Friday, July 20, 2007

Beer O’Clock: The Best Day of the Year

Your Beer O'Clock comes to you this week from the SOBA Neil Miller of Real Beer and beyond. . .

July 21 is the best day of the year. No question. That sacred date is the national day of Belgium - the 176th anniversary of the coronation of Belgium’s first monarch, King Leopold I.

Personally, I celebrate Nationale Feestdag many, many times with some of the finest ales known to humanity accompanied by lashing of tasty beer cuisine because Belgium is undoubtedly the world’s most interesting beer nation. That in a nutshell is why this is the best day of the year.

While some struggle to associate the concept of “interesting” with the country which writer Tim Webb called “the historically fascinating and endearingly daft little kingdom at the heart of Europe,” the simple fact is that Belgium has the largest range of beer styles in the world and its products are highly and deservedly revered.

When the Belgians call their nation of 10 million people “the paradise of beers” it is not marketing hyperbole. Their 120 breweries use traditional craft techniques to produce beers of exceptional quality from centuries-old brewing recipes.

For this Beer O’Clock I recommend every reader try a real Belgian beer (no Virginia, Stella doesn’t count), preferably one you have never been brave enough to try before. The Belgian Beer Cafes are a great place to start.

Belgian cuisine is also renowned for cooking with beer and for their extensive use of fresh seafood and quality game. The consummate food accompaniment for beer in Belgium is mussels, fries and mayonnaise (moules frites). I’d recommend mussels steamed in either lobster broth or wheat beer, but if the mussels are fresh then it's all good.

If the sheer quality of their beer is not enough for you to raise a glass to the endearing and enduring Kingdom of Belgium, this alone is reason enough: Charles de Gaulle once said that “Belgium is a country invented by the British to annoy the French.”

Op uw gezonheid!

Neil.

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Al Qaeda's Iraq leader nabbed

From the Announcements-you-won't-hear-from-Helen-Clark file, (and let's face it, you're unlikely to hear it from what passes for a news department at either TVNZ or TV3):
BAGHDAD, July 18, 2007: The U.S. command said Wednesday the highest ranking Iraqi in the leadership of Al Qaeda in Iraq has been arrested, adding that information from him indicates the group's foreign-based leadership wields considerable influence over the Iraqi chapter. [Hat tip Jameson]
News? Why do you think this should be news?

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How to take the high ball

It sure took long enough, but it looks like All Blacks co-coach Wayne Smith (that's him under the padding) has finally realised that if he wants his rugby players to take a contested ball over their head successfully, they need to adopt the style used by AFL players [hat tip AB].

Mils Muliana (left) and Gary Ablett (right) show how it's done. Let's hope it works for the ABs tomorrow night.

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Best pub

Last night I visited New Zealand's best pub for a drink. That's not just my opinion - it's the decision of the judges in the NZ Bar Awards, who awarded Galbraith's in Mt Eden Rd the award of "country's best pub." I felt obliged to pour a libation or three in their honour.

"Best Bar Team" was declared to be Clooney's, in Auckland, another opinion I'd wholeheartedly endorse: those bartenders make the best genuine cocktails I've had the pleasure to sample. Given the judges' clearly superior opinions then, I'm looking forward to visiting the "Best Bar," the Matterhorn in Cuba St, Wellington, when I'm down there for the Libertarianz conference - if that is we can tear ourselves away from the Mac's Brewhouse where the conference is being held.

Read the complete list of Bar Awards winners here.

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The Geographer


Vermeer, The Geographer. A man of the mind, portrayed with light-filled clarity.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scum ahoy

There are few human beings more vile than apologists for evil. One such is about to visit New Zealand: Saddamite George Galloway, the "honourable member for Baghdad Central," a recipient for many years of Saddam's money and of Soviet money; a man for whom the demise of the Soviet Union was, he said, "the biggest catastrophe of my life," and who is on record as saluting Saddam's "courage" "strength" and "indefatigability"; a man happy to hang out with with the murderer, rapist and torturer Uday Hussein; a man who, as you would expect with these credentials, has attracted the Green Party's Keith Locke in vigorous support. [ref: Liberty Scott]

No surprises there. Keith has no shame. As you might recall, back in April 1975 he was a supporter of Pol Pot. And After September 11, as many of you will also recall Keith Locke hosted Annette Sykes in a series of meetings around the country, in one of which while Keith sat there smiling and nodding his head in agreement, Sykes told the audience (as transcribed by a member of that audience):
When I first saw the planes fly into the towers I jumped for joy, I was so happy that at long last capitalism was under attack. Until, it suddenly dawned on me, what about all those poor pizza delivery boys, those poor firemen, those poor policemen, those poor lift-operators, all those poor cleaners, all those other poor workers who are forced to work for and were trying to save those greedy and horrible capitalists!? My heart and head was so confused - happy that some capitalists had been killed and very, very sad for all those who had died while working for them.
Keith neither challenged nor questioned Sykes’s rant; instead he sat there and smiled and nodded and then led the applause when she finished. Nice chap. I expect him to smile and nod his head all the way through Galloway's apologia for totalitarian evil. If you're judged by the company you keep, both Locke and Galloway are guilty.

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What will it take for RMA anger to result in REAL change?

NBR: Rural dissatisfaction with the RMA widespread.
Federated Farmers is calling for fundamental changes to the Resource Management Act based on the findings of an independent survey of 900 farmers.

The survey results, released at the federation's national conference, showed that only 3 percent of farmers who had had some experience of the RMA were happy with it.

More than 70 percent want changes to the Act and how local councils apply it.
Sheesh, more than fifteen years since the damned thing was introduced and millions of dollars squandered on and by the damned thing, and case after case of destruction of property rights and enterprise caused directly by the damned thing, and still all they're after is "CHANGES" to the bloody thing! Unbelievable.

"Changes"? Just what does it take to get productive people sufficiently incensed to call for a stake through the heart of the bloody thing [pdf] ?!

As the saying goes, when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know that your culture is doomed. This is a "culture" made all-too stultifying law by the RMA. It's not time for "change", it's time for the RMA to be consigned to the flames and common law protection of property rights implemented in its stead.

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Cullen changing "price stability" target may be all talk, but may not be all bad

I'm bemused to see suggestions from finance minister Michael Cullen that he is considering amending the Reserve Bank Act so that the focus is on something (anything) other than "price stability." On the face of it removing the focus on "price stability" would be a good thing for a number of reasons (most of which I've canvassed here before), but since no change proposed will result in removing the politicisation of the currency (which it should), whether it is a good move at all depends fundamentally on what the target changes to, and whether or not this is simply another attempt to talk down the currency.

Something certainly has to be done, and urgently -- as US economist Steve Hanke says, "by having a free, floating exchange rate combined with inflation targeting" "the New Zealand economy is on a death spiral" -- and removing the Reserve Bank's legislatively constrained myopic focus on "price stability" would be prime amongst things that should be done, but given the circling of monetary cranks around the rotting corpse of the Reserve Bank Stabilisation Act, I have little confidence in where such a change might end up.

The fact that Bill English is opposed (and solely it seems for the reason that, to paraphrase him in this morning's Herald, "this is how we've always done things") is perhaps good reason however to give it serious consideration, since Billy Boy is almost a beacon for the wrong side of every issue.

Let me just explain briefly why I've placed the words "price stability" in inverted commas above, and my answer to that will help explain why, on the face of it at least, removing this as a target for the Reserve Bank governor would be a good thing. As Frank Shostak explains, "the policy of "price stability" always leads to more instability." That may seem incongruous, but only if you fail to see how prices (plural) are formed. It's true that monetary inflation (that is, the Reserve Bank printing too much money) is the primary cause of inflation of prices, but it's not true that every change in prices is due to such monetary legerdemain; when prices need to fall or to rise for reasons other than monetary reasons -- when say a technological change makes a product line cheaper, or when supply and demand factors make a line of goods or services more expensive -- then mandating price stability puts an artificial constraint on markets, constraints that will and do lead to malinvestments and severe dislocations, just as we're seeing, and with our small currency it leads too to serious foreign exchange problems.

An article in the latest Free Radical explains this apparent paradox of how "price stability" leads instead to instability; says M.A. Abrams, it comes about through a complete misunderstanding of the nature of monetary inflation:
In an economically progressive community (that is, one where the real costs
of production per unit are falling and output per head is increasing), any
additions to the supply of money in order to prevent falling prices will be
hidden inflation; and in a retrogressive community, (that is, one where output
per head is diminishing and real costs of production are rising), any
contraction of the supply of money in order to prevent rising prices will be
hidden deflation. Inflation and deflation can occur just as well behind a stable
price level as when the price level is rising and falling
...

Thus, in the case where [economic progress] due to increased saving is
corrected by additional money for consumers, the result is to prevent any
[increase in the efficiency] of production; and where a fall in prices due to
improved knowledge is corrected by additional money, the result is to force a
transition to less [efficient] methods. In both cases the fruits of
progress are rejected because of a determination to keep prices stable
.
Moreover, in both cases the correction of the attempted advances has involved
the abandonment of some of the higher stages of production where certainly some
of the factors used are highly specialized and these will therefore become
unemployed as a result of the transition.
It's time to cut the Reserve Bank Stabilisation Act loose. That's one thing that could be done immediately. But cutting it loose should not be used to politicise the currency in another way. That would be a remedy worse than the malady from which we're presently suffering.

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There's trouble at Vector

I confess that with all the vituperation, defamation and jail time for defamation flying around on the issue of Michael Stiassny and his time at the helm of the troubled Vector, I haven't really got to grips with what it's all about, and why exactly Vince Siemer deserves jail time for defamation by website.

Garth George seems to give the beginnings of some background in this morning's Herald on Stiassny's role in the increasingly dysfunctional Vector Energy, but if anyone can throw some light on this (succinctly) I'd be grateful. If you post any info in the comments section that looks reasonable I'll post it here as an update.

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Great Wave - Hokusai


Probably the most well known Japanese woodblock print. The balanced asymmetry and simplicity of the composition was to have a profound effect on western art.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

REMINDER: PUBLIC ADDRESS TONIGHT - 'The Path to Independence'

The problems of adolescence litter the headlines. Many of these issues stem from early childhood. What can you do now to help your children become self-motivated, independent, and inspired with a lifelong love of learning?

These are questions asked and answered by educators who follow in the inspirational footsteps of Dr Maria Montessori, and a leading Montessori educator will be in Auckland this week speaking on 'The Path to Independence' on behalf of the Maria Montessori Education Foundation (NZ).

The Maria Montessori Education Foundation sprang from Sydney’s International
Montessori Congress
two years ago when 1200 Montessorians gathered under the Congress's theme: to 'Champion the Cause of All Children,' igniting a spark for a group of local Montessorians, resulting in their formation of the Maria Montessori Education Foundation (MMEF), a charitable trust, to establish quality AMI Montessori training in New
Zealand.

Their first AMI teacher-training course begins in February and the trainer for that course is Cheryl Ferreira, a leading Montessori trainer from London's Maria Montessori Institute, who will be speaking in Auckland Wednesday night and Warkworth Monday night on ‘The Path to Independence.’

You're all invited.

Says MMEF trustee Carol Potts, ”This public address is for all those who genuinely believe in the enormous potential of the young child. The Montessori philosophy of education - now celebrating its centenary year - offers much more than a philosophy of education: It is an essential aid to life. Come along and be inspired!”

CHERYL FERREIRA WILL BE SPEAKING AT:
  • The Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Silver Street, Epsom, 7pm, Wednesday 18th July. Only $20 with a complimentary glass of wine, tea or coffee. Call 623 8111 to book.
  • Warkworth Primary School Hall, Hill Street, Warkworth, 7:30pm, Monday 23rd July.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about the internationally recognised AMI 3-6 Diploma course in New Zealand visit www.MMEF.Co.NZ, and MMEFNZ.Blogspot.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about Cheryl's visit, or to book an interview, please email mmef@ihug.co.nz, or ring Carol Potts on 021 111 4133.

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Two mayors for two cities

Blair promotes two mayoral candidates for two of the world's great cities, both of whom piss all over their incumbents:
  • For the Auckland mayoralty he's a fan of Steve Crow, and at fourteen percent Crow's in with a chance, (which with a "transmogrified" John Banks at fifty-five percent is more than you can say for Mother Hubbard). If I deigned to vote in such things then the pornographer (who told the Herald a while back that he's a libertarian,)would be my pick ahead of the two puritans.
  • And in London, plummy-voiced nincompoop Boris Johnson is running for the job of mayor of Greater London against Ken Livingston. Says Liberty Scott of the loopy Tory toff, "I have no idea what Boris would bring, other than a healthy dose of skepticism about Nanny State... I want a few things from a Johnson mayoralty, but what it boils down to is less government, less spending and more accountability." A Johnson mayoralty would be good for both London and the House of Commons: he can't be a worse mayor than Red Ken (Hugo Chavez wouldn't be any worse), and removing Johson from the vicinity of any nukes would make the world a safer place.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Celibacy begins at Rome ... or not.

Sings Lou Reed on his New York album: "You can't depend on any churches, unless there's real estate that you want to buy..." Lou was wrong. There's one other thing it seems you can depend on the churches for. Read: Los Angeles Roman Catholic Diocese Settles Huge Sex Abuse Case.

Don't expect to see much about this news on conservative blogs.

Meanwhile, here's Robert Ingersoll:
There was a time in Europe when the Catholic Church had power, and I want it distinctly understood with this jury, that while I am opposed to Catholicism I am not opposed to Catholics -- while I am opposed to Presbyterianism I am not opposed to Presbyterians. I do not fight people -- I fight ideas, I fight principles, and I never go into personalities. As I said, I do not hate Presbyterians, but Presbyterianism -- that is, I am opposed to their doctrine. I do not hate a man that has the rheumatism -- I hate the rheumatism when it has a man. So I attack certain principles because I think they are wrong, but I always want it understood that I have nothing against persons -- nothing against victims.

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Bastards beaten back ... temporarily

A small victory for common sense in the defeat for the Therapeutic Products & Medicines Bill, with Annette King admitting this morning that she just hasn't got the numbers to have this passed. It looks too like a victory for MMP: showing just how difficult it is for any government to pass anything through an all-but-hung parliament. A point perhaps in MMP's favour.

Sadly however, the political opposition to the bill hasn't been based on the stupidity of regulating what doesn't need regulation -- the vitamins and supplements whose use 2.5 million New Zealanders enjoy -- but instead on a xenophobic opposition to an Australian regulatory body. Consequently, the time looks ripe for many of those opponents to sign up to a Bill setting up a local regulatory body with the same overbearing powers as those proposed in the defeated bill.

So as far as small manufacturers are concerned then, this isn't a victory so much as a temporary beating back of the bastards.

UPDATE: Russell Brown mentions Pippa Mackay arguing that this is bad news, especially for "what this means for the approval of all new medicines: longer delays as Medsafe, which had been anticipating the joint trans-Tasman regulator, struggles to keep up, higher costs, and fewer new medicines approved."

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'Terror' title a tactical failure

Readers interested in Ayn Rand and Objectivism will find good reading in the Jerusalem Post: two articles on Ayn Rand and on the Ayn Rand Institute's head Yaron Brook.

See The Nexus, and You Don't Fight a Tactic, from which comes this excerpt:
Brook has lectured at numerous US college campuses, often under tight security, appeared numerous times on Fox and CNBC, and is emerging as one of the most outspoken voices when it comes to the "War on Terror," a title, Brook says, that already dooms the West to failure.

"You don't fight a tactic," he said in his talk. "Terrorism is a tactic, and I believe we have to look at the ideological source of terrorism in order to identify the true enemy." He defines this source as Islamic totalitarianism, which he describes as an expansionist philosophy that seeks to spread Islam by the sword, but he thinks that the enemy's identity has been blurred or ignored by government leaders and the intelligentsia.

"We don't have the guts, the courage, the self-esteem to even identify who the enemy is. We couch it in terms of terrorists who happen to be Muslims who are 'hijacking a great religion.' We're afraid to say 'Islamic anything': Islamic fascism, totalitarianism, whatever you want to call it." The fear stems, he said, from the academic trend of multiculturalism, in which all cultures are morally equal, and moral relativism, in which "anything goes" in human behavior.
But this isn't the most destructive idea to the cause of the West, he says. Read on to find out what receives that approbation.

UPDATE: Writing for Victoria University's Salient magazine, Lindsay Perigo focusses on the real enemy: 'Death to Islamofascism.'

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"Get born, keep warm...": Global warming with Bob.

[Pinched from Jameson] Rolling Stone magazine's 40th Anniversary edition is by all accounts a sentimental tribute to the hippy, full of interviews with icons from the era. Appropriate then that they sat down with the top two on their 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list: Bob Dylan, who came second only to the Beatles on their list, and Paul McCartney.

Bob’s influence on the magazine’s founder was not inconsiderable: Jann Wenner began his career as a music critic under the pseudonym Mr. Jones (taken from Dylan’s song 'Ballad of a Thin Man'), and named his magazine after Dylan’s 'Like a Rolling Stone', the song Rolling Stone ranked #1 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. So Wenner took the honour of interviewing Dylan himself and did his best to get him into the swing of the auspicious anniversary by asking him the no-brainer question about global warming … but things didn’t quite go according to plan ...

Wenner: What do you think of the historical moment we’re in today? We seem to be hell-bent on destruction. Do you worry about global warming?
Dylan: In what sense do you mean.
Wenner: Bob, come on.
Dylan: No, you come on. In what sense do you mean that?
Wenner: We seem to be hell-bent on destruction. Do you worry about global warming?
Dylan: Where’s the global warming? It’s freezing here.
Wenner: It seems a pretty frightening outlook.
Dylan: I think what you’re driving at, though, is we expect politicians to solve all our problems. I don’t expect politicians to solve anybody’s problems.
Wenner: Who is going to solve them?
Dylan: Our own selves. We’ve got to take the world by the horns and solve our own problems. The world owes us nothing, each and every one of us, the world owes us not one single thing. Politicians or whoever.

By contrast, Paul McArtney was just as wet as you'd expect.

RightWingBob has more on 'libertarian Bob', including an amusing note that Gore referenced Bob in his own Rolling Stone interview (just as wrongly as Wenner as it turns out), and the suggestion from John Berlau that growing celebrity scepticism might be a signal that "global warming hysteria has jumped the shark."
Dylan’s latest statement may signal that in the global warming debate, the times are changing. Even independent-minded celebrities are now questioning the establishment media orthodoxy that the debate over global warming and its effects are all but over. In a phrase familiar to those who study pop culture, it appears that the global warming scare may have “jumped the shark.”

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'The Wanderer' (excerpt), by John Masefield

. . . Therefore, go forth, companion: when you find
No highway more, no track, all being blind,
The way to go shall glimmer in the mind.
  Though you have conquered Earth and Charted Sea
And planned the courses of all Stars that be,
Adventure on, more wonders are in Thee.
  Adventure on, for from the littlest clue
Has come whatever worth man ever knew;
The next to lighten all men may be you . . .
JOHN MASEFIELD

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Another tool without a purpose

ICQ, AIM, Chat-this, Text-the-other, MySpace and now Facebook. Phew. One hundred different ways to get together online and ... what? Just what does one do with all these ways for strangers to get in touch with each other and waste your time? On this, Gonzo talks sense.
Facebook is an improvement on prior networking, in that people are more honest now than previously. All we have to do now is work out out what to do with it. From what I gather, social networking sites are great for teenagers to discuss angst, trade Vogon poetry and news of the latest Glassons sale. For the rest of us, it's a tool without purpose.
I'm inclined to agree.

Bastards Hone meets all the time

Calling John Howard a "racist bastard" was "an unfortunate diversion" says Lindsay Mitchell. If Hone Harawira had called John Howard "a statist bastard" instead, then "we might have had the real debate which is about how heavy-handed should a government be in tackling problems that exist throughout society but disproportionately among indigenous, poor communities."

It's a good point. As she says, "calling John Howard a racist was a complete waste of time and a unfortunate diversion from the harder question..."

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Moral Paralysis, Appeasement, and the Causes of War

Arguments continue over the expulsion of Objectivist history professor John Lewis from Ashland University (described in the Chronicle of Higher Education). Further details have now emerged about the expulsion at the FIRE website in 'Ashland University: Objectivists Need Not Appy,' saying "increasing restrictions on academic freedom could be the product of Ashland’s turn toward evangelicalism." Meanwhile Nick Provenzo suggests that with Lewis' sacking the "university has relegated itself to being little more than a Bible college for politically correct Republicans."

You might be curious about Lewis himself, a historian who in recent weeks has managed to get both religious neoconservatives and Islamic totalitarians in a lather. If so, the second of three excerpts from Lewis' forthcoming book "dealing with military history and its lessons for the modern day" which has appeared in the latest issue of the Objective Standard might be worth a peek: The Balm for a Guilty Conscience”: Moral Paralysis, Appeasement, and the Causes of World War II. Unfortunately, a peek is all you get because only the first few paragraphs available to you non-subscribers.

However, his first article “No Substitute for Victory” The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism is free to non-subscribers, is well worth reading (or re-reading) and it was summarised here in an earlier version delivered at a Boston presentation.

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Rational radio over breakfast

The wasteland of breakfast radio will be transformed from tomorrow by the departure of John Banks to fight a mayoral election and his replacement on Radio Pacific (for a month at least) by one Lindsay Perigo. It's not quite the rebirth of Radio Liberty, but there is at least one month of rational breakfast radio to look forward to.

You can check out Pacific's frequencies or listen online here.

Conrad Black goes down

Conrad Black, the former proprietor of the Daily Telegraph and the head of a media empire whose pension funds and shareholders' money he used like a personal cash machine has been convicted in an American court for fraud and the obstruction of justice: in other words, for being the neoconservative equivalent of Robert Maxwell. Report here from his former flagship newspaper. With sentencing coming soon he faces years in jail.

Black (right) has committed other crimes for which he will unfortunately receive no jail time. One of these is the writing of a mammoth biography of Franklin Roosevelt in which he champions this virtual dictator and corrupter of capitalism as a Champion of Freedom. Such a crime deserves all the condemnation honest men can muster.

Roosevelt is a reliable litmus test of statism: as an unreconstructed apostle of big government, exuberant interventionism, voodoo economics, and state welfare used as an electoral club, anyone who calls himself an admirer can be seen immediately as a statist of the first water. "Lord" Black and his 1134-page apologia is no exception. Readers of The Free Radical can enjoy my own review of this monumental piece of trash in the current issue. As I say in the review,
This is a book that had to be written after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not because it relies on any new documentation released from Soviet vaults after that great event – in fact most of the documentation from that source simply confirms the depth of Soviet penetration of the Roosevelt administration -- but because one of the author’s major claims for bestowing the accolade of ‘Champion of Freedom’ upon one of the least likely historical candidates is that Franklin Roosevelt’s “skill and diplomacy” paved the way for that great event to happen.

That, dear readers, tells you as much about this hagiography as you really need to know. It is only one of many fatuous claims made in its gushing 1134 pages...
Why fatuous? Because as the review summarises, "Far from being a ‘champion of freedom,’ Roosevelt very nearly helped throttle it.":

  • Far from “solving the depression” as Black and countless others claim, the truth is that in 1932 when first elected there were 11,586,000 unemployed. In 1939, when Germany and Soviet Russia invaded Poland, there were 11,369,000. As Leonard Peikoff notes, “The [unemployment] problem was not solved until the excess manpower was sent to die on foreign battlefields.” And as Gene Smiley notes, the depression itself was not solved until after the war when private savings had built up sufficiently to finance a genuine recovery.
  • Roosevelt was indeed the “masterful” political operator that Black claims, but Black ignores the half of it: buying elections with Federal money; throwing registered Republicans off the relief rolls and out of the explosively-expanding bureaucracy; ensuring that the millions on unemployment relief voted FDR or not at all. He did help get rid of the corrupt political machines he found when first elected, it’s true, but only by flooding the country with a new, much vaster, and much more self-serving form of electoral corruption.
  • Roosevelt was the first American president to find and exploit the holes in the constitution in order to vastly expand both the power and the flatulent of big government with a menagerie of “alphabet agencies,” all but killing freedom in the process.
  • During Roosevelt’s occupation of the White House, the American government openly swarmed with known communists; Soviet documents released in 1995 confirm 329 Soviet agents were active in the Roosevelt administration, and at the very highest levels. As John T. Flynn points out, “Roosevelt not only permitted but actively encouraged the activities of the Communist conspiracy in the US. The gentlest comment one can make on this is that the man simply did not know what he was doing—a curious defence for one hailed as a master mind.”
  • He entered the war while promising to keep out of it, with the transparent ruse of actively inviting either a German or Japanese attack that would so outrage American public opinion that they would demand to be in it -- a strategy that on the “day of infamy” in Pearl Harbor worked all too successfully, and all too tragically.
  • He fought the war in the name of the ‘Four Freedoms’ – after which he delivered half of Europe into slavery.
  • He ‘won the war’ at a cost of over 418,000 American dead and a deficit of $280 billion, (which you can multiply by about 30 times to find the sum in today’s money). That you do need to multiply it is in part Roosevelt’s doing – most of that sum was financed through the printing press and too years of subsequent inflation to pay off. As John T. Flynn noted in 1955, “the interest alone on the public debt [created by the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations] is now over twice the total cost of government when Roosevelt denounced Hoover for extravagance” in that 1932 election.
  • Through his wartime alliance with Stalin – who began the war as Hitler’s ally, and who was the century’s undisputed “greatest” mass-murderer – and during which he sent the Soviets billions of dollars of military equipment and money, Roosevelt helped deliver 170,000,000 people into communism (to which figure you can add the 600,000,000 delivered into Chinese communism s an indirect result of Roosevelt’s bungling), and with the victims of Yalta helped send several millions of those directly to their deaths.
There is nothing about the Great Manipulator to admire, and Black's wholehearted admiration for this immoral cripple makes all too clear his own lack of moral compass.

The overwhelming sense when reading of Roosevelt is precisely this: one realizes in a crucial sense that he never ever was a “man of the world.” As Walter Lippmann observed so tellingly of Roosevelt after their first meeting, “He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President." That really is all that this soft-shelled cripple amounts to.

"[Seventy] years ago Europe's 'diplomacy' with Hitler encouraged him to start World War II.” Sixty years ago Roosevelt’s diplomacy with Stalin -- who Roosevelt pathetically thought he could charm -- delivered half of Europe into communism and began a Cold War that lasted forty-five years and nearly destroyed the world. Such is the creature that Lord Black of Crossharbour calls, non-ironically, a ‘champion of freedom’ for precisely those “achievements.” That perhaps says more about the biographer than anything else possibly could.

Readers of The Free Radical will already be enjoying the complete review of this disgraceful tome. You can subscribe to the print edition or buy a digital copy here.

UPDATE: Paul at Fundy Post wonders about something: "Black could go to jail for fifteen years for crimes in which he received 1.7 million Pounds. Is it just me or is Lord Black incredibly stupid? He already had millions, lots of them, but he squandered his businesses and his liberty for less than two million quid." The Independent has the answer: "He and Barbara Amiel were millionaires who wanted to live like billionaires."

And Derek de Cloet at Toronto's Globe and Mail points out something that Richard Nixon found out: "Sometimes it's not the crime that gets you, but the cover-up..."
Conrad Black and his associates spent years skimming money for themselves out of deals made by Hollinger International, once the world's third-largest newspaper empire. And of the crimes of which he was found guilty in Chicago yesterday, which one is most likely to put him in prison for the rest of his life? Obstruction of justice."
It seems that's easier to prove than the dishonesty itself. Meanwhile The Scotsman reports: "Friday, he was kicked out of the Conservative Party because of his conviction," stripped of the privilege of sitting in the House of Lords, and "Now his status as a lord could be in jeopardy."

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Let nature take its course?

Around 300 homes are reported to still await the reconnection of power after last week's storm ( a reminder to those who oppose every new power station project that generating power is a good thing), and no doubt discussion on storm damage will continue, as will argument over Helen Clark's craven suggestion that towns relocate. Owen McShane from the Climate Science Coalition offers an intelligent response to the storm and to Clark's politically motivated stupidity:
"Before we rush to forcibly relocate whole communities – especially if they are to be relocated against their will – we should take some time to consider alternative responses; especially ones which are less reminiscent of Louis XIV's extravagant exercises at Versailles" says McShane. He listed some suggested alternatives as follows:

First: Many of the knee jerk responses assume these storms and floods are due to man-made climate change and that they will get worse and more frequent. We should examine the evidence. Certainly the idea that rising sea levels will make matters worse is simply not proven, nor even likely, for most of New Zealand. While our planners look anxiously towards the sea the floods come down from the hills and rivers behind them.
Second: Maybe we should consider re-establishing the Drainage Boards in some way. Prior to the passing of the RMA these boards operated throughout rural New Zealand with only one objective – the proper management of catchment areas. They made sure the stop-banks were in place and the drains and waterways were kept clear. There is no longer anyone in local government with that single focus.
Third: Don't assume that we should always "allow nature to take its course." Many older councillors complain that when they raise the old drainage board issues about maintaining stop-banks and drainage channels the staff come back with reports saying "nature must take its course." Such a philosophy would not be well received in the Netherlands. If they were to let nature take its course the whole country would have to relocate to higher ground – and they simply haven't got any.
Fourth: People, communities and councils should be encouraged to regard this as an insurance issue. People at risk should be encouraged to negotiate directly with their insurers to see what steps they can take to reduce their risk of damage. For example it will normally prove cheaper to raise a house a few feet than to relocate either the whole dwelling or the resident family.
Fifth: Explore the technologies available for new dwellings. The Dutch are increasing their "habitable" areas dramatically by developing "floating houses" which rise and fall with flood water. The cellular concrete floors are buoyant and fixed in place by bronze rings over driven piles. Flexible connections to sewage etc allow the whole structure to "rise with the tide" and settle down as the floods drain away. New Orleans is looking into the many systems available. Read about these floating homes by clicking here. Rather than "letting nature take its course" the Dutch have decided "To go with the flow".Maybe we should too.
Sixth: People have always opted to live in flood plains or under volcanoes and most are able to make up their own minds regarding the costs and benefits and the risks. If someone wants to live in a hazardous area they should be allowed to contract with the council, and anyone else involved, to absolve all other parties of any liability which might arise from their decision. It's their risk and their choice. However, we should have no patience with those who build in such areas contrary to advise and then claim aid and charity when their house is destroyed. And we should not allow foolish siting to put other structures at risk.

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Only God can make a banana

"Behold, the atheists' nightmare": the banana - so perfectly made it tells us there must be a creator. "The whole of creation testifies to the genius of God's creation! It absolutely does!" says a surprisingly persuasive (to some) Ray Comfort. See Comfort and colleague present the arguments here at You Tube.

Behold the rebuttal, also at You Tube. Turns out the domestication of the banana plays a part. A large part. Other myths are also debunked. Einstein would approve.

Here's another cartoon from the fine chaps at Russell's Teapot [click to enlarge]:

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