Thursday, September 16, 2021

Leader says Poland wants to be in EU, but remain sovereign

Poland's most powerful politician says the country's future is in the European Union and that there will be “no Polexit,” but that Poland at the same time wishes to remain a sovereign country.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski who is the head of the ruling conservative Law and Justice party, made his comments in an interview with state news agency PAP that was published Wednesday.

It follows some harsh comments last week about the 27-member bloc from some key members of his party which led many opposition politicians to accuse the country's leadership of seeking to take the country out of the EU.

Some political observers in Poland, where support for EU membership is very high, also fear that harsh comments about the EU could put Poland on a path to leaving the bloc by accident.

But Kaczynski told PAP that Poland won't follow Britain s example and won't leave the EU.

“There will be no Polexit. It’s a propaganda invention that has been used many times against us,” said Kaczynski, who is also a deputy prime minister. “We univocally see the future of Poland in the European Union.”

Last week, two high-ranking Law and Justice officials made strong comments about the EU after the bloc moved to punish Poland financially for actions that increase the governing party’s control over the courts. Brussels says they violate the rule of law.

Ryszard Terlecki, the party's deputy leader, said that if things don't go the way Poland likes, “we will have to search for drastic solutions.”

"The British showed that the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy did not suit them and turned around and left,” he said.

Marek Suski, another leading party member, said that Poland “will fight the Brussels occupier” just as it fought the Nazi and Soviet occupiers in the past.

Suski added: “Brussels sends us overlords who are supposed to bring Poland to order, to put us on our knees, so that we might be a German state, and not a proud state of free Poles.”

Poland accuses the EU of infringing on its sovereignty by opposing changes to the country’s judicial system introduced by the government, which is led by Law and Justice.

Kaczynski argued that rule of law is an area of responsibility alone for the member states and “cannot be the subject of the type of interference that is currently occurring.”

In his opinion, member states aren't being treated equally, which goes against the bloc's principles.

“We want to be in the (European) Union, but at the same time we want to remain a sovereign state,” he said. “We want what was agreed in the treaties to be very strictly observed.”

The EU, however, argues that because the EU's legal order is integrated, it is essential to protect the independence of courts in each member state.


Democrats’ tax hikes would slam economy and hurt the working class

Democrats have delayed talking about the pain that goes with their plans for $3.5 trillion in new social spending, but details are finally leaking out: The House plan includes $2.9 trillion in tax hikes that are sure to reverse the economic gains made in the years before COVID hit.

A document from the House Ways and Means Committee includes jumping the now-top personal-income-tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent — plus a new 3 percent surtax on high incomes and expansion of the 3.8 percent ObamaCare tax to cover most income, for an effective top rate over 46 percent.

It’d also boost the top capital-gains rate from 20 percent to 25 percent, and the corporate rate from 21 percent to 26.5 percent. Most small businesses would see a federal rate over 40 percent.

Laughably, they pretend the plan would boost economic growth and so increase federal tax receipts, to cover the rest of the spendapalooza.

Senate Dems are looking at their own list of tax hikes, including a $600 billion “carbon tax” that would sock anyone with a car, home or business.

The Democratic line is that these hikes would only harm corporations and the super-wealthy. Bull: Taxes on investment and employers wind up slamming the little guy; the Trump approach of cutting taxes on job-creators brought the first real gains in wages for the working class in decades.

The pandemic put that boom on hold, but it would return if Democrats let well enough alone.

No wonder they put off discussing the bill for their “transformative” dreams.


‘Defund police’ Squad members are biggest spenders on private security

Squad members are relying on the protection that they would deny their own constituents

It’s a tight race among "defund the police" Democrats in this year’s chutzpah Olympics, but New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other House members of "the Squad" are well-positioned to take home the gold. Fully embracing the politics of "good for thee, but not for me," AOC, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts’s Ayanna Pressley, and the newest Squad member, Missouri’s Cori Bush, are among the most vocal advocates for defunding — while also being, according to Federal Election Commission reports, among the biggest spenders on personal security.

All these legislators support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House last summer but has stalled in the Senate. Pressley has also sponsored the BREATHE Act, a bill supported by Black Lives Matters leaders, who believe the Floyd Act doesn’t go far enough. The BREATHE Act, which calls for total elimination of federal law enforcement agencies, particularly those assigned to curtail illegal drug and immigration activities, would initially apply only at the federal level but would ultimately affect state and local policing in these areas as well.

With Squad support, Pressley has sponsored the reintroduced Ending Qualified Immunity Act, which makes it easier for individuals to sue state and local officials, primarily police. She and Bush are also among the sponsors of the People’s Response Act, which aims to create a public-safety agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, to replace incarceration with health-based alternatives, and to provide $7.5 billion in grants to community-based organizations as alternatives to policing.

Yet despite their rhetoric and legislative proposals, Squad members are relying on private security — or, in the case of the Squad’s male member, New York representative Jamaal Bowman, local police — to provide the protection that they would deny their own constituents.

In the two months between April 15 and June 28, Bush spent nearly $70,000 of her campaign funds on personal security, the most of any House lawmaker. That’s almost $20,000 above the median household income for residents in her district, which covers St. Louis and adjacent communities. Bush, who often wears a Black Lives Matter or a "Y’All Gone Stop Killing Us!" t-shirt, says she believes defunding the police would prevent the deaths of people like Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor.

But it’s unclear who would stop the killing that would then ensue. Of the 130 homicide victims in St. Louis so far this year, half of whose residents are African-American, all but ten victims were African-American (98 men and 22 women). The vast majority of these involved firearms — not one fired by a police officer.

Questioned about her personal-security expenditures, Bush described herself as a "black woman who puts her life on the line," claiming that white supremacists, including cops, have made threats and "racist attempts" on her life, and that her "body is worth being on this planet right now." She said she has "too much work to do" and that "too many people . . . need help right now." She suggested that people would have to "suck it up" because "defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets because we’re trying to save lives."

Ironically, despite Bush’s support for St. Louis’s vote to defund its Metropolitan Police Department, the only officers who have lost their jobs in the city have been two St. Louis City Sheriff’s deputies who guarded her during her tour of the jail. Both were fired by Sheriff Vernon Betts, a black Democrat, after repeated warnings that they had not obtained second-job approvals or private-security licenses.

Though Bush’s security payments made up a third of her roughly $200,000 second-quarter campaign expenditures, most of that portion—$54,120.92 — went to RS&T Security Consulting, a New York firm with two addresses in Manhattan and a website under construction. The sole local recipient, Nathaniel Davis, whose address is the same as Bush’s campaign committee, received three payments totaling $15,000.

AOC has spent less on security and kept some of that spending local. The $4,000 she spent during 2021’s second quarter represented a big drop from more than $45,000 in the first quarter. Though she represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, about $35,000 of Ocasio-Cortez’s local spending in the first quarter went to firms with Brooklyn addresses, including three payments of $3,000 each to C’est Bon Collective and two payments totaling about $25,000 to Three Bridges, LLC. In February, she also paid a Houston firm $1,552.50 to provide personal security when she visited the city during its hurricane-relief efforts.

Like RS&T, the firm used by Bush, neither C’est Bon nor Three Bridges provide much online information about their businesses. But Tullis Worldwide Protection, the Virginia firm that Ocasio-Cortez paid about $4,000 in January, touts the experience of its CEO, Devin Tullis, including stints with private military contractor Blackwater, whose employees were accused of committing war crimes in Iraq. Questioned about his work for AOC, Tullis said little but noted that he is "not hiring social workers"—the Squad’s preferred option to replace police.

Pressley and Omar were more modest than their colleagues in their security expenditures, but they still spent far more than most House members. Pressley spent more than $4,000 in the first quarter of 2021 and more than $3,500 in the second quarter. While some of her spending was local, she employed a Virginia company in January and a Washington, D.C., firm in March. Omar also reduced her security bills in the second quarter, from slightly over $3,000 to $2,800, all spent locally in St. Paul and nearby Ramsey, Minnesota.

At least in the chutzpah competition, Bowman may have outdone other Squad members. After being elected in 2020, he wasted no time voicing support for the George Floyd Act, calling it merely a floor, not a ceiling, in the battle for police reform. Bowman, who has called cops agents of "white supremacy," represents portions of the Bronx and Westchester County — where, upon his request, the Yonkers Police Department, the county’s largest, is providing extra protection for the single-family home he shares with his wife and children.

Keith Olson, Yonkers Police Benevolent Association president, summarized the hypocrisy when he noted: "Not long ago, the Congressman called for dramatically less policing in the most violent, crime-ridden neighborhoods. . . . Asking these same police officers to protect your family while creating policies that make communities of color less safe is simply disgraceful."


Is political correctness responsible for our radical reactions to COVID-19?

One of the great ironies of the Covid-19 pandemic is how consistent Western governments have been at providing inconsistent health advice.

On 24 April 2020, the Australian federal Government advised the public to not wear face masks. Today, the New South Wales Government may fine you $500 for failing to wear a face mask in public. The New South Wales Government’s announcement that vaccinated adults will soon be rewarded with ‘new freedoms’ is also at odds with their position that Covid-19 vaccination is voluntary.

But confused health policy is not a symptom of Covid-19 that only affects governments in Australia.

On 6 April 2021, the White House announced that it would not support “vaccine passport” systems. But on 29 July 2021, President Joe Biden would announce protocols whereby federal government employees must attest to their vaccination status, lest they be subject to special Covid-19 rules at work and be made to undertake regular Covid-19 testing.

The situation surrounding Covid-19 is dynamic. The extent of the current outbreak in Australia demonstrates this. We can therefore expect government health advice to change as matters unfold. But arguments like this cannot support many of the Western governments’ recent decisions, which often constitute a complete U-turn in health policy.

At the end of June 2021, the New South Wales Government stated that it would not administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged under 40 years, following regulatory health advice. Now, New South Wales Health clinics are offering AstraZeneca vaccines to everyone aged over 18 years, and the Government is advising everyone 16 years and over in greater Sydney to ‘strongly consider getting vaccinated now, with any available Covid-19 vaccine’. But by the end of June 2021 the current outbreak in Sydney had already been going for about two weeks (not to mention, it was foreseeable before June that Australia would experience another outbreak, given how quickly the Delta strain of the virus had spread elsewhere).

So, putting to one side the merits of all these changes, is it just updated medical advice that makes the public tolerate such reversals in policy and law, or could a general discomfort with challenging the status quo also be to blame?

To be politically correct is to conform with the prevailing political or social circumstances. In practice, this means altering how we speak and behave, especially in public, to advance — or at least to avoid damaging — our social standing.

The problem is that Covid-19, like many of today’s issues, has been politicised in the West.

In a brilliant interview, Lord Sumption, a former judge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, observed that in March 2020 people looked to how governments in China, Italy, Spain, and France, were responding to Covid-19 to determine how the United Kingdom should manage the pandemic. In turn, United Kingdom health advisers abandoned their original pandemic plans. COVID-19 management had been politicised, with opposition to lockdowns being associated with the right and support of lockdowns associated with the left.

Unfortunately, Australia is not immune to this politicisation either. The contrasting reactions to the Black Lives Matter protests and the anti-lockdown protests demonstrate this.

The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Aspects of the movement are ideologically left-leaning — Cullors even stated in 2015 that she and Garza ‘are trained Marxists’. Many in Australia on both sides of politics expressed empathy for Black Lives Matter protestors in June 2020, including New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian who said ‘of course I empathise with how strongly people feel’, and Federal Labor Member of Parliament Stephen Jones who told protestors ‘your cause has my one hundred per cent support’. But no equivalent empathy was voiced for the anti-lockdown protesters of 24 July 2021, about whom Premier Berejiklian said had ‘utterly disgusted’ her, and who Stephen Jones described as ‘selfish, reckless idiots’, in a tweet.

This contrast in reaction cannot be explained by health matters alone. For a start, there was no Covid-19 vaccine in June 2020 like there was in July 2021 when the anti-lockdown protests happened. The explanation for the difference in reaction is political, not medical. Left-leaning sentiments now dominate contemporary Western culture, where political correctness has become rife. And because support of lockdowns is associated with the left, those who disagree with lockdowns are either too embarrassed or too afraid to speak out. And this fear runs deep.

In the interview I referred to earlier, Lord Sumption mentioned that he has received numerous messages from people thanking him for speaking out about lockdowns. People who were too afraid to speak out themselves for fear of damaging their careers or influence. Some of those people, Lord Sumption said, include Members of Parliament, senior consultants in hospitals, and prominent academics. This should worry us.

A glance at history reveals that bad political decisions often result not just from the spread of bad ideas but from the suppression of ideas, in general. The suppression may be deliberate or an accident. But so long as people are afraid to call out illogical changes in the law, the choices we are forced to make will continue to be irrational.




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