Category Archives: Politics

Oversight

Bill C 51 seems to be a relatively well thought through approach to the problem of combating terrorism in a free and democratic society. It will, likely, pass muster at the SCC and will allow CSIS to get up the noses of people who support terror. All good things.

But, and it is always a concern, government has a nasty tendency to take the powers it’s given and apply them in ways never within the contemplation of the legislation.

For example, the intention to disrupt a meeting of the G-20 whether in Canada or abroad, if there is even a hint of the physical could trigger the provisions of the bill. I might think G-20 protestors are dweebs but I think there is room for robust protest in the political sphere.

What happens if the Jewish Defense League decides to protest a speaker at Palestine House in Toronto. Or to counter march against the Musoloons the next time Hamas or Hezbollah attacks Israel? And what happens if I or BlazingCatFur put up a link to the protest or counter march?

Mark Steyn is worried.

And so he should be. At this point we are dealing with a Conservative government which has been pretty clear eyed about where the terrorist trouble is coming from.

“It doesn’t matter what the age of the person is, or whether they’re in a basement, or whether they’re in a mosque or somewhere else,” Harper said Friday in Richmond Hill, Ont. cbc

But what if the very dim Liberals are elected and have access to this same set of tools. It is not difficult to imagine that they would loose the dogs of CSIS on people engaged in Islamophobia (or what we call around here, clear thinking) or any other activity which does not contribute to Kumbaya Nation.

So C 51 needs one, large, effective block to its misuse: but what should that block be? The problem with security courts and the like is that they operate, of necessity, in secret. Is there a better way?

There might be. It seems to me that what we are really looking for is accountability and that can be created by using a degree of required, public, disclosure albeit after the fact. Basically, the security services could be required, in order to use the provisions of the new legislation, to file operational plans, including budgets, with specified goals and named targets. These plans would be filed by named agents and managers. (Names could be withheld from the public but would be available to Parliament in the second phase of the oversight.)

At the conclusion of the operation or at the expiration of three years, (extensions available if the government of the day applies to the Chief Justice), these operational plans (with redactions only to conceal the names of active agents), would be made publicly available and subject to a hearing of an all party Commons Committee for a value of service/common sense audit. The outcome of the operation would be disclosed as well. The committee would be charged with grading the operation and would have three grades available to it: commendation, pass, and fail. A finding of fail would mean that every agent and manager associated with the plan would summarily be fired and would not be eligible for further government service for their lifetimes.

Should concentrate the minds of our security people wonderfully.

Update: Welcome Free Speech Warriors from Blazing Catfur, Five Feet of Fury and Mark Steyn…

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Taking Islamic Terror Seriously

The Daily Mail, whose coverage of the Paris atrocity has been outstanding, reports that there have been at least three incidents of “revenge” attacks overnight. The attacks have focused on mosques and a kebab shop rather than on actual Muslims.

The desire to lash out at the symbols of Islam (and a kebab shop) makes sense in the wake of the atrocity; but it actually reflects the correct perception that the political class is incapable of anything beyond in the moment police work and platitudes as to how the Charlie Hebdo attack had nothing to do with Islam. All of which is an indication that the political classes don’t have a clue what to do about terrorism and it roots in Islam.

This is largely because the political classes are in a state of deep denial as to what might be termed the root causes of Islamic terror. Here’s a hint – it is Islam and at its very root, the Koran.

Assorted “far right” commentators have taken the time to read the Koran and have been shocked at what it contains. Understanding the texture of the Koran requires a bit of knowledge of Mohammed’s story and how that influenced the early Mecca portion of the Koran and the later, much more violent, Medina surah. (A quick guide can be found here.) The “death to the unbelievers” portions are generally from the later period.

I argued yesterday that Islam is not a religion. It is, however, a political cult based upon a willingness to spread its power by the sword. Jihad is not a peaceful inner struggle, it is a tactic with the strategic goal of converting or killing unbelievers. (And for all those ahistorical dimwits out there moaning about how Christians have killed for their faith, find a single gospel story where Jesus exhorted the faithful to murder “unbelievers”. You won’t.)

Against this view are arrayed a good deal of scholarship which suggest the admonitions of Allah through his prophet were situation specific and the Juden haus of the Koran was directed at specific tribes of obstinate Jews who got in the way of the spread of Islam. Which may very well be true, but the first thing a serious approach to Islamic terror needs to recognize is that this liberal interpretation of Islam is not what drives the terrorists.

One would think that would be obvious, but listening to the great and good exonerate Islam at large for the Paris atrocity it becomes obvious they are willfully blind to the interpretation of the Koran which fuels Islamic terror. So long as the political class takes this Pollyanna approach there is not the slightest chance Islamic terror will be taken seriously enough to be defeated.

Rather than taking the mildest, most liberal, construction of the Koran, politicians and opinion leaders need to look at the darkest, nastiest, most brutal interpretation which, in fact, drives the lone wolves, the wolf packs and outfits like IS and Hamas. It is that dark version of Islam which implies a never ending war, mandated by God, until the Peace of Submission encompasses the entire world.

Armed with that understanding, the political class will be able to intellectually, and eventually tactically, separate the sheep from the goats. Understanding the dark, violent, side of Islam is the only way to beat Islamic terrorists. And to reach that understanding, the political class will have to actually learn some history and read within the Wahabbi and Safalist traditions. When they do they will discover that Islam is not, by the lights of its terrorist theologians, a religion so much as a complete tactical guide for the forceful conversion of all non-Muslims.

Happy clappy, kumbaya approaches to Islam which have so far characterized the Western elite’s limited engagement with the problem, rest on the presumption that only a tiny minority of Muslims accept the dark vision of Islam triumphant by the sword. To address Islamic terror that presumption needs to be tested against reality.

There is a fair bit of survey research which suggests that Muslims in Middle Eastern and European countries are broadly supportive of sharia law. A significant minority indicate support for the bloodier forms of jihad including IS and Hamas. Digging into this support will identify the sources of these profoundly anti-democratic views.

A root cause is just that: a cause to which specific acts of terror and support for terror can be traced. For example, it may well turn out that the Paris murderers were influenced by a specific imam, or a specific book or website. And there is where the pushback needs to happen.

Randomly bombing kabab shops will do nothing to address the roots of Islamic terrorism. Deporting radical imams, closing Islamic bookshops which sell hate literature and shutting down Islamic websites which support violent jihad are all easily justified and potentially effective ways of countering radical Islam.

As importantly, creating a chilly climate for Islamists is the least Western societies can do to protect themselves. Ending immigration from Muslim nations without positive security and cultural vetting – which will, because of the resources required, slow immigration to a trickle – is a necessary first step. Prohibiting the construction of mosques on the basis that they are political rather than religious buildings is another useful step. Cancelling the so called “reasonable accommodation” provisions which create gender segregation and allow self ghettoization should make Western countries less attractive.

Creating a hostile environment for Islamic terrorists will, necessarily, create a somewhat unpleasant environment for non-terrorist Muslims. Tough. There is no reason to accord a political movement’s members any privileges which are not enjoyed by the rest of the society. If someone shows up for a job interview wearing Nazi regalia we expect that fact to be taken into account. The political dress adopted by Muslims in the West should have exactly the same status.

A serious, measured, approach grounded in an understanding of Islam as a political movement with totalitarian aims will begin the process of defeating Islamic terror. The time to start was twenty years ago, but today will have to do.

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Long views

A long break from writing my blog but not from thinking about the questions which drive it.  In the interim we have seen the rise of IS, the economic laming of Europe, the collapse of high oil prices and the end of the Democratic Congress.

Oh and I nearly forgot, the end of alarmist climate change as anything but a fringe issue… When you are reduced to the Pope and Prince Charles you know that the shark jump has occurred.

At end I have been reading history and Gore Vidal’s essays and Proust. To really get a handle on IS you need a sense of the murderous history of the Near and Middle East. To capture the spirit of massacre which permeates the politics of the Levant you need to recognize that it stretches all the way back to the Early Byzantine. If you want to understand the nastiness of elements of Sicilian and Spanish cultural attitudes towards women you have to see how far into Europe Islam advanced. Similarly it is useful to know that before the Islamic invasion much of the Middle East was Christian, pagan or Jewish. The Crusaders, in their brutish way were protecting Christian holy places from invaders. (Not that the Crusaders were adverse to killing the Jews as well as Muslims in wholesale numbers. Not to mention attacking Byzantine, populated by fellow Christians.)

When you get a bit of a historical feel for the place a lot of the vexed questions of whose land is it vanish – it is contested land open to whomever can hold it. So then the question become who would we like to hold it. And that question can be answered in a number of defensible ways.

So, back to blogging. It is an emptier world than when I tapered off. But it will be interesting to see who is new.

Go Kurds, GO!

http://time.com/2898883/iraq-turkey-kurd-isis/

If there is any glimmer of light in the Iraq debacle it is that the Kurt are well on their way to sovereignty. The crazed Arabs and equally insane Persians will fight it all out. The Kurt will hold their borders, straighten their lines, and be recognised as a state. One which will prosper and ignore the idiotic of the sale fists and the Khomanists.

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The Reality Deficit

Newly elected Premier Wynne is about to run into the fact the bond raters don’t think much of the most progressive budget in Ontario history.

It turns out that the Sunni Triangle never went away and the jihad is are taking full advantage.

The IRS has “lost” two critical year of email communications with external agencies on its targeting of Tea Party groups.

Surface temperatures are the wrong way to measure the effects of global warming/climate change (possibly because they don’t show any for the last 17 years).

The promise of amnesty, or even its discussion, leads to waves of illegal migrants.

Humans, especially well meaning, sincere, progressive humans, like to be optimistic believing that an appeal to our better angels will somehow change facts so as to fit the preferred narrative. They hope that human nature, and indeed mother nature, will see the justice of their cause and adjust itself accordingly.

Suggesting otherwise makes one a racist or a denier or an islamophobe or some sort of xenophobe. The bond raters and climate scientists and policy analysts rude enough to pay attention to reality are excluded, attacked and marginalised.

Which creates what I would describe as a reality deficit. It is very difficult to get big questions exactly right. Every answer to a big question will be a little bit wrong in its details. It will be an approximation subject to revision as more information and data is brought to bear on the question. Sensible people understand this.

However, when new information or data is ignored, suppressed or filtered through an ideological lens understanding is undermined. The narrative begins to depart from its underlying reality.

As the reality deficit grows the ability of policy makers to reach good decisions is diminished. In the long run this is a self correcting problem. But the cost and pain of adjustment back to reality is huge and grows with every decision made on faulty data or flawed premise.

Whether it is government spending, climate policy, the legal morass of the IRS or a pragmatic response to the jihad is the bigger the reality deficit the nastier the adjustment shock.

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Ukraine and Folly

It was wonderful to see Russia take one on the nose when the corrupt, pro-Russian President was sent packing. However, the reality of the ethnic mix in the Ukraine means that the Eastern side of the mainland and Crimea are not a natural fit for Ukraine.

Ceding that territory or turning it into one or two quasi states would be painful but far better than having a full scale war or an ongoing civil war.

Rebuilding a smaller but ethnically more homogeneous Ukraine should be the focus of the West’s efforts. And, realistically, that is about all the West has the capacity to do in any event.

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Venezuela | Ukraine

First this:

http://daniel-venezuela.blogspot.ca/2014/02/the-deed-is-done-with-lopez-in-regimes.html

Then this:

The dingbats on the Left don’t want to know. Mass demonstrations and heroic leaders who are real get in the way of the Narrative.

And then this:

Across the world tyranny, Left tyranny, is under siege.

With luck, and God’s help, the people, the real people, will win.

Which, delightfully, will spoil the Dawg’s whole day.

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Prostitution is not Illegal

(I posted this at Kate’s but it seems to be hung in moderation.)

The prior state of the law was that prostitution was legal but associated activities were not. This meant that smart, pretty, girls could engage in a perfectly legal business and did. Dumb, addicted, ugly or simply desperate girls were are the mercy of the streets, pimps and cops.

By striking down the laws surrounding prostitution as disproportionate to the “evil” being prevented, the Supreme Court was actually noticing the effect of the criminalization of what was, at its core, a legal activity.

Now, if you do not like the exchange of sex for money you can lobby the Cons to make prostitution itself illegal. This will have two effects: it will subject the less successful prostitutes to greater risk and more harassment and it will, to a degree, raise prices across the board. It will not, of course, eliminate or, in all likelihood, even significantly reduce the incidence of women becoming prostitutes.

If the Cons are unwilling to make prostitution illegal – and I can’t imagine why they would want to as there are not a lot of votes in it – the alternatives are to go for no legal regime at all or to actually consider what law might address the evils so eloquently stated by the moralists above.

“Living off the avails” is a silly way to attempt to curtail pimping. A more sensible solution would be to create an offence which makes it illegal to coerce people – and it is not just women – into the sex trade. Make it a serious offence that could be added to other criminal charges.

The communications offence is just dumb in the context of a legal enterprise and will stay dumb no matter how it is tweaked.

The “brothel” offence is more a matter of municipal regulation than a concern of the Criminal Law. It should not be impossible to restrict locations in a discriminatory way. Think neighbourhood pub regulations.

The happy thought that somehow girls will line up to be licensed, examined and taxed is more than a little crazy. However, it might be possible to require identification and medical certification in licensed brothels. But, realistically, most of the girls will continue to work in the legal, unregulated, sector.

The illusions of using the law to regulate sexuality is a hang over from the moralizers of the 19th century. Both in England and in the United States the use of the law for “progressive” ends lead to the attempt to make prostitution, gambling, drugs, pornography and alcohol illegal. In every case, the only thing these laws accomplished to raise the prices to the point where organized crime became focussed on these areas.

The Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue is the motto of the Saudi religious police and do gooders everywhere. It never works and almost always creates misery, tyranny and crime. The SCC has made the right decision, now lets see if the Cons are smart enough to leave well enough alone.

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Mandela dead

The BBC tells us that Nelson Mandela is dead.

I suspect more than a few right wing commentators will greet the news with undisguised delight. And the MSM will run long, turgid, hagiographies about a man who has become a lefty secular saint.

Mandela was the symbol which broke the back of apartheid. He was also the only black South African who could negotiate the transition to black majority rule. In that sense he was and will remain a pivotal figure in the history of the modern world.

But his negotiation and the power which backed it was a facade behind which the unreadiness of the black African majority in South Africa to assume power was carefully hidden. And the history of South Africa since the end of apartheid has striped away that facade.

South Africa is well on its way back to Third World status. Crime, blackouts, racial violence have all escalated with the advent of black majority rule.

Commentators have suggested that the long life of Nelson Mandela has kept something of a lid on the more savage possibilities South Africa has to contend with.

We are about to find out.

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