Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

THIS may be the ultimate example of Political Correctness -- from the Unhinged Kingdom  

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Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds

The PERMALINKS to this site have been a bit messed up by new blogger. The permalink they give has the last part of the link duplicated so the whole link defaults to the top of the page. To fix the link, go the the URL and delete the second hatch mark and everything after it.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

British Sikh girl beats anti-religious ban

With good British hypocrisy, the ban was not overtly anti-religious but there is little doubt that that was part of the underlying motive

A Sikh teenager excluded from school for breaking a "no jewellery" rule by refusing to remove a wrist bangle which is central to her faith was a victim of unlawful discrimination, a judge ruled today. The victory in the High Court for Sarika Watkins-Singh, 14, means that she will be returning to Aberdare Girls' School in South Wales in September - wearing the Kara, a slim steel bracelet. Her lawyers had told Mr Justice Silber that the Kara was as important to her as it was to England spin bowler Monty Panesar, who has been pictured wearing the bangle.

Sarika, of mixed Welsh and Punjabi origin, of Cwmbach, near Aberdare, was at first taught in isolation and eventually excluded for refusing to take off the bangle in defiance of the school's policy, which prohibits the wearing of any jewellery other than a wrist watch and plain ear studs. Today, the judge declared that the school was guilty of indirect discrimination under race relations and equality laws.

After the judgment, Sarika's mother, Sinita, 38, said: "We are over the moon.It is just such a relief." Afterwards, a spokeswoman for the family hailed it as a "common sense" judgment. Sarika said: "I am overwhelmed by the outcome and it's marvellous to know that the long journey I've been on has finally come to an end. "I'm so happy to know that no-one else will go through what me and my family have gone through." She added: "I just want to say that I am a proud Welsh and Punjabi Sikh girl."

Anna Fairclough, Liberty's legal officer who was representing the Singhs, said: "This common sense judgment makes clear you must have a very good reason before interfering with someone's religious freedom. "Our great British traditions of religious tolerance and race equality have been rightly upheld today."


It's certainly difficult to see what harm she was doing. I wonder whether this will prevent bans on Catholics wearing crosses too? Very annoying that the "purity ring" case was not similarly decided. The British government claims to be concerned about teenage promiscuity and pregnancy but Christian efforts to combat it were disallowed in that case! That Left-run Britain is an anti-Christian country is however now rather well-established.

Film unmasks Bush as the real Batman

By Andrew Bolt

FINALLY Hollywood makes a film that says US President George W. Bush was right. But director Christopher Nolan had to disguise it a little, so journalists wouldn't freak and the film's more fashionable stars wouldn't walk. So he hides Bush in a cape. He even sticks a mask on him, with pointy ears for some reason. Sure, when the terrified citizens of Gotham City scream for Bush to come save them, Nolan has them shine a great W in the night sky, but he blurs it so it looks more like a bird. Or a bat, perhaps. And he has them call their hero not Mr Bush, of course, or even "Mr President", but . . . Batman.

And what do you know. Bush may be one of the most despised presidents in American history, but this movie of his struggle is now smashing all box-office records. Critics weep, audiences swoon - and suddenly the world sees Bush's agonising dilemma and sympathises with what it had been taught so long to despise.

Well, "taught" isn't actually the exact word. As this superb Batman retelling, The Dark Knight, makes clear, its subject is a weakness that runs instinctively through us - to hate a hero who, in saving us, exposes our fears, prods our weaknesses, calls from us more than we want to give, or can. And how we resent a hero who must shake our world in order to save it, or brings alive that maxim of George Orwell that so implicates us in our preening piety: "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

(Alert! Alert! Spoilers ahead. Do not read on if you plan to see the film.)

This is The Dark Knight's theme. See how Bush - oops, I mean Batman - must time and again compromise his values, and ours, to save his city from far greater evils. And see how Nolan, who wrote the script with his younger brother Jonathan, empathises with him every time - as does the audience in the wide-eyed dark.

How many examples do you want? There's the scene at the police station in which Batman tortures Heath Ledger's sensationally vivid Joker - trying to cave in his face rather than simply, say, waterboarding him, as the CIA did to three of al-Qaida's most senior commanders. The audience understands. Batman has resorted to the last hope to make this terrorist squeal, because only the Joker has the information the police need to save two goodies who have just minutes left to live.

Of course, Batman is considerate enough to first jam shut the cell door with a chair, which means Commissioner Gordon and the police - who were watching through a one-way window - can rush to stop this terrible infringement of a prisoner's human rights yet still conveniently fail to break in. This helps them to preserve their purity while still getting from Batman the addresses they so gratefully grab with their clean hands. Note well this detail. We can pose as pure because harder men do what we need to keep safe - so safe, that we can afford to later despise them for it.

See it again when Bush - damn, I did it again - Batman, I mean, bugs every phone in the city to identify the whereabouts of the Joker, hoping to stop him before he blows up a shipload of civilians. His techno-whiz, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), is almost as horrified as a New York Times reporter told that Bush wants to wiretap the international calls of terror suspects. "This is wrong," he editorialises. "Spying on 30 million people isn't part of my job description." What a wonderful conscience. How brightly that man's halo will shine when the fighting is done, and the human rights seminars begin in the campuses of cities made secure.

But, of course, even Lucius, thrust not into a newspaper office but into a position of responsibility where he must choose urgently between moralising or saving lives on a ticking time-bomb of a ship, chooses to help Batman bug just seconds after declaring it "wrong". For the record. It's the choice the audience always knew he'd make, and would have despised him for dodging.

But the residents of Gotham? They soon end up hating Batman. If he hadn't gone after the Joker so hard, they cry, maybe the Joker wouldn't have blown up their hospital, or planted bombs on ships, or killed so many soldiers, or flown aeroplanes into office towers, or blown up a Bali bar, or . . . sorry, have I confused fact with fiction, again? Anyway, the citizens hate Batman, especially once they are safe, for disturbing their sense of order, and violating their nice rules for defining their goodness - rules that are less useful for defying the evil of men who, Batman's philosopher-butler Alfred says, "just want to watch the world burn".

And they hate him also as many Europeans hate Bush, for showing that what protects their world are not ultimately the laws they pass, but a violence that intimidates them, because they cannot match it. They hate him as many once hated Ronald Reagan for defying a Soviet Union they feared would fight back. They hate him as Melbourne University's hand-washing Professor Tony Coady, for one, can now afford to hate the men who dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, deploring this war-ending attack as "an act of terrorism far greater than any single act of terrorism since by non-state actors".

This hatred is the burden that Batman accepts - and which The Dark Knight explains better than the comics did. When Batman doubts the good he had done, Alfred urges strength: "Endure, Master, endure. Take it. They'll hate you for it, but that is the point of Batman. He can make the choice that no one else can make - the right choice."

Batman does not need, and cannot get, the soaring opinion polls and flattering media coverage of a hero. He must instead be not only the citizens' saviour, but its scapegoat for its anxiety over what it took to save them. As Commissioner Gordon says, in reluctantly branding Batman an outlaw: "We'll hunt him because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector . . . a dark knight."

Mind you, the same excuses for violence, and for defying the public's will, is used by vigilantes and tyrants. And Nolan is so careful to sugar his pill that some critics, and not only of the Left, have taken his film as an attack on Bush instead. Take Variety.com's deputy editor, Anne Thompson, who seizes on the scene in which the Joker taunts Batman: "What would I do without you? You complete me . . . To them (the public) you're just a freak. Like me." Concludes Thompson: "The film-making suggests the Joker has, like a Shakespearean fool on PCP, hit on a harsh truth: Batman has more in common with his killer-clown foe than with the normal people he means to protect. So should we conclude The Dark Knight argues that Bush and bin Laden are two sides of the same coin?"

Answer: are you kidding? In fact, the Joker is saying that without Batman's great good to oppose, his great evil would never be realised in its horrific glory. It would be like Hitler being allowed to exterminate nothing more than mosquitoes. Who'd care? What's more, Batman clearly has more in common with the people he tries to protect than does the Joker with people he tries to destroy, or the audience wouldn't be cheering him, and the next film in the series wouldn't be Batman III but The Joker II.

No, the cinema audience understands what the Gotham citizens do not - Batman's dilemma and the awesome imperatives of responsibility. And they are with him, not his critics.

So why don't Americans in particular leave the movie cheering Bush as they cheered Batman? Because in leaving the cinema they stopped being that audience and re-entered their own real Gotham City - with a real Batman they once more feel driven to hate for all the hard things he's had to do to protect them. They have become the citizens of Gotham they were watching just minutes before with contempt. But Bush would understand. As Alfred says: "He's not being a hero. He's being something more."


"Unhealthy" to display the flag of England in England??

A retired teacher says she was banned from waving her Cross of St George flag during a Proms performance on health and safety grounds. A steward told Rosalind Hilton to put the five foot flag away during the Last Night of the Halle Proms event at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall.

She and sister Susan Stanyard were preparing to hoist the flag above their heads for Land and Hope and Glory in the rousing finale, having unfurled the flag over the balcony by her seat. She was later told it could have been a danger to those below. Mrs Hilton, 58, from Chester, said: "Every year I always go with my sister Susan. We make a real deal of it and dress up in red, white and blue. "Every year I take the flag which is quite large. There are English, Scottish and Welsh flags and towards the end, when they play Land of Hope and Glory, everyone stands up and waves them around. It's a fantastic atmosphere. "But in the second half after about five minutes a steward arrived and asked me to take it down. She said: 'You can't have that flag up.'

"When I asked the manager why, he said it was policy in the Bridgewater Hall that you can't have anything hanging from the sides. I told them they were just being kill-joys." Ridiculing the assumption that dangling flags were dangerous, she plumped the furled-up standard on the manager's head and asked him: "Would that really hurt if it fell on your head?"

She said the interruption last Saturday "ruined the whole evening" and commented: "Who wants to get up and sing, 'Britons never, never shall be slaves,' when the health and safety Nazis are making a mockery of our freedom?" Her party was offered eight-inch plastic Union Jacks instead, leading her husband Keith to conclude: "They are trying to suppress us using the English ensign." Mrs Hilton has vowed to get an answer on why her flag was banned: "I have asked them to look in their policy document and send me a photocopy of where it says you can't hang flags."

Popular anthems from the Last Night of the Proms include Thomas Arne's Rule Britannia and Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.

But such flag-waving patriotism has come under attack before. In March Margaret Hodge, the culture minister, criticised the BBC Proms for not being multicultural enough. She said the BBC Proms, which run from July to September at the Royal Albert Hall, did not do enough to encourage a British sense of "shared identity". She said: "The audiences for many of our greatest cultural events - I'm thinking in particular of the Proms - is still a long way from demonstrating that people from different backgrounds feel at ease in being part of this." Her comments were roundly condemned. Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's position on this is quite clear - he thinks the Proms are a good institution."

Nick Reed, chief executive of the Bridgewater Hall, said: "No-one was refused admission to the concert because of a flag, and flags were in abundance as they always are at proms concerts. "We do not allow large flags to be draped across the balconies in case they fall on patrons below and we take exactly the same approach with coats, bags and other items. "The Halle proms concert was enjoyed by a capacity audience and we received no other comments."


University makes unfounded allegations and then grovels to a racist black woman

Says the inimitable Mike Adams:

Contrary to popular opinion, the case of Keith Sampson at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is not over. An article by the Associated Press seemed to imply that the case was resolved. But, having done some thorough research on the case - more thorough than the AP, I believe - I respectfully dissent. And, today, I am calling for an investigation of university Chancellor Charles Bantz as well as university spokesman Rick Schneider.

Keith Sampson is really a rare kind of student. First of all, he was willing to take a job as a janitor to help pay for his college education. But, even more impressive, he spends his break time reading scholarly books on subjects such as American history. But, when he decided to read a book on race relations - one describing how students at Notre Dame defeated the KKK in the 1920s - all hell broke loose.

A black female co-worker at IUPUI decided to charge Sampson with racial harassment. This matter should not have been hard to resolve since the book, which Sampson checked out from the IUPUI library, was objectively anti-Klan and anti-racist. The only difficult part of the case should have been deciding the fate of Sampson's accuser. Had she intentionally leveled the false claim of racial harassment, she should have been fired. Had it been accidental, she should have been sent to sensitivity training to get over her obvious prejudice against white people.

But, of course, this happened in a university setting, which means that common sense never had a fighting chance. Sampson was told last November that his conduct constituted racial harassment. The affirmative action officer (Lillian Charleston who is now retired) stated "You used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading this book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your black co-workers." Such ignorance is by itself a good argument against affirmative action.

But, fortunately, the ACLU - like the blind squirrel that occasionally finds a nut - found out about Lillian Charleston who is obviously a nut, and more than a little squirrelly. With pressure from the ACLU, Charleston exuded sheer eloquence in later telling Sampson "There is no university policy that prohibits reading (scholarly books) on break time." Too bad she's retired. This woman is obviously brilliant.

But of course this was not good enough. Remember that in November Charleston had said "We conclude that your conduct" - of reading a scholarly book in front of a black woman - "constitutes racial harassment." But after the ACLU got involved in February the university informed Sampson that no disciplinary action would be taken because they were unable to determine whether Sampson's conduct was intended to disrupt the work environment. But, of course, the work environment was disrupted by a hypersensitive black female with a distorted view of the "typical white person" - and what a good thing this bigot isn't running for President of the United States! So, I took the time to call Rick Schneider to ask him about the uncertainty of the university's findings.

Regrettably, Rick Schneider was the most evasive, stammering, and uncertain administrator I've ever spoken to (in the six years I've been investigating university speech codes). For example, I asked him whether the charges leveled against Sampson were objectively false and he could not answer. When I asked him whether he even believed in the existence of objective truth and falsity, he replied "I do not wish to get into a general philosophical discussion with you." I swear I'm not making this stuff up. And I do believe in objective truth. But, finally, I did get a direct answer from Rick Schneider. When I asked whether he was aware any other acts of racial harassment by Sampson he stated unequivocally "No." And this is very important.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal recently asked someone from media relations at IUPUI the same question. The media relations person replied that Mr. Sampson had engaged in other racially insensitive conduct and that Mr. Sampson was aware that he had. And this is why we need an investigation of Mr. Schneider. If Rick Schneider was not the person who made those statements to The Wall Street Journal it is very good news for him. But, of course, that only means that someone else should be sued for defaming the character of Mr. Sampson whose personnel file is clean and who has never engaged in any racially harassing behavior (despite the university's pathetic attempt to smear him). But the Chancellor must also be investigated in order to explain this statement made in an email sent by Rick Schneider:
"The chancellor has sent letters of apology to Keith Sampson, to the co-worker of Keith Sampson who filed the complaint, and to two co-workers who were interviewed as part of the investigation of the complaint. In these letters, the chancellor said he regrets this situation took place and believes this matter could have and should have been handled differently."
The public has every right to see that letter in order to ascertain the reason why a university president would apologize to an obviously racist black woman who disrupted the IUPUI work environment with an objectively false accusation of racial harassment. Keith Sampson has suffered a good deal of grief although not as much as the lacrosse players at Duke University. But at least Duke's chancellor didn't apologize to the stripper.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Madness: British appeals court outlaws hitting delinquent children in custody

Someone should confine these judges to one of the "training" centres concerned. They would soon change their tune

Controversial methods of disciplining young people in custody have been abolished by the Court of Appeal today, only a year after they were introduced by the Government. Three judges ruled that the Secure Training Centre (Amendment) rules - which included advice to hit unruly children on the nose or ribs, or bend back their thumbs to distract them if they were disobedient - breached human rights.

Sally Keeble, Labour MP for Northampton North, who has been campaigning for a change in the law over physical restraint methods since 15-year-old Gareth Myatt died in custody in Northamptonshire four years ago, said she was delighted at the ruling She said: "This court victory is absolutely stunning. The Government has ducked and dived and refused to recognise the fact that these holds are barbaric and have no place in the British system."

Ms Keeble said that at their peak, the holds, which included a karate chop to the nose, were used up to twice a day in the four secure units in England and Wales run by private companies on behalf of the Department of Justice "These inhumane methods should be withdrawn and a new, safe system introduced for managing behaviour of young people in detention," she said. [Like what?] "There also needs to be a proper training system for staff, better monitoring and oversight by the Ministry of Justice of what happens in these privately-run secure training centres."

Adam Rickwood, 14, was on remand in Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in Co Durham in 2004 when he became the youngest child in Britain to die in custody. He hanged himself with his shoelaces shortly after being restrained for the first time. Gareth Myatt, 15, who weighed six and half stone, was asphyxiated whilst being restrained by three members of staff. He was three days into a six-month sentence at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Northamptonshire. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has been involved in a test case about physically restraining young people in custody in the wake of the two deaths, said today that the inquests had showed that staff at the STCs employed restraint as a way of maintaining order.

Yet despite grave concerns about the two deaths, the Ministry of Justice had chosen in 2007 to extend the use of restraint at Oakhill, Hassockfield, Medway and Rainsbrook STCs. Until June 2007 staff at STCs were only permitted to use physical restraint when it was necessary for the prevention of escape, damage to property or injury. The new rules, brought in after the deaths, allowed restraint when it was thought necessary to ensure good order and discipline.


The Deobandi Fatwa Against Terrorism Didn't Treat the Jihadi Root

By Walid Phares

Many in the West and in other regions of the world were impressed by the issuing of a fatwa (Islamic theological edict) condemning Terrorism by one of the leading religious centers in the Muslim world, the Darool-Uloom Deoband in India. An Islamic seminary said to have 'inspired' the Taliban has, according to the said document denounced "terrorism" as against Islam, calling it an "unpardonable sin."

Hoping for a major change in ideology, international counter terrorism authorities and policy makers have been asking experts to determine if the Deobandi declaration will help counter the calls for violent Jihad by al Qaeda and its ilk around the world. In the war of ideas with the Jihadists, many Western architects of strategic communications look for any sign that hearts and minds may be changing course and sympathies. From Washington DC to Brussels and beyond, bureaucrats tasked with exploring the Muslim world for new trends, shop around for what they call "counter-narrative against extremism."

The Deobandi School, a classical third branch for Salafi Islamism (along with Wahabism and Muslim Brotherhood), has significant weight in the South Asia Theater. Its teachings based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law have reached many countries, including Afghanistan and Britain, where they are said to have indoctrinated the Taliban. "If they change course, al Qaeda and the Taliban are finished," I heard in Europe and the United States. So the question now is have they changed doctrinal direction and is this fatwa the evidence?

I regretfully conclude that it is not the case yet. It looked good at first. Tens of thousands of clerics and students from around India attended a meeting at the 150-year-old Deoband, north of New Delhi, and declared that they stand "against acts of terrorism."

"There is no place for terrorism in Islam," Maulana Marghoobur Rahman, the older rector of Deoband, told Reuters. "Terrorism, killing of the innocent is against Islam. It is a faith of love and peace, not violence." Rahman said it was unjust to equate Islam with terrorism, to see every Muslim as a suspect or for governments to use this to harass innocent Muslims.

"There are so many examples of people from other communities being caught with bombs and weapons, why are they never convicted?" said Qazi Mohammed Usman, deputy head of Deoband. The meeting defined terrorism as any action targeting innocent people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, whether committed by an individual, an institution or a government.

These statements could be seen as impressive when quoted by news agencies rushing to break the good news, but to the seasoned analysts of Salafism, the solid doctrinal roots of Jihadism were kept untouched. Here is why.

Much more here

Arrogant European Bureaucracy Runs Amok

The European Commission is an unelected bureaucracy that is slowly but surely seizing powers to govern member nations. This is bad news for national sovereignty and jurisdictional competition, but it also leads to crazy regulations, including proposals to prohibit the British from using acres instead of hectares, banning the traditional preparation of Peking Duck and detailed rules about the proper size and shape of vegetables.

But regulatory overkill is just the tip of the iceberg. Far more troubling is the effort to subvert democracy in order to further centralize power in Brussels. The EU Constitution, which would have expanded the powers of the European Commission, was rejected by the voters of France and the Netherlands a few years ago. Rather than shelve the proposal, the European elites renamed it the Lisbon Treaty and said that it no longer was necessary to let the people vote. Fortunately, Ireland still has the rule of law and held a referendum - and the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty was decisively rejected. The French President has since asserted that the Irish should vote again (and presumably again and again) until they reach the "right" decision.

But perhaps the most Kafkaesque reaction came from a French bureaucrat, who was quoted in Le Figaro stating, "It isn't about putting pressure on the Irish. We well understand that they have expressed themselves democratically. But so have the other 26!"

Only the French could deny their people the right to vote and then claim their voters (and the disenfranchised people in the European Union's other 25 nations) had somehow expressed their views.


Economics Does Not Lie

Though economics as a discipline arose in Great Britain and France at the end of the eighteenth century, it has taken two centuries to reach the threshold of scientific rationality. Previously, intuition, opinion, and conviction enjoyed equal status in economic thought; theories were vague, often unverifiable. Not so long ago, one could teach economics at prestigious universities without using equations and certainly without the complex algorithms, precise (though not infallible) mathematical models, and computers integral to the field today.

No wonder bad economic policies ravaged entire nations during the twentieth century, producing more victims than any epidemic did. The collectivization of land in Russia during the twenties, in China during the fifties, and in Tanzania during the sixties starved hundreds of millions of peasants. The uncontrolled printing of currency destabilized Weimar Germany, facilitating the rise of Nazism. The nationalization of enterprises and the expulsion of entrepreneurs ruined Argentina during the forties and Egypt a decade later. India's License Raj--requiring businesses to obtain a host of permits before opening their doors--froze the country's economic development for decades, keeping millions impoverished.

On an even larger scale, the century witnessed a war between two economic systems: state socialism and market capitalism. In the socialist system, property was public, competition forbidden, and production planned. In the market system, property was private, competition encouraged, and production determined by entrepreneurs. Faced with the choice of which system was superior, nations hesitated and economists remained divided.

The state of affairs today is entirely different. When the Soviet Union crumbled, the socialist model that it embodied imploded, too--or, more precisely, the Soviet Union fell because the socialist economic system proved unworkable. Now only one economic system exists: market capitalism. Virtually everywhere, the public sector has given ground to privatization; currency has escaped state control, to be governed by independent central banks; competition has taken wing, thanks to the deregulation of markets and the opening of borders; taxation has become less progressive, so as to encourage entrepreneurs and create jobs.

The results have been breathtaking. Opening economies and promoting trade have helped reconstruct Eastern Europe after 1990 and lifted 800 million people, many of them in China, Brazil, and a now-license-free India, out of poverty. Even in Africa and the Arab Middle East, nations that have embraced capitalism have begun to escape from the terrible underdevelopment that has long plagued them.

Behind all this unprecedented growth is not only the collapse of state socialism but also a scientific revolution in economics, as yet dimly understood by the public but increasingly embraced by policymakers around the globe. The revolution began during the sixties and has finally brought economists to a broad, well-founded consensus about what constitutes good policy. No longer does economics lie; no longer would Baudelaire be able to write that "economics is a horror." For the mass of mankind, on the contrary, it has become a source of hope.

If economics is finally a science, what, exactly, does it teach? With the help of Columbia University economist Pierre-Andre Chiappori, I have synthesized its findings into ten propositions. Almost all top economists--those who are recognized as such by their peers and who publish in the leading scientific journals--would endorse them (the exceptions are those like Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs, whose public pronouncements are more political than scientific). The more the public understands and embraces these propositions, the more prosperous the world will become.

1. The market economy is the most efficient of all economic systems. Adam Smith's eighteenth-century take on market efficiency was metaphorical, nearly metaphysical: he said that it seemed to be guided by an "invisible hand" that produced outcomes beneficial to society. In the mid-twentieth century, Friedrich Hayek observed that no central-planning institution could possibly manage the huge quantity of information that the market organized automatically and spontaneously by pricing resources. More recently, Berkeley economist Gerard Debreu has used computers to demonstrate that the spontaneous order that Hayek postulated does indeed exist in a mathematical world.

Market mechanisms are so efficient that they can manage threats to long-term development, such as the exhaustion of natural resources, far better than states can. If global warming does become a real problem, for example, price mechanisms or a carbon tax would easily encourage a more efficient use of energy. It's worth recalling that during the 1970s, when an excess of sulfur in the atmosphere was sometimes producing acid rain harmful to North American forests, the U.S. government didn't ban sulfur emissions outright. Instead, it created a market in which companies could buy and sell the right to pollute above a certain amount or "cap," pricing emissions so that factories had a financial incentive to turn to non-sulfurous technology, which was already available. Over time, companies shifted to cleaner technology and the acid rain disappeared--to the dismay of many green activists, who tend to prefer doomsday discourse to efficient market solutions.

Some economists favor free markets not only for their efficiency in allocating resources but for political reasons as well, fearing that central planning or excessive bureaucratic controls could, in the guise of rationality, stifle individual freedom. Markets leave us "free to choose," wrote Rose and Milton Friedman, and society is the better off for it--though not all economists embrace their libertarian political vision.

2. Free trade helps economic development. As Smith observed when his native Scotland began to benefit from free trade, it is through access to the world market that poor nations become rich. They never do so by trying to become self-sufficient. Free trade also makes rich countries richer, economists agree. By importing less expensive goods made in low-wage nations like China, wealthy nations effectively increase their own citizens' income--and the main beneficiaries are poor and middle-class people, who can buy cheaper clothes, electronics, and myriad other goods. In addition, importing cheaper components--computer chips, say--lowers the cost of equipment in wealthier economies. In fact, economists have long understood the law of comparative advantage: whenever differences in the cost of producing goods exist between two countries, both will benefit from free trade, a mechanism that allocates their resources most effectively.

Free trade not only generates the greatest possible growth; it tends to distribute it widely, both within nations and among them. For evidence, consider the emergence of vast middle classes in all free-market societies, as well as the economic convergence among nations that have embraced capitalist economics. After less than 20 years of market-driven growth, Brazil, China, and India--whatever their injustices--are closer to the Western level of development than they were before that growth got under way.

This does not mean, as some observers fret or gleefully predict, that the United States is about to stop leading the world economically. Other nations may draw closer to it--Western Europe in 1950 had a per-capita income half that of the U.S.; now it's 80 percent--but the American economy has remained the world's most vigorous for more than a century because of its superior efficiency, demographic dynamism, and innovation (today, for example, the U.S. is the world leader in the hugely promising fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology). One might add that no globalization, with all its economic benefits, could take place without a global security framework to protect shipping from piracy and to contain border conflicts. Today the U.S. military provides that security, just as the British navy once did.

Much more here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The disgusting British police again: They say they have no duty to protect anyone

The anger and frustration felt by people who are the victims of crimes to which they have already alerted the police can be imagined. But when a loved one is murdered because the police failed to act in time, despite warnings that something terrible might be about to happen, the feelings of relations and friends can only be guessed at. Spare a thought, then, for the parents of Giles Van Colle, who will on Wednesday learn if a legal battle they have waged since he was murdered nearly eight years ago has been successful. If it is, the implications are profound. Irwin and Corrine Van Colle sued the police for failing to protect their son, who was a witness in a court case.

However, this is not a story of gangland intimidation: Mr Van Colle, 25, was simply preparing to do his duty as a responsible citizen in what should have been a straightforward case of theft. But it was to turn into a nightmare - and the police did nothing to stop it unfolding. Mr Van Colle was an optometrist with his own business, GVC Opticians, in Mill Hill, north London. He had employed as a laboratory technician an Iranian whose real name was Ali Amelzadeh, but was known by the alias Daniel Brougham. He had obtained the job using a false CV and when he was challenged about his National Insurance number and the disappearance of equipment from the clinic, he left. Subsequently, stolen property, including glasses and frames belonging to Mr Van Colle, were found at Brougham's home and he was charged with theft.

Mr Van Colle was asked to identify the property as a court witness. Until now, this was fairly unexceptional case. However, Mr Van Colle began to receive threats to his life and his family from Brougham, to which the police were alerted. Then his car was set ablaze outside his home. Yet nothing was done to protect him. In November 2000, two days before the trial was to start, Brougham lay in wait for Mr Van Colle as he left work and shot him three times at close range.

Most murders happen out of the blue and there is always a danger of accusation by hindsight. But that was not the case here. A witness in a court case was specifically threatened on a number of occasions by the man against whom he was giving evidence. It should have been relatively straightforward for the police to have offered him protection or to have revoked Brougham's bail.

Since Brougham lived in Stevenage, that job fell to Hertfordshire constabulary and specifically Det Con David Ridley. At a disciplinary tribunal in 2003, he was found guilty of failing to perform his duties diligently, failing to investigate thoroughly the intimidation of witnesses, and failing to arrest Brougham. He was fined five days' pay.

Mr Van Colle's parents considered it was important to establish where the duties of the police lay and invoked the European Convention on Human Rights, claiming a violation of Article 2 - which enshrines the "right to life" - and Article 8, which guarantees everyone's right to respect for their home and family life. In the High Court, Mrs Justice Cox awarded them $100,000 in damages against Hertfordshire Police. She said that, had Mr Van Colle been placed in a safe house or given other protection after Brougham threatened his life, there would have been "a real prospect of avoiding this tragedy". The award was reduced in 2007 to $50,000 by the Court of Appeal; but the judgment against Hertfordshire Police was upheld. This is where the case stands.

The chief constable appealed to the Law Lords, who will rule on whether the police can be sued for failing to carry out their duties properly to investigate a crime. The police say that unless it is overturned, they - and other public services - will face a flood of similar claims. But is that true? Are they simply not being required to do their job properly? After all, Mr Van Colle's case is not an isolated one.

Alex and Maureen Cochrane died and their daughter, Lucy, was seriously injured in an arson attack on their home in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in 2006. The attack had been preceded by an incident at the Cochranes' home in which a fluid was poured on to the front door and a tree uprooted in the garden. Police, who were aware of a feud with another family subsequently convicted of the killings, failed to act. Last year, an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found Greater Manchester Police guilty of "individual and systemic failings" over the tragedy.

Scotland Yard is investigating complaints that it failed to respond to threats made against a schoolgirl a few weeks before she was killed. Last year, the same force apologised for doing nothing to protect a young father shot dead after confronting a gang in the road where he had been stabbed just months earlier.

Wiltshire Police were strongly criticised by the IPCC for failing to protect Hayley Richards, a pregnant woman who was murdered by her boyfriend a week after he attacked her. Even though police were told where he was, officers who could have responded were dealing with a report of a dog locked in a car.

In all these cases, the police say that the murderous intent of the killers could not have been foreseen. But that is not the point. It is the fact that they did nothing that is so appalling. People can understand if, despite their best endeavours, some dreadful criminal act occurs; but it is the first principle of policing to prevent crime, not investigate it after it has happened.

In the Appeal Court, Sir Anthony Clarke, the Master of the Rolls, said the duty of the police to protect Mr Van Colle was "not an onerous one"; and nor was he persuaded that the court's ruling would "threaten police resources" or "open the floodgates to baseless claims against the police". "They should have done everything that could reasonably have been expected of them," added the judge. That is all that Mr and Mrs Van Colle, and the rest of us, are asking.


So wrong, so often, for so long, Yet it's Europe we should copy?

If anyone suggested that Tiger Woods should try to be more like other golfers, people would question the sanity of whoever made that suggestion. Why should Tiger Woods try to be more like Phil Mickelson? If Tiger turned around and tried to golf left-handed, like Mickelson, he probably wouldn't be as good as Mickelson, much less as good as he is golfing the way he does right-handed.

Yet there are those who think that the United States should follow policies more like those in Europe, often with no stronger reason than the fact that Europeans follow such policies. For some Americans, it is considered chic to be like Europeans. If Europeans have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, then we should have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, according to such people. If Europeans restrict pharmaceutical companies' patents and profits, then we should do the same. Some justices of the U.S. Supreme Court even seem to think that they should incorporate ideas from European laws in interpreting American laws.

Before we start imitating someone, we should first find out whether the results that they get are better than the results that we get. Across a very wide spectrum, the U.S. has been doing better than Europe for a very long time. By comparison with most of the rest of the world, Europe is doing fine. But it is like Phil Mickelson, not Tiger Woods.

Minimum wage laws have the same effects in Europe as they have had in other places around the world. They price many low-skilled and inexperienced workers out of a job. Because minimum wage laws are more generous in Europe than in the U.S., they lead to chronically higher rates of unemployment in general and longer periods of unemployment than in the U.S. - but especially among younger, less experienced and less skilled workers. Unemployment rates of 20% or more for young workers are common in a number of European countries. Among workers who are both younger and minority workers, such as young Muslims in France, unemployment rates are estimated at about 40%.

The American minimum wage laws do enough damage without our imitating European minimum wage laws. The last year in which the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate in the U.S. was 1930. The next year, the first federal minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act, was passed. One of its sponsors explicitly stated that the purpose was to keep blacks from taking jobs from whites. No one says things like that any more - which is a shame, because the effect of a minimum wage law does not depend on what anybody says. Blacks in general, and younger blacks in particular, are the biggest losers from such laws, just as younger and minority workers are in Europe.

Those Americans who are pushing us toward the kinds of policies that Europeans impose on pharmaceutical companies show not the slightest interest in what the consequences of such laws have been. One consequence is that even European pharmaceutical companies do much of their research and development of new medications in the U.S., in order to take advantage of American patent protections and freedom from price controls. These are the very policies that the European imitators want us to change.

It is not a coincidence that such a high proportion of the major pharmaceutical drugs are developed in the U.S. If we kill the goose that lays the golden egg, as the Europeans have done, both we and the Europeans - as well as the rest of the world - will be worse off, because there are few other places for such medications to be developed. There are a lot of diseases still waiting for a cure, or even for relief for those suffering from those diseases. People stricken with these diseases will pay the price for blind imitation of Europe.

It must be a bitter disappointment to those in the media and in politics who have been dying to use the word "recession" that, for the second quarter in a row, there has been no downturn in the economy, though growth has been slow. Alarmists have been reduced to quoting other alarmists on the supposedly impending recession, but that is still not the real thing. The definition of a "recession" is very clear and straightforward: Two consecutive quarters of negative growth. We have not yet had one consecutive quarter of negative growth....

Some of the people who are most adamant against outsourcing economic activity from the U.S. to other countries often seem to think we should outsource our foreign policy to "world opinion" or act only in conjunction "with our NATO allies." Like so many things that are said when it comes to public policy, there is very little attention paid to the actual track record of "world opinion" or of "our NATO allies."

Often there is a blanket assumption that European countries are just so much more sophisticated than American "cowboys." But there is incredibly little interest in the track record of those European sophisticates whom we are supposed to consult about our own national interests - including, in an age when terrorists may acquire nuclear weapons, our national survival.

In the course of the 20th century, supposedly sophisticated Europeans managed to create some of the most monstrous forms of government on earth - communism, fascism, Nazism - in peacetime, and to start the two World Wars, the bloodiest in all human history. In each of these wars, both the winners and the losers ended up far worse off than they were before these wars were started. After both World Wars, the U.S. had to step in to save millions of people in Europe from starving amid the wreckage and rubble that their wars had created. These do not seem like people whose sophistication we should defer to.

Between the two World Wars, European intellectuals - more so than ordinary people - completely misread the threat from Nazi Germany, and were urging disarmament in France and England, while Hitler was rapidly building up the most powerful military force on the continent, obviously aimed at neighboring countries.

During the Cold War, many European intellectuals once again misread the threat of a totalitarian dictatorship - in this case, the Soviet Union. When they finally recognized the threat, many saw the question as whether it was "better to be red than dead." They were no more prepared to stand up to the Soviet Union than they had been ready to stand up to Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Worse yet, much of the European intelligentsia objected to America's standing up to the Soviet Union. Many of them were appalled when Ronald Reagan met the threat of new Soviet missiles aimed at Western Europe by putting more American missiles in Western Europe, aimed at the Soviet Union.

Reagan, in effect, called the Soviet Union and raised them, while many of the European sophisticates - as well as much of the American intelligentsia - said that his policies would lead to war. Instead, it led to the end of the Cold War. Are we now to blindly imitate those who have been so wrong, so often, over the past hundred years?

More here

World's Most Successful AIDS Prevention Programme in Uganda "Sabotaged" by Western "Experts"

Western advisors used their control of international funding to force a change in direction to condoms and casual sex

While the US Senate considers a proposal to allocate US$50 million more for AIDS prevention programmes, one Ugandan expert says it will be wasted money if the attitudes of the Western AIDS prevention community towards AIDS transmission do not change. In a column appearing in the Washington Post on June 30, one of Uganda's leading AIDS prevention experts called on the Western "experts" to "Let my people go." "We understand that casual sex is dear to you, but staying alive is dear to us. Listen to African wisdom, and we will show you how to prevent AIDS."

Sam L. Ruteikara wrote in the Washington Post that efforts to maintain the world's most successful AIDS prevention programme was "sabotaged" by precisely those Western "experts" who insisted that only condoms would work. Ruteikara is the co-chair of Uganda's National AIDS-Prevention Committee. He wrote in a column in the Washington Post on June 30, "AIDS epidemics in Africa are driven by people having sex regularly with more than one person." The Western experts, dedicated to the exclusive promotion of condoms, were incensed when Ugandan AIDS rates plummeted with this "ABC" method that left condoms as a "last resort".

The success of the Ugandan programme, Ruteikara said, did not sit well with those international experts and advisors, sent to Uganda to oversee the spending of international relief funds, who are devoted to the condom as the first and last answer to the AIDS epidemic.

Despite the official line that Western "advisors" were to work within local programmes, these experts, Ruteikara asserted, actively stonewalled the Ugandan committee's recommendations. The Western advisors objected that the programme was an attempt "to limit people's sexual freedom" and they used their control of the international funding to force a change in direction.

"Repeatedly, our 25-member prevention committee put faithfulness and abstinence into the National Strategic Plan that guides how PEPFAR [President's Emergency Plan for HIV-AIDS Relief] money for our country will be spent. Repeatedly, foreign advisers erased our recommendations. When the document draft was published, fidelity and abstinence were missing."

More insidiously, Ruteikara says that a "suspicious" statistic appeared in reports that claimed a significant increase in rates of AIDS among married couples. The claim was that 42 per cent of married couples were infected, a rate twice that of prostitutes. Repeated requests for the origin of this statistic were ignored. Domestic surveys done by Ugandan health officials found that only 6.3 per cent of married couples are infected, lower even than rates among widowed and divorced Ugandans.

Since the Ugandans were forced to change their programmes, surveys have shown that the percentage of sexually active men with multiple partners has more than doubled, undoing earlier declines, and the AIDS rate has begun to climb again.

The Ugandan success story is one of the most impressive in the fight against AIDS. Between 1989 and 1995, the number of men having three or more sexual partners in a year dropped from 15 to three per cent and HIV rates plunged from 21 percent in 1991 to 6 percent in 2002. At the same time, Western nations brought more than 2 billion condoms on Africa and the epidemic continued in nations that went along with the condoms-only approach.

The motive for opposing the Ugandan initiative, Ruteikara said, was financial as well as ideological. "In the fight against AIDS, profiteering has trumped prevention," he said. "AIDS is no longer simply a disease; it has become a multibillion-dollar industry."

Ruteikara's assertions are supported by Dr. James Chin, a former top AIDS epidemiologist at the World Health Organization, who said, "Easily preventable diseases are still killing millions of children each year, while billions of dollars are being squandered annually by AIDS programs."

Robert England, head of the charity Health Systems Workshop said in the British Medical Journal, "Although HIV causes 3.7 per cent of [worldwide] mortality, it receives 25 per cent of international health care aid."

Ruteikara concluded, "Telling men and women to keep sex sacred -- to save sex for marriage and then remain faithful -- is telling them to love one another deeply with their whole hearts. Most HIV infections in Africa are spread by sex outside of marriage: casual sex and infidelity. The solution is faithful love."

"We, the poor of Africa, remain silenced in the global dialogue. Our wisdom about our own culture is ignored."


Justice Department Bureaucrats May Set Risky Precedent with Extra-Territorial Tax Persecution

Bush Administration appointees involved with issues such as the Iraq war and coercive interrogation of suspected terrorists probably don't spend much time thinking about international tax policy, but they may rue the day that the Justice Department decided to persecute Swiss banks and Swiss bankers for obeying Swiss law and protecting the financial privacy of customers.

What's the connection? By going after Swiss banks and Swiss bankers in hopes of finding a few Americans who might be hiding money from the IRS, the Justice Department is embracing the notion that governments should not be constrained by national boundaries and national laws. Richard Rahn already has an excellent piece explaining why this is an absurd policy but let's consider some of the broader implications. What if John Yoo or Donald Rumsfeld travel to Europe in the near future for business or personal reasons and some European government decides to throw them in jail for violating "international law"? This may sound fanciful, but German authorities already have moved in this direction and it doesn't take much imagination to foresee politically ambitious officials from other nations grabbing the baton.

The Wall Street Journal report does not cover these broader implications, but it is a good summary of the Justice Department's fishing expedition:
The Justice Department, in an unprecedented move against a foreign bank, is seeking to force UBS AG to turn over the names of wealthy U.S. clients who allegedly used the giant Swiss bank to avoid taxes. .U.S. authorities have been holding discussions for several weeks with UBS and Swiss banking authorities to identify the U.S. account holders. People familiar with the talks say UBS officials floated the possibility that the U.S. could obtain the names through a request to Swiss regulators. Monday's federal court filing instead puts the bank in direct conflict with the U.S. government. .The filing is the first against a non-U.S. bank by the Justice Department using what it calls a "John Doe summons," a maneuver typically used to investigate tax fraud by people whose identities are unknown. The move could spark a major legal battle because the Justice Department is essentially gambling that courts will bless the move when it's directed at a company with extensive U.S. operations but that isn't based in the U.S.


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Monday, July 28, 2008

Guns, Foreign Courts, and the Moral Consensus of the International Community

In a landmark decision that will impact the future of gun regulation in the United States, late last month the Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C. In District of Columbia etal. v. Heller (No. 07-290) a slim 5-4 majority found the D.C. ban to violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Over the last few years observers of the Supreme Court have noticed a trend among some of the justices to cite the decisions of foreign courts as part of the relevant precedent in deciding the cases before them. In 2005, justices Scalia and Breyer engaged in a rare public conversation on this very topic, "Constitutional Relevance of Foreign Court Decisions." In the recently-decided D.C. v. Heller neither of the two dissenting opinions, written by justices Stevens and Breyer respectively, make substantial reference to foreign court decisions. But the growing phenomena of reference to foreign judgments as precedents raises the question of what the justices might have found if they had consulted such materials.

This tendency to invoke foreign jurisprudence is becoming more troubling as it becomes clearer that the moral consensus that once united Western nations has almost entirely broken down. A few years ago a pastor I know, as part of his duties as a representative of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC), took part in an inter-church dialogue with a member of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (GKN), a grouping of Reformed congregations in the Netherlands. The GKN sent what they considered to be a moderate pastor to participate in this conversation about moral issues. In the course of the discussion, the GKN moderate asserted that it was more evil to own a gun than to have an abortion. At this, the CRC representative was only able to respond that their discussion was effectively over. The CRC's official position on abortion is that the church "condemns the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the point of conception to the point of death." As any rhetorician knows, argument can only proceed where there is some basic level of agreement, and the ethical opinion expressed by the GKN pastor was so far removed from the sensibilities of the CRC that there was effectively no point of contact for continuing dialogue. The GKN has since joined a number of other Protestant denominations in the Netherlands, including other Lutheran and Reformed denominations, to form the Protestantse Kerk in Nederland (PKN).

While this is a relatively minor anecdote, it serves well to illustrate the conflicting moral values placed on issues of life by the mainstream culture in Europe and the United States. No doubt there are those on either side of the Atlantic who would take issue with the dominant cultural judgment, but the national and international legal documents underscore the real differences. Where the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights singles out the right of the people to keep and bear arms, proposed European Union constitutional documents make no such mention. And as a recent Washington Times article relates, "many in Western Europe and Japan see U.S. gun ownership rates and gun violence as a clear mark of difference with other industrial countries."

But the difference has not always been so stark. Indeed, the preamble to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written in 1948, recognized the possibility of "rebellion against tyranny and oppression" as "a last resort," an option that ideally could be avoided by protections according to the rule of law.

On the question of abortion, part of what derailed adoption of the EU Constitution in 2004 was concern by nations like Poland and Ireland that the vague constitutional provisions about "dignity" and "integrity" of the human person would require the repeal of national anti-abortion laws. The Treaty of Lisbon, successor to the failed EU Constitution, was rejected by Ireland last month, in part over similar concerns by pro-life advocates that adoption of the treaty "would threaten the Irish constitutional protection for the unborn, given the almost universal acceptance and promotion of abortion at the EU level."

Upon reflection, then, the ethical judgment expressed by the GKN pastor seems to represent fairly well the mainstream EU attitude toward moral issues like guns and abortion. If part of what characterizes a civilization is a consensus on moral issues, then the idea of a unified Western civilization encompassing Europe and the United States is an illusion. A consensus that diverges on such fundamental questions of the right to life and responsibilities of self-defense is simply no consensus at all.


The Far Left's War on Direct Democracy

A total of 24 states allow voters to change laws on their own by collecting signatures and putting initiatives on the ballot. It's healthy that the entrenched political class should face some real legislative competition from initiative-toting citizens. Unfortunately, some special interests have declared war on the initiative process, using tactics ranging from restrictive laws to outright thuggery.

The initiative is a reform born out of the Progressive Era, when there was general agreement that powerful interests had too much influence over legislators. It was adopted by most states in the Midwest and West, including Ohio and California. It was largely rejected by Eastern states, which were dominated by political machines, and in the South, where Jim Crow legislators feared giving more power to ordinary people.

But more power to ordinary people remains unpopular in some quarters, and nothing illustrates the war on the initiative more than the reaction to Ward Connerly's measures to ban racial quotas and preferences. The former University of California regent has convinced three liberal states -- California, Washington and Michigan -- to approve race-neutral government policies in public hiring, contracting and university admissions. He also prodded Florida lawmakers into passing such a law. This year his American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) aimed to make the ballot in five more states. But thanks to strong-arm tactics, the initiative has only made the ballot in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.

"The key to defeating the initiative is to keep it off the ballot in the first place," says Donna Stern, Midwest director for the Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). "That's the only way we're going to win." Her group's name certainly describes the tactics that are being used to thwart Mr. Connerly.

Aggressive legal challenges have bordered on the absurd, going so far as to claim that a blank line on one petition was a "duplicate" of another blank line on another petition and thus evidence of fraud. In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan completely rewrote the initiative's ballot summary to portray it in a negative light. By the time courts ruled she had overstepped her authority, there wasn't enough time to collect sufficient signatures.

Those who did circulate petitions faced bizarre obstacles. In Kansas City, a petitioner was arrested for collecting signatures outside of a public library. Officials finally allowed petitioners a table inside the library but forbade them to talk. In Nebraska, a group in favor of racial preferences ran a radio ad that warned that those who signed the "deceptive" petition "could be at risk for identity theft, robbery, and much worse."

Mr. Connerly says that it's ironic that those who claim to believe in "people power" want to keep people from voting on his proposal: "Their tactics challenge the legitimacy of our system." He's not alone. Liberal columnist Anne Denogean of the Tucson Citizen opposes the Connerly initiative, but last month she wrote that BAMN "is showing a disgusting lack of respect for the democratic process and the right of all Arizonans to participate in it." She detailed how members of this organization harass petitioners and film people who sign the petition, while telling them they are backing a racist measure. The police had to be called when BAMN blocked the entrance of a Phoenix office where circulators had to deliver their petitions. "BAMN's tactics," she concluded, "resemble those used by anti-abortion activists to prevent women from entering abortion clinics."

But BAMN proudly posts videos on its success in scaring away voters, or convincing circulators to hand over their petitions to its shock troops. "If you give me your signatures, we'll leave you alone," says a BAMN volunteer on one tape to someone who's earning money by circulating several different petitions.

What about voters' rights to sign ACRI's petitions? BAMN organizer Monica Smith equates race-neutral laws with Jim-Crow segregation laws and slavery. She told Tuscon columnist Denogean that voters are simply being educated that ACRI is "trying to end affirmative action . . . We let them know it's up on the KKK's Web site." Mr. Connerly has repudiated any support from racists.

Other opponents of Mr. Connerly deplore the blocking and name-calling. Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema told me that initiatives have been used to pass ideas such as campaign finance and redistricting reform often opposed by entrenched legislators. "People have a right to sign a petition, hear the arguments and then vote," she says. Ms. Sinema thinks Arizonans can be persuaded to vote down ACRI's measure, much as they voted down a ban on gay marriage in 2006.

The war against citizen initiatives has other fronts. This year in Michigan, taxpayer groups tried to recall House Speaker Andy Dillon after he pushed through a 22% increase in the state income tax. But petitioners collecting the necessary 8,724 signatures in his suburban Detroit district were set upon. In Redford, police union members held a rally backing Mr. Dillon and would alert blockers to the location of recall petitioners. Outsiders would then surround petitioners and potential signers, using threatening language.

Mr. Dillon denied organizing such activity. Then it was revealed two of the harassers were state employees working directly for him. Another "voter educator" hired by the state's Democratic Party had been convicted of armed robbery. After 2,000 signatures were thrown out on technical grounds, the recall effort fell 700 signatures short.

Ever since voters in virtually every state with direct democracy passed term limits in the 1990s, state legislators have been hostile to the process. Now Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado have all passed legislation to prohibit people from out-of-state from circulating a petition, and also to ban payment to circulators on a per-signature basis.

To his credit, Colorado's Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed such curbs. In March, a Sixth Circuit federal appeals court panel unanimously ruled that an Ohio law barring per-signature payment violated the First Amendment. Similarly, a Ninth Circuit panel just voted unanimously to strike down Arizona's residency law for circulators.

Some judges think the "blocking" of signature gatherers has gone too far. In 2006, Nevada Judge Sally Loehrers decreed a "civility zone" that barred opposing sides from coming within arms' length of each other at petition signing sites. "The blockers were off the streets within two days," says Paul Jacob, the head of Citizens in Charge, which promotes the initiative process.

Last year, Mr. Jacob was charged with conspiracy to defraud the state of Oklahoma in a bizarre prosecution that claimed he brought in out-of-state signature gatherers in violation of the state's residency requirement. Yet local public sector unions opposed to Mr. Jacob hired out-of-state outfits such as the Voter Education Project, an AFL-CIO offshoot that specializes in harassing signature drives.

Representative government will remain the enduring feature of American democracy, but the initiative process is a valuable safety valve. So long as elected officials gerrymander their districts and otherwise make it nearly impossible for voters to oust them, direct lawmaking will be popular. That's why attempts to arbitrarily curb the initiative, or to intimidate people from exercising their right to participate, must be resisted. It's a civil liberties issue that should unite people of good will on both the right and left.


Did Colorado ban the Bible?

Social conservatives are in a fine lather over a Colorado law (PDF) signed by Governor Bill Ritter on May 29 that extends anti-discrimination protections to sexual minorities in matters of business and public accommodations. On its face, the law is the latest effort by our socially conscious lawmakers to force us all to be nice to each other under penalties of fines and imprisonment -- specifically, $300 or one year in jail per violation.

It's all just a bit too much like that old joke about the Soviet Union, in which the commissars express concern about the dreary, bleak attitudes of their subjects: "Everybody must be happy! Anybody not happy by noon tomorrow will be shot!"

Religious conservatives have also fretted that businesses will be forced to cater to people they find repugnant -- for instance, that wedding photographers will be compelled to take shots of same-sex ceremonies. That does, in fact, seem to be the intent of the authors. Rep. Joel Judd responded to just such an objection with the comment that, "If you choose to do commerce in Colorado you have to abide by these rules."

Uh huh. Good luck to the happy gay couple who hires a true-believing Roman Catholic shutterbug. May the record of your most-important day not be made up of 300 shots of the photographer's shoes.

Perhaps most troubling, the law's Section 8 restricts the sort of written material that businesses and landlords may publish and distribute. Supposedly, this provision applies only to statements of an intent to discriminate, but if that's what the authors intended, it's not what they wrote.
SECTION 8. 24-34-701, Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

24-34-701. Publishing of discriminative matter forbidden. No person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent, or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement, directly or indirectly, by himself or herself or through another person shall publish, issue, circulate, send, distribute, give away, or display in any way, manner, or shape or by any means or method, except as provided in this section, any communication, paper, poster, folder, manuscript, book, pamphlet, writing, print, letter, notice, or advertisement of any kind, nature, or description which THAT is intended or calculated to discriminate or actually discriminates against any disability, race, creed, color, sex, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, marital status, national origin, or ancestry or against any of the members thereof in the matter of furnishing or neglecting or refusing to furnish to them or any one of them any lodging, housing, schooling, or tuition or any accommodation, right, privilege, advantage, or convenience offered to or enjoyed by the general public or which states that any of the accommodations, rights, privileges, advantages, or conveniences of any such place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement shall or will be refused, withheld from, or denied to any person or class of persons on account of disability, race, creed, color, sex, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, marital status, national origin, or ancestry or that the patronage, custom, presence, frequenting, dwelling, staying, or lodging at such place by any person or class of persons belonging to or purporting to be of any particular disability, race, creed, color, sex, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, marital status, national origin, or ancestry is unwelcome or objectionable or not acceptable, desired, or solicited.
Note that the law doesn't just say that you can't publish material that states you'll deny services to protected classes of people, it also says you can't make them feel "unwelcome." Hurting people's feelings is now a criminal offense.

Social conservatives object that handing out the Bible or the Book of Mormon may be illegal under the new law. While I can't imagine the courts allowing that interpretation to stand, the text of the law is open to just such a reading. I have to think that legislators threw as much as they could against the legal wall, just to see what would stick.

Many socially conservative groups based in Colorado say they flat-out won't obey the law. As much as I despise their attitudes toward gays and lesbians, I can't blame them. Private individuals, businesses and organizations have the right to decide who they'll associate with and who they won't, and what ideas they'll express along the way, no matter how abhorrent or unpopular their criteria. If the law doesn't recognize that right, the law should be defied.

Lawmakers who set out to make society kinder and gentler through the use of force do violence to the whole idea of tolerance -- and to our liberty.


Third of Britain's Muslim students back killings

Radicalism and support for sharia is strong in British universities

ALMOST a third of British Muslim students believe killing in the name of Islam can be justified, according to a poll. The study also found that two in five Muslims at university support the incorporation of Islamic sharia codes into British law.

The YouGov poll for the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) will raise concerns about the extent of campus radicalism. "Significant numbers appear to hold beliefs which contravene democratic values," said Han-nah Stuart, one of the report's authors. "These results are deeply embarrassing for those who have said there is no extremism in British universities."

The report was criticised by the country's largest Muslim student body, Fosis, but Anthony Glees, professor of security and intelligence studies at Buckingham University, said: "The finding that a large number of students think it is okay to kill in the name of religion is alarming. "There is a wide cultural divide between Muslim and nonMuslim students. The solution is to stop talking about celebrating diversity and focus on integration and assimilation."

The researchers found that 55% of nonMuslim students thought Islam was incompatible with democracy. Nearly one in 10 had "little respect" for Muslims.

In addition to its poll of 1,400 Muslim and nonMuslim students, the centre visited more than 20 universities to interview students and listen to guest speakers. It found that extremist preachers regularly gave speeches that were inflammatory, homophobic or bordering on antisemitic. The researchers highlighted Queen Mary college, part of London University, as a campus where radical views were widely held. Last December, a speaker named Abu Mujahid encouraged Muslim students to condemn gays because "Allah hates" homosexuality. In November, Azzam Tamimi, a British-based supporter of Hamas, described Israel as the most "inhumane project in the modern history of humanity". James Brandon, deputy director at CSC , said: "Our researchers found a ghettoised mentality among Muslim students at Queen Mary. Also, we found the segregation between Muslim men and women at events more visible at Queen Mary."

A spokesman for Queen Mary said the university was aware the preachers had visited but did not know the contents of their speeches. "Clearly, we in no way associate ourselves with these views. However, also integral to the spirit of university life is free speech and debate and on occasion speakers will make statements that are deemed offensive."

In the report, 40% of Muslim students said it was unacceptable for Muslim men and women to associate freely. Homophobia was rife, with 25% saying they had little or no respect for gays. The figure was higher (32%) for male Muslim students. Among nonMuslims, the figure was only 4%.

The research found that a third of Muslim students supported the creation of a world-wide caliphate or Islamic state.

A number of terrorists have been radicalised at British universities. Kafeel Ahmed, who drove a flaming jeep into a building at Glasgow airport last year and died of his burns, is believed to have been radicalised while studying at Anglia Ruskin university, Cambridge.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, condemned the study. "This disgusting report is a reflection of the biases and prejudices of a right-wing think tank - not the views of Muslim students across Britain," he said. "Only 632 Muslim students were asked vague and misleading questions, and their answers were wilfully misinterpreted."

Some of the findings amplify previous research. A report by Policy Exchange last year found that 37% of all Muslims aged 16-24 would prefer to live under a sharia system. Baroness Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "Violence, or the incitement to violence, has no place on a university campus."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Those charming feminists at work

All Desiree Carpenter wanted was a chance to succeed. As a young woman Ms. Carpenter (not her real name) had been subjected to repeated physical and sexual assaults, losing her eyesight during one attack. Her assailant did hard time, but now he was back on the streets and vowing to track her down. Her only hope was to flee to another state, assume a new identity, and start over. Washington was the best place to begin anew, since the state had passed tough anti-stalking laws. So she packed her bags and hopped on the train with her two children in tow, bound for Bellingham, a couple hours north of Seattle.

Being blind, she had come into a laptop computer with a screen reader that converts text to the spoken word. That's how Desiree and I exchanged information for this article. Arriving at the Bellingham train station, she expectantly called the Womencare Shelter, a group that bills itself as a "feminist organization working to end violence against women."

Desiree was told to go to the local MacDonald's to be interviewed by an intake worker. There she was scrutinized to make sure "I was acceptable," as Desiree later recounted. The staffer told Ms. Carpenter to detail her rape experiences while her children sat quietly and listened.

Admitted to the shelter, the staff removed her daughter's electronic homeschooling program, saying African-Americans spend too much time with rap videos. Desiree's television was padlocked and she was informed she could only watch TV on weekends. Like all residents, Desiree was assigned housekeeping chores. It's not that the tasks were menial, but asking a blind woman to clean toilets and sort broken glass seems a little cold-hearted. When the new resident questioned her duties, the staff urged her to become more "empowered."

The staff forbade the woman from making safety accommodations on the shelter's flat-top stove. So Desiree and her young children ate micro-waved meals and peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of their stay. When residents wanted to re-enter the facility, they typed in a security code. Desiree asked to have the keypad marked with Braille dots, leading her to be ridiculed as being disruptive and manipulative. At one point a resident confided to her, "The staff here acts worse than an abuser."

The shelter did help Desiree to secure the all-important name change. Of course that entailed losing all her educational credentials, job references, credit cards, and so forth. That was the sacrifice she knew she would have to make. Over the next two weeks things went from bad to worse, especially after Ms. Carpenter complained about the videotape that lectured residents why organized religion was "oppressive" to women. In desperation, Desiree contacted the Bellingham Adult Protective Services, pleading they dispatch a disability aide so she could cook her own meals.

But the Womencare director ordered "Nyet," claiming that would compromise the shelter's secret location. Then the shelter staff began to suspect she was planning to file a complaint with the Washington Human Rights Council - of course that was forbidden by shelter rules. So that evening the director barged into Desiree's room and issued an ultimatum: "Either you drop your civil rights complaint or you're out of here!" When Desiree tearfully said she had only requested someone to assist with the necessities of life, the staff interpreted her claim of innocence to be further proof of guilt. That was reason enough to summon the police.

Within minutes a female officer dashed into the shelter, gun drawn, pulled the startled children out of bed, and ordered them out. The officer explained that even though Desiree had not violated any rules, the shelter was "exiting" her because she was unhappy with their services.

Then came the crushing blow - the shelter director blurted out Desiree Carpenter's previous name. The officer hastily entered both names, linked by a single report, into the National Crime Information Center database. In that moment, all the labors of the past month were undone, all her hopes of a life free of fear were dashed!

The staff then ransacked Desiree's room, stuffing her possessions, food, and legal documents into a black trash bag. Mother, son, and daughter were sent packing into the rainy night.

During her one-month nightmare at Womencare, Ms. Carpenter suffered too many indignities to recount in a single column - more details can be seen here. In the end, Desiree's daughter said she would rather die than ever again trust an abuse shelter.



Are you anxious? Dejected? Fearful? Why wouldn't you be, considering the barrage of rotten news assaulting you from every direction? "Everything seemingly is spinning out of control," moaned the apocalyptic headline on a recent Associated Press dispatch. "Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Airfares, college tuition, and healthcare border on unaffordable . . . Americans need do no more than check the weather, look in their wallets, or turn on the news for their daily reality check on a world gone haywire."

Thanks in part to journalism of that caliber, consumers are more apprehensive than they have been in decades. Consumer confidence is at a 16-year low, while according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll, more Americans than ever, 84 percent, think the country is headed in the wrong direction. The New York Times devoted one-fourth of Saturday's front page to illustrating ways in which the economy is mired in "A Slowdown With Trouble at Every Turn" -- and continued the gloom for a full page inside.

Voices of reason keep trying to point out that conditions are not nearly as bad as they were the last time consumers were this despondent. That was in May 1980, during the final year of the Carter administration, when the "misery index" -- the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates -- hit an excruciating 21.9. Inflation was then at 14.4 percent; unemployment was 7.5 percent. The numbers today are 5 and 5.5 respectively.

But voters don't want to be told to buck up. When former senator Phil Gramm, an economic adviser to John McCain, said last week that America had "become a nation of whiners" and described the current slowdown as a "mental recession," the backlash was immediate. McCain repudiated Gramm's remarks and quickly issued a statement assuring voters that he "travels the country every day talking to Americans who are hurting, feeling pain at the pump, and worrying about how they'll pay their mortgage."

Well, that's politics. Politicians who want to get elected genuflect to what Bryan Caplan, in *The Myth of the Rational Voter* calls the pessimistic bias: the "tendency to overestimate the severity of economic problems and underestimate the (recent) past, present, and future performance of the economy."

For a nonpessimistic view, hearken to W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who in the current issue of The American ask "How Are We Doing?" -- and offer some useful perspective. The nation's present troubles, they argue -- rising oil and food prices, job losses, sluggish growth, the mortgage crisis -- "will turn out to be mere footnotes in a longer-term march of progress." The US economy, "a $14 trillion behemoth," remains without equal as an engine of growth and prosperity. However impolitic it may be to say so, when you take the long view it is clear that we have never had it so good.

Cox and Alm point to an array of reassuring trends. Americans on average work far less than they used to. Annual hours devoted to the job have fallen from 1,903 in 1950 to just 1,531 today. We start working later in life, retire earlier, and live much longer. Even including household labor, they write, "only about a quarter of our waking hours are consumed with work, down from 45 percent in 1950."

The material progress of recent decades has been extraordinary -- at all income levels. Forty percent of poor families own their own homes. For many goods (kitchen appliances, color TVs, air conditioners) ownership rates are higher among poor Americans today than they were among the general population in 1970.

On highways and in the air, we travel billions of miles more than we used to, yet death rates are at all-time lows. Healthcare is more expensive, true, but quality is much better. Real total compensation -- wages plus benefits, adjusted for inflation - has been climbing for generations. And if prices are calculated as a function of work-time -- how long one must work at the average pay rate to earn the price of something - a gallon of gasoline, even with the runup in pump prices, "still goes for less than 11 minutes of work."

Short-term troubles notwithstanding, Cox and Alm observe, the "data points add up to steady, continuing progress for average Americans." So no, everything is not spinning out of control. Alarmist headlines notwithstanding, we're doing all right. Buck up.


Rejoicing in death. Why is the Left so full of hate for Lady Thatcher?

The Letters page of The Guardian, seldom the sanest of arenas, has this week descended to virulent venom. In place of the customary corduroyed bores calling for unilateral disarmament, rainbow-nation multiculturalism or celebrations of Castro's Cuba, there have appeared several letters which gloated at the prospect of Margaret Thatcher's death. Their vengeful tone, though hurtful about the still very much alive Lady Thatcher, has been instructive. It was a timely reminder that no one does viciousness quite like the Left. Far from the Conservatives being 'the Nasty Party', Labour's preachy brothers and sisters have long deserved that title.

The Guardian letters were sparked by reports that Lady Thatcher will be given the rare honour of a state funeral. Even to discuss such arrangements is, let us be honest, a difficult matter. The widowed, octogenarian Lady T is in fair health. Long may she remain so.

Some Guardian readers have taken a markedly less charitable line towards the former Prime Minister. Typical of the response was that of one Chris Gibson, who said that on seeing the headline about a state funeral for Lady Thatcher: 'I thought that the week had got off to the best possible start.' Charming. Another contributor, Chris Hardman, wrote: 'Just a couple of questions: 'Does that include the grave/dancefloor combo?' and 'When is it booked for?' Guardian reader Rob Watling suggested that the contract for any state funeral should be 'put out to compulsory competitive tender and awarded to the lowest bidder'.

On one level, these letters are merely the prattish words of small minds - people unable to accept that many of the battles of the Eighties were lost for good by Labour and that Lady T was a remarkable election winner whose titanic will reversed Britain's post-war decline and, incidentally, destroyed the class structure so loathed by the Left. But the fact such horrible letters were written, let alone published in a national newspaper, tells us something else. The vituperative tone was even less restrained on The Guardian's internet website, and those of other Left-wing publications such as The New Statesman.

It is all of a piece with other instances of shrill intolerance by the Left. Why is it that socialists, in contrast to their professed humanity and Methodist origins, are so remarkably malevolent? Why is the Left so mean?

Look at the way Labour hardliners reacted to the idea of Boris Johnson becoming Mayor of London. A moderate Tory, socially liberal, urban, pro-gay, generally pro-minority, he has more in common with middle-class London Labour than he does with old-fashioned provincial Tories. Yet the last days of his campaign saw near apoplexy among Left-wingers - not least with some ludicrously skewed coverage in The Guardian. Genial Boris was depicted as little short of a rapist and Ku Klux Klansman.

Look at the way Labour portrayed Edward Timpson, Conservative candidate in the recent Crewe and Nantwich by-election. A barrister specialising in family disputes, an area of the law which exposes practitioners to terrible examples of social breakdown, Mr Timpson is no goose-stepper. He is a well-informed Centrist from a family which has done much charity work in Cheshire. So how was he depicted by the caring, sharing Left? As an early 20th century fop, a political opportunist, a figure to be hated. A hit squad of hecklers was hired to pursue him. Labour spent thousands of pounds on negative campaigning.

Left-wingers like to talk of ' progressive politics', by which they suppose they mean open-mindedness, but historically they are far more dogmatic than the Right.

Factionalism and drunken intrigue were rampant in the trades unions of old. On immigration, Left-wingers have been exceptionally illiberal. Commentators and politicians who questioned the pro-immigration consensus were shouted down as racists. The thoroughly decent former Tory leader Michael Howard was cast as something close to a Nazi for daring to suggest that immigration was becoming a problem. His assailants were not shamed by the fact that Mr Howard is of Jewish emigre stock. He'd had the temerity to oppose the Left. He had to be destroyed.

Tony Blair's regime was infamously unpleasant to people who tried to stand in its way. Government scientist David Kelly paid for his independence with his life - suicide, we were told, although he was pushed into any such suicide by Labour-ordered briefings. Other refuseniks, from Cabinet ministers who refused to do grubby deals or military commanders who questioned bad orders, had their reputations traduced. Civil servants who did not 'fit' were sacked by Blair's thugs. Some people tried to claim smiling Tony's nastiest piece of work, Alastair Campbell, was no worse than Sir Bernard Ingham, Mrs Thatcher's press spokesman. But Ingham never wielded the power - or malevolence - of the spitting, table-thumping Campbell.

How depressing it is that even now Blair has gone, the Labour Government continues to show a vindictive streak. The treatment of General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of General Staff, is the latest example of a good public servant being shafted by rancorous Leftists, furious that an 'old school' figure should try to oppose their sway.

One of the Left's great propaganda achievements over the years has been the idea that it was somehow kinder to support Labour than to be Conservative. Think a little harder, though, and you may start to see that Left's attitude depends on the suppression of tolerance. It demands communal conformity rather than independent freedom. It seeks to dictate supply rather than allowing the market to find a level. It places the state above the citizen.

Here are the philosophical roots of the harshness of discipline which fuel the unpleasantness. Those Guardian letters spring directly from Left-wing orthodoxy. It is hard to imagine any Conservative worth that name rejoicing at the death of a Labour opponent. The Tory instinct does not work like that. When the then Tory party chairman, Theresa May, told her activists they were 'seen as the nasty party' she was probably right - even though it was unfair.

Labour's cleverness has been to hide its vindictive streak. If anything, the Tories have not been nasty enough. Let's hope it stays that way. I'd hate to think any of us would descend to the level reached by the Left - the REAL nasty party.


"Useful Idiots" Convene in Madrid

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the Custodian of Postmodern European Secularism, Spanish Prime Minister Jos, Luis Rodr­guez Zapatero, on July 16 opened the World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid. The aim of the event is to promote dialogue between the world's main religions, and, as some observers suspect, to establish a one-world religion based on Islam. More than 200 leaders of different religions [pdf], including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Universalism, Marxism and Multiculturalism, are attending the three-day conference. Also attending are leading personalities specialized in dialogue and useful topics such as "life of human societies, international cooperation, human rights, security and peace and living peacefully together."

The conference is being organized by the Muslim World League (also known as the World Islamic League) following an initiative by King Abdullah, whose country is the birthplace of Islam, a religion of peace. The Muslim World League also happens to be the principal agent for the propagation of Wahhabi Islam in Europe. In 1987, it was elected as a "Messenger of World Peace" by the United Nations.

Saudi officials said Spain was chosen as the site for the gathering because of its historical symbolism as a place where Muslims and those Jews and Christians who paid the dhimmi tax lived in peace under Islamic rule between the 8th and 13th centuries.

The event will take place against a backdrop of tensions between the Islamic world and the West due to the intolerable intolerance of the latter. They range from restrictions on the use of the veil by Muslim women in some European countries to cartoons regarded as blasphemous by Muslims and the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The conference, which seeks to promote openness, consists of five closed-door round tables. They will be followed by a final communiqu, to be issued on July 18. The first session, titled "Dialogue and Its Religious and Civilizational Foundations," will be chaired by the secretary-general of the Millennium World Peace Summit. The session will touch upon touchy topics such as "Dialogue in Islam" and "Dialogue in Christianity."

The second session is titled "Dialogue and Its Importance in Society." A president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace will present a paper on "Dialogue and Interaction of Cultures and Civilizations," while the president of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, will speak on "Dialogue and its Impact on Peaceful Coexistence." Other lofty topics for discussion include: "Dialogue and Its Impact on International Relations" and "Dialogue in the Face of Calls for the Clash of Civilizations and End of History."

The third session, titled "Common Human Values in Areas of Dialogue," will be chaired by the secretary-general of the World Conference of Religions for Peace. Featured speakers are the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); the secretary-general of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought in Iran; and the rector of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue at the Vatican.

The fourth session is titled "Evaluation and Promotion of Dialogue" and will be chaired by the secretary-general of the Jewish Congress in Latin America and the Caribbean. This session will cover topics such as "Muslim-Christian-Jewish Dialogue: Its Future & Horizons" and "Efforts of States and International Organizations in Augmenting Dialogue and Overcoming its Obstacles."

The fifth session is titled "Disseminating of Culture and Co-Existence of Dialoge." It will focus on topics such as: "Media and its Impact on Disseminating the Culture of Dialogue and Co-Existance." The final communique will be read out by the assistant secretary of the Muslim World League.

Saudi Arabia hopes the conference will prove that it is trying to: 1) shed its international image of harboring a xenophobic religious establishment; and 2) moderate clerical conservatism that even objects to women driving cars.

According to Reuters, the conference offers Saudi Arabia a chance to declare its "openness and willingness to cooperate with the international community [.] It marks a new direction for Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi Islam has come in for criticism internationally" after 15 of the 19 Arabs who killed some 3,000 people in the September 11 attacks in the United States were Saudis.

Abdullah al-Turki, the head of the Muslim World League and conference organizer, says: "Saudi Arabia, on whose ground the global message of Islam was launched, affirms to the whole world its openness and cooperation with the world community." And then, just in case there was any doubt, al-Turki adds: "Islam requires Muslims to inform people about Islam as the final divine message that came after the previous prophets."

So why is the hyper-secular and hyper-tolerant Zapatero embracing one of the most theologically intolerant strands of Islam? And why is he turning Spain into a Saudi public relations rehab center? Zapatero (like his Saudi counterparts, but for different reasons) views Judeo-Christianity as public enemy number one because it is the main impediment to the realization of his vision for a socialist multicultural utopia in which everything goes. And he hopes his pact with Islam will accelerate Spanish history.

Zapatero and his socialist advisors believe Muslims are the "useful idiots" of the left. And Muslims believe Zapatero and his socialist friends are the "useful idiots" of Islam. Such is the future of Spain.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The evil British police again

Grandmother arrested on race charges after telling rowdy Asian students to 'go home'

After being woken for the third time in one night by a group of drunken and noisy students, Jo Calvert-Mindell was at her wits' end. The former policewoman got dressed, went outside and shouted at them: 'Why can't you go back to where you come from and make some noise there? I bet your families and neighbours wouldn't put up with it. 'You don't care about us and do just as you like. What gives you the right to frighten my elderly neighbours, cause damage and keep us awake at night?'

She also reported the incident to police, who came and dispersed the eight students. The 51-year-old grandmother was astonished when four months later she was arrested and accused of being a racist. It turned out that two Asians in the group had complained to the police. In April, Miss Calvert-Mindell, who has never been in trouble with the police before, was charged with using racially aggravated threatening words or behaviour under section 5 of the Public Order Act. In May, she appeared at Folkestone Magistrates' Court in Kent, where she denied the charge.

The case hung over her until the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop it last week, admitting there was little chance of conviction. Now she is filing a complaint about the way the police treated her.

Yesterday, Miss Calvert-Mindell, a Liberal Democrat councillor and community volunteer, said: 'The last thing I am is a racist. 'I have a totally inclusive attitude to different races and cultures - I don't care if you are black, white, green or a Martian. 'Their colour had nothing to do with it - it was their behaviour. 'I think there is something very wrong in our society when a resident can't go out and try and prevent crime and disorder and encourage the defendants to go back home and that they can then play the race card to completely absolve themselves of responsibility for that behaviour. 'The authorities today are so sensitive to being criticised for being racist that any claims of racism just raises their antennae, instead of using common sense.'

The incident that led to her court appearance happened in the early hours of November 8 last year on the Hales Place estate in Canterbury. Miss Calvert-Mindell, who has a daughter and three grandchildren, was woken three times by students from the nearby University of Kent, who were shouting drunkenly and kicking bins. Fed up after months of sleeplessness caused by noisy students she put her clothes on and went down to tell them to be quiet.

She said that when she shouted at the students 'all I meant was that they would not do that at their family homes wherever they had come from in England.' But one of the students said she was being racist. Two Asians in the group later complained to police.

Assistant district crown prosecutor Carol Chastney said: 'Following a review we decided to discontinue the proceedings against the defendant as there was no longer sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.' Kent Police refused to apologise. Superintendent Chris Hogben said: 'An allegation was made that was fully investigated. A case was presented to the CPS and the decision was made to prosecute. 'If Miss Calvert-Mindell would like to discuss our response and the conduct of officers I would urge her to contact me direct.'


British photography paranoia reaches new peak (1)

No photos of even EMPTY pools!

A council has apologised to two women after a worker ordered them to stop photographing a deserted paddling pool over fears about child protection. Southampton City Council said it was trying to safeguard youngsters on the city's common but added staff would now be advised to use more discretion. Betty Robinson, 82, and Brenda Bennett, 69, were taking pictures when they were ordered to stop by a female worker. Mrs Robinson said: "It's pathetic, bureaucracy gone mad."

"I said is it because we might be paedophiles? There were no children in the pool but she pointed to a man and boys in the distance and said we could come back later at 6pm when the park was closed. "We are just a couple of old ladies who wouldn't hurt children and we are certainly not paedophiles."

Mike Harris, head of leisure and culture at Southampton City Council, said in a statement: "I'm sorry if we have caused any offence on this occasion. "We have to walk a fine line between protecting the children who use this popular paddling pool and the interests of the community as a whole. "A lot of people are more concerned about the safety of their children these days so it is appropriate that our staff are aware of who is taking photos."


British photography paranoia reaches new peak (2)

Must not photograph offenders -- is "assault"

A householder who took photographs of hooded teenagers as evidence of their anti-social behaviour says he was told he was breaking the law after they called the police. David Green, 64, and his neighbours had been plagued by the youths from a nearby comprehensive school for months, and was advised by their headmaster to identify them so action could be taken.

But when Mr Green left his $2 million London flat to take photographs of the gang, who were aged around 17, he said one threatened to kill him while another called the police on his mobile. And he claimed that a Police Community Support Officer sent to the scene promptly issued a warning that taking pictures of youths without permission was illegal, and could lead to a charge of assault.

Last night Mr Green, a television cameraman, said he was appalled that the legal system's first priority seemed not to be stopping frightening anti-social behaviour by aggressive youths, but protecting them from being photographed by the concerned public. Mr Green, a father-of-two, lives with his programme-maker wife Judy in a penthouse flat close to Waterloo station. He said: 'We've had problems with this group shouting abuse and throwing stones for months, and were asked to identify them. 'When I went to take photographs of eight of them throwing cans of Coke around, six of them ran away, one threatened to kill me, and another one started phoning the police.

'A couple of hours later, a Police Community Support Officer told me I had been accused of assault, though no such thing occurred, and told me I was not allowed to take photographs of teenagers on the street. 'I think it's wrong that when teenagers are running riot and the police are called, it's about me, and I'm treated like a criminal. 'In South London we all know how many stabbings there have been, and I think the police should be busy catching the real bad people.'

Mr Green said he handed his pictures to a deputy headmaster at the nearby Nautical School, and was promised the matter would be investigated. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force had no record of the incident.


A Look Back at the New Age

BOOK REVIEW of "Farm Friends" By Tom Fels

While campaigning, Barack Obama has criticized the politics of baby boomers who are still "fighting some of the same fights since the sixties." Such a criticism must resonate with many Americans, who have grown weary of the boomer cohort's fondness for itself.

Tom Fels's "Farm Friends," although a 1960s memoir, does not really belong to his generation's self-celebratory tradition. It concerns a group of people who, in the manner of 19th-century utopian communities, lived on a communal farm in western Massachusetts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They worked diligently to usher in the New Age -- living as self-sufficiently as possible (aided by the stealing of food and tools), sharing responsibilities and avoiding "the world of trauma outside." That world included the Vietnam War as well as American middle-class culture, with its apparent lack of interest in realities deeper than consumerism. Farm life would supposedly help create the kind of peace and harmony that the 1960s counterculture was so keen to find.

Naturally, the New Age did not arrive, and the farm members went their separate ways. But Mr. Fels is not intent on merely condemning the experiment or praising it. He shows an appealing resistance to sweeping philosophical explanations and to aphorisms disguised as existential truths, both favorites of the 1960s. In "Farm Friends," he describes life on the farm, interviews the commune members in later years and examines how their lives reflect (or do not reflect) the ideals they once espoused.

Dozens of people pop in and out of the narrative. We meet the prodigal daughter of a French admiral who, as Mr. Fels puts it, "believed that the world was in a stage of decadence, degeneracy, and decay comparable to Rome." Then there is a writer who begins as a chronicler of commune life and eventually composes a novel that he deems "the 'Godfather' of the stoned generation." The commune's founder, Marshall Bloom, is a frequent subject of conversation. He was an iconic figure of the counterculture who committed suicide in 1969.

Mr. Fels treats his friends with gentle skepticism but also respect, and he writes with considerable psychological insight. Still, he can be overly indulgent. He labels one commune member an "entrepreneur" even though the man's first business is drug dealing. In fact, drugs are a constant among the farm friends, who consume them with the same aplomb with which an earlier generation drank scotch and sodas. The taste in drugs tracks consumer trends -- pot and hallucinogens during the 1960s, cocaine a decade later.

But Mr. Fels seems determined not to pass judgment. He quotes without comment from one friend's 1970 book, "Total Loss Farm," an earlier commune memoir whose author recounts the militant radicalism that he came to reject: "We dreamed of a New Age born of violent insurrection. We danced on the graves of the war dead in Vietnam, every corpse was ammunition for Our Side." Mr. Fels writes of the admiral's daughter, apparently without irony: "On her thirtieth birthday, at the farm, she had changed her name to Lilly Stillwater and adopted the calm, organic lifestyle that ought to have gone with it, only to be deeply disrupted shortly after by the growth of a consuming passion for the music of Tina Turner."

Mr. Fels visits with one farm friend who has become a drug-taking hipster corporate attorney. "Isn't it great?" the man exults. "Corporate America is paying for this lifestyle!" Like other former radicals, he is eager to maintain the fiction that, even by joining "the system," he is somehow subverting it. Other farm friends take up social causes, like the anti-nuclear weapons campaign of the late 1970s and early 1980s and the campaign against nuclear power. One former commune member is arrested for toppling a weather tower that had been erected as part of a nuclear-power plant.

Still other farm alumni make no pretense to continuing the revolution but instead engage in the boomer habit of replacing youthful extremism with a middle-aged version: "We used to think money was the least important thing. Now I can see that it's the most important," says one former commune member, sounding like a budding Randian. "Money buys freedom."

Few of the farm friends are terribly likable or sympathetic -- with the notable exception of Tim, an "alienated citizen" of the farm while he lived there. Tim found the commune's group dynamics stifling. He wanted time to himself and was promised that he could build his own room and work space in the barn, but the objections of others to his solitary plans thwarted him at nearly every turn.

Of the farm's whole New Age mission, Tim remarks: "The error was, I think, imagining that there was somewhere new to go, someone new to be. It became increasingly clear that a closed system of myth did not jibe with the world as it really was." Looking later at the outside world, Tim saw "a system formed less from malice than from a kind of natural order, less from inordinate greed than from longings much like our own for privacy, comfort, individual freedom, and one's familiar or chosen way of life." Unfortunately, "Farm Friends" spends too little time with Tim.

In the last part of the book, Mr. Fels details his studies in art history and his career as an independent art curator. For all his memoir's moderate tone, he cannot resist a note of narcissistic complaint: "Have you noticed that . . . we have had to make compromises, find ways to support our visions, create a framework in this difficult world through which to live and to survive?" Usually, though, he leaves the self- involvement to others. "I'm still doing my thing," a friend tells the author in a typical passage, "such as it may be, and my thing goes on, and on, and on." We've noticed.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Friday, July 25, 2008

Being a Terrorist Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

By Barry Rubin

The number-one mistake people make trying to understand the Middle East is refusing to believe folks here think differently from themselves. Virtually every development in the Middle East should remind us of this reality. Yet as Captain Ahab hunted the white whale, as prospectors hunt for gold, as...well, you get the idea, so is the hunt for the great Arab moderate. There are Arab moderates, some very smart and brave people. The problem is none are in positions of power and all must shut up or face repression and being defined by fellows as enemies of the people.

The view of the Middle East held in much or most of the Western media, academia, intellectual circles, and large sections of governments is a fantasy having nothing to do with the region. One should work against dangerous extremists with the Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Moroccan, Kuwaiti, UAE, and Iraqi governments as well as the Lebanese pro-independence forces, though these all have multiple faults. But you must know the limits. And you can't work with the Iranian, Syrian governments, Hamas and Hizballah or Muslim Brotherhood, even against al-Qaida which is ultimately--despite September 11--a far smaller threat.

Still, one must face the fact that the last half-century's most basic lessons have evaporated, partly due to Western policy mistakes--of excessive softness, not toughness--but mostly to the incredible power of the region's political and intellectual system.

What keeps the region crisis-ridden, extremist, undemocratic, and unstable is not merely a system imposed by evil regimes on an innocent public. Yes, regimes continue their self-serving Arab nationalist, semi-Islamist, anti-Western, anti-Israel, demagogic messages urging the masses to support their local dictator. But this is what the public wants to hear. Rulers would be in far more trouble if they told the truth.

The glorification of the terrorist Sami Qantar is widely seen in the West as showing something is deeply wrong in the Arabic-speaking world. Yet there's also much denial. The New York Times explained Qantar's attack had gone terribly wrong when he murdered Israeli civilians. In fact, this was the raid's purpose.

In another article, the Times intoned: "The United States, Israel and some of their European allies have begun to recognize that their policy of trying to defeat their enemies by isolating and vilifying them has failed." Yet it was Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas that dispatches the Qantars on missions against not only Israeli but also Iraqi and Lebanese civilians.

If the extremists should not be vilified should they be praised? If they should not be isolated should they be embraced? Is the correct policy the feting of murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad in Paris or parleying with the genocidal-oriented Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran? Why did the U.S. government welcome the Syria-Iran-Hizballah victory in knocking down Lebanon's moderate government? Who's the villain in Iraq, the United States or the terrorists?

Well, for the Arabic-speaking world, the true heroes are still the terrorists. What horrified me most is not radicals cheering Qantar but that most relative moderates feeling compelled to do so. At the airport to greet him were leaders of Lebanon's anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian Druze and Christian groups as well as the ambassadors from Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, and Morocco.

To avoid being discredited, relative moderates must affirm that anyone who murders Israeli children is a hero. That's the measure of how far--despite daily headlines to the contrary--the region is from Arab-Israeli peace.

Yet it's untrue the prisoner exchange has strengthened or encouraged the radicals. The truth is even worse: No matter what happens they'll do exactly the same things. If every operation and casualty is a victory, a profit-loss calculus doesn't apply. They'll kidnap if there's a prisoner exchange; they'll kidnap if there's no exchange. Triumph is continuing the struggle. Violence, death, and instability is cause for celebration.

Charles Harb, a Lebanese professor, claimed in the Guardian, "The Secret of Hizballah's Success" is that its ability to get back some prisoners and bodies or force Israel out of south Lebanon "is in stark contrast to what `Arab moderates' could show for in the same decade they spent negotiating with the Israeli state."

The Saudi-backed, London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat, however, reminded readers that Hizballah's success cost "$5.2 billion in losses and 1,200 dead" in the 2006 war. In addition, the south Lebanon war took almost 20 years, and Israel would have withdrawn far sooner if it had not been trying to block attacks against its territory.

The claim that Arab moderates have gained little through negotiation is also quite wrong. By negotiating with Israel, Egypt got back the Sinai, reopened the Suez Canal and western Sinai oilfields, and received about $60 billion to date in U.S. aid. The PLO got the Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank, putting more than two million Palestinians under its rule. Thousands of its prisoners were freed (more, of course, were taken because of its continuing violence), many billions of dollars in aid were obtained, and it could have had a Palestinian state if it so desired.

So who came out better, Egypt and the PLO (especially if it had really stuck to negotiating) or Hizballah? Psychologically, the Arabic-speaking world says Hizballah because the "honor" gained through fighting and not yielding the dream of total victory trumps material benefits. Better martyrdom than compromise, better resistance than prosperity.

As long as this is true, there's no hope for peace; even those who know better are dragged into shouting militant slogans. This doesn't fit Western concepts of pragmatism, expectations that militants are just aching to be transformed into moderates, or that settling grievances through concessions defuses hatred.

That's why policy prescriptions based on those premises are disastrous. While the West concludes that trying to defeat enemies by isolating and vilifying them has failed, the other side concludes its policy of trying to defeat its enemies by violence, vilification, and intransigence is working. That means more of the same: many decades more of the same.


Anti-Israel bias at the BBC again

Initial BBC and AFP headlines ignore the victims in second bulldozer attack

Less than three weeks after a Palestinian from east Jerusalem used a bulldozer to kill three people on a busy street in Israel's capital, another east Jerusalem resident attempted to replicate the attack. The second attacker rammed his bulldozer into a bus, then began flipping cars on the street, wounding at least 16 people.

When the first bulldozer rampage took place, we were stunned to see the BBC's initial headline focusing on the fate of the driver - who was shot by Israeli security - rather than the victims of his attack. The BBC subsequently changed its headline to make it more neutral, reflecting what appeared to be a better understanding of the incident and its significance.

Or so we thought. Despite a virtual repetition of the first incident, the BBC's initial response the second time was a headline questioning whether an attack had taken place at all. The headlines on the BBC's web page went from "New Vehicle `Attack' in Jerusalem" to "New Digger `Attack' in Jerusalem," then finally settled on "Israel Hit By New Digger Attack."












It is difficult to understand how the BBC ever saw the incident as anything other than an attack. The bulldozer driver rammed into a bus, then pushed into it several more times, shattering glass and throwing the passengers into a panic. He then zigzagged through the road to harm as many motorists as possible before he was stopped. This is how the bus driver described the incident to the Jerusalem Post.

"I was driving on the main road when suddenly the tractor hit me in the rear on the right hand side," said bus driver Avi Levy.

At first Levy thought it was a traffic accident, but then the attacker struck the bus over and over, causing pandemonium as passengers shouted: "God save us" and "escape, escape."

"He made a U-turn and rammed the windows twice with the shovel. The third time he aimed for my head - he came up to my window and death was staring me in the eyes," Levy said.

"Fortunately I was able to swerve to the right [onto a small side street], otherwise I would have gone to meet my maker," he said as he stood next to the badly damaged bus, whose left-side windows were completely blown out.

In the news story beneath the headline, the BBC does not put quotes around the word "attack." However, the headline writers make the first impression with readers and undermine what otherwise could be fair coverage of the incident. But the BBC was not the only media outlet that skewed the story with its initial headline. Agence France-Presse (AFP), the third largest wire service after the AP and Reuters, repeated the BBC's shocking error from the first attack, placing all of the emphasis on the driver instead of his victims.

Although the AFP changed its headline to "Palestinian Shot Dead After New Bulldozer Rampage," its first story on the incident was headlined, "Jerusalem Bulldozer Driver Shot Dead: Police." The headline leaves out any information about victims or a rampage, leaving the casual reader scanning headlines to believe that a construction worker had been killed without cause.

There is no excuse for such a misleading headline, even as an initial report. The first paragraph of that first story already acknowledges police sources saying that the driver was killed after injuring several people, so it is impossible to argue that the headline writers didn't have the facts available. 


The Fully Informed Jury Strategy

The "fully informed jury" strategy attempts to wedge the jury process as an obstacle between oppressive law and individual freedom. The strategy is based on the doctrine of jury nullification by which a juror can reject the law. That is, a juror can refuse to convict a defendant despite instructions from a judge if he believes either that the law is unjust or that its application is unjust. In essence, the jury renders a verdict on the law itself and not merely on the facts of a case.

Jury nullification has been established in common law since 1670 when an English jury refused to convict William Penn for the crime of preaching Quakerism. They were imprisoned for doing so. In a legal precedent, the English high court ruled that juries must be free to reach their own decisions without fear of punishment by the court. In 1735, jury nullification was affirmed in America when publisher John Peter Zenger was tried for printing "seditious libel" without first receiving the government's approval. The judge instructed the jury that no facts were in question since Zenger admitted the sedition. All that remained was the legality of his act and such "issues of law" were matters for the court to determine. The jurors were instructed to find Zenger guilty. Within ten minutes, they declared him not guilty.

Since then, the right and power of a jury to de facto overturn a law has been the subject of debate and inconsistent application. Advocates of individual rights tend to embrace jury nullification as a key aspect of trial by jury. 19th century individualists shared this tendency, with Lysander Spooner's treatise Trial by Jury often considered to be the definitive word. The first chapter of this work is entitled "The Right of Juries to Judge the Justice of Laws."

Nevertheless... ...an interesting debate on trial by jury erupted in the pages of a key 19th century individualist periodical, Liberty (1881-1908). The debate did not revolve around the usual controversies, such as the propriety of subpoena -- the so-called "right" of the state to coerce testimony. Instead, it addressed the propriety of trial by jury itself and, thus, by necessary implication, of jury nullification. The debate raised important questions that should be considered before accepting the strategy of fully informed juries.

Perhaps the first question is how a group of twelve people can claim any right unless an individual has assigned it to them. Can a "collective" right supercede individual ones? After all, it cannot be said that the defendant has relinquished his rights due to committing an aggressive act as this is the very finding that the jury has been convened to determine.

The 16th century classical liberal John Locke believed that the need to protect "life, liberty, and estate" in society led men to form government. In exchange for protection, men willingly relinquished the right to adjudicate their own disputes -- that is, the right to try their own cases in court. Locke also posited a form of tacit consent by which those who had not explicitly agreed were still bound to trial by jury. As long as a man remained in society, he consented to its jurisdiction, including its right to adjudicate disputes. Radical individualists in 19th century America generally demanded a more explicit transfer of authority from the individual to any collective entity. For them, how a jury had the right to sit in judgment on someone who objected to the process was a quandary.

In 1889, Liberty ran a series of articles by Victor Yarros collectively entitled "Free Political Institutions: Their Nature, Essence, and Maintenance." The series was advertised as "an abridgement and rearrangement" of Trial by Jury. Spooner's work had not addressed how juries acquired the right to try a case in any detail. But Yarros considered this issue to be so important that he repositioned text from Spooner's concluding chapter. Yarros' version began with a statement of what Spooner called "free government":

"The theory of government is that it is formed by the voluntary contract of the people individually with each other." From here, Spooner had contended that certain laws or conditions were so obviously beneficial that all members of society would explicitly agree to them. Spooner considered trial by jury to be one of these overwhelmingly beneficial conditions.

The debate in Liberty refuted Spooner's {2019} assumption. At least some people would not consent to trial by jury. Adolph Herben declared that he preferred trial by experts rather than by laymen who would be ignorant of technical matters that might be crucial to his case. He deemed it absurd to hang a person on the "mere opinion of twelve ordinary men." Spooner had anticipated the objection from "ignorance." He argued that juries should not be granted power on the basis of their wisdom, but because they were not as vulnerable to corruption as judge and other officials.

In another Liberty article, however, Steven T. Byington argued that juries would be corrupt, at least, in the form of being biased. He quoted from an editorial run by the Times of Natal -- a newspaper from an English speaking country in which racism made "trial by jury" for black defendants a mockery. Judgments simply could not be obtained against whites who committed crimes against blacks. Byington claimed that in the presence of such prejudices, "trial by jury" became an instrument of injustice. The prejudice did not even need to be widespread to have a disastrous impact on the integrity of the jury system. "If only ten per cent of the people were of this sort, more than sixty-four per cent of the juries would include one or more of these men to prevent a conviction. In order that there should be an even chance of twelve men taken at random being unanimously willing to judge according to certain principles, it is necessary that there be not so many as six per cent of the population who reject those principles."

Byington further objected to jury nullification due to "the need for certainty." He referred to laws "where it has been reasonably said that certainty is sometimes more important than justice." For example, publishers might well prefer a clear and consistently enforced standard of obscenity by which they could predict the legality of an article rather than rely upon the unpredictable decision of twelve men.

Perhaps the most interesting of Byington's objections was a practical one. He maintained that courts in a free society would arise in a free society would be unlikely to adopt the jury system because it was clumsy and expensive. Any free market court system that used juries might well operate at a distinct disadvantage by having to charge considerably more than its competitors. Thus, the modern form of a voluntary court -- arbitration -- does not include a jury. Byington speculated on how justice would be provided in a "society where things are done on a business basis." He wrote, "[D]efensive associations will have their judges, and their treaties as to the method of arbitration when two associations are on opposite sides of a case, and these tribunals of one or three professional judges will settle all cases where some one does not distinctly demand a jury. I suppose a case will almost never come before a jury except on appeal..."

Byington contended that trial by jury was a response to government and not a free market phenomenon. A court system that evolved within a "society where things are done on a business basis" would be arranged differently. In a free market evolution, the disadvantages of trial by jury would loom large: its expense, the unpredictability of its verdicts, the problem of dissenting defendants, the widespread tendency toward prejudice... For Byington, trial jury was not a "right" but a "wrong."

Conclusion: Trial by jury presents interesting problems for those who champion individual rights. In one particular instance, a jury may be an effective weapon against oppressive government. In another, it may be a vehicle for unjust prejudices. In both cases, it is necessary to explain how juries derive the right to judge those who object to the process. How does a collective entity rightfully acquire such power over a dissenting individual?


Given my druthers, I'd take Walmart

I went by the Great Satan the other day. Yes, I visited our local Walmart, the icon of hate from the Left. Let me tell you a bit about it. This Walmart was built in an area that was pretty much undeveloped. They used to be in the nearby city but the organized forces of resentment did their level best to drive them out. You heard all the nonsense about how Walmart was driving other business into bankruptcy. So Walmart found a new location, built a larger store and moved. And the area they went to didn't really have any businesses to drive under.

As I drove past the location I noticed lot of new shops being built in that stretch of road. This was in addition to the many new businesses which opened nearby already. The presence of Walmart attracted thousands of customers, per day, to a location that had previously been pretty dead. The net result was that dozens of new shops and businesses are thriving there.

As for the town that didn't want Walmart --- not particularly attractive. I had some tire work one there and had an hour to spare and wandered around. Sure I spent some money there. I had a very mediocre lunch and bought some videos at 50 cents each at a thrift shop. There were lots o thrift shops but I've notice they tend to crop up in areas where business is dying. And the town itself is in very deep financial trouble.

No doubt Walmart will be blamed for the problems of the town. where they were not welcomed, and get no credit for the dozens of businesses created in their shadow. This doesn't mean I like everything Walmart does. I don't. Nor does it mean I like everything they sell. But compare Walmart to government.

Walmart has never been able to sell me a product that I didn't want. Government constantly forces me to pay for goods and services that I don't want. When Walmart gets my money it does so because I voluntarily pay them for something I value more than the cost. Government, on the other hand, has entire agencies of armed goons whose job is to make sure you pay over the money they demand. If I don't give Walmart my business they can't do anything about it. If I refuse to give government my money they send me threatening letters followed up by use of force. If I still resist they take my property, kidnap me, and hold me in shackles as an example to everyone else.

Even when government provides services that I might want, such as education, garbage collection, policing, they tend to do so at vastly inflated prices. Sure they sometimes hide the true cost by charging me less than the actual cost but they get the rest, and then some, via coercive taxation.

When I go to Walmart it is to buy things that I want or need. I'm happy when I can get a pair of jeans for $12. When I leave Walmart I have more money in my pocket than I would have, had I shopped someplace else. Walmart tends to put money in my pocket while government pretty much just takes it out. If Walmart has products I don't want, and they do, then I don't buy them. If government has services I don't want they make me pay for them anyway.

If I get really irrate with Walmart I can shop elsewhere. If I don't like their prices on clothes I can go to Target, or Macy's or Sears, etc. If I don't like the Department of Motor Vehicles, tough luck for me. I don't have a choice. If I don't like the way first class mail is delivered it is illegal for me to send a letter any other way.

Walmart expands my choices. Government restricts them. Walmart helps me save money. Government takes my money. Walmart can only sell me what I want. Government makes me buy what I don't want. Walmart has to offer me good prices, government pretty much charges anything they want.

I have freedom to maximize my well-being when it comes to Walmart. I have no such freedom when it comes to government. Even if I were to vote in every election my vote wouldn't change a damn thing. Every election would turn out just the same way. But I don't have to persuade the majority of Walmart shoppers in order to get the goods or services I want. I do have to persuade the majority of voters to give me the kind of government I want.

Every time I've been to Walmart the baskets of goods that I left with was different from the basket of goods that other shoppers left with. When I leave the voting booth I get the same government that everyone else gets.

And finally, whatever bad things you think Walmart has done they have never bombed anyone, never tortured anyone, and never executed anyone. The might use advertising but they don't use waterboarding. When I walk into their premises they greet me and welcome me. When I visit government premises I'm searched, identified and generally treated like a criminal. All in all I prefer Walmart.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Thursday, July 24, 2008


That the problem with Africa is Africans and that aid won't cure it is a truth that almost everyone skates around. One compassionate Irish columnist has finally had enough of the prevarications, however, and has spoken out. Below in chonological order are three of his articles so far on the subject. H/T Hibernia Girl

Africa is giving nothing to anyone -- apart from AIDS

By Kevin Myers

No. It will not do. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilisation in Zimbabwe, the begging bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us, yet again. It is nearly 25 years since Ethiopia's (and Bob Geldof's) famous Feed The World campaign, and in that time Ethiopia's population has grown from 33.5 million to 78 million today.

So why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none. To be sure, there are two things saying that logic doesn't count. One is my conscience, and the other is the picture, yet again, of another wide-eyed child, yet again, gazing, yet again, at the camera, which yet again, captures the tragedy of . . . Sorry. My conscience has toured this territory on foot and financially. Unlike most of you, I have been to Ethiopia; like most of you, I have stumped up the loot to charities to stop starvation there. The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty, siring children whenever the whim takes him.

There is, no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system; but I do not know what it is. There is, on the other hand, every reason not to write a column like this. It will win no friends, and will provoke the self-righteous wrath of, well, the self-righteous, letter-writing wrathful, a species which never fails to contaminate almost every debate in Irish life with its sneers and its moral superiority. It will also probably enrage some of the finest men in Irish life, like John O'Shea, of Goal; and the Finucane brothers, men whom I admire enormously. So be it.

But, please, please, you self-righteously wrathful, spare me mention of our own Famine, with this or that lazy analogy. There is no comparison. Within 20 years of the Famine, the Irish population was down by 30pc. Over the equivalent period, thanks to western food, the Mercedes 10-wheel truck and the Lockheed Hercules, Ethiopia's has more than doubled.

Alas, that wretched country is not alone in its madness. Somewhere, over the rainbow, lies Somalia, another fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts. Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually hyperactive indigents, with tens of millions of people who only survive because of help from the outside world.

This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense. Indeed, voodoo idiocy seems to be in the ascendant, with the next president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against infection. Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera.

Broad brush-strokes, to be sure. But broad brush-strokes are often the way that history paints its gaudier, if more decisive, chapters. Japan, China, Russia, Korea, Poland, Germany, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 20th century have endured worse broad brush-strokes than almost any part of Africa. They are now -- one way or another -- virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.

Meanwhile, Africa's peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation. By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million: The equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley.

So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country? How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity. But that is not good enough.

For self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed. It prolonged the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by nearly a decade. It is inspiring Bill Gates' programme to rid the continent of malaria, when, in the almost complete absence of personal self-discipline, that disease is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating. If his programme is successful, tens of millions of children who would otherwise have died in infancy will survive to adulthood, he boasts. Oh good: then what?I know. Let them all come here. Yes, that's an idea.


Writing what I should have written so many years ago

By Kevin Myers

Last Thursday week, with famine approaching yet again, I wondered about the wisdom of forking out yet more aid to Ethiopia. Since the great famine of the mid-1980s, Ethiopia's population has soared from 33.5 million to 78 million. Now, I do not write civil service reports for the United Nations: I write a newspaper column, and I was deliberately strong in my use of language -- as indeed I had been when writing reports from Ethiopia at the height of that terrible Famine.

I was sure that my column would arouse some hostility: my concerns were intensified when I saw the headline: "Africa has given the world nothing but AIDS." Which was not quite what I said -- the missing "almost" goes a long way; and anyway, my article was about aid, not AIDS. Since dear old Ireland can often enough resemble Lynch Mob Central on PC issues, I braced myself for the worst: and sure enough, in poured the emails. Three hundred on the first day, soon reaching over 800: but, amazingly, 90pc+ were in my support, and mostly from baffled, decent and worried people. The minority who attacked me were risibly predictable, expressing themselves with a vindictive and uninquiring moral superiority. (Why do so many of those who purport to love mankind actually hate people so?)

We did more in Ethiopia a quarter of a century ago than just rescue children from terrible death through starvation: we also saved an evil, misogynistic and dysfunctional social system. Presuming that half the existing population (say, 17 million) of the mid 1980s is now dead through non-famine causes, the total added population from that time is some 60 million, around half of them female.

That is, Ethiopia has effectively gained the entire population of the United Kingdom since the famine. But at least 80pc of Ethiopian girls are circumcised, meaning that no less than 24 million girls suffered this fate, usually without anaesthetics or antiseptic. The UN estimates that 12pc of girls die through septicaemia, spinal convulsions, trauma and blood-loss after circumcision which probably means that around three million little Ethiopian girls have been butchered since the famine -- roughly the same as the number of Jewish women who died in the Holocaust.

So what is the moral justification for saving a baby from death through hunger, in order to give her an even more agonising, almost sacrificial, death aged eight or 13? The practice could have been stamped out, with sufficient political will, as sutti in India once was. And the feminists of the west would never have allowed such unconditional aid to be given to such a wicked and brutal society if it had been run by white men.

But, instead, the state was run by black males, for whom a special race-and-gender dispensation apparently applies: thus the two most politically incorrect sins of our age -- sexism and racism -- by some mysterious moral process, akin to the mathematics of the double-negative, annul one another, and produce an unquestioned positive virtue, called Ethiopia.

I am not innocent in all this. The people of Ireland remained in ignorance of the reality of Africa because of cowardly journalists like me. When I went to Ethiopia just over 20 years ago, I saw many things I never reported -- such as the menacing effect of gangs of young men with Kalashnikovs everywhere, while women did all the work.

In the very middle of starvation and death, men spent their time drinking the local hooch in the boonabate shebeens. Alongside the boonabates were shanty-brothels, to which drinkers would casually repair, to briefly relieve themselves in the scarred orifice of some wretched prostitute (whom God preserve and protect). I saw all this and did not report it, nor the anger of the Irish aid workers at the sexual incontinence and fecklessness of Ethiopian men. Why? Because I wanted to write much-acclaimed, tear-jerkingly purple prose about wide-eyed, fly-infested children -- not cold, unpopular and even "racist" accusations about African male culpability.

Am I able to rebut good and honourable people like John O'Shea, who are now warning us that once again, we must feed the starving Ethiopian children? No, of course I'm not. But I am lost in awe at the dreadful options open to us. This is the greatest moral quandary facing the world. We cannot allow the starving children of Ethiopia to die. Yet the wide-eyed children of 1984-86, who were saved by western medicines and foodstuffs, helped begin the greatest population explosion in human history, which will bring Ethiopia's population to 170 million by 2050. By that time, Nigeria's population will be 340 million, (up from just 19 million in 1930). The same is true over much of Africa.

Thus we are heading towards a demographic holocaust, with a potential premature loss of life far exceeding that of all the wars of the 20th Century. This terrible truth cannot be ignored.

But back in Ireland, there are sanctimonious ginger-groups, which yearn to prevent discussion, and even to imprison those of us who try, however imperfectly, to expose the truth about Africa. And of that saccharine, sickly shower, more tomorrow.


Is this the tolerance that our thought-police take pride in?

By Kevin Myers

On the one hand, I expected some uproar in Ireland over my piece about Ethiopia on July 10. But there really wasn't any. On the other, I didn't expect an attempt to jail me by a state-sponsored body. Yet Denise Charlton, of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, has urged An Garda Siochana to investigate me under a special law, by which I could be tried and imprisoned for two years without even the benefit of a jury.

Oh, Denise, Denise, you silly, silly little girl: have you nothing better to do with your time and talents than to try to get someone jailed for saying something you dislike? So there we are. The apparatchiks of the equality industry merely have to contemplate the sector of their psyche wherein their self-righteous emotions reside: and if these are sufficiently overwrought, they decide that a hate-crime has been committed.

Actually, I hate no-one. Personal, political and racial hatreds are the most corrosive and ruinous of all passions. Why, I don't even hate Robert Mugabe, or his chum, the former Ethiopian dictator, the lovely Mengistu, who is hiding out in Zimbabwe, or the Emperor Bokassa, or Idi Amin, and any of those fine fellows who have brought such lustre to the name of Africa.

And so, not hating, I certainly don't want anyone to hate anyone else either. However, I know and feel and applaud measured hostility, the guardian of our civilisation, and the father of our laws. Measured hostility is what puts the gunman behind bars: it drives the mugger from the street and the burglar from our homes.

It also protects freedom of speech from those who would steal it from us -- most particularly in Ireland of today, the quango thought-police of doctrinaire liberalism, and single-issue vigilantes in the media. This latter group is most conspicuous in Metro Eireann, the magazine of full-time, professional immigrants: that is, immigrants who write about immigration. Gosh: what interesting and varied lives you people lead! METRO e-mailed me the following questions.
"1. Do you agree with the charges levelled against you by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (namely that the article can be seen as inspiring racial hatred?) Why/why not?

"2. Do you agree that your article could be misunderstood in some quarters? If so then what is the main idea of it and what was it really trying to say?

"3. Do you agree that some of the statements you made could be offensive to people from Africa who live in Ireland? Did you think about them when writing the piece?

"4. It's definately (sic) not the first time that your writing offended somebody. Can you recall any other instances/ official complaints/death threats etc that you got from, say, the Irish republicans?

"That is all. It would be great if you could answer these questions or give your comment in any way you wish. I just want to add that there are a lot of Africans associated with Metro Eireann and they're all very offended. So we'll have to run comments from the African community, aid groups etc and it would be really great to have your comment to balance all of that."
So, "a lot of Africans" are "all very offended", are they? All of them? The poor dears. Well, if the countries on whose behalf they get so easily offended are so bloody marvellous -- Sudan? Rwanda? Zimbabwe? Sierre Leone? Congo? Somalia? Eritrea? Etcetera? -- why aren't they enjoying themselves back home? Why are they here, working for a magazine which cheerfully invites me to incriminate myself before our new thought-police? Or which thinks that journalistic balance consists of Lots of Offended Africans of Metro, plus anyone else they can enlist, versus little old me? If the countries on whose behalf they get so easily offended are so marvellous -- Rwanda? Eritrea? Etcetera? -- why aren't they back home?

And in that contest, by God, I know the sword whereby I stand: the measured hostility that comes from a Tolerant, European Secular Christian Order, the very one that allows Metro people come from all over the world to work here, and ask me stupid questions, and even be offended. Its origins lie in the Christian ore of our history. It was forged in its present form in Europe's evil wars of the 20th century, where it was tempered in the Holocaust and shaped against the anvil of communism. TESCO stands for personal freedom, unlike the new authoritarian "liberalism" that neo-Leninist state functionaries are now making into an official political orthodoxy.

ONE of these orthodoxies is that Africa's woes are the legacy of "colonialism". But Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia, and far older than any European state) was never colonised. However, it was conquered by the Italians in 1936, and liberated in 1941 by a British army led by General Sir Allan Cunningham: a Dubliner, after whom a road in Addis Ababa is still named. This final titbit comes from one of a half-dozen Ethiopians who e-mailed me, supporting my attempts to broaden the discussion about Africa away from the grotesque pieties of simple victimhood.

Accepting criticism of one's own country, and from a foreigner like me, is not easy: so thank you, Oh gentlemen of Ethiopia, for truly embodying the principles of TESCO. Metro, please copy.


British welfare reform coming?

Two of the benefit payments that underpin Britain's welfare state are to be abolished as part of a streamlined system that will remove the option of "a life on benefits", the Government said yesterday. People who are out of work for more than two years, and those caught abusing the system, will be forced to work. Incapacity benefit and income support will disappear.

Other moves to tighten the system include people having to work for six months, rather than four weeks, before they can claim benefits, and those unemployed for more than two years having to take part in a full-time activity such as community work. The unemployed will be required to take advice and learn new skills to carry on claiming, and drug users will have to seek treatment or face losing their benefits under the plans announced by James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary.

The extension of the qualifying period from four weeks to six months for those claiming benefits is aimed at those coming into Britain from the EU and Eastern Europe, it emerged. Immigrants will be told that they cannot claim incapacity benefit - which will soon become a new employment and support allowance - until they have worked for six months. Mr Purnell's Green Paper on welfare reform said: "This reform will help to ensure that access to the UK benefits system for workers from other countries, including nationals from other European Economic Area states, is limited to those who have a connection with, and have made a contribution to, the UK." Ministers want to address Britain's reputation as a soft touch for claimants.

The package has provoked a negative response from some Labour MPs, but the Conservatives - who claim that Mr Purnell was taking many of their ideas - promised to support it. Mr Purnell said he wanted to end the idea there was a choice between claiming and working. "Instead, the longer people claim, the more we will expect in return," he said.

Under the proposals, claimants will be required to intensify their search for a job and comply with a back-to-work action plan. After a year, an outside provider, possibly from the private or voluntary sector, will take over and be paid by results. Claimants will be required to work for their benefits for at least four weeks, or longer if the provider requires it.

Incapacity benefits will be scrapped by 2013 and income support will also be dropped to make way for a system based on two working-age benefits - the employment and support allowance (ESA), for those who have a medical condition that prevents them from working, and jobseeker's allowance (JSA) for those who are able to work.

Mr Purnell said the paper proposed a simpler system that rewarded responsibility, encouraged people to do the right thing and stopped people being written-off on benefits for life without any hope of getting the support they needed to get back to work. "We will help people find work, but they will be expected to take a job," he added. Everyone currently on incapacity benefit, and new claimants, will undergo a more rigorous medical assessment than at present. Doctors will be asked to make clear when the individual should be fit for work and people will be reassessed at that point.

People with severe disabilities will get more cash under ESA. Others, who may qualify initially for benefits but whose condition may improve, will be placed in a "work" category. They will then receive personalised back-to-work support. It will be made clear to this group that the ESA is a temporary benefit intended to help them return to work. Ministers also announced that child maintenance payments will not be taken into account when calculating how much out-of-work benefits a parent should get.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

UN Committee Pushes Abortion on Slovakia, Lithuania, Northern Ireland

At the most recent session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) meetings in New York, committee members pressed countries on abortion in the guise of talking about maternal mortality, family planning and contraceptive prevalence. Lithuania, Nigeria, Finland, the United Kingdom and Slovakia were all questioned on their abortion laws during their reviews by the committee.

While abortion is not mentioned in the treaty, in recent years the CEDAW Committee has questioned more than 60 nations on their abortion legislation. The committee has even gone so far as to create their own "general recommendation" that reads abortion into the text, even though the nations that negotiated the treaty made sure the controversial issue was never mentioned. Delegations often go along with the committees' line of questioning on abortion by providing data and answering queries on the subject during their reviews.

During Lithuania's review, committee members pressed the government delegation on access to contraception and on proposed legislation that seeks to defend prenatal life and would pose restrictions on access to abortion. Japanese committee member Yoko Hayashi stated that governmental restrictions on abortion "contradict the full enjoyment of women's reproductive health rights that are protected by CEDAW." The CEDAW document is, however, silent on "reproductive health rights."

The United Kingdom was similarly taken to task by the CEDAW committee because of concerns over access to abortion in Northern Ireland. In response to committee queries over whether there was a possibility of changing the abortion legislation, the Irish representative responded that abortion was a matter of criminal law and that no change in legislation could occur in Northern Ireland without consent from all parties.

One committee member fired back that the government was not adequately addressing the abortion issue and that not taking action on the matter is "incompatible with obligations under the CEDAW convention."

Sylvia Pimentel of Brazil took exception to Slovakia's concordat with the Holy See, particularly on the right of health care workers to conscientiously object to performing or aiding in abortion. Pimentel claimed that it is "discriminatory to refuse to legally provide reproductive health services to women" and that CEDAW state parties "must refrain from obstructing women from pursuing their health goals."

While the rulings of the Committee are technically non-binding, abortion activists have brought litigation throughout the world citing CEDAW Committee rulings in support of overturning laws against abortion. Such arguments helped convince the Colombian constitutional court to liberalize that country's restrictions on the practice.

Under the topic of non-discrimination, CEDAW committee members questioned states on homosexual rights issues. During Finland's review, committee members questioned legislation that prevented lesbian adoption. Slovakia was questioned on medically assisted reproduction and "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" against lesbian women who wanted to undergo the procedure.

At the end of the month, official representatives of States parties to CEDAW are scheduled to elect 11 members of the Committee that will serve from January 2009 to December 2012. The CEDAW Committee will next meet again in Geneva in October to review the reports from Bahrain, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mongolia, Myanmar, Portugal, Slovenia and Uruguay.


The AP's New Man on the 'Race and Ethnicity' Beat

The Associated Press just announced an important change in a high-profile news beat that's overseen by its national desk -- a beat called "race and ethnicity." AP's editors, perhaps sensing a racially charged presidential election at hand, picked a writer from 449 candidates they'd been considering for their new "race and ethnicity" writer. And last week, they named the lucky writer, a long-time AP staffer named Jesse Washington. Previously, the 39-year-old journalist was the "entertainment editor" at America's most influential news outlet, the source from which most Americans get their news from outside the areas covered by their local newspapers and TV and radio stations.

Earlier in his career, Washington was an editor at two prominent hip-hop magazines. And recently, he published his first novel: "Black Will Shoot," which is about America's hip-hop culture. Its cover jacket calls it a "compelling look at the most impactful (sic) and influential cultural movements of the past thirty years."

For AP's editors, the race and ethnicity beat is obviously important. An opening on the beat occurred due to the resignation of AP writer Erin Texeira. Interestingly, the AP gave no reason for her resignation. Among the headlines of some of her memorable stories: "Duke Rape Scandal Reopens Old Wounds For Black Women"; "Slavery Reparations Gaining Momentum" and "Black Men Fight Negative Stereotypes Daily."

So what does the AP's "race and ethnicity" beat mean for the type of news coverage Americans can expect? In the good old days of American journalism, reporting beats had pretty mundane names: police, city government, national politics, etc. But in the post-modern journalism world, beats like "race and ethnicity" have become popular. And in a sense, they often feed the perception -- the false perception -- that America's race relations are in the dire state that's usually portrayed in the mainstream media's stories.

How come? First, consider the very first bias that invariably creeps into a news story: It's that reporters and editors even choose to write a story about something; and in the case of a news beat, they have to produce stories on a particular issue on a regular basis. By itself, the decision to create a news beat says a lot; for it defines a particular subject as being an issue -- one worthy of news space and air time. And a news beat also places a certain onus on reporters and editors.

Those covering "race and ethnicity" beats, for instance, are expected to flesh out the basic elements of a story. And the very best stories, of course, invariably revolve around conflict and controversy. But what if no obvious conflict or controversy exist? Well, for clever reporters entertaining a certain worldview, it's usually easy to come up with something.

A beautiful sunset over an orderly middle-class suburb in Chicago or Los Angeles is not necessarily what it seems: It's merely the calm before a Perfect Storm of racial grievances. Basically, that's what's often going on at places like the AP and New York Times in respect to its ongoing and obsessive coverage of "race and ethnicity" in America.

And so then, the "news beats" created by editors say much about what those editors think is important, reflects the potential conflicts they believe are festering all around them. According to his memo on Washington's promotion, published at trade magazine Editor & Publisher, AP's manging editor of U.S. news, Mike Oreskes wrote:
Few subjects permeate every corner of American life more fully than issues of race and ethnicity. So, few assignments have more potential to expand our understanding of America than writing about race and ethnicity. That is why we have conducted an extensive search for a new national writer to cover this important and complex territory. That search, ably led by John Affleck, brought in 449 applicants. There were many strong candidates.

It turned out the top choice-and a very exciting one-was right here at home. I am very pleased to announce that our new national writer on race and ethnicity will be Jesse Washington, currently the AP's Entertainment Editor.
Does race in fact "permeate every corner of American life" as Oreskes claims? There is good reason to believe that it does not, at least not in the way Oreskes and his AP colleagues think it does. And certainly not in the way Barack and Michelle Obama may say or imply. And definitely not the way that's described by Obama's former hate-filled minister and spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright, who recently resigned as pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ.

Put aside these issues for a moment, however, to consider some things about the AP's new "race and ethnicity" writer. No doubt, Jesse Washington was thanking his lucky stars upon hearing of his promotion. In recent months, after all, thousands of editors and reporters have lost their jobs as the newspaper industry has suffered its worst-ever downsizing bloodbath. Even top people at the New York Times and Washington Post are being shown the door.

Yet Washington, rather than considering himself a lucky insider, considers himself an outsider, at least if Oreskes' memo is anything to go by. The memo not only calls attention to Washington's considerable achievements, it portrays him as something of a scrappy contender - and even a victim. According to Oreskes' memo:
Jesse brings to this new assignment more than just a resume of achievements. He has lived the subject of race and ethnicity every day of his 39 years. Son of an interracial marriage, Jesse is, as he puts it, "a kid from the projects who went to Yale and married a doctor. I'm a person who fits in everywhere and nowhere." He and his wife live in suburban Philadelphia with their four children.
Given the AP's evident preoccupation with race and ethnicity, it's interesting that Oreskes' memo makes no mention of Washington's own racial or ethnic background; but a photo of him posted with the AP's online news release reveals what is all but obvious: he appears black.

But perhaps the failure of Oreskes' memo to mention Washington's race is consistent with some of the AP's news coverage. Recent AP articles about gang violence in the nation's inner cities, Chicago in particular, made absolutely no mention of the racial or ethnic background of the young thugs rampaging through city streets with high-powered weapons. It took a little Googling to learn that Chicago's gangbangers are part of the city's dysfunctional black culture.

Washington himself has been guilty of such oversights during the early part of his AP career in the mid-1990s. Writing in October, 1993, about Detroit's annual "Devil's Night" -- an arson spree occurring on Halloween -- Washington made no mention of the ethnic or racial backgrounds of the young thugs torching vacant buildings during a night of mayhem that "added insult to the city's already injured reputation." ("Detroit Hopes to Stifle Devil's Night Fires Again," AP, Oct. 1992.) Then again, maybe the story Washington submitted did mention such things, only to have them deleted by a politically correct AP editor.

According to a check of Factiva, the news archive, Washington wrote a variety of stories while assigned to the AP's national desk in the 1990s, the kinds of stories one might expect on the national beat -- crime, political scandals, etc. But he returned repeatedly to stories about race. And invariably, the stories on race that really "moved" on the wires (get picked up by lots of newspapers across the country), involved those that highlighted an earlier period of racism in America's history.

Washington wrote one such story in mid-July of 1991: "White schoolmarm challenged New England's anti-black stance." Reporting from Canterbury, Conn., he began:
When a strong-willed white schoolteacher in 1833 opened New England's first academy for black girls, she was tormented by her neighbors, made an outlaw by the state Legislature and even jailed. Today, the clapboard house where Prudence Crandall operated her boarding school is a museum, a monument to one woman's courage and a reminder of a troubling episode in Connecticut history.
Americans, of course, ought to reconsider their history and look back on their past. But in the post-modern journalism world, the approach to news coverage that does that inevitably has a cynical tone -- the equivalent of repeatedly tearing a scab off an old wound. And invariably, progress in the nation's race relations is never noted; it never stresses what America has accomplished, thanks to Americans of all colors working together. Instead, news stories are invariably about white Americans have done to black Americans; no matter if most white Americans today display little if any racial animus, an issue that Linda Chavez recently highlighted in a perceptive and lengthy piece in the magazine Commentary.....

More here

The financial irresponsibility of the British Left

Billions wasted

For an economic historian brought up in Kirkcaldy, Gordon Brown seems remarkably indifferent to the writings of that town's greatest son, Adam Smith: "It is the highest impertinence and presumption in ministers to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense," Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations. "They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society." In his wildest dreams, Smith could not have imagined just how spendthrift they could be. UK public sector net borrowing for the first three months of the financial year was at $48.8 billion, the highest quarterly since records began in 1946.

When a country, like a household, is in financial difficulties, it has two options: to increase income or cut spending. Labour has decided to do the former by simply borrowing the money, which will make the necessary correction worse when it comes in the form of higher taxes (though presumably they think that will be the Tories' problem, a sort of economic scorched earth policy). What Labour is incapable of is the other option: cutting the spending - not just by paring back programmes that add nothing to the wealth of the nation, but by eradicating the mind-boggling waste.

It went almost unnoticed last week when the National Audit Office refused to sign off the annual accounts of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) because of massive losses on the tax credit scheme. These amounted last year to overpayments and fraudulent claims of about $3 billion. We have come to a pretty pass where a loss of $3 billion and the admonishment of the public auditor can be virtually shrugged off. Have we become so inured to waste on such a colossal scale that we no longer care? Or are the numbers too big for us to grasp? Add to that $3 billion the $8 billion bill the taxpayer may now have to pick up as a result of the inquiry into the shambles at Equitable Life.

Much of the blame for the shortfall in the funds of policyholders can be laid at the door of the society's board for running an over-generous, and ultimately unpayable, annuities scheme over many years. But Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, was emphatic in her view that culpability could also be attached to the Government for its failure to regulate the company properly, not least when it was aware of what was happening in the late 1990s. At the time, the individual in overall charge of the regulatory system, indeed, the person who had established a new one under the auspices of the Financial Services Authority, was our old friend from Kirkcaldy (Mr Brown, not Mr Smith).

If we are generous, and say that one quarter of the eventual bill to compensate Equitable Life losers can be attributed to the regulatory failures on Mr Brown's watch, that's another $2 billion in the waste column. So, in one week, $5 billion went west. That is a sum equivalent to the fall in tax receipts over the first three months of this year. Over the same quarter, spending rose by $17.6 billion.

The tax credits losses for last year, however, are a drop in the bucket compared to the accumulated additional costs of the system, caused by poor political direction, shoddy administration and failed computer systems. The grand total wasted in overpayments, underpayments or fraud is at least $20 billion since they were introduced in 2003, again by the Kirkcaldy maestro. They were meant to subsidise poorly paid work through the tax system, remove the stigma of benefits, and make work pay. Yet within months of their introduction, they were the subject of more complaints to MPs, the Inland Revenue, the Ombudsman and citizens' advice centres than any public policy in history.

Years later and the system is still in chaos. The Parliamentary Ombudsman and Citizens Advice Bureaux continue to report an inundation of complaints. Though it was Gordon Brown's personal creation, he appears to have emerged remarkably unscathed from the botched implementation and the incessant, almost compulsive, tinkering.

Frank Field, the former welfare reform minister, once compiled a list of changes to the system made by the Kirkcaldy wizard: over a four-year period from 1999, the Government abolished family credit, introduced working families' tax credit, introduced the disabled person's tax credit, introduced a childcare tax credit, introduced an employment credit, abolished the married couple's tax allowance, introduced the children's tax credit, introduced a baby tax credit, abolished the working families' tax credit, abolished the disabled person's tax credit, abolished the children's tax credit, abolished the baby tax credit, introduced a child tax credit, abolished the employment credit and introduced a working tax credit. As Mr Field said: "It was like gardeners going round pulling up their plants all the time to see whether the roots are still there."

Last week, after the NAO refused to sign off the Inland Revenue accounts, ministers said the system was undergoing "teething problems". What? After five years? In any case, why take money off people to use to administer a system that gives them the money back; why not give them tax cuts to start with?

Given that the implementation of the policy was such a shambles, and payments were so erratic, that many of our poorest people were reduced to misery, how can it be considered anything other than a disaster?

Here was a classic example of an attempt by Whitehall to make things better that simply made them worse. It combined the micro-managerial, social engineering obsession of Gordon Brown with an ineffective IT system and conspired to cause hardship that was not there before. The scale of official error was completely unacceptable, yet nobody took the rap.

I don't know about you, but I am getting heartily sick seeing my hard-earned cash squandered on an almost daily basis without anyone responsible actually feeling any pain at all. It's time somebody did, and I think we all know who. A reckoning is due.


Is African-America Awakening?

By Myron Magnet

The conversation about race that Barack Obama says America needs is already in full swing--and it is a conversation among blacks. Its spark was a speech that TV star Bill Cosby gave at the NAACP in 2004. In books and articles, on talk shows and in town meetings, at barbecues and barber shops, African-Americans have been arguing over his words ever since. Their impassioned discussion is the most hopeful development in race relations in years.

With a 50 percent high school dropout rate and a 70 percent illegitimacy rate, with African-Americans committing half the nation's murders though only 13 percent of the population, black America--especially the poorer part of it--is in trouble. "We cannot blame white people," Cosby asserted in his incendiary speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board school desegregation decision. "It's not what they're doing to us. It's what we're not doing." As Jesse Jackson used to say, Cosby recalls, "No one can save us from us but us."

Sure, racism hasn't vanished, Cosby acknowledges in his 2007 book Come On People, a follow-up to his speech written with Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint. "But for all the talk of systemic racism and governmental screw-ups, we must look at ourselves and understand our own responsibility." Even with lingering discrimination, "there are more doors of opportunity open for black people today than ever before in the history of America," and "these doors are tall enough and wide enough" for just about all black people "to walk through with their heads held high." So while "there are forces that make the effort to escape poverty difficult," African-Americans are by no means merely the playthings of vast forces and helpless victims of racism. "When people tell you, 'You can't get up, you're a victim,' " Cosby warns, "that's when you know it is the devil you're hearing."

Why do so many blacks, especially men, find it so hard to grasp the opportunity that is theirs for the taking? Why are "so many of our black youth squandering their freedom?" Cosby and Poussaint's answer is that the social structure and culture of poor black neighborhoods distort the psychology of the children who grow up there, often shackling them in "psychological slavery." The authors zero in on the permanently destructive effects of fractured families and slapdash child rearing--much more slapdash than middle-class parents, with their years spent nurturing, encouraging, and cajoling their children, could easily imagine. "In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on," Cosby told the NAACP. "You have the pile-up of these sweet beautiful things born by nature--raised by no one."

Certainly their fathers aren't raising them. That 70 percent illegitimacy rate, troubling in itself, isn't evenly distributed but is concentrated in poor neighborhoods, where it soars above 85 percent and can approach 100 percent. "A house without a father is a challenge," Cosby and Poussaint write. "A neighborhood without fathers is a catastrophe." That's because mothers "have difficulty showing a son how to be a man," a truly toxic problem when there are no father figures around to show boys how to channel their natural aggressiveness in constructive ways. Worse still, the authors muse, "We wonder if much of these kids' rage was born when their fathers abandoned them."

To come into the world already abandoned by your father is damaging enough, but Come On People teems with children abandoned by their mothers as well. Many end up among America's half-million foster children, two-thirds of whom--more than 300,000 abused or cast-off souls--are black. We meet a Kentuckian born in a housing project and taken away from her jailed, drug-addicted mother at the age of six. After a string of foster homes and group facilities, she began doing "drugs, alcohol, shoplifting, gangbanging, hustling. I was in and out of jail," she says. "I was angry. I would fight at the drop of a dime." We hear of an eight-year-old smash-and-grab burglar abandoned even more abruptly. A cop tells the authors about catching him. The boy wouldn't say one word, beyond the address of his housing-project home. The officer drove the boy there, followed him into his apartment, and saw his mother on the sofa. The boy finally spoke. "She's dead, ain't she?" And she! was, with the needle that killed her lying on the floor. The boy calmly ate a bowl of cereal as he watched the cop deal with the body.

We hear of children abandoned emotionally if not literally. Another cop tells of a seven-year-old he picked up for bashing out car windows. "I'm very good at making these kids cry," the cop said. "But this one, I couldn't touch him." He drove the kid home to what looked like a shack. The boy opened the door, and there was his mother on a mattress on the floor, having sex. The boy walked past the couple "and sealed himself off behind a curtain." The man fled; the mother signed the form the cop held out to her, "pulled the covers over her head, and left her son standing mutely behind the curtain."

These are the extreme cases, but even among normal poor black single-parent families Cosby and Poussaint find child-rearing patterns that prime kids for failure. Since the authors believe that too many black adults "are giving up their main responsibility to look after their children," they make a portion of their book a child-raising handbook--an inner-city Dr. Spock--whose sound, simply stated advice makes clear what they think is going wrong in numerous ghetto families. Their optimistic, encouraging precepts, in spite of themselves, lift the curtain on a world of heartrending childhood sorrow and suffering, which ordinarily no one comes to help or comfort, and which leaves scars that never heal.

Above all, they counsel, spare the rod. "Many black parents use physical punishment--not just spanking, but also hitting, slapping, and beating kids with objects," they report. Indeed, "many black parents have told us that physical punishment is part of black culture." But, Cosby and Poussaint warn, "when they beat their kids they are sending a message that it is okay to use violence to resolve conflicts," rather than helping them develop self-control and a sense of right and wrong. Too often, physical punishment turns into child abuse; too often, parents (or caregivers, especially the mother's boyfriend) "beat their kids, not to discipline them, but to exorcise their own demons. . . . They take their anger out on the child," who "serves as a 'whupping' object for peevish adults. . . . These beatings often produce angry children who treat others as violently as they have been treated." The prisons are bursting with grown-up abused children.

In addition to physical abuse, Cosby and Poussaint observe, we've all cringed at hearing inner-city mothers abusing kids verbally as well, making them feel worthless and unwanted. "Words like 'You're stupid,' 'You're an idiot,' 'I'm sorry you were born,' or 'You'll never amount to anything' can stick a dagger in a child's heart." Single mothers angry with men, whether their current boyfriends or their children's fathers, regularly transfer their rage to their sons, since they're afraid to take it out on the adult males. "If they hear their mom say, 'Black men ain't worth s---,' the boys wonder whether that includes them. When their moms yell, 'You're no good, just like your father!' all the doubt goes away." When such racially tinged verbal abuse takes the form of " 'Nigger, I'll kick your f------ black a--,' " the child ends up ashamed of being black, as well--a danger anyway in a society where rumors of black inferiority still echo, if more faintly.

One of black America's most disabling problems, Cosby and Poussaint think, is this wounded anger--of children toward parents, women toward men, men toward their mothers and women in general. Some try self-sedation, whether by "wallowing in sedated victimhood," by music "loud enough to wake the dead," by "a lover or some crack or, if nothing else, a bag of burgers." Another way that "black men have tried to maintain their dignity and to keep control of their anger is by being 'cool.' . . . Many who feel abandoned by a parent protect themselves from being hurt by putting on a cool detachment." Trouble is, beyond becoming emotionally frigid, they too easily lose their cool and explode in violence. Still, their effort is better than the hotheadedness of today's young black gangstas, as touchy and ready to duel to the death as the Three Musketeers. "He dissed me so I shot him" is now a common ghetto refrain, Cosby and Poussaint report. Hence African-Americans account for 44 pe! rcent of U.S. prisoners; six out of ten black high school dropouts have been in prison before they hit the age of 40; and what Cosby and Poussaint call "a culture of imprisonment devastates black families and communities."

We are celebrating a great civil rights victory, Cosby told the NAACP. People actually present in the audience "marched and were hit in the face with rocks" so that black kids could get a decent education. But now? "What the hell good is Brown v. Board of Education if nobody wants it?" What did those brave marchers achieve if, 50 years later, half of African-American kids drop out of high school and can't speak standard English--especially since all it takes to get started in today's more open America is a high school diploma and the ability to impress potential bosses as articulate, polite, and dependable?

This failure, too, is largely a failure of parenting. Yes, ghetto schools are bad, Cosby and Poussaint acknowledge, and parents can't fix them. "But you can make the best use of what you have to get the best you can for your child," they advise. You can make sure he does his homework and pays attention in class. And much of what a kid learns he learns at home, after all--especially in his crucial first five years. "Talking and reading to infants and children help lay down the physical structures in the brain to develop skills in language," the authors point out.

But many ghetto moms aren't imparting the language and cognitive skills without which children can't succeed once they get to school. "Teachers report that in poor neighborhoods children often begin school not knowing their colors or the letters of the alphabet," Cosby and Poussaint write. "Some have limited vocabularies and little knowledge of numbers. Some don't even know that sheep go 'Baaa.' " These deficits are hard to correct later on. Indeed, "sharp-eyed teachers can identify the children who will become high school dropouts the day they walk in the kindergarten door." The damage is already done.

Readers of Come On People and the thousands who waited for hours to hear Cosby press home his message in dozens of free town meetings nationwide will surely profit from his levelheaded advice. They, and thousands more like them, will talk to their kids (in standard English and in a tone that doesn't "sound like a prison guard"), listen to them, read to them, encourage them, discipline them with gentle firmness, limit their TV watching, and never give up on them. But these are the caring parents. The problem is the ones who don't care--who don't understand, as a California doctor tells Cosby, that "you have a choice as to whether to have children or not" and to "decide who gets to be your baby's daddy," and that once you've made that decision, "both of you are supposed to have something to do with that child for the rest of its life." The problem is the girls who view sex, in Cosby's terms, as "You see me. I see you. You want it. . . . We're both hot. Now let's do i! t"--the girls who have "five or six different children--same woman, eight, ten different husbands or whatever."

What will become of all these "kids with different fathers," who "compete, often unequally, for whatever attention is going around," so that (as with the offspring of polygamous sheikhs) "there is bound to be bad blood"? What can we expect from families with "grandmother, mother, and great grandmother in the same room, raising children, and the child knows nothing about love or respect of any one of the three of them"? How much of the cultivation of civility and virtue, which makes strong families the building blocks of a strong society, can happen here? "When we see these boys walking around the neighborhood," say Cosby and Poussaint, "we imagine them thirty or forty years down the road wandering around just as aimlessly, and we want to cry." For they are lost.

Black conservatives have said such things for years, only to be unthinkingly ostracized as race traitors for breaking with orthodoxy. But no one could dismiss the lovable Cosby: African-Americans are proud of his success and admire his munificence to black charities. What's more, as Princeton prof and sometime rapper Cornel West put it, the TV star "is not in the right wing. He's not Clarence Thomas. He is not Ward Connerly." Nor could anyone dismiss National Public Radio's respected Juan Williams when he emphatically endorsed Cosby's views in a 2006 book, Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It. When a longtime liberal like Williams embraces these ideas, something important is changing in the black mainstream--despite racial arsonist Al Sharpton's effort to demonize Williams as "the black Ann Coulter."

It requires explanation that black leaders don't mob Cosby with support, Williams points out, because he is so obviously right. Of course today's African-Americans have full civil rights and ample opportunity. Look at how immigrants from far-flung Ethiopia and Nigeria--no less black--succeed in their new land of opportunity. Moreover, notes Williams, Cosby's views mirror those of the civil rights greats of old. Booker T. Washington similarly urged education and self-reliance and cautioned that "we should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities." W. E. B. Du Bois, despite differences with Washington, shared his "goal of black self-reliance." Martin Luther King "said he wanted above all else to get black people to shed the idea that they did not control their destiny." And from the moment of emancipation, "education was a radical tool of liberation for black people so recently enslaved and purposely denied the chance to learn." From the founding of ! the Tuskegee Institute to Thurgood Marshall's Brown v. Board victory to James Meredith bravely entering Ole Miss in 1962, the right to education was central to the civil rights movement. As for out-of-wedlock childbearing, married couples headed 78 percent of black families in 1950, compared with 34 percent today.

In the 1960s, this can-do worldview changed. A vast transformation of American culture combined with the black-power movement and the War on Poverty to brew a toxic new orthodoxy among black leaders, who remain stuck in that era to this day. "Very few new ideas are allowed into this stifling echo chamber," Williams reports. Despite startling African-American progress in the intervening half-century, "the official message from civil rights leaders remains the same. Black people are victims of the system, and the government needs to increase social spending. . . . Even the most dysfunctional and criminal behavior among black people is not to be criticized by black leaders" but must "be denied and hidden in the name of protecting the image of blacks as disadvantaged, oppressed, and perpetually victimized." Dissent, and you're an "Uncle Tom and a sellout."

That half-century of progress, though, makes it hard to profess the orthodoxy in good faith. Some, such as Barack Obama's ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright, whose "black liberation theology" is pure sixties black-power political radicalism preserved in amber, still spout it sincerely. But Williams's view of most of today's black leaders recalls Eric Hoffer's dictum that great causes often start out as movements but degenerate into rackets. Today's leaders have made lucrative careers out of preaching a crippling ideology that ensures that they will never run out of poor blacks to agitate for. As Cosby quipped in one of his town meetings, "There are people who want you to remain in a hole, and they rejoice in your hopelessness because they have jobs mismanaging you."

Williams presents a rogues' gallery of African-American leaders who harm the people they claim to serve by blinding them to the opportunity all around them and stoking resentments that serve as excuses for wrongdoing. Jesse Jackson, "the unofficial president of black America," takes pride of place, with Al Sharpton as runner-up. Williams "detects a smell of extortion" about them; their main business, he says, is "staging phony protest marches for money." What blacks has Jackson benefited, except for two of his sons, whom his pressure tactics helped win a multimillion-dollar beer distributorship? Sharpton, Williams thinks, is lower still: he took a campaign contribution from a GOP operative who aimed to weaken the Democrats by keeping so polarizing a figure in their 2004 presidential primary.

When black politicians actually have won power, their politics of victimhood has often proved a rationale for not even trying to help the black masses but rather for decrying the white racism that supposedly causes their plight. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, for instance, spewed charges of racism to block officials from reforming a dysfunctional (and now closed) Los Angeles hospital that had become a high-paying jobs program for some blacks but whose poor care was harming its many black patients. Mayors Sharpe James of Newark and Marion Barry of Washington, Williams says, "saw political opportunity in making themselves masters of large pools of black people dependent on state and federal poverty programs." The money flowed in, mayoral aides stole it and went to jail, the schools got worse, crime festered, and finally prosecutors nailed James himself for rigging the sale of city property to enrich his mistress. By contrast, Cory Booker, James's successor, is (so to speak) the Bill Cosby of urban governance, exemplifying the right way forward for African-American pols.

If black leaders really wanted to help the black poor, Williams argues, they'd combat the "cultural belief that being 'authentically black' does not allow for high quality intellectual engagement in school," as columnist Joseph H. Brown put it. They'd demand radical school reform, including vouchers. It's a hopeful sign, Williams thinks, that New York Times editorialist Brent Staples, normally part of black orthodoxy's amen choir, has declared that if the civil rights establishment doesn't push hard for real school reform, even if it "would discomfort the teachers among its supporters, . . . it will inevitably be viewed as having missed the most important civil rights battle of the last half-century."

If black leaders really wanted to help the black poor, they'd stop decrying "police brutality and the increasing number of black people in jail" and focus instead "on having black people take personal responsibility for the exorbitant amount of crime committed by black people against other black people" (which accounts for the exorbitant number of African-Americans in jail). But they don't. As Cosby pointed out to Williams, the NAACP has its headquarters in murder-ridden Baltimore, but "I've never once heard the NAACP say, 'Let's do something about this.' " Indeed, Williams notes, "they never marched or organized, or even criticized the criminals." Nor did they exhort poor black people to stop smoking crack.....

The debate raging throughout black America is the more historic because it is also raging within the soul of America's first black presidential nominee. Which Obama will prevail? The old-orthodoxy Obama, who sat for 20 years listening to Reverend Wright saying "God damn America" and claiming that the government purposely infected the ghetto with AIDS, who brought his daughters to hear him, and who named a book after one of his sermons? The Obama whose wife, in her grievances and resentments, her whine that America is "just downright mean," uncannily embodies the black bourgeois attitudes that Ellis Cose described 15 years ago as The Rage of a Privileged Class? Or will it be the Obama who will truly usher in the age of postracial politics, as he seemed to promise when he first emerged as so fresh and attractive a candidate? The Obama who marked Father's Day with a moving speech on black America's need for responsible fathers that Bill Cosby would cheer?

At the very least, his nomination, as he himself has said, shows how much progress black America has made. Let's hope the African-American majority will take the lesson to heart.

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Massive British surveillance plan is 'a step too far'

PLANS for a massive database snooping on the entire population of the UK have been condemned as a "step too far for the British way of life". The Government has proposed to record every phone call, email, text message, internet search and online purchase in the fight against terrorism and other serious crime. The privacy watchdog, Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, said the public's traditional freedoms were under serious threat from creeping state surveillance.

Apart from the Government's inability to hold data securely, he said the proposals raised "grave questions". "Do the risks we face provide justification for such a scheme in the first place? Do we want the state to have details of more and more aspects of our private lives?" he asked. "Whatever the benefits, would such a scheme amount to excessive surveillance? Would this be a step too far for the British way of life?"

It is thought the scheme would allow the police or MI5 to access the exact time when a phone call was made, the number dialled, the length of the call and, in the case of mobile phones, the location of the handset to within an accuracy of a few hundred yards. Similarly for emails, it would provide details of when they were sent and who the recipients were. Police recovering a suspect's computer would then be able to trawl through hard drive records and recover messages.

Mr Thomas's warnings were backed by privacy campaigners, who claimed such Big Brother powers would give government agencies unprecedented abilities to trawl through intimate details of ordinary people's private lives at will. He used the launch of his annual report to speak out after ministers signalled their intentions in their program of legislation earlier this year, describing the move as "modifying procedures for acquiring communications data".

There are fears the data may be shared with foreign governments - such as the Americans demanding personal details of air passengers - accessed by internet hackers or lost by bungling civil servants.


Reality of collateral damage

Below is an excerpt from the book "Running the War in Iraq" by Australian General Jim Molan

In counterinsurgency, the term collateral damage can prompt cynicism from the uninformed, who see it as military techno-speak sanitising the impact of war on ordinary people. Nothing could be further from the truth. For those who do not have the luxury of criticising without offering an alternative, the term collateral damage is practical and well understood. The process saves thousands of innocent lives: if the collateral damage estimate [CDE] was too high, we had the option of not striking the target.

(A CDE brought up the fundamental legal and moral considerations of proportionality, humanity, discrimination and necessity. The CDE told us the number of people likely to be killed in the strike. Specialists in Qatar and Florida produced a CDE for every target, based on many different factors.)

We did not employ the term to dehumanise what we were doing. In Iraq we were reminded of the consequences of our actions immediately: as we watched bombs hit, the computer screen, showing TV-like pictures brought down from an unmanned drone, would flare silently and the wind would slowly blow away dust clouds to reveal the wreckage.

Within an hour of the strike, some Arab network would broadcast pictures of the scene and assessments by so-called spokesmen in the local hospital, listing the number of women and children who had been "slaughtered by the crusaders". Of course the network commentary and the doctors did not criticise the terrorists or insurgents for holding their meetings in the midst of their own families or neighbours.

We did everything we could to avoid killing innocents. The coalition did not fight just for the sake of fighting. The coalition commander, US general George Casey, and his field commanders did not want to aggravate an already difficult situation, and their first guiding principle was often expressed as the old medical dictum: "First, do no harm."

There was a continual search for any approach that did not involve bombs and bullets. A bullet achieves its effect by transferring kinetic energy to a human body, something that does not go far in winning the heart or mind. In Iraq we searched for the non-kinetic approach: using anything rather than force, but it was not always possible. Examples of the non-kinetic were: buy weapons back from the population rather than conducting searches in homes that disrupt daily life and risk civilian casualties; rather than kill bomb emplacers, create employment to counter the insurgents who offer money to the unemployed to plant roadside bombs; use police rather than heavily armed soldiers to enforce the law; provide essential services to the people so they see some benefit from our occupation.

Nevertheless, when it comes to significant levels of combat, international law accepts that some innocents may be killed. As long as we apply considerations of proportionality, humanity, discrimination and necessity both legally and morally, the fault for the death of innocents lies with those who choose to wage war from the bosoms of their families. Even if I had a positive identification of a terrorist leader, I still did not have the right to just bomb him. I still had to consider proportionality, humanity, discrimination and necessity.

If our own morality and our own law are not enough to guide us, there is also self-interest. Every time we kill an innocent, we make more enemies for ourselves. Ironically, in the short term, this logic did not necessarily work against the insurgents, but in the longer term their illegality and brutality has started to earn them their share of enemies among the people of Iraq. The slaughter of innocents in the tens or hundreds of thousands is, to them, a tactic. They solve any resentment that may arise from their actions with more violence. They simply kill anyone that objects.

I do not accept that there is any moral equivalence between what I did and what our enemies did. I was acutely aware of the consequences of our actions. It is not necessarily the process that makes time-sensitive targeting difficult, although that is difficult enough. It is being able to make decisions when you know their consequences.

Once I'd received the CDE, the military necessity of striking the target had to be weighed against the number of innocent people who might die. I used a standard set of criteria. One was the knowledge that a terrorist car bomb might kill hundreds of innocents and one terrorist technician was capable of producing any number of these bombs. Each enemy cell could attack the Iraqi population once or twice a week. A member of the leadership is capable of instigating even greater carnage by co-ordinating subordinates who can then kill and maim.

The decision to strike was never taken lightly but it had to be taken quickly. If a terrorist meeting looked as though it was about to break up before the official CDE was ready, I had to estimate a CDE and recommend a strike (or not). I was accountable for that judgment. In fact, the targeting team would be negligent if it missed an important target by taking the safe route and waiting for the formal process every time. This decision about collateral damage is no different in law from the decision made by a lieutenant platoon commander crouched down on the side of a road calling for an air strike on a position from which the enemy is firing at him and his troops. I just did it in a much more comfortable place.

Once we'd ironed out the early problems, the CDE would usually arrive promptly, comparing the impacts of 227kg and 450kg bombs with other weapons for the target in question. Sometimes the facts did not line up nicely. Intelligence may not have been convincing or the CDE was uncomfortably high at the time the attack was proposed. If a target was in a residential area, then the CDE would be high at night. If possible, we would wait until daytime to strike it. But of course for certain types of transient targets, such as leadership meetings, delay might mean losing the targets for days, weeks, even months.

As a staff officer, my decision was not technically a decision but a recommendation to my boss, Casey. Executive authority remained with commanders. So I would make my recommendation, then ring Casey and put the case to him as I saw it, normally without the detail. He then made his decision, approving the strike or directing his own course of action. If necessary, he went up his chain of command. Rarely did Casey reject my recommendation, but it did happen. And on occasions I differed with the taskforce commander about whether to strike. There were also threats of bypassing me and going directly to Casey. Once or twice that did happen.

The terrorists and insurgents might have subscribed to the old saying that "There are no rules in a knife fight." But there are rules; they just did not obey them. In fact they institutionalised the transgression of international law. My feeling was that the media did not scrutinise our adversaries' actions as carefully as the coalition's. For any faults we may have had, the US-led coalition represented the rule of law. It was right that we were held accountable. But so should the other side. My quarrel with the media was that, on certain occasions, the insurgents seemed to have been given licence to fight the way they did because they were fighting the US and the coalition or resisting an occupation. But barbarity is barbarity, no matter who perpetrates it.

More here

Opting out of government

A paper in an Australian policy journal has proposed letting citizens choose their degree of relationship to the State in proportion to the degree to which they intend to be dependent on its assistance or guidance. Recalling Ronald Reagan's famus dictum that `The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help," ' the authors propose that people be free to choose either to declare their dependence on the state - in which case they may be told what to do - or opt to be relatively independent so that in most cases, the government would simply get out of their lives. The need is urgent, beause if something isn't done, an increasingly intrusive government will simply consume all available free energy.
Every day that the federal parliament sits in Canberra, another hundred pages of new laws get added to the statute book. . if regulations keep growing at this rate, it will take a thousand removal trucks to house all our laws by the end of the twenty-first century.
The sheer inexorable growth of the welfare state means that unless some means is found to stop its progression, it will, like the Blob, inevitably devour everything. "One hundred years ago, it took just over three weeks for Australians to produce all the wealth needed to pay for all the state and federal government services for a whole year. Today, this takes almost four months." What needs to happen before it takes taxpayers 12 months out of the year to pay for government, the authors argue, is to allow people who are willing to bear the risk to opt out of the nanny state.
The present slim volume . explores the idea that we might `turn off' the government when there is nothing useful for it to do. I hasten to add that I do not mean we should turn it off completely. There is plainly a need for government to organize foreign affairs, chase criminals, enforce contracts, and provide indivisible `public goods' that the rest of us need but would not organize for ourselves if we were left to our own devices. .

Some people really do need the government to provide them with an income, give them housing, medicate them when they fall ill, educate their children, and save money for them for when they grow old. . It is also true that some people need to be told what to do. Some people really do need the government to tell them-in minute detail-how to live their lives.

But the core premise of the essays that follow is that most people do not need all this support and guidance. Indeed, for the majority of Australians, the government now represents more of a hindrance than a help, and more of an irritant than a facilitator.
Most controversially the paper argues that those who voluntarily choose dependency should not have a full role in selecting the nation's government. "People who freely admit they cannot be trusted to run their own lives should presumably not be trusted to run other people's either. Dependent children have a right to be looked after, but they cannot claim the full range of freedoms that adults expect. Likewise, those who declare themselves incompetent to organise their own lives should not expect to exercise all the rights that autonomous and responsible citizens take for granted."
In their essay, Dubossarsky and Samild suggest the main advantage of withdrawing the vote from people who declare themselves dependent will be to strengthen democracy by weakening the politicians' ability to buy votes.
Disenfranchisement will not apply, of course, to those who are involuntarily dependent through accident or illness. Nevertheless the scheme will recall various historical multi-tier schemes of citizenship, such as the Roman, or the property qualifications for sufferage in the early American colonies. But before the Dubossarsky and Samild proposals are dismissed as retrograde, running contrary to the trend of universal sufferage, it's fair to observe that today's burgeoning welfare state is radically different from the minimalist governments of colonial America and may require a different political development. In a welfare state scenario the conflict of interest inherent in voters being able to elect those who would sign their welfare checks must be handled in some way.

The question is how. The other half of the argument is that "those who can" should be allowed to declare independence from government. And so, the argument goes, people who can paddle their own canoe should be able to opt for lower taxes in exchange for a smaller claim to government services. But there are two problems with this proposal: arithmetic and politics. How is welfare - which are transfer payments to those who have declared their dependence - going to be funded if independents are allowed to leave the system? Dependency only works if someone else is footing the bill. Voluntary dependents could conceivably simply hand over their entire paycheck to the state and live in a kind of communist enclave within an otherwise market economy, but it is doubtful that their economy would ever be self-supporting. Moreover, allowing independents to opt out implies that those who make more will pay less in taxes. At the extreme a billionaire might choose to pay the lowest tax of all, because he would be unlikely to need any government assistance except the indivisible public goods.

Is there any future for the "independents", those who wish to trade off a smaller claim on government benefits for less state interference? Given the arithmetic of welfare and politics what might actually happen is something less logically valid but more politically acceptable: independents may simply pay government more taxes in order to get off their back. In other words, they'll bribe the dependents to leave them alone. Here's the paper's vision of personal freedom.
Self-declared independent people would also still be subject to the laws of the land-but only those laws that stop them from harming others, and stop others from harming them. These are the laws that must bind everyone if we are to live in a civilised and peaceable society. As independent adults, however, Humphreys proposes that those who declare independence should no longer be subject to the paternalistic laws that politicians put in place to stop us harming ourselves. Declaring independence means you no longer want or need the government to pass laws to protect you from yourself. It means you are happy to take the risks and bear the consequences of your own, freely chosen actions.
In order to retrieve these freedoms, high income or risk taking individuals might simply pay to get their freedom back. In order to relieve government of liability and provide legal and political cover for their actions they may execute quit claims supported by private insurance. In either case, the concept is similar: here's some money, now leave me alone. While its's not clear the policy paper provides any definite answers, it certainly throws up interesting ideas about how a citizen might buy his freedom back from our new masters, the politically correct welfare state.


BOOK REVIEW of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein

Review by Jonathan Chait. No Leftist understands much about how the real world works but Chait understands enough to see that conspiracy theorist Klein is living in cloud cuckoo land -- a veritable female Chomsky in her selective attention to the facts

It seems like a very long time--though in truth only a few years have passed--since the most sinister force on the planet that the left could imagine was Nike. In 2001, Time proclaimed that the anti-globalization movement had become the "defining cause" of a new generation, and that the spokesperson for the cause was the Canadian writer and activist Naomi Klein. For puzzled outsiders grasping to understand why bands of youths had begun following the World Trade Organization wherever it went, brandishing oversize puppets and occasionally smashing up the local Starbucks, Klein was there to explain. She has always downplayed her place within the movement, but in fact her influence is as considerable as her press clippings proclaim. Her achievement, and it is no small feat, has been to revive economicism--and more grandiosely, materialism--as the central locus of left-wing politics.

From the time of Marx, and through the Depression, the left concerned itself primarily with economic inequality. The analysis of injustice in terms of class conflict and the forces of production was the canonical one. But the postwar boom--the authors of the Port Huron Statement famously described themselves as "bred in at least modest comfort"--turned the left's attention to foreign policy and national security in the Cold War, and to civil rights, and to feminism. By the 1980s, left-wing politics had withdrawn almost entirely into academia and other liberal enclaves, which it ruthlessly policed for any dissent from the verities of multiculturalist dogma and identity politics.

This evolution can be seen in Klein's own family. Her grandfather was a Marxist fired by Disney in 1941 for trying to organize animators. Her father fled the United States for Canada to avoid service in Vietnam, and joined Physicians for Social Responsibility. Her mother directed the anti-pornography film Not a Love Story. And Naomi Klein, like most campus leftists of the 1980s, directed her ideological energies toward the denouncing of various -isms within academia. (She later recalled, with admirable remorse, that she was known as "Miss P.C.")

By the 1990s, Klein had come to realize, like some other campus activists, that off-campus there could be found worse depredations than the canonization of Shakespeare and other dead white males. And the new enemy turned out to be an old one--the original one, in fact: the corporations, and more generally capitalism. Klein set to work on her book No Logo, which appeared in 1999. That book wove together much of the new economic activism springing up in the precincts of academia into a withering anti-corporate manifesto. Her indictment had two main counts. The first was that many corporations profited from the cruel treatment of Third World labor. This observation was undeniable, and the publicizing of these evils has produced reforms of which activists can rightly be proud. The second charge was that corporations have encroached upon and monetized every aspect of modern life and culture. Klein wrote that she could envision a future "fascist state where we all salute the logo and have little opportunity for criticism because our newspapers, television stations, Internet servers, streets and retail spaces are all controlled by multinational corporate interests." This aspect of her argument needed a bit more thinking through.

The distinctive thing about Klein's style was that it was very Old Left. She had a classic Marxist-materialist analysis, arguing that economic conditions, rather than bigotry or ideology, are what shape the world. Her interest in culture and in actually existing life under capitalism was somewhat derivative of the Frankfurt School, though not as intellectually sophisticated. Yet she managed to make the old notions feel new, and to capture the ethos of what was being called "the New New Left." And her argument reflected the conviction of the new anti-globalization activists, the children of the "cultural left," that they themselves--and not just workers in Nike factories abroad--were the victims of international corporations.

The 1990s was, for all the obvious reasons, an intensely materialistic era, and Klein came along just in time to make its booms and excesses into fodder for some sort of revival of classical Marxist analysis, which had fallen into disrepair and even into disrepute after the collapse of communism. The publication of No Logo serendipitously coincided with the sudden rise of street protests, and the book became a surprise international best-seller. The dearth of leaders in the diffuse anti-globalization cause meant that Naomi Klein became the Tom Hayden of the movement. The Times of London deemed her "probably the most influential person under the age of 35 in the world." The National Post called her the "New Noam Chomsky," and the Guardian announced that "Naomi Klein might just be helping re-invent politics for a new generation."

And then came September 11. The Islamist attack on the World Trade Center may not have "changed everything," as so many Orwell-wannabes declared, but it, and the ensuing war with secular Iraq, certainly changed the orientation of the left. The locus of evil in the world, even more than during the Cold War, was once again American military power and its use beyond our borders. The new American adversaries were not corporations but individuals--George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz. And they were motivated not by profit, but by ideology. This was not a problem that could be addressed by making the streets of Seattle run brown with Frappuccinos.

But Klein was intellectually unfazed. Rather than re-think the economicist premises of her recent radicalism, she set out to synthesize her old worldview with the post-9/11 world. "I felt it emotionally," she told The New York Times, "before I understood it factually." Doggedly connecting the dots, she discovered that the Iraq war was--guess what?--part of the same economic tissue that connected Nike and the World Trade Organization. Klein is nothing if not a totalistic thinker. Everything always adds up, and darkly. The left-wing labor economist Kim Phillips-Fein has written admiringly about Klein's role in seamlessly transforming the anti-globalization movement into the anti-imperialist movement:
In the wave of panicked reaction that followed the disaster, suddenly it seemed that the movement might disappear once more.... Almost alone among political journalists, Klein has devoted herself to writing about the war against Iraq as a political project driven by neoliberal ideology and economic interest--a natural extension of the corporate dominance of the 1990s, instead of a radical break.
So Klein went through the transition from intellectual guru of the movement against Starbucks to intellectual guru of the movement against the Pentagon, and came away as influential as ever. She remains the darling of the left in the United States, where she writes for The Nation and The Huffington Post, and abroad, where she is even more popular. A poll of readers of Prospect and Foreign Policy in 2005 ranked her eleventh on a list of the hundred most influential public intellectuals in the world.

And we can see the culmination of her intellectual synthesis in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The reception accorded this book has been staggering. It was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for distinguished prizes, a favorite of "best book" lists in the newspapers. It has even been made into a short film. It has been reviewed favorably in The New York Times, and hyperbolically elsewhere. In These Times called it "The New Road to Serfdom"--that is, the left-wing equivalent of the classic right-wing Hayekian tract. The San Francisco Chronicle said it "may have revealed the master narrative of our time." Not bad for a marginal dissenter.

The Shock Doctrine has a single, uncomplicated explanation for everything that ails us. It identifies the fundamental driving force of the last three decades to be the worldwide spread of free-market absolutism as it was formulated by Milton Friedman and the department of economics at the University of Chicago. The free marketers, Klein argues, understand full well that the public does not support their policies, which she summarizes as "the elimination of the public sphere, total liberation for corporations and skeletal social spending." And so they have decided that the free-market program can be implemented only when the public has been disoriented by wars, coups, natural disasters, and the like. The "shock doctrine" is the conservative plan to implement pro-corporate policies through the imposition and exploitation of mass trauma.

Klein cites a passage written by Friedman that "best summarizes the shock doctrine":
Only a crisis--actual or perceived--produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.
Much of the moral weight of Klein's indictment rests upon the morbid pleasure her subjects appear to take in the immiseration that permits their success. Klein observes that in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Friedman described the ruin of the New Orleans school system thusly: "This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the education system." On the very next page, she calls Friedman's plan "the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities." The reader is meant to recall Friedman's use of the word "opportunity," and forget his use of the word "tragedy." Reading Klein, you might almost conclude that Friedman devised the hurricane.

Klein repeatedly implies that there is something immoral about using crises to advance the right-wing agenda without explaining why this is so. After all, Friedman wanted to overhaul the New Orleans public education system because he believed, rightly or wrongly, that vouchers would work better. If you thought your house was horribly designed, and a tornado flattened it, would you rebuild it exactly as before?

The notion that crises create fertile terrain for political change, far from being a ghoulish doctrine unique to free-market radicals, is a banal and ideologically universal fact. (Indeed, it began its dubious modern career in the orbit of Marxism, where it was known as "sharpening the contradictions.") Entrenched interests and public opinion tend to run against sweeping reform, good or bad, during times of peace and prosperity. Liberals could not have enacted the New Deal without the Great Depression. Communist revolutions have generally come about in the wake of wars. The liberal economist Victor R. Fuchs once wrote that "national health insurance will probably come to the United States in the wake of a major change in the political climate, the kind of change that often accompanies a war, a depression, or large-scale civil unrest."

Fuchs did not mean that the public would never accept universal health insurance unless they had been brutalized into doing so. Nor was his observation evidence that he longed for disaster to befall the United States. Most American liberals today would admit that the sorry state of the American economy, foreign policy, and political life has created a golden opportunity for progressive reform. There is nothing odious about this. Yet Klein takes analogous observations from conservatives as proof that the right "prays for crisis the way drought-stricken farmers pray for rain."

Klein locates the beginnings of the shock doctrine in Chile, where in 1973 a military coup led by Pinochet displaced a democratically elected socialist government, and implemented economic policies urged upon him by Friedman and other Chicago School free-marketers. Chile offers the closest example of a case study that fits Klein's thesis. But even here the facts do not fit quite as tightly as she would like. Through most of her narrative, Klein depicts Pinochet as a pure puppet of Friedman. "For the first year and a half," she writes, "Pinochet faithfully followed the Chicago rules." But a half-dozen pages later, while explaining away the impressive economic growth that followed under Pinochet, she writes that "it's clear that Chile never was the laboratory of 'pure' free markets that its cheerleaders claimed." More generally, she seems incapable of understanding that authoritarianism of the sort represented by Pinochet may be as moved by a lust for power as by a lust for profits. They are not the same phenomenon.

From that starting point, Klein proceeds to interpret most of the events of the last thirty years as repetitions of the same inexorable pattern: elites forcing laissez-faire policies upon unwilling citizens. Her interpretive method is an extremely crude sort of Marxist economicism. The Tiananmen Square uprising, in Klein's telling, was not a pro-democracy movement so much as an explosion of opposition to privatization, and Beijing crushed the movement not in the service of autocracy but in the service of neoliberalism. "It wasn't Communism [Deng] was protecting with his crackdown," she writes, "but capitalism."

Klein's model leaves little room for the non-economic varieties of conflict, such as ethnic or sectarian strife. "Some of the most infamous human rights violations of this era," she observes, "which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by antidemocratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical freemarket 'reforms.'" One example Klein cites in her list is the U.S. intervention in Kosovo. But the human rights violation that she deplores was not the ethnic cleansing of Albanians, it was the American response. And what motivated the American attempt to stop the mass atrocity? Capitalism, of course: "The NATO attack on Belgrade in 1999 created the conditions for rapid privatizations in the former Yugoslavia--a goal that predated the war." (Klein assures her readers that economics was not the "sole motivator" for the war, but her analysis makes no room for any such complication.)

Almost nothing can confound Klein's cookie cutter. You might have thought that, say, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in non-monetary things such as land, religion, security, and ideology. But it is not, as the doctrinaire Klein confidently explains. Israel made a peace deal with the Palestinians in 1993 because "Israeli corporations were tired of being held back by war," and thought that if Israel made peace, it would "be perfectly positioned to be the Middle East's free-trade hub." But then what changed? The answer is the Israeli economy: "the flipping of Israel's export economy from one based on traditional goods and high technology to one disproportionately dependent on selling expertise and devices related to counterterrorism." Klein takes an unusual view of the causal relationship. Rather than terrorism instigating the rise of Israel's counterterrorism sector, Klein sees the relationship working in reverse: "the rapid expansion of the high-tech security economy created a powerful appetite inside Israel's wealthy and most powerful sectors for abandoning peace in favor of fighting a continual, and continuously expanding, War on Terror." So Israel decided to provoke bomb blasts in its buses and pizzerias largely--again, she dutifully concedes that it was not the sole factor--because building blast walls and bomb detectors became more profitable than living in peace.

The heart of Klein's book is her analysis of the Iraq war, which she regards as the state-of-the-art application, the definitive demonstration, of the shock doctrine. In Klein's telling, the war is merely a forcible expansion of economic globalization. "The architects of the invasion," she instructs, "had unleashed ferocious violence because they could not crack open the closed economies of the Middle East by peaceful means." Why, then, did Bush settle on Iraq, as opposed to some other closed Middle Eastern economy? Klein argues that other targets were indeed considered, but Bush chose Iraq owing to its "good central location for military bases," the American military's familiarity with the terrain from the Gulf war, and the fact that "Saddam's use of chemical weapons on his own people made him easy to hate."

Saddam's record of aggression of years of defying U.N. weapons inspectors does not make the list. "Saddam did not pose a threat to U.S. security," she writes, "but he did pose a threat to U.S. energy companies, since he had recently signed contracts with a Russian oil giant and was in negotiations with France's Total." Of course, Russia and France received contracts because they were working to undermine the sanctions regime and containment of Iraq. Why didn't Bush do the smart capitalist thing and simply make a deal with Saddam to drop the sanctions and cut American oil companies in on Iraq's oil reserves? Klein does not say.

It seems a little ridiculous to have to point out that Iraq is not exactly a new outpost of unfettered capitalism, with McDonald's and Exxon stations beckoning customers on every corner. The American master plan to transform Iraq into an "Arabic Singapore" has not worked out too well. But in full defiance of everything that we know about post-war Iraq, Klein proceeds to argue that what might superficially appear to be a total failure is, in fact, the successful culmination of the war's purposes. After the invasion, she explains, local democracy and inter-sectarian peace sprang out around the land. "Freedom," she remarks, "was becoming a reality." And from the perspective of the Bush administration, this was a problem. A truly democratic Iraq would never accept the laissez-faire economy that Washington wanted, and which was the entire purpose of the war. "So," Klein deduces, "Washington abandoned its democratic promises and instead ordered increases in the shock level."

Most critics of the war believe the notion of exporting democracy to a hostile Arab country was doomed in its conception. Some war supporters counter that the occupation could have succeeded, but bungling and incompetence caused it to fail. Klein is staking out a third, esoteric, highly original position. She says that the occupation could have succeeded, but the Bush administration did not want it to succeed. She is explicit about this:
Had the Bush administration kept its promise to hand over power quickly to an elected Iraqi government, there is every chance that the resistance would have remained small and containable, rather than becoming a countrywide rebellion. But keeping that promise would have meant sacrificing the economic agenda behind the war, something that was never going to happen.
Never? Ten pages later Klein concedes that, starting in December 2006, the Pentagon pulled a "dramatic about-face" and decided to re-open Iraq's state factories. Her cheerful insouciance in the face of such inconvenient facts points to an odd, slightly endearing quality of hers: she is conscientious enough to provide readers with facts that blow her thesis to smithereens, yet at the same time she is deluded enough not to notice the rubble of her thinking on the floor. So Klein makes a big deal about the comic but stillborn efforts by some Republican ideologues to transform Iraq into a flat-tax paradise, but she also notes that very little privatization actually took place in Iraq, and indeed that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had just three staffers devoted to privatizing Iraqi state industries. You would think this latter fact would undermine her belief that privatizing Iraq's economy was the central goal of the war. Alas, no. She thinks it just goes to show that "the CPA itself was too privatized to privatize Iraq."

So Klein attributes the failure to privatize Iraq to the CPA's incompetence, but she deems every other apparent failure to be a deliberate plan to foster chaos. To make this case, Klein runs through every one of the administration's post-war mistakes and explains why it was no mistake at all. Paul Bremer, the director of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance, decided to purge Baathists from the Iraqi government not because they were Baathists but because they were government employees. De-Baathification, Klein writes, "had little to do with anti-Saddamism and everything to do with free-market fervor." She further insists that the widespread episodes of looting in early 2003 "cannot be dismissed as mere oversights," but were part of the American plan to dismantle the Iraqi state.

With the pseudo-clarity of a conspiracy theorist, Klein dismisses out of hand the possibility of incompetence. There were memos warning the Army of looting, she ominously notes--scanting the possibility that bureaucratic lethargy, rather than conscious intent, prevented the memos' warnings from being acted upon at ground level. That widespread bungling and mismanagement also followed Hurricane Katrina strikes Klein as proof of intentionality. "The fact that exactly the same errors as those made in Iraq were instantly repeated in New Orleans," she remarks, "should put to rest the claim that Iraq's occupation was merely a string of mishaps and mistakes marked by incompetence and lack of oversight."

Like every conspiracy theory, Klein's account of the fate of the world finally lacks internal logic. She points to one instance of American soldiers dismembering Iraqi passenger planes, inflicting "$100 million worth of damage to Iraq's national airline--which was one of the first assets to be put on the auction block in an early and contentious partial privatization." If the point of the war was to hand control of Iraq's state assets to American corporations, wouldn't American troops be protecting those assets instead of destroying them?

But her most explosive charge is that Bush and his cabal are not merely the puppets of war profiteers, but war profiteers themselves. "Key Bush officials have maintained their interests in the disaster capitalism complex," thereby "allowing them to simultaneously profit from the disasters they help unleash." Klein provides two examples of such conflicts of interest. The first is that Donald Rumsfeld maintained his stock in Gilead Sciences, which holds the patent for Tamiflu, even while serving as defense secretary. Get it? Rumsfeld would stand to profit from a flu pandemic. But surely you don't have to be an admirer of Rumsfeld to doubt that he would engineer an outbreak of a deadly virus in order to fatten his stock portfolio. (Indeed, one suspects that even if Rumsfeld tried to pull off such a dastardly scheme, he would probably wind up creating a cure for the flu by mistake and render Tamiflu worthless.)

The other piece of data that Klein cites to support her charge that Bush administration officials profit from the disasters that they cause is Vice President Cheney's holdings in Halliburton. "When he leaves office in 2009 and is able to cash in his Halliburton holdings," she charges, "Cheney will have the opportunity to profit extravagantly from the stunning improvement in Halliburton's fortunes." This is a spectacular accusation--that the driving force behind the Iraq war stands to gain millions of dollars from it. You might wonder why John Kerry did not make this an issue in 2004, or why liberal pundits have not crusaded against Cheney's blatant self-dealing. The answer, of course, is that it is completely untrue. Cheney has signed a legally binding agreement to donate to charity any increase in his Halliburton stock. (Honest-- you can look this up on factcheck.org.) Lord knows Rumsfeld and Cheney have committed enough actual misdeeds not to need indicting with imaginary ones.

Klein's strength as a writer is her interest in the ground level of things. Free-trade advocates rely heavily on abstract theory, lecturing us on comparative advantage and the relative virtues of Portuguese wine versus English wool; but Klein, no armchair radical, jets off to wretched places in the Third World and paints a picture of the reality of free trade in chilling detail. That picture ought to give pause to the most committed free-trader, even if she is hardly the only one to have noted these consequences. Yet when it comes to the right-wingers who constitute her book's main subject, Klein's reportorial spirit is nowhere to be found.

Klein's relentless materialism is not the only thing driving her to see conservatives merely as corporate puppets. She pays shockingly (but, given her premises, unsurprisingly) little attention to right-wing ideas. She recognizes that neoconservatism sits at the heart of the Iraq war project, but she does not seem to know what neoconservatism is; and she makes no effort to find out. Her ignorance of the American right is on bright display in one breathtaking sentence:
Only since the mid-nineties has the intellectual movement, led by the right-wing think-tanks with which [Milton] Friedman had long associations--Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute--called itself "neoconservative," a worldview that has harnessed the full force of the U.S. military machine in the service of a corporate agenda.
Where to begin? First, neoconservative ideology dates not from the 1990s but from the 1960s, and the label came into widespread use in the 1970s. Second, while neoconservatism is highly congenial to corporate interests, it is distinctly less so than other forms of conservatism. The original neocons, unlike traditional conservatives, did not reject the New Deal. They favor what they now call "national greatness" over small government. And their foreign policy often collides head-on with corporate interests: neoconservatives favor saber-rattling in places such as China or the Middle East, where American corporations frown on political risk, and favor open relations and increased trade. Moreover, the Heritage Foundation has always had an uneasy relationship with neoconservatism. (Russell Kirk delivered a famous speech at the Heritage Foundation in which he declared that "not seldom has it seemed as if some eminent neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States.") And the Cato Institute is not neoconservative at all. It was virulently opposed to the Iraq war in particular, and it opposes interventionism in foreign policy in general.

Finally, there is the central role that Klein imputes to her villain Friedman, both in this one glorious passage and throughout her book. In her telling, he is the intellectual guru of the shock doctrine, whose minions have carried out his corporatist agenda from Santiago to Baghdad. Klein calls the neocon movement "Friedmanite to the core," and identifies the Iraq war as a "careful and faithful application of unrestrained Chicago School ideology" over which Friedman presided. What she does not mention--not once, not anywhere, in her book--is that Friedman argued against the Iraq war from the beginning, calling it an act of "aggression."

It ought to be morbidly embarrassing for a writer to discover that the central character of her narrative turns out to oppose what she identifies as the apotheosis of his own movement. And Klein's mistake exposes the deeper flaw of her thesis. Friedman opposed the war because he was a libertarian, and libertarian conservatism is not the same thing as neoconservatism. Nor are the interests of corporations always, or even usually, served by war.

What makes Klein's thesis so odd, and so awful, is that in fact there is an unlimited supply of raw material, an abundant basis in reality, for the sorts of arguments that she wants to make. The last two decades certainly have seen the global spread of absolutist free-market ideology. Many of the newest adherents of this creed are dictators who have learned that they can harness the riches of capitalism without permitting the freedoms once thought to flow automatically from it. In the United States, the power of labor unions has withered, and prosperity has increasingly come to be defined as gross domestic product or the rise of the stock market, with the actual living standards of the great mass of the population an afterthought. Corporations, which can relocate nearly anywhere around the world, have used their flexibility as a cudgel against workers, who do not enjoy the privileges of mobility. Domestic policy has aggressively sharpened income inequalities, and corporations have enjoyed unfettered influence to a degree not seen in a hundred years. And the president did start a war without paying the slightest bit of attention to the country that he would be left occupying or how its people would react.

All these things are true. And all these things are enormous outrages and significant problems. It's just that they are not the same outrage or the same problem. And Naomi Klein's relentless lumping together of all her ideological adversaries in the service of a monocausal theory of the world ultimately renders her analysis perfect nonsense.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Monday, July 21, 2008

Batman is a neocon

The folly of the war in Iraq has been a defining theorem in Hollywood for the past few years, and the tenor of conservative complaint has become more frenzied as the movies have become more blatantly political and infuriating. One after another the dramas arrive, all bravely asserting exactly the same thing: Americans are epic bumblers with a corrupt and moronic leadership, and a security apparatus populated with bullies and monsters. Some, such as the Jason Bourne movies, have done very well. More—and specifically those that have portrayed US fighting men and women as rapists, murderers, cowards and dupes—have failed. They have failed so utterly that only the bright burning certainty of righteousness on the part of an influential segment of the American movie industry could explain why they continue to go into production in the face of massive indifference if not hostility of audiences.

Never let it be said members of the ideological left in Hollywood are without principles. They back their shuddering discomfort with the United States and its defenders with their sweat and toil, reputations, and many millions of dollars. But as it turns out, defeatism and national chagrin aren’t so terribly popular in America or abroad. Conservative critics have spent a lot of time decrying, with justification, the anti-American movies and pleading for tales that address contemporary struggles in a dramatic, or even heroic manner.

The truth is, they are. Some of the most successful movies of the past few years have embodied values and themes that conservatives—though not only conservatives, of course—embrace. The trouble is, those themes are embedded in fantasy and horror movies that more often than not evade serious critical scrutiny. A few examples:

A call to the “men of the west” to defend their civilization, the “good in the world…that’s worth fighting for” is from the Lord of the Rings movies.

The revelation that, stripped of his uniform, the hero that stands between order and chaos is an unassuming young man is from Spiderman 2.

The most vigorous defense of exceptionalism (and how it might be crushed by political correctness, envy, and legal maneuvering) is found in The Incredibles.

The threat of rage infected fanatics overrunning England and Europe is explored in 28 Weeks Later. That movie also showed the American led NATO forces as brave and principled, and demonstrated the vital importance of suppressing facile compassion and following the rules.

The grandeur and sacrifice of protecting home and family is exemplified in 300; which though based on a historical event was filmed in a style that blended classical Greek art and modern comics.

Iron Man and Hancock both reform their dissolute ways dedicate themselves to protecting victims of crime and terror.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull resurrects the idea of a noble quest, and the quaint-yet-revolutionary-considering-the-source notion that communism is an all-consuming evil that in any form (human or alien) will destroy those who submit to it.

Of course, it’s not all confirmation of conservative ideas in the fantasy realm. Ghost movie Dark Water (directed by Walter Salles, whose previous effort was the Che hagiography Diarios de motocicleta) made the case for terrorist appeasement. In the latest incarnation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the assimilated become liberals and their return to individuality is met with the wistful regret of what might have been. George A. Romero has become objectively pro-zombie in his last couple of movies. But of the above, only Romero’s Land of the Dead was profitable, and his follow-up, Diary of the Dead, was a financial disaster.

A complete breakdown of blockbuster by ideology would be unwieldy, but let me focus on one in particular due to its boldness, its success, and the release of its sequel. I speak of the mighty Batman Begins.

When seeking to revive the Batman franchise, Warner Brothers studios pointedly looked for a darker version to supplant the garish mess director Joel Schumacher had left behind. Christopher Nolan was attached on the strength of his previous movies, which include the crafty and amoral Memento and The Prestige. Both are very dark, literally. Nolan is colorblind, so his films tend to emphasize texture and contrast rather than color. The subject matter is even darker, for Batman Begins is explicitly about conquering fear and administering justice—or if you prefer, a war on terror.

In Batman Begins, the boy Bruce Wayne suffers a fall down a well and is subsequently frightened by a storm of bats in the cave where he landed. Unnerved by the bat costumes in the opera he later attends with his parents, he asks his father if they could leave early. When they exit the theater, a mugger confronts and kills Wayne’s parents. The shame over the fear Bruce believes led to the murder of his parents, and the frustration he feels over the early release of the evildoer leads him on a quest to thoroughly understand criminals and to equip himself to fight them.

In Asia he is recruited by the League of Shadows and suspects they have an approach to justice similar to his own. When asked what he seeks, Wayne replies, “the means to fight injustice and to turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.” At the end of his training, however, he learns the Shadows are a) far more ruthless and lawless than he had imagined, and b) have targeted his hometown of Gotham City for destruction. He chooses to defend and reform it instead.

The liberals of Gotham, especially as personified by Wayne’s parents and his childhood friend Rachel Dawes, are nice, idealistic people. They are also so ill equipped to cope with evil and violence as to become a significant contributor to the city’s decline. Wayne’s father, Thomas, abdicated running the business that was the lifeblood of Gotham to “more interested men,” although the economy is in depression and in need of jobs. Instead he gives gifts and endows a cheap system of trains “to unite the city.” Those trains will later be used by the terrorists in their attempt to destroy Gotham The demolition of the train system, much the worse for wear since Bruce rode to the opera on it with his sanctimonious parents, marks the salvation of the city.

When confronted by the mugger Joe Chill, Thomas responds with politesse. “Take it easy…it’s all right,” he says to the armed man. “Don’t be afraid,” he says to Bruce. He gives the man everything he asks for, and is murdered with his wife in front of his son because he appeased an aggressor. During Bruce’s apprenticeship with the League, his mentor Henri Ducard tells him, “Your parents’ death wasn’t your fault. It was your father’s fault.” That assertion is never challenged.

The city prosecutors, of which Dawes is a member, seem to accommodate criminals as much as persecute them. When pleading Chill’s reduced sentence, the DA tells the judge (a stooge of the city’s crime lord), “His crime was appalling, yes, but it was motivated not by greed but by desperation.” Dawes explains that because of the depression, people are susceptible to crime and drugs, which mitigates their moral responsibility.

She becomes outraged when Wayne tells her the justice system of Gotham is broken, although he is manifestly correct. That’s why he literally turns his back on Chill’s court proceedings. She does her ineffectual job and hectors Bruce with righteous platitudes, and the city gets worse and worse. As Ducard says, “Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society’s understanding.”

That indulgence interfaces with criminal enterprise in the person of Dr. Jonathan Crane. Crane is a psychopharmacologist who gives sympathetic testimony in court to gain leniency for criminals who are then moved to his asylum. There, he experiments with the fear-inducing drug that is an integral part of the League of Shadow’s plot to destroy Gotham. As he sprays an expanse of the city with the drug, he shouts at the petrified victims, “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself!” He is an ace manipulator of liberal pieties and legal loopholes, and a superb front man for the League of Shadows.

The League of Shadows is a millennia old organization that uses terror to punish the decadent and the wicked. Like Dawes and her ilk, they believe “justice is harmony,” though the formers’ principles dictate near inaction, the League practice near annihilation. They are conservative in the worst sense of the word: inflexible, intolerant, and fanatical. Their history is one of destroying the village—London by fire, Rome though sacking, Europe with the plague—to save it.

So what is Batman? He’s too free with the rules for the political set and too much a squish for the League of Shadows. His affection for the former tempers his natural attraction to the latter. He is a compassionate conservative.

Bruce Wayne/ Batman is the scion of a wealthy Republican family (his home was used as part of the Underground Railroad). His father was a well thought of man who proved too weak to deal authoritatively with a looming threat, one that would later collaborate with a fundamentalist organization that sought to destroy the greatest city in America. With his British ally Alfred he opposes a terrorist enemy.

Although he has a reputation as a drunken playboy goofball, those closest to him recognize his core of decency and will. has respect for business and industry. He is a believer in personal redemption, having learned the lesson that we fall “so we can learn to pick ourselves up.” If Bruce Wayne, the League of Shadows, Dr. Crane, and the liberal members of Gotham’s political establishment bear a resemblance to certain contemporary figures and entities…well, the credits claim it’s a coincidence. But we are free to draw our own conclusions.

And gloomy conservative moviegoers can lighten up about mainstream movies. We can despair over unpopular future curiosities which we may as well begin to forget right here, or we can remember we have Batman. And as Batman might have said, it’s not what the filmmakers’ are underneath, it’s what they do that defines them.


Why is Nazism seen as so much worse than Communism?

Jonah Goldberg reports:

The suggestion that the Nazis were responsible for the launching of WWII (See here and here), and that's why Nazism is seen as more evil than Communism, elicited a lot of email. Here are a few:
I think that communism would never be viewed as equivalent to evil as Nazism is even if the Reds had started WWII by attacking Germany. Much of the bien pensant reaction to communism is informed by a feeling that communists' hearts are in the right place. The Reds are trying to bring equality to the world and relieve the burden of oppression that weighs down the proletariat; the Nazis are concerned with the progress of the Volk. The intelligentsia does not see communism as fatally flawed but overzealous. (if they did, they would not be leftists).
Re: The reader who says starting World War II was equal to the Holocaust in giving Hitler an evil reputation.

Yes, Hitler and fascism became synonymous with evil because the wars he started made it impossible for the world to ignore his crimes. Also, having our soldiers capturing some of his death camps made it that much harder to overlook what really happened. And his victims had more relatives in Western Europe and the US than Stalin's victims did.

This is an issue that has puzzled me for years, ever since reading Gulag Archipelago when it appeared in the mid 70s. In my childhood I got the impression from documentaries and stories on World War II that we had learned our lesson never to appease a murderous dictator. Then Solzhenitsyn shows how we kept on doing it to another one (Stalin) all the years we were fighting Hitler, and beyond. I suspect that appeasing and ignoring what a dictator does to his own people is the default behavior of most nations and peoples, even now. Zimbabwe comes to mind, and how George W Bush is demonized for the invasion of Iraq. It takes an unusually aggressive dictator (to neighboring countries) like Hitler to rouse other countries to overthrow him.
I just caught up on the LF blog and wanted to comment on your reader's letter regarding Fascism's "evil reputation" vis a vis the relative pass that Communism/socialism get. Specifically, methinks its necessary to knock down the historical innaccuracies regarding the Soviet Union that he's perpetrating.

The Soviet Union bears just as much responsibility for starting WW2 as does the Third Reich. It was an ALLIANCE with Germany that "greenlighted" the Wehrmacht invasion of Poland, with the Soviet Union rolling in from the other border a few days later. The SU then proceeded to attack neutral nations without provocation, i.e. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland. We came pretty close to seriously aiding the Finns, had the geography been more favorable, there might very well have been "Flying Polar Bears" led by Chenault as well. Subsequently, the Soviet Union made a non-aggression pact and cleared the way for the Japanese to move ahead with their grand imperial designs. Of course, the "honorable" Soviets ditched that pact as soon as they were assured that they could be successful in their aggression.

The reason for the overarching villification of the fascism compared to socialism/communism is simply the convenience of history (SU on our side vs the Axis) and the wholesale obscuratisnism and revisionism undertaken by the Left that you've already identified in your book.
Your reader who discounts the Holocaust in favor of starting World War II as the primary reason fascism is reviled while communism is (at least in those countries that did not experience it) is not, ignores one simple fact: the USSR as much as Nazi Germany is responsible for starting the war (at least its European phase, which is, let's face it, the only part that Europeans and Americans really care about). Without the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Hitler could not have invaded Poland, or if he did, would have had to contemplate running headlong in the the Red Army coming to Poor Little Poland's "rescue". The Pact also allowed the USSR to occupy the eastern half of Poland, and gave Stalin a free hand in Finland and the Baltic states. In other words, Stalin was just as much a co-conspirator in the initiation of the war as Hitler (which, of course, raises the irony of Ribbentrop being hanged for war crimes after Nuremberg, while Molotov lived in peaceful retirement to a ripe old age).

I think the real reason for fascism's evil reputation vs. the relatively benign reputation of socialism, or even communism, has more to do with the adoption of the latter two as the preferred ideology of the intelligentsia in the liberal West, which permits them to engage in intellectual peregrinations to justify their beliefs despite the manifest results thereof. In their minds, fascism per se is evil (evil in its essence?), while socialism and communism are per se good-and only evil in their execution. The conceit allows them to think, "If only we had been running the show, things would have turned out differently". To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton's aphorism on Christianity, they believe "Communism has not been tried and found wanting. it has been found difficult and thus never tried". As long as the Left can engage in such sophistry, they will never have to confront the reality of their beliefs. And, from their perspective, a good thing, too.

The Big Easy Rebuilds, Bottom Up

Ordinary New Orleanians restore their city, avoiding lower Manhattan's master-planned debacle

Just two days after August 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans, architectural wunderkind Daniel Libeskind was already overflowing with ideas about how to restore the city. Libeskind-he of the 1,776-foot "Freedom Tower" for New York's Ground Zero-compared New Orleans with postwar Berlin, which had "in a daring way developed . . . into the 21st century." As for a "theme" for a rebuilt New Orleans, Libeskind mused to the New York Times, "What could be more creative than jazz?"

Mercifully, New Orleans isn't erecting any saxophone-shaped skyscrapers as it recovers from the hurricane, which left 80 percent of its surface area-a swath seven times Manhattan's size-inundated with floodwaters and drove nearly all of the city's 455,000 residents from their homes. New Orleans has rebounded remarkably since then. As of January, it boasted 302,000 residents, with 2,000 more returning each month, according to data crunchers at GCR & Associates, an information-systems firm. (In early 2006, the city's official planners had figured that just 247,000 people would be home by September 2008.)

New Orleanians have achieved much of this success by doing what New Yorkers couldn't do after 9/11: ignoring the potentates and eggheads hankering to turn devastation into conceptual art. They've been building and rebuilding on their own or with small-scale help, rather than under top-down decree-and, in the process, showing that thousands of individual planners are better than one master.

True, a strong government role was necessary at first to set the stage for New Orleans's progress. Federal agencies, especially the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, worked with contractors to clear millions of tons of debris from lawns and streets, unclog waterways, and provide trailers so that New Orleanians could live in their driveways while fixing their houses. They also repaired levees and are working on upgrading flood-control infrastructure in general-crucial steps in making homeowners more confident about weathering future hurricanes. But government, while critical for acute recovery, hasn't driven the long-term rebuilding work.

That's not to say that it hasn't tried. Just weeks after Katrina, the city unveiled a panel called Bring New Orleans Back (BNOB), charged with drawing up ambitious recommendations for everything from public transportation to schools. The panel comprised an equal number of black and white luminaries, from an archbishop to a famous jazz musician to a university president to a top real-estate developer. But it quickly became reviled for asking the city to prohibit rebuilding in low-lying neighborhoods-which are vulnerable to flooding-that didn't first "prove their viability." Still more infamous were its "green dots," markers on maps that seemed to suggest turning some low-lying areas where people already lived into parks. "There is a large green dot over our homes," one resident fumed at a crowded town-hall meeting in January 2006, according to New Orleans's Times-Picayune. "I will sit in my front door with my shotgun," promised another homeowner.

Nothing was wrong with encouraging New Orleanians to favor higher ground as they built and rebuilt. But trying to do so by government decree, rather than through gentler incentives as well as targeted infrastructure and public services investments, was a losing proposition. A few months later, Mayor Ray Nagin-looking toward reelection, cowed by public outrage, and stifled by his own administration's lack of follow-through-abandoned any huge effort to plan neighborhoods. "Rebuild at your own risk," he told citizens. As late as April 2007, Times-Picayune columnist Stephanie Grace was still lamenting the "curse of the green dot" as the cause of politicians' paralysis and pinning her hopes on a more modest second round of planning. But by then, it was too late: self-reliant New Orleanians had already taken Nagin at his word.

One of them was Father Nguyen The Vien, a Roman Catholic priest in a Vietnamese-American enclave of the badly flooded New Orleans East. Vien and his largely working- and middle-class parishioners showed that after a disaster, neighborhood and church connections can mean the difference between reconstruction and abandonment. "It's not the city that determines we are going to build," Vien says. "I can't ask the city to get everything lined up and [only then] I'll come home."

Stranded in Houston after Katrina, Vien racked up nearly $1,000 in cell-phone bills staying in touch with his 6,300 parishioners, and he held meetings in a Houston community center, where a grassroots plan was born. Starting in early October, after New Orleans's government reopened their neighborhood, Vien and his flock repaired their church's relatively minor damage and began using it as a base-a place to eat, sleep, and use restrooms as they tackled their own houses. Many even lived near one another in trailers on a property across from the church. Five weeks after the hurricane, Vien celebrated his first post-flood Mass, showing people worried about being the only family on the block how many residents were returning.

Vien also used numbers to lobby for public services. "I went to see Entergy," the electricity company, "on October 19, and told [the representative] `we need electricity,' " Vien says. "He said he needed to justify the load, because he couldn't take power from populated areas. He said, `Give me a list of households so I can go before the board and make the argument.' " Vien brought a list of 500-enough to get the power back on. By early 2008, he says, 95 percent of his parishioners were home and the trailers were gone. "We are done with recovery and [are now] working on development," says Vien, including launching a charter school and wooing hospitals to set up clinics nearby.

Lakeview is an upper-middle-class neighborhood that, like New Orleans East, rose in the twentieth century and is more vulnerable to flooding than older neighborhoods on higher ground. As Lakeview residents started to come back in early 2006 and rebuild homes ravaged by more than ten feet of water, they relied heavily on existing institutions. Martin Landrieu, an attorney, lifelong New Orleanian, and officer of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association, echoes Vien's outlook: "What's first is schools and churches."

Landrieu calls the opening of Catholic schools beginning in January 2006 "critical" because "the driving force for most families was getting kids into some semblance of order. People said, `If I can get my kids settled into a routine, I can work on other things.' " Evacuated neighbors, many living an hour or more away, also drew reassurance from Lakeview's First Baptist Church, which put up a map in early 2006 so that residents could stick a pin over their blocks to declare that they were committed to coming home.

When the hated green-dot plan spurred residents to "prove our viability," Landrieu notes, neighbors rose to the challenge, launching 72 committees on everything from grass-cutting to covering swimming pools so that citizens wouldn't feel that they were returning to abandonment. "People were coming out of the woodwork to see what they could do to help," says Landrieu. Saint Paul's Episcopal School also opened a resource center offering residents cleaning equipment and information on hiring contractors.

By the summer of 2006, people were returning in earnest. When Landrieu moved back into his home about a year after Katrina, he had five or ten neighbors in a three- to four-block area; six months later, the population had quadrupled. Today, 44 percent of Lakeview's population is back, according to GCR-a particularly significant accomplishment because so many of its properties were totaled, meaning that residents were returning not to recoup the value of houses but to build new ones from scratch.

An even higher success rate is happening in Broadmoor, a hard-hit neighborhood with more black residents than white and household incomes that range from poverty-level to the high six figures. There, over 70 percent of households have returned-partly because the great majority had flood insurance, partly because the neighborhood's historic houses hold up relatively well to storms, but also because of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, which worked tirelessly to contact displaced residents and convince them that they would have plenty of company and support in rebuilding. Broadmoor shows that neighborhoods with strong institutions don't have to be ethnically cohesive, like the Vietnamese-American pockets of New Orleans East, or wealthy, like Lakeview, to recover.

While small, neighborhood-based organizations have helped spur recovery in places like New Orleans East, Lakeview, and Broadmoor, larger institutions like New Orleans's Preservation Resource Center (PRC) are playing a big role, too. Dedicated to fixing up historic properties, PRC realized that its traditional mission took on new importance after the hurricane. "People were coming back to flooded, moldy houses," says executive director Patricia Gay. So a few weeks after Katrina, PRC began holding workshops on how to eradicate mold, providing free cleaning supplies and lists of contractors. The group also began bus tours to convince evacuees that damage was fixable, launched online groups so that returning homeowners could learn from one another, and started a "selective salvage" operation, working with FEMA to save historic doors, windows, and moldings from houses too far gone to fix. "I don't believe this city is disposable," says PRC's Kristin Palmer, who runs one of PRC's rehab programs.

PRC's pre-Katrina rehabilitation of low-income and elderly homeowners' historic houses assumed new urgency after the storm. So far, the effort has brought 72 families home. "We cluster homes, do three, four, five houses on the same street," says Palmer, in order to create confidence that historic neighborhoods are coming back. PRC also fixes up and resells vacant historic properties, which tend to be less vulnerable to storms, since they're sturdier than modern homes and are located in older neighborhoods that flood less regularly and drain more quickly than newer ones do. Last year, restaurant manager Heather Lolley moved from Lakeview to one of PRC's lovingly refurbished properties, a $132,000 house on the higher ground of historic Holy Cross. Her new home is made of "bargeboards," water-resistant wood planks that were once part of a boat that traveled down the Mississippi.

PRC hasn't entirely stuck to its pre-Katrina playbook, however, partly because of a stubborn economic fact: New Orleans's houses were cheap before the storm only because their construction was paid for long ago. Returning New Orleanians, including renters, need houses, but substantially rehabbing flooded properties or building them from scratch at $130 per square foot can be unaffordable for citizens of modest means. What to do?

PRC took a market approach, endorsing something that may sound unusual for a preservation group: "kit-built" houses. After Katrina, local firm Wayne Troyer Architects joined forces with architect Andr,s Duany to design five models of a "Katrina Cottage" that would fit into the long, narrow lots of comparatively high-ground Holy Cross. The cottages follow traditional New Orleans home designs, so as not to harm the neighborhood's historic character; meet 140-mile-per-hour wind-speed codes; and are made of materials resistant to mold, rot, and termites.

PRC has gotten on board, winning approval from New Orleans's Historic District Landmarks Commission to build the cottages, and it will break ground on the first four as City Journal goes to press. Thanks to PRC's volunteer labor and the low cost of materials for mass-produced kits, the organization hopes to build brand-new houses for under $70 per square foot. Pam Bryan, who runs PRC's construction program, notes that the kits are available at Lowe's home-improvement stores for $36,000 to $40,000, so that returning residents who aren't working with PRC can buy them, too.

Urban planners aren't wrong when they see in disaster an opportunity to try something new. Katrina has afforded local architects and their clients just such an opportunity, both in severely flooded areas and elsewhere. But they're seizing it with their own money and property, not with public funds.

More here

BRAZIL: Offend a homosexual ... Go to prison for 5 years

Teachers, pastors facing 'criminalization of homophobia'

Christians will face prison for speaking out against homosexuality if Brazil's Senate passes a bill approved unanimously by its House of Representatives. The measure is considered the country's newest attempt to promote homosexuality, disguised as an act to prevent discrimination, the Catholic News Agency reports. If anyone prevents actions of "homosexual affection" in public or private locations open to the public, they could face up to five years in prison for doing so, the Association of the Defense of Life reports. The bill also seeks to penalize private and public school administrators with up to three years in prison if they refuse to hire openly "gay" teachers. According to the CNA, the measure will force prison time for any "moral, ethical, philosophical or psychological expression that questions homosexual practices."

The ADL claims the bill could spell disaster for churches and teachers. "[A] priest, a pastor, a teacher or even an average citizen who says in a sermon, a classroom or public conversation that homosexual acts are sinful, disordered or an illness could be denounced and detained," the association said.

Only weeks ago, WND reported the president of Brazil said "opposing" homosexuality makes you a sick person, and he believes such thoughts need to be criminalized. Brazilian chief Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who won a narrow re-election following a cash-for-votes scandals, held the First National Conference of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals to condemn the biblical belief that homosexuality is wrong.

Lulu, on June 5, not only officially opened the event to promote homosexuality across his nation but also issued a presidential sanction for the conference. Calling for "the criminalization of homophobia," he said opposition to homosexuality is "perhaps the most perverse disease impregnated in the human head." He said "prejudiced" people need to "open their minds and clean them." Other speakers encouraged homosexuals to claim to be part of a civil rights campaign that already has brought reforms for treatment of blacks, the elderly and the disabled. They also announced the nation's public hospitals soon would begin to perform sex changes on people.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

British father branded a 'pervert' - for photographing his own children in a public park

When Gary Crutchley started taking pictures of his children playing on an inflatable slide he thought they would be happy reminders of a family day out. But the innocent snaps of seven-year-old Cory, and Miles, five, led to him being called a `pervert'. The woman running the slide at Wolverhampton Show asked him what he was doing and other families waiting in the queue demanded that he stop. One even accused him of photographing youngsters to put the pictures on the internet.

Mr Crutchley, 39, who had taken pictures only of his own children, was so enraged that he found two policemen who confirmed he had done nothing wrong. Yesterday he said: `What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not? `This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.'

Father-of-three Mr Crutchley, a consultant for a rubber manufacturer from Walsall, West Midlands, was with his wife Tracey and their sons when the pleasant Sunday afternoon out turned sour. He said: `The children wanted to go on an inflatable slide and I started taking photos of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop. `When I asked why, she told me I could not take pictures of other people's children. I explained I was only interested in taking photos of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park.

`I showed her the photos I had taken to prove my point. Then another woman joined in and said her child was also on the slide and did not want me taking pictures of the youngster. `I repeated that the only people being photographed were my own children. She said I could be taking pictures of just any child to put on the internet and called me a pervert. We immediately left the show.'

Mrs Crutchley, 37, a teaching support assistant and qualified nursery nurse, said: `I was shocked by the reaction of those women. 'It is very sad when every man with a camera enjoying a Sunday afternoon out in the park with his children is automatically assumed to be a pervert.'

The slide was run by Tracey Dukes, 35, whose father Malcolm Gwinnett has an inflatables hire company. Mr Gwinnett, 58, a LibDem councillor in Wolverhampton, said: `Our policy is to ask people taking photos whether they have children on the slide. If they do, then that is fine. `But on this occasion another customer took exception to what the man was doing and an argument developed between those two people that continued without any further involvement from staff on the slide.'


Massachusetts Senate fast-tracks same-sex marriage expansion

Voice vote moves plan to state House, guv's signature expected shortly after

A resurrected plan to expand homosexual "marriage" opportunities has been fast-tracked by the state Senate in Massachusetts with a vote that moves the proposal immediately to the state House, with the governor's signature expected before the end of this month. The proposal, previously put in a "kill" file by lawmakers, suddenly was resurrected today and given a voice approval by senators who did not even take a roll call vote.

Pro-family organizations say the plan will allow out-of-state same-sex duos to fetch drive-in "marriage" certificates in Massachusetts, then return home and create "havoc" by demanding their companies, cities, counties and states recognize them as married.

The conflict comes in that voters in 27 states already have approved state constitutional amendments limiting "marriage" to one man and one woman, and California is expected to vote on its similar plan in November. Brian Camenker, chief of Mass Resistance, watched his state senate in action and described it as "completely orchestrated" by homosexual activists. "It was horrible," he said. "It was as if the gays were playing them like a violin." The voice vote, "was just a sort of murmur and that was it," he said.

"I'll tell you there's no more democracy in Massachusetts, no constitutional government. They were completely being run by the homosexual lobby," he said. "The general population would never vote for that. The extent to which the state senate just rolled over for the homosexual lobby is absolutely breathtaking," he said. "You would have thought they would have at least had a debate," he said.

What the senators decided to do was repeal a 1913 law that bars out-of-state couples from marrying in the state unless their "marriage" would be legal in their home state. That has precluded a mass assembly of homosexuals to "marry" in Massachusetts because until this year Massachusetts was the only state where such "marriages" were recognized. California's state Supreme Court in May said it was unconstitutional in that state for officials to deny the status of "married" to homosexuals, and California does not have the same residency requirement imposed by Massachusetts.

Observers say the Massachusetts House likely will hold a vote later this week, and Gov. Deval Patrick is supportive of the change. Opponents of the 1913 law said it was racist, even though Massachusetts has allowed interracial marriages since 1843.

Camenker said his organization and others lobbied earlier this year and the state senators placed the idea into a "study," which effectively stopped its advance. Suddenly, how, however, it was resurrected. "The recent events in California have apparently energized the homosexual lobby. They apparently persuaded Sen. Robert Creedon (D-Brockton), Senate chairman of the judiciary committee, to take the unusual step of resurrecting it from the study to be voted on. Creedon, normally a pro-life, moderately pro-family senator, isn't running for re-election this fall. According to press reports, Sen. Diane Wilkerson (D-Mattapan), who led the charge to push for huge taxpayer-funding for homosexual programs in the schools, is the major force behind this also," Camenker said.

In California, however, same-sex "marriages" face an uncertain future, since a proposed constitutional amendment promoted by the ProtectMarriage.com organization already has been approved for this November's election ballot. The amendment reads: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

And one of the followup questions would be: What happens to the "marriages" performed for same-sex couples between the time of the Supreme Court's opinion, and the possible veto of that opinion by the people of California. In fact, homosexual groups now are actively trying to prevent the California vote, saying the five majority justices on the state Supreme Court simply can change the definition of a traditional social institution by vote, but the people cannot vote to protect it.

In Massachusetts, the mandate for same-sex "marriages" does not face that same uncertain future. "This . would allow any homosexual couple in America to get 'married' here (in Massachusetts) - and cause havoc in their home states," Mass Resistance said. Such "couples" then would demand (using court challenges) that their home states legally recognize those marriages because of the US Constitution's 'full faith and credit' clause." "This would make Massachusetts a sort of Mecca for gay weddings, and there will be instability around the country," Camenker told WND.


The British Labour party's heartland is rotten to the core and dying of welfarism

When one thinks of Glasgow East - and the lucky ones are those who have to go no further than just think - one is reminded of Sir Christopher Wren's epitaph in St Paul's: si monumentum requiris, circumspice. If you seek Labour's monument, look at this hell-hole of a constituency. It is not merely in their heartland. It is not merely as devastated as it is after 11 years of Labour misrule. It is in a part of Britain controlled by Labour for generations, and serviced by epic amounts of public money since the invention, 30 years ago, of the Barnett formula for preferential funding of Scotland. And it proves two things.

First, that Labour's managerial incompetence is such that it not only cannot run anything, it cannot even ensure the survival of what passes for the normal social structures of the civilised world. Second, that throwing money at a problem, especially when the state is doing the throwing, is a guaranteed way of ensuring not only that it is not solved, but that it compounds and worsens.

The facts about Glasgow East have been much retailed, but a compendium is always useful, not least as a means of emphasising Labour's massive achievement in government. Its life expectancy for males is just about the lowest in Europe: 63, but in one ward, Calton, it is 54. Iain Duncan Smith, who has for years done what amounts to missionary work in the constituency on a heroic scale, has pointed out that the Calton figure ranks below the life expectancy of North Korea and Iraq.

In Glasgow, the weapon of mass destruction has been welfarism, and the removal of any incentive to work or to be enterprising. Heart disease is twice the national average, but alcoholism is a bigger killer either than the deep-fried Mars bar or tobacco: helped by the Government that brought us 24-hour boozing.

A half of the people in the constituency are unemployed. A half - possibly the same half - have no qualifications. Only a third of families own a car. According to Mr Duncan Smith, thousands of children in east Glasgow are heroin addicts. He has seen drug deals done in broad daylight, the police nowhere to be seen on streets so riddled with violent crime that they resemble a war zone. A local academic, Prof Ivan Turok, compares the area with South African townships: he should know, he is a United Nations adviser.

When Mr Duncan Smith talks of the role welfarism has played in the collapse of society in Glasgow East, he introduces a welcome moral dimension to the argument. Locally, the Roman Catholic Church has taken the moral dimension a step further, alerting its many communicants in the area to the lax views on abortion and embryo experimentation of some of the candidates: all part of the self-conscious "anything goes" attitude to ethics that has been fostered by the liberals who run the Labour Party these days, and which in its widest form has been the ruination of communities such as Glasgow East.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Labour has created this morass. Its stranglehold on Glasgow politics for decades was widely recognised as corrupt and corrupting, yet no one - including many prominent Scots who ran the national party - bothered to do anything about it.

That three generations of some families in Glasgow East rely on welfare to survive shows how Labour's obsession with spending money entrenches poverty instead of alleviating it.

Nor was it the police who chose to turn themselves into a means of social engineering instead of fighting crime: the lead came from the Government. It is Labour's hopeless schools that turn out so many unqualified people, its so-called fight against "child poverty" that has bred new generations of poor children to poor families without providing the slightest ray of hope. And these people expect to be voted back on July 24, at the by-election.

Glasgow East is a peculiarly deprived and shocking place. We should not, though, allow it to become the sole focus of any attack on Labour and its failures. Most cities in Britain have evidence - less startling perhaps, but still bleak and depressing in the destruction it betokens - of Labour's utter inability to help what it patronisingly calls "our people". You give Labour your poor and your dispossessed, and by golly they stay that way. The lessons are clear. Welfare, as now administered, fails. Regulation fails. High taxation and high spending fail.

Think of what you personally have paid in tax since 1997, and think how little you have had for it. All over Britain, public services are failing because money is being wasted.

Even the most hardened cases of deprivation can be turned round, but the policies Labour has pursued towards the poor since 1997 have, manifestly, failed. So what can the Tories do? Mr Cameron picked up the Duncan Smith line on welfarism in Glasgow 10 days ago, as I noted last week. Last night George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, spoke of the need to reduce the demands on government in order to fix our "broken society". Are they at last getting it? No.

Any suggestions that they might were dispelled by Mr Cameron's dismal performance on the Today programme yesterday, in which he gave a flat "no" to a question about whether, in the light of the economic downturn, it was the right time to abandon his party's foolish promise to match Labour's spending policies. Because Mr Cameron has learned nothing and has forgotten nothing he even trotted out, without a hint of satire, the old claptrap about "sharing the proceeds of growth". This means always spending more public money, even though it is clear we already spend too much. If you can marry this philosophy to Mr Osborne's about reducing demands on the state, you're a better man than I am.

Then, talking to the CBI, Mr Cameron made his most economically ignorant observation yet, about making it easier for bad businesses to avoid liquidation. He really doesn't get it. The late Prof Hayek wasn't being a tease when he said that bankruptcies were good because they drove inefficiencies out of the economy. He meant it, and he was right. Mr Cameron takes us back to Heatho-Wilsonian socialism, propping up lame ducks and wasting valuable resources that ought to be put to more productive use.

Some of you get cross with me for being negative about Mr Cameron, but this is an object lesson in why he isn't up to it. All around us is the monument to Labour's profligacy, its penal taxation and its addiction to welfarism. Mr Cameron holds out hope of a fourth New Labour term, only with himself as Prime Minister, continuing Labour's gluttonous public spending, coddling failed businesses and maintaining a massive state apparatus. Isn't Glasgow East proof enough of just how utterly poisonous that sort of thing is? Or does he seriously want us to have a lot more?


Communist Loser: Eric Hobsbawm, revisionist

BOOK REVIEW of "On Empire: America, War and Global Supremacy", by Eric Hobsbawm. It may be of interest to note that Hobsbawn was born "Hobsbaum". He is originally from Germany and is one of the large legion of Jewish leftists. He has said that he would well have been a Nazi if he had not been Jewish. Despite his vicious loyalties he is still much respected in British intellectual circles

Yes, Eric Hobsbawm is still at it. The University of London professor, it should be remembered and endlessly repeated, was an early member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and perhaps the most prominent scholarly defender of the Soviet Union in the West. He remained a Party member even after the 1956 invasion of Hungary, when most of his colleagues quit in disgust, and stayed until the very end of the twilight struggle, when, rather than quit, he merely let his membership lapse. Asked by a television host if "the loss of 15, 20 million people might have been justified" to establish a communist utopia, he unhesitatingly responded: "Yes." He remains an "unrepentant communist" to this day.

While the fall of the Soviet Union may have chastened Hobsbawm about the practicality of communism, it has not tempered his disgust for the United States. Now 91 years old, he has recently compiled four brief essays about America and "imperialism" into a slim volume. Hobsbawm predicates his critique on "the strength and indestructibility of my own political convictions"-but an argument presented nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, by a man too stubborn to own up to the fatal contradictions of Marxism and his own role in justifying them, is bound to have many problems of its own.

Hobsbawm's vituperation at American "empire," "supremacy," and "hegemony" characterizes this angry little book. In the preface, he notes that his lectures were written during a period "dominated by the decision of the U.S. government in 2001 to assert a single-handed world hegemony, denouncing hitherto accepted international conventions, reserving its right to launch wars of aggression or other military operations whenever it wanted to, and actually doing so." Elsewhere he attacks American global hegemony as exceptionally malign and historically unique. September 11 produced a national trauma that "enabled a group of political crazies to realize long-held plans for an unaccompanied solo performance of world supremacy"; these maniacs have carried out a "megalomaniac American policy," he claims. Hobsbawm does not appear to have marked the irony of such a passage's being written by an apologist for the Soviet Union.

Hobsbawm goes on to argue that the nostrums of the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia "were formally denounced by President Bush in 2002, namely that, in principle, sovereign states, acting officially, respected one another's borders and kept out of one another's internal affairs." It boggles the mind that a renowned international historian could maintain that the past 400 years of human history were marked by the existence of a widely agreed upon, not to mention respected, system of nonintervention in sovereign states' internal affairs that America somehow destroyed at the dawn of the twenty-first century. It's even more remarkable that an unreconstructed Marxist and defender of the Soviet Union could make such an observation-consider the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Brezhnev Doctrine, and Soviet-funded insurgencies from Angola to Nicaragua, to name just a few of international communism's manifold acts of aggression against free peoples.

Hobsbawm's hatred for capitalism is evident in his suspicion of unchallenged American power. "The currently fashionable free-market globalization has brought about a dramatic growth in economic and social inequalities both within states and internationally," he complains. He doesn't much care for the enormous benefits that capitalism has brought mankind in terms of economic productivity and quality of life; rather, it is the persistence of "inequalities" that matter most. Fine, he's a Marxist. But Hobsbawm doesn't let his criticism of capitalism end there. "This surge of inequality, especially in the conditions of extreme economic instability such as those created by the global free market in the 1990s," he explains, "is at the roots of the major social and political tensions of the new century." What about militant Islam, many of whose funders, ideologists, and practitioners are hardly lacking in purchasing power? Amazingly, there is no mention of jihadism in these lectures, a remarkable omission in a book that seeks to explain the twenty-first-century international order. More proof that Marxists really don't understand the importance of religion.

On Empire is not an explicit apologia for the Soviet Union, though it might as well be. Hobsbawm grieves for the loss of the Soviet empire less for the glories that it might have bestowed upon the world than for its ability to check the rapacious United States. After the fall of the great European empires, international communism was the last obstacle to America's present-day "global supremacy," he writes. International competition between the two superpowers "kept at bay both the danger of a global war and the collapse of large parts of the globe into disorder or anarchy." But there was a great deal of "disorder" and "anarchy" during the Cold War, inspired by Soviet meddling in all corners of the globe. And whatever "order" existed at the time came with a price for the peoples living under Soviet rule. Yet that price is one that Hobsbawm, like any good apologist and revisionist, doesn't care to discuss.

Western Cold Warriors should at least appreciate the Soviet Union for the stability that it provided and realize that its disintegration is the major cause of today's "world disorder," Hobsbawm argues. For instance, he notes the dramatic increase in the "number of independent states" in the world but laments that "a number-probably a growing number-of these political entities appear incapable of carrying on the essential functions of territorial states or are threatened with disintegration by secessionist movements." This is true, but it's hardly a reason to bemoan the end of Soviet imperialism. It should not come as a surprise that Hobsbawm opposed NATO intervention to prevent the wholesale slaughter of innocents by Slobodan Milosevic in the postcommunist Balkans. In this book, he describes that crisis not as an attempted ethnic cleansing on the part of a racist, expansionist thug, but as a "rebellion against Serbia of an extremist minority group among Albanian nationalists in Kosovo." The Gulf War, presumably, was nothing more than an insurgency against Iraq among fringe Shiites, Kurds, and Kuwaitis.

The last lecture in the book, entitled "Why America's Hegemony Differs from Britain's Empire," seeks not only to distinguish between the British Empire and the alleged American one, but also to show why the latter is demonstrably worse. What makes our global hegemony so bad is that "unlike Britain and all other European states, America never saw itself as one entity in an international system of rival political powers." Hobsbawm asserts that "Britain certainly had a strong conviction of its superiority to other societies, but absolutely no messianic belief in, or particular desire for, the conversion of other peoples to the British ways of government." American democracy promotion abroad-which, predictably, Hobsbawm sneers at-is worse than British imperialism, because our latter-day raping and pillaging of the world makes a pretense of goodwill whereas the British were, at least, less sentimental about their intentions. But this isn't accurate, either; the British may not have wanted to "convert" Kenyans or Indians to parliamentary democracy, but they certainly had altruistic justifications for their foreign exploits.

Like all totalitarians, Hobsbawm abuses language. For reasons that go unexplained, "peace" and "order" never existed within the British or American "empires," yet somehow they flourished within the Soviet realm. Hobsbawm adds obligatory scare quotes to the words "tyranny" and "freedom." He concedes that American military bases abroad exist at the behest of their host governments-unlike British bases during the Empire's heyday-yet he doesn't seem to understand how this consensual relationship might discredit use of the word "empire" in describing America's global posture. And if America is an "empire," then what does that make China, with its economic exploitation of Africa and suborning of the mass murder of Sudanese, Zimbabweans, and Burmese? Or Russia, which seeks once again to dominate Eastern Europe?

Hobsbawm is no doubt a prodigious and prolific writer. But after reading his latest effort, I'm reminded of something that David Pryce-Jones observed in a review of Hobsbawm's 2003 memoir, Interesting Times: "Lifelong devotion to Communism destroyed him as a thinker or interpreter of events."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Declining Reputation Of Affirmative Action

Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links

Missouri, you will recall, is the state where obstructionism by the Democratic Secretary of State and Attorney General, later declared illegal, and thuggish intimidation of petition signers succeeded in keeping the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative off the ballot this year.

It is easy to understand why supporters of racial preferences were so afraid to give citizens the opportunity to enshrine the "without regard" principle of colorblind equality into their state constitution. Racial preferences are so unpopular that there is no doubt about how citizens would vote, if allowed to by their Democratic office-holders.

Indeed, as I have commented before, racial preferences are so unpopular thats the term "affirmative action," usually thought to be more appealing (because it obscures the actual nature of preference policies) is itself rapidly coming into disrepute. As I noted (here) last month: The Kansas City, Kansas, Community College (KCKCC) is launching a new program to hire minorities, but for some reason it is reluctant to call this program "affirmative action."
Kansas City Kansas Community College announced this week they would actively seek qualified minorities to fill open positions at the college.... However, college staff stopped short of referring to the plan as "affirmative action." "We can only hire individuals for these jobs if vacancies are available," said Leota Marks, dean of human resources at the college. "We are not setting quotas and we're not planning to hire someone who is qualified just because they are a minority or female. But we know we have to take some affirmative steps and develop a diversified workforce."
Dean Marks, it seems, defines "affirmative action" as a program that sets quotas to hire people "just because they are a minority or female" for openings that do not exist. And people wonder why it's unpopular....

Lest you think the above view of affirmative action (by someone who both practices and supports it) is unique, note than now another official at another Missouri college has taken great pains to deny that his affirmative action policies are ... affirmative action policies. In doing so he once again unwittingly reveals the growing perception of what "affirmative action" entails. Lincoln Scott, Assistant to the President for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Southeast Missouri State University, has been in charge of recruiting more minority faculty.
At conferences and through existing faculty, Scott identified people who would be good fits. He spent hours on the phone. Eventually the university paid to fly in five people. They were shown the community and introduced to faculty members. "I don't want to use the expression `wine and dine,' but I gave them a good time," Scott said. The participants were encouraged to apply. Four out of five were hired....

Scott is quick to point out the none of the filled faculty positions were affirmative action positions. "We had jobs, we needed them filled, and we hired qualified people," he said.
Scott thus lets slip that an "affirmative action position" is one where no real vacancy exists; it is created in order to allow the hiring of a minority. Another reason Southeast Missouri's new faculty were not "affirmative action" hires is that they were all "qualified." That says volumes about how "affirmative action" is now understood, even by its supporters.

When talk is not cheap

At the end of the week, Saeed Jalili, Iran's nuclear negotiator, is scheduled to arrive in Geneva for yet another round of talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. It is unclear what the two have to discuss.

On July 4, the Iranians sent their written response to the West's latest offer to appease them. In and of itself, the offer, made by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany and communicated to Iran by Solana, constituted a major achievement for the Iranians. It promised civilian nuclear power plants, economic assistance, new airplanes, agricultural assistance, hi-tech transfers and a freeze on the expansion of economic sanctions against the nuclear-weapons-seeking mullocracy. In exchange for all of that, the Iranians weren't even required to end their uranium enrichment activities. To get the ball of concessions rolling, all the Iranians needed to do was promise not to expand their current enrichment activities.

If Iran were ever even remotely interested in reaching a deal with the international community, this was the deal it would have taken. For the unspoken subtext of the agreement was that the international community is willing to accept a nuclear armed Iran in exchange for the mere appearance of Iranian willingness to bow to international pressure. As David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, explained to Newsweek last week, at their current, known level of uranium enrichment the Iranians are producing 1.2 kg. of enriched uranium a day. And at this enrichment level, they will be able to produce a nuclear bomb by next year. So the international community's willingness to accept continued Iranian uranium enrichment at current levels is a clear signal of the international community's willingness to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

And yet, that offer still wasn't good enough for the Iranians. Their written response didn't even discuss the issue of uranium enrichment. They just asked for more concessions in exchange for nothing. And now they believe that their "counterproposal" should form the basis of this week's round of discussions.

As Iran submitted its response to the offer, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dispatched his foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati to the media to discuss Iran's interest in accepting the West's offer. The Western media and some EU officials were so thrilled by the gesture that the immediate coverage of Iran's response lent the impression that Iran had in fact accepted the offer.

IT WAS only two days later, after those same officials sat down and read what the Iranians wrote that they realized that they had been tricked. And just to be sure that there was no residual optimism, senior Iranian leaders like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manoushehr Mottaki stated clearly that they would never accept any deal that places limitations on their uranium enrichment.

After verbally snuffing out all hopes for an agreement, Iran proceeded to show off its military prowess by testing ballistic missiles last week and augmenting those tests with verbal threats to destroy Israel and attack all US bases in the Middle East.

And still despite all of this, Solana looks forward to his meetings this Saturday with Jalili with hope for an accommodation. After Iran rejected a deal that effectively offered it acceptance as a nuclear-armed state, he still believes that the best way to deal with Iran's clear intention to acquire and use nuclear weapons is to offer it membership in the World Trade Organization.

Solana's unshakeable faith that Iran can be appeased is to be expected. After all, Solana was on the first flight to Teheran to begin negotiating with the mullahs the minute that Iran's nuclear program was exposed five years ago. And he's been running the talks ever since - first for France, Germany and Britain, and then starting last May, for the US as well. Solana cannot acknowledge that the talks have failed. He is too personally invested in them to admit that Iran has been using him as the diplomatic fig leaf behind which it has pushed forward with its nuclear bomb program.

SOLANA IS a perfect example of why the oft repeated policy mantra "there's never any harm in talking" is incorrect. The basic idea behind that assertion is that negotiations can never cause damage, they can only do good - by resolving a conflict without being forced to resort to force. But they can and often do cause tremendous harm - and to the wrong side.

If Europe's initial justification for negotiating with Iran was that it wished to convince Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, over time that justification gave way to a more basic justification - to deny that the talks had failed. That is, after it became clear that the talks would not succeed in engendering a change in Iran's behavior, the parties involved changed their focus from Iran to themselves. The talks were about them. And if the talks failed, it wasn't because Iran refused to listen to reason. It was because the West hadn't given it a good enough offer. So just by engaging Iran and its ilk, these Westerners were transformed from Western representatives to the Iranian regime to advocates of the Iranian regime in the West.

As a result it has become nearly impossible to have coherent discussion about the Iranian nuclear program. For when the "experts" are called to tell us how to proceed in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, they instead exhort us to engage at ever higher levels with the Iranians in order to show them our good intentions toward them.

And of course, it isn't only Iran that is benefitting from the West's false belief in the harmlessness of negotiations. Iran's proxies in Syria and Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority are also prospering thanks to the West's belief that negotiations can only do good.

THE LATEST display of this Western preference for the pomp of accommodation over the responsibility of confrontation was French President Nicolas Sarkozy's Mediterranean summit in Paris this week. The purpose of the parley, which Sarkozy has been trying to organize since entering office last May, was to project himself as a global leader in international affairs and to project France as an important country in Europe and throughout the world.

Although the summit - like the Barcelona and Madrid summits before it - was officially focused on building economic cooperation among the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and Europe, its actual purpose was to propel France to the position of peacemaker between Israel and its neighbors, and specifically between Israel and Syria. And to do this, the success or failure of the entire conference was contingent upon Syrian President Bashar Assad's willingness to participate and sit in the same room as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

To bring Syria on board, Sarkozy was compelled to accept the Assad regime as legitimate. And to do this, he needed to ignore the nature of the new Lebanese government, Syria's role in establishing it, Syria's support for terrorism, its feudal relationship with Iran and its role in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and a host of anti-Syrian Lebanese parliamentarians and journalists over the past three years.

Last Friday, just ahead of the Paris summit, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora announced that he had formed his new, Hizbullah-controlled government. Saniora was compelled to abdicate control over Lebanon to Iran's foreign legion as a result of Hizbullah's violent takeover of the country in May. And Hizbullah justified its coup by noting that Saniora's pro-democracy March 14 movement in the Lebanese parliament had failed to elect a new president to replace Emil Lahoud, who completed his term last November. Of course, Saniora only failed to elect a new president because Syria and Hizbullah had murdered so many March 14 movement members of parliament that he no longer had enough votes to elect a candidate without Hizbullah's approval.

After Saniora announced his new Iranian-controlled government, Assad was quick to announce that he would be opening a Syrian embassy in Beirut for the first time ever. Assad's announcement was greeted with glee in the Elysee Palace and throughout the West. It was perceived as Syria's first acknowledgement of Lebanese sovereignty. But this is a false perception.

Syria's announcement was not a sign of moderation by Damascus but a sign of radicalization. Syria has not accepted Lebanon's sovereignty. It has accepted Iranian dominion over Lebanon. And in accepting Iran's control of Lebanon, Assad effectively acknowledged that today Syria is nothing more than Iran's Arab vassal state.

Rather than stand up for Lebanon in its hour of need, Sarkozy joined forces with the Bush administration and the Olmert-Livni-Barak government and pretended that Saniora and his pro-democracy forces are still in charge of the country. He pressured Israel to give Mt. Dov to Iranian-controlled Lebanon in spite of the fact that the territory is both vital to Israel's security and is part of the Golan Heights. And rather than boycott Syria for its role in destroying Lebanon, Sarkozy chose to embrace Assad as a peacemaker.

By doing all of this, Sarkozy argued he would place himself in a position of acting as an honest broker in talks between Israel and Syria. But of course like Solana in his constant struggle to find the right mix of concessions to convince Iran to only enrich small quantities of uranium, so Sarkozy's concessions to Syria served only to embolden Assad still further.

Assad agreed to come to Paris. But he refused to have anything to do with Olmert. And then, once he arrived in Paris, he gave an interview to Al-Jazeera explaining that he wouldn't sign a peace treaty with Israel even if it gives him the entire Golan Heights. As far as he is concerned, Israel has no right to expect him to normalize relations. And of course Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah al-Islam and all the rest of the terror groups living in Damascus are simply "resistance" groups and perfectly legitimate. And by the way, Iran, he assured us, is not developing nuclear bombs to the best of his knowledge.

So in exchange for recognizing the new Iranian-controlled regime in Lebanon and embracing Syria to the bosom of civilized nations, Sarkozy provided Assad with an international bullhorn to oppose everything that Sarkozy claims to be interested in achieving. But now that he's embraced engagement as his chosen strategy for dealing with Syria and Lebanon, he can do nothing but proceed with what he started. And so he committed himself to paying a state visit to Damascus by September.

Neither Sarkozy nor Solana are at all unique. Their associates in Europe, Olmert and his ministers, the State Department and most US political leaders support negotiating with rogue regimes that refuse to agree to anything except the West's need to make more concessions to them. And all of them, at a certain point, have claimed that those negotiations mustn't be endangered by more confrontational policies that might actually have a chance of advancing their national interests.


CA voters given chance to ban same-sex 'marriage'

CA black robes say proposed constitutional amendment will be on ballot

The state Supreme Court in California is allowing voters this November to consider a plan to define marriage as one man and one woman, a move that could overturn that same court's ruling in May that same-sex duos should be recognized as "married."

Jennifer Kerns, communications director for Protect Marriage.com, which collected more than 1.1 million signatures on petitions in support of the vote, confirmed that the high court today simply dismissed the pending challenge to having Proposition 8 on the ballot. "Obviously, the Supreme Court decision delivers a significant blow to our opponents," she told WND. "It does send a very strong message to our opponents that they won't be able to evade democracy which is what they've been trying to do by going to the court system. "They've been trying to keep the ballot issue away from the people of California," she said. "The people of California, back in 2000, by more than a 61 percent majority, upheld the definition of marriage [as one man and one woman]. I believe they will do so again."

Last month Liberty Counsel filed a motion to intervene in the case, asking the court to let the people vote on the marriage amendment. Liberty Counsel represents the Campaign for Children and Families and several individuals. The court action had been brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and several other groups against California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who already had certified the amendment for the ballot.

The amendment states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," and if it is passed, it will nullify the 4-3 ruling of the California Supreme Court issued on May 15 and would ban same-sex marriage in California.

According to Liberty Counsel, "The same-sex marriage advocates were seeking to remove the amendment from the November ballot, erroneously arguing that 'the rules for revising the California Constitution were not properly followed.' Their brief claimed that an initiative was not enough to put the amendment on the ballot, since it must also be approved by two-thirds of the legislature. The suit also alleged that petitions for the initiative, which were circulated prior to the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, were misleading because they stated the amendment would not change existing law and would not have a financial impact on the state."

"If the people have an opportunity to participate in the democratic process, they will vote for marriage as one man and one woman," said Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. "Those who push for same-sex marriage are willing to destroy both marriage and democracy to achieve a selfish result. Marriage between a man and a woman is best for our children and for our country."

California voters, long pushed by homosexual activists to legalize same-sex "marriage," in 2000 voted to establish the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. However, the state Supreme Court opinion in May overturned that vote of the people - which was established only in law, not in the constitution. The actual "ceremonies" between same-sex duos were launched in June. But the new amendment would establish the one-man-one-woman definition in the state constitution, beyond the reach of activist judges.

Staver told WND earlier those who opposed the issue being presented to the people were out of line. "They're suggesting the Supreme Court can rewrite the entire institution of marriage, but people can't amend the Constitution to go back to its historical definition," Staver said. "It's absolutely ridiculous to argue that courts can turn society upside down in 30 days, but the people have no right to define it."

Ron Prentice, chairman of the ProtectMarriage.com Executive Committee, previously told WND, "The people's overwhelming support to protect the longstanding meaning of marriage as between a man and a woman has been staggering. The California Marriage Amendment will allow the people of California, not politicians or judges, to reaffirm the definition of marriage by placing it in the Constitution."

Of 28 states where such an amendment has been considered, voters in 27 states - all but Arizona - have passed the amendment. A Los Angeles Times poll recently reported 54 percent of Californians polled supported the amendment, while 35 percent opposed it. A simple majority of the vote is needed to add Proposition 8 to the California Constitution.


Western society's war within is well advanced in Britain

It may begin with a chuckle, but it could easily end in tears. At least, if we are not careful. One may be tempted to scoff at the demand to legalise polygamy made recently by Khalil Chami of Sydney's Islamic Welfare Centre. But with the recent announcement by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that the adoption of sharia law in Britain seems unavoidable, the joke may turn out to be on us.

Britain provides an instructive lesson on the interaction between increasingly radicalised sections of the Muslim diaspora community and its Western host society. From Dundee to Dover, traditional British values, already weakened to the point of collapse by a decades-long elite infatuation with mushy multiculturalism and cultural relativism, cannot provide resistance against the growing tide of extreme demands by radical self-styled community spokesmen.

The same way that the claim of racism has been used to shut down any debate on cultural identity, immigration and social cohesion, so is Islamophobia increasingly used to silence dissent. To merely raise certain issues is to give offence, and offending sensibilities is a hanging offence in our postmodern times.

While radicals agitate, a politically correct establishment, at pains to prove how enlightened and tolerant it is, even if it means tolerating the intolerance of others, usually stands on the sidelines, if not actively cheering on another challenge to the ostensibly oppressive, hegemonic Western culture and polity.

In January last year, Britain's Channel 4 television broadcast a documentary on jihadi incitement in mosques throughout England. The material revealed by this undercover investigative report was quite incendiary in nature. One Saudi-trained imam called for British Muslims to "dismantle democracy" by "living as a state within a state" until they are "strong enough to take it over". Another Islamic radical praised the Taliban for killing British soldiers and argued that women who declined to wear the burka should be beaten into submission.

After the program was aired, British authorities wasted no time springing into action. The West Midlands Police lodged criminal charges, not against the extremist imams but against the TV network. Responding to a complaint by the Muslim Association of Britain, the police accused Channel 4 of inciting racial hatred by means of an ostensibly distorted documentary that demonised Islam. When the Crown Prosecution Service ultimately declined to pursue the matter, police referred the complaint to the British government broadcast oversight agency, OFCOM.

Earlier this year, an officer from the Wiltshire Police ordered a motorist to remove England's flag of St George from his automobile because it was "racist towards immigrants".

Stand-up comedian Ben Elton recently asserted that fear of "provoking the radical elements of Islam" caused the BBC to censor jokes about Muslim clerics. "There's no doubt about it," Elton said, "the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass."

This comes on the heels of a legion of other examples of often pre-emptive surrenders to yet unvoiced radical demands, such as some British banks withdrawing toy piggy banks or public institutions turning Christmas into an amorphous Winter Festival, all for the fear of offending Muslim sensibilities.

All this is rather ironic, since under the twin dogmas of multiculturalism and cultural relativism, all cultures and beliefs are meant to be equal. Like George Orwell's animals, however, some seem to be more equal than others. Commitment to cultural diversity all too often seems to disguise contempt for the dominant national culture that historically bound the society. No wonder such large sections of the British establishment don't offer any resistance to the claims of fundamentalist radicals.

The case against Channel 4 was ultimately dismissed and the broadcaster won a $200,000 civil judgment against the West Midlands Police. But even if sanity prevailed after much time and expense, the totalitarian echoes of this affair clearly have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. While a TV network has the requisite resources to wage a vigorous legal defence, less well-heeled victims of the thought police would be in real strife.

All this is worrying to the silent majority of Muslims who are not interested in political agitation but simply want to rear their families in peace, freedom and prosperity, so often lacking in countries where they or their ancestors have come from. It's hard to blame the moderates within the Muslim community for not speaking out more against the extremists when they see the establishment and the authorities so often and so easily buckling to radicals.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Friday, July 18, 2008

Christian doctrine offensive to Muslims, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Key elements of Christian doctrine are offensive to Muslims, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in a letter to Islamic scholars. Dr Rowan Williams also spoke critically of the violent past of both religions and Christianity's abandonment of its peaceful origins. His comments came in a published letter to Islamic leaders, intended to promote closer dialogue and understanding between the two faiths.

However they come just months after Dr Williams was forced to clarify comments in which he said some parts of Islamic law will "unavoidably" be adopted in Britain. The comments are also made as the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference begins in Canterbury. Up to a quarter of bishops are boycotting the event, as the Anglican Church faces continuing division over the issues of women bishops and homosexual clergy.

The wide-ranging letter, which covers difficult issues including religious freedom and religiously-inspired violence is in response to a document written last year by Muslim scholars from 43 countries. Discussing differences between the religions, Dr Williams acknowledges that Christian belief in the Trinity is "difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims". The Trinity is the Christian doctrine stating God exists as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and conflicts with Islamic teaching that there is one all-powerful God.

Speaking about the history of the two religions, Dr Williams said they had been too often confused with Empire and control. He said: "Despite Jesus' words in John's gospel, Christianity has been promoted at the point of the sword and legally supported by extreme sanctions; despite the Qur'anic axiom, Islam has been supported in the same way, with extreme penalties for abandoning it, and civil disabilities for those outside the faith. "There is no religious tradition whose history is exempt from such temptation and such failure." He goes on: "What we need as a vision for our dialogue is to break the current cycles of violence, to show the world that faith and faith alone can truly ground a commitment to peace which definitively abandons the tempting but lethal cycle of retaliation in which we simply imitate each other's violence."

The 17-page letter, called A Common Word for the Common Good, is in response to a letter from Muslim leaders written last September. That letter, A Common Word Between Us and You, was signed by 138 Muslim scholars to declare the common ground between the two religions.

Dr Williams described the Muslim document as hospitable and friendly and added: "Your letter could hardly be more timely, given the growing awareness that peace throughout the world is deeply entwined with the ability of all people of faith everywhere to live in peace, justice, mutual respect and love." His own dense and meticulous letter did not mention sharia Islamic law at all. He received widespread criticism from politicians and other clergy for his comments in February and later told the General Synod he took responsibility for his "unclarity" and "misleading" choice of words.


Self defence now legally permitted in Britain

Home owners and "have-a go-heroes" have for the first time been given the legal right to defend themselves against burglars and muggers free from fear of prosecution. They will be able to use force against criminals who break into their homes or attack them in the street without worrying that "heat of the moment" misjudgements could see them brought before the courts.

Under new laws police and prosecutors will have to assess a person's actions based on the person's situation "as they saw it at the time" even if in hindsight it could be seen as unreasonable. For example, homeowners would be able stab or shoot a burglar if confronted or tackle them and use force to detain them until police arrive. Muggers could be legally punched and beaten in the street or have their own weapons used against them. However, attacking a fleeing criminal with a weapon is not permitted nor is lying in wait to ambush them.

The new laws follow a growing public campaign for people to be given the right to defend themselves and their own homes in the wake of a number of high profile cases. In 2000, Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer, was sent to prison for manslaughter for shooting an intruder in his home. Earlier this year, Tony Singh, a shopkeeper, found himself facing a murder charge after he defended himself against an armed robber who tried to steal his takings. During the struggle the robber received a single fatal stab wound to the heart with his own knife. The Crown Prosecution Service eventually decided Mr Singh should not be charged.

Until now people have had to prove in court that they acted in self defence but the changes mean police and the Crown Prosecution Service will decide on cases before this stage. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said that people would be protected legally if they defend themselves "instinctively"; they fear for their own safety or that of others; and the level of force used is not excessive or disproportionate. He added the changes in law were designed to ensure the criminal justice system was weighted in favour of the victim.

Mr Straw - and other Labour ministers - have previously repeatedly blocked attempts by opposition MPs to give greater protection to householders. In 2004 Tony Blair promised to review the existing legislation after he admitted there was "genuine public concern" about the issue. But his pledge was dropped weeks later after the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke concluded that the current law was "sound". Two Private Member's Bills on the issue were tabled by the Tories around the time of the 2005 general election, but both were sunk by the Government. In 2004, a Tory Bill designed to give the public the right to forcibly tackle burglars was also rejected.

The new self defence law, which came into force yesterday, is contained in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and was announced by Mr Straw last September. He is understood to have decided new laws were necessary after he was involved in four "have-a go'' incidents, which included chasing and restraining muggers near his south London home. Opposition leaders said it offered nothing new and was merely the latest policy designed to appeal to core Tory voters.

In practice, householders are seldom prosecuted if they harm or even kill an intruder but the Act will give them greater legal protection. Nick Herbert, the Shadow Justice Secretary, said: "This is a typical Labour con - it will give no greater protection to householders confronted by burglars because it's nothing more than a re-statement of the existing case law."

Mr Straw said: "The justice system must not only work on the side of people who do the right thing as good citizens, but also be seen to work on their side. "The Government strongly supports the right of law abiding people to defend themselves, their families and their property with reasonable force. This law will help to make sure that that right is upheld and that the criminal justice system is firmly weighted in favour of the victim.

"Dealing with crime is not just the responsibility of the police, courts and prisons; it's the responsibility of all of us. Communities with the lowest crime and the greatest safety are the ones with the most active citizens with a greater sense of shared values, inspired by a sense of belonging and duty to others, who are empowered by the state and are also supported by it - in other words, making a reality of justice. "These changes in the law will make clear - victims of crime, and those who intervene to prevent crime, should be treated with respect by the justice system. We do not want to encourage vigilantism, but there can be no justice in a system which makes the victim the criminal."

It came as it emerged that homeowners could have to wait up to three days after reporting a crime to see a police officer, according to a leaked draft of the Policing Green Paper. It sets out new national standards for local policing for all 43 forces cross England and Wales. Callers to the police will be given set times within which officers will attend an incident. The paper says that this will be "within three hours it if requires policing intervention or three days if there is less immediate need for a police presence." However, the Home Office would not comment on the plans.


Depressing Poll (And Pollsters) On Racial Divide

Post below recycled from Discriminations . See the original for links

The most recent CBS/New York Times poll on the racial divide in the U.S. (actually, more like a chasm) is depressing, as is the NYT's article about the poll. You'll need to read the article/poll for yourself. They stop just short of portraying a stark racial divide on absolutely everything. Thus, almost surprisingly, no evidence is presented showing a racial disagreement over whether the sun rises in the east. I will leave it to others to analyze the poll's techniques and methodology, with one exception: the question on affirmative action was maddeningly, although not unexpectedly, obfuscatory and slanted:
55. In order to make up for past discrimination, do you favor or oppose programs which make special efforts to help minorities get ahead?
44% of whites favor this version of "affirmative action"; 48% oppose. 80% of blacks favor; 13% oppose. 73% of Hispanics favor; 21% oppose. In addition to being misleading, and thus producing misleading results, this formulation of the question is quite odd, inasmuch as special treatment of minorities "[i]n order to make up for past discrimination" has been regarded as unconstitutional, at least in higher education, ever since Bakke (except in cases where such treatment has been allowed as a remedy for proven discrimination by a specific defendant).

In addition, asking people whether they favor or oppose "programs which make special efforts to help minorities get ahead" is too broad a question to reveal anything useful. Almost everyone would favor at least some "special efforts," and similarly almost everyone would oppose some other "special efforts." Most people, if they thought about it, would need to know some details about the "special efforts" at issue in order to say anything meaningful about whether they favored or opposed them.

Based on other polls, I believe it's clear beyond cavil that changing "special efforts" to "preferential treatment based on their race" would have produced a substantial majority in opposition. On the other hand, if the question concerned support for non-discriminatory "special efforts," the majority in favor would be equally substantial. Good evidence for the above assertion can be found in the answers to the question that immediately followed the one on affirmative action:
56. Do you favor or oppose programs that make special efforts to help people get ahead who come from low-income backgrounds, regardless of their gender or ethnicity?
Whites favored such policies by 82% to 14%; blacks by 93% to 4%; and Hispanics by 85% to 10%. By using such a mealy-mouthed term as "special efforts" in its question on affirmative action, the CBS/New York Times poll has disguised, whether on purpose or not, the pervasive unpopularity of most of what is actually done under the rubric of "affirmative action," which is providing preferential treatment to some individuals based solely on their race or ethnicity.

No nonsense about Muslim taxicab drivers in Queensland, Australia

Company fires them if they object to dogs -- unlike the constipated proceedings in the USA

Some Muslim taxi drivers are refusing to carry blind and disabled passengers with guide dogs - because their religion tells them the animals are "unclean". Brisbane's Yellow Cab Company has been forced to sack drivers over their conduct towards passengers with assistance dogs. Bill Parker, general manager of the firm, said the behaviour would not be tolerated and penalties will be imposed if drivers disobeyed. The company has produced a booklet informing drivers of their duty towards blind and disabled customers with dogs.

Islamic Council of Queensland president Suliman Sabdia said dogs were considered a health risk for Muslims but "to use religion as a reason to refuse blind and disabled passengers is unjustified".


Wow! Reformation Christianity still lives in Sydney, Australia

It's just sentimentality on my part (although my own background is Protestant fundamentalist, I am an atheist and brought my son up as a Catholic) but I must admit that I still do enjoy smelling a whiff of the old fire and brimstone in the article below by immensely-influential Sydney Anglican clergyman Phillip Jensen. Beliefs such as his have transformed the world

Roman Catholicism is a very diverse thing and what you see in the Philippines is not necessarily what you see in the streets of Sydney. It has a Protestant face in the Protestant world. Recently we've been getting into the Stations of the Cross here in Sydney with World Youth Day in 2008, but not all 14 Stations of the Cross are going to be done, only I think eight of the Stations of the Cross - I can't remember the exact number.

The ones that are going to be done are the ones that are in the Bible, but the extra ones, like Veronica, well they're not in the Bible. They're not going to be done in the streets of Sydney. Now in one sense it is because they haven't got time, space and energy to do all of them, and in one sense it is out of courtesy to Protestants that they choose to leave out the ones that are not in the Bible.

But if Martin Luther came into Sydney and saw Roman Catholicism and its Stations of the Cross, he'd say, "Ah, they've cleaned up their act." So there are certain aspects of Catholicism in the Protestant world which are much more acceptable to where Luther would have been.

But no. Things are actually worse than in Luther's day because since Luther's day the Roman Catholic Church not only calcified itself explicitly against justification by faith alone, or the authority of the scriptures alone, or salvation by grace alone, etcetera; not only calcified itself against that back at the Council of Trent but since then you've had the Vatican I Council in 1870, which clarified the idea that the Pope can speak infallibly.

A faithful Roman Catholic would say, "Well, they're just saying what we've always believed," but in fact it was not until 1870 that it was ever said that this is really what the belief is. Since then we're not too sure how often the Pope has spoken infallibly but the one occasion on which everyone agrees he did was in the 1950s when he declared that Mary had been bodily assumed from the grave. Well, that's not in the Bible anywhere. And why would she be bodily assumed from the grave? It's all part of the Maryology that has come in. It has also identified the immaculate conception of Mary; that is, that Mary was without sin. Well, that's nowhere in the Bible.

So since the Reformation we've had the infallibility of the Pope, the sinlessness of Mary, the bodily assumption of Mary. These things show you that Roman Catholicism has moved since the Reformation - but it has moved further away from us, not closer to us.

NOW in Vatican II there was an opening up - people were "separated brothers" and things like that - but with all due respect to the genuineness of their attempts to be more ecumenically open - and certainly I'm appreciative of the sense of which we can live in a tolerant acceptance of each other - it was only a year or two ago that the Pope made quite clear that the Anglican Church, Presbyterians, are sects, cults; we are not the true church.

So you can't get salvation through us; you are moved into fairly serious deviation. And so Protestants can be very warm and fuzzy towards Roman Catholicism but it's not actually reciprocal. We are not really seen as God's people in Christ Jesus because the Pope is seen as the vicar of Christ. Now from a Bible-believing point of view, that is an appalling blasphemy because the Holy Spirit is the vicar of Christ.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Tension monitoring" i.e. snooping on local communities in Britain

The Hazel Blears the NuLabour former Home Office Minister who introduced so much counter productive bureaucratic red tape and form filling when she used to be in charge of Policing, Crime Reduction and Counter-terrorism, is at it again, now that she is inflicting a new Community Snooping policy onto Local Government.

She has just published a poisonous document entitled: "Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring" This seems to envisage the gathering of political intelligence on local communities, and on "individual troublemakers", not just by the Local Authorities and the Police, but by a whole host of public sector employees turned into Government spies:
37. The most effective way to do this is through establishing a multi-agency tension monitoring group, led by an officer/s from the local authority and/or the local police force. This should include key partners from the statutory sector (e.g. housing, community safety, education, fire service, health, probation/youth offending team, community workers, neighbourhood wardens and police community support officers, National Asylum Support Service), and relevant representatives from the voluntary, community and faith sectors.
The sort of data which Hazel Blears wants to collect and share :
Relevant pieces of intelligence might include:

quantitative data (e.g. police crime statistics and intelligence reports)

qualitative community intelligence from neighbourhood wardens, community workers, casework by local councillors and feedback from local community meetings and organisations

racially or religiously motivated offences or incidents

details of new arrivals, refugees and asylum seekers, and Gypsy and Traveller communities in the local area

gang and turf conflicts

neighbour disputes
Why does a dispute between two neighbours suddenly constitute "community tension", requiring reporting back to a Central Government Department ?

What is the definition of "political extremism" ? Anybody who disagrees with the Labour government ? It would be a disaster, of Northern Irish "Troubles" proportions, if the local police force were to be seen to be involved in party political or religious monitoring or discrimination, but that is exactly what they are being drawn into with this scheme. So is every Local Authority now going to waste money setting up its own "media monitoring unit" ?

This whole scheme appears to give the impression that the Labour government only appear to be willing to listen, and then to apply propaganda resources and other "community" investment, once there have been demonstrations, protests and violent incidents - peaceful lobbying and dialogue is ignored.

If you look at the sample "Tension Monitoring Form", it is obvious that such forms, or the central database of such forms, will not have enough detailed information to give a full, true picture of each "incident", but there will be sufficient details to create "guilt by association" and to stereotype a particular area unfairly, and to blacklist any individuals who might be directly or indirectly identifiable.

Note that there is no mechanism for error correction or appeal, and no sanctions against abuse of power by officials, who will be trying to use the exemptions under the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act to keep this all secret from the public.

The Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act are only cited, so as to advise how the rights of citizens might be curtailed through the use of exemptions e.g.
59. There are a number of exemptions from disclosure under the FOIA which could be applicable if a local authority wished to consider refusing disclosure. You may wish to take into account the possible damage which disclosure would do by identifying areas at risk of disturbance. If the identity of an area became known sections of the media might publicise this. This could in turn create an expectation of disorder.
Despite claiming that "personal data" should, ideally, not be collected, they neglect to mention that "personal data" includes data about a person who can easily be identified via a cross-check on another database or system.
54. As far as possible, the data provided under tension monitoring arrangements should not be 'personal data' ie it does not identify individuals and could not be used to identify individuals in conjunction with other information.
How can this possibly work in practice ? If there are "reports" of say, "inflammatory preaching" , how difficult is it going to be to associate those reports with known priests or imams at local churches or mosques?

The enemies appear to be, in part , "the media", and Hazel Blears and her minions are actually advising secrecy and coverups, and spin, rather than transparency and media and public friendly openness.

More here

The British nanny state again

Small shops are to be given some protection against competition from out-of-town supermarkets, Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, said. She added that this would help independent shops survive the credit crunch. Planning guidance is also to be changed to help prevent "clone towns" from developing with identical shop fronts. In future new shops will have to pass a "diversity" test to ensure that not all high streets look the same.

Under the new guidelines planners will be able to reject applications for large-scale, out-of-town shopping developments if they are likely to have a damaging impact on nearby high streets.

However, rural campaigners and the Conservatives have attacked the plans, saying that they could backfire, and end up damaging town centres.

The Competition Commission has been investigating the effects that powerful supermarket chains such as Tesco are having on towns. The commission found that many areas lacked proper competition between supermarkets, giving consumers a poor deal. It said the change in the planning guidance proposed by Ms Blears would be helpful and suggested a new competition test in the planning system to ensure more choice for consumers.

The Government will formally respond to the commission's recommendations, including the competition test proposal, in the next few weeks. One of Ms Blears' aides said: "Our priority is to ensure we do not see more and more stretches of the nation's high streets turned into bland 'every towns' where every high street has the same shops, the same look, and the same sterile feel. "We plan to give councils more scope to curb 'clone town Britain' and to block large out-of-town developments. We know there are currently tougher times on the high street."

The rule changes would remove the "simplistic" planning test that judged only if a need existed for an out-of-town supermarket. It will be replaced by a general-impact test that assesses the risks and benefits of new businesses on existing small shops and the town centre.

The guidance would require local authorities to promote consumer choice and retail diversity and recognise that the planning system can help to support small shops and the identity of town centres. It also keeps a "sequential test" that requires developers to seek the most central sites first.

However, the Tories and the Campaign to Protect Rural England warned that the loss of the need test could backfire and could further fuel the dramatic decline of greengrocers, butchers, bakers and fishmongers.

Graeme Willis, a CPRE campaigner against supermarkets, said: "These plans could take away the rights of local authorities to resist large supermarkets on the grounds of need. The replacement - a new impact test - could shift power from planners who could say 'no' to developers who could say 'why not?'"

The Conservatives' planning spokeswoman, Jacqui Lait, said: "These changes are being driven by Gordon Brown and will ultimately hit small retailers and worsen the problem of 'ghost town Britain'. A surge in out-of-town development will not be environmentally sustainable and will hinder urban regeneration."

Speaking at the annual convention of the Royal Town Planning Institute, Ms Blears said: "Town centres are the hearts of our communities. I want to see our town centres and independent shops busy and thriving. "I believe that the strengthened rules will guide future town centre development by giving councils the tools to attract investment, and protect and promote their high streets."

In relation to the debate over proposed "eco-towns", Ms Blears has been warned by MPs on the Communities Select Committee that it would be an "act of folly" not to spend some money on investigating the mistakes made with post-war new towns in the past.

Squeezed out by the big boys

Since it first opened its doors in 1946, residents of Withernsea, in East Riding of Yorkshire, bought most of their groceries from Proudfoot, the family-owned supermarket in the centre of town. As the "big four" supermarkets expanded their grip upon Britain's towns more and more independent shops went under but trade at Proudfoot remained brisk.

Then in 2004 Tesco came to Withernsea. Its first move was to send more than 6,000 residents vouchers offering an $16 discount for every $40 spent in the local Tesco store. Proudfoot responded with its own discounts but could not match Tesco. Sales at Proudfoot in the year following Tesco's arrival in town fell by 35 per cent.

The Proudfoot family were so outraged by what they believed was Tesco's "predatory pricing" policies that they tried to take the company to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Ian Proudfoot, who, with his brother Mark, runs the family stores, said at the time: "It is... an attempt to squash competition and dominate the catchment area." The OFT decided that Tesco's actions were not deemed "anti-competitive".

The store struggled on for another two years before finally folding when Aldi offered to buy them out. Mark Proudfoot thought it best to concentrate on the four other Proudfoot stores they still owned across the region. Since April, their stores have been reduced to three after Tesco took over the store in Barton-Upon-Humber.


Imaginary Courage

On business trip to Europe, while sharing a drink with a co-worker in the lobby of our Vienna Hotel the conversation was disrupted by a steadily rising thump of bass notes from the street outside. A minute or two later we could hardly hear each other over the staccato techno-beat and decided to investigate. Lo and behold we emerged outside to find the Vienna's first annual "March Against Racism and Discrimination."

Parading past on the historic RingStrasse were an assortment of unshaven grubby men, and their liberally pierced and tattooed ladies, stretching back as far as the eye could see. Huge vans filled with sound equipment pumped a deafening concoction of manic dance beats interspersed with otherworldly screeches and wails.

Blazoned across the front of these traveling discotechs were signs reading; "Say No to Fascism!; No Racism/No Discrimination!; with an occasional anarchy symbol tossed in for good measure. The protesters marched, enveloped in this sonic tidal wave, filled with self-congratulation for the righteous stand that they had taken racism in Vienna.

Meanwhile back in the lobby, Middle Eastern men, comfortably attired for the summer weather in shorts and tee shirts, stood next to their wives dressed in full length, jet-black burqas. Still an unusual site in America, women in this attire are relatively commonplace in many European capitals. I'm sure these enlightened fighters of discrimination marched past several of these ladies who silently watched them through the narrow slit in their garment.

And what did they think -- if they bothered at all? Probably something about tolerance and diversity, a rainbow of cultures, etc., etc. The idea that this subjugating half the human race to cover their entire body so that their connection to the world is reduced to dimensions of a mail slot somehow didn't register as "discrimination" in their minds.

Standing up to Islam, or more precisely the strain of Islam that traffics in burqas, honor killings, and compulsory marriage of teenagers, is a messy fight. It's a fight where the opponent sometimes swings back, occasionally with deadly accuracy. No, better to combat battles like segregation and apartheid; injustices like making black musicians stay in a different hotel than their white bandleader; or disgraceful bans on inter-racial marriage.

Except -- and here's the bitter pill for all my leftist friends to swallow -- those fights have ended. Sorry you were too young at the time. I know the movies and documentaries make it all look pretty exciting, but it's over.

Of course there are groups in the world that still segregate and discriminate on the basis of gender, religion and nationality. They say things like, "Israel is a one bomb state", or "Behead those who defame the prophet!" They terrorize Jewish students at public schools in Paris, they throw deadly riots on the basis of satirical cartoons, they even go so far as to summarily execute innocent people and publicize the event on the Internet.

How's that for an enemy of tolerance? How's that for a fight worth fighting? How's that for a stand that takes some guts and moral courage? But in the end these questions are drowned out in a wall of dance music and the good feeling that comes from taking an irrelevant stand against something that virtually everyone already condemns.

In reality, what the Left defines as discrimination is largely extinct and what constitutes real discrimination today is - thanks to their morally relative worldview - is off limits to even discuss. Meanwhile, back on the sidewalks of Vienna, ladies in burqas walk obediently behind their husbands, sweating in the warm summer sun, thankful for the fact that everyone is so "tolerant" of their unique cultural heritage.


The new Jews, and how we must defend them

We hear increasingly that Muslims are "the new Jews." Muslims are not "the new Jews." In Western Europe all of the non-Muslims, both the indigenes and other non-Muslim immigrants, are "the new Jews," -- though it must also be added that for the moment it is especially Jews in Western Europe who are "the new Jews."

For the most powerful current carriers of antisemitism in Europe are Muslims. 50% of the antisemitic attacks in Western Europe have been attributed to Muslims, who make up less than 5% of the population. And of course Arabs have many times shown pro-Nazi sentiments -- from Rashid Ali in Iraq, who staged a pro-Nazi coup, to Anwar Sadat, who was jailed by the British for his pro-Nazi plotting (while Nasser's brother-in-law distinguished himself after the war by publishing an Arabic edition of Mein Kampf), to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, who met with Hitler, expressed his enthusiasm for the Endloesung and, what's more, helped raise an S.S. brigade of Bosnian Muslims.

Muslims have been allowed to settle in every country of Western Europe, because of the ignorance, negligence, and simple-minded belief of the political and media elites that "everyone is essentially the same and wants the same thing." The people pay first for that madness; the elites will pay later on. Those Muslims do not accept the legal and political institutions of the countries to which they come, although those countries are far more advanced and better-run, in every respect, than the Muslim lands they come from -- lands whose failures, political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual, are a direct result of Islam itself. No, they come, essentially fleeing that Muslim disarray and misrule. But unlike those who fled the Nazis, or the Communists, they are not grateful. And what's more, they bring with them, undeclared, in their mental baggage, the very thing that was the main cause of the failures of their own societies, with their despotisms, and their inshallah-fatalism, and their encouragement of mistreatment of women and all non-Muslims, and everything else that makes Islam, in practice, what it is, and what we Infidels, though we may not quite understand the relationship of Islam to the behavior and attitudes of Muslims, recognize as the hideous mess that it all is.

In Great Britain, as in every other country of Western Europe, it is the Muslim immigrants alone -- not any others -- who pose a problem that is permanent, that will not go away, no matter how much tender solicitousness is shown them, no matter how much money is thrown their way, or how much bending-over-backwards to accommodate the most outrageous demands, or if not to accommodate them, at least not to treat them openly as outrageous, when everywhere those demands are made, and keep being made. They range from special hours at public pools so that men and women may not be together, or that even non-Muslim men may not contaminate a pool when Muslim men are swimming, to demands for prayer-rooms at airports, at taxi stands, in schools, at workplaces. They include demands for special treatment, that is, for Muslim workers (time off for prayers, or not being required to touch certain products, or not having to do this, or do that), and Muslim students.

They include attempts, successful in some places, to rewrite textbooks so that the history of Islam is not merely sanitized, but turned into an appealing and glorious tale, while the history of Christianity becomes one of monstrously exaggerating, and misstating, the history of the limited-in-time-and-space-and-goals Crusades. And when it comes to Jews, in ignoring or limiting the study of what has come, a bit too glibly I'm afraid, to be called "the Holocaust." Muslim students in France have refused to study this subject, just as they refuse to study the history of France itself, claiming it is of no importance to them -- mere Jahiliyya.

The point out these claims -- you can supply your own list, an ever-growing list -- is that even where the authorities sometimes come to their senses and deny those Muslim demands, the demands will never end, because Islam and non-Islam are not compatible in the Muslim view. The ideal of Shari'a flatly contradicts not only the American Constitution, but all of the major principles and achievements of advanced Western democracies, including the rights of individuals to free speech and freedom of conscience.

Look at Muslim attempts to limit any critical discussion or comments on Islam. Several translators of Salman Rushdie were attacked; at least one was killed. Theo van Gogh was killed. A member of the Dutch Parliament, Geert Wilders, and an Italian journalist, Magdi Allam, and the celebrated apostates Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan, are all living with Muslim death threats, threats that require them to change their lives, and for some of them to live in permanent hiding under permanent armed guard. The entire population of Denmark was threatened with death if the government of that country did not violate the most solemn right, the right to free expression, and punish those who had drawn, and those who had published, some cartoons of Muhammad. The entire Muslim world threatened to boycott Danish goods, as they have Dutch goods because of the appearance of a fifteen-minute film made by Geert Wilders, that save for a single question that he added, consists entirely of excerpts from the Qur'an and the Hadith, with not a word changed for effect, over accompanying videos from news stories showing Muslim behavior that corresponds to, and was no doubt prompted by, those very texts -- and hundreds of others just like them.

It is disgusting for Muslims to claim to have been victimized by this film and the cartoons, when it is they who have made it their mission in the Middle East to destroy Israel, and to kill, or expel, or reduce to the status of permanent dhimmis any Jews who remain. It is they who in the countries of Western Europe have been the main carriers and promoters of anti-Semitism. It is they who also have been quick to exploit the pre-existing antisemitism to further their misrepresentation of the Jihad against Israel and Israel's attempts to merely defend itself from a malevolent, inexhaustibly vicious and cruel enemy.

There is no other an immigrant population -- not Hindus, not Chinese Christians or Confucians, not Vietnamese Buddhists, not non-Muslim (or casually syncretistic) black Africans, not Andean Indians, not Siberian Tunguz from the frozen North nor Aborigines from the sun-baked South -- that poses the same problem. It is a problem that cannot be remedied or diminished, as the immigrants who are Believers in Islam are members of the "Umma" to which, they are taught, they must owe their sole loyalty.

Some, a very few, of those who call themselves "Muslims" but merely mean by this that they are not going to openly identify themselves as apostates but reject the ideology of Islam, and have no intention of attempting now or ever to change Infidel institutions, or to be hostile to Infidels, may -- but only "may" (because we never know when awareness of that "identity" may spur an embrace, a return, to what Islam inculcates) -- not represent a threat themselves. Nonetheless, and this is unpleasant to state but true, even those who may be the "moderate" Muslims of the only kind of "moderation" that could conceivably be of value to Infidels -- that is, those who exhibit a real and deep rejection of the tenets of Islam that support Islamic supremacism, and, therefore, support mistreatment of Infidels -- can nonetheless, by their very existence, that is by swelling the ranks of those who, in democratic societies, are assigned to the category of Muslims, may by that fact increase the power of the real Muslims by helping them, those real Muslims, exaggerate their numbers and therefore their ability to make pusillanimous politicians, the kind unwilling to see Islam as the permanent threat that it is to the laws and customs of an advanced society, to art, and to science, and to individual autonomy, but all too willing to bend to the dictates of those who are perceived to vote as a bloc, promote the goals of Islam.

And if Muslims all over the countries of Western Europe are a menace to the Infidels among whom they have settled in a way that no other group of immigrants has been, and do not cease to be a menace in the second or third generations but, rather, become ever-more militant (as has been seen in Germany, in France, in Great Britain), it is also true that Muslims have for decades enjoyed great favor in official circles. See, for example, Exhibit #1 in Great Britain, which is not The Guardian nor papers like it but, rather, the BBC, especially the BBC World Service. The BBC employs a very large group of Arab and Muslim staff members, and of non-Muslims who have, for ideological reasons -- antisemitism or leftist political views, or both -- been willing collaborators in the effort to present the Muslim view of things, above all in the misrepresentation of the Jihad against Israel. This bias had its effect. And elsewhere in the British press, and radio, and television, the apologists for Islam (who ordinarily overlap with the anti-Israel brigade) have been much in evidence, as they have in other countries of Western Europe.

The failure of Israel and of its supporters to recognize this has of course contributed to the steady blackening, over the past few decades, of Israel's image. That has had consequences for Israel, obviously, but has also helped to confuse the understanding of those Infidels who have been steadily misinformed about the Arab and Muslim Jihad against Israel. This has helped it to be accepted as a "nationalist cause" by these soi-disant "Palestinians," rather than as what it not only is, but always has been and always will be: an attempt to deny a non-Muslim people a state of their own, whatever its size, and whatever its inoffensiveness or even repeated demonstrated willingness to aid the economic well-being of its neighbors, as if that would somehow overcome what even successive Israeli governments did not realize cannot be overcome in such a way, not now, and not ever.

Every single country in Western Europe, whether it be ruled by the Common Law (Great Britain) or by Civil Codes, whether it have a long tradition of enshrining easygoing Tolerance as a kind of state religion (The Netherlands, Denmark), or possibly have become so solicitous of human rights because of a keen awareness of a fascist or quasi-fascist past (Germany, Spain, even Italy), has had the same problem with its Muslim population, differing only in intensity and scale, but in nothing else. Muslims who believe in Islam do not and cannot accept the political and legal institutions of non-Muslims. It is not what Islam teaches. It is not what Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, prescribed long ago -- and what he prescribed long ago, 1350 years ago, remains valid for all time and for all places.

Surely the people of Europe, despite their governments, and despite the Esdrujula Explanation -- the timidity and stupidity and rigidity and cupidity of their ruling elites -- have to act on this now, and not later. Either they will preserve their own ways, their own superior ways, their free and skeptical inquiry, their modes of artistic expression, either they will preserve, protect, and defend all of the material and spiritual achievements of their own civilization, against those who have only contempt and even hatred for that civilization (without knowing quite why, but knowing in some cases only that, as "Muslims," they must have such contempt, must act on such hatred), that is, either they will defend the civilizational legacy that they have so far done so little to deserve, or they will not. And if they do, they are going to have to recognize that the main threat is not "qitaal" or open warfare, but the slow and steady stillicide that drop-by-drop of Muslim demands, based on an unopposed and growing Muslim presence, that works away at, eats away at the foundations of Europe....

To sum up, as has been done a hundred times before, with the exact same sentence: "The large-scale presence of Muslims in the countries of Western Europe has led to a situation, for the indigenous Infidels, that is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous than would be the case without such a large-scale presence."

Though long, that oft-repeated sentence is meant to be lapidary. But the stone on which it is meant to be inscribed is that which should hang in public places all over Europe, or in the mental equivalent of such public places, so that something effective will at long last be done -- implacably, relentlessly.

There is another sort of stone, however, on which the same lapidary sentence might be written, and then read, in quite another spirit, a spirit of triumphalism, by not Infidels but by Muslims, at some future date. For as a famous writer once began a novel, there is "plenty of space on a gravestone, bound in moss" to "contain" -- well, to contain all sorts of things, including that would-be lapidary sentence above.

One hopes that such a sentence would not have to be placed on the tombstone of Western civilization, a civilization that could be undone by the initial indifference and ignorance and negligence of its political and media elites, and then further undone by the failure of the governments and peoples involved to do what they need to do, coute que coute, in order to defend and protect their own civilizational legacy, out of stupidity, or timidity, or cupidity, or rigidity, or some, or all, of this mnemonically-sdrujula'ed list. Numbers, "mere numbers," alas, do count. Demography turns out be a very large part of Destiny.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The penny drops: British equality laws `are now holding women back'

Maternity rights damage chances of hiring and promotion

The radical extension of maternity leave and parents' rights is sabotaging women's careers, according to the head of the new equalities watchdog. Nicola Brewer said that it was an inconvenient truth that giving women a year off work after the birth of each child - soon to be paid throughout - was making employers think twice before offering a job or promotion. The chief executive of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission was speaking to The Times on the eve of a speech in which she will call for a significant rethink of family policy.

Ms Brewer said that generous maternity benefits had entrenched the assumption that only mothers brought up children and failed to hasten a social revolution where both parents were equally responsible for caring for their family.

British fathers have the most unequal rights in Europe, entitled to only two weeks of leave compared with 52 for mothers. At the moment, nine months of maternity leave is paid, but this will rise to a year by the end of the current Parliament.

Ms Brewer said that calls to the commission's helpline from women who had lost their jobs after becoming pregnant suggested that they were paying a heavy price for their new rights. She said that her fears deepened earlier this year when the entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar claimed that many employers binned the CVs of women of childbearing age. Business leaders have criticised the new maternity laws, saying that they are a headache for employers and that it is difficult to plan the workforce if parents go part-time. But this is the first time that a criticism has come from an organisation that campaigns on behalf of women.

Ms Brewer said she feared that plans to extend the right to request flexible working hours until children were 16 could hamper women's employment prospects further. Of the one million parents who have made use of flexible hours so far, the overwhelming majority are women. "There has been a sea change on maternity leave and flexible work and we welcome that," she said. "But the effect has been to reinforce some traditional patterns. The Work and Families Act has not freed parents and given them real choice. It is based on assumptions, and some of the terms reinforce the traditional pattern of women as the carers of children." She added: "We have come a long way but after winning all these gains it is worth asking: are we still on the right track? The thing I worry about is that the current legislation and regulations have had the unintended consequence of making women a less attractive prospect to employers."

Although the latest legislation allows for the last six months of maternity leave to be transferred to the father if the mother goes back to work earlier, but that misses the point, she says. "The way it is framed means it is up to the women to transfer the leave to the man. It is not his right," she said. Ms Brewer said that it was not a case of taking away the new rights from mothers but of extending them to fathers. In her speech today she will ask why men should not be entitled to 12 weeks of leave on 90 per cent of their earnings following the birth of a child - the same as women.

She questioned the way in which the Government and opposition parties always tried to make a business case for each piece of family-friendly legislation. "Of course, there is a business case for these changes and many companies are going further," she said, "but this is a social argument as well as an economic one. There may well be a cost [to business], but as a society we are already thinking in terms of wellbeing as well as take-home pay."

Officials at the commission say that they are studying research from Sweden that has found that fathers who take up to two years off work after the birth of a child are 30 per cent less likely to get divorced. A six-month consultation exercise is to be launched today through the online chat rooms Mumsnet and Dad.info.

Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equality between women and men, said that she shared the commission's concerns about the effect of legislation on women's careers. "Under EU law employment rights once given cannot be taken away, so there is no point regretting past decisions," she said. "The Government should both better protect pregnant workers and introduce paid parental leave that supports mums and dads to share care."

The commission has in the past been accused of courting controversy. Trevor Phillips, the chairman, said in April that a lack of control over immigration had led to a "cold war" between rival ethnic communities. He also criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury for saying that Sharia should have a role in the legal system.


U.N. scheme to make Christians criminals

Sharia-following Islamic nations demanding anti-'defamation' law

Dozens of nations dominated by Islam are pressing the United Nations to adopt an anti-"defamation" plan that would make Christians criminals under international law, according to a United States organization that has launched a campaign to defend freedom of religion worldwide.

"Around the world, Christians are being increasingly targeted, and even persecuted, for their religious beliefs. Now, one of the largest organizations in the United Nations is pushing to make a bad situation even worse by promoting anti-Christian bigotry," the American Center for Law & Justice said yesterday in announcing its petition drive.

The discrimination is "wrapped in the guise of a U.N. resolution called 'Combating Defamation of Religions,'" the announcement said. "We must put an immediate end to this most recent, dangerous attack on faith that attempts to criminalize Christianity."

The "anti-defamation" plan has been submitted to the U.N. repeatedly since about 1999, starting out as a plan to ban "defamation" of Islam and later changed to refer to "religions," officials said. It is being pushed by the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference nations, which has adopted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, "which states that all rights are subject to sharia law, and makes sharia law the only source of reference for human rights."

The ACLJ petition, which is to be delivered to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, already had collected more than 23,000 names in just a brief online existence. The ACLJ's European division, the European Center for Law & Justice, also has launched its work on the issue. It submitted arguments last month to the U.N. in opposition to the proposal to institute sharia-based standards around the globe.

"The position of the ECLJ in regards to the issue of 'defamation of religion' resolutions, as they have been introduced at the U.N. Human Rights Council and General Assembly, is that they are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression," the organization's brief said.

"The 'defamation of religion' resolutions establish as the primary focus and concern the protection of ideas and religions generally, rather than protecting the rights of individuals to practice their religion, which is the chief purpose of international religious freedom law."

"Furthermore, 'defamation of religion' replaces the existing objective criterion of limitations on speech where there is an intent to incite hatred or violence against religious believers with a subjective criterion that considers whether the religion or its believers feel offended by the speech," the group continued.

Interestingly, in nations following Islam, the present practice is to use such laws to protect Islam and to attack religious minorities with penalties up to and including execution, the brief noted. "What should be most disconcerting to the international community is that laws based on the concept of 'defamation of religion' actually help to create a climate of violence," the argument explained.

For example, just two months ago an Afghanistan court following Islam sentenced to death a 23-year-old apprentice journalist who had downloaded an article from an Iranian website and brought it to his class, the ECLJ said. Other instances include:

Award-winning author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian Human Rights Commissions of vague allegations of "subject[ing] Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt" for comments in his book, "America Alone," the group said.

In Pakistan, 15 people were accused of blasphemy against Islam during the first four months of 2008, the organization said.

Another Pakistani man sentenced to life in prison for desecrating the Quran was jailed for six years before being acquitted of the charge.

In Saudi Arabia a teacher was sentenced to three years in prison plus 300 lashes "for expressing his views in a classroom."

In the United Kingdom, police announced plans to arrest a blogger for "anti-Muslim" statements.

In the United States, a plaintiff sued his Internet service provider for refusing "to prevent participants in an online chat room from posting or submitting harassing comments that blasphemed and defamed plaintiff's Islamic religion."

The ECLJ said, "The implementation of domestic laws to combat defamation of religion in many OIC countries reveals a selective and arbitrary enforcement toward religious minorities, who are often Christians. Those violations are frequently punishable by the death penalty."

The newest "anti-defamation" plan was submitted in March. It specifically cites a declaration "adopted by the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers" at a meeting in Islamabad "which condemned the growing trend of Islamophobia and systematic discrimination against adherents of Islam."

It also cites the dictates from the OIC meeting in Dakar, "in which the Organization expressed concern at the systematically negative stereotyping of Muslims and Islam and other divine religions." It goes on to cite a wide range of other practices that "target" Islam, but does not mention any other religions, and urges all nations to provide "adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from the defamation of any religion."

According to published reports, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights' 53 members voted to adopt the resolution earlier this year, with opposition from the United States and the European Union. At the time, Cuba's delegate, Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez, said: "Islam has been the subject of very deep campaign of defamation."

"They're attempting to pass a sinister resolution that is nothing more than blatant religious bigotry," the ACLJ said in its promotion of its petition. "This is very important to understand. This radical proposal would outlaw Christianity . it would make the proclamation of your faith an international crime."

"In his recent dissent on the Supreme Court's ruling on Guantanamo Bay, Justice Scalia said, 'America is at war with radical Islamists.' Never has this rung more true than today. Never have Christians been more targeted for their religious beliefs. And never have we faced a more dangerous threat than the one posed by the OIC," the ACLJ said.

On the Grizzly Groundswell blog, the author described the situation as, "The United Nations: 160 cannibals and 17 civilized people taking a majority vote on what to have for dinner."

The U.S. State Department also has found the proposal unpalatable. "This resolution is incomplete inasmuch as it fails to address the situation of all religions," said the statement from Leonard Leo. "We believe that such inclusive language would have furthered the objective of promoting religious freedom. We also believe that any resolution on this topic must include mention of the need to change educational systems that promote hatred of other religions, as well as the problem of state-sponsored media that negatively targets any one religion."


Foreign Courts Take Aim at America's Free Speech


Our Constitution is one of our greatest assets in the fight against terrorism. A free-flowing marketplace of ideas, protected by the First Amendment, enables the ideals of democracy to defeat the totalitarian vision of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. That free marketplace faces a threat. Individuals with alleged connections to terrorist activity are filing libel suits and winning judgments in foreign courts against American researchers who publish on these matters. These suits intimidate and even silence writers and publishers.

Under American law, a libel plaintiff must prove that defamatory material is false. In England, the burden is reversed. Disputed statements are presumed to be false unless proven otherwise. And the loser in the case must pay the winner's legal fees.

Consequently, English courts have become a popular destination for libel suits against American authors. In 2003, U.S. scholar Rachel Ehrenfeld asserted in her book, "Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It," that Saudi banker Khalid Bin Mahfouz helped fund Osama bin Laden. The book was published in the U.S. by a U.S. company. But 23 copies were bought online by English residents, so English courts permitted the Saudi to file a libel suit there.

Ms. Ehrenfeld did not appear in court, so Mr. Bin Mahfouz won a $250,000 default judgment against her. He has filed or threatened to file at least 30 other suits in England.

Fear of a similar lawsuit forced Random House U.K. in 2004 to cancel publication of "House of Bush, House of Saud," a best seller in the U.S. that was written by an American author. In 2007, the threat of a lawsuit compelled Cambridge University Press to apologize and destroy all available copies of "Alms for Jihad," a book on terrorism funding by American authors. The publisher even sent letters to libraries demanding that they destroy their copies, though some refused to do so.

To counter this lawsuit trend, we have introduced the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008, a Senate companion to a House bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete King (R., N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.). This legislation builds on New York State's "Libel Terrorism Protection Act," signed into law by Gov. David Paterson on May 1.

Our bill bars U.S. courts from enforcing libel judgments issued in foreign courts against U.S. residents, if the speech would not be libelous under American law. The bill also permits American authors and publishers to countersue if the material is protected by the First Amendment. If a jury finds that the foreign suit is part of a scheme to suppress free speech rights, it may award treble damages.

First Amendment scholar Floyd Abrams argues that "the values of free speech and individual reputation are both significant, and it is not surprising that different nations would place different emphasis on each." We agree. But it is not in our interest to permit the balance struck in America to be upset or circumvented by foreign courts. Our legislation would not shield those who recklessly or maliciously print false information. It would ensure that Americans are held to and protected by American standards. No more. No less.

We have seen this type of libel suit before. The 1964 Supreme Court decision in New York Times v. Sullivan established that journalists must be free to report on newsworthy events unless they recklessly or maliciously publish falsehoods. At that time, opponents of civil rights were filing libel suits to silence news organizations that exposed state officials' refusal to enforce federal civil rights laws.

Now we are engaged in another great struggle -- this time against Islamist terror -- and again the enemies of freedom seek to silence free speech. Our legislation will help ensure that they do not succeed.

Source. One can only wish Godspeed to the legislation concerned

There they go again, stifling free speech

Congressman Michael Capuano probably means well - and Big Government enthusiasts always try to sound like they really do - but I've never met the man, so I don't know for sure. What I do know for sure - because the Massachusetts Democrat said so himself - is Capuano thinks the rest of us are too stupid to figure out that a YouTube video of him or one of his esteemed Capitol Hill colleagues is not an endorsement of the commercial products or political candidates being sold in ads nearby on the site.

But don't take my word for it, here's what Capuano said: "Maybe they don't care if an official video appears next to a political advertisement for Barack Obama or John McCain, creating the appearance of an endorsement."

Capuano's "they" was the pack of howling Republicans protesting last week that, as chairman of the Congressional Commission on Mailing Standards, he was trying to turn his panel, which oversees official use of the congressional franking privilege, into an Internet censorship board. It wasn't just GOPers speaking out, as conservative bloggers and non-partisan transparency advocates like the Sunlight Foundation were also up in arms.

The brouhaha was sparked after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Capuano and his fellow commissioners (two other Democrats and three Republicans) to look into the issue of what congressmen can and cannot post on the Internet in their official capacities. Capuano reported back with proposed new rules (not supported by the three GOPers, by the way) that he said would require :

* "Official content posted on an external domain must be clearly identified as produced by a House office for official purposes, and meet existing content rules and regulations;

* "To the maximum extent possible, the official content should not be posted on a website or page where it may appear with commercial or political information or any other information not in compliance with the House's content guidelines."

Two things are crystal clear regarding Capuano's proposal. First, it all depends on how "official content" is defined and by whom. Second, said official content is barred from all Internet sites except those accepted as "in compliance." And somebody has to decide which sites comply. This has all the earmarks of a classic Washington power grab. Somebody identifies a problem and asks Congress to do something about it. After the problem is "studied closely," new rules are proposed.

But new rules have to be interpreted, so congressional staffers - AKA as legislative bureaucrats - get expanded authority to administer the new rules. Then special interest groups line up to game the new rules for political advantage and executive branch empire builders seek their cut of the action. And so goes another expansion of the dead hand of government regulation.

Since Capuano worries most about apparent commercial and political endorsements, here's a better solution: Remember those "Warning: The FBI will come take you away if you violate our copyright" screens that briefly appear at the beginning of rented movie DVDs?

Instead of a new congressional Internet censorship regimen, how about simply requiring all internet video posting of official content by congressmen to include a 30 second screen warning: "This video is NOT an official endorsement of any product or candidate."

Don't hold your breath waiting for such a simple solution, though, because the default position of most politicians in both political parties is to expand government. It makes them more powerful and important. Oh, they have lots of clich‚d rationalizations to obscure their expansionistic egos. My favorite is the one that we need more bureaucrats, higher taxes and increased red tape because the world is getting so complex. Does nobody ever wonder if maybe that's because politicians keep making it so?

Reminds me of Ronald Reagan's great question from his first inaugural: "But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?"



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New British Knife Rules Include Customer Screening

Post below recycled from Interested Participant . See the original for links

(London, England) Expected today, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will announce new knife control rules in an attempt to reduce the crisis in knife crime throughout the United Kingdom.
Ms Smith has written to police chief constables to highlight their powers under the Violent Crime Reduction Act to crack down on licensed premises that could be at the centre of unruly and criminal behaviour. The police are to force pubs and clubs associated with knives or guns to search people on entry, under threat of losing their licences.
So, before a person can enjoy a pint and a game of darts, he/she will have to be searched. Business-owners are being forced to frisk their customers for fear of losing their licenses to operate.

Home Secretary Smith expressed shock at the tragedy of knife crime and has vowed to "increase the visibility of sentencing" for knife crimes. However, she rejects the idea of sending knife criminals to jail, saying it's too simple a solution.

I'm perplexed. No, better yet, WTF! It sounds like Jacqui Smith wants to make it more well-known that knife criminals don't go to jail. Does that make a lick of sense to anybody?

Frankly, I believe there are people in Britain who would like to outlaw knives completely, as was done with guns. Unfortunately, there is one seemingly insurmountable hurdle to the banishment of all knives. It's called "the kitchen."

Something Is Ironic In The State of Denmark - Listen Up, America!

Another Independence Day comes and goes, with the usual fireworks, parades and patriotic tunes. Seems to me that we should be the happiest people on earth, given being blessed with living in the greatest nation the world has ever seen. However, a recent study found that Denmark is the happiest nation on earth, and America is 16th. A closer look at the study, the results and the two nations noted is interesting, amusing and revealing, to say the least.

The Study and Results

The study in question, headed up by University of Michigan political scientist Ronald Inglehart, will be published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Going back an average of 17 years in 52 countries and involving 350,000 people, its results surprised scientists who have long believed that relative happiness among societies is stable over time. In fact, 40 of the 52 nations saw a rise in happiness, contradicting what most scientists who study happiness believe.

Inglehart's team speculate that this rise in happiness is tied to those nations' enhanced economic situations; greater democracy; a sharp rise in gender equality and a greater tolerance of ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians in developed societies. Controlling for variables, Inglehart concluded that the happiest societies are those that allow people to choose how to live their lives.

If freedom, democracy and greater tolerance are strong factors in societal happiness, why was America 16th on that happiness survey? Part of the answer may be found in a recent Pew Research Center public opinion poll that found that 81% of Americans believe that their country is on the "wrong track," which is the most negative response in 25 years. Apparently, most Americans believe that this country has lost its way and is headed in the wrong direction.

Now, common sense dictates that if people think we are going in the wrong direction, the correct direction is where we have come from, which is the America that gave us the kind of patriotism, determination, assertive spirit, love of country, courage, integration, and international leadership of the past. Believe it or not, there was a time when the entire world looked to America for leadership, resolve, excellence and a blueprint for success. The America of that time did what was right, took the steps necessary, made the tough decisions and showed assertive resolve like few nations have ever done in history. It welcomed immigrants with friendly arms yet merely expected loyalty, contribution, respect and unselfish participation from them in return which, given the beautiful gift of living here, was a reasonable and generous offer.

What direction has this nation taken in the past decades? It is increasingly handcuffed by political correctness, emasculated by a pathetic need to be loved throughout the world no matter what and tragically hypnotized by a habit of ignoring its own greatness while blaming all of the world's ills on itself.

No wonder most Americans are unhappy. Half of them are dismayed to see their once great nation turned into a sheepish, confused, inconsistent and morally bankrupt free-for-all. The other half, in turn, are vulnerable sheep easily intoxicated by the mainstream media's anti-America poison. Lost in all of this is the simple fact that, despite America's relative "unhappiness," it is still the greatest nation on earth, despite its twisted self-perception.

The Two Nations

I was amused by the finding that Denmark was the happiest nation studied, and that the study then tied the relative happiness of societies to perceived freedom, tolerance and economic prosperity. While Denmark is a relatively successful industrialized nation, it is presently embroiled in a great struggle over immigration. It seems that many Danes feel threatened by a 4.8% immigrant population experiencing somewhere between 65% and 81% unemployment. Many Danes see these immigrants as welfare cheats who care little about the country that has taken them in.

So great is this concern that Denmark has seen some of the strictest immigration legislation in Europe, leading to charges of racism. These charges were not appeased by the infamous cartoons offending Muslims, or by a 60 Minutes report which practically depicted Denmark as a racist and intolerant society. So, you see, my friends, something is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark, but it is not racism. It is, simply, the same debate that has swept all industrialized nations. Namely, how do these nations deal with their immigration population in a manner that is compassionate, considerate and welcoming as well as reasonable, fair and protective of the nation itself?

Despite the cries of many in this nation who depict America as an evil monster which eats foreigners for lunch, history tells a different tale of the most welcoming, open and tolerant nation the world has ever seen. Such truth, however, is not popular among those who hate to give America its due and prefer to blame it for everything from world hunger to world pollution. America, they say, is arrogant, selfish, insensitive and intolerant. As usual, fools ignore history to serve their mindless, pathetic purposes. Sadly, the lazy listen to the fools most often because their rhetoric and drivel is most available, requires the least analysis and is served in the brightest plates for consumption.


As we pass yet another birthday for this great nation, we must ask how the great gap between its greatness and its perceived greatness developed. Why do so many so blessed people believe so fervently that they are so unfortunate to live in this great land, despite the evidence to the contrary?

One answer may lie in previous happiness research, which has found that relative happiness is an inherited trait. At one time, Americans inherited a tradition of pride, patriotism, resolve, personal responsibility, loyalty and love of country. Tragically, increasing numbers of Americans are now inheriting a negative, twisted, pessimistic, victimized, insolent, ungrateful, defiant and destructive perception of the place they call home.

Another possible answer may lie in a simple approach to life which is increasingly lost in this society. As God, flag, family and personal responsibility have increasingly been pushed aside in favor of a diluted, rationalized and arrogant insolence; this nation has stumbled from the path that fed its greatness. Like a pompous drunk lost in the woods, it boasts of its ability to play God and play with fire, completely oblivious to the mess it makes along the way.

The greatest irony is that precisely those who wail how wrong this country is are the ones who are leading it off a cliff. America's greatest gift to each of us is the freedom to see our lot as an opportunity or a prison; it is our choice and our path.

Happy Birthday, America. Land of the free, home of the brave and zip code of the ungrateful.


European windbags

On the day the Colombian military freed Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other long-held hostages, the Italian Parliament passed yet another resolution demanding her release. Europe had long ago adopted this French-Colombian politician as a cause celebre. France had made her an honorary citizen of Paris, passed numerous resolutions and held many vigils.

Unfortunately, karma does not easily cross the Atlantic. Betancourt languished for six years in cruel captivity until freed by a brilliant operation conducted by the Colombian military, intelligence agencies and special forces -- an operation so well executed that the captors were overpowered without a shot being fired.

This in foreign policy establishment circles is called "hard power." In the Bush years, hard power is terribly out of fashion, seen as a mere obsession of cowboys and neocons. Both in Europe and America, the sophisticates worship at the altar of "soft power" -- the use of diplomatic and moral resources to achieve one's ends.

Europe luxuriates in soft power, nowhere more than in l'affaire Betancourt in which Europe's repeated gestures of solidarity hovered somewhere between the fatuous and the destructive. Europe had been pressing the Colombian government to negotiate for the hostages. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez offered to mediate.

Of course, we know from documents captured in a daring Colombian army raid into Ecuador in March -- your standard hard-power operation duly denounced by that perfect repository of soft power, the Organization of American States -- that Chavez had been secretly funding and pulling the strings of the FARC. These negotiations would have been Chavez's opportunity to gain recognition and legitimacy for his terrorist client.

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe, a conservative and close ally of President Bush, went instead for the hard stuff. He has for years. As a result, he has brought to its knees the longest running and once-strongest guerrilla force on the continent by means of "an intense military campaign (that) weakened the FARC, killing seasoned commanders and prompting 1,500 fighters and urban operatives to desert" (Washington Post). In the end, it was that campaign -- and its agent, the Colombian military -- that freed Betancourt.

She was, however, only one of the high-minded West's many causes. Solemn condemnations have been issued from every forum of soft-power fecklessness -- the EU, the U.N., the G-8 foreign ministers -- demanding that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe stop butchering his opponents and step down. Before that, the cause du jour was Burma, where a vicious dictatorship allowed thousands of cyclone victims to die by denying them independently delivered foreign aid lest it weaken the junta's grip on power.

And then there is Darfur, a perennial for which myriad diplomats and foreign policy experts have devoted uncountable hours at the finest five-star hotels to deplore the genocide and urgently urge relief.

What is done to free these people? Nothing. Everyone knows it will take the hardest of hard power to remove the oppressors in Zimbabwe, Burma, Sudan and other godforsaken places where the bad guys have the guns and use them. Indeed, as the Zimbabwean opposition leader suggested (before quickly retracting) from his hideout in the Dutch embassy -- Europe specializes in providing haven for those fleeing the evil that Europe does nothing about -- the only solution is foreign intervention.

And who's going to intervene? The only country that could is the country that in the last two decades led coalitions that liberated Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Having sacrificed much blood and treasure in its latest endeavor -- the liberation of 25 million Iraqis from the most barbarous tyranny of all, and its replacement with what is beginning to emerge as the Arab world's first democracy -- and having earned near-universal condemnation for its pains, America has absolutely no appetite for such missions.

And so the innocent languish, as did Betancourt, until some local power, inexplicably under the sway of the Bush notion of hard power, gets it done -- often with the support of the American military. "Behind the rescue in a jungle clearing stood years of clandestine American work," explained The Washington Post. "It included the deployment of elite U.S. Special Forces ... a vast intelligence-gathering operation ... and training programs for Colombian troops."

Upon her liberation, Betancourt offered profuse thanks to God and the Virgin Mary, to her supporters and the media, to France and Colombia and just about everybody else. As of this writing, none to the United States.


Death-wish values in Oregon

I am on the MAX Red Line light rail car going from downtown Portland to the Airport. Some things socialists do better. Among them are public transportation, recycling, French poetry readings, yoga, coffee, artisan food and arthouse cinema. Would it that the counterscale were not so much more loaded.

We are leaving Zinnlandia, after all - that great land of the Pacific Northwest, rich in good wine, including zinfandel, and other bounties of nature. Howard Zinn and his doppelg,nger, Noam Chomsky, are to the coastal zones of this blessed land what St. Patrick is to the Emerald Isle. And, like Finlandia, Jutlandia and Hollandia, Zinnlandia too has much Northern European DNA. Zinnlandia is in Amerikka - that racist, capitalist land of injustice, sexism, specieism, lookism, theism, militarism and homophobia. As a material and cultural Marxist, and skillful propagandist, Zinn - a master of sieving American history for its worst nuggets - is the perfect avatar for the self-flagellating white inhabitant of this land.

A Zinnlandian I met on this trip, a WASP physician endowed with the best education much money can buy, told me that he does not celebrate July 4th because the Declaration of Independence had been written by a slave owner and signed by other slave owners. He was just as hotly critical of the "racism" of Americans in dealing with the growing Muslim immigrant minority. The conversation unfolded over a bottle of Oregon Vino Pinko, with the likeness of a notorious Cuban mass murderer on the label.

Besides the pervasive lefty obtuseness as to the true nature of Che Guevara, there is one central paradox in this Zinnlandian, as there is in all of them. In the case of the good doctor, he donates his time and money to schools and clinics in Tanzania, where he has visited several times. And Tanzania, particularly Zanzibar, is a living memorial to the horrors of slave trafficking by Moslem Arabs and black Africans -- far larger and crueler than the slave trade that soiled the New World, preceding it by a thousand years, evident still in the 1960s, and ended only due to Western insistence.

So we have here a mind twisted into self-contradicting loops designed to screen out everything good about "us" and everything bad about "the other." This particular dhimmi-in-training has managed not only to block out all the greatness and goodness of the American Founding Fathers, and the merits of the nation that they launched, but also to overlook that his favorite country, Tanzania, exemplifies the horrors he purports to abhor and that, unlike America, it has hardly any countervailing merits.

Behavioral psychology has names for various information perception and analysis biases, but at least fifteen of those would have to be added to encompass the depth and width of the Zinnlandian's - let's not beat around the bush - craziness. Take, among others, the Bias Blind Spot, add some Omission Bias and Selective Perception, leaven with white racial guilt propaganda. Whip that into a mixture of Belief Bias, Selective Memory, Bandwagon Effect, Deformation Professionnelle and Disconfirmation Bias. Pour the mixture into a pie shell made of Neglect of Probability, My Side Bias, Optimism Bias and Positive Outcome Bias, and bake for 30 years in an oven designed specifically by mainstream media and the educational system to make that kind of dough rise. Voila!....

Of the 26 riders in my light rail car, three seem Latino. One, who looks illegal to me, sleeps sprawled over a fat, natural blonde. The other two are more established, judging from their new shaves and clothes and their $150 Timberland boots. This in contrast to the rest of the passengers, all lower middle class whites, half of whom wear flip-flops. Such flimsy footwear on people who will soon be shuffling in long security lines and dragging heavy suitcases through crowded airports bespeaks of thoughtless insouciance. These people cannot imagine a hard heel stepping on their exposed toes, let alone a soft "diversity," voluntarily imported, rising to stomp on their faces, one day.

Starting right here, in this car. "An assault by five teenagers on a North Portland MAX train this week revived worries about mass transit safety since several high-profile incidents last winter," reads the opening paragraph in The Oregonian's news today. The story goes on, "Teenage boys and girls punched, used racial epithets and stole the purse of a 28-year-old Vancouver woman who was taking her first-ever MAX ride early Monday evening. The woman, who is white, had just had a conversation with the teens, who are African American and were harassing another woman".

It's uncharacteristic for the progressive press of this progressive town - just what are they progressing toward? - to disclose the racial identity of violent perps, since this could dent the very foundation on which Zinnlandia and all postmodern Western civilization are built on: that all people, and all racial, ethnic, gender and national groups of people, are equal in their proclivities, abilities and merits, and are equally deserving of uncritical acceptance. They just have different "narratives," you see. But it's interesting how gingerly the racial identity is mentioned, when it is, with what curious, for a newspaper, waste of words. The story could have opened, after all, "An assault by five black teenagers on a North Portland MAX train this week. etc".

As to the "several high-profile incidents last winter," the story is less forthcoming. The reader is reminded that "a 16-year-old boy" was just sentenced to 91/2 years in prison for pounding a 71 year-old man with a baseball bat at another stop of this rail system. The account does not mention that the "boy's" name was Abel Chavez-Garcia and his smashing the old (and white) man, Laurie Lee Chilcote, to pulp was also accompanied by racial taunts. One has to fish through another article to find out about the hoodlum that he is an illegal alien. And it takes yet another, much earlier article to find out that Mr. Chilcote, whom the savage "Hispanic" punk has gifted with, among others, partial paralysis, double vision, dimmed hearing and a speech impediment is so brainwashed, good Oregonian that he is, that the only question he voiced after the attack was "what would make a teenager swing a baseball bat at an elderly man." (1)

The story then goes on to remind the reader that "Weeks after the beating, a 19-year-old man was stabbed in the chest at the Rockwood Transit Center, and on Christmas Eve a woman was groped at a MAX stop in Gresham." Curious about the identity of the stabber and the groper I do a little research on my laptop, soon after arriving at the Departures lounge of the PDX Airport terminal.

The groper - and it was a full-fledged assault - was a Mario Santiago-Montelongo. More extensive research, later, reveals that Santiago-Montelongo, who got 22 months in prison for this assault, is a Mexican illegal immigrant (2).

I cannot find anything more about the stabber, though the report implies that the police are in possession of such information (3). But a paragraph mentioning this crime also informs that four days after this stabbing "Thaymon Earl Watson, 19, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for stabbing to death a 19-year-old in December 2006 at a Gresham transit station." So we have here another activist minority, though this one homegrown.

In the course of my 15-minute visit with Google, I also find out that on January 08, 2008 a Mr. Mynor Guerra Perez, 29, tried to force a woman into the trunk of an automobile and stabbed her in the stomach and left chest. The stabbing caused a lockdown at three Beaverton schools. Also on the same date, in the same supersprawling Latino magnet town, a 46-year-old woman was assaulted in her bed by a night invader. Although the man has fled, his sketch, based on the woman's description, leaves little doubt as to the wonders of the great mosaic of our strength in diversity.

A few months earlier, a 40-year-old was stabbed in the stomach on a crowded bus of the same transit system. Although it's certain that witness testimony was recorded as to the race of the stabber, the news report prefers to avoid a "sensitive subject," but still tips off the knowing by noting that the perp was wearing a white do-rag. The same television station reports of a fight on another TriMet bus: "When police showed up, they saw several people running from the bus and heard several shots fired." There must have been something else the police noted about the fleeing perps, but it's not disclosed.

And in Hillsboro, "police are looking for two teenagers who attacked a Gresham man near a MAX station last week. The teens reportedly followed him and beat him with their fists, rocks and chunks of concrete. The suspects are described as teen males, 16 or 17 years old." No, they must have been described otherwise too. And it's far from irrelevant. Also in Hillsboro, a "16- and 15-year-old" were arrested for attacking two boys near a MAX station. One of the victims had a fractured skull after being hit on the head with a hammer. Could there have been a common denominator for the attackers other then their teen age?

It seems endless. "Sixteen-year-old Joe Crane is afraid to ride Portland's MAX light-rail. Four years ago he was attacked on a MAX platform near the Lloyd Center. And recently he was jumped at night by three men, who pulled him off the MAX, kicked him in the head and stole his wallet, cash and cell phone." At the end of the story, there is a reference to surveillance camera footage "as pictured above." What's "pictured above" are three young black men pouncing on Joe Crane like beasts of prey on a cornered doe.

The article goes on to blame the transit police for its insufficient presence. Such arguments are now ubiquitous in the Portland media's editorials, demanding more funding, more TV cameras, better lighting, better inter-agency cooperation. Everything is discussed, everything is noted - except for the 10-ton rhinoceros wearing a tutu and, balanced on his horn, spinning pirouettes right in the middle of the room. For what is required is a better populace, not better lighting. And to have a better populace, its rotten part must be clearly identified, watched, and punished for every crime committed, to the full extent of the law. Punished and cordoned off from society, rather then left to the "compassionate" ministrations of the social saboteurs proliferating among the ruling, clueless and cowardly Western elites.

And inasmuch as young blacks and `Hispanics' in America produce a widely disproportionate number of criminals, a normal people would demand of its quisling leaders that police and security forces employ crime profiling - including by race, gender, nationality and religion - and that Hispanic criminals be headed off a lot more effectively at the border, rather than courted by US presidential contenders once they have jumped the fence. But we are still in denial relative to even the first part of the solution, identification. The media are either staying clear of the issue or engaging in its active camouflage. Mute white politicians, police chiefs and judges are being attacked vociferously for the disproportionate number of blacks in prison, as though that, per se, were proof of pervasive white racism rather than of pervasive black criminality.

America's presumptive president, BH Obama, and all black political leaders and TV talking heads distort every possible crime statistic, with no national politician, even from the allegedly "conservative" wing of the Republican Party, putting them on the spot for it. The black demagogues, and their enablers such as Mr. Obama, shift blame from black criminals onto white "racism," faults in the law and its application, society etc. The racial "healing" and coming together Mr. Obama sells on the stump is a veiled promise that inconvenient truths will no longer be tolerated, and a trillion dollars more will be dumped down the drain for a "cure" of the willfully imaginary social "causes" of black and brown crime.

For black and Hispanic crime is not the result of poverty or of racism. One is safe walking among the poor in Thailand, the disfranchised Ainu in Japan, or the downtrodden Jews still living among Moslems. Until the crazies took over Islam again, for the nth time in history, a white person could walk - and this author did walk- through the poorest sections of Arab cities without fearing for one's life. One may sometimes suffer violence at the hands of unemployable young sociopaths in white-only precincts of Birmingham or Bratislava, but murder and serial rape are not a feature of everyday life there.

Everyday, in the U.S., in Great Britain and elsewhere in the West, there are headlines attesting to barbarity, reflexive violence, lack of any moral restraints and grave societal danger posed by large numbers of blacks, Mexicans and Central Americans, Albanians and other Moslem immigrants living among people of Euro-Christian ancestry. When one reads a headline, "Pack of cigarettes ignites 200-person ruckus at Fort Myers gas station," it no longer matters whether the race is mentioned or the photos shown, because everyone knows. Or does he?

Two young white men in Dallas are locking up their fledgling recording studio. The men and the studio are devoted to Christian causes. Two young black men drive up and ask for a cigarette. A conversation develops that lasts 30 minutes. With this man, who then pulls out a gun and executes the white innocents for a take of $2.

For white Westerners born in the last 50 years are all honorary Zinnlandians. They have grown up indoctrinated to squash their own survival impulses, to be ashamed for preferring their own people and culture, to admire the "authentic" and "noble" savage.....

Perhaps the time has come to give more attention to the existential AIDS that has disabled the immune system of the West. There is nothing intrinsically worse about Moroccans, Mexicans or Memphis blacks than there was in 1950. What has changed is the cultural immune system of the Euro-ethnics around the world. The Moroccan in 1950 did not live in Amsterdam, and the Mexican did not in Portland. They wouldn't and couldn't. The black was in Memphis then and now, but in 1950 he had the church if he was a good man, and long-term, harsh prison if he was not. Nowadays such institutions grate on the Zinnlandian sensibility.

Opportunistic infections do not penetrate but decaying organisms. Non-discrimination as the central organizing principle of Western society does to a body politic what AIDS does to a living body.

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Monday, July 14, 2008

Why I Feel Absolutely No White Guilt

Father Pfleger epitomizes those Caucasians who regard their history with scorn. Here's why I don't join in the self-flagellation

by Bernard Chapin

Like practically everything else involving Barack Obama, outrage over his association with Father Michael Pfleger quickly dissipated. The subsiding furor over the incident evidenced once again that the mainstream media loves the Democratic frontrunner in an unsavory fashion. It also illuminates the way in which Obama's past clashes resoundingly with who he claims to be. To our elites, forgiveness is the perpetual rule in regards to the Illinois senator. They may soon dismiss those who mention the clergymen's demagoguery with charges of "that's so May 2008? or "get a life."

Well, most of us have a life but for those who have "moved on," please recall Father Pfleger's sweltering Memorial Day weekend sermon at Trinity United Church, with theatrics so unusual that they got posted all over the internet. His antics appeared to have long-term implications as they led to Obama parting ways with his racialist church. Additionally, they resulted in a suspension for the St. Sabina's pastor. This sounded promising initially but the hierarchy of the Catholic Church soon reinstated him. Once again there are "no restrictions" on his speech. The Chicago Sun-Times effused - in a peppy and triumphant dispatch - over the priest's return to his congregation. The reporter covering the event compared him to Rocky, celebrated his "pugilistic resistance," and concluded that "what didn't kill him seems to have made him stronger."

Alas, if only that were true for his fellow citizens. The racism of Pfleger and his ilk debilitates the nation on a daily basis. Independent of his link to Obama, the Pfleger imbroglio remains topical because it highlights the sick phenomenon of Caucasians regarding themselves and their history with scorn. Journalists scrutinized only his derogatory comments about Hillary Clinton and ignored the more inflammatory portions of his spoken word performance. In the sentences that preceded the well-known segment, Pfleger lobbied for universal white guilt:
. honest enough to address the one who says, "Well, don't hold me responsible for what my ancestors did." But you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did and unless you are ready to give up the benefits, throw away your 401 fund, throw away your trust fund, throw away all the money you put into the company you walked into because your daddy and your granddaddy and your great-granddaddy, unless you're willing to give up the benefits then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation cause you are the beneficiary of this insurance policy! We must be honest enough to expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head. I said before I don't want this to be political because, you know, I'm very unpolitical.
Of course, practically every word of the diatribe was false, but it is essential for white Americans to respond to calumny and vindicate their names and heritage. Those who do not take Pfleger's brand of defamation seriously are doomed. The left has gained the moral high ground, perception-wise, over the last forty years due to the right having vacated it. The lies disseminated about conservatives are completely specious; however, a multitude of voters believe these falsehoods due to the Republican Party's ineffectual responses.

The GOP will be very dead should their politicians continue to deem themselves "above" the fray. To succeed in politics one must do battle and emerge victorious. Turning the other cheek allows pseudo-liberals to write a societal narrative wherein we are the scourge of humanity and the eternal enemies of "social justice," the ecosystem, and civil rights. We must defend ourselves.

Therefore, there's no reason to move on in regards to Father Pfleger. His entire monologue consisted of nothing more than slander. Obviously, had my ancestors committed wrongs I would not be responsible for them, but, as is true for millions of my fellow citizens, my antecedents oppressed no one. Before 1910, more than four decades after the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment, not one relative of mine dwelled on these shores. Thus, the priest's allegations are not only absurd but are no more applicable to me than a directive from the head of the Lindsay Lohan fan club.

Just as with countless readers, my ancestors were thoroughly impoverished in Europe, which caused them to trade in their trinkets and buy passage to the new world. Had the old world esteemed my family members then they would have never boarded those boats.

One of my grandfathers migrated to Detroit in the 1920s from Ireland via Canada. His hands were needed in the fields so he became a second-grade dropout. The woman he married was the brains of the family because she was fortunate enough to have received nine years of formal education. She bore him eight children as he toiled at Ford Motor Company. Granddad never accepted promotion because he feared losing his union membership. My mother was the only of his offspring to attend college. Her enrollment was made possible by a marching band scholarship rather than dividends from a trust fund. Upon death, my grandfather left medical bills as opposed to ownership in a company or the riches of a 401k account.

My other grandfather hailed from Russia. Unlike American blacks who, before the Brown v. Board of Education decision, received a segregated and inferior education, my father's father received no education whatsoever. He never attended a day of school in his life. He passed through Ellis Island and maintained a thick Russian accent until dying at age 88 (he attributed his longevity to giving up cigars at age 75). When I was a kid my grandfather used to send me birthday cards with a signature alone affixed to them. How literate he was I cannot say. When he passed away he left my father absolutely nothing. Over the course of his life, his economic output was inconsistent and often illegal. He married three times and departed the earth as financially barren as he was upon entering it.

In lieu of our antecedents, from what insurance policy did my mother and father benefit? The one person who definitely cannot answer that question is Father Michael Pfleger. When he gazes upon his countrymen he sees only theoretical constructs in a lowbrow postmodernist parlor game that he assembled. Did Pfleger ever meet any men like my grandfathers? Does he even know that such people existed?

He is wrong about everything as there is no "white privilege" in the United States of America. If there were, programs like affirmative action would never have received the imprimatur of the state because they teach the young that discrimination is totally acceptable should it oppress the right kind of citizen - white citizens as of 2008.

Further, political correctness would have no power or sway were Caucasians to be truly advantaged. PC involves treating "the other" as a holy relic and deferring to them; conversely, the majority population is regarded as former functionaries of the Khmer Rouge. Lastly, we know that white privilege is a lie because Asians outperform Caucasians on almost every single measure of societal success.

Both of my grandfathers would have found the notion of white privilege very perplexing. That they shared the same skin color as upper-class WASPs meant nothing in 1920. The Brahmins of our society wanted nothing to do with either of them. My Russian grandfather was such a low-status male that he changed his overly ethnic name to match one held by a local celebrity. Regardless of elite opinion, both men enjoyed their lives and felt indebted to their new homeland. They lived in the present and did not dwell on crimes of the past which English kings or Russian tsars may have committed against them. Resentment was not a language they could comprehend.

Yet it is resentment that allows Father Pfleger to ascend the rungs in society's vile church of victimology. It is a disgrace that the Catholic Church - via their employment and protection - continues to enable his race warfare. According to his supervisors, Father Pfleger has served his penance, but should Barack Obama become our next president it will be the general population's turn to serve.


Crime pays: Getting away with terror at British taxpayers' expense

Pictured: Smiling preacher of hate Abu Qatada enjoying an 800,000 pounds home and a life of benefits

The Daily Mail refers to Abu Qatada, the "preacher", as Al-Qaeda's "ambassador to Europe." As if al-Qaeda was a diplomatic service. You're looking at Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe.

Of course he's smiling. Look at what he's getting:
1. He can't be extradited to Jordan "because his human rights would have been breached."
2. He lives in a $1.6 million house.
3. He receives $100,000 in (British) government benefits.
4. He's under house arrest but meanders freely.
5. Supposedly he's on disability receiving $300/week for a back injury but can carry a knapsack in public. He's not worried that anyone would jail him for fraud.
6. His "45-year-old wife is said to be entitled to child benefits, income support, housing and council tax credits which exceed œ800 each week." (that would be approx. $1600.) Plus, "The family is also said to pick up around œ210 in income support."
7. AND he gets a tax break: "the couple is exempt from paying the œ2,283 yearly council tax bill on their home."

This photograph of the smiling al-Qaeda operative telescopes to the rest of the world the message that the UK officially has signed a suicide pact.


Jungle beasts

It's never too late to get a real job, so here's one that the Reverend Jesse Jackson should consider in the wake of his embarrassing anti-Barack Obama moment: city lifeguard. A spate of violence - in one case lethal - has wracked the public pools in Los Angeles's Watts area this summer. Trying to keep order from his lifeguard station, Jackson would have a splendid opportunity to test his claim that what inner-city black youth need is more "government-based policy," rather than fathers who stay around long enough to raise them.

Watts public pools have a history of anarchy. Last year, Los Angeles city officials hired armed guards and installed video cameras at the 109th Street Swimming Pool in order to protect children and pool staff from out-of-control youth. The 109th Street pool lies between two infamous housing projects and the warring gangs which control them. Many neighboring families avoid the recreational facility, driven away by the local gangbangers' aggression.

But the usual disorder turned even scarier on the second day of the pool season this June. The pool manager had had the temerity to ask swimmers to clear the pool for cleaning, its water having been rendered dangerously dirty by people jumping in with their clothes on or refusing to shower before entering. In response, up to 30 young men went on a rampage. They overpowered two armed guards and six pool workers, punched the manager as he was trying to escape to his office to call 911, and threw the manager, a lifeguard, and locker attendant into the water. This was not a case of adolescent hijinks: The men were in their twenties and thirties. They were simply unable to tolerate any authority over their own. The police reaction was delayed as officers responded to a report of a man with a gun at another city pool, a report that this time proved unfounded.

The 109th Street pool stayed closed for the next two days, depriving local children of watery recreation during a heat wave. It reopened only after the Los Angeles Police Department agreed to station two armed police officers there, and the city recreation department hired six residents, mostly ex-gang members, to help patrol the pool. Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks observed the charming modus operandi of these community peace-keepers: one "lightly . . . whacked" a boy on the head who did not get out of the pool quickly enough. After the pool had closed and the security force had gone home, teens and kids were still jumping into the filthy water with clothes and shoes on, Banks reported.

A nearby Los Angeles County pool facility saw an even more egregious outbreak of violence last Saturday. Three men tried to rob a 60-year-old man who was sleeping outside the pool at the Ted Watkins County Park, which borders Watts. They beat James Hurst unconscious with a blunt object; he died the next day in a hospital from his injuries. In reaction, the county will station eight additional county police officers at pools in South Central Los Angeles ten hours a day through the summer.

It is striking how quickly elected officials in the inner city call on the police when things go wrong. These are the same "racial profilers" who, according to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and a host of local loudmouths, pose as much threat to the black community as criminals. Turns out that the threat from the allegedly racist police disappears from view whenever they are needed to protect inner-city residents from the real danger in their midst - criminal males. Jackson was one of the first publicity hogs to fly down to Jena, La., the site of a trumped-up media fable about a supposedly racist criminal justice system and its victims - six black high-school students who without provocation viciously beat a white student unconscious. Had Jackson been a guard at Watts' 109th Street Pool or the Ted Watkins County Park, the chances are high he would have dialed 911 for the cops as desperately as anyone there.


Moscow Hangover: Soviet Communism no longer enslaves Russia, but the West has yet to exorcise Lenin's ghost

by Peter Hitchens

What a pity it is that there will be no new Cold War. How useful it would be for the cause of freedom if we could once again hang the Kremlin and the Gulag round the radical Left's neck. But we cannot. The Kremlin is now swept clean of dogma, the Gulag is gone, and Russia is just another sordid despotism.

And so, freed from embarrassing associations with Lenin, Stalin, five-year-plans, purges, famines, and the KGB, the world's radical reformers are far stronger, and far harder to resist, than they used to be. As long as the words "progressive," "Communist," and "Socialist" brought to mind images of Soviet oppression, Soviet shortages, and Soviet intolerance, millions of people were inoculated against them.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn used to complain that the Iron Curtain kept everything out of Russia except what he called the "liquid manure" of Western trash culture, which somehow seeped beneath the barriers. In a strange and subtle way, it also prevented the spread of revolution in the advanced world.

It is an interesting lesson in real power to see how much mightier left-wing ideas and movements have become since they lost the support of all those Russian tanks. Far from helping the revolutionary cause, the columns of T-72s showed to the dimmest observer that socialism is not a gentle, kindly thing but an arrogant, ironclad, goose-stepping bully, which answers doubts with bayonets as soon as it has the power to do so. There was never any need to ask how many divisions the Communist Party had because it was so anxious to show them to us.

I watched the last proper Soviet tank parade as it thundered across Red Square on Nov. 7, 1990. There were red flags, rigid salutes, slanted faces, jackboots, and lush, totalitarian music. Just behind me and to my right, a shifty and diffident Politburo huddled on top of Lenin's tomb in the harsh wind. The thing they were uncertainly celebrating was called the Glorious October Socialist Revolution, that colossal failure that would have killed idealism off for good if we ever actually learned anything from history.

They were not enjoying themselves much because they knew just how bad everything was and suspected their days were almost over. I was enjoying it immensely because, in those days, I harbored the vain idea that the world might learn something useful from the unmitigated disaster of the Soviet Utopia. For thousands of miles in every direction, undeniable and no longer denied, lay the rusting, leaking, sagging evidence that this revolution had failed and that international socialism was a discredited, bankrupt idea.

A couple of months later, I saw some of the same tanks snarling down a midnight highway in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, which was then battling to regain independence from Moscow. I was in a group of journalists following them, until they swung their barrels toward our taxi in a way that seemed to lack a sense of humor. Earlier that day, Soviet soldiers had opened fire on civilians, so we thought it wise to drop back. We caught up with them later and also with the corpses they had caused, officially classified as "traffic accidents." They were part of a little known and failed attempt by Mikhail Gorbachev to seize control of the city while the world was distracted by the first phase of the recapture of Kuwait.

I saw the tanks for the last time in August 1991, when a squadron of them trundled up my Moscow street in the early morning sunshine, part of a fumbled KGB putsch against Gorbachev. The drunken collapse of this coup ended the Soviet Communist Party forever. All over Moscow, the trashcans were full of half-burned Communist Party membership cards. This was not a temporary setback but the death of an ideology. Soviet Communism had made a fool of itself and had gone. After that, of course, there could be no more Red Square parades, no more anniversaries of Glorious October, though they had one more excursion, in 1993, shelling the Russian parliament on behalf of Boris Yeltsin.

Oddly, the Communist Party, or rather its bewildered true believers, survived. No normal person continued to belong, but these rather touching, rather serious old people-far from contemptible, often incorruptible and serious, frequently decorated veterans of war-could not abandon the faith they had been brought up with. For one brief moment, when millions had their savings wiped out and were thrown out of their jobs, they seemed about to recover. But it passed, and now they linger as a sort of echo, useful to the regime as a harmless, impotent opposition.

Then it was announced that the tanks were coming back. As part of the inauguration of President Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian army would once again be allowed to drive its armor through Red Square. Had the clock really been turned back 18 years? There had been-and still is-much chatter of a return to the old hostilities.

Russia has certainly discovered that it can use its energy power to threaten its neighbors and buy Western politicians. It snarls, with good reason, over the West's strange anti-Serb policy in Kosovo. It intervenes blatantly in the politics of Ukraine. It menaces former Soviet republics, now nervously independent, on the Baltic coast and in the Caucasus.

And Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, has effectively suffocated political and press freedom, suppressing serious dissent in parliament, banning unwelcome independent candidates from running for office, and creating a creepy mass youth movement and a creepier personality cult.

The mysterious murder of independent journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the still stranger murder of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, and the rigged trial and imprisonment of the businessman Mikhail Khodorkhovsky are seen by most people as signs of the ferocious intolerance of the new regime, which officially maintains that Khodorkovsky's trial was fair and denies any connection with the two deaths....

Partly thanks to us, partly thanks to the horrible moral consequences of totalitarian socialism and the near extermination of God by systematic commissars, the new Russia is a lawless snake pit. It is dominated and populated by men stripped of morality by more than 70 years of cynical Leninism. But though the new rulers are the products of Marxism, they lack its driving purpose-or any real purpose except the gaining and keeping of wealth and power.

So Moscow, once the sacred heart of world Communism, has become a sort of Babylon, the most exhilarating, tasteless, and expensive city in the world, where you can procure anything for money and the nasty negative charisma of gangsters and spivs is on constant display. I cannot think of any other advanced capital in which you can see, side by side, all the manifestations of modern civilization and the symptoms of anarchy-ostentatious bodyguards, fenced-off compounds.

As a former resident from 18 years ago, I view the transformed city with seriously mixed feelings. It is thrilling to see the restored beauty of the churches and monasteries, sparkling with gold leaf and carefully tended, when all too recently they were semi-ruins, deliberately desecrated as reformatories for teenage louts or tatty warehouses for unwanted junk. It is a delight to stroll in the 19th-century lanes just south of the river, painted and cherished for the first time in 90 years, revealing a gracious and light-hearted Russian streetscape that was previously only visible in old prints and faded photographs.

The cleanliness of the air, compared with the brownish substance that we used to have to breathe, is another joy. Windows are washed, sidewalks are free of sudden chasms and open manholes, rats no longer sport around the entrances to the railway stations. The ambulances are no longer encrusted with dried blood, and the police, though still menacing, manage to be a little less slovenly. Even the great gloomy Stalinist skyscrapers, scrubbed and floodlit by night, seem to have turned into truthful historical monuments of the era that conceived them.

On a fresh May morning, surrounded by all these pleasures, it is hard to remember that a squalid and repressive state is in charge, that corruption is commonplace, and that one chilly pygmy-in spirit as well as in actual size-has just been succeeded by another as president....

But there is one huge, important difference. Private life is now free. You may say and think what you like and nobody will put you in a camp or claim that you are insane and pump you full of mind-altering drugs. Only if you offer a direct, open challenge to authority will you be troubled-and then generally by the tax police or the fire authorities who would rather put you out of business than into jail....

And I remembered coming back to the West, full of optimism, in 1992. And then I remembered seeing, year by year, in my own country and the U.S., new versions of all these subtle horrors: the "children's rights" movement that encourages denunciation and sets children against their parents, the shoving of infants into daycare from an incredibly early age, the need for two salaries to pay the basic bills, the epidemic of divorce, the pandemic of abortion, the growing spiteful rage against faith. I saw all around me the construction of a system of thought that dismissed conservative, individualist points of view as intolerable and pathological. I saw public servants, academics, and broadcasters having their careers ruined-and in Britain being questioned by the police-for expressing incorrect opinions. Private life, in the modern West, is now becoming significantly less free than it is in post-ideological Moscow.

I have begun to suspect that the bacillus of revolution, once confined inside the borders of the USSR, did not die with Communism. On the contrary, it adapted itself and escaped in a new form. Now it rages busily in a world where, instead of storming the Winter Palace, the post office, and the railroad station, the enemies of freedom infiltrate the TV studio, the college campus, and the school. There is a new Cold War after all, but it is being fought inside our borders, without tanks or missiles.

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Sunday, July 13, 2008

The evil British police again

Retired Briton arrested for chasing away youth gang

A pensioner who used a piece of wood to chase away a gang of teenagers who had been throwing stones at his home is facing a jail term after being arrested and charged with possessing an offensive weapon.

Sydney Davis, 65, a father-of-two, dialled 999 when his home in the Pinehurst area of Swindon, Wilts, came under attack. But when police failed to turn up over the next two hours he decided to take action himself. He grabbed a section of wood from a broken-up sofa lying in his front garden and chased the youths down the street - just as police officers finally arrived.

Mr Davis, a retired builder, was astonished when police arrested him while allowing the gang to run to safety. The householder now faces a court appearance and a potential prison term of six months if convicted. Mr Davis, whose windows have been smashed five times in the last eight months, branded the law "a colossal ass". He went on: "This is Britain gone mad. Just what in the world is this country coming to when the police arrest people like me for protecting their own property?

"The police say they want to reduce crime, yet they let evil little toe-rags like this off. Then they prosecute hard-working, upstanding residents like me. "There is simply no way we can shake off this problem of 'Yob Britain' if the legal system fails to protect the everyday person".

Mr Davis' difficulties began on July 2 when a gang started throwing stones, stick, mud and eggs at a number of homes. His wife, Pauline, 42, and their sons, Peter, seven, and James, five, cowered behind the sofa as the windows were hit by a flurry of missiles. "My wife called the police at 6pm, but they just kept on throwing stones through my back gate. "I left the back door open to stop them smashing it. Suddenly a really big rock came crashing into the kitchen. I just grabbed the wood, which was the nearest thing I could find, and chased them off. "The police turned up just as I was chasing them. As a result I was arrested, but they didn't arrest any of them."

Mr Davis was handcuffed, taken to a local police station and later charged. Wiltshire Police confirmed both the charge against him and the fact that no one else had been arrested in connection with the incident. The householder is expected to appear before local magistrates later in the month.


British mother prevented from taking own son to school because of criminal record checks

A woman was prevented from taking her own son to school because she hadn't been screened for a criminal record. Jayne Jones had been escorting 14-year-old severely epileptic Alex each day by taxi, taking specialist equipment with her in case he had a fit. But the mother-of-two was told she would not be allowed to continue doing so until her details had been run through a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check..

The case came to light only days after it emerged that hundreds of innocent people were branded criminals by the CRB, which was set up to vet people working with children. Figures seen by The Daily Telegraph showed that in the year to February 2008, 680 people were issued with incorrect information on their background checks by the CRB.

Last week a woman who was wrongly labelled a violent alcoholic and drug addict by the CRB was told she would have to allow police to take her fingerprints if she wanted to clear her name. Amanda Hodgson, 36, a law-abiding mother-of-three, learned of her "criminal past'' when applying for a post as a welfare assistant at her local primary school. She was told she had a criminal record stretching back 18 years, including three convictions for assaulting police officers, and the only way to clear her name was to get her fingerprints checked against every unsolved crime in the country.

Mrs Jones, from Aberfan in south Wales, said stopping her taking her son - who has cerebral palsy - to school was "political correctness gone mad". "It's crazy that I have to be CRB checked before I can ride in a taxi with my own son," she said. "I have to be checked to go in a taxi with him, but if I was able to drive him myself they wouldn't care and even offered to pay me expenses. "The taxi company is great and they carry Alex's medication but they won't use it and they wouldn't know how to put him in the recovery position if needs be."

Alex, who takes a combination of 32 anti-convulsant tablets a day, is currently travelling to his special needs school five miles away in Merthyr Tydfil with no one trained to cope if he has an attack. He has been fitted with the Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy system under the skin, which works like a pacemaker to help control electrical signals which can malfunction and cause him to seize. But his parents are the only ones trained to use and understand the therapy. His 42-year-old father Malcolm has a full-time job and Mrs Jones is the boy's full-time carer.

A spokesman from Merthyr Tydfil Council said: "The CRB checking is a requirement of our transport provisions in relation to adults travelling on home-to-school transport in the capacity of an escort. "This is a standard requirement and has been for several years. "Any adult acting as an escort will, in the public gaze, be viewed as acting with the full acquiescence of the council and hence with its implied authority. "For the protection of the council and all vulnerable persons in its care it's essential all those endowed with an authority, implicit or explicit, should meet the security requirements within the transport contract provisions."


When They Came for the Philadelphia Christians: Marcavage update

Tyranny is a lot like cancer. Early detection is a great thing.Stopping cancer and tyranny in the early stages can prevent a world of hurt, pain and death down the road. In America, we enjoy a measure of freedom. However, we are not nearly as free as we think we are. Our liberty is under assault from multiple directions every day. This assault is not being waged by some dorko in a cave in Afghanistan and his scary brown minions. Rather, it is being waged by our own government. Already, "the land of the free" has the world's highest incarceration rate. There is so much creeping tyranny and so little time to address it all. And millions of Americans are in total denial.

On October 6, 2007, Michael Marcavage, who heads up a group called Repent America (RA), was arrested right in front of the Liberty Bell Center in downtown Philadelphia while preaching. Park Ranger Alan Saperstein approached Marcavage and asked him if he had a permit. Marcavage replied that, under the First Amendment, no such permit was required. Saperstein then issued Marcavage a "verbal permit" and demanded that he relocate to a "free speech zone" some distance away. Marcavage continued to preach and was led away in handcuffs. Watch the YouTube video of the arrest right here. The following is from the RA press release detailing Marcavage's arrest and conviction.
"Under the direction of Ian Crane, chief ranger of Independence National Historical Park, supervising ranger Alan Saperstein repeatedly approached Marcavage to demand that he and the ministry team move to a 'free speech zone' on the other side of the Liberty Bell Center, which was nowhere near those entering or exiting. Adding insult to absurdity, Saperstein stated that in the future that RA would need to obtain a written permit to even speak in the 'free speech zone,' but given a 'verbal permit' to go there for the day, which Marcavage refused, citing that constitutional protections were sufficient. When it became apparent that Marcavage was not going to yield to the unconstitutional demands, Saperstein arrested Marcavage and ordered the other members of the ministry team off the public sidewalks. Ironically, Marcavage was then physically escorted into the Liberty Bell Center for questioning and charged with violating the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36,  1.6 Permits (g)(2), which states that he violated the terms and conditions of a 'verbal permit'-a permit that Marcavage never accepted, nor is such a permit even listed under the regulations. Subsequently, Marcavage was issued a citation nearly six months later by certified mail concerning the same matter for violating the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36,  2.32 (g)(1) + (2), which states that he was 'interfering with agency functions' by preaching and ministering to people on the public sidewalk.

"On June 13, 2008, Judge Rapoport found Michael Marcavage 'guilty' on both charges under the Code of Federal Regulations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Goldberg argued that Marcavage's defense was 'propaganda' and that he was a 'clear and present danger' and asked the judge to send a message not only to Marcavage, but to anyone who would dare stand on public property and share their beliefs without government permission. In response, Judge Rapoport fined Marcavage $445, including costs, and placed him on probation for one year, which restricts his travel to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and bars him from entering the park or being on the public sidewalks surrounding the park for any reason without first notifying park authorities. He also cannot return to engage in free speech activities without first obtaining a permit, and only then in the designated 'free speech zone'. Directly following the trial, Marcavage was escorted by U.S. Marshals to be booked for his 'crimes'.
A German proverb states that "Freedom dies in little pieces." When someone else's liberty is attacked, your liberty is placed at risk. I recently did a mass e-mailing urging people to oppose the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. You don't have to agree with Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. I certainly don't. You just have to realize that the same First Amendment that protects them protects you and me.

And if Uncle Sam can get away with violating Michael Marcavage's God-given and constitutionally protected rights, then he can get away with violating anyone's rights anywhere. And it isn't just the rights of evangelical Christians. The "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment protects the rights of Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Shintoists, New Agers and believers in Mungabunga. It protects atheists too.

The Old Testament prophet Daniel was thrown into the lion's den for defying the decree of King Darius against praying to any god other than King Darius-Daniel 6. I once heard someone say that way too many contemporary preachers would respond such a decree by saying things like "you can still pray in your heart" or "it is only for 30 days." Indeed, the Bible is full of civil disobedience. Daniel knew what so many contemporary Christians refuse to acknowledge: when you give your government an inch, they take a mile.

America is not Nazi Germany. At least not yet. However, millions of people are in total denial about their vanishing liberty. The case of Michael Marcavage is not an isolated incident. Indeed, in 2004 RA activists were threatened with 47 years in prison under a "hate crimes"statute for publicly preaching against homosexuality.

There is a big fat lie going around nowadays about how Romans 13 commands blind obedience to secular authority. NO IT DOES NOT! (1) This is America. Power does not lie in Washington or Harrisburg or in the whims of every petty functionary sporting a badge and leeching off of your and my tax dollars. The "supreme Law of the Land" is the Constitution. Under our Constitution power resides in "We the People." As John Marshall wrote in Marbury v. Madison, "All laws repugnant to the Constitution are void of law."

Actually, America has two constitutions. One was ratified in Philadelphia in 1787. The other resides in the hearts and minds of the people. And if "We the People" are nonchalant about our liberty, our written Constitution becomes just a piece of paper. We can either act now in defense of Michael Marcavage when the cost is quite minimal. (2) Or we can act later when the stakes will be much higher. Marcavage is appealing the discrict court's decision. Always remember the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller:
"When the Nazis came for the communists, I did not speak out because I was not a communist. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak out because I was a not a Catholic. When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out because I was a not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me."
Are you going to remain silent because they are coming for the Christians and you are not a Christian? Are you going to remain silent because Michael Marcavage is a Philadelphia Christian and you are, say, a Colorado Christian? I hope not.


Muslim woman deemed too submissive to be French

It seems that at least in France there are some remaining shreds of respect for their own identity

France has denied citizenship to a veiled Moroccan woman on the grounds that her "radical" practice of Islam is incompatible with basic French values such as equality of the sexes, a legal ruling showed on Friday. The case will reignite debate about how to reconcile freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the French constitution, and other fundamental rights, which many in France feel are being challenged by the way of life of some Muslims.

Le Monde newspaper said it was the first time a Muslim applicant had been rejected for reasons to do with personal religious practice. "She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes," said a ruling by the Council of State handed down last month and sent to Reuters on Friday to confirm a report in Le Monde. The Council of State is a judicial body which has final say on disputes between individuals and the public administration.

Married to a French national, the woman arrived in France in 2000, speaks good French and has three children born in France. She wears a black burqa that covers all her body except her eyes, which are visible through a narrow slit, and lives in "total submission" to her husband and male relatives, according to reports by social services. Le Monde said the woman is 32. The woman's application for French nationality was rejected in 2005 on grounds of "insufficient assimilation". She appealed to the Council of State, which last month approved the rejection.

In the past, nationality was denied to Muslims who were known to have links with extremist circles or who had publicly advocated radicalism, which is not the case here.


The ruling comes weeks after a heated debate over whether traditional Muslim views were creeping into French law, prompted by a court annulment of the marriage of two Muslims because the husband said the wife was not a virgin as she had claimed to be.

In the case of the Moroccan woman, Le Monde suggested the Council of State had gone to the opposite extreme by rejecting the woman's beliefs and way of life rather than accommodating them. "Is a burqa incompatible with French nationality?" the newspaper asked.

The legal expert who provided a formal report on the case to the Council of State wrote that the woman's interviews with social services revealed that "she lives almost as a recluse, isolated from French society," Le Monde reported. "She has no idea about the secular state or the right to vote. She lives in total submission to her male relatives. She seems to find this normal and the idea of challenging it has never crossed her mind," Emmanuelle Prada-Bordenave wrote.

Le Monde quoted Daniele Lochak, a law professor not involved in the case, as saying it was bizarre to consider that excessive submission to men was a reason not to grant citizenship. "If you follow that to its logical conclusion, it means that women whose partners beat them are also not worthy of being French," Lochak said.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Victory for British Christian registrar who refused to carry out queer `weddings'

A Christian registrar who was harassed and discriminated against after she refused to carry out same-sex civil partnership ceremonies has won a key legal battle. Lillian Ladele, 47, said that she was treated like a pariah by colleagues at Islington council in North London after she said that she could not carry out the ceremonies as a matter of religious conscience.

An employment tribunal found that the council showed no respect for Ms Ladele's rights "by virtue of her orthodox Christian beliefs". Employment lawyers said that while the case set no binding legal precedent, it would make councils much more likely to give weight to the religious views of employees. The decision outraged gay rights campaigners, who said that it "sanctions the right of religious people to discriminate".

Ms Ladele, who had held her $62,000-a-year job for almost 16 years, could receive thousands of pounds in compensation at a further hearing in September after the tribunal found that the behaviour of her colleagues had "the effect of violating Ms Ladele's dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment". The tribunal decided that gay rights should not be allowed to "trump" the rights of those with religious beliefs and said that the council's other registrars were able to provide a "first-class" service to same-sex couples without Ms Ladele's involvement.

The ruling said that Islington council "placed a greater value on the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community than it placed on the rights of Ms Ladele as one holding an orthodox Christian belief".

Ms Ladele, who is now expected to return to work, wept as she told the tribunal that her bosses ordered her to perform the ceremonies or face dismissal for gross misconduct. She said: "I felt harassed and victimised. I was being picked on on a daily basis." She added: "This is a victory for religious liberty, not just for myself but for others in a similar position. Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs."

She was applauded last night by the Christian Institute, a Newcastle-based charity that funded her case, and the Evangelical Alliance. Don Horrocks, head of public affairs at the alliance, said: "This decision underlines that, despite some recent claims to the contrary, freedom of religious conscience must be protected by law in the same way as any other human right. "We would call on local politicians to take note and live up to the challenge of this benchmark decision."

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said: "Public servants are paid by taxpayers to deliver public services. They shouldn't be able to pick and choose who they deliver those services to. Doubtless 40 years ago there were moral objections to mixed-race marriages. Quite rightly such objections would no longer be entertained." Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, said: "Lillian Ladele claims she was won a victory for religious liberty. No, she has not. She has won a victory for the right to discriminate."


Foolish Muslim pandering in Britain

Rebel the puppy only ever caused offence with his ill-timed calling cards and habit of stealing the window cleaner's chamois. Now, the German shepherd is at the centre of a political-correctness row. Rebel is the nearest thing Dundee has to a celebrity since Danny Wilson split up. His popular training "blog" details mishaps like bringing down the firearm squad's computer system by chewing a cable. It was no surprise when he appeared on a campaign postcard for a new helpline nestled inside a police hat. He is the fluffy face of the force, with lashings of the "awww" factor.

But not everyone found his floppiness irresistible. A Labour councillor called Mohammed Asif suggested the campaign would "not be welcomed by all communities because there was a dog on the cards". He didn't say Muslim communities - but that is what he meant. The headlines were all about how "Muslims were outraged" by the picture and Tayside Police apologised.

Responses ranged from exasperation at "barking mad" political correctness to anger: "If Muslims don't like dogs then they should go and live where there are none! We must stop bending over backwards to please these people, they certainly wouldn't do it for us - enough is enough!"

Inevitably, many asked why Pakistani shopkeepers, who profit from the sale of pornographic magazines, streaky bacon and alcohol, could then object to a postcard intended to inform the public. But so far as I can see, the only outraged Muslim was Mohammed Asif. His ill-judged intervention has done as much - perhaps more - to damage community relations than the hapless terrorists and their burning Jeep last year. They can attack our airports, but leave off our puppies!

There is no law against pet dogs in the Koran. The Hadith, or tradition, says they are unclean, you should not keep them in the house and must wash after contact with them. I have a few friends who share that view, but who are not religious in the least. They are probably correct when it comes to hygiene. But they don't avert their eyes from doggy pictures because they dislike canines, and neither do Muslims. The real issue here is the oversensitivity of the authorities. Their apology has whipped up more hatred than Rebel could if he'd nipped Mr Asif's ankle.

The apology is symptomatic of a general jumpiness. Today we report an absurd recommendation by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland that sniffer dogs wear slippers when searching Muslim homes for drugs and explosives. Who came up with this? Everybody knows you take your shoes off when entering a Muslim home so as not to bring in anything unclean. That would presumably apply to the dog's muddy slippers. So shouldn't the handlers put clean ones over their paws once they cross the threshold, just to be sure? It rather interferes with the element of surprise. By the same logic, handlers should take their boots off and waste more time. And are we to ban female officers from raiding Muslim homes, because they are wearing police-issue trousers (sexy!) or simply because they are women?

It is all so unnecessary. Iran, not a country known to be slipshod in its adherence to Islamic doctrine, uses sniffer dogs from France to tackle drug-smuggling. Dog teams were flown to Pakistan from around the world to search for survivors trapped in rubble after the 2005 earthquake.

Official bodies desperate to show their politically correct credentials succeed only in sowing division with such silliness. In March, a CD-Rom version of the Three Little Pigs was rejected by the obscure Whitehall department that recommends educational technology in schools. "The use of pigs raises cultural issues," it huffed and puffed.

During the last football World Cup the governor of a prison in England tried to ban her officers from wearing Cross of St George lapel badges, in case Muslims were reminded of the crusades. Last year a circular was sent to NHS employees in Glasgow urging them to ignore the tea trolley during Ramadan and to fast in support of Muslim colleagues. The passport service rejected a photo of a five-year-old girl in a sundress because her shoulders could be seen in the picture and, they said, it might be rejected in Muslim countries.

Everything is going to offend someone. Vegetarians, for example, must get quite repulsed when their neighbours have a cook-out. But the authorities don't suggest a ban on barbecues. The NHS doesn't send out circulars suggesting carnivores reach for the hummus in solidarity with their veggie colleagues. Although vegetarians may hold their views sincerely, and be able to support them with rational argument, since their beliefs are not religious, they get no special treatment. It's spirituality that gets the authorities sweating. Even then, not all religions are treated equally.

Jews have lived in this country for hundreds of years without anyone suggesting we ban piggy-in-the-middle from the playground. We don't vilify beef farmers for offending Hindus. One of the best-selling novelty toys last Christmas was a clockwork "nun-chucker".

In Scotland, the Wee Frees have been mocked without mercy for decades, just because they want to preserve Sunday for prayer in the islands where they live. The practice in Stornoway of tying up children's swings for the Sabbath ended long ago - but we never let them forget it. We ridicule Presbyterians with language we'd never apply to Muslims. Wee Free ministers are called ayatollahs for trying to stop a few ferry sailings. But we tolerate real ayatollahs who want to decapitate all Danish people because someone produced a cartoon they didn't like.

Let's hope fear is not at the root of this selective sensitivity. The response to those Danish cartoons, the threats to Salman Rushdie, the murder of the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh, suggest some Muslims will respond violently to any perceived offence. Fortunately they do not seem to live here. Scottish community relations are good. If we want them to stay that way, let's ignore individuals like Asif. The majority of his co-religionists can live perfectly well with pictures of piglets and puppies.


Racist rhetoric

Only in America could critics of a group called "The Race" be labeled racists.Such is the triumph of left-wing identity chauvinists, who've succeeded in redefining all opposition as "hate." Both Barack Obama and John McCain will speak this week in San Diego at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, the Latino group whose name is Spanish for "The Race." Can you imagine Obama and McCain paying homage to a group of white people who called themselves that? .... Here are 15 things you should know about "The Race":

* It supports driver's licenses for illegal aliens.

* It demands in-state tuition discounts for illegal-alien students that aren't available to US citizens and legal immigrants.

* It vehemently opposes cooperative immigration-enforcement efforts between local, state and federal authorities.

* It opposes a secure fence on the southern border.

* It joined the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in a failed lawsuit to prevent the feds from entering immigration information into a key national crime database - and to prevent local police from accessing the data.

* It protested common-sense voter-ID provisions as an "absolute disgrace."

* It has opposed post-9/11 national-security measures at every turn.

* It opposed Oklahoma's tough immigration-enforcement-first laws, which cut off welfare to illegal aliens, put teeth in employer sanctions and strengthened local-federal cooperation.

* It joined other anti-assimilationists suing to prevent Proposition 227, California's bilingual-education reform, from becoming law.

* Former "Race" President Raul Yzaguirre said: "US English is to Hispanics as the Ku Klux Klan is to blacks." US English is the nation's oldest, largest citizens' group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in America. ....

There is more. The positions of this group do a disservice to Hispanics. It is still fighting group identity politics instead of working for assimilation. Its opposition to English is much more harmful to Hispanics than anyone else. The most successful Hispanics I know speak good English. The most likely drop outs are those who do not.


"Racism" row in Switzerland over minaret referendum

Another racism row flared up in Switzerland after the country's far-right party managed to trigger a referendum on banning minarets in the country. The demand for a popular vote was driven by the nationalist Swiss People's Party (SVP), which used an image of a white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag to illustrate its anti-immigration policies in last year's election campaign. The party managed to get more than 100,000 signatures on a petition calling for the ban, thus forcing the vote.

There are just two minarets at mosques in Switzerland, neither of which broadcasts calls to prayer, and a further three under consideration. Muslims account for about 310,000 people out of a population of 7.5 million.

But the controversy has echoes of a debate that has seen campaigns across Europe against minarets being built at mosques in Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia. In Cologne, plans to expand the Ditib Mosque with a dome and two 54-metre minarets triggered an angry response from right-wing groups and the city's Catholic archbishop.

The Swiss Government tried to distance itself from the referendum call amid fears of an anti-Swiss reaction in the Muslim world. Pascal Couchepin, the President, said that the Government would recommend that voters reject the proposed ban. Other members of Switzerland's cross-party Government also spoke out against a ban. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Foreign Minister, said that the initiative would lead to a security risk by provoking Muslim anger.

The SVP has a record of using the country's system of direct democracy to provoke debate about immigration. This year it lost a referendum on moves to make it harder to obtain a Swiss passport. The party said it had chosen minarets because they were "symbols of political-religious imperialism" rather than simply traditional architecture. Dominique Baettig, an SVP MP, said: "It is like the veil, it is a symbol of non-integration. We hope that this initiative sends a clear signal that we are calling a halt to the Islamisation of Switzerland. Our hard-won individual liberties are being eroded and that is not acceptable." Jasmin Hutter, vice-president of the party, added: "Many women, even socialists, signed this petition because not one Swiss woman can tolerate the way that Muslim men treat their wives."

The Interior Ministry confirmed that it had received the referendum request but no date had been set. If it was approved, the Swiss Parliament would have to pass a law enshrining a construction ban on minarets in the constitution.

Henri-Maxime Khedoud, spokesman for the Swiss Association of Muslims for Secularism, called the referendum plan an attack against Muslims and contrary to the constitutional freedom of religion. The SVP's aim was to provoke and get media attention, Mr Khedoud said, adding that it would also make it harder for Muslims to integrate in the Alpine nation. He was confident that Swiss voters would see it as purely a headline-grabbing move. "I am sure it will be rejected," he said.

Doudou Diene, the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, whose office is in Switzerland, said last year that there was "a dynamic of racism and xenophobia" in the country. The underlying causes were a "deep-rooted cultural resistance within Swiss society to the multiculturalisation process" and "the growing prevalence of racist and xenophobic stances in political programmes and discourse, particularly during elections and various votes".



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Friday, July 11, 2008

Britain: Plans to clear undergrowth from homosexual sex spot branded discriminatory

Bristol City Council wants to prune bushes and remove cover from an area known as the Downs to improve the landscape and encourage rare wildlife. But its own gay rights group has opposed the move, claiming that cutting back the bushes was "discriminating" to homosexual men who used the area for late night outdoor sex known as dogging. Work on the beauty spot has been temporarily delayed while talks with gay rights groups take place to try and break the deadlock.

The area of the Downs sits at the top of the Avon Gorge, in the upmarket Clifton suburb of Bristol and is home to various species of rare plants and wildlife. But councillors said it had become overgrown over the past 20 years. Thick bushes cover the secluded area next to a street known Circular Road which has become a mecca for gay men and couples cruising for sex.

The area hit the headlines last year when four firemen who disturbed an outdoor gay sex session were reprimanded and fined after they shone torches into the undergrowth.

The Downs Committee commissioned a report as part of ongoing improvements to the shrubland and have proposed cutting back a lot of the undergrowth. The move was strongly backed by local residents who complained about "inappropriate sexual activity" and safety concerns in the area. But during the consultation period last year "equality" concerns were raised by the council's Rainbow Group - an action group of lesbian, gay and bisexual council employees - about the threat to gay rights.

A report on the plans states: "As part of the consultation, concerns were expressed by the council's Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Group (and a small number of other consultees) that this action was potentially discriminating against gay and bisexual men, whose activities on this part of the Downs were objected to by other members of the local community and Downs users." Council officials have been forced to consult with the police and gay rights group the Terence Higgins Trust to ensure there was no discrimination.

Peter Wilkinson, the council's Head of Parks, said: "The general public are unhappy about people taking part in lewd behaviour in public spaces, whether it's between men and women or people of the same sex. "We are working together with the Terence Higgins Trust to make sure any work we will do is sensitive. "We're making sure people know what we are doing so we are not seen to be discriminating."

The $40,000 five-year maintenance scheme was approved in January 2007 and work to remove the bushes is due to begin in the next three months. Peter Abraham, a Conservative councillor, hit out at the anti-gay accusations as "offensive". He said: "How can it be discriminatory to clear land that might stop what is an illegal practice? We need to manage the Downs properly. For a long time we have been told that the scrub land needs to be opened up. "I find it offensive to suggest that by taking this action - which might stop people collecting to carry out what some might describe as illegal acts and certainly offensive behaviour - you are being discriminatory."

The Rainbow Group refused to comment yesterday but said they stood by the comments made in the report.

Police said those having outdoor sex in the area could face criminal charges, and any formal complaints about it would be investigated. A spokesman for Avon and Somerset force said: "Last year saw 250 people arrested throughout the force for offences including outraging public decency to kerb crawling. "Unfortunately there is a minority of people who partake in sexual acts in public places in certain areas which are not only against the law but are also offensive to members of the public."

The HIV charity, the Terence Higgins Trust, said it was in talks with the police and the council over the issue and did not yet want to comment. The Trust has been criticised in the past for handing out free condoms in the area of the Downs where people were engaging in outdoor sex,

A row blew up last October when it was revealed that four fire fighters had been disciplined for allegedly disturbing a gay sex session on the Downs by shining their torches into the bushes. After complaints that their actions were homophobic, the four senior officers from Avon Fire Service were fined $2,000 and transferred to other fire stations.


Demonizing Jesse Helms

Leftists can't argue. All they can do is abuse

Liberals didn't think much of Jesse Helms when he was alive, and their feelings didn't soften with his death. "Jesse Helms, you rat bastard, burn in hell," announced a headline at Daily Kos, the hugely popular left-wing blog; "Please excuse me while I dance upon his grave," gloated another. "I was on Castro and 18th at 9:30 p.m.," reported a poster on Democratic Underground, another popular site, "and there was someone shouting, `Jesse Helms is dead!' To which everyone in earshot burst into applause and cheering, myself included."

In The Nation, the former North Carolina senator was memorialized as "Jesse Helms, American Bigot." For its online audience, The Washington Post resurrected the column David Broder produced when Helms announced his retirement: "Jesse Helms, White Racist."

The invective streamed in from across the pond as well. "There seemingly wasn't a right-wing, retrograde social issue Helms met that he didn't like," wrote Melissa McEwan in a savage essay on the Guardian's website. "It was . . . his unmitigated intolerance toward people of color that will define his legacy.

Well, hating Helms is nothing new. More than 16 years ago, the scholar Charles Horner observed in Commentary that for many people Helms had become a "symbol of the evil against which all enlightened people are automatically ranged." As with the poisonous rhetoric of today's pathological George W. Bush-haters, the point of the virulence expressed toward Helms was typically character-assassination, not contention -- it was aimed at demonizing the man rather than debating or disproving his ideas.

For some liberals, Helms's death had long been a fantasy. "I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind," NPR's Nina Totenberg said in 1995, "because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion. Or one of his grandchildren will get it."

What the left despised most about Helms varied with the seasons. There was his unyielding anticommunism. His visceral opposition to homosexuality. His war on government funding of obscene art. His blackball of William Weld's nomination as ambassador to Mexico. His staunch support of the tobacco industry. And, of course, his segregationist past.

In the one-dimensional demonology of the left, Helms comes across as an unreconstructed racist who dreamed of Jim Crow every night and whose first words each morning were "Segregation forever!" The truth was considerably different -- and more admirable.

Helms was a product of the racist Old South, and came to prominence as a foe of desegregation. "He battled as hard as any of them," editorialized the conservative National Review in 2001, "a shameful legacy, of which he was never ashamed." In those days Helms was a Democrat, as were most Southern segregationists. But by the time he entered Congress in 1973, he had changed both his party and his mind. Far from using his office to roll back civil rights, argued Walter Russell Mead, a noted scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, Helms "deserves to be remembered as one of a handful of men who brought white Southern conservatives into a new era of race relations."

Mead, who grew up in the South, recalled listening as a boy to Helms's "anti-integration, anti-Martin Luther King commentaries on WRAL-TV." But once the battle was over and the civil rights laws were passed, Mead wrote years later, Helms did something "very revolutionary for Southern white populists: He accepted the laws and obeyed them." He shunned violence, hired black aides, and provided constituent services without regard to race. Instead of leading his followers into resistance, Helms "disciplined and tamed the segregationist South," prodding it "into grudging acceptance of the new racial order."

Yet rather than hail his statesmanship and acknowledge his contribution to the civil rights revolution, liberals marked his death by reaching for pejoratives. Helms's sin was not racism; it was his tenacious political incorrectness. Had he been willing to tack left on other issues, his racial wrongs would have been forgiven.

Consider, for a contrast, the treatment meted out to a different North Carolina senator: Helms's senior colleague, the late Sam Ervin. He was beloved by the left notwithstanding his defense of segregation and his vote against elevating Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. When Ervin died, The Washington Post's front-page obituary began by saluting him as a "hero to many" for his role in the Watergate hearings. His opposition to nearly every civil-rights bill of his career wasn't mentioned until the 24th paragraph -- of a 25-paragraph obituary.

The real Jesse Helms was never the cartoon villain his enemies so loved to hate. But then, he didn't much care what they thought while he was alive. He certainly doesn't care now.


Economic Growth and the Working Class

Stuff that the Left don't even want to think about

For decades, conservative Republicans could not consistently climb out of their political minority status based on their limited government philosophy alone. That changed fundamentally for the long run in 1980, when Ronald Reagan embraced supply-side economics and the Kemp-Roth tax cuts, and campaigned on a vision for robust economic growth. The focus on economic growth and tax cuts transformed national politics into at least a 50-50 battle between liberals and conservatives, and even majorities for Republicans and conservatives by the mid-1990s.

Some neoconservatives are now arguing that Reagan's success was based on his support for maintaining the New Deal rather than a devotion to small government ideology. But Reagan clearly communicated to every voter over and over throughout the 1980 campaign that his "national economic recovery plan" was based on four components -- tax cuts, spending cuts, removing unnecessary regulatory burdens, and sound monetary policy to stop inflation. That was all explicit, up front, and central. Reagan bowed only to pledge never to cut Social Security.

The economic growth component enabled Republicans to appeal consistently to a substantial majority of voters, because economic growth is the most progressive program possible. Growth is the most effective anti-poverty program in world history, shattering the whole notion of poverty over time. The Heritage Foundation publishes reports every year showing the standard of living of the poor in America today is comparable to the standard of living of the American middle class a few decades ago, and of the European middle class today.

Growth creates new jobs and rising wages that pull more and more of the poor out of poverty altogether, and more and more of the working class into the middle class. The poor in America today are almost all either recent low skill immigrants or those who dropped out of high school, bore out of wedlock children as teenagers, or suffer from alcohol or drug abuse. Over time, economic growth will pull these folks out of poverty as well.

Economic growth spreads broader and broader benefits across society. More rapid growth means more rapid development and wider use of breakthrough technologies such as the Internet. It means better health care and medical technology. It means more government revenue to help the poor enjoy these medical breakthroughs as well. It means more resources can be devoted to improving and maintaining the environment.

This process was was recently recognized by Barron's editorial page editor Thomas G. Donlan in his book, A World of Wealth: How Capitalism Turns Profit Into Progress. Donlan writes,
Two centuries ago, even a wealthy man such as George Washington did not have central heating. A hundred years ago, the indoor toilet, the electric light, and the telephone were found in only a few homes that could afford to install them. These inconveniences became middle class necessities and now are commonplace items in virtually every American home, even the poorest.
Donlan's no-nonsense book explains basic economics in terms the average person can understand. He starts by explaining, There are two kinds of economists. Those who think the free market always works, except when the results don't suit them; and those who think the free market never works, except when the results do suit them. In my view, the free market always works. Whether the results suit me or you is a matter of taste....The best thing about economics is the free market, and the best thing about the free market is freedom. This is why social goals can always be better achieved by peeling away big government burdens rather than adding new ones. Donlan explains the process of economic growth starting with taxes, saying:
Oddly, if you really want to raise taxes on the rich, you should cut their tax rates the way Congress and President Bush did in 2001, 2002, and 2003. It sounds like a joke but it's the most sensible way to read the results of the Bush years in U.S. tax policy. After the Bush Administration and Congress reduced the top marginal `rates, the people with the highest incomes shouldered a larger share of the tax burden because they made so much more money....Of more importance, the expanding economy generated more revenue from income taxes, sales taxes, corporate income taxes, and social insurance taxes....By fiscal 2007, higher economic growth and lower tax avoidance covered the loss of revenue from lower rates.
But the Left argues that economic growth doesn't work anymore for low and moderate income workers, defined as the working class, and the poor. That is because in recent years wages seem to have stagnated among these workers. Historically, wages have grown when productivity has grown, but since 2000 continued productivity growth does not seem to have been reflected in rising wages for working people.

The Left has seized on this as an excuse for more government power, arguing that the market is obviously failing working people. But the Left offers this same response on every issue and development, including the weather (or more precisely its theories about the weather).

Unfortunately, some putative conservative intellectuals are now effectively taking this same position as well. They are arguing that conservatives and Republicans are losing their appeal to working class voters because of this wage stagnation. As a result, conservatives should drop their focus on limited government, free-market Reaganism, which, they say, is failing these voters. They should embrace instead a modern, big government conservatism with Republicans offering the working class government redistribution that will recognize their economic difficulties and their pain, and so win their votes.

How these intellectuals can fail to understand that this is socialism not conservatism is unfathomable. What they are saying is no more than that the free market has failed their politically favored interest group, but look at them in their central planning genius, they know the perfect government intervention to fix it.

There is a reason why wages for unskilled and lesser skilled labor have fallen behind in recent years. That is because the market for this labor is increasingly global, as modern technology allows the work forces of the emerging economies of China and India, and the liberated economies of the former Soviet bloc, to compete in the world market. This is a radical increase in the supply of basic labor, which naturally holds its price in terms of wages down. What should be surprising is that it hasn't had an even bigger effect.

But this is not a reason to abandon the free market. Quite to the contrary, this increased global competition means that there is even less margin for error, or big government fat and waste. We must adhere even more closely to free market policies, and seek even more ardently to maximize economic growth. This is the way, the only way, for American workers to keep earning the highest wages in the world.

In particular, for American workers to succeed in this global marketplace, we must equip them even more with the latest, the best, and the most in advanced, high-tech capital. Such capital investment, enabling workers to produce more, is the key to higher wages and incomes. Taking into account the huge increase in the global supply of basic labor, we need even more of this to get wages for the working class moving up again.

This means that we need even more urgently to rid our tax system of outdated, neo-Marxist, multiple tax burdens on capital investment. Every educated person needs to know by now that the biggest problem in our tax system is the multiple taxation of capital. The returns to a typical capital investment today are taxed once by the corporate income tax. If any of that return is paid to the stockholders, it is taxed again by the individual income tax. When the stock is sold, the returns to investment are taxed again by the capital gains tax. When the investor dies, the capital returns saved over a lifetime are taxed a fourth time by the death tax.

Then investment expenses are not treated fairly either. Every other business expense is deducted in the year it is incurred. But capital investment expenses must be deducted over many years according to arbitrary IRS depreciation schedules.

High tax rates are a problem as well. America now suffers the second highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, averaging about 40% counting state corporation taxes. The average in the European Union is now 24%, down from 38% 10 years ago. Ireland's corporate tax rate has now long been 12.5%, and Irish workers are progressing towards higher wages on average than American workers. Individual investors can also now find lower tax rates than America's top Federal rate of 35%

Facing this tax gauntlet, investors, at home and abroad, are not going to provide American workers with the latest, best, and most in capital equipment. If Ireland and Estonia offer tax systems that are more hospitable for capital investment, there is no reason why their workers cannot eventually earn more and enjoy a higher standard of living than American workers. We need a reformed tax system that taxes the returns to capital once at a single low rate, allows immediate expensing for capital investment, and maintains low rates for individual investors as well as wage earners.

Another essential way to maximize long-term economic growth is to reduce the soaring cost of energy for our economy. Plentiful, low cost energy supplies will naturally support higher economic output and growth over time than scarce, high cost supplies. But to achieve this result, we need to sharply reduce the wildly excessive regulation that is choking off our energy supplies. The government needs to allow us to drill for more oil and gas on the mainland, in the frozen, lifeless, dark, Arctic moonscape of ANWR, and offshore. It needs to allow us to build more refineries and nuclear power plants. The resulting sharply increased energy supply would reduce energy costs, with the same effect on our economy as a major tax cut.

To the extent we can reduce unnecessary government spending, that along with the resulting lower taxes would further boost our economy. And we need to restore sound monetary policies to short-circuit budding inflation. Contributing to that is the central planning ethanol boondoggle that is harmfully increasing food prices at home and abroad, while contributing much more to runaway government spending through ethanol subsidies than to solving our energy problems. Abolishing the Federal government's ethanol adventure would reduce inflation and unnecessary government spending.

These are the policies that would maximize our economic growth, and do the most to raise wages for the working class, and the poor, and everyone else. Remarkably, we are back to the Reagan economic recovery strategy of cutting taxes, cutting spending, deregulating, and restoring sound monetary policies.

In terms of politics, the working class would respond to such a vision for economic growth as it did in 1980, if the message is explained and driven home. Polls and focus groups show that working people would respond to such a message. When American voters are given a choice on election day between economic growth on one hand and redistribution on the other, they always choose growth.

In addition, Republicans and conservatives should emphasize their enormous achievement in abolishing income taxes on the working class and the poor. Again, the bottom 40% of income earners pay no income tax on net. Instead, they receive net payments from the income tax system. This started with Ronald Reagan's proposal for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the 1970s. Another important factor was the Child Tax Credit proposed by the Heritage Foundation, now maxed out at $1,000 per child. The tax rate cuts over the years culminating with President Bush's 33% reduction in the lowest rate in 2001 hasve ended with this result. These policies have also cut the share of Federal income taxes paid by the true middle class, as well as minimizing income taxes for thethe middle 20% of all income earners,class as well atto less than 5% of all income tax payments, another major achievement that should be trumpeted.

Republicans and conservatives should emphasize as well that they next plan to phase out payroll taxes on the poor, the working class, the middle class, and everyone else, as well, replacing the tax instead with personal savings and investment accounts that would eventually take over payment of all the benefits that are financed by the payroll tax today. This would transform the payroll tax into an engine of personal family wealth for every family in America, an enormous achievement. Working class families would accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars in such accounts by retirement, an historic breakthrough in the personal prosperity of working people. Those family funds would provide a new foundation for the future prosperity of working class children as well.

Republicans and conservatives should also promote the idea of eliminating state income taxes as well, on the poor, the working class, and everyone else. Nine states survive today perfectly well without any state income tax, including the large, prosperous, booming states of Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. Working people are voting with their feet by migrating to these states in large numbers, fleeing the high tax states. States without an income tax have higher economic growth, and higher growth in jobs, wages, and incomes.

Now that's an agenda to appeal to the working class. Add to that a pro-growth energy policy sporting lower prices for gas and electricity, the defense of traditional family values, and strong national defense policies that will keep families safe, and conservatives and Republicans should have more than enough appeal to win the votes of the working class.


Everyone's a Little Bit Racist?

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a post about the intersection of race and crime that dovetails with a conversation I had shortly after learning my friend Brian had been shot last week. I got to thinking about how the economic effects of past racism create breeding grounds for new racism-at once more subtle and more difficult to extirpate. And I even found myself wondering whether, paradoxically, the healthy social consensus about the unacceptability of racism doesn't make it more difficult to root out in its less obvious but arguably most pernicious forms.

There are parts of America-DC is one of them-where, for basically economic reasons, most violent street crime is committed by (and, indeed, against) African Americans and Hispanics. This should not be terribly surprising if you think about it for a moment. DC is full of relatively affluent, educated white people and a mix of middle-class and crushingly poor black people. The historical reasons for this scarcely need rehearsing. And as a rule, affluent educated people do not go around robbing poor people with guns. That's what lobbyists are for.

The effect of this over time, as Coates suggests, is not terribly hard to predict. People gradually begin to be a little more alert and guarded if the only other person walking by them on the street late at night is young and black and male. This can be overridden by class signals, of course: Nobody gets nervous walking past the guy in the Armani suit, of whatever race. But hold those markers constant-make it T-shirt and jeans-and race will play into a lot of people's reactions, maybe most people's.

The disturbing thing here is that while these reactions are at least arguably racist in some sense, they're not obviously irrational as a kind of statistical heuristic. In light of the facts on the ground-facts that are themselves substantially the product of past racism-they eventually become instinctive.

If it were limited in context, if it were only a matter of how conscious you are of the guy on the street at night, it might not be a serious problem. But that's not how reflexive reactions like this work. They tend to bleed over into contexts-the temp agency, the corner store-where they are both inappropriate and destructive. And the contexts aren't even all that separable: The skittish convenience store owner may have a statistical reason for being more nervous when a group of black or Latino male teenagers walk in, but the atmosphere of suspicion that creates for the vast majority who have no designs on the till is so toxic it's become a trope. Thinking in stereotypes comes easily to us, and it takes conscious effort to at least keep them cabined away where they will do least harm. And that requires entertaining that uncomfortable thought: I might, in some sense, be a racist.

Which leads me to wonder: Is it possible to be so opposed to racism that it becomes more difficult to root out racism? Just follow me for a second here: What image springs to mind when you think of "racism"? A Klansman burning a cross? Adolf Hitler? George Wallace barring the schoolhouse door? Images like these are iconic, easy to invoke, and extreme. They remain current because they are potent illustrations of where racism leads; their ugliness, their repugnance, is manifest.

There are still, of course, sectors of American society where the crude racism of the epithet and the noose is casually accepted. But, happily, this sort of thing is largely beyond the pale in polite company now. And this makes it beguilingly easy to conclude: "Well, I don't go around slinging racial epithets or fuming with hatred at this or that group. Therefore I can't be one of those awful people. Why, some of my best friends."

But the variety of racism more common today is more subtle than that, and in a way more pernicious for it, since the overt bigot is unlikely to wield much social power. It's the subliminal reaction of the manager looking for a new cashier who, for some reason he can't articulate, just doesn't think the minority candidate seems quite trustworthy enough. It's this person who we most want examining his own attitudes. But to do that means being prepared to start from the difficult premise that even he-educated, urbane, kind, and so on-may indeed harbor racial biases. Like Hitler! Like a Klansman!

Now, there's an obvious way around this, though it should make us uncomfortable for different reasons. We could make a point of talking about race bias and stereotyping in a more gradated way. At one pole is the Klansman. At another, there's that "typical white person" who is more guarded and alert walking past a black guy at 1am on 7th and V than he would be walking past a similarly-dressed white person.

The discomfort here comes from the thought that allowing these gradations entails licensing some forms of racism-regarding them as understandable, even acceptable. And for very good reasons, this is not the kind of conversation we want to have: "So, is this particular instance bad racism or sorta-understandable racism?" There are whole modes of thought we just want to be entirely beyond the pale.

But think about the defensiveness, even outrage, we saw in response to Obama's "typical white person" comment: The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know (pause) there's a reaction in her that doesn't go away and it comes out in the wrong way.

Is this really controversial? As a descriptive matter, if we're all honest with ourselves, I suspect it shouldn't be. But it is, in part because we resist these finer distinctions. What at least some whites apparently hear is: "All white people are racist! Like the Klan!" The charge of racial bias, it sometimes seems, only comes in Howitzer gauge. So we end up unable to event talk calmly and seriously about a patently real phenomenon without touching off this sort of defensiveness from people who don't want to be-and shouldn't be-lumped in with full-blown bigots.

So reservations notwithstanding, maybe there's something to be said for acknowledging that, as the Avenue Q song has it, "everyone's a little bit racist." I'll accuse myself here: At 2am on 7th and V, I am not color blind. Maybe that bias is defensible at that time and place. That doesn't mean it's not a bias, or that it's not potentially dangerous.

But once I recognize that this kind of bias, unchecked, could poison my reactions in other contexts, I can at least be conscious of it-can acknowledge that I need to be conscious of it-and try to keep it from metastasizing. I like to think I do. It's hardly ideal-bias domesticated rather than eradicated-but it might be better than letting it fester under cover of denial, or trying to muster some kind of egalitarian concern that the pale dude walking home from the Black Cat might pull a .45 on me. And while I've largely left this in the background, most of the above, mutatis mutandis, probably goes for reaction to class signifiers as well.

The tricky part here is threading our way between, on the one hand, a sort of blunderbuss condemnation that creates a counterproductive incentive for people to conceal their biases even from themselves, and on the other, a lazy complacency about those biases. I don't know exactly how we do that. It seems beyond grotesque to ask the law-abiding black guy on the wrong end of a thousand suspicious glances to indulge the skittish whites. It seems unrealistic to expect the skittish whites to just knock it off.

So consider all this a fumbling gesture in the direction of. some sort of conversation. For the moment, and against my better judgement, I'll leave the comments open for thoughts.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another dubious "racism" conviction in Britain

Sadie Frost said yesterday that she was "deeply upset" that her fashion label has been drawn into a race row. She and her business partner, Jemima French, made the statement after a black sales assistant was awarded $10,000 by an employment tribunal. Aba Yankah, an assistant and stylist with a 14-year career in the fashion industry, claimed that she was sacked from a FrostFrench boutique after less than a day because she was black.

Miss Yankah, awarded the sum for injury to feelings and loss of earnings, claimed that the only thing to have changed on her arrival at work last November was a manager's change in attitude at the discovery of her race and colour.

The London employment tribunal heard that Miss Yankah, who was born in Germany but is of African origin, was hired through a recruitment agency to work at the label's temporary Burlington Arcade store in Mayfair, London. FrostFrench denied the allegations of racism. The panel said Miss Yankah had not proved race discrimination outright but FrostFrench had offered no satisfactory explanation.

A FrostFrench spokesman said: "FrostFrench is a multicultural company with a strong commitment to racial equality. We would like to wish Aba Yankah every success in the future. "FrostFrench won't appeal the decision and cannot comment further due to legalities. "I must stress that Sadie and Jemima are deeply upset that the FrostFrench label has been drawn into something like this. Both are huge campaigners for racial equality."

She also pointed out that Miss French has two mixed race children and Miss Frost works closely with a number of African charities.


Burglary now not serious in Britain

These "panelists" might change their tune if THEY were burgled

Burglars and other "less serious" thieves should normally be handed community punishments rather than jail terms, sentencing advisers have recommended. Unpaid work or a curfew could be a better way of punishing such offences, according to a Sentencing Advisory Panel review of principles, which could influence the way that criminals are dealt with. The panel also stated that while the law does not allow the court to take into account the feelings of victims or bereaved relatives when they demand a harsh sentence, judges may listen to them if they are calling for leniency.

A consultation paper published as part of a wide-ranging review of sentencing said: "The panel has . . . concluded that a presumption in favour of a community order is most likely to be appropriate in relation to the less serious offences of theft and dishonesty, burglary and motoring offences, where there may be clear advantages in requiring an offender to serve a sentence in the community."

The risk of an offender committing further, non-serious offences should not automatically lead to jail, the paper added. It said that there was a school of thought which suggested that employed offenders should not be able to avoid jail on the ground that they would lose their jobs, because this would "work against those who are already disadvantaged by being unemployed".


And the world is silent

Fact no. 1: Since the establishment of the State of Israel a merciless genocide is being perpetrated against Muslims and/or Arabs. Fact no. 2: The conflict in the Middle East, between Israel and the Arabs as a whole and against the Palestinians in particular, is regarded as the central conflict in the world today. Fact no. 3: According to polls carried out in the European Union, Israel holds first place as "Danger to world peace". In Holland, for instance, 74% of the population holds this view. Not Iran. Not North Korea. Israel.

Connecting between these findings creates one of the biggest deceptions of modern times: Israel is regarded as the country responsible for every calamity, misfortune and hardship. It is a danger to world peace, not just to the Arab or Muslim world.

How the deception works

The finger is pointed cleverly. It's difficult to blame Israel for the genocide in Sudan or for the civil war in Algeria. How is it done? Dozens of publications, articles, books, periodicals and websites are dedicated to one purpose only: Turning Israel into a state that ceaselessly perpetrates war crimes. In Jakarta and in Khartoum they burn the Israeli flag, and in London, in Oslo and in Zurich hate articles are published, supporting the destruction of Israel.

Any request in Internet search engines for the words "genocide" against "Muslims", "Arabs" or "Palestinians", in the context of "Zionists" or "Israel" - will give us endless results. Even after we've filtered out the trash, we are left with millions of publications written in deadly seriousness.

This abundance brings results. It works like brainwashing. It is the accepted position, and not just a fringe opinion. Only five years ago we were witness to a international anti-Israeli show in the Durban Convention. Only two years ago we were shocked when a member of our Academia blamed Israel of `symbolic genocide' against the Palestinian people. Much ado about nothing. There are thousands of publications blaming Israel of genocide, and not `symbolic'.

Under an academic and/or journalistic umbrella, today's Israel is compared to the damned Germany of yesteryear. In conclusion, there are those who call to terminate the `Zionist project'. And in more simple words: because Israel is a country that perpetrates so many war crimes and engages in ethnic cleansing and genocide - it has no right to exist. This, for instance, is the essence of an article by the Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder (writer of "Sophie's world"), who wrote, among other things: "We call killers of children by their name"). The conclusion is that Israel has no right to exist.

The tragedy is that in Arab and Muslim countries a massacre is happening. A genocide protected by the silence of the world. A genocide protected by a deception that is perhaps unparalleled in the history of mankind. A genocide that has no connection to Israel, to Zionism or to Jews. A genocide of mainly Arabs and Muslims, by Arabs and Muslims.

This is not a matter of opinion or viewpoint. This is the result of factual examination, as precise as possible, of the numbers of victims of various wars and conflicts that have taken place since the establishment of the State of Israel up till this time, in which the massacre continues. It is, indeed, death on a massive scale. A massacre. It is the wiping out of villages and cities and whole populations. And the world is silent. The Muslims are indeed abandoned. They are murdered and the world is silent. And if it bothers to open its mouth, it doesn't complain about the murderers. It doesn't complain about the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. It complains about Israel.

This great deception, that covers up the real facts, endures and even grows because of one reason only: The Media and Academia in the West participate in it. In endless publications, books, periodicals and websites Israel is portrayed as a state that perpetrates "war crimes", "ethnic cleansing", and "systematic murder". Sometimes it is because this is fashionable, sometimes it is mistakenly, sometimes it is the result of hypocrisy and double standards. Sometimes it is new and old anti-Semitism, from the left and from the right, overt and covert. Most of the classic blood libels were refuted not long after they came into being. The blood libel of modern times, against the state of Israel, continues to grow. Many Israelis and Jews are accessories to the nurturing of the libel.

The Arab-Israeli conflict

The Zionist settling of this country, which began at the end of the 19th century, did indeed create a conflict between Jews and Arabs. The amount of those killed in various clashes up till the establishment of the State of Israel was no more than a few thousands, of both Jews and Arabs. Most of the Arabs killed in those years were killed in armed struggles of Arabs amongst themselves; such as, for example, in the days of the Great Arab Uprising of 1936 - 1939. That was a sign of things to come. Many others were killed as a result of the harsh hand wielded by the British. Israel never did anything comparable.

Israel's War of Independence, known also as the War of 48', left between 5,000 to 15,000 dead from among the Palestinians and citizens of Arab countries. In this war, as in any war, there were indeed atrocities. The attackers declared their goal, and if they had won, a mass extermination of Jews would have taken place. On Israel's side there were also barbarous acts, but they were on the fringe of the fringe. Less, far less, than in any other war in modern times. Far less than what is being perpetrated every day in these very times, by Muslims, mainly against Muslims, in Sudan and in Iraq.

The next event of importance was the Sinai War of 1956. About 1,650 Egyptians were killed, about 1,000 at the hands of the Israelis and about 650 by the French and British forces. Next came the Six Day War (1967- IJ). The highest estimates talk of 21,000 Arabs killed on all three fronts - Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The Yom Kippur War (1973 - IJ) resulted in 8,500 Arab dead, this time on only two fronts - Egypt and Syria.

Then there were `smaller' wars: The first Lebanon war, which was initially mainly against the PLO and not against Lebanon. This was a war in a war. These were the years of the bloody civil war in Lebanon, a war we will discuss further later on. And thus also in the second Lebanon war, in which about a thousand Lebanese were killed.

Thousands of Palestinians were killed during the Israeli occupation of the territories, that began at the end of the Six Day War. Most were killed during the two Intifadas, the one that commenced in 1987 and resulted in 1,800 Palestinian deaths, and the one that commenced in 2000 with a Palestinan death toll of 3,700. In between, there were more military actions that caused further Arab fatalities. If we exaggerate, we can say that these were a few hundred more who were killed. Hundreds. Not hundreds of thousands. Not millions.

The total count reaches about 60,000 Arabs killed in the framework of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Among them only several thousand Palestinians, although it is because of them, and only them, that Israel is the target of the world's anger. Every Arab and Muslim death is regrettable. And it is okay to criticize Israel. But the obsessive and demonic criticism emphasizes a far more amazing fact: The silence of the world, or at least relative silence, in the face of the systematic extermination of millions of others by Muslim and Arab regimes.

The blood price of the Muslims

From here on we must ask: How many Arabs and Muslims have been killed in those same years in other countries, for instance, in Russia or in France, and how many Arabs, Muslims and others, were killed in those same years by Arabs and Muslims. The information gathered here is based on various research institutes, academic bodies, international organizations (such as Amnesty and other bodies that follow human rights), the UN, and governmental agents.

In many cases the different organizations present different and contradictory numbers. The differences sometimes reach hundreds of thousands, and sometimes even millions. We will probably never know the precise number. But even the lowest agreed numbers, that are the basis for the tables given here, present a staggering and horrific picture. In addition, time is too short to survey bloody conflicts that are not even covered in these tables, although these conflicts took a higher human toll than the blood price of the whole Arab-Israeli conflict.

Algeria: A few years after the establishment of the State of Israel, there began another war of independence. This time it was Algeria against France, between the years 1954-1962. The number of victims on the Muslim side is a subject for controversy. According to official sources in Algeria it is over a million. There are research institutes in the west that tend to accept that number. French sources have tried in the past to claim that it is only a quarter of a million Muslims, with an additional 100,000 Muslim collaborators with the French. But these estimates are regarded as tendentious and low. Today there is no question that the French killed nearly 600,000 Muslims. And these are the French, who do not stop preaching to Israel, the Israel that in the whole history of its conflict with the Arabs failed to reach even one tenth of that number, and even then, according to the more severe assessments.

The massacre in Algeria continues. In the 1991 elections the Islamic Salvation Front was voted in. The results of the elections were cancelled by the army. Since then a civil war has been raging, between the central government, supported by the army, and Islamic movements. According to various estimates, there have been about 100,000 victims so far. Most of them have been innocent civilians. In most cases it has been horrific massacres of whole villages, women, children and old people. A massacre in the name of Islam. Algeria summary: 500,000 to 1 million in the war of independence; 100,000 in the civil war in the 90's.

Sudan:A country torn by campaigns of destruction, almost all of them between the Arab-Muslim north, that is control of the country, and the south, populated by blacks. Two civil wars have taken place in this country, and a massacre, under government patronage, has been taking place in recent years in the district of Darfur. The first civil war spanned the years of 1955-1972. Moderate estimates talk of 500,000 victims. In 1983 the second civil war began. But it wasn't a civil war but a systematic massacre suitably defined as `genocide'. The goals were Islamization, Arabization and mass deportation, that occasionally becomes slaughter, also for the need to gain control over giant oil fields. We are talking about an estimated 1.9 million victims.

The division between Muslim and other victims is unclear. The large district of Noba, populated by many black Muslims, was served its portion of horrors. The Muslims, should they be black, are not granted any favors. Since the rise to power of radical Islam, under the spiritual guidance of Dr. Hassan Thorabi, the situation has worsened. This is probably the worst series of crimes against humanity since WWII. We're talking about ethnic cleansing, deportations, mass murder, slave trade, forcible enforcement of the laws of Islam, taking children from their parents and more. Millions have become refugees. As far as is known, there are not millions of publications about the Sudanese `Right of Return' and there are no petitions by intellectuals negating Sudan's right to exist.

Recent years have been all about Darfur. Again Muslims (Arabs) are murdering (black) Muslims and heathens, and the numbers are unclear. Moderate estimates are talking about 200,000 victims, higher estimates say 600,000. No one knows for sure. And the slaughter continues. Throughout the atrocities of Sudan, the slaughter has been perpetrated mainly by the Arab Muslim regime, and the great majority of victims, if not all, are black, of all religions, including Muslims. Sudan summary: 2.6 million to 3 million.

More here

Sparta relevant today

Those of you have yet to see [the movie] "300", do yourselves a favor and see it.

(Warning: Spoiler Alert) This movie is not just about the past. It's about today. Right now. It's about each one of you who stands in the breach against the enemy. And it's about each one of you who stands against the enemy within, who would happily widen that breach.

Today's enemy is Islamofascism, but it is little different from the hordes following the tyrannical King Xerxes.Today's enemy within is the left, both at home and across the globe. And they too are little different from the scheming legislator Theron and the vile Ephori, who were willing-even eager-to see all Sparta kneel before Xerxes, just to gain power.

How is the left today any different? Do they not see their own nation, their own people, their own military as the enemy? Do they not seek to withdraw us from the field, to give the enemy the day?And just as Sparta was the lynchpin that defended all Greece-that great cradle of democracy-is not the United States today the last bastion of freedom defending Western civilization?

But what care the left for Western civilization? They HATE Western civilization. They hate the men and women who defend it. They hate themselves.

But truly, this analogue is only the beginning - for what happened at Thermopylae may fairly be said to be the reason we are all breathing the fresh air of freedom today: Xerxes is on the march. Land after land, king after king is falling under the Persian yoke. And now, Xerxes has set his eyes on Greece.

The Spartan King Leonidas knows that the only way to save Greece is to fight...

These Greek city-states are showing the first stirrings of real democratic governance. A much greater percentage of people in Greece enjoy true freedom than in any of the neighboring lands. And it is about to fall under the yoke of a dictatorship.What happens if Leonidas fails? Does the Grecian experiment in democracy fail too, as Greece is trampled under by Xerxes and his army of slaves?

If the Greek cradle of democracy had fallen, Rome would not have absorbed its ideals. If Rome hadn't taken those ideals and spread them into the Western world, where would those ideals be today? How far along would the ideas of representative governance be? Without the Roman example, what would Great Britain have become? Would she have produced the Magna Carta? Would she have produced us, or any of the other nations of the Anglosphere-the freest nations in human history?

A great king knows what he must do, but the enemy within seeks to prevent him. And so it is his wife's words that tip the scales. A single moment-words spoken in a bedchamber 2500 years ago-changes history. Leonidas knew the stakes all too well:

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

British children as young as three should be reported for 'racism', Government-funded group claims

Upsetting little children is no problem for these Fascists

Nursery teachers should inform on youngsters such as these if there is a 'racist incident', says a Government-funded advisory group. Toddlers should be taught about racism and singled out for criticism if they have racist attitudes, a Government-funded advisory group said yesterday.

It told nursery teachers, playgroup leaders and childminders to record and report every racist incident involving children as young as three. These could include saying 'Yuk' about unfamiliar food. Even babies should not be ignored in the hunt for racism because they can 'recognise different people in their lives', a new guide for nurseries and child care centres said.

The instructions for staff in charge of pre-school children in day care have been produced by the National Children's Bureau, which receives œ12million a year, mostly through taxpayer-funded organisations. The NCB, which describes itself as 'an umbrella body for the children's sector', has long used its resources to campaign on controversial issues, for example in favour of a legal ban on smacking by parents. It also runs the Sex Education Forum, a campaign for more sex education in schools.

The new 366-page guide, Young Children and Racial Justice, warned that 'racist incidents among children in early years settings-tend to be around name-calling-casual thoughtless comments, and peer group relationships'. It said such incidents could include children using words like 'blackie', 'Pakis', 'those people' or 'they smell'. Children might also 'react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying "yuk".'

Nursery staff are told: 'No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist intent, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action.' If children 'reveal negative attitudes the lack of censure may indicate to the child that there is nothing unacceptable about such attitudes'. Nurseries are encouraged to report as many racist incidents as possible to local councils. 'Some people think that if a large number of racist incidents are reported, this will reflect badly on the institution,' it said. 'In fact, the opposite is the case.' The guidance said that anyone who disagrees is racist themselves.

It also suggests cultivating the home languages of new immigrants - despite Government anxiety to promote the learning of English. It said: 'English is now viewed as the major language of the world but this is not because it has any innate linguistic advantages - it is because English is the language of power in a world dominated by English-speaking peoples.'

Critics of the race programme for pre- school children labelled it 'totalitarian'. Author and researcher on family life Patricia Morgan said: 'Stepping in to stop severe bullying is one thing, but this is interference in the lives of children. It smacks of totalitarianism. 'It is regulation of private speech and thought. They intend nursery staff to step into children's playground squabbles and then report them to the local council as race incidents. Who would ever have thought that the anti-racism crusade would go so far?'


A good comment from Taranto:

The notion that one's taste in food has anything to do with one's attitude toward groups of people is far-fetched to begin with. Scott Bieser, a commenter on the Telegraph's Web site, comments: "This is hilarious. The American Sotuhwest is filled with racist rednecks who love spicy Mexican food but hate Mexicans."

The idea that a 3-year-old child's aversion to unfamiliar food reflects racism is more preposterous still. Furthermore, scolding such a child for "racism" is likely to make him more conscious of race and therefore more prone to prejudice. But maybe that's the idea. After all, the more race-conscious we are, the more "need" there is for outfits like the National Children's Bureau.

400 members of "Rainbow Family" surround, attack federal officers

Forest Service officials stoned by hippie group allowed to displace Boy Scouts' service project

National Forest Service officials, surrounded and attacked yesterday in Wyoming with sticks and stones by 400 members of the Rainbow Family, were given reason to regret their decision to cancel a long-planned national service project by the Boy Scouts of America in favor of the unorganized annual gathering of hippies, anarchists and "free spirits" who commune with nature and each other.

According to a statement released by the Forest Service's Incident Command Team in Rock Springs, Wyo., officers patrolling the main meadow of the seven-day event held near Sandy Springs made contact with a man who fled and was later apprehended. A second Rainbow attendee was detained for interfering in the arrest. As 10 officers began to leave the area with their suspects, they were surrounded by an estimated 400 members of the Rainbow Family. A request for additional officers was made. "The mob began to advance, throwing sticks and rocks at the officers. Crowd-control tactics were used to keep moving through the group of Rainbows," the news release said. When back-up support arrived, officers made five arrests. A government vehicle was damaged and one officer was treated for injuries at a local hospital and released.

"This lawless behavior is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it," said John Twiss, Forest Service director of law enforcement. "The safety of our employees, public and Rainbow participants is our number one priority, and we will continue to protect everyone on the national forest."

As WND reported, the Forest Service canceled a week-long national service project by approximately 1,000 members of the Order of the Arrow, the honor society for the Boy Scouts of America, scheduled since 2004, after the Rainbow Family announced it would hold its annual gathering in the same general location. As WND has reported, the Order of the Arrow has been working for several years to put together this year's public service project called ArrowCorps5.

The plans include about 5,000 top Boy Scouts from across the country donating an estimated 250,000 hours of time to restore, repair, rebuild, reclaim and refurbish miles of trails, acres and glens at five different sites in the nation's forests. In most cases, the scouts pay their own travel and room and board expenses to participate in the biggest service project since World War II.

"ArrowCorps5 is the largest, most complex, most challenging conservation project ever conceived by the Order of the Arrow and Boy Scouts of America," said Brad Haddock, chairman of the National Order of the Arrow Committee. "This project provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for each participant to set an example of leadership in service to those who treasure our national forests."

The decision by the Forest Service to evict the Scouts left local Wyoming leaders infuriated. "It's a matter of intimidation," Sublette, Wyo., County commissioner Joel Bousman told WND. "It appears the Rainbow group has managed to intimidate an entire federal agency."

Mark Rey, the federal undersecretary supervising the U.S. Forest Service, met with Rainbow Family members earlier in Pinedale, and urged them to move their gathering, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. They refused. Rey told WND he thought the decision to move the Scouts to somewhere else and leave the Rainbow Family alone was the best under the circumstances. He said the government allows the Rainbow Family to bypass its regular permit requirements in favor of an "operating plan" but the bottom line was that the government didn't want to be arresting hundreds or thousands of people. "They couldn't be expelled without a fairly significant amount of law enforcement activity," he told WND a week before the gathering began.

"The Boy Scouts have been planning this since 2004," Bousman told WND. "They've been through the planning process and have been working very cooperatively with our Forest Service. They've spent lots of money planning the biggest venture ever for the Boy Scouts. "They did everything legally, they had their permits. But because of the fact Undersecretary Rey, for whatever reason, took it on himself to do what he has referred to as an experimental process by which he does not require the Rainbow Group to have any permit, the conflict developed," Bousman said.

Now, the "significant amount of law enforcement activity" Rey was hoping to avoid by not holding the Rainbow family to the standard permitting process has become unavoidable. Following yesterday's melee, members of the gathering told the Star-Tribune a far different story than that told by the Forest Service. "They were so violent, like dogs," camper Robert Parker said after the incident. "People yelled at them, 'You're shooting children.'" Rainbow members claimed they were Tasered, hit with rubber bullets and pepper spray balls, and had guns pointed at them.

"These people deliberately, for hours, were aggressively working the camp over and working the people over," a Rainbow who gave his name only as Ryan said. "They chose the kiddie village - the one place, the kids, to take their stand and create a riot, and I bought into it. ... They were looking for an excuse to do some damage to us." Ryan's partner, Feather, said she was pepper-sprayed, and saw another Rainbow member with welts all over his body.

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union announced plans to investigate how federal law enforcement treated those attending the gathering. Linda Burt, executive director of the ACLU in Wyoming, said her organization would accept collect calls from Rainbow Family members for the next two weeks to gather information.

Meanwhile, the ArrowCorps5 projects already completed in other states are being credited with making "immediate" changes, Scott Scheffler, a volunteer spokesman for the Scouts, told WND. In Missouri, for example, 100 acres of invasive salt cedar was removed, restoring the area's water table, allowing grasslands to re-grow and restoring the area's beautiful vistas.


Hope Has Not Necessarily Died

This is a time when a foul murderer by the name of Samir Kuntar is being exchanged for the bodies of two Israelis kidnapped and killed by Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is a time when the Iranian leadership regularly promotes genocide by boasting that Israel is about to be wiped off the face of the earth. But it is also a time when an Algerian intellectual by the name of Boualem Sansal can give an interview in the prestigious French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur and reveal that hope has not necessarily died.

I had never previously heard of Boualem Sansal. He is described in the interview as a former Algerian civil servant, and author of four earlier novels, and now a fifth with the title of Le Village de l'Allemand, or The Village of the German. He says he took his subject from a real-life discovery that there was a Nazi, a former S.S. man who had more or less colonized a village in Algeria, converted to Islam and was regarded as a hero locally. "The Hitler salute," Sansal says, "has always had its partisans in Algeria."

For a couple of decades now, Algeria has been in the throes of a brutish and murky civil war, costing an estimated 200,000 lives, most of them simple villagers caught and massacred either by Islamists or the military regime. Al-Qaeda in North Africa is presently establishing a base there, trying to colonize the country. The more he researched his novel, Sansal tells us, the more he saw "a substantial similarity between Nazism and the political order that prevails in Algeria." Both are one-party states, with militarization, brainwashing, the falsification of history, the exaltation of the race, the tendency to claim victimhood and to assert that there is a conspiracy against the nation. There is glorification of the leader, an omnipresent police, mass organizations, religious indoctrination. Xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism, he adds, have been elevated to the status of dogmas. We all know, he sums up, that "the line separating Nazism from Islamism is a thin one."

September 11 was "a terrible shock to all of us." Then he understood that Islamism was far more radical than anyone had imagined. Islamism is the matrix of terrorism, and only Muslims and their theologians can engage with it, to recover the Enlightenment that long ago was theirs. His books are banned in Algeria, he thinks of packing his bags, but decides to stay because one day the country will rediscover its way, and he would like to be there to see it happen.

Which is more impressive, the truth and clarity of this man's vision or his courage in expressing it so openly? And who knows what a free spirit like this may achieve?


Leftist puritans rife in the Australian government

From which circle of hell did all these finger-waggers spring? Never have I seen so many preachers so keen to bully others for their own "good". Last week it was Health Minister Nicola Roxon (again) in her Sass and Bide hairshirt, this time warning smokers they may soon need a permit to puff. A licence for cigarettes, Roxon says, is "one of the types of things" her health taskforce may tell her to impose.

Have these people gone mad? Strained a tolerance muscle in their Pilates class? For the first time I feel the temptation to light up a cancer-stick. Indeed, I couldn't think of many nobler causes for which to lay down my wheezing life.

A new breed of puritans is upon us and growing far too puffed up themselves. It's increasingly urgent they be resisted. Consider what plans they've already unveiled to cramp your life and set it to their stern order. Sprinklers on your garden? Banned now for years - to "save" country rivers from the new dams that these concrete greens find hideous, or would if they ever drove out to see one.

Mockery of someone's faith? Also banned, under hate-speech laws - to "save" the too-tender ears of tolerance tut-tutters too intolerant to show tolerance themselves.

Plastic bags to lug home your shopping? To be fined with a 25 cent levy - to "save" the planet from a plastic that smug green baggers find capitalistically crass.

Pre-mixed drinks? Hit with a new alcopop tax - to "save" teenagers from a drink that these pinot preachers find sick-makingly sweet.

Petrol? To be made dearer by an emissions trading scheme - to "save" the planet from a warming that these car-haters and salvation-seekers won't admit halted a decade ago.

Cramp, crimp, crush, ban. Designer sackcloth for everyone. Good heavens, so drunk on bans are these people - drunker than any alcopopper - that a forum of St Kilda residents last week even suggested locals be made to wear ankle bracelets so that visitors could be detected after dark and thrown out. Yes, true, I'm afraid. What next: microchip owners of airconditioners?

Judge the censorious mood from this homely planet-saving advice in last month' edition of the Rural Women's Network Newsletter: "At Easter, we avoid foil-wrapped chocolate eggs by having our kids paint hard-boiled eggs and stones . . . For my daughter's sixth birthday last year we took a tribe of children on a nearby bushwalk and had a rubbish-collecting competitions." Stones for Easter eggs? Rubbish collecting for a little girl's party? This isn't meant to save a planet but to impose someone's joy-killing morality.

It's not just a madness confined to Australia, of course. The Left in every English-speaking land is now indulging its inner totalitarian. How mad is the mood? Here's another measure: America's Democratic Party says its national convention to endorse Barack Obama as its presidential candidate must be the "greenest convention in the history of the planet". So it's not only banned fried food and insisted on organic, but ordered that every meal served to delegates be nutritiously vibrant, including "at least three of the following colours: red, green, yellow, blue-purple, and white". When strangers hover over your plate, demanding you eat not only your greens but your purples, yellows and whites, both of you have a problem.

Actually, everyone does. I mean, if that's the bossing that Democrats inflict on each other, what might they do to everyone else once in power? Good question, and in Australia we already have the scary answer to what our own elite would do to us.

Finger-waggers, as you know, are most commonly found among the "intelligentsia" - famous for producing mega-theories to excuse sticking its nose into other people's business. Think, say, of communism, fascism and now global warming. Ever since the French Revolution we've known that such people are best kept well away from power. But, alas, earlier this year 1000 of the "best and brightest" of this very class, plus a few token conservatives, were instead summoned by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to come to Canberra and tell him how to run the country.

I knew this would end in tears. Read these people's final report, released a month ago, and tremble. Or laugh. It's a Mein Kampf for meddlers - a defence of for-your-own-good bullying that is startling in its contempt for our right to decide for ourselves not just how to live, but even what to eat. What? People deciding for themselves? Buying their own stuff? "We don't realise how insidious this individualism is," chorused our "best and brightest". "Individuality trumps community at every turn" when we really "need to move from individualism to community focus".

Even what people eat should be seen as a decision best made not just by individual diners, but with "the emphasis on collective responsibility". Of course, some party pooper at Rudd's summit must have coughed nervously, because the report goes on: "A view was put forward that this type of approach to policy and program implementation would risk the notion of a 'nanny state' and overrestriction of behaviour . . ." But damn it: "It was felt . . . that health promotion must not succumb to these pressures."

Why not is not explained. It is enough that our "best and brightest" disapprove of what you do. So, having given themselves licence even to dash the chips from your mouth and the slurpee from your hand, off they go, thinking up fresh ways to bully you into living the life of their jackbooted dreams.

Here's just some of the bans and new by-laws their 2020 report urges on Rudd: "A junk-food tax"; "a 2.5 cent increased tax on each cigarette"; "abolishing cigarettes and alcohol brought into the country duty-free"; "more stairs in workplaces to encourage people to avoid using the escalators"; "price foods according to their carbon costs"; and "educating the 'white' population on indigenous culture".

Making people suffer is actually good: "Cities should become car-unfriendly." Making them go without is the whole idea: "Don't just buy green, buy less." And having to force them to obey is no problem: "We need . . . accountability mechanisms to reduce their consumption", plus "levers" such as "taxation, incentives (positive and negative) and regulation". You can hear them drooling over that, no?

Here are bullies who dream of interfering even with your right to buy musical instruments, demanding we "move from buying to hiring", and adding: "Examples are pianos . . ." Pianos, but not didgeridoos, of course.

It's hard to believe our allegedly finest minds could still think like this not two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Somehow, these are people who must have read George Orwell's grim 1984 as not a warning but an inspiration. When Orwell wrote of his poor hero being forced "to join in compulsory exercises following the instructions given by a woman from the telescreen", our intelligentsia must have thought: "Great idea! Let's tell Rudd!" And, sure enough, the report recommends that "half an hour of physical activity (be) built into sedentary jobs". Oh, what a kick, to force millions to run on the spot.

Who unleashed these salon Stalinists? These health fascists? These warming commissars? Who let them loose to flog us sinners into living lives more holy, by their grim creed?



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Another Big Endorsement of Shari'a in the UK

Islamists seeking to impose aspects of Shari'a law in Britain received a major boost last week from the nation's top judge, Lord Phillips. Speaking at a London mosque, Phillips opined that Muslims should be permitted to have marital and financial disputes decided according to Islamic legal doctrines. Stephen Hockman QC, a leading barrister and former chairman of the Bar Council, elaborated on the chief justice's reasoning:
Given the world situation and our own substantial Muslim population it is vital that we now look at ways to integrate Muslim culture into our own traditions. Otherwise we will find that there is a significant section of our society which is increasingly alienated, with very dangerous results.
One could only wonder how Shari'a, which mandates an inferior status for women and has inspired an array of baroque investment mechanisms, would benefit either the UK or its Muslim community in the adjudication of marital and financial cases.

The debate over the role of Shari'a in Britain has taken center stage during the past year, particularly among senior clerics. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sparked a furor in February when he argued that adopting provisions of Shari'a "seems unavoidable" and would improve social cohesion. In Williams' view, the notion that "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger."

Williams came under heavy fire from Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, who contended that incorporating Islamic law into British law is "simply impossible . without fundamentally affecting its integrity." Specifically, Shari'a "would be in tension with the English legal tradition on questions like monogamy, provisions for divorce, the rights of women, custody of children, laws of inheritance and of evidence," along with "freedom of belief and of expression." Many of Nazir-Ali's arguments have been echoed by Williams' predecessor as archbishop, George Carey.

The British government already promotes Shari'a finance and awards additional welfare benefits to Muslim men with more than one wife. However, Downing Street quickly distanced itself from Phillips, reiterating that "British law should be based on British values and determined by the British Parliament."

That politicians on both sides of the aisle have thus far resisted calls to formally sanction Shari'a law for dispute resolution is cause for optimism; that so many prominent figures keep issuing such demands is cause for pessimism.


Now "society" is responsible for providing leisure activities??

Eric Woods, 14, said he and his friends stay busy and out of trouble during summer break, but it isn't always easy. Many of the kids in his neighborhood aren't as diligent and spend much of the summer getting in trouble because there isn't enough for them to do, he said. "I play all-stars and go swimming at Peabody," Eric said. "But there could be more to do -- maybe some more baseball and some football. There just needs to be more to do."

Eric and his friends were walking back home from the store Friday afternoon with a bag full of soda and snacks after playing ball. Kids like Eric and his friends are just a handful of the groups of school-aged children and adults alike seen out and about all over the city and parish -- a number that drastically increases as the temperatures increase.

"The juvenile problem is horrible during the summer," Alexandria Police Chief Daren Coutee said of increased crime and problems. "(Kids) are out of school and don't have anything constructive to do." The outcome of more people out and about? An increase in thefts, burglaries, criminal mischief and batteries, police said. And much of that increase can be blamed on children being out of school and unsupervised. Alexandria Police reported a marked increase in thefts from the winter months to summer months with an increase of as much as 45 percent. In January of 2007 there were 205 reported thefts, July of the same year there were 297.

Rapides Parish Sheriff's Capt. Matt Davis said the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office sees in an increase in nearly every crime over the summer months, and with that comes an increase in juvenile arrests. "A lot of kids and young adults have a lot of free time and little supervision during the summer," he said. "And the saying goes, 'Idle time is the devil's workshop.' The more time on their hands the more ways they will find to get into mischief with their friends."

Alexandria Police Juvenile Detective Kenneth Joseph said the biggest problem he sees isn't just a lack of recreation, but a lack of affordable recreation. "There may be some things out there, but they aren't affordable to the kids that have the greatest need, who are at the greatest risk," he said. "And another problem is a lack of transportation to those activities."

That's a problem Davis echoed. He said the Sheriff's Office tries to do its part by supporting youth recreation -- like baseball and softball leagues -- but that there is only so much it can do. And the parish is a much larger area and most of its youth can't get to programming and camps in the city. "I would like to see more partnerships between the Sheriff's Office and other organizations," Davis said. "We have all these school buildings and if we could give them something to do there it would be convenient to get there, help build school pride and create activities to keep kids off the street and in a safe environment."

Alexandria YMCA Chief Executive Officer Steve Alexander agrees. He'd like to see similar partnerships. Alexander also realizes there's a lack of accessible summer programming, although he points out that they have a number of programs and provide financial assistance when needed. "We are trying to do a better job with partnering with other agencies and developing some good quality programming," he said of the YMCA. "Not every child that needs programs can get to the YMCA."

Currently, the YMCA has a summer day camp for children up to 14. After the camp closes, the Turner Street YMCA is open to children for basketball and swimming from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at a cost of $5 to $10. "Every program the YMCA offers -- it may just seem like playing basketball -- has a set of core values we believe in," Alexander said. "They are all geared towards caring, respect, responsibility and honesty. "¯ We feel at the YMCA that you start with strong kids and that builds strong families which then builds strong communities." He said the YMCA doesn't turn anyone away based on inability to pay. "We think it is important that kids have something constructive to do," Alexander said.

So do Alexandria Police. But in addition to keeping kids active and supervised, another way to help alleviate the spike in summer crime is to be more responsible and cautious, police said. There are basic things that people can do to make them less likely to be targets of both juvenile criminals and career burglars and thieves, Alexandria Police Detective Russell Beauregard said. "When it gets hot, people are more restless and out more and kids aren't in school so you see more of these crimes," he said.

Beauregard and Alexandria Police Detective Robert Distefano said doing things like locking your cars and home, securing items in a car's trunk, having your mail and newspaper picked up when you go out of town for vacation and getting a motion sensor light can help keep you from becoming a victim. In addition to being more vigilant about your own property and safety, Beauregard said it's important for people to do their part to help police and their neighbors. "As police and detectives we can't solve everything all by ourselves," he said. "We need the public's help. If you see a suspicious act, call the police. If your neighbor is out of town, keep an eye on things."

And another thing to keep in mind, Distefano said, is to keep track of serial numbers on high dollar items like televisions, computers and cameras to help in recovering them if they are stolen.

Joseph said anytime kids have time alone with nothing to do, they will fill that void with whatever they can think of, and often times those thoughts go towards the criminal. "The more recreation we have the more it would help the juvenile criminal problem," he said. "And this 'spike' in crime isn't limited to one area, it's all over the city in every community. Crime does not discriminate."


Earl Ofari Hutchinson: "Denver Singer's Black National Anthem Switcheroo Was A Risky Act For Obama, And Black Americans"

The black liberal commentator opines about a recent controversial event: "Heaven only knows what black Denver singer [Rene] Marie was thinking when she stood at the microphone and belted out the lyrics of the black national anthem instead of the agreed on Star Spangled Banner. The event was Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's annual state of the city address and confab. Marie was engaged at no pay to sing the customary opening Star Spangled Banner. The black national anthem penned by civil rights legend and songwriter James Weldon Johnson a century ago is a beautiful, lilting, and powerful expression of black pride and dignity. It has been a virtual staple at any and every kind of black gathering down through the years. And that's where it's appropriate to sing it. The Denver Mayor's event wasn't. Marie's tortured explanation for switching songs is take your pick: it was a matter of artistic expression, her way of showing her pride in being black, a veiled protest against racial mistreatment and discrimination, and her personal statement against the alleged racial hypocrisy of America. Her explanations are facile and self-serving and just about everyone with an opinion on the issue appropriately blasted her and demanded a formal apology which she hasn't as yet given. She should apologize publicly, and do it now."

He continues his commentary: "Her ill-timed, totally inappropriate act has been fodder for speculation that it could have a possible backdoor blowback on Obama. Obama immediately rapped Marie for her wrong headed switcheroo, and said that there's only one national anthem. Obama had to move fast and knock the singer's act. The Democratic convention will be in Denver in August and Obama can ill-afford to have even the slightest hint that he approves anything that could be construed as an act that disrespects America's number one, time tested emblematic expression of American patriotism, especially from a black singer. And even more especially given that Colorado with a Democratic controlled legislature, and rising numbers of younger voters and Hispanic voters could be ripe for the picking from the GOP orbit in the fall. The bigger reason is that Obama more than any other presidential candidate in recent times is hyper sensitive to the patriotism issue. Republican rival John McCain has been scrupulously careful not to stoke any doubt about Obama's patriotism. But others have. Conservative websites, chat rooms, and some writers have feasted off impugning Obama's patriotism. They have slandered and ridiculed his name; dumped on his wife Michelle for her off the cuff, repeatedly clarified in context, comment about her lack of pride in America, and the one time absence of an American flag from the lapel in his suits. This line of attack can't be easily shrugged off as a below-the-belt slug by fringe ultra conservatives or professional political hit specialists. Despite his recent slog to the center, even right on some positions, Obama is still widely regarded by moderates and conservatives as a liberal Democrat."

More commentary from Mr. Hutchinson: "Conservatives have long since seized the high ground on the issue of what is or isn't true patriotism and cast themselves as the protectors and defenders of the flag, the national anthem, and their read and interpretation of American traditions against the liberal defilers. Obama has one more albatross that white liberal Democratic presidential contenders didn't have. He's African-American. There's the inherent suspicion among some that African-Americans are eternal rebels, and chronic social malcontents who undermine conventional American values and traditions. It's a short step from that false and bigoted notion to see blacks as less patriotic than white Americans. Unfortunately this ridiculous tar of Obama as somehow less of a true patriot because of who he is and what his votes and stances on the issues have been is not just a taint him in the minds of some. Those same minds tar blacks with the same, broad unpatriotic brush. Marie was probably oblivious to the implications of her rash act. In a follow up remarks, she blithely blew it off as simply being a risky artistic act. It was much more than that. It was a risky act for Obama and African-Americans."

My response: I love the "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" and have no problem with it. I sing the lyrics. "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" is musically superior to "The Star-Spangled Banner." However, it was highly inappropriate for Ms. Marie to use the Black National Anthem's lyrics as a substitute for America's national anthem, and set it to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner". Racializing the national anthem - a rare time where we come together in unity - was a definite no-no. If she is so disdainful of America that she refuses to no longer sing the "Star-Spangled Banner", then (1) why live in America; and (2) contract to sing the national anthem? Geez. By the way, I disagree with Mr. Hutchinson that this reflects upon Sen. Barack Obama or black Americans as a group. Last week, I was at the free Chaka Khan concert at the Taste of Chicago. They started off with the National Anthem, and about 85% of the overwhelmingly black crowd stood up in respect (in the past at other events, I've seen most blacks refuse to stand up for the anthem).


What's in a Name?

By Barry Rubin (Prof. Rubin maintains a watching brief over media distortions about Israel)

We all know--though the Western media often doesn't--that radical Arab nationalists, Islamists, and terrorists lie all the time. They then slander and threaten those who point out the truth. Yet often, governments, journalists, and academics split the difference or even find the liars more credible since they are not governments, Westerners, or Jews.

There is one case after another of this situation. Some make global headlines like the Dura case, where French television covered up its staged broadcast claiming that Israel killed a boy in Gaza even when a French court found it was phony, or the supposed Jenin massacre, reported on the basis of one unknown Palestinian witness and maintained by many even after the UN found it phony. And then there are the every-day frauds perpetrated. Yet it is always nice to have the proof.

One category is, as explained by the blog "Harry's Place" recently, when "Islamists in the West habitually say one thing to their English-speaking audience, and another thing to their Arabic speaking audience." The specific item in question is a statement made by Muhammad Sawalha, president of the British Muslim Initiative, to Al-Jazeera about a big pro-Israel celebration in London: "We, the Arab and Islamic community, gather here today to express our resentment at the celebrations by the Jewish community and the [evil Jew/Jewish evil] in Britain"

Sawalha is a powerful man in British Muslim circles: founder of IslamExpo and a trustee of the Finsbury Park Mosque, formerly the center for recruiting terrorists and inveighing against the Jews. According to the "Harry's Place" article, Sawalha is a key figure in the Muslim Brotherhood and a Hamas supporter and fundraiser. But when writing in the British media, Sawalha and his cohorts try to sound moderate, and no doubt many British elite members see them in such terms. As so often happens, however, the response of Sawalha and company was neither to affirm proudly their views--which are typical of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood propaganda in the Arab world--nor to back down but to fabricate and attack.

It reminds me of the time that a BBC stringer in Gaza made a pro-Hamas speech which appeared on that group's site. When Israel complained, the speech was quickly taken down. The BBC then said it could not investigate the issue since there was no remaining evidence. The fact that a "screen shot" existed of the article did not move them from that stance.

Or when Islamist terrorism leads to criticism the response of Muslim individuals, institutions, and regimes is to put a far lower priority on rejecting or reitnerpreting the specific texts used by the Islamist terrorists than to claim "Islamophobia" on the part of the critics.

And so Al-Jazeera simply changed the wording of the interview's text to read: "Jewish lobby" instead of the "evil Jew." As an aside, note that "evil Jew" is a far more vicious statement than "evil Jews." After all, the latter implies opposition to those Jews who support Israel while the former pushes the idea that Jews are innately evil, an idea that is usually or almost always present in Hamas, Islamist, and a great deal of general Arab discourse.[2]

At any rate, the British Muslim Initiative then issued a press release they put on the "Harry's Place" site but not on their own. (As so often happens with the language switcheroo, the radicals don't want their own supporters to know about their moderate pretenses or understand that they know it is all a con-game. The release basically called "Harry's Place" a bunch of, well they didn't quite say it but a prime example of the "evil Jew." It states: "Zionist Racist website lies in order to justify its hate-rhetoric. While `Harry's Place' may not be known as a bastion of truth and balanced comment - not even in the remotest sense of these words - its latest blunder shows it as an entirely incompetent source of information."

Well, the source of information was al-Jazeera but I guess that isn't what they mean. The release continues:

"It is of course possible that... the moderators of this vile blog-space - which has made it its mission to attack Islam and Muslims in whatever underhand methods it can get away with - deliberately skewed the word `Lobby' to turn it into some other word and make it seem as though it means `evil/noxious', in order to portray not only Mohammed Sawalha, but BMI and all the projects that Mr. Sawalha is linked to, as `Jew-haters' and `anti-Semitic.'"

Now of course the Initiative knows that the article was quoting al-Jazeera but they never mention the actual text there. Note also how the criticism of a specific individual's statement turns into an "attack [on] Islam and Muslims." And the cute touch that the site is trying to "get away" with something when it is actually the Initiative that is doing so. And also, if the statement was so innocent than why did al-Jazeera change the wording without stating it had made a correction?

But Anas Altikriti, a spokesman of BMI, let's the cat out of the bag--though that might not be an apt phrase given such group's attitudes toward lovable animals--by saying: "This particular blog-space and its moderators are nonentities and insignificant. However, its danger lies in that in the past some corners of our mainstream media have picked up on its drivel and used it as fact."

Yes, that's it: what is the mainstream media started reporting on the antisemitism of Islamists instead of harping on blaming Israel for everything. Taking a line from Seinfeld's description of Newman, the spokesman calls the site, "Pure evil."

As "Harry's Place" responds, in the framework of Western democratic civilization, they could have just said that al-Jazeera made a mistake and its been corrected. But no, because their side must be completely right and the other side must be "pure evil."

The actual examination of evidence is not a big thing in Arab nationalist or Islamist circles. Come to think of it, not so popular in Western academic, intellectual, and media circles either any more. And, of course, that which is pure evil--especially pure "Jewish evil" must be exterminated. Funny, you-know-who, the guy with the little moustache, used to say the same thing.

I have an idea for a new word and I hope that governments, universities, international institutions, and the mass media take it up with the same enthusiasm as they have "Islamophobia." Let's call it: Judaeophobia.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Monday, July 07, 2008

British sniffer dogs to wear `Muslim' bootees

Police sniffer dogs will have to wear bootees when searching the homes of Muslims so as not to cause offence. Guidelines being drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) urge awareness of religious sensitivities when using dogs to search for drugs and explosives. The guidelines, to be published this year, were designed to cover mosques but have been extended to include other buildings.

Where Muslims object, officers will be obliged to use sniffer dogs only in exceptional cases. Where dogs are used, they will have to wear bootees with rubber soles. "We are trying to ensure that police forces are aware of sensitivities that people can have with the dogs to make sure they are not going against any religious or cultural element within people's homes. It is being addressed and forces are working towards doing it," Acpo said.

Problems faced by the use of sniffer dogs were highlighted last week when Tayside police were forced to apologise for a crime prevention poster featuring a german shepherd puppy, in response to a complaint by a Muslim councillor. Islamic injunctions warn Muslims against contact with dogs, which are regarded as "unclean".

Police dogs at present are issued with footwear only at scenes of explosions to prevent them injuring their paws on broken glass.

Ibrahim Mogra, one of Britain's leading imams, said the measures were unnecessary: "In Islamic law the dog is not regarded as impure, only its saliva is. Most Islamic schools of law agree on that. If security measures require to send a dog into a house, then it has to be done. I think Acpo needs to consult better and more widely. "I know in the Muslim community there is a hang-up against dogs, but this is cultural. Also, we know the British like dogs; we Muslims should do our bit to change our attitudes."

John Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: "The police are in effect being overly sensitive to potential criminals and not being sensitive enough to the public at large who need to be protected. These sort of things have a counter-productive effect because they cause huge friction between different communities." Caroline Kisko, of the Kennel Club, said: "We would not condone any attempt to make search dogs wear special clothing, which could cause them distress."


A grassroots complaint from Georgia

Am I the only one who has had his fill of the garbage put out there from the NAACP? I doubt it. There is a problem between many black and whites. And the "R word" is the reason we are having problems, but it is not racism, it's resentment. What could white people resent about black people? Here is a partial list: affirmative action, O.J. Simpson, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Jeremiah Wright, black racism, Duke lacrosse scandal, Al Sharpton, class warfare, Don Imus, Jesse Jackson, the N word, and Presidential voting conclusions.

Affirmative action is a big one. It is supposed to make up for poor treatment in the past. But is it fair? If your grandfather stole something from my grandfather 50 years ago, should you be put in jail today? If someone stole your car, does that give you the right to steal mine? Do two wrongs make a right? If you give something to someone who did not earn it, you have taken it away from someone who did. Racial discrimination is wrong whether it is black racism or white racism. Both are unconstitutional.

Everybody, black or white, knows that O.J. Simpson killed two people, but a black jury set him free. His trial began a period, which still exists today, where black people are justified for whatever they do or are judged to be innocent simply because they are black, i.e., racism.

If a white person said what the Rev. Wright said, only about black people, we would have seen march after march in front of his church by Al Sharpton and other black "leaders." Don Imus said three words in a poor attempt at humor, not racism, and Sharpton gets him fired. Imus could not have been more contrite and apologetic, but he loses his job. Wright continues to unrepentantly spew racial hatred and Sharpton defends and justifies him. Unbelievable. If you are black (or a Democrat) you not only get a pass, but are vigorously defended. If not, there are no excuses and you must be severely punished.

The Rev. Sharpton, by the way, is not a problem solver. He is a flame fanner. He and others are in the race business. If he does not find racism he is out of business. He has yet to complain how a white person has been treated. He does not care about people. He cares about black people.

In the primaries, 94 percent of black people voted for Obama, but if 94 percent of white voters voted for John McCain in the November election, every black person in the country would scream racism. How does racism only work one way?

Incidentally, not even black people can criticize black people. I have been listening to Tom Joyner for almost 12 years, but not as long as Tavis Smiley has been on the program. He criticized Obama for not going to Memphis on the 40-year anniversary of MLK's death. He was universally castigated by black people to the point that he submitted his resignation from the TJMS. We all know the scolding Bill Cosby has received for contending that black people are causing their own problems. Same lesson: black people are untouchable.

Ninety-four percent of Clark Atlanta University is black, but UGA needs to admit more blacks for diversity? Where is the needed diversity at CAU? There is a 100 Black Men of Atlanta group, but if someone started 100 White Men of Atlanta we would have Sharpton back in town screaming that day.

The hypocrisy and double standards are mind numbing, yet never addressed. You can't complain about being treated differently if you, in turn, are treating people differently.

Class warfare is used to promote an "us against them" sentiment. Why are so many black people poor? The two most obvious reasons: 69 percent of black children are born to single moms and 50 percent of black teenagers do not graduate from high school. Two quick fixes are in the statistics. Black women college graduates make more money than white women graduates and married black men have the same employment/unemployment rate as married white men.

Any objective eye can see that the above two things and black-on-black crime are the three biggest problems facing the black community. Yet black "leaders" turn a blind eye. People will march for the Jena 6, but where was the outrage when, on July 26, 2007, an Atlanta 9-year-old girl was shot and killed while sitting at her computer by a stray bullet from a gang member? Sharpton could not care less because the shooter would have been black.

John Jones, of the Fayette County NAACP, had the predictable interpretation of what went on in court with DFCS supervisor Cylenthia Clark's case. It's all about racism, blah, blah blah. Exactly what we would expect NAACP court observers to find. The NAACP is the modern day version of the old crying wolf story. The boy cried wolf for no reason so often that the villagers stopped taking him seriously. Nobody takes the "racism" cry seriously for exactly the same reason. Time to give it a rest.

Some might try to discount me as racist, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have four adopted daughters, two Korean and two black. When you have met that standard of acceptance, we can talk about me being racist. The latter two have only experienced racism from the dark-skin black girls intolerant of their light skin and how they talked white (like their parents). After one daughter was pushed down a flight of stairs by two of her persecutors, we had to switch high schools. The only ones who took exception to their skin color were people of the same color, only of a different shade.

Bottom line, Mr. Jones: if my job is loading trucks, I will load trucks. If my job is finding racism, I will find racism. The day we no longer have people whose job it is to find racism is the day racism will have virtually disappeared from sight. Wise up.


THE NEW RACE WAR: Black, Hispanic gangs kill each other over turf

Innocents caught in crossfire in cities from coast to coast

Latino gang members were hunting for black people in the Harbor Gateway community of Los Angeles. Age was not a factor. Neither was gender. Cheryl Green, 14, was on her scooter, talking to friends when a hail of bullets killed the 8th-grader and injured several other black youngsters. That was December 2006. But the race-motivated carnage has only increased since then, say law-enforcement authorities from coast to coast - with Hispanic gangs targeting blacks and black gang reciprocating as their communities are increasing surrounded by the exploding population of Hispanics, much of it fueled by illegal immigration. In Harbor Gateway, the dividing line is 206th Street. Blacks understand it is not safe to cross over to the Hispanic side and Hispanics know it is not safe to cross over to the black side.

Federal prosecutors last year charged members of a Latino gang with conducting a violent campaign to drive blacks out of the Florence-Firestone neighborhood in L.A. County, which resulted in some 20 homicides over several years. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca wrote in a newspaper editorial that "some of L.A.'s so-called gangs are really no more than loose-knit bands of blacks or Latinos roaming the streets looking for people of the other color to shoot."

Perhaps the highest profile example of what some believe to be a racial hate crime was the shooting death of Jamiel Shaw II, a promising high school football player killed near his Los Angeles home in March. Pedro Espinoza, 19, a Latino gang member and illegal immigrant, stands accused of the homicide. He sports a large "18" tattoo on his back, signifying him as a member of the 18th Street gang. He also has a smaller 18 tattooed near his left eye and the letters BK tattooed behind his left ear. Gang experts say BK stands for "Blood Killer." Though Espinoza has pleaded not guilty to the charge, a witness quotes him as saying days after the shooting: "BK all day. I'm going to wipe all the Bloods out."

"We have domestic terrorists right here," said California Attorney General Jerry Brown at a recent gang summit in L.A. County. "Gangs are like a disease, like a cancer in a community. We have to do more." Brown compared what is happening in the streets of his state to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also called on the entertainment industry stop glorifying the violent gang lifestyle in music and movies. "I think Denzel Washington and [Robert] De Niro and anyone who has made money glamorizing gang members should contribute [to programs to help kids out of gangs]," said Constance Rice, co-director and co-founder of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles, at the summit.

In May, racial tensions between blacks and Hispanics erupted at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. At least eight students were suspended and one arrested after a race riot broke out.

In 2003, 5,570 young people, age 10-24, were murdered - an average of 15 each day. Most were black. While statistics show most of the violence in minority communities is black on black or Hispanic on Hispanic, the trend is shifting, according to many law enforcement officials who say they see an upsurge in racial violence. Among 10- to 24-year olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for blacks and the second leading cause of death for Hispanics. The Justice Department reported that in 2005, the homicide rate for black males, 18-25, was just over 102 per 100,000, and only 12.5 deaths per 100,000 for their white counterparts.

In Coatesville, Penn., near Philadelphia, the police department is expressing concern about widespread reports of black city residents victimizing Hispanics - mostly illegal immigrants. Police Chief William Matthews says the reports include robberies, assaults and rapes. He warns if the attacks are not contained, they could trigger the formation of violent Hispanic gangs. The city has long been home to a large black community. It is now attracting a growing illegal immigrant population that is largely Hispanic. "It's not long before you have black-on-brown crime," said Matthews. "And we're seeing the beginning of that."

Matthews said African Americans are targeting Hispanics who are vulnerable because they do not speak English and often do not report crimes to the police out of fear their immigration status will be questioned, he said. Blacks are responsible for robbing, assaulting and raping Hispanics, as well as invading their homes, Matthews said. "A segment of our community - the African American community - is preying on them," he said.

Matthews said some immigrants do not trust the police in their home countries and the mindset travels with them here. "They view police as a criminal gang and rightfully so. And they're afraid if they call the police, someone in their family will be deported," Matthews said. The fear causes crime victims to keep quiet. Therefore, Matthews said, police only know about a fraction of the crimes against Hispanics. If the issue is not dealt with soon, Matthews said, the city could face the worst crime it has ever seen when Hispanic victims or their relatives resort to forming notoriously violent gangs, like MS-13, to defend their community. "If we don't get our arms around this problem, organized gangs will fill the vacancies," Matthews said. "There is no violence that's happened in this city that can compare to the violence that could take its place."

Aida Garcia, director of social services for nonprofit La Comunidad Hispana, said she was not surprised to hear about the activity in Coatesville. "I think this is happening all over right now - all over the county," Garcia said. "This has been happening for a while, except people haven't been talking because they were afraid. This is nothing new."

Meanwhile, last week in North Carolina, the head of the Latin Kings gang held a news conference to call on other gang members to stop the violence. "I'm asking for all Bloods, Crips, MS-13, everybody out there that represents something, to put your weapons down and let's come to a table so we can talk peace," said Jorge Cornell. He wants gang leaders to get together for a discussion on how to end violence. "What I'm asking these leaders to do is if you've got one that's going to start trouble with the other, don't let those two, you know, let it get physical," Cornell urged. "And if it does, don't let it cause a war. Let's bring it to the attention of those leaders and let those leaders deal with their own."


End the Judgeocracy

I think we opponents of expanded judicial power are missing an opportunity in the wake of the D.C. handgun case and a couple of others that we approve of, but the Left does not (the Medellin and voter-ID cases, for instance). The discussion usually focuses on who voted which way, the illogic of much of the reasoning, the likely consequences of November's election on the makeup of the Court, etc. (NRO's own Bench Memos, of course, is always on the case; also, post-mortems in the Post and the Times.) This is all important stuff, but if we're ever going to have a chance of ending the Judgeocracy, we need to change the game altogether, to rein in the institution of the federal judiciary itself, not just try to get better judges and justices (as important as that is). And, since the Left usually likes what the judges come up with, we need to be prepared to pounce when there are high-profile decisions the Left hates, to find allies for institutional reforms.

I'd love to repeal the 17th Amendment, for instance, something one of Jonah's readers pointed to as a cause of the expanded power of the Court, though I'm afraid that's an indirect remedy, at best. A more radical re-assertion of elected officials' authority over interpretation of the Constitution would be to follow Hadley Arkes's advice echoing Lincoln's reaction to Dred Scott, to respect any unconstitutional decision by the Court, "but only as it bore on the litigants of that case" - in other words, reject the Court's authority to establish as precedent principles which the president considers unconstitutional. For a Republican president to be able to do this without being impeached it would require careful selection of a case where the principle underlying the Court's decision is anathema to the Left, as a way of re-establishing the political concept that the Constitution really is not whatever the Court says it is.

Perhaps most feasible would be term limits for all federal judges - a single non-renewable term of, say, 11 or 13 or 15 years, then out. This would drain much of the poison from judicial nomination process, because it would no longer be for a lifetime appointment. Larry Sabato, no conservative, is only the most recent to suggest this, and if it could pass Congress, I think it would have a good chance in the state legislatures. But it could only get out of Congress if we have something ready to go, and we push it in the wake of decisions that we approve of -an argument against interest, as it were, at least superficially.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Is Ronald McDonald queer?

AFA urges millions to shun fast-food giant over its promotion of same-sex marriage

The American Family Association, whose earlier boycott of Ford Motor Co. over its promotion of homosexuality was dropped after company sales fell 8 percent per month for two years, now is asking consumers to stop buying Big Macs and Happy Meals at McDonald's. In a brief announcement today, AFA, whose constituents number in the millions, said it is "asking its supporters to boycott the restaurant chain." "This boycott is not about hiring homosexuals, or homosexuals eating at McDonald's or how homosexual employees are treated. It is about McDonald's, as a corporation, choosing to put the full weight of their organization behind promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage," said AFA chairman Donald E. Wildmon.

AFA pointed out McDonald's donated $20,000 to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in exchange for membership in the NGLCC and a seat on the group's board of directors. The NGLCC lobbies Congress on a wide range of issues, including the promotion of same-sex marriage. AFA had asked the corporation to remove its name and logo from the NGLCC website, where it is listed as a "corporate partner and organization ally." AFA also requested that McDonald's remove the endorsement of NGLCC by Richard Ellis, vice president of communications for McDonald's USA, from the website. "McDonald's refused both requests," the AFA announcement said. In fact, Pat Harris, global chief diversity officer and vice president of "inclusions & diversity," told AFA the burger-and-fries conglomerate would "reaffirm our position on diversity."

"Ellis, who is openly homosexual, was given a seat on the NGLCC board of directors. . He was quoted as saying, 'I'm thrilled to join the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and ready to go to work. I share the NGLCC's passion for business growth and development within the LGBT community, and I look forward to playing a role I moving these important initiatives forward,'" AFA said.

The AFA initiative followed an exchange of words between the pro-family organization and the corporation. WND reported then that McDonald's was running an e-mail campaign responding to concerns expressed by AFA to constituents. The restaurant corporation had told consumers expressing opposition to its pro-homosexual stance that the company treats "all our employees and customers with dignity and respect regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or any other differentiating factor."

"We are not telling McDonald's who they can hire to work for the company, nor are we demanding that they stop serving Big Macs to homosexual customers," AFA said then. "This issue is about the world's largest fast food chain allying itself and partnering with an organization that lobbies Congress to enact laws that we feel can be used to repress religious freedom or undermine the sanctity of marriage."

McDonald's noted, "While one McDonald's employee is affiliated with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), McDonald's is in no way 'aggressively promoting the homosexual agenda' as suggested in the newsletter." But AFA said, "To refer to Richard Ellis, who is the vice president of communications for McDonald's, as 'one McDonald's employee,' as if he is a teenager flipping hamburgers, is disingenuous at best. While 'aggressively' is admittedly a subjective term, AFA believes that giving money to and partnering with a homosexual lobby organization is certainly an enthusiastic promotion of the homosexual agenda."

AFA asked the corporation for honesty in its communications and called its verbal maneuvers "disingenuous." "As a Christian organization, the American Family Association always seeks to be honest, accurate and completely forthright in the information we pass along to our supporters," AFA said. "We expect corporations in this country, especially those that position themselves as 'family friendly' businesses, to do the same."

McDonald's officials declined to return a WND call seeking comment on the placement of its executive on the "gay" advocacy organization. But the corporation sent a subsequent e-mail confirming its support for the agenda of the homosexual business lobby. "McDonald's is indeed a Corporate Partner and Organizational Ally of NGLCC. Our vice president of U.S. communications, Richard Ellis, was recently elected to its board of directors," said the brief statement to WND from Heidi M. Barker, senior director of media relations.

A spokeswoman for NGLCC refused to speak with WND except on "background" when asked about McDonald's financial contribution to the group. But she did confirm the organization would not release information on its sponsors.

As WND reported, after joining the NGLCC, Wal-Mart's income later started declining as Christian organizations reacted to the news. CNN reported Wal-Mart officials later decided to pursue a lower level of homosexual promotions. "We are not currently planning corporate-level contributions to LGBT groups," Mona Williams, the company's senior vice president of corporate communications, told CNN only months after the issue arose.


Does Patriotism Matter?

By Thomas Sowell

The Fourth of July is a patriotic holiday but patriotism has long been viewed with suspicion or disdain by many of the intelligentsia. As far back as 1793, prominent British writer William Godwin called patriotism "high-sounding nonsense." Internationalism has long been a competitor with patriotism, especially among the intelligentsia. H.G. Wells advocated replacing the idea of duty to one's country with "the idea of cosmopolitan duty."

Perhaps nowhere was patriotism so downplayed or deplored than among intellectuals in the Western democracies in the two decades after the horrors of the First World War, fought under various nations' banners of patriotism. In France, after the First World War, the teachers' unions launched a systematic purge of textbooks, in order to promote internationalism and pacifism. Books that depicted the courage and self-sacrifice of soldiers who had defended France against the German invaders were called "bellicose" books to be banished from the schools.

Textbook publishers caved in to the power of the teachers' unions, rather than lose a large market for their books. History books were sharply revised to conform to internationalism and pacifism. The once epic story of the French soldiers' heroic defense against the German invaders at Verdun, despite the massive casualties suffered by the French, was now transformed into a story of horrible suffering by all soldiers at Verdun-- French and German alike. In short, soldiers once depicted as national heroes were now depicted as victims-- and just like victims in other nations' armies.

Children were bombarded with stories on the horrors of war. In some schools, children whose fathers had been killed during the war were asked to speak to the class and many of these children-- as well as some of their classmates and teachers-- broke down in tears.

In Britain, Winston Churchill warned that a country "cannot avoid war by dilating upon its horrors." In France, Marshal Philippe Petain, the victor at Verdun, warned in 1934 that teachers were trying to "raise our sons in ignorance of or in contempt of the fatherland." But they were voices drowned out by the pacifist and internationalist rhetoric of the 1920s and 1930s.

Did it matter? Does patriotism matter? France, where pacifism and internationalism were strongest, became a classic example of how much it can matter. During the First World War, France fought on against the German invaders for four long years, despite having more of its soldiers killed than all the American soldiers killed in all the wars in the history of the United States, put together. But during the Second World War, France collapsed after just six weeks of fighting and surrendered to Nazi Germany. At the bitter moment of defeat the head of the French teachers' union was told, "You are partially responsible for the defeat."

Charles de Gaulle, Francois Mauriac, and other Frenchmen blamed a lack of national will or general moral decay, for the sudden and humiliating collapse of France in 1940. At the outset of the invasion, both German and French generals assessed French military forces as more likely to gain victory, and virtually no one expected France to collapse like a house of cards -- except Adolf Hitler, who had studied French society instead of French military forces. Did patriotism matter? It mattered more than superior French tanks and planes.

Most Americans today are unaware of how much our schools have followed in the footsteps of the French schools of the 1920s and 1930s, or how much our intellectuals have become citizens of the world instead of American patriots. Our media are busy verbally transforming American combat troops from heroes into victims, just as the French intelligentsia did-- with the added twist of calling this "supporting the troops." Will that matter? Time will tell.


Moral paralysis

By Thomas Sowell

"Moral paralysis" is a term that has been used to describe the inaction of France, England, and other European democracies in the 1930s, as they watched Hitler build up the military forces that he later used to attack them. It is a term that may be painfully relevant to our own times. Back in the 1930s, the governments of the democratic countries knew what Hitler was doing - and they knew that they had enough military superiority at that point to stop his military buildup in its tracks. But they did nothing to stop him. Instead, they turned to what is still the magic mantra today - "negotiations."

No leader of a democratic nation was ever more popular than British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain - wildly cheered in the House of Commons by opposition parties as well as his own - when he returned from negotiations in Munich in 1938, waving an agreement and declaring that it meant "peace in our time." We know now how short that time was. Less than a year later, World War II began in Europe and spread across the planet, killing tens of millions of people and reducing many cities to rubble in Europe and Asia.

Looking back after that war, Winston Churchill said, "There was never a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action." The earlier it was done, the less it would have cost. At one point, Hitler could have been stopped in his tracks "without the firing of a single shot," Churchill said. That point came in 1936 - three years before World War II began - when Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland, in violation of two international treaties. At that point, France alone was so much more powerful than Germany that the German generals had secret orders to retreat immediately at the first sign of French intervention. As Hitler himself confided, the Germans would have had to retreat "with our tail between our legs," because they did not yet have enough military force to put up even a token resistance.

Why did the French not act and spare themselves and the world the years of horror that Hitler's aggressions would bring? The French had the means but not the will.

"Moral paralysis" came from many things. The death of a million French soldiers in the First World War and disillusionment with the peace that followed cast a pall over a whole generation. Pacifism became vogue among the intelligentsia and spread into educational institutions. As early as 1932, Winston Churchill said: "France, though armed to the teeth, is pacifist to the core." It was morally paralyzed.

History may be interesting but it is the present and the future that pose the crucial question: Is America today the France of yesterday? We know that Iran is moving swiftly toward nuclear weapons while the United Nations is moving slowly - or not at all - toward doing anything to stop them. It is a sign of our irresponsible Utopianism that anyone would even expect the U.N. to do anything that would make any real difference.

Not only the history of the U.N., but the history of the League of Nations before it, demonstrates again and again that going to such places is a way for weak-kneed leaders of democracies to look like they are doing something when in fact they are doing nothing.

The Iranian leaders are not going to stop unless they get stopped. And, like Hitler, they don't think we have the guts to stop them. Incidentally, Hitler made some of the best antiwar statements of the 1930s. He knew that this was what the Western democracies wanted to hear - and that it would keep them morally paralyzed while he continued building up his military machine to attack them.

Iranian leaders today make only the most token and transparent claims that they are building "peaceful" nuclear facilities - in one of the biggest oil-producing countries in the world, which has no need for nuclear power to generate electricity.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran and its international terrorist allies will be a worst threat than Hitler ever was. But, before that happens, the big question is: Are we France? Are we morally paralyzed, perhaps fatally?


Prisoner Rehabilitated; Fifty Million Die

Each day we're told that radical Islamists, terrorists, and assorted extremists are going to moderate, so why not negotiate with them, appease them, defuse their grievances, have dialogue, and then everything will be okay. But, those who are doubtful, argue, shouldn't we have learned from history that militant ideologies are not prone to compromise and ruthless dictators don't change their stripes. You cannot appease them, they don't go away; displays of weakness make them more aggressive.

Oh, no! Not the Nazi analogy again! And yet what can you say when confronted with this New York Times headline of December 21, 1924: "Hitler Tamed By Prison; Released on Parole, He Is Expected to Return to Austria." This is not a satire. See for yourself here

The correspondent explains that Hitler, once a demigod for the extreme right, was released on parole from the Landsberg fortress where he had been sent for trying to overthrow the democratic German government in what has come to be known as the Beerhouse Putsch. Prison, the article continues, seems to have moderated him. The authorities were convinced that he presented no further danger to the existing society. In fact, it was expected that he would abandon public life and return to his native land, Austria. Well, that problem was certainly solved easily.

And also the Times learned its lesson, hasn't it? As the newspaper explained in a June 30 editorial: "Few countries can afford the luxury of limiting their diplomacy to friendly countries and peace-loving parties. National security often requires negotiating with dangerous enemies." Right. And believing their protestations of moderation, making concessions to them, ending sanctions, blaming ourselves for problems, and never using force is the actual content of such negotiations. Then the leaders of Hamas, Hizballah, Syria, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhoods, al-Qaida, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Sudan, etc., will no doubt be tamed, abandon public life, and go back to their homes.

Henry Kissinger once told the joke--or at least is credited for doing so--that it is very easy to have the lion lay down with the lamb, as long as you put in a new lamb every day. Kissinger no doubt little expected at the time that this would become the democratic world's favored strategy. No surprise that the main villain for the politically correct West is Israel, the lamb that refuses the honor.

From Barry Rubin


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pro-Homosexual Researchers Conceal Findings

Openly Homosexual Parents Influence Sexuality of Children

This November, California voters will be asked to decide by ballot if marriage in their state is to be defined as solely between one man and one woman. No doubt voters in other states will soon face that same decision. With such a radical cultural change hanging in the balance, it's more important than ever that voters be aware of important social-science research that sheds light on the issue.

Trayce L. Hansen, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, recently reviewed the available research on homosexually parented children and reports findings relevant to the same-sex marriage debate: Children raised by openly homosexual parents are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior themselves. And some self-described pro-homosexual researchers who uncovered such results attempted to conceal them by declaring that no differences were found.

The findings of Dr. Hansen's review are revealed in a newly released article entitled, "Pro-Homosexual Researchers Conceal Findings: Children Raised by Openly Homosexual Parents More Likely To Engage in Homosexuality." This latest piece is the second in a series of articles concerning same-sex marriage, homosexuality, and children. The first article in the series is entitled, "Love Isn't Enough: Five Reasons Why Same-Sex Marriage Will Harm Children." Both articles, as well as information on the research Dr. Hansen reviewed for her current piece, are available on her website at http://www.drtraycehansen.com.



These days, Americans find their government increasingly concerned with limiting not just their freedom, but their very thoughts. A new cult of punishment and authoritarianism has turned society upside down with mindless pinheads on top and society's brightest and most intellectually gifted, on the bottom, under virtual house arrest.

Everywhere we look, we see swarms of retarded Pinheads micro-managing our lives to the lowest and most banal level, unfettered by ambiguous notions like due process or constitutional rights. Self-righteous Pinheads are constantly telling us how we should live, what we should think, and how important their parasitic, non-productive, bureaucratic activities are to our well-being. At every level of government, pompous Pinheads wallow at the public trough, ever more arrogant, resentful and ignorant of the people they pretend to serve.

Just look at how the Democrats and Republicans have abandoned their traditional values, in favor of Pinheads who believe every social issue is ultimately reducible to more laws, more prisons and more wars. As a result, the Congress of the United States has become overwhelmingly populated by Pinhead public serpents, who only know how to spend or arrest their way out of problems.

Indeed, everywhere we look, the small-minded Pinheads of the world are telling us, the non-violent, unorthodox, independent and creative people of society, how to live our lives and raise our children.

Some may argue that I am out-of-line to criticize Pinheads, but that's exactly what they've been doing for years to any of us who march to the beat of our own drummer. Under the Talaban-like rule of the Pinheads, independent thought and action is bad, while conforming and endless athletic rituals are good. Under the rule of the pinheads, physically gifted jocks are heroes, while intellectually gifted students are nerds. As a result, any Pinhead jock with a high school diploma can earn $60,000 working as a prison guard or DARE officer, while a college graduate working as a teacher earns half that amount.

Pinheads have a simple solution for everything, and when it comes to dealing with those who threaten Pinhead culture and puritanical values, the Pinheads have a simple four-step plan:

- -IDENTIFICATION: Arrest and fingerprint anyone who deviates from pinhead rules and values. Use victimless crimes, secret police and predatory prosecutors to expose non-conformists.

- -SEGREGATION: Pass laws that criminalize home schoolers, medical marijuana patients, gun owners, tax resisters and countless other law-abiding groups for loss of civil rights and restrictions on travel. Whether it is to deny student loans for pot use, or evicting seniors from public housing because a relative was busted for drugs, the purpose is to single out politically incorrect groups from society.

- -CONCENTRATION: Jail, parole and probation for those who deviate from the state, followed by loss of voting and travel as a convicted felon.

- -EXTERMINATION: Jail fathers, break up families, seize homes, just for growing plants. Refuse to allow sick and dying patients access to medical marijuana. Exterminate cannabis plants, creative people and unauthorized lifestyles.

So welcome everyone to the Pinhead States of America and learn to obey the Pinheads. Keep voting for Pinheads who are "the lesser of two evils," and keep silent as the Pinheads give all the other Pinheads badges and guns, while they empty the universities and fill the prisons. It's a wonderful new world for the Pinheads - more taxes, fines, court appearances, IRS audits, and home invasions by SWAT police, for the rest of us.


Vin ordinaire comes to Australia and the wowsers are fuming

France has had very cheap rough red like this for centuries without degenerating into a mass of drunks so why is it a problem for Australia? The only difference is that the Australian drop is a lot less ordinaire. Dan Murphy's cleanskins are pretty good

Health advocates want the price of alcohol capped at a minimum with a major liquor chain now selling bottles of wine for just $2 a bottle. Liquor giant Dan Murphy's promotion means its cleanskins are selling for 25 cents per standard drink.

Health campaigners say grog discounting has gone too far and insist a government-imposed price minimum should be considered. The Australian Drug Foundation's alcohol director Geoff Munro said heavy drinkers consumed more as prices fell. "It's not appropriate to treat alcohol as though it belongs in a $2 shop,'' Mr Munro said. "It's now cheaper than water.'' "This indicates that goverments should explore introducing aminimum price for alcohol.''

Wine has a 13 per cent concentration while alcopops - which have been hit with a controversial new tax - have concentrations of between five and nine per cent.

Mr Munro said cheap drinks encourged excess consumption. "Heavy drinkers will drink more as the price comes down,'' he said. "To be selling bottles of wine for less than $2 is going to encourage heavy drinkers, and possibly underage people, to consume more.'' "The price will make wine much more attractive to young people and we need to monitor that situation given that alcopops have increased in price with the tax.''

In Britain, a major supermarket chain had called for a floor price on booze, saying it is the only way to stop competitive discounting among retailers. Scotland is planning a floor price per unit of alcohol, based on concentration, to beat its binge drinking problem.


NOTE for non-Australian readers: "Wowser" is a traditional Australian term for temperance campaigners and killjoys of all sorts. Their headquarters used to be the Methodist church but Australia wisely abolished that church a quarter of a century ago. Such people now seem to infest the Salvation Army

Fantasizing Muslim convert meets reality

She was probably unattractive and sought an escape from that

Amid a chaotic swirl of people, car horns and dust, the donkey carrying Tanya Louise Smith slowly approached a place a world away - and civilisations apart - from anything she had experienced in the suburban calm of Sydney: the Gaza Strip. Almost three months pregnant and no doubt feeling the effects after her long journey from Yemen, Ms Smith, 20, was about to enter a place where few young Australians had ventured.

The Muslim convert's odyssey from Sydney had taken her to the ancient city of Sana'a, in Yemen, where she met and married a Palestinian from Gaza and immersed herself in Islamic studies along with a small group of similarly devout Australians. But when Gaza-based militants blew up the border wall with Egypt in mid-January, a door into another world was opened to foreigners for the first time in decades. Within hours of the border breach, tens of thousands of people were on the move across Arabia - Palestinians marooned outside the strip for years, would-be jihadis wanting to take up arms against neighbouring Israel, adventurers, MPs from other Arab states, and a lone Australian woman in search of her in-laws.

Ms Smith's husband, Ahmed, had sent her to his birthplace so his parents could support her during her pregnancy. He planned to join them two weeks later, after finishing his studies at the al-Imam University in Sana'a. But the border was sealed within days of being breached. Ahmed was locked out. Ms Smith was locked in.

For the next four months, she remained with her in-laws and their extended family in a modest Gaza district in the northern region of Sajaya. She maintained a puritanical lifestyle as a devout Salafist Muslim, moving from the bathroom to her bedroom behind vanity screens and mixing only with a handful of people outside the family home. "I saw her most days she was here," said her uncle, Abu Darwiche. "But I would not recognise her if I saw her in Australia, because I never once saw her face." Ms Smith's mother-in-law cannot say exactly when it was, but sometime around March their new family member became even more reserved, retreating to her room, from where she would usually emerge only to eat.

On March 1, Israeli forces launched a large offensive into northern Gaza, aiming to put an end to rocket fire into nearby Israeli communities. In three days of fighting, more than 110 Gazans were killed, many of them militants. Sajaya was only a few blocks back from the front line of the conflict, and the sound of battle reverberated through its streets.

In Sydney, the young Australian's mother, Louise Smith, was beside herself. "She called many times and Tanya used to lock herself in her room and talk on her computer," said her father-in-law, Abu Mohammed.

Abu Mohammed's sister Hayat added: "Whenever her mother called her, we would try and comfort her. We know how a mother feels in these sorts of situations. My father would kiss her on the head and he said to her, 'You are my daughter'." The family took the 20-year-old for regular check-ups and say they regularly took peaches and apricots to her room. But by early April, they were seeing even less of her in their living room.

On April 17, Abu Mohammed took a phone call from Tel Aviv. "A lady called saying she was from the Australian embassy," he said. "She spoke Arabic very well and said, 'We respect your traditions and customs; we would just like to make Tanya's stay in Gaza legal. Can you please bring her to the Erez crossing (the only passenger crossing into Israel) and we will sort out her paperwork'. "I took her there myself and kissed her on the forehead as sheleft. I waited there from 11.30am until 7pm. We never saw her again."

After four months in Gaza, Ms Smith was taken by an Australian embassy official to Ben Gurion airport, where she boarded an El Al flight to Sydney, her Arabian odyssey over. "We have tried to call her many times, but her family always says she is tired, or sick," Abu Mohammed said. The family she left behind is still asking why, while her husband, marooned in Yemen, is pining for the wife he barely knew and their unborn child.

"He tells us many times that we have destroyed his life," said Abu Mohammed. "He says we should never have let her go. Now how can he go to Australia and look after his child? "The main thing that is upsetting us is she is pregnant," added Hayat. "If she wasn't, we would say OK, this happens in life. But can you imagine her having a child in Australia by herself? "For a full month we were crying after she left. She wanted to live in the apartment alone. And culturally and Islamicly, we could not let her do that."

She said the family was very loyal to Ms Smith and treated her well. "Another reason we were so proud of her was she was Christian, then became a Muslim," she said. "We said to her: 'Your father has a farm and you are leaving Australia to come here. God will reward you for your sacrifices.' "We asked her: 'Would you like to go back?' She said: 'I really miss Australia, but it is a kafir (unbeliever) land.' "She had no family here and she was deprived of her husband so we wanted very much to make her feel comfortable. It was important that she have a good image of Islam and how Muslims treat people."

In December 2006, Ms Smith, from Winston Hills in Sydney's northwest, posted a note on an Australian newspaper's website explaining why she had converted to Islam. "To share and enjoy the life and love of a relationship that is not managed by fear and abuse, especially not abuse that is cloaked in the name of any religion," she wrote.

"As a Muslim woman I am free from any abuse because of my religion - Islam. It is because of my Islam that I don't live infear of a husband that comes back every night to bash me untilI'm black and blue, and then rape me." The posting went on to blame alcohol - banned in Islam - for most domestic violence. "It is because of Islam that I am empowered as a woman and not sexually exploited by man, I dress for God and not for man," she went on. Islam did not permit women to be used and abused to sell alcohol and bubblegum, she wrote. "That's why I am one of many converts to Islam and that's why Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world amongst women."

Ms Smith defended her religion on the newspaper website. "Islam liberated women 1500 years ago," she wrote. "We have enjoyed the freedoms and rights of keeping our last names as we are not the property of our husbands, we have had the right to vote before the women's liberation movement in the last century, the right to keep our own money, choose who I want to marry, have the right to inheritance, run a business, the right to be protected and maintained by our husbands regardless of how rich I am."

Yesterday, in a suburban street in western Sydney, Ms Smith's father refused to comment, preferring to first contact his daughter to decide on a response. Later, Clyde Smith telephoned to say: "Tanya would like to say that we have no comment to make regarding the alleged story."

It is understood the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra was aware of Ms Smith's situation in Gaza, and that Australian diplomats made representations to Israel and Egypt on her behalf. The matter was resolved within 10 days and the department's file on her closed.

It all began a few years ago. Ms Smith first arrived in Yemen in October 2006, and quickly settled into a community of pious Islamic Australians studying Islam and Arabic in Sana'a. Among the expatriates were Mohammed bin Ayub and Abdullah bin Ayub, the sons of the alleged former leader of Jemaah Islamiah in Australia, Abdul Rahim Ayub. The two men were arrested along with a third Australian, Marek Samulski, as part of a broad anti-terror sweep by Yemeni and British authorities. The trio was held for more than two weeks, but were later released without charge and asked to leave Yemen with their families. Samulski is living in South Africa with his wife, while the Ayubs and their families are believed to have travelled to Dar-es-Salam and then to Lebanon.

Ms Smith's Palestinian in-laws say she converted to Islam four years ago, and she was awarded a certificate of Islam from the Yemeni Government last year.

Regardless of her travails in Gaza, Ms Smith has apparently remained committed to Islam since returning to Australia, and she has consulted a fundamentalist Salafi imam.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Friday, July 04, 2008


The Necessary Holiday

If our nation's Founders could visit us on this, our 232nd Independence Day, what would they make of us? What would they declare of us?

A hint can be discerned in a letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, as the Declaration of Independence had just been approved. "It ought to be commemorated," said the man who would become our second president, "as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Day's Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."

Americans have maintained the "Pomp and Parade" for more than two centuries now, and the "Bonfires and Illuminations" are commonplace, but how often do we recognize Independence Day as "the Day of Deliverance?" How often do we honor it with "solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty"? How often do we contemplate the cost of our freedom, "the Toil and Blood and Treasure?"

Our Founders believed that independence was more than a choice; they viewed our break from royal rule as necessary.

Consider the first statement of the Declaration: "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

The signatories were emphatic that separation from the crown was not only an objective, but an obligation: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.-Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government." In conclusion, the Founders wrote, "We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation..."

Their cause, of course, was not anti-government. Rather they objected to the misgovernment of the king, saying, "He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good." Furthermore, the Americans had been patient, petitioning their British rulers for redress for over a decade. Armed hostilities had commenced on April 19, 1775, at the battles of Lexington and Concord, and the colonists faced the full power of the British Empire in their quest for American independence.

One year before taking that step for nationhood, on July 5, 1775, the Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition, beseeching the British king for a peaceful resolution of the American colonies' grievances. A day later, that same Congress resolved the "Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms." King George III refused to read the peace petition and assembled his armies. On July 2, 1776, Richard Henry Lee's proposal for a formal declaration of separation passed, and the document was ordered printed on July 4.

The war-weary among us today might ask, was independence really necessary? To pose the question at the outset of the Revolutionary War was to answer it. Representatives of the colonial Americans realized that, in voicing this query, they already possessed proof that they, not the King of England, were legitimate instruments of self-government for their countrymen. How could circumstances be otherwise when the king offered no remedy for his subjects' complaints, no guarantee their rights would be respected, and no means for them to govern themselves in their new lands?

The founders knew, however, that power could not be its own justification. They recognized that only an appeal to overarching laws, binding the king as much as his subjects, was legitimate. And abuse of authority demonstrated disqualification of any governor, whether a monarch or a purported representative. We would do well to apply this insight to the political debates of today.

Indeed, two competing philosophies of government at odds during the American Revolution have reappeared, with the anti-republican form seen in those politicians who would seek to gain favor by manipulating language and misrepresenting their positions. Royalists, on the other hand, believed that the king was divinely ordained to rule over the people and was therefore above the law. This view is manifest currently in government officials-especially our elected officers-who believe they may properly command the citizenry to whatever they please, to whichever they purport to be for the good of the people.

As Thomas Jefferson observed, "Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." Yet the prevailing philosophy of government proposes exactly this-that directions from Washington as to how we must conduct ourselves, in matters large and small, will lead inexorably to scarcity and will inevitably erode our freedom. Our system of government today is not so different from the monarchy we escaped, except that a swarm of bureaucrats have taken up the throne.

A necessity thus presents itself to us as well: We must reconnect with the timeless principles that inspired our Founding Fathers; those same principles that long ago gave birth to a good, great and God-blessed nation.

"[W]hat do we mean by the American Revolution?" reflected John Adams. "Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution."

Let us celebrate this Independence Day 2008 in a manner that Adams himself might recognize-with "solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty," and with a rededication to the principles of our necessary American Revolution. And as always, in the words of George Washington, "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."


An Irrelevant Europe - Best for the World?

In a recent op-ed Robert Kagan laments that (Western) Europe is sliding into irrelevance. But that might be the best thing for the rest of the world.

Don't get me wrong, the world owes plenty to Europe. It's given the world great art, architecture, literature, and music. It's also given the world the ideas of universal education, the scientific method, research institutions, property rights, rule of law, democracy, religious freedom, and freedom of thought and expression, among other things. These ideas and institutions coalesced to power the engine of progress that drives the economic and technological development that have improved human well-being - not only in Europe but elsewhere - to levels far beyond what our ancestors could have imagined. Consequently, today we live longer, healthier, more educated, freer, and wealthier than ever before. But for the past century, Europe seems determined to undo all the good it's ever done.

Europe gave the world the ideologies of Fascism and Marxism, which were responsible - or provided rationalizations - for 100-150 million deaths worldwide, including many outside Europe, most notably in China, Cambodia and North Korea. Then in a few short decades, despite having risen Phoenix-like from the ashes of destruction of World War II, instead of brimming with optimism, Europe has taken a decidedly pessimistic turn.

It no longer believes in progress. Its birth rate has dropped below replacement rates, yet, despite its protestations of equality, fraternity, secularism, and respect for human rights, it's unwilling or unable to welcome or integrate immigrants of different colors or religious backgrounds into its societies. And one by one it's abandoning the great ideas that brought it, and the rest of the world, progress, and advanced human well-being.

Its political leadership, although democratically elected, has abandoned democracy in its pursuit of a united Europe. The more the idea of the EU fails in democratic tests - most recently in Ireland - the more devious its politicians' machinations to bypass popular approval.

It has abandoned scientific inquiry, relying instead on mantras such as the "science is settled." Having abandoned science, it now relies on superstition, manifested in the notion of a global-warming-triggered apocalypse of Biblical proportions if average temperatures exceeds 2 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels - an apocalypse complete with death, disease, pestilence, droughts, famines and floods. Not only is there no evidence for this, this superstition persists despite the current reality that more Europeans die in winter than in summer, Europe's long history of misery and want during cold periods and plenty during warm eras, and that even as media coverage of extreme weather events becomes more compelling and ubiquitous, globally the deaths and death rates from such events are in long term decline. If Europe had spent a fraction of the resources in adapting to climate change as it did on complying with the futile, but politically-correct Kyoto Protocol, it might have reduced by thousands the death toll of its 2003 heat wave.

Europe is now on the verge of abandoning the quest for technological progress, preferring instead to be ruled by the so-called precautionary principle which, as applied by Europe, actually increases human misery and death. It does this by discouraging, if not vetoing, new and safer technologies that could displace older and less safe technologies on the grounds that "safer" is not good enough - it has to be absolutely safe.

The precautionary principle was used to justify relinquishing its use of DDT, which was easy, because Europe had already conquered malaria. It is also used against genetically modified crops. The misapplication of the precautionary principle, coupled with its abandonment of scientific inquiry evident in the torching and destruction of experimental trials on genetically modified crops and its reliance on superstition, has resulted in a de facto ban on such crops in most of Europe. But giving up such crops isn't hard either. Western Europe is well fed - in fact today it worries more about obesity than hunger - and its farmers' excessive productivity is actually a drag on its taxpayers. Some Europeans would also give up nuclear and coal, but that would actually be giving something up, so protestations to the contrary, that will come about only after renewable energies mature and are better able to pay for themselves without subsidies.

But worst of all, Europe is once again exporting dangerous, misanthropic ideas, which unfortunately are echoed even in the US where many are in thrall of European ideas, no matter how ill-conceived. These ideas are couched in doublespeak, such as the European version of the precautionary principle, which could kill as many people as the failed ideologies of Fascism and Marxism.

Europe talks endlessly of helping developing countries and offering token amounts of aid but then refuses to reform its agricultural policies which would do a lot more for helping the latter help themselves. At the same time it bemoans the new prosperity of long-suffering Asia that has lifted over a billion out of a poverty that Europe has not known since even before the French Revolution because it's enabled by and rides on greater energy use. And for that, some Europeans threaten punishment through carbon tariffs.

But energy use and economic development are inextricably linked not only in China and India but in Europe and elsewhere. Even as energy use fueled economic development, it freed human beings from back-breaking physical labor, allowed women to escape the drudgery of household work, equalized economic opportunities for women, reduced the need for child labor, liberated animals from being our beasts of burden, and enabled brains to displace brawn, laying the foundation for a less energy-intensive economy.

Europe campaigned actively, but fortunately unsuccessfully, to ban DDT. Despite this, African nations, deferring to European "expertise" on matters technological while fearing a European boycott of their agricultural exports if even trace amounts of DDT are found on them, have been slow to adopt DDT to combat malaria - fears that Europe did nothing to dispel and may, in fact, have actively encouraged. For the same reasons, Africans have been reluctant to turn to genetically modified crops to reduce hunger and malnutrition. And once again, Europe is standing silently by if not actively discouraging the use of genetically modified crops.

For context, consider that over 6 million people die each year from malaria, hunger and malnutrition, a toll that annually rivals that of the entire Holocaust. Yet Europe has done little to help or reassure Africa in this regard, thereby abandoning one of the Holocaust's most important lessons, namely, inaction can be no less culpable than active participation.

Europe may be able to walk away from further economic and technological development, but the rest of the world can't afford to, not if it values human and environmental well-being. An irrelevant Europe could save innumerable lives in the developing world. And that might be best for this world.


Why the Iraq war Was Inevitable

According to an April 2008 poll in U.S. News & World Report, fully 61 percent of American historians agree that George W. Bush is the worst President in our history. Some of these scholars cite the President's position on the environment, or on taxes, or on the economy. For most, though, the chief qualification for obloquy lies in Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq.

In this, of course, the historians are hardly alone: five years after the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom, both the mainstream media and America's political elites treat the Iraq war as a disaster virtually without precedent in our national experience. But while politicians and journalists are not necessarily expected to be adepts of the long view, for professional historians the long view is a defining necessity. As the English historian F.W. Maitland wrote more than a century ago, "It is very hard to remember that events that are long in the past were once in the future." Hard it may be, but the job of historians is not only to remember it but to judge events accordingly.

In this light-that is, in light of what was actually known at the time about Saddam Hussein's actions and intentions, and in light of what was added to our knowledge through his post-capture interrogations by the FBI-the decision to go to war takes on a very different character. The story that emerges is of a choice not only carefully weighed and deliberately arrived at but, in the circumstances, the one moral choice that any American President could make.

Had, moreover, Bush failed to act when he did, the consequences could have been truly disastrous. The next American President would surely have faced the need, in decidedly less favorable circumstances, to pick up the challenge Bush had neglected. And since Bush's unwillingness to do the necessary thing might rightly have cost him his second term, that next President would probably have been one of the many Democrats who, until March 2003, actually saw the same threat George Bush did.

It is too often forgotten, not least by historians, that George W. Bush did not invent the idea of deposing the Iraqi tyrant. For years before he came on the scene, removing Saddam Hussein had been a priority embraced by the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton and by Clinton's most vocal supporters in the Senate:
Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons. . . . Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: he has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. . . . I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.
These were the words of President Clinton on the night of December 16, 1998 as he announced a four-day bombing campaign over Iraq. Only six weeks earlier, Clinton had signed the Iraq Liberation Act authorizing Saddam's overthrow-an initiative supported unanimously in the Senate and by a margin of 360 to 38 in the House. "Iraqis deserve and desire freedom," Clinton had declared. On the evening the bombs began to drop, Vice President Al Gore told CNN's Larry King:
You allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons. How many people is he going to kill with such weapons? . . . We are not going to allow him to succeed.
What these and other such statements remind us is that, by the time George Bush entered the White House in January 2001, the United States was already at war with Iraq, and in fact had been at war for a decade, ever since the first Gulf war in the early 1990's. (This was literally the case, the end of hostilities in 1991 being merely a cease-fire and not a formal surrender followed by a peace treaty.) Not only that, but the diplomatic and military framework Bush inherited for neutralizing the Middle East's most fearsome dictator had been approved by the United Nations. It consisted of (a) regular UN inspections to track and dispose of weapons of mass destruction (WMD's) remaining in Saddam's arsenal since the first Gulf war; (b) UN-monitored sanctions to prevent Saddam from acquiring the means to make more WMD's; and (c) the creation of so-called "no-fly zones" over large sections of southern and northern Iraq to deter Saddam from sending the remnants of his air force against resisting Kurds and Shiite Muslims.

The problem, as Bill Clinton discovered at the start of his second term, was that this "containment regime" was collapsing. By this point Saddam was not just the brutal dictator who had killed as many as two million of his own people and used chemical weapons in battle against Iran (and in 1988 against Iraqis themselves). Nor was he just the regional aggressor who had to be driven out of Kuwait in 1991 by an international coalition of armed forces in Operation Desert Storm. As Clinton recognized, Saddam's WMD programs, in combination with his ties to international terrorists, posed a direct challenge to the United States.

In a February 17, 1998 speech at the Pentagon, Clinton focused on what in his State of the Union address a few weeks earlier he had called an "unholy axis" of rogue states and predatory powers threatening the world's security. "There is no more clear example of this threat," he asserted, "than Saddam Hussein's Iraq," and he added that the danger would grow many times worse if Saddam were able to realize his thoroughly documented ambition, going back decades and at one point close to accomplishment, of acquiring an arsenal of nuclear as well as chemical and biological weapons. The United States, Clinton said, "simply cannot allow this to happen."

But how to prevent it? An opportunity arose later the same year. In October 1998, Saddam threw out ten Americans who were part of a UN inspection team, and on the last day of the month announced that he would cease all cooperation with UNSCOM, the UN inspection body. On December 15, UNSCOM's director, Richard Butler, reported that Iraq was engaged in systematic obstruction and deception of the internationally mandated inspection regime. Although the UN hesitated to invoke the technical term "material breach," which would almost certainly have triggered a demand for a response with force by the world body, Clinton himself was determined to act. He had already received a letter from a formidable list of U.S. Senators, including fellow Democrats Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, and John Kerry, urging him to "respond effectively"-with air strikes if necessary-to the "threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its WMD programs." After consulting with Great Britain and other allies, Clinton ordered Butler to pull out the remaining inspectors. On December 16, he launched Operation Desert Fox.

For four days, American and British planes and cruise missiles bombarded Iraqi sites in an effort to degrade Saddam's programs. The key objective was to knock out communication-and-control networks-and in this, a Clinton official would assert, Desert Fox "exceeded expectations." But the attacks did virtually nothing to destroy facilities suspected of housing weapons, most of which were in unknown locations. The only way to find out where they might be was by reintroducing UN inspectors, something Saddam now adamantly refused to permit.

Thus, in the end, Desert Fox proved a failure, not because of insufficient American firepower but because of Saddam's defiance-and because of a lack of forceful follow-up. True, passage of the Iraq Liberation Act meant that the United States now had a regime-change resolution on the books and was providing a certain amount of money and aid for covert internal action against Saddam. True, too, Vice President Al Gore was a particularly strong supporter of these initiatives. But in the wake of Desert Fox, Saddam had conducted his own violent crackdown on potential opposition figures, which meant there was no hope for Iraqis to retake their country without massive outside help.

As 1999 dawned, the choices narrowed. Inspections had failed. So had air strikes and covert action. So had international trade sanctions, which imposed a new level of misery on the Iraqi people without putting any pressure on Saddam himself. The UN's Oil-for-Food Program, created in 1996 in order to allow Iraq to sell some of its oil in exchange for food and other necessary supplies, appeared to be still another failure: Iraqis continued to starve, while Saddam seemed to grow only richer.

And so, "starting in early 1999," as Kenneth Pollack, an official in Clinton's National Security Council, would later recount, "the Clinton administration began to develop options to overthrow Saddam's regime."

Much more here

How to Kill Poverty


For years, socialists and collectivists held a monopoly on discussion of how to help the Third World poor. But lately the advocates of an open economy have made inroads. There are reasons for this: Socialism has been proven a failure, and an open economy works. Is that too blunt, or pat? The facts argue, "Not really."

Of interest is a new book from the Independent Institute, which is a think tank in Oakland, Calif. The book is edited by one of the organization's stars, Alvaro Vargas Llosa. He is the son of the writer Mario, who once ran for president of Peru. Alvaro is a liberal economist and social critic - and by liberal, I mean classical-liberal. He wrote a book called "Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression."

In Latin America, the socialists have the upper hand, politically. But that region has given us more than its fair share of excellent liberal thinkers. If for Hernando de Soto alone, the region would have given us more than its fair share of such thinkers.

The new volume bears an intriguing title: "Lessons from the Poor." It is largely case studies from the world over - or rather from Latin America and Africa. Surrounding the case studies are essays, starting with a foreword by James D. Gwartney, who is an econ prof at Florida State. He says, "Entrepreneurship as a source of economic growth and as a weapon against poverty is underappreciated" - there is a great understatement. He further says, "Innovative thinking and alertness to opportunity is present in all societies. Indeed, it is often found in unusual places." Yes, every society is stocked with Horatio Alger figures, or those who would be, if given half a chance. The world lacks for opportunities, not ability.

Reflecting on the case studies in this book, Gwartney says, "No central planner or development official would have chosen any of these people or business options as a tool to reduce poverty. Nonetheless, . . . all of these entrepreneurial activities have substantially upgraded the lives of millions of poor people."

What were the roadblocks placed in the way of our model entrepreneurs? There were many, and Gwartney lists a few: "confiscation of property, pollution of the currency, bureaucratic corruption and inefficiency, excessive taxation, and unnecessary regulation." And he makes a crucial distinction: between genuine entrepreneurship and "legal plunder," which may be defined as gaming the system. Mercantilism is not to be confused with free economic activity.

In his introduction, Vargas Llosa is blunt, saying, "After half a century of failure, foreign aid can no longer be the preferred tool for lifting the masses of Africa and Latin America out of their economic prostration." I would amend that statement: Foreign aid should no longer be the preferred tool. Vargas Llosa marvels that people can accomplish as much as they do: "The fact that, today, millions of people manage to eke out a living in very creative ways under stifling bureaucracies, elitist systems, and despotic governments indicates that entrepreneurship is part of the human spirit and not the exclusive preserve of those countries that have generated astronomical wealth."

And he is adamant that entrepreneurship should not be seen as a merely selfish undertaking. He says, "Many people fail to understand that an entrepreneur who discovers opportunity and transforms resources into wealth provides the most `social' service possible to the rest of the community, even when that is not the original intention." That is elementary, of course, but necessary to repeat, over and over. And, as a respecter of facts, Vargas Llosa has no doubt about what lifts up the Third World: "entrepreneurship, not Western guilt."

The case studies begin with the A¤a¤os family in Peru, which founded Kola Real - soft drinks "priced within reach of the poor." This family started with next to nothing, and now has next to everything: and has employed thousands of people in the process. They have also faced enormous odds, in a business environment that is not exactly, um, Californian. How easy we Americans have it! For one thing, the family had to dodge the Shining Path. For another, they had to cope with the illogic and unfairness of the Peruvian government.

We next have another Peruvian case, this one involving Aquilino Flores, who came to Lima at the age of twelve. He arrived from the hinterland "with one hand covering his front, the other his rear" (which is Peruvian for "without a pot to [you-know-what] in"). This boy started washing cars. And then he sold some T-shirts. And then he found ways to figure out what people wanted, and sold a lot of shirts - becoming Topy Top, a textile company with annual sales in excess of $100 million.

A quick word about the character of the people described in this book: The authors use such words as "gumption," "tenacity," "charisma," "determination," "intuition." Do all people have those qualities? No, at least not in generous doses - but they tend to have some of those qualities, in whatever doses. And they need not become a cola giant, or a textile giant, to improve themselves, and others.

Move next to Kenya, and the case of a supermarket chain, Nakumatt. The authors of this study - June Arunga and Scott Beaulier - state, "In the Western world, we take supermarkets for granted; many of us are, in fact, highly critical of these institutions. But in extremely poor parts of the world, such as Kenya, one would be hard-pressed to find a more important source of human flourishing." Amen.

Kenya is a disaster of an economy, and a disaster of a country, where life expectancy is 48. But the people behind Nakumatt managed to find a way. "This story helps us understand that the entrepreneurial spirit cannot be destroyed, even when governments are providing a weak and perverse institutional environment." That word perverse is exactly right. Almost everything in Kenya conspires against the individual, and therefore against the people at large. One local economist made a moving statement. There is nothing wrong with the country, he said - not really, not fundamentally. All that Kenyans need is "a government that will leave them alone to run their businesses and their lives."

From the authors' description, Nakumatt is an African Wal-Mart, selling anything and everything, promoting sales clerks to management, being almost fanatical about customer care. Nakumatt's success, say the authors, "has led to the rise of a new class of farms growing fruit and vegetables in Kenya." The company has been accused of corrupt dealings, and in particular of tax evasion. Whether the charges are true is unclear. In any event, as the authors state, "we should not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good."

We then go to Nigeria, where the clothing-design industry employs thousands of people - "most of them women with little or no education who have used their entrepreneurial drive to make a living and create wealth where there was previously only misery." And we later read of the "barter clubs" in Argentina, which arose when that country's economy collapsed. These clubs "were not a permanent solution but a private attempt to solve a public problem." The resilience and imagination of people in the face of desperate circumstances are astounding.

In a concluding essay, Joshua C. Hall and Russell S. Sobel write, "Entrepreneurship is the catalyst for economic growth and progress." Note, the catalyst, not a catalyst. They continue, "A primary determinant of entrepreneurship is economic freedom." I hate to sound like a global-warming hard-liner, but the case is closed - or pretty much so. There is scarcely any need for extended debate. We know what works in defeating poverty: entrepreneurship, the rule of law, transparency in government, low taxation, light regulation, a disinterested judiciary - freedom.

If that is so, why do socialists and kleptocrats do so well at ballot boxes, even when the elections are fair? Well, as Jeane Kirkpatrick once explained - to an exasperated and inquiring Bill Buckley on Firing Line - the rhetoric of socialism and collectivism can be stronger than the rhetoric of economic freedom. More alluring. And it is certainly more easily mixed with demagoguery. In addition, people may shy from entrepreneurship, even from opportunity. Thomas Edison once said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Lessons from the Poor is not a page-turner, and is unlikely to be a bestseller. The case studies are laid out in painstaking detail, complete with charts and graphs. This is technical, B-school stuff - but infinitely important stuff. The book returns you to the basics of economic life, and even somewhat to life itself. As in all elevated economic texts, there is a dose of spirituality here. I intend to keep this book on my shelf, for factual reference and even, perhaps, for inspiration.

One of the glories of this book is that there is nothing ideological about it. It simply searches the questions, "What works and why?" Material progress is not everything in life, but, as V. S. Naipaul once observed, the poor need it - and they could have it, if only others would get off their throats.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Allied Menace: Islamists, Marxists, and the radical Left make common cause


Some leftists go farther. Several - Carlos the Jackal, Roger Garaudy, Jacques VergŠs, Yvonne Ridley, and H. Rap Brown - have actually converted to Islam. Others respond with exhilaration to the violence and brutality of Islamism. German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen termed 9/11 "the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos," while the late American novelist Norman Mailer called its perpetrators "brilliant."

And none of this is new. During the Cold War, Islamists favored the Soviet Union over the United States. As Ayatollah Khomeini put it in 1964, "America is worse than Britain, Britain is worse than America and the Soviet Union is worse than both of them. Each one is worse than the other, each one is more abominable than the other. But today we are concerned with this malicious entity which is America." In 1986, I wrote that "the U.S.S.R. receives but a small fraction of the hatred and venom directed at the United States."

Leftists reciprocated. In 1978-79, the French philosopher Michel Foucault expressed great enthusiasm for the Iranian revolution. Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson explain:
Throughout his life, Michel Foucault's concept of authenticity meant looking at situations where people lived dangerously and flirted with death, the site where creativity originated. In the tradition of Friedrich Nietzsche and Georges Bataille, Foucault had embraced the artist who pushed the limits of rationality and he wrote with great passion in defense of irrationalities that broke new boundaries. In 1978, Foucault found such transgressive powers in the revolutionary figure of Ayatollah Khomeini and the millions who risked death as they followed him in the course of the Revolution. He knew that such "limit" experiences could lead to new forms of creativity and he passionately threw in his support.
Another French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, portrayed Islamists as slaves rebelling against a repressive order. In 1978, Foucault called Ayatollah Khomeini a "saint" and a year later, Jimmy Carter's ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, called him"some kind of saint."

This good will may appear surprising, given the two movements' profound differences. Communists are atheists and leftists secular; Islamists execute atheists and enforce religious law. The Left exalts workers; Islamism privileges Muslims. One dreams of a worker's paradise, the other of a caliphate. Socialists want socialism; Islamists accept the free market. Marxism implies gender equality; Islamism oppresses women. Leftists despise slavery; some Islamists endorse it. As journalist Bret Stephens notes, the Left has devoted "the past four decades championing the very freedoms that Islam most opposes: sexual and reproductive freedoms, gay rights, freedom from religion, pornography and various forms of artistic transgression, pacifism and so on."

These disagreements seem to dwarf the few similarities that Oskar Lafontaine, former chairman of Germany's Social Democratic party, managed to find: "Islam depends on community, which places it in opposition to extreme individualism, which threatens to fail in the West. [In addition,] the devout Muslim is required to share his wealth with others. The leftist also wants to see the strong help the weak." Why, then, the formation of what David Horowitz calls the Left-Islamist "unholy alliance"? For four main reasons.

First, as British politician George Galloway explains, "the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies," namely Western civilization in general and the United States, Great Britain, and Israel in particular, plus Jews, believing Christians, and international capitalists. In Iran, according to Tehran political analyst Saeed Leylaz, "the government practically permitted the left to operate since five years ago so that they would confront religious liberals."

Listen to their interchangeable words: Harold Pinter describes America as "a country run by a bunch of criminal lunatics" and Osama bin Laden calls the country "unjust, criminal and tyrannical." Noam Chomsky terms America a "leading terrorist state" and Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a Pakistani political leader, deems it "the biggest terrorist state." These commonalities suffice to convince the two sides to set aside their many differences in favor of cooperation.

Second, the two sides share some political goals. A mammoth 2003 joint demonstration in London to oppose war against Saddam Hussein symbolically forged their alliance. Both sides want coalition forces to lose in Iraq, the War on Terror to be closed down, anti-Americanism to spread, and the elimination of Israel. They agree on mass immigration to and multiculturalism in the West. They cooperate on these goals at meetings such as the annual Cairo Anti-War Conference, which brings leftists and Islamists together to forge "an international alliance against imperialism and Zionism."

Third, Islamism has historic and philosophic ties to Marxism-Leninism. Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian Islamist thinker, accepted the Marxist notion of stages of history, only adding an Islamic postscript to them; he predicted that an eternal Islamic era would come after the collapse of capitalism and Communism. Ali Shariati, the key intellectual behind the Iranian revolution of 1978-79, translated Franz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Jean-Paul Sartre into Persian. More broadly, the Iranian analyst Azar Nafisi observes that Islamism "takes its language, goals, and aspirations as much from the crassest forms of Marxism as it does from religion. Its leaders are as influenced by Lenin, Sartre, Stalin, and Fanon as they are by the Prophet."

Moving from theory to reality, Marxists see in Islamists a strange fulfillment of their prophesies. Marx forecast that business profits would collapse in industrial countries, prompting the bosses to squeeze workers; the proletariat would become impoverished, rebel, and establish a socialist order. But, instead, the proletariat of industrial countries became ever more affluent, and its revolutionary potential withered. For a century and a half, author Lee Harris notes, Marxists waited in vain for the crisis in capitalism. Then came the Islamists, starting with the Iranian Revolution and following with 9/11 and other assaults on the West. Finally, the Third World had begun its revolt against the West, fulfilling Marxist predictions-even if under the wrong banner and with faulty goals. Olivier Besanconneau, a French leftist, sees Islamists as "the new slaves" ["new parasites" would be more accurate] of capitalism and asks if it is not natural that "they should unite with the working class to destroy the capitalist system." At a time when the Communist movement is in "decay," note analyst Lorenzo Vidino and journalist Andrea Morigi, Italy's "New Red Brigades" actually acknowledge the "leading role of the reactionary clerics."

Fourth, power: Islamists and leftists can achieve more together than they can separately. In Great Britain, they jointly formed the Stop the War Coalition, whose steering committee includes representation from such organizations as the Communist party of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain. Britain's Respect Party amalgamates radical international socialism with Islamist ideology. The two sides joined forces for the March 2008 European Parliament elections to offer common lists of candidates in France and Britain, disguised under party names that revealed little.

Islamists benefit, in particular, from the access, legitimacy, skills, and firepower the Left provides them. Cherie Booth, wife of then-prime minister Tony Blair, argued a case at the appellate-court level to help a girl, Shabina Begum, wear the jilbab, an Islamic garment, to a British school. Lynne Stewart, a leftist lawyer, broke U.S. law and went to jail to help Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, foment revolution in Egypt. Volkert van der Graaf, an animal-rights fanatic, killed Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn to stop him from turning Muslims into "scapegoats." Vanessa Redgrave funded half of a œ50,000 bail surety so that Jamil el-Banna, a Guant namo suspect accused of recruiting jihadis to fight in Afghanistan and Indonesia, could walk out of a British jail; Redgrave described her helping el-Banna as "a profound honour," despite his being wanted in Spain on terrorism-related charges and suspected of links to al-Qaeda. On a larger scale, the Indian Communist party did Tehran's dirty work by delaying for four months the Indian-based launching of TecSar, an Israeli spy satellite. And leftists founded the International Solidarity Movement to prevent Israeli security forces from protecting the country against Hamas and other Palestinian terrorism.

Writing in London's Spectator, Douglas Davis calls the coalition "a godsend to both sides. The Left, a once-dwindling band of communists, Trotskyites, Maoists and Castroists, had been clinging to the dregs of a clapped-out cause; the Islamists could deliver numbers and passion, but they needed a vehicle to give them purchase on the political terrain. A tactical alliance became an operational imperative." More simply, a British leftist concurs: "The practical benefits of working together are enough to compensate for the differences."

The burgeoning alliance of Western leftists and Islamists ranks as one of today's most disturbing political developments, one that impedes the West's efforts to protect itself. When Stalin and Hitler made their infamous pact in 1939, the Red-Brown alliance posed a mortal danger to the West and, indeed, to civilization itself. Less dramatically but no less certainly, the coalition today poses the same threat. As seven decades ago, this one must be exposed, rejected, resisted, and defeated.


Malevolence and the Mufti


Time and again the Arab world throws up absolute rulers who do nothing but harm, working their way into power by exploiting and imprisoning and killing as they see fit. There seems no way to stop these ruthless careerists except by deploying superior violence against them. A perfect example of the type is Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem between the world wars.

Haj Amin, the subject of David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann's "Icon of Evil," was born in about 1895 into the most prominent family of Ottoman Palestine. Authoritarian by nature, he possessed the skills necessary for operating in the culture of absolutism in which he had grown up. When he was still in his early 20s, the British acquired their Mandate in Palestine as a result of World War I and in 1921 made the crucial mistake of contriving Haj Amin's election to be Mufti.

This position - as the country's senior Islamic official - gave Haj Amin unique standing to wield unchecked power over the Palestinians. It also afforded him access to large sums of money. Whether he was a sincere Muslim is doubtful - for one thing, he never finished his religious studies, and for another he seems to have been fond of fine wines.

The situation in which Haj Amin found himself was new, to be sure. In common with many other peoples, Palestinians were caught in the huge political forces released in the recent world war. British intentions for the Mandate were unfathomable. Under the British aegis, moreover, Jews soon began to seek refuge in Palestine from persecution at the hands of Nazis. Still largely tribal and rural and in any case not militant, many - probably most - Palestinians were willing to cooperate with these immigrants.

But Haj Amin was not so amenable; instead, he recruited and commanded a national movement of violence with the aim of forbidding all compromise with Jews. Regular and severe anti-Jewish riots and attacks culminated in the great Arab Revolt of 1936, which aimed simultaneously to end British rule and Jewish immigration but cost thousands of lives, mostly Arabs. In reality, Haj Amin was launching the Palestinians on the impossible task of reversing the course of world events, and that is the origin of the disaster that overwhelms them to this day.

Haj Amin's authoritarian character no doubt dictated his policy, but he was also perpetuating the absolutism of the Muslim world, in which the killing of enemies is the natural end of the political process, integral to the exercise of power, and altogether a matter of culture and custom. Palestinians who opposed him were blackened as collaborators and traitors; they were murdered by his agents in larger numbers than Jews. In the end the British had had enough, and by means of their superior force obliged Haj Amin to flee abroad.

My enemy's enemy is my friend, according to one of the staples of the absolute order. So in his quarrel with the British and the Jews, Haj Amin turned to Hitler. Spending the war in Berlin, he met Hitler in person, as well as Himmler, Ribbentrop, Eichmann and others. Letters of intention were exchanged at these levels, but he did not succeed in extracting promises that Germany would liberate Palestine and hand it over to him. Hitler viewed Arabs and Jews in the same racist perspective. My enemy's enemy, in this case, was also my enemy.

Raising Muslim volunteers for the Nazi SS, visiting concentration camps, endorsing the Final Solution and hoping for a special commando team to exterminate the Jews of Palestine, Haj Amin made himself a very public war criminal. Yet he escaped justice at the end of the war and settled in the Middle East - where he once again urged Palestinians to resort to violence. Morally and politically disgraced, he died in 1974, but many Arabs - Yasser Arafat prominent among them - continued to believe that he had set an example to follow.


Europe is not an example to follow

Some of the people who are most adamant against outsourcing economic activity from the United States to other countries often seem to think we should outsource our foreign policy to "world opinion" or act only in conjunction "with our NATO allies."

Like so many things that are said when it comes to public policy, there is very little attention paid to the actual track record of "world opinion" or of "our NATO allies."

Often there is a blanket assumption that European countries are just so much more sophisticated than American "cowboys." But there is incredibly little interest in the track record of those European sophisticates whom we are supposed to consult about our own national interests- including, in an age when terrorists may acquire nuclear weapons, our national survival.

In the course of the twentieth century, supposedly sophisticated Europeans managed to create some of the most monstrous forms of government on earth- Communism, Fascism, Nazism- in peacetime, and to start the two World Wars, the bloodiest in all human history. In each of these wars, both the winners and the losers ended up far worse off than they were before these wars were started.

After both World Wars, the United States had to step in to save millions of people in Europe from starving amid the wreckage and rubble that their wars had created. These do not seem like people whose sophistication we should defer to.

Between the two World Wars, European intellectuals- more so than ordinary people- completely misread the threat from Nazi Germany, and were urging disarmament in France and England, while Hitler was rapidly building up the most powerful military force on the continent, obviously aimed at neighboring countries.

During the Cold War, may European intellectuals once again misread the threat of a totalitarian dictatorship- in this case, the Soviet Union. When they finally recognized the threat, many saw the question as whether it was "better to be red than dead."

They were no more prepared to stand up to the Soviet Union than they had been ready to stand up to Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Worse yet, much of the European intelligentsia objected to America's standing up to the Soviet Union.

Many of them were appalled when Ronald Reagan met the threat of new Soviet missiles aimed at Western Europe by putting more American missiles in Western Europe, aimed at the Soviet Union.

Reagan, in effect, called the Soviet Union and raised them, while many of the European sophisticates- as well as much of the American intelligentsia- said that his policies would lead to war.

Instead, it led to the end of the Cold War. Are we now to blindly imitate those who have been so wrong, so often over the past hundred years?


Our little emperors: does worrying do more harm than good?

A backlash has begun against the all-must-have-prizes culture that has produced children used to getting their own way

As the mother of two young daughters, Ruth Appleton is used to doling out praise for almost everything they do. Even she was taken aback, however, when her younger daughter, Rachel, now 5, arrived home from nursery clutching a certificate for "sitting nicely on the carpet". "It made me wonder what she was doing the rest of the time," said Appleton, from Porthcawl, Wales. "I thought it was a bit over the top rewarding her for something so routine. But it's part of a whole culture of stickers and smiley faces and `celebration assemblies'."

Anyone with children at primary school will instantly get the picture: no child's existence is complete without "circle time", or "show and tell" sessions at which they are encouraged to parade their achievements and examine their feelings. The received wisdom on child-rearing says nothing should be allowed to damage a child's sense of self-worth: just last week the Football Association (FA) decided to ban teams including children under eight from publishing their results, for fear of putting the kids under too much pressure if they lost a match.

As parents, we are encouraged to nurture our children's sense of "self", but are we unwittingly doing them more harm than good? Our child-centred society means we fret over what our kids eat, what they wear, their friends, their exam grades and their safety. A US academic has coined the term kindergarchy - a new (affluent) world order in which children rule. "Children have gone from background to foreground in domestic life with more attention centred on them, their upbringing [and] their small accomplishments," wrote Joseph Epstein, a recently retired lecturer at Northwestern University, in The Weekly Standard, a US magazine. "On visits to the homes of friends with small children, one finds their toys strewn everywhere, their drawings on the refrigerator, television sets turned on to their shows. Parents seem little more than indentured servants."

Epstein's recollections of his own childhood evoke an utterly different world. Parents didn't feel the need to micro-manage their children's lives. He doesn't remember his parents reading to him, or turning up to watch him compete at athletics. They left it to him to decide which foreign language to study at secondary school and weren't much bothered that he was a mediocre student.

Now, he says, it's a wonder more teachers aren't driven out of the profession by parents bombarding them with e-mails, phone calls and requests for meetings. "Students told me what they `felt' about a novel," he recalled. "I tried, ever so gently, to tell them no one cared what they felt. In essay courses, many of these same students turned in papers upon which I wished to - but did not - write, `Too much love in the home'."

In Britain, too, there has been a seismic shift in parenting. "At the weekends, the kids are saying to us, `What are we doing today?' - in other words, `You are going to entertain us, aren't you?' " said Appleton, who works part-time for Netmums, an online network for mothers.

It is becoming a worldwide trend. A recent production of Snow White at a primary school in Japan featured 25 Snow Whites, no dwarfs and no wicked witch, as parents objected to one child being picked out for the title role. In Sweden a boy was prevented from handing out invitations to his birthday party at school because he was "discriminating" against the two classmates he did not invite.

A straw poll in Netmums' virtual coffee house produced distinctly mixed feelings about the phenomenon. "The cushioning effect of awarding stickers and praise for inconsequential trivia masks what children really need and are looking for - guidance, consistency, self-reliance and love," said one mother, Liz. Another, Jeanette, was concerned that her daughter's teachers would not correct spelling mistakes, "because she was spelling the words how you said them", nor correct her writing when she drew letters back to front. "The reality is, she does need to be corrected," said Jeanette. "Children have to learn. I'm not saying it has to be negative, but there has to be a balance. When our kids go into the workplace, they are in for a shock."

That would appear to be true. Earlier this year the Association of Graduate Recruiters said the generation born since 1982 - the so-called generation Y - were "unrealistic, self-centred, fickle and greedy". They used the example of a new recruit to a transport company who rang his mother to complain: "I have got to go to London tomorrow and they haven't even given me a map." The employer threw up her hands in anger, according to Carl Gilleard, AGR's chief executive: "Here was someone working for a transport company, who had spent three years at university, who was aggrieved because he hadn't been given a detailed map."

On a more sinister level, the child-centred approach also seems to have contributed to a decline in standards of behaviour in schools, with children ever more conscious of their "rights" and teachers afraid to chastise unruly children for fear of being attacked or accused of assault. Last week Boris Johnson, the London mayor, highlighted the problem of indiscipline in schools as a factor in street violence. "Too many kids in London are growing up without boundaries, without discipline and without the family structures they need," he said. "We should bring back discipline and the idea of punishment."

In Merseyside an academic is bucking the trend of navel-gazing in schools. Peter Clough, head of psychology at the University of Hull, is working with children at All Saints Catholic high school in Knowsley, attempting to teach them to be "mentally tough". "Positive psychology says, `Count your blessings.' My kind of psychology says, `Life can be hard and you have to learn to deal with it'," he explained. According to Clough, mentally tough pupils do better in exams and are less likely to see themselves as victims of bullying. If they fail at something, they try again. Using a diagnostic test devised by AQR, a business consultancy, Clough has been assessing his group's attitudes to challenges, looking at such factors as whether they consider themselves optimists or pessimists and whether they think they can stay cool in stressful situations. Those with the lowest scores are learning visualisation, relaxation and anxiety-control techniques to help them toughen up. "I'm encouraging kids not to run away from stress but face up to it," said Clough. "If you've got a maths exam, just do it."

We have to decide what we want our children to be - tough go-getters or touchy-feely carers. Or is it even about them? Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at Kent University, believes our child-centredness is really adult-centredness. "It's a way of reassuring ourselves that our children are going to be insulated from pain and adversity," he said. "We tell children they are wonderful now for tying their shoelaces or getting 50% in an exam. But really it's our way of flattering ourselves that we're far more sensitive to children than people were in the past." The trouble is, Furedi says, that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. "You're subtly giving kids the message that they can't cope with life," he said. "I have a son of 12 and when he and his friends were just nine I remember being shocked at them using therapeutic language, talking about being stressed out and depressed."

While researching The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education, its co-author Dennis Hayes, visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University, discovered a leaflet telling students that if they studied sociology they might come across poor people and get depressed and if they studied nursing they might come across sick people and get distressed - so the university offered counselling.

"It was telling students they could not cope before they started," he said. "The focus on feelings has become ridiculous. One friend told me his daughter was crying at home one night and when he asked why she said, `It's my turn to put my worries in the worry box tomorrow and I haven't got any!' " Perhaps we underestimate the resilience of children. One coach of an undereights football team was in favour of publishing results, saying they just enjoyed playing, whatever the score. "They didn't care that they lost," he said of one game. It was only 21-0, after all.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Those Mean-Spirited Liberals

Every now and again our learned scholars in the liberal university come up with a study, financed by taxpayers' money, that concludes what every liberal already knows. Conservatives are rigid and not very intelligent. In fact, as one study by two Berkeley professors claimed, the the "whiny, insecure kid in nursery school" probably grew up to be a conservative. [See here for a demolition of that study]

Of course two can play at that game, and so conservative Peter Schweizer took a look at the University of Chicago's General Social Survey and a few other generally available opinion surveys and came to the opposite conclusion in his book Makers and Takers. He found that conservatives are the good guys and liberals are the whiners.

Maybe he got different results because the General Social Survey covers the whole United States while the Berkeley professors only studied a single school in Berkeley, California.

Either way, Schweizer's findings make sense. Liberals are more materialistic than conservatives, he finds. Of course they do. Believing in equality, differences in material things are very important to them. Not surprisingly, when they discover material differences in society, liberals are offended. There is a word for this feeling of offence: Envy. And so it is that liberals are more envious than conservatives.

Liberals celebrate anger. No, we are not just talking about Bush Derangement Syndrome. "Since the sixties, modern liberals have embraced anger as a sign of genuine commitment to the cause," writes Schweizer and their political rage leaks into their personal lives. The General Social Survey shows that liberals are more angry than conservatives and "three times more likely (17 percent to 6 percent) to have actually done something to get back at someone who had hurt or offended them in the past month."

Liberals are stingy with their money. Again, this is hardly surprising. Liberal political philosophy says: People Have Needs, and the government should provide. Thus liberals, when they actually spend money on anyone other than themselves, give money to the activist organizations that advocate for bigger government. Conservatives, on the other hand, give money to organizations that actually help people. Schweizer shows us that the headline liberals of recent memory-the Clintons, Gores, Kerrys, and Obamas-don't give much. But headline conservatives like Bush, Cheney, and Limbaugh do give, and give generously.

But then they would. Conservatives believe that people should help people, and governments should stick to the stuff that governments do best, defending society against enemies, foreign and domestic.

Liberals are less honest than conservatives. Peter Schweizer compares liberals and conservatives using the World Values Survey and the National Cultural Values Survey. Liberals admit that they don't value honesty as much as conservatives. They are more willing to sell "Aunt Betty a car with a bum transmission" than conservatives, and "twice as likely as conservatives to say it is okay to get welfare benefits they were not entitled to." Schweizer's poster boy for welfare cheat is billionaire George Soros, who once "tried to get a Jewish charity to give him money while also receiving public assistance."

Did you know that liberals are not just angrier but whinier than conservatives? Peter Schweizer samples liberal Whine Country using the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, as representative varietals.

But at least liberals are smarter than conservatives. Everyone knows that Calvin Coolidge was "weaned on a pickle," that Ike fumbled his syntax, that Reagan was an amiable dunce, and that President Bush is too dumb to be president. But navy veteran Sam Sewell found one liberal dumber than President Bush. Browsing presidential candidate John Kerry's website he happened upon the results of "an IQ-like qualifying test Kerry had taken in 1966." It showed that Kerry belonged in the 91st percentile on intelligence, a bit lower than President Bush in the 95th percentile.

Conservatives also rank better on political knowledge, according to Schweizer. Here's the result of a political knowledge test conducted in 2000. A high score is good.

Strong Republican 18.7
Independent-Republican 15.7
Strong Democrat 15.4
Independent-Democrat 14.2
Weak Republican 14.1
Weak Democrat 13.3
Independent 9.5

All this may be true, you will say. But how mean-spirited must Peter Schweizer be to drone on for 200 pages about "why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less... and even hug their children more than liberals?" Conservatives had better hug their children more. They have more children to to hug than liberals. Forty-one percent more, to be exact.


On Islamic Antisemitism

by Mark Durie

During the years that responding to Islam has been a significant concern for me in Christian ministry, I have been repeatedly struck by two seemingly contradictory facts: the reality of Islamic antisemitism on the one hand, and its denial on the other.

1. There can be non doubt that antisemitism is hard-wired into Islam's sacred history. The Qur'an and hadiths (traditions of Muhammad) have numerous passages which proclaim enmity towards the Jews. Jews are declared to be deceivers, malevolent, and killers of Muhammad (by poisoning him).

Islam's foundational texts express hostility to four religious groupings: Jews, Christians, pagans, and Muslim renegades. Jihad is mandated against all four of these groups, and whereas the rules of war are the more merciless against the pagans and Muslim renegades - only Jews and Christians being allowed to keep their faith after conquest - of the two 'Peoples of the Book' it is the Jews who attract the most intense expressions of hatred. There is less anti-Christian sentiment in the Qur'an and hadiths than there is anti-Jewish sentiment, and in Muhammad's biography his dealings with the Jews of Arabia - leading to a genocide in Medina, and the bloody conquest of Khaibar - loom much larger and are much more negative than his dealings with Christians.

The Islamic daily prayers include repeated recitations of al-Fatihah, the first chapter of the Qur'an. In these few verses, every Muslim prays that they will be guided on the straight path, not like the Christians ('those who have gone astray') or the Jews ('those who incur Allah's wrath'). This simple contrast, that whereas Christians have lost their way, Jews have fallen under the anger of Allah, neatly summarizes Islam's attitude to the Jews. The celebrated commentator Ibn Kathir, whose translated tafsir is popular among English-speaking Muslims, explains the distinction in his discussion of al-Fatihah:

These two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them. . the Jews abandoned practicing the religion, while the Christians lost the true knowledge. This is why `anger' descended upon the Jews, while being described as `led astray' is more appropriate of the Christians. Those who know, but avoid implementing the truth, deserve the anger, unlike those who are ignorant. The Christians want to seek the true knowledge, but are unable to find it because they did not seek it from its proper resources.

This is why they were led astray. We should also mention that both the Christians and the Jews have earned the anger and are led astray, but the anger is one of the attributes more particular of the Jews. Allah said about the Jews, `Those (Jews) who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath' ([Sura] 5:60). The attribute that the Christians deserve most is that of being led astray, just as Allah said about them, `Who went astray before and who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the right path' ([Sura] 5:77).

Here Ibn Kathir is explaining that, wheras Christians are merely ignorant, Jews know the truth but deliberately reject it, thus thus making themselves objects of Allah's wrath.

That this libel is repeated in every observant Muslims' obligatory prayers, seventeen times a day, shows that Islam's rejection of the Jews is not peripheral in Islam. Many years ago I was personally surprised to discover hatred of Jews among the Muslims of Indonesia, a country which has had virtually nothing to do with Jews in its history. When Amrozi, the Balinese bomber, cried out threats against Jews at his sentencing in a Balinese courtroom, this was not because he had ever met a single Jew. His hatred was purely theological.

2. The other reality is that denial of Islam's antisemitic legacy is so persistent and tenacious, in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Even some Jews who should know better deny it:

The historian Bernard Lewis confidently declared in his 1984 book The Jews of Islam, that, unlike Christian antisemitism, Islam's ill-treatment of Jews had no theological basis: it was merely the 'usual attitude of the dominant to the subordinate'.

Iranian Jewish philanthropist and art-collector David Khalili, when asked on Australian radio whether his remarkable achievements as a collector of Islamic art might change Muslims' attitudes to Jews, responded that the idea that Jews are inferior would never have 'crossed any Muslim's mind'.

In the light of these two considerations - Islamic antisemitism and its baseless denial - I strongly encourage readers to familiarize themselves with the work of Andrew Bostom, who has recently published The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism. This brilliant and courageous book is a landmark study of the subject.

My friend Dr Daniel Shayesteh was one of the Iranian founders of Hizballah, became a Christian after he fled from the Ayatollah's murderous regime. He explains in his testimony of the hatred of Jews which he absorbed as part of his Muslim upbringing in Iran, and the intention of the Iranian revolutionaries to destroy Israel. The visceral hatred which shaped Hizballah's dreams of conquest and destruction has not died out, and continues to plague the world. The urgency of this threat leads me to append below one of Andrew Bostom's recent postings, on Hizballah's intentions.


A Decision That Smells Like Rotten Fish

Is this where we're headed? Where President Obama will take us if he can? The "this" to which I refer is a recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada holding that "[g]iving exclusive commercial fishing licences to aboriginal groups" does not discriminate against non-aboriginal fishermen. Why not? Well, because it's "affirmative action."
In its decision, the court acknowledged the program "has a detrimental effect on non-aboriginal commercial fishers" and "that the disadvantage is related to racial differences," but found the program falls under the section of the charter [the the Charter of Rights and Freedoms] that protects affirmative action programs from constitutional challenges....

The charter section in question - section 15(2) - gives governments the right to implement a program that "has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups"
Our Constitution, to the dismay of liberals and Democrats, is much more old-fashioned, speaking as it does not of "amelioration" but of the quaint concept of "equal protection," a concept that its adherents (now pretty much limited to rubes, small towners, most Republicans, many Democrats who are not elected office holders or party officials, and most people not employed by a university or in positions of responsibility in large corporations or the media) revere because it derives from the even more fundamental core value that every individual American has a right to be treated by the state "without regard" to race, creed, color, or national origin.

But not to worry. The libs/Dems don't need a Canadian-style Constitution. All they need is a president who will appoint judges who will "construe" the Constitution we have to reach a Canadian result.


Britain: Leftist elitists boil with hate for their Conservative mayor

I was leaning on the wall in a Soho cellar last week, idly scanning acts at the weekly Comedy Camp, when an un-comic train of thought began. The host, Simon Happily, launched into an untypical rant about his intention to boycott the "Pride" march on Saturday. As every Archers listener knows, this is one of the PC pinnacles of the year, when gay pride storms across the capital with rainbow flags, arresting outfits and flamboyant humour.

It should be a matter of quiet satisfaction that London is one of the world's safest places to hold such an event. In cities from Moscow to Jerusalem these marches have been banned or met violence. London is also distinguished by having a community ironic enough to host the Duckie collective's mocking echo entitled Gay Shame. They plan to "celebrate" rival concepts of masculinity with "the aesthetic of a giant minicab office - sticky, brown, stained, a bit pongy... no pink, no heels, no make-up, no floral patterns, no humanity". Oh, come on - what's not to like?

But Mr Happily's rage against the main Pride march was because on the lead float will be the Mayor, Boris Johnson. Who once, musing on civil partnerships, wrote that: "If gay marriage was OK - and I was uncertain on the issue - then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog." Mr Happily quotes this as proving that Boris's presence makes Saturday's whole march "a travesty".

So I started to study the relationship between Boris Johnson and this particular interest group - not because of gay issues, but because it resonates with so much else about the hysterical way we argue in this political age.

The demonisation of clever, wayward Boris throws light on our worst sickness: the politics of enmity. The bald fact is that while the jury is still out on his actual effectiveness, Boris Johnson is an intelligent libertarian with a real desire to do something practical instead of just catcalling from the sidelines. I admired him when he first stood for Parliament - less lucrative than journalism at his starry level - because with unusual shamefacedness he muttered to an interviewer that he wanted to "do his bit". I tended to believe him. Those who write from inside glass houses, never risking electoral humiliation or boring committee-work themselves, should be careful how they throw stones.

But the new London mayor has demonstrated the perils of travelling from the commentariat to public office in a vindictive political culture. To succeed in modern politics you should take care to be a bland, self-preserving, sober, drugless, funless, dull-witted bore for years beforehand. Boris Johnson hobbled himself by being human, erratic and witty. His back catalogue of writings will follow him whatever good he does in real life: the politics of enmity decree it. In the mayoral campaign he was branded a racist merely because of two flippant expressions he once used. They occurred in pieces which, if read in full, were guying the patronising (slightly racist, indeed) way that British leaders love to escape unpopularity at home and be greeted by smiling Commonwealth ceremonial.

He was branded homophobic (though he finally voted against his party line over Section 28) because of the "three men and a dog" and a couple of equally flippant remarks. But read it with any care and you see that he was playing with the idea of mutable social values. It was clumsy - I doubt he had grasped the real argument for civil partnerships, which is social, financial and legal justice - but it was not hostile. Moreover, he has got the point since, and voted in Parliament for the new law. Boris Johnson is not a homophobe. Hedonists rarely are.

Yet during the election campaign lies were spread that he would abolish funding for the Pride march; on race and class too he was hammered without regard to truth.

A disgusting attack in The Guardian called him "this bigoted, lying, Old Etonian buffoon... moneyed creep... he has lied flagrantly, flamboyantly to save his marriage... despises people who are not of his class, which means all of us... a snob's London is a Monday-to-Thursday kind of affair behind fusty doors, in clubs that only just let women in, let alone plebs, in restaurants that don't have prices on the menus, in the Regency offices of magazines whose only distinction is that all the staff are shagging each other".

That reads just as nastily as any right-winger's jeer at sandalled lefties or BNP rant about immigrants. Another writer used the hilariously golf-clubbish expression "he is not one of us" and a pother of petulant glitterati were wheeled out to condemn him - Alan Rickman, Vivienne Westwood, Will Self, Ben Okri, half of Mitchell and Webb, Arabella Weir - that woman who wrote "Does my bum look big in this?" - the usual bien-pensant suspects.

Feeling safe from any charge of hate-crime themselves, they called Johnson everything from racist to mad (not to mention Etonian). Arabella Weir promised that if he won she would throw herself in front of a horse, go on hunger strike and chain herself to railings. I see no reports of her having done so.

It is hate that fuels such attacks, not love of your fellow man. This Saturday those not afflicted with hate-addiction should find it enough that he now backs civil partnerships, regrets the offence and "believes in loving relationships between all sorts of people". He will spend Saturday on a float to prove it, braving whatever they throw at him.

And some will. Once a cardboard demon is created, whether asylum-seeker or Etonian, it is not enough to attack him for what he actually does. Rage is provoked entirely by the need to be enraged. Borisophobes feed their addiction by jeering at his perceived (and entirely earned) wealth, at his accent, his education, his imaginary toff lifestyle. They are no better than any other hate-junkies: racists, bigots, Islamists and Islamophobes, gay-bashers, or the 1950s snobs who used to claim that council tenants kept coal in the bath. Putrid loathing spurts in all directions, fed by the media and opportunist politicians, and sometimes, alas, by clerics. It is all despicable.

To quote Mayor Johnson himself in an interview with the Pink Paper: "All irrational human hatreds are always really about your own feelings about yourself in some way. Anyway, I think it's all bollocks and the sooner we get over it the better." Quite.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

This equality for women is an injustice for men

Comment from Britain

Equality is a principle that is constantly being tested to destruction. Harriet Harman's proposed Equality Bill is a startling case in point. She is right to insist on equal pay for equal work; that is a principle that nearly every woman in the country must believe in passionately, and by now most men as well. It is clearly wrong to pay one person less than another for the same work, simply because of her sex (or indeed his colour or age). It is and ought to be illegal.

However, this principle soon grows into much more ambitious and more nebulous ideas about equality at work, including the dubious concept of equal representation - equality not just by person but by group. These ideas, as Harman's bill clearly shows, lead not only towards an explosion of bureaucracy and cost, but also towards injustice and inequality - towards the destruction of the very principle.

Harman proposes to replace a "thicket of legislation" against various different kinds of discrimination with a single duty of equality covering everything from race and gender, through religion and belief to sexual preference and age. That seems reasonable, and it is true that despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970 there are still persistent, incontrovertible inequalities at work. There are some disgraceful cases both at the top and the bottom of the market. Women employees in local authorities are in some cases still being paid less than men for comparable semi-skilled jobs, and employment tribunals regularly expose huge gender differences in City high-flyers' pay.

What's more, the gender pay gap - these weighty subjects create horrible expressions - still appears to be marked in government itself. According to civil service number crunchers' figures for 2006, it was 26% in the Treasury, 21% in the transport department, 17% in Defra, 16% in the culture department and 7% in the work and pensions department. (However, in the government equalities office, women were paid 4% more than men; do not smile.) Harman explained with passion on the Today programme that a part-time woman worker is paid 40% less than her full-time male equivalent. "Do we think she is 40% less intelligent, less committed, less hardworking, less qualified? It's not the case. It's entrenched discrimination."

Her plan, or part of it, is to allow employers to discriminate in favour of women and ethnic minorities, against equally qualified white men. She has other inflammatory suggestions, such as forcing public sector employers (and "encouraging" private ones) to reveal what they pay people, and explain what they are doing to close the gender gap, and to provide opportunities for ethnic minorities and disabled people. One could argue about all that - I'm not sure I am entirely opposed to employers revealing what they pay their employees, though the unintended consequences would no doubt be awesome.

These issues, though important, are secondary. What really matters is that we have a minister who is prepared, with the full backing of a Labour government, to enshrine in law, in the name of equality, the principle of institutionalised inequality against men. Employers will be free (and, it seems, pressed, by other provisions of this bill) to take positive action to recruit more women and ethnic minorities, to achieve what they have learnt to assume would be a "better balance" within their companies.

White men are no longer to be equal to everyone else; they will lose their rights in employment tribunals (unless they are beyond retirement age, when they may possibly regain them); they are to pay for the sins of their fathers (or rather for the sins of their fathers' bosses) against working women and against ethnic minorities by being unjustly treated in their turn. And Harman is prepared to do this terrible thing on the basis, merely, of unexamined assumptions about the facts.

For it is an unexamined assumption that equality must be connected with representation. Why do people so often assume equality for women - in, say, nuclear physics or welding or the police force - must mean the representation of women in equal numbers in those fields? If a certain percentage of policewomen are not Muslims or Hasidic Jews, does that of itself mean they have been discriminated against? Clearly not. And why do people assume that women earning less over a lifetime, and being underrepresented in senior posts, must of itself mean they were discriminated against?

Both assumptions are irrational. Women and men are different, and make different choices. We still understand little about such things, but are beginning to recognise that women often choose to work less, or less regularly, or with less responsibility than one would have predicted on their abilities alone. Many have other priorities.

We are also recognising that across a population women's and men's abilities vary; you would expect women to be underrepresented in quantum mechanics or navigation; though individual women may excel in these fields, women in general are unlikely to do so, for innate reasons. And vice versa with the low visibility of men in some fields.

The same is true of pay. The figures Harman has been discussing look depressing, but one ought not to rush into any assumptions about them. There are many explanations for women's lower earnings besides unfair exploitation, and while any one case might be blatantly unjust - and employment tribunals exist to redress such inequalities - again it ain't necessarily so. In some circumstances women may earn less than men for reasons that are not inherently unjust.

Women move in and out of jobs more. In devoting time to their families, they lose time at work to develop skills, not to mention experience and contacts, and in many careers that makes them less valuable as employees, with the result that in an equal market they might well earn less.

The only occupations to which it doesn't much apply involve unskilled and semi-skilled work. For this reason it ought to be possible to ensure equal pay in this sector. It is a shameful thing that the long march towards equality for women has been forced into a dead end of institutionalised inequality for men.


A quarter of British adults to face 'anti-paedophile' tests

A quarter of the adult population faces an "anti-paedophile" test in an escalation of child protection policies, according to a report. The launch of a new Government agency will see 11.3million people vetted for any criminal past before they are approved to have contact with children aged under 16.

But the increase in child protection measures is so great it is "poisoning" relationships between the generations, according to respected sociologist Professor Frank Furedi.

In a report for think tank Civitas, he said the use of criminal records bureau checks to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults has created an atmosphere of suspicion. As a result ordinary parents - many of whom are volunteers at sports and social clubs - now find themselves regarded "potential child abusers".

The checks were introduced to tighten procedures to protect children after school caretaker Ian Huntley murdered 10 year olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in Soham in 2002. However, there are growing fears that the measures have now gone too far.

Professor Furedi said most adults now think twice before telling off children who were misbehaving, or helping children in distress for fear of the consequences. He said that the need for the checks had transformed parents "in the regulatory and public imagination into potential child abusers, barred from any contact with children until the database gives them the green light".

From next year the new Independent Safeguarding Authority will require any adult who come into contact with children or vulnerable adults either through their work or in voluntary groups to be vetted.

But Prof Furedi's report, Licensed to Hug, highlighted examples of when adult-child relationships were distorted by the need for CRB checks already being required by schools and other organisations. In one example, a woman could not kiss her daughter goodbye on a school trip because she had not been vetted. In another, a mother was surprised to be told by another parent that she and her husband were "CRB checked" when their children played together. In a third example, a father was given "filthy looks" by a group of mothers when he took his child swimming on his own in "a scene from a Western when the room goes silent and tumbleweed blows across the foreground".

Prof Furedi details how one woman was made to feel like a "second class mother" because she was barred from a school disco because she did not have a CRB check.

Prof Furedi, a sociology professor from Kent University, said that "adults are no longer trusted or expected to engage with children on their own initiative". He said: "When parents feel in need of official reassurance that other parents have passed the paedophile test before they even start on the pleasantries, something has gone badly wrong in our communities. "We should question whether there is anything healthy in a response where communities look at children's own fathers with suspicion, but would balk at helping a lost child find their way home."

Prof Furedi, the author of a book called "Paranoid Parenting", said there was a trend to treat parenthood as a "professional endeavour that demanded increasing regulation and monitoring". Prof Furedi said that CRB checks did not "provide anything like a cast-iron guarantee that children will be safe with a particular adult". "All it tells us is that the person has not been convicted of an offence in the past," he said. He called for a national review to demonstrate the need to "improve and clarify adult authority".

Prof Furedi said: "The adult qualities of spontaneous compassion and commitment are far more effective safeguarding methods than pieces of paper that promote the messages 'Keep Out' and 'Watch Your Back'." Figures show that volunteering is on the decline with 13 per cent of men saying they would not volunteer because they were worried people would think they were child abusers, according to a survey last year.

The report comes after Children's Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green, said 50,000 girls were waiting to join the Guides because of a shortage of adult volunteers, partly caused by the red tape of the CRB process.

Martin Narey, chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, said his behaviour had been affected by the suspicions around adult-child relationships. Writing in The New Statesman, he says: "I am likely to usher my wife forward if a child falls over in the street, lest my picking up the child could be misinterpreted. We need to address that. Adults - particularly men - should not routinely be seen as potential child abusers. " And we need urgently to expose the nonsense of 'stranger danger' and convince parents that, although the risk of a child of theirs being abused at all is small, that risk comes not from lurking strangers, but from people known by their children - often relatives - who are able to exploit a child's trust."

However, he stressed that not to run any checks on past behaviour that could point to potential abuse would be "scandalously reckless" and he supported plans for the new Independent Safeguarding Authority whose work he said "will restore parental confidence" in adults who volunteer to help groups like the Scouts.

The CRB said yesterday that it will process 3.6million checks this year - up from 3.4million last year - of which 20 per cent were for volunteers. Vince Gaskell, the bureau's chief executive, said he did not believe that CRB checks were poisoning the relationship between adults and children.


Socialist sailing under false colours

Too many Americans have been instilled with unrealistic expectations for lifestyle and a spirit of entitlement, and they will glom onto any slick demagoguewho promises a larger piece of the pie.

One of the consequences of being right in an age of lies is that it brands you as a radical. Remember that being an extremist doesn't mean you're wrong, but simply that your views deviate greatly from those of the mainstream. If you say that 2+2=4 in a land where everyone else insists it's 5, you'll be labeled a radical. The same is true if you assert that a certain society of men is full of wolves when everyone else believes they're sheep.

Now, for years I've been telling people that most of our Democrats are essentially socialists; sure, either they won't admit it publicly or aren't fully aware of it themselves (quite common; self knowledge is often sorely lacking, especially among leftists). It was a message as hard to relate as it is for many to accept, as it renders you something less than the kind of "credible" commentator who gets invitations to appear on Fox News (bigot Opio Sokoni was on O'Reilly last week). But that message now goes down a little easier with the recent Democrat proposal to nationalize oil refineries.

There is a great article on this very subject by a writer named Lance Fairchok; it is titled "Why Do We Call Them 'Democrats'?" After quoting a couple of Democrats who waxed enthusiastic about nationalizing the oil refineries, he presents this Freudian slip by Congressman Maxine Waters:

"This liberal will be all about socializing, uh, uh . . . would be about . . . basically taking over and the government running all of your companies."

Well, well, I don't suppose that's the kind of rhetoric she used on the campaign trail (although I suspect most of her constituents either wouldn't know what she was talking about or wouldn't care). Don't rejoice too much at the shedding of the mask, however, as it's not so much attributable to a sudden spirit of honesty as it is to a changing climate. The truth is that no small number of American citizens are now socialists, only, they usually aren't aware of it. These are people– and we've all met them– who never heard a proposal for government involvement they didn't like. They only ask that one of two criteria be met: The proposal must sound convenient for them or inconvenient for someone who they envy. Oh, and, yes, I have always known that greed and jealousy — as opposed to some noble desire to help the downtrodden — are what drive leftists. Winston Churchill observed this decades ago when he said:
Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
If you doubt both that old curmudgeon and me, a younger one, consider research related by columnist Peter Schweizer in this article. He writes,
Scholars at Oxford and Warwick Universities found the same sort of behaviour (a desire to take from those who have more) when they conducted an experiment.

Setting up a computer game that allowed people to accumulate money, they gave participants the option to spend some of their own money in order to take away more from someone else.

The result? Those who considered themselves 'egalitarians' (i.e. Left of centre) were much more willing to give up some of their own money if it meant taking more money from someone else.

Much of the desire to distribute wealth and higher taxation is motivated by envy– the desire to take more from someone else– and bitterness.
Unfortunately, while we can give ourselves pep talks about how we value liberty and the wonders of our "free market" (if only it were freer), the truth is that socialism has swept the West. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer quipped about this over a century ago when, after introducing death duties in the budget of 1894, he said, "We are all socialists now."

As I said before, though, let's not lose sight of the fact that the politicians merely reflect the people. Too many Americans have been instilled with unrealistic expectations for lifestyle and a spirit of entitlement, and they will glom onto any slick demagogue (even if he has a strange foreign name) who promises a larger piece of the pie. As to this, in Fairchok's article he presents a chilling prediction made by U.S. Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas more than half a century ago. To wit:
The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.
While I can't say much for the man's politics, he was, at least insofar as this went, quite prescient. Most Americans have been inured to socialism under a different name, although virtually all would protest loudly if so accused.

People fall victim to the idea that socialism can work for a few reasons. For one thing, new generations are born and, with history taught so poorly, the mistakes of the past must be learned anew. Then, many labor under the illusion that socialism breeds prosperity in places such as Sweden, when in reality such countries are dying a lingering death.

Yet, if socialism– in any guise– is what Americans want, it's what they will get. But not only won’t they know how it happened, as Thomas said, they won’t like the consequences and won't know what to blame them on. Thus, they probably will fancy that the solution is even more government involvement.

Another thing that gets you branded a radical is when you point out that socialism is just a less virulent strain of communism. Yet the pseudo-intellectuals who would thus stigmatize you are blithely unaware of an important fact. Karl Marx himself said that socialism was just a transitional phase on the road to communism. We just have to wait for the second mask to come off.


Why Islam Cannot Reform

Following 9/11, in order to try to discover for myself the true nature of this purported Religion of Peace, whose ardent followers had just been responsible for the worst attack ever to take place on American soil, I began to research Islam. I started by reading the Qur'an, at the painfully slow rate of 5 hate-filled pages a day. It soon became apparent that this revered Book of Peace had more in common with Mein Kampf than with the New Testament. In fact, there were many similarities between the two. Both were filled with violence and threats of violence, both shared an arrogant contempt for those who dared to disagree with their authors, both advocated for the complete and utter subjection of all unbelievers, and sought an eventual worldwide hegemony.

Both are difficult books to endure. And basically for the same reasons: incessant redundancy, awkward literary style and structure, an annoying tendency to digress and wander off subject; and, although both books were written by undeniably powerful and charismatic leaders, both displayed a fundamental lack of basic literary ability.

However, for me, the most difficult part of the laborious challenge of the Qur'an was in wading through page after page of the incessant and obsessive hatred and violence - by this author's count, of the 434 total pages in my Penguin Classics version of the Qur'an, 288 pages contained some form of usually quite graphic violence, invariable directed against the unbeliever or the apostate.

For me, the question had been resolved. Resolved by the power of unquestionable numbers. 288/434. No longer could anyone ever convince me that the Qur'an is a Book of Peace, that had merely been misinterpreted. Numbers don't lie, people do.

However, as our recent unfortunate national divide so clearly demonstrates, many of us are still in a quandary about Islam and the Qur'an. We are still confused, still attempting to equate Islam with other religions. We still hold out hope that those Moderate Muslims can get in there and perform the necessary surgery and cut the malignant cancer of extremism from the suffering body of Islam.

The following excellent article from Jihad Du Jour, I believe, presents us with one of the clearest and most irrefutable arguments against this kind of comforting delusion. Only by understanding the true nature of our enemy do we have a chance of defeating him. - rg

There are deluded Jews and Christians who believe that the barbaric attacks against non-Muslims and even fellow Muslims alike throughout the world are being perpetrated by members of a small, extreme, perverted brand of Islam and that "true" Islam is probably just like modern Christianity or Judaism; that all that is needed is for moderate Muslims to take back their religion from the radicals. Then there are the deluded Jews and Christians who have actually read the Quran for themselves and realize that the barbarity of Muslim terror we see today is indeed rooted in the very essence of Islam and argue that we must not condemn the religion when all that is needed is for Islam to go through a reformation and modernization as Christianity and Judaism has done. But an expert in religion disagrees:
The QandO Blog, 11 Jan 2006, Pope says Islam can't reform Now Pope Benedict XVI has let it be known that he does not believe Islam can reform. This we learn from the transcript of a January 5 US radio interview with one of Benedict's students and friends, Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, the provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, posted on the Asia Times Online forum by a sharp-eyed reader. For the pope to refute the fundamental premise of US policy is news of inestimable strategic importance, yet a Google News scan reveals that not a single media outlet has taken notice of what Fessio told interviewer Hugh Hewitt last week. No matter: still and small as Benedict's voice might be, it carries further than earthquake and whirlwind.
There are Muslims who believe that Islam can reform but they too are deluded:
FaithFreedom.org Why Can't Islam be Reformed?

This is the position of many modern Muslims, including Irshad Manji the author of "What Is Wrong with Islam, Today". A great number of Muslims realize there is something wrong with Islam, but they erroneously believe the problem can be solved through the miracle of reinterpretation; and that they can keep the Quran and believe in Muhammad but somehow do the opposite of what he did and said and still call themselves Muslims..You ask: "Can Islam be reformed?" No, it can't! To reform Islam you have to first get rid of Muhammad and second get rid of the Quran. You have to take out a great portion of that book which is violent. The rest is nonsense and absurdity. But this you can't do, because you have no authority to do such a thing. Muhammad said that he has perfected his religion (Q. 5:3). How can you improve something, which is perfect? You can't change the Quran. You can't reform it. All you can do is to reinterpret and, for example pretend, "slay the unbelievers wherever you find them" means something else.
Then there is the website Muslims Against Sharia who argue that the Quran is not the literal word of Allah; that Islam, in its present form, is not compatible with principles of freedom and democracy; that Muslims must remove all the evil passages from Islamic religious texts; that there is no one religion that is superior to another; that Sharia Law must be abolished; that Seventh Century practices such as stoning, cutting off body parts, marrying and/or having sex with children or animals must be condemned; and hundreds of other suggestions to make Islam more like Christianity or Judaism. If somehow one could actually change one letter of a book whose wording letter for letter was fixed by no one but Allah, and dutifully followed the advice of Muslims Against Sharia and actually purged Islam of all of its barbarity then we would have in our hands a slim book with the Title "The Quran" and a sole, blank page bound in leather.

But this would not be enough, the other leg of Islam, the Sunnah is the second source of Islamic jurisprudence without which one cannot practice Islam. The Sunnah: the way of the prophet, his sayings, deeds, etc. One could compare these two legs of Islam to Christianity: the Quran, or the word of God, is like the Old Testament, and the Sunnah, or the deeds and sayings of Mohammed, are like the Gospels: the sayings and deeds of Jesus.

But while the deeds and sayings of Jesus are of humility, love, and peace, the deeds and sayings of Mohammed are of narcissism, hate, and military conquest. While the message of Jesus is "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," the message of Mohammed is "Stone all those who disbelieve." No, I'm afraid that all of the Sunnah must be purged as well.

"But," you may protest, "if we remove all the evil from the Quran and excise all that is vile in the Sunnah, then there will be nothing left to follow in Islam!"Precisely.As to what happens to Muslims who try to practice even the slightest deviation from the absolute written word of Allah:
Reuters, 28 Apr 2008, Hardliners torch "heretical" Indonesian mosque-police Hundreds of hardline Indonesian Muslims burnt a mosque early on Monday belonging to a sect that has been branded heretical by most Muslims, police said.The attack in West Java's Sukabumi district came after a government team recommended this month the Ahmadiyya sect be banned because its teachings deviate from the central tenets of Islam.I believe that the government in Indonesia has a perfect right to ban a religious group because its teachings deviate from the central tenets of Islam. I believe we in America and Europe should follow their example and likewise ban all of Islam because its teachings deviate from the central tenets of modern civilization.


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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