Category: International relations

Greta är en hycklare

Paul Joseph Watson:

Historian Niall Ferguson has slammed Greta Thunberg’s climate change hypocrisy at Davos, asking why “I don’t see her in Beijing or Delhi.”

Teenage environmentalist Thunberg gave another hysterical speech at the global confab yesterday in which she claimed, “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else.”

“We don’t want these things done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021,” Thunberg said. “We want this done now.”

Ferguson, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, questioned why Thunberg isn’t directing her message to the biggest polluters on the planet.

“60% of CO2 emissions since Greta Thunberg was born is attributable to China… but nobody talks about that. They talk as if its somehow Europeans and Americans who are going to fix this problem… which is frustrating because it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter,” said Ferguson.

“If you’re serious about slowing CO2 emissions and temperatures rising it has to be China and India you constrain,” he added, noting that while Greta travels to New York and Davos, “I don’t see her in Beijing or Delhi.”

Ferguson is right. Take the UK for example.

“Britain’s CO2 emissions peaked in 1973 and are now at their lowest level since Victorian times,” reports the Spectator. “Air pollution has plummeted since then, with sulphur dioxide levels down 95 per cent. Britain’s population is rising but our energy consumption peaked in 2001 and has since fallen by 19 per cent.”

This global pollution map published by the WHO perfectly illustrates Ferguson’s point.

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Even if you believe wholeheartedly in the decidedly shaky science behind man-made global warming, the west is more than doing its part. But we’re the ones being lectured to not travel, not eat meat and not have children despite already being in massive demographic decline.

Meanwhile, Africa, India and China continue to wantonly pollute and none of Greta Thunberg’s fury or the attention of the media is ever directed their way.

On top of this, Greta continues to have her message amplified by the likes of Prince ‘4 private jet trips in 11 days’ Harry and Arnold ‘garage full of tanks and muscle cars’ Schwarzenegger.

Iran’s mullahs and their Democratic allies

Victoria Taft:

Congressman Brian Mast, a Republican from Florida, accused his Democratic colleagues of being cowards for their weak-kneed reaction to the killing of Iranian terror-master Qasem Soleimani. Mast made his comments on the House floor Thursday during the debate over the “war powers act resolution.” The Democrats passed the resolution, arguing Trump didn’t have the authority to order the missile strike taking out Soleimani and another top terrorist in Iraq.

Mast served in an ordnance detail in Afghanistan and lost his legs while trying to clear a roadside bomb. Soleimani’s IRGC and Quds Force orchestrated the building of many of those bombs. They were responsible for killing 603 U.S. troops and wounding hundreds, if not thousands, of others.

The congressman walked forcefully to the podium, his prosthetic legs exposed, took a second to tune his verbal flame-thrower, and then put the Democrats on blast.

I know most in here haven’t seen or smelled or touched that kind of death, but let me tell you about it. They were burned alive inside their Humvees. Their lungs were scorched by the flames of the explosions. The vehicle fragments were blown into their skulls. Some of them were paralyzed. Some of them had their arms blown off. Some of them had their legs blown off. Some of them will never see again. Some of them will never be recognized again by those who knew them previously. Each and every one of them – they are the credible explanation for deleting this terrorist target from our world. And, no doubt, it is dangerous to take out a terrorist target, but a coward is somebody who lacks the courage to endure danger” [Emphasis added]

He wasn’t done yet.

And this is the fundamental difference in voting yes or no here. If you vote no you understand that we would be justified to kill 100 Soleimanis for just one of our heroes, that have been killed by him. And the danger would be worth it. For those who vote yes, they see that he has killed hundreds of our service members but still can no find the justification to kill him because, unlike our fallen heroes, they lack the courage to endure danger” [Emphasis added]

Democrats upset with President Trump for killing Soleimani were called out by Mast for lacking “the courage to endure danger,” which he’d just defined as cowardice.

The war powers resolution was a rebuke to President Trump for what Democrats and a couple of Republicans claimed was overstepping his role of commander in chief.

They claim Soleimani isn’t under the previously approved AUMF, the authorization for the use of military force. But not only was the Iranian terror leader an enemy combatant, he was a leader of enemy combatants on the fields of battle in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He had just overseen the assault of the American Embassy in Baghdad. Baghdad, IRAQ.

President Trump said at his rally in Ohio Thursday night that the Iranian Quds Force leader not only wanted to bomb the American Embassy in Baghdad but other embassies as well.

American embassies are favorite targets of terrorist bad guys. Terrorists targeted the U.S. Mission in Benghazi in 2012. In 1998 two American embassies were destroyed by Al Qaeda in Tanzania and Kenya.

Watch Mast’s speech below, but make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1215376088639201280

Calling the elimination of a terrorist an assassination is what anti-Americans do, even if they are Americans. That sounds familiar to Jim Geraghty:

Jeane Kirkpatrick accurately declared: “they always blame Americans first.”

Sure, the Iranian air-defense system would not have been on highest alert this week if the United States had not killed Soleimani outside the Baghdad International Airport January 3. But the Iranians made the choice to fire rockets into Iraq that evening, the Iranian government made the choice to permit civilian air traffic in the hours after their rocket attack, and ultimately it was the Iranian military that fired the surface-to-air missile. You really have to squint and stretch to say that this tragedy — which killed 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, eleven Ukrainians (including the crew members), ten Swedish, seven Afghans, and three Germans — is President Trump’s fault.

One question for the military-technology experts: Does this tragedy stem from poor training on the part of the Iranian military, or does Russian air-defense system equipment do a lousy job of differentiating between civilian airliners and military jets?

Whatever the answer to that question is, the fact remains that right now, the Democratic grassroots believe that Trump is the root of all evil, and all bad things that happen lead back to him in one form or another. There’s a Democratic primary and impeachment battle going on simultaneously. No one of any stature in the Democratic party can afford the political risk of publicly arguing or even acknowledging that anything isn’t Trump’s fault. The Democratic presidential candidates, in particular, have to offer the biggest, most vocal, most emphatic, “yes, you’re right, grassroots” that they possibly can.

“Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat,” Pete Buttigieg declared. The most common term floating around Thursday night was “crossfire,” even though Tuesday night only one side was firing any weapons. Keep in mind, so far in this conflict, the United States military hasn’t fired anything into or in the direction of Iranian territory.

If we really want to extend blame beyond the Iranian military, there is a long list of individuals and institutions who should be standing in line ahead of President Trump. Let’s start with Iranian aviation authorities who kept their local civilian aircraft flying, and the airlines who chose to keep flights taking off shortly after Iranian military action — when no one could know for sure whether the military action had concluded.

About 2 1/2 hours before the Ukraine International Airlines jet with 176 people on board took off, the Federal Aviation Administration issued emergency orders prohibiting American pilots and airlines from flying over Iran, the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Oman.

The notices warned that heightened military activity and political tension in the Middle East posed “an inadvertent risk” to U.S. aircraft “due to the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification.”

Foreign airlines aren’t bound by FAA directives, but they often follow them. In this case, however, several large international carriers — including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways and Aeroflot — continued to fly in and out of Tehran after Iran fired missiles at military bases inside Iraq that house U.S. troops. They still were flying after the FAA warning, and after the Ukrainian jetliner crashed, according to data from Flightradar24, which tracks flights around the world.

“It was awfully peculiar and awfully risky,” said Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. “That’s a theater of war and these guys were acting like there was nothing going on.”

Goelz said airlines should have canceled all flights when Iran fired the missiles.

That Kirkpatrick speech from the 1984 Republican National Convention, linked above, is always worth rereading, because while the particular issues change, the philosophy doesn’t. (Although note one section of her speech dealt with Iranian-backed terrorism: “When our Marines, sent to Lebanon on a multinational peacekeeping mission with the consent of the United States Congress, were murdered in their sleep, the “blame America first crowd” didn’t blame the terrorists who murdered the Marines, they blamed the United States.”)

Kirkpatrick concluded: “The American people know that it’s dangerous to blame ourselves for terrible problems that we did not cause. They understand just as the distinguished French writer, Jean Francois Revel, understands the dangers of endless self-criticism and self-denigration. He wrote: ‘Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.’”

A certain kind of U.S. foreign-policy thinker or lawmaker believes that if we just apply the right combination of incentives, every problem beyond our shores can be fixed. If some foreign leader takes action against us, it’s because we didn’t do something we should have or because we did do something we shouldn’t. It’s as if they don’t really see foreign leaders and peoples as having independent wills and agencies, just instinctive responses to our actions, and that all of their acts, no matter how malevolent, are entirely rational responses to our failures to meet their expectations.

A couple people griped that Monday’s piece assessed the behavior of the Iranian government starting in 1979 — you know, when the revolution and current regime took over — and didn’t go back to the coup in 1953 or the formation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1914. (At least this is a refreshing change from the folks who believe Iranian history began when Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal.)

I’m a big fan of studying history, but the past can’t be changed. When trying to figure out how to deal with the threat of this regime, declarations like, “well, we never should have opposed Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq 67 years ago!” don’t really get us anywhere.</blockquote?Fortunately, the Iranian people seem to be getting the idea, even if American Democrats are not, that their government is failing them. Brian Stewart:

Iran, said President Carter on New Year’s Eve in 1977, “is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” It didn’t take long for this confident avowal to prove erroneous. Just over a year later, Iran’s shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, would be forced into exile, with a clutch of hysterical mullahs led by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini taking his place. Iran’s vaunted stability turned out to be a mirage, and the Islamic revolution has been a source of trouble in the region ever since.

A little more than 40 years later a similar conviction has taken hold regarding the staying power of the regime seated in Tehran. This fashionable fatalism claims that, whatever its problems or the designs of its enemies, the Islamic republic is here to stay.

But there is ground for skepticism about this reigning complacency, and not only because the stability of an autocratic government is fiendishly difficult to gauge. There are unmistakable signs of fatigue and fragility roiling the Islamic republic today. For starters, the paralysis gripping the economy as a result of chronic mismanagement, the diversion of resources, and onerous sanctions is causing acute distress among average Iranians. The tenacious political demonstrations that have been rising in the face of lethal violence from the authorities reveals both the determination of the opposition and the cruelty of Iran’s rulers. Even in the aftermath of the targeted U.S. strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s extraterritorial Quds Force and adjutant to the Supreme Leader, the people have not significantly rallied behind the clerics. To the contrary, they have been given fresh occasion to see clearly the nature of a regime whose Revolutionary Guard incites aggression, recklessly shoots down a civilian airliner, and then literally attempts to bulldoze the evidence.

All of this suggests that the affairs of Iran are drawing rapidly to an eventful crisis. Observers reconciled to the endurance of the Islamic republic might want to reconsider their determinism before history passes them by.

In the turbulent life of the Islamic republic, it has not been foreign meddling by outside powers but domestic insurrection that has posed the greatest threat to its rule. Recalling the revolt across Iran in June 2009 may be instructive here. Here was more proof that it was not a “regime change war” (with apologies to Tulsi Gabbard) that nearly felled the Islamic republic, but the vox populi. No less a figure than Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei later admitted that during the Green revolution the regime suffered a near-death experience.

Back then, pro-democracy protests had engulfed the country after the regime in Tehran engineered a crude voting exercise that flouted the elementary standards of a “free and fair” contest. (No one with the faintest understanding of Iran’s government—and its totalitarian doctrine of clerical control known as velayat-e faqui—could bring himself to credit this charade, or the alternately credulous and cynical response of the Obama White House that treated the “result” with deference.) The peaceful uprising was viciously suppressed by the regime’s Revolutionary Guard units, including the fearsome Basij paramilitary force, but not before a bravura display of people power by Iranians chafing under theocratic rule.

One decade later, it seems that the 2009 Green movement was a dress rehearsal for a larger and more lingering confrontation between Iranians and the mullahs who oppressed them for four decades.

This past November, protests erupted in several cities across the country in response to abrupt government increases in fuel prices. The demonstrations called for a swift end to the Islamic republic, and were vigorously put down by rulers accustomed to meting out violence to peaceful protesters. According to credible accounts, hundreds and perhaps more than a thousand Iranians were killed for the offense of raising their voices against the regime. Thousands more have been detained and tortured.

At first, this ferocious crackdown gave every appearance of having worked as intended. The demonstrations disappeared and the regime’s security apparatus came off high alert by mid-December. It seemed as if the status quo had survived intact. Then, in January, many stories appeared in the Western media suggesting that the Iranian people were broadly united behind the mullahs—a supposedly monolithic nation in mourning for Soleimani. Press coverage of the mass funeral procession for the fallen commander offered little skepticism about the meaning of such a highly orchestrated event in an authoritarian state.

So imagine the surprise when Iran’s protests reignited last week. The backward and brutal regime has imposed martial law to thwart memorial services for the victims of the recent repression. For the ayatollahs, all this domestic turbulence has come at an inauspicious time when popular discontent with the Islamic republic—and its corrupt and violent proxy and surrogate political forces—has reached a boil from Baghdad to Beirut. This tense domestic situation will not be allayed by the show of force from China, Russia, and Iran, all holding joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. Nor does it seem that, after the death of Soleimani, the Iranian street has been fooled by the regime’s “face-saving” gesture of lobbing rockets toward coalition bases in Iraq without harming any U.S. or Iraqi forces.

The persistent nature of this inchoate anti-regime movement—this revolution against the revolution—suggests something other than a revolt rooted solely in severe economic hardship. Whatever the misery inflicted by the combined weight of excessive government debt (ballistic missile development doesn’t come cheap) and punitive U.S. sanctions, the scale and resilience of the demonstrations gripping Iran suggest a more thorough repudiation of a regime characterized by superstition, reaction, and transnational violence. The Islamic revolution of 1979 finds itself under siege today by would-be revolutionaries who have not only challenged its economic mismanagement but also its very political legitimacy.


The late scholar Bernard Lewis liked to note a curious phenomenon in the Middle East: Pro-American regimes that were dictatorial often had anti-American populations, but anti-American regimes like Iran had pro-American populations. This certainly looked true in 2009 when the Iranian masses cried out for the explicit support of the American president, to no avail. How the U.S. government responds to the new protests and the likely crackdown against them may be even more consequential than its recent action in the skies over Baghdad.

The observers who consider Iran’s regime resilient beyond measure believe a revolution against it holds so little hope that its potential scarcely deserves mentioning, let alone supporting. These fatalists contend that the Iranian regime, like a cornered animal, is most dangerous when cornered, and therefore the wisest course is almost endless conciliation. The alternative, this argument runs, is a policy of mutual confrontation in which Iran’s Revolutionary Guard lashes out and turns the region into a cauldron of violence and terror.

The trouble with this argument is that it does not account for the violence and terror the regime has already inflicted across the region, and will continue to inflict. But with sanctions beginning to bite down hard and the Iranian masses inflamed against their bellicose but exposed regime, now may be the time for those who blithely assume the stability of the Islamic republic to ask themselves the breathless question: What if they are wrong?

Saving Iran from its mullahs

Nick Gillespie:

The killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the United States military will understandably dominate headlines for weeks if not months to come.

But the actual demise of the authoritarian regime that’s been in power since 1979 will come more from acts like the one taken by Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist. Late last week, the bronze medalist in Taekwondo in the 2016 Summer Games announced via Instagram that she has fled her home country due to the systematic oppression of women. Via CNN:

“Let me start with a greeting, a farewell or condolences,” the 21-year-old wrote in an Instagram post explaining why she was defecting. “I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran who they have been playing with for years.”…

“They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me,” she wrote, adding that credit for her success always went to those in charge.

“I wasn’t important to them. None of us mattered to them, we were tools,” Alizadeh added, explaining that while the regime celebrated her medals, it criticized the sport she had chosen: “The virtue of a woman is not to stretch her legs!”

On the heels of Alizadeh’s self-imposed exile comes reports that two anchors for Iranian state broadcaster IRIB have quit over qualms about censorship and official lies. From The Guardian:

Zahra Khatami quit her role at IRIB, saying: “Thank you for accepting me as anchor until today. I will never get back to TV. Forgive me.”

Her fellow anchor Saba Rad said: “Thank you for your support in all years of my career. I announce that after 21 years working in radio and tv, I cannot continue my work in the media. I cannot.”

The journalists’ statements are part of a crisis of confidence following the initial attempts by state officials to deny that Ukrainian jetliner 752 had been shot down by mistake by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) air defence force.

A third broadcaster, Gelare Jabbari, said she quit “some time ago” and asked Iranians to “forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.”

This is all happening against the backdrop of massive protests in Iran following the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner that carried 176 people. Demonstrators protested rising gas prices late last year and in the years prior, there have been other protests and general strikes for a host of reasons, including increased dissatisfaction with theocratic rule. According to a Carnegie Endowment report, 150,000 educated Iranians emigrate each year, “costing the country over $150 billion per year” as relatively young and motivated residents leave for greener pastures elsewhere.

By all accounts, sanctions imposed by the United States in 2018 have hit Iran’s economy extremely hard and are playing a role in sparking protests. It’s never fully clear how those sorts of intervention, much less more militaristic actions such as the killing of Soleimani, play out—sometimes overt pressure applied by an outside power emboldens dissent and sometimes it decreases it. But when a country starts to get hollowed out from within, as seems to be the case with Alizadeh’s exile and other recent and ongoing domestic developments, autocrats should start sweating.

 

Тридцать лет назад и не забывайте это

Daniel Greenfield:

The Soviet Union was dissolved on the 26th of December.

An empire that once seemed unbeatable and threatened the very survival of the human race with its nuclear arsenal collapsed after popular protests brought down a failing and corrupt regime.

Leftists around the world had worshiped at its feet. They had spied for it, conspired on its behalf, and undermined their home countries for it. And when it died, it left behind their detritus in the form of aging Marxists like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, and their wider circles, who no doubt sigh as the anniversary comes once more.

The anniversary of the fall of the USSR should be a time to remember the many millions who were murdered in pursuit of the great socialist dream. And the fact that these murders were covered up by the media. The mass murders in the Soviet Union, in Communist China, by Pol Pot and by Che, could not have happened without the active collusion of Western leftists who labored to suppress the stories, discredit political dissidents, and, toward the end, push fake peace efforts meant to help keep failing Communist regimes going.

All these efforts failed.

The old Communist regimes collapsed into oligarchies, some, as in China, retained their Communist brand, others, as in Russia, took on a more explicitly nationalist brand, but none of them could sustain the purity of the ideals for which they had massacred, starved, and imprisoned countless millions whose full numbers will never be known. The Black Book of Communism can only tell us so much. Even to this day, Putin’s regime continues suppressing efforts to find mass graves from the Stalin era. China censors its own massacres from its internet.

And our media continues to glamorize Communism while promoting activists who want to see America go down the same path again.

Leftist theories are unworkable and innately destructive. Their idealism is a hollow shell for narcissism and a lust for power. When they are implemented, millions die.

Kamerat Sanders har fel om Sverige

Rainer Zitelmann:

In 1989, as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders praised the Cuban revolution in a public statement. “For better or for worse, the Cuban revolution is a very profound and very deep revolution. Much deeper than I had understood,” Sanders wrote. “More interesting than their providing their people with free health care, free education, free housing … is that they are in fact creating a very different value system than the one we are familiar with.”

After a trip to the Soviet Union in 1988, Sanders also praised many aspects of the Russian socialist system. But today he stresses that when he talks about “socialism,” he isn’t referring to a system like in the Soviet Union.

Democrats like Bernie Sanders tend to hold up Scandinavian countries as their dream examples of “socialism.” Either socialists like Sanders don’t know enough about Scandinavian countries’ economies or they hope that huge swathes of the American public know too little about them. That’s why it’s so informative to take a look at economic developments in Scandinavia. For a long time, Sweden was regarded as a model of “democratic socialism” and the perfect example of a counter-model to American capitalism.

Spoiler alert: Modern Sweden is not a socialist country. According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom ranking, Sweden is among the 20 most market-oriented economies in the world. With an “Economic Freedom Score” of 75.2, Sweden has a similar level of economic freedom to the United States (76.8) and ranks ahead of South Korea and Germany.

The image of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries as strongholds of socialism harks back to the 1970s and 1980s. During the period of socialist welfare-state expansion from 1970 to 1991, Sweden dropped far behind many of its European competitors. Sweden’s economic growth rate was lower than in a number of other countries, including Italy, France, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. From fourth place in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) per-capita GDP ranking in 1970, socialist-era Sweden had dropped to 16th place by 1995.

In the decade from 1965 to 1975, the number of civil servants swelled from 700,000 to 1.2 million, a rise that was accompanied by increasing government intervention in economic affairs and the creation of a number of new regulatory authorities. Between 1970 and 1984, the public sector absorbed the entire growth of the Swedish workforce, with the largest number of new jobs created in the social services sector.

In order to understand the full extent of Sweden’s disastrous flirtation with socialism, it is well worth taking a closer look at the development of two key groups: In 1960, for every 100 “market-financed” Swedes (i.e. those who derived their income predominantly from private enterprise), there were 38 who were “tax-financed” (i.e. dependent on the public sector for their income, whether as civil servants or as welfare recipients). Thirty years later, that number had risen to 151. During the same period, the total number of employed or self-employed in the market-financed sector fell from just under 3 million to just under 2.6 million, while the total number of tax-financed Swedes grew from 1.1 million to 3.9 million. These figures reflect Sweden’s move away from a capitalist free-market economy to a socialist model during that period.

Politicians, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who call for drastic tax increases on the rich, would be well advised to take a closer look at how such policies played out in Sweden. The socialist agenda damaged the Swedish economy and resulted in prominent entrepreneurs leaving the country in frustration. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad was one of them. The marginal income tax rate of 85% was supplemented by a wealth tax on his personal assets, which forced him to borrow money from his own company in order to pay his taxes.

To pay back his debts to Ikea, Kamprad planned to sell one of the small companies he owned to Ikea at a profit. At the time this was a common practice among Swedish entrepreneurs as they attempted to reduce their wealth tax burden. As Kamprad was preparing the sale, the government made changes to tax legislation. And they did so retroactively. He was stuck with the costs and furious at his country’s unfair treatment of entrepreneurs. In 1974, he moved to Denmark and later to Switzerland, where he spent the next few decades—for a time as the wealthiest man in Europe. Kamprad didn’t return to Sweden to live and pay taxes until 2013—a textbook example of how countries cut their own throats by imposing excessive taxes on the rich.

Many excesses of the welfare state were equally absurd, including the generous sick pay. As well as statutory payments, most employees in Sweden received additional sickness benefit under company agreements and their collective agreements, which meant that those who took sick leave ended up with a larger paycheck than a healthy person who came to work every day. Unsurprisingly, Sweden held the OECD record for the highest rate of non-working adults in the labor force for several decades. Equally unsurprisingly, spikes in the rate of absence due to sickness frequently coincided with major sporting events. Even during the 2002 soccer World Cup—by which time reforms had already reversed the very worst excesses—the number of sick days increased by 41% among male workers.

From the 1990s, however, a counter-movement emerged in Sweden to push back against the clearly catastrophic effects of “democratic socialism.” There was a major tax reform in Sweden in 1990/91:

–      corporate taxes were slashed almost in half;

–      the tax on share dividends was abolished;

–      capital gains from shares were taxed at a greatly reduced rate, which was later eliminated completely; and

–      the top marginal income tax rate was cut by a third.

While income tax rates have come down considerably from their peak in the 1970s and 1980, they are still higher than in many other countries. However, what many don’t realize is that other taxes have been completely abolished in Sweden, including:

–      wealth taxes; and

–      inheritance and gift taxes.

In stark contrast, socialists of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s ilk want to drastically increase wealth and inheritance taxes in the United States.

The Swedish population willingly accepted that stripping back the welfare system would result in a more drastic decline in equality than almost anywhere else in the world. The Gini coefficient, a widely used measure of income distribution, grew by around 30% between the mid-1980s and the late 2000s. Only New Zealand recorded a similar growth in inequality during the same period. As a result, Sweden lost its ranking as the world’s most egalitarian country. But this did not seem to bother the Swedes all that much. After all, despite the significant decline in equality compared with Sweden’s socialist phase, prosperity increased for the vast majority.

Great moments in weekend journalism

The Hill reports about this ridiculous editorial decision:

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The Washington Post changed the headline on its obituary for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after initially calling him an “austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State.”

The Post changed its headline for the obituary at least twice Sunday, starting by describing al-Baghdadi as the “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief.” The newspaper then adjusted the headline to call al-Baghdadi the “austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State,” sparking some backlash on social media.

The headline has now been updated to describe al-Baghdadi as the “extremist leader of Islamic State.”

The Washington Examiner called out the Post for referring to al-Baghdadi as an “austere scholar.” While the Examiner acknowledged that the Post said al-Baghdadi led the terrorist organization with “shocking brutality,” the Examiner also noted that the Post spent most of the obituary focused on his academic career rather than his role in ISIS.

“The man who would become the founding leader of the world’s most brutal terrorist group spent his early adult years as an obscure academic, aiming for a quiet life as a professor of Islamic law,” the obituary reads.

Kristine Coratti Kelly, a spokesperson for the Post, tweeted that the headline “should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.”

President Trump confirmed al-Baghdadi’s death Sunday morning at a press conference, saying he died in a U.S. military raid in Syria.

“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him,” the president said during the press conference.

The corrected version …

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… and the recorrected version …

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… are one or two more than would have happened had a Democrat been president. Remember the orgy of congratulations when Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden? Such things feed Trump’s assertion that the media is the enemy of the country when the media fails to recognize not a victory for whoever is president, but an American military victory.

The reason I’m not part of the celebration is that Middle Eastern terrorist groups seem to easily replace their deceased leaders. Perhaps that suggests a larger required response.

Meanwhile, Business Insider reports:

People are parodying The Washington Post after the newspaper referred to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, as an “austere religious scholar” in a headline about his death. …

The headline change also inspired people to write parody headlines, under the hashtag #WaPoDeathNotices, describing the deaths of other notorious figures like the Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the “Harry Potter” villain Voldemort.

Saddam Hussein, successful politician, oil baron and noted tough boss, dead at 69. #WaPoDeathNotices

He saw a country wracked by poverty, illiteracy & disease. So he lead a revolution that uplifted the lives of millions. RIP #FidelCastro

Genghis Khan, noted traveler, dies at 64.

Osama bin Laden, father of 23, killed in home invasion #WaPoDeathNotices

Charles Manson, community organizer, dead at 83 #WaPoDeathNotices

Mussolini, proud patriot, loved pasta, hated meat hooks. Died aged 61 #WaPoDeathNotices

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, wealth re-distributors in the banking sector, died today from extreme air conditioning.

Hannibal Lecter, well-known forensic psychiatrist and food connoisseur dead at 81. #WaPoDeathNotices

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who once participated in the Boston marathon, has died #WaPoDeathNotices

Voldemort, austere wizard who overcame a severe facial deformity to achieve dark lordship, dead at 71 #WaPoDeathNotices

The original whistle blower, Judas Iscariot, dead at 41. #WaPoDeathNotices

Ted Bundy, Noted Ladies’ Man and Women’s Rights Activist, Found Dead in Chair

Kristine Coratti Kelly, The Washington Post’s vice president of communications, tweeted on Sunday that the headline “should never have read that way” and that editors “changed it quickly.”

That might be the funniest tweet of all.

Хиллари становится старческой

Tobias Hoonhout, who does not write for The Onion, the Babylon Bee or one of the other satire websites:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that the Russians are attempting to undermine the 2020 election by backing Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) as a third-party candidate, stating “she’s the favorite of the Russians.”

Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Clinton made a number of claims regarding Russian meddling in U.S. elections, including that Gabbard’s substantial social-media support relies on Russian bots. Gabbard was the most-searched candidate after the first and second Democratic debates.

“I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said on the podcast. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Clinton’s comments come after Gabbard called the coverage of her campaign by The New York Times and CNN “completely despicable” during the fourth Democratic debate Tuesday night.

“The New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling to an end to this regime-change war,” Gabbard told the crowd in Ohio. “Just two days ago, the New York Times put out an article saying I am a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia.”

In August, Gabbard also told CNN that she would not run as a third-party candidate if she does not win the Democratic nomination.

Clinton also labelled Green Party candidate Jill Stein a “Russian asset” and suggested on the podcast that Gabbard is playing a similar role in this election.
“They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate . . . I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most needed,” Clinton declared.

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, the Clinton campaign followed Jill Stein’s demands for a recount in Wisconsin, which ultimately gave Trump 131 more votes.

“Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” campaign lawyer Marc Elias said at the time.

Sometimes you read something and think to yourself, “What?”

Gabbard had a response:

A musical response comes to mind:

Not a conservative Democrat

For some reason conservatives have been saying nice things about Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard because she’s not anti-religion like the rest of the Democratic field.

But, says Shay Khatiri:

Tulsi Gabbard is many things, but among them is this unfortunate fact: She is the ideological heir Ramsey Clark, LBJ’s attorney general who found it in his heart to defend Saddam Hussein, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, Charles Taylor, and Slobodan Milošević against the depredations and aggressions of the United States.

During Wednesday night’s debate, Gabbard followed in Clark’s footsteps by defending Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator with half a million deaths on his hands, and counting.

Who’s really to blame for the slaughter of the Kurds now underway in northern Syria? America and its pursuit of “regime-change war.”

“Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hands,” Gabbard declared. “But so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime-change war in Syria that started in 2011.” The only politician from the Democratic party with any possible responsibility for the current situation with the Kurds is President Barack Obama.

But while Gabbard may be crazy, she’s not crazy. So she didn’t accuse Obama of having blood on his hands by name from the debate stage. Maybe she’s saving that for her convention speech.

Gabbard has the uncommon ability to say untruths with a calm, soothing voice while staring directly into a television camera.

For example:

  • There are four people with “blood on their hands” in northern Syria. The first is Bashar al-Assad, who has bombed and shot hundreds of thousands of his own people. The second is Recep Erdogan, who initiated military strikes against the Kurds just a few days ago. The other two are Vladimir Putin and Ali Khamenei. Gabbard had nothing to say about any of them.
  • There has never been a U.S. “war” against Syria, let alone a war dedicated to regime change.
  • U.S. involvement in Syria peaked at 2,500 troops and is now down to 1,000. The involvement has been almost completely counterterrorism against the Islamic State, shamefully and unofficially, through a mutual understanding with Assad, Iran, and Russia.
  • There is indeed a “regime-change war” in Syria. It was begun in 2011 by the Syrian people, who have fought it entirely on their own, again to our shame.
  • The American counterterrorism operation that Gabbard is talking about didn’t begin until 2014.
  • Gabbard also claimed that the Syrian refugee crisis is somehow a product of America’s involvement—as if it wasn’t Assad’s gassing of his own people which led millions to flee the country.

Either Gabbard doesn’t understand any of this, in which case she’s a dupe. Or she does understand it, in which she’s a liar.

Whatever Gabbard says, the truth is that since 2014, American policy in Syria has been a mess. President Obama stated that “Assad must go.” But that turned out to be a wish, not a policy. When push came to shove, Obama decided to punt on the matter, despite encouragements from his secretaries of State and Defense and the director of the CIA.

President Trump’s policy has officially been that regime change is not a priority. Then-ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley declared this on national television. Five days after that assurance, Assad once against used chemical weapons against his people.

When Pete Buttigieg pushed back against Gabbard’s bizarre comments, she countered that people such as Buttigieg wanted “U.S. troops in Syria for an indefinite period of time to continue this regime change war” and that this desire has undermined America’s national security.

Again, this is exactly wrong. It is the lack of action in Syria that has undermined our national security: by giving rise to the Islamic State; by sitting silent as the refugee crisis in Europe unfolded; by further destabilizing our relationship with Turkey—a country that has access to our military secrets.

But Gabbard didn’t just criticize American military intervention—she attacked even the use of sanctions against our adversaries. She called them “draconian” and called the sanctions regime a “modern-day siege.” There is plenty to be said about how our excessive use of sanctions could backfire. But sanctions are not a “modern-day siege.”

They’re an alternative to hard power.

If you oppose both military intervention and sanctions, then what tools is America left with? And without America’s ability to influence the course of events to further the cause of human rights, murderers such as Assad will operate with total impunity.

But then, surely that’s the point.

Celebrating United Nations Month with red ink

Fox News:

The United Nations is facing its worst cash crisis in nearly a decade and is warning that it may be unable to pay its bills by the end of the month, while urging member states to pay their contributions to the world body immediately.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote to member states this week, saying that as of the end of September, they have only paid 70 percent of budget contributions, compared with 78 percent at this time last year.

“The Organization runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors,” a statement by Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Stressing the Charter obligation of Member States, the Secretary-General thanked the Member States who have paid their regular budget assessments, which is now 129, and urged those who have not paid to do so urgently and in full,” the statement said. “This is the only way to avoid a default that could risk disrupting operations globally. The Secretary-General further asked governments to address the underlying reasons for the crisis and agree on measures to put the United Nations on a sound financial footing.”

While the U.S. is one of the countries that have not paid its contribution in full, an official from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told Fox News that is in part because of differences in U.S. and U.N. fiscal years.

“To date this year, we have contributed over $600 million to UN peacekeeping operations, and will be providing the vast majority of the $674 million we owe to the 2019 regular budget this fall, as we have in past years,” the official said. “Overall the United States, as the largest contributor to the UN, contributes roughly $10 billion annually in assessed and voluntary contributions across the United Nations system.”

The official also said the U.S. has been clear that no single member should pay for more than a quarter of the U.N. budget. (The U.S. currently pays approximately 22 percent of the U.N.’s operating budget.) …

Guterres, meanwhile, says he has requested other measures, including reductions in travel, postponement of spending, and postponing conferences and other meetings.

The U.S. is unlikely to step in to help solve the problem anytime soon. The Trump administration has pushed for a re-evaluation of the U.N. budget and has been skeptical of the U.N.’s alignment with U.S. interests.

A recent State Department report found that the U.N. General Assembly is out of sync with U.S. interests in more than two-thirds of votes taken in 2018.

It is unclear why the U.S. should support an institution that doesn’t support the U.S., particularly the blatantly anti-American UNESCO. It is also unclear why the U.S. should support an institution that elevates human rights-abusing countries to not only be members of, but chair, the UN Human Rights Council.

It has been suggested elsewhere that it may be time for the U.S. and other Western countries to form their own organization of countries that believe in democratic and economic rights, unlike the vast majority of UN-member countries. This would be a good Trump project.

 

Talk instead of action

Jeremy Clarkson:

When a teenage girl has an angry, tearful strop, most parents just send them to their rooms until they’ve calmed down.

However, when 16-year-old Greta Thunberg got on to the stage at the UN this week and had a full-on adolescent meltdown, she was deafened by the applause.

Not from me she wasn’t.

Because I was in the bog, being sick.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood,” she sobbed.

“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”

Right, well in the immortal words of Samuel L Jackson: “Allow me to retort.”

How dare we? No. How dare you sail to America on a carbon fibre yacht that you didn’t build which cost £15million, that you didn’t earn, and which has a back-up diesel engine that you didn’t mention.

I’m sorry Ms Thunberg, but if you’re going to lay into my generation, you must accept it when I lay into you and yours.

What about the pills you take when you have a headache?

What about the clean water that comes out of your tap? What about the food you can buy at any time of the day and night?

No 16-year-old was responsible for any of that.

What about the aid missions currently being run in some of the poorest countries of the world, or the drugs that help keep Aids at bay?

Think about all the movies you’ve enjoyed. Movies made by grown-ups. And all those comedians who’ve made you laugh.

And then pause for a moment to consider how soundly you sleep at night, knowing that adults are building and servicing and flying Sweden’s fighter planes. To keep you safe.

We gave you mobile phones and laptops and the internet. We created the social media you use every day and we run the banks that pay for it all.

So how dare you stand there and lecture us, you spoilt brat.

And yes, you are spoilt because when you told your mum and dad to stop using planes and give up meat, they didn’t behave like sane parents and ignore you. They actually said, “Yes, dear.” And did.

What they should have done is point out that life is tragic.

Some people are born bright and some are born stupid.

Some are beautiful and some are not.

Some have rich parents who give them everything but love.

Some have poor parents who have nothing to give except love.

Now shut up and let them get on with it.

This is how the world works. It’s how the world has always worked.

And banging your fists on the table won’t change a thing. You’ll learn that when you’ve got a few more years under your belt.

I agree with you that the world is heating up. You may even be right that man has something to do with it.

And there is no doubt that as deserts eat into currently habitable places in Africa and the Middle East, Europe will face an unimaginable refugee crisis.

Something needs to be done about that. So how’s this for an idea. Get back to school as quickly as possible and work hard in your science lectures.

Because science is what will solve the problem eventually. Not scowling and having screaming ab-dabs every five minutes.

Many thousands of people who you had the temerity to blame this week are trying to do exactly what you want.

So be a good girl, shut up and let them get on with it.

Anyone who has watched Clarkson on the original version of the BBC’s “TopGear” would expect something this acerbic from Clarkson. Shikma Dalmia writes less acerbically:

Every global climate summit to date has featured lots of tough talk but little action. The United Nations confab in New York that just wrapped up is no different. Nor will anything change in the future unless climate change warriors stop insisting that the world go on an energy diet—and start offering cheaper and cleaner energy options that don’t require a lifestyle where transcontinental travel means a boat like the one that the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg took from Sweden to rebuke the world’s leaders.

Human-caused global warming is real, but activists have to get real too. They think that they can spur action by simply exaggerating the urgency of climate change. Thunberg insisted that if drastic action to cut emissions isn’t taken now, basically the planet as we know it will cease to exist. Likewise, Green New Dealers like Rep. Alexander Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) have been saying that the planet has an “expiration date.”

But anyone who has watched Game of Thrones knows that dialing up apocalypse talk alone can’t overcome the collective action problem preventing action on climate change. In that drama, Queen Cersei chooses to free-ride rather than join other kingdoms in fighting the forces of Armageddon.

Climate change activists are confronting the same problem—and the more they exaggerate the sacrifices required, the more they’ll exacerbate it.

The Sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that preserving the planet as we know it will require keeping the global mean surface temperature at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above the average temperature in the 19th century before the industrial revolution. This is a more stringent target than that set during the 2015 Paris Accords whose goal was to hold the temperature increase to 2 degrees Centigrade.

Allowing emissions to rise more than that would mean planetary change and disruptions, to be sure. For example, coral reefs would be damaged, storms may be worse, and Arctic ice may melt in summers. But it is not clear that this will lead to planetary catastrophe by making cyclones more fierce or droughts more severe, causing mass death. Climate warriors, however, refuse to make such distinctions.

In order to hold the temperature to the 1.5 degrees threshold, the IPCC calculated that the world would have to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 to 50 percent by 2030 and completely by 2050. This will mean a total transition from fossil fuels to renewables like wind and solar by 2050, a goal that Ocasio-Cortez has wholeheartedly embraced for the United States.

What would the price tag for this be?

As per the IPCC’s own calculations, around $2.4 trillion annually between 2016 and 2035 in 2010 dollars—or about 2.5 percent of the global GDP. To understand just how daunting that is, consider that the total energy investments in the world amount to only around $1.7 trillion right now—which means that the world is being asked to make an additional $45 trillion in investments over 19 years to generate the same amount of energy and improve energy efficiency. The higher costs will mean scaling back First World lifestyles, of course. But they will also mean forcing Third World countries, where many people don’t even have electricity, to stay stuck in poverty for many more decades to help out generations a hundred years from now.

This may be a good long-term investment but the upfront costs—both monetary and human—are formidable which makes the politics of climate change intractable. That’s why the New York conference didn’t go anywhere. The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked countries to up the commitments they’d made four years ago in Paris. Only 65 countries obliged. The biggest polluters just shrugged.

America didn’t even request a speaking slot at the event because that would have meant laying out concrete plans for actual cuts. The Australian prime minister was in town but didn’t bother showing up. China failed to announce new targets and renewed its calls that developed countries go first—no doubt because it doesn’t want to put an anchor around its already limping economy. Likewise, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump’s new best friend, outlined more investments in renewables but remains committed to coal projects for the foreseeable future. And the European Union, historically a leader in pushing for emission cuts, didn’t signal any intention to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Climate activists are blaming much of this on Trump’s Paris pullout. But that’s head-in-the-sand evasion because even if Trump were the Joan of Arc of climate change, he couldn’t ensure results. America enthusiastically led the way for the 1997 Kyoto Treaty that convinced many countries to pledge cuts, but almost none delivered before President George Bush bailed. And the reason is those that dutifully made the cuts would end up harming their economy for no gain if others didn’t follow through. So it was more expedient to promise and leave.

Climate activists are now counting on woke capital to bring these countries to heel by withholding investments from polluting nations. And several asset fund managers did indeed commit to a net-zero emissions portfolio by 2050. But the investor community as a whole is going to face the same collective action problem that the international community is confronting; namely, that if one of them foregoes lucrative investments, there will be just that much more temptation for others.

The better way might be offering clean fuel options that are so attractive that consumers simply can’t turn them down. Phone users did not switch from landlines to cell phones because they were forced to do so. They did so automatically and voluntarily because the new technology offered massive advantages relative to the costs that the old one didn’t.

Something equivalent needs to happen on the energy front to make fossil fuels obsolete. The most promising alternative on the horizon so far isn’t renewables, but nuclear. Yet environmentalists are mostly opposed to it. This was reasonable when nuclear’s upfront capital costs—namely to build layers of safety in reactors—were astronomical and options to safely dispose of spent radioactive fuel weren’t great. But the new generation of nuclear reactors is overcoming at least some of these problems. For example, Bill Gate’s Terrapower, a traveling wave reactor, is experimenting with using depleted uranium, a waste product leftover from conventional reactors.

The most revolutionary fuels are ones that no one can even imagine yet. But they will only materialize if today’s young environmental activists don’t skip school to spend two weeks boating across the ocean to attend a summit. Rather than lecturing world leaders, they’d help more if they stayed in class, listened, and learned in order to become future innovators.

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