Monday, April 23, 2018

Hammers & Nails? If all you have is discourse, every party to any round of talks looks like Socrates

A Herblock cartoon in the International Herald Tribune from November 11, 1998, has Iraq and Serbia's bloodthirsty leaders laughing at the Western countries' propensity for talks. Of course, both Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milošević would eventually be taken out, albeit after many years (in Milosevic's case, only after half a dozen years of war in Kosovo, and in Saddam's case, it could easily be argued, only because of the 9-11 attacks), so the Herbert Block cartoon cannot be said to be far from wrong.

In any case, doesn't it seem that the attitude is something that the Kims of North Korea have been doing for decades, right up until the arrival in the White House of a fellow by the name of Donald Trump?

Based on an Abraham Maslow thought, an old phrase regularly brandished by the left's pacifists against the Pentagon and its conservative backers goes like this:
"if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." 
 Well, if all you have is discourse and debate, every party to any round of talks looks like Socrates.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What Matter Human Rights When Faced with Chinese Contracts with the West?

As Emmanuel Macron visited China a few months ago, Le Monde's Plantu let it be known that he did not seem too impressed with the French government's legendary devotion to human rights in the face of French-Chinese contracts…

Saturday, April 21, 2018

George Bush of Iraq, Meet Little Trump of Syria…

Imitation may indeed be the highest form of flattery, 
reports Hollie McKay from the Syrian town of Kobane,
but one Syrian-Kurdish father here has taken that concept to a whole new level.

“My son is 'Trump,'” Rezgar Ramadan, 40, a pharmacy drug representative, proudly told Fox News this week. “He likes his name so much, everywhere we go people always ask us, ‘How is little Trump?’”

Ramadan said he thought of renaming the boy, originally named Mustafa, back in 2016, after Donald Trump won the presidential election.

 … The boy has become a celebrity of sorts in the village of Kobane, in the nation's north, his dad said. "Everyone knows him now. I am teaching him about America. He is already so smart, and wants to lead his brother and sister.”
 … The couple are also parents to 8-year-old twins  Muhammed and Rula, and are planning to expand their family in the very near future. The names are already picked out.

“If it's a boy, it will be 'Rex Tillerson,'” Ramadan declared. “And if it a girl, she will be 'Nikki Haley.'”

“I like Rex Tillerson because I like his character,” Ramadan said, unfazed by the fact that Tillerson had recently lost his job as U.S. secretary of state. “And Nikki Haley fights a lot for the human rights, and speaking out against Russia, who have been committing a lot of crimes here in Syria.”

Naming children after foreign leaders is no longer so unusual in parts of the Middle East. Some supporters of the Syrian regime have named their babies “Putin,” in honor of the Russian president. And "Bush" became a popular name after the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq under the administration of George W. Bush.

Ramadan insisted he hasn’t received any backlash over his decision to name his son after the U.S. president. …
Related: On July 11, George Bush turns 15 years old…
Related: There's a new George Bush in Baghdad,
six weeks old and screaming in a crib
Nadia Jergis Mohammed, 34, … told Associated Press Television News:
"I tell you all Iraqis hated Saddam's regime. It was only George Bush who liberated us, without him it wouldn't have happened. If he hadn't done it the sons of Saddam would have ruled us for years. He saved us from Saddam and that's why we named our son after him"

Friday, April 20, 2018

During the CPAC Convention, a Conservative in Europe Is Interviewed by Lars Larson from Radio Row

On the Lars Larson show during the CPAC get-together, write Carl Sundberg and Donovan Sargent,
Lars talks with ex-pat Erik Svane who emigrated to France, Erik tells us what conservativism is like in Europe and how some things are the same but some are very, very different.
Among other places, the Lars Larson interview appeared on FM News KXL and on iHeart Radio.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It seems as if there’s no end of “scientific truths” that just ain’t so

Half the results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are probably wrong 
write Peter Wood and David Randall in a Wall Street Journal piece entitled How Bad Is the Government’s Science? (thanks to Instapundit).
John Ioannidis, now a professor of medicine at Stanford, made headlines with that claim in 2005. Since then, researchers have confirmed his skepticism by trying—and often failing—to reproduce many influential journal articles.

 … It seems as if there’s no end of “scientific truths” that just aren’t so.

 … The chief cause of irreproducibility may be that scientists, whether wittingly or not, are fishing fake statistical significance out of noisy data. If a researcher looks long enough, he can turn any fluke correlation into a seemingly positive result. But other factors compound the problem: Scientists can make arbitrary decisions about research techniques, even changing procedures partway through an experiment. They are susceptible to groupthink and aren’t as skeptical of results that fit their biases. Negative results typically go into the file drawer. Exciting new findings are a route to tenure and fame, and there’s little reward for replication studies.

 … A deeper issue is that the irreproducibility crisis has remained largely invisible to the general public and policy makers. That’s a problem given how often the government relies on supposed scientific findings to inform its decisions. Every year the U.S. adds more laws and regulations that could be based on nothing more than statistical manipulations.

All government agencies should review the scientific justifications for their policies and regulations to ensure they meet strict reproducibility standards. The economics research that steers decisions at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department needs to be rechecked. The social psychology that informs education policy could be entirely irreproducible. The whole discipline of climate science is a farrago of unreliable statistics, arbitrary research techniques and politicized groupthink.
Mr. Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars. Mr. Randall is the NAS’s director of research and a co-author of its new report, “The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

"Do you realize I have not done a movie in 5 to 6 years? Why? Because I was totally blackballed by the … liberals in Hollywood," R Lee Ermey alleged; "They can destroy you. They're hateful people"

Samuel Chamberlain of Fox News has written the obituary of R. Lee Ermey, the former Marine Corps drill instructor known to millions of moviegoers as the sadistic Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket". Among other things we learn of the man who was 74:
An outspoken conservative, Ermey spoke to Fox News in 2016 about being "blackballed" from Hollywood over his political views.

"I've had a very fruitful career. I've done over 70 feature films," he said. "I've done over 200 episodes of [Outdoor Channel series 'GunnyTime']... and then [Hollywood] found out that I'm a conservative."

Actually, he corrected, "I'm an Independent, but I said something bad about the president. I had something unsavory to say about the president's administration, and even though I did vote for him the first time around, I was blackballed."

Ermey, who was an NRA board member, said at the time that his association with the organization and his disapproval of President Obama cost him acting jobs.

"Do you realize I have not done a movie in five to six years? Why? Because I was totally blackballed by the ... liberals in Hollywood," he alleged. "They can destroy you. They're hateful people [who] don't just not like you, they want to take away your livelihood ... that's why I live up in the desert on a dirt road ... I don't have to put up with their crap."

Sunday, April 15, 2018

New Paris Tour Company Offers Guided Tours Fitted to Your Wishes and Desires

 … sharing my knowledge and love of Paris is second-nature to me
writes an expatriate American corporate trainer who, after a decade in the City of Light, has taken the leap from trainer to tour guide through her Paris Personally company, which personalizes tours to your wishes and desires (see a sample of Tour Ideas). Gina Hunt continues:
 … if you've decided to hire someone to help you get the most out of your trip, then you're not just looking for a cookie-cutter tour. You're looking to see Paris in a personal way. You're looking to make your experience of Paris unique and memorable. That's why you're looking for Paris Personally.

 … because I know how to personalize your experience, you'll enjoy Paris in a unique and memorable way. I'm always professional, always focused on helping you have a great time, and I speak fluent French, bien sûr!

Contact Ms. Hunt at or through her contact page to see a sample itinerary and learn more details of how Paris Personally's small group trips work.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Racism in Canada: Swahili Cultural Appropriation with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

This is your chance to sing in Swahili!
Horrible! A despicable racist named Roger Whittaker engages in Swahili cultural appropriation with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. And the appallingly un-woke members of the audience at the Jubilee Auditorium seem to be enjoying it…

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

While Calling Assad a "Gas Killing Animal", Was Trump Also Referring, Obliquely, to Putin the Poisoner?

Instapundit's Stephen Green links to Mark Hodge and James Beal's Sun story, which starts out thus:
DONALD Trump has told Russia to "get ready" for American "smart" missiles heading to Syria while blasting Putin for partnering with "Gas Killing Animal" Bashar Assad.
I can't help associating Gas with Poison — two largely invisible killers — and wondering whether, in the same breath, the "Republican firebrand" isn't referring to, and condemning, Putin's poisoning of a Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A foreigner who knew John Bolton during the Bush administration writes to the FT: he is a rational agent who is perfectly capable of engaging in constructive dialogue

So many people, both inside and outside the United States, have reacted with horror at the nomination of John Bolton to the upper echelons of U.S. power that the Armenian who served as his country's permanent representative to the UN during the time of the Bush administration, Armen Martirosyan, felt the need to write to the Financial Times to set things straight.
Since U.S. president Donald Trump announced John Bolton as his next national security adviser, the prospect of “possibly Washington’s most aggressive hawk”, as he was described by [the Financial Times’s] Simon Kuper (“Don’t get distracted. John Bolton is a huge threat,” April 7), having a central role in the formulation of American foreign policy has become a cause for foreboding apprehension for many.

In 2005, as the then permanent representative of Armenia to the UN, I was a first-hand witness to then U.S. ambassador Bolton’s aggressive campaign for an anti-Iranian resolution at the UN General Assembly. Armenia’s position on the Iran vote did not meet American expectations, so the U.S. mission contacted us with an urgent request for an appointment with Mr. Bolton.

It was abundantly clear that Mr. Bolton was not ready to take no for an answer, and this peculiar situation called for unorthodox solutions. After a brief welcome, to my guest’s utter surprise I unveiled a map of Armenia and rolled it out over my desk.

With this visual aid, I impressed on him the relevant regional complexities facing my country and thus justified our position on the resolution. Before his departure, Mr. Bolton accepted a sip of Winston Churchill’s favourite Armenian brandy, Ararat, as a seal of our new understanding.

My advice to all potential interlocutors is to treat Mr. Bolton as a rational agent who is perfectly capable of engaging in constructive dialogue and adjusting positions based on new-found insights.

Armen Martirosyan
Ambassador of Armenia to India
New Delhi
Be sure to subscribe to the Financial Times. It is worth it, for the daily is full of treasures like this one…

Voir aussi l'article de Philippe Gélie dans Le Figaro…
Peu d'hommes sont précédés d'une réputation aussi sulfureuse que lui - patiemment bâtie et totalement assumée.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Did the CIA and the FBI become opposition research shops for the Obama White House and the Hillary campaign?

The left used to get very worked up about the CIA’s interference in foreign elections.
The American Spectator's George Neumayr has penned what is possibly the best single article on the 2016 election scandal (thanks to Instapundit), the alleged Trump Russia collusion and the real wrongdoing that has been (deliberately) hidden by the noise covering that alleged scandal.
Liberals [used to] quote solemnly the work of Philip Agee, a CIA turncoat who wrote articles and books about the agency’s manipulation of this or that foreign election. But these days ACLU-style liberals shrug at the meddling of John Brennan’s CIA in the 2016 American election, mischief that the FBI is still trying to conceal.

It was reported recently that the FBI refuses to show Congressman Devin Nunes an unredacted copy of the origination document that triggered the probe into the Trump campaign. What is the FBI hiding? Paradoxically, nothing — that is, no classified information showing collusion between Trump and Russia. The FBI is simply trying to hide the embarrassingly partisan origins of its spying on the Trump campaign.

Were the redactions covering material harmful to Trump, that material would have been leaked by now. So the redactions can only be concealing the fingerprints of Hillary’s partisans in the Obama administration. The FBI will eventually have to fess up to the politicization to which it succumbed — that the most virulent Hillary partisan imaginable, John Brennan, had put pressure on FBI officials to start the probe, that a Trump hater, Peter Strzok, formally opened up the probe, that the smears of a paid opposition researcher for Hillary, Christopher Steele, contributed to the probe, that scandalous “intelligence-sharing” between Brennan and foreign intelligence agencies shaped the probe, and that FBI officials suspected the probe was unfounded but pursued it anyways at the insistence of Obama officials.

The FBI says it is redacting “sensitive information.” That’s true in an ironic sense: the FBI is very sensitive about the information, in that it illuminates the agency’s transformation into an opposition research shop for the Hillary campaign. Take her partisans out of the picture and the probe would never have started.

In an attempt to sanitize the probe, the media has attributed its origin to a drunken conversation between an Aussie diplomat and a minor Trump campaign volunteer. But that’s a joke. Maybe the FBI threw that into the pot at the last minute, but John Brennan had been stirring it for months before then. As Brennan told Congress, “we were uncovering information intelligence about interactions and contacts between U.S. persons and the Russians. And as we came upon that, we would share it with the bureau.” Notice his use of “we” in that statement. By “we,” Brennan meant his retinue of Hillary partisans at the CIA who had been shaking foreign intelligence agencies down for any dirt on Trump.

The British intelligence, in cahoots with Brennan and Christopher Steele (who was on Hillary’s payroll), figured largely into this mischief. In all likelihood it will come out that the “information” British intelligence shared with Brennan was just recycled Steele material. The “allies tipped us off to Trump-Russian collusion” storyline is a sham, designed to distract attention from a chain of Hillary partisans who in the thick of a campaign were circulating smears among themselves and calling it “intelligence sharing.”

It was the blinding, viscerally personal hatred of Brennan for Trump, perhaps more than anything else, that turned all those phony “tips” into a counterintelligence probe. In the grip of that kind of feverish antipathy, combined with his desire to continue as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan could convince himself of any Trump monstrosity and made it his mission to prod the FBI into harassing him.

 … But it wasn’t enough for Brennan to push the FBI investigation. He also had to publicize it, which he achieved through another person in Christopher Steele’s orbit, Senator Harry Reid, whose Super PAC, as the Daily Caller reports, was run by the very Hillary lawyer who hired Steele’s services. Brennan briefed Reid on the beginnings of the FBI investigation he instigated, knowing that Reid would leak the contents of the briefing to the press.

About this astounding meddling in an election by a CIA director, the Philip Agees of the left have fallen completely silent. But that makes sense. After all, how can old radicals inveigh against the CIA as a “wilderness of mirrors” when it is John Brennan’s reflection in it?

Monday, April 02, 2018

A fantasy philosophy 2,000 years old: the belief one can discern how things really are by means of that inner light allowing one to deny actuality and proceed according to fantasy

A Hebrew prophet once asked the rhetorical question: “Can a leopard change his spots or the Ethiopian his skin?” Much later, another prophet asked, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?”
Fay Voshell goes back a couple of thousand of years (thanks to Instapundit) to explain the modern left.
The idea [of the prophets] was that there are certain realities that humans cannot change by a mere exercise of will.

Even the beasts instinctively accept how they are made. But the prophets’ common-sense observations about the unchanging nature of material realities has in our day been thrown aside in exchange for a fantasy philosophy that is akin to alchemists’ dream that if we only had secret means to do so, we could change lead into gold.

The fantasy philosophy that insists human will combined with spiritual power can defy and change material reality is called Gnosticism. Gnosticism is basically a pessimistic belief, as it tries to repudiate the existence of the whole universe, which is seen as irretrievably corrupt. Devotees of Gnosticism crave being free from the curse of all things material and believe they may be released from the curse of this wretched world by a secret, inner spiritual knowledge accessible only by themselves. 

Even Christianity, which celebrates the material world as still good, though fallen, has through syncretic thinking been afflicted with the idea that the human spirit can by a sheer act of will overcome material reality, including the built in limitations of the human body and its sensual desires.

 … Eating only the Host [the daily Eucharistic wafer] was seen as an exercise in achieving a pure spirituality that eliminated or at least utterly transcended the fleshly appetites, including sensuality. Spirit over matter was to prevail. By an act of will, one could overcome the reality of the sinful body.

The ancient Gnostic idea that one can by an act of will repudiate material realities has been resurrected time and again, resurfacing to be part of the current liberal political ethos.

Such is the state of affairs in Gnostic leftist political thought that it is believed quite possible to declare one’s self by fiat to be sex opposite to the one you were born as. If you are a man who feels like a woman, all you have to do is to declare yourself to be a woman.

This denial of a reality that is foundational to all civilizations is being made into law in Europe and in America, with the deleterious consequences still to be completely realized.

As George Weigel notes in his recent National Affairs article entitled Reality and Public Policy,” in 2007, Spain's Zapatero government enacted legislation allowing men to change themselves into women and women into men by simply declaring one’s newly recognized sex, with or without surgical alterations. The new man or woman could then be issued new national identity card reflecting the gender of choice. Weigel concludes, “It is hard to imagine a more explicit expression of personal willfulness overpowering natural givenness.”

In other words, reality be damned. The purely good will and spirit within the individual is to prevail over common sense and human tradition since time immemorial. I may look like a woman and actually be a biological woman, but if I decide I’m a man, who are you to question my inner light? Who are you to resist my truth about myself? As millions of American children are taught every day, “You can be anything you choose to be.”

As Weigel notes:
“[…]within a very short span of time, less than two generations, two aspects of the human condition that had been understood for millennia to be the very quintessence of givenness -- maleness and femaleness -- were no longer taken to be given at all. "Male" and "female" were not The Way Things Are. "Male" and "female" were "cultural constructs," usually manipulated by those in power for purposes of domination (Gnosticism thus adding a soupçon of Marxism to its ideology of plasticity).

“Gnostic anthropology -- the Gnostic view of the human person and the human condition -- is the antithesis of the Biblical view of men and women and their possibilities, which has long been one of the foundation stones of the Western civilizational project.” 
Weigel points out that the new Gnosticism engendered by the sexual revolution not only ignores and warps the differences between men and women, but it also warps the rest of politics:
“[…]if people are prepared to insist as a matter of fundamental civil rights) the unreal claim that marriage can encompass two men or two women, why should those same people not believe that America can continue to run trillion-dollar deficits with impunity? Or that the centralization and vast regulatory apparatus to be created by Obamacare will not inevitably lead to the rationing of end-of-life care? Or that the federal budget deficit has primarily to do with the wealthy not paying ‘their fair share’ ”? 
Seeing matters through the lens of Gnosticism’s sure inner light gives infinite plasticity to foreign affairs, as the belief one can discern how things really are by means of that inner light means one can deny actuality and proceed according to fantasy. For instance, liberal Gnostics can see behind the spittle-inducing statements of jihadists and know the Islamists are actually protesting poverty rather than really meaning to kill Jews and eliminate the nation of Israel. Because of their secret knowledge about the true conditions of humanity and the remedies for ill, Gnostics can see behind Iranians’ leaders desire to get rid of the “Great Satan” in order to issue in the reign of the 12th imam and see that at heart, radical Muslims truly believe in peace for all mankind.

Liberal Gnostics also can see clearly that the mass murders of American citizens by lone gunmen are really the fault of the NRA’s advocacy of gun ownership. They discern with inner clarity that the solution to violence is not only to disarm the American populace but to ensure none of our kids even so much as point a finger at anyone and say, “Bang; bang. You’re dead.” In brief, if your child doesn’t even think violent thoughts, evil will never happen.

Leftist Gnostics can also discern that anything bad that happens in the Obama administration is not really his fault. The bad seeds now producing bitter fruit were planted during the administration of G.W. Bush. The illogical conclusion: Nothing is ever Obama’s responsibility, much less his fault.

The fact some guy just murdered his wife and should be punished is trumped by Gnostic prophetic musings about the criminal’s past and pleasant dreams about rehabilitating him and his society in the future. The victim whose blood cries out for justice in the here and now is not as important as political augury extending back into the past to discern how things got this way as well as looking forward into the future to determine how things will change for the better. The present moment, the present reality is entirely insignificant. The murder is significant only for what it represents. It is symbolic, not real.

In sum, for the Gnostic Left, the reality of bad or even criminal behavior is trumped by the idea of how things were and how they ought to be, not how they are in the here and now.

But the greatest Gnostic denial of all is the denial of the almost limitless capacity for evil that lies within the human heart. In laying the blame on material reality as being inherently corrupt and in dreaming of fantastical utopias of the future, Gnostics fail to see that their mystical inner word of discernment can be as corrupted as anything actually occurring within the material world. That clear, spiritual inner voice is not necessarily pure as driven snow. It, too, has unpleasant realities and odious capacities. A soul can smell worse than the body.

As Weigel writes,
“Reality may be, and often is, unpleasant. But policies rooted in a failure to grasp reality are dangerous, and too often deadly. […] A culture convinced that everything is malleable and that there are no givens in personal or public life is not a culture likely to sustain serious debates about serious public-policy options.”
 … Ultimately, Gnosticism in all its forms, including current liberal political thought, owes its basis to the Devil’s lie to all humans: “You shall be as gods.” The lure of having infallible inner knowledge of how things really are combined with the mystical misconception that the will to power is all that matters, ignores not only material reality, but the reality of the fact that both good and evil speak to the human heart.

In the end, Gnostics’ belief that the still, small voice within can trump reality puts politics, national and international, on the road to perdition.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Good-Bye, Friend: Stéphane Audran

The Times has an obituary for the French actress renowned for playing adulterous bourgeois women and winning a Bafta for her role as the cook in Babette's Feast.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Could It Be that Much that We Think We Know About MLK Is Exaggerated or Even an Outright Lie?

Brace yourself for a stampede of public figures all claiming to be King’s greatest admirer 
as April 4th marks 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr was murdered in Memphis. Benny Huang, who has written about MLK before, declares that he will not pretend
to be one of them. Unlike a lot of conservatives I wouldn’t be caught dead trying to co-opt MLK and his undeserved aura of moral superiority.

Not that King didn’t have a lot of nice things to say. I can support the sentiment behind his “I Have a Dream” speech despite the fact that it was co-written by King’s Communist Party handler. I firmly believe that we should judge people by the content of their character not the color of their skin.

But King did not. He simply mouthed those vapid words because he was trying to persuade a majority-white nation to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an unconstitutional monstrosity that turned out to be even worse than its critics had predicted. King’s tactical appeal to colorblindness was destined to be tossed aside the moment he achieved his short-term policy goals.

As the recognized advocate for America’s only substantial racial minority, MLK vowed to resolve the race issue once and for all in return for a few small concessions: our property rights, our right to free association, our free speech rights, and our right not to be subjected to involuntary servitude.

It would have been a terrible deal even if each side had held up its end of the bargain. But that’s not what happened.

Less than one year after King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech Congress gave him what he wanted: a sweeping nondiscrimination law that invaded the private sphere and unleashed the federal government’s massive authority to police even our thoughts and intentions. It was supposed to be government-mandated race neutrality which was something most Americans could get behind because of their inherent sense of fair play. Personally, I find the race neutrality part appealing but resent the government mandated part, especially as it applies to private entities.

The bill was passed by a congressional supermajority and signed into law by the old racist Lyndon Johnson who was afforded the opportunity to portray himself as the black man’s best friend which he most certainly was not.

That was the bait. Then came the switch.

About four months later King sat for an interview with the future Roots plagiarist Alex Haley in which he argued for racial preferenceswhich he would also soon get.

Said King:
“Few people reflect that for two centuries the Negro was enslaved and robbed of any wages–potential accrued wealth which would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America’s wealth today could not adequately compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation.”
Translation: It’s payback time. According to King, everything America has is stolen wealth. White people should feel lucky that they’re being allowed to get away with merely being discriminated against for generations to come. They deserve much worse.

For the remaining three and a half years of King’s life he worked tirelessly toward Marxist revanchism. He supported racial discrimination (in his own favor), further eroded our constitutional rights with the Voting Rights Act and Fair Housing Act, and fought for an even more robust welfare state than even Lyndon Johnson had proposed.

In the same Haley interview King endorsed racial preferences in housing and hiring, as well as a $50 billion spending package exclusively for blacks—about $400 billion in today’s inflated currency. Funny how he didn’t mention any of that until after he got the Civil Rights Act.

King’s support for racial preferences stands in stark violation of the law he championed that same year. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly states that employers may not discriminate on the basis of race. It does not say that employers may discriminate against whites (or Asians!) as long as they’re trying to redress historical grievances. More importantly: If the bill had contained that kind of language it never would have passed.

But alas, employers have been favoring black over white ever since. Martin Luther King did not oppose that kind of discrimination because he never actually opposed racial discrimination per se. He just didn’t like being on the wrong end of it—and who does?

The idea that King opposed racial discrimination is just one of several myths that won’t die. Let’s unpack a few others.

MLK was not non-violent. We’ve been taught this lie because he refused to fight with the policemen and redneck vigilantes who roughed him up. But he supported the ultra-violent Planned Parenthood and physically beat at least one of his many adulterous relations so we know he had no problem picking fights with women and children. That didn’t make him Gandhi it just made him a coward.

He also winked at urban rioting. It’s no wonder his followers honored his legacy by burning down more than one hundred American cities in the days that followed his assassination.

Nor was King a patriotic American trying to make his country live up to its founding ideals. He was actually only one degree removed from the Soviet Union and he almost certainly knew it. Imagine all the worst accusations that have been lodged against Donald Trump about his supposed collusion with the Russians to “steal our democracy”—then imagine that they’re actually true. That was Martin Luther King.

MLK was just starting to become a household name during the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott when he met a Communist Party apparatchik named Stanley Levison. According to King biographer David Garrow, Levison was King’s closest white friend.

Levison conveniently “quit” the Communist Party in 1957. He was still very much a small “c” communist though conveniently unburdened by the party membership card he had carried for ten years. In all likelihood his departure was a sham.

Levison was always the man behind the curtain. Even Garrow and other sources friendly to King admit that Levison got King his first book deal, reviewed the book line by line, wrote whole drafts of King’s speeches, did King’s taxes, and wrote his fundraising letters.

And yet I suspect that Garrow’s description of the relationship between these two men soft-pedals the truth: Levison did everything for King except speak with that booming black preacher’s voice. For that, the CPUSA needed an honest-to-goodness black man and a purported Christian.

There’s a word in the intelligence community for guys like Stanley Levison. They’re called “handlers.”

Stanley Levison joined the CPUSA in 1946 just when the wartime alliance between the US and the Soviet Union was crumbling. (See John Barron’s Operation Solo: Our Man Inside the Kremlin. ) Unlike party members who joined in the 1930’s, he cannot claim that he was attracted to the Communist Party only because of its fervent opposition to Hitler’s Germany. He was, like every other CPUSA member at the time, a fanatical defender of Stalin and Soviet Communism. If he hadn’t been he would have been quickly shown the door.

Even before Levison was introduced to King the FBI had already identified him as a party treasurer. Levison’s duties might explain why he was so closely involved in the “civil rights movement’s” finances. Where all that money came from is anybody’s guess but it’s not outlandish to consider the Kremlin as one possible source.

What we do know is that the CPUSA always did the Soviet Union’s bidding. Professor Harvey Klehr et al. argue convincingly in their excellent book The Soviet World of American Communism that the CPUSA was a willing instrument of Soviet policymakers. Their assertion is based on extensive review of Soviet archives opened to scholars in the early 1990s.

They write:
“[A]t every period of the CPUSA’s history, the American communists looked to their Soviet counterparts for advice on how to conduct their own party business. But there was more to it than that: these documents show that the CPUSA was never an independent political organization. There were moments when it was less strictly controlled by Moscow than at others, but there was never a time when CPUSA made its decisions autonomously, without being obliged to answer to or—more precisely—without wishing to answer to Soviet authority.”
It should come as no surprise then that Levison was observed in 1962 by FBI counterintelligence meeting with the undercover KGB man Viktor Lesiovsky, who was then working ostensibly as an assistant to UN Secretary-General U Thant. This was after Levison “quit” CPUSA.

The Soviet Union was the puppet master pulling Levison’s strings through the CPUSA. Stanley Levison in turn was pulling MLK’s strings. A single tissue-thin layer separated King from Moscow and both sides knew it.

Once one understands this basic fact, so much else becomes clear—King’s insistence on an even more aggressive war on poverty at the expense of military spending, for example. Geez, why might the Soviets be interested in that? Consider his constant racial agitation. Might a divided America be a weaker foe? The Soviets certainly thought so.

Martin Luther King was dishonest, cowardly, and downright seditious. He was no hero and the world would be a better place if he had never existed.
Related: • Today, MLK Jr Would Be Unemployable in America,
Given That He Would Be Anathema to Most Americans… of the Left (!)

• None Other Than MLK Welcomed Judgment,
So Why the #$#%$@# Should We NOT Judge Wendy Davis?! 

• Kim Davis and Martin Luther King both defied the law for the same reason
Both agree that they have an obligation to disobey any law that is unjust

Is it time to say that MLK does not deserve all of the adoration we heap upon him?

A Few Black People in the 1960s Not Being Martyrized by White America

• Is It Possible?! What If All Southern Whites Weren't the Equals of Nazis
and What If the South Had Not Been a Total Racialist Nightmare?!

• Witness the Unbelievable Amount of Racism
That Exists Among Conservatives and in the Tea Party

Saturday, March 24, 2018

RIP Col. Arnaud Beltrame, the French police officer who offered himself up in a hostage swap to a terrorist yelling “Allahu Akbar”

A French police officer who offered himself up in a hostage swap Friday after an armed man reportedly yelling “Allahu Akbar” went on a rampage in southern France, has died
report Kathleen Joyce and Lucia I. Suarez Sang on Fox News.
Details about the death of the officer, identified as Col. Arnaud Beltrame, were not immediately available.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb wrote in a tweet early Saturday that Beltrame had "died for his country."

The officer had offered himself up unarmed to the 25-year-old attacker in exchange for a female hostage.

He managed to surreptitiously leave his cellphone on so that police outside could hear what was going on inside the supermarket.

Officials said once they heard shots inside the market they decided to storm it, killing the gunman.

Beltrame was grievously injured, and his death raised the toll from the attack to four.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest since Emmanuel Macron became president last May.

Police said the suspect, identified as Redouane Lakdim, 26, carjacked a vehicle, shot at police and barricaded himself inside a Super U supermarket in Trebes before officers stormed in, fatally shooting him.

The Associated Press adds that
The mother of a French police officer who was killed after he swapped himself for a hostage during an Islamic extremist attack on a supermarket says that she wasn't surprised by her son's courage.

Col. Arnaud … Beltrame's mother told RTL radio Friday night before the announcement of his death that
"I'm not surprised. I knew it had to be him. He has always been like that. It's someone, since he was born, who gives everything for his homeland." 
Asked if she was proud of him, she said he would have told her "'I'm doing my job mom, that's all.'"

She said to "defend the homeland" was his "reason for living."

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hergé Exhibit in Odense's Brandts Museum Visited by Crown Prince Frederik

Jakob Stegelmann (th) var med som Tintin-ekspert, da kronprins Frederik så udstillingen på Brandts. V til H: Erik Svane, Belgisk ambassadør Leo Peeters, Odense borgmester Peter Rahbæk Juel, Kronprins Frederik, direktør for Brandts Mads Damsbo, Jakob Stegelmann
At the last moment, I was asked to join the tour of Brandts's Hergé exhibit in Odense for Crown Prince Frederik, since I had met the Belgian artist as a child when one of the Danish Embassy's top honchos (none other than my father) helped get two signed Tintin albums to the Danish princes (the one to Kronprins Frederik being Tintin au Tibet). Photos by Fyns Stifitstidendes Birgitte Carol Holberg
Kronprins Frederik fik en rundvisning i den nye Hergé-udstilling af flere Tintin-eksperter. Her snakker han med Nick Rodwell, direktør for Musée Hergé, mens borgmester Peter Rahbæk Juel (i midten) og tengeserie-elsker Jakob Stegelmann (th) ser på. V til H: Nick Rodwell, Belgisk ambassadør Leo Peeters (skjult), Kronprins Frederik, Erik Svane, Odense borgmester Peter Rahbæk Juel, unknown, Jakob Stegelmann. (Michael Farr var også tilstede.)

More photos aqui

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The language of equality misses out the despised new underclass: cis males

The Judges’ handbook on the language of equality misses out the despised new underclass: Oxbridge-educated, cis males. Thus writes Giles Coren in the Times of London:
According to a story in Thursday’s Times, a handbook has at last been published offering judges “advice in how to avoid giving offence”.

 … Thank heavens. We live in better and more enlightened times. Overt racism and sexism are not tolerated anywhere, by anyone. Except in the White House, of course. So what the Judicial College is looking to stamp out now, as the noose tightens around those who would seek to upset their fellow humans with outrageous prejudice, are words like “Afro-Caribbean” (which I didn’t know was actively offensive but is a mouthful and I’d never say it anyway), “transsexual” (which I assumed was fine but should apparently be “trans person”), “ethnic minority” (which I truly thought was just a description of when one ethnic group is outnumbered by another), and “postman”, which is obviously downright bloody disgusting fascist language and must be stamped out now, or we will soon be in a situation like Germany in 1933, with postmen first being denied marriage licences and council flats, then being hounded into special “postie” ghettos, then “relocated in the East” and ultimately marched to their deaths in the gas chambers of Poland — all of which, the Equal Treatment Bench Book asserts, can be avoided by merely calling them “postal operatives” instead. So a big “phew” for that.

And speaking of gas chambers, they are also looking to stamp out the word “Jew” on account of its “potentially negative connotations”. So does that mean I am not one any more? I mean, it’s great that judges are being told not to chase me down the street throwing rashers of bacon at me, shouting “Jew! Jew! Jew!”, because frankly I have had enough of that, but if it’s at the expense of my using the only word I can think of to describe my racial identity then maybe I’m not such a big winner after all.

And “Jew” is my racial identity only, by the way. I do not practise. I am a “Jew” only in the way that a black person is black. Although with more counting money and less dancing. Is that racist? Yes. But only because I said “Jew”, according to the handbook. What I should have said was “Jewish person”. Because that is MASSIVELY different.

It’s like when Benedict Cumberbatch got hauled up (rightly) for saying “coloured actors” and we suddenly learnt that “person of colour” was a thing. So white columnists all started writing “person of colour” everywhere to show how liberal they were, until Twitter exploded with pissed-off black people, shouting, “I’m not a person of colour! I am a black woman!” And damn right. Because euphemism is the worst thing of all. It compels people to apologise linguistically for being who they are.

The political correctness movement did a wonderful thing from the mid-1980s onwards to change the language used about groups who had suffered years of bigotry. But changing the focus of language did not reduce the sum total of hate. You can’t do that.

Telling a blind person — as the handbook recommends — that she is “a person with sensory impairment” does not give her back her sight.

 … In ten years on social media, nobody has ever called me a y**. Or even a Jewish person. But every time I write something that the millennials don’t like, they pour forth a stream of personal abuse centred around such new disentitlements as being “privileged”, “cis male”, “Oxbridge” and “public school”, all of them accidents of birth which my abusers believe should disqualify me from work in the media.
When I write something angry they ask, “U okay hon?” which, in case you didn’t know, is the modern way of suggesting that a person is experiencing mental health issues. It is exactly the same as calling someone with depression a “spastic in the head”. It’s just new words for an old thing. No less hate.

And when the swarms of millennials who will misread this piece for a defence of bigotry set about snarling “privileged, public school, cisgender male!” at me, they will do it — just like the tribal Labour supporter who yells “Tory scum!” with a venom that passes way beyond the realm of political dissent — with every ounce as much hatred as any black-shirted Mosleyite ever shouted “n***er!” or “p*ki!”

So I’m going to say to the judges: burn your stupid handbooks (although not in a Nazi way) and just show respect for your fellow humans. And if that leads to a Holocaust of the postmen, well . . . my bad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Michael Moore's Comments on the 2018 Elections Are Revelatory of His Admitted Devotion to Marxism—"Dude, I am on Marx's Tomb!"—Never Disclosed by the MSM

“I want you to know that in this election you are not electing a member of the House of Representatives. You are electing the jury for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Never forget that over these next few months.”
When Michael Moore gives Democrats that message (thanks to Stephen Green) — he is actually quoting "a Democrat running in my district in Michigan" — he does not realize how revealing he is of the true nature of the Democrat Party. (Thanks to Ed Driscoll for the Instalink.)

A jury is supposed to be impartial — with lots of vetting from both defense and prosecution before each person is accepted as a bona fide member of said jury.

For leftists like Michael Moore, the courts, like the people in general, are supposed to fulfill the desires of the élites — our betters — and of the (Deep) State, in the same fashion as the kangaroo courts do or did in all authoritarian countries, from Nazi Germany to Sovet Russia.

How strange is that, however, for a man who, 11 years ago, basically admitted to a French newspaper that he was a full-fledged Marxist?

In the States, mainstream media types have called Michael Moore's Sicko his "least political film". But in his interview with Thomas Sotinel, the Le Monde reporter states that this seems to be Michael's coming-out as "a socialist". To which Moore answers (retranslated from the French) that, in a scene in Sicko,
I film myself on Marx's tomb. Nobody mentioned it. In the reviews in America, they wrote, "it's his least political film." And I say: "Dude, I am on Marx's Tomb!" Do I need to take out a baseball bat and hit them on the head [for them to understand]?!
In case you hadn't understood, this says — and this reveals — almost more about the powers-that-be (both in the U.S. and abroad) than about Michael Moore: being on the socialist/marxist-bordering left, for the MSM and America's Eastern élites (as for Europe's MSM and élites), is mainstream, is normal, is understandable, is OK, is cool. It is avant-garde. Beyond being (naturally) avant-garde and therefore (obviously) a positive and endearing trait, it hardly bares mentioning. And it is "not political" (that's only a dirty game that America's hit-below-the-belt Republicans play).

Sarkozy Accused of Accepting Millions of Euros from Libya for His 2007 Campaign; Did Gadhafi and Other Africans Also Fill Obama's Coffers in the 2008 Elections?

The AP's Samuel Petrequin reports (hat tip to Instapundit) that
Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody … as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal campaign financing from the regime of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi …
No Pasarán has reported on this before — and on something far worse (see below) — and tried to bring it to the attention of American conservatives. Back in 2011, Instapundit quoted Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating as reporting on the Qaddafi régime's response to the French government's recognition of Libya's rebel forces, through Colonel Kaddhafi's son.
Saif al-Islam: “Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything. The first thing we want this clown to do is to give the money back to the Libyan people.”
But that ain't all.

Far from it!

France ain't alone and Sarkozy's winning 2007 presidential campaign may hardly be the only one.

Time to head West, over the Atlantic.

As No Pasarán reported back in 2011, a question to be asked is
Is it possible that Obama's reluctance to interfere in the Libyan crisis has something to do with secrets?
Five months before the 2008 election, indeed, in June of that year,
E-nough's Damien reported on a speech (broadcast and translated by Memritv), which was held by none other than the "Brotherly Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya". (We will look away from Gaddafi's birther credentials, even though from his perspective, calling Obama a Kenyan, an African, and/or a Muslim is hardly a smear — far from it.) [Here is what Gadhafi said]
There are elections in America now. Along came a black citizen of Kenyan African origins, a Muslim, who had studied in an Islamic school in Indonesia. His name is Obama. All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man. They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency.
From: Qaddafi in June 2008: Hints That He and Other "Arabs and Africans Are Involved" in Contribution Drives for Obama's Presidential Campaign

Monday, March 19, 2018

Snowfalls a Thing of the Past? Europe Is Colder than the North Pole

Europe is being battered by unusually frigid conditions even as temperatures at the North Pole soar well above normal.
As the month of March 2018 started, Kendra Pierre-Louis reported that Europe was colder than the North Pole. So, naturally, with all the hoopla around global warming for the past few decades, her New York Times article could not only report on the (climate) news, it also had to explain how on Earth (yes, that's also meant literally) this could be the case. [Update: thanks to Ed Driscoll for the Instalink.] In the process, Kendra Pierre-Louis managed to repeat myths such as the one that "human-caused climate change … is agreed upon by 97 percent of climate scientists."

Related: Unexpected! The Puzzling Reason Why So Many People Remain Skeptical of Global Warming and Climate Change 

Back to The New York Times:
Subfreezing temperatures have spread across much of Europe over the past week, stretching from Poland to Spain. Snow fell in Rome for the first time in six years. Norway recorded the lowest temperatures of the cold snap: minus 43 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42 Celsius) in the southeast part of the country on Thursday [March 1].

And on Friday [March 2], Britain and Ireland were buffeted by a storm that brought snow and high winds, along with cold that was expected to linger for days.

If Europe feels like the Arctic right now, the Arctic itself is balmy by comparison. The North Pole is above the freezing mark in the dead of winter; there are no direct measurements there, but merging satellite data with other temperature data shows that temperatures soared this week to 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). That is 50 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and 78 degrees warmer than in parts of Norway.
The Arctic warmth and the European cold snap have raised questions over whether the unusual weather occurrences are linked to each other, and if they are somehow related to climate change. Here are some answers.

Are the Arctic and European weather patterns connected?

Probably, according to Judah Cohen, a climatologist who is director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a weather risk assessment firm. Dr. Cohen is the author of a 2017 study that linked a warming Arctic to the intermittent blasts of cold that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere have come to know as the polar vortex.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure system that, as its name suggests, ordinarily rests over the North Pole. (There is also a polar vortex over the Antarctic.)

When it behaves normally, the polar vortex helps trap cold air in the Arctic.

“It’s locking in that cold air at the high latitudes in the Arctic region,” Dr. Cohen said, comparing the polar vortex to a dam holding back the frigid arctic air from the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
But sometimes that dam bursts as the polar vortex weakens and allows cold air to escape the Arctic to more temperate climes. This has always happened from time to time, but a growing body of research suggests that because of climate change the warming Arctic is weakening the polar vortex.

Why is the polar vortex weakening?

Researchers are still figuring out how the warming Arctic is triggering the polar vortex’s aberrant behavior. Some of them, including Dr. Cohen, point to melting sea ice, caused by global warming. Dr. Cohen says the loss of ice creates patterns of high pressure near the Barents Sea and Kara Sea off northern Russia. That high pressure blocks the low-pressure system of the polar vortex, weakening it in the process.

There is not yet a scientific consensus over the root cause of the weakening polar vortex; it’s fair to say that it is not as definitive as, say, the evidence for human-caused climate change, which is agreed upon by 97 percent of climate scientists.

But it’s worth noting that in January the extent of Arctic sea ice was the lowest ever recorded for the first month of the year. In some parts of the Arctic the sea ice is already breaking up before winter’s end. And Arctic sea ice has been declining since at least the late 1970s.

What happens when the polar vortex weakens?

When the polar vortex weakens it allows cold air to escape and head south. This is what Dr. Cohen suspects happened in late December and early January when the Northeast United States endured some of its coldest temperatures on record. Other researchers who conducted a rapid analysis of the weather event aren’t so sure, though they stress theirs is just a first pass at the data.

 … meanwhile, some countries like Spain that are wholly unused to the cold are freezing.

That explains why Europe is freezing, but why is the Arctic so warm right now?

Dr. Cohen likens the Arctic to the refrigerator in your kitchen. When the refrigerator door is closed, the fridge stays cold and the kitchen stays warm, but if you leave the fridge door open all the cold air comes out. Because air is spilling out of the fridge, it has to be replaced by surrounding air — air also has to flow into the fridge, or in this case the Arctic. And since the air outside the Arctic is warmer, it will necessarily move in.

For the first time in over 30 years, reports Géo, Corsica's capital is covered with snow.

Those explanations are all good'n'well, but as a Prager U video reveals, the New York Times is repeating a myth ("human-caused climate change … is agreed upon by 97 percent of climate scientists") that, according to Alex Epstein, Director of the Center for Industrial Progress and author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, has a shady source, is a manipulative scare tactic disguised as scientific claim, and should never be used by anyone with intellectual honesty.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

“Will Republicans keep control of the House in the midterm elections?”

With regards to the "special Congressional election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District that Trump won by 20 points in 2016" and that a Democrat claims to have won, it is instructive to remember that reported from CPAC that the most frequently-asked question at the conservative get-together could be surprising to many:
 … outside the ballroom, there was one question repeatedly on the minds of conservative media people who lined “Broadcast Row.” Surprisingly, the question discussed both openly and privately had nothing to do with gun control or the NRA.

What was this question you ask? Drum roll: “Will Republicans keep control of the House in the midterm elections?”
This helps to explain why Myra Adams
set out on a mission to find the real reason for [Donald Trump's] historically early re-election announcement.
In any case, Myra points out that the President addressed the issue during his rousing CPAC speech:
Perhaps Trump heard the question was being raised. In his Friday speech, in what was uncharacteristically negative talk for Trump, the president warned that after his 2016 victory he knows Republicans could be “clobbered” in the midterms due to complacency among GOP voters. “That’s why you have to get out and you have to fight for 2018. You have to do it,” he said.

Trump also explained his theory of historic midterm election losses for a new president:
“I’ve finally figured it out. What happens is you fight so hard to win the presidency, you fight, fight, fight, and now you’ve got to go and fight again, but you just won.”
Incidentally, the freelance journalist was one of many people interviewed at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel by Da Tech Guy.

Limitation à 80 km/h : le problème n’est pas la vitesse, mais la lenteur !

Le site Contrepoints ("le seul média qui défend vos idées") a un auteur invité

Limitation à 80 km/h : le problème n’est pas la vitesse, mais la lenteur !

C’est une limite de lenteur que la France, comme seul pays de l’Union Européenne, propose régulièrement de réduire encore plus, en particulier avec la nouvelle loi sur les 80km/h sur les routes.
Par Erik Svane.

La limitation de la vitesse à 80km/h sur les routes ne vise pas à protéger les citoyens mais à les soumettre aux impératifs de la lenteur. Par rapport à la seule politique de la sécurité routière en France, ne semblerait-il pas exagéré d’avancer qu’elle montrerait que le gouvernement est tyrannique et que les citoyens sont des esclaves ?

Et pourtant…

Le problème fondamental avec la soi-disant sécurité routière, c’est que dès la case départ, les autorités trichent — le gouvernement triche avec les termes de base propres à la conversation.
Lire aussi Limitation à 80 km/h : la bourse ou la vie ?
Nous parlons évidemment d’expressions comme la limite de vitesse ainsi que le mauvais comportement des délinquants punis pour excès de vitesse ou vitesse excessive.

Quand les conducteurs lambda sont verbalisés, ce n’est pas pour avoir roulé trop vite, non, pas du tout. N’ayons pas peur de dire la vérité, c’est pour ne pas avoir roulé assez lentement.

Ne pas se laisser tromper par la langue

La conclusion est inévitable : on ne devrait pas dire la limite de vitesse — expression qui serait à assimiler à la Novlangue (La liberté c’est l’esclavage) dans le roman d’anticipation de George Orwell, 1984 — mais la limite de lenteur ; et les VMA (les Vitesses Maximales Autorisées) devraient donc être nommées les LMA (les Lenteurs Maximales Autorisées).

C’est une limite de lenteur que la France, comme seul pays de l’Union Européenne, propose régulièrement de réduire encore plus ; et pour quelle raison sinon accroître la répression, la persécution, et le matraquage des citoyens ?

Jean Much explique que, de fait, le mot « vitesse » a deux significations :
C’est la confusion savamment entretenue par les pouvoirs publics entre « excès de vitesse » qui, au sens légal, signifie juste « dépassement de la limitation de vitesse en vigueur » et « vitesse excessive » qui signifie « rouler réellement trop vite par rapport aux conditions de circulation, au profil de la route, à la météo, etc.
Or, ces deux notions n’ont absolument rien à voir ! Dépasser la limitation de vitesse en vigueur ne présente en soi aucun danger, a fortiori quand la limitation en question est absurde et totalement contre nature pour un conducteur digne de ce nom (trop basse de manière injustifiée et l’on rejoint là la notion de lenteur). La vitesse excessive, elle, est la véritable source de danger.
Bien entendu, tout le système répressif est basé sur le fait de sanctionner des excès de vitesse au sens légal (c’est-à-dire rentable) du terme en les assimilant à de la vitesse excessive… Et conduit à sanctionner, dans l’immense majorité des cas des comportements qui ne sont en fait pas dangereux…
En l’espace de cinq heures, un jour de mars 2015, un seul et unique radar de la police danoise a recueilli tellement d’argent sur une minuscule portion de l’autoroute au sud de Copenhague qu’il a fait la Une des quotidiens du Danemark. Mais ce qui importe, ce n’est pas que les autorités avaient encaissé 2 millions de couronnes (presque 270.000 euros) en moins d’un quart de journée, c’est que l’article ne faisait état d’aucune victime, ni même d’un seul accident de la journée, voire d’un seul accrochage.

La vitesse n’a rien à voir avec la sécurité

Il n’y a pas 36 conclusions à tirer de cette observation. Si des milliers de véhicules peuvent conduire « dangereusement » en « violant » les lois sécuritaires sans le moindre accident ou accrochage (et ce quel que soit le pays), c’est que les limites de vitesse (sic) n’ont que peu, sinon rien à voir avec la sécurité ; du coup, quelle autre conclusion tirer que les radars ne sont rien d’autre qu’un racket ?

Pis : on pourrait en outre accuser les gouvernements d’entraver leur rôle attitré (la protection de la population) et de rendre la route plus dangereuse pour tous.

La première cause de mortalité sur les autoroutes, en effet — ces routes qui sont les plus sûres du pays —, ce n’est nullement la vitesse mais la somnolence. Or, quelle est la cause de la somnolence si ce n’est une limite de vitesse (sic) soporifique (ou plutôt une limite de lenteur soporifique) ?

De quand date cette limite de 130 km/h ? Des années… 1970. Les autos n’auraient-elles pas évolué technologiquement depuis plus de 40 ans ? (Comparer les téléphones de l’époque — tournez-le, ce cadran ! — avec les smartphones d’aujourd’hui…) Et par ailleurs, pour quelle raison la limite a-t-elle été instaurée ? Pour la sécurité (de tous) ? Non, pour des raisons purement économiques (réagir au choc pétrolier causé par l’OPEP)…

Contre les robots

Un mot pour ceux qui défendent machinalement les autorités, j’ai nommé les yakas (y’a qu’à se taire et respecter la limite de vitesse, y’a qu’à jamais dépasser 130, y’a qu’à passer 2-3 heures de plus sur la route (tout en accroissant le nombre de véhicules sur lesdites routes et donc les risques d’un embouteillage en plus du danger d’un accident), y’a qu’à pas s’endormir au volant, y’a qu’à jamais être en retard, y’a qu’à payer les contraventions avec humilité, y’a qu’à accepter de se faire traiter comme des enfants turbulents qui doivent se taire et obéïr tout en restant bien sages, etc…) : la pensée, le véritable désir des YAKAs — qu’ils soient parmi nos dirigeants ou parmi la population —, c’est que les citoyens sont, ou qu’ils devraient devenir, des pantins, des robots.

Avec les airbags, les systèmes de freinage ABS, et autres modernités, une limitation raisonnable sur autoroute devrait être autour de 150—160 km/h (50 en ville, bien entendu, pour la vie des piétons), voire être sans restrictions comme chez nos voisins allemands qui n’ont nullement une mortalité plus élevée sur Autobahn qu’en Hexagone, au contraire.

La bonne conduite, et donc la sécurité, pour toute personne utilisant son cerveau et son bon sens c’est regarder principalement la route et  faire attention aux objets qui bougent (autres véhicules, passants, animaux…) — qui signalent êtres humains ou êtres vivants…

Ce qu’exigent les yakas, c’est : regarder principalement l’intérieur du véhicule (le tableau de bord et ses tachymètres) et faire attention aux objects fixes (panneaux de signalisation etc…) sans âme et sans vie…

Laquelle des deux conduites est la plus intelligente ? Lequel des deux conducteurs est le plus attentif à autrui ?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We’ve all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on the Nordic countries

Americans are not just a few policy changes away from becoming happy Norwegians or Finns
writes Jim Geraghty in National Review.
Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig links to, but does not mention by name, my morning newsletter item responding to her original column declaring, “It’s time to give Socialism a try.” In her response, she writes, “I hadn’t named the Nordic countries in my piece, but my opponents were quick to discard them from the conversation.” Perhaps a longer discussion about why America shouldn’t try to become like the Nordic countries — and would fail if it tried — is in order.

1) The Nordic system kills innovation, and the United States’ adopting it would have dire consequences for the world economy.

As Daron Acemoglu, an eminent economist at MIT, wrote in 2013:
In our model (which is just that, a model), U.S. citizens would actually be worse off if they switched to a cuddly capitalism. Why? Because this would reduce the world’s growth rate, given the U.S.’s oversized contribution to the world technology frontier. In contrast, when Sweden switches from cutthroat to cuddly capitalism (or vice versa), this does not have an impact on the long-run growth rate of the world economy, because the important work is being done by U.S. innovation.
2) Most of what American progressives envy about the Scandinavian countries existed before they expanded their welfare state, and America’s voices on the left are mixing up correlation with causation.

As Nima Sanandaji, a Swedish author of Kurdish origin who holds a Ph.D. from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, wrote in 2015:
Many of the desirable features of Scandinavian societies, such as low income inequality, low levels of poverty and high levels of economic growth predated the development of the welfare state. These and other indicators began to deteriorate after the expansion of the welfare state and the increase in taxes to fund it.
3) At its biggest, most far-reaching, and invasive form in the late 20th century, the Nordic model crushed startups and the growth of new companies. “As of 2000,” Johan Norberg writes, “just one of the 50 biggest Swedish companies had been founded after 1970.”

4) It’s easier to get people to buy into a collectivist idea when everyone has a lot in common. As Robert Kaiser, an associate editor of the Washington Post, wrote after a three-week trip to Finland in 2005:
Finland is as big as two Missouris, but with just 5.2 million residents, it’s ethnically and religiously homogeneous. A strong Lutheran work ethic, combined with a powerful sense of probity, dominates the society. Homogeneity has led to consensus: Every significant Finnish political party supports the welfare state and, broadly speaking, the high taxation that makes it possible. And Finns have extraordinary confidence in their political class and public officials. Corruption is extremely rare.
5) That collectivism is driven, in part, by taking away choices from people. In Finland there are no private schools or universities. As Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education’s Center for International Mobility, said in 2011: “In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same.”

6) Having all of your needs handled by the state does not cultivate a sense of responsibility, independence, motivation, or gratitude. Here’s Kaiser again:
I was bothered by a sense of entitlement among many Finns, especially younger people. Sirpa Jalkanen, a microbiologist and biotech entrepreneur affiliated with Turku University in that ancient Finnish port city, told me she was discouraged by “this new generation we have now who love entertainment, the easy life.” She said she wished the government would require every university student to pay a “significant but affordable” part of the cost of their education, “just so they’d appreciate it.”
7) Some might argue that the quasi-socialist system of Nordic countries eliminates one group of problems but introduces new ones. But in some cases, these countries have the same problems as the United States, only worse — the problems are simply not discussed as openly. As British journalist Michael Booth argues:
We’ve all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on them. The Nordic countries are, for example, depicted as paragons of political correctness, yet you still see racial stereotypes in the media here — the kind of thing which would be unthinkable in the U.S. Meanwhile, though it is true that these are the most gender-equal societies in the world, they also record the highest rates of violence towards women — only part of which can be explained by high levels of reporting of crime.
8) If the government is paying for everything, why is Denmark’s average household debt as a share of disposable income three times that of the United States? Meanwhile, the household-debt share in both Sweden and Norway is close to double that of the United States. The cost of living is particularly high in these countries, and the high taxation means take-home pay is much less than it is under our system.

9) Nordic-system evangelists would have you believe that citizens of freer-market countries are stressed while those living under generous social-welfare systems are happier and more relaxed. If American-style capitalism is depressing and dehumanizing, why are Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway not that far behind us, ranking in the top twelve countries for antidepressant use? Is it just the long winters? Why are their drug-related deaths booming? Isn’t it possible that a generous, far-reaching welfare state depletes people’s sense of drive, purpose, and self-respect, and enables them to explore chemical forms of happiness?

10) I saved the most important reason for last: If the government is to take on a bigger and more powerful role in redistributing wealth, citizens first must be willing to put their faith in the government. But in the United States, public trust is historically low — which goes well beyond President Trump’s implausible “I alone can fix it” boast or Obama’s broken “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” pledge.
If the government is to take on a bigger role, citizens first must be willing to put their faith in the government. But in the United States, public trust is historically low.
A lot of progressives seem to think that conservatives distrust the government because of some esoteric philosophical theory, or because we had some weird dream involving Ayn Rand. In reality, it’s because we’ve been told to trust the government before — and we’ve gotten burned, time and time again.
Government doesn’t louse up everything, but it sure louses up a lot of what it promises to deliver: from the Big Dig to; from letting veterans die waiting for health care to failing to prioritize the levees around New Orleans and funding other projects instead; from 9/11 to the failure to see the housing bubble that precipitated the Great Recession; from misconduct in the Secret Service to the IRS targeting conservative groups; from lavish conferences at the General Services Administration to the Solyndra grants; from the runaway costs of California’s high-speed-rail project to Operation Fast and Furious; from the OPM breach to giving Hezbollah a pass on trafficking cocaine.

The federal government has an abysmal record of abusing the public’s trust, finances, and its own authority. Now some people want it to take on a bigger role? If you want to enact a massive overhaul of America’s economy and government to redistribute wealth, you first have to demonstrate that you can accomplish something smaller, like ensuring every veteran gets adequate care. Until then, if you want to live like a Norwegian, buy a plane ticket.
Adds Ben Shapiro:
The Washington Post columnist [Elizabeth Bruenig] memorably wrote last week that she wished for an upsurge in support for socialism. I critiqued that column. Now she’s written a response to that critique, claiming that I (among others) interpreted her in bad faith for mentioning several countries that have tried socialism and failed, from Venezuela to the Soviet Union, and for pointing out that many of the supposedly socialist countries that socialists so often proclaim as their examples aren’t actually socialist (see, for example, Denmark and Sweden).

 … Finally, she decides on her favorite new socialist paradise: Norway.

 … First off, a huge portion of Norway’s wealth ownership is thanks to their nationalization of their oil industry; like the United Arab Emirates or Venezuela, this gives them an enormous amount of cash to play with (their social wealth fund, worth $1 trillion, was seeded with oil money). The oil industry represents approximately 22% of Norway’s GDP two-thirds of their exports. (It also pays for 36% of the national government’s revenue.) That’s not the extent of their government holdings — Norway also nationalized all German-owned stocks after World War II, which partially explains the state’s high level of ownership of the stock market. Stockholding in companies does not mean the state runs the companies — in fact, the board runs the companies separately, not for the benefit of the state specifically or for the benefit of the workers, as Marx would prefer; Norwegian law requires that all shareholders be treated equally, with no preference for state shareholders. In fact, companies in which the state owns majority stock have even gone into bankruptcy before. The state essentially operates along the lines of so-called “state capitalism.”

Furthermore, Norway is a relatively friendly business climate; Heritage Foundation ranks it 23rd in the world, with the United States ranking 18th.

More than that, it’s important to recognize that the total population of Norway is 5.6 million; the total population of the United States is 323 million. It’s also rather important to recognize the cultural homogeneity of Norway: just 15.6% of the population are immigrants or children of immigrants, and 32% of the population has a higher education degree. Why does that matter? Because if we’re to compare Norway and the United States, we should probably compare Norwegian Americans with Norwegians in Norway. Here’s National Review’s Nima Sanandaji:
It was mainly the impoverished people in the Nordic countries who sailed across the Atlantic to found new lives. And yet, as I write in my book, Danish Americans today have fully 55 percent higher living standard than Danes. Similarly, Swedish Americans have a 53 percent higher living standard than Swedes. The gap is even greater, 59 percent, between Finnish Americans and Finns. Even though Norwegian Americans lack the oil wealth of Norway, they have a 3 percent higher living standard than their cousins overseas.
So, how’s state capitalism working out? Norway has a significantly higher per capita GDP than that of the United States — about $70,600 per year, as opposed to $59,500 in the United States. But a large portion of that per capita GDP is due to oil wealth.

 … Norway is an incredibly expensive country to live: it’s the second-most expensive country to buy food in Europe, and the most expensive to buy alcohol and tobacco. A haircut can cost $50. Vehicles can cost nearly twice as much as in the United States, and food costs vastly more than in the United States. There’s a reason that in 2013, Norway elected a far more conservative government — and they re-elected that government in 2017.