Sunday Funnies: Green Nude Eel Edition

Well, another week where Occasional Cortex proves the point. There really is no intelligent life in there. And so on we go, like a runaway bumper car.

From Italy comes The God Emperor Trump, including the Twitter sword

Might just be the best thing the Italians have given us since this

click to embiggen

Jungle Love

And, of course

Mostly, but not all, from PowerLine, as usual

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The Company One Keeps

My mother often told me, “You’ll be known by the company you keep”. Somehow it often came up when she didn’t really approve of one friend or another. Invariably, she was right. She was referring, of course, to Proverbs 13:20 “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

Well, not everyone had the advantage of my mother. the Democrats in Washington are one example. Fred Lucas at Fox News explains.

What a difference a year made for Joseph Alcoff.

On Monday, the 37-year-old has a court date in connection with charges he’s facing in Philadelphia that include aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation for allegedly being part of an Antifa mob in November that attacked two Marines, Alejandro Godinez and Luis Torres, both Hispanic. Alcoff and two others charged in the attack have pleaded not guilty.

ANTIFA FIGURE CHARGED IN MARINE ATTACK

But while Democratic officials are distancing themselves from Alcoff now, until recently he was a well-connected, aspiring political player in Washington who may have even had a hand in key policy proposals.

His endorsement apparently mattered when several congressional Democrats in February 2018 issued press releases with his quote backing their bill on regulating payday lenders.

As the payday campaign manager for the liberal group Americans for Financial Reform, Alcoff participated in congressional Democratic press conferences, was a guest on a House Democratic podcast and met with senior officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2016 through 2018.

He was also pictured with now-House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Both committees oversee financial regulatory policies Alcoff was advocating.

Alcoff met with then CFPB Director Richard Cordray and other senior CFPB officials on April 2016, again in March 2017 and a third time in May 2017, as first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

During this time, he reportedly was an Antifa leader in Washington.

Alcoff’s former employer had little to say about the matter.

“As of December, Mr. Alcoff no longer works for AFR,” Carter Dougherty, spokesman for Americans for Financial Reform, told Fox News in an email.

Dougherty didn’t answer whether Alcoff had been fired or resigned. He also didn’t answer whether the organization was aware of Alcoff’s associations during his employment.

Alcoff was reportedly also an organizer for Smash Racism DC, the group responsible for gathering and shouting threats outside the home of Fox News host Tucker Carlson in November and for heckling Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife Heidi at a Washington restaurant in September. Reports have not said Alcoff was directly involved in either incident; only that he was associated with the group.

Keep reading but there is no real surprise here. We’ve long known that the Dims have nothing but disrespect for those who wear our uniform, for those of different colors, for any of the myriad differences between us, that makes people so fascinating. For the Dims it is simply a crack to apply a crowbar to, to attempt to separate us and play us off, one against the other. They call it diversity politics or intersectionality, or some other made up word. I call it bullshit. The only difference that matters is character, and in that, Joseph Alcoff is entirely lacking. Those that associated willingly with him, Maxine Waters and Sherrod Brown, for example, are no better.

They too are known by the company they keep.

Sunday Funnies: State of the Union

Well, this has been quite the week, upside down inside out every which way. Let’s have a look.

Grantham, Lincolnshire, England has agreed to have a statue of their favorite daughter, Baroness Margaret Thatcher. Good for them, although given that they are from the Labour party, they may be a bit halfhearted. But many, many people from Russia to America know better than they do.

As opposed to

I hear this time and again in talking with Britons.

 

And, of course

Mostly, but not all, from PowerLine (including comments) this week.

Culture Wars

Daniel Oliver writing in The Federalist has a question for us. Where has all the culture gone? Where indeed. Let’s see what he’s on about, shall we?

From the New York island to the Redwood forest, Western Civilization continues to collapse, gradually now, but soon, maybe, suddenly. For now, only a relatively small band of traditionalists are manning the gates against the cultural nihilists. And, of course, manning is the right word. Once upon a time, hand-to-hand combat was not thought to be women’s work: if the women were killed in battle, who would take care of the children?

Assuming there are any children. About 800,000 babies are aborted each year in the US. Given that about 39 percent of those babies are black but that blacks are only 12 percent of the population, why isn’t abortion seen as racist? Whatever happened to disparate impact?

How can Democrats, who are the primary advocates for abortion, say with a straight face that their pro-abortion stance isn’t a dog whistle for racists? Can Democrats say they know no one who favors abortion who has not also at least once said, or perhaps “opined,” that a complementary effect of abortion is that it helps keep down the poor black population?

If Ralph (not his real name) were to beat a black man to death in the forest while yelling racial insults, but The New York Times didn’t cover the attack, would it be a racist act?

Just recently the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, indicated that he would not oppose an “abortion” even after a baby was born. Most people were scandalized by his remarks, but the only remarkable aspect of them was that he said them out loud, not that had thought them. That he, and thousands of others, had thought them is really unremarkable, because of Burnham’s Second law: “Who says A must say B.” (James Burnham was a philosopher and a founding editor of National Review; he wrote many books, including his seminal work, The Managerial Revolution.)

Burnham’s Second Law makes the point that taking one position can require taking a subsequent position. If you murder Duncan, you must also kill Banquo.

A baby in the womb either is or is not a person. The abortionists say “it” is not (they have to say that because it is still not quite acceptable to kill “people” — unless perhaps they are really old or sick and, you know, like, really not enjoying life), but the abortionists refuse to say when “it” does become a person. In theory they might say “when it is born,” but that is now transparently only terminological.

Even a fool can tell that there’s no substantive difference between the personhood of a “baby” in the womb on December 24 and that same baby born on December 25. But where are the fools when we need them?

Yeah, he’s right, without question, and you should read the rest. But the culture ain’t just abortion, and the question is a lot broader. Where’s popular music that is music? That died about 1980, maybe earlier. Now we simply have noise, and not because I’m an old fogey, I thought so in the 80s, and quit listening. Now, I listen to a 60s station from London on the internet, mostly, because even the classical stations have caught the infection.

Think that irrelevant? It’s not, culture pervades and includes all facets of life. If you listen to Handel and Bach (or even Elvis and the early Beatles, let alone Pet Clark and Frank Sinatra, it’s not something that wants to make you go kill babies. Now, I wonder.

What do you think when you see a US Soldier on the street? For me, and many of us, they are the heirs of the Continental Army, both sides in the Civil War, and the men that fought off Hitler’s and Tojo’s minions, thus saving the world. If you see anything else, well the culture is declining and quickly.

So many things like that, and it all goes into the death of our culture. If we don’t resuscitate if soon, it, and we, will die.

SOTU 2019, and The Old Dominion blows up

The President gave an outstanding SOTU the other night, If you missed it, here it is. I know the feeling, I finally found enough time last night.

One of the things that is very rare is that he is very good with a set piece speech like this, while also being very good with the off the cuff ones, like his rallies. Very unusual for anyone to be good at both. PowerLine and others report that CBS and CNN snap polls found 76% approval.

He’s got a good message, a quite traditional pro-America message when he can get it through the media, who does their best to stifle it. The shutdown delay, and associated hype, probably helped him, as well.

One of the losers of the night was the Dems and their Mean Girl Caucus. It’s not a good look when Congresscritters (who are unpopular, all on their own) remind all and sundry of both the cool kids in junior high and the KKK. You know, like this.

And that is how they came off to me, and probably a lot of others. Sitting there stone-faced at the receipt of much good news about America, only cheering for themselves. As usual.

Then there is the mess the Dims have made in Virginia. Melanie Phillips explains it well.

But now Democrats have revealed a brutalised contempt for life itself.

In the Virginia assembly, Democrat delegate Kathy Tran proposed a law loosening restrictions on abortion in the final stages of pregnancy. She later confirmed that this would permit the termination of a pregnancy up to the very moment of delivery, in other words after labour had started.

The capacity to keep premature babies alive at an ever earlier stage in pregnancy has produced a fraught debate about the need to reduce the abortion time limit. But if a baby is in the process of being born, it is by definition capable of life. It is not longer a foetus; it is indisputably a baby on its way into the world. The suggestion that it might be killed at the very moment of its birth is grotesque – and it’s hard to understand how in practice this could be done without committing infanticide.

The Tran bill failed to pass, but not before it was defended by Virginia’s Democrat governor Ralph Northam, who is himself a paediatric neurologist. He told a WTOP radio show that Tran’s comments were “blown out of proportion” and said third-trimester abortions were rare.

These were done, he said, “in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s not viable. If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen.The infant would be delivered. The infant would be comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion”.

Northam was immediately accused of promoting infanticide, an accusation he vehemently denied. His spokeswoman said he had been “talking about prognosis and medical treatment, not ending the life of a delivered baby”; his words were being taken out of context by Republicans, she said, and the notion that he would approve of killing infants was “disgusting.”

But what else would any such resuscitation “discussion” be about? Moreover, Tran’s proposed measure wasn’t about non-viable foetuses or catastrophic deformities or allowing terribly sick newborns to die. It was instead about third-trimester abortion, the deliberate extinction of any viable infant life, in circumstances where continuing with the pregnancy was deemed to threaten the mother’s life or her physical or mental health.

You already know my views, I could be persuaded that anyone espousing such views should be aborted themselves before they can hurt more kids. YMMV, but I’d be surprised.

In any case, the world blew up for Dims in Virginia, Melanie again.

So either Northam was being disingenuous, or he didn’t understand what Tran’s proposals actually were.

What then happened, however, graphically demonstrated how the Democrats are now being sucked into a woke vortex of their own making. It was revealed that in 1984 Northam had featured, on his medical-school yearbook page, a photograph of a man in blackface and a man in a KuKluxKlan hood. Northam immediately apologised for appearing in the picture; then said that neither person in the photograph was him; then he said he had put on blackface decades ago to look like Michael Jackson for a dance contest.

All hell then broke loose and Northam’s future as Virginia’s governor – an office he won after accusing his opponents of racism – is now in jeopardy.

But Virginia’s Democrats then descended into yet another circle of politically correct hell. Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, admitted that he also had worn blackface in the 1980s. And Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who was poised to succeed Northam if he was hounded out of office, was suddenly accused by a fellow Democrat of sexual assault.

It gets better. The Atlantic reports:

“Fairfax has emphatically denied any wrongdoing and says he had a consensual sexual encounter with his accuser, Vanessa Tyson, a professor of politics at Scripps College. (He has also accusedLevar Stoney, a rival Democrat who is mayor of Richmond, of spreading the story. Stoney denies doing so.) This week, Tyson hired the same law firm that represented Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her in high school. Fairfax has also refused to resign.”

So now Virginia’s top three Democrat officials are simultaneously accused of advocating infanticide, displaying racial bigotry and committing sexual assault. […]

What’s happened in Virginia is that the cultural firebombs that the left repeatedly throws at its opponents over race, sexual violence and abortion have suddenly blown back at them and are setting their hair alight. As Rich Lowry writes, in the coming primary season no Democrat will be safe.

“Any lapses will be interpreted through the most hostile lens, made all the more brutal by the competition of a large field of candidates vying for the approval of a radicalized base. The Democrat nomination battle might as well be fought on the campus of Oberlin College and officiated by the director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion”.

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

Meanwhile, over a sickening culture of institutionalised dehumanisation no liberal progressive turns a hair. Why should they? They created it.

In other words, conservatives are fighting back, using the tools the Dims developed and have been using forever. It’s time and way past time.

The Democratic Party is brutalised and degraded, perhaps irrevocably. And millions of decent Americans are watching this political and cultural death spiral, and drawing their own horrified conclusions.

As that old Progressive Democrat Harry S Truman said, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Thank God.

Venezuela, Corbyn, and Brexit

Dan Hannan, MEP for SE England, on Venezuela, via Conservative Home. Good Stuff.

To grasp the full extent of Venezuela’s tragedy, consider just one statistic. In 1959, GDP per head in Venezuela was 10 per cent higher than in the United States. That’s right. Venezuela wasn’t just the richest country in Latin America; it was one of the richest countries on the planet.

When I was growing up in Peru in the 1970s, Venezuela was the place people aspired to emigrate to. Not just from South America, either. People came in their tens of thousands from southern Europe in search of a better life.

One man, even during those plentiful years, fretted about the future. Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, a former Venezuelan energy minister and a founder of OPEC, pronounced what now looks like a spookily apt prophecy in 1976: “Ten years from now, 20 years from now, you will see, oil will ruin us.”

In the event, he was out by 20 years: the ruin came in the 2000s. And for once the word “ruin” is literally accurate. Inflation in Venezuela is running at ten million per cent. There are verified deaths from malnutrition. Far from importing immigrants, the country has lost three million people since Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution, the worst refugee crisis in the history of the Western hemisphere.

What caused a collapse on this scale? Was it the “resources curse”, the name economists give to Pérez Alfonzo’s theory that unearned wealth wrecks an economy? Was it, as Corbynistas are now claiming, external sabotage? Or was it something else?

It is certainly true that oil can have a devastating effect on a country’s political system. Think of Iraq, Iran, Nigeria or Russia. Politics becomes a scramble for what Pérez Alfonzo called “the devil’s excrement”. To be more precise, the politicians who can place themselves between oil reserves and oil companies can make such vast fortunes that they can buy elections with their loose change.

But the “resources curse” is not inevitable. It did not destroy democracy in, say, Norway or Alberta. Several Gulf states – perhaps because they are aware of Pérez Alfonzo’s gloomy thesis – are now careful to place some of their oil bonanzas in sovereign wealth funds, aimed at diversifying their economies.

In the case of Venezuela, the spike in the cost of a barrel of oil during the early Chávez years had the effect of temporarily masking the worst effects of his policies. “There are no good or bad presidents,” Venezuelans say, “only presidents when the oil price is high, and when it’s low”. Chávez, needless to say, did not use his oil bonus to diversify the economy or build up reserves. He used it to cover the massive costs caused by his imposition of price controls, nationalisation and exchange controls. Anything he had left over went to backing Leftist insurgents elsewhere in Latin America. It was during those early years that the international Left (not only Momentum types) lectured the rest of us about how the rest of us ought to copy the Venezuelan example.

When the oil boom ended, the calamity of the command economy caught up with Venezuela. Like every other socialist strongman in human history, Chávez had made people poorer. Much poorer. Stories of hunger and emigration spread, opposition groups were harassed or closed down, but overseas Leftists still wanted to support the regime. So they began to claim that US sanctions were to blame. In fact, the only US sanctions in place before August 2017 were asset freezes and travel bans aimed at a handful of Chavista politicians and their cronies. (Many of the children of Venezuela’s socialist élite have scandalised their countrymen with their conspicuous consumption at luxury resorts around the world, and Chávez’s daughter is said to be worth four billion dollars.) There is no way that such personalised micro-sanctions could conceivably have harmed the Venezuelan economy as a whole. Even after 2017, eight years into the economic crisis, the sanctions were extended only to a ban on buying government bonds or bonds in state-owned enterprises.

He goes on to show how Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party still worship at Maduro’s feet, it’s both true and sad. It’s also one reason that Teresa May remains Prime Minister, very few people can stomach the thought of Corbyn as PM, nor does anyone appear willing to take on May in the Tories. In short, they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Sad, not least because it functions as a spanner in the gears to properly negotiating Brexit as well. Yes, I know not everything is Brexit, and yet Brexit is so fundamental, to Britain moving forward, that almost everything is.

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