Powerline is rightfully one of the most important conservative blogs in America, and is generally sharp and on point, so when the bloggers that run it get something spectacularly wrong, attention must be paid. First, some background about Britain.
A terrible problem in Britain right now is that there’s regular problems with keeping track of immigrants and crime. Here’s Theodore Dalrymple in the Summer of 2006 (Reading the whole article will give you a feel for how rotten the situation in Britain really is right now) [emphasis added]:
[T]he papers reported that 1,023 prisoners of foreign origin had been released from British prisons between 1999 and 2006 without having been deported. Among them were 5 killers, 7 kidnappers, 9 rapists and 39 other sex offenders, 4 arsonists, 41 burglars, 52 thieves, 93 robbers, and 204 drug offenders. Of the 1,023 prisoners, only 106 had since been traced. The Home Office, responsible for both prisons and immigration, still doesn’t know how many of the killers, arsonists, rapists, and kidnappers are at large; but it admits that most of them will never be found, at least until they are caught after committing another offense. Although these revelations forced the Home Secretary to resign, in fact the foreign criminals had been treated only as British criminals are treated. At least we can truly say that we do not discriminate in our leniency.
Scandal has followed scandal. A short time later, we learned that prisoners had been absconding from one open prison, Leyhill, at a rate of two a week for three years—323 in total since 1999, among them 22 murderers. This outrage came to light only when a senior policeman in the area of Leyhill told a member of Parliament that there had been a crime wave in the vicinity of the prison. The member of Parliament demanded the figures in the House of Commons; otherwise they would have remained secret.
Here’s Dalrymple again in Winter 2007 [emphasis added]:
Last week, the British government announced—because the opposition in Parliament forced it to announce—that 70 prisoners, including three murderers and an unspecified number of burglars, drug dealers, and holders of false passports, had escaped from a single minimum-security prison this year alone. Twenty-eight of them were still at large.
That so many of them absconded suggested that they were not quite the reformed characters that justified lower levels of security in the first place; but as usual in Britain, temporary embarrassment soon subsides into deep amnesia. The fact is that the whole episode is precisely what we have come to expect of our public administration and was nothing out of the ordinary.
The Labour government has treated crime in Britain rather like how Michael Dukakis treated it in Massachusetts: with appalling leniency. A theme is that when policemen have tried to go through normal channels to voice their concerns about crime, they get silenced; in desperation, they’ve been contacting their local Members of Parliament to get something done about crime. The Tories in opposition have rightfully been trying to figure out how bad the problems are so that they might be solved; that it might also bring down the Labour government, however, must also be understood.
Damian Green is the shadow immigration minister, and he was recently arrested for receiving sensitive documents relating to immigration and crime. It’s a passage worthy of George Orwell:
Mr Green, who is the shadow immigration minister, was arrested at his home in Kent by counter-terrorism police officers.
The arrest follows a series of leaks to the Conservatives about Government policy, including a sensitive memorandum from the Home Office’s most senior official on crime figures earlier this month.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, is said to be “extremely angry” about the arrest and has privately accused the Government of “Stalinesque” behaviour.
Mr Green is understood to have been arrested at lunchtime today and is still in custody. He has not been charged.
Green has been arrested after obtaining leaked Whitehall documents. Police searched his family home and his office in the House of Commons.
He was arrested for “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office”.
It is claimed that nine counter-terrorism officers were involved in the arrest.
How, exactly, is it “leaking” when a government bureaucrat sends information to an elected official? It’d be one thing if the bureaucrat was sending information to the press. But sending figures on crime to the shadow immigration minister, particularly when immigrants and crime are a hot topic? It sounds as though people are being prosecuted for trying to do their jobs, which in this case is public safety.
Enter Powerline’s John Hinderaker [emphasis in original]:
In England as here, the leaker styles himself a “whistleblower,” but that characterization hasn’t helped him:
An alleged “whistleblower”, thought to be a male Home Office official was arrested 10 days ago.
It gives me a certain satisfaction to see the words “whistleblower” and “arrested” in the same sentence. Still, I don’t think that all leakers should be punished with a prison term, just those who illegally leak classified information the publication of which will be helpful to our enemies.
It’s interesting to consider whether the British precedent could be a harbinger of things to come in this country. Once we have a Democratic administration in place, leaking will diminish considerably, since a large majority of federal bureaucrats are Democrats. But what if a Republican official should leak information damaging to the Obama administration? Will he be a courageous whistleblower, and will newspapers (or more likely, conservative web sites) that publish the information be awarded Pulitzers? Or will the laws relating to confidentiality suddenly be enforced, with the support of the liberal press, once the shoe is on the other foot?
It seems as though Mr. Hinderaker is mixing up two issues. In Britain, there does not appear to have been a leak to the press, but rather communication of actual statistics from a government agency to an elected official. It would be as if a bureaucrat in the Department of Homeland Security sent statistics to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the ranking minority member of the Committee of Homeland Security, and thus got both himself and Rep. King arrested. It’s not as though the bureaucrat was leaking to, say, Michelle Malkin. Further, the issues at stake here—how many criminal immigrants have been released rather than deported—are precisely the issues of public safety that should not fall under Britain’s Official Secrets Act and should be on public record.
Contrariwise, the situation in America has been serious leaks that would fall under the Official Secrets Act (if America had one, which it doesn’t). The New York Times has revealed the tactics that the CIA has used to find out what terrorists are up to; these issues never needed to be broadcasted, and in fact their publication has likely hurt America’s interest.
The real issue about Damian Green’s arrest is that in Britain, Gordon Brown’s government will harass anyone who attempts to get official statistics about crime. It’s a scandal, and it looks like Powerline botched its coverage of it.
Like it or not, the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States has done an immense amount to restore American prestige in the world. Not since the destruction of the Twin Towers has there been dancing in the streets anywhere on the planet to celebrate events in America. It is to be hoped, of course, that it is not the same people doing the dancing.[snip]
Does Obama think that foreign policy is the pursuit of interests or ideals, or that interests can be secured only by the forcible promotion of ideals? Does he understand that no power, be it ever so great, is sufficient to mold others into precisely the desired form? That Afghanistan will never be Denmark? To adapt slightly Marx’s dictum, countries can be changed, but not changed as others please: they are not putty in the fingers of workmen. Does the false analogy with postwar Germany and Japan, the great success stories of transformation brought about by war, have any place in his mind? We do not know. All we know is that he is like the traveler in Ireland who asks the local how to get to a certain destination and receives the reply, “If I were going there, I wouldn’t start from here.” When I looked at Obama shortly after the election, with his economic advisers behind him, I had a powerful sense of looking at a Politburo: gray-faced old men, tried and tested—which is not quite the same as successful, of course, except in the most careerist terms. [snip]
Britain has seen the Obama effect before. In 1997, a fresh-faced politician called Anthony Blair, promising the sun, the moon, and the stars, spoke with a passionate intensity that was somewhat lacking in detail and was elected to office in the land. His was a bright new dawn: a government that governed for the many not the few, as he put it, giving the country a fresh start after a long-lasting, decrepit, and exhausted government had been thoroughly discredited. Within a short time, this former unilateral-disarmer had proved himself the most belligerent and bellicose leader of Britain in recent times, willing to attack anyone as long as the victim couldn’t fight back. His protests at the corruption of the previous government soon seemed to be more at its trifling scale rather than its dishonesty. What had been but a cottage industry became wholesale looting, peculation, influence-peddling, and embezzlement, all under a careful cover of legality and deep public purpose. Nothing like it had been seen since the 18th century. Shady businessmen of every nationality (and none) were sure of a receptive ear (and purse). With freedom in his mouth, Prime Minister Blair created one new criminal offense a day for ten years and oversaw an unprecedented increase in bureaucratic control and official surveillance. Profligate with spending public funds to build an immense constituency of dependents, ranging from the near destitute to multimillionaires created by government contracts, he left a country—though of course not himself—on the brink of ruin. Speaking with evangelical fervor and giving every appearance of taking himself in, he behaved with a lack of scruple that left even cynics amazed and departed office the most reviled man in his nation’s recent history.
Tony Blair was the perfect politician for an age of short attention spans. What he said on one day had no necessary connection with what he said on the following day: and if someone pointed out the contradiction, he would use his favorite phrase, “It’s time to move on,” as if detecting contradictions in what he said were some kind of curious psychological symptom in the person detecting them.
Many have surmised that there was an essential flaw in Blair’s makeup that turned him gradually from the most popular to the most unpopular prime minister of recent history. The problem is to name that essential flaw. As a psychiatrist, I found this problem peculiarly irritating (bearing in mind that it is always highly speculative to make a diagnosis at a distance). But finally, a possible solution arrived in a flash of illumination. Blair suffered from a condition previously unknown to me: delusions of honesty.
I hope Dalrymple is being too pessimistic about Blair and Obama. . .
I hate it when journalists let lines drop that, with only a mild amount of investigation, could have proven much more interesting than the main story. The exhibit of the day is in this story about the president “pardoning” two turkeys (what were they guilty of?):
The lucky birds — one, the official Thanksgiving turkey, the other an alternate . . .
In case the official Thanksgiving turkey can’t fulfill its duties? Or dies? Or poses for Playboy? What’s the reason for having an alternate instead of just saying “We’ll ‘pardon’ two turkeys”?
Just to be safe, I will be pardoning a second bird — (laughter) — in the unlikely event the main act chickens out. (Laughter.)
Huh? What’s there to chicken out of? How can the official turkey fail to fulfill its duties? The answers to these questions are probably much more interesting than the pablum CNN has. I want to read about the official Thanksgiving turkey that died soon thereafter or who had a nasty run-in with a pheasant, or was mistakenly sent to the slaughterhouse anyhow.
Apollo posted this at 1:04 PM CDT on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 as Journalism
The thought of this gives me the heebee jeebees. I see it possibly going lots of places, and not one of them is good. If all it takes to justify cloning one is to answer the question, “Could they talk?” I don’t think the scientists have a proper respect for the revulsion that most people would feel at doing such a thing.
Though this story should blow the mind, I confess the only part that surprises me is that only one Pitzer professor is involved. Who’d have thought that when an oversensitive, preachy professor stole some Claremont kids’ Thanksgiving, it would be a University of Redlands professor? Pitzer must be slipping.
The end quote is precious. Anyone who is called “an assistant professor of race and ethnic studies” should be drug out into the street and forced to get a socially useful job.
The government is “investing” another $20 billion into Citibank. Obama says his “stimulus” package is up to $700 billion. This is on top of the $700 billion we’ve already sunk. Some guy on Fox yesterday said with a straight face that we’re looking at multiple years with deficits of more than $1 trillion.
A suggestion: Why not just have a bailout of $∞? That would probably shore up our financial system, and might get the economy firing on some additional cylinders. So long as we’re “borrowing” play money, why not do it for reals?
While I was on my way to school this morning, a fire truck started its siren just as I drove past the station. It was going my way, so I pulled over to let it pass, and so did everyone else on the road. Seeing this opportunity, a bum on crutches took off hobbling across the road, causing the fire engine to slam on its breaks and come to a stop to avoid hitting him.
A former Washington Post reporter, George Lardner, hits Eric Holder over his role in the Marc Rich pardon. After discussing the standards for a pardon, Lardner lowers the boom:
Mr. Holder never came close to meeting that standard. He had the last word at Justice on clemency petitions and he saw to it that he had the only word. He brokered one of the most unjustifiable pardons that an American president has ever granted.
Since Eric Holder is Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, it looks as though even the New York Times is starting to realize that Obama’s associating with a grim cast of characters. Will they start doing some serious digging? Well, we can hope.
A quick observation: every president, in picking his cabinet, nominates one turkey. Reagan had James Watt, Bush 41 had John Tower, Clinton had Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, Bush 43 had John O’Neill. Will Eric Holder be Obama’s turkey?
John Dingell is no longer the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It’s the end of an era. He was elected in a special election in 1955 (coincidentally, the year both of my parents were born). He became chairman in 1980 (coincidentally, the year I was born). For the next 14 years, Dingell made Energy and Commerce the most legislatively productive committee in Congress, producing 30% of the legislation at the time. The quip went that his committee had jurisdiction over “everything that moves, burns, or is sold.”
Although he introduced in each Congress a bill to socialize health care, he was hardly a down the line liberal. He was a long time member of the NRA board, and a skeptic of environmentalists. He managed to pass bills and beat the leadership of both parties on occasion. If I recall correctly, President Bush said upon meeting him that he was supposed to be the biggest pain in the a** on Capitol Hill, and Dingell replied, “Thank you, Mr. President. I worked long and hard to get that reputation, and I’d hate to lose it.” He’s lost it.
Now this powerful committee will be headed by Henry Waxman, who’ll be a puppet of Speaker Pelosi. The independent Dingell was long a thorn in Pelosi’s side, to the point where she backed a primary opponent against him in 2002; he returned the favor later by backing Steny Hoyer for majority leader over Pelosi’s choice, John Murtha. It looks very much like Pelosi is consolidating her grip on the House. Once, there were many committee chairment who’d go there own way: Dan Rostenkowski and Bill Thomas on Ways and Means, Les Aspin on Armed Services, Howard Smith on Rules. Dingell was pretty much the last Democratic committee chairman who’d oppose the party leadership. The days of powerful committee chairmen going against the Speaker seem to be ending. She’s well to the left of most of the nation, but it looks like the House is firmly under Pelosi’s control.
Hurricanes and Hitler are often cited as the most difficult challenges to the belief that God is good. A more compelling question is why He has allowed a world where its possible that Clint Eastwood will never play President Andrew Jackson on the big screen.
Why, God? Why???
Tom posted this at 2:00 PM CDT on Thursday, November 20th, 2008 as Faith, Film Rants
Considering the history of its constituents, a reasonable person might think the gay rights community would understand the benefits of a live-and-let-live mentality. As the whole Proposition 8 business in California — from the suit that led to the court ruling to the continued protests this week after losing at the polls — and now this detestable business show, a reasonable person would be wrong.
A settlement Wednesday between eHarmony Inc. and the New Jersey attorney general requires the online heterosexual dating service to also cater to homosexuals, raising questions about whether other services that target a niche clientele could be forced to expand their business models.
The settlement stemmed from a complaint, filed with the New Jersey attorney general’s office by a gay match seeker in 2005, that eHarmony had violated his rights under the state’s discrimination law by not offering a same-sex dating service. In 2007, the attorney general found probable cause that eHarmony had violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination.
So much for private rights of association. eHarmony is a private organization that provides a service people want. For whatever reasons — be they economic, religious, or homophobic — it doesn’t want to cater to gay people. It has an effing right to do that. If there’s a niche market for a civil union/marriage-focused gay dating website, there’s nothing in the world stopping anyone from doing it. Of course, that’s far more work and not nearly as emotionally satisfying as legally forcing someone to do your bidding and making them to pay thousands and create a new product line against their will.
Tom posted this at 10:02 AM CDT on Thursday, November 20th, 2008 as Politics