Happy birthday and many happy returns Bich Ngoc Ly andAlan Vongsavanh. Born on the same day, across the years. Remember, birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live
With the Left, what you say tends to count for more than what you do. Seeming above doing.
And so a man who tried to gas his ex-girlfriend can still end up as a professor of gender studies, writing man-bashing manifestos for a Fairfax site devoted to women.
Ludicrous and sinister, but I am taking a chance by even quoting James Delingpole, who is free to write in Britain what we barely dare now in Australia Salem:
I mean “gay”, of course, in the offensive, playground, politically incorrect sense of the word. As in: “Your Dad’s car is totally gay.” Or: “That shark was so gay he didn’t even manage to take your whole leg off.” This is the kind of usage that would you have you arrested in Australia these days, such is the gag-making political correctness of the land they once called the Lucky Country but which now ought more properly to be named the Haringey of the Southern Hemisphere.When I tell this to people who’ve never been to Oz they are usually surprised. Australia, they imagine, is a rugged, no-nonsense place where the men all look a bit like Crocodile Dundee (or, at least, the late Steve Irwin), and where their idea of a chat-up line to the Sheilas on Bondi beach is “Hey Sheila. Do you want a ****?” (to which they’ll add, if Sheila is reluctant: “Well would you mind just lying there while I have one?")But it’s just not true. Australia handed in its testicles to the progressives long ago.
Labor promised - “no ifs, no buts” - to return the Budget to surplus this year and start repaying the huge debts it had racked up.
Both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer refused to discuss whether they were spending too much while banking on an uncertain recovery. It was crtitical before the last election especially that they did not seem so irresponsible, which is why they refused to even concede the possibility of not returning to surplus. “Come hell or high water,” Wayne Swan insisted.
Yet from the start there was reason indeed to doubt Labor could keep its promise. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey famously predicted Labor would never deliver a surplus. And this year especially, Julia Gillard spent wildly, desperately, no longer even pretending to base her grandest promises (NDIS especially) on any costings. Even worse, she based big new welfare.programs on volatile revenue streams fom her mining tax just as commodity prices started to fall - guaranteeing this great big new tax would raise little. Meanwhile, Labor kept spending and spending, every year more. In fact, it is now spending $100 billion a year more than it did just five years ago.
For nearly two years the Government maintained this fiction of a Budget surplus to come this year by a series of patent fiddles. Spending was pushed out to later years or, more unforgivably, brought forward to last financial year, for which the deficit blew out badly. Never mind the massive deficit for 2011-12, the Government said. Admire instead the tiny surplus we will deliver the next year.
In this way, too, the surplus promise - or con - was critical. It got many commentators ignoring the deficit under their noses in preference for a surplus that existed only in the Government’s imagination.
But now this monstrous farce is over. The trick is played out. The deceit laid bare:
LABOR has abandoned its election promise to return the budget to surplus this financial year, saying changed economic circumstances mean it must now protect jobs.Wayne Swan’s announcement, just five days from Christmas, follows new financial figures showing a $3.9 billion revenue slump in the first four months of 2012-13.”Dramatically lower tax revenue now makes it unlikely that there will be a surplus in 2012-13,” the Treasurer told reporters today.Mr Swan said the government’s likely failure to meet its commitment was not the result of overspending, but a “sledgehammer” blow to revenue.
Many pro-Gillard commentators will now try to praise Gillard for being “responsible” by abandoning her surplus promise with the economy “unexpectedly” brittle. In fact she should be condemned for breaking yet another false promise - one that gave her cover for spending too much for too long. Gillard has been not just dishonest but reckless and must pay.
Else what are political promises ever to mean?
A final warning. There will be many apologists now saying there is little difference between a small surplus and a small deficit anyway, so what’s the big deal?
The deal is this:
- a broken promise- a promise that excused huge deficits in previous years.- a failure to deliver a surplus even when the economy was growing well and commodity prices were at record highs.- the removal now of one last brake on Labor’s spending, with many commentators and special interests demanding a deficit blowout. (If Gillard can be forgiven, say, a $3 billion deficit now, why not round that out to $5 billion and cram in a few more election bribes?
I fear a Rubicon has been crossed. If China falters now, we are in terrible trouble.
How 'Les Misérables' can help lift Republicans out of their misery
Republicans seeking to regain their footing after the 2012 elections--the GOP has lost four of the last six presidential elections, and five of the last six popular votes--might wish to rediscover the firm ground of the Christian reformist tradition. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also a vote-getter.
Christian reformism flourished at the turn of the last century, changing America for the better. In the midst of the storms and stresses of rapid industrialization and mass immigration, the late 19th/early 20th century was an activist era of social uplift in the US. New ideas sparked movements within both the Republican and Democratic parties, aimed at helping the working poor move up the ladder toward middle-class status.
In the U.S., this movement was led by many leaders, including the Protestant theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, who preached a “social gospel.” That is, Christ as the champion of working people and their struggle for a better life.
As Rauschenbusch wrote in his 1907 book, Christianity and the Social Crisis,
"Whoever uncouples the religious and the social life has not understood Jesus. Whoever sets any bounds for the reconstructive power of the religious life over the social relations and institutions of men, to that extent denies the faith of the Master."
In Rauschenbusch’s mind, God was needed on the shop floor of the factory, just as much as He was needed in the church.
Meanwhile, from Rome, Pope Leo XIII articulated a similar message to Catholics. New social conditions, Leo wrote in his 1891 encyclical,Rerum Novarum (Of New Things), required new social responses to rectify injustice. As the Pope wrote, “Some opportune remedy must be found quickly for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class.”
Leo denounced socialism and other new “isms” as reprehensible violations of natural law, since they sought to replace traditional family and faith with dangerous new kinds of secularist authority. Yet at the same time, he insisted that divine order required factory owners to treat their employees better. The Pope instructed capitalists “not to look upon their work people as their bondsmen, but to respect in every man his dignity as a person ennobled by Christian character.”
Both Rauschenbusch and Leo were seen as somewhat on the left in their time, but it’s worth noting that their goals were ultimately conservative: Both men could see that the secular radicalisms of anarchism and communism were attracting many angry and immiserated workers; both men saw careful reform as the best way to counter those threats. Yes, they wanted to change society, and yet at the same time, they were determined to preserve the Judeo-Christian order of the previous 2000 years.
Smart political leaders picked up these ideas and wove them into politics and policy. Our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, for example, was a strong proponent of wage and hour laws as part of his overall progressive reform agenda, which he described in 1910 as part of “the long struggle for the rights of man--the long struggle for the uplift of humanity.” TR continued:
"Our country--this great Republic--means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy, the triumph of popular government, and, in the long run, of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him."
As TR’s words make clear, “progressive” meant something far different back then than it means today; the progressives of Roosevelt’s era were not the same as the liberals of our time. Roosevelt was interested in work, not welfare; he simply wanted to make sure that work paid enough to support a family.
Moreover, the old progressives were nationalists, not multiculturalists; they were convinced that America was a great country, and they wanted to make it even greater. Yet at the same time, they saw the need to fend off Bolshevism by making prudential reforms. As TR put it, the progressivism of his era was “the highest and wisest form of conservatism.”
In perusing these reformist ideas and policies, today’s Republicans, and all Americans, would gain fresh insight into how to build a new framework for the social and economic advancement of all, including rising demographic groups of new immigrants. The names and dates are all different now, but the basic ideas--offering opportunity and upward mobility, while at the same guaranteeing dignity for workers--are as sound, and popular, as ever. In times of trouble, social reform is, among other things, a vote-getter.
Yet for those not yet ready to commit to reading worthy works of theology and history, there’s a new movie that takes us back to the challenges and passions of that era: “Les Misérables.” The film, of course, is based on the 1985 musical phenomenon that ran on Broadway for 16 years; reportedly at least one touring company has been playing somewhere in the world for all of the last three decades. And now, the musical is on film, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bonham Carter. The director is Tom Hooper, whose film “The King’s Speech” won four Oscars, including best picture, two years ago. I reviewed it here for Fox News Opinion.
In terms of leave-the-theater hummability, “Les Mis” is way up there. “Bring Him Home” is a standard, and “Come to Me/Fantine’s Death” would be, too, if the lyrics weren’t so sad. And then there’s “I Dreamed A Dream,” which the middle-aged Susan Boyle took to YouTube immortality in 2009, singing so beautifully on “Britain’s Got Talent.”
Those who see the movie will quickly see that while Anne Hathaway has her charms, her singing voice--as heard, for example, in the same song, “I Dreamed a Dream”--is not her greatest strength. Indeed, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe also remind us that Hollywood picks big stars based on their looks and acting ability, not on their voice training and lung capacity. On the other hand, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter prove that talented niche actors can also fill musical niches. And one smashing *
Oh, and one other note to would-be ticket-buyers: It’s worth Googling the lyrics to the songs in advance of seeing the movie. The songs are lovely, but the lyrics are complicated and filled with, well, 19th century references. And several numbers are sung in counterpoint--that is, two singers singing different words at the same time--so it helps comprehension to know the words beforehand.
A century-and-a-half ago, in 1862, “Les Misérables” appeared as an epic novel from the pen of the French writer Victor Hugo. His story, set in France during the early 19th century, carries us to the highs and lows of French society, while always pointing us, however subtly and indirectly, toward the good.
In those years, after 1815, the French Revolution had come and gone, the Napoleonic wars were over, and the reactionary and unpopular French monarchy had been restored to the throne in Paris. Yet just below the surface, in France--as well as in most of Europe--the population seethed with revolutionary passions. The crowded streets of Paris, in particular, were frequently the scene of mob actions and popular uprisings.
“Les Misérables” captured the radicalism that was then in the air, and yet at the same time, the novelist’s art is seen in his capacity to spin a brilliantly circuitous plot-line, weaving in dozens of major characters--and to draw characters whose heads and hearts transcend any one time or place. That’s why, for a century-and-a-half now, the novel, so full of imagination and empathy, has been turned into innumerable films, plays, and parables.
And while “Les Misérables” the novel is in no sense a political or economic blueprint, it does have a lot to say about the human condition. What it says, most of all, is that we should be decent to each other--that each of us should, indeed, love our neighbor. And that in itself is not such a bad message during these tragic times of crazed killers and dead children. Hugo himself, it might be noted, declared that while he was anti-clerical, he firmly believed in God. Indeed, the last character we meet in the novel is an angel, receiving a human soul into heaven.
The musical-turned-movie is faithful to Hugo’s spirit. Not too many shows in our popular culture feature a saintly Catholic bishop. Indeed, the bishop is the man who drives the story forward, by forgiving the thief--the lead character, Jean Valjean, played by Jackman--for stealing from him. Indeed, when Valjean is arrested for the crime, the bishop assures the police that Valjean has done no wrong and, in fact, gives him still more silver. Yet when the cops are gone, he makes it clear that Valjean must, indeed, pay a high price--he must reform himself. As the bishop sings, “But remember this, my brother/ See in this some higher plan/ You must use this precious silver/ To become an honest man.”
And then the bishop piles it on further: “By the witness of the martyrs/ By the Passion and the Blood/ God has raised you out of darkness/ I have bought your soul for God!” To be sure, not every forgiven criminal repents, but this one does. Valjean goes on to become not only the hero of the novel, but its moral core as well.
Yet Valjean, and most of the rest of the characters in “Les Misérables,” do not have it easy. In the musical “Les Mis,” factory workers sing of their situation: “That’s all you can say for the life of the poor/ It’s a struggle, it’s a war.” Once again, it’s worth bearing in mind that the poor of the 19th century were workers, or would-be workers; back then, there was no welfare to speak of. Yet workers working 70 or even 80 hours a week at dirty and dangerous jobs were still not guaranteed of making enough to survive.
So societies of that era had a choice: They could either figure out how to raise wages--through whatever combination of economic growth, unionism, minimum-wage policies, and tariff protection they could muster--or they would face revolution. As the “Les Mis” workers further sing: “There’s a hunger in the land/ There's a reckoning still to be reckoned/ And there’s gonna be hell to pay/ At the end of the day!” That was not the voice of ACORN and a few trust-fund liberal dilettantes; that was the voice of our ancestors, workers and farmers alike. They didn’t want something for nothing, they wanted something for something; they wanted to be paid enough to feed their children.
Victor Hugo spoke to these people. He believed that justice must be mixed with mercy, not only in the law, but in society as a whole. Indeed, Hugo’s influence in France can be compared to that of another novelist of the same era, Charles Dickens, who similarly shaped reformist sentiments in Britain and in the English-speaking world. Both novelists were Christians, not communists; they believed in progress, not revolution.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that the influence of Hugo and Dickens helped prevent their peoples from being tempted by the wicked radicalisms of fascism and communism that overtook much of the rest of Europe in the 20th century.
Now back to our own time. It’s possible to say, of course, that President Barack Obama has done a poor job of helping the U.S. economy deal with the economic crisis of the last five years. But if we make that claim, then we have to answer the question as to why he was re-elected by a comfortable margin.
In particular, Republicans will have to ask themselves, “If we lost to Obama, what does that say about us?” And of course, 2012 wasn’t just a victory for Obama; it was a victory for Democrats in the Congressional elections as well.
So it would appear that something has gone wrong with the Republican message. Perhaps, then, the GOP needs some reformist retooling right about now. To be sure, the problems of 2012 are not the same as the problems of the 19th or 20th centuries, but we still face the challenge of rekindling economic growth in ways that the American people consider to be both effective and fair. We need to rebuild the American middle class, and we need to do it without descending further into the vortex of ever more government that simply inflates the next financial bubble.
How to do all that? How to readjust the social contract? The voices of Walter Rauschenbusch, Leo XIII, and Theodore Roosevelt can be helpful, of course, but we, the living, are not relieved of the responsibility of figuring out new solutions--reformist and conserving solutions--fully appropriate for our own time.
And then there’s Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” in all its many forms, including this stirring new film. It’s provides a voice that rings in our ear, the voice of better angels telling us that we can, and should, do better--in our own lives, in our century, in our own country.
James P. Pinkerton is a writer and Fox News contributor. He is the editor/founder of the Serious Medicine Strategy blog.
Well done Wayne Swan: the worlds worst current account balances (exc Carribean)
There's no surplus, as has been repeatedly promised .... but she won't resign.
So what are all you people who think that your ballot paper is a great protector, going to do? Storm the capital with your ....... broomsticks?
The majority of the population are so unbelievably ignorant, many of them will still vote for this woman. They will continue to vote to take away individual rights, year after year .... until you have nothing left.
If you believe in democracy, then you believe a person who idolises Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, is AS worthy of making political decisions as all of you guys with your considered and intelligent views.
There is an alternative to democracy though. It's called liberty.
Free speech, property rights, right to a fair trial and the right to KEEP WHAT YOU EARN rather than handing it over to government to send to foreigners overseas. Under liberty, you have all these things and they CANNOT be removed by a democratic majority, as they have been today, and were also under democratically elected regimes like the Nazi Party.
The Liberals will get in but, as usual, they will only temporarily stem the bleed. They won't roll all the socialism back. When has the Liberal party ever rolled back any of the big-government socialist programs Labor has put into place?
Then Labor will eventually get back in, and things will continue in the same direction, until we eventually reach the "Brave New World" of totalitarianism that Aldous Huxley and George Orwell wrote about.
That is the game they play. That is where your beloved democracy will get you, unless you all commit to alot more than what you are currently doing.
Are you willing to become fierce activists though? You all have intelligent views, but are you all serious about saving Australia? Or are you just posing? Are you actually willing to make deep sacrifices to save this country for your children and grandchildren and all of your ancestors?
Liberty is not something the majority of people want. The people have voted against your individual rights and will continue to do so, because currently the majority of the population are able to PHYSICALLY FORCE you to comply.
You either need some fierce activism, to convince all the celebrity-obsessed ignoramuses that they are voting for the wrong people (good luck with that) OR you need some means of physically defending your rights when the majority of people are supporting violence to heinously violate them.