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“If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan”

Seriously, is this the best they’ve got? It’s from The Financial Times and it’s title is, “Truth, lies and the Trump administration”. Its opening paras:

The man from the BBC was laughing as he reported the White House’s false claims about the size of the crowd at Donald Trump’s inauguration. He should have been crying. What we are witnessing is the destruction of the credibility of the American government.

This spectacle of obvious lies being peddled by the White House is a tragedy for US democracy. But the rest of the world — and, in particular, America’s allies — should also be frightened. A Trump administration that is addicted to the “big lie” has very dangerous implications for global security.

It is clear whose credibility is being destroyed. Is the left truly impervious to its own lies and deceit or do they just think that they can pile on and no one will ever catch on? : This is not unrelated:

The major media have warned that Donald Trump would wage a war on the First Amendment. His quick draw to call out bad reporting, boot disruptive journalists, and mock fake news were obvious signs that the freedom of the press would hang by a squib during the Trump administration.

And, lo, it came to pass Monday that all their fears were realized. Did the new President sent red-hatted mobs to smash printing presses and hijack the cable news to run non-stop ads for Trump Steaks? Even worse. In his first official White House press briefing, Sean Spicer called on reporters from the wrong side of the tracks.

If you read it in the MSM you have to get an authoritative confirmation from somewhere else.

POST-BREAKFAST FOLLOW-ON: It is still yesterday’s paper, but have gone through The New York Times and the front page of The Financial Times. Being in Poland is a reminder of what real Fascism is all about, not to mention socialism as it really is. Anyone who confuses any of this with Donald Trump is not merely ignorant but is suffering from some kind of mental disorder. I will stick to the NYT here but the FT headlines, “Trump sets tone for presidency with attack on ‘dishonest’ media”. But let us turn to The NYT.

The NYT has its entire opinion page devoted to an article by some novelist on “The America we lost when Trump won”. It took until the start of the third column to get to the only specifics about what he doesn’t like about the new world order, the disappearance of Obamacare and the choice of “far-right justices” for the Supreme Court. The rest is non-specific along the usual racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic lines. That Trump is none of these is irrelevant to the narrative. His conclusion:

What we have done is desecration, a foolish and vindictive act of vandalism, by which they betrayed all the best and most valiant labours of our ancestors. We don’t want to accept this because we cannot accept that the people, at least in the long run of things, can be wrong in our American democracy. But they can be wrong, just like the people anywhere. And until we accept this abject failure of both our system and ourselves, there is no hope for our redemption.”

If the problems of the past eight years are that invisible, these people are in no position to judge anyone else.

“A clear and defining moment”

It is how many days since the inauguration and we have just turned on the set here in Warsaw and find CNN going on about whether or not the number of people who watched the ceremony was greater for Trump than it was for Obama in 2009.* This was literally described as “a clear and defining moment” in the new White House’s dealings with the press. Meantime, in the news, but clearly not as important as this, we have the following on Drudge:

Reinstates ban on foreign money promoting abortion…
Meetings with execs, labor leaders…
Set to battle Republicans on spending cuts…
Wants to slash regs by 75% — or ‘maybe more’…
Discusses fighting terrorism in phone call with Sisi…
GREAT AGAIN: FOXCONN investment for USA plant would exceed $7 billion…
KROGER to fill 10,000 permanent jobs…

If you depend on the news media, you are not just ignorant of what is going on, you are misled in both content and balance about almost everything of any importance in the world.

* I might mention that we watched the inauguration on my phone as we travelled from Aarhus to Copenhagen. Do we get counted into the tally? How would we even be included? But there we were and what a pleasure it was. As for showing up on the day, since 96% [!] of DC votes were for Clinton, it’s a safe bet that there were fewer locals interested in coming along this time than last time.

Enlightenment principles



This statement is from an exhibit in the Arts Museum in Aarhus and captures the values of the enlightenment in a way that spells them out so that they can be understood in the times in which we live.

The New York Times is a vile anti-semitic rag

There was an article in The New York Times on the 20th of January by Bernard-Henry Levy under the title, Jews, be wary of Trump. Good advice to be wary of everyone, but there was something far more sinister than to remind yourself that we all have agendas and no one’s agenda is ever in perfect accord with our own. But this was more. This was to say that Jews should be even more wary of Trump than of others – such as Barack Obama, say – because of their need to preserve their very Jewishness, which trust in Trump will destroy. Here is the principle from which the argument builds and in his own words. I have numbered the passages from 1 to 5 with words from the second repeated in the third. But the fifth is the one that matters.

(1) “There is a law that governs the relations between the Jews and the rest of the world.”

(2) “That law was articulated in one form at the time of the trial of Adolf Eichmann.”

(3) “At the time of the trial of Adolf Eichmann the great Jewish thinker Gershom Scholem faulted Hannah Arendt for falling short of ‘ahavat Israel’ — for showing insufficient ‘love of the Jewish people.’”

(4) “That law says that demonstrations of love count for less, paradoxically, than love itself.”

(5) “It says, to be precise, that gestures of friendship, when they do not come from the bottom of the heart and are not built on sincere love — that is, finally, on a deep and true knowledge of the love object — are gestures that eventually may turn into their opposite.”

His point is this: Jews cannot trust anyone else unless they have a sufficiently deep love of the Jewish people. Since Trump may not have the requisite sufficiently deep love for the Jewish people, “nothing is more important . . . than to maintain a measure of distance”. Levy, or The NYT for that matter, had never said anything like this about Obama, nor suggested that some kind of distance should be maintained. But about Trump, we instead find this:

Like all other American citizens, Jews must respect the president-elect in the forms provided in the Constitution. But they must not fall into the trap of believing in his inconsistent and ultimately double-edged benevolence. They must not forget that, no matter how many times Mr. Trump declares his love for Israel, for Benjamin Netanyahu or anyone else, he will remain a bad shepherd who respects only power, money and the perquisites of his palaces, while caring nothing for miracles, of course, and not a whit for the vocation of study and the cultivation of intelligence that are the light of the Jewish tradition.

Such high-minded idiocy really is hard to take. The ignorance of even the basics of politics are a phenomenon. The reality is as it is and each political actor must attempt to work out what is best to do given the circumstances as they understand it. The question truly is, what is the Israeli government to do in this world where Donald Trump is president and where strategic allies are essential if Israel is to be preserved? Here is the dumbest least appropriate advice I have come across in a very long while:

For the heirs of a people whose endurance over millenniums was because of the miracle of a tradition of thought nourished, rekindled and resown with each generation and through a constantly refined body of commentary, the challenge is clear: Any sacrifice of the calling to intellectual, moral and human excellence; any renunciation of the duty of exceptionalism that — from Rabbi Yehuda to Kafka and from Rashi to Proust and Levinas — has provided the ferment for its almost incomprehensible resistance; any concession, in a word, to Trumpian nihilism would be the most atrocious of capitulations, one tantamount to suicide. [Bolding added]

Any commentator who can see in Trump’s approach a form of nihilism is devoid of understanding not just of politics but of history and philosophy. The suicide it may not seek but would certainly advance if any notice were taken of what Levy has written, is that of the Israeli state. In the long sweep of history, four years, or even eight if it comes to that, will pass before you know it, in the same way that Obama was elected and is now himself gone from power. That Jews and Israel must balance all of these considerations in real time in the midst of a Middle East whose future contours remain as invisible and unforeseeable as is the evolution of American political attitudes. This is the nature of all political calculation. But to advise Jews and Israel not to work with the American president because it would be “the most atrocious of capitulations” to the historical intellectual traditions of the Jews is pure madness. The danger is not in Donald Trump but in following the advice of Bernard-Henry Levy and the NYT. They seem to be among the greatest enemies Israel and the Jewish people must deal with today.

The million women march

All modern mass movements in politics are socialist. I cannot think of an exception to the rule that if someone is marching in the street, they are looking for the state to manage the economy, to give them something for free, and for individual rights to be suppressed. As I write this from the former Marxist state of Poland, what comes across is that the true horror of communism is not that living standards were lower, it is that you could not run your own life as you chose by following your own personal desires. It was the suppression of the right to live as one would personally wish that makes socialism so devastating, not to mention that in doing so they also impoverish a community.

In politics, everyone has an agenda. My own personal agenda was set for me by the values of The Enlightenment, whose most important text may have been Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. The Declaration of Independence was signed in the same year that the book was first published, and it is these values that all subsequent history has shown has led to the most contented societies as well as the most prosperous.

Our greatest enemies are those who would run our lives as they see fit. Whether theological, social or through a lust for power or wealth, there are all too many who would like to take our freedoms from us, who would like to tell us how to run our lives. And matched with that, it seems as if half the population of the nations in which The Enlightenment came to be the ruling political philosophy have a hatred and fear of freedom and are unable and unwilling to direct their own lives on their own.

There were a million in attendance at the Women’s Marches around the world yesterday. Quite a lot of people, but very clearly a small minority. Socialists love marching around to demand their rights, but if there is some right that women today want that is not about suppressing freedom for others in some way I don’t know what it is. Everything that needed to be said about women’s rights was said by John Stuart Mill in his The Subjection of Women. If it comes to that, I wrote the only article to be found on the net on The greatest woman of the twentieth century, who was without doubt Margaret Thatcher, but which no one else had mentioned until I did in 2010 because she is a daughter of The Enlightenment and not some socialist seeking to rule the world based on some Marxist philosophy of some kind or another. And if it comes to that, Sarah Palin remains for me the great missed opportunity, giving us Barack Obama instead.

There is no agenda for the million on the street. There is nothing coherent they want that they do not have, and there is nothing that Donald Trump will take from them that they have already. Unless, of course, what they want is a socialist state. That they cannot have, and they are very lucky that for the moment at least, no one is of a mind to give it to them.

Walled Aly, the NYT and “the wreckage of 2016”

It’s been something of a problem to decide which newspaper to read each morning while in Europe, and after quite a bit of trial and error, I have locked onto The New York Times. It is American politics that is the most important at the moment, and it does turn out that it does not seem to matter which of the British papers I choose, none of them are any better. They are all filled with the same kind of deceit, trying to ease the pain among the left, and looking to find whatever vulnerabilities there are in Trump as president.

The NYT has ended up the least painful to read since it is so consistent in its idiocies. Nothing in it ever does anything but fill me with disgust at what seems to be some kind of competition to find the most ridiculous means to discredit the election, but after a while you get used to it. What they are doing is, of course, not just dangerous but downright evil since the very processes of a democratic system depend on the general acceptance of the processes in which our political leaders are chosen. The left has no uses for such established processes except to the extent that they are able to place their people into positions of power. One article after another has been about how the electoral system is broken, written by one cretin after another.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the editorial page for Friday’s paper (on the continent the papers are always a day late) and in the feature position was an article on “Voting should be mandatory” written by none other than Waleed Aly, “columnist and broadcaster and a politics lecturer at Monash University”. Bottoms of barrels don’t get scraped any more thoroughly than this. He starts:

When you survey the wreckage of 2016, it’s easy to forget that the most seismic democratic events were brought about by minorities.

Only 37 percent of eligible Britons voted to leave the European Union. The case is even clearer in the American election, which Donald J. Trump won despite having persuaded only a quarter of the American electorate to support him. Mr. Trump triumphed in a low-turnout election.

The probability that the US will adopt compulsory voting is zero to the hundredth decimal point. What is important is that NYT readers can now sagely nod their heads and agree that, on the evidence of the 2016 election, the system has “handed power to someone whose plan was to keep turnout low, hoping to appeal to an impassioned minority rather than a nation at large”.

But you do wonder whether Aly volunteered to write this article, or whether the editorial board sought out someone who could write these inanities for them and lit on the most reliable person on the left in a country with compulsory voting. They therefore chose Waleed as the bunny to put this article together, helping to convince his fellow political fools on the left in the US that the American voting system is broken and that DJT is not really their legitimate president after all.

The inauguration timetable in Australia

The inauguration takes place in the early afternoon of the 20th of January in the US but will occur in Australia in the early hours of January 21st. Here is the Australian timetable.

Saturday, 1:00am AEDT

The President-elect attends a morning worship service.

Saturday, 1:30am AEDT

The Inaugural Swearing-in Ceremony begins. The crowd will be entertained by performers until the President-elect arrives.

Saturday, 2:30am AEDT

President-elect Trump heads to the White House for a meeting with soon-to-be former President Barack Obama. From there, they head to the swearing-in ceremony at the US Capitol together.

Saturday, 3:45am AEDT

Incoming vice-president Mike Pence takes his oath of office.

Saturday, 4:00am AEDT

Which is noon (local time), at which point the term of the new administration officially begins. Mr Trump will step up and take the oath of office, administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Saturday, 4:10am AEDT

President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address.

Saturday, 5:00am AEDT

After the conclusion of the inaugural ceremony, Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden (as well as their families) will be escorted out by the new President and Vice-President.

Saturday, 5:30am AEDT

An Inaugural Luncheon organised by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Saturday, 6:30am AEDT

After lunch, President Trump and Vice-President Pence lead the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Saturday, 11:00am AEDT

The day finishes with Inaugural Balls held across Washington.