February 4, 2006

UK Telegraph Rips Muslim Militants AND British Government’s Response

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:59 pm

No British reserve here, and it’s about time:

Democracy has a gun held to its head
(Filed: 05/02/2006)

Last week, Muslims marched in the centre of London chanting “Freedom go to Hell!” There could be no more graphic illustration of the paradox at the heart of the cartoon row. These protesters were exercising – and in many cases abusing – the freedom of protest and freedom of assembly that are foundation stones of British democracy. Yet, even as they exploited these hard-won liberties, they were calling for them to be abolished.

This newspaper would not have published the cartoons of Mohammed at the centre of this controversy, images which we regard as vulgar and fatuously insulting. But – and this is the crucial point – we reserve absolutely our right to make our own decision, free of threat and intimidation. The difficulty is that what started as an issue of editorial judgment has become a question of public order. The protesters in London with their disgraceful slogans – “Behead those who Insult Islam”, “Britain you will pay – 7/7 is on its way” – have made it all but impossible for a genuinely free debate on this issue to take place. All such debate is now being carried out in the shadow of murderous intimidation.

In this wretched affair, no sight has been more wretched than that of Jack Straw last week kowtowing to militant Islam. “There is freedom of speech, we all respect that,” the Foreign Secretary said, “but there is not any obligation to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory.” How pathetic that Mr Straw did not find time to condemn the outrageous behaviour of protesters at home and abroad. Where, also, was Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, as Islamic militants called for bloodshed?

The Government’s response is especially feeble when compared to Margaret Thatcher’s behaviour during the Rushdie Affair. Whatever her private feelings about the author, she and her Cabinet colleagues were resolute in their defence of his rights. Even before the fatwah, she declared that “it is an essential part of our democratic system that people who act within the law should be able to express their opinions freely”.

….. the British Government’s craven response has sent a terrible signal: those who wish to see free expression curtailed need only light a flame, issue a threat and wave an angry fist.

The bitter irony of the protests is that Britain proved itself after the July 7 bombings to be a tolerant, multi-cultural society. Quite rightly, the citizens of this country drew a sharp distinction between their law-abiding Muslim compatriots and the extremists responsible for the atrocities.

The problem is that militant Islam is not seeking a level playing field – equality before the law, for instance – but special treatment. Muslims expect, as they should, the benefits and protections of British pluralism but, in too many cases, baulk at the duties that are their corollary. One of those duties is to accept that, in a free society, there are occasions when each of us is bound to be offended…..

The abrasions of a modern, multi-faith society are constant and need to be negotiated calmly and diplomatically. The proper boundaries of speech, art and humour are matters for continuous democratic review and consultation. What is completely unacceptable is that this debate should be carried out in a climate of fear.

For let us not delude ourselves: it is violence, or the threat of violence, that has driven the decisions that have been made in the past week. At a time when reasonable dialogue is most needed, the supposed custodians of our democracy are allowing a gun to be held to its head.

Michelle Malkin’s “First They Came” Video

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 2:01 pm

I really haven’t wanted to comment on the Danish-Muslim cartoon controversy, because the points are totally obvious to anyone who loves freedom (Update — I just learned this afternoon that “progressives” are now calling the word “Freedom” the “F-bomb.” So I guess this 1960s anthem has about 18 “F-bombs” in it.).

Fortunately, Michelle Malkin has done a two-minute video that makes the points better than any post could.

You can view the video or download it at her site. Go there first.

In case the traffic at Michelle’s site goes bonkers, which could very well happen, I have copied the vid (WMV format) so you can view or download it HERE.

(Update: Thanks to Michelle for the mirror link to this post).

And here’s my token contribution to freedom of expression (HT Courageous Conservatism):



UPDATE: My dream Presidential ticket: Malkin for President, Anchoress as VP, with Atlas Shrugs as Secretary of State.

Atlas points out, thanks to e-mailer Tom (not me), that three of the cartoons used to incite the Muslim outrage were never published anywhere. Two media items relating to the extra cartoons are here and here (HT Mark in Mexico). Also (added Feb. 5), The Counterterrorism Blog exposes a double-talking Danish imam, and the UK Telegraph’s Charles Moore wonders how so many Danish flags can be at the ready for burning.

UPDATE 2: Right Wing Nut House has a great post on the difference between what the State Department really said, how the WORMs (Worn-Out Reactionary Media, known to most as The Mainstream Media) are (mis)reporting it, and the tactics used to create the misreportage.

UPDATE 3, Feb. 5: Mark Steyn, of course, totally gets it:

Jyllands-Posten (the Danish newspapers that printed the cartoons) wasn’t being offensive for the sake of it. They had a serious point ….. The cartoons accompanied a piece about the dangers of “self-censorship” — i.e., a climate in which there’s no explicit law forbidding you from addressing the more, er, lively aspects of Islam but nonetheless everyone feels it’s better not to.

That’s the question the Danish newspaper was testing: the weakness of free societies in the face of intimidation by militant Islam.

One day, years from now, as archaeologists sift through the ruins of an ancient civilization for clues to its downfall, they’ll marvel at how easy it all was. You don’t need to fly jets into skyscrapers and kill thousands of people. As a matter of fact, that’s a bad strategy, because even the wimpiest state will feel obliged to respond. But if you frame the issue in terms of multicultural “sensitivity,” the wimp state will bend over backward to give you everything you want — including, eventually, the keys to those skyscrapers. Thus, Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, hailed the “sensitivity” of Fleet Street in not reprinting the offending cartoons.

No doubt he’s similarly impressed by the “sensitivity” of Anne Owers, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, for prohibiting the flying of the English national flag in English prisons on the grounds that it shows the cross of St. George, which was used by the Crusaders and thus is offensive to Muslims. And no doubt he’s impressed by the “sensitivity” of Burger King, which withdrew its ice cream cones from its British menus because Rashad Akhtar of High Wycombe complained that the creamy swirl shown on the lid looked like the word “Allah” in Arabic script. I don’t know which sura in the Koran says don’t forget, folks, it’s not just physical representations of God or the Prophet but also chocolate ice cream squiggly representations of the name, but ixnay on both just to be “sensitive.”

And doubtless the British foreign secretary also appreciates the “sensitivity” of the owner of France-Soir, who fired his editor for republishing the Danish cartoons. And the “sensitivity” of the Dutch film director Albert Ter Heerdt, who canceled the sequel to his hit multicultural comedy ”Shouf Shouf Habibi!” on the grounds that “I don’t want a knife in my chest” — which is what happened to the last Dutch film director to make a movie about Islam: Theo van Gogh, on whose ”right to dissent” all those Hollywood blowhards are strangely silent. Perhaps they’re just being “sensitive,” too.

And perhaps the British foreign secretary also admires the “sensitivity” of those Dutch public figures who once spoke out against the intimidatory aspects of Islam and have now opted for diplomatic silence and life under 24-hour armed guard. And maybe he even admires the “sensitivity” of the increasing numbers of Dutch people who dislike the pervasive fear and tension in certain parts of the Netherlands and so have emigrated to Canada and New Zealand.

Very few societies are genuinely multicultural. Most are bicultural: On the one hand, there are folks who are black, white, gay, straight, pre-op transsexual, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, worshippers of global-warming doom-mongers, and they rub along as best they can. And on the other hand are folks who do not accept the give-and-take, the rough-and-tumble of a “diverse” “tolerant” society, and, when one gently raises the matter of their intolerance, they threaten to kill you, which makes the question somewhat moot.

One day the British foreign secretary will wake up and discover that, in practice, there’s very little difference between living under Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity and Sharia. As a famously sensitive Dane once put it, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

NAM Issues 5 Manufacturing Innovation Warning Signs

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:15 am

The National Association of Manufacturers can’t be accused of being a front for nutty gloom-and-doom economics, so when they raise warnings about eroding US manufacturing innovation and capabilities, it’s worth noticing.

Here their five warning signs that US manufacturing innovation is at risk:

  1. The growth in manufacturing output since the last recession is running at half the pace averaged in other recoveries of the past 50 years;
  2. Manufacturing capacity is barely growing;
  3. The US share of global trade has shrunk from 13 percent to 10 percent (in roughly the past 10 years). Germany has displaced the United States as the world’s largest exporter and we now run a trade deficit even in advanced technology products;
  4. New workers are discouraged from entering manufacturing and there is a shortage of skilled workers to replace older employees as they retire;
  5. US growth in R&D has been anemic in real terms since the turn of the century.

I have some responses, by no means complete:

  • At least it IS growing, and in the world we’re in you’d expect more growth in services. That isn’t to say manufacturing shouldn’t be growing faster than it currently is. Partial solutions: Modify zoning laws to make building plants more feasible. Make it easier for companies to take over abandoned facilities without having to take on environmental baggage left behind by previous and usually bankrupt owners. Reduce the corporate tax burden.
  • See Number 1.
  • There is much more global trade, so of course our share of it will go down, especially post-NAFTA. I’d like to know if the dollar amount of exports (ignoring imports) is still going up in real terms, and by how much.
  • This is a huge problem, because the media and schools have been disrespecting manufacturing in favor of more “glamorous” high tech and professional jobs for as long as I can remember.
  • Assuming they are only focusing on manufacturing R&D, they are probably right. It’s an issue of convincing companies to think past next quarter, and bright people to see a future in manufacturing research (see Number 4).

They have a web page summary and a link to the full report (PDF) here.

This Weekend’s Unanswered Questions (020406)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 8:11 am

This is another installment in a nearly-regular series of mysteries and pseudo-mysteries (usually 3-4) this inquiring mind would like to have answers for (some links included may require free registration).

QUESTION 1: How does the current unemployment situation stack up in historical perspective?

You can decide:


Oh, and a quick memo to NAACP Chairman Julian Bond: Polarize this (data obtained by selecting appropriate seasonally adjusted unemployment rate [UR] tables [Black UR; White UR unemployment; Gap]):

Jan. 2005 — 10.5%; 4.5%; 6.0%
Sept. 2005 — 9.5%; 4.5%; 5.0%
Oct. 2005 — 9.1%; 4.4%; 4.7%
Nov. 2005 — 10.6%; 4.2%; 6.4%
Dec. 2005 — 9.3%; 4.3%; 5.0%
Jan. 2006 — 8.9%; 4.1%; 4.8%

Despite a hiccup that can probably be traced to the disproportionate impact of Hurricane Katrina (because of the higher black populations in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, NOT because of discrimination) the gap between white and black unemployment has been trending downward — not that it would matter to Mr. Bond.

QUESTION 2: How many times do supply-side tax cuts have to bring in more revenue before people believe that they really do?

Don Luskin’s National Review piece proves that the 2003 capital gains tax cut more than paid for itself (as all the cap-gains cuts have), and defied the predictions of the Congressional Budget Office (as all the cap-gains cuts have):

Yes, instead of costing the government $27 billion in revenues, the tax cuts actually earned the government $26 billion extra.

CBO’s estimate of the “cost” of the tax cut was virtually 180 degrees wrong. The Laffer curve lives!

That’s a $53 billion swing.

Made 4 the Internet notes that George Voinovich doesn’t get it either. Zheesh.

QUESTION 3: How much worse can it get for Detroit’s traditional Big 3?

GM, Ford, and Daimler Chysler all had sales increases in January. Trouble is, the Japanese and others, with one exception, had blockbusters:


So, the market share of the Big Three went down yet again.

UPDATE: This excerpt from a Wall Street Journal editorial today (“Look Who’s Working“; requires subscription) wasn’t directed to Bond in Question 1, but might as well have been. As a bonus, it makes a great point about the effect of lowering the cap-gains tax rate in Question 2:

You also won’t hear much about the fact that the black unemployment rate in America has tumbled in the past three years to 8.9% from 11.5%. Hispanics have seen their jobless rate dip to 5.8% — nearly their lowest rate ever. Many Latino immigrants are filling employment demand at a record pace, suggesting that these newcomers are assimilating into the labor force fluidly and filling vital economic niches.

And so the American jobs machine rolls on. Will the critics now concede that the 2003 tax cuts were not just “giveaways to the rich?

Positivity: Baseball Field Named for Sparky Anderson

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:04 am

About a week ago, one of the class acts in sports got even more lasting recognition for his charitable work: