Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category
What is it about Trump that some conservatives find so distressing?
You’d expect progressives to be disturbed, of course, even before you get to policies. Trump is a manly, no nonsense, successful businessman. When you do consider policies, the nightmare deepens. He is unashamedly proud of his country, and has made it clear that when it comes to foreign policy and trade, he intends to put its interests first. He is pro-life, and supports police and the military. He supports Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself. He does not buy into currently popular (and in some circles mandatory) issues like global warming and multi-culturalism.
A horror story for progressives. But why are some conservatives also lining up under the #nevertrump banner? Only a few percent; not enough to influence the outcome of the Republican Convention. But a few percent of conservatives who refuse to vote, or vote for a third party candidate, may be all it takes to get Hillary Clinton over the line and into the White House.
First in the litany of Trump’s faults is this: He’s a fascist! The word fascist comes from Latin fasces, a bundle of rods tied together, sometimes with a protruding axe blade. In Roman times it was symbol of magisterial authority. The meaning is that the state is stronger when all its members think and act in concert. Fascism subsumes the interests of individuals and families to the perceived needs of the state, in the belief that citizens are eventually better off if everyone serves the same purposes and works towards the same objectives.
Explaining in detail why this is wrong and does not work would take a much longer essay than this. The question for now is, “Is this the position that Donald Trump espouses?” Hardly. Trump’s central policy positions are small, low-tax, non-interventionist government, free speech, and individual and family rights. The exact opposite of an authoritarian, all-encompassing central government.
Well, then, he’s a racist! Racism is not intrinsic to fascism, although the two are often conflated. Is Trump a racist? No one has been able to point to specific instances where Trump has abused or disadvantaged anyone on the basis of race. He has been publicly supported by black and Hispanic staff and former staff, by black pastors and business people, by immigrants of a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, many of whom who share his concern over illegal immigration. It is assumed in some circles that if you believe illegal immigration is a problem, you must do so on the basis of race, because you are xenophobic. Showing that to be untrue is as easy as going to Youtube and looking for Hispanics for Trump.
Well then, he is an islamophobe! Here, as others have pointed out, it isn’t a phobia if there is genuinely something to fear. Since September 2001 over 28,000 terror attacks have been made on civilians specifically in the name of Allah and Muhammad. In the name of all other religions? About one tenth of one percent of that figure. ISIS, and before ISIS Al Qaeda, have called on all muslims everywhere to undertake random murders of civilian populations in non-muslim countries. Very few will take up that call. But very few will speak out against those who do, or explain how the Quran’s command to “slay the unbelievers wherever you find them” is to be set aside while at the same time maintaining the Quran’s commands apply for all time to all muslims everywhere. There is sufficient reason to be concerned, despite the French Prime Minister’s pronouncement after Nice that we must get used to living with terror, or Waleed Aly’s claim after the Boston bombing that terrorism is not an existential threat, merely an irritant. How to deal with Islamic terror is another question, but recognising that it is a problem is a good first step, and taking ordinary people’s fears about it seriously is a good second step.
Well, then, Trump is a sexist! This coming from the Clinton camp is, like, um, really? Are there no mirrors where you live? Coming from conservatives it is even more baffling. In an interview published in The Sunday Times on July 3rd, Trump’s daughter Ivanka described her father as having lived feminism:
“He always told me and showed me that I could do anything I set my mind to if I married vision and passion with work ethic. He’s also surrounded me with strong female role models who have done just that since I was a little girl. People talk about gender equality. He has lived it. He has employed women at the highest levels of the Trump organisation for decades.” Opposed to this is Trump’s admission that he finds attractive women attractive. Of course this is unspeakable bastardry in modern progressivism, but from conservatives it sounds more like desperation to find something, anything, on which to base their disapproval.
In addition, Trump makes the fatal error of actually treating women and men equally. In the world of gender equality, this is as big a blunder as finding women attractive. In business and political debate, Trump appears not to notice the gender of a competitor. For example, he noted that Carly Fiorina was so unattractive it was unlikely anyone would vote for her. In fact, pretty much no one did. If he had said this about Ted Cruz or John Kasich no one would have batted a butt hair, let alone an eyelid. But just as equality in race means treating people differently on the basis of their race, so gender equality means treating people differently on the basis of their gender. You mustn’t say mean things about women!
Unless of course, you are a progressive, and a woman has said something that is outside the progressive agenda. Then all the rules cease immediately. So, for example, when Australian media personality Sonia Kruger suggested a temporary ban on muslim immigration, she got this (and hundreds of others) from compassionate inclusive Twitter persons: “You useless f%#king c&^t. The reason you spew this sh#t is cause your mouth is always full of c*%k.” Or this from a person deeply concerned about the impact of racism, to Rita Panahi, an Iranian born Australian, after she defended Sonia: “Ohh right curry muncher … say racist things about every person in a religion then say pay a visious price the things that mole said was visious but you won’t say that will you curry muncher.” Melania Trump has been described by a supporter of open borders as “a stupid bitch with a dumb accent.” A desire to welcome immigrants and ensure they are treated fairly is demonstrated here by insulting a successful immigrant woman who speaks four languages for her “dumb accent.”
Having exhausted all of the above, #nevertrump will eventually come out with the claim that Trump is stupid and cannot string a coherent sentence together. One has to step back in wonder at this argument. An unintelligent person who is not able to communicate built up an initial investment of $1 million into a multi-billion dollar real-estate and entertainment business. Nope. Just nope. Trump is an entertainer himself. He communicates his vision clearly and effectively, and without the aid of a teleprompter. Watching his question and answer sessions at rallies you see a man who listens intently, conveys his interest to the questioner, and responds, generally, with a thoughtful and straightforward reply. Generally? Yes. Trump sometimes trips over his words. He sometimes responds or comments in ways that might have been more delicately put, or required more time and detail to explain. It is very easy to put together a video of such moments and portray him as a mindless bumbler. But doing so says little about Trump, and a great deal about the agenda of the video maker. One of the qualities ordinary people like in Trump is that he is not rehearsed. He does not give the impression of saying what he thinks will win approval. He doesn’t need to.
Finally, “He’s not a conservative!” Yes, he is. There is not a single Trump policy position that does not fit under the very wide umbrella of freedom-loving, free-market conservatism. It is certainly possible to disagree about some aspect of social policy, or trade, for example. But any position taken in these discussions is a long way from large government socialism. At best, #nevertrump can claim that Trump’s opinions now are not what they were twenty years ago. No intelligent person’s opinions are what they were twenty years ago. Values clarify as one gets older. Practical experience and knowledge of the world is gained. The world changes, problems and issues change, and ways of dealing with them change. There would be much more reason for concern if Trump’s opinions had not changed with changing times.
I wrote six months ago that the only way the Republican Party could lose the election would be to nominate Trump. He was not my preferred candidate. But he received more votes in the Primaries than any other Republican candidate ever. Men and women who have never voted before turned out to vote for Trump. A recent survey of bellwether counties in a bellwether state (Florida) showed Trump leading in every county. Some of team #nevertrump claim it is not a binary contest between Trump and Clinton Mk II. There are, they say, other options. Maybe in some parallel universe, but here in the real world the next President of the United States will either be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. At this point, continuing to undermine Trump and the Republican campaign is effectively lobbying for Clinton.
There never was any real-world evidence to support the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
According to Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at MIT, the ‘consensus’ was declared before the research had even begun: “Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age.”
It has always been a media/political creation rather than a creation of science. John Cook of 97% fame, for example, is a cartoonist by trade, while Bill Nye the science guy is not a scientist, but an actor on a children’s TV program.
Just a couple of key things to note:
CO2 has never been a driver of climate. CO2 levels have been more than ten times higher than they are now, eg in the Mesozoic Era when corals flourished without any ill effects on anything, and positively beneficial effects for green plants.
There is no correlation between human use of fossil fuels and changes in global climate.
There is a very clear correlation between solar activity + PMO and AMO and changes in global rainfall and temperature.
Now very low solar activity is leading some scientists to take the view (one I have shared for the last fifteen years) that what we really need to be concerned about is the possibility of deep and extended cooling, and even of the end of the current inter-glacial. That would be genuinely catastrophic unless we focus now on developing all available energy sources, and improving crops to cope with much cooler conditions.
New Social Network Launched on 4th July
Could this Australian start-up be a Facebook Killer?
New online community https://www.blissyoo.com is a very small David to Facebook’s Goliath, but founder Peter Wales is undaunted. “Even Facebook started with just one member,” he said.
Mr Wales said large numbers of people were unhappy with Facebook. “There have been reports of Facebook removing posts and photos, for example of plus size models, or breast feeding mothers, or because they don’t share Facebook’s political views. One woman reported being banned simply for complaining about people being banned. Last month Facebook deleted Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist’s personal account after she reported a 1500% increase in sexual assaults in Sweden over the last ten years, while Twitter deleted the account of gay activist Milo Yiannopoulos following the Orlando nightclub shooting.”
“We have a commitment to freedom of speech. That was our primary reason for developing Blissyoo,” said Mr Wales. “Ordinary people have had enough of someone else deciding what they can say, and what their opinions should be. Blissyoo lets people post their thoughts and stories without interference, and lets them choose what news they want to read.”
Other Facebook competitors have come and gone, but Mr Wales, from Kangaroo Island in South Australia, is confident Blissyoo has enough similar features for Facebook users to feel at home, while offering new features to make the switch worthwhile.
“Facebook has made Mark Zuckerberg and a few others very, very rich,” he said. “But users who do all the work of providing content get absolutely nothing. Blissyoo has a revenue sharing system so users who post regularly get a share of advertising revenue from their timelines.”
The new network launched on July 4th, and Blissyoo mobile and chat apps are available in Android Playstore and the iTunes Store.
“We encourage our users to make suggestions, and to be an active part of the Blissyoo community,” said Mr Wales. “Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have billions of dollars and thousands of staff. We have a small team dedicated to our members and to freedom of speech. That commitment is the reason Blissyoo was created, and will be a permanent feature.”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg could not be reached for comment.
Just back from handing out how to vote cards for a candidate I only halfheartedly support and who will not get my first vote.
Interesting that Sportsbet, who are generallty far more reliable than any media pundits, predict the following:
Greens: 1 (Adam Bandt – Melbourne)
NXT: 1 (Rebekha Sharkie – Mayo)
Other: 3 (Bob Katter – Kennedy, Cathy McGowan – Indi, Andrew Wilkie – Denison)
There will certainly be a huge swing away from Jamie Briggs in Mayo, but unless some very strange things happen with preferences, Jamie will still be returned.
I also doubt Cathy McGowan in Indi. Voters have had a chance now to see how unstable Cathy McGowan is, and I would not be surprised to see Sophie Mirabella returned, especially given Victoria will have what I suspect will be the only statewide swing to the LNP.
Andrew Wilkie in Denison? Only if voters have been smoking too much wacky weed.
The Coalition will be returned with a reduced but working majority.
On the other hand, I would not be surprised if Eden-Monaro, which has been a reliable bell-wether seat for many years, bucks that trend and slips back to Labor.
The Senate is where it will get interesting. Nick Xenophon has achieved precisely nothing, and is a rampant populist. But he has charisma, and sometimes latching onto passing trendy causes does work, temporarily. He may pick up a few more seats in the Senate. That may not be as much of a problem as some LNP leaders think. Despite his desperate need for approval, he is not irrational.
Family First may also pick up an extra seat, as may the LIberal Democrats. The ALA may also collect a couple. While howled down by both major parties, their views and policies do reflect those of a growing number of Australians.
The result will be a (hopefully) chastened Malcolm Turnbull, Jamie Briggs and LNP leadership, but a workable majority in the House, with the balance of power in the Senate held by minority parties, but (again hopefully) minority parties with sensible and experienced candidates, who will support pro-growth and security policies.
It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no prospect of a Liberal party led by Malcom Turnbull ever returning to the party’s former core values of social conservatism, fiscal responsibility and personal integrity.
Being determined to win at any cost, and make any promises to do so, is not a win at all. Certainly not for the Australian people. Unless there are principles, there is no point.
Three years of Shorten and Plibersek is a ghastly prospect, with its certainty of increased energy costs and costs of doing business, higher unemployment and debt, and a reopening and refilling of detention centres.
But it is more and more likely that ordinary and loyal Liberal voters will see this as the only alternative to the destruction from within of conservatism in Australian politics.
Those of us who believe that social conservatism and economic libertarianism offer the best path for peace and justice and prosperity for Australia may well believe that this will only be achieved, and with it, a sound future for Australia, by sending a clear message that the Liberal Party needs to return to principled conservative leadership.
The real question is, how to do that without the horrendous cost to Australia of three years (at least) of Shorten and Plibersek?
There has already been a substantial member level backlash against elected members who voted to replace Tony Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull is simply not a conservative. He is a big spending, trendy issue, promise anything to get re-elected salesman. This is not what Liberal Party members, or ordinary Australians, want or need.
No conservative or traditional Liberal voter should feel guilty about giving first preference votes to other, conservative, candidates. In my electorate of Mayo, for example, Bruce Hicks of Family First will get my first preference. I know Bruce. He is a good guy; hard-working, a successful businessman in a very difficult industry (dairy farming) and a school principal. He knows about balancing budgets, and is a person of intelligence and integrity. He won’t be elected though. The seat will be retained by Jamie Briggs.
There is nothing much wrong with Jamie. The press has been monumentally unfair to him on occasion, but he has generally done a good job for his electorate. Apart from supporting an idiotic $20 million white elephant airport development on Kangaroo Island, so that airlines can run routes from capital cities other than Adelaide direct to Kingscote. Except that every major airline has already said they have no interest in such routes and no intention of flying them.
Then there is his refusal to get behind the Kangaroo Island water gap/ferry as part of the national highway network. This is the single change that would do more than anything else to boost the island’s economy, make KI the jewel of South Australian tourism, and help to reverse SA’s declining attractiveness to overseas and inter-state tourists. At the moment it is often cheaper to fly from Adelaide to Bali for the weekend, than to take a family and car from Adelaide to KI for the weekend. Absurd. Jamie’s reason for refusing to support making the ferry part of the highway network (thus equalising transport and freight costs) is that it would give an unfair advantage to Kangaroo Island producers. This is equally absurd. How does partially removing a substantial disadvantage suddenly amount to an unfair advantage?
In addition, Jamie has given his support to what is surely the biggest pork barrel project in Australia’s history; the construction of submarines in Adelaide. Never mind the fact that the contract is to build submarines that haven’t been designed yet, using software that hasn’t been written yet. Never mind that the planned subs will be so much slower than surface navy vessels they will be unable to carry out escort duties, or effective intercept and denial. Never mind that it will take fifty years to build a fleet that will be outdated before the first one hits the water. Never mind that we could lease fast and tested Virginia class submarines from the US and have a functional fleet in five years at half the cost. And please don’t tell me we can’t use them because they can’t be serviced in Australia. A fully equipped service centre could easily be set up in Adelaide, with the subs returning to the US every ten to twenty years for an RCOH (Refueling Complex Overhaul).
Of course every Australian should mind all these things. Our defence focus is rightly on our navy. Defence personnel take enough risks and make enough sacrifices without having to worry about slow, second rate equipment. Tax payers make enough sacrifices that they should not have to worry about paying an extra $20 billion for submarines, even second rate French submarines, just so they can be built in Adelaide. The argument is that this will create jobs in Australia.
The argument is hogwash. The wages and on-costs paid to those employees is money taken from other businesses and wage earners. The government is simply vastly less efficient than private enterprise at almost everything. That costs money and productivity. Then there is the weight of tax collection and compliance costs, and layers of bureaucracy on top. Every job the government “creates” comes at a cost of 2.2 jobs in private enterprise.
What the “build the subs in Adelaide” boondoggle will do is create about 5,000 jobs in key marginal Liberal seats in Adelaide, at a cost of 12,000 jobs elsewhere. That is behaviour by government, which means the elected members, which should not be rewarded.
In the Senate, the options for conservatives are fairly clear. We need to give Turnbull and his cronies a good thump, while not risking a balance of power held by Xenophon or the Greens. Xenophon is a charismatic character with absolutely nothing to say. He is simply, like Malcolm, a principle-less, headline seeking, big-spending populist. No thanks. The Greens, well, if you could run steel factories on unicorn farts, the world would be a lovely place. Until then, we live in a real world, with real profits and losses and energy needs. So again, no thanks.
My advice would be, vote under the line. The Liberal Democrats, the Australian Liberty Alliance, Family First, are all thoughtful, well-rounded, principled conservative parties. They may get one candidate each in each state. Two would be brilliant. Then give the rest to the LNP. The result, fingers, arms and ankles crossed, should be a Senate where the balance of power is held by real conservatives, while still giving the LNP room to govern effectively.
So, pace Miranda, it is entirely possible to be a deliberate, delectable, delicious conservative, determined to deliver without delay while deleting de louses, and not be at all delusional.
Many of the media criticisms of Pope Francis have been unfounded, unfair, or simply silly. But this much more thoughtful article by Adam Shaw, an actual practicing Catholic, points out a history of mediocrity and confusing comments that are doing real harm. No question Jorge/Pope Francis is a great pastor and a caring man. But he does not have the intellectual capacity or discipline to be Pope. Of course, the fact is, he is Pope.
Some people would say this means he ought to be, and therefore whatever he says and does is part of the divine plan.
Yes but, yes but, yes but … human stubbornness or deceit or pride can get in the way of God’s perfect plan. That’s what sin does. There was a considerable amount of wrangling in the last conclave. That sends warning signs. What we can do is pray for Pope Francis, that God will lead and encourage him in the right way, and at the same time exercise the critical judgement, thoughtfulness and reason that the Church has always encouraged in its members.
All things work together for good, for those who love the Lord. Romans 8:28
In 2012 Stanford University’s Centre for Health Policy did the biggest comparison of organic and conventional foods and found no robust evidence for organics being more nutritious. A brand-new review has just repeated its finding: “Scientific studies do not show that organic products are more nutritious and safer than conventional foods.”
… animals on organic farms are not generally healthier. A five year US study showed that organic “health outcomes are similar to conventional dairies”. The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety found “no difference in objective disease occurrence.” Organic pigs and poultry may enjoy better access to open areas, but this increases their load of parasites, pathogens and predators. Meanwhile the organic regulation against feeding bee colonies with pollen supplements in low-pollen periods along with regulation against proper disinfection leads to sharply lower bee welfare.
Organic farming is sold as good for the environment. This is correct for a single farm field: organic farming uses less energy, emits less greenhouse gasses, nitrous oxide and ammonia and causes less nitrogen leeching than a conventional field. But each organic field yields much, much less. So, to grow the same amount of wheat, spinach or strawberries, you need much more land. That means that average organic produce results in the emission of about as many greenhouse gasses as conventional produce; and about 10 per cent more nitrous oxide, ammonia and acidification. Worse, to produce equivalent quantities, organic farms need to occupy 84 per cent more land – land which can’t be used for forests and genuine nature reserves.
Lots of assumptions were made following the Orldando shooting.
One assumption everyone seems to have made was that the murders were, at least in part, motivated by homophobia. The reason for this was that the shooting took place at a well-known gay nightclub.
But there is no evidence that the shooter was anti-gay. None.
He also scouted other possible locations for the shooting, including the local Disney park.
There are no anti-gay remarks on any of his social media posts, or in any of his private messages. His calls during the shooting mention ISIS, and his desire for revenge on America. But he said nothing about gays.
Whatever his possibly confused sexuality, it now seems clear he chose the Pulse Club not because it was a gay club, but because it was a place he knew well, he knew there would be a large number of people in small place where it was difficult to exit quickly, and because it was a gun-free zone, and he knew he would face little effective resistance.
His ex-wife reports the FBI told her not to reveal her husband was gay. Why?
From the linked article …
“At least four Pulse clubgoers remembered seeing Mateen at least a dozen times in the past. But authorities said they had no further information when asked about the sightings on Monday. NBC reported that the FBI was looking into his alleged club visits.
“[He’d get] really, really drunk,” Smith told the Canadian Press. “He couldn’t drink when he was at home — around his wife, or family. His father was really strict . . . He used to bitch about it.”
They also shot down claims that Mateen had snapped after seeing two men kissing each other in public.
“That’s bullcrap, right there. No offense. That’s straight-up crap. He’s been around us,” Smith said. “Some of those people did a little more than (kiss) outside the bar … He was partying with the people who supposedly drove him to do this?”
Kevin West, another regular at Pulse, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen used gay dating apps on a regular basis and even messaged him on a gay dating app, Jack’d.”
Global temperature tracks sunspot activity almost exactly. Number of sunspots now? Zero. Cold times are coming.
Iran is building a military base in the Kurdish heartland of Northern Iraq, apparently specifically to target the Kurds, who are leading the fight against ISIS.
If this marks a new level of understanding betweeen Iraq and Iran, then it amounts to the creation of a Shi’ite arc extending from Hezbollah in Lebanon, through Syria and Iran down into Shi’ite majority Iraq.
The Saudis won’t like this.
Fukushima, vaccines, chemtrails. It is always the same.
CT (Conspiracy theorist) “Something really bad and scary is happening!”
Me “I don’t think there is any evidence to support that.”
CT “That’s because there is a massive cover-up. The (government, power companies, big pharma, Monsanto) are deliberately hiding the truth from the public.”
Me ” How do you know that?”
CT “Because there is no evidence. If they weren’t covering it up, there would be. Isn’t that obvious? Are you crazy or something?”
In response to the customary whining on the ABC about possible reductions in the government spending other people’s money:
Cuts to arts funding are not ‘tantamount to the Coalition Government standing bang in the middle, right on top of Uluru with a megaphone, shouting “Oh just work for free! You know you want to!”‘
It is simply that ordinary tax payers are getting fed up with paying for other people’s hobbies. Artists do not have to work for nothing, nor are they expected to. Like the rest of us, whether butcher, baker, or candle-stick maker, they simply need to produce something other people value enough to pay for.
If they can’t or won’t, that’s fine, but then they have no right to demand the government force working families to pay for what is often mind-bogglingly dull and uncreative “art” that no one would buy if they had a choice.
Government funding for the arts encourages dependence and mediocrity. Time to can it completely.
If you want people to pay for something, make something people are willing to pay for.
An update on the new website, www.blissyoo.com.
As some of you know, for the last several weeks I have been working on a new website, www.blissyoo.com, an alternative to Facebook.
There were two major reasons for this. Firstly, Facebook has made Mark Zuckerberg and a few others very, very rich, while those who do most of the work and provide all the content – you – get nothing at all. It is fair enough that most advertising income goes back to running the website. It is hugely expensive to develop software, run servers, provide support, etc. But how is it right that the people who put in what makes everyone keep coming back – you – get nothing for your efforts?
We have done the sums, and believe we can give users back 20% of all advertising income from their home page/wall/timeline (we call it your journal, but more on that later).
The second reason is that Facebook actively edits out news stories and posts it doesn’t like. That is just wrong. Who is to say that your opinion, photos, likes and and dislikes, should simply be ignored because they don’t fit somone else’s political agenda? We take the view that while anything publicly viewable should be family friendly, on your own journal, among your own friends, and in groups and communities you create, you should be able to post anything you like (as long as it’s legal, obviously!).
The other side of that coin is that this site is not a “safe zone.” If you are someone who is offended by the thought that some people might see things differently from you, or becomes distressed when you hear an opinion you do not share, this is not the community for you!
Below is the site logo, designed for us by Simone Halloran of Little Birdy Design.
It is a B for bliss. It is also a heart, and suggestive of a winding road – a journey – and perhaps a mother holding a child. I couldn’t be happier with what Simone has done for us.
We have just finished sorting some minor issues with text size and colour, chat system and music sharing, and are now in the middle of the move from shared hosting for development, to dedicated servers in the US and Singapore plus CDN for live/production mode.
Once that is done, two days of testing to ensure all database settings have moved across and then bang! A blissful flight into the future 🙂