Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Tea with Neagu Djuvara on my birthday

A nice birthday present was being invited to tea by Neagu Djuvara, the 100-year old Romanian historian and thinker.

I was pleased that my Romanian was good enough to understand pretty much every word he said. He welcomes Trump's election - Trump is the sort of 'primitive peasant' who is needed, 'a bull', rather than Hillary, who is 'too harmless'.

But he does not think Russia a threat to Romania - it's simply Romanians' habit to think Russia a danger. The real danger is Muslim immigration and the inevitable Muslim conquest of Europe.

He slightly offended the woman friend I brought with me, whom he seemed to enjoy, by saying she was was 'too intellectual for a woman'. She was not offended on behalf of her sex but because he might have meant she was not attractive. I saw yet again the unbridgeable chasm that separates Romanian from British thinking. 

I think he was flirting, but with 100 year-old savants it's not easy to tell.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

It's simply a question

Defence experts are convinced that defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq will disperse an Islamist diaspora that will wreak havoc in Europe, In that case, why don't we forget about destroying ISIS in the Middle East?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Morally disgusting people praise Castro

Before the Castro tributes, the last time left-wingers were so funny was when Marchais, Yasser Arafat and the others welcomed the Moscow coup in 1991.

But it's not just the left. The BBC are kinder to Castro than they were to Lady Thatcher when she died:

“His critics accused him of being a dictator.”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin has opened a Book of Condolence for Fidel Castro to allow the people of Dublin to "pay their own respects", which is reminiscent of Eamonn de Valera signing the book of condolences in the German Embassy in 1945 on the death of Hitler.

Americans disapprove of it but owe their country's existence to colonialism

It's strange that Americans owe their country's existence to colonialism but are so prejudiced against it.

Other people's colonialism, that is. They have their own colonial empire. Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska, various islands, Cuba and the Philippines in the past, Europe west of Russia.

All the USA east of the original 13 colonies is the result of American colonialism, I suppose. Including the lands taken from Mexico, that the Mexicans are now reoccupying.

AJP Taylor, the greatest 20th century British historian said: 

“If the Germans had succeeded in exterminating their Slav neighbors as the Anglo-Saxons in North America succeeded in exterminating the Indians, the effect would have been what it has been on the Americans: the Germans would have become advocates of brotherly love and international reconciliation."

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Juncker, Hollande and Corbyn praise Castro, Trump rejoices

European Commission - Statement

Statement by President Juncker on the passing away of Fidel Castro

Brussels, 26 November 2016
Fidel Castro was one of the historic figures of the past century and the embodiment of the Cuban Revolution. With the death of Fidel Castro, the world has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond. Fidel Castro remains one of the revolutionary figures of the 20th century. His legacy will be judged by history. 
I convey my condolences to the Cuban President Raúl Castro and his family and to the people of Cuba

He has not so far gone as far as Eamonn De Valera who signed the book of condolence at the German embassy on Adolf Hitler's death.  

French President Francois Hollande has mourned the loss the "towering" former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, while noting concerns over human rights under his regime.

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hailed Fidel Castro as a “champion of social justice”, following the announcement of the former Cuban leader’s death, admitted there were “flaws” in the revolutionary leader’s long rule over the Caribbean island, but praised him as a “huge figure of modern history”.

Mr Corbyn said: 
“Fidel Castro’s death marks the passing of a huge figure of modern history, national independence and 20th century socialism. From building a world class health and education system, to Cuba’s record of international solidarity abroad, Castro’s achievements were many.For all his flaws, Castro’s support for Angola played a crucial role in bringing an end to Apartheid in South Africa, and he will be remembered both as an internationalist and a champion of social justice.”

They all sound much more enthusiastic about Castro than about Donald Trump and much politer. 

The kind words for Castro remind me of Tony Benn signing the book of condolence at the Chinese Embassy on Mao's death. Benn said in his diary that he was “a great admirer of Mao", though he "made mistakes, because everybody does”.

Gap in the Curtain

I'm thinking about The Gap in the Curtain, a novel I once read by John Buchan, about a professor at a house party who enables guests to have a glimpse of a copy of The Times published one year in the future. Had I had a glimpse of today's paper 18 months ago and seen Donald Trump was US President-elect, Britain was leaving the EU. Angela Merkel had invited millions of migrants without papers into Germany and JEREMY CORBYN was Leader of the Labour Party I'd have fallen about laughing and known the professor was a howling fraud.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

I doubt if we can trust the figures for war dead in Syria. They are said to be between 301,781 (very precise) and 470,000.

When I was in Hama in 2006 I was told by my guide that 60,000 died there in the uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982. I see the number usually reported is 30,000. Sharmine Narwani in the Guardian in 2013 estimated it at 2,000.

Bill Clinton in 1999, said in fighting in Bosnia Croatia and Kosovo around 250,000 had died. Now people say 130,000.

Thoughts of the Day

[Mr. Renzi's] defeat has not made the eventual break-up of the euro more certain, because that is coming anyway. It has simply made it more obvious. William Hague

EU failures: 1 Monetary union 2 Foreign policy (MENA, Ukraine) 3 Migration policy 4 Radical Islam policy. EU deserved Brexit.

Refer to law lords as enemies of the people, and you're a fascist. Refer to ordinary people as a racist, moronic mob whose bovine idiocy has plunged the world into mayhem, and you're a liberal. 2016, you are drunk, time for bed. Brendan O'Neill

“Populism” is a scare word meant to delegitimize rebellions against political establishments and mainstream elites. It draws together under the same big, scary tent parties and causes that have a little in common otherwise. There is no “populist” ideology that unites these various dissidents the way Marxist ideology united international socialists for more than a century. John O'Sullivan

Thought of the Day

Fidel Castro has finally died

Fidel Castro has finally died. Many (most?) in Cuba are rejoicing secretly. But many are mourning, I imagine.

I used to think it interesting that Mao, Franco and Tito were still alive. That's a while back. "Eheu fugaces!' (I was very precociously interested in history as a very young boy.)

Donne said "Any man's death diminishes me" but Castro's not so much. Yet, oddly, there is always a slight sadness at the end of any era, even an evil one, though his era does not die with him. A number of people I met in Cuba liked him. Of course people were in tears when Stalin died.

In Miami, they are celebrating wildly in the streets.

Castro reminds me of the Communist turned Catholic Dorothy Day's remark
"Becoming a saint is the revolution." 
In 1960, she praised Fidel Castro's "promise of social justice" and that year she travelled to Cuba and reported her experiences in a four-part series in the Catholic Worker. In the first of these, she wrote: 
"I am most of all interested in the religious life of the people and so must not be on the side of a regime that favors the extirpation of religion. On the other hand, when that regime is bending all its efforts to make a good life for the people, a naturally good life (on which grace can build) one cannot help but be in favor of the measures taken." 
A number of other Catholics, like Graham Greene, admired Castro. But his ideas, predictably, failed Cuba, except for the poorest 10%. They were better off than they would have been in a free country.

There were signs that in his last years Castro took an interest in the Catholicism that he rejected in his youth. When he met Pope Francis the Cuban asked him to send him some books to answer questions that he had. I hope that, like Gustav Husak the Czech dictator, he made a deathbed conversion. He had become friendly with a Bolivian friar before his death.

Praising Castro never went out of fashion in the West (or in the Third World). I remember Arthur Scargill being asked by Michael Parkinson where socialism had worked and his reply 'Cuba'. But things changed when Michael Frayn reported that Cuba was throwing homosexuals into gaol. This was much worse in they eyes of the left than having political dissidents put in gaol. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The purpose of a nation is to exclude people

The purpose of a nation, like any other club, or like any house or dwelling, is to exclude people. This is its raison d'être. Discuss.

Excluding others is one important purpose of states, rather than countries, I suppose. I am not sure countries or nations should have purposes. I rather think they shouldn't.

Trump defeated the Democrats and the Republicans

Donald Trump's victory was a defeat not just for the Democrats but also for the Republicans. 'Compassionate conservative' George W Bush was a high spending liberal at home and abroad followed a typically Democrat foreign policy, in the tradition of LBJ, Kennedy, FDR and Wilson. He was pro-immigration and pro-amnesty. Had he campaigned in 2000 on a policy of deporting illegals and reducing immigration he would have won enough blue-collar votes to have won the popular vote irrespective of hanging chads. But he regards such ideas as immoral, as the Republican establishment even now does too.

The Tea Party was much more small state than Donald Trump but it was an important forerunner of Trump's success and a sign of popular disaffection with both parties. Before the Tea Party there were Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan.

Liberals should regret having defeated Mitt Romney in 2012. For them it was a Pyrrhic victory.

Kevin Myers in the Sunday Times

"The underlying problem is that, for liberals, reality is defined by their emotions. If something makes them feel good, it must be right. Overthrowing Muammar Gadaffi felt good; and look at the calamitous result. Trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad also felt good; one US strike recently killed 80 Syrian soldiers. Yet no liberal outcry followed this attack on the Muslim troops of a sovereign government.

As for Trump and the Mexican border, there could be more than 20m illegals in America. Such huge population-transfers cannot continue indefinitely without enormous social consequences. You might argue that walls don’t work, but some do; hence the drop in cross-border suicide attacks in Israel. The iron curtain was ugly, yes, but functioned for 45 years. And as for Trump’s attitude to Islamic mass immigration, answer this question honestly. If Ireland were to admit 10,000 unscreened immigrants of one ethno-religious group, state your order of preference: Orthodox Ethiopians, Nigerian Catholics, Somali Muslims, Burmese Buddhists, Egyptian Copts."

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Queen in this game is the Ace

The Queen will invite Donald Trump to Windsor speedily. She is the UK's not so secret weapon.

She meets all sorts in her job: Ceausescu, whom she knighted and later unknighted, the head of the IRA whose name I shall not utter, Mr. Corbyn, the Emperor Hirohito. 

Her grandfather knighted Mussolini and her father stripped him of the title, though I doubt he cared.

Mrs. May is 'trumping' Mr. Farage's card.

This is only the start of a religious war

"A world is collapsing before our eyes," tweeted the French ambassador to the USA, Gerard Araud, as it became clear Trump had won. He deleted it later but he was right, of course. As I watched, I suddenly felt sure that the election of Trump, with all his grave faults, was a last-minute victory for common sense in America and Europe.
But, if I hadn't thought that then, the reaction of his opponents in the USA and in Europe would have convinced me. One or two of the craziest American 'liberals' talk of resistance (armed?) or of killing Trump. 

The New York Times ran a piece by Californian Daniel Duane who said of his fellow Californians, "nearly everyone I know would vote yes tomorrow if we could secede" from the United States. These are the people who are horrified by Confederate flags.

The mainstream liberals compare the result to September 11 and routinely compare the President elect to Hitler or Mussolini. The liberal papers print misleading nonsense and untruths, while complaining about fake (conservative) news, which Twitter is trying to suppress by blocking Breitbart writers etc. 

Liberal tears were enjoyable, but now the power of the liberal American establishment begins to frighten me.
Trump and his first appointments are extremely Philo-Semitic and supportive of Israel, intend scrapping the accommodation with Iran (which saddens me) and yet are accused of being Anti-Semites, without any rational grounds.
Gerard Baker in the Spectator said that condemnation of Trump’s victory was taken up like the call of the muezzin from the media’s minarets.
"Much of New York City stumbled around in the fog of mourning. The principal of the school to which a colleague sends his child sent a note to parents explaining how the school would lead their children through their grief. ‘And now when we most want to weep and mourn, we must come to work and be a source of both solace and inspiration to all our young students,’ it said." 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Donald Trump: Like the Roman

I heard Tom Holland, the ancient historian who went to my college, talking interestingly on the BBC about the things Donald Trump has in common with Caligula and Nero. 

It caught my attention because I made a similar point in this blog recently, though I compared Mr Trump with the later Roman emperors of the years of decline, when defending the borders was a problem. I said,

I increasingly feel that we may be living in a period like the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the golden age where Gibbon starts his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Come to think of it, there is something of an outlandish late Roman emperor about Donald Trump, perhaps a rich wheat importer who got his position in an auction held by the Praetorian guard. 
One can imagine Melania in Ancient Rome too, reclining on a lectus, something that resembled a chaise longue.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Left in deep mourning

How long ago 22 October seems..
"Aboard her plane, Clinton told reporters she is now looking past Trump entirely, delivering the ultimate insult for a celebrity showman who for decades has made a living of capturing attention.
“I debated him for four and a half hours. I don’t even think about responding to him anymore,” Clinton said when asked about Trump’s charge of a media conspiracy. “He can say whatever he wants to. He can run his campaign however he wants to, he can go off on tangents, he can go to Gettysburg and say he’s gonna sue women who’ve made accusations against him. I’m going to keep talking about what we want to do.”Increasingly, though, she’s talking about electing other Democrats who will help her do it. Democrats are hoping to win back the majority in the Senate and some are even dreaming that a tanking Trump could help them take control of the House despite what is currently a historically large Republican majority."

Though there were one or two voices, such as Helmut Norpoth's, 
that continued to say Trump was sure of victory.

He himself a week before the election seemed, to at least one British journalist, as if he had lost hope. But almost everything you have read this year or will read in the future is written by people who hate Trump. 

On the night he was very cautious before he believed finally that he had won. He's superstitious which is why he hadn't planned who would be in his administration before he won. He knows the gods punish hubris. 

Hillary knows that now. Or rather she probably doesn't. She thinks, as she said through tears on election night, that the FBI cost her the election. An election win to which she felt entitled.

One doesn't want to sound hard hearted but the deluge of tears for Hillary is blackly funny. Journalists were most distraught.  One compared sitting through the election results to an out of body experience. 

Hillary broke down in floods of tears and was unable to make a concession speech until the next day.

This lady in Slate said what many others think and say.

There’s No Such Thing as a Good Trump Voter

People voted for a racist who promised racist outcomes. They don’t deserve your empathy.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

"Post-truth" politics

"Post-truth" is Oxford Dictionaries' 'Word of the Year 2016'. When did a 'word' so annoy me? Not since Islamophobia? 

What I hate about the word 'post-truth', more than its mendacity, is its smugness. And the way it is a value judgement which people who use it think is an objective assessment. 

Because they think their opinions are objectively true and those who disagree are rather thick (or racists, or both). 

It goes with putting bureaucracy in place of democracy, which is how the EU works. Committees of intelligent, objective experts can decide the big issues, critiqued intelligently by Oxbridge arts graduates, who work for the Economist or the BBC and only have everyone's best interests at heart.

Suddenly the gates of the PC prison start to open: II

Identity politics is a bag of snakes. Hillary lost due to black identity politics in 2008 and due to white identity politics in 2016. Hoist by her own petard.

To mix metaphors.

But it was not just about Hillary, who was certainly a weak candidate. Moderate and left-wing Democrats lost seats in Congress and in the states. 

Would another better Democrat candidate have won? Joe Biden is a nice man, but in a change election he, like Hillary, was the same old, same old. More left-wing candidates would have had the same problem.

And would another Republican candidate have done better or as well as the Donald?

Jeb Bush had no chance with an electorate that wanted something new. John Kasich sought fastidiously to distance himself from most of his party during the primaries, in the way that McCain did in 2012. This is why he wasn't nominated. Ted Cruz would have terrified many of the Democrats who switched parties to vote for Trump. Marco Rubio was nice but too callow and inexperienced. Cruz and Rubio had both favoured a partial amnesty for illegal immigrants before they changed their minds. Mitt Romney, who in his career in private equity (a.k.a. asset stripping) laid off so many workers, was not going to appeal to voters in the rust belt.

Was it a sudden decision by voters on the day to take a gamble on Donald Trump? The Washington Post has data to suggest that it was

Yet Brad Parscale, Trump's data analyst, was sure by the Saturday before polling day that Mr. Trump was going to win. 

He says that votes were moving Mr. Trump's way before the FBI Director's shock announcement that further emails from Hillary had been discovered on Anthony Weiner's laptop. He thinks that neither the FBI nor the groping allegations changed the outcome. Trump won because people wanted change.

White identity politics appeared for the first time at this election and was the timely reaction to PC, a crazy way of thinking which was kept in place by rigorous thought policing. 

Ann Coulter yesterday had fun with this stuff.

In the modern Democratic Party, out-of-work coal miners are constantly denounced for their "privilege" by half-black girls at Yale -- who wouldn't have gotten in without the black half -- and who will be paid a quarter-million dollars as the "diversity coordinator" at some Fortune 500 corporation.
This was the kind of stuff to which many voters who don't like him hope that Trump will be the antidote. 

Suddenly the gates of the PC prison start to open

As  Rod Liddle said,

Their time has gone. Suddenly THEY are on the wrong side of history.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Will Italy be next and then France?

David McWilliams writes in the Irish Independent about the forthcoming Italian referendum on reforming the constitution, under the headline:

Why Italy is the next country to fall to Trumpism

'In terms of the big picture, the Italian election can be seen as yet another domino in a year of falling dominos. First we had Brexit, then Trump, and the next big one for Europe after Italy is the potential rise of Le Pen in France. Italy is the triplet in a quartet that will culminate in France, and, in my opinion, if the Italian elite loses on December 4, Marine Le Pen will win in France.'
The referendum is to approve or not proposed changes to the constitution, but a No vote, widely expected, may be take to be a vote to unseat the Prime Minister. He has threatened (or promised) to resign if the proposed reforms are voted down). This will precipitate a general election in which the Five Star Party will campaign to leave the euro.

That is in the future. The Five Star Party would need an absolute majority in both chambers of Parliament to hold a referendum on leaving the euro, but David McWilliams can imagine it happening.

Could Italy turn its back on the EU? Of course it could. In fact, why wouldn't it? Any country that can change sides in a world war is politically capable of changing its currency, don't you think?

The referendum is to approve or not proposed changes to the constitution, but a No vote, widely expected, may be take to be a vote to unseat the Prime Minister. He has threatened (or promised) to resign if the proposed reforms are voted down). This will precipitate a general election in which the Star Party will campaign to leave the euro.

That is in the future. The Five Star Party would need an absolute majority in both chambers of Parliament to hold a referendum on leaving the euro, but David McWilliams can imagine it happening.

Could Italy turn its back on the EU? Of course it could. In fact, why wouldn't it? Any country that can change sides in a world war is politically capable of changing its currency, don't you think?

I doubt that Marine Le Pen will become president next year, partly because France does not want to leave the EU, which she considers a modern version of Napoleon's empire. But it is not impossible. Brexit and Trump have shown us (the French included) that nothing is.

Donald Trump will find out that the powers of the US President are surprisingly curtailed. Those of the French president, when the government is not of his party, are very much more so. 

But, if she did defy the odds and reach the Élysée Palace, would Marine Le Pen's party then come to power on her coat-tails?

We live in interesting times. I learnt recently that 'may you live in interesting times' is not in fact a Chinese curse. I wonder if President Le Pen would be a curse or not. 

She wants to nationalise some banks, which sounds very alarming, though one remembers that Gordon Brown nationalised RBS and Lloyds. 

France’s three major banks – Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP), Société Générale and Crédit Lyonnais – were taken over by the state after the Second World War, and remained nationalised for half a century. President Francois Mitterrand’s socialist government nationalised the rest of the banking system in the 1980s. Most have now been privatised, Crédit Lyonnais only fully in 1999.

I wonder, especially when I see how even well-informed foreigners misunderstand Brexit, how often anyone ever understand's a foreign country's politics.

Barack Obama's legacy: Donald Trump

History will remember Barack Obama as the first mixed-race President (Eisenhower, who was what used to be called an octoroon, doesn't count), but mostly for creating the conditions that led to Donald Trump becoming President. Mr. Obama's foreign policy will be forgotten. It was forgettable at the time and perhaps this is no bad thing.

Obamacare will be forgotten if Mr Trump, as he says he will, replaces it with something else.

ISIS also contributed a great deal to Donald Trump's victory, of course, as did Angela Merkel. Her legacy may be not just Brexit (which was only secondarily about immigration) but President Le Pen. I start to hope that Angela Merkel's migrants policy does not signal the end of Europe but will be, like the ISIS attacks, the catalyst for change in thinking, a peaceful democratic bottom-up revolution.


I just spoke to an English political scientist, a Liberal Democrat, who told me the problem of terrorism is not caused by Islam but one interpretation of it. I said there will always be problems sharing Europe with Muslims because their religion lends itself to these interpretations. He said that Christianity did the same and mentioned Northern Ireland. I said that that problem was mostly an ethnic conflict and caused by mass immigration - like the Arab-Israel dispute. He had reluctantly to agree. He's pro-immigration but pro-Arab and pro-Catholic in Northern Ireland, so he was checkmated.

Like most political scientists he knows little or no history. Political science is a phoney discipline.