Saturday, January 24, 2015

Debating lunacy

April 1st has come early this year.  Or at least it would seem, based on the foolish behaviour of  Britain’s main broadcasters.
It seems that these puffed-up arbiters of what or who  represents  politics in the United Kingdom have decided that they will invite seven party leaders to two TV debates, during the upcoming General Election and if any party refuses then there podium will bear an empty seat.  This threat is an apparent attempt to force the Conservatives to attend as until now they have questioned the format and attendees.
Really!  Who do these broadcasters think they are?    Who elected them!

Consider for a moment who they have selected to attend. 

Conservatives  36.1% in 2010 General Election  (307 parliamentary seats)
Labour  29% (258)
Liberal Democrats 23% (57)
Scottish Nationalists 1.7%  (6)
Greens 1%  (1)
Plaid Cymru 0.6% (3)
UKIP 3.1% (0)

Now consider who they haven’t invited. 

British National Party 1.9% (0)
Democratic Unionist Party 0.6% (8)
Sinn Fein 0.6% (5)

The Scottish Nationalists and Plaid Cymru only put-up candidates in their home territories and their agenda is a national rather than UK one. And yet they will be invited to attend.  Not so though, Ulster’s DUP or terrorist front-men,  Sinn Fein. 
As foul as their policies are, using the warped criteria of the BBC and ITV, shouldn’t the overtly racist British National Party get a seat at the table?

The reality is that the only debates that matter, will be those between Conservative leader, David Cameron and Labour leader, Ed Miliband.  There just might be an argument for having Nigel Farage in the room as well, given the current opinion polling position of UKIP and the UKIP successes in recent local and European elections (though my personal opinion is he should not be invited)  but certainly none of the others should participate. 

To include the others is political pandering.  The BBC and other main stream media have got it into their heads that the SNP will be the king-makers in the next parliament – they will hold the balance of power.

The SNP have stated that they will not form any kind of coalition with the Conservatives.  So that would just leave them with Labour.  The same Labour that they are apparently set to destroy, in Scotland – the very success that makes them a kingmaker comes at the expense of Labour, the only party that they will do a deal with!

Proponents of these debates  suggest that this is a means to aid the democratic process.  That is complete rubbish.  Some things that will be apparent from the debates are;

Labour will not be sufficiently pressed on its Tax, Borrow and Spend policies and exactly how their wild plans can be funded.  In any all-encompassing debate, Labour’s ruinous policies will be supported by the Lib Dems, SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru and maybe even UKIP who are desperately chasing the working class vote and those of Labour’s client class in local government, the civil service and public sector unions.

Nigel Farage and UKIP will be shown to be isolated on Europe and EU membership because all of the other parties, save perhaps the Conservatives, are openly pro-EU (The EU just adores small parties – all the better to more effectively peddle influence to).  The Conservatives have promised a referendum and such has been opposed by all of the other parties, except UKIP.

No one will have the courage to mention the need to curtail the NHS budget.  All of the serious politicians know that the NHS is a financial black hole – you could feed it the whole of the country’s gross domestic product and it still wouldn’t be enough.  You can feed it your babies and you elderly but the beast will never be satisfied.  But no one will say that.

Immigration will be mentioned but again, only UKIP will have the courage to say what most British people think.  Britain is being swamped by immigrants.  What UKIP won’t say though, is that the cause of this is two-fold.  The complete relaxation of immigration controls, brought in during Labour’s 13 years of mis-rule in 1997 to 2010 and the soft welfare policies that makes the UK an attractive destination and at the same time, provides absolutely no incentive for the native work-shy Briton  to come off of benefits and take-up work.

Only the Conservatives will put forward any kind of policy that recognises the need to exploit, using fracking, the shale resources that the UK enjoys.  The Greens and all the other ‘band-waggon’ jumpers-on will be allowed to get away with downright lies about fracking, because the other parties and the media organisations, simply can’t be bothered to  investigate and develop coherent policies.  The Green ‘Watermelons’ after all, are as red inside as Labour, SNP, PC, LD etc.

David Cameron and the Conservatives must refuse to take part in the proposed debates.  The proposals are farcical and represent a debasement of democracy.  They should be joined, in making this stand, by Labour and Ed Miliband.

The winners from these debates though will be the smaller parties who will carefully craft their responses such that the cost of their idiocies is concealed from the British public and they won’t be effectively challenged because the heavyweight Conservatives and Labour will have been told, by their respective media advisors, that it would be counter-productive to act as the Goliath to the Green or SNP or PC, etc., David.

I predict though, that Cameron and Miliband will conform to previous spineless type and will agree to the broadcasters demands’.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Republicans - wake up!

President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech this week.

There really wasn't anything surprising in its content.
The usual - the economy is thriving, its all because of Obama's policies, Obama's foreign policy is paying dividends, Obama wants more money for 'programmes', blah, blah, blah.

What I haven't heard though is a robust and concerted response from the Republicans.  Yes, those members of the party that scored resounding victories in the mid-term elections.   Where are they?  Where is the strong line that says:

 "Mr President, you have shown, over and over again, that you do not want to work with Republicans.  We have gotten the message.  We will now do what we were elected to do!  We are going to represent the people of America.  Therefore, we will oppose any, let us say that again, any attempt at any, repeat any, kind of Amnesty Bill.  We will begin steps to defund Obamacare.  Firstly though, we will revoke any and all exemptions from Obamacare.  We believe that if it is as good as you and your supporters claim, then it must be good enough for Congress and all of the other elites that have wheedled exemptions out of the administration"

"We will begin steps to reduce the deficit by rolling back the frontiers of the state.  We will work with Homeland Security and make such cooperation on a clear quid pro quo basis - as in Homeland Security does its job and seals the southern border and we continue to fund them."

"We will work with the foreign allies of the United States.  We have already begun this process by inviting the Premier of Israel to address Congress.  Countries like Israel, Canada and the European members of NATO, as well as places like Kurdistan deserve America's support both moral and materiel and we will aid this.  We put you on notice that we will not support any further aid to organisations representing Palestinians.  We will actively oppose any further rapproachment with Iran.  Actively means that we will link all of the spending that comes out of the State Department with the furtherance of this policy. "

"We will bring forward, as a response to the budget you present, measures to balance that budget plus to include within that budget, a 10% reduction in the overall spending of the US Government.  It is as clear to us, as it is clear to the American people, that we, as a nation, can no longer afford to live beyond our means"

"We will bring forward measures to rein in the ill-thought policies being pushed by the EPA.  In line with this we will halt the plans affecting coal producing areas and we will bring forward a bill to approve the Keystone 2 pipeline."

"Finally, Mr President, we will oppose, oppose and oppose again, you and your attempts to impose Socialism on the American Republic and to show favour, as you have so far consistently done, to those in the Muslim world, who would do us harm"

Any Republicans out there want to take-up the message?  There is no point in winning elections if you don't use the power that the people have given you!

Friday, January 16, 2015

French lessons

I have been off 'air' for a while, moving jobs and countries.  While I have been otherwise engaged, the horrific attacks on Charlie Hebdo were perpetrated by Islamists who in turn were hunted down and killed by French police and security forces.  The temptation was to immediately rush onto the airwaves and rant and rave (again) about the evil being perpetrated in the name of Islam, etc..  However, I thought maybe a period of reflection might serve me better.  You judge.

Not for the first time, in the last 100 years, French Jews are under attack and being sacrificed at the hands of their fellow-countrymen.  In 2013 French Jews were killed by an Islamist in Toulouse and now we see again, with the attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris, that Jews have been specifically targeted (also at Chalie Hebdo, so it seems).  In the 1940's it was Vichy French that handed over Jews to the Nazis, to suffer at Drancy and extermination camps in the East and today it is the French who again offer-up the Jews - this time to murderous Islamists.  Just as with the Nazis, so with the Islamists, making victims of the Jews won't ultimately save the French!

So we had the big march in Paris, showing solidarity with the victims of Charlie Hebdo.  The BBC, amongst many news organisations made much of this event.  Many words spoken about the right to free speech and expression, as was exemplified by the writers at Charlie Hebdo.  Then, later in the week, Charlie Hebdo released a latest issue of their magazine and lo and behold, it carried a cartoon on the cover that featured Mohammed and was sure to anger Ismalists.   True to form, the fine words spoken by the assembled mass media, just a few days earlier, didn't translate to many of them and their editors having the courage to display the cartoon in question.  I tip my hat though, to Britain's Guardian which did.  I usually hold this newspaper in contempt but here at least they let their actions match their words.  Bravo!

However, before the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo hit the news-stands, we we treated in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and at the Paris march, to speeches from politicians and world 'leaders'.  All spoke of the importance of the right of free speech and how this must be protected.  Then, with the ink not dry on the editorials which commented upon the speeches and the march, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel,  was telling the organizers of the now weekly Pergida marches in Dresden and other German cities, that it would be best if this week's marches were canceled.  I cannot be alone in seeing the complete contradiction in marching for free speech on Sunday and then advising against it, on Monday!  I lack a thesaurus but there has to be a words stronger than rank hypocrisy to describe such actions.

And think of the consequences of this.  Yet further reinforcement of the actions that have gotten us into this mess.  We mustn't offend, we must appease!

The biggest problem facing Europe, and increasingly America, Canada and Australia, is the failure of multi-culturalism.  Let's be very clear, Muslim immigrants in those countries are not assimilating.  No one is saying that they cannot practice their religion but they need to adopt certain of the host country's values.  Tolerance of other faiths, freedom of speech, the host country law being the only law, learning the language, etc..  Absent this, then these immigrants must be considered as a fifth column and a threat to the peace and stability of the host country and they must be expelled, just as you would do with any other threat.

The leftist policy of multi-culturalism has brought us to this and now we have to stand-up and say enough and then we need to do something about it and carry on doing something until multi-culturalism is consigned to the same dustbin of history where one would find Marxism and Communism.  Let's hope though that the victims that suffer during the ridding of multi-culturalism do not number anywhere near the 10's of millions that suffered and died under those other failed ideologies.

I have just re-read the above and wonder who will take-up the cudgels on this?  In Britain the main parties pay lip-service to a need for change.  The Conservatives just maybe might do something.  Labour spouts about the need to do something about immigration but them having been the ones that threw the immigration floodgates, wide open, they won't because of their need for its ethnic, client constituencies.  UKIP says it would but I really can't see them as a realistic electoral success story.

While Barack Hussein Obama is President of the USA, don't expect any push back.  This is the man that says that the Islamic State murderers are not Islamists!   Those people who are killing Yazidis and Christians, in the most barbaric fashion claim to represent Islam.  The people who carried out the attacks in Paris, and those caught-up in yesterday's shoot-outs in Belgium claim to represent Islam.  Yet still Obama shames America by claiming the contrary.  Perhaps he did the right thing by not attending the Paris march.  Though he wouldn't have been alone in sounding hypocritical with his words, his presence would have been an embarrassment.  Never forget, Obama wrote ' when the winds change and turn against Islam, I will stand with the Muslims'  So his loyalties are clearly known!

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 - Prospects and ....

I couldn't think of a word for the other aspect of what we face in 2015 but maybe by the end of this we will have it.

Prospects first then.

The new US Congress convenes in January and has a Republican majority in both houses.  I think that has the prospect of being a good thing.  The newly elected members will join incumbents but critically, these 'newbies' will bring with them a clear mandate from the electorate.  Change is needed in Washington.  That means that Congress needs to clean-up its act.  Less 'pork-barrel' politics and more 'American' policies.  Policies that will start to restore America in the eyes of its friends and its foes.

'American' policies?  Well that means no amnesty for a start.  It is 'American' to emigrate to the USA via legal routes not by hopping over the border accompanied by disease-ridden narco-gang members and others who believe that laws are meant for someone else.

So, no Amnesty and a clear statement to the Department of Homeland Security - Congress will de-fund you if you do not secure the border - that's the Southern border, in case you don't know which one.  Congress will de-fund HS if you don't start deporting, in significant numbers all of those illegal immigrants that entered the US during 2014 and then work backwards, year by year.  Who knows?  In the process you may well come across some Al Qaeda  or ISIS terrorists, on the way.  It's a pretty safe bet that some used the chaos that Obama created on the border, to infiltrate the country.

Again, no Amnesty.  Can't say it often enough.

Obamacare will really kick-in in 2015 and it is the duty of Congress to start the process of repeal and then accelerate so that this is done by the end of 2015 and America enters the 2016 election year with a clear choice between Democrats (who voted the ACA through without even reading it!) and want to reinstate it and with Republicans who oppose such socialistic but more importantly unworkable legislation.

Spending has to be reduced.  The people get it but clearly Speaker John Boehner doesn't.  Obama  has always been a lost cause.  Indeed, the same can be said of all Democrats.  Margaret Thatcher once said 'the trouble with Socialists is that eventually they run out of other people's money to spend' and that is where today, America finds itself.  So as well as spending needing to be drastically reduced, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must be replaced.  Rep. Trey Gowdy and Senator Ted Cruz or Senator Mike Lee would seem to be candidates that best represent the views of the Republican voters.

Spending reductions are also a prospect for British voters - though, (and this is where that .... creeps in) there is every prospect that the parties in the upcoming General Election will fall over themselves to offer money Britain doesn't have and hasn't earned as electoral bribes.  They don't call it 'pork-barrel' in the UK but the result is the same - unaffordable spending fueled by debt.

A gloomy prospect (there's that ...... again) is that the Scottish Nationalists (SNP)  may hold the balance of power and strike an underhand deal with Labour surrounding yet more transfer of powers to the devolved Scottish Parliament.  It is unbelievable but no less true that the SNP who so solidly lost the Scottish Indpendence Referendum now face the prospect of being the major Scottish influence at Westminster.  It says everything about Labour and their woeful leader, Ed Miliband, that we come to this pass.

Incidentally, while we are on the subject of the SNP, how on earth can they possibly be in the ascendancy when they made such huge play about an independent Scotland's prospects but all based on oil at the 'conservatively' set price of $113/bbl.  Oil is currently half that price and all commentators see oil at greater than $100 no time in the near future!

With Labour and the SNP squeezing on one side the Conservatives face the grim prospect of losing power as they are also being assailed from UKIP.  I think that the electorate distrust the Conservatives on Europe and I can't help but have a sneaking suspicion that the Conservatives wouldn't mind losing the election so that the question of an EU referendum becomes someone elses responsibility/headache.

If the Conservatives do regain power, it will likely be to lead a minority government.  That though doesn't preclude the greatest prospect which is deep and meaningful cuts in UK public spending.  This is long overdue and I sense would receive strong support from the working population, if it was properly presented showing the choice between further indebtedness and future impoverishment and an affordable future for Britain and its children.

Back to prospects and  for the first time in a long time,  Europe and immigration will likely be 'front and centre' in the UK General Election and there is every prospect that contra-opinions to those of the metropolitan elite and to the ruling bureaucracy (the real rulers) will  be heard and perhaps a reasoned debate might ensue - we can but hope!

Of course, an easy prospect for the UK is that the key issue will be the economy and its prospects.  These will surely be enhanced if the austerity policies of the Conservatives, however anemic they have so far been, are preferred to those of the profligate debt-fueled spending proposed by Labour.

So, Prospects and .... abound and the above are just a foretaste but we need the following - and by we, I mean not just the USA and the UK, I mean the 'West' needs the following:

US Republicans to follow the electorate given mandate - no amnesty, reduce America's deficit (debt is perhaps too much to ask for), secure the border and start to repair relations with America's natural allies.  The latter will mean abandoning some of Obama's newly close Islamic allies but so be it.

UK Conservatives go forward on an economic plan founded upon lower taxes and much lower public spending.  Also be clear on Europe, if the UK can't get what it wants from a renegotiation, then we will leave.  It is asinine to go into a renegotiation of terms saying that even if the UK doesn't get what it wants, then the Conservatives will still campaign for continued membership.  Oh and one of those things has to be reduced immigration and zero, nada, zilch welfare benefits for any non-Britons.

So, no amnesty, spending cuts and then we can forget about those ........

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 in review

This has been quite a year.  Some things would have been predictable at the start of the year and others not.

It wouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to predict that the Republicans would do reasonably well in the US Mid Terms.  It would though have been rash to predict that they did as well as they actually achieved.

I wouldn't have been so rash to predict that despite such representative progress, the current Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate would then cravenly acquiesce and pass the so called 'Cromnibus' bill with $1.1Trillion of new spending.  One long suspected them of being RINOs but to so blatantly, and especially so soon after the Mid Terms, ignore the crystal clear direction from the American people, takes some kind of special courage or blindness and deafness.  Or is it just arrogance?

Clearly though, Mitch McConnell in the Senate and John Boehner in the House must be deposed and replaced by real Republicans who understand the message that the people of America delivered on November 4th. .  Roll on January and a new Congress and a new GOP leadership.

Also predictable was the results from the August killing of Michael Brown, in Ferguson.  Protests about police brutality, Al Sharpton backing-up a fuel truck to add to the flames, rioters that 'trash' their own neighborhoods and loot and steal from their own people, the Obama administrations use of the incident to push their progressive agenda.  Following on, when the Grand Jury decided that based on the evidence that they had the killing was justified, we saw the normal reaction from people who demand justice but don't accept it, when it doesn't coincide with their version of justice.  Same thing happened in New York.  In both cases the 'victim' was held-up as some kind of angel, a gentle giant, if you will.  Of course the airing of the security video of Michael Brown stealing from a store and assaulting the store-owner, in the process, put the truth to that lie.

I don't though, think that I could have predicted the length or depth to which Obama and,  departing but not soon enough, Attorney-General Eric Holder would drag the US Government.  They spoke of understanding the anger.  Of empathizing.  Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.  So called 'progressives' always use 'equivalence'  and historical reference to justify the unjustifiable.  America once had slaves that were brought to the country from Africa - therefore anything that these people do, even if it is 150 years after they were emancipated, is allowed because it is a reaction to that wrong that was done to their ancestors!

All crime statistics show that American blacks are more likely to die at the hands of another black than they are at the hands of a white cop.  People point to the disproportionate number of black people in America's prison population and see this as some kind of racism.  So let's ignore the fact that America's blacks - especially young black men - are much more prone to violence and crime and end up getting convicted as a result of the choices (bad ones) that they make.  Instead, let's blame it on white slave owners from the 19th century (who, incidentally were largely Democrats, which is why the Democrat Party so opposed the abolition of Slavery!!)

It would have been good but probably unpredictable, to see black role models step-up and tell young black males that if you go around stealing and terrorizing people then you will end-up in jail or dead.  Not because you are black but because you are committing a crime.  If you want the latest clothes or shoes or cars, then do what most people do - work for them.  If you want a job, don't go to an interview with your ass hanging out of your trousers and you all 'blinged-up' and talking like only another gang-banger could understand.   The government can only offer blacks hand-outs.  If they need a hand-up, then they need to reach for it, themselves!

ISIS was entirely predictable - Obama's administration has abdicated responsibility in the Middle East.  They equate the self-defence actions of the Israelis with that of an 'apartheid' state and allow a terrorist organization such as HAMAS to go unpunished for their crimes.  There is even talk that the USA might impose some kind of sanctions against Israel!  having lifted sanctions against Iran, I suppose that the machinery needs to be put to work somewhere!

Talking of Iran, there are rumours that an agreement exists but it isn't being publicised because the Iranians need time to 'sell it' to the people and the Ayatollahs!

Other predictable events from 2014

All UK political parties falling over themselves to offer a blank cheque to the NHS.

The SNP, having lost the Scottish Independence Referendum, continuing to push for all of the trappings of independence without any of the responsibility.  Equally predictable that they are allowed to get away with their claims about independence making economic sense for Scotland and these all being based on oil at an average price of $113 a barrel.  Now it is around half that price, the fragility of their policies are exposed!

UKIP doing well as Britain, or perhaps more accurately  England come to reject the recent but rapid implementation of 'multi-culturalism'.  I think that the biggest problem with 'multi-culturalism' is that it allows no place in the 'multi' part for the indigenous culture.  Britons feel swamped because their values are being replaced.   And politicians from the three main parties are seen to be complicit in this.

Germany winning the World Cup wasn't so predictable but was fully deserved.  England going home early, was, sadly always on the cards.  Australia thrashing England in the Ashes was ominously predictable.  The England win in 2013 was much more slender and lucky than the scorelines suggested.  One wonders how the awfully tragic death of Philip Hughes will affect the bowling of Mitchell Johnson, in the future.

Unfortunately, the post-January fall-off in Arsenal's Premier League performance was also predictable though one always travels in hope!

On the personal front, I became a grandfather for the first time and though we don't see as much of my grandson, as we would like - he is in Scotland and we are in the UAE - the wonders of modern communications do help to bridge the gap.

Unsurprisingly, the pause in Global Warming or Climate Change or whatever is the current name that is applied to the non-happening environmental event, continued.   This of course didn't stop countries spending untold billions and impoverishing their people along the way, to try and address the climate change that simply refuses to conform to the expectations of the science and psuedo-science community and all of the other 'hangers-on' and band-wagon jumpers.  Thinking about 2015 and onwards, I predict that people will come to the realisation the this climate change just isn't happening and will demand that their politicians stop wasting money and stop funding the regressive policies of the so called 'progressive agenda'.

Of course it would have been very difficult to predict what happened to those two Malaysian Airlines planes.  One becoming inexplicably lost in the Indian Ocean and the other being shot down  as a victim of Russian expansionism or European Union adventurism, depending upon your viewpoint.  Nevertheless, the loss of life was tragic.

It wouldn't though have been difficult to predict something like the Peshawar school massacre.  The chances of this being perpetrated by the Taliban (Pakistan Branch office) were always high, given the effectively 'failed state' that is Pakistan and the state within a state that is the Pakistan Intelligence Service.  Unfortunately, we can expect more of the same in 2015 and later years.  Indeed, this won't ever cease while so many Muslims silently accept these acts being committed in their name.

Ebola was predictable but not Obama's actions in importing this into the USA.  Like the diseases brought into the USA by illegal immigrants through the US' open Southern border, these could have been prevented but they fit Obama's warped agenda to hollow-out and destroy America.

Boko Haram's action in kidnapping 200 young girls is of a kind with ISIS' enslavement of Yazidi and Christian girls.  The feeble #hashtag effort by Obama and his wife and their Hollywood allies was a  sad reflection of America's declining position in the world.

Crime continued as could be predicted - Oscar Pistorius found guilty, though of a lesser charge.  Rolf Harris and Max Clifford and Stuart Hall convicted on ancient sexual assault charges - though Bill Roach and Michael LeVell acquited.  Not sure how to categorise Dave Lee Travis who was acquitted and then re-charged.

Israel and Gaza fought a war because, predictably, Israel got tired of having rockets fired into its territory and tunnels being used to infiltrate the country.  Equally predictable the leftist media sided with the aggressor Palestinians rather than the defending Israelis.

The most predictable event of 2014?  The USA raising, yet again, its debt ceiling.

Most of the above is, I am afraid a more than a little depressing but some things particularly lifted my spirits this year.

Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize - one in the eye for the Taliban and anyone that wants to hold back women.

The Ice Bucket challenge raised funds for ALS and got people around the world, engaged.

Who cannot have been moved by the tale of Stephen Sutton?  In the short life of this remarkable young man, his story touched so many people and his efforts raised significant funds for cancer research.

Not Happy Holidays but I do wish you a very Merry Christmas and here's hoping 2015 is more peaceful for the world!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

NHS - Enough!

Firstly, let me address some questions to those readers from the private sector.  Public sector employees can think about answers but I doubt you will get it.

So, In the private sector, do you believe that the board of directors or your division's managing director would be calling, year after year for more money to be given to them while offering no guarantees of service?  Let me correct that, while stating that you may not be able to provide a service at all.

Getting specific, do you think it acceptable that the NHS have a ring-fenced budget?  Do you believe that any business in the private sector would be guaranteed that whatever their performance the organization will receive year on year growth in their funding?   Is your business one where efficiency or lack of it has no effect on the salaries or bonuses of the workers?  Where some of the workers are able to bring in private work and carry it out without anyone talking of a conflict of interest.

Of course these questions all relate to the UK's 'envy of the world' - the NHS.

Socialist politicians who are funded by unions (who now mostly represent public sector workers - with a very large contingent from the self-same NHS) have managed to hijack and effectively close-off any debate about the NHS and politicians of all hues are falling over themselves, to throw ever more money at the NHS.

Le's be clear.  People are living longer, so that presents a natural additional burden upon the NHS.  This is also changing the patient 'mix' for the NHS - more elderly patients with geriatric illnesses and longer times, in hospital, to recover.  Further, people are living longer because of advances in medical science.  These advances though, don't come cheap.

Add to that the usual problem of idiots abusing the NHS - attending Accident and Emergency departments because they have a cold or a headache or some minor ailment.  Layer-on also other abuses by non-Britons who receive treatment, for which neither they nor their governments ever pay and you have a classic squeeze.

That would be the time that any other organization would look at how they can re-organize and learn to adjust their methods and spending plans to meet straitened times.  Time to root out system and process inefficiencies.  Time to look at manning levels, especially middle management.  Time to examine contracts and renegotiate with suppliers - be they PFI financiers or drugs suppliers or nursing unions or doctors and consultants.

This though, doesn't happen in the NHS.  Instead, they simply whine about cash constraints, wheel out some bleeding wounded and allow the level of service delivery to fall and fall and then blame this on 'lack of funding'.  In any other organization, heads would roll but instead, we see and hear politicians promising ever and ever higher amounts of funding.  Funding which will not actually go into service delivery but rather into the pockets of NHS staff - think about that when you next see your doctor or visit the local hospital.

The NHS is a classic example of a nationalized industry - it is there for the benefit of the providers and not for the benefit of consumers.

That is a sorry state of affairs, in this day and age, when people have the advantage of seeing the massive benefits that have already accrued from the state getting 'out of business' but what's worse is that there is no politician that has the courage to call-out the NHS and demand that they change - not one.

Ask yourself if we really get value for money, from the more than £100 Billion that is spent on this service, every year.  Ask yourself if you are prepared to pay ever higher taxes to fund the NHS - if yes, how much more?  5%?, 10%?, 15%?   Ask yourself if taxes don't rise, what else will be cut to feed the NHS beast?  Pensions? Defence? Education?

Then ask yourself when is enough, enough?  When can we clear the socialist claptrap from our ears, eyes and minds and see that this 'envy of the world' isn't the envy but rather, is a service that could easily consume ever larger parts of the national economy and yet not improve its service.

Friday, December 12, 2014

CIA Torture - Means and Ends

Not sure if it counts as one of those weird coincidences that Life throws at us but I was just reading the late but still great Christopher Hitchens' collection of essays and reviews, called Arguably and came upon his piece for Vanity Fair, from August 2008.

In this essay, Hitchens recalls how he undertook an experience of 'waterboarding', courtesy of some Special Forces veterans.  These men had previously completed SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training, part of which included how to resist various forms of torture, one of which was 'waterboarding'.

Hitchens relates that Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the so called 'mastermind' of the 9/11 attacks had supposedly endured 'waterboarding' for two minutes.  Hitchens suspected that his own period was much less but hearing that KSM may have survived a much shorter period, he felt somewhat better.

Hitchens talks of the perpetrators of his 'waterboarding' which he clearly considers as torture, in somewhat awed tones.

"This group regards itself as out on the front line in defense of a society that is too spoiled and too ungrateful to appreciate those solid, underpaid volunteers who guard us while we sleep.  These heroes stay on the ramparts at all hours and in all weather, and if they make a mistake they may be arraigned in order to scratch some domestic political itch.  Faced with appalling enemies who make horror videos of torture and beheadings, they feel that they are the ones who confront denunciation in our press, and possible prosecution.  As they have just tried to demonstrate to me (Hitchens), a man who has been 'waterboarded may well emerge from the experience a bit shaky, but he is in a mood to surrender the relevant information and is unmarked and undamaged and indeed ready for another bout in quite a short time.  When contrasted to actual torture, 'waterboarding' is more like foreplay.  No thumbscrews, no pincers, no electrodes, no rack.  Can one say this of those who have been captured by the tormentors and murderers of (say) Daniel Pearl?  On this analysis, any call to indict the United States for torture is therefore a lame a diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down.  I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint."

Hitchens being balanced, goes on to proffer the views of Mr Malcolm Nance, someone involved with SERE since 19997.  A man who would never be considered a 'bleeding heart liberal', Mr Nance also considers 'waterboarding' as torture and questions the reliability and value  of information so obtained.  He also goes on to suggest that because some of these captives that were 'waterborded', were subsequently released, then these have provided the terrorists with a training exercise which perhaps goes some way to explaining its subsequent inefficiency in actually gaining useful information.

Anyway, all of this is to lead up to the dilemma that we face.

The USA and the UK are among nations that condemn torture and punish this whenever we get the opportunity.   How then to accept the notion that the intelligence services have been using methods which can only be described as torture, to gain information?

Can the 'ends' - life-saving information on terrorist activities - be justified when the 'means' are based on what we consider to be horrific and criminal acts - torture?

The dilemma is compounded by the type of war that is now being waged.  The USA and UK and other 'allies' are fighting an enemy (ISIS, Al Qaeda, HAMAS, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, etc., etc.) which doesn't play by the same rules that are applied to them.  

Indeed, consider the case of Israel and HAMAS.  Israel considers, and all evidence suggests that they are correct, that they are under attack from Gaza by HAMAS.  Israel sees their actions as protecting their people - a fundamental requirement of any government.  HAMAS though take a more global viewpoint on its duties to its 'people'.  To HAMAS, placing rocket launchers in civilian areas, close to schools and hospitals is part and parcel of waging war against Israel.  This then presents Israel with a major dilemma.  Their dilemma is made worse by a media that either allows itself to be manipulated by HAMAS and fellow terrorist organizations or simply accepts the 'party-line' from the terrorists, without ever questioning them or applying to HAMAS, the same standards with which they judge Israel.

So how can the intelligence services fight the 'war on terror' with 'one hand tied behind their back'?  I say that not to specifically condone torture but to put in play the thought that if we are to make progress in this 'war', then we must do so using all available weapons.

It seems to me that we have to endorse some methods, which under normal circumstances, we would abhor, simply because our enemies do not expect us to.

I comfort myself that there are 'checks and balances' within the democratic system to keep the intelligence services under scrutiny.  I don't think it is naive to say that while we do have the power of the ballot box, we can control those who would perform these acts on our behalf.  Equally, I do not see that we have any choice but to ask these men to act as we want them to but we must not then indict and prosecute them if they do so.   That is, we expect politicians to set the 'rules' on our behalf and then so long as the intelligence services stay within those bounds, we cannot apply 'official' laws against them.

Further, it is wrong, on so many levels, for a subsequent administration to seek to re-write rules of engagement, down the road.  One doesn't have high expectations of President Obama but his abandoning of his intelligence services, indeed his throwing of them to the liberal 'West-hating' media, is a new low, even for an administration that  has already plumbed heretofore unseen depths.

So perhaps I have answered my own dilemma, at least for me.  Torture can be acceptable as a means to and end, so long as that process is democratically controlled.  What think you?

Oh and by the way, do buy Christopher Hitchens book Arguably.  His views don't really conform to a stereotype but they are always thought provoking.