Irenic. Adj: favoring, conducive to, or operating toward peace, moderation, or conciliation. Notes from a Politics and Economics undergraduate just back from somewhere in the MidWest. "You said you were going to Ohio? Where the Hell's that?"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Q. How can you learn to respect Muslims? A. Read the BNP website

I know this happened a while ago but I've just read an irate attack on the BBC by one of the bloggers on the British National Party website after the corporation reported on a BNP protest rally in Stoke-on-Trent back in September.

I must say I do rather like the graphic they've made!

One of the things the BNP pick up on is how the BBC report a young Muslim fellow in Stoke as saying

"The BNP has support in this city because of a decline in Christian values. That makes people more materialistic and selfish and they don't care about their community.

"Also, people here aren't educated. Ask them if they've read a book in the last year, the last five years. A lot of them haven't.

I can't help but agree with this man! I can well imagine that plenty of ordinary people in Stoke haven't read a properly bound book in years. That the BNP refuse to accept this is a tactical error. With the mass of Labour and David Cameron's Conservatives, not to mention the Lib Dems, succumbed to secular humanism, there is a space for a muscular, even militant, political defence of Christianity in Great Britain. I suspect the reason that the BNP can't see this is the same reason terrorists wanted to blow up the Ministry of Sound nightclub: BNP members have, like almost 99% of the working class, given in to the immoral lifestyles foisted upon them by elites working out of places like the BBC!

In order to defend a culture from the apparently adverse effects of immigration one has to accept that there is one to defend in the first place. The ordinariness of BNP members in Stoke and elsewhere should be proof that there isn't. Indeed, how can we as a nation defeat Islamism if they've got God and we haven't? England is well in to injury time and even the BNP players are scoring own goals.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Patricia Bozell (née Buckley), 1927-2008, Requiescat in pace

Somehow, despite reading the Washington Post every day this summer, I failed to notice the passing of a great lady. Mrs Patricia Bozell was the wife of L. Brent Bozell, Jnr. and sister of arguably the most important American conservative of the 20th century, William F. Buckley, Jnr., Bozell's best friend at Yale. According to the obituary, Mrs Bozell wasn't scared of rolling up her sleeves to defend the Faith:

Mrs. Bozell was less public than many in her family, but in March 1971 she attracted press attention with an attempted physical confrontation with radical feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson at a Catholic University forum.
Before an audience of 800, Atkinson said the Virgin Mary was more "used" than if she had participated in a sexual conception.
"I can't let her say that," Mrs. Bozell yelled, as she ran toward Atkinson and tried to slap her. Her hand struck a microphone.
Afterward, Mrs. Bozell told The Washington Post: "If it comes down to violence for social protest, I do believe in it if there's adequate provocation. I went in there, heard blasphemy and acted."

Brent Bozell, along with William F. and James Buckley, led early efforts to stop the murder of innocent children by the fashionable procedure of abortion. The following is from Rick Perlstein's excellent new book, "Nixonland: the Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America", which I'm reading at the moment.

In 1970, when National Review co-founder L. Brent Bozell Jr's group Los Hijos de Tormenta—Sons of Thunder, after the Spanish fascists—learned that George Washington University hospital was performing abortions they marched there in khaki uniforms and red berets, carrying Papal flags and rosaries: " are daggering to death your unborn tomorrow," a priest intoned. "The very cleanliness of your sterilized murder factories gives off the stench of death." They smashed a plate glass window in the ensuing scuffle with security guards.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Did the Millennium Bug help cause the Credit Crunch?

The view that the Credit Crunch is all a bit hyped up, like Bird Flu and the "Millennium Bug", is common at the moment, not least in the US House of Representatives. But the FT's John Authers, writing in Saturday's "Long View" column makes a substantive link between Y2K and the current financial crisis:

Other long-ago technical decisions now loom large. When computers were in their infancy, programmers saved space by feeding only the last two digits of the year into computers’ clocks; that prompted widespread fear that the world’s computer infrastructure would collapse at the turn of the millennium; that prompted the Federal Reserve and other central banks to flood the market with cheap money, just in case; that fuelled the boom and bust in technology stocks; that prompted fears of a downturn and led to even cheaper money from the Fed; and that made all kinds of manoeuvrings in the credit market possible that would not have made sense had base rates been higher. We are learning about the consequences of that one too.

Is this really true? Did the Fed systematically lower interest rates for fear of a worldwide meltdown should PCs fail to wake up at 00:00 on 01/01/00?

It certainly makes sense that fears about Y2K could have led to a liquidity crisis. Worries about cash machines not working on January 1st led deposit banks to fear mass withdrawals at the end of 1999. Companies may have had similar fears and could have been reluctant to buy other corporations' short term commercial paper, especially if it came due at the turn of the millennium. In a bid to have cash on hand to satisfy both retail and corporate customers, banks may have sought to exchange illiquid, long term securities for shorter term government bonds.

Such fears are nothing out of the ordinary. Indeed, a very similar set of concerns is responsible for the subzero conditions in the money markets at the present moment. However, the evidence suggests the Fed's policy in 99/00 was well off-trend. This graph shows the growth in the monetary base since 1985:

Source: Von Mises' Institute (

You can clearly see a sharp rise in the growth of the monetary base in 1999 and a correspondingly sharp contraction in the year 2000. That is to say, the Fed lowered rates and then returned them to almost exactly their pre-Y2K fear levels. Indeed, target levels were actually rising throughout the period. If Authers is right, what central bankers thought was a surgical intervention to allay a specific concern clearly had an unintended consequence, for which only now are we paying. If nothing else, this suggests using monetary policy in such a way is fraught with danger.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"The Lewes Pound"

Residents of my home town of Lewes, East Sussex, have decided to issue their own currency.  Not content with the creaky wheels of Britain's lending machinery, local busybodies have decided to apply a small dollop of WD40 onto the finances of Lewes' small businesses.  While the idea might at first glance look like an economic lubricant - "Let's keep money in the town!" - the Lewes pound should soon serve only to illustrate why we abolished local currencies in the first place: retailers do not only sell products from their local area and nor do consumers buy them.  A shop in Lewes paid in "Lewes pounds" can't pay cash to suppliers who don't want the infant currency.  Small businesses will be forced to go to one bank for convertibility, increasing costs all round.  

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama and the politics of bitterness

I'm sure you will have heard of Barack Obama's flash of honesty to some bigwig donors in California last weekend:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations

Obama was a devotee of Nietzsche at Columbia. Perhaps this is at the root of the utter lack of compassion evident in these remarks. See how yet again he himself clings to elitist liberal explanations of ordinary voters' concerns when he's around the people he feels most comfortable with. We know he's no good making nice in rural Pennsylvanian diners. We know he can't bowl to save his life. But these things are mere distractions from the great truth of Obama's old-fashioned elitism.

Most people seem pretty convinced that Obama doesn't share the racist views of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright but the question I would still like an answer to concerns Barack's sincerity. Conscious of the influence of black churches on the electorate in Chicago, did Barack cynically plan his career via the Social Gospel?

It's said you can never get Nietzsche out of your system. Hopefully the next few months will be a very painful expurgation for Mr Obama, for his good and the good of all America.

NB Exhibit A (for this blog) in the trial of the biased BBC. Compassionate BBC News Online editors put Obama's amended remarks in the quotation box for the story.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Diversity Dictionary

I stumbled across Ohio State's Diversity Dictionary today. Perhaps an occasional peep at its contents might cheer you up, dear reader? Among such gems as heterosexism and essentialism (Er...), I found this:

(adj) - Relating to or deriving from the language, traditions, or cultures of the peoples of Asian nations in the region designated as "the Orient," or "the East," by Europeans. This term is conspicuously eurocentric as "the East" is constructed as being opposed to a fixed reference point, "the West," or western Europe.

I'm just off to the Geography department to start taking down all those chauvinist world maps that put Asia on the right and the Americas on the left...

Thanks to David Kupelian.

Friday, March 7, 2008

One of the very few things Michelle Obama and Margaret Hodge have in common: interest obsession

Chris Matthews has compared her to Jackie Kennedy. I'm going to do her a great disservice and compare her to the crazed excuse for a woman that is Great Britain's Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Margaret Hodge. For there was something in Mrs Hodge's comments at IPPR that reminded me of Michelle Obama's "first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud to be an American" whoopsy. Mrs Hodge trashed the Proms this week in a thoroughly misguided attempt at defining the cultural apparatus of "Britishness" (anyone who can say the Proms aren't inclusive and then go on to praise The Archers for being a broadcast "everyone can feel part of" just needs help). But she also said this:

"National mottos and statements of shared values have to be lived and made real if they are to fulfil their purpose. Equal economic and educational life chances must match the grander statements in order for people to invest their confidence and their trust. Without them, exhortations about identity, belonging and cohesion will not succeed"

This seems to me similar to Mrs Obama's Freudian slip at Madison. It appears to be a common trait of liberalism either side of the pond. Mrs Hodge is saying economic and educational advancement is a pre-requisite for patriotism. Mrs Obama echoes this sentiment in rather narrower terms, pride in her country is conditional on the (as it happens, prescient) emergence of a movement for the kind of economic and educational change she approves of.

Yet for many, patriotism isn't about self-interest, or the consequence of the success of a view of the common good that one may happen to feel is one's self-interest. Of course, a known impossible ideal would be a depressing motto for a nation and the pursuit of perfection can always lead to frustration (See Franklin's speckled axe story). But by adopting the standard of these two very different women we give up on the nation as an entity capable of driving us to live outside of ourselves, its very raison d'être.

Al Gore and Willie Horton

Viz. the mudslinging that is beginning in earnest between Clinton and Obama now Hillary has her mojo back, I went and read this story on Slate from 1999 about the real origin of the Willie Horton story. Al Gore did it! He brought up the issue in a candidates debate shortly before dropping out of the 1988 race. I love this quote from Bush Snr. strategist Jim Pinkerton, :

"That's the first time I paid attention," said Pinkerton. "I thought to myself, 'This is incredible' ...It totally fell into our lap."

Jonathan Friedland, Mr Guardianista, is right. This thing is raw meat for McCain. If an unsuccessful, testing of the waters candidacy like that of Gore '88 could inadvertently imperil its party's chances to such a degree, Tony Resco, the Bill & Hillary tax return and (insert any scandal to be dredged up between now and Pennsylvania) could have a devastating effect. The GOP could well be in a position to make some cutbacks in its "Oppo Research" department this year. Or they could spend time putting all this dirt in perspective...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Alberto Gonzales: Brave or Foolish?

So former US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, visited Ohio State today and did a curious thing. Not a year out of public office he volunteered to give a speech and Q&A to an audience which he, one can only assume, knew would be composed mostly of hostile college students (and those who wish they still were). Yet, he chose to present his audience with a series of "follow your dreams" platitudes that wouldn't be out of place on the presidential campaign trail. Skipping the scandals that plagued his his time at the Justice Department , he clearly sought to defuse the tension yet only gave his attention-seeking detractors more ammunition for their childish rebukes (Gonzales: "Live your dreams". Heckler: "Like torture").

Gonzales' central theme, that effecting your dreams is put at risk by terrorism, is hackneyed to say the least. But it was as if he came to Ohio State deliberately to piss off opponents of his former boss's administration. Citing the extended adolescence thesis (the "Odyssey" of young people in their twenties who can't make their minds up) he seemed to be saying, "You can criticise all you like but when you're a grown up sometimes you have to make decisions, other than Wayne's or Mike's on Friday night". Not a good premise for a Q&A. Unfortunately, the exciting legal arguments for increased executive power that the former government counsel knows inside out took second place to Alberto Gonzales' ego.