Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider two "jokes" below:

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

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

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

More soft Fascism from Canada

Woman to fight fine for not holding Montreal subway handrail

The Montreal woman who was handcuffed and fined $420 for not holding a subway station escalator handrail is planning to fight the tickets, saying she was treated like a "criminal" for trying to avoid germs. "They are dirty!" said Bela Kosoian about the rubber handrails. "How many people touch them every day? Thousands!

"I cannot believe I was handcuffed - like a prisoner. Like I committed a crime." Kosoian, 38, a Chess Federation of Canada co-ordinator, was fined on May 13 for having "disobeyed a directive or pictogram" showing that the handrails in Montreal subway stations must be held by all escalator users.

Laval police said Tuesday they issued three separate warnings to Kosoian before handcuffing her. "The third time, she crossed her arms," said Lt. Daniel Guerin of Laval police. "The two officers acted appropriately and within the procedures."

The officers first issued a ticket totalling $100, followed by another "for obstructing an inspector in the exercise of his duties," to the tune of $320. Kosoian at first refused to provide identification papers "because I did not do anything wrong," she said. As a citizen of France who lived in Eastern Europe, Kosoian never expected this kind of encounter with authority when she came to Canada in 2003. I lived through the collapse of the Soviet Union. Civil war in Georgia. And famine, where you had to fight for a piece of bread."

She won't let this incident go, Kosoian vowed: "I have nothing to hide. I want everybody to know what happened."

Guerin refused to release a complete video record of the incident - which lasted about 14 minutes, both on the escalator and in a holding room at the station. But he said it will be provided to the Police Ethics Commission if Kosoian issues a complaint to that body.

Isabelle Tremblay of the Societe de transport de Montreal said that if Kosoian wants a copy of the video, she will have to file a formal access-to-information request with STM lawyers.


10,000 penpushers a year are hired by British local councils

And guess who pays for them?

Town halls have hired more than 30,000 extra staff over the past three years, figures revealed yesterday. The workers, mostly penpushers and bureaucrats, were also given higher pay rises than teachers, policemen or firemen.

According to a breakdown of council finances, between 2006 and 2008 the number of teachers employed fell but the number of ‘other local government staff’ increased by 31,000, from 1,084,000 to 1,115,000. They also enjoyed the highest pay rises of any council group, up by 7.6 per cent in 2006, 7.2 per cent in 2007 and 3.3 per cent in 2008, the Department of Communities and Local Government figures showed.

‘Other local government’ workers include school support staff and others whose jobs directly serve the public. However, town halls also employ highly-paid managers and a growing army of equality officers, outreach workers and sustainability advisers.

Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Councils need to get back in touch with what people want and start focusing on delivering better frontline services and cutting back bloated administrations.’

And Tory local government spokesman Caroline Spelman said: ‘It is very telling that under Gordon Brown the number of teachers being employed is falling while the number of people employed to deal with red tape and bureaucracy is soaring.’


Australian Prime Minister embroiled as tensions rise over racist attacks on Indian students

Despite the predictable official denials, these attacks are overwhelmingly by young African "refugees" that the government has kindly lumbered Australia with. Not only do the Africans contribute little themselves (they are mostly on the dole) but they attack those who do -- greatly damaging Australia's reputation in the process. Education is one of Australia's major export industries and it is under attack by these criminals. Letting moronic and useless thugs loose on the students concerned is disastrous. The thugs concerned should be relentlessly rounded up and jailed for long periods instead of being treated "sensitively" because of their origins. But that would depend on a sudden influx of honesty into the corrupt Victoria police and that is a big ask. The deliberately blind Victoria Police are letting the whole of Australia down at the moment

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has spoken to his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, amid growing anger in India over attacks on Indian students in Australia. The issue has raised diplomatic tensions between the two countries. In a telephone conversation, Mr Rudd congratulated Dr Singh on his recent re-election but the pair also discussed the recent series of violent assaults, sources told The Age. A statement released last night indicated Dr Singh spoke strongly to Mr Rudd about the attacks. The Indian Prime Minister had "suitably" conveyed his concerns about the vicious attacks, it said.

The Indian foreign ministry called in Australia's high commissioner to India, John McCarthy, yesterday to discuss the matter. "I told him that the Australia Government is also very concerned, that Australian ministers had expressed this, and that we are doing everything we can to address the issues," Mr McCarthy said. Mr Ravi conveyed to Mr McCarthy the Indian Government's "deep anguish and continuing concern" about the welfare of its students in Australia, a statement released last night said. It was the first time Mr McCarthy has been called in by the Indian Government since the 2007 arrest of Muhammad Haneef, an Indian doctor working in Australia, on terrorism-related charges.

As the diplomatic temperature rose yesterday, Indian Foreign Minister S.N. Krishna spoke to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith about the issue. Mr Krishna said the Australian Government had assured him that steps were being taken to protect Indian students. "We hope these aberrations that have taken place will be dealt with," he said. "They said that they are going to take stern steps and they have assured us that every student from India will be adequately protected."

Meanwhile, agents in India who arrange student placements have warned that Australia's lucrative education industry could pay a high price for the attacks. "These attacks will definitely have an impact on the market because parents are calling me up and they are very concerned," said Bubbly Johar, who runs a Delhi education consultancy and is vice-president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India. "The media coverage here is encouraging parents to rethink whether they should send their children to Australia for studies. We can't assure them that they will be safe."

In Melbourne, India's high commissioner to Australia said Victorian police were insensitive towards some Indian crime victims. Sujatha Singh said many students felt insecure and some were unhappy with police treatment. Her comments came as Victoria Police again denied that the increasing attacks — which the Indian student community claims could be as many as 70 in 12 months — were racially motivated.

Mrs Singh said the Indian high commission in Canberra had received complaints from students about police. When an incident was reported, there was a perception that there was sometimes "a delay in reacting and … perhaps a lack of sensitivity dealing with the issues".

Mrs Singh flew to Melbourne from Canberra to meet Premier John Brumby and police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland following the attack on Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 24, last weekend. He was allegedly racially abused and stabbed with a screwdriver at a party at a house in Hadfield, near Glenroy. Last night he remained in a coma in intensive care at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. A 17-year-old from Glenroy has been charged with attempted murder. It was the third serious attack this month.

In two of those, the victim or witnesses have told The Age of specific racial abuse. But Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said yesterday he had "no specific data" on that. [He doesn't want to hear it] "They (Indian students) are seen as vulnerable soft targets … I don't deny it may have happened but my sense is that these are opportunistic crimes, not racially motivated crimes." Mrs Singh said she had told police about the racial element in some attacks. She did not believe Australia was racist but "some of these attacks have not been opportunistic".

Trauma psychologist Dr Michael O'Neill, who works with Indian victims of crime in Melbourne, said he saw on average one bashed student a week and about half of those attacks were racial.


Australia: Writers festival gags student critics

They can't stand being laughed at. Since most of them will have been Leftists, the solution was obvious

Since 2004, UTS [University of Technology Sydney] journalism students have, for the few days the festival, produced a free daily, Festival News. Last year, the festival confiscated the first issue, declaring itself unhappy with both the students' behaviour and the content of their organ which was, the director, Wendy Were, wrote, "riddled with disparaging content about the festival and its supporters". In particular, the festival rejected a report that the arts minister, Frank Sartor, had been "booed" (the current online wording is "greeted with grudging applause") in presenting the Premier's Literary Award. There was passing mention of Morris Iemma's conspicuous absence and some gently gleeful discussion of Macquarie banker Bob Carr's declaration he didn't read Australian books.

Pretty mild stuff. Refreshing, compared with the usual pap, if perhaps a little undergrad. Given that both Arts NSW and Macquarie Bank are major funders, it makes you wonder. Was the festival just another "be nice to sponsors" week?

This year, it happened again; students and others had their paper impounded and their persons allegedly threatened with arrest. Excuse me, what? Are we suddenly transported to Burma? The festival's droll manager, Ben Strout, may argue "free voices does not mean freedom to blurt … whatever … wherever". The Walsh Bay precinct manager, Luke Mead, who apparently gave the order, may yell down the phone at any who ask that "it's private property and we'll stop people handing out papers if we want to". But in truth, they're both wrong. Free speech does mean pretty much whatever, wherever, and the festival wharf - unlike much of Walsh Bay - is still public domain.

The students, understandably, claim harassment and censorship. They point out the paper was wholly UTS-produced and funded, and a disclaimer distanced its views from the festival's. More importantly, they defend their independence. "We're journalism students," writes one, "not public relations students".

The UTS humanities dean, Theo van Leeuwen, attempted to make peace, posting an apology on the festival website, but only poured kero on the embers. The students felt betrayed. Their professor, Wendy Bacon, defended them, and free speech, only to find herself promptly banned from a panel on radicalism, when she'd simply been polishing her credentials. The festival denies the ban, but emails make it clear her presence was not acceptable.

All looking strange indeed, until the explanation emerged that puts both parties in a bizarre light. A contract - titled "Education Partner Agreement" - signed in 2006 by van Leeuwen (for UTS) and the then festival director, Caro Llewellyn, commits UTS journalism students to produce Festival News at UTS's cost. The contra for UTS includes their writers' involvement in festival panels, the festival launch of a UTS student anthology and the UTS logo on the festival website. Neither the staff nor students producing News knew of the contract's existence.

What are two supposed bastions of intelligent and unfettered debate doing colluding in the first place, in a covert sweetheart deal that leaves the university looking like a PR firm and the festival like some tacky trade fair?

They need their heads knocked together if they cannot see that teaching journalism students to think like copywriters is quite as dangerous and more insidious than fettering them to a military junta.

Postmodernism loved to blur boundaries - between disciplines (viz neurogeography), between races and cultures (Eurasian, Spanglish), between genders (metrosexual, retrosexual) and also between journalism and PR.

More universities are merging journalism into PR and "communications" faculties, as though who pays the piper matters not a jot. This is almost as ugly, and parochial, as a writers' festival stifling criticism.



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

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

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


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Saturday, May 30, 2009

The egregious bloodymindedness of bureaucratic Britain

Bureaucrats have contempt for those they have power over. It was only the intervention of a Member of Parliament that squeezed some semblance of decency out of them. In Britain, yellow lines beside the kerb indicate that parking is not permitted there

Ruth Ducker always legally parks her Volkswagen Golf around the corner from her house, so it came as a shock when she discovered it had disappeared from its spot - and in its place was double yellow lines. Her confusion deepened when Lambeth council claimed to have no knowledge of where her car was.

It took three weeks for the council to admit its contractors were behind the disappearance, and then add insult to injury by telling the 44-year-old graphic designer she owed more than £800 in fines. In fact the car had been carefully lifted out of the way for the double yellows to be painted in Gordon Grove in Camberwell, then replaced on the new restrictions by the contractors responsible. The same day a different set of parking enforcers spotted the 'illegally parked' car, and had it towed away - after photographing it on the newly painted double yellows.

Mrs Ducker had left the runabout without its battery, meaning she knew that it had not been stolen. She said: 'My little VW disappeared a week before Christmas. I had parked for years on an unrestricted stretch about 40 yards from my home. When I returned on 19 December to replace the battery my car had disappeared and yellow lines had suddenly appeared. There’s no way I could have driven onto those lines. 'Initial inquiries with the council found no trace of the car. It was three weeks before I received my first official notification.'

It took a further two months and the involvement of her local MP Kate Hoey to make the council back down and waive the fines, which by now totalled £2,240. 'What they did was disgraceful,' said Mrs Ducker. “I’m very grateful to my MP. When I saw the photos of my car on the yellow lines I was furious. 'I knew that to pay up would be an admission of guilt, so I decided to fight them. But I didn’t get the car back until the middle of February and they offered a paltry £100 to compensate for lost road tax, insurance and inconvenience. Needless to say I still haven’t received a penny.'

In a letter to Ms Hoey the council said contractors had told them the 'vehicle may have been lifted in order to facilitate the painting of lines' and admitted residents had not been advised of the planned work. The letter also confirmed that penalty notices were not due to be issued until the day after Mrs Ducker’s car was removed. Lambeth council blamed a 'breakdown in communication' between its contractors and has now offered Mrs Ducker £150 compensation.

A council spokesman said: 'This was an unacceptable case and when the council became aware of it we acted to cancel all the charges. We are very sorry for the distress this has caused Mrs Ducker. 'We have raised the case with our contractors in order to avoid something like this happening again in the future. While one case like this is one case too many, this is very much an isolated incident, and all our figures show that in general parking is becoming fairer in Lambeth.'


Pregnant Women Have No Right to Their Jobs

By John Stossel

Sales consultant Holly Waters says she was a top performer for the drug maker Novartis. But when she was about go on maternity leave, she was fired. "I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. There was no way I was going to be able to go out and find a job at this point," she told me for my ABC special "You Can't Even Talk About It."

Waters knew the law is on her side. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal to fire, or not hire, a woman because she is pregnant. The law even restricts workplace speech. Employers are warned that in a job interview they must never ask questions like, "Might you start a family?"

If Congress thought the law would end claims of workplace discrimination, it was wrong, as usual. Companies are increasingly being sued. Even a maternity-clothing chain was sued. Waters's lawyer, David Sanford, filed a class-action lawsuit against Novartis. "If you get pregnant, you're in trouble at Novartis," he told me. Novartis denies wrongdoing and points out that Working Mother magazine named it one of America's 100 best companies for women.

Sanford claims that his $200-million lawsuit will teach Novartis and other companies not to discriminate.

But Carrie Lukas says such lawsuits do more harm than good. Lukas is also a working mom, vice president of the Independent Women's Forum. "If my employer decides they no longer want me as an employee, then it should be their right to fire me." she told me. "I understand the desire for people to have government step in and try to protect women, but there's real costs to government intervention."

These costs are rarely talked about publicly. But once Congress creates protected groups, some employers avoid hiring members of those groups. After the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, it was assumed more disabled people would enter the workplace. But a study by economists at MIT found employment actually "dropped sharply."

Likewise, "pregnancy protection" creates problems for women. "Sometimes laws that are intended to help women like me actually end up hurting women like me," Lukas said. "All of a sudden, a potential employer is looking at me and thinking, 'She just might turn around and sue us.' That makes it less likely that I'm going to get hired. You raise the cost of hiring a woman like me."

And while some pregnant women work harder than any man, she says, let's be honest: Most pregnant workers impose costs on employers. "Responsibilities are shifted each time I go to a doctor's appointment," Lukas said. "That means I'm unavailable to do whatever work needs to be done during that time, which means one of my colleagues is often picking up the slack."

As free-market economists have long suggested, there's a way to resolve such a conflict: voluntary exchange for mutual benefit. Carrie and her employer made a deal that works for both of them. She works fewer hours and earns less money.

I confronted Sanford with the idea that lawsuits he files actually harm women because companies view them as potential lawsuit bombs. He was unfazed: "If they do take that position, they'd be violating the law. If companies lose money because of it -- and they may -- that's not necessarily a bad thing from a societal perspective."

I think it's a very bad thing. Employment and productivity matter. But viewers agreed with him. I got hate mail: "It is unbelievable that ABC would consider airing this piece! ... This turns back the clock 30 years, and Betty Friedan is rolling in her grave!" "What in the heck is wrong with you, John Stossel? This kind of backwards thinking only exists in third world countries." "Fire Stossel."

How would the job market work without discrimination laws? "You don't have to hire me, and I don't have to work for you," answers Carrie Lukas.

Who would hire pregnant women? "Plenty of employers. ... Women are incredibly productive members of the workforce," Lukas said. "We have a lot to offer. If an employer is going to discriminate against enough people, it's going to be bad for them in the long run. It's a bad business practice. And that's the best way to prevent discrimination."


While Christian population dwindles in Muslim Middle East, it thrives in Israel

Pope Benedict XVI's journey through Jordan, Israel and the West Bank prompted Ethan Bronner, Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times, to report on the declining Christian population across the Middle East. But his May 12 story, "Christians in Mideast Losing Numbers and Influence," misleads on crucial facts about this troubling trend among Palestinian and Israeli Christians. (The article also appeared May 13 in the International Herald Tribune.) First, while the Christian population is diminishing throughout the Middle East, including the Palestinian areas, the opposite is true in Israel – a key fact Bronner inexplicably ignores.

Second, contrary to Bronner's article, Palestinian Christians are not emigrating simply because of the "economy, economy, economy," but largely as a result of systematic Muslim persecution. Again, Bronner neglects this significant factor directly related to the topic of his story.

The thrust of the Times story is that all societies in the Middle East are inhospitable to Christians, who have little future anywhere in the region. Sadly this is true in the Muslim-dominated nations surrounding Israel but it's not the case in Israel itself.

The Situation Across the Mideast: As Bronner notes, the Christian population throughout the Middle East has been declining for decades. In 1914, Christians constituted 26.4 percent of the total population in what today is Israel, the Palestinian areas, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, while by 2005 they represented at most 9.2 percent (Phillipe Fargues, "The Arab Christians of the Middle East: A Demographic Perspective," in Christian Communities in the Arab Middle East, Andrea Pacini, ed, Oxford University Press, as cited in Justus Reid Weiner's Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.)

The Ignored Exception: The exception to this regional trend is Israel, where the Christian population has thrived.

As documented in the Central Bureau of Statistics' Statistical Abstract of Israel 2008 (Chart 2.2), in the last dozen years, Israel's Christian population grew from 120,600 in 1995 to 151,600 in 2007, representing a growth rate of 25 percent. In fact, the Christian growth rate has outpaced the Jewish growth in Israel in the last 12 years! In 1995, there were 4,522,300 Jews in Israel, and in 2007 there were 5,478,2000, representing a growth rate of 21 percent – 4 percent less than the Christian population grew during the same time....


Must not favour your own citizens?

A FRENCH anti-racism group has filed a legal complaint against the Louvre museum, arguing that a policy to allow free admission to European young people is discriminatory.

Earlier this year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy deflected accusations that he was not committed to culture by proudly announcing that EU citizens between 18 and 26 would be allowed free entry to national museums.

The Louvre, which houses one of the world's finest art collections, is the most visited museum in France and duly applied the measure along with other institutions, including the Palace of Versailles.

But the campaign group SOS Racisme has filed a legal complaint claiming that by focusing on EU citizens, the policy deliberately excludes young people of other nationalities and breaches human rights legislation.

The group's vice-president, Samuel Thomas, described the preferential treatment for Europe's young adults as "the translation of an ideology of the extreme right". The group said it would file legal complaints against other museums that had adopted the policy.

Earlier this month Culture Minister Christine Albanel was questioned on the policy by a Paris MP from the Green party. Ms Albanel said she was "fully aware" of the problem of young non-European adults living in France who wanted to visit museums. She added that she had asked officials in her ministry about the possibility of extending free entry to non-EU citizens aged 18 to 26 who could provide a resident's permit or French student card.

France has debated the model of free access to permanent national collections, but has shied away from any sweeping measure.



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

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

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


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Friday, May 29, 2009


Funny how every single Euro-Muslim demonstration quickly blossoms into an orgy of arson, assault, theft and general mayhem, after which the media does its best to minimize the chaos caused by the "Asian youths"...But a rather low key affair with one (1) broken window is described as follows by the supposedly respectable Daily Mail:

Nine arrested after masked mob's march against Muslim extremists turns violent

By CLAIRE ELLICOTT Last updated at 4:29 PM on 25th May 2009

Nine people have been arrested after hundreds of anti-Islamist protesters clashed with police yesterday. The streets of Luton descended into violence after demonstrators, many hiding their faces behind balaclavas, brandished England flags and chanted at officers. A group called March for England was said to have organised the rally as a peaceful protest against Muslim extremists. They were joined by a local group United People of Luton.

Two of those arrested have been charged: one man for possessing an offensive weapon after stones were found in his pockets, and a woman was charged with breaching an anti-social behaviour order. Another man was fined £80 for a public order offence. [compare these offenses with the mass destruction that routinely attends Euro-Muslim demonstrations--J.O.]

The other six people, all men, have been bailed without charge pending further inquiries. [IOW, 9 arrests, 3 petty charges for the whole "mob"--J.O.]

During the protest, the mob, which included teenagers and women, held banners with slogans such as 'No Sharia Law in the UK' and 'Respect our Troops'. [PRETTY SCARY!!]

After looking at the 2 new vids, what do you think? I doubt as much as 1% of the crowd has "masks," but that's what the Mail focused on. Hmmmmmmmmmm


Cheers For Cheney

Dick Cheney clearly drives the liberal media nuts. As much as they'd like to bask in the glow of the new and glorious Obama Era, they simply cannot achieve that requisite state of nirvana with Cheney around. They spent eight long years packaging Cheney as some evil and deadly combination of Darth Vader and the Ebola virus. Now they can add to the descriptors a new title: Count Dracula. The man refuses to die.

That's why every speech he makes draws a ferocious chorus of media boos of outrage at the idea he would dare to think he has freedom to speak in the first place. CNN's Anderson Cooper was so flustered over Cheney's latest speech at the American Enterprise Institute that he asked Cheney's daughter Elizabeth: "If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn't be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?"

This is just too rich. When President Bush was in power, he was regularly assaulted with rhetorical flame-throwers. He was a mad bomber, a dictator, a grand ayatollah, a world-class dolt, even a "smirking chimp." He was Gomer Pyle, all Three Stooges and Dan Quayle Redux. His tactics were comparable to the KGB, the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge. And his critics were painted as the essence of patriotic dissent.

But when Cheney protests the Obama administration weakening the war on terror to the point it won't even call it terror (just a "man-caused disaster"), bam! He's Benedict Arnold.

Cindy Sheehan insisted Bush killed her son in Iraq and literally suggested Team Bush was traitorous: "George and his indecent bandits traitorously had intelligence fabricated to fit their goal of invading Iraq." Everywhere she went, the media laid out the red carpet. But when Cheney defends himself, it is "traitorous"?

Cheney was blunt about waterboarding. "To call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims."

Cooper savaged Cheney's daughter with Evil Empire analogies on harsh interrogation techniques. "These are techniques which have been around. I mean, the Nazis used them. The Khmer Rouge used them. The North Koreans used them." Does Cooper really believe that America is just like those mass-murdering dictatorships? We waterboarded the architect of 9/11, but Cooper's addled outrage implies that the man with the water pitcher is as evil as the man with the wet face who sent more than 3,000 American men, women and children to their deaths.

When it comes to Bush and Cheney, activists in the media can't produce anything but distorted caricatures. Here's CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Cheney's speech: "He chose to speak in a chilling code, in which methods of torture such as waterboarding became 'enhanced interrogation,' in the way that death might be called 'enhanced sleep.'" In their fevered imaginations, waterboarding is a piece of rhetorical Saran Wrap removed from execution.

Dick Cheney knows this is all wildly exaggerated. That's why he spoke out against "feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists." He added "that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about values."

Anderson Cooper and Jeffrey Toobin: He's talking about you.

Some of those distorters of truth call themselves the "news" media, but their "values" are often at odds with the national interest. Getting the story first and getting the Pulitzer Prize seems like less of a social responsibility than keeping the country safe.

The former vice president didn't pull punches on media irresponsibility. One passage that caused a stir was his attack on the New York Times for blowing the secrecy of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. "After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn't serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people."

The New York Times didn't find that passage "fit to print." They hailed Obama's "nuanced" approach, while denouncing Cheney's speech as implying "absolutism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

Dick Cheney was right to support an aggressive war on terror then, and he's right to get out on the public stage and support an aggressive war on terror now, as the Obama administration makes crucial decisions on whether we stay aggressive, or lay our defenses down. Liberal outrage at this volume tells you he's doing something very right.

Where was he from 2001 to 2008?


Harold Koh Is Too Dangerous for America

Does Barack Obama really want to make Americans subject to foreign law and courts? That is the question senators should ask when they vote on his nomination of Harold Hongju Koh, former dean of the Yale Law School, to be the top lawyer at the State Department.

Koh is encumbered by a long paper trail that proves he is eager to use foreign and international law to interpret American law. He calls himself a transnationalist, which means wanting U.S. courts to "domesticate" foreign and international law -- i.e., integrate it into U.S. domestic law binding on U.S. citizens.

Koh wants to put the United States under a global legal system that would diminish our "distinctive rights culture," such as our broad speech and religion rights, due process and trial by jury. Koh complains that our First Amendment gives "protections for speech and religion ... far greater emphasis and judicial protection in America than in Europe or Asia."

Yes, our Constitution does give individuals more rights and freedom than any other country, and we Americans like those rights and freedoms. But Koh thinks we should bow to foreign rules and court decisions, and to United Nations treaties whether or not we have ratified them.

The State Department's chief lawyer is not just any lawyer. He becomes the voice of the United States on international legal issues, such as the negotiation and U.S. interpretation of treaties and U.N. pronouncements.

Importing treaties and foreign law into American law could impose lots of rulings that the American people don't want, such as approval of same-sex marriage, unlimited abortion, legalized prostitution and abolition of the death penalty. This would be a broadside assault on American sovereignty.

Foreign law is fundamentally different from American law. Whereas our Constitution sets forth limited governmental powers and recognizes broad individual rights against government (such as freedom of religion and speech), European constitutions proclaim entitlements to government services such as education, health care, maternity leave, housing and environmental protection.

We certainly don't want to import law from foreign countries that recognize polygamy, arranged marriages between cousins, so-called honor killings of women who reject such arrangements, cutting off hands as punishment for theft, stoning women to death as punishment for adultery and prohibiting the private ownership of guns.

As Judge Robert Bork has written, international law is really not law as Americans understand the term -- it is just international politics. Not passed by any legislature, international law is often written ex post facto and administered by foreign or U.N. bureaucrats pretending to be judges.

Unfortunately, Koh's views are not unique among left-wing lawyers or even among Supreme Court justices, and it's long past time for us to rise up and put an end to this un-American nonsense. The confirmation of Koh would give legal support to the Supreme Court justices who have already said they favor using foreign law.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who calls himself a "comparativist," suggested in a dissent in Knight v. Florida that it is "useful" to consider court decisions in India, Jamaica and Zimbabwe on allowable delays of execution. Zimbabwe may have much experience with executions, but we don't need its guidance about due process.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been making speeches advising lawyers that "your perspective on constitutional law should encompass the world. ... Our island or Lone Ranger mentality is beginning to change."

While still on the High Court, Sandra Day O'Connor told a Georgetown University audience that international law "is vital if judges are to faithfully discharge their duties. ... International law is a help in our search for a more peaceful world."

Even Justice Anthony Kennedy invoked foreign "authorities" when he couldn't find any language in the U.S. Constitution to justify overturning the Texas sodomy law in 2003. His decision cited non-American sources, including a committee advising the British Parliament, decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, a brief filed by former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and "other nations, too."

Kennedy emphasized the "values we share with a wider civilization." In fact, most other countries do not share American values, and we certainly do not want to share theirs.

During his confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John G. Roberts pointed out a particular danger of using foreign law. He said that reliance on foreign law wrongly "expands the discretion of the judge" and substitutes a judge's "personal preferences" for the U.S. Constitution.

Citing foreign law gives a veneer of respectability to liberals who espouse the "living Constitution" heresy and want to change it without obtaining the approval of the American people through the amendment or legislative processes.

The Senate should reject the nomination of Harold Koh. Then, the Senate should require all judicial nominees to proclaim their adherence to the U.S. Constitution as written, and their rejection of the use of foreign or international law to interpret American law.


Elena Bonner on Israel

Excerpt below: Elena Bonner is the widow of Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov

Throughout the years of Israel’s existence there has been war. Victorious wars, and also wars which Israel was not allowed to win. Each and every day — literally every day — there is the expectation of a terrorist act or a new war. We have seen the Oslo Peace Initiatives and the Camp-David Hand-shake and the Road-map and Land for Peace (there is not much land — from one side of Israel on a clear day you can see the other side with the naked eye).

Now, there is a new (actually, quite old) motif currently in fashion (in fact it’s an old one): “Two states for two peoples.” It sounds good. And there is no controversy in the peace-making Quartet, made up of the U.S., the UN, the EU, and Russia (some great peace-maker, with its Chechen war and its Abkhazian-Ossetian provocation). The Quartet, and the Arab countries, and the Palestinian leaders (both Hamas and Fattah) put additional demands to Israel. I will speak only of one demand: that Israel take back the Palestinian refugees. And here a little history and demography are needed.

According to the official UN definition, those who have fled from violence and wars are considered refugees — but not their descendants who are born in another country. At one time the Palestinian refugees and the Jewish refugees from Arab countries were about equal in number — about 700,000 to 800,000. The newly-created state of Israel took in the Jews (about 600,000). They were officially recognized as refugees by UN Resolution 242, but not provided with any UN assistance. Palestinians, however, are considered refugees not only in the first generation, but in the second, third, and now even in the fourth generation. According to the UN Works and Relief Agency’s report, the number of registered Palestinian refugees has grown from 914,000 in 1950 to more than 4.6 million in 2008, and continues to rise due to natural population growth. All these people have the rights of Palestinian refugees and are eligible to receive humanitarian aid.

The entire population of Israel is about 7.5 million, among them about 2.5 million ethnic Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. Imagine Israel then, if another five million Arabs flood into it; Arabs would substantially outnumber the Jewish population. Thus created next to Israel will be a Palestinian state cleansed of Jews, because in addition to the demand that Palestinian refugees return to Israel, there is also the demand that Judea and Samaria be cleansed of Jews and turned over to Palestinians – while in Gaza today there is not a single Jew remaining.

The result is both strange and frigthening, and not because Israel will be actually destroyed – it’s a different time and different Jews. It is terrifying to see the short memory of the august peace-making Quartet, their leaders and their citizens if they let this happen. Because the plan “two states for two peoples” is the creation of one state, ethnically cleansed of Jews, and a second one with the potential to do the same thing. A Judenfrei Holy Land - the dream of Adolph Hitler come true at last. So think again, those who are still able, who has a fascist inside him today?

And another question that has been a thorn for me for a long time. It’s a question for my human rights colleagues. Why doesn’t the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit trouble you in the same way as the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners?

You fought for and won the opportunity for the International Committee of the Red Cross, journalists, and lawyers to visit Guantanamo. You know prison conditions, the prisoners’ everyday routine, their food. You have met with prisoners subjected to torture. The result of your efforts has been a ban on torture and a law to close this prison. President Obama signed it in the first days of his coming to the White House. And although he, like President Bush before him, does not know what to do with the Guantanamo prisoners, there is hope that the new Administration will come up with something.

But during the two years Shalit has been held by terrorists, the world human rights community has done nothing for his release. Why? He is a wounded soldier, and fully falls under the protection of the Geneva Conventions. The Conventions say clearly that hostage-taking is prohibited, that representatives of the Red Cross must be allowed to see prisoners of war, especially wounded prisoners, and there is much else written in the Geneva Conventions about Shalit’s rights. The fact that representatives of the Quartet conduct negotiations with the people who are holding Shalit in an unknown location, in unknown conditions, vividly demonstrates their scorn of international rights documents and their total legal nihilism. Do human rights activists also fail to recall the fundamental international rights documents?

And yet I still think (and some will find this naïve) that the first tiny, but real step toward peace must become the release of Shalit. Release — not exchange for 1000 or 1,500 prisoners who are in Israeli prisons serving court sentences for real crimes.

Returning to my question of why human rights activists are silent, I can find no answer except that Shalit is an Israeli soldier, Shalit is a Jew. So again, it is conscious or unconscious anti-Semitism. Again, it is fascism.

Thirty-four years have passed since the day when I came to this city to represent my husband, Andrei Sakharov, at the 1975 Nobel Prize ceremony. I was in love with Norway then. The reception I received filled me with joy. Today, I feel Alarm and Hope (the title Sakharov used for his 1977 essay written at the request of the Nobel Committee).

Alarm because of the anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment growing throughout Europe and even further afield. And yet, I hope that countries, their leaders, and people everywhere will recall and adopt Sakharov’s ethical credo: “In the end, the moral choice turns out to be also the most pragmatic choice.”



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

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

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


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

British town halls will no longer bow to 'compensation culture' with plans afoot for thousands of new adventure playgrounds

Town hall chiefs performed a U-turn yesterday by calling on parents to shake-off the 'cotton wool culture'. Local Government Association members pledged they would 'not bow to the compensation culture' and vowed to press on and build thousands of adventure playgrounds.

However, local authorities have for years been behind bans on traditional games such as conkers and snowball fights, amid health and safety fears. In 2006 alone, 33 laws and more than 1,000 regulations were introduced designed to reduce possible risks faced by youngsters.

Experts have warned that anxious parents are raising a generation of 'battery-farmed kids' denied the independence, experience and education that comes from exploring the outdoor world. Just one in ten children play regularly in parks, fields and woods according to a survey commissioned by Natural England. Yet 81 per cent say they would like more freedom to play outside.

To address these concerns, the LGA is to sweep away the 'no ball games' culture with zip wires, tree houses and tunnels installed in parks. Council-run holiday schemes are also offering activities such as BMX biking and surfing. More than 3,500 playgrounds will be built or refurbished by 2011 under a £235million Government scheme.

LGA chairman Margaret Eaton said: 'Children playing outside is a fundamental part of growing up. 'We do our youngsters no favours by wrapping them up in cotton wool. Town halls are determined not to bow to the compensation culture.'


Those generous California taxpayers again

In 1992, after he stopped wearing clothes to his UC Berkeley classes, Andrew Martinez was something of a walking only-in-Bezerkeley joke as the campus' own Naked Guy. But his life was no laughing matter.

Around 1997, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In 2003, he was arrested for assaulting a staff member at a halfway house where he was a resident. He spent the next two-and-a-half years in Santa Clara County jail, its acute psychiatric unit, Napa State Hospital, and Atascadero State Hospital -- until at age 33, he killed himself by suffocating himself with a plastic bag in a jail cell on May 18, 2006.

Last week, Santa Clara County announced that it settled a wrongful death lawsuit and would pay $1 million to his mother, Esther Krenn. The county also agreed to notify families when inmates try to kill themselves or have a breakdown, which the county's lead Deputy County Counsel John Winchester told The Chronicle's Henry K. Lee it already had been doing informally.

On Tuesday, California voters rejected five budget measures on the special election ballot. Yet this settlement demonstrates how impossible it is to expect state and local governments to deliver leaner, smarter services. The incentives in government reward spending, not saving.

To start, $1 million seemed an awfully large sum to award a mother for a son with little to no earning power. Granted, the system fails whenever a mentally ill person kills himself in jail. But if you agree with Krenn's complaint that county staff "were deliberately indifferent" to Martinez's safety, violated his civil rights and wrongfully caused his death, it's still hard to understand what value there is for mentally-ill inmates in seeing $1 million go to Krenn's and attorney Geri Lynn Green's bank accounts.

"The value is the idea of the value of a schizophrenic's life. There are 18 million people in this country who suffer" from serious mental illness, Green told me. "They can work. They can become productive members of society. They can become taxpayers."

Sorry, but Martinez didn't even last in a halfway house. Winchester told me that the county settled because, "The cost to pursue the case through trial may have exceeded the county's insurance deductible" of $500,000. The insurance covered the other $500,000.

In her suit, Krenn had named the county, various local agencies and 11 staffers in their individual and official capacities -- which meant huge legal bills for the county. And you never know if a kooky jury might award an even larger bonanza to the Naked Guy's mom.

Walter Olson of www.overlawyered.com noted that "as soon as you sue people personally, the atmosphere changes. There is fear in the office. Everyone is more grateful to the lawyers for getting that off the plate. That translates into higher settlement values, and the lawyers count on that."

It's not clear if the family-notification policy that was part of the settlement will save a single life -- because the inmate has to consent to treatment, and many mentally ill inmates may not want their families to know they need treatment.

There is another effect, however, of policy by litigation, Olson noted: It adds up. With excessive litigation, law-school clinics and government bodies choosing to settle because it's "near-term" cheaper, jail policies constantly are rewritten until you see "a way of running jails and prisons that very few people would have designed from scratch," Olson noted. "Outside management by litigators" amounts to "management by no one at all."

Let us not forget the other laws at play in this saga. Specifically, Martinez had the right to refuse a plea bargain and the legal ability to fight attempts to treat his mental illness.

Green railed against "incarcerating mentally ill folks" and "criminalizing a health care problem" when an individual really needs help. Treatment, she said, was "just what he wanted; it just wasn't available to him."

That's not what prosecutor Dana Overstreet told me. "The rest of us all recognized that this is someone who was insane at the time he committed his crime" and that he "did not belong in prison" and needed to be in a mental health facility. Her office was working on a "not guilty by reason of insanity" plea with Martinez's public defender, she added, but "the missing piece is getting him on board."

(By the way, the county did not even call Overstreet before settling with Martinez's mother.)

A mentally ill person can use the system to fight needed treatment -- and if he harms himself in the process, it's a jackpot for mom. This is the same mother who on Monday told Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson, "The Naked Guy thing didn't bother me because I knew there was a lot of thought behind it and he meant well."

Because Martinez killed himself in jail, she gets $1 million. Attorney Peggy Doyle, who has represented municipalities, noted, "Some tragedies seem inevitable, the only question being when and where they finally happen. The unpredictability doesn't make them any less tragic. It does make them more prone to litigation. For the defendant, there can be a luck-of-the-draw factor."

For the taxpayers, for the mental health workers and criminal justice officials caught in this snare, the cards were losers. Taxpayers can be squeezed and county workers can be accused, but they cannot win.


Respect or Revulsion?

In his much ballyhooed commencement address at Notre Dame, President Barack Obama urged protagonists in the abortion debate to respect the opinions of those whose views differ from their own. Should abortion opponents respect the views of those who advocate abortion on demand? Absolutely not!

Abortion is an act of wanton barbarism perpetrated on an innocent child. In a saline abortion, the unborn child is poisoned and scalded in utero by toxic chemicals, resulting in the delivery of a dead baby. In a dilation and evacuation, the child is systematically dismembered and sucked from the womb piece by piece with a powerful vacuum. In a partial birth abortion, an intact child is delivered partially from the womb, only to have its skull pierced, its brains sucked out, and its head crushed before the rest of its tiny body is finally delivered.

If a child should somehow miraculously survive one of these Mengele-like attempts to end their existence, a number of abortion proponents—Barack Obama included—believe that the child should be killed on the table rather than permitted to enjoy the life that they refused to yield in the womb.

Pray tell, Mr. Obama, what is it about the opinions of those who advocate these acts of wanton violence that is worthy of respect? Please, don't wrap your response in the rhetoric of "choice." We aren't talking here about the right to choose between chocolate and vanilla. We are talking about the so-called right to choose to kill an innocent child. Where on God's green earth or in the Constitution does that "right" come from?

A gifted communicator like you knows that people resort to euphemisms when they want to conceal the ugliness of that which they advocate. And as a skilled advocate, you know that "choice" is a euphemism for "I want to be free to kill my innocent child," but no "pro-choice" politician is willing to say it.

Your attempt to invoke the virtues of "tolerance" in this discussion is merely more rhetorical manipulation. Your side hasn't shown any tolerance toward the opinions of judicial candidates whom they feared might chip away at Roe v. Wade and its progeny. Would you have pro-lifers emulate the "tolerance" of your supporters at N.O.W. or N.A.R.A.L. toward folks like Robert Bork, John Roberts, or Sam Alito? Perhaps you would have them model the "tolerance" of your friends on the Left like Perez Hilton toward the opinions of people like Carrie Prejean (Miss California)?

Mr. Obama, your supporters advocate zero tolerance for the opinions of those who discriminate on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation, but they seem to have no problem with the opinions of those who advocate discrimination on the basis of age, size, or location. Do those classifications provide a rational basis for discrimination? Are the opinions of those who advocate discrimination on the basis of such categories more worthy of respect than those who advocate discrimination based on the other categories? Would you honestly have us believe that those who are older have more worth than those who are younger; that big people are worth more than small ones; or that our membership in the human family depends on where we happen to reside?

Mr. Obama, by your own measure, you are guilty of bigotry—and worse. You not only affirm the right to discriminate against human beings because they are young, small, and in the womb—you embrace the "right" to destroy them. Which is worse—to discriminate, or to destroy based on "unalterable characteristics of our human existence?"

No doubt you would have the pro-life community at least respect the sincerity with which you hold your convictions. Sorry, we can't even affirm that. Sincerity is not the measure of truth. You may sincerely believe that taking poison will heal you, but you will be sincerely wrong and sincerely dead—as are 50 million unborn children since 1973.

The debate over abortion is not going to go away, Mr. Obama. At times, it will become emotional and raucous and loud as it did at Notre Dame—as it should be when the lives of human beings are at stake. Perhaps one day you will search your heart and realize that you have aided and abetted a terrible wrong of gigantic proportions. Perhaps one day you will change your mind and seek to protect the least among us. Then, and only then, will pro-lifers respect your opinion


Senior judge blames slow police response times for Britain's 'vigilante culture'

A senior judge has warned of a rise in vigilante crimes caused by slow police response times. Richard Bray said citizens were increasingly taking matters into their own hands because of lack of confidence in the forces of law and order. He was speaking as he sentenced a father and his sons for attacking a man they thought had vandalised their car.

Mr Bray, a circuit judge at Northampton Crown Court, said: 'Nobody bothers to phone the police any more. They go round and sort it out themselves - and I know why. 'It is because the police do not actually come round so people go out themselves and deal with it.'

A police pledge, to which all 43 forces in the country have signed up, promises that in urban areas police will arrive within 15 minutes and in rural areas in 20 minutes. But Judge Bray's scathing comments make clear he feels they are falling short of those commitments.

The attack which prompted his outburst occurred last year when Henry Smith, 48, and his sons Ian, 23, and Jamie, 19, decided to take revenge for damage to their car. The men, from Kettering, went to a nearby house and punched a man to the ground. Ian Smith and his brother then punched and kicked him on the floor, leaving him with injuries to his face, teeth and mouth. Both admitted grievous bodily harm at a previous hearing.

Ian Smith was given a suspended jail sentence of 50 weeks and ordered to pay £1,000 to the victim. Jamie Smith received a 40-week suspended sentence and ordered to pay £1,500 compensation. Their father had pleaded guilty to affray and was ordered to pay costs. They were ordered to complete 390 hours of unpaid work between them. Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'It is refreshing to hear a judge accept the extent to which ordinary people are being forced to fend for themselves thanks to the failure of the criminal justice system. 'This will continue so long as the police are forced to respond to the priorities of politicians rather than ordinary people. They'll spend their time trying to meet arbitrary and distorting targets rather than trying to catch serious criminals.'

A spokesman for the Home Office said it did not keep figures on how quickly officers responded to callout times, despite its pledge. The spokesman added that it was not possible to keep specific figures on vigilante crime.

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: 'The judge is entitled to his opinion but it is one we do not share. In the case he refers to, the incident in question was not reported to us so we were not in a position to respond. 'We invest heavily in officers, staff, training and technology to ensure members of the public can be confident of receiving a good service from Northamptonshire Police.'



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

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

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


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is it Okay for Liberals to Call Blacks the ‘N’ Word?

By Lloyd Marcus

“Maybe this nigger should shut up and learn his place” is one of numerous racist hate-filled comments posted on YouTube attacking me, a black Conservative, for writing the American Tea Party Anthem. And who is spewing this racist hate? So-called “tolerant” liberals.

But how can this be? According to the biased media, liberal Democrats are saviors saintly protecting blacks from evil rich white conservative Republicans. Regretfully, their “devoid of the truth” marketing plan has been extremely successful. For generations, like zombies, blacks have awarded liberal Democrats 90 percent of their vote.

Like the woman in the old diet infomercial, I want to scream to my fellow blacks, “STOP THE INSANITY! Liberals Democrats are NOT OUR FRIENDS!” They want to keep us on their “you’re a victim” plantation. Simply put, liberal Democrats HATE “uppity” blacks who achieve without their programs such as Affirmative Action.

Here are my outrageously stupid beliefs which have caused libs to call me the “N” word on numerous occasions: I love my country; I tell youths all limits are self-imposed; no one is entitled to the fruits of someone else’s labor; and I refuse to see myself as a victim.

Liberal actress-comedian Janeane Garofalo, diagnoses blacks who think like me as suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome”. Garofalo, in her arrogance, is REALLY saying, “Get your black ‘A’ back on the plantation. Who do you think you are? You are NOT free. You are an eternal victim. Every white American will ALWAYS owe you! GOT IT, you dumb, ‘N’?”

And yet, with help from their local buddies in the media, Democrats successfully brand Conservative Republicans as racists. History reveals the truth that blatant racism has been the elephant in the liberal Democrat’s living room for years. See this site for the facts.

FACT! Conservative Republicans do not persecute black achievers. Liberal Democrats DO! Blacks achieving without Liberal Democrat assistance are targeted for destruction. Examples are former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. These two brilliant blacks should have been held up to black youths as shining examples of what can be achieved in America via character, education and hard work. Instead, Liberal Democrats despise Rice and Thomas. Rice and Thomas severely weaken the lie that America is racist with limited opportunity for minorities.

Also, the “victim business” can be extremely profitable. Remember when the NAACP got $54 million from Denny’s because some blacks received slow service? Give me a break! And then, there is the dirty little secret among liberal black Democrats. Rice and Thomas broke an unspoken rule which goes as follows: to be true to one’s blackness, one MUST always harbor, at least a minimal, resentment against white America!

Here are more examples of liberal racism. A white blogger posted a doctored photo of black former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in white minstrel blackface. The caption read, “Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house.” Liberal cartoonists published vicious racist cartoons of Rice. They even called her “Aunt Jemima.” Former KKK member, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.), used the “N” word in an interview. Senator Byrd apologized and everyone moved on. A few Republicans who made far milder gaffes were verbally flogged within an inch of their lives and subjected to high-tech lynchings.

The media ignores liberal Democrat racism. I guess they consider it a kind of ‘tough love’ to reign in us blacks who have wondered off the victim plantation. When they call us the “N” word, it is only because they care. “Ouch, I’m movin’, easy with that whip!”

It is time for blacks to wake up and smell the betrayal. Democrats’ so-called compassionate policies and programs have destroyed many black families. Before Democrat President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in 1965, most black families were intact. Today, over 60 percent of black kids grow up without dads. Again, I refer you to this site for the facts. The media and Democrats are co-conspirators in keeping as many blacks as possible crippled with a victim mindset and dependent on Democrats and government. Totally disgusting.

So, you libs and Dems, keep calling me the “N’ word. It only strengthens my resolve to keep standing up for the truth. In my best Charlton Heston as Moses impression, I command, “Liberal Democrats, LET MY PEOPLE GO!”


Criticism of minorities in Hungary

Gypsies ("Roma") often behave in very anti-social ways and attract odium wherever they go. Hungary has large numbers of them

On paper, Krisztina Morvai is the kind of woman that any political party would like on their ticket: an attractive blonde working mum, who juggles a high-flying legal career with bringing up three children. Yet for someone notably more photogenic than many of her party followers, Dr Krisztina Morvai gets called some ugly names.

"I am a decent politician and a mother of three children, yet you in the West keep on portraying me as a Nazi and a fascist," scolds the would-be MEP for Hungary's Jobbik movement, just one of many extremist parties hoping for a breakthrough in next month's European Parliamentary elections. "Don't think you can keep doing this forever."

Meet the coiffeured, fragrant new face of the Far Right in Europe, whose blonde bob, customary red jacket and campaigning feminist background make her arguably the world's only cross between Hillary Clinton and British National Party leader Nick Griffin. Or rather, don't meet her. Having agreed to be interviewed by The Telegraph in Budapest last week for an interview, she changed her mind at the last-minute after taking offence at British newspaper reports linking Jobbik to anti-Semitism and anti-Roma violence.

"I am seriously considering as a lawyer to sue because of the damage they have done to my reputation," she warned, the red, lipsticked smile that radiates from billboards all over Hungary suddenly fading.

Yet for all the claims of being misrepresented - or perhaps because even because of them - parties like Jobbik are finding ready audiences across Europe before the June 4 polls, capitalising on mounting joblessness and social unrest caused by the global economic meltdown. Continent-wide, they are expected to return at least 25 MEPs into the 736-seat parliament, passing a threshold that entitles them to status as a formal political bloc, and annual funding worth up to £1 million.

In Britain, where Mr Griffin has been tipped as the bloc's possible leader, the key to success has been to drop any bootboy image in favour of suited respectability. But in Hungary and elsewhere, the approach has been to combine the two.

While Dr Morvai will be its respectable face in Brussels, the Jobbik, whose name means "Movement for a Better Hungary", also has its own uniformed street militia, the Hungarian Guard. A self-styled citizens' defence force, its stated aim is to prevent crime by the country's half-million strong Roma community. But critics say it bears a disturbing resemblance to the Arrow Cross, Hungary's Second World War fascist militiamen, who collaborated with the Nazis in killing tens of thousands of Hungary's other prominent minority, the Jews.

"We are not racist or Nazi," protested Jobbik spokesman Zoltan Fuzessy, whose party insists the Hungarian Guard's uniforms are simply national folk costume. "But there is a problem with the Roma and we need to talk about that."

Be they Boy Scouts or modern-day Brownshirts, Dr Morvai, 46, is still an unlikely bedfellow for such a movement. Indeed, her CV looks more like that of a polician of the liberal left. A professor of law at Budapest University, she is a practising human-rights lawyer, the author of a respected book on domestic violence, and won a Red Cross "Freddie Mercury" prize for promoting Aids awareness.

Her politically correct halo slipped, however, after she was ousted from a United Nations committee on gender rights, where the Israeli government objected to comments she made about the plight of Arab women in the Palestinian territories. Since then, she has drifted ever rightwards, flirting first with the conservative Fidesz opposition party, and last year joining Jobbik as it sought wider electoral appeal.

While she is careful to avoid inflammatory talk on race, her campaign speeches play directly to a populist sense among Hungarians that they have been treated as "second class citizens" since joining the European Union in 2004. "We are getting further from West-European countries, being reduced to an almost colonial level," she said. "Hungarian businesses, farmers, growers go bankrupt one by one."

Jobbik has also capitalised on widespread disillusionment with Hungary's domestic politicians, who are seen to have squandered its early advantage as the most Western-leaning and economically dynamic of all the ex-Eastern bloc countries. Since then, Hungary's low-cost, high tech manufacturing sector, making everything from car to circuit boards, has been among the hardest hit in Eastern Europe by the global economic crisis, and unemployment has hit an 11 year high of 8.4 per cent.

Like her party, Dr Morvai denies being anti-Semitic, homophobic, or racist in any way, dismissing such criticisms as the "favourite topics" of an "ignorant and misled" European Union.

But magazines supportive of her party’s aims openly play on such fears. One publication available at the venue of a Jobbik press conference last week contained an item entitled “Who decides?” on Hungary’s future. The non-Jobbik options were either a dreadlocked Jew, a pair of naked homosexuals, or a dark-skinned thug. Such inflammatory rhetoric comes amid a recent wave of violence against Hungary's Roma community, in which Roma homes have been petrol-bombed and in which seven people have died.

But it has gone down well in towns like Pomaz, a well-heeled commuter settlement nestling in the forested Pilis hills outside Budapest, where Jobbik held a rally last week. Aside from a few skinheads hanging at the door, the assembled company of middle-aged couples with their children could have been a school parents' evening.

"Is this paramilitary clothing?" asked Jobbik's grey-haired, donnish vice-president, Balczo Zoltan, as he gestured to the local Hungarian Guard members in their uniforms of black boots, trousers and waistcoasts with white shirts. "No, it is traditional Hungarian clothing and they have no weapons, not even a stick."

Local Guard organiser Timea Karsai, a demure, bespectacled 33-year-old whose day job is as a psychiatrist, added: "We demonstrate in towns where families have been attacked by gypsies, but we also help gypsy families themselves when they have been threatened by other gypsies. I am not a racist, just a nationalist."

Indeed, it is the "respectable" votes of people like Ms Karsai, who do not consider themselves bigots in any way, that is likely to do most to boost the showing of the Far Right in the elections. Far from signalling a new wave of Neo-Nazism, many analysts say it shows how mainstream parties have simply dismissed understandable concerns about racial problems and future immigration from Africa and Asia.

"Mainstream political parties avoid dealing with sensitive issues like Roma and immigration by dismissing it as the talk of the Far Right," said Robin Shepherd, a Europe expert at the Henry Jackson Society, a London thinktank. "But that is an easy and lazy designation, which plays into extremists' hands."

All the same, many Hungarians still find Jobbik's image unpalatable. "We are disappointed by the main parties because they are always quarrelling and lying," said Peter Nehoda, 29, an IT worker drinking coffee in a Budapest cafe. "But I wouldn't consider voting for Jobbik. The Roma people are not the only ones to blame for our problems."


Catholic Church is living with one foot in Hell

Comment from Britain

Understandably distracted by our own little crisis of trust, we have perhaps not taken in the apocalyptic import of a bigger one across the Irish Sea.

Perhaps it is a vague sense that we knew it all; perhaps reluctance to engage with the horrid details of the Ryan report into child abuse by Irish clerics. Perhaps some think it is old history, a 1950s horror. Maybe there is even a decorous sense that — as a new Archbishop of Westminster is enthroned here — it is tasteless to dwell on the wickedness deliberately concealed by his Church right into the 1990s. Or maybe our own child protection system now looks so shaky that we cannot bear to contemplate the toothless, deferential Irish respect for the priesthood that enabled thousands of children to be starved, raped, enslaved and beaten even as Ireland moved into its tiger economy in the new Europe.

But don’t look away. There are wider lessons. Ireland is at least looking squarely at it now, and trying to understand how history twisted its public values into obeisance to unanswerable clergy, so that cruelty and child rape became endemic. It was not only in orphanages and schools but in parishes where families dared not protest. For it was the courageous Colm O’Gorman who helped to prise this all open, when he spoke of his repeated rape, at 14, by Father Sean Fortune in his home village. He successfully sued the Church and challenged the Pope (whose nuncio hid behind “diplomatic immunity”).

The victim was accused by the Vatican of being part of a conspiracy; “Canon Law” defences were invoked and the first report — the Ferns report — ignored. “How can it be,” asks Mr O’Gorman, “that a church hierarchy who comment on a children’s film [Harry Potter] can fail to comment on a report, commissioned by this State, that found Rome culpable in the rape and abuse of Irish children?”

Now the wider, more terrifying Ryan report has met with almost equal evasion and the Church — which raked in millions from government subsidy over decades — has even managed to slough off most of its financial responsibility.

I am not exaggerating; rather the contrary. The Ryan report, merciless and forensic, finds the crimes “systemic, pervasive, chronic, excessive, arbitrary”. It speaks of the deliberate protection of priests and religious by their hierarchy; of inspectors and police backing off respectfully and senior clergy refusing to help the inquiry. It says that the order that housed the worst sadists, the Christian Brothers, made only a “guarded, conditional and unclear” apology, and cut a deal that no individuals should be named.

The children’s own testimonies are too harrowing to repeat: beaten, stripped, humiliated, hung from windows. Some got pregnant, some killed themselves. Sexual attack came not only from their keepers but visiting functionaries; one little boy who spoke of being assaulted by an ambulance driver was beaten by the nuns “to get the evil out of him”.

Enough. There is no defence, the evidence is overwhelming. It was a sickness of cruelty, exploitation, official cowardice and inward-looking hypocrisy traceable all the way to the Vatican. Catholicism has not been cleaned up, only lightly dusted. Some Irish dioceses have become properly robust, and Cardinal Seán Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, speaks of being “deeply ashamed”; but I do not notice him pointing his condemnation upwards or rejecting the culture of hierarchy and obedience, anonymity and deniability.

Our own new Archbishop, Vincent Nichols, expressed due horror, but then enraged survivors by praising the “courage” of clergy “who have to face these facts from their past”. Incredibly, in an interview on Five Live, he also observed: “it is a tough road to take, to face up to our own weaknesses. That is certainly true of anyone who’s deceived themselves that all they’ve been doing is taking a bit of comfort from children.”

Weakness? Comfort? God save us! It gives an insight into why the Church, quick to absolve, blithely moved known abusers on to fresh fields and fresh victims.

“They had their own laws that were written to ensure they were never in the wrong” says Mr O’Gorman, simply. And they covered their backs: when the former Archbishop of Dublin was told that he could be liable if abusers were returned to parishes, he did not prevent this happening. He just took out an insurance policy against financial losses from such claims.

It has been an Irish disaster, but has lessons for us all about the perils of respectful naivety. Archbishop Nichols, after his predecessor moved a paedophile priest to Gatwick, where he offended again, said that little was known about paedophilia then; well, he still knows little if he can talk about men “taking a bit of comfort from children”.

This is pure celibate silliness: we are not talking about cuddles here, but rape. I grew up with the Catholic doctrine of forgiveness of sins, I know the territory: but to forgive your own team and ignore their victims is not holy. It is corrupt.

When good people are smug and bad ones are slippery, great evils grow. When any institution slaps on a self-approving label — whether it is “Holy Catholic Apostolic” or like our MP’s, “Honourable” — and uses it to defy cynical inspection, the weak will suffer. What seems not to be fully understood by the hierarchy is how much damage this has done.

It gives me no pleasure to say so: I was raised a Catholic, and know what high ideals of gentleness it expresses, and how beautifully.

I learnt at 12 years old not to believe in the automatic holiness of the religious, in a South African convent where nuns hit us and spoke contemptuously of “kaffirs”. I then learnt not to condemn the lot, when I moved back to a kindly, intellectual English convent where they honestly tried to live the holy dream. I have always been able to believe the tales of evil without rejecting the whole shebang.

Many Catholic clergy do great good. The remarkable Colm O’Gorman, after decades of struggle, does not reject the ideal either: he says he wept for Father Fortune’s suicide and hopes that in afterlife he finds forgiveness.

Now that’s holiness for you, and without a smug label round its neck. And until the institutional Catholic Church recognises that, abases itself, pays up, allows whistleblowing and faces the unthinkable, it remains a disgrace. Until it learns humility, it has no hope at all. It is a Church living with one foot in Hell.


The real story of a homosexual hero

This Friday would have been slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk’s 79th birthday, and California state senator Mark Leno has introduced legislation to mark the date with a state holiday. The bill doesn’t call for a furlough from work, but instead instructs the governor to proclaim a “Harvey Milk Day” and designates “that date as having special significance in the public schools and educational institutions” and encourages them to “conduct suitable commemorative exercises.” The legislation passed muster with the state senate in overwhelming fashion last week. Though only about one in five Californians polled supports the measure, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year, Leno is optimistic. “If there’s one thing Arnold Schwarzenegger understands, it’s box office,” Leno relates. “And Harvey Milk now has box office.”

Indeed he does—and critical acclaim, too. Earlier this year, Sean Penn won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Milk in the eponymous biopic. A quarter-century ago, the Harvey Fierstein–narrated The Times of Harvey Milk won an Oscar for best documentary film.

Milk makes a rather unremarkable subject for the silver screen. In his seven years in San Francisco, he made four bids for elective office, only emerging victorious in his last—a 1977 run for city supervisor. For his persistence, Milk jokingly referred to himself as the “gay Harold Stassen.” He served for less than a year. In naming the onetime camera-shop proprietor one of the 100 most important people of the twentieth century, Time conceded, “As a supervisor, Milk sponsored only two laws—predictably, one barring anti-gay discrimination, and, less so, a law forcing dog owners to clean pets’ messes from sidewalks.” Eleven months on the city council hardly seems the stuff of Hollywood legend. So Hollywood invented a legend.

Rather than the gentle, soft-spoken idealist portrayed by Sean Penn, the real Harvey Milk was a short-tempered demagogue who cynically invented stories of victimhood to advance his political career. During his successful run for city supervisor, for instance, Milk’s camera store was the object of a glass-shattering attack by low-grade explosives. Milk blamed singer Anita Bryant, the outspoken opponent of gay-friendly legislation. “Years later friends hinted broadly that Harvey had more than a little foreknowledge that the explosions would happen,” biographer Randy Shilts noted. One friend explained to Shilts: “You gotta realize the campaign was sort of going slow, and, well . . .”

The stunt would hardly have been the sole instance of Milk’s employing deceit to further his standing within the victimhood cult. In the upside-down world of San Francisco politics, Milk curried favor with voters by boasting that his homosexuality had resulted in a dishonorable discharge from the Navy in the dark ages before the sexual revolution. But far from the in-your-face, ponytailed “Mayor of Castro Street” of the 1970s, Chief Petty Officer Milk of the 1950s was a closeted homosexual whose discharge papers reflected four years of honorable service.

Milk was far more cavalier about the privacy of others than he was about his own. When Bill Sipple became a national hero for tackling gun-toting kook Sara Jane Moore before she could kill President Gerald Ford in 1975, Milk anonymously leaked news of the former Marine’s homosexuality to the media. “It’s too good an opportunity,” Milk reasoned. “For once we can show that gays do heroic things.” Just as Milk anticipated the “outing” tactics of ACT-Up and Queer Nation, his rhetoric, too, foreshadowed the hyperbole of AIDS activists of the following decade. Milk liberally tossed the “Nazi” label at opponents of various gay-rights proposals and even compared politically moderate homosexuals to Nazi collaborators. “We are not going to allow our rights to be taken away and then march with bowed heads into the gas chambers,” Milk proclaimed at 1978’s Gay Freedom Parade in San Francisco.

Such unflattering details made neither the final draft of the “Harvey Milk Day” legislation nor the final cut of the Milk biopic. Milk’s cheerleaders are guilty of sins of omission and commission. What the film and legislation insinuate—in an effort to depict Milk as a martyr for the gay rights movement on par with Martin Luther King’s martyrdom for the Civil Rights movement—is that homophobia killed Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978.

But Harvey Milk’s homosexuality played about as much of a role in his murder as San Francisco mayor George Moscone’s heterosexuality played in his. Their murderer, troubled political neophyte Dan White, had donated $100 to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have empowered school boards to fire teachers for homosexuality. White hired a homosexual as his campaign manager and voted as a city supervisor to fund a Pride Center for homosexuals. White wasn’t driven to murder by Milk’s vision of gay rights but rather by something more pedestrian: the petty politics of City Hall. What makes for good history doesn’t always lend itself to good theater.

In a sign of the instability he would so dramatically display on November 27, a cash-strapped White had resigned his seat on the Board of Supervisors on November 10, only to demand four days later that the mayor reappoint him. Mayor Moscone publicly responded by saying that he still regarded White as a member of the board, handed back his letter of resignation, and promised him the seat. Enter Harvey Milk, who saw White as an obstacle to progressive initiatives. As the movie depicts, Milk successfully lobbied Moscone to refuse to reseat the former policeman, fireman, and Vietnam veteran. Believing Milk and Moscone guilty of perfidy, the tightly wound, sore-loser White assassinated Moscone and then Milk.

Perhaps the most amazing historical detail of the murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone is that their dramatic assassinations weren’t the biggest story to hit San Francisco in November of 1978. Bowdlerized from the Hollywood treatment is the role Harvey Milk played in the news story that eclipsed his own murder.

Nine days prior to Milk’s death, more than 900 followers of Jim Jones—many of them campaign workers for Milk—perished in the most ghastly set of murder-suicides in modern history. Before the congregants of the Peoples Temple drank Jim Jones’s deadly Kool-Aid, Harvey Milk and much of San Francisco’s ruling class had already figuratively imbibed. Milk occasionally spoke at Jones’s San Francisco–based headquarters, promoted Jones through his newspaper columns, and defended the Peoples Temple from its growing legion of critics. Jones provided conscripted “volunteers” for Milk’s campaigns to distribute leaflets by the tens of thousands. Milk returned the favor by abusing his position of public trust on behalf of Jones’s criminal endeavors.

“Rev. Jones is widely known in the minority communities here and elsewhere as a man of the highest character, who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems which have been amazing in their scope and effectiveness,” Supervisor Milk wrote President Jimmy Carter seven months before the Jonestown carnage. The purpose of Milk’s letter was to aid and abet his powerful supporter’s abduction of a six-year-old boy. Milk’s missive to the president prophetically continued: “Not only is the life of a child at stake, who currently has loving and protective parents in the Rev. and Mrs. Jones, but our official relations with Guyana could stand to be jeopardized, to the potentially great embarrassment of our State Department.” John Stoen, the boy whose actual parents Milk libeled to the president as purveyors of “bold-faced lies” and blackmail attempts, perished at Jonestown. This, the only remarkable episode in Milk’s brief tenure on the San Francisco board of supervisors, is swept under the rug by his hagiographers.

Sean Penn’s Harvey Milk is as real as Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man. Who has time for the sordid details of purportedly staged hate crimes and boosterism of America’s most prolific mass murderer when there is a gay Martin Luther King to be mythologized? Even the fervent atheist Milk understood the need for patron saints. When confronted by a jaded supporter over his fabricated tale that the Navy had booted him out because of his sex life, Milk responded: “Symbols. Symbols. Symbols.” He understood his movement better than his movement did. When the facts didn’t fit the script, both Milk and his present-day admirers adjusted the facts. As the elected sponsors of Harvey Milk Day realize, Californians are more likely to remember the celluloid hero they saw depicted by Sean Penn earlier this year than the obscure city official who walked largely unnoticed in their midst three decades ago.

The advocates of a Harvey Milk Day know box office. They don’t know the real Harvey Milk.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scottish evangelicals vow to hold back cash after pro-homosexual vote

Good to see that some Scottish Presbyterians still believe in the Bible. And in good Scottish fashion, they will keep money in their pockets to make their point. I am pretty sure there is a schism just down the road. Schisms are very Scottish

Traditionalists opposed to the appointment of gay ministers are planning a campaign of non-co-operation with the Kirk establishment, to deny the Church of Scotland hundreds of thousands of pounds in revenue.

The move is in retaliation against Saturday night’s vote at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to uphold the decision of Aberdeen Presbytery to appoint the Rev Scott Rennie to Queen’s Cross parish church, by 326 vote to 267. There were more than 250 abstentions, leaving Mr Rennie, a divorced father who lives with his male partner, admitting that the issue still had to be discussed further by the Church.

Mr Rennie, 37, who served on the Church of Scotland human sexuality taskforce two years ago, said that there were tens of gay ministers already working in the Church, who were afraid of coming out. “Two gay minsters came to talk [to the taskforce] under anonymity. It's awful that people feel they have to have anonymity before they are free to talk,” he said. “There are issues here for the Church. A space has to be found for gay Christians to have their voices heard. You can’t have an open debate about sexuality if one party feels it is unsafe to talk.”

Evangelical commissioners were aghast at the result of Saturday’s vote in support of Mr Rennie’s appointment, which followed more than four hours of fierce debate. Many felt that proceedings had been rigged by their highly organised liberal opponents on the first day of the General Assembly, it having been ensured that a scheduled debate on the primacy of heterosexual marriage was held only after Mr Rennie’s position was ratified.

That overture (motion) on the sanctity of marriage, proposed by the traditionalist Presbytery of Lochcarron and Skye, will be debated today. Already, a number of counter-motions and amendments have been tabled by liberals which, their opponents fear, could see matters of sexual morality swept under the carpet and considered for a year or more by a Kirk commission, rather than debated on the floor of the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh.

Despite their defeat, evangelical leaders made clear that rather than quit the Church, they intended to fight their corner. They claim that their congregations are among the largest in the Kirk, and simply through the collection plate provide a substantial income stream which can be denied to the church authorities.

The impact of a freeze on collection contributions would be big. A petition against Mr Rennie’s appointment gained the signatures of 272 serving parish ministers, among the 964 listed in Scotland. Evangelicals say that their congregations are among the biggest, from a church membership of less than 500,000. The largest congregations can generate more than £100,000 per annum, up to two thirds being paid over to the church authorities.

The evangelical ministers the Rev David Court, of New Restalrig Church, Edinburgh, and the Rev William Philip, of St George’s-Tron, Glasgow, gave warning in a joint statement of the battles to come: “The General Assembly has shown itself to be seriously out of touch with its grassroots in the churches. But it should remember that these are the people who have — hitherto, at least — kept a creaking denomination afloat financially. There will be a great deal less willingness to do that from now on,” they said.

“People are not obliged to give,” added the Rev Richard Buckley, of Forward Together, a leading evangelical organisation. “As far as we are concerned the Church has sent out a wrong message about Christian morality. God has revealed the truth and . . . the Word of God stands for ever.”

Dr James Simpson, one of three former Moderators of the Church of Scotland who during the debate spoke up for Mr Rennie’s appointment, warned that “some of the bitterest debates in church history begin with the words ‘Scripture says’.” Mr Rennie agreed. “There is no one reading of Scripture that falls from the skies. One of the great myths in the debate about sexuality is that one of the parties believes the Bible and the other does not. It is a caricature,” he said. [How could Romans chapter 1 be clearer?]

Mr Rennie’s appointment was warmly welcomed by Richard Baker, the Labour MSP for North East Scotland. A spokesman for Alex Salmond said: “The First Minister is pleased that the debate was conducted in good spirit and in an atmosphere of mutual understanding.” [Laughable politician speak]


British Hospital worker told she'll be sacked if she keeps wearing crucifix because 'it might spread infection'

A Christian hospital worker is facing the sack for wearing a crucifix - even though it is not on show. Helen Slatter has been ordered by her bosses not to wear the one-inch tall gold cross on a chain round her neck, although they have no objection to her keeping it in her pocket. It means the 43-year-old must choose between her faith and her job as a phlebotomist - collecting blood samples - at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester.

The NHS Trust involved said that the issue was not Miss Slatter's religion, but conforming to a hospital uniform policy. This limits the amount of jewellery which staff are allowed to wear in the hope of reducing the spread of infection. It follows Health Secretary Alan Johnson's announcement of an anti-superbug dress code for all medics last September. This ordered all hospital staff to wear short sleeves and forgo wristwatches and jewellery whenever they are in contact with patients, in an attempt to halt the spread of MRSA and C. difficile.

Yesterday Miss Slatter said: 'I wear a fob watch and a name badge on my uniform, so what difference does a little cross underneath it make? 'I knew about the policy on jewellery, but this is a symbol of my beliefs. Some Muslim women who work here wear headscarfs. It just seems so wrong that I've been put in this horrible situation.'

Miss Slatter said she has worn the cross under her uniform since she started working at the hospital five years ago. She believes a colleague could have reported her after spotting it accidentally slip out earlier this month. She said: 'I've always worn my cross inside my uniform. It means a lot to me. They've told me I can carry it in my pocket but that simply isn't the same. I can't go along with that. 'My faith is important to me but I'm not a Bible-basher, I don't push it on colleagues or other people. 'Now I have to choose between my job and my faith and that's an awful situation to be in.'

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital says the crucifix ban is not down to religion but due to a uniform policy designed to reduce the spread of infection and the possibility of attacks by patients. [So how does a cross under clothes affect that?]

Mother of one Miss Slatter, of Gloucester, was told at a disciplinary meeting on Friday that she will be sent home if she continues to have the chain and crucifix around her neck. She has since signed off sick from work because of stress while she considers her next move.

She worships at St Peter's Catholic Church Gloucester, where the parish priest Canon Bernard Massey is also a chaplain at the hospital. He said: 'There seems to be an inconsistency in the trust's approach. When I visit patients in the hospital I wear a cross myself. 'It could be interpreted by some people that the problem is not that she is wearing it, but what she is wearing. 'I would be unhappy if she was made to take it off. I've been led to believe that some of the science about how a necklace spreads infection is dubious. 'They need to find ways of accommodating the beliefs of individuals with the needs of patients and hospitals, assuming that all these are fair and realistic.'

A spokesman for the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust said: 'The issue is not one of religion. The Trust employs a uniform policy which must be adhered to at all times. 'This policy applies to all staff employed by the Trust who wear a uniform on duty. 'Necklaces and chains present two problems - firstly, they can provide a surface that can harbour and spread infections, and secondly, they present a health and safety issue whereby a patient could grab a necklace or chain and cause harm to the member of staff. 'Jewellery is restricted to one pair of plain and unobtrusive studs in the earlobes only and no facial piercings are permitted, including tongue studs. One plain ring or band is permitted on the ring finger.'


Blood, sweat and development

The latest high-profile BBC show, ‘Blood, Sweat and Takeaways’, is a series of documentaries looking at how consumerism in the west is leading to poverty and exploitation within the Asian food industries, the first episode focussed on the Indonesian tuna industry. As can be expected with the BBC this show only presents half the debate.

It puts across a very tainted view of the situation; it implies that we are demanding cheaper and cheaper food in greater quantities than before. In order for this food to be produced, workers in foreign countries need to be exploited. It hints at a neo-colonialist world where Asian producers are at the beck and call of our demands at whatever human cost.

The evidence in the show is worrying, but the arguments are not conclusive. Clearly, hundreds of workers working and sleeping in cramp and hot factory conditions with few breaks is a distressing scene that none of us would envy – and yes, we probably have disassociated the food we eat with its production, but this is not the full story.

We need to consider the flip-side to these realities. Supermarkets already only make around 3p profit per tin of tuna they sell. If they were forced to pass any more of this profit onto the producers, the incentive for selling tuna would be severely limited (especially when the opportunity cost of stocking these goods is the sale of much higher-profit foods). This would result in a decline in the tuna industry and the consequential unemployment of the factory workers.

I’m sure after watching the show many would call for a growth in Fair Trade products. As the ASI report ‘Unfair Trade’ has shown this would not be beneficial to the individual producers. Even if in the short run the benefits filtered down to individual workers, the higher prices would encourage more firms to enter the market, artificially forcing prices down further in the long-run.

It is easy to blame consumers for these problems, and although our casual spending may have fuelled the rapid development and industrialisation of many foreign industries these jobs would not exist at all were it not for our consumption.


End Run on Free Speech

by George Will

For several decades, most of the ingenuity that liberal academics have invested in First Amendment analysis has aimed to justify limiting the core activity that the amendment was written to protect -- political speech. These analyses treat free speech as not an inherent good but as a merely instrumental good, something justified by serving other ends -- therefore something to be balanced against, and abridged to advance, other goods.

The good for which Zephyr Teachout would regulate speech is combating corruption, which, as she understands it, encompasses most of contemporary politics. A visiting law professor at Duke, writing in the Cornell Law Review ("The Anti-Corruption Principle"), she makes an astonishingly sweeping argument for emancipating government from First Amendment restrictions on its powers to regulate political speech -- speech about the government's composition and conduct.

Hitherto, most arguments for such emancipation -- for McCain-Feingold and other measures regulating the quantity, content and timing of political speech -- have rested on the supposed need to curb corruption or the "appearance" thereof, with corruption understood as quid pro quo transactions, political favors exchanged for financial favors. But bribery has long been criminalized, and courts are wary about allowing the criminalizing of the constant transactions of mutual support between politicians and factions.

Teachout's capacious definition of corruption includes even an unseemly "attitude" of citizens as well as officeholders "toward public service." She says the Framers thought limiting corruption was their "primary task." Therefore the "anti-corruption principle" should have "as much weight" as the First Amendment, giving Congress considerable "leeway" to regulate the political "process," which is mostly speech. What Teachout disparagingly calls "the apotheosis of speech" and "the sanctified meme of 'free speech'" is, she says, "a serious problem" requiring a rethinking of "the proper relationship of speech to self-serving public actors."

She advocates, as proponents of an elastic Constitution often do, an "evolving standard," this time a standard about how we define, measure and condemn "self-serving" behavior, aka corruption. This standard might license Congress to restrict speech in order to combat:

"Unequal access" to the political process; "unfair deployment of wealth"; "undue influence" by this or that group; speech that is "distorting" or lacks "proportionality" or results in "drowned voices" or a "passive" or "dispirited" public or that causes a "loss of political integrity" or creates "moral failings for members of Congress." Such speech might not be constitutionally protected if we properly "refine the meaning of the privilege of political speech."

So, political speech is not a right but a privilege, something granted by government when government deems it consistent with what Teachout calls the "equally important" anti-corruption principle. Imagine the "self-serving" uses incumbent legislators might have for the terms in the paragraph above as reasons for restricting political speech.

The word "corruption" or some permutation of it occurs 58 times in the 85 essays that are the Federalist Papers. James Madison wrote not only many of the papers but also this: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." He saw no conflict between that proscription and efforts to minimize corruption. He and other Framers considered corruption a vice requiring constant vigilance precisely because it is inextricably entwined with a virtue, America's vast scope -- constitutionally protected scope -- for self-interested behavior, including political speech.

Congressional Democrats want to kill a small voucher program that gave some mostly poor and minority students alternatives to the District of Columbia's failing public schools, and the Obama administration spent additional billions to avoid a declaration of bankruptcy by General Motors. Some people think both decisions represented disinterested assessments of the public good. Others think the decisions represented obeisance by Democrats to the teachers' and autoworkers' unions, respectively. If the decisions were such obeisance, they were, by Teachout's standards, corrupt.

If corruption is as ubiquitous as Teachout's standard ("self-serving" behavior) says, then reasons for restricting political speech also are ubiquitous. Under today's regulatory and redistributionist government, which is busily allocating wealth and opportunity, politics frequently "appears" to many people "self-serving." It will not, however, be prettified by regulating speech.

If Teachout considers the politics produced by today's gargantuan government unlovely, she should not try to further enlarge the government by empowering it to comprehensively regulate speech about government. Instead, she should join the movement to restrain government's incessant regulating and redistributing transactions on behalf of myriad factions -- transactions that create more and more clamorous factions. The movement is called conservatism.



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

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

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


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Hey! A great new way to discourage crime. The latest from Australia

Just one more of a long line of futile do-gooder fantasies -- This one emanating from the Leftist bureaucracy of Queensland, apparently. Like all such programs -- such as the famous Barlinnie Special Unit -- they tend to create a less stressful and pleasanter atmosphere for inmates and warders alike -- but they do not reduce rates of reoffending and they are costly. They also require especially dedicated staff to work at all. Story of the admittedly brave dreamer behind the Barlinnie experiment here

Convicted criminals are enjoying days out on the Great Barrier Reef, fishing and surfing trips and oyster-gathering at the beach as a reward for good behaviour in a taxpayer- funded program aimed at keeping them out of jail.

Attorney-General Cameron Dick yesterday told The Sunday Mail he has ordered an urgent review of the Government's multi-agency programs that offer offenders a stint in rehab instead of jail.

Drug and alcohol-addicted offenders in the programs have faced court charged with crimes including domestic violence, assault, drug possession and public drunkenness. Offenders are given free surfing lessons on the Gold Coast, fishing trips off Townsville, and crab and oyster hunting near Cairns. The recreational and cultural activities are delivered by non-government agencies in a bid to encourage a new life away from crime and drug and alcohol addiction.

Mr Dick said he was concerned by the recreational content of some programs, and it did not meet community expectations. It was unacceptable for Drug Court offenders to be involved in the activities, he said. "While I'm no expert, I'd like to see more sensible, practical forms of rehabilitation," he said. "I don't think it's what the community expects offenders to be involved in, and neither do I. "I've spoken to my director-general, and I've made it abundantly clear to her that I don't want this to happen again."

Victims of crime and the Opposition slammed the activities, saying the soft approach was a slap in the face for victims. Gindaja Treatment and Healing Centre at Yarrabah, south of Cairns, operates five beds for clients diverted from jail in a $900,000, three-year pilot scheme for men convicted of alcohol-related crimes [i.e. blacks. Yarrabah is a black settlement].

The centre's chief executive Ailsa Lively told The Sunday Mail a cultural program includes trips to beaches to collect oysters, crab-hunting and fishing. Participants are also given accredited training, literacy and numeracy lessons, and taught to sew and tend vegetable gardens. "They're given an opportunity to go back to their roots because they forget about all of their cultural needs when they're caught up in alcohol," she said. "A lot of people - indigenous and non-indigenous - do recreational activities".

Rehabilitation service Ozcare has a program for criminals from the Drug Court and offers fishing trips in Townsville and days at the beach for clients in Cairns. "We've got elements in the programs that are part of the therapeutic and recreational streams," northern region manager Coralie Friend said. "They can't participate in recreation until they've done chores such as keeping the house clean, doing the washing, and grocery shopping. "Recreational activities are things that will use their energy, things they can practise and afford in their life once they complete the program. "It includes normal stuff like fishing and going to the beach. It's an excellent program."

Brisbane's Paul Stanley, who set up a support and education foundation after his son Matthew died after being bashed outside a party in 2006, was disgusted by the soft treatment. "It's another slap in the face for victims," he said.

Opposition police spokesman Vaughan Johnson demanded a review of the program. "It's a blatant abuse of taxpayers' money," he said.

The above story by Gavin King appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on May 24, 2009

British academics urged to defend free speech without limits

Thoroughly admirable views but he's pissing into the wind in Britain

The concept of academic freedom is "impoverished" and under threat at a time when the vogue is for arguing that freedom of speech must be limited to protect certain groups. The warning has been issued in advance of an International Academic Freedom Day organised by the campaign group Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF).

The group's founder, Dennis Hayes, argues that "there are no high-profile defenders of 'absolute' free speech and academic freedom". He points out that Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, is "fond of noting that there are limits to free speech" and that the British Library's Taking Liberties exhibition included a section on "Free speech and its limits". "No defence of unqualified free speech comes from where you might, however naively, expect it," he says.

He also suggests that the argument that limits are needed to protect groups from threats by racists, fascists and extremists implies that these groups are vulnerable, a view that amounts to contempt, he says.

Dr Hayes concludes: "Academics have a choice. To become another profession with no 'noble' goals or to accept responsibility to defend free speech and academic freedom and hope to make the ivory tower a beacon for the defence of freedom in wider society."

Dr Hayes made the argument in a special edition of the British Journal of Educational Studies, which will be launched on 20 May at an AFAF seminar chaired by Ann Mroz, editor of Times Higher Education.

The AFAF has declared this date (the birthday of the political philosopher John Stuart Mill) International Academic Freedom Day. It is asking academics and students to hold seminars, discussions and protests on the topic.


Overgoverned Britain

We need a real life Howard Beale. Remember him? He was the fictional American television newsreader played by Peter Finch in the film Network. He became so frustrated at the refusal of anyone to listen to reason that he invited viewers to open their windows and yell into the streets: "I am as mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more.''

Let's face it: we are even madder than that; and not simply because we have found out that our MPs – or some of them at any rate – have been siphoning off large sums of our money to subsidise a lifestyle most of us can only dream about. We were already mad; we were just waiting for something to happen on which to vent our anger.

Normally when the British get irritated, we respond with a resigned and embarrassed shrug rather than shout and bellow. We are not like the French who take to the streets at the drop of a hat to chuck cobblestones at the police. But our characteristic mildness as a nation is being tested to destruction by our politicians – whether in national or local government – who have forgotten that if they must interfere in our lives, to do so only when it is absolutely necessary. We have the worst of all worlds – not only are we over-governed; we are badly governed as well.

We are snooped on more than the average North Korean, harried by marauding armies of parking enforcers and wheel-clampers; pestered by health fascists and safety obsessives and shaken by speed humps. If we smoke we are told where to puff; it we drink we are made to feel guilty; if we drive a big car we are pariahs; if we hunt we have been turned into criminals; if we make an "inappropriate" remark we can expect a visit from the police; if we stand up to hooligans we can end up in court.

Innocent people have been put on a DNA database meant for criminals and will stay there for some time even after the European Court of Human Rights said they should come off – which is a bit rich given that this government introduced the Human Rights Act in the first place to wave its progressive credentials around. Our children are all to have their details placed on a database known as ContactPoint because one appalling set of relatives killed a little girl who should have been watched by social services. For the failings of the system, all children have to be considered potentially "at risk".

In addition, we are all to be considered potential suspects in a crime, too. Why else would the government want us to be on an identity register, other than to know where we are all the time? And why should it? I have nothing to hide and I have nothing to fear but I fail to see why that means I should be on a state ID database.

How has all this come about? A clue can be found in the expenses crisis that has engulfed Westminster. MPs have simply not being doing their jobs properly. They are there to hold the Government to account but have allowed a torrent of legislation to pour forth. They have spent too much of their time thinking up ever more imaginative ways to claim their generous allowances. They have given up their primary task.

This Government has brought in more legislation than any of its predecessors. Since 1997, the Home Office alone has introduced 50 Bills, launched more than 100 consultation papers, made at least 350 regulations and created an astonishing 271 new offences. Overall, more than 3,000 new criminal offences have been created by Labour – 1,000 of them punishable by imprisonment.

Here are just a few of the things you could do before 1997 but can't now – many of them, it must be said, forced on us by EU directives, though our government in most cases agreed them.

Smoke in a pub or on a railway platform in the open air in the middle of the countryside, or at a covered bus stop, or in your own car if it is used for work, or in your own house if it is used as an office where outsiders may come.

Own a horse, donkey or Shetland pony without possessing a passport carrying a picture of the animal.

Ride off with a pack of hounds in pursuit of a fox or stag.

Play the piano in a pub without an entertainment licence.

Stage more than 12 events a year at, for instance, a school or church hall at which alcohol may be served without a full licence.

Set off a firework after midnight or be in possession of a firework if aged under 18 at any time other than the period around Bonfire Night and New Year's Eve.

Own a pistol for any purpose, including sport target practice.

Stage a protest of any sort, even if alone, within 1km of the Palace of Westminster, without the authority of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Fish in the River Esk without authorisation.

Enter the hull of the Titanic without permission from the Secretary of State.

Import into England potatoes which a person knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes.

Obstruct the work of the Children's Commissioner for Wales.

Imbibe an alcoholic drink on a London Underground train or bus.

Keep a car on your own driveway without tax, even if it not being used, without filling in a form.

Sell a grey squirrel (though you can kill one).

Labour has created new offences at twice the rate of the previous Tory administration, which was bad enough in this regard, and it has done so at an accelerating pace. Now you may support some or all of these new laws. What cannot be denied is that we have had a frenzy of law-making that has changed the character of the nation in a way that many of us neither expected nor wanted – even those who voted Labour (especially those who voted Labour, perhaps).

What is that drives the legislative mania of modern governments? Will any of them really, truly commit themselves to stop frustrating the activities and livelihoods of Her Majesty's law-abiding subjects with unwarranted interference, intrusiveness and incompetence? Have they no sense of history, no philosophical framework within which they can understand the point at which government activity must end and the private citizen begins? They have lost all concept of the impact of excessive law-making on the freedom of the individual.

The expenses crisis has merely brought all this to the surface: resentment against a Government that raised taxes after promising not to and then wasted billions of pounds on failed IT systems and top-heavy administration; incredulity over ministerial claims that crime has fallen when we can see with our own eyes that it hasn't; frustration at the inane regulations, the unjustified use of fines and charges, the bloody-minded parking restrictions, unreasonable European directives, multiculturalist busybodies, and the vast, overpaid and largely useless quangocracy disconnected from the rest of us.

It has all gone on for too long and the people to blame are those who failed to put a stop it: our MPs. That is why we are so angry about duck islands, bath plugs and second-home flipping.

Nadine Dorries yesterday said that the second-home allowance was an entitlement which MPs were encouraged to claim and everyone at Westminster and in the media knew that. She suggested it was unfair to criticise MPs since they were only enhancing an income most people would consider inadequate. Well, the public did not know any of this and this conspiracy against the voter has been busted wide open. We are as mad as hell so shout it out the window. You know you want to.


Netanyahu's peace plan

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday was a baptism of fire for the new premier. What emerged from the meeting is that Obama's priorities regarding Iran, Israel and the Arab world are diametrically opposed to Israel's priorities.

During his ad hoc press conference with Netanyahu, Obama made clear that he will not lift a finger to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And acting as Obama's surrogate, for the past two weeks CIA Director Leon Panetta has made clear that Obama expects Israel to also sit on its thumbs as Iran develops the means to destroy it.

Obama showed his hand on Iran in three ways. First, he set a nonbinding timetable of seven months for his policy of appeasement and engagement of the ayatollahs to work. That policy, he explained, will only be implemented after next month's Iranian presidential elections. And those direct US-Iranian talks must be given at least six months to show results before they can be assessed as successful or failed.

But Israel's Military Intelligence has assessed that six months may be too long to wait. By the end of the year, Iran's nuclear program may be unstoppable. And Iran's successful test of its solid fuel Sejil-2 missile with a 2,000 kilometer range on Wednesday merely served to show the urgency of the situation. Obviously the mullahs are not waiting for Obama to convince them of the error of their ways.

Beyond the fact that Obama's nonbinding timeline is too long, there is his "or else." Obama made clear that in the event that in December or January he concludes that the Iranians are not negotiating in good faith, the most radical step he will be willing to take will be to consider escalating international sanctions against Teheran. In the meantime, at his urging, Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, has set aside a bill requiring sanctions against oil companies that export refined fuel into Iran.

Finally there was Obama's contention that the best way for the US to convince Iran to give up its nuclear program is by convincing Israel to give away more land to the Palestinians. As Obama put it, "To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians, between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with a potential Iranian threat." This statement encapsulates the basic lack of seriousness and fundamental mendacity of Obama's approach to "dealing with a potential Iranian threat."

Iran has made clear that it wants Israel destroyed. The mullahs don't care how big Israel is. Their missiles are pointing at Tel Aviv, not Beit El. As for the international community, the Russians and Chinese have not been assisting Iran's nuclear and missile programs for the past 15 years because there is no Palestinian state. They have been assisting Iran because they think a strong Iran weakens the US. And they are right.

The Arab states, for their part, are already openly siding with Israel against Iran. The establishment of a Palestinian state will not make their support for action to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to dominate the region any more profound.

On the face of it, Obama's obsessive push for a Palestinian state makes little sense. The Palestinians are hopelessly divided. It is not simply that Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and Fatah controls Judea and Samaria. Fatah itself is riven by division. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's appointment of the new PA government under Salaam Fayad was overwhelmingly rejected by Fatah leaders. Quite simply, there is no coherent Palestinian leadership that is either willing or capable of reaching an accord with Israel.

As for the prospects for peace itself, given that there is little distinction between the anti-Semitic bilge broadcast daily in Gaza by Hamas-controlled media, and the anti-Semitic bilge broadcast daily in Judea and Samaria by the Fatah/Abbas/Fayad-controlled media, those prospects aren't looking particularly attractive. That across-the-board anti-Semitic incitement has engendered the current situation where Hamas and Fatah members and supporters are firmly united in their desire to see Israel destroyed. This was made clear on Thursday morning when a Fatah policeman in Kalkilya used his US-provided rifle to open fire on IDF soldiers engaged in a counterterror operation in the city.

Given that the establishment of a Palestinian state will have no impact on Iran's nuclear program, and in light of the fact that under the present circumstances any Palestinian state will be at war with Israel, and assuming that Obama is not completely ignorant of the situation on the ground, there is only one reasonable explanation for his urgent desire to force Israel to support the creation of a Palestinian state and to work for its establishment by expelling hundreds of thousands of Israelis from their homes. Quite simply, it is a way to divert attention away from Obama's acquiescence to Iran's nuclear aspirations.

BY MAKING the achievement of the unachievable goal of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians through the establishment of a Palestinian terror state the centerpiece of his Middle East agenda, Obama is able to cast Israel as the region's villain. This aim is reflected in the administration's intensifying pressure on Israel to destroy Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

In portraying Jews who live in mobile homes on barren hilltops in Judea and Samaria - rather than Iranian mullahs who test ballistic missile while enriching uranium and inciting genocide - as the greatest obstacle to peace, the Obama administration not only seeks to deflect attention away from its refusal to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is also setting Israel up as the fall guy who it will blame after Iran emerges as a nuclear power.

Obama's intention to unveil his Middle East peace plan in the course of his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, like his decision to opt out of visiting Israel in favor of visiting a Nazi death camp, make it clear that he does not perceive Israel as a vital ally, or even as a partner in the peace process he wishes to initiate. Israeli officials were not consulted about his plan. Then, too, from the emerging contours of his plan, it is clear that he will be offering something that no Israeli government can accept.

According to media reports, Obama's plan will require Israel to withdraw its citizens and its military to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. It will provide for the free immigration of millions of Israel-hating Arabs to the Palestinian state. And it seeks to represent all of this as in accord with Israel's interests by claiming that after Israel renders itself indefensible, all 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (including Iran) will "normalize" their relations with Israel. In short, Obama is using his peace plan to castigate the Netanyahu government as the chief destabilizing force in the region.

During his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu succeeded in evading the policy traps Obama set for him. Netanyahu reserved Israel's right to act independently against Iran and he conceded nothing substantive on the Palestinian issue.

While itself no small achievement, Netanyahu's successful deflection of Obama's provocations is not a sustainable strategy. Already on Tuesday the administration began coercing Israel to toe its line on Iran and the Palestinians by engaging it in joint "working groups."

Then, too, the government's destruction of an outpost community in Judea on Thursday was perceived as Israeli buckling to US pressure. And it doubtlessly raised expectations for further expulsions in the near future.

SO WHAT must Netanyahu do? What would a strategy to contain the Obama administration's pressure and maintain international attention on Iran look like?

Under the present circumstances, the Netanyahu government's best bet is to introduce its own peace plan to mitigate the impact of Obama's plan. To blunt the impact of Obama's speech in Cairo, Netanyahu should present his peace plan before June 4.

Such a plan should contain three stages. First, in light of the Arab world's apparent willingness to engage with Israel, Netanyahu should call for the opening of direct talks between Israel and the Arab League, or between Israel and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, regarding the immediate normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab-Islamic world. Both Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah claim that such normalization is in the offing. Israel should insist that it begin without delay.

This, of course, is necessary for peace to emerge with the Palestinians. As we saw at Camp David in 2000, the only way that Palestinian leaders will feel comfortable making peace with Israel is if the Arab world first demonstrates its acceptance of the Jewish state as a permanent feature on the Middle East's landscape. Claims that such an Israeli demand is a mere tactic to buy time can be easily brushed off. Given Jordanian and American claims that the Arab world is willing to accept Israel, once negotiations begin, this stage could be completed in a matter of months.

The second stage of the Israeli peace plan would involve Israel and the Arab world agreeing and beginning to implement a joint program for combating terrorism. This program would involve destroying terror networks, cutting off funding for terror networks and agreeing to arrest terrorists and extradite them to The Hague or the US for trial. It should be abundantly clear to all governments in the region that there can be no long-term regional peace or stability as long as terrorists bent on destroying Israel and overthrowing moderate Arab regimes are allowed to operate. So making the implementation of such a join program a precondition for further progress shouldn't pose an obstacle to peace. Indeed, there is no reason for it to even be perceived as particularly controversial.

The final stage of the Israeli peace plan should be the negotiation of a final-status accord with the Palestinians. Only after the Arab world has accepted Israel, and only after it has agreed to join Israel in achieving the common goal of a terror-free Middle East, can there be any chance that the Palestinians will feel comfortable and free to peacefully coexist with Israel. And Israel, of course, will feel much more confident about living at peace with the Palestinians after the Arab world demonstrates its good faith and friendship to the Jewish state and its people.

Were Netanyahu to offer this plan in the next two weeks, he would be able to elude Obama's trap on June 4 by proposing to discuss both plans with the Arab League. In so doing, he would be able to continue to make the case that Iran is the gravest danger to the region without being demonized as a destabilizing force and an enemy of peace.

Whether Netanyahu advances such a peace plan or not, what became obvious this week is that his greatest challenges in office will be to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons while preventing the Obama administration from blaming Israel for the absence of peace.



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

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

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


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bookish boys grow into gentle men, but their early years can be brutal

Comment from Australia below. It seems overstated to me. When I was at school in the "bad old days" of around 50 years ago, I was hopeless at sport and was certainly "bookish". I was much more interested in the New Testament and literature than I was in any physical activity. Yet I have no memory of suffering in any way from that. I had friends and a perfectly pleasant life that I still have warm memories about. But there was more genuine civility and stricter moral standards then so perhaps I would not do as well these days.

I also suspect that I was treated with some respect because of my knowledge. In primary school my nickname was "The Walking Dictionary" and in Secondary school it was "The Walking Encyclopedia". I was for that reason well-regarded by the teachers and I think that caused me to be treated warily by other students. An amusing episode I remember from when I was about 15 was when the English teacher asked what was meant by the "throb" of the ship engines in some literary work we were studying. It would have been set in the Edwardian era or thereabouts. Nobody knew the answer so the teacher resignedly asked me. I said: "Probably triple expansion steam engines". The teacher hastily said: "Yes, yes. reciprocating engines". He was probably himself unaware of the triple expansion cycle and its advantages.

My son is as unsporting as I am, though computer games do for him what books did for me -- so while he was at High School, I once asked him did anyone ever bully him or push him around, He replied: "No. I'm too big for them -- but I do sometimes get in between them and kids they pick on". He is of above average height and well built so that makes sense so I suspect that that it is only real "weaklings" that suffer, unacceptable though that is. And I am very proud that my son found it unacceptable too -- JR

It's tough being a boy - or at least a certain kind of boy. If a boy is quiet, artistic, academic and unsporting, he is as likely to suffer ostracism in the playground as his counterpart did 50 years ago.

The landscape for girls has changed dramatically over that period. Girls are much freer to push the traditional boundaries of femininity. They can be smart, sporting, independent, and still be popular. They can be good at maths and science. Even tomboys have peer approval providing they occasionally wear a dress and brush their hair.

Over recent weeks big, sporting, aggressive, misogynist men have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Yet it would be foolish to think for a moment that the bad publicity has dented the appeal of the uber male. The macho man is still very much in vogue. Boys admire him and girls lust after him.

The women's movement has been hugely successful in freeing girls from the constraints of a certain kind of simpering, passive femininity. But boys have been left in a straitjacket. If they deviate from standard male pursuits, their peers will deal with them ruthlessly. All is forgiven if the quiet, artistic boy is also the opening batsman, or goalie, or fullback. But if he lacks compensating sporting prowess, or exceptional computer gaming skills, a boy's difference will be his albatross.

Evidence of how far the cultural consensus about girls has changed - and how little it has changed for boys - emerges from new research by US academics Barbara Risman and Elizabeth Seale. It was presented at a conference last month of the Council on Contemporary Families. And though the study was based on interviews with American children aged 11 to 14, I believe it is of relevance here.

It found that though girls were deeply preoccupied with their appearance, there was no sense that girls had to play dumb or act "feminine" around boys. It was acceptable to be assertive and competitive, and it was "cool" to be sporty. "Girls today can be strong, active, brave, competitive and smart," the authors say. Girls expect to be taken seriously by teachers, parents and boys. They have room to manoeuvre. They can act more like boys: "They don't do gender as previous generations did."

But their liberation has limits. Femininity is now defined not by what girls do, but by how they look. Girls put great store in body image. Shorn of its other markers, femininity is distilled into lip-gloss and whorish clothes. Even so, the "girly-girl" who is vain and passive, and goes too far in her obsession with clothes, make-up, and boys is ridiculed.

For boys, the limits of acceptable behaviour are much more rigidly drawn. If a boy was bookish, quiet and unassertive, his sexuality was brought into question, and at the very least he lost the respect of the other boys, the research showed. Girls also held narrow views of acceptable masculine behaviour.

Very few students questioned the sexuality of tomboys. But many believed that a boy who did not embrace the usual male interests was gay. And "gay" was the worst possible insult. "Boys' lives seem hardly influenced by any feminist transformation except that they must now compete with girls as well as with each other," the authors say.

The way girls can "do" female has expanded but not the ways boys can "do" male. The uber male is king right through his 20s, able to dominate other men with his physicality and attract women with a muscular sex appeal.

Yet as women hit their 30s, and think about commitment and children, the very qualities they need in a long-term partner are usually absent in the uber male. Sensitivity, empathy and a regard for equality are the traits that help men form good relationships with women at work, and in their love-life. Lucky women discover that gentleness is not the antithesis of sexiness or strength. As a bonus, a gentle man is unlikely to smash his girlfriend in the face with a broken glass, or accidentally smash a female colleague in the eye.

The gentleness decried in schoolboys, and too often snuffed out, is a valuable quality later in life; a quality many a wife tries hard to resuscitate in an overbearing husband.

Feminists used to think boys could be programmed into sensitivity through giving them dolls in the preschool years, stamping out signs of horseplay and boisterousness, and sneering at sport. It was a failed experiment, unsurprisingly. Shaming boys about their physicality is silly.

There's nothing wrong with sport, boisterousness or horseplay - I've lived with it for 20 years with sons, longer if I count life with brothers.

But encouraging sensitivity and empathy in boys, and the softness every mother knows is at their core, is essential if men and women are to enjoy happy partnerships at work and home. I can't offer a prescription. I know fathers are integral through example and instruction. Anti-bullying and anti-homophobic policies, and playground policing are important. I know schools should extend their guest list of male role models beyond sporting heroes.

Boys need the same freedom girls have enjoyed to escape the straitjacket of gender stereotypes. In liberating boys, we've hardly begun.


Equality? You must be joking! As watchdogs say it's OK to sneer at men (but not women) in adverts

Majority rules? If you take a look around you these days, nothing could be further from the truth. That sacred tenet of democracy, which holds that the view of the greatest number of citizens should prevail is no more. Increasingly, we are ruled by the tyranny of the minority - or rather by the PC thought-police who believe they have a monopoly on public grievance.

How else would you explain an edict from the powerful Advertising Standards Authority that has decreed this week that it is socially acceptable to treat men as mindless sex objects, but a crime to make similar references to women. Let me explain. In one recent advert for the bookmaker Paddy Power, two sexually provocative young ladies in short skirts cosy up to a banker. Hardly sophisticated, for sure. But offensive? The ASA thought so, banning the advert on the grounds that it associated sexual success with stockmarket betting (try telling that to Nick Leeson).

That decision would have made more sense if the ASA hadn't rejected several hundred complaints about an equally idiotic misrepresentation of the sexes in an advert for Oven Pride kitchen cleaner that portrayed men as simpletons who don't know one end of a scouring pad from another. The voice-over says: 'So easy, a man can do it.'

Now, you and I may know that oven-cleaning is by no means an activity that most men would readily volunteer for. But then nor would most women, if we're honest. Which is why I have some sympathy for the 673 people who complained that the ad was sexist - a significant number in ASA terms.

Yet because the ad belittled men rather than women, the protests were overruled on the basis that the advert was 'unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence'.

Talk about double standards! But the horrible truth is, the ASA is right. As a society, we have become so institutionally sexist against men that it is now accepted practice to treat them as second-class citizens. Think of the huge number of TV comedies in which the men are portrayed as underperforming dolts who are vastly inferior to the female characters (Men Behaving Badly being the most notable example).

Think of all those women's magazines that routinely reinforce the stereotype of men as being helpless inadequates who think only with their lower organs.

On a more serious note, think of the raft of legislation that has been put in place to benefit women, and indeed positively discriminate in favour of them, often at the expense of male interests. In the supposed attempt to impose equality across the board there is - often quite literally - one rule for women and another for men. What's equal about that?

Surely the only true test of equality is a simple one. A little gender role reversal will do it. Imagine the same Oven Pride ad with women portrayed as imbeciles incapable of performing a simple domestic task. The firm would be flayed alive as sexist pigs and commercial chauvinists.

So why in 21st-century Britain is it OK to ridicule men but not women? If we believe in satirising gender stereotypes, then everyone should be up for grabs, so to speak.

But then the problem extends much further than the age-old battle of the sexes. It reaches into every arena of public life in which a supposedly weaker group is entitled to mock or denigrate anyone or anything it chooses, but must never, ever be ridiculed or criticised in return. So it's fair game for any paid-up member of the commentariat to belittle heterosexual marriage, but gay partnerships are deemed beyond reproach.

It's culturally acceptable to make jokes about Christians, or openly denigrate their faith, but belittle or insult any minority religion in a similar vein and you will be branded a hateful bigot. It's fine for the bien pensants to sneer at Middle England with its bourgeois values, but should Middle England dare to pass opprobrium on the cultural values of any other group and they are condemned as quasi-fascists.

How can this be right? Surely equality should be a two-way street in which the jokes, the criticisms and the views are allowed to flow freely in both directions without minority lobby groups decreeing what is or isn't acceptable? Alas, I fear it is already too late.

Just look at some of the big news stories of the past few months for a snapshot of the new orthodoxy. In March this year, a large group of Muslims in Luton protested in the town with deeply offensive posters vilifying our returning troops, calling them rapists and murderers. Only two people were arrested that day. No, not any of the Muslim rabble, but two of the decent majority who could not tolerate this abuse against our brave troops and shouted back at the fanatics. They were eventually released without charge.

Or how about the boss of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, David Holmes, who described as 'retarded homophobes' those who believe that heterosexual couples make the most suitable adoptive parents. This, despite the fact that most ordinary families recognise that a child fares best when it has a married mother and father in the home - a belief that is backed by repeated academic studies.

Then there is the way Christians are routinely ignored in our society in a craven attempt to appease minority religions, with crosses banned from public buildings and civic officials reprimanded for daring to mention their faith in public. (Remember the nurse who almost lost her job for making the unforgivable error of praying for a patient?). You'd never imagine we are a country where more than 60 per cent of people still define themselves as Christian.

Can you imagine for a moment a devout Muslim nurse being suspended from the NHS because she prays to save a sick patient? Or a Christian succeeding in complaining about a traditional Muslim festival and having it cancelled - as so often happens each year in schools and town centres at Easter and Christmas. Of course not. Minority rules, OK.

Everywhere you look, double standards have become the order of the day. And the sorry truth is that there is almost no one left either able or willing to stand up for the views of the silent majority, who have been brushed aside by the PC zealots and their endless list of grievances - some real, many imagined.

The great British institutions, whether they be the BBC, the Church of England or Parliament, have been cowed into submission by the cheerleaders for minority rule. In their desperation to cause offence to no one, they no longer know what they stand for any more. Equality? To paraphrase Orwell, some are more equal than others.


Aren't all violent crimes 'hate' crimes?

by Jeff Jacoby

LEGISLATION PENDING before Congress would dramatically expand the federal hate-crimes law, and a number of critics are concerned that the bill goes too far. Perhaps the real problem is that it doesn't go far enough.

Under current law, crimes motivated by bias against a victim's race, color, religion, or national origin can be prosecuted by the federal government, so long as the victim had been engaged in a "federally-protected activity"-- attending a public school, for example, or being in a place of public accommodation or entertainment. The proposed Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which passed the House last month and is now pending in the Senate, would significantly broaden the federal government's reach.

The bill, which is named for a gay college student beaten to death in Wyoming in 1998, would add four new categories of hate crimes to the federal code: those committed because of someone's sex, sexual orientation, gender (or transgender) identity, and disability. It would eliminate the prerequisite of a "federally-protected activity" and instead require only the loosest connection to interstate commerce (such as the use of a weapon that someone at some point had bought or sold). And the proposed legislation would make it far easier for defendants acquitted in state court to be retried at the federal level -- a circumvention of the Fifth Amendment's protection against double jeopardy that has prompted four members of the US Civil Rights Commission to publicly oppose the bill.

If enacted, the new law will almost certainly be challenged in court. The Constitution does not grant the federal government any general police power -- prosecuting crime is primarily a state and local responsibility -- and it is far from clear that the Supreme Court would go along with a congressional attempt to federalize such a broad swath of criminal law.

Which is just as well, since the new law will not serve any legitimate criminal-justice end. Every crime that would be covered by the bill is already a felony under state law. Each one can already be prosecuted and punished. Its name notwithstanding, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act will not prevent any hate crimes. Nor is there anything it could have added to the prosecution of Shepard's killers, both of whom were convicted of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

Supporters of hate-crime legislation often invoke the victims of such high-profile murders. After James Byrd Jr., a black man, was savagely dragged to his death in Jasper, Tex., by three white men, Senator Ted Kennedy introduced a federal hate-crime bill and brought Byrd's daughter to Washington to testify in its behalf. But Texas authorities needed no help from Washington to bring Byrd's murderers to justice. Two were executed and the third is behind bars for life. Last month, the National Center for Lesbian Rights declared that the murder of Angie Zapata -- a transgender person bludgeoned to death in Colorado last summer -- showed why an expanded federal hate-crime statute was "long overdue." Yet even without such a statute, Zapata's killer was readily convicted in state court of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.

Hate-crime laws serve a symbolic function, not a practical one: They proclaim that crimes fueled by certain types of bias are especially repugnant. But that is the same as proclaiming that crimes fueled by other types of bias, or by motives having nothing to do with bias, are not quite as awful. Is that really a message any decent society should wish to promote?

Suppose Matthew Shepard's murderers had killed him for his wallet, or to prove their toughness to a gang, or out of sheer sadistic bloodlust. Would his death have been any less horrific? Would his family have shed fewer tears? Is it somehow better when a thrill-seeker burns a church than when a bigot does so? If James Byrd had been lynched by three black men, would his slaughter not have been as monstrous?

The best hate-crimes bill Congress can pass is none at all. But if we are going to have such laws, why limit them to only four, or eight, categories of victims? Let Congress expand the pending legislation to include every crime of violence -- regardless of the attacker's motive, or of the group the victim belonged to. Murders, rapes, aggravated assaults: Let us learn to see them all as crimes of "hate" -- not the criminal's hate for his victim, but society's hate for the crime.


Domino theory still pertinent

By Hal G. P. Colebatch, writing from Australia

WHEN I was a university student during the Vietnam War we had long debates about the domino theory that if South Vietnam fell then the rest of Indochina and, one by one, the remaining countries of southeast Asia, would go communist in rapid succession. It was, as some of us who supported it were told loftily, a theory quite unproven and discounted by many experts. In the event, it seemed largely borne out by what happened in 1975, if not exactly in the neat and tidy way that some predicted: Cambodia and Laos fell as, and plainly because, Saigon fell.

The other southeast Asian countries, which had been given time to strengthen their economies and political institutions by the long holding action in Vietnam, did not fall. The bottle stayed corked, as The Economist put it. However, emboldened by this wave of victory, communist movements with Soviet help staged takeovers in a series of other, not geographically contiguous, countries, with communist or far-leftist regimes coming to power in Benin, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola, Afghanistan, Grenada and Nicaragua during the 1970s. The last domino to fall was probably the Smith regime in Rhodesia in 1980: the Marxist takeovers in neighbouring Mozambique and Angola had made its position hopeless.

There was an upsurge of revolutionary communist and leftist movements in western Europe and the US at about the same time - including groups such as the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof gang, and the Weather Underground.

A few years later, and perhaps partly in reaction, we saw the dominoes falling again, but this time they went the other way. Possibly the costly Soviet failure in Afghanistan was the first signal that the Red Army, which we had been told would be able to sweep NATO forces into the Atlantic in a few days in the event of a general attack westward into Europe, could not even subdue a poor, backward nation with which it shared a border. This was among the events giving heart to the anti-communist movements smouldering within the whole Soviet empire.

Anyway, Hungary and Poland were the first countries in Europe to show that they could now openly defy Moscow and get away with it, with rapid consequences in the rest of eastern Europe, the Baltic states and Russia itself. Soon the last domino crashed in Moscow. Even in China and Indochina communist ideology survived in little more than name. It had not been a matter of military invasion but of demonstration.

History never repeats itself exactly, but the domino effect appears to have been sufficiently demonstrated in recent decades to look very pertinent to Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond. It seems obvious that a Western defeat in Afghanistan would make a Taliban victory in Pakistan very likely. If defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan is proving difficult, defeating an achieved and dug-in Taliban regime in Pakistan would be worse for both military and political reasons.

Even if the Taliban did not get hold of Pakistan's considerable stockpile of nuclear weapons, it appears more than probable that such a victory would be disastrous for the western position not only vis-a-vis the geographically contiguous countries but also in regard to other Muslim countries now striving to contain jihadist fundamentalism, such as Turkey and Indonesia, and also in regard to the European and other Western countries that now have large Muslim populations: it seems impossible to deny the logic that extremist and jihadist elements would be encouraged everywhere.

There are already about two million Muslims in Britain alone and recent surveys show a large percentage of them, especially among the younger generation, hold radical and militant attitudes. In some other European countries the proportion of Muslims in the population is higher.

A Western military defeat in Afghanistan and the consequences in neighbouring countries would almost inevitably have further ongoing consequences in Europe.

Given that the domino theory is worth taking seriously, the magnitude of the possible consequences of defeat in Afghanistan, not only for that country's own people but also for the region and for the west as a whole puts Australia's commitment of an additional 450 troops there into perspective.



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

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

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


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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Do you own a copy of "Lolita" by Nabokov? Then you're a pedophile!

That seems to be the implication of the Australian court judgment below

A MAN found guilty of possessing child porn in the form of a fictional story about an adult male and pre-pubescent girl, has had his conviction thrown out. Last September, a District Court jury in Brisbane found Don Gordon Campbell guilty of knowingly possessing child exploitation material and he was sentenced to a 12 month intensive correction order. But today the Court of Appeal said the Crown had not proved Campbell ''knowingly possessed'' the material which was found on his computer.

In a unanimous judgment the court quashed the conviction and entered a verdict of not guilty. Justice Peter Dutney said the prosecution had failed to link Campbell to ownership of the files and there was not sufficient evidence to sustain a guilty verdict.

The court heard that police went to Campbell's home after a tip off and found five computers on which there were two copies of the story. A computer expert said one version of the story had been downloaded from the internet and the second version had been copied across from that file.

The case was the latest in which there was confusion about the definition of "child exploitation material" and "possession" in child porn offences. Before the original trial there was legal argument about whether a fictional story constituted child exploitation material. The judge ruled it was not necessary for the offending material to depict a real person as long as that person was a child under the age of 16.

The Court of Appeal found the judge was correct in finding the story was child pornography but said the Crown had not proved its case on the "knowingly possessing" component.



Good comment from a reader:

There is another book where the main character Mohammed has a 7 year old wife called Aisha, and admits to abusing her when she is 9.

The Koran should therefore be made illegal.

Bridget Jones author says women cannot have it all

SHE has been credited with helping spawn a generation of thirty-something singletons. Now Bridget Jones author Helen Fielding has criticised women who aspire to "have it all".

Miss Fielding, whose novels ridicule some women's obsession with lifestyle magazines and self-help books, has also claimed that endless self-improvement has become a "modern disease", reports The Daily Mail newspaper in the UK.

The English mother-of-two has made more than $40million from her four Bridget Jones books, two of which have been made into films starring Renee Zellweger. They focus on a 32-year-old who keeps a diary about her repeated attempts to find love and take control of her life and career.

However, 50-year- old Miss Fielding now claims that many young women today struggle with the expectation that they should have successful careers as well as raising a family, leaving them "confused". The author was speaking at the Oxford Union - she studied at Oxford University in the 1970s.

Talking about the huge popularity of the Bridget Jones series, she said it was simply down to readers empathising with an ambitious woman struggling to live up to an idealistic society. "There are so many advertisements now telling people they need to look a certain way and have this perfect life." she said. "They feel they should be getting up at six in the morning and going to the gym, then doing a full day's work and coming back late and have to feed 12 people for dinner. It's a modern disease. "It's happened to me where I've gone for photoshoots and looked at myself on the cover of magazines where I have been completely changed and thought, "I wish I looked like that". That's why Bridget struck such a chord with women, because she is human and she has these flaws which most of us have. "Even though I have spent a lot of time denying that Bridget was me, she was."

During the talk, Miss Fielding also suggested that women who grew up in wartime were " less confused" than women today who are expected to carve out successful careers as well as raising a family. She used the example of Bridget Jones's mother in the books, who is confident and pushy. "Bridget's mother is really confident because she grew up in the time of the war with no air-brushing and stupid advertisements," Miss Fielding said. "She knows who she is, what she stands for and what her values are. "She is not affected by the idea that one minute she should be a woman, the next she should be a career woman and the next she should be a mother. She is not confused.

"Look at how many self-help books are sold, especially in America where they are often the top- selling books. They have become a religion."

In 2001, Miss Fielding left her home in London and moved to Los Angeles, where she lives in a £3 million home with her longterm boyfriend Kevin Curran, a writer for The Simpsons. They have a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.


Why bosses are right to distrust women who don't want children... by a VERY outspoken mother (and ex-boss)

Much as I like to trumpet the importance of a woman's right to choose all things at all times, there's one choice I simply cannot understand: the choice of an otherwise sane and healthy woman not to have children. If a would-be mother is a singleton of 40 who decides to have a baby without a partner, I might wish she'd thought of it sooner and prepared for it better - but I understand.

If she's half of a lesbian couple who 'borrows' the wherewithal, I might cross my fingers that the child is not teased at school - but I understand. Even if she's a 66-year- old pregnant pensioner, threatening to turn motherhood into a freak show, I might (indeed, I do) think she's monstrously selfish and dangerously wrong - but again, more or less, I understand.

Yet if she says she hasn't a shred of maternal feeling in her, moreover, if she says she would prefer to concentrate on her career and that a child would only get in the way of it, then my head might acknowledge her right to do so. But my heart whispers: 'Lady, you're weird.'

It was welcome news, therefore, to discover this week that I am not alone. Research conducted over six years shows that far from bosses and colleagues always being suspicious of a working mother, the opposite is becoming true: it is the childless woman who is regarded as cold and odd. As a result, it is these single-track careerists who are increasingly likely to be vilified, refused jobs and denied promotion because many employers believe them to lack what the study calls 'an essential humanity'. And I know exactly what they mean.

In the little hothouse of my own trade as a hack, I play a game with myself. Reading all the other female scribblers, sometimes with grudging admiration and sometimes none at all, I try to guess from their expression of their world view whether or not they are mothers. I haven't - yet - been wrong. Now, with MPs so much in the headlines, I've extended the game and started to guess about the women among them, too. As far as I can tell, my score is also pretty high there - even though it's just a feeling. On both sides of the political divide, as with the writers, it's not what MPs say or do, so much as how they go about it.

And if that touch of 'essential humanity' - or its absence - colours such notably tough professions, it's hardly surprising that employers are starting to notice that the same applies across the spectrum of workplaces.

Of course, we need not be silly about it. Nobody wishes to see a female soldier in combat with a six-week-old infant in one arm and a rifle in the other. Or a high-flier working 20-hour days while still breast-feeding. Or the mother of a small brood taking on any job of such erratic hours that she cannot promise them when or even if she'll be home. But most jobs aren't like that - and most children don't stay babies for long.

Besides which, in my experiences both as a colleague and an employer, I have found that mothers almost always bring something extra to the job, to the benefit of all. It's not the mothers, for a start, who are going to turn up late and hungover after a night on the razz; they'll have been up, dressed and alert for hours, having cooked a family breakfast and delivered their children to school. On time.

It's not the mothers, usually, who run the office bitch-fest. They're not there to compete for the attentions of the male executives; they're there to get out of the house; they're there because they genuinely enjoy some adult company; and they're there because they have mouths to feed other than their own and shoes to buy for someone else's feet. Two-thirds of working mothers, a recent survey found, could not provide for the children they love in the manner they would wish if they lost their jobs. So there's incentive for you.

They will, it is true, snatch time off for poorly children and Christmas carol services. And it's true they will insist that, in return for arriving on the dot of 9am, they must also leave on the dot of 5pm.

But rarely have I encountered a mother who did not offer to make up time lost, often in lunch hours. As for leaving on time, put enough mothers together in one workplace and you'll get rid of the ghastly ethos of 'presenteeism', whereby people vie for plaudits based solely on how late - albeit often uselessly - they hang around the office.

The prioritising that may baffle other people is a cinch for a woman who has spent years juggling a household. Negotiating skills? A request for 10 per cent off an overdue invoice is nothing to a woman who has had to broker a deal on Britain's Got Talent versus bedtime.

When it comes to emergencies, if you have run all the way to a clinic with a terrified toddler vomiting down your neck then, trust me, a package delayed in transit is a piece of cake. And if those are the tangibles, the intangibles - the 'essential humanity' - are more important still. You cannot be a mother without knowing something about selflessness, compassion, generosity, commitment, fierce loyalty and plain hard work. You cannot - surely - be a boss and not value assets such as those in your staff.

Nor is it the boss who pays the price for the extras a mother brings with her; she's the one who pays for that. Enough reams have been written about the long hours of slog it takes to run a home and hold down a job at the same time. Yet still we keep doing it because we want our work, our independence and our money. But, more than all the things we want, we actually need our children; they complete us as women, they are our light and our love and our legacy.

We feel desperately sorry for those who yearn for children they cannot have; the unwilling barren, if you will. But when we meet a woman who chooses her childlessness in the belief that there is something out there worth more, we smile politely even while - once again - our guts whisper: 'Lady, you're weird.'

So three cheers for the employers who are catching on, the ones who don't want to people their workforces with the cold, the calculating, the sad and the mad. The only question is: what took you so long?


Euthanasia advice as a test of free speech

Comment by Michael Duffy from Australia

They held a debate last week at the Oxford Union on the subject of voluntary euthanasia. Dr Philip Nitschke, the advocate of legalisation, was invited to speak. He accepted but the invitation was cancelled by union president Corey Dixon. When I asked Dixon why he'd done this, he replied: "An administrative decision was made to ensure we had three speakers on each side of the debate, which was proving difficult due to Dr Nitschke's attendance. It is always in the interests of the Oxford Union to ensure a balanced debate with as wide-ranging views as possible represented." Thus was a blow to free speech transmogrified into a triumph.

Nitschke went to Britain anyway, on a speaking tour. When he arrived on May 2, he was detained by the authorities at Heathrow Airport and grilled for nine hours. He's got other problems closer to home. It looks like the Australian Government is going to ban the website containing the online version of his book, The Peaceful Pill Handbook. It's on the blacklist maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority that's being used in the current internet filtering pilot project.

According to a press release from the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, the sites being filtered predominantly comprise "images of the sexual abuse of children". Predominantly, but not entirely. A copy of the blacklist (leaked to wikileaks.org) shows the peacefulpillhandbook.com in undistinguished company, lying in the murky alphabetical territory between panty-ass.com and pickyourperversion.com.

This is not an argument in favour of voluntary euthanasia, a subject on which I don't have a firm opinion. It's an argument in favour of freedom and free speech. As I've tried to find out more about voluntary euthanasia in recent months, attending several talks by Nitschke and speaking with lots of people, I've been struck by the number of laws that seek to prevent the flow of facts. They haven't been hugely effective to this point, but they're probably going to become more so soon. This is despite the fact that killing yourself in Australia is actually legal, and 70 per cent of respondents in opinion polls support voluntary euthanasia.

Nitschke says the Australian Government's fervour in attacking voluntary euthanasia is unique. In 1996, it over-rode the Northern Territory's law legalising the practice. In 2006, it banned the use of telephones, faxes, emails and the internet to disseminate or acquire information for the purpose of counselling or inciting suicide, or of learning how to do it. (Nitschke's website is now based overseas.) In 2007, it banned his book. (This followed a complaint from Right To Life, which in this case argued for not just a right but an obligation.) And soon, if the pilot project proceeds to implementation, as is expected, it could make access to his book online not just illegal but physically impossible.

Last week, I spoke with Nitschke about this latest move. He said: "If the website is banned we might be forced to leave Australia. Increasingly we've had to make use of the internet to survive and to co-ordinate our activities, and I'm not sure if this will be possible for much longer."

One reason Nitschke is so vulnerable to government bans is that he doesn't just advocate, he provides information on methods, which is illegal. The peaceful pill he advocates is the barbiturate Nembutal, which was advertised in the Women's Weekly in the 1950s but now, thanks to adverse events involving Marilyn Monroe and other deceased figures, is illegal (except for use on animals). Nembutal will knock you out in seconds and kill you in half an hour or so. Nitschke says at least 300 Australians have gone to Mexico and other countries to obtain it over the counter from veterinarians' suppliers, and have brought it back here. Others have purchased it from Mexico by mail order. Importing Nembutal (except for use on animals) is illegal, too.

The civil resistance to government represented by this importation, and by the people I've seen at Nitschke's meetings, and by the voluntary euthanasia movement more generally, are an interesting modern phenomenon. The seriousness with which those at the meetings discuss ways and means of ending life is slightly spooky, but their determination and anger with government is hot. Nearly all of them are over 60. Nitschke says he's noticed the same in Britain, where he recently finished giving a number of talks. "Many elderly people see it as an important issue," he observes, "but younger people can be very critical of what I'm saying."

It's a rare case where the old - or some of them - are more radical than the young. But as Nitschke tells his audiences, waiting until you're old and sick before you think about this subject might mean you've waited too long. Especially if the laws continue to close in.



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

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

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


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Friday, May 22, 2009

Unholy Ireland: Children suffered horrific abuse from Catholic orders while officials stood by

Many Protestants have long claimed that the church of Rome is not a Christian church. These events certainly make it seem like a pagan monstrosity. Many of its clergy obviously worship the Devil rather than Christ. That the church has not excommunicated the evildoers for their mortal sins means that it condones their deeds

Thousands of children living in Catholic-run institutions in Ireland were subjected to decades of horrific abuse while authorities stood by and did nothing, a damning report has revealed. The long-awaited report, released in Dublin on Wednesday, outlined the terror of rampant sexual abuse, rapes and beatings inflicted on thousands of children over a 60-year period by priests, nuns and lay staff. But it said while complaints were made, government and church officials did nothing to stop the abuse, choosing instead to punish children who complained or transfer pedophiles and other perpetrators to new institutions.

The findings were based on a nine-year inquiry by the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse which heard evidence from 2500 men and women who used to live at Catholic reform schools, workhouses, orphanages and other children's homes. But some victims said while the 2500-page report vindicates their claims about the widespread abuse they suffered, they were disappointed at the report's failure to name perpetrators or recommended any charges. "It didn't go far enough, it didn't give us justice," spokesman John Kelly, who spent two years in care, told reporters. "We need to see those who committed the abuse, who are alive, prosecuted. "This inquiry is deeply flawed, it's incomplete and many might call it a whitewash."

Several of the 100 institutions investigated by the commission were run by the Sisters of Mercy and Christian Brothers. Many abuse victims fled Ireland as soon as they were old enough to start a new life in Britain, Australia and the United States.

One of the report's shocking findings was that sexual abuse was "endemic in boys' institutions", where children were subjected to improper touching, fondling and violent rapes. "Nevertheless, each instance of sexual abuse was treated in isolation and in secrecy by the authorities and there was no attempt to address the underlying systemic nature of the problem," it said. "The management did not listen or believe children when they complained ... At best, the abusers were moved, but nothing was done about the harm done to the child. "At worst, the child was blamed and seen as corrupted by the sexual activity, and was punished severely."

Girls were also preyed on by male employees and visitors, but they were more likely to suffer "pervasive, severe, arbitrary and unpredictable" corporal punishment.

The report said the Department of Education knew "violence and beatings were endemic" within the institutions. "Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from," it said, adding they were regularly belittled, ridiculed, criticised and humiliated. Girls and boys also endured poor standards of care, often going hungry while wearing threadbare or wet clothes.

The report made 21 recommendations for the Irish government, including building a permanent memorial to victims as well as providing them with counselling and improving Ireland's child protection services.

The head of the Catholic church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said he was "profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions". Christian Brothers spokesman Reverend Edmund Garvey said the religious congregation was "deeply sorry" for the hurt caused to so many children. "In advance, the Christian Brothers apologise openly and unreservedly to all those who have been hurt either directly or indirectly as a result of the deplorable actions of some Brothers, or by the inaction or inappropriate action of the congregation as a whole," he said.

The Sisters of Mercy also apologised, saying: "We accept that many who spent their childhoods in our orphanages or industrial schools were hurt and damaged while in our care."


SAFE Act: Abuse industry batters the truth

There is a group of activists among us who have found the perfect way to advance their statist, anti-family agenda. They ply their issue by relying on a devious mixture of exaggerations, half-truths, and bald-faced lies.

I’m referring, of course, to the domestic violence industry. DV operatives make bogus claims designed to garner ever-expanding federal funding, which in turn is used to disseminate more biased factoids that keep women in a continuous state of fear. It’s a multi-billion dollar, taxpayer-financed scam, and I’m here to blow the whistle.

Last week Dear Abby devoted her column to helping a man who had been pummeled and maimed by his wife. And according to a 2006 Harris poll, 55% of Americans know of a man who has been physically abused by his wife or girlfriend.

But the domestic violence industry works day and night to make you think the Roper poll got it wrong -- that abused men are a statistical rarity, and such men probably had it coming anyway.

Here’s the latest example of the abuse industry’s ms.-information: the Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act. The bill was recently introduced in Congress by representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and Ted Poe of Texas. (The fact that Poe is a Republican shows how far the GOP has wandered from its core principles of late.)

The bill contains 33 findings – supposedly a series of verifiable facts that everyone can agree are true. But this time around, someone got very creative with the truth.

Last month RADAR, a Maryland-based watchdog group, released its analysis of the SAFE Act findings. I’ll give you fair warning, this one’s a doozy. The SAFE Act starts off with this chestnut: “Violence against women has been reported to be the leading cause of injury to women.” That’s a prime example of crackpot science. Because according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the leading causes of injury to women are unintentional falls, automobile accidents, and over-exertion.

The SAFE Act goes on to assert, “According to recent Government estimates, approximately 987,400 rapes occur annually in the United States.” Want to know the real number? Only 90,427, according to the FBI.

The SAFE Act wants us to believe that “each year there are 5,300,000 non-fatal violent victimizations committed by intimate partners against women.” That claim reminds us of the old Yiddish proverb about a half-truth being a whole lie. Because the same survey that reached the 5.3 million number reported a similar number of male victims of physical abuse.

For several of its claims, the SAFE Act cites research by Joan Zorza. Problem is, Zorza is not a researcher. She’s a lawyer and well-known advocate for an assortment of radical feminist causes. All in all, only 4 of the SAFE Act findings are accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable. All the rest are vague, misleading, exaggerated, or even intentionally deceptive.

There’s a lot more that’s wrong with the SAFE Act, including the fact that it will open the floodgates to even more false allegations of abuse and impose a gigantic unfunded liability on American businesses. So why did representatives Roybal-Allard and Poe risk bringing dishonor upon themselves by sponsoring this piece of legislative clap trap?


The 'family wreckers': British social workers attacked over race rules that rob foster children of a caring home

Social workers were under fire last night after a report revealed they were breaking up foster families because the parents were the wrong colour. It said official attempts to take mixed-race and black children away from white foster parents are heard 'regularly' in the family courts. Race rules say they can only be adopted by adults of the same ethnic background. The guidance claims ethnic minority children suffer mental health difficulties if brought up by white parents.

But critics attacked the policy as misguided. Patricia Morgan, an author on adoption and the family, said: 'There is no evidence that children brought up by parents of a different race suffer mental health problems. 'If that was true President Obama would be a danger to us all.' The U.S. leader was born to a white American mother and an African father.

The research on fostering and race, carried out for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said social workers were 'confused' about why race rules were being used to decide the future of children. It said they were guided by skin colour, and when they spoke about culture 'they were often referring only to ethnic categorisations'.

The Bristol University researchers said that of 50 ethnic minority children whose adoption cases it followed, only 13 actually found new parents due to the insistence on 'same race placements'. In one case a nurse offered to adopt an ethnically mixed child with severe disabilities. She was turned down because she could not meet the 'Polish element' in the child's ethnicity. The child remained in state care.

Children who are adopted do much better than children left in the state care system, where most get no school qualifications and go on to lives of unemployment, drug addiction, crime and prostitution. The report is to be published in full later this summer.

Its disclosure comes after last week's row over the state-funded British Association for Adoption and Fostering's guide for gay couples. It referred to opponents of gay adoption as 'retarded homophobes' who 'need an excuse to whinge'. It later apologised.`

BAAF remains one of the greatest advocates of applying race rules to adoption. But the Bristol report said this results in regular attempts at the deliberate destruction of foster families in which parents and children have formed a bond. In cases followed for the Pathways to Permanence for Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnicity Children report, the courts found in favour of the foster carers, it said. It added that the hearings led to 'professional disagreements' and 'disarray' in relationships between local councils and foster parents.

Tory MP Julian Brazier said: 'The problem goes back to adoption law. Some of us warned when the Adoption and Children Act was passed in 2002 that this would happen.' The Act - which first allowed gay couples to adopt - says that in adoption there must be 'due consideration to the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background'. A spokesman for the DCSF said: 'We know that children thrive better if adopted by a family who share their ethnic origin or cultural group, as well as meeting their other needs.'


British court rules taxi driver falsely accused of rape can receive compensation in legal first

A taxi driver falsely accused of rape could receive a five-figure compensation payout after winning a landmark victory. Clive Bishop, 49, says his life was ruined after a drunken 17-year-old passenger claimed he attacked her. Kirsty Palmer later admitted she made up the allegations and was jailed for ten months for perverting the course of justice.

When he applied for compensation, Mr Bishop described how months of living under a cloud of 'slurs and lies' had caused him enormous suffering. But the foster carer was twice refused a payout by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on the grounds he had not come to physical harm. That ruling has now been overturned on appeal - the first time the authority has agreed to compensate for the mental trauma of a false criminal accusation. It is not known exactly how much he will receive but his lawyers estimate it could be up to £10,000.

Mr Bishop, who has fostered ten children with his wife Sue, picked up Palmer in his taxi from a nightclub in February 2007. The mother of two was drunk and had already been sick. But only hours after dropping her at her home, police arrived at Mr Bishop's house at 4.30am and arrested him in front of his wife on suspicion of rape. Mr Bishop said: 'I kept trying to explain to the police that it was nonsense. 'But I kept being told to shut up. I was in shock but convinced that they'd realise I hadn't done anything and let me go.'

Mr Bishop was questioned for 12 hours before being subjected to 'humiliating' intimate forensic examinations and bailed. His taxi was also seized for forensic examination and he was under police scrutiny for a further three months. Ostracised by his community, Mr Bishop says he tried to return to driving his taxi, but found himself unable to find work.

Months later, Palmer confessed that after being locked out of her house in her drunken state she had knocked on a neighbour's door and falsely claimed she had been raped. But despite her admission, Mr Bishop was twice refused compensation because he had no physical injuries. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority overturned those decisions last week at a closed hearing in Taunton, Somerset.

Mr Bishop will now undergo a psychological evaluation to determine the amount he will be eligible to receive before officially applying for compensation later this year. The amount he gets will depend on the psychological damage he suffered from the incident as well as his lost earnings.

Yesterday Mr Bishop, from Walton in Somerset, told how he had been 'to hell and back'. 'It's been such a difficult time for me and my wife,' he said. 'They claim you are innocent until proven guilty but in reality that is not the case. People always assume the worst and we had to live with three months of slurs and lies about my character. 'That is why this ruling is so important to me - I could not ever drive a taxi again so this decision will make a huge difference to my life. I'm just so very happy and relieved.'

His lawyer Russell Pearce said: 'It is a landmark case - especially for all those who have suffered the extensive trauma that a false allegation can bring. 'This now means that in the future other people will be able to make an application, which is very important.'



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

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

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


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Supreme Court tosses "profiling" lawsuit

The Supreme Court served notice Monday that it would set a high bar for anyone seeking to hold top government officials liable for abuse suffered by prisoners held as part of the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy spoke for a 5-4 majority in throwing out a lawsuit against former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that claimed the two ordered the roundup of hundreds of Muslim men after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"It should come as no surprise that a legitimate policy directing law enforcement to arrest and detain individuals because of their suspected link to the attacks would produce a disparate, incidental impact on Arab Muslims, even though the purpose of the policy was to target neither Arabs nor Muslims," Kennedy said. "The Sept. 11 attacks were perpetrated by 19 Arab Muslim hijackers who counted themselves members in good standing of Al Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group."

The ruling could serve as a procedural barrier for lawsuits against former officials who have been sued by prisoners being held as "enemy combatants." The suit dismissed Monday alleged that Javaid Iqbal -- who worked as a cable television installer on Long Island, N.Y. -- was roughed up, strip-searched, shackled and locked in a maximum-security facility for months because he was a Pakistani Muslim. His case, the first involving the post-Sept. 11 detention of more than 700 men in the U.S. to get to the Supreme Court, described Ashcroft as the "principal architect" of the policy. None of those arrested was charged as a terrorist, although many pleaded guilty to immigration offenses.

In the decision, the high court shielded Ashcroft and Mueller from being sued because Iqbal could not show that the two personally ordered that he be mistreated.

Peter S. Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, said other former prisoners would "face an insoluble dilemma. They will need information to meet the heightened pleading requirement. But they won't be able to get it without discovery [the pretrial phase during which relevant facts must be disclosed], which today's ruling will preclude."

Several former detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have sued top Pentagon officials, alleging they were subjected to abuse. Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his deputies face a lawsuit from Jose Padilla, a native New Yorker with ties to Al Qaeda who was arrested and held for 3 1/2 years in a military brig in South Carolina. Padilla was convicted in federal court of aiding terrorists, but he has sued on the grounds that he was subjected to abuse.

Hope R. Metcalf, a human rights lawyer who teaches at Yale Law School, sued on Padilla's behalf. "I think the court is heading down a dangerous path," she said. "They are creating unnecessary obstacles to just getting in the door. This is about being heard." She added, however, that Padilla's lawsuit contained enough detailed information that it should get past the initial barrier.

The Washington Legal Foundation applauded the court's decision. It is "particularly welcome because it ensures the ability of senior national security officials to perform their duties without the distraction" of answering to lawsuits, said Richard Samp, a lawyer for the group.

In fall 2001, after the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon, the Justice Department started a search for possible agents of Al Qaeda who could be hiding in the U.S. Ashcroft said natives of certain Muslim countries should be questioned and, if necessary, held on immigration charges. Iqbal was designated a person of "high interest" and spent several months locked in a maximum-security facility in Brooklyn. He pleaded guilty to working in the country illegally and was deported to Pakistan.

A federal judge in Brooklyn and the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that his case could go forward because he alleged specific violations of his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court disagreed Monday in Ashcroft vs. Iqbal. "We are impelled to give real content to the concept of qualified immunity for high-level officials who must be neither deterred nor detracted from the vigorous performance of their duties," Kennedy said. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined Kennedy to form the majority.

Although the ruling shields the highest officials at the Justice Department, it does not end the lawsuits against prison officials who were directly involved in holding and allegedly abusing Iqbal and other Muslim men.

Retiring Justice David H. Souter, speaking for the dissenters, said the suit against the top officials should have been allowed to go forward. "Iqbal contends that Ashcroft and Mueller were, at the very least, aware of the discriminatory detention policy and condoned it and perhaps even took part in devising it," he said. Based on such an allegation, he said, the plaintiff should be given a chance to prove his case.


British Mother banned from breastfeeding at poolside 'breached food and drink rules'

But publicity works its usual wonders. Unrepentant authorities suddenly go into reverse

A mother was told to stop breastfeeding because she was contravening a leisure centre's poolside food and drink ban. Laura Whotton began feeding her three-month-old son Joshua after they had a swim together, because he was hungry and starting to cry. Both had towels draped around them as they sat on a bench by the poolside. But a male lifeguard spotted them and marched over to question Mrs Whotton.

The mother of two said she had taken care to cover up and he had to ask her: 'Are you breastfeeding?' She was then told: 'You are in a public area, you can't breastfeed because there are children here.' The shocked mother explained she was entitled to 'by law' and told him she was not indecent and not offending anyone. She was offered a 'private room' to breastfeed Joshua but refused because she was keeping an eye on her four-year-old son Thomas, who was swimming in a nearby toddler's pool. When the lifeguard refused to back down, she decided to leave the leisure centre.

Mrs Whotton, 26, of Carrington in Nottingham, said: 'I felt really angry at being treated like that. 'I wasn't embarrassed because I didn't have anything on show. People in bikinis were showing more skin and breast than I was. 'It's the most natural thing in the world - and I was made to feel like I was doing something terrible. 'I've fed my baby on the bus and on a tram and in McDonald's. If he needs feeding I will do it.'

The incident happened on a Saturday afternoon earlier this month at the John Carroll Leisure Centre in Nottingham. Mrs Whotton, who is married to Craig, 26, a hire car driver, lodged a complaint with Nottingham City Council.

A spokesman for the local authority said: 'The council's policy is to enable mothers to breastfeed in all council centres, including leisure centres. The only exception to this rule at leisure centres is in the swimming pool and surrounding area, where, in the interests of safety and hygiene, there is a policy of no food or drink. This rule also covers breastfeeding, as it would the bottle feeding of a baby.'

Now the council has given her a 'full and open apology' and has 'reviewed and amended' its breastfeeding policy. Operations manager Lee Kimberley told her the lifeguard at the pool was 'acting in accordance-with current policy'. But he added: 'The manner in which it was done was not appropriate.'

Breastfeeding mothers are to get extra legal protection by the Equality Bill, which will become law next year if passed by Parliament. This will give them the right to breastfeed a child in any public place and protect them from being forced out of cafes and shops. It is being introduced after campaigners argued the rights were not clearly outlined or properly enforced under existing law.


Britain's antisemitic cultural Left at work

A row threatened to engulf the Edinburgh International Film Festival yesterday after it bowed to pressure from the director Ken Loach and returned a £300 grant it had received from the Israeli Embassy.

Sir Jeremy Isaacs, the former chief executive of Channel Four, accused the festival’s organisers of making “an appalling decision” and called on them to rescind it. Describing Loach’s intervention as an act of censorship, he said: “They must not allow someone who has no real position, no rock to stand on, to interfere with their programming.” The grant was intended to enable Tali Shalom Ezer, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, to travel to Scotland for a screening of her film, Surrogate.

After days of protest against the award from pro-Palestinian organisations, Loach, an outspoken opponent of Israel’s policies in Lebanon and Gaza, urged filmgoers on Monday to boycott Edinburgh. “The massacres and state terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable,” he said. “With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation and stay away.”

The intervention brought an immediate capitulation from the organisers. In a statement the festival said it accepted that Loach spoke “on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli Embassy”.

Sir Jeremy said that he was disgusted both by Loach’s actions and by the capitulation of the festival organisers. “Ken Loach has always been critical of censorship of his own work, albeit it was many years in the past. The idea that he should lend himself to the denial of a film-maker’s right to show her work is absolutely appalling,” he said. He was “equally horrified” that festival organisers should accept that Loach was speaking on behalf of all British film-makers.

Sir Jeremy worked closely with Loach in the 1980s when, as chief executive of Channel Four, he commissioned a number of controversial documentaries from him. One, A Question of Leadership, was made in 1981 but never broadcast, leading to accusations of political censorship from Loach. The irony of the director’s present position was all the more obvious, given the spirit of the Edinburgh festival, Sir Jeremy said. “It must be good for cinemagoers at an international film festival to see films by Jews, Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, to the benefit of all,” he said. “I have admired the Edinburgh International Film Festival for many years and would like to think that this appalling decision will be rescinded.”

Loach’s acclaimed new film Looking for Eric has made him the toast of the Cannes Film Festival. It is, uncharacteristically, a comedy, although its lead character is an authentic Loach creation — a Mancunian postman who goes off in search of his idol, the footballer Eric Cantona.

Ezer’s film makes no reference to war or politics. It is a romance set in a sex-therapy clinic. It won the audience award at an international women’s film festival in Israel recently.

Lord Janner of Braunstone, a Labour peer and former chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that he was disappointed by the festival’s decision. “By banning the Israeli Embassy from supporting a film-maker the festival is helping to exclude Israelis from British cultural life, something that is clearly unfair.”

Last night a spokesman for the EIFF said that although it had returned £300 to the Israeli Embassy, the festival itself would fund Ms Shalom-Ezer’s travel to Edinburgh out of its own budget.


Don't tell us how to bring up our children

Comment from Australia

My kids don't watch TV. Ever. Neither do yours. In fact, no one watches TV any more. That's because according to the experts, it's no longer called TV. It's a Non-Productive Sedentary Behaviour device, or NPSB. Doesn't really roll off the tongue does it?

But if the authors of the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Guidelines for Early Childhood get their way, we'll stop thinking of TV as an innocent childhood pastime. Instead, we'll think of it as one of the great evils of our slacker modern society.

Looking through the guidelines for kinders and childcare centres, which are being considered by the Federal Government, there's a long list of nasties. Besides TV, high on the black list are parents who drive their kids to kinder or child care, use food as rewards or punishments, give their kids "sometimes" foods sometimes, and give them treats in their lunchboxes.

What rot. What parent doesn't slip a sweet treat into their child's lunchbox as a bribe to make them eat the healthy stuff? What parent doesn't rely on a six-pack of Wiggle yoghurt or a Chuppa Chup at the checkout to smooth a circuit of the local supermarket with an irritable toddler? What parent doesn't heave a sigh of relief when they turn on the TV at the end of a long day to give their three-year-old some time out or to get some work done? What parent doesn't drive rather than walk between home and kinder or child care because it's quicker and easier?

Don't get me wrong. The guidelines are medically and nutritionally sound and full of sensible, healthy suggestions for kinders and childcare centres. I hope the kinder and childcare centre my three-year-old attends follow most of the tips. But I do object to staff taking things one step further and "educating" me as a parent about how I bring up my kids. It's pretty much none of their business how much TV they watch, whether we have dessert, and what I put in my child's lunchbox.

Sure, staff can make information about healthy eating and physical activity available to parents, but I don't believe they have a role in "encouraging" or "discouraging" certain behaviour. In this case I think young mum and Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella is right: programs should aim for individuals at risk rather than setting all of us up to fail.

Maybe as a busy working mother with three young kids I'm a bit defensive about my food, entertainment and transport choices. Like most parents, I do the best I can, but the last thing I want is some helpful hints from strangers about how to bring up my kids. For instance, guidelines suggest parents can be "educated" about the benefits of walking part of the way between home and child care or kinder. Great idea, but it's not always practical. Although I live about half an hour's walk from my son's school and my daughter's kinder, I usually find myself driving them around because it's quicker and more convenient.

However, as a family we play lots of active games and spend lots of time running around the yard and the local park, so I wouldn't really welcome some suggestions about my decision to drive them during the week. Really, it's no one else's business. Sure, if there are kids who are clearly unhealthy or at risk, then education staff have a legal duty to take further steps, but why interfere when there's clearly no need? Why can't staff provide some information about healthy lifestyles, but stop short of judging us?

In any case, surely we're taking away all the spontaneity, the fun and the celebration of childhood. Walking into my child's daycare centre yesterday I was hit by the beautiful, sweet aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip biscuits. Our wonderful chef Rachel had baked them from scratch for the kids as a mid-morning treat, and it made the entire place feel homey and welcoming. But this would be frowned upon at many centres following the healthy eating guidelines to the letter. Similarly, our centre has yummy ice cream cakes for kids' birthdays - a much-loved tradition that does no one any harm.

Never has there been a greater gap between the realities of most families and the advice from the experts. No wonder many parents feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of articles, books and commentators telling them what to do. If experts set the bar too high, parents are just going to stop jumping.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The mindlessness and destructiveness of Britain's Left-indoctrinated social workers again

Child abuser placed with young children. Ferals prioritized over decent people again. It's in their training. The middle class are contemptible, they are told. It's "the poor" who must be given every indulgence. And it was that total focus on "the poor" which was at the heart of the events reported below

Three social workers were suspended today after a youth with a history of sexual offences was placed in a home with two young children. The parents were not told of the teenager's troubled history and only discovered that he had been carrying out repeated sexual assaults on their two-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter months later. The 19-year-old was jailed indefinitely earlier this year after admitting raping the boy and sexually assaulting the girl.

Vale of Glamorgan Council in South Wales today apologised “unreservedly” to the family for placing him with them. An investigation overseen by the NSPCC found that social workers had been aware of his history but the information was not passed on when he became an adult. He spent several months living with the family under an adult placement scheme after becoming homeless.

The council’s director of social services, Philip Evans, admitted that a serious mistake had been made. He said: "There are no excuses, this should never have happened. Some of our staff did not meet their individual and collective responsibilities for taking action to protect children. "We deeply regret the serious consequences for two young children and for their parents, people who have opened their home to vulnerable adults. We apologise sincerely and will try to make amends."

Social services failed to pass on information about the boy’s background and the family had no idea of his history until their daughter told them that he had been assaulting her.

The report said that the youth had been regarded by social workers as a “vulnerable” young man who was himself in need of protection. It stated: "When the teenager became a young adult and staff were hoping him to find accommodation, they concentrated on his vulnerability. "Seen for the most part as a victim in many parts of his life, he was considered to be the one in need of protection. "Because of this focus, much of the relevant information was not made available to the parents of the children and to some of the staff making the decisions about accommodation. As a consequence they were denied the opportunity to take appropriate action to safeguard the children living in the home."

Mr Evans, who has refused to resign, said: "People reading this report will be distressed, shocked and angry at the serious mistakes that were made. They will also be concerned that other children are not made to suffer in this way. "This means facing up to the severe but justifiable criticism in the report to restore public trust in social services. Serious mistakes were made and we offer no excuses. "It is especially sad for us to have let down a family who opened their home on behalf of the community."

The report released today made 12 recommendations for improvement and said that disciplinary action had been started. Mr Evans said that he wants to see the action plan through and added: "This is not a time to be walking away from the problem." The three social services staff who have been suspended have not been identified but could lose their jobs after disciplinary hearings.

At his trial Cardiff Crown Court was told that the youth had a history of sexual offences against children. In 2003 he was accused of "sexually inappropriate behaviour" with a young boy. Two years later he admitted exposing himself and touching another young boy sexually while they were both living at a hostel. He was also dismissed from a job in a bowling alley in 2007 after parents discovered that he was trying to get the telephone numbers of young girls. He became homeless last year after he was accused of indecently assaulting a 16-year-old girl as she slept.

The Cardiff Recorder, Nicholas Cooke, QC, said that it was a matter of "grave concern" how the youth ended up with the family. The teenager was given an indefinite sentence and told that he would be released only when he was considered "no longer a risk". He was ordered to register as a sex offender and banned from working with children for life.

The Recorder said: "In this case a tragedy ensued for a family who only wished to serve the community and who were let down by the system. "They were unable to protect their own children because of a failure to provide them with information."

An NSPCC spokesman said: "We are deeply saddened by this tragic case and the impact on the lives of two young children and their parents. "From the outset the council acknowledged social services had made a serious error of judgement in placing the young man with the family."

Gordon Kemp, Vale of Glamorgan council leader, said that the family had been kept informed of the inquiry and its findings. He praised their "dignity" throughout the ordeal and said that they were "still committed" to the adult placement service. Councillor Kemp said: "It is clear there was a serious error of judgement. We have sought to work with the family to find out what assistance can be given to meet any needs they may have. "It has been an exceptionally difficult time for them. It is especially sad that these tragic events should have befallen a family who provide a service to vulnerable people in need of accommodation."


Pandering by the ADL (One of America's leading Jewish organizations)

By Stephen Steinlight

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is making news again, or, to put it less dramatically, it's garnered a few headlines in Jewish weeklies, some coverage in papers in south Florida, a piece in JTA, angry disbelief on anti-Islamist websites (see, for instance, here and here), and from Jewish bloggers, and an accolade in the on-line publication of the leading Muslim/Islamist organization in the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR is nothing short of flabbergasted if understandably pleased by the ADL's latest loopy escapade. Though Abe Foxman, ADL National Director, would prefer if all the press his organization receives these days focused on his pontifications about the Pontiff, the little news story that doesn't want to go away is decidedly messier, more problematic, and deserves to be widely known because it's a bellwether for Jewish Establishment behavior on a variety of issues, including immigration.

This time the news isn't about the ADL's predatory take on the Armenian Genocide. The organization whose putative mission is not only to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people" but also to "secure justice and fair treatment for all" was finally forced to sever its ties to the Armenian Genocide Denial movement because outraged board members threatened to resign and take their contributions with them. However, the recent press it's received for yet another noisome, controversial action suggests it's learned little from that episode. If it continues playing it cards this poorly and does not recant once more, it will likely find itself embroiled in yet another discreditable media spectacle.

Notwithstanding the most incontrovertible survey data – findings so solid, consistent, and devastating not even the most naïve multicultural Pollyanna can be in denial regarding the fanatical anti-Semitism pervasive among the world's 1.3 billion Muslims – the ADL continues incomprehensible efforts to curry favor with Islam. It has done it in the past by falsifying the historical record (see the Armenians), permitting non-experts in its employ to make intellectually vacuous, sophomoric distinctions about Islam and Jihadism, and seeking publicity by attacking one of the few European politicians with the courage to speak out about the impact of mass Muslim immigration to Europe (more of which later) that will in the course of uprooting Western civilization in its heartland, inevitably bring an end to the Western European chapter of Jewish history within a few decades. For Islamic organizations to have the lead "attack dog" in the American-Jewish Establishment go after one of its mortal enemies was an unexpected, unalloyed pleasure.

Whatever expletives others have used to characterize its action, what the ADL has done isn't an aberration. It flows from deeply rooted predilections: unconditional commitment to open-borders immigration and its mission as a professional "tolerance promoter" to promote tolerance even for the least tolerant (with some exceptions, of course). When this American Jew was being defamed by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) using inaccurate, scurrilous, politically motivated "research" provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) claiming I'm a "white supremacist" seeking to "penetrate" the Jewish community (they smeared me because they disagree with me on immigration policy), I didn't find an ally in the ADL. Rather, having done no research of its own and having made no effort to contact me to ascertain my views, the ADL backed my accusers. Interviewed in the JTA article about HIAS's McCarthyism, Deborah Lauter, ADL's civil rights director, said "the community should be 'wary' of Steinlight." The revealing little drama summarizes the ADL in 2009: be wary of opponents on immigration policy but protective of Islam! Commonsensical American Jews should pay close attention.

Its current gambit is in the service of the only other domestic policy it advocates as passionately as it does illegal and massive immigration: passing "anti-hate crimes" legislation which represents an immediate danger to freedom of expression and a slippery slope that threatens other constitutional liberties. Its fervor to see "hate crimes" legislation enacted is disturbingly reminiscent of and congruent with one of the most extreme demands made by the Muslims nations in Geneva at Durban II – that criticism of Islam be made a crime everywhere in the world. This is identical to UN Resolution 62/154 on "Combating Defamation of Religions" that demands that Islam, through the agency of the UN, be shielded from all hostile criticism. It seems almost beyond belief that the ADL is prepared to carry the water for the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Of course this must appear counterintuitive to observers of an organization whose primary reason for being is supposedly fighting anti-Semitism and which will go to great lengths to keep American Jews traumatized by the fear of it, even if that means occasionally resorting to counting swastikas on the walls of middle-school washrooms when nothing genuinely sinister is happening. Keeping Jewish anxiety high over anti-Semitism requires ingenuity in the U.S., as it is currently constituted, considering the Pew Global Attitudes Project finds only 7% of Americans are anti-Semitic, the lowest percentage in the world, making it a marginal, fringe phenomenon. It's getting tough to stay in business fighting anti-Semitism in a country where Jews are fully at home, perfectly acculturated, successful, and safe. Under these challenging circumstances, counting swastikas in the washroom must cede pride of place to defending Islam or, rather, making sure we all tolerate it. But the line between "fighting hate" and validating the hateful thinking can quickly become invisible. In any event, if the immigration policies the ADL advocates become law, the anti-Semitism fighting industry will make a major comeback.

Before setting aside ADL's debacle over the Armenian Genocide – it's directly related to what makes ADL's actions newsworthy once more and provides a segue – it's worth pointing out exactly what was achieved by trivializing the enormity inflicted on the Armenian people by the Ottomans and their Kurdish henchmen. Apart from the irreparable damage ADL did to its own reputation – it lost an enormous share of its moral capital – it's worth pointing out just how much it accomplished by way of improving Turkish-Israeli or Turkish-Jewish relations. That a Jewish organization was prepared to equivocate about another people's genocide in exchange for what it perceived as immediate Jewish self-interest – to toss the murder of over a million Armenians under the bus was so monstrous and revolting – if there is a cardinal sin a Jewish organization can commit this is it – the fact that its intentions have backfired appears Providential (though there is of course no causal connection).

Israeli-Turkish relations have seriously deteriorated. The "moderate" Islamist Turkish Prime Minister, Recip Tyyip Erdogan, stormed out of the World Economic Forum in Davos after having lost his self-control in the midst of the staid assemblage and "went native," scathingly attacking Shimon Peres for Israel's military operation in Gaza against Hamas. Erdogan's reward for this tantrum was a hero's welcome back home. In addition, the Turkish and Syrian armies have been conducting joint military exercises lately. To top it off, the same Pew Global Attitudes Project survey finds positive feelings among Turks towards Jews in the single digits, just as in other Muslim societies it studied (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey). The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a best-seller in Turkey and the most popular and expensive Turkish TV series of all time, "The Valley of the Wolves," was a recent multi-part dramatization worthy of Julius Streicher which is employs the notorious blood libel and myths of Jewish world conspiracy and combines anti-Semitic with anti-American themes. Anti-Semitism exists within Turkey, long characterized as the most Western nation in the Muslim world, and supposedly deserving EU membership for that very reason, at levels that prevailed in Nazi Germany.

If I sold t-shirts for a living, my fantasy would be to create one for Abe Foxman, ADL's longtime leader, with a logo of the Star of David, an X superimposed on it, with the words "I denied the Armenian genocide and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!" If Foxman had a shred of decency, he would have resigned long ago for heaping such shame on all Americans who are Jews, let alone his own organization. The ADL has done good work in the past, and so occasionally has Foxman; there have been times when his tough-guy persona permitted him to be the one American-Jewish leader who, to use the cliche, "spoke truth to power." But genocide denial is unforgivable: one cannot come back after that. It is still not too late for his board to demand his resignation, though I'm under no illusions about how much backbone it possesses. The truth is without Foxman there is no ADL; at this stage, however, whether that would represent a loss is an open question.

The ADL's recent, newsworthy gambit was to play the role of "convenient idiot" in the human relations world for the growing alliance in Europe and the U.S. between the (intolerant) left and (intolerant) Muslims. Its contribution to the cause was joining a chorus of other politically correct sorts in branding Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliamentarian who's been risking his life trying to awaken a dormant, supine Europe to the future that awaits it as a product of its low fertility and mass Muslim immigration, as an agent of "Islamophobia" – the clever epithet de jour for individuals who recognize the danger Islam represents to West values. As Christopher Hitchens points out, what this usage has slyly accomplished is conflating "racism" – the ultimate contemporary taboo – with one's attitude toward a particular religion, and the combination has made it a powerful tool of intellectual blackmail. That this conflation is ridiculous -- one of Islam's largest boasts is that it is a universal faith with no racial base -- doesn't matter.

The Florida area director of the ADL, one Andrew Rosenkranz, attacked Wilders who has been speaking at synagogues across Florida. Rosenkranz condemned Wilders' alleged "message of hate" which refuses to distinguish between the religion of Islam and Jihadism. A great many scholars of Islam would not affirm Mr. Rosenkranz's simplistic bifurcation (however civic-minded). Making that distinction is, in fact, a far more difficult intellectual and theological undertaking than he recognizes. While in a narrow sense Islamism with a capital "I" is a recent historical development – we associate the derivation of the term with the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928 under the leadership of Hasan al-Banna – Islamism/Jihadism has been a foundation stone of Islam from its inception, and any close reading of the Qur'an, the Hadith, or familiarity with the Sunnah or the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence makes the point incontestable.

Rather than sanctimoniously condemn Wilders' view of the Qur'an and Islam as a religion with insufficient knowledge and understanding, perhaps Mr. Rosenkranz should actually read it (making a special point to peruse those sections dealing with Mohammed's wars of extermination against the Jewish tribes of the Arabian Peninsula and the multiple of profoundly ugly and violent commentaries on Jews). He can also save himself the trouble by reading or even just dipping into Dr. Andrew Bostom's two thick tomes The Legacy of Jihad and The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism, which offer a compilation of chapter and verse (mountains of chapter and verse) from the Qur'an and other primary Muslim sources that reveal the huge quotient of theological anti-Semitism in Islam's holy books as well as the Machiavellian statecraft fundamental to what is not only a religion – perhaps not even primarily one as we understand it in the Judeo-Christian world – but a minutely detailed system of governance, with an overlay of religion, that seeks world domination. That it has been an imperial project from its birth no historian would deny.

It is critical to bear in mind that Muslims cannot view the Qur'an as Westerners do their Holy Scripture as a smorgasbord from which to pick and choose in the interest of the most humane exegesis. In Islam, one cannot retain the nice bits and leave out the nasty ones. That's because there's no parallel between the status of the Qur'an in Islam and that of the Hebrew Bible in Judaism or the New Testament in Christianity. The great majority of Jews and Christians (excluding the relative handful of true literalists in both faiths) understand scripture as the divinely inspired words of human beings who were children of their time, whose values were historically conditioned. If an ancient text has become an ethical anachronism (such as passages in Leviticus recommending stoning homosexuals or adulterers) we no longer consider them binding. But Muslim believers see the Qur'an in very different terms. It is the literal word of God transmitted whole and perfect – perfect for all time – to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel. It is thus an extension of God himself; the analogy would not be the Hebrew Bible or New Testament but rather to the Christian Eucharist. No human being can change what is written or reinterpret it in light of contemporary understanding. It is neither historically nor socially conditioned. What was true when the revelation was allegedly made to Mohammed in the seventh century is equally true now. Passages that strike a modern Western ear as utterly barbarous and malevolent – because they are – retain all their sanctity for an authority over believers.

It's doubtful many Americans have yet arrived at the point of embracing the immigration-related policy recommendation to which Wilders' refusal to accept Islam as a religion is meant to lead: banning Muslim immigration on the grounds that Islam is a totalitarian ideology rather than primarily a religion. During the Cold War, America employed ideological exclusion to ban communists – the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 is the prime example – though the Act was also used to bar others deemed undesirable. Though Congress eventually repealed it, ideological exclusion persists today in the Patriot Act, which bars from the U.S. any one involved in "a position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity." (See discussions of exclusion in the Patriot Act in Vernon M. Briggs' Mass Immigration and the National Interest and Amitai Etzioni's How Patriotic Is the Patriot Act?: Freedom Versus Security in an Age of Terrorism.)

My own indecision on this question has more to do with current facts on the ground – the comparatively low level of Muslim immigration to America, the far greater historical ability the United States has demonstrated to integrate immigrants than European societies, and the perhaps futile hope that Islam will undergo a Reformation of sorts under American pluralistic influences – than with any fundamental disagreement with Wilders' view of Islam and his concerns about its malign influence. Should the number of Muslim immigrants grow precipitously, acculturation be demonstrably unsuccessful, Islam remain unchanged despite its encounter with American values, or should more than minimal numbers of American-born Muslims identity with or become involved with global Jihadism, my attitude would quickly change. If I were a European lawmaker with Wilders' understanding of the demographic trends showing Europe will be 20% Muslim by 2050 and almost certainly majority Muslim by the end of the century, I would become an ally overnight.

Finally, Rosenkranz's uninformed defense of the indefensible and embarrassingly sophomoric interjection of a Jewish organization that exists to fight anti-Semitism into this battle on Islam's side recalls Robert Frost's definition of a liberal as someone who cannot take his own side in an argument. That Muslims hate Jews is no mystery; it is thoroughly, exhaustively documented. That Islamic anti-Semitism is theologically as well as politically based is news to no one familiar with Islamic history and scripture. That Muslim Jew-hatred preceded the advent of Zionism by a thousand years is simple fact. That the handful of Jews left in Muslim societies exist, as did Jews for hundreds of years before them, under a regime of dhimmitude as barely tolerated third-class human beings who live a life of constant humiliation, expropriation, and ceaseless threat is also acknowledged by every expert and impartial journalist who has spent time across the Muslim patrimony. Yet the ADL is dedicated to "tolerance" even for the intolerant. That Panglossian faith trumps every other reality, including the most worrying developments on the horizon, and every other allegiance.

When it comes to immigration policy, the ADL is dedicated to open-borders even if the price is the guaranteed importation of several million more Muslims with astronomical levels of anti-Semitism to America – who will in only a few decades exceed the number of American Jews – as well as tens of millions of foreign-born Hispanics with the second highest level of anti-Semitism in the world. But the ADL is in the tolerance business – rather like the capitalist in the rope business in Lenin's famous parable that sells the rope with which he will be hanged. It also pushes "hate speech" legislation that will fulfill the dreams of the Muslim states that gathered in Geneva at Durban II: it will make criticism of anti-Semitic, anti-Western Islam against the law.

American Jews who believe they know what the ADL is all about or who have supported it in the past because they thought it was a good insurance policy against the revival of anti-Semitism should open their eyes. They need to reconsider exactly what they're supporting. In an America in which anti-Semitism barely exists the ADL is an anachronism. But much worse than being superfluous, it is actively supporting policies that will generate the rebirth of anti-Semitism. If you buy their ticket, be prepared to take this ride. Is there a better way to defend a pluralistic America dedicated to individual liberty in which Jewish life can flourish? Reject the Jewish Establishment's suicidal advocacy of open-borders immigration and oppose the ADL in its effort to legitimate Islamism and to tamper with one of our most fundamental rights: freedom of expression.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Obama's fine words but discordant deeds

President Obama delivered his much-anticipated Notre Dame commencement address yesterday, an event that had occasioned much controversy in Roman Catholic circles because of the university's decision to honor the president with an honorary degree despite his pro-abortion views. Obama discussed abortion during the speech, and as one who is decidedly in the middle on this subject (see this 1999 article for a fuller exposition of our views), we were impressed as we listened.

Yet later, thinking about the substance of what he said, we began to wonder if we'd been had. Consider this anecdote
"As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called "The Audacity of Hope." A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an e-mail from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the Illinois primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life--but that was not what was preventing him potentially from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my Web site--an entry that said I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." The doctor said he had assumed I was a reasonable person, he supported my policy initiatives to help the poor and to lift up our educational system, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, "I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words." Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor's letter, I wrote back to him and I thanked him. And I didn't change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my Web site.
What does this amount to, really? After winning the Democratic primary, Obama toned down his campaign's truculent rhetoric. That is, his primary campaign appealed to hard-core ideologues, while his general-election campaign made a softer pitch, aimed at attracting moderate and nonideological voters. Obama's rhetorical skill is such that he makes this like an act of depth and thoughtfulness. In fact, it is the most pedestrian of campaign tactics.

The president continued:
"And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that--when we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe--that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions."

So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available. Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women." Those are things we can do.

Now, understand--understand, Class of 2009, I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it--indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory--the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.
There is a tension between Obama's acknowledgment "that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory" and his statement that "the views of the two camps are irreconcilable." To be sure, he qualifies the latter with weasel words: "at some level." And it true but trivial that it makes no logical sense to assert (to take one formulation of the extreme views) that abortion is both tantamount to murder and of no more moral significance than excising a cyst.

But most people's moral intuitions lead them away from these extremes, and along the spectrum between them there are many ways of reconciling the competing moral claims of both sides. One may take the view that abortion is a gray area, neither murder nor mere "medical procedure." One may see it as a necessary evil, or as a morally ambiguous action that should be avoided, or legally restricted, in case the antiabortion side is right.

Political compromise is the way in which democratic governance produces policies to approximate such wide-ranging views. But the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions, has severely restricted the space available for political compromise. Obama's position--that Roe should remain the law of the land--is one of irreconciliation.

Many surveys suggest that a majority of Americans, while eschewing both extremes, favor greater restrictions on abortion than Roe now permits. Obama may "respect" those who hold such views, but he thinks that their views should continue to be excluded from the political process. His rhetoric of respect and reconciliation is welcome and reassuring. If only it were true.


Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich

Americans know how to use the moving van to escape high State taxes

With states facing nearly $100 billion in combined budget deficits this year, we're seeing more governors than ever proposing the Barack Obama solution to balancing the budget: Soak the rich. Lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon want to raise income tax rates on the top 1% or 2% or 5% of their citizens. New Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn wants a 50% increase in the income tax rate on the wealthy because this is the "fair" way to close his state's gaping deficit.

Mr. Quinn and other tax-raising governors have been emboldened by recent studies by left-wing groups like the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that suggest that "tax increases, particularly tax increases on higher-income families, may be the best available option." A recent letter to New York Gov. David Paterson signed by 100 economists advises the Empire State to "raise tax rates for high income families right away."

Here's the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states.

And the evidence that we discovered in our new study for the American Legislative Exchange Council, "Rich States, Poor States," published in March, shows that Americans are more sensitive to high taxes than ever before. The tax differential between low-tax and high-tax states is widening, meaning that a relocation from high-tax California or Ohio, to no-income tax Texas or Tennessee, is all the more financially profitable both in terms of lower tax bills and more job opportunities.

Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.

Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies -- old and new -- have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses.

Martin Feldstein, Harvard economist and former president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, co-authored a famous study in 1998 called "Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?" This should be required reading for today's state legislators. It concludes: "Since individuals can avoid unfavorable taxes by migrating to jurisdictions that offer more favorable tax conditions, a relatively unfavorable tax will cause gross wages to adjust. . . . A more progressive tax thus induces firms to hire fewer high skilled employees and to hire more low skilled employees."

More recently, Barry W. Poulson of the University of Colorado last year examined many factors that explain why some states grew richer than others from 1964 to 2004 and found "a significant negative impact of higher marginal tax rates on state economic growth." In other words, soaking the rich doesn't work. To the contrary, middle-class workers end up taking the hit.

Finally, there is the issue of whether high-income people move away from states that have high income-tax rates. Examining IRS tax return data by state, E.J. McMahon, a fiscal expert at the Manhattan Institute, measured the impact of large income-tax rate increases on the rich ($200,000 income or more) in Connecticut, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 5% from 4.5%; in New Jersey, which raised its rate in 2004 to 8.97% from 6.35%; and in New York, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 7.7% from 6.85%. Over the period 2002-2005, in each of these states the "soak the rich" tax hike was followed by a significant reduction in the number of rich people paying taxes in these states relative to the national average. Amazingly, these three states ranked 46th, 49th and 50th among all states in the percentage increase in wealthy tax filers in the years after they tried to soak the rich.

This result was all the more remarkable given that these were years when the stock market boomed and Wall Street gains were in the trillions of dollars. Examining data from a 2008 Princeton study on the New Jersey tax hike on the wealthy, we found that there were 4,000 missing half-millionaires in New Jersey after that tax took effect. New Jersey now has one of the largest budget deficits in the nation.

We believe there are three unintended consequences from states raising tax rates on the rich. First, some rich residents sell their homes and leave the state; second, those who stay in the state report less taxable income on their tax returns; and third, some rich people choose not to locate in a high-tax state. Since many rich people also tend to be successful business owners, jobs leave with them or they never arrive in the first place. This is why high income-tax states have such a tough time creating net new jobs for low-income residents and college graduates.

Those who disapprove of tax competition complain that lower state taxes only create a zero-sum competition where states "race to the bottom" and cut services to the poor as taxes fall to zero. They say that tax cutting inevitably means lower quality schools and police protection as lower tax rates mean starvation of public services.

They're wrong, and New Hampshire is our favorite illustration. The Live Free or Die State has no income or sales tax, yet it has high-quality schools and excellent public services. Students in New Hampshire public schools achieve the fourth-highest test scores in the nation -- even though the state spends about $1,000 a year less per resident on state and local government than the average state and, incredibly, $5,000 less per person than New York. And on the other side of the ledger, California in 2007 had the highest-paid classroom teachers in the nation, and yet the Golden State had the second-lowest test scores.

Or consider the fiasco of New Jersey. In the early 1960s, the state had no state income tax and no state sales tax. It was a rapidly growing state attracting people from everywhere and running budget surpluses. Today its income and sales taxes are among the highest in the nation yet it suffers from perpetual deficits and its schools rank among the worst in the nation -- much worse than those in New Hampshire. Most of the massive infusion of tax dollars over the past 40 years has simply enriched the public-employee unions in the Garden State. People are fleeing the state in droves.

One last point: States aren't simply competing with each other. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently told us, "Our state is competing with Germany, France, Japan and China for business. We'd better have a pro-growth tax system or those American jobs will be out-sourced." Gov. Perry and Texas have the jobs and prosperity model exactly right. Texas created more new jobs in 2008 than all other 49 states combined. And Texas is the only state other than Georgia and North Dakota that is cutting taxes this year.

The Texas economic model makes a whole lot more sense than the New Jersey model, and we hope the politicians in California, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota and New York realize this before it's too late.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Neutral Net, or Prior Restraint?

Julius Genachowski, nominee for the all-important position of Federal Communications Commission chief, has a disturbing history when it comes to freedom of expression. As head of the FCC, he will oversee the nation's communications industries—hardly a job to be entrusted to one with a penchant for stifling regulation and rampant censorship.

Yet “Baron” Genachowski is no friend to the free flow of ideas, or the marketplace of public discourse.

A proponent of “Net Neutrality,” Mr. Genachowski supports the idea that government should regulate the Internet—ostensibly to prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from “discriminating” against content or hardware. But in reality, it serves as a method for the government to “orchestrate” the Internet, denying ISPs the right to innovate as the Internet is developed further.

“Net Neutrality,” while it sounds good in name, is essentially the “fairness doctrine” of data: Under Mr. Genochowski's heavy hand, all data would be forced to flow at the same speed for the same price. If it were codified, the government regulators who claim they are preserving the Internet will have certainly done just that—in a moribund state—and at the cost of future innovations and improvements.

Ultimately, in such a scenario, the government would be dictating what private websites can post, which flies in the face of all the web is, and was intended to be. In its current incarnation, if a website wishes to allow paid advertisement, then so be it. If consumers deem its service too poor—or too biased—to meet their needs, another will be created.

Software is the perfect example: Users who didn't care for leading brands Microsoft or Apple developed an open source platform, Linux. Versions of the user-developed software are now in use by clients ranging from the U.S. Department of Defense to Pixar. Even Dell is offering consumer-grade computers equipped with Linux. And all this by private citizens, without government intervention.

Clearly, those who push for government intervention have a surprisingly low view of individual entrepreneurship—or of web users' ability to interact and self-police. Certainly, the Internet has enough forms of instant communication (email, social networking, blogs, forums) that it would be impossible for a corporation to discriminate unfairly without notice by its many eagle-eyed users. All of which has worked impeccably to date.

Yet now comes Baron Genachowski. Mr. Genachowski's “Net Neutrality” ideas would not, as he would like to claim, “neutralize” the Internet; rather, they would decrease innovation, stifle competition, and ultimately set the stage for increased government involvement and regulation. That, of an industry many in government do not understand. And then there is the speed of the Internet's development—it advances far too quickly for any government regulation to keep up with it. Any attempt would doubtlessly end in disaster—except, of course, for those who consider the U.S. Postal Service the very embodiment of innovation.

Making matters worse, if government can force ISPs to broadcast particular types of information, there's no limit to what they can do to force them to broadcast content. Most agree that it is unconstitutional—prior restraint on free speech. Even so, the nation may be headed there.

On another front where Genachowski's heavy hand could spell censorship, top Obama advisor David Axelrod refused to comment on the “fairness doctrine” back in February, stating that it would be up to the President and Mr. Genachowski as to whether or not it is reintroduced. And on that issue, Baron Genachowski has been chillingly silent—though his influence in authoring the President's technology agenda, including its focus on “diversity” (read: "liberalism") in media ownership and viewpoints, is alarming, to say the least.

With ideas such as these, Baron Genachowski clearly does not belong in the role of the nation's primary communications regulator. American's don't care to see Internet freedom fall to the heavy hand of federal hegemony. Nor do they wish to see broadcast fairness fall to the dictates of liberal duplicity.


Pro-Obama Group Demands Socialist Media

A socialist-oriented "media reform" group with ties to the Obama Administration is calling for new federal programs and the spending of tens of billions of dollars to keep journalists employed at liberal media outlets and to put them to work in new "public media." The group, which calls itself Free Press, is urging "an alternative media infrastructure, one that is insulated from the commercial pressures that brought us to our current crisis."

However, Free Press didn't say one word about the well-documented liberal bias that has contributed to the decline in readers and viewers for traditional media outlets and has enabled the rise of the Fox News Channel, conservative talk radio, and the Internet. Instead, Josh Silver of the Free Press attacked the "bellowing ideologues" on the air and declared that "The entire dial is empty of local news in many communities."

This was a tip-off that, in order to take conservative radio hosts off the air, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be flooded with complaints that "local news" has been shortchanged by stations airing conservative personalities with national programs such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Michael Savage.

Free Press, whose June 2008 "media reform" conference in Minneapolis turned into a virtual Obama for President campaign rally, is in a position to provide those complaints to the FCC. It claims nearly half-a-million supporters and a staff of 30, mostly in Washington, D.C.

As part of the proposed new "media infrastructure," Free Press is calling for a $50 billion "Public Media Trust Fund" to underwrite the creation of new jobs for journalists and the use of the existing federal AmeriCorps program "to include journalistic activities as part of its mission" in the form of "journalism positions" and "journalism projects." AmeriCorps is a federally-funded national and community service agency.

The group is also urging a direct federal bailout of liberal media institutions, declaring that "The Department of Labor could design a program aimed at keeping reporters employed at existing news organizations or at new outlets." Free Press explains, "If the government were to subsidize 5,000 reporters at $50,000 per year, the cost would be $250 million annually, a relatively modest sum given the billions coming out of Washington."

In addition to the $50-billion "Public Media Trust Fund," another one of the proposals from the Free Press group is a $50-million "government-seeded innovation fund for journalism," described by Craig Aaron of Free Press as "a taxpayer-supported venture capital firm that invests in new journalism models."

None Dare Call it Socialism

The socialist nature of the proposals should not be surprising. Aaron is one of two Free Press staffers who have been employed by the socialist magazine In These Times and previously worked at Ralph Nader's Congress Watch. The group's policy director, Ben Scott, has been an aide to Senator Bernie Sanders, an openly declared socialist who has criticized the media for covering both sides of the global warming debate. Another Free Press staffer was an activist with Planned Parenthood.

All of the controversial recommendations, which are certain to find a sympathetic ear in the Obama Administration, are included in the new 185-page book, Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age, officially released in Washington on Thursday, May 14, at the Free Press summit held at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the journalism profession. Several hundred people showed up in a cramped conference room that one speaker laughingly described as "cozy."

Although Free Press didn't want to examine the problem of liberal bias contributing to the decline of traditional media, the Newseum's fifth floor, the News History Gallery, includes a film about liberal media bias.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which is already subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which itself gets $400 million a year in federal payments), wasn't good enough for acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael Copps, who delivered a keynote speech.

He declared that we need a PBSS-"a Public Broadcasting System on Steroids" -based on the extraction of more dollars from hard-pressed American taxpayers. "That can't be done on the cheap, and we'll hear laments that there's not a lot of extra cash floating around these days," Copps said. "But other nations find ways to support such things."

He added that "...if things go well, we may be launched on an era of reform to match what the Progressives and New Dealers of the last century gave us. What a shining, beckoning opportunity we have."

Targeting Talk Radio

Copps ruled out the FCC bringing back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which enabled bureaucrats during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations to mute or silence on-air conservative personalities. "The Fairness Doctrine is long gone and it's not coming back-as much as some conspiracy theorists see it lurking behind every corner," he said. However, he did say that the FCC would force broadcasters to sell media properties to approved women and minority groups. He called this "equal opportunity" and "diversity."


British Town halls hire citizen snoopers as young as SEVEN to spy on neighbours and report wrongs

Children as young as seven are being recruited by councils to act as 'citizen snoopers', the Daily Mail can reveal. The 'environment volunteers' will report on litter louts, noisy neighbours - and even families putting their rubbish out on the wrong day. There are currently almost 9,000 people signed up to the schemes. More are likely to be recruited in the coming months. Controversially, some councils are running 'junior' schemes which are recruiting children.

After basic training, volunteers are expected to be the 'eyes and the ears' of the town hall. They are given information packs about how to collect evidence, including tips about writing down numberplates, which could later be used in criminal prosecutions.

Luton Borough Council's Street Seen scheme encourages its 650 volunteers to report 'environmental concerns'. It is also recruiting 'Junior Street Champions', aged between seven and 11. Primary schools could also be involved within two years.

Similarly, Islington Council in north London has recruited 1,200 'Islington Eyes' to report crime hotspots, fly-tipping and excess noise from DIY. Volunteers are given a list of things to do when confronted with fly-tippers, including taking photos 'without being seen'. Last year the council undertook a recruitment drive for youngsters aged nine and above, called Junior Eyes. Children are given special books to write down reports on littering or graffiti in their schools, which they then send to the council.

A spokesman for Islington town hall said: 'It's not possible for the council to see what's going on in the borough at all times, so our Eyes for Islington are a great help, reporting issues such as dangerous footpaths, fly-tipping and graffiti.'

Welwyn Hatfield Council in Hertfordshire has given its 13 volunteers handheld computers to take photographs of problem areas. The information is then uploaded to a map of trouble spots.

Overall, a total of 8,442 volunteers have signed up at 17 councils in England. Other councils are set to follow their example and set up their own networks of volunteers. They say the scheme helps them find out about problems which they might not know about otherwise. But critics are worried the schemes could easily be abused and encourage a 'Big Brother society'. The move comes as local authorities dish out £100 fines to householders who leave out too much rubbish or fail to follow recycling rules.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'Community spirit is one thing, spying on your neighbours is quite another. 'It is the job of the police to maintain law and order, and there is no reason taxpayers should have to pay twice for the same service. 'People are sick and tired of being spied on by their councils and in a recession we simply cannot afford luxuries like handheld computers at a time when the most basic public services are being scaled back.'

The Welwyn and Hatfield scheme is run by waste collection and environmental contractor Serco, which hopes to recruit more volunteers this summer. A spokesman for the council said: 'Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and its project partner Serco do not conduct any surveillance of residents in enforcement of environmental crimes, and neither do the community champions that have volunteered.' Serco said other councils were keen to introduce its handheld computers, although many areas are conducting similar schemes using more low-tech methods.

For example, Hillingdon Borough Council in north London, which has recruited 4,800 volunteers from the age of 16 in the past 18 months, simply gives its 'Street Champions' pens and a folder of contact details. A spokesman said: 'Street Champions themselves have confirmed that it is not a scheme where people are asked to spy on neighbours. Street Champions are asked to act just as any other resident might to report issues in their local area.' The spokesman added that two brothels had been closed down this year as a result of reports.

In North Devon, where trial schemes are currently under way, some of the volunteers have helped the police close down a drug den by giving witness statements.

However, the controversial pilot schemes have been dropped in a number of areas including Stoke -on-Trent in Staffordshire and Tower Hamlets in east London. A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: 'Environment volunteers are people who care passionately about their local area and want to protect it from vandals, graffitists and fly-tippers. 'These community-spirited residents are not snoopers. 'They help councils cut crime and make places cleaner, greener and safer.'


Australia: Aboriginal campaigner breaks Aboriginal tradition to protect his family

A rare example of realism about chronic Aboriginal child abuse

A LONG-TIME campaigner against racism says he banned his Aboriginal relatives and friends from staying in his home for fear of his two children being sexually assaulted. Stephen Hagan said his decision a decade ago initially caused resentment, but he felt it necessary to ensure the safety of his children, Stephen Jr, now 16, and daughter Jayde, 13. "I chose not to have people, in particular men in town on business, sleeping under the same roof as my young children," the University of Southern Queensland academic said. "I took that decision principally because I was not fully cognisant of their past inclinations around children."

The former Aborigine of the Year - who fought a successful decade-long campaign to rename the ES "Nigger" Brown Pavilion at the Toowoomba Sports Ground - also refused to lend money.

In a speech to a forum on preventing violence in indigenous families in Mackay, Mr Hagan said he gave up drinking alcohol and gambling to be a better role model for his children. He told the forum he would never have been able to live with himself if he allowed someone to stay the night in his Toowoomba home and later found out that the person "abused my trust by wandering into one of my children's rooms with the intent of violating their innocence". "Today, I sleep soundly knowing they are safe in their beds without a worry in the world about devious intrusions from within," he said.

Referring to the federal Government's National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children report released last month, Mr Hagan said that if women who were the victims of violence got no satisfaction from the Government, they should "do what we are best at in times of crisis - look out for and protect each other".

"In 1999, I reprioritised my personal and family goals," he said. "It was the year I discerned the critical proactive role I needed to play in support of my immediate family. I took those decisions knowing they were directly opposed to the desire to always attempt to satisfy the shallow expectations of my extended family and friends. "In its infancy, this process was quite painful as I stopped lending money to my family and friends - most of which anyway was never returned in full, or sometimes at all - and I declined requests from them to bunk down for the night at my residence when visiting from out of town. "While initially my actions put me offside with disgruntled relatives and longstanding acquaintances, it nevertheless gave me complete confidence to provide uncompromising safety and financial security for my family - and an increase in quality time with them."

It was a sad reality that other indigenous parents could not sleep soundly in their homes because community expectation was often so great they "succumbed to the pestering of visitors seeking free accommodation", he said. "It is in fact this very issue of overcrowding of indigenous homes that today has been identified as one of the chief reasons for high incidents of sexual abuse of children as articulated in the Little Children are Sacred Report done in 2007 in the Northern Territory.

"I often wonder why perpetrators of domestic violence don't take out their frustrations on someone in the pub and spare their loved ones at home the indignity of being violated by them. "Too high-risk, I guess - the other fellow in the pub might hit back and, worse still, hit a lot harder."

Mr Hagan criticised indigenous adults who did not take action when they knew of violence occurring in their communities, even being committed on their daughters by drunken husbands. "Although men's groups are growing steadily around the nation with the goal of assisting other men to address issues of intergenerational violence, I'm afraid they still lag behind their female counterparts nationally and globally in setting strategic goals," he said.

"I recently spoke to an Aboriginal friend I had not seen since high school and she told me of her past 30 tumultuous years of unsuccessful and painful relationships. She told me she tolerated the first 15 years of hell at the hands of her unstable high school sweetheart before finding the courage to leave while she still had her sanity. "She said she forgave him for the first assault as she justified the loss of his job as a passable excuse for the unanticipated violent outburst." But the woman told Mr Hagan the bashings continued "a couple of times a week after drinking sessions with his mates".

"She said her children knew when he was drinking and left to visit friends for the night to be out of harm's way. I noticed a deep sadness in her eyes when she recalled how she waited, fearful and alone at home, cowering in her lounge room chair for him to arrive and commence his usual verbal abuse, telling her she was a useless so-and-so. She said she never sought protection from friends at their house after her first experience that resulted in her husband tracking her down, forcing entry to the house and beating her in front of her friends, and then bashing them as well.

"The day after these beatings, her children would routinely return home to get dressed for school and attempt to patch their mother's wounds. "Their inebriated father slept soundly, sprawled across the blood-spattered sheets on the double bed in their rented Aboriginal Housing Company house.

"My friend took some delight in saying, with a toothless grin, that she was now living alone, but ashamedly revealed her sons became teenage statistics in the prison system and her daughters 'had children to a couple of no-hopers while still children themselves'. Only time will tell whether the vicious cycle of violence will be continued into the next generation of this unlucky family whose only mistake their loving mother made was an extremely poor choice of partners."

Mr Hagan's battle to remove the word "nigger" from the now-demolished stand at the Toowoomba Sports Ground was settled out of court in February. He had gone to Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Tribunal seeking $10,000 in damages for the "hurt and humiliation" caused by the Toowoomba Sports Ground Trust. The trust counter-sued Mr Hagan for $80,000 in legal costs for the court battles, which went as far as the UN.

Mr Hagan's bid to have the sign removed failed in the Federal Court and the High Court. In 2003, a UN committee deemed "nigger" offensive and insulting, and recommended the sign be removed. But the signage remained and it was intended the nickname would be included in a planned memorial to the footballer after the stand was demolished last year. In September, the state Government - which is funding a $2.15million upgrade of the stadium - declared it unacceptable for the word "nigger" to appear at any venue.

Mr Hagan launched legal action last year against the Toowoomba Chronicle for $750,000, saying the newspaper encouraged people to lampoon and vilify him on the basis of his race. He blames the Toowoomba Chronicle for fuelling racial hatred in his home town.



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

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

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


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Bill Maher’s ridiculous conceit

Bill Maher should have taken a course in firing full-auto weapons at Front Sight before he made his anti-religion documentary Religulous, because his method of shooting is what the military likes to call “spray and pray.” Maher points his weapon — in this case a movie camera instead of an M-16 — in the general direction he thinks the enemy is then fires wildly. The problem is that as a documentarian Bill Maher ignores both weapons safety procedures and military rules of engagement. Bill Maher fails to correctly identify his targets before he puts his finger on the trigger and fires. So while he can be scored for some direct hits, he both creates a lot of collateral damage and leaves half the real enemy unscathed.

The premise of Religulous — defined by conflation of the two words for his title — is that religion is ridiculous. Maher has found no evidence that the existence of God is consistent with a rational perception of human existence; therefore he proceeds on the premise that religion is nothing but fraud and fanatical irrationalism used to promote war and man’s inhumanity to man.

If Bill Maher had made a documentary on that subject — fraud and fanatical irrationalism used to promote war and man’s inhumanity to man — much of what he shows us in Religulous would have been excellent evidence for it. Like many religious critics before him — including Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken — Bill Maher finds in religious circles no shortage of confidence men and country boobs to expose with harsh light.

But after a Twentieth Century in which megamurders were committed by atheists such as Stalin and Mao — and in which arguably the greatest enemy of his own family’s Judeo-Christian traditions was Hitler — his blaming the belief in God as the cause of war and genocide is just as ridiculous as anything Bill Maher shows in his movie. Nor does Bill Maher show us in his section on end-of-the-worlders how the nuclear Doomsday Clock, the Zero-Population-Growth movement, and Al Gore’s Global Warming scenarios are every bit as apocalyptic as Christianity’s Book of Revelation … and just as faith-based.

Toward the end of Religulous Bill Maher addresses the camera and declares as an affirmation of his own belief: “Since I don’t know that life after death exists, you can’t either.”

Really? Does Bill Maher truly think that no human ability exists in another human being that he doesn’t have in full? Would Bill Maher pick up a violin and play the Paganini Violin Concerto for me then? Can Bill Maher solve a quadratic equation? Pilot a Bell helicopter? Hold his breath underwater for seventeen minutes as David Blaine did on Oprah?

Or – while asleep in California — astral travel over a department store next to a freeway sign and the next morning — using Yahoo Yellow Pages and Google Maps — locate that store in an area of downtown St. Louis he’d never visited … as I once did? Shakespeare wrote, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

I have no problem with Bill Maher demanding reason and being skeptical when he doesn’t find it. But I do have a problem with Bill Maher being unable to imagine anyone being less of a blockhead than he is.


The British hunting ban: a dead law

Thank God for our sensible police forces. At a time when our parliament is in complete disarray, the Association of Chief Police Officers has announced that the ban on hunting is hard to enforce and chief constables have more pressing priorities.

To force the ban through, more than 700 hours of parliamentary time and the Parliament Act were used to introduce a ridiculous and badly drafted bill. Since then there have been eight prosecutions of hunts, of which only three have been successful. Tony Wright, a huntsman in Devon, was in 2006 found guilty of illegal hunting by a district judge at Barnstaple magistrates’ court in a private prosecution taken out by the League Against Cruel Sports. After 3½ years, his case ended up in the High Court and he was acquitted.

The judgment interpreted the muddled law in such a way that two other prosecutions were dropped. If the courts can’t decide how to deal with this law, how can the police be expected to do so? There have been scenes of high comedy, with packs of hounds, huntsmen, saboteurs and policemen chasing each other round England’s pastures green.

There are 325 registered hunts in England and Wales and, as a result of the publicity engendered by the ban, more people than ever before are today following them, on foot or on horses or in cars. The police know that 99.9% of them are decent, law-abiding citizens who hold no brief for cruelty to animals.

The truth is that when this law came about Tony Blair, then prime minister, and other middle-of-the-road new Labour bigwigs had no real interest in banning hunting. Indeed, I had always wondered if the £1.1m they received from animal rights organisations, including the Political Animal Lobby, influenced their policy. A hunting ban was a bone to be thrown to their tiresome backbench dogs, many of whom saw it as “a revenge for the miners”, assuming that everyone who followed hounds was a signed-up Tory toff who had cheered for Margaret Thatcher when she closed down the mines.

I went to Wales before the ban and met former miners who said their jobs had been taken away from them, they couldn’t afford to go on holiday, no leisure centres had been built for them and now the powers-that-be wanted to take away hunting, their only pastime and pleasure.

By contrast, the zealots of the animal rights movement were delighted when the ban came into effect. In the 1990s I helped to run an organisation called Leave Country Sports Alone which represented members and supporters of the Labour party who objected to the proposed bill. I received through the post not only razor blades stuck to the inside of an envelope, but also excrement – whether human or otherwise I didn’t care to investigate – which Terry, our poor postman, was required by law to deliver, even though the package had broken open en route. I also received anonymous letters with such messages as “I hope your balls drop off (if you have any) and your fannies shrivel and dry up” and “I hope you get cancer and die a slow and painful death. Yours sincerely a well wisher”.

Earlier this year a supporter of the Warwickshire hunt was killed by a gyrocopter that had been used by anti-hunt “monitors” to follow the hunt for some weeks. A man linked to a local animal rights group, Protect Our Wild Animals, has been charged with murder and is now awaiting trial.

Animal rights “monitors” must be instructed firmly that it is the role of the police, and no one else, to uphold the law. Activists cannot appoint themselves to police hunting any more than other citizens can appoint themselves to police any other law.

The Hunting Act has done nothing to improve animal welfare but has, in fact, harmed it. The rights and wrongs of hunting have been debated ad nauseam for decades. It has to be accepted that legislation cannot change the predatory instincts of foxes or the views of farmers who seek to protect their pigs, sheep and poultry. In places where there is now no hunting, such as over National Trust land, the fox population is contained by trapping or shooting or worse. It is an utter fallacy to believe that shooting involves less suffering for foxes than hunting. Many people argue that it would be better for the welfare of the fox if there were more hunting taking place than at present.

There are no reasonable arguments left for retaining the Hunting Act. Bad laws should be repealed and this is a very bad law. David Cameron said about it last year: “It’s quite clear it isn’t working. There are more people hunting than ever before. The law is being made to look an idiot and that isn’t a good situation to be in. We have a very clear position on this: there will be a free vote and if there is a vote to repeal the hunting ban, there will be a government bill in government time.”

For the sake of our overburdened policemen, trying to foil terrorist plots, solve knife crime and keep the traffic moving, let’s hope he is one politician who will stick to his word.


Hate-filled Leftist bigotry in Britain

Bigotry, like poverty, is always with us. It is not often in this country that you come across open, unselfconsciously brutal bigotry, but it is always there somewhere, lurking in the most respectable of places, and sometimes it drops its mask and bares its vicious teeth.

Twice last week I was astonished by glimpses of this vindictive grimace. I had begun to think this country was largely free of the ideological hatred and class war that so disfigured it in the 1960s and 1970s. Even the ban on foxhunting has failed. But now I realise that impression is all too superficial. Bigotry will out, and it wants to condemn, punish and control. It is the mindset of the totalitarian.

The Guardian published a column by Zoe Williams on Tuesday that ought to make any right-minded person gasp with shock, no matter what his or her political views. Quite a few Guardian readers were indeed shocked, to judge by their comments online. Williams was discussing the fact that many parents who would prefer to send their children to private schools – she calls them privateers – are obliged by the economic slump to send them to state schools. Her view is that the children of such privateers should be forced to the bottom of the waiting lists for state primary schools.

Never mind, she says, whether such children are “swamping” state primaries, or might do in the future, or not at all: this has nothing to do with the availability of school places and everything to do with ideology – such children must be put at the back of the queue. Her view, unpleasant though it is, might be worth rational discussion. But Williams’s tone is far from rational. It is frightening. She writes like an old-fashioned class warrior who believes children must be punished for the class guilt of their parents, and if that sounds vindictive, she admits she means it to. “Ha! Good,” she exclaims unselfconsciously.

Perhaps this is an opportune moment to point out that Williams was privately educated at the expensive and selective Godolphin and Latymer school in west London, which no doubt helped her to get a place at Oxford and a job at The Guardian; should she, too, be punished for the class crimes of her parents in educating her privately? Which queue should Williams be shoved to the back of to atone for her inherited class guilt?

What horrifies me more than her general approach is the totalitarian detail in which she indulges her class hatred. Her list of exclusion for privateers’ children is precisely graded. To the bottom she dispatches those who have been recently removed from private schools; “above them but below everybody else” should be children with siblings at private schools; and somewhere near them should be children whose parents’ first choice was a faith school.

It reminded me at once of the careful protocols of Nazi selection systems, or the elaborate plans put forward by Stalinists and Maoists; it reads like those chilling, heart-rending accounts of life in the USSR and communist China, from Solzhenitsyn to Jung Chang.

“There are other questions”, Williams goes on, apparently ignorant of similar interrogations during the worst of 20th-century totalitarianism, that “an admissions process could use to whittle out privateers. Do they have a 4x4? Can parents provide a letter from any local left-wing organisation attesting to their commitment to open-access state education? Did they go to any meetings? . . . come on, you lefties . . . what happened to your sharp elbows?” I rest my case. This is hate speech, class war and political bigotry of the most vicious sort. What is one to make of the suggestion that “local left-wing organisations” should stand in judgment on parents and their thoughts?

Just as astonishing was a comment made in a guide to adoption published by a state-funded national agency, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering. Its new booklet, the Pink Guide to Adoption for Lesbians and Gay Men, describes people who oppose gay adoption as “retarded homophobes”. The association repeated this choice phrase on its Be My Parent website, although it has since been removed. This again was a shocking glimpse of the unmasked teeth of vicious bigotry, made even worse by unselfconscious hypocrisy.

“Retarded” is a word that no decent person would now use to describe another. It was a cruel and largely American expression for people with intellectual impairments. For years it has been considered inaccurate, ignorant and offensive and demeaning to people with learning disabilities.

I find it amazing that anyone would use it at all, let alone in public or in print, let alone the people in the adoption association, which is about as politically correct as an organisation can be, and still less in a booklet aimed at a minority that has good reason to notice and resent demeaning words. It seems the phrase was written by a contributor, not by the association, but that is no excuse – the word “retarded” should have leapt out at those responsible for producing the booklet.

And how much worse it is to use the word “retarded” as a conscious insult. How can any outfit subsidised by the taxpayer and run by the supposedly politically correct use any disability as an insult? And how much worse again it is to use such bizarre insults against people to discredit their arguments and their beliefs. Does the association think that people who disagree with it are, ipso facto, “retards”? Is disagreement with it a sign of cognitive impairment? Does it perhaps think that people who disagree are not merely mentally handicapped (in another old-fashioned expression) but mentally ill as well, in need of locking up in an insane asylum as in totalitarian countries?

Whether people who oppose gay adoption are right or wrong is not the point. I happen to think they are wrong, but it will not do to dismiss their arguments with insults – insults that are not only offensive to them but also even more insulting to innocent bystanders. I am glad, however, that these bigots have done so, because those who wrote these words and published them and publicised them on the internet have revealed themselves in their true colours.

For the same reason I am glad that Williams felt free to publish her spiteful rant and that The Guardian printed it. By their words shall ye know them. That is one of the great beauties of free speech. If we must have bigots and totalitarians in our midst, it is good to know who they are and what they think, so we can beware of them.


BOOK REVIEW of Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage by Jeff Benedict

Reviewed by Jeff Jacoby

On June 23, 2005, the US Supreme Court handed down one of the most reviled decisions in its history. By a vote of 5 to 4, the court ruled in Kelo v. City of New London that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses through eminent domain in order to make the land available to new owners for redevelopment. In so doing, the majority decided that the words "public use" in the Fifth Amendment -- "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation" -- did not mean what they said. Property could be confiscated for entirely private use, the court ruled, so long as the government expected some eventual public benefit, such as an expanded tax base or new jobs.

"Promoting economic development is a traditional and long-accepted function of government," wrote Justice John Paul Stevens, in a rather bloodless majority opinion joined by Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy. "[T]here is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose."

But as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor pointed out in a vigorous dissent, the Supreme Court had never held that economic development alone could justify the use of eminent domain. After all, she observed, practically any lawful use of private property will generate some incidental public benefit. If it takes no more than that to satisfy the Constitution's command that only land required "for public use" may be condemned, "then the words 'for public use' do not realistically exclude any takings, and thus do not exert any constraint on the eminent domain power."

O'Connor's dissent, in which Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined, put the bottom line starkly: Kelo meant that property owners could be stripped of their land whenever the government decided that some other owner -- some wealthier owner -- could use it to make more money or generate more business. "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," warned the dissenters in a passage that was widely quoted and struck a chord with the public. "Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

Even before Kelo, the use of eminent domain had expanded beyond the classic case in which private property is taken to make way for a highway or post office or other public facility. In the 1954 case of Berman v. Parker, the Supreme Court had unanimously permitted eminent domain to be deployed for what was then called "urban renewal." It upheld property takings within a blighted area of Washington, DC, where two-thirds of the housing was beyond repair; the property was then sold to new owners for redevelopment. The Public Use Clause encompassed "public purpose," Berman held -- and eliminating the harm caused by blight was a legitimate public purpose. Property owners could be forced to yield to a government seeking to clean up a dirty, dangerous, impoverished slum.

But Fort Trumbull -- the New London, Conn., neighborhood at the heart of the litigation in Kelo -- was no slum.

To be sure, it was no Greenwich, either, as I discovered in 2001, when I visited New London to learn more about the eminent-domain litigation that was just then getting underway. Home to an ill-smelling sewage plant, separated from the rest of New London by railroad tracks, Fort Trumbull was nobody's idea of chic. The Revolutionary-era fort that gave the neighborhood its name was neglected and overrun with weeds.

On the other hand, many of Fort Trumbull's families were conscientious about their properties, into which many had invested much sweat equity -- stripping and refinishing hardwood floors, putting in flowerbeds, installing new plumbing, replacing broken sidewalks. Matt Dery, a lifelong resident of Fort Trumbull, described to me how he had bought the house next to his parents' home, gutted it to the studs, and renovated it by hand, working on it every day for a year before getting married and moving into it with his bride. Susette Kelo bought a 110-year-old Victorian cottage overlooking the Thames River and researched 19th century building styles to find a historically-appropriate paint color; she settled on Odessa Rose, a shade of pink. Mike Cristofaro showed me the yews and fruit trees his parents had planted in their back yard on Goshen Street; they had transplanted them from their first house in New London -- a house the city had seized through eminent domain 30 years earlier.

In short, Fort Trumbull was like countless other working-class American neighborhoods -- homey but humble, cherished by its residents though not likely to inspire covetous glances from outsiders.

But everything changed when Pfizer, the giant pharmaceutical corporation, decided in 1998 to build its new research headquarters along the river just south of Fort Trumbull. City officials were thrilled to have landed a Fortune 100 company; at one point the mayor called it "the greatest thing that's ever happened to New London." To pave the way for Pfizer's arrival, the city charged the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) with clearing out the adjoining neighborhood and replacing its modest homes and shops with something more posh: offices, a conference center, upscale condominiums, a luxury hotel.

No public use was envisioned for the new construction. Nearly all of it was to be privately owned and operated. The NLDC's goal was to make Pfizer happy, and Pfizer executive George Milne put his company's wish list in writing. "Our New London expansion requires the world-class redevelopment planned for the adjacent 90 acres in … Fort Trumbull," he wrote in 1999, itemizing the amenities Pfizer was looking for: "a waterfront hotel with about 200 rooms, a conference center and physical-fitness area, extended-stay residential units, and 80 units of housing." Accommodating the families already living in Fort Trumbull, however, was not a part of the Pfizer/NLDC vision. As another Pfizer executive condescendingly told the Hartford Courant: "Pfizer wants a nice place to operate. We don't want to be surrounded by tenements."

Ruthlessly, the NLDC began to obliterate the old neighborhood. Property owners were pressed to sell their homes. If they refused, they were told, the city would condemn their property and acquire it by eminent domain. Most of the homeowners, many of them elderly, bowed to the pressure and left. A handful of holdouts, including Kelo, the Derys, and the Cristofaros, refused, and fought city hall all the way to the Supreme Court.

Little Pink House is the story of that fight, and it is told with verve and passion by journalist Jeff Benedict. Though not a neutral narrative -- Benedict doesn't hide his admiration for Kelo and the other property owners who battled to save their homes -- it is fair and deeply informed. To recreate the small-town political street fight that led to a notorious Supreme Court landmark, the author conducted hundreds of interviews over three years with nearly everyone who played a role in the case. He also reviewed a vast paper trail, from transcripts and government memos to private journals, letters, and e-mails.

Susette Kelo and her former home in New London

The result is a brisk and absorbing case study in how easily government and the politically well-connected can muscle past the rights of ordinary citizens. It is also a heartening reminder of how seriously Americans regard their liberties, and the grit with which they are capable of defending them.

At the heart of Little Pink House are two compelling women. One is Kelo, a fortysomething EMT-turned-nurse who had grown up in poverty and whose sole asset was the fixer-upper on the water she had fallen in love with at first sight. It was the only property she had ever owned and it meant the world to her. "I have never been happier in my life than I am now," she wrote on her first night in the house in 1997, "sitting on the porch rocker watching the water go by."

The other central figure is Claire Gaudiani, the flamboyant and hard-driving president of Connecticut College, who agreed to lead the NLDC and made it her aim to carry out the most sweeping redevelopment in New London's history. A highly accomplished Renaissance woman, Gaudiani tended to be imperious and relentless when pursuing a goal. She insisted that redeveloping Fort Trumbull would be a boon to New London's poor -- she compared her mission at the NLDC to those of Jesus and Martin Luther King -- yet she seemed oblivious to the price Fort Trumbull's homeowners were being asked to pay. "Anything that's working in our great nation," she blithely declared, "is working because somebody left skin on the sidewalk."

A key theme of Little Pink House is the social and economic inequality between those who wanted Fort Trumbull razed and rebuilt -- the powerful Pfizer Corporation, Connecticut Governor John Rowland (later convicted in an unrelated corruption scandal), the high-living Gaudiani -- and the far-from-wealthy property owners who went to court to save their homes. "They were largely a lunch-pail group," Benedict writes of the plaintiffs,

-- a carpenter, an auto mechanic, a nurse, a self-employed businessman, and some senior citizens hoping to spend their final days in the homes they had occupied for decades. Most of them had dirt under their nails at the end of the workday.

What they didn't have was the pull to prevent New London from dispossessing them for the sake of a powerful company and higher tax revenues. Such disparities are nearly always present when the eminent-domain power is abused -- a point that wasn't lost on the Kelo dissenters. "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," Justice O'Connor wrote.

The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.

More than 200 years before Kelo, Supreme Court Justice William Paterson characterized eminent domain as "the despotic power . . . of taking private property when state necessity requires." To seize private property absent such "state necessity" is worse than despotic, it is unconscionable. Unfortunately it is not uncommon; what happened in New London has happened innumerable times in recent years. In 2003, the Institute for Justice -- the libertarian public-interest law firm that represented the Kelo plaintiffs pro bono -- documented hundreds of examples of eminent domain being used to seize property for the benefit of politically favored businesses. The New London case was unusual only because it went to the Supreme Court.

But the court's execrable decision wasn't the last word. Its effective repeal of the Fifth Amendment's Public Use Clause sparked a nationwide backlash and, as Benedict observes in an epilogue, galvanized a movement for reform at the state level:

As of 2008, two state supreme courts have rejected the notion that the government can take private property to generate tax revenues or create jobs, and three others have cast doubt on its validity. . . . [S]even states have passed constitutional amendments to ban taking private property for economic development and 42 of the 50 states have passed legislation to protect property owners from abusive eminent domain practices.

Susette Kelo's little pink house still stands: It was moved last year to a new location in downtown New London, where it has been designated a historic landmark and has become the home of a local preservationist. The revival of Fort Trumbull, meanwhile, has yet to begin. Nearly four years after the Supreme Court allowed New London to confiscate homes and shops in the name of economic development, nothing has been built where the old neighborhood used to stand.



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

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

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


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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama and Crimes Against Humanity

President Obama at his Hundred Day White House séance proclaimed waterboarding to be torture. His was a clear, unambiguous, declarative statement. In making that statement, he opened up former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney to criminal prosecutions, here and before an international criminal court. And not just these men, but possibly hundreds of others, including members of Congress from his own party.

Cliff May, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, takes a different approach to the question of whether waterboarding is torture or not. May was badgered by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. May’s answer is not as yes/no, as on/off as President Obama’s. May said it depends. May’s answer was more nuanced. Liberals used to like nuance, but that was when John Kerry was nuancing. Here’s how it went:

Jon Stewart: But answer my question: Is waterboarding torture? Yes or no?

Cliff May: Defining torture is not easy. A simple legal definition is that it “shocks the conscience.” Cutting off Daniel Pearl’s head on videotape — that shocks my conscience. Sending a child out as a suicide bomber — that shocks my conscience. People jumping off the World Trade Towers because they’d rather die that way than by burning — that shocks my conscience. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 atrocities, gagging for a few minutes and, as a result, providing information that saves lives, then going back to his cell for dinner and a movie — no, my conscience is not shocked by that.

Are our consciences shocked by subjecting KSM to waterboarding? Apparently, this enhanced interrogation technique didn’t shock the consciences of members of Congress who were briefed on its planned use. Some of us need to re-play those tapes of cell phone calls by people trapped in the World Trade Towers.

The question keeps coming back to whether we extend all the rights of American citizens to captured terrorists. And the question also comes back to whether the terrorists are to be accorded all the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Increasingly, our courts are saying terrorists are to be given constitutional protections, here, in Afghanistan, and at Gitmo. Geneva is another matter. This treaty binds nations to humane treatment of prisoners of war. In order to be counted as a prisoner of war, you must be in uniform (John McCain was, Nathan Hale was not), you must be subject to military discipline, and you must be taking part in a war conducted by competent authority.

The Geneva Convention also governs respect for medical treatment of prisoners and wounded soldiers. Take Al Qaeda in Iraq, for example. When one of their IEDs went off in 2003 near Baghdad and killed and wounded a number of American soldiers, a U.S. Army medical HUMVEE raced to the scene. Waiting for the medics to arrive, the terrorists set off a second IED. It had been planted there specifically to target the medical help. Inside the HUMVEE, an American female nurse was burned beyond recognition.

The purpose of the Geneva Convention was to give warring nations a strong, positive incentive to behave according to international norms and not to engage in conduct that “shocks the conscience.” When we give Al Qaeda or Taliban terrorists prisoner of war status and Geneva Convention coverage—without demanding anything of them in return—we abandon one of the great achievements of the Geneva Convention.

Of course, some humans are not accorded human rights. Our courts have seen to that. President Obama named Justice Stephen Breyer as his ideal jurist. In 2000, Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion in Carhart v. Stenberg. That was the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional Nebraska’s law against partial-birth abortion. Justice Breyer’s opinion is worth quoting at length. He described various techniques of late-term abortion that do not shock his conscience. Nor do these techniques--unlike waterboarding, unlike slapping, unlike sleep deprivation--shock President Obama’s conscience, or the consciences of our liberal rulers.

During a pregnancy’s second trimester (12 to 24 weeks), the most common abortion procedure is “dilation and evacuation” (D&E), which involves dilation of the cervix, removal of at least some fetal tissue using nonvacuum surgical instruments, and (after the 15th week) the potential need for instrumental dismemberment of the fetus or the collapse of fetal parts to facilitate evacuation from the uterus. When such dismemberment is necessary, it typically occurs as the doctor pulls a portion of the fetus through the cervix into the birth canal. The risks of mortality and complication that accompany D&E are significantly lower than those accompanying induced labor procedures (the next safest mid-second-trimester procedures). A variation of D&E, known as “intact D&E,” is used after 16 weeks. It involves removing the fetus from the uterus through the cervix “intact,” i.e., in one pass rather than several passes. The intact D&E proceeds in one of two ways, depending on whether the fetus presents head first or feet first. The feet-first method is known as “dilation and extraction” (D&X). D&X is ordinarily associated with the term “partial birth abortion.”

A little translation may be required: “at least some fetal tissue” translates to the unborn child’s arm, a leg, or maybe her head. “Dismemberment of the fetus with nonvaccuum surgical instruments” means cutting off her arms or legs with razor-sharp implements while the child, still alive, is capable of feeling excruciating pain.

Rest assured, this is not torture. It doesn’t meet the legal definition of torture because under the rule of Roe v. Wade, the unborn child does not meet the legal definition of a person.

Terrorists were once defined—like pirates and slave traders—as hostis humani generis, enemies of all mankind. As such, they received no due process rights. They had no right to counsel. They received no protections under international agreements. When seized on the high seas by the Royal Navy, they could be promptly hanged upon determination that they were engaged in the proscribed activities.

It would have shocked the consciences of our ancestors, however, to dismember even such low characters as pirates, to cut off their arms and legs, and to let them bleed profusely to death. The most inhuman of humans in the nineteenth century could not have been treated as the least of humans are treated in our enlightened United States, by order of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Our new president abhors torture, unless it is the torture of the unborn. In that case, it is not torture at all, but simply inducing fetal demise. This great international uproar over what is and is not torture has been generated because of the treatment of three known mass murderers. The slaughter of innocents in their thousands elicits no international outrage. This is part of what Justice Breyer sees as evolving international standards of decency.

In my opinion, the Obama Administration’s abortion agenda is indeed a crime against humanity.

This weekend, President Obama will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame. There, he will be honored, among other things, for his brave stand against torture. He has appointed Kathleen Sebelius to head our nation’s health system. She is a disciple of the most notorious late-term abortionist in the county, a dismemberer, by his own count, of 60,000 fetuses. The President and Secretary Sebelius want to force us all to pay for abortion-on-demand. They want to force doctors and nurses to take part in killing unborn children. They will doubtless tell us our consciences should not be shocked. They’re only inducing fetal demise. Heaven help us all. And Heaven help Notre Dame.


A Bad Economy's Silver Lining

By Michael Medved

The economic downturn has brought hurt and hardship to millions of Americans, but is it always a terrible thing when hard times force more of us to stay put in our homes and neighborhoods?

The Census Bureau reports that fewer folks than ever moved to new residences last year, and some alarmists in the news media seem blind to the silver-lining benefits from the current recession.

The New York Times ran the most misleading headline: "Slump Creates Lack of Mobility for Americans" suggesting that the miserable economy had stopped socioeconomic, not just residential, mobility. The Wall Street Journal used a more accurate headline: "Fewer in U.S. Move as Economy Falters," but it also portrayed the situation in dire terms. Reporter Conor Dougherty announced: "Americans changed residences less often last year than at any time since the Census Bureau began keeping track in 1948, the latest sign of how the recession and falling house prices are keeping more people in place."

Prominent accounts of the new numbers never acknowledged the advantages for society when fewer people move, or mentioned gains in stability and continuity for both families and neighborhoods. Long-term residence in the same house facilitates a sense of community and connection that's impossible to achieve with a more transient lifestyle. Involvement in local organizations and institutions including churches and synagogues usually suffers when a community's citizens move frequently.

In his brilliant 2000 book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Harvard's Robert Putnam decries the isolation and disengagement that result when migrating Americans repeatedly find themselves the "new kids on the block." No wonder so many of us know fictional families on TV far better than we know our neighbors.

For children in particular, moving presents a daunting prospect, with potentially damaging social, educational and psychological consequences. My parents dragged us to new cities just before I began first grade, and then again immediately before my junior year in high school. In both cases, I reacted with typical horror at the challenge of finding new friends and adjusting to intimidating, unknown environments.

A powerless existence

The traditional restlessness of American seekers who regularly pursue new homes, new jobs and new luck comes at a cost contributing to a feeling of personal and political powerlessness. Arriving in a new environment where no one knows your name can heighten impressions of alienation and impotence emotions that in turn feed our national sense of out-of-control change and vulnerability.

In this context, the Census Bureau report brought additional good news: Moves between states fell most sharply, dropping by a third since 2000. Among the 35 million moves from March 2007 to March 2008, a higher percentage than ever chose new homes in the same county. The reduced flow of out-of-state newcomers including the lowest number of immigrants from abroad since 1995 might help relieve strains on local schools, hospitals and social services.

At least The New York Times noted that the sharp drop in residential mobility resulted from some positive developments, not solely the dreary economy. "Homeownership rates have risen, and owners are typically less likely to move than renters," the journal of record reported.

In fact, the percentage of Americans who own their homes reached all-time highs of 70% under President Bush, and renters are five times more likely to move than buyers.

In addition, increasing life expectancy and low birthrates mean a rapidly aging population. Despite the lure of "retirement communities," older people move to new homes far less often than young people. It should be grounds for celebration, not alarm, when graying Americans prefer to remain in their old hometowns, surrounded by neighbors (and, ideally, family members) of every age, rather than planting themselves in synthetic communities populated entirely by their fellow codgers.

When individuals make rational adjustments to cope with economic challenges, those changes might hurt some sectors of the economy at the same time that they help others. For instance, the sharp decline of Americans on the move is undoubtedly a disaster for Realtors and movers, but it might simultaneously enrich remodelers, landscapers and construction companies, as strapped families decide to improve or beautify their existing residences rather than grabbing a new Xanadu.

'Unanticipated blessings'

Too often, news reports ignore the unanticipated blessings that flow from the tough business climate. Numbers suggest a dramatic drop in revenue for lotteries and casinos meaning less money squandered on gaming and less risk of gambling addiction. Other figures suggest fewer divorce filings as fewer couples can afford legal bills and separate residences.

Most significantly, the downturn has been linked to a dramatic increase in the national savings rate with many Americans wisely spending less in order to put away more funds for the future. This might mean short-term problems for the consumer economy and credit card companies, but an increasing tendency to cut back on luxuries and build a nest egg brings profound benefits in moral, psychological, cultural and even long-range economic terms.

Analyst William Frey of the Brookings Institution struck a gloomy note when he told The Wall Street Journal: "We are normally thought of as a country on the move, but now all levels of migration have almost come to a standstill. People are just staying put."

He might have intended this startling pronouncement as a warning of still more doom and pain, but viewed in the proper context, the dramatic decline of residential mobility also offers grounds for encouragement and reassurance.


What's Elevated, Health-Care Provider?

Economy of language would be good for the economy


The indecipherable language of government has actually become dangerous to the well-being of the nation. As the federal government claims ever greater powers, its language has become vague to the point of meaningless and meaningless to the point of menacing.

The other day I was watching "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, came on from Washington to talk about health care. A reporter on the set, Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times, asked a few clear and direct questions: What is President Obama's health care plan, how would it work, what would it look like? I leaned forward. Finally I will understand. Ms. Sebelius began to answer in that dead and deadening governmental language that does not reveal or clarify but instead wraps legitimate queries in clouds of words and sends them on their way. I think I heard "accessing affordable quality health care," "single payer plan vis-à-vis private multiparty insurers" and "key component of quality improvement." In any case, she didn't answer the question, which was a disappointment but not a surprise. No one answers the question anymore.

As she spoke, I attempted a sort of simultaneous translation, which is what most of us do now when we hear our political figures, translate from their language to ours. "Access health care" must mean "go to the doctor." But I gave up. Then a thought crossed my mind: Maybe we're supposed to give up! Maybe we're supposed to be struck dumb, hypnotized by words and phrases that are aimed not at making things clearer but making them more obscure and impenetrable. Maybe we're not supposed to understand.

I shouldn't pick too hard on Ms. Sebelius specifically. Most people in the administration, and many in government, speak as she speaks, and have for many years. In her case there's reason to believe it's a quirk. A New York Times profile recently had her recalling with self-deprecating charm the time her child ran a high fever and she caused a bit of confusion by forgetting to say, "We have to go to the hospital!" and announcing instead, "This unsustainable increase in body temperature requires immediate access to a local quality health-care facility!" I made that up, but it was believable, wasn't it?

New Class gobbledygook, which is more prevalent than ever, is also more destructive than ever because the government itself is doing more than ever. The Journal this week had a front page story reporting that the Obama administration is attempting to come up with ways, including federal regulations and "moral suasion," to change the way employees and executives are paid in the financial services industry "including at companies that did not receive federal bailout money." This is rather stunning, and is just one very small area of the new activism.

But back to language. Lately it is as if the American government, having decided in its programs, assumptions and philosophy to become more European, has at the same time decided it would be amusing to speak to the American people only in French.

Which would give rise to a simple and wholly understandable suspicion that the government doesn't speak clearly about what it's doing for the reason that they know that if people fully understood they would say, "Oh that's not a good idea," or, "The cost of that will kill us."

I think there are two major but not fully formed or fully articulated fears among thinking Americans right now, and the deliberate obscurity of official language only intensifies those fears.

The first is that Mr. Obama's government, in all its flurry of activism, may kill the goose that laid the golden egg. This is as dreadful and obvious a cliché as they come, but too bad, it's what people fear. They see the spending plans and tax plans, the regulation and reform hunger, the energy proposals and health-care ambitions, and they—we—wonder if the men and women doing all this, working in their separate and discrete areas, are being overseen by anyone saying, "By the way, don't kill the goose."

The goose of course is the big, messy, spirited, inspiring, and sometimes in some respects damaging but on the whole brilliant and productive wealth-generator known as the free-market capitalist system. People do want things cleaned up and needed regulations instituted, and they don't mind at all if the very wealthy are more heavily taxed, but they greatly fear a goose killing. Economic freedom in all its chaos and disorder has kept us rich for 200 years, and allowed us as a nation to be generous and strong at home and in the world. But the goose can be killed—by carelessness, hostility, incrementalism, paralysis, and by no one saying, "Don't kill the goose."

Complicating all this is the fact that so many of the Obama people seem to be extremely bright and pleasant academic types with no particular and personal knowledge of business in America. They are not messy businessmen with a love for the system that lifted them. Mr. Obama himself, like John McCain, has shown no particular interest in making money in his life, with the latter preferring military and then political glory, and the former preferring political power.

The second great fear is that the balance between those who pay taxes and those who need benefits will be left, after the great flurry, all out of whack. When this balance is deeply disturbed or distorted, when the number of those who need to take truly overwhelms those who need to make, a tipping point occurs. People become disheartened. Generations become resigned. Tiredness steps in. We will miss irrational exuberance.

Is anyone in the Obama administration watching this? If they are, they're not saying, certainly not clearly. I continue to be astounded by how much Mr. Obama reminds me in his first few months of George W. Bush in his first few years. There is a sense with both men that they always pushed too hard, were always revolutionizing and doing "the work of generations," as Mr. Bush put it. They appear to share an insensitivity to the delicacy of even so great a nation as ours, an inability to see limits, and to know at a certain point that what you do with a nation becomes what you do to it.

Do members of the administration speak obscurely because they can't help themselves, or do they speak the way they speak because they really aren't all that keen to have people understand them? Maybe they calculate that lack of clarity ensures maximum ability to maneuver. But maybe they should think less about maneuvering. They're not helping the prevailing sense of national anxiety by speaking in a special lingo all their own. After all, it's not their health-care system they're reforming, it is America's. It would be nice if America were allowed to know what exactly the plan is, and how it would work, and who would pay, and how.

As for the Republicans, the administration is giving them an opening. There could be gain in becoming the party that speaks with concrete honesty, and in a known human language, on the great issues of the day. The GOP could become the party that doesn't make you translate, and doesn't leave you giving up. I wonder if the party right now, for all the battering it's experienced the past few years, is still quick enough to see an opening like this.


Freedom of assembly and freedom of association under serious threat in Australia -- says NSW chief prosecutor

For once I fully agree with Mr. Cowdery

THE Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, QC, has condemned the Government's new bikie laws as "very troubling legislation" that could lead to a police state and represent "another giant leap backwards for human rights and the separation of powers - in short, the rule of law".

Mr Cowdery's warning comes after a second wave of anti-bikie laws passed through Parliament this week, this time providing for penalties of up to five years' jail for members of a proscribed gang who "recruited" members. Last month the Premier, Nathan Rees, insisted the first set of laws be rushed through Parliament after the death at Sydney Airport of Anthony Zervas during a bikie brawl. Those laws allow the Police Commissioner to move in the Supreme Court to proscribe criminal gangs and jail members who associate with each other. But the laws are yet to be used and the Government will not say when they might be.

In a paper published on his website, Mr Cowdery says: "There may be a need for better enforcement [rather] than for legal powers." He warns that the law "does not apply only to bikie gangs but 'to any particular organisation' in respect of which the Police Commissioner chooses to make an application. "Where will the line be drawn?" he asks. "These words cast a very wide net … Why should the responsibility for identifying which organisations warrant being declared under the act be vested in the Police Commissioner, an unelected official? "The spectre of a police state lurks here: an unacceptable slide from the separation of powers by linking the powers of the Police Commissioner with those of 'eligible' judges."

Mr Cowdery says the fact the Attorney-General has the power to declare which "eligible" Supreme Court judge could hear an application to proscribe a gang meant an attorney-general could have "unfettered power to 'stack' the hearing of applications for declarations of organisations under the act with judges willing to enforce it". The Attorney-General could also "revoke or qualify the authority of a judge to determine applications for declarations if he or she does not perform to the Government's satisfaction'.

He says that while this may not be the intention of the present Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, "a provision so drafted left on the statute books is extremely dangerous and potentially open to serious misuse".

Mr Cowdery writes: "It matters not that the motives of the urgers or policy makers may be honourable … we all need constantly to be alert to the erosion of rights and be proactive in preventing it … This is especially a time for vigilance in NSW. Someone once described it as the price of liberty."

When Mr Rees rushed through the laws, he said it was "proportionate response to an escalation in violence [involving] outlaw motorcycle gangs". He said bikie gangs had "crossed the line" with the Sydney Airport brawl in March and subsequent shootings on "public streets". The laws received initial internal opposition from Mr Hatzistergos.

Last year, the the fiercely independent Mr Cowdery described the Iemma government as as "ruthless" and guilty of "grubby" tactics and said Mr Hatzistergos was a "micro-manager" who had lost sight of the "bigger picture". Recently, the Government legislated to give a future DPP a 10-year-term in the job, rather than open-ended tenure.



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

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

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


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Daily Howler" on Olberman and Miss California

"Daily Howler" is a "liberal" blogger but he seems to have some decency and capacity for thought in him so I liked his comments about the very lightweight Leftist TV talker Keith Olbermann below. Conservatives often point out hypocrisy and unprincipled opportunism on the Left so it is encouraging to see that someone inside that camp can see it too. He starts out by noting that the inescapable Marion Barry expressed the usual black contempt for homosexuality.

Is Barry right about the views of “the black community?” We hope—and assume—that he isn’t. (Our assumption is based on the 12-1 vote within the city council.) That said, Barry’s comments produced spirited reaction in, and from, the Washington Post. Three days later, for example, the Post printed an editorial condemning Barry’s statements (click here). “Mr. Barry's Ugly Words,” the headline said. “The D.C. Council member chose politics over principle in a vote against recognizing same-sex marriages.”

Barry is a major American politician, in a major American city. He sits where the rubber meets the road—inside a political body which may consider a bill to legalize same-sex marriages. We weren’t offended by Barry’s “ugly words” ourselves—although we hope (and assume) he was wrong in his sweeping assessment of the views within DC’s black community.

But it’s funny, ain’t it? You haven’t heard squat about Barry’s “ugly words” on your “progressive” cable news channel! But last night, The Dumbest Person in the World devoted another lengthy segment to ridicule of Carrie Prejean, an insignificant 21-year-old who recently made the mistake of saying something about same-sex marriage which Olbermann has never even bothered describing. (For the record, her view on the matter seems to resemble that of Barack Obama. And that of Hillary Clinton. And John Kerry and Al Gore.) The big nut went on for almost seven minutes mocking Prejean—and her breast implants. But it’s funny, ain’t it? You’ve never heard a word on this program about the things Marion Barry said.

Of course, the reasons for that are obvious: Olbermann doesn’t have videotape of Barry walking around in a two-piece swim suit. And Barry is an older man, not a younger woman. As Olbermann has made dumb-foundingly clear, he seems to live for the opportunity to ridicule young women. He never says boo about older man—perhaps understanding they could come to his studio and engage in conduct which might require him to obtain a sphincter implant.

Olbermann’s a woman-trasher—a genuine nut on this matter. And no, we hate to break the news: He doesn’t do “progressive” television. He seems to do work designed to capture the eyeballs of well-meaning young liberals. And for some ungodly reason, he does television which has long been devoted to the ridicule of women’s brains and bodies.

Marion Barry doesn’t count. An insignificant creation of Donald Trump quite incessantly does.

(Background: Trump owns the Miss USA contest. He now engineers a dispute every year, hoping to bring his product parity with the more famous Miss America pageant.)

For sheer stupidity, we strongly recommend last night’s buffoonish segment, devoted to the eternal dumbness of Miss California. (To watch the segment, click this.) Olbermann plays you every way but blue, citing those breast implants two separate times (including in his opening paragraph) and failing to tell you why Prejean might be upset about the way she’s been treated. (He always forgets to explain this.) You see, in the world of “progressive cable,” calling a young woman a “c*nt” and a b*itch” isn’t worthy of comment—if she fails to hold pseudo-progressive views, that is. “Where are the feminists?” Laura Ingraham inquired. We would broaden her limited framework: Where are the progressives?

Oh, we forgot! They’re dragging their knuckles and sucking their thumbs, watching a 50-year-old nutcase get his eternal jollies. And drive his rating among the demo, putting millions of bucks in his pants.

In this world, Barry doesn’t exist. You see, Barry is both black and male, and Keith doesn’t plan to enter such realms. For years, he has pimped you trash about women’s dumbness, while progressives have sat there and stared.

Prejean is a thoroughly insignificant figure—an invention of Trump’s latest pseudo-controversy. By way of contrast, Barry is a major player in one of our most important cities—a city known all over the world, even in Secaucus. But so what? On your “progressive” TV machine, you hear about one—but not the other.

SOURCE. Taranto also has some mocking words on the matter

Race Talk

by Walter E. Williams

What to call black people has to be confusing to white people. Having been around for 73 years, I have been through a number of names. Among the polite ones are: colored, Negro, Afro-American, black, and now African-American. Among those names, African-American is probably the most unintelligent. You say, "What do you mean, Williams?" Suppose I told you that I had a European-American friend or a South-America-American friend, or a North-America-American friend. You'd probably say, "Williams, that's stupid. Europe, South America and North America are continents consisting of many peoples." You might insist that I call my friend from Germany a German-American instead of European-American and my friend from Brazil a Brazilian-American rather than a South-America-American and my friend from Canada a Canadian-American instead of a North-American. So would not the same apply to people whose heritage lies on the African continent? For example, instead of claiming that President Barack Obama is the first African-American president, it should be that he's the first Kenyan-American president. In that sense, Obama is lucky. Unlike most American blacks, he knows his national heritage; the closest to a national heritage the rest of us can identify is some country along Africa's gold coast.

Another problem with the African-American label is not all people of African ancestry are dark. Whites are roughly 10 percent of Africa's population and include not only European settlers but Arabs and Berbers as well. So is an Afrikaner who becomes a U.S. citizen a part of United States' African-American population? Should census takers and affirmative action/diversity bean counters count Arabs, Berbers and Afrikaners who are U.S. citizens as African-Americans and should they be eligible for racial quotas in college admittance and employment?

Are black Americans a minority group? When one uses the term minority, there is an inference that somewhere out there is a majority but in the United States we are a nation of minorities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 census, where people self-identify, the ancestry of our largest ethnic groups are people of German ancestry (15.2 percent), followed by Irish (10.8 percent), African (8.8), and English (8.7) ancestry. Of the 92 ethnic groups listed, in the census, 75 of them are less than 1 percent of our population.

Race talk often portrays black Americans as downtrodden and deserving of white people's help and sympathy. That vision is an insult of major proportions. As a group, black Americans have made some of the greatest gains, over the highest hurdles, in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind's history. This unprecedented progress can be seen through several measures. If one were to total black earnings, and consider black Americans a separate nation, he would find that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world's 16th richest nation -- that is just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans are, and have been, chief executives of some of the world's largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, who headed the world's mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black American. Black Americans are among the world's most famous personalities and a few are among the richest. Most blacks are not poor but middle class.

On the eve of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed these gains possible in less than a mere century and a half, if ever. That progress speaks well not only of the sacrifices and intestinal fortitude of a people; it also speaks well of a nation in which these gains were possible. These gains would not have been possible anywhere else.


Britain’s strange, silent strangulation of liberty

The organiser of Freedom Summer explains why defending civil society from the state has never been more important

Every era has its own brand of state regulation; at different times, the repressive powers of the state are focused on different areas of social life. Today’s state is getting itself into some very strange corners indeed.

Twenty years ago, who would have thought that the state would seek to regulate mums helping out at their children’s nursery? Under the UK Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act – all nursery helpers must have their criminal records checked before being given the all-clear to watch over toddlers’ face-painting and Play-Doh sessions.

Who would have thought that police officers would force tourists to delete their photos of the architecturally interesting but otherwise unimportant Vauxhall bus station in London, in the name of preventing terrorism? (1) Who’d have guessed that under the Counter-Terrorism Act, it would become an offence to take pictures of police officers?

In previous times, the formidable powers of the state might have been used to crush demonstrations or dismantle threatening organisations. Now officials are focusing their fire on the pub darts contest, the local nursery, the amateur photographer, the drink in the park.

In 2009, if you are sharing a summers’ drink in the park, a police officer has the power to tip your bottle of wine down the drain, without any justification - and it is a criminal offence for you to refuse. Virtually every activity in pubs - from dancing, singalongs, music, to darts and chess – now requires a specific council licence. A Cambridge pub had to cancel a poetry reading recently, because it didn’t have a ‘spoken word licence’.

These are the areas of society that were previously the most autonomous – the places where people came together, to share a drink, or organise competitions and games - without using the language or methods of bureaucracy. Unlike the world of work, these were places where no forms were signed and no contracts made. This was civil society – a space that was neither the market nor the state – where people collaborated informally and freely with one another.

Yet it is precisely these most informal spheres that are becoming the most regulated. It is now almost the case that there are more rules and regulations in pubs than in the workplace; more in the nursery than in the bank.

These informal spheres are absolutely fundamental to social life. It is in these spaces that people form relationships that are not coerced, and not based on hostile contracting interests. These are the spaces where people work on getting things done together, in the interests and for the enjoyment of all. In civil society, things work differently – a list of volunteers is scribbled in the team book, not on a form; arrangements are made by phone or in the street, rather than by contract.

State intervention into these spheres of everyday life has happened quietly; it is not, generally, the subject of political discussion or protest. These issues are rarely discussed on the floor of the House of Commons, or even by many civil liberties organisations.

This summer, the Manifesto Club has organised Freedom Summer - to raise awareness about the hyperregulation of everyday life, and raise a shout of protest against it. On Thursday, at a pub in central London, we’re launching our campaign with a discussion among fellow libertarians, including Anthony Barnett from the Convention on Modern Liberty, Phil Booth from No2ID, and columnist Suzanne Moore. Over the next few months, events include: a salon in Huddersfield on the regulation of drinking; a sports day against vetting; a protest picnic on Brighton beach against booze bans; a cabaret against new visa controls for visiting artists and academics; and the launch of a new photo-book against ludicrous safety signs in public spaces.

It is important that Freedom Summer is a DIY political space – where people can propose their own initiatives, taking up the freedom issues that they are passionate about in their local areas. We hope this will become a festival of political experimentation, to work out together how we can make the hyperregulation of everyday life a political issue.

Summer is generally the time when police forces launch their Operation Public Drinking, Operation Public Dancing, or Operation Public Photography. Summer should also be the time when we start to organise a resistance to the hyperregulation our nurseries, pubs and parks.


End times for Christian America?

If you believe some partisan historians, it was dead before the American Revolution, or at least, nobody important was a Christian by then. The Founders had all moved on to deism. Then again, maybe Christian America died at the Scopes Trial during the 1920s when Clarence Darrow pinned down the non-theologian, non-scientist politician William Jennings Bryan with the power of hostile cross-examination. If it wasn’t dead by then, it was really dead by the late 1960s when every other religion book seemed to be about either the death of God movement or “secular” Christianity. The most memorable volume of the period was Harvey Cox’s The Secular City, which put a happy face of the death of public Christianity and heralded a new, more mature age of secular community.

Meanwhile, a host of prominent sociologists of religion sagely assured the public (and each other) that public faith simply could not co-exist with a world full of technological wonders like conveyor belts, cathode ray tubes, and time and motion studies. The great sociologist Peter Berger imagined tiny groups of believers huddled together against the coming of the 21st century.

In the years following Cox’s book, Christian America exploded back into the American consciousness. Evangelists popped up all over television (just as they had on radio earlier). The former Nixon hatchet man Chuck Colson (who once said he’d run over his own grandmother to help Richard Nixon) experienced a religious conversion and turned Born Again into a household expression with his mega-selling book. America followed Nixon by electing Jimmy Carter, an outspoken evangelical enthusiastically backed by\...wait for it...Pat Robertson! Disappointed with Carter, Christian conservatives became part of the coalition that elected Ronald Reagan to two terms in the White House.

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club began selling Christian books in huge numbers and better metrics often put religious titles at the top of the bestseller list (Prayer of Jabez, anyone?). Along the way, many sociologists of religion, like Berger and Rodney Stark, turned on the old secularization thesis and began to proclaim the theory more ideologically-loaded than truly descriptive. Cox, looking back on his once-important book, would eventually note apologetically that he had relied on what the sociologists were claiming at the time. Christian America, it seemed, was not actually dead at all. Not even close.

Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, is in line to become the new Harvey Cox. In a recent issue of the magazine, he wrote a major piece on the end of Christian America. Meacham relies on a longitudinal survey of the American public (the ARIS study) which shows a 10 percent drop in the number of self-identified Christians and a 7 percent increase in the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation to suggest religious decline. Triumphant secularists and worried Christians alike are chattering away about the decline of Christianity in America.

The meme will make for good newsprint (or maybe I should say newspixels as the papers are dying much more rapidly than Christian America ever could), but it is all severely premature. Consider the work done in 2006 by Baylor University with funding from the Templeton Foundation and fieldwork by Gallup. Their findings countered the secularization narrative and tellingly showed that even among the religiously unaffiliated, nearly two-thirds believe in God or some higher power. That study got a lot less attention, in part because it did not play into the persistent story of religious decline pushed by those anxious for it to occur.

“Christianity is important in America!” is no more a story than “dog bites man.” “The death of Christianity,” on the other hand, grabs eyeballs. Secularists are joined by many Christians who assume religious decline will precede an eschatological event in which God removes his church from the earth. Thus, they expect to hear this kind of story. The narratives of ideological secularists on one hand and end-times theorists like Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth) or Tim LaHaye (Left Behind) are not as different as one might assume.

The wise observer will be more cautious. It was less than five years ago that Garry Wills, flustered by the re-election of George W. Bush, wrote histrionically for The New York Times about “The Day the Enlightenment Went Out.” He bemoaned the power of Christianity over the American people and expressed his own disbelief that his fellow citizens endorsed the Virgin Birth more readily than Darwin’s theory. Bush’s victory, a substantial improvement over his performance in 2000, was largely credited to an unusually heavy turn-out among Catholics and Evangelicals in his favor. Does anyone really think that things have changed so much in five years?

The simple truth of the matter is that America turns on the margins. A movement gets the right politician, finds the right message, and builds a coalition that can command the levers of power. Suddenly, it seems the losers have been cast out and the winners are ascendant. But it is never as simple as that. Nor is it ever really over. Barack Obama is the president. To many, particularly to many social elites, he appears to be the avatar of secular enlightenment. But don’t tell that to the overwhelming majority of his ethnic fan base or to the young, white evangelicals his campaign actively courted. Ronald Reagan was president, too. His rise seemed to augur a new era for religion in the public square. Yet that was not the reason many libertarians and corporate interests supported him.

America is a complicated place. We are a dynamic society because we are a free society. From our birth as a republic, we have been a quasi-stable partnership of enlightenment modernism and vigorous Christian belief working together for the preservation of ordered liberty. There will be more proclamations of the death of Christian America. It is as good a story as the “war” between science and religion, which gets a makeover every time we have a slow news day.

The smart money is on Christianity to be around and relevant for as long as the American republic endures. The even smarter money says the faith will outlast the republic just as it did the empire into which it was born.



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

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

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


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Friday, May 15, 2009

Leftist British justice boss publicly mocked as police chief slams 'Hokey Cokey' justice system

Jacqui Smith was yesterday publicly mocked by police for presiding over a ‘Hokey Cokey’ justice system that ‘ let all the prisoners out’. With the Home Secretary sitting uncomfortably next to him on stage, Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever said officers are ‘sick to death’ of seeing the same criminals again and again.

At the Federation’s annual conference in Bournemouth, he added: ‘The Government has created the Hokey Cokey criminal justice system. ‘Yes, conference, it’s in out, in out, let all the prisoners out. In out, in out, shake the system about.’

Mr McKeever also said officers view her with ‘real suspicion and distrust’ after clashes over pay, pensions and workplace reform. Miss Smith was later harangued from the conference floor by rank-and-file officers about the MPs’ expenses scandal and the Government’s treatment of the Gurkhas.

During his speech, Mr McKeever described as a ‘big lie’ the belief that constant modernisation and reshaping of the police will solve crime more effectively. ‘We and the people we serve are being failed by the rest of the criminal justice system,’ he said. ‘A criminal justice system that isn’t working and is seen by many people as being there to protect offenders’ interests above the interests of law-abiding members of the public.

'Rather than addressing the real problem of ineffective sanctions, ineffective education programmes and ineffective rehabilitation, the focus is on us, the police, to detect the same people more often and bring them before the courts again and again.’

Mr McKeever said the police are left in a ‘constant state of flux’ as politicians constantly demand change. ‘In effect, in the eyes of politicians, the police are the problem that needs to be solved, when the reality is that it is the criminals who are the problem and we are the solution,’ he added.

It is the second year running Miss Smith has had a tough time at the conference. Last year former chairman Jan Berry taunted her with a pun about her lacking ‘balls’.

Both Miss Smith and Mr McKeever paid tribute to police officers who have recently been killed in the line of duty. The Federation chairman called for those who kill police to ‘rot’ in jail for the rest of their lives.

Mr McKeever criticised the delay in awarding Detective Constable Stephen Oake – who was stabbed to death in a terror raid in 2003 – the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. ‘We should never have to wait five years to recognise our colleagues who make the ultimate sacrifice keeping safe the communities we serve,’ he said.

Miss Smith also praised the ‘hard work’ of police during the G20 protests last month. But delegates denounced Independent Police Complaints Commission chairman Nick Hardwick, who publicly criticised officers before an investigation into their conduct at the G20 had finished.


Slurred by the adoption Nazis: Critics of gay parenting are branded 'retarded homophobes'

Hate speech is fine when Leftist social workers use it. The headline above is from the "Daily Mail", deliberately showing that two can play the abuse game

People who have concerns about the adoption of children by gay couples are 'retarded homophobes', the state-funded national adoption agency said yesterday. Those who protest over controversial gay adoption laws are merely 'whinging', according to the British Association for Adoption and Fostering. Its insulting description angered senior MPs and former Cabinet Ministers, Roman Catholic and Church of England leaders.

It also offended disability campaigners, who have been trying to discourage the use of the word 'retarded' for years. Whitehall has banned the word for civil servants. Many of those who are worried about gay adoption say that approving same-sex relationships goes against their Christian faith.

Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute thinktank, said last night: 'Christians are tired of being marginalised. 'We don't expect everyone to agree with us but organisations such as the BAAF should try to avoid this kind of language.' Tory MP Julian Brazier, co-chairman of the all-party Commons group on adoption and fostering, said: 'I work with BAAF all the time and I know how much they bring to adoption. 'I must say I am very sad that they should use this language about people who have an honest disagreement with them.'

Author Patricia Morgan, who has published a study of gay adoption, said: 'It is disgraceful that they do not wish to discuss the pros and cons of gay adoption. They just go in for abuse. They do not appear interested in evidence about the outcomes for children. And it is a disgusting phrase to use.'

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering sets rules and organises training for social workers across the country. Every local council with a children's services department is a paying member of the organisation, and the bulk of its £6million-a-year budget comes from the taxpayer. It runs the national adoption register for the Department of Children, Schools and Families. The 'retarded homophobe' attack was published in a BAAF guide to adoption for homosexual couples. It was repeated in its newspaper Be My Parent, which advertises children who need homes.

Would-be gay adopters were told: 'Most importantly, don't worry about society. 'Children need good parents much more than retarded homophobes need an excuse to whinge, so don't let your worries about society's reaction hinder your desire and ability to give a child a loving caring home.'

BAAF's Pink Guide to Adoption for Lesbians and Gay Men was written by Nicola Hill, a former Guardian journalist and charity worker. It was launched at a BAAF conference this week aimed at 'overcoming resistance - celebrating the role of lesbian and gay carers'. The meeting discussed 'what lesbian and gay carers can offer to the adoption and fostering process and how agencies can facilitate their contribution'. Those attending were also told that 'we will confront the challenges that such initiatives may provoke to established attitudes and assumptions'.

The BAAF's protective attitude to gay couples appears to differ from the way it deals with other people. The organisation strongly supports the legal requirement that the perceived interests of children are paramount and the wishes of would-be parents are of minor importance. It insists that children go to homes only of adoptive parents of the same race. It questions would-be adoptive couples about their views on race and says ' vigorous efforts are made to find a family that reflects the child's individual identity'.

Couples who wish to adopt are often rejected because social workers consider them too old or overweight, or because they smoke. Some have even been judged to be 'too middle class'.

Until Tony Blair's 2002 Adoption Act, children could be adopted only by married couples or single people. The new law made it possible for unmarried and gay couples to adopt. Mr Blair argued that the reform would increase the proportion of the 60,000 children in state care who win new families through adoption. But the numbers have actually fallen. Since 2004, adoptions from care have dropped from 3,800 a year to 3,200.

The great majority of those are white children. Black children are missing out because there is a shortage of black couples wishing to adopt, yet social workers oppose sending them to non-black families.

There were just 30 adoptions by gay couples and 50 by lesbian couples last year. There have been setbacks to the cause of gay parenting. In 2006, gay foster parents Craig Faunch and Ian Wathey were jailed for paedophile offences against boys at their home in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. The couple had been the first gay foster parents in Yorkshire. An inquiry found social workers had regarded them as 'trophy carers' and failed to respond to signs of abuse because they feared being accused of discrimination.

Gay adoption provoked a major political row in 2007 when Labour's Sexual Orientation Regulations made it unlawful for adoption agencies to refuse to help gay prospective parents. Opponents of the move included Cabinet Minister Ruth Kelly, the senior Roman Catholic leaders in England and former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

Earlier this year there was a fierce controversy when a Scottish couple said they were warned they would never see their two grandchildren again unless they dropped their opposition to them being adopted by a gay couple. For two years, they fought for their rights to care for the little boy and girl whose 26-year-old mother, the couple's daughter, is a recovering heroin addict. They finally agreed to an adoption but were shocked to be told the children were going to a gay household. When the grandfather protested, he said he was told: 'You can either accept it, and there's a chance you'll see them twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again.'

The word 'retarded' has been considered unacceptable for some years. Advice on 'disability etiquette' distributed to civil servants says it must be avoided in all circumstances. A spokesman for the British Institute for Learning Disabilities said: 'We have not used the term for at least ten years. It is not acceptable to us.' Comedian Russell Brand was strongly criticised in the U.S. last year for calling George Bush a 'retarded cowboy'.


Jim Crow liberalism

Having lost both houses of Congress and the White House in two straight elections, Republicans are going through an identity crisis, its leaders holding town hall meetings to "listen" to the people. "What should we focus on? Should we drop the social issues? How do we get the young people back?" Such angst and soul-searching is not the mark of the leader, but the mark of a man suffering from doubt and despair.

Why is the party in trouble? Simple. Dubya got a hold of the keys, got high on neocon hooch, and crashed and rolled the family SUV. He launched an unnecessary war against a country that had not attacked us. With his utopian No Child Left Behind scheme and his Medicare drug plan, he did his passable imitation of LBJ, and blew a hole in the budget.

Touting globalism, he presided over the loss of one in every four U.S. manufacturing jobs and ran up $5 trillion in trade deficits. He refused to defend the Mexican border against an invasion, then pushed an amnesty for the invaders. This was no Reaganite. This was the neocons' apprentice.

How does the party reconnect with Middle America? How does it win back the Reagan Democrats who went home disgusted?

Become again the party of Frank Ricci. And who is Frank Ricci? He is a fireman in New Haven, Conn., with 11 years in the department, who suffers from dyslexia, but nonetheless has pursued his dream of becoming a lieutenant and a captain. Six months before the promotion test, Ricci quit his second job. He bought $1,000 worth of the textbooks he was told to study, had a friend read them onto tapes to compensate for his dyslexia, studied every spare hour he got, and sat for the test, to compete for one of eight lieutenant slots open. Frank made it. Frank Ricci came in sixth.

It was after the results of the test were made known that the problems arose. For, of the officers who had made the cut, all were white, except for one Latino. Concluding the test results would, if used by the department, have an "adverse impact" on the black community, New Haven tossed out the results and called for new exams to ensure a "fair" outcome. Thus, because he is a white man whose people came from Italy, Frank Ricci is to be denied a promotion he worked for and won, and be robbed of his American dream by the liberal bigots who run New Haven. Had Frank Ricci and half of the other top performers been black, all would be on their way to becoming lieutenants and captains.

What is being done to Frank Ricci is exactly what was done to black folks for decades. Great black ballplayers who might have become legends like DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig never got the chance because they were black. Black students were denied admission to prep schools, colleges and military academies because of their color. Now, what was done to them is being done to white folks. And it is just as wrong as it was then.

In 21st century America, race discrimination endures. All we have done is switch the color of the victims with the color of the beneficiaries. Today it is white males applying for jobs and promotions as cops, firemen, government workers, who are held back because their color does not comport with the desired "diversity."

What New Haven has done to Frank Ricci is like the U.S. Olympic Committee throwing out all the trial heat results in the 100- and 200-meter races because not a single white runner qualified. New Haven contends the "disparate impact" of the test hurts the black community, proving discrimination. But does the relative absence of blacks in the National Hockey League prove discrimination?

If the Republican Party wants a future, it will become again the party that stands on the principle that "No discrimination means no discrimination," that stands with the victims of state bigotry, and that stands up to hypocrites like the Jim Crow liberals of New Haven.

Affirmative action began as a mandate to cast a wider net and ensure all had an equal shot. It has become a mighty engine of state injustice that seeks to remedy the consequences of past racial sins and crimes, by committing new ones. In Michigan, Washington and California, none of them red states, majorities have voted to abolish affirmative action. Only Colorado failed in a dead heat last fall. A Republican drive to write into federal law an end to all race and gender preferences, as well as to all race and gender discrimination, is a cause whose time has come.

This is a winning issue for the GOP, for it is rooted in principle and comports with what is written on the human heart. Down deep, even liberals know that what is being done to Frank Ricci is not right.


More black racism

Think of how a white person would be condemned if he advocated avoiding black businesses

It's been two months since 2-year-old Cori pulled the gold stud from her left earlobe, and the piercing is threatening to close as her mother, Maggie Anderson, hunts for a replacement. It's not that the earring was all that rare—but finding the right store has become a quest of Quixotic proportions.

Maggie and John Anderson of Chicago vowed four months ago that for one year, they would try to patronize only black-owned businesses. The "Empowerment Experiment" is the reason John had to suffer for hours with a stomach ache and Maggie no longer gets that brand-name lather when she washes her hair. A grocery trip is a 14-mile odyssey.

"We kind of enjoy the sacrifice because we get to make the point ... but I am going without stuff and I am frustrated on a daily basis," Maggie Anderson said. "It's like, my people have been here 400 years and we don't even have a Walgreens to show for it."

So far, the Andersons have spent hundreds of dollars with black businesses from grocery stores to dry cleaners. But the couple still hasn't found a mortgage lender, home security system vendor or toy store. Nonetheless, they're hoping to expand the endeavor beyond their Chicago home. Plans are under way to track spending among supporters nationwide and build a national database of quality black businesses. The first affiliate chapter has been launched in Atlanta, and the couple has established a foundation to raise funds for black businesses and an annual convention.

"We have the real power to do something, to use the money we spend every day to solve our problems," Maggie Anderson said recently at a meet-and-greet in Atlanta. "We have to believe that black businesses are just as good as everybody else's." Now, the Andersons are following up with 4,000 people who signed up for the experiment on their Web site to gauge their commitment and set up online accounts to track their spending. Hundreds have also joined the experiment's Facebook page, Maggie Anderson said.

Gregory Price, chairman of the economics department at Morehouse College, said black visionaries like Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey made similar calls to action. "The idea is a sound one, given that black Americans are still underrepresented in the ranks of the self-employed and that entrepreneurship is a key component to wealth," Price said.

There are one million black businesses in the United States accounting for more than $100 billion in annual sales, according to the National Black Chamber of Commerce. The latest U.S. Census numbers report that blacks have more than $800 billion in expendable income each year.

The Andersons track their spending on their Web site and estimate about 55 percent of their monthly spending is with black businesses for things like day care, groceries, car maintenance and home improvements.

One of the businesses highlighted by the Empowerment Experiment is Brenda Brown's Atlanta wine boutique, a shop with a growing black clientele. She said the project can help overcome the problems many black consumers lament. "When we were a community of black folks who could not go to the white stores, our community of black stores flourished," Brown said. "When we were given the opportunity to go into the white store, it was like nothing else mattered anymore and we wanted to go to the white store, regardless of what the black store provided. We could have the same or better products if we supported (black businesses) in the same way."

Lewis Peeples, 45, lives in a black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta but didn't think to spend his money with black businesses until a friend told him about the project. "So often, we make purchases and decisions and aren't even mindful that there is a a need to support our own businesses," said Peeples. "Now, I'm reaching out and making sure I know that I have an option when I look to make a purchase." Two months ago, he committed to patronizing black businesses and found a black dry cleaner 10 minutes from home. Even when he was dissatisfied with his black doctor, he was able to find a new one. He suggests both to friends and refers others to the experiment's Web site, where he tracks his expenses.

Dallas Smith, who owns a commercial real estate firm in Atlanta, said mainstream retailers have undervalued black consumers. He lives in a black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta, where he tries to dine at black restaurants. He lamented the lack of quality businesses catering to black customers and said blacks should appreciate such businesses more. "We've still got that 'the white man's water is colder' mentality," he said. "We can't take us for granted. When we go to our establishments, it's almost like we're doing a favor. That ought to be a given for us."

The Andersons remain encouraged by their momentum online and in the media. At the end of 2009, they hope to show $1 million in spending with black businesses among supporters across the country. "The response has been so huge," Maggie Anderson said. "We think so much can come out of this. We're in movement-making mode now."

Price, the Morehouse professor, said defining the project's success won't be easy, since the real barriers to black advancement are poor access to capital and lack of training opportunities. "It would be nice to see some real, hard data," Price said. "Otherwise, it could just be an episode of ethnic cheerleading."



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

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

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


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Amid all the bitchiness, hysteria and hate, The Donald does the right thing

Good to see a real man in charge

MISS California, embroiled in a national row over gay marriage during last months' Miss USA pageant, was told she can keep her state crown despite the release of semi-naked photos. Real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe organisation, announced at a press conference in New York's Trump Tower that Carrie Prejean "will remain Miss California".

Prejean, 21, risked losing her crown after pictures of her wearing little more than skimpy bottoms appeared on the internet, despite having stated that she had never posed nude or semi-nude.

Trump said the photos did not violate her contract as Miss California. "We have determined that the pictures taken are fine," he said. "Some were very beautiful, some were risque, but, again, we're in the 21st century.... In many cases they were actually lovely pictures."

In a tearful statement broadcast live on MSNBC television, Prejean attacked the leak of the pictures dating to the start of her modelling career at 17, saying she was being victimised for her opposition to gay marriage.

Prejean said there had been "hateful attacks, despicable rumours and false allegations" ever since she responded to a judge's question at the Miss USA contest, where she was runner-up, that she only backed marriage between men and women. "I am not an activist or anything. Nor do I have a personal agenda. I was thrown into this firestorm from the time I was asked this question on stage," she said.

Prejean denied working for traditional marriage lobby groups. However, she has become a highly visible, if unofficial, champion of the cause at a time of growing national debate. Supporters claim that she lost the Miss USA crown only because of her stand.

California is locked in controversy on the issue, with voters in November backing a constitutional change to overturn a state supreme court ruling that had legalised gay marriage. New York's state legislature was to debate a possible law allowing same-sex weddings today.


Opposition to homosexual clergy in the Church of Scotland

Will we see another "Disruption" (schism) akin to that of 1843? It sounds a lot like it. The reunification of the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland is relatively recent in ecclesiastical terms (1929) so could perhaps be reversed. The "Wee Frees" would have the majority of the congregations this time, though

The Church of Scotland is moving towards a schism after one of its ministers compared an increasingly determined campaign against gay clergymen to the war against the Nazis. The Rev Ian Watson railed against homosexual lifestyles, declaring that such people would not “inherit the kingdom of God” in a sermon that religious leaders and politicians condemned as deeply disturbing.

Mr Watson is a prominent opponent of Scott Rennie, an openly gay minister whose appointment to a parish church last year has caused divisions. Mr Rennie, a divorced father of one, lives with his partner, David, and has the support of his Aberdeen Presbytery. The Church of Scotland is due to debate his appointment at its General Assembly next week after a petition was signed by almost a third of ministers pushing for all gays to be banned from the pulpit.

A motion has been lodged urging the Church not to “train, ordain, admit, readmit, induct or introduce to any ministry of the church anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and woman”.

The row replicates the dispute within the Anglican Church about the ordination of gays. Anglican conservatives base their opposition to gay people on Bible texts that condemn homosexuality, although liberal members argue that many traditional teachings in the Bible, such as severe punishments for adultery, were no longer observed literally.

The strident position taken by Mr Watson’s Forward Together organisation has provoked both condemnation and support from Scotland’s religious community. The Rev Kenneth MacKenzie, the minister at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral, which is attended by the Queen, said that he was disappointed that Mr Rennie’s sexuality had become an issue but warned that a schism would occur if his appointment was confirmed. “Life in the Church will never be the same again and my fear is that a sizeable minority of the clergy, and perhaps a majority of its people, may consider leaving the church, causing a rift felt in every parish.”

Mr Watson posted on his blog last night a sermon he delivered on Sunday at Kirkmuirhill Church in Lanark, in which he invoked the failure of the French Army to stand up to the Nazi annexation of the Rhineland in 1938. “[Hitler] guessed correctly that the French had no stomach for a fight. If only they had, then the tragedy of a Second World War might have been avoided,” Mr Watson said.

In the following 3,500 words, he invoked Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, St Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and the Apostle Paul as he reached his rousing climax. “To claim that the homosexual lifestyle is worthy of a child of God; to demand that a same-sex partnership be recognised as on a footing with marriage; to commend such a lifestyle to others is to deny that Jesus Christ is our only Sovereign and Lord. It is to turn the grace of God into a licence for immorality,” he said. “Such people will not inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor.6:10). And therefore they must be resisted . . . Let me assure you, neither I nor like-minded minsters enjoy conflict . . . But have we learned nothing from history? Remember Hitler and the retaking of the Rhineland. He got away with it. No one stopped him. So next it was Austria, then Czechoslovakia, and then Poland and only then world war.”

The sermon was greeted with outrage and disbelief by people inside and outside the Church of Scotland. Some observers questioned whether Mr Watson had infringed legislation on sexual equality. The Rev Peter Macdonald, the leader elect of the Iona Community and minister of St George’s West, Edinburgh, said that he had found it deeply disturbing.

The Rev Lindsay Biddle, chaplain of Affirmation Scotland, a pro-gay group, said: “If you don’t like homosexuals, then get on with it — but don’t use the Bible to justify opinions.” [Thus speaks a non-Christian]

Mr Watson defiantly defended his sermon last night. “There is no doubt that there is a conflict,” he said. “I was trying to explain why I am engaged in this. People say to me, ‘This is not a hill to die on’, but I think it is a fight worth fighting. “Evangelicals seek to defend the historic and orthodox Christian faith. If we don’t what are we? I am a man of convictions.”


The Democrats' Dictionary

Doublespeak is alive as Democrats pull the strings in the White House and Congress 24 years after 1984. What do they mean when they engage in Democrat-speak? I know I'm not worthy, but I've got an assignment, so I shall borrow a page from Ambrose Bierce, not with a Devil's Dictionary, but a Democrats' Dictionary. The easy part: There's no dif.

Academic freedom: Full license to espouse liberal thought to unformed minds.

Bailout: Billions upon billions -- trillions really -- of government aid doled out to financial institutions to remind voters of the need for strong regulation.

Biden, Joe: Running-at-the-mouth politician, but, hey, he was elected vice president.

Bipartisanship: 40 Republicans and 60 Democrats.

Bush, George W.: Big-spending, war-waging Republican.

Cheney, Dick: Satan.

Clean coal: What Santa Claus puts in Democrats' stockings so they don't have to admit that their global-warming agenda is anti-coal.

Climate change: Global warming during a blizzard.

CNN. Unbiased news network whose reporters battle "right-wing" media.

Deficits: Overspending before 2009, or spending practices that President Obama inherited. For current usage, see: Investment.

Extremists: Abortion opponents.

Fox News: Unlike CNN, biased news network.

Global warming: An apocalyptic theory that every scientist believes in -- except dissenting scientists who don't count -- best bemoaned from one's Gulf Stream jet en route to an international conference on the environment.

God: What people in small towns clung to before Obama won the White House. See: guns, anti-immigrant or anti-trade beliefs.

Health care costs: A spiraling chunk of the U.S. economy that can be reduced by providing health care to all Americans. Really.

Homeland security: Gun control.

Iraq: An immoral war, once the focus of numerous anti-war demonstrations, which Democratic leaders vowed to end immediately upon winning the White House -- until Obama won the 2008 election.

Liberal: The L-word, a term unfairly hurled by name-calling right-wing kooks.

Lieberman, Joe: Former Democrat turned Independent senator from Connecticut. Sellout.

McCain, John: Former GOP maverick who -- the nerve -- turned out to actually be a Republican.

Middle class: Families that earn less than $250,000 -- until Washington decides it might be a good idea to pay for all the new Obama-era programs.

Nuance: Homeland Security Janet Napolitano's decision to refer to terrorist attacks as "man-caused disasters." Formerly known as Doublespeak.

Obama, Barack. God, at least in Detroit.

Oil: A crude substance used to fuel other people's cars.

One hundred days. The first in a series of holy days during which dutiful media preside over national thanksgiving.

Palin, Sarah. White-trashy grandmother utterly unqualified and too dim-witted to be vice president.

Pandemic: CNN-speak for flu.

Pelosi, Nancy. Grandmotherly House speaker who could not be expected to understand that when Bushies authorized waterboarding of high-value detainees, it actually might happen.

Progressive: Liberal.

Public transportation: What other people should take to work.

Regulation: The threat of a salary cap for executives with firms receiving federal funds.

Republican Party: The party of the rich -- if the California inland empire and Central Valley are rich, and Beverly Hills, Marin County and Malibu are not.

Sacrifice: Something Bush never asked for during time of war. Now a tax hike for 95 percent of working families while U.S. troops fight in two wars abroad.

Specter, Arlen: Republican turned Democratic senator from Pennsylvania. Free thinker.

Stimulus: A rush in the nether regions at the prospect of spending trillions of dollars you don't have. Not to be confused with: Banking.

Surge: A tactic involving troop increases that could never work in Iraq, but always made sense for Afghanistan.

Tobacco: Toxic substance that should be overtaxed or banned -- unless it is marijuana. Then see: Medicine.

Tolerance: An essential element to civil societies; individuals deemed insufficiently tolerant must be re-educated.

War on terror: The fairness doctrine, the only weapon that can harm America's true enemy, Rush Limbaugh.

Waterboarding: Torture -- unless a plane piloted by terrorists hits a reservoir.


The ever-widening gap between the BBC and those it purports to serve

The BBC’s director-general Mark Thompson has said that religious broadcasting gives rise to more controversy in his job than any other subject. I am afraid he hasn’t seen anything yet. On Monday, the Corporation announced that it has appointed a Muslim as head of religious broadcasting. This is not a joke, I can assure you. The person responsible for overseeing the BBC’s — so far — largely Christian output will be Aaqil Ahmed, a practising Muslim.

Let me say at once that I have nothing whatsoever against Mr Ahmed, who is, I am sure, an excellent broadcaster who may have much to contribute to the coverage of religion. Some say that he has done a good job producing religious programmes in his present job at Channel 4, though he has been accused of intellectual shallowness, and last year some Roman Catholic priests alleged he had commissioned documentaries that appeared to contain a pro-Islam bias.

Nor do I doubt that Britain’s three million Muslims have every right to expect the BBC to provide some religious broadcasting directly aimed at them. They pay their licence fee like everyone else, and their views should be properly and proportionately reflected in the Corporation’s programming.

That said, they still constitute a small (though doubtless devout) minority of this country’s population of 60 million. Some 70 per cent of adult Britons describe themselves as Christian, though a far smaller proportion regularly attend church. Culturally, this still remains a Christian country with a national Church, the Church of England, whose supreme head is Her Majesty the Queen.

I realise there are also millions of atheists, Muslims and Hindus, and a smaller number of Sikhs and Jews, who may not embrace Christian religious broadcasting. But I suspect that most of them are happy to put up with it, partly because they respect this country’s Christian traditions, and partly because, in any case, the BBC is producing fewer and fewer specifically Christian programmes.

My quarrel is not so much with Mr Ahmed as with the BBC. Despite being required under its charter to provide religious programming, and despite being funded by licence-payers who overwhelmingly describe themselves as Christian, the Corporation has been increasingly pursuing what can only be, at best, described as a non-Christian agenda and, at worst, as an anti-Christian one.

Do I exaggerate? I don’t believe so. Religious programming on the BBC has dwindled over the past ten years, and what remains is usually anodyne — calculated not to offend non-Christians, and therefore likely to provide very little inspiration to those who have Christian leanings. Songs Of Praise, for example, has become little more than a jolly sing-a-long with very little Christian input. A few years ago the BBC’s own governors criticised the Corporation for ‘earlier and irregular scheduling’ of this once popular programme. In others words, the BBC was attempting to marginalise it, and to a large degree it has succeeded. In a bizarre move which prefigured the appointment of Mr Ahmed, the Corporation last year made Tommy Nagra, a Sikh, the producer of Songs Of Praise. So we have a non-Christian in charge of a programme which, not at all surprisingly in the circumstances, has less and less Christian content.

Christians at the BBC appear to be surplus to requirements. During the past year, four out of seven executives in its already diminished religion department have been made redundant. These included Michael Wakelin, a Methodist preacher, who was removed as head of religious programmes to clear the way for Aaqil Ahmed. I imagine that having a Methodist preacher at the heart of the BBC was more than it could stomach.

What the Corporation does at home, it does even more blatantly abroad. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, recently complained to Mark Thompson at a private lunch that the BBC World Service has reduced its English-language religious coverage from one hour 45 minutes a week in 2001 to a mere half an hour a week in 2009. Half an hour! This is a highly significant reduction. For in the Third World, and particularly in Africa, there are hundreds of millions of Christians who probably yearn for more religious programmes on the BBC, and yet the grim, secular-minded commissars who oversee these matters have chosen to cut them back. The BBC does not like God, unless perhaps it be a Muslim, Hindu or Sikh version.

At every possible opportunity it will wheel forward one of those professional atheists who are not happy to live silently with their own non-belief but are determined to shove it down everyone else’s throats. I am thinking particularly of the biologist Richard Dawkins, the novelist Philip Pullman and the philosopher A. C. Grayling. Can you think of a Christian biologist, novelist or philosopher who is afforded one-tenth of the airtime of these militant, omnipresent non-believers?

The odd thing is that we live in an age of growing religious conviction. Even in this country there is a small resurgence of Christianity, largely outside the mainstream churches. But the BBC is travelling fast in the opposite direction. The new intellectual orthodoxy, among the narrow group of people who control it, is profoundly anti-Christian.

Yet the Roman Catholic Mark Thompson is probably the most devoutly Christian director-general since John Reith, the first man to have the job and who, as a flinty Presbyterian, must now be spinning in his grave. Alas, in marked distinction to the militant atheists I have mentioned, Mr Thompson will not stand up for his beliefs.

Being, I trust, fairly realistic, I do not expect him to push back the encroaching secular tide that has taken over so many of the Corporation’s religious programmes. But one might reasonably hope that he would at least hold the line. That line is in keeping with the BBC’s obligations under its charter, and with the predilections of the Christian majority of this country. Mr Thompson will not defend it. To judge by Mr Ahmed’s appointment, he did not heed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s concerns at their recent lunch that the BBC is ignoring its Christian audience.

However, the director-general does not mind intervening when he sees fit. Last year he suggested that Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media because it is a minority religion in this country.

For all I know, Mr Ahmed may prove himself remarkably sympathetic to the sensibilities of Christians in his new job. One cannot, however, count on that, and it is interesting that he has said there should be more coverage of Muslim matters in the media. Will this, on the BBC, be at the expense of an already reduced number of Christian programmes?

In all kinds of ways the publicly funded BBC does not reflect the views of the public it is supposed to serve. No doubt its secular suits assume that Britain is as anti-Christian as they are. They’re out of touch again. In appointing Aaqil Ahmed they do not simply offend against this country’s Christian heritage and traditions. They also further weaken the hold and authority of the BBC.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brixton: the depressing symbol of Britain's multicultural failure

By Sathnam Sanghera

The other day I went to the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton and, waiting for a friend to turn up, killed time reading a South London newspaper, which featured a piece about activists marking the tenth anniversary of the Brixton nail bomb and their campaign to stop the BNP winning seats in the European election next month. It contained the following quote from Roger Lewis, of the Lambeth branch of the trade union Unison, who lives in Brixton and heard the 1999 bomb, planted by the far-right fanatic David Copeland, explode: “The BNP are bully boys, trying to affront all minorities, and want to break up all communities. But we weren't divided ten years ago and we won't be divided now.”

As a former resident of Brixton, who covered the aftermath of the explosion as a junior reporter, there was a time I would have seconded Lewis's comments about the indomitable nature of Brixton's community spirit. I drifted into the area after college, but grew to love its edginess and Benetton-advert racial diversity so much that I ended up staying eight years. It seemed life-affirming that so many people from so many different classes, professions and races could live together in a place that was for decades a byword for violent racial distress.

But I realise now I was confusing coexistence with integration. Looking back, not only were my eight years there marked by a retrospectively bewildering number of terrifying incidents, such as the two times I was mugged on my doorstep, the one time a potential flatmate was mugged on the way to inspect my flat, the several times police officers suggested I move out (“If you saw what I see, you'd get out”), the one time I went to throw away rubbish and discovered a vagrant copulating with a local prostitute in the refuse area, the bombing, the mini-riot, the numerous anti-terrorism raids, the stabbings, kneecappings and murders, but also a complete failure to make friends with any local residents. Far from being a symbol of multicultural success, Brixton is an illustration of the opposite: that if you stick lots of people from different backgrounds in one place, they will have nothing to do with one another. Go there on a Saturday and you'll find white people shopping at Tesco for groceries while black people get what they need from the market; black kids hanging out in McDonald's while white kids queue up outside the Academy; with other drinking, eating and dancing venues dividing along racial lines, too.

The last flat I lived in, for instance, was in a part of Lambeth that I described to friends as “Brixton” if I wanted to be precise and impress them with my ethnic credentials, “North Clapham” if I wanted to reassure them with my suburbanism, or “Stockwell” if I wanted to alert them to the most convenient Tube station, there was a pub at one end of the street in which I didn't once see a black person, right opposite an Ethiopian restaurant in which I didn't once see a white person. Being of an intermediate shade, I felt unwelcome in both and spent most of my time in the pub at the other end of the street, which was frequented almost entirely by young professionals.

This kind of social segmentation in London isn't a new development. In 2001, researchers at the University of East London found that, several decades after professionals started moving into London areas such as Hackney, Battersea and Islington, they still tended to socialise with each other. And Brixton was one of the London areas singled out by the research as being popular with the middle classes who claim to be fans of ethnic diversity but mingle only minimally. But the problem is getting worse the more gentrified and “regenerated” Brixton becomes.

Indeed, many of the “regeneration” projects in the area have essentially been exercises in racial cleansing, with previously black areas and establishments being turned white. The former Atlantic, which used to be a black pub, a gathering place for first-generation Jamaicans and younger Brixtonians, was closed down more than a decade ago as part of an attempt to transform the image of the area, and reopened as The Dogstar, now one of several smart venues frequented mainly by white kids.

Near my old flat, when it came for a black nightclub, the J-Bar, to have its licence renewed, the residents living in my block successfully objected. Then there's the Ritzy cinema - possibly the best in London, rebuilt as part of a £4.5 million regeneration project but, despite being one of the main buildings in the spiritual homeland of Britain's black community, the typical customer is about as black as your average member of the Women's Institute.

Does this matter? Not a huge amount. Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was right when he recently remarked that Britain is “the best place in Europe to live if you are not white”. But it's depressing that groups in Britain's most diverse city still avoid one another and annoying that so many politicians and liberal journalists, among whom I must count myself, hold Brixton up as an illustration of multicultural success when it is no such thing.

I ended up getting a taxi back to North London the other night - in itself a newsworthy event as research published last year revealed Brixton is the worst place in London to hail one (it takes an average of ten minutes for a black cab to go by, compared with five minutes in the City and West End) and ended up in a conversation with the cabbie on the subject. It was interesting that when I originally moved to Brixton drivers would normally remark something along the lines of “bit rough, isn't it?” and I would respond with “it's up and coming, actually”, but this time the driver remarked “it's up and coming, isn't it?” and for the first time I couldn't bring myself to agree.


Israel and antisemitism

Israel's role as the Jewish homeland, when Jewish civilisation was nearly wiped out by the Holocaust, gives it a special place in the estimation of those who love and admire Jewish culture. It is an inherent part of Israel's purpose and identity, which is little remarked in mainstream media because there is an understandable focus on covering the occupied Palestinian territories rather than the life inside Israel.

But it is the central reality for those motivated by anti-Semitism. And the evidence is strong that anti-Semitism is once more a growing force in the world. Anti-Semitism has a long, shameful and astoundingly resilient history in Western civilisation. You can make a case that Western anti-Semitism predates Christianity because of Jewish resistance to ancient Rome. In a sense, the world owes monotheism to the Jews.

But classical Western anti-Semitism begins with the view of the Jews as the people who rejected Jesus, and indeed were responsible for his death, thus being guilty of deicide.

This Christian hostility to Jews was not present among the first Christians but took some centuries to develop fully. Many of the finest Christian thinkers struggled to work out their religion's relationship to the Jews. Were the Jews at best the chosen people who rejected Christ? Were the Jews no longer the chosen people, with that mantle transferring to Christians who accepted Christ's incarnation as the messiah? The greatest of the early church fathers, St Augustine, in the fourth century titled one of his last works Sermons Against the Jews.

Through the Crusaders to the Spanish Inquisition and beyond, the persecution of Jews, to varying degrees of intensity, was a factor of Western life, culminating in Hitler's Final Solution. It was not until the Second Vatican Council that the Catholic Church issued its definitive instruction: "True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf John 19.6); still, what happened in his passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the holy scriptures."

That was a welcome statement by Vatican II but a culture cannot easily eradicate something as ingrained as Western anti-Semitism, even after the horror of the Holocaust and the clarity of modern church teaching.

What can be surprising to the modern consciousness is how pervasive anti-Semitism was in Western culture, and not very long ago. Recently I spent a summer holiday self-indulgently reading Victorian literature. I made my first direct acquaintance with the works of Charles Dickens. Consider this description of Fagin from Oliver Twist:

Standing over them, with a toasting-fork in his hand, was a very old, shrivelled Jew, whose villainous-looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair.

Dickens was a writer of genius and a man of prodigious moral and political imagination. Yet throughout Oliver Twist Fagin is almost always referred to as "the Jew" and presented as the embodiment of moral depravity and manipulation, whose only interest is money and whose chief activity is the corruption of the young.

I also read Maise Ward's biography of G.K. Chesterton, who straddled Victorian and later periods in English letters. Ward's biography is the only serious study of Chesterton to be written before the Holocaust. She airily admits and dismisses Chesterton's relatively mild anti-Semitism, unlike later sympathetic biographers who hide it or explain it away. Chesterton was a man suffused with decency and gentleness, and the greatest English proponent of the Catholic vision, yet he was also a kind of mildly anti-Semitic Zionist who believed Jews could not live well in a Christian kingdom such as England and therefore should all go and live in Palestine.

What has this to do with today?

Apart from the deicide charge, the most powerful elements of classical Western anti-Semitism were the contentions that Jews wielded vast and malign "money power", manipulated politics for their own benefit, corrupted, generally in some sexual way, the morals of Western societies, were disloyal to the nations they lived in and, later, were behind the rise of international communism.

This resulted in an operational double standard towards Jews. Any crime, and many harmless actions, by an individual Jew tended to be seen as part of a Jewish conspiracy. And Jews were held to standards no one else was held to.

There are clear echoes of this in modern attitudes to Israel. In 1975 the UN passed an infamous resolution equating Zionism with racism. More than 15 years later this was rescinded. Now, Israel is frequently called an apartheid state. The foundational basis of Israel is argued to be illegitimate.

But this, surely, is remarkable. Nobody declares Saudi Arabia an illegitimate state because it has no democracy or human rights, and its doctrinaire Wahhabi Sunni establishment rules over a marginalised Shia minority. Nobody declares Turkey an illegitimate state because it has a disgruntled Kurdish minority, some of whom certainly aspire to statehood. Even North Korea, the most extreme Stalinist gulag on earth, is constantly reassured that the West accepts not only the legitimacy of its state, but does not even seek regime change. Only the legitimacy of Israel is routinely questioned: a special standard for the Jewish state.

Similarly, a malign Zionist or Jewish influence in the media is frequently asserted, even though the Western media is full of criticism of Israel.

Increasingly, anti-Israel demonstrations in the West include direct references to Jews as well as to the state of Israel. Even in a peaceful society such as Australia, the Jewish community routinely has to take security precautions at religious, educational and social functions that no other religious community has to. In Jewish suburbs in London, the graffiti could not be more direct: "Kill the Jews". British novelist Howard Jacobson has written of how he now feels uncomfortable as a Jew in Britain. He has written of "the slow seepage of familiar, anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation".

Every American Jew who supported the US intervention in Iraq was suspected, without evidence, of doing so because of consideration for Israel, thus reviving the old canard that Jews cannot be loyal citizens of the states they live in because of their over-arching loyalty to Israel.

Even where hostility is directed specifically at Israel rather than at Jews, when this hostility is extreme and beyond reason, it affects the social atmosphere for Jews. As Jacobson comments, there is "a deranged revulsion, intemperate and unconcealed, which nothing Israel itself has done could justify or explain were it 10 times the barbaric apartheid state it figures as in the English imagination".

However, even as classical anti-Semitism has had to make its reappearance in the West in mostly disguised form, it is raging without any disguise at all across the Arab world. The examples are limitless but let me offer just a few. The government-aligned Al-Gomhuria newspaper in Egypt published a cartoon of a serpent strangling Uncle Sam. The caption read: "The Jews taking over the world".

An Egyptian cleric, Ahmad Abd al-Salam, on Al-Nas TV, said: "I want you to imagine the Jews sitting around a table, conspiring how to corrupt the Muslims ... The Jews conspire how to infect the food of Muslims with cancer."

Also on Al-Nas TV, another Egyptian cleric, Safwat Higazi, revealed the wholly fictitious scoop that the female figure in the Starbucks logo was really Queen Esther of the Jews.

Throughout the Arab world, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious tzarist forgery, figure in popular culture. The Iranian Government, famously, sponsors conferences in which the sole purpose is to deny that the Holocaust took place.

Throughout Gaza and the West Bank an extravagant anti-Semitism is a central part of the Palestinian discourse. Anyone who doubts this should Google the Hamas charter, where they will learn that even Rotary and Lions clubs are part of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

One of the most telling examples of this Arab anti-Semitism is provided in Martin Indyk's brilliant new book, Innocent Abroad (Simon & Schuster, 494pp, $49.95 hardback). Although focused predominantly on the '90s Middle East peace process, when Bill Clinton was US president and Indyk one of his senior advisers, it is one of the best recent books on the modern Middle East, with a compelling narrative, shrewd insider accounts, engaging personal insights and a sense of the broad sweep of history.

But for the purposes of this analysis, a meeting Indyk describes in 1998 between Clinton and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is most instructive. This was at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Indyk writes:

Abdullah leaned across the table and explained to Clinton in a hushed voice that he had information that Monica Lewinsky was Jewish and part of a Mossad plot to bring the president down because of his efforts to help the Palestinians. He told the president that he intended to share this intelligence with senators he would meet after lunch in an effort to help forestall his impeachment.

This anecdote echoes one of a generation earlier told in Henry Kissinger's memoir, in which Kissinger holds a formal meeting with a Saudi ruler who tells him the world is beset by a global communist conspiracy, which is a mere part of the broader global Jewish conspiracy.

The Indyk and Kissinger anecdotes, each astonishing in its way, confirm the pervasiveness of Arab anti-Semitism and that it is not wholly a construct of Arab regimes for internal political purposes but is to some extent genuinely believed in Arab societies.

Nonetheless it would be wrong to underestimate the benefits that anti-Semitism can provide Arab regimes. Israel is the licensed grievance for these societies. By theologising the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and presenting it as a case of Western and specifically Jewish persecution of an Arab minority, Arab regimes, even those allied with the US, can offer an outlet to anger on the street and attempt to channel both Islamist and pan-Arab sentiments in a direction that does not challenge their rule.

This exploitation of anti-Semitism fits a broader political narrative of the Arab world. A few years ago a committee of Arab intellectuals working under the auspices of the UN produced a devastating indictment of the Arab encounter with modernisation. Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis recounts and updates some of their most shocking findings in the March-April 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs. Here are a few of the depressing highlights. In the previous quarter century, real per capita gross domestic product has fallen in the Arab world. Combined Arab GDP in 2000 was less than that of Spain. One-fifth the number of books are translated every year into Arabic as are translated into Greek in Greece. Between 1980 and 2000, Egypt registered 77 patents in the US, South Korea 16,328. And so on.

As a matter of mere logic, the presence of 5.5million Jews in Israel cannot be responsible for the economic and political development of hundreds of millions of Arabs. But the Arab mind is presented with a disagreeable conundrum. The Arab world possesses, in its view, the one true religion, the greatest culture and much of the world's oil, yet its societies are impoverished and dysfunctional. How can this be explained? In societies that do not allow searching criticism of ruling regimes, the answer has to come in the form of anti-Arab conspiracies, centred on the West generally, but more specifically on the US, Israel and the Jews.

This Arab anti-Semitism, popular and official, is incidentally a huge obstacle to peace. If Israel is not just a nation like any other but the most visible and offensive manifestation of a giant Western and Jewish conspiracy against Islam and the Arabs, then making peace with it is not honourable but despicable.


The strange transformation of the Left

Kenan Malik sees the novel "Satanic verses" by Rushdie as a turning point

In mid-February 1989, following a violent riot against the book in Pakistan, Iran's supreme leader ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on all good Muslims to kill Rushdie and his publishers. The most famous writer of the day went into hiding, under police protection.

MUSLIM fury seemed to be driven not by questions of harassment or discrimination or poverty but by a sense of hurt that Rushdie's words had offended their deepest beliefs. Where did such hurt come from and why was it being expressed now? How could a novel create such outrage? Could Muslim anguish be assuaged, and should it be? How did the anger on the streets of Bradford relate to traditional political questions about rights, duties and entitlements? Britain had never asked itself such questions before. Twenty years on, it is still groping for the answers.

The Rushdie affair was a turning point in the relationship between British society and its Muslim communities. It was a turning point for me, too. I was born in India but came to Britain in the 1960s as a five-year-old. My mother came from Tamil Nadu in southern India. She was Hindu. My father's family had moved to India from Burma when the Japanese invaded in 1942. It is through him that I trace my Muslim heritage. Mine was not, however, a particularly religious upbringing. My parents forbade me (and my sisters) from attending religious education classes at school because they did not want us to be force-fed Christianity. But we were not force-fed Islam or Hinduism either. I still barely know the Hindu scriptures and, while I read the Koran in my youth, it was only after the Rushdie affair that I took a serious interest in it.

What shaped my early experiences was not religion but racism. I arrived in Britain just as "Paki-bashing" was becoming a national sport. Paki was the abusive name for any Asian and Paki-bashing was what racists called their pastime of beating up Asians. My main memory of growing up in the '70s was of being involved almost daily in fights with racists and of how normal it seemed to come home with a bloody nose or a black eye.

Like many Asians of my generation, I was drawn towards politics by my experience of racism. I was left-wing and, indeed, joined some far-Left organisations in my 20s. But if it was racism that drew me to politics, it was politics that made me see beyond the narrow confines of racism. I came to learn that there was more to social justice than the injustices done to me and that a person's skin colour, ethnicity or culture was no guide to the validity of their political beliefs. I was introduced to the ideas of the Enlightenment and to concepts of a common humanity and universal rights. Through politics, too, I discovered the writings of Marx and Mill, Kant and Locke, Paine and Condorcet, Frantz Fanon and C.L.R. James.

By the end of the '80s, however, many of my friends had come to see such Enlightenment notions as dangerously naive. The Rushdie affair gave notice not just of a new Islam but also of a new Left. Radicals slowly lost faith in secular universalism and began talking instead about multiculturalism and group rights. They became disenchanted with Enlightenment ideas of rationalism and humanism, and many began to decry the Enlightenment as a Eurocentric project. Where once the Left had argued that everyone should be treated equally, despite their differences, now it pushed the idea that different people should be treated differently because of such differences. During the past two decades many of the ideas of the so-called politics of difference have become mainstream through the policies of multiculturalism. The celebration of difference, respect for pluralism, avowal of identity politics, these have come to be regarded as the hallmarks of a progressive, anti-racist outlook and as the foundation stones of modern liberal democracies.

Yet there is a much darker side to multiculturalism, as the Rushdie affair demonstrated. Multiculturalism has helped foster a more tribal nation and, within Muslim communities, has undermined progressive trends while strengthening the hand of conservative religious leaders. Although it did not create militant Islam, it helped create for it a space within British Muslim communities that had not existed before.

I was in a drab Victorian semi near the university that housed the Bradford Council of Mosques, waiting to speak to Sher Azam, when suddenly, I heard a familiar voice. "Hello, Kenan, what are you doing here?" It was Hassan, a friend from London whom I had not seen for more than a year. "I'm doing some interviews about Rushdie," I told him. "But what are you doing in this godforsaken place?"

Hassan laughed. "Trying to make it less godforsaken," he said. "I've been up here a few months, helping in the campaign against Rushdie." Then he laughed again when he saw my face. "No need to look so shocked," he said. He had had it with the "white Left". He had, he said, lost his sense of who he was and where he had come from. So he had returned to Bradford to try to rediscover it. And what he had found was a sense of community and a "need to defend our dignity as Muslims, to defend our values and beliefs". He was not going to allow anyone -- "racist or Rushdie" -- to trample over them.

The Hassan I had known in London had been a member of the far-left Socialist Workers Party (as I had been for a while). Apart from Trotskyism, his other indulgences were Southern Comfort, sex and the Arsenal soccer club. We had watched the Specials and the Clash together, smoked dope and argued about football. We had marched together, chucked bricks at the National Front, been arrested. This was what it was like for many Asians growing up in Britain in the '80s. Hassan had been born, as I had, on the subcontinent (in Pakistan) but grew up in Britain. His parents were observant Muslims but, like many of their generation, visited the mosque only whenever the "Friday feeling" gripped them. Hassan had attended mosque as a child and learned the Koran, but by the time he left school God had left him. "There's a hole inside me where God used to be," Rushdie once said. I had never detected any such hole in Hassan. He seemed to have been hewn from secular rock.

But here he was in Bradford, an errand boy to the mullahs, inspired by book-burners, willing to shed blood for a 1000-year-old fable he had never believed in. Unlike Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, Hassan sported neither horns nor a halo. But his metamorphosis from left-wing wide boy to Islamic militant was no less extraordinary than that of the antiheroes of The Satanic Verses. In that metamorphosis lies the story of the wider changes that were taking place in Britain and other Western nations, changes that made possible not just the Rushdie affair but eventually 9/11 and the London terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005, changes that trace a road from fatwa to jihad.

ANGELS and devils. Myths and monsters. These are at the heart of The Satanic Verses. The struggle of Saladin and Gibreel, with themselves and with each other, is a struggle of the human imagination against the constraints placed on it. One is a devil, the other an angel, yet they continually betray their natures. When Saladin is arrested, Gibreel, the angel, refuses to help him. When the two meet up again in riot-torn east London, Gibreel appears as Azraeel, the most terrible of angels, wreaking fire and destruction. But even as he is hunted down by Gibreel, the demonic Saladin risks his life to save a family trapped in a burning house. What Rushdie wants us to see is that the distinction between devil and angel lies less in their inner selves than in the roles that humans ascribe to them. If religion creates the divine and the satanic in the image of man, secular society makes men in the image of devils and angels. Religious faiths as well as secular societies deploy their angels and demons to justify their otherwise unjustifiable actions, to create boundaries that cannot be transgressed.

"Angels and devils -- who needed them?" Rushdie asks in The Satanic Verses. The answer seems to be those who wish to subdue the human spirit. Gibreel, despite born-again slogans, new beginnings, metamorphoses, has wished to remain, to a large extent, continuous, joined to and arising from the past. Saladin, on the other hand, has shown a willing reinvention, a preferred revolt against history. Angels, in other words, mean constancy while devils rock the boat. Angels are used to maintain tradition while those who bring about unacceptable change -- secularists to a religious faith, immigrants in a secular society -- are demonised.

But change and transformation, Rushdie insists, are what make us human. "Human beings," he observed in an essay, In Good Faith, "understand themselves and shape their futures by arguing and challenging and questioning and saying the unsayable; not by bowing the knee, whether to gods or to men." The Satanic Verses, he has said, is a "work of radical dissent". What does it dissent from? "From the end of debate, of dispute, of dissent," Rushdie answers. Rushdie's sympathy is clearly with the devil.


21st century culture: Political correctness combined with unprecedented personal viciousness

Several teenagers at an elite Sydney girls school are coming to terms with the full magnitude of their public betrayal via the internet. Where to begin? One has had her genitalia discussed in anatomical detail. Another has had her face likened to a koala's. A third has learnt that her circle of friends is not friendly at all: "She thinks she's best friends with lots of people but they actually hate her."

Two year 9 girls at Ascham, who thought they could casually destroy or trash the reputations of other girls in order to advance their own social standing, have left the school in disgrace. So at least some natural justice has been handed out. Thirty-one Ascham girls have been named and dissected in a posting on the social networking site MySpace, an action described by the school's headmistress, Louise Robert-Smith, as a "serious incident of cyber-bullying".

The incident prompted the mother of a girl who left Ascham several years ago, because she was humiliated, to say there has been a culture of bullying at the school for years. "When my daughter was there it was text messaging."

I know about bullying at Ascham. I married an Ascham bully. When my wife was 10, she flicked ink on the tunic of another Ascham girl because she was "slow, unattractive and irritating". When pressed to provide other details of her schoolyard thuggery, my wife could not nominate any. She remains haunted by this single ink-flicking incident. Perhaps she has been rehabilitated.

If even this small outburst can still be vividly recalled years later, one can only imagine how long-lasting and deep will be the wounds inflicted in this latest example of the casual cruelty of adolescence. Ascham was unfortunate to get singled out, because the problem is everywhere and the stakes are so much higher now. The public arena is moving further and further into the private domain.

Today, the ink-splashing incident could have been recorded on a mobile phone, loaded onto Facebook or MySpace, along with a commentary about how retarded and koala-like the girl was. The technology is there, and so is the ill-will. When I asked a friend, the editor of a heavily trafficked beauty site for young women, about the extent of cyber insults from other young women, she replied: "As a blogger, I have been virtually assaulted many times. Women seem to find the anonymity and forums of the internet a thrilling way to be their nastiest, bitchiest, most insincere self, without any form of repercussion or damage to their reputation. It's vicious and disturbing the way they cluster to attack the blogger, or each other."

The clustering was evident last week when the comedienne Gretel Killeen apparently faltered while hosting the Logie Awards. The scorn was both instantaneous and public. She hadn't even left the stage before the social networking site Twitter was alive with people tweeting about Killeen's flubs. Once her blood was in the water, it became a feeding frenzy. This then became a news story. The speed and intensity of cyber-bashing is becoming breathtaking.

Gossip has become even bigger than porn on the internet. Much bigger. Facebook is largely gossip. So are the other big social networking sites. Millions of eyeballs also go to gossip sites like Go Fug Yourself, devoted to fashion and celebrity putdowns. (The terms "fug" and "fugly" are short for f---ing ugly, though the authors pretend it stands for fantastically ugly). Or PerezHilton.com, which bills itself as "Hollywood's most hated website", or The Superficial (Because You're Ugly), or Dlisted (Be Very Afraid), or TMZ.com (Careful Who You're Kissing), or Pink is the New Blog (Everybody's Business Is My Business), or Jezebel (Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women, Without Airbrushing). All have large followings among young women.

These sites can become infectious, and I am referring to disease, when the directors of the Miss USA Pageant put a vicious misogynist like Perez Hilton on the judging panel. Presumably they were thinking about casting a villain, but in Hilton, real name Mario Lavandeira, they chose the worst kind of high camp queen, a failed actor and failed journalist (in 2007 he announced the death of Fidel Castro) who found fame through unrestrained vicious gossip.

One of his specialities is outing allegedly closeted homosexuals. He was at his blackmailing best at the Miss USA Pageant when he asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, about her views on same-sex marriage. She replied that she did not want to offend anyone, but supported "traditional marriage", and did not think this traduced gay rights (I'm paraphrasing). Ever since, Ms Prejean has been subject to a torrent of invective from Hilton and other zealots screaming for tolerance at the same time they were screaming her down. This, in turn, has rippled out through the mainstream media like a very bad advertisement for gay marriage.

Today, the directors of the Miss California USA pageant have scheduled a press conference to announce whether Ms Prejean will be stripped of her crown for various perceived infractions. Perez Hilton has been busy milking the fight he instigated, claiming credit for Miss California not winning the pageant, and the internet has allowed the infection to spread.

Because the internet is so unfiltered and so vast, it has become a far more accurate reflection of the human condition than the traditional mass media. The self-portrait that has emerged is not flattering. The explosion in productivity, transparency, community and knowledge has been accompanied by largely unfettered pettiness, vituperation and schadenfreude. This is the encompassing public medium of the young. This is their stage and their minefield.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Obama's Military Commission Farce

This week's Obama administration Embarrassing Friday Night News Dump included alerting the Washington Post that the administration will be reinstating military commission trials for captured terrorists. Typical of the Obamedia, the Post uncritically accepts the administration's fig-leaf that Obama's new and improved commissions will correct flaws that made Bush commissions (approved by Congress in 2006) unfair, and therefore — so the claim goes — the reinstatement should not be considered a gargantuan flippero from the Obama campaign position that the commissions were a kangaroo-court of a travesty. So Post reporter Peter Finn tells us:
The Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections, government officials said. The rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
This is utter nonsense. Under the existing commission rules, miltary judges have always had the authority to suppress evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, and have done so. Moreover, under Bush, the appointing authority (the Defense Department component that oversees the commissions) dismissed the charges against one of the most significant al Qaeda detainees, Mohammed al-Qahtani, on the (absurd) ground that his interrogation was tantamount to torture. (I discussed it in a New York Times debate, here.) The admissibility of hearsay evidence has always been a red-herring — hearsay is a staple of the international tribunals so admired by many in the Obama administration and the academic Left (a redundancy, I know), and the ability to get hearsay introduced in court is a large part of the reason for doing commission trials in the first place. (Otherwise American soldiers would have to be pulled away from combat operations to testify, and much evidence could never be used because it is given to us by foreign intelligence services on the condition that it not be disclosed.)

And the bit about granting detainees "greater freedom to choose their attorneys" made me laugh so much my sides still ache — American lawyers lined up from here to Gitmo to take up the cause of America's enemies, including many from firms connected to Obama administration lawyers (including Attorney General Holder, whose firm has represented — according to its website — some 18 enemy combatants). Finn mentions none of this.

Finn goes on to say: "The military commissions have allowed the trial of terrorism suspects in a setting that favors the government and protects classified information, but they were sharply criticized during the administration of President George W. Bush. 'By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure,' then-candidate Barack Obama said in June 2008.'" Obama was not the only one. That same month, Holder claimed the commissions amounted to "the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution."

Well guess what? The Obama commissions will be, in every material way, exactly the same as the Bush Commissions: they will allow the trial of terrorism suspects in a setting that favors the government and protects classified information, and they will be criticized — perhaps not quite as sharply, but sharply — by the same hard Lefties that Obama and Holder were courting during the campaign.

The media will never tell you that the Bush commission trials (as I've previously recounted, here) provided elaborate protections for war crimes defendants, such as:

the presumption of innocence;

the imposition of the burden of proof on the prosecution;

the right to counsel—both to a military lawyer provided at the expense of the American taxpayer and to a private attorney if the combatant chooses to retain one;

the right to be presented with the charges in advance of trial;

access to evidence the prosecution intends to introduce and to any exculpatory evidence known to the prosecution;

access to interpreters as necessary to assist in understanding the proceedings;

the right to a trial presumptively open to the public (except for portions sealed for national defense or witness security purposes);

the free choice to testify or decline to do so;

the right against any negative inference from a refusal to testify;

access to reasonably available evidence and witnesses;

access to investigative resources as "necessary for a full and fair trial"; and

the right to present evidence and to cross-examine witnesses.

Those are just some of the trial rights. There are, furthermore, elaborate sentencing procedures and a multi-tiered military appellate process at which a convicted combatant could get a guilty verdict or sentence reversed without ever having to appeal in the civilian courts. As Powerline’s Scott Johnson has pointed out, these protections for our current enemies markedly outstrip the paltry safeguards given the Nazis at Nuremburg—notwithstanding that Nuremburg, an international tribunal that afforded no right to American civilian court review, is celebrated by the Left (and was fondly recalled by candidate Obama) as a triumph of the “rule of law.”

The Obama campaign slandered the commissions, just like it slandered Gitmo, military detention, coercive interrogations, the state secrets doctrine, extraordinary rendition, and aggressive national-security surveillance. Gitmo is still open (and Obama and Holder now admit it's a first-rate facility), we are still detaining captives (except when Obama releases dangerous terrorists), the Obama Justice Department has endorsed the Bush legal analysis of torture law in federal court, and Obama has endorsed state secrets, extraordinary rendition, and national-security surveillance (and the Bush stance on surveillance has since been reaffirmed by the federal court created to rule on such issues).

Do these people ever get called on their hypocrisy?


Agony on the Left: Obama To Fire His First homosexual Arabic Linguist

Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army National Guard who is fluent in Arabic and who returned recently from Iraq, received notice today that the military is about to fire him. Why? Because he came out of the closet as a gay man on national television.

Some readers might think it unfair to blame Obama. After all, the president inherited the "don't ask, don't tell" law when he took office. As Commander-in-Chief, he has to follow the law. If the law says that the military must fire any service member who acknowledges being gay, that is not Obama's fault.

Or is it? A new study, about to be published by a group of experts in military law, shows that President Obama does, in fact, have statutory, stroke-of-the-pen authority to suspend gay discharges. Obama could simply invoke his authority under federal law (10 U.S.C. §12305) to retain any member of the military he believes is essential to national security. Or he could take advantage of a legal loophole. The "don't ask, don't tell" law requires the military to fire anyone found to be gay or lesbian. But there is nothing requiring the military to make such a finding. The president can order the military to stop investigating service members' sexuality.

An executive order would not get rid of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, but would take the critical step of suspending its implementation, hence rendering it effectively dead. Once people see gays and lesbians serving openly, legally and without problems, it will be much easier to get rid of the law at a later time.

I spent a day with Dan Choi last month, and he is not someone we want to fire from the military. He loves the armed forces. He served bravely under tough combat conditions in Iraq. His Arabic is excellent, and he used his language skills to defuse many tough situations and to save lives, both Iraqi and American. All of his unit mates know he is gay, and they have been very supportive of him. But he doesn't want to live a lie.

Obama has been praised for delaying efforts to get rid of "don't ask, don't tell," and some major gay rights groups are actively lobbying to delay consideration of the issue. They seem to believe that Obama should focus on other gay-rights issues first, and that he shouldn't spend his precious political capital trying to ram a repeal bill through Congress.

This misses the point. Obama could sign an executive order today. With roughly three-quarters of the public, including a majority of republicans, in favor of open gay service, a meaningful public backlash is unlikely. A slight majority of service members prefer that the policy be left in place, but polls also show that only a tiny minority of them care strongly about the issue, and that the vast majority of service members are comfortable interacting with gays.

Obama may believe he has nothing to lose by waiting. But what about Dan Choi's career? Is this really the right time to fire military officers who are fluent in Arabic?


"Tea Party" Organizer Muzzled at City Council Meeting

Could it be that Steve McQueen was denied his Constitutional right to be heard at a Quincy, Ill., city council meeting because of the fact that he is the chief organizer of the Quincy Tea Party movement? It sure appears that way.

It was the last thing McQueen expected to have happen when he appeared at the meeting last night. But it did happen. In a 7-6 vote down party lines, members of the Quincy City Council voted to deny him his right to speak, despite the fact that he had taken all of the proper steps required of a citizen to appear on the council’s agenda.

“I actually went last night with the idea that I was going to speak about our local city budget and a water-sewer increase,” McQueen told me this morning during a telephone interview. “I did ask to speak prior to going and I was placed n the agenda, so I went in with the idea that it was a foregone conclusion that I would speak. When I walked in and the vote happened, I was shocked.”

Shocked, yes. But not deterred.

“I’m gonna request to speak again,” he said. “This doesn’t change the fact that I went there for a reasons. The disturbing part is that I walked in going to speak on (water and sewer) issues and walked out, kind of, with a personal issue of the First Amendment.”

No actor, this McQueen is the real deal when it comes to being an All-American guy: A 17-year resident of Quincy, he boasts 23 years of service in the Army, Marine Corps and National Guard; he works full-time as a purchasing for a mining company; and he runs a web site design business on the side.

Oh, and did I mention he has a family? He and his wife Michelle have four children — three girls and a boy — who range from second-year college student to kindergarten scholar.

With so much going on in his personal life, one might be surprised that McQueen can find the time to be involved in the tea party movement. But he does.

After the city council meeting adjourned last night, he was quick to post the following message on the Quincy Tea Party web site:
I want to offer my thanks to the QTP supporters that attended the City Council Meeting tonight. You were the epitome of peaceful, professional, and persistent! Your class was noted by all who attended.

I would also like to offer thanks to our Republican City Council Members for standing up for the to right to free speech.

We walked into the council chambers this evening to open dialogue with the City Council on the budget and fee increases and left wondering if the Constitution had been repealed and no one told us.

I assume the message is that once they vote on an issue it is no longer open for discussion! Doesn’t that happen in kingdoms rather than in democracies?

Tonight’s debacle allowed the voting citizens of Quincy to see what we are up against. If they don’t agree with the citizens, we will just vote them away. It is really not that easy.
In an effort to make it easier for his fellow citizens in Quincy to exercise their First Amendment rights, McQueen also posted contact information (above right) for members of the city council.

I suspect that, as a result of the Drudge Report picking up a Quincy (Ill.) News article about his experience, people involved in tea party movements across the nation will take advantage of the opportunity to contact those Democrats on the Quincy City Council who stomped on the Constitution last night.


Europe's turn to the right

When the New Left emerged in the 1960s, something else was born that would mark American elites for decades thereafter: the notion that social-democratic Western Europe was far superior to the capitalist United States. Pity the poor American professor whose every junket to a European academic conference was marred by his continental colleagues' sneering over cocktails about his nation's shame du jour—Vietnam, Watergate, Iraq—or about American racism, capital punishment or health care. For much of the American left, Western Europe was nothing less than an abstract symbol of progressive utopia.

This rosy view was never accurate, of course. Europe's socialized health care was blighted by outrageous (and sometimes deadly) waiting lists and rationing, to name just one example. To name another: Timbro, a Swedish think tank, found in 2004 that Sweden was poorer than all but five U.S. states and Denmark poorer than all but nine. But in recent years, something has happened to complicate the left's fanciful picture even further: Western European voters' widespread reaction against social democracy.

The shift has two principal, and related, causes. The more significant one is that over the past three decades, social-democratic Europe's political, cultural, academic and media elites have presided over, and vigorously defended, a vast wave of immigration from the Muslim world—the largest such influx in human history. According to Foreign Affairs, Muslims in Western Europe numbered between 15 million and 20 million in 2005. One source estimates that Britain's Muslim population rose from about 82,000 in 1961 to 553,000 in 1981 to two million in 2000—a demographic change roughly representative of Western Europe as a whole during that period. According to the London Times, the number of Muslims in the U.K. climbed by half a million between 2004 and 2008 alone—a rate of growth 10 times that of the rest of the country's population.

Yet instead of encouraging these immigrants to integrate and become part of their new societies, Western Europe's governments have allowed them to form self-segregating parallel societies run more or less according to Shariah. Many of the residents of these patriarchal enclaves subsist on government benefits, speak the language of their adopted country poorly or not at all, despise pluralistic democracy, look forward to Europe's incorporation into the House of Islam, and support—at least in spirit—terrorism against the West. A 2006 Sunday Telegraph poll, for example, showed that 40% of British Muslims wanted Shariah in Britain, 14% approved of attacks on Danish embassies in retribution for the famous Mohammed cartoons, 13% supported violence against those who insulted Islam, and 20% sympathized with the July 2005 London bombers.

Too often, such attitudes find their way into practice. Ubiquitous youth gangs, contemptuous of infidels, have made European cities increasingly dangerous for non-Muslims—especially women, Jews and gays. In 2001, 65% of rapes in Norway were committed by what the country's police call "non-Western" men—a category consisting overwhelmingly of Muslims, who make up just 2% of that country's population. In 2005, 82% of crimes in Copenhagen were committed by members of immigrant groups, the majority of them Muslims.

Non-Muslims aren't the only targets of Muslim violence. A mountain of evidence suggests that the rates of domestic abuse in these enclaves are astronomical. In Germany, reports Der Spiegel, "a disproportionately high percentage of women who flee to women's shelters are Muslim"; in 2006, 56% of the women at Norwegian shelters were of foreign origin; Deborah Scroggins wrote in The Nation in 2005 that "Muslims make up only 5.5 percent of the Dutch population, but they account for more than half the women in battered women's shelters." Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch advocate for democracy and women's rights, would no doubt say far more than half: When she was working with women in Dutch shelters, she writes, "there were hardly any white women" in them, "only women from Morocco, from Turkey, from Afghanistan—Muslim countries—alongside some Hindu women from Surinam." When she and filmmaker Theo van Gogh tried to highlight the mistreatment of women under Islam in the 2004 film "Submission: Part I," he was killed by a young Muslim extremist.

More and more Western Europeans, recognizing the threat to their safety and way of life, have turned their backs on the establishment, which has done little or nothing to address these problems, and begun voting for parties—some relatively new, and all considered right-wing—that have dared to speak up about them. One measure of the dimensions of this shift: Owing to the rise in gay-bashings by Muslim youths, Dutch gays—who 10 years ago constituted a reliable left-wing voting bloc—now support conservative parties by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

The other major reason for the turn against the left is economic. Western Europeans have long paid sky-high taxes for a social safety net that seems increasingly not worth the price. These taxes have slowed economic growth. Timbro's Johnny Munkhammar noted in 2005 that Sweden, for instance, which in the first half of the 20th century had the world's second-highest growth rate, had since fallen to No. 14, owing to enormous tax hikes.

Government revenues in Western Europe go largely to support the unemployed, thus discouraging work. Over the last decade or so, the overall unemployment rate in the EU 15—that is, Western Europe—has hovered at about 2.5 to 3 points higher than in the United States. In France and Germany, it has ascended into the double digits (and that was before the global financial crisis that began in 2008). Western Europe's rate of long-term unemployment has consistently been several times higher than America's, denoting the presence of a sizable minority either permanently jobless or working off the books, often for family businesses, while collecting unemployment benefits.

These two factors—immigration and the economy—are intimately connected. For while some immigrant groups in Europe, such as Hindus and East Asians, enjoy relatively low unemployment rates and healthy incomes, the largest immigrant group, Muslims, has become such a burden that governments have made extensive cutbacks in public services in order to keep up with welfare payments—closing clinics and emergency rooms, reducing staff in hospitals, cutting police and military spending, eliminating course offerings at public universities, and so on. According to a report issued last year by the think tank Contribuables Associés, immigration reduces France's economic growth by two-thirds. In 2002, economist Lars Jansson estimated that immigration cost Swedish taxpayers about $27 billion annually and that fully 74% of immigrant-group members in Sweden lived off the taxpayers. And in 2006, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise warned that Norway's petroleum fund—which contains the massive profits from North Sea oil that have made the nation rich—could wind up drained to cover outlays to immigrants. (This in a country whose roads, as a report last year indicated, are in worse shape than Albania's.)

The past few decades in Europe have made three things crystal-clear. First, social-democratic welfare systems work best, to the extent they do work, in ethnically and culturally homogeneous (and preferably small) nations whose citizens, viewing one another as members of an extended family, are loath to exploit government provisions for the needy. Second, the best way to destroy such welfare systems is to take in large numbers of immigrants from poor, oppressive and corruption-ridden societies, whose rule of the road is to grab everything you can get your hands on. And third, the system will be wiped out even faster if many of those immigrants are fundamentalist Muslims who view bankrupting the West as a contribution to jihad. Add to all this the growing power of an unelected European Union bureaucracy that has encouraged Muslim immigration and taken steps to punish criticism of it—criminalizing "incitement of racism, xenophobia or hatred against a racial, ethnic or religious group" in 2007, for example—and you can start to understand why Western Europeans who prize their freedoms are resisting the so-called leadership of their see-no-evil elites.

The November 2001 general election in Denmark is the most decisive—and successful—rejection so far of a Western European left-wing establishment. Alarmed by a widely publicized study showing that their country would have a Muslim majority within 60 years if immigration rates didn't change, Danish voters sent the Social Democrats down to defeat for the first time since 1924. The new Liberal-Conservative governing coalition, which voters returned to power in 2005, has introduced the Continent's most sweeping immigration and integration reforms, including rules designed to thwart the near-universal practice in Europe's Muslim communities of marrying one's children off to cousins abroad so that they, too, may immigrate to the West. As a result, the flow of new Muslim arrivals has decreased significantly, allowing the government to focus resources on the immense challenge of trying to integrate Muslims already living in Denmark. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen also defended free speech strongly during the 2006 Muhammad cartoon crisis, standing firm while Muslims around the world raged against Denmark and Western leaders begged him to back down.

The rightward shifts in Europe most widely reported in the U.S. have been those in Germany, where Angela Merkel became chancellor in 2005, and in France, where Nicolas Sarkozy took over the presidency in 2007. Those developments, as well as the third term that Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi won in 2008, were grounded largely in public recognition of the need for economic liberalization. By French standards, Mr. Sarkozy's campaign rhetoric was nothing less than stunning: arguing that "the revolution of 1968"—a sacred event for the left-wing French establishment—had not liberated France but "brought us into moral decline," Mr. Sarkozy insisted that if the French wanted growth, they needed to spend less time in cafés and more on the job.

In brave little Denmark's backyard, two more countries have moved to the right. In Norway, the Progress Party—which the political and media establishment has smeared for a generation as racist and fiscally unserious—now rivals the Labor Party, architect of the country's welfare state, thanks to voter concerns about immigration and public services. Though the financial crisis had caused support for the Progress Party to slip a bit, recent Muslim riots and debates about hijab have sent poll numbers skyward again, and the party seems a good bet to come out on top in next September's parliamentary elections—though it will be in trouble if, as appears likely, other right-of-center parties refuse to join a Progress Party-led coalition. And in Sweden, perhaps the ultimate symbol of social democracy, voters motivated largely by concerns over unemployment and other economic issues unseated the long-powerful Social Democratic Party in 2006. In its place they installed a center-right coalition led by Fredrik Reinfeldt's Moderates, who promised to help businesses and lower taxes.

But demonstrating a distinctively European species of schizophrenia, many on both the right and the left, while acknowledging the need for welfare-state reorganization, have ultimately resisted it—as if the philosophical leap required were simply too great. In Western Europe, after all, even the mainstream right tends to be statist. "The concept of the cradle-to-grave welfare state is so deeply embedded in the Danish psyche that even the conservatives don't dare touch it," noted NPR correspondent Sylvia Poggioli in 2006. Ivo H. Daalder made the same point in a 2007 Brookings Institution report, writing that "when one talks about the right in Europe, you are talking about a very state interventionist political class that still believes that the government has a fundamental role in guiding how the economy is supposed to be run."

It's no surprise, then, that Europe's new leaders have made relatively modest economic changes. True, Mr. Sarkozy has raised state employees' retirement age (precipitating a transport strike) and ended France's 35-hour workweek. But from the start, Social Democrats in Germany, whom Ms. Merkel's slim margin of victory forced her to accept as coalition partners, have limited her ability to implement serious economic reforms. In April 2008, Judy Dempsey noted in the International Herald Tribune not only that the coalition had "run its course" but that Merkel herself had been "forced to move leftward," hiking pensions and "rolling back radical labor reforms, ironically introduced by her Social Democratic predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, which were designed to bring older people back to work by reducing social welfare payments." And with the onset of the economic crisis, notes German author Henryk Broder, "there is even an ongoing discussion about Enteignung [expropriation] and Verstaatlichung [nationalization], which was unthinkable a year ago."

As for Sweden, shortly after the 2006 victory, BusinessWeek writers Stanley Reed and Ariane Sains paraphrased Mr. Reinfeldt as saying that his "idea isn't to dismantle the cherished Swedish welfare state. . . . That would be too controversial." Mr. Reinfeldt's one major innovation has been a "partially successful" effort "to force people off the welfare rolls and into the labor market," University of Lund social thinker Jonathan Friedman tells me. Mr. Reinfeldt's economic plan has also involved increased privatization, somewhat lower taxes, and encouragement of entrepreneurship—all policies, as Mr. Friedman notes, "that were started by the previous government."

Meanwhile, with the notable exception of Denmark, the new nonsocialist governments have left their predecessors' disastrous immigration and integration policies almost entirely intact. Mr. Sarkozy's defiant campaign rhetoric about Muslim rioters in the suburbs raised hopes for major change. But though he announced last July that illegal immigration would be a major focus during France's EU presidency, he has done little even about legal immigration, most of which, in Western Europe, involves the importation of new spouses in arranged, usually forced, marriages. Mr. Sarkozy seems to believe that job creation and other economic measures will resolve France's colossal integration challenges.

Ms. Merkel, meanwhile, shone briefly when she insisted that the Deutsche Oper proceed with a 2006 production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" that Muslim leaders condemned as offensive. But the heavily hyped "national integration plan" that she introduced the following year rested on such half-measures as an increase in the number of government-sponsored German classes, an effort to encourage immigrants to play sports, and (incredibly) a program that addressed wife-beating—permitted by the Koran and extremely common in Muslim communities—by offering advice on the Internet. Ms. Merkel actually described these pathetic gestures as a "milestone"; Mr. Broder, more accurately, calls them "make-believe action," another way to avoid conflicts in her coalition.

In Sweden, says Mr. Friedman, Mr. Reinfeldt has pursued "a variant of politics as usual" on immigration and integration. Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society, insists that Swedish efforts to encourage employment "will undoubtedly prove ineffective over the long haul" because "the fundamental problem is demographics. Sweden remains Europe's main importer of Muslim immigrants who are unwilling to assimilate and whose imams order them to detest Swedish culture. So long as the current government is unwilling to tackle this basic problem, everything else will be for naught."

Mr. Sarkozy has undertaken one high-profile initiative, which seems disastrously ill-conceived in a uniquely Gallic way: developing closer, more formal ties between France and the Arab countries from which it receives most of its immigrants. At one point, he even spoke of a "Mediterranean Union." Haaretz writer Michalis Firillas summed up Mr. Sarkozy's plan tidily in January 2008: "For some, his Mediterranean Union is a containment policy. For others it is neocolonial. But there is also a sense that Sarkozy is betting on French grandeur, that aura of greatness, to bridge the disparate Mediterranean with a new and serious political body. Unfortunately, he may find that there are others with similar visions of grandeur, from Ankara to Cairo, from Jerusalem to Tangiers, who have their own Mediterranean visions." Indeed, Mr. Sarkozy's scheme appears to be a continuation of his left-wing predecessors' efforts to bring the Arab world under French influence—efforts that ended up subsidizing the colonization of French suburbs by Arabs who now consider them part of the House of Islam.

Not only has Europe's move to the right not always had concrete results; it also hasn't been an across-the-board phenomenon. In Britain, the Tories seem poised to resume power after Labour's long, slow decline. Yet the ideological gap between the parties has narrowed so much in recent years, and the leadership vacuum is so pronounced, that it's difficult to imagine a Tory takeover's having an impact remotely comparable with that of Margaret Thatcher's 1979 election. On the contrary, conservative columnist Peter Hitchens recently charged that nowadays "you cannot become the government unless you bow to the views of the 'Centre-Left' media elite, especially the broadcast media elite." That elite, alas—as vividly demonstrated last year by the archbishop of Canterbury's speech contemplating the legitimacy of Shariah in parts of Britain—is bent on appeasing fundamentalist Islam.

And Spain, in a move widely seen as capitulating to Islamists, responded to the March 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid by voting for José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's Socialist Party, which had vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq immediately. Mr. Zapatero narrowly won re-election last year. As libertarian columnist Antonio Golmar explains, the centrist consensus established after King Juan Carlos's introduction of democracy in the 1970s has been shattered by Mr. Zapatero's hard-left initiatives. These include the Historical Memory Law—which portrays leftist mass murderers during the Spanish civil war as heroic freedom fighters, while stigmatizing many of their innocent victims as fascists—and the introduction in all schools of "citizenship" classes that teach scorn for capitalism and representative democracy.

In response, some Spaniards have lurched rightward toward the national-Catholic, protofascist ideology of Franco's time and become increasingly vocal within the conservative Partido Popular. Consequently, says Mr. Golmar, "moderates in Spain are trapped between a far-left administration and their cronies and the revival of the extreme right disguised in conservative and even libertarian clothing." While America struggles to move beyond the antagonisms of the 1960s, then, Spain has entered an ideological battlefield reminiscent of the years preceding its civil war of the late 1930s. There seems little room for those who loathe both the neo-Marxists and the neoreactionaries.

The situation in Spain is a reminder that not all "right turns" are created equal. If the Danes have affirmed individual liberty, human rights, sexual equality, the rule of law, and freedom of speech and religion, some Western Europeans have reacted to the mindless multiculturalism of their socialist leaders by embracing alternatives that seem uncomfortably close to fascism. Consider Austria's recently deceased Jörg Haider, who belittled the Holocaust, honored Waffen-SS veterans, and found things to praise about Nazism. In 2000, his Freedom Party became part of a coalition government, leading the rest of the EU to isolate Austria diplomatically for a time, and last September his new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, won 11% of the vote in parliamentary elections. Or take Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has called the Holocaust "a detail in the history of World War II" and advocated the forced quarantining of people who test HIV-positive—and whose far-right National Front came out on top in the first round of voting for the French presidency in 2002. The British National Party (BNP), which has a whites-only membership policy and has flatly denied the Holocaust, won more than 5% of the vote in London's last mayoral election. Then there's Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), formerly Vlaams Bloc, whose leaders have a regrettable tendency to be caught on film singing Nazi songs and buying Nazi books. In 2007, it won 5 out of 40 seats in the Belgian Senate.

For establishment politicians, journalists and academics, these parties serve an exceedingly useful purpose: Their existence makes it easy to tar any nonsocialist party with the fascist brush—labeling it racist and xenophobic, equating its leaders with the likes of Mr. Le Pen and Haider, and stigmatizing its supporters. No party in Europe has been subjected to more unfair attacks than Norway's Progress Party, whose extraordinary electoral successes have outraged that country's socialist elite. Like other parties on what we may call Europe's respectable right, the Progress Party has expressly distanced itself from parties like the National Front and Vlaams Belang. Yet despite these disavowals, American media have routinely echoed the leftist establishment's unjust calumnies.

A seminal example was a March 2002 New York Times article by Marlise Simons about Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch politician who, according to the article's headline, was "Proudly Gay, and Marching the Dutch to the Right." Though Ms. Simons acknowledged that Fortuyn criticized Islam because it offered "no equality for men and women and because . . . the imams here preach in offensive terms about gays," she nonetheless echoed the Dutch establishment's characterization of him as a menace to Dutch values, making sure to mention that he had been widely compared with Mussolini and Haider. A few weeks later, Fortuyn was murdered by an environmental fanatic taken in by similar claptrap.

The same kind of incendiary rhetoric that Dutch journalists used against Fortuyn can now be seen in American left-wing coverage of any nonsocialist European party or politician. Typical was Gary Younge's 2007 piece in The Nation: "In Europe, It's the Old Right That's Full of Hate." According to Younge, "the primary threat to democracy in Europe is not 'Islamofascism' . . . but plain old fascism. The kind whereby mostly white Europeans take to the streets to terrorize minorities." This was nonsense on a breathtaking scale: Though the rise of parties like the BNP is indeed distressing, the truth remains that for every act of anti-Muslim violence in Europe, there are—to make an exceedingly conservative guess—100 acts of Muslim-on-infidel violence.

Who will win the war for the soul of Western Europe? The Islamofascists and their multiculturalist appeasers, many of whom seem to believe that their job is not to defend democracy but to help make the transition to Shariah as smooth as possible? The nativist cryptofascists? Or Pim Fortuyn's freedom-loving heirs? Interestingly, while Western Europeans have been heading in one direction, Americans have chosen to go the other way, replacing a president more loathed by the European elite than any in history with a man whom the same elite has celebrated to an unprecedented degree, often depicting his election as a mystical act of atonement for all of America's past sins, real or imagined.

The final question, then, is whether the Western European left's condescension toward America, and the American left's habit of holding Western Europe up as a socialist paradise, can survive the combination of Europe's right turn and the elevation of Barack Obama. Stir in the international financial crisis, which will almost certainly cause a socioeconomic upheaval of untold dimensions in both hemispheres, and it seems reasonable to expect that the old pattern may be broken for good. Meaning that American professors will have a far less stressful time of it at European cocktail parties—at least until Shariah comes along and forbids cocktails entirely.



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

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

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


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Monday, May 11, 2009

Catholic college arrests abortion OPPONENTS

That they are just another Leftist college is now clear. Is there no way that the church can reclaim it for the faith?

Former presidential candidate and WND columnist Alan Keyes was arrested this afternoon, along with 21 others, on charges of trespassing while he was protesting against Barack Obama's abortion record at the University of Notre Dame.

As WND reported, University President John Jenkins prompted national outrage when he invited the pro-abortion president to speak at the university's May 17 commencement. Despite at least 55 bishops publicly denouncing or questioning the university's decision, Jenkins has refused to rescind the offer.

"I will step foot on the Notre Dame campus to lift up the standard that protects the life of the innocent children of this and every generation," Keyes said in a statement prior to his arrest. "I will do it all day and every day from now until the Master comes if need be, though it means I shall be housed every day in the prison house of lies and injustice that Obama, Jenkins and their minions now mean to construct for those who will never be still and silent in the face of their mockery of God and justice, their celebration of evil."

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who made headlines last week after he was arrested for pushing a stroller carrying a doll covered in fake blood on the Notre Dame campus, witnessed the arrest.

"Keyes and 21 people with strollers walked onto campus, praying," Terry told WND. "The police grabbed them all and arrested them, but it was done very peacefully." Nonetheless, Terry said, what's happening at Notre Dame is infuriating. "The outrage is that they were arrested by Notre Dame's orders for defending babies; meanwhile Notre Dame is going to honor someone who kills babies," Terry said, referring to Obama's record on supporting abortion.

University spokesman Dennis Brown told the Chicago Breaking News Center that Keyes was given notice that university policy bans protests unless they are organized by student groups and approved in advance. Brown further stated that university policy is to arrest anyone who refuses to leave campus after being notified. "We've got a long established policy that only members of the university community can organize or lead a protest, and they have to be approved by our office of student affairs," Brown said.

Sergeant Bill Redman of the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Office confirmed that those arrested were handcuffed and taken to the St. Joseph County Jail, held for trespassing on a $250 bond.

Prior to his arrest, Keyes had announced, "If this be trespass, then forgive us our trespasses and join us in trespassing until the South Bend jail is filled to overflowing with witnesses to truth; filled beyond capacity; filled until we break the most onerous shackles – the ones that bind the heart and mind to evil and our nation to the path of its destruction."

Terry told WND that he believes Keyes and several of the 21 other protesters intend to remain in jail through the weekend. In fact, a witness from the jail told Terry that Keyes has been using his time behind bars to preach – for hours on end – to the inmates.

"Pro-life activism has been dying," Terry said, "but this has given us a fresh line of defense to regroup." Now, Terry is urging others to follow Keyes' example. "We are asking people to come," Terry said. "We want to have 50 or 100 people in jail next weekend, so that every time that the media discusses Obama speaking at Notre Dame, they talk about the fact that there are people in jail for protesting his appearance."

Earlier, Terry told WND that he hoped the efforts would cause Obama to cancel his commencement appearance at the university. "There would be no better witness to the world of the value of these babies – who Obama is even now slaughtering – than if there are hundreds of people sitting in jail," Terry said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, however, told reporters this afternoon that Obama had no plans to cancel the appearance or decline the honorary degree Notre Dame has offered him. "We are honored to have received the invitation," Gibbs said. "Notre Dame has a good history of robust, civic debate and the president looks forward to speaking to the graduating class."

Terry is nonetheless continues to promote a website called StopObamaNotreDame.com so others may join the protests. "My goal, and my challenge to everyone, is to create such a political mud pit here that Obama chooses to not walk through it in order to speak," he said. "The only way that's going to happen is by massive social tension on the ground. That's why these arrests are going to be so critical."


On Creating Young Conservatives

by Dr. John Mark Reynolds

Losing an aging Arlen Specter will do little harm to a movement long term. Losing the youth vote year after year is a sign of approaching party senility.

Obama won the youth vote overwhelmingly. Some conservatives believe that he won because of his acknowledged personal qualities and awesome campaign skills. A recent Rasmussen Report analysis of polling data suggests that while being a super hero campaigner never hurts, Obama won because of his ideas. He won the youth vote, because young voters are more liberal than previous generations.

That has to change for the good of the nation. Sadly for the good of the nation, Obama will fail as president, but the nation may not perceive this failure. He will fail, because the actions he has already taken will limit our liberty. Our liberty may be impaired, but people may become accustomed to it.

The good news for conservatives is there is no reason to split our economic and social conservative base. The bad news is that this is because Obama’s young voters reject both wings of the party. They are not social conservatives and they are not economic libertarians.

Not all youthful voters can be reached. Many have decided on their political philosophy and will not change their minds. We cannot persuade them if they will not listen and many have closed their minds to conservatives.

Partly this is a natural reaction of youth to their parents who are one of the most conservative generations in US history. Patient citizens will see the Obama generation raise a conservative cohort in thirty years, but sadly too much damage can be done to the Republic in the meantime to wait.

My experience shows a sizeable minority of Obama voters can be reached by good conservative arguments. Conservatives need only persuade a portion of Obama’s voters to change their minds, but not by alienating that third of the young who already vote for conservative candidates.

The Long Road Back Begins with Education

You cannot win by subtracting and conservatives need not immediately win the youth vote, just reduce the size of the defeat. This should begin with groups that are less conservative than one would anticipate. The core youth vote for conservatives is traditionally Christian and there is room for growth. Conservatives are underachieving in what should be their core constituency.

Partly this is because too many conservative educational institutions are either too sectarian or mostly secular. Those that claim to be broad based often ignore important classes of potential conservative voters.

There are major conservative organizations having few if any young Evangelical Christian voices. This is embarrassing given the clout such voters have in the conservative movement. Conservatives who are Evangelical often end up in their own organizations and seemingly “appear” every few years in primaries like Iowa. Conservatives don’t talk to each other enough.

Evangelicals should learn to listen to atheists, but atheist conservatives should listen to young, bright Evangelicals who disagree with some of their views. This should happen in one place where possible!

Winning voters who think they disagree with conservatism need not begin by becoming less conservative. What would be the point of this? If after close examination of our own views, we still think the conservative philosophy correct, we need to begin the long slow process of educating persuadable voters.

This begins by listening and not attacking. Rousing the base has its place, but when one is in the minority it is of limited use. Humility, time, and discussion are the best approaches to those who disagree with us, but could be persuaded.

It is hard for me to name institutions that are set up to persuade those on the left. Such institutions may not excite the base, but they will expand it. Conservatism needs media (old and new) that does not require total “buy in.” Gradual exposure to conservative positions will slowly move the thoughtful voter toward mainline conservative media.

In a different generation voices like Paul Harvey served as a “first-contact” for many Americans to the conservative mainstream. They were media figures first in the public mind, conservatives second. Paul Harvey made minds receptive to conservative ideas. Such people and institutions should be conservative without announcing it at every turn. A young-sort-of-liberal vegan would find a Hannity too much red meat and needs a gentler diet first!

It is sad that young voters have the views they have. There are probably social institutions such as the major media and schools that share some of the blame for this situation, but conservative whining should end. Major change is not coming soon and so we need to embrace our role of underdogs and begin to infiltrate liberal institutions while strengthening those that are still conservative.

Most youth voters I meet, even from conservative families, have never heard an intellectual case for conservative economics or social policy that is also sensitive to the poor and to the environment. This does not require so much a new conservatism as new educational approach. The initial success of Mike Huckabee shows that young voters, and he did very well with Republican young voters, are waiting for someone who can explain our views.

Too often conservatives have looked for quick fix solutions that ignore the years of educational effort that will be required to solve this problem. This will begin by strengthening conservative schools and media institutions we already have. Why don’t conservative donors endow chairs in conservatism at more schools? Many middle-sized Christian colleges and universities, while non-partisan, are sensitive enough to their overwhelmingly conservative constituencies to accept such gifts.

Imagine scores of conservative scholars freed to educate and mentor the next generation of conservative leaders. One student once said to me, “I wish conservative leaders did not keep embarrassing me.” The student was no coward, but leaders, particularly on the religious right, were not helping but harming him.

Don’t Embarrass Me: Creating a Middlebrow Conservatism

I believe there are many young conservative voters, often religious, looking for a party that will not embarrass them. It is already hard when you are young to stand against the majority and conservatives should want to make it easier, not harder. We cannot win the youth vote with candidates who make conservatives hold their breath in debates lest they say something stupid.

We need candidates who can explain our pro-life views by making arguments, not just repeating talking points. This is one of the strengths of the left and of Obama. The entire left does not take a high tone. There is a left-wing noise machine—and such populist style will always exist in a republic. Conservatives can generally match the left at this level of discourse, but control of schools, “middle-brow” cultural institutions, and media have given the left an overwhelming advantage at “middle-brow” discussions.

It is not conservatism when big business and big government corrupt each other. We don’t need a new conservatism to say this, I have never met a serious conservative who favors graft or lets Wall Street plutocrats off the hook for their part in the corruption of our national affairs, but we do need to say it more loudly. Most of my students, the majority from households that consume huge amounts of conservative media, have never heard it.

Conservatives need strong apologetics, a defense of their point of view. Strong defense requires a charitable understanding of the other side. Nobody will be persuaded if the liberalism being attacked bears no resemblance to the liberalism they have (weakly!) embraced.

Our approach must be dialectic, centered in listening and discussion, rather than preaching. Persuadable Obama voters have rejected what they believe is conservatism and one thing they think they know about conservatism is that it is narrow minded and intolerant. Discussion with thinkers on both sides of the aisle is the key to ending this perception. Some communicators like Hewitt and Medved do this, but many do not.

Conservatives have thinkers, living and historic. Conservatism has good populist roots in the United States. Yet these days conservatives lack a way of appealing to the influential intellectual middle. National Review is a good start, but is not enough.

We either need to be part of or fund the equivalent of middlebrow institutions such NPR and public television to discuss the entire culture from a conservative point of view. A political movement in a republic cannot be healthy if it loses the class of people who are not professional intellectuals, but who care deeply about the life of the mind. Such folk will produce much of the popular entertainments consumed by the rest of us. At present, middlebrow media is overwhelmingly leftist.

My personal experience suggests that young voters can be persuaded to consider conservative ideas and solutions. The total dominance in Washington of liberalism gives us prized “outsider status.” This is a good moment to begin the long process of educating the next generation of voters so that generation Obama gives way to generation Conservative.


Strange silence about the attacks on Miss California

Checked on your freedom of speech lately? If not, consider the plight of 21-year-old Carrie Prejean, a student at San Diego Christian College who was selected first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant last month. During the question and answer part of the competition, Prejean was asked whether every state should legalize gay marriage. Smiling brightly, the young woman said: "I think that I believe a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there."

Most polls show that the majority of Americans agree with Prejean, including the president of the United States. Yet since she made that statement as Miss California, the woman has been persecuted in the media.

MSNBC allowed a guest to call her vile names, and the far-left cast of characters on that cable network has delighted in mocking and demeaning Prejean almost nightly. The left-wing blogs have been especially vicious, and now, even her own pageant is turning against her: She's being investigated for possibly violating pageant rules by giving unapproved interviews. Of course, she gave those interviews trying to defend herself against media assaults.

This is a disgraceful exposition with wide implications for all of us. Here we have an American citizen answering a direct question respectfully and honestly and being punished for it. You don't get more un-American than that. Where is the American Civil Liberties Union on this? That great defender of free speech has been totally silent. Once again, the ACLU displays its biased hypocrisy like a giant float-balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And where is the National Organization for Women? A young woman is being victimized by hate speech, actually being called a "b*tch" on a variety of television programs, and NOW has no comment? Again, the hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Finally, where is the homosexual community? Do they not respect freedom of speech? They don't want to be punished for their expression, right? It would be incredibly smart for a gay leader to pull a Voltaire and publicly state, "I don't agree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it." So, who's going to be courageous and step up on this one?

Gay marriage has been defined by some of its supporters as a civil rights issue. Isn't freedom of speech a civil rights issue? Therefore, let's call this Miss California deal exactly what it is -- a gross violation of the spirit of America. If a 21-year-old pageant contestant can be persecuted for uttering an opinion based upon a sincere belief, then all of us are at risk, as well.


Scotland: Homosexual rights campaigner who led double life as boss of paedophile ring among 8 guilty of catalogue of child abuse

Eight members of a paedophile ring were found guilty today of a catalogue of child pornography and abuse charges, including the sexual assault of a three-month old baby. The ringleaders - convicted sex offender Neil Strachan and gay rights campaigner James Rennie - were convicted of sex attacks on children. Strachan, 41, and Rennie, 38, both from Edinburgh, were also found guilty of conspiring to abuse youngsters, as were three other members of the gang.

All eight accused in the 10-week trial at the High Court in Edinburgh were convicted of a series of child porn offences. The gang members were traced through their explicit internet chats about sexual fantasies involving children. From various locations across Scotland, they plotted, whether by using web cameras or other means such as by phone, to participate in sexual offences, including rape and sodomy.

The jury - down to 14 men and women after one member was discharged during the trial - took 10 hours over two days to reach its verdicts. The court fell silent as the succession of verdicts to more than 50 charges were given. Nearly 125,000 indecent images were seized during Operation Algebra, which uncovered the group, believed to be Scotland's biggest paedophile network.

Ross Webber, 27, of North Berwick, Craig Boath, 24, from Dundee and John Milligan, 40, from Glasgow, were all found guilty of conspiring to participate in the sexual abuse of children along with Strachan and Rennie. The five men, with Colin Slaven, 23, from Edinburgh and Neil Campbell, 46 and John Murphy, 44, from Glasgow, were also convicted of a catalogue of child porn offences.

But the undisputed ringleaders of the ring were Strachan and Rennie, who on the surface held down good jobs and were trusted members of the community. But the pair had a shared interest in young boys and had collected some of the worst child abuse images ever seen by police experts. They were also responsible for the abuse of very young children - one as young as three months old.

Rennie was the successful chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, an organisation dedicated to helping young gay people. A former secondary school teacher, he regularly spoke out in public on gay issues, particularly how they affected young people. But the High Court in Edinburgh heard he was 'polluted by deviant compulsion'. Crown QC Dorothy Bain said: 'In reality he is someone who allowed his profound interest in the sexual abuse of children to engulf his entire life.'

The extent of his obsession with under-age sex unfolded as the 10-week trial progressed. He was charged and ultimately convicted of molesting a child over a number of years, starting at the age of three months. And in an online conversation with another accused, he even expressed a wish to see children with Down's Syndrome or a learning disability sexually abused.

Operation Algebra officers found that Rennie had links with paedophiles in the US and the Netherlands. He was traced and arrested by police at the end of 2007. He was suspended from his high-profile post and by February 2008 had resigned.

Strachan also hid a dark past, in which he was jailed for three years for molesting a young boy. He was the man who sparked Operation Algebra when indecent images were found on computer equipment used by him in his work. Tests revealed 'sinister' emails between him and Rennie. They had encountered each other online in 2004 when Strachan congratulated Rennie on the content of his web page on a site known to have been misused by paedophiles.

When the case came to trial, what the jury did not know was that Strachan had offended before. He was jailed for three years in 1997 for repeatedly molesting a young boy while he was an official at a youth football club. He started abusing the child when he was five years old and the abuse went on for two years. Strachan quit his post as secretary of Celtic East Boys Club in Edinburgh after he was caught.

When he was jailed, it emerged that he had also been convicted of a similar sex offence 12 years previously. Among the charges faced by Strachan in the current trial was an allegation that he committed a serious sexual offence against a toddler at New Year from 2005 into 2006.

But Strachan, despite being one of the worst offenders in the group, was the only one of the eight men on trial who denied every charge against him. Prosecutors were forced to piece together the case against him bit by bit. Crucial to their case was a photograph partially showing a man sexually assaulting a young child. The Crown called on a world-renowned expert in human anatomy to examine the picture, known in court as The Hogmanay Image.

Pinpointing the abuser's physical traits, including a distinctive thumbnail, Professor Susan Black said there was 'strong evidence' that Strachan and the man in the picture were the same person.



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

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

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


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Sunday, May 10, 2009

After 400 years, health and safety bans stepladders from historic Oxford library... but nobody can reach the books

Britain's ladder phobia again

Stepladders have been banned from part of Oxford University's historic Bodleian library - because of health and safety fears. The ruling by officials means that students cannot use items on the higher shelves of the Duke Humfrey reading room. However, the university is standing its ground and refusing to move the books from their 'original historic location' on the room's balcony.

As a result of the stalemate, students have to travel to libraries as far away as London to view other copies. Art History student Kelsey Williams, 21, had to travel 80 miles to London to view a copy of Arthur Johnston's 1637 work Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum after librarians refused to get it down for her. She said: 'Access to these books is necessary for my research and I wasted a day travelling to London and looking at the one in the British Library. 'It's madness because I can practically see the Bodleian's copy every time I walk into Duke Humfrey's.'

Stepladders have been used by scholars to reach books since the library was built more than 400 years ago. But the University's Health and Safety officer put his foot down last year and they were removed two weeks ago. A notice given to students requesting the books reads: 'Unable to fetch, book kept on top shelf in gallery. Due to new health and safety measures, stepladders can no longer be used.'

Laurence Benson, the library's director of administration and finance, said: 'The balcony has a low rail and we have been instructed by the health and safety office that this increases the risk. 'As part of the process the restriction on the use of ladders on the balcony have been introduced.

'The library would prefer to keep the books in their original historic location - where they have been safely consulted for 400 years prior to the instructions from the Health and Safety office.'


Britain's useless political police again

Mother told police she feared stalker would kill her. They didn't come. That night she was murdered. Stalkers are not as dangerous as ladders apparently

A mother of three was knifed to death by a stalker just hours after she rang police begging for help, it emerged yesterday. Mary Griffiths, a 38-year- old fitness instructor, had told friends that she was concerned for her safety because of the unwanted attentions of a man. At around 6pm on Tuesday she dialled 999 saying she was being harassed and asking for help.

Police assured her they would be with her within an hour, but never showed up. She was discovered dying from stab wounds to the chest at her home in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in the early hours of Wednesday. A 40-year-old man, who sources say had a brief relationship with her, has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Yesterday the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed the matter had been referred to them. A spokesman said last night: 'The victim, Mary Griffiths, telephoned police at around 6pm on the evening prior to her death to inform them she was being harassed by a man. 'She was found seriously injured at her home early on the morning of Wednesday May 6, 2009. She was taken to West Suffolk Hospital but died there a short time later. 'Investigators will now consider the response of Suffolk police to the contact from Mary Griffiths prior to her death.'

Friends yesterday told how Miss Griffiths feared she was being stalked in the weeks leading up to her death. She had sent worried text messagesto friends, who warned her not to open the door of her £250,000 home to anyone. The three daughters from her marriage to estranged husband Jeremy, 39, were in the house at the time of the attack, but it is believed they were asleep.

A neighbour called emergency services at 2.45am after hearing screams. Armed officers were then sent to the scene.

Miss Griffiths' daughters Jessica, 13, Hannah, eight, and nineyearold Sophie were last night being cared for by their father.

Yesterday devastated family members arrived from Ireland. They were seen weeping and hugging each other outside the house. A message on flowers left by her sister Irene said: 'Don't worry, we will take care of your little princesses. I can't believe I am never going to see you again. Rest in peace sweet beautiful Mary.' Another from her brother Paul said: 'You excelled at everything you did and ended up with a beautiful family, a beautiful house and amazing friends. You'll never be forgotten little sis' by all your family. Just wish I could have been there when you needed me most of all.'

A friend, who asked not be named said: 'She was completely dedicated to her three daughters. She was devoted to them. She was an excellent mum who was there for her children and she was very caring.' Police arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of murder at a house two miles from the scene. He is currently receiving treatment in hospital. Details of his condition have not been released.

One of his neighbours said he believed the man had also been working as a fitness instructor and had only lived at the address for a few weeks. He added: 'I was woken up at about 3.30am by the sound of police arriving at the house. They got out of their cars and had their guns drawn. 'They went to the back fence and looked over to see him unconscious on the grass in the back garden. I heard them shouting out "armed police", but there was no response from him.

'Then paramedics turned up and started treating him for about 15 minutes. They put him on a drip before getting him on a stretcher and taking him to an ambulance.' The neighbour added: 'I have heard rumours that he was having a relationship with her (Miss Griffiths).'

IPCC Commissioner Len Jackson said: 'People will be understandably shocked and concerned by this vicious attack on a woman in her own home. It is important that we look carefully at how the police chose to respond to contact from Mary Griffiths prior to her death. 'We will therefore carry out a full and independent investigation into the police response.'


Liberty and Tyranny

by Mike Adams

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I was always taught that Franklin Roosevelt was a great president – largely because his New Deal policies lifted us out of the Great Depression. But my teachers never told me that Roosevelt raised the top income tax rate to 79 percent before raising it to 90 percent.

The year after the 1929 stock market crash, unemployment was less than nine percent. It would not fall below that level until our nation was involved in World War II. In fact, unemployment would peak at 24.9 percent during FDR’s first year in office. Now that unemployment is rising to levels approaching those of the early days of the Great Depression, we are in grave danger. The statist welcomes each oncoming crisis as an excuse to grow the state at the expense of individual liberty.

America’s very real economic crisis comes at a singularly inopportune time. It threatens to feed economic statism at a time when enviro-statism is on the rise. Mark Levin coined the term enviro-statism in his recent book Liberty and Tyranny. It is a term one must understand if one is to comprehend fully the statist agenda and its threat to constitutional liberty.

Those of us who lived in the 1970s recall the establishment of the EPA during the first year of that decade. Needing something to justify it existence, the EPA banned DDT in 1972. The ban was, of course, in response to Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, which argued that children were especially vulnerable to cancer – all without specific evidence that DDT was causing cancer in children.

With each passing year it is becoming more and more obvious that the ban on DDT has killed millions of children – especially in Africa – by crippling our ability to fight malaria. The home where Carson wrote Silent Spring is now a National Historical Landmark. Levin summed the situation up best when he observed, “There are no landmarks or memorials for those who suffered or perished from the banning of DDT.”

But the statist does not understand what Mark Levin is saying. The statist fails to recognize unalienable rights, which come from a Creator. To him, the creed “earth first” is more meaningful. Nor does the statist understand the concept of the trade-off. His smug arrogance allows him an unlimited confidence in his capacity to find a “solution” to a “problem.” That is why Greenpeace statists campaigned against the incandescent light bulb in India. The fact that it emits carbon dioxide was a problem. So they proposed a ban as a solution.

In their rush to impose their enviro-statist agenda on India – a nation where 600 million live without electricity – they forgot about one thing: The polluting effect of burning kerosene for light. But the statist rarely stays around long enough to determine whether his “solution” may have caused another problem.

The statist Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of the 1970s were intended to cut gasoline use, which would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, the more fuel-efficient cars have allowed drivers to pay less and, well, drive more. The statist rarely mentions that in 1970 we imported twenty percent of our oil. The “solution” did not work. Today, we import sixty percent of our oil.

And what about trade-offs? In order to meet standards imposed by Congress, we began to build smaller and lighter vehicles. The evidence indicates that thousands die annually in these smaller, lighter cars. But, remember the mantra: Earth first!

Indeed, urban planners are talking more and more about the concept of “smart growth.” The goal of these planners is to establish a closer balance with the ecosystem by forcing man into increasingly dense areas where cars are not needed. Instead, people rely on public transportation and bicycle paths. The statist may insist he is not a communist. But, clearly, he wants to bring people closer together and establish a communal existence.

What appears, at times, to be a lack of continuity in the statist’s message can best be explained by the statist’s insatiable appetite for problems, which provide opportunities for statist solutions. For example, in 1975, Newsweek ran an article called “The Cooling World.” In it, they concluded that “The central fact is that after these three-quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down.” In 2008, Newsweek ran a piece called “Global Warming Is a Cause of This Year’s Extreme Weather.”

But the statist is not merely satisfied with monitoring the weather affecting everyone who ventures out-of-doors. In California, statists are currently considering “programmable communicating thermostats” for all new homes in the Golden State. These devices will allow power authorities to set air conditioning and heat levels in private homes in accordance with what they deem to be the public good.

Don’t think for a moment that the statist will fail in his attempt to control every inch of our private property in search of “solutions” to environmental “problems.” The federal government has already (in 1992) outlawed the 3.5-gallon toilet and replaced it with the 1.6-gallon toilet. A government that can control the inner workings of a bathroom is, indeed, a statist’s dream. But we will flush these and other issues out in a third, and final, installment tomorrow.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of Liberty and Tyranny, by Mark Levin.


"Empathy" Versus Law

by Thomas Sowell

There is a reason why the statue of Justice wears a blindfold. There are things that courts are not supposed to see or recognize when making their decisions-- the race you belong to, whether you are rich or poor, and other personal things that could bias decisions by judges and juries. It is an ideal that a society strives for, even if particular judges or juries fall short of that ideal. Now, however, President Barack Obama has repudiated that ideal itself by saying that he wants to appoint judges with "empathy" for particular groups.

This was not an isolated slip of the tongue. Barack Obama said the same thing during last year's election campaign. Moreover, it is completely consistent with his behavior and associations over a period of years-- and inconsistent with fundamental principles of American government and society.

Nor is this President Obama's only attempt to remake American society. Barack Obama's vision of America is one in which a President of the United States can fire the head of General Motors, tell banks how to bank, control the medical system and take charge of all sorts of other activities for which neither he nor other politicians have any expertise or experience.

The Constitution of the United States gives no president, nor the entire federal government, the authority to do such things. But spending trillions of dollars to bail out all sorts of companies buys the power to tell them how to operate.

Appointing judges to the federal courts-- including the Supreme Court-- who believe in expanding the powers of the federal government to make arbitrary decisions, choosing who will be winners and losers in the economy and in the society, is perfectly consistent with a vision of the world where self-confident and self-righteous elites rule according to their own notions, instead of merely governing under the restraints of the Constitution.

If all this can be washed down with pious talk about "empathy," so much the better for those who want to remake America. Now that the Obama administration has a Congressional majority that is virtually unstoppable, and a media that is wholly uncritical, the chances of preventing the president from putting someone on the Supreme Court who shares his desire to turn America into a different country are slim or none.

The only thing on the side of those who understand this, and who oppose it, is time. Reshaping the Supreme Court cannot be done overnight, the way Congress passed a vast spending bill in two days.

Replacing Supreme Court justices is something that can only be done one at a time and at unpredictable intervals. What this means is that Senators who do not have enough votes to stop an Obama nominee for the High Court from being confirmed nevertheless have an opportunity- and a duty-- to alert the public to the dangers of what is being done.

This does not mean turning confirmation hearings into a circus or a kangaroo court with mud-slinging at judicial nominees, the way Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were smeared. But it also does not mean taking the path of least resistance by quietly voting for people like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer, who treat the Constitution as a grant of arbitrary power to themselves, rather than a restriction of power on the government as a whole.

It is all too easy to say "a president has a right to appoint the kind of people he wants on the Supreme Court." He does. But that does not mean that those who don't have the votes to stop dangerous nominees from being confirmed are obliged to vote for them or to stand mute.

Since Justice David Souter is likely to be replaced by another liberal, it is all too easy to say that it is no big deal. But with all the indications already as to how the Obama administration is trying to remake America on many fronts, the time to begin alerting the public to the dangers is now.

Given the age and health of other Supreme Court justices, more replacements are likely during Obama's time in the White House. Time is an opportunity to mobilize public opinion and perhaps change the composition of the Senate that confirms judicial nominees.

But time by itself does nothing. It is what we do with time that matters.



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

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

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


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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Vichy France lives on

The Vichy regime were Nazi collaborators in WWII

Our friend Fern Oppenheim points us to the video of Israel haters scouring a French supermarket to remove Israeli products from the shelf. There isn't a manager in sight. All the shoppers go about their business like it is 1942 Vichy France. The video was apparently shot in the northeastern suburbs of Paris that gained attention as the scene of the mysterious French "youth" riots of 2005.

UPDATE: Reader Martin Adamson picks up on the video's self-identified provenance:

This video is even more grotesque than you think. It was shot in a suburb of Paris called Aulnay-sous-Bois. The next-door town to Aulnay is called Drancy, about one mile away. Drancy was used by the Nazis between 1942-1944 as a deportation holding camp for the Jews of Paris prior to the deportation to the extermination camps in eastern Europe. Sixty-five thoursand Jews passed through Drancy, of whom 63,000 were killed. In other words, the Israeli boycotters have chosen, of all the supermarkets in France, the one closest to France's most important Holocaust memorial site. Look on Google Maps to see how close they are.

SOURCE (See the original for links and video)

Hawaii lawmakers back the creation of 'Islam Day'

Hawaii's state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday to celebrate "Islam Day" _ over the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn't want to honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001. The Senate's two Republicans argued that a minority of Islamic extremists have killed many innocents in terrorist attacks.

"I recall radical Islamists around the world cheering the horrors of 9/11. That is the day all civilized people of all religions should remember," said Republican Sen. Fred Hemmings to the applause of more than 100 people gathered in the Senate to oppose a separate issue _ same-sex civil unions.

The resolution to proclaim Sept. 24, 2009, as Islam Day passed the Senate on a 22-3 vote. It had previously passed the House. The bill seeks to recognize "the rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions" that Islam and the Islamic world have made. It does not call for any spending or organized celebration of Islam Day.

"We are a state of tolerance. We understand that people have different beliefs," said Sen. Will Espero, a Democrat. "We may not all agree on every single item and issue out there, but to say and highlight the negativity of the Islamic people is an insult to the majority" of believers "who are good law-abiding citizens of the world."

But Republican Sen. Sam Slom argued that the United States has become too sympathetic toward Islamic extremists. "I don't think there's any country in the history of the world that has been more tolerant than the United States of America, and because of that tolerance, we've looked the other way a lot of times, and many thousands of our citizens have been killed by terrorists," said Slom, a Republican.

The lone Democrat voting against the bill opposed it on church-state separation fears


1964 Act Should Guard Individual, Not Groups

by Mary Grabar

When I teach Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Republican Convention speech to my college students, the few students who know who Barry Goldwater was usually claim that he was a reactionary racist. They’ve learned their lessons well from an educational system that presents any opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as ipso facto racism.

Goldwater opposed the Act on constitutional grounds, specifically titles II and VII, which allowed federal regulation of public accommodations and employment. Now the Supreme Court is hearing the case of Ricci v. De Stefano regarding denial of promotion to New Haven firefighters who scored the highest on a test for advancement.

The problem was that of the top 15 scorers, 14 were white and one was Hispanic. No African-American firefighters qualified for promotion, so the city, after disruption of meetings by protestors, claimed that the 1964 act compelled them to disregard the exam results. So they decided to forgo promotions. Plaintiffs don’t question the act, but the use of “intentional discrimination” in adhering to the statute, according to lawyer Peter S. Ferrara.

I do not question this strategy, but do think that much harm has been meted out by the 1964 Act. How illogical is this? The ACLU and LatinoJustice filed an amicus brief against the high-scoring Hispanic firefighter (and the 14 others), claiming that no one’s rights were violated.

The act has had a chilling effect on employment practices, with employers “voluntarily” going to great lengths to avoid the perception of discrimination by tailoring jobs and offering higher salaries for just such “protected classes.”

Goldwater’s principled resistance to public pressures, like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington, helped cost him the election. It’s not that Goldwater did not work on behalf of equality and integration. He was a member of the NAACP, and as city councilman in Phoenix, he led the struggle to end segregation in the city’s public schools. As a U.S. senator, he hired a black woman as his first staff assistant—long before affirmative action laws.

Other actions by conservatives, like the Young Americans for Freedom’s threat to leave the Florida hotel where they were holding their first national convention in 1963 if the owners did not allow Jay Parker, a black board member to stay, demonstrate convictions without need of grandstanding.

Such history can be found, not in textbooks or mainstream media, but in Professor Donald T. Critchlow’s “The Conservative Ascendancy,” where he also recounts how 40,000 civil rights demonstrators denounced Goldwater at the 1964 convention as “Hitler”-- after moderate Republicans like William Scranton started a smear campaign based on Goldwater’s opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Continuing the campaign, then-CBS reporter Daniel Schorr spread the lie that Goldwater, in an effort to appeal to right-wing elements in the U.S., was planning to meet with right wing (Nazi) representatives on a trip to Germany. Goldwater was partly of Jewish heritage and did not have the trip planned until after the convention. But such smears continue. D.L. Hughley, former host of a CNN program, remarked that the 2008 GOP convention looked “like Nazi Germany.”

The New Haven case has proven Goldwater’s prescience, though. Such rigging towards racial outcomes violates principles of fairness and undermines confidence in the abilities of certain groups. Yet, such efforts continue apace with moves to eliminate other tests like the ACT and SAT for college admissions because Asians and whites perform better as groups. We do not live our lives as groups, but as individuals.

We should follow the lead of Barry Goldwater and walk the walk, and forget the talk of the anti-constitutional advocacy groups who would sacrifice the dignity of the individual Hispanic in order to advance their own cause as saviors of groups of victims.


More disrespect for a Christian heritage

Queen’s Trinity Cross honour deemed unlawful by Britain's Privy Council, sitting as a court of appeal: Unlawful in terms of the Trinidad & Tobago constitution, not in terms of Britain's constitution, as Britain has no written constitution, just a set of customs. Unmentioned below is why the medal is called the "Trinity" cross. "Trinidad" is Spanish for Trinity. Will they change the name of their island now too?

Old medal above, replacement below

An honour established by the Queen has been declared unlawful after Muslims and Hindus complained that its Christian name and cross insignia were offensive. The Trinity Cross of the Order of Trinity was established by the Queen 40 years ago to recognise distinguished service and gallantry in the former colony of Trinidad and Tobago. It has been received by 62 people including the cricketers Garfield Sobers and Brian Lara, the novelist V. S. Naipaul and many of the islands’ leading politicians and diplomats.

The Privy Council in London has ruled that the decoration is unconstitutional because it discriminates against non-Christians. Five British law lords said that the creation of the honour breached the right to equality and the right to freedom of conscience and belief. The implications of the ruling on British decorations are being studied by lawyers at the Cabinet Office, which oversees the honours system. A spokesman said: “We have noted the judgment and are monitoring the situation.”

A parliamentary review of British honours has already recommended streamlining the system with new titles that have no reference to Christian saints or symbols.

The Trinity Cross was established in 1969 and took precedence over all other decorations except the Victoria Cross and George Cross. The title and choice of insignia followed six years of consultation and research of national awards in other countries. Questions were raised, though, about the overtly Christian nature of the words “Trinity” and “Cross” and the use of a cross insignia, which led to some of those nominated refusing to accept the decoration. Lord Hope of Craighead, in his Privy Council judgment, said that the Trinity Cross was “perceived by Hindus and Muslims living in Trinidad and Tobago as an overtly Christian symbol both in name and in substance”. He said that it breached the islands’ Constitution of 1976.

The law lords refused to make the order retrospective, meaning that the recipients will not be stripped of their honours.

The legal case had been brought by groups representing Trinidad and Tobago’s Muslim and Hindu communities, which account for about 30 per cent of the Caribbean islands’ population of 1.3 million. The High Court of Trinidad and Tobago ruled in 2004 that the decoration discriminated against non-Christians but said that it did not have the power to invalidate the royal order. The Court of Appeal upheld the ruling. The island’s Cabinet has already agreed that the name of its highest national award should be renamed the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and that the Order of the Trinity would become the Distinguished Society of Trinidad and Tobago. They also said that the decoration would be redesigned, with the cross replaced by a medal.

The islands, which attained independence in 1962, are among the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean. The Queen is expected to visit in November when they host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

A review of the British honours system by the Commons Public Administration Select Committee in 2004 recommended reducing the number of decorations from twelve to four, with the new proposed titles having no reference to the Cross or Christian saints. Paul Flynn, a Labour member of the committee, said: “The titles are now meaningless, they are the remnant of another age and I don’t think they have any particular Christian significance.” The committee did not consider the issue of religious discrimination, with most of the controversy relating to the use of the word Empire in honours titles and the confusing and archaic nature of the system.

Benjamin Zephaniah, the black poet, publicly rejected his honour in 2003, saying that the title of the Order of the British Empire gave an impression of white supremacy. Last year Christine Grahame, an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, described the George Medal, one of the highest civilian awards for bravery, as “clearly very Anglocentric” and unsuitable for Scots. She suggested replacing it with a nationalist award such as a “St Andrews Medal”.

Hugh Peskett, editor-in-chief of Burke’s Peerage and Gentry, said that changing the names of titles to remove their Christian references would destroy hundreds of years of history. “Part of the significance of an honour is its antiquity and I can see no reason why they should be changed,” he said.



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

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

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


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Friday, May 08, 2009

Michael Savage tells his listeners to boycott Britain

The American “shock jock” radio host Michael Savage, who was included on a Home Office list of 16 people banned from entering the country, last night urged his listeners to boycott Britain. He told his audience that Americans should not travel to Britain or buy British goods, and delivered a personal message to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, who made the decision to include him on the list of unwanted foreigners: “Unless you remove my name forthwith, unless you admit you made a mistake, I will bring a major libel suit against you personally and I will win.”

Mr Savage opened fire on the Home Secretary on the conservative news website WorldNetDaily, where he said that his message to her and the British people was: “Shame on you. Shame that you’ve fallen to such a low level.”

“It’s interesting to me that here I am, a talk show host who does not advocate violence, who advocates patriotic traditional values — borders, language, culture — who is now on a list banned in England.

“What does that say about the Government of England? It says more about them than it says about me.” Mr Savage, 67, said that he had no plans to travel to Britain, which he last visited more than 20 years ago, and joked to the San Francisco Chronicle: “My first thought was, damn, there goes the summer trip where I planned to have my dental work done. [Britain's dental care is so bad that some Britons have been forced to pull out their own teeth with pliers] My second thought was, darn, there goes my visit to the restaurants of England for their great cuisine.” [British food preparation can be unbelievably bad]

Yesterday the Home Office faced further criticism as it emerged that most of the 15 other people on the list had not attempted to visit Britain either.

Appearing alongside Mr Savage on the list are Yunis al-Astal, the Hamas MP, and the Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky, two leaders of a violent Russian skinhead gang, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Stephen “Don” Black and the neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe.

Two of them are serving 20-year jail sentences in Russia, and a Home Office spokesman admitted that people placed on the list had not necessarily intended or sought to come to Britain. He said that Ms Smith placed people on the list after receiving submissions from officials.

Last night, in an apparent attempt to counter Mr Savage’s criticism, one of Mrs Smith’s aides released a series of quotes from the DJ as proof of his history of making “outrageous and deeply offensive remarks”.

Listed among Mr Savage’s statements was the view that “children’s minds are being raped by the homosexual mafia”, and he told listeners that they faced a choice with regard to Muslims as to whether “we disappear or we die. Or would you rather they (Muslims) disappear and they die?”

Mark Stephens, of the London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, said: “He would seem to have a very good case. The people on the list who have been banned are supposed to be advocating extreme violence and so to put him into that category is clearly defamatory.”


They're still attacking a beautiful Christian lady

Miss California Carrie Prejean could be stripped of her title after organisers say she breached her contract by keeping topless photos secret. In April Ms Prejean made headlines at the Miss USA beauty pageant with her outspoken opposition to gay marriage, which she says cost her that title. Ms Prejean says the publication of the pictures were an attempt to silence her for "defending traditional marriages".

A spokesman for the pageant said her disqualification was being discussed. Apart from not being up front over the semi-nude pictures which appeared on an internet site, organisers of the Miss California USA pageant say Carrie Prejean also breached her contract by appearing unauthorised in commercials.

Ms Prejean said in a statement she posed for the photos which show her topless but with her arm covering most of her breast when she was 17, hoping to become a lingerie model. She described the publication of the pictures as an attempt to "openly mock me for my Christian faith". "I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos," she said.

Roger Neat, a spokesman for the Miss California USA pageant, said organisers and lawyers were "going over the legalities and clearly she breached her contract". Talks with the runner-up in the Miss California competition were being held, to discuss "the possible next steps".

During the Miss USA pageant last month Carrie Prejean said she believed that "a marriage should be between a man and a woman". Last week Ms Prejean announced that she would star in new $1.5m ad campaign funded by the National Organization for Marriage, a group that is opposed to same-sex marriage.


Steve Sailer comments on the latest shilly-shallying about IQ

In "The Case for Colorblindness in the Age of Genetics," William Saletan responds to a John McWhorter post in The New Republic entitled "Lions and Sailers and Bears, Oh My!--Why Saletan Thinks We Should Keep the Black-White Performance Gap Under Wraps."Saletan writes:
McWhorter casually dismisses the less-intelligence theory and its blogger-advocate Steve Sailer, with whom I tangled yesterday. Why? Because McWhorter is confident that his alternative theory, based on language, can explain racial gaps in test scores. In his commentary on the New Haven case, McWhorter lays out the theory: Working-class blacks and whites communicate orally rather than in writing, and they're unfamiliar with the art of answering direct questions. I'm sure there's truth in this theory. But McWhorter offers no quantitative evidence for it. Nor does it address some of the most difficult evidence presented by proponents of the genetic theory: whites outscoring blacks even when the class factor skews the other way. In his rebuttal to my original article on the NAEP data, for instance, Sailer notes:

Here's the 2007 8th grade Reading scores broken down by race and income. White kids whose parents are so poor that they are eligible for the National School Lunch Program outscore affluent black kids by four points and affluent Hispanic kids by one point. The gap between poor whites and poor blacks is 19 points, and the gap among not poor whites and not poor blacks is 21 points. That's what you normally get—sizable racial gaps anyway you slice it.

Is Sailer a nice guy? No. Does he display an unhealthy interest in categorizing people by race or ethnicity? Yes. But the problem here isn't Sailer, James Watson, Charles Murray, or anybody else you feel like dismissing as a racist. [Whew! I dodged a bullet there. For a moment I thought he was going to lump me in with not only Charles Murray and James D. Watson, but also with Francis Crick, Arthur Jensen, William D. Hamilton, Ronald A. Fisher, Francis Galton, and Charles Darwin. Please don't throw me in that briar patch!] The problem is the evidence these people quote. Condemnation won't make it go away.

Don't get me wrong. Genetic and environmental explanations aren't mutually exclusive. In the case of IQ, everybody accepts environmental factors, and there's plenty of evidence and argument against the hereditarian view. But that's just one battle in a larger war. Beyond the march of test scores, there's the onslaught of genetic research. We've already identified genes that correlate with traits and vary in prevalence between ethnic groups. Are you confident that intelligence will turn out to be exempt from this list? Confident enough to leave no backup plan, no understanding of equality that can withstand a partial role for heredity? Confident enough to keep tallying and reporting test scores by race? And if intelligence turns out not to vary genetically between groups, do you imagine that we'll get just as lucky with every other significant mental trait?

If you want to know why I keep writing about this subject, Mr. McWhorter, there's your answer. No, I don't care about the merit badge. I'm staring over your shoulder at an oncoming train. It starts with genomic differentiation of populations around the world, and that's just the locomotive. If you turn around and look, you'll see that the first few cars are already in view: genes that affect mental traits, genes that affect abilities, and variations between populations in the prevalence of these genes. No genetically distinguishable population will be spared. We're sitting in the path of this train, tied to the tracks by a literalist conception of equality that can't accept hereditary differences between group averages. I suggest we free ourselves.

Under these circumstances, do I think gaps between average white and black test scores should "shed less than positive light on black people"? No, I don't. Each of us should be judged by his own performance, not by a stereotype. Genetic variation between averages doesn't alter that moral truth. Nor does it give anyone an excuse.

Okay, but that's not how Barack Obama thinks, nor is it how the federal government think. For decades, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has enforced the Four-Fifths Rule:

"A selection rate for any race, sex, or ethnic group which is less than four-fifths (4/5) (or eighty percent) of the rate for the group with the highest rate will generally be regarded by the Federal enforcement agencies as evidence of adverse impact, while a greater than four-fifths rate will generally not be regarded by Federal enforcement agencies as evidence of adverse impact."

In other words, if 50 percent of whites pass the test, 40 percent or more of each minority group must pass the test, or the burden of proof is on the employer to vindicate the selection process. This can be so expensive and uncertain that many employers just impose hiring and promotion quotas upon themselves.

The four-fifths rule is as the heart of the Ricci fireman's case.

Really, Mr. Saletan should take up his argument with Mr. Obama.


NY: The Least Free State

A new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Freedom in the 50 States, is the most comprehensive effort to date to rank the states on how their public policies influence "individual freedom in the economic, social and personal spheres." It includes dozens of variables, from social and personal freedoms (such as parents' right to educate their own children) to regulatory freedom (such as the degree of occupational licensing requirements) to fiscal liberty (as measured, for instance, by states' debt burdens, which represent a constraint on future generations). Finishing dead last in the study's freedom index is New York State.

New York earns that dubious distinction "by a wide margin," the study reports. Businesses operating in the state won't be astonished to hear that its economic freedom is poor, thanks to a tentacular bureaucratic regulatory regime, a civil justice system that favors plaintiffs over defendants, and high taxes and crushing per-capita government debt. But New York's citizens, who like to consider themselves enlightened and socially permissive, might be surprised at how low their state ranks on the study's index of personal freedom--third from the bottom. That's because in New York, personal freedoms are often narrowly defined as liberties that Albany politicians deem suitable for citizens to enjoy. Otherwise, state policy is extremely restrictive. The study notes, for instance, that while New York has liberal gambling laws, regulations on home schooling are extensive, eminent-domain laws are confiscatory, and mandates on health insurance limit New Yorkers' choices.

What are the consequences of New Yorkers' lack of freedom? The best way to judge is to look at the collective condition of the states with the worst rankings. Joining New York at the bottom of the index is New Jersey, in 49th place, followed by Rhode Island and California. Together, New York, New Jersey, and California face some $65 billion in budget deficits in 2009, amounting to more than two-thirds of the budget gaps faced by all 50 states. These states' stratospheric spending and taxes have stifled economic growth and left them scarily unprepared for the economic downturn.

Job growth has been lousy, too. New Jersey has just completed a decade of virtually no private-sector job gains, even during the boom years that preceded today's steep recession. Meantime, Rhode Island's unemployment rate is the third-highest in the country, followed by California's. The bottom-ranking states have also gained reputations as the places that citizens most want to flee. California, New Jersey, and New York (and Rhode Island, too, relative to its small population) have among the highest levels in the country of domestic out-migration--that is, leaving one state for another.

What a contrast with the study's freest states: New Hampshire, Colorado, South Dakota, Idaho, and Texas. All have unemployment rates at or below the national average (New Hampshire's is 5.1 percent, or 3 points below the nation's, according to February's Labor Department statistics). Every one of these states is also a net winner in terms of domestic migration, with far more U.S. citizens entering than leaving.

The Mercatus study makes clear that what ails New York cannot be boiled down to any one of its curbs on freedom, whether it's a high income-tax rate, restrictions on development, or a bureaucratic licensing regime. Rather, New York suffers from the vise grip that Albany's politicians have on life in general. Reform, therefore, won't be as simple as cutting a tax or eliminating a regulation. New York needs fundamental change that makes the state democratic again, and it needs reform candidates willing to push for that change.

Such candidates would battle to remove the right of legislative redistricting from state lawmakers--who protect themselves when they draw voting districts so that 98 percent of them get reelected--and give it to a nonpartisan commission, charged with redrawing districts to make them competitive again, as states like Iowa and Arizona have done. A reform agenda might also include instituting term limits to eliminate Albany's lifetime sinecures, as well as adding greater transparency to state and local government operations by making expenditures and contracts available in greater detail online, so that citizens can see firsthand how their tax dollars get spent.

Undemocratic and unfree countries often restrict the flow of their businesses to other, more appealing, places. Since New York State doesn't have that option, its long decline will continue--unless it has a new birth of freedom.



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

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

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


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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Homophobia: Pathology or New Path?

From guest blogger, BroKen

A number of clinical psychologists are finding a persistent group of patients who are unable to overcome their condition despite years of therapy. These psychologists are beginning to suspect that the condition is not a pathology but actually an undocumented expression in human behavior. The condition: homophobia.

Dr. I. M. Fine, an unofficial spokesperson for these psychologists, describes the typical patient with this condition. “They come to us with a great deal of guilt. Family and friends have been telling them for years that they need help. So they are highly motivated to change. While a few have made progress after sensitivity training, there is a persistent core group that never gets it. We’ve decided that it must be normal for them.”

Those suffering with this condition come from all walks of life. Stereotypes of poor red-necks no longer fit as homophobia can be found everywhere from night clubs and churches, to country clubs and ghettos. In fact, you can find it almost anywhere but university faculties. Dr. Fine explains how the condition has gone unnoticed for so long. “For most of our history people could live their whole lifetime without encountering fear inducing stimulus. Nowadays it seems our patients can never find a safe place.”

One patient of Dr. Fine, who asked that we not give her name, told us, “I used to go years without an incident. Now, I’ll be watching TV and a Richard Simmons infomercial comes on, or a re-run of Will and Grace, and BAM! I’m talking to Ralph on the big white phone!” (She means throwing up in the toilet. Ed.)

Studies of the phenomenon are rare since this perspective on homophobia is still in its infancy. Dr. Fine tells of a "twin study" to determine whether there is a genetic cause. But there is a lot more work to be done. He explains, “I have a colleague using DNA sequencing to find genetic markers or even a specific gene which determines homophobia. But he is having trouble getting the necessary funding. He suspects that 90-100 percent of the population could have that gene. If so, that would explain why isolating the gene is so difficult. Actually, my friend is homophobic himself but hasn’t come out of the closet, yet. You can imagine what people would say about his data if they knew he had the condition. He is a courageous man but he is afraid he would lose tenure if people knew.” (Dr. Norm Allmann refused to be interviewed for this article. Ed.)

Gayle Esbienne, spokesperson for the National Deeply Confused Individuals Task Force, believes Dr. Fine and his patients are “mean-spirited dweebs who should shut their %$@#& mouths.” The NDCITF recommends mandatory isolation of homophobic people in camps which will provide re-education and re-programming… or death.

But Dr. Fine is still speaking up for the tragic victims of this pernicious social stigma. He asks, “Did you know that in almost every state, a homophobic person can be denied service in a restaurant? It is so unfair. These people can’t help the way they were born!” Another patient echoes this sentiment. “Do you think I want to live like this? I want to get married and raise a family like everyone else. Why won’t people just let me be me?"

One troubling development is that some of Dr. Fine’s patients have taken a militant stance. Last week we found a few in front of a cable news channel with signs which read, “Straight isn’t Twisted” and “Homophobic! Loud and Proud.”

As the question of homophobia plays out on the stage of America, one thing is sure. The more controversy we journalists create, the more money we make.

SOURCE (Satire)

You Can't Say That On Television

Unless you're on cable, satellite, or an Internet stream

On December 9, 2002, Cher received a lifetime achievement trophy at the Billboard Music Awards. Overcome with emotion, the Armenian-American singer noted that she had faced "critics for the last 40 years saying that I was on my way out every year." Then she added, "Fuck 'em." Fox broadcast the scene live, f-bomb and all.

So began an epidemic of unexpected expletives at award shows. A month later, as NBC transmitted the Golden Globes, the singer/lobbyist Bono announced that his Best Song prize was "really, really fucking brilliant." And in December 2003, when the Billboard Music Awards came on Fox again, the reality TV star Nicole Richie asked the audience, "Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It's not so fucking simple."

Before the contagion could spread, the Federal Communications Commission stepped in. After initially announcing that Bono's comment was acceptable—his phrase "may be crude and offensive," the regulators had declared, "but, in the context presented here, did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities"—the agency reversed itself, ruling that broadcasters could be fined for airing even fleeting, unplanned cussing at live events. The f-word, it explained, was "one of the most vulgar, graphic, and explicit words for sexual activity in the English language," and there was no place for it on television.

No place, that is, except the hundreds of channels that the content cops weren't allowed to regulate. When it came to "indecent" images and language, the Bush-era FCC toughened its rules, increased its fines, and stepped up its enforcement, but the commission's grip on mass communications wasn't as complete as it used to be; as cable and then the Internet exploded, the area outside the indecency police's grasp was growing. Like the sheriff of a dry county surrounded by rowdy biker bars, the FCC could make life miserable for the people under its jurisdiction but it couldn't do a thing about what was going on right next door.

The crackdown was bipartisan—the noisiest censor at the commission, Michael Copps, is a Democrat—but it was a post-Clinton development. In the '90s the networks had started to behave as though they had the same liberties as their cable competitors: You could hear the word "piss" on Northern Exposure, see Dennis Franz's bare butt on NYPD Blue, watch Schindler's List—naked bodies and all!—in prime time on NBC. In 1997, when then-congressman Tom Coburn complained about the latter program's "full-frontal nudity, violence, and profanity," he was roundly mocked for treating an earnest Holocaust drama like it was Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. In 2004, by contrast, after the clampdown was underway, several ABC affiliates refused to air an equally earnest Spielberg picture, the World War II drama Saving Private Ryan. In a model example of a chilling effect, the stations feared the government would fine them for the film's rough language.

Yet while the FCC was reasserting control of its corner of the media, audiences were exiting in ever-greater numbers for non-network news and entertainment. If you wanted to see a singing turd on South Park, or Tony Soprano screwing a stripper in a back room at the Bing, or a bestiality film on a fetish site—well, there wasn't anything the commission could do about that. But a fleeting expletive at an awards show: That was fair game.

Whether it stays fair game is another matter. After the commission declared that Cher-style vulgarity was verboten, the major broadcast networks jointly filed a suit to stop the policy. Their case has been bopping up and down the courts for several years now. This week the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept a procedural argument against the FCC's orders, but the justices left the door open to later declaring the rules an unconstitutional infringement on speech. For now the legal battle will return to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, from where it will probably crawl back up to the Supremes.

When the justices wrote their reactions to the case, some of the sharpest comments came in Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion. While siding with the commission on the technical legal question immediately at hand, Thomas signaled his sympathy with the argument that the rules violate the First Amendment. The two precedents that supported the FCC's authority—1969's Red Lion decision, which upheld the Fairness Doctrine, and 1978's Pacifica decision, which upheld the government's right to restrict indecent language—"were unconvincing when they were issued," Thomas wrote, "and the passage of time has only increased doubt regarding their continued validity." He continued:
Broadcast spectrum is significantly less scarce than it was 40 years ago....Moreover, traditional broadcast television and radio are no longer the "uniquely pervasive" media forms they once were. For most consumers, traditional broadcast media programming is now bundled with cable or satellite services....Broadcast and other video programming is also widely available over the Internet....And like radio and television broadcasts, Internet access is now often freely available over the airwaves and can be accessed by portable computer, cell phones, and other wireless devices....The extant facts that drove this Court to subject broadcasters to unique disfavor under the First Amendment simply do not exist today.
There is no credible reason we shouldn't have the same right to free expression on the FM and VHF bands that we have when using WiFi or cable. Now, there are those in the commission, the courts, and the Congress who would resolve the contradiction by extending the indecency rules' reach to cable and cyberspace. But if the courts respect the language of the First Amendment, they'll extend the reach of free speech instead.

In the meantime, the FCC is simultaneously empowered and impotent, an agency reduced to chasing passing curse words on network TV while cable subscribers enjoy unhindered access to Spice and the Playboy Channel. The bad news is that the courts might tell the commission it's within its rights when it censors the networks. The good news is that the free speech zone outside the FCC's dominion keeps growing


Muslim preacher of hate is freed early from jail in Britain

This guy does plenty of incitement to violence and incitement to violence is not normally protected by free speech laws -- not that there's much free speech in Britain anyway

One of Britain's most notorious preachers of hate is back on the streets after being freed early from jail. Abu Izzadeen, who publicly confronted John Reid when he was Home Secretary, had his jail term reduced by the Appeal Court - along with four other extremists convicted of supporting terror. The ruling meant the ranting fanatic and a number of his fellow hardliners could immediately walk free because they had already done half of their reduced prison terms.

Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said the men were a danger to society. 'Abu Izzadeen and his organisation publicly call for attacks against those whom they see as enemies of Islam,' he said. 'Their ideology not only glorifies violent jihad but teaches their followers that taking part in suicide bombings is their duty as Muslims. 'The early release of a hate preacher like Abu Izzadeen demonstrates that the British courts are still far away from understanding the very clear and present danger that this country is facing from militant Islamists.'

Izzadeen - who was born a Christian with the name Omar Brooks, later changing his first name to Trevor - was jailed for four and a half years last April for inciting and raising funds for terrorism. He and fellow British-born Muslim convert Simon Keeler were handed the same jail term after making a series of rabble-rousing speeches at a central London mosque. Four fellow fanatics were also jailed. The defendants were all members of an extreme Islamist group known as Al-Muhajiroun, which has been banned only to allegedly regroup under a different name.

They made speeches in November 2004 outside the Regent's Park Mosque in London - at the same time as U.S. and British soldiers were fighting fierce battles against insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq. The court heard the men urged their audience to join the fight against coalition forces and to donate money to insurgent groups. Izzadeen was also recorded voicing his support for Osama Bin Laden.

Izzadeen, who lives in East London, walked free on Saturday. His release has been celebrated on extremist Islamic websites. Three other defendants also had their sentences reduced. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'All offenders subject to probation supervision on release from prison have to adhere to a set of strict conditions.'


The power of numbers

"Malki will never become just another number," we vowed, days after our daughter was murdered in the August 2001 terror attack on Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria. We never imagined that she could ever fade into less than "just a number." Yet that is what has happened to her in the mindset of Israel's spokesmen...

Like Malki, the scores of Israeli children murdered since October 2000 have been forgotten. Their precise number has never been tallied by our government, let alone publicized in the international media.

Deflated statistics of Israeli children murdered by Palestinians in this millennium have been widely disseminated on Palestinian Web sites. There they are cited in comparison with the far greater numbers of Palestinian children killed in this conflict.

The refrain "numbers speak louder than words" is now being brandished obsessively in columns and reports about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the number of Gazan civilians killed in Operation Cast Lead, the number of Gazan houses destroyed, the number of Gazan women and children injured. Their impact on world opinion is immeasurable.

Here is what Prof. Rashid Khalidi wrote about numbers in an op-ed piece that appeared in the New York Times this past January, while the Gaza campaign was underway: "But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers."

There is no doubt that Palestinian numbers have won many hearts and minds. The recent resurgence of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism - January and February saw a sharp rise worldwide - is, in many instances, testimony to that.

The numbers cited by the Palestinians dodge issues and trump logic. They obviate the need to explain how Israel is supposed to react to attacks on its civilians without incurring the ire of "human rights" defenders. Those numbers ignore the dilemma Israel faces when its enemy hides in hospitals and in apartment buildings filled with women and children and other noncombatants.

But the numbers "game" is not played for fun and we can no longer afford to ignore it. Israel's security depends to a large extent on how it scores in this unsavory game. Unfortunately, our spokesmen have been derelict in their duty by failing to arm themselves with fighting numbers.

The murders of 144 innocent Israeli children, targeted while they played, ate, studied, hiked or rode buses to and from school over the past eight years, are a potent verbal weapon. Not one of those children was armed, not one was caught in soldiers' crossfire, not one was used as a human shield by Israeli soldiers.

These 144 children provide a context for much of the IDF's activities since terrorism became a major threat in October 2000. This number explains the checkpoints, the security fence, the arrests, and even Operation Cast Lead - all of which have ignited venomous vilification of Israel. Against the backdrop of our murdered children, Israel's conduct can fairly be viewed as not only justified, but unavoidable.

Our phone calls and written inquiries to the appropriate government bodies failed to yield publication of the forgotten number. The tally was reached, rather, by reading the complete list of terror victims posted on the Web site of Israel's Foreign Ministry and counting the children one by one.

Why our diplomats have chosen to conceal the children bombed, shot and stabbed to death by Palestinians remains a conundrum. But it is not too late to rectify the error. In numbers, at times, there can be strength.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The "tolerant" haters of Miss California

They sure show what a sham their tolerance is and what a reality their hate is

There was a day when even the word "prostitute" was not used in mixed company, even to describe women who actually were in fact prostitutes. Manliness constrained their speech, and pseudonyms were substituted like "lady of the night."

It's understandable that males who prefer women's underwear and their mother's earrings would be jealous of someone like Carrie. But it is unacceptable from any person heterosexual or homosexual to abide the types of things these two males have uttered within the last week concerning Miss California. Oh yes, and you can add to that the rather saddest excuse for manhood in prime time cable today Keith Olbermann.

Their criticism was beyond just differing on points of substance. Like pigs they wallowed in rhetorical feces, smeared it on their faces, as well as each others, and then belched it out across the airwaves.

On Friday night Musto, in particular, was extraordinarily girlish and cowardly:

"She's dumb and twisted, she's sort of like a human Klaus Barbie doll..."

"This is the kind of girl who sits on the TV and watches the sofa..."

"She thinks that innuendo is an Italian supository..."

"This girl is a ding-dong, I didn't even like her earrings..."

"Perez is the new me. Using the "C" word is something I would do..."

"Carrie Prejean really is getting something off her chest, but what she should get off is the price tag there..."

"And in the meantime she's ratcheting up so much sympathy for the gay movement, she might as well be a paid spokesmodel for them..."

"We're supposed to get rid of her for having 'falsies' and an opinion..."

"Let her deflate..."

"Her husband will be the only person in the world who wants a virgin with breast implants..."

"They also paid for Carrie to cut off her penis, sand her Adam's apple, and get a head to toe waxing..."

"I happen to know for sure that Carrie Prejean was in fact Harry Prejean a homophobic man who like marriage so much he did it three times... Now he's a babe who needs a brain implant..."

"Maybe the could inject some fat from her butt... oh they have."

Those little gems stemmed from a two minute interview conducted by Olbermann on his nightly news show in which the big breaking news of someone besides Carrie releasing her medical information was the scheduled topic to be discussed.

Had Olberman even an ounce of dignity, manhood, or integrity within him he would've cut the interview off and gone to break. But instead the adolescent boy within him kept laughing and going.

And here I sit still waiting for even one member of the cable news, or mainstream media circles to formulate an articulate defense of the beautiful, kind, compassionate woman who is being treated this way for simply answering a question honestly.

The fact that few men have had visceral reactions to this demonstrates how weak modern feminism has caused men to become.

Simply put Musto and Hilton aren't just men who struggle with some sort of unnatural attraction to other males. They aren't even, for that matter, males that practice sexual behavior with other males that mind their own business and aren't out to upend the entirety of the free world.

Musto and Hilton are angry hateful males who have no concept of what manhood is. They are jealous of Carrie for the confidence she exudes, the kindness she genuinely expresses, and for the kind of men she is able to attract.

Undoubtedly the tempers in the men who have said and expressed these diabolical statements stems from a deep and abiding hurt in their life that needs to be dealt with in mercy and kindness.

But that still doesn't give them or any of the other hateful haters who hate out there the right to rhetorically bludgeon the name and reputation of a decent woman for answering a question honestly.

In my world growing up my mother made sure that I understood several things. You always hold the door open for the ladies to go first. You never hit a woman. And you never speak to her in coarseness and filth.

In the anonymity of a television studio, or the safety of a bedroom webcam, Musto and Hilton feel they can rhetorically rape the heart and soul of Carrie Prejean. But friend, that's just pure evil. You simply do not treat a lady like that... ever.


British hospital that banned paintings of churches

Hatred of Christianity from the British elite again

It was supposed to be a kind gesture to brighten up a hospital for patients. But a council managed to enrage local artists when it asked them to contribute their paintings to hang in wards. In an unsolicited letter, Havering council in East London made it clear it would accept pictures of any subject - except churches.

The explanation given was that the hospital had to be 'mindful of all religious denominations'. Many artists could not understand why images of Christian buildings were banned, but those of other religions were welcome.

Jo Delaney, the council's arts development officer wrote to art groups in Havering about hanging paintings in Queen's Hospital, Romford. She wrote: 'Whilst the building is spacious, it has many plain black walls which are crying out to be brightened up! 'The matron of patient environment is keen for local artists to use the space as a gallery. 'The hospital has asked artists not to submit paintings of churches as they have to be mindful of all religious denominations.'

Artist Roy Storey said that when he phoned the council to complain he was told it was the matron's decision if she did not want pictures of churches. Local painter Beryl O'Brien, 71, said: 'There are so many religious beliefs, why would they pick on churches? 'What about synagogues? A painting is a good picture because it is a good composition, not because of the religion. 'It seems ridiculous to try to be so inclusive, and by doing that exclude people who are tolerant to some extent.' Mrs O'Brien said the hospital had tainted what was a 'lovely idea'. She did not know anyone who had submitted a painting yet.

A Havering council spokesman said the terms of the initiative were set by the hospital and the council had only been asked to pass on the information. A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS trust said its director of nursing had no knowledge of the letter's content and therefore it had no comment.


Political correctness is torture too

Here we go again. The latest poster conservative for political-correctness-run-amok in a country careening downhill on left-wing, Democratic cruise control is Republican congresswoman Virginia Foxx.

Mrs. Foxx's impropriety: The thought crime of arguing against "hate crime" laws by pointing out that Matthew Shepard - the tragic icon attached to the legislation - represents a salient argument against enacting them.

Mr. Shepard, the gay Wyoming teenager robbed and savagely beaten to death by drug-addled thugs in 1998, is the emotionally charged posthumous force behind the movement to pass hate crime laws. He got that way after a relentless, decadelong mainstream media, Madison Avenue and Hollywood propaganda campaign to make his death a symbol of just-beneath-the-surface sadistic intolerance toward homosexuals.

Three films, a documentary, a play and songs by Melissa Etheridge, Tori Amos and Elton John have made the gay-martyr case a high truth of pop culture. The thematically related "Boys Don't Cry" and "Brokeback Mountain" reinforced the narrative that gays like Mr. Shepard are regularly isolated for cruel and unusual attacks.

But the congresswoman is not buying the Hollywood hype. "The hate crimes bill was named for [Shepard], but it's really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills," Mrs. Foxx said on the House floor last week. Immediately, Democrats sought out their unapologetic allies in the media to force Mrs. Foxx into a perfunctory, skin-saving apology.

"The term 'hoax' was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate crimes bill," she said. "Referencing these media accounts may have been a mistake, but if so, it was a mistake based on what I believed were reliable accounts."

Even though she had the facts to make a strong case, Mrs. Foxx apologized. She realized that the PC media cabal had another sucker conservative in its cross-hairs. Yet apologies are never enough as the Democrat Media Complex trotted out Mr. Shepard's mother, Judy, to make sure that no one else can raise an objection to the controversial legislation.

Mrs. Foxx has been "apologizing for semantics, but not her sentiment, her insensitivity or her ignorance," Mrs. Shepard told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "Everyone knew Matthew's murder was a hate crime, but it couldn't be prosecuted as a hate crime. We couldn't call it a hate crime. Getting this bill passed in the House brings gay rights up to the level of equality."

Judy Shepard like other tragic symbols Cindy Sheehan, the Jersey Widows and Max Cleland are trotted out by Democrats to make their arguments not with facts and reason but with the threat that if you disagree with them, you will be publicly shamed as a "hater." This pathetic strategy works as Mrs. Foxx's instant apology illustrates.

While the basic facts of the Shepard case are accepted and the culprits are in prison for life, the motivation for the crime - as with most crimes - is not easily decipherable. But in 2004, ABC News stumbled upon a story that raised some doubt about the cut-and-dry narrative that's been relentlessly pushed by the identity-politics obsessed.

Elizabeth Vargas interviewed murderers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson along with the cast of characters involved with the case. Mrs. Vargas appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" to summarize her story:

"The prosecutor who prosecuted these crimes says that he never believed it was a hate crime. He believes it was a drug crime. Aaron McKinney, according to Aaron McKinney himself and to several other witnesses, was coming down from a five-day methamphetamine binge. He freely admits he not only used methamphetamine but dealt them, sold them. Five days up with no sleep, strung out on drugs, desperate to buy more, desperate to rob somebody to get money to buy more drugs. This was the motive, according to Aaron McKinney and the other witnesses."

One needn't bring in medical experts to explain that a five-day drug binge is not good on the body, mind and soul. Meth-fueled violent crime is a sad cliche of modern American life, yet hate crime advocates who use Mr. Shepard as their ultimate weapon want to overlook the obvious and insist on arguing the unprovable. When the case that is used to make the case for hate crime law is so fundamentally weak, what does it say about the law's very premise?

No one will ever know exactly why Matthew Shepard was killed. It's too bad that most of his advocates are against the death penalty. Because McKinney and Henderson deserve a fate worse than life behind bars.

Mrs. Foxx joins me and gay journalist Andrew Sullivan as public figures who refuse to accept the Shepard mythology. We choose not to impugn Mr. Shepard's memory or grant his murderers committed a "hate crime," when it cannot be proved. The left will not accept this because it is built around divisive identity politics. It dismisses "E Pluribus Unum," America's formerly helpful marketing slogan, and promotes strategies that ensure the fault lines of ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation are exploitable for political gain.

On college campuses, in newsrooms and now in the highest corridors of power, with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, the politically correct left is wielding its weaponry with the confidence that it can take down any group, anyone or anything. The thought police are now officially in charge.

The real hate crime these days is the Orwellian intimidation wielded by the left against those that don't think the way they do. It's worse than waterboarding.


Many serious offenders do not go to court at all in Britain

Magistrates want ministers to halt the widening of on-the-spot fines for offenders, warning that serious crimes are not reaching the courts. They have told Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, that the use of the fines in cases involving assault is undermining confidence in the justice system.

Defence solicitors say that serious offences are being dealt with inappropriately, or not at all, for lack of police time and resources. A dossier collated by Edward Garnier, QC, the Conservative justice spokesman, indicates lawyers’ concerns that their clients are being “let off” over alleged assaults and even rape rather than prosecuted. Out-of-court penalties now account for half of all cases “brought to justice” in England and Wales, and Mr Straw plans to consult on extending their scope to a further 21 offences.

According to magistrates and lawyers, the system is already being abused. Magistrates have drawn up a list of circumstances in which on-the-spot fines or penalty notices should not be used. These include where an offender has caused injury, has previous convictions or cautions for disorder offences or planned the crime. John Thornhill, of the Magistrates’ Association, said that some minor offences could be dealt with out of court but other offences should be brought before the court so that “justice can be seen to be done” and treatment — such as where there is a problem with drink or drugs — can be arranged.

Mr Straw has indicated that he may exclude shoplifting from the proposed new list of offences. Possession of cannabis is to remain on it. In a paper to Mr Straw the magistrates say that in one area of Staffordshire a solicitor has claimed that only two of 12 suspects interviewed by police are being charged. “One or two may be given a fixed penalty or caution, but the majority are being allowed to leave on the basis that there is insufficient evidence,” it says.

Mr Garnier, who approached law firms in the West Midlands, said: “Sometimes the accused gets off scot-free; sometimes they are given a caution. The solicitors say that this is partly caused by overwork and partly because the police have too much to do without chasing evidence for an over-cautious Crown Prosecution Service.” To take the matter to court “would involve too much paperwork and administrative hassle when the chances of potential witnesses coming to court to give evidence are pretty slim”.

A lawyer who had a case in which the victim of a serious assault required stitches to the head said: “We fail to see how this assault could be dealt with by way of caution as it was, according to the victim, accompanied by a threat to kill, the use of a weapon and a repeated attack.”

Mr Garnier said: “My concern is that people who on the face of it have committed serious crimes are being let off when at the very least they should be charged and prosecuted. It’s for the courts to decide the guilt or innocence of a defendant — it is not for the desk sergeant to make that decision.”

The Justice Ministry defended out-of-court penalties as an efficient use of resources: they “enable police to deal swiftly with low-level offending, freeing them to spend more time on frontline duties and investigating violent, dangerous or sexual offences as well as freeing up court time for more serious offences. Out-of-court disposals are not suitable for contested or more serious cases and would not normally be considered for those who offend repeatedly.”



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

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

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


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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Courage, and the absence of courage

by Jeff Jacoby

ARLEN SPECTER would never have made it into Profiles in Courage. Unlike the senators described in John F. Kennedy's book -- men who remained true to their principles, even when it meant paying a steep political price -- Specter has never been celebrated for his backbone.

Forty-odd years ago, Specter abandoned the Democratic Party in order to win election to Congress as a Republican; five days ago, he abandoned the Republican Party in order to win re-election as a Democrat. As he announced his defection, Specter all but admitted that he was acting out of naked political expediency. "I have . . . surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls," he told reporters, "and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak." According to a poll that had been released a few days earlier, only 30 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans were supporting Specter's re-nomination, while 51 percent favored his conservative rival.

When Vermont Senator James Jeffords defected from the GOP in 2001, Specter blasted his perfidy, and wanted senators to be barred from changing parties in midsession. As recently as two weeks ago, he assured Pennsylvania voters that he wouldn't do such a thing. Asked in an interview whether he might consider running as an independent or Democrat, Specter staunchly replied: "I am a Republican and I am going to run on the Republican ticket in the Republican primary."

But if Specter is no profile in courage, there are others in the public eye who are, as two admirable American women have recently reminded us.

At first glance, Carrie Prejean and Mary Ann Glendon could hardly seem more dissimilar. Prejean is a 21-year-old California beauty queen and model; Glendon is a Harvard law professor and a former US ambassador to the Vatican. What they have in common is a greater respect for honesty than for political correctness, and for the obligations of moral witness than for their own personal prestige.

Glendon made news last week when she refused to accept the University of Notre Dame's illustrious Laetare Medal, the oldest and most distinguished honor in American Catholic life. The medal was to have been presented on May 17, when President Barack Obama will receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement address. Notre Dame is the nation's foremost Catholic university, and its decision to honor Obama -- an ardent supporter of unrestricted abortion rights -- has been sharply criticized, especially by Catholics who share their church's deep opposition to abortion.

In a letter to Notre Dame's president, Glendon expressed dismay that the university would bestow a high honor on someone so hostile to such a fundamental Catholic principle, in flat disregard of church guidelines. Worse, it was using her expected appearance to deflect criticism, suggesting in its "talking points" that Obama's address to the graduates would be balanced by Glendon's brief acceptance remarks. Unwilling to let her presence be exploited in this way, she chose to renounce the medal.

Unlike Glendon, who had weeks to reflect before making her decision, Prejean had only seconds. In the final round of the recent Miss USA Pageant, Prejean was asked by one of the judges -- a homosexual gossip blogger who calls himself Perez Hilton -- whether she thought every state should legalize same-sex marriage. It was, she later said, the question she dreaded most -- "I prayed I would not be asked about gay marriage" -- knowing that an honest answer would hurt her chances of winning.

Nevertheless, she gave the honest answer. "I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other," Miss California replied, but "I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be -- between a man and a woman."

As she foresaw, the crown went to another contestant. What she may not have foreseen was the wave of hostility and condemnation that followed. Immediately after the pageant, the judge who had asked the question publicly berated her, snarling in an online video: "Miss California lost because she's a dumb bitch." (In an even uglier postscript, he later said that he had actually wanted to call Prejean "the C-word.") California pageant officials slammed her, too; "religious beliefs," one wrote, "have no place in politics in the Miss CA family." The Miss California USA organization even issued a statement denouncing Prejean for "her opportunistic agenda." Village Voice columnist Michael Musto went on Keith Olbermann's TV show to slander Prejean as "dumb and twisted . . . a human Klaus Barbie doll."

Throughout the uproar, Prejean has remained gracious and calm, steadfastly refusing to demonize those who have been demonizing her.

It is not always easy to have the courage of one's convictions, to turn down honor for the sake of truth, or to resist the pressure to be politically correct. A law professor and a beauty queen have just shown us how it is done.


Intrusion of Reality

The Left understands that the character of a people can be transformed.

By Mark Steyn

We’re still in the first 100 days of the joyous observances of Barack Obama’s first 100 days, and many weeks of celebration lie ahead, so here are my thoughts:

President Obama’s strongest talent is not his speechifying, which is frankly a bit of a snoozeroo. In Europe, he left ‘em wanting less pretty much every time (headline from Britain’s Daily Telegraph: “Barack Obama really does go on a bit”). That uptilted chin combined with the left-right teleprompter neck swivel you can set your watch by makes him look like an emaciated Mussolini umpiring an endless rally of high lobs on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Each to his own, but I don’t think those who routinely hail him as the greatest orator since Socrates actually sit through many of his speeches.

On the other hand, if you just caught a couple of minutes of last Wednesday’s press conference, you’d be impressed. When that groupie from the New York Times asked the president about what, during his first hundred days, “had surprised you the most . . . enchanted you the most . . . humbled you the most and troubled you the most,” Obama made a point of getting out his pen, writing it down and repeating back the multiple categories: “Enchanted,” he said. “Nice.” Indeed. Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger, you may see a stranger across a crowded room, but then he scribbles down your multi-part question to be sure he gets it right, and he looks so thoughtful, and suddenly he’s not a stranger anymore, and the sound of his laughter will ring in your dreams.

The theater of thoughtfulness is critical to the president’s success. He has the knack of appearing moderate while acting radical, which is a lethal skill. The thoughtful look suckered many of my more impressionable conservative comrades last fall, when David Brooks and Christopher Buckley were cranking out gushing paeans to Obama’s “first-class temperament” — temperament being to the Obamacons what Nick Jonas’s hair is to a Tiger Beat reporter. But the drab reality is that the man they hail — Brooks & Buckley, I mean; not the Tiger Beat crowd — is a fantasy projection. There is no Obama The Sober Centrist, although it might make a good holiday song:
“Obama The Sober Centrist

Had a very thoughtful mien

And if you ever saw it

You would say it’s peachy keen . . . ”
And it is. But underneath the thoughtful look is a transformative domestic agenda that represents a huge annexation of American life by an ever-more intrusive federal government. One cannot but admire the singleminded ruthlessness with which Obama is getting on with it, even as he hones his contemplative, unhurried, moderate routine on primetime press conferences. On foreign affairs, the shtick is less effective, but mainly because he’s not so engaged by the issues: He’s got big plans for health care, and federalized education, and an eco-friendly government-run automobile industry — and Iran’s nuclear program just gets in the way. He’d rather not think about it, and his multicontinental apology tours are his way of kicking the can down the road until that blessed day when America is just another sclerotic Euro-style social democracy and even your more excitable jihadi won’t be able to jump up and down chanting, “Death to the Great Satan!” with a straight face.

It would seem to me that reality is more likely to intrude on the Obama project from overseas than domestically. But if he’s lucky it won’t intrude at all, not until it’s too late. Thirty years ago this month, a grocer’s daughter from the English Midlands became Britain’s female prime minister — not because the electorate was interested in making (Obama-style) history, but just because nothing worked anymore. The post-1945 socialist settlement — government health care, government automobile industry, government everything — had broken down: Inflation over 25 percent, marginal taxes rates over 90 percent, mass unemployment, permanent strikes. The country’s union leaders were household names, mainly because they were responsible for everything your household lacked. Even moving around was hard: The nationalized rail network was invariably on strike, and you had to put your name on a waiting list months in advance for one of the “new” car models. The evening news was an endless parade of big, beefy, burly blokes picketing some plant for the right to continue enjoying the soft, pampering workweek of the more effete Ottoman sultans.

Margaret Thatcher was a great leader, who reversed her country’s decline — to the point where, two decades later, the electorate felt it was safe to vote the Labour party back into office. And yet, in the greater scheme of things, the Thatcher interlude seems just that: a temporary respite from a remorseless descent into the abyss. In its boundless ambition, the Left understands that the character of a people can be transformed: British, Canadian, and European elections are now about which party can deliver “better services,” as if the nation is a hotel and the government could use some spritelier bellhops. Socialized health care in particular changes the nature of the relationship between citizen and state into something closer to junkie and pusher. On one of the many Obama websites the national impresario feels the need to maintain — “Foundation for Change” — the president is certainly laying the foundation for something. Among the many subjects expressing their gratitude to Good King Barack the Hopeychanger is “Phil from Cathedral City, Ca”:

I was laid off in mid-January from a job I had for 12 years. It’s really getting hard to make ends meet, but this month I got some great news. This week I received in the mail official notification that my COBRA monthly payments for medical, dental and vision insurance will decrease from $468 to only $163, all due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This is a $305 in savings a month!

I can’t tell you how much of a weight off my shoulders this is. I am living proof of how the President’s bold initiatives are beginning to work!

But just exactly how do these “bold initiatives” work? Well, hey, simple folk like you and I and Phil from Cathedral City don’t need to worry about the details. Once these “bold initiatives” really hit their stride maybe the cost of everything over 400 bucks can be brought down to $163. Wouldn’t that be great?

The problem in the Western world is that governments are spending money faster than their citizenry or economies can generate it. As Gerald Ford liked to say, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” And that’s true. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give Phil from Cathedral City everything he wants isn’t big enough to get Phil to give any of it back. That’s the stage the Europeans are at: Their electorates are hooked on unsustainable levels of “services,” but no longer can conceive of life without them.

Margaret Thatcher has a terrific line: “The facts of life are conservative.” Just so. Alas, while the facts are conservative, everything else — the culture, the media, the institutions in which we educate our children, the language of public discourse, the societal air we breathe — is profoundly liberal. Phil is “living proof” of something, but it’s not good news for conservatives.


The Hollow Man

While watching President Obama speak in his latest "press conference," it suddenly struck me what has been so troubling since Obama’s introduction and his ongoing "coronation." While we are mildly amused at his teleprompter gaffes, they are really reflections of a characteristic that is deeper and more serious.

During the campaign, the opposition flailed away at Obama, citing his lack of experience, his relationships with Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and the corrupt environment on Chicago's south side. References were made to his upbringing, the loose ties with his family, his odd visits to various countries, and strong ties to Socialist education and influences. These do not really identify the essence of the problem, in my opinion. The problem is that he is a “hollow man”.

Hollow, because he has no value system. No value system, because his upbringing did not allow it. While President Bush can be criticized for much, he -- and some of his predecessors -- possessed a value system. You could always tell what issues affected him deeply.

His face and his eyes did not lie.

President Obama is a collection of beliefs, philosophies and agendas that have been imparted to him over the years by teachers, campaign activists, organizers, agitators, contributors, supporters, labor union leaders and lobbyists. Their teachings are, to some extent, fables. He may believe them to be "truths", but they are not his core, his essence. He has no such thing, because in fact, he is a "hollow man."

He is an attractive and charismatic presenter. When the teleprompter goes askew, he cannot rely on any fundamental beliefs, because he has none. He stammers and "uhms" his way through the speech until he recovers and loops back on message.

His gifts for presentation place him in a unique spotlight, and he is fawned over by those in the left, Hollywood and the media. Why? Because he was handsome, charismatic and so very different from previous politicians.

The "change" he preached was nothing more than a collection of philosophies never successfully implemented in any country, society or civilization. Every clear-thinking pragmatist knows that excessive borrowing, whether it's under the guise of a stimulus package or job creation, is still borrowing.

And borrowing must be paid back some day with interest and, perhaps, inflationary prices. The question is: will the nationalization of social and economic policies continue unabated under the leadership of the “hollow man” or at some point in time, will the electorate awaken, realizing that they have been “Elmer Gantry’d”?

Obama told Harry Reid, "I have a gift." And, indeed, he has a gift.

But only time will tell if the "hollow man" possesses a thin veneer that is beginning to fracture and flake away as the fawning and adulation fades. They will, instead, be replaced by more penetrating criticisms, even by the adoring media.

Many will feel disenchanted and then deluded, some will ignore the evidence, for to acknowledge those feelings would be indictments of their own beliefs and their cause. There will be a gradual, certain erosion of support from the moderate left; conversely, the far left will become more vocal in their support.

Because, at some point, he will shatter. And all the world will see the emptiness inside. It’s only a matter of time.


California as Liberalism's Laboratory

California's increasingly severe and largely self-inflicted economic crisis will deepen on May 19 if, as is probable and desirable, voters reject most of the ballot measures that were drafted as part of a "solution" to the state's budget deficit. They would make matters worse. National economic revival is being impeded because one-eighth of the nation's population lives in a state that is driving itself into permanent stagnation. California's perennial boast -- that it is the incubator of America's future -- now has an increasingly dark urgency.

Under Arnold Schwarzenegger, the best governor the states contiguous to California have ever had, people and businesses have been relocating in those states. For four consecutive years, more Americans have moved out of California than have moved in. California's business costs are more than 20 percent higher than the average state's. In the last decade, net out-migration of Americans has been 1.4 million. California is exporting talent while importing Mexico's poverty. The latter is not California's fault; the former is.

If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the budgets of all but 10 states. Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger's less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent.

Liberal orthodoxy has made the state dependent on a volatile source of revenues -- high income tax rates on the wealthy. In 2006, the top 1 percent of earners paid 48 percent of the income taxes. California's income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest, its business conditions among the worst, as measured by 16 variables directly influenced by the Legislature. Unemployment, the nation's fourth highest, is 11.2 percent.

Required by law to balance the budget, the Legislature has "solved" the problem by, among other things, increasing the income, sales, gas and vehicle taxes. This, although one rationale for the federal government's gargantuan "stimulus" was to spare states the need to raise taxes which, in California, will more than vitiate the stimulus.

Proposition 1A would create a complicated -- hence probably porous -- spending cap, and a rainy day fund. Realists, however, do not trust the Legislature to obey the law, which may be why some public employees unions cynically support 1A. Another May 19 proposition, opaquely titled the "Lottery Modernization Act," would authorize borrowing $5 billion from future hypothetical lottery receipts. The title is a measure of the political class' meretriciousness.

If voters pass 1A's hypothetical restraint on government spending, their reward will be two extra years (another $16 billion) of actual income, sales and vehicle tax increases. The increases were supposed to be for just two years. Voters are being warned that if they reject the propositions, there might have to be $14 billion in spending cuts. (Note the $15 billion number four paragraphs above.) Even teachers might be laid off. California teachers -- the nation's highest paid, with salaries about 25 percent above the national average -- are emblematic of the grip government employees unions have on the state, where 57 percent of government workers are unionized (the national average is 37 percent).

Flinching from serious budget cutting, and from confronting public employees unions, some Californians focus on process questions. They devise candidate-selection rules designed to diminish the role of parties, thereby supposedly making more likely the election of "moderates" amenable to even more tax increases.

But what actually ails California is centrist evasions. The state's crisis has been caused by "moderation," understood as splitting the difference between extreme liberalism and hyperliberalism, a "reasonableness" that merely moderates the speed at which the ever-expanding public sector suffocates the private sector.

California has become liberalism's laboratory, in which the case for fiscal conservatism is being confirmed. The state is a slow learner and hence will remain a drag on the nation's economy. But it will be a net benefit to the nation if the federal government and other state governments profit from California's negative example, which Californians can make more vividly instructive by voting down the propositions on May 19.

Remember the story of the mule that paid attention only after being walloped by a two-by-four? The Democratic-controlled state Legislature is like that. Fortunately, it has handed voters some two-by-fours -- the initiatives. Resounding rejections of them should get Sacramento's attention.



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

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

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


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Monday, May 04, 2009

Muslims: 'We Do That on First Dates'

by Ann Coulter

Without any pretense of an argument, which liberals are neurologically incapable of, the mainstream media are now asserting that our wussy interrogation techniques at Guantanamo constituted "torture" and have irreparably harmed America's image abroad.

Only the second of those alleged facts is true: The president's release of the Department of Justice interrogation memos undoubtedly hurt America's image abroad, as we are snickered at in capitals around the world, where they know what real torture is. The Arabs surely view these memos as a pack of lies. What about the pills Americans have to turn us gay?

The techniques used against the most stalwart al-Qaida members, such as Abu Zubaydah, included one terrifying procedure referred to as "the attention grasp." As described in horrifying detail in the Justice Department memo, the "attention grasp" consisted of: "(G)rasping the individual with both hands, one hand on each side of the collar opening, in a controlled and quick motion. In the same motion as the grasp, the individual is drawn toward the interrogator." The end.

There are rumors that Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney wanted to take away the interrogators' Altoids before they administered "the grasp," but Department of Justice lawyers deemed this too cruel.

And that's not all! As the torments were gradually increased, next up the interrogation ladder came "walling." This involves pushing the terrorist against a flexible wall, during which his "head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a C-collar effect to prevent whiplash."

People pay to have a lot rougher stuff done to them at Six Flags Great Adventure. Indeed, with plastic walls and soft neck collars, "walling" may be the world's first method of "torture" in which all the implements were made by Fisher-Price.

As the memo darkly notes, walling doesn't cause any pain, but is supposed to induce terror by making a "loud noise": "(T)he false wall is in part constructed to create a loud sound when the individual hits it, which will further shock and surprise." (!!!)

If you need a few minutes to compose yourself after being subjected to that horror, feel free to take a break from reading now. Sometimes a cold compress on the forehead is helpful, but don't let it drip or you might end up waterboarding yourself.

The CIA's interrogation techniques couldn't be more ridiculous if they were out of Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition sketch:
Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions! ...

Hmm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch ... THE COMFY CHAIR!

So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair! ...

Now -- you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunchtime, with only a cup of coffee at 11.
Further up the torture ladder -- from Guantanamo, not Monty Python -- comes the "insult slap," which is designed to be virtually painless, but involves the interrogator invading "the individual's personal space." If that doesn't work, the interrogator shows up the next day wearing the same outfit as the terrorist. (Awkward.)

I will spare you the gruesome details of the CIA's other comical interrogation techniques and leap directly to the penultimate "torture" in their arsenal: the caterpillar. In this unspeakable brutality, a harmless caterpillar is placed in the terrorist's cell. Justice Department lawyers expressly denied the interrogators' request to trick the terrorist into believing the caterpillar was a "stinging insect." Human rights groups have variously described being trapped in a cell with a live caterpillar as "brutal," "soul-wrenching" and, of course, "adorable."

If the terrorist manages to survive the non-stinging caterpillar maneuver -- the most fiendish method of torture ever devised by the human mind that didn't involve being forced to watch "The View" -- CIA interrogators had another sadistic trick up their sleeves. I am not at liberty to divulge the details, except to mention the procedure's terror-inducing name: "the ladybug."

Finally, the most savage interrogation technique at Guantanamo was "waterboarding," which is only slightly rougher than the Comfy Chair. Thousands of our troops are waterboarded every year as part of their training, but not until it was done to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- mastermind of the 9/11 attack on America -- were liberal consciences shocked. I think they were mostly shocked because they couldn't figure out how Joey Buttafuoco ended up in Guantanamo.

As non-uniformed combatants, all of the detainees at Guantanamo could have been summarily shot on the battlefield under the Laws of War. Instead, we gave them comfy chairs, free lawyers, better food than is served in Afghani caves, prayer rugs, recreational activities and top-flight medical care -- including one terrorist who was released, whereupon he rejoined the jihad against America, after being fitted for an expensive artificial leg at Guantanamo, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.

Only three terrorists -- who could have been shot -- were waterboarded. This is not nearly as bad as "snowboarding," which is known to cause massive buttocks pain and results in approximately 10 deaths per year.

Normal human beings -- especially those who grew up with my older brother, Jimmy -- can't read the interrogation memos without laughing. At Al-Jazeera, they don't believe these interrogation memos are for real. Muslims look at them and say: THIS IS ALL THEY'RE DOING? We do that for practice. We do that to our friends.

But The New York Times is populated with people who can't believe they live in a country where people would put a caterpillar in a terrorist's cell.


Some facts about Israel and the Arabs

The 1844 census of Jerusalem found 7120 Jews…5760 Muslims…3390 Christians.

In 1869, Mark Twain wrote of the emptiness of the land, of traveling all day without seeing a human being on the roads or in the countryside.

Mark Twain wrote of Arab sloth and filth and flies.

In the 1880s, Americans forced Indians from their land to resettle Indian land with whites. Many Indians had to be killed.

In the 1880s, Australians forced Aborigines from their land to resettle Aborigine land with whites. Many Aborigines had to be killed.

In the 1880s, white New Zealanders forced Maoris from their land to resettle Maori land with whites. Many Maoris had to be killed.

In the 1880s, European Jews bought idle land in what is now Israel, joining Mizrahi Jews continuously there since Abraham.

Beginning in 1882, forty Jewish families settled at Rishon L’Tzion. Four hundred Arab families settled around them. Some of the Arab families were Bedouin. Some came from Egypt.

A British official reported Arabs sought employment, clean drinking water, better health care, and lower infant mortality. The official reported this pattern was repeated across areas where Jews settled.

In the 1890s, Belgians cut off the hands of Africans who did not gather enough rubber.

In the 1890s, Arabs flocked to Jewish areas of Palestine for jobs created by Jewish investment and enterprise.

After WWI, Britain tried to set up a Palestinian governing body of twelve…eight Arabs…two Christians…two Jews. Arabs said two Jews were too many. A cynic might say Arabs knew then two Jews outnumbered eight Arabs.

In 1917, the British Balfour Agreement promised a national home for Jews in Palestine. The British did not mean it.

Arabs turned down two-state solutions in 1917, 1937, 1948, and 2000.

After a Nazi supported Arab revolt in 1936-1939, British-backed Arab religious leader Husseini fled to Germany. Husseini is revered throughout Islam today.

In 1939, A British White Paper severely restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine.

After WWII, European Jews sought refuge in what is now Israel. The Arabist British did all they could to keep Jews out of Palestine. Under United Nations mandate, Jews established the State of Israel despite Arab objections and Britain perfidy.

In the United Nations document authorizing the formation of the state of Israel, an Arab/British/African clause weighted population numbers in favor of Arabs. In 1948, the Arab population was still largely transient. This clause identified any Arab who had been in Palestine for two years as a permanent resident.

Do we give casual Mexican labor citizenship after two years in the United States?

In 1948, Arab countries attacked the infant Jewish nation. Jewish citizen soldiers decisively defeated combined professional armies of five Arab nations.

In 1948, 850,000 Arab residents of Israel fled and/or were expelled. There is evidence Arabs residents were encouraged by Arab invaders to flee to give Arab invaders a freer hand.

Only Jordan offered refugees citizenship. In all other Muslim countries, Palestinian refugees remain in camps sixty years later…anti-Israeli propaganda pawns.

In the months following the 1948 war, 850,000 Sephardic/Mizrahi Jews fled or were expelled to Israel from the Arab countries who lost the war. We do not know how many Jews fled to other nations. We do not know how many Jews were killed. Arab nations claim no knowledge of this flight/expulsion.

Sephardic Jews had been in the Middle East since 1492, Mizrahi Jews since Abraham.

If Palestinians wanted their own country, Palestinians would call a constitutional convention…write a governing document…declare a nation. There is precedent.

Romans called the province Palestine to insult rebellious Jews. Ottomans kept the name.

If Palestinians had lived in peace beside Jews in democratic Israel, Palestinians would own Israel. With the differential in birth rates, Palestinians could have taken democratic Israel with the vote.

The story of modern Israel & Palestine is not what you have been told. Palestinian leader Musa Alami said in 1948, “The people are in great need of a myth to fill their consciousness and imagination.”

The King of Jordan also denied the displacement of Arabs by Jewish settlements. The king said, “The Arabs are as prodigal in selling their land as they are in…weeping [about it].

The popular history of Palestine is myth.


United Methodist Court Rejects homosexual Marriage Resolution

The United Methodist Church's top court recently ruled that clergy, both active and retired, cannot perform same-sex marriages or civil unions. Performing such services is "a chargeable offense," Bishop Beverly J. Shamana ruled last Friday. UMC's Judicial Council affirmed her decision. The council further ruled that an annual conference, or regional body within the UMC, "may not negate, ignore, or violate provisions of the Discipline with which they disagree, even when the disagreements are based on conscientious objections to the provisions."

The council’s ruling was on a resolution passed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference last year, months after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Along with providing pastoral ministry to same gender couples, the resolution would allow retired clergy to perform marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

More than 80 retired United Methodist clergy from northern California had offered to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies on behalf of clergy who cannot perform them. They signed a covenant stating, "We must not deny ministerial services to anybody because of their sexual orientation. We will witness that United Methodists in California-Nevada Annual Conference do have Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors and we will not tolerate the exclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people from our ministry."

Given that the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which embodies Church law, forbids churches and clergy from performing same-sex unions, the resolution also sought lenient disciplinary action against clergy who disobey church law on the issue.

While Bishop Shamana called the resolution "a commendable gesture" in offering pastoral counsel to same-sex couples desiring marriage, she stated in her decision that "it steps over a Disciplinary line when it commends these clergy to the congregations for the purpose of 'performing same gender marriages or holy unions.'"

In a dissenting opinion, council member F. Belton Joyner, Jr. said the willingness of some retired clergy to perform same gender marriages or unions "does not prescribe or recommend a violation of The Book of Discipline."

Unless changes are made to the provisions in the Book of Discipline, an annual conference may not advise local churches of the availability of clergy who are willing to officiate same-sex marriage ceremonies, the Judicial Council ruled. UMC law currently states, "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches." Last year, the General Conference, the top governing body of the UMC, voted to reject changes to its constitution and retain the ban on performing same-sex marriages.

The United Methodist Church is the largest Methodist denomination in the world and the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States.


The NY governor: Another racist black

Gov. Paterson, who raised state taxes by $8 billion last month, just cost state taxpayers $300,000 more. The state has secretly settled an embarrassing federal racial-discrimination lawsuit, The Post has learned.

The suit accused Paterson, back when he was Senate minority leader in 2003, of firing a white Senate photographer in order to replace him with an African-American. The lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial in federal court Monday in Syracuse, with Paterson, the state's first black governor, as a key witness. The case was settled earlier in the week, although a few glitches delayed the final deal until yesterday, legislative sources said.

The settlement ends a civil-rights action first filed in 2005 by Joseph Maioriello, 56, of Schenectady, a 26-year Senate employee who originally sought $1.5 million. He was fired from his $34,000-a-year job as a photographer two years earlier and replaced by a black employee, El-Wise Noisette. The shakeup happened after Paterson ousted then-Sen. Martin Connor (D-Brooklyn) as the minority leader.

Connor was expected to testify that Maioriello was a good photographer. While neither Paterson nor the state admitted that Maioriello was a victim of racial discrimination, the size of the settlement means "that the state wouldn't have made out very well if it had gone to trial," said a source close to the lawsuit. "If nothing wrong happened, why is the state paying out this kind of money?" the source asked.

Maioriello's lawyer, Anne-Jo Pennock McTague of Albany, told The Post that her client was "satisfied with the amount and the fact of a settlement."

Paterson was expected to be one of Maioriello's star witnesses in federal court if the case had gone to trial, a lawyer close to the case said. The settlement was initially delayed when Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), Paterson's successor and a fellow African-American, refused to give his approval. Smith had veto power over the settlement since the suit was filed against the Senate. He was in the awkward position of either authorizing a large payment for alleged reverse discrimination or holding out for a trial, which would have forced Paterson to testify under oath.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Smith, said he delayed the final settlement to determine if the cost "was acceptable." Smith was represented by lawyers from the office of state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, which had no comment.

In the lawsuit, Maioriello claimed he was told by John McPadden, then Paterson's chief of staff, that he was being fired because a number of minority senators wanted to replace him with "a minority photographer, a black photographer." He said he was also told, "You got to remember who Sen. Paterson is. Sen. Paterson is black."

Paterson, who is legally blind, claimed in a sworn deposition that he didn't see well enough to have fired Maioriello because of his race. A spokesman for Paterson later said the comment was "a quip, a joke." Paterson and McPadden denied the race-bias claim.



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

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

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


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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Top British Leftist politician sends out greetings for every festival EXCEPT Christmas!

He is the son of a prominent Marxist theoretician

Foreign office mandarins have begun a consultation on whether to mark Christmas. They have ordered a review into which religious festivals should be the subject of special greetings from the Foreign Secretary. It follows complaints from staff that David Miliband sent out a Ramadan message to Embassy staff around the world, but neglected to prepare one for Christmas Day or Easter.

Mr Miliband has also been accused of ignoring St George's Day, while giving Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, 'plenty of FCO airspace' to wish Scots a Happy St Andrew's Day. Embassy staff are now being asked to nominate occasions which should be celebrated, to avoid upsetting different faiths and nationalities.

The FCO sends out statements to mark Ramadan, the Muslim festival of fasting, and Jewish New Year. But Mr Miliband, who once revealed he did not believe in God, has never sent his own Christmas tidings, to the fury of some staff.

In an internal newsletter called News and Views, Mark Thomas, who works in staff policy, complained: 'It was depressingly predictable that the Foreign Secretary found the time to deliver a special Ramadan message after scoring misses at Christmas, Easter and any other number of occasions when different faiths celebrate special festivals or periods throughout the calendar year.

'The decision to afford Alex Salmond plenty of FCO airspace to wish Scots a Happy St Andrew's Day, while neglecting David, Patrick and George - and not for the first time - was equally disturbing.'

In response, Nicola Bowles, FCO head of corporate communications wrote: 'As you say, the current system for celebrating British (and FCO) diversity with messages from the Foreign Secretary and others on significant dates could maybe be improved. 'We are now consulting with private offices, stakeholder managers and the diversity strategy unit to draw up guidelines that strike the right balance. 'The aim is to find a way to celebrate our diversity - and offer reassurances to groups who may feel marginalised - without falling into the trap of diminishing impact (or indeed overloading our communications system) through an unnecessary plethora of messages.'

The move comes a month after a report from Human Resources consultancy-Couraud said the Foreign Office was sinking into 'stagnation and decay' because of political correctness. Devotion to gender and race equality, together with inertia and weak leadership are crushing the spirit of those working there, it said.


The fight for the survival of free speech

Most Americans are sleepwalking right now through the early reign of Obama the Magnificant. He tells them he is cutting spending, cutting taxes, and cutting the deficit, and they believe him. When they find in 2010 and 2011 that he deliberately misled them and has been doing just the opposite, and they are deep in the soup as a result, public opinion will turn decisively against him.

Meanwhile, our "mainstream media," which should be called the Party Controlled Press, are quite successfully maintaining the smokescreen in promoting the Obama propaganda line, acting as slavishly as Pravda and Izvestia did towards the Kremlin in the old Soviet Union. This is the beginning of the end of free speech in America.

Next is to target the remaining holdouts, primarily conservative talk radio and the Christian broadcasters. Then the Internet. And if Fox News doesn't stop airing independent voices, and learn to toe the party line, the Obaman Left will further browbeat them. Now is the time for true patriots to stand up and fight for the survival of free speech in America. Grassroots activism is needed here. If the Left shuts down free speech, we will no longer have a free country.

Property Rights: The Foundation of All Other Rights

The airwaves, meaning the broadcast spectrum, are already publicly owned. That means we already have socialism in radio and TV broadcasting. This is the root of the gathering threat to free speech. Because the airwaves are publicly owned, government control and regulation of speech on those airwaves is considered justified.

This public ownership is at the root of the Fairness Doctrine. It was considered permissible for the government to regulate the "fairness" of broadcast speech because the airwaves are publicly owned. No one ever talks about regulating the fairness of print media because printing presses are all privately owned.

The main threat to broadcast free speech is coming under the rubric of "localism." Because the airwaves are publicly owned, broadcasters operate under a regulatory requirement that they serve the needs and interests of the local community. Of course, the only way broadcasters can succeed economically is by serving the needs and interests of the local community. It's called ratings. If a radio station only broadcasts programs that nobody in its local community is interested in, obviously it is not going to last very long. If a station is broadcasting shows whose ratings are among the highest in the local community, then obviously it is serving the needs and interests of the community, broadcasting exactly what the local community is most interested in.

But the government doesn't want to measure localism in this way because then there is no role for government. The market is taking care of it. Moreover, there is no political gain in looking at it that way. What the government means by localism is serving the needs and interests of self-appointed, local, political activists, not real people as represented by the largest audiences.

That is why the FCC has already endorsed the idea of requiring radio stations to each "convene a permanent advisory board made up of officials and other leaders from the service area of its broadcast station." Though it has not yet adopted such a regulatory requirement, this is among the first things that the Obama FCC could do, once the new Obama appointed chairman, Julius Genachowski, is confirmed. But even without a regulatory requirement, in the current political environment with the Obama controlled FCC, a station that does not even have a local advisory board is going to be vulnerable during license renewal. As a result, conservative talk radio stations have already begun voluntarily setting up such local advisory boards.

And who would be on these boards? Are they going to be dominated by the left-wing grassroots activist groups ACORN and MoveOn.org? Couldn't we expect to see all the other usual suspect lefty groups, Code Pink and associated peace activists, government labor unions that want higher taxes, environmental extremists that want to repeal the industrial revolution, advocates of unilateral disarmament, assorted sexual identity groups, NARAL, NORMAL, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, anti-nuclear power activists, etc.?

These boards are an entry wedge that would enable Obama effectively to take control of the radio stations. Indeed, all the FCC has to do is pay close attention to what these boards say during license renewal proceedings. Suppose such a local board recommends that a station's license not be renewed? If that weighs heavily in the renewal decision, then that board, and all other such boards around the country, would have a powerful influence on the stations and what shows they choose to air. Suppose such local boards then start objecting to nationally syndicated radio shows such as Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity as not serving the needs and interests of the local community as well as a local talk show host would. Would they develop an effective veto at least over nationally syndicated shows?

Indeed, suppose the local community advisory board vigorously supports during the renewal process switching the license to some or all of the members of the board itself. Then the board would become the radio station. All of this can be done during license renewal proceedings without even any new regulations from the FCC.

That is why if radio stations are going to have these local advisory boards, local conservative activists must get on the board as well. Local taxpayer activists, gun owners, pro-life advocates, veterans, Christian leaders, small businessmen, pro-family activists, libertarians, those who advocate traditional values, free market advocates, call and write your local talk radio stations and demand to become a member of the station's local advisory board. You should not limit this to conservative talk radio. Call your local NPR affiliate and demand representation on its advisory board as well. If they don't have an advisory board, complain loudly to the FCC about it, and renew those complaints during their license renewals.


Antisemitism is rife in the Nordic countries

In recent years the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has published several articles about the Nordic countries, Jews, and Israel in both the Jewish Political Studies Review and Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism. Gradually a picture has emerged of these countries that differs greatly from the often superficial friendliness the visiting tourist experiences, or the impressions one gains abroad from the few usually positive articles in international media. Little is known about the multiple negative events in the Nordic countries regarding Israel and the Jews.

This volume aims to provide a more strategic picture of the Nordic countries' attitudes toward Israel and the Jews than is available elsewhere in English. Our research clarifies that in recent years part of the societal elites, particularly in Sweden and Norway, have been responsible for many pioneering efforts to demonize Israel. Prominent among the perpetrators are leading socialist and other leftist politicians, journalists, clergy, and employees of NGOs. This demonization is based on the classic motifs of anti-Semitism, which often also accompany its new mutation of anti-Israelism.

Behind the Nordic countries' righteous appearance and oft-proclaimed concern for human rights often lurk darker attitudes. This volume's main purpose is to lift their humanitarian mask as far as Israel and Jews are concerned. This disguise hides many ugly characteristics, including the financing of demonizers of Israel, a false morality, invented moral superiority, and "humanitarian racism." Such humanitarian racists think-usually without expressing it explicitly, sometimes not even being conscious of it-that only white people can be fully responsible for their actions while nonwhites cannot (or can but only to a limited extent).

A journalist for the Norwegian conservative daily Aftenposten reacted to the prepublication of this author's essay on Norway in this volume, stating that its tone was "extraordinarily shrill." This was a bizarre remark in view of the tone of the daily that employs him. Assuming that he was writing in good faith, it illustrates a major problem: being in denial about matters that occur in one's own environment. In recent years Aftenposten has published a variety of extreme anti-Semitic cartoons, articles, and letters to the editor. Before World War II it also published anti-Semitic articles. No overview of twenty-first-century West European anti- Semitism can be complete without reference to this paper. The facts presented in this volume about this Norwegian "quality daily" demonstrate how hypocrisy and anti-Semitism converge.

Much more HERE

Miss California finds her new cause

Prejean promotes marriage

Miss California may have lost a pageant, but she's not sorry. She has won a cause. Carrie Prejean's politically incorrect response to a question about same-sex marriage may have cost her the Miss USA crown, but apparently it's going to take more than a few insults from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton to change her mind. "It's unfortunate that this happened, but it's become such a blessing," Miss Prejean said in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Washington Times. "I'm glad I didn't win that pageant, because I now have a cause, I now have a purpose and I'm going to pursue it."

Not only is Miss Prejean refusing to apologize, explain her answer or even stay out of the spotlight, but she's unabashedly promoting traditional marriage in post-pageant appearances, including later this week in Washington and in Lynchburg, Va.

In doing so, she's become an inspiration to conservative Christians, especially those in California, who are reluctant to speak out on behalf of traditional marriage in the face of shifting cultural mores, said Miles McPherson, her pastor at the San Diego-based Rock Church. "Every week, we tell our congregation to do something bold, and here she did it on the biggest stage in the world," said Mr. McPherson, a former San Diego Chargers football player who founded the evangelical megachurch. "It's about standing up for faith in the face of persecution. A lot of people are intimidated about saying what they believe because it's not politically correct."

Last week in New York, he said, dozens of people went out of their way to thank Miss Prejean for taking her stance. "People left and right kept coming up to her, telling her how much they appreciated what she said," Mr. McPherson said. "It was overwhelming."

Indeed, her statement on behalf of traditional marriage and the response she received from Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr. - the openly gay blogger better known as Perez Hilton - may represent a turning point in the marriage debate, said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "I think it was a very significant event. It's just the Miss USA pageant, but it could be a turning point in the cultural battle that's being waged," he said. "People have rallied around Carrie and said, 'Enough is enough.' "

Miss Prejean, 21, was considered the front-runner in the April 20 Miss USA Pageant when Mr. Lavandeira, a pageant judge, asked her to weigh in on same-sex marriage.



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

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

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


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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Minnesota Attempts to Censor Internet -- Taxpayer and First Amendment Groups Condemn Action

Americans for Tax Reform and the Media Freedom Project today released the following press release:

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced today that it has instructed 11 national and regional internet service providers to prohibit Minnesota residents from accessing almost 200 online gaming websites.

John Willems, director of the MN Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, warned the thousands of law abiding Minnesotans who enjoy online gaming that today’s announced state action will put their “funds in peril.” Referring to online gaming, Willems added, “I don’t have a law that authorizes it, so it’s illegal,” in a statement that would outlaw even the most mundane daily activities and routines.

“Minnesota state officials have aggressively sought to deter internet freedom over the past few months. First legislators try to tax digital downloads, now bureaucrats want to censor the web,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “This is nanny-statism at its worst – the government barging into a private matter because people are supposedly too stupid to make decisions and take care of themselves. Individual liberty should not be supplanted by the whims of politicians looking to soak even more money from an over-taxed, over-regulated population while feigning concern over safety issues.”

Kentucky is also trying to shut down online gaming by attempting to seize 141 websites. Already having consumed a considerable amount of scarce state resources and taxpayer dollars, that case is now heading to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

“Minnesota’s effort to block access to Internet sites that allow gaming is nothing more than an attempt to block competition the state doesn’t like. If Minnesota state officials were truly concerned about the “societal impact” of gaming they wouldn’t have sanctioned more than a dozen casinos in the state and would be making efforts to close them, too,” said Derek Hunter, executive director of the Media Freedom Project. “In the meantime the Department of Public Safety’s action violates the principles that govern the Internet, that it should remain open and free to legal transactions. Since the federal government has yet to clearly define what constitutes “illegal” online gaming, Minnesota is now seeking to arbitrarily do it. ”


British social workers take baby away even though mother ‘posed no risk’

A baby was placed into care and is facing adoption after a psychologist misdiagnosed the mother’s mental state. The child has been in foster care for six months even though experts have said that the mother posed no immediate risk. A psychologist told Ipswich County Court this week that she had inaccurately assessed the mother as having factitious illness, formerly known as Munchausen’s by proxy. That assessment resulted in Suffolk County Council putting the baby on the childcare protection register.

The diagnosis was based on accusations that the mother had made up illnesses for her son from another relationship, which she denied. The diagnosis was changed after a psychiatrist said that there was no evidence that the mother had fabricated anything about her son. The psychologist said that she had since concluded that the mother had narcissistic personality disorder, where sufferers can believe they are special and have difficulty showing empathy. This disorder was not a barrier to successful parenting, the psychologist said.

The opening up of the family courts to the media means that the details of the case can be published.

Once the baby was born, the mother and father were subjected to regular visits by social workers. The mother told one that her partner would feel like killing them all if the baby was taken away. A few days later the baby was taken into care.

The psychologist said that the baby was removed despite there being no immediate concerns about its treatment. “I understand that there were never any concerns about [its] practical care. There were risks in the long term . . . in terms of consistency of parenting,” she said. She added that the mother craved attention, regardless of the welfare of her baby. The mother would find it difficult “to put the baby’s needs before her own, she said, although there was no evidence she had done this while caring for the baby.

Experts also expressed concern about risks posed by the father.

The court was given insight into the numerous difficulties faced by social services in dealing with the case. All three experts who gave evidence agreed that the parents were evasive and that the father had told substantial untruths on several occasions. When the mother told the father on Saturday that she wanted to leave him, he had taken a knife and gone into another room — with the implication that he would harm himself if they were apart.

Two experts complained that they had not been given enough information about the case — only one of the three had observed the mother, the father and the baby. They emphasised that both parents would need significant therapy to overcome their problems. One of the experts said that the mother had suffered from depression and although she responded well to medication, she did not always take it.

The local authority took a measured approach to the circumstances. While it could have moved immediately to a care plan recommending adoption, it agreed to further assessment of the couple. The baby will be kept in foster care in the meantime, with a further hearing scheduled for July. If assessments are not positive, the child is likely to be adopted.


Swine flu panic and the dramatisation of disease

Recent events show that, while society has the scientific know-how to cope with outbreaks of flu, it still sees disease as a harbinger of apocalypse

Frank Furedi

The explosion of global fear about the outbreak of a deathly flu virus in Mexico is more a response to the dramatisation of influenza than to the actual threat it poses.

There is nothing unusual about the outbreak of flu. Every year, thousands of people die from the flu, and, in normal conditions, society has learned to cope with the flu threat. From time to time, an outbreak of flu turns into a global pandemic, leading to a catastrophic loss of life. However, there is no evidence that the so-called swine flu, which has so far claimed a relatively small number of lives, will turn into a pandemic. Rather, what we are faced with is a health crisis that has been transformed into a moral drama.

Although swine flu is a relatively common hazard of pig-farming, it is worth noting that, so far, health inspectors have not found infected pigs anywhere in Mexico. So why call it ‘swine flu’? The main reason is that the last strain of flu that genetically resembled this one was found among swine. But it does not have to be called ‘swine flu’. The Israeli deputy health minister, Yakov Litzman, says his country will refuse to call the disease by that name because religious Jews do not eat pork. ‘We will call it Mexico flu’, he said. What Litzman’s comments demonstrate is that the name, and image, we give to a disease is principally influenced by culture rather than science.

History shows that how people respond to a crisis determines the impact and the meaning of that crisis. People do not simply ‘suffer a disaster’. They engage with the terrible or threatening event, sometimes adapting to it and sometimes drawing lessons and meaning from it; at other times they can be disoriented and confused by a crisis, but they often learn to reorganise their lives around it, sometimes in a creative way.

In principle, we have all the resources and technical ingredients we need to deal with swine flu. Compared with previous eras, we have a relatively effective warning and tracking system that allows the authorities to take the necessary precautions. Although at present there is no vaccine available to prevent this strain of flu, there are anti-flu drugs that have been shown to work once the virus has been contracted. However, although society has the science and technology to cope with this latest outbreak of flu, its cultural and moral coping mechanisms appear feeble and exposed.

When, on 27 April 2009, the World Health Organisation’s emergency committee raised the pandemic threat level for swine flu from level three to level four (out of a possible six), it was acting on a script that was cobbled together in the early years of the twenty-first century. Since the turn of the new millennium, the term ‘pandemic’ has become normalised and is increasingly used to frame global anxieties and fears. ‘Health alerts’ have been transformed into rituals, through which fear entrepreneurs remind us, in a quasi-religious fashion, that human extinction is a very real possibility. Terms like ‘epidemic’ and ‘pandemic’ appear with increasing frequency in newspapers, and are now used in everyday conversation, too.

This tendency to inflate the dangers that we face leads to a situation where fearmongers now speculate about hundreds of thousands, millions or even billions of casualties occurring as a result of some crisis or disaster. Even highly prestigious journals and media outlets seem incapable of resisting the temptation to spread alarmist high-casualty scenarios. On 5 February 2004, an editorial in the New Scientist warned that a bird flu outbreak, in which the virus was transmitted between people, could kill 1.5billion people. The dramatisation of bird flu really took off with the WHO announcement in December 2004, which exhorted all nations to overhaul their pandemic strategies.

As one study of the campaign of fear around pandemics noted: ‘The heightening of pandemic awareness was achieved through the strategic use of what one can call “scare quotes” in leading scientific journals and press releases, scare statistics, such as the 1968 Hong Kong pandemic which killed 30,000 Britons and over one million people worldwide, [and] scare historical references, such as the flu pandemics of 1918 and 1997.’ (1) In this important study, titled ‘Avian Flu: The Creation of Expectations in the Interplay Between Science and the Media’, the authors drew attention to the strategy of linking current outbreaks of the flu to historic catastrophes, which in turn fostered a climate of panic. In relation to the recent panic about the threat of avian flu, they noted that ‘the shift of emphasis to past pandemics contributes to the rhetoric of fear by imbuing the as-yet minor flu outbreak with historical significance, which obscures the fact that the current strain of avian flu has, as yet, killed only a relatively small number of people who had direct contact with poultry’ (2).

Increasingly, public health officials sound as if they are rehearsing their roles for a disaster movie. They frequently argue that, since we had deathly flu pandemics in the past, it is inevitable that we will face another one very soon. ‘Major pandemics sweep the world every century, and it is inevitable that at least one will occur in the future’, said Professor Maria Zambon, a virologist and head of Britain’s Health Protection Agency’s influenza laboratory. For good measure, she added that ‘we can never be completely prepared for what nature will do: nature is the ultimate bioterrorist’ (3). The fatalistic view of an inevitable global flu catastrophe is made more ominous still by linking it with our anxieties about terrorism. Leading British scientist Hugh Pennington also made this link, when he stated in 2005 that avian flu ‘is the biggest threat to the human race’ and it ‘far outweighs bioterrorism; this is natural terrorism’ (4).

Inevitably, the dramatisation of the flu has spawned various apocalyptic stories about how viruses can be ‘weaponised’ and used to threaten human survival. Such stories warn the public that terrorists might try to infect our nations with bird flu. Consider the Institute of Public Policy Research’s Commission of National Security for the Twenty-First Century: one of its reports speculated that the threat from pandemic diseases such as SARS and avian flu is growing all the time, and because of inadequate preparation ‘a serious disease outbreak or bio-terrorism incident in the next 18 months could tip the global economy from serious recession into global depression’. In line with Hollywood fantasy plotlines, the report invited us to imagine the possibility of a terrorist purchasing ‘genes for use in the engineering of an existing and dangerous pathogen into a more virulent strain’ (5).

Alongside fears about the ‘weaponisation’ of viruses, the internet is awash with rumours about the conspiracy responsible for the current outbreak of swine flu. ‘I find it odd that this recent outbreak of swine flu first appeared in Mexico about the time President Obama was visiting there’, writes one blogger, before asking: ‘Does anyone else find that suspicious?’ And far too many people are replying: ‘Yes.’ Far-right conspiracy theorists describe swine flu as the ‘latest bioterrorism attack by the New World Order’. Left-wing conspiratorial-minded crusaders, meanwhile, blame the Republicans in US Congress for cutting ‘pandemic preparedness’ funds out of Obama’s economic stimulus package. Environmental campaigners point the finger of blame at the big corporations that factory-farm pigs. Everyone seems to have their own version of a Hollywood disaster film, through which they can make sense of the outbreak of flu.

It seems the swine flu outbreak has infected our imaginations, giving shape and tangibility to our anxieties about everyday life. We should give the pigs a rest, and get on with living.


Welfare reform in Australia: Payments to the young will stop for those not learning or earning

A good move -- should reduce the population of ferals somewhat

JOBLESS young Australians who are not training or studying will be stripped of welfare payments under changes to ensure skilled workers emerge from the recession. The federal and state governments yesterday agreed to guarantee training or education places to anyone aged under 25 as part of their Compact with Young Australians, The Courier-Mail reports. Nationally, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd estimates 135,000 Australians aged under 25 could get higher qualifications.

The changes come as the Treasury forecasts that one million people could be out of work due to the recession. Mr Rudd unveiled the agreement in Hobart at a Council of Australian Governments meeting. Mr Rudd said young people who lost their jobs must not become the long-term unemployed of tomorrow. The Government will also crackdown on welfare payments.

Anyone aged under 20 who has not completed Year 12 must be studying or training to get the Youth Allowance, which starts at $203.30 a fortnight. The same conditions will apply to parents seeking Family Tax Benefit A. If young people or their parents want to get government benefits the quid pro quo is that the young person is working or earning a Year 12 equivalent qualification, Mr Rudd said. Anyone aged under 17 must be in full-time school, training, or work.

But Mr Rudd brushed aside questions about whether the training compact would help keep jobless young Australians from being counted in the damaging official unemployment figures.

Australian Industry Group head Heather Ridout applauded the measures, saying the jobs compact would help deliver employment opportunities and skills. The states also agreed to bring forward from 2020 to 2015 the goal of having the 90 per cent rate of students attain Year 12 qualifications.



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

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

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


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Friday, May 01, 2009

Law vs. Moral Values

by Walter E. Williams

A civilized society's first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions and moral values. Behavioral norms, mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important thou-shalt-nots such as shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie and cheat, but they also include all those courtesies one might call ladylike and gentlemanly conduct. The failure to fully transmit values and traditions to subsequent generations represents one of the failings of the so-called greatest generation.

Behavior accepted as the norm today would have been seen as despicable yesteryear. There are television debt relief advertisements that promise to help debtors to pay back only half of what they owe. Foul language is spoken by children in front of and sometimes to teachers and other adults. When I was a youngster, it was unthinkable to use foul language to an adult; it would have meant a smack across the face. Back then, parents and teachers didn't have child-raising "experts" to tell them that "time out" is a means of discipline. Baby showers are held for unwed mothers. Yesteryear, such an acceptance of illegitimacy would have been unthinkable.

To see men sitting whilst a woman or elderly person was standing on a crowded bus or trolley car used to be unthinkable. It was common decency for a man to give up his seat. Today, in some cities there are ordinances requiring public conveyances to set aside seats posted "Senior Citizen Seating." Laws have replaced common decency. Years ago, a young lady who allowed a guy to have his hand in her rear pocket as they strolled down the street would have been seen as a slut. Children addressing adults by first names was unacceptable.

You might be tempted to charge, "Williams, you're a prude!" I'd ask you whether high rates of illegitimacy make a positive contribution to a civilized society. If not, how would you propose that illegitimacy be controlled? In years past, it was controlled through social sanctions like disgrace and shunning. Is foul language to or in the presence of teachers conducive to an atmosphere of discipline and respect necessary for effective education? If not, how would you propose it be controlled? Years ago, simply sassing a teacher would have meant a trip to the vice principal's office for an attitude adjustment administered with a paddle. Years ago, the lowest of lowdown men would not say the kind of things often said to or in front of women today. Gentlemanly behavior protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual harassment laws to restrain coarse behavior.

During the 1940s, my family lived in North Philadelphia's Richard Allen housing project. Many families didn't lock doors until late at night, if ever. No one ever thought of installing bars on their windows. Hot, humid summer nights found many people sleeping outside on balconies or lawn chairs. Starting in the '60s and '70s, doing the same in some neighborhoods would have been tantamount to committing suicide. Keep in mind that the 1940s and '50s were a time of gross racial discrimination, high black poverty and few opportunities compared to today. The fact that black neighborhoods were far more civilized at that time should give pause to the excuses of today that blames today's pathology on poverty and discrimination.

Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we've become.


BOOK REVIEW OF "The Only Superpower: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism", by Paul Hollander


Sociologists do not always write with clarity, let alone with grace. A friend of mine studying sociology once showed me some of the writing of the late Talcott Parsons, a longtime professor at Harvard, and I thought that anyone who waded through its obscurities deserved a degree for effort and determination alone, though not for wisdom and judgment.

Paul Hollander is not one of those sociologists who disdains to make his meaning clear to the average man, or at least to the average educated man. Though English was not his mother tongue, he writes with force, clarity, and even elegance. More important still, he does not treat human beings as if they were iron filings in a magnetic field. He knows that the search for meaning is one of man’s most salient characteristics, and he is capable of taking a comparatively small phenomenon and extracting the deeper significance from it.

Hollander is preeminently what one might call a sociologist of ideology, or perhaps a psychosociologist of ideology, because the history of individual intellectuals, of which he has accumulated an encyclopedic knowledge, interests him as much as that of groups. He is best known for his now-classic book Political Pilgrims, which examined the phenomenon of twentieth-century Western intellectuals who allowed themselves to be seduced and duped by radical revolutionary regimes of the most patent despotism and brutality. How and why did so many intelligent, cultivated, and educated people come to believe such obvious nonsense? Pilgrims was a tragicomic study of how the cherished ideas of the self-important can so easily overwhelm their common sense, and how education can serve to blind as well as to enlighten.

His most recent book, a collection of mainly short pieces, takes its title from Hollander’s acute observations of anti-Americanism, both foreign and domestic. America, he notes in The Only Superpower, is seen as the most modern of all countries, in the vanguard of almost everything, so all the discontents and disappointments of modernity—which are many, serious, and often contradictory—are laid at its door. For Hollander, anti-Americanism is a form of inverted utopianism: if it weren’t for America, mankind would be living in a latter-day Garden of Eden.

Other essays offer insight into the life of our societies. Hollander can find social significance in the apparently trivial detail, like the phrase uttered by all of his retired friends and colleagues: “Busier than ever.” (I have used it myself, often, since I retired from hospital practice.) Why should the elderly in our society be busier than ever rather than, say, contemplative, as they are in other societies? Secularization has led to the general belief that human life has no transcendent meaning beyond itself; it is necessary, therefore, to pack as much into it as possible, to prolong it as long as possible, and to ward off disturbing thoughts of dissolution. Ceaseless activity will accomplish these things. The hyperactivity of American retirees suggests that religious belief is much less rooted in American life than is commonly believed. Americans, and modern Europeans, have no answer to Dryden’s question:
Hast thou not, yet, propos’d some certain end

To which thy life, thy every act may tend?
Another small phenomenon that Hollander analyzes with wit and compassion is the personal ads in the New York Review of Books. He finds them significant for two reasons. First, they suggest a degree of social isolation: substantial numbers of intelligent and educated people are unable to find partners by the customary routes of work, friendship, community, and so forth. There is an underlying melancholy in this.

Second, the self-descriptions of the people who place the personal ads are revealing of the tastes, worldview, and ideals of a sector of the population that is important well beyond its demographic size. Readers of the Review are, of course, likely to be members of the liberal intelligentsia. Their ads give a powerful impression not so much of hypocrisy as of lack of self-knowledge. The ads’ authors claim to be profoundly individual, yet there is an underlying uniformity and conventionality to everything that they say about themselves. Their desire to escape convention is deeply conventional. Their opinions are democratic, but their tastes are exclusive: Tuscany and good claret mean more to them than beach resorts and the Boston Red Sox. They think of themselves as funny and demand humor in others, but they succeed in conveying only earnestness and the impression of deadening solemnity. (Demanding that someone be funny is a bit like demanding that he be natural for the camera.) Contented with, and even complacent about, their position in the world, they somehow see themselves as enemies of the status quo. They are ideologically egalitarian, but psychologically elitist: Lord, make everyone equal, but not just yet.

With their memories of the sixties, when to be young was very heaven, they still believe that an oppositional stance in pursuit of perfection is virtuous in itself—indeed, is the prime or sole content of virtue. And it is this belief that renders them interesting to Hollander, for it makes genuine moral reflection about the nature of various governments and policies impossible. It transforms merely personal discontents into matters of supposedly great general importance.

Near the end of the book, Hollander provides an understated account of his own intellectual development. Born in 1932 a bourgeois, assimilated Jew in Hungary, he escaped death toward the end of World War II by successfully posing as a Gentile. The Communist regime installed in Hungary after the war was less life-threatening than the Nazi occupiers had been, but still horribly despotic, economically disastrous, and suspicious of his family because of its bourgeois past. Having witnessed slaughter in the streets in the 1940s, he saw it again in 1956, the year he managed to escape to the West.

These experiences were surely enough to make anyone distrust totalizing ideologies of whatever stripe; but studying in England, Hollander also came under the influence of Isaiah Berlin, who taught that human desires and desiderata are permanently in conflict with one another. (Hollander’s piece on travel in this volume illustrates how educated, prosperous, but slightly dissatisfied Westerners roam the world in search of self-contradictory gratifications; I blushed to see myself portrayed in this way.)

His background makes clear why Hollander has always been interested in evil, and why he sees the avoidance of evil as politically even more important than the quest for the good. Man is permanently dissatisfied with his lot because he wants contradictory things simultaneously: excitement and security, anonymity and community, routine and variety, and so on. No political arrangements will ever satisfy him entirely; this does not mean that hell on earth is unavoidable, though it has been often enough produced by those who believe they can reconcile the irreconcilable by means of absolute power.

It is a pleasure to read a sociologist who can distinguish so clearly and with wit the less than perfect from the evil; who understands the benefits of environmental conservation without turning such conservation into a quasi-totalitarian ideology; who can see the frivolity, vulgarity, and worthlessness of industrially produced popular culture while appreciating just how quickly dislike of such culture can mutate into contempt for the people who consume it; who, in short, keeps the limits of human possibilities constantly before him. Paul Hollander’s work is an example of the dialectic between lived experience and abstract reflection, of which all work in the humanities should—but alas, seldom does—partake.


Survival Optional

by Thomas Sowell

It used to be said that self-preservation is the first law of nature. But much of what has been happening in recent times in the United States, and in Western civilization in general, suggests that survival is taking a back seat to the shibboleths of political correctness. We have already turned loose dozens of captured terrorists, who have resumed their terrorism. Why? Because they have been given "rights" that exist neither in our laws nor under international law.

These are not criminals in our society, entitled to the protection of the Constitution of the United States. They are not prisoners of war entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.

There was a time when people who violated the rules of war were not entitled to turn around and claim the protection of those rules. German soldiers who put on U.S. military uniforms, in order to infiltrate American lines during the Battle of the Bulge, were simply lined up against a wall and shot. Nobody even thought that this was a violation of the Geneva Convention. American authorities filmed the mass executions. Nobody dreamed up fictitious "rights" for these enemy combatants who had violated the rules of war. Nobody thought we had to prove that we were nicer than the Nazis by bending over backward.

Bending over backward is a very bad position from which to try to defend yourself. Nobody in those days confused bending over backward with "the rule of law," as Barack Obama did recently. Bending over backward is the antithesis of the rule of law. It is depriving the people of the protection of their laws, in order to pander to mushy notions among the elite.

Even under the Geneva Convention, enemy soldiers have no right to be turned loose before the war is over. Terrorists-- "militants" or "insurgents" for those of you who are squeamish-- have declared open-ended war against America. It is open-ended in time and open-ended in methods, including beheadings of innocent civilians. President Obama can ban the phrase "war on terror" but he cannot ban the terrorists' war on us. That war continues, so there is no reason to turn terrorists loose before it ends. They chose to make it that kind of war. We don't need to risk American lives to prove that we are nicer than they are.

The great Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that law is not some "brooding omnipresence in the sky." It is a set of explicit rules by which human beings structure their lives and their relationships with one another.

Those who choose to live outside those laws, whether terrorists or pirates, can be-- and have been-- shot on sight. Squeamishness is neither law nor morality. And moral exhibitionism is beneath contempt, when it sacrifices the safety of those who live within the law for the sake of self-satisfied preening, whether in editorial offices or in the White House.

As if it is not enough to turn cut-throats loose to cut throats again, we are now contemplating legal action against Americans who wrung information about international terrorist operations out of captured terrorists.

Does nobody think ahead to what this will mean-- for many years to come-- if people trying protect this country from terrorists have to worry about being put behind bars themselves? Do we need to have American intelligence agencies tip-toeing through the tulips when they deal with terrorists?

In his visit to CIA headquarters, President Obama pledged his support to the people working there and said that there would be no prosecutions of CIA agents for prior actions. Then he welshed on that in a matter of hours by leaving the door open for such prosecutions, which the left has been clamoring for, both inside and outside of Congress.

Repercussions extend far beyond issues of the day. It is bad enough that we have a glib and sophomoric narcissist in the White House. What is worse is that whole nations that rely on the United States for their security see how easily our president welshes on his commitments. So do other nations, including those with murderous intentions toward us, our children and grandchildren.


How Jewish should Israel be?

Israel’s Independence Day, the 5th of Iyar according to the Jewish calendar, falls on April 29th this year. This is always an occasion to reflect on Israel’s prospects, and, as always, there is good news and bad news.

Earlier this week the head of the Palestinian Authority, Muhammed Abbas, once again ruled out recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Hamas clearly wants to continue violent confrontation with Israel, but Abbas prefers a peace agreement that leads to the long-term erosion of the Jewish character of Israel—through, for example, immigration to Israel of the descendants of the Palestinian refugees of 1947.

Analysts have long assumed that demographics constitutes the greatest long-term threat to Israel—the “Arab womb” overwhelming the Jews. More recent data, however, suggests that rising Jewish fertility and falling Arab fertility are likely to keep the ratio of Jews to Arabs close to the present four-to-one-level for the foreseeable future. In 1969, Jewish births in the area west of the Jordan River formed only sixty-nine percent of the total. By 2008, the proportion had risen to seventy-five percent. Israel has by far the highest birth rate in the industrial world.

New immigration, however, is low in part because Jews outside of Israel evince weaker identification with the Jewish state, and new emigration is high, in part, because Israelis see less reason to live at risk in a country whose national purpose has become less clear to them. Is Israel simply another liberal democracy that happens to be inhabited mainly by Jews and maintains the sort of “kinship-immigration” policy that Germany also has? Or is Israel a Jewish state first and foremost?

In a secular world operating according to liberal ideology, a Jewish state seems something of an anachronism. A large body of opinion wants Israel to dissolve into a single state with the Palestinians and abandon its Jewish character outright. This is the view of New York University’s Tony Judt, for example. In an often-cited essay for the New York Review of Books in 1993, Judt denounced the fact that Israel “is an ethnic majority defined by language, or religion, or antiquity, or all three at the expense of inconvenient local minorities,” in which “Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges” that do not belong in “a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law.”

Israel also faces internal pressure to conform to secular liberal criteria. At the same time that Israeli voters chose a nationalist government as a response to security concerns, other parts of Israeli society reflect a paralysis of purpose that may do as much long-term damage to Israel as the external threats. Azure magazine, a quarterly published by the Shalem Center of Jerusalem, has for years drawn attention to the actions of Israel’s Supreme Court. In the Spring 2009 issue, attorneys Joel H. Golovensky and Ariel Gilboa argue that the rigorous application of liberal principles has led the Supreme Court to disrupt the core idea of the Zionist project: to settle Jews in the Land of Israel.

In a set of rulings, the Court has compelled housing developments built by the private Jewish National Fund to accept Israeli Arab residents. This seems a minor issue, when compared to headlines about Iran’s nuclear ambitions or Hamas rocket attacks, but it goes to the Jewish state’s greatest long-term vulnerability: its desire to be Jewish. The issue is not whether Arab citizens of Israel should have access to housing but whether they may demand access to any housing.

The Court has argued that the rights of all Israeli citizens to equal treatment override other concerns and justify judicial compulsion of private associations. But what are these other concerns? Security is one. As the authors quote Ruth Gavison, former head of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, “In the context of the ongoing conflict, Israel is justified in establishing Jewish towns with the express purpose of preventing the contiguity of Arab settlement both within Israel and with the Arab states across the border: Such contiguous settlement invites irredentism and secessionist claims, and neutralizing the threat of secession is a legitimate goal.”

The Azure authors add, “Preserving the Jewish character of various communities dispersed throughout Israel, especially relatively small ones, is therefore as much an inevitable consequence of geopolitical reality as it is both historically justified and supported by commonly accepted international norms.”

Apart from the security aspect, though, a broader principal is involved, as Golovensky and Gilboa observe: “In several important ways, the state of Israel was founded as an attempt to create a framework of affirmative action—political, legal, and cultural—for the Jewish people as a whole. Despite Palestinian allegations concerning the historical injustice they have suffered, from a broader perspective, Zionism is based solidly on the principle of justice.”

From the Zionist vantage point, the state of Israel has a responsibility to the Jewish people as a whole, including prospective immigrants from the Diaspora, many of whom may be seeking residence in Israel as remedy against prospective threats. For the Jews of the former Soviet Union, that was not a minor issue. Nor is it today for the Jews of France. In that sense, what appears anomalous at the local level, namely an affirmative action policy instituted for the benefit of a majority, appears a natural response to the requirements of the tiny Jewish minority worldwide.

All depends on whether Israel sees itself as a fulfillment of the Zionist project or simply another liberal state. In the latter case, it is conceivable that the Hamas, Hizbollah, as well as the PLO and their backers among rogue states will create enough discomfort to inhibit immigration and promote emigration. Despite the surge in the Jewish fertility rate, a reversal of net immigration could over the long term undermine the Jewish State.

After all, if Israel is simply another liberal democracy indistinguishable from Belgium or Portugal, why live in a place subject to such a high level of risk? Followed to its logical conclusion, the liberal position in any case requires the liquidation of the Jewish State, just as Tony Judt demands.

Defenders of the West democracies should take a deep interest in the outcome of what might seem to be arcane legal matters in Israel. Pushed to its extreme conclusion, the secular liberal model will exclude the sacred and the traditional from public life. Of all the things sacred in the thousands of years of pre-history and history that inform Western Civilization, surely Judaism and the Jewish people are the oldest and arguably the most pertinent to the character of the West. Eroding the Jewish character of Israel is an obsession of the secular project, precisely because the Jewish people in their Third Commonwealth in the Land of Israel have such profound importance for the Christian West.



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

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

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


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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