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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Thoughts on voting in general

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Good old Silent Cal, still one of the best and most underrated Presidents in US history. Many people have speculated as to how things would have turned out in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash had he still been in charge rather than his idiot VP, Herbert Hoover.

He and the Republicans brilliantly handled a similar crash in 1920, setting the scene for the Roaring Twenties (The Depression You Never Heard of)

The 1929 crash was not the biggest economic crash in history.  It was not even the biggest crash in that decade. In 1920 the stock market fell further and faster than in 1929—and the collapse in the monetary base during 1920–1921 was the largest in U.S. history—yet within eighteen months recovery was complete.

In 1928, despite having been President for most of two terms – having taken over from President Harding when he died – he could have run for office again, and there’s no doubt he would have won in a landslide. But he turned down the opportunity and Hoover got the brass ring instead.

Perhaps I’m being unfair to Hoover, who was quite an intelligent, educated (engineer) and accomplished chap. But his ideas for government, especially in a crisis like 1929, were awful. Coolidge once said of him:

“for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad.”

And yet he chose to allow “that man” to take over from him and implement ‘bad advice’. No wonder Hoover pushed the highest income tax rate through the roof in response to the Great Depression:

The Revenue Act of 1932 (June 6, 1932, ch. 209, 47 Stat. 169) raised United States tax rates across the board, with the rate on top incomes rising from 25 percent to 63 percent. The estate tax was doubled and corporate taxes were raised by almost 15 percent.

Something to remember the next time a Lefty student of US history talks to you about the laissez-faire of Hoover.

The County Election (George Caleb Bingham)

We’ve certainly come a long way from that scene of elections in Missouri, which democracy Bingham believed in sufficiently to serve in the Union cause during the Civil War, despite being a Missouri native and politician.

Instead we have this, from a thoughtful piece on the 2022 US Mid-term elections:

This night is discouraging, but not because Republicans didn’t have as good a night as expected. It’s really because it seems that no level of economic turmoil or inflation or moral depravity is enough to sway people to change their minds. America is fractured now; divided and probably irreparably so. The great sort will continue.

And tomorrow, and in weeks to come, when Joe Biden stops propping up the economy by dumping the U.S. oil reserves to keep energy prices down, all heck is going to break loose. I was hoping that a GOP sweep would bring sanity back, but there will be no GOP sweep and the Republicans can shrug and say they can’t do anything to stop the onslaught that is about to happen.

Suffering is coming. Americans voted for what they’re about to get.

Perhaps that’s just how it has to be. During the Civil War even Lincoln himself, in trying to figure out the terrible conflict, concluded that it was God’s punishment for slavery.

But there’s also this aspect of modern America, best captured by the late Boston University professor emeritus Angelo Codevilla in his 2010 bestseller, The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America, the nation has become divided between a “Ruling Class” whose “chief pretension is its intellectual superiority” and who thinks that most Americans – which Codevilla called the “Country Class”“are unfit to run their own lives.” Moreover, most Americans have noticed that “the Ruling Class has lost every war it has fought, run up an unplayable national debt, and generally made life worse.”

And in noting that I do wonder, as I look at that previous comment about what it will take to break Democrat voters away from their own punishment, whether the same thing is happening to the USA that has happened to France (Choose your philosophers carefully), courtesy of a ruling class whose “chief pretension is its intellectual superiority”:

Whatever became of France? Once the most beautiful, brilliant and civilised country on earth, it is now caught in a seemingly irreversible spiral of decline….

“Older French generations are just beginning to realise how bewitched they were by the intellectual gurus who seized power in the chaotic aftermath of 1968.

“Perhaps the cleverest, most cynical and most pernicious of these Pied Pipers was Michel Foucault. His books and lectures undermined the moral foundations of French history, society and intellectual life. Only now, decades after his death in 1984, is France gradually coming to terms with the fact that it allowed its collective mind to be befuddled by an evil genius …

“[Prize-winning French novelist] Ernaux’s works are saturated in the solipsism and nihilism of [this] nation in decline.”A subtler French writer than Ernaux, Michel Houellebecq, published a far more prophetic novel earlier this year. Anéantir (‘Destroy’) is set in 2027, as Macron leaves office. His vision of France is grim: stricken by poverty and unemployment, it is a rapidly ageing society. Hence his focus is on fatal illness. Unlike Ernaux, whose depiction of her mother’s dementia is shockingly cold-blooded, Houellebecq’s writing about the end of life is suffused with humanity.

“Yet even Houellebecq sees no sunlit uplands for France. For him, as for most of his compatriots, Macron cannot come clean soon enough about the failures of leadership that have reduced France to such relentless economic, social, political and educational decline. The pessimism of the country’s greatest writer speaks volumes about a nation gripped by the politics of cultural despair.

“Houellebecq’s last testament is his valedictory elegy for a France that has lost its raison d’être. Under Macron, the French have reversed Descartes’ Cogito, ergo sum. Now it should read: ‘I no longer think, therefore I no longer am’.”

One difference is that for all their nice words about the Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Americans have always been less in thrall to intellectuals and more pragmatic about their choices and paths.

In short, America still has a chance at surviving as a lawful, prosperous, healthy society – whereas I think France is lost:

In L’archipel français (“The French Archipelago”), published in 2019, sociologist Jérome Fourquet writes of a French “collective nervous breakdown” and the “crumbling” of French society. He notes that the religious and historical moorings of the French people are disappearing: churches are empty, important moments in the country’s history are no longer taught in schools

[In 2018], France had 9.3 million people living under the poverty line (on an income not more than 1,063 euros per month), and surveys showed that hundreds of thousands of families were suffering from malnutrition…The French economy suffered as a result of the lockdown. The number of poor people increased sharply and now stands at 12 million (18.46% of the population). 

Those who might have thought that the beheading of Samuel Paty would lead the authorities to make drastic decisions were proven wrong. Today, teachers throughout France report the relentless threats they receive. In the complaints they file, many say that Muslim students threaten “doing a Samuel Paty” to them. Jewish teachers face anti-Semitic threats and insults.

Essayist Céline Pina writes that the murder of little Lola, the reactions of the murderer after the crime and the government’s attempt to impose silence about the event, mark another step in France’s slide towards collapse, barbarity and chaos.

Far more detail at the link: all of it terrible.

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Written by Tom Hunter

November 10, 2022 at 1:45 pm

Amateurs vs. Experts

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Last year I put up a post about some undergraduate geek who, while noodling around looking at Earth Observation Satellite pictures, discovered the Chinese building a new field of ballistic missile silos (The Undergradate NRO).

There’s also this story the other day about a “citizen-scientist” – physicist and engineer Levi Boggs of the Georgia Tech Research Institute, who delved into an area unrelated to his work, upside-down lightning, and found incredible data in places nobody had been looking.

Okay, so he’s not exactly the amateur of the first story, but in a world of increasing Internet information storage and individual computer power, we’re going to see more of this sort of thing. Unfortunately it’s likely be confined to technical or semi-technical fields – and it should not be, as RealClearScience noted in Political Experts Aren’t Really Experts:

Between the 1980s and early 2000s, Philip E. Tetlock, a Professor of Psychology at Penn focused on politics and decision-making, conducted a long-term study in which he recruited 284 people whose professions included “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends” to predict the outcome of various political events. At the same time, he had laypersons do the same, collecting 82,361 forecasts over two decades. When the study concluded, the experts barely outperformed the non-experts, if at all.

Think about how many “experts” we’ve seen making fools of themselves over the years with their predictions, forecasts and advice.

Then there’s this, The Extraordinary Diplomacy of Ordinary Citizens, which tells the obscure story of one Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, who was the main driver behind the Abraham Peace Accords:

Greenblatt was surrounded by seasoned officials who arrogantly believed that their professional acumen gave them a certain divine right to manage U.S.-Middle Eastern affairs. But for Greenblatt, since they were the ones who had advised the many previous administrations that had failed countless times to achieve peace in the Middle East, they were not exactly able to lecture him now about how to do it.

As soon as he started, he found the old guard fetishized the peace process and had little imagination about the peace parameters. Their textbook assumption was that everything hinges on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict first and foremost.

Naturally they were also the ones who “warned” Trump against the great dangers involved in moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, just as they had warned off Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.

Greenblatt would have none of it, arguing that the world, especially the Arab world, had changed in the last forty years:

As a result of these new realities, Greenblatt argued for an “outside-in” approach to the Middle East, which turns the old framework on its head. It is not the Palestinian problem that has to be solved first before everything else, but the other way around.

One could argue that this has not worked either since the Israel-Palestine issue remains unresolved, but the fact is that it increasingly looks like a smart move in the face of Iran and other Middle Eastern problems to have Israel and Arab nations working together openly.

Perhaps the most important lesson of In the Path of Abraham is that being a wise, industrious, pious, and civic-minded American is all it takes for public service. As our founders knew, government does not need to be the exclusive province of specialists and policy wonks. In fact, ordinary citizens may even achieve superior results.

No shit! But read the whole review.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 11, 2022 at 2:15 pm

Powerless Europe

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No, not powerless in the face of Putin over the Ukraine, although there is a link between the topic of this post and that.

Powerless in terms of energy, although there is both bad and good news.

The Bad News.

Electricity for delivery next year surged as much as 6.4 per cent to an all-time high in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market. France, which usually exports power, will need to suck up supplies from neighboring countries to keep the lights on as severe nuclear outages curb generation in the coldest months of the year.

The crunch is so severe that it’s forcing factories to curb output or shut down altogether. Aluminium Dunkerque Industries France has curbed production in the past two weeks due to high power prices, while Trafigura’s Nyrstar will pause production at its zinc smelter in France in the first week of January. Romanian fertilizer producer Azomures temporarily halted output.

That was in December when 10% of France’s nuclear was taken offline for various minor reasons, with 30% expected later in the winter. As a result French power was already trading at 1,000 euros a megawatt-hour for the month of February.

All of this has been a long time coming, driven mainly by Germany’s mania to appease the Global Warming Gods:

Germany continues its “disastrous” Energiewende transition to a low-carbon or net-zero future by shutting down reliable, resilient, and affordable natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants. In early 2021 German federal government auditors found the “country would need to spend over $600 billion between 2020 to 2025 to maintain grid reliability.” This is on top of the $580 billion already spent by the Germans on Energiewende while closing the Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gundremmingen zero-carbon nuclear reactors on December 31, 2021.

That last was an especially stupid decision in light of the desire for a zero-carbon future – but it clashed with German politicians living in a 1970’s/80’s anti-nuclear past:

It was only 10 years ago that nuclear power made up almost a quarter of the electricity generated in the country. Following the impact of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown – German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the decision that same year to phase out the country’s nuclear power stations by 2022.

It’s not surprising that France and Germany also ban fracking, as do several smaller western European countries, including Ireland. Britain has also joined the insanity:

Despite the ongoing energy crisis in Europe, the British Oil & Gas Authority (the same government department that banned fracking in 2019) has ordered resource company Cuadrilla to “permanently seal the two shale gas wells drilled at the Lancashire shale exploration site, with the result that the 37.6 trillion cubic metres of gas located in the northern Bowland Shale gas formation will continue to sit unused.”

British politics site Guido Fawkes points out that this self-sabotage is utterly insane since “just 10 percent of this volume could meet U.K. gas needs for 50 years [and] U.K. imports of Natural Gas are expected to skyrocket to over 80 percent by 2050.”

Moreover the emissions from all that imported gas will be greater than for domestically produced gas. To make things even worse the current British Conservative government has decided to follow in the German footsteps on renewable energy, with a goal of Net Zero-Carbon by 2050, with no detail on how CO2 emissions might be absorbed, leaving it all to a 100% production decrease by going all electric with renewable energy. In Britain (not the sunniest of places) that means wind farms – lots and lots of windfarms. How impractical is this?

Renewables just can’t carry this load, as is seen around the world, with this example from Alberta:

At the same time, Alberta’s entire fleet of 13 grid-connected solar facilities, rated at 736 megawatts, was contributing 58 megawatts to the grid. The 26 wind farms, with a combined rated capacity of 2,269 megawatts, was feeding the grid 18 megawatts.

The biggest joke of all of this is that the wind and solar (The Unreliables) result in nations like Germany having to burn more coal and import more gas to run the old parallel energy system, making them dirtier than nuclear-powered France.

But it gets even worse. Modern, industrialised countries that refuse to produce sufficient energy will not survive as independent countries and in the case of Europe it’s produced a geopolitical nightmare:

Gazprom [a Russian state-run energy company] supplied almost a third of all gas consumed in Europe in 2020 and will likely become an even more important source in the short term as the continent shrinks domestic production. Some of the biggest economies are among the most exposed, with Germany importing 90% of its needs.

Which is why Germany has been so keen on working with Russia to build the Nord Stream II gas pipeline (764 miles under the Baltic Sea and costing $11 billion). More Russian energy to the rescue! That pipeline will double the volume of gas pumped by Russian-controlled gas giant Gazprom directly to Germany. And Germany’s largest supplier of coal? Russia, of course.

No wonder Putin felt he could invade Ukraine, that seeming energy stranglehold on the dominant Western European power must have seemed like a trump card.

The Good News

The Ukrainian invasion has done to the Germans what Trump could not do: convince them of their strategic folly.

In a landmark speech on Sunday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz spelled out a more radical path to ensure Germany will be able to meet rising energy supply and diversify away from Russian gas, which accounts for half of Germany’s energy needs: “We must change course to overcome our dependence on imports from individual energy suppliers,”

This will include building two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, one in Brunsbuettel and one in Wilhelmshaven, and raising its natural gas reserves… Germany has 24 bcm of underground caverns of gas storage, which are currently around 30% full, according to industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe data.

That’s great news, especially since the USA’s fracking revolution has unlocked vast reserves of gas in the last fifteen years. So much that it crushed LNG prices, resulting in a massive shift from coal to gas for electricity generation, enabling it to beat its Kyoto Treaty targets (a treaty it never signed anyway) and most of the rest of the developed world for CO2 emission reduction. It also caused the USA to convert numerous LNG coastal terminals from import to export capability – just in time to send huge LNG carriers across the Atlantic to Europe.

The Germans have also halted the Nord Stream II project.

But it’s not just gas, as the country’s economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens, said,

“There are no taboos on deliberations“.

Germany is also weighing whether to extend the life-span of its remaining nuclear power plants as a way to secure the country’s energy supply, the country’s economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens, said.

Habeck also said letting coal-fired power plants to run longer than planned was an option, throwing into doubt Germany’s ambitious exit from coal, which is planned for 2030.

A GREEN said that! Jesus! Talk about a Road To Damascus conversion. Amazing how war can do that. And it’s not just the Germans:

Italy will increase the domestic production of gas and may reopen coal-fired power stations under plans to ensure energy security, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday.

The news gets even better:

Soaring energy prices and a geopolitical crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are looming over the European Union’s attempts to agree a raft of tougher climate change laws, raising concerns that some could be delayed or scaled back.

That passive voice is just to make Global Warmist readers not feel too downhearted, but when you look at the impact even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine you can place a sure bet on “delayed or scaled back” – and not just “some” either:

A UN-backed green investment fund is on the brink of failure three months after its launch during the Glasgow climate summit because institutions including big banks never delivered expected seed funding.

Chuckle. Even the dark clouds of Vlad The Impaler have silver linings.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 3, 2022 at 6:00 am

Many factors in Putin’s head

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There are a lot of known factors that have driven Putin’s decision to conduct a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine – and perhaps one that has not been considered up until now.

This article by historian Sir Anthony Beevor nails some of them:

In his bizarre and rambling treatise last week immediately before his declaration of war on Ukraine, Putin’s anger against Lenin was very clear. He blamed the Bolshevik leader for having introduced into the constitution of the USSR the idea that the national republics were all equal.

The fact is that he is living in a crazed fantasy world of the imperial past when he declares ‘a hostile anti-Russia is being created in our historic lands’. In his view, no population from the old Tsarist empire has the right to follow its own path.

Putin’s other belief, that the West was largely to blame, came from the rash ambitions of the United States, Nato and the EU in the first decade of the millennium to promote democracy everywhere. It was a dangerously naive crusade.

Then there’s this take from Condoleeza Rice (whose PhD was on the USSR):

After she had left office Condoleezza Rice recalled one of her last meetings with Vladimir Putin. He told our then Secretary of State, “You know that Russia has only been great when it was ruled by strong men. Like Alexander II, like Peter the Great.” Rice said, “I remember thinking, and then is Vladimir the Great supposed to be in that line?” She was too diplomatic to ask. But she went on, “I am sure he’s not wholly rational. He´s a megalomaniac. And you have to deal with the 5% chance that he might in fact be delusional.”

I think we’re well into that 5%.

But the following probably also factors into his mind. Watch these two clips and imagine Putin watching them.

But underlying crap like that are populations that either quietly shrug their shoulders and accept it or agree with such messages.

Also note that another of the Gigantic Democrat Brains, former Secretary of State under Obama, John Kerry raised this big concern about the Ukrainian invasion, which shows just how the West’s Climate Change policies help Russia and China (and why they’re so supportive of Western groups pushing Zero Carbon policies).

How Civil Wars start – France

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There are myriad reasons that are unique to each nation, but one feature common to all is a gap that steadily opens up between at least two or more parts of society and which cannot be resolved by politics.

In this respect there are two nations that have such gaps, France and the USA.

In the case of France it can be seen most clearly in the announcement by one Éric Zemmour, conservative columnist, historian, writer and television pundit, that he is running for President in 2022. I don’t expect him to win but he will not be ignored, least of all by the ruling class of that nation, of whom he is one. In this Claremont Review article is a lengthy look at Zemmour and it starts with this rather remarkable bit of information:

Emmanuel Macron, frequent butt of Zemmour’s on-air contempt, was calling to commiserate. Zemmour had been accosted by a thug that afternoon while walking home from a fruit stand on the rue des Martyrs. The whole of political Paris was talking about it. For decades Zemmour, 63, has warned the public that France is being submerged by Muslim immigration and smothered by political correctness. In so doing, he has been acclaimed as a historian and author, and revered as a truth-teller. He has also been reviled in the press and hauled into court for inciting racial and religious hatred. Now he was being harassed in the street. That alarmed even Macron.

Macron, once the “golden boy of the Socialists” had left years ago to lead a new party, La République en Marche (“Republic on the Move,” or LREM), and had sold himself as the alternative to Marine Le Pen, who had inherited (and renamed) the National Front (F.N.), the populist and nationalist party founded by her father (the article goes into that history also). But even Macron has started to feel strange and frightening new pressures:

Faced with an increasingly anxious public, Macron has sought to strike a populist tone. His interior minister Gérald Darmanin, and his education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, are both conservatives of a sort. In the wake of the George Floyd riots and demonstrations in the United States, Macron made a forthright announcement that France “will tear down none of its statues.”

That pressure had already shown up in the the 2017 campaign which saw the collapse of France’s two establishment parties, the Socialists and the Républicains and in that now-famous phonecall with Macron:

In the course of 45 minutes of passionate back-and-forth, Macron told Zemmour that a president who spoke like that would drag the country into civil war. Zemmour cut him off. “I told him that if we continue to follow his policies we are headed for civil war in any case.”

In the case of France the pressures relate to several things. There is a growing disconnect with the EU, which basically overrides the French Constitution, thanks to none other than France’s own former President Sarkozy, who quietly committed France, by treaty, to the very EU arrangements that had just rejected at the ballot box by the French people.

Then there is the growing Islamic population:

Last summer, Causeur magazine released a set of maps that the government consulting group France Stratégie had been using. They showed a growth of immigrant populations in all French cities that was almost incredible. In vast stretches of Seine-St-Denis, burial place of France’s kings and queens, 70-80% of the children under 18 are born of immigrants from outside of Europe.

The maps sent shock waves through France when they were published, but what is most striking is that the outrage took the government consultants by surprise. They had been using the maps for two years to develop plans to fight residential segregation. It had apparently not occurred to them that, in the public’s view, the main problem was not the distribution of the immigrant population but the sheer size of it.

Furthermore, nobody apparently has much confidence that laïcité – the system of secularism imposed at the turn of the last century to topple the Catholic Church from its position of cultural and educational dominance – will also tame Islam.

But there’s also this, and it connects directly to the USA:

On one side are the “winners” of globalization—the super-rich and protected minorities. On the other are globalization’s losers—the newly precarious middle and working classes.

By 68 to 32, members of LREM and top executives believe globalization is good for France. Members of all other parties and people at all other income levels disagree. Only 26% of French people trust the media. Only 16% trust political parties.

It is this overall loss of faith in the institutions of a nation, perhaps even in the nation as it is conceived by Macron’s ruling class – a class duplicated in every nation across the Western world – where the greatest danger lies. But I can see what Macron meant about Zemmour’s talk when held in public:

“The first thing you need to understand about France,” he said in September, “is that we are the country of civil wars. We’ve always had civil wars: the wars of religion, the French Revolution, the Commune of Paris, the battles between collaborators and résistants after World War II.”

The reason France has civil wars, according to Zemmour, is that it is, like the United States, a created nation. It is a place where people dispute principles, and conflicts can end when disputes over values are settled.

This past October, Zemmour passed Le Pen in the polls. Read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 9, 2021 at 9:09 am

Why I Don’t Like Frogs

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They sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour. Then lied about it.

They promised to hold the perps, Mafar and Prier, for ten years. They lied about it.

They sold Exocet missiles to Argentina but gave the missile neutering codes to Britain. And lied about it.

They conned Australia into an outrageous contract for overpriced, obsolete, late delivered submarines. And lied to get it.

France to build Australia a new fleet of submarines | News | DW | 26.04.2016

When Australia told them to ‘Va te faire foutre’ they withdrew their ambassadors from Australia and the US.

And they think they can cook.

Written by adolffinkensen

September 18, 2021 at 11:51 am

Posted in France

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“It is too early to say”

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Zhou Enlai’s famous quote, made during Nixon’s groundbreaking visit to China in 1972, in response to a question about French revolts, was actually not referring to the French Revolution of 1789 but the revolts of 1968.

I was reminded of this while watching the following scenes of people fleeing Paris just the other day before the commencement of a new curfew and lockdown process in response to a second wave of Chinese Lung Rot cases and deaths.

The reason is contained in this graph.

That chart is more than a month old and things have not improved since then for France, or the rest of Europe for that matter. Well – with one notable exception:

Sweden is also experiencing the expected increase in cases, but thanks to their previously despised herd immunity strategy these new cases are not translating into deaths, which is why Sweden is not hitting the panic button and locking themselves into their homes. It’s also why this chart is so painful to look at.

The real tell will come in early January 2021 when the final figures for all deaths in Sweden are confirmed and the excess deaths are seen. If that number is low or statistically insignificant then we’ll know that the Swedish people who died from Chinese Sinus AIDS were the people who would have died from influenza and pneumonia, diseases so similar to Covid-19 that the CDC in the USA has, from the start, tracked daily deaths as “PIC” (Pneumonia, Influenza, Covid-19), knowing how hard it is for post-mortem analysis to confirm the culprit.

Still, even the Europeans must be grateful they’re not run like the US Democrat states of New York and New Jersey.

Incidently, the Zhou link contains probably the best explanation of the reason for the common misinterpretation of Zhou’s comment on France, and also perhaps the perfect explanation for the lockdowns.

“I cannot explain the confusion about Zhou’s comment except in terms of the extent to which it conveniently bolstered a stereotype (as usual with all stereotypes, partly perceptive) about Chinese statesmen as far-sighted individuals who think in longer terms than their Western counterparts,” Freeman said in a follow-up email. “It was what people wanted to hear and believe, so it took” hold.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 31, 2020 at 10:01 am