The shaky coalition of Western nations promising to strike Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons is getting even shakier. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron is reconsidering:
David Cameron backed down and agreed to delay a military attack on Syria following a growing revolt over the UK’s rushed response to the crisis on Wednesday night.
The Prime Minister has now said he will wait for a report by United Nations weapons inspectors before seeking the approval of MPs for “direct British involvement” in the Syrian intervention.
Oh look … Cameron plans on getting the approval of Parliament before committing British troops to war.
That’s because opposition British politicians apparently play hardball while ours … well they talk and complain a lot:
Senior sources had previously suggested that Britain would take part in strikes as soon as this weekend which meant an emergency recall of Parliament was necessary on Thursday.
However, following Labour threatening not to support the action and senior military figures expressing concerns over the wisdom of the mission, the Prime Minister on Wednesday night agreed to put British involvement on hold.
The climbdown is likely to be seen as an embarrassment for Mr Cameron as he was determined to play a leading role in British military strikes, which had been expected this weekend.
France too is showing signs of waffling:
French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that Syria needed a political solution, but that could only happen if the international community could halt killings like last week’s chemical attack and better support the opposition.
Hollande sounded a more cautious note than earlier in the week, when he said France stood ready to punish those behind the apparent poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in Damascus.
He indicated that France was looking to Gulf Arab countries to step up their military support to the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, after Paris said this week it would do so.
Not exactly the saber rattling that was going on a few days ago. It appears a “political solution” may be code words for “yeah, we’re climbing down too.”
Don’t expect a climbdown here. At least not anytime soon. Not only has President Obama said he doesn’t need Congress’s approval, he’s also decided he doesn’t need to inform the American people of his decision via a televised Oval Office announcement. However he would like the cover of a coalition (my, the shadenfreude here is delicious, isn’t it?).
If one had to guess, however, any strike this week would be sans the British and the French. And that may be enough to delay an American strike (don’t forget, President Obama claims he hasn’t made a decision yet).
Meanwhile in the Med, tensions spiral up as Russia decides to flex a little naval muscle in the area:
Russia will “over the next few days” be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria, the Interfax news agency said on Thursday.
“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax.
Interesting. And, if the strikes don’t happen now, who will claim to have helped call the coalition’s bluff?
As with most things concerning foreign affairs that this administration involves itself, this is turning into a debacle of major proportion.
This week, Michael and Dale discuss Kermit Gosnell and the UK.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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Because government is so completely involved in our lives. A good example is the UK.
Winter weather has killed a million Brits since the 1980s and will kill a million more by 2050, experts have warned. Age support groups and doctors blame poor housing, high energy bills and pensioner poverty. Many killed by the cold are elderly but the ill, vulnerable and very young also die. A total of 973,000 people died due to winter weather from 1982/83 to 2011/12, Office of National Statistics data for England and Wales shows. ONS data shows another million Brits will be killed by winters by 2050, based on the average of 27,400 cold weather deaths per winter in the last five years.
The government, of course, is responsible for more of the problems listed than high energy bills but I wanted to highlight that and then turn to the irony part of this:
Migrating birds have halted Britain’s embryonic shale gas expansion in its tracks. The company backed by Lord Browne, the former BP boss, admitted yesterday that it must delay resuming fracking near Blackpool until next year because of rules protecting thousands of birds wintering in the surrounding picturesque Fylde peninsula.
Nice to know who or what has the priority over freezing Brits, no?
Welcome to the stupid zone. Of course this is the result of unthinking acceptance of what is now considered by many to be junk science:
An elderly woman was ordered to find a new GP because the “carbon footprint” of her two-mile round trips to the surgery where she had been treated for 30 years was too large.
Avril Mulcahy, 83, was told to address the “green travelling issues” over her journeys from her home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, to the West Road Surgery.
The letter said: “Our greatest concern is for your health and convenience but also taking into consideration green travelling issues. Re: Carbon footprints and winter weather conditions, we feel it would be advisable for patients to register at surgeries nearer to where they live. We would be very grateful if you could make the necessary arrangements to re-register at another practice.”
She’s been going to the same practice for 30 years. And note the lie about “greatest concern”. It is obviously not their greatest concern, is it. The supposed “carbon footprint” appears to fill that role.
“Green traveling issues” with two mile round trips.
I assume the doctors and nurses live at the surgery, no?
The New York Times published an editorial today that reminds one how liberally biased the paper’s editorial board is. In its editorial it claims that all of the problems the UK has recently undergone are the result of the current administration and their austerity measures.
Cameron has been talking tough, suggesting that perhaps eviction or cutting off benefits to looters who are on the public dole might be one means of punishing offenders and making others think twice about committing such crimes again. He’s even talked about cutting off internet service in areas hit by flash looting mobs to cut their communication links.
The Times finds all of that an abhorrent over-reaction, and there are some good arguments against such moves by government. But that’s not where the NYT editorial board gets it wrong. It is here:
Such draconian proposals often win public applause in the traumatized aftermath of riots. But Mr. Cameron, and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, should know better. They risk long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact.
Making poor people poorer will not make them less likely to steal. Making them, or their families, homeless will not promote respect for the law. Trying to shut down the Internet in neighborhoods would be an appalling violation of civil liberties and a threat to public safety, denying vital real-time information to frightened residents.
Britain’s urban wastelands need constructive attention from the Cameron government, not just punishment. His government’s wrongheaded austerity policies have meant fewer public sector jobs and social services. Even police strength is scheduled to be cut. The poor are generally more dependent on government than the affluent, so they have been hit the hardest.
What Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting. Unfortunately, there is no sign that Mr. Cameron has figured that out. But, at a minimum, burdens need to be more fairly shared between rich and poor — not as a reward to anyone, but because it is right.
This is utter nonsense. As with most on the left the Times prefers to cast blame at those who they disagree with ideologically instead of actually analyzing the problem and admitting that perhaps it is their ideology which has led to these problems.
Point one – these riots weren’t a result of several months or even several years of austerity. They are the culmination of a decades long social engineering project that has created a culture and is dependent upon government for everything. It has coddled it, excused its behavior and now finds it can’t afford it. The socialists have finally run out of other people’s money and are now paying the price for such foolhardy social engineering.
Point two – the answer to the problem isn’t now nor has it ever been more “public sector jobs and social services”. Instead the answer is to entice the private sector into these areas and have them produce productive jobs. Of course, if the benefits program, i.e. the dole or “the game”, continue as it has, there’s absolutely no incentive for anyone to take a job. One of the standing jokes is about an government appeal for businesses in the UK to hire Brits instead of Eastern Europeans. But British businesses know that Eastern Europeans will actually show up, on time and work, whereas Brits won’t. That is a cultural problem – not an austerity problem. And it is a cultural problem that has been caused and nurtured by the likes of those who write editorials for the New York Times.
Point three – it won’t get better by doing the same thing again. As has been said by many, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. This is a social engineering project that has failed. Committing money they don’t have to recreate it is the height of idiocy.
The Times also stoops to a bit of class warfare by claiming David Cameron is a product of “Britain’s upper classes and schools”. The implication being he has no concept of the problem, being so far removed by class, and thus “he has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subculture”.
Janet Daley at the UK’s Telegraph rips into that premise and calls the Times on its hypocrisy:
Yes indeed he has, thus putting himself in agreement with about 90 per cent of the British population. But the New York Times in as uninterested in the overwhelming majority of British public opinion as it is in the great mass of American public opinion. It is as smugly and narrowly orthodox in its Left-liberal posturing as its counterparts in Britain. (If the BBC were to be reincarnated as an American newspaper, it would be the New York Times.) So it carries on in class war mode with accusations about Mr Cameron’s blithe imperiousness: “Would he find similar blame – this time in the culture of the well housed and well-off – for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?”
Well as it happens, the MPs’ expenses scandal is pretty small beer by comparison to the “pork barrel” and lobbying scandals which have dogged the US Congress for generations. Would the New York Times like to opine on how much relevance the class backgrounds of Washington legislators have to those problems?
If the Times could find an angle that would help it push its outmoded ideological argument, probably so, but her point is well taken. Dailey concludes with the real reason for the editorial, fact free as it is – it’s all about certain politics:
The remedies which it criticises Mr Cameron for adopting are, in fact, not within his personal power at all: evicting tenants from council housing is a matter for local councils not for the Westminister government. And he has not proposed “shutting down the internet in neighbourhoods [where there is civil disorder]“. As far as the New York Times is concerned, the riots of last week were all about the state of the economy and the Government’s spending cuts: an argument so untenable that even the Labour party does not advance it. In its pious conclusion, the editorial states unequivocally that “what Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting.” Barack Obama couldn’t have asked for a more generous endorsement. And that, one assumes, is what this ludicrous exercise in Schadenfreude was all about.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I’m amazed at times by what I read in major daily newspapers. OK, not as much now as I would have been say 10 or 15 years ago. Maybe it’s just awareness on my part now, but as I get older I am confronted by what I see as half-baked opinion on the pages of such rags than I ever remember before.
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the one that’s gotten sharper over the years and am able to spot nonsense more easily than before. Take for instance, Nina Power of the Guardian. Power is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Roehampton University, so she can be forgiven for being somewhat removed from reality. In her opinion, which the Guardian gladly publishes, the problem of the riots in London and elsewhere can be laid at the feet of government and austerity policies. Why? Well let her explain:
Since the coalition came to power just over a year ago, the country has seen multiple student protests, occupations of dozens of universities, several strikes, a half-a-million-strong trade union march and now unrest on the streets of the capital (preceded by clashes with Bristol police in Stokes Croft earlier in the year). Each of these events was sparked by a different cause, yet all take place against a backdrop of brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures. The government knows very well that it is taking a gamble, and that its policies run the risk of sparking mass unrest on a scale we haven’t seen since the early 1980s. With people taking to the streets of Tottenham, Edmonton, Brixton and elsewhere over the past few nights, we could be about to see the government enter a sustained and serious losing streak.
It’s the “brutal cuts” and the “enforced austerity measures”. Note she admits that “each of these events was sparked by a different cause”, however she then rejects that admission and claims that in reality they all come back to government cut backs.
Really? It couldn’t be good old technology aided criminality could it? Or something else completely? Or a combination of other things altogether?
For instance, in the next paragraph, she says:
The policies of the past year may have clarified the division between the entitled and the dispossessed in extreme terms, but the context for social unrest cuts much deeper. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan last Thursday, where it appears, contrary to initial accounts, that only police bullets were fired, is another tragic event in a longer history of the Metropolitan police’s treatment of ordinary Londoners, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the singling out of specific areas and individuals for monitoring, stop and search and daily harassment.
One journalist wrote that he was surprised how many people in Tottenham knew of and were critical of the IPCC, but there should be nothing surprising about this. When you look at the figures for deaths in police custody (at least 333 since 1998 and not a single conviction of any police officer for any of them), then the IPCC and the courts are seen by many, quite reasonably, to be protecting the police rather than the people.
Oh, so it could be all about police harassment then and nothing to do with “brutal cuts” or austerity? It could be that the spark that lit this fire had to do with police treatment of minorities? It certainly seems that is what she’s saying. And of course the riots elsewhere could simply be copy-cat. Criminal gangs who learned the methods used in Tottenham and deploying them elsewhere to loot and avoid the police?
Well, yes, it could be. In fact, it could really have nothing at all to do with the “entitled and dispossessed”.
Combine understandable suspicion of and resentment towards the police based on experience and memory with high poverty and large unemployment and the reasons why people are taking to the streets become clear.
They do? What’s clear is she’s bound and determined to link them, that’s for sure. But clarity … yeah, not so much.
But that is necessary, even if not true, to conclude the following:
Those condemning the events of the past couple of nights in north London and elsewhere would do well to take a step back and consider the bigger picture: a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predicated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country.
As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett point out in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, phenomena usually described as "social problems" (crime, ill-health, imprisonment rates, mental illness) are far more common in unequal societies than ones with better economic distribution and less gap between the richest and the poorest. Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness – combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalisation of dissent – have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.
All of that from a riot against police that one could conclude was a long time fermenting. Recall the LA riots – was that because of “brutal cuts” and “enforced austerity measures”? Was the looting that took place then a result of “decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness” or mobs taking advantage of the lawlessness the riots brought to loot what they wanted?
And even if she’s half right – what’s the solution she’d desire? Well “equality” of course. She’d rather trample the rights of those who’ve won “life’s lottery” (even though they worked their rear ends off to do so) and redistribute it to the poor and disenfranchised than ask the poor and disenfranchised to do what is necessary to give themselves a chance in life and quit demanding others do it for them.
Collectivism, although she never comes out and says it, is her answer. And we’ve seen how well those equal societies did, didn’t we? Well at least those of us who had been born before the collapse of the USSR and objectively observed the outcome.
Yes, friends, a whole new generation of collectivists begin to rear their heads, some having never seen what the collectivism of the last century brought in terms of “equality” - Equality of misery, equality of oppression and equality of hopelessness.
The problem in the UK isn’t austerity, it’s the results of collectivism and the fact that the inevitable outcome has begun. It isn’t individualism that’s the fault. It’s a massive state which robs people of incentive through it’s supposed benign acts of state sponsored charity. Why strive if you will be taken care of whether you do or not? Why seek food if you’re not hungry or don’t care what you eat? Why take care of yourself if the state will do it for you? And if you start running out of money, tax the rich bastards who want better.
Uncle Jimbo, at Blackfive, puts the exclamation mark on the real reason London is burning:
Liberal social policies have brought western civilization to the breaking point. They had the best of intentions, just ask them. But they, and sadly we, are getting a heaping dose of the law of unintended consequences. If you train an entire cohort of society to believe that the government doesn’t just offer a safety net but a way of life, well you get this- gangs of scum who will take what they want if the free lunch stops showing up. The chattering class is doing their level best to paint this as a legitimate reaction to dire economic times, and for once I agree with them. This is what happens when you run out of other people’s money.
By the way, this isn’t just a one-off bit of nonsense from Ms. Power. She’s been quite active in the Guardian pages denouncing all sorts of things with titles such as “Don’t Assume the Police Are On Our Side”, which makes me wonder what “our side” might be, and “Happiness has been Consumed by Capitalism” which clarifies the sides.
The one-trick pony that is Paul Krugman, constantly pushes massive government spending as the panacea for all recessionary ills. It is supposed to be the way one “manages the economy” from a central government position – as collectivist a thought as one can imagine.
In fact, one of Krugman’s criticisms – despite the fact that his estimate of the amount needed to stimulate the economy was $200 billion less than what was passed in the stimulus package – is that the government hasn’t borrowed and spent enough. And he certainly is no fan of austerity, claiming that the “pain caucus” has been in charge (what almost a year trying to address decades of borrowing and spending?), with no significant results and oh, by the way, look at the UK.
“In Europe,” he wrote last week, “the pain caucus has been in control for more than a year, insisting that sound money and balanced budgets are the answer … [But] Europe’s troubled debtor nations are … suffering further economic decline thanks to those austerity programs.”
Yes, friends, “sound money and balanced budgets” are, apparently, things to be avoided.
But curiously Krugman never says, “oh, by the way, look at Switzerland” because if he did, he’d have to explain their positive outcome based on austerity:
The Swiss have run a prudent fiscal policy throughout the economic crisis. They have had a structural surplus in each of the past five years. Their net debt is actually lower today than it was in 2005. And guess what? In 2009 their economy suffered the smallest contraction in Europe, with unemployment today below 4 percent. As for sound money, the Swiss franc is up 95 percent against the dollar since 2000.
The key point is the Swiss never let their economy get in the shape that is now plaguing the rest of Europe and the US. It has never spent and taken on debt like the UK, much less Portugal and Greece. It has been a program of economic austerity for years. Consequently, the debt level is miniscule compared to other Western economies and recovery was quick with minimal intrusion (if any) from government. We, on the other hand, were borrowing in good times and borrowing heavily to spend on things our government has no business involving itself in much less borrowing money to do so. And it points out that even if you buy into the Krugman theory that we ought to be borrowing and spending in “bad times” ala Keynes, the other borrowing that has taken place limits those options considerably:
The real lessons for the United States are clear. Those who run up debt in good times can borrow only so much more when a recession strikes. And heavily indebted governments postpone fiscal stabilization at their peril. If you wait to reform until the bond market calls time, you are—to use a technical term from economics—screwed.
And we’re headed toward that “technical term” more quickly than we can imagine, and yet the Krugman’s of the world still counsel more spending of borrowed money leading to more accumulation of debt.
At a certain point, the amount of debt begins to shave percentage points off the GDP as the debt is serviced. That, at least in my opinion, is where we are now and one of the reasons we’re seeing such a slow recovery. GDP growth, last quarter for instance, is not at all robust:
Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011…
Economically we have to understand, at the highest levels, that despite the siren songs of Keynesians like Krugman, that the bill has come due – in fact it is past due- and must be addressed and paid. We can’t afford to ignore it anymore, nor pretend that spending borrowed money will do more good than harm. We and the can are at the end of the road. It can’t be kicked anymore without dire consequences. Unfortunately, while it seems we’ve at least recognized that fact – for the most part – what we can’t seem to make ourselves do is that which is necessary – cut spending deeply. We continue to hear from the false economic prophets that we can fix all this if we’ll just borrow and spend.
"Death panels"? Don’t make me laugh. Why look at other single payer systems, they don’t have "death panels", do they?
Just check out one of the longest running versions of the liberal/socialist dream:
British citizens who smoke, drink, or tip the scales because they’ve eaten too many fish and chips could soon be denied medical treatment for lifestyle-related illnesses. It’s a system the United States will be forced to implement under ObamaCare.
Great Britain’s government-run health care system, the National Health Service (NHS), has long considered limiting coverage for people with illnesses deemed to be lifestyle-related. In 2005 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the NHS’s guiding body, advised that smokers and obese people be refused health care. Now NHS North Yorkshire and York is preventing certain operations for the obese or smokers because they say unhealthy lifestyles lower their chance of success.
Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told UK reporters, “These policies are being introduced because of financial constraints,” said Gerada.
And, of course, it is no longer your choice or frankly, your health – it all belongs to the state and the state says, "misbehave and we’ll punish you by making you live with your unauthorized choices and refusing to treat you". And they’ll pin it on those non-compliant miscreants … they just don’t live the proper lifestyle and thus their benevolent government has chosen for them – and it has chosen not to treat them.
But don’t you dare call those decisions the result of “death panels”.
They already have a postal-code lottery. Where you live determines the amount of care you receive. Since there’s nothing available outside the NHS, it means the local trust has the authority to change the benefits or determine the level of care you receive,” Herrick says.
Although everyone is supposed to receive “free” health care from the NHS, Herrick notes, NICE determines the level of benefit from a certain drug or procedure. Based on that NICE research, the local trusts may decide the cost of a certain cancer drug is too high or not effective enough so they won’t buy any or will ration it in some areas of the country.
Because, you know, there are no such things.
And mission creep continues apace because, as most military experts would have told you, you can’t change a government with a “no-fly zone” and only airpower.
French and British officials said this week that they were sending more than a dozen attack helicopters to allow for more precise ground attacks, particularly around Misurata, where loyalist forces continue to fire mortars and artillery despite rebel gains and heavy air attacks.
With no troops on the ground, NATO planners and pilots acknowledge that they often cannot pinpoint the shifting battle lines in cities like Misurata. “The front lines are more scattered,” said Col. L. S. Kjoeller, who commands four Danish F-16s flying eight daily strike missions from Sigonella air base in Sicily.
Unsaid in those two paragraphs, but reported elsewhere, are that groups of special operations types will be inserted to do targeting for the helicopter attack assets. Yes, “boots on the ground”.
And why is this supposed war of days taking months if not longer? Well, they obviously underestimated their foe and overestimated their capabilities. Also, they planned for one mission and tried to execute another (no-fly and regime change) and don’t have the assets necessary to accomplish that real mission). We’re now seeing them begin to understand that they may have bitten off more than they can chew – at least as they’re presently arrayed.
Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the overall commander of NATO forces in the Mediterranean, said from his office in Naples that the allied mission has largely achieved its goal of protecting civilians, especially in eastern Libya, and has seriously damaged the Libyan military.
“Qaddafi will never be able to turn a large army on his people again, because it’s gone,” said Admiral Locklear, noting that the air campaign has wiped out more than half of Libya’s ammunition stockpiles and cut off most supply lines to forces in the field.
But the admiral acknowledged Colonel Qaddafi’s resiliency, and said that without sustained political and economic pressure as well, “the military piece will take a very long time.”
Not really – if its mission is to establish and enforce a no-fly zone as we were told in the beginning. And as is obvious, Adm. Locklear certainly isn’t talking days or weeks anymore. He’s talking months and possibly longer. Meanwhile, British papers are reporting the war of “days not weeks”, that their present visiting guest talked them into, is in the $1 billion to 1.5 billion pound range – a cost the debt ridden country can ill afford. Makes you wonder how much longer they’re willing to wage it (even as they escalate their presence with attack helicopters).
Nice mess you’ve got there Mr. Obama. So much for being against “dumb wars”, huh?
Much more so than does the President of this country apparently:
Chancellor George Osborne has announced a number of measures to try to help business in his Budget.
Corporation Tax will be reduced by 2% from April 2011, rather than 1% as previously intended, and fall by 1% in the next three years, to reach 23%.
Mr Osborne also said that he was looking to boost enterprise and exports, as part of a Budget "for making things".
He said he also wanted the UK to be the best place to establish a company.
"Cuts in the burden of corporation tax, that will be worth around £2bn per annum when implemented over the coming years, are likely to be particularly beneficial for big multinational companies," said BBC business editor Robert Peston.
"And a significant lifting of planning constraints will delight much of the corporate sector."
He added: "With the corporation tax changes – and the recent pledge by Vince Cable to slash red tape – they represent a loosening of alleged shackles on the corporate sector."
And business body the CBI said the Budget would help business grow and create jobs.
Wow … what a concept. Cut business taxes and attract businesses, create jobs and actually increase government revenue.
Now, there’s a “jobs bill” for you.