Patterico's Pontifications


Labour’s Campaign Manifesto: Same Old, Same Old

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:18 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Ten days out from the U.K.’s coming election and the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn has released its campaign platform, more stylishly described by our overseas cousins as a manifesto. Over at City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple makes an effective argument that Labour essentially calls for left-wing “quasi-totalitarianism,” empowering bureaucracies, trade unions, and public sector employees, the same formula that brought Britain to the brink of insolvency in the mid-Seventies before Margaret Thatcher was invited by Her Majesty to form a government.

Labour is betting that the people of Great Britain desire sweeping change. Whereas the word “radical” is largely eschewed by Democrats and Republicans here in the U.S., except when describing an opponent’s ideas, Mr. Corbyn and his leadership embrace it, promising in their preamble “Our manifesto is the most radical, hopeful, people-focused, fully-costed plan in modern times.” And they ain’t just whistling Dixie. Naturally, Labour favors all of the trendy Green ideas, but where the American left invokes what they believe was a golden age of government activism by calling their economic restructuring “the Green New Deal,” the British left ironically invokes what many of them believe was the historic ruin of their homeland by dubbing their plan “the Green Industrial Revolution.” It’s a platform that our delightfully clueless but earnest niece might recognize, praising windmills and solar panels while inveighing against cow farts and fossil fuel emissions; fetishizing public transportation while decrying private automobiles and ride-share companies; promising to seize energy and water systems from private hands and placing them into public ownership, though unconvincingly insisting that they will be community-owned and not micromanaged from London. In fact, much of the entire platform promises that the newly empowered government regulators will operate on a local, community-based level, which is certainly an attempt to allay the fears of rural residents that they will be thoroughly brought under the thumb of Whitehall.

The rest of the manifesto is no better than the green dreck. Like American Democrats, Labour no longer spends money, it “invests” in social projects. So the new railways, upgraded highways (at the same time they are discouraging private automobile travel), bike paths, pedestrian ways, etc. will naturally pay dividends of some sort, probably in securing the vote of all of the construction workers who will be employed by this taxpayer largesse. In fact, Labour unsurprisingly wants to “rebuild” the public sector after “a decade of Tory cuts,” and to that end they promise to spend £150 billion to build new schools, hospitals, public housing, and retirement homes. Public employees will be guaranteed an immediate pay increase of 5%, and thereafter see their wages rise annually with the rate of inflation, irrespective of economic growth. All of this will be paid for by a tax increase on anyone making more than £80,000 per year (about $103,000 here) and an increase in the corporate tax rate from 19% to 26%, neither of which according to Labour will affect economic productivity. The minimum wage will be hiked to £10 per hour ($12.94, much more reasonable than the Democrats’ proposal!), the work-week will be lowered to 32 hours yet somehow with no reduction in weekly pay, and at the same time Labour will not let any private sector executive be paid more than twenty times the wage of the lowest-paid worker at that firm. Workers will be designated a minimum of 10 percent of a company’s annual profits, and they will be given one-third of the seats on a company’s board of directors. Labour promises not to increase the VAT, since that is regressive taxation, but vows to “launch the biggest ever crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion,” further empowering bureaucrats to wreck havoc in the lives of Her Majesty’s subjects.

There is so much more dim-witted demagoguery and rank pandering to unpack in this manifesto, but suffice it to say that any left-wing idea that has been bandied about here or abroad is represented: from subsidized rent for college students to universal basic income to hiring set-asides and quotas for women and minorities to giving the LGBT+ (Labour mercifully cuts off the alphabet soup at the end there) community whatever the hell it demands on any given day. And of course there is Labour’s barely-concealed anti-semitism and anti-Zionism. While Corbyn’s Labour Party talks a good game about eradicating anti-semitism and the party manifesto stresses the desire for a peaceful Israeli state living side-by-side with a peaceful Palestinian state, the manifesto also makes a pivot towards trendy left-wing third worldism by immediately banning arms sales to Israel, granting recognition to the state of Palestine, and advocating for every government which claims historical victimization by colonial powers, no matter how nasty and brutal their societies might currently be.

Finally, on the important matter of Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn has historically be very cagey with respect to the EU, at times signaling that he resents the influence wielded by capitalists in Paris, Berlin, and Brussels, but at other times singing the praises of multi-national governments and regulatory bodies. Labour’s manifesto leaves the party’s disposition on the issue of Brexit unspoken — a wise move considering that a large chunk of Labour voters are believed to have supported the Brexit referendum nearly four years ago — but promises to negotiate a new deal for Brexit within three months and then put it up for a new binding public referendum shortly thereafter. Because Labour has preemptively foreclosed on the idea of a no-deal Brexit, it’s kind of hard to see what sort of negotiating leverage Mr. Corbyn would have in securing a new deal, but if he can get enough voters to buy in to his nonsense then I guess more power to him. Even if the Brexit movement wins the second vote, the Labour manifesto pledges so much continued cooperation with the EU (for example, a promise to voters that Britain’s green policies will be no less strict than the EU’s) that it’s definitely a stretch to imagine that Britain would be rid of the meddlesome Brussels busy-bodies anyway.

This vote on December 12 could very well be a harbinger of what to expect next year. Just as the narrow pro-Brexit vote in June 2016 served as a indication of an anti-status quo sentiment which swept Donald Trump into the Oval Office less than five months later, so too might a Labour victory later this month act as a warning shot of a resurgent left who could stampede an Elizabeth Warren (or, crazily enough, a Bernard Sanders) into the White House. The polls today suggest that the Conservatives are on their way to a strong victory, but I wouldn’t be popping any champagne corks until Boris locks the doors at 10 Downing Street on December 13.


Sickening NYT Article on Trump’s Pardoning of a War Criminal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 am

No sensible person can read this article from start to finish and not be sickened at the behavior Trump has sanctioned — and wants to campaign on sanctioning:

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher and other Navy SEALs gave the young captive medical aid that day in Iraq in 2017, sedating him and cutting an airway in his throat to help him breathe. Then, without warning, according to colleagues, Chief Gallagher pulled a small hunting knife from a sheath and stabbed the sedated captive in the neck.

The same Chief Gallagher who later posed for a photograph holding the dead captive up by the hair has now been celebrated on the campaign trail by President Trump, who upended the military code of justice to protect him from the punishment resulting from the episode.

. . . .

When senior platoon members confronted Chief Gallagher, they said, he told them, “Stop worrying about it; they do a lot worse to us.” . . . . A week later, Chief Gallagher sent a friend in California a text with a photo of himself with a knife in one hand, holding the captive up by the hair with the other. “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife,” he wrote.

That’s the part you knew. You may also know that there were serious allegations of prosecutorial misconduct One of the witnesses took the blame for the murder at trial, making conviction of the murder apparently impossible. (DRJ noted the acquittal back in July.) But Gallagher was convicted for the photo and his pin was taken away. The Navy Secretary was fired for objecting.

Here are some things you may not know:

Before deployment, he commissioned a friend and former SEAL to make him a custom hunting knife and a hatchet, vowing in a text, “I’ll try and dig that knife or hatchet on someone’s skull!”

. . . .

As the deployment wore on, SEALs said the chief’s behavior grew more erratic. He led a small team beyond the front lines, telling members to turn off locator beacons so they would not be caught by superiors, according to four SEALS, who confirmed video of the mission obtained by The New York Times. He then tried to cover up the mission when one platoon member was shot.

At various points, he appeared to be either amped up or zoned out; several SEALs told investigators they saw him taking pills, including the narcotic Tramadol. He spent much of his time scanning the streets of Mosul from hidden sniper nests, firing three or four times as often as the platoon’s snipers, sometimes targeting civilians.

One SEAL sniper told investigators he heard a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then saw a schoolgirl in a flower-print hijab crumple to the ground. Another sniper reported hearing a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then seeing a man carrying a water jug fall, a red blotch spreading on his back. Neither episode was investigated and the fate of the civilians remains unknown.

Chief Gallagher had been accused of misconduct before, including shooting through an Afghan girl to hit the man carrying her in 2010 and trying to run over a Navy police officer in 2014. But in both cases no wrongdoing was found.

. . . .

SEALs said they started firing warning shots to keep pedestrians out of range. One SEAL told investigators he tried to damage the chief’s rifle to make it less accurate.

It’s a description of a man utterly out of control, which is corrosive to discipline. But Trump watches “Fox & Friends” and the guy on “Fox & Friends” thinks Gallagher got a raw deal, so that is now U.S. policy.

People tell me all the time to look only at what Trump does, not what he says. Well, this pardon is something he did. It is an attack on the rule of law, like so much of what this cretin does. He is wholly and utterly unfit for office.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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