The creeping dictatorship of the Left...

This document is part of an archive of postings on Political Correctness Watch, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permanent record of what I have written. My Home Page. My Recipes. My alternative Wikipedia. My Blogroll. Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this document.

The picture below is worth more than a 1,000 words ...... Better than long speeches. It shows some Middle-Eastern people walking to reach their final objective,to live in a European country, or migrate to America.

In the photo, there are 7 men and 1 woman.up to this point – nothing special. But in observing a bit closer, you will notice that the woman has bare feet,accompanied by 3 children, and of the 3, she is carrying 2.There is the problem,none of the men are helping her,because in their culture the woman represents nothing.She is only good to be a slave to the men. Do you really believe that these particular individuals could integrate into our societies and countries and respect our customs and traditions ????


31 March, 2020

Trump DOJ Defends Reality and Fair Play in Women's Sports Against Unfair Trans Rules

This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a "Statement of Interest" in support of female athletes suing the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) over its transgender policy. CIAC has claimed that federal law requires schools to allow biological males to compete in women's sports, while the female athletes claim this constitutes unfair discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The DOJ statement clarifies that federal law does not require or support the CIAC policy.

"Allowing biological males to compete in all-female sports deprives women of the opportunity to participate fully and fairly in sports and is fundamentally unfair to female athletes," Attorney General William Barr said in a statement Tuesday. "Sports are an important part of education and character development and provide an arena where individual discipline can result in achievement and recognition. The purpose of all-female athletics is to ensure that women have an equal opportunity to participate, compete and excel in this important part of life."

"Title IX has been a major step forward in the long fight to achieve this equality. As reflected in Title IX, the basis for single-sex athletics, is rooted in the reality of biological differences between the sexes," Barr argued. "Clearly then, eligibility to participate on a single-sex team must be based on objective biological fact. Girls should not be forced, through the dismantling of Title IX, to be sidelined in their own sports."

Three female high school athletes filed the lawsuit in February. Among them is Chelsea Mitchell, the fastest biological girl in Connecticut, who nonetheless lost four state championships to male competitors who identify as female. "It’s very unfair for me and the other girls to race against biological males. It has inspired me and the other girls to stand up and fight for our right to compete and to have a fair competition," Mitchell told PJ Media. "Every race I’ve ever run against the biological males, I’ve lost. It’s definitely very defeating."

The lawsuit explains that "male puberty quickly increases the levels of circulating testosterone in healthy teen and adult males to levels ten to twenty times higher than the levels that occur in healthy adult females, and this natural flood of testosterone drives a wide range of physiological changes that give males a powerful physiological athletic advantage over females. Inescapable biological facts of the human species [are] not stereotypes, ‘social constructs,’ or relicts of past discrimination."

The suit lists 8 broad physiological athletic advantages males enjoy over girls and women after the onset of puberty, including larger lungs, larger hearts, an increased number of muscle fibers and muscle mass, higher myoglobin within muscle fibers (enabling faster transfer of oxygen to those muscles), larger and longer bones, increased mineral density in bones, and height. Due to these advantages, sporting events have long had different standards for girls and boys. Even the pro-transgender Journal of Medical Ethics has condemned the "intolerable unfairness" of the Olympic Committee's pro-transgender rules.

Yet CIAC claims its hands are tied on the issue, arguing that "federal law" requires this unfair state of affairs. Under former President Barack Obama, the DOJ interpreted Title IX's prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex to apply to transgender identity. Under Trump, the DOJ has reversed this stance, arguing in a Supreme Court case that the authors of Title IX could not have meant to include transgender identity in the meaning of "sex." The Trump DOJ did not join the Connecticut high school girls' lawsuit, but it did file a "Statement of Interest" to make it clear that the CIAC is wrong about federal law.

"They are incorrect," the statement of interest argues. "Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely 'on the basis of sex,' not on the basis of transgender status, and therefore neither require nor authorize CIAC’s transgender policy. To the contrary, CIAC’s construction of Title IX as requiring the participation of students on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity would turn the statute on its head."

"One of Title IX’s core purposes is to ensure that women have an 'equal athletic opportunity' to participate in school athletic programs. ... Schools realize that purpose primarily by establishing separate athletic teams for men and women and by ensuring that those teams are on equal footing," the statement argues. Far from being required by Title IX, CIAC’s transgender policy is in tension with 'the core of Title IX’s purpose.'"

Gender dysphoria — the persistent and painful sense of identifying with the gender opposite one's biological sex — is real, but it does not change biological reality. Even experimental "treatments" like cross-sex hormones and transgender surgery cannot alter a person's DNA and development — even in the womb, males and females develop differently. The DOJ is right to champion the biological and plain meaning of the term "sex" against transgender activism.


Coronavirus: Questions over modelling behind UK’s strict restrictions

His name is forever tainted with a seriously flawed forecast about foot and mouth disease that resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of millions of livestock that saw pyres burning across Britain and cost farmers their livelihoods.

That was in 2001, and now the man who convinced then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to take such extreme action to handle the foot and mouth outbreak is behind Imperial College data that the UK government is relying on to inflict the most extreme social isolation measures in the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Neil Ferguson heads an Imperial College, London team that has claimed 510,000 people in the UK would die from coronavirus if nothing was done, and by introducing various distancing measures, the curve could be flattened so as few as 20,000 people would die.

Given Professor Ferguson’s unquestionable influence on UK action, and possibly by extension Australia’s two-person social distancing policy that came into effect overnight, his numbers are being carefully scrutinised by others.

Early in March, Professor Ferguson and his team originally underestimated, by as much as half, the numbers of people who might require ventilators, prompting a drastic change in policy by Boris Johnson to try to suppress the virus rather than mitigate the crisis.

Before the UK went into lockdown, Professor Ferguson’s team warned 260,000 people would die if the less restrictive measures remained in place. But just days ago, Professor Ferguson told a parliamentary committee the numbers of deaths would be “substantially less than 20,000,’’ and his team predicted it could be as low as 5,700 – less than the annual toll from seasonal flu – with at least two-thirds of deaths in people who would have died anyway from underlying health conditions.

After an outcry about his changing stance, Professor Ferguson insisted he had been consistent throughout the crisis and that the revised prediction of the potential death toll was because of the strict lockdown put in place by the British government after following his advice.

Professor Ferguson claimed over the weekend that the lockdown would have to stay in place until the end of June, claiming any lift of measures earlier, say in May, would “be optimistic’’.

Yesterday Deputy Chef Medical Officer Jenny Harries mirrored Professor Henderson’s epidemiological assessment, warning it could take six months before a semblance of normality began to return.

Dr Harries said the lockdown measures would be reviewed in two to three weeks.

She said: “If we are successful and have squashed the top of curve we say that’s brilliant but we cannot suddenly revert to a normal way of living, (for those efforts) it will be wasted and we would see a second peak over the next six months.’’

Dr Harries predicted that it would take three to six months before society could get back to normal, warning: “It’s plausible it could go further than that’’.

The British government has effectively put the nation under house arrest and sparked nationwide anxiety on the basis of Professor Ferguson’s mathematics, most severely impacting those aged over 70, who have been told to remain indoors.

Some police forces have hotlines to dob in a neighbour if they exercise more than once a day – an ominous Stasi-like development.

All the while the British economy is tanking, with predictions the unemployed will rise to 2.75m and GDP plummeting 13.5 per cent.

Another professor, Michael Thrusfield of Edinburgh University has claimed Professor Ferguson’s “severely flawed’’ errors 19 years ago led to the cull of more than six million animals that did not need to die.

Another government study also found Professor Ferguson and his team at Imperial College used models during the foot and mouth crisis that “were not suitable for predicting the course of the epidemic and the effects of control measures. The models also remain not validated. Their use to predict the effects of control strategies was therefore imprudent.”

The same Professor Ferguson predicted as many as 69,000 deaths from swine flu in 2009 when only a few hundred died.

Professor Ferguson’s coronavirus gloom, contrasts with a study led by Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, who believes fewer than one in a thousand of those infected with coronavirus need hospital treatment, with most having mild or no symptoms. He also believes that millions of Britons may have already had the disease.

Another critic of the Imperial College study is John Ioannidis, a professor in disease prevention at Stanford University. He told The Telegraph UK: “The Imperial College study has been done by a highly competent team of modellers. However, some of the major assumptions and estimates that are built in the calculations seem to be substantially inflated.”


Coronavirus pathogen has been spreading in humans for decades, study finds

COVID-19 could have spread among humans for years or even decades before now, a team of scientists has discovered in an alarming new development.

The virus may have jumped from animal to humans long before the first detection in Wuhan, according to research by an international team of scientists.

Researchers from Australia, Britain and the US sought clues about the disease’s past and found it might have jumped from animal to humans long before the first detection in the central China city of Wuhan. In fact, these scientists have speculated that it could have been as long as a decade.

The study was released on March 17 in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.

It was conducted by Kristian Andersen from the Scripps Research Institute in California, Andrew Rambaut from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Ian Lipkin from Columbia University in New York, Edward Holmes from the University of Sydney, and Robert Garry from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Dr Francis Collins, director of the US National Institute of Health, said the study suggested that coronavirus had crossed from animals to humans long before it became capable of causing disease in people.

“Then, as a result of gradual evolutionary changes over years or perhaps decades. The virus eventually gained the ability to spread from human to human and cause serious, often life-threatening disease,” he said in an article published on the institute’s website on Thursday.

They’re not the only scientists to notice the trend.

Italian professor Giuseppe Remuzzi has noticed “strange pneumonias” in Italy since last November, which means the virus could have reached Europe before anyone knew about it.

Prof Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, said he would not be surprised if some asymptomatic carriers had travelled around China or even abroad earlier than December.

He said the unusual cases of pneumonia in November and December could mean that virus was already circulating in Lombardy, Italy’s worst-hit region, before people were aware of what was unfolding in Wuhan.

A Beijing doctor working in a public hospital treating COVID-19 patients said numerous cases of mysterious pneumonia outbreaks had been reported by health professionals in several countries last year.

“There will be a day when the whole thing comes to light,” said the doctor, who did not want to be named.

In December, doctors in Wuhan began noticing a surge in the number of people suffering from a mysterious pneumonia.

Tests for flu and other pathogens returned negative.

An unknown strain was isolated, and a team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology led by Shi Zhengli traced its origin to a bat virus found in a mountain cave close to the China-Myanmar border.

It has now infected every corner of the globe.


We've been had, and Trump knows it

While President Trump closed the U.S. border against entry from China at the end of January, his overall instinct was right.  The CCP virus was nasty, but no worse than a supercharged flu.

Health professionals overwhelmed Trump and his inner circle with doomsday scenarios, bullied by panic-obsessed virologists and epidemiologists — begging for attention and copying the alarmist playbook from the climate/global warming extremists, allied with the MSM Trump-haters.

And now the government has completely suffocated economic demand, creating a depression, an unnecessary calamity that is destroying lives, livelihoods, families, and fortunes for a generation.  It is becoming apparent that the end-of-the-world predictions, computer models warning of an apocalyptic black plague worldwide, are all wrong.

Those paying attention were warned that the worse-case scenarios were hysterical, by the likes of Stanford epidemiologist John P.A. Ioannidis.

In dramatic fashion, U.K. Imperial College scientist Neil Ferguson published a doomsday scenario on March 16.  Now, just ten days later, he has reversed his outlook, essentially settling on a prediction no worse than a bad flu season.

Most telling, the two U.S. public health icons, Drs Fauci and Birx, are both saying the extreme models that provoked extreme measures bear little resemblance to the actual data on the ground.  From the New England Journal of Medicine March 26 co-authored by Fauci:

This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.

Re: Dr. Birx from The Hill:

Birx, speaking at a White House press briefing, singled out a recent study on the United Kingdom that originally predicted 500,000 people would die from the virus and has since been revised down to predict 20,000 deaths in the U.K. She said the data the government has collected does not show that 20 percent of the U.S. population would be infected with COVID-19, cautioning against predictions that say so.

"When people start talking about 20 percent of a population getting infected, it is very scary but we don't have data that matches that based on the experience," Birx said.

"There's no ... reality on the ground where we can see that 60 to 70 percent of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks," Birx later continued.

Perhaps Trump had no other option than to go with the flow when this crisis unfolded.  But he is not usually a slave to consensus.  He was elected because he is a contrarian.  His contrarian antennae have already sent signals that he must reset the economy, pronto.

Trump wants America to reopen by Easter.  Despite his ambition being ridiculed and criticized, he's right to pivot from hysteria to rebound.


Coronavirus: Lockdown a blunt instrument with no guarantees

The Canberra Gallery has been caught in the grip of Labor’s cynicism, turning the Prime Minister’s daily press briefings nastier and more distracting than they should be.

The situation is fluid, and evidence-based economic modelling is in short supply. There is no precedent to follow, no off-the-peg solution and the antidote may be more than a year away. It is a time when wiser heads hedge their bets and prepare to alter their judgments as the facts alter, sometimes by the hour.

The noisier participants, however, have headed quickly in the opposite direction, seeking comfort in the certainty of fresh dogma. The word “lockdown” is their latest totem, just as “Gonski” and “Stop Adani” were not long ago. Once again they’ve responded to a complex challenge with a flight to simplicity, chaining themselves to a gate that long ago seemed to be coming off its hinges.

The lockdown non-solution is social distancing on steroids. We don’t yet know how good it is at separating people from stray coronavirus cells, and the evidence from locked-down nations like Italy, Spain and France looks worse by the day.

We do know that it separates people from jobs and businesses from customers to a far greater extent than intended. The interdependency of the global economy has passed beyond the point where it can be mapped. When you start pulling one thread out of the economy, the rest of it unravels.

On Friday, 17 days after 16 million people were locked down in northern Italy, the country recorded its highest number of deaths in a single day — 919.

Even allowing for the different circumstances in Australia, it is hard to imagine that an Italian-style nationwide lockdown heavily enforced would reduce the spread fast enough to stop our medical services being swamped.

This should come as no surprise to older practitioners in the field of public health.

The sharp reduction in the number of toddlers drowning in backyards in the 1980s and 1990s wasn’t achieved by banning domestic swimming pools.

Neither did we bring HIV/AIDS under control by placing advertisements in The Australian Women’s Weekly. It was controlled with a targeted, scary campaign, the memory of which causes many who watched in their teens and 20s to break out in a cold sweat even today.

Australia stopped toddlers drowning by enforcing the installation of fences and childproof gate locks combined with a strong public health message.

The approach that works, in other words, is to focus on saving the vulnerable, none of whom want to end up in a crowded intensive care unit facing a lonely death.

A poll on the weekend by Roy Morgan demonstrates that voluntary self-isolation is a feasible strategy, avoiding the need for the authoritarian approach some appear to prefer.

In the poll, 84 per cent of those over 65 years of age said they were already self-isolating. Pictures of a crowded beach, then, are an inadequate guide to public behaviour in this crisis.

Most people are relying on their own common sense. With clearer advice from public health officials and some assistance and community goodwill, we can ensure that most of those at risk sit out this pandemic in the comfort of their own homes.

Nobody knows if a full lockdown, the indiscriminate stopping of almost all human activity outside the home, will end the pandemic or how long these draconian measures will have to stay in place. We do know, however, that such measures will come at an enormous cost to employment, welfare and families.

We know, too, that some of the countries doing better in the face of the pandemic, such as Switzerland, Belgium and South Korea, have slowed the rate of infection and death to manageable levels while expressly rejecting this blunt-edged strategy. Circumstances vary so much between nations, however, that we are unlikely to find a universal policy solution until we get a vaccine.

In the meantime, Australia must devise its own solution, informed by the epidemiological data now emerging from the worst-hit countries, and tempered by our knowledge of what happens when sections of our interlocking economy shut down and the human misery that follows.

It seems the total lockdown strategy would damage the economy beyond all recognition if kept in place for very long. The price would be paid not just in jobs and wages, but in loneliness, mental illness, family violence and perhaps even suicide.

In a situation like this, the least-worse solution will always be the one that takes account of the welfare of people. We cannot yet say with any confidence when it will be safe for the elderly to leave their homes. We do know, however, that the view from the worst window of the worst home in Australia is better than the view of the ceiling seen through a ventilator.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


30 March, 2020  

Toby Young and the fightback against outrage mobs

Bettina Arndt

This week I interviewed Toby Young, a British journalist who became the subject of a media feeding frenzy two years ago after being appointed to an education committee by Theresa May. Within a few weeks he’d lost all of his five board positions and jobs on various education committees and found himself depersoned by the mob.

Toby, who is Associate Editor of Quillette in London, has written very movingly about what that was like:

“Being publicly shamed is a brutal, shocking experience that strips you of your dignity and I’ll always look back on it as one of the low points of my life.

“I know from my own experience that one of the hardest things about being mobbed is the feeling of isolation, of being a social pariah.”

He talks about the “offence archaeologists” who trolled through his 30-year journalism career cherry-picking sentences and phrases they could take out of context to cast him in a bad light, turning even former friends against him:

“That’s one of the most disheartening things about being shunned and cast out by your colleagues—the people you hoped would stick up for you join the lynch mob along with everyone else.”

As Toby explains, what’s really devastating is people start to believe what the mob is saying about you:

“One of the reasons social media mobbings are so effective at destroying a person’s reputation is that they create the impression that the views of the targeted individual are completely abhorrent to the vast majority of people.

“That’s one of the worst aspects of seeing your name dragged through the mud—the fear that people you know and care about are going to believe some of the terrible things people are saying about you and the feeling that there’s nothing you can do about it”.

Here’s the video I made with Toby, a long talk where he first describes just what happened to him. It would be great if you could help me circulate this.


Some of his stories are very funny indeed, as his long journalist career provided rich fodder for the outrage mobs, who managed to dig up some hilarious material which they claimed were offensive.

From: Bettina@bettinaarndt.com.au

BAD cholesterol?

Cholesterol and COVID-19

Researchers from Wenzhou, China looked at clinical laboratory features including lipid levels of patients with COVID 19. They found dramatic reductions in the cholesterol levels of patients infected with COVID 19, compared with healthy controls (1)

The study provides data to suggest that cholesterol levels decline quite rapidly during the early stages of infection and increase as the patient starts to recover.  Therefore, indicating that cholesterol may have an important role to play in defending the body against such infections.

This perhaps, should not be a surprise, since we already know that cholesterol is an extremely important part of the immune system.

Back in 1997, researchers in the Netherlands published an article in the Lancet showing  elderly people with the highest cholesterol levels are best protected from cancer and infections (2).

Other research, published in 2013, led by the University of California, found that derivatives of cholesterol play an important role in the immune system and could protect humans from a wide range of viruses, such as: Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, Nipah, and other deadly pathogens (3).

Two other studies in 2016 found that cholesterol-lowering statins impair the immune system and block the effectiveness of the flu vaccine  (4 , 5).


1). This study has been submitted to the Lancet medical journal and is still awaiting publication, however, the preliminary report can be seen in full here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3544826

2). Total cholesterol and risk of mortality in the oldest old

3). Interferon-Inducible Cholesterol-25-Hydroxylase Broadly Inhibits Viral Entry by Production of 25-Hydroxycholesterol

4). Influence of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Response in Elderly Individuals

5). Impact of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Medically Attended Acute Respiratory Illness

Via email

PETER HITCHENS: There’s powerful evidence this Great Panic is foolish, yet our freedom is still broken and our economy crippled

As I watched the Prime Minister order mass house arrest on Monday night, I felt revulsion, anger and grief – as anyone brought up when this was a free and well-governed country would. I also felt terribly alone.

You could not have known, from anything broadcast that night or printed the following day, that anyone was unhappy with these events. But they were.

So, above all things this week, I would like to thank all the kind, perplexed people who have got in touch with me by so many means, to say they share my doubts about the Government’s handling of Covid-19.

There are, in fact, many of us. If you feel this way, you are nothing like as solitary as you think.

Next, I would like to thank all those who disagree with me, who choose to abuse me, often with lies, personal smears and swearwords. Your childish, intolerant reaction has strengthened me in my conviction that mine is the better case. If your policy is so good, why can you not defend it like civilised adults? Do you really think that I regret needless deaths any less than you? Can you not accept that I also have good motives?

I now suspect this dark season might get still worse before we see the clear, calm light of reason again. The greater the mistake we have made, the less willing we are to admit it or correct it. This is why I greatly fear worse developments in the coming few days.

When I predicted roadblocks in my column two weeks ago, which I did, I did so out of an instinct that we were entering on the craziest period of our lives since the death of Princess Diana. And now there are such roadblocks, officious, embarrassing blots on our national reputation.

But even I would not have dared to predict the mass house arrest under which we are all now confined.

I have found the origin of this bizarre Napoleonic decree – a few clauses in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which I confess I had not even heard of. It just goes to show how careful you have to be with the wording of the laws you pass.

If the TV this weekend is full of pictures of people sunning themselves in city parks or escaping to the high hills, there will be plenty of zealots and politicians ready to call for yet more restrictions, subjecting all of us to collective punishment.

Perhaps we will emulate the French or Italian states, which have returned to their despotic origins and reduced their populations to a sort of cowering serfdom, barely able to step into the street.

I wonder whether there might also be restrictions on what can be said and published. I can see no necessary bar to this in the law involved.

Section 45 C (3) (c) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (appropriately enough) is the bit that does it. Once the Health Secretary believes there is a threat to public health, he has – or claims to have – limitless powers to do what he likes, ‘imposing or enabling the imposition of restrictions or requirements on or in relation to persons, things or premises in the event of, or in response to, a threat to public health’.

The former Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption doubts that the Act can be used in this way and warns: ‘There is a difference between law and official instructions. It is the difference between a democracy and a police state. Liberty and the rule of law are surely worth something, even in the face of a pandemic.’

Lord Sumption is generally a liberal hero, and he was invited to deliver last year’s BBC Reith Lectures. But the Human Rights crowd have all melted away in the face of this outrage. So his warning was buried on Page 54 of The Times on Thursday, and Parliament, already supine, has slunk away after its craven acceptance of new attacks on liberty on Monday.

If it ever meets again, it will be as a poor, neutralised thing. One day it may come to be called the Dummy Parliament. Where is the Supreme Court when you really need it, come to that?

So do not be surprised by anything. After last week, can we rule anything out? This new Stasi society has a horrifying level of support. Humberside police are already advertising a ‘portal’ for citizens to inform on their neighbours for breaking the ‘social distancing’ rules.

If you think they won’t get any takers, think again. Northamptonshire police have revealed that their control room has had ‘dozens and dozens’ of calls about people ignoring the order.

They said: ‘We are getting calls from people who say, “I think my neighbour is going out on a second run – I want you to come and arrest them.” ’

Most people will, by now, have viewed the online film of Metropolitan police officers bellowing officiously at sunbathers on Shepherd’s Bush Green in London, energetically stamping out the foul crime of lying on the grass (would they have paid so much attention, two weeks ago, to a gaggle of louts making an unpleasant noise, or to marijuana smokers?).

Others will have seen the films, taken by Derbyshire police drones, of lonely walkers on the remote, empty hills, publicly pillorying them for not obeying the regulations. It is genuinely hard to see what damage these walkers have done.

But as a former resident of the USSR, I can tell you that this sort of endless meddling by petty authority in the details of life, reinforced by narks, is normal in unfree societies – such as we have now become for an indefinite period. It is, by the way, also a seedbed for corruption.

Meanwhile, our economy is still crippled, and the overpraised Chancellor Rishi Sunak, like some beaming Dr Feelgood with a case full of dodgy stimulants, seeks to soothe the pain by huge injections of funny money.

He will get this back from us as soon as we are allowed out again. Just you wait till you get the bill, in increased taxes, inflation and devastated savings.

It ought not to be so. In fact, several powerful pieces of evidence have come to light, suggesting that the Great Panic is foolish and wrong.

I shall come to these, to underline the fact that it is not I, alone, who have these doubts. I do not claim to be an expert. But I refer to those who definitely are experts, who doubt the wisdom of what we are doing.

It is sad that far too little of this is being reported as prominently as it should be by our supposedly diverse and free media, especially the BBC, which has largely closed its mind and its airwaves to dissent. It is quite funny that a statue of George Orwell stands by the entrance to the BBC, bearing the inscription: ‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’

Obviously, they should take it down, as nobody inside the building appears to believe that.

Crucially, those who began by claiming that we faced half a million deaths from the coronavirus in this country have now greatly lowered their estimate. Professor Neil Ferguson was one of those largely responsible for the original panic. He has twice revised his terrifying prophecy, first to fewer than 20,000 and then on Friday to 5,700.

He says intensive care units will probably cope. And he conceded a point made by critics of the panic policy – that two-thirds of people who die from coronavirus in the next nine months would most likely have died this year from other causes.

He tried to claim that the shutdown of the country had led to this violent backtrack, claiming that it was ‘social distancing strategies’ which had brought about his amazing climbdown. How could he possibly know either that this had happened, or that it would happen, or that there was any connection between the two?

It is very hard to see by what means he could know any of these things. Could he have softened his stance because of the publication early last week of a rival view, from distinguished scientists at Oxford University, led by Sunetra Gupta, Professor of theoretical epidemiology? It suggests that fewer than one in a thousand of those infected with Covid-19 become ill enough to need hospital treatment.

The vast majority develop very mild symptoms or none at all. Millions may already have had it.

This report is being unfairly sneered at by Government toadies, but we shall see. It seems unlikely that Oxford University would have bungled their work.

And it is obvious that a few days of raggedly enforced house arrest could not have made so much real difference. Even those who believe in these shutdowns think they take two weeks to have any effect.

It is fascinating, looking at all the different countries which have adopted different methods of dealing with the virus, to see just how little of a pattern there is.

It is very hard to link outcome clearly with policy. Even Hong Kong and Singapore, similar city states which had a similar outcome, adopted different policies. We might do well not to assume that things work, just because we favour them.

It is more likely that the panic-mongers, having got their way by spreading alarm and frightening the Prime Minister, are now trying to get us to forget how ludicrous their original claims were. But first let me issue another warning. If the Government do decide to release us from mass arrest, they will say, as Prof Ferguson is doing, that this is because their repressive economy-wrecking measures worked.

We must demand proof, after a thorough independent inquiry, that this is true. For, if it is not, as I very much suspect, then we are in endless danger.

Any government, using the same pretext, can repeatedly put us through this misery, impoverishment and confinement. In the end, like the peoples of other despotisms, we will be grateful to be allowed out at all.

As things stand, the Johnson Government is like a doctor, confronted with a patient suffering from pneumonia. ‘This is serious,’ says the doctor. ‘I have never seen anything like this. Unless I act radically, you will die terribly.’

He then proposes to treat the pneumonia by amputating the patient’s left leg, saying this method has been used successfully in China. The trusting patient agrees. The patient eventually recovers from pneumonia, as he would have done anyway. The doctor proclaims that his treatment, though undoubtedly painful and radical, was a great success. But the patient now has only one leg, and a very large hospital bill which he cannot afford to pay.

When I argue against this folly, I am accused of not caring about the deaths of the old. I am old. It is false. I care as much about the deaths of others as anybody. But as a result of taking my stand, I have received private support from people inside the NHS seriously disturbed by what is going on.

Many people, including these swimmers, pictured, have been flouting the Government's urge for people to stay at home    +5
Many people, including these swimmers, pictured, have been flouting the Government's urge for people to stay at home

Now, if you want a scientist who does not support Government policy, the most impressive of these is Prof Sucharit Bhakdi. If you desire experts, he is one.

He is an infectious medicine specialist, one of the most highly cited medical research scientists in Germany. He was head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, one of Germany’s most distinguished seats of learning.

In a recent interview he had many uncomplimentary things to say about the shutdown policy being pursued by so many countries (there is a link on my blog to the interview, and a transcription).

But perhaps the most powerful was his reply to the suggestion that the closedown of society would save lives. He argued the contrary, saying this policy was ‘grotesque, absurd and very dangerous’.

He warned: ‘Our elderly citizens have every right to make efforts not to belong to the 2,200 [in Germany] who daily embark on their last journey. Social contacts and social events, theatre and music, travel and holiday recreation, sports and hobbies all help to prolong their stay on Earth. The life expectancy of millions is being shortened.’

He also gave this warning: ‘The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people.

‘The consequences for medical care are profound. Already services to patients who are in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling.

‘All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.

‘I can only say that all these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide because of nothing but a spook.’

This is plainly true. Old people who are still healthy, thanks to regular exercise and busy social lives, will suffer hugely from being trapped in their homes.

But there is another major problem with the Government case. Do the figures show what they claim to show?

Many people will die with coronavirus. But this does not mean that they died of it.

This is already a major problem in judging death totals from such countries as Italy. Yet new rules in the UK mean deaths which may well be mainly from other causes are recorded as corona deaths.

John Lee, a recently retired professor of pathology and a former NHS consultant pathologist, writes in The Spectator this weekend that by making Covid-19 a notifiable disease, the authorities may have distorted the figures.

‘In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for Covid-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate – contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind.

‘There is a big difference between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes.

Making Covid-19 notifiable might give the appearance of it causing increasing numbers of deaths, whether this is true or not. It might appear far more of a killer than flu, simply because of the way deaths are recorded.’

This, of course, explains why such an overwhelming number of Covid deaths, here and abroad, involve so-called ‘underlying conditions’, in fact serious, often fatal, diseases.

Take this into account whenever you hear official figures of coronavirus deaths.

Dr Lee adds, equally crucially: ‘We risk being convinced that we have averted something that was never really going to be as severe as we feared.’

That is the heart of it. It was never going to be as bad as the panic-mongers said.

The hysterical measures taken may well not have done any good. Yet our freedom is still bruised and broken, and our economy limping and deeply damaged.

If we do not learn the right lessons from this grim episode, then we will, for certain, have to go through it all again.


Rights groups in Australia alarmed at new coronavirus police powers

Rights groups have voiced concern about Australia's rollout of COVID-19 restrictions and how these are being policed.

This week, a number of states announced they were issuing on-the-spot fines for individuals and businesses flouting new COVID-19 rules.

Fines will be issued for not quarantining for 14 days after returning from overseas, attending or organising mass gatherings, and disobeying other government directions such as wedding and funeral sizes.

Depending on the state, individuals face $1,000-$13,345 fines and businesses can be fined up to $66,672.50.

While agreeing the crisis necessitates a strong government response to protect the community, rights groups said these heavy fines should be a "very last resort".

"Police should be trying to promote understanding of the new regulations and new restrictions and doing everything they can to get voluntary compliance," spokesperson for the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Stephen Blanks told SBS News.

"It shouldn't be a revenue-raising exercise for the government," Mr Blanks said.

"And it's so important that when restrictions are imposed, that proper notice is given to a community, that restrictions are clearly available on government websites. So people can see what it is that they are allowed and not allowed to do."

But he said in this instance, officials "have been struggling to achieve clarity". "This confusion makes it hard for members of the public to know what they are allowed to do," he said.

The Federal Government also announced the army has been brought in to make sure returned travellers isolate for 14 days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed on Friday that defence personnel would not have the power to issue fines, but would assist state and territory authorities.

Mr Blanks said the military's presence could add to the tension. "It's not a situation where you want to see members of the army on the streets with weapons."

The Human Rights Law Centre said civil liberties should not be forgotten in a crisis.

"As governments across Australia adopt emergency powers to lead us out of this crisis it is important that any response is transparent and proportionate," a spokesperson told SBS News in a statement.

"Any emergency powers or legislation passed in this time of crisis must be clearly expressed, narrowly confined to deal with the immediate public health issues, time limited, and independently reviewed on a continuing basis.

"This crisis must not be seen as an opportunity to advance the infringement of our democratic freedoms. We cannot allow a situation in which Australians emerge from this over-policed and under state surveillance with their democratic rights curtailed."

Associate professor of law at Flinders University Marinella Marmo researches human rights issues. With family members in virus-hit Italy, she is well-aware of how important a government response is to COVID-19. "Obviously, I am anxious but I also think that human rights are here to stay and we need to fight for them every single day," she said.

"Emergency measures [are] introduced quickly and this does not allow for a healthy debate on if and how they infringe civil liberties. Unfortunately, in the eye of the storm we lose track of these matters, but we need to remain vigilant.

"We now know that most emergency measures quickly introduced in the past by different governments around the world have not been withdrawn or completely withdrawn, see terrorist measures, for example.

"Any kind of COVID-19 emergency measure needs to be considered in light of ethical standards and human rights. And if now is not the time, as dismissively we may be told, then soon after the emergency is over."

In laying out the new measures, authorities have stressed that enforcing the rules will save lives.

On Saturday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said giving police the new powers was very important as cases continue to rise in the state. "Everyone's got to take this seriously," he said.

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said "we sincerely hope that Victoria Police does not have to issue one of these fines, and people do the right thing".

While NSW Police Minister David Elliott told reporters on Saturday that "everything we have done over the course of the last couple of weeks has been to save lives". "Whether it be closing Bondi Beach, whether it be closing our pubs, these are there to stop people from transmitting disease.

"These rules and regulations are not there to punish anybody. They are not there to issue intermittent justice. They are there to protect lives, they are there to save lives."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


29 March, 2020  

Money or lives: at some point we must say ‘enough!’

We trade off lives against other things all the time. If lives were all-important, we would ban motor cars -- given the many deaths from traffic accidents

And it is not as if confining people to their homes is safe.  It will undoubtedly create depression in many and in already depressed people the outcome will be suicides.  As well as tracking virus deaths we should also be tracking deaths from suicides and deaths from domestic violence. Becoming "stir crazy" from confinement is a well-known and dangerous phenomenon.  It may not be long before deaths from confinement-related causes will equal or surpass deaths from the virus

Our current draconian policies to tackle coronavirus are just not sustainable. The middle ground is more like what Sweden is doing. See below


The potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic is enormous. But draconian policies to tackle the virus also have colossal costs. Ignoring the trade-offs could land us with one of the worst possible outcomes.

A landmark study by London’s Imperial College on death impacts from different policies helped change the minds of US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson towards implementation of lockdown policies. It showed that without any such policies, COVID-19 would kill a half-million people in Britain and 2.2 million people in the US.

Unrestricted COVID-19 means most people get sick at the same time, entirely overwhelming the healthcare system. Without restrictions, corona infections would peak in early June in Britain, with 280,000 sick people needing hospitalisation but only 8000 beds available. That is why it is crucial to “flatten the curve”. Policies to reduce the speed of infection can help spread out when people get sick and make hospital beds available for more people.

Smart policies such as self-­isolation, house quarantines and isolation for the vulnerable have little cost and can flatten the curve somewhat, reducing deaths by about 50 per cent. But this still leads to a quarter-million dead in Britain, so understandably almost all societies have decided that stronger policies to slow the spread of the virus are needed.

Imperial College defines social distancing of the entire population to mean that people still go to school and mostly to work but they curtail other social interactions such as going to restaurants, cinemas and bars by 75 per cent. Together with the other smart policies, this could flatten the curve so much that there would be almost enough beds for everyone for the next five months.

Unfortunately, the study also shows that such a successful reduction in infection means few people have gained immunity. So if restrictions are lifted in September, a second wave of infections will once again overwhelm society and kill almost as many.

Thus, if we want to keep deaths low, the Imperial College study shows we may have to maintain social restrictions for what may be up to a two-year wait ­before vaccinations are available.

This point needs more emphasis. Up to two years of draconian social restrictions will not only be phenomenally costly but also impossibly hard to keep in place.

Look at the costs first. Most of the early predictions were moderate. But the world’s much more ­severe policies have exploded the costs. According to JPMorgan, China’s economy will shrink by an unheard of 40 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

For the US, Goldman Sachs envisages a 24 per cent second-quarter gross domestic product slump, and Morgan Stanley a 30 per cent drop. In the past week alone, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.

Moreover, most governments seem to have committed to draconian policies to avoid most deaths across the long term. These will cost much, much more. If China wants to reopen, it risks a second wave of coronavirus; if it doesn’t, the economic contraction could continue or get even worse. Economists are suggesting the costs of continued extreme policies could be comparable to Germany in the 1920s or the US in the 30s, with massive economic costs, a third of the workforce unemployed and a generational loss of opportunities.

The current raft of draconian shutdown policies spanning much of the world includes border closings, shutting down travel and closing schools, concert venues, restaurants, bars, malls, sports ­facilities and countless jobs.

These policies cannot be sustained realistically for many months, let alone years. Already, mobile phone tracking shows that 40 per cent of Italians still move around despite curfews and lockdowns. In France, “virus rebels” are defying bans and young Germans hold “corona parties” while coughing at older people.

As weeks of shutdown turn into months, this will get much worse. With many more people at home, this will likely lead to higher levels of domestic violence and substance abuse. As schools stay closed, the skills of the next generation erode. One study shows closing schools for just 13 weeks could initially cost the economy 8.1 per cent of GDP. As more people become unemployed and the economy plunges, we will be able to afford much less, also leading to lower-quality healthcare for every­one. Politically, the outcome could be dire — the previous long-term recessions in the 20s and 30s didn’t end well.

We need to discuss openly the trade-offs between tougher shutdowns and economic calamity. Trump is irresponsibly itching to end most restrictions by Easter. It could help the economy in the short term, but in the long term it could lead to the corona catastrophe forecast by Imperial College. Similarly, long-term shutdown policies also can lead to devastation: first destroying the economy; then, with their support withering and health regulations unravelling by September, a huge secondary wave of COVID-19 killing people indiscriminately.

Fortunately, the Imperial College study maps out more of a ­middle ground. It didn’t advocate the complete shutdown we mostly are seeing implemented. The researchers envisioned people continue studying and mostly working while reducing their ­social activities. They pointed out that cancelling mass gatherings has “little impact”.

This middle ground is more like what Sweden is doing: recommending people work from home if possible, and asking those who are sick and over 70 to avoid social contact. But most people still work, children go to school, most of society is still running. This is long-term sustainable. Shutting it all down — like France, New Zealand and California — is not.

We need to map a middle course that saves most lives and avoids a catastrophic recession.


Chloe Middleton: the coronavirus death that wasn’t

This week, the news of the heartbreaking death of 21-year-old Chloe Middleton went across social media. She was reported to be Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim with no pre-existing condition. And so her case was quickly held up as proof as to why young people – thought to be too blasé about Covid-19 – should take the outbreak more seriously.

But the Guardiam reports this afternoon that her death has not actually been recorded as a Covid-19 death:

‘Middleton was taken to Wexham Park hospital in Slough last weekend after she had a heart attack. Attempts to resuscitate her failed and she was pronounced dead soon after arriving… A Berkshire coroner said the death was related to Covid-19 after being told Middleton had a cough, the source said. But this surprised medics at the hospital, who have not recorded it as a coronavirus incident.’

An NHS source tells the Guardian that ‘the coroner’s move “raised eyebrows” at the hospital because [Middleton] had not tested positive for the disease’.

This shows us the dangers of allowing political imperatives – ie, the need for young people to take this crisis seriously – to get ahead of the facts. Amid this outbreak we need clear-eyed discussion of what’s really going on.

It seems this tragedy was too swiftly leapt upon and turned into a cautionary tale about Covid-19, purely because it aligned with some people’s worst fears. We need to do better.


Dissent in a time of Covid

Two nasty ailments have gripped Britain in recent days. The first is Covid-19. The second is intolerance of dissent. The authoritarian instincts of the chattering classes have been on full display in this crisis. You can see it in their daily pleas for Boris Johnson to turn the UK into a police state. You can see it in their sneering at people who visit parks or take a walk on a beachfront. And you can see it most disturbingly in their implacable rage against anyone who deviates from the Covid-19 script and asks if shutting down society really is the right thing to do. Like medieval scolds, they brand such people dangerous, insane, a virus, accessories to manslaughter. ‘Shut them down!’, they cry, thinking they are signalling their concern for the public’s health when really they are advertising their profound contempt for freedom of thought and critical debate.

In an emergency, freedom of speech doesn’t stop being important. It becomes more important. The vast majority of people accept there will be restrictions on their everyday freedoms in the next few months. They know they won’t be able to socialise very much and will have to stay indoors for long periods of time. We accept this because, in contradiction of the anti-masses hatred coming from the media class at the moment, who are fuming over photographs of what they view as thick, ignorant scum walking in parks, people actually have a strong sense of social solidarity. They are concerned for the health of their friends, families, community and society. They accept restrictions to that end. But even in a moment like this there should be not a single restriction on freedom of speech. The right to dissent from the middle-class apocalypticism enveloping the Covid-19 crisis is the most important liberty right now.

And it’s a liberty under threat. The speed and intensity with which questioning extreme responses to Covid-19 has become tantamount to a speechcrime is alarming. I had a taste of it this weekend, when I found myself in the eye of a storm over a Spectator piece I wrote questioning the wisdom of closing pubs. Peter Hitchens did too, after he wrote a Mail on Sunday piece questioning the Covid shutdown of society. Others who have wondered out loud if the freezing of social and economic life is the right response to this novel new virus have been hounded, shamed, reported to the Silicon Valley authorities. David Lammy calls us insane and dangerous and says our words should be unpublished. Unpersoning will be next. Questioning the lockdown will see you blacklisted from polite society.

How swiftly we become McCarthyites. How naturally intolerance comes to that section of society that thinks it knows best. Partly, of course, this is always its default mode. As we know from the past couple of decades of social shaming, No Platforming and outright state assaults against people who are deemed to hold hateful or wrongthink views, the new elites are not exactly friends of freedom of speech. But the rising tide of Covid-19 censoriousness also suggests that these people think that when things get serious, when society faces a genuine threat, then freedom of speech becomes a negotiable commodity. Words potentially become dangerous. Bad ideas can lead to loss of life. So police speech, shame the dissenters, silence the ‘virus’ of incorrect thought. This is as wrong as it is possible for someone to be. It is precisely moments like this that show why freedom of speech is the most important value in a civilised, democratic society.

Right now, our societies are doing something historically unprecedented. They are asking us to change our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable just a couple of weeks ago. Some European societies have completely shut down. This week the UK will likely introduce a Coronavirus Bill that will give our government extraordinary power over individuals and public space. The right to question this is essential, for two reasons. First, because we should never feel comfortable with restrictions on freedom. Even if we accept them as short-term measures in a mass act of social solidarity to protect life, they should still make us bristle and balk and constantly ask questions: ‘Why is this necessary? When will it end? When will the Coronavirus Bill be repealed?’

And the second reason freedom of speech becomes even more important in a crisis is because of one of the key things that freedom of speech does – it encourages intellectual humility. Freedom of speech is the means through which all of us entertain the possibility that we are wrong. The great service of freedom of speech is that it helps us question ourselves. The unfettered existence of all kinds of interesting, challenging, strange and offensive views is the great and essential guard against our own tendencies to dogma. It invites rethinking, re-evaluation. It gives us that great liberty: the liberty to change our minds.

Dogma, in contrast, does the opposite. Dogma emerges where people shield themselves, normally courtesy of censorship, from the thoughts and questions and criticisms of others. Forcefielding oneself and one’s ideas from criticism gives rise to lazy, sclerotic thinking. It nurtures orthodoxies and blind beliefs, ideologies that are cleaved to not because their worth and substance have been properly tested through rigorous public debate but because we just know they are right. Doing that in normal times is bad enough. Doing that in a time of unprecedented crisis is lethal. It means this: society might go down a route that is wrong. I’m not saying it is wrong. But shouldn’t we entertain the possibility that it is? Shouldn’t we nurture the conditions of freedom in which the potential wrongness of what we are doing could be exposed? Shouldn’t we be humble rather than dogmatic about the overhaul of modern life, and open to the possibility that it is a mistake?

I want to hear from dissenters who think that what we are doing is wrong. Their voices are immeasurably important right now. They will protect us from the disease of dogma. I want to hear from people like David L Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, who says the lockdown might be a mistake; that this ‘near total meltdown of normal life – schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned – [might be] long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself’. I want to hear from those, like Katz, who are asking if the lockdown itself could actually help to spread the disease, for example by closing colleges and schools and sending ‘young people of indeterminate infectious status… to huddle with their families’.

I want to hear from people like Professor Michael T Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who says ‘a national lockdown is no cure’. Who says we must urgently ‘consider the effect of shutting down offices, schools, transportation systems, restaurants, hotels, stores, theatres, concert halls, sporting events and other venues indefinitely and leaving all of their workers unemployed and on the public dole’. ‘The likely result’, he says, ‘would be not just a depression but a complete economic breakdown’.

I want to hear from people like Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, who reminds us that apocalyptic predictions were made about earlier viral diseases and they did not come true. Who reminds us that the UK government predicted that 65,000 Brits would die from swine flu in 2009, but actually fewer than 500 died. Who says there are dangers both to underreaction and overreaction to Covid-19 and that our society must learn to live with this uncertainty.

I want to hear from these voices because they can help to hold at bay the desire for unflinching certainty and dogmatic responses in the face of Covid-19, neither of which are helpful, and both of which could end up causing as much harm to society and our wellbeing as the disease itself. The instinct to demonise and shut down anyone who says we are overreacting to Covid-19 is not only irritatingly censorious and anti-intellectual – it is potentially dangerous, too, since it will erase those opinions that are holding out the possibility that what we are doing is wrong. ‘Am I wrong?’ has never been a more important question to ask ourselves. And freedom of speech is the thing that makes that question possible, makes it meaningful, and gives it the extraordinary power to protect society from good intentions that might have terrible consequences.


Coronavirus: It’s time for us to decide if the cure is worse than the disease

Janet Albrechtsen writes from Australia

In Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens writes that the essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks but in how it thinks. It is ­intellectual curiosity that matters most. And right now we need more of this key ingredient. A healthy democracy does not die in a pandemic.

Let’s be clear. No one has the wisdom of Solomon or the prophetic powers of Apollo. But finally, this past week, many more people are publicly asking if the cure is worse than the disease. We need more of this intellectual curiosity instead of joining the cheer squad for the Morrison government or the more hysterical Canberra press bubble.

It means probing government decisions, checking herd mentalities, raising differences between expert advice, and understanding that bureaucrats advising governments about the current economic responses to COVID-19 never lose their jobs in a crisis. We should not accept medical advice as the sole source of truth either. Not only is it both contestable and contested, but doctors have a laser-like focus on medical issues and have little or no knowledge of, and sometimes not much interest in, the social, economic or cultural conse­quences of their advice.

A few weeks ago, Guardian Australia political editor Katharine Murphy wondered whether dealing with COVID-19 might be the revenge of the experts. Beware of those who assert that “experts” equal a consensus, or accepted wisdom, or settled orthodoxy. Remember Brexit? These phrases are often used by people who pretend to love a rollicking debate — but only when it suits them. On some matters, they claim consensus to shut people up.

As American intellectual Walter Lippmann once said: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” And happily, not all people think alike. Consider the comments this week from newly appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth, an infectious diseases specialist at Canberra Hospital. In an interview on ABC radio on Thursday, Coatsworth said the effectiveness of imposing harsher rules around ­social isolation to deal with COVID-19 is “a contested point”.

Coatsworth also challenged the ABC’s message that the broadcaster’s medical reporter, Norman Swan, is the go-to guy on COVID-19. “I disagree with Norman when he thinks that this is going to be over in weeks if we go for harder and faster lockdowns,” Coatsworth said. “I don’t think they’ve thought through the impact on Australia and Australians of doing that.”

It is no bad thing to push back. John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine in epidemiology and co-director of Stanford’s Meta-­Research Innovation Centre in the US, questions the official death rate of 3.4 per cent put out by the World Health Organisation.

No one can accurately tally up unrecorded cases of COVID-19 and that single fact renders the modelling inaccurate. If the true fatality rate is closer to 1 per cent or even lower, Ioannidis says, then “locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be ­totally irrational”.

Veteran left-liberal commentator Thomas Friedman also has broken from the pack about this pandemic. Writing in The New York Times this week, Friedman is asking whether the cure is worse than the disease. Friedman spoke with David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Yale-­Griffin Prevention Research Centre in the US, who questions the current “horizontal interdiction” — basically, shutting down commerce and limiting movement by large parts of the population.

Katz posits a more surgically targeted “vertical interdiction” strategy to sequester and protect the more vulnerable after a short, sharp period of lockdown of two weeks, rather than a longer, unsustainable and economically ruinous approach that will deliver its own devastating health costs.

Katz suggests that “the rejuvenating effect on spirits, and the economy, of knowing where there’s light at the end of this tunnel would be hard to overstate”.

“Risk will not be zero,” he told Friedman, “but the risk of some bad outcome for any of us on any given day is never zero.’’

Again, none of us has the perfect set of answers. And no leader should be demonised for changing tack. US President Donald Trump wants to reopen the US economy by Easter. It may not happen, but Trump offers hope instead of the dark, uncertain and confusing ­tunnels many of us face in other countries.

It was breathtaking to hear Anthony Albanese claim this week that the Morrison government needed to avoid a tension “between dealing with the health issues and dealing with the economic issues”. Is he kidding?

Was this brazen politics or reckless stupidity? There are devastating social costs arising directly from decisions to shut down businesses and shunt away people.

If Albanese cannot grapple with that, then he has no rightful claim to be the alternative prime minister.

The tensions are immense. Poverty kills people, too. Losing your job through no fault of your own is soul-destroying. Facing extended unemployment can wreck the prospects and futures of millions of people. People and families need to know how they will pay their bills and buy food.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert assured me on ­Sunday evening that the myGov bureaucracy was primed for huge numbers of newly unemployed Australians desperately seeking help on Monday. It had already been road-tested by the bushfire crisis, he said.

This is not a time for cockiness. The system crashed the next day under the weight of demand. I had passed on the minister’s assur­ances to try to allay the concerns of hardworking decent people who lost their jobs on Sunday night.

Can Robert imagine what it is like to stand in a long line on a pavement during a pandemic to ask for money because a job has been taken from you overnight by a decision made by government?

The next day, Robert tried to wash the egg off his face by claiming there had been a cyber hack ­attack. It wasn’t true.

Robert still has his job.

We are tearing at the social fabric of communities, shutting down footy and pubs and church ser­vices. GPs tell me of their concerns about the devastating mental health consequences of enforced social dislocation. Are we potentially creating a powder keg that we will one day rue?

Being forced into lockdown in dysfunctional and even dangerous households doesn’t bear thinking about. But we must, surely, consider all these tensions as part of every single decision made to deal with COVID-19.

A woman who lives on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, 165km from Adelaide, was due to have a hysterectomy in Adelaide on Thursday. On Wednesday morning, she was told all elective surgeries were cancelled, effective immediately because of government directives. Early Wednesday afternoon, she was told her surgery would go ahead after a change to the rules. Later that day, she was told it was cancelled again. Her distress is immense.

At another Adelaide hospital, a nurse went to work on Monday, only to be told to stay home the next day because of new self-­isolation rules that applied to her after a trip to Sydney on the weekend. On Tuesday, she was asked to come to work after all. She was told that the rules about self-isolation applied only to people arriving after Tuesday 11am.

This confusion is across industries, across the country.

To be sure, leaders are doing their best in the most frightful circumstances. As the Prime Minister spoke to the nation on Tuesday evening following a meeting of the national cabinet, who could imagine telling the country that a ­funeral must have no more than 10 mourners, or that a big birthday party for a two-year old cannot go ahead in these times?

It is unthinkable. But that does not mean we must be unthinking.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


27 March, 2020  

Coronavirus may have already infected half of UK, study says

The leading person behind this finding is an expert in precisely this subject, so her conclusions carry more weight than most other pontifications on the subject. 

And her prediction is highly congruent with what we know already:  Lots of people are exposed to the virus but don't get ill.  It seems highly likely that the people who get ill are a quite small fraction of the population. And those who die are an even smaller fraction.  Given that, calculations of incidence have so far been much overblown.  The numbers reported as adversely affected amount to less than 1% of the population and those who die are a tiny fraction of that.

In Australia only 11 people have died.  What fraction of the 25 million population is that?  It's totally insignificant.

And those who die all seem to be in risk groups anyhow. In Italy, the average age of those who have died is 80! And people in that age group frequently succumb to whatever flu is around that year. In Britain deaths were also in risk groups. 43 coronavirus deaths were recorded there on Wednesday 25th.  But only one of those did not have an underlying health condition

Unless that radically changes, we must therefore conclude that the number of cases adversely affected may be no greater than what we see in a normal bout of the flu. The flu kills between 20,000 and 60,000 Americans every year. We are, in other words, moving heaven and earth to prevent something pretty normal and of no unusual concern.

In the whole of biology a trend never goes on forever.  What we always see is an initial leap followed by either a flattening out or a steady decline.  And exactly that will happen with the present infections.  The big question, of course is WHEN will the infections stop increasing.

China has already experienced a cessation of new infections so from that datum we have to conclude that those adversely affected will be a very small percentage of the overall population. 

We may however wonder how far we can trust the Chinese figures so the findings below are timely.  They too lead to the view that only a small part of the population gets ill from the virus.  So we now have two lines of evidence leading to the view that we are turning our world upside down for something very minor in the total scheme of things. If so, the rational course would be simply to let the virus run its course -- as we normally do with flu viruses

The rapidly spreading coronavirus may have already infected half the UK population — but that is encouraging news, according to a new study by the University of Oxford.

The modeling by researchers at Oxford’s Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease group indicates the COVID-19 virus reached the UK by mid-January at the latest, spreading undetected for more than a month before the first official case was reported in late February, the Financial Times reports.

But even though this suggests the spread is far worse than scientists previously estimated, it also implies that only one in a thousand people infected with COVID-19 requires hospitalization.

The researchers say this shows that herd immunity — the idea that the virus will stop spreading when enough of the population builds up resistance through becoming infected — can help fight the highly-contagious disease.

This view is in contrast to the Imperial College London modeling used by the UK government to develop policies to halt the crisis, including social distancing.

“I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology, who led the study, told the Financial Times.

If the Oxford model is confirmed by testing, Professor Gupta believes this means current restrictions could be removed much sooner than the government has indicated, the Financial Times reports.

The group is now working with colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge and Kent to start antibody testing to figure out what stage the epidemic is in and to assess protective immunity, according to the outlet.


The Right to Anonymity is Vital to Free Expression: Now and Always

“There are myriad reasons why individuals may wish to use a name other than the one they were born with. They may be concerned about threats to their lives or livelihoods, or they may risk political or economic retribution. They may wish to prevent discrimination or they may use a name that’s easier to pronounce or spell in a given culture.”

These words, from a blog post we published nine years ago during my first year at EFF, remain as true as ever. Whether we’re talking about whistleblowers, victims of domestic violence, queer and trans youth who aren’t out to their local communities, or human rights workers, secure anonymity is critical for these individuals, even life-saving.

And yet, our right to anonymity online remains at risk. Just last month, British television presenter Caroline Flack’s death by suicide prompted calls for more regulation of social media, with some pundits suggesting platforms require ID. In India, a similar proposal is expected to be released by the country’s IT Ministry, although reports indicate that verification would be optional.

Proponents of such proposals believe that when people use their “real” name, they behave more civilly toward one another. Facebook has long maintained that their policy requiring “authentic identity” keeps users safe. But the evidence just isn’t there. One report, from the Coral Project, breaks down the fallacy of why people believe anonymity makes people less civil, while another—from commenting platform Disqus—suggests that people are at their kindest when using a pseudonym.

But most importantly, there are myriad reasons why anonymity and pseudonymity remain vital tools for free expression and safety. Take, for instance, our recent case involving Darkspilver, a member of the Jehovah’s Witness community who posted comments—including a copy of an advertisement from the organization’s Watchtower magazine—to Reddit. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society pursued a copyright claim against Darkspilver over the advertisement. A magistrate judge ruled that the organization should be able to pursue its claim, and ordered the disclosure of Darkspilver’s identity.

Darkspilver had serious concerns about being “disfellowshipped” from their community, having seen others cut off from their families and communities. EFF was able to successfully appeal in District Court, however, and Darkspilver’s anonymity remains protected.

Today, as we’re seeing many of our digital rights impacted by governments’ handling of COVID-19, the right to anonymity remains vital. We’ve already seen important medical information being shared with the press by anonymous health experts in Wuhan. We’ve also already heard stories of vital information being suppressed, and arrests of those who speak out against their governments.

In times of turmoil, authorities might scapegoat anonymous speakers, blaming them for societal challenges. But anonymous speech is often how the public finds out the depth and severity of those challenges, be it an abuse of political power or the severity of a global pandemic. Without anonymous speech, some lies powerful people tell would go unchecked.


A Pandemic of Political Correctness

During today’s meeting of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the liberal majority voted to issue a statement expressing “grave concern” regarding “growing anti-Asian racism and xenophobia” related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, my conservative colleague Gail Heriot and I oppose expressions of racism, if any, related to the pandemic or otherwise. But we voted against the statement for several reasons. Our biggest objection related to the Commission’s suggestion that referring to COVID-19 with terms like “Chinese Coronavirus or Wuhan flu” is somehow fueling “[t]his latest wave of xenophobic animosity toward Asian-Americans.” This suggestion is consistent with those recently voiced by Democrats and mainstream media (but I repeat myself).

It’s common to refer to infectious diseases by their geographic origin. Examples include Asian flu, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, German measles, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, Marburg virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Pontiac fever, Rift Valley fever, Spanish flu, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever, and West Nile virus. Spanish flu was probably a misnomer. It may have originated in Kansas. But calling it Spanish flu was never an indication that people hated Spaniards. Nor is there any evidence that the names of any of the other diseases inspired “racism or xenophobia” toward races or ethnicities commonly identified with such regions.

Calling COVID-19 “Chinese Coronavirus” is accurate. It originated in China. But it didn’t merely originate there. As Victor Davis Hanson has noted, China’s Communist Party rulers hid its outbreak from the rest of the world for several crucial weeks. They misrepresented its contagious nature for several more. They permitted thousands of Chinese nationals to travel throughout the world while obfuscating the potential consequences. And the Chinese government is falsely claiming the U.S. military is responsible for introducing the virus. Under those circumstances, to object to calling the virus “Chinese Coronavirus” is, to say the very least, profoundly misguided.


Coronavirus: People being told to go against instincts

Boris Johnson’s bold but sombre, schoolmasterly instruction: go home and do as you’re told, is asking the British people to go against every instinct in their political culture.

The big Anglo-Saxon countries - the US, Britain, Australia - are encountering a distinctive set of problems coping with the COVID-19 crisis.

They are asking their populations to give up familiar freedoms for a civic purpose.

More than any other cultures on earth, the Anglo-Saxon cultures - perhaps now more accurately called the Anglomorph cultures, nations with the civic shape of their British/American heritage - prize freedom as their cardinal civic value.

They have fought bitter civil wars, and even more bitter world wars, to seize and preserve their freedoms.

Five minutes ago, Johnson himself led a brilliant Brexit campaign with the slogan: Take back control. Now his message is: Relinquish control!

Where Britain has gone in lockdown, Australia will surely follow in coming days.

In Britain, in the US and in Australia large numbers of people have point blank refused to take social distancing seriously.

Common sense has been abundantly absent, from Bondi Beach to Miami holiday celebrations to a thronging London bar and cafe scene up to a day or two ago.

The disarray in the US, with states all going their own way, state and federal governments in conflict, and partisan rancour so toxic that Congress cannot even pass a stimulus package, is truly shocking.

Donald Trump declaring flatly that he is going to re-open the economy soon undercuts the seriousness of the message that people need to practice social isolation if they’re going to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsein Loong, told me this week it was important for any government to go into a crisis “with some social capital”.

His people believe the mainstream media, trust the government in a crisis, believe their government tells the truth and generally obey government instructions.

In the Anglomorph cultures, none of that is true.

Maybe that’s sometimes a good thing. In this crisis, it’s absolutely deadly.

London and much of the UK are singularly ill suited to a home-based lockdown.

My wife and I lived in London for three months last year in a tiny flat in Barons Court, just beyond West Kensington.

It was the smallest space I’ve ever inhabited. The dining, living and kitchen space were about the size of a large ensuite bathroom in any self respecting McMansion and the bedroom required careful sliding around the edge of the bed.

But it was perfectly fine for a temporary stay partly because life in London is not lived at home. Walking 300m left or right took me to many tiny coffee bars, cafes, small super markets and pubs. You never had coffee at home because all these places functioned as your living room.

In Australia we drive to the super market and do a big shop once a week, or even less often, unless we particularly enjoy shopping. In Barons Court everyone it seemed went to the markets and food stores every day. Everyone went to the pubs every night. You watched the football in the pub, you read the newspaper in a cafe, you bought your supplies almost daily for those rare occasions when you ate at home.

Our refrigerator was the size of a few - very few - stacked shoe boxes. We backed on to a building site which was always noisy. None of this mattered because our time in the apartment was sparse.

Imagine being locked in full time, with the prospect that lock down might last weeks, months.

And our apartment, on the top floor, was very good by London standards. The people in the semi-basement ground floor at the front had their window open on to the building’s always full garbage bins. The apartment at the back opened onto the noisy, dust-generating building site.

Cabin fever would set in after about a day. Keeping symptom-free people, especially young people, confined in apartments like that, and there are many much smaller and more crowded all over London, will require the spirit of the blitz in an era of routine, narcissistic civil disobedience.

That’s very tough.


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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


26 March, 2020

Atheist man slams Christian roommate for praying for him because it's 'forcing his religion on others' - but critics claim it shouldn't bother him

An atheist man who asked his Christian roommate not to pray for him has sparked a debate over whether it's appropriate to pray for someone who doesn't share the same religion.

The anonymous man, believed to be from America, took to Reddit arguing that prayer annoys him because he doesn't want his accomplishments and happiness to be associated with God.

He claimed to respect his roommate's religion, but added that he doesn't want to be included in any of his addresses to the Lord. 

The post racked up more than 200 comments, with many people divided over whether the roommate was indeed 'forcing' their religion onto the man.

Explaining the situation, the man explained that he had believed in Christianity until the age of seven.

'My roommate is a Christian and usually isn't one of the annoying ones so we get along. However, he told me the other day that he prays for the people he cares about and I asked him if that includes me,' he recalled.

'He said he prays for me and this kind of annoys me. I get it, he has his own coping mechanism, cool. But I don't want him to think that my accomplishments and happiness are because he so generous to pray for me to his sky daddy.

'I told him to stop and he says he respects my "religion" (he used that word directly) but I have to respect his faith and expression. Which I do - I'm not telling him not to pray, I'm just telling him to leave me specifically out of it.'

Many responses argued that the roommate isn't forcing his religion on him, but simply showing that he cares.

One person wrote: 'A little bit YTA [You're the a*****e]. He's in no way forcing his religion on you. What he prays about is of no concern to you and if you were going to be this bothered by it, you probably should have minded your business and not asked.

'I hate to say it but you sound very insecure if you're so aggressively concerned that one person might think your accomplishments have something to do with their prayers. But I honestly don't think your roommate is thinking that hard about it. If you don't believe in it and think prayers hold no value, it shouldn't make a difference to you whether or not your roommate has you in mind when he prays.'

Another said: 'YTA - just like he can't tell you who or what to worship, you can't tell him who he can and cannot pray for. Chances are he's been doing it for quite a while and it didn't bother you till you asked.'

But others said they understand why the man may feel uncomfortable and claimed he's entitled to ask his roommate to stop praying for him.

One wrote: 'Interesting that I seem to be in the minority here but NTA [not the a*****e] - if it makes you uncomfortable then he's doing it for himself, not you.

'It's like when guys compliment women in a work situation and when asked to stop they say that they mean't well - if it's not welcomed, it's no longer a nice thing. To be fair you can't really enforce it, but solidarity for this internet stranger - he sounds like a sanctimonious a**.'

'NTA. It is incredibly rude to pray for someone who's asked you not to and I'm saying that as a religious person,' commented another.

A third added: 'NAH, I know most people would disagree but OP just wants him to stop. I don't understand though, he just politely asked him to stop, you may not think it's any of his business but the roommate is praying about HIM.

'It's his business if he's included even it's via prayer, sure it's kind of rude but as long as he's polite they can come to an understanding that OP simply dislikes his roommate praying for/about him'.


Marvel Launches New Politically Correct Woke Superhero Comic to Insult Long-Time Readers

Marvel Comics have again insulted all comic book fans everywhere by announcing a new superhero team full of politically correct, woke, so-called diverse characters. And yes, all sane individuals have been calling for Marvel to stop gender-flipping, race-flipping, orientation-flipping their characters and create new ones, but now we have all changed our minds and are saying no, not like that.

And while the characters are new, they have taken a team name of a much-loved superhero comic, even if no one had been buying it for years. And it's all been arranged by a marketing department at Marvel trying to appeal to a non-existent audience that they will fail to reach.

The comic is, as I am sure you have guessed, is called Giant-Size X-Men #1, written by Len Wein and drawn by Dave Cockrum, two creators who should know better. It has taken a team of all-American heroes, kept one as a token, Cyclops, pushed to the back of the group, and then introduced characters from Japan and Germany – countries that the USA was at war with only thirty years ago, added a Russian, who we are in a Cold War with right now, as well as a Canadian, who we might as well be at war with – and given him universal healthcare powers as well.

And then they have taken the powers associated with Norweigan Aryan gods of thunder and given it, in an astounding display of virtue signalling, to a black woman. Oh and just to put the cherry on the top added a Native American, because normal Americans just aren't good enough. At least they kill him off in the first issue.

Anyway, I predict that as a result of this casting, demanded by Marvel's sales department because they wanted to appeal to international audiences, but then used characters from countries that they don't sell their comics to, this ludicrous and transparent attempt at woke comic book storytelling will fail and no one will ever hear the words X-Men again. Get woke, go broke.

Though I hear rumour that a certain Chris Claremont is waiting in the wings to take over the writing, so maybe there's a hope that he, with John Byrne, might stop all this inorganic foisting of black women and other attempts at diversity onto the public, and certainly won't be pushing some message of tolerance, or political messaging that was never intended by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.


Surprise release of Woody Allen memoir by new publisher

Movie director Woody Allen's controversial autobiography was released in the United States on Monday, swiftly finding a new home after its original publisher pulled out after protests over abuse allegations against the film-maker.

New York-based Arcade Publishing announced it has acquired world rights to Apropos Of Nothing, saying it would not "bow to the politically correct pressures of the modern world". "We as publishers prefer to give voice to a respected writer and filmmaker," editor Jeannette Seaver said in a statement.

Earlier this month, giant publisher Hachette scrapped plans to release the book penned by Allen, 84, who has long been accused of molesting his daughter, and returned all rights to the author.

Hachette had cancelled the launch after Allen's son, Ronan Farrow, who is extremely critical of his father, denounced the book group, and staff staged a walkout.

Allegations that Allen molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow when she was seven years old in the early 1990s have dogged the Oscar-winning film-maker for decades.

The director of Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) was cleared of the charges - first levelled by his then partner, actress Mia Farrow - and has consistently denied the abuse.

But Dylan, now 34, maintains she was molested.

The unexpected announcement of the book's release on Monday comes about two weeks ahead of its originally scheduled April 7 launch from Hachette's Grand Central Publishing subsidiary.

Ronan, a high-profile investigative journalist and best-selling author, led the backlash to the book. He has long defended Dylan, who renewed her accusations against Allen in early 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Dozens of Hachette employees in New York walked out in protest at its original plan to publish the memoir.

But some had criticised Hachette's withdrawal as censorship, including best-selling author Stephen King. "The Hachette decision to drop the Woody Allen book makes me very uneasy. It's not him; I don't give a damn about Mr Allen. It's who gets muzzled next that worries me," he said on Twitter.

Ms Seaver said that "while we respect Hachette's decision to choose not to publish Woody Allen's book, we choose not to take sides, but rather, firmly believe in upholding the right to freedom of speech".

She added: "We find it critical to hear more than one side of a story and, more importantly, not to squelch a writer's right to be heard."


Trump rips NY Times for altering coronavirus negotiations headline 'to satisfy the radical left'

President Trump ripped The New York Times on Monday for repeatedly changing a headline on an article regarding a trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package "to satisfy the radical left," calling the modifications "corrupt" and "dangerous" for the U.S.

"The New York Times changed headlines 3 times in order to satisfy the Radical Left. What should have been a good story got 'worse & worse', until the headline alone made it very unfair," the president tweeted. "Fake & Corrupt News that is very dangerous for our Country!"

Trump's ire came after the Times changed the original headline on an article, "Democrats Block Action on $1.8 Trillion Stimulus," to "Democrats Block Action on Stimulus Plan, Seeking Worker Protections" and then to "Partisan Divide Threatens Deal on Rescue Plan." The coronavirus stimulus package, which is designed to help offset potentially catastrophic economic impacts of the virus, is still being negotiated after Senate Democrats blocked a procedural vote on the measure late Sunday.

The Times was already under fire for the changes, primarily from the president's supporters, before the tweet.

The Hill has reached out to the Times for comment.

Trump late Sunday also lashed out at the Times and other news outlets over their coverage of his administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, claiming that all he's seen is "hatred of me."

"I watch and listen to the Fake News, CNN, MSDNC, ABC, NBC, CBS, some of FOX (desperately & foolishly pleading to be politically correct), the [New York Times], & the [Washington Post], and all I see is hatred of me at any cost," Trump said on Twitter.

"Don’t they understand that they are destroying themselves?" he asked.

Coronavirus cases have soared in the U.S. to more than 35,000, and the death toll stands at more than 470, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


25 March, 2020

Support for abortion now defines the Left

It is a "Litmus test", in Bernie's words

Politics is downstream of culture. As the mores, standards, and lack thereof change, so do our politics. Look no further than the definition of life in the womb.

Leftists’ demand for abortion is now just to be safe (for the mother), not rare. That’s in contrast to the stance from 28 years earlier. In 1992, the Democratic National Committee Platform referenced abortion twice. In the 2016 DNC Platform, the mentions of abortion increased to six with a great deal more copy devoted to demands of reproductive choice and “justice.”

Back in the days of Bill Clinton, Democrats promised affordable health care that included “the full range of reproductive choice — education, counseling, access to contraceptives, and the right to a safe, legal abortion.” They argued, “The goal of our nation must be to make abortion less necessary, not more difficult or more dangerous.”

But in the 2016 DNC Platform, the desire to see a reduction in the practice of ending the life of the preborn child in the mother’s womb is anathema for militant feminists. They now say, “We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.”

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, both the DNC and the Republican National Committee will publish their newest platforms that provide the ideological framework for the respective partisan organizations. Don’t be surprised to see even more radical language from Democrats who equate life-ending abortion with healthcare.

Still in doubt?

Just last week, Illinois Democrats defeated their last pro-life member of Congress, Congressman Dan Lipinski. Representing the more moderate but still Democrat 3rd Congressional District, Lipinski suffered a defeat at the hands of a more “progressive” Marie Newman, who had backing from all the big-monied abortion industry: Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Emily’s List, and Pro-Choice America. This bloodthirsty coalition spent over $1.5 million to aid the campaign aimed to defeat the incumbent Lipinski. It wasn’t just the big money of the abortion industry. The Who’s Who of hard-left politics joined in. Endorsements of Newman included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, along with other presidential hopefuls on the Left, has declared that abortion support be a “litmus test” to be deemed a Democrat. As time has passed, Democrats have become galvanized in their determination to support abortion as part of the modern Democrat Party.

Newman ran previously against Lipinski and lost in 2018. Her success in 2020 is due to any number of factors, but one that can’t be overlooked is that the new Democrats have no tolerance for any who define life as beginning at conception, or who say that the life of a preborn child should be protected.

Despite the decline in morals, universal support of abortion is not the mainstream opinion of Americans.

As few as 13% of Americans support abortion during the last trimester and more than 75% want restrictions on abortion — anything from limiting it to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, allowing it only in the case of rape or incest, or not permitting it at all. Even registered Democrats show limited support of abortion in the last three months before delivery, with just 18% supportive and up to 30% of Democrats being pro-life.

What does this mean? Are our politics becoming more radical? Are women really more likely to support abortion rather than motherhood?

Politics is downstream of culture. Our society has embraced less of God and more of self, which leads directly into the narrative that one’s life is all about one — the Me, Myself, and I Holy Trinity of the religion of Secularism. When the entity of secular deification is looking at any event or life choice, even pregnancy, one of the key factors is whether an event or action is convenient as well as whether said event adds to or takes away from the rights and independence of the individual involved.

Abortion is performed less today than in years past thanks to the improved technology around ultrasound imaging and laws that honor the rights of the preborn. But on the political front, the facts are that beliefs have shifted due to cultural indifference to truth that masquerades as tolerance and that which is now accepted as a societal good. Most alarming should be the latter. Abortion accepted as some societal good reflects our tendency toward selfish existence with no ability to understand legacy or the need for family — only convenience. The trouble with our politics reveals the trouble with our culture.


Why ‘Empire nostalgia’ is declining in Britain

It is rightly seen as something from yesteryear that will never return

Britain’s surprise decision to leave the European Union in the referendum of 2016 has encouraged many people to ask why the majority of voters rejected the advice given to them by the government and experts in economics.

Political scientists like the late Peter Mair, Matthew Goodwin and David Goodhart had long been explaining that popular disaffection with mainstream politics meant that the pro-EU stance of the political class was particularly disliked by voters. For reasons best known to themselves, most commentators refused to hear these sensible and well-founded conclusions.

Rejecting the actual evidence on popular disaffection with the EU, most academics and commentators latched on to bizarre and hate-fuelled prejudices about their fellow citizens to ‘explain’ why they had voted ‘the wrong way’. The most telling reaction was to blame the voters’ incipient racism for the Brexit vote.

The flaw in that reasoning was that negative sentiments towards migrants have generally been falling in Britain for decades now, and they fell more sharply in the period after the Brexit vote.

When they aren’t promoting their counter-factual belief that their fellow citizens have become more racist, those who were uncomfortable with the decision to leave the EU have argued that Britain is clearly mired in ‘Empire nostalgia’. This was the argument put in Fintan O’Toole’s anti-Brexit book Heroic Failure, by columnist and media professor Gary Younge, and by SOAS’s Eleanor Newbigin, among others.

A new YouGov poll commissioned by the Guardian has been reported with the headline ‘UK more nostalgic for Empire than other ex-colonial powers’. The Guardian’s report on the poll includes the factoid that ‘more than 30 per cent of British people are proud of the British Empire’.

But this is less remarkable than it appears. Thirty-two per cent thought that the Empire was ‘more something to be proud of’ (the question was actually ‘to be more proud of than ashamed of’). That means that 68 per cent did not think that the Empire was more something to be proud of. The plurality – 37 per cent – held the eminently sensible view that the Empire was something neither to be proud of nor ashamed of. And then, a fifth of Brits are woke enough to be ashamed of the British Empire.

The figure of 32 per cent who think that the Empire is more something to be proud of than ashamed of is hardly remarkable. Since Britain has for most of the past 300 years had an Empire, it is not easy to be proud of Britain’s history without that meaning the Empire, too. Are you proud of the way that the British Empire fought against fascism in the Second World War? Or are you proud of the role that the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy played in suppressing the slave trade in the 19th century? Do you feel a shiver of pride at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day? These are not views that should put you outside of the mainstream of public opinion.

What about the direction of travel in public attitudes to the Empire? Though the discussion of ‘Empire nostalgia’ is framed as if it was obvious that a positive assessment of the Empire was on the rise, that is not the case at all. In fact, the same YouGov poll carried out in 2016 found that 44 per cent were proud of the British Empire. A better headline in 2020 might have been, ‘Marked decline in identification with the British Empire’. But that would disturb the prejudice that ‘Empire nostalgia’ is on the rise.

Those who fear the rise of Empire nostalgia are like people on a train who think that the station is moving away from them. They have not understood that it is they who are moving. The belief among academics and intellectuals that wider British society is in the grip of a yearning for the past are surprised that the rest of the country does not feel the same compulsion to decry the past. That does not mean that the popular reputation of the Empire is reviving – it is just not falling as fast or as hard as the critics would like it to.

How should we understand the shift in attitudes on the Empire? I would like to suggest that the substantial change driving attitudes to Empire is the transformation of the Labour Party, from a party rooted in a mass labour movement to what it is today: a more middle-class and somewhat alienated minority.

No institution in British society did more to popularise the Empire in the 20th century than the Labour Party. When popular disaffection with war was rising in 1915, it was the Labour Party that rallied Britons to back the war effort. When dismay at the prospect of another war was at its height in the late 1930s, it was Labour that won the people over to support the ‘People’s War’. Labour gave an anti-fascist gloss to the British Empire all through to the 1980s. Labour leaders were, generally speaking, patriots who identified with British influence in the world, seeing it as a force for good.

Behind those Labour leaders stood trade-union leaders who similarly identified with British success overseas. Baron Geddes of Epsom had been general secretary of the Post Office Workers’ Union from 1944 to 1957, and president of the Trades Union Congress in 1955. On 18 March 1969, he told the House of Lords that ‘the men who ran the trade-union movement… could be called patriots’:

‘They believed that they supported the government of the day, not because they were, in the left-wing words, “capitalist lackeys”, but because they believed that the good of the country in the long run, in the long term, was for the good of their members.’

Baron Geddes stood in the tradition of a long line of patriotic trade-union leaders going back to the railwaymen’s Jimmy Thomas.

The patriotic strand in the organised labour movement, and in the Labour Party, barely exists today. Margaret Thatcher’s determination to undermine the corporate status of the unions in the 1980s put paid to its influence. The Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did nothing to reverse the corrosion of the official – and patriotic – trade-union movement.

The decline of labour institutions had both destructive and liberating aspects. The popular patriotism of the trade-union movement was for the most part a conservative tradition, hostile to migrants and younger workers, supine to the employers.

The contemporary sentiment that British people should feel bad about the Empire is driven by a snobbish instinct that sees popular assertiveness as a bad thing in itself. Whenever people in Britain stand up for themselves, as they did in the referendum, the ‘decolonise the curriculum’ influenced academics see some portent of Empire nostalgia, the same way that a man with a hammer sees a world full of nails. They like the idea that people should go around feeling bad about things that their great grandparents might have done. This is an attitude that is entirely at home in the modern Labour Party, so pointedly at odds with the party that it has replaced.

What few seem to have noticed is that most people in Britain do not care about the Empire. They do not feel greatly motivated to glory in things that they never did, nor do they feel bad about bad things they never did. This is a wholly intelligent point of view. The one thing we know for sure about history is that it is what no longer exists.


What Is the “Missing Middle” for Urban Transport?

“Missing Middle” is a phrase used to describe housing of medium size, density and expense. Many hot urban markets now produce two housing types that are pricier than this middle ground – high-rise units that cost more to build because they require concrete- or steel-frame construction; and single-family homes, which require individual households to purchase entire land plots. Missing middle is the housing types in-between – duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, ADUs – that aren’t as capital- or land-intensive per unit. Legalizing them has become a goal for affordable housing activists.

Transportation is another big aspect of U.S. urban policy, and I think there’s a missing middle for that too – namely in dense cities. This option sits in-between, and is less expensive than, either car ownership or public transit. But before defining it, let me explain these two more traditional options.

First is car ownership. It’s expensive because, even if people shop America’s competitive used car market, they’re still having to pay for licensing, insurance, fuel and repairs. According to the American Automobile Association, the average driver spends $8,849 per year on car ownership. This doesn’t include parking costs, which are especially high in cities, and would be even higher if drivers paid the full price for it (more on that below).

Second is public transit dependence, which is generally advocated by those who dislike personal car use. Its fiscal costs are less, but its opportunity costs are often higher even than car ownership. A Governing Magazine analysis found that average commute times in 25 large U.S. metros was twice as long for transit users than for single-occupancy vehicle drivers. Another report from the Brookings Institute found that in metro America, only a quarter of low- and middle-skill jobs are accessible by transit in under 90 minutes. Part of the problem is that transit agencies feel obligated to cover large areas, rather than running routes that move the greatest number of people to the greatest number of jobs. As a result, transit doesn’t address people’s needs, helping explain why ridership has declined.

But there’s a “missing middle” that could exist between the monetary cost of car ownership and the opportunity cost of transit dependence. Here’s how I see it working: an urbanite walks onto a street corner within a crowded neighborhood in a dense city like New York or San Francisco. From there, he or she can access a multitude of private micro-mobility options by phone—rideshare, bikeshare, scooter-share, moped-share, or various bus services. Some of these buses are more like vanpools, catering to small groups of passengers who want point-to-point drop-offs. Other buses are larger and follow fixed routes. But because of the ubiquity of these services (and the competition between them), prices are low: between $2-10 for trips under 2 miles.

This paradigm would turn U.S. urban neighborhoods into all-you-can-ride transit buffets. A huge diversity of options could be hailed at cheap rates, meaning every income group would be able to make multiple point-to-point trips daily. This would reduce the need for car ownership, and create better urban mobility.

And it’s a paradigm that, as other world cities show, is doable. But for it to happen in the U.S., two big strategies must change.

The first would be for the government to allow it. For over a century, there’s been heavy demand for private transit, from the early streetcars, to jitneys that arose before WWI, to dollar vans that have operated illegally for decades. Even today, companies such as Uber, Lyft and Lime lobby intensely for the right to operate in cities. But cities have been hostile to the idea for just as long. To name one of many examples, the SFMTA has unilaterally squelched every micro-mobility option mentioned above, in the name of protecting public transit.

The second thing cities should do – beyond just allowing these services – is facilitate them, by leveling the playing field for urban right-of-way. Currently, most of the ROW in dense U.S. cities is used by cars to drive or park. As New York University planning researcher Alain Bertaud writes in Order without Design, this space is often given for free or at well below-market rates, considering the land and maintenance costs it consumes.

This is a sop to people who own cars in these cities, and comes at the expense of those who don’t. If an open market could be used to price, say, curb space, that space could shift to a variety of new uses: racks for bike- and scooter-share, temporary drop-off zones for rideshare, or shelters for bus companies, all of whom could bid on use of the space. These micro-mobility companies would then have space to flourish, rather than always being scapegoated for the “traffic” and “clutter” they create.

If this system ever materialized in U.S. cities—again, by having governments take a more market-driven approach to transport—it would work wonders for urban mobility. A diversity of services would rise to meet the diversity of consumer demand, moving people cheaply and quickly. It would indeed be a third option—the transport version of a “missing middle”—sitting between the cost of car ownership and the immobility of public transit.


Australia: ‘Closing Uluru climb was a mistake’, says ex-ranger

It was a decision that captivated the nation and brought thousands of people to the Red Centre for their final chance to climb Australia’s most iconic rock. And now the man who oversaw much of that says it was wrong.

Greg Elliot, until recently the head ranger at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, personally supervised some of the last days of climbing. He shepherded scores of domestic and international visit­ors through the gates to march nose-to-tail to the top.

Mr Elliot worked in the park for seven years, two as head ranger, before retiring and leaving this week. He looks back on the World Heritage Listed landmark’s most controversial episode since the Chamberlain affair as a missed opportunity to help Aboriginal people and enhance tourism experiences.

“It’s a negative decision,” Mr Elliot said. “They should have changed it, made it a safer endeavour and then charged people for it.”

He envisions something akin to the Sydney Bridge Climb up Uluru’s flanks, a plan he says was at one point seriously considered.

Mr Elliot said rather than explore that, bureaucrats chose to manipulate the rock’s Aboriginal owners toward closing the climb, so they could remove their liability for its poor safety record while blaming someone else.

“The power of persuasion is a wonderful thing,” he said. “If enough people get told a story enough times, and that story has an element of truth to it, then they will change their opinion on that thing because they’ve heard it enough times … that happens all over the world, in every walk of life, and I’m convinced this is very strongly what aided and abetted this closing of the climb.”

Mr Elliot agrees the old climb was too dangerous. Among the absurd things he saw were parents carrying newborn babies in backpacks — “that guy slips, and that kid’s done” — and a bloke who lugged snow skis to the summit to take a photograph.

And although he would like to see Aboriginal cultural sites in the park better protected, he does not understand why progressively more of them have been declared off-limits. “How can something all of a sudden become sacred when it wasn’t sacred in the past? Or it wasn’t deemed to be as sac­red so no one could go there?

“The rock is the same rock. It hasn’t changed much, apart from the fact there’s a lighter stripe going up on the one face.”

Traditional owners have described feeling intimidated into keeping the climb open and ­said if the leaders who first allowed climbing had suspected hordes might follow, they would have stopped it.

A Parks Australia spokesperson said the climb’s closure was decided by the Aboriginal-majority park board of management, and the decision represented the fulfilment of Anangu’s long-held request for it to be closed and “this was evident in the public statements made by Anangu and the many celebrations Anangu held in Mutitjulu community and at Uluru to mark the climb closure”.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


24 March, 2020  

The Italian Coronavirus experience

Italians are great dramatizers.  Are they dramatizing here too?

Here’s the basic situation: the Italian health agencies are reporting escalating COV deaths—big fear-story out front…

But in the background, other Italian government researchers are combing through patient records, to take a much closer look…to see whether people are dying from the virus or other more obvious causes.

Are people dying coincidentally WITH the virus, or BECAUSE OF the virus? Is the virus a mere harmless passenger in the body, or is it the driving force?

The Italian results are astonishing, to understate it by a mile. Bloomberg News has the story: 3/18, “99 percent of those whose died from virus had other illness, Italy says”:

“More than 99% [!] of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities were people who suffered from previous medical conditions, according to a study by the country’s national health authority.”

“The Rome-based institute has examined medical records of about 18% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities [so far, because it’s slow work], finding that just three victims [!!], or 0.8% of the total, had no previous pathology [disease]. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions.”

“More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.”

“The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5 [!!!]. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease. All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.”


Average age of those who’ve died: 79.5. Are you kidding? Lots of prior medical conditions, weakened immune systems, and what this emerging study isn’t saying: all these people had obviously been treated for those prior conditions with toxic medical drugs. Furthermore, once they’d been diagnosed with coronavirus, chances are many of them were put on highly toxic antiviral drugs. Thus delivering the final blow.

Imagining the coronavirus was the CAUSE of death would be a ridiculous fantasy. But these people are counted as “coronavirus deaths” by the other Italian reporting agencies, who are jacking up the numbers.

Does this remind you of any other reports I’ve been detailing? The elderly people with obvious prior diseases who died in Australia; and the elderly people who were diagnosed as coronavirus cases in the state of Washington—all living in a long-term-care nursing home?

Getting the picture? This death-numbers con—aside from covering up the real causes of death, including MEDICAL—is the forward spear being used to justify locking down and wrecking economies all over the world right now, and that means attacking the people in any way connected to those economies who have to work to make a living.

There are statistical vampires at work, using the elderly and sick and dying to feed numbers to health agencies around the planet. Those agencies tap their press contacts, and horror reports emerge, and the unsuspecting public, in economic lockdowns, sit in front of the tube and watch these reports, and inhale the cooked-up fear.


Argentinian Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Refusing to Terminate Pregnancy

In Sweden, midwives can be fired and deemed unemployable for refusing abortion. In Ontario Canada, doctors can face professional discipline for refusing to administer (or refer for) euthanasia. Ditto to refusing an abortion in Victoria, Australia. In California, a Catholic hospital is being sued–with the explicit blessing of the courts–for refusing to allow a transgender hysterectomy.

But now in Argentina, the right to obtain an abortion has been declared so fundamental that an objecting M.D. can be held criminally culpable for refusing to terminate a pregnancy.

That would seem to be a moral and legal impossibility. But Argentina just elevated the “medical conscience” controversy to a whole new level of concern — from the potential of not “only” having one’s professional license revoked, but also, to the loss of personal freedom for refusing to act against personal conscience based on deeply held religious, moral, or professional beliefs. From the BioEdge story:

An Argentine court has upheld the criminal conviction of a gynaecologist who refused to abort the child of a rape victim in 2017. Dr Leandro Rodriguez Lastra was sentenced to a 14-month suspended jail term, plus 28 months of disqualification from holding public office. Dr Rodriguez Lastro will appeal.

The victim was a 19-year-old in her fifth month of pregnancy, the result of sexual abuse by a relative. At first she used an abortion drug provided by an NGO. That failed and she was referred to the hospital where Rodríguez Lastra was head of gynecology.

The doctor said that abortion posed a risk to both the unborn child and the mother. However, the judges said that the only thing necessary for a legal termination of pregnancy was a formal request from the rape victim.

The child was later given up for adoption.

Good grief, it’s almost as if the court considered the doctor to be a co-conspirator with the rapist.

Adding to the topsy-turvy nature of that decision, instead of being dead the baby is alive in the world. Shouldn’t that outcome, at least, be a cause for celebration instead of condemnation in this difficult circumstance?

How can a doctor be imprisoned for obeying the Hippocratic Oath? Lastra is a licensed professional and the court decided that refusing to abort constituted a “failure to comply with the duties of a public official,” which was an affront to the mother’s “autonomy.” The BioEdge story quoted the court’s ruling:

“Faced with the intersection of so many vulnerabilities, the accused ignored the autonomy of the young woman, giving priority to the reproductive function that she symbolized as a woman, over her dignity, over her right to health and to be informed, accompanied, contained and respected in the process of interrupting the pregnancy, an interruption to which she had a right over any other right or interest”.

“ … ignoring a woman’s voice, ignoring her vital needs, subjugating reproductive rights, devastating the psyche and enslaving the body in order to force pregnancy after a rape, means denying the victim’s status as a subject of rights and is the incarnation of gender violence in its most painful form”.

And here’s a telling twist to the story: A few years ago, a different Argentinian court granted an orangutan a writ of habeas corpus to be released from a zoo. So, an ape was declared a wrongfully imprisoned “person,” while a doctor was declared a criminal for refusing to take innocent human life.

I can write those words. I understand their meaning. But I can’t comprehend such an utter rejection of human exceptionalism.


Cop hatred from the ACLU

When a white cop shoots at a black crook, it's the white cop who is in danger  -- Devin Eaton in this case

A few hours before the sun came up on April 16, Devin and his partner got a call that changed his life forever. Armed robbery in progress.

After a caller called about a robbery at a gas station, the reported robber – Paul Witherspoon – sped off... but not before the caller gave a 9-1-1 operator his complete description.  Black male.  Dreadlocks.  Red car. They even got the license plate number right.

And that’s what the police dispatcher conveyed to my son - the robber had a gun.

When Devin saw the suspect at a red light, he turned his patrol car around and flipped on the blue lights. As my son got out of his police cruiser and approached the red car Witherspoon swung open his door and aggressively jumped out to face Devin.

It was before dawn.  Chilly.  And Witherspoon had a dark object in his right hand.

That’s when Officer Eaton drew his service pistol and fired several shots at the suspect. A Yale University officer had also joined the felony stop... and fired his gun at Witherspoon, too.

Devin only had a split-second to react. He was afraid for his life and he knew the caller reported that Witherspoon was armed. Following his police training, Devin acted to protect himself and his partner.

Witherspoon wasn’t injured, but the passenger in his car was hit with a non-lethal shot.

We breathed a sigh of relief... until the ACLU got involved.

They’ve got a long history of being anti-cop.  And they demanded that Devin son be fired from his calling – the police officer career he loves.

The facts show that Devin acted properly with the information he had. But the prosecutor didn’t see it that way. So, five months after the event, the state attorney charged my son with Aggravated Assault.

Now I worry for his safety. You see, after the ACLU sent that letter to the Mayor, anti-cop protesters locked arms and marched in the streets.

Devin never asked for any of this. All he did was make a split-second decision when he thought his life was in imminent danger.

And for simply following his training and making his best effort to protect himself and his fellow officers, Devin is staring at twenty years in prison!

To make matters worse, Devin has been suspended – without pay – from his job as a police officer.

Devin’s legal bills have climbed to neck high.

But just when we were about to lose hope, we got a phone call from Jason Johnson at the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF).

If you know anything about LELDF, you know they help fund and prepare a successful legal defense for good cops who’ve been wrongly accused of crimes they didn’t commit.

But we aren’t out of the woods yet. We still have to raise the money for Devin’s case.

That’s why I’m imploring you to find it in your heart to donate just $35, $50, $100 or more to LELDF

You see, LELDF is a non-profit organization which means they don’t receive any money from the government.

P.S. Witherspoon has a rap sheet a mile long.  His arrest record is littered with offenses like driving under the influence, carrying a dangerous weapon, and reckless driving

Donations here

Via email from Conservative Action News:  team@mail.conservativeactionnews.com

We are about to find out how robust civilisation is

Matt Ridley

On Sunday, lonely as a cloud, I wandered across a windswept moor in County Durham and passed a solitary sandstone rock with a small, round hollow in the top, an old penny glued to the base of the hollow. It is called the Butter Stone and it’s where, during the plague in 1665, coins were left in a pool of vinegar by the inhabitants of nearby towns and villages, to be exchanged with farmers for food. The idea was that the farmer or his customer approached the rock only when the other was at a safe distance.

Four modern coins were on the rock, anonymous offerings to the spirits of the moor. Never once in my six decades did I expect to be back in a 17th-century world of social and physical distancing as a matter of life and death.

There are no good outcomes from here. Many people will die prematurely. Many will lose their jobs. Many businesses will go under. Many people will suffer bereavement, loneliness and despair, even if they dodge the virus. The only question is how many in each case. We are about to find out how robust civilisation is. The hardships ahead are like nothing we’ve known.

The British government has been unusual in ramping up its social distancing measures, rather than rushing them all at once. This resulted in a good deal of bafflement and criticism, some of it justified. The driving motive was concern that a resurgence of the virus after its initial suppression would be a disastrous outcome, because people would not allow themselves to be curfewed twice, so the timing had to be right. But the vicious experience of Italy has changed everything. So when the darned models revealed that a single ‘managed’ peak here leading to eventual herd immunity might kill 260,000 people and overwhelm the National Health Service, the strategy shifted from ‘delay’ to ‘suppress’.

The government is now effectively admitting that even if drastic curfews lead to successive waves of the disease, that may be the least worst outcome. It is still a daunting prospect. Successive waves mean successive curfews and successive body blows to the economy. If we clamp down hard now and the infection rate drops, then we might be able slowly and cautiously to restart the economy in the summer but have to clamp down again when the virus resurges. Each time we do this, it will be more painful, but at least the health service will be that much better prepared, with more intensive-care beds, more isolation facilities, more ventilators, more and newer testing kits, more data on the efficacy of repurposed drugs.

Moreover, each time the virus re-emerges, there will be more immune people to help look after the sick. Once you’ve had the disease, and assuming the immunity you acquire is long-lasting (not yet certain), then you are in a special category of person who can be employed — or volunteer — for what would otherwise be risky work, and for looking after older people. Each wave of the disease can then be less awful.

One side-effect of the government’s step-by-step approach is that the people have got ahead of the authorities. Lots of people have been volunteering to give up gatherings, work from home if they can or travel less before being asked to. The chorus of complaint last week on social media that the government was not doing enough is a sign that people are now telling the government what to do — which is how it should be in a democracy. A prime minister is being criticised for not ordering us to do things, but ‘advising’ us. Better than the other way round. As the libertarian thinker Douglas Carswell put it on Monday: ‘Treat people as responsible adults and they will behave more responsibly.’

Until this year I thought this kind of infectious pandemic could not happen today. The defeat of infectious diseases as a cause of death has been so complete as to seem invincible: plague, smallpox, cholera, typhoid, measles, polio, whooping cough and many more eradicated or nearly so. The failure of terrifying new animal-derived viruses like Hanta, Marburg, Sars, Mers, ebola, swine flu, bird flu and zika to cause more than a local or temporary interruption of the march of progress left us complacent. (Only HIV went global.) The advance of science allowing the rapid reading of the genome of the new coronavirus gave us false confidence: we would know how to beat it by the time it got out of China. It seemed that only the most innocuous of common colds, and milder forms of flu, seemed capable of remaining ubiquitous. And coronaviruses are a common cause of the common cold, so (despite Sars) they seemed like pussy cats, not tigers.

It turns out that I and many others were badly wrong. The human race has been playing epidemiological Russian roulette all along. It has taken Mother Nature a long time to put a bullet in the right chamber, combining high contagion with asymptomatic carriers and a significant death rate, but she has done it.

We now know that we should have been building far more preparedness for such an event. The World Health Organization has been asleep at the switch. The Wellcome Trust did well to establish a Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation in 2017 in partnership with the Gates Foundation along with the Indian and Norwegian governments, but it should have been started much earlier.

Against many risks, excess precaution is a mistake, doing more harm than good by preventing innovation — but not in the case of threats that can explode exponentially from small beginnings. Apart from Singapore, which built a special hospital after Sars, and South Korea, which geared up to test people and gather data on a huge scale, the world had done far too little to get ready for this possibility. Everything now is catch-up. And we are trying to catch the fastest runner of them all: an exponential curve.

The number of cases outside China has increased tenfold roughly every ten days. If it continues at this rate, in two months the virus will have infected 100 million people. A vast experiment is happening as different countries try different strategies, with some in Asia having notably more success than others in Europe. But to stop the virus gaining a permanent foothold in the human population will require every single one of those experiments to work.

In the long run, we will get through this. Effective drugs will be found. Methods for keeping the very sick from dying will improve. The milder forms of the virus will probably out-compete the harsher versions. A vaccine may yet work — though it has come as quite a shock to find out just how little vaccine development has improved in recent decades. Genomics allows us to read viral genomes in a flash and make messenger-RNA vaccines, in which the body manufactures the viral proteins, doing away with the need to put killed or attenuated viruses into the body. None the less, a scientific paper that I failed to read last year warned: ‘The current state of vaccine development is an expensive, slow and laborious process, costing billions of dollars, taking decades, with less than a 10 per cent rate of success.’

We must not despair or return permanently to autarky and localism. With the right precautions, an open, free-trading, free-moving, innovating world is possible without pandemics and is essential for raising living standards. Government must both splash the cash and slash many of the things it does that are not urgent to alleviate human suffering, and there are a lot of them. But in the midst of our misery let us be thankful for one thing: unlike many plagues, this one spares children.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


23 March, 2020

Coronavirus: Is shutting down Britain – with unprecedented curbs on ancient liberties – REALLY the best answer?

Peter Hitchens

Some years ago I had the very good luck to fall into the hands of a totally useless doctor. It was hell, and nearly worse than that, but it taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. He was charming, grey-haired, smooth and beautifully dressed. He was standing in for my usual GP, a shabbier, more abrasive man.

I went to him with a troubling, persistent pain in a tender place. He prescribed an antibiotic. Days passed. It did not work. The pain grew worse. He declared that in that case I needed surgery, and the specialist to whom he sent me agreed with barely a glance. I was on the conveyor belt to the operating table.

In those days I believed, as so many do, in the medical profession. I was awed by their qualifications. Yet the prospect of a rather nasty operation filled me with gloom and doubt. As I waited miserably for the anaesthetist in the huge London hospital to which I had been sent, a new doctor appeared. I braced myself for another session of being asked ‘Does this hurt?’ and replying, between clenched teeth, that yes it blinking well did. But this third man was different. He did not ask me pointlessly if it hurt. He knew it did. He was, crucially, a thinking man who did not take for granted what he was told.

He looked at my notes. He actually read them, which I don’t think anyone else ever had. He swore under his breath. He hurried from the room, only to return shortly afterwards to say I should get dressed and go home. The operation was cancelled. All I needed was a different antibiotic, which he – there and then – prescribed and which cured the problem in three days. He was furious, and managed to convey tactfully that the original prescription had been incompetent and wrong.

The whole miserable business had been a dismal and frightening mistake. He was sorry. Heaven knows what would have happened if Providence had not brought that third doctor into the room. I still shudder slightly to think of it. But the point was this. A mere title, a white coat, a smooth manner, a winning way with long words and technical jargon, will never again be enough for me.

It never, ever does any harm to question decisions which you think are wrong. If they are right, then no harm will be done. They will be able to deal with your questions. If they are, in fact, wrong, you could save everyone a lot of trouble.

And so here I am, asking bluntly – is the closedown of the country the right answer to the coronavirus? I’ll be accused of undermining the NHS and threatening public health and all kinds of other conformist rubbish. But I ask you to join me, because if we have this wrong we have a great deal to lose.

I don’t just address this plea to my readers. I think my fellow journalists should ask the same questions. I think MPs of all parties should ask them when they are urged tomorrow to pass into law a frightening series of restrictions on ancient liberties and vast increases in police and state powers.

Did you know that the Government and Opposition had originally agreed that there would not even be a vote on these measures? Even Vladimir Putin might hesitate before doing anything so blatant. If there is no serious rebellion against this plan in the Commons, then I think we can commemorate tomorrow, March 23, 2020, as the day Parliament died. Yet, as far as I can see, the population cares more about running out of lavatory paper. Praise must go to David Davis and Chris Bryant, two MPs who have bravely challenged this measure.

It may also be the day our economy perished. The incessant coverage of health scares and supermarket panics has obscured the dire news coming each hour from the stock markets and the money exchanges. The wealth that should pay our pensions is shrivelling as share values fade and fall. The pound sterling has lost a huge part of its value. Governments all over the world are resorting to risky, frantic measures which make Jeremy Corbyn’s magic money tree look like sober, sound finance. Much of this has been made far worse by the general shutdown of the planet on the pretext of the coronavirus scare. However bad this virus is (and I will come to that), the feverish panic on the world’s trading floors is at least as bad.

And then there is the Johnson Government’s stumbling retreat from reason into fear. At first, Mr Johnson was true to himself and resisted wild demands to close down the country. But bit by bit he gave in.

The schools were to stay open. Now they are shutting, with miserable consequences for this year’s A-level cohort. Cafes and pubs were to be allowed to stay open, but now that is over. On this logic, shops and supermarkets must be next, with everyone forced to rely on overstrained delivery vans. And that will presumably be followed by hairdressers, dry cleaners and shoe repairers.

How long before we need passes to go out in the streets, as in any other banana republic? As for the grotesque, bullying powers to be created on Monday, I can only tell you that you will hate them like poison by the time they are imposed on you.

All the crudest weapons of despotism, the curfew, the presumption of guilt and the power of arbitrary arrest, are taking shape in the midst of what used to be a free country. And we, who like to boast of how calm we are in a crisis, seem to despise our ancient hard-bought freedom and actually want to rush into the warm, firm arms of Big Brother.

Imagine, police officers forcing you to be screened for a disease, and locking you up for 48 hours if you object. Is this China or Britain? Think how this power could be used against, literally, anybody.

The Bill also gives Ministers the authority to ban mass gatherings. It will enable police and public health workers to place restrictions on a person’s ‘movements and travel’, ‘activities’ and ‘contact with others’.

Many court cases will now take place via video-link, and if a coroner suspects someone has died of coronavirus there will be no inquest. They say this is temporary. They always do.

Well, is it justified? There is a document from a team at Imperial College in London which is being used to justify it. It warns of vast numbers of deaths if the country is not subjected to a medieval curfew.

But this is all speculation. It claims, in my view quite wrongly, that the coronavirus has ‘comparable lethality’ to the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed at least 17 million people and mainly attacked the young.

What can one say to this? In a pungent letter to The Times last week, a leading vet, Dick Sibley, cast doubt on the brilliance of the Imperial College scientists, saying that his heart sank when he learned they were advising the Government. Calling them a ‘team of doom-mongers’, he said their advice on the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak ‘led to what I believe to be the unnecessary slaughter of millions of healthy cattle and sheep’ until they were overruled by the then Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King.

He added: ‘I hope that Boris Johnson, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance show similar wisdom. They must ensure that measures are proportionate, balanced and practical.’

Avoidable deaths are tragic, but each year there are already many deaths, especially among the old, from complications of flu leading to pneumonia.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) tells me that the number of flu cases and deaths due to flu-related complications in England alone averages 17,000 a year. This varies greatly each winter, ranging from 1,692 deaths last season (2018/19) to 28,330 deaths in 2014/15.

The DHSC notes that many of those who die from these diseases have underlying health conditions, as do almost all the victims of coronavirus so far, here and elsewhere. As the experienced and knowledgeable doctor who writes under the pseudonym ‘MD’ in the Left-wing magazine Private Eye wrote at the start of the panic: ‘In the winter of 2017-18, more than 50,000 excess deaths occurred in England and Wales, largely unnoticed.’

Nor is it just respiratory diseases that carry people off too soon. In the Government’s table of ‘deaths considered avoidable’, it lists 31,307 deaths from cardiovascular diseases in England and Wales for 2013, the last year for which they could give me figures.

This, largely the toll of unhealthy lifestyles, was out of a total of 114,740 ‘avoidable’ deaths in that year. To put all these figures in perspective, please note that every human being in the United Kingdom suffers from a fatal condition – being alive.

About 1,600 people die every day in the UK for one reason or another. A similar figure applies in Italy and a much larger one in China. The coronavirus deaths, while distressing and shocking, are not so numerous as to require the civilised world to shut down transport and commerce, nor to surrender centuries-old liberties in an afternoon.

We are warned of supposedly devastating death rates. But at least one expert, John Ioannidis, is not so sure. He is Professor of Medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University in California. He says the data are utterly unreliable because so many cases are going unrecorded.

He warns: ‘This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4 per cent rate from the World Health Organisation, cause horror and are meaningless.’ In only one place – aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess – has an entire closed community been available for study. And the death rate there – just one per cent – is distorted because so many of those aboard were elderly. The real rate, adjusted for a wide age range, could be as low as 0.05 per cent and as high as one per cent.

As Prof Ioannidis says: ‘That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05 per cent is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.’

Epidemic disasters have been predicted many times before and have not been anything like as bad as feared.

The former editor of The Times, Sir Simon Jenkins, recently listed these unfulfilled scares: bird flu did not kill the predicted millions in 1997. In 1999 it was Mad Cow Disease and its human variant, vCJD, which was predicted to kill half a million. Fewer than 200 in fact died from it in the UK.

The first Sars outbreak of 2003 was reported as having ‘a 25 per cent chance of killing tens of millions’ and being ‘worse than Aids’. In 2006, another bout of bird flu was declared ‘the first pandemic of the 21st Century’.

There were similar warnings in 2009, that swine flu could kill 65,000. It did not. The Council of Europe described the hyping of the 2009 pandemic as ‘one of the great medical scandals of the century’. Well, we shall no doubt see.

But while I see very little evidence of a pandemic, and much more of a PanicDemic, I can witness on my daily round the slow strangulation of dozens of small businesses near where I live and work, and the catastrophic collapse of a flourishing society, all these things brought on by a Government policy made out of fear and speculation rather than thought.

Much that is closing may never open again. The time lost to schoolchildren and university students – in debt for courses which have simply ceased to be taught – is irrecoverable, just as the jobs which are being wiped out will not reappear when the panic at last subsides.

We are told that we must emulate Italy or China, but there is no evidence that the flailing, despotic measures taken in these countries reduced the incidence of coronavirus. The most basic error in science is to assume that because B happens after A, that B was caused by A.

There may, just, be time to reconsider. I know that many of you long for some sort of coherent opposition to be voiced. The people who are paid to be the Opposition do not seem to wish to earn their rations, so it is up to the rest of us. I despair that so many in the commentariat and politics obediently accept what they are being told. I have lived long enough, and travelled far enough, to know that authority is often wrong and cannot always be trusted.

I also know that dissent at this time will bring me abuse and perhaps worse. But I am not saying this for fun, or to be ‘contrarian’ –that stupid word which suggests that you are picking an argument for fun. This is not fun.

This is our future, and if I did not lift my voice to speak up for it now, even if I do it quite alone, I should consider that I was not worthy to call myself English or British, or a journalist, and that my parents’ generation had wasted their time saving the freedom and prosperity which they handed on to me after a long and cruel struggle whose privations and griefs we can barely imagine.


The neo-fascism we never talk about

It isn’t only because of the non-stop media coverage of Covid-19 that yesterday’s conviction for one of the worst acts of extremist violence of modern times has not generated much discussion. It is also because that act of extremist violence was executed by an Islamist. And we just don’t like talking about the problem of Islamism. We certainly don’t try to galvanise people in opposition to it, as left-wingers do following far-right acts of violence. And nor do we dig down to try to uncover the ideologies and tensions that might have energised the violent outburst, as media outlets do whenever a white man shoots up a school. No, we move on. We say it was probably a rarity. We say, ‘Don’t look back in anger’.

This is the real reason why yesterday’s guilty verdict against Hashem Abedi for 22 murders has not trended or stirred up much debate or even made a huge dent in the news cycle. Not only because we’re all obsessing over the coronavirus, but also because talking about Islamist extremism is a no-no in these stringent PC times in which nothing must ever be allowed to expose the discontents of the ideology of multiculturalism. Twenty-two murders. You might expect that to warrant rather more discussion. Those 22 victims were, of course, the attendees of Ariana Grande’s concert at the Manchester Arena in 2017, where Hashem’s brother, Salman, detonated a suicide bomb that slaughtered children and parents and pop fans.

Yesterday, at the Old Bailey, Hashem was found guilty of assisting his brother in this violent act of extremist hatred and Islamist supremacy. Hashem assisted his brother through the entire process. They sourced chemicals together. They bought thousands of bolts and screws that were packed into the bomb in order that it would inflict as much harm as possible. Hashem’s fingerprints were found at key addresses where the plans were hatched and in a car where the bomb materials were stored. Prosecutors said Hashem stood ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with his brother in the preparation of the bloody act and was ‘just as guilty as murder’. That guilt has now been established. Hashem is now, following yesterday’s verdict, one of the most notorious mass murderers in the history of this country.

Where’s the debate? The outrage? The concern that an extremist ideology – ISIS-inspired Islamism – has fuelled numerous mass acts of violence over the past five years, leading to the deaths of scores of people in stabbings, vehicle attacks and bombings? Where are the hashtags, the anti-fascist statements, the gatherings of activists to say, ‘We have to weed this dangerous extremism out of our society’? That is the kind of thing we always see and hear following far-right violence. Such violence is always held up as proof of warped thinking in certain sections of society and as a sure sign that the neo-fascistic threat lurks in everyday life. But we never hear those kinds of things being said in relation to Islamist extremism.

In fact, we hear the opposite. Don’t get angry, we’re told. Don’t talk about it too much. Don’t look too far into the community tensions and supremacist ideology that motors this violence. Don’t even name it: witness the hostility heaped on those who refer to this kind of violence as Islamist or Islamic. They will be accused of Islamophobia. They will be told that they are stirring up racial hatred. They will be demonised as the true threat to the social fabric. The authorities’ instinct after every Islamist attack in recent years has been to stymie public discussion, negate social concern, and police strong emotions. That’s why Oasis’s ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ became the anthem of our national grieving after the slaughter in Manchester carried out by Salman and Hashem – not only because it’s a Mancunian pop classic, but also because it captures officialdom’s obsessive concern with neutering emotional and political responses to radical Islam.

Such are the double standards that social commentators are even made uncomfortable by any suggestion that there should be a firm response to Islamist terrorism. When it comes to far-right or neo-fascistic groups, we are told they must be fought; they must be defeated; there must be an unforgiving response to these dangerous, hateful groups. But with radical Islamists, it’s all about ‘de-radicalisation’. Which effectively means therapy. They are seen as not being fully in control of their own ideological convictions and dire crimes. The very use of the term ‘radicalised’ reduces them to passive creatures who have had something bad done to them, probably by a twisted preacher on the internet. Apparently they need our help. Fascists must be defeated, but violent Islamists must be cared for, put on the couch, pitied. They are treated as more sympathetic than other extremists – that is how far the ideology of identitarian pity for certain groups has gone.

This erasure of debate, this clampdown on strong emotions, is explicitly designed to guard contemporary British society from interrogation and discussion. Has the ideology of multiculturalism made us more divided? Why are there fairly significant numbers of people who feel completely un-integrated into British society? Why do people who were born here or who lived here for a very long time loathe this society with such violent passion? It is the desire to avoid these kinds of questions that motors the collective amnesia enforced in the wake of Islamist attacks. And so even though Hashem Abedi is a worse mass murderer than Peter Sutcliffe, and a more violent extremist than Soho gay-pub bomber Paul Copeland, his name is unlikely to be remembered for long. And even though the Manchester Arena bombing was one of the worst acts of violence in modern British times, it is rarely commemorated or talked about. ‘Don’t look back in anger’ is becoming ‘Don’t look back at all’.


Nudging: an elite disease

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the UK government has insisted over and over again that its decisions are guided by ‘the science’. And, at first glance, this sounds sensible. After all, experts in medical science have much to tell us about how the virus spreads, and how we might best manage it.

But that isn’t the only kind of science that UK prime minister Boris Johnson is relying on. His government is also drawing on the work of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), also known as the Nudge Unit. Established by then prime minister David Cameron a decade ago to aid government decision-making, BIT is now a private consultancy with government clients worldwide. It is part-owned by the UK Cabinet Office, its employees and the innovation charity Nesta.

According to reports, BIT has been using computer modelling to explore potential public reactions to possible government measures that could be used to deal with Covid-19. So, for instance, the government’s decision not to encourage greater social isolation is said to be informed by BIT’s view that people will suffer ‘fatigue’ with such measures if imposed too early in the crisis. More generally, BIT is reported to be shaping the presentation of government messaging, finding ways to ‘nudge’ people into changing their behaviour, rather than ordering them to do so.

This science is not a medical science. It is what BIT and others are pleased to call behavioural science, a relatively new and conspicuously trendy branch of the social sciences that uses glib psychology to model and find ways to change people’s behaviour. According to BIT, behavioural science can help you in your love life (‘do not under any circumstances trust yourself’), reduce sexual harassment, and cut ‘phishing’ viruses infecting your email. Clearly, it is powerful stuff.

The problem here is not just that the government is exploiting expert authority for political ends. It is also that the expertise being relied upon is entirely suspect. For nudge theory is a theory premised on the belief that the public no longer consists of rational decision-making beings, but of half-conscious, half-baked creatures who need to be subtly guided in what experts deem to be the right direction. In fact, this is not really a science at all — it is a patronising worldview, couched in psychobabble.

The use of nudge theory in relation to Covid-19 has been roundly criticised, and not just by those with a more enlightened view of the people’s capacity to make decisions for themselves. It has also been criticised by those who might ordinarily support behavioural science. The Guardian, for example, has been picking apart Johnson’s weakness for BIT-style nudging, contending that it has warped Britain’s approach to the Covid-19 crisis.

The criticism is justified. By using nudge theory to justify certain decisions, such as not yet enforcing social isolation because people could get bored, the government has invited a lot of questions and accusations of a lack of transparency. On what system of modelling and assumptions are these decisions based? Where is the evidence, for example, that people will tire of government bans on social interaction? From where and when was that evidence taken? Might not the context of Covid-19 be different to that of earlier examples where public ‘fatigue’ with state bans has kicked in?

BIT’s website doesn’t offer any further clue as to how such decisions have been reached. An article warns about medical disinformation – fake news – in the Democratic Republic of the Congo around Ebola, and about how ‘corrective’ information against fake news about the Zika virus in Brazil didn’t actually help. But that’s it. It publishes no more examples of its work on previous epidemics, and reveals none of the assumptions that drive its computer modelling of Covid-19. Ironically, the very same article about Ebola and Zika says that authorities dealing with epidemics should be transparent, and ‘show people the work that is being done behind the scenes’. Which is the very thing too much of the government’s response to Covid-19 has lacked.

In Britain and elsewhere, people appreciate clear, decisive leadership about what they should do about Covid-19. What they don’t appreciate is being ‘nudged’, using psychological tricks that implicitly deny their moral autonomy to make choices as they see fit. And they don’t like being viewed implicitly as passive objects who receive and transmit behaviours as though they themselves form an infectious virus. From on high, what BIT calls ‘messages’, targeted at different social groups or personalised through IT, smack to the public of know-all elitism.

However, before simply siding with today’s critics of the nudgers, let’s remember that too many have embraced the assumptions that justify nudge theory. When the book which popularised nudge theory – Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s seminal Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness – was published in 2008, the Observer praised it for ‘saving us from our inability to act rationally’. Likewise the Guardian has since proclaimed that integrating behavioural science with Big Data and green design offers ‘promising solutions to the challenge of getting people to behave more sustainably’. Indeed, whether it is to change our diets or levels of alcohol consumption, nudging the plebs still commands enormous assent among Britain’s elite. Thus, UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who is playing a pivotal role in the current crisis, is an enthusiastic supporter of BIT’s work across HMRC, the Department of Work and Pensions, Ofgem and Public Health England.

Those now obsessing over the role of nudging in the UK government’s response to the coronavirus crisis are hypocrites. They fault Boris and the Tories for nudging because they loathe Boris and the Tories, not nudging itself. If it was a set of pro-EU politicians they support doing the nudging, no doubt they would be all for it.

What these critics in fact share with No10, and its fondness for nudging, is an endless suspicion of, and contempt for, what they see as an easily manipulated public. The only thing they dislike is that it’s not their government doing the manipulation.


Only the 'Crooks' Can Save Us Now

The Left hate drug companies with a passion
A specter haunts progressive America — the possibility that a company might make too much money solving the world’s coronavirus problem.

At the last Democratic debate Bernie Sanders called the leaders of the pharmaceutical industry “a bunch of crooks,” who are telling themselves in the midst of the epidemic, “Wow, what an opportunity to make a fortune.”

Op-eds have sprung up warning, “Drug Companies Will Make a Killing From Coronavirus” (The New York Times) and “How Big Pharma Will Profit From the Coronavirus” (The Intercept).

This would seem the least of our problems right now, but the pharmaceutical industry is such a boogeyman that it gets roundly attacked even while racing to provide a boon to public health.

Bernie’s view that drug company executives are “crooks” betrays his Marxoid belief that profit is a form of theft. Of course, even people who aren’t socialists are scourges of the industry. Pharma brought much of this on itself with the opioid debacle. Yet these companies routinely create medical miracles.

Yes, they make money doing it, but the profit motive is the reason why they exist in the first place. There’s a reason we introduce more new therapies than any country in the world.

When faced with what’s been called a once-in-a-generation pathogen, would we rather have a robust commercial drug industry or not? Brilliant, creative people scattered throughout companies and universities working to be the first to a solution or not? Investors looking to back promising research or not?

If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” you are probably a socialist, a populist firing at the wrong targets or someone incapable of doing basic cost-benefit calculations.

As Chris Pope of the Manhattan Institute notes, if a new drug — even an expensive one — obviates hospital stays and physician care, it can reduce health care costs over time.

Consider the current crisis. The costs of the “medieval” methods we are using to try to control the coronavirus virus are unimaginably high — shutting down swaths of the economy and throwing millions of people out of work. Gross domestic product could drop 10% or more this quarter.

What would we pay for a vaccine to render all this needless? Even if it were a trillion dollars, the price of the Trump-proposed stimulus package, it would be a bargain.

That said, the price for a vaccine probably won’t be exorbitant. The nightmare stories of ungodly expensive treatments usually involve drugs for rare diseases affecting a small number of people. This is different. There’s a vast pool of people who will want the coronavirus vaccine.

The overall picture of prescription drugs is more complicated than advertised. Once new drugs come off patent, cheaper generic drugs arrive. This is why per capita spending on traditional drugs has been declining.

As for patents, the point of them is, as the Constitution puts it, “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” They ensure that companies get the benefit of research that is expensive and risky. Even in the best circumstance, after perhaps spending $2 billion on research, a company may wait a decade for Food and Drug Administration approval.

If a company doesn’t have a period of protection for its intellectual property when it can reap the market benefits, much of this research would dry up. And who’s going to step up and fill the gap?

It is a marvel that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is already working with a Cambridge, Mass. company, Moderna, on a vaccine trial. This is a model of public-private cooperation. Anyone who would want to subtract Moderna from the process because it stands to profit is an ideological zealot heedless of public health.

This crisis brings home the incalculable value of a world-class pharmaceutical sector. We can continue to shelter in place or hope that the “crooks” pursuing breakthrough drugs and treatments make the current disruptions in our national life completely unnecessary.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


22 March, 2020

Women are genetically superior.  Coronavirus is killing more men than women

That females are better survivors has long been evident.  You just have to see the aged wisps of female humanity tottering around the place.  Women have to be tougher to cope with the burdens of pregnancy.  Their systems have to provide for two lives

And it is interesting to read below some details of the genetic mechanisms involved. 

But attributing the fewer female deaths  from coronavirus infection to genetics is tendentious.  Coronavirus is primarily a lung disease and more men are smokers.  So the sex-difference appears to be behavioural, not genetic

Coronavirus is killing more men than women, according to early figures. In its first six weeks almost equal numbers of males and females were infected with the disease but only 1.7 per cent of the women went on to die compared with 2.8 per cent of the men. Scientists think they know why: women’s immune systems are stronger than men’s. They’re built that way.

Dr Sharon Moalem, a Canadian-born ­physician, rare disease specialist and author, has a theory that women are genetically tougher than men. In 2016 Moalem and his wife Anna were driving in Toronto. A car ran through a red light and smashed into them. “We rolled,” he recalls. “The cabin, the roof, totally caved in. We were very lucky to be alive. If we hadn’t ducked down, we would probably have been decapitated.”

They were hospitalised for more than a month with very similar injuries. But here’s the strange thing: Anna was released two weeks ­earlier than Sharon. “What was really noticeable was the ­healing time,” he says. “The superficial cuts, for example – her healing time was faster. I got more infections than she did, my infections didn’t clear as fast and I just didn’t get back on my feet to the same degree.”

His delayed recovery and the resilience of his wife did not surprise him. To him it was more proof that women are genetically superior to men. After the crash, he decided to write a book about it, The Better Half: On the Genetic ­Superiority of Women, released next month.

The evidence is strong. Women on average live longer than men. More men are born than women – 105 to every 100 – but, by the age of 40, the numbers are equal and, by 100, 80 per cent of the survivors are female. Women suffer fewer congenital birth abnormalities – tongue-tie, webbed toes and so on – than men. Men are about 20 per cent more likely to get cancer and 40 per cent more likely to die from it. Male children are twice as likely to ­suffer developmental disabilities such as ADHD, autism, learning problems and stammering. Women tend to have better colour vision than men and some are tetrachromatic, which means they may see up to 100 million colours, not the one million most men struggle by on.

Ah, you say, but men are physically stronger than women. Well, no, not in terms of survival. When Stalin’s policies in Soviet Ukraine starved millions, more women than men survived. Men are certainly more muscular and better than women at most sports requiring power. No female sprinter is going to beat Usain Bolt, and men still dominate at marathons. But men are not so good when it comes to extreme endurance contests such as ultra-marathons.

“The further the race, the more difficult the conditions, that’s when men start dropping off,” Moalem says. The point was dramatically made last year when Jasmin Paris, a 35-year-old vet and mother, won the 431km Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way up to Scotland. “She broke the course record by 12 hours. At the rest stations along the way, she was pumping breast milk for her baby while the men were flat out on the floor.”

Moalem also cites the Transcontinental Race, a bike ride across Europe of about 4000km. Last year that too was won by a woman, Fiona ­Kolbinger, a 24-year-old medical student from Germany. This is happening because, increasingly, women are taking part in events once thought too difficult for them. In fact, they’re ­easier for women than men. Why?

“We think it is twofold,” Moalem says. “One reason is that women have a lower resting metabolic rate, so they don’t exhaust themselves as ­easily. The other piece of this puzzle that I looked at was famine survival, for which women have an immense advantage. I think that’s where the ultra-endurance performance comes from.”

He does not mention the rigours of pregnancy, once compared to running a marathon daily. Surely this is the ultimate proof of his theory? Moalem is too much of a scientist to go there. ­“Suffice to say that a mammalian pregnancy requires a staggering biological response and ­adaptation. Yet until we manage to get an XY male pregnant, there’s really no way for us to make that comparison and know for certain. But I would say that far more impressive even than a genetic female’s capacity to support a pregnancy to term is their ability to make it across the supercentenarian ­finish line. There’s really nothing biologically harder for a human to pull off than making it to 110 years of age and beyond.”

Moalem is equally careful not to draw too many conclusions about coronavirus – yet. “Yes, so far it seems that more men are unfortunately succumbing to COVID-19, but we will only know for certain a few years after the pandemic if more males were affected,” Moalem says. [The figures cited in the first paragraph of this article are based on preliminary results from the Chinese Centre for Disease ­Control and Prevention based on data from 72,314 people diagnosed with COVID-19 as of February 11.] “Mers, another coronavirus that we do have more experience with and more epidemiological data, does in fact kill more males.”

Somehow, for millennia, science and society have managed to overlook all of this. We have ­preferred the strong-man myth. “As a physician and scientist, the schooling that I got was that men are stronger” – meaning not just more muscular but all-round more robust. “It took me 20 years to deconstruct that paradigm.”

Moalem knows there is going to be resistance to his theory. “I thought a lot about that while I was considering whether to write this book. It’s a dangerous idea and it’s going to upset a lot of ­people. It probably has already. Whenever you’re swapping paradigms, there’s a lot of resistance. But it’s such a fundamental rule of biology that ignoring it is to our detriment when it comes to the medical applications. That’s what gave me the impetus and the courage to say, you know, it’s time now for us to make a change.”

One way in which it has been to our detriment is in drug prescriptions. Bizarrely, Moalem says, ­scientists prefer to use male mice to test drugs. “To this day, preclinical research does not require you to use both female and male mice,” he says. Of course, there are studies that use female mice, but scientists often veer towards using males because they are less hormonal than females, which, they say, makes for clearer data. But there’s a drawback, says Moalem: as a result, doctors find that women report more side-effects from drugs than men. This is not because they are weaker, but because they are being overdosed on the basis of tests ­performed on male mice. Women’s bodies hold on to drugs, including alcohol, longer, so the effects and the side effects are intensified.

For Moalem, the central truth underlying his thesis is that women are better built. The reason fewer female babies are born than male is that the construction process is trickier, so slightly more female embryos and foetuses are rejected before birth. “Building a woman is an immensely complicated process,” he says. “It has to go perfectly.

If it doesn’t, then everything is lost.”

Moalem believes that the reason for all this lies deep within women’s cells. Humans normally have 23 pairs of chromosomes – gene-bearing coils of DNA – in each of our cells. But one of these pairs, the sex chromosomes, differs in men and women. In women, it consists of two so-called X chromosomes – one from her mother and one from her father; in men, it consists of an X from the mother and a Y from the father. The Y chromosome’s ­primary function is to produce testes and sperm, and is relatively poor in genetic information ­compared with the X chromosome.

For years it was believed that one of the two X chromosomes in women was effectively silenced. This fed straight into the “men are stronger” mythology. There were even novels and a TV series, The XYY Man, that suggested ­having two Ys made you stronger and inclined to criminality. This is nonsense. In reality, about a quarter of the genes on the “silenced” X chromosome are still active and accessible to female cells. So she has two possible sources of genetic information to fight ­disease, hunger or exhaustion. Men only have one. So having two Xs is, in Moalem’s view, the source of female superiority. “We now know why it’s so important, because so many of the genes that are used to make the brain are on the X chromosome. And so many of the genes that are involved in the immune function are on the X. It’s like having 23 volumes of instruction manuals for your house. But the one that is the most crucial for humans is the one about the brain and immunity. Without immunity, we’re not going to be around much.”


Allah Akhbar!

Where is Allah when you need him

Coronavirus is killing one person every 10 minutes in Iran, according to the nation's health ministry.

The Tehran government finally voiced the extent of the outbreak within its borders on Thursday after weeks of skewed numbers.

The number of its confirmed cases is currently more than 19,640 with the death toll climbing to 1,433, making Iran the Middle East's worst-affected country.

Kianush Jahanpur, a spokesman for the health ministry, tweeted: 'Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran.'

It is the first time that the Iranian authorities have admitted that the scale of the spread is much greater than they previously voiced.

Ali Rabiei, a representative for President Hassan Rouhani, said: 'The death toll may be higher and the test results for (the victims) could have been wrong. 'Some have died and we might not have known it was due to Coronavirus.

'There may be some shortcomings in the figures, and sometimes you may see a jump in our announcement,' according to Fox News. 

But political opposition groups have said that the statistics could in fact be even more severe – indicating that upwards of 7,000 individuals have died due to the contagion.

The government has so far ordered the closure of schools and universities as well as banning sports, cultural and religious gatherings in a bid to control the deadly pathogen.

It has also forced the closure of four holy Shi'ite shrines and dampened the Islamic Republic's celebrations ahead of the Nowruz New Year that begin on Friday. 

It comes after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the 'dazzling' sacrifices made by doctors and nurses fighting against the coronavirus outbreak in his Persian new year address.

The 80-year-old ruler also claimed the country had 'benefited' from American sanctions, which had made it more self-sufficient, during his live speech.

It had been rumoured that the Ayatollah had contracted coronavirus, although he appeared to be healthy as he gave the speech.

'These acts of sacrifice were made by medical groups, physicians, nurses, assistants, managers and the staff working in hospitals,' he said. 'All these phenomena are a source of dignity and reputation.'

He added: 'Iran benefited from America's sanctions. It made us self-sufficient in all areas.'

Nowruz, or 'new day' in Persian, is an ancient celebration and the most important date in the calendar, when families gather and exchange gifts. But the coronavirus has overshadowed the celebrations.

'Last year was a tumultuous year for the Iranian nation,' said Khamenei. 'It was a year that began with the floods and that ended with the coronavirus ... but we will overcome all hardships with unity.'

On March 9, Khamenei's office announced that his annual speech in the city of Mashhad for Persian new year had been cancelled to prevent further infections of coronavirus in the Middle East's worst-affected country.

But unlike his usual fiery speeches, the anti-U.S. hardliner Khamenei refrained from attacking Iran's longtime foe in his remarks.

'Iran benefited from America's sanctions. It made us self-sufficient in all areas,' said Khamenei.

Friction between Tehran and Washington has increased since 2018 when US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Tehran´s 2015 nuclear deal with six nations and re-imposed sanctions on the country, crippling its economy.

Iran on Thursday granted a medical furlough to imprisoned U.S. Navy veteran Michael White who has been in prison since his arrest in 2018. But his release is conditioned on him staying in Iran, U.S. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said.

White was later sentenced to at least 10 years in prison on charges of insulting Khamenei and posting anti-establishment remarks on social media under a pseudonym.


The world's happiest countries revealed: Finland keeps the top spot, Afghanistan is ranked the bleakest and the UK and U.S both climb the table

Good to see my hometown ranks highly.  Brisbane really is a pleasant, relaxed place.  I visited a whole list of countries in my youth and felt that Brisbane beat them all.  The Scandinavian countries rank highest but they are too cold and dark for me

Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the third year in a row by the World Happiness Report - and Afghanistan ranked the bleakest.

The annual United Nations World Happiness Report ranks over 150 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, according to their evaluations of their own lives.

Denmark takes the No.2 spot in 2020's study, followed by Switzerland in third place and Iceland in fourth. The UK climbs two places to 13th and the U.S is up one place to 18th.


1. Finland

2. Denmark

3. Switzerland

4. Iceland

5. Norway

6. The Netherlands

7. Sweden

8. New Zealand

9. Luxembourg

10. Austria

11. Canada

12. Australia

13. UK

14. Israel

15. Costa Rica

16. Ireland

17. Germany

18. US

19. Czech Republic

20. Belgium


1. Helsinki, Finland

2. Aarhus, Denmark

3. Wellington, New Zealand 

4. Zurich, Switzerland

5.  Copenhagen, Denmark

6. Bergen, Norway

7. Oslo, Norway

8. Tel Aviv, Israel

9. Stockholm, Sweden

* 10. Brisbane, Australia *

11. San Jose, Costa Rica

12. Reykjavik, Iceland

13. Toronto Metro, Canada

14. Melbourne, Australia

15. Perth, Australia

16. Auckland, New Zealand

17. Christchurch, New Zealand

18. Washington, USA

19. Dallas, USA

20. Sydney, Australia

In addition to the country rankings, the World Happiness Report 2020, for the first time, has ranked cities around the world according to subjective wellbeing.

The report shows that in general the happiness ranking of cities is almost identical to that of the countries in which they are located. And it comes as no surprise that the happiest city is Finland's capital, Helsinki.

Meanwhile, Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan (186th), is at the bottom of the table followed by Sanaa in Yemen (185th) and Gaza in Palestine (184th). Above those are Port-au-Prince, Haiti (183rd); Juba, South Sudan (182nd); Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (181st); Delhi, India (180th); Maseru, Lesotho (179th); Bangui, CAR (178th), and Cairo in Egypt (177th).

Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia, who co-edited the report, said: 'A happy social environment, whether urban or rural, is one where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions.

'There is also more resilience, because shared trust reduces the burden of hardships, and thereby lessens the inequality of wellbeing.'

While Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the wellbeing research centre at the University of Oxford, commented: 'Generally, we find that the average happiness of city residents is more often than not higher than the average happiness of the general country population, especially in countries at the lower end of economic development.

'But this urban happiness advantage evaporates and sometimes turns negative for cities in high-income countries, suggesting that the search for happiness may well be more fruitful when looking to live in more rural areas.'


Altruism, Generosity, and Selfishness in the Age of Bernie

Senator, and presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders’ enticing blend of progressivism (which claims reason and science as justification) and socialism (which is skeptical of both) gives cause to inquire into the foundations of his redistributive political mindset.

Sanders’ politics echo the social ideology of Herbert Croly, whose book, The Promise of American Life (1909), introduced a progressive liberalism that lost its intellectual respectability decades ago (for more on this loss, see The End of Liberalism: The Second Republic of the United States, 2nd edition [1979], by Theodore Lowi). Croly, in turn, was influenced by the “positive polity” of French philosopher Auguste Comte, who coined the term “altruism” to denote the personal sacrifices that his social ideology entailed. Comte claimed to disdain utopian social visions yet proposed (across numerous volumes) “the wildest of them all.” By his lights, “[o]ur harmony as moral beings is impossible on any other foundation but altruism. Nay more, altruism alone can enable us to live, in the highest and truest sense” (see Comte’s primer, The Catechism of Positivism, 1858 [1852], 310–311).

The ethicist and philosopher of economics John Mueller offers a distinction between altruism and everyday generosity: “benevolence [altruism], or good will, can be extended to everyone in the world, and beneficence [generosity], or doing good, cannot” (Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element, 2010, 36). Yet sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, and economics teach that sacrificial altruism among humans occurs naturally only within the family. Voluntary generosity, by comparison, usually entails no true sacrifice (see my 2018 paper, “Altruism: From Pagan Virtue to Political Biology,” Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 26: article 4, 1–19).

Croly echoed Comte’s call for altruistic social policies:

The Promise of American life is to be fulfilled—not merely by a maximum amount of economic freedom, but by a certain measure of discipline; not merely by the abundant satisfaction of individual desires, but by a large measure of individual subordination and self-denial. [...] To ask an individual citizen continually to sacrifice his recognized private interest to the welfare of his countrymen is to make an impossible demand, and yet just such a continual sacrifice is apparently required of an individual in a democratic state. The only entirely satisfactory solution of the difficulty is offered by the systematic authoritative transformation of the private interest of the individual into a disinterested devotion to a special object [e.g., a “truly” democratic state]. (The Promise of American Life, 1909: 22; 418, italics added.)

Croly, like Comte, embraced Enlightenment progressivism, by which Robespierre attempted “to lead the people by reason and the people’s enemies by terror”; the people’s reason ultimately led Robespierre onto the guillotine. The other Enlightenment choice available was classical liberalism, from which America’s early political fabric was woven. (For historical analysis of these developments, see two books by Jonathan Israel, Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750–1790 [2012] and The Enlightenment that Failed: Ideas, Revolution, and Democratic Defeat, 1748–1830 [2020].)

Altruism and progressivism necessarily entail coercion. The historian Vegas Liulevicius shows that “[a] clear connection exists between 20th-century plans for utopias and use of terror to bring them about. [... Terror was necessary] because plans for perfection encountered either passive or active resistance” (Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century, 2003, Part 1). The “harmony” that Comte imagined would flow from altruism was illusory.

The prominent academic psychologist and avowed Enlightenment humanist Steven Pinker characterizes modern altruism as “today’s Fascism Lite, which shades into authoritarian populism and Romantic nationalism, [and] is sometimes justified by a crude version of evolutionary psychology in which [...] humans have been selected to sacrifice their interest for the supremacy of their group” (Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, 2018: 448).

The prominent evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins sides with Pinker on the facts, but differs with him on the spirit: “Human superniceness is a perversion of Darwinism, because, in a wild population, it would be removed by natural selection. [...] Let’s put it even more bluntly. From a rational choice point of view, or from a Darwinian point of view, human superniceness is just plain dumb. But it is the kind of dumb that should be encouraged” (Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist, 2017: 276–277, italics added). “Dumb” behavior and “impossible demands” are unlikely means for perfecting individuals and societies.

The Roman Stoic philosopher Lucius Annæus Seneca wrote of generosity that “people must be taught to give benefits freely, receive them freely, and return them freely and to set themselves a grand challenge: not just to match in actions and attitude those to whom we are obligated, but even to outdo them, for the person who should return a favor never catches up unless he gets ahead” (On Benefits, n.d.). Seneca argued that an upward eudæmonic spiral results whenever benefits are given and reciprocated voluntarily.

Generosity and reciprocity nevertheless arise most often as instrumental means to purposeful ends. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes aptly argued that “No man giveth but with intention of good to himself, because gift is voluntary; and of all voluntary acts, the object is to every man his own good; of which, if men see they shall be frustrated, there will be no beginning of benevolence or trust, nor consequently of mutual help” (Leviathan, 1651).

Ayn Rand similarly saw, in “the grace of reality and the nature of life,” a “rational selfishness—which means: the values required for man’s survival qua man—which means the values required for human survival—not the values produced by the desires and feelings, the whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifices, have never discovered the industrial society and can conceive of no self-interest but that of grabbing the loot of the moment” (The Virtue of Selfishness, 1964: 31).

Sanders, like Comte and Croly, proposes to perfectioneer society through the kind of altruistic policies that, since the late eighteenth century, have wrought havoc on mankind.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


20 March, 2020  

Why Art Matters

The controversy addressed so eloquently below is an old one. Two of the great protagonsts of art in the past were Oscar Wilde and John Ruskin -- both of whom I read with great pleasure in my early years.

I am somewhat conflicted about the issue myself.  On the one hand, there are some art-forms I enjoy greatly --  poetry, classical music and architecture -- but on the other I don't see that any art rises above the level of entertainment.
Bach and Chaucer entertain me but I don't see that my  pleasures from those sources give those sources any especial virtue.

Some people get great enjoyment out of football games.  Is there anyting in that enjoyment that is inferior to my enjoyment of one of the great Bach chorales?  I can't see it.

The argument below that preservation and promotion of art should be particularly conservative is a cogent one but real life seems to fly in the face of it.  "Arty" people are mostly firmly Leftist, aggressively so in many instances.  Conservatives tend in fact to be unwelcome in such circles.  The great conservative protagonist of art in modern times was Roger Scruton and the treatment he got was merciless.

One could argue that most arty people are poseurs dedicated only to self-promotion and I see much truth in that. But how are we to distinguish genuine art lovers from those who are mere social butterflies?  It would take a considerable flight of ego to do so, I think.

I tend to suspect that the really dedicated lovers of art for art's sake are rather rare.  I am much moved to that conclusion by the well-known phenomenon of what happens whan a famous and highly valued painting is found to be a forgery --a persuasive example of the work of a great master but not produced by him.  The value of the painting immediately drops to about 1% of what it was. Yet the painting itself is unalterted.  It is just the same as it was when it was worth millions.

Clearly the value in the painting did not derive from the painting itself.  The value was solely its snob value. Its value lay in the prestige of possessing something produced by an acclaimed person.

So I am all in favour of any kind of art from which people gain enjoyment.  But if somebody gets great enjoyment out of Old Master paintings while somebody else gets great enjoyment out of Phantom comics or Japanese Manga, it seems to me that neither has any claim to virtue for their own preferences.  If there is any such claim to virtue I would think it goes to the fan of Phantom comics. The Phantom is at least highly moral.

What do conservatives want to conserve? Clearly, conservatives everywhere desire the preservation and maintenance of the good things belonging to their various cultures that have been passed down from previous generations to their present time. That desire also implies conservatives wish to continue their cultural inheritance by passing these benefits on to their children and future generations. That is why teaching culture at universities and schools is important to conservatives.

People who claim to be conservatives, but do not participate in the perpetuation of these good things are deluding themselves. Partisan and pedantic, they corrode the conservative image to the point of appearing philistine. That false presentation of conservatism harms its reputation.

The danger of having a benevolent preoccupation with preserving traditions for their own sake is that it may lead to a pretentious aping of their formal, ceremonial aspects. Preservation then lacks an appreciation for what lies at the heart of the thing being preserved. This kind of imitation is not the conservative’s goal. In fact, the true preservation of the good things of the past is always a reinvention, not a duplication.

The task of the conservative is to use the good things of the past in the new context of the present, to apply them to this new time. When they are truly good, these things are resilient to the abrasive superficialities of fashion and provide the strong core of culture.

Efforts to duplicate the past inevitably fail because the past very quickly becomes an alien place, held at first in the memories of the living, and then only in the recorded history of the dead. That disappearance presents a difficult problem for people keen to conserve the good things of the past. Since we are incapable even of coming to a common understanding of the present and are willing to engage in intense disputes about the interpretation of current affairs, how can we claim to comprehend the past? All histories are nuanced by the positions of their writers.

The answer is that this subjectivity does not mean that the good things of culture are actually bad. It simply means that it is difficult to get culture right. Nor does it mean that conservatives should abandon their desire to maintain them in the studios and classrooms where they are taught.

Culture is never frozen; it is an emergent form that arises from the shared experiences and desires of the living and the dead. The flexible and uncertain past is nevertheless the foundation upon which culture is built. The past cannot be duplicated, but if a culture is to maintain its identity, a healthy respect for its traditions is essential.

Every culture is like a rope stretched through time, made up of long strands, our long ideas, twisted together to give it strength. As we pass through time, different strands take their turn at the top of the rope and achieve more cultural relevance. It is precisely the changing importance of these long truths as time passes that create culture, with its attendant changes in emphasis and importance.

Consequently, it is disturbing to witness the reckless abandonment of the arts apparent in contemporary conservative America.

Cultural outlets that viewers might expect to be reliably conservative do little to suggest that they are the champions of the good things of the past—or that they have any idea of how these good things might address the present or the future. An online survey of news stories about the arts on the Fox News website, for example, reveals a desperate shortfall in coverage, which should cause embarrassment to all Americans claiming to champion the conservative cause. Thankfully, some evidence shows that the situation is improving. After a decade of neglect, National Review has done the right thing and now publishes regular stories about some of the excellent American art of the past. However, it has yet to begin considering living artists who carry the Western artistic tradition.

Fox News celebrates painters like Steve Penley who makes pictures of our presidents burning the Constitution or running for a touchdown, or Jon McNaughton, who adopts the bright colors of Andy Warhol to make portraits of Republican star politicians. They are sectarian propagandists. Endorsing artists who are political partisans is not the same thing as maintaining the good things of American culture.

As didacts, they serve a purpose in stimulating political argument and stirring the passions of voters. But the long ideas of Western culture are richer and more complex than mere campaign marketing.

The sensible and compassionate thinker Roger Scruton, whose recent death has left a dark hole in intellectual conservative culture, said there were two kinds of conservatism. One is a metaphysical respect for the sacred ideas and things we treasure and the will to defend them, and another is the pragmatic conservatism which recognizes that the good things of Western civilization are worth protecting. Scruton said that these things are: individual freedom, the protection of common law, the protection of our environment from exploitation, intellectual freedom, and liberal democracy. In his book A Brief Introduction to Beauty, Scruton shared his ideas about art as a bridge between the metaphysical and the material aspects of culture, as the practical expression of the ideas that bind together the people of the past, present, and future.

Conservatives bear an increased responsibility for the maintenance of the long ideas of culture in both the personal realm and in the realm of education.

To American conservatives, government is only necessary because humans are incapable of living a virtuous life which does not harm others in their individual pursuit of happiness. A limited government punishes those people who fail to understand their role in the society of individuals and organizes the state to defend its citizens. Protecting their culture is a priority of great nations. At the extreme, lives are willingly sacrificed in the defense of ideas—declarations of war are the moments in which a culture insists on the value of its long ideas even at the price of the deaths of its members.

To American conservatives, government should have no involvement in other aspects of life, including the arts. That distaste for governmental interference, does not, however, mean that American conservatives are somehow detached from the arts. In fact, it means that they bear an increased responsibility for the maintenance of the long ideas of culture in both the personal realm and in the realm of education.

John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington were all culturally engaged. Washington was an active collector of the cutting-edge landscape paintings of his day and was an enthusiastic fan of history paintings, campaigning for the purchase of canvases depicting the revolution by American master painter John Trumbull.

Washington emphasized the painter’s popularity, the greatness of the design of his compositions, the “masterly execution of the work,” and how the paintings would “equally interest the man of a capacious mind and the approving eye of the connoisseur.” Washington particularly approved of the efforts Trumbull had made to get excellent likenesses of the key players of the revolution in France and the United States and believed that this attention to detail would “form no small part of the value of his pieces.”

Adams insisted that painters should seek something more substantial than merely copying reality. He said, “the pleasure which arises from imitation we have in looking at a picture of a landscape, a port, a street, a temple, or a portrait” was great, but “there must be action, passion, sentiment, and moral, to engage my attention very much.” He had little time for still life or landscapes as visual records alone, demanding more substance to the work. “A million pictures of flowers, game, cities, landscapes, with whatever industry and skill executed, would be seen with much indifference. The sky, the earth, hills, and valleys, rivers and oceans, forests and groves and cities, may be seen at any time,” he said.

James Wilson and Thomas Paine shared Adams’ cultural interests. Wilson thought,

The chief pleasures of history, and poetry, and eloquence, and musick, and sculpture, and painting are derived from the same source. Beside the pleasures they afford by imitation, they receive a stronger charm from something moral insinuated into the performances.

Those are the words of American conservatives, interested and engaged in the living arts: arts that are based on the cultural traditions of the past, but which respond to the present.

Traditional but evolving skill-based technique; connoisseurship; attention to detail; narrative; sentiment; a moral message. Those characteristics are found in the paintings and sculptures of the flourishing 21st-century representational art movement.

What is the place of art and culture in higher education, then? Should American professors be involved in partisan politics? No. Leave that choice to the students as their democratic obligation.

In our universities and schools, we should provide our citizens with the technical training they need to continue this great American cultural tradition, but also with the imaginative training they need so that they can find ways for these good things, these long ideas, to address the present.


Comment from a reader:

When i moved to Shreveport La in 1996, I rented from an artist who had a flat in his house. At the time, the city was sponsoring “homes for starving artists”.

George and his wife were both artists, and lived a spartan lifestyle. He was really good, commanding thousands for portraits. George scoffed at local artists who depended on the small Shreveport market; they filled up their van and drove to the coasts to sell their art.

George didn’t believe in the “art subsidy”, because for every one like himself, there were hundreds of artists who were willing to do it “on their own” - with day jobs, etc.

So george (as I do) believed that there was absolutely no “need” for subsidies, because anyone with a quality product could at least make a living selling it.

Sorry, people - if your art is really good, someone will buy it; if it is no good, the city will  buy it out of taxpayers’ money.

Civility descends on the House of Commons

Never can there have been a PMQs quite like today’s. A week earlier, it had all been so different: even the diagnosis of a Government minister with coronavirus wasn’t enough to deter more than 600 MPs from squeezing into the Commons to hear the Chancellor’s Budget statement. Today, though, MPs finally started to accept that the Government’s advice to the public should apply to them too.

Normally for PMQs the chamber is packed. This time it was almost empty. The only MPs permitted entry were those with a question to ask. Between them, great stretches of green leather spread lonely and wide. “I want to thank MPs for the very responsible approach they’ve taken,” began Jeremy Corbyn, “by sitting a suitable distance apart.”

A fine sentiment – although it might be observed that, despite the extensive space available on the Labour front bench, Mr Corbyn himself was sitting side by side with his colleague Dawn Butler. It might also be observed that, as Mr Corbyn is 70 years of age, he ideally shouldn’t have been there at all.

At any rate, PMQs certainly looked different – and it sounded different, too. There was none of the usual heckling or barracking. As the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition spoke, everyone else sat silent, but for the odd solemn murmur of “hear, hear”. Quite right, in the circumstances, although the absence of the familiar jeering din did make the occasional cough sound ominously loud.

There were no putdowns, and no point-scoring. Everyone was almost eerily well-behaved. All questions were constructive rather than partisan, and Boris Johnson greeted them in the same spirit: praising the questioner, welcoming suggestions – and, for surely the first time on public record, being polite to Ian Blackford.

The SNP man urged the Prime Minister to introduce a universal basic income. In any previous week, Mr Johnson would have screwed up his nose and shooed Mr Blackford away like a wasp at a picnic. Yet this time he earnestly thanked him, said he was “quite right” about the need to support workers, and added that a universal basic income was “one of many” different ideas he’d received.

Perhaps this way simply a diplomatic way of saying no – like a job rejection letter that begins, “Thank you for your application. Unfortunately on this occasion you have not been successful, but we will keep your CV on record.” Still, he didn’t strictly rule the proposal out. And when Kevin Brennan (Lab, Cardiff W) repeated Mr Blackford’s plea, Mr Johnson said it was “one of the ideas that will certainly be considered”. Which was remarkable enough in itself. 

Not as remarkable, though, as the declaration moments later that now was “not the time to be squeamish about public sector debt”. Those, for the record, were the words of a Tory MP: Felicity Buchan, the member for Kensington, no less. Yes, times really are changing – and fast.

Just think. A mere two months ago, when the virus was claiming a second life in China, and starting to snake its way into Thailand and Japan, the most contentious issue in Westminster was “bunging a bob for a Big Ben bong”.

The war over Brexit was bitter and vicious. And yet so innocent. And already so long ago.


We Got Housing Built after the 1906 Quake. We Can Do It Again. Here’s How

Despite much hand-wringing by California politicians over the housing crisis, residential building permits statewide were lower in 2019 than in 2018, according to the most recent figures from the California Department of Finance. To reverse this beyond-discouraging trend, California should look to 1906 San Francisco.

The Great Earthquake and resulting fires destroyed about 28,000 buildings. More than half the city’s 400,000 residents were homeless. But San Francisco quickly rebounded because residents overwhelmingly supported a right to build—the morally correct position—and opposed microplanning by government officials.

Residents rejected an ambitious redesign of San Francisco by famed urban planner Daniel Burnham, which included the world’s largest urban park, sweeping avenues, grand boulevards and radiating thoroughfares in the style of Paris. Instead of this slow, costly plan, according to which the city would have bought large swaths of privately owned land, people rallied around fast and affordable construction rooted in private property rights and the freedom to build what people wanted. It worked.

The earthquake struck on a Wednesday, and by Sunday 300 plumbers were repairing sewers and water pipes. Streetcars were operating on Market Street within weeks. But most impressive, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, by 1909, “The city was practically brand new—it had 20,000 buildings erected in three years.” At the current snail’s pace, it would take about eight years to build 20,000 housing units in San Francisco.

California needs to enshrine in its state constitution the spirit of 1906 San Francisco by establishing an individual right to build residential housing. It would be the quickest way to escape the statewide regulatory quagmire that impedes housing development, inflates home and rental prices, and eliminates the bottom rungs of the housing ladder.

Today, abusive environmental lawsuits block housing construction in already developed areas, so-called “infill” areas. Zoning rules discriminate against multifamily structures. Outrageously high and inconsistent “local impact fees” and rigid building codes eradicate low-cost housing for low-income people, worsening homelessness. Notoriously slow permitting causes housing entrepreneurs to flee California and build elsewhere.

Housing development in California involves a bewildering array of stakeholders and layers of government, each effectively with veto power, that has destroyed any notion of private property rights. Landowners who want to develop new housing options are prevented from using their property to quickly and efficiently provide housing in the face of increasing consumer demand. Politicians shamelessly pander to established homeowners and other self-interested groups by restricting the freedom to supply housing for people in need.

The McKinsey Global Institute concluded that California must build housing at least five-times faster than the current rate of 80,000 units each year to eliminate the housing deficit by 2025. This is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal. But this objective, more pressing in the wake of the horrific wildfires, is unattainable given the dominant NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) culture reflected in the Gordian knot of regulatory impediments.

The goal is attainable, however, through a constitutional amendment to establish an individual right to build housing, which would still preserve the ability of local neighbors to negotiate directly with a builder for project modifications or limitations. Although well intentioned, incremental legislative tweaks, such as the endlessly re-worked SB 50, died in the state Senate and could’ve never achieved the desired housing goals. Californians need a bolder alternative rooted in a right to build.

California voters have clarified water rights through the amendment process. It is past time to do the same for property rights related to housing development. A bold constitutional amendment, in the spirit of 1906 San Francisco, would reestablish private property rights in housing development and true local decision-making.

It is immoral to maintain bureaucratic barriers to housing development. Providing a home is never a bad thing, and a constitutional amendment is the way to go.

Entrepreneurs would provide affordable housing quickly if they were allowed to enter California markets and build in the locations and at the price points that consumers want. It worked in 1906 San Francisco, and it can work again across California.


Bernie Sanders Should Take a Closer Look at Cuba’s Lack of Accomplishments

Perhaps nothing has been more responsible for the cratering presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist,” than his clumsy attempt last month to defend Cuba’s socialist regime.

Mr. Sanders maintained that he admires the regime’s accomplishments but opposes its authoritarian nature. Yet, the very things he admires are direct outcomes of this authoritarianism.

Defending his remarks, Mr. Sanders told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know, when Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing?”

Most indicators of well-being tend to improve as a country’s economy grows. As incomes rise, so do literacy, life expectancy and a host of other measures. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to understand why: As people become wealthier they’re able to afford more of everything, including health care and education.

Cuba is one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, but it has some of the highest literacy rates and longest life expectancies. Democratic socialists such as Mr. Sanders like to praise these outcomes as accomplishments of the socialist economic system, while distancing themselves from the authoritarian nature of the Cuban government. Yet, the two are inseparable.

Cuba was a relatively wealthy Latin American country prior to the 1959 revolution. The socialist economic system that Castro imposed after the revolution stagnated the economy; as a result, Cuba’s per capita income has fallen farther and farther behind most other Latin American countries ever since. (For a notable exception, see socialist Venezuela.) At the same time, however, literacy and life expectancies have improved relative to the rest of Latin America.

The reason Cuba’s statistics are an anomaly is precisely because it has a socialist economic system. Socialism requires authoritarianism: Abolishing private property and replacing it with state ownership and control. It substitutes government economic planning for competitive markets and individual decision-making. Once state planners have control of the major resources in a country, they can direct those resources to any ends government officials choose with little regard for the desires of the citizens.

The former Soviet Union, for example, had an impressive space program and a world-threatening military. At the same time, the average Soviet citizen faced shortages of consumer goods, from food to toilet tissue —mostly all of poor quality—because socialist planners prioritized “guns” over “butter,” a classic economic trade off.

Similarly, Cuban socialist planners have chosen to funnel resources to education and health care—while buildings crumble, food choices are limited, and there are so few cars (many of them 1950s U.S. classics) that horseback travel is common.

When people are free to choose for themselves they don’t spend all of their money on just one or two things. That’s why economic growth and prosperity typically leads to progress in many aspects of life.

When Mr. Sanders promises “free” education and health care in the United States, he ignores the fact that the costs must be borne by someone. Similarly, when he applauds Cuban health care and literacy he ignores the fact that to pay for this the Cuban people have been denied other goods and services.

Socialist economic systems necessarily concentrate power in the hands of government authorities, who not only dictate what one can buy, and at what price, but can punish dissent through their economic edicts. Cuba has literacy, but no accompanying freedom of speech, freedom of the press, Baskin & Robbins, Walmart or Ford dealerships.

It’s no accident that every socialist country has been ruled by an authoritarian regime. Political freedom cannot survive without a large degree of economic freedom.

Bernie Sanders naively was trying to claim the so-called successes of the Cuban regime as achievements while distancing himself from the authoritarian aspect of it. Unfortunately for him, socialism is inseparable from authoritarianism. Democratic voters apparently understand that.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


19 March, 2020

4 stages of the UK plan for coronavirus

With apologies to "Yes Minister":


This New York law is government bullying at its worst—and it has no place in America

In America, the government exists to protect freedom, not take it away. That’s why it’s so shocking when you hear about some of the laws being passed by government activists in our country today.

New York’s so-called Boss Bill is a perfect example. The Boss Bill can compel employers to knowingly hire employees who endorse and promote abortion, even when a business works to offer alternatives to abortion that protect and honor life.

Can you imagine the issues this could cause for a pro-life pregnancy center, John? What about a Christian school? Or a church?

New York has some of the most radical abortion laws in the country. Abortionists in the state commit more than 12% of all abortions in the U.S each year.

Abortion activists lit up the One World Trade Center in pink to celebrate passing a law that made abortion legal up until the moment of birth for almost any reason.

And now, New York is taking its abortion activism even further.

The government is compelling people with moral or religious beliefs about the sanctity of life to adhere to its pro-abortion orthodoxy in their hiring decisions.

This is a direct attack on religious freedom.

CompassCare Pregnancy Services has been serving vulnerable women in western New York for more than 35 years. Its Buffalo location is less than three miles from one of New York’s 57 Planned Parenthood facilities.

The doctors and nurses who serve at CompassCare know that women facing unplanned pregnancies are often scared and unsure of what to do. CompassCare exists to transform that fear into confidence by offering important medical services, honest information, and compassionate care. They want women to feel empowered to make the best decision for them and their unborn babies—not pressured.

And you know what they’ve found? When women are given the resources and information they need, they are more likely to choose life for their unborn babies.

Praise God!

CompassCare is doing incredible work, but the government is now forcing this life-saving place to undermine the very reason it exists. The Boss Bill could force pro-life medical facilities like CompassCare to hire an abortion doctor or a pro-abortion nurse as part of its staff.

And here’s where the state’s real intentions shine through…

New York could have provided an exemption for religious organizations—churches, schools, pro-life pregnancy centers like CompassCare that are operating according to their religious beliefs—but elected officials intentionally chose not to.

The only reason the Boss Bill exists is because pro-abortion officials—and Planned Parenthood, which has invested tens of thousands of dollars to get them elected—want pro-abortion ideology rammed down the throat of people of faith and pro-life advocates. Dissent will not be tolerated.

It is not illegal to be pro-life—but sometimes government officials sure act like it is.

In New York and other states, we are seeing direct attacks on the freedoms of your pro-life brothers and sisters. But all Americans should be free to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of unjust government punishment.


The New York Times Begins Correcting the Historical Record on ‘1619 Project’

“I have been thinking about this and reading obsessively for 25 years about all the inequalities in American life that can be traced back to slavery,” Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times told an audience at Harvard in December.

Now the Times admits: Her obsession bested her reason.

On March 11, the Times issued a correction to its 1619 Project, a sprawling journalistic exercise that has proved more editorial than historical.

And this wasn’t just any correction. The 1619 Project was based on the idea that slavery was “one primary reason the colonists fought the American Revolution,” but the Times is now hedging on that assertion.

In the paper’s correction, editors changed the wording of Hannah-Jones’ leading article in the series to say that “some of” the colonists fought the American Revolution to defend slavery.

The editors called this a “small” clarification, and it was indeed very small, although considering that the 1619 Project’s full-throated commitment to demonstrating that American history can only be explained through the lens of slavery, this correction appears nothing short of essential.

But the correction did not go far enough.

Writing in National Review, Timothy Sandefur explained, “The New York Times’ ‘1619 Project’ purports to ‘reframe’ American history by positing not only that the United States was founded ‘as a slavocracy,’ but that ‘nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional’ is the result of ‘slavery—and the anti-black racism it required.’”

The 1619 Project wanted no confusion: American history began with slavery.

Yet historians from both sides of the ideological divide and even one of the Times’ own fact-checkers cited problems with the Project. On March 6, Leslie M. Harris, a history professor at Northwestern University, wrote in Politico that she had “vigorously argued against” Hannah-Jones’ contention that “patriots fought the American Revolution in large part to preserve slavery in North America.”

“Despite my advice, the Times published the incorrect statement about the American Revolution anyway,” Harris wrote, even as she maintained her support for the project as a whole.

Sandefur and Harris aren’t alone in their critiques. The Wall Street Journal cited criticism from Pulitzer-winning historians Gordon Wood and James McPherson, with Wood saying, “It still strikes me as amazing why the New York Times would put its authority behind a project that has such weak scholarly support.”

Unfortunately, the Times’ correction may be too little, too late for thousands of students.

The 1619 Project’s creators accompanied their essays with sets of curricular materials designed for K-12 schools, and now some of the nation’s largest school districts are using these essays and instructional products.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice K. Jackson said the 1619 Project materials are “invaluable tools for our classrooms” in her announcement that the district would be using the materials.

Schools in Buffalo, New York, have “[infused] 1619 Project resources into the mainstream English and Social Studies curriculum.” According to Real Clear Investigations, five schools systems, including Washington, D.C.’s, are using the materials across their districts.

Scholars warned that schools should not use this material for historical instruction. Phil Magness of the American Institute for Economic Research told the libertarian Reason magazine that using the 1619 Project curricula in school “is at best premature” until corrections are made to some of the Project’s central ideas on the “economics of slavery.”

Concerned parents and educators should alert school district leaders about the correction and emphasize that many scholars have already said the curriculum is not appropriate for students.

Now that schools around the country are either closing, or considering doing so, due to the coronavirus, parents have an opportunity to talk with their children about the 1619 Project’s claims and to find alternatives.

Those looking for other materials have options, including the 1776 initiative, which was founded by leading black professors, journalists, and intellectuals, including Robert Woodson Sr., founder and president of the Woodson Center, and Columbia professor John H. McWhorter.

This rebuttal to the Times’ essays says that America is not “forever defined by its past failures” and offers “alternative perspectives” celebrating the “progress American has made on delivering its promise of equality and opportunity.”

The Times ushered the 1619 Project into classrooms, ignoring warnings that the material contained inaccuracies. In a strange twist of fate, a brief respite from classrooms due to the coronavirus allows families to intervene.

Let’s hope this and any future corrections receive as much attention as the original Project itself.


We built this city

Bettina Arndt reports from Australia:

With all the dreadful news, I thought it might be nice to focus on something positive.

A man wrote to me the other day and reminded me of this wonderful 1932 poster, Lunch atop a Skyscraper.

My correspondent wanted to know if anything was planned to promote International Men’s Day, this year to be held on November 19, 2020. He suggested pairing this extraordinary poster with the slogan “We Built This City” – as a means of celebrating the men who “work in dangerous jobs to feed their families and build our civilisation.” 

I thought that was a great idea and was really happy when a little team of my supporters contacted me, volunteering to help bring people on board to make this happen. They are calling themselves the MensDay team. 

The idea is to make the day really positive. They suggest it should be a day to recognise the men around you at home and at work.  A day to celebrate the diversity of backgrounds, personalities, talents and experience they bring to tasks large and small, and to acknowledge men more widely as builders, providers, mentors and protectors.

Sound good? Well, to start with they want people everywhere to get to work, looking around them to see what local organisations, councils, workplaces were involved in International Women’s Day. And then start making careful, polite enquiries about whether these organisations would consider doing something to support IMD on November 19. They suggest you try to get a couple of people you know to work with you to start making these approaches, preferably including some women. Often having women make the case for doing something for men means organisations are more likely to take notice.

If you are willing to start working on this, contact the MensDay team so they can help coordinate activities. Eventually they will produce posters and flyers that could be used to advertise the event and also will circulate advice regarding possible activities. Write to MensDayPlan@gmail.com.

They would love more people to join the coordinating team so if you have time and skills to contribute please get in touch with them.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


18 March, 2020

In defence of Trevor Phillips

Labour’s expulsion of Phillips reveals a cult-like party on the verge of total irrelevance.

It is safe to say that the Labour Party hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory of late – but, quite incredibly, it has managed to hit a new low.

In a seeming attempt to undermine the reputation of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which is currently investigating Labour over allegations of institutional anti-Semitism, the party has decided to suspend former EHRC chairman Trevor Phillips on the grounds of ‘Islamophobia’. The suspension reveals an ideologically purist Labour Party that is now under the control of identitarian leftists.

Phillips, who was appointed as head of the Commission for Racial Equality in 2003 before becoming chair of the EHRC in 2006, is certainly robust when it comes to his analysis of identity politics and multiculturalism. As early as 2005, he warned that Britain’s approach to multiculturalism and cultural diversity could cause us to ‘sleepwalk towards segregation’. He elaborated on these views in a 2016 paper published by Civitas, titled Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence.

In it, he argues that a ‘squeamishness about addressing diversity and its discontents risks allowing our country to sleepwalk to a catastrophe that will set community against community, endorse sexist aggression, suppress freedom of expression, reverse hard-won civil liberties, and undermine the liberal democracy that has served this country so well for so long’.

Phillips is also a passionate advocate of free speech – placing him at odds with the thoughtpolicing tendencies of the contemporary British left. He has warned that certain regressive elements are out to silence legitimate concerns about orthodox Islamic doctrines and their social implications. This has proven to be well-placed. Recently, an unholy alliance of witless liberal politicians, crank academics and Islamist organisations attempted to force through a definition of ‘Islamophobia’ which essentially represented a blasphemy law through the back door.

Phillips has expressed reservations over the ethnic and religious segregation perpetuated by the multiculturalist championing of ‘difference’. He has not shied away from highlighting the embedding of patriarchal structures, misogynistic attitudes and other problematic socio-cultural values within certain communities. This does not make him an anti-Muslim bigot. These are entirely reasonable points that strike a chord with much of the British population.

What’s more, Labour’s suspension of Phillips is reflective of the left’s ever-growing hostility towards non-white individuals who reject their identitarian ideology and grievance-driven narratives. Phillips is a successful black man who does not hesitate to identify the deeply regressive elements of the left’s multicultural ideology. His mere existence is a major inconvenience to the left. For the Labour Party, Phillips is nothing but an uppity coconut who needs to be punished for not fitting neatly into its political agenda.

The suspension of Phillips is just another demonstration of the Labour Party’s increasingly regressive and authoritarian turn. This is a party led by a man who has a history of fraternising with Islamist organisations. And a party that has witnessed the departure of British Jewish politicians due to institutionalised anti-Semitism – including Dame Louise Ellman, who had been in the party for 55 years before she quit last year.

Yet it is Trevor Phillips who is considered to be so unpalatable that he is undeserving of a place in the Labour Party. A once great party has descended into a complete farce. Labour is on the brink of total irrelevance.


Canada’s war on women

A women-only rape-relief centre in Vancouver has had its funding pulled for ‘excluding’ trans people.

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter (VRRWS) cares for, on average, 1,200 women each year. It offers immediate response and services, including transition housing and a 24-hour crisis line, for women fleeing male violence. Established in 1973, it is the oldest women’s rape-crisis centre in Canada.

But a year ago Vancouver city council plunged the centre’s future into doubt. It approved VRRWS’s annual grant for 2019/20, but also stated that it would cease funding the following year. And so, last month, it came to pass. The city council voted finally to end the centre’s funding. And it did so on the grounds that, by exclusively serving women, the centre was discriminating against men who identify as women.

Driving this defunding campaign was local trans activist Morgane Oger. Oger, a politically active trans woman, spent the better half of the year taunting and shaming the shelter for being ‘transphobic’, simply because it did not serve trans women or gender-variant people – in other words, men.

When the city council pulled the plug on the VRRWS, Oger took to Twitter to gloat, likening the centre to a white-supremacist organisation. Oger also wrote a scathing blog post implying a connection between the rape-crisis centre and various right-wing fringe groups, from the Soldiers of Odin (a far-right, anti-immigrant group) to the Peoples Party of Canada (a populist, far-right political party). This type of behaviour ought to be of no surprise to anyone familiar with trans activists’ bullying tactics.

It is one thing to be ignorant of the critical need for the type of services provided by a women’s refuge. But it is something else entirely to go out of your way to execute a defunding campaign against a women’s refuge. It reeks of outright misogyny. Thousands of vulnerable women rely on the VRRWS’s services to get the critical support they need. And now it is in danger of going under, merely because, as a women’s refuge, it wanted to restrict its services to women.

And why wouldn’t it? To expect women who have been abused and raped at the hands of men to then accommodate a man in a shelter is absurd – even if said man self-identifies as a woman.

Indeed, trans women have no idea what women need because, quite simply, they are not women. To grow up and be socialised as a woman starts before birth. Being a woman is to have experienced a lifetime of being treated, and in some cases oppressed and subjugated, as a woman. Not that any such concerns bother the City of Vancouver.

In its letter justifying the decision, the council stated that: ‘It is [our] view that [VRRWS]’s position does not demonstrate accommodation, welcomeness and openness to people of all gender identities required by the eligibility criteria, because it clearly excludes trans, gender-variant and two-spirit people from provision of at least some of its core services.’

This charge of exclusivity levelled at the VRRWS raises some important issues.

First, in order for a certain group of marginalised people to be effectively served, other groups must be excluded. A women’s shelter would no longer serve its purpose if it started allowing men to have access to its services. VRRWS is often the last lifeline for some women, especially as it is the only women-only rape crisis centre and transition house in the province of British Columbia.

And second, it seems Vancouver’s councilors see justice and exclusivity as incompatible. In this, they are marching in lockstep with the diversity industry – or as proponents call it, diversity and inclusion (D&I). For D&I advocates, ‘inclusivity’ is always the goal, and exclusivity always the enemy. Yet a women’s refuge is necessarily exclusive. It necessarily discriminates. For it is only by discriminating against other sections of society that it can cater to the needs of a particular marginalised and vulnerable social group.

What makes the defunding of VRRWS all the more bewildering is that the city council is all too happy to serve other marginalised groups exclusively. So, just days after it announced that the VRRWS was to be defunded, the council announced it had purchased a $3.8million building to convert into social housing for people who identify as trans or two-spirit.

While I’m not opposed to a trans-only space, I am opposed to blatant hypocrisy and misogyny, especially from misinformed decision makers. The main reason why the city council defunded the rape-relief shelter was on the basis of exclusivity, yet this social-housing initiative will exclusively serve trans and two-spirit people.

It is difficult to ignore the misogyny at work here. To defund one critical service and then prop up another days later shows that modern sex-based oppression is alive and kicking. And so, under the banner of anti-discrimination, women have been pushed to the sidelines, yet again.

The council could have funded the women’s shelter and the new social housing. That way, both marginalised groups would receive the services they need. Instead, the decision to defund one on the basis of being exclusionary, while propping up another on the basis of being, well, exclusionary, makes no logical sense.

Vancouver’s city councillors, like many other decision makers, have succumbed to the dangers of identity politics. They have traded off women’s rights against the rights of others deemed more oppressed and victimised. And, in doing so, they have allowed misogyny to prevail once again.


The case for an English Parliament

Regionalism has failed. English voters need their own government.

A glaring feature of the Brexit process has been the first ministers of Scotland and Wales demanding to be heard more in the negotiations. And yet no one has spoken for England on Brexit, or indeed speaks for England in any other policy debate. England is being airbrushed from public discourse, in this area but also others.

When New Labour gave national parliaments and recognition to Scotland and Wales, it left a gaping hole. The Blair government ignored English nationhood, offering merely the prospect of it being broken into EU-defined artificial regional bits – an agenda that stalled after the 2004 North East referendum decisively rejected a regional chamber. Further referendums in other regions were eventually cancelled.

Brexit now provides an opportunity to rethink the governance of England. It’s time to forget artificial regional constructs and to acknowledge that, in the post-Brexit world, England deserves a governing institution to represent it as a nation.

Regionalism has failed because it was always artificial and top-down. Isn’t it odd that the supposed English regions, all with their supposedly distinctive cultures and identities, just happen to reflect the regional blocs used by the EU for the purpose of statistics, European Parliament elections, and so on.

The English regions we have are not identifiable, historically defined regions as Spanish or Italian regions are, which is why seven of the nine EU-defined regions in England are referred to using points of the compass – North West, South East, etc.

Post-Brexit ‘levelling up’ requires an all-England view, one that is not currently provided by regionalists or Unionists who think that denying England representation is essential to keeping Scotland and Wales in the Union. England will continue to lose out if it is seen only as a collection of regions, and not as a nation.

One fanciful myth in this debate is that England – population 56million – is too big for its own parliament. And yet, apparently, Italy (60million), France (67million), Japan (127million) and India (1.3 billion) must be the exceptions to the rule.

Government systems manage to accommodate larger and smaller units (as the UK currently does). The US, with states ranging in population size from California (39.5million) to Wyoming (580,000), manages to make its governing system work with size disparities between states.

Some Unionists oppose an English Parliament because they fear it will damage the Union – they made a similar argument during the referendum campaigns for the Scottish and Welsh devolved bodies. They therefore feel vindicated by the rise in support since devolution for Scottish independence.

But it was the rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP) which led to the 2015 Scottish independence referendum, not the simple existence of the Scottish Parliament. Still, many Unionists continue to deny England – 84 per cent of the UK population – the right to govern itself.

In truth, it is that imbalance that will ultimately place greater strain on the Union. During the 2019 General Election, the main parties all put out separate manifestos for Scotland and Wales, but none did so for England. This will only feed a sense that England is being overlooked.

The alternatives so far suggested to tackle this problem have been paltry. The parliamentary tinkering of ‘English Votes for English Laws’ is currently in force, whereby legislation which affects only England requires the majority support of English MPs. Then there is the idea of a dual mandate British Parliament, in which English MPs would sit separately on English issues.

But this would require the English voter to think of two mandates held by the same MP for separate purposes – a recipe for confusion and disaffection. And another flaw here is that there would be no English government or first minister to govern England separately in certain areas, and to press England’s case within the UK.

Some Remainers cast Brexit as England’s fault, given Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to Remain. Though this conveniently forgets that the Welsh also delivered a Leave vote, Brexit does reflect particular issues with regard to England. There are concerns about a loss of English national identity and a sense no one gives a damn about England.

Instead of Remainers accusing the Brexit-backing English of being racist, xenophobic bigots, and Unionists continuing to demand that England sacrifices itself for the sake of the Union, both would do well to look seriously at the causes of English disaffection.

The 53million people of England should have what the five million in Scotland, the three million in Wales, and nearly two million in Northern Ireland already have – a parliament, a first minister, and government of their own.


No more quad bikes on Australian farms?

Rigid new safety laws to blame

For primary producers who have lost loved ones in quad bike accidents, the current situation is complicated.

The conflict lies between providing a safe workplace and the essential role of the vehicles.

Farmer and grazier Warren Jonsson from Ravenshoe in Far North Queensland tragically lost his father in a quad bike rollover in the late 1990s.

But he said the new mandatory factory-fitted roll bars had seen big manufacturers exiting the Australian market.

"They've got to modify their whole production line just to suit probably 2 per cent of the market," he said.

"They've opted to not send quads to Australia; they said 12 months ago they'd pull out, and that's exactly what's going to happen."

"There's got to be some waiver where you can put an aftermarket structure, roll bar on the bikes," he said. "People have got to be a bit accountable for their own doings."

Barcaldine grazier David Counsell said he was not surprised by the industry move, but admitted the safety measures were necessary.

"They're in some cases a necessary farm vehicle, but they've got a terrible track record for safety," he said.

"There's a significant liability there … big companies look at their risk and make according decisions."
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He said he only used his quad bike a couple of days a year, mainly in wet conditions. "When I've really got to go down and have a look along a boggy creek for bogged sheep or something like that, I'm inherently aware of the risks this vehicle presents," he said.

Mr Counsell said there had been fatalities in the region and everyone he had spoken to had a story about the dangers they presented. "Where there's smoke there's fire," he said.

"It's not just the fatalities; there's a lot of situations where people end up in hospitals or really close calls."
Exiting the Australian industry

Supplier Polaris has confirmed it will stop selling quad bikes and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) in the Australian market this year.

Honda criticised the legislation and said it would force them to do the same in 2021, when the laws took full effect.

Polaris Australia's Alan Collins says safety measures will cause as many injuries as they save.

However, he said, it was not about the cost of fitting rollover safety measures. "We actually believe they cause as many injuries as they save," he said.

"There's no reliable science or data or evidence that we've seen that actually demonstrates that these devices offer any inherent safety value at all."

In October 2019, the Federal Government gave quad bike manufacturers two years to comply with new rollover protection legislation.

The safety standards required that manufacturers affix rollover safety stickers to new quad bikes within 12 months and install roll-over bars as standard within 24 months.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


17 March, 2020

Experiencing tolerance and intolerance

Mark Schleeter

LGBTQ+ people want more than anything to be accepted for who they are. And if people can’t accept them, then at least to be tolerant, sort of, live and let live philosophy.

Recently, I had an interesting experience of tolerance and intolerance.

Generally, there is a view that more conservative people tend to be less tolerant and more liberal people are more tolerant. But I recently discovered this is not always the case.

Currently in Decatur, there is an anti-abortion group called “Forty Days for Life” demonstrating across from Planned Parenthood. At a Macon County Progressives meeting, we discussed options of how we might support Planned Parenthood during this time.

One option caught my interest: Stop at Planned Parenthood each day during the 40 days of demonstration to donate $1 and tell the staff their work is appreciated. Since Planned Parenthood did many things to help LGBTQ+ persons, I wanted to show my support.

So the first day I showed up, gave them my $1 and expressed support for their work.

When I left, I crossed the street to talk with the demonstrators to begin to understand them and their motives, even though I didn’t agree with their stand on abortion. Over time, I asked questions and learned more about what they were doing. They had two signs: “Pray to End Abortion” and “Ask How We Can Help”.

It became obvious they were demonstrating against abortion by standing in front of Planned Parenthood. But they were also actually praying to end abortion and would offer alternative help to any woman requesting it. I made it clear that I did not support their cause and that every day they demonstrated, I was donating $1 to Planned Parenthood.

Eventually, I began to have dialogue to challenge their positions. Although we were pretty far apart in our positions, we did find some things we could agree on.

There was also a counter-protest group which sought to get the demonstrators to leave. They used signs, some of which were offensive, and a megaphone to harass the demonstrators. One day, as I crossed the street from talking to the demonstrators, I was called a “facist” by the counter-protestors.

Really? Is there is a new definition for facist? I stopped by the counter-protestors to say that I didn’t appreciate being called a facist. I was told that because I talked to the demonstrators, I was a facist because the demonstrators were fasict. When I tried to suggest a less negative protest against the demonstrators and more positive support for Planned Parenthood, they would hear no part of it.

Long story short, I experienced tolerance from a conservative religious group and intolerance from a liberal activist group. A group from which I expected more tolerance and dialogue.

This is the sad state of affairs in our country and I am afraid if we don’t learn how to talk with each other about our differences, we may end up doing something worse.


If James Bond has gone woke, he might as well be cancelled

Another day, another bout of actorly virtue-signalling. In an interview, Daniel Craig has shed light on his final outing as Bond, No Time to Die, now postponed due to coronavirus.

Unable to resist the luvvie-ish proclamations that have made his profession so insufferable, Craig describes "struggles" to keep politics out of the film ("But of course it is there. It's always there, whether it's Trump, or Brexit, or Russian influence on elections.") Amusingly, he imagines Bond — binge-drinker, destroyer of gadgets, seducer of women — as a selfless public servant.

"There's something I feel that Bond represents, someone who's there, trying to do the job and doesn't want any f------ publicity."

As a lifelong Bond fan, I'm beginning to think Eon Productions shouldn't just delay NTTD but cancel it outright. The series has deteriorated since Craig's triumphant first outing in Casino Royale. Quantum of Solace and Spectre were abysmal failures and news from the set of NTTD has hardly inspired confidence (we recently heard that Bond is to navigate "the world of #MeToo" alongside a female 007). Yet fans don't want to be reminded of the perils of toxic masculinity or the merits of EU integration. We want escapism.

True, the sober direction of the Craig films was an (understandable) reaction to the excesses of the Pierce Brosnan era, especially his swansong, Die Another Day. But the pendulum has swung too far in the Jason Bourne direction and there are correspondingly few laughs amid the disorientating car chases and hair-raising stunts. Though Craig brought a new vulnerability to the role, audiences rarely leave the cinema in stitches. Tellingly, Craig's one old-school Bond moment occurred offscreen, in his cameo with the Queen in the London Olympics opening ceremony.

Craig fans scoff at the antics of Brosnan and Roger Moore. Yet their films, though often ridiculous, entertain in ways recent releases rarely manage. Who would go back for round two of Quantum of Solace? At its best, Bond can be simultaneously funny, thrilling, naughty and stylish (consider From Russia With Love), yet I'd take the Carry On humour of the Moore era, replete with Tarzan yells and double-taking pigeons, over a dour offering any day.

The direction of Star Wars under Disney, and particularly The Last Jedi, which sacrificed plot consistency for feminist propaganda, should remind us of the risks of appealing to the right-on over fans. For the latest instalment, Solo, millions stayed at home. Other woke remakes — including the all-female Ghostbusters — have similarly tanked at the box office.

Could things change under a new Bond? Rumours abound about possibilities for the lead role, from Tom Hardy to Benedict Cumberbatch. Based on Bond's current trajectory, I predict a rather worthier line-up: Olivia Colman as Jane Bond, with Ken Loach directing, and George Clooney as Bond's ally Felix Vaper ("Leiter" could be seen as endorsing smoking).

And Q? Perhaps George Monbiot could be enticed away from the Guardian and onto the silver screen to dole out electric cars and help defeat the shady oil corporations, airline executives and other foils of the woke Bond era. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But how depressing that this outcome seems more likely than a return to Fleming's source material, and the style and humour that once made Bond so irresistible.


Churches, Don't Let the Government Trample on Your Rights in the Name of Fighting Coronavirus

As President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus, state and local governments have leaped into action, prohibiting large gatherings and in some cases even mobilizing the National Guard to combat the spread of the virus. Yet even in this time of crisis, Americans still have constitutional rights — and some governments have arguably already trampled on those rights.

In order to equip churches in this trying and confusing time, the religious freedom law firm First Liberty released an essential guidance document.

"Unlike other, voluntary restrictions self-imposed by organizations such as the NCAA or the NBA, state-mandated restrictions carry the power of law, violating them may lead to legal consequences," the guidance notes.

First Liberty presents three important pieces of advice.

First, churches and other religious institutions "should continue to serve their local communities." The guidance encourages churches to persist in "acts of mercy, providing shelter, or simply being a source of encouragement and peace in times of crisis," carrying on a proud tradition of religious contributions to American life. Before worrying about asserting their rights, churches "should continue to be a source of strength through service to their local community, especially as their communities may be particularly burdened during this pandemic."

Second, the guidance notes that "evenly applied restrictions may be permissible. The government may not substantially burden the free exercise of religion unless it has a compelling reason for doing so, and even then it must use the least burdensome approach that achieves that compelling interest. Temporary action to reduce the spread of a global pandemic is almost certainly a compelling reason, so long as the government is not treating religious institutions unfairly compared with how it treats other comparable gatherings."

The government may not engage in religious discrimination by requiring that each religious service has no more than 250 persons, for example, but failing to prohibit the same for secular gatherings.

Finally, the First Liberty guidance notes that "extraordinary state action to limit the peaceful gathering of American citizens must be temporary. Permanent restrictions on the peaceful assembly of American citizens—and especially those gathered to exercise their religion— violate the U.S. Constitution and are not permissible."

The government may use extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but those measures must be applied equally and they must be temporary. Churches should be on the lookout to make sure that their rights are not infringed.

However, churches and other religious institutions cannot be more focused on their rights than on their central calling. Churches best prove their value to society by serving others and by preaching the gospel. Indeed, the coronavirus should remind churches that the ancient Roman plagues in the 160s and 250s A.D. proved central to the rise of Christianity — because Christians, unlike their pagan neighbors, cared for the sick and dying, exposing themselves to the disease but also keeping people alive and forming closer social bonds. The important work of following Jesus' example of charity — not asserting legal rights — enabled the church to grow by leaps and bounds.


'Are they saying we're all paedophiles?' Fury as fire bosses are ordered to SACK nearly 10,000 hero firefighters who haven't applied for 'working with children' checks

Almost 10,000 firefighters face losing their jobs for refusing to get a Blue Card to work with children.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said 60 of 20,000 QFES staff and volunteers who applied for a Blue Card were denied - and warned those who do not obtain one by the end of the month will be sacked.

Blue Cards can be denied to people with a history of serious offences including selling drugs, rape, murder, child abuse and burglary.

Mr Crawford said the 60 refusals was 'powerful evidence of the need for a Blue Card', The Courier Mail reported. He said due to the nature of the work many firefighters have to come into contact with children. 

A QFES spokesman said only 58 per cent of staff and volunteers had applied for a Blue Card despite being ordered to apply by January 1. The deadline was extended until the end of March. 

'Those who choose not to obtain a Blue Card will be choosing not to continue their role with QFES,' the spokesman said.

Veteran firefighter Will Giumelli said many in the industry had taken offence to the demand and a petition has been launched objecting to the Blue Card order. 'Are they saying we’re all bloody paedophiles?’ he said.

Rural Fire Brigades Association general manager Justin Choveaux said the move could leave many communities with no one to defend them next bushfire season.

He said many long serving firefighters had already resigned after repeated phone calls from the QFES.

'Let’s make children safe, but let’s also make communities safe by not losing their volunteer fire brigades,' Mr Choveaux said.

He said the RFB still has 8,578 staff and volunteers still needing to apply for a Blue Card.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


16 March, 2020

Black antisemitism in NYC

In December last year, two gruesome anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area made international headlines. First, a shooting in a kosher supermarket in New Jersey, which killed six. Later in the month, five were injured in a stabbing attack on a rabbi’s home. In October, a shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 people – the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. In April, the Poway synagogue in California was targeted by a gunman, who killed one person and would have killed more, had his rifle not jammed. Yet while anti-Semitism was central to all of these attacks, the roots of that anti-Semitism differ.

Spiked spoke to Robert Cherry, economics professor at Brooklyn College, to find out about New York’s particular problem with anti-Semitism.

spiked: How serious has anti-Semitic crime become?

Robert Cherry: Over the past couple of years, there has been an uptick of anti-Semitic crimes. There is always a large number in the United States because anti-Semitic crimes include property crimes. So if you look at hate crimes against Jews, it dwarfs the hate crimes against Muslims, for instance. A good deal of those crimes are people knocking over stones in cemeteries or putting swastikas on temples. In the past couple of years, there have been lots of robocalls – someone will call 50 or 75 Jewish institutions and make threats over the phone. Right-wingers put up posters around universities or near Jewish neighbourhoods. I don’t want to trivialise it but those are nuisances, by and large. These are things that you certainly don’t want to overreact to.

That was the nature of anti-Semitic crime until about a year or two ago. There was lots of this kind of activity but not many assaults. But that has changed in the past year-and-a-half. There were murders in California and in Pittsburgh by right-wingers. In Pittsburgh, for instance, the murderer was pissed off at Donald Trump because he thought Trump was too friendly with Jews and too supportive of Israel.

In the New York City area, there has been a noticeable increase in assaults. In the beginning, Bill de Blasio, the mayor, and the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) tried to put it in the context of right-wing-inspired anti-Semitism. That made sense in Pittsburgh and California, but it’s really hard to do that in New York, where virtually all of the assaults have been by African-Americans. It was only after the murders in a Jersey City grocery store, which was run by Haredi Jews, and in Monsey, where there was a knifing in a rabbi’s home, that people started to realise that these actions are not following the usual script. This is not a right-wing problem.

Before the killings in Jersey City and Monsey, I wasn’t the only one to point out that there had been a substantial increase in assaults virtually all being perpetrated by black Americans. The numbers of assaults increased from 17 in 2017 to 33 in 2018. You might say that the New York Metropolitan area has 20million people, so what is 33 assaults? Do you want to build a story on that?

But when you look into it in these neighborhoods, there are lots of cases of people being shoved, a wig is pulled off, people get called ‘dirty Jew’ and they don’t report it. What’s more, this is only happening to the Haredi community because they are the only people that are easily identifiable as Jews. They have funny hats and dresses and so on. So we’re talking about a much narrower population of Jews which is being victimised.

spiked: Is anti-Semitism treated differently to other forms of racism?

Cherry: I think that that’s true. For example, now that it’s clear that these crimes are being done by black Americans, some influential writers in New York City are saying that this is really a problem of mental illness and juvenile delinquency. When you look at the adults who are committing these anti-Semitic crimes, it is true that many of them have mental problems.

And when you look at the youth, there have been examples over the past decade of black youth engaging in random acts of violence. About six or eight years ago, there was a whole experience not only in New York, but in some of the other cities, where two or three black kids would get together, they would walk down the street, and just punch the first white person they saw. Some juveniles engage in anti-social behaviour and perhaps it happens to be Jews this time that they are picking on.

But the problem is, nobody is looking at whether there are sources of anti-Semitism in the black community. There are groups like the Nation of Islam and the Black Israelites. I also think that the demonisation of Israel that goes on among many activists, including black activists, has filtered down. The people committing these crimes might be 15 year olds. They are not joining a BDS movement, but it has filtered down to them that the Jews are brutalising Palestinians. That’s not all there is to it, of course – there is a constellation of factors.

spiked: Some have argued that gentrification has played a role in these crimes. How does that fit in?

Cherry: Gentrification is very complicated. In my day job as an economist, I have done a lot of research on gentrification. I think the evidence shows, if done correctly, gentrification can revitalise poor black neighborhoods. You need middle-class people to live in those neighborhoods again and, with the money they bring, comes housing, schools and police. But gentrification is so demonised in this country. It is always implied that gentrification means simply shoving poor people out.

In New York, Orthodox Jews are moving into black neighbourhoods because their population is growing. For example, the most known black neighbourhood in Brooklyn is Bedford-Stuyvesant. Bed-Stuy used to be 80 per cent black. It is now 50 per cent black. Meanwhile, a quarter of the people who live in Bed-Stuy now are Haredi Jews, who filtered out from neighbouring Williamsburg. In Jersey City, 100 Hasidic Jews recently moved into the neighbourhood.

There have been some negatives in this. In Jersey and other suburbs, the Haredi don’t support public education. Their kids are in Yeshivas, so if they come into the community, budgets for public education end up getting cut. That creates a layer of antagonism. And they do move into these areas in groups because they need their temple and their institutions. So they are not filtering in individually. So gentrification of this kind plays a different role to when upper-middle-class white people gentrify a neighbourhood. And nobody is beating up upper-middle-class whites when they come in.

That’s the situation in New York. And I think that the organised liberal Jewish community is uncomfortable doing anything about it. Firstly because they have the same negative stereotypes of the Haredi community as everyone else. So they are not personally too sympathetic in their solidarity with the people who were being affected by anti-Semitism.

The other thing is that it has been extremely important in the United States to maintain black-Jewish unity. Over the past century and longer, Jewish immigrants had a particular sensitivity, sympathy and empathy with black Americans. And they gave money and time to many aspects of the civil-rights movement. I think for many leaders in the Jewish community, they don’t want to take a stand on forcing black leaders to contend with anti-Semitism in the black community. They tried that in the early 1990s when Louis Farrakhan was saying Jews were behind the slave trade. It was a big issue getting black leaders to condemn that stuff and they don’t want to go through it again.

The response has instead been to say that we are all in the same boat, we are all adversely affected by gentrification, so we shouldn’t be fighting each other over it. That’s what the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York’s line is on this.

spiked: How should we respond to this?

Cherry: I think the best way to respond is to acknowledge that there are many negative stereotypes of Haredi Jews that we need to confront. There should be assemblies in schools where kids can ask them questions like, ‘Do you really have horns?’. At my Brooklyn College, I’m trying to add some affirmative action. I want the admissions officers and the student-affairs people to hire one Haredi Jew so that they will have a colleague from that community. Also, there is a book by Chaim Potok called The Chosen. That’s a book that should be read widely. I think a good way to deal with it will be by finding ways to humanise the Haredi community.


NYT Admits, at Last, That Its 1619 Project Is Wrong

"Why?" is a fundamental question in both journalism and history. We're constantly asking it, along with who, what, when, where, and how. We’re also constantly debating it. We know, for instance, that a given battle happened at a specific place. But why? Why were the combatants on that spot at that time, and what events or ideas led to conflict and bloodshed? In other words, why did it happen? We're constantly debating and re-evaluating as new information comes to light and as we look at old information in new ways.

In August 2019, The New York Times launched a project it called the 1619 Project. Its aim was to locate the founding of America to that year, 1619.


Because 1619 was the year the first slave ships arrived in the New World.

The Times explicitly sought to diminish America’s actual founding in 1776 by changing the focus from 1776 to 1619.


Because in 1776, the American revolutionaries laid out their “Why?” in the Declaration of Independence as they commenced the revolution to throw off the yoke of the British monarchy. The Times explicitly set out to re-write America’s answer to its central purpose. The Times set out to make liars of  America's founders.

The 1619 Project sought to re-write the American story. We would no longer be a nation built to protect the inalienable rights of all, as the Declaration states, but would instead become a nation forged specifically to enslave some. Who would, who could, be proud to be an American if our nation was founded specifically to protect and project the abomination of slavery? What would future Americans think, and do, if the Times' version of history stands?

The Times launched its project, and historians criticized it immediately. Yet the Times persisted, assailing its critics as its 1619 Project was adopted and used by public schools all over the nation.


That’s a question the NYT should now be forced to address, in public, as it should retract the entire Project. The paper has made a very significant change to its core 1619 claim. But only when it was forced to do so by its own fact-checker. The Washington Examiner:

The head of the New York Times’s much-hyped 1619 Project concedes she got it wrong when she reported that “one of the primary reasons” the colonists revolted against England was to preserve the institution of slavery.
Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones claims now that she meant to say “some of” the colonists fought to preserve slavery, not all of them.

The admission comes seven months after her faulty assertion first appeared in the New York Times’s package of essays arguing that America’s founding is defined by chattel slavery. The admission also comes after Hannah-Jones mocked and debased the many academics who directed mild and good-faith criticisms at her bogus statement.

The American Revolution, writes historian Leslie Harris (who helped fact-check the 1619 Project), not only wasn't launched to project slavery. It disrupted slavery.

Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary  disrupter of slavery in the North American Colonies. Lord Dunmore's Proclamation, a British military strategy designed to unsettle the Southern Colonies by inviting enslaved people to flee to British lines, propelled hundreds of enslaved people off plantations and turned some Southerners to the patriot side. It also led most of the 13 Colonies to arm and employ free and enslaved black people, with the promise of freedom to those who served in their armies. While neither side fully kept its promises, thousands of enslaved people were freed as a result of these policies.
The 1619 Project deliberately distorted history to serve current political purposes. It must be removed from all school curricula immediately since its core claim is false and defamatory.


European Human Rights Court Rules Against Christian Midwives Who Will Not Abort Babies

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has dismissed the case of two Christian midwives who were denied jobs in Sweden for refusing to perform abortions, ruling that the violation of the women’s consciences was “justified”.

After losing several court battles in Sweden, the two women — Ellinor Grimmark and Linda Steen — took their plight to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which announced this week it will not take up the case.

Swedish law obliges all midwives to perform abortions and makes no allowance for conscientious objection based on religious faith.

In dismissing Ms Grimmark’s complaint, ECHR judges recognised there had been “an interference with her freedom of religion under Article Nine” of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) — but insisted that this interference “was proportionate and justified with the view of achieving a legitimate aim.”

The interference “had a sufficient basis in Swedish law,” the judges claimed, and “pursued the legitimate aim of protecting the health of women seeking an abortion.”

“Sweden provides nationwide abortion services and therefore has a positive obligation to organise its health system in a way as to ensure that the effective exercise of freedom of conscience of health professionals in the professional context does not prevent the provision of such services,” the judges declared.

Both women received state funding for their training in Sweden as midwives, but despite Sweden’s acute midwife shortage, they were refused midwifery jobs when they revealed they would be unwilling to carry out abortions.

Ms Grimmark applied for a job at the women’s clinic at Värnamo Hospital, which denied her the position but offered her counselling “in order to come to terms with abortions and to change her mind.”

The women attempted to redress the wrong through Sweden’s legal system, arguing unsuccessfully that they had suffered discrimination because of their Christian faith and that their freedom of conscience had been violated.

The European Court ruling echoed a recent report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, which stated that religious liberty must surrender to “human rights” such as the right to an abortion or same-sex marriage.

UN official Ahmed Shaheed lamented religiously-informed “laws and policies that restrict sexual and reproductive rights,” including “partial or total bans on access to abortion and contraception.”

In his report, Mr Shaheed explicitly condemned the appeal to conscientious objection to avoid having to perform abortions.

“One area of particular concern regarding accommodations to national law for religious beliefs is the use of conscientious objection by healthcare providers and institutions unwilling to perform abortions or provide access to contraception on religious grounds,” the Special Rapporteur stated.

Shaheed said that the Human Rights Committee “has called on States to ensure that women have access to legal abortion notwithstanding conscientious objection by medical practitioners, which it has referred to as a ‘barrier’ to access.”


Australian government quietly mothballs laws to protect gay students and teachers

The Morrison government has quietly mothballed an inquiry which would have paved the way for long-promised laws to protect gay students and teachers from being expelled or sacked from religious schools.

The Australian Law Reform Commission has not yet started work on the inquiry, which was first referred to it nearly a year ago. President Sarah Derrington requested the deadline be extended until 12 months after the government's Religious Discrimination Bill passes Parliament - which is not guaranteed - making it highly unlikely any recommendations will be legislated before the next federal election.

Attorney-General Christian Porter made the change on March 2 but it was not announced by the government. The amendment appeared on the relevant webpage on the ALRC website last week.

Mr Porter told The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age the delay "makes good sense as it will enable the commission to take into account the extraordinarily far-reaching public consultation process we undertook in developing the Religious Discrimination Bill".

But Anna Brown, a lawyer and the chief executive of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Australia, said it was "irresponsible" to make the inquiry contingent on the bill's passage. "This spells danger and discrimination for students at religious schools, whichever way you look at it," she said.

The ALRC's general counsel Matt Corrigan said the commission asked for an extension because it was impossible to conduct the inquiry while the Religious Discrimination Bill was being considered by Parliament.

"We will not be starting on this inquiry until either a bill is passed or a final decision is made by [the] government," he said. "The two are inexorably linked and it's not possible to look at them separately."

Mr Morrison's initial 2018 pledge to protect gay students from being expelled or turned away from religious schools followed public outcry over the recommendations of Philip Ruddock's review into religious freedom, which revealed freedoms few realised existed under the law.

But later in the year the government back-tracked on that promise and referred the matter to the ALRC for a review, after failing to agree on a deal with the Labor opposition led by Bill Shorten.

In 2019, the government amended the terms of reference of the review to remove the issues being dealt with by the Religious Discrimination Bill, leaving the ALRC to focus on LGBTQ teachers and students. It also delayed the reporting date to 12 December 2020, with a discussion paper to be released in "early 2020".

The review has now been delayed for a second time, with an indefinite deadline of "12 months from the date the Religious Discrimination Bill is passed by Parliament". That bill has itself been delayed and reviewed multiple times, with no guarantee it will ever pass. The discussion paper's due date is now "TBA".

Even if the Religious Discrimination Bill becomes law this year, if the ALRC reports by late 2021 it is highly unlikely its recommendations would be legislated before the next election, due in 2022.

Mr Porter said the government still expected the bill to pass the Parliament. "But let's not forget that it was the former Labor government that introduced the exemptions allowing schools to exclude gay students," he said.

"That decision could have been overturned in the last Parliament, but Bill Shorten refused to allow a conscience vote, effectively blocking attempts by the Coalition to change the law."

Ms Brown said many faith-based organisations did not want the exemptions they currently enjoy under the law, and it was "irresponsible" to make the ALRC's long-awaited inquiry contingent on a bill that was "deeply flawed" may not pass.

"In the instance where the strong and broad community opposition to the bill prevails and it doesn't pass, the Prime Minister's promise to protect kids in schools looks destined to remain unfulfilled," she said.

There are relatively few instances of LGBTQ teachers being sacked or forced out of schools, and fewer still cases of LGBTQ students being expelled or turned away. But religious schools retain this power to discirminate and some of the major churches have expressed a desire to keep it.

For example, Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies apologised after a backlash to a letter he facilitated, signed by 34 church schools, which argued for the preservation of the schools' power to discriminate against gay students and teachers.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


15 March, 2020  

Antisemitic Leftist charity

Israel's ambassador to the UK has criticised Oxfam for selling antisemitic books on its website.

Mark Regev took to Twitter on Friday to post a screenshot of the Oxfam website to his 23,000 followers.

The screenshot showed books for sale including The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an international Jewish NGO, has described as "a classic in paranoid, racist literature".

Mr Regev, previously chief spokesman for the Prime Minister of Israel, tweeted it with the caption: "Why is @OxfamGB selling antisemitic literature?"

The post attracted hundreds of retweets and likes, prompting Oxfam to remove the books from sale and destroy them.


German Party Wing Under Surveillance

BERLIN-Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said that it would put a group within the nativist AfD opposition party under surveillance as an extremist organization amid rising concern about growing far-right violence in the country.

The measure caps a yearlong investigation and means the agency can start covertly monitoring members of Der Flügel, or The Wing, a network within the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD. The surveillance could include tapping phones, monitoring electronic communications, and inserting undercover agents into the network.

“This is a warning to all enemies of democracy,“ Thomas Haldenwang, head of the intelligence agency, told journalists on Thursday.

The decision is a setback for the AfD, the federal parliament’s largest opposition party, which had long criticized the probe. While nationalists have gradually increased their influence in the party over more moderate voices, the AfD still paints itself as a conservative yet reputable alternative to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union.

Some AfD leaders have stirred controversy with comments that appeared to play down Nazi-era crimes. At the same time, concern about farright extremism rose after a string of politically motivated attacks that have claimed 13 lives in less than a year

The party said that it would challenge the agency’s decision in court.

The agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, keeps a close eye in Germany on extremist groups it sees as posing a danger to democracy. Other groups under surveillance include Islamists, neo-Nazis and far-left extremists.

The Wing doesn’t have formal structures and doesn’t divulge the size of its membership, but the government agency estimates adherents make up about 20% of the AfD’s 35,000-strong membership ranks. The faction has been growing in influence after Björn Höcke, its public figurehead and the AfD chief in the eastern state of Thuringia, won a quarter of the votes at a state election in October.

Nationwide, the AfD scored just under 13% at the last general election, in 2017, and currently polls a few points above this level. It has appealed to voters disappointed by Ms. Merkel’s open-arms asylum policy after more than a million asylum seekers entered Germany in 2015 and 2016.

Other parties have ostracized the anti-Islam AfD and recently accused it of inspireing a series of far-right, racist and anti-Semitic terrorist attacks and foiled conspiracies. The AfD has denied links to the crimes.

But Mr. Haldenwang said pronouncements by Mr. Höcke and his allies-including speeches vilifying Islam, calling for the mass deportation of migrants, and portraying political opponents as enemies of the people-showed it qualified as an extremist group and a threat to the state.

“Right-wing extremism and terrorism are currently the biggest danger in Germany,” Mr. Haldenwang said. “We know now that democracies can fail if they are torn apart from the inside by their enemies.”

The agency estimates there are 32,000 far-right extremists in the country, 13,000 of whom it considers violent.

Mr. Höcke dismissed Mr. Haldenwang’s findings as erroneous and rejected all accusations of extremism.

“The tendentious and onesided interpretations of the agency do not capture what I actually meant to say with the cited quotes,” Mr. Höcke wrote in a statement posted online Thursday. He added: “Some formulations I would not use today and my rhetorical style has generally developed over the years.” Mr. Höcke referred specifically to his past remarks calling for the de-Islamization of Germany, labeling the religion a threat, and denouncing racial diversity.

Mr. Höcke is a deeply polarizing figure here. His supporters celebrate him as a refreshing antiestablishment figure and plain talker not afraid to challenge Ms. Merkel’s liberal views on immigration policy. Detractors see him as a provocateur harboring fascist views.

In a 2017 interviewwith The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Höcke dismissed the notion that Hitler was “absolutely evil.”

“The world has-man has- shades of gray,” Mr. Höcke said when asked about Hitler. “Even the worst severe criminal perhaps has something good, something worth loving, but he is still a severe criminal.”


Cosmic catastrophe always there if you look for it

In one of his last works, written a decade after he had defined enlightenment as “daring to know”, Immanuel Kant identified what he regarded as one of the greatest threats to reason: the human tendency to seek, in ever-changing realitie­s, a sign of the End of Days.

Some people, he observed, “find those signs in the triumph of injustice, the insolence of the rich, the waning of public trust”; many others “see them in violent and unusua­l changes in nature, in tempests, floods and earthquakes”. Inferring from natural disasters that the world is coming to an end, they abandon their faith in progress and in society’s capacit­y to address the challenges it faces.

Today, apocalyptic thinking sur­rounds us. From bushfires to hail storms, climate change to the coronavirus, every crisis streng­thens the sense of dread and fuels the cry for immediate action to avert unimaginable consequences.

As yet more terrifying images flash on to our screens, panic has become the default response, bringing with it the perception that normality has succumbed to a permanent state of emergency. The only question is whether democracy, with its checks and balances, weighing competing interests and a reluct­ance to make drastic changes, can respond to the threats confronting mankind.

There is, of course, nothing new in the belief that time is running out. A cosmic catastrophe looming at the end of history, a violent struggle between good and evil, and the resolution of that struggle in the destruction of the Earth are recurring elements in the great relig­ions, particularly Christianity.

But in the classic religious model of eschatology, the climax is an adventus, “that which arrives”, and the apocalypse is, literally, the revealing of all things, the manifestation of their essence which lies latent before “that which arrives” opens the way to a new start.

There is, in that sense, an in­extricable connection between revelation and redemption, hope and doom, in which the one gives meaning to the other. And there is also, most starkly in the Pauline portrayal of the apocalypse, the powerful presence of the “katechon” (the being that restrains) who, in the words of Thessalon­ians, holds back “the opponent of the will of God” and prevents “the mystery of lawlessness” from destroyin­g life until the times are ripe for redemption.

In some ways, that model survived­ secularisation, with Marx transposing it into a narrative in which capitalism, as it headed to inevitable collapse, would set the foundations for the final transition from “the realm of necessity” to “the kingdom of freedom”.

But a distinctive aspect of secul­arisation was the emergence of a current of thought which retained all the terror of the apocalyptic ­vision while stripping it of any promise of redemption.

Indeed, Byron, writing in the midst of an unusually cold Swiss summer, gave that current one of its highest literary expressions, castigating man’s destruction of nature. The march towards doom began, his poem “Darkness” says, with people consuming all available resources — the meadows, the forests, the “habitations of all things which dwell”.

Then the symbols of human achievement disappeared, when “palaces” and “thrones” were, in desperation, used as combustibles. And once the institutions of social order had crumbled, humans lost their humanity, as “some lay down / And hid their eyes and wept” while “others fed / Their funeral piles with fuel”.

Finally, in a last horrific step, people were reduced to frantic, senseless beings who, deprived of every natural resource, breached the ultimate taboo and resorted to cannibalism, so that as “men died, their bones tombless as their flesh, / The meagre by the meagre were devour’d”.

Byron was entirely unaware of it, but the freezing days he had experienced­ — in which, at the peak of summer, “the fowls went to roost at noon, and the candles were lighted as at midnight” — were due to the volcano Tambora on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, whose eruption in 1815 had ejected immense residues of ash and sulphur into the upper atmosphere.

However, the bleak strain of apocalyptic thought he helped inaugurate­ hardly receded after those residues had subsided. On the contrary, just as socialism’s utopian fantasies flourished, so their dystopian twins experienced periodic renewals, most markedly after each world war.

But the fall of communism changed the picture. With the pros­pect of heaven on earth lost, all that was left of secular fut­urity was the fear of an ending which, from the 1960s on, circled back to Byron’s vision of an impen­ding environmental cataclysm.

That vision has now become an immense global movement. No doubt, its trappings are modern; but its features, particularly in their more extreme forms, are indistinguisha­ble from those the medievalist Norman Cohn identified in the apocalyptic cults of centuries ago.

Like its predecessors, it elevates into dogma deeper forces it claims to have proven for all time and whose manifestations it sees in every event. Like them too, its members believe every decis­ion, rather than requiring a ­balancing of costs and benefits, involves an absolute choice between life and death, perdition and salvation: each lump of coal is a step to the climate apocalypse, every new mine a lurch toward destruction.

And no less similar to earlier doomsday cults is the tendency, which Freud had already noted, for the movement’s leaders — when their strident prophecies go unheeded — to combine the paranoid’s conviction that opponents are not merely ignorant but evil with the narcissist’s acute sense of wounded pride.

Yet perhaps the most enduring feature of the apocalyptic mindset is the disdain for cautious deliberation, and for the democratic decisio­n-making which gives a voice even to those who fail to grasp its hunger for drastic action.

Magnified thousands of times over on social networks, as well as on many media outlets, that mindset, which raises all events into crises­ that demand a war footing, has defined the mood of the age and pervaded every sphere of life.

None of that implies that envir­onmental degradation or viral pandemics should be ignored. But as Kant intuited, when apocalyptic thinking replaces practical reason all that remains is fear itself, with the waves of collective hysteria it generates compounding the problems and making solutions harder and costlier to find.

Little wonder we stagger from panic to panic as if we were always teetering on the brink of extinction. And little wonder governments are under mounting pressure to join the stampede. It may not be the end of times, but it certainly makes one wish for it.


Coronavirus: it’s fatalities that count, not the numbers infected

When the Japanese bombed Darwin­ in World War II, killing more than 240 people, the Curtin government kept the news quiet for as long as it could. How would panic in Sydney and Melbourne help the war effort?

Truth, they say, is the first casual­ty of war.

In the social-media age every new case of coronavirus, no matter how mild, is pored over with lurid fascination.

As the health and economic ­crisis precipitated by COVID-19 deepens, authorities need to tread a fine line between urging calm, remainin­g publicly optimistic and ensuring people comply with measures to contain the virus.

It might seem like it, but this isn’t the world’s first flu pandemic. In 2009 H1N1 — known as “swine flu” — infected 61 million people and killed about 590,000 globally, 80 per cent of whom were younger than 65.

In 1968, the H3N2 flu killed one million people, including 100,000 in the US, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

About a decade before that, the H2N2 flu pandemic killed 1.1 million people.

None of the previous pandemics caused a recession, let alone a near 30 per cent drop in global stock prices.

This is, however, the first flu ­epidemic where everyone has a digital megaphone.

There’s no reason why this corona­virus should be far more deadly than those previous flu pandemics, provided the death rate ends up lower than feared.

On Friday, there were more than 47,000 people who had contracted COVID-19 outside China, including 128 in Australia.

If the number of infections grows at 15 per cent a day, more than 3.4 million people, including more than 9300 in Australia, will have the virus by Easter. If it grows at 20 per cent, about the average so far, it’ll be 12.6 million and 34,800, respectively. That’s still far fewer than caught swine flu in 2009.

It’s the apparent death rate, espec­ially in Italy, which has struck fear in the community.

The World Health Organisation’s official death rate of just less than 4 per cent for COVID-19 has naturally drawn comparisons with the devastating Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19, which killed between­ 50 million and 100 million people globally.

But 3.6 per cent must be an overestimate. Logic dictates many thousands more people have been infected with COVID-19 than the 125,000 official cases. The disease is highly contagious. International travel has only very recently been curtailed.

Most of all, the incentive for someone to volunteer him or herself for testing is very weak. Even in victims, such as Melbourne doctor­ Chris Higgins, in his 70s, who controversially kept working, symptoms can be very mild.

While it might not be in the interest­s of public health for an individu­al with cold or flu-like symptoms, discreet recuperation in ignorance seems a better option than seeking a test.

Quite aside from the hassle and costs of getting a test, a positive finding would cause significant disruption, including potentially forced quarantine or even loss of job.

Telling friends you have a cold, rather than coronavirus, goes down much better at social events.

The number of deaths from COVID-19, more than 4700 glob­ally as of Friday, is therefore a far more reliable and relevant statistic than the number of infections. And this death toll, while sure to surge, is a long way from the millions killed by virulent flu outbursts in the 1950s and 60s, when the economy was booming.

Finally, populations today are far healthier and more resilient than in the aftermath of World War I, before antibiotics existed to cauterise the secondary infections that flu can induce.

“Extrapolating from the mortality­ rates reported for the Spanish flu to 2004, 96 per cent of the projected 50 million to 80 million fatalities worldwide might occur in developing countries,” writes Walter Scheidel in his 2017 economic history of war and disease­, The Great Leveller.

Researchers are much more likely to find a vaccine quickly in 2020 than 1920 too. But what if develop­ed countries can’t control the virus, as China, where infection rates have tapered off, appears to have done?

Health experts have criticised the US and Australia for doing too little too late, failing to cancel large gatherings, close schools, and compel workers to stay at home. “The US response has just been appalling,” says economist Saul Eslake.

“If we can believe the Chinese data, at some point people will draw sharp contrasts between China’s response and how the US has dealt with it, in ways that won’t be helpful to those who believe in the superiority of US-style ­democracy.”

Democracies can’t so easily compel their citizens to quarantine; governments with an eye to re-election want to upset as few voters as possible.

Indeed, large private companies, perhaps fearful of potential lawsuits, have been far stricter in their quarantine and precautionary policies than state and federal governments.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel reckons up to 70 per cent of her country will contract the virus.

Even if the mooted death rate proves an overestimate, widespread contraction of the COVID-19 will cause major economic and social disruption.

How much is impossible to predict­. Economic forecasts, includin­g the effectiveness of the so-called stimulus, are based on what’s happened in the past.

We don’t know household and business spending and investment patterns in the grip of a deadly viral pandemic.

As toilet-paper hoarding illustrates, herd mentality can erupt in unexpected ways.

It remains to be seen whether house prices, which have a much bigger effect on household confid­ence than shares, slump in sympathy with shares.

Central banks, with official rates already practically zero everywhere, are rapidly running out of ammunition to keep proppin­g up asset prices.

The US government, heavily indebted and already borrowing about $US1 trillion ($1.56 trillion) a year, has little scope to introduce a major stimulus package.

If 70 per cent of the over-80s contracted the coronavirus, even with a 2 per cent death rate, almost 14,000 would perish in Australia alone — an extraordinary tragedy. Health workers, hospitals and aged-care homes would come under severe strain.

Severe pandemics, argues Scheidel, for all their horror, have tended to improve income inequalit­y by creating a shortage of workers, increasing wages, while reducing the value of assets, which mainly hurts the rich.

Whatever its ultimate spread, COVID-19, which attacks largely the elderly, appears poised to ­deliver all of the horror and loss of wealth, with no increase in wages.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


13 March, 2020  

Women are more likely to have male jobs in POOR countries

The stereotype is of course that in poor countries women are made to "know their place" and stick to traditional female jobs.  But the opposite is true.  If we come across a female engineer, her first name is more likely to be Malgorzata (a Polish name) than Mary.  The finding comes from a study of  80,000 individuals in 76 representative country samples so is hard to argue with.  That's a heck of a big research program.

To make the finding vivid, let me introduce you to the gorgeous Carmen Gorska Putynska:

Carmen obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, specialized in bridges and underground constructions, in 2013 in Poland, at Technological University of Pozna?. Then, she was awarded with the “Erasmus Mundus Scholarship” and accepted in the “International Master of Fire Safety Engineering” program.

Cop that!  It sounds like a feminist ideal, does it not?  Yet Poland is still a very traditional society in most ways, with very little acceptance for feminism.

So how come the inversion?  How come it is unequal societies where women take male jobs?  Why do women given easy access to male jobs not take them?

It's only an apparent puzzle.  The key is how rewarding the jobs are.  When females can get good female jobs they choose female jobs.  But when all the good jobs are male-role ones, the more capable women will adapt to male work.  Ms Putynska above is a very clever lady

But we are Left with a paradox:  Do we want women in male-role work?  If so the answer is not to make female access to such work easier but rather to make it harder. It is hard to know what feminists really want but if they want women out of female roles and into male roles -- which they do appear to want -- their policies are going in exactly the wrong direction.

But Leftist policies yielding perverse results are nothing new of course.  They think everything is simple when practically nothing is -- JR


Women’s Economic Empowerment About More Than ‘Seat in the Boardroom,’ State Department Official Says

Women’s economic empowerment is about so much more than women having powerful positions, says a senior government economics and business official.

“Economic success for women is about more than having a seat in the boardroom or running our own companies,” Manisha Singh, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, said Tuesday.

She made her remarks at a presentation, “Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment,” at The Heritage Foundation in Washington.

“It’s ultimately about controlling our own fates, controlling our own futures,” Singh said. “It’s about moving societies forward for everyone’s benefit. …  Statistics have shown that empowering women in the labor force is simply smart economic policy.”

Singh, the first woman to hold her position, according to her biography, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as an assistant secretary of state in November 2017.

She said that the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, established last year by President Donald Trump and under the leadership of senior adviser Ivanka Trump, has three main pillars that seek to advance women in the economy, both at home and abroad.

“The initiative aims to reach 50 million women by 2025, and then focus on three pillars … women prospering in the workforce, women succeeding as entrepreneurs, and women enabled [in the economy],” Singh said. “It’s the very first whole-of-government approach to advancing women’s economic empowerment.”

She added that the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that solely eliminating restraints on women’s economic participation could increase annual global gross domestic product by $7.7 trillion, or 8.3%.

“That’s quite a compelling case for the full economic involvement over the world,” Singh said. “To reach these numbers, we can mobilize platforms and resources to enable women to start their own companies and enterprises.”

She said she’s determined to use her influence to work in both the public and private sectors to elevate economic opportunities for women.

“In my bureau, we are determined to use our best skills and assets, including partnering with the private sector to create the ultimate power tool,” Singh said. “And by power, I mean providing opportunities for women’s economic rights.”

Singh also said her bureau is working with other countries’ economies to advance women’s economic opportunities.

“Our first tier of the power initiative was to solicit proposals from embassies and consulates around the world,” Singh said. “We ask that these proposals identify specific methods or tools to better assist American women entrepreneurs access the market in their host country and vice versa.”

She said she expected to get a few proposals from the initiative, but ended up with dozens more than anticipated.

“My staff and I have combed through dozens on just our first solicitation,” Singh said, adding:

We have drawn on the full breadth … of our diplomatic networks, private-sector partnerships, and existing U.S. government programs.

These connections facilitate business development and investment among women entrepreneurs, leading to better export opportunities, better funding, and very importantly, the ability to hire more workers.

Kay C. James, president of The Heritage Foundation, delivered opening remarks before Singh’s presentation, saying that Heritage will always be dedicated to advancing economic empowerment.

“By giving more women access to that freedom, we can promote a stronger and healthier national economy, lift more families out of poverty, and create more stable and peaceful societies and fantastic trading partners,” James said. “It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”


Rights Versus Wishes

Walter E. Williams
Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “I believe that health care is a right of all people.” He’s not alone in that contention. That claim comes from Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives. It is not just a health care right that people claim. There are “rights” to decent housing, decent food, a decent job and prescription drugs. In a free and moral society, do people have these rights? Let’s begin by asking ourselves: What is a right?

In the standard usage of the term, a “right” is something that exists simultaneously among people. In the case of our U.S. Constitutional decree, we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our individual right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness imposes no obligation upon another other than the duty of noninterference.

As such, a right imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech is something we all possess simultaneously. My right to free speech imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference. Similarly, I have a right to travel freely. Again, that right imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference.

Sanders’ claim that health care is a right does impose obligations upon others. We see that by recognizing that there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy who gives resources to government to pay for medical services. Moreover, the money does not come from congressmen and state legislators reaching into their own pockets to pay for the service. That means that in order for government to provide medical services to someone who cannot afford it, it must use intimidation, threats and coercion to take the earnings of another American to provide that service.

Let’s apply this bogus concept of rights to my right to speak and travel freely. In the case of my right to free speech, it might impose obligations on others to supply me with an auditorium, microphone and audience. It may require newspapers or television stations to allow me to use their property to express my views. My right to travel freely might require that others provide me with resources to purchase airplane tickets and hotel accommodations. What if I were to demand that others make sacrifices so that I can exercise my free speech and travel rights, I suspect that most Americans would say, “Williams, you have rights to free speech and you have a right to travel freely, but I’m not obligated to pay for them!”

A moral vision of rights does not mean that we should not help our fellow man in need. It means that helping with health care needs to be voluntary (i.e., free market decisions or voluntary donations to charities that provide health care.) The government’s role in health care is to protect this individual right to choose. As Senator Rand Paul was brave enough to say, “The basic assumption that you have a right to get something from somebody else means you have to endorse the concept of theft.”

Statists go further to claim that people have a “right” to housing, to a job, to an education, to an affordable wage. These so-called rights impose burdens on others in the form of involuntary servitude. If one person has a right to something he did not earn, it means that another person does not have a right to something he did earn.

The provision by the U.S. Congress of a so-called right to health care should offend any sense of moral decency. If you’re a Christian or a Jew, you should be against the notion of one American living at the expense of another. When God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment — “Thou shalt not steal” — I am sure that He did not mean, “Thou shalt not steal — unless there is a majority vote in the U.S. Congress.”



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


12 March, 2020  

Virginia Lawmakers Pass Bill Giving Driving Privilege Cards to Illegal Aliens

While the Virginia General Assembly stopped short of passing legislation that gave full-fledged driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, lawmakers did advance a bill that would grant them driving privilege cards.

The Democratic-controlled Virginia General Assembly went into overtime over the weekend, passing a flurry of progressive bills before the 2020 session came to an official end Sunday. Among the legislation voted on by lawmakers was a proposal to allow illegal aliens in the state to obtain driving privilege cards.

Lawmakers in the House of Delegates and the state Senate considered two different proposals earlier in 2020. The lower chamber produced and passed a more liberal bill that would provide the state’s undocumented population with driver’s licenses, while the Senate introduced and passed the more moderate bill granting them driving privilege cards.

Ultimately, the state Senate version proved more palatable for both chambers.

Virginia lawmakers on Saturday passed SB 34, which was introduced by Democratic state Sen. Scott Surovell.

Unlike driver’s licenses that are valid for years at a time, driving privilege cards must be renewed on an annual basis, and the cards would explicitly state that they can’t be used for voting or obtaining federal benefits. Additionally, individuals who wish to obtain these privilege cards are required to file a tax return or be listed as a dependent.

Passage of the bill is a reflection of the state’s newly-minted Democratic majority. For the first time in a generation, the Democratic Party has full control of the Virginia General Assembly, and legislation passed this session certainly reflects that new majority.

Before session ended over the weekend, Virginia Democrats also passed major gun control proposals regarding background checks on gun sales, greater collective bargaining rights for unions, a bill allowing localities to remove Confederate statues, and other liberal legislation.

“Instead of working on behalf of their constituents, Democrats chose to work on behalf of illegal immigrants,” John March, a spokesman for the Virginia GOP, said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Virginia GOP, which is in the minority, reacted to the passage of driving privilege cards for illegal aliens.

“I’m not sure that the farmer without access to broadband or the single mother struggling to make ends meet will be too happy about this, but who knows. Democrats have shown where their priorities are, and they aren’t with Virginians,” March continued.

It’s not immediately clear if Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is anticipated to sign the bill. A spokesperson for his office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

If signed into law, Virginia would become the latest in a growing number of states that are allowing illegal aliens to have driving privileges.


Anatomy of a crooked Leftist prosecution

It's obvious to see now after witnessing the specious and politically manufactured attacks on Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh, but at the same time that was going on–2018–then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens—a retired Navy SEAL badass whose first political office was governor—had admitted to an affair. It was easy to think that maybe he was out 'over his skis' and had gotten caught up in some tawdry affair.

But Greitens had already confessed his affair with his hairdresser to his wife and family. He'd already come clean, but the new chief prosecutor, one of leftist billionaire George Soros's hand-picked candidates in his District Attorney Project, alleged that Greitens had committed a felony with his affair. How? Kim Gardner alleged in her tissue-thin, one-paragraph indictment, void of any evidence, that Greiten committed a felony invasion of privacy for taking a boudoir photo of his mistress and threatening to release it if she talked about her affair.

Cue the #MeToo outrage.

Greitens, who was in office two years, was hounded out. The voters who thought they were getting a door-kicker who got things done, were instead getting an alleged felon. They were outraged and he resigned.

But fast-forward now, as John Solomon reports at his new website Just the News (see him talk about his experience below), there was never any evidence of that compromising photo. Never any evidence of threats made by the governor. Moreover, the private investigator hired to do the investigation–completely contrary to how the office worked–was indicted for lying and tampering with evidence. Gardner allegedly was in on what looks to be a phony investigation done for political effect, though she hasn't been indicted by the special prosecutor now looking into the case.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Ethics Commission cleared Greitens of charges lodged against him during the height of the scandal that he had violated campaign finance laws. The commission “found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Eric Greitens” but fined his campaign for two reporting violations.

It also turns out that the hairdresser, Katrina Sneed, never independently came forward to lodge a complaint against Greitens. Indeed, she was asked by prosecutors to come forward to claim the allegation.

And it appears that investigators put words into Sneed's mouth. While they were alleging the evidence of a nasty photo, it turns out that Sneed wasn't sure there was ever a photo taken. She told them she could have dreamed it. Later she testified under oath that there was never a photo.

The prosecutor's office also said there was no video recording of the conversation between Sneed and the indicted investigator. But there was. Gardner denies any wrongdoing.

The voters of Missouri had their votes for Greitens voided, nullified and erased by allegedly unscrupulous prosecutors bringing phony charges to undo the results of an election. That's sure the way Greitens sees it. And he sees something more, a pattern:

"It's good to have been exonerated. I'm glad that the truth is coming out,” Greitens told Just the News, comparing his plight to that of Trump during the Russia collusion case. “All Americans need to know that the left and deep state insiders engaged in a criminal effort to overturn the 2016 election."
As our colleague, Glenn Reynolds, put it at Instapundit, vestiges of fair treatment at the prosecutor's office have been erased, the torpedos are circling and "We need to make examples of these political prosecutions. Jail time all around."

By all means, go to Just the News and see all the documents showing lying by the investigator.

The Greitens case isn’t the only controversy impacting Gardner: More than 70 prosecutors in her office have been fired or forced to quit and dozens of St. Louis police officers have been banned from testifying in court. She also was fined more than $60,000 for campaign finance violations. After signing a plea deal, Gardner issued a statement blaming clerical errors for the campaign violations and accusing a "Republican political operative" for filing the complaint against her.

No matter which side prevails in the coming months, the investigators who went after Greitens are clearly now the investigated, much like the FBI and DOJ officials who opened the Trump-Russia collusion probe during the 2016 election find themselves in hot water in Washington under Attorney General William Barr.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Ethics Commission cleared Greitens of charges lodged against him during the height of the scandal that he had violated campaign finance laws. The commission “found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Eric Greitens” but fined his campaign for two reporting violations.

"It's good to have been exonerated. I'm glad that the truth is coming out,” Greitens told Just the News, comparing his plight to that of Trump during the Russia collusion case. “All Americans need to know that the left and deep state insiders engaged in a criminal effort to overturn the 2016 election."

Soros, one of the largest liberal benefactors in history, donated $630,000 that year to a political action committee called Safety and Justice Committee. That super PAC in turn donated more than $204,000 as an in-kind donation to Gardner’s election. Soros’ support accounted for about two-thirds of her total campaign donations of nearly $300,000, according to a post-election filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Gardner’s platform of criminal justice reform to help minorities proved a nice fit for Team Soros.


The dark side of political correctness

“The PC movement is mad and dangerous,” says popular author and Australian Catholic University Fellow Kevin Donnelly.

“Instead of being able to discuss issues in a rational and impartial way, debate is shut down and reduced to ad hominem attacks based on emotion and politically correct groupthink.”

It’s a message he makes clear in his new book ‘A Politically Correct Dictionary and Guide.’

Though the book has a satirical nature and is accompanied with tongue-in-cheek cartoons by Johannes Leak, Donnelly highlights the underlying danger is kowtowing to political correctness.

“This is becoming a problem because it’s enforcing what I call ‘cultural left groupthink’, and cultural left language,” says Donnelly. “If you argue, for example, that multiculturalism isn’t the right thing, you’re attacked as xenophobic or racist.

“If you say a boy should be a boy, a girl should be a girl, if you’re against the whole LGBTQI transitioning movement, you’re attacked as homophobic or transphobic.

“There is a real problem I’d argue now in Australia in terms of the cultural left taking over institutions like schools and universities and enforcing this very strong ideological view of language and groupthink.”

A frequent writer for the Catholic Weekly’s comment pages, Kevin Donnelly has established a reputation as one of Australia’s leading conservative commentators and authors fighting against the cultural-left ideology and group think which many believe is poisoning society and stifling free and open debate.

Sky News commentator, journalist and former Chief of Staff to Tony Abbot, Peta Credlin describes Donnelly as “a rare and forthright warrior for common sense in a world where it’s more desperately needed than ever.”

“With his third book-length polemic against political correctness in just over a year, Dr Kevin Donnelly is on a veritable crusade against what he thinks is poisoning our teaching institutions, weakening our economy, and even sapping our ability to think clearly,” says Credlin.

“[His] latest work is full of telling examples of the cultural self-doubt that we need to recognise and resist.”

Donnelly remains optimistic, but is very aware of the potential dangers that can stem from political correctness. As he likes to quote from George Orwell’s 1984; “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

“It used to be I think, therefore I am,” says Donnelly. “Now it’s I feel, therefore I’m right. They’re not coming from a rational, critical aware point of view, it’s just emotion.

“And that’s the danger, once arguments are reduced to emotion, you’re on the short road to totalitarianism.”


Australia: Football league defends divisive new TV ad after fans slammed its 'politically correct' focus on Indigenous issues and gay marriage

The NRL has defended its controversial new TV campaign featuring Tina Turner after fans slammed the ad for its 'political correctness' and embarrassing blunders.

NRL chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo said the commercial is not intended to be political and showcases highlight moments for the game over the past 30 years.

The two minute ad divided rugby league fans and sent social media into meltdown when it aired for the first time on Monday night, 11 days out from the start of the season.

Fans criticised the ad for being too being politicised after scenes of Latrell Mitchell draped in an Aboriginal flag and the famous footage of women's State of Origin couple Karina Brown and Vanessa Foliaki kissing after a match last year.

US rapper Macklemore's pre-match tribute to same-sex marriage at the 2017 Grand Final is also featured - as fans criticised his inclusion given his tenuous association with rugby league.

Mr Abdo stood firm, telling the Sydney Morning Herald the campaign was a showcase of the code's proud history.

'We’re not forcing anyone to believe in one thing or another,' he said. 'Those events have happened. Latrell is a superstar for us, Macklemore performed at the grand final in a moment we were really proud of. That brought our fans together and his performance was great.

'This campaign is not intended to be political. It’s a showcase of our history; our people, our events that shaped where we are today. The intent of the campaign is to embrace what’s happened in the last 30 years, but also to give a nostalgic feeling for people who are new to the game to understand the moments that have mattered so they can feel part of it.'



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


11 March, 2020  

The 1619 Project’s Outrageous, Lying Slander of Abe Lincoln

The New York Times’ 1619 Project has aimed at nothing less than a revolutionary reinterpretation of the entirety of U.S. history, “re-centering” African Americans as the sole banner-carriers of America’s principles, even as they have been ruthlessly smashed down, enslaved, and obliterated from memory by more numerous and more powerful whites.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison come in for bashing. So does Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln? Jefferson and Madison, we know, were slave owners. But Lincoln? The author of the Emancipation Proclamation?

In project leader Nikole Hannah-Jones’ verdict, Lincoln, too, is guilty, largely because of one incident. In August 1862, Lincoln invited a committee of black men to the White House. He read to them a prepared statement, urging them to recruit volunteers for colonization outside the United States.

Colonization meant that once freed, former slaves would have to relocate, preferably for a reservation Congress would purchase in Central America.

On those terms, Lincoln appeared to be asking the once-oppressed to volunteer to remove themselves from the place where they had been oppressed, so their oppressors could breathe more freely. “He believed,” adds Hannah-Jones, “that free black people were a ‘troublesome presence’ incompatible with a democracy intended only for white people.”

Some emancipation, right?

But emancipation is exactly what was hiding behind Lincoln’s colonization statement, although the subtlety of that moment, in the complex political currents of the Civil War, seems to have eluded the 1619 Project.

No president before Lincoln ever dared hint at putting an end to American slavery. Lincoln, however, had never made any secret of his anti-slavery convictions. “I am naturally anti-slavery,” he said. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think, and feel.”

But he also knew that, as president, he had no power to act unilaterally—until the slaveholding states gave it to him by triggering a civil war. Even then, Northerners like Robert Bennett Forbes, who detested slavery, were also terrified that freed slaves would demand “all the privileges of citizenship” and “tax the working community by lowering wages” among whites.

Colonization served as the great tranquilizer of white anxiety. ­Beginning in 1816, with the founding of the American Colonization Society, opponents of slavery sugarcoated the idea of emancipation for suspicious whites by promising that freed slaves would be no threat, because they would be gone.

This attracted fierce ­denunciations from free blacks and white abolitionists. But it also drew fury from Southern slaveholders, who saw colonization as a ploy to mobilize Northern opinion against slavery. Colonization, raved the pro-slavery advocate Edmund Ruffin, will only serve “to promote new emancipations.”

Lincoln’s colonization project was, as the English observer Frederick Milnes Edge wrote in 1863, “adopted to silence the weak-nerved, whose name is ­legion.”

This is why Lincoln not only invited the African American “committee” to hear his statement, but also the Washington press corps—so that his ­solicitation for colonization volunteers could be read in the newspapers. Meanwhile, he would have the Emancipation Proclamation in his desk, ready for release, little more than a month later.

In the end, Lincoln only sanctioned one small-scale colonization project, to the Haitian island of Île-à-Vache, and then canceled it after eight months of dreary failure. After that, according to Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay, the president “sloughed off that idea” once and for all as a “hideous & barbarous humbug.”

By then, the Emancipation Proclamation was in full operation, and Lincoln had authorized the arming of black soldiers—and without any mention of colonization. A year and a half later, he was calling for black voting rights, and Frederick Douglass would hail him as “emphatically the colored man’s president.”

Not a single reference to this fierce environment appears in the 1619 Project, which would be akin to explaining the New Deal without a word about the Great Depression.

History—and journalism—are supposed to ask as many questions as the subject demands. But questions are ­exactly what the 1619 Project fails to ask about Abraham Lincoln—and about our history.


More on the defenestration of a truth-teller

A former head of Britain’s equalities watchdog has been suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of Islamophobia, claiming his vocal criticism of the party for antisemitism led to the action.

Trevor Phillips, an anti-racism campaigner who previously chaired the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), faces an investigation and could be expelled from the party.

The Times reported that he is being investigated over past comments including remarks on Pakistani Muslim men sexually abusing children in northern British towns.

Mr Phillips was among 24 public figures who last year declared their refusal to vote for the Labour Party because of its association with antisemitism.

The EHRC is investigating the Labour Party over claims it failed to tackle its antisemitism problem, and is due to issue its report in the summer.

In a letter to the Guardian in November, the group said the path to a more tolerant society “must encompass Britain’s Jews with unwavering solidarity” and said Jeremy Corbyn has “a long record of embracing antisemites as comrades”.

Mr Phillips told The Times there was no suggestion that he has done anything unlawful and “no one inside or outside the Labour Party has ever suggested that I have broken any rules”.

Writing in an opinion piece for the paper, Mr Phillips said: “If this is how Labour treats its own family, how might it treat its real opponents if it ever gains power again?

“It would be a tragedy if, at the very moment we most need a robust and effective opposition, our nation had to endure the spectacle of a great party collapsing into a brutish, authoritarian cult.”

He added that some will see the action as “as payback by Corbynistas for public criticisms I made of the leadership’s failure to tackle antisemitism in the party. Another possibility is that it’s an attempt to scare the EHRC Commission, which I used to lead and which is investigating Labour’s handling of antisemitism.”

A Jewish Labour Movement Spokesperson: “We await the outcomes of Labour’s leadership election and the EHRC investigation before we can begin to take the Labour Party’s disciplinary process seriously. We need the fully independent process to which all leadership candidates have committed to implement.”


Brooklyn DA defends no-bail decision on illegal immigrant charged with rape

Brooklyn prosecutors on Wednesday defended their decision not to seek bail for an illegal immigrant charged with raping a 13-year-old girl when he was 19 — describing it as “a sexual relationship.”

“The case was reported by the girl’s mother, alleging that her daughter had a sexual relationship with an older teenager, which constituted statutory rape,” a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office said.

“Accordingly, we did not request bail for this nonviolent felony that allegedly took place a year-and-a-half ago.”

Guatemalan national Miguel Federico Ajqui-Ajtzalam, now 20, was arrested Thursday and hit with charges including second-degree rape for allegedly having sex with the girl on five occasions between October and December 2018.

At Ajqui-Ajtzalam’s arraignment Friday, Assistant District Attorney Jordan Rossman said that she was just 13 at the time and he was 19 — but described the alleged victim as “the defendant’s ex-girlfriend.”

“This case has been reviewed by senior prosecutors in our Special Victims Bureau, and they are recommending supervised release,” Rossman told Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Hilary Gingold, ­according to a transcript of the proceedings.

Gingold ultimately agreed to ­allow Ajqui-Ajtzalam out on ­supervised release. But she noted that while it was technically alleged statutory rape, “I don’t think a 13-year-old can consent, legally or otherwise, to sex.”

She also seemed troubled to learn that the city’s Administration for Children’s Services had not been notified of the case.

“I believe that ACS should be contacted,” Gingold said. “If this child is not in a safe home that allowed this to happen, that should be an investigation as well.”

The prosecutors’ descriptions of the alleged crime appalled advocates for victims. “A 13-year-old is a child,” said Jane Manning, director of the Women’s Equality Justice Project and a former Queens sex-crimes prosecutor.

“It’s beyond disturbing to hear a prosecutor referring to her as an ‘ex-girlfriend’ instead of a ‘child victim of rape,’ which is what she is.”

“Ongoing sexual abuse of a ­13-year-old is not a ‘relationship’ as the prosecutor called it,” she said. “It’s a crime.”

Ajqui-Ajtzalam was taken into custody by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday.

But the agency said it was “frightening” that “he was released onto New York City streets to possibly re-offend” in the first place.


Racism for Revenue? Late-Night's Incendiary 'Comedy'

C-minus Comedians at “Saturday Night Live” took it upon themselves to lob jokes at black conservatives who attended a White House Black History gathering. Trump supporters came together in faith and fellowship around the leader of the free world, but SNL cast member Chris Redd labeled us as “White House Negroes” as white audience members roared in laughter.

What does it say about the state of our society that we are comfortable enough to openly ridicule black people for exercising the very freedoms we fought for? What does it mean to fight for emancipation and the right to vote when our vote is restricted to a particular party?

Pastor Marc Little lashed out at SNL for the tone-deaf commentary about black conservatives attending the event. In his words, a few leftist comedians “don’t get to determine who is black.”

But I guess racist commentary under the guise of humor is perfectly okay when a black comedian hurls incendiary comments to entertain a white audience. SNL, you sly dog, you.

Sadly, this is nothing new. Americans remember a time when black people were restricted from voting, threatened to support a particular candidate, and even ridiculed and assaulted for exercising their fundamental rights as citizens of this great nation.

Fun fact — I was there in what would have been my second visit to the White House, among conservatives of all colors and backgrounds in a united effort to pray for our president. But it wasn’t to pray for the “ghost of blackface past,” as Redd entertains. (Yes, he really did say this.)

Instead, what I prayed for was this:

I prayed for an America that is truly tolerant of a diversity not of skin color but of ideas.

I asked God to grant President Donald Trump greater insight on the needs of the most vulnerable, but to also prioritize Liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.

I acknowledged the presence of our Lord and Savior, that he would strengthen our efforts to affirm life and rebuke evil and lawlessness.

So we’ll continue to pray for our president and our country as it stands today, or else we’ll be praying to return to a free society tomorrow. Meanwhile, the cast and producers of SNL should start praying for better ratings should racism be their source of showtime revenue.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


10 March, 2020

The Muslim Migrant Attack in St. Louis You Heard Nothing About

St. Louis resident Alicia Clarke says she feels as if she has been “failed by the system” and is now “not feeling safe,” and she has good reason to feel this way. After she was savagely beaten and stabbed by her neighbor, her attacker walked free. The court considered it decisive that he has an IQ of 49. He is also a Muslim migrant, which may explain both the reluctance to prosecute him and the scant and incomplete coverage this incident has received.

St. Louis’ KSDK reported Monday that Clarke went out for a run near her home; when she returned, her cell phone was missing. Tracking it with Find My iPhone to her neighbor’s backyard, she went to get it, and told her neighbor, “I know you did this and I’m calling the police!” At that point the neighbor, whom KSDK describes only as a “6-foot teen,” attacked her.

“He knocked me down, pulling my hair, kicking,” Clarke recounted. When he finally stopped the attack, Clarke called the police. But then he returned: “I am on the phone with St. Louis police dispatch,” she said, “making my way to my backdoor, when he comes back with a weapon. He is on top of me. There was blood everywhere. I was literally fighting for my life at that point.”

The neighbor stabbed Clarke in the head and face with a screwdriver. Finally she was able to get away, and the thug was arrested. But after that, Clarke was assaulted again, this time by the criminal justice system. A juvenile court quickly dismissed the case against her attacker. “The most hurtful thing of all of this, is the dropped charges,” said Clarke. “That was much more hurtful than the physical assault.”

According to KSDK, “a juvenile court official said a staff attorney dropped the case before even going to the judge. The courts weren’t able to comment specifically on this incident, since it involves a juvenile. Clarke said she was told her accused attacker was found incompetent to aid in his own defense because he has an IQ of 49.”

No wonder Clarke feels as if she has been failed by the system.

And it gets worse. Alicia Clarke’s sister, Andrea Clarke Flatley, wrote on Facebook that the attacker gave his sister a broken nose, and that Alicia Clarke now also has “staples in her head and stitches to the puncture wound under her eye” as a result of the attack. Flatley noted that the attacker, whom she named as Hassan, “is a 15 year old refugee from Somalia who lives with his family. He is 6’ and approx 175lbs, much larger than my sister. He has broken into Alicia’s car 3 different times and broken into another neighbor’s house. The police were involved every single time and reported that nothing could be done since he was a minor. Surely this time would be different, though.”

It wasn’t. Because Hassan has an IQ is 49, he was found incompetent to defend himself. The prosecutor in charge of the case, Sakina Ahmad, then formally dismissed the charges. Said Flatley: “We never entered a courtroom, saw a judge, nothing. Hassan was able to go home with a family member. He likely left the building as a free person before we even learned all the above information.”

Flatley added: “The prosecutor sympathized with our frustration and explained that because he is a mentally handicapped, juvenile refugee, every safeguard available is to his benefit and to Alicia’s detriment. She went on to tell us, VERBATIM, that even if Alicia had been KILLED, the outcome would be the same and that this case would be dismissed.”

She noted later, however, that “it only took the kid 4 days to violate the restraining order” and that “SLMPD and SWAT stormed his house and took him back into custody.”

That’s good, but it doesn’t change the fact that  Alicia Clarke was failed not only by law enforcement authorities, but also by the establishment media. The KSDK story contains no hint of the fact that the attacker was a Muslim migrant. It was left to the victim’s sister to reveal that on Facebook. It is clear from KSDK’s refusal to note this detail, which could be important to the case in establishing motive or in other ways, that Muslim migrants are a protected class in America today, at least among the media elites. The establishment media avoids reporting on anything that might reflect poorly upon them.

Was a concern to protect the image of migrants also part of the authorities’ considerations in dismissing the case? That’s what the KSDK reporters should have been asking. Instead, they completely whitewashed that aspect of the story. They seem more interested in fostering complacency regarding mass migration than in anything else, including reporting the news.


Mainline Churches Decline While American Christianity Grows

With mainline denominational churches in America continuing to decline in size and number, is this a sign that the U.S. population is becoming more secular and less religious? According to recent data from Pew Research, the answer actually appears to be no. Even as mainline churches have declined, nondenominational churches have experienced significant growth. In 1998, the number of nondenominational churches in the U.S. was 54,000; by 2012 the number had increased by 42% to 84,000.

To what should we attribute both the decline in mainline churches and the growth in nondenominational churches? The answer to the first question appears to be in large part related to generational changes. As the expectations and demands of a younger generation of society changes, people’s expectations and demands for churches change as well. Older denominational models that fail to adapt and reach out invariably lose people.

As Wheaton College professor Ed Stetzer observes, “Sometimes churches die, and sometimes they should. A new church, not a reboot of the old, should be started in its place.”

Writer Ericka Andersen argues, “The leaders taking Mr. Stetzer’s advice generally focus on creating churches that cater to specific needs. There is a church exclusively for employees of Disney World. Spanish-language services are more popular than ever. ‘House churches,’ composed of neighbors meeting for informal services — usually in living rooms — are on the rise as well. Popular Christian leaders like Francis Chan, a former megachurch pastor who now advocates house churches, offer free training for this model.”

However, within the changing American church landscape an obvious tension is raised; how much can the form and practice of a church change without the core faith message being compromised? One need look no further than former Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who declared that his openly homosexual lifestyle was completely compatible with his declared Christian faith. In fact, Buttigieg went so far as to declare that anyone holding to the historic and biblically consistent sexual ethic was at odds with being a “loving Christian.”

So, while it’s true that Christian denominationalism is on the decline and nondenominationalism is on the rise, this may only be viewed as either a positive or a negative development depending on whether this change is leading people to the worship of God in Spirit and Truth. Since humankind is inherently religious by nature, that the American religious and church landscape is changing should come as little surprise. The more important consideration is what these changes reveal about what Americans are seeking to worship. Are more Americans moving toward worshipping a god who comports with their own imaginations and desires or are they responding in genuine faith, seeking to worship God as He has revealed Himself through the Son according to the Scriptures?


Former equalities watchdog boss Trevor Phillips is SUSPENDED from the British Labour Party over Islamophobia

Antisemitism good; Islamophobia bad?

A former head of the country's equalities watchdog has been suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of Islamophobia.

Trevor Phillips, an anti-racism campaigner who previously chaired the Equality and Human Rights Commission, faces an investigation and could be expelled from the party.

He was among a group of 24 public figures who last year declared their refusal to vote for the Labour Party because of its association with anti-Semitism.

However, The Times reported that he is now being investigated over past comments, some of which date back years, including remarks on Pakistani Muslim men sexually abusing children in northern British towns.

The report also cited other comments by Mr Phillips about the failure of some Muslims to wear poppies for Remembrance Sunday.

It is also thought other remarks included the issue of the sympathy shown by some in an opinion poll towards the motives of the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

However, since receiving news of the suspension Mr Phillips has penned a column for The Times on Monday in which he questions the motivation behind the sanction and accuses Labour bosses of 'political gangsterism'.

Labour officials have reportedly drawn up a draft 'charge sheet' that accuses Mr Phillips of using language 'which targets or intimidates members of ethnic or religious communities, or incites racism, including Islamophobia'.

The Times reports that the allegations cite extracts from a 2016 pamphlet Mr Phillips wrote which contained the statement, 'The most sensitive cause of conflict in recent years has been the collision between majority norms and the behaviours of some Muslim groups.

'In particular, the exposure of systematic and longstanding abuse by men, mostly of Pakistani Muslim origin in the north of England.'

He went on to describe a visit to an industrial site where many African and eastern European immigrants worked but noticed a marked difference in those who were planning to mark Remembrance Sunday.

He wrote,  'Poppies were everywhere. One group had clearly adapted to the mainstream, the other had not.'

In 2016, The Times quoted Mr Phillips referring to 'the unacknowledged creation of a nation within the nation, with its own geography, its own values and its own very separate future'.

The new report said many of his statements date back years but that Labour's general secretary Jennie Formby suspended him as a matter of urgency to 'protect the party's reputation'.

In a letter to the Guardian in November, a group of public figures decided to take a stand against allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

They said the path to a more tolerant society 'must encompass Britain's Jews with unwavering solidarity'.

They also accused party leader Jeremy Corbyn of having 'a long record of embracing anti-Semites as comrades'.

Mr Phillips told The Times there was no suggestion that he has done anything unlawful and 'no one inside or outside the Labour Party has ever suggested that I have broken any rules'.

And in a column for The Times on Monday, he described how he was shocked when he received news of his suspension and it suspicious of the motives behind it.

Mr Phillips wrote, 'Significantly, my indictment concerns matters of faith, doctrine and dissent.

'It is written, not in the language of a democratic, open political movement but in the cold-eyed, accusatory prose of the zealot.

'In essence, after more than 30 years of promoting the Labour cause, I am accused of heresy, and threatened with excommunication.'

He added, 'So what accounts for this extraordinary turn of events? Some will see it as payback by Corbynistas for public criticisms I made of the leadership's failure to tackle antisemitism in the party.

'Another possibility is that it's an attempt to scare the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which I used to lead and which is investigating Labour's handling of antisemitism.

'Weaponising Islamophobia to attack political opponents may seem like clever tactics but trying to intimidate a legally independent organisation is pure political gangsterism.' 

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: 'The Labour Party takes all complaints about Islamophobia extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.'


Progressive warfare on economics

Comment from Australia

There’s a concerted effort to shift the focus of economics away from financial data towards social. Specifically, it’s argued that economic welfare would be better measured by our individual and collective ‘wellbeing’ than by the GDP (the value of goods and services produced in the economy).

Would-be Treasurer under a Labor government, Jim Chalmers, has thrown his support behind this idea, praising New Zealand’s ‘wellbeing budget’. He promises a two-pronged assault: first, to supplant GDP’s primacy with a more holistic measure of wellbeing; second, to weigh up budget decisions in terms of social objectives — rather than economic merits.

Chalmers argues that alternatives to GDP would instead “measure what matters” and “redefine what success means in terms of economic outcomes.”

To better measure a country’s progress, the Kiwis now monitor levels of (among others) loneliness, belonging, mental resilience, and digital inclusiveness — all supposedly more important than money. The marker of success for NZ, then, is moving the needle on these indicators, irrespective of the economics — implying that a happier society is better off than a more prosperous one.

Where this comes from is a pessimistic view that, despite nearly 30 years of economic growth, Australia supposedly hasn’t enjoyed social progress —we’re apparently all living miserably.

It’s important to understand this isn’t supported by the economic data or social indicators. First, as the Productivity Commission argued, income inequality has not significantly worsened in Australia.

Second, according to the OECD’s Better Life Index, Australia scores the second highest of any country in the world. And we are sixth on the UN’s Human Development Index — which includes both economic and other factors — and on an upward trend.

Not to forget that economic factors are themselves important indicators of the health of a society.

Indeed, focussing on social indicators rather than economic growth leads to policymakers treating the symptoms rather than the cause of social problems — many of which stem from, or are exacerbated by, adverse economic outcomes.

In short, healthy economies breed healthy societies — and the progressives are wrong about the direction of this causation.

Social progress and cohesion are important policy goals, but prioritising these over broader economic goals would be counterproductive. It also distorts fiscal policy decisions by evaluating spending proposals on the basis of their direct social impact; not financial prudence, or in context of the macroeconomic stability lever that has been the convention.

We can’t afford for economic priorities and progress to be derailed by progressive social policy — especially with the vulnerabilities of today’s economy.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


9 March, 2020

A Quick Refresher on Legal Immigration—and Its Impact on the U.S. Economy

According to White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the United States is “desperate” for more immigrants—those who come here legally, that is. In Mulvaney’s words: “We are desperate—desperate—for more people. We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.”

The one caveat? That they come here in a “legal fashion.”

Mulvaney’s on to something. We do need to welcome more immigrants to come here through the proper channels. Economic growth is dependent on it.

In fact, the United States would not be the United States, as we know it, without the contributions of legal immigrants. From starting new businesses to working late hours, those immigrants are an integral component of the American workplace. And, by extension, legal immigration is an integral component of the U.S. economy.

Let’s go through the numbers. America is home to over 44 million immigrants—more than any other country in the world. That’s roughly equivalent to the entire population of Argentina or Ukraine. In fact, U.S. immigration accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants in any given year.

This begs the question: How many immigrants are here legally?

Short answer: An overwhelming majority. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of immigrants in the country are legal immigrants. That means tens of millions of people.

While much of today’s political discourse focuses on “illegal immigration” and talking points like “border security” (and, often, for good reason), it is simply shortsighted to assume that most immigrants are here illegally and need to be deported. Most people who come to our shores follow the rules, wait in line, and become law-abiding citizens—wherever they happen to migrate.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but the rule is this: America’s immigrant experience is by and large a positive one.

This is especially true in economic terms. Between 1990 and 2014, U.S. immigrants have contributed about 15 percent of the country’s total economic growth. Part of the reason is that immigrants are generally of working-age (between ages 16 and 64), coming here to find jobs and earn a living. Over the past two decades, foreign-born people have accounted for roughly half of the U.S. labor force’s growth.

America’s job creators are increasingly reliant on the immigrant workforce to fill talent gaps. Nearly three-quarters of employers report that the ability to obtain work visas in a timely, predictable, and flexible way is critical to their business goals.

What is more, immigrants aren’t just working nine-to-five jobs; they are disproportionately represented among the entrepreneurial class. From 1995 to 2005, immigrant entrepreneurs and their children founded or co-founded more than 25 percent of America’s technology and engineering companies—from Google to Yahoo! Immigrants are more likely than their non-immigrant counterparts to secure a patent and launch a start-up.

In this way (among others), immigrants and non-immigrants work together to power the U.S. economy into the future. Their interests are not necessarily at odds.

Take Jerry Yang, a Taiwanese immigrant who co-founded Yahoo alongside American businessman David Filo. Their idea created thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs—jobs for immigrants and non-immigrants alike. But those jobs never would have existed without Yang. If he had never come to the United States, he wouldn’t have made thousands of Americans better off.

That’s just one example—one tiny drop in a vast ocean of immigrant contributions. I’m proud to be an immigrant myself, doing my own small part to make American society a better place. My parents brought me here as a child from former Yugoslavia, with few tangible resources but an eagerness to live the American Dream. Fast forward to today, and they live it every single day. America was kind to us, just as it has been for millions of other immigrants.

That is a tradition to cherish. America’s immigrant experience is worth celebrating. The more legal immigrants we welcome here, the better off our country will be.

As Mick Mulvaney said, immigrants can indeed “fuel economic growth.” But, in truth, they contribute much more—immigrants make America, well, America.


Reassessing Stop, Question, and Frisk

In 1986, the Supreme Court granted limited approval to police officers to stop, question, and frisk if the officer believes a person to be dangerous. (Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc./Getty Images)

Before former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his hat into the 2020 presidential race, he defended the New York Police Department’s use of “stop, question, and frisk” policing.

At the U.S. Naval Academy’s 2019 Leadership Conference, Bloomberg said: “We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system … kids who walked around looking like they might have a gun, remove the gun from their pockets and stop it.”

He claimed that as a result of his policy, New York’s murder rate fell from 650 a year to 300 the year he left office.

In the cases of Terry v. Ohio, Sibron v. New York, and Peters v. New York, the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1968, granted limited approval to officers to stop, question, and frisk, even though they lacked probable cause for an arrest, if the officer believed the subject to be dangerous.

The high court’s decision made suspicion of danger to an officer grounds for a “reasonable search.”

The stop, question, and frisk policy has taken on racial overtones because most of the people stopped are black men. Let’s look at the numbers.

Last year, NYPD data showed that 93% of suspects arrested for murder were black or Hispanic. Ninety-six percent of those nabbed for shootings were also minorities. Eighty-eight percent of New York City’s homicide victims were black or Hispanic, as were 96% of shooting victims.

Although these percentages have been roughly the same for decades, New York police have brought the absolute number of crimes, including homicides, way down from its 1990 peak at 2,245 to 289 homicides in 2018.

Since blacks and Hispanics are the major victims of homicide, as a result of the NYPD’s proactive response to crime, possibly tens of thousands of blacks are living today who otherwise would be dead.

For a law-abiding black person to be stopped, questioned, and frisked—in a word or two, be racially profiled—is truly insulting. However, to analyze the policy, let’s look at the origins of racial profiling or any other kind of profiling.

First of all, police officers are neither mind readers nor are they equipped with X-ray vision. That means good policing requires learning how to use an easily observed physical characteristic as a guess or proxy for some other difficult-to-observe characteristic.

Thus, the reason officials profile is that information is costly and they seek methods to economize on information costs. One way to do that is through profiling.

The reality is that race and other behavioral characteristics are correlated, including criminal behavior. That fact does not dispel the insult, embarrassment, anger, and hurt a law-abiding black person might feel when being stopped by police, being watched in stores, being passed by taxi drivers, standing at traffic lights, hearing car door locks activated, or being refused delivery by merchants who fear for their safety in the black person’s neighborhood.

Bloomberg is a politician in pursuit of his own agenda. President Donald Trump is also a politician in pursuit of his own agenda. Both will deny their support for and talk down the policy of stop, question, and frisk in an effort to curry favor with black voters.

Most Bloomberg and Trump supporters don’t live under the horrible conditions that so many blacks live under in high-crime cities like Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. Black people must ask what needs to be done to stop criminals from preying on them and making so many of their communities economic wastelands.

If stop, question, and frisk can contribute to that goal, so be it. They need not listen to politicians, academics, talking heads on the news, and others.

I’ll add that even if the police, intimidated by leftists, are not doing their job to safeguard black residents in high-crime communities, that doesn’t mean that black people should not organize to take independent measures to protect themselves.


Once again antisemitism leaks out from the British Left

Labour has launched an anti-Semitism investigation after a deputy leadership contender was branded a “Mossad agent” by party members after stating that he was proud to have received support from Jewish activists.

Ian Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South, has reported a torrent of abuse directed at him after he emailed Labour Party members last month asking for their support.

In his message, Mr Murray, a Labour moderate backed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said he was proud to have received the endorsement of the Jewish Labour Movement and intended to “tackle the stain of anti-Semitism”.

However, his comments provoked a series of highly abusive responses, including claims that “Jews thought they owned the Labour Party” and that he was working on behalf of the Israeli intelligence agency.


Women Excel in the Trump Era

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation last week recognizing Women’s History Month in March. “My administration,” he wrote, “is committed to empowering all women across the Nation and around the world to continue pursuing their dreams and lifting humanity to new heights. As president, I have championed policies that create economic prosperity and opportunity, enabling women to thrive as workers, parents, consumers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors.”

This sounds like standard presidential lip service, but with one big difference: The Trump administration has real statistics to back up his claims.

For example, during his first year in office, the president directed $200 million in technology education grants to women and minorities in order to promote tech-based careers and resolve the concern over gender inequality in that industry. And let’s not forget this president’s support for the pro-life movement. Trump has a stellar record of appointing pro-life judges, has boldly condemned legislation that allows abortion throughout pregnancy, and earlier this year became the first president to attend the March for Life.

As for those parents already with children, Trump and the Republican Congress expanded the child tax credit in his first year, which doubled the per-child credit for middle-income families.

And with likely Democrat nominee Joe Biden already having pledged to eliminate Trump’s tax cuts for families, we’ll have a clear contrast between a pro-family president and an anti-family challenger.

What else has the Trump administration done for women’s progress?

In 2019, first daughter Ivanka Trump revealed the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. Joanne Lu writes that the program “aims to get all U.S. foreign assistance agencies — including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Peace Corps and six others — to give top priority to push for women’s economic development.” In addition, “it sets up a $50 million fund for USAID to invest in new programs that can help make it easier for women to find jobs, start their own businesses and do business.”

Sure, these policies all sound good, but are there real numbers to back up Trump’s efforts?

One of the more noteworthy developments during Trump’s first term is the significant drop in female unemployment. As of this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate for women is at 3.5%, the lowest number since 1953. The bureau also reports that the U.S. economy has not only added more than four million jobs for women since Trump’s election, but also more than 58% of the 7.1 million jobs added have gone to women.

All this makes for an impressive record to run on in November — especially with suburban women, a constituency that went strongly for Democrats in the 2018 midterms.


High drama and even higher stakes: it’s the moment of truth for Cardinal Pell

His Eminence was given no benefit of the doubt at all.  He was convicted for the sins of his church, not for anything he personally did

It is a measure of George Pell’s lot that he finds himself in notionally better surrounds but not necessarily better company.

The cardinal, still Australia’s most senior Catholic, will monitor next week’s High Court developments while in isolation in his ­relatively new home at Victoria’s maximum-security Barwon Prison, near Geelong.

Barwon is a hole that swallowed gangland murderer Carl Williams but it’s not quite as deep as Pell’s former holding cell in the centre of Melbourne.

Pell, 78, now has more room to move, with a more modern but still austere toilet, shower and general living facilities. He is served shoddy food and his main human contact is with the prison guards who bring him his medication for twin heart conditions.

It remains a life of deprivation.

Given his convictions, most people will be happy with Pell’s plight. For others who have followed the facts of the case closely, including the brightest minds in the law, next week’s High Court appeal will be a significant moment in Australian legal history.

There are deep divisions about whether Pell should even be in jail.

“If you look at all of the case law about unreasonable verdicts, it’s (the Pell convictions) right on the borderline of what’s reasonable and what isn’t,’’ Sydney University academic Andrew Dyer told ­Inquirer.

Dyer, who has co-authored a paper on the Pell case with the university’s Professor David Hamer, is not predicting in any way how the High Court will act. Nor is anyone else with any certainty.

But the paper, published in the Sydney Law Review, makes clear what many independent voices suspect: Pell’s convictions may be flawed.

Dyer and Hamer write that it appears open to the High Court to overturn the Pell verdicts on the basis of the cumulative effect of the evidence, but they doubt the court will make this finding.

They express concern about the impact that rejection of the Pell decision would have on the standing of juries.

Dyer and Hamer’s views are not black and white. They also make clear that the law allows for convictions based largely or solely on the complainant’s evidence and a different tack would “undermine the prohibition against child ­sexual assault’’.

This is a tick to the prosecution’s heavy reliance on the surviving choirboy, whose evidence was central to the Pell convictions.

In the paper, however, Dyer and Hamer note that key aspects of the evidence regarding Pell pointed to no opportunity to ­offend against A, the surviving ­victim, and B, another choirboy who died of a drug overdose.

“Once we also consider the ­inconsistencies in A’s account ­(however understandable), the unlikelihood that Pell would take such risks and B’s and Pell’s denials, it becomes apparent that a reasonable jury might not have convicted,’’ they write.

“Indeed, the case seems close to the borderline between one where the jury was entitled to return a guilty verdict, and one where it should have had a doubt.’’

On Wednesday, five or seven members of the High Court will gather in Canberra to decide Pell’s fate. Dyer thinks there will be seven but we probably won’t know until Tuesday afternoon.

The High Court will determine whether the Victorian Court of Appeal erred when it decided, 2:1 last year, that the County Court jury was within its rights to convict Pell of five sexual assault charges that occurred in the priests’ sacristy at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and in a corridor in 1997.

Or whether there should have been a reasonable doubt.

Central to deliberations is whether belief in the complainant, now a family man in early middle age, could be used as a basis for eliminating doubt raised by other witnesses, several of whom were highly credible.

Pell’s submissions asked: “Was it open to the jury to find the ­offending proven beyond reasonable doubt?’’

As one well-informed observer noted this week, of all the charges that were filed against Pell, the ­cathedral claims were among the most difficult and even unlikely to have progressed to any court.

Those with deep understanding of the cathedral, Catholic rituals and Pell’s practices are incredulous that the archbishop could ever have been left alone for the five or six minutes upon which he was convicted of forced oral sex and other abuses.

It was not uncommon in that period for literally hundreds of people to gather after Solemn Mass, the numbers bolstered by busloads of Taiwanese tourists who swarmed into the cathedral.

Justice Mark Weinberg, the former Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, was the dissenting voice at the Court of Appeal, arguing that aspects of A’s evidence lacked the necessary weight. But on A’s side were ­Justice Anne Ferguson and Justice Chris Maxwell, as were the County Court jury, Victoria Police and the prosecution.

Jeremy Gans, a professor of law at Melbourne University, said it would be most unlikely if any decision were to be made next week, with the court sitting on Wednesday and possibly Thursday.

There are four options for how the court hearings may unfold.

The court could decide not to hear the appeal and end Pell’s chances of being freed early. Special leave could be granted to hear the appeal and the appeal is rejected. And special leave could be granted and the appeal is allowed.

The fourth option is that special leave is granted and the case is sent back to the Court of Appeal with three different judges.

The latter would be awkward for all, but mostly Pell, who would have to wait months more to know whether freedom was a genuine prospect for him.

One technicality is over whether the Court of Appeal appropriately used video evidence to come to its conclusion. Gans believes the only way Pell would walk next week would be if the court ruled on the spot. Even so: “I still reckon they’d wait.’’

Mirko Bagaric, dean of law at Swinburne University, notes the difficulty in predictions but says the High Court may opt for a ­narrow, contained judgment.

“The court ultimately will have to grapple with the issue about whether or not the jury verdict was reasonable,’’ he said. “It’s impossible to anticipate.’’

The prosecution’s submissions are firm in their view that the jury decision should not be overturned. The first County Court jury failed to reach a verdict; the second convicted. In a submission lodged by Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd, the prosecution argues: “It (the jury) is best placed to decide matters of credibility and reliability. The jury has the benefit of being able to deliberate as a group in private throughout the trial. And its decisions are subject to the discipline generated by the requirement of unanimity or a very high majority.’’

The prosecution also argues that Team Pell glosses over the quality of the evidence provided by A, who correctly identified the ­location of the first offending and correctly described the layout of the priests’ sacristy.

It calls into question the so-called “alibi’’ evidence provided by key witnesses. But overshadowing this is the fact that Weinberg, the legal expert on the Court of Appeal, effectively raised the spectre in his dissenting judgment of an innocent man having been wrongly convicted. Weinberg observed: “These convictions were based upon the jury’s assessment of the complainant as a witness and nothing more.’’

Further, he was damning of the conviction of Pell on the final charge, which was that in 1997 the then archbishop assaulted A in front of others, grabbing him on the testicles in front of dozens.

“I would have thought any prosecutor would be wary of bringing a charge of this gravity against anyone based upon the ­implausible notion that a sexual ­assault of this kind would take place in public and in the presence of numerous potential witnesses,’’ Weinberg ruled.

The final element of the High Court deliberations is expected to relate to the way the Court of ­Appeal assessed A’s evidence, which was videotaped.

The court, The Australian reported last month, was weighing the importance of viewing A’s testimony compared with reading the transcript.

A technical point is being considered by the High Court over what the Court of Appeal should have viewed by way of video evidence and whether, chiefly, the Court of Appeal should have strayed from the trial transcript.

Team Pell had argued that no matter how favourable the view was of A, it was not open to the jury to conclude the prosecution had eliminated all reasonable doubt. This is in the context of the combined effect of the unchallenged evidence of other witnesses.

While apparently a technical point, it could become significant if the High Court believes that the majority Court of Appeal judges went too far in their use of the video evidence.

Pell himself, meanwhile, will have no idea what is happening on Wednesday.

The proceedings will not be livestreamed outside the court and he will have to wait, probably until each night, when he may have the opportunity to telephone someone who was at the High Court for a briefing.

Maybe even his lead silk, Bret Walker, SC, depending on whether he is on the cardinal’s limited telephone list.

Regardless of the outcome, the assessment of Pell’s guilt or innocence will resonate for years.

His supporters and a fair slab of the legal community are questioning whether the jury and the ­majority on the Court of Appeal got it right.

Within sections of the Catholic Church there is a strong view that the maths don’t add up.

How could one of the busier parts of Melbourne on a Sunday morning be the site for such depraved acts? More broadly, if Pell is acquitted, it will provoke one of the ­fiercest debates in the history of Australian law and order, and ­religion.

The best hope is that the facts are allowed to tell the full story.

As we’ve been told repeatedly, it doesn’t matter what you might think of the man. But it matters if an innocent man has been jailed.

The Pell critics will get another chance to dance on his reputational grave after the High Court has finished.

That will come when the redacted sections of the sex abuse royal commission are finally released by the Morrison government.

Like so many pronouncements about Pell in recent years, they are unlikely to be kind.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


8 March, 2020  

Bringing up boys

There are a number of guides to bringing up boys -- from whole books to the brief summary below

Also worth mention is "Bringing Up Boys" by James C. Dobson

and "Raising Boys In The Twenty-First Century" by Steve Biddulph

There are also a number of articles from mothers and others that range from realistic to feminist nonsense

What I want to emphasize is that a lot will depend on the average boy.  There probably are a number of behaviours that are common around the middle of the range but many boys will fall outside the mainstream range.  And the smarter the child is and the older the child gets all the simple generalizations about boy behaviour fall way

I knew one boy, for instance, who would never run despite one being tempted by the generalization that all boys run a lot.  The boy was a very bright bookish sort so was just not interested in physical activity.  And I am not talking about myself.  I ran quite a lot in my childhood.

So the point I want to press here is that the category "boy" is just too wide.  There are many different types of boy. The well-known authors generally write sensibly and do lay down a template that many boys will tend to follow with good results. But we must never insist on some behaviour we have read about in books.  Most boys, for instance will enjoy going camping but a minority will loathe it.  There is no "one size fits all"

It's easy to see why boys get a bad press. Male toddlers are noisy and hyperactive. Pre-teen boys are immature, can't concentrate, won't sit still. Teenage boys are so negatively perceived that if you didn't actually know any, you'd think they were all drug addicts and vandals.

According to child development expert Elizabeth Hartley Brewer, author of Raising And Praising Boys (Vermilion, £7.99), the root of the problem is not boys themselves, but the way we react to them.

'From earliest childhood, we give boys far more negative feedback than girls, and then tell them off when they live up to the negative image of themselves we've given them. We're not very good at celebrating boys for being boys.'

Here's how to give your boys a break:

Age 0-5

Praise boys for the things they're naturally good at
Have realistic expectations for behaviour and skills
Make plenty of opportunities for physical activities
Make time to read and talk to your son

Age 5-11

Reward their efforts – don't criticise their mistakes
Recognise boys' need for self-respect
Do things together
Make space for fathers

Age 12-16

Respect your son's privacy
Keep talking, listening and hugging
Praise, often - but don't engage in false flattery
Trust your son to do things his way - don't spoon-feed him


‘Conspiracy Theory’: NYT’s 1619 Project Faces Scrutiny From Scholars, Historians

Over the course of this week, the New York Post has published a series of op-eds attacking the 1619 Project—the controversial and erroneous history of America from The New York Times. Today, the New York Post features an op-ed by David Bobb, president of the Bill of Rights Institute. Bobb recently spoke to The Daily Signal about the 1619 Project. An excerpt from his interview is below and the full transcript is available

David Bobb: I’ve read the 1619 Project [and] went through the lesson plans. I was struck by one in particular. It was what’s called erasure poetry, and it asks students to take the Declaration of Independence and to block out all of the sections so that the remaining words would be the poem that they wanted to create themselves.

Think of what that exercise treats and really trains the minds of our young people to say, that the Declaration is a document mainly to be obliterated.

The Declaration was the thing that gave Frederick Douglass the hope and realization that he was a person deserving of rights and dignity.

The Founders were not perfect—no human being is—and I think the remarkable thing that we need to impress upon young people is not that we had, in the founding of the United States, an answer and a kind of determination of everyone’s rights in their fullness. We didn’t. But we did lay down the marker and we said that all human beings are created equal.

That was a marker that both indicted some of the Founders’ own actions as slaveholders, and set a standard by which Americans and future generations could look to and try to aspire to. The 1619 Project gets none of that aspirational element.

I think when you look at Allen Guelzo and Jim McPherson and James Oakes and Gordon Wood and others that have come to criticize that, and then be utterly dismissed by the editors of that project as irrelevant. “Well, who anointed them as our preeminent historians?” That’s been some of the response.

I think the debate that’s ensued is a good one and that’s the kind of thing that I think students can actually enter into.

One of those people that I just mentioned, Allen Guelzo, is a contributor to the Bill of Rights Institute’s Comprehensive History of the United States, that we just debuted at the National Council for the Social Studies.

We believe in viewpoint diversity, and what I lament about some of our publications, including the 1619 Project, is there’s not even a pretense of viewpoint diversity. It’s just saying this is it, and, unfortunately, it can amount to a conspiracy theory.

That is the thing that we see in Howard Zinn, where here’s history in a box, here’s the people who did all of the wrong and we’re going to blame them, and here’s the people that do all of the right and, in fact, that’s not the way that history works.

What you have to do, I think, is have an intellectually honest conversation. What we found is that teenagers are capable of doing a lot, and if you treat them as curious and engaged interlocutors, oftentimes they rise to the occasion.

The thing that I find is that the teachers all across the country mainly do not engage in conspiracy mongering. They’re mainly interested in trying to wrestle with these questions and put really important ideas in front of their students and then rely on those conversations to help propel those students into the fullness of citizenship.


The 'Transgender' Agenda: The Tip of the Totalitarian Spear
What public schools are doing to children in the name of tolerance is intolerable

In their pursuit unassailable power by any means necessary, American leftists have decided that tolerance and tyranny are interchangeable terms. Nothing says that clearer than their efforts to force feed the “transgender” agenda to children in school — without parental knowledge or permission.

On January 26, the California Teachers Association (CTA) held a meeting where members decided to change existing policy and add “transgender and binary youth” to the list of students who can leave class for medical reasons — absent their parents’ permission. “While the updated policy does not include ‘hormone therapy’ explicitly, the rationale discussed by CTA’s civil rights committee in making the policy change indicates that’s the final goal,” the Epoch Times reports.

The Epoch Times learned of this development when concerned teachers reported it to the news site. And while the changes have not been made publicly available, CTA spokeswoman Claudia Briggs confirmed the new policy reads as follows: “CTA believes comprehensive school based health care clinics are needed to bring caring and responsive services to young people. The clinics shall provide cisgender, transgender and non-binary youth equal and confidential access to decision-making rights for students and their families.”

These changes arise from a statement printed by the CTA Report of Board of Directors, Committees, and Items of New Business in June 2019. It is equally provocative: “Current interpretation of California state law does not allow trans students to begin gender identity confirming hormone therapy without the consent of both legal guardians, however it does allow for cis minors to receive hormones (e.g. birth control) without the barrier of parental permission. This inequity of decision-making forces some children to go through the wrong puberty and can negatively impact the child’s mental health.”

Note the incrementalism. The CTA wants to frame hormone therapy per se as a civil-rights issue, not a medical one. Thus the same progressives who succeeded in usurping parental rights regarding birth control — which in many states extends to minors getting actual abortions without parental permission or knowledge — now demand the “right” to usurp parental rights regarding life-altering hormone therapy in pursuit of “sex change.”

Of course, the CTA insists that hormone therapy is identity confirming rather than the rejection of chromosomal and biological reality — the “sexual dysphoria” — it really is.

“Teachers and others public school educators adopted this policy, belief statement, to ensure that all students have equal rights regardless of zip code, skin color, language they speak and who they love,” Briggs insists. “The intent of the policy is not to circumvent parents or guardians.”

Nonsense. California’s Family Code 6925, in place since the 1990s, allows minors to receive birth control and/or abortions without parental consent. And in 2013, the state enacted Assembly Bill 1266, a.k.a. the “School Success and Opportunity Act.” It states that school employees are not allowed to inform parents about a child’s “gender identity” unless the child gives consent. Moreover, while “The California Healthy Youth Act & 2019 Health Education Curriculum Framework” allows parents to opt out of sex education, it requires them to expose their children to materials that discuss gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

The ostensible reason? The framework states, “Dispelling myths, breaking down stereotypes and linking students to resources can help prevent bullying, self-harm, feelings of hopelessness, and serious considerations of suicide.”

If there is anything more “mythical” than the idea that a boy can become a girl, or vice versa, simply by saying so, one is hard-pressed to imagine what it is.

In Wisconsin, parents are pushing back. They are suing the Madison school district, alleging its transgender policy is unconstitutional. The policy, enacted in 2018, states that a person’s gender identity can be male, female, a blend of both or neither, and determined by that same self-identification.

The intent of the policy? To “disrupt the gender binary” with educational material that will teach children gender is a choice. Even more insidious? While parental consent is still required to change a student’s name and gender in official district records, students are “unofficially” allowed to do so without it. And while all teachers and district staff are required to address those students by their chosen names and pronouns and are prevented from revealing these duplicitous machinations to parents or guardians.

“There is no compelling government interest in keeping secret from parents that their child is dealing with gender dysphoria,” the lawsuit says.

Oh yes there is. Above all else, “fundamental transformation of the United States” requires an all-out assault on this nation’s traditions, mores, customs, and culture. Nothing is a firmer bulwark against that transformation than the nuclear family, buttressed by thousands of years of common understanding about biology and sex. Thus, the intrusion of the state into matters that should be none of its business must be relentless — and ever-expanding.

None of this would be possible without collaboration by a medical community that is totally ethically compromised. Surgical procedures such as double mastectomies are performed on otherwise healthy 13-year-old girls and chemical castration is sought for boys as young as seven. The medical community views these as life-enhancing efforts rather than medical malpractice and child abuse.

Nothing makes that reality clearer than testimonials complied by the Kelsey Coalition that reveal the extent of the damage inflicted on parents and the children themselves by medical professionals, whose default position is transition — even to the point where such transition includes performing surgery on autistic children — and school officials who counsel parents to “medically transition” children as young as 11.

Victim Sydney Wright recounted her personal experience with this agenda, explaining that she was once “a beautiful girl heading toward high school graduation. But after taking testosterone for a year, I turned into an overweight, prediabetic nightmare of a transgender man.”

This dynamic is made possible by a progressive-controlled public-school system that has used the removal of religion from the classroom to remove of all morality, making rebuttal of the progressive agenda virtually impossible. Thus, the same school nurse that can point a 13-year-old to the nearest abortion clinic is largely precluded from telling that same child that abortion is wrong.

Moreover, cowardice and intimidation abounds: A number of school officials, medical professionals, and parents would rather submit to virtually anything in lieu of being called “transphobic” courtesy of a Transgender Mafia that has even hammered ostensible allies like Martina Navratilova and others for daring to suggest that “trans” women should not be allowed to participate in women’s sports.

In a better world, the “T” would face expulsion from the LGTBQ community, and children would be required to wait until adulthood before making life-altering decisions. In this one, a reordering of reality itself — in pursuit of totalitarianism — must be accommodated.

Americans must be clear on that last point. If reality itself can be determined solely by self-identification — “my truth” on steroids — then two plus two can eventually equal five, as more and more concessions become incrementally demanded. Thus above all else, a government-enforced transgender agenda must be seen for what it truly is: The tip of the totalitarian spear.


Only ‘limited’ evidence for trans kids’ medicine but inquiry too ‘dangerous’?

Comment from Australia

The evidence for life-altering medical intervention in youth gender clinics suffers from “gaps” and “limitations” but a national inquiry would be “dangerous”, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has been told.

The inquiry urged by more than 200 doctors and clinicians “would further harm vulnerable patients and their families through increased media and public attention,” the Royal Australasian College of Physicians said in a letter to Mr Hunt on Friday.

In August, after this newspaper began reporting concerns about the safety and ethics of “transgender” medical treatments for vulnerable minors, Mr Hunt sought “urgent” advice from the college, which covers paediatricians.

It has since emerged the college had lobbied with paediatrician Michelle Telfer — whose Royal Children’s Hospital gender clinic in Melbourne spearheads the pro-trans “affirmative” treatment model in Australia — for easier and quicker underage access to hormones and less oversight by the Family Court.

On Friday, Mr Hunt’s spokesman said the minister would review the college’s advice and consider what might need to be done.

There is intensifying global debate about the reasons for an exponential rise in often already troubled teenagers, mostly girls, diagnosed with gender dysphoria (distress at being “born in the wrong body”) and asking for puberty blocker drugs, opposite-sex hormones and surgery such as mastectomy.

On Thursday, the former British minister for mental health and suicide prevention, Jackie Doyle-Price, called for “more control over gender treatment for children”, citing litigation involving a regretful “detransitioner”, Keira Bell, 23, who said the NHS Tavistock gender clinic in London “should have challenged me more” over medical transition.

“Puberty is not the time for anyone to consent to life-changing treatment,” Ms Doyle-Price said in a tweet.

This week brought the launch of a new global body, the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine, which argues that the low quality of the evidence for the affirmative model has been obscured by dramatic but unsupported claims that young people are likely to kill themselves if denied hormones and surgery.

“Given the lack of evidence of benefits of these treatments on long-term mental health, and the evidence of alarmingly high rates of post-treatment suicide, the use of affirmative care outside of rigorously designed clinical trial settings is inconsistent with ethical medical practice,” the SEGM spokesman, US-based endocrinologist William Malone, said on Friday.

Before the rise of the affirmative model and teenage-onset dysphoria, the condition typically occurred in a small, stable percentage of pre-school boys, with the vast majority coming to accept their bodies as they matured and many emerging as gay or bisexual.

Philip Morris, president of the National Association of Practising Psychiatrists, which supports a national inquiry, said he found it “very surprising” for a medical college to claim it would be “dangerous” to hold “a balanced, comprehensive inquiry into the most effective and safe treatments for gender dysphoria”.

“An inquiry that comes up with consensus on the best treatments would give confidence and support to parents and children.”

Dr Morris said the health minister would be “very disappointed” with the college, having asked it for a verdict on what was “clinical best practice”.

“(The letter) gives him no advice about the competing merits of the affirmative approach versus supportive, more conservative treatments of children with gender dysphoria; it provides him with no information on the safety and effectiveness of puberty blockers and opposite-sex hormones in children and adolescents.”

Treatment side-effects include infertility, loss of sexual desire, cardiovascular problems, and possible cognitive impairment.

‘Validation’ for Dr Telfer

Friday’s letter from the college warning Mr Hunt not to hold a national inquiry was welcomed by the gender clinicians’ lobby AusPATH, and RCH chairman Rob Knowles and chief executive John Stanway.

RCH said the letter had “validated” Dr Telfer’s work, and backed the college’s appeal for more public funding to spread gender clinic services, especially in rural and regional areas.

In the letter, RACP president Mark Lane said young people with gender dysphoria suffered “extremely high” rates of self-harm and attempted suicide. The college did not supply any evidence when asked.

Canadian psychologist Ken Zucker, a world authority on gender dysphoria and editor of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, has dismissed as “pure dogma” the affirmative model line to parents hesitating on the brink of treatment for their child, “Do you want a live son or a dead daughter?”.

“If you are depressed, your suicidality risk is going to be elevated, but you see that in kids who are depressed but don’t have gender dysphoria,” Dr Zucker told The Australian last year.

“The idea that adolescents with gender dysphoria are at a higher risk of suicide per se is dogma — and I think it’s wrong.”

In his letter, Dr Lane said youth gender dysphoria was “an emerging area of healthcare”, and the evidence on treatment outcomes was “limited”, and this was similar to the state of affairs with conditions, such as rare cancers, affecting a small number of patients.

He suggested federal funding for long-term research; a new “national framework” for consistent, high quality care across the country; and new “evidence-based fact sheets” on treatment.

“To facilitate a high level of informed consent, patients and families must be provided with information about the limitations of available evidence regarding gender dysphoria,” he said. “For example, there should be an informed discussion of the burdens and benefits of treatment options in a way each child or adolescent can understand.”

‘No merit or courage’

Sydney clinical psychologist Dianna Kenny, a critic of the affirmative model, said the college’s statement was “so politically correct as to lack any scientific merit or moral courage”.

Professor of paediatrics John Whitehall, another critic, said it was odd for the college to not want “public attention” for the issue of medical transition of under-18s.

“I would have thought there is already a great deal of attention, though all one way (in favour of the affirmative model),” he said.

“The RACP boasts of interest in public health and that usually involves full and frank discussion of all side-effects as part of preventing harm. Here, it is essentially (saying), ‘Be quiet and accept the experimentation’.”

In a 2018 submission to the National Children’s Commissioner, which was reporting on progress under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, the college said taxpayers should subsidise puberty blocker drugs (which cost $5000 a year for each trans youth) as well as trans surgery, while “gender identity” should be taught in schools and medical courses at university.

The college did not answer a question about whether its advice to Mr Hunt was affected by any conflict of interest.

SEGM’s Dr Malone said there were rare circumstances in which untested treatments might be used as a last resort but challenged the college’s comparison between gender dysphoria and cancer.

“Gender dysphoria is not a fatal disease: no single, quality study has demonstrated that gender dysphoria causes suicides in young people,” he said.

“Treatment with hormones and surgeries to halt puberty deny young people a chance for natural resolution of gender dysphoria.”



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


6 March, 2020

‘We Are Desperate’ For More Immigrants, A Top Trump Aide Says

This is the sort of nonsense we expect from the NYT.  It is certainly true that SOME migrants are of net benefit to society but less educated ones tend to be welfare reliant for a lot of the time and are hence  a burden on other Americans.

It is true that more migrants bring a bigger GNP but what is the use of that?  It is the PER CAPITA GNP that matters and that can even decline while GNP grows.  Growth for growth's sake is an idiotic goal.

A policy of accepting only highly educated migrants would probably benefit the whole population but we are a long way from that

At a private event last week, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, stated a reality that economists treat as conventional wisdom but that the Trump administration routinely ignores: The United States needs immigration to fuel future economic growth.

“We are desperate, desperate for more people,” Mr. Mulvaney told a crowd in England. “We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth.” He said the country needed “more immigrants” but wanted them in a “legal” fashion.

Mr. Mulvaney’s sentiments are at odds with President Trump’s crackdown on undocumented entries and family- based immigration into the United States.

But they reflect the viewpoint of economists and many in the business community, who say that immigrants are needed to power the U.S. labor market as growth in the nativeborn work force rapidly slows as the population ages and people have fewer children.

Immigrants have already been a crucial source of new workers, accounting for about half of the labor force’s expansion over the past two decades. But the foreignborn population has been expanding only tepidly during Mr. Trump’s tenure. That slowdown could have long-lasting and profound repercussions, economists warn.

“Immigration, while a sensitive topic, has been a key part of work force growth in the United States,” Robert S. Kaplan, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said in an interview. Immigrants “have been additive to the U.S. economy” and “they’ve helped us to grow faster.” Gross domestic product growth comes from two basic ingredients: population and productivity gains. To produce more goods and services, businesses need either more workers or better efficiency.

Productivity improvement has been weak in America over the past decade. While some economists hope that will change as companies embrace nascent technologies in robotics and machine learning, others believe that most economy-altering innovations may be behind us — think cars, washing machines and refrigerators.

Future gains could be consistently mediocre.

If that’s the case, the United States’ economic fate will hinge on population growth.

Work force expansion will almost certainly not come naturally.

Fertility has dropped since the baby boom of the late 1940s to mid-1960s, and has plunged recently.

The expected number of births per woman in America has dropped to just 1.73, based on data from the National Vital Statistics System. That is nowhere near the rate the population would need to replace itself — a little more than two births per woman.

But America’s immigrant population has been growing more slowly, a phenomenon exacerbated by Trump administration policies including strict enforcement and travel restrictions on many countries with substantial Muslim populations.

The United States added only 595,000 total immigrants last year, the fewest since the 1980s, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey based on Census Bureau data. That contributed to the lowest year in overall population growth since 1918.

Undocumented immigration has been declining since about 2007. While conclusive data is sparse, estimates by the Pew Research Center suggest the trend has continued under the Trump administration.

Legal immigration has also been slowing, and that is poised to persist. A report released this week by the National Foundation for American Policy projected a 30 percent plunge in legal immigration by 2021 and a 35 percent dip in average annual growth of the U.S. labor force.

That “will take place without any change in the law by Congress but as a result of policies that include the broadened version of the public charge rule, the travel ban and lower admission of refugees,” according to the report. The socalled public charge rule can curb visa and green card eligibility for people who are deemed likely to tap public programs.

“The Trump administration’s reduction in legal immigration will mean slower growth in the labor force and a lower rate of economic growth,” the report stated.

Proponents of restraining immigration, particularly among low-skill workers, often argue that newcomers can supplant American workers or depress their wages, even if they help the economy as a whole. Companies have to compete less to hire when there are more workers around. But the evidence supporting that argument is limited.

In one study, the Harvard economist George Borjas examined how a group of Cubans who went to Miami in 1980 affected the local labor market. He found that native- born workers who had dropped out of high school took a wage hit when the newcomers arrived.

But that research has been the subject of a fierce debate over data choices — several different economists have argued that with a different design, the pay effects disappear.

Other research, by Giovanni Peri at the University of California, Davis, suggests that lowerskill immigrants complement their American counterparts, actually lifting wages. Immigrants are more entrepreneurial, other studies have found, and at higher education levels, they contribute a big share of the United States’ science, technology and math work force.

Whatever competition immigrants do pose is probably even more limited now, when the unemployment rate is at its lowest in half a century and businesses have about 1.1 job openings for every available worker.

“It’s very hard to think that in this situation you would displace anyone,” Mr. Peri said. “A little bit more immigration would alleviate and help this problem, allowing the economy to grow a little faster and generating more consumption.” In Chester County, Pa., which produces more than 60 percent of the country’s mushrooms, immigration is top of mind. Harvesting is difficult work: It requires laboring from early in the day in growing houses, bending and stretching to twist the produce from its trays. In recent years, there have been too few people to complete the task even at higher pay rates, so companies have planted less and have even allowed crops to go unpicked.

“As an industry, they are not able to produce at the levels they would like, and at the demand that’s being requested,” said Guy Ciarrocchi, the head of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry. The local unemployment rate comes in under 3 percent, so other opportunities are plentiful.

“You can make a very nice living in mushrooms, but it’s hard work,” said Lori Harrison, the communications director at the American Mushroom Institute, an industry group. Farms have avoided building new houses to expand amid labor shortages, she said. “If you put the capital into it, but don’t have anyone to harvest the mushrooms, then you’re out.” Mr. Ciarrocchi and his chamber colleagues regularly talk to their legislators about the shortage in the local work force, which extends to other industries. They see immigration as one part of the answer.

“Build the wall, that’s fine,” he said. “But at the same time, we should be able to talk to — whether it’s mushroom farmers or engineers or doctors — whatever the economic needs may be.” Near-term labor shortages like Chester County’s offer a hint of problems that could arise if the work force expands more slowly amid muted immigration. As the population ages, more people will depend on Social Security, Medicare and other public programs while a shrinking share of the population punches the clock and pays taxes needed to fund them.

“The U.S. economy, I think, will undergo a transition in which growth will slow down, society will age, and the economic dynamism will slow,” Mr. Peri said, adding that the nation’s debt burden would increase. “That’s the direction that the U.S. is going to be headed toward if fertility doesn’t change and immigration is still constrained.”


Californians Suffering the Consequences of Prop 47

Bad ideas, no matter how popular or vociferously promoted, will inevitably lead to tragedy and ruin. Or, as the old adage states, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Back in 2014, Californians passed Proposition 47, a bill touted as a means to cut law-enforcement costs and free up funding for crime prevention and drug-treatment programs. In order to cut law-enforcement costs, Proposition 47 downgraded numerous crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, so crimes like shoplifting, fraud, writing bad checks, and even (temporary) grand theft auto no longer rise to the level of felonies. The resulting change meant that if a thief stole no more than $950 value in property and was later apprehended, he would essentially skate with no more than a small fine or at most a brief stint in jail. Furthermore, since DNA is not collected for misdemeanor offenses, the state’s DNA database, an important and effective tool in solving and prosecuting violent crimes like murders and rapes, has shrunk.

Another unintended but entirely predictable outcome of Prop 47 is its disincentive of law enforcement to respond aggressively or at all to what is now classified as petty crime. How the theft of nearly a thousand dollars does not rise to the level of significant crime only makes sense if an individual is astronomically wealthy; for most Californians, $1,000 is still a sizable sum. And this misdemeanor-level theft has become an increasingly common problem that only seems to be getting worse.

As the president of one San Francisco condo association exasperatedly observed: “Every bicycle in our building has been stolen. I’ve caught so many people stealing packages. They don’t care. They know nothing will happen to them. It’s crazy. It’s horrible. I feel like these people need to go to jail.”

National Review noted back in 2018 that many Californians were getting fed up but were unfortunately focusing their ire on the wrong culprit — law enforcement: “During a recent gathering in San Francisco’s Russian Hill — a beautiful neighborhood that boasts that famous crooked street, Lombard (now infamous for being haunted by rings of gang members who break into cars, steal tourists’ belongings, and relieve news crews of equipment) — an older gentleman who was born and raised in the city now says he feels like a prisoner in his home, afraid to leave. Officers, who are doing their best, urge residents to call the police and report crimes. Yet people are acutely aware that even if they do, justice won’t be served. So they direct their rage toward the police with a ‘you’re not doing your job!’ No one leaves happy.”

Shoplifting has become such a problem in San Fransisco that stores have stopped stocking shelves with goods as a measure to combat constant theft. Residents have also stopped locking their cars and instead place signs in their car windows that read “unlocked no valuables inside” to prevent thieves from smashing car windows.

What motivates this type of disregard for private property and law and order? The insidious doctrine of “fairness” based upon the envious assumption that if someone has more than another it can only be attributed to injustice. This is the same type of thinking behind the socialism of Bernie Sanders, who bases his dangerous, false, and hypocritical policy agenda upon calls for “fairness.”


The Knights of Columbus, Blacks, and the Fight for Civil Rights and Justice
In 1918, a popular song with America’s World War I troops contained these lyrics: “No matter their color, their race or creed, for every Yankee’s welfare, the K of C takes heed.”

You read that right. Five decades before the Civil Rights movement, the organization mentioned in the song was the only charitable organization in World War I to offer integrated facilities to troops — something it did decades before the military itself was integrated.

And when the Navy and Marine Corps themselves integrated in the late 1940s, it was a project led and championed by a former CEO of this organization.

The “K of C” stood for Knights of Columbus, and what they did a century ago on the issue of race was decades ahead of its time.

I was quite taken with these stories, detailed in a new book, The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History, being released this month. Anyone interested in the intersection of faith, freedom, and racial equality in the U.S. should read this book. It tells the incredible and multifaceted story of an organization that has helped shape history through action and advocacy for those in financial need and those suffering discrimination or persecution on account of race, creed, or color.

As we just ended Black History month, it’s worth remembering the Knights’ efforts.

These efforts didn’t begin and end with World War I; they started in the 1890s, when the Knights were already admitting African American members. The first known African American member of the Knights joined in 1895 and held a leadership position in his local council. At the same time, the Knights were not shy about overtly advocating for equal citizenship regardless of race, color, or creed.

And after the “Great War,” the K of C work continued as the group provided job training and education for veterans — both black and white.

In the 1920s, the Knights stepped up again for African Americans — in a big way. Seeing that many groups were being overlooked by American history books, the Knights set out to change that and make sure the stories of Catholics, African Americans, and Jews were told.

Specifically, the Knights hired W.E.B. DuBois to write The Gift of Black Folk, which explored the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history. The book is a classic, and it was published by the Knights of Columbus during a time when many religious institutions were still segregated.

Underlying the Knights efforts was a simple fact. The Knights believed that America’s promise of equal rights should apply to everyone — black or white, Catholic or non-Catholic.

This meant the Knights would lead the charge against the Ku Klux Klan when the Klan tried to outlaw Catholic education in the state of Oregon. At the Supreme Court, the Knights-funded plaintiffs (the Society of Sisters) prevailed, and Catholic education was persevered.

When governments persecuted Christians in the Middle East in the early 1920s, and Catholics in Mexico in the later 1920s, the Knights were there to assist those persecuted and advocate for them.

When the Nazis began persecuting Jews — and others — the Knights spoke up again. They spoke up also against human-rights abuses by the Soviet bloc before and during the Cold War, and, of course, their work for persecuted Christians in the Middle East today is legendary.

Where faith and freedom have been threatened, the Knights have been there to help. Ahead of its time on racial and religious-freedom issues — not to mention a global force for charity — the Knights of Columbus is an organization that Americans who value our country’s freedoms should get to know. The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History is the perfect introduction.


Australian Olympic hero Tamsyn Lewis questions the fairness of transgender athletes competing in women's sports - and says many don't speak out because of political correctness

Three-time Australian Olympian Tamsyn Lewis has questioned the fairness of transgender athletes being allowed to compete in women's sport.

The 41-year-old said there are too many unknowns regarding transgender and transitioning athletes to create a level playing field in women's competition.

The three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist told 2GB radio it was a politically charged and sensitive topic that many did not want to address. 'There's been a lot of people who are scared to come out and say anything because of political correctness,' she said.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic games will see a number of transgender competitors, with the IOC rules forcing female competitors to remain below testosterone guidelines to compete as women.

Lewis believes the guidelines don't factor in the physical advantage of growing up and going through puberty as a male.

'If you've grown up a male and had testosterone your bone structure is different to the female, your upper body strength is going to remain, you've got greater lung capacity a larger heart size, there's too many unknowns about how much going through puberty and being born a male is going to effect your result,' she said.

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will compete at the Tokyo Olympics and was born a male named Gavin    +4
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will compete at the Tokyo Olympics and was born a male named Gavin

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard and Brazilian volleyball player Tiffany Abreu will be among the transgender athletes to compete at Tokyo.

2GB host Ben Fordham argued Hubbard had an obvious physical advantage compared to the rest of her field, prompting Lewis to question whether the female category would remain fair with increasing transgender participants.

'If we don't take a stand, what's going to happen to the female category of sport?,' she said.

'You don't want to get to the point where we haven't tackled this issue head on and in a respectful manner, that in 20 years time we're seeing our kids grow up and compete in sports that they just actually can't win.'



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


2  March, 2020

The dangerous war on ‘whiteness’

Telling white people to be more conscious of their whiteness is a recipe for disaster.

Whiteness is everywhere these days – or talk of it is, at least. BBC Two has commissioned a two-part documentary-cum-social experiment all about ‘whiteness’, to be fronted by identitarian commentator Afua Hirsch. Bestselling books talk of White Fragility and Dying of Whiteness.

Political upheavals are said to be driven by Whiteshift. Apparently, Brexit is a product of ‘hideous’ and ‘unbearable’ whiteness, while the election of Trump was evidence of a ‘whitelash’. Geopolitical events like the US trade war with China are also attributed to ‘the religion of whiteness’, which according to the New York Times, ‘increasingly resembles a suicide cult’.

There are several problems with this rush to attribute anything and everything to ‘whiteness’. First of all, nobody can really pin down what exactly whiteness is. Whiteness is said to be all powerful and all pervasive, but it seems to resist definition even among those who talk endlessly about it. ‘If whiteness takes no shape, then the concrete structures that shaped it (and often benefit from it) remain invisible too’, says Mona Chalabi in the Guardian.

Chalabi crunches the data on the strange invisible phenomenon of ‘white culture’ and finds out that white people like the arts, alcohol and dairy products. This may seem benign, but don’t be fooled. ‘If the “somethingness” of white culture is never quite pinned down, it remains both “nothing, really” and “well, everything”’. That ‘nothingness’ is not morally neutral. For Chalabi, the ‘vagueness’ of white culture leaves the door open for the forces of whiteness to ‘lay claim to every recipe, every garment, every idea that is not explicitly “non-white”’. Apparently, whiteness, lacking any substance of its own, cannibalises everything it touches.

The one thing that critics of whiteness seem to be sure of is that whiteness is inherently a very bad thing. Generally, white men are considered to be responsible for various social ills, though white women are also said to be part of the problem. Apparently, whiteness inflicts suffering on both non-whites and on whites themselves. Whiteness is held up as an explanation not only for racism and discrimination, but also for gun deaths and depression among whites. You don’t even have to be white to suffer from ‘internalised’ whiteness.

Needless to say, this obsession with whiteness is not good for race relations. At a time when racist attitudes are at an all-time low across the West, writers for the New York Times are asking questions like ‘Can my children be friends with white people?’ and ‘Should I give up on white people?’.

What’s more, the discussion about whiteness only reaffirms the idea that there is such a thing as white racial identity. White people are constantly told to think of themselves as white and to recognise their whiteness. The unintended consequence of this is to racialise society and to lend credence to the idea pushed by the racist right – that whites are a distinct racial group with their own distinct grievances and interests.

According to identitarian thinkers, whiteness persists because discussing whiteness is not something that comes naturally to white people. Whites have to become aware of their whiteness, and thus more able to confront their own privilege. Whites who have successfully uncovered their whiteness have probably read columns by Ta-Nehisi Coates (‘The First White President’), or books by Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility and What Does it Mean to be White?) and Reni Eddo-Lodge (Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race). Perhaps they have attended a ‘Critical Whiteness’ workshop at their university. Some rich white liberal women have stumped up $2,500 to learn about their whiteness over dinner.

Some writers have noticed that when you try to talk to certain white people about their whiteness (essentially anyone not part of the middle-class intelligentsia), they become defensive and agitated. Critics of whiteness call this response ‘white fragility’. For instance, Myriam François, founder of the website WeNeedToTalkAboutWhiteness.com, says, ‘We are swimming in toxic whiteness but take offence at anyone pointing it out’.

A simple explanation could be that most white people do not identify with whiteness and are annoyed by having a white identity ascribed to them. Of course, it doesn’t help that the identity that critics of whiteness expect white people to embrace is overwhelmingly negative.

To say that whiteness has been pathologised is not an overstatement or a metaphor. Academic Kehinde Andrews has written about the ‘psychosis of whiteness’. Some scholars of ‘critical whiteness studies’ argue that whiteness can be uncovered and overcome. But Andrews says whiteness is characterised by irrationality and is therefore beyond rational engagement.

Similarly, New York-based clinical psychiatrist Natascha Stovall wants to put whiteness on the couch. She wonders why the ‘obsessive’, ‘compulsive’ and ‘anxious’ white patients who frequent her practice insist on talking about their mental-health issues when they should be talking about whiteness. ‘We talk about everything. Except being white’, she complains.

White men are said to be permanently on edge because of their ‘white male rage’. White women apparently have a much better handle on their emotions, but they are said to emote in a dangerously white way. A Guardian article titled ‘How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour’ makes the rather ludicrous assertion that white women’s ‘tearful displays are a form of emotional and psychological violence that reinforce the very system of white dominance that many white women claim to oppose’.

When identitarians use ‘white’ as basically a synonym for either ‘bad’, ‘deceptive’ or ‘irrational’, the appeal of such an identity is likely to be limited to self-loathing liberals. In turn, this thoroughly negative conception can make people on the receiving end of the ‘whiteness’ discourse increasingly defensive – especially if they were not born into the kind of ‘privilege’ identity politics ascribes to them.

This can give the far right more fruitful conditions in which to operate. If white people are constantly told to become conscious of their whiteness, it should not be a surprise if some react by saying they are in fact proud of the accident of their birth. That would truly take us down a dark path.

All of this raises questions as to why the (mostly white) establishment is so keen to embrace whiteness as an explanation for the world’s ills. One reason could be that identity politics, though often presented as a left-wing phenomenon, allows the elites to dispense with class analysis. Race, gender and sexuality replace class as the prisms through which the world can be understood and injustices can be railed against.

Indeed, whiteness is often coded in class terms, especially when used by other whites. Yes, Guardianistas will mouth off occasionally about the ‘pale, male and stale’ domination of company boards and high politics, but the descriptor ‘white’ contains the most venom when it is aimed at the lower orders. Class prejudice has historically been communicated using racial terms, and today’s woke intolerance of working-class people is no different.

When Myriam François, herself a white woman, wrote about ‘toxic whiteness’ and the ‘fury of white people’, she was responding to Jon Snow’s off-the-cuff ‘white people’ remark on Channel 4 News. Snow infamously said that he, a white man, had ‘never seen so many white people in one place’ at a pro-Brexit rally. Snow has surely been to Glastonbury, Wimbledon, pro-Remain marches and the European Parliament. These events and places are always full of white people, just middle-class ones – white people he is presumably more comfortable with. And so their skin colour doesn’t get a mention.

The obsession with whiteness ultimately has the effect of erasing class altogether. Indeed, the deployment of ‘white privilege’ seems like an explicit attempt to downplay class. It allows people with vastly different circumstances – everyone from Prince Harry to a plumber – to be labelled as inherently privileged. ‘You can be homeless and still have white privilege’, according to the ‘solidly middle-class’ model and Labour Party adviser, Munroe Bergdorf.

The obsession with whiteness is dangerous not only because it obscures the truth about class relations, but also because it encourages the very thing it claims to fight against: a racialised white identity. Instead of blaming all the world’s ills on a nebulous notion of whiteness, we should be arguing to eliminate racial thinking altogether.


Yes, I am a race denier

Both the alt-right and the woke left want you to think racially. Don’t do it.

I got it in the neck from both racist-right wingers and supposedly anti-racist leftists last week. Hard-right racial agitators slammed me over my spiked column on Andrew Sabisky, in which I argued that the new right’s flirtation with the ‘science’ of IQ differences, and particularly with the idea that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites, is dangerous and worrying.

Woke leftists, meanwhile, took me to task over my rather more throwaway piece on the rapper Dave and his performance at the BRITs, and my belief that the cultural elite’s racialisation of everything, its belief that racism is endemic in modern Britain, is wrong and divisive. The racists criticised me for ignoring the reality of race; the wokeists criticised me for ignoring the reality of racial experience in 21st-century Britain.

These two groups might look like polar opposites. The racist underbelly of the internet – which worryingly burst forth into Downing Street via the employment of Sabisky – tends to be a bit tragic. It consists primarily of atomised young men who think they are cleverer than they are and who are consumed by a virulent strain of white victimhood. They are widely mocked by contemporary culture. The woke web, in contrast, is dynamic, energetic, very middle class, and widely celebrated by the political and cultural elites. From Twitter to TV discussion panels, from the academy to newspapers’ opinion pages, this new clique’s political views are increasingly mainstream. Witness the way in which trans extremism, ideas about ‘white privilege’ and the racial myopia of the identitarian worldview have moved into mainstream discussion and even popular culture in recent years.

And yet for all their different styles and success rates, these two groups share something incredibly important in common: they are obsessed with race. Genuinely, sometimes even hysterically obsessed with it. Indeed, my battering by both sides last week gave me a stark and enlightening realsation: both of these camps think of me, and presumably everyone else, as little more than a racial category. In my case, as a ‘white man’. The speed and firmness with which both sides reduced me to a white man was striking.

The racists, including in a weird YouTube video one of them made about me, informed me that I am a white man who is insufficiently proud of my white heritage or of my genetic superiority to blacks. The wokeists denounced me as a white man who, by dint of my cultural heritage, can have no understanding of the racial complexities of modern Britain. (Even worse, I am a ‘mediocre white man’, in the words of the people at Novara Media. Perhaps I need to make a greater effort to strive for Aryan non-mediocrity.)

To both groups, I am a disappointing white man. I am a disappointment to my race. The racist abusers of science who propagate the foul idea of white genetic superiority see me as a self-hating white man who refuses to acknowledge my genetic supremacy to people of colour. The wokeist promoters of identitarian difference see me as a self-denying white man who refuses to acknowledge my inherited privileges, the way in which history has bestowed on me the category of ‘privileged’ while bestowing on black people the category of ‘victim’.

Neither side allows reality to leak in. That I am less intelligent than many black people makes not a blind bit of difference to the racist right who think I should wallow in my ‘superiority’. That I come from an Irish working-class background and am a first-generation Briton makes no difference to the wokeist left who think I should self-flagellate for my ‘privilege’. All truth and nuance is erased by both the science and the culture of racial myopia; by both the scientific racists of the new right and the cultural racialists of the woke left.

What is becoming clear is that, tragically, the idea of race, the idea of insurmountable differences between people, is returning to public life. In fact, it never really went away. In recent decades, racial thinking has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to change its nature, to reassert itself in new, apparently more acceptable ways. The reason there was a perfectly understandable angry reaction to the employment of Sabisky in Downing Street is because older, more ‘scientific’ forms of racism, such as have been expressed by Sabisky in the past, have been incredibly out of favour in recent decades.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, and of the horrors of the Holocaust in particular, the racist, eugenicist view of humanity as racial entities – some good, some degenerate – became unsustainable. That is, not only where these ideas scientifically wrong – as they had always been – but now their barbarism and backwardness had been fully exposed.

However, racial thinking did not disappear. Rather, it shifted from science to culture. The idea of racial difference was no longer scientifically argued. Instead it was claimed that culture and history were the determining factors in the division of identity groups and the moral divide between black and white people in particular. In the 1960s and 70s, sections of the right tended to push the idea of a deep, culturally divined split between the races. But more recently, it is the left that has embraced cultural racial determinism. First through the race-relations industry, then through the ideology of multiculturalism, and more recently through the entrenched, historically determined categories of white privilege and black victimhood, the new left has promoted a new and worryingly popular species of racial thinking.

That this new racial thinking can be as deterministic and divisive as the old racial thinking it replaced can be glimpsed in today’s casual disdain for white people and contempt for any person of colour who deviates from the politics of victimhood. The modern left has introduced a racialism as fixed as the racialism of old, to such an extent that they will berate anyone from any ‘racial’ category who fails to perform their racial role. A white person who questions the idea that he enjoys privilege or who agitates against the pressure to think racially will be instantly denounced as a naturally racist white person requiring moral correction.

A black person who pushes back against the politics of victimhood and refuses to think of him or herself as the damaged goods of bloody history will be written off as a self-hating person of colour, as someone who has internalised racism. That is, they lack the agency and autonomy to think for themselves and instead have been corrupted by their white masters. And so does the new racialism directly echo the old racism.

The new cultural racialism may not share the extreme authoritarianism and deranged destructiveness of the old scientific racism. But it has carried into the late 20th century and early 21st century many of the anti-humanist trends of racial thinking. It has its determinism, only now racial groups are said to be determined by history (Empire, slavery, colonialism) rather than biology. It has its racial dehumanisation, so that every nuance of class, experience and belief is erased in the rush to refer to people simply as ‘white man’ or ‘person of colour’.

It has at least a strain of its authoritarianism: witness the rush to censure those who question the new racialism and the way in which the boss class has introduced codes of conduct in the workplace that govern speech and relations between black and white workers. And it has its divisiveness. Black people are different to white people: that is the depressing, society-harming message of the new woke left as much as it was of the old racist right.

That we live in a new era of racial thinking, in which so much of educational, political and public life is organised around these new-sounding and dangerous racial ideas, is clear from the fact that it has become incredibly difficult to question and push back against woke racialisation. Indeed, there is now open ridicule of anyone who says: ‘I prefer the Martin Luther King approach of judging people by their character rather than skin colour.’ Woke activists mercilessly mock people who say this. In the US, some campuses describe such a worldview as a ‘racial microaggression’. So to argue against racial thinking is racist. This is mad, Orwellian nonsense.

We cannot let them demean and destroy the MLK belief that character is more important than colour, because this belief is the very essence of a progressive, humanist politics. Both the alt-right and the woke left want you to think racially. Refuse. Rebel. Do the right thing: view all people as individuals with agency, autonomy, aspirations and character, regardless of their skin colour, their ethnicity or their heritage. Fight for the King approach to humanity over the deeply destructive racialism of the flagging racist right and the ascendant woke left.


Transgenderism: the great delusion of our time

One day it will be studied alongside witch-hunts and alien abductions.

The recent remark by Dawn Butler, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, that ‘a child is born without sex’ is certainly one of the most bizarre things said by a politician in my lifetime. It is surprising that it hasn’t attracted more derision than it deserves. Or perhaps it isn’t. The transgender myth – that one’s actual sex, not one’s gender, is entirely of one’s own choosing – is firmly embedded as the definitive popular delusion of the 21st century. It will take future historians of a more rational age to assess it more soberly and explain its origins.

My theory is that it is the consequence of what might be called the Discrimination Dialectic. Our society is constantly at war with itself between two conflicting imperatives: the need to have an Other (every culture needs one) who we can define ourselves against and be mean about, and our more contemporary, and culturally specific, progressive imperative to ceaselessly end discrimination against minorities and erstwhile Others. This dialectic involves identifying, or maybe even inventing, the next Other in order to emancipate them.

When I was very young it was still acceptable to be a misogynist – television comedians still made jokes about wives and mothers-in-law – and it was acceptable in certain circles to be racist. Homophobia was even more mainstream well into the 1980s, when ‘poof’ and ‘homo’ were unremarkable playground insults.

Going back further, misogyny, racism and homophobia were all pretty mainstream in the 1960s. They are all taboo today. Most people under 30 probably don’t even know that Irish jokes were commonplace until the 1980s. So what discriminated Other should our society campaign for now? What minority can we be progressive about now? Trans people, it transpires.

It is owing to our culture’s cult of progress, and the liberal-left’s compulsion of forever ending discrimination, that the trans movement has captured the Labour Party so virulently. While Butler’s remark raised some eyebrows, a recent statement by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, raised none, when he asserted that ‘Trans women are women. Trans men are men.’ Another transparent falsehood. A trans woman is a trans woman.

Trans is a powerful myth, which explains how it demands some curious mental gymnastics and strange doctrines. First was the notion that by having cosmetic surgery you can change your sex. (You can’t, because you can’t change your chromosomes or biology. I never have and never will menstruate or give birth.) Then came the idea that you can change your sex through performative utterance, by merely declaring you have done so. And now comes the literally – literally – unreal dogma that babies have no sex.

Most people, especially those of a woke persuasion, like to ridicule Christian creationists who believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old. They are certainly irritating, such is their wilful, wanton resistance to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution. True trans believers have become intolerable for exactly the same reason: their flight from reality and denial of not just science, but also what is staring them in the face. You don’t even need a doctor to tell what sex a baby is.

The trans movement began as an extension of the gay-rights movement. But since gays are nearly totally accepted now, it has usurped it. It has since morphed into something more uncanny: a modern-day cult. It’s an ersatz new religion, hence the doctrine among its believers that ‘transphobia’ is a most grievous transgression. Look, too, at the way people demand that strangers use pronouns of their choosing. And regard the degree to which people have internalised ‘transphobia’ as a modern-day blasphemy against this religion, a heresy against the church of trans, with so many people terrified to speak openly and honestly about it.

It is nothing more than a case of hysteria, a modern-day delusion, a phenomenon that one day will – or should – be studied alongside witch-hunts and alien abductions.


Celebrities have forgotten their place

A new lifeform has emerged on the global stage. Actually, it’s more of a mutation than a new species. This organism can only survive in the rarefied atmosphere of the public spotlight, and it has been part of everyday life, first in movies and then in television, for the better part of a century. It can now be found in sport, music, politics, fashion, royalty – and social media, where it goes by the name “influencer”.

I am talking about the celebrity. In the old days – prior to the 1980s, say – celebrities knew their place; their job was to look pretty, to exude wit and/or charm, to dress glamorously and to attract fans. But today’s celebrities have extended this brief to include the opportunistic promotion of a popular cause. And with the awards industry flourishing, there are any number of platforms that enable today’s celebrities to pout, preen and pose on a red carpet just as they have always done, but with the added opportunity of offering “spontaneous” advice to the non-celebrity world about their pet subject. Climate change is a favourite.

Never mind that the celebrity lifestyle involves private jets, multiple homes and a range of egregious consumption sins committed against the environment. The unstated logic among this new breed of Celebrity Moralisers is that, while they do indeed live these apparently wasteful lifestyles, the payback is that they command vast audiences so “an earnest word about carbon emissions” delivered at precisely the right moment can have the effect of modifying the behaviour of millions. Millions!

Plus, moralising even momentarily from a public pulpit effectively rebrands the celebrity as not just a pretty face but as someone who’s a bit of a thinker, an ethicist; someone who is deeply concerned about the great moral challenges of the day. I mean, a celebrity isn’t going to shout “remember to floss” from the stage (vital though that is to dental hygiene); they’re going to promote a cause that is prominent, that contributes to their brand, and that can never be measured. It’s a win-win.

So it’s OK for Celebrity Moralisers to fly about, but not for you and me, and that’s because their carbon emissions are offset by the impact they can have in “bravely speaking out” and reining in the errant behaviour of the masses. In fact, moralising to millions is a lot like buying carbon offsets. It legitimises the celebrity lifestyle, it promotes their brand and, best of all, the impact of their courageous words can’t be quantified. How many people were persuaded to reduce carbon emissions as a consequence of moral posturing? Or does the value that celebrities bring lie with their ability to change the vibe?

In many ways, the cult of the celebrity is like a modern aristocracy in which the resources of the many are marshalled to support the lifestyle of the few. And when celebrities stuck to their core business of promoting their work, we accepted their position of privilege. But less so today.

In today’s world business leaders, politicians and others are very much held to account for espousing one standard while living another. The modern world abhors hypocrisy, or so we would like to believe.

And yet I somehow think that next year’s awards season will be littered with more causes, more symbols of solidarity, more brave words of support, because despite the callouts, the spoofs and the protest, we’ll move on and allow the Celebrity Moraliser to re-emerge stronger and poutier than ever. Hmmm… perhaps we’re more tolerant of hypocrisy than we would like to believe.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


1 March, 2020  

Why the Left Calls Good People Racist

Dennis Prager
A few weeks ago, I devoted my column to an article about me published in Newsweek under the headline “Conservative Radio Host Ridicules Anne Frank.” As the full context of my comments in the video made clear, it was a lie.

To its credit, after its editor was notified of this fact, Newsweek changed the headline and made revisions to the article and issued a correction.

Since then, two more smears have been spread about me, one by an official at Purdue University and the other by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the major source of news in Canada.

The Jan. 21, 2020, issue of The Exponent, the Purdue University student newspaper, published the following in a story about John Gates, Purdue’s newly appointed vice provost for diversity and inclusion: “John Gates has seen quite distinct viewpoints at Purdue, even in his first week at Purdue in early 2019. When he attended a Turning Point event that Dennis Prager spoke at, he noted that he was one of three black people in the room.

”‘His central thesis was as follows: Diversity is bad. Every dollar spent on diversity is a dollar wasted,’ Gates said. ‘He said slavery was not bad. In fact, every civilized nation was founded in slavery, and that blacks should just be happy to be in this country. And he got a rousing ovation.’“

A vice provost of Purdue University quoted me as saying, "slavery was not bad.”

Needless to say, I never said anything remotely like that.

After mentioning this on my radio show, some of my listeners wrote to Gates, which prompted him to write to me — not with a retraction or an apology but an invitation to have a chat.

I wrote vice provost Gates a letter, which began: “Dr. Gates:

"I am attaching eight video files of my speech at Purdue. See if you can find where I said, implied or hinted that slavery is not bad.

"Allow me to react to your invitation to chat over the phone. Had I, as a Jew, written in some publication that you said, ‘the Holocaust wasn’t bad,’ and then invited you to have a chat, would you agree to do so? Or would you first demand that I retract such a vile smear of you?

"When you unequivocally retract in The Exponent what you said and apologize for saying it, I will be happy to chat with you. In fact, I will even invite you on to my national radio show.”

I never received a response from Gates.

Then, about a week ago, on my radio show, I discussed the issue of private speech versus public speech, and the issue of character, using former President Harry Truman as an example of a good man who used foul language privately, specifically using “kike” when writing or talking about Jews, and the N-word when talking about blacks. A listener called to ask me why I could say “kike” but not the N-word. I told him that the left had rendered the N-word the only word unutterable in the English language, even when merely discussing it, as I was with regard to Truman. And, of course, I added that to ever refer to a black using the N-word is “despicable.”

On Sunday, the CBC published an article headlined “It’s ‘idiotic you can’t say the N-word,’ says radio host Dennis Prager, soon to speak at Calgary conference.”

The headline was an echo of the Newsweek headline, using an entirely out-of-context quote to make it sound as if I want to use the N-word in referring to blacks.

Now, why would the CBC bother writing about an American talk-show host, and how did it come up with this smear?

The answer to the first question is that the CBC, described to me by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a PragerU event as “to the left of MSNBC,” wants to charge Canadian conservative organization The Manning Centre with inviting racist speakers. (I will be speaking in Ottawa at the Centre’s annual conference next month.)

And how did the CBC come up with the phony headline and story? The author himself wrote how in his piece: from Media Matters for America, a left-wing site that each day distorts or lies about what conservatives say. The author never bothered to listen to my broadcast. He took what Media Matters wrote and recycled it.

So, then, why do left-wing media do this?

There are two major reasons.

First, truth is not a left-wing value. As I have said and written ever since studying communism and the left in graduate school at the Columbia University Russian Institute, truth is a liberal value and a conservative value, but it is not a left-wing value. However, destroying opponents by destroying their reputations is a left-wing value — whether it’s charging Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with multiple rapes, preoccupying the country with the fake charge that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia to manipulate the 2016 election, or the charges such as those made against me.

Second, smearing opponents is not only a left-wing value; it is the left’s modus operandi. And the reason for that is: The left does not win through argument. It wins through smear. If you differ with the left, you are, by definition, sexist, racist, bigoted, intolerant, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, fascist and/or a hater. The proof? You cannot name a single opponent of the left who has not been so labeled.

The CBC needs to change its headline and issue a correction, as Newsweek did. My email to the author of the article, in which I asked for these changes and explained the entire context, did not receive a reply. You can read the letter on my website and send it or link it to the CBC.

If good liberals and conservatives don’t fight the left, truth loses. If truth loses, all is lost. It’s that simple.


Marriage Debate Becomes One Over Polygamy

A bill seeking to decriminalize polygamy — passed by the state Senate of conservative Utah, of all places — has reignited the debate over marriage in the United States.

Though not legalizing polygamy, the bill would reduce the penalty from a felony (with a maximum sentence of five years in prison) to a minor civil infraction, with a fine of $750, or community service. The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson, was approved unanimously by the state Senate, and an amended version was approved by a state House committee this week.

The bill has set off an interesting debate between conservatives. One side sees this as the inevitable result of the Supreme Court’s legal redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. The other sees this as a relatively minor change that appropriately reduces the penalty for polygamy, which in some instances is harsher than what accused rapists receive.

Both sides have valid points.

In 2015, the Supreme Court upended thousands of years of human history and centuries of U.S. law when it unilaterally struck down the marriage laws of dozens of states, ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that laws limiting marriage to man/woman relationships were unconstitutional. In doing so, Justice Anthony Kennedy and the majority declared that traditional marriage laws were driven by homophobic “animus” rather than based in reason and the collective wisdom of human experience. The ruling made the issue about governmental and societal validation of the romantic feelings of adults, rather than a legal and social framework to protect the interests of children and society.

Though same-sex marriage advocates ridiculed such claims at the time, the logic used in support of their cause unquestionably opened the door to the potential legalization of polygamy. In fact, many conservatives argued the Court’s ruling in Obergefell made polygamy inevitable.

After all, if legal marriage is about validating romantic relationships, then how could one logically argue the relationship between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, should be legally ratified, but not the relationships between a man and two women, or five women? If all that matters are that those involved be consenting adults, how does one logically defend same-sex marriage but not polygamy? Or incestuous relationships, so long as they are consenting adults?

As Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his Obergefell dissent, “Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world.”

From that standpoint, it was just a matter of time before polygamists started arguing for legalization; just days, in fact.

Other conservatives see this as an isolated matter that is less about legalizing polygamy than addressing a draconian disparity in criminal sentencing. They correctly point out that the Utah bill does not legalize polygamy; it simply decriminalizes it. Polygamy, therefore, is still illegal in all 50 states. And according to recent Gallup polling, more than 80% of Americans oppose polygamy.

Then again, in 2004, Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court made it the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. As a result, voters of dozens of states passed laws specifically defining marriage, including liberal bastions like California and Oregon. In fact, less than six months after the Massachusetts ruling, 11 states passed such marriage laws.

Yet just over a decade later, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, and two years later legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, with five leftist justices invalidating the votes of tens of millions of Americans, along with millennia of history.

Realistically, the damage to the sanctity of marriage began decades ago with increasing acceptance of no-fault divorce, cohabitation, and adultery. Same-sex marriage and (potentially) polygamy are just the latest assaults on the sacred institution.

Unless and until marriage is restored as a sacred relationship between man and woman, for the purpose of bringing children into the world in stable, loving families, these aberrant variants of the authentic marriage will continue to sow confusion and discord.


Iran To Execute 8 Christians For Leaving Islam - Media is silent to avoid damaging Islam's image

Security officials from Iran’s Intelligence Ministry raided the homes of eight Iranians converts to Christianity on July 1, in the southern city of Bushehr, carting them off to solitary confinement.

Under Iranian sharia law Leaving Islam or converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.

Christians in Iran are not allowed to practice their religion publicly. The persecuted Christian minority in Iran are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Consequently, church services in Persian (Iran’s national language) are not allowed.

Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Assyrian community in Iran totaled approximately 200,000 people. However, since then many have fled and in 2015 only 32,000 Assyrians were left in the country, mostly in Tehran.

Iran is cracking down on its Christian minority, but the media and the UN are silent in order to avoid damaging the image of Islam.

Since 1979 Khomeini’s regime has executed tens of thousands of Iranians. The regime has killed thousands of Americans. This regime hasn’t changed in 40 years

Germany, Britain and France should join the US and impose sanctions against the sharia regime in Iran.


Revealed: One in three Australians think immigration is too high while most blame expensive housing for ruining their dreams

The two things are related.  All those immigrants have to be housed -- putting great pressure on the existing housing stocks

A third of Australians think the nation is too overcrowded while a majority blame unaffordable housing for killing their dreams, a survey has found.

Australia's net annual immigration rate with departures factored in stood at close to 300,000 last year - which included permanent arrivals and international students.

While it was below the record-high of 353,480 reached in the year to April 2009, it was still more than triple the 20th century average of 70,000.

The national population growth pace of 1.5 per cent is also almost double the rich-world average of 0.8 per cent.

With Sydney and Melbourne each home to more than 5million people, it seems overcrowding is an issue.

Almost a third, or 32.4 per cent of respondents, called for population control when asked about their wishes for Australia in the survey commissioned by Real Insurance.

The online survey of 5,000 people, by CoreData, also showed a majority to be concerned about expensive real estate, with 53.5 per cent describing affordability as the 'greatest barrier to them achieving their dreams'.

Sydney's median house price stood at $994,300 in January, CoreLogic data showed.

The Real Wishes Report, compiled late last year, showed 61 per cent of people were concerned about the effect of global uncertainty on Australia.

A similar proportion, or 60.7 per cent, wanted better employment opportunities.

The survey was taken in September, four months before Chinese authorities declared the first outbreak of coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Almost a third, or 31 per cent of respondents, believed Australia had worsened since the May election, which saw Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Coalition win a third consecutive term.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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(Isaiah 62:1)

A 19th century Democrat political poster below:

Leftist tolerance


JFK knew Leftist dogmatism

-- Geert Wilders

The most beautiful woman in the world? I think she was. Yes: It's Agnetha Fältskog

A beautiful baby is king -- with blue eyes, blond hair and white skin. How incorrect can you get?

Kristina Pimenova, said to be the most beautiful girl in the world. Note blue eyes and blonde hair

Enough said

Islamic terrorism isn’t a perversion of Islam. It’s the implementation of Islam. It is not a religion of the persecuted, but the persecutors. Its theology is violent supremacism.

There really is an actress named Donna Air. She seems a pleasant enough woman, though

What feminism has wrought:

There's actually some wisdom there. The dreamy lady says she is holding out for someone who meets her standards. The other lady reasonably replies "There's nobody there". Standards can be unrealistically high and feminists have laboured mightily to make them so

Some bright spark occasionally decides that Leftism is feminine and conservatism is masculine. That totally misses the point. If true, how come the vote in American presidential elections usually shows something close to a 50/50 split between men and women? And in the 2016 Presidential election, Trump won 53 percent of white women, despite allegations focused on his past treatment of some women.

Political correctness is Fascism pretending to be manners

Political Correctness is as big a threat to free speech as Communism and Fascism. All 3 were/are socialist.

The problem with minorities is not race but culture. For instance, many American black males fit in well with the majority culture. They go to college, work legally for their living, marry and support the mother of their children, go to church, abstain from crime and are considerate towards others. Who could reasonably object to such people? It is people who subscribe to minority cultures -- black, Latino or Muslim -- who can give rise to concern. If antisocial attitudes and/or behaviour become pervasive among a group, however, policies may reasonably devised to deal with that group as a whole

Black lives DON'T matter -- to other blacks. The leading cause of death among young black males is attack by other young black males

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves. Leftist motivations are fundamentally Fascist. They want to "fundamentally transform" the lives of their fellow citizens, which is as authoritarian as you can get. We saw where it led in Russia and China. The "compassion" that Leftists parade is just a cloak for their ghastly real motivations

Occasionally I put up on this blog complaints about the privileged position of homosexuals in today's world. I look forward to the day when the pendulum swings back and homosexuals are treated as equals before the law. To a simple Leftist mind, that makes me "homophobic", even though I have no fear of any kind of homosexuals.

But I thought it might be useful for me to point out a few things. For a start, I am not unwise enough to say that some of my best friends are homosexual. None are, in fact. Though there are two homosexuals in my normal social circle whom I get on well with and whom I think well of.

Of possible relevance: My late sister was a homosexual; I loved Liberace's sense of humour and I thought that Robert Helpmann was marvellous as Don Quixote in the Nureyev ballet of that name.

Bible references on homosexuality: Jude 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Leviticus 18:32; Leviticus 20:13

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take children away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Racial differences in temperament: Chinese are more passive even as little babies

The genetics of crime: I have been pointing out for some time the evidence that there is a substantial genetic element in criminality. Some people are born bad. See here, here, here, here (DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12581) and here, for instance"

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.

So why do Leftists say "There is no such thing as right and wrong" when backed into a rhetorical corner? They say it because that is the predominant conclusion of analytic philosophers. And, as Keynes said: "Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

Children are the best thing in life. See also here.

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.

A modern feminist complains: "We are so far from “having it all” that “we barely even have a slice of the pie, which we probably baked ourselves while sobbing into the pastry at 4am”."

Patriotism does NOT in general go with hostilty towards others. See e.g. here and here and even here ("Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia: A Cross-Cultural Study" by anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan. In Current Anthropology Vol. 42, No. 5, December 2001).

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

"An objection I hear frequently is: ‘Why should we tolerate intolerance?’ The assumption is that tolerating views that you don’t agree with is like a gift, an act of kindness. It suggests we’re doing people a favour by tolerating their view. My argument is that tolerance is vital to us, to you and I, because it’s actually the presupposition of all our freedoms. You cannot be free in any meaningful sense unless there is a recognition that we are free to act on our beliefs, we’re free to think what we want and express ourselves freely. Unless we have that freedom, all those other freedoms that we have on paper mean nothing" -- SOURCE


Although it is a popular traditional chant, the "Kol Nidre" should be abandoned by modern Jewish congregations. It was totally understandable where it originated in the Middle Ages but is morally obnoxious in the modern world and vivid "proof" of all sorts of antisemitic stereotypes

What the Bible says about homosexuality:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; It is abomination" -- Lev. 18:22

In his great diatribe against the pagan Romans, the apostle Paul included homosexuality among their sins:

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.... Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" -- Romans 1:26,27,32.

So churches that condone homosexuality are clearly post-Christian

Although I am an atheist, I have great respect for the wisdom of ancient times as collected in the Bible. And its condemnation of homosexuality makes considerable sense to me. In an era when family values are under constant assault, such a return to the basics could be helpful. Nonetheless, I approve of St. Paul's advice in the second chapter of his epistle to the Romans that it is for God to punish them, not us. In secular terms, homosexuality between consenting adults in private should not be penalized but nor should it be promoted or praised. In Christian terms, "Gay pride" is of the Devil

The homosexuals of Gibeah (Judges 19 & 20) set in train a series of events which brought down great wrath and destruction on their tribe. The tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out when it would not disown its homosexuals. Are we seeing a related process in the woes presently being experienced by the amoral Western world? Note that there was one Western country that was not affected by the global financial crisis and subsequently had no debt problems: Australia. In September 2012 the Australian federal parliament considered a bill to implement homosexual marriage. It was rejected by a large majority -- including members from both major political parties

Religion is deeply human. The recent discoveries at Gobekli Tepe suggest that it was religion not farming that gave birth to civilization. Early civilizations were at any rate all very religious. Atheism is mainly a very modern development and is even now very much a minority opinion

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

I think it's not unreasonable to see Islam as the religion of the Devil. Any religion that loves death or leads to parents rejoicing when their children blow themselves up is surely of the Devil -- however you conceive of the Devil. Whether he is a man in a red suit with horns and a tail, a fallen spirit being, or simply the evil side of human nature hardly matters. In all cases Islam is clearly anti-life and only the Devil or his disciples could rejoice in that.

And there surely could be few lower forms of human behaviour than to give abuse and harm in return for help. The compassionate practices of countries with Christian traditions have led many such countries to give a new home to Muslim refugees and seekers after a better life. It's basic humanity that such kindness should attract gratitude and appreciation. But do Muslims appreciate it? They most commonly show contempt for the countries and societies concerned. That's another sign of Satanic influence.

And how's this for demonic thinking?: "Asian father whose daughter drowned in Dubai sea 'stopped lifeguards from saving her because he didn't want her touched and dishonoured by strange men'

And where Muslims tell us that they love death, the great Christian celebration is of the birth of a baby -- the monogenes theos (only begotten god) as John 1:18 describes it in the original Greek -- Christmas!

No wonder so many Muslims are hostile and angry. They have little companionship from women and not even any companionship from dogs -- which are emotionally important in most other cultures. Dogs are "unclean"

Some advice from Martin Luther: Esto peccator et pecca fortiter, sed fortius fide et gaude in christo qui victor est peccati, mortis et mundi: peccandum est quam diu sic sumus. Vita haec non est habitatio justitiae

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

Even Mahatma Gandhi was profoundly unimpressed by Africans

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