Friday, July 23, 2004

The War Comes To The Times ...

Mrs Rod Liddle uses the Letters page of the Times to reveal that Viagra may be purchased in East Sheen.

A more sympathetic portrait of Ms Royce here.

Rachel Royce of HTV, with horse (but not Strummer)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

BBC In '9/11 Relative Not Critical Of Bush' Shock

Driving home, listening to the BBC's "PM" programme as they reported on the 9/11 commission and the reaction of the victims' relatives. I expected the usual anti-Bush tirade (where was Greg Palast ?) and was fascinated to hear the views of a calm and articulate lady called Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles Burlingame, one of the Flight 77 (the plane which hit the Pentagon) pilots.

I'd never heard of her before, but a quick Google turned up this superb piece which seems to have been extensively blogged Stateside. Read the whole thing (henceforth RTWT).

So I'll just concentrate on a couple of the things she said in her interview (approx 44 minutes in - use the keys in the pop-up to navigate).

The link will expire tomorrow at 6 pm GMT, so here's an 860K mp3 version (right mouse click, 'save Target as'). Bloggers with more bandwidth than I are welcome to copy it and post elsewhere (then let me link to it).

On free speech and some 9/11 relatives

"They .. criticised the commission when they felt the questions were too soft, and applauded the commission when some of the questions were particularly partisan - I think they have alienated not only other 9/11 family members but also the public at large."

"Don't they have a right to do that ?"

"Absolutely. No one's ever saying they don't have the right to do that - but then you have to submit to the criticism as well. You know, one of the wonderful things about this right of free speech is it is a double-edged sword ..."

On George Bush

"I voted for President Clinton both times he ran for President, I supported Vice-President Gore in his bid for the Presidency, and I didn't particularly like President Bush - (laughs) in point of fact I didn't like President Bush - and then after 9/11 I wasn't really so much focused so much on the man as on the mission. I had the same caricature of him that I think a lot of people had - and still do have - which is this arrogant cowboy who will shoot from the hip - and I thought God help us. And he started doing things that completely thwarted that expectation. It's completely wrong that he's not particularly smart - he's a very smart man. He's deeply committed - I think he's quite a visionary, and he's staked everything on what he believes - very courageously.

I have been a lifelong Democrat and I haven't changed party affiliation. But I am supporting President Bush in this coming election - because I think he gets it, because he understands."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The AL Kennedy Fanclub ...

Just grows and grows. Rob Hinkley is the latest convert.

Sense Of Humour Crisis

In one Mary Honeyball, MEP, after UKIP's Godfrey Bloom joined the EU Parliament women's rights committee with the magnificent quip "I am here to represent Yorkshire women, who always have dinner on the table when you get home."

"Mary Honeyball, a Labour colleague on the women's rights committee, suggested an investigation of his business practices by a discrimination tribunal."

Brilliant. The new Labour elite at their finest. "I disagree with what you say, so I will use the State to harass you". In a previous existence Ms Honeyball was a probation officer, dedicated to keeping real criminals out of jail in order to make room for villains like Mr Bloom.

(Ms Honeyball is also a military analyst of repute ('war is indeed a gendered activity'), pointing out that "Almost all the fighters in Afghanistan and indeed every other war are men." Other website articles describe the sky as 'blue' and mention that water runs downhill.)

This woman makes Jonathan Freedland look like a democrat.

UPDATE - this blogger is undergoing a similar crisis to Ms Honeyball. "I would like any who meets Godfrey Bloom in a dark alley to beat the living daylights out of him". Sorry, what's that definition of fascism again ?

Government By Plebiscite ?

Jonathan Freedland's remarkable idea of democracy in the Guardian.

"... when close to a majority of the country reaches a settled will on a matter of great import, that surely shouldn't be ignored. Yet the war went ahead anyway, endorsed by a large majority in the House of Commons. Whatever your views on the Iraq question, this surely amounted to a democratic failure: the system did not fully reflect the views of the people it is meant to represent."

Apparently a large majority in the House of Commons amounts to 'democratic failure'. I think it's called representative democracy, Jonathan - we've had it for some years now.

On an 'either-or' issue like going to war, where the country is fairly evenly split (I like that 'close to a majority', Jonathan - doesn't that imply 'not a majority' ?), ANY decision will not fully reflect the views of the people.

And when did the views of the people count for much with a Guardian columnist anyway ? Aren't they populist bigots ? Of course they aren't - as long as they agree with us.

Democracy - Guardian style.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Crime And Moral Panic

I can't be bothered with why it's all the 1960s fault either, Norm. And I've been dismantling a greenhouse - somewhat tired. So here's an old bulletin board post and a few useful links.

Liberals say that crime has been falling since 1995 and that those who worry about it are guilty of ‘moral panic’. They quote approvingly the Guardian’s favourite criminologist Jock Young, of Middlesex University (formerly Hounslow Technical College).

Two teensy pointettes – it is true that overall crime has been falling since 1995, in line with the increased use of imprisonment pioneered, against the advice of the entire liberal establishment, by Michael Howard. It is the continuation of this policy by Jack Straw and David Blunkett which is deplored by the Guardianistas.
Jock Young was one of the first criminologists to accept that rising crime (1960-1990) was a reality rather than the result of ‘moral panic’. Despite this, he’s in the forefront of the ‘prison doesn’t work’ brigade. Those who wish to read more of him than a Guardian article are recommended to read his chapter in the book ‘Does Prison Work’ (available from in which two anti-prison sociologists debate crime and punishment with two realists. I don’t find his arguments convincing – he’s VERY selective in his use of data and has that leftish propensity to avoid a losing argument by concentrating on the (perceived) political beliefs of his opponent.

One large pointette – the idiotic idea that people concerned about crime are guilty of ‘moral panic’. Overall crime has fallen since 1995 (though violent crimes including homicide have increased), but crime is still at historically unprecedented levels. At the Office of National Statistics there were in 2002 a few Jubilee pages comparing life in 1952 with 2002. The page on crime showed it’s running at something like 10 times 1952 levels (and the number of prisoners has doubled).

I wrote some time ago on another website

Stay in Denial - the way to keep your idealism.

The pro-criminal lobby have reacted to the enormous growth in crime over the last 50 years with three distinct and successive strategies, the Three Stages of Denial.

First, they denied that crime had increased at all - society was merely in the grip of periodic 'moral panic' on the part of the old or ill-informed, aided and abetted by those sinister forces in society (the Daily Mail again ?) who wanted more power for the police. The old had always criticised the morality of the young throughout history - therefore concerns about crime were not justified and were a cultural phenomenon - the result of the old failing to accept the new-found freedoms of the young. This argument was common in the 1970's - Stanley Cohen's book 'Folk Devils and Moral Panics' is a typical and influential example.

But as the 1970s rolled on the inexorable increase in crime figures could not be ignored - a new explanation was necessary. So secondly, it was conceded that reported crime had increased, but that this was not due to changes in the actual crime rate, but due to changes in society. 'More people have phones, so it's easier to report'. 'More people have insurance, and so must report offences which they previously wouldn't have reported'. 'People report crimes now which they would have accepted in past times'. 'The police are inflating the figures to justify demanding increased resources'. The riots of the 1980s and 1990s and the flood of reports from the inner-city terraced streets and edge of town estates provided the evidence which finally killed this 'theory'. To quote Norman Dennis, 'by the mid-1990s ... the pernicious consensus was crumbling under the sheer weight of the facts that contradicted it'. It had only taken 25 years, years of unremitting rises in crime, for the fact of increased crime to sink in. But hang on, it couldn't be the criminals' fault. Whose fault was it, then ?

Suddenly there was an avalanche of theories designed to explain the rise in crime that had previously been denied. Bad housing, unemployment, the design of estates - all manner of physical, mechanistic explanations for crime. And the greatest of these was poverty. From the Church of England's 'Faith in the City' report in 1986 to the many reports of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Child Poverty Action Group, the message, put simply, was 'they thieve because they're poor'. And there was great political utility in this view during the Thatcher years. The same people on the 'left' who in the 1970s had characterised paid employment as soulless capitalist wage-slavery, the cause of alienation, suddenly decided that paid employment was a basic human right the ABSENCE of which caused alienation, of which crime was one symptom. Again put simply, the answer to the question 'whose fault was it, then ?' was 'THATCHER !'. So we have the third stage of denial - that yes, there is a lot of crime, but a) it's caused by poverty and our unjust society b) nothing can be done about it without relieving poverty/creating social justice.

There is only one problem with this view - it's contradicted by all the evidence. The evidence in favour of the view is basically - 'many criminals are poor, therefore poverty causes crime'. Unfortunately our great-grandparents (or grandparents if you're decrepit as I am) lived in conditions of much greater poverty and committed practically no crime.

Ah, say the pro-criminals, but it's RELATIVE poverty that counts. Again, alas, relative poverty was greater in the 20's and 30's - and it was rapidly decreasing during the 60s and 70s when crime was rising fast. For a comprehensive demolition of the crime/poverty equation Norman Dennis' book 'The Invention of Permanent Poverty' available from is a rattling good read. But for the Howard League, NACRO and their many, many political allies it is is almost impossible to conceive of crime as being the result of rational decisions taken by rational if unpleasant people. It must always be someone else's fault. Personal responsibility isn't a concept they're terribly keen on.

Norman Dennis
'Rising Crime and the Dismembered Family' can be downloaded here.
'The Invention of Permanent Poverty' can be purchased here (you can never get anywhere, at any price, a product quite so thrilling).
'Families without Fatherhood' may be downloaded here.

Ray Mallon, Ray Bratton et al - 'Zero Tolerance' may be downloaded here.

Charles Murray
'Underclass' here.
'Underclass +10' here.

Also see my Crime links.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Summer In The City

Dalrymple on multiculturalism, Michael Beran on learning poetry by rote, Heather MacDonald on Hispanic street gangs - the new Manhattan City Journal is out. Read the whole thing.

A Problem Shared Is A Problem Halved

British Spin seems to be picking up my sick AL Kennedy fetish. That's the second time he's noticed - not so much that she's not very good (or we'd blog about Zoe Williams every week), but that she seems somewhat deranged.
Reading these commentaries is like talking to an alcholic with extremely bad breath. You know there is a point being made, but the fumes and the stink make you utterly unable to focus on it.
I think a penchant for reading her columns is more like spotting someone in the street with a hideous deformity. It's awful, but can you look away ?
Norm can.

Toynbee's Children - US Chapter

Whatever the reason, it should be enough that a woman does not want a child. How dare the state force them? How dare anyone judge them?
You said it - whatever the reason.
"I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise."
The sentiments, apparently, of a modern feminist.
Emmeline Pankhurst is currently rotating at 8,500 rpm.
Via Dumb Jon.

BBC Bias Part 872

So Blunkett has yet another crime initiative on the go, and the BBC Today programme feel the need for a 5-minute opinion piece at 8.10 am on a Monday. Who better to deliver it than Claire Fox, the Marxist director of the Institute of Discredited Ideas ?
Once again we marvel at the neutrality of the BBC, happy to criticise a Tory Government (from the left) but just as capable of criticising a Labour government (from the left). What could be more even-handed ?