Monday, March 17, 2014

Putin is more democratic than John Kerry

Failed Presidential candidate John Kerry seems to have been left in charge of American policy in Ukraine by virtue of the black jellyfish in the White House being afraid to do anything at all.  I would argue however that in this case the jellyfish is right.

After the democratically elected president of all Ukraine was ousted by Ukrainian thugs, Putin has stepped in to enable the people of Crimea to democratically divorce themselves from unstable  Ukraine.  So who is the democrat here?  John Kerry is supporting the undemocratic Ukraininan thugs and resisting democracy in Crimea.  Putin is the good guy.

And Putin had previously made no moves to get Crimea back into union with Russia  -- even though Crimea had been Russian for hundreds of years.  The only thing that severed Crimea from Russia was a decree from Soviet dictator Khrushchev.  So is Kerry supporting the ideas of a Soviet dictator?

There is no doubt that Crimea will vote for a reunion with Russia and it is a credit to Putin that he waited for Ukraine to become ungovernable before he put those wheels into motion.

The basic aim of Putin's policy so far seems to be motivated by Russia's demographic decline.  Russians are dying out and Putin want to bring Russian populations everywhere back into Russia's embrace and thus protect Russian power.  He accepted some returns of ethnic Russians from the Baltic States for that reason and he also chipped off Georgia's Russian-speaking regions for that purpose.  Crimea is simply the next obvious step in rejoining Russians to Russia

Given that basic aim, it seems likely that Putin will not stop at Crimea.  Large areas of Ukraine are Russian speaking so it seems very likely that Putin will give support for the partition of Ukraine into East and West.  And given the precedent in Crimea, that will most likely be done democratically.  There is no doubt that the respective populations would support such a partition.

And what is wrong with partitioning Ukraine?  Britain is at the moment agonizing over whether Scotland should be partitioned off from England and no-one is calling that undemocratic  --JR.


Henry Thomas Schäfer

Some years ago I was given a framed print of a famous painting by Schäfer.  I like it and have it on my wall to this day.  And I am not alone in liking it.  Thousands of such prints seem to have been made.  Schafer has been a very popular artist.

So I was surprised that when I Googled his name, I could find out virtually nothing about his life.  I gather that his art is seen as "chocolate boxy" and hence below the notice of anybody seriously interested in art.  I of course deplore such elitism so would like to put a decent biography of him online if I can get more information on him.  I reproduce below the only two biographical notes I could find and hope that there might be a reader of this blog who can tell me more.

"Henry Thomas Schafer was born in the Lake District in England during the mid 19th-century. His exact birth date is unknown; however, his work was most well known from 1873 - 1915. Both a painter and an accomplished sculptor, Schafer exhibited his figurative studies at the Royal Academy in London in 1875, receiving the prestigious Academia award for excellence. Schafer's signature style was his study of women dressed in "goddess-like" classical vestments. It is for these portraits that he is best remembered."

"Henry Thomas Schäfer (British, 1854?-1915).  Henry Thomas Schäfer is a British Victorian-era genre painter and sculptor, elected in 1889 to the Royal Society of British Artists. He exhibited at the Royal Society, the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy, and other galleries starting in 1873. Several of his paintings have been widely reproduced and distributed in the form of posters."

Below is the picture that hangs on my wall

A Time of Roses


Dupes and Hypocrites: Communism’s Fellow-Travellers in the West

“Tomorrow I leave this land of hope and return to our Western countries of despair,” declared British playwright Bernard Shaw, as he embarked on his return journey from the Soviet Union in 1931.1 American writer and critic Edmund Wilson expressed similar sentiments in 1936: “. . . you feel in the Soviet Union that you are at the moral top of the world where the light never really goes out . . .”

It is astonishing that such comments could have been made about Soviet Russia at a time when Stalin, its bloodiest-ever dictator, was murdering millions of people in internal repression. But these statements reflected the mindset of all too many pro-Communist, Western intellectuals of that period. Referring to Stalin’s multiple purges, British historian George Watson wrote in 1973, “Between 1933 and 1939 many (and perhaps most) British intellectuals under the age of fifty, and a good many in other Western lands, knowingly supported the greatest act of mass murder in human history.” Other scholars have reached similar judgements about the culpability of Communism’s “fellow-travellers” in the West. From the 1920s to the 1980s, at least two generations of leftist intellectuals embraced one oppressive Communist regime after another, whilst remaining fiercely critical of their own imperfect but free societies.

It should be noted, though, that their zeal had its limits when it came to their personal fortunes. Of this type of tourist, American writer Eugene Lyons wrote, “They guarded their foreign passports like the apple of their eye while sizzling with enthusiasm over this ‘new Soviet civilization.’” It was also reported that “another ardent fellow-traveller, Lion Feuchtwanger, was once asked why he didn’t move to the country he praised so regularly [i.e. the Soviet Union]; and the novelist replied, ‘What do you think I am—a fool?’”

This recurring pattern of hypocrisy and double standards first raised its head in relation to Soviet Russia, but as disillusion with Russian Communism at last set in during the 1950s, it did not result in leftist intellectuals’ abandonment of Communism. They merely transferred their emotional allegiance, and their double standards, to a new set of Communist countries in the 1960s and 1970s: Red China (“The Maoist revolution is on the whole the best thing that has happened to the Chinese people in many centuries . . .”); Cuba (“[T]he first purposeful society that we have had in the Western hemisphere for many years—it’s the first society where human beings are treated as human beings, where men have a certain dignity, and where this is guaranteed to them.”); and North Vietnam (“[A] humane socialism . . . was evident in the unembarrassed handclasps among men, the poetry and song at the center of man-woman relationships, the freedom to weep practiced by everyone…as the Vietnamese speak of their country.”).

How is it possible that so many highly intelligent people could be hyper-critical of their own societies and yet totally wedded to the advancement of totalitarian socialist revolutions responsible for some of the greatest crimes against humanity in history? Certainly, their rejection of Christianity was a major factor, and it manifested itself in several unfortunate ways: (1) contempt for Western society in general, which is built largely within a Christian worldview; (2) indifference to God’s law, which forbids much of what drives and sustains totalitarian regimes—covetousness, theft, and even murder; and (3) substitution of a manmade “workers’ paradise” for the kingdom of God, for which their hearts long, but whose Lord they cannot tolerate. Communism, then, became their new faith, one fiercely held. As Gustave Le Bon observed as early as 1899, “Thanks to its promises of regeneration . . . Socialism is becoming a belief of a religious character.”  History, though, has used Communism to teach once again that when men promise “heaven on earth,” the result is something more nearly akin to hell.



Black skin trumps all else?


POLITICO Doesn’t Know Much About Conservatism

POLITICO, Allbritton Communications’ flagship web, video and print outlet has, in seven short years, become the preferred media of the DC elite. However, despite the stellar resumes of POLITICO’s journalists, a recent article titled “Right-left immigration alliance fraying,” by assistant editor Seung Min Kim, constituted such an egregious act of journalism malpractice that it shows the writers at POLITICO don’t really know jack about conservatism and the conservative movement.

Miss Kim’s error was to identify the US Chamber of Commerce and other backers of amnesty for illegal aliens as “conservatives” and to claim that a broad coalition of such “conservatives” backs amnesty and the outrage the Senate passed in the Rubio – Obama immigration “reform” bill.

The notion that the US Chamber is “conservative” is such a gross mischaracterization of what it means to be a political conservative today that it must be seen as wilful ignorance of the history of the conservative movement and POLITICO’s own reporting about the civil war in the Republican Party.

What Miss Kim, who has a Masters in Journalism, apparently missed in all of that education is that the US Chamber and other members of the Big Business – Big Government axis are among the interests opposed by the conservative movement, and particularly by the limited government constitutional conservatives who are today the movement’s most active grassroots adherents.

Divide the pros from the cons in any of the major Capitol Hill legislative battles since the Tea Party wave election of 2010 and you will find the US Chamber on one side and movement conservatives on the other.

Cut, Cap and Balance back in 2009 – conservatives were for it, Big Business was opposed.

Keeping the sequester caps? Conservatives wanted to keep them, Big Business wanted more spending.

The fight over defunding Obamacare and spending that shutdown the government? The US Chamber was and is always opposed when the House acts to use the power of the purse that the Constitution gives it to rein-in an overweening executive branch.

Indeed, a couple of years ago US Chamber President Tom Donohue had the gall to tell conservative opponents of raising the debt ceiling to raise the debt ceiling or we, meaning the Chamber, will get rid of you.

As for the idea that there is a “center-right coalition” led by the Chamber behind the push for amnesty for illegal aliens that is the central premise of Miss Kim’s article, we’d like to have a list of organizations that movement conservatives identify as “conservative” that have signed-on, because we can’t find any.

Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum? Opposed to amnesty.

The Heritage Foundation? Opposed to amnesty.

Richard Viguerie’s Opposed to amnesty.

The major Tea Party movement groups? Opposed to amnesty.

RedState, Human Events, WND? All opposed to amnesty as far as we can tell.

And the major media voices on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin to name but a few; all opposed to amnesty.

As for the legislators who Miss Kim cites as making up the “conservative” supporters of amnesty, such as California Republican Congressmen David Valadao and Jeff Denham, neither of them even broke 40% on the Heritage Action for America scorecard, placing them well behind conservative members of Congress such as their fellow Californian, and Chamber political target, Tom McClintock’s 96% rating.

But we can’t lay the blame on Miss Kim entirely.

The experienced establishment journalists in the top echelons of POLITICO, such as Jim VandeHei (formerly of The Washington Post) and Rick Berke (formerly of The New York Times) should know better than to allow a writer to call the US Chamber "conservative," but apparently they too missed how conservatism has defined itself over the past fifty years, nor are they apparently reading their own team's reporting on the movement conservatives versus Big Business civil war in today’s Republican Party.

In the days prior to World War II when major business leaders, such as Henry Ford, advocated a non-interventionist foreign policy, it might have been credible to argue that the American “business community” as represented by the US Chamber was “conservative,” but those days are long gone.

The fault line in today’s politics isn’t between Democrats and Republicans. It is between advocates of Big Government in both major parties and conservative proponents of limited constitutional government.  When viewed from that perspective, the US Chamber isn’t conservative; it is one of the leading impediments to the conservative governance of America, and the journalists at POLITICO and other establishment media outlets ought to be clued-in to conservative politics enough to understand that and report the news that way.



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