Jo Cox, RIP

Jo-Cox-2Yesterday, a British MP was assassinated. Yes, I know, you missed it on the news, well I hate to say it I did too. I guess it wasn’t important enough to tell Americans about, but it is. Here’s why.

First off she was a woman, her name is Jo Cox, in her early 40s, married, mother of two small children. By all a counts a very decent, charming, humanitarian, gifted woman. Our thoughts, like those of the decent Britons, are with her, and her family, we share in very small measure, their loss.

The problem is, as it is here, there wasn’t time to wash up the blood before the blaming and recriminations began, just as it was after Orlando. This unseemly finger-pointing has become the hallmark of our societies, and I think we would be well advised to simply stop it. No Nigel Farage didn’t want Jo Cox to be murdered, nor did he order it, but when rhetoric runs as hot and fast as it does lately, should we really be surprised when things like this happen. No,we should not be, nor should we be, when they happen on the other side, for that matter. If we characterize everyone who opposes us as evil, well, first we denigrate the term evil, for evil is much worse than misguided, and that’s mostly what we see in political terms. Yes, I mean that to be taken both ways. Second, our words may, in fact, call forth evil, as may have happened yesterday.

Cranmer this morning says this:

And then a brief thesis from EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos: “Jo Cox murdered for her dedication to European democracy and humanity. Extremism divides and nourishes hatred..” And with this, you begin to see how the laudable fight against hatred becomes a fight against what some people hate, and evil becomes all that is disagreeable or contentious. Brexit? Good Lord, no, not now. It is driven by the demons of prejudice, hatred and bigotry. Jo Cox was for Remain, and we must honour her memory by voting to remain. It is what she would have wanted.

And that is also what we saw at last weekend, isn’t it? The rush to man the barricades for our causes, to cast ‘the other’ into the den of iniquity, while wearing our pure white garments. Well, I call nonsense on all of us. We’re men and women, all of us, trying to do good while trying to pick our way through a minefield, while seeing through a glass darkly. Good and evil exist, and they have their place in the discussion, but they are not what motivates most people, most of the time. Give the opposition this much credit, in very few cases, if any, does anyone in either Britain or America seek to wreak actual harm on anyone. Most of the harm is unintended consequences, no less harmful, maybe, but not intentional, either.

Jess too, wrote about this today, and I think her perspective is important.

I would go further. Rhetoric is meant to have consequences – that is its purpose, that is why it is used at all. We see this same toxic rhetoric of betrayal used in the sphere of religion too – anyone who reads certain blogs where the Pope is called ‘Bergoglio’ will have some idea of the form this rhetoric takes, excusing itself by saying that what its exponents believe is true and urgent and justifies the language and tone; so say all rabble-rousers. Contemptuous rhetoric can easily lead to contempt in action.

Pope St John Paul II described ‘solidarity’ with others as not a ‘feel of vague compassion or shallow distress’, but rather a ‘firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to see to the good of each and every individual, because we are all really responsible for all’. Jo Cox showed that sort of solidarity, first at Oxfam, and then, as an MP, as a prominent campaigner for more help to be given to Syrian refugees. I have no idea whether she was a Christian, but she lived by St John Paul’s definition of solidarity. She was, by all account, an excellent constituency MP, engaging closely with the community into which she was born.

Our world is a worse place today because Jo Cox is no longer in it. She was taken from us by an evil man, likely a deranged one, we don’t know, we may never really know, why. But the incredibly bad campaign rhetoric over Brexit, while it likely wasn’t the only cause, may have a share in the blame.

We, in Britain, and in America, can and must do better than this.

Yes, I’m sure that Ms. Cox and I disagreed about many things, in life, and in politics, but she made us all better, for there is nothing worse than working without opposition, it causes so very many mistakes.

God grant you peace, my sister, Jo, and provide comfort to your family.

 

Orlando

1280x720_60612P00-ZTIPWSaturday night fifty-one Americans were killed. Not gay Americans, not gay, male Americans, not anything less than full undifferentiated Americans. That is what is wrong with almost all of the coverage. These people were Americans, and our countrymen. It’s possible that we don’t agree with their lifestyle choices, their sexual orientation, their political goals, their religion, if any, even their dress style. So what? They were Americans fully entitled to all the priveledges of being so.

They were apparently murdered by a person who disliked their lifestyle. Who died and made him God, anyway? That’s the problem with so much these days. Instead of worrying about making ourselves better, we’ve decided that we’re as perfect as can be, and so we must tell everyone else what to do. Well, that ain’t my America, nor was it what Salisbury was talking about, and why that quote is in the sidebar here. And that’s a major problem in our society these days. Our government is quickly becoming much too authoritarian. Yes, there is danger in freedom, the danger that a lone fool can do something like this, but even today, I can say that we gain enough from freedom to warrant the risk.

But there is something else here. Until Saturday, he had committed no crime sufficient to deprive him of any of his rights, but he had it seems, twice made enough comments, detailing his feelings about homosexuals, and/or America to warrant a visit from the FBI, and it seems somewhat likely that they downplayed the investigation because he is Muslim. And that too is wrong, and unAmerican, it is time and beyond time to remember that equal under the law means equal, and quit playing favorites. I suspect (in fact I know) I’m not the first to notice that the Muslim interest group trumps both women and gays (probably so-called transgendered as well) with our leftist politicians today.

He was a security guard for G4S, a British firm, most of their American operations used to be Wackenhut, which merged with G4S, it is the largest security firm in the world, with many government contracts, including with DHS. Amongst other things, that refutes the entire anti-gun argument, he was a licensed to carry arms, specifically, although there are those troubling reports that led to the FBI interest, that may indicate that he should have been terminated for his Islamic terrorist connections, or maybe not, it’s none too clear, but it is troubling.

In fact, it smacks of political correctness sweeping the issue under the rug, and that’s hardly unheard of in either the US or the UK, and is a very bad thing. Another manifestation of political correctness we saw almost instantly was a willingness to obfuscate the facts in an attempt to shift the blame, somewhere, anywhere other than Islamic extremism. Well, I’ll go this far, Islamic extremism didn’t commit this crime, a very troubled Islamic extremist did, and he too is dead. Whether he was influenced by others is a proper course of investigation, but likely a sterile one.

And there is one other thing, as always, the only thing that stopped a bad man with a gun, was a good man with a gun, in this case, a SWAT officer. Good on him, I’m not going to call him a hero, although he may be, but he is a man who did his job competently and well. But the club was a gun free zone, and as always, the perpetrator selected a gun free zone for his attack. Well, why wouldn’t he go where there will be no effective opposition? But what would have happened if 1 or 5 or 50 of those enjoying the club had been armed and trained? Would we be burying 51 Americans, and nursing another 50 or so back to health? I doubt it.

And so we come down to this: until we are willing, as a nation, to look reality in the face, indeed, to stare into the face of evil without flinching, this will happen again and again. There is only one perpetrator here, who is dead, and so will face no earthly trial, but contingent responsibility for this atrocity extends to much of the so-called leadership.

And a few words of benediction to my God for the victims,

UNTO Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother[s] departed, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the earth and the sea shall give up their dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his own glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. (1928 BCP)

And for the rest of us, a phrase occurs to me, coming from those who willingly give their lives over to defend us all, for truly, America, and freedom itself is under attack.

Lock and Load

I also note gratefully that Jessica has posted her feelings on “All along the Watchtower” in an excellent article. It is here

 

Why the Roman empire worked – and the EU empire doesn’t

Roman_Empire_Trajan_117ADI found this very interesting:

The principle of countries working harmoniously together is wholly admirable. Why, then, has the European Union become such a disaster area? The success of the Roman empire may offer a clue.

Romans won that empire almost entirely by military might. But they could not have maintained it that way: for some 500 years, a mere 300,000 legionaries patrolled this area of approximately two million square miles and about 60 million inhabitants. So what was their secret?

The key is pleasingly paradoxical: the Romans never consciouslyplanned an empire at all. Once they had started down that road, they saw the material advantages it could bring, but there was no blueprint for it. Success was a result of hard-won experience.

via Why the Roman empire worked – and the EU empire doesn’t

This, of course, is the period of history we were taught to call the Pax Romana. It’s essentially the longest period of peace that Europe has known. But while the Concert of Vienna held, and the British controlled the seas, there was the Pax Britannia, and after the exhaustion of the wars of the twentieth century, the Pax Americana.

And that has held from 1945 until today, and make no mistake, it was NATO, led by the US and the UK, that held the ring, allowing Europe to mostly waste its inheritance on spending the windfall of the Marshall Plan without having to worry about defending itself.

The EU for all its pretensions had very little to do with it, the ring was held by GI Joe and Tommy Atkins, and the US Dollar, as it is to this day. The EU was envisioned as a common market, to allow the Europeans to use resources where they could do the most good. In many ways, American influence spread as the Roman Empire did, we rarely interfered with anything in our client states and let them follow whatever chimeras they chose, as long as they didn’t get into a war about it. It’s worked pretty well, and if the bureaucrats in Brussels didn’t get too big for their britches, it still would be.

But they did, with the worst outcomes possible for their populations, because Brussels is all about the power of the elites, and while talking a good game, nothing about improvement for the citizenry, or should we say, peasants. See that’s one other thing, there are no successful democratic traditions in Europe, only in the Anglosphere. Europe goes through the motions, as long as we are watching, but when we get distracted, their old aristocratic habit comes back to the fore, with all its memory of divine right to tell everybody else what is best for them. In their zeal for the status quo, as opposed to the future, well, does anybody really think that if it was 1901 they wouldn’t regulate motor cars into oblivion for the benefit of hay farmers, and buggy whip manufacturers?

And so, as Europe stagnates and comes under unceasing pressure from other people migrating in to get the free stuff, it threatens to collapse, which explains the panicked efforts to keep the fifth largest economy in the world (the UK) more or less in it. It also explains why so many Britons are so anxious to unchain themselves from an anchor that will drag them underwater.

I think they should remember what happened when they unchained themselves from Europe last time. When Henry VIII, turned his back on Europe. What happened? The world as you and I know it. It all stems from that.

Will the EU likely collapse sooner if the UK leaves? I think so. Is that necessarily a bad thing? I’m not sure that it is, perhaps if they went back to their nation states, the Europeans, who don’t fit any of the conditions necessary for a cohesive national identity, only for an empire based on force, might figure out a better way. After all, they have an example to follow, they don’t have to invent it, as the British and Americans did. And always remember two things:

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

from Maggie Thatcher, and the folk wisdom of common sense,

Things that can’t continue, won’t.

Is Personal Responsibility Obsolete?

acb46207-5148-4082-9535-ebb6505f90d7Over the last few days, Thomas Sowell has published a two-part series on Is Personal Responsibility Obsolete. As would be expected it is very good. It starts like this.

Among the many disturbing signs of our times are conservatives and libertarians of high intelligence and high principles who are advocating government programs that relieve people of the necessity of working to provide their own livelihoods.

Generations ago, both religious people and socialists were agreed on the proposition that “he who does not work, neither shall he eat.” Both would come to the aid of those unable to work. But the idea that people who simply choose not to work should be supported by money taken from those who are working was rejected across the ideological spectrum.

How we got to the present situation is a long story, but the painful fact is that we are here now. Among the leading minds of our times, including Charles Murray today and the late and great Milton Friedman earlier, there have been proposals for ways of subsidizing the poor without the suffocating distortions of the government’s welfare state bureaucracy.

Professor Friedman’s plan for a negative income tax to help the poor has already been put into practice. But, contrary to his intention to have this replace the welfare state bureaucracy, it has been simply tacked on to all the many other government programs, instead of replacing them.

It is not inevitable that the same thing will happen to Charles Murray’s plan, but I would bet the rent money that there would be the same end result.

Just what specific problem is so dire as to cause some conservatives and libertarians to propose that the government come to the rescue by giving every adult money to live on without working?

Poverty? “Poverty” today means whatever government statisticians in Washington say it means — no more and no less. Most Americans living below the official poverty line today have central air-conditioning, cable television for multiple TV sets, own at least one motor vehicle, and have many other amenities that most of the human race never had for most of its existence.

Most Americans did not have central air-conditioning or cable television as recently as the 1980s. A scholar who spent years studying Latin America has called the poverty line in America the upper middle class in Mexico.

via Is Personal Responsibility Obsolete? – Thomas Sowell

In the second part, he uses the examples of Spain and Saudi Arabia as examples of what usually happens to societies, which in one way or another, usually windfalls, find themselves in situations in which their people no longer have to work, or produce anything. It actually pretty analogous to the winner of one of the big lottery payouts, and has similar results. It seems that societies, as well as people, need the structure of productive work (defined very broadly) to lead successful lives.

The second part is here, Is Personal Responsibility Obsolete?: Part II

I think he’s right, but even if you don’t, it’s a thoughtful look at where our societies are careening to out of control.

How The West Got Healthy And Prosperous

2000-years-of-global-temperatureAn excellent article here, and he outlines very well why so many of seeing Global warming, Global cooling, Climate change, especially the Anthropomorphic thesis, and not only unproven science but as a modern manifestation of Luddism bordering onto a quasi-religion. Yes, it’s that bad, and yes, the reason you had breakfast this morning is energy, and the most vital of that comes from fossil fuel.

Vital ingredients included the scientific method and fossil fuels – truths we forget at our peril

Driessenprofile2By Paul Driessen ~

Several years ago, physician, statistician, sword swallower and vibrant lecturer Hans Rosling produced a fascinating 4-minute video that presented 120,000 data points and showcased how mostly western nations became healthy and prosperous in just 200 years – after countless millennia of malnutrition, disease,  wretched poverty and early death.

More recently, professor of history and economics Deidre McCloskey provided some clues as to why and how this happened. In a Wall Street Journal article outlining “how the West (and the rest) got rich,” she notes that it wasn’t just Karl Marx’s “exploited workers” or Adam Smith’s “virtuously saved capital, nor was it only Hernando DeSoto and Douglas North’s essential property rights and other legal institutions.

130214102629energy_resource-228x300Perhaps the most vital ingredient was that over those two centuries “ideas started having sex,” as author Matt Ridley described the process in The Rational Optimist. It enabled innovators to make discoveries and devise technological wonders, often through coincidentalConnections that historian James Burke found among seemingly unrelated earlier inventions, to bring us television, computers and other marvels.

Why did ideas suddenly start having sex? McCloskey asks. One reason was the printing press, which enabled more people to read and share ideas. However, she cites two other principal developments: liberty and equality. Liberated people are ingenious, she observes – free to pursue happiness, and ideas; free to try and fail, and try again; free to pursue their own self-interests, and thereby better mankind.

Equality of social dignity and before the law emboldened people to invest, invent and take risks. Once accidents of parentage, titles, inherited wealth or formal education no longer controlled destinies or opportunities, the innate inspiration, perspiration and perseverance of a Franklin, Bell, Edison, Wright, Kettering, Steinmetz, Ford, Benz, Borlaug and countless others could be unleashed.

“Supposedly inferior races and classes and ethnicities proved not to be so,” McCloskey says. “Ordinary men and women didn’t need to be directed from above and, when honored and left alone, became immensely creative.” That’s an important message in the splendid British television series Downton Abbey, as well: when societal restrictions are relaxed, many can rise to new callings and heights.

Many other factors played key roles in this incredible progress. Two are especially important.

The scientific methodbegins with an hypothesis about how some component of the natural world works, and a calculation or forecast of what would happen if the concept is correct. Scientists then subject the hypothesis and prediction to experiment. If confirmed by data and observations, we have a new theory or law of nature; if not, the hypothesis is wrong.

This process brought wondrous advances – often through long, laborious tinkering and testing, and often amid heated, acrimonious debate about which hypothesis was correct (the miasma or germ theory of disease), which system was better (direct or alternating current), and countless other investigations.

Abundant, reliable, affordable energy – the vast majority of it fossil fuels – made all this and much more possible. It carried us from human and animal muscle, wood, dung and water wheels, to densely packed energy that could reliably power factories, laboratories, schools, hospitals, homes and offices. Those fuels also run equipment that removes harmful pollutants from our air and water, and they ended our unsustainable reliance on whale oil, saving those magnificent mammals from extinction.

Today, coal, oil and natural gas still provide 80% of America’s and the world’s energy, for transportation, communication, refrigeration, heat, lights, manufacturing, entertainment and every other component of modern life. Together, the scientific method and industrial-grade energy enable our Ultimate Resource – the human mind – to create more new ideas, institutions and technologies that make life for poor people in wealthier countries better, healthier, fuller and longer than even royalty enjoyed a mere century ago.

Medical research discovered why people died from wounds; the true causes of malaria, smallpox, cholera and other diseases; antibiotics, vaccinations, insecticides and pharmaceuticals to combat disease and improve our overall well-being; anesthesia and surgical techniques that permit life-saving operations and organ transplants; sanitation (toilets, soap, trash removal) and water purification; and countless other advances that raised the average American’s life expectancy from 46 in 1900 to 76 today for men and 81 for women.

Internal combustion engines replaced horses for plows and transportation, and rid city streets of manure, urine and carcasses, while creating new problems that later generations toiled to address. Today we can travel the world in hours and ship produce, clothing and other products to the globe’s farthest corners.

Mechanized agriculture – coupled with modern fertilizers, hybrid and GMO seeds, drip irrigation and other advances – produce bumper crops that feed billions, using less land, water and insecticides.

Houses and other buildings are built better and stronger, to keep out the cold and heat and disease-carrying insects, better survive hurricanes and earthquakes, and connect their inhabitants with entertainment and information centers from all over the planet, and beyond.

Modern mining techniques and technologies find, extract and process the incredible variety of metals and other raw materials required to make the mechanized equipment and factories required to produce the energy we need and grow or make everything we eat, wear or use.

If energy is the Master Resource that makes all of this possible, electricity is the king of modern energy. Imagine your life without electricity – generated by coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind or solar facilities, or batteries. Imagine life before electricity, or before the internet and cell phones put the fullness of human knowledge and entertainment instantly in the palm of your hand.

At least one more factor helped to unleash this sudden surge of invention, progress, health and prosperity. A relatively new legal entity, the corporation, organized, harnessed and directed people, money and other resources toward common purposes. A growing private sector – free enterprises and entrepreneurs – put corporate and other ideas, labor and investors’ money on the line, assisted by evolving financial and investment systems and practices, while legal and government institutions provided the ethical and regulatory frameworks within which these entities are expected to operate.

Numerous “invisible hands” worked together across continents and oceans, often without even knowing their counterparts exist, to bring us products as simple as a pencil or as complex as a cell phone.

So we are left with a profound question. Amid all this health, prosperity and longevity for so many – why do so many still struggle on the edge of survival? Why do two billion still have minimal electricity and another 1.3 people still have none at all? Why do two billion still exist on $3 per day? Why do a half-million still die every year from malaria? five million more from respiratory and intestinal diseases?

The formula for health and prosperity is no secret. It is readily available on your cell phone. Indeed, says Leon Louw, the real “economic miracle” today is not found in South Korea, Singapore or Botswana – but in North Korea, Venezuela and most of Africa.

What should fascinate us is the miracle of poverty – the way inept, corrupt, greedy, centrally planned, hyper-regulated governments have prevented prosperity from happening. What should outrage us is that callous UN bodies, NGOs and activists have imposed their eco-imperialist agendas, and prevented countries from acquiring the property rights and technologies that made so many nations healthy and rich.

What should concern us is that many forces are conspiring to roll back the free enterprise, free speech, scientific method, and reliable, affordable energy that make modern living standards possible. Having them now does not guarantee them tomorrow. Failure to safeguard these essential foundations could take us on the path to joining the ranks of the “miracles of poverty” and FRCs: Formerly Rich Countries.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT). He is also the author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death.

Read more excellent articles at CFACThttp://www.cfact.org/

Reprinted with permission from: How The West Got Healthy And Prosperous | PA Pundits – International

The angels of death threaten the sanctity of human life

nilsson_rm_photo_of_20_week_fetusThis is something we see more overtly, in Europe than here, but we have the same forces here. And if we don’t keep guard, they will become even more overt, and to be honest, if we don’t hold the line, who will? By Niall McCrae writing in The Conservative Woman.

A compromise between individual rights and ethical safeguards, said Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau of forthcoming legislation to legalise assisted suicide. From a liberal stance, overturning time-honoured beliefs is inherently progressive, and while no political leader could afford to overlook the latent conservatism of the electorate, the direction of travel seems set.

Maybe that’s why, maybe it’s because I’m an American, where we wrote things down, long ago, that I don’t believe there is any, not any, room to compromise individual rights. We have always believed they came from God, even if European believe they come from the state, we know better than that. But many of our liberal friends don’t see it that way. Often it seems if they believe ‘the collective over all’.

From foetus to centenarian, existence is being determined not by grace but by instrumentalism: Most people are not callous, but the prevailing secular relativism and narcissistic culture have licensed people to put their own needs to the forefront:  the woman whose career may be disrupted by an unwanted child; the son who sees his frail father’s assets disappearing into the coffers of a private care home. The vulnerable are protected by the State and its systems of health and social care, one might think. But attitudes are changing, and influential voices have swayed opinion in the health professions, which have abandoned a clear position on preservation of life.  The long march through the institutions continues apace, and dark forces will surely triumph if good women do nothing.

Think of the fully-formed boy or girl, nestling in the womb. Cathy Warwick, leader of the Royal College of Midwives, has pledged the support of her association to the ‘We trust women’ campaign of Britain’s most prolific abortionist. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service wants decriminalisation of abortion at any stage of pregnancy. In response to the furore, Warwick asserted the purpose of the RCM as ‘advocate for women’. Yet as observed by Ann Widdecombe, this obfuscates the role and responsibility of midwives, whose dual concern is for the pregnant woman and her baby. Midwifery serves humanity, not a feminist campaign. […]

At the other end of life, older people are imperilled by the euthanasia lobby. Although Lord Falconer’s Bill was defeated in Parliament, there is certainly momentum towards legalising medically-assisted suicide, and many among the health professions support this. Such thinking is informed not only by widely reported cases of severe neurological disability, from which a fully cognisant sufferer seeks final relief. Some doctors and nurses are openly doubting the value of patient’s lives, particularly those of older people with terminal conditions (which could include everybody in their later years).

via Niall McCrae: The angels of death threaten the sanctity of human life – The Conservative Woman

Incidentally, one of the many reasons I opposed and still oppose Obamacare is on display here because I suspect it infects the thinking of medical personnel in Britain. It is undoubtedly cheaper to abort babies than to care for them, especially if they are likely to have what we euphemistically call, birth defects. It is also cheaper to quit feeding patients who seem unlikely to us to recover, or even where we cannot see what, if any, quality of life remains. I fail to see how that can possibly be something for us to judge.

The Hippocratic Oath has traditionally enjoined doctors to above all, “do no harm”, indisputably doctors have done harm over the years, but as we have learned, so have they, so they do less inadvertently. It would be a shame if they offset that by doing harm to people intentionally.

Niall mentioned Mathew Arnold’s poem Dover Beach, and its one of my favorites, so let’s end on a beautiful if still sad note.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
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