Sunday, 17 December 2017

Reproductive Rights?

In Our Hands, by Charles Murray

The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is considered by many people to be a somewhat left-wing idea. However, there are those on the right who defend it. In this book, right-wing libertarian Charles Murray makes a case for something along the lines of a UBI. In this he is following in the heels of Milton Friedman's advocacy of a Negative Tax. I understand Charles Murray has expressed some very unpleasant and un-progressive views, however, his advocacy of a guaranteed minimum income is to be commended.

Murray proposes giving every citizen a guaranteed income of $13,000, of which $3000 must be spend on health insurance. This payment would replace all other welfare cash transfers. He argues that this will enable people to take responsibility for their own choices and to be independent. He argues that this UBI could replace all existing welfare payments and thus reduce the cost of bureaucracy, a key incentive for those on the right who support UBI.

Our author argues for the inequity of cash transfers that are made to specific groups of citizens, as opposed to public goods that benefit all. One example that he never touches on are social security payments made to disabled citizens. Presumably he does not think they require any additional payments beyond his proposed UBI. Yet disabled people often have all kinds of needs that cannot be managed via an ordinary income. They may need to pay for special equipment like mobility aids or adapted cars, taxi rides or payments for carers. I imagine he thinks that such expenses could be covered by private charities, but can we be sure that charities would have the resources to cover such vast needs? What is more, might not disabled people feel demeaned by having to rely on charities rather than receiving social security from the state? Murray has a lot to say about the strength of voluntary assistance and private charities prior to the New Deal, but even he admits that not every need in society was covered in those days. I do not share his confidence that private charity and voluntary assistance could flourish so easily in today's society.

I am largely in agreement with what Murray advocates in this book, but I am not confortable with all his argumentation and assumptions.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

One Minute to Ten, by Dan Hodges

Dan Hodges is a political commentator who currently writes for the Mail on Sunday (not to be confused with obnoxious Daily Mail). He was at one time a Labour supporter, but switched his allegiance to the Conservative Party. He has gained something of a reputation as a failed clairvoyant; having wrongly predicted the 2015 British election, the EU referendum, the US 2016 and the British election in June. At times he can be quite insightful, but he is far too positive in his analysis of Theresa May and he comes across as almost pathological in his attacks on the Labour Party. I think Corbyn is bad news, but we have to understand why he is supported by so many and keep in mind that Brexit could do even more damage to this country than Corbyn.

In this book, Hodges gives us a picture of the 2015 election, when David Cameron's Conservatives won a surprise majority in the UK parliament. The title references the moment at 10:00 PM when the exit polls are allowed to be announced on election day. He tries to get inside the head of each of the three main party leaders, David Cameron, Ed Miliband (Labour) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) as they await the moment of truth. He tries to imagine and portray the psychology of each of these key players both at that moment and in the run up to the election. Our author brings to this task his experience as a journalist, emphasizing the way that stories are spun by the press. It's interesting that he doesen't say that much about social media. A similar book about the politics of 2016 and 2017 would have said much more about Facebook and Twitter, which gained increased prominence, especially since the EU referendum.

The election of 2015 now feels like something that happened a century ago; so much has changed in the world's politics, and not for the better. I remember after Cameron's victory, I felt like I was walking on air for a week, even though I had failed to win the council seat I was contesting. I would never have felt that way had Theresa May won her predicted majority in the election this year.

Winter Wolf

Friday, 15 December 2017

The National Interest: Why Trump Was the Real Loser in Alabama

The National Interest: Why Trump Was the Real Loser in Alabama

by Jacob Heilbrunn

Trump is vulnerable on two fronts, which is why he will be almost wholly reliant on this duo for protection. The first is of course the Russia investigation. Trump’s lawyers appear to be totally out of their league when it comes to dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team. Whether Mueller ends up targeting Trump or simply his associates remains an open question. But time may be running out for Trump: if the Democrats, as is now more likely, take both the House and Senate his presidency will be imperiled. The possibility that the GOP turns on Trump in an effort to preserve its congressional seats and that Trump, in turn, resigns the presidency this summer can no longer be discounted. With the passage of the tax bill, as Steve Bannon has noted, establishment Republicans really don’t need Trump any longer.

But perhaps the most dangerous development for Trump is the resurgence of interest in his past sexual history. Russia, shmussia. It’s a complicated story. There are too many moving parts for the public to get overly excited about. But sex? The question pretty much answers itself. Writing in the Washington Post, Karen Tumulty points to the dangers for Trump as the #MeToo movement gathers force. She observes, “Democrats Doug Jones’s unlikely victory may also be a sign that the formula for winning in a deeply polarized political climate, perfected by Trump, may not be so reliable as it seemed.”

Postmillennial Worldview: A Postmillennial Christmas

Postmillennial Worldview: A Postmillennial Christmas

Christ’s reign over his kingdom begins at his first coming (Mt 4:17; 12:28) and will gradually increase over time (Mt 13:31–33). In prophecy Christ appears as the son or branch of David (Jer 23:5; 33:13), or as David himself (Jer 30:9; Eze 34:23, 23; 37:24; Hos 3:5). After his resurrection he ascends to David’s throne (Ac 2:30–31), which represents God’s throne (1Ch 28:5; 29:23). His reign brings peace, for he is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). Calvin puts it well in his commentary on Isaiah (vol. 1, p. 96). This peace grows incrementally through history in that Christ “extends its boundaries far and wide, and then preserves and carries it forward in uninterrupted progression to eternity.”

The Guardian: Anna Soubry receives messages calling for her to be hanged as a traitor

The Guardian: Anna Soubry receives messages calling for her to be hanged as a traitor

Anna Soubry, one of the 11 Conservative MPs who defied government whips this week when the government suffered its first Commons defeat over Brexit, has received multiple messages saying she should be hanged as a traitor.

Messages received by Soubry’s office – usually seen first by her parliamentary staff – also feature abuse, with one Facebook message saying: “Go hang yourself slag.”

It follows death threats to Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, who drew up the amendment to the EU withdrawal bill that passed on Wednesday by 309 votes to 305, ensuring MPs must have a final vote on any Brexit deal.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 13th December

The Guardian: What are British values? And are faith schools really undermining them?

The Guardian: What are British values? And are faith schools really undermining them?

by Catherin Pepinster

"Targeting faith schools wholesale can have unintended consequences. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition introduced a mandatory cap on the intake of believers to all new faith schools, requiring that a new institution would take 50% of its pupils from outside its faith population. The Catholic church stopped building new schools, because the policy broke its canon law, forbidding it from turning away students based on their Catholic faith.

When Theresa May became prime minister, she promised to overturn the policy, with No 10 saying it had been created to make faith schools more diverse but had failed because Catholic schools were more ethnically diverse than others, as well as more successful. Since May lost her majority, this U-turn appears to have been shunted to one side, with education secretary Justine Greening said to have indicated she doesn’t think it a priority.

But faith schools are a priority – for the thousands who attend them, for the thousands who want to do so, for those critics who rightly want to weed out the worst performers. And especially for the parents who want the freedom to choose these schools for their children. Now, that freedom is surely a fundamental British value. Ofsted, take note."

Wow, an article in The Guardian defending faith schools. Great stuff.

National Review: It’s Never Fun to Lose a Senate Seat, But the GOP Dodged a Bullet

National Review: It’s Never Fun to Lose a Senate Seat, But the GOP Dodged a Bullet

by Jim Geraghty

"Roy Moore may very well have been the worst Senate nominee for any major party in American history. Even if you dismissed the allegations of him sexually pursuing teenagers in his 30s – and there was no compelling reason to believe Moore’s shifting denials –he managed to create appalling new controversies in almost every appearance.

He completely avoided the campaign trail in the final days, because he could not be trusted to speak to the public.

Despite the frustration of a 52-seat majority becoming a 51-seat majority, tonight’s result is in fact, a long-term victory for the Republican Party. Had Moore gone to the Senate, he would have faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation. Had that investigation brought back anything less than a full exoneration, GOP senators would have faced the decision of whether to expel him. As is, Moore could be counted on to create new controversies every time he faced the cameras; every Republican would constantly be asked if they agreed with their fellow senator’s controversial contentions about “reds and yellows,” unnecessary Constitutional Amendments, the wisdom of Vladimir Putin, or whether America was the focus of evil in the modern world."

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Feast of Saint Lucy

May the glorious intercession of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy give us new heart, we pray, O Lord, so that we may celebrate her heavenly birthday in this present age and so behold things eternal. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Lucy, pray for us, for Sicily and for Sweden.

A Message to Alabama

Karen Ingala Smith: This thing about male victims

Karen Ingala Smith: This thing about male victims

"Women overestimate their own use of violence but underestimate their victimisation. Women normalise, discount, minimise, excuse their partners’ domestic and sexual violence against them. Women find ways to make it their fault.

In contrast, men overestimate their victimisation and underestimate their own violence.2 Men are more likely to exaggerate a women’s provocation or violence to make excuses for initiating violence and, where retaliation has occurred, in an attempt to make it appear understandable and reasonable. Paul Keene, used the defence of provocation for his killing of Gaby Miron Buchacra. His defence claimed that he was belittled by her intellectual superiority and that he lost control after rowing with her by text over a twelve hour period. That a jury accepted his defence is a further example of how men’s violence is minimised and excused. Not only by men and the women they assault, but by the legal system. The right to claim abuse as a mitigating factor in domestic violence homicide cases was vitally important for women like Kiranjit Aluwahlia, Emma Humphreys and Sara Thornton, all of whom had suffered years of violence and abuse at the hands of the men they killed. That such a defence could be used in Paul Keene’s case only illustrates how differently women and men who use violence are treated."

It's become increasingly common for people, including many domestic violence specialists to claim that male victims of domestic abuse are as common as female victims. Karen Ingala Smith demonstrates how statistics that purport to show this are inadequate. The pushing of this notion of men as equal victims seems to be part of a reaction against feminism.

The Backbencher: The Conservative case for a Universal Basic Income

The Backbencher: The Conservative case for a Universal Basic Income

by Sam Ancliff

"Conservatives need to adopt this idea and champion it for two reasons: First of all, this will give everyone a cushion to fall back on, I have been unemployed and I have been an entrepreneur, both times a UBI would have made a world of difference to my life and helped get me off the ground on days where I felt like I had a mountain ahead of me. Secondly, I truly believe that the Conservative Party is the party of the working class, a UBI would not just be there for those who do not want to work, who just want to claim off the system, it would be there for those single working parents, scraping by on minimum wage trying to support two children, it would be there for that hardworking builder who has fell on hard times, it would be there to escalate hundreds of thousands of people out of working poverty, giving everyone true spending power.

It would also allow people to begin to enjoy our lives, we spend about half of our waking life at work throughout the majority of our years, this would allow more people to adopt flexi-time or part-time hours and give them more of their lives back, this in turn would create more jobs as more and more people job share. With an age of automation and AI looming a head of us, which is expected to take up 1/3 of all jobs in Britain, a UBI is going to become more and more necessary in the future. The Conservatives and the UK Government could pioneer the way forward and set the precedence. We can plant the flag and become the champion of a UBI and prove we are truly the party for the many, not the few."

It's very encouraging to see another Tory arguing in favour of a universal basic income.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son's most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe

You... are the fountain of my life,
Under your shadow... in your protection,
I fear no evil... no pain no worry.
Maria, O most merciful Mother,
Gentle virgin...
with the name Guadalupe.
On a mountain... we find roses in winter,
All the world... has been touched by your love.
Here... in the crossing of your arms,
Could there be anything... else that I need?
Nothing discourage... nothing depress me.
You...are the
star of the ocean,
My boat is small... and the waves are so high.
But with you to guide me... I’ll reach my homeland.
You... are the dawn of a new day,
For you give birth... to the Son of the Father.
All of my lifetime... I’ll walk beside you.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us, for Mexico and for all who are involved in the pro-life movement.

Monday, 11 December 2017

NBC News: Ambassador Haley says Trump accusers have right to be heard

NBC News: Ambassador Haley says Trump accusers have right to be heard

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that the women who accused President Donald Trump of sexual impropriety have a right to be heard.

Haley, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," broke from the Trump administration line on the 16 sexual misconduct allegations that face the president. The White House has said that the women who have accused Trump were lying and voters rejected their accusations when they elected Trump.