Saturday, August 30, 2014

Scotland's debt - a question for OAPs

In the independence referendum debate, the SNP have found themselves repeatedly on the back foot particularly regarding post-independence currency.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy leader has repeatedly stated that there is no need for a Plan B, see here for a February 2014 outing on the subject.

Alex Salmond, the leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland has belatedly decided he has 3 Plan Bs.  He too was castigated by Alistair Darling in the first televised debate and so came up with not one, not two but three currency plans.  Say what you like about Salmond, he gives you value for money - three plans for teh price of one!  What a man!

Retain Sterling as part of a currency union (something which all three rUK parties have categorically refused to countenance), retain Sterling as some sort of Sterlingization position - where Scotland's monetary policy is then decided in Westminster and not Edinburgh and according to the needs of the rUK economy and not Scotland's or, join the Euro.

My view is that if Scotland votes for independence, then part of the price they will have to pay, to join the European Union, will be to adopt the Euro.

That aside though, John Swinney the Scottish Finance Secretary has weighed-in to the debate and added the full depth of his intellectual prowess.  He has said (and try to hear this without the necessary petulant voice which neatly captures his point) - If Scotland cannot be part of a currency union with rUK, then Scotland will take on none of the UK debt or liabilities. So there, nah, nah, nah!

Consider this though.  Most all governments operate using the debt markets to one degree or another.  Current national debt for the UK is in excess of £1.3 Trillion or 80% of GDP and climbing (this is why George Osborne gets a 'Could do much better' on his end of term report!). For the US the debt mountain is more than $17.8 Trillion for Federal debt or 105% of GDP and a further ~$5 Trillion for debt owed by the individual states.  Germany's debt is around 80% of GDP and that is probably understated when the European Central Bank commitments are properly considered.  Norway is a country much mentioned by Scottish Nationalists.  They too need to go to the debt markets.  Their debt to GDP ratio is in the acceptable 30% range but still the Norwegian government has to borrow.

So, John Swinney's first genius act as the economics guru for Scotland is to send a message to the world of finance that Scotland doesn't pay its debts!  It welshes on them!  It runs away from its obligations! 

So here is question # 1 for Scotland - who do you think will lend you money?  International banks and finance organizations have a thing about debt defaulters - they don't like them.  In fact to go further, they shun them.  Argentina defaulted on its debts and this had two consequences - a great depression which lead to riots and social unrest and hardship and, it could no longer borrow money.  Oh and yes, Argentina has oil as well!

And here is question # 2 - this time for Scotland's pensioners and would be pensioners.  You have paid in to a system, all of your working life but that system was predicated on you getting a pension at a set time in the future.  If an independent Scotland repudiates its debts, who will pay the pensions of Scotland's OAPs?  Certainly not the rUK.  

Think about it, the 'divorce' has become messy and one partner has decided, in a moment of pig-headedness, that they are not paying anything for the mortgage on the house or maintenance for the children - they're offsky!  A little way down the road, this partner realises that they actually need to get a new mortgage and they need a share of the house sale proceeds, to pay their new debts and a house deposit.  They find that they can't get a new mortgage because they have a default against their name and numerous county court debt judgements against themselves, relating to the jointly held debts that they walked away from and even their lawyer tells them they have no chance of getting any help from the former partner, because they can cite abandonment and abdication of fiscal responsibility and so the individual is, if you will excuse the expression, buggered! 

That is the position in which Scotland will find itself, post-independence if they adopt Swinney's policy.

Of course, that all pre-supposes that after a Yes vote, the rUK will allow Scotland to just walk away from its share of debt.  Why should they?  Why should Scotland which has enjoyed and continues to enjoy the fruits of the debt - schools, hospitals, roads, etc., - be allowed to wipe the slate clean.  Need I remind Salmond, Swinney, Sturgeon and the voters of Scotland, that this is a referendum on independence.  All legislation to enact the consequences of a Yes vote must be passed by Westminster.  Can you really see English and Welsh and Northern Irish MPs voting to allow Scotland to walk away 'Scot free' (no pun intended) from its obligations?  Can you?  Why would they agree to burden their rUK constituents with debt for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary or Mrs MacGregor's pension? 

Come to think of it, I don't know why I am so bothered about Swinney's comments unless its just this arrogance that thinks all of the power in this debate, lies in Holyrood.

I hope Scotland votes No on September 18.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Carswell and UKIP

I am not sure that the defection, from the Conservative Party to UKIP, is really such a surprise.  Carswell is refreshingly independent and has pursued issues in such a manner.  He has long been an opponent of the continually encroaching nature of the European Union and its repeated erosion of the long held rights of Britons. 

What should be worrying for the Conservatives is that Carswell is at the forefront of exploring the new 'e-led' ways of engaging with voters and so his defection represents a real loss.

Equally, it shouldn't be any surprise that Carswell has resigned his seat and so forces a by-election.  This is the action of a man of principle and sets an honourable example for others to follow.

There are rumours that up to eight other Conservative MPs are considering defecting to UKIP.  Some of these will be based on principles, as was Carswell's and some will be based on fear and political calculation - they expect a high threat from UKIP in the next election. 

This defection is a problem for Cameron and the Conservatives. 

Labour too, are not immune though its adherents are perhaps more in tune with the leftist/statist policies and direction of the EU.  Labour too, has often displayed a country last approach to issues as clearly evidenced by their obsession with the failed multi-culturalist policy.

For Cameron and the Conservatives, this defection is the fruit of a failed policy.  Cameron has offered a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the European Union but there is a very strong sense that his heart really isn't in it and that he will present whatever terms he manages to renegotiate as a significant victory and so justifying the UK remaining in the EU.  "Today, fresh from all-night discussions with our EU partners, I can announce that the UK has retained the right to have round dustbins and on that victory, I will be recommending that the UK stays in the EU" or something like that!

The election of Jean Claude Juncker showed how ineffectual Cameron has been in Europe and how he was out-maneuvered by Angela Merkel and I have no doubt, by his own advisers.  Betrayal would not be too strong a word for how the UK was treated and yet Cameron still thinks he can treat with such people.  Either he is a fool or he takes the British people for fools.  Carswell can see this and so can the rapidly growing band of UKIP supporters. 

The EU is a paper tiger.  They led Ukraine to believe that they would support them and now that push has come to shove, they have deserted them in the face of Russian aggression and real-politik.  Cameron and the UK government should abandon EU organisations and withhold funds from the EU beast, forthwith.  Let the EU take us to whatever kind of court that they want.  How many tanks does the European Court have?  Tell them to go to the socialist hell towards which they are daily pulling the UK. 

Cameron should make it clear that the negotiations have already started and that we will use bully boy tactics to get what we want.  If there are counter-measures taken, then we will retaliate.  The UK has always prospered in the past, when it has stood by basic principles.  We can be taught nothing from the newly found  'democracies' of Europe - and I include Germany and France and Italy as being new! - about doing the right thing and following our long-held traditions.

All we need and want from the EU is a trade agreement.  We don't want directives on how long we work - the sovereign government of the UK can decide on that.  We don't want orders on what shape is acceptable for a banana or a cucumber or how much of the fish in Britain's waters, we can catch - the sovereign government of the UK can decide on these things.  We certainly don't want to rely on a European Army or Foreign Service to represent our interests - we know that they won't!

The EU has no legitimacy and the UK should have no part of it.  That is the message that will stop the defections and will restore the Conservatives to power.  Oh and by the way, those defections aren't just in Westminster!


 

Common decency shouldn't require the sack.

When you listen to or read stories about the scandal in Rotherham, why not let your justifiable horror and anger be slightly smoothed by you simultaneously playing Social Care Bingo.   Listen out for those key words and phrases that get trotted out every time that there is a similar scandal.  'Care' agencies, not joining the dots, cannot be allowed to happen again, Labour, not resigning, overworked, police, social services, vulnerable, Asian grooming gang, multi-agency - when you have heard them all, call 'house' to yourself and declare yourself a winner.

I say the foregoing not to in anyway belittle the suffering that families and young people were subjected to but only to illustrate how we keep on hearing the same feeble answers to questions raised about different but similar events.

Another phrase that gets bandied about is 'political correctness'.  As in, the police do not follow-up on the accusations that are made because to do so would break a political correctness taboo - they would be obliged to target the gangs of exclusively Asian men that are visiting  these horrors upon our young children.

In case all of the above sounds alien to you, let me bring you up to date.

An independent report has just been published relating to events in Rotherham, England with particular reference to widespread allegations of sexual abuse carried out by gangs of Asian men.  In the period between 1997 and 2013, at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of Asian men.  In most all cases, repeatedly so.  These children were then further abused by the system.  Police didn't believe them or their parents and didn't follow-up on allegations.  The Police lost evidence.  The Social Services department of Rotherham council didn't pursue allegations.

Some of you may already have heard of Rotherham and its Social Services department.  They are one and the same group that removed foster children away from a family because that family were found to be members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).  This is a party that, amongst other policies promotes the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union and also tougher immigration policies.  Given what we now know about Rotherham Social Services, it might have served those foster parents better if they had simply declared themselves as paedophiles and rapists instead of the supporters of a legitimate political party.  A party that is, because of its popular policies, seriously threatening to the major parties.

Let me though get back to this latest scandal. 

Look again at the dates mentioned above - 1997 to 2013.  In 2002, following increasing concern amongst youth workers and mounting evidence, a 'draft report' was prepared which highlighted these concerns and the strong evidence of child sexual exploitation being carried out on a large scale.  This report didn't see the light of day because senior police and council officials objected to the criticism of their organisations contained therein.  So the abuse continued and probably still continues. 

An opportunity to face-up to the failings of the perennially Labour-run council was missed and young children paid the price for years and years.  Lest I being accused of bringing party politics into this issue and making political capital out of this tragedy - a charge regularly trotted out by Labour, to deflect justifiable criticism - let me say that on the abdication of responsibility for its failings, Labour has previous form.  I have written here on the awful Mid Staffs events and here on the tragedies in Cumbria.  These can be considered just the tip of the incompetence iceberg that is Labour.

The Labour party cannot distance itself from responsibility.  These events happened on their watch!  They were in charge and they chose either to simply close their eyes or willfully to ignore the plight of the abused children on the grounds of political correctness.  If Labour had pursued the allegations, they would have exposed the cancer eating at the heart of the Asian community in Rotherham and other Labour-run towns.  A cancer that has gangs of Asian men - most all, seemingly Muslim - preying on young girls (though young boys were also targeted) .  Grooming them and then gang-raping them and forcing them into prostitution and trafficking them.

And so to the title of this piece. 

The Labour Party councillor in charge of Children's Services for 2005 to 2010 was Shaun Wright.  He resigned in 2010, as mounting evidence of the abuse became more widely known.  He was subsequently selected, as the Labour Party candidate for the elected position of Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire - I am not making this up!  In what was previously styled as the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire, he was duly elected.  Note, prior to the emergence of UKIP, ballot papers in such areas were not so much counted as weighed, such was the dominance of Labour. 

This Shaun Wright  is still in office.  His deputy, Tracey Cheetham, has resigned.  Ms Cheetham is also a Labour party councilor and, since she represents Barnsley, another rotten Labour borough but one not so far stained by the muck sloshing around in Rotherham, she can be seen to be doing the decent thing and quitting.  Mr Wright has quit too.  Not his £85,000 a year job but the Labour Party.  Mr Wright seems to believe that resigning from Rotherham Council, in 2010 was all the resigning he needed to do!

Mr Wright isn't alone though.  Martin Kimber, the Chief Executive of Rotherham Council has also chosen to remain in his £158,160 paid post.  The 'Strategic Director of Children and Young People Services' is the fifth person to hold that title since 2009.  The £112,080 is no doubt a comfort and would be difficult for many to simply give-up.  Some might say that Mr Kimber, appointed in 2009 and the Strategic Director of etc., came late to the scene and don't need to resign.  I say that that is simply rubbish!  They get these high salaries and inflation-proof and high pensions because they  are supposed to take responsibility.  Kimber earns a higher salary than David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister!

Mr Wright should resign or should be fired and when fired his pension should be withheld.

Mr Kimber should resign or should be fired.  So too should the 'Strategic Director of Children and Young People Services'.

The pensions of the former Chief Executives and the former  'Strategic Director of Children and Young People Services' should be cut.  These people simply didn't earn them. 

The Police too should clean house.  Police officers simply didn't do their job.  The Jay Report tells tales of the police being told about suspected abuse and the police ignoring this because they had other matters to pursue.  Police officers need to be fired and pensions cut.

They all failed to do their jobs and they all failed the people of Rotherham.  Mostly though, they all failed the young people who have had their lives ruined by their negligence and by the criminal behavior of others.   

The politicians in Rotherham should also resign, if their tenure started before 2013.  They too have failed the people of Rotherham.  I suspect that part of their failure was politically motivated.  They simply didn't want to alienate a core constituency - the Asian vote - by highlighting the atrocities being meted out by members of that community.  Enough being coy.  Asian community is the politically correct term for Pakistani males.  For it is them, Pakistani men, that have committed these crimes - crimes against young children.  Some of these Pakistani men are now in prison but many more are out there, still committing these awful crimes.  Check out the stories on the Oxford and Rochdale sexual exploitation rings and you will find the common thread.  The political elite and police and councils cowering behind political correctness refuse to name this menace - predatory Pakistani males - for what it is. 

If these council officers, police officers and local politicians had the merest shred of common decency, then they would resign, immediately.  If they don't they must be sacked.






Saturday, August 23, 2014

Answer to the ISIS dilemma

Western governments are in denial.

Right now they know that there is no appetite for any kind of 'boots on the ground' nor for any tie-up with the odious Assad regime. 

So what can they do to address this very significant threat? 

They are no doubt counting on ISIS' fifth columns within the USA, UK and France to commit bombing atrocities such that a groundswell of opinion for military intervention builds.  They must calculate how many bombings are needed.  Another Boston or maybe a spectacular like 9/11 or another Fusilier Lee Rigby or 7/7 in London?  Or maybe this time in Paris, which has a very special concern about its growing and self-alienated Muslim minority?

We should be alarmed because these atrocities will occur.  There is an inevitability about this that has escaped the media.

Islam is a religion of dominance.  Its adherents allow for no 'non-believers'.  You are either a Muslim and follower of Mohammed or you are an infidel.  Simply put, ones that doesn't follow Islam.  It will come as no comfort to Christians, Jews, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, Atheists or those that follow the Jedi tradition, that their long and  often deeply held beliefs, count for nothing.  They are infidels and they must either convert to Islam or be punished.

The punishment is now being meted out on a daily basis in Iraq, to Christians and to Yazidis.  Also now, we hear, to Shiite Muslims.  The punishment is death.  There is no concept of co-existence, no 'my way or the highway'.  It's the Muslim way or death! Nothing extreme about this Sunni Muslim religion!  Think about this when you next hear some liberal fool tell you that Islam is the religion of peace!   Look twice and listen thrice at the 'moderate' Islamist that says that these fanatics don't represent the true face of Islam.  Simply put, these fanatics do represent Islam.

Catholics and Protestants fought many wars and caused countless deaths in furtherance of the schism in Christianity but the numbers have the potential to fade into insignificance compared to the deaths that will flow from the conflict between the two strands of Islam.  The 8 year long Iraq/Iran war cost the lives of an estimated million souls but that can be viewed as an appetizer for the multi-course banquet of death that awaits.  The 200,000 deaths in the proxy war being fought in Syria is also barely a taste of things to come. 

Right now, Sunni Saudi Arabia, with its extreme (though that term is relative) Wahabi sect, is at war with Shiite Iran and, in Syria and Iraq, the Saudis are in the ascendancy.  I say this, not to seek support for Iran, who are as likely to be as murderous as are the Saudi and Qatari backed ISIS fanatics.   Rather, this is a statement of the current state of play, however, should as seems ever more likely, Iran complete its quest for nuclear weapons, then the whole dynamic changes. 

In this goal of achieving a nuclear capability,  the Iranians are being aided by the inept policies of the Obama administration and a resurgent Russia (also a beneficiary of Obama's failed policies) as well as a feeble European Union foreign affairs effort.

The civilised world faces an existential battle. 

Communist China is feeling the effects of this.  India has seen this in the recent past, so has , Argentina, France, Nigeria and the aforementioned USA and UK to name just some of the countries.  Even the peacefully neutral Swedes and Norwegians are experiencing the conflict between their open societies and those of their Islamic migrant communities.  Denmark too has seen the illiberal consequences of allowing a cartoonist to publish his works.  Indeed Russia too, has tragic experience of trying to co-exist with the 'religion of peace' but Putin, having, some in the West say 'brutally dealt' with Islamic dissidents and terrorists, is currently playing a different game to secure Russia's borders and to poke America and the EU, in the eye at every opportunity.

So the solution?

First some history. 

When the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait in 1990, Margaret Thatcher was reported as telling the American President, George H Bush, not to go 'wobbly' and to have 'stiffened his spine' on the issue of confronting Saddam.  She saw the threat posed by Saddam and so too did Bush #1 quickly come to this realisation.

With, ISIS, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the civilised world faces a similar choice - either we fight now, in the sands of Arabia and Persia or we fight soon on the streets of London, Paris, New York, Beijing and Dehli.

Make no mistake, this is a fight that isn't going to go away.  It takes a certain type of fanaticism to hack-off the heads of people that don't follow your brand of religion.  The same kind of fanaticism that causes people to fly planes into buildings or walk into a hotel and randomly shoot people or to strap on a suicide bomb vest and detonate the bomb in a crowded market place.  Does it sound like these are people that can be reasoned with?  The lure of the 72 virgins is just too great for these people.  So since death is what they most want, death should be visited upon them and their supporters.

The solutions are not pretty but there is nothing nice about the aftermath of a suicide bombing or the beheading of innocents.

The world needs to decide where it stands and then back-up their declared position.  Russia needs to say if they are with the West or against it.  There can be no fence-sitting or neutrality.  Why?  Well this is about all-out war.  And it will be bloody and terrible.  ISIS and similar intolerant organisations need to be destroyed, not neutered, annihilated completely. 

Similarly Saudi Arabia and Qatar need to be brought to heel.  They cannot enjoy the fruits of western civilisation and industry while at the same time seeking the destruction of those societies.  The leadership of these countries need to be changed to reflect the required new direction that these countries must take.

Iran must immediately cease funding its proxies in Lebanon and Palestine and completely destroy its nuclear programme.  Again, regime change is needed.

Pakistan must give-up its nuclear weapons.  At this time the state is too unstable to be trusted with such weapons.  Its security services operate as a 'state within a state' and must be brought under democratic control before they decide to pass on enriched uranium to Islamic terrorists.

In Iraq and Syria, the allies - those that are 'with us' - need to impose a very heavy and brutally ruthless, military solution.  Any opposition, any, must be crushed and crushed completely.  There can be no hand-wringing in the media or from liberals in the West.  The consequences of a softly-softly approach can already be seen on the streets of our cities where ISIS fellow-travelers become ever more bold in pushing their murderous ideologies.  Where Islamsists kill a British soldier , on the streets of the capital and try to hack-off his head.  Where Islamists explode bombs at the finish-line of a marathon race.  Unfeeling brutality and force must be met with the a multiplied version of the same.  Make no mistake though, this will mean bombs dropped by planes and so called civilian casualties but we will also require to put 'boots on the ground'.  We will also need to impose economic sanctions against these people - starve them of the goods and yes, foods,  that their people need.  Frankly faced with pictures of the victims of ISIS or the pictures of starving ISIS followers, I would always be moved by the former and never by the latter.

The approach to Iraq and Syria must also be applied in North Africa and Nigeria.

In the home countries, Islamists must also make a decision.  Are they with their home country, in the existential fight against radical Islam or are they with the enemy?  If the latter, then they must be imprisoned - yes whole families interred.  You, as an Islamist, cannot live in the USA, UK or France etc., and burn the flags of those countries or spit on its soldiers.  You cannot declare certain areas as alcohol-free or forbid people to have dogs or women to walk around without a hijab.  These home countries and their traditions existed ever before you did.

Immediately, the oxygen of publicity must be deprived to Islamic organisations, the Muslim Council in the UK and CAIR in the USA are at best, just apologists for their murderous co-religionists.  They place an equivalence on the actions of these barbarians with those of the West  They insist on applying the laws of the host countries when it suits them, while all the time trying to impose Sharia law.

Immediately, any of the ISIS fighters, from western countries, that return 'home', must be imprisoned.  They must be taken out of circulation.

Immediately, the 'hate' legislation that exists in so many countries must be applied against these people that would threaten our very existence.  They may not all be prepared to be front-line 'fighters' but they support, with their hate-filled words, the elimination of Western ways.    There is a 'hands-off' policy linked to the failed  multi-culturalist policies that the West has adopted, which exempts Muslims from the application of law.  This has to stop.

Immediately, the Palestinian boil needs to be lanced.  The Abbas regime in the West Bank must be issued with an ultimatum.  Either you accept the right of Israel to exist or we (the West) will immediately cease all aid and impose a blockade to starve you into submission and we will fund opposition to Fatah, that does want peace.

In respect of Gaza, a similar ultimatum.  Either give-up the ISIS like Hamas terrorists or face the brutal consequences of your continued intransigence.  You have to decide if you want war or peace but know that war will be total and Gaza flattened!

The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has talked of a generational struggle against this poisonous ideology and other politicians are coming to realise the battles that must be fought.  As said earlier though, this isn't about the traditional 'West'  This struggle affects India, China, Latin America, Africa and indeed, all of the world.

Who are you with?

Friday, August 22, 2014

The good news from Ferguson

First, the bad news, I'll come to the good news in a moment. 

A black youth was killed by a police officer, in Ferguson.  That is an accepted fact.  And it is of course, very sad that yet another life has been violently ended.  It is not clear if the police officer will be charged for the death.

The youth, Michael Brown, certainly won't now be tried for the violence and intimidation that he inflicted upon a shopkeeper from whom he stole, immediately prior to the shooting event.  As we have seen in recent days, the almost cherubic image that is portrayed by the photograph displayed on British media, is now transitioning to a more complete picture.   This is a picture of a 6' 4" individual weighing 290 lbs (130Kg).  You get a good sense of what those bare statistics mean when one views the confrontation between Michael Brown and the diminutive shopkeeper.  Michael Brown was a powerful young man and seemingly was prepared to use that power in furtherance of criminal activity.

Indeed, the circumstances surrounding the shooting are in dispute but Darren Wilson, the police officer that shot and fatally wounded Michael Brown, was assaulted by Brown.  The degree of Wilson's injuries is disputed - some saying a swollen and bruised face and others saying a fractured eye-socket.  What isn't disputed is that Wilson did suffer injuries.  Also that prior to this, Wilson had a clean disciplinary history in his 4 years with the police department.

There is a clamour for Officer Wilson to be tried for the 'murder' of Michael Brown.  It will come as no surprise that the usual suspect, race-baiter (and sometimes FBI snitch) Al Sharpton is leading the charge for Wilson's arraignment.  Sharpton, you may recall, led the campaign related to the case of Tawana Brawley, in 1987.  This, then 15 year-old girl, made accusations that she was raped by 6  white men.  These allegations were found to be entirely without foundation though not before Sharpton whipped-up community anger and garnered much media attention by insisting that the alleged rape was racially motivated.

This time, Sharpton has a black president in the White House and a black Attorney General and these two now come onto the scene.  President Obama's comments have been reasonably moderate as he needs to be mindful of not prejudicing the ongoing inquiries (and also no doubt his plunging poll ratings).  Eric Holder has been somewhat cautious in his remarks but has shown by his visit to the family of Brown and comments about his experience as a black man, where his sympathies lie.

Eric Holder though, is the good news we have all been waiting for.

Eric Holder has discovered that he has jurisdiction over the FBI.  Indeed such power that he can order that the FBI sends 40 investigators to look into the shooting of Michael Brown and 'establish the truth'.

Now I think this is very encouraging.

I am heartened by Holder now finding out that he can order the FBI to conduct investigations.  Perhaps he can now move away from such issues as the Michael Brown case, which stir so many negative memories from his own youth, and move on to other matters which pre-date Michael Brown's death.

I am talking about, Holder setting the FBI loose on the IRS scandal or the deaths in Benghazi  of 4 American citizens.  Or investigating the scandal surrounding the porous southern US border or the flagrant disregard for human life shown by personnel within the Veterans Administration.  Other than the IRS scandal, these issues have all generated far more deaths than the single tragedy that was Michael Brown.

I know that most people would expect that any investigation of these scandals would bring hard times for the Obama administration but, when Holder isn't playing the race card -given the frequency that he does play this card, he must surely be using two decks - he insists that the integrity of his office requires that he act properly etc. and so we can surely expect that now that Holder knows he has an investigative arm, he will use this on these scandals?  Do you think??

I know that former IRS chief, Lois Lerner, keeps taking 'the fifth' but surely a concerted effort by the FBI can discover or recover some or all of those deleted e-mails?  In this digital age, our electronic 'prints' go far, deep and wide!

Similarly, the premier investigators at the FBI could uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the maladministration of the VA?  Shinseki fell on his sword and was replaced but the fundamentals - veterans being denied medical treatment for extended periods of time - continue.  The head has been changed but the cancer at the heart of the administration carries on eating away and causing the unnecessary deaths of former military personnel.

Maybe the investigators could also look into the activities of the race-baiter, Al Sharpton.  This man has made an industry out of his hatred of white people.  He loses no opportunity play the blame game - the one where all of the ills of society are the fault of the white man!  In a world where children get suspended from school, because they abuse another child by calling their actions 'gay', surely the hatred that spews from the maw of Sharpton is an actual crime, in addition to being an aural one?

Take heart though!  Holder now knows he can investigate!!




Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams - perspective

I don't seek to offend but some will not like this post.

Robin Williams died this week.  It seems that he was suffering from 'depression' and may have been aware of the early onset of Parkinson's Disease as well as facing financial bankruptcy.  So he took his own life.

That is sad.  Forget all the stuff about his being a great comedy actor and comedian, his family have lost a father and a husband.  As said, earlier, that is truly sad and if they wanted them, the family would have my condolences.  I would offer them the same as I do for any death of which I hear.  These are heartfelt but some might say only cursory as in many cases I do not know the deceased, however, as a Christian I pray they and Robin Williams rest in peace and rise in glory.

That's almost it from me, as regards the suicide of Robin Williams, however, I do have something further to say about the reaction to his death.

This was out of all proportion.  Yes he was a funny man and as said, his passing is a loss for his family and perhaps the world is a little bit more of a sadder place, without his presence but a sense of proportion is called for.

On the days before his death, when he was maybe pondering the troubles that ailed him, people were dying in Iraq and in Syria.  Dying really doesn't do it justice.  They were being murdered.  In the case of Iraq, they really doesn't cut it either.  They were being butchered for their beliefs.

They may have had 'depression' like so many people claim to now know so much about, although I think that 'depression' is a 'western' concept.  In the Yezidi and Christian villages of Iraq, they might feel 'down' about their crops or the marriage prospects of their children or a thousand and one other mundane things but in those villages, they just had to get on with life.  $500 an hour shrinks (or however much these charlatans charge) aren't thick on the ground in rural Iraqi areas.

One of those thousand and one other things which might have caused mood swings was likely to be, will ISIS or the Islamic State (IS) as they now style themselves, come to our village.  If they come will my neighbors denounce me as a non-Muslim or rather as a non-Sunni Muslim, since even Shias are not safe.

The existential threat posed by IS, carries with it the ability to focus the mind.  Not on deep and dark inner worries and mis-givings.  No, but onto how do I survive?  How do I get my family to safety?  The introspection suggested by depression is a luxury that much of the world, and certainly those facing beheadings in Iraq, simply cannot enjoy.

So, to the reaction.  The media was immediately flooded with tributes from so called celebrities bemoaning the loss of a comic 'genius'.  Then these tributes were re-cycled and re-cycled.  None of these 'celebs' paused to mention the true tragedy that was occurring at the same time, on the other side  of the world.  None thought to question whether the drug abuse that Robin Williams had previously admitted to, might have messed-up his mind so much that suicide could seem like a reasonable way out of whatever was troubling him.  None thought to ponder, how many people, right there in the USA, might decide that the debt burden that they and their children have is just so great that they can't go on and so take their own lives?  That this debt or other troubles was such a 'downer' that they felt depressed enough to end it all?  I am sure that there were people hearing of Williams' death and thinking to themselves 'Williams should have tried to walk a mile in my shoes.  Williams should have had to worry about from the next meal was coming or how the hospital bills, for Grandma, could be paid.  Then Williams would know what depresses me!'

And if that person was on a mountainside in Northern Iraq and heard of Williams' death, whether that person knew of Williams or not, I believe that the thoughts from the depths of their depression, would not be ones of sympathy but would be ones of 'how do I save my family' .  They would have a sense of perspective.  They would understand that Williams chose to end his life.  They would understand that they and their fellow Christians or Yezidis have only two choices  - flee and maybe die, or stay and certainly die.

When people mourn Robin Williams, I trust that they will also remember the thousands of people that are being murdered in Iraq and Syria.  People that don't have a global fan-base.  People that were  content to live a 'simple' rural life, far away from the glamour and glitz and the psychiatrist's couches of Hollywood. 

Before I get accused of speaking ill of the dead, in respect of Williams and venting my anger and such against him, let me be clear.  I do feel angry about Williams' death but more so about the reaction to this death.  President Obama spoke eloquently about the death of this individual.  If only he had spoken so about the thousands that are dying elsewhere.  Dying not at their own hand but at the hands of fanatical butchers.  I feel angry that the media make such a spectacle of the death of someone like Williams, who chose to take his own life or of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who effectively did the same by overdosing on a cocktail of drugs and yet say so little and show even less of the horror being inflicted on others because of their beliefs.  Do we say that because these people have chosen their god, that their murder is somehow equated to a suicide? 

When did we get to the state that the death of a celebrity out ranks the genocide of a people?  

If you've read this far, you perhaps understand the lack of perspective that has been shown by the media and politicians.  If you agree with me, please pass this blog onto others and help raise awareness of the genocide of Christians (and Yezidis)  that is happening in Iraq.  Today there are no Christians in Mosul, the city that was recently overrun by IS, for the first time in 2,000 years!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Scotland's turmoil

The people of Scotland are around 40 days away from making a momentous decision - to remain part of the United Kingdom or to become an independent nation. The referendum question is straightforward enough but as with such things, the devil is in the detail.

In this case, there are more than a few unanswered questions and the recent TV debate between the leader of the pro-independence Scottish Nationalists, First Minister Alex Salmond and the leader of the Unionist Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, did nothing to resolve the key ones.

I will declare an interest at the outset. I sincerely hope that the Scottish people vote to remain within the United Kingdom.  So if my comments seem somewhat slanted you will perhaps understand.

I live overseas and didn't manage to view the debate but by most all accounts, Alastair Darling and the Vote No campaign, won the debate in terms of people's pre and post views on how they would vote.  Certainly amongst the 15% or so that are 'undecideds'.

The reason for the 'No' victory is, I believe, due to the lack of answers, from Alex Salmond, on key issues.

What currency will Scotland have after independence?  Alex Salmond is insistent that it will be the existing Pound Sterling.  The UK political parties, in a rare show of unanimity have said that this will not be possible.  That the UK will not enter into the required currency union, with a post-independent Scotland.  You might think that the UK is being petty and peevish by such actions.  Maybe even that they are a poor loser, however, this is the stated policy of all of the major UK parties.  We know that politicians usually have only a limited attachment to the promises that they make but I think that the very public and very united approach that they have taken to this one, would mean that reneging on it would be very difficult.  Critically though, as I posted here , the Scottish Nationalists have no Plan B.

Alex Salmond has pinned his colours to the mast and said that Scotland will use the Pound Sterling.  That's it.  All the ramifications of this?  Scotland will use the Pound Sterling.  What kind of independence is this, when economic policy is effectively decided by another country?  Scotland will use the Pound Sterling.  How will Scotland use the Pound Sterling - or as Salmond now likes to call it, the Scottish Pound! - when the rest of the UK says no? Scotland will use the Pound Sterling!!

Another unanswered question which, to my mind is inextricably linked to the currency question is membership of the European Union.  Comments from European Commission leaders and European political leaders have not endorsed, for one minute, the Independence campaign's assertion that a newly independent Scotland would automatically be a full member of the EU.  Some have gone further and indicated that Scotland would need to apply for membership and go through the lengthy process of candidacy.   What is clear though, is that any new member of the EU is expected to adopt the Euro currency so where would that leave Alex Salmond's   'Scotland will use the Pound Sterling' assertion?

The third unanswered question, also linked to currency, relates to debt.  As in how much debt would the newly independent take-on from the United Kingdom.  Most pundits expect that it would be somewhere in the region of 8-10% of the UK National Debt as these numbers represent the relative share of UK population and GDP.  When Czechoslovakia split-up in 1992, population was the basis used as the measure.  this doesn't seem unreasonable.  Speaking of Czechoslovakia, they too had the currency dilemma.  Their solution was to continue with the existing  currency - score one for Alex Salmond - however, within a matter of months, two currencies were developed and the initial equality of exchange rate, soon fell away.

Linked to debt is the question of future liabilities.  This mainly relates to state benefits such as state pension.  These are largely unfunded and so paid out of current national income.  Scotland has something of a demographic time-bomb with its population aging being a greater proportion of the overall population, than occurs in the rest of the United Kingdom.   Does this get taken into account?  It certainly doesn't seem to have been considered by the pro-Independence politicians, who promise ever greener pastures and higher pensions in the free Scotland utopia that will come to be!

These are critical questions that need to be answered.  I doubt that they will be, during the coming six weeks - Alex Salmond will continue to rely on the 'heart' ruling the 'head' and winning because of that.  I sense though that the consistency of the No vote, in polls - always more than 50% - is because people, while liking the idea of an independent Scotland, realise that the actual notion has just not been properly thought through.  I suspect this is because, on an economic basis, the arguments simply don't stack-up - that Scotland is better-off, financially speaking, as a member of the United Kingdom.

Three other things to think about, this morning.

You will notice, after Salmond's less than stellar performance in the TV debate, that people in the Yes campaign are starting to distance themselves and the campaign, from Salmond.  Things are being said such as 'Salmond isn't the leader of the Vote Yes campaign' and so on.  Complete hogwash!  Say what you like about Salmond but please don't try to kid people that he has been anything other than at the forefront of the campaign for an independent Scotland for the last 30+ years.  And, frankly, he has been resolute in pushing the independence agenda.  Alex Salmond and the Scottish Nationalist Party continue to lead the Vote Yes campaign and don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise.

One worrying thing that is now on the horizon is the suggestion that the UK Parliament will grant extra powers over taxation and some other matters, to the devolved parliament in Scotland, should Scotland vote to remain in the United Kingdom.  This is absolutely the wrong way to proceed.  It is wrong to seek to bribe the people of Scotland and it is wrong to continue to penalise the people of England.  Post the 2015 General Election, the so called Barnett Formula, which is used to apportion government spending, must be changed and Scotland cannot be 'ring-fenced' from the effects of such change.

I posted here  about the possibility that the Shetland Islands might seek independence from Scotland and take-away with it, all of that oil wealth that the mainland so desperately needs.  What then for an independent Scotland.

Scotland should vote No!