Friday, 31 July 2009

The Enserfment of Britain

I once mocked the Czechs on this blog for writing to Obama begging him to change his mind on the missile defence deployment in their country. It struck me as peculiarly pitiful that these East European losers had so despaired of influencing the politicians in their own country to implement the democratic will of their own people, who were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea, that they had taken to writing to the leader of a foreign country in an attempt to secure a change in a political decision at home. Their own politicians were so mesmerised by America that they knew normal democratic pressure would avail nothing.

How embarrassing is it for me then to note that the same phenomenon has now arrived in Britain? In short, very. As the Gary McKinnon story appears to be winding towards its climax, with almost every avenue of appeal having been exhausted, and cringing Labour MPs having voted to reject calls to reconsider the extradition and the treaty that facilitated it, including some especially spineless MPs who had previously called publicly for such a reconsideration, McKinnon's last hope is an appeal for mercy addressed to the great emperor Obama. The letter is being put together by the National Autistic Society and a cross-party group of MPs. It calls on Obama to review the McKinnon extradition request.

How profoundly shameful that we now have the spectacle of British MPs calling on the leader of a foreign country to change the policy of the British government. Britain has joined the east Europeans in the Serf Club.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Denis MacShame - Enemy of Britain

Dennis MacShame published a piece in the Guardian yesterday arguing for the use of Nazi metaphors in relation to Israel to be made illegal(!). I posted a few comments on the article, all of which were purged by the Guardian censors.

I'll reproduce only one here : "The Guardian comments page has turned into a showcase example of exactly the kind of arbitrary, bureaucratic netherworld - in which low-brow, low-paid functionaries lord it over the rest of us - that the MacShames of this world want to see extended across Britain, and Europe, as a whole, a country threaded with their thought-crime boobytraps that we'll all have to go around being careful not to step into."

Many other comments were purged too, including those which seemed to be completely inoffensive and merely provided links to articles about MacShame's shameless plundering of the public purse, by buying eight laptops in three years, all charged to the British taxpayer of course. Some of these purchases were even in successive months, supposedly to keep up with the "advance of technology". Cor blimey, Den, I didn't know technology was advancing so rapidly that people had to buy a new laptop every month.

On a positively surreal note, MacShame also rented his own garage from his own home from himself, supposedly as office space, at an astonishing cost to the British taxpayer of £125,000 over seven years.

In his almost infinite pandering to Israeli interests, MacShame seems much like an American politician. He loses no opportunity to trot out the charge of anti-semitism or call for the creation of further thought crimes.

I did a little research on MacShame. It seems he used to work for the BBC, but was sacked for gross dishonesty. According to the book "Radio Drama" by Tim Crook, parts of which you can read on Google Books, MacShame called in to his own radio station and criticised a Conservative MP, posing as an outraged member of the public.

It's amazing that someone with such a track record of dishonesty is allowed to become a Labour MP and later a government minister; and it's certainly no surprise that he is later shown to have been extorting every penny he could from the suffering British taxpayer.

The East European Quisling Club

If you've got a strong stomach, take a look at this joint letter addressed to Massah Obama from the East European Quisling Club. It's the most cringe-worthy display of servility I've seen since George Galloway praised Saddam Hussein for his "indefatigability."

"We understand the heavy demands on your Administration and on U.S. foreign policy. It is not our intent to add to the list of problems you face. Rather, we want to help by being strong Atlanticist allies in a U.S.-European partnership that is a powerful force for good around the world."

"...First, we are convinced that America needs Europe and that Europe needs the United States as much today as in the past. The United States should reaffirm its vocation as a European power and make clear that it plans to stay fully engaged on the continent even while it faces the pressing challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the wider Middle East, and Asia. For our part we must work at home in our own countries and in Europe more generally to convince our leaders and societies to adopt a more global perspective and be prepared to shoulder more responsibility in partnership with the United States."

Translation: we're ready to send our soldiers to die as auxiliaries in all your goofy wars, Massah.

"The danger is that Russia's creeping intimidation and influence-peddling in the region could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region."

Neutralisation? Neutralisation in what? These clowns actually see themselves as part of some ongoing Cold War.

"We must also recognize that America's popularity and influence have fallen in many of our countries as well. Public opinions polls, including the German Marshall Fund's own Transatlantic Trends survey, show that our region has not been immune to the wave of criticism and anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years and which led to a collapse in sympathy and support for the United States during the Bush years. Some leaders in the region have paid a political price for their support of the unpopular war in Iraq. In the future they may be more careful in taking political risks to support the United States."

These pitiful quislings conduct themselves just as the communist apparatchiks of old did, lamenting that their "publics" don't quite see things in the right, ideologically pure way. The plebs have these crazy, selfish ideas about just being free countries, beholden to no one, not participating in mad, foreign wars, not playing host to useless missile bases that stir up tensions with neighbours and turn their countries into military targets, not letting foreign soldiers rampage around their countries with special "Status of Forces" agreements that make them immune to the country's laws.

Justin Raimondo offers insightful commentary on the letter here.

Friday, 24 July 2009

We need a new hate speech law

There are so many initiatives underay to ban or restrict free speech these days that it's getting hard to keep track of them all. The latest is a suggestion that using a Nazi analogy in relation to Israel should be made a criminal offence.

Those pushing for these thought crimes to be created are the enemies of Britain, Europe and western civilisation. They represent a far greater threat to our freedoms than the mythical Al Qaeda.

My proposal is that all existing laws restricting free speech be done away with, and a single all-encompassing law put in their place : It is illegal to call for restrictions on free speech. Anyone doing so will be sent to prison for fifty years. We could call it the "(Ironic) Incitement to Hatred Against Freedom Act."

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Stop Blair

Blair is once again being touted as a candidate for the EU presidency. John Palmer in the Guardian suggests this is a cunning ploy by the British government to have Blair lose, win some bargaining power from the perceived disappointment and use that to get a Brit into some other important job. Well, let's hope so. But take nothing for granted. This might just happen, so let's do what we can to oppose it, which admittedly is not much. At least sign this Stop Blair petition.

Blair is despised throughout Europe and in Britain too. You have to wonder what goes through the heads of the EU leaders who are seriously considering appointing him. These people look down on their own populations with quasi-monarchical disdain. They seem to really believe that democracy doesn't matter and that we've transitioned into a kind of post-democratic era. Unfortunately, sooner or later this attitude is going to produce a reaction, most likely one that shatters the European Union completely. Those of us who value the European Union and appreciate its world-transforming potential need to push for it to be democratised before the idiots in charge of it now destroy it altogether.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Turkey Violates EU Airspace

Turkey has recently been stepping up its violations of EU airspace, and is now extending them to populated areas. This is something that Turkey does routinely. Apparently, EU airspace is violated by Turkish military aircraft about 1,500 times on average each year, so about 5 times per day. Is it not absolutely astonishing that we are seriously considering extending EU membership to a country that conducts itself like a potential adversary, routinely making threatening gestures to us?

Monday, 13 July 2009

New movement on the David Kelly Case

It's nice to see some movement on the long-dormant David Kelly case. A group of doctors has produced a report challenging the "suicide" verdict. Of course, the suicide verdict was always absurd. Cutting your wrists is a popular way of committing suicide in Hollywood movies, but, in reality, it's close to impossible to kill yourself in that way. For example, in the year David Kelly died, not a single other person in the whole of Britain died from cutting their wrists.

Georgia Report Delayed

A story I missed last week: the EU report on last year's war between Russia and Georgia has been delayed for a few months, supposedly so that the commissioners can consider new evidence appearing at the last minute. Der Spiegel already had an insider account of the report's conclusions and reported that they were extremely unfavourable to Georgia. In essence, all of Georgia's claims about Russian aggression were shown to be false and Georgia itself was shown to be the aggressor.

Most likely that is what now accounts for this delay. Pressure will be brought to bear behind the scenes to make the commissioners skew their conclusions in Georgia's favour.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Microsoft must be stopped

Every day when I use Windows Vista I feel like Bill Gates is laughing at me. Every time I try and access the hard drive and have to wait fifteen seconds or so for the external hard drives to power up because Microsoft put some code into Vista to automatically power them down after a brief period of non-use, I feel like Gates is gloating about the fact that I have to use his software no matter what. We've all grown used to grumbling about Microsoft, much like we grumble about politicians or the weather. But, really, that has to stop. The problem of Microsoft needs to be taken more seriously. It is not a problem that has to exist; it should not be a permanent part of our mental landscape. And the solution to it is political.

Virtually everyone agrees that Microsoft Vista is a shoddy, half-baked piece of software that is extremely unpleasant to use. Stories of people downgrading back to Windows XP are legion. Yet Microsoft has made more money from this version of the operating system than any of the preceding ones. The fact that a company has achieved such monopolistic dominance that it can just rake in wads of money without regard to the quality of its product is astonishing. Even the most ardent free-marketeer acknowledges that monopolies are bad things; that they damage the public weal; and that government intervention is required to mitigate that damage. But what intervention have we seen to deal with the Microsoft monopoly?

None that is effective. The US anti-monopoly action died with the Clinton administration. Many American politicians are happy that an American company has achieved such dominance in the global IT sphere. They don't want to do anything to tamper with that. Apart from the tide of revenue it brings into their country, they most likely extract numerous other advantages from this arrangement. It is virtually certain that some of the top American software firms, including Microsoft, insert backdoors, like the notorious NSA key, into their software to make it easy for American spy agencies to get whatever they want from a computer belonging to one of their victims. Certainly, if you read accounts of how various terrorists are apprehended, and information extracted from their hard drives (despite being encrypted), it's curious how unchallenging that process always seems to be for the Americans. There are cases where the terrorists have employed the best readily available encryption techniques on their machines and yet that encryption is apparently penetrated with ease. This is the kind of encryption that we are told it would take a trillion supercomputers a thousand years to break and the like. Yet it never does. So what are the possible interpretations? The claims about the quality of this encryption are overblown, the terrorists have applied it incompetently, or the Americans have a backdoor that allows them to bypass it.

So we can expect no effective action from the Americans since they are happy that the monopoly is their monopoly and that the rest of the world is effectively forced to pay a monopoly tax to this incompetent American company. What have we seen from Europe? Nothing but Mickey Mouse fines and trivial actions like forcing Microsoft to separate the OS from the browser. This isn't good enough. We need the kind of action that is likely to bring the monopoly to an end over the medium term. To achieve this, I would suggest the following for consideration:

  • Ban or massively restrict special pricing arrangements, whereby Microsoft supplies its Windows software at differential prices to various other companies - in return, of course, for them obliging Microsoft in some way, such as refusing to sell computers with alternative operating systems. There should be a retail price and a wholesale price - available to all.
  • Force retailers or computer manufacturers to sell every model with at least two operating systems, or with no operating system.
  • Pass laws exposing Microsoft to legal and commercial consequences for the failings of its software. These would invalidate the vast sets of terms and conditions which Microsoft supplies with all of its products, the effect of which is to insulate Microsoft from the consequences of its own actions.
  • Create a new open-source operating system, paid for by the EU taxpayer. This would probably be a version of Linux.
  • Force Microsoft to release the source code for any version of the Windows operating system it sells in Europe and allow other companies to license that code base and use it to create and sell their own versions of Windows. Microsoft will receive a generous amount of the selling price of any new version of the operating system, allowing it to benefit from the investments it has made over time, but its monopoly would effectively be ended. Other companies would then be selling Windows versions too. And, without question, competent software companies would quickly find ways of making Windows much more user-friendly.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Turkish Accession to the EU

The spectre of Turkish accession to the EU continues to loom ever larger. Even though the French and German governments are now opposed to it, they seem to have been unable or unwilling to stop it. All they have done is slow it down. This week another chapter of the accession negotiations, the 11th out of 35, was opened. This week, also, the Swedish EU presidency begins. Sweden has been embarrassingly eager to welcome the Turks into the EU and plans to push the issue forward.

It seems that Turkish accession is rolling inexorably on and cannot be stopped. It can only be speeded up or slowed down. Eventually, if things go on as they are, there will be a configuration of EU leaders sufficiently favourable to the idea to make it happen for real. Those who care about the future of Europe, and see Turkish accession as a threat to the potential that the EU represents, are going to have to mobilise to stop this nightmare from becoming real. Even though the EU is run almost like the Soviet Union, with an almost total disregard for its people, we're going to have to try and exploit whatever democratic options are available. Bombard your elected representatives with letters objecting to Turkish accession. We just have to hope that, in the end, it will have some effect.