaken; if this was a Republican President, Obama would be amongst those howling in agony at the thought of Bin Laden being “murdered in cold blood”, wailing about his human rights and the abandonment of “our common values of justice.”  Yet because he is President and his numbers were falling, he has had to become part of the American jubilation and patriotism that he finds so distasteful.

On that first day he was fine, but since then his attempt to balance his hard-left credentials with taking the credit for what was essentially a right-wing act performed predominately by other people, has made him seen weak, confused and hypocritical.

Back to business as usual for President Obama

Monday, 2 May 2011

Why Bin Laden's Death Matters

It is tempting to look at the death of Osama Bin Laden and, while being pleased that the terrorist can no longer harm anyone, dismiss it as a merely symbolic act that will only stoke hatred for West in the Middle East.  I believe this analysis is incorrect.

It is true that in the short term, America will receive a much needed morale boost, while the Middle East will have pockets of anger erupting.  However, I believe that when one looks at the long term picture, it is then when the significance of Bin Laden’s death can be seen.  It is first necessary to understand why Bin Laden was so important to the West.

Bin Laden’s death is important in the first place not because of what it says about Al-Qaeda necessarily, but because of what it says about the United States of America.  Shortly after 9/11 President Bush promised that America would hunt down and capture or kill those responsible for the atrocities on American soil.  President Bush understood that this was necessary in order to communicate to America’s enemies that fighting against them was only ever going to be a losing battle.  No weakness could be shown.

Bin Laden broke that narrative; his escape and avoidance of Western forces indicated to the world that it was possible to attack America and get away with it.  Bin Laden represented the decline in American superiority: despite what the American government was saying, there was indeed somewhere to hide.  From this could be drawn the conclusion that it was also possible to beat America, as Al-Qaeda had beaten the Soviet Union in the early 1980’s.  There the odds had been stacked against them, yet they pulled through and triggered the end of the USSR.  They hoped to do the same with America.

Osama Bin Laden came therefore to represent not only defiance, but possible victory.  As long as he could avoid capture, it could never be ruled out in the heads of its supporters that Al-Qaeda could destroy the USA as they had destroyed the USSR all those years ago.  Bin Laden’s death ends this myth once and for all.  It shows that whoever attacks the USA will lose.  It may takes years, but eventually they will be tracked down and captured or killed.  To fight against the USA in the modern world is to fight a losing battle.

One might think that this does not matter to Islamic extremists, who are intent on killing themselves anyway in the hope of paradise.  Those who have no fear of death will surely have no fear of losing a war either?  However, the Islamic martyrs form only a small part of a very large organisation with a very broad base of support.  The cries from the left that Al-Qaeda represents only a very tiny minority of Muslims is only partly true – they do represent a minority of Muslims, but by no means a tiny one.  Behind the nut job martyrs are millions of people who fund them, work for them, or just support them vocally.  Additionally, sympathetic rogue states will be prepared to shelter and accommodate such individuals if they see it as serving their political aims.

It is these people that Bin Laden’s death will dissuade.  Yes, his death might make those wannabe martyrs hate us even more, but the signal sent out to the millions of more “moderate” Al-Qaeda supporters is an unnerving one – “If you support these people, you will lose.”  Therefore, those who are fighting for financial or political reasons as opposed to purely theological reasons will want to pause and reflect on their support for their war against America and the West.

Al-Qaeda cannot survive on ideological purists and martyrs alone; in order to be the global organisation it once was, it requires millions of financers, politicians and run of the mill citizens to support them on their quest.  Bin Laden’s death will not only strengthen American resolve, but it will also trigger reflection amongst those who have given tacit approval to Al-Qaeda until now, and it could cause a significant wave of people to desert the once fashionable organisation.  It could be this that signals the end of Al-Qaeda as we know them, and this would truly be something to celebrate!