Friday, June 12, 2009

Australia: TV comedy boss demoted over cruel program

I am glad someone has got the bullet over this horrible affair. How could any decent person laugh at terminally ill children and tell them that they "are going to die anyway"? The ABC (Australia's major public broadcaster) is of course heavily Left-leaning and this episode was yet another example of the Leftist emotional insensitivity that I discussed recently. More background on the story here

The ABC has demoted its head of TV comedy, Amanda Duthie, over last week's controversial Chaser skit about sick children, saying her failure to stop the segment going to air was an error of judgment. Before yesterday Ms Duthie was one of the ABC's most powerful executives - today her once dazzling career prospects are in limbo, The Australian reports.

ABC managing director Mark Scott announced Ms Duthie had been removed as the head of ABC TV comedy following the airing last week of the sketch on The Chaser's War on Everything that satirised the granting of wishes to terminally ill children through the "Make-a-Realistic-Wish Foundation".

ABC management's decision followed a review of the processes that led to the screening of the segment, causing the program to be suspended from broadcast for two weeks.

"The segment should not have been broadcast," Mr Scott said. "We recognise that it caused unnecessary and unreasonable hurt and offence to our viewers and the broader community and we have apologised for this." Mr Scott said Ms Duthie should have referred the skit to the next level of management as was clearly set out in the ABC's editorial policies. "Where staff are concerned about the potential for satirical material to cause harm they should refer the matter to the next level of management. "In this instance, (Ms Duthie) reviewed the segment and did not refer it up. This was an error of judgment."

A spokesperson for the Chaser team last night responded to Ms Duthie's demotion saying: "We are sorry we put the sketch forward and we think it is a harsh call on Amanda who had, and has, our full support".



Why is the right doing so well in Europe?

For a start, they don't spend like drunken sailors

We've been waiting and waiting, but the widely predicted European backlash—against capitalism, free markets, and the right—has never come. There are no demands for Marxist revolution, no calls for nationalization of industry, not even a European campaign for what the Obama administration calls "stimulus"—a policy more colloquially known as "massive government spending."

On the contrary, in last weekend's European parliamentary elections, capitalism triumphed, at least in its mushy European form. Admittedly, these European polls are a peculiar species of election. Far fewer people vote in them than vote in national elections, and those who do vote are far vaguer about what their Euro deputies actually do once they are elected to the European legislature. The European parliament's gradual accumulation of real power seems to have had no effect whatsoever on its popular image, which is still that of a do-nothing institution composed of clapped-out politicians who cost everybody a fortune in airplane tickets. As a result, fringe parties, including the so-called far right, always attract protest voters and do unusually well.

Nevertheless, European parliamentary elections also provide the only cross-continental simultaneous political snapshot currently available. Although national elections take place at different times and according to different national rules, these most recent, largest-ever European elections took place over a four-day period, according to the same rules, in 27 countries. This time around, with some exceptions, they told an unusually consistent story.

In France, Germany, Italy, and Poland—four of Europe's six largest countries—center-right governments got unexpectedly enthusiastic endorsements. In the two other large countries, Britain and Spain, left-wing ruling parties got hammered, as did socialists in Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, and elsewhere. In some places the results were stark indeed: In London this weekend, I could hardly walk down the street without being assaulted by angry, screaming newspaper headlines, all declaring the Labor government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown weak, corrupt, tired, arrogant, and, yes, very unpopular. In some constituencies, European candidates of the ruling Labor Party finished behind fringe parties that normally don't get noticed at all. So rapidly are British ministers resigning from the Cabinet that it's hard to keep track of them (four in the last week—I think).

But how is it possible that the European right is doing so well—and so much better than their U.S. counterparts—during what is widely described as a crisis of global capitalism? At least in part, the Europeans are winning because their leaders have the courage of their economic convictions. While it is true that the continental European welfare states have kicked into high gear over the last six months, there are few equivalents of either George W. Bush's budget deficits or Barack Obama's spending binge. And where there have been—in Britain, for example—the high spending has hardly bought popularity. The theoretical version of this Euro-American policy gap is the recent public spat between economic historian Niall Ferguson and economist Paul Krugman, both of whom are at least as well known for their newspaper polemics as for their academic writing. Very crudely, Ferguson and the German government think massive deficits and government borrowing will lead to inflation and ultimately the collapse of the currency. Equally crudely, Krugman and the U.S. administration think he's wrong.

For the record, Ferguson is, at least by origin, a British Tory. For the record, there aren't any U.S. Republican polemicists making the same arguments in quite as public a way. With a few exceptions, the American center-right's loudest and most articulate voices have been focused almost exclusively on national security for the better part of the last decade. Lip service was paid to "small government" and "reduced spending" while successive Republican Congresses, hand in hand with a Republican White House, enlarged government and spent like crazy. How can they now criticize Obama's possibly lethal budget deficits when their own were so vast, so recently?

None of this is to say that any of Europe's conservatives would necessarily go down well in the United States. (Picture Silvio Berlusconi, paparazzi and alleged teenage mistresses in tow, campaigning in Mississippi.) It's also true that they don't necessarily have much in common: Allegedly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy can hardly stand to be in the same room at the same time. But if nothing else, the success of the European center-right during the current crisis proves that there is something to their political formula. They are fiscally conservative. They are, if not socially liberal, then at least socially centrist. They haven't been swayed by the fashion for big spending. They are trying to keep some semblance of budget sanity. And, at least at the moment, they win elections.



Capitalism's death announced yet again!

All of the dire and portentous talk about the current “Crisis of Capitalism” carries with it an inescapably familiar, even shopworn feel for all those familiar with recent history. In the “Camelot” era of 1962, African-American activist Malcom X unequivocally announced: “It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture…It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

During the Great Depression, of course, some of the finest minds of the century expected the weakened economic system to disappear altogether. On the eve of FDR’s 1933 inauguration, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr offered an obituary for the old order, written on the assumption that “capitalism is dying and with the conviction that it ought to die.” A member of Congress expressed similar sentiments the same year, as Tom Amlie, a Wisconsin Republican who later returned to the House as a representative of the Progressive Party, told a convention of radicals that the system had no future because Roosevelt wouldn’t spend the huge sums necessary to “keep it alive.” In any event, he declared that “whether capitalism could be kept going for another period of years or not, it is not worth saving.”

A more influential figure of that era, three-term Minnesota Governor Floyd Bjornstjerne Olson, made the destruction of capitalism even more central to his political persona. When asked by visiting journalists whether he considered himself “radical,” the populist governor with the booming voice and larger-than-life personality liked to shock them by announcing “I’m radical as hell!” In 1934, he addressed the convention of his Farmer-Labor Association (the ancestor of today’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party in Minnesota) and explained that he felt tired of “tinkering and patching” and wanted to change the entire business system in his state. The convention obliged by adopting a platform specifically declaring that “capitalism had failed and that immediate steps must be taken by the people to abolish capitalism in a peaceful and lawful manner, and that a new, sane, and just society must be established; a system in which all the natural resources, machinery of production, transportation and communication shall be owned by the government.” Despite the extreme rhetoric of the platform, Olson won re-election in a landslide. He toyed with the idea of challenging FDR from the left as a third party candidate in 1936, but rejected the idea shortly before he died in office of stomach cancer. He was only 44, and remains a wildly popular figure in Minnesota history and folklore.

In the 1930’s, the assumption that the free market system must quickly fall to pieces became so widespread that intellectuals concentrated many of their arguments on selecting the most promising replacement. Lawrence Dennis, former child evangelist, first lieutenant in World War I and Foreign Service officer, passionately rejected both the communist and socialist alternatives. Instead, he became one of the nation’s most influential advocates for fascism in the style of Hitler or Mussolini. In a letter to a friend he wrote, “I should like nothing better than to be a leader or a follower of a Hitler who would crush or destroy many now in power.” In 1932 he published an influential and much-discussed book entitled “Is Capitalism Doomed?” and then answered his own question with his next release, “The Coming American Fascism.”

For many reasons, the commentators, activists and politicians of the 1930’s had far more basis for predicting the end of the free market system than either gloomy conservatives or gleeful leftists in 2009. Most significantly, as the arguments of Lawrence Dennis made clear, developments around the world suggested that the irresistible tides of history favored an international future of Statism. With the unholy trinity of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin riding high in Eurasia, the United States looked increasingly isolated with its capitalist institutions – even as modified and re-arranged and regulated by FDR. Aside from the growing domain of the dictators, huge swaths of the globe had never even developed modern capitalist economies that radicals could reject. China remained paralyzed by a chilling combination of colonialism (both Western and Japanese), feudalism and War Lordism, with Mao’s rebellion already gaining considerable strength. The Japanese Empire ran according to principals of medieval militarism, rejecting the western profit system as soft and corrupt. India remained the “crown jewel” of the British Empire with only the bare rudiments of business development, while colonialism continued to dominate the lives of the vast majority of people in Asia and Africa, with corrupt kleptocracies all but universal in Latin America. Only Canada and a small handful of Western European nations seemed to share the values or economic outlook of the United States and every year brought new progress to the forces of collectivism and dictatorship.

By contrast, the thirty years preceding the economic crisis of 2008-2009 displayed unstoppable momentum in the opposite direction. The embrace of free market ideals became so universal that Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed “The End of History” in 1992. The world’s two most populous nations, China and India, both pursued radical economic reforms to empower the for-profit private economy and reduce central planning (and control) of the economy. The results for both nations involved unimaginably spectacular and consistent growth, and an unprecedented improvement in living standards for nearly half of humanity. China implacably resisted the long-awaited political reforms to accompany its booming economy, and Russia flirted with one-party rule and showed scant respect for civil liberties, but both nations engaged the world economy in distinctly capitalist terms. Putin’s Russia even experimented (mostly successfully) with a flat tax in a demonstration that should provide encouragement for free marketers everywhere. Other former Communist bloc nations of eastern and central Europe not only flocked to join the European Union and NATO but also developed some of the most vibrant capitalist economies on earth.

The notion that the worldwide economic crisis would lead to a global slide toward socialism ran into populist reality in the first weekend of June, 2009. Voting for the European Parliament expressed a continent-wide rejection of left-wing economic prescriptions, with Center-Right parties crushing their Socialist opponents in every nation (except Greece). In France, Germany and Italy, ruling Center-Right coalitions strengthened their standing with the public, while the opposition conservatives in Britain and Spain gained significant ground. Hungary provided one particularly salient example: candidates of the ruling Socialist Party drew only 17% of the vote, while the right wing opposition party gained 56% (and a far-right anti-Gypsy Party earned an additional 15%). Despite the grim talk of an all-but-inevitable march toward socialism, the recent balloting gives evidences of an international surge toward capitalism. In Canada and Israel, market-oriented coalitions also won recent electoral victories, and only in Latin America (with conspicuous exceptions like Mexico and Columbia) have leftist candidates consistently triumphed.

In the United States, the claim that the election of Barack Obama represents a watershed choice and a decisive realignment looks increasingly tenuous in light of recent polling. The most recent Gallup Poll (in May) to ask respondents to state their party affiliation showed an exact tie between Republicans and Democrats at 32% each, with 34% describing themselves as “independents.” Amazingly enough, even these waffling independents looked evenly divided: when asked to express their preference between the two major parties, these non-partisan participants showed an identical number of Republican and Democratic leaners. These numbers represent a dramatic turnaround from the first month after the ’08 election, with the GOP improving its standing by six points, and the Democrats losing seven points of support.

Such polls will shift quickly and unpredictably in the next months and years but the apparent Republican comeback during the first 140 days of Obama’s presidency (with GOP candidates running ahead in both 2009 governorship races in New Jersey and Virginia) indicate that the American people made no significant ideological shift toward collectivism. Even the President’s stratospheric personal popularity hasn’t produced a reliable majority for the big government reforms he favors. In March, the Pew Research Center asked respondents if we are better off “in a free market economy even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time.” A reassuring 70% agreed, while only 20% disagreed.

Fortunately, the future of capitalism rests on a firmer foundation than the vagaries of public polling or even the electoral fates of pro-market candidates and parties. The unprecedented worldwide improvement in living standards in the last century owes everything to the technological innovation, increased productivity and personal choice that characterize economies driven by competition and the profit motive. Beyond political advances or reverses, beyond the variations in the unemployment figures or the foreclosure rate or the Dow Jones, the fundamental changes in the very terms of human life in the last several generations will help to inspire the sort of confidence (and even gratitude) that will protect the capitalist system from widespread public rejection, destruction or dismantling.

Much more HERE


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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