Saturday, May 15, 2010
Humourist Giles Coren explains Britain's new rulers
Both of whom come from very privileged backgrounds and went to famous "public" schools. There is much truth behind the comedic exaggeration below
Look, it’s not about private education. It’s about Eton and Westminster. That’s why the leadership duo is the way that it is. I wish people would understand that. Even Matthew Parris, writing on Thursday about the Nick and Dave show in the Downing Street garden, put Cameron and Clegg’s “astonishingly confident body language” and their being “so obviously relaxed at so potentially tense a time” down to the fact that “the wind of their times was in their sails”.
It may be, Matthew, it may be. But personally I think what you saw was just an Old Etonian and an Old Wet (yup, I’m afraid that’s what they call us) lolling in the garden on a sunny day, having a lark and not really giving a damn. Because we don’t much. Not about anything.
Why on earth should they be tense or unconfident? They’re 43 and they’re going to get to play with the country. Be world famous. Everyone’s going to look at them all the time, do what they say and laugh at their jokes (even quite lame ones, where Nick pretends to walk away and Dave pulls a face). That was the plan right from day one, when they rolled up snivelling at school in their scratchy collars with their groaning tuck boxes and tried not to cry when matron grabbed their balls and told them to cough (or when Cartwright of the Remove grabbed their balls and told them not to make any noise at all).
Nick and Dave spent most of their school lives in gardens. That’ll be why they chose one for the press con. Nick, like me, will have had many of his lessons sprawled out on the grass in Dean’s Yard or on the trim lawn of College Garden in the very shadow of Parliament (or out of their shadow, if your class got there early enough to bag a sunny spot). And as for Dave, well, Eton is basically all gardens.
And then, what, they should have been nervous because of all those journalists and photographers? Come off it. Slack-bellied salarymen in rubber-soled shoes and off-the-peg suits with a “chav gap” where the jacket collar sits an inch back off the shirt? Why would one be nervous in front of them? Nick and Dave were gawped at through five years of school by hordes of tourists toting massive cameras and prepared to pay cash money to be photographed with them (and I hope they took it, I certainly did).
They looked relaxed because they were and are relaxed. Because public speaking comes naturally — they’re not like the Gordon Browns and William Hagues and Margaret Thatchers of this world who have to pretend to be Victorian statesmen when they talk in public, and speak in long, ponderous, structured phrases because they are terrified of being scrutinised au naturel and exposed as nobbut a jumped-up prole. And if there is some idea afloat that Cameron and Clegg should be nervous because they’ve got an unprecedented peacetime coalition to maintain, a £163 billion deficit to recover, and two foreign wars to wriggle out of, well, pish, matey, one can do anything if one only puts one’s mind to it.
But it’s not about private schools. It’s about Eton and Westminster. People of the Left, people with a social conscience, hell, people everywhere have been making a fuss about the public school takeover of government (and it is pretty tragic that more than half the Cabinet is privately educated) but that is not the point, and doesn’t account for Nick and Dave. Simply going to an independent as opposed to a state school doesn’t count for anything. It just means you’re a bit less likely to get stabbed. But it’s not going to make you confident or relaxed.
Only Eton and Westminster — properly impossible to get into, seriously academic, scarily ancient and hog-whimperingly elitist — can do that. And maybe Winchester, at a push.
But forget the rest. Harrow, Rugby, Marlborough, Stowe — these are just places that the rich parents of thick children send them to live because they don’t really love them. As a parent, your money doesn’t ultimately buy you anything except a quieter household in term time and a son who gradually drifts away. (For Jeremy Hunt and Owen Paterson to have made the Cabinet from Charterhouse and Rugby is as impressive as for Baroness Warsi and that red-headed Lib Dem with the glasses to have made the Cabinet from wherever on earth they went — at the taxpayer’s expense, I might add.) Even St Paul’s can’t give you the special twinkle.
Look at George Osborne. George is cleverer than the other two put together, squared and baked in a pie. But he looks no more relaxed or confident than a virgin on her wedding night whose husband doesn’t yet know she has six nipples. And that’s because he went to a school which, for all its exam successes, is a concrete building south of the river where you do 53 GCSEs and are shoo’d off the premises at five o’clock sharp. “Grange Hill without the girls”, was how we always thought of it, sitting in our Jacobean buildings, in our pink ties, with our funny words for everything, putting on plays in Latin and Greek.
And it’s not just me who thinks this. The Nazis knew it too. Himmler feared Etonians for their cunning (though he thought them “soft”), and Ribbentrop wanted to send his sons to Westminster. And if those two didn’t know about the importance of world domination, I don’t know who did. (Indeed, if there is going to be any problem with the coalition at all, it is the age-old prejudice of Westminster boys, who think that Etonians are too posh, and of Etonians, who think that Wets are too clever.) You see, if you’re an OE or a Wet then you know you’ve had it all already. The full deck. The big head start. Fluff it from here and you’re a mimsy git and no mistake.
So it’s not enough just to get into Oxford or Cambridge. The world at large will say you only got in because of your rich parents and your posh school anyway. So you have to ace it. You have to get a First, and you have to get a Blue, and then a blinding job. But that’s still not enough. Because they will still tell you you got all that because of where you went to school or because your great-great-great-uncle was Johann V, Count of Nassau- Dillenburg and you might be distantly related to the Queen. So you have to be modest about it, and you have to wear your learning lightly, and then you have to ace the job too, and then maybe, just maybe, people will think it had to do with you.
Averagely schooled individuals such as Gordon Brown, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan, Harold Wilson and I’ll even include Tony Blair (because, come on, who ever heard of Fettes?) stunned their friends and families just by getting to No 10 in the first place. But Nick and Dave know that any mug with a scholar’s gown and a smattering of Latin can do that if he wants. This week they only finally achieved the bare minimum of what was expected of them when they waved their mummies goodbye at 13. Only now, if they pull it off, and actually make history, in a positive way, are they in with an outside chance of getting some respect.
But don’t expect them to be nervous about it.
Europe's fiscal Fascism brings British withdrawal ever closer
Just when you thought the EU could not go any further down the road towards authoritarian excess, it gets worse.
The European Commission is calling for EU powers to vet budgets of the 27 member states before the draft laws have been presented to the House of Commons, the Tweede Kamer, the Folketing, the Bundestag, the Assemblee nationale, or other national parliaments. It applies to Britain even though we are not in EMU.
Fonctionnaires and EU finance ministers will pass judgement on the British (or Dutch, or Danish, or French) budgets before the elected bodies of these ancient and sovereign nations have seen the proposals. Did we not we not fight the English Civil War and kill a king over such a prerogative?
Yet again we are discovering the trick played on our democracies by Europe’s insiders when they charged ahead with EMU, brushing aside warnings by their own staff economists that monetary union was unworkable without fiscal union. Jacques Delors knew perfectly well that this would lead inevitably to a crisis, but it would be the “beneficial crisis” that would force sovereign parliaments to submit to demands that they would never otherwise accept.
This is now playing out before our eyes. Club Med governments have built up €7 trillion sovereign debt under the cover of monetary union, which shut down the warning signals for borrowers and creditors alike. We are now near – or beyond – the point of no return. Eurozone states must go along with this cynical entrapment, or risk economic catastrophe. The conspirators have succeeded. The €750bn shock and awe package agreed over the weekend clearly alters the character of the European Project, crossing the line towards an EU debt union and an EU Treasury. How long will it be now before the EU acquires direct tax-raising powers?
As French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: “We have a veritable economic government”. I hope the excellent and proud French people realize what this means before it is too late, as it is for the Greek, Irish, Portuguese, and Spanish peoples. They are being forced by the logic of the economic machine to squeeze fiscal policy at a time when they are either recession or trapped in a deeper perma-slump without offsetting stimulus. A Deutsche Bank note to clients said these countries have given up all three instruments of economic control: fiscal, monetary, and exchange. They are powerless. We are under an “EU protectorate”, said Spain’s opposition leader Mariano Rajoy last week, though it was empty, useless rhetoric since he does not draw any of the necessary conclusions from this intolerable state of affairs.
In Brussels, Mr Barroso wants EU powers to monitor current account deficits and credit growth – under pain of sanctions – in order to stop booms running out of control. “We must get to the root of the problems,” he said.
Notice how one-sided this is. The entire adjustment burden falls on the people of the Club Med states – including his own nation, Portugal – though they are already trapped in debt-deflation. There is no recognition that the EMU system itself is fundamentally dysfunctional because the euro was painted on a cultural canopy that cannot possibly be deemed an “optimal currency area”, nor that these countries have been grossly violated by the entirely predictable – and predicted – perversions of EMU.
There is no hint that intrusive EU surveillance powers should be used to compel Germany to increase spending and tolerate higher inflation so that the EU’s North-South divide can be bridged by the both camps meeting each other half way. All responses are tilted in one direction: deflation, fiscal austerity. This is the Gold Bloc fallacy of Continental Europe from 1931 to 1936, the policy that led to Bruning’s destruction of Weimar, Laval’s near destruction of the Third Republic in France with his deflation decrees. It was a precursor to Laval’s fateful role as the Nazi enforcer of Vichy. He was later executed by firing squad, vomitting from a botched suicide with cynanide.
The reactionary character of the EU system is astonishing to behold. Mr Barroso – a Maoist student protester on the revolutionary barricades, turned Thatcherite, turned … what exactly – a Salazar, a son insu? – is becoming a serious danger to civil society and the survival of European democracy. Señor Barroso, a decent man, needs to step back and ask himself what on earth is going to be achieved by imposing a deflation death spiral on a large swathe of Europe.
Nor is there any recognition at all that the European Central Bank was itself partly responsible for the crisis that has now engulfed the South. We all forget that the ECB ran a persistently loose monetary policy during the bubble – Greenspan Lite, let us call it – and an overly tight policy after the bubble burst. A double whammy for the GIPS.
It missed its own inflation target every year, and by the end it was tolerating an 11pc growth rate in the M3 money supply (against a target of 4.5pc, but by then it had abandoned its Bundesbank tradition of monetarism). This was pouring petrol on the property fires of Ireland and Spain.
The ECB has since let M3 contract, doing its own part to ensure a replay of 1931, at least until Europe’s politicians read the riot act on Friday and forced it to buy Greek, Portuguse, Irish, and Spanish bonds, albeit sterilized and injecting no net stimulus into the euroland system. This resassertion of political primacy is entirely appropriate. The idea that central banks should not be accountable to democracy is monstrous and untenable. Besides, they had their chance. They showed themselves unfit for independence. Their doctrines were found to be pseudo-science.
Why did the ECB pursue policies that were so destructive for the GIPS? Because it was helping to nurse Germany through its long post-reunification slump in Phase I, and then bowed to Germany’s phobia of non-existent inflation in Phase II from 2008 onwards. ECB policy was twisted from the start to help one (mentally unhinged?) country. Let us at least be honest about this.
I do not envy David Cameron and George Osborne as they navigate these lethal waters. As Bruno Waterfield reports from Brussels, they will face their first clash next week when the new Chancellor is presented with the Barroso proposals, that is to say proposals for a reversal of the English Civil War and the re-establishment of Stuart monarchical absolutism.
The truth is that no British government can ever put Europe on the back-burner and hope it goes away. It hits you in the face, again, and again, and again. This is why so many British ministers end up feeling a visceral hatred for the project.
In my view, the EU elites overstepped the line by ignoring the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters, then pushing it through under the guise of the Lisbon Treaty without a popular vote, except in Ireland, and when Ireland voted ‘No’, to ignore that too. The enterprise has become illegitimate – iis starting to exhibit the reflexes of tyranny.
The moment of definition is fast arriving from Britain. The measures now being demanded to save monetary union cannot and will not be accepted by this Government, Nick Clegg not withstanding. The most eurosceptic people I have ever met are those who have actually worked for the European Commission, though it takes a while – and liberation from Brussels – for these views to ferment.
The outcome – une véritable gouvernement économique – will put Britain and the eurozone on such separate courses that it will amount to separation in all but name. The sooner we get the nastiness of divorce behind us, the better.
SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan is anti-justice. She will try to push America towards European-style privilege for selected groups
Her liberal defenders insist Ms. Kagan has a first-rate legal mind. She is an academic, having served as dean of Harvard Law School. This supposedly qualifies her to be on the Supreme Court. It does not. Unlike other constitutional scholars, Ms. Kagan has not written any books. Her body of written work is sparse and shallow. Besides several articles and book reviews, she has produced nothing of consequence. She is a mediocre bureaucrat, who has excelled mostly at climbing the greasy pole of academic politics.
Moreover, Ms. Kagan was a corrupt administrator, who turned a blind eye to plagiarism by prominent Harvard faculty members. Confronted by overwhelming evidence that scholars Laurence Tribe and Charles Ogletree - two leading liberals on campus - had pulled word-for-word, direct material from other authors, she effectively gave them a slap on the wrist. If students had committed the same offense, they would have been rightly suspended or expelled. She oversaw the creation of a two-tier system: one set of rules for leftist academics, another one for the student body.
As dean, she prevented military recruiters from coming on campus. The reason: She opposed the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy on homosexuals serving in the military. Her active opposition to military recruitment took place during a time of war. American troops were fighting - and dying - in Iraq and Afghanistan. They needed every soldier and official possible. Ms. Kagan's dogmatic liberalism trumped patriotism.
The real - and only - reason Ms. Kagan has been selected is that she is a partisan ideologue. She worked as a policy aide under the Clinton administration. She is Mr. Obama's solicitor general, arguing the administration's cases before the Supreme Court. Abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, school prayer, the war on terror, the constitutional legitimacy of Obamacare - she will vote the Obama line on every issue.
Ms. Kagan is not simply a traditional liberal. Like her master, Mr. Obama, she seeks to erect a European-style socialist state. She is anti-capitalist. Her undergraduate thesis discussed the glories of socialist agitation in America during the early part of the 20th century. She celebrated their goal of overthrowing the free-market system.
She is also a staunch supporter of European-style "hate speech" laws. In a 1996 article in the University of Chicago Law Review, Ms. Kagan called for the "redistribution of speech." Repeating the arguments of the European left, she called for the government to restrict or prohibit speech that might cause "harm," either directly or by inciting others to commit violence. In other words, protected classes - gays and lesbians, Muslims, minorities, women - should be given privileged status against the claims of free speech. Such hate speech laws have been used to delegitimize and criminalize conservative opinions.
In that same article, Ms. Kagan also argues that the government has the "right" to "unskew" an "overabundance of ideas" in the marketplace. In other words, if there is too much of an idea that the ruling liberal elite does not like, then speech can be "redistributed" to ensure a more "level playing field." It echoes the left's long-held goal of smashing the dominance of conservatives on talk radio.
Western liberalism is sliding towards an embrace of multicultural tyranny. In Europe, soft totalitarianism is becoming a reality - Christianity is being purged from the public square; real conservative opinion is being marginalized; statism is becoming entrenched. The Trojan horse for this assault on human freedom has been so-called hate-speech laws. Through the use of an imperial judiciary, leftist activists are engaging in a massive social-engineering experiment.
The same is now occurring in America. If Ms. Kagan is confirmed, Mr. Obama will be one step closer to reshaping the Supreme Court in his image. His first pick, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the "wise Latina," is doing his bidding. Ms. Kagan is next. Mr. Obama is slowly turning us into Europe. Once he stacks the Supreme Court with a majority of justices, his revolution will be complete. And traditional America will be no more.
Thousands Sign Petition Protesting Empire State Building's Snub of Mother Teresa
Communist sympathizers hate Christians -- as usual. Scrooge McDuck used to call it the Vampire State building. Maybe he was on to something
A nationwide petition has been launched by the Catholic League after the Empire State Building denied a request to commemorate Mother Teresa's 100th birthday.
Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic civil rights organization, submitted an application to the Empire State Building Lighting Partners in February to have the skyscraper feature blue and white lights -- the colors of Mother Teresa's congregation -- on Aug. 26 to commemorate her centennial. The request was denied without explanation last week, and more than 6,000 people have signed a protest petition in just one day, Donohue told FoxNews.com.
"I'd like to find out what's driving this," he said. "But I'm confident it's just a matter of time before we win on this thing."
Donohue noted that the iconic building in midtown Manhattan changed its colors to red and yellow last year to honor the 60th anniversary of China's Communist Revolution.
"Yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people," Donohue said in a statement. "In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa."
The iconic Empire State Building is lit in white most nights, but nearly every week the skyscraper gets splashed with color to honor holidays and heroes.
Donohue called on Anthony Malkin, owner of the Empire State Building, to reverse the decision.
"Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom," Donohue's statement continued. "She built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters and soup kitchens all over the world … Not surprisingly, she was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row in the mid-1990s. But she is not good enough to be honored by the Empire State Building."
A spokeswoman for the building's public relations firm declined comment Thursday when reached by FoxNews.com.
Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, died in 1997 at the age of 87. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, a step in the path to being declared a saint.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.