Thursday, December 14, 2006


Local officials vow that the bells of a Baptist church will continue to peal above the complaints of atheists. A sound system owned by the borough of Jewett City and the town of Griswold and housed in a church has prompted the Connecticut chapter of American Atheists Inc. to demand that the governments cut their ties with the bells. The group also wants the volume turned down.

More than 75 residents pushed back Monday, demanding that the borough's Board of Warden and Burgesses not silence the sound system that plays the chimes heard throughout the area. Some officials say that barring a court order or legal advice to the contrary, the bells will continue to sound. "The bells will continue to toll until they stop us," Borough Warden Cynthia Kata said. Burgess Patrick Sullivan was defiant. "The borough is not gonna run," he said. "We're here, and we're gonna fight."

Dennis Paul Himes, director of the Connecticut atheists chapter and William Russell, a chapter member and a Norwich resident who initially complained about the chimes, did not attend Monday's meeting. They said they were not invited, though Kata disputed the claim. Himes said Monday that the borough and the town should sell the sound equipment to the church or a private organization. Municipal involvement with the bells violates the separation of church and state and that the arrangement permits the church to benefit from government property, he said. Atheists have on occasion sued over such issues as the dispute in Griswold but that the group's resources are limited and chooses its legal battles carefully, Himes said. Russell said if the town and borough refuse to sell the sound system or move it to a secular site, he will "take the issue to wherever and whoever I have to." "If you read your Constitution, government is not supposed to promote any religion," he said. "What are the bells in the Baptist Church doing? Promoting religion."

If a lawsuit ensues, several residents and businesses say they will buy the equipment and donate it to the church.



General Augusto Pinochet, who died Sunday, was the most successful dictator of the 20th century - yet also one of the most vilified. Dictators are supposedly judged by two tests. How many people did they kill? And did they bring prosperity to their people? These two tests hang together because Marxists believed that their various ideological despotisms (in Cuba, China, the USSR) would eventually midwife a utopia - justifying their mass murders retrospectively.

So how did individual dictators fare? Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong each murdered tens of millions in labor camps, purges, forced famines and war. But they were less successful at improving their societies. Stalin built a society on terror and extended it through conquest - but the USSR couldn't feed itself, and eventually collapsed in economic ruins. Hitler committed suicide in the literal ruins of Berlin with the German people digging for scraps in the rubble of the Third Reich. Mao? He killed as many millions unintentionally through his industrial "Great Leap Forward" as he did with malice aforethought in his purges and "Cultural Revolution" - and China's current prosperity is squarely rooted in a silent repudiation of his economic principles. Yet Mao won lavish praise in Western obituaries, from the London Daily Telegraph to The New York Times.

Francisco Franco and Fidel Castro, meanwhile, each murdered no more than tens of thousands of people following their victories in civil war and rebellion. Moreover, their economic paths diverged. Castro squandered billions in Russian subsidies in the course of ruining the Cuban economy. With those subsides ended, Cuba today is a tragedy: a naturally prosperous island reduced to beggary and prostitution by the personal vanity and economic illiteracy of a foolish old man who still sees himself as a dashing revolutionary.

Wisely, Franco never saw himself as glamorous. He was a cool cynic who manipulated other people's ideologies to ensure his own dominance and 40 years of stagnant politics. Behind a facade of tranquility, however, he transformed Spain into a dynamic market economy, built its middle class and created a stable society, modern in every respect except its political system. Within five years of his death, Spain was a democracy too. Franco received contemptuously hostile obituaries. Castro's? Let's hope we read them soon.

That brings us to Pinochet. His victims are estimated at some 3,200. One innocent murdered is one too many. But if we are talking comparisons, Pinochet's total of innocents murdered is (as estimated by the Cuba Archive Project) about a twentieth of Castro's - partly because Pinochet exiled many of his dissidents, while Castro sinks his "boat people" so that the sharks get them. And Pinochet's economic legacy outstrips that of most advanced democracies, let alone the economic rubble of all the communist dictators. Within a decade of the 1973 coup, Chile was a stable growing economy - transformed by monetary, supply-side, trade and labor market reforms introduced by Pinochet.

When Chile returned to democracy in the late '80s, it continued his free-market approach. The whole world noticed this. As communism was collapsing in 1989-91, one encountered self-described "Pinochet Marxists" in the Soviet bloc who sought an extension of one-party rule to impose the free-market reforms now needed to repair the ravages of socialism. Thus, if successful economic transformation could justify political mass murder - the Marxist test - then Pinochet should be celebrated without reserve as the savior of his country (with Franco as a strong runner-up).

Contra the Marxists, however, murder is not an economic policy, and the soundest economic policy can't justify murder. If Pinochet authorized murders, he should have been tried for them - though the same rule should apply to Castro, other surviving dictators and those supporters of Allende who killed opponents in the Chilean civil war.

For Pinochet's coup was in reality a short civil war. In 1973, Chile's Parliament and Supreme Court, backed by public opinion, called for military intervention to overthrow President Salvador Allende for his flagrant abuse of the Constitution. (They also feared an imminent Marxist coup led by him.) One of three military leaders who responded to that call, Pinochet gradually accumulated power afterward - probably corrupted by the delusion that he was essential to national salvation. But the original coup was never a personal power-grab: It was an attempt to save Chile from a Marxist dictatorship that, on the evidence of history, would have proved more enduring and more blood-stained than his own rule. Pinochet, in short, first defeated Marxism and then disproved it - which explains better than anything his status as the world's worst dictator even though it is at variance with so many other facts.

Among them is the fact that Pinochet also surrendered power voluntarily after defeat in a referendum. In a historic deal, he bargained a dignified retirement in return for restoring democracy and an amnesty. That amnesty satisfied most Chileans and founded Chilean democracy in a secure national consensus - but spurred Pinochet's foreign enemies on to greater efforts. He was arraigned before British courts at the behest of a Spanish magistrate on the most dubious pretexts of international law at the very moment that Castro was being feted in Madrid. "Human rights" activists then kept up the legal chase.



The politically correct British police are great at oppressing law-abiding folk. It's only criminals they can't be bothered with. Post below lifted from Burning our Money

Yesterday afternoon I was formally detained by the Metropolitan Police. And I have the Stop and Search docket to prove it.

What was I doing? Drug dealing? Causing an affray perhaps? No. I was standing a hundred yards from New Scotland Yard, in Caxton Street SW1, making a video about police waste for the Taxpayers' Alliance.

My afternoon began when I set myself up with my camera in front of that famous revolving Scotland Yard sign, exactly where all those TV reporters stand. I began talking into the camera, which is mounted on a hand-held monopod (a bargain at 14.99 pounds from Jessops).

Within about 30 seconds I was approached by a PC who asked what I was doing. This turns out to be quite common while out filming, so I explained.

He responded by asking if I was with the media, and I said 'yes- 18 Doughty Street'. Amazingly, he'd never heard of it! He then said I was in a sensitive area, and asked how long I would be? I told him a few more minutes, and he said OK. But by remaining right beside me watching and listening, he put me off my stroke. So I thanked him civilly and moved off down the street, well away from the Yard.

A few more minutes passed and I carried on filming myself talking into the camera. I was then apprehended by two of Blair's Community Police Officers.

Again, they asked me what I was doing, again I explained, and again they told me I was in a sensitive area. They then said they'd observed me "behaving unusually with a metal pole". And even though I showed them exactly what I was doing- and showed them my "script" comprising pages printed from BOM- they very politely told me I was to receive a Stop And Search.

For those that don't know, Stop and Search is a multi-page form introduced after the Stephen Lawrence case, which the officer has to fill in with all kinds of box-ticking and other assorted guff, including the suspect's ethnic group ( which the suspect has to complete himself, in case a wrong guess by the officer "causes offence"). It took the officers- two of them remember- 20 minutes to complete, with doubtless further time required back at the station to process and record.

So while one of them was busy ticking and writing away, I asked the other if I could go on filming afterwards. Not there I was told. OK, where could I go? He couldn't say because, although not formally defined, the whole of Westminster- and other vast swathes of London- constitute a "sensitive area". So I'd probably get stopped again.

Well, why don't they stop the tourists queuing up to have their snaps taken in front of the Scotland Yard sign? Ah, well... that's because they're tourists. I wanted to ask about the big bearded Asian ones with the 500mm telephoto lenses, but I guessed that might land me inside on a race-hate wrap.

And how come they don't stop mainstream TV journos filming outside Scotland Yard? Ah,well, that's because they're TV broadcasters... they have big crews and that. Which clearly makes the whole thing a lot safer than some loopy white middle-aged bloke with grey hair and specs talking to a metal pole.

So after they'd taken ID and radio-namechecked me, I took myself off down to College Green outside Parliament. That's always full of loopy guys talking guff, and nobody batted an eyelid down there.

After I'd calmed down, I came up with the three questions I'd like answered:

1. WTF should I be recorded on a Police database for filming myself on a public street in central London?

2. WTF are the police wasting time on nonsense like this, when really bad stuff like this is happening?

3. WTF is the Met's terrorist profiling so pants that someone like me gets caught in it?

I am old enough to remember when law-abiding taxpaying middle-class types used to have respect for the police. But the more the cops harrass and criminalise us, the more we understand how fundamentally dysfunctional they have become.

Violent crime and anti-social behaviour rage on our streets, yet all our 16 billion pounds per annum cops can do is close police stations, and spend a man-hour infringing my civil liberty.

With the likes of Sir Ian Bonkers Blair at the controls, the current system is broken irrepairably.

Has Tony Blair seen the multi-culturalism light?

The full text of Blair's "about turn" speech is here

The Prime Minister has long hinted that he harbours doubts about the ideology of multi-culturalism that has done so much to divide one British person from another. Yesterday, he finally expressed those doubts - plainly enough to infuriate both professional multi-culturalists in the public sector and the Muslim Association of Britain, which described his remarks as "alarming".

The most important feature of Tony Blair's speech was an admission for which we have waited far too long: that there is a connection between Islamic extremism and political correctness. Muslims who hate this country are nourished by the constant assertions that our nation's history is a catalogue of shame; indeed, many of them will have been taught this since their first history lessons in a British primary school. (It is, sadly, a common experience now for state-educated children to be instructed, at some stage, to write essays based on the assumption that they are slaves on a British plantation.)

Multi-culturalism portrays itself as a means of celebration: in fact, it is an invitation to all minorities to complain, loudly and persistently, about their victimhood. And, when this self-pitying worldview comes into contact with religious fanaticism, the results can be - literally - explosive. That is presumably what Mr Blair means when he says that the events of July 7 last year threw the whole concept of multi-cultural Britain "into sharp relief".

The Prime Minister and his close colleagues are plainly fed up with the lumbering grievance-mongers of the race relations industry: in the fight between Ken Livingstone and Trevor Phillips, reforming head of the Commission for Racial Equality, they are cheering loudly for the latter. Good for them.

True, the ideology that Mr Blair now decries has been advanced chiefly by his own party. Given his readiness to apologise for ancient wrongs, it would perhaps have been appropriate to acknowledge this more recent mistake. Still, we are delighted that Mr Blair has come round to the view that this newspaper has always held, and that our countrymen have clung to through decades of official bullying and hectoring.

What, though, are these "British values" that Mr Blair wants everyone to accept? It will not do to cant about freedom, fairness and tolerance: admirable as they are, these virtues would serve equally well for Ecuador or Finland. British values, surely, are bound up in our institutions: common law, a sovereign parliament, habeas corpus, counties, army regiments: the very institutions that have often been traduced by this ministry. Perhaps Mr Blair might devote his final months to repairing some of this damage.


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