News, Fake News, Very Fake News: A Primer

News, Fake News, Very Fake News: A Primer, by Roger Kimball. Gotcha:

A couple weeks back …I was at a swank New York club for an evening event. The establishment in question is overwhelmingly conventional, i.e., leftish in that smug “We’re-all-beautiful-people-who-are-you?” sort of way that publications like The New Yorker and the New York Times, along with such media outlets as CNN and MSNBC, exude like the cloying aroma of paperwhites.

I ran into an acquaintance, a female journalist I hadn’t seen in years. I knew that her politics were echt conventional in the above sense, but I had also found her an amusing and lively person. We were chatting with a couple of other people about this and that when someone she knew from the Times joined in. I then overheard him explain to her that she had to be careful about what she posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc., because anything too explicitly anti-Trump could be used against her when that glorious day came and “they” — the conventional fraternity of groupthink scribblers — finally took down that horrible, despicable man.

“We’ve got dozens of people working on it all the time,” he explained, adding that it was only a matter of time before they got the goods on Trump and destroyed him.

There in a nutshell, I thought, is the existential imperative that has been so gloriously productive of fake news and its exacerbated allotrope, first delineated by Donald Trump in his famous media-bashing presser on February 16, “very fake news.”

News versus fake news:

News is the reporting of facts. Someone says “this happened on such-and-such a day in such-and-such a way,” and independent, publicly available sources confirm that, yes, what was alleged happened at just that time and in just that fashion.

Fake news insinuates a skein of innuendo and a boatload of shared presumption floating on an ocean of fantastic desire into the mix. Repetition … whips this unstable congeries into an intoxicating frenzy:

“Trump’s transition is in chaos, pass it on.”

“Trump is a puppet of Putin, pass it on.”

“Trump is Steve Bannon’s puppet, pass it on.”

“Trump, like Steve Bannon, is a white supremacist/racist/homophobic/woman-hating xenophobe, really pass that one along.”

Every one of these fantasies is not only untrue, but ostentatiously, extravagantly untrue. Liberals of sound mind understand this.

Trump’s first 30 days: what they aren’t telling you.

In fact, Donald Trump’s first 30-odd days have been extraordinarily successful. That’s the news. In fact, Donald Trump’s first 30-odd days have been extraordinarily successful. That’s the news. …

To date Trump has been even more successful than was Reagan in beginning to fulfill his campaign promises. All of his cabinet nominees have been confirmed … He has moved quickly to get the ball rolling on tax cuts, repealing Obamacare, strengthening the military, enforcing the country’s immigration laws, and cutting the jungle of business-sapping regulation down to size. He has, as Allen observes, “already taken steps … to fulfill at least a dozen of his campaign promises.”

But listen to the New York Times or any of the other conventional “news” sources, and you would think Trump is a malevolent and incompetent monster who, despite his supreme incompetence, is somehow tipping the country into moral Armageddon. …

Here’s one bit of news: the stock market has risen by nearly 3000 points since Trump’s election.

Here’s another bit of news: while Trump’s personal popularity remains low for a new president, the mood of the country as a whole has exploded with optimism, whereas towards the end of Barack Obama’s reign, 70% of those polled said that the country was moving in the wrong direction.

The media are the opposition party, and their monopoly is fading as the Internet grows:

Steve Bannon was right to brand the media the “opposition party.”

To an extent marvelous to behold, it has become a factory for the production of fake and very fake news: not just the dissemination of lies, half-truths, and unsubstantiated fantasies, but also the perpetuation of that echo-chamber in which political paranoia feeds upon the bitter lees of its impotent irrelevance.

As Donald Trump Heads to Congress, a New Polarization Is Hardening

As Donald Trump Heads to Congress, a New Polarization Is Hardening, by Gerald Seib.

Just over a month into his term, Mr. Trump stands as an exceptionally polarizing figure. He inspires intense support among his admirers and equally intense animosity among his detractors, with remarkably few Americans standing in the middle without a strong view.  Everybody appears to have an opinion about Donald Trump, and those opinions already appear locked in. …

He is well on his way to remaking the composition of the two political parties. Out in the country, if not necessarily in Washington, it appears that Republicanism is increasingly defined as support for Mr. Trump, while being a Democrat is being defined as opposing Mr. Trump. …

Almost 9 in 10 self-identified Republicans, and just over 9 in 10 Trump voters, say they approve of the job the president is doing, while almost 9 in 10 Democrats, and just over 9 in 10 Hillary Clinton voters, say they disapprove of his job performance. Usually, at such an early stage in a presidency, a fair number of Americans say they just aren’t sure yet what they think of the job their new president is doing. Yet now, just 8% say they aren’t sure whether they approve or disapprove of the job Mr. Trump is doing.

Bipartisanship on nearly any issue is not possible, because of the animosity stirred up by the media:

If Mr. Trump could find some common ground with Democrats … But it isn’t clear that Democrats, whose grass-roots supporters now demand wall-to-wall opposition to all things Trump, are even interested. Their animosity toward the man, and toward his appointees in areas such as the environment and education, seem to be blocking potential common ground elsewhere.

The bottom line is this: Political polarization helped produce the voter anger that in turn produced President Trump.

Trump has done what journalists should have done: boycotted the White House Correspondents’ dinner

Trump has done what journalists should have done: boycotted the White House Correspondents’ dinner, by Stephen Daisley.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which hosts the annual gala, represents the journalists who cover the President day-to-day and awards scholarships to young reporters.

The dinner usually involves two skits: one by the President, who gently mocks the press and himself, and another by a broadly sympathetic comedian who ribs the Commander-in-Chief more or less respectfully while saving their most brutal jibes for his opponents.

This year, the laughter will be shallower still. Donald Trump has tweeted that he won’t be coming …

Celebrities had announced boycotts and Samantha Bee, a late-night comedian of the Trump-Hitler-applause variety, is even throwing a competing bash for opponents of the President. America doesn’t just have alternative facts, now it has alternative soirées. …

The event might seem innocuous enough; professional rivalries set aside for overcooked fish and undercooked jokes. However, it is this very clubbability, this did-Finn-get-into-Princeton cosiness that has drained the DC swamp of all public trust and confidence.

Seeing them up there, guffawing at wan presidential punchlines and opaque insider gags, knocking back the Bolly while a Hollywood turn cracks open vintage snidery about Christians, gun-owners and the flyover states — it’s enough to make anyone want to leap head-first into the basket of deplorables.

When you become friendly with politicians you start to convince yourself they’re human beings, and nothing good comes of that. …

Journalism in Britain remains a trade rather than a profession, despite the best efforts of universities with pound signs in their eyes. And yet it is our approach, sneering and scoundrel-ridden, that does a better job of holding the powerful to account. The cynical idealists of the US press corps, rebellious foot soldiers of the First Amendment, solemnly rise when the President enters the room. This, they insist, is out of respect for the office and the republican ideal. Try suggesting Westminster’s jaded hacks stand in the presence of Theresa May and you’d be laughed out the room. British journalists set out to be bulldogs and almost incidentally function as guard dogs. American journalists set out to be guard dogs and too often end up as lap dogs.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Trump to propose 10 percent spike in defense spending, major cuts to other agencies

Trump to propose 10 percent spike in defense spending, major cuts to other agencies, by Abby Phillip.

President Trump will propose a federal budget that would significantly increase defense-related spending by $54 billion [10%] while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, an administration official said. …

But without providing specifics, the administration said that most other discretionary spending programs would be cut to pay for it. Officials singled out foreign aid, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, saying it would face “large reductions” in spending. …

In a statement at the White House on Monday morning, Trump said that his budget would put “America first” by focusing on defense, law enforcement and veterans using money previously spent abroad. …

The vast majority of federal spending comes from programs Trump can’t touch with his budget. Social Security costs totaled about $910 billion last year, and Medicare outpaced defense spending with a total cost of $588 billion. Medicaid, interest payments on debt and miscellaneous costs made up an additional $1.2 trillion. …

Trump noted that the country faces an urgent infrastructure problem, which he promised during the campaign that he would address with a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan. Although the administration has not yet outlined whether infrastructure will be part of Trump’s budget proposal, the president spoke about it at length … on Monday. …

“We spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, and we have potholes all over our highways and our roads.”

Cory Bernardi invites Tony Abbott to join Australian Conservatives

Cory Bernardi invites Tony Abbott to join Australian Conservatives, by Katherine Murphy.

Cory Bernardi has publicly invited Tony Abbott to join his new Australian Conservatives movement after the former prime minister’s incendiary speech last Thursday in which he laid out a conservative manifesto for the next federal election.

Bernardi told Andrew Bolt on Monday night Abbott would be very welcome to join his new breakaway political movement given last week’s policy manifesto from Abbott lined up precisely with his own views about the policies required to appeal to disaffected Australian conservative voters. …

Bernardi said the Liberal party was being very foolish to rule out Abbott’s “good ideas.”

“I was watching [Tony Abbott] last week and I was talking to the TV saying, ‘Where were you all those years ago Tony?’ because those ideas are absolutely spot on,” Bernardi said on Monday night.

Bernardi said conservatives needed to campaign on a platform of cutting power prices, “trimming” immigration and cutting government spending – and, if the government resisted, “what hope is there for the Liberal party?”

We find ourselves occasionally talking to the tv, but only news and current affairs shows.

Today’s Australian housing crisis is worse than the 17pc home loans of the 1980s

Today’s Australian housing crisis is worse than the 17pc home loans of the 1980s, by Caitlan Fitzsimmons.

The advertised rate for home loans hit 17 per cent in June 1989 and stayed there until March 1990, according to Reserve Bank records. It’s also true they were in the double digits for most of the 1980s. …

When interest rates were 17 per cent, the proportion of household disposable income that went on the interest payments for the home loan was 6.1 per cent. It’s currently 6.8 per cent. …

Who has it worse?

I don’t doubt [the high interest rate period of the 80s and early 90s] was painful for anyone paying a mortgage at the time.

I don’t know what it’s like to wake up every few months and find interest rates have been hiked again. I don’t know what it’s like to take a second job just to keep a roof over my head.

I do know what it’s like to wake up every few months and find that prices have gone up by another $20,000. I know what it’s like to spend months going to auctions and be constantly pipped to the post by Baby Boomers adding to their investment portfolio. Like many housing “haves” of my generation and younger, we finally succeeded only because of help from family, and I am truly grateful. …

Those high interest rates of the 1980s preceded the great housing bubble, so survivors got rich:

If you managed to survive the 17 per cent interest era of the late 1980s, then by definition you were already a home owner by the time the 1990s housing boom rolled around. …

Virtuous, or lucky?

Baby Boomers, or indeed anyone who bought a home before 1990, have mostly benefited from being in the right place at the right time.

Research shows successful people tend to underrate the importance of luck in their success. Some beneficiaries of the housing boom think they deserve it, that it’s the just reward for their hard work and thrift. In reality it’s a windfall gain.

Interesting how the article’s author never pondered why interest rates were 17pc in the past — could that happen again? This is a topic the media never question— where does money come from, and why are interest rates set (at the short-term end) by a bunch of bureaucrats?

hat-tip Matthew

Indians around the world are realizing the harsh reality of Trump’s “America First” policies

Indians around the world are realizing the harsh reality of Trump’s “America First” policies, by Ananya Bhattacharya.

On Thursday, a Kansas man open fired at a bar in the city of Olathe, killing 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injuring his colleague, 32-year-old Alok Madasani. Both men were Indian immigrants who work in GPS-maker Garmin’s aviation department. The gunman also wounded a local American Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to intervene when the man started shooting.

Garmin has a customer service center a mile from the scene of the shooting at Austins Bar and Grill—a joint the two men reportedly frequented.

Five hours after the incident, 51-year-old Adam Purinton was arrested at an Applebee’s and charged with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder in Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney Stephen Howe said.

While fleeing, Purinton allegedly told an Applebee’s employee that he needed a place to hide because he had killed two Middle Eastern men, the Kansas City Star reported. A bystander at the crime scene recounted the gunman yelling “get out of my country” before attacking the Indian men.

Though violence and hateful rhetoric has escalated since Trump’s inauguration, many Indians—in America and abroad—interpreted the US president’s calls to clamp down on Muslim migrants as support for their Hindu-majority country. The loyalists applauded Trump’s separatist politics in tackling terrorism. …

In the weeks after the election, Muslims living in America encountered racist graffiti, threatening fliers, and physical attacks; anti-semitic attacks have risen too. When Trump banned people from several Muslim-majority countries, his supporters backed him—even those who themselves are immigrants. However, the brutal shooting shows that bigots don’t seek out differences in religion or nationality—for many, color is excuse enough for discrimination.

Blaming it on Trump seems a tad harsh, but in the current media climate of Trump-hating everything will be blamed on Trump.

The world’s freest economy is slashing its already-low taxes after a $12 billion surplus surprise

The world’s freest economy is slashing its already-low taxes after a $12 billion surplus surprise, by Zheping Huang.

Thanks to its low and simple taxation, Hong Kong has topped the Heritage Foundation’s rankings of the world’s freest economies for 23 years in a row. An announcement made yesterday will do nothing to hurt its position.

cuba vs hong kong

According to forecasts from its finance ministry, Hong Kong will post a surplus of HK$92.8 billion (US$12 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31. …

Finance secretary Paul Chan cited a “period of hectic trading in the property market.” He noted the vast majority of the surplus will come from the “far higher-than-expected” land revenue and stamp duties on property …

Hong Kong has only three direct taxes in place, and a host of generous deductions. Its income tax, which applies only to salaries, is capped at 15%, compared to 45% in the UK.

hat-tip Matthew

Latino US Journalist Jorge Ramos: America Is ‘Our Country, Not Theirs’—‘And We Are Not Going to Leave’

Latino US Journalist Jorge Ramos: America Is ‘Our Country, Not Theirs’—‘And We Are Not Going to Leave’. By Katie McHugh.

Univision senior anchor Jorge Ramos declared on Friday that the United States belongs to Latino migrants, emphatically stating to a Spanish-speaking audience that “it is our country, not theirs.”

Ramos took an unusual tack, pivoting from talk of diversity and togetherness into boasts of conquest. Mass immigration, particularly illegal immigration, was a fait accompli. There is nothing the U.S. can do about it, and they must accept that America is “not their” country and that illegal aliens, particularly Latinos, “are not going to leave,” he said.  …

Ramos, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, frequently portrays American law as unjust and prejudiced and supports open borders.

Sounds “racist”, but the left encourages this sort of identity group racism so long as it isn’t from whites, so you won’t hear any complaints in the media.

And Ramos’ views are not fringe ones in Mexico: A 2013 poll found that 66 percent of Mexicans believe the U.S. government has no right to limit immigration, while 52 percent said Mexicans have a right to be in the United States. Another 88 percent said it is fine to enter the U.S. illegally if one needs money. Over half, 56 percent, said they had friends or family who tried to immigrate to the U.S. illegally.

The situation is not, to use the left’s favorite word, sustainable.

Ramos is one of the leaders of the “Make America Mexico Again” movement. Trump kicked him out of a news conference a few months ago.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific

Australia: Political harmony lies in serving needs of voters and nation

Australia: Political harmony lies in serving needs of voters and nation, by Gary Johns, who was a minister in the Keating Labor government, when Labor reflected the values of old Labor — before moving to the new left’s identity politics and electoral coalition of the fringes.

One Nation is not a revolt of the toothless, tattooed and white: the “deplorables”. This is bigger than class.

Roberts says many of the party’s supporters are “sick of the Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra axis”. But this is bigger than geography.

Roberts also says: “Tradies are big supporters.” And this is bigger than a private enterprise mindset.

Antony Green, the ABC’s election analyst, says: “There’s an underlying issue of … values that is not related to class. One Nation support taps into that divide.”

Roberts believes that he knows what those values are: “A moral compass and a strong work ethic.”

This is closer to the mark than class and geography and the employment contract. It shouts — old Labor and conservative Liberal/Nationals — conservative values.

In net terms, One Nation is picking up well-educated conservatives in Liberal seats, less well-educated Liberals and Labor voters in Labor seats, and all three in Nationals seats. …

Catherine Hanrahan’s (ABC) analysis suggests that the One Nation vote is higher in areas with more Australian-born voters, higher in disadvantaged suburbs, higher in areas where fewer voters are tertiary-educated, with a weak negative correlation between the number of votes for One Nation and the local Muslim population.

Greens and Muslims:

Nevertheless, some Muslims are clear about One Nation; seven Perth-based imams are instructing their flock to vote Green in the Legislative Council at the WA election next month. The Greens are running a Muslim convert, Toni Pikos-Sallie, who “fears bigotry” from Hansonites.

Strewth, a Muslim Green calling someone a bigot. But I digress.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Blowout in racial hatred cases in Australia

Blowout in racial hatred cases in Australia, by Dennis Shanahan.

The number of [racial hatred] cases lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission has leapt from 18 in the 12 months to last March to 71 in the past year, ­including nine “white males” claiming to have been racially discriminated against.

The most claims, where the commission identified the complainants’ race, are from Aborigines and Indians, as it was last year, but almost 15 per cent are white males and there are complaints from people who identify themselves as Chinese, Maori, Persian, Scottish, Pakistani, Jewish, Arab, Turkish and one who had a “dark complexion”. …

IPA policy director Simon ­Breheny last night said he believed the rise in complaints was a result of “incessant solicitation” of complaints by Human Rights Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane. …

18C might get changed:

The parliamentary committee is expected today to urge the Turnbull government to scrap the grounds of “insult and offence” under 18C or replace it with the tougher test of “vilify” or “harass”.

Coalition MPs, urged by Tony Abbott, have built support for an overhaul of 18C in response to the public debate over the prosecutions of three Queensland University of Technology students and The Australian cartoonist Bill Leak.

[IPA policy director Simon ­Breheny said] “A large number of submissions to the inquiry favouring no change to section 18C are from government agencies or taxpayer-funded groups. The position of these groups is completely out of step with the public — polling clearly shows Australians overwhelmingly favour change.

This is a sock-puppet arrangement where government departments give money to organis­ations to advance the anti-change argument.”

The IPA estimated 13 government agencies, 42 government-funded groups and six umbrella organisations covering government anti-discrimination commissions all made submissions against change.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Just over half of Americans think the media’s coverage of President Donald Trump has been too critical

Just over half of Americans think the media’s coverage of President Donald Trump has been too critical, by Jason Bellini.

While 51 per cent rate the media as too critical of Mr Trump since the presidential election, 41 per cent say the coverage has been fair and objective, while 6 per cent say the media hasn’t been critical enough. …

A majority of those polled, some 53 per cent, also believes that the news media have exaggerated problems in the Trump administration. Some 45 per cent say that is not the case.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

President Trump: Oscars ‘Were Focused so Hard on Politics’ They Could Not Get the Basics of the Ceremony Right

President Trump: Oscars ‘Were Focused so Hard on Politics’ They Could Not Get the Basics of the Ceremony Right, by Matthew Boyle.

At the Oscars on Sunday evening, the Academy Award for Best Picture was read out by presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as being for La La Land—not the actual winner, Moonlight. The flub—already being dubbed the worst in the Academy Awards’ history—has forced accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to apologize after overseeing the ballot-counting process for 83 years. …

The awful mistake came after hours of Trump-bashing by the Hollywood elites, who hammered the president in joke after joke. Now, the president has got the last laugh as he hammers Hollywood for its epic fail.

Another show case for journalists and celebrities love prancing about under spotlights and patting themselves on the back in public: “adopt our views or you’re a loser.”

Do we see televised prizes, in special programs, for the mining industry? Or farming?  Why not? We badly need an alternative to today’s mainstream media.

Oscar ratings hit 9-year low.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Iran’s Supreme Leader: ‘Real War’ with West Is ‘Culture War’ on TV, Internet

Iran’s Supreme Leader: ‘Real War’ with West Is ‘Culture War’ on TV, Internet, by Penny Starr.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said that a war on Iran’s culture and economy is more dangerous to his Islamic regime than any military threat from the West. …

“The real war is an economic war, the real war is the war of sanctions, the real war is the arenas of work, activity, and technology inside the country,” Khamenei said. “This is the real war!”

“They draw our attention to a military war so that we ignore this war,” Khamenei said. “The real war is a cultural war.

“There are so many television and internet networks which are busy diverting the hearts and minds of our youth away from religion, our sacred beliefs, morality, modesty and the like,” Khamenei said.

Culture is upstream of politics. It motivates people.

Hungary’s Orbán: EU ‘Still Making Excuses for Crimes of Communism’

Hungary’s Orbán: EU ‘Still Making Excuses for Crimes of Communism’, by Jack Montgomery.

“Many in the West today are still making excuses for the crimes of communism; even the European Union itself is reluctant to unequivocally condemn them,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said. …

The populist leader noted the left wing ideology “emerged in the 20th century as an intellectual product of the West [but] in the end it was we Central Europeans who were forced to live under this originally Western idea”.

Orbán underlined that, in the West, communism remained nothing more than a theory, providing “tingling intellectual excitement [for] meddlesome global utopians” such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, prominent figures in Fabian socialism accused of acting as apologists for the Soviet Union.

He recalled how “many members of the Western intelligentsia, artists, writers and politicians – self-proclaimed ‘progressives’ – praised the genocidal communist dictatorship”.

It is difficult to believe that it was not obvious to them that those whom the Soviets regarded as class enemies – or as dangerous for any other reason – were being deported to slave labour camps.” …

The number of people killed by communist regimes in the 20th century is estimated at 94 million. Surviving communist regimes such as China and North Korea continue to be noted for their use of censorship, political repression, and arbitrary detention – often in Soviet-style labour camps – to quash dissent.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

What Does Steve Bannon Want?

What Does Steve Bannon Want? by Christopher Caldwell.

President Trump presents a problem to those who look at politics in terms of systematic ideologies. He is either disinclined or unable to lay out his agenda in that way. So perhaps it was inevitable that Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who does have a gift for thinking systematically, would be so often invoked by Mr. Trump’s opponents. …

steve_bannon_2017

Mr. Bannon, 63, has won a reputation for abrasive brilliance at almost every stop in his unorthodox career — as a naval officer, Goldman Sachs mergers specialist, entertainment-industry financier, documentary screenwriter and director, Breitbart News cyber-agitprop impresario and chief executive of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. One Harvard Business School classmate described him to The Boston Globe as “top three in intellectual horsepower in our class — perhaps the smartest.” Benjamin Harnwell of the Institute for Human Dignity, a Catholic organization in Rome, calls him a “walking bibliography.”

Perhaps because Mr. Bannon came late to conservatism, turning his full-time energy to political matters only after the Sept. 11 attacks, he radiates an excitement about it that most of his conservative contemporaries long ago lost. …

A nation of people, not ideas:

Where Mr. Bannon does veer sharply from recent mainstream Republicanism is in his all-embracing nationalism. He speaks of sovereignty, economic nationalism, opposition to globalization and finding common ground with Brexit supporters and other groups hostile to the transnational European Union. On Thursday, at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, he described the “center core” of Trump administration philosophy as the belief that the United States is more than an economic unit in a borderless world. It is “a nation with a culture” and “a reason for being.” …

Banking creates problems:

“Think about it,” he said in a talk hosted by the Institute for Human Dignity. “Not one criminal charge has ever been brought to any bank executive associated with 2008 crisis.” He warned against “the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism,” by which he meant “a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people.” Capitalism, he said, ought to rest on a “Judeo-Christian” foundation.

Steering Republicans away from focusing on profits, towards people and values:

It was Pat Buchanan who in his 1992 run for president first called on Republicans to value jobs and communities over profits. An argument consumed the party over whether this was a better-rounded vision of society or just the grousing of a reactionary. After a generation, Mr. Buchanan has won that argument. By 2016 his views on trade and migration, once dismissed as crackpot, were spreading so fast that everyone in the party had embraced them — except its elected officials and its establishment presidential candidates.

Not Islam:

Mr. Bannon does not often go into detail about what Judeo-Christian culture is, but he knows one thing it is not: Islam. Like most Americans, he believes that Islamism — the extremist political movement — is a dangerous adversary. More controversially he holds that, since this political movement is generated within the sphere of Islam, the growth of Islam — the religion — is itself a problem with which American authorities should occupy themselves. This is a view that was emphatically repudiated by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

SpaceX to Fly Passengers On Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018

SpaceX to Fly Passengers On Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018, by Calla Cofield.

SpaceX will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018, the company’s founder Elon Musk announced Monday (Feb. 27).

The private spaceflight company will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the two paying passengers into space aboard one of the company’s Dragon spacecraft. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, approached SpaceX about taking a trip around the moon, and have “already paid a significant deposit” for the cost of the mission, according to a statement from the company. The names of the two individuals will be announced later, pending the result of initial health tests to ensure their fitness for the mission, the statement said.

The two passengers will be the only people on board what is expected to be about a weeklong trip around the moon, according to Musk, who spoke with reporters during a phone conference today.

“This would be a long loop around the moon … It would skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit further out into deep space and then loop back to Earth,” Musk said during the teleconference. “So I’m guessing, distance-wise, maybe [300,000] or 400,000 miles [about 500,000 to 650,000 kilometers].” …

The crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft will operate, in large part, autonomously, so the passengers would have to train for emergency procedures but would not be in charge of piloting the spacecraft, Musk said. The crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft will operate, in large part, autonomously, so the passengers would have to train for emergency procedures but would not be in charge of piloting the spacecraft, Musk said.

‘The contemporary US belongs to all nations’: Former Iranian president targets Trump’s travel ban and says the American political system is ‘corrupt’ in open letter to the president

‘The contemporary US belongs to all nations’: Former Iranian president targets Trump’s travel ban and says the American political system is ‘corrupt’ in open letter to the president, by the Daily Mail.

Iran’s former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter Sunday to President Donald Trump, striking a somewhat conciliatory tone while applauding immigration to America and saying it shows ‘the contemporary U.S. belongs to all nations.’ …

mahmoud_ahmadinejad

In the letter, published by Iranian media outlets, Ahmadinejad noted Trump won the election while he ‘truthfully described the U.S. political system and electoral structure as corrupt.’

Ahmadinejad decried U.S. ‘dominance’ over the United Nations, as well as American meddling in the world that has brought ‘insecurity, war, division, killing and (the) displacement of nations.’

He also acknowledged the some 1 million people of Iranian descent living in America, saying that U.S. policies should ‘value respect toward the diversity of nations and races.’

‘In other words, the contemporary U.S. belongs to all nations, including the natives of the land,’ he wrote.

‘No one may consider themselves the owner and view others as guests or immigrants.’

As Steve Sailer points out, in PC world “non-Americans” are just Americans who haven’t moved to America yet.

The IQ of Politics

The IQ of Politics, by Tucker Carlson.

The country has reached a point where the elite consensus on any given issue should be reflexively distrusted.

Look, it’s really simple. The SAT 50 years ago pulled a lot of smart people out of every little town in America and funneled them into a small number of elite institutions, where they married each other, had kids, and moved to an even smaller number of elite neighborhoods. We created the most effective meritocracy ever.

But the problem with the meritocracy, is that it leeches all the empathy out of your society … The second you think that all your good fortune is a product of your virtue, you become highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid — I mean all the stuff that our ruling class is. …

Intelligence is not a moral category. That’s what I find a lot of people in my life assume. It’s not. God doesn’t care how smart you are, actually. …

Putting smart people in charge of things is fine, but what you really want is wise people. The beginning of wisdom is to know what an asshole you are. …

Carlson gets annoyed by elitist PC. This is his worst interview, the one he regrets most, where he got infuriated with the liberal writer Lauren Duca and got mean:

How did she infuriate him so?

It was the unreasonableness … It’s this assumption — and it’s held by a lot of people I live around [in an upscale Washington neighborhood] — that you’re on God’s side, everyone else is an infidel, and by calling them names you’re doing the Lord’s work. I just don’t think that’s admirable, and I’m not impressed by that.

Australia: Bogan call bites Aly

Australia: Bogan call bites Aly, by Stephen Brook.

Waleed Aly is a talented figure who can write geopolitical think pieces for Fairfax papers and mix it with the kids on Channel Ten’s The Project. But he is also a polarising one: you either love him or hate him. …

waleed_aly

Aly recently found himself uncharacteristically on the receiving end of an unfavourable social media storm when he made an off joke during The Project that ­managed to besmirch bogans and administration workers. One typically intemperate and unfair attack on Facebook read: “The word bogan is really just dog whistle for working-class Anglo Saxons. It’s used by smug hipsters and genuine racists like Waleed. Waleed Aly you are a racist scumbag!

But not by a bogan!

The post was made by one David Kozgrev, who just happens to be David Cosgrove, son of our Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (retd). Talk about making life uncomfortable for the G-G. Says a spokesman from Government House: “The Governor-General is currently overseas and does not know whether any such post was made by one of his family. He hopes not.”

CEO pay — it’s not like they’re sports stars

CEO pay — it’s not like they’re sports stars, by Adam Creighton.

I’m hereby offering my services to be the next CEO of Australia Post for less than $560,000 year, including bonus, a mere 10 per cent of the remuneration of outgoing chief Ahmed Fahour. I’m hard working, organised, and reasonably bright. And I’d be fully across global postage and parcel trends before I started. Taxpayers would save more than $5 million a year.

Naturally, I don’t have a chance. The so-called market for chief executives of public (and state-owned) companies functions like a cartel, where suppliers, the managers themselves, exert huge power over the sale price.

Who could blame Fahour for accepting his outlandish pay? He’s only human. The problem is the system, not individuals, and a populist cut in the next Australia Post chief’s pay will do nothing to fix it.

We all enjoy a bit of economic rent in our lives — what economists call the excess of what we are paid over what we need to be paid to keep doing our job. But the world’s managerial class has gorged on it since the 1980s.

In Australia the pay of the top ASX200 companies has increased from less than 20 to more than 50 times average earnings, or more than $3 million, in 2015. In the US, average CEO pay, adjusted for ­inflation, has increased from about $US807,000 a year in 1965 to just under $US15 million a year in 2012. Plato would have a heart attack: he thought the richest residents of Athens should earn no more than five times the poorest.

The Productivity Commission in its 2009 analysis of executive pay found pay increases had easily outstripped growth in the value of stocks. Indeed, productivity and real median income growth in most countries have stagnated as the pay of managers has soared.

But CEOs aren’t in a market, but instead form a cartel where members set their own remuneration.

The so-called market for executive remuneration isn’t a free market at all. In a free market buyers and sellers negotiate; their own money is on the line. The wage a corner shop owner pays his assistant is set in a free market. But executives and their boards more generally, the sellers of management services, in effect set their price because the shareholders, the buyers, have no control over the decision. Shareholders might be able to vote for particular board members, but they can’t affect the pay offer. Remuneration consultants, incentivised to recommend “above average” pay, add fuel to the fire, and help perpetuate the myth that good managers must cost a fortune. …

The late Australian historian John Hirst once said to me that Australians get angry about CEO pay ­because they sense rightly it’s someone not too different from them sitting behind a desk.

The value added by sports stars and ­entertainers, especially the former, can be objectively measured. The output of chief executives isn’t measurable or verifiable in the same way. No one can split out the contribution of one manager to the success of an entire company, especially large ones.

Extreme danger ahead for EU as Europe topples to the Right

Extreme danger ahead for EU as Europe topples to the Right, by Douglas Murray.

Europe is still reeling from two separate crises: the 2007-08 financial crisis and the 2015 immigration crisis. Both play into Le Pen’s hands. For although the FN [Le Pen’s National Front] is generally described as a party of the far right, its views on many economic issues are anti-free-market and anti-globalist, and in any other context would be described as far left. In a continent where right-wing economic policies are widely blamed for the crash, this is now an advantage rather than the eccentric oddity it once appeared to be.

marine-le-pen-2014

Consider what Australia would be like if had suffered what France has recently gone through:

It is hard for people outside France to appreciate how swiftly mainstream opinion in France has shifted in recent years.

But imagine if Australia had endured a period like France has just been through. Imagine if Australia was now in its third calendar year of a state of emergency. If in 2015 one of the nation’s most iconic magazine offices had been stormed — and its editors massacred — by two al-Qa’ida-trained gunmen. Imagine if Jewish targets in Australia had repeatedly been targeted by similar terrorists, and if two locally born Muslims had slit the throat of a priest saying mass at an altar in Adelaide.

Imagine, furthermore, if during this same period co-ordinated terrorist attacks had claimed hundreds of dead and wounded in an evening of terror in Canberra and almost 100 people had been mowed down on the Sydney waterfront by another Islamist terrorist shouting Allahu Akbar.

In such a situation I imagine that even the representatives of Australia’s mainstream parties would unveil somewhat more robust opinions on the ABC’s Q&A program than they do today.

hat-tip Stephen Neil