Working for the tax man, UK edition

May 28, 2010

The British TaxPayer’s Alliance has posted a good video illustrating how long a typical UK resident has to work during the average day before starting to earn money for himself. It may not be America, but, pay attention; Obama and his allies want to put us on the same path.

(via Dan Mitchell)

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UK election news

April 19, 2010

Britain has called a general election for a new Parliament, to be held on May 6th. Looking at today’s Telegraph, I came across what appears to be Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s main argument for giving Labour a new majority: “the Tories will screw things up worse than we have.

Gordon Brown says Conservative election victory would threaten economy

The Prime Minister told a London news conference David Cameron’s ”big society means big cuts in public services.

”It’s a risk for our mainstream public services that Britain cannot afford to take.”

Mr Brown was attempting to shift the election spotlight away from Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s recent poll successes and back on the substantive issues like the economy.

He said Labour was in the ”futures business” with bold and ambitious plans for the country, while the Tories were in the ”risk business”.

Given Labour’s track record of fiscal screw ups and their pursuit of “Green” policies that will leave Britain in the dark, it looks like the only real risk is leaving them in power.

Then again, the Conservatives under Cameron don’t seem all that different from Labour, these days. They’re certainly not Thatcherites.

What’s truly surprised me is the strength of Britain’s main third-party, the Liberal Democrats. Formed from a merger of the old Liberal Party and the Social Democrats, I don’t believe it’s ever been the official Opposition(1), the number two party in Parliament, let alone formed a government. But the polls show they’re currently in second place and perhaps have momentum. Could they wind up forming the government? Part of a coalition with Labour? The party is a strong believer in individual liberty in the tradition of John Stuart Mill, but their commitment to social liberalism with its inherent high taxes and extensive welfare state seem at odds with this.

And again I ask, given Labour’s track record, the Conservatives’ promise to not change too much, and the Lib-Dems’ official support of an expensive welfare state, is there really all that much daylight between the three? And, if there isn’t, will the dissatisfied vote for the fascist BNP in significant numbers?

(1)The article refers to the old Liberal-Social Democrat alliance polling ahead of Labour in the 1983 general election, in which the Conservatives won a crushing majority, but Britain’s “first past the post” system gave Labour the second-highest number of seats.


Smart Power: How to lose friends and influence no one

March 28, 2010

In the nearly 15 months since Barack Obama was inaugurated as President and Hillary Clinton installed as his Secretary of State, our Smart Power team has done something I thought impossible: make me yearn for the days of Jimmy Carter as a model of a strong and effective foreign policy. Consider three recent items:

First, he has managed to do almost certainly fatal damage to our “special relationship” with Great Britain, an alliance forged between FDR and Winston Churchill in crucible of the Second World War. After that, the two nations cooperated closely in the Cold War against Soviet communist aggression, operating hand-in-glove whether the governments in Washington and London were Democrat or Republican, Labour or Conservative. In the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the welcome death of the USSR, America and Britain have continued to work together, even to the point war.

No more. The special relationship is dead, and Obama and Clinton own the corpse:

BRITAIN’S special relationship with the US — forged by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the second world war — no longer exists, says a committee of influential MPs.

Instead, America’s relationship with Britain is no more special than with its other main allies, according to a report by the Commons foreign affairs committee published today.

The report also warns that the perception of the UK after the Iraq war as America’s “subservient poodle” has been highly damaging to Britain’s reputation and interests around the world. The MPs conclude that British prime ministers have to learn to be less deferential to US presidents and be “willing to say no” to America.

Gosh, I’m not sure why they would conclude that, after the respect Obama has shown for the UK, such as returning a bust of Churchill loaned by London as a show of solidarity after 9/11, or insulting Prime Minister Brown and the Queen with gifts from the Wal-Mart bargain bin. I mean, why should they be bothered by his failure to acknowledge the sacrifice made by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, or other acts of deliberate rudeness? And why should Whitehall care that Secretary Clinton is willing to negotiate the status of sovereign British territory? Nial Gardiner implores Conservative leader David Cameron to do all he can to preserve the relationship, but, really, what is Britain to do when Obama repeatedly spits in her eye?

Special Relationship, we hardly knew ye.

Then we come to something just appalling. Regardless of what one thinks of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel is a close ally of the United States, until recently the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, and certainly one of the most humane and ethical nations on the planet. Thus for the President of the United States to treat the Prime Minister of Israel as a recalcitrant child beggars belief:

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

Translation: Obama says to Netanyahu, “You just think about that young man, and you’d better have a different answer when I get back, or there will be no TV for you!” It reminds one of the rumors of his bizarre behavior in Copenhagen and calls into question his vaunted judgment and even his maturity. Israel is a key ally in our war with jihadist Islam and for the furtherance of Western interests in the region, in general. And yet, time and again, Obama and Clinton have gone out of their way to turn minor incidents into causes celebres requiring the public pillorying of Israel and to put it on the same moral level as the despotisms that surround it. (More at Legal Insurrection, Fausta’s blog, Hot Air, the Telegraph, Contentions, and The Jawa Report)

This is “smart power?”  Raised Eyebrow

Finally, what can be said but Russia skunked us?

Face it. The only conclusion one can draw from these and other blunders is that we are lead by callow and incompetent (and even delusional) leaders. Their conduct of American foreign policy has been a disgrace.

The only question is whether this mangling of American interests is unwitting or the fruit of deliberate choice.

You can guess my answer.  Doh

ADDENDUM: At least Obama and Clinton have created a bipartisan consensus on their policy toward Israel – both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats hate it.


Obama’s top-ten insults against Britain – updated!

March 2, 2010

More than a few have noticed President Obama’s odd disdain for Great Britain and the thinly-veiled ways he and his aides have expressed contempt for one of our closest allies. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed in the UK, either. The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner has written scathing columns about Obama’s slaps in Britain’s face, and in today’s article he compiles his list of the top ten:

5. Refusal to recognize Britain’s sacrifice in Afghanistan

It is particularly galling that the president cannot even be bothered to acknowledge the sacrifice made by over 250 British servicemen and women on the battlefields of Afghanistan alongside their American allies – especially evident during his lacklustre speech at West Point in December. Britain currently has as many soldiers stationed in Afghanistan – 10,000 – as all the other major European powers combined. In contrast to George W. Bush, who frequently thanked the British armed forces and people for their role in the War on Terror, Obama has spectacularly failed to do so.

Be sure to read the rest.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t one of Obama’s campaign promises to restore our standing in the world? He has a funny way of going about it.

UPDATE: And just like that, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decides to get in on the act during a visit to Buenos Aires, insulting Britain by effectively siding with Argentina’s attempts to seize British territory:

QUESTION: (In Spanish)
Interpreter: The journalist was just asking how the U.S. intends to negotiate to get the United Kingdom to sit at the table and address the Malvinas issue.

SECRETARY CLINTON: As to the first point, we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.

Seems superficially reasonable doesn’t it? Just get everyone together to talk and perhaps compromise? Bull. There is no compromising here.  Britain has possessed the Falklands for nearly 180 years, the residents are British, think of themselves as British, and expect to remain British – as they have every right to do. The Falklands are a part of Britain no less than Jersey and Guernsey. Put it this way: this is no different than if the US reopened the Oregon boundary dispute and demanded the “return” of Vancouver Island from Canada, and then Britain, Canada’s ally, said “sure, let’s talk,” pressuring Canada to discuss what would be, in essence, acquiescence to territorial conquest.

And this was the woman who promised during the last campaign to bring “smart power” to our foreign relations? Keep this up and she’ll need more than a reset button to fix our relations with Britain. (More at Hot Air)

LINKS: More at Sister Toldjah.


Obama as a world leader: not even Bush-league

January 22, 2010

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. From across the Atlantic, Nile Gardiner considers Obama’s record so far as a world leader and gives us 10 reasons why he’s no George W. Bush:

When it took office a year ago, the Obama administration boasted of a new strategy of “smart power”, designed to restore America’s “standing” in the world. In essence this new approach to foreign policy was designed to distance the new US government in every way possible from the Bush administration, supposedly hated in every corner of the earth, from Berlin to Buenos Aires.

Hence, the hallmarks of Obama’s foreign policy have been the naive engagement of an array of odious dictatorial regimes, grovelling apologies before foreign audiences, lamb-like timidity in the face of intimidation, the ending of the War on Terror, and the trashing of traditional alliances. But has this liberal foreign affairs revolution succeeded in advancing American interests and security across the globe? Hardly. Under Obama’s leadership the United States now appears significantly weaker and far more vulnerable, faced with an array of deadly threats that grow more menacing by the day.

When President Bush was in power he may not have been hugely popular abroad, but the United States was widely feared on the world stage, her enemies were hunted to the ends of the earth, and her real allies were treated with respect. As Barack Obama is discovering to his cost, the world stage is not an extension of the set of American Idol, and global leadership is not about winning popularity contests. The doctrine of “smart power” looks increasingly like an empty shell, a naive approach that has reaped no dividends and threatens to usher in an era of American decline, unless it is reversed.

But what do you really think, Nile?

I’ll let you read his list; suffice it to say I agree with them all to one degree or another. Put simply, Barack Obama has so far been the weakest American president on the international stage since Jimmy Carter, and I fear his administration’s ineptitude has left this nation one crisis away from a disaster. Some even argue that Obama and the left-liberals have chosen a policy of deliberate American decline. I’m inclined to agree. (Behind that link is a brilliant article by Charles Krauthammer, by the way. Read it.)

Back to Mr. Gardiner’s list, I’ll leave you with one that especially struck me as true:

5. Bush believed in the Special Relationship

I don’t recall George W Bush ever throwing a bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office or giving the British Prime Minister an insulting pack of DVDs. President Bush recognized Great Britain as America’s closest friend and ally, and placed the Special Relationship at the very heart of US foreign policy. Under Obama, the Anglo-American alliance has reached its lowest point since the Suez Crisis of 1956, a damning indictment of his world leadership. Bush possessed a genuine affection for the British people, their great heritage and their role in the world. Barack Obama cannot even bring himself to mention Britain in a major policy address or acknowledge the sacrifice of British forces in Afghanistan.

Britain isn’t the only ally to get a cold shoulder from Obama: Israel, the Czech Republic, and Poland, among others, all have sad tales to tell. But his treatment of the UK seems especially petty and personal, a sign of immaturity. The guiding principle of his foreign policy is a perverse form of appeasement: “hug your enemies, slap your friends.”

For all his faults, President Bush at least never made that mistake.


Busy, busy…

January 11, 2010

Sorry for the lack of posts this last weekend, but it was hectic … and today looks no different. Hopefully, normal service can resume later today. Meanwhile, here are a couple of items to hold you over:

Power Line wonders if Great Britain is doomed. After all, in what sane country can a mother alone with her toddler be threatened with criminal charges for defending herself and her child against burglars and thieves? Oh, and then there’s that bit about home-grown jihadis plotting to kidnap and behead a British soldier. Not directly related, of course, but indicative of serious problems nonetheless.

Meanwhile, as global-warming alarmists assure us we’re all going to bake and broil, Fausta declares that the Ice Age is back.

See ya later!


Global Warming ravages Great Britain!

January 7, 2010

Who are you going to believe? Al Gore, winner of a Nobel Prize, or your lying eyes?