The best political thriller in a long, long time

A film not to miss: Eye in the Sky. Here is the beginning of the description at Rotten Tomatoes:

EYE IN THE SKY stars Helen Mirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya.

The rest is the most nerve-wracking film I have seen in ages. It also follows Kates’s Five Minute Rule for Hollywood movies, that the last five minutes of every serious film are devoted to replacing life’s reality with some kind of making-everything-right for the kind of people who need trigger warnings. In company with Zootopia, it captures the madness of our own times. Do yourself a favour and not find out what it’s about beyond what I have just said before you enter the cinema. It is also Alan Rickman’s last film which is another reason to go.

As I say, the best political thriller in a long, long time and about contemporary issues as well.

UPDATE: The reason I had invoked my Five Minute Rule for Hollywood endings was that I was not sure which side the film was actually on. No question that the film as it came out will appeal to people like myself, but there is that last five minutes which made me think that the producers had not intended the film to appeal to me at all. That this is the case has been confirmed by the comment from PoliticoNT, who wrote:

Two stars at best. The director’s film ‘Rendition’ which the critics panned is much better. You’ve been warned.

To have preferred Rendition gives the game away. So let me give you just a touch of an understanding of what the film is about. Suppose that we are in the middle of World War II, at the end of 1943, and the entire Nazi high command is meeting in some place that can be bombed to smithereens. There you find Hitler, Göering, Himmler, Goebbels and Eva Braun all in one location at the same time. However, as they are about to bomb this location, some innocent young fräulein is so close to the building that the entire decision making process is frozen as they decide whether or not to bomb the place if there is more than a 50% chance that the girl will be killed. Now go see the film since there is nothing in it that anyone will think of as unrealistic about how the threat of terrorists is treated in the modern world.

Tony Abbott – what a difference he made

Two stories on Tony Abbott today, Abbott: the case for my foreign policy the first in today’s Australian on The national security case for the Tony Abbott government and the second just published in Quadrant, Abbott: I Was Right on National Security. Why is Turnbull not man enough to say so? From the article in The Oz:

Tony Abbott stands by his hard line on Islamist terrorism and his “Team Australia” rhetoric, and indirectly criticises the Turnbull government for not responding to the general request by the Obama administration to do more in the Middle East.

In a defence of his government’s national security policies, Mr Abbott says that in office he shunned the moral posturing of Labor, aspired to be America’s “most dependable” ally, did “shirt-front” Russian President Vladimir Putin and strengthened national security by practical action and close co-operation with other leaders.

And from Quadrant, the article begins:

As prime minister, I was determined to advance our interests, protect our citizens and uphold our values around the world. The best way to do this was usually to be as practically helpful as possible in our dealings with other countries. That meant putting aside the moral posturing of the Rudd years to be a country that said what it meant and did what it said.

What a difference he made!

There is also this from Andrew Bolt, The Belgian ambassador’s criticism of Turnbull is wrong: blame Islam and immigration, where we find this fantastic piece of self-delusion:

My view is that the terrorists who committed the latest attacks and in Paris and in Belgium are European-raised and born. Maybe from foreign origins, but they are Europeans. So it has nothing to do with the refugee crisis…

And therefore, presumably, another few million won’t make the slightest difference.

You know, I cannot even begin to think of a title that can capture how surreal this is

The story comes with a title that exactly captures what an American president can now say in public: OBAMA: ‘THERE’S LITTLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMMUNISM AND CAPITALISM’. And it is not just that the American president is a vacuous cypher, but that it has been evident from the beginning that everything he said today is what he has always believed. That it will only be the usual suspects who are riled by these words that is the disaster. Since he can say them without much worry about capsizing his presidential boat, you now know a very great deal about the country that elected him, its education system, and possibly about why the American economy refuses to recover.

Obama responded to a question about nonprofit community organizations and the necessity of attracting funding from both the public and private sectors.

“So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate,” Obama said.

“Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it really fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works,” he added.

Obama went on to praise Cuba’s socialist system under dictator Raúl Castro, touting the country’s free access to basic education and health care, although he acknowledged that Havana itself “looks like it did in the 1950s” because the economy is “not working”.

A phenomenon of idiocy. And it is not just the march through the institutions, but comes right down to the way we teach economics that he can be as ignorant as he is since it is an ignorance now shared with many. That the article merely states that Obama “has stoked controversy” shows even the writer of the story sees nothing much out of the ordinary. It’s not even the feature story at Drudge where this was found.

ISIS is not a group it’s an ideology

The central problem is that the smug European/Western mentality believes that what he seeks is an impossibility. Hardly any story there at the link and the title is inane: We talked to an ex-ISIS fighter in Belgium, and what he said was chilling. It’s not chilling to him; it’s what he is willing to die for.

His dream to “live underneath an Islamic caliphate, underneath Islamic law” would soon become a reality in Europe. ISIS’s brand of militant Islam would not be denied, he said, because “ISIS is not a group, it’s an ideology.”

And just what is it that will prevent this from coming true, do you think, over let us say the next sixty years?

We have had a declaration of war and we know their war aims: Islamic State video calls for jihad after Brussels blasts.

“Every Muslim who is well aware of the history of Islam, knows that the holy war against infidels is an integral part of Islam, and those who read history would know.”

And those who do not read history can watch as it happens around them as they sleep. All that stands between you and this kind of fate is a billionaire property developer from New York who our elites disdain because he is not one of them. See the ISIS recruitment video below in which the voice of Donald Trump shines as the only piece of sanity found anywhere in this horrific mess.

Beyond parody

From the Herald-Sun, sent to me by my wife so I cannot link. But I can still type:

The star of a US TV political comedy says she has been left “dumbstruck” that Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has adopted one of its “meaningless” slogans.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays a US vice-president in Veep, made the remarks on her twitter account about Mr. Turnbull’s adoption of the line “continuity and change”.

The writer of the HBO series, Simon Blackwell, accused the Prime Minister of copying the slogan.

“In season four we came up with the most meaningless election slogan we could think of. Now adopted by Australian PM, Blackwell tweeted in astonishment.

This seems totally unfair. Malcolm is more than capable of coming up with the most meaningless election slogans all on his own. After the next election, he can take up a new post as a comedy writer in Hollywood. But I have to admit that I find this fits perfectly into my own image of the depth and breadth the PM has shown in everything else he has done.

Why only Number 3?

I am going to have to stop reading The AFR while trying to eat my lunch if they keep coming up with articles like this: PM Malcolm Turnbull comes in No. 3 on President Barack Obama’s best-friends list. I can see why they might have an affinity for each other. What gets me is why Obama’s high approval is not the kiss of death for Malcolm.

President Obama may be in Havana but Malcolm Turnbull can relax knowing he’s one of the top three world leaders on the president’s besties list.

The Atlantic magazine writes that the man in the White House “has intense relationships with many world leaders – and he has become, in his last years as president, a mentor to a handful of important new ones”.

The magazine put world leaders “on a continuum reflecting the state of their relations with Obama”, and Turnbull, who’s only been in the job six months, places quite well coming in third after Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It is clear that Obama can spot a kindred spirit, another empty-headed narcissist lacking any ideas other than the cookie-cutter inanities of the left. Global warming – check. Open borders – check. Runaway public spending – check.

But the part about Obama’s comments on Malcolm that I found most noteworthy is that I only saw them mentioned once and then only in a small article on page 7 of The AFR. It can only mean that even for the ABC, an endorsement from Obama brings no political momentum whatsoever. This might help you understand why that could be:

Just outside the top 10 are more controversial choices, including Cuban dictator Raul Castro at No. 11, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who placed twelfth, and at No. 13, Nicaragua’s “tiresome Marxist ideologue” and president Daniel Ortega.

You really do have to ask why Obama’s views have not wrecked the Democrat brand? Anyway, Obama will be gone in a year. Yay!

UPDATE – THE MOST DEPRAVED POLITICAL LEADER EVER ELECTED IN THE WEST: That year cannot pass soon enough. This is from an article titled, For Obama, Muted Reaction to Brussels Attacks Is by Design, with the non-reaction having occurred while he was in Cuba visiting a country that has been a one-man dictatorship since 1959!

In the aftermath of a deadly terror attack that stirred Americans’ concerns about the potential for threats to the U.S., President Barack Obama pressed ahead with his tour of Latin America, including a planned family excursion in Patagonia.

Mr. Obama’s public appearance of nonchalance has drawn criticism from Republicans that he is detached from Americans’ fears and isn’t sufficiently countering violent extremism. But his approach partly reflects his belief that overreacting to a terrorist attack—however horrific—elevates extremist groups like Islamic State in a way that exaggerates their influence, his aides have said.

Also driving Mr. Obama is his view that the threat of terrorism in Americans’ daily lives often is overstated, and that the focus on it could become self-paralyzing and an excuse to adopt misguided policies. His aides often note that many more Americans are killed by gun violence than terrorist attacks, for instance.

Mr. Obama, asked about the Islamic State threat Wednesday at a news conference in Buenos Aires with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, urged Americans not to give terrorist groups the power “to strike fear in our societies.”

“Even as we are systematic and ruthless and focused in going after them, disrupting their networks, getting their leaders, rolling up their operations, it is very important for us to not respond with fear,” he said. “We send a message to those that might be inspired by them to say, you are not going to change our values of liberty, and openness, and the respect of all people.”

If you voted for Obama, or supported him either in 2008 or 2012, your right to comment on the 2016 election is hereby rescinded.

Henry Clay, economist

Adapted from Henry Clay’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Jewkes and Jewkes: 2004) for an article I have written on Clay’s incomparable introductory text, Economics: an Introduction for the General Reader, which I have described as the best introductory text ever written. Only those sections related to his work as an economist have been included. The text while truncated is exactly as found. It is the Clay whom I well know from his text, and it is interesting to find that, given how similar we are, I may be properly categorised as a Gladstonian Liberal. Strangely, that very much makes me a conservative in modern times.

Clay, Sir Henry (1883–1954), economist, was born on 9 May 1883. He went as a scholar to University College, Oxford, [graduating] in 1902. Between 1909 and 1917 he lectured for the Workers’ Educational Association under the university extension scheme, an experience that led to the writing of Economics: an Introduction for the General Reader (1916; 2nd edn, 1942). The book had great success, especially in Great Britain and the United States, and, by reason of its clarity and real-world examples, broadened public interest in economic matters.

In 1922 Clay became the Stanley Jevons professor of political economy at Manchester. In 1927 Clay asked to exchange his chair for the new professorship of social economics. He perceived that applied economics could be strengthened by closer regular contacts between economists and business people.

Clay was not a foremost economic theorist. Indeed, he often expressed doubts about the value of much of the theorizing then in fashion. As he told Edwin Cannan, another leading economist who shared his structural diagnosis of Britain’s industrial problems, he always felt that as a Professor of Economics I was a fraud … My reading of English economics has been scrappy … I don’t know enough mathematics to follow our Cambridge friends, however suspicious I may be of their results; and I cannot suppress my interest in current political and social questions sufficiently to stick to any one part of the field of economics and so do some serious work on it.

In 1930 Clay resigned his chair to join the Bank of England. Clay’s shrewd advice and his knack of getting on with people, especially with Montagu Norman, led to his appointment in 1933 [at the very trough of the Great Depression] as economic adviser to the governor of the Bank of England. Clay and Norman shared the opinion that, necessary as was a proper budgetary and monetary framework, financial ingenuity by governments in the form of large-scale loan-financed public works did not offer a long-term solution to the problems of British industry. They believed that the solution lay more on the supply side, where widespread inefficiencies in the use of capital and labour resulted in high costs and low productivity, problems that were being addressed by the bank in its promotion of industrial rationalization.

Clay’s writings from his first and famous book in 1916 to the papers unfinished at his death show the main lines of his thinking unbroken. He was in many ways a Gladstonian Liberal, believing that private enterprise was the most efficient form of organizing production, that the liberty of the individual would be endangered by the continued growth of government, and that Britain should maintain its historic internationalism in its economic policies. His views diverged from the main stream of contemporary Liberal economic thought in at least two ways: in his doubts about the practical results of the Keynesian solution to unemployment or more especially of the views of some of Keynes’s disciples; secondly, concerning industrial monopoly. Clay was not prepared to agree that a competitive system would inevitably degenerate into monopoly unless safeguarded by the state: anti-monopoly legislation in his view was unnecessary, inexpedient, and inequitable.

Although in later years he became something of a man of affairs, he retained the habits and enthusiasms of the scholar; nor might he be mistaken for anything else. He could never resist a second-hand bookshelf and he collected a large library, which included many bargains.

Do you think that just maybe he’s on to something?

This was published on January 27 in The New York Times: Donald Trump Finds New City to Insult: Brussels. It opens:

He incensed Paris and London by saying that some of their neighborhoods were so overrun with radicals that the police were too scared to enter.

He raised Scottish tempers by threatening to pull the plug on his investments there, including his luxury golf courses, if British politicians barred him from entering Britain.

Now Donald J. Trump has upset the already beleaguered people of Belgium, calling its capital, Brussels, “a hellhole.”

Asked by the Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo about the feasibility of his proposal to bar foreign Muslims from entering the United States, Mr. Trump argued that Belgium and France had been blighted by the failure of Muslims in these countries to integrate.

“There is something going on, Maria,” he said. “Go to Brussels. Go to Paris. Go to different places. There is something going on and it’s not good, where they want Shariah law, where they want this, where they want things that — you know, there has to be some assimilation. There is no assimilation. There is something bad going on.”

Warming to his theme, he added that Brussels was in a particularly dire state. “You go to Brussels — I was in Brussels a long time ago, 20 years ago, so beautiful, everything is so beautiful — it’s like living in a hellhole right now,” Mr. Trump continued.

Feel free to go to the link and continue from there.

[From SmallDeadAnimals]

What now?

brussels terrorists

We all know the news:

EXPLOSIONS ROCK BRUSSELS AIRPORT, SUBWAY…
‘Allahu Akbar’…
RAIDS UNDERWAY ACROSS BELGIUM…
‘Shocking’ Unpreparedness…
INTERIOR MINISTER: ‘Never could have imagined something of this scale’…
Brussels Ran Ad Mocking Notion of Islamic Violence 2 Months Ago…
FLASHBACK: ISIS Says Paris ‘Start of Storm’…
MAG: Islamic State Overwhelming European Counterterrorism Forces…
Geert Wilders: ‘We Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet’…
Belgium beefs up security at nuke plants…
Aftermath footage shows terrified travelers cowering behind suitcases…
Europe vows to defend democracy on ‘black day’…
American missionaries, military family among wounded…
Attack narrowly missed two visiting U.S. Senators…
Attacks Fuel Debate Over Migrants in Fractured Europe…

The real questions are, what do they want and what do we do?

AND THE VIEWS OF DONALD TRUMP: From Piers Morgan and in The Daily Mail: When it comes to terror, isn’t it time we started listening seriously to Trump?

Trump told me countries must tighten their borders in light of these terror attacks, especially to anyone related to an ISIS fighter in Syria.

Is he so wrong?

He told me he wants law-abiding Muslims to root out the extremists in their midst, expressing his bafflement and anger that someone like Abdeslam was able to hide for so long in the very part of Brussels he had previously lived.

Is he so wrong?

He told me America must make it far harder for illegal immigrants to enter the U.S. and thinks European countries should follow suit.

Is he so wrong?

He told me he believes there are now areas of many major European cities which have become poisonous breeding grounds for radicalized Islamic terror.

Is he so wrong?

Or we could just stand still and do nothing.