Friday, 31 August 2018

Why I’m a Muslim | The Spectator

Why I'm a Muslim | The Spectator
Women in Islam. It's not pretty

Why I'm a Muslim in the Spectator, by Quanta Ahmed. It's pure Islamist apologia. I don't know how she can come to the conclusions she does from reading the Koran. Perhaps it's cognitive dissonance going back to her upbringing. And I don't know why the Speccie has given her space to peddle such delusional nonsense. 
Her comments about the tolerance of Islam are supported neither by doctrine nor by the actions of her coreligionists  
Delusion, here I am:

“Why won't Israel accept the right of return for Palestinians?”

Arabs and Jews left their lands. Only the Arabs continue to claim refugee-hood
“Why won't Israel accept the right of return for Palestinians?”
Because there is no “right of return” for Palestinians. The phrase in UNGAR 194 about the return of refugees states in part:
“11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date,…”
The operative phrase that remains unfulfilled by the Palestinians is: “and live at peace with their neighbours”. To date there has been little evidence that any self-styled Palestinian is willing to “live at peace with their neighbours”. No country can be expected to accept a massive intake of a hostile population that has only one objective: destroying the country they claim they want to “return” to.
Article 11 goes on to say that:
“compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;”

Forget ‘Senior Citizen’—Aging Baby Boomers Search for a Better Term | WSJ


Hmmmm... as a Boomer myself (1950), or Senior, or Elder, or Perennial, or Mature, or Whatever, this is kinda amusing. In a kind of it-doesn't-matter kind of way.... 
There are other things to be concerned about at this age, and "Lucky" — one of the suggestions— is one you'd like to be able apply to yourself, as indeed I'm lucky enough to be able to do…
And another thing: if I'm offered a seat on the bus, I'll take it! 
It's behind  a paywall, but sometimes breachable …

A Visit to Islamic England

Luton, 30 miles north of London.

A Visit to Islamic England
Have been to some of these places in the UK which are heavily Islamic.  And they do look just like the photo above.  And feel as described by Andy Ngo, who is a visitor from the US, where he edits the online (left of centre) magazine Quillette.
I make this point: that if one is concerned about this, as opposed to celebrating it as a part of the warp and weft of a vibrant multicultural society, one is not racist. If the veils and clothing were those of Hindus or Buddhists, or Jains -- which do look rather similar -- there would be nothing like the concern. Because the concern is simply and precisely driven by the ideology of Islam, not clothing or skin colour.
Andy Ngo describes here how the areas are "alcohol restricted".  How women are excluded from cafes -- and others report that women are spat and cursed at if they do try to enter.  Mosques have men in the front, women entering at the rear, past rubbish skips.  Do we really think that these cultural norms are adding to the fabric of our tolerant multicultural society?
Not to mention that these areas have become anything but multicultural themselves.  White fright means they're now monocultures. Not Asian monocultures; but Islamic monocultures.
And not to mention that the folks promoting this "diversity" never live in the Lutons and Tower Hamlets of the world.  They are middle-class urbanites.  Londonites and the like. The ones to suffer the influx of this intolerant and misogynist monoculture are the poor working folks of Luton and Tower Hamlets.
Well done U.K....

Thursday, 30 August 2018

The New Socialists | NYT


Millenials think these are socialism, nice, fluffy and warm

If Socialism means loving your kids and honouring your parents, a fondness for apple pie....then I'm a Socialist!
If Socialism means raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, then colour me Socialist! Yay, Socialism rocks!
What's that you say? That's not what socialism means?  But... but.. that's what they're saying in the comments at this article: The New Socialists, in the New York Times. Socialism isn't the horrid Marxist idea that's been tried and failed over and over. It's wonderful things like free medicine, free education, free everything.  That's what they're saying, at the New York Times. To the approbation of all, including the Times itself.
Meantime back in the real world... Socialism has a definition. Like most words, it has a meaning. In simplest terms, this is the definition of Socialism:
State ownership of the means of production
(Wikipedia.  Mirriam-Webster.  OED). 
That's it.
And that's the way it's been done (attempted) in practice too. 
And that's what's failed everywhere it's been tried.
It's not a good idea that's been implemented badly.  It's a bad idea that's been implemented well.
And therefore failed.  From Albania to Venezuela.  Via North Korea, China and Vietnam.
And for sure it's not "What the socialist seeks is freedom" as Corey Robin claims in the article here. 
And it's not even "Democratic Socialism".  The Democratic Socialist Party of America -- to which the likes of  Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez pledge their troth, is at core pure socialism, as I showed here.
And it's not bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens. 
Those are just millennials' favourite things. 
And while I get why millenials would be drawn to them, I don't get why adults would.  What's wrong with Bernie?  I'm guessing he's never visited a country labouring under the wonders of Socialism.

Catholic Child Abuse

For the record. What's been said before, 8 years ago, by some notables.  Nothing seems to have changed.

Christopher Hitchens:
29 March 2010: The Pope is Not Above the Law (Slate)
22 March 2010: Tear Down That Wall (Slate)
15 March 2010: The Great Catholic Cover-up (Slate)

Richard Dawkins:
13 April 2010: The pope should stand trial (The Guardian)

Geoffrey Robertson:
1 September 2010: The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights (Book)

TODAY:
John O'Sullivan
29 August 2018: Is the Pope a Catholic?   (National Review)

The Media’s Coverage Of Pope Francis' Alleged Sex Abuse Cover-Up Is Insanely Despicable | Daily Wire



The Media's Coverage Of Pope Francis' Alleged Sex Abuse Cover-Up Is Insanely Despicable | Daily Wire

I was going to write something exactly along these lines: Shapiro in Daily Wire. 
I too watched in amazement as CNN spun Viganò's letter as an attack on our lovely, liberal pope...
And then the New York Times talks of conservatives in the US "weaponising" the claims that Bergoglio knew of abuse being hidden. (Claims which appear to be soundly based). 
Every time there's something they don't like, the Left calls it "weaponising". (Free speech is another one). 
Instead it should be, it must be: what did Bergoglio know and when did he know it?
Ben Shapiro nails it ...

Then there's Sam Harris' brilliant essay written ten years ago, but which may as well have been yesterday. He was writing about a report that had come out then, in Ireland, about the widespread abuse, inside the Catholic Church, of young children, most of them boys. Some of the examples he cited are sickening. 
What has changed? 
Nothing. 
Yet it's the critics of the abuse and its cover-up who are "weaponising" the abuse, according to CNN and the New York Times
Shame on them. 
Sam's 2010 essay here.  He writes so well. He also talks about it on his Waking Up podcast (#135)

Imran Khan says will take up caricatures issue at UN | The Express Tribune


Imran Khan says will take up caricatures issue at UN | The Express Tribune

The new Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan faces an economic crisis. And huge social and environmental problems. Not to mention his foreign policy challenges. 
So what's first item on his agenda? Why, demand that the United Nations pass an anti-blasphemy law, of course! (Reported in Pakistan's Express Tribune)
He says he wants something similar to the anti-Holocaust-denial laws in Europe. We're vulnerable to that argument. Even if it's bogus because they were passed in a particular time and place, and relate to an actual event. But still they ought to be done away with. If only to counter the pressure for Islamist anti-blasphemy laws. 
If such laws are passed, they will end up criminalising any critique of the doctrines of Islam. As with any idea they must be subject to scrutiny and critique. 
The UN may see to it that we are muzzled. 
By the way, Khan and his wives have become more fundamentalist over time. 
First wife a model; third wife a model muslima.... 


Khan and his wives reflect the increasing fundamentalism of Islam itself since the 1979 Iranian revolution. It all relates back to that. Increasing Shi'a militancy (Iran) led to increased Sunni militancy (Saudi) and it's all playing out still today. 
Including this nonsense of anti-blasphemy laws. 

Why aren’t we taking the Islamist threat seriously? | Spiked

Why aren't we taking the Islamist threat seriously? | British politics | Terrorism | spiked
Taking far-right extremism seriously doesn't mean exaggerating the threat it poses. Small neo-Nazi grouplets and murderous racist loners are frankly not a comparable threat to a global jihadist movement actively recruiting and inciting British youth. 
At its height, National Action was estimated to have 60 to 100 members. ISIS, at its height, controlled vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Sean Carroll on Twitter: "How ordinary Germans became Nazis: improving economic conditions, and a conviction that the Holocaust was fake news."


This just shows how really, really smart people (Sean Carroll) can be really, really dumb (Sean Carroll). 
The differences between prewar Nazi Germany and today's United States are too numerous to mention.  One will be enough: in pre-war Germany the Brownshirt followers of Hitler were rampaging around the country and they oppressed Hitler's opponents. And the media was pro-Hitler. 
In the United States, it's the exact opposite. The media is almost universally anti-Trump and it's Trump supporters who have to be careful, silenced, in public.  And today's "brownshirts" are the blackshirts and black balaclavas of Antifa, the so-called anti-fascist organisation.
The opposite, in short, of what would be needed for even the beginnings of a Nazi=like movement. 
Then there's the media, the constitution; so much else that's different. 
To be frank, Carroll's take on this makes me very disappointed in his judgment. 
"It can happen here", New York Review of Books. Except, no, it can't.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Leaders can’t leave Hong Kong independence alone


Above is the featured letter in today's South China Morning Post. It's by Leung Chung-ying ("CY), our immediate past Chief Executive and current vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Consultative Conference. [Link to online] [Archive]
CY quotes me, and proceeds to ignore my advice. 
Which was to ignore Andy Chan's inane calls for Hong Kong independence. My logic being that doing so only gives oxygen to Chan and inflames Beijing's paranoia. And when Beijing is paranoid they can crush Hong Kong — its incursions to date will seem trivial. 
But CY argues the opposite. Oh well. I guess he knows better. Though his performance as C-E wouldn't inspire confidence.
Also I think he’s well overplaying the extent of support for independence. And exaggerating it, again, is not in our interests. 
Interesting that the Post is a paper read by government's elites. I've seen it before. You want an answer from government? Write a letter to the Post!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

French environment minister quits live on radio with anti-Macron broadside | The Guardian

Why on earth would Hulot, the now ex environment minister of France, want to reduce nuclear power from its current 74% to 50%?
To have the reduction taken up by renewables, one presumes.
But why not focus on the 26% that's not nuclear now and make all that renewable first? Because France already has the lowest carbon emissions per capita because of its clean, safe nuclear.
It makes no sense. It's the greenies ruining the world again.
And the relaxing on hunting that upsets him? So what? Individual hunting does precisely nothing to reduce species diversity.
And thirdly: he's against Roundup. Again, he's wrong on the science. So good riddance to another do-gooding greenie whose good intentions are paving the road to hell.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/28/french-environment-minister-quits-live-on-radio-with-anti-macron-broadside


Sent from my iPad

Corbyn in 2013: ‘British Zionists don’t get British irony’


Right. Cause there's one thing Jews are known for: they just have no sense of humour. Like, stand up? Nah...
(Jeremy on the other hand...)

Real wages stagnate - Wikiwand

Real wages - Wikiwand

Why did real wages in America flatline after 1970? The Economic Policy Unit has its reasons in the clip below. This is a critique of the Left; it may well be true! Though the introduction to this article says that its "neutrality is in dispute". 
Some more of a look at the issue is needed. It may well be that the factors cited by EPU are the causes of flat real wages or they may be just a part of the story. In short, let's look to see if it's a more "nuanced" picture. 
One thing for sure: the picture in the chart above is startling. Real wages crushed after 1970...

/Snip
The Economic Policy Institute has blamed "intentional policy choices" by governments for real wage stagnation in this period. Stating "the abandonment of full employment as a main objective of economic policymaking, declining union density, various labor market policies and business practices, policies that have allowed CEOs and finance executives to capture ever larger shares of economic growth, and globalization policies"[4] have resulted in stagante (sic) real wages in a time of increasing productivity.


Monday, 27 August 2018

foul

foul
The Jesus and Mo cartoon is safe to like and safe to laugh at!  Its creator, "author", is an equal opportunity satirist of religion and beloved of non-regressive folks on the Left. Moderate Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz has worn the cartoon on his T-shirt.  So go ahead and subscribe to it.

Overzealous reactions to Islamophobia do more harm than good | Arab News


Muhammad and the Dead Poets' society. When he couldn't be bothered
he had others do his beheading for him.  Favourite targets: jews and poets

Herein the problem with apologists of Islam, apologists like Maha Akeel in the Arab News (talking of Boris Johnson making fun of the burka).
They say things that are patently untrue. And which are easily provably untrue, even according to their own doctrines. When they do this, they are either Knaves or Fools. That is, they either know they are lying and are just trying to fool we infidels.  Or they are Fools in that they don't know that they are lying, they really believe what they are saying.
I don't know where most Muslim apologists fall on the Knave vs Fool dichotomy.  I suspect it's most often the latter; that is, the are Fools, who truly believe what they're telling us, untrue and all that it may be.
The Trinity of Islam, for example, has numerous example of Muhammad killing people, himself, or ordering the killing of people. And of taking revenge — poets and Jews were his favourite targets.
Yet someone like Maha Akeel, whose brain has been rotted by obeisance to this violent ideology, can say patently false things like:
The Prophet faced numerous incidents of insult and defeat but did not retaliate with vengeance or violence when he had the chance.
Oh yes, he did!
Just look at poets, just poets, killed by him or on his orders:
For a man who "never" took revenge, there certainly are a curious number of bodies piled up around the prophet of Islam:
..."Ka'ab bin Al Ashraf used to satire the Prophet and incited the infidels of the Quraish against him... They used to hurt the Prophet and his Companions... When Ka'ab bin Al Ashraf refused to desist from hurting the Prophet the Prophet ordered Sa'd bin Mu'adh to send a band to kill him... When they killed him, the Jews and the polytheist were frightened... (Abu Dawud 3000)

and
Abu Afak was one of the B. Amr b. Auf of the B. Ubayda clan. He showed his disaffection when the apostle killed al-Harith b. Suwayd b. Samit... The apostle said, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" Whereupon Salim b. Umayr, brother of B. Amr b. Auf, one of the "weepers", went forth and killed him. (Ibn Ishaq 995)
and
She [Asma bint Marwan] was of B. Umayyya b. Zayd. When Abu Afak had been killed she displayed disaffection... Blaming Islam and its followers she said: "I despise B. Malik and al-Nabit and Auf and B. al-Khazraj. You obey a stranger who is none of yours... Do you expect good from him after the killing of your chiefs?"...
When the apostle heard what she had said he said, "Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?" Umayr b. Adiy al-Khatmi who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. (Ibn Ishaq 996)
These were three poets murdered on Muhammad's orders for having criticized or made fun of him (usually for having murdered someone else).  Source

Still, to Akeel, Muhammad is: 
"... the beloved Prophet in his patience, humility, strength, kindness, tolerance and benevolence".
[gee, sounds like Boris...]

Akeel may even believe this. Which makes her a Fool rather than a Knave.  Not sure which is worse. The Fool is naive; the Knave is a cheat.  
But both are wrong. 

GoFundMe blocks Islam scholar Robert Spencer after ban by Mastercard, Patreon | LifeSite


This is really creepy and scary stuff.  
I know Robert Spencer's work very well (please note that he is not Richard Spencer, the known Nazi).  I've followed his blog, Jihadwatch, since I first got interested in the whole "Islam thing".  His was one of the first sites I came across that seemed to me to speak plainly and honestly about the ideology of this religion.  I have read most of his books and seen countless videos he's done.  
There is no way this man is a "purveyor of hate", as is claimed by Patreon and others who have banned him.
This is scary because it silences the voices warning about the truly troublesome aspects of Islam.  
This would not be happening if he were criticising Christianity.
And most galling is that Patreon took the action after "consulting" the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is is a hard-left outfit, that ought to be totally discredited, after many outings of its purely ideological stances on issues of the day. Most recently they had to pay Maajid Nawaz $US3.5 million in damages after calling him an "anti-Muslim extremist", a claim that is absurd on its face and shows just how biased their views are.

“How Far America Has Fallen” | New York Times

Opinion | How Far America Has Fallen - The New York Times

How they posture! 
I used to rather like Roger Cohen. But he's wandered off the reservation and now consorts with the self-righteous left. They are our betters. They are morally superior
Take this, in his latest New York Times column: "White Christian males losing their place in the social order decided they'd to anything to save themselves, and to heck with morality". 
They may exist. But the only Trump voters I know (and I'm not one myself), are nothing like that. 
That may have been a factor in his election. But there were many others including a decided loathing of the morally self-satisfied posturing of the Left. Here exemplified again by Cohen. 
It's true what's said on the Right: conservatives are willing to discuss issues and to put disagreements down to genuine differences of opinion. The Left thinks that if you don't agree with them it's because of bad faith. And you're simply wrong. In a morally wrong kind of way. 
Shame on Cohen and the Times in perpetuating a line that will go nowhere to help their chances of re-election. 

"How far America has fallen". 

Archbishop Alleges Pope Francis Long Knew About Abuse, Calls On Him To Resign : NPR

Archbishop Alleges Pope Francis Long Knew About Abuse, Calls On Him To Resign : NPR
This pope, this marxist pope, this post-modernist pope, this cultural-relativist pope, this Islam-appeasing pope, this Ireland-visiting pope, this pope, this self righteous Pope, Francis, knew all along about the abuse of young children by his own people.  And he did nothing
So he's also the do-nothing pope.  The nah, nah papa.
And now he has the gall to talk, in Spanish, to the Irish, and ask for forgiveness?!  no. No. NO! it won't do. 
Meanwhile his minions tell us "don't worry, if there are any more abusers, we won't let them practice".  Huh?
How about prison, father? 
How about public shaming and long prison time? 
That's what we do to employees of any other organisation found to be brutalising children in their charge. 
Nothing will change — because human sexuality can't change — unless and until they allow priests to marry. Suppressing sex, telling them they're married to the church, to god, to Jesus, whatever, is not going to cut it. 
Why no groundswell of outrage at the Pope's knowledge of the widespread abuse, his do-nothing on the abuse of young catholic children?
Why no follow-up calls for his resignation?  Where are the catholics with honour and ethics? 
Note to self: track down Sam Harris' essay on abuse in the catholic church which he wrote about five years ago and referenced in his latest podcast. 

LATER: The Pope is saying nothing about the letter.  But let's remember that the letter was written not by some fly-by-night fellow, but his previous Ambassador to the United States.  Not sure how long it's going to be credible to simply ignore it.  Though on BBC just now they had some of his apologists, smearing the contents of the letter.  Let's see...

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Britain’s Burka oBeisance | WSJ | Charlotte Allen

British school girls forced to wear burkas or veils in 150 U.K. schools.
I have to post the full article Religious Freedom and the Burqa, from the Wall Street Journal as it's behind a paywall, which I've done below the fold.
Charlotte Allen talks of a "critical mass" of Muslims in a population after which the culture becomes Islamic, like it or not.  
Some time ago I did an analysis of Islam as a percentage of a country's population against its freedom, based on the Freedom Index. The result was that there is no country in the world that has a Muslim population over 6% that is fully free.  It's here.
The U.K. has a Muslim population close to 5% now. And it's rising quickly. One can already see the Islamification of society with 100+ Sharia courts. The lobby group One Law For All has shown, in a detailed report about three years ago (actually 2010....), that Sharia courts discriminate against women and children. The report was ignored by the U.K. government, despite having been written by reforming Muslims and ex-Muslim WOC).  
Click here to see how much there is on this issue of One Law for All which ought to be a given in the UK but is not.  And it's only not because of the pressure of Islamists.
Sharia Courts in the U.K. are accepted as part of being a "tolerant society". As are a growing Muslim population which demands its women be covered up. 
Charlotte Allen asks: how long before any woman can't go out of doors in the U.K. without a veil?  If that seems unduly alarmist, let's go back to discussions on this issue ten years ago. Our worst fears, then derided by the apologist Left as xenophobic, have been exceeded. Things are actually worse than we feared. There has been no assimilation or integration. There has been no shift to liberal western values. Are we then just to abandon them, because, you know, it's "culturally arrogant" of us?
Things will get worse. Boris is spot on and should be supported. Theresa May should be mocked for asking him to do "sensitivity training". If there's to be any "sensitivity training" it ought to be the other way around. For misogynist Muslim men and Stockholm-syndromic Muslim women and their apologists. 
The article link (full text below)

“Phantom democracy: a puzzle at the heart of Chinese politics” | SCMP



The Tomorrow Square skyscraper in Shanghai. Are full rice bowls, skyscrapers,
shopping malls and holidays abroad enough?  Photo: Alamy

I'm going to say it right up front: if you want a good overview of what's going on in China, read the South China Morning Post. And in particular its "This Week in Asia" (TWIA) Sunday mag. It publishes people who really know their onions. And does so with (seemingly) no censorship from pro-Beijingers.*
[added: it's also free, and has a great App]
Sydney professor John Keane talks of China's "phantom democracy", which one could also call "democracy with Chinese characteristics". 
I've written of this before: the fact that China may not be democratic in the way we know democracy in the West, but that it's more democratic than many critics realise or acknowledge. Local elections at village level, with more candidates than vacancies, are what I've pointed to. 
Keane talks about that too, and a lot more. 
Like the extraordinary effort Beijing makes to test, and react to, public opinion. 
This is a good article. 
I like that he puts the Chinese (pinyin) in brackets after various Chinese sayings. I wish he'd put the characters as well, but, well, space. 
Meantime here's Keane's article:

To prove my first point above: In today's edition of "TWIA" there's another article on China worth reading....  A global China must ask itself awkward questions. Is it ready?


********
* For China Experts: keep on with reading the Chinese vernacular press, both government and the people's and following social media. That will give a fuller and more nuanced picture, for sure. But for a nice combination of summary and depth, the SCMP is way ahead of what's done in the likes of the New York Times, The Guardian or Sydney Morning Herald. And better than any other English language press in the region. 

“Will political adviser’s summer tour turn Hong Kong teens patriotic?” (XIAN vs XI’AN)


 A tour to which"Xian"?  Oh dear...]
TO THE LETTERS EDITOR:
THIS IS FOR SUB-EDITORS. NOT FOR PUBLICATION. 

It's **Xi'an** (When it's the city 西安)

NOT Xian. (When it is one character, e.g. County = 县). 

The difference is an apostrophe. But it's an important apostrophe. It's the equivalent to mistaking "its" and "it's". 
Please tell the sub-editors the difference between the two and that it has an apostrophe when it's two characters, as in the city of Xi'an. 
It really irks me that you continue to get this wrong (I've written to you before!), when you are generally so careful and correct.  

Yours, etc,
Pf

Saturday, 25 August 2018

“Why Trump should focus on US services, not goods” | SCMP

Chinese tourists in New York.  While just 3 million tourists visited the US
in 2016, they spent US$33 billion.  Photo: Reuters

David Dodwell, always sound,* highlights the fact that the US is going to miss out on tourism services exports to China.  
Chinese tourists spend an average of $11,000 per head, far more than any other country. 
Only 5 million of the 150 million Chinese overseas tourists went to America in 2016. If that figure rose to 10 million, a reasonable target, they would add $110 billion to US services exports to China, and 2.5 million jobs, dwarfing any gains that may be made from his tariffs policy, a policy that is misguided (in my and many others' view) and which may well end in tears. 
/Snip:
As for Trump's simple agenda, the trade expert consensus is that his strategy is wildly off-target. The only jobs the strategy would "bring home" would be low-pay, low-value-adding ones that have been shifted offshore by US companies for very good reason.
...
It is intriguing that Trump is so keenly obsessed with US goods exports to China worth US$130 billion a year, while wholly neglecting the upside potential of tourism and other services worth twice as much.

* It turns out that David and I have a similar history with China going back to the 1970s when we both went to China via the Shenzhen entry port, which involved trains and an overnight stay at the border. And at the time I was in Peking, 1976-82, he was on the China desk of the Financial Times in London, getting news from Peking-based Aussie journalist and FT stringer Tony Walker, who was also a mate of mine at the time. 
We've been sharing memories in email exchanges recently. And I'll be catching up with Tony when I'm next in Melbourne. He became a multiple award winning journalist.  Still writes, but freelance now. 

ScoMo replaces MaTu

Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison

The middle-aged, middle-class guy at right, replaces the middle-aged middle-class (but rich) guy at left. Scott Morrison (aka "ScoMo") replaces Malcolm Turnbull (not aka “MaTu”) as Australia's Prime Minister, as of yesterday afternoon. Both are of the same Party: it was an internal spill, a night of the long knives, Canberra style.  (ScoMo says he's the "new generation" of LNP.  Hardly....).
Will it make any difference? In a word, No. 
Not just within the Liberal-National Party coalition they both represent. Little in policy will change. 
But even as between the LNP and their opposition the Labor Party there's little difference. 
Because the LNP is Centre Right and the Labor Party is Centre Left. 
The key there is "Centre". 
A Venn diagram of LNP and Labor has a BIG bit in the Centre. The common area between them is very large indeed, much more so than the common areas between Republican and Democrat in America or Conservative and Labour in the U.K. 
Economic Performance 
Even in the economy, the area that most voters care most about, the record between the two is remarkably similar. 
I've looked at post-War economic performance. There's little to separate them. The LNP is slightly in front with an average GNP growth of 3.5%, with Labor's average performance is 3.1%. That's the overall percentage GNP growth they have achieved in all their times in office.
Spot the difference? 1961- 2016 annual GDP average growth. World Bank

No matter how you cut it, Australia's economic performance post-war is
pretty much a wash as between the LNP and Labor.  We can compare against the World,
OECD or the US, they all show that we tend to follow world trends. World Bank figures

Subsections of economic growth are also close: in workforce policies, employment outcomes, taxation, monetary policies; in all of these areas the post-war performance of the two parties is almost indistinguishable. 
Social policies
So what of other areas, such as social,
Medical, educational, climate change?
The differences are more in nuance than real substance. Even in the most contentious area of all — climate change policies, which arguably are what precipitated the latest leadership spill — the differences are the speed with which each plans to handle a shift to renewables. It's no longer about whether or not climate change is real. And I'd argue that even the speed doesn't matter. Because Australia's absolute emissions are tiny in the world context (high per capita, but only 1.5% of world total), which means that even if the more aggressive goals of the Labor party are reached the effect in world climate — and hence Australia — will be insignificant. 
Education, Health Care, taxation: all these areas generate a lot of heat in the moment. But stand back and see that it's all sound and fury signifying very little difference. 
And let's not forget that the most recent "progressive" social policy, same sex marriage, was passed by the conservative side of politics: Malcolm's LNP, just this year.  And other key policies have been promoted or opposed at various times, only to be accepted when in power. Examples include Medicare, the GSP and recent tax cuts (which Labor won't scrap, despite furious objection to them when they were debated).  We can see that the robust to and fro leads to policies that are often better balanced and acceptable to all concerned, rather than being foisted on the populace from one or another party.
To be celebrated 
This is not something to be ashamed about. It's more to be celebrated. It shows that Australians by and large share a lot more than they differ on. 
A country doesn't perform as well as Australia has done post-war, with a peaceful, peaceable, diverse population, unless it's got a lot of the settings right. And unless it has working civil and government organisations that proceed no matter who's at the top. 

The State and the Burqa – Perspectives

The State and the Burqa – Perspectives
... from bad to worst...

From Maajid Nawaz's Quilliam Foundation, a moderate Muslim reforming organisation.  
The whole story on Burka, veiling, etc. 
Short form: accoding to Islamic doctrine, and confirmed by Al-Azhar University, the most authoritative university in the Islamic world: modesty is required, but neither Niqab nor Burka is required. 
Legally: banning the Niqab or Burka is fine.
As many European and some Muslim countries have done.  The latter mainly because of security concerns: worries that men dress up in the burka to commit crimes.

Monday, 20 August 2018

“Three small stories paint one big picture of the class divide in China” | SCMP


Gansu schoolgirl Ma Baijuan is one of the three people whose lives
are chronicled in the Chinese documentary A Way Out
What you see if you visit China's tourist spots and its main cities, as I do regularly from my eyrie here in Hong Kong, is smartly-dressed middle-class Chinese, iPhones in hand. Car parks full of the latest. 
But you don't have to go far off your glistening new freeway, past the world's longest bridges, to see rural poverty. It's right there a hundred yards off to the right. 
And you recall that several hundred millions of Chinese still live in villages and are literally dirt-poor (and I mean "literally" literally...) 
Documentary director Zheng Qiong does something interesting. She follows three Chinese families over six years. One from a village, one from a middling provincial city and one from a wealthy Beijing family. It won't surprise Social Justice Warriors that the outcomes reflect their beginnings. 
Better check it out. Seems it's on the internet. A Way Out. 
/Snip
The wide-ranging attitudes to a university education are just one of a series of differences exposed in a new cinematic examination of China's social class system by documentary director Cherelle Zheng Qiong.
For one it is an unattainable dream, for another it is a passport to a secure future and for a third it is an option to be disregarded.
Over 94 minutes, A Way Out records the lives of three young people from different social levels and regions over six years, as they make the transition from teenagers to adults. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Yonden Lhatoo: “but-brigade” member AND 9/11 Truther....


LETTER TO SCMP
Congratulations SCMP, you now have a certified 9/11 Truther on your staff! ("Ban Donald Trump from Twitter before Alex Jones", Yonden Lhatoo, August 19)
Lhatoo closes with this gem: 
 I'm not fully writing off his 9/11 conspiracy theories about a government cover-up. You never know.
Actually, we absolutely do know who brought down the towers.  Unless you are a certified conspiracy theorist (aka "loony").  Why stop there, Yonden? What of the moon landings?  Surely they were fake too?  You never know!
Seriously, Mr Lhatoo needs to get a grip. Otherwise we readers are going to have major concerns about your chief news editor.
Lhatoo's brush with conspiracy comes after arguing that Trump ought be banned from Twitter.  That makes him a bona-fide member of Salman Rushdie's "but brigade". Freedom of speech is sacrosanct—but—it must be constrained in the interests of social harmony or to avoid "hate speech".
Indian-Canadian economist Vivek Dehejia says:
Such arguments are insidious, place us on a slippery slope toward an intellectually deadened, politically correct world of self-censorship, and must be opposed in the strongest possible terms by true liberals, for whom freedom of expression is not only one of the most fundamental of all civil liberties, but linchpin of the many others which require, at root, the unfettered commerce of ideas and opinions.
That.
Yours, etc...

Saturday, 18 August 2018

The Democratic People’s Republic of America

The above list of democratic-socialist wins was compiled here
His second article on Denmark in as many weeks (his first), New York Times columnist Paul Krugman waxes gooey about this "Butter Republic" (Something Not Rotten in Denmark
And it's true, it is indeed a lovely place, at least in summer when we went, and in a Scandinavian kind of way.  Mind you, I’ve never forgetten the surly scowl shot my way by a young lady as we were arriving in Copenhagen. I wondered what on earth I'd done wrong.  Then I twigged. I was driving a German rental, with German plates. I look pretty German (big, old and grey).  I took it to be a rather less than warm feeling towards Germans.  So there's that.  
But overall, fine and dandy and pretty and safe and -- so they say -- very happy.  

Then Krugman segues from Danish social-democracy to the hoped-for American version, by way of the new young NYC Democratic candidate for Congress, "AOC": 
Much has been made of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not just because of her upset primary victory, but because she’s a self-proclaimed socialist. Her platform, however, isn’t socialist at all by the traditional definition. It’s just unabashedly social-democratic.

"Much has been made" of AOC not just because of the upset primary victory or because she's a self-proclaimed socialist.  But also because the Democratic party has made her the new "Fresh Face of the Party".  So Fresh. So Face.
I'll grant Krugman his point on her platform. The grab-bag of feel-good "policies" are indeed social-democratic. But note that AOC is a fully paid-up member of the Democratic Socialists of America. And they are very much Socialists, not just the fluffier "Social Democrats".  If AOC reads the DSA website, and if she understands it (two pretty big "ifs" given her recent media performances), then she and her socialist beliefs and her DSA socialist comrades will be a danger to the Republic.  For it is he duty of paid-up DSA members to infiltrate parties of the Left, principally the Democratic party, and to push them further to the Left, towards pure Socialism.  There are clear indications that they're having impact, witness the recent policies espoused by Elizabeth Warren: pure DSA.
Krugman's comment led me to look at the DSA and its policies.
Below is a critique of the "Where we stand" section on the Democratic Socialists of America website.
Quotes from DSA's "Where we stand" are in italics.  My comments are indented.  Highlighting is mine. And I've only done a selection of sections.

Yemeni artist Boushra Almutawakel, 'What if', 2008

Left to right, top to bottom...  #womensart  

“Why Should We Fear Russian Political Ads?” | WSJ


Early on in the scandal of Russian interference in the 2016 election I saw figures that showed just how insignificant were the ads that Russia bought through Facebook. They were few — compared with the genuine ads of the Dems and GOP — and they were unprofessional.
In this article in the Wall Street Journal Curt Levy (lawyer, computer scientist, president of the Committee for Justice) makes the same case.
I wonder why there continues to be such paranoia as if they really did have major influence (as Hillary and Co claim) when logic and facts show that they cannot have. Or at most, a tiny influence, indistinguishable from that of either Party. Note that the ad messages were split Right and Left, by no means all of them aimed at promoting Trump's candidacy, or now the GOP in the mid-terms.
/Snip:
Ironically, some of the overreaction can be traced to the similarities between Russian ads and domestic political discourse. We don't like the divisiveness, name-calling, wild accusations and other heated rhetoric that increasingly dominate that discourse. Blaming the Russians is seductive because the unpleasant alternative is to blame ourselves.