Frenzied Bottom Feeders

Jami-Lee Ross In The Best Place

A week or so ago we were discussing with a colleague the trials and tribulations of one Jami-Lee Ross and the National Party.  We were bold enough at the time to suggest that Ross was possibly showing signs of manic behaviour that would only get more extreme over time until he received medical treatment.  Our boldness in making such an observation was based significantly upon our experience within our extended family of manic-depression. 

Our experience has been such that we can testify that the affliction is no laughing matter.  We also have had experience of the difficulty of getting suitable and appropriate medical intervention.  The fundamental problem is that someone in a manic phase believes themselves to be the only rational person in the room.  Their heightened personality characteristics often make them seem to others to be truthful, compelling, insightful, clever, and far smarter than the average bear.  Getting that person to acknowledge they need medical help can be very, very difficult.  More often than not they are left “free” to go on their way, becoming more and more extreme in attitude and behaviour until they do serious damage to themselves or others.  The media’s salivating over every word Ross has uttered in the past ten days has made this the more than likely outcome.

The law is structured in such a way as to presume the person in question is a free, responsible citizen.  Therefore, before police and medical specialists can become involved there is often a desperately difficult period when the afflicted person is left to their own devices.  It is a time of heightened risk.  If, for example, they have a vehicle and a license such people are allowed to drive.  They (naturally) have a high degree of misplaced confidence in their abilities as a driver.  They can end up putting others, let alone themselves, in danger. 

On the other hand, if they do themselves (and/or others) harm it can be the key to persuading the mental health authorities that involuntary apprehension will be justifiable in law. 

When the relevant medical experts become sufficiently alarmed, they can arrange for the police to pick up (“arrest”) the manic individual, who then can be involuntarily confined to a psych ward in a hospital. This is the stage now reached by Ross.  Such people do not lose all their civil rights, however.  They can request a hearing before a judge and argue their case for release from involuntary apprehension.  We have witnessed a judge make an absolutely stupid decision–releasing a manic person back into the community at great risk to himself and others.  At this point the wider family can do nothing but hunker down and wait for the next catastrophe which will warrant the police and health authorities to re-apply the Mental Health Act.  On the brighter side, however, most judges we have dealt with over such matters are both wise and experienced. 

When consigned to the medical wards, the objective is to stabilize the patient under a regime of drugs which gradually eases the manic aspects.  The patient is able to return to a state much closer to normality, rather than living in a mental frame whereby they think themselves to be a Master of the Universe.  When this stabilization has occurred, the psychiatrists are then able to start working on longer term solutions that will allow the patient to return to the community. 

As we noted above, if Jami-Lee Ross has been going through a manic episode, he is now in the best place possible for the moment.   Privacy, on the one hand, and support from family and close friends, along with continued treatment by the health authorities,  is vital at these and subsequent stages. 

We fear, though, that the media will continue to hound Ross upon his release to the point that the work of the professionals will be rapidly undermined.   Will the sensationalist media behave?  We hope so. 

We fear, however, that sensation and partisan politics will prove too much for the frenzied bottom feeders.   


A Movie So Compelling Hollywood Had To Ignore It

“Gosnell” Movie Breaks Top 10 Nationally Despite Media Blackout

Steven Ertelt

Despite a media blackout and virtually no coverage outside conservative media circles, the new movie “Gosnell” made the list of top 10 movies across the United States over the weekend. Coming in at the #10 spot, Gosnell came in ahead of other movies with much wider releases — as the film is appearing in just 673 theaters nationwide.

CDespite the more limited release, Gosnell outperformed A Simple Favor, The Nun,  and the blockbuster film Crazy Rich Asians. Every other movie except for one that appeared higher in the weekend top 10 list was shown to Americans in thousands of theaters. It was also the only movie to gain in audience on Sunday, with over $1.23 million in ticket sales though the weekend. Every other movie saw a Sunday dropoff.

Had Gosnell opened in 2,800 theaters like other movies in the top 10 list it would have finished in 7th place for the weekend — making it more popular per theater than The House With a Clock in Its Walls and Bad Times at the El Royale.

But those who are watching the movie are giving in tremendously high ratings. It has a 67% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and 99% of those viewing it said they liked it. Here are some of the reviews:

“Well-acted and compelling. Even without going full-on graphic, the film achieves real power,” says Mike McGranaghan.

“Perhaps we should be glad that mainstream Hollywood, just like the mainstream media, had no interest in this story. It’s almost impossible to believe they would have told it so well,” adds Megan Basham.

And Christian Toto adds: “Gosnell delivers one of the most chilling portraits of evil we’ve seen in ages.”

Gosnell unmasks the shocking true story of the investigation and trial of Kermit Gosnell, a man who performed countless illegal, late-term abortions and murdered several born children as well.

He is the abortion practitioner who killed babies in live-birth abortions that were more akin to infanticide than abortion. The media virtually ignored Kermit Gosnell until the pro-life movement launched a concerned effort to call them out on their bias during the early stages of his trial for murder.

Now, Gosnell is in prison, having been convicted of murder in the deaths of multiple babies,though he was accused of killing thousands of viable babies. Still, one report from Gallup showed a large percentage of Americans still have no idea who Gosnell is and what he did.

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer opened nationwide on October 12 and stars Dean Cain as the detective who put Gosnell behind bars.

Movie executive director Phelim McAleer previously told LifeNews that, despite the grisly, horrific nature of the case, what astounded him the most was the lack of a media presence covering Gosnell’s trial. “This is one of the biggest stories I’ve ever seen, I’ve ever heard about, and there was no coverage at all,” he said.

After the events of Gosnell’s case concluded, McAleer and his wife, fellow journalist and documentarian Ann McElhinney, decided to take matters into their own hands.

“I just assumed then once he [Gosnell] was convicted, that there was going to be a mega movie, because why wouldn’t you make a movie out of this?” McAleer said. “So I waited and waited and I realized, wow, no one’s making a movie out of this? That’s because they don’t want—Hollywood doesn’t want to touch this story or cover this story. So, if they’re not going to do it, then I should do it. We’ve done this before; we’ve been telling stories all of our lives. We’ll just make a movie, and we did.”

Once the idea was set, the next major task was to allocate money to make the film. McAleer decided to crowdfund, a strategy he has used for previous films. He and his wife initially went to Kickstarter to fundraise, but they faced censorship on that site.

“Kickstarter said ‘yeah, you can [fundraise] here, but you have to change the description of your project,” McAleer said.

McAleer was asked to remove terms like “murder,” “murdering babies,” and “stabbing babies” from the description of their project, because the words were deemed offensive to Kickstarter’s community values. Gosnell was, in fact, convicted of murdering three newborn babies, and witnesses who testified at the trial said he killed them by stabbing the backs of the babies’ necks with scissors.

“I don’t want to be part of a community that has standards that force you to lie,” McAleer said.

McAleer and McElhinney then pulled out of Kickstarter and proceeded to fundraise via Indiegogo, a similar fundraising website. Their campaign went well, to say the least. Nearly 30,000 people raised $2.3 million in 45 days for “Gosnell,” which broke the website’s fundraising record. Even though McAleer and his wife made Indiegogo history, there was little fanfare.

“No mainstream media has ever written a story on us. When they write nice puffy stories about crowdfunding, they seem to forget to include us. And you know, it’s a movie that exposes them, shows them off for the agenda-driven PACs that they are. Our movie is saying the things that they don’t want to talk about—the negative side of abortion and how the media covers things up,” he said.

“Gosnell” features some A-list names, including director Nick Searcy (“The Shape of Water”) and Dean Cain (“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”). However, some actors were reluctant to accept roles, and after being cast, some stepped down.

“So Hollywood didn’t want to touch this film…You know Hollywood, they give themselves awards for bravery, but they’re not that brave,” McAleer said.

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Psalms 14:4-7

4 Will evildoers never understand? They eat up my people like they eat up bread; they do not call on Yahveh. 5 Then they will be filled with fright , because God is with those who are righteous. 6 You sinners frustrate the plans of the oppressed, but Yahveh is his refuge. 7 Oh, that Israel’s deliverance would come from Zion! When Yahveh restores the wellbeing of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

The psalmist calls on a people whose plans are being frustrated, and whose wellbeing has been lost. That I can understand. I know what it feels like to be wronged. Faith calls me to rejoice and be glad. I don’t feel like doing that. But if I truly believe in God, I will worship and praise him for my coming deliverance.


Recently I’ve been experimenting with black and white photography and trying to capture the stark reality of an urban suburban landscape. But as I contemplated Psalm 88 I was also aware of places where life seemed to grow in difficult situations… grass growing in a gutter, a weed bathed in sunlight (glowing even) high up on an old brisk façade… and a black bird  singing its heart out a top an old cracked brick… seeming impervious to the fact that for most Kiwi’s we now view such brickwork as an earthquake hazard… they are images that go well with Psalm 88… 
We may be more used to the idea of darkness as a friend from that Simon and Garfunkel classic the sound of silence with its opening line “hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again”… than the closing line of a psalm, but that is exactly how psalm 88 finishes ..with the psalmist saying darkness…darkness is my closest friend. It is according to EM Blaiklock the ‘saddest and darkest psalm in the whole psalter. IT is one wail of sorrow from beginning to end.” You could say that from go to woe… well it’s just all woe. Another commentator says… its uniqueness is in its bleakness. “Psalm 88 is unmatched in its tone of darkness and despair”.  The only glimmer of light is the first line, “Lord, you are the God who saves me”, kind of like the last comforting rays of the sunset before the long dark night envelops the psalmist as he waits for God.

Yet, Psalm 88 is as canonical as Psalm 23. One of the amazing things about the psalms is that within them the whole of human experience is raised up before God.  AS such it is “proper that it should contain the record of an hour so dark that no relief comes” (EM Blaiklock). From the introduction to this psalm we see that it was put to a tune, it was a song that was designed for corporate worship, so it was meant not only as a personal expression of suffering and waiting for God to act but as a corporate one as well, drawing together people to acknowledge a shared pain and longing and disquiet. I could imagine the exiles by the rivers of Babylon singing this sort of psalm as they wept, as they remembered Zion. It reverberates with the cry of people who have suffered oppression down through the ages.

It echoes the cries of people of faith who have wrestled with unanswered prayer. In the midst of running an international prayer movement, Pete Greig’s wife suffered a serious medical problem and it seemed no amount of prayer helped. He wrote a book about this experience called, ‘God on Mute”. In it he includes an appendix called “heroes of the faith and unanswered prayer”. It lists quotes from biblical and historical heroes of the faith as they have wrestled with suffering and the seeming silence of heaven. Missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, on hearing about the massacre of 58 of his missionaries and 21 children… ‘I cannot read; I cannot think; I cannot even pray; but I can trust”  St john of the Cross… “the Dark Night of the Soul… in this time of dryness, spiritual people undergo great trials… they believe that spiritual blessings are a thing of the past and that God has abandoned them”. Mother Theresa “ I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God, and that God does not exist.” CS Lewis reflecting on the death of his wife… “what chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers Joy and I offered and all the false hopes we had…  step by step we were led up the garden path.’ Time after time, when he seemed most gracious he was really preparing the next torture.” But these people are heroes of the faith, they are people of great faith.   If we are honest, as followers of Jesus, in a good but fallen world, Psalm 88 is our song as well, not that we have lost our faith, that we do not trust God, but that at some stage in our spiritual journey there is a good chance we have found ourselves in that dark place of psalm 88.

Maybe that’s not the stuff you want to hear on a long holiday weekend, but in our season of prayer this year we are looking at surprising spiritual disciplines, and Psalm 88 invites us to look at honesty in prayer as a spiritual discipline. It is raw and its real, and I don’t want to do it a disservice by just turning it as a text book for praying when it’s difficult, or making it a series of points, dispensing a couple of platitudes and pat answers.  So these are more just hopefully helpful reflections.

In fact the psalm comes from a place where there seems to be no simple answer, it’s part of the wisdom literature in the Hebrew Scriptures that wrestles with the question of evil, why bad things happen to good people. It has many similarities with the book of Job, the Psalmist is sick and facing death and disaster, he feels like Job, that God is unjustly turned away from him and he finds no comfort in friends and neighbors, in fact they simply add to his suffering. While there are good theological answers to the question of suffering and evil in the end the people of God resort to poetry and song to bring out the depth of that suffering.

The  psalm is written by Heman the Ezrahite, and when I read that I couldn’t help thinking about another He-man. The Maters of the Universe was a range of toys put out by Mattel in the 1980’s. It was the first range of toys that a comic book range, animated TV show and film were written around and produced to specifically market the toys. The key hero was He-man and his catch cry was “I have the Power” he was unrealistically muscled and was marketed as the “the strongest man in the universe”, able to battle evil and injustice in his own strength, or at least with the help of a magic sword. But that is a plastic toy,  a made up myth, maybe the first ever myth of western consumerism, simply to sell product it’s not a reality. We can end up having a plastic unreal faith, with no real substance and depth.  Part of the honesty of prayer as a spiritual discipline, is to recognize times in our lives, and situations that leave us perplexed and feeling like our prayers simply echo off the ceiling and go no further than our voice can carry. We are used to hiding our doubts and questions, our wondering about the power and goodness of God. We need to be willing to be like Heman the Ezrahite, not He-man the figurine, and cry out in those times to God., strength comes from honesty… I think that is what the recent openness about mental health issues and struggles is teaching us again.

One of the things this psalm does is allow us to know we are not alone in wrestling with God, we are not alone in facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties, we are not alone in feeling alone and unloved. We are not alone in still having faith and trusting in God even in the face of what may seem like God’s absence.

Eighty eight is what Walter Brueggemann calls a psalm of disorientation, when what we believe about God does not equate with what we are experiencing,” as U2 say in their song Peace on Earth “when hope and history won’t rhyme”. The Psalmist sums it up well in verse 7 by saying that “you have overwhelmed me with all your waves”. You get the picture of being caught by wave after wave, till you are struggling for breath and can’t find which way is up.

The second thing is that even in the absence of an answer from God the psalmist does not abandon his hope. As we said before the only glimmer of light in this psalm is in the first line “lord, you are the God who saves me”. What enables the Psalmist to continue in his dark place is what he knows about the person and the character of God. What he knows from the scriptures and history of God’s dealing with his people and what he may have experienced in his own life. That is the call to us as well, what we know of God’s goodness, what we have seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the promise of the Holy Spirit’s presence with us, is not changed by the situation, it is not voided like a dodgy warranty by our emotions and feelings, it is not  made untrue by our personal experience. Pete Grieg says that during his time of unanswered prayer he even tried being an atheist, but he didn’t make a good atheist because he kept telling God he didn’t believe in him anymore.

What shapes our understanding of the world is not our experience of it, good or bad, but our understanding of God. Our prayer life needs to resound with and be shaped and directed by our understanding of God through the reading and study of scripture. Martin Luther in a letter to his barber talked about the fact that he does not trust himself to pray his own prayers but each day his prayer came out of his scripture reading, alongside that he said that he used the Lord’s Prayer as the model for his prayer. It is this finding ourselves deeply rooted in the biblical understanding of God that enables to wrestle with the sense of his absence in the hard and dark times. It does not lessen our experience or our pain or disorientation rather it allows us to move through that to a reorientation and a deeper faith.

The other thing is the psalmist’s sense that God is not answering does not stop him from praying. He has a regular discipline of morning and evening prayer.   Day and night he cries to God I says in verse 2. “I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread my hands out to you”, in verse 9, “but I cry for help, Lord, in the morning my prayer comes before you.”  In verse 13. Keeping that relationship is of central importance to him, regardless of the outcome. That is the way that Walter Bruggeman talks of another type of Psalm within the psalter, psalms of reorientation, where people of faith have wrestled with the question and the lack of answer and in it they have found that some peace and comfort is to be found in the abiding presence of God, weather or not the conflict or problem has been resolved. In the psalms of ascent, Psalm 130 is a lament like psalm 88, where the writers longing for God to answer his cries is pictured being like a watchman on the city walls staring off into the dark, waiting for the hope and safety of the dawn. In the very next Psalm almost as a response, the writer says he has learned to be still and content like a weaned child on its mother’s knee. No more the frantic calling out for its needs to be meet but simply content with its mother’s presence to comfort. In his letter to the Philippians, paul summarises this reorientation when he says I have learned to be content when I have a lot or when I have nothing, when I am hungry or when I’ve had my full because I have learned the secret to contentment ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. While this passage is often quoted with the emphasis on the “I”, “I can do all things”… “I have the Power”… I’m sure the emphasis for Paul is on the through Christ who strengthens me… the abiding presence of Christ.

The motto of the life boat service on the ragged and storm tossed coast of the Atlantic “Is we must go out”, they are there for the very times when the rest of us are wanting to be safe and secure in on shore at home, in the worst of waves and the worst of storms where they fear for their lives, and others lives are in danger. It’s not what they do in those times that means they are able to operate and go about their life saving duties in the roughest of conditions, rather it is the training and the training and the long hours they out into doing their routines and their jobs when its calm weather and good seas that enables them to do what they do. While it says in James that as we face hard times our faith is made strong, and perfected, the developing of good spiritual disciplines is what keeps us persevering through the hard.

There is an element in Psalm 88 as well of emotional release. There is a phycological side to prayer. Being honest with God is a way that those emotions and that form that knot at the core of our being can be released. Once they are expressed and out there they can be addressed and dealt with. Another psalm that I wrestle with is Psalm 109. The psalmist calls out to God in righteous anger as one who has been wronged, and he calls on God to bring justice on his enemies in no uncertain terms. It’s the kind of prayer that makes you think that we believe in a wrathful and vengeful God. But as I have meditated on it, I see it as the psalmist praying knowing that God can be trusted with his anger and pain and trusted to act in a right way. Christian folk singer Barry McGuire, says that Christians are called to be shock absorbers in the world, to take the anger and the bad in the world and not to simply pass it back or on. Neither are we to internalise it and let it fester there, but to be able to pass it God and return Good for evil. That is one of the things that we are able to do with Prayer. God’s reply to psalm 109, is not the flash of lightening and a pile of ashes, but rather we see it that Christ stepped into our world, in Jesus Christ, he showed us a better way, the way of love, and then died on the cross to forgive us all, and was raised to life so we could have a fresh start and new life in Christ.

When we come to studying the scriptures one of the important things that we need to do is to view a verse in the context of a passage and a passage in the context of its wider work, and we can often forget that when we come to Psalms they seem to stand alone, but the fact is that they are placed in their sequence by an editor or complier. Psalm 88 comes between psalm 87 and 89…I know that sounds rather inane, but it finds itself between a short strong affirmation of God’s abiding love for his people and for Zion, and a long prayer that talks of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty through all generations and all circumstances. If we are honest about our lives and our prayer life we recognise that they are very much bound by the limitations of time and space. The hear and the now, and we find it hard to see beyond the night to the new day, the hard time to the hope of fresh days and fresh starts. But that is how this psalm is placed in the book.

EM Blaiklock says that Psalm 88 has been seen as a gethsemane prayer, when we look and all we can see is the cross and death. In fact it reflects the belief in old testament Judaism that death was final, a belief that was in Jesus day expressed by a party within the Jewish faith called the sadducees, but that as Christians we can look beyond that to an empty tomb, that we know that God’s plans go beyond this little day, that there is a new page waiting to be written, that while we may find it a dark night for our soul, the hope is that our future is in and with Christ.

Which brings us to our new testament reading from 1 peter 5 and how I want to finish this reflection. Peter tells us to humble ourselves before the Lord, under God’s almighty hand… to realise that God is sovereign and in control and can be trusted with the whole of life, both its highs and its lows, and that we should cast all our anxiety on God… because he cares for us.


Different Hymn Sheets and Drummers

Poland and Hungary Out of Euro-Step

It is ironic indeed that the European Union permitted Hungary and Poland to join its rank of nations.  Doubtless there were plenty of European eurocrats who assumed that these two nations would gradually be moulded into secular humanistic nations and eventually join the rest of Europe in spirit as well as form. 

But things are not working out too well in that regard–at least at the moment.  Hungary and Poland are insisting that their self-identity as Christian nations be respected by the secularist nations in the rest of the EU.  A recent case in point occurred when Poland and Hungary refused to sign an EU Human Rights report because it happened to make no mention of persecution against Jews and Christians.

The European Union’s annual report on civil rights will not be officially adopted because it will be vetoed by member states Poland and Hungary, which complain that while it describes protecting LGBT people and immigrants, the growing persecution of Christians and Jews is not mentioned.

Poland was first to stand up against the document, with Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro announcing his nation would not ratify the report on Thursday. Because the update on the application of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, published annually since 2010, has failed to be approved unanimously by all EU member states, the 2017 edition would not now be adopted at all.

Poland was subsequently joined by fellow central-European conservative nation Hungary in opposition to the document’s contents, which a Polish government source told wPolityce “is important, because it shows that we are not alone in the important matter of defending Christian rights in Europe and in the world”.

 Leading Polish broadsheet Rzeczpospolita reports the reasoning of Justice Minister Ziobro on the decision to block the European Union report, when he explained that small acts of religious hatred, as having been visited upon Christians in Europe recently, can lead to greater acts.

Ziobro said: “It is the cause of physical attacks on those who bear symbols of faith, such as beating a year ago two Polish women returning from the Holy Mass in a church in Brussels or a resident of Berlin who had Christian crosses around his neck.    It is the reason for attacks on religious objects, such as arson in July of a church in Orléans in France or throwing Molotov cocktails in a Swedish synagogue in Gothenburg.”

When Poland asked the European committee chairman to add religious groups to the rights report on an equal footing to “persons with different sexual orientations, children of immigrants, or women”, the EU body agreed to add Muslims, to which Poland is reported to have agreed to. When it was subsequently made clear that religious groups would be removed altogether, Poland objected.

Contrasting its own record to that of the broader European Union, the Justice ministry under Ziobro took the occasion of the Fundamental Rights report to note that Poland was one of the first European nations to give votes to women, and has never criminalised homosexuality.



Psalms 14:1-3

1 The stupid one says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt; they do disgusting things. There is no one who does good. 2 Yahveh looks down from the sky on humanity to see if there is anyone who is wise, anyone who seeks God. 3 Everyone has turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.

Paul used this passage to show that no one perfectly follows God’s law, so all are in need of grace. The psalmist was referring to Israel’s enemies. But notice that he said that they have all turned away. That implies a previous awareness of God’s existence, no matter what they might claim. So, Paul was not talking the psalm out of context. It applies to all of us, no matter what our confession. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.


Boris Johnson Beats the Drum

The EU Is Treating Britain’s Constitution with Contempt

Oliver J J Lane
Breitbart London

The European Union is working to violate the very basis of the United Kingdom and even annex part of the country as an economic colony, high-profile Tory rebel Boris Johnson has said, in his continued assault against the Prime Minister’s soft Brexit plan.

Although one-time Foreign Secretary and former Mayor of London Johnson was widely seen to have bottled his chance of challenging Theresa May’s leadership when he stepped back from the brink at the Conservative Party conference where he even gave a craven message of support for the Prime Minister, he has continued sniping from the sidelines since.

In his latest intervention into the Brexit negotiation process — published in the Daily Telegraph even as latest talks between British and European Union negotiators collapse — Johnson blasted the EU for offering the UK nothing but humiliation. Contrasting the humiliation of having Northern Ireland — Ulster — remain in the EU while the home nations of Great Britain leave and the humiliation of the whole United Kingdom being forced to remain in the Single Market against its own wishes, Johnson wrote:

It is a choice between two exquisitely embarrassing varieties of humiliation. It is an entirely false choice. It must be rejected, and it must be rejected now… In that sense it would mean violating the Act of Union of 1800, and the very basis on which this country is founded.

If we were to allow this economic annexation of Northern Ireland, by a foreign power, we would be treating Northern Irish MPs as somehow second class legislators, deprived now and forever of any say in many of the laws operational in their own constituencies. Even if the rest of the UK were able to do free trade deals, Northern Ireland would not be able to take part.

…It seems that in the last few days UK negotiators have agreed that we will remain in the “customs territory” of the EU, an even stronger commitment than remaining in the customs union. It means that for trading purposes the UK is simply conceived of as part of EU territory, as though it were a departement of France. We will be outside the EU but run by the EU, in the sense that from next year we will, of course, have no one in the Commission directorate of external trade, no influence over tariffs, and no ability to decide what trade and commercial policies will be pursued IN OUR OWN COUNTRY.

Emphasising his opposition to the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan and calling again for a free trade deal commonly called a ‘Super-Canada’ settlement, Johnson said the Chequers deal and the agreed so-called ‘backstop’ which has handed the EU negotiating leverage over Northern Ireland should be scrapped.

The latest comments came only days after Johnson warned the way Brexit is presently turning out, with endless concessions from Theresa May’s government and no accommodation by Brussels, it is likely to be the “greatest national humiliation since Suez”.



Psalms 13:4-6

4 My enemy will say, “I have triumphed over him,” and my foes will be glad because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your covenant faithfulness; my heart will be glad because of your deliverance. 6 I will sing to Yahveh because he has treated me kindly.

The psalmist is shaken, but not overwhelmed. His confidence is in God. He considered the possibility of his own death, but has concluded that even that would be no reason to give up his faith. God has treated him kindly in the past, and he expects deliverance in the present. If he were to fall asleep in death, the enemy would gloat. But God will have the final victory.


Part III: The Plaintives’ Cases Analyzed

A Balrog of Morgoth
In our triptych the first Plaintive insisted that members of the male “class” were destroying members of the female “class”.  The goal in view (apparently) was that the female class needed to rise up and destroy the male “class”.  The author insisted further that “woke” men–males like her husband who knew what was going on–join the females in this fight to the end.  Quick smart!

The counter case argued by Paglia is that such a view is destructive of human life and culture per se.  It called for a return to “classic feminism” where women were free to imitate male accomplishments, not reduce them to bad tempered, whimpering, screeching children. 

This clash between old-style and new-style feminism, however, sets forth a deeper and broader concern.  The clash is symptomatic of the centre of Western civilization having been lost.  This loss manifests itself firstly in an insistent demand that people be left free to do and be as they want.  They are to create their own truth, as seems good to them.  The second manifestation is the inevitable, perpetual clashes of different centres and different truths.  The end game is only apparent when one “truth” or one perspective manages to become dominant and suppress all others.  In the meantime, we live amidst the struggle–a struggle not about truth, but power.  There is a fight going on as to who will find and seize control of the One Ring:   

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them.

The struggle is not engaged by deploying reason, proofs, or deductions, but by silencing opponents via the infliction of violent rage upon them.

Paul Gosselin captures both stages when he writes:

Postmodern man is fragmented and this is reflected in his world view.  American sociologist Thomas Luckmann has pointed out that, in the same way the individual in the West is free to shop where he likes to get his groceries  or clothing, in ideologico-religious terms the individual is free to hit the ideological-religious market and shop for ideas and concepts and cobble together his own custom-made, individualized religion.  Under postmodernism, all options are open, nothing is excluded.  Unwittingly, we have become sophisticated religious syncretists.

The postmodern worldview also postulates that the individual is the measure of all things.  All transcendent, pancultural moral rules or standards are rejected. Absolutes are of no use to us.  Discussing this topic, a reporter once remarked that it is not surprising that we are so fascinated by criminals and serial killers.  Such outlaws push their individualism to the extreme limit.  Satisfying their instincts/needs becomes their only real ethic, regardless of the consequences to others. 

But if, as post modernism asserts, everyone has his or her own “truth”, when interests are in conflict, this leads to a stalemate.  In this context, real discussions or debates, cannot take place.  And why is that?  Where can one find a common ground to sort things out and arbitrate conflicting interests?  This has been disallowed.  To which benchmark or Standard would you refer to separate truth from various subjective opinions?  All we have left to sort out such matters are little more than power struggles and emotional manipulation, played out behind a ridiculous charade called “tolerance”. 

Those in power attempt to marginalize other ways of looking at things.  And if necessary (or desirable), alternate views can be stifled through legal means.  Recognized minorities can claim their rights while highlighting the oppression of the majority.  An excellent marginalization strategy is to label the assertions of the opposite party as “hate speech”.  Once this label has been applied there is no room for discussion.  Game over.  Critics of the consensus are then recognized by all for the heretics they truly are.  [Paul Gosselin, Flight From the Absolute: Cynical Observations on the Postmodern West.  Volume 1. (Quebec: Samizdat, 2012),  p.14f.]

In our triptych, both postmodernists represented (the early and the later) are cut from the same piece of timber.  The screeching wife filled with hate and rage represents the inevitable, logical extension of Paglia’s more accepting, rough-and-ready, live-and-let live postmodernism.  If Paglia, being the atheist that she professes to be, represents the fundamental relativity of all truth, Victoria Bissell Brown represents a more extreme, more chiseled, shaped, and polished version.  Granted it screeches more, yet it remains the more consistent manifestation of postmodernism. 

It uncloaks the One Ring to rule them all . . . and in the darkness bind them. 


Nailing Feet to the Floor

Fuel Taxes are Regressive Devices 

They Hurt the Working Poor

Daniel Newman

If Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants to uncover the root cause of motorist’s pain at the pump, she need only look in the mirror.  Labour has directed that the price of petrol and diesel is to rise by 3.5 cents a litre every year. On top of that, the Labour fuel tax hit Auckland motorists by an extra 11.5 cents (including GST) a litre on July 1.

This is precisely the reason why my Labour colleague Councillor Efeso Collins courageously voted against the Auckland-version of his own party’s fuel tax agenda. Speaking during that debate, Collins stated the obvious: “These taxes hit the poorest the most.”

Therein lies the problem for this government: Labour planned it that way.

Around $1.25 per litre is taken in excise taxes and GST. That money is taken by a government that needs a massive infusion of Crown revenue through both direct and indirect taxation to fund its budget programme.

Many of us have admired the Prime Minister’s statesmanlike performance on the international stage. But charming technocrats at the United Nations in New York is no substitute for dealing with the plight of the working poor in suburban South Auckland; the very people who helped elect this government are now bleeding through their skinny wallets.

These are arguments that a minority of us made earlier this year. The response? Ministers and their coterie of vested interests (starting with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff) chided us for being knockers and nay-sayers.

Labour has directed that the price of petrol and diesel is to rise by 3.5 cents a litre every year.
Transport is a difficult proposition for governments. The formula requires years of financial pain with little or no benefit in the form of new transport capital infrastructure in the short term. But even this conundrum is being exacerbated by the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.

While motorists previously paid for new state highways and arterial roads, that money is now being significantly diverted to fund experiments like slow-moving light rail in Auckland.

A government that is wholly committed to taxing the poorest commuters for the purpose of fundamentally changing busy arterial road corridors in Auckland so that we the sceptics and non-believers can enjoy trollies that travel at less than 25 km/h at full throttle.  How’s that for transformation? Do you feel short-changed yet?

I represent the Manurewa-Papakura Ward; some of the poorest people in Auckland are my constituents. Around 80 per cent of my constituents travel to and from work via a car. I represent shift workers, taxi drivers, mums and dads who drive their children across the city, people who need groceries, people whose movements are complex and who cannot easily align with a rigid timetable for a limited bus service.

​Trollies on Dominion Rd do not add to the transport choice available to my constituents, and the Prime Minister’s pollsters must surely be telling her that.

The punitive application of fuel taxes that trigger the wholesale redistribution of wealth from the poorest with the least choice to enable greater transport choice (albeit slow and inconvenient) for those who have the most is a conundrum that demands a political distraction. And so it is that the Prime Minister has singled out fuel companies.

The public has a right to know who is doing the fleecing. Fuel companies are not charities and New Zealand is at the furthermost reach of a long global commodity chain. The most obvious concession to relieve motorists’ pain is the thing the government can control: Its insatiable appetite for tax revenue.

The challenge for the Prime Minister is this: How do you distract the majority of New Zealand workers who are reminded of their financial pain every single week? This will need more than a diversion, it requires a policy change.

Daniel Newman is an Auckland Councillor representing the Manurewa-Papakura Ward