Seething On The Road

June 23, 2007

Away for a week, next post July 1 unless I find a connection along the way.

As you’d expect, my mission is to inflict death and destruction on those sons of dogs (AKA P***s) who have insulted HM The Queen.

Just kidding.


Day Of The Oxymoron

June 23, 2007

It’s been one of those days.

UN/Iran Action Plan

(UN) officials spoke amid signs that Tehran was ready for concessions, with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency saying Iran’s chief negotiator had agreed to draw up a “plan of action” within two months on how to resolve questions about Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei described the two-hour meeting with Ali Larijani as” quite satisfying.”

A promise from ElBaradei and the Mullahs, and $4, buys you a Grande Caffe Latte.

EU leaders strike deal on ‘reform treaty‘

Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, claimed to have dealt a blow to the “dogma” of competition after European Union leaders struck a deal on a new “reform treaty” in marathon talks that ended in the early hours of Saturday.

Mr Sarkozy said the new treaty opened the door for the creation of “European champions”, after he secured the deletion of the words “undistorted competition” from the EU’s objectives.

“The word “protection” is no longer taboo,” he said. “Competition as an ideology, as a dogma, what has it done for Europe?”

Well Nico, competition made the US economy soo big that it was able to liberate the future EU states from the Nazis, then flood Europe with Marshall Aid, then stop the USSR taking Europe over, and now protect Europeans’ asses.

Still, it’s pleasing to see our judgment of this small French person vindicated.

The First Environmentalists

June 23, 2007

A UN panel explains Global Warmening forced the National Islamic Front government of Sudan to commit genocide in Darfur. It’s been burning villages and murdering their inhabitants since 1989 – way before GW became holy writ.

That makes Sudan’s leaders the pioneers of CO2 reduction – 400,000 dead villagers don’t exhale or drive SUVs.

Climate change – with its associated failure of rains and expansion of deserts – lies at the heart of the bloody conflict in Darfur, a panel of United Nations scientists said yesterday.

They gave warning that Sudan was unlikely to achieve peace until it tackled the accelerating environmental damage responsible for exacerbating tribal and political tensions.

“Political tensions” is UN Speak for (my ellipsis):

…conflict-affected civilians (have) grown to 4.7 million, according to the latest UN figures; and hundreds of thousands have died.

…the real explanation to genocide in Darfur lies not in the climate but in the ruthless arrogation of national power and wealth by the brutal regime that rules in Khartoum.

Since coming to power by military coup in 1989, deposing an elected government and deliberately aborting Sudan’s most promising chance for a north-south peace since independence in 1956, the National Islamic Front (which has innocuously renamed itself the National Congress party) has engaged in a vast campaign of ethnically-targeted human violence and destruction throughout Africa’s largest nation: in the Nuba mountains, in southern Sudan, in the southern Blue Nile, in the eastern provinces (particularly among the Beja), and most conspicuously in Darfur.

Back in 1989, we were just coming out of the Global Coldening Crisis. But the far-sighted National Islamic Party saw Global Warmening coming, and instituted its own firm-but-fair CO2 minimization.

The UN should – and doubtless will – give these guys a medal.

Crooks Are Rarer Than Despots

June 22, 2007

This week’s news should not cause Europeans to congratulate themselves on the superiority of their legal systems.

Although elected prosecutor Nifong was a crook, he was exposed and removed, and his case was rare. Whereas Libby’s despotic prosecutor and judge, both unelected in the European manner, are legally untouchable. And very common.

So, on balance, electing law enforcers beats giving them jobs for life.

Dorothy Rabinowitz in the WSJ:

For Mr. Fitzgerald, whose prosecutorial zeal and moral certitude are in no small way reminiscent of Mr. Nifong’s, the victory was complete with.. the severe sentence for Mr. Libby, and the judge’s refusal, last week, to allow its postponement pending appeal.

The prosecutor’s argument for a heavy sentence emphasized Mr. Libby’s alleged serious obstruction of justice–a complicated effort, considering that there was no underlying crime, or evidence thereof, and that this case, which had begun in alleged pursuit of the leak of a covert agent’s identity was, as the prosecutor himself would finally contend, not about that leak at all.

The obligation to truth, the prosecutor argued, was of the highest importance, and one in which Mr. Libby had failed by perjuring himself. It would be hard to dispute the first contention. It is no less hard to avoid the memory of Mr. Fitzgerald’s own dubious relation to truth and honesty–as, for example, in his failure to disclose that he had known all along the identity of the person who had leaked the Valerie Plame story. That person, he knew, was Richard Armitage, deputy to Colin Powell.

Not only had he concealed this knowledge–in what was, supposedly all that time, a quest to discover the criminals responsible for the leak of a covert agent’s name–he had instructed both Mr. Armitage and his superior, Colin Powell, in whom Mr. Armitage had confided, not to reveal the truth.

Interrogating a man you know to be innocent in the hope of catching him out is entrapment.

Both cases illustrate the differences between the US and European legal systems.

The US practice of electing law enforcers makes them responsive to the people. Nifong’s case shows it can go wrong, but the he was found out and easily removed.

By contrast, consider Libby’s prosecutor and judge.

Fitzgerald was appointed by Congress so can do as he likes. The judge was appointed for life by the current president.

Our earlier analysis of the performance of the Supreme Court suggests that about 40% of appointees have the character weakness that makes them despotic as soon as they’re ensconced in jobs-for-life.

Sadly for Libby, he was landed with two despots. That’s not surprising since the chances of both prosecutor and judge being despots is 40%*40%. That’s 16%, and you’d never fly an airline that crashed one time in seven.

Whereas the chances of a Nifong have to be very much lower than 40%. And you can get rid of them.

So elections beat appointments.

Incidentally, if I read the judge’s bio right, he only spent 3 years studying law. Isn’t that a flimsy basis for such high office?

There Goes The Neighborhood

June 22, 2007

The new French President just removed the notion of competition from the proposed EU constitution, making the EU useless for the Brits. One wonders when they’ll notice.

(my ellipsis):

The European Union’s 50-year-old commitment to “undistorted competition” has been scrapped from a list of the bloc’s objectives in a French coup that lawyers argue could undermine Brussels’ fight against protectionism and illegal state aid.

Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, secured the change, on the eve of an already tense Brussels summit to allay concerns in his country that the EU has become too “Anglo-Saxon”.

The surprise move came as EU leaders gathered in Brussels to try to agree a revamped version of the bloc’s moribund constitutional treaty. The new text would update the Union’s rules and create a new EU president and foreign minister.

Mario Monti, the former EU competition commissioner who clashed with Mr Sarkozy over the French bail-out of the engineering giant Alstom, said the change would undermine the Commission’s role as an antitrust watchdog, including taking on multinational giants, including ones based in the US…

The proposed deletion of competition – one of the Union’s founding objectives – was smuggled into the draft treaty by the German EU presidency.

In the original constitution, one of the Union’s main objectives was listed as “an internal market where competition is free and undistorted”. France has now persuaded Berlin to put a full stop (period) after the words “internal market” in the new treaty.

Most EU nations are lowish trust – the Brits are the only big exception – and low trust nations have mostly family businesses plus a few state-funded champions, like Airbus.

The Franco-German hack makes it OK for the French, Italians, Spanish, Germans, Greeks etc to favor their local companies with subsidies and sweetheart procurement deals, and to sandbag nasty foreign competitors.

In the short term, that doesn’t hurt most EU nations since they’re net beneficiaries of EU funding, most of which comes from the Germans and Brits.

But the Brits are high trust and their economy is fueled by the dreaded undistorted competition.

So now Brit businesses will be shut out of the EU while Brit taxpayers provide the bulk of its funding.

That’s not going to work, but it’ll be interesting to see how long the Brits take to wise up.

Mapping America

June 21, 2007

This is an ingenious map of the US that replaces the states with nations with similar GDP and, in some cases, tendencies.

Hat tip Spectator Blog, from fellow WordPress blog, strange maps.

In my experience, these seem appropriate matches:

California <=> France.

Connecticut <=> Greece (although the Greeks didn’t pioneer Kelo)

Louisiana <=> Indonesia

Massachusetts <=> Belgium

Minnesota <=> Norway

New Hampshire <=> Bangladesh (although NH is colder)

New Jersey <=> Russia (although Russia is a bit more law-abiding)

Oregon <=> Israel (Israeli is drier, but they’re both Intel shops)

Some matches are less pleasing.

For example, Texans are not going to be happy at being paired with Canada. And matching DC with New Zealand is going to cause big trouble down under…

Economists readers are requested not to spoil a good story by mentioning Purchasing Power Parity.

Fair’s Fair

June 21, 2007

Frau Merkel is pushing her revived EU Constitution to enable Germany (based on having the biggest population) to have the biggest clout in the EU, and for said EU to dictate the foreign policies of its member states.

So it’s reasonable for other nations to argue their populations would be bigger if they hadn’t been slaughtered by the Germans in WW2.

First, the London Times (my ellipsis)

(Thierry Roge/Reuters)

Protesters hold placards of the EU leaders in Brussels. Many (EU leaders) are keen to avoid a referendum on the new treaty being negotiated in the next 48 hours.

What Germany wants:

The 500 million Europeans must speak with a single voice on global issues, Frau Merkel will insist, which means resurrecting the content of the constitution, but calling it a treaty instead.

What this means will become clearer at the summit, but at a minimum it would give the EU a “legal personality,” with a European foreign minister negotiating with above the heads of its member states. This would have made it harder for dissidents such as Prime Minister Blair to defy their partners by sending troops to Iraq.

But the Poles are playing hardball (my ellipsis):

Mr Kaczynski (Polish Prime Minister) said a proposed new EU voting formula based on population size hurt his country because it had not recovered from the losses suffered during the war…

Under the proposed “double majority” voting formula, a majority consists of 55 per cent of member states and 65 per cent of the Union’s population.

Germany, with 82 million people, benefits most from the new system, while Poland, with 38 million people, loses relative power, compared to its more populous neighbour…

“We are only demanding that we get back what was taken from us,” Mr Kaczynski said…

“If Poland had not had to live through the years of 1939-45, Poland would be today looking at the demographics of a country of 66 million.”

He’s right – the Germans killed about 6 million Poles in WW2, plus millions more from other nations now EU members.

Germans might argue they were victims too, so their loss of population should be factored in to current EU voting.

But since they started the war, that’s bunk, and the Poles have it.

But I fear Germany and its ally France will get their treaty, regardless of the views of the taxpayers.