Friday, 27 January 2017
A Tale of Two Coups
Moscow 1991 and Washington 2016
by G. Murphy Donovan
The other day I received an email from a schoolgirl in Moscow; New Year’s salutations, thanks for a gift, and a request that read:
“Get your troops out of Poland; love, your Russky niece.”
I laughed about her presumption about my influence on US troop movements. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think of her mother, Tatyana Arkadyevna Malkina, “the girlfriend of Russian democracy.” Apparently, true grit is genetic, that rare courage of a few to speak truth to power.
Malkina was the sole journalist who, at age 24, had the courage to defy the Kremlin establishment, recidivist coup plotters who would have undone the Russian elections, that “revolution without guns” in 1991; those Gorbachev, then Yeltsin, reforms. The ancien regime, totalitarian Communists, were humiliated by a girl who had the courage to face down the old guard and ask: “Could you please say whether or not you understand that last night you carried out a coup d’etat?”
Faced with an accusation of sedition and treason, the coup plotters slunk back into the dustbin of history. The long dark night of totalitarian Communism was over in Russia.
Since 1991, Tanya Malkina pursued a distinguished career in Russian arts and letters, reporting on social issues, editing a culture magazine, and hosting a thoughtful TV weekly.
Tanya later married an American. She now has two children, two cats, and a vintage tortoise. Although Malkina was once a fixture of the Yeltsin, then Putin, press entourage; she has never been a knee-jerk echo of Kremlin cant nor any party line.
Hot flashes of deja vu
The events of 1991 and Malkina’s brass got me to thinking about American coup plotting in Washington circa 2016; the efforts of Beltway establishment totalitarians to cook the primaries, undo an election, and discredit a new president; all under a smoke screen of dissent and fake news.
The parallels between Moscow in 1991 and Washington in 2016 are a tale of two coups, the first a clear failure and the latter still playing out.
Alas, the Trump revolution has no “girl friend of American democracy.” Not yet anyway.
The feminist American left now whines and protests in Washington, captive to a bimbo’s tantrum over a flawed heroine who lost badly in November. Sexist hysteria, hypocrisy, childish pique, misandry, and sour grapes are now regularly conflated with principled dissent. Geriatric Hollywood matrons like Madonna Ciccone say they are thinking about “blowing up the White House.”
Secret Service supervisor Kerry O’Grady says that she will “not take a bullet” for President Trump. Apparently no one at CIA and the Secret Service has heard of the Hatch Act.
Hysteria indeed! American feminists have few adult profiles in courage like Malkina today.
And the CIA, unlike the late KGB, also stages public rebukes to the new POTUS and erstwhile notions of American democracy. For good or ill, Russian intelligence operatives at home, unlike their American counterparts, seem to be under civilian control.
Ironically, some of the best political analysis on these matters comes out of the Kremlin these days. Sergei Lavrov, contrasted with John Kerry, seems to know the difference between an Islamic terrorist and a freedom fighter. And Vladimir Putin is perceptive enough to observe that Obama’s political party, and an American press corps that calls itself “democratic,” is giving democracy a bad name.
And when Obama’s intelligence sycophants are called out by Donald Trump for partisanship during the recent primaries and the election, CIA Director John Brennan plays the victim, openly attacking the president-elect before and after the inauguration. Prior to the election, Brennan’s colleagues, James Clapper (DCI), Michael Morrel (CIA), and Michael Hayden (NSA) were all on the hustings for Hillary Clinton right up to her November defeat.
Clearly, CIA is signaling the 15 other intelligence satraps, that the “dump Trump” campaign should continue into 2017. Brennan has cooked the books on the Islamic threat for eight years. Small wonder that he seeks to torpedo the realpolitik of Mike Flynn and Donald Trump.
CIA partisans, unlike Caesar’s wife, are not above reproach.
Washington, DC voted for Clinton in November by wide margins. A demographic of hostile federal apparatchiks, including intelligence officers and FBI agents, are digging in as Donald Trump takes office.
Beltway national security nabobs, inveterate regime change aficionados, are now on the wrong side of world history. With any luck, the coup plotters are also on the wrong side of Donald Trump – and in the crosshairs.
If the president intends to drain the swamp, he could do worse than start with sedition in the intelligence community and the Justice Department. The first great political struggle of 2017 may be with a partisan, DC based 5th column inside the Beltway.
The loser’s revolt is not confined to the intelligence community. State Department and Department of Defense fixers have done their level best to paint Trump into a corner at the UN and in Eastern Europe. That UN vote against Israel and those 11th hour tank deployments to Poland come to mind.
I do not have an answer for Malkina’s daughter, Agatha in Moscow, or her prescient observation about the stupidity of US tanks in Poland. Were it my choice to make, I would send troops to Chicago, Illinois or Langley, Virginia sooner than send them to the Russian frontier.
After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, John Kennedy is alleged to have expressed a desire to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces.” After Kennedy was assassinated, such sentiments were seconded by Harry Truman. Indeed, Truman expressed profound regret about the rogue agency he had created. The Truman warning, like later Eisenhower cautions, were early symptoms of national “security” corruption, clandestine cowboys, and regime change fiascos.
The Chicago threat is existential, especially to black Americans. Pervasive sedition in the American intelligence community may be existential too, especially to democracy in America. The Russian threat, at best, is a ploy to ignore the Islamist threat; Putin, on his worst day, is a US DOD budget emolument.
Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Truman must be rolling in their graves today.Trump haters, coup vultures, have come home to roost inside the Beltway.
As new American policy unfolds in 2017, let’s hope that Trump has adults calling domestic and foreign policy shots. Withal, we might hope that America finds its own girlfriend of democracy too.
Sooner is better.
G. Murphy Donovan is a former USAF intelligence officer who writes about the politics of national security. The “girlfriend of Russian democracy,” circa 1991, can be seen in action at:
Posted on 01/27/2017 3:07 PM by G. Murphy Donovan
Friday, 27 January 2017
Executive Order: Protecting the Nation Against Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals
Posted on 01/27/2017 6:08 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 27 January 2017
Full Transcript of Theresa May's Speech in Philadelphia
Majority Leader McConnell, Mr Speaker, Distinguished Members of the Senate and Representatives of the House.
I would like to thank Congress and the Congressional Institute for the invitation to be here today. The opportunity to visit the United States is always special. And to be invited to be the first serving Head of Government to address this important conference is an honour indeed.
I defy any person to travel to this great country at any time and not to be inspired by its promise and its example.
For more than two centuries, the very idea of America – drawn from history and given written form in a small hall not far from here – has lit up the world.
That idea – that all are created equal and that all are born free – has never been surpassed in the long history of political thought.
And it is here – on the streets and in the halls of this great city of Philadelphia – that the founding fathers first set it down, that the textbook of freedom was written, and that this great nation that grew “from sea to shining sea” was born.
Since that day, it has been America’s destiny to bear the leadership of the free world and to carry that heavy responsibility on its shoulders. But my country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has been proud to share that burden and to walk alongside you at every stage.
For the past century, Britain and America – and the unique and special relationship that exists between us – have taken the idea conceived by those “fifty-six rank-and-file, ordinary citizens”, as President Reagan called them, forward. And because we have done so, time and again it is the relationship between us that has defined the modern world.
One hundred years ago this April, it was your intervention in the First World War that helped Britain, France, our friends in the Commonwealth and other allies to maintain freedom in Europe.
A little more than seventy-five years ago, you responded to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour by joining Britain in the Second World War and defeating fascism not just in the Pacific but in Africa and Europe too.
And later, in the aftermath of these wars, our two countries led the West through the Cold War, confronting communism and ultimately defeating it not just through military might, but by winning the war of ideas. And by proving that open, liberal, democratic societies will always defeat those that are closed, coercive and cruel.
But the leadership provided by our two countries through the Special Relationship has done more than win wars and overcome adversity. It made the modern world.
The institutions upon which that world relies were so often conceived or inspired by our two nations working together.
The United Nations – in need of reform, but vital still – has its foundations in the Special Relationship, from the original Declaration of St James’ Palace to the Declaration by United Nations, signed in Washington, and drafted themselves by Winston Churchill and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, born in the post-war world at Bretton Woods, were conceived by our two nations working together.
And NATO – the cornerstone of the West’s defence – was established on the bonds of trust and mutual interests that exist between us.
Some of these organisations are in need of reform and renewal to make them relevant to our needs today. But we should be proud of the role our two nations – working in partnership – played in bringing them into being, and in bringing peace and prosperity to billions of people as a result.
Because it is through our actions over many years, working together to defeat evil or to open up the world, that we have been able to fulfil the promise of those who first spoke of the special nature of the relationship between us. The promise of freedom, liberty and the rights of man.
“We must never cease”, Churchill said, “to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law, find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence”.
So it is my honour and my privilege to stand before you today in this great city of Philadelphia to proclaim them again, to join hands as we pick up that mantle of leadership once more, to renew our Special Relationship and to recommit ourselves to the responsibility of leadership in the modern world.
And it is my honour and privilege to do so at this time, as dawn breaks on a new era of American renewal.
For I speak to you not just as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but as a fellow Conservative who believes in the same principles that underpin the agenda of your Party. The value of liberty. The dignity of work. The principles of nationhood, family, economic prudence, patriotism – and putting power in the hands of the people.
Principles instilled in me from a young age. Principles that my parents taught me in the vicarage in Southern England in which I was raised.
I know that it is these principles that you have put at the heart of your plan for government.
And your victory in these elections gives you the opportunity to put them at the heart of this new era of American renewal too.
President Trump’s victory – achieved in defiance of all the pundits and the polls – and rooted not in the corridors of Washington, but in the hopes and aspirations of working men and women across this land. Your Party’s victory in both the Congress and the Senate where you swept all before you, secured with great effort, and achieved with an important message of national renewal.
And because of this – because of what you have done together, because of that great victory you have won – America can be stronger, greater, and more confident in the years ahead.
And a newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world.
An America that is strong and prosperous at home is a nation that can lead abroad. But you cannot – and should not – do so alone. You have said that it is time for others to step up. And I agree.
Sovereign countries cannot outsource their security and prosperity to America. And they should not undermine the alliances that keep us strong by failing to step up and play their part.
This is something Britain has always understood. It is why Britain is the only country in the G20 – other than yours – to meet its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, and to invest 20% of that in upgrading equipment. It is why Britain is the only country in the G20 to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development. It is why my first act as Prime Minister last year was to lead the debate in Parliament that ensured the renewal of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. And it is why the Government I lead will increase spending on defence in every year of this Parliament.
It is why Britain is a leading member – alongside the United States – of the coalition working successfully to defeat Daesh; why we have agreed to send 800 troops to Estonia and Poland as part of NATO’s forward presence in eastern Europe; why we are increasing our troop contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support mission that defends the Afghan government from terrorism; and it is why we are reinforcing our commitment to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, South Sudan and Somalia.
And it is why Britain is leading the way in pioneering international efforts to crack down on modern slavery - one of the great scourges of our world - wherever it is found. I hope you will join us in that cause – and I commend Senator Corker in particular for his work in this field. It is good to see him here today.
As Americans know, the United Kingdom is by instinct and history a great, global nation that recognises its responsibilities to the world.
And as we end our membership of the European Union – as the British people voted with determination and quiet resolve to do last year – we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident, sovereign and Global Britain, ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.
We will build a new partnership with our friends in Europe. We are not turning our back on them, or on the interests and the values that we share. It remains overwhelmingly in our interests – and in those of the wider world – that the EU should succeed. And for as long as we remain members we will continue to play our full part, just as we will continue to cooperate on security, foreign policy and trade once we have left.
But we have chosen a different future for our country.
A future that sees us restore our parliamentary sovereignty and national self-determination, and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit.
A future that sees us take back control of the things that matter to us – things like our national borders and immigration policy, and the way we decide and interpret our own laws - so that we are able to shape a better, more prosperous future for the working men and women of Britain.
A future that sees us step up with confidence to a new, even more internationalist role, where we meet our responsibilities to our friends and allies, champion the international cooperation and partnerships that project our values around the world, and continue to act as one of the strongest and most forceful advocates for business, free markets and free trade anywhere around the globe.
This is a vision of a future that my country can unite around – and that I hope your country, as our closest friend and ally, can welcome and support.
So as we rediscover our confidence together – as you renew your nation just as we renew ours – we have the opportunity – indeed the responsibility – to renew the Special Relationship for this new age. We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.
Because the world is passing through a period of change – and in response to that change we can either be passive bystanders, or we can take the opportunity once more to lead. And to lead together.
I believe it is in our national interest to do so. Because the world is increasingly marked by instability and threats that threaten to undermine our way of life and the very things that we hold dear.
The end of the Cold War did not give rise to a New World Order. It did not herald the End of History. It did not lead to a new age of peace, prosperity and predictability in world affairs.
For some – the citizens of Central and Eastern Europe in particular – it brought new freedom.
But across the world, ancient ethnic, religious and national rivalries – rivalries that had been frozen through the decades of the Cold War – returned.
New enemies of the West and our values – in particular in the form of Radical Islamists – have emerged.
And countries with little tradition of democracy, liberty and human rights – notably China and Russia – have grown more assertive in world affairs.
The rise of the Asian economies – China yes, but democratic allies like India too – is hugely welcome. Billions are being lifted out of poverty and new markets for our industries are opening up.
But these events – coming as they have at the same time as the financial crisis and its fall out, as well as a loss of confidence in the West following 9/11, the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sporadic terrorist attacks – have led many to fear that, in this century, we will experience the eclipse of the West.
But there is nothing inevitable about that. Other countries may grow stronger. Big, populous countries may grow richer. And as they do so, they may start to embrace more fully our values of democracy and liberty.
But even if they do not, our interests will remain. Our values will endure. And the need to defend them and project them will be as important as ever.
So we – our two countries together – have a joint responsibility to lead. Because when others step up as we step back, it is bad for America, for Britain and the world.
It is in our interests – those of Britain and America together – to stand strong together to defend our values, our interests and the very ideas in which we believe.
This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over. But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene. We must be strong, smart and hard-headed. And we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests.
And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or Estonia in the Baltic states, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighbourhoods too.
We each have different political traditions. We will sometimes pursue different domestic policies. And there may be occasions on which we disagree. But the common values and interests that bring us together are hugely powerful.
And – as your foremost friend and ally – we support many of the priorities your government has laid out for America’s engagement with the world.
It is why I join you in your determination to take on and defeat Daesh and the ideology of Islamic extremism that inspires them and many others terrorist groups in the world today. It is in both of our national interests to do so. This will require us to use the intelligence provided by the finest security agencies in the world. And it will require the use of military might.
But it also demands a wider effort. Because one of the lessons of fighting terrorism in the last 15 years or so is yes, killing terrorists can save innocent lives. But until we kill the idea that drives them, the ideology, we will always have to live with this threat.
And as they are defeated on the ground, the terrorists are exploiting the internet and social media to spread this ideology that is preying on vulnerable citizens in our own countries, inspiring them to commit acts of terror in our own cities.
That is why the UK has led the world in developing a strategy for preventing violent extremism, and why the British and American governments are working together to take on and defeat the ideology of Islamist Extremism. I look forward to working with the President and his Administration to step up our efforts still further in order to defeat this evil ideology.
But of course, we should always be careful to distinguish between this extreme and hateful ideology, and the peaceful religion of Islam and the hundreds of millions of its adherents - including millions of our own citizens and those further afield who are so often the first victims of this ideology’s terror. And nor is it enough merely to focus on violent extremism. We need to address the whole spectrum of extremism, starting with the bigotry and hatred that can so often turn to violence.
Yet ultimately to defeat Daesh, we must employ all of the diplomatic means at our disposal. That means working internationally to secure a political solution in Syria and challenging the alliance between the Syrian regime and its backers in Tehran.
When it comes to Russia, as so often it is wise to turn to the example of President Reagan who - during negotiations with his opposite number Mikhail Gorbachev - used to abide by the adage “trust but verify”. With President Putin, my advice is to “engage but beware”.
There is nothing inevitable about conflict between Russia and the West. And nothing unavoidable about retreating to the days of the Cold War. But we should engage with Russia from a position of strength. And we should build the relationships, systems and processes that make cooperation more likely than conflict – and that, particularly after the illegal annexation of Crimea, give assurance to Russia’s neighbouring states that their security is not in question. We should not jeopardise the freedoms that President Reagan and Mrs Thatcher brought to Eastern Europe by accepting President Putin’s claim that it is now in his sphere of influence.
And progress on this issue would also help to secure another of this nation’s priorities – to reduce Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East.
This is a priority for the UK too as we support our allies in the Gulf States to push back against Iran’s aggressive efforts to build an arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean.
The nuclear deal with Iran was controversial. But it has neutralised the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade. It has seen Iran remove 13,000 centrifuges together with associated infrastructure and eliminate its stock of 20% enriched uranium. That was vitally important for regional security. But the agreement must now be very carefully and rigorously policed – and any breaches should be dealt with firmly and immediately.
To deal with the threats of the modern world, we need to rebuild confidence in the institutions upon which we all rely.
In part that means multinational institutions. Because we know that so many of the threats we face today – global terrorism, climate change, and unprecedented mass movements of people – do not respect national borders. So we must turn towards those multinational institutions like the UN and NATO that encourage international cooperation and partnership.
But those multinational institutions need to work for the countries that formed them, and to serve the needs and interests of the people of those nations. They have no democratic mandate of their own. So I share your reform agenda and believe that, by working together, we can make those institutions more relevant and purposeful than they are today.
I call on others, therefore, to join us in that effort and to ensure they step up and contribute as they should. That is why I have encouraged Antonio Guterres, the new UN Secretary General, to pursue an ambitious reform programme, focusing the United Nations on its core functions of peacekeeping, conflict prevention and resolution. And it is why I have already raised with my fellow European leaders the need to deliver on their commitments to spend 2% of their GDP on defence – and 20% of their defence budgets on equipment.
It is also why I have already raised with Jens Stoltenberg – the Secretary General of NATO – the need to make sure the Alliance is as equipped to fight terrorism and cyber warfare, as it is to fight more conventional forms of war.
America’s leadership role in NATO – supported by Britain – must be the central element around which the Alliance is built. But alongside this continued commitment, I am also clear that EU nations must similarly step up to ensure this institution that provides the cornerstone of the West’s defence continues to be as effective as it can be.
Yet the most important institution is – and should always be – the nation state. Strong nations form strong institutions. And they form the basis of the international partnerships and cooperation that bring stability to our world.
Nations, accountable to their populations – “deriving” as the Declaration of Independence puts it “their just powers from the consent of the governed” – can choose to join international organisations, or not. They can choose to cooperate with others, or not. Choose to trade with others, or not.
Which is why if the countries of the European Union wish to integrate further, my view is that they should be free to do so. Because that is what they choose.
But Britain – as a sovereign nation with the same values but a different political and cultural history – has chosen to take a different path.
Because our history and culture is profoundly internationalist.
We are a European country – and proud of our shared European heritage – but we are also a country that has always looked beyond Europe to the wider world. We have ties of family, kinship and history to countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and countries across Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean.
And of course, we have ties of kinship, language and culture to these United States too. As Churchill put it, we “speak the same language, kneel at the same altars and, to a very large extent, pursue the same ideals”.
And, today, increasingly we have strong economic, commercial, defence and political relationships as well.
So I am delighted that the new Administration has made a trade agreement between our countries one of its earliest priorities. A new trade deal between Britain and America must work for both sides and serve both of our national interests. It must help to grow our respective economies and to provide the high-skilled, high-paid jobs of the future for working people across America and across the UK.
And it must work for those who have too often felt left behind by the forces of globalisation. People, often those on modest incomes living in relatively rich countries like our own, who feel that the global system of free markets and free trade is simply not working for them in its current form.
Such a deal – allied to the reforms we are making to our own economy to ensure wealth and opportunity is spread across our land – can demonstrate to those who feel locked out and left behind that free markets, free economies and free trade can deliver the brighter future they need. And it can maintain – indeed it can build – support for the rules-based international system on which the stability of our world continues to rely.
The UK is already America’s fifth largest export destination, while your markets account for almost a fifth of global exports from our shores. Exports to the UK from this State of Pennsylvania alone account for more than $2 billion a year. The UK is the largest market in the EU – and the third largest market in the world – for exporters here.
America is the largest single destination for UK outward investment and the single largest investor in the UK. And your companies are investing or expanding in the UK at a rate of more than ten projects a week.
British companies employ people in every US state from Texas to Vermont. And the UK-US Defence relationship is the broadest, deepest and most advanced of any two countries, sharing military hardware and expertise. And of course, we have recently invested in the new F-35 strike aircraft for our new aircraft carriers that will secure our naval presence – and increase our ability to project our power around the world – for years to come.
Because of these strong economic and commercial links – and our shared history and the strength of our relationship – I look forward to pursuing talks with the new Administration about a new UK/US Free Trade Agreement in the coming months. It will take detailed work, but we welcome your openness to those discussions and hope we can make progress so that the new, Global Britain that emerges after Brexit is even better equipped to take its place confidently in the world.
Such an agreement would see us taking that next step in the special relationship that exists between us. Cementing and affirming one of the greatest forces for progress this world has ever known.
Seventy years ago in 1946, Churchill proposed a new phase in this relationship – to win a Cold War that many had not even realised had started. He described how an iron curtain had fallen from the Baltic to the Adriatic, covering all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe: Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia and Bucharest.
Today those great cities – homes of great culture and heritage – live in freedom and peace. And they do so because of the leadership of Britain and America, and of Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan.
They do so - ultimately - because our ideas will always prevail.
And they do so because, when the world demands leadership, it is this alliance of values and interests – this Special Relationship between two countries – that, to borrow the words of another great American statesman, enters the arena, with our faces marred by dust and sweat and blood, to strive valiantly and know the triumph of high achievement.
As we renew the promise of our nations to make them stronger at home – in the words of President Reagan as the “sleeping giant stirs” – so let us renew the relationship that can lead the world towards the promise of freedom and prosperity marked out in parchment by those ordinary citizens 240 years ago.
So that we may not be counted with the “cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat”, but with those who “strive to do the deeds” that will lead us to a better world.
That better future is within reach. Together, we can build it.
Posted on 01/27/2017 5:42 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 27 January 2017
The British National Health Service Is in Crisis: What Else Is New?
by Theodore Dalrymple
One of the most curious political phenomena of the western world is the indestructible affection in which the British hold their National Health Service. No argument, no criticism, no evidence can diminish, let alone destroy, it. The only permissible criticism of it is that the government does not spend enough on it, a ‘meanness’ (with other people’s money) to which all the service’s shortcomings are attributable. In effect, the NHS is the national religion. Yet again, however, the NHS is in ‘crisis.’ The British Red Cross has called the present situation an incipient humanitarian crisis, as if the country were now more or less in the same category as Haiti after a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster. The Red Cross says that it had been asked to help out at twenty hospitals. NHS crises, which are an inability to meet demand without prolonged and sometimes fatal waiting times (three patients died last week alone while waiting in the corridors of my local hospital), occur regularly, indeed monotonously so. I cannot remember a time without them. Conditions during these crises, including the present one, are regularly reported to be the worst within living memory, which suggests as much a failure of memory as any change in the system itself. For example, I remember a friend’s father being taken to hospital with renal colic and waiting for several hours for attention: and that was forty-five years ago. No one was surprised by it then, as no one would be surprised by it now. The current NHS has a budget 50 per cent greater than it had 10 years ago. It employs 25 per cent more doctors than it did then. It seems to me likely that these increases outstrip any increase in demand during that period, but the net result, according to those who say the present situation is the worst ever, is that it is less able than ever before to perform satisfactorily its most elementary tasks such as treating emergencies promptly. The excuse that demand has escalated is, in fact, in contradiction to one of the now-forgotten founding justifications of the NHS back in 1948: namely that universal healthcare paid for from general taxation, and free at the point of use, would so improve the health of the population that its cost would soon fall rapidly. This, of course, now seems astonishingly naïve, but perhaps the founders may be excused for not having foreseen the immense technical and technological progress of medicine, as well as the increase in longevity, that would drive up costs of healthcare everywhere in the world. Almost certainly, they haven’t finished rising yet. Very quickly after its inception, the NHS established itself as a sacred cow in the mind of the British population. A certain historiography of healthcare became an unassailable orthodoxy: that before the service was established, proper healthcare was not available for the majority of the population which, if it was treated at all, was maltreated. Memoirs of cruelty and neglect under the old system were written, no doubt all of them true or mostly true, for under any conceivable system there will be horror stories. Similar stories could be written after the inception of the service, of course, but somehow they rarely get the traction of the older stories and are treated as regrettable anomalies, as not being representative in the way the old horror stories were representative. The NHS was founded in the great egalitarian aftermath of the Second World War, when a brave new equal world would arise from the ashes of the old. If healthcare were provided to everyone irrespective of his ability to pay, on a foundation of a highly progressive tax system, how could the system fail to be egalitarian? It was its egalitarianism that appealed so strongly to the population. Perhaps there was also the hope that one would get more out of it than one had put into it, that it was a kind of lottery with a much higher chance of a winning ticket than in a normal lottery. Oddly enough, however, and unnoticed by the population or by the NHS’s ideological praise-singers, the NHS had no egalitarian effect, rather the opposite. The difference between the health of the top economic decile of the population and that of the bottom decile, which had been more or less steady for decades, began to widen immediately. Curiously enough, this widening accelerated precisely at a time when most money was spent on the system. The difference in the standard mortality rate of the richest and poorest is now almost double what it was when the NHS began. Now of course, this widening of the difference may not be the fault of the NHS: the health of a population is only partially dependent on its healthcare system. For example, it has been estimated that as much as a half of the difference in life expectancy of the richest and poorest may be attributed to differences in the rate of smoking. But the health of the two deciles, top and bottom, began to diverge even before their smoking habits did so. At the very least, the NHS cannot be said to have had an egalitarian effect. But the myth that it is egalitarian lives on, perhaps because it appears to spread its inconveniences over the entire population equally (but only appears to do so – the reality is very different). Another myth that persists among the British is that foreigners somehow envy them their health service, which might just be true in Nigeria but is certainly not true of any European anyone has ever met. On the contrary, the NHS has a dismal reputation among all Western Europeans and its hospitals are to be avoided like night-time excursions in Dracula country. Very occasionally, support for the mythology comes from elsewhere in the world and is given wide publicity. For example, in 2014 the Commonwealth Fund of New York, a foundation whose purpose is to promote an effective, efficient and equitable health care system, published a report in which it compared 11 western health care systems. According to the report, the British NHS was best on all measures except one, in which it was the worst apart from the US system. The measure on which it was next to worst was the number of deaths preventable by health care. On every other measure it was simply splendid: but this rather reminded me of the Nineteenth Century surgeon’s refrain, ‘The operation was a success, but the patient died.’ No doubt it is naïve of me, but the prevention of preventable deaths seems to me the whole, or at least the most important, purpose of a health care system. If it fails in that, it fails in everything. Nonetheless, when the report was published a lot of publicity was given to the fact that the NHS came out top on the majority of measures. The fact (or perhaps I should say the estimate, for facts are never quite indisputable in this field) that thousands of people die every year in Britain who would have been saved in any other country in Europe simply did not register, any more than that repeated scandals in the Health Service destroy the national affection for it. The response to the report of the Commonwealth Fund’s report reminded me very strongly of an old Soviet joke. A commissar is giving ideological training to the troops when one soldier puts up his hand and asks, ‘Comrade Commissar, is it true that in the United States they have more cars than we in the Soviet Union?’ The commissar thinks for a moment and replies, ‘Yes, comrade, it is true; but we in the Soviet Union have more parking spaces.’
First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.
Posted on 01/27/2017 5:24 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 26 January 2017
Watch Theresa May's US speech in full as Tory leader evokes spirit of Thatcher
Posted on 01/26/2017 4:13 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 26 January 2017
The New Stockholm Syndrome
by Gary Fouse
Sweden, even by European standards, is a curious country. I have visited the country three times and for 20 or so years have dabbled at learning the language. Scandinavia is (or was) a fantastic region in Europe, beautiful, clean and orderly. That has all changed now at least in the larger cities. While Denmark and Norway are also struggling with the massive influx of migrants and refuge seekers from the Middle East and North Africa, Sweden has the worst problem of all of them. It is mostly their own doing. Long having considered themselves a liberal paradise full of welfare and social benefits, Sweden decided it was too homogeneous and in need of immigrants from the third world. The results have been disastrous as thousands upon thousands of unassimilated migrants and now asylum-seekers have poured in and made the streets unsafe.
Every student of history knows that Sweden sat out World War II. Rather than invade Sweden, Hitler decided to use it. The Swedes allowed the German military to transit their territory to and from occupied Norway-which the Norwegians have never forgotten. True, Swedish diplomats like Folke Bernadotte and Raoul Wallenberg distinguished themselves by saving lives in the closing months of the war, and Sweden received smuggled Danish Jews saving them from Hitler's death camps, but Swedish neutrality is still a subject of debate among Swedes.
During the post war era, Sweden developed itself into a liberal welfare society while taking shots at the US for its perceived human rights failures and involvement in the Vietnam war. The country became a place of refuge for US military deserters and draft dodgers. Prime Minister Olaf Palme was a fierce critic of the US. He was assassinated while still in office in broad daylight without any bodyguards. Today, his killer has still yet to be caught or even identified.
Many of the Danish Jews who landed in Sweden during the war settled in their port of disembarkation, Malmö, the third largest city in the country and right across the straight from Copenhagen. Today, that once vibrant community is dwindling due to the hostile environment caused by the Muslim immigrant community, which now makes up about 25% of the city's population and is largely concentrated in the Rosengård section, a notorious "no-go" zone where crime and riots have taken over. The city's ex-mayor Ilmar Reepalu, a fierce Israel critic, was openly antagonistic to the Jews of his city because of his perception that they were not critical of Israel. He invited them to leave if they were not happy. And leave they have. The same is true of Stockholm and Gothenburg. Just this week, a young Swedish Jew from Gothenburg wrote an open letter to the foreign minister, Margot Wallström, explaining why he was emigrating to Israel. There are now an estimated 15,000 Jews left in Sweden. Wallström, like most in the Swedish government, is openly hostile to Israel. In fact, aside from the government, Sweden has more NGOs dedicated to working against the Jewish state than any other European country.
Meanwhile, Sweden is now known as the rape capital of Europe, a fact driven home again days ago when three armed Middle Easterners were arrested in the act of gang raping a young Swedish woman and live-streaming it on Facebook for three hours.
Like most other European countries, Sweden tries to keep its citizens ignorant about just who is making the country so unsafe. They try to keep the identity of rapists and murderers secret lest the natives develop negative attitudes toward the foreigners-as if they already haven't. Newspapers and police describe the perpetrators as "youth".
Up to this point, the current Swedish government has yet to learn its lesson about what is happening to its country. While they have gained the "diversity" they wanted, it has been at great cost in public safety and increased welfare costs. Though there has been a small tightening up of admittance procedures, the problem persists.
The only glimmer of hope seems to lie in the Sweden Democrats party under the leadership of Jimmie Åkesson, a young and charismatic politician who is part of the new wave of conservative leaders trying to put a stop to the madness that prevails in Europe. Whether they can take power in traditionally liberal Sweden remains to be seen.
It is easy to feel sorry for the Swedish people, but on the other hand, it is a clear case of the chickens coming home to roost. They are knowingly trading their productive Jewish community (mostly from Malmö, the city that once gave them refuge) in exchange for a rapidly growing community of the same people who are driving the Jews out-restive and unassimilated Muslims, who have no regard for the society they chose to immigrate to. So to Sweden I say, "Enjoy the trade-off". For me, I wonder why I ever bothered to try and learn the language.
Posted on 01/26/2017 12:21 PM by Gary Fouse
Thursday, 26 January 2017
Facing Future Wars: Ancient Lessons on Strategy for President Trump
by Louis René Beres
“For by wise counsel, thou shalt make thy war.” (Proverbs)
President Trump comes into office with a clear determination to “win” all ongoing and future American wars. Nothing unusual about this. After all, such determination seems plainly ordinary, traditional, even indisputable.
Upon closer reflection, however, it becomes evident that the standard criteria of victory and defeat may already have become effectively meaningless in certain expected strategic circumstances, and also that there are some important lessons to be learned about this significant transformation from the ancient world.
More precisely, therefore, here is what the new President needs to understand. Whether the United States will ultimately “win” or “lose” in current theaters of military operation, or in any other future arenas of conflict, the core vulnerability of American cities to both mass-destruction terrorism and ballistic missile attack could plausibly remain unaffected. Already, major Jihadist training and planning areas are shifting to include such far-flung places as Mali, Sudan, Bangladesh, Yemen, and even Chechnya.
Shall Mr. Trump plan to send US forces there as well, in order to “win?”
In part, at least, the times have changed with regard to the security implications of any conceivable military victory or defeat. At Thermopylae, we may learn from Herodotus, the Greeks suffered a stunning defeat in 480 BCE. What happened next is a conceptual “benchmark” for understanding where we are today. It should be duly noted by our senior military policy planners.
Then, Persian King Xerxes could not even begin to contemplate the destruction of Athens until he had first secured a decisive military victory. Only after the Persian defeat of Spartan King Leonidas, and his defending forces, could the Athenians be forced to abandon Attica. Transporting themselves to the island of Salamis, the Greeks would then bear tragic witness to the Persians triumphantly burning their houses, and destroying their temples.
Why should this ancient Greek tragedy still be meaningful for our new president and his advisors? Here is the chief answer. Until the actual onset of our nuclear era, states, city-states, and empires were essentially safe from homeland destruction unless their armies had already been defeated. To be sure, some national homeland vulnerabilities arose even earlier together with air power and air war, but these would generally still require “official” penetrations by a national enemy air force.
Before 1945, in war, a capacity to destroy had always required an antecedent capacity to win. Without a prior victory, intended aggressions could never really amount to much more than expressions of military intentions. Moreover, in August 1945, a non-aggressor United States was able to inflict absolutely unimaginable nuclear destruction upon Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki without first defeating the Japanese armed forces.
Indeed, bringing about such a final military defeat was precisely the consuming rationale of these two atomic strikes. Then, in a stark inversion of what had been sought at Thermopylae, the American objective had been to kill large numbers of enemy noncombatants in order to effectively prod the surrender of Japanese armies.
In essence, from the standpoint of ensuring any one state’s national survival, the “classical” goal of defeating an enemy army and preventing a military defeat has already become a secondary objective. After all, what can be the cumulative benefits of waging a “successful” war if the pertinent enemy should still maintain an effectively undiminished capacity to harm? In this connection, a consequential enemy of the United States today could be a state, a sub-state terror group, or myriad forms of a “hybrid” (state, sub-state) coalition.
For President Trump and his defense planners, the deeply complex strategic implications of this genuinely transforming development – a revolutionary development in warfare – are tangibly far-reaching, and thus manifestly worth examining. Intellectually, any such examination must always proceed dialectically, according to principles of reasoning first unraveled by Plato in Philebus, Phaedo, and the Republic. Accordingly, the task here is to ask and answer key questions, continuously, unhesitatingly, through thesis and antithesis, to an always-tentative but still needed “solution.”
Now, back to ancient history, from ancient philosophy. After suppressing revolts in Egypt and Babylonia, Xerxes was finally able to prepare for the conquest of Greece. In 480 B.C.E., the Greeks decided to make their final defense at Thermopylae. This specific site was chosen because it offered what modern military commanders would call “good ground.”
This was a narrow pass between cliffs and the sea, a geographically reassuring place where relatively small numbers of resolute troops could presumably hold back a very large army. For a time, Leonidas, the Spartan king, was able to defend the pass with only about 7000 men (including some 300 Spartans). But in the end, by August, Thermopylae had become the site of a great and distinctly memorable Persian victory.
For those countries currently in the crosshairs of a determined Jihad, and this includes the United States, Israel, and at least certain major states of Europe, there is no real need to worry about suffering a contemporary Thermopylae. There is, however, considerable irony to such an alleged “freedom from worry.” After all, from our present American vantage point, preventing any form of classical military defeat can no longer assure our safety from either mega-aggression or mega-terrorism.
This means, inter alia, that the United States might now be perfectly capable of warding off any calculable defeat of its military forces, and perhaps even of winning some more-or-less identifiable military victories, but in the end, may still have to face extensive or even existential harms.
Ultimately, Mr. Trump’s senior defense planners must inquire, what does this mean for our principal enemies? From this adversarial point of view, it is no longer necessary to actually win any war, or – in fact – to win even any particular military engagement. Our enemies needn’t necessarily figure out complex land or naval warfare strategies; in the main, they likely well understand, they don’t have to triumph at “Thermopylae” in order to burn “Athens.”
For our most focused enemies – state, sub-state and hybrid – there is really no longer any reason to work out what armies typically call “force multipliers,” or to calculate any optimal “correlation of forces.” Today, whatever our own selected “order of battle,” these disparate enemies could possibly wreak varying levels of harm upon us without first eliminating or even weakening our armies and navies. In some respects, at least, still seemingly critical war outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan may could turn out to be largely beside the point.
What are the vital lessons of all this thinking for Mr. Trump? To date, we have not necessarily done anything wrong. Rather, our national vulnerabilities generally represent the natural by-product of constantly evolving military and terrorist technologies. We must, of course, do whatever possible to ensure that useful technological breakthroughs are regularly made on our side, but such required efforts can also carry no ironclad guarantees of perpetual success.
Rapid technological evolution in warfare can never be stopped or reversed. On the contrary, our current vulnerabilities in the absence of any prior military defeats may “simply” represent a resolute and intransigent fact of strategic life, a fully irreversible development that must soon be duly acknowledged, and then continually countered.
To ensure that these vulnerabilities remain safely below any insufferable existential threshold – by definition, an indispensable goal – the United States will soon have to refine a complex combat orthodoxy involving advanced integration of all deterrence, preemption, and war-fighting options, together with certain bold new ideas for more productive international alignments. Naturally, President Trump will also have to take a fresh and expansive look at viable arrangements for both active and passive defenses, and at all corollary and intersecting preparations for more effective cyber-defense and cyber-war.
In crucial matters of war and peace, our new president must soon acknowledge, there can be nothing more practical than a well thought out and appropriately nuanced strategic theory. Immediately, therefore, he must learn to face the stubborn fact that our always-fragile American civilization could sometime be made to suffer, and perhaps even offer a humiliating obeisance to certain significant adversaries, without first going down to any traditional forms of national military defeat. This will be a difficult lesson for us to learn, especially for President Donald J. Trump, but the alternative could cause the United States to allocate scarce military resources according to basically misconceived operational objectives.
Going forward, this sort of misallocation could prove unacceptably perilous for the United States. In facing future wars, strategic theory will be an indispensable “net.” Only an American president who chooses to “cast,” therefore, can expect to “catch.”
First published in Israel Defense
Posted on 01/26/2017 7:25 AM by Louis Rene Beres
Thursday, 26 January 2017
ROTHERHAM SEX ABUSE GANG: Their two year reign of terror
From the local Yorkshire newspaper The Star There was very little, indeed no, publicity from court each day, but the trial has produced convictions.
As five members of a sickening sex abuse gang from Rotherham are found guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two young girls over a period of two years, we outline the role of each defendant.
It took a jury six hours to return a unnanimous verdict this afternoon, convicting five men of 21 offences relating to the sexual exploitation of two young girls that took place in the Eastwood area of Rotherham between 1999 and 2001. Three of the men - Basharat, Nassar and Tayab Dad - involved in the gang are brothers.
Judge Sarah Wright has adjourned the case until February 2, when all five men will be sentenced.
During the three-week long trial at Sheffield Crown Court, the jury heard evidence from both victims that detailed the sexual abuse and exploitation they suffered at the hands of the child abuse gang.
THE ROLE AND CONVICTION OF EACH DEFENDANT:
- Tayab Dad of St Lawrence Road, Tinsley, Sheffield, rape.
- Basharat Dad, 31, of Eldon Road, Rotherham, six counts of rape, five counts of indecent assault, two counts of sexual intercourse with a girl under 13.
- Nassar Dad, 35, of Cranworth Road, Rotherham, has been convicted of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual intercourse with a girl under 13, one count of inciting indecency with a child.
- Nassar and Basharat Dad have been jointly convicted of false imprisonment.
- Nassar Dad was acquitted of one charge of rape and one charge of inciting indecency with a child
Pictured top row left to right: Tayab Dad, Nasar Dad, Basharat Dad
Bottom row left to right: Matloob Hussain, Mohammed Sadiq, Amjad Ali
The newspaper precises the evidence here
Posted on 01/26/2017 4:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Why I want to head the National Endowment for the Arts
by Richard Kostelanetz
Having received from the National Endowment for the Arts the whopping sum of ten (yes, ten) individual grants between 1976 and 1991, I feel a certain obligation to give back, as we say. If we accept the principle that cultural funding should make happen what would not otherwise occur, we’d agree that some of these grants to me were worth public funds.
One, from the Visual Arts Program for “services,” enabled me to prepare an anthology of American sound poetry that, once finished, was accepted for publication as Text-Sound Texts (William Morrow, 1980). This book is still regarded as classic. Another grant from the NEA Visual Arts department supported my book-art, which I continue to this day. In this latter genre I subsequently produced work distinguished enough to be acknowledged in critical histories of the genre.
From the Media Arts program of the NEA, I received a grant to compose a radio program of and about the sound of the language of prayer. Invocations (1981, 1984) was later broadcast around the world before becoming a lp record still in print, now as a cd, from Folkways-Smithsonian. One hour long, elaborately produced, Invocations has been acknowledged in some critical histories of contemporary electronic music. Another Media Arts grant supported another hour-long audiotape of and about the sound of New York City. It too was broadcast by public stations around the world, initially as part of the Metropolis series at Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
My NEA-funded audio fugues about the first two books of the New Testament, The Gospels and Die Evangelien (both 1984), likewise had a distinguished history. Whereas the latter was broadcast and then rebroadcast over German and Swiss-German radio station, the former became a cd that the renowned art collector Peter Norton distributed as his Christmas gift in 1990. Another NEA grant supported the composition of Americas’ Game–another hour-long electro-acoustic composition of and about the sound of baseball; but it, to my surprise, has less public history.
As none of these works would have happened without NEA support, I remain indebted. Over the past three decades I’ve also written critically of the NEA, mostly of its literature program. Need I add that no previous chairman of the NEA ever received a single grant prior to assuming the position; none had ever published criticism of its operations or its results. Indeed, more than one chairman seemed barely familiar with how the NEA worked, let alone what it had done and thus could do.
While a few stupid foolish grants two decades ago provoked Congressional ire, the NEA survived, only to become, however, increasingly invisible and inconsequential, unfortunately and unnecessarily. One reason is that the individual grants (like the ones I’ve received) were abolished in all departments except literature, oddly. This absence presently denies younger artists (people like myself three decades ago) opportunities that might otherwise be realized. An admonitory history of its decline could be written; but since the NEA has become so invisible, may I doubt if it would be published and thus doubt if it would ever be written, certainly not without support from a donor expecting benefits.
Much as Donald Trump would like “to make America great again,” so would I like to do likewise by the increasingly decrepit NEA. Were I its chairman, I would simply encourage on every level the support of excellence, greatness, and the best. Given the importance of those key values for the survival of art in any culture, all other claims should be set aside, especially when some of them, say on behalf of legitimate social minorities, are better served by other government agencies.
On behalf of these principles of excellence, greatness, and best, I would try to conduct every judicial meeting possibly open to me if only to repeat those crucial principles to everyone within earshot–administrators as well as panelists. On behalf of the best in American culture, a leader must instill direction and encourage cultural class, which have been two qualities recently absent at the NEA.
Years ago, certain self-defined activists spoke of “culture wars,” usually on behalf of one or another supposedly disadvantaged social interest. By rejecting grants that the panels had legitimately awarded, the NEA chiefs stupidly gave some second-rate artists an opportunity for more publicity than they deserved, eventually to the detriment of the NEA. (I would joke with colleagues that flacking for lousy artists was not appropriate for the NEA.)
However, in truth, in the history of art, especially in America, the only true and continuing conflict has been between excellence and its enemies. Now that the distribution of culture has become ever more commercialized, to the unfortunate neglect of excellence that is often lost, public funding should focus upon supporting the highest noncommercial quality, again making happen valuable work that would not otherwise happen, as it did for me. The enemy is censorship by commerce, which is no more acceptable than censorship by any state. While the first is obvious and readily exposed, the results of the second are hidden and thus its social costs less obvious.
Simply, with this goal of making the NEA great again clearly in mind, the NEA would benefit from a leader with a history of advocating excellence and nothing less. My record on this level is strong, dating back to the anthology On Contemporary Literature (1964, 1969) and including American Writing Today, which I organized in the early 1980s for the Voice of America, among other books since. If not me, perhaps someone else similarly working at the highest cultural levels. Need I add that giving the job to sometime movie stars, producers of commercial art, veteran cultural bureaucrats, political hacks, or retired military pros probably won’t turn around the NEA.
First of all, I would restore the individual grants. Even if the NEA was designed by Nelson Rockefeller to subsidize large institutions controlled by rich people (like himself)–literally to socialize their costs–support for new work by strong individuals gave the NEA credibility within the arts community.
Secondly, I would recommend that panelists in various departments be appointed to serve for six years, much as the NEA Counselors are. The recurring problems when panelists serve only for one year, particularly in the literature department, is that they tend to reward their students-lovers-protégées before safely returning home, Transient panelists thus accounting for the sense, particularly in the NEA literature fellowships, that the winners appear to be those supplicants that senior people like best.
Having been the victim of NEA administrative high-handedness (that I’ve exposed in print), I would want to examine personally the exclusion of every applicant disqualified by the staff.
I would question applications from the grants hustlers, as I call institutions that exist primarily to solicit public funds without much public produce, let alone much visible excellence.
Given the increasing presence of writing in Spanish in the US, some of it very good, I would also rule that the literature program could accept applications in Spanish, with or without English translations, in Americas’ other language, which was incidentally spoken by my own maternal grandparents.
If this move is successful, the NEA should consider supporting American literature in yet other languages, such as Russian (spoken by my paternal grandparents) and French (favored between both sets of my grandparents). One historic truth that should be recognized by the NEA is that many great books were written in the United States in languages other than English.
The commitment to the best notwithstanding, I would also support the establishments of website in which every writer, every artist, and every composer, say, satisfying minimal standards of professional seriousness, could make publicly available a self-chosen sample of his or her work along with a statement of intentions; so that any colleague or possible sponsor could quickly glean basic information. These individual web pages could also be indexed to facilitate connecting American artists to possible audiences and sponsors.
I would reverse certain policies, some of them imposed a dozen years ago, to make NEA more superficially “acceptable” to newspaper writers and Congresspeople. One unfortunate move changed the preference in film documentaries from those more likely to be artistically excellent (and this remembered by discriminating people) to those more likely to be broadcast over public television, where the lifespan of most new documentaries is only a little longer than Hollywood’s.
My favorite bête noir was the NEA’s support Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home (2005), which was produced from interviews and other footage supplied by Bob Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen. I cannot think of a distinguished arts documentary in history in which the subject controlled so much, even if a celebrated film impresario–literally, a brand-name–took credit as “director.” Controlled publicity is what hired flacks do.
I would also discourage support of such secondary cultural activities as the distribution of books already published or, say, the teaching classic English literature here. Support for performing Shakespeare in American high schools should, in my judgment, be the job of the British external cultural agency, much as the dissemination of American literature abroad has been a function of the USIA (for which I once organized American Writing Today ). Certain efforts, though intrinsically laudable, really belong to other federal agencies that are better funded. The NEA should not be in the biz of either educational enhancement or social affirmative actions; both are distractions from any effort to make great again its efforts toward American excellence.
On the wall of my NEA would be three icons. The first would honor Nancy Hanks, whose name already graces the NEA office building, because she realized that an American arts agency should support artists as well as institutions, her friend Nelson’s designs notwithstanding. This is the practice is nearly all other first-world countries, if not the measure of a first-world culture, beginning with our next-door neighbor Canada. I know because my work received support there and in Germany and Sweden for three. Only an American-hating subversive would want the USA to be culturally less than first-world.
My second hero is Brian O’Doherty, an Irish artist and writer long resident in America. Previously a critic and editor of art magazines who’d also published books, he headed first the visual arts program and then media arts from the 1970s into the 1990s. In the former O’Doherty typically instituted more sophisticated arts categories for individual fellowships that acknowledged more than painting and sculpture (such as book-art and artists’ services, both of which rewarded me). By contrast, say, in the literature program, to the traditional categories of poetry and prose has been added only translation. Credit O’Doherty also with initiating NEA support of art in public places which incidentally made NEA’s name permanently visible across the country. He understood profoundly what a government cultural agency could do, again making happen excellence that otherwise would not be.
For his second position a chief of Media Arts, an individual Wikipedia entry credits O’Doherty with, among other activities, initiating the public television series Great Performances and American Masters, the latter incidentally taking the title of a 1973 book he wrote only about American painters. Many programs from both these series are rebroadcast years later, for one measure of their lasting value. His achievements illustrate a rule I learned while working in Europe: One measure of the best cultural administrators is that they had, like O’Doherty, all published real books.
My third hero is H. R. Gross, the Iowa Congressman who between 1949 and 1975 was the most prominent government cost-cutter, for instance famously refusing to grant Jackie Kennedy a federal pension because “she didn’t need the money.” For that good reason alone, I would have opposed the NEA’s funding of Scorsese’s Dylan, as, apart from issues of ultimate quality, neither it nor they needed public money. Tis said that Gross saved tax-payers millions of dollars not only in opposing executive extravagance but also in putting his colleagues on notice that in their proposals he would spot unjustified superfluous costs.
Simply, a government agency entrusted with an important cultural mission on a modest budget can’t afford to be either distracted or wasteful. The first goal is making the NEA great again, the equal of comparable agencies in the great Western cultures, incidentally reflective of a country that is truly first-world rather than, as it has unfortunately become, second- or third-. The second goal is making American art greater. Given these purposes, may I further suggest that only someone who has received NEA grants, who understands their significance, should be entrusted with directing the NEA, much as only a sometime fireman should be a fire chief.
Posted on 01/25/2017 12:15 PM by Richard Kostelanetz
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Lords and Flies
by James Como
It’s been a while since I’ve read the magnificent Golding allegory I allude to in my title, but last weekend my high regard for it was renewed.
I’d been having a dollop of trouble tracking alt-Left gimmicks. For example, I’ve known it has grievances – indeed, ‘grievance’ is high on its list of Favorite Words – but alt-Left incoherence made that polemic and many others too entropic to follow. Its ideology seems theological, its morality therefore dogmatic, applicable only to its presumed adversaries: a one-way street, confusing but surely heading toward a Higher Good. It looks for “coded” language, and acolytes will find it, everywhere. (The problem with “make America great again,” it seems, is the ‘again’ – we know what that means.) It largely consists of the privileged yet nevertheless attacks “the privileged” and claims, paradoxically, to be “the victimized.” It is caring – another key word – in the abstract, so that any grand federal plan to achieve a more or less wholesome goal becomes fetishized, no matter its egregious ground-level downside.
It is fond of inventing concepts (like ‘cisgendered’, often used as a term of abuse) and of “communities,” groups who (necessarily) have been “victimized,” with a “special hell” reserved for community members who, not experiencing victimization, do not sign up for membership. (This labeling matters; it facilitates deification and demonization and is especially helpful if it can be summarized by a series of letters; I am a member of one such abused victim-group, the DCS, that is, the Differently Color-Sighted – dare you call me color “blind”?) It decries the “appropriation” of one culture’s features by members of another (thereby, of course, “victimizing” the former: a one-way boulevard). And it exhibits itself, demonstratively, its idiom being very strong emotion, which grants to it an absolute remit (permitting, for example, vile attacks on a ten-year-old). Moreover –
But I desist, because at last the incoherence has been neatly packaged: the cruelty, the febrile hatred, the celebratory irrationality – all of it conveniently bundled by the Women’s March, by women who, for example, excluded other women (too much diversity), or who cheered Ashley Judd’s semi-sociopathic rant and Madonna’s wet dream of bombing the White House (why not? CNN had already discussed the implications of a Trump assassination) and the burning of a limousine, or who . . . (I harbor the hope that at least a few participants have PMSS, Post-March Shame Syndrome.)
So wherefore my renewed appreciation for Golding’s novel? It gets the alt-Left right. When, at the end of the book, Jack’s febrile, painted, tribal herd, having risen to power on that ghastly island, is closing in on Ralph, the last vestige of civilization who has already been demonized, an adult shows up and puts a stop to it. It seems Donald Trump – for whom I could not vote – has come ashore just in time.
Posted on 01/25/2017 11:54 AM by James Como
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Catholic school prompts uniform row by banning Muslim girl from wearing a headscarf
From the Telegraph and the Birmingham Mail. The reaction of the Muslim community 'leaders' is interesting. Whether they are calling for an immediate chance of policy or are presenting a conciliatory reasonable front ultimately they are united in working for the eventual domination of Islam in England.
A Catholic school has prompted a uniform row by banning a four-year-old Muslim girl from wearing a headscarf at school.St Clare's School in Handsworth, on the outskirts of Birmingham, asked the girl’s parents to respect their strict uniform policy, which includes no headwear or scarfs.
The primary school’s decision ignited a debate among community leaders after the girl’s father called on town hall officials to intervene.
Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council's Labour cabinet member for equalities, said that he had met with the head teacher and told her the ban on the scarf was against the equalities act.
He added: "I'm insisting this matter is addressed [as soon as possible] with a change of policy."
However, his colleague Majid Mahmood said that since it is a faith school, St Clare's is "maybe within its rights to insist upon a particular dress code," just as a Muslim faith school "may require girls to wear headscarves".
Dr Mashuq Ally, a former head of equalities for the council, agreed saying there is no religious requirement for girls of infant school age to wear the hijab. He also pointed out that a faith school is allowed to set its own uniform policy and exempt from discrimination legislation.
Dr Ally went on to say that if there are demographic changes which lead to a significant number of Muslim children attending a Christian school, then the parents should ask the school governors to consider changing the uniform policy. In other words the long game: 'wait until there are enough of us brothers, then what we want will fall to us easily'
Shaista Gohir, of the Muslim Women’s Network, said making young children wear the headscarf was as bad as kids having spray tans and pole dancing lessons. And she insisted it was NOT a requirement of the faith for young girls of that age.
Ms Gohir said the hijab was designed to discourage sexual advances from men and enforcing it on young children could “sexualise” them.
“We challenge parents who spray tan or give pole dancing classes to seven-year-olds, so we should be challenging Muslim parents who make young children wear the hijab,” Look! non Muslim parents can be even worse!!!...I would not like to see it normalised for four and five-year-olds to be wearing headscarfs.
“In the current climate there is so much negativity towards Islam". And everything must be done to make Islam look good until there are enough of us etc.
Let us hope that this time, unlike so many schools before them, the school stands firm.
Posted on 01/25/2017 6:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Bourbons of the Press Straggle on in Defeat
by Conrad Black
It was a brilliant inauguration, and the continued scrapping and strafing between the administration and the bedraggled, sodden mass of the press continues the execution of a new demarcation of power in the federal government that will prove benign. This week’s issues themselves are not important; what is at issue is a contest between the attitudes of the press and the tactics of the administration.
The two signal facts, or “alternative facts” in the well-chosen parlance of the brilliant and engaging co-counselor and victorious campaign manager of the president, Kellyanne Conway, are that public approval of the national news media now stands at 14%, and the allegations the press are now making against the new administration are of no interest to any serious segment of the public.
As a result of these facts, the continued press assault on Donald Trump is much less dangerous even than when it failed to derail his candidacy for the Republican nomination and the election. It was a matter of continuing astonishment, as the campaign unfolded, that his following grew despite his political incorrectness. His references to the danger of “Islamic extremism” and of undesirable forms of immigration, and his debunking of the fraudulence of global-warming claims and of confected charges of misogyny and racism against him, won him more supporters than opponents.
Just as there was an interval between Mr. Trump’s nomination and the election, during which he became substantially less bombastic and, having rallied the Archie Bunker vote, pursued the less vocal but accessible center-right vote, there was a second interval, between the election and the inauguration, during which his more militant opponents grasped at straws to delegitimize the president-elect, or at least restrict his ability to act when Inauguration Day came.
The culmination of this effort came with the “Golden Shower” nonsense I wrote about here last week, where supposedly reputable intelligence sources claimed that Mr. Trump had been involved in an unspecific series of illicit or dubious contacts with anonymous Russian officials and that he had sponsored a prostitutes’ group-urination in a Moscow hotel-suite bed because it had once been occupied by the Obamas (with whom the Trumps exchanged mutually gracious farewells last Friday).
Even at this late date, Mr. Trump’s reflexive opposition has no idea of the force and proportions of its crushing defeat. It was encapsulated in the raunchy entertainer and talented showman Madonna’s two noteworthy contributions to the election process: her offer to give oral sex to any man who voted for Hillary Clinton, which caused a full-point decline in Mrs. Clinton’s position in the polls, and Madonna’s words of enticement to the Women’s Marchers (ostensibly against Trump but for no clear reason) in Washington on Saturday, that she had considered “blowing up the White House.” Apart from being overreaction and a rather unsportsmanlike acknowledgement of the election outcome, it was, given that White House security is ensured by the U.S. Marines, the ultimate empty threat.
Two years ago, Donald Trump scrutinized the polls that showed that two-thirds of Americans thought the country was headed “in the wrong direction,” that 90 percent were contemptuous of the Congress, and that 85% distrusted the national press, and he considered that while President Obama seemed to be popular with about half the people, he could not run again and it was a wide-open race to the White House.
Mr. Trump ran against all factions of both parties, and emphasized especially the allowance of 12 million unskilled Hispanics illegally into the country and the conclusion of trade arrangements that imported a great deal of unemployment into the United States. The press falsely accused him of calling alien migrants rapists and the New York Times invented the canard that he had mocked a handicapped person. (This is the fiction Meryl Streep was foaming at the mouth about several weeks ago.)
None of it worked and he was nominated easily, while Hillary Clinton had a Sisyphean struggle against the unfeasible Marxist senator Bernie Sanders. Once she was nominated, as Mr. Trump ran a more specific campaign advocating reform of immigration, trade, health care, taxes, and campaign finance, and the Democrats were without any positive argument for their reelection, Mrs. Clinton pulled out all the stops with the misogyny-racism argument, highlighted by the long-held secret weapon, the Billy Bush tape.
There was no truth to these charges against Mr. Trump and he replied with heavy fire much closer to home on the corruption of the Clintons and the sexual exploits of President Clinton, and the result is history. The sexism-racism charges, virtually the entire Democratic campaign, have simply evaporated.
A series of absurd acts of reflexive denial ensued — the recounts and the incitements to members of the Electoral College to revoke their pledges (the only voting irregularities were part of the Clinton ground game in Wisconsin, and more Clinton than Trump electors changed their votes). The media played these challenges up, and then down.
Then came the Russian connection. Just as FBI director James Comey had been unable to control an internal revolt against the whitewash of Mrs. Clinton’s illegal handling of her e-mails and was forced to acknowledge a problem, some element of the intelligence apparatus released the fatuous Golden Shower dossier, which no press outlet would touch until BuzzFeed, a barrel-scraping, muck-raking left-wing blog, put it out and CNN took it up with tremendous fanfare, claiming Herculean journalistic enterprise to have unearthed it. Mr. Trump called it “fake news [from] a pile of garbage,” and it died.
President Trump gave a fierce inaugural address, which effectively repeated his campaign charge that the country had been misgoverned by both parties and all branches of government since the Reagan era. The much-anticipated violence was a few hundred anarchists in frogman suits smashing windows of non-political buildings, and the anti-Trump faction at the parade was peaceful, scarcely obscene, and not more than 10 percent of the total.
The press tried to minimize the turnout, comparing it to the last Obama inauguration. Washington is a 70% African-American city that voted approximately 93% for Mrs. Clinton, and that any appreciable number of Trump supporters was there at all was a considerable feat of logistics.
The administration countered the press’s claims and a slanging match with the press and the new presidential press secretary followed, which the press has darkly warned will cause the administration problems. Ms. Conway was correct to say there were “alternative facts,” by which she meant contrary opinions, but which the press, for their own purposes, interpreted as endorsing lies.
Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times, who had loyally but lamely defended CNN’s airing of the Golden Shower piffle last week (while tacitly acknowledging that it was unfounded), warned darkly on Monday that the administration’s credibility will be destroyed if it doesn’t repair its relations with the media, which would entail appeasement of men and women who are practically unanimous in their hostility to Mr. Trump. It ill behooves an apologist for the veracity of the Golden Shower to accuse the always well-spoken Ms. Conway of fomenting lies.
So steeped in what Dr. Johnson called “the disingenuousness of years” is the Washington press, they still do not know what has happened. Donald Trump rallied the Archie Bunkers to win the nomination, added enough independents to win the election, counterattacked the press at every stage in the social media and through his talk-radio supporters, and is using the authority of his office to call out media lies through spokesmen. He is exploiting their high disapproval rating.
The Republican conservatives who deserted him, because he is not particularly conservative, will be back when they get a good look at the administration. It will include a Labor secretary who wants to decertify unions, an education secretary who wants to get rid of the teachers’ unions, an energy secretary who wants to maximize oil and gas production, an EPA director who wants to dismantle the EPA while continuing to reduce pollution of air and water, a commerce secretary who is an articulate free-enterprise billionaire, the restoration of the Pentagon to the hands of a general for the first time since George C. Marshall, and a Treasury secretary who once worked in Wall Street and is a capitalist, but not just a Warren Buffett tax-planner. Self-made billionaire financiers Steve Schwarzman and Carl Icahn will advise on business relations and on deregulation.
The Republican congressional majorities, with a reasonable amount of give and take with Democrats, something Trump excels at, will put the president’s plan through, making him essentially the first president to deliver on his promises since Reagan (though Clinton had a fair go at it in his first couple of years).
There will be an increased level of economic growth, a reduction of most people’s income taxes as well as corporate taxes, a reduction in crime and violence, and a consistent and sustainable foreign policy. The people will respond to that and the media will be unable to deform the record of the administration. There will be mistakes and there will be occasional episodes bordering on buffoonery (they have not been unheard of in that office).
But the establishment Donald Trump assailed, which reacted to his campaign with mirth, and then with rage, and then with desperation, is now cobbling together a rather contemptible guerrilla resistance. It will be ground to powder by what is emerging each week as a juggernaut that holds all the offices, has a clear mandate and program, and is installing a strong administration to reverse 20 years of national decline.
The Obamas, Clintons, and Bushes have left Washington; they had a few good innings, but they will not be back unless one of them a generation younger than these comes back meritocratically.
The press will not have rebuilt its credibility until it recognizes how terribly it has disserved the country from Vietnam and Watergate all the way to the Golden Shower. The Democrats, presumably, will get the hint and change course and recruit better candidates; both sides come to bat. The press is like Talleyrand’s description of the Bourbons returning to Paris in 1815 in the baggage train of Wellington’s army: “They have forgotten nothing and they have learned nothing.”
In a few more years the Bourbons were gone forever; the press will cling on, but they will not make or break administrations as they have and will not regain public confidence from one election to the next, and not before they have conducted a profound self-reappraisal with the help of the 85% of the public who don’t believe them.
First published in National Review Online.
Posted on 01/25/2017 5:33 AM by Conrad Black
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Interlude: The Talladega College Marching Band Strut Their Stuff At the Inauguration of the 45th US President
Posted on 01/24/2017 4:46 PM by Christina McIntosh
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Don’t frustrate Brexit, Davis warns MPs
The Brexit secretary warned MPs not to “thwart the will of the people” after the UK’s highest court ruled today that the government must seek parliament’s approval for triggering Brexit.
Within minutes of the Supreme Court ruling, ministers pledged to do “all that is necessary” to implement the justices’ majority opinion that legislation was required. A short bill authorising the invocation of Article 50, the formal mechanism for leaving the EU, is expected to be published within days and put to the vote in both the Commons and Lords.
David Davis told MPs that they must not frustrate Britain’s exit as Labour criticised the government’s plans and said that they would seek to amend any bill.
The Guido Fawkes blog, Order-order puts it as well as anything I have yet seen.
Up-sum of David Davis’ Commons statement:
- Article 50 legislation within days
- Bill will be straightfoward, short and simple as possible
- Timetable to trigger by March still stands
Or to put it another way, Britain will be leaving the European Union…
Leave Tories in the Commons who Guido has spoken to today expect to secure the votes of over 400 MPs to trigger Article 50. They envisage around 80 Labour MPs voting against or abstaining, the SNP voting against and a handful of Tory abstentions. In other words, a large majority to trigger. The government rates its chances of winning the Article 50 vote at “100%”.
General opinion is that MPs are taking consistuents indications seriously. As they should.
On the subject of the unacceptable (oh, so smug) face of the stymie campaign, Gina Miller, former model and wealthy trophy wife, this comment caught my eye. Miller is a figurehead, a pawn, disposable. She will be found face down in the gold paint eventually - ooops I may have muddled my Bond films there.
I don't think she needs 'bankrolling' she has her own means and hubby can also pick up the tab too.
I do believe that, Soros is the Machiavelli-an manipulator - the likes of Branson is simply too thick - behind much of this remoaniac malignancy.
Soros, he will attempt to move heaven and earth to bring about making Britain return to heel. For we know it, the game is all about the deconstruction, funding the destruction of the nation state.
Moreover and until June 23 and Nov 8th 2016... For until these two momentous dates, Georg Soros like the malicious old cunt he is, was orchestrating, composing, his great scheme of OWG and Internationalism on amphetamines was going along just thank you very nicely.
Gina Miller is just the perfectly chosen frontispiece of UK4EUforevah'..., foreign, melanistically pigmented sort of British and hey a gal too - that was clever, very, very clever and has the imprimatur of [and Berlin] Soros all over it, mind you it helps greatly if you are first name terms with the court ........know what I mean?
What I would like to see is, some very determined attempt by the Trump administration to dump from a great height on Soros, to try to prise him out of his NYC snakes nest - would be a very good start, sequestration of funds would be an excellent and nuanced move.
I do hope President Trump will be doing somerthing about the nasty Mr Soros. He makes Ernst Blofeld look positively charming.
Posted on 01/24/2017 1:19 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Paris mosque to remain closed amid claims it became a 'breeding ground for ISIS jihadists
The State Council – France’s highest administrative court
– ruled the controversial Paris mosque is to remain closed until the end of the state of emergency in July. This is the second time in less than three months that the mosque’s leaders attempt to reopen the prayer hall; and the second time that their plea is dismissed.
The Al Rawda mosque, a prayer hall located in Stains, an impoverished and multi-ethnic suburb north of Paris, was shut down by former interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in November following a crackdown on religious extremists.
The mosque, which first opened its doors in 2013, attracted more than 600 worshippers for Friday prayers.
Mr Cazeneuve, who has since been appointed as France’s prime minister, said in November that the mosque has been closed because its imam “openly defended terrorism and promoted an ideology of hate”.
The imam was immediately fired and replaced with a more soft-spoken preacher, and the mosque’s leaders – the owners of a local Franco-Egyptian cultural centre – launched an anti-radicalisation website to counter jihadist propaganda in a gesture of “good faith”
But State Council judges said it was “too soon” to know whether radical worshippers had been “smoked out,” and said that the mosque should remained closed.
In its ruling, the supreme court added that there were “three” mosques in Stains, and that local Muslims would have no trouble finding an “alternative” place of worship.
Posted on 01/24/2017 11:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax