Sunday, April 22, 2018

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

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

George Bush of Iraq, Meet Little Trump of Syria…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

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

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

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


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

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

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

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


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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, April 08, 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 02, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Good-Bye, Friend: Stéphane Audran


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