Fat? Smoker? No surgery

fatsoFree medical care fails on all three counts: it’s not free and it’s about neither medicine nor care.

The state uses ‘free’ medical care as a justification for putting its foot down. The foot may come down with a big thud, as in Cuba, or furtively, as in Britain. But come down it will.

Those Cuban ingrates were prepared to risk their lives to escape free medical care. They’d rather be ripped off by those greedy US medics – really, there’s no pleasing some people. Alas in Britain we have nowhere to run.

The NHS has just approved plans to withhold non-urgent surgery for the overweight and smokers. This includes hip replacement, removal of tonsils and hernia, and other procedures that feel urgent enough to those who need them.

Someone ought to remind the NHS what medicine is for. Here’s the multiple choice:

a) teaching good behaviour, b) punishing bad behaviour, c) increasing the power of the state, d) treating the ill. If your answer is a), b), c) or all three, apply for a senior position with the NHS.

The logical inference is that the NHS doesn’t really need doctors, nurses or hospitals to achieve its principal goal, increasing state power.

It should cut out the middlemen (frontline medical staff and facilities) and employ only those who take the direct route to the desired destination: regulators, administrators and directors of diversity.

This is already happening without much fanfare: administrative staffs are mushrooming, hospitals or their departments are closing, the number of beds has gone down from a pre-NHS 400,000 to today’s 150,000 (although in the interim the population has grown by 20 per cent).

Yet so far this process has lacked an honest, forthright justification. This it has now been mercifully provided by Rachel Sylvester of The Times. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Miss Sylvester but, when I saw the title of her article (Closing Hospitals Can Help Us Save the NHS), I knew we’d get along just fine.

Here was a kindred spirit, someone who knows what the NHS is really for, I thought. Then I read the article and realised mournfully that we aren’t soul mates after all.

First, she doesn’t really understand the aetiology of the disease she set out to treat. “The financial problems facing hospital trusts are matched by a growing workforce gap,” she writes. In plainer words, hospitals don’t have enough money to hire enough qualified staff to treat patients.

Rather than pondering why this problem didn’t exist before the country was blessed with the arrival of the NHS, Miss Sylvester goes off on all sorts of tangential non sequiturs, justifying the derisory Russian quip about woman’s logic (something I emphatically and unequivocally disavow, I hasten to add).

A logical chain of thought would have some essential links: 1) We must have enough hospitals with enough staff to treat us; 2) Not having enough money to hire them isn’t an option; 3) The current system manifestly can’t satisfy this requirement; 4) Therefore the current system must be replaced with something known to work, such as the pre-1948 medical care in Britain.

Instead Miss Sylvester bemoans the high cost of hospital care (£400 a night), and states the blindingly obvious fact that “nobody seriously wants to spend more time than they have to in an institution where they are at risk of infection…”

That risk didn’t exist when our hospitals were run by two people, head doctor and matron, rather than by accountants and directors of diversity. Nor did the problem of finding enough qualified staff exist then – as it doesn’t exist anywhere else where socialism and medicine go their separate ways.

Other than that, her statement is one of those non sequiturs: it in no way denies that people should be able to stay in hospital for as long as it takes to get better. All this sets up the non sequitur to end all non sequiturs: her proposed solution.

Approaching the problem with the soldierly directness of Alexander the Great, Miss Sylvester proposes shutting down most hospitals and A&E units for lack of funds to pay qualified medics. Instead the few remaining medics should be concentrated in a few centres.

She cites Professor Naomi Fulop, who is an advocate of this system, as saying: “It may seem counterintuitive for an ambulance to drive a critical patient straight past the nearest hospital, but it saves lives.”

It won’t, dear, if this experiment is tried on a large scale. It’ll be a disaster. Even with A&E units operating at most hospitals, it now takes hours to be seen. Now imagine the logistic catastrophe of bleeding and apoplexic multitudes descending on the few centres in a city the size of London, where the average traffic speed is 9 mph.

Of course, when your turn comes, you’ll be seen by a medical ace, which is a comforting thought – if you don’t happen to be bleeding too fast.

Now I have a better solution: we should have enough local hospitals with enough qualified people to save lives. If the NHS can’t provide that, it’s not hospitals we should close down but the NHS.

Alas, this line of thought is impossible in a country where ‘free’ medical care is a religion, and the NHS its church. We don’t think about the NHS; we just worship it – all the way to disaster.

When IQ clashes with PC, reason loses

joustSome readers’ comments on my yesterday’s piece touched upon the issue of IQ. That jogged my memory and I recalled an article I wrote on this subject years ago. Committed as I am to responsible recycling, I thought I’d re-run it, for the subject continues to be topical.

Say ‘chairman’ instead of ‘chair’, and you’ll be accused of being politically incorrect. This re-emphasises that everything in modern life has become politicised, denying the very reason in the name of which modernity was shoved down people’s throats in the first place.

And modern politics precludes rational debate: the choice is between shrill propaganda and vile abuse. The moment today’s big-enders smell a little-ender, they won’t listen to arguments. As in any war, truth doesn’t matter. Only victory does.

Take IQ, for example. Its fans claim it measures intelligence. It does nothing of the sort. It measures potential for intelligence, which potential may or may not be developed.

Thus someone with a modest IQ of 110 (the average IQ of an American college graduate is 115), such as William Stockley, can become a Nobel prize winner in physics; someone with a low IQ of 86, such as Andy Warhol, can become a famous artist; and someone with a genius IQ of 187, such as Bobby Fischer, can become a dysfunctional moron away from the chessboard.

IQ testing may be a useful tool, for example in determining someone’s suitability for a job that depends on being able to solve practical problems quickly. In a sane world we’d decide where IQ is applicable and where it isn’t, and leave it at that.

In our mad world, however, equality has become such a political shibboleth for the post-truth post-Christians that they’ll deny obvious facts in its name. Whoever dares to mention the easily provable fact that different groups, be that class or race, have different median IQs will be accused of racism, fascism, elitism or some other faddish ism.

That happened, for example, to Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, authors of the bestselling 1994 book The Bell Curve, who were subjected to the kind of savage salvos that were never aimed by the same people at, say, Castro or Arafat.

The accusers are undoubtedly entitled to their own opinions, but they aren’t entitled to their own facts. And these show that a) median IQ scores do differ from one group to the next and b) they are the most reliable predictor of practical success in almost any occupation (except perhaps, on current evidence, public service).

For example, in spite of being discriminated against, the Malayan Chinese are heavily overrepresented in top positions. All sorts of spurious explanations are offered for this, but never the real one: the median IQ of the Chinese is a hugely significant 16 points higher than that of the ethnic Malays.

In the US, the descending scale of median IQ scores goes from the East Asians (refuting the Eurocentricity argument against IQ testing) to the Jews to the other whites to the blacks, and this happens to correspond to the relative scale of these groups’ practical success in life – as measured by education, income, family stability, propensity for crime and many other indicators.

No matter. Actual reality is no longer allowed to interfere with the virtual, PC kind. If the facts don’t support the egalitarian bias, then so much the worse for the facts – and for whomever as much as mentions them.

Material success is the main desideratum of the modern world, but political correctness – that is, imposing virtual standards on the real world – matters too. The first serves the all-important body, the second strokes what used to be called the soul, and now is called whatever psychobabble term is in vogue.

The two clash on the issue of IQ, with our materialists parlaying their high scores into practical success while bleating all along that IQ scores mean nothing. They do mean something. But not very much.

Before Jesus Christ became a superstar, intelligence testing, had it existed, would have been dismissed as a quaint irrelevance. The ability to get ahead in life was then not regarded as the indicator of human worth.

It went without saying that, on average, some groups of people tended to be more intelligent than others – and civilised people considered it foolhardy to think that any single representative of any group could be presumed to be intelligent or stupid simply because he belonged to that group.

Because it came from a sphere that was infinitely higher, the true equality shared by all towered over the transient inequality of worldly success. The bogus equality of the modern world, however, has to presuppose parity where none exists: practical ability.

Deception is the only way out of this conundrum: as empirical evidence destroys this presupposition everywhere we look, the evidence must be either falsified or, better still, hushed up. In this the modern world displays more ruthless consistency than Christendom ever did in opposing, say, the heliocentric theory.

A note to the PC purveyors: some facts have nothing to do with politics. They are just facts. Take them for what they’re worth, however little or great their value is. For denying facts is neither amusing, nor grown-up nor especially clever. Ever had your own IQ checked?


The death of a church

stmichaelWhen Sir Christopher Wren designed one of the City’s most beautiful churches, St Michael’s Cornhill, Christian worship had been going on at that site for centuries.

It has continued until now. But neo-vandalism is putting paid to St Michael’s.

There are many ways of destroying a church. French revolutionaries favoured a wrecking ball; their Russian counterparts relied on dynamite; both would rob the churches first.

Robbery is no longer necessary in England: Henry VIII did such a thorough job of it that our churches stayed robbed. And wrecking balls and explosives are much too unsubtle for us.

St Michael’s is being destroyed by a delayed-action bomb called modernity. Such charges have been placed under every church in Europe, and they’re going off one by one.

The Times bemoans the impending demise of St Michael’s but, in a characteristically shoddy display, fails to explain it. The paper identifies the immediate reason (“the Anglican parish’s insolvency”), but without uncovering the underlying cause.

Instead it delivers an earth-shattering revelation: “For years it has been running at a loss, supported only by the generosity of a local livery company and by grants and donations from legacies, well-wishers and the diocese of London. However, in the past year these sources have dried up…”

Churches, gentlemen, aren’t commercial concerns. Fair enough, in Russia, where the church is an extension of the KGB-mafia oligarchy, the holy fathers are doing rather well for themselves.

They bypass import duties to flog booze and fags at a huge profit, and have even turned Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery into a money-spinning brothel. But in the civilised world churches always depend on charitable contributions.

These have indeed dried up at St Michael’s. However, this drought isn’t caused by the depopulation of the City, as The Times seems to believe. Five years ago, the City’s population was no bigger – and yet St Michael’s thrived.

Both the parish’s success and its collapse had the same reason: Peter Mullen. His arrival explains the former, his departure the latter.

Peter, the author of 30-odd books, is one of our best theologians and preachers. Yet to be a great pastor, a man has to be more than just good, pious and intelligent. Other qualities are essential too: charm, sociability, inner strength – the list can get very long. Yet no matter how long it gets, Peter has all those qualities in spades.

To say he performed a miracle at St Michael’s and his other parish, St Sepulchre-Without-Newgate would be frivolous in this context. But no less true for it.

When Peter (a close friend, hence my use of his Christian name) was appointed in 1998, the two parishes were moribund. The geographically natural congregation wasn’t there, and funding was hard to come by.

Yet Peter turned things around in short order. There’s no doubt that, had he applied his fund-raising talent to serve Mammon rather than God, he’d give Richard Branson a good run for his money.

As it was, his personality brought in funds, while his sermons and pastoral work drew parishioners from far afield. Many travelled for hours to hear Peter celebrate Mass the way it has been celebrated in England since the time of Christopher Wren.

A church being a conservative institution by definition, a modernist clergyman is an oxymoron. Peter would have none of that: it was strictly the Prayer Book and KJB for him. This wasn’t just because of Peter’s doctrinal purity: he brought to bear on his work his poetic sense and musical sensibility.

Peter has published books of poetry, and he’s an amateur musician. Mind you, one doesn’t have to be a poet to choose between, say, “With this ring I thee wed” and “This ring is a symbol of our marriage”. A simple ear for English will suffice.

Nor would Peter indulge those whom The Times extolls for “wanting alternatives to classical church music”. The celebrated choir of St Michael’s performed pieces reflecting Peter’s knowledge that such alternatives don’t exist for as long as Christian liturgy remains Christian.

His sermons were conservative too, and not just in the doctrinal sense. Peter was scathing about modern perversions, sexual, political or otherwise. He mocked trendy pseuds imposing their ideology on the church, and didn’t pull any punches when taking swipes at the Anglican hierarchs. It was living Christianity, bringing Christ to the world and the world to Christ.

That rubbed the modern, and modernising, Church of England the wrong way. The hierarchs’ resentment of Peter grew, and, when he reached the supposedly mandatory retirement age four years ago, they pushed him out – without the slightest regard for the future of his parishes.

They neither realised nor cared to what extent the success of St Michael’s and St Sepulchre was down to Peter – nor how quickly that success could turn to failure.

Soon after his departure, the choir of St Michael’s began to outnumber the parishioners, and the new rector could match Peter neither in doctrinal purity nor in fund-raising clout. Hence the demise The Times writes about.

That Michael Binyon’s slipshod article doesn’t mention Peter Mullen’s name even once is astounding. Peter could give Michael a lesson in journalism – not to mention some other lessons as well.

We have El Jefe of our own

JeremyCorbynWhile magnanimously acknowledging that Castro had “his flaws”, the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition enthused about that “champion of social justice”.

Allow me to translate from the modern. Social justice actually means social injustice: a transfer of property from those who have a just claim to it to those who don’t – including the arbiters of social justice themselves.

As an essential corollary, those who interpret social justice differently have to be killed, imprisoned, driven into exile or otherwise disposed of. Eventually uniformity of opinion descends on those who remain: they all begin to see social justice in exactly the same light.

By those criteria, Jeremy’s idol isn’t so much a champion as a runner-up. The top spot is shared by Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, although Fidel did his level best and it was a close-run thing.

The number of those El Jefe killed never quite reached 100,000. On the plus side, unlike that wimp Lenin, Fidel, his brother Raúl and his acolyte Che took a hands-on approach to executions.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Castro and his jolly friends flattered their role models no end. Like Lenin’s Bolsheviks, they grabbed power in several stages.

First, they took part in a revolution driven by others. Then they ousted their former coalition partners and banned free elections. Then they eliminated the ancien régime by the expedients I outlined above. Then they killed their former allies and, while at it, those of Fidel’s comrades who had ideas above their station.

Where that was done with the benefit of quasi-legal procedure, it sounded like a Spanish translation from the Russian popularised by the 1930s show trials. Defence attorneys would sum up by stating their disgust for the defendants and apologising for having to defend such vermin.

And Guevara came up with a legal insight that repeated practically word for word an earlier revelation by Stalin’s prosecutor Vyshinsky:

“We need no shilly-shallying with court procedures. This is a revolution, and evidence is secondary. We must act according to our convictions. They’re all a gang of criminals and murderers. Then don’t forget we have an appellate tribunal.|”

So they did, which body was presided over by Guevara himself. As a finishing touch, having passed and upheld the death sentence, the multi-tasking Che would often carry it out himself.

As this was going on, Corbyn’s “champion of social justice” smiled an avuncular smile into his shaggy beard. He himself was too busy with his personal harem. Well, at least, unlike his brother, he liked women.

While at it, Fidel was doing to Cuba what he did to his girlfriends. For social justice can’t be achieved all at once. It’s a dynamic process, essentially a journey from Point A to Point B.

When Castro arrived, Cuba under Batista was the second most prosperous country in Latin America. In some categories, such as the number of cars or telephones per capita, it was ahead of Italy.

Call it Point A. Point B is accurately described by a reader of mine, and I hope Mr Bosanquet doesn’t mind my quoting him:

“When I travelled to Cuba just before Fidel’s handover of power, Havana was a decaying slum, the only food around was stale ham and cheese sandwiches, teachers and doctors were living in penury, the people in the countryside were virtually starving, the only way young men could make money was hustling fake cigars – women through prostitution. I visited a friend with appendicitis in hospital and it was a filthy slum with patients dying from infections.”

Verily I say unto you: that free medical care is dear at the price. And judging by the fact that Cuba’s average monthly wage is currently under £15, things couldn’t have improved much since that observation was made, some 10 years ago.

The cause of social justice in Cuba has been served so well that Corbyn’s panegyrics are being echoed and outdone by his likeminded Castratos.

Thus the former MP George Galloway: “You were the greatest man I ever met, Comandante Fidel.”

Lord Hain, the former Labour cabinet minister: “Castro created a society of unparalleled access to free health, education and equal opportunity despite an economically throttling US siege.”

Rob Miller, director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign: “Certainly Fidel, Raúl and Che Guevara are… revered as the historic generation.”

To the former London mayor Ken Livingston, Castro was an “absolute giant of the twentieth century”.

Transatlantic fans of social justice wouldn’t be outdone. Thus Canada’s PM Trudeau: “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.”

And Obama recalled “the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.” That he most certainly did, though perhaps not quite in the way Barack Hussein meant.

I don’t know about you, but I have nightmares of our own jefes and comandantes taking over in the name of social justice. I wake up bathed in cold sweat, hoarse from my own screams.

Another one bites the dust

Political Posters in Castillo de San Cristobal - 06This isn’t a proper Christian sentiment, I know. We’re supposed to love our enemies and all that.

So we must. In that spirit, one hopes God will be merciful on Fidel Castro’s soul, provided he had one. But in this world, all decent people have prayed for half a century that this monster rot in hell.

In its fulsomely well-balanced obituary, The Guardian had the gall to quote Castro’s Cuban sycophant as saying that, for all the material deprivation Castro caused, at least he guided the country through the nightmare of the 1962 crisis.

Well, now we’re on the issue of balance, I’d be tempted to mention that the crisis Castro guided his grateful people through was largely of his own making. It’s by generously turning his island into a Soviet missile base at Khrushchev’s behest, that Castro took the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.

I remember 1962 in Moscow as if it were yesterday. As a child, I was taught to sing songs about heroic barbudos and shout “patria o muerte, venceremos” at public gatherings. Yet immediately pro-Cuban hysteria mandated by the Kremlin began to strike some cautionary notes.

The slogan rolled off the tongue quite easily when it was their patria and their muerte. Yet with SAC bombers expected over Moscow at any moment, my affection for the Castro-led barbudos, tepid at best, vanished in an instant.

Actually, I find it tedious to talk about the Kremlin’s blood-thirsty puppet who emulated the Soviet model of starving, torturing, imprisoning and murdering his people en masse, although not quite in the same numbers as his communist role models elsewhere.

People citing the number of those murdered or imprisoned by Castro praise the bearded monster for not having matched the Soviets or Chinese even in percentage terms.

But he certainly went the Soviets one better in the relative number of those who risked (and often lost) their lives fleeing from the cannibalistic barbudos and their loquacious chieftain (he’d orate for hours off the cuff, an impressive achievement to anyone who hasn’t actually read Castro’s incoherent rants).

All in all, 1.5 million Cubans have fled. Considering that Cuba’s population at the time Castro led his gang out of Sierra Maestra mountains was 6.9 million, that was quite good going.

Another praise for Castro that makes me see white (the colour of counter-revolution) is the effluvia over the universal literacy and ‘free’ medical care he bestowed upon Cubans in his munificence.

That people can read is a trivial datum compared to what they read. All communist dictators want people to be literate enough to peruse their speeches and other propaganda.

Literacy thus stops being a factor of learning and becomes one of brainwashing. With the Castrites (Castratos?) in power, the Cubans would have been better off in their former blissful state of illiteracy.

As to the canard of free medical care, it’s one oft-repeated even in countries that ought to know better. There’s no such thing. ‘Free’ in this context means provided by the state, largely for the same purpose as universal literacy – to exert control over the populace.

When the state, especially one that beggars the nation by practising communist economics, provides such services, it has to pinch elsewhere. Hence the average wage in Castro’s Cuba is under $20 a month. If it were even half that in the US ($4,300 a month), I’m sure Cubans would be happy to pay for their own blood tests and appendectomies.

Such wages accompanied by ‘free’ medicine and education don’t mean universal care. They mean universal slavery.

When I first arrived in the US from Russia (43 years ago – doesn’t tempus bloody well fugit?), I was amazed at seeing portraits of Fidel and Che Guevara everywhere, including the co-eds’ beautifully shaped T-shirts.

Chaps, these are mass murderers you’re glorifying, I wanted to scream, and at times did. Criminals who not only stamped their own people into the dirt but who also export their beastliness all over the world. Angola, Mozambique, other African countries, plus the odd ‘wet job’ carried out on behalf of their Soviet masters – don’t you know? Don’t you care?

They might have known. But they didn’t care. Castro and Che were kinda cool.

And it wasn’t just the US. I saw the same thing when coming to Britain 15 years later.

An old friend of mine married a comely English rose, and I was shocked to see a large portrait of Che Guevara adorning her wall.

When I took her to task, she explained that she had had to live through even a worse dictatorship, that of Margaret Thatcher. (Shortly thereafter my friend intercepted her e-mail thanking her boss for having let her perform on him an act that’s still illegal in some American states. I detected a causal relationship.)

Thousands of Cubans are dancing in the streets of Miami and other American cities (they’ve learned to keep such emotions in check in Cuba proper). They never thought Fidel was cool. They always knew what kind of evil was perpetrated on their country. One wishes all those mourning Castro’s death knew that too.


Living argument against democracy

johnmajorA valid test of any political method is the quality of those it elevates to government.

Looking at the parade of nonentities befouling modern cabinets, one can be justified in having doubts about our democracy run riot (if you don’t mind a little self-publicity, I express some of them in my book Democracy As a Neocon Trick).

Sir John Major is a case in point. That he isn’t exactly the sharpest chisel in the toolbox is widely accepted even by his friends. His morals were demonstrated when he stabbed his benefactrix Margaret Thatcher in the back. And his taste in women… well, say no more than Edwina Currie.

Now Sir John is actively campaigning to torpedo Brexit, referendum or no. There’s obviously an element of self-vindication there: it was Major’s signature that put paid to British independence at Maastricht in 1992.

That flourish of the pen damaged the sovereignty of Crown and Parliament more effectively than any other historical event that comes to mind offhand. If that’s not treason, I don’t know what is, although I’m sure casuistic loopholes prevent legal charges against Maastricht John.

That, having staked his whole political life on that act, Sir John now wants to prevent its unravelling is as understandable as it’s deplorable. His excuse is that he may not even understand what he’s doing – or saying.

There exists, Sir John declared yesterday, “a perfectly credible cause” for a second referendum. He then went on to prove that there’s no perfectly credible cause for Sir John. Here’s what he said:

“I hear the argument that the 48 per cent of people who voted to stay should have no say in what happens. I find that very difficult to accept. The tyranny of the majority has never applied in a democracy and it should not apply in this particular democracy.”

Sir John has heard the catchphrase, which is good, but I’m not sure he either understands its meaning or knows its provenance, which is unfortunate.

Actually, John Adams first warned against the tyranny of the majority during the debates about the American Constitution. Some 18 years later he realised with horror that his warning hadn’t been heeded: “I once thought our Constitution was a quasi or mixed government, but they had made it… a democracy.”

Thomas Jefferson agreed with Adams’s low opinion of democracy. Echoing Plato, he remarked: “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule [ochlocracy, to Plato], where fifty-one per cent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

You’ll notice that the Founders were talking about democracy in general, not direct democracy in particular. Later “the tyranny of the majority” appeared as a chapter title in Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, to be quoted later still in John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.

Those gentlemen were absolutely correct in decrying unlimited democracy – and absolutely wrong in believing it was preventable by palliative constitutional tinkering, such as introducing an electoral college in America.

The only check on democracy proven effective is reducing it to just one of the mechanisms of power, counterbalanced by others. The proof was provided by England’s constitution, where the unelected power of the monarch was balanced with the elected power of the Commons, with the mediating hereditary power of the Lords making sure the balance didn’t tip too much one way or the other.

That was the greatest constitutional achievement in history, and it was wantonly undone by a succession of governing nonentities like John Major. Yet an argument can be made that removing checks on democracy is anyhow an ineluctable process, intrinsic to any practice of this system in our post-Enlightenment modernity.

One way or the other, given our existing conditions, it’s impossible to argue persuasively against the odd plebiscite, for example when an issue of constitutional import is at stake.

For democracy is self-nullifying. Unless people vote direct on every policy, which is patently impossible, “the tyranny of the majority”, so dreaded by the gentlemen above, is guaranteed to develop into the tyranny of a minority governing in its own interests but in the name of the people. A plebiscite can provide some check, however imperfect.

Every word in Major’s statement applies to democracy in general: in fact, considerably more people voted for Brexit in 2016 than for John Major in 1992 – and no one voted for him in 1990, when he became PM in the wake of a perfidious coup.

People had “no say” in anything he did, such as signing away 1,500 years of England’s constitutional tradition in 1992. One didn’t hear him object about the injustice of it all then.

While Major is intellectually and morally deficient, his successor, in addition to those attributes, is downright wicked. Blair avers we must have a second referendum if the British people decide that “the pain-gain cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up”.

To propose deciding the issue of British sovereignty on such criteria isn’t just ignorant, vulgar and crass. It’s evil, irredeemably so.

The two nonentities disagree on the value of arithmetic: one dislikes counting votes, the other supports counting pennies. But they converge in their obvious ignorance of, and contempt for, the best constitution mankind has produced so far.


Second referendum – and turd

TonyBlairYes, I know it’s a rotten pun. My only excuse is that it’s applied to the most rotten personage ever to disgrace Westminster.

The scary news is that Blair has launched a political comeback. The scarier news is that he just may succeed.

Blair has spotted “a massive hole in British politics” – and the absolutely scariest news is that he’s right. A hole does exist, although Blair’s toxic presence is more likely to widen, not fill, it.

He regards Corbyn as a “nutter” and Mrs May as a “ total lightweight”, and he’s right on both counts. However, a man who, as prime minister, elevated corruption, cronyism and constitutional vandalism to hitherto unseen levels, commits an unspeakable effrontery when daring to criticise others and suggest he could do better.

Following the Chilcot report, inculpating Blair for lying about Iraq, he should have been charged with treason. I don’t know what else to call Blair’s promise to Bush that “I will be with you whatever”.

‘Whatever’ covered a plethora of obstacles to this unconstitutional commitment: absence of parliamentary or indeed cabinet approval, any thought for the assured consequences, life-threatening shortage of appropriate hardware and training in the armed forces, intelligence data showing that, in Chilcot’s language, there was “no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein”.

Having criminally caused the on-going Middle Eastern disaster now threatening us all, Blair proceeded to vandalise our ancient constitution by creating unnecessary institutions, such as the Supreme Court, and destroying or emasculating necessary ones, such as the House of Lords and the office of Lord Chancellor.

As a side line, in 2004 he flung open doors already ajar by going along with the EU’s suicidal decision to admit unlimited numbers of immigrants from places where hatred of the West is an article of faith.

While the Iraq caper may constitute treason de jure, Blair’s constitutional mayhem was treasonous de facto. As he and his lieutenants have admitted with refreshing cynicism, all that was done with a single purpose in mind: perpetuating his own power and that of his fellow spivs.

I realise that wishing to see Blair behind bars betokens a lack of realism, but it’s natural to expect that this creature be banned from politics for the rest of his miserable life. (Those interested in its auspicious beginning should Google ‘Tony Blair Miranda’. Let’s just say that young Tone added a whole new meaning to the Miranda warning.)

Or rather it would be natural to expect that in a country where some vestiges of political integrity survive. In Britain, however, Blair clearly expects the currently unelectable Labour Party to bring him back, putting all its rotten eggs into one bastard.

To that end he’s about to launch a comeback campaign, marshalling the support of cross-party malcontents, especially those desperate to undermine Brexit.

Blair’s so far unspoken manifesto should start with the words “Spivs of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your brains (of which you haven’t got much to begin with)”. He has already had talks with the former (Tory!) chancellor George Osborne, who’s still smarting from the unceremonious manner in which his own party dumped him.

You don’t win any prizes for guessing the main subject of the Tory-Tony conversation. For keeping Britain in the EU at all costs is the Trojan horse Blair has saddled to ride all the way back to power. The ensign flapping off his lance has ‘second referendum’ written on it.

If that doesn’t work, he and his new friend George will think up something else, and I’m sure Dave will resurface to add a helping hand. You see, Dave and George are biting every reachable portion of their anatomy over their decision to call the first referendum.

With the smug overconfidence typical of that lot, they were sure they’d win, thereby closing the issue of British sovereignty forever. True enough, had the referendum gone the other way, its results would have been declared ironclad in perpetuity: the EU and its Quislings only ever reverse referendums that go against them.

Now Blair is demanding a second vote even after Mrs May manages to invoke Article 50. This only shows that EU laws don’t matter to Blair any more than British ones do: this article of the Lisbon Treaty says that any country triggering it will leave automatically within two years.

According to Blair, “You can’t change this [referendum] decision, unless it becomes clear in one way or another, that the British people have had a change of mind because they have seen the reality of the alternative.”

For the British people to see “the reality of the alternative”, Britain must actually leave the EU. But that’s not what Blair means. His ‘alternative’ to Brexit is the current state of limbo.

This is created by using every casuistic holdup to force Mrs May to continue shilly-shallying until the will of the British people has been denied – not that she takes much forcing, being a Remainer herself.

Should Blair get and lose his second referendum, he’ll be screaming for a third. Spivs of the world are united, and they won’t be denied – barring the sort of cataclysm that doesn’t bear thinking about.

Who will rid us of this loathsome creature?

Happy birthday, Agent Mikhailov!

patriarchkirillTwo days ago, His Beatitude Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’ Kirill turned 70, and I’d like to offer my belated best wishes.

I could also offer a eulogy, but there’s no need. One has already been delivered by Dmitry Kisiliov, the TV dummy to Putin’s Kremlin ventriloquist: “Patriarch Kirill is one of mankind’s leading thinkers. His thoughts on spirituality, duty, good and evil, wealth and poverty, meaning of life provide priceless spiritual supports for millions of people.”

St Paul, St Augustine, Nietzsche and Milton Friedman thus come together in the patriarch’s brocaded breast, and one can only prostrate oneself in awe. Then, having resumed the vertical position, one may dare offer a few comments, in the fear that a smiting lightning may strike at any moment.

Vladimir Gundiayev, as the Patriarch was in the lay world, remembers “that a man is not justified by the works of law but by the faith of Jesus Christ”. As a prelate, he has so much faith that he knows he can get away with anything for which lesser people would face everlasting fire.

For example, poor mortals can’t serve God and mammon, but, according to Gundiayev, that injunction doesn’t preclude other parallel careers. One can indeed serve two masters, in his case God and the KGB (FSB/SVR).

His Beatitude has been serving that organisation faithfully since at least 1972, when he first appears in KGB dossiers as ‘Agent Mikhailov’. Operational reports describe his assignments, always adding they were “fulfilled successfully”. No wonder the KGB then seconded Gundiayev to the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) – he earned it.

It’s from the height of Gundiayev’s dual consecration that the other day he addressed Russian abbots with a sermon of asceticism. He was scathing about their lives of comfort and luxury.

For example, he forbade them to decorate their sceptres with “baubles” and to have salaries. Abbots, he thundered, should “think more about heroic asceticism”.

Do as I say, don’t do as I do, goes the old saw, while an earlier one says in Latin that quod licet iovi, non licet bovi. Gundiayev’s flock are the bulls here, with him himself as Jupiter.

For His Beatitude doesn’t exactly practise what he preaches. The Russians began to notice that a few years ago, during what I then called the Watch’s Sabbath.

Gundiayev was photographed sporting a £30,000 Bréguet at a press conference. After the ensuing outcry, His Beatitude produced a doctored version of the same picture, with no watch anywhere in sight.

Alas, his retoucher had overlooked a minor detail: the reflection of the watch on the shiny table top in front of Gundiayev. As befits a prelate, the picture became supernatural with idealistic Platonic touches: only the shadow of an object was perceived, not the object itself.

Nor is Gundiayev immune to delights of the flesh. Even though he’s a monk, the patriarch openly lives with a woman he describes as a distant relation, a kinship for which no documentary evidence exists.

This cohabitation unfolds in multiple residences, some of which belong to Gundiayev outright, while others are variously described as ‘church property’, ‘gifts’ or ‘convents’. Russian researcher Dr Bychkov has published a long list of Gundiayev’s palaces, yachts and jets of which he has either ownership or exclusive use. His Beatitude has confirmed most of the items, which suggests that ‘patriarch’ must be etymologically related to ‘pay’.

I particularly liked the story of a convent converted into a patriarchal residence and stuffed with designer furniture imported from Italy. One table cost €20,000, and its finish must have been specified as matte, just in case.

I shan’t bore you with a full translation of the list, hoping you’ll take my word for it: we’re talking about uncountable millions. A tiny detail: last year Gundiaev won a lawsuit against his neighbour, who lived beneath the patriarch’s personal property, a 1,450 sq. ft. apartment with a view of the Kremlin.

His Beatitude claimed that refurbishment of the neighbour’s flat had produced dust, causing damage to Gundiayev’s furnishings. The damage was estimated at over $1,000,000, leaving us to guess the overall value of said furnishings, not to mention the apartment itself.

But let’s not get hung up on trivialities. For, with Putin’s blessing, His Beatitude has issued himself a patriarchal dispensation to serve mammon on a serious scale.

Gundiayev’s business activities have earned him a personal capital estimated at between $1.5 and 4 billion. As a good businessman, he has diversified his activities since the time he was a simple metropolitan (bishop). Tobacco products, oil, spirits and foodstuffs have figured prominently among his interests.

In 1996 he was party to a ROC deal whereby huge consignments of tobacco products were imported as duty-free ‘humanitarian aid’ and then sold through shops at market prices. It’s estimated that Gundiayev’s cut of that scam alone topped $50 million.

Later he got into the oil business, earning a fortune whose exact size hasn’t yet been documented, possibly because investigators can’t count that high. Then in 2000 His Beatitude made another $17 million flogging caviar and crabmeat – every little bit helps. His other interests include semi-precious stones, banking, stock market and property development.

And so it goes on, ROC around the clock. Happy birthday, Your Beatitude! God bless the good works.

Crime and punishment on BBC

bbcdostoyYesterday I appeared on the BBC Sunday Morning Live show, on the panel discussing imprisonment.

Since this subject, like most others, tends to divide people along political lines, I feared that the other panellists would gang up on me. I was wrong: providing partial support was Andrew Pierce of The Mail.

But then there was Afua Hirsch, a human rights development worker, whatever that means. Propping up her corner with expert opinion by TV link was a gentleman who once served time and has since developed an understandable interest in the penitentiary system.

Miss Hirsch and I differ on the very definition of prison. Rather than punishment for crimes, she sees it more as an educational and therapeutic facility for the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Hence, according to her and the ex-convict, we have too many people in prison: other institutions would serve the educational purposes better.

My contention was that protecting us from criminals is among the state’s few raisons d’être. Otherwise it’s not immediately clear whence the state would derive its legitimacy.

Therefore the number of prisoners is a moot point. We should have as many as it takes for the state to protect us.

Prison’s principal role is to punish and thereby deter crimes. Rehabilitation, a notion dear to my opponents’ hearts, would be welcome, but it comes far down on the list of desiderata, if at all.

The ex-convict was aghast. Didn’t I know that most released prisoners reoffend within a few months? Miss Hirsch nodded vigorously and looked at me in a way that suggested she wouldn’t mind seeing me inside one of the facilities under discussion.

Actually, those sentenced to non-custodial punishments reoffend as often as those sent down, the valid difference being that at least the latter can’t hurt us while inside.

The ex-convict obviously didn’t realise that everything he was saying supported my argument. After all, the commitment to mythical rehabilitation has been practised for at least two generations. Surely the recidivism rates prove it isn’t working?

When a system fails so spectacularly, the fault usually lies with its design, not the mechanics of its operation. There’s this truth impossible for Miss Hirsch’s liberal mind to grasp: rehabilitation isn’t what prisons are for, and some people can’t be rehabilitated anyway.

To realise this one has to acknowledge that evil, like good, is innate to human nature and in some people it predominates. But that route may lead us as far as original sin, and of course Miss Hirsch can’t possibly believe in such retrograde rubbish.

Rates of reoffending can be significantly reduced by one expedient only: imbuing people with respect for, and fear of, the law.

Respect for the law is a cornerstone of any successful civilisation, and creating it is a reciprocal process. The old cliché works: justice must be done (by the state), and it must be seen to be done (by the people).

A crime, especially a violent one, sends shockwaves through the community, and they can only be attenuated when commensurate punishment is meted out. If this doesn’t happen, respect for the law goes down and crime rates go up.

That’s why Britain, formerly one of the most law-abiding Western nations, is rapidly turning into one of the most lawless. We have the highest rate of violent crime in Western Europe, and London is leading New York in every crime category except murder (the gap is closing).

Fear of the law is an essential complement to respect. Those contemplating an imprisonable offence should be afraid of retribution.

Andrew Pierce manfully came to my defence. Prison, he said, should have “an element of punishment”. More than an element, actually: punishment is all that prison is about, but I can’t complain: some support is better than none.

Miss Hirsch was aghast. Being in prison is awful, she said, what with poor people being deprived of their freedom. Quite. That’s the whole point: the bad people inside lose their freedom to enable the good people outside to enjoy theirs.

This isn’t to say that prisons should be hellholes. Civilised countries can’t have that. But what civilised countries must have is prisons that scare potential criminals away.

Because of the prevalent liberal mindset, so vividly exemplified by my opponents, this isn’t happening. We don’t have enough prisons, and those we do have are overcrowded and understaffed.

Over 7,000 warders have been made redundant in recent months, and the power of both governors and officers has been curtailed. Thus prisons are controlled not so much by the authorities as by the most feral convicts.

Really hardened criminals dish punishment out, rather than being on the receiving end of it. Anarchy reigns, with thousands of meeker inmates murdered, drugs flowing freely, and warders being assaulted.

The issue came up of extending sentences already served when the prisoner is deemed to remain a menace to society. This to me is an affront to the rule of law: keeping people in prison on the statistical likelihood of their reoffending violates the notion of due process.

When a man has served his time, justice demands that he be released. Sentences should be long enough to begin with, and they shouldn’t be routinely cut in half by tariffs. Yet judges are instructed to be lenient (550 sentences were toughened up on appeal last year).

Miss Hirsch unwittingly agreed by saying that short sentences are just awful. Alas, she wasn’t arguing in favour of longer ones: she believed that, rather than being sent down for a short spell, a criminal shouldn’t go to prison at all.

Actually, if our prisons worked as they’re supposed to, I’d be in favour of short sentences for a first offence, to give criminals a taste of much longer ones to come if they reoffend. However, I didn’t make that point, nor many others: time had run out.

American political conservatism…

patbuchanan…and why there’s no such thing (as proved by Pat Buchanan).

An American may well be a cultural or even a social conservative. Political conservatism, however, is problematic.

A conservative is defined by what he wishes to conserve. In the West, that can only be Christendom, whatever is left of it. Its political essence is adequately expressed by the triad ‘God, king and country’, establishing the descending order of loyalties.

Now the US was the first political embodiment of the Enlightenment, brought about by the urge to replace Christendom with a civilisation based on secular desiderata. Hence the conservative triad fell by the wayside directly the USA was first constituted.

God was shunted aside by the First Amendment, which, as Jefferson gleefully declared, erected “a wall of separation” between the church and the state. King vanished by definition. Only country remained, and it had to work overtime to fill the void left by the other two components.

As early as 1630 the Puritan lawyer John Winthrop alluded to Matthew 5:14 by describing the new community as a ‘city upon a hill’. Thus he implicitly likened it to the beacon that shone the word of God onto the rest of the world.

Since he did so in a secular context, the religion based on that premise could only be secular. Hence it was really an ideology pretending to be a religion: simulacrum gone sanctimonious, the transient pretending to be transcendent. Rather than worshipping God, the new nation chose to worship itself.

A secular religion was born, and it affects Americans’ politics more than any other creed. Real religion is relegated to a purely private matter, having little to do with quotidian life.

Imitating Christianity, the faithful exponents of the American religion have bifurcated into hermetic and crusading strains. Nowadays they call themselves, respectively, paleoconservatives and neoconservatives.

The paleocons believe that America should mostly practise her incomparable virtue at home, thereby illuminating the righteous path for the rest of mankind to tread. The neocons believe in America’s mission – and right – to force recalcitrant nations to see the light.

None so hostile as divergent exponents of the same creed, and the two confessions of the American religion are at daggers drawn. This brings us to Pat Buchanan, the paleos’ flag-bearer, now that William F. Buckley is no longer with us.

Buchanan detests the neocons (who are indeed detestable) partly because they’ve won the battle for plum jobs in the academy and media, fields traditionally dominated by liberals (aka socialists).

The liberals sense kindred souls in the neocons. Sharing global ambitions, the two groups are committed to the big, omnipotent state, without which such ambitions can’t be pursued.

The neocons are typologically close, and therefore acceptable, to the liberals and welcome to their media. The paleos, on the other hand, are off limits, and their writers are mostly confined to small journals, such as The American Conservative started by Buchanan.

Buchanan also has visceral reasons to dislike the neocons: many of them are Jewish, and even Pat’s friends can’t deny his virulent anti-Semitism. For example, he once argued that Treblinka, where 900,000 Jews were murdered, “was not a death camp but a transit camp used as a ‘pass-through point’ for prisoners”.

Buckley, who loyally sprang to the defence of every fellow paleo, was unable to do so in Pat’s case. He wrote: “I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said… amounted to anti-Semitism.”

I don’t think Buchanan should be dismissed simply because he’s an anti-Semite. If we begin to ignore a man’s entire output for that reason, we’d have to shun such brilliant writers as Dostoyevsky, Chesterton, Belloc, Celine, Waugh et al.

However, when a man’s viscera defeats his reason so decisively, one suspects that the latter is flawed in other areas too, such as politics. Indeed, all the writers I’ve mentioned were often unsound in matters political. Buchanan is no exception, as his article on what he calls ‘the Trump Doctrine’ proves.

Buchanan takes this opportunity, as he always does, to lacerate the neocons. Now I dislike neoconservatism as much as he does (see my book Democracy As a Neocon Trick), but being wrong in general doesn’t mean being wrong in every particular.

True enough, the 2003 neocon-inspired invasion of Iraq was criminal and, which is worse, criminally stupid. An attempt to enforce heaven on earth can only create hell on earth, and so that foray has proved.

The neocons got intoxicated on the quasi-religious dogma of democracy and set out to shove it down the throat of every tribal society on earth. The Middle East didn’t swallow, and we’re all suffering from the resulting reflux (and influx).

But it doesn’t follow that everything the neocons support is nonsense, as Buchanan evidently believes: “They want to trash the Iran nuclear deal,” he writes, “though… U.S. intelligence agencies told us, with high confidence, in 2007 and 2011, Iran did not even have a nuclear weapons program.”

Buchanan’s faith in such agencies is touching. However, he ought to remember that they told us in 2003, with equally high confidence, that Iraq had WMDs, which precipitated the criminal folly of the invasion.

‘The Iran nuclear deal’ must be trashed, even though the neocons think so – the country isn’t developing long-range missiles to deliver Christmas cards, and Islam isn’t really a religion of peace.

Then Buchanan bewails the neocons’ desire “to confront Vladimir Putin, somewhere, anywhere. They want to send U.S. troops to the eastern Baltic…”

That’s the kernel of the ‘Trump Doctrine”. Buchanan believes that “America’s vital interests” can be served only internally. Whatever happens outside the country doesn’t matter. This is dangerous folly quite on the par with neocon belligerence.

“Mr. Trump,” continues Buchanan, “has the opportunity to be the president who, like Harry Truman, redirected U.S. foreign policy for a generation.”

God help us, the man is mad. For in the same paragraph (!) Buchanan then writes that Truman “adopted a George Kennan policy of containment of the world Communist empire, the Truman Doctrine, and sent an army to prevent South Korea from being overrun”.

This strikes me as rather the opposite of Buchanan’s isolationism. Unlike him, Truman realised that the “Communist empire” threatened the world, including America. Hence America had both a practical and moral duty to contain it by force.

If Buchanan doesn’t know that Putin’s KGB Russia is a continuation of ‘the Communist empire’, and what has changed isn’t the objectives but only the slogans, he’s ignorant. If he thinks that America no longer has a practical and moral duty to contain this empire, he’s mad.

His madcap ‘Trump Doctrine’ echoes in every detail the most nauseating propaganda emanating from Putin’s mouthpieces. (This came two days ago from Soloviov, one of Putin’s favourite TV shills: “Russia sits on a tectonic plate that stretches over the entire Eurasian continent. That’s why we simply can’t be a regional power. The Russians are an imperial people by their very nature.”)

NATO, he writes, should stop its eastward expansion, meaning it should let Putin reclaim all the former Soviet satellites. But there’s no such thing as NATO’s expansion. There’s only a welcome the West extends to the victims of Soviet monstrosity who wish to distance themselves from a KGB Russia – the memory of what the KGB did to them is still fresh.

Neither coercion nor propaganda is involved. Eastern Europeans join the West freely and of their own accord. Obviously Buchanan doesn’t realise that the West has a moral obligation to support their desire to be free. Real politik reigns.

As it did in Munich and Yalta, two exercises in real politik that emboldened two diabolical regimes. Opposing them then cost America hundreds of thousands of lives (never mind the millions of other lives; Buchanan never does), and trillions of dollars.

Considering the technological advances of which modernity is so proud, opposing Putin’s diabolical regime given a free rein would cost infinitely more in both categories. Is that real politik enough for Buchanan? Are we talking vital interests now?

Then he says we should ditch the “obsolete” Article 5 of NATO, which is tantamount to abandoning the concept of collective security and all “war guarantees that have no connection to U.S. vital interests.”

If Buchanan doesn’t see that NATO serves US vital interests, he’s displaying the same myopia as Chamberlain did at Munich and Roosevelt at Yalta. Actually, it’s more like glaucoma, characterised by a reduced field of vision.

Buchanan interprets American interests in terms that aren’t just cynical and amoral, but also practically ruinous. He thinks that betraying all America’s allies is the right thing to do, for at the moment America only needs trade partners, not allies. Such abandonment of morality and honour is incompatible with conservatism, in the real sense of the word.

But practically speaking, what if the need for allies arises, as it certainly will, when the rise of Putin’s empire begins to threaten US interests even as defined in Buchanan’s narrow terms? What then?

The man has served all Republican presidents from Nixon on. I pray that President Trump can find better advisors – and listen to them. Judging by his pronouncements so far, I fear he won’t.