Saturday, 20 May 2017

“I just choose to not listen”: why Trump supporters are tuning out the scandals - Vox

Yesterday's New York Times also had an article about how Trump supporters are getting little information -- if they stick to their favourite news sites and news channels -- about the whole Russia / Comey "things"

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 19 May 2017

Any Half-Decent Hacker Could Break Into Mar-a-Lago - ProPublica

Hmmmm.... and it's not just his "southern White House" that is vulnerable. Everywhere else Trump hangs out is vulnerable. To me, it seems to be way worse than Hillary's email issues.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, 18 May 2017

What Happens When Intelligence Agencies Lose Faith in the President? - The Atlantic

Like so much Trumpism: say something (anything) now, get others to fill
in the details later.  Same as with his "secret plan" to get rid of ISIS....
"... Donald Trump promised to shake up Washington. And what is being shaken is the trust of those who must carry out his orders..."

I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past.

Trump showing off "The Art of the Deal" early in the primary campaign
Well, this article on Trump's character and motivations is absolutely fascinating! 
By Tony Schwartz, the guy that co-wrote Trump's 1985 best-seller, "The Art of the Deal". Or, as Schwartz said in a 2015 Tweet: "I wrote The Art of the Deal. Trump read it". Which is pretty funny. And believable. One of the few books that Trump has read: his own ghost-written autobiography. 
By his own admission Trump doesn't read books. He is profoundly incurious. Why, he doesn't even read his briefing notes: The New York Times International says today "... that "Mr Trump [is] a hasty and indifferent reader of his briefing materials...".  Which is the reason he got into hot water revealing state secrets to the Russians earlier this week. (Trump of course doesn't see that he is in hot water, or if there's any blowback that it's in any way his fault. Schultz's article points out how nothing is ever Trump's fault). 
I came across Tony Schwartz via his interview on CNN this morning. As discussion swirls about the appointment of ex-FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate the "Russia thing" (Trump's words), and issues related -- a lot of which will be about fired NSA director Michael Flynn, his Russian and Turkish connections and why Trump allegedly asked Comey to halt the FBI investigation into Flynn. So much going on. 
And to think that on November 7 I was lamenting that with the election the 8th, all the fun, the twists and turns of the campaign would finish!  It was only just beginning. 
Note in the article how Trump boasts that he's the same now as he was as a six year old:
 “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,” he told a recent biographer, “I’m basically the same.” His development essentially ended in early childhood.
Why would one boast about that? Unless one were a... well... an idiot. 
Much is explained by Schwartz's article.

Related: "When the World is Led by a Child". NYT.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Joan C Williams on Trump, elitism and the white working class

Hope you can read this. (Pasted below the fold).
Interesting. Not your usual "progressive" take.
The WWC (White Working Class): we used to call this the Middle Class I believe. The backbone of America.
If professor Joan Williams is correct, then the Democrats really need to change their tune --- from identity politics, based on race and gender -- to focus on class and especially this group and their dignity. As she says "look at the friggin' New York Times!...". Indeed look at it! I read it daily and almost daily there's an article that makes you want to scream, so far off tune is it.
Joan Williams is a leftie. But a sane and sensible one who's excoriated by the regressive left.

"Ideological necrophilia" in Venezuela... and the Academy.

Moisés Naím got it spot on speaking to Fareed Zakaria's GPS show on CNN this morning: Chavez was and Maduro is in thrall to "ideological necrophilia". That is in passionate love with dead ideologies. In this case socialism. A very vivid phrase which nicely sums up the ideology crippling Venezuela. 
As Naim says: it (socialism) had been tried over and over and always the result is the same: "poverty, inequality and corruption". 
Yet the likes of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn still promote socialism. They ought to know better. And many university students, a distressingly large number, also want to crush capitalism and promote socialism. These kids don't know better because they've never experienced socialism (as I have in China of the 70s) and have been "educated" by hard-left of centre professors. 
Still, they're deceived if they think socialism is the answer to capitalism's shortcomings. It's no more the answer than "Islam is the answer" (as it is according to islamists). Socialism and Islamism: They're both the ideas of ideological necrophiliacs. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

3 Things You Should Know About Indonesia's Growing Radicalization | Clarion Project Clarion Project

The country we're going to. Makes you wonder if we should. E celt to support a he sane voices at the end.
Meantime: sharia brings nothing but fear to the citizens of Ache.
The religion of peace.

Sent from my iPhone

National Review | Conservative News, Opinion, Politics, Policy & Current Events

A beautiful -- that is to say, insane -- example of the regressive left at work...
Sent from my iPhone

FBI Agents Worry White House Will Kneecap Russia Probe

The Don and his Goodfellas
From my time at senior levels in government, the take in this piece in the Daily Beast reads spot on.  There are serious concerns here, friends. All those Republicans saying "don't worry, the investigation will go on", are just blowing smoke in our faces, knowingly (knaves) or not (fools):
Betsy Woodruff & Jana Winter:
On Tuesday night, after James Comey got fired, FBI agents tasked with thwarting Russian intelligence operations started drinking.
Two well-connected former FBI employees told The Daily Beast that counterintelligence agents working on the Russian counterintelligence program out of FBI headquarters in downtown Washington met for drinks in the hours after their boss’s firing and shared their concerns: that they would be reassigned elsewhere, and their work on the Russian-Trump associates investigation would come to a grinding halt.
And just in case consistency in Trump's positions were ever in doubt:


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Where Does France's New President Stand on Radical Islam? | Clarion Project Clarion Project

French Muslims now too big a voting bloc. Macron has to tread carefully,
more carefully than France needs
You see (dear friend who thinks Macron is going to be sound on Islam), French president-elect Macron is naive -- or duplicitous, or forced to be, because Muslims are so large a voting bloc -- about Islam, its place in modern French society, and his relationship with some of its shadier characters. This is not good news: he'll get played by these guys and their plethora of supporters. The result: more Islamist and Jihadi actions in France.

Owning Your Own Future | Thomas L. Friedman | NYT

However you see the future: Ya gottta keep changin'.... 

From Tom Friedman's article in today's New York Times, link below....

The notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 30 is over. If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner.
And that means: More is now on you. And that means self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important life skill.
That's why education-to-work expert Heather E. McGowan likes to say: "Stop asking a young person WHAT you want to be when you grow up. It freezes their identity into a job that may not be there. Ask them HOW you want to be when you grow up. Having an agile learning mind-set will be the new skill set of the 21st century."
Some are up for that, some not; and many want to but don't know how, which is why the College Board has reshaped the PSAT and SAT exams to encourage lifelong learning.
"We analyzed 250,000 students from the high school graduating class of 2017 who took the new PSAT and then the new SAT," College Board president David Coleman told me. "Students who took advantage of their PSAT results to launch their own free personalized improvement practice through Khan Academy advanced dramatically: 20 hours of practice was associated with an average 115-point increase from the PSAT to the SAT — double the average gain among students who did not.
"Practice advances all students without respect to high school G.P.A., gender, race and ethnicity or parental education. And it's free. Our aim is to transform the SAT into an invitation for students to own their future."
So the tough news is that more will be on you. The good news is that systems — like Khan-College Board — are emerging everywhere to enable anyone to accelerate learning for the age of acceleration.
Step back from all of this and it's clear that thriving countries today won't elect a strongman. They'll elect leaders who inspire and equip their citizens to be strong people who can own their own futures.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Some facts about Israel/Palestine | Melanie Phillips at Berkeley

West Bank, aka "Occupied Territories", aka Judea & Samaria
There's an argument about the demographics in Israel at the time of partition in 1947.  Benny Morris is one I've read a fair bit of, and I think he's reasonably straight, though rather critical of Israel, for my taste.  Demographics are not completely neutral.  You can have Jewish or Arabic majorities, depending which part of modern day "Palestine" or which part of historical "Mandatory Palestine", or which part of ancient historic Holy Lands, you take as your base.  My understanding is during the early part of the 20th century, during the time of the Peel Commission, the Balfour Letter and declaration, the League of Nations then United Nations, in the area that is now core Israel (i.e., not including West Bank, Jews were in the slight majority.
Then again if you trace it back -- as the Palestinians are always wont to do -- then the essential point is Melanie's: "we wuz here first".
She also gives UN resolution 242 a bit of an over-fast spin. It doesn't specifically give Israel the right to keep the West Bank; rather that a condition for giving it back had be the recognition of the state of Israel to live in peace. Israel accepted. The Palestinians did not. (As they said at the time, Yasser Arafat never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.)
In any case, a Melanie Phillips gives a useful summary here of the state of play with history. And one that university of Berkeley banned for fear its students would be "triggered" and 'harmed" by ideas. This is a truly scary development. Google "antifa" demos to see how fascist the "antiFascist" left can be...
Melanie's conclusion:
So we all have a choice. We can support the racist, colonialist, anti-democratic Palestinian agenda based on a police state, the oppression of gays and women, the goal of occupying the Jews' own country, antisemitism, racist ethnic cleansing and the expropriation not just of a people's land but their own history.
Or we can support Israel, the only country in the Middle East where Arabs and Muslims, women and gays have political and religious freedom, which stands for upholding democracy, law, justice and human rights and which genuinely wants coexistence rather than conflict.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

"A slight whiff of hope for Middle East peace", 8 May

I don't agree with your Leader that Hamas' abandoning its rejectionist stance towards a Palestinian state gives cause for hope ("A slight whiff of hope for Middle East peace", 8 May). 
If only. 
But all Hamas has done is move from a one-step policy of annihilating Israel to a two-step policy of annihilating Israel: (1) grudgingly accept a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza and (2) *then* annihilate Israel. Meantime Hamas' Charter aims to kill Jews wherever they are remains intact (Article 7).  
The fact that it's taken Hamas four years (!) to budge this little ought to be cause for frustration and mockery, not for kudos. If the UN and western media had directed more of its criticism at the Palestinian side, instead of the constant drumbeat at Israel, perhaps the movement might have been more significant: accepting Israel's right to exist, for example. 
In the meantime the Hamas document deserves what it got at the hands of Netanyahu : consignment to the dustbin. He will probably be excoriated for that, but it's not Israel which has been rejectionist all these years. 
Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
Hong Kong

Monday, 8 May 2017

Israeli Arabs view country more positively than Jews, survey finds | The Times of Israel

More among Israel's Arab community than its Jewish population are satisfied with life in Israel and slightly over half are proud to be Israeli citizens, according to a survey released on 

The results of the poll, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Peace Index, were released ahead of Israel's 69th Independence Day that falls on Tuesday. The survey sought an appraisal of life in Israel, asking the question: "How's it going?"

Sent from my iPad

Friday, 5 May 2017

President Janet Morgan Riggs responds to open letter from alums on Robert Spencer | The Gettysburgian.

My comment on this issue is awaiting moderation.
Why are college Presidents becoming such pussies? It may seem the easier option at the outset, to give in to anti free speech bullies. But it's bad for them in the longer term as they implicitly encourage more bullying.
My comment to the President:
I have followed Robert Spencer for many years: his blog, books and videos. Conclusions:
1. He is not a bigot. He makes a clear distinction between Muslims as people and Islam as ideology
2. He is very knowledgeable about Islam.
3. He consistently stresses his aims: to pursue freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the rights of women and minorities.
4. He should be permitted to speak. For those who don't agree with him let them come along and tell him why.
The issue of his alleged bigotry should have been completely irrelevant.
This issue should not have been "extraordinarily complex and difficult" as made out by the President. Her line should have been: "I don't know about Mr Spencer or his views. In the interests of free speech, I will let him speak and you are free to *not* attend his speech or attend and challenge him if you disagree." End of.
Forse in Hong Kong

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Is Marine Le Pen really far-right? | Douglas Murray | The Spectator

I too have often wondered why the MSM regularly — pretty much without fail — call Marine Le Pen "far right". Like Murray ("Is Marine Le Pen really far-right?") I assume that it's her statements on the Islamic question in Europe. Which situation is dire, but still can't be addressed by lefties without one's being labelled "Islamophobic", and that's the end of it: you're "far right".
The always reliable Douglas Murray nails it again, in this essay.
Interesting info that I didn't know: majorities of Europeans favour the blocking of immigration from majority Muslim countries.  They're awake, even if their political overlords are asleep, or feigning sleep:

In February, Chatham House released a poll which asked 10,000 Europeans whether they agreed or not with the statement 'All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped'. The majority of the public in eight out of the ten countries surveyed (including France and Germany) agreed with its premise. In only two countries was this a minority opinion. In one of them — the UK — only 47 per cent of the public agreed that all further Muslim immigration should be stopped.
Of course, the habit of the political left and mainstream right continues to be to call all such opinion 'far-right', even when it encompasses the majority of the public. However, doing so ignores political shifts occurring due to events rather than incipient fascism, and scares away mainstream politicians from addressing — rather than merely bloviating around — societal problem voters are asking them to tackle. 

We should also look at the policies of the late and much admired Lee Kwan-yew, which I read in his Hard Truths.  He was concerned to keep social stability in the face of increasing Islamism by the approx 15% (IIRC) of the Singaporean population that was Muslim. He notes in Hard Truths that his Muslim colleagues and friends were becoming increasingly "fundametalist".  They used to shake his hand, go out and enjoy a lunch together, with beer.  Lately (he's talking of the 90's IIRC), he'd noticed that they would avoid shaking his hand and no longer go out for fun lunches with him. This, remember, is Lee Kwan-yew!  A world-famous figure, and no racist.  In any case, Lee's policies included, the following, that I reckon we should adopt in the west.  There was no blowback to Lee.  Any blowback in the west must therefore be "racist", right?!
Lee Kwan-yew policies, re Singapore's Muslim population:

(1) Close mosques that preach extreme Islamist messages.
(2) Don't allow any foreign funding of mosques.  

This latter policy might need to include foreign funding to churches, synagogues and temples, to give cover.  But it needs to be done for mosques because the majority of mosques in western countries are funded by Saudi Arabia and preach a Salafist/Wahhabi version of extreme, intolerant Islam.  Why should they be allowed to fund mosques that call for the death of their host countries?  To turn them into hellholes like Saudi and Iran?
Lee is pretty much as un-toxic as you can get, and more people who are worried about islamification of the west should read and promote his ideas.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Hamas will kill Jews a bit more slowly. Yay!

The media are falling all over it. (For example). A new "policy paper" from Hamas, four years (!) in the making, says it's not after Jews in particular, but the "Zionist project" (Israel). 
It won't try to kill Jews around the world. It will "accept" a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders which include the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
That is it will call off genocide. At least for now. It'll kill the Jews, oh yes, but slowly now.
That is, it will "accept" a "Two state solution" (TSS).  At least for now. 
But..... but.... wasn't a TSS the solution that was being blocked by the evil Israeli Jew-Zionist state? That's surely why the pro-Palestinian Left has brought pressure non-stop to Israel to make concessions,, to press it to "restart" the "peace process?  Sure sounded like it. But here you have it revealed -- something that was never hidden -- that Hamas, half of the government-to-be in a new Palestine State has only just now -- as of Monday, two days ago -- come on board with the TSS. 
But that's not the end of it. Oh no, not when you're dealing with the loony fringes of Palestinian demands. 
Hamas make clear that they're going to keep on fighting to take over the whole of what they call Palestine -- that is, the whole of Israel. "Palestine will be free. From the river to the sea". 
Now, why on earth would Israel want to start talking to Hamas on that basis?  Yet the pressure is already on from the western media: talk to Hamas now. They've made concessions. Their line is "softer". Like hell. 
Israel of course is not buying it. They say it's a "smokescreen". And of course it is. But many will be blinded by the smoke. 
Thank goodness Israel has the "war smarts". It's not dumb. And it's not suicidal.**
For ref: here is a part of Article 7 of the Hamas Charter of 1988. It has not been abrogated (yet) by the new "policy paper", as far as I know. 
Pretty horrid isn't it? 
But rarely is it mentioned by those who so readily find fault with Israel. 
As far as I can tell it's still valid, though the new policy paper may mitigate it. 
The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! 
** An Israel official said: "Instead of trying to destroy us in one go, they [Hamas/PA] will do it in two goes," and the charter is "cosmetics and nothing more". (Rory Jones in the Wall Street Journal, early May)

Keep ‘one country’ intact to enjoy the benefits of ‘two systems’ | Alex Lo, South China Morning Post

When we had the Occupy movement in 2014, I was worried the Central Government would tromp in to Hong Kong to squash it.  They didn't, but were certainly worried.  They got more worried when we started to see movements for "independence" of Hong Kong.  These are foolish in the extreme, I thought.  If there's one word that freaks Beijing, it's "independence", because it impacts so much more, specifically Taiwan and Tibet.
And if Beijing did indeed take over in Hong Kong, which country would do, or even say, anything?  Trump with his new BFF, Xi Jinping? Certainly not. The UK, tied up with Brexit? Hardly. Europe tied up with Brexit, various elections and huge trade with China?  No way.
And sure enough we now have various spokespeople threatening a termination of "One Country Two Systems", which been so far so good. 
I'd much rather -- and so would the vast majority of Hong Kong -- have a continuation of the status quo.  It's just fine, thanks.
I don't always agree with Alex Lo, in his "My Take" column for the South China Morning Post.  But here in his May 1 post, "Keep 'one country' intact to enjoy the benefits of 'two systems'",  he's spot on:

A First Step to Peace: Calm Angers, Then Talk -

New ideas below from 270 retired Israeli Generals (a network called "Commanders for Israel's Security") via Israel Policy Forum's Charles Bronfman and Susie Gelman
Israel’s separation barrier dividing east Jerusalem, left, 
from the West Bank Palestinian village of Anata.

A First Step to Peace: Calm Angers, Then Talk

Let’s face it: Current political realities have made a final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians unachievable now. So Israelis need to focus instead on creating conditions, on both sides, in which an accord might be possible in the future.

To be sure, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s visit to Israel last month and President Trump’s scheduled meeting on Wednesday with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, could lead to new talks.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

7 Steps to Defeating Islamism – Areo Magazine

This pretty much sums it up. It's a dire situation. And nowhere near to being a situation of "the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful". In actions, maybe. But not in thought. Muslims in the west, by large minorities or pluralities favour sharia law, not engaging with their compatriots, punishing minorities and gays, oppressing women, ...on and dreary on...

The steady flow of jihadist terrorist attacks striking European cities highlight the monumental failure of liberal democracies in opposing the great totalitarian menace of our time: Islamism. Yet, the deadly terrorist attacks are only the bloody tip of the iceberg. Documentaries in SwedenDenmarkBritain and Germany have exposed that mosques across Europe preach fundamentalist interpretations of Islam stressing the religious obligation to separate from non-Muslims, reject democracy and secular values in favor of religious laws including the death penalty for apostasy and infidelity, and sometimes even the obligation to wage jihad. A 2013 survey of Muslims of Moroccan and Turkish origin in six European countries showed that more than 40% had "fundamentalist" views and some 65% found "religious rules more important than secular laws."

The survey also found that a majority of those surveyed had ill-feelings towards homosexuals and thought that the West was out to "destroy Islam." A large minority thought "Jews cannot be trusted." In other words there is a sizable value-gap between a significant minority of European Muslims and the rest of the population that goes to the core of the most fundamental social and political principles of democratic society. While only a tiny minority of those who favor religious strict laws are likely to become militant, the spread of Islamist ideas severely threatens the social cohesion of liberal democracies, whose social fabric is much more dependent on the acceptance of basic cultural norms and practices than liberals have thought.

Sent from my iPad

Harry's Place » Abbas in Washington: dancing in place or moving forward? by Dan Shapiro

Link to the full article is at the end of the main post and the comments are good.

Sent from my iPad

"Hong Kong government’s efforts to address housing problem are showing results". Letters, 2 May. ATTN: John LEE

Hi John,
This below is mainly for you, personally, but if you want to run it as a Letter to the Editor, feel free.  
I was prompted by reading today’s letter by a civil servant (Joyce Kok) that exemplified everything wrong with bureaucratic writing: long-winded, jargon-laden and complex beyond need.
Anyway, my comment below, for you, or for Letters:
Is the SCMP determined to become an uncritical voice for the government, in its Letters to the editor?  I ask because there seems to have been quite a number of government-written letters, most highlighted as the main letter of the day. They tend to be profligate with words and foggily unreadable.
The latest is a letter from Joyce Kok, on housing policy. ("Hong Kong government’s efforts to address housing problem are showing results”, 2 May).
Looking at style instead of content: Ms Kok uses three words when one would do.  Her letter is 395 words.  I did an edited version in 134 words which makes her case more clearly.
Second, Kok's readability is low.  The Gunning-fog readability index gives her a 21.3.  The higher the index, the less readable, ideal being around 12.  Kok's score is off the charts, at post-graduate degree level.  My shorter version scores an 10.8, indicating a readability for a “wide audience”.  (By the way, Donald Trump’s inauguration speech scored 11.8, readable by a "wide audience", whereas Hillary Clinton’s primary acceptance speech was 15.6, or “college senior” level.  That’s why, of many reasons for her defeat, the simplicity of Trump’s talks vs the complexity of Clinton’s speeches has been mooted as one factor).
Over the years, you have published many of my letters. Sometimes you’ve asked me to edit one, and I’ve appreciated this direction.  
Can you not apply the same requirements on government letter writers?  Make them tighten their text to make it more readable and less bloviating?  It would do them good. Better yet, for civil servants writing in English, suggest they read the classic “Politics and the English Language”, by George Orwell.
Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
Hong Kong
9308 0799

PS: My letter, above: 283 words. Gunning-fog index: 8.7

My re-writing of Kok’s letter:
I refer to the letter from Wolf Peter Berthold (“Protect residents by segregating property market in Hong Kong, April 24).
We do indeed want try to make property more affordable for Hong Kong residents.  On the supply side, we expect 96,000 more units in the next 3-4 years.
On the demand side, stamp duties are helping reduce non-resident and speculation demand. 
The Special Stamp Duty reduced speculation from 20% of total transactions in 2010 to 0.7% in the first quarter of 2017.  The Buyer’s Stamp Duty reduced non-local purchases from 4.5% to 1.5% of total purchases, in the same time.
Meantime, the ad valorem stamp duties increase to 15% has reduced speculative investor purchases from 22% of total in 2017 to 5.3% to March this year.
These are good results.  We will continue to increase housing supply and reduce demand in the property market, to help local, first time property buyers.

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Crisis of Western Civ - The New York Times

These days, the whole idea of Western civ is assumed to be reactionary and oppressive. All I can say is, if you think that was reactionary and oppressive, wait until you get a load of the world that comes after it.

Sent from my iPad