Universal education dooms the working class to political silence

Universal education dooms the working class to political silence.

With universal education, there is now an approximate equality of opportunity to climb the educational ladder. Smarter people generally climb further. But they are also the people who tend to rise to the top of groups such as political parties.

A hundred years ago, before today’s social mobility,  there were many outstandingly bright members of the working class to lead its political struggles. Today, not so much. But, of course, the university educated leaders of the left today are no longer working class … and have different aspirations and perspectives. In fact, many cannot move away fast enough from the deplorables.

North Korea Set to Mothball Nuclear Site, Suspend Missile Tests

North Korea Set to Mothball Nuclear Site, Suspend Missile Tests. By Kanga Kong.

North Korea has achieved its goal of developing a nuclear arsenal and is suspending further tests of atomic weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles, its state-run media reported, citing leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim said the nuclear test site in North Korea’s north will be dismantled, the Korean Central News Agency said in a statement, without giving further details. Punggye-ri, built in a secluded mountain valley northeast of Pyongyang and the site for all six of the regime’s nuclear blasts, has already been in doubt amid signs of structural weakness, and some observers have said it would be unsafe to do more tests there.

“I solemnly declare that we have accomplished credible weaponization of nuclear forces,” Kim was quoted as saying at a Friday ruling party meeting. “Our decision to suspend nuclear tests is part of the world’s important steps for nuclear disarmament and our republic will join global efforts to completely suspend nuclear tests.”

Odd. The media was telling us Trump was about to start WWIII in Korea.

Australian soldiers banned from displaying ‘symbols of death’ by new Defence chief Angus Campbell

Australian soldiers banned from displaying ‘symbols of death’ by new Defence chief Angus Campbell. By Rory Callinan.

Defence’s soon to be new chief has banned soldiers from using any display of the “symbols of death” like skulls and cross bones in patches, badges or imagery.

Chief of Army Lt Gen Campbell on Tuesday issued the directive to the Army banning the “display or adoption of symbols, emblems and iconography” which he says are “ at odds with the army’s values and the ethical force we seek to build and sustain”.

He cited the use of “death symbology or iconography such as the pirate skull and crossbones, the phantom or punisher symbols, the Spartans or the grim reaper.”

The skull or cross bones, he stated, was associated with maritime outlaws and murders, the phantom with vigilantes, the Spartans as extreme militarism and the grim reaper as a “bringer of death”.

“Such symbology is never presented as ill intentioned and plays to much of modern popular culture, but it is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession the legitimate and discriminate taking of life,’’ he said.

“As soldiers our purpose is to serve the state, employing violence with humility always and compassion wherever possible. The symbology to which I refer erodes this ethos of service.’’

Well, the purpose of the armed forces is to kill people. Is this a baby step in a new direction, or just cleaning out the excesses?

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Why Ardern’s Maori cloak, worn to meet the Queen, delighted New Zealand

Why Ardern’s Maori cloak, worn to meet the Queen, delighted New Zealand, by the BBC.

When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore a traditional Maori cloak to meet the Queen, it had quite a few people scratching their heads – and most New Zealanders glowing with pride.

It’s a korowai, a garment woven with feathers and steeped in history, tradition and cultural significance.

Worn by Maori on special occasions, it surprised some when it turned up in London at the Commonwealth Summit.

But it’s not that unusual. The Queen also wears one whenever she visits New Zealand.

Massive virtue signalling. It doesn’t get more tribal than this.

But which tribes are good, and which are bad, is only allowed to be decided by the PC Left of course.

Chinese military outpost in Vanuatu a ‘big nightmare’ for Australia, experts warn

Chinese military outpost in Vanuatu a ‘big nightmare’ for Australia, experts warn, by Gavin Fernando.

Fears have mounted following reports Beijing is seeking to establish a permanent military base in Vanuatu, less than 2000km from the Australian border.

Initial talks have already begun with Vanuatu, which could see Beijing establishing a major military presence and upsetting the strategic balance of the region, Fairfax Media reported today.

Experts warn this will essentially see a Chinese military outpost planted directly in Australia’s backyard.

Adam Lockyer, a senior lecturer in Security Studies at Macquarie University, stressed that this is a huge deal for us.

“This is a big nightmare for Australia,” he told news.com.au. “A Chinese base here has been the primary fear of Australian strategic thinkers since Federation.”

So what’s China playing at?

Dr Lockyer said Australia had always been relatively safe as long as a great power — like China — didn’t have a base within proximity. …

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop downplayed fears this morning, saying she was confident of Australia’s strong relationship with the island nation 1750km east of Northern Australia.

She also noted that China has only established one military base — in Djibouti in northern Africa.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

How China is exerting its power in Vanuatu

How China is exerting its power in Vanuatu, by Gavin Fernando.

China’s exertion of influence in Vanuatu is well-documented.

According to local reports, China accounts for almost half of the country’s $440 million debt.

Earlier this year, it was reported that hundreds of millions of dollars being lent to South Pacific nations had seen through island nations struggling with debt repayment.

According to the Lowy Institute, China transferred at least $2.2 billion to Pacific nations between 2006 and 2016. …

This is nothing new for China. Security experts have previously told news.com.au China targets poor countries and employs a “debt-trap strategy”, by getting them hooked on debts they can’t pay back, which allows them to grab territory or create ports instead.

We’ve already seen this happen with numerous countries including Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos and Djibuoti — the one country where China has a confirmed military base.

The idea is to use the smaller countries’ strategic locations or resources, or secure their support in diplomatic affairs when needed.

Two years years ago Vanuatu became the first country in the Pacific to publicly pledge its “full understanding and support” for Beijing’s position over the disputed South China Sea.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Weakened Australian Liberal Party drifting into a philosophical wilderness

Weakened Australian Liberal Party drifting into a philosophical wilderness, by Chris Kenny.

In a post-Cold War age history didn’t end, as Francis Fukuyama suggested, but instead took unexpected twists. Identity politics has become ascendant, reactions to the global financial crisis seem to have unlearned many of the economic lessons of the postwar era and major political parties are flummoxed. This dynamic unfolds differently in various Western liberal democracies but commonalities include a drift away from traditional parties, resurgence of lunar-left ideology and emergence of breakaway anti-immigration or anti-Muslim parties on the right — the groups Daniel Pipes referred to last week as the “civilisationalist” parties whose raison d’etre, despite their faults, is the defence of Western civilisation. …

The time is ripe for the Liberals to consider, rediscover or redefine their organising principles.

As is perhaps fitting, the party is not overly prescriptive about its philosophy. Its touchstone “We believe” statement can be condensed into a simple edict in favour of “individual freedom and free enterprise”. …

Liberal Party office bearer and freelance writer William Dawes … offered evidence of liberalism’s inadequacy by pointing to the popularity of Canadian psychology professor and author Jordan Peterson. “He is obsessed with finding meaning in tradition,” Dawes explained. “This is completely and utterly conser­vative. It’s also an unideological phenomenon. It’s about finding meaning and extolling virtue in your life. His inexplicable popular­ity may signify a paradigm shift.”

Could this be the future of the Liberal Party? A reversion to pragmatic conservative instincts, a retreat from the fashions and ideology of liberalism and an appeal to traditions that make sense?

Writing in The Times Literary Supplement this month, British philosopher John Gray rails against what he calls the “hyper-liberalism” of university campuses and the political class. “When students from China study in Western countries one of the lessons they learn is that the enforcement of intellectual orthodoxy does not require an authoritarian government,” Gray writes.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Trump Laments That Flynn’s Life Is ‘Destroyed’ While Comey Profits

Trump Laments That Flynn’s Life Is ‘Destroyed’ While Comey Profits, by Terrence Dopp.

President Donald Trump kept up his war of words with James Comey on Friday, calling the former FBI director’s new book “third rate,” and suggesting it’s unfair that Comey is profiting.

“So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written),” Trump said in a Twitter posting. “Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!”

Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to federal agents and is providing cooperation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and whether the Trump campaign was involved. …

The latest attack by Trump keeps alive a months-long feud that burst into full conflagration a week ago when the first excerpts of a television interview aired in which Comey likened Trump to a Mafia boss and said it’s possible that salacious allegations in the so-called Steele Dossier involving Russian prostitutes are true. Comey is on a promotional tour for his book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”

From a previous post about Big Government Bullying:

It doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe Flynn intentionally misled the FBI, or anyone else, about his unquestionably licit conversations with the Russian ambassador.

I think the “guilty” plea tells us more about the Mueller investigation, and about the politicization of “justice” more generally, than it does about presumed malefactions by the retired general.

I think that Gen. Flynn admitted guilt in order to stop the pain for himself and his family.

I doubt Flynn — or Mueller, for that matter — believes he misled government officials.

Flynn may have been confused (his conversation with Pence apparently took place in the middle of the night with very bad communications), but he certainly had no need to lie about the Kislyak conversations. I think Flynn copped a plea to end the torture, and to save his family from prosecution.

It is notable that Mueller and company have apparently dropped their investigation of Gen. Flynn’s son, and the plea agreement will dramatically reduce the family’s legal expenses.

I believe Flynn has said that he has spent $1 million on lawyers, and felt compelled to plead guilty to something lest he be ruined financially …

Meanwhile Comey is feted at every turn by a willing media, allowed to peddle heavily contested statements without having to back them up. What is the West coming to?

Hillary Clinton breached criminal code

Collusion, anyone?

Collusion, anyone? By Michael Barone.

As the likelihood of the charges of Trump campaign “collusion” with Russia seems headed toward zero, the likelihood of proof of a different form of “collusion” seems headed upward toward certainty.

The Russia collusion charge had some initial credibility because of businessman Trump’s dealings in Russia and candidate Trump’s off-putting praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was fueled by breathless media coverage of such trivial events as Jeff Sessions’ exchange of pleasantries with the Russian ambassador at a Washington reception.

And, of course, by the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel. But Mueller’s prosecutions of Trump campaign operatives were for misdeeds long before the campaign, and his indictment of 13 Russians specified that no American was a “knowing participant” in their work.

Now, there’s talk that Mueller is winding up his investigation. Whenever he finishes, it seems unlikely his work will fulfill the daydreams so many liberals have of making Trump go the way of Richard Nixon.

Meanwhile, the evidence builds of collusion by the Obama administration’s law enforcement and intelligence personnel in trying to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat and delegitimize Donald Trump in and after the 2016 presidential election.

The investigation of Hillary Clinton’s illegal email system was conducted with kid gloves. One glaring example of impropriety came when FBI Director James Comey was given (and accepted) Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s order to call it a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” Clinton aides were allowed to keep her emails and destroy 30,000 of them, plus cellphones. They were not subject to grand jury subpoenas, and a potential co-defendant was allowed to claim attorney-client privilege.

On June 27, 2016, Lynch clandestinely met with Bill Clinton on his plane at the Phoenix airport — a meeting that became known only thanks to an alert local TV reporter. Lynch supposedly left the decision on prosecution to Comey, who on July 5 announced publicly that Clinton was “extremely careless” but lacked intent to violate the law, even though the statute punishes violations intentional or not.

Contrast that with the collusion of Obama officials with the Clinton campaign-financed Christopher Steele/Fusion GPS memorandum alleging Trump ties with Russians. Comey and the Justice Department used it, without divulging who paid for it, to get a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign operative Carter Page’s future and past communications — the “wiretap” Trump was derided for mentioning.

Similarly, when Comey informed Trump in January 2017 of the contents of the then-unpublished Steele memorandum, he didn’t reveal that the Clinton campaign paid for it. Asked on his book tour why not, he blandly said he didn’t know.

We love a big Australia — but not so fast

We love a big Australia — but not so fast, by Henry Ergas.

It is true that Melbourne, with just half London’s population, covers six times London’s area, as Shaping a Nation, the research paper on migration released earlier this week by the Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs, claims. But it hardly follows that Melbourne should, or sensibly could, aim to achieve London’s population density. …

The urban fabric is extraordinarily durable, as is the housing stock: that is why there is so much truth in Winston Churchill’s dictum that “we shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us”.

In democracies — which cannot adopt China’s approach of simply bulldozing millions of homes to build high rises and ­superhighways — modifying the structure of urban areas is the work of many decades.