Friday, June 26, 2015

BREAKING: Man Decapitated by ISIS Terrorist at French Alpine Town Factory

A terrorist action in Isère has resulted in an explosion at an industrial gas factory, several wounded, and one dead, who was decapitated. Le Monde and Le Figaro report that the perpetrator, who walked inside the Saint-Quentin-Fallavier factory holding an Islamist flag, has been arrested. The dead man's head was attached to the gate along with a note in Arabic.

Fox News:
One person was decapitated and several others were injured in an apparent terror attack at a chemical factory in eastern France Friday morning, local media reported.

According to Le Dauphine newspaper, a loud explosion was reported at approximately 9:50 a.m. local time in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, northwest of the Alpine city of Grenoble.
According to the paper, a man walked into the company's offices saying he was a member of ISIS and carrying one of the terror group's flags. After beheading a man at the company's entrance, he went into the building and set off several gas canisters.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Following Fistfights with Uber Drivers, Paris's Taxi Motorists Strike on Thursday to Protest Newcomer's Arrival in the City

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Parisian taxis recently
recalls Stephen Clarke as he discusses the Uber stiuation in France, where fistfights have broken out among the two groups.
Luckily, my latest book has attracted enough attention to get me invited to do TV and radio, and either my publisher or the production company always sends a taxi, and has one waiting for me after the show.

Occasionally I’ve said non merci during rush hours because then it’s quicker to get the Métro rather than sit watching a traffic jam, but usually I’ve accepted the offer with gratitude. When you’ve written a book about France’s greatest-ever political figure, it’s useful to have some quiet time to mug up on dates and quotations before going on air.

  … a lifelong Parisian who told me that the rules covering taxis today are based on the code written by Napoleon for cabs in the early 19th century.

I’ve quite often wished that my taxi driver could have lashed out with a horsewhip to clear the traffic blocking a junction, but this wasn’t what he meant. He was making the point that he, like all his fellow taxi licence holders, has to obey laws, and is part of an accountable system.

By contrast, he said, the new wave of drivers working for a certain foreign app-based taxi service (that shall remain nameless), were “pirates”. Whereas a real taxi driver has to queue up at airports and can wait two hours or more before he or she’s allowed to go and pick up a fare, the “pirates” hang around and get calls within minutes from arriving passengers.

 … Things are getting so heated that there have been fights between angry taxi drivers and the touts loitering in airport arrivals areas. One taxi driver was recently knifed while sitting in his car. And all because (so the taxi drivers say) the police is doing nothing to stop the illegal taxi touting.

Which is why, this Thursday, taxi drivers will be blocking railway stations and airports in an attempt to force the government to act. If you’re planning to arrive in Paris or leave on that day, best to use underground transport and avoid some spectacular gridlock.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Black Americans seem unable to forgive America for sins committed by whites who are long dead; But many seem to support the forgiveness of a white man who murdered nine blacks last week

Needless to say, the New York Times cannot help itself but feature an (anti-gun) article by Jennifer Steinhauer that gratuitously puts the racist character of the fatal shootings at a landmark black church in Charleston to the forefront.
Lawmakers, weary from the emotional fight and ultimate failure to get a bill to enhance background checks for gun sales off the Senate floor two years ago, seem resigned to the view that if 20 small children killed at a school cannot move Congress, then nine black men and women shot dead by a white man during Bible study will not, either.
Guess what? Nine black men and women shot dead by a black person would hardly have changed the hand either, and nor would nine white men and women shot dead by a white person. So the racist is gratuitous.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama (using the slur Nigger) and Jon Stewart both drone on about America's alleged racist character.

How about listening instead (or at least also) to Dennis Prager, the author of the article, Foreigners of every race know that the U.S. is the least racist country in the world but most black Americans and the entire left deny it, and a talk show host who does not agree with the black church members' forgivenes of Dylann Roof. (More on Dennis Prager…)
First, consistent with my religion, Judaism, I do not believe that anyone but the actual victim has the right to forgive someone for the evil he has inflicted.

 … Second, I am not aware of Roof’s having repented. And even God Himself doesn’t forgive those who never repent.

 … Third, regarding whites, blacks, and crimes, we seem to inhabit a strange moral universe. Great numbers of black Americans seem to be unable or unwilling to forgive America — specifically white Americans — for sins committed by whites who are long dead. But many seem to support the forgiveness of a white man who murdered nine blacks last week. 

The families of the murdered blacks speak eloquently and movingly about preferring forgiveness to feeling anger and hate toward a man who murdered their loved ones just days ago. But millions of blacks seem to prefer feeling anger and hate toward a vast number of their fellow Americans who have never wronged them or any other black American. Indeed, most American whites don’t even have ancestors who ever wronged blacks. The truth is that the vast majority of white Americans are not racist.

 … How is it that so many people can forgive an unrepentant mass murderer a week after he murdered their child, parent, or sibling but not forgive a society that has repented, atoned, and created the best place in the world for a black human being to live?

The Confederate Flag: Another Brick in the Leftwing Activists' (Self-Serving) Demonization of America and Rewriting of History

How correct were the Republicans to cave in on the subject of the removal of the Confederate flag?

You might be surprised to learn that the answer seems to be, not at all.

As always, the real motive of leftists — aka the drama queens — (foreign as well as American) is never principles (deeply-held or otherwise).

The real motive of left-wing activists is high dramatics. Along with a complete rewriting of American, and world, history to suit their egos.

What is at stake is the officialization of the culpability of the American republic. As well as the guilt of every citizen in the country, and indeed on the planet. All of them in need of the leftist activists' brand of healing, and their type of activist government.

Their human rights campaigns, for instance, have always been directed solely against the United States and/or the West.

The object of the attacks on the Confederate flag is nothing more than another brick in the rewriting of history so that the world's "last, best hope" (Lincoln, quoting Jefferson) becomes a reprehensible hell-hole with symbols to be likened to the Third Reich's Nazi swastika. (Quentin Tarantino called the South's slavery "Auschwitz", no less.) To be compared with the "genocide" of the Indians.

The Founding Fathers are to be rewritten as slaveholders, and Americans are to be deemed the equivalent, almost, of Nazi leaders and concentration camp kapos.

[See, four-five years after this post was written, the New York Times' 1619 project: 1619, Mao, & 9-11: History According to the NYT — Plus, a Remarkable Example of the Leftists' "Blame America First" Approach to History.]

This is what Barack Obama's common core is all about. That is what they mean to teach American kids.

(One detail that, strangely, is always left out by the progressives is how the Southern states, both during the antebellum slavery days and later during the Jim Crow days, is how in all cases, those governments were firmly in the hands of the Democratic Party.)

The drama queens, and their hysterics, never deserve to be humored. Even partially.

They deserve to be punched back at. Twice as hard.

(Sarah Hoyt points to a Katie McHugh post on Breitbart that notes that while Amazon has taken down all merchandise bearing the Confederate flag, it continues to sell communist merchandise, "featuring the hammer and sickle, Joseph Stalin’s mustache, all things Che Guevara, Vladimir Lenin and other colorful revolutionaries".)

As I wrote in a lengthy post on, among other things, what hate speech in the 19th century sounded like
 … such (self-serving) musings — along with comparisons of the likes of Barack Obama to such illustrious predecessors as Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan — [should be dismissed] as not the fruit of intellectual investigation, analysis, and arguments but—again—as part of its incessant litany of self-congratulation.
The drama queens' only object is a form of bragging: celebrating themselves as the most intelligent people who ever lived, as the most humanistic people who ever lived, as the most tolerant people who ever lived, as the most compassionate people who ever lived. And in that perspective, all other people, all other persons, famous or not, past and present, are to be denigrated.

The rewriting of history is something that, when another generation has passed (if that much!), should allow the leftists to do away with part or all of the Constitution with the object of getting all these smiley face activists to, with "the best of intentions", become a permanent feature of government, one that intervenes in all parts of the citizen's life.

As I wrote in a lengthy post on, among other things, American Slavery and Abolitionism in the Context of World History
it is time that we own up to one basic fact:

Slavery — like poverty — in the past was ubiquitous.

Both started coming to an end (some places faster than others, but certainly all over the West) after the American Revolution and the advent of capitalism (which some of us prefer to call, simply, the free market), along with the industrial revolution in the land of their English-speaking cousins.

I.e., slavery started coming to and end in, and thanks to, the English-speaking nations.

And yet, the only slavery the nitpickers (American or foreign) condemn, revile, and wail and gnash their teeth over is slavery in the US of A. South American slavery of Africans? No, not so much. White slavery of whites (from Rome to the 19th century)? No. Arab slavery of Christians? No. Arab slavery of (other) Arabs? No. Black slavery of blacks? No. Slavery today, from the Arab world to the African continent? No. The only slavery that is rendered in apocalyptic tones—the most apocalyptic tones possible ("America's original sin"!!)—is America's. (Is it any wonder that I conclude that we are living in the era of the drama queens?)

  … See, I am not defending slavery, but what the drama queens are doing, and getting conservatives to go along with, is perpetuating historical falsehoods, along with false comparisons, such as comparing the life of a slave (but only a black slave in the United States, you understand by now, not any others) to life in today's modern world (which truly would be nothing but atrocious) while ignoring the dreary poverty that life was for most people, black as well as white, in the West as throughout the rest of the world, up until the 18th and 19th centuries.
Related: You will be made to care… about the Confederate Battle Flag by (Damned Yankee) Jazz Shaw
Some years ago … our Red State colleague Erick Erickson penned a column on a completely different subject titled You Will Be Made to Care. Erick was talking about gay marriage, but what he described was the the ever present mode of operation for the modern American Left. It’s not enough to disagree with someone when there is a difference of opinion on social issues, government policy or even the color of the sky. It’s not even sufficient to shut down the conversation, as Guy and Mary Katharine so aptly identified in End of Discussion. Those who dissent must be forced to bend a knee and participate.

 … in keeping with liberal theory, we must eliminate some piece of cloth that reminds them of their heritage, even if it has nothing to do with racism or slavery in their minds. It does to us! That requires a trigger warning, mister, and you didn’t provide us with a safe space!

And We Are The Perpetually And Righteously Offended, So You Shall Comply.

 … You must be made to care. You will be made to participate. You will take the hateful piece of cloth down (though a piece of cloth has yet to ever shoot up a church or a school) and you will denounce it. Or we will destroy you.

 … Every Southerner I know today abhors the idea of slavery and would immediately call the police if they found out about anyone keeping human beings as slaves. But they are also proud of their heritage and the many things the South represents, and for many of them the Stars and Bars is emblematic of that sense of history and pride. So maybe you can crack the politically correct whip and tear down some flags. I say go to hell. Our brothers and sisters who dwell below the Mason-Dixon are Americans first and always, but they are Southern by the Grace of God.
Update: A lot of comments on an Instapundit post are talking about how Confederate symbols are being removed in stores all over America, while communist ones remain.  ("So it is okay to have slaves if you put them in gulags or concentration camps instead of on plantations? Perhaps after a trial to make it all legal like?", "Like the Professor said, 'Communists are just Nazis with better PR.' Maybe the Confederates, who were neither Nazis nor Communists, just needed PR as good as the Communists?")

Notice a key difference between communism and the South, however. In America, slaves were owned by private enterprise (the plantations); in Soviet Russia, laborers were enslaved by the state. Couldn't it be that all that we are witnessing is simply the left's good ol' hatred of capitalism (although slavery is abhorrent, needless to say, to the true free market) coupled with its love of the administrative state?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Even Wikipedia's Neil Tyson Talk Page Was Being Actively Censored Last Fall

Do you remember the story of Neil Tyson's fake George W Bush quote? The real story rapidly became how Wikipedia's liberals sprang into defense mode, with the encyclopedia's Neil Tyson Truthers aka its Pravda heirs going out and about to defend their hero and his (and their) — self-serving — viewpoint of conservatives like Dubya as clueless country bumpkins.
Wikipedia, you see, is run by editors who love facts, reason, evidence, and science. Boy do they love science. And facts. And also evidence. They LOVE those things. But they don’t adore anything as much as they adore Neil Tyson, their high priest, and unsavory facts about their shaman of science will not be tolerated.
Here is my humble (and short-lived) part (rather, a cameo) in that story.

Below are two screen shots I took on September 19, 2014 (9:26 pm).

On that evening, I attempted to add a little tidbit to the discussion on the encyclopedia itself — in vain, as we shall see: I added what I considered a rather objective comment quoting what The Federalist was saying about the Wikipedia debacle — something which, you know, might eventually be of some interest to somebody (not least if they were people who saw The Federalist as the enemy — "So that's what our enemy is thinking, and saying!") or someone concerned (or simply curious) about the website giant's reputation (Jimmy Wales, call your office). I wrote my piece (details on the content below), added a few hyperlinks (internal as well as external), and hit the "Save page" button.

What do you think is about to happen? The post will be removed the following day? After a couple of hours? After a few minutes?

No, my comment never appeared! Someone had been monitoring, actively monitoring, that page all along. (A Mr swordfish, presumably, who proceeded to trash blogs, although my blog was never mentioned, the only one mentioned — if blog is indeed the correct word for the Federalist — being the Sean Davis post). My comment was destined to blow up upon takeoff.

But here is the zinger: the censorship did not occur on Neil deGrasse Tyson's wikipedia entry. (Editorializing on an entry, for reasons good or otherwise, is entirely appropriate, after all.) The censorship occurred on Neil deGrasse Tyson's entry's talk page! Yes: his talk page! (aka )

Talk, as in debate! Talk, as in discussion! (Remember how the left loves to tell everybody, we are so open, we are so tolerant, we are always willing to participate in debate and discussion?)

Incidentally, all talk of the fake George W Bush quote (Our God is the God who named the stars) on the talk page has been archived away. While the only mention of the word Bush on the Neil deGrasse Tyson entry has nothing to do with Tyson's mistake and failure ('In 2001, US President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and in 2004 to serve on the President's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, the latter better known as the "Moon, Mars, and Beyond" commission.')

So what was it that I wrote on the talk page that was so galling? Again, I consider it to be rather neutral: first a lengthy Sean Davis quote, followed by the following description thereof (see screenshot at bottom, with cream-colored letters in left margin):
FYI, the fact that this Wiki thread exists at all has become a story of its own (or a sub-Tyson-story of its own on (guess where) The Federalist: "Religious fanatics have an odd habit of overreacting when people have the audacity to question their fanaticism," writes Sean Davis (that would refer, fairly or otherwise, to the majority of people, editors or other, on this thread); "You will bow to the religious zealots, or you will pay the price."
This was preceded by the following, lengthier quote from Sean Davis's article, Why Is Wikipedia Deleting All References To Neil Tyson’s Fabrication? (see screenshot above, with cream-colored letters in left margin):
The fact-loving, evidence-weighing, ever-objective editors of the online encyclopedia did not appreciate the inclusion of the evidence of Tyson’s fabrication. Not at all. … These lovers of science don’t actually love science, because science requires you to go where the evidence takes you, even if it goes against your original hypothesis. What many of Tyson’s cultists really like is the notion that one can become more intelligent via osmosis — that you can become as smart and as credentialed as Tyson by merely clapping like a seal at whatever he says, as long as what he says fits the political worldview of your average progressive liberal. Neil Tyson is adored by people who want the sweet feeling of smug, intellectual superiority without all the baggage of actually being intellectually superior in any way.

[Hemant] Mehta is right: if a right-wing conservative — if a skeptic of climate alarmism, for example — were accused of wholesale fabrication of evidence, he would have already been run out of town. But not Tyson. Why the disparity? That’s easy: because Tyson’s sins were committed out of a pure desire to further the common good. He believes the “right” things, which means his rather serious iniquities can be forgiven. A little fabrication can be swept under the rug so long as it’s in service of a higher agenda.
(FYI, that was the second time that a Talk comment of mine was deleted on Wikipedia.)

As Sean Davis concludes,
the censorship campaign is important because it highlights how the progressive Left acts when challenged. Revise, don’t report. Erase, don’t acknowledge. Delete, don’t debate.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

We know almost nothing of the merchants who made ancient Greece rich enough to spawn an unprecedented culture, but we know lots about the deeds of those who squandered that wealth in war

Matt Ridley has a post commemorating the 200th anniversary of Waterloo (cheers to the jaymaster): Courage and commerce -- which did more to enrich humanity.
We admire achievements in war, a negative-sum game in which people get hurt on both sides, more than we do those in commerce, where both sides win.

The Rothschild skill in trade did at least as much to bring down Napoleon as the Wellesley skill in tactics. Throughout the war Nathan Rothschild shipped bullion to Wellington wherever he was, financing not just Britain’s war effort but also that of its allies, almost single-handedly. He won’t get much mention this week.

So I ought to prefer books about business, not bravery, because boring, bourgeois prudence gave us peace, plenty and prosperity. It was people who bought low and sold high, who risked capital, set up shop, saved for investment, did deals, improved gadgets and created jobs — it was they who raised living standards by ten or twentyfold in two centuries, and got rid of most child mortality and hunger. Though they do not risk their lives, they are also heroes, yet we have always looked down our noses at them. When did you last see an admirable businessman portrayed in a movie?

Dealing is always better than stealing, even from your enemies. It’s better than praying and preaching, the clerical virtues, which do little to fill bellies. It’s better than self-reliance, the peasant virtue, which is another word for poverty. As the economic historian Deirdre McCloskey put it in her book The Bourgeois Virtues: “The aristocratic virtues elevate an I. The Christian/peasant virtues elevate a Thou. The priestly virtues elevate an It. The bourgeois virtues speak instead of We”.

We know almost nothing of the merchants who made ancient Greece rich enough to spawn an unprecedented culture, but we know lots about the deeds of those who squandered that wealth in war. “The history of antiquity resounds with the sanguinary achievements of Aryan warrior elites,” wrote the historian of antiquity Thomas Carney. “But it was the despised Levantines, Arameans, Syrians, and Greeklings who constituted the economic heroes of antiquity.”

 … in the very same year, 1815, George Stephenson, a humble, self-taught engine-wright with an impenetrable Geordie accent (to which he probably gave the name), put together all the key inventions that — at last — made steam locomotion practicable. … The year of Waterloo was an annus mirabilis of the industrial revolution, putting Britain on course to dominate and transform the world, whether we beat Boney or not. Steam, followed by its offspring internal combustion and electricity, would catapult humankind into prosperity.

 … I do not mean to diss the Duke of Wellington, and it would miss the point to elevate Stephenson into a mythic hero. For all his brilliance, his achievements were incremental and collaborative improvements on the work of others: the work of we, not me. But Wellington’s way of changing history by killing people — while sometimes regrettably necessary — is as old as Troy, whereas Stephenson’s new way, by letting people work productively for each other, was far more momentous in the end.