Monday 31 December 2018

“I prayed and I ran”...

... said man caught up in the Indonesian tsunami.
Which of those two actions worked out best for him, do you think?
Running and praying, fine
Running without praying, fine.
Praying without running, not fine. 

Talking about 40 years ago...

Australian Embassy, Peking, 1976. Ambassador Steve FitzGerald 
... I wanted to get a photo of the Australian Embassy in Peking — as it was then in 1978.
I wasn't sure I had one myself, so I hie me to Mr Google and Lo!
The very first photo to pop up was the one above. Perfect!
The man standing there is then Australian ambassador to China, Dr Steve FitzGerald. He was our first Ambassador to China appointed by Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1972 when Australia shifted our recognition from Taiwan to the Mainland. From Taipei to Peking. 

And that circled window? That's my office which I took over from predecessor Sam Gerovich in 1978. From my China arrival in 1976, I'd been given two years of full-time Chinese language training, courtesy of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. That is to say, courtesy of the Australian taxpayer. I hope I gave them value for money. I was a Third Secretary in the embassy for four years. 
To the right of my office, in the pic above: office of the ambassador's secretary and the Ambassador's office, far right top floor. 
To the left, going left, another Third Secs office for my colleague Peter Rowe, later to become Australia's Ambassador to South Korea. Then Second Secs office, Dr Danny Kane, later professor of Chinese at Melbourne Uni. 
Then Counsellor David Reese and Minister Reg Little, later Frank Millner, of all of whom I know little in these 40 years. 
So the offices were more senior the further from the Ambassador. 
Next level below were the offices of the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and ground floor offices were for Consular (passports, visas, etc) and admin. 
So that's where I spent my early working days in China. 
After Steve went back to Oz, to establish his own consulting company which I joined in 1983, I served with two other ambassadors, Gary Woodard and Hugh Dunn (rip) until return to Oz in 1982, to be seconded to the Office of National Assessments, a senior intelligence assessment outfit reporting to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. And then to Stephen FitzGerald & Co Pty Ltd.
Some time later, in the mid eighties, IIRC, the embassy moved to a much bigger purpose-built edifice, rather more fearsome and security-minded. 
The one above had basically no security: a somnolent guard at the gate was pretty much it. 
I sometimes find Deng Xiaoping in my dreams. He speaks guttural Sichuanese. Smokes and spits. Sometimes in a tent...In 1992 he told me his plans for further liberalisation. 
Now we have Xi Jinping whose "China Dream" is a nightmare for many of us. 

Sent from my iPhone

“Xi’s China is ignoring the US’ role in its rise to glory” (Part Deux)

ADDED: to my post immediately before this.  
To highlight Chi Wang's point summarised in this last paragraph below. 
And recalling that a mate of mine living in Beijing says that a Chinese meme is: "two people who have helped the reform of China: Deng Xiaoping and Donald Trump". 
Of course that also goes against the theme of Chi Wang's article, that China is forgetting Deng. 
Still, as Oscar Wilde said "do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I'm large. I contain contradictions". 
China did not rise on its own. It relied on the fair access to global markets that it now denies other countries. While I disagree that the US' import tariffs were the right course of action in addressing China's behaviour, the underlying concerns about China's unfair trade practices are legitimate and needed to be addressed. As the trade war between the US and China continues, it is more important than ever to recognise that economic prosperity does not occur in isolation. If the leadership instead chooses to continue to push away allies and pursues aggressive policies, China will surely learn this lesson the hard way.

Xi's China is ignoring the US' role in its rise to glory

Sent from my iPhone

“Xi’s China is ignoring the US’ role in its rise to glory” | SCMP

I've posted before the insights of Chi Wang, president of the US-China Policy Foundation. He strikes me as a thoughtful and fair-minded commentator. 
In the article below (print version headline: "A new narrative") he makes a point I've made before: that China —  its regime, led by bully-boy Xi Jinping (XJP)  — is busy deliberately forgetting Deng Xiaoping, the famously diminutive chain-smoking architect of modern China. 
This is particularly awful and almost unforgivable, at the 40-year anniversary of Deng's Open Door policy. I was there in Beijing when Deng announced the Open Door Policy in 1978 — as the "reform and opening" policy. 改革开放 (gaige kaifang). It was that policy and others that quickly followed, the "four modernisations", the "Special Economic Zones", Deng's practical advice "it doesn't matter if a cat is white or black as long as it catches mice", that turned China into the land of wealth and opportunity it is today. 
But XJP is making Deng a “forgotten person”.
I can confirm that from my visits to China. Not just forgetting Deng, but anything else not comfortable to the regime — the Hundred Flowers campaign (百花运动 Baihua Yundong), the Great Leap Forward (大跃进, Dayue Jin ) the depredations of the Cultural Revolution, the Gang of Four (四人帮 Siren bang), Tiananmen protests, June the Fourth (六四,Liu si) …all down the memory hole.
XJP has given China the opposite of Alzheimer's; it remembers only the immediate past and forgets the long past — except of course when it helps the regime, so it remembers the depredations of the horrid colonialists and their Opium Wars. After all, Victimhood is an art form to the regime. 
And in place of remembering Deng Xiaoping , the architect of China's modernisation?'s just too terrible.... it's Xi Zhongxun, the bland father of XJP, and the bland "Thoughts" of bully-boy dictator Xi Jinping himself. 
What a shame. 
Click below for Chi Wang's thoughts on this travesty. 

Xi's China is ignoring the US' role in its rise to glory

The Handmaiden’s Tale is Sharia redux

But, you know, “hijab is women’s rights”

Saudi man on death row because he is atheist

But, you know, "atheists don't have morals".

Hate crimes in NY: Jews targeted in 2018 more than all other groups combined

Sunday 30 December 2018

Biggest source of air pollution in Hong Kong? It’s shipping, not cars, or mainland China

This I did not know. 
That shipping is the greatest source of air pollution in Hong Kong. 
I would have thought the culprits were China factories (notoriously dirty)  or cars (just as in the headline above). 
The good news: straight after Hong Kong forced ships to use low sulphur fuels, air pollutants dropped 30%. So tightening up those restrictions will also have marked effects. Details in the article. 
Said article being a great reference piece. 

Irony meter

Having just missed the Xmas cut-off...
And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It ain’t bigoted.…

Bettina Ardnt defends men on Radio 2GB with Chris Kenny

Bettina ("Tina") was a First Wave feminist.  We were together at the Australian National University in Canberra in the early seventies, though we've only touched base again recently.
She's good, and honest and on the money...

Saturday 29 December 2018

“Germany’s Far Right Rebrands: Friendlier Face, Same Doctrine” | NYT

The headline to this New York Times article is misleading. It's specifically not the "same doctrine", as the article itself makes clear:

Liberals are furious when far-right extremists are normalized. But it is one of the wrinkles of the new right that their lifestyles are familiar and modern — and so are some of their ideas: They bemoan rising inequality and a consumerism bereft of moral meaning.
In fact, the only way they are of "the Right" is that they object to the islamisation of Germany. And if you know anything about Islam, if you observe the societies and economies of the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference — uniformly woeful on both counts — you too would be concerned. It's particularly galling to those that are worried that all this is a choice. It's a choice that was made by well meaning people on the Left. But well meaning or not, it's not working. More, it's dangerous. As even Mad Mutti Merkel has herself acknowledged, having  made the major blunder in 2015 of opening the door willy-nilly to anyone who turned up at the border. 

Yet to the New York Times, the single fact that these conservatives are worried about islamisation, makes them "Far Right".  And makes the German intelligence apparatus spend time monitoring them. Even though they apparently number only 500. Whereas the number of Muslims in Germany is nearly 5 million, around 20-30% of whom will harbour anti-western views [ref the Islam in Figures tab, above]. That is to say, anti-German anti liberal values. How much intelligence is spent on them, when to do so overtly will be labelled "islamophobiic"?

What this article says to me is that young Germans ought to feel free to be proud of their country and of German culture without being smeared as horrid racists and being monitored like terrorists. 

A far-right youth movement is part of a growing network of actors giving extremism a friendly face — and worrying intelligence officials.


Sent from my iPad

Sunday 23 December 2018

Wall Street Journal 2018 highlights

Saturday 22 December 2018

It’s *Xi’an* NOT *Xian*. The apostrophe is important

Xi’an smogscape 
Please!  I've written many times to your editor about this. 
The apostrophe is as important here as with *its* or *it's*. 
It's pretty simple really. If it's two characters 西安 it has an apostrophe (Xi'an). If it's one character 县 it has no apostrophe (Xian).
Please, SCMP, *get it right* !! You are the premier English language newspaper with China focus. Surely it's time you got this simple thing correct. 
I'm begging you.... 
Make it a Christmas present to one of your most loyal readers... 

Merry Christmas to you and all Post staff!

Peter Forsythe
[OIC Apostrophe Police]
Discovery Bay
Xian tops global list of cities with biggest home price rise

Friday 21 December 2018

There was a young man from Cork

Winner of yesterday's Internet. Love it!!

“Trump’s year of chaos manifests in bad policies and worse politics” | SCMP

This is the pic that accompanies the article below. I guess it's to show
Trump as bestriding a ruined landscape

The Nobel Prize organisation is leftist. How could be otherwise? It's Scandinavian. Their bias shows in their Peace and Literature prizes. And often in the Economics prize as well. 
Below is Nobel economics laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz who joins on the hard Left his fellow columnist and fellow laureate Paul Krugman of the New York Times. Both these esteemed laureates are deep sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
But even for the hard Left, Stiglitz's article below is remarkably sloppy. It's polemics, and poor polemics at that.
I'm reading it right now in print, and I'll take it para-by-para from the online version, linked below. (Or click here if you want to have it sit side-by-side with my comments). 

Para 1: "rammed through" a tax cut. Another way of saying this is "Congress passed a tax cut". Why the emotive "rammed"?

Para 2: "Business and financial leaders' unbridled greed...".  Sigh… "unbridled greed". Really? Sure, driven by profit motives as is the capitalist system, which, for all its faults, remains the best economic system in the world. Then there's this uncomfortable fact: most business leaders today are of the Left, they're Democrats. In the case of the big tech giants they are universally of the Left, indeed often far left. How does that fit the narrative of greedy capitalists = nasty Republicans.?

The US is "…the most unequal of all advanced economies…".  No it's not. If you include non-salary government transfers, the US is "neck and neck with Spain and every Scandinavian country and less unequal than Britain, Greece and Ireland."  [Ref here]

Para 6: "A decade from now, total US income will most likely be lower than it would have been without the tax bill."  This is pure speculation, and that from someone with a poor record in predicting this year's national income, let alone income in ten years' time. (He predicted zero growth this year vs the likely 3-4% it will be).

Para 9: "… neither immigration nor imports have caused most of the economic problems ….  The loss of industrial jobs … is largely due to technological change."  I used to believe that too. 80% of the job losses were due to technology, we were told. Then I started to think about all those factories moving to Mexico and China. In China I saw it with mine own eyes: Australian companies I actually helped to move their machinery and equipment to China. (This was early 80s). 
Other studies show what one suspects: that the shift of manufacturing capacity overseas was the major contributor to manufacturing unemployment in America.  The overseas migration of manufacturing was speeded by NAFTA and China's joining the WTO. Both were pushed and promoted by the Left's darling, slick Willie Clinton.  [Ref here]

Para 12: "Is the murder of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue the harbinger of an American Kristallnacht?"  This is the grossest calumny. A sleazy and not-so-subtle suggestion that Trump is an anti-Semite. Trump is father of a Jewish daughter, grandfather of Jewish grandchildren, president of the most pro-Israel administration in generations. To suggest he's anti-Semitic? Shame on Stiglitz. 

There's more I could say; there are howlers in every single paragraph. But I'm done for now. Read the whole thing:  Trump's year of chaos manifests in bad policies and worse politics

Thursday 20 December 2018

Mutti: Japan days, immediately post-war

Talks with Mutti, b. 1922, about her days in immediate post-war Japan.

Click to Download
Mutti 2 - War Years, 24 Jun 2017.mp3
18.8 MB

More Saudi duplicity -- this time Islamic apologia

A friend sent me the above clip.  I think it was supposed to convince me that Islam really is "compassionate and tolerant" religion.  That it really is a "religion of peace".  But, as Santa Claus would say around this time of year: "Ho, Ho, Ho".  No, no, no, you're not going to convince me that easy!
The clip is of the Saudi Foreign Minister Al Jubeir handling a question which suggests that ISIS draws its inspiration from Islam.  No, no, no, ISIS is not Islam, rebuts Al Jubeir.
He proceeds to unload a shovel-load of apologia.  It's the sort of stuff that sounds superficially reasonable and persuasive. Problem is, it's pretty much all garbage. It's the sort of garbage that fools the willingly ignorant, those who deeply wish to believe that Islam is a "Religion of Peace". But it's garbage nonetheless.
I'll take Al Jubeir's case one-by-one. (Suggestion: watch the clip first.  It's only about 12 minutes).
1.  ISIS is no more Islamic than the KKK is Christian.
Not true.
Al Jubeir asks three rhetorical questions:
  1. "Don't the KKK have crosses?"
  2. "Don't the KKK do things in the name of religion and of Christ?"
  3. "Don't KKK think Christ compels them to kill people of African origin?"
We are obviously supposed to think "Yes" to all three. But the correct answer is actually "NO" to all three.
The KKK is not a Christian-themed organisation.  It took its inspiration from the Freemasons.
They don't "have crosses". They burn  crosses.  This is something they did at every major meeting. The burned the Cross -- and the swastika too, by the way.
So, Q2, they don't do things in the name of religion and of Christ, because they are not followers of Christ.
So, Q3, they don't think Christ compels them to kill blacks, because they don't believe in Christ. They want to kill blacks because of a perversion of Freemasonry, not a perversion of Christianity.

Ed Condon gives the background to KKK and its connection with Freemasonry in "KKK is not the Christian ISIS".
The Klan... began life in Tennessee as a guerrilla insurgency by former Confederate troops after the Civil War. Its first Imperial Wizard was the famous Confederate cavalry leader, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Freemason, and the group spent its early years attacking African-American voters and white Republicans across the region. Secrecy, elaborate costumes, and intimidating symbols and ritual became a hallmark of the Klan, and the man who gave them their distinctive character was another former Confederate general, Albert Pike, who served as the Klan’s first Chief Justice.
Pike ... came into the Klan through his position as Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry... Pike’s 800-page Masonic catechism, Morals and Dogma, and his time as Grand Commander were major factors in setting the ritual and philosophical tone for the higher degrees of American Freemasonry; it was this experience and authority that had the Klan knocking at his door as they looked to give their ragbag insurgency some ritualistic credibility and intimidating theatrics.
The Klan’s signature calling card, a burning cross, far from being Christian, is an act of Christian sacrilege.
A couple of other things: the KKK is a hate group; ISIS is a terrorist group. Different beasts.  KKK at its height had far fewer members than ISIS had at its height.  Now, KKK is tiny and insignificant.  ISIS not so much.
2.  "You have your faith and I have mine", quotes Al Jubeir.
Sounds tolerant, right? In fact the verse (Koran 109) in context (context which Muslims are always saying we must take into account in quoting verses), is all about Muhammad rejecting offers from the Jewish Quraish tribe, in Mecca to join in joint worship. Muhammad rejected this early form of interfaith worship and said "you go your way and we'll go ours".
Moreover, this is a Meccan verse, which was later abrogated by a Medinan verse which enjoined the killing of idolaters.  (Reference, and scroll down).
3.  "Killing one person is like killing the whole of humanity".
This is an oft-quoted passage, to show just how wonderful and tolerant Islam is.  Problem is, again, it's quoted out of context.  The first bit of context is: it was aimed by Allah to the JEWS, not the Muslims. Second: the very next sentence says to MUSLIMS, if there is some "mischief in the land", such as people trying to hinder the spread of Islam, you must kill them. Not just kill them, but crucify them and then cut off their hands and feet.  Wonderful tolerance!  Which is never mentioned by the Islam apologists who hope and trust that their audience will suck it all up, which so often they do.
There are plenty of articles explaining this verse and its context.  Here's one.
4.  The Old Testament says "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth".
What if Jews or Christians acted on that verse? asks Al Jubeir.
Well, the simple fact is this: that for the vast majority of Christians, the Old Testament has been abrogated by the New Testament.  Read the New Testament alongside reading the Koran.  It's Light and Night. Cheese and Chalk.  The NT is full of love and compassion.  The Koran is full of hate and spite.  As for the OT, both Jews and Christians have done detailed exegesis.  They have specifically said "this verse and that passage are no longer relevant".  They can do this because the Bible was put together by Humans (mainly men).  The Koran, however, is the inerrant "word of GOD", and cannot be subject to exegesis.  It cannot be changed, on punishment of death. Change the Koran and you commit blasphemy.
5.  Islam preserved Greek knowledge, Aristotle and Socrates.
Western enlightenment wouldn't have happened if not for the preservation of this knowledge by medieval Muslims, claims Al Jubeir.  I'm going to allow this for the moment.  It's an overblown claim, and in any case is not a claim to creation of knowledge, just to preservation of knowledge from another culture.  But still, for the moment, I'll leave it.

Final points:
ISIS is run by Al Baghdadi, a Muslim scholar of some note, with a PhD in Islamic studies, and a recognised Sheikh, that is to say, an acknowledged authority on Islam.  Who is Al Jubeir to gainsay him?  Al Jubeir who has spent most of his life in the Great Devil, the United States of America.
Al Jubeir represents Saudi Arabia.  Let's not forget that Saudi murdered a journalist in Turkey and sent him in bits back to Riyadh.  That was their latest duplicity.  And this very Foreign Minister was the one who claimed his boss Prince MBS, had nothing to do with it.  And we're supposed to take this man seriously?  Because he speaks nice English?
The Saudi Constitution is the Koran.  Not based on the Koran, or inspired by the Koran.  It literally is the Koran. All that Saudi Arabia does -- the stoning  of adulterers, the killing of homosexuals, the suppression of women, the funding of Wahhabi fundamentalis madrasas all over the world (where boys learn, not science, but to memorise the Koran), the non-allowing of anyone but Muslims into Mecca, the beheading of errant princesses, all of these things are done because Saudi has the Koran as its Constitution.
Not to mention: judge Islam by what it does around the world, not by the saying of a slickly duplicitous foreign minister in a medieval culture. Across the middle east Christians now hardly exist, when they used to be the only religion apart from Zoroastrians, who've also been destroyed by Islam.
So, no, Mr Al Jubeir, I don't buy your smooth duplicities. I don't buy your apologia.  I don't buy your lyiing.  And I don't by the "wait and be patient" line.  Enough is enough.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

A little gratitude wouldn’t go astray

East Asians: happy to get their Oz citizenship 
Australia's ABC just had a program reporting on the allegedly slow granting of citizenship to migrants.
One young fellow, from Afghanistan, was impatient but understanding. He wanted to get his citizenship so he could travel overseas -- on his new Aussie passport -- to learn more about his specialty in radiotherapy.
But another, head of something like the Migrants Council of Australia, was simply impatient and rude. He wondered if the delay was due to "racism, or something to do with religion".
I gotta say it: what a cheek.
His name is Mohammad which makes him from one of the world's 56 Islamic countries. Not that one would want to emigrate to any of them but if you did, dream on. It's not possible in any one.
Yet here is Mohammad moaning. Because it's taken over a year. A year!
Here in Hong Kong I have my Permanent Residence. Equivalent to Citizenship.
It took seven years. And proof that I had done something for Hong Kong.
My feeling was and remains one of gratitude. So I’m not expecting more of anyone than what I’ve done myself.
Yet Mohammad?  He’s just moaning and playing the victim.
Shame on him. And shame on Australia’s ABC for promoting this auto-flagellation.

Mutti: Japan, immediately post-war

Chatting with my mother....
Mutti 5: Tokyo Wedding (18'03”)

UPDATE (27 June 2020): I find that these links don’t work any more. So, I’m tying to work out a way to get them back. Meantime: if you really want to hear any of these, email me and I’ll send the MP3 file. Can only do one at at time, because of size constraints.

Kevin drops by for a chat

Neighbour and mate, Kevin, dropped by for a chat...
... Back in September. Took a while to publish, because.
This is it, Kevin 1
No idea how long to publish Kevin 2, because Libsyn, the host, has curious rules about how much and when I can post.

“When Americans fear China, what are they really afraid of?” | SCMP

Are all Americans being bred into hawks?
Even here in Hong Kong we have this discussion about China. Whenever I criticise China, I'm accused of hating China. I do not, I say, hate China. I hate Xi Jinping, its president and what he's doing to China's opening up — that is to say, closing it down. Our own son is half Chinese, I say. I travel a lot to China, chat with "the broad masses of the Chinese people" and get along with them just fine... all the while uncomfortably feeling like I'm reprising that old Python classic "I like Chinese".
But still, I hope my point is not just made, but taken.  Point being: my beef is with the current government, not its people.  Deng Xiaoping, great. Jiang Zemin, good. Even that funny old stick Hu Jintao, fine. But Xi is different and dangerous. 
He's cracking down with censorship and jailing any dissidents. He's talking about a new Cultural Revolution. He's extending the long arms of his security goons to kidnappings of China-critical writers right here in Hong Kong. Most egregious, he has arrested and put into labour camps around a million Muslim Uighurs.  
Anyone reading this blog will know my views on Islam. I've no love for that ideology. But to jail — to "provide free vocational training" (!) according to Xi — a million of its adherents? That's wrong and that's criminal. Why it's not being called out more by the Trump administration is beyond me. 
A friend who lives in Beijing, having done 40+ years of business there, tells me a meme amongst Chinese these days is that China has had two major reformers: one Deng Xiaoping (agree). The other Donald Trump (discuss).  Pretty amazing stuff!
Back to my main point: one can hate a regime, but love its people. And in the case of horrid regimes, one should hate the regime but love its people. Like Russians during Soviet times. Or Venezuelans with today's Maduro. And, yes, maybe even Germans in the time of Hitler.  
The article linked below, by Chi Wang, is a very thoughtful piece by someone who knows America and knows China. It's full of good book suggestions. And observations of the dangers I mention above: the danger of conflating fears of governments with fears of peoples.
By the way, I don't agree with him that the Pillsbury book is alarmist. It was a useful wake up call to China's mercantilism. Pillsbury is not a true hawk. He thinks be tough on Xi; but continue talking. I'd agree with that. 

But what is lost in the discourse on China in the US is a proper articulation of what exactly there is to be afraid or suspicious of. Instead of "Americans are afraid of China", what should really be said is "Americans are afraid of China's government". They are afraid of the implications of an aggressive leader like Xi Jinping building a Mao-like cult around his personality.  From: When Americans fear China, what are they really afraid of?

Monday 17 December 2018

European Court of Human Rights Blasphemy Laws: Where a Word out of Place Can Cost Your Life

  • The European Court of Human Rights ruled that criticism of Muhammad constitutes incitement to hatred -- meaning that in Europe, criticizing Muhammad is no longer protected free speech.
  • What the court has actually done, however, is rule out the possibility of any debate in which a range of various experts and members of the public could take part. Now, it seems, the only views that will be respected in the public forum are those of devout Muslims.
  • Underage marriages are considered by some countries child abuse or statutory rape, but are acceptable under shari'a law; they also take place in Muslim communities in Western countries such as the UK. This alone is a major reason why platforms must be found to debate the issue instead of sweeping it, as something offensive, under the carpet. Ignoring it is offensive.
  • Moreover, as some Muslims are often offended by even small matters regarding their faith, such as a toy teddy bear named Mohammad or a prisoner on death row declared innocent -- so that mobs take to the streets to condemn, or even kill, those individuals -- what now will not be censored in the West? More from Denis MacEoin in Gatestone

Global Migration Pact: The U.N.’s Attempt to Erode Sovereignty

Not only the US, but Australia too was right to be wary of this bit of camel-nose-in-the-tent.
I wrote about it the other day. It's not so hidden agenda is to criminalise the criticism of any form of immigration.
Fie on the UN for yet another bit of anti-westernism....
Jonathan Tobin in the National Review:

Explaining Macron

"Please lean forward, this won't hurt a bit".  Macron the socialist
Macron the socialist -- not a centrist, but a socialist, as argued below -- having about as much success with socialism in France as it's had elsewhere.  Which is to say, very little: the lack of success of socialism around the world is in exact proportion to the extent of its implementation.  With Macron, the implementation has been more subtle, to the extent that people think he's centrist, and so the disasters haven't --yet -- been as great as for socialism in Cuba or Venezuela. (China doesn't count any more -- its successes in the last four decades have been in direct proportion to the extent that Beijing has abandoned socialism).

From a National Review pal — quite real but who we shall call here Mr. A. Nonymous, who knows his French stuff très très bien — comes this unsolicited j’accuse of the French President. I have lightly de-incendiaried the email text, which I share below because I find it explique beaucoup.

Thursday 13 December 2018

“Why Anti-Zionism Is Malign” | NYT

Michelle Goldberg wrote a piece in the New York Times the other day (linked below) claiming the usual anti-Jewish thing: anti-Zionism ain't anti-semitism. Yeah right. And the fact that she's Jewish cuts no ice. Many an American Jew is anti-Israel to the tune of anti-semitism. Well meaning and all that they may be.  
To the extent that the BDS movement seeks to deny Israel's right to exist — and it does, overtly or not  — it's by definition anti-Semitic. 
So here's the rebuttal to Goldberg, from David Harris.  It's familiar. But needs repeating. And repeating. 
Good on the Times for running this rebuttal. Though it doesn't appear in the print edition as far as I can see. 
Re "Anti-Zionism Isn't the Same as Anti-Semitism," by Michelle Goldberg (column,, Dec. 7): 
If anti-Zionism isn't a form of anti-Semitism, what is? To deny the Jewish people, of all the peoples on earth, the right to self-determination surely is discriminatory, all the more so 71 years after the United Nations General Assembly voted to recommend the creation of a "Jewish" state. And if the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement isn't another form of anti-Semitism, what is? 
To single out Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, for demonization and isolation, while ignoring egregious human rights violators aplenty, once again smacks of anti-Jewish hatred. After all, the very same B.D.S. movement does not even focus on the mistreatment of Palestinians in the Arab world, including the thousands killed and imprisoned in the Syrian carnage, the many professional fields closed to Palestinians in Lebanon, or the internecine wars between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. If Israel is not involved, the B.D.S. movement has no interest.
Nor does it take into account the many efforts by Israel to forge a peace deal with the Palestinians, beginning 70 years ago, only to be spurned time and again.
Criticize Israeli policies? Sure. It's done every day in Israel itself by the media, nongovernment groups, and in the Knesset. But that's a far cry from treating Israel differently from any other country in the world, which is at the core of the anti-Zionist and B.D.S. outlook. The American Jewish Committee says it is no different from anti-Semitism.
David Harris
New York
The writer is chief executive of the American Jewish Committee. [link here]

Wednesday 12 December 2018

"Racial Preferences Aren’t Only an American Problem" | WSJ

Protesters support Malaysia's racist Bumiputra policies,
Kuala Lumpur, December 8. 
[My comments, prompted by the article linked below].
Legalised racism is permitted in places as widely apart as the United States and Malaysia. In the US it's called Affirmative Action. In Malaysia it's called the Bumiputra policy. In both cases the aim is specifically racial, that is to say, racist: to provide benefits to one or more race over others. In the States it's mainly for Black and Hispanic minorities being treated preferentially over the White majority and the Asian minority.  In Malaysia it's to benefit the Malay majority over the Chinese minority.
Since it seems to be ok by everyone to have specifically race-based policies, I presume it's ok also to make some race-based observations. (It would probably be better to talk of "ethnically based" instead of "race", since there are some views that race is purely a social construct, but I'm using common parlance here).
My observations are mainly about the Chinese. The article linked below notes that the Chinese in Malaysia came there as common labourers in the mid sixties. Yet they still did well enough to prompt the government to hold them back. To handicap them. Similarly in the States, Chinese immigrants came to labour on the railways in the 19th century. Again they've done so well since that Harvard, to take just one example, is being sued for making it harder for them than any other group to join. They're too successful!  Or as Harvard puts it, they don't have the right "personality".… hmmm…
The common explanation for the success of Chinese whenever they go, and however poor to begin with, an explanation which — married as I am to a Chinese, and having been involved with China for over forty years — I agree with, is that their culture places huge emphasis on hard work and education. (Jews the same, btw) (and phew! what a sentence).
By contrast, at least in the United States, African-American culture is something of the opposite. Scott Adams talks of "cultural gravity", pulling down would-be high achievers in the African-American community. Whereas Chinese culture is not gravity, but something like a hot air balloon, encouraging and celebrating high fliers.
I recall a story about a college graduation prize-giving in America. Whenever an African American student was awarded a prize their black class mates didn't clap.…. They booed! Imagine how dispiriting that must be!
Another thing pointing to culture in this whole race thing: Nigerians who migrate to America perform better than native-born African-Americans. Having been brought up in a highly competitive Nigerian culture, they thrive in the freedom of the United States. And they do so without Affirmative Action. General Colin Powell is one such example Mrs BoT tells me.
It's not just me, a cranky old white man, saying this. Black Americans say so too: the likes of talk show host Larry Elder and economics professor Thomas Sowell. Even Obama had a bit of a go at it: it's ok to "talk white"!
The point being this: that much more attention needs to be paid to how to overcome the negative "cultural gravity" of the African-American and Hispanic-American cultures. Otherwise no amount of Affirmative Action is going to help. (As indeed it has not helped since its inception in the seventies — see the article).
The same goes for Malaysia and its racist Bumiputra policies.

Monday 10 December 2018

“Britain must now pay the price for the tantrum it called ‘referendum’ “

Good morning David [Dodwell, of SCMP],
Re your second marker, you say:
Second marker: that the Brexit conflict is a symptom of a nation fundamentally divided. London versus the rest of the country; Scotland and Northern Ireland against the English; the young against the old; the rural versus the urban; the privileged and supine metropolitan elite versus a marginalised middle class.
Today, these divides remain as absolute as ever. Two years of ferocious, incestuous debate seems to have left these divisions as deeply entrenched as ever. [here]
I agree with all this. 
But it strikes me that the attitude of defeated Remainers and much of the media has been to brand all Brexiteers as "deplorables". Public intellectuals have been vicious in their denunciations of Leavers: “racist", "xenophobic", "ignorant" and so on. said
"It has become quite commonplace to associate support for Brexit with low levels of education and intellect and to claim that reason and thought inevitably lead to an anti-Brexit view."
This certainly hasn't been helpful to bridging the divides you identify. 
The BBC had a great Intelligence squared debate on Brexit over the weekend. Covered 3 options: 1. The May Deal, 2. No Deal and 3. Second Referendum.  
If I were British I'd be supporting 3.... and it seems to be gaining some traction. 
If there is to be a second referendum, it would have helped if the Remainers had been a bit more gracious in defeat and recognised concerns of the Brexiters, concerns which go beyond trade and the economy.  

Peter F.

Sunday 9 December 2018

“George H.W. Bush: making another genocidal American great again” | SCMP

"Skulduggery and mass murder" ?? SCMP. WTF??

The chief news editor of the South China Morning Post, Yonden Lhatoo, says "I'm fine with forgoing my sense of decency and humanity over this one." ("George H.W. Bush: making another genocidal American great again", Dec 9)
I wonder: is there any time it's right to forego one's sense of decency and humanity?
Especially when it's based on so many specious allegations. 
Example: Lhatoo quotes Freud as justification for his savaging of the dead.  But Freud, the "father of psychoanalysis" says Lhatoo, is a now a thoroughly discredited figure. We speak well of the dead because it makes us feel better and more noble. That's my psychoanalysis. Lhatoo saying otherwise, on the basis of spurious Freudianism, is just "grinchery". 
Lhatoo claims that Bush 41 "encouraged" Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait in 1990. Not true. The US ambassador to Iraq at the time, April Glaspie, passed on confusing messages to Saddam about American neutrality (neutrality, by the way, that Lhatoo would have applauded at the time!). Messages for which she was later upbraided. Saddam made a mistake in taking these as carte blanche to invade the sovereign Kuwait.
Bush said "this will not stand". He put together the "coalition of the willing" backed by a United Nations resolution and including Arab states. Saddam was driven out of Kuwait in 100 hours. Retreating soldiers were not killed. Coalition forces pulled back, as the UN resolution was only for forcing Iraq our of its illegal occupation of Kuwait. 
Yes, there was dreadful bloodshed — by Saddam — when coalition troops withdrew. One can argue the rights and wrongs of the withdrawal although it's clear it honoured international resolutions. 
To blame Bush for Saddam's bloody reprisals is a gross calumny.  You might as well blame England and America for Hitler's killing of 6 million Jews. The logic is the same. 
Yonden Lhatoo has form in his blind hatred of America. I'm shocked and offended that you have such hateful ad hominem in your otherwise fine paper. 
He doesn't deserve the title of chief news editor. 
Although I guess he achieves your click-bait goals. 


Saturday 8 December 2018

Eels stuck in Hawaiian monk seals' noses baffle scientists - The Washington Post

Naughty, naughty boy! "Make better choices"!

Read and have a good laugh....
A relaxed-looking juvenile Hawaiian monk seal lounges near a sandy white beach on some green foliage. Its eyes are half-closed, and it has a serene expression on its face. But the seal's calm demeanor is surprising.Why? Well, there's a long, black-and-white eel dangling from its right nostril."It's just so shocking," Claire Simeone, a veterinarian and monk seal expert based in Hawaii, told The Washington Post on Thursday. "It's an animal that has another animal stuck up its nose."

Friday 7 December 2018

Perfection is the enemy of action. AKA, The Greenies screw it again

Ever since I understood it, I liked it: the aphorism: "perfection is the enemy of action".  Also "perfection is the enemy of the good".
I've lived by it in some ways: I built a boat a few years ago.  She was far from perfect, but I finished her in about six months, she sailed well, and I sold her.  If I'd tried to be perfect, I'd never have finished her.  Many other folks were building the same boat at the same time, and all took longer than I did, many years longer.  They've got nicer boats, no doubt.  But I built, sold and moved on.
Here's the blog of the build.
What of Greenies?  What's the reference?
Well, I remember some years ago, when natural gas started to become a thing, like in Australia which has vast quantities.
I remember being surprised when the Greens came out against natural gas.  Half the CO2 emissions!
No, they said.  We must have perfection.  And perfection is Renewables. And the enemy of the good.
Result: The United States has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other country in the world. While the rest of the world, including Europe, has increased its CO2 emissions as it struggles to shift to renewables.
For sure there was also an ideological side to their opposition to natural gas. It's a fossil fuel, after all.
I've already said why I think that the Greenies have ruined the world.  Already.
Why do we still listen to them.
Go gas! and Go nuke!
BTW: the talk of Dave Rubin with Marian Tupy, above, is purely coincidental.  I didn't know it had the same points I'm making here.
Which is this: better move a bit along the road.  Than not to move.
Perfection is the enemy of action.
Note also: wealth is good for the environment.  Poverty (aka "socialism") is bad for the economy.  Marian Tupy gives many examples.  Including that the world is deforesting at only 0.8% per year, and that's all in Africa and South America. The developed world and lately China, are major re-afforesting.
And: 90% of the plastics in the world's oceans come from 8 rivers, all in Africa and Asia. The Western world's contribution to plastic in the oceans is negligible.  Because of wealth.
And: the last time someone died of an accident with a nuclear power station was Chernobyl back in the 80s.  Even including Fukushima.
So, again:
Go gas! and Go nuke!

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Roll Back China’s Soft-Power Campaign - The Wall Street Journal.

"Star­tlingly, Chi­na's ef­fort de­pends on the co­op­er­a­tion of many "nom­i­nally in­de­pendent ac­tors" within the U.S. For ex­am­ple, news out­lets aligned with Bei­jing have cor­nered al­most the en­tire me­dia mar­ket aimed at Chinese-Amer­i­cans, es­tablish­ing new print, ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and on­line pub­li­ca­tions in both Chi­nese and Eng­lish.
"The in­flu­ence is also pro­nounced at Amer­ican uni­ver­si­ties. Con­fucius In­sti­tutes are funded by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and may not en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties that con­tra­vene Chinese law. Other research cen­ters backed by Bei­jing use their re­sources and reach to at­tack the aca­d­e­mic free­dom of pro­fes­sors. Uni­ver­si­ties be­come sub­ject to pres­sure and even re­tal­i­a­tion when they pub­lish re­search or host events that of­fend the po­lit­i­cal sen­si­bil­i­ties of Chi­na's gov­ern­ment and Commu­nist Party. China also in­creas­ingly of­fers fund­ing to Amer­i­can think tanks will­ing to por­tray their na­tion in a pos­i­tive light, and blocks un­co­op­er­a­tive re­searchers from obtain­ing ac­cess to Chinese so­ci­ety."

Outrageous Predictions 2019

A bit of fun.  2019. Saxo have done this for some years, so you can Google their previous years' results to see how they did.
The main thing is that this is a corrective to all the predictions we get. Daily, we have pundits telling us "this" or "that" will happen.  But their records are very poor. Noone, just noone, knows what's going to happen.  Occasionally they might get something right, but that's just like the famous stopped clock, correct twice a day. 
Just strap in and enjoy the ride.
That's me these days. I merely watch history. Happening in front of me. 
I try to find things to laugh about.  
Because laughter is good for you.

Monday 3 December 2018

Say something nasty about immigration? Off to jail with thee!

So on the same day that there's a historic Brexit vote in the British Commons, December 11, there's an equally -- maybe even more -- consequential vote happening in Marakeesh. This vote will be a UN attempt to criminalise any criticism of migration. Get that. Criticism of migration!
Bear in mind that if you're for immigration, or against it, or -- as most people -- somewhere in between, believing that controlled immigration is the thing, there are studies showing that immigration harms the working class and studies showing that immigration causes no harm at all and only good.
In other words: it's a topic of debate and discussion.
But not if the UN has its way.
No doubt pushed by the biggest block in the UN: the Organisation of Islamic Congress.
If the United Nations has its way, if the OIC has its way, it will no longer be even legal to voice your concerns about immigration.
At least my own country, Australia, has said it won't sign the document.  On'yer ScoMo!