Thursday, November 25, 2010

British foreign policy to be dictated by Arab states

This is a triumph for Britain's FCO (Foreign office), who have always been pro-Arab, allegedly because of a shared interest in secretive homosexuality. The FCO obviously found a new government easy to bamboozle

British foreign policy will change to reflect Arab concerns over the Middle East peace process as part of the Coalition's efforts to seal a strategic agreement with the Gulf during the Queen's visit to the region. Whitehall officials said Foreign Secretary William Hague's decision to reach out to Gulf states in an effort to secure better diplomatic and trade ties meant Britain had to "take on board" Arab foreign policy goals.

Requesting better ties would be a two-way street, not just plea for more defence contracts and exports, they said. "It will be a six lane highway with movement in both directions," said one diplomat. "We have to respond to what Gulf States want. If we want a long-term partnership on foreign policy, then changes in our stance have to be part of it."

The Queen arrived in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, at the start of a five-day visit that will also take in Oman.

Both countries are long-standing allies, where the royal family also has strong personal ties with local leaders. The United Arab Emirates end of the visit was rearranged after a planned tour last year was cancelled at the last minute. The visit to Oman is to join the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Sultan Qaboos's ascension to the throne.

But the visit has taken on a more significant, and unusually political context both with the change of government in Britain and increasing tensions with Iran a short distance away on the other side of the Gulf.

Mr Hague set improving relations with the Gulf and India as his first policy goals, and both David Cameron, the prime minister, and Liam Fox, the defence secretary, visited Abu Dhabi within a month of taking office.

Iran has threatened to retaliate against western interests in the Gulf in the event of a western-led air strike against sites associated with its nuclear programme. With 100,000 British residents of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the other emirates alone, and a strong British and American military presence, the MoD regards a joint approach with the UAE as vital.

To underline the point, the Queen and Prince Philip will watch a fly-past today (Thursday) of Mirage and F16 fighter jets from the UAE Air Force, joined by four RAF Typhoons. The event is ceremonial, to mark the Queen's first visit to the country since 1979, but the Typhoons will be staying on next week along with elements of the Royal Navy for a joint Air Defence drill in the Gulf, which Tehran will be watching closely.

Officials in both Abu Dhabi and London make no bones about stressing the significance of the defence relationship as the West and its regional allies gear up to a possible confrontation with Iran.

That may mean yet further withdrawal of traditional British support for Israel, with criticism of its government already more marked under Mr Hague than it was under New Labour government.

In another indication of the Foreign Office's new sensitivity to Arab opinion, officials admitted to The Daily Telegraph that policies on the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, Israel's invasion of Gaza in 2008-9, and its occupation of the West Bank and settlements policy were "motivators" for the Islamic radicalism that they confronted daily in the Gulf.


The 25 Best Quotes About Liberals

John Hawkins is an inveterate maker of lists. This is one of his better ones

25) Whenever I read liberals reporting about the goings- on of conservatives I always get the nature-documentary vibe. A liberal reporter puts on his or her Dian Fossey hat in order to attempt to write another installment of Conservatives in the Mist. I've followed this particular brand of reporting for years, it's almost a fetish of mine. Most attempts fail. Of these lesser varieties, there's fear ("Troglodytes!"), mockery ("Irrelevant troglodytes!"), condescension ("I had to explain to them they're troglodytes."), bewilderment ("Why don't they understand they're troglodytes?"), astonishment (Dear God, they're not all troglodytes!"), and a few combinations of all the above. -- Jonah Goldberg

24) There are no bad guys on the left. There are only people who’ve been driven to desperation by conservative evil. -- Allahpundit

23) Words mean nothing to liberals. They say whatever will help advance their cause at the moment, switch talking points in a heartbeat, and then act indignant if anyone uses the exact same argument they were using five minutes ago. -- Ann Coulter

22) Inside many liberals is a totalitarian screaming to get out. They don't like to have another point of view in the room that they don't squash and the way they try to squash it is by character assassination and name calling. -- David Horowitz

21) The reason any conservative's failing is always major news is that it allows liberals to engage in their very favorite taunt: Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy is the only sin that really inflames them. Inasmuch as liberals have no morals, they can sit back and criticize other people for failing to meet the standards that liberals simply renounce. It's an intriguing strategy. By openly admitting to being philanderers, draft dodgers, liars, weasels and cowards, liberals avoid ever being hypocrites. -- Ann Coulter

20) Indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminateness of policy. It leads the modern liberal to invariably side with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success. Why? Very simply if nothing is to be recognized as better or worse than anything else then success is de facto unjust.
There is no explanation for success if nothing is better than anything else and the greater the success the greater the injustice. Conversely and for the same reason, failure is de facto proof of victimization and the greater the failure, the greater the proof of the victim is, or the greater the victimization. -- Evan Sayet

19) It was in the 1960s that the left convinced itself that there is something fascistic about patriotism and something perversely "patriotic" about running down America. Anti-Americanism -- a stand-in for hatred of Western civilization -- became the stuff of sophisticates and intellectuals as never before. Flag burners became the truest "patriots" because dissent -- not just from partisan politics, but the American project itself -- became the highest virtue. -- Jonah Goldberg

18) But all liberals only have empathy for the exact same victims -- always the ones that are represented by powerful liberal interest groups. -- Ann Coulter

17) Liberals have created, and the minority leadership has exploited, a community of dependent people, unaware of the true route to prosperity and happiness: self-reliance and self-investment. Instead, people are told that America is unjust, unfair, and full of disadvantages. They are told that their only hope is for government to fix their problems. What has happened is that generations of people have bought into this nonsense and as a result have remained hopelessly mired in poverty and despair -- because the promised solutions don't work. And they will never work -- they never have. -- Rush Limbaugh

16) One of the overriding points of Liberal Fascism is that all of the totalitarian "isms" of the left commit the fallacy of the category error. They all want the state to be something it cannot be. They passionately believe the government can love you, that the state can be your God or your church or your tribe or your parent or your village or all of these things at once. Conservatives occasionally make this mistake, libertarians never do, liberals almost always do. -- Jonah Goldberg

15) Given the religious nature and the emotional power of Leftist values, Jews and Christians on the Left often derive their values from the Left more than from their religion. -- Dennis Prager

14) When one becomes a liberal, he or she pretends to advocate tolerance, equality and peace, but hilariously, they're doing so for purely selfish reasons. It's the human equivalent of a puppy dog's face: an evolutionary tool designed to enhance survival, reproductive value and status. In short, liberalism is based on one central desire: to look cool in front of others in order to get love. Preaching tolerance makes you look cooler, than saying something like, “please lower my taxes” -- Greg Gutfeld

13) Stupidity is a luxury and you will find time and time and time and again that those who are overwhelmingly on the left are those who can afford to be. -- Evan Sayet

12) With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society. -- Ann Coulter

11) If the truth is boring, civilization is irksome. The constraints inherent in civilized living are frustrating in innumerable ways. Yet those with the vision of the anointed often see these constraints as only arbitrary impositions, things from which they--and we all--can be “liberated.” The social disintegration which has followed in the wake of such liberation has seldom provoked any serious reconsideration of the whole set of assumptions--the vision--which led to such disasters. That vision is too well insulated from feedback. -- Thomas Sowell

10) Liberals claim to love gays when it allows them to vent their spleen at Republicans. But disagree with liberals and their first response is to call you gay. Liberals are gays' biggest champions on issues most gays couldn't care less about, like gay marriage or taxpayer funding of photos of men with bullwhips up their derrieres. But who has done more to out, embarrass, and destroy the lives of gay men who prefer to keep their orientation private than Democrats? Who is more intolerant of gays in the Republican Party than gays in the Democratic Party? -- Ann Coulter

9) End results that work that don't involve government threaten liberals. -- Rush Limbaugh

8) In their zeal for particular kinds of decisions to be made, those with the vision of the anointed seldom consider the nature of the process by which decisions are made. Often what they propose amounts to third-party decision making by people who pay no cost for being wrong--surely one of the least promising ways of reaching decisions satisfactory to those who must live with the consequences. -- Thomas Sowell

7) That is one reason "feelings" and "compassion" are two of the most often used liberal terms. "Character" is no longer a liberal word because it implies self-restraint. "Good and evil" are not liberal words either as they imply a moral standard beyond one's feelings. In assessing what position to take on moral or social questions, the liberal asks him or herself, "How do I feel about it?" or "How do I show the most compassion?" -- not "What is right?" or "What is wrong?" For the liberal, right and wrong are dismissed as unknowable, and every person chooses his or her own morality. -- Dennis Prager

6) In their haste to be wiser and nobler than others, the anointed have misconceived two basic issues. They seem to assume (1) that they have more knowledge than the average member of the benighted and (2) that this is the relevant comparison. The real comparison, however, is not between the knowledge possessed by the average member of the educated elite versus the average member of the general public, but rather the total direct knowledge brought to bear though social processes (the competition of the marketplace, social sorting, etc.), involving millions of people, versus the secondhand knowledge of generalities possessed by a smaller elite group. -- Thomas Sowell

5) Everyone moralizes. The suggestion that liberals aren't moralizers is so preposterous it makes it hard for me to take any of them seriously when they wax indignant about "moralizers." Almost every day, they tell us what is moral or immoral to think and to say about race, taxes, abortion — you name it. They explain it would be immoral for me to spend more of my own money on my own children when that money could be spent by government on other people’s children. In short, they think moralizing is fine. They just want to have a monopoly on the franchise. -- Jonah Goldberg

4) If you can somehow force a liberal into a point- counterpoint argument, his retorts will bear no relation to what you've said -- unless you were in fact talking about your looks, your age, your weight, your personal obsessions, or whether you are a fascist. In the famous liberal two-step, they leap from one idiotic point to the next, so you can never nail them. It's like arguing with someone with Attention Deficit Disorder. -- Ann Coulter

3) My analysis is that most faith based systems depend upon an absolute moral order. The declaration of things as absolutely evil or absolutely good, as sin or virtue, puts liberalism into a horrible position because it's founded on no judgment on anything. As a result, any faith that is seriously practiced or understood is a challenge to the politics that depend on constituencies that would rather not be told that their choices are bad and their lives are not virtuous. -- Hugh Hewitt

2) The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else? -- Thomas Sowell

1) To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil. -- Charles Krauthammer


Californian Leviathan

Censorship, the forceful prohibition of the expression of man's thinking, is one of the most destructive crimes that a government can commit against its own people -- because it makes all the other crimes possible. This is why a government that seeks to achieve unlimited power will always impose censorship -- as a matter of necessity to control the citizenry and keep us docile and uninformed. So now, as a chilling development on our road toward statism in America, attempts to limit and control the ability of individuals to express their views are becoming more prevalent. One such instance has recently impacted a Tea Party group in the San Francisco Bay area.

The East Bay Tea Party posted billboards along California's highway 680 in April of this year. The signs read "Vote them out!" and things of that nature, generally expressing disdain for those currently holding positions of power in the government, in addition to advertising the group's website. The signs were posted on private property and did not obstruct traffic or pose any kind of hazard.

Over the 4th of July weekend, vandals trespassed onto one of the properties and destroyed the signs located there. The EBTP replaced those signs, but another, more formidable group of thugs was lying in wait. The individuals on whose property the billboards were located have recently been harassed, threatened, and intimidated -- not by another gang of street thugs but by the California Department of Transportation. The signs have been taken down as a result of this coercion.

Make no mistake -- the state action was lawful, albeit horrendously immoral. And that is the point: government regulations on all levels have reached the stage where little action is possible for an individual without first obtaining permission from local, state, and federal authorities. Section 5350 of the Orwellian Outdoor Advertising Act of the State of California states:

"No person shall place any advertising display within the areas affected by the provisions of this chapter in this state without first having secured a written permit from the director or from his authorized agent."

The affected areas include anything within view of a public highway. This means that before placing a sign on his or her private property within view of any highway in California, an individual must first obtain written permission from the director of the California DOT.

The scope of the state authority includes approval not only of size, location, etc., but also of content (section 5355). So before posting a sign that opposes the government, as the East Bay Tea Party did, one must first obtain permission from the government.

What happens if someone simply takes the initiative to put up a sign on his property, in view of a highway, without first searching through the formidable labyrinth of federal, state, and local regulations to determine whether or not he must obtain permission and, if so, from whom? This was the case with the EBTP members who innocently assumed that one could do what one wishes on one's own private property. Not so. The bureaucrats who threatened the property owners in our case cited section 5463:

"For the purpose of removing or destroying any advertising display placed in violation of this chapter, the director or the director's authorized agent may enter upon private property".

This means that government officials may storm onto private property and forcibly remove and destroy any sign that is viewable from any California highway if the offending sign is not in compliance with the latest set of regulations or the whim of "the director."

In case that isn't bad enough, the law indicates that the property owner will be billed for the removal and destruction of his sign and may be further penalized with a fine of $100 to $10,000, plus $100 per day for each day the sign remains after written notice of noncompliance is issued, plus enforcement costs and attorney's fees, plus forfeiture of any revenue that may have been collected as a result of the noncompliant sign, plus the owner may be charged with a misdemeanor.

The net result of all this is that an individual can incur significant financial penalties and be charged with a crime if he chooses to post a message on his own property without permission from "the director." What conceivable justification could exist for such an obscene, oppressive, and viciously immoral set of policies on the part of the California government? No speculation is needed. An attempt at justification is given here in section 5226:

"The regulation of advertising displays adjacent to any interstate highway or primary highway as provided in section 5405 is hereby declared to be necessary to promote the public safety, health, welfare, convenience and enjoyment of public travel, [...] . Outdoor advertising is an integral part of the business and marketing function, and an established segment of the national economy, and should be allowed to exist in business areas, subject to reasonable controls in the public interest."

There it is -- that magic phrase that has been used to justify the spilling of rivers of blood and the destruction of hundreds of millions of lives over the past century alone -- the public interest. It has been given many names over the centuries: the tribe, the proletariat, das Volk, the race, the church, the needy, the underserved, but what is the nature of this collective, and what makes it worthy of human sacrifice?

The fact is that there is no such entity as "the public" or any subset thereof. Any group is merely a collection of individuals and as such has no rights above and apart from those of the individuals in this group. If a group did claim such "rights," this would lead to an inevitable contradiction, since it would necessarily usurp the rights of some or all of the group's constituents, thereby destroying the very concept of rights -- there can be no "right" to violate the rights of others.

Someone ought to explain this to "the director" and to those who have unjustly given him the power to capriciously destroy the property and the lives of sovereign individuals who rightly express their disdain for him and that which makes him possible: a leviathan that has long since exceeded its justifiable role as a protector of individual rights and has instead become their destroyer.


Is copyright protection excessive?

We would all be better off if it lasted only for a few years, at most

He has been called the “immortal god of harmony,” “the beginning and end of all music,” “the supreme genius of music…who knows everything and feels everything,” and “a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity.” Yet he behaved like any unauthorized music sampler, mash-up artist, or file-sharing college student. He recirculated other people’s music—sometimes with attribution, sometimes not—with often minor changes. He cribbed material, borrowed music to plug gaps in his work, and reused his own creations with an abandon that would shame a freelancer for Demand Media.

This punkish intellectual property scofflaw was Johann Sebastian Bach, master of the baroque style, spiritual father of modern Western music, literal father of a family of musicians, and inspiration to working creators everywhere. He was also —maybe not coincidentally—a serial user of other people’s work. According to one legend, as a child Bach would jailbreak and copy music his family had locked away. Later, he came into his own as a composer in part by taking a large body of work by Antonio Vivaldi and transposing it for the keyboard.

He was even more aggressive in cannibalizing his own output. Music for the funeral of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen turns up later in The St. Matthew Passion. All six parts of the The Christmas Oratorio are retreads from a secular work Bach had written on commission for the Saxon court. Bach’s Mass in B Minor, described by one 19th-century musician as “The Greatest Artwork of All Times and All People,” is almost entirely recycled. “Almost movement by movement you can trace the Mass in B Minor to earlier work,” says Daniel R. Melamed, professor of music at the University of Indiana. “Bach was not captive to his own material.”

How was he making money on this output? How can a creative work have value in an environment without any intellectual property protection?

A new study by a German economic historian hints at an answer. In his two-volume History and Nature of Copyright, Eckhard Höffner compares and contrasts the industrial-age economic histories of Britain (which provided copyright protection beginning with the 1710 Statute of Anne) and the 39 German states (where a uniform copyright code was impossible to enforce across a loose federation).

Höffner’s discovery: German writers produced more books and made more money than their English counterparts. Through the middle of the 19th century, the German book market produced and sold roughly five times as many books as the British. The advantage was interrupted only by the Napoleonic occupation, and it did not end permanently until after 1848, when Germany began to enforce consistent copyright rules.

Höffner received a cool-to-negative American reception for his claim that Germany’s piratical publishing free-for-all contributed to faster GDP growth during the period. But his numbers on the book business remain compelling. In Britain, books cost about a week’s pay for a working person. In copyright-free Germany, the price was about half a day’s pay.

Yet payments to authors were more generous in Germany than in Britain, with British authors typically surrendering all rights to a publishing house and seeing little in commissions, sales of rights, or profit sharing. German writers got much higher up-front payouts and earned enough to live in middle-class comfort. Self-publishing, which existed only in subscription form in Britain, thrived in Germany. A system that pleased both creators and consumers: How was it possible?

It helps to be happy in your work. Bach was not as entrepreneurial as his friend Georg Philipp Telemann—a publisher of his own music and precursor of the independent musician/composer—but he augmented his late-feudal stipends with moonlighting, teaching jobs, freelance performing, and similar small-time hustles. “Most of the music Bach writes he composes for various duties,” Melamed says. “Often writing a piece is the easiest way to get exactly what he needs.”

Bach had an incentive to keep producing new crowd pleasers. Maybe he suffered from a lack of intellectual property protection. One of the challenges in building the Bach catalog was sorting out all the copycats, transposers, and claimants to his throne. But in his own career, he seemed to see himself as a beneficiary of the freedom to appropriate. The result was infinitely adaptable music. Spend 10 minutes on YouTube, and you will find synth-popsters still working in the Switched on Bach genre that began in the early days of electronica, Celtic singers doing airy covers of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” sub-Malmsteens turning Invention No. 13 or Toccata & Fugue in D Minor into speed metal, “Air on the G String” played on a saw.

Genius is always an outlier, but the long half-life of baroque oldies suggests something else about the life-giving powers of the public domain. America’s culture is dotted with gems like It’s a Wonderful Life and Night of the Living Dead, works that grew famous when they fell out of I.P. protection and became free fodder to distributors. Maybe these movies were so great they’d have risen to the top in any market. (I’m inclined to believe it about Night of the Living Dead.) Maybe Bach would be with us under any circumstances. But history suggests otherwise.

Bach was considered rustic and backward at the time of his death, and only his keyboard works remained in wide circulation, for their instructional value. His widow and sons, however, worked hard to disseminate his music, occasionally selling manuscripts but mainly trying to keep the work in front of an audience. Building the father’s reputation was good for the family business. It remained good business long after Bach’s 19th-century rediscovery, even after Bach’s line of direct heirs went cold. Leipzig merchants still do solid business on Bach tourism.

It’s worth remembering in our own time of blessed disunion, as copyright protection legally extends nearly a century after an author’s death but the interwebs make copyright difficult to protect. A creator—musical god or Blingee artist—needs fans. But fans lose interest if the barriers to entry are too high. In an interview with Heise magazine, Höffner explains that reduced-price back issues sold well in all the markets he looked at—“but only if there was still someone who moved the book. For most books, readers’ interest had waned.”



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


No comments: